[NFB-Talk] civil disobedience question

Jack Heim john at johnheim.com
Tue Jan 14 00:54:51 UTC 2020

Jim, this world does not have a problem with blind people being given so 
many accomodations that they stop doing things for themselves. That is 
not a problem.

How many times do we have to have this debate on this list? We just had 
it a few weeks ago when we discussed  a mom who demanded that her son's 
certificate of achievement be brailled. Its always the same dam thing! 
Watch out, you don't want to give a blind person the idea that they can  
get anything simply by asking for it. Since when has that ever been a 

The bottom line is that the NFB has made one mistake after another. The 
ADA is the most valuable civil rights legislation for disabled people in 
human history. I deliberately put that hyperbolically but its true. 
Other countries have modeled their laws after the ADA. People in the 
European Union envy our ADA. The NFB could have said, "Wow, this is 
huge. Lets see what the power of the NFB can do to make sure it passes." 
The NFB's lack of support for the ADA is a stain on it's history.

So is the NFB's choice to fight the ACB in its lawsuit against the 
government on accessible money. And the NFB's siding with TV and movie 
producers on audio descriptions. And organizing protests against 
accessible pedestrian signals.

I do not know how many times I've made this point on this list... This 
attitude that we should take care of ourselves is destructive toward our 
goals. Of course people should do as much for themselves as they can but 
that has nothing to do with advocacy. It gets in the way and prevents 
the NFB from being an effective advocacy group.

On 1/13/20 2:56 PM, Jim wrote:
> 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:
> https://www.nfb.org/sites/www.nfb.org/files/images/nfb/publications/bm/bm90/brlm9002.htm
> 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
>> (406) 438-1421
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: nFB-Talk [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Jack
>> Heim via nFB-Talk
>> Sent: Monday, January 13, 2020 11:28 AM
>> To: mike at michaelhingson.com; 'NFB Talk Mailing List'
>> <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
>> Cc: Jack Heim <john at johnheim.com>; 'Chris Westbrook'
>> <westbchris at gmail.com>
>> Subject: Re: [NFB-Talk] civil disobedience question
>> Okay, I am willing to listen. What do we have today that we wouldn't
>> have if the NFB hadn't fought for it?
>> The reason those of us with guide dogs have access to public places
>> has nothing to do with the NFB. Guide dog schools pre-date the NFB and
>> the NFB was not supportive of the ADA.
>> You're missing the point with respect to that essay by Dr. Jernigan.
>> The point is not that today, most of us would consider his opinion wrong.
>> Its that the reason he came out against guide dogs was because they
>> inconvenienced the general public. Dr. Jernigan didn't believe in
>> fighting for accommodations that would make the general public
>> uncomfortable. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe Dr. Jernigan was right and Adapt is wrong.
>> PS: It is extremely rude for you to accuse me of not having facts in a
>> message where you do nothing but state your own totally
>> unsubstantiated opinions. The only one who as actually provided facts here is me.
>> On 1/13/20 11:50 AM, mike at michaelhingson.com wrote:
>>> Jack,
>>> In fact, while you state part of the facts you do not tell the entire
>> story.
>>> Dr. Jernigan later acknowledged that he was wrong.
>>> The NFB has done more toward advocating for the rights of blind
>>> persons than ANY organization. Best proof is the size of NAGDU both
>>> as a division as well as the amount of activity on this list.
>>> No, you are incorrect. The NFB knows ore about advocacy and defending
>>> our rights than anyone. If you read my earlier contribution to this
>>> thread you should have seen that even this organization is prepared
>>> to
>> protest.
>>> I will not debate you further except to say that you need to get ALL
>>> your facts together before making the kind of broad sweeping comments
>>> you did here.
>>> Best Regards,
>>> Michael Hingson
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: nFB-Talk On Behalf Of Jack Heim via nFB-Talk
>>> Sent: Monday, January 13, 2020 9:33 AM
>>> To: NFB Talk Mailing List <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
>>> Cc: Jack Heim <john at johnheim.com>; Chris Westbrook
>>> <westbchris at gmail.com>
>>> Subject: Re: [NFB-Talk] civil disobedience question
>>> You cannot learn anything about advocacy by asking the people on this
>> list.
>>> All the people on this list can give you is their personal
>>> preferences
>>> -- which on this list will very much tend toward the conservative. If
>>> you want to know whether a polite or a confrontational approach to
>>> protesting works better, you cannot learn that from the people on
>>> this lis, they don't know anything about advocacy.
>>> The NFB itself has been extraordinarily conservative over the years.
>>> In 1995, the Braille Monitor held a debate over the use of guide dogs.
>>> https://www.nfb.org/sites/www.nfb.org/files/images/nfb/publications/b
>>> m
>>> /bm95/
>>> brlm9510.htm
>>> The extraordinary thing about that issue of the Braille Monitor was
>>> an essay by Kenneth Jernigan expressing his opinion that guide dogs
>>> were an unnecessary burden on society. So you can guess what he'd
>>> have thought of Adapt.
>>> On 1/13/20 9:10 AM, Chris Westbrook via nFB-Talk wrote:
>>>> I'm curious to know what my fellow NF members think of something. I
>>>> am on the board of a local organization here (not NFB or blindness
>>>> related) and some people from that organization decided to protest
>>>> lack of wheelchair access by totally disrupting the inauguration
>>>> ceremony for new politicians, to the point where they were arrested
>>>> and almost charged with disorderly conduct etc. As you can imagine
>>>> this has sparked some controversy. I don't want to get in to more
>>>> detail here as I am on the board and we haven't discussed things
>>>> yet, but i'm just curious if anyone feels such militant protests are
>>>> ever justified? I am inclined to say no and definitely not in this
>>>> specific case for other reasons I won't get into here. This protest
>>>> was apparently enabled/aided by ADAPT which seems to be a very in
>>>> your face organization that is bad news in my opinion. It seems to
>>>> me that such protests can only hurt our cause. I think we must be
>>>> careful to always behave with dignity and be the adults in the room
>>>> so to
>> speak.
>>> Curious what you all think.
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