Texas Blind Prom by Sarah Wilson

Issue 5

For the students at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, prom night is a momentous occasion. This year I offered my services as the prom photographer for TSBVI. From the moment the girls began trying on their dresses in their dorm rooms, I was there, taking pictures, filly immersed in the excitement and energy of the day. Through the hair and make-up and final primping, and on the bus ride from the school to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the excitement and anticipation was palpable. For these kids, on this day, it was Prom - and it was a big deal.

I was introduced to the blind community in 2005 when I began working as a stills photographer and field produced on the PBS-funded film, The Eyes of Me, a documentary about four students at the Texas School for the Blind. Over the last three years, I have gotten to know many of the students at the school and their experiences have really challenged my ideas about what it would mean to be a blind teenager.

The day of prom started with groups of boys and girls getting together, talking about the night to come. For many of the kids this was the most formal event they'd ever attend. One thing that separates blind prom from other proms is that the kids at this school dance were actually dancing. Nobody was shyly lingering on the perimeter or silently staring at their feet - these kids knew that tonight was their night and they weren't going to miss a minute of it, except of course, to stand in line to have their portrait made.

Sometimes people ask me why I photographed blind people if they are never going to see the images. It's funny that I have to remind them that these pictures will be shared with parents and friends - and the kids certainly appreciated having somebody there to document how great they looked that night.

The time I've spent with the kids at the school has convinced me that my own preconceptions about people with disabilities needed to be challenged, and with this project, Blind Prom, I hope to challenge the preconceptions of others.

To view more of Sarah's work, please visit her website.