Reader’s Forum – Week of October 21, 2013

For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

Alice wrote:

First of all, about the organization for the blind, I think they all do some good, but there is too much in fighting in the blind community that divides us rather than unites us. I think we should try and work together, not only in the organization but as a group. We should try to help each other rather than put each other down. For example, we should try to help people who are unable to work, by trying to encourage people to find jobs and help them in the process. It is also a good idea for people who are not working to try and find volunteer work which sometimes can lead to employment. I can understand that people are afraid to lose their benefits if they start working, but in life we all need to take risks, to be able to move along and I think it is time for the blind to get together and go to our rehab agencies and tell them that we are tired of evaluations and other non essential programs and demand that they help us find employment. I think if we make our voices heard the organizations will do more in this regard. Another suggestion I have is that people who are not working form a nonprofit organization to help people find employment.

I am presently running an organization called Helping Hands for the Disabled of NYC. We do a lot to help the community. I have never gotten a request to help someone find employment, however I would look forward to the challenge. If you are in the NYC area, and want to find a job, give me a call at 718-606-9712.

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Kathy wrote in response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed last week:

I was asked who dresses me in the morning for work, umm really crazy so told them my husband. Can I feel the colour of my clothes? Still think the Guide dog who is referred to as a blind dog takes the winning place.

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Kathy wrote in response to Sandra’s comment:

Do understand your frustrations of partly sighted people getting a guide dog and that one feels only when you are totally blind you are then blind. I too have met blind persons who sit down and read the magazine in print. So how to correct that? I am a person who has had four dogs. When I got my first one I could see a lot but not labels and such. See a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa is such an eye condition. It is totally night blindness and our day vision is very confusing. We cannot identify steps against ramps. So believe me I did need my dog as actually could see things but not see enough to be safe.

Some R.P. blind persons can see more long sighted so even more confusing for them and also not safe to not have a dog. So this could really become a story on who does qualify.

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Gabby wrote in response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed last week:

I get asked some stupid questions but only by little children who do not know better. I present disability awareness presentations for Girl Scouts, and some of them are as young as 5, so they ask stupid questions, so that is okay with me. However, I had a bad experience with an adult who didn’t ask a stupid question, but she did assume. I think that ADA, instead of Americans with Disabilities Act, should have stood for “Ask, don’t assume”. Everyone assumes that I am either helpless, contagious, or something else, all because the stupid people can’t imagine doing it if they don’t have sight, so they just assume I can’t. One adult rushed her 4-year-old daughter who had been talking to me away from me when I said I was blind, whispering something about “she can’t see”. I really wish that those people were blind and could see what we all go through. All the people in the school cafeteria talk to my helper about what I want to eat instead of to me. The sad part is: the helper even lets this happen, and the helper has worked with people who are blind for over 20 years, so that is extremely sad that someone who is trained in the blind lets that happen. Also, once at Girl Scouts, an older lady was cooking or serving food or something, and when I asked what I want, she began, “Wait. How does she…” and let her sentence trail off. I’ve also had stupid people say, “Guess who?” I’ve also had people who have lifted the tip of my cane up off the ground when I’m looking for something. Sadly, these people are said to have been trained on how to help people who are blind, so that is extremely sad. In fact, one of those people is my helper, the same idiot who lets those cafeteria ladies talk to her, then she says, “Oh, I didn’t even notice” like she’s the stupidest person around, which she probably isn’t, but she’s pretty close. I know I have a lot to say, but my point is, little children can ask stupid questions and stupid things can be done without them being stupid, but adults, especially those who are supposedly trained in helping those who are blind, shouldn’t be able to get away with this craziness.

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Dennis wrote:

The United States has had some blind people on television: from someone who played a role in the kids show, Rug Rats, to a winner of a cooking show. We also had a blind contestant on the hit show American Idol. So the entertainment industry is taking some progressive steps.

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David wrote:

I think the number of blind people who are out of work is largely due to the fact that they want the job, not so much a job that is satisfying, but the job and if they can’t get one most blind don’t want to really work. The 70% or 75% or whatever it is nowadays is kind of out of touch with reality. There are plenty of jobs blind people can do if they can only get past their egos. A job is a job no matter what kind it is and it should be satisfying to the recipient. I am not saying that we should be grateful or just take anything, but learn to be more patient, but not let others walk all over us either. We need to try and educate others when we are traveling and be more respectful of each other and the sighted.

Sighted people really don’t have much of a clue about blindness, they lots of times go by what they have seen other blind people do in the past. We need to really mind ourselves and try to display good behavior, we are constantly being watched and judged, one bad apple ruins it for the rest of us. As far as the ACB and The NFB, they are not employment agencies; they are supposed to advocate for us and possibly assist in looking for jobs by providing resources for us to find jobs, etc.

I agree with Sandra about guide dog use, I really feel that only totally blind people should have a guide dog. Too many times I have seen high partial vision guide dog users just leading their dogs around only by a leash. Then they like to sometimes leave their dogs home, saying something like “it’s too hot or cold” or “I’m helping someone else cross the streets and its easier leaving the dog home”, I say to that you really don’t have any business needing a dog if your vision is that good, next thing we might see someone who got a dog start getting their vision back and driving with the dog in the front seat of the car. I also feel that there should be some kind of mental evaluation to get a dog, I know a woman in Kansas City who is just like a marine drill sergeant with her last dog, she has a new dog now, but the last dog was just like watching Gomer Pyle, there should be some kind of mental stability for getting a dog. People who get dogs and cannot keep them just make it harder for the rest of those who really need them.
It is respectable to be blind, treat others the way you would want to be treated.
In response to Gene’s response to my response in the Reader’s forum about dog guide users on the amount of vision they have, I have seen a few dog guide users not using their dog guide properly, which is not using their dog’s harness, more or less having a dog for a pet is the impression that I’m getting from these people with dog guides, some people I know use their dogs when it seems to be more of a pleasure than a need, “well I guess I’ll leave the dog home today, it’s not really needed, like having someone read something to you because you don’t happen to have your reading glasses. I am really in favor of people who really need dog guides go for it, but there are still many who really shouldn’t have one because of their skills of travel and mental state of mind, some people I’ve seen are abusive to their dogs, I’ve seen it at conventions and on the streets.

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Zerline wrote in response to Sandra:

While I’m going to respect your views, I beg to differ with you on who should and should not receive a guide dog.

First of all if you waited a long time to receive your replacement or first dog, then you should be questioning the school in which you applied to as to why there is such a long wait for you to get serviced. How could you think that a school is taking someone over someone else just because they have sight or not?

You don’t know their condition or what they can see or not see, just because they are reading a newspaper doesn’t mean they can see something else. It was your choice to wait until you couldn’t see anything to apply for a guide dog, and that is totally your right. Thank God I happen to have some vision, but cannot see far distances, should I then not have a guide dog according to you? My dogs have not been wasted, for just as a person uses a cane to identify that there is something wrong, the guide dog does the same.

I had friends who had RP, and were able to do fine during the day at times but were at a loss when it became cloudy or dark. So to narrow it down just to the totally blind to get guide dogs is just not your call at all. If any school operates like that I’d make sure not to apply for service from them.

Reading your post really got me angry, but I then realized that that’s your opinion and that’s all it is. Blessings.

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Anne wrote:

On the government shutdown, President Obama should be there at meetings. We’ve had government shutdowns in the past and the President was always there at every meeting. On blind people owning guns, a blind person doesn’t need a gun to protect themselves, they can take self defense classes.

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LeDon submitted a poem titled A New Way To Be:

I have lost my sight and I can not see.
Oh, why has this happened to me?
Is it God’s unknown plan?
Or am I just an unlucky man?
Blindness will not be the end of me.
I will find a new way to be.
So, now birds singing in the trees
The whispering of a soft summer breeze
Are all sweet sounds for me to hear.
As I learn to see with my ear.

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Wesley wrote in response to George’s comments about the government shutdown:

It is apparent that there is a vast divide in America, and a strong belief by a minority of people that a majority don’t want an Affordable Health Care plan. I would suppose those people must be the super rich or folks who only are serving themselves, as they are in a clear minority. I know of next to no one who doesn’t desire affordable health care, and the friends I have in Massachusetts are very pleased with a similar plan that has already been in place for a few years. To even imply that our President is blocking negotiations is totally ridiculous, as it was the Republican party that effectively pitted the federal budget against the Affordable Care Act by aiming to strip its funding. I call that hostage taking, and over 51% of Americans agree that it was these poor actions of Congress that has set us on the edge of a financial disaster. Go ahead and blame our President, but in my view this just demonstrates how some media and personal hatred for President Obama has created a misguided perception that he is holding up negotiations. Would you negotiate with terrorists? As in my opinion that is exactly the true nature of the behavior of the GOP at this time.

Response to Sandra: So Sandra, if I can see something, forget about a guide dog? Those are pretty strong words. Let’s say I have vision that allows me to see centrally, with no peripheral vision. With this kind of vision, I walk into objects that are outside of my central vision. It takes lots of scanning to get the full view of a street before I cross, or trip up or down stairs. But you say that case doesn’t need a guide dog. Now, let’s say I have extremely cloudy vision that effectively only allows me to see a few feet in front of me. I can’t read signs, see the traffic light, or even find the front door. But, no, I have some vision, so no guide dog for me. Need I go on? I find that tolerance is the key to understanding that we are all unique individuals, and what may not work well for you, works perfectly fine for me. If I am concerned about my safety, and find that a guide dog decreases risk, than certainly using one has its benefits regardless of whether I am completely blind or have limited vision.

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Karen wrote:

Hello, I am commenting on the person who said that they want guide dogs just for totally blind folks. I feel that this remark shows extreme ignorance of different eye conditions and I am extremely familiar with different eye conditions as I used to have to review eye reports for my job years ago. First of all, folks’ eye conditions can deteriorate leaving them helpless on the street. When I first got my guide dog, my first dog, yes, I did have some vision but was tested on the street by my guide dog school for how much vision I had left. They asked what details I could still see while walking down the street. Later on, this was a great thing as my vision then took a huge fall in my late twenties. I had a massive glaucoma attack on top of R.O.P. I became aware that I also had three other eye conditions on top of the two just discussed. I had four operations on my eyes because the condition is extremely rare. The type of glaucoma I have affects internal organs as well. So I almost lost my life and the operations were to save my life not restore vision. My point, don’t exclude partially sighted folks from receiving guide dogs because their condition may not be a permanent thing. Sure some may have more vision and they pay for this by misjudging the dog’s actions but later on their vision goes, and because they still have their dogs they can continue with life. If I didn’t have mine, I would have been left unable to function on the street. My dog also gave me the strength to rehab myself and get out of my bed after all those operations. She was my reason for living and continuing with my life.

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