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Archive for Sunday, October 19, 2008

White Cane Walk makes visible the daily challenges of blindness

October 19, 2008

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Luther Fuller, 8, and his mother, Brendy Latare, walk Saturday through downtown Lawrence in the White Cane Walk. The Douglas County Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind conducted the walk after White Cane Safety Day on Wednesday.

Luther Fuller, 8, and his mother, Brendy Latare, walk Saturday through downtown Lawrence in the White Cane Walk. The Douglas County Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind conducted the walk after White Cane Safety Day on Wednesday.

About 30 people tied yellow scarves around their arms and strolled down Massachusetts Street in an effort Saturday to educate the community about blindness.

"We are demonstrating with our canes and our dogs, the independence and freedom that we have," said Jim Canaday, vice president of the Douglas County Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. "We are out among the people, the public. We give them a chance to see us."

The White Cane Walk, which went from 11th Street to Seventh Street, followed White Cane Safety Day, a national event on Wednesday, recognizing the rights of blind people.

Canaday said the challenges that blind people face in educating the public are different from those for people with mobility impairments.

"We face a different kind of a prejudice, a kind of well-meaning, soft-glove sort of prejudice," he said. "Low expectations, and 'the blind person needs protection' and stuff like that. We need to be allowed to do as much as we can."

Rob Tabor, benefits advocate for Independence Inc., said that there is a continuous need for public education and that misperceptions still occur, particularly in the workplace.

"There seems to be a glass ceiling when it comes to situations like employment," he said. "Sixty-five to 70 percent of blind people are either unemployed or underemployed. These are national numbers. : We keep on pressing with public awareness events like these."

KU student Rachel Magario, who also participated in Saturday's walk, said she has never been turned down for a job, but she agreed that the most important area for public education about blindness is in the professional world.

"When I go to interviews, sometimes people ask me, 'How are you going to write, or how are you going to do spreadsheets?'" she said. "Sometimes, I have an answer for them. A lot of times, I don't have an answer. But, just like anybody else, I have the right to learn. I'm a quick learner."

Comments

bearded_gnome 5 years, 5 months ago

dena,you are 100% correct, he should not have a dog guide until he is good with a cane. also, he needs to be responsible enough to use a dog, dog and human teams work as partners. what you're describing is quite common about him using his cane, called denial. there is only so much you can do about it. www.nfb.orgalso has an organization of parents of blind children, could be very useful. and again, the blind, organizing, and advocating for themselves, having public events, handing out braille alphabet cards, magazines, lots and lots of literature, is very useful and is most certainly not condescending. that because the blind are doing it themselves!**tanetti, your brother refusing to use braille is also denial, and low vision makes that easy. unfortunately some in the educational establishment make it happen that way too by promoting use of magnification for reading far beyond its proper use. tanetti, there are devices, braille embossers galore, you connect them like a printer to a computer, put software on the computer and you can braille anything off the computer. there is a whole variety of "paperless braille displays" with what you described all the way up to 80-space displays. there are laptop computers like PacMate with I think 40-space display. you are correct, language still has basic parts, and it is still the case that we learn best from hard copy." audio is very useful for blind, but can not replace direct language contact.

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denak 5 years, 6 months ago

"Tanetti,"I'm sorry to hear about your brother. It is a constant battle with my son to use his cane. He is just determined to use the little residual sight he has if it is daylight. One day I am just going to super glue it in his hand so he doesn't "accidently lose" it again. :0)My parents aren't any help because they just say "oh that is how we were too. Most people would do that" It is soooooooooo frustrating sometimes!I told him I absolutely refuse to sign the papers for him to get a service animal until he proves to me (and his O&M teacher) that he is proficient with the cane. DenaP.S. Did you ever get the response I sent to you a few months ago about our mothers????

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Tanetti 5 years, 6 months ago

sjschlag,I believe there is a device that attaches to a computer keyboard that outputs in Braille, though I can't remember the name of it and I believe it has only a few cells at a time. There also are Braille printers, and of course a blind person could put a piece of printed material on a scanner and upload it to a computer, but that process is tedious and can result in many errors for something like a book. I agree with Dena about schooling the blind, as both my parents attended state schools for the blind (as did my younger brother), though no amount of schooling will help a person who refuses to truly admit to himself that he's blind. For example, my younger brother is legally blind and attended the Iowa school for the blind all 13 years but does not read Braille and as a result has been a virtual failure in school. In his late 20s, he still doesn't readily admit he's blind and chooses to guess his way through life and, unfortunately, look stupid when he's wrong about simple things, rather than asking for help.

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tunahelper 5 years, 6 months ago

maybe the blind people can get a job driving a bus on the T!

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sjschlag 5 years, 6 months ago

bearded_gnome,thanks for answering my questions. I was about to ask if computer technology would make braille obsolete, but we haven't really made letters, words and sentences obsolete yet either, and to experience most printed media it must be spelled out using words, letters and sentences, either on a page or a screen. That being said-Have they developed a computer-interface device that outputs in braille yet? Since we interpret so much of our information through text, wouldn't there be an incentive to outputting text information on the computer in braille, instead of through spoken words?

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tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 6 months ago

Dena: "Most of them are not going to get any kind of real, substantial understanding of what it means to be visually impaired or blind by some walk."Beginnings of awareness, one step at a time.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 6 months ago

schlag,many people believe the false premise that technology makes braille obsolete. but braille is still the only real direct contact with the language, syntax, spelling, etc., that blind people get. the new technologies are great and really have opened many new activities to the blind. however, if blind people don't study braille they are functionally illiterate.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 6 months ago

Dena,go to:www.nfb.orgtheir national organization has a page about these events "meet the blind month" for braille to be taught, lobbying has to happen and public events are vital in that. it is the opposite of condescending, and at these events braille is featured prominently. at that site, 70-75% is the figure given. please note that because of the event and other efforts of the local NFB, we're discussing this topic right here right now. the event is thus successful. also Dena, you are absolutely correct about braille literacy and the NFB's own figures show that blind people who read braille are far more likely to be employed. in individual states, NFB fights to get more braille taught to more kids. ***schlag,it is synthesized speech, most often now via a program that sends it out the sound card. synthesized speech in some form has been around for 28 years. now the software that produces it is very flexible and effective.

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sjschlag 5 years, 6 months ago

"KU student Rachel Magario, who also participated in Saturday's walk, said she has never been turned down for a job, but she agreed that the most important area for public education about blindness is in the professional world."I always see Rachel typing on her computer, and I always wonder how she interacts with it. How do blind people use computers? Is the output on the monitor/screen translated into braille? Is there a computer voice that can read that they can listen to? How does a blind person access the internet? I always hear about new advances in technology to help people with disabilities and get really excited- from a design standpoint it's a very challenging set of problems to solve, and the rewards are really great- you get to help someone become more independent. ""Sixty-five to 70 percent of blind people are either unemployed or underemployed. These are national numbers. : We keep on pressing with public awareness events like these.""I was most surprised by these numbers. Perhaps that is the next big challenge of the ADA- making employment more accessible for people with disabilities. That percentage of people should not be out of a job. Perhaps Dena has a point- educating blind people on how to read braille fluently could help them better succeed in our world. Don't forget to encourage use of emerging technologies.

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denak 5 years, 6 months ago

I don't know. There is just something about this whole white cane walk that seems condescending. Why should blind people have to educate the sighted? It isn't the responsibility of the visually impaired to educate sighted people or make them feel better. Most of them are not going to get any kind of real, substantial understanding of what it means to be visually impaired or blind by some walk.".....Sixty-five to 70 percent of blind people are either unemployed or underemployed. These are national numbers,,,,"I have heard this number but the numbers change when you factor in Braille literacy. The number of employed is substantially higher for those who are braille literate.Unfortunately, I don't think most visually impaired people are. And I think it has a lot to do with mainstreaming. I think mainstreaming is a good idea for the first few years of school but I think around 4th or 5th grade children would benefit more by going to KSSB. Most V.I. teachers are not literate in advance braille, music braille, braille in a foreign language or math braille. Then add in, the need for good O&M instruction, daily living skills and the chance to participate in ahtletics and one quickly understands how our children are not getting what they need in public schools. Not to mention the psychiological advantages to the child.The "blind" would be much more served by advocating for more services within the school district or for parents to insist that their child go to KSSB.Dena

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm glad she hasn't had trouble finding work, but every single blind person I know (many, including several immediate familymembers) has had tremendous trouble or outright complete failure in getting a job, even in the best of economic times.---Tanetti,you are correct. sadly most full time employed blind in america work for nonprofits or government. yet, "reasonable accomodations" are often less troublesome for blind potential employees than for people with other disabilities.

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Tanetti 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure the questions those employers ask Rachel are legal, though she certainly can answer them if she wants to. I was under the impression that the ADA prohibited prospective employers from asking disability-related questions during interviews (same as asking a woman how she would handle working full time if she had children). I'm glad she hasn't had trouble finding work, but every single blind person I know (many, including several immediate family members) has had tremendous trouble or outright complete failure in getting a job, even in the best of economic times.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 6 months ago

funny, the Google ads are for sales of "canes and walking sticks" but apparently not the canes these people are using! think somebody needs to tighten a bolt at Google?

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