Braille Monitor                                                                                February 1986



A Letter to NBC

(Pat Barrett wrote the following letter in his capacity as President of the Western Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho.)

Boise, Idaho
September 30, 1985

Brandon Tartikoff
President of Programming
New York, New York

Dear Mr. Tartikoff:

I am a regular watcher of your NBC-TV program "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes," aired Monday nights on your network. I get a big kick out of the bloopers and funny segments featured on that show.

On the broadcast of September 2 3, however, I saw something that made my laughter turn sour. In the program segment "Len Sella's Silly Cinemas," there was what Mr. Sella interpreted as his comic portrayal of a blind dentist. The dentist, who I believe was wearing a blindfold, stumbled around, took aim at the wall with a dentist drill, then went for the forehead of the patient in the chair. The patient lunged out of the way in terror.

This demonstration was no laughing matter to me as a blind person. First of all, the terrified patient reminds me of how passers-by dodge a considerable distance out of the way when I come down the street with my white cane. It is so obvious I can hear them do it. I have been trained in cane travel, and no one has told me I am using it like a swashbuckler in walking. Mr. Sella's depiction only reinforces the fear sighted persons already have about blind people--the same fear that keeps thousands of capable, potential workers who happen to be blind out of work.

Speaking of work, I don't know about blind dentists but do know of blind doctors, physical therapists, and machinists around the country. They bring home good wages and raise families. I have enclosed a brochure to give you and your staff information that you .or your programming staff may not have had about blindness.

I hope you will apply these comments and take them as helpful.


Patrick A. Barrett,
President Western Chapter
National Federation of the Blind of Idaho