[blindkid] Community track

Peter Donahue pdonahue1 at sbcglobal.net
Fri Apr 9 17:13:10 UTC 2010

Hello Albert and everyone,

    The NFB also has a sports and recreation division and could be of 

Peter Donahue

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Albert J Rizzi" <albert at myblindspot.org>
To: "'NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)'" 
<blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Friday, April 09, 2010 8:18 AM
Subject: Re: [blindkid] Community track

First andf foremost the commissioner is off base. She is border line
discriminatory in her approach. I did not get in your communication that you
were asking for any accommodation at all, just the opposite, you simply
asked that he not be expected to compete until such time as he properly
transitioned into the experience. If also, a community organization, using
school property which is funded by federal and state dollars is much more
required to adhere to the ADA because of funding and such, but the ADA does
not exclude any organization from adhering to the laws. I would suggest
countering with more current and updated regulations, perhaps contacting the
ACB as I know they have a huge recreational and sports division that has
just celebrated I believe 30 years of success. There is no Godly reason why
your son should be denied access to the track, let alone due to the ignorant
fact that others observing him could cause discomfort. I am also here to add
that a para professional is not at all studied in the areas of special needs
and unless and until she has either a masters or a doctorate in special ed,
with a specific focus on albinism and visual impairments I would ignore her
thoughts on special needs and how to address them. I would suggest penning a
letter to the board or to whomever she reports to, include your local
assemblyman or congressman as well. I would also write to the school board
to educate them on the rhetoric this woman is spouting off. It is
unfortunate that you have to go through this, but you are now an advocate
and an educator for life. Stay strong and never allow yourself or your son
to be intimidated by the ignorant and mean hearted. Peace.

Albert J. Rizzi, M.Ed.
My Blind Spot, Inc.
90 Broad Street - 18th Fl.
New York, New York  10004
PH: 917-553-0347
Fax: 212-858-5759
"The person who says it cannot be done, shouldn't interrupt the one who is
doing it."

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-----Original Message-----
From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Carly B
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2010 11:29 PM
To: blindkid at nfbnet.org
Subject: [blindkid] Community track

Hi all! I'm an avid reader of this list and I am so impressed with the
excellent advice and support that's offered here! So I'm coming to you for a
bit of that for our family. We adopted our son Brian two years ago. He has
albinism and with it, low vision. He is 7 years old and in 1st grade. We
signed him up for community Track this spring. He had his first practice
tonight. In an effort to create a comfortable adjustment, I contacted the
coach (it's a husband/wife team, and I spoke with the wife) and asked her if
I could tell her a little bit about our son. We had a very pleasant,
hour-long conversation. She has a teaching background, a son with a
disability, and seemed very understanding, warm, and willing to be
accomodating. That said, I didn't ask for any "unusual" accomodations, like
equipment or a one-on-one coach. His needs actually relate more to his
having been institutionalized for the first five years of his life, and he
is still playing catch-up in terms of skills like jumping with both feet and
landing with both feet, as well as other coordination skills. I mentioned
that he has a strong aversion to loud sounds, especially sudden sounds, and
that he cannot stand the sound of the gun. I said that I want him to
participate in practices but not in meets, and that in the next year or so
when he is better able to tolerate the gun then he can start attending
meets. For now, I just want him to have the peer experience and hopefully
gain some skill and confidence. She said she thought that was an excellent

Well, when I arrived at practice, the Track Commissioner was there. She came
over and greeted me, and then proceeded to explain to me that she is quite
concerned about Brian's safety and the safety of the other players. She
mentioned this at least three times in the course of our 45-minute
conversation. I was shocked... will I ever stop being shocked? She also said
that the "Board" has a policy on the website (implying strongly that I
should have known about it and read it ahead of time) that requires any
child with special needs must have a written request for accomodations. (She
had a copy with her. It's dated December, 1998) It states that the request
must be made in writing, it must include "the child's name, parent's names,
the sport, diagnosis and its affect on the child's ability to participate in
the sport, as well as the type of acommodation requested" and must be
submitted to the Board, and that "No request for accommodation will be
considered if these procedures are not followed." In other words, my calling
the coach to discuss Brian ahead of time was woefully insufficient. The
policy also states: "Reasonable accomodations are actions, which can be
taken that will not place undue hardship on the association and its members.
No accommodation will be granted which will expose any participant to an
undue risk of harm." As far as I could determine, this policy has not been
updated since 1998. (I should add that I'm pretty certain that the
Commissioner involved herself when the coach contacted her to ask about
whether there was any other signal they could use other than the gun. This
was a suggestion the coach made to me in our conversation, not the other way
around, and I specifically said this probably wasn't fair to ask for and
something I wouldn't expect. I think she was bending over backwards to
accomodate us, and asked the Commissioner about it on our behalf... hence
the visit to practice tonight.)

The Commissioner mentioned that "special needs" are her "area" but when I
asked for specifics, she said she is an elementary school paraprofessional
working with kids who have autism, ADHD, EBD and the like but has never
worked with a blind or low vision child before. I tried to take this as an
opportunity to educate, but it was not easy. She was the most ignorant and
resistant person I've come into contact with to date. In the course of our
conversation, she stressed that her coaches are all volunteers and that it
was very unfair to think that they should accomodate Brian in any way. She
added that many of them would probably quit if a child like Brian were to
enroll on their team. She admitted, however, that Brian's coach didn't
complain about anything I had told her about Brian and did not seem unduly
concerned. I told her that it was never my intention to drop and go, and
that I would be doing much of the accomodating myself. (I had said this to
the coach in our earlier conversation.) Toward the end of our conversation,
she added that she is also very concerned about how other parents will feel
when they see Brian in Track. Then she said, "You know what I mean, I'm
sure." I said, "Actually, I really haven't met anyone who has been concerned
about Brian in that way." She seemed very fixated on the idea that Brian's
presence creates some kind of grave danger for everyone involved.

I am wondering specifically if ADA or IDEA address what in my opinion is a
draconian policy, and whether this organization falls under the umbrella of
either. It's a community sports organization which as far as I can tell,
doesn't receive any funding from the school district, but does use the
public school facilities. I'm not thinking about bringing legal action, but
I like to know what the law provides, more as an opportunity to educate, not
to bully.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts. God bless! --Carolynn Barnes
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