The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, Sept. 15, 2008. 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 Voting

Between the four corners of a voting ballot are the names of people or issues, who or which, if receiving a majority of the votes cast, would become office holders or public policy. In primary elections there are often numerous people or issues from which to choose. Voters, whether they are voting on an issue or a candidate, should have the option of making their dissatisfaction known.

So often when we go to the polls to cast our vote, we leave afterwards feeling that we really didn't have a satisfactory choice. We actually didn't want either alternative.

What would be wrong with a ballot having another square with the choice "none of the above"? It should count as a dissenting vote for neither candidate or issue. This would at least show the electorate that a particular voter was dissatisfied with the choices provided.

As the system now stands, if a voter fails to cast a vote for either choice out of disgust, his vote is lost, and the person or issue garnering the largest number of votes is declared the winner, without anyone suspecting that there may have been a sizable number of voters who were disenchanted with the alternatives provided.

It might be that if enough voters cast "none of the above" votes, the powers that be could be persuaded that changes are needed, and a different approach would be taken in providing alternatives.

-- Robert Gray, Batesville, Ark.

In Response to 'A Day in My Life'

I should like to respond to the article, "A Day in My Life" by Carson Wood ("The Braille Forum," July 2008).

As a gray-headed old lady who has lived with retinitis pigmentosa for many years, I can certainly identify with the anger and frustration expressed in Wood's article. As today's young people would say, "Been there, done that." However, I'd like to offer a few thoughts which folks in Wood's situation might wish to ponder.

All of us who are blind and visually impaired desire and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect by those with whom we come in contact. However, cursing at someone who means to be helpful represents a loss of dignity on our part, and that gets us nowhere. A lesson I learned a long time ago helps me remember that, though I may not need assistance in a given situation, some other blind person in a similar setting might be in real need. The sighted individual who might otherwise be of help may resist because of an unpleasant experience they have had offering help to someone else. More than once, when I didn't need it, I've allowed myself to be "engineered" across a street or through a building and then offered a kind word of thanks. It didn't hurt my dignity, and it made the other person feel better about himself too.

On numerous occasions, when passing a car, I've heard what might sound like derisive laughter. I might have assumed it was aimed at me, but, after a moment or two, I realized that it was part of a conversation between passengers in the car. And now, in public settings, we have to contend with people around us talking on their cell phones (that's another subject).

The longer a newly blind person is out and about, the more comfortable he will become with what currently appear to be very stressful mobility challenges. One day that intense concentration will become just "part of the scene" and a good walk will be as pleasurable as it always was. Honest, been there, done that!

-- Norma Krajczar, Morehead City, N.C.

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