A Rant On Section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards Act Part II: The World Costs Too Much for the Blind

Dear Readers,

Let’s return to our story with Blind John who goes to work at Sheltered Place Inc.  Let’s pretend, for a second, that John has a wife, Lisa, and their two small children.  John, remember, has to work at Sheltered Place Inc. because his voc rehab counselor said so.  He was supposed to go to a training center for the blind, but saw that the Counselor said “no.”  Let’s see, John wants to read a book to his little boy, but can’t, because why?  He doesn’t have the money to purchase “Twin Vision” books from the NFB.  What this does is affect his food and water budget.

So where would John, his wife, and kids, all live? What would they do?

What would their budget look like because of the mere pennies per hour that John earns trying to provide for a family?

Because John earns, let’s say, about $1.50 an hour trying to make his life better as well as his family’s, he has to factor in paratransit service, which costs, for example, $4.50 per trip.  This is more than John can earn in a day.  The total cost of paratransit is $9 here in Denver.  So what else?  SSI for both him and his wife is only so much, and because of the marriage penalty (see The Love Life Problem) he has only so much less.  Lisa got pregnant twice in this example, and her two kids, Jake and Susan, are both eight and six, both in school, both in need of food and water.  Because of the costs affected by John’s low wages, let us pretend that for a moment, the budget looks like this:

The rent takes up all of the SSI payments.

This means the two bedroom or three bedroom house the family is renting has a rent of $600.  The couple earns $900 in SSI, and the kids are also on SSI because the blind couple is on SSI.  Social services have made it impossible for John and Lisa to do things together because of the kids and lack of safe babysitting options.

Paying for a sitter is also not an option, so John’s mother sits sometimes for the children, which then frees up what John earns per day.

Unfortunately, that amount of $350 is not enough to pay for the children’s toys, books, and food.

Also, imagine for a moment that John and Lisa want to watch an adult movie.  They can’t.  Not that the movie is pornographic, but let’s say they do not want the kids to watch.  They put the kids to bed, but imagine this: they won’t be able to watch the movie because it’s not available.  They are forced to use an antenna television that doesn’t contain descriptive content.  AS a blind couple, John and Lisa know how important it is to have things like this, but the budget doesn’t cover it.

John and lisa’s budget does not even allow for the children and them to go out for a day of fun.  Families enjoy going out, and because John earns less than the average person, he may not even get much more in SSDI because of marriage.  Guys, what I’m showing you is this: we need to repeal the 14c amendment or throw it out altogether because Johns and Lisas out there will not get what they need as blind people.  If Lisa wanted to read a book to her little kids, how can she if she doesn’t have Braille books with print?  You have to buy those.

You might say, what about free Braille books?  How can you get those?  Book clubs cost still, so yeah.

Getting rid of 14c might do something like this:

John, our blind guy in this case, is working as a music teacher at a high school.  Amid the weirdness, the boring children, the naughty teenage boys, etc., John earns a mere $30 per hour.  That is the minimum wage he could earn as a music teacher.  Let’s also say that John is allowed to work weekends playing piano at a bar.  HE earns the same wage as everybody else, plus tips from the weird people who throw money in a jar and try to stump the piano player.  I’ve seen that done.

John comes home with $5000 in a week, and guess what that does?  He can pay the house mortgage, and Lisa can read books, paid for by John, to her little kids.  Jake and Susan can buy their school lunches, can buy clothes, food, etc.  One day, in the summertime rather, John comes home to lisa and says, “We’re going on a vacation.”  John and Lisa have saved up enough to get theme park tickets or tickets to a national monument for their family.  Lisa, with the help of John’s provisions, is now healthy and happy as a mom, and decides she wants a third child.  In this example, they have a five bedroom house if that’s what they can afford.

Like ordinary citizens, we don’t always know the budgets of John and Lisa couples out there, but we do know one thing.  Section 14c will disable a lot of blind people from reading books on a real Brailler display.  The average Blind John cannot get a Braille machine, Braille display, etc.  What my church pastor does not understand, will never get, and does not see in my life, is that I need to be able to read like everybody else.  Literacy comes through Braille, and I will write something else about how important Braille is.  In fact, let’s go on to Braille anyway.

Now, back to John.  He could have never worked at all, but let’s say that his TVI, Mary, knows and teaches Braille.  One of three things could happen in young John’s life: Mary could teach him Braille.  Period.  Or she could find anything to excuse John from reading Braille.  Ugh.  Or John could not be literate.  Braille is important so that we can spell out words, learn the phonemes of words, etc.

Let’s try a different example and different case names for this one:

Jason is five years old.  HE is totally blind and doesn’t have additional disability as stated by the ADA.  HE is a smart kid, learns quickly, and wants to read a book.  When he goes to school, the teacher shows him how to decode the dots on a page or a display later on.

Fast forward twenty years later.  Jason marries Jessica, and they have a child.  Jessica and Jason are both Braille readers who want to read to their children.  The child, that is, is about four years old.  The problem is that Jason and Jessica also want to read stuff when they form their own business.  Jessica wants to read recipes and cook in the kitchen.  Jason wants to read, using Braille, an instruction manual for putting together the latest gadgets.  The big problem is that the average Braille display or reading device costs about $5000 or maybe around $4000.  HumanWare’s BrailleNote Apex battery is so much to do.  It’s not something I can deal with.  HumanWare has the worst prices along with Hims and other companies who supposedly want you to be able to buy their products.  Let’s say our Jason buys a Freedom Scientific Focus Forty Blue.  Had he paid for it himself, and had he had to pay for Jessica’s eventual purchase of a Braille Note Apex QT, the budget would have been badly affected, and the kids would not get the food, water, and clothing they need to survive.

Just what do these companies think we are?  Voc Rehab is not a cash ATM.  They make you justify, justify, justify every cotton picking thing you want.  Life isn’t a justifiable purchase.  I want to have kids because … justify it.  I want to live in a house because … sighted people get that.  But that isn’t justification.  What is justification?  How would it make you better as a blind person?  Well, as a blind person, I want to be treated like a human being.  I don’t care what diagnosis of whatever I might have, it’s not funny.  I am not happy with the average price of a Braille device.  Recently, work has been under way to get a device under $500.  However, Blind SSI recipients can still not get a Braille display.  I personally am not happy that only 10% of my community is literate.  This includes my boyfriend, some friends, some counselors I’ve even had.  I’m sorry, but literacy is a right, not a privilege, and this goes for my church pastor.  He reads a Bible and notes he takes himself.  Imagine if my good pastor turned blind.

I’m wondering if this would help.  I’ve also been ridiculed for wanting to live with my boyfriend because it appears sinful.  Here’s something to think about, those who do this.  Bus transportation adds up, adds up, adds flippin’ up.  Do you know, as far as I know, what the average cost of bus fares in places like Denver, Phoenix, and god forbid New York are?  NYC may have the highest cost of bus fares in the nation.  L.A. also does as well.  My boyfriend would have to use buses to get to me, and what if he’s stranded in the middle of a street?  Even the best travelers get that way.

I personally am not the best traveler, and I don’t want to be at the moment.  Paratransit for personal trips would also add up.  The only things you can buy with paratransit tickets according to DVR in Colorado are trips to the places you work at, places they approve.  I can’t, for instance, if my boyfriend moved here, say to my counselor, “I want tickets to see my boyfriend.”  They’d say, “Go on the bus or take a cab, that’s it.”  Do you know that even the free bus transit I get with my ADA card is not enough?  I need to be conscious of time.  Why should that ruin the romance?

Because of the illiteracy rate among blind people, my pastor assumes I can’t buy it.  In his mind, if you can’t buy it, you can’t buy it.  Period.  Well, because he’s not blind, he’s not conscious of the fact that as a blind person, you have to use either audible means or other nonvisual means, mainly touch, which costs more, he doesn’t seem to understand.  If my pastor had to be blind, what would he use?

Let’s imagine that any Reverend is blind.  Suppose the pastor had to pick up an audio bible.  That’s one.  But think about the things he does as a sighted man.  HE scribbles notes.  We can’t do that.  So what does he use?  He has to use a BrailleNote with editing capabilities.  With my BrailleNote, flat as it is now, I can edit things right from where the mistakes occurred.  The pastor would have to use alternate means to highlight passages.

Also, Braille would become the way he reads Bible passages aloud to the congregation.  Think about it.  This is something the Pastor needs to think about.  I’m not naming names here.

Disclaimer: All names and case studies here in the post are all fake.  If any of them resemble real people, this is a coincidence.  All names should be considered John Dohs unless otherwise stated.

Author: denverqueen

My name is Beth. I'm blind from birth and enjoy the blogging atmosphere. I am a creative person, a musician, a writer, etc. This is me. Take it or leave it.

2 thoughts on “A Rant On Section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards Act Part II: The World Costs Too Much for the Blind”

  1. I hate these types of situations myself. Also, what about college? I dunno if it’s just me, but career pathways in middle/high school did jack shit for me. Absolutely nothing, except confuse me. School doesn’t teach the proper knowledge. Filing taxes? Balancing checks and general finance? Maybe, but you’re lucky if they don’t just give you a one-stepper type thing where you fill in the blanks and hand it in.
    Looking for a rentable place to live? Oh sure, they make you go to rent.com or whatever and find a place, big fluffing deal. That’s like doing a google search. Who cares? In my opinion, the should get the place, then call them, then schedule an appointment and get tour. Or at least, the call. But public schools take such a languorous approach to everything that it’s a surprise we learn anything useful for adulthood. It’s essentially an 18-year carved out cookie of BS we have little control over. Why not teach people things they’re interested in? Why not encourage work at an early age, and build good character traits and habits early on? Motivation and discipline and fair judgement, more relaxation time than 10 minutes, especially for youngesters. It’s been said that they need to move around more than 10 min in a school day…I believe it. I was a bloody wrecking ball when younger. Always moving around.
    But anyways, this newly revised education would highly encourage a part-time gig at a shop or whatever?

    The problem I see is that whilst we are “well-rounded” (notice the quotes), we am just as useless to the world as a functioning member of society. At least at the time of this comment. Schools shouldn’t focus so much on bullshit, and give people a branched approach to learning. Wanna learn about programming? Here. There’s Mr. Programmer Dude. He’ll get you going. Wanna learn electronics and repair? Down the hallway. Mrs. Hot Electronics Teacher Chick will give you an electrocuting curriculum! Wanna be a stock broker, have no interest in anything but money and its function in fucking up society? Mr. Economics Dude with his suits and briefcase right next door. He’ll even give you a top-down approach for starting your own business. But if you wish to learn more about that, Mr. Bald Small Business Dude is downstiars.
    Get it? Learn whatever the hell you want, and dismiss the BS if you don’t care.
    Required stuff: general life skills that doesn’t just involve cooking a few pancakes and shoveling some old guy’s driveway happens in three hours. Then you go to real, properly taught math class. Where they teach you real shit instead of parallelograms and how long a fucking shadow extends beyond a tree. Who gives a shit! Nope. All the basics, and modular approaches to algebra with programmable calculators early on, where people can code their own formulas. They exist; I have one. Let creativity in math be explored, not dry geometric bullshit!

    While I agree with your post, sadly the world won’t agree or change it. John will stave to death with his wife and kids, unless he starts making crappy auto-tune pop songs with models and all that. John the cash cow will definitely be able to get a very, very nice house, and pay for his children to go to a private school, where they generally have their shit together.

    People always tell me, “Oh just do it.” In reference to getting a job or the like. Well don’t you think I would have if I knew where to start and had a roadmap that didn’t lead to nowhere? Also, any sort of retail jobs I’d want, good luck getting hired. Music mixing and mastering is too generalized and oversaturated, underpaid and generally shitty. Programming requires a bunch of degrees to get into anywhere I’d bother programming for, and plus the general atmosphere around programming would mean a lot of diehard sleepless nights making things work. If there’s dough involved though, I’d be more inclined to do something. I don’t wanna go back to college because it was a failure and waste of money. I wanna get a job that pays well, at least enough to get out of the hole financially, and perhaps, ya know, buy shit I actually want instead of the bare minimum to keep breathing. And I’ve never been one for conventional approaches to problems. I’ll stubbornly sit back until something goes my way, or fight to the death to get something done, my way too.
    Ironically last night, I came to the conclusion I’m sick of screwing around. I’m gonna apply for a few places this week, and bust my ass getting my programming skills to snuff. Then I’ll have useful qualities that people will open their wallets for. Then I can open my wallet, and get guitars and big computers and Terracotta floor tiling … lol!
    Have a great day 🙂

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    1. Wow. 🙂 I love your comments. The whole point of the comment was a major rant against America’s Fair Labor Standards Act. I’d like to do one that takes your words into consideration. Alex, I’m proud of you for saying what you said, trust me, I wish I didn’t have to be an autotune model with no meat on her bones, but we all know that’s required to live comfortably. lol
      The truth of the matter is that the Blind John Doh pictured in the case study is among millions of physically disabled people repeatedly left out of the education system. I agree with you on the useless shit about parallelograms. We need to quit talking about the high points of geometric shit, and we need to get … quite literally … back to basics. We should read what Brian Crosby’s book says about the $.99 teacher, the $100,000 teacher, and then take some of the stuff about Braille into consideration.
      I like all your points, but one thing remains: sifhted Joe can go to a store and easily purchase and use tech where we as blind folks can’t. We have to know stuff ahead of time, read manuals in PDF image format when we can’t, ugh! If we dont know the financial knowhow to manage ourselves, as y ou point out in the best way we should know how to do, we wont know shit. John will definitely starve to death along with wife and kiddies if he and the wife can’t learn to be mmore financially fluent, but again, I meant for this post to be a rant against how much stuff for the blind costs too much. We have a right to read or function just like we in the sighted world do.

      Like

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