Some may think Michael Hingson has lived a charmed life. With the help of his guide dog, he survived the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He barely missed a 1979 flight out of Chicago that tragically crashed on take-off, killing everyone aboard. His book topped the New York Times best-seller list on the day it was published.
Hingston will talk about his life and “turning the tables on terrorism” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Walters State Community College. His appearance is part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
His book, “Thunder Dog,” recounts how he made it from the 78th floor of World Trade Center Tower One after first making sure the company’s employees and guests were headed to safety.
In casual conversation, Hingson doesn’t mention that he’s blind. He doesn’t talk about getting kicked off the school bus when he was assigned his first guide dog. He doesn’t talk about how difficult it is to earn a master’s degree in physics when a faculty member did not think blind people should hold degrees in the advanced sciences. And he won’t tell you how much work is involved in supervising regional sales teams for a Fortune 500 company.
He does talk about the talent lost when people are overlooked.
“We should not assume that because a person does not have eyesight that they cannot think and cannot be as normal in the world as the rest of us,” Hingson said recently in a telephone interview.
He also thinks a blind man escaping amid the chaos and loss of 9/11 is not amazing.
“Blindness isn’t the biggest disability I face. The real disability I face, like so many other individuals, is the misconceptions and attitudes people have,” he added.
Corporate sponsors for the event are DeRoyal and Terry, Terry & Stapleton. Organizational sponsors are Walters State Community College, the Smoky Mountains Area Workforce Investment Board, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Tennessee Corporate Connections. Volunteer Blind Industries is also a sponsor.
Hingson’s speech will be followed by a booksigning. His speech begins at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the International Lyceum, located inside the Student Services Building on Walters State’s Morristown campus. The event will be videostreamed to MMH-210 on the Sevier County Campus; WSGC-209 on the Greeneville/Greene County Campus and the WSCE 080 on the Claiborne County Campus.
The event is free and open to everyone. The event is also a Workforce Employer Outreach Committee (WEOC) event and WEOC employers may RSVP to Adina Chumley at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information, contact Mary Little, coordinator of disability services at Walters State, (423) 585-6860.