Today, Thai Massage given or taught by the blind or by visually impaired therapists has not only become quite common in Thailand but also a sought-after massage treatment and training service. An important reason for people to seek out treatments of blind massage practitioners (or “Blind Massage” as it’s usually called) is the idea that blind people have a heightened sensibility of touch and feeling, which would make them excellent Thai masseurs.
A Bit of History
One of the big simulators of Thai Massage practiced by the blind and visually impaired in Thailand was the Thai Massage Revival project from 1985, which in in itself was largely energized by a global surge in seeking traditional, alternative and complementary treatments as opposed to Western medicine which had come up against its limits in certain health areas.
The effect of the revival project and the global interest was that Thai Massage and Thai Traditional medicine became increasingly popular in Thailand, a demand pushed by both local Thai people and foreigners i.e. tourists. Another factor of growth, later, was the Asian economic and financial crises in the years 1997-1999, which made Thai people increasingly return to cheaper local Thai traditional medicine modalities.
Not that Thai Massage given by the blind is new in Thailand, but national educational focus on structured vocational teachings to give massage proved to be a good addition to the usual handicraft, sewing, agriculture or carpentry courses for the blind. Moreover, blind people don’t need expensive tools to give massage sessions, just strong hands, eagerness to learn Thai Massage, and willingness to give service to people.
In Thailand today, there are several organizations and schools that occupy themselves with offering training courses, work-experience and creating employment options for blind or visually impaired people, apart from other activities, such as teaching them day-to-day skills, supporting them with academic careers, and other education and support.
Although there are no reliable statistics about the actual number of blind people offering Thai Massage sessions, it’s thought that currently more than 1,000 blind massage therapists work in Thailand. By the way, to put things into perspective, you will encounter “blind massage” treatment (and training) offerings in other Southeast Asian countries also.
Blind Massage Treatment Shops
Not only the schools for the blind usually offer both Thai Massage training and treatments, also the so-called Blind Massage Shops that offer treatments by the blind or visually impaired, often give in-house trainings for their employees.
As already said, it’s a common idea that blind masseurs have added sensitivity and are usually very good practitioners. That’s all true, but there’s more to it. In fact, generally, blind Thai Massage therapists have had intensive (vocational) training, making it a safe and responsible choice to get treated by them.
You will also notice that notably the blind practitioners in Thailand use massage table-like constructions (actually more like beds really) to give sessions, which for them have more comfort and ease, because a table gives clear reference points for a practitioner who can’t see (well). Nevertheless, there are certainly also blind massage practitioners that give Thai Massage sessions on the floor on a mat, in the traditional way.
Most cities in Thailand have one or more Blind Massage Shops and/or Blind Schools. Shops offer at least general Thai Massage treatments and sometimes also Thai Massage therapy and Thai Foot Massage. Prices are usually in the budget range.
Famous Blind Thai Massage Therapists and Teachers
In Thailand, there are currently a few famous blind Thai Massage therapists I’d like to mention. By the way, they are also (sought-after) Thai Massage teachers. Just check out the links below pointing to the reviews I’ve written about them.