IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Serenity and the Frail Petunia

Dear Reader:

I am blind and getting more blind by the decade. It’s not all I am, not by a long shot, but it’s a core part of me that I wrestle with every day, some days more in a nuisance way and some days it brings me down.

I wrestle with how to balance that part of me with the rest, in my interactions with people: if I bring it up too much, I’m using it as a crutch; if I pretend it doesn’t have an influence, I won’t ever speak up for what I need or get those needs met in any way necessary.

Different blindness organizations have differing views, but as I grew and went along, I felt I had to get involved in something I felt represented me, without letting the activism and hard work of advocacy take over my life entirely either.

It’s hard enough to focus on ourselves, let alone having to work or worry on or about the issues someone else might be living with. Some prefer to get things squared away in their own lives and leave it at that.

I am like most in Canada and those living in North America in 2019 – I only recently heard of
the Canadian Federation of the Blind (CFB)
recently, but I found people and projects there that did make me feel like I belonged and had something worthwhile to contribute.

Just a few of the things we are constantly fighting and working to improve:

The guide dog discrimination and misinformation issue just won’t go away. In fact, depending on who you happen to ask, it’s grown worse in recent years.

People get refused service from businesses and things like Lyft or by Uber drivers. Sometimes a cab will see the dog and then pull away, intending to pretend that they were never there, leaving the person waiting in vane for a ride.

Blind people are one of those groups of people who can’t simply get behind the wheel of a vehicle and get somewhere themselves. Public transportation and rides from helpful friends or family are our best bet if we want to leave our homes. PSST…we do.

Those who say: “no guide dog allowed” claim it’s an allergy issue or a cultural one. These do give the issue a two-sides-to-every-story feel for many people, but it matters to those who depend on their guide dog to give them back their independence.

Also, I am trying to get my local library to offer me as much access to literature as possible. People unable to read print have only about ten percent of the access to the written word and books as those who can see. A library should want to do all it can to get me access to books, as I can’t pick up any book on their shelves and read at will.

Being in my local library now makes me sad and resentful. I can deal with the fact that I’ll never see print again, like when I was a child reading large print, but I go to my library twice a month (to attend a local writing group) and I am surrounded by some of the things I love most in the world, yet they are just out of reach.

There are places to get more access to books:
National Network For Equitable Library Service
and
Centre for Equitable Library Access,
but they are not just duplicates of each other. If one has even one more book than the other, that the other does not, don’t I deserve access to both?

Libraries in Canada have always kind of passed the buck of literacy for the blind onto the
Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB),
but (in my opinion) they should care for every client and want to offer inclusivity and a welcoming atmosphere for all.

Instead, I am disregarded and left not wanting to even step foot into the building most times, even to see writer friends I love and to share stories with them, because the library has become a bittersweet and even painful place.

And finally, there’s this…

****

The antidotes to job-seeker deceptions presented here reduce but don’t eliminate employers’ risk of getting snookered. For example, I’ve had clients with a disability who withheld that information, knowing there now are laws that limit the interviewer’s ability to ask about them. And then as soon as hired, they disclose the disability because now they’re protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

****

Go ahead and read the
full article (for full context),
but many do not and so I’ve decided to paste in the above paragraph separately.

I really don’t want to give this article more views, but I also think people should be aware of where stigma like this persists from. I happen to believe the written word is a powerful thing.

I am not into shaming or attacking anyone/not without cause or reason, but I do believe we should do more calling people out on something if it is hurting a whole group of people.

I believe this writer disguised this attack by inserting this as one of his final points of proof of his main article’s point of view.

Most people won’t see this because attentions are short in 2019 and reading to the end of an article is often not practical for those on the go and with mile long to-do lists. I probably shouldn’t have even made this blog post this long and left this part for the end. This is not an accusation, as I understand people’s time is precious. I just wish people were more thoughtful about things )like this writer) and I hope someone does get this far in my post.

I believe, in life, we should all pick our own battles, but I am getting tired of visible ablism and the perpetuation of stigma.

The reason I wanted to start a support and resource group, which we’ve called our Employment Mastermind Group or EMG, and through some Canadian Federation of the Blind members and others, we are doing it, is because of writers such as Nemko.

We can argue all day about the real unemployment rate for people with disabilities and who are blind, but either way it’s much too high still.

Of course, the ways in which we’re told we can reach people and change minds are things like social media, Twitter private messaging, but I don’t really think a tweet sent from me to him will get me anywhere. I came here, though I write here less often than I used to, because I have a place to speak openly and honestly about something that hurts, as much as I try not to take it to heart.

Do guys like this truly think he’s helping anyone, to warn unsuspecting employers? What was the editor of this article thinking, putting the Psychology Today name on this?

I may have thought, as a freelance writer, of writing for this publication at one time, but I don’t think I want to now. (One to cross of the list.)

The question of whether to disclose disability on a resume or application for a job is often asked in the blindness community. People only want to find meaningful employment like anybody else, to feel useful and for independence and self sufficiency.

We are honestly afraid we’ll be weeded out before we’re given a chance to prove our skills. We’re not saying we deserve special treatment, given a job even if we aren’t up to it, but employers are often afraid to hire someone with a disability because they think it’s not going to be worth their time/money/energies, that it will be too much of a hassle or a risk to them because not everyone understands that blind people aren’t helpless and don’t need to be watched over every minute.

Who would admit they do this? Doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what some employers (not all) would do, hoping not to be caught doing it.

It’s like when you want a person to like you, on a date, so you hold back on something you think it may be too soon to share. You do have to take the risk sooner or later, but you have no idea how they will take it when they find out. This is where it can get tricky. Maybe…you think…if they get to know you a bit first, then when you do finally bring it up, you’ll have left such a wonderful impression that all will work itself out. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

I happen to think being upfront, as soon as possible, is best (in all types of relationships/be they personal or professional), but I know it’s a nerve racking thing when you think you’d be good at a certain position and you don’t wish to be pitied for the rest of your life, wishing to carry your weight and support yourself, but fearing the injustices of the real world.

This writer is including people with disabilities as “the deceivers” of those poor employers. Aren’t we just so incredibly evil, pulling the wool over innocent eyes and those eyes must be warned that we’re coming?

Maniacal, aren’t we?

Inaccessibility is everywhere you look. I couldn’t and wouldn’t include everything it is here because I would be writing for days. Let’s just say that even the comment section for the article, when I went to share my thoughts, was no simple thing to tackle.

So if it sounds as though I’m complaining too much, you’re right because I do get tired of having to bring these things up all the time. Really, I do. I wish I didn’t have to and I could go back to staying quiet and saying nothing, just so I don’t rock the boat, but that doesn’t get us to a better place.

If you are on Twitter and you feel like helping this writer and career coach learn why what he said was so harmful, he can be found @MartyNemko and you can also try @PsychToday.

Thank you for listening/reading/considering.

Signed,

KKHerheadache/Kerry

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