[NFB-Talk] civil disobedience question

Jim blind.grizzly at gmail.com
Mon Jan 13 21:46:22 UTC 2020

BTW, Jack, thanks for posting the link to Dr. Jernigan's ADA reflections article.  It was a good read, and it refreshed important details.  Fortunately, we will never know if Dr. Jernigan's fears would have become reality because the NFB successfully influenced Congress to include legal language in the ADA protecting the right to decline accommodations.  I can't quite imagine a world that would force me, as a blind person, to behave in ways that are not part of who I am.  I feel great gratitude for Dr. Jernigan because he was bright enough to see the problem and strong enough to do something about it.  I get that some may get stuck in the fact that he and the NFB threatened to oppose the passage of the ADA, but when one reads what was troubling about the legislation, I don't see how anyone could object.

Jim Marks
blind.grizzly at gmail.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim [mailto:blind.grizzly at gmail.com] 
Sent: Monday, January 13, 2020 1:57 PM
To: 'Jack Heim' <john at johnheim.com>; 'NFB Talk Mailing List' <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>; mike at michaelhingson.com
Cc: 'Chris Westbrook' <westbchris at gmail.com>
Subject: RE: [NFB-Talk] civil disobedience question

When it comes to legislation, one either supports, opposes, or provides information regarding a bill.  Being indifferent is not really a position even though not endorsing something, I suppose, is likely the most common reaction on any legislation.  I understand now that you are saying the NFB support for the ADA was weak.  I believe it was strong.  The NFB threatened to oppose the ADA unless it was amended to include the opt out clause.  Once that clause became part of the legislation, the NFB supported the ADA.  That seems like an engaged and influential position to me.  You’re right that many NFB members, including some leaders of our organization, were lukewarm about the ADA.  The prevailing NFB attitude before the 1990s was that blind people were better off taking on personal responsibilities than to rely on accessible environments.  I think this philosophy persists since blind people have to function in any environment, accessible or otherwise.  We need as many tools in the toolbox as we can, and both personal responsibility and accessibility are essential tools.  Today’s reliance on technology presses the matter far more intensely than ever before, but the philosophies that blind people should hold high expectations for ourselves, to raise our own voices, and to refrain from relying on others are still important values.  After all, I bet we all agree that depending on the kindness of others should never be our sole response to inaccessibility and exclusion.  We must demonstrate enough power to make good things happen for ourselves, don’t you think?

Jim Marks
blind.grizzly at gmail.com
(406) 438-1421

-----Original Message-----
From: Jack Heim [mailto:john at johnheim.com]
Sent: Monday, January 13, 2020 12:55 PM
To: Jim <blind.grizzly at gmail.com>; 'NFB Talk Mailing List' <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>; mike at michaelhingson.com
Cc: 'Chris Westbrook' <westbchris at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NFB-Talk] civil disobedience question

Just to be clear, I didn't say the NFB opposed the ADA. But I don't think the NFB ever endorsed the ADA when it was originally in Congress in 1990 either. I can provide a link to a Braille Monitor article where Dr. Jernigan explains his opposition. But I can find no evidence that the NFB ever changed its position and supported the ADA. Here's that link:


Obviously, I'd be very interested in evidence that I am mistaken. If the NFB ever changed its position, I don't think it was ever stated in the Braille Monitor.

On 1/13/20 1:19 PM, Jim wrote:
> Just a quick fact check.  The NFB did not oppose the ADA.  Rather, the 
> NFB said it would oppose the ADA unless it included a clause that let 
> people with disabilities opt out of an accommodation.  Unfortunately, 
> it's all too common for many, including other disability rights 
> groups, to ignore what we blind folks want.  The disregard requires us 
> to take some strong positions in our advocacy.  The ADA clause became 
> part of the law, and the NFB supported the passage of the ADA.  This 
> means it's illegal to force a person with a disability into taking an 
> accommodation.  In other words, saying thanks, but no thanks is a 
> civil right.  One example of this would be hotels placing all 
> customers with disabilities into their accessible rooms.  One should 
> have the right to choose.  We all know that perhaps the biggest 
> barrier blind Americans face is the low expectations of others and 
> ourselves.  Insisting that blind people are whole human beings who can 
> decide for ourselves is a critical part of the ADA, thanks to the advocacy of the NFB.  I'm proud that the Federation took the stance it did.
> Jim Marks
> blind.grizzly at gmail.com

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