[AI] get ready to see things in dark

manohar vaswani vaswanims at gmail.com
Thu Jan 6 05:53:27 EST 2011

here is the text of the speech that I had attached to my previous
mail. the text is pretty long but I hope it will be read in full.

Blindness: Is the Public Against Us?
An Address Delivered by Kenneth Jernigan
President, National Federation of the Blind
At the Banquet of the Annual Convention
Chicago, July 3, 1975

When the orange-billed seagull scares from my shadow and flees from my
pass, I look up and see the sun laughing a smile on the water.

When mothers and fathers shout and hit their children for discipline,
I look up and see the sun lure transient clouds to cover her face.

And when the blind man, dogless, loses his homeward path, I have seen
the stranger straighten his solo way while the sun sets.

I have wondered: Is there a land where the birds are unafraid, where
the little children are uncried, and the blind people see

Where the sun won't laugh at the seagulls and hide from the children
and leave when the blind man is lonely.

That poem—which appears on the wall of a California coffee
house—portrays to a remarkable degree (even if only in microcosm) both
the best and the worst traits of humanity: compassion, bigotry,
sensitivity, obtuseness, concern, arrogance, perceptive awareness, and
a total lack of understanding. Certainly with respect to blindness it
exemplifies every misconception of the darkest middle ages. When the
blind man (dogless or otherwise) is lonelier than others—when he has
it so bad that the sun itself must flee from his plight, it is not the
blindness which should be mourned but the social attitudes and the
cultural heritage—the root causes of the broken spirit and the
blighted soul. Second-class status and deep despair come not from lack
of sight but from lack of opportunity, lack of acceptance, lack of
equal treatment under the law, and (above all) lack of understanding.

Not only does the coffee house poet speak about blindness but also
(doubtless without knowing it) he speaks about our reason for
organizing; for if the principal problem we face is the blindness
itself (the physical loss of sight and its alleged inherent
limitations) there is little purpose in collective action. If, as the
poem puts it, the only solution is, "a land where the birds are
unafraid, where the little children are uncried, and the blind people
see," we had better pack it in and leave it to the experts. And even
then, there will be no real solution; for (with present knowledge and
foreseeable technology) most of us who are blind today are going to
stay that way, and that is that. If this is truly the way of it, let
us take such comfort as we can from the doctor, the preacher, and the
psychiatrist—and let us square our shoulders and take it alone, not
seeking the company of others with similar affliction, who (at the
very best) can only remind us of what we are not, and what we can
never become.

But, of course, this is not the way of it—not at all. Everything in us
rejects it. All of our experience denies it. We know that with
training and opportunity we can compete on terms of absolute equality
with the sighted, and we also know that the sighted (with education
and correct information) can come to accept us for what we
are—ordinary human beings, neither especially blessed nor especially
cursed--able to make our own way and pay our own tab.

This is why the National Federation of the Blind came into being. In
1940 a small band of blind people from seven states met at
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to begin the movement. At first it was
mostly faith and dreams, but that was over a generation ago. Today
(with more than 50,000 members) we are a nationwide crusade with local
chapters in every state and the District of Columbia. At an
accelerating pace we have become aware of our needs, our potential,
and our identity. An increasing number of the sighted have also become
aware and now march with us, but the mass of the public, a majority of
the media, and most of the social service agencies still think in
pre-Federation terms.

Deep down (at the gut level) they regard us as inferior, incompetent,
unable to lead an everyday life of joy and sorrow, and necessarily
less fortunate than they. In the past we have tended to see ourselves
as others have seen us. We have accepted the public view of our
limitations and, thus, have done much to make those limitations a
reality. But no more! That day is at an end.

Our problem is so different from what most people imagine, that it is
hard for them even to comprehend its existence. It is not the
blindness, nor is it that we have lacked sympathy or goodwill or
widespread charity and kindness. We have had plenty of that—too much,
in fact. Rather, it is that we have not (in present day parlance) been
perceived as a minority. Yet, that is exactly what we are—a minority,
with all that the term implies.

Do I exaggerate? In the summer of 1972 the National Federation of the
Blind held its convention in Chicago. A local television station sent
a black reporter to do coverage. She went directly to the exhibit room
and used most of her film on various mechanical aids and gadgets. To
round out her story, she came to me and asked that I comment on the
value and benefit of it all.

I responded obliquely, asking her how she would feel if she were at a
national meeting of the NAACP or the Urban League and a reporter came
and said he was there to film the shoe shining and the watermelon
eating contest. She said she wouldn't like it. "Well," I said,
"suppose the reporter took another tack. Suppose he wanted to spend
all of his time and film on an exhibit of gadgets and devices
incidentally on display as a sidelight of the meeting, ignoring the
real problems which brought the group together in the first place."
She said she wouldn't like that either. In fact, she said, it would be
worse since the question about the shoe shining and the watermelons
could be easily discredited, while the other approach was just as bad
but far less apparent and, therefore, probably more destructive.

I then told her about a reporter who came to one of our meetings and
said, "I'd like to get pictures of blind persons bowling and of some
of the members with their dogs." I tried to explain to him that such a
story would be a distortion—that we were there to discuss refusal by
employers to let us work, refusal by airlines to let us ride, refusal
by hotels to let us stay, refusal by society to let us in, and refusal
by social service agencies to let us out. He said he was glad I had
told him and that it had been very helpful and enlightening. Then he
added, "Now, could I see the dogs and the bowlers? I am in quite a

As I told this story, the black reporter was obviously uncomfortable.
She seemed truly to understand, but when I asked her if she still
intended to feature the exhibits and the gadgets, she stuck to her
guns. "In the first place," she said, "I've already used all of my
film. In the second place my editor told me to do it, so that's the
way it has to be." The television coverage appeared on schedule—usual
image, usual distortion. There is nothing wrong with bowling or dogs
or canes or exhibits, but it was a bad scene.

A year later (in June of 1973) the blind were again in Chicago—this
time for a different reason. The National Accreditation Council for
Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) was meeting,
and the blind were demonstrating and picketing. Formed in the
mid-1960's by the American Foundation for the Blind, NAC symbolized
(as it still does) everything odious and repulsive in our long and
painful tradition—custodialism by governmental and private social
service agencies, ward status, vested interest, intimidation,
exclusion, and second-class citizenship. Our attempts to gain
representation on NAC's Board were answered by double-talk and
tokenism, by Uncle Toms representing nobody but themselves and their
masters, and by threats and reprisals. Finally, we had had enough.

So when (without warning and in violation of its own bylaws and
policies) NAC tried to hide from us by changing its meeting from
Cleveland, Ohio, to an out-of-the-way motel in Chicago (a motel in the
midst of construction and remodeling), we came to confront them. And
not just a few of us, but the blind of the Nation. It was short notice
and difficult doing, but we came—hundreds of us, from all over the
country: California, New England, the deep South, and the Midwest.

It was a day of dramatic importance. It was the first time in history
that the blind as a people (not just a local group or a given segment
but the blind as a people) had mobilized to take to the streets for
collective action. There were state delegations, placards and signs,
marches in downtown Chicago, and a rally at Civic Center Plaza. Was it
newsworthy? By every test known to journalism, the answer would have
to be yes.

Yet, the Chicago Tribune for Thursday, June 21, 1973, carried not a
single line about the demonstrations. It was not that the Tribune
forgot us. Far from it. There was not just one, but two stories about
the blind. And what were these stories that were of such importance as
to be more newsworthy than the first national demonstration by the
blind in history? One was headlined "Busy blind man finds time to help
children." The other was captioned "Blind, he directs music in city

What a commentary! It was all there. The blind are especially talented
in music. They are also burdened and deprived. Therefore, when one of
them (instead of just doing the normal thing and receiving) turns it
around and gives to others (particularly, children), it has human
interest and news value. What would have happened if Martin Luther
King had been leading the first black demonstrations in Chicago and
the papers had ignored it—printing, instead, "Busy black man finds
time to help children" and "Black, he directs music in city school"? I
think you know what would have happened, and so do I. There would have
been a furor of massive proportions. Yet, the incidents I have related
passed without notice or ripple, almost as a matter of routine.

What I have said must be seen in perspective. The Tribune writers and
the other members of the Chicago press were not trying to put us down
or conspire against us. They were calling it as they saw it, writing
what tradition had taught them to write. Like any other cross section
of society, they doubtless were (and are) people of integrity and
goodwill. It was not a matter of morals or motives, but of
comprehension. It was all tied up with their notions about blindness.
Pathos, compensatory talents, musical ability, inspiration, bravery
against odds, world of darkness, heart-rending tragedy—these they (and
even their editors) could understand: run-of-the-mill, good human
interest, no sweat. But the blind as a minority? Discrimination?
Marches? Confrontation with the social service agencies, the very
people who were trying to help the blind? Ridiculous! The reporters
couldn't understand it, and (at least, at the emotional level) they
didn't believe it. So how could they write it? And even if they did,
how could their editors approve it, or the public buy it? Forget it.
Don't think about it. Let it alone.

Of course, the attitudes of the press are representative of the
broader society, and the situation is certainly not unique. It is
exactly the way the blacks were treated 50 years ago. They were lumped
together and seen as a single caricature—good natured, irresponsible,
rhythmic, shiftless, and a mite dishonest—second-class all the way. A
black person was never shown in a straight role on the stage or in the
movies but only as a foot-shuffling, jolly simpleton. It was Amos and
Andy and Uncle Remus and Aunt Jemima; and not only the blacks but all
of us will bear the scars for generations to come because of the
failure to understand, the lack of concern to care, and the absence of
the courage to act. Fifty years ago it was the blacks. Today it is the
blind. But we are organized, and we are on the move. We want no strife
or confrontation, but we will do what we have to do. We are simply no
longer willing to be second-class citizens. They tell us that there is
no discrimination—that the blind are not a minority. But we know who
we are, and we will never go back.

Lest you think I am picking on Chicago, let me say that New York was
about the same. In July of 1973 (only a month after the NAC
demonstration in Chicago) the largest group of blind people ever to
assemble anywhere in the world up to that time met in New York. For
almost a week we discussed our hopes and our problems—planned and
dreamed. Some 2,000 of us marched on NAC headquarters. There was a
considerable amount of local radio and television coverage, and a
little in the papers. Nationally there was hardly a ripple. I can only
explain it as before.

It was not conspiracy or deliberate put-down. In some ways it was
worse, for an individual can be made ashamed of prejudice and
repression but rarely of charity and kindness. They didn't understand
it; they didn't believe it; and (above all) they didn't know how to
write it. It didn't fit the image and the preconception.

Sometime back a local student chapter of the National Federation of
the Blind undertook to analyze advertisements mentioning blindness. An
ad to help people stop smoking came to their attention and resulted in
the following correspondence:

Division of Purex Corporation Limited Batavia, Illinois

DEAR SIR: At our April meeting, we read part of an advertisement from
your University Plan to Help People Stop Smoking. The reading states
in part: "Try smoking with your eyes closed and see how much of
smoking is visual. Blind people rarely smoke, not only because of fire
danger, but because they are not influenced by these visual aspects of
smoking." Since blind people do smoke as much and as often as their
sighted friends, and since blind and sighted alike have little
conscious concern for the fire hazard involved, we found your
advertisement of BANTRON both inaccurate and annoying.

We hope that you will reread your information concerning BANTRON, and
see the misconceptions about blindness in it so they may be corrected.

Thank you very much

A courteous letter—not unreasonable or belligerent or full of
recrimination. Back came the reply, loud and clear—saying, perhaps,
more than its author intended or realized:

Thank you for your letter of April 29. Your comments about the
sweeping generalizations of blind people not smoking are well-taken,
and did indeed cause me to study the package directions for Bantron.
Although I have yet to know a blind person who did smoke, I will
concede the point on the basis that (a) you are more expert on the
subject than anyone here, and (b) any such generalization such as
blind people fearing fire, left-handed people being awkward, black
people being shiftless, Italians gangsters, Jews cunning, Germans
warlike, or Iowans as corngrowers is by nature indefensible and

Unfortunately, Bantron is not a high volume product and it may be some
time before package directions are next redesigned, and some time
after that before the new directions achieve distribution. In fact, it
may be years before your suggestions bear tangible fruit. But they
have been considered and will be acted upon when the time finally

A casual (one might almost say a cavalier) response. A rather glib
admission that the statements about blindness in the ad were probably
false and that nobody around the office had any real information on
the subject—or, for that matter, cared to have any, one way or
another. No recognition that lives might have been damaged or
opportunities lost. Only the godlike statement that, "...it may be
years before your suggestions bear tangible fruit. But they have been
considered and will be acted upon when the time finally arrives." What
insensitivity! What contempt! What arrogance!

What irrefutable proof of the absolute necessity for the National
Federation of the Blind! Yet, they tell us that there is no
discrimination—that we are not a minority. But we know who we are, and
we will never go back.

Not only must we deal with the ad writers and the working press but
also with Mr. Magoo—lovable Mr. Magoo. Because he is almost blind he
bumbles and blunders through a series of bloopers—walking into
telephone poles and apologizing to them because he thinks they are
people, patting the tops of fire plugs and speaking to them as
children, and walking up half-finished skyscrapers to the brink of
disaster and ruin. It's funny because he can't see and makes such
stupid goof-ups. Never mind that blindness isn't like that and that no
blind person in the world is so incompetent or stupid as to hit a
telephone pole and believe it's a human or think the top of a fire
plug feels like the head of a child or wander up the girders of an
open building. It fits the stereotype, so it's hilariously comical.

But what does it do to blind people—to our public image and our
private lives? A few weeks back I received a call from a blind woman
in Indianapolis. She said, "The other day I was at the home of a
friend, who is also blind, and her four-year-old son was watching Mr.
Magoo on television. He turned to his mother in hurt and bewilderment
and said, 'Mother, why are they making fun of you?'" My caller went on
to tell me that later that same week she was walking down the street
when a small child spit on her and said, "You're old Mr. Magoo." She
was so shaken by the two incidents coming together that she called to
ask what the Federation could do about it.

Of course, this negative behavior is not surprising from small
children, or even from the public at large; but surely we have the
right to expect better from the social service agencies, the very
people who are supposedly knowledgeable and established to help us.
Yet, an outfit in Seattle calling itself Community Services for the
Blind (ultrarespectable and approved by the United Way) decided this
spring to make Mr. Magoo the principal focus of its public relations
and funding. The leaders of our Washington affiliate protested, but to
no avail. A blind man on the Community Services board (Uncle Toms are,
indeed, pathetic; and we have our full quota) thought it was funny,
and even constructive. But the board's sighted president put it all in

The advertising message [he said in a letter to one of our members] is
especially directed at people who are responsible for the blind—not
the blind themselves. We don't feel the blind person will tend to
identify himself with Mr. Magoo, necessarily; in fact, many may not
even know who he is.... If there is any kind of a negative aspect in
the fact that Mr. Magoo has poor eyesight, it is all the more
effective, just as a crippled child on a muscular dystrophy poster is
more effective than a normal child. [Emphasis added.]

What a damning self-indictment! What an ironic commentary on the end
of an era and the death of a system. Yet, they tell us that there is
no discrimination—that the blind are not a minority. But we know who
we are, and we will never go back.

To round out the picture of the public mind, consider the following
recent examples: A man wrote to me a few months ago saying that he
would like to buy a cat or dog for every blind person in Colorado
Springs. "I saw a young blind boy," he said "with a white cane and a
puppy dog. He seemed so happy. If you think it would help I would be
glad to see every blind person in Colorado Springs has a pet. Cat or

A dental hygiene student wrote to me from Fresno, California: "I am
working on a research paper," she said, "concerning the special needs
of visually handicapped or blind people with regard to dental care. I
hope to determine: (1) how the dental procedure needs to be altered to
accommodate them, and (2) special dental problems of these patients."

Recently a blind woman was in the hospital for gall bladder surgery. A
tape on the foot of her bed was inscribed in large letters: "Patient
is blind but self-sufficient." It's all tied up in the word "but." Am
I quibbling? Not really. Is it subtle? Not very.

An expert on penology and social reform wrote to me to say that, in
his opinion, the blind (regardless of their misdeeds) should not be
put in the penitentiary. "If the seriousness of their offense merits
incarceration," he said, "they should be dealt with in a special
manner." In other words, even in the "big house" we should be
second-class and segregated.

The author of a book on the teaching of medical transcribing wanted
her work put into Braille. "I wrote you," she said, "because I have
watched the teaching of this subject to the blind over a period of
years and it is unnecessarily painful and lengthy. They do make
first-rate transcribers and always seem so pathetically grateful for a
chance to learn."

A religious organization circulates a card called "Courtesies of
Gentleness for the Sighted in Contacts with the Blind." It says:

A handshake to a blind person is like a smile to a sighted person. So
shake hands on greeting and on leaving your blind acquaintance....
Never fill to the brim a cup given to a blind person; it is too hard
to keep on an even keel. Give him a refill instead.... Don't express
sympathy for a blind person in front of him. In motoring, guard
against slamming the car door on the blind person's hands. Also see
that he doesn't extend his arm or hand outside the car.... Never force
an approaching blind person to give you the right-of-way, for every
time he has to deviate from his course, he loses his bearings; In
other words the blind can't plan or do for themselves. Do it for them,
and think for them, too. And don't express pity for them—at least, not
to their faces. Gentle and courteous all of the way.

Incidentally, the Federationist who sent me this card said: "I find it
demeaning and offensive."

A doctor at the Mayo Clinic wrote: "I am sorry to say she is blind and
cannot be helped. Anything you can do to make her life easier would be
greatly appreciated." From Pennsylvania comes this:

Today I was advised by the Department of Labor Inspections Division
that under the new life safety measures, which will emanate from the
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, it will not be possible
to allow a blind person to live on the second floor of a boarding
house having more than three guests unless the building totally
conforms with the federal specifications and standards.

Southern College, located in Orlando Florida, announces: "Tuition for
all students is basically $417 per quarter. There is an additional
quarterly fee of $125 for visually-impaired students."

In 1972, James Reston, the well-known syndicated columnist, commented
on Senator Eagleton's forced withdrawal from the Democratic
vice-presidential nomination: "This is not primarily Eagleton's
fault," Reston said, "but the system's. That system is very
compassionate to human beings whose age and health interfere with the
efficient execution of their work. It tolerates Supreme Court justices
who are in serious ill health or who are even almost blind."l

The key word (as I am sure I don't have to tell you) is even. That
"even" is at the center of our problem as blind people. It takes for
granted (as an obvious commonplace, needing no argument) that the
blind are unable to perform competently as Supreme Court justices; in
fact, that it is ridiculous even to assume that they might; and that
any system which tolerates such manifest irrationality can only be
explained on the basis of compassion.

Compassion, indeed! The compassion is often misplaced. Recently, for
instance, we held a luncheon for employers so that they could get
acquainted with blind job applicants, and the East Moline, Illinois,
Metal Products Company saw no reason to come.

"Because of the type of business we are in," their letter said, "metal
stampings and weldments involving punch presses, shears, brakes, and
welders, we feel that we have nothing to offer the blind inasmuch as
we have nothing in a counting or packaging type of work."

The irony is that one of the people attending the luncheon (totally
blind from childhood) works every day shearing steel and operating
presses. He has done it for 15 years and is considered the best in the

In Michigan in 1970 Tom Munn (a blind man) took a State Civil Service
examination for the position of mechanic. He passed with a score of
96, and his name was placed on the register. He was not offered
employment; others (with lower scores) were hired. In 1972 the Civil
Service Commission created a separate list for the handicapped. Munn's
name was transferred from the open register to the separate list, and
his score was reduced from 96 to 70—which (regardless of performance)
was the grade to be given to all so-called "successful" future blind
applicants. Munn requested that his performance be evaluated. The
request was refused. In 1974 (acting on his own) he secured a work
trial evaluation with the Motor Transport Division of the Department
of Management and Budget. He did the job without difficulty. The
results were ignored. In 1975 (his patience finally exhausted) he
contemplated a lawsuit. Officials of the State agency for the blind
(the very people charged by law with the duty to help him) allegedly
tried to coerce him into silence. Tom Munn and the National Federation
of the Blind have now brought action in the federal courts against
both the State agency and the Civil Service Commission. Yet, they call
it compassion and say we are incompetent. They tell us that there is
no discrimination—that the blind are not a minority. But we know who
we are, and we will never go back.

Surely all of this is sufficient, but it is only illustrative.
Southern Illinois University plans to make a study of the dating and
mating selection patterns of the blind; the Minnesota Braille and
Sight Saving School plans a course in sex education and wants
specialized materials and techniques; and the National Enquirer puts
it all together in a November 11, 1973, article entitled "Finds
Blindness Upsets Sexual Functioning."

The sex drives of the blind, [the article says] are upset by their
inability to see light, states a West German researcher. Dr. H. J. von
Schumann, of Dusseldorfs, said he found that irregular menstrual
cycles in blind women and loss of sexual ability in blind men seem
related to their inability to see light. The hormone-producing system
controlled by the pituitary gland appears to need stimulation by light
if sex hormones it produces are to be kept at adequate levels.

Hardened as I am to ignorance and superstition, I still find it
difficult to know exactly what to do with that one. I confess that I
was reluctant even to bring it to you at all for fear some of the
sighted (lacking first-hand experience) might be tempted to believe
it. The demands of modesty and the wish to be seemly would seem to
rule out any attempted refutation by personal laboratory performance,
and the customs and laws of the day make it inadvisable to stage mass
exhibitions to place the matter in perspective. So I guess the best I
can do is this: Pick any random hundred of us, and put them alongside
any random hundred of them; and I believe we will acquit ourselves
with credit and pleasure--probably with volunteers to spare. Ask the
sighted with the background to know.

What a dreary picture! We are dogless and lonely; we can't enjoy
smoking; we are Mr. Magoo; we need pets to keep us company; we have
different dental needs; we must be segregated, even in the
penitentiary; we should be pitied, but not to our faces; we cannot
live on the second floor of a boarding house; our college tuition is
higher; we cannot shear steel or operate presses; we cannot compete in
the Civil Service but must be content with a separate list and a score
of 70; and, finally, we are even inadequate for the joys of sex. It
would seem that all that is left is to pack it in; and even that is
taken care of in an article on the right to death by choice appearing
in the January, 1974, Atlantic: "I do not wish," the author says, "to
survive any accident or disease resulting in vision too impaired to
see or read. A world without beauty seen is no world for me. A life
without freedom and movement is no life for me. If age and illness
deny me these, I choose death."2

So where does all of this leave us? In the first place it leaves us
with the need for perspective; for as the saying goes, we have never
had it so good. Despite the exclusions and the denials, we are better
off now than we have ever been. It is not that conditions are worse
today than they were ten or twenty years ago, but only that we are
more aware of them. In the past we wouldn't have known of their
existence, and even if we had, we wouldn't have been able to do
anything about it.

Today we are organized, and actively in the field. The sound in the
land is the march of the blind to freedom. The song is a song of
gladness. Yes, there are discriminations and misconceptions; but there
are also joy and promise. The old is dying, and the new is at hand.

It is true that not all sighted people have goodwill toward us, but
most do. As we begin to move toward first- class citizenship
(especially, as we insist upon our rights), we will inevitably provoke
hostility; but we will also inspire understanding and respect.

If we simply go forth with chips on our shoulders and bitterness in
our hearts, we will lose. We must have greater flexibility and more
positive belief in ourselves than that. There is a time to fight and a
time to refrain from fighting; a time to persuade; a time to take
legal action; a time to make speeches; a time to educate; a time to be
humble; a time to examine ourselves to root out arrogance,
self-deception, and phony excuses for failure; a time to comfort our
fellow blind; and a time to stand unflinchingly and uncompromisingly
with the fury of hell against impossible odds. Above all, we must
understand ourselves and have compassion in our hearts, for the
sighted as well as for our fellow blind—and, yes, even for ourselves.
We must have perspective and patience and the long view; and we must
have the ability and the willingness to make sacrifice, and the
courage to refuse to wait.

We must destroy a system which has kept us in bondage, but we must not
have hatred in our souls for that system or that bondage—for the
bitterness will destroy, not our enemies but us. We must recognize
that the system was an indispensable element in making us what we are,
and, therefore, that its chains (properly seen) are part of our
emerging freedom—not to be hated or despised but to be put aside as
outdated and no longer to be borne.

As we look ahead, the world holds more hope than gloom for us—and,
best of all, the future is in our own hands. For the first time in
history we can be our own masters and do with our lives what we will;
and the sighted (as they learn who we are and what we are) can and
will work with us as equals and partners. In other words we are
capable of full membership in society, and the sighted are capable of
accepting us as such and, for the most part, they want to.

We want no Uncle Toms—no sellouts, no apologists, no rationalizers;
but we also want no militant hellraisers or unbudging radicals. One
will hurt our cause as much as the other. We must win true equality in
society, but we must not dehumanize ourselves in the process; and we
must not forget the graces and amenities, the compassions and
courtesies which comprise civilization itself and distinguish people
from animals and life from existence.

Let people call us what they will and say what they please about our
motives and our movement. There is only one way for the blind to
achieve first-class citizenship and true equality. It must be done
through collective action and concerted effort; and that means the
National Federation of the Blind. There is no other way, and those who
say otherwise are either uninformed or unwilling to face the facts. We
are the strongest force in the affairs of the blind today, and we are
only at the threshold. We must operate from a base of power—yes; but
we must also recognize the responsibilities of power and the fact that
we must build a world that is worth living in when the war is
over—and, for that matter, while we are fighting it. In short, we must
use both love and a club, and we must have sense enough to know when
to do which—long on compassion, short on hatred; and, above all, not
using our philosophy as a cop out for cowardice or inaction or
rationalization. We know who we are and what we must do and we will
never go back. The public is not against us. Our determination
proclaims it; our gains confirm it; our humanity demands it. My
brothers and my sisters, the future is ours. Come! Join me on the
barricades, and we will make it come true.

1. Reston, James, "System at Fault in Eagleton Case," The Kansas City
Star, Kansas City (Mo.), July 31, 1972.

2. Maguire, Daniel C., "Death by Chance, Death by Choice," Atlantic,
Boston (Mass.), Jan. 1974.

with regards
manohar vaswani
assistant professor, department of english
shivaji university, kolhapur

On 1/6/11, Asudani, Rajesh <rajeshasudani at rbi.org.in> wrote:
> Well Manohar,
> Attachments are not allowed in AI, and So, you have to paste the speech.
> I believe I have shared the speech a few days ago.
> Though it is true that darkness has ulterior associations in the public
> perception, I believe this event would alleviate such associations rather
> than elevating them.
> I believe in taking the things head on and reversing their symbolism.
> Here negative symbolism of darkness has developed because of primary
> reliance of visual sense to do myriad things.
> When people realize that a host of things can be done without that visual
> sense, ingrained negative associations of darkness would be weakened.
> We may take as an illustration relative seclusion of women from public life
> and their bodies being completely veiled some decades ago.
> This was primarily because female body was essentially associated with
> uncontrolled male eroticism.
> Rather than submitting to such associations for centuries, past half century
> has taken this idea by its horns, so to say, and today, females along with
> their bodies can be found in every nook and corner.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in
> [mailto:accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in] On Behalf Of manohar vaswani
> Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2011 1:05 PM
> To: accessindia at accessindia.org.in
> Subject: Re: [AI] Get ready to see things in dark
> hello renuka and all the other members of AI I read the news about the
> dialogue in the dark. but the name 'dialogue in the dark' is not
> appropriate. since ages blindness has been associated with darkness and it
> will strengthen this association. many people believe that blind live in
> perpetual darkness and cannot tell day from the night.
> for many sighted persons darkness also connotes ignorance, evil and feeble
> mind.
> general public and literature some times consider blindness  as outward
> manifestation of inner defficiency.
> so outwardly this project may educate people about blindness but it may also
> strengthen  already prevalent prejudices and stereotypes about blindness.
> some of the members may not agree with me, they have a right to disagree.
> to support my argument I am here attaching a speech, Blindness: Is the
> Public Against Us?
> An Address Delivered by Kenneth Jernigan President, National Federation of
> the Blind At the Banquet of the Annual Convention Chicago, July 3, 1975
> with regards
> manohar vaswani
> assistant professor, department of english,  shivaji university kolhapur.
> On 1/6/11, Renuka Warriar <erenuka at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Date:06/01/2011 URL:
>> http://www.thehindu.com/2011/01/06/stories/2011010665220100.htm Back
>> Front Page
>> Get ready to see things in dark
>> J.S. Ifthekhar
>> This one-of-its-kind show, first time in India, will commence next
>> week at the Inorbit Mall in Madhapur
>> PHOTO: G. Krishnaswamy.
>> DARKNESS VISIBLE:Visually-challenged guides ready to take the visitors
>> on a tour of Dialogue in the Dark exhibition.
>> HYDERABAD: Now, there is an exciting new activity in town. It scares
>> you stiff even as it lights up the dark recesses of your mind. No, you
>> don't come to see it. Rather you experience it. Dialogue in the Dark,
>> as it is called, takes one down a dark expanse.
>> Everyday chores like visiting a park, shopping in the mall and taking
>> a boat ride -- one learns to do in total darkness. Howzzat! The
>> hour-long programme is an eye-opener in fact.
>> Thrill-a-minute
>> Hyderabadis are set to experience this thrill-a-minute show next week
>> at the Inorbit Mall in Madhapur. ACE, an acronym for Art, Culture and
>> Entertainment, is bringing this one-of-its-kind programme for the
>> first time in India.
>> A chill runs down the spine as one embarks on this spooky journey with
>> a white cane in hand to grope the way around. But a
>> visually-challenged guide is always at hand to help. The creepy
>> feeling is only for a while till you get adjusted to the blackout.
>> With the eyes out of action, the other sensory organs get active.
>> Almost involuntarily, one lumbers around with outstretched arms to
>> discover pebbles under the feet and plants along the way. A bird
>> chirps yonder and as one sits on the bamboo chair, it is clear as
>> daylight that it's the Kasu Brahmananda Reddy Park.
>> A few turns in the dark brings one bang into the shopping mall. Here,
>> leave it to the olfactory and the gustatory senses to tell what is in
>> store.
>> Laad Bazar
>> As you potter around, you lay hands on the most priceless thing. Yes,
>> you guessed right - the onions.
>> There are other things like spices, watermelon and soaps. Next, you
>> saunter into the Laad Bazar. This is clear from the jingling bangles.
>> Grope for the familiar pan shop, the tyre puncture kiosk and the
>> public telephone. As you are through the bangle street, get ready for
>> a boat ride in the dark waters of Hussainsagar. It's quite an
>> experience.
>> The journey winds up with the Taste of Darkness.
>> Here, you are served your favourite snacks. Well, that is the dark
>> side of the story. And the bright side is that visitors begin to see
>> the sightless not as disabled, but differently-abled persons.
>> Inclusiveness
>> "It helps promote inclusiveness and appreciation of diversity," says
>> S.V. Krishnan, founding director, ACE.
>> Also one develops concentration and listening skills.
>> "You gain self-confidence and try to push your limits," adds Sudha
>> Krishnan, chief operating officer, DiD.
>> This eerie experience comes for a price - Rs. 300 apiece. Dialogue in
>> Dark is out of bounds for kids below eight.
>> So guys, what are you waiting for? Get ready to challenge darkness.
>> Celebrating Louis Braille's birthday, Jan. 4th.
>> To unsubscribe send a message to
>> accessindia-request at accessindia.org.in with the subject unsubscribe.
>> To change your subscription to digest mode or make any other changes,
>> please visit the list home page at
>> http://accessindia.org.in/mailman/listinfo/accessindia_accessindia.org
>> .in
> With thanks and regards
> "I turned to speak to God
>               About the world's despair;
>               But to make bad matters worse
>               I found God wasn't there."
>                                 --Robert Frost
> (Rajesh Asudani)
> Assistant General Manager
> Reserve Bank of India
> Nagpur
> Cell: 9420397185
> o: +91 712 2806846
> R: 2591349
> With thanks and regards
> "I turned to speak to God
>               About the world's despair;
>               But to make bad matters worse
>               I found God wasn't there."
>                                 --Robert Frost
> (Rajesh Asudani)
> Assistant General Manager
> Reserve Bank of India
> Nagpur
> Cell: 9420397185
> o: +91 712 2806846
> R: 2591349
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> Celebrating Louis Braille's birthday, Jan. 4th.
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