Braille Monitor                                                                  October 1985

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Barking Up the Wrong Tree

by James C. Moynihan

(Note: The following article is reprinted from the Blind Missourian for July, 1985. The Blind Missourian is the official publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri. Jim and Jana Moynihan are part of the leadership of the NFB of Missouri.)

The NFB is responsible for the language of the White Cane Law in all fifty states. These laws prohibit discrimination against blind persons in places of public accommodation. We react vigorously when we encounter instances of discrimination. Recently I had to deal with an equally vexing problem, an instance of alleged discrimination which actually did not occur.

One Wednesday evening a channel 8 news reporter, Stan Cramer, stated that it is difficult for a blind man with a seeing eye dog to shop for groceries. "Difficulties are magnified when he encounters opposition from the management of the grocery store."

A blind man with his guide dog went to Milgram's Grocery to shop. Customers complained that the "leader dog" was licking the labels of canned goods. The management offered to assist the blind man with his shopping but he refused. Instead, he called the police, alleging that the manager had discriminated against him.

The t.v. reporter explained that the White Cane Law allows blind persons and guide dogs in places of public accommodation as long as the dog is in harness and well behaved.

We were already familiar with the blind man. I had already contacted Leader Dog regarding his poor handling of the dog. Officials had made excuses, stating that the man was older. In fact, this man has a history of problems with his dog.

I called Stan Cramer and gave him a brief narrative of this man's exploits. I offered that Jana and I would go shopping at Milgram's to see if anything would happen. Stan asked me to let him know what happened. On Friday of that week Jana and I went to Milgram's and bought several items. Store personnel were pleasant and cooperative when we asked for help in finding a particular item. I then called Mr. Cramer and let him know what happened. He said that the story was done primarily to let people know about the White Cane Law. I told him it was one thing to inform the public but that this man gave blind people and guide dog users a bad image. I wonder if a legitimate case against a guide dog user would receive equal exposure?