[nabs-l] First Class Citizenship

Julie McGinnity kaybaycar at gmail.com
Tue Apr 12 20:47:42 UTC 2016


Hi all,

According to Jernigan, we would only find that we are first class
citizens when we are anonymous in society.  I can look up the speech
if any of you are interested.

I am prepared to tell you that we are not anonymous as blind people,
but I am not yet able to say that society is against us and leave it
at that.  A lack of
education leads the public to treat us less than respectfully upon
occasion.  But let's take a moment to consider how those
attitudes arose.  Misunderstanding, lack of education certainly, but I
believe they also come from a fear of the unknown.  And don't we share
that very fear when we encounter someone who is different from
ourselves?

After all, we're not the only ones who are not anonymous in society.
Jernigan's definition may not even be accurate in explaining why blind
people could be considered second class citizens.  I believe that
unfortunately for Mr. Jernigan, blind people will never be anonymous.
My dog and I will always receive open stares from the public, whether
or not I see them.  You and I will stil be second guessed upon
occasion about taking on some risk or challenge because we are blind,
and you know, it could be harder for us.

We can't blend into a crowd or disappear at a big university.  But
maybe we can show our sighted peers the normalcy of blindness.  Part
of my job is performing technology demonstrations.  When I present on
Jaws, I focus in on my everyday use of a screen reader.  To the
sighted observer, the screen reader is an alien voice that reads
impossibly fast and never speaks the part of the screen where the
mouse is pointing; however, to us the screen reader equals how we use
the computer.  By the end of my presentations, they usually
understand.  It's a beautiful process.

One more thing...  Last week at my university there was an
accessibility fair.  A chapter member and I sat outside and Brailled
names.  I had my Braille Note and iPhone at the ready to show people
how I could use the Bluetooth to read and write texts.  One of my
colleagues came up to get her name Brailled, but we spent most of the
time chatting because she had already seen Braille and my chatty tech.
This stuff was familiar to her.

So...  For what it's worth, I don't believe that we are always second
class citizens.  We cannot expect to be treated as though we are, and
that is part of our trap.  Enough people jump at us before thinking
and allow their miseducation to guide them when interacting with us,
and we react to that by expecting these attitudes.  Do we sometimes
feel like second class citizens?  Yes, undoubtedly we all have felt
that way.  But does that mean we should accept that status?  No, not
for a second.  We may not be anonymous, but we are most certainly
human beings, messy and complicated like everyone else.  And our goal
shouldn't be to disappear but to carve out our place as a unique, yet
normal, demographic of society.

Just some thoughts...  :)


On 4/12/16, Munawar Bijani via nabs-l <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> This Email is very well written; you articulated an important point
> eloquently. We cannot expect change if we refuse to change ourselves.
> Many of us tend to find excuses or start blaming the system for what is
> wrong with our respective situations, when in reality the problem could
> be ourselves for not trying hard enough or whining about how unfair the
> world is.
>
> We have to jump through hoops because society's expectations of us is
> very low. There is no changing this fact. As blind people we have to be
> ready to jump through whatever hoops we need to so that we may prove a
> point. If we sit back and whine about how things ought to be, we will
> never get anywhere. Just because we have to work a little harder than
> our sighted counterparts does not mean we are second-class citizens; it
> only means we have an avenue for achieving equality by working harder,
> so we must take it.
>
> On 4/12/2016 12:00 PM, Christina Moore via nabs-l wrote:
>> No group in society has every achieved the equality they have without
>> putting in a lot of effort themselves.
>> As a population we need to show the world that we can be successful.
>> The more of us that go against perceptions of our abilities the closer
>> we get to this status.
>> Personally, I believe we do have equal access as others in this
>> country.  Yes, we have barriers but we can choose to face them or let
>> them define us.
>> We have to meet each other halfway.  We cannot expect the rest of
>> society to do all of the work.  At first we may have to do more than
>> them but this has been the case throughout history.
>> God Bless,
>> Christina
>>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Darian Smith via nabs-l <nabs-l at nfbnet.org
>> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
>> <nabs-l at nfbnet.org
>> Date sent: Tue, 12 Apr 2016 08:51:46 -0700
>> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] First Class Citizenship
>>
>> How do we secure this  level of citizenship for ourselves?
>> On Apr 12, 2016, at 5:37 AM, justin williams via nabs-l
>> <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>>
>> The same as our counterparts who are nondisabled.  I shouldn't half to
>> jump
>> through more hoops to prove anything.
>> Justin
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: nabs-l [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Darian Smith
>> via nabs-l
>> Sent: Monday, April 11, 2016 6:21 PM
>> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
>> <nabs-l at nfbnet.org
>> Cc: Darian Smith <dsmithnfb at gmail.com
>> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] First Class Citizenship
>>
>> Do you believe  that there is more then a right that we should demand? Do
>> you think there is a responsibility we have as well?
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-- 
Julie A. McGinnity
President, National Federation of the Blind Performing Arts Division,
Second Vice President, National Federation of the Blind of Missouri
"For we walk by faith, not by sight"
2 Cor. 7



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