[Jobs] Washington seminar/resolution idea

Julie McGinnity kaybaycar at gmail.com
Fri Aug 10 21:02:51 UTC 2018

Hi Jim and all,

Going back to the original email...  Jim stated that the AIRA program
came from Google.  If I understand correctly, AIRA uses a version of
the Google glass technology in their smart glasses.  Hope that clears
up some of the confusion.

I am concerned by the original plan for a few reasons.  AIRA is
another tool in our toolbox.  It's not something we can (or should)
rely on consistently to perform tasks we could do without visual

I am looking for a job.  How could AIRA help me?  Well, I suppose it
could help me deal with any task requiring me to read hand-writing.  I
could also call an AIRA agent when I encountered a barrier on a
website or with an inaccessible document.  Definitely a useful tool in
many situations...  But where is the line?

If every blind person had AIRA, why would an employer need to make
anything accessible?  They would just say: "You have that sighted
assistance program to help you."  Furthermore, where do we draw the
line between using AIRA as a useful tool for employment and relying on
it to do our jobs?  In other words, we should not put ourselves in
situations where if it wasn't for AIRA, we would not be hired.  If we
did, then why are these employers hiring us?  They may as well just
hire our AIRA agents.

As to your point about training centers becoming obsolete, I do not
see it.  Should blind people never learn to cook or travel without
sighted assistance?  That, among other things, is what our training
centers teach.  They also teach us to have a mindset of confidence and
self-reliance.  How could we ever have that if the societal
understanding was that every blind person got AIRA for free and was
expected to use it in so many situations?

I could not support free AIRA for every blind person.  It's not the
savior of the blind that it is advertised to be by some.  I have no
doubt that it is useful in a lot of situation.  But it should never
replace blindness skills, independence, and the belief that we don't
need sighted assistance to live full and productive lives.

Just my humble opinion...


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On 8/10/18, Ericka via Jobs <jobs at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Thanks for the name of that program. It comes back to me now. ABLE accounts.
> Wisconsin is very much like Minnesota! And you’re right on how crappy
> Paratransit is. We’re more of a commodity being transferred like Cole on a
> train than human beings.
> Yeah in Madison you can get around on the buses but it’s nothing like
> Minneapolis where they, every 15 minutes most of the time. The roads are
> really crazy – – during the week you have to take two buses for example to
> go to a certain area and then on the weekends once a certain wrote gets to a
> transfer point it just turns into a different route so you don’t have to get
> off the bus. Compared to the small community I grew up in though this is a
> huge improvement! It was either walk, beg a ride from someone you knew or
> wait for the one cab which mostly took the cognitively challenged folks to
> the sheltered workshop and back. And that’s only in the city of 10,000
> people. Getting out of the coty was and still is impossible unless you have
> family to drive back and forth.
> What I lived in Kenosha, community of 100,000 people the bus transit was
> even worse than Paratransit.  I left because there were no jobs and there is
> no way to get to a job reliably. You could barely get to the doctor
> reliably! I relied on church friends, my in-laws at the time, or a county
> run service called volunteer transportation. They were door to door and much
> more reliable because they were senior citizens volunteering their time.
> They just got paid for the mileage I think. You had to qualify for it but it
> was much more reliable than Paratransit which would double book and not tell
> you. They just wouldn’t show up. If you’re considered disabled enough in
> Wisconsin you can be part of a Medicare/Medicaid HMO plan which does include
> transportation. However your average blind person with only that disability
> would never qualify for anything. If you can take care of yourself at home
> alone and transit and reading handwriting are your only problem is you’ll
> never qualify. I’ve tried! I have epilepsy and blindness but apparently they
> don’t see having a seizure on the bus or in the middle of crossing a street
> with five lanes of traffic a particularly dangerous situation.
> Ericka Short

Julie A. McGinnity
MM Vocal Performance, 2015; President, National Federation of the
Blind Performing Arts Division; First Vice President, National
Federation of the Blind of Missouri

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