Monday, March 17, 2008

Media coverage of blindness continues in wake of Paterson governorship

The Boston Herald talked to folks at the famous Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts (where Helen Keller was educated as a child). The Herald wrote a March 16 reaction story from the school's blind alums and educators about what attention David Paterson's governorship will draw to blindness issues and blind people.

"For those who cannot see, David A. Paterson’s ascension to the governorship in New York tomorrow is a chance to open the public’s eyes to what they themselves have known all along," The Herald wrote. “'It’s really providing a whole opportunity to educate the public about the capabilities of blind people,' said Kim Charlson, the Braille & Talking Book Library director at the Perkins School for the Blind. 'He’s in this position because he has huge abilities, not a disability.'”

The Associated Press also continued to cover the blindness topic with a story about employer bias toward blind people, which is part of the reason 70% of blind people are unemployed. But spokespeople for blindness organizations say that Paterson will be a highly visible example of what blind people can accomplish in the workplace.

"Blind people hold all sorts of jobs these days — judge, fitness trainer, TV show host, registered nurse, lawyer and so on," The AP wrote March 26."'Unfortunately we're still living in an age of misperceptions of what blind people can do,' said Carl Augusto, president of the American Foundation for the Blind. 'We're hoping that an employer considering hiring a blind person will say that if David Paterson can be governor and be legally blind, maybe this applicant who is blind can be a good computer programmer.'"

"The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which tracks workplace discrimination cases covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, says 455 such complaints were filed last year by visually impaired workers — the highest number since 1995," The AP reports."'If someone's blind, there's a huge stigma to overcome and all kinds of myths and fears in the employer community,' EEOC spokesman David Grinberg said."