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There is one thing about Star Trek: The Next Generation that has always bothered me. Why is it that Geordi is the only one that has a visor?

There was literally no one else ever on the show that had one of those things. Is he really the only person in the Federation that was born blind? Even if he was, you would think that they would have them available for sighted people just so they can pick up all the cool wavelengths Geordi can see. How many times has he saved the day because he saw some interfero-whatsit-tachyon particle?

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    If you're asking for an in-canon answer, there is none. This is just sloppy writing on the part of the showrunners. Berman and Braga in that era, if I remember correctly. Same reason that robots were invented only in season 5 of TNG, rather than hundreds of years before (well, that one may have had a little to do with per-episode budgets). – John O Jul 9 '12 at 20:42
  • @JohnO Are you not considering Data to be a robot? – Xantec Jul 9 '12 at 20:53
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    @Xantec Lt. Cmdr. Data: "I am an android, not a robot." from Déjà Q – NominSim Jul 9 '12 at 20:56
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    @NominSim An android is a class of robot. This would be analogous to me saying "I am a human, not a mammal." – Xantec Jul 10 '12 at 14:17
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    A similar human statement would be "I am a human, not an animal!" And you wouldn't argue that humans are far enough removed from the 'animal' category that this would be true, not biologically but in a mental and emotional capacity - And Data is far removed from a mere 'robot' in both those regards, even as he struggles with emotions. – Zibbobz Mar 18 '14 at 15:34
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The visor actually gives Geordi chronic headaches, not something that people would want to deal with at all times. Additionally he was told during one episode that technology had evolved to the point where he could get prosthetics. He would however lose the ability to view the additional wavelengths, and he didn't want to give up that ability.

Given the choice, most people I feel would choose to utilize a prosthetic approach, and look more "normal", especially with them not necessarily deriving a benefit from viewing the various spectrums that Geordi does being an engineer.

Another way to think of it is to ask yourself, why doesn't everyone now walk around with infrared goggles on? Because you'd look very silly. (Don't get me started with the "Nerd" glasses trend going on in the NBA.) Geordi himself eventually (as in the latter TNG-cast movies) exchanged his visor for a less conspicuous look(though this might also have been because on quite a few occasions the fact that he had the visor almost got him and others killed/tortured/captured).

Edit: I was going to try to look up the specific episodes I mentioned to provide sources, but it seems an arduous task for something so innocuous.

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    One prime example, the Klingon Duras sisters were able to bug his visor and see the Enterprise's shield frequency in Generations. – Michael Brown Jul 9 '12 at 21:40
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    @MikeBrown Yeah there are a lot, the Duras sisters abducted him, the Romulans captured him and tortured him to attempt to assassinate a Klingon governor, when Lore turned Data against the crew he was experimented on, all because of the visor. – NominSim Jul 9 '12 at 21:49
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    lose the ability to view the additional wavelengths, and he didn't want to give up that ability So he's both blind and a geek. Even disregarding the headaches, that could well have been enough to make it so rare that we just never encountered the others – Izkata Jul 9 '12 at 23:12
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Geordi may have been the only crew-member with a VISOR but he wasn't the only blind character in Star Trek to use a sensing device.

In the original series, Miranda Jones uses an advanced Sensor Web to view her surroundings. The capabilities of this piece of kit seem very similar to Geordi's VISOR. Note that neither Kirk, nor Spock show bafflement at the technology itself, just the cleverness with which it's been hidden.

enter image description here

MCCOY: I'm sorry, Miranda, but you must be realistic. You are blind, and there are some things you simply cannot do.

(Spock touches the decorated over-dress she always wears.)

SPOCK: Evidently a highly sophisticated sensor web. My compliments to you, and to your dressmaker.

KIRK: Yes, of course. It's the only reasonable explanation. You can't see and Kollos can't hurt you.

SPOCK: An elegant solution. but I fail to understand why you apparently try to conceal your blindness, Doctor Jones.

KIRK: I think I understand. You said it. Pity is the worst of all.

MIRANDA: Pity, which I hate. Do you think you can gather more information with your eyes than I can with my sensors? I could play tennis with you, Captain Kirk. I might even beat you. I am standing exactly one metre, four centimetres from the door. Can you judge distance that accurately? I can even tell you how fast your heart is beating.

It's fairly obvious that in the future, blindness is relatively rare. When added to the quasi-military nature of Starfleet, that would certainly explain the relatively small number of blind characters that we see.

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He was the only one on the Enterprise. Nothing was ever said about him being unique in either Starfleet or the Federation. One could assume that his visor (excluding customizations to attempt to transmit what he was seeing) was by no means unique technology within the Federation; potentially there were other similarly sight-assisted personnel serving on other vessels. On the other hand, both Worf and Data were explictly (and repeatedly) described as unique in Starfleet.

From a real-world perspective: Geordi is blind (but has to be able to function somehow) because Roddenberry wanted to depict a future of inclusivity. It's part of the rationale behind Worf's character as well. Although Data's primary dramatic function is to be an outside observer of humanity, he's another example of an inclusive Starfleet.

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    We don't even know he was the only one on the Enterprise. With over 1,000 people standard on board, we certainly never met them all, nor was someone on the ship even likely to ever meet them all. – eidylon Sep 11 '16 at 5:50
  • @eidylon Fair point, but the fuss they made over it would seem to suggest that he was the only Enterprise crewmember, and very likely the only person aboard in need of such a device. But, as you point out, it's not certain to be so. – Anthony X Sep 11 '16 at 14:54
  • it can be implied that he is the only one with a VISOR. At the very least, he is the most technically adept / highest ranking. In the Season 7 episode "Interface" when Beverly says "The interface is perfect for Geordi because his VISOR inputs allow the probe to transmit information directly into his cerebral cortex." it could be indicative that there was nobody else on board who could use the interface in this way – NKCampbell Mar 27 '17 at 21:20
  • It was brilliant, a blind man piloting a starship. I seem to remember some dialog in one of the episodes that implied the VISOR was used on others as well. Or maybe it was in the TNG Tech Manual? – William Thompson Apr 7 '17 at 15:19

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