Blind Leader


Blind Leader

     The day was beautiful, the kingdom prospered, and the ruler's castle shone in the sun. In the courtyard, the prince was being led by his father, the King. The young man was talking, "It feels good to be back on my feet, but we both know I will not get my vision back. It's gone, Father. I believe I have now accepted it. Tell me. Might I still be king, Father?"

e-mail responses to

**1. “It would be a great accomplishment for us as blind people to have a blind person be president of the United States, but I think we are a long way from that one. However, I wouldn't just want any blind person in the
Office; I would want someone who actually represented the majority of my views on all issues. Since blindness is just a characteristic, it would
not be in our best interest if we refused to consider the issues that
the blind person stood for and judged him on that basis.

I believe that we need more blind people as high-ranking officials in the Federal government. Right now, I don't feel there are enough of us there to really make a difference.”

Leslie Fairall (USA)

**2. “The only response to this is (yes).”

Fran (USA)

**3. “I see that nothing says that we can not be anything that we want to
be. It makes no difference is that regardless if you are blind or not If
you want to be president and meet to qualifications you can be. So I have
found out that blindness is what a person makes of it and how they want
to deal with life and if they want to be king or President this is up to
them. I have many blind friends and they want to move forward in life and are to the point as to where they are out helping other people to move forward in there lives.
I have found that if a person has a disability it does not say that
they are different because they have to do things a little different they are still people first and the disability second and I think that is what
we over look most of the time when dealing with blindness or any other disability.”

Willie Burton (Arkansas USA)

**4. “ Oh, ho, Robert, now you've touched on a nerve. If
you go by the myth, the answer is no, because the people's leader must
be unblemished, unsullied, pure of mind and heart and body.

It seems that other folks have taken this view to heart, namely the
majority of sighted people in this world. Robert, ask how many blind
people who have college degrees are working below their potential?
How many blind people have administrative positions in business? How
many blind administrators are working for programs of and for the
blind instead of in the private or governmental sector in jobs that
have nothing at all to do with blindness or disability? Yea, ask how
many agencies for the blind have no trouble placing secretaries,
factory workers, and so on. But then, ask them if they've placed any
executives lately? How many blind people are school principals or
superintendents? Sure there is a small number of blind teachers, but
there aren't many, are there? Oooo, yeh, ask how many heads of
agencies for the blind are blind? How many blind politicians are
there? How many blind judges are there? You may say there are some,
maybe ten. And there are lawyers who are blind, but how hard did they
have to work to get to where they are?

Yeh, can the blind be leaders? Yes, they *can* but they *****MAY
NOT*****, not in this society of backward, staid, conservative,
closed-minded, inconsiderate, ignorant, boobies!

And that doesn't even touch the way we raise our children who are
blind to believe that if they want to get anywhere, they have to bust
their butts and practically kill themselves in order to be better than
anyone else. that old saw about "You've got to be better than anyone
else, blah, blah, blah..." But if that's the case and I do get to be
"better than anyone else", then shouldn't I be a leader? Should I,
after working my butt off, get a reward commensurate with all the work
I've put in? Shouldn't I become a leader? The moralist and the
fair-minded individual would say, "Yes." But that ain't how it is, is
it, folks?”

Ann K. Parsons (Rochester, New York USA

**5. “Maybe I'm missing the point here, but why shouldn't the prince be king? I
mean, doesn't a king have advisors and people like that around him anyway!
And so does the President! So I don't think that a loss of vision would
detract from a person's ability to lead.?
Just a thought.”

Ginny Quick (USA)

**6. “Yes, my son," answered the King resting his hand on the lads shoulder, "You will be King when the time comes."
"But Father, how will I be able to rule without sight?"
"It is your inner eye that will count. Your attention to detail, your compassion and courage. I know that you will be able to handle the tasks when presented,
just as you have after the accident left you blind." The King felt a sense of pride in his only child. He knew that the challenge would bring out all
of the strengths that lay hidden in the deep waters of his character.
"Father will I be able to ride again?" he asked quietly.
"Do you wish to feel your steed galloping along the river's edge?" His Father spoke slowly and deliberately.
"Yes, more than anything!" He replied.
"Then I am sure it will happen, as I am sure you will make it happen."
Together they walked for a long while, as the future King felt the sun on his back and a warmth from within from the faith his Father had in his abilities.
He knew that whatever happened, it would be right.”

Suzanne Lange (California USA)

**7. “I'm sad to say that I don't think a blind person would be elected as a
leader. In fact, at this time, I don't think any person with an obvious
disability would be elected. People still have many misconceptions about
persons with disabilities.

Not too infrequently I've met people who are amazed that I have a job, can
take care of my daughter, participate in a wide variety of activities and
can independently cook, clean and do other household chores.”

Janet Ingber (Queens, New York USA)

**8. “This is a great thought for some of what I am working on changing. During my final semester of my masters program, I did a research study examining physical
disabilities and agency administrators. I combed through the state of Michigan and found vary few physically disabled people in a place of leadership
in s social service agency. What was even worse, was that many of the agencies I approached first were directly serving those with disabilities. I am
not saying that a person should be hired because of color or disability, unfortunately, I am finding that disabled people are vary under represented.
If we were from a racial minority, which some with disabilities are, we would probably be holding a protest or taking some other action. I firmly believe
that we could learn from those who have made changes before us. A person with a visual problem or wheelchair user should be considered leadership material
if they have the qualities that make a good leader. In Michigan, with the Calvinist influence, it will probably be a long time in coming.”

Marcia Beare (Martin, Michigan USA

**9. “Although the United States is supposed to be the most progressive country in the world, I believe that a blind person would still have very little chance
of becoming President.
We all know that blind people are capable; and, even though most of us don't have any idea how much is involved in being the Chief Executive of the country,
I'm sure that the job could be accomplished successfully by a qualified blind person seeking the office.
But the question was more about whether it could happen rather than if it could be done. As I started to say in the beginning, even though this is a very
progressive country; I still do not believe that it's likely that a blind person would be elected President. We have come a long way in achieving equality,
but it's still a constant struggle. More people than not have questions, (both spoken and unspoken) about how we do simple, everyday tasks such as dress
ourselves. In most cases, we still have to convince a prospective employer that we're able to do the job. Since much of our education has to be done
on a one to one basis, I think that it's very unlikely that a blind person campaigning for office could successfully convince enough people to gain the
majority vote.
The story discussed a blind prince wondering if he would still be king. In a situation such as this,
the blind prince would be given the opportunity by his father and could prove his capabilities as a ruler. However, in the United States, the people have
the right to choose, and I don't believe the majority is ready to accept us, unconditionally, yet.”

Cindy Handel (Willow Street, PA

**10. “In the U.S. I do not see why a person with blindness could not be President.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was president with polio. Former Senator Bob Dole has
no use of one arm.

I am also reminded of an article I read in college about a Viking King with

Especially in present day U.S. the president has so many aids and assistants
as well as all the technology, and having materials available in Braille; of
course someone with blindness could run for office.”

Geoffry Ketteling (Victoria, Texas USA)

**11. “Not sure if this is still so, but… I read that in India, there was a time that blindness was an automatic out of the ruler’s chair. And that it was a not too uncommon practice of a younger brother to have his older sibling attacked and blinded in order for the younger one to be the ruler. Sneaky, though sounds very Human.”

Chuck Armstrong (USA)

FROM ME: “Can anyone tell us if this was or is true?

**12. “I don't know about our culture. It's not clear anymore what qualities make
a leader. Anyway, I think it's not the physical characteristics, but the
personality and quality that make a leader. in the U.S., though, I doubt a
blind person could be president today. The public doesn't seem ready. It
might surprise me, though. Look at the athletes turned in to political

Sarah Lanier

**13. “In many ways we have made awesome strides over the years--from begging on
the corner to broom weaving and basket-making to being educated and
having careers such as corporate lawyers, educators, mechanics,
professionals, and even dabbling fingers in local politics. We have
families and healthy normal lives. However, despite the great strides in
the past years, I'm sadly still not convinced that our society is ready to
accept a disabled (blind or otherwise) president of the United States.
Slowly the barrier is being broken down, and we must continue that fight,
even though it's frustrating and downright tiresome to always have to go
the extra mile to prove that you can do it; that you have the skills
needed to do this or that.”

Amy Rut (Lincoln, NE, USA)

**14. “I think more people need to be educated about us before some one can successfully become the president.”

Gail Kilbourn (blindfam)

**15. “Yes, he can be king. He can be a leader as he will be surrounded
by people he can help and who can help him. You need wisdom
and the ability to see and speak with your heart to be a leader.
David Blunkett, a member of Tony Blair's cabinet in charge of
education, is totally blind. He has been seen on CSpan with
his guide dog going into Parliament where he has been a
member a number of years. He has written a book available
on audio cassette called "On a Clear Day" detailing his blindness
and his experiences.”

Catherine Alfieri (7 Summer Tree
Pittsford, NY 14534

FROM ME: “Which countries around the world do or have had visually impaired leaders? And, are there other books on this?”

**15. “In short, I don't see the Prince ever becoming King in this
culture. Marginalization of blind working aged people is so extensive as to put the employment demographics where they are today. No support from Federal courts is forthcoming either.”

Jude ()Lexington Park, Maryland USA

**16. “I don't see why not, if he/she has natural leadership abilities. Just on a
local level: When I met David, he was the President of the Young Adult Group
where we met. Since then he's been President of the local chapter and the
State Affiliate of NFB, Chairman of the SRC to the Commission for the Blind,
President of Bel Canto, a singing group, and President of Freeport Chorale, a
group that used to put on plays but has now evolved to giving concerts as
we've all gotten older. (Well, they have, anyway. We don't approve of that,
so have elected not to age.) He's held leadership positions in the National
Association of Social Workers, and coordinates a group to assist caregivers
for those with ALS. If he'd gotten active in politics, it's within the realm
of reason that he could have become a member of congress or even a senator.
He's not interested in being President, but that's personal, because the job
is so thankless and destructive of integrity and family life. We've had one
president in a wheelchair, why not one who can't see? Lots of people would
vote against him on the basis of blindness, but lots would vote for him on
the basis of ability.
The chief problem as I see it would be convincing the political parties to
support such a candidate, not the support of the people, which would be
easier to get.”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

FROM ME: “Who out there knows some one in their countries political party or parties who could respond to this PROVOKER?”

**17. “As a reader, I personally feel that anybody who is capable of filling the
position of "ruler" should be allowed to, no matter if they are blind or
A blind person may need certain accommodations relative to the job
required in order to do his/her role successfully, (and they may have
more pressure), but then so what? Isn't it the same for a blind/VI
student? Don't they need certain accommodations made for the taking of
tests, etc., as well?

So, I say, send out for the needed accommodations and let the ruling

"Judge not, lest you be judged". Matt.7:1”

Julie D. (USA)

**18. “Hi Robert and all, well, I don't know what exactly to think of this story.
I think a blind person might be a leader someday, but then again It depends
on where you are in the world. if you're talking about some European or
Asian nations, for instance, I don't know, but if you're thinking of a more
developed country such as the united States, maybe. But politics isn't
exactly my cup of tea, so to speak, so I'll stop here.
Stacy Wisconsin USA.

FROM ME: “She questions if this could be a possibility in a country less developed than the USA. What do you all think about this? What may be even a more interesting question is, what is it about the ‘developmental level’ of a country that allows or dis-allows the blind to reach higher levels of accomplishments?”

**19. “I think that the King can still be a good leader even though he is visually impaired.”

Beth Katz (California USA)

**20. “Zisca was a warier in ancient times in the Europe. He led his troops to
battle many times. He lost an eye in one battle but went on to lead his
troops winning battle after battle. He lost the other eye in another
battle. His success was so outstanding that his people wanted him to rule
them in spite of his blindness.

There was also a blind stage coach driver in England who was responsible
for much of the road construction in his area.

Source is the NFB Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of the Blind
and Visually Impaired.”

JODY IANUZZI (Keene, New Hampshire USA)

FROM ME: “The army leader who was blinded served in Bohemia. He also refused the position of king, wanting his country to be a republic.”

**21. “In this choice you have selected this time Robert. It is easy to answer, at
least for myself, the question: "Might I still be king, Father?"

I would tell my son's, "You can be anything you want to be. If you have the
heart and desire to be!"

You all have learned from all my input over a period of time who I am and
where I've been. More to the point to where I am now in this point in my

With a heart and a desire to be the best I can be for myself, for my
community and my fellow man/woman/children, and my family. I have reach my
goals with positive feed back from family and friends in each step of the
way. In setting an example for my son's. I go forth to do the best I can
do. Each step of the way different steps have come along. If, I feel that
I can achieve the job that is offered. Then I'll give it a try and put my
best foot forward to do the job. As I'm showing my son's and other blind
persons that it is possible to do the same or more!

As in being President of a local Lions Club. I say this as two weeks ago I
received a phone call from the Maine State capital of the Maine State
Legislative Body and the Senatorial Body. Three members of the Legislative
persons of the Republican and one of the Senatorial Republican bodies in a
phone conference to myself. In this discussion noted they had done a check
up and back ground check for a qualified person to run on the Republican
ticket for Legislative person in my district. My name was pick out of a
group of three they were looking at. Of course the phone drop out of my
hands. Once I picked up the phone again. The group ask me, "Mr. Stone are
you ok?" To which I noted it was a shock that my name came up for such an
honor. In the discussion of the job, pay and the duties. I ask if it was
the fact that I was blind and if this was a joke. To which they informed
myself it was not a joke and they were very serious. That they look at all
that I had done over the past several years in improving my life,
involvement in the community and work. Along with hearing about myself
going out an speaking on blindness and it's adjustments.

I told them, after talking with them for an hour on the phone, I would have
to think about the offer. As it was a shock to myself and seriously look at
the issues. Their final comment was , "Gene, in running for this office you
would look at some battle with the Democratic Party. Yet we feel strongly
you can win, if you choose to run. We look forward to having you on the

Needless to say I called Mom and brother Lee to talk this over with. Then
approach my new Boss to get her feelings on the matter.

What an honor to have been chosen. Yet, I had to make a tuff decision with
my responsibilities to my new job. As there was a lot of money spent on
training myself in the fast market of stocks, Marketing and retirement
plans. Along with office training. Then look at my responsibilities for
the Lions and family most importantly. To which came the conclusion that I
needed to stay where I am and continue giving my best at my new job, even
though being there now almost a year, for the amount of time and money put
into the training. So, I called the Gentlemen back to inform them that I
was very pleased an honored to be pick for this opportunity to serve the
people in my district and the State of Maine. Yet, I have more of a
responsibility to my family and my work. Along with finishing up as
President of my Lions Club. They were very understanding an noted they were
not surprised because of what they had heard. That being devoted to what I
believe in. I also told them any time they would like some help or to speak
on an issue in my area. That I would be very proud to return the favor to

Now, this may not seem like much to most. Yet I say it is a big deal. As
if one can be offered a chance to be a legislator in your state. Just
imagine what you can do once in office. If all is done in a positive way,
one can work his/her way up the ladder and become, as this young man says,
"Might I still be king, Father?", one can become Senator in your state or
even in Washington, DC.

It just depends on where your heart is, what you really want out of life and
that Positive Flow; to go where ever you want to go and accomplish in life.”

Gene Stone (Portland, ME USA

**22. “As the proverb says: "You can be anything you set your mind to." (not exact, but
the message is clear.) To strive for The Big Office might seem unrealistic, but
what better way to show the full potential of the ADA. If a blind/vision
impaired individual was denied the Presidential Office, wouldn't it be the
ultimate insult to the ADA? Granted, I am not aware of all of the duties of the
president, but, heck with all the aids that the President has, readers would be
plentiful, technology would be readily available to accommodate the challenges
the blind/vision impaired president might face. There is no stipulation in our
laws that says the president must be fully sighted. After all, we had a
president who was in a wheelchair -- that image was just not promoted due to the
mentality of that time period.

So, practically speaking, I don't see it as out of the realm of possibility. The
individual who becomes president will already have proven him/herself in a
multitude of circles so the presidency shouldn't be that difficult. I think the
harder task will be moving up into a position that will put the blind/vision
impaired person in line for the presidency.

Shelley Proulx (Brighton, MA

FROM ME:” Are there any laws in any country restricting a person with vision loss from holding a high office? If so, how do they read and what is going on there?”

**24. “I remember my mother telling me once when I was a kid that I could be
anything I wanted, except maybe a brain surgeon. So, I believe that
if a blind or visually impaired person puts his or her mind to it, he
or she could be President of the United States. It may be more
challenging than it would be for a sighted person and blind and
visually impaired persons running for office would really have to
sell themselves a lot more than sighted people would. But I think it
could be done.

In fact, this morning, I caught part of a report on National Public
Radio about Indonesia's president, who is not only visually impaired
but also has difficulty getting around. Despite these disabilities,
this gentleman is able to successfully run this country. So, I see
no reason why a blind or visually impaired person could not be a
country's leader.”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, U.S.A.

FROM ME: “Who is this leader? What is his story? Who else is out there?”

**25. “Well Robert, as usual, you've come up with a very interesting thought PROVOKER. Upon reflection, however, I really don't think there's an issue here.
I see no reason why a blind person--a qualified blind person--couldn't hold a position of leadership. I'm not an historian, but I believe that at some
time in the Middle Ages, Bohemia had a blind king.”

Colleen Chandler (North Platte, NE, USA.

FROM ME: “Zisca was the gentleman in question and was asked to be King but turned it down, wanting his countrymen to create a republic. Though I do recall there being a blind King, one that rode into battle and was killed. Who was that?”

**26. “I'm sure that the response of the king was: "No my son, you would never
manage to govern this kingdom being blind".
The son might respond with: "Oh, Dad, but I would also have counselors,
like you do and after all there is nothing wrong with my brain!" And so the
reasoning would go on and on and on!!!!”

Janie Fourie (Pretoria, sunny South Africa

**27. “In a word: I don't think there's a chance in a million that a blind
person--especially not a totally blind person--could ever become President.
The politicians would have a heyday, pointing out that the person couldn't
do this or that, at least according to their own uneducated points of view.”

Carol Ashland (In Eugene, OR, USA

**28. “Right now, I suspect that it is easier to become a blind king (or queen)
in an hereditary monarchy than it is to become a blind president or prime
minister. (This may be especially true if the blind would-be-leader once
had sight, but of course I can't be sure of that.) I think there's still
this notion that royalty has some divine or quasi-divine entitlement to
its place in some monarchies, so the people may resign themselves to a
blind leader as the product of divine will. Maybe "resign" is the wrong
word: maybe they'd even propagate mythical notions about how the leader's
blindness signals special gifts that will more than compensate for the
loss of the mere physical tool.

I'm optimistic that this will change, that the day will come when a blind
president or prime minister will be accepted as a matter of course if the
people like what he or she has to offer. The big question for me is WHEN?

I note that Indonesia now has a prime minister who is blind or nearly so,
and I believe England's current cabinet includes a blind person. And of
course, we know that blind people have been elected to office in this
country, though rarely if ever to a very high-level office. I note that,
though their battles for equality in this country have raged far longer
than that of the blind, this country has yet to elect, or even to elect a
black or female president--or even have one as the nominee of one of its
two largest parties. (Other nations have done better on this, though a
couple of them may in general do less well in promoting women’s equality.)”

Al Sten-Clanton ()Boston, Massachusetts

**29. “I believe that whether or not this blind person becomes a leader will
depend on his tenacity, his determination and his courage. Call me the
incurable optimist, but I still believe that we can be anything we want if
we work at it long enough. While we still have a lot of ground to cover, we
are making progress. And if the man's father can be properly educated, his
chances are even better. I was taught to believe that I could do whatever I
chose if I got a good education, worked hard, stood up for myself and didn't
give up. While it hasn't always been easy, I still have that belief system.”

Joyce Porter (Texas USA)

FROM ME: “I can be what ever I set my sights on and work for.’ Think back and look ahead, how many times have we seen this attitude. A good beginning. What else has to be in place for the goal to be achieved? Might it also mean working on attitudes outside oneself?”

**30. “WOW! A very interesting PROVOKER this time. Looking at the United States
and it typical reactions and such I would have to say no, I don't believe
that anytime in the near future there will be a blind person elected to a
position of leadership. I mean, really, think about it. There has never
been a female leader elected and women make up let's say half the nations
total population. If people won't even take into account a group that
encompasses half the nations population they are certainly not going to
consider a smaller group of equally qualified citizens. It is sad but true.
I do not believe there will be a blind person in leadership within my
lifetime and I'm still young.”

Wendy McCurley (Fort Worth, TX

**31. “This is an interesting PROVOKER. I believe that there are two parts to this
question of whether a blind person could be a leader. First of all, would a
blind person be capable of being a leader. Second, would those who are
supposed to follow accept a blind leader.

Let me address the first part by saying that if a person has the drive and
tenacity to become a leader in the first place, then blindness would just be
part of the day-to-day affairs that this person would deal with. He or she
would probably be very well-adjusted to being blind, and could handle the
responsibilities of leadership, despite being blind.

To answer the second question, I suppose it would depend on the leadership
role the blind person was going to assume. For example, I believe that a
blind person has a much better chance of being a leader within the local
community than he or she would have if he or she were to be president of the
United States.

I say this because being a leader in one's own community would mean that
many in the community know and respect the person. This is much easier to
do at the local level. A leader can really make a personal connection to
his or her constituents and make a difference in their lives.

As for being President, I don't think it would ever happen. Two examples
come to mind. First, FDR was President during the era of radio. If he had
given his fireside chats from his wheelchair on TV, there is no way that he
would have been accepted as an authority figure. This sounds awful, but a
president is someone far away from the common man, so it would be difficult
for someone to overcome the prejudices of the whole nation, since
one-to-one contact could not be used as a way to overcome preconceived

Another example of this is Bill Bradley, who, for those of you who have been
living under a rock, is running against Al Gore for the Democratic
Presidential nomination. When Bradley had a slight irregularity in his
heartbeat, his popularity began to drop. People didn't like the idea of a
fairly young candidate with an imperfect heart. Since I don't know
Bradley's actual condition, I can't speculate as to whether this concern is
valid or not, but John Q. Public wants a leader to be strong and fearless,
without health issues.

I believe that a blind person would never be elected President simply
because of the preconceptions people have about blindness. Many people are
amazed that we can cross the street without assistance or fix ourselves a
cup of coffee, so leading the free world is definitely out.

I hope that someday, these notions will go by the wayside, but until then,
we should all try to become community leaders and make people realize that
we are strong, competent individuals.”

David Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia USA)

**31. "This land is ours son, to make of it what we can. Perhaps it is better
that you do not see the situations as they occur before you. However given
the wide horizon and the skills you have already acquired as a student in
knowledge you surely can be King." with that said I do believe we as
individuals can be strong blind or not. We can allow ourselves to be swept
up in the mayhem of negative thinking or " reach out and touch someone."
There in this great world mean and women who are Kings and queens , all
part of society , just somehow unrecognized . So if it is a Kingdom or a
home I will be King as a blind person and so will those who follow me in a
positive way. there are blind leaders and always will be someplace,
unfortunately it is not front page news.”

Lee A. Stone (Hudson, New York U.S.A.

**32. “I think the possibility is real. I know that the general public is pretty
ignorant on blindness, but I think they are trainable. Especially in our
electing leading officials. during the campaign, we would have to spend a
bit of time educating the public on what we can do, rather than what they
think we cannot do.

I ran for city council in our city, which is a small city of a population of
around 32000. It was a three seat election. there were five people
running. It was my first time running for an elected position. I came in
4th. So, I didn't win the seat, but I didn't come in last.”

Tom Rash (Yucaipa, California USA)

**33. “In theory a blind or sight impaired person should be able to be a leader in any aspect of life. In theory, it's the attributes of an individual that matter.

Amongst blind and sight impaired people there are many with superb qualifications and abilities that equip us for leadership. Yet, very few of us achieve
leadership status outside our immediate families, local communities or in the world of people with our disability.

Often we are even told by many that we can do and be anything we are capable of doing or being but try to take them at their world, and suddenly it all
changes. The limits are brought in, even to the extent of being told:
"don't you think that's too much for a blind person? or, " you can't do that because you need sight to do it."

The difficulty is still, after many years, yes, even generations of educative work, that people in general, and those in power still see the disability and
not the abilities.

What about the token leadership roles we are often given? The Chair person of a group, the lead role in a volunteer capacity in a local community organization
and so on. Is this really acknowledgement of our abilities, or is it an attempt to silence us by giving us a role. I'm not sure but we need to look
at motives while making the absolute best of any opportunity.

President, Prime Minister, Governor or other society leader, yes! Why not?

Remember that people in power need and prefer us to be dependent and a major part of our lack of opportunity to reach the highest levels is that for too
long we have been seen as "dependent" even in the face of various groups preaching how our independence is so necessary and important.

The difference is between the rhetoric and the reality, the perceived issues for dependence and independence and the fact that people in power need an discourage
our independence and maximum abilities for their own good.

The abilities are there, as much as in any other community or group, but the obstacles are still enormous.”

Ian Westerland (Australia)

**34. “I think that a blind person could some day become a leader. I mean we have
the same intelligence as the sighted in fact sometimes I think we have
more common sense than the sighted. I'm not naive, I know there is a lot
of stereotyping and intolerance of someone that isn't perfect" and that
would have to change. But I believe it could as more and more successful
blind people start to become known. Not just singers but now we hear of
blind journalist and they even make movies about blind people so maybe
that day is at lest sort of visible. I think it's a shame sighted people
can we couldn't do this job or that job. The surest way to get me to push
to do a thing it's tell me I can't do it. I think we all need to go out
there with that idea. Sad to say but bettering ourselves and getting into
positions of leadership means doing a lot of proving of ourselves to
sighted people.”

Sue Ellen Melo (Albuquerque, New Mexico USA)

**35. “I think in the last election for prime minister in Thailand the winner was
blind, but the press reported it as the selection of compromise, the only person
who did not offend the other parties and rivals too much.”

John Frank (aernet)

FROM ME: “Does someone know for sure about the gentleman in Thailand? I will report those items that one or more people ‘think” is true; because even a false thought can be the basis for action; though I prefer to act upon truth.”

**36. “An interesting thought PROVOKER!
"look in to your culture" well now, I think that has a variety of, extended family, community, blindness community, and
I do feel, as a blind person, I can be a leader in my family and extended
family. I am treated equally with any other family members. as for my
community? well, I hesitate. I choose to associate with individuals that
treat me fairly and equally, but I will not kid myself to say all in my
community think I’m capable, and independent. I am treated unequally by
some. so, knowing me, and education is key. some folks would never be
comfortable or understand the blindness issue. some folks are naturally
comfortable and do understand the issues.
as for our own blindness communities, we have many great leaders. this is
good, and proves that blindness is not a prohibitory for leadership. the
individuals own personality determines his leadership qualifications.
as for being a leader such as a president? what are the chances of that? a
very good could happen, but probably NOT_ in my lifetime.
also, I belong to 2 service groups. I am in a leadership role in both. one
more than the other. they would let me pursue further advancement toward
top leadership if I wanted it. I do not. this is encouraging to me.
thanks for this PRVOKER. it is making me think a bit about this question.”

merrilee hill-kennedy (big rapids Michigan USA

**37. “Here in Michigan, at this time, the director of the commission for the
blind is blind. Robert Mahoney served in our state legislature. He wrote
a book called Living out of Sight which has been recorded by NLS.

I agree that the number of blind persons in leadership is not real high,
the number of persons may not be so high compared to the number of persons
in that group. In order to achieve any goal, one must be focused and work
harder than others who have no goals. Just think of the amount of practice
goes into one being an Olympic athlete.

We are not where we want to be, but we are much farther along the road than
we were. I believe, we can make it happen.”

Mary Wurtzel (Michigan USA)

**38. “President waheed from Indonesia is certainly legally blind. He was
elected President last year and became his nations first democratically
elected leader following the overthrow of the dictator Suharto. Of course
he only beat a woman for the job so maybe discrimination against women is
even more entrenched than discrimination against the blind.
I also believe that al Gore's grandfather was a totally blind senator in
the USA

An interesting anecdote about the blind Education minister in Britain is
that when he came to give his first speech as minister one of his staff had
used the wrong settings on his Braille program and he discovered that he
had a speech in Swedish to read. Perhaps he would do better to have some
blind people on his staff!

I might just add that having spent a lot of time involved in politics in
my younger days , and now having reached my fiftieth year I am so cynical
about politics that I feel anyone, let alone blind people are wasting their
time trying to emulate or join those so and So.’s who rule all of us.

Instead of trying to become leaders we would all be better off trying to become better citizens.

Colin Watson(25 Knox Drive Barwon heads 3227 Australia

**39. “I recall the English Queen Victoria was nearly blind in her later years. I’d like to know more about that period of her reign.”

FROM ME: “Can any of our English members fill us in on Queen Victoria’s blindness; what did she do different in regard to support systems, etc.? And, how about this PROVOKER, could a prince who is blinded still become king? Could one of you pass this THOUGHT PROVOKER over to an information office with your royalty?”

**40. “I have heard so many people cite the example of
Franklin Delanore Roosevelt. Yes, he was in a
wheelchair, laid low by polio. It should also be
noted, however, that Roosevelt was enough of a
realist to know that he would never have been elected
had he been perceived as less than fully able-bodied.
So whenever he made public appearances, he did so in
a big comfy chair, his legs crossed in advance, and
he stayed that way throughout the appearance. He was
considered a bit eccentric, perhaps, but no one
thought him unable to walk. He actually went so far,
on several of his famous "train trips," as to appear
to be standing up in the last boxcar when, in fact,
he was heavily braced to hold him up. He kept up
this illusion throughout his terms in office, and it
was only after his death that his secret was

The sad reality is, the public is still ignorant
about blindness, and about other disabilities as well.
Not too long ago, we ate dinner out, and the waitress
first asked me, quite loudly: WOULD HE LIKE A
BRAILLE MENU? I answered softly: I don't know; why
don't you ask him. She looked at me doubtfully, then
determinedly turned to Bob and said, enunciating each
word carefully:
WOULD....YOU....LIKE....A....BRAILLE....MENU!!! Bob
replied, with a gleeful grin, "No, actually I'd like
a regular menu." Then we had to explain tunnel
vision. By the time we were through, I'm sure the
waitress thought Bob was faking it.

But on the other end of the spectrum is what I call
the Daredevil Phenomenon, after a cartoon character
of a blind lawyer who patrols the city at night as
Daredevil, who can feel the presence of an enemy by
the disruption of air currents, who can read printed
matter with his sensitive fingertips, who can "hear"
enemies approaching and fights back with a
quarter-staff, which never gets stuck, even in narrow
spaces. I believe this perception, the idea that the
blind person can do things even most sighted people
cannot do, has done greater harm to the cause of the
visually impaired than the perception of disability
has done.

So now: is the problem to be faced as visually
impaired people who need a little help to do some
things, or as super-blind daredevils who can do
anything and must repudiate the notion that there is
something they cannot do? The former might make a
good king; the latter, I don't think so.”

Carolyn Gold (Clearwater, Florida USA

**41. FROM ME: “ Here is a short cut and paste from an article sent to us from Chris Weaver.”

Profile: Abdurrahman Wahid

Abudarraham Wahid, elected Indonesia's fourth president, has taken office after months of prevarication over whether he would actually

The election of the influential Muslim cleric came as a shock to many after Megawati Sukarnoputri's PDI-P party had emerged as the winner of Indonesia's elections in June.

Abdurrahman Wahid, or Gus Dur as he is also known, is one of the most well known figures in Indonesia.

Educated in Indonesia, Egypt, Iraq and Canada, the frail 59-year-old has long had a reputation for religious tolerance and moderate politics.

Nearly blind, he has suffered two strokes in recent years and had to be helped to the ballot box in the national assembly….”

Chris Weaver Program Coordinator
(New Mexico State University

**42. “I am vary happy to read account 21. I wonder if many visually impaired take a passive approach to leadership positions. I kind of hoped that I would read
more plans of actively changing the public's vision of a "good" leader. I hope I don't come across as judgmental! I do not mean my comment that way
at all. I would just love to see "us" making changes in my life time.”

Marcia Beare (Martin, Michigan

**43. “Leadership requires a unique combination of qualities. Vision, (literal that is), however is not one of them. Insight, which consists of comprehensive vision---the ability to understand and discern matters and apply the solutions effectively, is the type of vision that is necessary to successfully lead peoples and nations.

Granted a sightless individual would face an immense challenge when holding a position of leadership, but doesn’t everyone who holds such a position. This blind individual must surround himself with capable advisers and have to ability to delegate work assignments to capable persons in his cabinet. But then again, is this not also true for sighted leaders?

Therefore, I foresee no problems with lack of vision being a hindrance to leadership. It is the lack of these other qualifications that would present a hindrance for anyone.”

Freda Trusty (USA)

FROM ME: “Keep your eye on the ball!” Or, pay attention to what is important; isn’t that what this lady is eluding to in pointing out which part of the over all definition of ‘vision’ is critical here?”

**44. “The assistant comptroller of the state of Florida is a man who is totally blind.

The director of the state agency responsible for workman’s compensation in Florida is also a man who is totally blind.”

Kathy Yale (AERnet)

FROM ME: “We need to be told of the many blind and visually impaired men and women who are employed and work every day in roles of leadership other than the highest government posts. Who else is out there?”

**45. “I couldn't resist responding to this particular Thought Provoker either. As
I see it (pardon the pun here), the king can respond in several different issues. More than likely, he would simply state that his son can't "cut the mustard" because he has lost his sight. In this case, the king
overlooks the fact that he’s his son and see the blindness only. I hope this shouldn't be the case because of someone's prejudices, and the
behavior that stems from the lack of education.

The only reason I bring this up is because I've been on that side of the fence. People have sold me short as they tend to overlook my abilities and see my disability only. Unfortunately, in this society a little prejudice
goes a long, long way. However, the positive side of this is that those people who are willing to be educated about blindness can see talents and opportunities and they are willing to give people like us the chance for education and learning experiences.”

Bonnie Ainsworth (Laramie, Wyoming USA

**46. “Well I have posted before and from then until now and after reading the other post. I find that a blind person can be anything that they put there mind to and if a person has the desire to become a leader then let them become a leader and we can set back and find that they will be more positive toward the blind and disable people and that the world will be a better place.

Just my thoughts and For a blind person to become President I think that would be super and if we stop and think maybe that is what the USA needs is a leader that can know the road ahead of time and yes it will draw a lot of harsh words but that is just what they are are harsh words and they can make a person strong or weak that is up to the person and not us to judge. Just my thoughts.”

Willie (Burton, Arkansas USA)

**47. “As far as the thought PROVOKER goes, I really believe anything you want to do badly enough, you'll find a way. From a very young age I wanted to get into radio (not like some other blind/VI persons like myself). Yes, there were many barriers, yes I had to prove my self time and time again, and yes, not everyone had a good attitude, including the VR people I worked with who were always trying to get me to look at other lines of work. I found was around all those obstacles, I convinced the VR people that a career in radio is truly what I wanted, and here I am today. Full-time, on-air, and a Public Service Director as well. I actually got my station into the finalist
category of the National Association of Broadcasters Crystal Award for Community Service Excellence, I'll find out if my station is one of the top 10 in the middle of April. I made the right career choice and I didn't let anyone tell me differently. It may have been frustrating at times, but it was worth it.”

Andy Stahmer (

**48. “I would have to say, that in growing up I was
always taught that I could do or be anything I wanted to be. But, in so
thinking, sometimes society as a whole does not look at it that way. There
are some big apprehensions not from me as a person but from society. "How
can he do such and such? How can he perform the required tasks for the job?
How can he navigate in the environment and do the job to the degree of the
rest of our employees without hindering the production, or the workflow
etc." (These are just hypothetical questions for an example. But you get the
gist.) I think if we continue to fight and to show that we as blind people
can do anything that not only we set our minds too, but that we can do
things just as the next person can regardless of sight, it would be great.
Things are better now along these lines than they used to be but we still
have a long way to go before society would accept this as a reality. It's a
sad truth but truth at the moment it is. Only we can help change it by
having a good outlook and good attitudes, and making people comfortable with
our blindness--breaking the ice joking around a little, treating it as a
characteristic instead of a hindrance. I know this was pretty lengthy but,
this is along the lines of what I have been watching, learning and picking
up on recently. I have had to find another job. The University ran out of
funding and ut my contract. You see in being out on the battle front as it
may be, in looking for jobs, how some people look at you and before they see
the person and the capabilities a person has, they see the defect, the
imperfection, or the flaw as they may think it. It is up to you to show them
that this flaw is not really a flaw at all, it's jut part of you. When
society can see this, yes the prince can be king, and anyone blind, visually
impaired, with an irregular heartbeat etc. can be president, vice president,

Timothy Emmons (Huntsville, Alabama USA)

FROM ME: “Go back and count the number of times we hear expectations and encouragement to, ‘you can be anything you set your mind to be.’ So true with all youngsters. And when speaking of a blind/visually impaired child, this speaks to yet another key truth, pre-condition, the parents and teachers must have that same mind-set; do they not.”

**49. “Of course my son, as you have the character, the compassion, the integrity,
the honesty, the responsibility and the wisdom, you may make a fine leader
of my kingdom one day. You shall require great discernment, which does not
come from the eye alone. You shall need much cleverness to solve the many
problems of the kingdom that arise each day. You shall be called upon to
devote the whole of your time and your energy, my son. Fear not of those
you have lost none with your eye-sight. You still have two ears and a
mouth. If you use them in proportion you will never fail. Finally, if your
heart is with your subjects, and you stand to be their servant, your example
will bless the kingdom as I bless you. Go forth and be yourself my son."

Michael Floyd (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**50. “Very interesting topic. I don’t really see any reason why a blind person couldn’t be a leader. It is not a matter of whether or not someone can see; it
is a matter of do they have the skills that are required. I hope someday that I can answer this question a lot better because one day I would like to reach
a management position wherever I work.

My true friends and those people who really know me have told me before that they do not think of me as blind, often times they forget, which can be a good
thing. That’s what I want, for the person who’s making the decision whether or not to put me in the high up position to say "she does her work well, she
has the skills, and I think she would be a great asset and source of knowledge to the other employees." I don’t want them to say "she’s blind, she can’t
do it." I don’t think any of us want that. If you’re talking, lets say, the president I’m not sure if we’re ready for that or not because I haven’t been
presented with anyone to look at. When I am I will make the decision of if I want that person to lead the country by what they believe in and will do for
everyone in this country, not by a disability. It could happen though, look how far we’ve come. It is possible.”

Wendalyn(university student, city withheld, Nebraska)

**51. “Leadership should not be a matter of eyesight but of ability, desire and vision. But what should be or what could be rarely is what would be. Too often
blindness is what people see not the person who happens to be blind. A blind leader of our country does not seem a possibility in the anywhere near future--sad
to say. As someone who is female, a member of a minority church and totally blind, I have experienced--in spades--what it is like to be "seen" as something
far less than I am. And while tenacity has allowed me to "rise" to heights many with whom I have come in contact are amazed at, it takes a lot more to
just get to an even level than is fair. But life is not fair and until people become more tolerant, more thoughtful and better educated, a disability” will be far more than just a handicap.”

Linda Vanderlitz (Utah USA)

**52. “I am a sighted person. I would gladly vote for a blind person as a
leader. Many of the blind people I know are so very resourceful and think
of lots of different ways to deal with issues. They seem to not be stuck
with just one outlook on a subject. I am not generalizing, but know that
there are many capable people out there. A president, lawyer, congressman,
senator, etc. needs to have a good mind, a capable attitude, an ability to
assess and weigh matters for the good of the majority. These things are
important. I see no problems with a blind person being, King, president,
emperor or any other leader. I always vote for a person by their abilities
and for their moral character so that our young people have some one to
look up to. A person in that high of a position should be one who leads
their own life in a way that is a good example for the rest of us.”

Rory Conrad (Dunlap, Iowa USA)

**53. “Looking through the Thought Provoker again, I noticed that the Prince had
sight, then lost it. There is a huge difference in public perception of
the abilities of someone who has had sight then lost it as distinguished
from a person born without sight.

I found myself wondering how much different the conversation between the
father and the son would have been, if the Prince had been asking about
whether or not he could become King if he had grown up totally blind.”

Ian Westerland (Geelong, Victoria Australia)

FROM ME: “An interesting thought. What do the rest of you think?”

**54. “I think there are some jobs in society today that an average blind person
can't perform as effectively as an average sighted person given today's
technology, but probably not very many if the blind person is motivated
to overcome barriers, including attitudinal barriers, and work hard. I
agree with others that leader of a country is not one of the jobs a blind
person would be unable to perform. However, I think a large number of
people in our country believe that blindness is such an overwhelming
disability that they cannot imagine themselves blind and able to do
things that are normally thought to require sight and, thus, cannot picture
blind persons doing those things either. They forget that you figure out
ways to do difficult things that are important to you. I had a lengthy
discussion of Thought Provoker with my boyfriend, who has no visual
impairment. Interestingly, he thought a blind person could be accepted
as a leader today under the right circumstances, I thought probably not,
but we put our heads together to think what those circumstances might be.
We both agreed that if a sitting president became blind while in office,
few would feel it was appropriate to toss him out on his ear simply
because he was blind. However, I believe many would think he was
relying, or should rely, on others to do his work. However, for someone
blind to be elected to high political office today, we would need: a blind
man from a wealthy, well connected family with a long track record of
success in public office, who is blind as the result of honorable service
in the military, and who has a lot of charisma, an incredibly supportive
wife, and an unquestionably strong running mate. I'm still not sure a
blind man could be elected president today (I'm sure a blind woman
couldn't be), but I'm at least willing to consider the possibility .... What
comes to mind, though, is how impressed everyone was, including many
blind persons, just a few months back when the blind contestant was
successful on Jeopardy! -- as if that were some type of super human fete
for a blind person to accomplish. If we as a society are still surprised
that a blind person can be intelligent enough to do well on a game show,
are we really ready to believe that a blind person can have all of the
qualities we seek in a person who will lead our country?”

Jeanine Worden (arlington, Virginia USA)

**55. “Education is key....

A personal note:

Background on me: I have a mobility impairment that gives me a similar gait
pattern as someone with CP. Legs bent, walk with a scissors gait, and very

I was working with a "Family & Schools " program. One child asked me why I
walked "funny" Before I could appropriately respond, the child's mother
scolded the child, "You don't ask those kinds of questions!" I answered back, I
didn't mind, I rather have the kids ask and be curious, than stare with
ignorance. The mom, got perturbed with me stating, she didn't want her
children to know. That last comment took me aback.

Another experience I had occurred at while I was renewing my driver license.
Two girls were sitting on the bench, as I passed by I heard one whisper to
other, "Why does he walk like that?" The second girl responded, "Gun shot

I'm a strong proponent of education. Education for me is one of the
building block to goal-vision.”

Geoff Kettling (VR Teacher, TCB - Victoria, Texas USA)

**56. “I found the response of no. 53 from Australia very interesting. my
experience is that sighted people can relate to people who became blind
later in their lives much better than relating with people who were born
blind. Let me hasten to add that I strongly believe that those of us who
were born blind should not feel guilty about the sighted's reaction to us,
unless we provoke negative reactions through our deeds, words, etc. I had a
friend who used to fix cars while he was still sighted and continued with it
after he had become blind. Sighted people admired him for this - so did I.
They could discuss the topic with him and he could react confidently because
of his knowledge about the workings of a car. Another example of topics
that the sighted find interesting is colour. A person who became blind has
seen colour and this does not apply to a person who was born totally blind.
So I am trying to say that perhaps the prince would have a better chance to
become the king one day, because he became blind and perhaps is more
acceptable to the sighted than a person who was born blind would be.
Yes, I believe that sight is unimportant for leadership, because skills like
insight, quick thinking, humility, sobriety, sound judgement, etc are more
important. So, the prince would also need such skills if he hopes to become
a king.”

Janie Fourie )From sunny South Africa

**57. “There are many good points mentioned. Is a blind person ready for
the nation or is the nation ready for a blind person is the question.
In my opinion the nation is not ready regardless of how much we push.
Lets take a look at history and the way it has treated people of various
minority backgrounds. From Dr. Martin Luther King to the most capable of
women, if there has not been any move in even considering either of the
previous 2 there is no way that a blind person will ever become president
not any time soon any way. We are in most cases looked upon as a second
class citizen no matter what positions we hold or what we do. There are
always going to be people who are not going to treat us fairly because of
their discomfort, this I am sure of. Everyone I'm sure has experienced some
sort of discrimination weather they realize it or not. Some of us more than
others, now when there is a person from the African American descent or a
woman who holds at least the vice presidentship then will we have a chance
at becoming vice or president.”

Luis Roman (East Chicago, Indiana

**58. “Comments about treating blindness "as a characteristic instead of a
hindrance," and about doing anything we want if we set our minds do it,
prompt me to suggest that we be more careful and precise in our rhetoric.
Blindness is a characteristic that is also a hindrance under some
circumstances, just as is being especially short, especially tall, or a
great number of other things. I doubt that any of us can do absolutely
anything he or she wants, even in the best of external circumstances. I
think that too steady a diet of such broad-brush rhetoric can pressure
people to feel guilty for failures that logically they could not have
helped. It seems to me far better to say that most of us can do a lot
more than we think we can, blind or not.

Blindness is not like hair or skin color. There are some things I simply
can't do because of it, like drive myself to the grocery store. I think
it does us harm to try to gloss over such particulars. Rather, we should
hit them head-on, and note that probably most lawyers lack the ability to
be plumbers or doctors, and most plumbers or doctors lack what it takes to
be lawyers. And, even if blindness is usually more permanent than a
particular skill level (many plumbers could become lawyers down the road
if they wanted to badly enough), that doesn't mean the limitations arising
from blindness at a given moment are permanent: we keep adapting, keep
removing particular obstacles. I think that if we cast the mater
essentially in this way, we are more credible to our sighted neighbors,
and have a better chance to show them where the logical concern with
physical facts ends and illogical inferences that spawn fear and prejudice

Al Sten-Clanton (Boston, Massachusetts USA)

FROM ME: “Or, could it be said that a person can do anything within their potential that they put their mind, heart and effort to?”

**59. “We as a blind community or a person with a disability must continue as
many of you have pointed out, to educate , if you would, the public. You see
, the public is us. We need to share our positive and sometimes negative
experiences which can translate to adequate eductional opportunites for
those around us. the simplest task for instance is ina restaurant c your
might frequent , would be to advise the waiter or waitress regarding the
clock which so many of us like. " Mr. Stone your meat is at 12 o'clock.."
I am fortunate in my work to be able to speak to many audiences which
includes everyone from school children to medical professionals and believe
it or not many of these average folks just want to learn about what we
already know. . As long as we take our message out into the world in a
positive way we can be Kings and queens , we can run organizations , our
families , our places of worship and ultimately restore positive self
esteem in yourself and those in the Kingdom you wish to involve. It is you
and I who vote and make a difference in today’s world. Would you vote for
Robert to be President if he was Blind? Not really, you would vote for
Robert as he may be the most qualified. One does not need to be a ruler of a
country to be in charge. We all can step up to the plate and be whom we
want in reality .”

Lee A. Stone (Hudson, New York, USA

**60. “If you are speaking of ethnicity when you speak of culture then the answer is
no. I do not know of any blind leaders in the Mexican community. I can say
that Latin American countries still perpetuate the stigma that blindness is a
bad omen.

If you are speaking of where I live; in the U.S. then the answer is twofold
for me. There are leaders of organizations who themselves are blind. But in
MY community are there blind leaders? NO!

I would like to see blind role models for our blind kids more than I would
like to see a blind leader of a kingdom. My wish would be to have a blind
mentor for my blind child. For my son to read a story with a blind person
and not me stumbling over the Braille. For him to feel someone's hands
whizzing around the page, to take him out and to share his perspective. To
help give him the self-esteem to realize that he too can be anything...a
leader too!”

Robyn (California USA)

**61 "King George V of Hannover (1819-1878) was blind. He was the only son of King
Ernest Augustus I of Hannover (fifth son of King George III of England; Duke
of Cumberland in the English Peerage) and Princess Frederica of
He married Princess Mary of Saxe-Altenburg in 1843 and they had three
children. Amongst his descendants are Prince Ernest Augustus of Hannover
(who recently married Princess Caroline of Monaco, Grace Kelly's eldest
daughter), Queen Sophia of Spain and King Constantine of the Hellenes.
George V of Hannover was a cousin to Queen Victoria; in fact, he would have
been King of England if Queen Victoria hadn't had any children. The death of
King William IV of England separated the thrones of England and Hannover
since the young Victoria, as a woman, could not succeed to Hannover, that
crown passed to her uncle , Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, who
became King of Hannover.
King George V of Hannover, crowned in 1851, was deposed in 1866 by the
prussian Hohenzollerns due to the German Unification."

Valme Rives

**62. "I am sorry to have to admit that I cannot see a blind person as a president. There are in South Africa two or three members of parliament. Regrettably,
sighted people cannot look beyond the things that make the blind look foolish or like some sort of curiosity. The President who was paralysed could hide
this by being seated or strapped. There is no way a blind person can hide dark glasses, damaged eyes, lack of eye contact, fumbling with food and being
helped around in unfamiliar places. Sighted people, I'm afraid, are so pre-occupied with these strange things that they could never accept that there is
a brain and powers of insight behind them. Society has a very, very long way to go before blind people are regarded as anything more than almost human."

Lorna Kent

**63. “You bet. That is what the father should answer. But the prince might have an uphill battle convincing his future subjects. However if he really has the qualities of a king he should be able to do it. Just recently we heard about the blind education minister in Britain. If he gets to be prime minister one
day, we would have a blind leader on the international scene.
Right here in the united States, we have lots of blind people leading businesses and other organizations, many of which they founded themselves. There is
no reason why a blind person or a person with any disability, can't be a leader and a great one. Think of FDR.”

John J. Boyer (NABS(

**64. I am going to look at this from a technology perspective.
I think that one way to ensure equal opportunity among us is to not have outdated technology. Let me explain. I was at one time enrolled in an Office Skills program at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. I got very little out of it, because most of the time was spent teaching the other students how to spell simple words like "cat" and "dog." In addition, the instructors would bitch at me for being late all the time to Office Skills, when it wasn't even my fault but the fault of paratransit. But that's a topic for another Thought Provoker. Besides that, the technology was very outdated. The Lighthouse had very few computers running Windows, and those that were running Windows only had Windows 3.1 on them. I may be misunderstanding something here, but I believe Windows 3.1 was the first version of Windows released by Microsoft. I attended that program in 1997. The computers did not even have sound cards, so consequently the speech could not be controlled very well and it was hard to understand at times. The instructors did nothing but kick back and relax, and a lot of times they fell asleep with students in the class. They would also have on music and a lot of times they would be singing, therefore diverting their attention from us. Whenever one of us tried to ask a question or get help with something, these quote, instructors, unquote, would act as if we were doing them a huge disservice. I hadn't yet even touched JAWS for Windows, and I knew only a little bit about Windoweyes. I had previously learned JAWS for Dos at a rehabilitation training center which is, oddly enough, practically kitty-corner from the Lighthouse. What's up with that! Two places right down the road from each other, yet they can't even agree on the technology. Anyway, I had not yet even been introduced to the Internet, which I believe was due in large part to not having any online access at either of these places. I also had some
technical difficulties at home, but those were beyond my control. I am still learning the Internet, and I really enjoy it. I think it has opened doors for people which would have been bolted shut a number of years ago. I got all my Internet training so far from The Hadley School for the Blind, but that's a whole story in and of itself. It is
appalling to me how the Lighthouse and the adjacent rehab-training center are still this far behind in technology. There used to be a medical-transcription program at the Lighthouse but it was dropped for what reason I'll probably never know. It was probably due to lack of funding. My brother went through that program though, and he said it was pretty comprehensive. There is now a new phone system in place at the Lighthouse, but what good is that if most of the instructors there won't even return phone messages. I will give them a bit of credit though, because a few instructors there are very good about returning calls. I think I've said enough here, but my point in all this is that it's very important to keep technology updated, especially
with all the new assistive devices that are coming out.

Jacob Joehl Chicago, Illinois USA

**65. There are two answers to your question of whether blind people can be leaders. The first and obvious answer is yes, as you have mentioned Zisca, and someone
else has mentioned George V of Hanover. Zisca, to my understanding, was so great that as you mentioned, the people of Bohemia offered him the crown. George
V, as I understand it, eventually had his fortune confiscated. More points off for Bismarck.

Enrico Dandolo was a leader who went unmentioned. As Doge of Venice, he led a confederation of Western Christian states in a sort of crusade against Byzantium,
the Eastern Roman Empire, in 1204. Why? He hated the Byzantines because thirty years before, they captured and blinded him. Of course this probably wasn’t
the only reason the Empire was attacked that year, but it undoubtedly was one of them. End result: Constantinople was sacked; Byzantium was conquered by
the Latin West and remained a vassel state of the Holy Roman Empire for over 50 years. After regaining its independence in 1261, it was significantly poorer
and weaker than it already was before the attack. Dandolo’s actions were not the only reason for this state of affairs, but they helped to hasten the pace
of insidious decline that had already been underway for well over 200 years. In the long run, Constantinople became Istanbul.

Thus we see that blind people can be great leaders, minor princes or embittered despots whose present actions may have long-term disastrous consequences
for their vanquished foes.

But in the Middle East, the situation was quite different, and here we get into more complex issues, and my eventual final answer. Shah Abbas the Great
of Persia (1571-1629, reigned 1587-1629) was known for being relatively magnanimous toward his people. Too bad this temperament didn’t extend to his family.
One son was assassinated and two more were blinded, either because they conspired outright against their father, or because they were rumored to have done
so. The sons he blinded were immediately disqualified from the crown because it was felt by the Persians that only a whole man could be king. (Yes I said
"man" for a reason; it was unthinkable that a woman would ever rule Persia.) Thus the crown passed to Safi Mirza, Abbas’s eldest grandson who, by temperament
and raising, was simply not the equal of his grandfather. One can only speculate if, absent their blindness, either one of the great Shah’s surviving blind
sons would have ruled better than Safi. We can say though, that beyond any doubt, 1629 marked the beginning of the decline of Persia as a world power.
Now wasn’t that nice of Daddy?

It’s also interesting to me that while there were comparatively few blind Western European monarchs, notwithstanding Dandolo and George V, there were a
number who were either quite mad or otherwise developmentally disabled. Caligula, Nero, Domitian, Comodus, Caracala and Elagabalus were all at least very
strange, and at worst destructive to those around them and to the Empire. Honorius of the Western Empire and his nephew Valentinian III were probably what
we might once have called retarded. So was Honorius’s brother Arcadius of the East. Charles VII and IX of France were similarly disabled, and Phillip II
of Spain had a son, one Don Carlos, who was both mentally ill and developmentally disabled (he liked to beat up girls and developed a crush on his young
stepmother, Elizabeth of Valois). Fortunately, either because he was murdered or because he died of health problems in 1568, he never ascended the Spanish

Spain was not so fortunate when it came to Phillip’s great-grandson Charles (1661-1700), who became Charles II (1665-1700). He may well have gone blind
very late in his short life, but that was the least of his problems. He had the so-called Hapsburg chin to such a great extent that he could not chew solid
food until the age of five, and he could not walk until the age of ten. He had relatively few lucid moments, so Spain was largely ruled first by his mother
and then by his wife, or perhaps one of her lovers. Spain at that time was still a power to be reckoned with, but the vultures were circling. One wonders
if Spain’s misfortunes, which culminated in the long War of Succession, might’ve been different were Charles only blind. But in any event, he had Mama
and Papa to thank for his numerous health problems. Why? They were uncle and niece. And it wasn’t the first generation in which this kind of intermarriage
took place.

Now here’s something more to chew on, for it brings me (I hope) to my final point. Louis IX of France, called "St Louis", was known for his piety, which
took the form of praying for hours and doing various acts of good works. As I understand from Will and Ariel Durant, this sainted monarch founded many
homes for reformed prostitutes and yes, the blind. He even fed the blind at public expense, serving them himself and washing their feet. I guess you have
to take into account the temper of the times, but I’m glad I didn’t live back then, at least to my knowledge. But I venture to say that I think I know
what Louis thought of the capabilities of the blind when it came to ruling a great power. Which is interesting in light of the fact that neither madness
nor mental disability seemed to serve as a bar for member status in the Crowned Head society.

Now as to whether a blind person could ever be president of the U.S.? I have to say that there are two major obstacles. First, I venture to say that there
are still people who think as Louis IX did. Hell, there are people who are amazed that we can graduate law school or press an elevator button. There are
bioethicists who want to rid the world of blind and disabled people. And do you think the average couple would decide to carry a child to term if they
knew he or she would be born blind? I have no great hopes for that. Better to just get rid of the defective thing. (Hey, I’m not of this mindset, but I
don’t dare say that no one actually thinks this way.)

Second, we’ve mapped the DNA Code. We are now doing stem cell research, and it seems that we can "fix" things. Ponder this: Isn’t it entirely possible that
within sixty or seventy years there might not be any blind people left because blindness is preeminently fixable? To say that I’m not nervous about this
is an understatement. But do you really see it not happening? I mean, barring any barriers to reaching this goal, such as a simple lack of knowledge? If
the average person thinks that blindness is a great tragedy, then isn’t it more than an even chance that the average person who becomes blind later on
in life will opt to correct it if they can? And do you really think that young parents who find out their infant is blind won’t opt for the same thing?
This presupposes, of course, that I’m right. But quite honestly, I don’t see the U.S. ever having a blind president. I’ve been wrong before, though.

John D. Coveleski