[tabi] Is Training the Answer?

  • From: "Sila Miller" <Silamiller@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 12 Oct 2014 21:20:00 -0400

> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Marion Gwizdala via Nfbf-l" <nfbf-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Saturday, October 11, 2014 11:58 AM
> Subject: [Nfbf-l] Is Training the Answer?
> Dear all,
>                There have been some comments that the answer to the issue
> of discrimination because of the use of a guide dog is more training. Though
> I agree that training should be an essential element, such training should
> be done before law enforcement and security have direct citizen contact, not
> as the resolution of discrimination! When such discrimination occurs,
> though, disciplinary action must include a binding agreement that includes
> additional training and specific injunctions.
>                I want to remind you that this discrimination was not,
> contrary to the minimizations of the Secretary of State's office, the result
> of the actions of one security officer. It was not even the result of the
> actions of two or three security officers. It was perpetrated by six
> officers, one of whom admitted he was the supervisor who had ordered the
> actions of the others. When I spoke with Darren Fancher who told me he
> oversees the security contractors for the Florida Department of management
> Services DMS), he first said he was unaware of the incident; then he said he
> might have heard something about it; and then he advised me he had ordered a
> full investigation! All I can say is that he did a lot of work in the three
> minutes he was on the telephone with me!
>                During our demonstration on Friday, at least five members of
> the general public stopped to ask about the purpose of our demonstration.
> When we told them of the discrimination levied by the security officers they
> were astonished that such discrimination is still occurring. Now, if members
> of the general public are aware of the laws that provide our rights of
> access, how can we excuse the actions of those who have a greater
> responsibility to the public on matters of law? Some of you may not be aware
> that the state of Florida passed the first legislation concerning the right
> of access for a blind person to public places with a guide dog in 1949, 65
> years ago! The Americans with disabilities Act has been in effect since
> 1990, 24 years! The laws of the state of Florida are in every library and
> MyFlorida.com and implementing regulations of the ADA are published in the
> Federal Register and are readily available on the Department of Justice
> website, as well as on the NAGDU website and a number of other sites. Oh,
> and did I mention there's now an app for that?
> During the period of July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014, the NAGDU Information and
> advocacy Hotline receive 1,063 calls from individuals seeking information
> about the rights and responsibilities of service dog users or seeking
> assistance because of discrimination. While on my way to Tallahassee, I took
> a call to the hotline from an individual in Kissimmee who is being told he
> cannot ride in a taxicab with his dog. This list has seen news reports about
> hotels, restaurants, hospitals, convenience stores, doctor's offices, and
> theaters denying access to service dog users. When are we going to say we
> will no longer tolerate discrimination? When are we going to demand that law
> enforcement and security officers licensed by the state receive effective
> training so that, when we do call them for assistance because of
> discrimination we are not dismissed with the same old excuse that this is a
> civil matter when we know it is criminal? When are we going to call the
> State's Attorneys to task for sweeping the law under the rug and sending the
> message that they are not interested in securing our civil rights by failing
> to prosecute offenders? When will we demand that the state of Florida
> demonstrate the right way to handle discrimination is to take swift,
> decisive, and effective measures to punish those who violate the law and our
> civil rights? Well, the national Federation of the Blind and the National
> Association of guide dog Users made that decision some time ago! Now, it is
> up to the grassroots members - you and me - to see it to the end! The
> National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the
> characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the
> expectations of blind people because low expectations are the barriers that
> stand between us and our dreams.

>                This issue is not about one person being harassed because of
> her guide dog! It is about the state of Florida dismissing us until we asked
> the media to tell the story of state-sponsored discrimination against us! If
> we had not pressed the issue, it would have been ignored! Every citizen of
> the state and of the nation should be concerned about this because this sort
> of discrimination erodes the very fabric of freedom on which our society is
> built. Until everyone who reads this message gets out from behind their
> computers and stands on the barriers with us, we will continue to face
> discrimination and low expectations. We are a powerful organization only
> when we stand together against injustice. I encourage you to join me as we
> work together to remove the barriers that stand between blind people and our
> dreams!
> Fraternally yours,
> Marion Gwizdala, President

> National Association of Guide Dog Users Inc.
> National Federation of the Blind
> High expectations create unlimited potential for the blind!

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