[nabs-l] Cars for the Blind

Joe Orozco jsorozco at gmail.com
Fri Aug 6 17:20:04 UTC 2010

Peter wrote:

We all have a right to disagree but when those disagreements cross the line
and result in the destruction of the dreams, desires, and aspirations of
those who imagine a future full of possibilities someone is going to sound
the alarm and say, "Enough!"


1. Who gets to determine when and how that line of disagreement is crossed?
I think this statement is eerily representative of the position the
leadership has taken toward its members.

2. How is the expression of disagreement going to destroy people's dreams?
I think people dream of employment and general social acceptability.  I can
agree that having a car that is fully integrated and accessible would be
nice, but I think you would agree people are intelligent enough to
distinguish between what is a personal dream and what is a wish.  I am fully
employed and run a business on the side, neither of which was accomplished
by driving a car.

3. How do you respond to my practical points about affordability, attitude,
logistics, proper training, etc?  It seems that if we cannot answer those
questions beforehand, we are leaving too much to chance and raising millions
of dollars for some skewed priorities.  Does it not strike anyone as
backward that at the height of an economic recession where thousands of jobs
are being lost each month, we are choosing to spend money on a distant
reality, when we could be spending that money on hosting job fares, employer
training, co-op opportunities and other job readiness programs?

4. How can the airplane analogy stand when blind pilots are still not
allowed to take off or land with assistance let alone independently?  Let's
at least use comparable examples.

I have faith that in a distant future technology will have evolved to make
cars for the blind an acceptable reality.  Yet, I wonder if the NFB is the
right vehicle to devote its limited resources to the cause.  For many years
we have heard about the overwhelming unemployment rate among blind people,
and if the best evidence of putting a dent in that unemployment rate is the
promise of a car in the distant future, I think we have fallen dramatically
short of the mission we claim to serve.  As long as we continue to hear
about cases like the one in Missouri where the blind couple had their baby
taken away simply because they were blind, there is an enormous of work for
us to do right here and now in the present without exhausting precious
resources on a far removed future.

I'm an imaginator alright.  I imagine a world with a better education system
to prepare tomorrow's generation of leaders.  I imagine a world where the
technology we use right now does not break a person's bank.  I also imagine
a world where my dozens of blind and sighted friends without a job will be
able to be hired somewhere despite the economy.  Sadly, our world runs on
money, and if you don't have it, that's all you'll do in life, is imagine.



"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves,
some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all."--Sam Ewing 

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Donahue [mailto:pdonahue1 at sbcglobal.net] 
Sent: Friday, August 06, 2010 12:37 PM
To: jsorozco at gmail.com; National Association of Blind Students 
mailing list
Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Cars for the Blind

Good morning everyone,
    Let me say something right now before the nay-saying gets 
out-of-hand! I 
for one dreamed of the possibility of being able to drive a car 
as far back 
as 1968. I got very excited in 2000 when this initiative was 
announced when 
construction of the NFB Jernigan Institute began. It is 
wonderful to see 
this dream finally becoming a reality. When full realization of 
that dream 
has been achieved is still up in the air but we've begun developing the 
technology to make it possible for us to drive a vehicle 
independently. This 
is exciting and empowering!

    It means the difference between being able to live where 
you wish or 
having your choice of local being determined by the 
availability or lack of 
public transportation. It means being able to travel on your 
schedule and 
not those of transportation providers. It means not having to 
rely on others 
for transportation particularly on a South Texas scortcher like today.

    It also has the potential to open up job possibilities 
previously not 
thought possible for the blind. Some of us have all ready imagined this 
technology being married to that used by airplane pilots to 
permit a blind 
person to pilot their own aircraft. Hence the airplane analogy 
is valid as 
some of the technology being developed for the car interface 
for the blind 
is all ready used to pilot airplanes. Others have also invisioned blind 
persons working as taxi drivers, bus drivers, railroad 
engineers, etc. I 
call upon you to explore the possibilities rather than 
rehashing many of the 
so-called reasons and excuses of why this will not work or why 
the blind 
shouldn't drive. We're supposed to be imaginators so let's act 
like it! We 
all have a right to disagree but when those disagreements cross 
the line and 
result in the destruction of the dreams, desires, and 
aspirations of those 
who imagine a future full of possibilities someone is going to 
sound the 
alarm and say, "Enough!" Thanks for listening and contemplating.

Peter Donahue

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