The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, Jan. 16, 2007. 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.
Regarding the Winter Issue
The winter 2007 edition of "The Braille Forum" sets an example for other organizations to follow. From the lighthearted humor story of a blind man standing guard over a stranger's luggage to the commentary on blind athletes, this publication demonstrates the diverse opinions and perspectives that each of us needs to share. Far too many organizations have become one-dimensional in their approaches and create publications more representative of self-serving propaganda. I do not necessarily agree with the authors in many of the Forum articles; however, I really appreciate the sharing of their viewpoints and experiences.
As for the article about blind athletes, I understand many of the points presented, yet have a differing opinion. It is true that there is not a level playing field for blind athletes; in order for many of us to compete, we need a helping hand. Even with the best of technology, no one is entirely independent.
As for the athletic achievements of Erik Weihenmayer and Rachael Scdoris, what they have done goes far beyond athletics. Both dared to dream, and, in doing so, showed us how to fly over the rainbow. Erik climbed to new heights while Rachael raced across Alaska. They did so by asserting themselves and accepting a little help from their friends. So what if the rules had to be stretched or some added accommodations were needed? That is a reality check.
These two were certainly no different from anyone else who pursues a dream. Sacrifices and choices have to be made. You face criticism and failure. Perhaps the logical thing would be to take that job and forget these less-than-lucrative challenges. Dreams usually don't result in huge paychecks, but there is a price to pay for losing sight of your dreams. In the case of Erik and Rachael, they have enriched their lives in ways that many of us can only dream of.
I deeply resent people who tell their offspring, "If you quit your job, get it back because you're not moving home." Not the blindness, but the lack of accommodation, may affect a person's ability to do the job. I'm tired of blind people criticizing others by stating that "the accommodation is not cost-effective, or accommodation alters the activity or facility." Only the person concerned knows for sure. Accommodations can help sighted people as well. If people don't like accommodations, then let those silent cars do their thing.
One more comment here. It is because of all this name-calling and one-upmanship that takes place within both organizations that are supposed to be advocates for blind people that change is practically non-existent. I don't see this kind of in-fighting among other disability groups. This is why people like me become and are very frustrated, and very reluctant to join either organization. The other thing that I have noticed is that whenever you criticize something that you believe is contrary to what they believe, they tell you to get involved, rather than recognizing the points that one makes. The same leaders continue to hold office, and nothing really changes for the good of people who are blind. It's not about blind people, but who has the power and who controls and sets the agenda.
I wish to set the record straight about this U.S. currency debate, as many blind people feel currency should be identifiable by touch (notches, raised dots, or differently textured bills). In Japan, bills are identifiable by touch. However, the unemployment situation here in the United States, unlike that in Japan, is in dire need of repair. Blind people had better wake up, unite, and then we can make progress with reference to civil rights.
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