Blindness And Lifestyle


Blindness And Lifestyle

     “It’s 10:30 AM.” announced the talking clock.

     The hand of the man who had pressed the button fell back onto the bed. “Oh, blast!” he mumbled. “I better get up. Got to meet my friends at the park in less than an hour.” Stretching, he rolled out of bed and groggily shuffled across the small apartment toward the bathroom and soon, his closet.

     “Where’s that shoe gone to now...? Ow! Stupid place for a shoe to be!” After a big yawn, he continued, “Let’s see now what all is on the agenda for the day... Meet Tommy, Dave, and Sherry at the park by 'our bench'...maybe I can talk them all into grabbing a burger at the vender that usually hangs around there. Then there was talk about going to somebody's place to do some music or watch a descriptive video. Wonder who will pay to rent this one? Not me this late in the month!”

     Tying the laces on the first shoe as he thought of his other closest friend from his days at the school for the blind, he said, “It won’t be Mike’s place, poor dude will be back at work. Guess his forced vacation, being laid off, came to a halt. Too soon, too bad, ol' buddy! Well...,” he struggled to untie a knot in the laces of the second shoe, “Work is okay. However, not for all, that's just not the way I want to do it. Not if I don’t have to or want to. No, no, no.” He shook his head emphatically with each “no.”

     “I’m making it pretty good. Got my monthly check from the big ‘G.’ I'm living in some good public housing and there are other support programs around if I need them.” Pulling on his second shoe, he said, “I've got a lot to look forward to every day. If the mailman drops off that new philosophy best seller I ordered in Braille, I'll stay home tomorrow. Stretching the old intellect is good stuff!”

     Searching for his cane, his thoughts culminated on this topic which he and his blind friends had hashed over many times. He said as he had said before, “There are the lifestyles of the rich and famous, there are the lifestyles of the blind which could be one and the same, but...with circumstances, breaks, and choice...I am, who I am. At the end of the day, guess the key is to like yourself and I do.” The door locked behind him as a cheery whistled rendition of "Popeye, the sailorman" receded in the distance.

e-mail responses to

**1. Unfortunately, this seems to be the lifestyle of some blind people today and I hope it's not the majority of blind people. Part of it may be due to the difficulty blind people have finding jobs but part of it may be to this sense of entitlement. I'm blind so I shouldn't have to work. I should have an easy life. People should be helping me. Fortunately, this will never be my lifestyle. It took me about six months to even find volunteer work after I graduated from college. I was able to find an internship and full-time employment and I need the structure of a working life. I enjoy taking off to spend with my kids during the summer and when they are on Christmas break. But I could never live with sleeping late and having no goals or wanting handouts. I would like to think that this is a worst case scenario and that most blind people have more motivation.

Mary Jo Partyka

**2. This thought provoker gets at the heart of the effects of blindness and the choices we must make. Suppose that tomorrow all SSI and SSDI checks were cut off. I wonder how many blind people would, given the necessity of the situation, go to work. I
don't know how many but I suspect it's a rather high percentage. It is an unfortunate truth that to often, government assistance allows people to just "get by" and for many, that becomes enough. No, the check doesn't provide nice vacations, expensive homes, college for the kids, Etc. but it's enough to eat and get by and many settle for that. Sadly enough, they often believe that it's all they can really have. That is, many of us say, "Employers
don't want to hire me. There's to much discrimination out there in the public." These feelings become supportable because of that subsistence check. If it wasn't there the average blind person would go out and find a job. In fact, many of us do on a regular basis. Not because we can't get the government check, but, for some strange reason we just want more and refuse to believe that public attitudes can stop us. We're not any more talented than those
who don't work. We just refuse to stay home and know that out there somewhere is an employer that we can make money for and who therefore will be greedy enough to hire us. We blow off the ones who won't hire us and look for the ones who will. Most humans do what they have to do, not what they ought to do. That is, most of us will find work if we're in need of food and shelter. Take that need
away and our motivation drops dramatically. That is the unfortunate result of government benefits, no matter what their other more practical results may be. I have friends who are in their fifties and have worked for very few of their adult years. Somehow the job just never works out and they go on another job search that takes years. When they say they're looking for work it means an interview a month or maybe just thinking about it. I wonder sometimes what they would do if the rent was due by the end of the month and the only solution was a job. I wonder if they wouldn't find a way to make themselves
of value to someone who would pay them. I believe the challenge of rehabilitation programs is described by this Thought Provoker. Our challenge is to motivate people to work when they don't really have to. We have to help them want more than to just get by. That is a very high bar to climb over. For even the best Rehabilitation programs who concentrate on developing positive attitudes and strong skills, it's a huge challenge to help students stand the rejection of employers. It's so frustrating and humiliating
for the blind person to be treated as less than an adult that he or she soon quits. Oh yes, the person still acts like they're looking for work but that's only a fiction that protects them from the ridicule or pity of friends and family.
When you've been rejected by ten employers it's easier to say, "They discriminate against me." Rather than to say, "How can I change my approach?" Most of us simply don't have that much ego strength so the government check allows us to give up and say we're glad for it.
Unfortunately, not working in our society is very debilitating in and of itself. Almost the first words we ask one another upon meeting are, "What do you do?" For an adult of working age not to have employment leaves him or her outside the social fabric. It becomes harder to develop those friendships based on equity and reciprocity which furthers isolation. And, since those relationships based on equity and reciprocity which often lead to jobs don't exist,
the problem feeds on itself.
The irony of it all is that the money tax payers give in order to help is the very thing that often does the harm. Unfortunately, we haven't found a better solution but it remains a huge challenge if blind people are to become truly integrated into society.

Mike Bullis
Baltimore Maryland

**3. To each his/her own. If this life style is what makes this guy happy, so be it. So long as his life style doesn't prevent me, a blind person, from having my Different on, and so long as we realize that there are millions of sighted people who indulge in the same sort of thing, let him make his bed and lye in it.

Arie Gamliel

**4. I find this insulting. If you are writing about blind hobos then perhaps you may have something here. however, during the Depression there were many people who could not get jobs and were forced to ride the rails. You assume that most of the blind live like the jerk you are describing. I worked for 37 years and have just retired from teaching. I do know some blind people who, for various reasons do not work. That is their business.

Bob Acosta Blind-X

FROM ME: What do you “totals” feel about this second sentence here- “...If you are writing about blind hobos then perhaps you may have something here...”

**5. I feel insulted by this supposed thought provoker. While there may be a few blind people who choose not to work, that choice was most likely the result of a prevailing sense of failure in the job market. You post these thought provokers and never have I heard you contribute anything to any list. I have a feeling you post these, so called, thought provokers, to resolve problems for yourself and not to enlighten the sighted public as you portend. I hope you have a response.

Albert Griffith Blind-X

FROM ME: I wrote to the list- Hey Blind-x listers
You all on this list, as well as from other lists are writing in a storm on this one and I appreciate it. I mean, don't for get a THOUGHT PROVOKER is to get at what people are thinking on an issue of blindness and it is from us who have been there to lay it out for the new comer and/or the person that is open and needing to have their opinion provoked and changed (hopefully to the better). And sure, this provoker story was written to show only one major
face to why the guy was saying what he was saying and doing. But with some of the vagueness and open ended ness of this and other PROVOKER stories, it leaves it open for the readers own take on it. On this one, guess what, some people are writing in saying that it is perfectly understandable and acceptable
for a blind guy to be just what this guy is! That there are blind folks out there just like this and that is alright. But, yeah and wonderfully so, most are not liking the image this story is portraying. Many are writing telling just how this can happen to a person like you or I. It is thought on how this might come about that can help us to prevent it, right? So, write in with your feelings, go after the issue, educate who may read this. (Remember,
a THOUGHT PROVOKER can take either the positive or the negative of an issue and it is up to the readers and responders to write in and point out what is right or wrong about it. That is what the THOUGHT PROVOKER forum and website is all about; take a look if you haven't already; join if you wish to help provoke some thought. )

**6. I am not particularly bothered by Robert's thought provokers reflecting his own bias. I think few of us do not reflect our own biases in how we respond to and how we discuss issues. My problem is not with Robert's biases as he has as much right to his own as we do with ours. My problem is with the content and implications of this provoker. I hear it voiced often especially by those who have been fortunate enough to have found employment. This may be a sighted perception on one hand and a viewpoint amongst the blind as well. Whether this reflects Robert's personal views or not is not the issue. It is an issue which comes up within the blind community from time to time so providing such a thought provoker to generate responses which either support this view or reject it seems legitimate to me. However, as he posted this point of view with the idea that we should comment on it I feel perfectly free to say how much this attitude offends me. I do not think it reflects the prevailing view of any significant number of blind persons. It is no more meaningful to say this about blind persons than it is to suggest that welfare recipients opt for welfare because they do not wish to work as if what you receive on welfare is in some way an easier life style than working is so some simply choose to take the checks as they adequately replace what one would earn at a job. I believe the only people who can argue this are those who have never tried to live exclusively on welfare benefits. When you are talking about something like SSI which pays a little more than $500 I believe presently you are not talking about an extravagant life style or even a quality life style unless you are staying at home with your parents and having most of your needs taken care of by others so you can use this amount for personal expenses and wishes. This is a mentality though we see often when someone finds a job; suddenly everyone else who is on SSI or welfare is lazy and simply wishes to exploit others so they can live in a comfortable manner without doing anything to earn it. Personally, I find this attitude says more about those individuals and their own poor self image than it says about anyone on welfare or receiving benefits.

Lisa Carmelle Blind-X

*7. I'd be interested in seeing what others have to say about this issue. However, I resent this Thought Provoker because it's so simplistic. It assumes that the person in the story actually wants to remain unemployed. This is not the case.

I do find it interesting that this character is seen as reading
philosophy. I'm not sure if the implication is that he is too
intelligent to work, he is intelligent but doesn't want to work
(implying laziness), or what.

I won't say any more here except that I wish that the story had focused on why this character had decided not to work. Maybe
"decided" is a bad word here, perhaps I mean "was forced into deciding not to work". There is no mention of the many hours spent job searching. There is no mention of the four years of college and
perhaps one more year in grad school. There is not one thing said about the dozens of job interviews; a gauntlet of idiotic questions,
plus inane praise to go through. There is no mention of the practical
and self negating choices that must be made. No, this is nothing but
a simplistic, cardboard, shadow picture of the reality facing hundreds
of blind people every day. No, this is not a thought provoker, it's
just a surface scan, a patronistic, simplistic, shallow, rendering of
an issue that cuts to the very core of a person's being and self
perception. No, this was not well done at all.

Ann P. Blind-X

**7. What a SAD philosophy!!! Everyday, I see people in my office who, for one reason or another, believe they shouldn't have to work. "It hurts my back. It
doesn't help me. I have too many kids." This gentleman's problem isn't blindness, it is plain laziness. He doesn't even try volunteering, part-time
work or even mentions setting some kind of goal. It also sounds like he has mooching down to a fine art. I see plenty of those also in my daily work.
Now, can we, as a society, do anything about this? Likely not. However, I do believe he should experience some consequences that sighted people face when they choose this life style. Those could be: cut off notices, a day or two with an empty cupboard, loosing his public housing to a homeless family or
finding an eviction notice on his door. The life style is his choice; he just shouldn't expect his needs to be met on a silver platter.

Marcia Beare, M.S.W. Martain, Michigan USA

**8. This is me in the story and I like it! I don’t have to work, thank you very much! I like my freedom; this is what the USA promises us. I’m blind, I can get a check and I take it. I love to read and walk in the park and watch movies; drink beer too.

No Fool; I am on the list and won’t give my name here

**9. Very interesting thought provoker this month. I have a couple of thoughts on the topic. First, I guess as long as the government continues to pay people
to sit around and do nothing, some people will choose this lifestyle.
The second point refers to the last sentence in my first point, "choose this lifestyle".
We live in America where people are free to do whatever they want, as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. The rehabilitation philosophy
is based upon individual choice and it is never appropriate for someone to impose their values or make judgments on those choices. Quietly we can talk
about what we consider poor decisions. Publicly we can create programs that provide information and options. Our state VR agencies can offer programs
that allow for growth and opportunity, but ultimately, we are ethically and fundamentally bound to the concept of personal choice.

I chose to become a VR counselor in Dallas Texas. I chose to learn bus routes so I am not totally reliant upon Para-transit services. I chose to get married
and to pursue personal hobbies and professional goals. It just happens that the goals I chose reflected upward mobility and professional achievement.
Fortunately, No one stopped me in mid-stream and told me that I was making a big mistake and that I should choose another path. It was none of their business what I chose as my life direction.
do I see people who I think have potential to achieve higher status and accomplishments? You bet I do. Is it my business to inform them that opportunities
exist that can provide them with more vocational accomplishment and benefit? You bet it is. That's my job. Is it my business to blast them if they choose a different lifestyle other than the one I think they should? No! It is there that I cross the line and the rehabilitation process reverts back to the days when counselors and professionals told blind people what they were going to do instead of asking them what they wanted to do. I thought that was
what informed choice was all about and the direction that we are supposed to be going. We have created the choice model. We must learn to die by the sword if we want to live by it. We cannot have it both ways.

David Ondech Dallas, Texas USA

**10. > Well, I have spent much time pondering this issue. I have always had low
vision, but it has become worse. I had to go to the Oregon Blind
Commission and become a client for the first time in my life.
I have always worked. I never considered another way. When I came to the Commission, I was stunned by the number of people I met who didn't work and didn't plan on working. Some of the people I met had health problems, some I think were afraid and some, who knows? Some people had lost their sight in middle age and had the resources to live without working.
I am a member of a blind Dragon Boat paddling team. Most of us are in our 40's. Some have been blind from birth, some have lost their sight in the last couple of years. Few of the members have full-time jobs. In fact, it
is not the norm to ask someone "What do you do?".

I feel work is important in our society. I would like to read others' reactions to this article. What is your web site?

Patti DeWitz

**11. Patty, while I've met a number of blind people who aren't actively looking for work, I'll usually learn they did at one time and their opting out now is the result of a profound sense of hopelessness. Often you'll hear them talk as if they are ladies and gentlemen of leisure, but given the opportunity, they'd take jobs. You will, however, find a select few people who just don't want to work and are willing to subsist on the crumbs handed out by society. It's important not to use the exceptions to form your opinion.

Albert Griffith Blind-X

**12. Albert, I may be off base on this one. I have met quite a few people who aren't looking for work. I must be getting a skewed view of the situation. It has been discouraging for me.

Patty Dewitz Blind-X

**13. My name is Edwin and I have been lurking in the background for a while. I just wanted to say that I have known a couple of people who actually have said that they don't want to get a job. They enjoy taking their music classes, which they don't have to pay. They are very busy with other activities and they are pretty happy or so they say. I don't understand it because they are really smart and I know that if they tried or if they had to, they could do really well. There are people are unemployed for no fault of their own, but their are others who this story fit them very well. Sad but true.

Edwin Montanez NFB Rehabilitation Professionals List

**14. Robert asked, in his latest THOUGHT PROVOKER, "So is it okay to choose not to work, to live on a small government check, live in public housing and basically hang out with your friends?"

Being a success, in my mind, is doing what you want to do, when you want to do it. People work to support the lifestyle they want to enjoy. Those who want a better lifestyle, can work harder, or work more jobs, if that will get them where they want to be.

But if someone is quite content, right where he is, why work any more than is necessary?

And if one is content, and isn't working at all, because he is on
disability, why should he go get a job, that will probably not pay him any more than he is already receiving in his government check, and have to put up with all the stress and other nonsense associated with working?

Also, if he gets a job, he'll probably lose his monthly check immediately, and never be able to get it back. And if he gets fired or laid off, and can't get his disability check again, where has his job gotten him?

If he wants to do something useful, because he's bored, there's always volunteer work available.

And don't worry about what others think. They're not paying your bills.

We only live once. It is better to enjoy our lives now, as we'll never get a second chance to do so!

George RPlist

**15. You mean there's nothing wrong with this guy? He's completely able bodied. He just happens to be blind, and he thinks this gives him the right to be a lazy lay about? What a worthless piece of trash! If there really were blind people like this, I'd hate their guts. Fortunately, I think you pretty much made this creep up.

For myself, I find it a continuing pain and humiliation that I cannot work; and this even though I am physically disabled as well as legally blind, and no one has ever seriously suggested that I have reason to be ashamed of my lack of employability. Guess I just don't know how to kick back and enjoy the good life.

But don't the suckers who support him in this excellent life style ever check up on him? They check up on me. They send a guy around once every five years or so to make sure I'm still blind and crippled and unable to work or to live on my own. And, I have to be very careful to kiss the guys ass. The last inspector was furious that my parents, and I, live in a pretty and large Victorian house on a nice street. He was also P.O.ed that my dad is a retired naval captain - the inspector was retired Army enlisted - and that I have more education than he does. Apparently, he barely graduated from college, and here I have a Master's. He was really nasty, and there were several letters back an forth before the powers that be told me I didn't have to worry about losing my benefits. I wonder what that inspector, or any inspector, would make of our noble hero.

I also wonder what his social worker or other support people think of him. And what about his family? Surely his parents aren't happy to have a bum for a son. Why doesn't somebody tell him to get off his rear-end and do something useful? He could get a part-time or volunteer job. He could take a class, either in a classroom setting or by correspondence or over the Internet. Or he might start a pot garden on his balcony. While reading and hanging out with friends are certainly important activities, especially reading, these are not activities to which a healthy, able bodied young man should be content to confine himself. He needs to get a grip and get his lazy ass in action.

Creeps like this give all disabled people a bad name. At the same time, I have an uncomfortable feeling that he may be the stereotype sighted/able-bodied people have of the disabled.

Kerry Elizabeth Thompson

**16. The young man in this scenario has considerably expanded the scope and meaning of 'informed choice'. Rehabilitation law and regulations elaborate the concept of 'informed choice 'as a choice of a job, a career, a vocation or a profession. While the notion of independent living is not unknown in rehabilitation, it is generally a status outcome for persons who are older and blind and not in the market for employment. Our general notion of a lifestyle typically mans the sort of life we live as supported by whatever economic activity we enter and pursue. So, a lifestyle is just something we can afford to support. Our hero in this story has broken that mould and decided that he prefers a style of living that does not require him to identify himself as a worker in one or another category, teacher, lawyer, truck driver, ditch digger, police officer, etc. He is just what he has chosen to be and has banished the ghost of guilt over not being one of those meaningful social creatures, worker and productive and contributing member of society. His material needs have been stripped down to the bare minimum and his other activities have been shaped to his inclinations. His chances of being emotionally and mentally healthy have been enhanced by rejecting the stresses of job-seeking and job-keeping and application-rejection and a dozen other hassles associated with the economic system. Should he feel guilty about public support? Well, whether we acknowledge it or not, we can't; work without some public supports that the taxpayers contribute: roads to get there, places to park, warm buildings, subsidized food products because of our farm policies and innumerable other services ;and
resources. We have chosen, as a society, to require work as a price of having an identity, but every once in a while, a generation or a few individuals reject all the frills that go with keeping up appearances of good contributing citizens and simply live according to an informed choice of lifestyle. It looks like our hero hasn't bought into all of that and has chosen to avail himself of our society's much praised individual freedom. Obviously, we would have a different kind of world if everyone made this choice, but who's to say that it would not be a better world!

James S. Nyman Lincoln, Nebraska USA

**17. The guy in this Provoker is obviously one who spends half his nights up and about, possibly talking on the phone. So many of the blind do this, rather than
arising three or four or more hours earlier, in order to make time for showering, shaving, making the bed, and breakfast. Does the guy always "grab a burger"
with his friends, instead of buying his own food and packing his lunch, which would be more economical, and more nutritious? He cannot afford to pay for
renting a DVS film so near the end of the month, which he would be able to easily do if he shopped for his groceries, etc. If he has a computer, he might
be able to shop online, as I do, or even by phone. One can understand why he would shuffle to the bathroom, possibly even inside each closet, his being
groggy. But why would he have to search for his clothes and cane? Why are they not always in the same places? Why are his clothes not beside his bed, say,
or hanging in a specific place? Why is his cane not, say, leaning in a corner beside his apartment's outside door? Is he not aware that he can lean a cane
in a corner, be the cane rigid, collapsible, or telescopic? Why is he so accustomed to public assistance as to be adamantly opposed to work for himself,
or even for his friends? This doesn't quite make sense. If working, he could have so much more money, and his life would not be so drab. How can he like
himself, really? Is he not preaching good-sounding philosophy to himself, without living it?

Jeff Frye Overland Park, Kansas (USA)

**18. Most of the time I usually pass up the thought provoker because it's not worth much thought. After reading the provoker and the thread that followed I realize the scenario stated is a gross generalization of the lives of blind people. What is most important isn't what is said, but what's not said. The other list members have aptly stated that the provoker doesn't give the whole picture of the prior experiences of the person with regard to job hunting or the lack of opportunities available. The writer also portrays the life of someone
living on SSI and in government housing as being somehow good. This is far from the truth as some on this list can attest. Obviously this person has never had to live under the conditions that one has to face when living on any kind of government assistance. I noticed that Mr. Newman never posted a response to the thread. One other issue that hasn't been addressed is the fact that the rehabilitation agencies don't adequately prepare their clients for the rejection they face in the real world. While they focus on training and/or college education
they don't assist them in finding jobs while in school. I believe this
is wrong because in many cases the students are ill prepared for employment on completing the training. This problem along with the
discrimination many of us still experience are major contributing
factors in the high rate of unemployment among the blind. As someone who has worked at a low paying job in the past and who was never really able to realize my goals I understand the frustration felt by others in the same situation. I can't believe anyone would actually buy this stuff about living the "good life," on the system. I like others on the list believe that many of us would take a decent job if it would get us off the system.

Russell Schermer Blind-X

**19. If a person is happy with his/her choice not to work, I see no problem with it. I do not think this is a moral issue. As long as a person is able to respect and like himself/herself, this is all that really matters. It is more financially restrictive trying to live on a fixed income.

Lauryn Mathena-Armstrong Blind-X

**20. I don't think there are many that wouldn't work if they could. Society doesn't make it easy on blind people and many give up. I don't think there are many that didn't make an effort before ending up like this man. Is a sad story repeated all to often.

Charlie Web Blindfam
My Web Site

**21. First off, very few blind folks actively choose unemployment and welfare.

So long as visually impaired and blind folks make reasonable and serious efforts at employment they should not feel guilty about not being employed. Our society, and others as well, simply don't provide enough opportunities to blind and visually-impaired job seekers. Unemployment rate has been around 70 percent for decades, through good times and bad. This is a failure of the larger society, not the visually impaired.

Will Smith RPlist

**22. Let's be real here. Most employers, if given a choice, would probably choose a sighted person over a blind person for the same job, no matter how qualified the blind person is. Excuses would range from "better qualified" to "extra liability insurance". Sad but true.

Another reality: not all blind people are qualified to do jobs that would pay a living wage. My husband's job has hung by a thread since September 11 and the thread is fraying fast. If the business goes under, he may not be able to find another job. He is pushing hard at 63 years old with many of the health problems associated with RP, and not even considered employable. He cannot craft beautiful furniture, isn't a master chef, and has no real training in anything he could develop into a job paying more than minimum wage.

One final reality: While some people find a reward in being mentally productive, it's hard to fulfill oneself in menial labor, which is often all that is offered. Not everyone is cut out to be a computer programmer, professor, social worker or counselor either. Washing dishes just doesn't cut it for productivity, and let us please have no false humility about it being honest labor.

Lastly, even if one were to find a job with minimum wage pay, he would risk losing his disability benefits, including Medicare, without both of which families like us would be up a financial creek, as people on disability are usually not considered insurable either.

So yes, I can surely see why some people prefer not to work.

Carolyn RPlist, Clearwater, Florida USA

**23. Carolyn is right on the mark. We have to be better than our sighted friends in order to have any chance at good employment.

I was very fortunate because my RP didn't really "kick in" until I was almost 50 years old, so I had already had a successful teaching career. At the age of 51, I went on long term sick leave because of my deteriorating eyesight; this lasted for an entire year, at the end of which I had used up my accumulated sick leave. This also meant that I was still on full salary for my first year since leaving my job.

At the age of 52, I officially retired. That one year of sick leave gave lots of time to do the paper work for my pensions. I now receive a full teacher's pension and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefits.

If I had entered an advanced stage of RP at an earlier age and if I had been urged to retire at such a young age, I would have been forced to live on a significantly lower income.

My heart aches for some of the blind people I have met in the past few years who never had the opportunity that I had to make it in this sighted world. Many have tried to find meaningful employment, but have been "shot down" at every corner.

In my own case, I felt that I could have continued on the job longer,
but I was under tremendous pressure to "pack it in," so I did.

Just my 2 cents worth for today,

Don Moore RPlist
9 Dobbin Street
Rothesay, NB Canada E2E 2P7
Tel: 506-847-2539

**24. Don's story sounds so much like mine. The only difference is I'm ten years younger. Between RP and burn out after 17 years of Special Ed., I was ready to move to something else. I will never understand why employers recognize a disability and assume we don't need or want to have a chance to be employed. My supervisor presented the idea that I needed to retire. I would make more than I would in the classroom. I am not sure what planet she is from, but I really wish she would go home. It seems that those with 20 20 don't see where a person that is different from them could
possibly serve any purpose or make any positive contribution to their world. Their loss. They're the ones that are closed minded and can't see past their nose.

Tammy Carrithers RPlist

**25. I am an Electronic Engineer but 4 years ago I was forced (by RP) to leave my job, which involved some overseas travel, flying to barren locations in helicopters. I'm in a very fortunate position as I am on LTD from my company and am financially secure.
I don't like being at home rather than being productive but having a wife and kids in university to support I wouldn't throw away their
security by taking some uninteresting, unchallenging job - washing
dishes doesn't cut it. Part of my LTD comes from the Government and I'm sure they would love the excuse to "cut me off" if I started some type of work

Perhaps there is a balance. I find satisfaction and usefulness in other ways, for some who are able there may be volunteer work or a new found hobby. These can be rewarding and suit limitations. Perhaps visiting the old people who are so lonely and would love some-one to talk to I think we can dwell on what we can't do but perhaps we now have opportunities to be of service to others with what we can do

Graham Langford RPlist

**26. The thing that always bothers me about those who condemn welfare recipients and those who can't find employment is that they seem incapable of showing any charity and respect for their fellow human beings. I've never known anyone who found welfare life to be the good life--and I mean no one. Many folks work long hours in school training and special programs just to get their foot in the door of the working life. If one finds someone who's supposedly content not working it's often because of overwhelming problems in finding gainful employment, addiction to alcohol or drugs, mental illnesses, etc. I believe there are far more lazy folks among the very rich who do little work and live off the accumulated wealth of their inheritances or their good fortune in investments or job experiences as highly paid business leaders.

Will Blind-X

FROM ME: As can be seen after the name of several of these responses, they come from one of the 15 different listservs where I belong. Know that I include the following statement in each of my postings of a THOUGHT PROVOKER to one of these forums- “If you have not read the PROVOKER, it follows. See what you think! Recall that I collect responses and place them upon my website for all the world to read and learn from. If you would like to have responses sent directly to you, join THOUGHT PROVOKER.” this is to alert anyone who may use the subject line relating to the THOUGHT PROVOKER thread, that I may use the contents of their message in the THOUGHT PROVOKER forum. Note I do not use all responses written to the listserv under my original subject field, fore as many of you who belong to a listserv, a thread of discussion, though it may start out on topic, it can quickly drift off into a different stream of thought. I will also say here, that I will most times delete the name that the message is specifically addressed to.

**27. I agree with you one hundred percent. there is no doubt in my mind that the number of blind persons who have never tried to work percentage wise is lower than the same for sighted persons. Those who condemn welfare recipients or those who live on SSI simply do not have a clue about how marginal this life style is.

I do not believe people resort to these things as a rule just because they feel it is an easy way out. There is nothing easy about surviving on welfare.

Lisa Carmelle Blind-X

**28. Often, one's reaction is based on the moment and, hence, can differ dependent upon when one reads it. Hence, after all the negatives thrown at the character, I reread it this morning.

I upon reflection find it hard to imagine how anyone could romanticize this individual as the ideal to be strived for. If living without work is
so idyllic for a blind person, this individual will hardly create that

Here we have an individual who sleeps late likely because he has nothing better to do. He likely lives in a dingy apartment. To fill his time, he hangs out in a park with similarity minded people. They do lunch - but hardly the kind of social lunch I would prefer at say an Applebee’s, an Olive garden, or a nice cafe.
Their entertainment, for later in the day to kill time, is renting a video assuming someone has enough money to do that.

This kind has no meaningful commitment to anyone or any cause, no family, no resources to do anything. Yes, he rationalizes his situation, but that is what it is -- nothing more.
There are no vacations to look forward to, little can be bought, clothes are likely to be tattered, et al.

It is little wonder why the hopes of a national organization of the blind
is so appealing both emotionally and socially. The state or national
convention, along with the monthly meeting and perhaps activities of the special recreation district, may be the only diversion from this humdrum existence.

So, if one wishes to paint a picture of what it means not to work for a
blind person, this is perfect as it ought to inspire anyone to why they
want to work to avoid living the life of this guy.

I also suppose we can explain psychologically why he's ended up in the gutter perhaps as a result of continual rejection. I cannot see this guy, if he existed, being a role model for anything.

Mike Pietruk Blind-X

FROM ME: How would a consumer group of the blind help?

**29. Your "guy" does something else for me also. Upon occasion, I get down thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else and how much better someone else may have it. That may well be true, but, of course, that too could be surface only.
But, "your guy" has absolutely nothing in his life other than time to fill and kill. No matter what I may not have, I *definitely* am blessed with
things this "guy" can apparently only dream of including a great wife, the ability to be able to afford experiences, a stimulating Church, et al. Sure, I can also pinpoint shortcoming and disappointment (who can't), but they pale in comparison to our fictitious hero.

Mike Pietruk Blind-X

**30. I have nothing against blind individuals who choose this lifestyle, but I am personally against living this way for several reasons. First, I simply dislike the idea of receiving government money when I am perfectly capable of working. I do not want to be labeled as a dependent, nor do I want to reinforce the public's stereotypes about the blind being unable to hold a job. Second, I feel that, by not working and living off the government, I am short-changing myself. SSI payments offer security, but they're not much of an income. Like most Americans, and particularly as a young person, I have a desire to climb the economic ladder and earn as much money as I can by utilizing my talents and education to the fullest. I also want to make a contribution to my community as I grow older, to give my life meaning and purpose. If I chose to sit back and accept government assistance, I would have no ability to advance my financial standing, a right that all Americans have, and I would be unable to make any meaningful contribution to the world. Third, I do not think that being unemployed by choice and taking government transfer payments is fair or equal treatment of the blind. This only creates a deeper division, or breech, of financial inequality between us and the sighted. Whenever a hard-working sighted person encounters a blind person playing like this, he or she is bound to envy us, reject us and label us as lazy. The negative attitudes against us will continue to grow as long as there are blind persons living on government assistance alone, pulling no weight in the working world, because people will view us as either unemployable, helpless, or unfairly blessed, or a combination of the above. So, it is with careful thought and evaluation that I urge the blind community to seek work, keep studying and developing your talents, and enjoy
your hard-earned salary. SSI is there for us in the rare event that we are temporarily out of work and can't pay the rent or put food on the table; it is not designed for an entire community to live on.

Arielle Silverman NABS-L

**31. It is because of the well-developed reasons you laid out that I, am, against individuals who choose this lifestyle. Our subject in the
aforementioned scenario apparently has the ability to go out and earn money. He certainly has no qualms about admitting that working is simply not for him. Pardon the bluntness, but this is the sort of individual I would strip of SSI benefits in an effort to show him that there are those of us willing to bust our tails in school in an effort to make a decent living for ourselves, a decent living that precludes the necessity to live off the government. Unfortunately, it would be virtually impossible to make this service a case by case analysis, so there will always be a good number of perfectly intelligent students who will, you'll pardon the French, piss their lives away. For some, there is an excusable reason for their dependency. For others, dependent is all they ever want to be.

Humbly submitted,
Joe Orozco NABS-L

**32. I have found this is "Conditioning" not choice. The blind person is acting out what's expected of him. Feelings of inadequacy are common among disabled persons. Assuming we would rather live on charity than work for a pay check to advance our lifestyles is simply not realistic.

Diane NFB Rehabilitation Professionals Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

**33. I think he likes his lifestyle and that is good but he shouldn't depend on the big G for support he should get a job because he is very capable of doing so.


**34. OUCH! This one has really rubbed me the wrong way.
I don't know that this has to do specifically with being blind but, more generally, with being disabled in any way such that a person is eligible for financial assistance from the government. I don't consider receiving public assistance is a "lifestyle" choice. It certainly is not one I have, as an able-bodied person.
If I "chose" not to work, I do not think I would be able to have the lifestyle this person has "chosen". If this person has the ability to hold a paying job, why shouldn't he/she? I believe this attitude does a lot of harm and continues the myth that disabled people are not capable of working.

Public assistance programs are not my area of expertise but I think that most are now providing some incentives to get people to work. So, they could perhaps continue with some degree of assistance while also earning a paycheck. If a disabled person does not have the "earning" power to get a job which would enable them to live a halfway decent life or to earn more than what they would get on an assistance program (which includes the benefits of health
insurance) this type of hybrid program would allow a lifestyle which is above the poverty level and have the confidence that they are not always on the edge.

I also think that this society has a long way to go to get to the level where the "powers that be" (mostly non-disabled people) provide training and employment opportunities for disabled people so that they will not fall into this lifestyle. I have a blind friend who has a college education and worked most of her adult life as a social worker. She was laid off during hard economic times (at the same time that I was, but I am not disabled). I will never forget
the horror stories she tells about interviews she had with employers who were unbelievably ignorant and were not willing to give her a chance. I especially love the one who asked her if she could use a telephone! When she had difficulty finding a job on her own, she became a client of VR. I was appalled to hear about the jobs they were suggesting to her which were well below her educational level and capabilities. It was as if they were telling her that she wasn't capable by suggesting these menial jobs. After getting that from an agency which is supposed to promote the employment of disabled people, how is she supposed to feel about herself, her abilities and her aspirations?

Another part of this story, the one which struck me first, was that the narrator has a number of "blind friends". I live in a state which is predominantly rural and most blind people I know (I am a mobility instructor) are very isolated and do not have much opportunity to socialize with other blind people because of lack of transportation and the simple fact that it is a low incidence disability. This seemingly "routine" get-together related in the story
is quite foreign to what I have experienced in this state. I think most blind people would find that a work experience would offer wonderful opportunities for meeting other people and so, would benefit them in that way as well as having a salary which would offer them more choices and opportunities in life.


**35. Not everyone wants to be a millionaire, just like not everyone wants to be a homeless bum. It is sometimes fate, but also controlled destiny that allows us to live the lifestyle that we want to live as blind people. If the person in the story is happy and content on his life style of living in a apartment on SSI then be it. Granted that he is part of that Unemployment statistic, but... I know two examples of people in this lifestyle to illustrate if they
are happy then so be it. one is a pretty smart guy. he is in Texas, and he lives on SSI. he is Hispanic as is the rest of his community. he has never been taught the value of money, or rather what the possibilities are, and honestly doesn't care. To him, as he has been taught from birth, living with three families in a two bedroom house, that $500 is a lot of money. he doesn't splurge on luxuries, but at the same time doesn't use it carelessly. His
OVR counselors tried to get him into a vet's clinic as a Vet assistant, but he honestly was making more on SSI, so that is where he is. And he is happy with that. Another example, a friend in my home town who is also blind. She is involved in volunteering, is a proud member of her church, takes care of her neighbors, but is happy on SSI, she is content, and willing to live that way. Personally, I am in college so I can have a better lifestyle. I know what it is to be poor, and what it is to have some money, and personally I love working. I do Receive SSI like in this story, but I also have a job
that pays a bit above minimum wage and am happy working at it, even if it is only five hours a week. But the SSI helps out with expenses. When I was in HS I was also a tutor for middle school students, I was definitely not in the job for the money, making about Twenty bucks a pay period, but for the pleasure and challenge. Life style is whatever you want to make it. it is a decision and something that you can change if you work hard enough, but letting someone come in and tell you are wrong because you choose a certain way to live, either on the government tab or working for a living, is wrong. it is your decision, no one else's, that you are where you are.
just my opinion.

Shelley Rhodes

**36. Far too many blind folks don't manage to find worthwhile employment most of these certainly actively choose it!

Will Smith Blind-X

**37. In the general population, including the blind, there are a few who would rather collect the dole. To assume that a majority of any group has this attitude is not only offensive, it is highly illogical, absurd and flies against very easily obtained facts.

I have never met a blind person who does not want a good job, in person or on the net. I allow that there are a few, but they are a very few.

Dan Blind-X

**38. Re: New THOUGHT PROVOKER- Blindness and Lifestyle
Nowadays, the government makes lifestyles such as the one described in this story possible. If you live in subsidized housing and receive Supplemental Security Income, you could probably get by without working. For this reason, I have considered quitting my job so I would have more time to write and eventually make money from my writing. But it would be unfair of me to take money from the government as long as I am capable of working.

There are people who are unable to work due to a disability or ailment. Also, there are single parents who can't work because they can't afford child care. And perhaps the government gives too much money to people like the main character in the story and not enough money to those who really need it. Being blind does not give a person an excuse to be lazy. People like the gentleman in this story need to learn a trade and get a job, thus functioning normally
in society.

Abbie Johnson Sheridan, Wyoming, U.S.A.

**39. Unfortunately, it is easy for a blind person, who is alone, to fall into this situation. True, society makes it easy with a lot of social programs to help. Some people will see these public freebees as a hand out and some will see it as a hand up. If he has little ambition and doesn't want to improve his situation for himself or his family, if he were in a different situation, then this is the life he will choose. that is too bad, but there's not much we can do about it. I'm sure a lot of us may know some blind people like this accept I personally do not know anyone who lives like this who would not like to have a job. I think those who we can recognize in the depiction of this story would really like to better themselves, but didn't get the training,
or somewhere, perhaps early on, didn't develop the self esteem to strive for more.

Tom Rash, Executive Director AUDIO VISION Radio reading service
phone: 909-797-4336
Fax: 909-797-3516
Web Site:
enjoy reading audio books? sign up with through our web site.

**40. This one's straightforward to me. I like money; I like the power it gives me. I worked my butt off to get where I am and I like the self-respect I feel knowing I've done well. Granted, I'd like to win the lottery one day, and you never know, I just might. And sometimes Sue and I have talked about my staying home and being a house husband, which has its appeal. But till then, I can't do that; I'm in need of something more than a check from Uncle Sam.
We have enough trouble with people thinking we're charity cases as it is.

John D. Coveleski New York, New York ( )

**41. Ok, this brings up a question which I think all of us need to
answer. Actually, there are two sub-questions and I think each and every one of us needs to ask them.

What would we do if Social Security went bankrupt and couldn't send that check every month? And the corollary question, why should we be handed government pension money? How would we answer someone walking up to us and asking, "why should I support you?"

Maybe the whole paradigm that we operate under as individual ACB members and as an organization is wrong. Are we placing far, far too much emphasis on some omnipotent government system which can only disappoint us?

If the answer to any of the above questions is, "because we're blind," then can we honestly hope to achieve equality? My sense is that we may not be able to.

I would suggest that one area which could evoke good positive discussion would be the area of personal investment. I firmly believe that even those receiving most or all of their income in government benefits need to consider the question and to perhaps consider devoting some portion of their incomes to some kind of investment or savings plan.

What do others think?

Dave McElroy ACB-L

**42. (In answer to the response above) The fact is that in this country, the portion of income devoted to savings
has dropped steadily for just about everyone for several years now, and the dramatic drop in interest rates and the stock market has only made things worse. Some of us have seen our retirement savings drop by half in the last 3 years. Many of us may never be able to afford to retire. And we are the lucky ones because we at least have jobs. I can't imagine anyone whose total income being about $800 per month having anything left over to save, and if they did, what kind of return would they get on their investment? It is interesting how attitudes concerning government benefits differ depending on which country you live in. I know n American blind woman who lived in Germany for several years. She was married to a man who earned a good income. She wasn't a German citizen, but was granted a
pension by the German government even though she didn't even apply for it. Yet people who receive SSI which is the closest thing to a disability pension are made to feel like welfare recipients. Is something wrong with this picture?

Andy Baracco ACB-L

**43. Dave McElroy asks:

[DM]: What would we do if Social Security went bankrupt and couldn't send that check every month?

[JM]: Dave, my elementary school buddy, get real; this is the federal
government we're talking about, not the corporate world, which, despite recently disclosed corporate sleaziness, has never attempted to print its own bank notes...i.e., putative legal tender...counterfeiting. How can the federal government of the united states go bankrupt when it can...and will, should your postulated scenario become reality...simply print more money...leveraging our posterity's future into the bargain, thereby "going
bankrupt" in the long run, but that's a whole nuther discussion.

[DM]: And the corollary question, why should we be handed government pension
money? How would we answer someone walking up to us and asking, "why should
I support you?"

[JM]: Well, this is a much more nuance question, given the challenges which
we, as blind persons, face in the labor market. What we, collectively, as blind persons, owe to society is our absolute best efforts to secure
employment, consistent with our talents, knowledge, skills and abilities. Now, If any give blind individual is unable to secure employment due to his abject lack of any marketable skills (irrespective of whether such lack can
be ascribed solely to his blindness, or his blindness, coupled with his
socio-economic condition, lack of access to appropriate rehabilitative
services, etc.), then I have no problem with said individual relying on
government for support. In my opinion, this is simply the price our collective citizenry should rightfully be compelled to pay for sanctioning
an supporting an environment where said blind person was disfranchised from contributing to the labor market. I will tell you and all list members, without embarrassment, equivocation or apology, that, when I was dismissed as the commissioner for the Virginia department for the blind and vision impaired in 1989, I languished for thirteen months, doing all that I knew how to do, attempting to secure a new position, despite being a Harvard law graduate. Did I avail myself of every government support benefit during
that time, damn right I did, and, as I said, without apology. Did I
ardently strive to seek employment during that dark time in my life, again, damn right I did. So, in answer to Dave's query as postulated by his hypothetical member of the general public: "why should I support you", my answer is: "because, despite my best efforts, I have been unable to secure gainful employment." However, please note the phrase, "...despite my best efforts...". The thing which most disturbs me about Robert Leslie Newman's thought provoker is the portrayal of this indolent blind guy who thinks that society owes him a living simply because he's blind, which notion simply
makes me gag, but I'll take that up on the provoker forum if I choose to.

[DM]: Maybe the whole paradigm that we operate under as individual ACB members and as an organization is wrong. Are we placing far, far too much emphasis on some omnipotent government system which can only disappoint us?

[JM]: Well, Dave, I don't know whether there is an ACB paradigm in play here...remember, this is Mr. Newman's thought provoker, but if I might presume to characterize ACB's position on this issue, it would be: (1) give
us equal opportunities to participate in the labor market...i.e., equal
education, access to all necessary rehabilitative services, , etc.) or, (2), pony up for failing to do so; the distinct preference being for option 1.

John McCann ACB-L

**44. (Written to the above response) Most well said. I might add that there are other barriers to employment including lack of accommodations in the workplace, transport, stereotyping,
prejudice and outright discrimination. However, I agree that one should at least make the attempt. Given our SGA I've often sacrificed and at least worked for less than others (keeping my benefits) but working and contributing nonetheless.

Others also contribute as homemakers which given the need for child rearing is not the least bit dishonorable a profession.


Joe Harcz ACB-L

**45. When I read the "life style" thought provoker, I thought of life style as including more than living on Social Security. In our society, if you're not working, you lack a certain credibility, as well as access to friends, a support network, or even a reason to get up in the morning. Whether it's perseverance or dumb luck, almost all my adult life has been spent either in school, working, or
raising a child. So, my response to someone who might ask me why he/she should pay for my keep, I can say "you aren't. I paid into that myself".

Whether or not we are working, we do share many experiences that are unique to blind people. We use talking computers and complain about the ways in which technology still doesn't make us equal. Our non-disabled friends don't know what we're talking about. We have guide dogs to get around, making our pool of available friends limited to dog people. If we do have sighted friends, the car eventually poses problems of equality. Not having a car not only limits our transportation options, but makes it hard for
sighted people to identify with us.

I remember reading "Moving Violations" where John Hockenberry talked about his disabled friends and his non-disabled friends, and how it never seemed to happen that
they got together. This happens in my life. Sometimes it feels like leading a double life. I remember trying to explain the Des Moines convention, and how we all got lost on the skywalks and the dogs had all these problems, and all of a sudden realized my
sighted friend was as lost as we were.

Abby ACB-L

**46. I've been thinking about this one for awhile. My conclusion is that this individual is probably living the life style which he has been dealt.

We all know that, despite all the laws and advocacy organizations and individual counselors advocating for clients, there are still more employers who will not give a blind person a chance. Likewise, there are still those rehab professionals who don't do as much as they could or should to guide the client to a job which would pay more than the government provides for no work.

So, when a blind guy finds himself in a position with no job, maybe it's
easier to enjoy what he has than it is to fight the system. It's likely that
he doesn't truly believe that his friend is unfortunate, because he got
called back to work and isn't on the forced vacation any longer. If this
individual has never known how it feels to get up everyday and go to a job, his life style is normal for him and nothing to be sad about. Until someone or something motivates him to strive for something different, he will be content, enjoying what he has and the friends with whom he shares this life style.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, Pennsylvania USA

**47. I wouldn't exactly call it a 'lifestyle' of the blind. Some blind people work. Some don't. To some extent, working is a choice. If this person is content not being employed and can afford to live than so be it.

Patricia Hubschman New York USA

**48. I get the feeling that, at one time, he'd been looking for a job only to be denied because of his lack of skills and/or because employers don't want to go out of their way to make accommodations despite the ADA. Regardless of whether or not he found a job or was, at one time, hired but lost his job,
the results of his daily schedule is still the same--getting together with friends at the park, reading books all day and all night, or whatever other few things he ever has planned for the day. As I mentioned in my responses on the ACB-L list, while there are those who don't get a job due to lack of skills or qualifications, there are others of us who remain unemployed through no fault of our own. I am such a case.
It sounds like this guy has grown accustomed to not working; thus, his full dependence on that monthly government check and not caring whether or not he becomes rich or stays poor. If he was, at one time looking for a job or was laid off like his friend was, he's probably resigned to taking in his current lifestyle rather than sit around and mope about it. While there are many out here who lack skills or qualifications for the jobs they want to work in, there are also many of us who do have the skills and qualifications but just cannot get in through the door because of needed work experience or, as I
said, employer's unwillingness to make accommodations. Those of us who are in the second category get to a point where we have no choice than to become accustomed to such a lifestyle of poverty, unemployment, living in Public Housing, or whatever else is in the lifestyle of one who's unemployed. I, myself,
would rather be working, but the lifestyle of being unemployed and living from one check to the next is what I settle with even if I may not be living in Public Housing but own a home.

Linda USA

**49. This story did provoke some thought. I have one friend whose goal in life is to figure out how many checks they will qualify for. My personality doesn't allow for this line of thinking. I don't want to feel like I am dependent on others for my financing. I have always wanted to earn my own way. I don't want to spend my days moving from one handout line to another. Just take what we want you to have can't be good for self esteem. I have to have a purpose for living. filling my day reading a book or watching a movie is fun for a little while, but doing it just because that's all there is to do becomes useless and boring. Helping others provides me with personal satisfaction. My mind and body have to have something to do. I might not have the answers, but I am willing to find someone’s that does. Yep, got to have a purpose. RP only affected my vision, not the mind or the body. Even with limited vision I still have determination, willingness and intelligence. Visual acuity
doesn't take away from who I am. It is the attitudes of others that do have a great influence on what I can do. Sighted people seem to think they know what I can and can't do. They apparently think there is a relationship between visual acuity and intelligence. They are smart and useful because they have 20 20. I on the other hand have limited intelligence because I have limited vision. Maybe one day the sighted world will be made aware that the optic nerve doesn't limit brain function. And that the eyes are only one part of the body, not the entire person. I don't want to be put in the basket with
those that just want to live on what others have given them.

Tammy Carrithers

**50. Personally I could not imagine living that type of
lifestyle. Unfortunately the statistics for people who are blind finding
appropriate employment are not very good. I enjoy my job and I'd be very upset if I were unemployed.

I guess if he's happy with his present situation that's okay, but I wonder if his choosing to not look for work keeps the stereotype of blind people not wanting or able to work alive.

Janet Ingber Queens, New York USA

**51. I struggle with my feelings about this issue. while I do understand that sometimes the difficulties we encounter when attempting to remain employed can be overwhelming, I do not believe that receiving benefits is a god-given right to which we are entitled, no questions asked. I do believe that we should always be striving to get off the roles. If it is not possible, then that is one thing. But we should not just expect to be taken care of. We should always strive to become financially solvent to the best of our ability. If doing so means maintaining some disability benefits, then so be it. but we should never stop trying to be less dependent on the support of that system.

Jeanette Kutash

**52. At first, this short piece was upsetting to me -- the person is doing very little with his life --, but who am I to judge what another does with his time. It sure isn't for me. I'd become insane if I couldn't or wouldn't be involved with work and community service. It seems to me that this unfortunate person has learned to depend on the government and society, instead of taking hold and trying to help himself and others. In other words, he sounds like a tax taker instead of a tax payer. He seems to be a product of the welfare syndrome, a government welfare check (probably SSI), subsidized housing, and being satisfied to just make do. Waking up at 10:30 and only looking forward to meeting friends in the park don't seem like much of an existence to me. Unfortunately, society tends to think that people with disabilities, especially those of us who are blind, aren't able to do things, so are accepting of behavior or life styles such as mentioned in this Provoker.

On the other hand, what else is going on here? How severe is this person's emotional problems? What are his cognitive abilities? What kind of encouragement or expectations has he received while growing up? It sounds like he associates with others who seem to believe as he, so is not being exposed to other
points of view. I'd be willing to bet that he isn't involved with consumer groups, such as the NFB or ACB.
The more I think about and respond to this Provoker, the more I realize that my negative reaction is partly due to his apparent unwillingness to advocate for change or betterment, I'm also reacting to the fact that most people with disabilities tend to expect others to do the advocating for them.

Doug Hall Daytona, Florida USA

**53. Blind people are just that--people. That makes us human. When I see how easy sighted people find jobs, I am, to put it mildly aghast. For some blind people the road to gainful employment is strewn with ruts and huge boulders, some of those not so easy to negotiate. For some working puts them on a slippery slope where they can loose their grip on keeping body and soul together. A patchwork situation for some blind people involves working and keeping social security payments of kind coming in to make ends meet.
If the person finds a job, the benefits are cut. If the person is fired,
laid off or terminated, benefits can take months sometimes to compensate for the lost wages or to be brought up to the full amount leaving them literally in the lurch, unable to make payments such as rent and other essential monthly payments. Just the fear of that particular unknown keep many out of the job market.

Gerry Mack USA

**54. I am a 24 year old guy who has for all my life strived to be not as good as my sited class mates, but better than them.(went to public school my entire life) I have spent on uncountable days spent twelve to sixteen hours a day after and before classes studying and writing research papers. I with the down cast from the disability office in my college, I thrived for a major in criminal justice and a double minor in psychology and sociology. For many years I have wanted to be a lawyer an I knew that I would have to work very hard to accomplish that. Well things has changed in the year since I graduated
from college with my degree and double minor in four years and I have chose to turn my career attention towards being a counselor for adolescents and children. I am going to be starting graduate school this coming Thursday with my first class and I look forward to many nights of long studying and learning and do what ever it takes to be the best counselor I can be for those kids. I know that not too many people like working with kids but I think it will be
an honor to be working with kids and making a difference in their lives. YES, I know it will not be easy. Yes I know I will even have my days that I will
regret it. In the end. I will be rewarded when some kid walks in to my office and comes ups to me and gives me a hug and says "thank you, you made a difference in my life" I may offend some people but...
If you have to sit on your behind all day and get handed government money for the rest of your life than I do not respect you and I think you are just being lazy. That money could be used for better things than to pay your ticket to a basketball game or to a movie. Go get a job or go back to school and get a better education. The state will pay for you to go. JUST do something productive with your life that will impact other people, not yourself.

ps After I finish looking at my emails I am going back to studying for my MAT exam.

**55. This provoker is interesting and even fascinating. Robert, somebody once told me that if you or what you do does not get much attention then you are probably not doing too much and certainly not much in terms of change. On the other hand they also said if you are causing a lot of attention and controversy, then you must be doing something and probably something constructive. Not sure I agree with all that but I commend you for writing this somewhat exaggerated
and stereotypical scenario about the blind, benefits and beliefs. It is one of those "elephants in the room" that most everyone thinks about, but is not usually talked about, at least not too much.

I was raised in such a way that I came to value working and making my own way. I also learned very quickly that I could get benefits and things "free" because I was blind. I guess the former belief and attitude won out since I gave up my adequate SSDI check for a entry level job, the income of which was less than my check had been. That was my choice. I remember a friend of mine telling me that they believed that SSI and SSDI for the blind was the society's
way of encouraging us to stay out of the job market. It took me about 3 years after college and about 150 interviews to land the entry level job. some of this was due to employer discrimination I am sure but some also due to my own limitation at that time, not the least being attitude. To be sure the blind are a small cross-section of society. Just as in society in general there are some of us who value work, some who work because we must and some who maintain receipt of benefits/assistance due to need and of course some who use the system. However, because we are a small minority, the assumptions
that we cannot or do not want to work or should not have to work and conversely be taken care of and receive benefits is more likely to occur than in the general population about an individual who is not blind. Most people are familiar with folks in society going to work as the norm. Its not seen as unusual. However, because the blind are not that numerous and in particular the number of blind persons is even smaller, the person encountering a blind person
who does not work tends to generalize to many or most of us. The attitude that the blind "should not have to work and deserve benefits" is historically entrenched in our culture and many others . The social programs in this country evolved to where there were understood classifications of "deserving" and "not deserving" poor. For at least the last 60 years I believe this has been true of the blind as a "class" or "minority". to be sure there was and still is a need for basic economic sufficiency which was championed by the blind who organized, supplemented by legislation across the 60 years, some needed and some now perhaps questioned or seen by some as entitlement. so in my view, while societal attitudes are in part responsible for and contributory to our informed choices re employment and self-sufficiency, so too
are our own. The person in the scenario has developed a philosophy about themselves and maybe their friends about work, benefits, responsibility and entitlement. The problem I see is attitudinal, and just blaming society and talking about "freedom" and "choice" doesn't get it for me. If we hold a philosophy that its our choice not to work and get benefits paid for by somebody else and say that we are just like a part of society, then does it make it right for those
who pay the taxes to believe and do the same? More important, if I sit at home and if I can work or get training to go to work ,what does that say, not only about me but about the blind in general. Like it or not because we are a minority, what one of us does or does not do in the public arena can and often does have the effect of reinforcing the stereotypes that support and reflect the attitudes (or s and that of society) which are the major barrier
to equality of opportunity and employment.
There is a price for freedom and a balance between entitlement and responsibility.

Edwin Kunz Austin, Texas USA

**56. Here is my response to Thought Provoker #64
I don't respond to these often, but this one really hit a bit close to home
these days. Because what I have to say here might seem like a sensitive
topic that some blind people, formerly also me, myself, might not understand
until they have gone through it, I would appreciate it if you could include
my post anonymously, for what I have to say here might be very personal to
some, and hard for others to admit that it exists, but I still think it
needs to be expressed, in some form.

In reading a few of the rather judgmental responses that have been submitted
thus far, I have some initial thoughts about this particular Thought
Provoker. How many of us young adult blind people are there out there, who
have grown up in the era of special education laws, with well-intentioned
families, competent teachers/professionals working with us, and even
attending good quality rehabilitation centers, with people around us
constantly telling us that we can do virtually whatever we put our minds to,
as blind people? How many of us have had dreams all but shattered, when
aspiring to do a job that might be considered out of the ordinary for a
blind person, not stereotypical mind you, but an area of work in which blind
people have to jump through major hoops to prove themselves, though for some
of us, support is ultimately lacking, to actually accomplish our dreams when
the rubber meets the road, on jobs, or especially internships? Hey, when
you are placed in an internship, you are *not* an employee, and therefore,
unless they care to, they are not obligated to do anything for you, no
matter how small or trivial it may seem, unless they want to.--You are not
being paid for some of them, unless you are lucky.

Though I don't particularly care for the attitude of the main character
described in the story, as he believes that he is entitled to money from the
government, and claims to be happy about it on the surface, I would remind
all of us to think of the flip side to some of this, where there are those
of us who have pushed and pushed ourselves all of our lives through young
adulthood, to be fully independent, self-sufficient and employed blind
citizens, only to be sadly disappointed and surprised in a big way, when it
feels like the rug has all but been pulled out from under us. After all,
just as happens to some sighted people, there are those of us in this world,
who may eventually burn out, and wind up having to fix things and
re-evaluate our lives later. From personal experience, I am learning the
hard way, what it takes in order to struggle to rebuild the initial success
we had so naively expected of and intended for ourselves, let alone having
to revisit issues of one's self-esteem, self-worth, and issues related to
interdependence, that hey, it is okay to ask for help and learn to rely on
other people. Okay, so maybe independence was stressed a bit too much
somewhere in my life growing up, and I never had to find a middle ground
until lately, though now, I'm having to find it for myself by necessity, and
with occasional professional help. As a side note, it seems that therapists
and counselors are people, too, with their own preconceived notions of
either helpless or super independent blind people, so it does take a certain
informed and open attitude on their part to really and truly be able to help
effectively, when blindness might not be the main issue, though a
significant factor in the complexity of a human being in question.

I'm talking about mental health issues here, folks, though certainly not
those grossly outdated theories that fill certain books about blindness, and
psychological aspects that having a disability might bring in and of itself.
So, I have to be careful here. I guess what I'm saying, is that, as blind
people, since we might represent a cross section of society, that cross
section can and does also include people with mental health issues, some
possibly brought on by stress and other factors, such as various forms of
depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, etc. It used to be, that I
just had blind friends with such issues, and I certainly did not genuinely
understand how that could happen, until I started having some particular
issues of my own. So, I have lived on government benefits while going
through college, and still do, now that I have graduated, and have worked
part time, though I'm not currently employed, not yet, again, anyway.
Granted, many circumstances are a product of choice or responsibility, and I
could probably land a full time job with some decent and committed effort,
but without learning more about various coping and interpersonal skills
beforehand, or finding a better niche for myself these days, I would be
again setting myself up for eventual failure later. Maybe that is just my
current perception of reality, but perceptions and attitudes are the things
that drive us to make the choices we do.

Do I sleep late? Yes, sometimes, if I don't have much of a sense of
direction, energy, or motivation, or I'm not feeling especially good about
my current situation and/or about myself that day, all of which happen to be
some of the symptoms of depression.

Do I go out and do things for fun? Yes, sometimes, especially since I know
that walking, moving around, getting exercise, and even just being out in
the sunlight (this applies to blind people, too), can mitigate some of the
symptoms that depression or anxiety can bring about.

Am I sometimes lazy? Well, unfortunately yes, but hey, it can take a while
in order to dig oneself out of a pretty significant and sometimes recurring
rut, and I cannot be beating myself up over it all of the time. I do know,
and have hope, though, that in time, I will be back to a similar person I
have been in the past, but with some added flexibility, interdependence,
open mindedness, and growth into a better and more human, blind human

I am sure we could have an ongoing debate about whether blind people have to
do equal, vs. more, to compete in a sighted world. However, no matter how
we look at it, some of this competition we do can be stressful, leaving some
of us (sometimes rather high achieving) and rather unsuspecting souls
between a rock and a hard place, if it turns out that we have not quite been
fully psychologically prepared to deal with tough employment situations,
where we don't get much of any kind of support or accommodations that have
been promised, through job sharing/trading of visual tasks etc. We are
blind people living in a world geared for the sighted, and some things may
take more effort, in a not-so-ideal world. So, just a friendly reminder
that there are those of us out there, blind people included, who do get
burned out, and it doesn't mean that we are weak, lazy, incompetent, or not
well adjusted with blindness skills and the like. Unfortunately, as I have
been figuring out, none of us are immune.

I am not writing this response for pity or sympathy, since I don't care for
either one, but just as a reminder, that I, too, didn't think such issues
could happen to me, until they have, and maybe that is a part of life, maybe
some people think that it would be separate from blindness, but as human
beings, we hopefully live as integrated selves, and everything is somehow
interconnected in what makes us who we are, whether it be blindness, mental
health issues, or anything else.

Anonymous, for personal reasons.

**57. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I am appalled at the insensitivity I have read from those responses making judgments about the man in the thought provoker narrative as a *lazy ass*. I am also appalled about such questions as to why his belongings in his apartment are not always in the same place. Yes, it is good to be organized, but, perhaps the man organizes things however he pleases in his home but is more organized in public.
What a person does and how they do their tasks at home is their own personal business.

Without repeating my response from last week or other responses to which I applaud and agree with, I sum it all up as that many of the seventy percent of the unemployed blind would rather work, not be sitting around collecting government checks month by month. Sure, many of us on disability benefits may be earning more and have better medical coverage than if we were working a regular job, but there is still that pride involved in having a regular job. Not only is their more to your daily life, but you feel useful. Yes, there are some blind people who are ill-prepared for work or lack the social
or cognitive skills, but there are many of us who have the skills, have attended four-year colleges, volunteered, etc. only to still remain unemployed due to the lack of opportunities or employers more apt to hire sighted people than blind or disabled people for whatever reason. So, because there isn't much information as to the man's skills, training, education, job-hunting history, etc. let's not just assume that he doesn't have any of the above. He may or may not have the above, but I, because I can relate to such a person like him, choose to assume that he does have all of the above. While it may be true that some volunteer jobs can and do turn into paid jobs, there are more volunteer jobs that do not become paid jobs. Thus, though a person may be volunteering, it doesn't mean that they are employed for pay because they're still having to rely on that monthly check from the Big G. Some people may not mind volunteering, but there are others of us who paid money in to go to school who feel that our skills are worth more than on a volunteer basis. In short, he may have the skills, training, and all the other great stuff needed to obtain employment, and he may have been looking for volunteer and paying jobs for quite awhile, but by the time of such a narrative like this, he had gotten burned out and to feeling defeated, which can
lead to depression and little motivation. We should all learn to be sensitive enough to see this possibility as well.

Linda USA

**58. Hey, I have a friend who lives very much like this. He has not always been blind, but he has always been a welfare minded person. He is a third generation welfare baby. He and his family pride themselves on finding every way imaginary to not have to work. They I think feel they have out smarted us all. They don’t have a lot of possessions, but what they have is of pretty good quality; they buy a lot of used and quality items. They do go and gamble each week and they go in line for give a-ways too. I think they see themselves as people of leisure and do see themselves as having accomplished this feat. After my friend went blind, he started getting SI and before that he didn’t qualify for any special check, so now he is. He and his family now have more than they did and it all comes from the government.

Marsha Illinois USA

**59. I agree partly with this provoker. I don't think money is everything. However, having said that, I don't think it's fair for people to always sponge off the government and not try and do something for themselves. This guy is reading Braille, meeting his friends at the park, etc., but he comes across as just bone lazy. I would be so bored if I were in his shoes. I just couldn't do it! Even if it meant only partly supporting myself by being a street-sweeper or something like that, at least I would feel I was contributing to the community somehow. You can't expect others to help you if you don't at least try
and help yourself.

Nicola Stowe Australia

**60. It gripes me to see such irresponsibility! Whether you are blind or sighted, There is no excuse for it! How anyone can be satisfied sitting idly by and living on government hand-outs is beyond me.

Christy Ocala, Florida USA

**61. Don't usually see this sort of thinking on a young person! Even Tony, an NFB chapter member who found he couldn't find employment is now a full time volunteer at a hospital, check from the big G or not! I usually see this in retired persons, blind or not.

Lori Stayer Merrick, New York USA stylist mailing list

**62. I want to comment on some of the responses I have just read in the present Thought Provoker. If I understand the Thought Provoker it is just a story to make us think and comment. Yet there have been several letters sounding like this is Robert's life, or Robert's way to live. If I understand it, this is just a story to get us thinking and to give our thoughts and comments! But to tear Robert apart just because he wrote this letter I call unfair!

I worked hard for 30 years. I was a registered nurse when one day I was without job and many other aspects of life I had taken for granted. We lived in the country, out of a small town. Although we owned our place, to sell at the value of this area and move to a large city, our money would not get us anywhere. There was no chance for further education in that area and the state only offered me training in what would eventually get me a below minimum wage job, an insult to my college degree. I went on Social Security and for some years also had a work disability check from the hospital where I had
been employed. I do not advocate one just playing the system but there are times when one has to accept what he gets. At the age I was when forced to quit nursing the chances of being rehired, if I could have got more training in some other field were almost none existing. But this does not mean I am not busy! I help better our lives with raising a large garden. We put up a lot of food for the winter time which really cuts on the food bill. True we do not have everything that others might have but it is far better to be happy with what you have then to constantly complain and fuss because another
has more. I agree that the man in the story could do some volunteer work and thus help others. He might live where he could get training in some job field. His life does seem to be that which many think the blind live but we do not know what put him in this position. He could be-moan his disability and worry and fret, thus making himself sick! But he chooses to be happy with his life! When my vision loss left me jobless I did not know another blind person in the whole area. No one who knew me, who knew of my love for nursing and my work ethics ever thought me lazy. There is not a lot of chances for one
with no disability who is in her/his upper middle age bracket and finds him/herself out of a job to find another comparable job. My wife one day found herself out of work and she can not find another job in this area. Though she has no disability, and is well qualified, she is passed over because they want a younger person or they must have one that is bi-lingual. How much harder it is to find work when there is a disability. I did not choose to be content on SS but when there was no other avenue to try I make the best of it. Now, past retirement age, I am thankful for what I have, our car is paid
for and we own our house, and we have no charge card bills. With care, buying things when on special and raising much of our food, we can do okay.

Thank you, Robert, for all the work you put into getting these Thought Provokers out for us to read, comment on and think about! Some of us do appreciate the work you do.

Ernie Jones Walla Walla, Washington USA

FROM ME: Thank you Ernie for your kind words.

**63. I haven't eaten lunch yet, and after reading about 19 of the responses to this provoker, I don't know if I'll be able to eat for the rest of the day. My stomach is very close to "upchuck city" as a friend once called it, over the "reactions," rather than "responses," to this provoker. I do not know how to respond without being similarly judgmental and it's the arrogant, self-serving judgmentalism I find in most of these responses that made my whole system recoil! Indeed, I could not even finish reading this installment. Thank goodness! I still have a heart!

1: The list-owner is one of the least judgmental persons I have ever known and I've known him since he was about fourteen years of age, shortly after he suddenly went from being a sighted teenager, to a totally blind teenager; something that hardly anyone could handle "prettily," and "in a way that pleases everyone who exists."
I think he has handled that transition at the most perplexing stage of his life (teen hood,) far more admirably than many of us, which, for some, brings out judgmentalism, jealousy and wrath. How sad. That, too, is a choice.

2: The story is just a story and it's presentation neither reflects the writer's "bias," nor is criticizing the story, itself, all that productive or useful. The fact that it brought out so much of some persons' "true feelings," shows how well-written it actually is.

3: When a counselor, or anyone in any type of helping situation, looks down on the one he/she is attempting to help, their helpfulness has turned to being just the opposite.

4: I think that one of the reasons there is so much apparently negative stuff going on around us lately is that it has become too easy to live on the surface, labeling those who live their lives more deeply as disdainful, thus giving themselves "permission" to live a shallow life without guilt and not be there for the ones who need help.

5: The philosophy of free choice can be a good one, however, as with any philosophy, it can be taken to extremes. Because one always has choices does not mean that he/she always has better choices, depending on how one might define "better." It appears that many on this list equate "better choices," with physical/economical advancement, rather than spiritual advancement. There are truly some highly spiritually enlightened folks who purposefully do
not choose the "yuppie" lifestyle, as some might put it. Material wealth is temporary for anyone who attains it; they will not take all of that with them when they go. However, one has the option, in our country anyway, to make those material choices and live with them and enjoy it, but this does not make one "better" or "more adjusted," or "more rehabilitated," etc. Things happen in many persons' lives that they never planned on. We do not have total control of everything that happens to us because we are not the
only person in the universe, therefore, much of the time, individual wants and needs clash. This can happen especially when social consciousness appears to have been placed in the position of an "on the back burner," in the minds of some. When I was young, for example, I came into the world in a poor family, but I was expected to get the best education, find the best job possible, marry someone
with reasonable means, raise children successfully who would also have these 1950's American ideals. I mistakenly thought these steps on the ladder to success would lead me up and up, like most ladders go--where else could it go? My personal life has had some very unpredictable, not altogether pretty and happy turns and the "ladder," has been more like hills and valleys; mountains and the pits; extremes, for sure. I don't feel that I was all that prepared for the challenges of a living roller coaster, especially with my sensitive
stomach, lol. My "reactions," rather than "responses," have, at times, not been pretty. Several on this list can surely attest to that! However, my freedom to be myself is one of my most highly-prized gifts from the One who created me. I suppose I could have made choices that everyone supposedly has, to make my life "easier," whatever that really is, however, what I would have ended up with is something referred to in a song that my sister and I wrote back in 1975, quoting Samuel Bacon, the founder of the Nebraska School for the Blind (and it's since frostingly-sweeter names)--"Not just a living
but a life." Some opt for a living; some opt for a life! Some convince themselves they are doing both by doing it materially. Some try to have their cake and eat it, too. Some meddle into the affairs of the lives of others, rather than working on their own. Some totally ignore the shallower side of life. Some believe we each one, have a purpose here. Some do not. Some don't have a clue. Some do have a clue but they're not finding it, looking in other places. And so forth.

grateful to be alive and well in some sense of meaning and cocreativeness.
Bless our cats--they just live their lives without all the judgment.
Buy cat collectibles; subscribe for music legally; join CATLINES; happy holidays from;

FROM ME: Thanks Lauren, I do intend to do my best with this forum; and yes I could make a mistake on how a story is written and if I do I’ll rewrite it.

**64. I held off responding to think a bit. It's hard for me to imagine that the guy you described is real. Most of the people I have met who live in public housing on fixed incomes aren't that self satisfied. They would love to be able to afford those expensive adaptive technological wonders to make life a little easier. They are afraid of their neighbors and feel unsafe in the world because most public housing has a high crime rate. They don't feel good
about themselves, their skills or abilities. From what you gave us, it doesn't appear his independent living skills are very high. That would lead me to assume he isn't good at presenting himself to employers and thus could only expect a low paying job. I guess I would have to applaud his ability to be happy with what life has dealt him. I find it hard to stand in judgment of anyone who does the best he can with what he has so don't want to assume he is lazy or a leech on society. I would be bored, but that is me. I feel that giving back to my friends, my community the world and making things a little better for my having been put into this life is important. But not having made his life journey, I am unwilling to judge him harshly. Many people
in his circumstances are unhappy, resort to drugs or alcohol are bitter, isolated and lonely. At least he has sought friends out and is keeping his mind busy. Perhaps he is only trying to make the best adjustment to circumstances that have limited his choices and opportunities and just surviving the best way he can.

DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega USA

**65. You know, even if the guy in this Thought Provoker were in a consumer group, such as the National Federation of the Blind or the American Council of the Blind, that in itself wouldn't prevent him from making himself a bump on a log. I befriend an acquaintance in my NFB chapter, but not because I like what he does. In his upper 40s, he learned he was going to have to live on his own when both his parents died a year and a half ago; he knew he couldn't live in his parents' house anymore. He lived in an assisted-living facility for around three months, in a hotel for six or seven, and now he is in an apartment, which he hardly knows how to manage, but has women taking care of him 24 hours a day, or thereabouts. Believe it or not, he can neither cut food, use the stove, nor even make a sandwich.
He is on the telephone all day and much of the night. He is often asleep during NFB chapter meetings, if he is even there at all. As our Corresponding Secretary, he usually does not take the responsibility to see that members receive get well or greeting cards when needed, using expense and lack of cab transportation
as a cop-out. Whereas, I constantly use cabs. I am going to do my very best to see that he is not denominated for Corresponding Secretary by the Nominating Committee. Not intending to put myself on a pedestal, the entire chapter acknowledges that as I begin my fifth term, I am doing a much better job as Recording
Secretary; I don't always want it, and would like to see others step in, but I enjoy the work; however, if I return to seminary late this year, they're going to have to elect someone else!
Anyway, just as in the Thought Provoker, this guy talks the talk while preaching Federation philosophy, without walking the walk. I only feel sorry for this guy, who has no sense of humor, calls the police, and tells me to go to hell.

Jeff Frye Overland Park, Kansas USA

**66. It has been a while since I have had the time to respond to the Thought Provokers, though, I have read some responses to many. However, this one in particular, was one in which I thought needed a response. I personally, have an issue with a person whom is blind and sits home to collect Social Security. If a person had multiple disabilities perhaps, the circumstances would be different. I had a friend that was blind and had also a developmental disability. Blindness is the least of her problems. Despite this fact, she is working ( almost full-time 24 hours a week at a well known hotel assisting in Housekeeping) But anyone whom is blind and has no other problems, I think he/she should do their best to find work. I think those whom choose to stay home and do nothing except waiting for their monthly check, has a poor attitude and has given up. We all have choices and the choices we make effect the outcome of our lives. If one chooses to look for job opportunities and not allow employers to discriminate, then he/or she will be successful. Those whom are not proactive will have their choices made for them. And, those whom quit and give in find excuses not to try and do something. Even volunteering would be something in which one is being productive and contributing to society. The individual whom said he does sit home and receives checks and is proud of it because he likes it and has lots of freedom etc...( response # 8) what
makes you think you have more freedom? How can you feel good about not contributing to Society and receiving a check from the Government? One whom is on Social Security has many limitations and very little freedom. I have been on SSI but have been fortunate to either have a job as well or lived with roommates that living conditions were pretty good. We even had money to spend on recreation and/or go out to dinner for example. I have
heard that most people can " get by and live it just making it barely"....Who would want to do this, if they are capable of having some kind of job; even if it is a minimum wage job --- at least the person is working earning some money and contributing something.
Like I said, I have been on SSI but since I have been working full-time for 2 years now, at the Hyatt working as an Office Assistant I no longer receive the checks. And I am happy. of course, we all would like more income but I much rather do without the hassle of receiving letters that are not in accessible format ( This is another topic of discussion for another time) and/or poor communication and incompetent people employed by SSA. They often, make many
mistakes and it takes months to resolve the issues etc....

Karen Hughes USA

**67. I have been employed as a pastor and as a hospital chaplain since my tenure in graduate school ended in 1980. My jobs have been rather spotty and I now find myself with a wonderful education and no job. That's not the way I want it, not the way I envision the rest of my life. Perhaps the guy in the story was never expected to do much in school or perhaps his background suggests a "You owe me," lifestyle. Determined as he is that he can just live off the government checks I have to wonder what his retirement, (if you can call it that) will be like. What kind of legacy will he leave behind?
The image of the blind person begging on the street corner is not one I care for but as I too await that monthly SSDI check, realizing how motivated I am to find work, I have to believe that it's not just a certain percentage of blind folks who lack any kind of work ethic.

Jo Taliaferro Grand Rapids, Minnesota USA

**68. I would say that this story is one I tell people. That I like not working. But the truth is I want to work, but because I can’t find a job I just tell people I don’t want one. Some of my blind friends also act like they don’t care, but its more fear and frustration then anything. So we all put a pretty face on and try to live.


**69. I personally know some blind friends that really don’t want to work. But they tell people they do. they go to the rehab agency and go through the motions and end up not following through with the requirements of their plan. They always find a way to blow their chances. I wish they would just tell the truth. I don’t know why they are like this.

Pircky USA

**70. I’m not usually one for writing a second response, but there are some items here which, at the very least, gave me some pause to think.

First, Mr. Acosta finds the character portrayal in the thought provoker to be insulting, and he accuses Mr. Newman of assuming that "most of the blind live like the jerk you are describing."

I, for one, am not sure I found any such assumptions in Mr. Newman’s sketch at all. Rather, the sketch merely described one, or apparently, a few, blind persons who happen to live this way. It just so happens that the character portrayed here is a stereotype, but whether we like it or not, stereotypes are often based, even to some small degree, on truth. The unidentified person in response (8) underscores this point.

Next, does Mr. Schermer’s objection to Mr. Newman’s failure to post a response to the thread relate to the Thought Provoker itself, or to other blind listservs on which this thought provoker may have appeared? If he means the former, it seems to me that the whole purpose of this listservs is for us to explore our thoughts and feelings about the character portrayed in the thought provoker. If so, it seems pointless that the moderator of a listservs would even want to post his own response to a character sketch he himself created. Might as well talk to himself if that’s the case.

Finally, George in response (14) makes a rather interesting point when he asks why it’s necessary to work any more than necessary. Actually this is a good question. For while I might argue that you’ll respect yourself a helluva lot more when you work hard to get where you want to go than if you just sit back
and let the government or charity pay all your bills, this is the United States, and here we pretty much have the freedom to do as we see fit with our lives whether our neighbors like it or not. Thus it’s the character’s right to live on the dole if he wishes; he’ll just have to live with the consequences of that decision the way we all have to.

Besides, this question may be posed even to those of us who are already working and earning a pretty good dollar. I’ve been told by some that I should be more political and try for a judgeship eventually. Also, my father had a connection years ago with a guy whose brother-in-law works for a pretty high-end law firm here in NYC.

But I don’t like politics, except when I’m viewing it from a distance and a president’s about to be elected or defeated. And as for working hard, I like doing what I’m doing now, even if I don’t have the prestige it may take to be a judge, and even if I’m not killing myself 100 hours a week for billable hours. I have a good life, there’s corn in the field and wheat in the bin.

But do I lack ambition? Maybe not to the same degree as the character in the thought provoker. But then I have to wonder: If it’s all right, at least in my own mind, to stop where I want to stop and not go any further except where I am, then don’t I have to give this guy a break on some level? I mean, we both stopped at a certain point. I wonder if the only difference between me and him is that in my own estimation, at least, I’m better than he because I haven’t chosen to be a charity case.

But then, I work for the State. Hmm. Aren’t I getting a government check too?

John D. Coveleski New York, New York USA (

**71. I found this topic very interesting. My husband is deaf/blind. Yes, he receives disability checks. However, he is going to school to get a college degree. We do have hopes that once he graduates, he will find a job. For him to find work now without a degree would be impractical. He would bring home substantially less than the monies he receives now. We have 3 children, two of our kids also have a hearing loss/vision loss. In our situation, we are doing what we
think is best. I think we should not judge others so quickly, everyone's situation is different. And I know there is so much discrimination out there, I am deaf myself. It is not easy to find work (especially in today's economy). I am not making excuses for anyone, just stating today's reality. It
is my hope that someday all disabled people will have an equal place in society.


**72. Like many I have not responded to one of these in a while. I'm interested to see many of the responders thus far presume this individual to be young and receiving a check from SSI or SSDI and not done anything with his life. The individual in the TP could be a military person retired, collecting Social Security Retirement. Person may be able to collect Veteran's benefits as well, but may not need to or choose not to. Government housing may also refer
to Veteran Housing. Person may have wanted to learn Braille to read. Picture someone 55 years young, blind by any ailment or accident. Person may have worked a lot pre-blindness. Being 55 and blind may have the thought of I've done my contribution to Society let younger people contribute now.

GK Texas USA

**73. My response to the latest thought provoker was somehow not sent in its entirety. somehow, only the first half of my post was sent. Not sure how that happened. As you will see below, it is all here. would you mind sending it again in the next installment for it would make more sense in its completion. I would appreciate it.


It has been a while since I have had the time to respond to the Thought Provokers, though, I have read some responses to many. However, this one in particular, was one in which I thought needed a response. I personally, have an issue with a person whom is blind and sits home to collect Social Security. If a person had multiple disabilities perhaps, the circumstances would be different. I had a friend that was blind and had also a developmental disability. Blindness is the least of her problems. Despite this fact, she is working ( almost full-time 24 hours a week at a well known hotel assisting in Housekeeping) But anyone whom is blind and has no other problems, I think he/she should do their best to find work. I think those whom choose to stay home and do nothing except waiting for their monthly check, has a poor attitude and has given up. We all have choices and the choices we make effect the outcome of our lives. If one chooses to look for job opportunities and not allow employers to discriminate, then he/or she will be successful. Those whom are not proactive will have their choices made for them. And, those whom quit and give in find excuses not to try and do something. Even volunteering would be something in which one is being productive and contributing to society. The individual whom said he does sit home and receives checks and is proud of it because he likes it and has lots of freedom etc...( response # 8) what
makes you think you have more freedom? How can you feel good about not contributing to Society and receiving a check from the Government?
One whom is on Social Security has many limitations and very little freedom. I have been on SSI but have been fortunate to either have a job as well or lived with roommates that living conditions were pretty good. We even had money to spend on recreation and/or go out to dinner for example. I have heard that most people can " get by and live it just making it barely"....Who would want to do this, if they are capable of having some kind of job; even if it is a minimum wage job --- at least the person is working earning some money and contributing something.
Like I said, I have been on SSI but since I have been working full time for 2 years now, at the Hyatt working as an Office Assistant I no longer receive the checks. And I am happy. of course, we all would like more income but I much rather do without the hassle of receiving letters that are not in accessible format ( This is another topic of discussion for another time) and/or poor communication and incompetent people employed by SSA. They often, make many mistakes and it takes months to resolve the issues etc....

We all would love to have more time to do things. There often seems that there are not enough hours in a day to get everything done. And we all enjoy our freedom. This is why we all live in the good ole U.S. of A " the Land of Opportunity" where we have lots of freedom and opportunity. Yet--- I believe,
those of us whom work have more freedom than people like this Guy in this " thought provoker". For those of us whom work, we are likely to earn more income and thus have more money to spend. We can go on vacations, attend more social gatherings,
occasionally buy something new a luxury of some kind --- a gadget for the home, a cell phone, or things such as descriptive Videos.(Darrell and I have a very nice collection of DVS movies some of which we bought with our hard earned money)
In addition, we have made the choice to find work. When we are out of work for one reason or another, we get back out there pounding the pavement. Like many, we may feel depressed and discouraged...But, we get back up and try again until another employer hires us. I have wanted to quit sometimes myself, but I did not. If I had this attitude with College, I would not have graduated with my Degree in Psychology. Moreover, I have chose to do what I can to find a job. If I had to improve skills and make myself more marketable -- I did it. I also gave lots of thoughts on
what my skills are, my interests and needs are. I just didn't accept any job that places like Rehab and/or the CCB attempted to place me in. I searched for the jobs on my own ( did all of it on my own
except adapt my work station)
We would all sometimes, don't want to go to work on some days. But most of us, go to work so we don't lose our jobs. And even some of us, have a job because we want to contribute and make a difference -- be a member of the community. It is certainly much better than allowing the Government to support us. I do agree rehab and some of the Agency's whom are supposed to help the blind -- don't always do what is best for us and/or truly help us as much as they could. They too often, place us in jobs that are not best suited for us nor find positions that are at our potential. Many Agency's think placing a
blind person at a Burger King part-time is good enough and Rehab closes the case and gets their " 26". This kind of job is perfectly acceptable for some people with multiple disabilities but someone whom is only blind, he/she can certainly do more and should have higher expectations for himself. If one does not -- no one else will!
Furthermore, these Agency's continually place people only in Customer Service positions. Too many job Developers are not looking elsewhere -- not beyond the scope of things. What if one has aspirations to be an engineer, Doctor, Lawyer, mechanic etc....Why, can't they try to do these jobs.
Moreover, why do we as blind people have to quit a job and/or be fired before Rehab will assist us in finding work? If a sighted person can apply for several jobs, send his/her resume to 100 Company's, why can't we do the same. If, I did not need assistance in adapting my equipment, I too, would not need Rehab at all!! I think Rehab and some of these other Organizations are doing us, as blind people a disservice. Due to these issues mentioned above, I don't blame someone for feeling depressed & discouraged and temporarily staying home collecting a check from the
Government. It is perfectly understandable. After a while however, one needs to be proactive and do something to improve their situation. They can either feel sorry for themselves and think they
can't work because they're blind( seeing the glass half empty) or think I am going to do what I can to find a job and do the job well. They have a brighter outlook on life and in the long-run will have in my opinion a better future.

Karen Hughes Tempe, Arizona USA

**74. I think there are only a few blind or otherwise disabled people just like this person. I think we have all seen or at least heard of other non-disabled people like this. Mostly we hear of well-fare people acting like this. People that have developed in such a way that they have this mind-set to want to stay at home, live off of what others have set aside to help people who for some reason can’t help themselves. And yes there are people who will take advantage of this setup. I don’t think too many blind people of the ordinary walk of life are of this mind-set, but yes there are I’m sure a few. Most blind people are of the mind-set that they wish to be average, normal citizens and that means they would not want the type of lifestyle portrayed in this thought provoker story. I guess it has us all thinking about the topic and this is good for all to talk about. If we do not examine if this is true or not for the blind, we will not understand what the truth is.

Mike Collins Colorado USA

**75. This story is a great platform for the public to see that we the blind are like them. We want to make our way in life just like the majority of them. We are capable of work just as the average person in this and in other countries. Getting we the blind to react to this story has been good to get us to tell it as we feel about it. This is the way for the outside reader to see inside us. Only we can tell what we feel. Good job Mr. Newman for getting us to tell it to the world.

May McAnnford Virginia USA

**76. For those who feel that the blind person is better off finding a job, let me give you a conversation I have had several times with conservatives. It might give you a better glimpse of what America is like for us.

Me: "Do you feel that disabled people should earn their own living if it is at all possible?"

Them: "Yes, of course!"

Me: "Well, so far, we agree. Now, do you feel that business owners and employers should be required by law to hire certain people?"

Them: "No, of course not. The employer should have discretion in how they run their business."

Me: "OK, Do you feel that property owners should be forced to house people?"

Them: "No! Nobody should be forced to do that."

Me: "In your company, out of every hundred workers, how many employees are disabled?"

Them: (usually) "Oh, one or two, I guess."

Me: "Any blind employees?"

Them: "No, they are wheelchair users."

Me: "Would you hire a blind worker?"

Them "Well.... err.... uh... I don't know..."

This is where it breaks down! Of the entire blind population in the United States, only about ten percent are actually work-ready. Of course, the ninety percent that are not, include the recently blinded, children, older Americans, multiply disabled, et cetera, but OF the ten percent of blind people who ARE trained and job-ready, SEVENTY PERCENT are either unemployed or underemployed! This is FACT. Out of all disabled Americans, the only group having a LOWER employment rate would be quadriplegic! We have a LOWER employment rate than the developmentally disabled, the head injured,
epileptics, wheelchair users, any other group!

Can you even imagine ANY other minority group having such a low employment rate? can you imagine the furor and fuss that would ensue if the any racial group was as underemployed? Why do we accept this?!

There is broad based and intransigent resistance to hiring those in the blind population and of the ones employed, nearly all are partially sighted or legally blind, not totally blind. Figures for totally blind employees are even worse!

I, myself am employed, but the reality of it is this: There is very poor
transit where I live. I work on the telephone at home. I work sixteen to
eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. If I am lucky, I make twelve hundred a month, BEFORE taxes. Yes, I DO get Social Security Supplemental and I am forty thousand dollars in debt. But I have a job and am damned lucky I do! I am a professional with a college degree, years of training and a desire to work. I am also able to use what little vision I have.

Where does that leave us as a blind population? Where does that leave our totally blind workers? Our multiply disabled workers? Our organizations are NOT lobbying for employment opportunities, the ADA has not done squat for US! The SYMBOL of disability is a person in a wheelchair, NOT a blind worker and it's OUR FAULT! Unless and until we are WILLING to get in the faces of every fat-cat politician and industry leader and DEMAND the same employment opportunity that every OTHER minority group has, we will
continue to get squat! We are entirely too passive about our situation.

Sorry this is so long, but I had to say it!

Sylvia Stevens USA

**77. I found this topic very interesting, and although I did not plan to write in, well, here I am!

Towards the end of the story, the subject said "At the end of the day, guess the key is to like yourself and I do.” Isn't that what everyone would like to be able to say? If we are happy with ourselves and the choices we've made, then why should anyone else care? I think that because this person is blind, that all the other blind people out there who are trying to get by in this world assume that sighted people will accept the stereotype of this piece of fiction and will believe that all blind people are like that. Unemployable, unmotivated, not interested in holding down a job. But then I read that 70%
of blind people are unemployed and I don't know what to think. Is it that difficult to get and keep a job? If it is, then, I suppose that is what Social Security is there for. If a blind person can't seem to get a good job, or one that would pay more than the disability benefits received for not working,
then what else are they supposed to do? Oh, sure, there are lots of things that would be better than simply hanging out with friends, listening to music and renting DVD's, but I'm sure the character in this story will soon grow tired of that existence and eventually get a goal, but even if he doesn't, as long as he is not bothering anyone, why should we care? One person wrote in and said that in this society, it's not natural not to have a job....that
one of the first things people ask upon meeting another person is "what do you do?", and you know what? I kind of resent that way of thinking. I worked hard educating myself and keeping myself in nice jobs, and when the "nice" jobs were lean, I have, at times, worked two and once even three jobs to hold it all together, but my main goal was not to have to work! I finally became self-employed with partners and made the lifestyle that I chose possible.
When my daughter was born, I stopped working (for money). That was my plan, and I carried it out. I spent every day doing the things my Mom did with me when I was little. I chose to give my time to my daughter, and when she became independent of my maternal smothering (in other words, when she started
going to school at age 5), I became involved in charitable organizations and spent my time doing the things I wanted to do. I did take a job for a while to help out a friend who was short-staffed and I wound up loving the work, but found my life was much more rewarding when at home. When I meet people
who ask me what I "do", it doesn't bother me to say that I am presently independent of a paying job. I'm not collecting government benefits, however.

Now, here's another scenario. A close friend of mine worked hard all his life, preparing for a nice retirement, but he was caught in a few bad investments at a time when our economy tanked and he got stuck when September 11th happened. He went back to work to try to rebuild his nest-egg, and has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Guess what he decided to do? He's taking his S.S. now, and not working. I can't say that I blame him. He worked
hard his whole life, and now has been told that he has three to five years left on this earth. Why work? He'll never make it to the age when his Social Security checks should start coming in monthly, so why not take it now? It's not a lot of money, but he already has everything he needs as far as his
house, cars, et cetera. It's his choice, it's my choice, it's the choice of every person in this country, and I don't think that certain groups should be offended by the actions of one of their members. The guy in the T. P. story seems happy with his existence. If his government housing is a dump, well, he doesn't seem to care, and I don't suppose he can see what it looks like, anyway, right? If he's sloppy about where he's put his shoes or his other belongings, he's the one who has to trip over them, so who cares? If he spends his days wasting his time with his friends, then apparently there are people
like himself out there to hang with, so he won't be bothering anyone who does not want to be involved with him. I think the only thing about this guy that seems to bother all the blind people who have written in is that he is blind, and that's just silly. He is not you, he is not portraying himself as you, so get over it. I saw a blind person getting out of a limousine at the Ritz Carlton while I was having dinner there, and I did not immediately assume that all blind people are so lucky to have such lifestyles, so why would I assume the opposite? I think that too many of you may just have a little too much time on your hands, to be offended by a story like this.

I'll Remain Anonymous On This One.......

**78. It's very interesting how someone can look or hear about another person and decide what they "should" be doing. I think it is very significant that the person in the Thought Provoker story is at peace with himself and his life. There are many who work and go to school at the same time (with or without
disabilities) and cannot find acceptance or contentment in their life. Being in the moment and finding happiness with life no matter how the cards are dealt is a great accomplishment. We all play the hand that we are dealt in different ways. Although I work full time and have a 1 1/2 hour commute each
way, on the weekend I am having a hard time amusing myself. Finding things to do since my transportation is limited has been an issue. Although I have many blessings in my life, filling in that area has been a challenge that I am working to overcome. I admire the person in the Thought Provoker for creating his life for himself without looking for approval from others.

Sandra Jordan California USA

**79. Assuming the person in the provoker is young and assuming he has no real interest in trying to get a job, then I have the following reaction! One of the most important things for me to do as a young person was to get a job. I worked for almost six years as a medical transcriptionist. I then stopped when I had children, but as soon as they were in school, got work again. My only glitch is that I receive SSDI, which I got after my first venture out into the world of work, as my rehab counselor used to call it. I would have to have a job paying $30,000 a year or more to make it worthwhile to lose my SSDI.I think the SSDI limitations put blind people in a bad predicament. So that is another side to the story.

For those who live on SSI and actively choose not to seek work, I just can't identify with that mode of thinking! Knowing several people who have chosen to take this life path, one in particular, who actually took rehabs money and almost got a masters in psychology, is just appalling to me. The system spent thousands of dollars on someone who chooses to sit home and down-load MP3s all day. BTW, this person also received a computer, Braille printer, etc. in the guise of having a job--his father owns a construction business. This person is very intelligent and has a lot of potential, as I am sure are
many who make this decision. I find it difficult to accept that a blind person is just content with their lot in life of taking money from the government.

Okay, I'll climb down from my soap box now. (smile)

Sherri USA

**80. even though I have to agree that there are very few of us that are like the person in this story, and even though I agree that choosing not to work is a matter of personal choice, I must say that this type of individual is not a good example for the sighted or the blind to see. It flys in the face of what we the blind are trying to change in the world’s view of what a blind person can do and be. I think this discussion has been a positive force in telling the world of our view on this issue.

Betty Cannt USA

**81. I'm sighted, so my opinion on this Thought Provoker will reflect that,
but I'm not so sure there's a difference between a blind person not
choosing to work and a sighted person not working. I feel that every
individual is an individual and doesn't necessarily have to follow a
party line or fit into a category. Working isn't all that important to
me. I retired from working at 40 due to an injury, but I was still
employable, and I chose not to work. I had a disability check coming in
every month and I felt I could 'live' on it. It is a modest amount but
it is enough for me.

If a blind person is denied the right to work that is a legal matter.
The US government is required to hire handicapped people as well as
ex-convicts, and as far as I know they do, but that is where a strong
lobby could be of some help. Are the blind organizations doing all they
can for its members?
It seems to me that politicians should be held accountable to the people
they represent, that includes blind people, and if they are not doing
what they can to ensure the blind are not overlooked when it comes to
employment, then they need to be criticized and publicly. This nation
has laws for all the people and if a blind person is denied employment
they should seek legal redress.
My handicapped friend, the Koz, who has C/P, worked his whole life and
has little to show for it, and we both know others who have disabilities
and never worked and enjoy as good a life style as Koz does.
To me it is entirely up to the person, blind or sighted, to chose a life
style that suits them best and to heck with those who object.
I've stressed this in the past in Thought Provoker, the handicapped
community needs better public relations and some stronger activism.
Thanks for allowing me to express an opinion.

Bill Heaney Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

**82. I think that a lot of why we the disabled have such high unemployment is the misconceptions and attitudes of either VR counselors, or employers themselves. In some cases it is laziness on the part of the blind person. I am the only person I know of who has had absolutely no job interviews, and quite honestly I am a bit depressed about this. I fault nobody but the rehab agency here for this. I am no longer with my job coach thanks to my counselor who for some reason saw fit to dismiss the job coach as a good-for-nothing loser. I am proud, however, to say that I have obtained a part-time job with the help of a long-time friend. I am working from home as a transcriptionist. I can't go into too much detail here, but I am transcribing a book about someone I know who is a Holocaust survivor. Rehab has since failed to communicate with me. I recently found out through much ear-pulling that I now have a new counselor. But at this point it's hard for me to assess whether or not I'll really need his services, good or bad as they might be, because the book I'm transcribing is about 20 two-track tapes and I just today got the second cassette.

Jacob Joehl, Chicago, Illinois USA

**83. I know I already responded to this Thought Provoker, but I would like to say a bit more if that's okay with you. Feel free to just place one of my responses on your website if you prefer. Here's what else I have to say on the matter of blindness and lifestyle. As previously mentioned, possibly too many times, I am most dissatisfied with the VR agency in Illinois, where I live. But it is undoubtedly not the only VR agency that is in a bad state, no pun intended. Having said that, I was very satisfied with my volunteer job at a non-profit organization which paired disabled people with non-disabled people, in an effort to increase awareness of people with disabilities. This job eventually turned into a paying job for a short time, but due to circumstances which were kind of beyond anyone's control, I was bumped back to being a volunteer there. That is the only job I've ever had, other than some odd jobs at my high school. I had some health problems which prevented me from doing much in the way of job-hunting, but now those problems have passed, I am happy to say. I have been at this job search now for quite a long time, and it has yielded nothing. I worked with a job coach from an agency which has several locations throughout the Chicago area. This job coach was a very nice person and he tried his best with me, but he had never worked with a blind or visually-impaired person before. I also worked with someone from The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, who worked in the Supported Employment Department there. She had had absolutely no prior experience with disabled people. As a matter of fact, she had been a store clerk in Syracuse, New York. But here again, she was a very nice person and I think she is still at The Chicago Lighthouse. I am currently enrolled as a student at The Hadley School for the Blind, and I'm enjoying my coursework immensely. I find the staff of Hadley to be extremely friendly, but also very in tune with what they do. I also have the part-time job that I discussed in my previous response to this Thought Provoker, that is, transcribing a book about the Holocaust for some friends of mine. I am very
satisfied with my life right now, and if I don't ever get employed that is okay with me. If something comes along, and if rehab is willing to do their part to ensure that I get what I need in a timely fashion, then I will definitely reconsider. But for now, it really doesn't look like things are going to change with respect to the VR agency. I will remain an advocate for others with disabilities, though. Thanks and I will finally get off my full soap box now.

Jacob in Chicago, Illinois USA