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Blind 9/11 survivor shares story

By Jim Conrad, jconrad@wcyb.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:44:08 PM CST
Updated On: Oct 28 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

It's hard enough for any of us to imagine being in one of the World Trade Center towers when the first plane crashed deliberately into the building -- but imagine if you were blind, with just your guide dog to lead you out down 78 floors.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

It's hard enough for any of us to imagine being in one of the World Trade Center towers when the first plane crashed deliberately into the building -- but imagine if you were blind, with just your guide dog to lead you out down 78 floors.

That's exactly the situation that the speaker at a disability forum found himself in.

Best-selling author and inspirational speaker, Michael Hingson held his audience spellbound with his account of making his way down from the 78th floor of tower one of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

Neither he nor anyone heading down those many stairs had any idea what was going on when they were told to evacuate the building.

He has been blind since birth. "September 11th for me was a day that proved that I could do the same things that other people did. There's no reason a blind person shouldn't or couldn't be anywhere else that anybody else might be, including being in a place including an emergency or disaster," Hingson said.

He spoke to the Northeast Tennessee Diversity in Employment Consortium, a group dedicated to giving those with disabilities a chance at employment and teaching employers about hiring someone with a disability.

Hingson reinforced their message. "Blindness or any other so called physical disability isn't the problem. It's more our attitudes for a lot of things that happen to us when you deal with change in our lives. Really, it's not the change or not the challenge, but how we deal with the change or the challenge," he says.

It brought him to write a best-selling book, Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog and The triumph of Trust at Ground Zero. "9/11 is certainly a part of my life, but it's not my whole life. 9/11 is the evidence and the proof that my belief about my capabilities as a blind person is accurate and true," he said.

He also told us that we may be the ones putting the limitations on the disabled, not the other way around.