I highly doubt at this point that Illinois is even willing to consider
switching to a separate commission for the blind. Someone told me several
years back that we actually had a separate commission for the blind but that
it was demolished or something like that. My roommate has a degree in human
services and is legally blind. If he didn't have all these other issues, I
think he'd make a great VR counselor. I might make a good one too, except
that I don't have as much schooling behind me. One of the field supervisors,
who used to be my counselor, worked in a psych ward prior to coming to work
for the Bureau of Blind Services. I suppose from a psychiatric counseling
standpoint she is pretty good at what she does, but she is way too arrogant.
My last VR counselor worked in a state mental institution and also has a
wealth of knowledge about psychiatric counseling, but he is not nearly as
----- Original Message ----- From: "Alan Mattison" <mattison@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, 05 February, 2006 6:57 AM
Subject: [bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes
In New Mexico, we have a commission For The Blind, which might as well be named Of The Blind instead. Most of the c ommission, and all of the top administrators are blind. Much care is taken to keep even the difference between totally and partially blind out of the general conversations, though I believe that most of the higher-ups are totals. I am so glad we worked to get a Commission For The blind as a separate agency from the general Voc Rehab programs. It makes dealing with them a little better than the ordinary situation. Of course, there are always the friendships among the staff which shelter some bad eggs, but you get that in any agency.
Bruce Alan Mattison mailto: mattison@xxxxxxxxxxxx
-----Original Message----- From: blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Maria Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2006 10:59 PM To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: [bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes
I dare say that your statement about blind managers is probably true for the most part, but I have to tell you that in New York there are several blind and partially blind workers from counselors on up.
Let me tell you that even if you work within a VR agency for the blind you would find that that is the general attitude of the majority of the sighted employees toward the blind employees, and you generally will find that those sighted managers make sure that no blind person gets into a management position where they might do something to attempt to change those attitudes too.
Slithy, you bring up so many good points. thank you for talking about the hearing aids you have used. It's a real incite to try to figure out how one would deal with conversation, for example, in a world of microphones which, even at their best, find it hard to tell paper rattling from the sound of someone's voice. I suspect that much of what you and others have to do is to learn to concentrate on discriminating between those sounds even when they are not really presented to you correctly in the first place.
On another point, I believe one reason why people who are blind are pitied and thought of as perhaps less able than people with other disabilities is that sight is the sense which people who see use the most. Some psychologists say as much as 80% of people's perception is visual. OK, so maybe it's only 70 or 60 or even 50%, but the point is that without it, especially if one looses one's sight later in life, one is suddenly without at least half of one's perception. I had it the easy way. I have been blind from birth. Although it's no picnic, I did not have something I lost. Thus, I never had to miss what I lost, and my world was never one which needed me to come up with ways of some how compensating for a sense I knew. Compensate, yes. I have to come up with ways of dealing with what I am told people who see have, but having never had it, it is more like a scientific experiment for me than it is a readjustment to something I will always wish I had. I have gained immeasurably from being blind. Had I been sighted, I would still be back in Possum Holler Virginia, yes, you read it correctly, and I would probably be doing what everyone else does there. They work in the paper mill. Of course, it could have been worse. A wee bit further west and it would be the cold mines. But, because I was unable to attend public school, I went to a school for the blind. It was not the best school in the world academically, but I had teachers who taught me so very much more than what I could have ever learned in books. They are the reason why I am the only person in my entire extended family who ever went to college, much less graduate school.
But, to many who see, I am just another person who can't see. I think you're right though in that even though I am blind, I have the ability to speak. There are indeed people who believe that people who are hard of hearing are dumb simply because they cannot speak everyone's else's language. But isn't that where so much of hatred and political unrest and discrimination come from anyway? Many people seem to think that everyone should speak like they do, think like they do, and act like they do.
One of the things we were charged with at Trace where I used to work, is to develop technology that was cross disability accessible. Can you imagine how hard it was and still is to get agreement on how something should be designed when different disability groups have their own very strongly held ideas and their own fears that if they bend just a little in order to allow the product to fit the needs of other disability groups, the product won't work as well for them? Where does it stop?
Oh well, I'm just mumbling along here on a stream of consciousness. There are so many things a person could say, and still there will be people who never will accept people who are disabled as being human. Of course, there are some wonderful exceptions to this way of thinking, and I am happy to know many of them. And as for your message below, thanks for making me think. I like people who do that.
-----Original Message----- From: blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Slythy_Tove Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2006 8:20 PM To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: [bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes
Nothing can replace normal hearing. At least not now. Maybe in a hundred years, providing technology continues to advance, but not now. The first time I wore an aid it was like listening to someone holler down a rainbarrel and it fit so badly I had a sore on my ear. Now it is a godsend to me and I have a new hypoallergenic ear mold that doesn't give me ear infections. Still, I don't know what it is like to hear like normal folks because I can't remember a time when I could hear with both functional ears, although before 18 months of age that was the case. My mother did not confirm my hearing impairment until I was about three - they could not decide if I was deliberately disobedient or a space cadet until she played the "whispering game" with me and I kept asking her to whisper in my other ear.
A good hearing aid specialist (not a discount store) will have an audiologist with a master's or doctorate in the field who will realistically describe what you can and can't get back. It is easier for those who lose hearing as adults because at least their brains understand what sound is and can accomodate more of it, unlike folks like me who never really knew. In my case I am also losing the ability to discriminate fricatives (sh, th, etc.) but I seem to be rebounding a bit with the new aid, so that's great.
Hearing aids augment everything. The rattle of a newspaper - boy, was I suprised how much noise they made - and human voices. The good ones - the highly expensive computer adjusted aids - have the best filtering on them but can cost several thousand dollars and ear and can do a lot to home in on the sound spectrum of the human voice. Since I only have one functional ear I get by with a lower cost but I have no stereo hearing and the bi-cross aids are not available in the very high end digital aids. I have had bi-cross aids before and it was wierd to look to my left to respond to a sound when I have never done that before - but the wire running through my hair got old and then they got lost.
As to why the government favors the blind with jobs, I suspect the blind have long been considered so incompetent that the government has to give them jobs and they need tax exemptions. That's an awful thing to say, but it is likely the truth. I don't know why the loss of sight is considered so much worse than the loss of hearing. Maybe because way back when the deaf guy could outrun the saber toothed llion but the blind guy could not. Who knows? I do know, however, that being deaf (total) is like being dumped on Mars without knowing how to speak Martian and there is not necessarily a rosetta stone to find out. Still, people have managed to cobble out trade languages from signs for time out of mind, so deaf are probably considered better able to cope than blind.
The deaf were more likely to be considered retarded or mentally ill and were more likely to be locked up in insane houses because they can't talk and they can't communicate with hearing people unless some parent or some enlightened person along the way has figured out that they are deaf. I used to date a man who was considered retarded until age 7 - when they found out he was completely deaf. The blind were not treated well either, but at least they could communicate in the same language as those around them - unless they had the misfortune to be deaf as well - a double whammy. I still hear people refer to deaf persons who use sign as "dummies" as if they are mentally retarded.
Unfortunately, both deaf and blind are sometimes impaired in communication skills because the deaf have sign language which is not the same as English and the blind have braille, which in its higher forms, is also not the same as English. Many of the deaf and blind don't use the same gramm ar and spelling as the rest of the country and are therefore considered uneducated. It is not true, it is just the perception, just as the uneducated foreigner is a myth. Were the sighted to have to deal with braille they'd be illiterate. I'm probably one of the few sighted people who ever learned braille because I had a blind friend I wrote to. And he was so kind he never told me I punched the braille in backwards. (wince) I never found out until Dan learned braille.
I don't know why the nation does not give the deaf or quads or paras or retarded folk the same sort of treatment, but it does not. I don't see it happening any time soon, so I am not really going to sweat it more than I have to because I've had to struggle with this all my life and I'm sorta used to it - although somewhat irate from time to time.
On the other hand, I think the deaf get better accomodation regarding closed captioning whereas the blin d get the shaft on descriptive video.
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