[NFB-Talk] IRS Lawsuit

mike at michaelhingson.com mike at michaelhingson.com
Fri Jul 26 00:38:07 UTC 2019

Hi Kaye,

Thanks for your post. My take is a bit different from yours, but here goes.

Yes we want to be first class citizens, with all that that implies. However,
"first class" does not mean that we should expect only to have access to
information in the same way as non-blind people. If we lived in a truly
inclusive society mechanisms would be in place to ensure that ALL persons
had equal and full access to all that society has to offer.

As Chris' email and the litigation argument states, years ago the IRS was
ordered by the courts to make information available in alternative forms
such as Braille. The IRS did not do so. On that score there is no magic
here. I must wonder what the IRS does for Spanish speaking citizens if they
can't read English. Is there a mechanism for dealing with this? If so, the
IRS already has a vehicle for addressing different populations. Of course,
general forms already are produced in languages other than English.

So, what we are dealing with here are those specific pieces of information,
(Notices and specific letters), that don't fall into the general information
category. It would be extremely easy for the IRS to flag individual accounts
and send out the appropriate materials in the relevant formats if the
organization offered a service wherein anyone could put in their file
through the web or via some other vehicle a request to have information
provided in a specific manner. Again, really there is no magic here.

I do not know Karen's specific situation and why she did not see the first
notice. For all I know she had a reader who wasn't thorough. That is not
something any of could or should speak to. Perhaps her KNFB Reader Mobile
couldn't adequately read the notice and she heard enough to think what she
received was junk or a scam. Probably she wasn't using Aira to read her
mail. No matter what, she didn't recognize the notice which was sent without
regard to her need to receive personal information from the IRS in an
alternative format.

Through the ADA and other legal mechanisms it is clear that the IRS did not
live up to its responsibility. The main reason we should be able to get
personal IRS information is so that we can PERSONALLY read it without
relying on others to be involved. Put it this way. Should we not have
accessible voting machines and other personal ways to vote only because as
first class citizens we should be able and willing to use the machines most
people use? If so, then no ballots should be in Spanish and we shouldn't
have any voting booths that are accessible to people in wheelchairs. I
guarantee you that if my wife, a paraplegic individual, could not get into a
voting booth she would pitch a fit that would even deafen the president. I
submit that being a first class citizen means that we should have the rights
and expectations to be included everywhere and that our responsibilities
including educating others about how to be inclusive  are part of what we
must do until the need for accessibility has disappeared.

Many years ago, our first president, Jacobus tenBroek wrote an article
entitled "A Preference for Equality". This was a stripped down version of
his speech "The Pros and Cons of Preferential Treatment". In the Article Dr.
tenBroek explained that "equality" did not mean that everyone did exactly
the same thing in the same way. Equal treatment meant, Dr. tenBroek said,
that we as blind people had the right to expect that, where appropriate,
alternative processes and tools should be made available in order that we as
blind people had a way to accomplish the same tasks as the rest of society.
I have not seen the tenBroek's article in many years. Perhaps Gary Wunder
could find it and put it in the Monitor. If it is available at www.nfb.org
I'd love to know where it is.

Again, thanks for your post. I think you have begun a good and relevant
philosophical discussion. 

Best Regards,

Michael Hingson

-----Original Message-----
From: nFB-Talk On Behalf Of Kaye Baker via nFB-Talk
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2019 4:54 PM
To: 'NFB Talk Mailing List' <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
Cc: Kaye Baker <kaye.j.zimpher at gmail.com>
Subject: [NFB-Talk] IRS Lawsuit

Hello list:

I don't post here often, but a recent message I read from Chris Danielson
got my attention. The post alleges that the NFB will file suit against the
IRS for not sending Braille notices to blind taxpayers. I have to say, that
in general, I have agreed with most endeavors the NFB has taken on, but I
find this one to be a bit flawed. First, the post states that the agency
should mail Braille/large print notices to blind Taxpayers. How would an
agency that processes over 100 million returns per year keep up with this
information? Some of us do self identify by checking the "blindness" box on
the return, but many do not. Furthermore, there are a number of Taxpayers
who are blind and who do not read Braille. Secondly, I think there should be
a sense of personal responsibility here. I can speak for myself only, but I
feel it is my responsibility to read my own mail. Technology has advanced to
the point that I no longer need a sighted reader, and while I rarely receive
paper letters of importance, I use technology to read them as often as I get
time. We all strive to be first class citizens, and for access to be
afforded to us just as our piers would, but we also have to take ownership
of our own situations.

Please accept this message as it was intended. I do not mean to criticize
any person, but I am simply voicing my opinion. I am sure there will be
those who disagree and that is your right.

Best regards

Kaye Baker

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