This introductory chapter discusses the place of the blind in French society today, covering legal definitions of blindness; some epidemiological data; and social legislation. It then turns to the origins of prejudices against blindness. It is argued that current attitudes toward disabled people remain a prisoner of a past. History, to the extent that it permits us to better grasp the origins of certain individual and collective behaviors, the sources of the exclusion and suffering of disabled persons, plays a role in any reflection on the social problems engendered by handicaps today.
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