> ----- 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!