[nfbwatlk] fw: Safe not sighted

Lauren Merryfield lauren1 at catliness.com
Sun Mar 28 04:12:20 UTC 2010

When I broke my ankle, I used a wheelchair for seven weeks.  That was mostly 
in my own home but I got around fine.  I didn't have a power chair but a 
manual one.  But I'm sure those who have learned to use a power chair, as a 
blind person, would know what they are doing.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Joanne Laurent" <joanne at blindcoach.com>
To: <nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Saturday, March 27, 2010 1:37 PM
Subject: [nfbwatlk] fw: Safe not sighted

> Below is a forwarded email I read on the O&M listserv seeking support for
> blind wheelchair users in the UK:
> Freedom is a fundamental human right but the UK government is threatening 
> to
> take it away from blind wheelchair users. Help protect our right to 
> freedom.
> The Department for Transport is consulting on proposed changes to the UK's
> laws covering powered mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs. One of 
> the
> proposals is to introduce a fitness to drive test including an eyesight
> test. Imposing a vision requirement would have appalling consequences for
> those of us who are blind and need to use a wheelchair; it would strip us 
> of
> our right to freedom.
> With appropriate use of long canes, guide dogs and/or electronic obstacle
> detectors, blind people can and do safely use powered mobility vehicles. 
> The
> assumption that good eyesight is necessary for the safe use of powered
> scooters and wheelchairs is prejudice, discriminatory and utterly
> unacceptable.
> I am blind and use a powered wheelchair, a long cane and an electronic
> obstacle detector. I am able to independently and safely get out and about
> in my local area. Being able to get around my house, go for a potter 
> around
> the village, pop to the mailbox or go to get a pint of milk from the 
> village
> shop are things that matter hugely to me. If the use of powered 
> wheelchairs
> were restricted to those with good eyesight, blind wheelchair users, such 
> as
> myself, would be trapped in our homes and robbed of our right to freedom.
> That simply cannot be allowed to happen.
> Users of powered mobility vehicles need to drive safely; we do not need to
> be sighted. That is the message we must get across to the Department of
> Transport, the National Health Service, scooter and wheelchair suppliers,
> the general public and the media. To do this, we need evidence and 
> personal
> testimonies.
> Wherever you live in the world, you can help. If you are a blind 
> wheelchair
> user, or if you have worked with any blind wheelchair users, please share
> your experiences. Why is it important that blind people can get around
> independently? Do you believe that blind people can safely and 
> independently
> use powered wheelchairs and scooters? If so, how? What are the techniques,
> tools and skills that make this possible? How did you, or your students,
> learn to use the powered wheelchair or scooter safely? Do you know of any
> published research or practice reports that show that blind people can use
> powered wheelchairs or scooters? The more evidence and testimony we can
> gather from across the world, the better our chance of preventing the
> Department for Transport from implementing this disgraceful plan.
> If you are able to share your experiences, I would appreciate it if you
> could also let me know whether you are happy for me to pass it on to other
> blind wheelchair users in the UK, quote excerpts from it on the Safe Not
> Sighted campaign blog (http://www.safenotsighted.wordpress.com) and/or 
> quote
> excerpts from it in my response to the Department for Transport's
> consultation. If you are happy for me to use your feedback in any of these
> ways, please also let me know whether I may include your name or whether 
> you
> would prefer your comments to be anonymous.
> If you live in the UK, don't allow the Department of Transport to imprison
> blind wheelchair users. Please respond to the consultation on proposed
> changes to the laws governing powered mobility scooters and powered
> wheelchairs (DFT 2010-10), by 28 May 2010, available online at
> http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/2010-10/ and oppose the inclusion
> of an eyesight test in the fitness to drive test. Tell them that we need 
> to
> be safe not sighted.
> Thank you in advance for your anticipated support of the freedom of blind
> wheelchair users.
> Sasha Ayres
> Visit the Safe Not Sighted campaign blog at
> http://www.safenotsighted.wordpress.com
> Joanne Laurent
> Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist
> If you can't learn it, I'm not teaching it right!
> <http://www.blindcoach.com/> www.blindcoach.com
> Highest Expectations Travel and Adaptive Skills Instruction for the Blind
> P.O. Box 586 Ariel, WA 98603
> (360) 231-4597


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