[nfb-talk] Proposal to Decrease Unemployment Among the Blind

Eddie jazzdogg1 at comcast.net
Sat Feb 28 10:16:19 UTC 2009

The points you all have made are realistic and deserve consideration.  I 
hope to give a measure of thoughtfulness to my response.
The point was made that employers understand concrete demonstrations such as 
a blind person bringing in access technology for them to see.  This would go 
a long way toward breaking down those misconceptions, since some of those 
false beliefs come down to reservations about how we would perform our 
duties.  If rehab agencies and state commissions for the blind were 
satisfactory, gainful employment would not even be an issue.  The fact is 
that by the time a rehab agency could send someone out to do a tech 
assessment on a job site, the employer would be able to hire someone sighted 
off the street to do the same job without the hastle as they see it.  These 
entities are too bogged down in red tape to be of any useful benefit.  A 
friend of mine here in Colorado was told that she would have to wait six 
months from the time her case was opened until she got a job.  There is no 
question that a sighted person could get a job much quicker, even if it was 
a job flipping hamburgers.

The NFB loan program, while a worthwhile endeavor, would not be enough to 
cover a job site that required a Braille display and scripting with JAWS 
because the maximum one could take out is $3000.  This technology cost 
$10,000 but I was lucky in that my employer paid for it all.  That is a very 
rare situation indeed.

This is why I believe my idea would work.  It would prevent the vicious 
cycle of getting a job and not having the technology to perform on terms of 
equality.  It may also address the point that non-working blind individuals 
would be able to access a pool of already available funds to purchase the 
required items.  We definitely need to start chipping away at the 
misconceptions people harbor toward us.  These funds would also be earmarked 
for local affiliates to go out into their communities and talk to business 
leaders one on one about hiring people with disabilities.  I see one or 2 
full-time paid employment specialists for each chapter.  In cases where this 
is not possible, one or two specialists for every 3 or 4 chapters may 

We as blind people should be candid with employers.  This includes 
addressing their fears and reservations in an open and honest manner.  It 
should not be illegal under the ADA for employers to ask how we perform our 
job functions.  Of course, most of us preempt this by informing them anyway. 
The chilling affect on 1st amendment rights and an open dialogue should be 
removed nonetheless.  This of course, would involve legislative activity on 
our part if we are willing to undertake it.

As I discussed previously, we would need to institute a capital campaign and 
give 110 percent as we did to build the Jernigan Institute, and we should 
raise funds on that same scale in order to even begin to address these 
problems.  This might be done through the imagination fund as I stated.  I 
invision the membership addressing this with state and local leaders first, 
then eventually on the national level.

There are four ideas for fundraising that I have come up with.  We can call 
people we know--family, friends, business associates.  I will set myself a 
goal to contact 20 people by phone.  Utilizing our email address books is 
also a great way to get in touch with several hundreds of people in one 
blast.  The pac plan could also be used for this purpose.  Myspace and 
facebook can provide great opportunities to reach people.

It is my sincere desire that we start the ball rolling on this as an 
Eddie Salcido----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Antonio M. Guimaraes" <iamantonio at cox.net>
To: "NFB Talk Mailing List" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 9:20 PM
Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Proposal to Decrease Unemployment Among the Blind

> Another problem with companies is that they think hiring a blind person 
> means big and expensive adaptations in the workplace.
> Sometimes that is exactly the case, but if money is spent to accomodate 
> one, or two, or 5 blind people, then the price of accomodating the next 50 
> or 100 blind people drops significantly.
> I'm sure there is a name for this sort of thing, scale, or some 
> statistical concept, but if computer systems are made accessible, and it 
> costs $100000 in two years, the spenditures might be dropped to $10000 in 
> the next 5 years to maintain accessibility.
> Antonio Guimaraes
> If an infinite number of rednecks riding in an infinite number of pickup 
> trucks fire an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an infinite number of 
> highway signs, they will eventually produce all the world's great literary 
> works in Braille.
> Shop online and support the NFB of RI at no additional cost to you.
> http://www.givebackamerica.com/charity.php?b=169
> Givebackamerica.org, America's Online Charity Shopping Mall
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Alan Wheeler" <awheeler at neb.rr.com>
> To: "NFB Talk Mailing List" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 4:33 PM
> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Proposal to Decrease Unemployment Among the Blind
>> Yes, a big part of the problem is that sighted employers have this 
>> misconception that blindness = lack of brain function...that if the eyes 
>> don't work, the brain certainly doesn't either...and we all know that is 
>> dead wrong.
>> In Christ,
>> Alan
>> +-+-+-
>>   Sing to him a new song. Play skillfully with a shout of joy!
>> Psalms 33:3
>> ~~~
>> awheeler at neb.rr.com
>> IM me at: outlaw-cowboy at live.com
>> Skype: redwheel1
>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> From: "David Andrews" <dandrews at visi.com>
>> To: "NFB Talk Mailing List" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
>> Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 01:59
>> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Proposal to Decrease Unemployment Among the Blind
>>> Eddie:
>>> We certainly need ideas and discussion about how to lessen the
>>> unemployment rate for blind persons.  Your idea might help some, but
>>> I don't think it gets at the real causes of the problem.  The problem
>>> isn't getting technology into the hands of the job seeker, it is the
>>> attitudinal barriers against hiring the blind that the sighted public
>>> holds.  Simply put we can't find that many jobs and job sites where
>>> people are willing to give blind guys a chance.  We also need more
>>> work in finding ways and developing  technologies to make different
>>> kinds of job tasks accessible.  Finally, I have observed that many
>>> blind persons who are looking for work just don't have strong enough
>>> computer skills.  Providing them with technology more easily might
>>> help some, but the main problem is training.
>>> Dave
>>> At 09:13 AM 2/27/2009, you wrote:
>>>>Dear List Members,
>>>>I would like to propose an as yet very general outline on how to
>>>>improve the unemployment numbers in the blindness community.  I am
>>>>open to suggestions on how this may play out in actuality.
>>>>We have heard the 70 percent unemployment statistic for the last 30
>>>>years with little or no fluctuation.  I propose a capital campaign
>>>>not unlike the one initiated to build the Jernigan Institute.  The
>>>>funds raised by this effort would be exclusively used to purchase
>>>>access technology for blind job seekers, effectively bypassing the
>>>>red tape often experienced with state departments of rehabilitation
>>>>and other governmental employment agencies.  We know that employers
>>>>are extremely hesitant to hire people with disabilities due to the
>>>>perceived expenses involved in doing so.  This would affectively
>>>>nullify that concern while demonstrating that we are some of the
>>>>most dedicated and loyal workers once we obtain gainful
>>>>employment.  Perhaps funds for this project could be incorporated
>>>>under the umbrella of the imagination fund.  While some may argue
>>>>that this effectively turns the NFB into a rehab agency, I posit
>>>>that we could do this kind of work as we have undertaken every other
>>>>project--with a high level of standards and expectation for our
>>>>members, along with a positive philosophy of blindness. Please
>>>>respond with ideas and thoughts.
>>>>Eddie Salcido
>>>>nfb-talk mailing list
>>>>nfb-talk at nfbnet.org
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