[Perform-talk] Washington Post Reports Passing of Blind Advocate
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Sun Jul 12 17:01:35 UTC 2009
From the Washington Post:
Advocate for Blind Helped Craft Disabilities Law
By T. Rees Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Harold W. Snider, 61, a prominent advocate for the blind who helped
craft legislation that expanded the civil rights of Americans with
aided in the launching of an audible newspaper service, died June 26 at
his home in Rockville after a heart attack.
While growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., Mr. Snider said he was forced
out of regular third-grade classes because he was blind. His parents
sued the Duval
County school system, and Mr. Snider became the first blind student in
the county to graduate from public school.
The experience launched Mr. Snider's interest in advocacy, and in the
mid-1970s he reportedly became the first blind employee of the
As a handicap program coordinator for the fledgling National Air and
Space Museum, he worked to make the facility a vivid experience for the
"You can't look at the spacecraft, so you touch it, or you hold a model
of it or a raised line picture of it," Mr. Snider told United Press
in 1976. "You can't see an airplane, so you hear its engine roar."
In 1978, he started Access for the Handicapped, a District-based
consulting company for guidance on policy, technology and resources for
people with disabilities.
Through his company, he worked on projects for people with disabilities
around the world, including Zambia, Ecuador and South Korea.
After Mr. Snider worked for the Republican National Committee on
disability issues, President George H.W. Bush appointed him in 1990 as
director of the National Council on Disability. In that role, he served
as a liaison among the council, the White House, Congress and the media.
He also helped draft the sweeping Americans With Disabilities Act of
1990, which broadened civil rights already protected in earlier
legislation. The act
guarantees protection of disabled people from discrimination in the
public and private sectors and regardless of whether agencies or
After Mr. Snider left the council in 1992, he worked in conjunction with
the National Federation of the Blind to develop NFB-Newsline, a free
newspaper and magazine service that includes daily editions of The
Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall
among its more than 250 publications. It debuted in 1994 and claims more
than 50,000 users.
In addition, Mr. Snider was a former chairman of Montgomery County's
Commission on People With Disabilities.
Harold Wexler Snider, whose father was a dentist, was born Sept. 6,
1947, in Jacksonville. He graduated in 1969 from Georgetown University's
School of Foreign
Service, where he was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, but
told UPI that he was not allowed to take the Foreign Service examination
In 1970, he received his master's degree in British imperial and
commonwealth history from the University of London and did postgraduate
work at the University
About this time, he married Gail Lovelace, a British woman who also was
blind. They divorced in 1994, the same year he married Linda Fossett.
remained on good terms, with the two wives calling each other
Survivors include his second wife, of Rockville; two children from his
first marriage, David Snider of Alexandria and Ellen Underwood of
three stepchildren; his mother, Shirley Snider of Jacksonville; two
sisters; and three grandchildren.
Mr. Snider collected antique phones and music boxes, played the
accordion, and spoke fluent French and Spanish. He was considered
outspoken and sometimes
called militant in his role as an advocate. But he also said he saw a
value in using humor to make sighted people feel comfortable around him.
He said he was sometimes asked how blind people performed tasks such as
crossing the street, cutting a sandwich or, as the more curious would
"I tell them I do it like everybody else," Mr. Snider told the New York
Times. "In the dark."
© 2009 The Washington Post Company
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