Braille Monitor July 1985
(Note: The following article appeared in the Spring, 1985, issue of the Blind Washingtonian, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington State.)
During the 1985 Legislative session, two well-intentioned Legislators introduced HB 236, which, if adopted, would extend special parking privileges to blind residents of the State of Washington. Under current Washington State law, mobility-impaired persons are given special parking permits in order that they may use accessible parking slots designated for the disabled. Of course, the Federation is opposed to any efforts to provide any special parking privileges to the blind. On January 28, President Gary Mackenstadt, President of the NFB of Washington, testified against HB 23 6 before the House Transportation Committee, as did Bob Sellers, representing the Advisory Council to the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind. We are pleased to report that HB 236 died a natural death in committee. The Federation did submit the following statement to each member of the House Transportation Committee concerning HB 236:
The National Federation of the Blind c: Washington strongly opposes HB 23 6. We urge the members of the Washington State Legislature to reject this proposed legislation.
Providing blind persons with disabled parking permits in order that they may utilize those parking slots designated for the disabled is unnecessary because physical accessibility is not an issue which pertains to the blind. With the proper training in the use of the long white cane or dog guide, a blind person can travel safely and independently in the world as it exists. The loss of vision does affect an individual's ability to read the printed word. However, it does not affect an individual's ability to climb stairs, to step onto curbs, and to walk across parking lots. The National Federation of the Blind of Washington opposes HB 236 because, if adopted, it would perpetuate the myths and misconceptions which exist about blindness and blind people. The public's negative attitudes regarding blindness have denied blind persons opportunities in employment, education, and community life in general. Many individuals in our society falsely believe that blindness is a tragedy. The public's misconception concerning blindness is the primary barrier precluding blind individuals from achieving first class citizenship. Physical barriers have never been a problem for blind persons. Quite to the contrary, efforts to make physical barriers an issue relevant to the blind result from the aforementioned negative attitudes and myths about blindness.