[nabs-l] Blind man sues Wienerschnitzel over run-in with tree

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Sun Aug 15 01:45:06 UTC 2010

Actually, "universal design" is for all people 
disabled and non-disabled alike, not just all blind persons.


At 08:34 PM 8/14/2010, you wrote:
>Jedi, I appreciate your attempt at 
>clarification, but I believe there still exists 
>a problem. Jedi said, > The way to create a 
>universal design honoring all blind people is to 
>not > only look at the varying capacities of 
>bdifferent blind people, but to > also consider 
>the systems into which these capacities are 
>imbedded and > from which they are born. Marc 
>says, Sure, that's why I included institutions 
>in my list, institutions, products, processes, 
>services and so on.  No disagreement there. Jedi 
>said, In so doing, we are more able to piece out 
>the difference between a real need versus a 
>perceived need. Marc says, The problem is that 
>there is no single set of needs that are either 
>real or perceived for all blind people.  What is 
>not a need for me may be a real need for someone 
>else.  It is not possible to piece out 
>differences between real and perceived needs for 
>heterogenious groups of people.  You may be able 
>to do this for an individual, but unless you 
>assume that blind people all have the same 
>needs, then you are going to have real needs, 
>regardless of discourse, that are possessed by 
>some, but not all, of the members of the group. 
>Jedi said, > Universal design doesn't 
>necessarily mean that every piece of (for > 
>example) visual information be conveyed 
>non-visually. Marc says, Agreed, it's a good 
>thing I didn't say that that's what universal 
>design meant. Jedi said, What it does mean is 
>that blind people, no matter how it's done, have 
>access to whatever a sighted person has access 
>to in such a way that the access is convenient, 
>cost-effective, built in, and meets the needs of 
>most people. Marc says, Again, this sounds like 
>you're taking the universal out of universal 
>design. If instead of limiting it to most 
>people, you said meeting the needs of as many 
>people as possible, then I think I almost might 
>agree with this definition.  I also would 
>suggest a very high threshhold on convenience 
>and cost effectiveness to ensure that these are 
>not just excuses not to meet obligations. Jedi 
>said, Universal design doesn't have to be 
>restricted to how products and services are 
>created and maintained. Marc says, I refer you 
>to my original illustrative list which included 
>institutions and processes. Jedi said, 
>Sometimes, it's about changing the surrounding 
>systems  such that there are no ideologies 
>placing beings into some kind of higherarchy. As 
>it stands, sighted people still are considered 
>more able than us. In order to create a 
>universal design system debunking that 
>assumption, we have to question why and how 
>we've come to believe the inherent inability of 
>blind people in comparison to the sighted in the 
>first place, as well as how we (the blind and 
>the sighted) perpetuate it. Marc says, While I 
>agree with the thrust of this statement, I don't 
>exactly see how it's relevant.  We should be 
>looking at institutions and challenging dominant 
>discourses, but how does this relate to the 
>discussion? Do you believe that if we 
>successfully challenge the system, it will turn 
>out that all blind people have the same needs? 
>If not, then my point still stands: promoting 
>universal design will always result in some 
>adaptations being made which aren't necessary 
>for everyone involved.  And even though some 
>people will assume that every blind person needs 
>the adaptation, when in fact it is only a small 
>proportion of blind people that need the 
>adaptation, we should still fight for the 
>inclusion of everyone and not pay so much 
>attention to whether or not the public will 
>generalize. Jedi said, I can tell you now that 
>universal design is not as simple as creating 
>and sustaining certain kinds of accessibility. I 
>think the NFB understands that, and that's why 
>our philosophy sometimes seems to contradict 
>universal design in the first place. Marc says, 
>I just don't think this is right.  How often do 
>NFB leaders talk about making things as 
>accessible as possible, accessible even to the 
>blind person with little training and not too 
>much intelligence? Based on the comments I've 
>read on a dozen NFB lists, and based on the 
>press releases, presidential reports, and 
>banquet addresses, it seems to me that this 
>position isn't taken up all that often.  If I'm 
>wrong about this, please tell me where to look 
>to find promotion of universal design 
>principles. Regards, Marc ----- Original Message 
>----- From: "Jedi" <loneblindjedi at samobile.net> 
>To: <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> Sent: Saturday, August 
>14, 2010 6:10 PM Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Blind man 
>sues Wienerschnitzel over run-in with tree > 
>Marc, > > The way to create a universal design 
>honoring all blind people is to not > only look 
>at the varying capacities of bdifferent blind 
>people, but to > also consider the systems into 
>which these capacities are imbedded and > from 
>which they are born. In so doing, we are more 
>able to piece out the > difference between a 
>real need versus a perceived need. Universal 
>design > doesn't necessarily mean that every 
>piece of (for example) visual > information be 
>conveyed non-visually. What it does mean is that 
>blind > people, no matter how it's done, have 
>access to whatever a sighted person > has access 
>to in such a way that the access is convenient, 
>cost-effective, > built in, and meets the needs 
>of most people.  Universal design doesn't > have 
>to be restricted to how products and services 
>are created and > maintained. Sometimes, it's 
>about changing the surrounding systems  such > 
>that there are no ideologies placing beings into 
>some kind of higherarchy. > As it stands, 
>sighted people still are considered more able 
>than us. In > order to create a universal design 
>system debunking that assumption, we > have to 
>question why and how we've come to believe the 
>inherent inability > of blind people in 
>comparison to the sighted in the first place, as 
>well > as how we (the blind and the sighted) 
>perpetuate it. > > This is really tough stuff to 
>communicate via e-mail, but I can tell you > now 
>that universal design is not as simple as 
>creating and sustaining > certain kinds of 
>accessibility. I think the NFB understands that, 
>and > that's why our philosophy sometimes seems 
>to contradict universal design > in the first 
>place. Am i making any sense at all? Probably 
>not, but it was > worth a try. > > 
>Respectfully, > Jedi > > -Original Message- >> 
>Jedi, > >> I prefaced my comment by saying that 
>it was not directed at you.  I >> wasn't >> 
>objecting to what you said so much as the idea 
>contained in the couple of >> sentences I quoted 
>from you, and idea that was contained within 
>the >> comments >> of many others. > >> 
>Regarding what you say about universal design, 
>that the NFB is "about >> creating a universal 
>design that honors the capacities of blind 
>people >> while >> meeting our accessibility 
>needs rather than creating a design that >> 
>assumes >> that we have more needs than we 
>really do", this strikes me as a >> 
>problematic >> way of understanding universal 
>design.  The question I would ask is: >> 
>capacities and needs of which blind people? > >> 
>The problem is that blind people, like all 
>people, have a tremendous >> amount >> of 
>variation in the capacities they possess.  A 
>blind person that is >> otherwise able-bodied, 
>who has been blind for a long period of time, 
>who >> has >> received a lot of training, who is 
>intelligent, confident, and so on is >> going to 
>have a different set of capacities than the 
>person who is newly >> blind, has had little 
>training, has mobility difficulties, and is hard 
>of >> hearing on top of it, and considering how 
>many lose their vision in old >> age, >> don't 
>think this picture is that out of the 
>ordinary. > >> So, who do we look at when we are 
>fighting for universal design that >> honours >> 
>the capacities of blind people without 
>exaggerating their needs? Do we >> look >> at 
>the capacities of the members of this list, or 
>do we look at the >> capacities of blind 
>seniors? > >> The problem I see with your 
>understanding of universal design is that it >> 
>isn't really universal.  For it to be universal, 
>you can't limit its >> application to a group of 
>people that possess a certain set of 
>capacities >> and needs. > >> Responding to Joe 
>who asked for more specifics on universal 
>design, I >> understand it as a guiding 
>principle, and ideal towards which we 
>struggle >> without actually attaining it, 
>something like equality, freedom, or >> 
>justice. >> Basically, as I stated, you design 
>institutions, products, processes, >> services 
>and so on so that they are as accessible as 
>possible to the >> greatest number of people 
>with the greatest variation in 
>abilities.  One >> slightly more concrete way of 
>thinking about this is that it involves >> 
>providing access to information in multiple 
>ways.  So at a controlled >> intersection, the 
>changing of the light is information that is 
>only >> presented visually.  Universal design 
>would promote the inclusion of an >> audible and 
>even a tactile signal that conveys the visual 
>information in >> alternative ways.  We 
>obviously will never make everything 
>completely >> accessible to everyone, but that 
>is what makes it an ideal.  It's >> something >> 
>towards which we ought to strive. > >> When 
>things are universally designed, they include 
>features that many >> many >> people will not 
>actually make use of.  A large number of blind 
>people may >> not need an audible signal, but 
>some of course will, at the very least, >> 
>find >> one very useful.  And the concern seems 
>to be that people will assume >> that >> because 
>some blind people have difficulty getting around 
>without adapting >> the environment somewhat, 
>then all blind people must need these >> 
>adaptations, >> and then this leads to negative 
>attitudes, discrimination, unemployment >> 
>and >> so on.  For my objections to this line of 
>argument, see my last post. > >> In closing, I 
>want to leave you with a quote from Jacobus 
>tenBroek, a >> fellow >> Albertan I might 
>add.  It suggests to me that tenBroek would 
>support the >> fight against unnecessary 
>obsticles that prevent us from travelling in >> 
>the >> manner in which we choose, including the 
>issue that sparked this debate. >> I >> also 
>think it's a nod towards universal design, the 
>kind that's actually >> universal. > >> tenBroek 
>writes: “No courts have held or even darkly 
>hinted that a blind >> man >> may rise in the 
>morning, help get the children off to school, 
>bid his >> wife >> goodbye,and proceed along the 
>streets and bus lines to his daily work, >> 
>without dog, cane, or guide, if such is his 
>habit or preference, now and >> then brushing a 
>tree or kicking a curb,but, notwithstanding, 
>proceeding >> with >> firm step and sure air, 
>knowing that he is part of the public for 
>whom >> the >> streets are built and maintained 
>in reasonable safety, by the help of his >> 
>taxes, and that he shares with others this part 
>of the world in which he, >> too,has a right to 
>live” (1966, 867­68). > >> tenBroek, Jacobus. 
>1966.. The right to live in the world: The 
>disabled in >> the >> law of torts.California 
>Law Review 54: 841­919. > >>> Best, > >> Marc >> 
>----- Original Message ----- >> From: "Jedi" 
><loneblindjedi at samobile.net> >> To: 
><nabs-l at nfbnet.org> >> Sent: Saturday, August 
>14, 2010 4:04 PM >> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Blind 
>man sues Wienerschnitzel over run-in with >> 
>tree > > >>> Marc, > >>> I feel that my comments 
>were taken out of context somewhat. I was 
>trying >>> to give both sides of the issue a 
>fair hearing. It's true that bringing >>> 
>attention to the incident in the way it's being 
>done might in fact >>> solidify negative 
>perceptions of blindness; anyone who has been 
>blind a >>> while shouldn't miss that 
>possibility unless they've been hiding under 
>a >>> rock a while. Whether we like it or not, 
>the public tends to view us >>> through their 
>own speculations of what their lives might be 
>like if they >>> were blinded immediately 
>without realizing that they have 
>considerable >>> gaps in knowledge regarding 
>blindness. What I also said is that the tree >>> 
>could have served as a legitimate obstacle for 
>this particular blind >>> man. >>> Though I 
>didn't say it directly, what I meant is that 
>perhaps he does >>> have >>> a cause to seek 
>remedy even if a lawsuit may not be the best way 
>to >>> handle >>> things. In my opinion, this 
>incident is much like the woman who spilled >>> 
>hot coffee in her lap and sued 
>McDonnald's. > >>> Maybe I'm wrong, but what I 
>hear you saying is that NFB philosophy (or >>> 
>at >>> least your understanding of it) seems to 
>be out of sync with universal >>> design 
>principles for the reason of not wanting blind 
>people to look >>> incompetent. I don't think 
>this is the case. I think the NFB does >>> 
>support >>> (and fights for) universal design, 
>but we're also about creating a >>> universal 
>design that honors the capacities of blind 
>people while >>> meeting >>> our accessibility 
>needs rather than creating a design that assumes 
>that >>> we >>> have more needs than we really 
>do. Does that make sense? > >>> 
>Respectfully, >>> Jedi > > >>> Original 
>message: >>>> I'm not very surprised, but 
>nevertheless still disturbed, by a majority >>>> 
>of >>>> the responses to this article.  Based on 
>one reporters account of this >>>> story, we 
>have rediculous proposals insisting that blind 
>people ought >>>> to >>>> walk around holding 
>one arm in the air, we have unjustified 
>claims >>>> about >>>> how >>>> fast the person 
>must have been walking, we have unfounded 
>assumptions >>>> about >>>> what this person may 
>have tried to do before escalating to a law 
>suit, >>>> and >>>> we have highly speculative 
>claims about how this one incident is going >>>> 
>to >>>> set every confident, independent blind 
>person back 20 years. > >>>> Jedi wrote the 
>following, and this is not directed at Jedi; she 
>only >>>> said >>>> first, and with brevity and 
>clarity, what many others said 
>afterwards. > >>>> However, suing could set a 
>bad precedent as it > would reaify the >>>> 
>notion >>>> that obstacles of any kind are 
>hazardous to > blind people because we >>>> 
>are >>>> blind; the public may take this 
>incident > and generalize it to all >>>> 
>obstacles whether they're really an > 
>inconvenience to one/all of us or >>>> 
>not. > >>>> I would raise three objections to 
>this line of thinking.  None of them >>>> 
>are >>>> devastating, but, taken together, I 
>think there is good reason to not >>>> be >>>> 
>completely convinced that people who fight these 
>sorts of battles are >>>> doing >>>> us all 
>harm. > >>>> 1. We shouldn't be so quick to 
>think that we can predict how any one >>>> 
>individual, let alone the so called public, is 
>going to react to these >>>> sorts >>>> of 
>stories.  Someone reading the story might 
>respond more to the fact >>>> that >>>> the 
>person was travelling in the community 
>independently, she might >>>> focus >>>> on >>>> 
>the person's willingness to stand up for what he 
>believes, she might >>>> begin >>>> to think 
>about her own front yard tree with its low 
>hanging branches, >>>> or >>>> most likely in my 
>opinion, she won't think twice about it, 
>assuming she >>>> reads it at all.  The point is 
>that there is a lot of speculation >>>> 
>involved >>>> here, and we should be cautious in 
>the face of so much speculation. > >>>> 2. Let's 
>say, for the sake of argument, that there is 
>this thing called >>>> the >>>> public, and the 
>public generalizes from the experience of one 
>person >>>> and >>>> applies it to all of us 
>blind people.  The public believes that we 
>all >>>> need >>>> help getting around all these 
>obsticles, and eventually this leads to >>>> 
>discrimination and unemployment.  Should we base 
>our positions on what >>>> we >>>> judge to be 
>right, or should we base them on how the public 
>will react >>>> to >>>> them? Probably the 
>response will be to say that we should base 
>our >>>> positions >>>> on both what we think is 
>right and how the public will react.  Fine, >>>> 
>I'm >>>> not >>>> saying we should ignore public 
>reaction, but in the face of so much >>>> 
>speculation, see objection 1, where public 
>reaction is highly >>>> unpredictable, >>>> it 
>should play only a very minor role in deciding 
>what sort of >>>> activities >>>> we >>>> should 
>engage in. > >>>> 3. Even if the public does 
>develop negative misconceptions based on >>>> 
>these >>>> sorts of stories, this doesn't mean 
>that people can't be educated.  Why >>>> 
>couldn't it be the case that by fighting to 
>remove these barriers, we >>>> suffer >>>> a 
>short-term increase in negative conceptions for 
>a decrease of such >>>> conceptions in the long 
>term? Get blind people out in the 
>community, >>>> and >>>> that's how you will 
>change attitudes.  The more people that feel 
>they >>>> can >>>> comfortably and independently 
>travel throughout the community, without >>>> 
>having first spent 8 months intensively studying 
>the latest >>>> hand-in-front-of-face technique 
>for detecting over-hanging obsticles, >>>> 
>the >>>> more people you will have out in the 
>community, the more relationships >>>> will >>>> 
>be developed, and the more likely you are to 
>change attitudes. > >>>> Many of the comments 
>thus far in this thread illustrate two of the 
>most >>>> fundamental ways in which I think NFB 
>policies are misguided.  First, >>>> the >>>> 
>failure to promote universal design.  Universal 
>design means creating >>>> institutions, 
>products, processes, services, and so on that 
>are as >>>> accessible as possible to the widest 
>number of people, without the user >>>> having 
>to possess special equipment or training.  If 
>environment A is >>>> only >>>> navigable by 
>some blind person who has been blind for ten 
>years, who >>>> has >>>> had >>>> training at an 
>NFB Center, and who has no other disabling 
>physical >>>> variations, and environment B is 
>navigable by someone recently blind, >>>> 
>with >>>> little training, and with a bad hip, 
>then we should adopt stances >>>> towards >>>> 
>design that bring us closer to environment 
>B.  It might be true that, >>>> at >>>> first, 
>taking these positions causes that foolish 
>public to believe >>>> that >>>> blindness 
>equals incompetence, but this leads me to my 
>second concern >>>> with >>>> NFB policy: there 
>is far too much concern with the variety of ways 
>that >>>> the >>>> public might think less of 
>us.  Of course public perceptions matter, >>>> 
>but >>>> they are highly unpredictable, 
>changeable over time, and should not >>>> 
>make >>>> us >>>> afraid to fight for what is 
>right. > >>>> I've been preaching this sort of 
>attitude for a while now, and I don't >>>> 
>really expect to change anyone's mind, but there 
>is another perspective >>>> to >>>> this story 
>that hasn't been aired fully. > >>>> 
>Best, > >>>> Marc > >>>> ----- Original Message 
>----- >>>> From: "Jedi" 
><loneblindjedi at samobile.net> >>>> To: 
><nabs-l at nfbnet.org> >>>> Sent: Friday, August 
>13, 2010 7:30 PM >>>> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] 
>Blind man sues Wienerschnitzel over run-in 
>with >>>> tree > > >>>>> The tree could be an 
>annoying obstacle for anyone, particularly 
>tall >>>>> people. And yes, it is true that tall 
>blind people who don't use guide >>>>> dogs or 
>some sort of hand guide device/echolocation are 
>going to miss >>>>> those overhead branches. 
>However, suing could set a bad precedent 
>as >>>>> it >>>>> would reaify the notion that 
>obstacles of any kind are hazardous to >>>>> 
>blind >>>>> people because we are blind; the 
>public may take this incident and >>>>> 
>generalize it to all obstacles whether they're 
>really an inconvenience >>>>> to >>>>> one/all 
>of us or not. > >>>>> Respectfully, >>>>> 
>Jedi > >>>>> Original message: >>>>>> I thought 
>this story was interesting. What do you think? 
>Is the >>>>>> lawsuit appropriate? > >>>>>> 
>Arielle >>>>>> Blind man sues Wienerschnitzel 
>over run-in with tree > >>>>>> 
> >>>>>> By bob mims > >>>>>> The Salt Lake 
>Tribune > >>>>>> Updated Aug 12, 2010 
>10:59PM >>>>>> All Nathan Reynolds wanted was a 
>hot dog. Instead, as the blind man >>>>>> walked 
>toward a Wienerschnitzel restaurant last year, 
>he got a face >>>>>> full of tree — and severe 
>neck injuries. > >>>>>> Now, the 36--year-old 
>Utah County man has filed a personal 
>injury >>>>>> lawsuit against the owners of the 
>Wienerschnitzel at the corner of >>>>>> North 
>Temple and 800 West in Salt Lake City. > >>>>>> 
>The complaint contends that on June 9, 2009, 
>Reynolds — who had been >>>>>> on his way to the 
>UUtah School for the Deaf and the Blind — got 
>off a >>>>>>> bus near the Wienerschnitzel to 
>get a meal. As the 6-foot-5 man >>>>>> navigated 
>toward the entrance with his cane swinging in 
>front of him, >>>>>> he hit the tree, which the 
>suit contends had encroached on the >>>>>> 
>sidewalk. > >>>>>> “The tree struck him 
>squarely in the face and knocked him to 
>the >>>>>> ground,” states the suit, filed 
>Tuesday. “The tree was allowed to >>>>>> 
>grow >>>>>> in such a way that it was impossible 
>for Mr. Reynolds to detect its >>>>>> presence 
>by use of his cane.” > >>>>>> The suit argues 
>that because the tree was “rooted in the 
>ground far >>>>>> to >>>>>> one side of the 
>sidewalk and [had grown] diagonally across 
>the >>>>>> sidewalk,” it had become a “clear 
>hazard.” > >>>>>> Reynolds seeks unspecified 
>reimbursement for past and future medical >>>>>> 
>expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering 
>stemming from alleged >>>>>> negligence in the 
>maintenance of the tree. > >>>>>> Along with 
>Grundmann Enterprises of South Jordan, the owner 
>of the >>>>>> eatery, Reynolds’ 3rd District 
>Court suit names Salt Lake City Corp. >>>>>> and 
>five John Does as defendants. Reynolds seeks a 
>jury trial; 3rd >>>>>> District Judge Sandra 
>Peuler has been assigned the case. > >>>>>> 
>Daniel J. Grundmann of Grundmann Enterprises 
>declined to comment >>>>>> Wednesday, noting he 
>had not yet been served with the suit. > >>>>>> 
>Tom Amberger, vice president of marketing for 
>Irvine, Calif.-based >>>>>> Galaradi Group Inc., 
>which runs Wienerschnitzel, also declined 
>to >>>>>> discuss the case. “We are unaware of 
>this lawsuit and will look into >>>>>> it,” he 
>said. > >>>>>> Ed Rutan, city attorney for Salt 
>Lake City, would not comment, >>>>>> 
>either, >>>>>> citing the pending nature of the 
>litigation. > > >>>>>> __._,_.___ > > >>>>>> 
>-- >>>>>> Arielle Silverman >>>>>> President, 
>National Association of Blind Students >>>>>> 
>Phone:  602-502-2255 >>>>>> Email: >>>>>> 
>nabs.president at gmail.com >>>>>> Website: >>>>>> 
>www.nabslink.org > >>>>>> 
>_______________________________________________ > 
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                         David Andrews:  dandrews at visi.com
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