[Jobs] Washington seminar/resolution idea

Jordan Gallacher jordanandseptember at gmail.com
Fri Aug 10 21:32:29 UTC 2018

I totally agree with Julie.  I barely use Aira at home, but when out, I have it available, and it cannot and should not replace skills learned at the training centers.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jobs <jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of Julie McGinnity via Jobs
Sent: Friday, August 10, 2018 4:03 PM
To: Jobs for the Blind <jobs at nfbnet.org>
Cc: Julie McGinnity <kaybaycar at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Jobs] Washington seminar/resolution idea

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 assistance.

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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