Warning: this could sound political, but I’m hoping my concern cuts across party lines. I just learned that some US Congress members have voted to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law affects an unbelievable 55 million American citizens and protects them from former discrimination.
Examples: After I became blind, I found a teaching job at the rehab agency that had trained me and was paid less than my colleagues—all of them sighted (despite my teaching experience of 3 years which surpassed many of theirs). But I needed the job. As I taught the Braille classes, I discovered that one 16-year-old boy could read every single letter he felt, but couldn’t translate them into words. The boy had never learned to read. So, I spent my lunch hours teaching him and got him to a second-grade reading level. When he was to move to a vocational facility where he’d still have Braille, I outlined how the teacher could continue to help him with reading. The agency head refused to send along my outline, calling it “company property,” so I quit. Two weeks later this agency head showed up at my apartment at 9 p.m., even though he was married and my father’s age. I didn’t admit him, but didn’t feel that I could report him to the board either. My only blind work experience had been under his supervision, and I might need a job recommendation.
Over the 40 plus years that I’ve been Deaf-blind, I learned how underemployed many disabled people were. I heard of landlords who wouldn’t rent to someone whose right hand didn’t work. I knew people whose job interviews were cancelled once the interviewer learned they were blind.
So much changed after 1990 when this law was enacted. If this concerns you, please e-mail your congress person. And thanks.