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Re: Washington Post editoral: Claims Against Common Sense

From: Mike Burks <mburks952@worldnet.att.net>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 08:41:50 -0500
Message-ID: <00dd01be1230$0b5e1d40$9e03450c@oemcomputer>
To: <nfb-talk@nfbnet.org>, <blindtlk@nfbnet.org>, <webwatch-l@teleport.com>, <easi@maelstrom.stjohns.edu>, <vicug-l@maelstrom.stjohns.edu>, <uaccess-l@tracecenter.org>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, "Jamal Mazrui" <empower@smart.net>

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Michael R. Burks
-----Original Message-----
From: Jamal Mazrui <empower@smart.net>
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Date: Tuesday, November 17, 1998 8:23 AM
Subject: Washington Post editoral: Claims Against Common Sense

>From the web page
>Claims Against Common Sense
>By William Raspberry
>Monday, November 16, 1998; Page A25
> If I promise to go back to being my old sweet self tomorrow,
>would you let me get a little meanness off my chest today?
>Randy Tamez: Get a grip.
>Tamez, left blind by treatment for a brain tumor a dozen years
>ago, has sued the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation
>Commission for violating his rights. The basis, according to the
>Associated Press: He can't access the system's Web site for bus
>and train schedules. That, in his view, is a violation of the
>Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
>It is, in my view, a clear violation of common sense.
>Of course I sympathize with Tamez's difficulties. Who wouldn't
>sympathize with a 36-year-old guy suddenly rendered unable to
>see anything beyond shapes, shadows and light? Blindness must be
>a terrible handicap, and I would applaud any genius who comes up
>with a device to make it less burdensome.
>But someone already has come up with something that works quite
>well for most of us: Web sites with lots of graphics, sound,
>video clips and such that make it possible to provide useful
>information in user-friendly ways (and also to facilitate the
>advertising that makes many Web sites worth providing in the
>first place). Apparently a return to a text-based system would
>make it easier for the visually impaired, though arguably less
>attractive for the rest of us. Is that a violation?
>I hope you don't think I'm just being nasty to Tamez. I've been
>waiting nearly a year for a chance to be nasty to the disabled
>folk who complained about Rick Fink's nice-guy gesture. Fink,
>divisional maintenance manager for the 97 Wendy's restaurants in
>Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina, decided that while
>the company was undertaking renovations to make the bathrooms
>and other facilities more accessible to wheelchair users, he'd
>go an accommodating step farther. He positioned two regular
>tables near the door and marked them with the stylized
>wheelchair symbol.
>You know what? Some representatives of disabled groups accused
>Fink of establishing a "disabled ghetto." "We want the
>opportunity to be there without the stigma or labeling," one of
>them said. Are those choice near-the-door parking spaces a
>"disabled ghetto" as well? Get a grip.
>Look, I think the ADA is a terrific idea. The wider doors,
>ramped entrances and roomy, handrailed toilet stalls must be a
>godsend for those who need them -- with no skin off the noses of
>those who don't. Similarly with wheelchair-accessible curbs and
>other modifications -- particularly in cases of new construction.
>I still remember a column by Charles Krauthammer praising the
>subtle ramping at Washington's Kennedy Center -- an
>architectural boon for wheelchair users and utterly unnoticed by
>What sparks my meanness is the insistence by some among the
>disabled that (1) their disability be accommodated and (2) that
>we take no notice of it. I mean, for instance, the people who
>insist on putting chair-lift devices on all public buses -- even
>when relatively few wheelchair users are among the riders and
>even though it can be significantly cheaper for local
>governments to furnish door-to-door transport by taxicab or limo
>than to retrofit all the buses.
>I mean the deaf guy who wanted to discuss some controversy with
>a colleague of mine, using one of those phone devices that
>involve speaking to an intermediary who then teletypes the
>message to the caller's phone screen, and then waits for a typed
>response that he reads to the callee. It can take awhile. My
>time-pressed colleague finally offered a deal: Put your comments
>in a letter, and I'll respond in detail by return mail.
>The guy was furious. He didn't have time to write letters, he
>said, clearly resenting the fact that other readers who wanted
>to talk to columnists didn't have to write letters.
>Get a grip.
>A part of my problem, I suppose, is that I am utterly unable to
>extract a useful principle from any of my resentments. Sometimes
>I'm happy for the accommodations our society is making for the
>"differently abled." Sometimes I think they ask too much or are
>ungrateful and whiny. And sometimes I think, with Krauthammer:
>Why, what a sensible, nonobtrusive, nonhumiliating solution.
>Shouldn't all our accommodations be like that?
>But, of course, they can't be. Sometimes the handicap means that
>you can't do things the way everybody else does them, that you
>have to accommodate to your own situation. By picking up the
>phone and calling the transit authority's information line, for
>There, I feel so much better.
>          (c) Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
Received on Tuesday, 17 November 1998 08:42:07 UTC

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