Release Date: 
Monday, March 5, 2007
John G. Paré Jr.
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2371
(410) 913-3912 (Cell)

U.S. Navy Discriminates Against Blind Americans

Baltimore, Maryland (March 5, 2007): Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The fact that a blind person was not permitted to tour the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy like other members of the public is a stain upon the good reputation of the United States Armed Forces.  Members of the military are charged with defending the rights of all Americans, and for them to trample upon those rights instead is unacceptable.  At the very least, United States Navy officials owe Mika Pyyhkala an apology for their conduct in this matter.  The National Federation of the Blind will pursue all available legal remedies under the laws of the United States and the state of Massachusetts.  Our intention is to send, loud and clear, the message that the blind will not tolerate discrimination against us in any aspect of life.  If we allow the claim that we cannot visit an aircraft carrier that is open to the public, based on the patently fallacious justification that our doing so would be unsafe, to be made with impunity, we will next be told that we cannot visit a restaurant, or a school, or a park. Blind people work, play, and move about in the world as well as anyone, and we will not stand for being treated like small children.”