Letters to the Editor

The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, Sept. 16, 2013. Letters are limited to 300 words or fewer. All submissions must include the author's name and location. Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

On one hand, I can talk about how the sighted can go to a local store and buy a paperback book for $5 or $10, and I can go on and on about the braille copy of this particular book being ridiculously priced for any blind person who wants the same pleasure of reading that text.  I can go further with this, where I am starting a trivia entertainment business.
The Perkins Library recommended a book, which I will assume costs $10 in a store as a paperback because it is 67 print pages.  It is a book about the history of religion and of the world.  If I want this same book in braille, not only for my trivia business but simply because I want to read it as the sighted would, I would have to pay $150 for one copy.  What can we do to put a stop to this madness?  Yet we are supposed to keep up with the sighted as much as possible.
Your thoughts are welcome.
- Bob Branco, New Bedford, Mass.

Re: California Council of the Blind Sues Alameda County over Barriers to Voting

The same problem exists in Minnesota. For the past two election cycles, I've used the "handicap-accessible" voting machines and encountered problems with them. The on-site volunteers claim that the machines work properly (they do, unless you actually try to use them!) but are unwilling to take trouble reports. The county office in charge of the machines won't do anything about it, and the second time I called, they refused to talk with me because I'd called two years before with the same complaints.
I did find a workaround for using the machine and was able to complete my ballot (correcting the "mistakes" or built-in biases of the machine), which in Minnesota is a paper ballot printed by the machine.
The accessible features of these machines must be tested to ensure their effectiveness prior to opening the machines to the public on Election Day.
Let us note that the programming in these machines may include the ability to modify votes according to a preset bias only on Election Day, a problem that does not appear when the machine is tested on any other day. I encountered what seemed to be just such a programming bias, as I mentioned above. I would caution all voters, no matter which method you use to vote, to double-check your choices to make sure they're the ones you intended them to be. Even if the programming errors are honest and innocent, they should not remain in a public release of the software.
- Ken Moses, Stillwater, Minn.