THOUGHT PROVOKER 72
Elements of Success
Last Updated November 03, 2003
To Provoke Thought Is The First Step To Beyond
“Your question is, ‘What is it that makes one blind person succeed over another?’” responded Mr. Markus the director of the training center. ”Let me take you on a whirl wind tour of our training center and introduce you to several individuals. Listen to their stories and we can talk about this again.”
In the kitchen area they met a young woman, sleep shades on, making use of a writing template to hand write out a grocery list. “Oh hi, I’m Sue.” The two men had to lean forward in order to hear her somewhat shy voice. “I’m a computer programmer by trade. I’m here to improve my blindness skills.”
“Your sister is blind too, how is she doing?” asked Mr. Markus.
“Well, I’m one twin that is jealous of her sister. She just levered her status from a programmer into middle management and doubled her salary.”
“Tell them your nick name for her.” said the instructor for the class, all could hear the grin in her voice.
Embarrassed Sue said, “Princess suck up.”
In the shop they met a young man working with a click rule. “I’m Tony. And ah, I think I could use a measuring device like this one in my next job. And ah, yes Mr. Markus, from your employment skills class I’ve learned a lot on how to keep a job.”
“Right Tony. And what was it you were going to work on?”
“Getting there on time, sir.”
“Pete, stop rocking.” said the instructor in the computer class.
“Oh, Sorry. Glad to meet you. I’m Pete.” responded the young man, reaching out to give the guest a limp hand shake. “I plan to get a customer service job. I’m a wiz on the computer.”
Near the travel office they found the instructor working with a new student. “I am Joan.” said the student. “I’ve had fairly usable vision all my life, but lately I’ve gotten into more scrapes than usual so I thought I’d give the long white cane a chance. I have just one reservation, I am concerned about how much more attention that it will bring to me as I travel about.”
In the Braille room they talked to Howard. “This has been a life saver! When I first started going blind I just knew I’d have an emotional breakdown.”
Back in the directors room, Mr. Markus asked, “Well tell me your impressions.”
“Well, I’d start off by saying that bottom line, the blind person has to fit in, to blend with the general society. I would say there are two main elements: One, in regard to blindness itself there are the blindness skills. And, the emotional adjustment issues for those who have lost sight. And the awareness and skill to handle the public’s reaction to blindness. Then second, there are the general interpersonal skills that we all need, like being socially acceptable, being on time, advocating for oneself, etc. Am I close?”
e-mail responses to email@example.com
**1. There is one additional factor that must be included in proper training, and it is perhaps the clearest measure of success. Although it was not a part of Jim Omvig's book, it has been publicly acknowledged by him, and to my knowledge, first postulated by Dr. Joanne Wilson:
The blind person must develop the desire, necessary competence, and confidence to contribute of his or her time, effort, skills, and other resources to the community in general as well as to assist other blind persons to achieve independence and self-sufficiency.
When this element of the person's social character is combined with the others stated by Jim omvig, a complete model of a successful person emerges. If you take blindness out of these objectives, and shape them as general statements, they are the basic principles that are the hallmark of any successful person. In any case, I feel that success has more to do with how the individual feels about him or herself and other people than with how much he or she has, or how others feel about him or her. I also believe that you cannot feel good about yourself, in other words "successful" unless you views everyone else as your equal, and deserving of your respect, even the people that are causing you irritation, or that you simply don't like.
Jeff Altman, Lincoln, Nebraska USA
FROM ME: If this added quality or condition is added to the mix of a measurement to the success, what all would fit into this definition of “contribution?”
**2. Answer to others wondering what Blindisms are. Blindisms are things that people do because, well, they are bored. When you do not have the stimulus of vision to well entertain or keep you engaged, sometimes you find other ways to entertain or stimulate yourself. These are blindisms. Some common kinds are rocking, eye poking, teeth grinding, hair twirling, and in some very bad cases masturbation! Yes even that. They are like twiddling thumbs or picking your nose, or biting finger nails in the sighted public. It is something to do to pass the time, because you aren't being engaged enough with what is going on around you. They are a bad habit, and because of our blindness they are associated with blindness there fore called blindisms. Sometimes have to wonder if they were so bad if say we were sighted. One example, when you see a mother and a baby in a restaurant or on the bus, and the mom is rocking the baby to sleep, the natural thing to do is start to rock slowly yourself. it is natural. Similarly, if you are at a dance and listening to the music, tapping your foot is normal. I think part of the problem with Blindisms is that people associate them because "oh, they are blind, so they don't know any better". But with just another sighted person, it is "Oh, they are bored." and left at that. not sure if this is fair.
And yes have always dealt with the nice blind disabled girl syndrome. smile, especially when dealing with the general public. My mom, would sometimes turn on me, and say, what you said wasn't very nice to him. And I would just smile, and walk away. Frankly sometimes I wish I had a little button on the dogs harness which when pushed would say. Yes it is a guide dog. No
it is not a Irish Setter. yes it is a golden retriever. No I am not telling you his name. And so on and so forth through the usual list of questions. But... yes sometimes it is definitely "look at him, isn't he
such a mean blind person" and I have to wonder. Some days I am just sick and tired of planning, every move I make. and it is true we do plan every move we make. I am tried of working on books weeks in advance so I have the parts I need to read ready for the day the assignment is given to the rest of the class. And there are some days that I just wish the public would just leave me a lone and let me get on with being me. But... that doesn't happen. And I smile, then mutter under my breath, "jerk, why does he think I am a walking encyclopedia." But yes there is definitely something called Nice Disabled Guy Syndrome.
And it is very annoying sometimes.
Just some thoughts. And yes am comfortable in my blindness, just very frustrated about the other people in this world, smile.
Shelley L. Rhodes firstname.lastname@example.org
**3. 3) Blind people need to know when to leave and need to know if what they've entered was or is an abusive atmosphere. I suppose I may write a book entitled "why you don't want Uncle Sam" as a result of my last few years at work. There's legal action that's possible, and then there's publishing. If the atmosphere is just bad, there's no point in doing anything else except leaving as your first step and then take additional actions later. 4) Perseverance. Good organizations support failure so long as lessons are learned by that failure and software development rarely comes in on time and under budget even for the best developers. Less so with CMM in effect since additional documentation requirements now break up development that didn't used to in the past. Software development isn't a good field to study in unless you're from India and plan to live there. The going salary for software developers in India which is getting more and more American jobs is $6,000 a year. 5) Real marketable skills. People exist who have been hired for over 200 jobs in a 3 year time span. Perhaps it's a.d.h.d. or perhaps it's incompetence in everything except salesmanship ability and when the job makes other demands they're gone. If a person has a choice of beginning government service as a business software programmer or a computer scientist go for the computer scientist position and have the needed skills and
certificates be valid. The starting salary is higher. If a person has a choice of studying normal programming or becoming proficient with assembly language programming, take the second option. For the government it means your starting salary just jumped $10,000.00 it otherwise wouldn't have jumped. If a person has the opportunity to become a Certified network engineer, that gets a starting salary higher than the norm too. True
extra credit is extra work at first and later it translates into larger salary once hired if hired into an appropriate position. Skill in real job and extra skill in real job and certainty in both known capability and the willingness to research new and unknown stuff and learn new skills can go a long way.
Jude Dashiell Lexington Park, Maryland USA
**4. Success means different things to different people.
**5. What makes one blind person more successful than another?
I am a 25 year old guy who although not brilliantly smart, I try my hardest. I graduated college with a degree and a double minor completing it in four years. I know that there is a lot of blind people who rely on others or except that they are blind and they don't challenge themselves. They do what teachers and instructors tell them wether good or bad for them. My personal example: it was my last semester of college and I had to take 7 classes plus an internship with an internship class. the head of the disability was going to advice me and sign off on my classes for that semester so I went to her and she told me that I didn't have to graduate in four years, it was
ok, not everyone does. She advised me to take four classes in the spring semester than finish it up in the fall. NOW I know a lot of people, blind or not, would have excepted this and just taken four classes that semester and finishing it up the following semester. When I started college I had two goals for myself, to get a major and a double minor and to do it in four years. I was not going to let this person who of all people should have incur aged me, told me that if I were to do what I wanted she would not sign off on it. What I had told her was my plan, to take a one week winter class than take
5 classes plus the internship in the spring and graduate in four years. I went to the chair person of the sociology department and asked him if he would sign off on my class sheet, he had no problem, said good luck, and I was on my marry way. At the end of the semester and I was on the stage receiving my diploma I had found myself on the dean's list for the third straight semester and I was damn
proud of that. What I was more proud of, was that I had completed my two goals of college. I would have never been able to do that if I listened to the head of the disability office and I will take that same determination and stubbornness through out my life.
Jonathan Massachusetts USA
**6. You're just changing the success factor from looking good to acting
appropriately. Just what is appropriate? Is it OK to wear pierced nose rings at work? What kind of dialect or accent can you have, and how much?
And how far do you have to go to "fit in"? Do you have to convert to
Protestant Christianity? My grandfather thought so. Here's a popular one ... do you have to use a white cane instead of a guide dog because you call less attention to yourself?
Just how polite do you have to be in order to not to be considered
uncivilized? At ARCO, they once gave us all a newsletter saying "please" and "thank you" have no place in the workforce.
OK, I'll go along with it. I'll get farther in this world if I act normal than if I don't. Now let's see you come up with a definition of "normal" that we can all agree on
Abby Vincent email@example.com
*7. To me, what determines success is based on the individual's definition, which doesn't always match the definition that society has or the group of people to which they belong to. A person working in a workshop may feel that he's successful because he personally feels this way or because society or his family has convinced him that the most he's good for is to be a carpenter. On the other hand, many blind people, including I, feel that blind people can do much more than just be a carpenter and can be successful in obtaining and maintaining job levels higher than carpentry. I'm not saying that being a blind carpenter is bad, but such jobs is not what I personally would want to limit myself to. As we grow, develop, and experience the world around us, we aim, through our own initiative or via role models that encourage us, to strive and achieve goals at different stages in our lives. We first learn how to walk, then run, socialize with other people, dress ourselves, care for ourselves and take responsibility, advance our education and training, obtain a job, etc. The different people in the narrative who were interviewed seemed to be at different stages in their lives, focusing on goals important to them at hand and down the road rather than sitting around doing nothing. This is the most important thing in the element of success.
**7. Perhaps life should deal things out more fairly. That is, if sighted people can be rude, anti-social, clumsy, inept, incompetent, crass, arrogant, misguided and painfully shy, why can't blind people? After all, we do seek, how is it phrased, "equality of opportunity?" Well, no, it just doesn't work that way. It's probably just as well. If a point must be proven, let it be that blindness has little or nothing to do with behavior, competence, talent and worth. People who rock away their hours, oblivious of how it affects others, who are late for work, who can't be bothered to look up to acknowledge a greeting - I think it's going to take more than a rehab center to help them. Fair? Blind people shouldn't prove the point of equality by behaving as uncouthly as any sighted counterpart. They should prove the point of independence by being better than any sighted counterpart. It's tough, to many it will seem untenable. It's life.
Kathleen A. Millhoff Guam
**8. This Provoker was very good and provocative, as should be the case. Let's get to Sue, in the kitchen, first. I will be surprised if some respondents do not complain about her wearing sleep shades. Practically everyone in the American Council of the Blind sees sleep shades as annoying, degrading, and
they do not know why. I am one of the very few in the ACB with an opposite point of view: I saw sleep shades work when a student at Services for the Visually Impaired, now the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. For example, though totally blind myself, I used them in travel to keep myself cool when the temperature was over 100 degrees. And they did, too. Now let's get to Pete in the computer room. Yes, he did stop rocking; but he gave the
guest a limp handshake, as I have seen so many blind people do. Now, when shaking hands, I don't crush hands, but I can squeeze hard, as a good handshake should be; so when I give anyone a handshake, as anyone who knows me personally will testify, I squeeze. I would like to not crush, but to give several
of the people on this good handshakes; some of you would probably like to crush both my hands. But seriously, unless Pete learns to give good handshakes, I am convinced he will never make it as a Customer Service Representative. One more thing. Joan was never discouraged from using a guide dog. Not at all.
But she is learning that using the cane is forcing her to travel independently, and to not use a dog as a crutch. Now, she may later decide that she wants to go to a guide-dog school and pursue training; and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It used to be that all guide-dog schools required that prospective students be able to travel with the cane well. Based on the incident in Iowa during 2002 and 2003, I'm afraid most guide-dog schools have greatly liberalized this requirement; and this is most unfortunate for the handlers.
Jeff Frye Overland Park, Kansas USA firstname.lastname@example.org
**9. As I see it, the conversation thus far on this month's Thought Provoker can be summarized as follows.
1. In order to be a success a blind person MUST do the following things.
A. Develop skills that are significantly superior to those expected of a sighted person doing the same job.
B. Work harder than a sighted person would in the same job.
C. Always be flawless in dress, grooming, manners, and demeanor.
Implicit in this formulation is the conclusion that the root cause of the astronomical unemployment rate within the blind community is largely, but not entirely, the fault of blind people who don't measure up to these standards.
2. An alternative view is expressed that, while individuals need to improve themselves where they can, the high unemployment rate in the blind community is largely a reflection of society's unwillingness to accommodate blind members of that society.
At the personal level I lean toward the first point of view. As an unemployed blind person I accept that my best approach in returning to the work force will come through education, hard work, self improvement, and a commitment to high standards of performance and behavior. If a friend came to me for advice I would probably recommend the same approach to him or her.
However, at the community level I lean more toward the second point of view.
Some time ago I brought up this issue in the context of another Thought
Provoker, but I don't think my comments got much attention.
I think we have a reasonable consensus in this forum that for better or
worse there is nothing special about being blind, or not, just as their is nothing special about being female, or not. In other words, if we take a statistically significant sample of blind folks we can expect that, with the exception of their eyesight, they will have a range of physical
characteristics, intelligence, emotional stability, energy, discipline, and
ethics as would be the case in the general population. Thus, while any one
of us may be able to perform far above the average in one or more areas of
life, due to superior physical talents or on account of an unusually strong
moral capacity, it is unreasonable to expect us all to do the same, however useful such universal over-achievement might be.
Consider the example of prohibition. It can be argued that a society of people willing and able to cope with life without resorting to mind altering chemicals would be better off than the society in which we live. The backers of prohibition certainly must have thought so, and I agree with them. However, they failed to realize that social evolution is a slow process, and forcing society to change too quickly has nasty side effects, as we learned during the prohibition era. A public policy that ignores normal human behavior, even though that behavior may be generally regarded as undesirable, is doomed to failure.
The war against drunk driving presents us with a better solution. Instead
of simply trying to get people to stop drinking it focused on accommodating
drinking in a more favorable social context that would minimize its negative
+onsequences by encouraging friends not to let friends drink and drive,
popularizing the designated driver, and arranging free cab rides home for
New Year's Eve celebrants, etc.
When we consider how public policy might be altered to reduce the blind unemployment rate to that comparable to the general population, we must start by realizing that such policies must address the population as a whole. Thus, it must address the conditions of the population as we find it, rather than building it around a set of assumptions that apply to only the top 15 or 20 percent of the population. Many years ago, I took a couple college courses in statistics. At that time I was introduced to the concept of standard deviation. Statisticians will tell you that, if you take a random sample of something, say a room-full of randomly selected adults, and you measure them for a particular characteristic, say height or intelligence, then we can expect that about two thirds of the entire
population will fall within a predictable range of the mean, average, for
that characteristic. If the average height for people in that hypothetical
room is5 feet 4 inches tall then about two thirds of the folks in the room would be fairly close to that average height, and there would be few midgets or giants. Now, suppose what would happen if the architects of that room had ignored that fact. If they designed doors on the false assumption that most people were only three feet high, or they assumed that the chairs were supposed to accommodate a population of seven footers, serious problems
would inevitably follow. Just think what would happen if the lock on the adjacent bathroom door required the operator to have the mechanical skills of an engineer or brain surgeon instead of the capacity of the typical person.
The fact that more than two thirds of the adult blind population are
believed to be unemployed tells me that, for whatever reason, society has
engineered itself in such a way that it cannot accommodate the blind
population as it currently exists. It's not just a matter of either societal prejudice or blind underachievement. This discrepancy between the
norms of a given population and the unreasonable expectations of society is not unique to blind people. I suspect that most of us remember the days when the notion of female mechanics, construction workers, fire fighters, police officers, athletes, and military personnel, was seen as unusual if not downright indecent. This situation has changed radically in the course of our current generation because women have gained the confidence to enter into new areas of work, society has largely accepted the right of women to enter the careers of their choosing, and work has been redesigned to account for differences in the capacities of women and men.
Thus far, our conversation on this topic has addressed those first two areas of change. Just as women couldn't excel at non-traditional jobs until they prepared themselves to take on those roles there has been much work to encourage blind people to challenge themselves to expand their roles in society.
Also, just as society ha been challenged to remove attitudinal barriers excluded women from full integration, we in the blind community have continued to educate the general public about our abilities.
much work remains to be done in these first two areas, we need to do a much better job of restructuring work to accommodate the average blind person as he or she exists today, not just for the perfect blind person. One of the reasons that women were formerly excluded from some jobs was that society assumed that those jobs required physical characteristics that women generally don't have, and the job descriptions were defined in such a way that this stereotype was perpetuated. Most women really couldn't do those jobs as they were defined at the time. As a condition of employment, firemen were required to heft extremely heavy weights and carry them long distances or drag them up several stories in a building. This was regarded as reasonable since firemen had to drag big, heavy ladders, haul long lengths of heavy fire hose, and carry victims out of burning buildings, right? That was just part of the job, and if most women couldn't hack it that was just tough! A funny thing happened when folks shifted their thinking. When they started with the assumption that real women, not just amazons, had the right to do those physical jobs it was realized that, in fact, most of the work involved in those jobs didn't really consist of dragging ladders, hauling hoses, and toting wounded people around most of the time. Even though many women going into firefighting might not be able to do the most physically demanding parts of the job firefighting consisted of more than enough task to accommodate the average woman, and there were
still enough men around to do those few particularly demanding tasks for which they were uniquely suited.
Just as it was shown to be unreasonable to demand that women adhere to male-centric standards as a prerequisite for admittance into male dominated occupations, I believe it is inadequate for blind people simply to "compete with their sighted colleagues on an equal basis." Our society needs to take the same, hard look at how we define work with regard to blind people as we have done with regard to women. We need to look at fields that largely exclude blind people, and we need to go beyond the generalities about blind people not being job ready or employers being prejudiced and consider how employment requirements and job definitions can be modified to correspond with the abilities of the average blind person making the average effort, not just the few over-achievers. We can expect that this restructuring of employment requirements and job descriptions won't happen automatically. In order to bring about this change we will need to employ the same range of legislative, judicial, administrative, and educational measures that have been used successfully by women and other groups. This will be a tough job, but I believe it constitutes the missing piece of the blind employment
puzzle. Of course, this doesn't minimize the continuing need for work in
training blind people for employment and breaking down the social prejudices
that keep us out of the workforce. However, instead of simply working for
"the proper training and opportunity", only two of the three legs of the employment tripod, our battle cry should be "proper training, opportunity,
One final note: Some will accuse me of reinforcing negative stereotypes about the helpless blind person or advocating lowered standards when I call for more job restructuring and accommodation. Don't be fooled by such rhetoric. This tired excuse was used by a couple generations of bigots to block the advancement of women and minorities. There used to be a lot of talk about how standards were being lowered to accommodate "those people", and the profession or trade was being ruined. These many years later, after all was said and done, with reasonable accommodation for able bodied women and minorities buildings are still being built, cops are still catching the bad guys, fires are getting extinguished, and wars are being fought, with the contributions of women and minorities. Now it's our turn!
Frank Welte San Carlos, California
**10. Does anyone know if the program called Kaleidoscope is still on the air? In fact I think it was a whole channel on cable. Nearly all aspects of all handicaps were spotlighted. It was such a fascinating channel. If it isn't on the air now, we need a channel like this back. We can learn so much from them. You could have programs about careers that blind people would be suited for. You could have education covered and you could discuss so many other topics that are important, especially for the person going blind and not knowing where to go. This thought provoker was especially interesting and I hope you all got as much out of it as I did. Thanks.
Leslie Miller USA
**11. In response to the behaviors that are defined as blindisms, while eye poking and rocking may be associated to blind people, some of the other actions--nail-biting, nose-picking, and others mentioned in this last update--I've seen sighted people do as well. I'm sure that there are some sighted people who rock and poke at their eyes, but they're less seen among sighted people than among blind people. Either way, though, these behaviors, I don't exclude as pertaining only to blind people. Sighted people get bored or find lack of stimulus as well even if they can see. Perhaps what they're seeing is not capturing their interest enough to divert the person from such mannerisms. NO matter who's exhibiting such behaviors--blind or sighted--though, they are not appropriate in public, thus are not appealing in public. It's one thing to do those things in your own home when you're by yourself, but it's another when you have
company at your house or you're out in the public eye. In response to the respondent who feels like they're being treated by sighted people as if she's alien despite good manners and grooming, there are just some people who you'll never get through to. Yes, as you said, sighted people fear the unknown, thus, don't want to associate with blind people. Regardless of whether the sighted want to associate with us or not, you can only do so much, and it sounds like you've done as much as you can humanly do. sighted people, themselves, have to want to be associated with blind people. You cannot force them. I'm not saying that feeling defeated doesn't hurt, as it does, but people are going to express their ignorance and fears the way they're going to.
**12. It is interesting that most of these people are using computers for their success. I wonder how blind people made it before computers? I also wonder about the instructor correcting the rocking gentleman in front of everyone. Wouldn't it have been more dignified to correct him privately? So much goes into success. Yes, strong hand shakes, up-to-date job skills and confidence go a tremendous distance, but what about getting the rest of the
way? Treating prospective professionals as professionals is so important. I would never dream of telling a CEO that his shirt is stained in front of everyone. It just seems that people can and do rise to the level of expectations.
Marcia Beare Martin Michigan USA
**13. I can see how it is we as blind people have to put our best foot forward in all situations. We are different and we must try to not be too different. I hate saying we are different, but it is to true because the sighted mostly see us this way. So I think all schools and agencies for the blind need to stress social skills. I wish this were possible in the home when we are growing up, but the parents and their lack of understanding of blindness makes it pot possible.
Andy Klind Texas USA
**14. There is something to this topic of why one blind person makes it in this society and another does not. Sometimes it is clear as to why it has happened and sometimes it is not. I most cases of a blind person looking and acting strange, in a non-social accepted way it can be said that is the reason, but even then though it may be clear to people around the blind person that is the reason, but sometimes the blind person themselves don’t have a clue. In these cases of the blind person being socially unacceptable, they must be told and worked with to help them become more acceptable. However, some tie our best of the best blind are still discriminated against despite all odds. We must all of us strive to fit in. Not to the extent that you are untrue to yourself, but still be aware where it is you live. When people come here to our country, here in the US, we like them to learn our language and those that do get further. If I were to go to Spain, I would learn Spanish. so here or there when living with the sighted population, we must learn to blend in with that culture the best we can.
Marvin Polson USA
**15. Given all of the expensive and extensive engineering done by the blindness industry to aid blind employment, I am forced to reject the view that society has engineered itself in such a way that it cannot accommodate blind employment. There is a huge difference between cannot and will not and my understanding of the situation on the ground is that it's almost
completely will not. I can tell you this as a result of having talked to
other sighted employees who are sympathetic towards productive and well-rewarded blind employment because they know how human resources and upper management react toward blind employee being a possibility. The most we'd ever get might be the first interview and no job offers in the organizations where they work.
Jude Dashiell USA
**16. A response to # 12) << It is interesting that most of these people are using computers for their success. I wonder how blind people made it before computers? >>
Tape recorders, Braille, typewriters and readers.
Lori Stayer Merrick, New York USA
FROM ME: When I went to college I used a slate and stylus to take notes in class, a reader for taking tests and for reading some text books, and read most of my books on reel to reel tapes.
**17. I’m not so sure that even if you get all blind people to look like and act like sighted people or should I mean just like the general population that they will be better accepted. Yes, some of them would, but there will always be some discrimination; this is not an ideal world and really can’t be made into one.
Bob Toolway United Kingdom
**18. This makes sense to me. What sets us apart is a two part problem. First there is our blindness. the sighted do things using their eye and do not. Second, with us being different according to how we function, we can be pushed to being seen as even more different if we do not act “normal.” That does not mean that we need to act sighted. I just mean that we do not hold ourselves apart and we dress as others and we go places like them and we generally act like them. Acting “normal” will go along way to equalizing out the differences.
Sherri Smart Michigan USA
**19. Before Braille, most blind people didn't make it at all. Those that did
went the self-employed route like Jack The Road Builder in England. It
wasn't until typewriters along with Dictaphones and similar equipment
became widely used in the 1890's and beyond that there was much forward
progress either. The talking book act 89-522 got passed by Congress in
the 1930's though Thomas Edison had conceived of talking books on his
invention of the phonograph in the 1890's. A second upsurge in blind
employment that replaced those unemployed as World War II. ended came from
blinded veterans taking positions. They became able to do that because of
the G.I. Bill and their preferences in government employment. The largest
employer in the united states in the 1980's and 1990's was the Department
Of Defense though with R.I.F.'s that's likely to slip some.
Jude Dashiell USA
**21. For What it's worth,
I lost my sight when I was eight years old. And I very quickly learned
that be blind, one had to learn how to survive. That No one was going to
baby you. So I suppose you could say I took up the challenge. Not at first
though, it was too big of a shock to suddenly lose your sight. The endless
sunsets, the beauty of the night sky in the country. And the smile of a pretty
girl. But instead lamenting the loss of all those things, I was please
that I had the opportunity to see them. And that became the motto for my life.
I lost my sight but I gained an invaluable insight into people, and their
reactions to certain situations. For instance my brothers and sisters
when I was close to the edge of a porch, would push me off. But I knew how
to take that, and how to get even. And I did that by making them need me.
They still do, in fact. I went to a School for the Blind for six years.
Then I met a girl in New Orleans just before my junior year, and that was
the end of the blind School. I entered a catholic high school in New Orleans.
I was the only blind kid to ever attend that school. I had Nuns for teachers
and Jewish ladies for readers, and I was a protestant. That prompted my
high school principal to say we had established the first ecumenical movement
in the country. I dated a lot in high school, all girls that could see
perfectly. And I had fun. I attended L.S.U. and got a degree in English and a
minor in history. I made friends there that are still friends today.
And I dated a lot in college too. I made a lot of friends.
And the point to all this, I was confident in myself and my abilities, and
I liked most people. And I was paid in kind. I always had guys in my dorm
room. and I was always asked to go to places with them. I forgot that I
was really blind and they forgot that too. After graduation,
I got a job with the First Baptist Church in New Orleans. That was a lot of
fun. but it didn't pay much, money but was somewhat excused for that
because of all the feminine company. So I went to a School in Pittsburgh to
learn data processing. And I met a guy there a lot like the guy in the Thought
provoker. We were total opposites but we got along fine.
But I made friends and had girl friends and he didn't.
I came out first in that class. And went back to new Orleans and quickly found
a job with a bank there. I moved up to a team supervisor, and in a hospital,
I met the girl that I thought I could wake up beside, and be happy with the rest
of my life. She was beautiful, she had a good job, and she had a car.
And again, I was lucky because she agreed to marry me. and we are still married.
And she gave me four strong and successful sons. They don't have any patience
with their dad's handicap either, but they often comes to me for advice.
A friend from College gave my name to an E.D.S. recruiter, and they moved
us to Dallas. I left there after four years and went to work for another bank.
Then worked for blue cross, Blue Shield, and another data processing company.
I got interested in radio and hosted a program on NTRB, a radio station for
the blind. Talking about job opportunities. Then I went to work for WFAA
as a talk show host. Went into sales and was the top salesman for the
whole southwest region. And I didn't do anything that other people blind or
sighted couldn't have done. Blindness was never the upper most thought in
my mind. I forgot about it much of the time. And when I forgot about being
blind other people forgot it too. I can truthfully say, I turned down more
jobs than I accepted. My wife still points out things to me.
my sons are always asking me to look at something. I am always asked did
I see the movie, or did I Watch a certain TV show.
If one has confidence in his own ability, forgets blindness, and likes people
good things happen. Like jobs, the girl of your choice, and the ability to
tackle different situations. And one of my crowning achievements
was that I built my own house, that is now valued at 265 thousand dollars.
I was the general contractor, not the carpenter. I also built the buildings
that housed our businesses. I have had a happy and rewarding
life and I don't think blindness had much to do with it. That is how one
blind man handled his handicap. It simply wasn't a handicap.
I think when one can get a job on his own, enjoy the company of a lovely lady,
and enjoy the taste of a good steak dinner, he is rich beyond all measure.
And Thank God, I have been rich most of my life.
Dave Johnson, McKinney, Texas 75071 email
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