[Jobs] Washington seminar/resolution idea

Steven Atkinson sm.atkinson at comcast.net
Fri Aug 10 01:58:52 UTC 2018



I think your AIRA message is interesting and well written.  But, I gave up
my S.S.D.I. benefits once for a good job I held and after I was a part of a
large lay-off I went through the most awful time of my life and it was even
worse than suddenly going blind at thirty-one years old.  I am now working
very hard to land a new position, but I will not ever consider giving up my
S.S.D.I. benefits again unless I get my perfect eyesight back and I know
that is not going to magicaly happen.  AIRA may be a great tool for the
blind and I may invest in it, but it is not going to help me enough to live
the life I lived as a sighted person.  It sounds like it may be another fun
tool for the blind people to use and I think it is wonderful that people
develop tools like AIRA and the I Phone features that help blind people live
a more enjoyable and productive life.  I am excited to learn more about AIRA
and I hope to take advantage of it sometime in the near future.



From: Jobs [mailto:jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Jim Reed via Jobs
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2018 9:24 PM
To: pmaurer at nfb.org
Cc: Jim Reed; jobs at nfbnet.org; 'Everette Bacon'
Subject: [Jobs] Washington seminar/resolution idea


Hello all,

For those that don't know, AIRA is a human-powered, remote- assistant
software program from google to help the blind with almost anything they
might need or want using smartphone cameraphone technology, and other
powerful google tools such as GPS, google transit, the internet, and so on.
It cost $300 per month for unlimited use. I got to experience AIRA a few
weeks ago navigating a crowded festival; it was seamless, perfect, and easy,
and my response to my friend was "with this service, it is like we are not
even blind." Why not make it available free to every blind person in
America? This is what I am proposing in this email. If you really want to
impact the lives of the every-day/ordinary blind person, I can think of no
better way to do it that give everyone free AIRA.  Unfortunatly, it is just
too expensive for the average blind person to afford-I work 40 hours a week
in a professional position, and I can't/won't get it due to cost. So what is
the unemployed blind person on $1,00 per monthof SSA benefits supposed to
do? Obviously they cant afford it either.


Here is my rough math; it would take someone with more reliable statistics
and modeling software to see if this would be worth it or pay for itself.

If I were on disability benefits instead of working, my check would be about
$2,000/mont plus health insurance, plus food stamps, plus possible public
housing assistance, and so on. Just focusing on the SSA cash benefit, 2000
per month times 12 months equals 24000 per year in cash benefits the federal
government just paid. A full year of unlimited AIRA cost $3600 at
$300/month. If AIRA were to get someone like me a job they would not have
otherwise had, the government just saved $21,000 per year. At 3600 per year
for AIRA, the money saved from this 1 person getting a job would be able to
pay for an additional 5.8 people to get AIRA for a year. If 1 of those 5.8
people gets a job, and get off benefits, now the cash benefits not paid to
person #1 and #2  can pay for 12 people to get AIRA.  If 2 of those 12 get a
job, now you have 4 people off benefits saving the government about  96000
per year then you minus full-year AIRA cost for these 4 people (3600 x
4=14,400)  for a total cost savings of 81600. This is now enough to buy
22.6 AIRA subscriptions, which might result in 4 jobs, And this snowball
will just get bigger and bigger (and be able to pay for more AIRA
subscriptions) the longer it rolls downhill.  Theoretically, this would be
an exponentially increasing feedback loop with constantly increasing numbers
of subscriptions, followed by more employed blind persons,  and increasingly
large SSA and public assistance savings, which lead to more subscriptions
and more jobs, until every blind person in America has AIRA and all blind
persons desiring to work are employed. And if we all think about it
realistically, government subsidy of this type of service is
all-but-inevitable and guaranteed 30-50 years in the future-just think of
the money being currently spend on all blindness services combined; it will
be impossible for the government not to provide this service in the future,
especially when a nation's worth of blind people are demanding access to it.
I'm just proposing we jump the gun by about 20 years and get right to it.  


This very simple model doesn't account for lots of other variables such as
the number of students who are more able to finish college or trade school,
thus are more qualified to get and keep a job;   less emergency room visits
from the blind due to things like taking the wrong medication; less nursing
home care from the elder blind who are now better able to manage their own
personal care;  less use of food stamps and public housing because these
people are self-sufficent.  Less students in private and public blind
training centers (at $40,000 each for 9 months), less mental health issues,
less depression, less suicides, and less  drug and alcohol use-all problems
and cost avoided due to a higher quality of life, a greater involvement in
society,  a greater sense of self-worth, and a greater ability to do
something positive with someone's life.

This model also doesn't account for the fact that the cost of AIRA will come
down with automation, improved efficiency, more people using the service,
and a fat, long-term government contract.


I absolutely think the NFB should use some Washington Seminar resources to
advocate that Congress give every blind person free AIRA for life.   $1
million from congress would pay for 277 people to have AIRA for 1 year-and
that is just a straight up appropriation not accounting for any of the cost
savings described above that would multiply this number. Want to guess how
much it would cost to send each of these 277 people to training for 9-months
at an NFB training center?  Over $11 million. Like I said, the math,
statistics, modeling, and etc are way over my head, but I think this would
be worth pursuing. 



P.S. before the folks on the NFB jobs list start complaining about being off
topic, think about how many more people would be working, and how many
possible jobs/profession types  that would be made available to us if we had
24/7, reliable sighted assistance?   I'm trying to think of the most extreme
blind-unfriendly occupations such as secretary, gas station clerk,  cook,
executive chef, courier/delivery, event planner, inspector, and so
on.without AIRA most of these jobs would be impossible as an independent
blind person with no support; most of these positions would be very do-able
with AIRA.  And.one problem a lot of blind people have is that the
low/no-skill entry-level positions (such as bartender, janitor, cook)  that
would be available to sighted students and those without degrees are not
available or do able by the blind, leaving us perpetually unemployed and
unable to gain experience, while the vast majority of positions blind people
can do involve using their intellect which all requires education and
degrees which means that most blind people are flat-out excluded from the
entry-level, no-skill type positions, and face a huge hurdel called
"college" before they are considered "qualified" for the entry-level type of
jobs most blind people are suited for. It is almost like if you are blind
you need a college degree to qualify for your first job, while all a sighted
person needs is a strong back and a work ethic; AIRA would change this. 


Just something to think about.



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