John G. Heim
jheim at math.wisc.edu
Wed Apr 10 10:24:41 EDT 2013
Oh, yeah, I believe you are talking about the time I went to a job
interview and I already had like 20 years of experience in systems
administration and programming. All this was on my resume, of course,
but when the woman who was going to interview me saw that I am blind,
she flatly refused to interview me at first. She wouldn't believe a
blind person can use a computer. I had to convince her that the stuff on
my resume was real. She went ahead with the interview but she clearly
didn't believe a word I was saying. I sure wish I had had the presence
of mind to let her send me away. Then I could have sued her dumb a**.
I don't think there should be any question that prejudice is a far
bigger factor than anything blind people bring upon themselves. I mean,
I look back at my co-workers over the years and there is no way they are
any better than many of the unemployed blind technologists I know.
Here's the deal... Blind people never get to skate by. Blind people
never have things just handed to them. Blind people can't just show up
for work every day, put in their 8 hours, go home, and expect to keep
doing that for 20 or 30 years. You have to fight for every new
assignment, every promotion, every raise you get.
You might be thinking, "Well, everyone has to do that." Yeah, sort of.
But the difference in degree is so great that it's astonishing. Keep
your eyes open and you will see. The vast majority of people skate by.
They just pretty much show up for work every day. The economy takes a
downturn and they get layed off. But eventually, they find another job.
A blind person has to fight for everything he gets. I am well aware that
a lot of blind people just need a good kick in the butt. But if that was
all it took to be unemployed, the whole world's unemployment rate would
be around 80%.
I'm not whining. None of this really applies to me. I've never been
unemployed for a single day since I got my first job after college. I
started each new job literally the day after I left my previous job. In
fact, I feel extremely lucky that I happen to be so good at making
computers work. I didn't do anything to deserve that. I have worked very
hard and I've been smart managing my career. But what if I wasn't good
at computers? Where would I be? I don't know. But I do know a lot of
sighted people who aren't particularly well motivated, not particularly
good with computers, and who have never had a problem finding a job. I
don't know any blind people like that. If you're blind, you have to be
very good and very motivated or you are probably going to be unemployed.
Note that I said *probably*. I know some blind people skate by. But like
I said, its a matter of degree and that difference is huge.
On 04/10/2013 03:20 AM, Tony Baechler wrote:
> I agree. John on this list has his own story of how he got hired by the
> math department of the University of Wisconsin. However, it makes a lot
> better case if the blind person can read and write. Let's take an
> average sighted person. I suppose there are exceptions nowadays, but I
> can't imagine an employer hiring that average sighted person if they
> don't have literacy. For one thing, how would they fill out the job
> application? The blind person's solution would either be a sighted
> reader or a scanner, but I would guess that most employers would find it
> rather strange if a sighted person brought their reader with them and
> explained that they can't read print. I do agree with you completely
> that the blind person needs to try harder and has more to overcome, but
> I still think that literacy has a lot to do with it, regardless of being
> blind. Nowadays, most jobs require at least a college degree and I
> don't see how a sighted person would get one if they can't read.
> Granted, reading Braille isn't the same as reading print, but at least
> the blind person can show the ability to take notes, phone messages,
> etc. In the computer industry, I've heard that it's a lot easier to do
> programming with a Braille display, but I don't have one and I'm not a
> On 4/9/2013 11:18 AM, acollins at icsmail.net wrote:
>> Hi Tony. To a certain extent, you are right. But while being able to
>> read and write properly, and have good gramar is important, I would
>> argue that the misperceptions, and misunderstandings about blindness
>> are the larger problem.
>> Most sighted folks just don't have a clue about what is possible for a
>> blind person, and because they can't conceive of how a blind person
>> functions through out his daily life, they aren't willing to give a
>> blind person a chance. Saddly, I've experienced enough of this kind of
>> behavior to know that what I say is true.
>> A successful blind person always has to try a bit harder, and make a
>> better impression than his sighted counterparts. I'm not crying in my
>> beer, just expressing the facts. Blind folks who allow themselves to
>> feel sorry for themselves, just won't cut it, and there are a lot of
>> them out there. Saddly, like thesong says, "That's just the way it is."
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