Episode 2 – Moving from Diversity to Inclusion
Every day we read and talk about Diversity. We hear how our population is diverse and how we must work to understand and accept our diversity. As we discuss our diverse population, we consistently leave out persons with disabilities. We talk about different racial and ethnic groups, people with a variety of different sexual orientations and we discuss the need for equality of women. However, persons with disabilities are left out of the conversation. In this podcast, Mike Hingson, a thought leader on the inclusion of people with disabilities, takes up the topic of inclusion. You will discover just how often the rights of persons with disabilities are subverted throughout society.
Some directories do not show full show notes. For the complete transcription please visit: https://michaelhingson.com/podcast
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast we’re inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:19
Welcome to Episode Two of unstoppable mindset. Thanks for joining us. I hope that you were able to listen to last week’s episode. And if you weren’t, please go to www.michaelhingson.com/podcast where you can listen to that episode as well as just signing up for information about any of the podcast shows that we will be providing and all things podcast for unstoppable mindset. Today we’re going to talk about the concept of moving from diversity to inclusion. So why do I talk about that? Why do I bring that particular title into it? Well, it is the title of a speech that I gave in 2019. And you will be hearing that speech in just a few moments. But if you think back to last year’s presidential campaigns, if you look at the news today, and the discussions about various groups who are being disenfranchised, in one way or another, you hear about all this diversity in all these diverse groups, but you don’t hear about disabilities, we who are blind, who happened to be in wheelchairs, who happened to have any other so called disability are not generally included in those topics of discussion. And there’s no reason for that, except people still fear disability. I don’t like the term disability By the way, but I haven’t come up with something better, differently abled, and other kinds of things like that are just hiding the reality. And I’m not differently abled, I’m just as able in the same way as everyone else. I may not do tasks the same way. But I’m not differently abled, I have what society tends to call a disability. And until someone comes up with a term that doesn’t strike hearts, or I shouldn’t say doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of people, then I’m going to accept and use the term disability. And I’m going to use that term to try to get the fear out of being stricken into the hearts of people. The reality is, just because I happen to be different in the way that I have some sort of so called disability, that doesn’t really matter. I still can do the same things that most people do. I don’t do them the same way. But we don’t talk about that we’re afraid of it.
Michael Hingson 03:49
Our president, our Vice President, don’t talk about disabilities regularly. We see so much of a discussion about other kinds of minority groups. But we’re not included. And we should change that. I was at a conference this week where we talked about accessibility and disability. So it was all about dealing with the whole concept of accessibility, about websites about universal design, about how artificial intelligence is helping to create better access, so many different topics, all about disabilities. And no one was afraid to talk about it. They’re one of the speakers was actually from the administration. And and he talked a little bit about the fact that we need to have more of a conversation about disabilities and everything that we do. And when it came time for questions and answers, I asked him what the administration was going to do about that, and how the administration was going to step up the level of conversation. Well, the answer really was kind of innocuous, and he didn’t really Make any commitments as to how the administration would be able to do it. And that’s so very frustrating because my response to that would be, why isn’t President Biden or vice president Harris or anyone else, just including disabilities in the conversations, when they talk about some of the different disenfranchised groups, we hear a lot about what’s happening with race, we hear about LG, bt Q, and so on, but we don’t hear about disabilities, why it’s easy to include us in the conversation. It’s easy to raise the level of awareness or at least start to raise the level of awareness by putting us in the conversations and including us regularly, Then, and only then, when we start to see some people like our president and vice president, Attorney General and others, normally, including us in the conversation, then and only then are we going to really see a change in how we’re included. Well, enough about that. Let me let you listen to the speech and then we’ll come back and again, the title of the speech, as you will hear is moving from diversity to inclusion.
Okay, we’re going to go ahead and get started. Thank you all for coming today. We do have a little housekeeping to do first, I know they’re not here, but I would like to apologize to the other presenters during this hour for having to be pitted up against our speaker today. I would like to introduce to you a scholar, comedian, a gentleman. And I don’t have all the facts, but I hear he’s blind. When are you introducing Michael Hingson?
Michael Hingson 06:52
Well, with all those things, he said, I was wondering when he was going to introduce me and said but Okay, so I want to welcome you to our class on quantum mechanics this afternoon. Today we are going to discuss the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and its impact on the relative behavior of cats in the 21st century. I’m really honored that all of you came and we’ll try to make this interesting for you. I want to start with a video. Some of you may have seen this before. But let’s start with it. And then we will get into our discussion. And it will be a discussion of moving from diversity to inclusion. So here’s a video for you to watch.
Video Narrator 07:36
There’s trouble brewing at smart world coffee in Morristown, New Jersey. These two women are trying to apply for a job opening in the kitchen.
Coffee Shop Owner 07:46
Are you here for coffee, or
Applicant #1 07:48
no, Job application?
Video Narrator 07:50
Only to find out it’s not open to everyone.
Coffee Shop Owner 07:54
I noticed you were signing.
Applicant #1 07:55
Yeah. That’s right. We’re deaf.
Video Narrator 07:59
And because of that the manager rejects the application.
Video Narrator 08:07
what he’s doing isn’t just unfair, it could be illegal.
Coffee Shop Owner 08:12
I’m not gonna hire a deaf person. I’ll just let you know now. So we’ll save you some time. I mean, your deaf. It’s gonna be really hard here to work here.
Video Narrator 08:21
It’s the kind of thing that usually happens in secret behind closed doors. But we’re putting this discrimination setters stage right out in the open. To answer the question, what would you do?
Video Narrator 08:36
The bias barista, and the deaf applicants are all actors. Hannah Warrick and Maya erielle. Attend the National Technical Institute for the death in Rochester, New York. With more than 1500 students. It’s the second largest college for the deaf and hard of hearing in the country. The school helped us develop this idea for the scenario. Students there say finding equal opportunity in the workplace is a big challenge.
Hannah Warrick 09:06
Let me count on my really fantastic Botha to have a really keen understanding of what it means to be a deaf person how to work with deaf people, but at the same time, there are others who should not want to thin or open themselves up to that.
Maya Arielle 09:24
It would be nice for them to think about what what is it like to be a deaf person? I mean, how would they like to go into a place and want to apply for a job and then be discriminated against just because of who you are.
Video Narrator 09:35
Jerry Buckley is the president of MTI D.
Jerry Buckley 09:40
When the President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, many of us hope that would be the last barrier. What we found out though is that attitude, no barriers were still there, that we have much work to do to educate people.
Video Narrator 09:57
Back at the coffee shop, our cold hearted Manager is busy building his own barriers.
Coffee Shop Owner 10:03
I know I fill out the application, but I’m going to be honest with you, I’m probably not going to hire you.
Video Narrator 10:11
Remember, it’s not a question of communicating with customers. This is a kitchen job.
Coffee Shop Owner 10:18
Sure you want to work here?
Applicant #1 10:19
Yeah, it’s a kitchen job. Right,
Coffee Shop Owner 10:21
right. Can you hear me?
Applicant #1 10:24
I can’t really hear. But I read lips.
You read lips?
Applicant #1 10:27
Video Narrator 10:28
it’s easy to read the look on Kristen gobies face as she watches and growing disbelief.
Coffee Shop Owner 10:34
I just don’t think this is the right place. Like if I yell something to the kitchen. You can’t hear me.
Video Narrator 10:42
But the manager ignores all those daggers. Christian shoots his way,
Applicant #1 10:47
so I shouldn’t even bother with this.
Coffee Shop Owner 10:49
I’m not saying that. I’m just saying I’m not gonna hire you. I can fill it out now. Sorry. Sorry. Is this yours? Ma’am?
Video Narrator 10:57
Coffee isn’t the only thing steaming as Christians storms out. The manager played by both male and female actors continues serving up the discrimination.
Shop Owner #2 11:08
We can’t hire you.
Video Narrator 11:10
Many customers are right next to the action.
Coffee Shop Owner 11:13
Yeah. But if you can’t hear me, how are we going to communicate?
Applicant #1 11:16
You can write stuff down, like make a list there.
Coffee Shop Owner 11:18
But what if I need something done right away.
Video Narrator 11:20
But most don’t openly object. A few do stand up to the discriminating manager. But the most surprising reactions come from three customers with something in common. They work in recruiting and human resources,
HR Patron 11:46
human resources, let me give you a piece of advice.
Coffee Shop Owner 11:48
HR Patron 11:48
I probably wouldn’t have done that.
HR Patron #2 11:50
you cannot say that.
Coffee Shop Owner 11:52
I want to be honest with
HR Patron #2 11:53
you can’t say that. And we can’t handle it like that you can come after you can’t discriminate.
Coffee Shop Owner 12:00
If only they had stopped right there, these hiring and firing experts would have been heroes, but they didn’t listen to the rest of our hidden camera recording. And you’ll see why we’re not showing you their faces.
I probably wouldn’t have done that. Only because because when you think about it, everybody has rights.
Coffee Shop Owner 12:23
So let her fill it out.
I just probably would have let her fill it out in your writing note on the back and say not a fit.
Video Narrator 12:31
That’s right, the outrageous advice from human resources. write a note on the back of the application that the deaf girl is not a fit. Now listen carefully to this recruiter,
HR Patron #2 12:43
I mean recruiting you can handle it like that you can come after you can’t discriminate, just accept it and don’t call handicapped people they have no rights and anybody that you have to just accept your application. Just don’t call.
Video Narrator 12:59
Just don’t call as they continue talking to the managers. Some might wonder if it’s discrimination these employment experts disapprove of, or only open discrimination.
Coffee Shop Owner 13:17
So it’s not a problem to not hire her because she’s deaf is just saying it out loud to her.
Video Narrator 13:26
He did tell the manager that the owner might want to try out the deaf applicant. Still, in the end, it’s not a recruiter or someone from human resources. Who takes the strongest stand of all, it’s a guy just taking a coffee break. A man who’s heard enough,
Coffee Shop Owner 13:44
because you can fill out the application. Feel free to fill it out. I can’t stop you from doing that. But I’m just trying to be honest with you.
Coffee Shop Patron 13:51
That’s absolutely discriminatory.
Coffee Shop Owner 13:53
If she can’t hear me, though, she’s
Coffee Shop Patron 13:55
really shocked. And if this is the case, I’m not bringing my business back here. I’m telling you,
Coffee Shop Owner 14:00
I, I understand
Coffee Shop Patron 14:02
You basically said I am not hiring a deaf person. You’re not saying I’m not hiring a person that’s not qualified.
Coffee Shop Owner 14:08
I’m just trying to be honest with you.
Coffee Shop Patron 14:10
I can appreciate that, sir. But I don’t see how you expect things to change in the country, when no one will give anybody a chance. It’s an affront, it’s an affront to America, or you
Coffee Shop Owner 14:21
can’t she can’t hear.
Coffee Shop Patron 14:22
Video Narrator 14:23
Hannah and Maya catch up with him outside.
Maya Arielle 14:27
I really felt so great when you jumped in and tried to help. Thank you so much just for your willingness to do that.
Video Narrator 14:38
You wanted to hug him?
Maya Arielle 14:39
Video Narrator 14:40
What message do you have for people who didn’t say anything?
Maya Arielle 14:44
What I would say to those people, is that if you feel that you want to say something, please say something
Video Narrator 14:51
that would be giving you a voice.
Maya Arielle 14:55
Absolutely. That’s right.
Video Narrator 15:00
And so as they continue their struggle for equality at work, this reminder to all of us in American Sign Language from students at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, what would you do?
Michael Hingson 15:17
And there you go. I deliberately call this presentation moving from diversity to inclusion, because as I mentioned this morning, diversity tends not to include anybody with disabilities, it doesn’t happen. Over the past year and a half or two years, we have seen any number of situations where there has been discussions of discrimination against women against different races, and so on. And all of that is appropriate to discuss, and all of those battles are absolutely appropriate to fight. But what we never see in all of those discussions, is how anyone with a disability is included in those same battles. If you watch the television show in the dark, which is a new show that I think wb is putting out, it’s not a blind person playing the, the woman in the show, it’s a sighted person, all they have a blind consultant, but they couldn’t find any blind people they say, who could be an actor in the show. I know that, for example, they did not consult with the major consumer organizations of blind people. I have had conversations with people in the movie industry about blind people acting in films. And the comment that is made is well, but the problem is that they’re not necessarily qualified to do it. And my question, when I hear that is why have you, for example, tried to find someone, have you included blind people and I’m going to talk about blindness specifically, although it could apply to other disabilities, but I think there is more of a track record of by blind people being excluded in the movie industry. Then in other persons with disabilities. There are people in wheelchairs who have played all in films and so on, although a number of those parts have been played by people not in wheelchairs, they play people wheelchair, quote, bound people. One of the ones I think of most is Raymond bird playing and Ironside’s years and years ago, and others and sometimes it happens with deaf people. There is a deaf actress that I know of, and I’m sure there’s well there are more than one but Marlee Matlin is, is certainly death, but you don’t hear about blind people being included. And the reality is, it won’t change until society recognizes that the disability isn’t the problem. It’s their attitudes. I want to read to you something and again, this is from Dr. Tim brick I mentioned earlier and it is something that is about blind people. This is from an address given by Dr. Tim brick, are we equal to the challenge, and it was delivered at the 1967 convention of the National Federation of the Blind one year before he died of cancer. And Dr. Tim Brooks says, the blind have a right to live in the world. What a concept, the right to live in the world. That right is as deep as human nature as pervasive as the need for social existence, as ubiquitous as the human race, as invincible as the human spirit. As their souls are their own. So their destiny must be their own. their salvation or failure lies within their own choice and responsibility. That choice cannot be precluded, or pre judged. Those lives cannot be pre determined or controlled.
Michael Hingson 19:36
And Dr. Tambora made those comments to talk about the fact that we have the same as blind people or any person with a disability, the same right to live in the world as anyone else. And that was what those three HR people I told some of the HR people outside I was gonna probably be in Trouble, sorry. But that is what those HR people were challenging and what they were really saying, they don’t truly believe we have the same right to live in the world. They were saying ultimately, that we don’t really have equal status with everyone else. If they truly believed that we did, they would never have given the advice that they did to the actor barista. And that is what inclusion is all about. Diversity has already moved on and not included us. So it is time that we really talk about the concept of inclusion. And as I said to all of you this morning, you are on the front lines, because you are in schools, teaching children, teaching other adults, and hopefully taking this stand to say, we truly believe in inclusion. And it is true that not everyone has the same capabilities as everyone else. But if we’re going to talk about developmental disabilities, for example, let’s talk about every politician in Washington somehow they take dumb pills, I’m not sure what it is. But when they go to Washington, they do something to dumb down. That has to be the case. But the bottom line is that we have to demand higher criteria and higher expectations. For every person with a disability, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every person with a disability is going to be able to do every single job. Just like every sighted person or every so called person with it and who is not one with a disability can do every job. Most people wouldn’t even have the first clue about what Schrodinger equation and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle are all about. I do. But I got that training.
Michael Hingson 22:01
Many people don’t have the courage to step out of of their own comfort zone in their own environment. When I lived in New Jersey, I knew people who live within 10 miles of New York City, who were adults, and had never ever been to the city and never wanted to go because they didn’t want to be in that environment. They were afraid to go. My wife on the other hand, growing up in California, being in a wheelchair driving all over the place one day had to drive me into New York. It wasn’t her first time. But it was one of the first times that she drove us into the city. We came through the tunnel and came out at 40 a street turn left to go north. And I said you realize that we have to turn on 41st Street. And she slammed on the brakes, turned all the way across five lanes of traffic and made it right onto 41st Street and is very proud of the fact that she did it with a single person honking their horn at her. She arrived with a far as a driver. My wife had the courage and has the courage to take those steps. My wife was very much involved in as I was the International Year of the disabled year many many years ago in terms of helping to celebrate it, helping to assist people and celebrating and, and so on. We both in various ways we’re involved in a variety of efforts to deal with various issues regarding persons with disabilities. And not everyone can do that. I’ve spent time in Washington debating with congressional types, and others about issues concerning persons with disabilities. One of the more recent issues regards the fact that under the Fair Labor Standards Act in this country today, section 14 C, which created sheltered workshops, says that you can pay a person with a disability if you can prove that they can’t work as competitively as anyone else, you can pay them less than minimum wage. When that act was formed in 1938. The rule was you could pay no more no less than 75% of minimum wage because workshops were set up to be training institutions. All over the years since 1938. Workshops organized themselves loosely together and got the law changed originally so that the floor dropped from 75% to 50%. Then it went down lower to the point where today, the floor is at zero. And there are people who have disabilities including some blind people who get zero. And they work at the sheltered workshops. I know of college graduates who are blind who couldn’t find a job and their departments of rehabilitation, put them into sheltered workshops, where they’re getting paid to $2.50 $3 an hour to do the work that other people get paid much higher salaries outside of the workshop environment and Of course, the workshop owners say but, you know, we don’t want them to lose their SSI. These workshop people are the same ones who created their workshops as 501 c three nonprofit organizations and solicit donations to help fund the workshops. They get special subsidized contracts under the the federal government programs, including what is allowed under Section 14 C, and they have developed ways to make sure that their workers can’t possibly do the job so that they can get the exemptions to pay people less than minimum wage. And they get guaranteed contracts, they have ways of triple dipping these owners or managers of these workshops to get six and seven figures, while their employees may get 20 cents an hour. It happens today. It happens because people with disabilities are not included in society. And and it are not viewed as having the same rights as everyone else. It won’t change until all of us take a stand and say, yes, it doesn’t matter whether someone has a so called disability. I don’t like the term disability. But you know what, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a word. And it doesn’t necessarily mean in competence or a lack of capability. It is just one way that people describe a subset of society, just like people who are left handed are called left handed and it describes a certain segment of society. And in the past, there were times that people who were left handed were viewed as less competent, or certainly had problems that normal people in society don’t have.
Michael Hingson 26:46
The fact is that we collectively have to make that change. And I’m challenging you and putting the pressure on you to say you are part of what that change has to be. Jimmy Carter, former President Carter once said, We must adjust to changing times while holding to unwavering principles. And if the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution mean anything, then those principles must include all persons. All of us have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And as the Declaration of Independence says, I’m not trying to be sexist, all men are created equal. But we really know that that means all persons are created equal in today’s society. We have to change it. And it won’t change unless we take some stands and make those changes occur. I know it’s a tough job. I told you all this morning about my parents who took some stands regarding me and being blind. But I also there are a lot of parents who won’t do that. I don’t dare let my child go out on their own. They’re blind. After all, how could they ride a bike, I rode a bike when I was growing up. I wrote it all over the neighborhood. Let me tell you a story about riding my bike one day. So there I was out riding my 20 inch bike I was seven years old right now all around the neighborhood having a good old time, right? going anywhere I wanted to go going up Stan Ridge Avenue, going over to Third Street East going, going west to Glen Raven, and two Second Street and all that riding all over the place. In many days, I would ride my bike to school to yukka school, but I was in the first second and third grade. Well, second third grade because I didn’t have my bike when I was in the first grade, but riding my bike to school along with my brother riding his bike, and we had a good time doing that while I was out riding my bike one day. And I came home after being out for a couple hours having fun and just doing what I did. And as I walked in the door after putting the bike in the garage, the phone rang. My father picked up the phone. By the way, if you bought Thunder dog, you’ll see this story in there. It’s still one of my favorite stories. My father picked up the phone said hello. And here’s the way the conversation when I picked up from his side and what he told me later. So he answers again and he says hello. And this guy says I’m calling about your kid riding his bike out on the street. And my dad said, Okay, what about it was out riding his bike? And my dad said, Well, yeah, all the time. What’s the problem? No, no, I’m not talking about the older kid. The one that can see I’m talking about the blind kid. He was out riding his bike. And my dad said, Well, yeah, what about it? Well, but he’s blind. Yeah, he’s out riding his bike. Yeah. What about it? bass blind? My dad said, Did he hit anyone? Well, no. Did anyone hit him? No. Did he? Did he pass cars? Or did cars come down the street? And did he have any problems with any of them? Well, no. Did he hit any Park cars? No. Did he get hurt in any way? Well, no. Well, then what’s the problem? The guy hung up. He could not deal With the fact that there was a blind child riding a bike out on his Street, I was in 1957. Let’s fast forward to 2000 well to 1997. My wife and I moved to New Jersey. And we joined the Cranford United Methodist Church. And we went to the first yearly meeting of the church with the essentially the meeting of the corporation. And during the meeting, they talked about one thing and another. And they finally got to the fact that they were very interested in making accessible restrooms available at the church. Right now. They had a very steep ramp, it had a slope of probably about 45 degrees. So it was certainly not something that was truly accessible, you had to fold it down, and then go down the three steps on this ramp to get to the fellowship hall unless you walked all the way around, outside and in which didn’t work well and snow. And there really wasn’t an accessible restroom down there, there was something that kind of served as one but there wasn’t. And they were very concerned about wanting to make accessibility possible in the church. And they were proud of the fact that in the last 10 years, they had raised $10,000, toward making accessibility possible 10 years to get $10,000, which wouldn’t even be enough to probably get functioning legitimate, approved architectural drawings. However, they were very excited about that. And my wife spoke up and said, What are you guys doing?
Michael Hingson 31:38
Well, we want accessibility. We want accessible restrooms, not with $10,000. You know, what are you going to do about that? Well, we’re working on it. And my wife said, Look, you guys, we need to get true accessibility in the church. Let’s start a fundraising campaign. Well, they wanted to put her in charge of it, of course, churches, and everybody always wants to do that. So they, they discussed it one side up and down the other and so on, and my wife agreed that she would be part of it, but only if some of the other leadership in the church would be involved. Within three months, they raised over $100,000 in pledges, and they actually started getting the money in and they began work on the accessible process. It included making elevators that would go from the congregational. Well, from the main church, the synagogue, that not synagogue, but from the main church down to fellowship hall where they wanted to put the accessible restrooms, and they started, the first thing they did was to make some accessible pews in the church. And the way they did that was they cut a couple of sections out of a couple of the pews in the middle of the church so that people in wheelchairs would have a place not off to one side, but right in the middle of the place to sit with everyone else. As that process started some of the old guard in this Cranford United Methodist Church that was nearly 150 years old, started taking exception to cutting up their pews a little bit. And they called the fire marshal. They call it the fire chief in Cranford. And they said, they’re messing up our church, they’re cutting up the pews. They’re putting the possibility of people in wheelchairs sitting in the middle of the church. And if there’s a fire, how are they going to get out? Well, there was one accessible way to get out. But to go out the front of the church, you couldn’t because it was down steps. And the fire marshal said, well, sounds pretty serious to me. You know, we need to deal with that. The pastor wouldn’t confront the fire chief. Some of the other people on the committee’s wouldn’t confront the fire chief. So finally, my wife decided if you guys aren’t going to do it, I will. And she called up the fire chief said, I understand you’ve had some complaints, can we talk about it? And he said, Sure. Here’s the problem. If you want to get out of the church, you’re in your wheelchair, how you going to get out if the exits blocked? And my wife said, Well, if you’re going to shut the church down and stop our efforts for doing that, are you going to go to the local Pathmark grocery store that has only one accessible exit and you’re going to close it down? Well, no, we’ve approved it. Yeah, exactly. Right. And the fire marshal said, but you know, how? How are you making sure that you’re obeying all the architectural rules? Do you have an architect drawing up all the drawings? Do you know the name Ron Meeks, sir? Yeah, he’s the architect for the city. Yeah, he’s also the guy that’s doing our drawings Hello. The people couldn’t tolerate a person in a chair being in their church. It got worse. The church had a Boy Scout troop. And as the elevators started to go in some of the exits that people would normally use to go into fellowship hall directly from the church were blocked. So they had to go outside and walk around just like people in wheelchairs. had to do. And one day my wife was confronted by one of these people saying you are messing up our church, and he and we have a scout dinner coming up, you better have this cleaned up by the time our scout dinner comes. Where’s the priority? Where is their true belief in God, much less Anything else? Folks, it happens today. There are constantly blind couples who have children who are challenged by departments of family and social services. And there are attempts and sometimes successful ones, at least for a while, take take children away, because the presumption is blind couples cannot possibly raise children. It takes battles in the courts to change it. And they go on today, I’m only telling you all this, and I’m only talking about this because I want you to see that this is an ongoing problem. And it isn’t going to change. Until we start having discussions. I’m looking forward to getting home. And watching the view we watched the view every every day or most days, a lot of fun will be is is a hoot. And all those people are last month Ace celebrated Spanish Heritage Month, gonna be interested to see if they’re doing anything about the fact that this is blindness Awareness Month meet the blind month and nationally built national disabilities Awareness Month.
Michael Hingson 36:28
Are they talking about successful persons with all sorts of disabilities? I wonder they haven’t in past years, I hope they are this year. But if they’re not, we’ll just have to see we can write on Facebook about it. And I urge you, if you have the opportunity to watch the show, record it and see and if they’re not call them on it. Put it out on Facebook, why aren’t you celebrating the fact that we have a rich heritage of persons who don’t have the same abilities as some of us who may have senior or super abilities compared to some of us? But why aren’t you celebrating those people like you do other parts of society, we have African American Awareness Month, black, our Black History Month in February, we have all sorts of different things. So I’ll be interested to see when I go home, if in fact, they’re doing anything with disabilities, we’ll see. But all of you, I recognize also have a challenge. Because if you start talking about some of these things, and really start encouraging your students, and your parents aren’t ready to step out. They’re going to challenge you. But I go back to Jimmy Carter, somewhere along the line, we have to hold to unwavering principles and blindness or other disabilities are not really the issue. It’s attitudes. blind children ought to be able to come to school, there are blind kids in this country who are in high school who have guide dogs, and school administration has tried to keep the guide dog out of the school. Well, we don’t know we can’t be responsible, excuse me, chair here, the Americans with Disabilities Act. Do you know what a guide dog is? Do you know what a trained service animal is? And do you understand that under the law, people can bring those dogs to school. So it is a challenge in a lot of ways. And I’ve seen parents mightily fight back when teachers want to teach Braille, and teach Sally to read Braille, not just print, because Sally will never be a good reader of just reading print. And Sally might in fact, at some point go blind, totally blind in her life. And are you going to give her the training in advance? Or is she going to have to go back and psychologically readjust, not recognizing that blindness is just as normal as everything else. And that’s the kind of thing that we need to look at. And we need to address. I could go on and give you other examples. But I think I’d like to stop, because I’d like to hear some of your thoughts. I’d like to see if you have questions and open this up for discussion a little bit. And I don’t know that we have a roving mic. So I’ll repeat questions. But if any of you have a question, why don’t you speak up? And or if you want to say something, speak up or come up here and use the mic or whatever, just don’t raise your hands because we know that doesn’t work, right. Anyone?
And I do have a roving mic.
Oh, you’ve got a roving mic. All right. So we have the man with the microphone who’d like to start this off.
Audience Member #1 39:30
I just wanted to say that I really appreciate you giving me a different perspective of looking at challenges that everybody has. We talk a lot about emotional challenges. We talk about physical challenges, but I love the way that you bring humor to it. And the real the real way that you talk about it, not making it politically correct. Not trying to appease everybody, but your perspective and your strength and doing that. So thanks
Michael Hingson 40:00
Thank you, I believe that I will sell say that I believe that my perspective is one that is evolved over time, one with which many persons with disabilities, blind people, for example, have go to nfb.org website of the National Federation of the Blind, you’ll read a lot there, you’ll read about the Fair Labor Standards Act, we could talk, we just don’t have time about the fact that until the mid 1980s, no person with a disability could buy life insurance, because insurance companies said that we were a higher risk. That’s a longer story than we have time to tell. But, you know, invite me to your districts, and I’ll be glad to tell that story. It’s a great story. Today, we can buy life insurance. And it’s because people who were blind with other disabilities prove to the insurance industry that they were simply prejudice, and that they in fact, weren’t even obeying their own precepts and criteria for providing insurance. Another story, though, next. He’s walking, so we must have someone
Audience Member #2 41:03
Hi, thank you. I’m a low incidence disability specialist. And oftentimes, we have challenges. I’ll use the word challenges with Jenna teachers. You know, they’ll say, Well, you know, according to Union, I only have to plan like a week in advance. And oftentimes, it’s shorter than that. And that doesn’t give our Braille technician a whole lot of time to Braille. What are included blind students need in the gen ed classroom? Do you have suggestions for bringing humor to the conversation, so that the gen ed teacher can come a little bit more to our side and and meet in the middle.
Michael Hingson 41:50
Under the law today, textbooks are required to be stored in a repository at the state and the federal level, and made available to anyone who needs them, and they’re in electronic form. And point being that if you have access to a Braille embosser, the books are already available, I got news in Boston, you don’t have to spend a lot of time transcribing them. They are available today, that law has been passed. Here’s an ironic story talking about people with disabilities and some of the myopic views that even they have a former commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Dr. Fred Schroeder, back in 1997, went to the National Association of persons with disabilities meeting in San Diego. And he said, we are trying to get legislation passed at the federal level and so on dealing with requiring that Braille be taught to all blind children while they’re in school using the definition of blindness that I mentioned earlier. And we would like your help in supporting that legislation. The organization said, No, we can’t do that. That’s a blindness thing. It doesn’t deal with people with disabilities in general. So you got to take it to blind people. It isn’t just outside of the system. Yet those same people want support when we’re dealing with ramps and other kinds of things. But you know, it’s and and all should be supported. But I would, I would say that it’s an excuse, because the law already requires. And there are already facilities that have all those books in electronic format. And those teachers should know how to access those. So that all you got to do is awesome. It’s not magic. And you know what the other side of it is? That isn’t even an excuse. What are you talking about? Do you want our children to learn or not? Why are you coming up with the excuse? I would also say, why is it that we only have to have a week, you know, when I was in college, I would go to my college professors a quarter or more in advance, and say, I need to know what textbooks you’re going to use in this class, so that I can get them put in Braille. And you know, professors don’t want to give you that information. It’s not time yet I haven’t even made a decision. And it took a lot of effort to get some of those professors to recognize that I wasn’t going to have access to the books, if they didn’t give me the information up front. And it wasn’t, we didn’t have the ADA back in 1968 through 76 when I was going through college, and in fact, one instructor gave us a title of a book. That wasn’t the title of the book that they ended up using. So I didn’t even have the textbook for the first two thirds of the quarter we were studying it. I did get an A in the class. But in spite of what the professor did, I don’t think it was deliberate. But, you know, at the college level, even now, in the college level, we’re working to get similar legislation passed so that college texts are made available in electronic form and stored in a repository. But that does exist today. So there’s no excuse for them doing that. And, you know, I don’t know how best to do it with a lot of humor other than to say, you know, well, you know, I’ll tell you what we’ll we’ll start preparing TV shows for you to watch when, you know when we get around to it, and you know, you may miss mom, or you may miss Grey’s Anatomy or any other shows, because we’re just not going to have them ready in time. And we’re not going to let your VCR turn on until we’re ready, and we have it ready for you to take. So there’s, there’s no easy way to do it. Because it’s inexcusable. And it’s a number of those same teachers who really don’t want to teach blind kids Braille, because you don’t need them. You don’t need to do that you can get the book in electronic form. That’s right, so can you and you could put it in Braille. But you can get an electronic form so the students can just listen to it. You ever tried to do a graduate or even undergraduate physics course and study mathematical equations from a recording? It is not trivial to do? It, it isn’t the way to do it. Blind people need to learn to read and write and spell and do grammar and math just like anyone else. And teachers have no right to prevent that, or discourage that from happening. And in fact, they should embrace it. And I don’t know how else to say it, which isn’t necessarily funny. But nevertheless, that’s what needs to happen. Does that help?
Audience Member #2 46:28
Yeah, I think sometimes. The issue also is, as we’re moving into, like a one to one district, Chromebook, a lot of teachers are pulling stuff for Google classroom, and of not textbooks anymore. So right, I mean, we go through and get all the textbooks, and they’re available in Braille to the students. But teachers are pulling stuff off the fly. And, you know, it’s all I can do to keep up sometimes to get,
Michael Hingson 46:56
oh, I hear you to get
Audience Member #2 46:57
someone in real time Braille in it as they’re reading or, you know, for that student that needs Braille or doing like the, the text to speech. I mean, it’s like, I just want to make it accessible. That’s all.
Michael Hingson 47:10
So let me ask you this teacher. Do you believe in obeying the law? Yes. Great. Glad to hear it. Do you know what the Americans know? I’m, I’m asking you to role model not be yourself. But do you know what the Americans with Disabilities Act? Is? You ever heard of it? You think you’ve heard of it? Let me tell you about the ADA. It says that, that companies, schools, organizations, and so on, are required under the law to make reasonable accommodations to make material available and to make jobs available and schools available to persons who happen to have a disability, in this case being blind. And the reality is, if you’re pulling all this stuff up, and you’re using inaccessible material, you are breaking the law. Do you really want to do that? Because if you do, maybe we need to have another discussion. Yes, I know what the teachers are doing. And we have battles with Google and work and are working with Google to make sure that their material is accessible. And a lot of it is and the teachers either have the obligation to pull the accessible material off, or work with you in an appropriate timeframe to find that material, because a lot of it is accessible. And if the teachers aren’t going to the right place, then they are doing a disservice to people in their classroom, they cannot discriminate against certain segments of the population. You know, if we’re gonna do that, let’s turn the lights off. So none of the kids have to worry about wasting electricity. You know, you can’t have it both ways teachers, and I hear what you’re saying. But they need to do proper lesson planning. That’s what it’s about. And that’s what I learned as a teacher. And if that means I’ve got to deal with certain things for students who may not use the same material in the same way, if I’m going to be a real teacher in society, I’m obligated to make sure that I work on that. They don’t like that, necessarily. But that’s what they’re supposed to do. Because that’s what the law says. And I and I, that may or may not be the answer that you want, that may not be an easy answer to give. But that’s what the law says, right? And so push that and educate your principal. And if you need help, I’ll find you people who can help with that. But they are breaking the law when they’re not making their material available in an accessible form. And most of the time, it probably is available somewhere in an accessible form. So if they can’t do it, or they don’t want to do it, and you’re the expert, they need to give you the time, and give you the information far enough in advance that you can find it or find someone who can help you find it and I can certainly connect you with people who can most likely help you find it if you can’t, and I’m glad to do that.
Michael Hingson 50:00
Next. Who have we taken such a hard line no one else has anything to say.
We have one over here.
Audience Member #3 50:09
This is probably not them. But anyways, when I was about 1718 years of age, my mother worked for a chiropractor who happened to be blind. To be a chiropractor, you have to go med school and everything else. And for a female that’s very hard to do. And she was born blind. And my mother said, you want a job? And I said, Oh, sure, I’ll make some extra money. You can take her up. This was an Oak Park, Illinois, Chicago native. And I took her up into Barrington because she was horseback rider. She was getting pay me money, I relate to do that. At that point, I was I loved horses, I said, Forget the money, I’ll just take a ride a lesson while you’re doing yours. She was a fanatic rider. It was amazing. I was just like, I couldn’t believe it. She was better than me. And temper that, that capability to be able to do that. It just at that age, at that point, I had a communication with someone with a disability that I had to help, you know, every weekend. And from there, it was just like, now when people you’ll everyone hears this, and I hate correcting people. And I just heard Mike say this. And you’ll hear many people say, Oh, yeah, I see what you’re saying. No, you don’t see what you’re saying. You can hear what they’re saying. You don’t see what they’re saying. And bring it back. Listen for that. You can listen to the most intelligent person. And then they start saying, Yeah, I see what you’re saying. I’m like, Oh, my God. I respect Yeah, I was just like, Whoa, No, you can’t. And you’re like, catch him on it. But it’s true. Yes, you can hear what you’re saying. And we have all these senses about us, not just her sight. And we’re going to use as many as we can to make us the better person. So thank you, Mike, for bringing that to our attention.
Michael Hingson 51:56
I know we’re about out of time. Thank you. I’ve got one more story. One another story. sirius xm 167. Canada talks radio. Gentlemen contacted me, Ari Silva, who has a show, I think his last name was silver on Canada talks every Tuesday afternoon 4pm to 5pm pacific time. And he wanted to interview me about the World Trade Center and on my story, and so on. So I was on for the last 15 minutes of the show. The first part of the show, they were talking about all the problems that Justin Trudeau the Prime Minister is having because he appeared once in blackface. And now people are blasting him for that, which is totally ridiculous. It has nothing to do with his political qualifications. It has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that 20 some odd years ago, he did that. So he did, right. What does it have to do today? Anyway, so the time came for me to be interviewed. And we started chatting, and already started talking all about blindness and blind people and all that we had a great discussion about all sorts of stuff, never did get to the World Trade Center. But we had a long conversation about a lot of the issues concerning blindness. And one of the things that we talked about was the fact that he had the opportunity to participate in a dining and the dark function. y’all heard of dining in the dark, one of the worst concepts in society regarding blind people today. So Ari, starts talking about it. And he said, I walked into this place. And he said, I’ve got a friend who’s blind, a lawyer that I know, he’s a young man, and I’ve been mentoring him some in some areas. And I walked into this dining in the dark thing, and I became totally petrified, I walked out, and ice. And so I said to him, what did you learn? He said, that is a real scary thing to have to do. And I said, wrong answer. But let me ask you this. Why is it scary? Well, because it’s not easy to do. I said, wrong answer. The answer really is, you didn’t have training, you didn’t learn how to function as a blind person. And you’re not going to learn it in that environment. And that’s the problem with dining in the dark. People go in, and they if they can eat their food, without creating much of a mess, they think they’re really successful, but they haven’t learned anything about blindness. I told Ari, go get yourself a white cane and a pair of dark glasses, put the glasses on, and walk up and down the streets in Toronto, where he lived. And look at how people observe you and the expressions and the things that they do. And the way they look at you, then you’re going to see something about how we’re viewed. The reality is dining in the dark is disgusting. It teaches you nothing because you don’t have the training, you don’t have the background. You don’t have the basis for an understanding of what blindness is. And the result of that is you’re not going to have a good experience. And all it’s going to do is reinforce a lot of poor attitudes and misconceptions about blindness. It isn’t going to change anything. We shouldn’t have that. And unfortunately, there are so many blindness agencies that think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread because people come and they donate and all that. But all they’re doing is an incredible disservice to blind people who want to live in the world, and who have the same right to do that, as anyone else. I think we’ve run out of time. And so we’re going to have to stop. So thank you very much. I’d love to come and work with any of you at your districts. And if you haven’t gotten our card yet, come up, I’ve got a, I’ve got some business cards, I’d love to speak in your districts. And I hope that we can work together. But thank you again for inviting us to come and be a part of this today.
Michael Hingson 55:44
And there we are. I want to thank you again, for listening to unstoppable mindset today. And I hope that you found this presentation pretty interesting, and that you maybe come away with a little bit of a different view about not only disabilities, but how we can and should be included in the conversation. You know, one of the things that I love to do a lot is to ask the question, what is it you think a blind person cannot do? And when I asked that question, one of the common responses is drive a car. And as we discuss on a regular basis, you think so go visit WWW.blinddriverchallenge.org. That’s WWW.blinddriverchallenge.org. And watch the video of Mark riccobono, who is now the president of the National Federation of the Blind, driving a Ford Escape completely independently, without any assistance from any sighted person or any autonomous vehicle technology. He drives a car, a Ford Escape around the Daytona Speedway right before the 2011 Rolex 24 race, you’ll see it all at blind driver challenge. Next week, we’re going to do something a little bit different. And that is that I’m going to be interviewed and we’re going to talk a lot about accessibility. We’re going to talk about some of the reasons that I got into doing podcasts and other sorts of things. And then after next week’s show, will not only have me making remarks from time to time, but we’re going to start interviewing other people. So you don’t get to listen to me all the time. Or maybe I should say you don’t have to listen to me all the time. You’ll get to hear other people, but we’ll get there. Anyway, thanks for listening. Thanks for joining us on episode two of unstoppable mindset.
Michael Hingson 57:51
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week