This is my healing journal.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A blind Woman's Rant

So, everyone is excited about the new Governor of New York, Mr. Paterson. Everyone is hopeful that he will be able to take care of the problems left behind by his predecessor. But, is that what they're talking about?

Guess what? The anser is no! Instead, they're talking about the fact that he is the first legally blind governor. Yet, there are those in the media who have him under severe public scrutiny for not living up to the standards of other blind people as far as living independently. There are those who believe that he needs a cane, that he needs to learn Braille. If he can read print up close, why should he learn Braille? If he can see well enough to not need a cane, why should he have one?

There were a couple of people on the school for the Blind alumni list who pointed out some of this stuff. They then went on to say that certain people who had attended the school who have enough vision to drive, should not be given the opportunity to do so, let alone live a normal life. Somewent on to say that everyone should learn to use a cane and read Braille, so that when they lose their sight entirely, they can still cope.

Tom, I've never told you why it is, I don't truly envy you for being able to see, let alone drive. It goes back to my father's family. Both his brothers Marvin and Sydney lost one eye each, due to accidents. Yet, they both went on to have high jobs in their professions. I think my Uncle Marvin became a civil engineer. I know he continued to be an avid fisherman in Long Island. He and his wife drove from New York to Michigan a couple of times when I was a child, and we were able to see him in his environment. It's because of their examples, my father insisted I would be the most independent person I chose to be. For that, I am grateful.

Anyway, then I heard a news report in which the "astounding statistic" was given of "over senvety percent of the blind population is unemployed". Well, who's fault is that? You've got the Social Security system causing blind people to feel trapped in the "I can't" mode for startes. Those of us who receive SSA benefits on our own work record, tend to be left alone. However, those who receive it as a single person based on a parent's retirement record and those who receive SSI benefits are often hounded by the administration to give up a percent of our check, if we make too much and that's based on a month-to-month basis. I personally never had to worry, as the company I had worked for as a social worker paid me well below the maximum. Yet, there's another reason the blind are unemployed at such an "astounding statistic". You earn just enough to get by in most cases. My boyfriend at the time (who subsequently became my husband) and I often would pool food resources, so that I would have enough to eat. I lived frugally and managed to cope. However, I also lived well enough.

Then, there's the lack of proper training. Sure, college is possible. Yet, most blind people may not know proper grooming habits, or even the fact that they will face discrimination. How well I remember when my internship supervisor looked my field supervisor from the university in the eye and asked her if school had prepared me for the road I would have to walk down. He then pointed out to her that she should take the time to talk about that with me and with any other fellow students who were minorities of any kind. (She was an African American woman, who as far as I know, never took his advice to heart.) I remember sitting in his office crying, becauase some of what he had nailed me on, I deserved to be nailed on. (I had let some good grooming habits go by the wayside, due to depression, and got caught for it.) Yet his comment about how the rehab centers, colleges and schools for the blind have forgotten how to train people to deal with discrimination and poor grooming skills were not doing any favors really hit home. I have since thanked him, shortly after landing my first job.

Often, lack of accomodation has caused blind people to lose their jobs, let alone their hope. No one should have to wait four months for the forms to be in an accessible format, if they work as a social work evaluator for a mental health agency. No one should have to wait three months until an adequate computer can be provided. Both things happened to me in my second job and both problems were not indirectly the fault of the Commission for the Blind. THe company I was working for was not cooperating with them.

So, while the media talks about what a wonderful man Mr. Paterson is, I hope they will look closely at how their comments about other blind people are infecting, yes infecting blind people to think less of themselves. I am proud of my accomplishments. I am grateful that I can work for myself. But, I feel sorry for those who have maybe heard the media comments and feel kicked down and beaten up yet again.


  • At March 19, 2008 at 5:38 AM , Blogger Ryan said...

    I agree with all of you're points.
    The problem is, these attitudes and lack of teaching have been the norm in this country.
    I know so many blind people who really believe they can't work and they can't do a lot of basic things because, they were taught they had no choice but to linger on the edge of being a real person.
    I'm glad for people like David Patterson and if someone is that concerned about the fact that he didn't learn braille, they really should get out more.

  • At March 19, 2008 at 8:02 PM , Blogger Healing Song said...

    I agree. I won't say who the source was I heard that from with regards to learning Braille, etc, because I did not hear it on the news. The person himself who wrote it was on a rant about the whole situation, and thus I'd rathernot say who it was.

  • At March 20, 2008 at 5:46 PM , Blogger Tom C said...

    It's a funny world we walk in. Help is not available to me, though I've put in thirty years to the system. I could write a book about discrimination though. Hmm might be story time again at my place.

  • At March 20, 2008 at 9:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hello Beatrice,
    I am posting as anonymous as I can't remember my password.
    I agree with everything that you said in this article. David Patterson should be an inspiration to all people, he obviously has overcome his difficulties and so can anyone else who puts their mind to it.

  • At March 20, 2008 at 9:51 PM , Blogger Healing Song said...

    Tom, I've often wondered how it is for one to walk the fine line between being blind and having just enough sight. I personally think you're amazing, because you've faced those challenges head on and never looked back. I hope others who read my blog will go up and read the stories you'll most likely tell.

    I appreciate how we've helped each other along whether it be in thoughts expressed in Email or those times when the thought of the other would cause either one of us to hope all was well.

  • At March 21, 2008 at 7:56 PM , Blogger Dawn said...

    I agree with all of your points on your article of David Patterson. Interesting article.


  • At March 24, 2008 at 6:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I heard on CNN last night that Patterson is now being investigated as he has admitted to having had afairs and using campagn money to rent hotel rooms, though he has paid most of the money back. He evidentially came forward with this information before it was discovered so that is in his favour but if they find that any of the women he slept with have been promoted in their jobs, because of the relationships with Patterson, he may have to step down from being governor. His wife has also admitted to
    having had extramaritial affairs. It is one big mess and the New York State government and these men and women really need our prayers.


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