The Right To Live In The World

Businessman putting a card with text Job offer in the pocket
Businessman putting a card with text Job offer in the pocket

Today I received a notice that I was tagged in a Facebook post from @bettyFord concerning a job posting for the @UniversityArkansas. The job is entitled Access Coordinator. The job description in part says, “The Access Coordinator will facilitate access to the academic programs, services, activities, and facilities of the institution for students with disabilities.”

This job sounds innocuous enough. The university wants someone to help, in various ways, to provide and coordinate services for students with disabilities throughout the university. However, if one reads further in the job description they would find this: “Employee is required to have close visual acuity to perform an activity such as: preparing and analyzing data and figures; transcribing; viewing a computer terminal; extensive reading; and/or visual inspection at distances close to the eyes.”.

This job as advertised is at least disappointing insofar as many blind people are concerned and it is absolutely discriminatory and a direct violation of the #ADA. There are other more ambiguous portions of an description, but if a mandate of the job includes the requirement that the “Employee is required to have close visual acuity to perform an activity such as: preparing and analyzing data and figures;…” then the job description immediately eliminated a portion of America’s population from applying to work at the #UniversityofArkansas. Here is the link to the job: https://www.higheredjobs.com/state/details.cfm?JobCode=177062833&VIPId=0&aID=9425&fbclid=IwAR1bjSpsKWSY2GNq-cUz-xDIpW5NjSfVUZ8saxWEStjzFE6ervs9jxVp0lU#.XU3e9mdFvkU.facebook

What makes this job posting so incredibly off base is that already several blind people have served successfully as officials heading offices of students with disabilities at various colleges and universities. One such person, @BrendaPremo, after serving as the director of, I believe, the Office for Disabled Students at California State University Long beach\ went on to serve as the director of the California State Department of Rehabilitation where she directed a staff of at least hundreds and, I am certain, analyzed data, dealt with diagrams and figures and performed all manner of traditionally sight-oriented tasks. As Brenda and others know eyesight is not the gating factor nor is it required to perform tasks so long as we are truly an inclusive society and so long as we believe in the concept of “reasonable accommodation”.

Many of you have read my accounts and discussions of @Aira @aira.io. Aira is a visual interpretive system that uses an app on a smart phone to connect with an agent who describes to the blind and low vision user whatever the smart phone camera sees. I wonder if a totally blind person using Aira could pass the “close vision” requirement of the University of Arkansas?

Blind people have the same right to live in the world as everyone else. This concept was introduced many years ago by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the founder of the National Federation of the Blind. Dr. tenBroek points out that “the United States constitution declares that all persons born in the United States or naturalized are citizens”. While we have had to enact laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act to reaffirm our rights as citizens no matter our “disability”, the constitution already includes us.

I want to end with this. On Youtube you can find a fascinating video about the life of Dr. tenBroek. I believe everyone who has any interest in the rights of all persons should watch it. The video states more articulately than I Dr. tenBroek’s philosophy and it provides the framework for adopting a truly inclusive attitude toward persons who are blind and who have other so-called disabilities. Here is a link to the video. I will be interested to read your thoughts.  The link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72ni4Il82KU.

Also, go check out #Aira.io to learn about the most revolutionary technology for blind persons that I have ever seen. @Aira is a true game changer.

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