Why a Waiting List for Disabled Young Adults is Sabotaging Our Human Right to Shelter

Dear readers,

I know this sounds wrong, I know this might come off to some of you as entitlement, but imagine yourself a senior 62 years or older. How many places and things do you qualify for? Now, go blind and be in your young years, like 18-60, just below the senior line. How many places do you qualify for? You’re at the bottom for consideration for marriage, social status, jobs and transportation and that’s not acceptable. I was recently attacked on Facebook for begging in some people’s minds. I was literally beyond furious with a law firm that refused to represent me, and it led to one woman calling me a narcissist. First and foremost, what is narcissism? That’s for another post for another day, but the takeaway I got from most of these vehement critics is that I was “entitled” to “special treatment.” That’s not the case, not at all.

On April 19, thereabouts, my beloved Clayton Jacobs applied to be a resident here at this building, the one on West Ninth, but was met with barriers along the way. He was met with much opposition from the staff, which included but was not limited to a print or PDF image application he could not read or even render with his Voiceover or NVDA (nonvisual desktop access) screen reader. Most of my Facebook cohorts suggested a risky venture to get that done, divulge personal information to strangers. Clayton does not like to do this, and does not trust anyone to fill out papers for him which is understandable because of his upbringing, which on no uncertain terms, nobody is familiar with. LEt me give a brief backstory, and use one sentence to describe Clayton’s upbringing. It’s only one thing: toxicity but also violence. People have done violent and toxic stuff to him in the past, same with me, so we’re demanding that the building change things so we don’t have to put ourselves at risk and divulge personal information. In an age where a credit card can be compromised on the dark web, we should be prioritizing blind people’s identities and interests, including making all housing applications usable and accessible online through PDF’s that are tagged for being filled accessibly, meaning all the form fields can be rendered so you fill them out easily with a screen reader. I saw such forms for Denver’s court system when applying for a restraining order against an online frenemy. I was scared that this frenemy was gonna put me in danger by being present in Denver, spreading rumors, threatening me and my then boyfriend and congratulating him for hurting and abusing his power as a man to be insecure, impose religious sexual restrictions, and many other things. Men who do this type of thing don’t appeal to me, and that’s a whole post for a different week.

For all I’ve been through, I want to explain the reason we’re seeking front of the line preferential treatment as it were from this building.

  1. Trenton and I split amicably, and I want to ensure that both my cell is paid off, Trenton gets a pad and the mother doesn’t make him block or report my contact information.
  2. I do not see this as any less of a case, but Clayton was gentrified out of Arizona because of high housing prices, high rent from an apartment building which is fair market no assistance, and of course he’s also blind.
  3. There is a special risk for blind females, LGBTQ males and females with disabilities, and so many other groups of people who are homeless. Homelessness is not fun, and I’m not going to allow myself to be pregnant with someone’s kid other than Clayton’s, which means anyone who tries to rape, rob, steal or mug me is going to have to head for the high jump because I’m not interested in anyone else. A women’s shelter and men’s shelters are not safe places for Clayton, myself and Trenton. Clayton’s experiences as a homeless man in California have taught him a lot, and Trenton does not even deserve to be left in the dark. I may be an ex lover of his, but for you who say I’m selfish and narcissistic, go fly somewhere else because I care about Trenton’s risk of being shot, mugged or raped. Clayton has seen it all, practically, but I don’t want him to see anything detrimental to both of us. All I see in our cards is victory, and if this building case is any example of how persecuted we are as a people who are young and blind, I don’t know what else to say. This building does not administer a waiting list properly, and it prioritizes Hispanic seniors over younger blind American adults. They Bombshelled Clayton with the 3.5 year wait list, and I won’t allow them to do this because of the print and the inaccessible parts of the common areas we discovered.

Here are the highlights:

  1. We saw inaccessible buttons in the laundry room on the washers and dryers, and a very visually based machine that tells you how much you have on your laundry card. The machine pretty much is visual, not adaptable for blind people, so if a building says they’re for seniors/disabled, they must accommodate blind people. End of story. Laundry rooms like this one require the so called assistance of a sighted caregiver, and even that is not good. Only two washers work at a time, and there are many more, but the residents seem to enjoy breaking and defiling the washers and dryers. That makes it hard for people like my caregiver April to do her job. People need to respect all property on the premises.
  2. We discovered inconsistent locker labeling, some keys weren’t also labeled, and there are a lot of things about the mailboxes I could say that wouldn’t look too good in print. They’re not labeled to put it mildly.
  3. The vending machine things aren’t labeled, and they need to be because let’s face it. Blind people see the vending machine, or they hear it if you want to be so politically correct, and the machines just have blank buttons on them, plus sometimes you don’t know if a product is sold out or the thing is empty. Shame on the building for doing this.
  4. Pertinent information such as lease agreements, papers related to important news about building stuff and the calendar must be made accessible. They aren’t. The building’s excuse? “We have to print the stuff in nine languages.” I call bullshit. I call serious bullshit because bullshit is as bullshit does, and there is technology that can enable you to change languages and scripts so easily, plus Braille is though a loud thing to print out, it is still doable with the writing programs and transcribing things like Duxbury for example. There are tons of transcription softwares available for Braille and yet nobody cares. Well, blind people need to learn Braille anyway, and deafblind people need access too. The blind and the deaf/blind need to be able to have independent lives, and the community unfortunately is responsible for this. Why? Because the sighted and able community has set up a world that doesn’t like or care about blindness or deafness or both in combination.

How do we expect to do things? Well, here’s what we are doing now.

I’m fixing to apply for more creative writing jobs, but music lessons require a Bachelor’s, which for me has been a barrier because of blindness and people’s misunderstanding of such. Blindness is a sensory disability, and let me tell you it’s been a rough road for nearly 36 years. Blindness in the skills terms is the use of nonvisual techniques to achieve the same thing as a sighted person, but the kicker is that society is sight supremacist. How is it, you ask? LEt’s take a look.

First, the minute you’re born. When Clayton and I were each born in places like Iowa and Florida, the docs told our mothers differing things, but I clearly remember my mother telling me what her OBGYN said, or was it her obstetrician? He said clearly, “She will not get a driver’s license.” That was the beginning of my mother’s furious wrath about me being blind. Clayton’s mother might have heard a similar thing, but what doctors do in the pattern of dissing disability is simple. They tell you to put the kid away in a box and forget the child, have another to replace them. This happens to a variety of kids, including blind and intellectually disabled people. 80% of Down’s Syndrome babies are aborted through the use of prenatal testing every year, and people get the wrong impressoin of disabled infants and childcare for those people. Down’s babies and children need special consideration for all kinds of aspects, but blindness being the most biblically feared makes doctors do a double take. Both mine and Clayton’s blindness conditions were from birth, but both of us got blind in different ways. My mother had Rubella syndrome, but Clayton once said something about genetics, but what are the chances of us having blind kids? We could keep going but it would lead down a strange path.

The minute you enter school, there are barriers everywhere. Clayton’s and my lives were very different, but still almost similar. My mother didn’t know how to bring up a blind female child, and she abused me because she didn’t want an illegitimate child out of wedlock. Clayton’s mom and dad had two more kids, a boy and later a girl. I had two brothers to contend with. While we both had issues with siblings, mostly because they got all the gold and attention, we had far different experiences when it came to violence and how each family unit dealt with it. While my parents kept on rewarding my brothers for hurting me, only to stop when I kept telling them it was unfair what they did for them versus me, Clayton’s parental units rewarded violence and anger out of his brother, as if to say, “Okay, go ahead and kill your brother.” It was as if the violence in his own family was a game to get rid of the most vulnerable person in the house, and for a variety of reasons, the brother went on to become a criminal in a prison system. Clayton lives now with all the anger and hurt inside, and it comes out sometimes, but it’s not necessarily his fault. I try to be there, but it’s tough sometimes. I love him so much, and I see good in him a lot, that good being the tender way he embraces me, kisses, and whatever else he does. I won’t go into it here.

AS for both our educations, they were hampered by teachers. My teacher of the visually impaired, while I had a long relationship with her, was stupid enough to tell strangers about my love life. Clayton had a variety of personalities and TVI’s to work with. There is a TVI shortage, so if anyone wants to be one, just learn Braille and cane skills too, and close your eyes and try to live as we do every day. I had good cane instructors, but I was experiencing a lot of emotional abuse at home. Clayton’s abuse might have looked a bit or a lot worse, but abuse is abuse no matter what the cause. Most disabled children experience one or more forms of abuse, especially female children around the world. Disabled females seem to be undesired all over the globe, especially in the third world, but it doesn’t get much better in the United States and first world countries. For instance, the Braille literacy rate among blind people is now 7%, according to some new study Clayton pulled out. Not shocking, it was 10% in my youth. 7 is unacceptable, only 3 out of 10 blind children are taught Braille by a properly certified TVI, teacher of the visually impaired. Clayton and I are the lucky few blind adults who read Braille, which was invented by a twelve-year-old French boy in a blindness school, but was vehemently opposed by his French school directors for the reason that the directors wanted the students at that school to be so heavily dependent on them. Sight supremacy at its finest occurred in this school back in the day. We would visit French monuments, including the blind school in France, where Braille was invented, but what I want to really do is visit Notre Dame, listen to the sounds of a pipe organ, hear the bells peeling the vespers and evening mass or something, but that doesn’t mean I’m discounting blind schools. They might have restrictions on visitors. Foreign visitors might be intimidating, but if I spoke French, I might have the ability to persuade the heads up that I can visit the spot and learn about the history of braille. Louis Braille invented this writing system, yet only 7% of the blind read it all the time.

When you leave school, you get seriously destroyed in college. Both Clayton and myself are college dropouts, neither of us has a Bachelor’s, but I have an Associates of Arts degree, which Clayton said was more than he could get. That AA is going to serve me in some areas, but Bachelor’s degrees are required for so many things. I can’t get the Bachelor’s however because of general education requirements that may have visual things to fix. In Clayton’s case, community college and universities refused him, didn’t accommodate, or flat out violated his right to get the degree of choice, and left him with so much debt. I won’t go into detail here, but for me, that debt was there nonetheless, but debt collectors met me on the phone and said to me to pay up, but I said, I don’t have any resources and won’t enrich those who threaten or harass other people for a living. I ended blocking university style debt collections agencies instead of answering the phone anymore. Clayton was still required to pay back his debt, which is hampering him from doing other things he wants to do with his life, things like provide for his partners or buy a home for himself and anyone else who cares to say they love and appreciate him. I do, of course. I have possibly got a credit freeze, and this is because of my parents or someone hiding information about me from credit bureaus. I don’t know if this is sert in stone but that’s one possible reason I can’t use credit apps and such, can’t get a credit score in Braille because I have zero. At least I don’t use credit careds, but I need to be able to build credit. Most disabled teenagers and adults don’t even know the first thing about finance or credit, and most apartments are requiring credit checks and so on. This makes it an affront to blind and disabled young adults. We need shelter, and without credit checks, we’d be better off.

Now, when you marry, you lose benefits. Blind people should not lose anything for loving another, and to love another is the greatest feeling in the world. Clayton’s marriages ended but the takeaway is that divorces are not pretty, benefits and SSI is cut, and the women he married expected him to get a job, any job. For me, the man has to do honest work, legitimate work at home jobs included. Clayton has had some work experience, has an excellent work ethic, and gets stuff done. He recently laid out a beat for a song he composed, and he’s bound to get an album full of songs done under his stage name, esoteric Quality. I love his music, and some of you may say nay to his stuff, but his stuff speaks truths no rapper dares venture into. NOt even Dr. Dre or Snoop Dogg gets into things like blindness and the struggles of a disabled or blind man. I do want to confess his latest track, Conniving Mastermind, is a gem. When thousands of years pass, and both clay and myself are dead and buried, I want that track to be considered a classic alongside Tupak and Biggie and all the other rappers who are either dead or gone in a time gone by. Rap and hip hop is one way Clayton has found helps with his coping skills, and I’m proud of him for writing the lyrics he does, but here’s the kicker. Both of us have similar experiences with psych wards and psychological care. What some people don’t understand is that rap and hip hop artists are not psychologically unstable people. Tupak was a great rapper, so was DMX, so was the Notorious B.I.G. Esoteric Quality will go down in history as someone who’s trying to wake up the world with his music, and I love what he’s doing because having your independence or writing rap lyrics are no justification to put someone in psychological confinement, and that’s what happened to each of us. I want to say the therapists at Wuesthoff Hospital in Melbourne, Florida should have taken a closer look at the guardianship and realized my parents were abusing me with it. Clayton got his wish from what I can see about his rap lyrics, but not without a school reprimand which was unreasonable and so on. I also wasn’t allowed to socialize with my class on a Disney or Universal Studios theme park trip. Clayton got no walk across the stage at high school graduation. It always saddens me when I try to think of what our children’s future will be, Clayton having to tell this part of the story. Some disabled people don’t even get to walk because they are on special diploma and have bad grades. Exceptional education students oftentimes have to stay till they turn 21, colleges refusing to accept them.

Some kids get married out of high school, and others college. When a blind person tries to start life out, housing is difficult to find, wait lists abound, and we have no choice but to live with Mommy and Daddy, but in our case, we fully refuse to do so because of abuses. Clayton’s and my parental units do not deserve access to their grandchildren from us, which we agreed on, and my parents don’t deserve a daughter if they can’t treat my rights and my finances and yes, my person, with respect. They did none of that. Allowing a violent sibling to rape, rob and abuse the blind person is not being nice and not contributing positively to that person’s upbringing. Moving on.

While seniors can apply for untold numbers of services, blind adults are left isolated and alone, some committing serious suicide, some crimes. It has become apparent that the National Federation of the Blind is untrustworthy because of sexual abuse scandals that rocked the organization’s training centers. It is not safe for anyone to attend Ruston, Littleton’s or Minneapolis’s training centers because the staff and students need to relearn boundaries and proper relating to each other. End of story.

As for the entitlement, we’ve fought all our lives for existence. I have to fight for existence that is more peaceful, including the right to vote, marry and love the man or woman I deserve and the right to be respected. I have a right to being included in all decisions pertaining to myself, including about where I live, in whom I should trust and with whom I have intimacy. End of discussion. My rights are mine, not up for debate. Entitlement is a dangerous thing to think about disabled people. With the rampant abuse of disabled males and females, there are other people to consider.

First off, I want to consider what happens in disaster circumstances like the pandemic. Clayton and I need to be given material that helps us foster our independence, not forces us out of activities and isolates us. I was forced out of DWC and Soar because of rides and illegitimacy of any request for such. Soar wanted $5 of my wallet, but that ain’t happening. It’s not contributive to my survival at this point, and it’s not contributing to my self care. I’ll do a post on self care and what that means later.

For jobs, I want to tell you I applied for two jobs, and I’m applying for more, but they’re in creative writing. I might be a ghost writer for some random company. I don’t quite know, but it’s a romance sample they want, and that’s what they’ll get.

However, the process by which most applications work is sickening to say it mildly. Clayton can’t readily apply to just any job because it has to match skills and requirements, some including that you need a driver’s license. Even if the job doesn’t need driving, this piece is designed to wipe out disabled applicants for such. This must stop.

If no one is willing to hire blind people, that is why the so called entitlement should exist, and should be considered more than that of seniors and sighted supremacists. In fact, a white supremacist who shot up a supermarket was glorified by not only the fact that someone liked his manifesto, but that someone had the guts to say he was mentally ill, but I’ll give Jason Black credit for saying he knew what he was doing. He’s right. Sight supremacy is dangerous, and this housing crisis spells out why.

So we filed complaints with HUD and the CCRD, Colorado Civil Rights Division, and we got almost a slow as sugar molasses response from different people, but we’re chugging along.

Thank you guys for reading, and please feel free to engage in the comments.

Beth

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.

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