THOUGHT PROVOKER 61
Rights of Passage
Last Updated December 01, 2002
To Provoke Thought Is The First Step To Beyond
"But lady, I can't stop there! It isn't a designated bus stop. There is one just..." The bus driver slowed the bus as he spoke. His distress clear to all the passengers, they could tell he was fearful about either choice--giving in to the demanding customer or not giving in. Meanwhile the woman's voice was getting more strident with every word she spoke.
"I told you, I'm visually impaired and that is the store where I want to go! All you need to do is pull over to the curb and I'll know where I am!" The woman stood near him at the front door, long white cane in one hand, the other holding on to the handrail connected to the fare-box for support.
"Ma'am, if I do that other people will get it into their heads that it is a legitimate stop and it's not. If my supervisor sees me doing this, I could get in trouble! I have to stop at the corner where the sign is." The driver pleaded even as the bus pulled over to the curb, halted by the bus stop placard and opened the door for the woman clinging to his fare-box, still loudly demanding, on and on. "Ma'am, here is the stop for this block." The bus driver had to raise his voice to be heard. Some passengers were already standing behind the woman to get off themselves, but the woman intent on making her point to the driver didn't move.
The light changed, the bus didn't move. "Hey let's get going!" yelled a passenger from the rear of the bus. "Lady, sit down!" yelled another person. "Get off and let us out!" yelled a third.
"I told you I wanted off at the other end of the block! You are supposed to be serving your customer's needs! I wanted off near the store! I'm visually impaired, I need to know where I am and if I need to be dropped off at a place where I know where I am, then that is what I need and you're supposed to do it!" And she stood there, head up, proud of standing up for her rights.
**1. Although the woman in question was supposedly standing up for her rights, we as blind people also have to worry about public perception, and how we appear to the average public. Although the woman thought she had a right to do what she did, she wasn't thinking of the consequences she was having on the bus driver and his job. He could have gotten a reprimand from his supervisor, and there would have been many confused passengers who thought there was indeed a bus stop there when there wasn't. If I were this woman, I would get some mobility training at the appropriate bus stops. That way she can learn more than just this one store, and branch out and explore her surroundings a bit more.
**2. Well, I do not know if that problem is regulated by law in the USA. Here in Germany a bus driver, if he works for a public transport company, need not stop at any but the designated bus stops to let somebody in or out. I do not know if even the insurance company would pay if something would happen while he did. Still sometimes the drivers do so to please their passengers if they are in the right mood and when the traffic allows them to do so. But I understand that we do not speak about the particular case, but in general.
Now, if you have a right on something, then of course you can stand up for it. Therefore, of course, you have to know your rights. If you claim as a right, what is not your right, then you may not be taken serious or you may annoy someone - and it may afflict your reputation and the reputation of your peers.
Still, you have to think of the way you claim your rights. A polite way may often work better than being harsh and demanding. But if politeness does not work, then you should not give in easily.
If you do not need to enforce your claim, it may sometimes be prudent to give way at the moment - and thus perhaps save energy for a time you need it.
As a visually impaired person, you will probably have to fight for your
rights more often than sighted people, and you will have to fight for one and the same right again and again. Sighted people hardly know about your special rights, nor about your special needs. Therefore I think it is important to say again: you have to know your rights (you will surely know your needs!). There
are training courses where you can learn how to reach your rights in your daily living, if you think you have problems with it.
I apologize for my bad English, it has not been practiced for years.
Marianne Leidig (special education student at the University of Dortmund)
**3. I don't generally respond to "Thought Provokers" every week, but I feel compelled to respond to this one.
I think this story illustrates clearly how hard it is for blind and visually impaired people to get clear information about exact locations of bus stops. At least in my local bus system, they are often green and orange poles situated at random (or at least capricious) locations; some are located directly at intersections, while others are located mid-block. If I am not absolutely familiar with where I'm going, getting information about where I am going in relation to a bus stop (and finding the appropriate bus stop when I want to catch the bus to return home) can take hours of detective work for me, and I've spent many years traveling the city on the bus. If there were more information about just exactly where the woman in the story was being let off (perhaps as little at the address of the address of the
nearest building on that side of the street, or a business or store name), would she be demanding to be let off at the other end of the block and creating this scene in front of the driver and other passengers?
Christopher R. Sabine Cincinnati, Ohio USA
**4. I think in this case the bus driver is in the right. Yes, maybe the lady wanted to get off in front of the store that she needed to go to, but we as the blind community need to understand that there are rules that we need to abide by. If that driver had let this lady off in front of her store, other passengers may have started to think that they could be let off wherever they wanted to get off. We have a GPS type system on our buses here, and if someone gets off their route, it doesn't go unnoticed. Also, there are people from the bus company that drive around in unmarked vans to make sure that everything is going well. If this driver had let this lady off, he very well could have gotten himself into some trouble. I have had drivers offer to let me off in a different location for one reason or another, but that person has always gotten permission first, and it wasn't something I asked for. It was appreciated, but not necessary. There are more important issues that we as blind people should be concerned about then where we get off the bus. If we start complaining about things this little where will it end? Most of the time, the bus stops are set up for the safety of not only the passengers, but also for pedestrians
and drivers. If a bus stops in the wrong place it can cause a lot of problems. Yes, I will admit that there are times when I would love to be able to be let off right in front of a building so I wouldn't have to walk, but walking is a part of life. If this lady wanted to be dropped off in front of the door, maybe she should consider taking a taxi.
Caroline Congdon; Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA
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**5. I also thought the protagonist was rude and an embarrassment to blind people. However, she was dealing with a very real problem. If there are bus stops that are dangerous or inappropriate for what's there when you get off, then these concerns need to be addressed before you get on the bus. I've found the city mothers and fathers to be receptive to my concerns in this regard.
There may very well be occasions when a courtesy stop might be requested. What if the driver has passed your stop? Then you'd have a right to be let off as soon as possible, and at a place where you could figure out where you are and get to where you want to go. Same for rides where there is construction where the usual bus stop is (boy do I hate that situation. It's a reason why all blind people should be eligible for Para transit).
Abby Vincent Culver City, California USA
**6. I feel that the woman on the bus is going a bit too far when she demands that the bus driver drop her off exactly where she wants to go. With proper mobility training, any visually impaired person can learn to get off a bus at the appropriate stop and walk to his/her destination, unless there are serious hazards such as busy intersections with no traffic lights or stop signs. But that doesn't seem to be the case here. It's too bad that there are people out there
who think they require special treatment just because they are visually impaired.
Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, U.S.A.
**7. The bus driver should have done what the lady asked, provided it was safe to do so. If he could not get next to the curb, he should have told the lady so that she would not think she was stepping onto the sidewalk. I don't see this action as a matter involving pity for the disabled. It is a matter of common sense.
Dick Myers (NFBtalk) Japan
**8. I'm sorry that this story made you cry, but how can you say that the driver doesn't care much about the blind, when the woman was causing trouble on her own? She was preventing people from boarding or leaving the bus, and as the story says, even when the light had changed and signaled the bus to move forward, she was still trying to get the driver to stop. As someone else has stated, being blind doesn't give us the right to disrupt everything else in order to get an accommodation. We should ask for accommodations yes, but not to the point of causing problems for several different people. As also has been said, if she wanted a door to door trip, then she should have called a
cab. One other thing to think about here: how does her behavior reflect on the blind in general? I'm sure you're aware that when a sighted person sees a blind person, they don't think of that person individually; instead, they take their impressions of that one blind person and apply them to all blind people. So, what does this woman's behavior possibly communicate about the competency of blind people, to someone who may be sitting on that bus, or
further to someone who may be wanting to get off the bus but cannot because there's some maddening blind woman who is insisting that she should get let off in front of a store, when there's no regulation bus stop there?
Food for thought,
Wayne Merritt (NFBtalk)
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FROM ME: What is that piece of human learning and/or mental processing that seems to work via creating wide sweeping generalization in order to make order of our surroundings? By understanding this, thinking about it, can it help us to pay more attention to what we do?
**9. "I will be blatantly honest. I think the woman in the story is completely out of line. She seems to think that just because she is "visually impaired" the world should bow to her every whim. If she can't walk from the bus stop to the store, then her travel skills obviously need to be worked on.
Do not mistake me. I am all for standing up for one's rights when it is needed. However, in this case, this woman is not asking for her basic rights. She is asking for a special privilege. If a bus driver was in the wrong and had violated a blind person's basic rights, then okay, I can see him/her standing on the bus in the doorway and not allowing it to move. I even know of one person who has done it before because a driver did not announce the stops, and was extremely rude in general.
Of course this brings up the next logical question. What is considered to be "basic rights?" I know people could define that differently. This story is proof of it. In my mind, this woman is not fighting for a right. Stopping somewhere else would not have been done for a sighted member of society, nor is it paramount to this woman's independence. I mean, I think a bus driver should announce stops. We have "the right" to know where it is we are, just as a sighted person knows. We should fight for things that will help put us on an equal footing with the rest of the world, not for special privileges, as the woman in the story is."
Alicia Richards, Illinois USA
**10. This is easy, the bus driver is correct; the visually impaired woman is incorrect. What she really needs is better mobility training and an attitude adjustment. She appears to be one of those whom we come across that gets rights and responsibilities mixed up. Yes, she is right, she needs to know where she is, however, the bus driver is not required to stop where she determines he needs to stop, the stops are where they are for a reason. The woman needs to learn how to travel so she can get to the store from the bus stop, not be let out and protected from her inability (or unwillingness) to learn how to travel properly. I applaud the driver for not custodializing the visually impaired woman.
Allen Seville (NFB Rehab list)
**11. I ride a commuter bus to work each day that makes limited stops. Often people would request to be let off at a particular intersection which was not an official stop. Some drivers would do it, and some, not. However, many people called and wrote to the transit provider. Eventually it was made an official stop, and at least 10 people get on and off at that stop each day.
Andy Baracco (ACB-L)
**12. Nope, the lady does not have a right to either demand that a driver break the rules for her because she is blind, nor can she
inconvenience other people because she is visually impaired by acting in such a cavalier way. My response would have been to tell her to get mobility training to walk that far, or to take Para transit or to
seek some redress from the transit company, not act like an idiot!
Ann K. Parsons (Blindfam)
**13. I have never heard tell that the rights of blind people include having bus drivers stop at points which were not their assigned stations. If we are going to use public transportation we had better abide by the rules. If we are going to seek assistance from a bus driver or anyone else we must do so within the bounds of reason. If a driver volunteers to let me off at a point to which I am traveling which is not an assigned station, I might well let him, but I wouldn't expect it of him/her. What the lady in this incident is demanding has nothing to do with rights for the blind.
Arie Gamliel (NFB Parents list) Jerusalem, Israel
**14. It is my opinion that this woman could have taken the time to learn the fixed bus routes in the area of the business where she needs to go, or taken a Para transit system in which she could be dropped off at the curb. She could contact a member of the state commission or Services for the Vision Impaired (that's what it's called here in Wyoming) to be connected with an O&M instructor to learn the appropriate stops along the bus routes.
Bonnie Ainsworth Cheyenne, Wyoming USA
**15. I don't know about other bus systems but the one I use you get off at the bus stop with everyone else. If you need what they call "curb to curb service you have to call Para Transit - a dial a ride service run by the same company. I'm not for making a public seen standing up for my rights. I would of gotten the bus drivers name and called his supervisor if I was in the right. Another thing is a blind person shouldn't be out traveling on their own if they can't make it from a bus stop to where they want to go. The woman in this story reminds me of a woman I knew years ago that wanted
to take her guide dog into the public pool with her. Not on the pool deck she wanted the dog in the water with her.
Charlie Web (Blindfam)
**16. OK, so by this logic, a Laundromat should sort her laundry for her; her doctor should make house calls; everyone who sends anything to her should do it in Braille or on tape -- no, scratch that -- no choice, whatever *she* wants. In fact, if she gets a dog guide, her dog should relieve himself in the toilet to save her the trouble of finding a suitable place, and --
gasp! -- picking up after him/her.
I have to say, that if I were a passenger on this mythical bus, either blind or sighted, I would be utterly turned off by this woman's demand to have rights morph into coddling and personal convenience. If she wants that type of service, I would tell her to find a volunteer or pay a driver, or start building up her walking stamina. Ask the driver or another passenger for directions, landmarks, etc. to backtrack to the store. Carry a cell phone, and call the store, tell them you're getting off the bus at the corner, and would they mind please sending someone out to assist in letting her know where the correct store entrance is. If she asks a passenger, for example "How many doors back is such-and-such?" a passenger might even be willing
to walk her there -- not the best solution, mind you, but if her mobility
confidence is low (as it apparently is) or if she has had substandard
training, there are ways of resolving the problem without placing another person's job in jeopardy, rewriting policy, taking rights to an extreme and inconveniencing one's fellow citizens. Were I a sighted passenger who did not know of any blind people with better attitudes and more consideration, I would possibly consider that all blind people thought they had this sort of service coming to them, and I would walk away from that bus with a poor impression of the blind indeed.
Christine Faltz (NFB Parents list)
**17. This is very disturbing. This woman was setting a very bad example of what blind people are like, what they need, and how they can be helped. This is not an example of reasonable accommodations. This is an example of her demanding services she is not entitled to. The bus driver was right to stand his ground, and I am glad the other passengers complained instead of being sympathetic toward her. She does not need sympathy. She needs someone to orient her to how to get from local bus stops to her destination, and to help her in learning how to solicit aid if she knows she will need help finding a store entrance. She also needs an attitude adjustment, and some help with basic communication skills, manners, and assertiveness as opposed to aggressiveness. Give me a break. If she wanted to be dropped off at a specific location, she should have called a cab or Dial A Ride. Instead, she chose to make a scene, and inconvenience others. That is selfish and unnecessary. Standing up for your rights is one thing, but know what your rights are first. You don't have the right to be a loud, obnoxious b... who makes unnecessary demands on the unsuspecting public. Good grief.
Carmella Broome South Carolina USA
18. No, this passenger was completely wrong. She has a right to be told the bus stops and to be dropped off at a designated stop. But, unless it's a cab or Para transit service, she doesn't have the right to be dropped off where she wants to be, visually impaired or not. Making a scene about this doesn't help her at all, as evidenced by the other angry passengers. It also doesn't do anything good to teach sighted people about the abilities of blind people or that she can function independently. If she had to get off at the front of the store, would she then go inside, stand at the door and demand that someone take her where she wanted to go inside the store. If not, if she can get from place to place in the store, why couldn't she walk
part of a block to the front of the store? We do have certain rights as
blind people, but being dropped off door to door when using a fixed rout bus isn't one of them.
Cindy Handel Willow Street, PA
**19. It is my understanding that public transportation carriers are obligated to make the transit system equally accessible to all. It is personally offensive to me when individuals with disabilities attempt to go beyond their legal rights and ask for special treatment. It is actions like this that will ultimately de-rail the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is on thin ice already due to individuals who try to make people believe that it is more than it is. I ride the fixed bus system every day. As long as the bus is automated or the bus driver calls out the stops, they are performing within their legal
duty. It is shameful and embarrassing to see people act the way the lady is in the thought provoker. she is sending the wrong message not only to everyone present on the bus, but also to everyone that those people ultimately talk to. You know, at the dinner table. "You should have seen this pitiful blind lady on the bus today."
David Ondich Dallas, Texas USA
**20. There are times when it is imperative to stand firmly on your rights and times when it is inappropriate. I wouldn't expect the driver to change his route or hold up traffic to make my life easier, nor expect that others should be inconvenienced for my benefit. I do expect to be allowed to utilize public accommodations, receive a taxi ride with my dog guide, have audible traffic signals at complex intersections, receive courteous assistance in shops. I left a dress store when the owner asked me too because she was concerned that my dog might brush against ad soil her dresses for sale. I had a right to be there, but figured I could spend my $100 budget somewhere where I was welcome with my dog. Needless to say, my dog was well groomed and I wouldn't have objected if she had suggested he lie down in an out of the way place, be held by my husband or something reasonable. I might have asked the driver for some info about the locale if I were unfamiliar with the area or asked another disembarking passenger for that info or probably have called ahead to get a clear picture of my destination's location before starting the trip. It takes practice to garner the necessary or useful directions from the people you ask, but it can be done. A city bus isn't a door to door service nor should it be expected to provide that service. On the whole, I have had excellent assistance from drivers. One even got down and kicked through a snow drift to be sure I could locate the crosswalk I needed.
DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega Colorado USA
**21. Where standing up for yourself is appropriate is when a situation puts you at risk. For example, one of my bus stops was located on a traffic island between the off and on ramps for a highway. To reach it from across the highway, I could walk along the edge of a car overpass with nothing between me and a fall to the highway below but a low fender guard rail or I could use a pedestrian overpass with two flights of stairs at the ends, walk a block to a cut in the highway fence, follow along a culvert through waist high weeds, cross that culvert which was a sort of concrete lined ditch when I estimated I was across from the island and cross the lane of traffic
speeding up to merge with the highway traffic. I made an appointment with the traffic engineer to see the problem and he waffled and mentioned that a wheelchair user also had complained about the location of the bus stop. He stated that he could bring it up again but couldn't guarantee they would do anything about it. I sweetly pointed out that others besides me probably
found the crossing of the culvert challenging when it was full of water or crusted with ice and that since I had just returned from training with my guide dog, I would canvas my neighbors to see if others would be willing to sign a petition if I didn't hear from him in two weeks. The bus stop was relocated within the week. I didn't get abusive or loud, just refused to believe that I could be brushed off with well, I don't know if the committee will do anything.
DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega (ACB-L)
22. Oh, Lord; this is the type of individual that makes me cringe! I totally sympathize with the bus driver and the other passengers on the bus. From the description, the woman's desired stop posed no threat to her safety (apparently it was on the same side of the street, requiring no "dangerous" crossing of a street and was a straight shot down the block) and she seemed to know exactly where it was located, too (in the story, she knew it was at the other end of the block from the bus stop) If she required door to door delivery, such arrangements could and should be made prior to the bus ride,
not putting a bus driver in the middle of a situation.....a regular transit
route needs to stay on schedule and can not stop just anywhere. That creates traffic hazards and in fact, I believe it is against the law for a city bus to "stop" anywhere but at its designated stops. My point is that if one needs door to door delivery, one should make such arrangements with Para transit or some other service. And if that isn't available, get some O & M so one can utilize the bus system as it exists.
The woman may be "proud" of standing up for "her rights" but I cringe at the negative impression she is giving the public. She was becoming hysterical and frankly, probably in danger of arrest. I don't know the circumstances of the travel path (maybe there are no sidewalks?) but it seems to me that she isn't choosing her battles well. And she is creating a battle with the wrong person......the bus driver isn't the one who sets the routes or makes
the rules. All she has done is put a driver at risk for losing his job,
caused a traffic hazard and made a lot of passengers angry and upset and created a situation very likely to lapse into chaos. A lovely image to behold.. And what type of image do you think they will carry in their minds about blind people or the disabled in general?
Based simply on the Provoker information; this woman did not, in my opinion, handle this situation well at all. We can real all sorts of things into this Provoker but based on what was presented; the woman behaved no better than a spoiled princess demanding her driver stop and double-park in New York traffic so she wouldn't get her shoes wet!
Debra Streeter, M.Ed. Victoria, Texas USA
**23. I personally do not think that there was enough information in this story to make any kind of a judgment call. ..... i.e. How many other passengers were on the bus?.....Could he see if and how many other people were waiting at the next stop?.....How busy or crowed was the area in question?.....Did he have a radio/phone to talk to his supervisor?.......Was this a one time request or an ongoing problem?.......Did any one happen to think about the emotional well being of this lady?.....Was she just having a bad day or is
this just her nature?.....Did she have O &M training and if so how many lessons and did she acquire the skills needed to travel on her own?....Had she just received some bad news before she boarded the bus?....Maybe she was told that in the town that she was in this is the only means of transportation for the blind and that they would accommodate her, people do get misinformation all the time....Was there no one around that was willing to step to the plate to offer any kind of assistance to another human being in distress?... and in this story there were two people that were in distress.
With these questions at hand, I would have a hard time sitting in judgment.
( judge not, lest ye be judged) My next question would be....What does a cup of kindness cost? We as a society need to constantly be looking at our actions(actions do speak louder than words). Could one phone call have made a difference.....could just a few extra steps from someone who could see where they are going make anotherís day brighter?
As already said This is just my two cents.
DeDe, 35 (RPlist)
**24. Robert in this example they were both wrong! The driver should have never argued with the rider he was in a no win position, instead he should have agreed with her and given her the transits phone number suggested she contact them about future stopping for the disabled. The rider was wrong blaming and harassing the driver who was only doing his job. We solved this problem by talking with transit management, now the drivers at their discretion stop if they deem it safe to let a disabled person off this is usually done in the closest driveway.
Diane Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
**25. Passengers do not have a reason to demand that they be let off at their chosen location just because they don't know the way to the business they want from the bus stop. There
are certain businesses I can't get to because they are next to busy intersections that I have trouble crossing. However, if I need to go
somewhere new, I always call the transit office first and find out what route I need to take and which way I need to walk to get from the bus stop to the business I want. If I ever have any questions about the route or the intersections I need to cross, I will call the state commission for the blind and have my instructor help me evaluate the route. There are special transportation services operated by the transit systems as well as cab companies and volunteer drivers. You would think she would learn to access those services if the business she needs is next to a busy intersection and she is not able to get to and from the bus stop. What does everyone else think of this?
Eric Patterson (Blindfam)
**26. Mostly Dog Guide, user. Yet use a cane, too. I've been slack, in being involved, in the, "Thought Provoker".
This one caught my attention. Even though this is my own personal opinion. I am sure there are more, who travel, independent, feeling the same.
This, little clip, in the Provoker, I have to say, is what gives a bad name to blind travelers. That the thought of the blind or visually impaired belong home.
First off. Here in the city of Portland, Me. I'd say, is blind friendly. As a matter what ever the handicap is, it is handicap friendly. That is for the most part. What town or city has it's spots? Well, it is the same here. Yet, over all, it is very accommodating for all handicap persons.
Second, whether a person is sited, blind, visually impaired or any type of disability. Common sense would say ask questions about the, town or city, of where businesses are; or what ever one is looking for. If the opportunity is available. Getting a map of the city and learning the layout of the city. That way having knowledge of the streets.
As Businesses move all the time. As well, as people move.
Third, is where is the mobility training? Going to a person. A best friend, family member or training center for mobility. Learning North, South, East and West. Again, knowing the streets and the general locations of different things. When, I first came to Portland. This is exactly what I did. With my son's and training resource center, learned the streets for the most part. Having like
a kind of a map in my head. Second learning where the most important things are in the city. Learning the Metro bus system and etc. Then, if needed, not feeling ashamed in asking a person on the street where a certain business, is. That is if needed. As, noted, if one lives in the city. A business, doesn't
stay in one spot for a long period of time.
As for the Metro system here. Again, the city is blessed. Though not perfect. They announce all major metro bus stops. If when you get on the bus an insert your dollar. Ask in a kind way. The driver is more than glad to let you know when your bus stop is coming up. Even to the point of letting you know how close they are to the curb. If they are unable to park close to the curb. As mention in the story. It is true, here. Metro bus system here. Has a certain
route to go and are not allowed to stop at every business for door to door service.
I have seen this type of person on the bus demanding this type of service. To which, I have interjected on several occasions said to the person, " There is three other bus services that offer what you need, for a little more money." To which, is true. We have three different types of smaller buses, that offer door to door service.
Even, to this day. I, like any normal person, may get lost. I, Just stop and ask for directions. As with this new job, re-location, into a brand new building; in another part of the city.
So, the bottom line? I think the person, no, I know this person, needs mobility training. As if this person, can not handle a metro bus. How is this person, going to handle any other form of transportation. Such as, train, plane, taxi boat, cruise ship or any other type that handles a group of people? Again, this gives a poor representation of the blind and visually impaired, population.
Especially, when you hear a unreasonable demand of: "I told you I wanted off at the other end of the block! You are supposed to be serving your customer's needs! I wanted off near the store! Iím visually impaired, I need to know where I am and if I need to be dropped off at a place where I know where I am, then that is what I need and you're supposed to do it!Ē
Gene Stone Portland, Main USA
**27. 2x. Actually, I have asked a bus driver on occasion to let me off on the near side of the street if the bus stop is on the far side, and my business is on the near side. I would have never thought to do this, but I have seen others do it and the driver has sometimes complied. I must say at this time that the others who asked this favor were not blind or disabled. if the driver says that he can't do it for any reason, the discussion stops there. I think that the woman in the story was just plain rude, and probably would have been that way whether or not she was blind. It is unfortunate that the only thing that anyone will remember about her is that she is blind, and they'll probably think that most, if not all, blind people are like her.
Andy Barraco (ACB-L)
**28. At first I felt uncomfortable about this question because I am sighted and cannot know what that woman was going through. Then I grew angry, because I have been with blind and visually impaired people over the years, and I never ran into one like her.
One young man in particular comes to mind. He flew to the 2001 RP Social in Atlanta - by himself. This delightful and adventurous soul managed to find the MAARTA and explore a strange city up and down - by himself, without once
behaving like a spoiled brat.
Unless the woman was alone in a dangerous neighborhood, could she not have stopped someone and said, "Excuse me, but how far is it to (name of store)? She could even have ducked into another store and asked.
Being blind or visually impaired does not give one the right to behave like a 2-year-old having a tantrum. That woman was being one giant obnoxious pain. With all due respect, she needed lessons in orientation and mobility, in spite of the cane she carried. She also needed lessons in courtesy and consideration for others. She must have had some degree of sight, because she pointed out exactly where she wanted to stop. I'm sure there were more
than a few people who wanted to tell her where to get off!
Carolyn (RPlist) Clearwater, FL, USA
**29. I think the woman in this story was very rude. A better solution
to her problem might have been Para transit. As I read this, I couldn't help but think of my junior high days, when I rode to and from school on a bus that was owned and operated by the school district. There was a bus stop about a block from my house, and it was very easy to get to. However, the other students on the bus were always rude to the driver. They were constantly asking him, or the substitute drivers we had from time to time, if the students could be let off at unauthorized stops. Not to mention the students would also get up out of their seats constantly and harass the drivers. I wasn't one of the loud bunch though. Besides just using my common sense to be nice to the drivers, our regular driver was the uncle of a classmate of mine. Just to give an example of something that was done to harass these people, one of the drivers had an accent, and the students
would always imitate his speech. I've probably strayed off topic here, so I will end my comments for now.
Jacob Joehl (ACB-L)
**30.. I thought the woman was being positively obnoxious. It's not like the driver forgot to tell her about her stop or missed her actual bus stop. What would have been the big deal if she had to walk down the block?
Also, the other people had the opportunity to see how dependent and rude a blind person could be. When she got off the bus she could have asked one of the other passengers getting off where she was in relation to the store that she wanted to go to. Her coping strategy was inappropriate. She was inconsiderate, thinking only about herself and not about the other passengers on the bus.
Janet Ingber Jamaica Estates, New York USA
**31. In both the local bus systems for Portland, Oregon and
Vancouver, Washington, such unscheduled stops are called "courtesy" stops; and courtesies, as we all know,
are not always extended.
Sometimes, from the blind/low-vision bus rider's
viewpoint, such so-called courtesy stops are just
convenient, saving a few steps. Sometimes, though, they
involve personal safety issues, such as avoiding
multiple-island intersections and other places either
difficult or impossible to cross independently.
I think it best to always iron out such nonstandard stop
requests (from the bus driver's viewpoint) at the
beginning of the trip, while there is time for level-of-
necessity explanation, negotiation (giving an uncertain--
indoctrination driver a chance to get on the two-way and
check with superiors), and, if ultimately necessary,
time to plan the next-best desirable stop, if a driver
refuses, well in advance of reaching it, to let a person
out at an unscheduled location.
From the systemic viewpoint, too, it fouls up the
schedule and may create unsafe conditions caused by
inattentive, following-too-closely cars, if drivers just
start stopping, willy-nilly, any old place.
Hey, there really are two sides to this one, not just
the, er, blind side.
Jim Eccles (RPList)
P.S. BUT at the moment it is actually happening, it
makes me mad as heck (this is supposed to be a family
show), when I get refused an essential courtesy stop by
a driver I have not sufficiently trained on my route yet.
**32. When I rode the trolley in VA each they have a cord to pull for a stop. My aunt was with me and pulled it when she saw the place we needed to get off. The bus like contraption stopped, the driver dropped the lift and I rolled off and we went on our way.
**33. I cannot agree with the woman passenger in the Thought Provoker. With her willingness and eagerness to exercise a strident attitude and block the other passengers in doing so, she was an advertisement against us the blind as equal, first-class citizens. People would rather consider us "those poor, pitiable
visually-impaired people," as is still all too often the case; her demeanor of course would instill anger in other people, particularly in the other passengers, who need to disembark from the bus and get to their destinations.
The woman in the provoker also demonstrated poor travel skills. Without relying on the bus driver, she should have been able to find the store from anywhere the bus stopped on the block.
Jeff Frye Overland Park, Kansas USA
**34. We have a lady that is just like her in my town. In fact, I just heard that she did this ďagainĒ on a public bus. It was a bus driver I know that told me, he didnít know her and had heard it from a driver friend of his. The drivers talk to one another and I think soon they may look the other way when she is standing at the stop and pass her by. She is an embarrassment. I will also say, that I have seen her get angry at other people too. I think she has a real problem and should not be representing the blind.
Glen Waine USA
**35. She's wrong, and should have been, pushed out the door, off the bus. He opened the door, at the bus stop. Case closed.
If, she would ask. "Would it be possible, to get off, at a certain spot?"
then maybe. I do it all the time, for one stop, where I can use the traffic light, to cross a busy highway. The stop, is in the middle of the block, a half a block further. Most let me off, and I thank them very much. I tell them, if it is safe, for you to stop. They ask, "Do you want this side, of the street, or the other? I tell them, it doesn't matter, which ever is the safest for you, and thank you. NEVER demand.
Jim Boyer (Blind-X)
**36. I have seen this kind of thing and am of the opinion that these people make the rest of us look bad.
**37. I hope my Federationist roots don't show through here too much, but if you can't handle using the standard bus system and its designated stops, then
you shouldn't be riding the bus. I've rarely seen such a display of
childishness on the part of a person with a disability, and wince anytime I see that sort of thing going on.
In some ways, the Federation is right that people who are blind do need to be conscious of how their behavior reflects on all of us. I have had a few drivers offer to stop the bus at a place which was not a designated stop for me, and I've thanked them for doing so when they make the offer, but I should not expect it. Certainly I should not demand it, even if it would make things much easier for me.
Usually in such situations as going to a place I have not been before, I ask the driver where the stop is in relation to where I wish to go. I
will also often ask where and when to catch the return bus, sometimes for more specific directions of where I need to go when I get off the bus to find the place I'm looking for.
All but the last of these questions are things drivers are used to being
asked by sighted riders, and in most places I've found the drivers are
quite willing to give me exactly the information I need. A few places
such as Indianapolis, Indiana have been exceptions, where the usual reply to most any question was on the order of, "I don't know, I just drive the bus." Of course, such bus systems range from poor to pathetic and if you live in an area with such a bus system you already know you're in trouble on the public busses.
If you cannot get off a bus at the designated stop and follow simple
directions to get to the place you're headed to, then you should be using a Para transit service which operates door to door. That's precisely what they exist for, after all! The rest of us need to realize that what we say and do in the public eye does affect people's perceptions of us. If we are seen to be reasonably independent once we have the information we need to be independent, then they're likely to think better of us in the future.
Conversely, if they see us being whiny, argumentative, childish, and
helpless, then we have furthered foolish stereotypes about the effect of our disability.
It's important to be assertive when we need something, however that does not grant us license to exploit others under the guise of playing dumb or helpless, or worse in an attempt to acquire better than equal rights.
Joseph Carter (ACB-L)
**38. Joseph- "I've rarely seen such a display of childishness on the part of a person with a disability,...". Boy do I wish I was you in that regard. I've seen more disabled people--blind or in a wheelchair--act childish all because they couldn't get their way or because they were lost and confused. Every time I've seen that, though, I take off running far away, knowing that that person's actions can reflect back on me in that the person acting out is as much of a representative of the disabled community as I am. Unfortunately, in cases like that, the childish behavior tends to win out even if I'm standing there saying to myself, "oh my God, I think I'm going to go elsewhere", or I'm telling the person to just chill as I offer to help them but don't seem to be able to get through to them. I have found that, if people see that you've got your head together and act your age (if you're an adult, you act like an adult), then people will go out of their way for you, whether that is dropping you off at an unauthorized stop, charging you less for something that actually costs more, etc., because they see you as a trusting person. On the other hand, if you're always acting totally fruit loops and childish, then people are more
apt to keep their distance and not go out of their way for fear of getting their throats cut. Yes, there are some who will provide that childishly abrasive person a favor only to appease them and with the hopes that that person will keep their *you know what* mouth shut. Of course, that latter kind of person whom they provided a favor for ends up letting everyone know what happened, which always comes back on the person who provided the favor. Thus, their unwillingness to provide another favor for people like that again.
When someone offers to do me a favor--drop me off at an unauthorized stop, walk me to wherever it is I'm going, etc.--I always ask them whether they are sure that that is no problem for them because I don't want to cause an inconvenience for them going out of their way. Even when they say "no", I'm still hesitant on taking up their offer but take it up anyway so as not to be insulting on their generosity.
**39. Personally, I think that the lady was very, very rude. I don't care whether she's blind, sighted, in a wheelchair, or whatever. There was absolutely no excuse for her rude, argumentative behavior. I am totally blind, and I don't expect drivers to drop me off at unauthorized stops, clerks to charge me less for an item than the sale price on the shelf, etc. The world and society are the way they are and all of us have to bend to the rules implemented
regardless of disability, race, creed, or color. The rules and authorized stops are there for a reason. There are some people who will go out of their way to do something they're really not supposed to do because they care or because they feel generous, but that doesn't mean that one has to abuse it with argumentative behavior. Perhaps, the woman had a driver who did drop her off in front of the store all the time in the past, but this driver was not about
to risk his job. Yes, the woman may be right in the fact that a business has to meet customer's needs. However, as the driver mentioned, to drop her off right in front of the store would get him in trouble with his supervisor. When such transportation companies as airlines, trains, and the bus company operate, there
is an insurance liability issue involved; thus, why there are specific authorized stops. Those specific authorized stops are covered by their insurance policy. If a passenger gets hurt at those authorized stops when boarding or getting off, then the transportation company can cover the liability, and
neither the driver or the company is at fault. Dropping her off in front of the store is at an unauthorized stop, so, if she were to have gotten hurt, the company's insurance policy would not be able to cover her or the other passengers on the bus. Also, there's that risk of a lawsuit, and no company or employee of the company wants to get into that. That is why the driver told her that he would get in trouble with his supervisor if he dropped her off in front of the store. Also, allowing one person, such as this lady, to get off leads to more people demanding the same favors, and too many people
getting off at unauthorized stops would get the driver fired. To demand a bus driver to drop them off at unauthorized stops is like demanding the pilot to land in your backyard and drop you off so that you don't have to go through the whole procedure of claiming your baggage at an airport. I have had drivers offer to drop me off at unauthorized stops because they felt that it would be safer or more convenient for me. While I don't like
such an offer even if it may be safer or more convenient for me, I appreciate their offer and let them do it anyway so as not to be an insult to them or their generosity. I don't say anymore about what they did, though, so as to keep their generosity between the driver and I and so as not to jeopardize their job.
As for standing up for our rights, the only time one stands up for their rights is when they feel they are being discriminated against. In the woman's case, she was not being discriminated against. She was provided transportation that she paid for. Sure, she may not have been dropped off at the stop she wanted, but she was pushing the envelope on disability rights.
**40. I am trying to figure out if the woman was talking about the problem many of us have that ride the bus, the one problem is the drivers donít announce the stops and she was trying to make a point that this information was important for a blind person to know because we canít just look around and see the street signs.
Marvin Wells USA)
**41. Well, this one seems pretty wimple to me. Call the bus line ahead of time to ask about getting off at a "Non-Designated" stop. Know your rights and what the company is willing to do for a "Reasonable Accommodation" BEFORE you get on the bus. This Lady was very selfish, making other commuters be
late and getting everyone riled up. The poor driver was in a predicament.
On the other hand, the driver could of let the woman off and then checked with his supervisor about the issue and be ready with the facts next time.
A compassionate heart is worth much. Sometimes...rules get in the way of kindness and serving.
It is all in the attitude. If the lady talked to the bus driver when she
got on...to explain the problem, and not make a scene in front of the whole bus...maybe he would have been more understanding.
My vote is for the bus driver here.
Joyce Cass Pratt
**42. Shame and more shame on her!
She wasn't standing up for her rights, unless it was her right to be rude and give disabilities a bad name (or more of one.)
Blind people should get the mobility training necessary to walk a block from a stop to the destination.
How could blind people be so narrow-minded as to demand rights and refuse to do what's needed to create full independence?
**44. wow that is an interesting thought provoker and I can see what the lady means but the bus driver does have to abide by the rules. she should learn to know the whole block especially where she has to get off at so she will know how far to walk to the store.
kristen Osage, Arkansas USA
**45. A passenger on a bus, handicapped or not, shouldn't make a bus driver do anything dangerous like stopping when a light turns green. This is dangerous for everybody, not just one obstinate person.
Leslie Miller (Blindfam)
**46. There is much about this scenario which is left to the imagination, I find such a scenario is unlikely. Given the details which are constructed to suggest the blind person is going over the line at the expense of a driver merely doing his job I think the conclusion is rather forced.
Demanding things we are not entitled to does nothing for our cause and rarely wins any friends or supporters. There are many things we deserve in the way of civil rights so arguments or debates over some of these things are less than helpful.
Lisa Carmelle (Blind-X)
**47. I had an immediate reaction to this provoker. How dare she put such a bad image on the blind. Mobility and awareness of where we are going is important for sighted and non sighted. Demanding and putting herself out as hopeless and unable paints the picture of total and inability. Not the usual for
the blind people I know. I would suggest if she does not know where she is going to take a taxi cab and get dropped off at the door.
Then work her way back to the bus stop for her return trip . That way the next time she will be oriented. Sighted people are extremely helpful I have found but few people able bodied or disabled respond to temper tantrums like this one.
Lisa McGauley Vancouver B.C.
**48. >> You are supposed to be serving your customer's needs! I wanted off near the store! I'm visually impaired, I need to know where I am and if I need to be dropped off at a place where I know where I am, then that is what I need and you're supposed to do it!" And she stood there, head up, proud of standing up for her rights. >>
Or her wrongs, I suppose?
Lori Stayer Merrick, New York USA
**49. This just made me cry. I feel for that woman 'cause--well, the bus driver doesn't care much about the blind.
**50. If the woman is capable of taking public transportation on her own (as opposed to the adapted services) then she should be capable of getting off and finding her own door. If she can't, she shouldn't travel alone or she should find other ways to get to her destination.
**51. Needs and entitlements are one thing, but wants and expectations are a whole other ball game. I have an idea that vision was merely the excuse for her behavior and attitude. My guess is she's probably a pretty outspoken and demanding person in other areas of her life as well. I imagine some of the responses here will focus on whether she was right or wrong an the impression of visually impaired people she'll project to those around her. While I do think she was way out of line and am glad the bus driver didn't give in to her, the real issues that jumped out at me were her unrealistic
expectations of others and inability to consider perspectives other than her own. Without resolving these, I doubt she'd ever stop trying to use "visually impaired" as a way to get what she wants - especially if (even only intermittently) it works.
Nancy B. Gibson
**53. This is an extreme case and does not reflect what most blind people do during city travel.
For whatever reason, this lady carries a long white cane, but refrains from using the word blind to describe herself, but rather she chooses to use the politically correct term of "visually impaired."
She is ignorant of the fact that she is traveling on city transit and not Para transit by demanding service from door to door.
Her inconsiderate and bullying behavior is doing a disservice to other blind people, since she is making a scene wrongly believing that it is her right to be dropped off at points with no bus stop sign.
She needs to be educated about her blindness, trained in blindness skills, and be taught what constitutes a right verses a privilege.
I'm glad that blind people with such a negative attitude are very few in number.
Nevzat Sioux Falls, South Dakota
**54. I don't know just what to make of this thought-provoker. I'll admit I don't have the best travel skills in the world, but even I would think that bus drivers would only stop at the designated bus stops. I mean, if you want door-to-door service, that's when you either call Para transit (two weeks in advance and then you hope and pray they actually show up), or you call a cab (and hope they show up). I mean, there is such a thing as reasonable accommodation, but there is also something called trying to use one's blindness to get accommodation that goes beyond reason--in other words, to get certain "perks" in life, and I just don't think that's fair to the rest of us, those of us who are fighting for equality rather than "perks." Ok, I'm going to stop now before I go off on some lawyer-esque tangent. LOL
**55. There are designated bus stops for a certain reasons. They mightn't always coincide with where we want to get off or please all of us all of the time. Nonetheless, bus drivers are not allowed to stop and let passengers off at unauthorized stops. It's dangerous and could get the bus driver fired and the bus company sued if the person hurts themselves. I've seen drivers do this though and it irritates and confuses me. If I was the driver on this route
with this pain in the neck woman I'd have told her to sit down and just kept on driving until I reached a set stop.
Patricia Hubschman New York USA
**56. It's bus service, not taxi service, and if the driver could be reprimanded for an unauthorized stop, he was probably right not to stop. A call to the bus company would be in order to determine exactly what flexibility there is for special needs passengers. Driver should also check with supervisor for same reason.
**57. As for the lady demanding to get off the bus at a certain point, sorry, she was in the wrong. If she wanted specific stops, she should have taken a taxi.
I have ridden buses in many cities, over many years and there are good reasons for placement of bus stops. Had that driver let her off at an inappropriate stop, and had she been injured, he very well could have lost his job.
Both parties, however, were at fault. The woman, of course, for being
"entitlement minded" and thinking that the bus driver should cater to her because of her disability, and the bus driver was at fault also for not being firmly official in his refusal. He should have simply said "Ma'am, the line will not permit me to let passengers off at a non designated site. Sit down!" and when she persisted, "Ma'am, interfering with or harassing an operator is in violation of the law. You will sit down or I shall radio the police. Your choice." and then proceeded to the proper stop. By pleading with her, he gave her the impression that if she persisted, he might change
his mind. He behaved in an unprofessional manner.
That said, I will add this: There is always room for negotiation. Drivers
can, and will, let passengers off at nonscheduled stops under certain
circumstances and, if asked, can radio the company for permission, or establish it as a usual thing between a regular driver and passenger. The way to get this to happen, however, is diplomacy. Politeness garners a LOT more than simply demanding something as a right. The ADA does *not* give a
person license to be rude or demanding. Also, if the woman wants a stop at this particular location, she can always ask the bus company what the procedures are for designating a stop. She can then follow the procedures and petition the company or city or business owner for the new stop. She also needs to brush up on her mobility.
Had I been a passenger on that bus, as she was sounding off, I might have reasoned with the driver, taken her to one side and offered to go with her back to the area she needed to be from the regular stop or otherwise tried to help. There are many more ways than one to skin a cat or get off a bus!
Sylvia Stevens USA
**58. Well, let's see, what's wrong with this picture? EVERYTHING! In my opinion this woman is taking advantage of her disability in a bad way. She's using at an excuse, or more of a reason as to why the rules should be bent or even broken to meet her needs. If we as blind people want to make our way in the world just like anyone else, and to change what it means to be blind, then we can't have people doing things like this. If you want people to change their attitudes about being blind, then you have to adapt, not them. We
need to learn how to find our way down the block to the correct store rather than having the bus driver go against his job description to meet our needs. A quick thumbs up to the bus driver for not giving up, and for not automatically feeling sorry for the "poor blind woman." In fact, he was less prejudice about blindness than the woman herself. I think somebody needs to take her to the next NFB meeting, or to go see Dr. Phill, either
one will give her a wake-up call. *smile*
Randi Strope Nebraska, USA
**59. get the girl out of the bus and get the bus moving. She can get her way to the store by asking passers by to help her out. Doing it this way is making no friends and causing trouble for the bus driver. I have had bus drivers drop me off in placed that they were not supposed to stop it. I got them to stop there because I was nice and had been riding the bus for a while and they had gotten to know me. This girl makes me mad because she is giving blind people a bad name and she is been a bad representative of the blindness culture.
**60. This story made my guts twist, even though the sleeping pills I took are kicking in. This "lady" is "standing up" for her wrongs, thereby sending a lousy message about the abilities of blind people. Too often, some among us blind and other folks with disabilities proclaim loudly that we want equal treatment, yet demand an array of special assistance that we can very well do without. Then, many of us, whiners and benny-grabbers or not, wonder why sighted people
are often unsure what to do. Sometimes, bus drivers have told me they'd stop right at the door or other place I wanted to end up at, though it was not a regular stop. I've urged them
not to: I did not want to prompt either demands by other passengers for similar treatment or a general feeling of pity that this poor blind guy couldn't walk maybe a block or two, or cross a street, though this supposedly poor blind guy and his guide dog were ready to rock and roll. Sometimes a driver will do it anyway, and I see my only response as to tell the driver it's not necessary and, in the long run, better if I know how to get where I am from the regular stop. (A fight about it at that point usually seems stupid, more likely to make enemies than to make converts to my view of the matter.) The
short-term hassle of backtracking and probably having some trouble finding the place I want won't repeat itself for long if I go there regularly, and maybe other passengers will see a blind person who knows what he's doing or who's willing to learn.
I admire a Pennsylvania NFB member (or former member) who literally stood his ground (or floor) when a bus driver insisted he take somebody's seat and, as I recall, wouldn't drive until he did. I guess a lot of folks got mad at him for this, but he was doing what any sighted passenger, otherwise physically able, would have been expected to do: stand, and wait for a seat to come open. That was fighting for real rights, not pseudo-rights born of the whine-whine
mentality that notions of our inherent inferiority have hammered into all of us to some degree. He was insisting on his place among equals, battling illogical, life-blighting, dream-smashing coercion. He was demanding, correctly, that the driver and any passengers allied with him toss their falsehoods about blindness out the windows of the bus, or at least, imprison them in the darkest recesses of whatever minds they had.
I once had a fight about where to sit on an airplane. The flight was delayed because I argued about sitting in a bulkhead with my guide dog: in that bulkhead, my dog took up more room that another passenger could use than he would under the seat that would be in front of me if I were not in the bulkhead. My legal rights and the facts that prompted my insistence on them didn't seem to matter for quite a while. When we landed at long last, a woman asserted that my stubbornness had caused her to miss her bus. I simply said I'd been right. (I half wanted to say that if she couldn't figure out that the airline was at fault, I was glad she missed the bus.) That I got a free ticket out of it indicated that the airline knew it had been wrong. (A year later, when I used that ticket, I had a similar fight before I got on, but it didn't delay the flight. The friend I was visiting told me they were going to hassle me on the return flight, but he laid the law down and saved me the trouble.)
My wife and I are both blind. We often ride on crowded subway trains. We like to sit about as well as anybody else on these trains, but we can stand as well as anybody else who, with us, gets on after all the seats have been taken: our eyes may work about as well as dead batteries, but our legs work fine, thank you. Yet, almost every day we head for work during the misnamed "rush hour," one or more people think we need a seat more than they do, and sometimes
get noticeably annoyed if we tell them to keep their seats. They usually don't get the point we try to explain; they call their action "just trying to be polite," not understanding that they were being "polite" to us in particular because of some wrong notion they learned about the needs of blind people. I do not wish to be thought rude or sinfully proud or "so independent" because I do the things the people who call us these things do for themselves as a matter of course and would be insulted if anybody questioned their abilities to do them.
I try to live by democratic notions of equality, of rights and of responsibilities. I believe we should all do what we can for ourselves and get what help we can with the stuff we can't do. Furthermore, I believe that, whenever possible, that help should take the form of tools in our own hands and whatever training we need to use them well. I think Winston Churchill was quoted as saying during World War II, "Give us the tools, and we will do the job." Whether
that's actually what he said or not, I've long thought this was usually the best way to think of rehab, and with or without rehab, the best way for us to take care of ourselves and share fully in what this world has to offer.
With these memories and these notions of living in view, you may have some idea why I feel repelled by this fictitious fool. I take it we're to understand that she is blind only, or at least that she'd have no trouble walking from the designated bus stop to the store she wants--that she has both the physical ability and the know-how to do it. She could almost certainly get directions from a passenger after getting off at the stop, if she needs them. From the story as we have it, this does not seem to be an instance in which dropping her at the door she wants might be a "reasonable accommodation" under any applicable law or regulation. Too often, train and bus drivers and other passengers expect us to cave into their preconceptions, and what may at first have been an offered helping hand becomes the crushing grip of the control freak. In this story, I applaud the driver and the passengers for the moment, but hope they do not use this drama as an excuse to cast the general run of blind people into some other dungeon of stereotypic misjudgment.
Of course, blind people, like sighted people, vary in what we need. I know the time may come when I have trouble standing on a bus or train. I know people who have great trouble walking, so that making that extra stop at the store is eminently reasonable and may even be a moral or legal right. Maybe the
problem is some other disability, or maybe it's worse because of blindness combined with some other disability. We should try to discern rather than assume what's up when we see somebody requesting or even demanding special treatment. If we've got the facts and apply them with careful logic, though, and if
7xthat demand proves to be based on falsehoods and also puts unwarranted burdens on us, it's perfectly in order to call a lie a lie, to assert our own rights.
If we are careful and democratically principled in what we do, make as sure as we can that we're operating on rigorous reasoning and not semi-conscious "buttons," and do what we can to correct any mistakes we make along the way, I think we will in time make both the illogical discriminators and the misguided whiners nearly extinct. We'll probably never rid ourselves of the whiner or the wrongheaded discriminator that waits to blast out of our skulls and wreak
havoc, but we may reduce greatly the role models that inspire hope and energetic malice in our darker sides.
Al Sten-Clanton Boston, Massachusetts
**62. I believe what she did, was inappropriate. What she was demanding of the bus driver, was above and beyond the call of duty and as the supervisor said, could get him fired. Plus if there isn't a sign, then maybe him stopping there could cause an accident. I also have to look at this womanís abilities as a mobile person. If it is only on the opposite corner of the block, it is not difficult to get off and walk back to the store you want. Using our blindness as a crutch or an excuse not to do the same work or live under the same conditions is very bad, and gives us as a group a really bad name. for another
example, what if, in elementary school, the student who used Braille had to work twice as long to do their math problems as opposed to the sighted children. Is it "good' or "fair" to cut his work load in half, so it takes the same amount of time? Not in the long run, as he wouldn't get the same amount of practice.
Another thought. She was going overboard. When the bus stopped, she should have gotten off, dealt with the situation, and gone on her way, and if she really wanted to solve any problems, which I don't see one here, she could think of a more civilized or dignified way of doing it. One of my mottos,
that I live by strongly is, "you have to pick which battles to fight, when to fight them, and how to fight them. This is one battle I wouldn't have fought. After all, are we trying to fit in as productive members of society or are we trying to have the world owe us because we have this disorder? Which
is it? Now there are times where actions and using vision are important. Denial to access by use of a guide dog is definitely one area, I will stand up and fight. But not relocating a bus stop. Course we don't know what kind of block it was. But still I would get off the bus, and walk dignified away and find my way back to the store. One question, if sighted people want to get off the bus, don't they pull that wire thing? And the bus driver stops at the next stop? Could that be what she was trying to do?
Shelley Rhodes Corry, Pennsylvania USA
**63. Who does this woman think she is...Queen of Sheba?! Just because she is vision impaired doesn't mean the world is supposed to bow to her every whim. Besides, the actual stops is just at the other end of the block. Her mobility instructor should've shown her this so she'd be familiar with the entire block. Also, doesn't she have a brain? Can't she extrapolate, based on the driver's explanation, that the store was a short way up the block? Furthermore, what's wrong with asking a person for help getting to the store who will be going the same way she is? I'm sure if she'd asked nicely instead of being a prude, she'd been offered help, even if the driver had to get off the bus and point her in the right direction. If other passengers had seen this, they'd then offer to help if they already hadn't done so.
No person, whether they be blind or normally sighted, is an island and they should obey the rules and regulations set down by the organizations they are using, especially if they are there for the customer's safety. Now, if the driver were asking her to get off in the middle of a dangerous intersection, I'd understand. Those mid street island stops are brutal. Also difficult to traverse are snow piles left at public bus stops during the wintertime. Then, I can understand why she'd want to insist on a different location. Heck, other passengers might come to her aid for their own safety in this instance.
I can't see how this woman was standing up for her rights. Where does it say in the ADA or US Constitution that disabled people are to be allowed to break the rules? The fault, however, isn't entirely on the shoulders of the vision impaired passenger. Two others need to be blamed. And, here's where I'm going to speak from personal experience and perhaps bring down the wrath of some on the list. When I went for rehabilitation training in MN, the NFB wanted me to give up every ounce of the independence, including my marriage and apartment to come live in their sheltered housing so I could be trained in their way of thinking and doing things - don't ask for help; be resolute in your thinking/actions; it is you against the world, etc. - and you can guess the choice I made. I was polite that day and told them I'd like to pursue my other choices. The woman came out and said the only other choice was a classroom setting that would do me no good. Well, that's the choice that did work for me. I learned the needed skills and was encouraged to apply them in my daily living arrangements I'd already established. The woman in this
short story sounds like she came from an NFB training center - you know, the ones who blindfold students and leave them on a corner and tell them to get back to the safety of their center and call it mobility instruction. I nearly panicked when I heard this was how they did things. Talk about reckless endangerment...but I digress. That's a story for another day.
The other parties at fault are those who give into the demands of these self-righteous individuals for fear they will be sued on grounds of the ADA. Mind you, the fact that there's a lot of holes in the ADA doesn't help matters due to varied interpretations, but companies need to have a backbone. We can't be ruled by fear - blind person or commercial industries. It would help, though, if some in the disabled community would stop taking advantage of this fear - whether on a conscious or subconscious level - and respect others around them.
Again, it is not the disabled community at large that does this, but
there's enough fear out there to feed this monster. Rather than feeling the world owes you a living, look at the unique view you have as a disabled person. I have found my special nitch and I cherish it each and every day. We all have our disabilities, some just happen to be of a physical/mental manifestation. Not all of us can be brain surgeons, fire fighters, police officers and other risk-taking professions, but that doesn't make us less human or less contributing than those who are in those careers. We all add our spice to life. Don't spoil the pot with self-righteous attitudes, indignant, and fear.
We have a lot more important issues to deal with, for example, our
President getting the U.S. into a war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein...a reason to band together and be strong, not be at conflict with ourselves. There are those who have it a lot worries than we that we should be fighting for.
Shelley Proulx Brighton, Massachusetts
FROM ME: Shelley makes a reference to the blind folding of a person and making them find their way back to the training center. We have had that discussion in THOUGHT PROVOKER in the past, so I found the answer given to us from a trainer from one of the NFB centers, it follows- ď
ďIn the training of blind and visually impaired travel students, blind folding is one method that is widely used. One part of our training is doing what is called a ďdrop.Ē This is taking someone out and dropping them off at an unknown place and the understanding is you may ask one question for information to get re-oriented. This usually occurs toward the end of the training when the instructor and student feel it is appropriate. In most cases it is a worthy exercise.Ē
**64. Wow. This person really wants to get her wish. When I first read the story, it made me think of some typical stereotypes that sighted people and others have about blind people. I'm not wanting to insult any one here, but people think that just because we're blind we can't travel well. I'm the first to admit that I'm not the best traveler, but I'll get off at the designated bus stop and get directions if I need to. And, the fact that she stood in other passengers' way as they wished to get off was a little ridiculous as well. She's asking to injure herself and others. Serving needs is one thing, but there's a fine line. Like the driver said, if he would do it for her she'd
have to do it for others when it's not fair. I've been through situations like this in many issues having nothing to do with transportation, and they're not fun. I just learn to shrug them off and move on with life. After all, there's really no point on dwelling on them. They're in the past and the past can't be changed.
Stacy Wisconsin USA email:
**65. If the woman, in fact, had a right to be left at that corner, the driver wouldn't get into trouble with his supervisor. I'm not sure here. It's not made clear in the post. Either the driver or the woman is confused as to their rights or obligations. Whether is or isn't the
woman's right to be left at the spot most advantageous to her is a matter of local policy and I can't judge based on the facts as presented here.
Albert Griffith (Blind-X)
**68. I'm sorry, but this lady is totally in the wrong. You can't get on a regular city bus and expect it to be your personal taxi. That is insane! I've never
heard of such a thing happening before. If her mobility skills are not strong enough to find her way to the store she wants from the corner of the block
then she has no business traveling alone.
There were other acceptable alternatives available to her. When the driver told her that he couldn't stop in the middle of the block she could have politely
asked him to tell her how many doorways from the corner her desired store was. Or I'm sure that one of the other passengers getting off would have been
more than happy to give her directions if she'd asked them. Her behavior is outrageous in my opinion. Sorry about the tirade but I feel very strongly
about this particular story. She did NOT have the right to expect door to door service from a city bus.
Wendy McCurley, fort Worth, Texas USA
**69. Oh my what a predicament! Do we have a communication problem here or what! There appears to be more than one issue involved in this scenario.
Yes, we as blind individuals do have the right of passage and the bus
drivers should be made conscious of our particular orientation needs.
But, this does not allow for our needs and rights to interfere with
those of other passengers.
It would be much better to make our needs known to the driver when we board the vehicle, letting it be made known that we need to get off at a specific place.
When I used the bus on a regular basis for work in Nashville Tennessee and in Dallas Texas, I memorized the route and started talking to the driver just before time for my stop. I'd engage the driver in conversation so that he/she wouldn't forget that I needed to get off at a specific spot. Most always, the spot was not a designated bus stop, but the drivers were most always accommodating. At times they even left the bus and walked across the street with me.
We must remember that they have to deal with traffic, belligerent
passengers and may even be having a lousy day, therefore, we need to be considerate while standing up for our needs/rights.
Kindness and consideration go a long way in getting assistance.
Freda Trusty Franklin, Massachusetts USA
**70. I use a special courtesy stop regularly when I take the city bus to school and other places. However, I am also familiar with the street crossing at that particular intersection in case the bus driver is unable or unwilling to drop me off at the courtesy stop. If a driver refuses to drop me off at a courtesy stop, I don't usually argue with him, unless he is just confused or misinformed. It is not my right, I feel, to question the decisions of a person who
has authority and whom I am paying to take me to where I need to go.
Arielle Silverman Scottsdale, Arizona USA
**71. As a sighted person I can understand both sides of this argument, that the woman wanted to be let off the bus at a spot that was convenient for her seems reasonable, and I don't know why it should be a big deal for the driver to let her off, many times buses stop at locations not designated a bus stop, why not be courteous to her and let her off? On the other hand, rules are rules, and the driver can't be blamed for not stopping just for her.
It comes down to common sense, or in this case, common decency. Do the blind and others who are handicapped deserve special treatment? I suppose not, not by law, but what is wrong with helping each other out? We are all in this life together, and I believe a little compassion is necessary for our survival.
I have several handicapped friends, most are blind or near blind, and I refer to people who are not handicapped as normz. It is to suggest that we are not perfect either, and I would like some one in the blind
community to tell me what is the proper way to refer to handicapped people, and it the word normz sounds appropriate for non handicapped
I've learned a lot in this forum, and I've mentioned this before, we
normz face a lot of the same indignities that the blind do, it is just
human nature, but I think the blind must stand up for their rights and
demand fair treatment. Normz need to be educated about the handicapped, we are all one species and we should not be divided.
Bill Heaney Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
**72. Pretty much of what I would contribute here has already been said. Certainly the fact that I am blind does not afford me special privileges such as the bus stopping outside its designated points to meet my needs. I also agree that the response of one person who is blind is not similar to a response of anyone else in society in terms of how it is viewed by the observer. If we get angry or obstinate about rights or treatment, this reaction and perception
will be generalized to all or most blind persons, not just the individual in question.
But let me address some other issues. What about the comment about more training in bus routes? I would suggest what about more training in travel itself.
One of the problems I observe is that so much travel training is done within steps or routes as opposed to teaching problem solving and learning to travel so that the ability and confidence can be generalized to most situations. We train folks in routes , for example and this approach, while having some benefit,
is limited to the particular route or type of route at best. Travel skills and the confidence to travel must be transferable to any situation I find myself in. One of the failings of the traditional travel training approach is that it focuses on short term safety at the potential expense of long term independence and safety in traveling away and apart form the instructor and training environment. I am aware of so many instances where a person who has received hundreds of hours of travel training at a Center either requests or is presumed to need more travel training when they return home. While this may be great for repeat business, this does not say much for the training nor do much for the traveler in the long run. I do not think the person in the scenario participated in what I would call the "discovery" approach to travel. One more thing, travel training and training in general needs to include attitudinal training in terms of responsibility as well as entitlement. I wonder where the traveler got the idea that they not only could use their blindness to stop the bus/ Certainly this may not all fall on the shoulders of the travel instructor, but I wonder about the impact the instructor could have made but did not make in this situation. "Give I'm a route and they'll travel for a day...teach 'em to travel and theyíll travel with confidence".
Ed Kunz Austin, Texas USA
FROM ME: How about this, the person, the travel instructor and indeed the outfit that the instructor works for has a responsibility to not only provide practical training in a skill, but also an attitude and philosophical foundation too? Does it matter, having a philosophical foundation about being blind, being independent, looking for true equality, opportunity and being willing to give equal responsibility?
**73. While I understand that people around this lady or who responded to this thought provoker may have been making judgments about this lady, as Resp.
23 was guarding people against, there still was no excuse for the woman's public behavior and nuisance. Yes, everyone has bad days and gets frustrated with whatever is happening in their life, but it's not fair to take these frustrations and anger out on others. I'm not saying that I am not at fault for having done such, as I have and regret it to the limit, but, as many have pointed out in their responses, we as blind people have to be watchful of how we act and present ourselves to the public. Likewise, sighted people and other people with other kinds of disabilities have to do the same. Lord
knows I have seen blind, sighted and other people with other kinds of disabilities act in the same manner this woman on the bus did. As my husband has told me many times, "you are an ambassador to your own people". This not only refers to being a representative of your own family, but it also applies to being a representative of the culture or subculture you belong to.
Resp. 2 and other responses were addressing fighting for your rights--the right and wrong way to go about it. Resp. 2 was also addressing the fact that there are times when you have to give in for the moment even if it may not feel right to you. When I have an issue with a person, depending on the situation, I might address it with that individual. Of course, with the case of addressing the issue with a driver, I would go about it via other means--calling
the supervisor or corporate office after I have left the business--store, bus, etc.--to file my complaint. Of course, too, when I file a complaint, it's within reason--my rights being violated vs. demanding preferential treatment, such as the lady on the bus was doing. Thus, the right way for her to have dealt with the situation was to just sit down, ride the bus out to the appropriate stop, get off and go to the store to do her business there, and then call the bus company on her cell or home phone to file her complaint about how she felt she was being treated. These are the steps I take before I file the complaint and during. If she felt that the stop at the end of the block was dangerous, then she can speak to the supervisor by phone or in person about it and see what could be resolved on her behalf, if anything could be done. Based on the story, though, it didn't sound like the stop was a dangerous
one, but her addressing the stop to be dangerous is just in the event that the stop was actually unsafe.
Presuming that the stop was not dangerous, though. There was no reason why she could not walk from the stop back to the store. Sure, it may be an inconvenience to back-track, but life is full of inconveniences and we, sighted or blind, have to deal with them as they come. Yes, it is also an inconvenience
if our stop was missed and we had to walk back or ride another bus back. Again, though, everyone has to do that at some time in their life somewhere. So, what makes her any different from anybody else. Sure, she may have had a walking problem, such as a broken foot or arthritis, as Resp. 61 pointed
out can and does happen, to prevent being able to walk far distances than a few feet, but that is where, as many people have pointed out, Para transit or a taxi can be used instead of taking the bus.
Barring the fact that she may have had a walking problem and should have taken Para transit or a taxi, if she didn't know where the stop was in relation to the store, then she could have asked the driver or other passengers to direct her as many responses have pointed out, rather than demand to get off
at the address just because she didn't know where the stop was. No matter what level of mobility training one has, we all need to solicit help at some point, so she would be no different from anybody else, sighted or blind. Even sighted people have to call for directions, ask the bus company what route they would take to get to their destination, and all the other things us blind people have to do before we go some place. Now, with the invention of cell phones, there's definitely no excuse for her not being able to get directions from the place she's going to. Even if she cannot afford a cell phone, it
still goes back to the fact that there are numerous ways she can solicit assistance appropriately.
In short, the nuisance she caused on the bus not only misrepresents us as blind people, but she was posing enough of a danger and risk that she should have been arrested. Not only were other passengers beginning to stand up before the bus arrived at the stop, but the driver's attention was being diverted
from the road and traffic to this lady and other passengers. I cannot rightfully say that the driver was wrong in anyway. Sure, how he may have responded to her may have been feeding the attention she was trying to get, and sure, the driver should have been more clear about the company policy regarding authorized stops vs. unauthorized stops and how that would affect his job to drop her off at an unauthorized stop. However, it sounds to me that the driver was acting as professionally as he could in the predicament he was in. This woman was going on in her tirade and passengers were reacting to it, which all was causing a chain reaction from the front to the back of the bus. Thus, the driver responded as best he could without losing his temper and making the situation
worse than it already was. Perhaps that with all the hullabaloo, he didn't have any time to clearly explain the company policy to the woman. Perhaps, too, he did not want to see her arrested because it would feel bad on his conscience to have a blind person be arrested. I'm not saying, though, that a blind person should not be arrested for such unruly conduct because, if she had been anybody else (someone who was sighted), she would have been arrested
without any attempt of explanation in some cases. If I was the driver, I would have given her an explanation, but if she continued with her tirade, then I would have called for the police to come and get her.
Linda Minnesota USA
**74. Whew! this one sure brought people out of the woodwork! Cooooool! Some random thoughts, (the kind I often have; middle-age moments and such, lol)
The woman was rude in the way she demanded special treatment--strike 1.
She put the driver in a bind since he/she on one hand, probably believed, as she did, that no blind person could travel on their own; however, he/she had a fixed route and many more passengers to transport--strike 2.
She was causing other passengers to miss their transfer points which could cause all kinds of problems for them, including missing a doctor appointment, being late or not making it to class or work--strike 3.
(oh, baseball season is over, bummer!)
When I rode the regular bus, drivers would often almost force me to get off at a certain stop because "that's where the other handicapped people get off"-assuming that all disabled persons go to the same location, and also assuming that I was capable of only taking a prescribed route. One driver used to let me off at a special spot past a scary intersection, though I protested, saying that blind people could handle that. His reason,
however, for letting me off in a more convenient place was that he could see that I was having walking difficulties and he didn't know if I could cross quickly enough to make it okay. This is the one and only bus driver I have *ever* had who could distinguish one disability from another.
On regular bus trips, quite often a sighted traveler would pull the cord or rush up to the front, asking to be let off at an unusual spot and was almost always obliged. however, I never witnessed any rageoholic events such as the one in this story. I know they happen; I've heard tell of them from others, and I have no reason not to believe them.
In the 60-some responses, a great number offered the option of this blind woman using Para transit. Sounds logical enough, perhaps, however, so far, wherever I've lived, blindness has not been a criterion for eligibility for Para transit, not in Omaha, NE, (Go Big Red!) nor here in WA state. I've had to fight to get Para transit and have my drs. exaggerate my condition some to allow me on.
I am, as I write this, being forced to recertify for eligibility for Para transit. They are looking for any way they can to rake through their rider ship to cut down the number of passengers, thus to convince the powers that think they be, to cut Para transit out of existence. Certainly blindness does not qualify me but fibromyalgia and the rest of that painful syndrome does entitle me to it, and still, they argue, because they just see the blindness and say over and over, "you're blind, so you need to take public transit." They don't get it that I am blind plus having the systemic, immunological uproar.
One time, my driver was late and I made a complaint, and when I saw him again, he apologized for my missing my bus and the transfer, but he was late because a wheelchair user, who was known for his ranting, was insisting that the driver wheel him across the street, because it was a busy intersection. He told
that passenger over and over he really shouldn't do this, but he usually gave in to shut the guy up, and therefore he was often late on that particular route.
And one last thing. 57:Poor cat! No skinning of cats allowed! lol. meow!
Lauren Merryfield Washington USA
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**75. I agree with the majority of responses. In my area, if I want to get off the bus at an unauthorized stop, I need to call transit ahead of
time. This would have been much smoother had the woman done that. One cannot expect special privileges on a whim. If she can't use the transit in the way it operates, then she should, indeed call a cab or Para transit. I would make a point to learn the bus route ahead of time, and even allow someone to assist me the first time so that I would know how to get from the designated bus stop to where I needed to go. If I decided that I couldn't learn this, I'd just use a cab or Para transit. I just really hate people when they make a big scene---I am embarrassed for them!
Phyllis Stevens Johnson City, Tennessee USA
**76. We all talk about our rights, but there is considerably less discussion of our responsibilities. People use the term, "rights" for anything they want or think they need. But, in fact, the question of "rights" has no bearing on this scenario. In the United States, rights pertain equally to all citizens. The Declaration of Independence states that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness (as opposed to the guarantee of happiness itself). The Bill of Rights guarantees us the right to free speech, the right to vote, the right to a trial by jury, and many more. The federal and state laws protect our rights to access to education, protection from discrimination, the use of public transportation and public property. These rights are taken away from us only under unusual circumstances, such as the commission of a felony. What this woman is talking about is not a right, but rather a special privilege to which she may be entitled because of her disability. While such entitlements can be useful benefits, they can sometimes get in the way of our rights. Blind people may be entitled to disability benefits, but we have the right to seek gainful employment; if we can find a good-paying job, we would be fools to pass it up just to insist on our entitlement. We may be entitled to special treatment on public transportation and elsewhere. But when the insistence on these entitlements creates a public perception that we are helpless, it may result in our being denied the equal treatment which is everyone's right. As blind people, we have learned much from the American Civil Rights movement, begun by black people in the 1950's. They were demanding only that the obstacles be removed to their exercising their rights as American citizens: in education, employment, public transportation, voting, etc. All minority groups should remember this lesson. While special entitlements must be protected, our rights are often best insured by passing up some entitlements and concentrating on our own competence and independence.
Special entitlements are short-term compensations; our rights last for a
Carolyn Brock Portland, Oregon USA
**77. I have been on the bus many times where sighted people have throw tantrums for many reasons including not wanting to pay the fare. It is fair to say that because she is non sighted that it will reflect on all of us unsighted. Would I have caused a scene,, NO, I attempt at all times to uphold honor among the blind. I have good communication with the driver and know where I stand before I get to my stop. If I am not quite sure where I, for lack of planning,
I ask for directions as the bus is in route. There has been times the driver stops for my convenience and other times not. I have also been dropped off where I have no idea where I am because the driver stopped at a avenue instead of street, 2 miles from I intended location. I use my problem solving skills and it always works out. Usually in that situation I ask a passer byer where I am and get going. Then when I get to my location I am usually kind of
ticked and talk with his or her supervisor and we all know where that goes usually nowhere except the complaint trashcan. Just plan ahead and it will go right about 95 percent of the time and the other 5 percent thatís why they provide mobility instructors.
Dave Wermuth Washington State USA
**78 In Response 71, Bill of Philadelphia inquired whether we the blind should or should not be called handicapped. Bill, as a blind person, I don't mind if someone occasionally terms me as handicapped; however, I would rather not hear it constantly. I have all the traits of a human being, good and bad, give or take a few. You can say the same. That is, literally, hundreds of traits! The inability to see is one of them. It is no big deal. I therefore see myself as a normal person. With all my interests, intellect, height, size, etc., I do not appreciate anyone's calling me disabled. I see the word disability as negative. The Americans with Disabilities Act has caused much damage.
Jeff Frye Overland Park, Kansas USA
**79. In response to the recent THOUGHT PROVOKER:
I think that the visually impaired woman did what was best. She stood up for not only her rights, but for all the rights of the visually impaired and disabled community. Maybe next time, the bus driver will take this woman's actions into consideration when he is asked to make an accommodation for another person. Any of the other passengers who were yelling at the women to either sit down or to get off the bus, obviously, are very ignorant and have no sense or care for the needs of the disabled and should be ignored by the women that was put in that situation. the above people were acting just as ignorant as the driver himself. the woman stood up for her rights and needs and that should be applauded instead of put down.
Sasha Gagarin Westerly, Rhode Island USA
**80. Three points were brought up in this second installment that I'd like to address:
1. We are the ambassador of our people
2. Short Term Training vs. Long Term Mobility
3. The use of cell phones by the blind/vision impaired
1. To represent your people is a huge responsibility. At any time you
may be called upon to do so and, as our parents have taught us, we must always put our best foot forward. After all, it may be happening w/o our knowledge. Let me give an example. I have, on several occasions, been lucky enough to get into a conversation with a visitor from another country on my way to work in Boston. During that conversation, it has been said that the disabled are treated better in other places than here in the U.S. It wouldn't have been mentioned if I hadn't asked our location b/c the stops on the route weren't being announced. The visitor would say something along the lines of me being very lucky I have the positive attitude I do otherwise she couldn't understand how I'd be able to deal with how we as disabled are dealt with as a group. My response would be one of personal appreciation, but also one of information. I
don't feel we should be treated as a group, but rather as individual human beings with individual needs. We are characterized as a group because we all have a common bond, our disability. Then, we get into the subject of "everyone having a disability of sorts". By the time she or I exit, I'd like to think I have made a positive impression on her. It is
my intention to, at least, let her know that although I am disabled, I
am an individual who is a part of an entire group of individuals - just
like a democrat is a part of a political group - just like being female puts me in the feminine side of humanity. Disability is just a negative
factor and is a symptom of the Prejudice Monster who, for all intense
purposes, is still alive and well, just subdued thanks to legal
intervention. We must rise above this fiend and be the well-behaved
individuals we were brought up to be. You never know who is watching...
2. Short Term Training vs. Long Term Mobility - a debate that is
never-ending. I am the victim of both sides. In my childhood, I was given short term training and it forced me to get long term mobility skills training as an adult. I grew up in CT and wasn't given a great deal of assistance here b/c I wasn't expected to be on my own very often. Then, as I became more independent and sought employment and wanted to get around my hometown, my parents, on one hand wanted me to be as self-sufficient as I could, but feared what I might not see as I made my way. Thus, as you might expect, I felt like an elastic band.
When I got married and moved down the street, I was pretty comfortable with my surroundings, but found I relied on the better vision of my husband as I did my parents/friends. When we moved to Minneapolis, I was very reluctant to travel on my own, but was thrust into the situation as neither of us was particularly familiar with the city. That's when I got rehabilitation training. Kelly, my instructor, was a great guy. We started with familiar intersections so I could hone my skills, but then we moved to other areas and I was taught to use those same skills and adapt to the environment I was in. Talk about a tough experience! But, it did turn out for the best as now in Boston, I was able to apply these skills and make my way around the city with minimal difficulty. The one thing that Kelly encouraged, however, that is a good fallback is to open my mouth and ask a passerby if I wasn't sure about a situation. It has
saved me from danger on several occasions. This is what that woman on the bus needed, self-confidence in her own abilities and secondarily, faith that if she needed to ask for help, the help would be willingly given.
Sadly to say, I did need to get some mobility training after I had a
cataract removed in Boston and the training was, well, less than
adequate. The instructor didn't have confidence herself and spent more time during the session trying to un-teach the lessons that Kelly had worked on rather than being flexible and helping me with the newly reacquired sight I'd just gotten back. She also had an intern with her and the intern seemed better at picking up on this problem than she did, but she reprimanded the intern for this recognition. I did one session and took things at my own pace instead of more sessions of chaos. I don't appreciate being pigeon-holed into that group teaching method.
3. Cell Phones - an idea that the average public barely has a handle on - not a good idea at all for the blind/vision impaired. The average
person - in their cars or walking down the street - has the equivalent
eyesight of the blind/vision impaired while they are on their cell phones. How many car accidents take place due to the distraction of a driver on their cell? How many confrontations take place on the street when two pedestrians - one disabled w/ white cane, one w/ a cell phone - bump into each other and the blind person gets the dirty look? It has happened all too often to me. I do not have the confidence that the average blind/vision impaired person has enough commonsense to use their cell phone responsibly - stepping to the side of pedestrian traffic while making their call. The hype of the phone being a convenience that lets life go on is too powerful. That is why I believe it is a bad
idea, but thanks to cell phones, we who cannot use them - due to this
issue and the fact that they are so small we have lack of access to the abundant services that make them so expensive to use in the first place - pay phones are disappearing left & right. We will be forced to
confront those who cause is strife - again why it is important to have a
clear head, not a swelled, self- righteous one. I could get into the
whole voice-mail answering machine issue that is expected to pass as consumer contact w/ companies for complaints, but I will save that for
Before I go, let me summarize a story that just happened recently to me that proves my whole point of the third issue. I was on my way home from work and had to cross a street in order to go down into the subway. In
front of me was a woman who'd come out of the same entrance I had
talking on her cell phone. She didn't even bother to hold the door for
me (which was clear glass by the way) and she kept weaving left and
right in the path in front of me as we walked. I got across the street
all right, but when we got to the entrance of the subway and she'd just weaved left I thought she was going to go by. At the last second, she weaved right and tripped on my cane, dropped her cell phone down the stairs and proceeded to yell at me about watching where I was going. She totally ignored the fact that I was standing there with a white cane that that others confirmed my assertion that she'd been weaving the whole way from the building. An officer came over who'd been directing traffic and took control. He told me I'd done fine and that the woman needed to be more aware of her surroundings. She complained about who was going to replace her damaged phone and the officer basically told her to quit her whining and accept that she was at fault and get over it. She insisted on a report being written up and it basically said that she was at fault. I asked several witnesses to be sure as I didn't want to be discounted just because I was disabled, but all 3 said I was fine. Thus, I signed my copy of the report and was told I could go on my way.
Well, that's it from the Proulx camp. I think I've brought up some
points for other Thought Provokers in the future. *smile* I don't want
to see the disabled have any more distractions than they already have and having a cell phone only increases their chances of incident.
Perhaps we should explore this topic further. I'd like to hear others'
views on it. I am an open individual and, if presented with a good
argument, I just might alter my views.
Ah, to be human...
Shelley Prouls Boston, Massachusetts U.S.A.
** 81. The woman in the story was rude, hostile and thoughtless. Because we are blind, we are not entitled to special treatment, nor should we expect it! A couple of times, bus drivers have asked me where I am going and if they thought it was more convenient to drop me at a particular place, then they did, but I have never asked for such a favor. I live in Orlando. In my opinion, it is many times not a safe city in which to be a pedestrian, no matter how good your travel skills may be. Still, I would not ask for special treatment and if I did and it was refused, I would understand. The hostile attitude of the lady in question only serves to make things more difficult for the rest of us.
**82. I'm grateful that I am a member of Robert Newman's THOUGHT PROVOKER, and
I've learned much from reading what the blind folks deal with on a daily basis, and I am wondering if I could make a small difference by telling my sighted friends about the problems that blind people face. Could you list some of the problems starting with the most serious first?
I have a modest sized mailing list and I would be more than happy to
inform the sighted members about such problems, their feed back, if any, may shed some light on how the sighted view the blind.
Bill Heaney Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
FROM ME: Should I make a THOUGHT PROVOKER that covers this question/request?
**83. Number 80, regarding cell phones, you stated that you thought cell phones were bad for blind persons, yet the examples you gave showed carelessness on the part of some sighted persons, not blind persons. I love having my cell phone. So many times I am where I do not have access to a phone, or it would be very problematic to locate a land phone. My husband and I both have cell phones and since we both have health issues that can suddenly come up, it is helpful for both of us to have them.
Number 82, you asked what were the toughest problems blind people have. For me, the number one biggest problem is doubtfulness and lack of trust in my abilities and seeing me as "blindness personified," rather than a person who is blind, among many other characteristics.
Regarding terms such as handicapped, disabled, etc, the most blatant revelation in our culture/society's not accepting us, or, in some cases, in our not fully accepting ourselves, is that there appears not to be a reasonable, appropriate, positive term for us, even among ourselves. Any terms that even the politically correctness devotees come up with are not any better, really, than the terms already used. I don't like any of them; they don't describe me or my situations at all. But alas, our language doesn't even have a term that benefits us all.
Lauren Merryfield Washington USA
FROM ME: In regards to what we the blind like to be called, as the lady says, its a well debated issue. I do cover it in THOUGHT PROVOKER 35. TERMS, WHAT TO CALL US- Respectfully, philosophically, politically what terminology do we want to be referred to by and why?
**84. I am not sure if I can add anything that hasn't already been said, but I do have some thoughts on this issue. First, when it comes to cell phones, one doesn't have to walk and talk at the same time. What is wrong with stepping aside as one completes a conversation? I did this when I used my cell phone. It was a life saver on more than one occasion. Second, we don't have much in the way of buses in our area. I travel with the assistance of volunteer drivers, walking, family or friends. I wonder sometimes about how it would be to simply get into a car and go wherever whenever one chooses. I NEVER make a volunteer feel guilty if one is not available at a specific time. Since I work in emergency services, I occasionally have to make an unplanned trip. To compensate, my volunteer drivers provide their schedule at the beginning of the week. This makes scheduling transportation more efficient and less frustrating. If I get forgotten by a driver, I get to use my problem solving skills to resolve the issue. The fax machine is a life saver, also.
This woman, in the story, may have other issues than blindness. Certain psychological disorders or PMS spring to mind. She may feel totally ashamed when she is feeling more controlled.
Marcia Beare Martin, Michigan USA
**85. All Iíve got to say is, that lady was a bad example for the Blind!!!! If she was write or wrong on the case of what that bus company would allow, she didnít have to act that way!!! Her scene was a real big embarrassment for all the Blind!!!! We are not that way!!! We better not be seen that way!!! A person like that is troubled and needs counseling!!!
Peter Mount USA
**86. Robert. You sure are a good moderator for Thought Provokers, in allowing diverse points of view to be expressed; for though I obviously do not agree
with some points, they force me to think. In other words, even all the points themselves are genuine thought provokers! That is as it should be in the
blindness community; we should not be prone to single or narrow views; rather, we need to think for ourselves.
It's too bad Oklahoma State defeated the Huskers yesterday, 24 to 21. I am a Nebraska fan.
Well, now that we can shop online at eBay,
local stores, and elsewhere; and now that we can read books and magazines online, perhaps the next thing we'll be able to do with our computers is to participate
in wine tasting at our local wineries.
Jeff Frye Overland Park, Kansas USA
**87. I would like to post my second response here because the situation with which I am faced right now I feel is very pertinent to the discussion of standing
up for one's own rights when blind. I would also like to get help from other TP subscribers if at all possible, with regards to resolving this nagging
issue. At the end of June of this year, my mom and I met with my VR counselor. Actually he now seems to be yet another former VR counselor, and probably
will be my last one. The meeting went surprisingly well for a meeting with one's VR counselor these days. The area supervisor was not in attendance, which
made things run a million times smoother. I did most of the talking. I had previously requested my case closed, since I was getting absolutely nowhere
with my life as it relates to employment. This meeting had been set up to clarify a few things, one of which was the overall goal of receiving VR services.
I had previously understood this for the most part, but it just seemed like nobody was doing anything at all. I also felt rather intimidated by all this.
Some of the attitudes of so-called VR professionals clearly and openly demonstrated that they did not want to assist me in looking for work. This last
counselor was, in fact, the best counselor I ever had. I think my mom and I could tell that by his willingness to think outside the box, and try different
approaches with me. So at the meeting, I told the counselor that I wanted to have my case reopened with him as my counselor. He said I needed to notify
him of this in writing before he could proceed with anything. We also discussed my need for some formal O&M instruction, or at the least an evaluation
to assess my travel skills. The third thing which we discussed was some more IT training, since that is most probably my chosen field. The counselor told
me that in order to be an IT specialist, I have to be trained in more than just screen-reading technology. My mom and I left the meeting feeling like we
were actually going to get somewhere with all this, and I think the counselor left feeling good about what he had done for us. At no point in the meeting
was there any mention of him being transferred to a different office within the VR agency, or leaving the VR agency. However, my mom and I had both attempted
to contact this counselor numerous times with minimal success. As a matter of fact my emails to him kept bouncing back. Having used email now for several
years and being very good at it, I know what it means when a message is bounced back to the sender. I got so frustrated one day a few weeks ago from being
given very poor answers, that I just fired off an email to my mom, not an angry one but an email just to ask her to try and do something about this. So
she emailed me back that afternoon and said that she had called the counselor's former office, and been told he no longer worked there. The person did
not elaborate, she just told my mom that the counselor "no longer works here." Upon further investigation of this, we found out that the counselor had
been transferred to a VR office in another county within our state. My mom then attempted to call one of the downtown Chicago offices of the Bureau of
Blind Services, but those people were basically no help. My mom was basically transferred round in circles, and she had to keep leaving voicemail messages
which were not returned. My mom called me a few days after our original follow-up with the counselor's former office, and she told me she had heard from
someone saying that they were in the process of figuring things out. Then when my mom followed up with this person and actually got through to the person,
we learned that she was our contact person until a permanent replacement could be named for the counselor. This wasn't the first time a situation has happened
like the one which I just described. Yet it seems VR clients who live in city limits, i.e, Chicago Proper, are given priority for these services. Also,
it seems that a lot of VR clients with whom I've talked are satisfied with the services which they receive. There seems to be, from what I can tell, a
serious lack of follow-through in certain situations related to VR. Or maybe it is just related to the geographical location of the offices, I'm not sure.
I'd be very interested in finding out what all is involved in the planning process for state VR agencies. My mom has been unwilling to involve the Client
Assistance Program in any of this. I could be wrong, but I think her reason is that CAP won't be able to resolve the issue. I guess my question at this
point is this. What exactly does CAP do? What kind of questions should we ask them and what else should we expect, if in fact we choose this route? How
much are the services or are they still free? Also, is CAP only for visually impaired people or can other disability groups use the service as well? Any
assistance would be most appreciated. My email address is at the end of this response. Thank you.
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