While USA Today and others have chastized the Treasury Department for appealling a decision that would force them to produce paper money that could be recognized by the blind, one blind organization says “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Marc Maurer, president of the 50,000-member National Federation of the Blind, writes that making changes in the currency specifically for the blind gives off false implications.
Changing the currency only for the sake of the blind implies that we can’t look out for our own best interests and are generally helpless and incompetent. If society believes we walk around not knowing how much money is in our pockets, it might also believe that we are not competent to work and do business with others. Such beliefs would make our goal of full integration into society virtually impossible.
I’m not blind, so I have no idea what it is like to not be able to see my surroundings. But this is the type of attitude that I respect from any person. He acknowledges his disability, but reminds people that equal treatment means equal treatment not special treatment.
Maurer wants to fight against the soft bigotry of low expectations. When you constantly ask others to do things for you or whatever group of people for which you are speaking, they begin to assume that you can’t accomplish things on your own. You need someone else’s help. He wants the nation to know that he and other blind individuals can do things on their own.
He also wants blind people, and all minorities, to take the place they have in society seriously – not crying wolf when none is present.
The blind are a minority. Though it is crucial that minorities have a voice in society, it is also the responsibility of every minority to use that voice wisely and not to cry discrimination when no discrimination has occurred. The blind of America will fight discrimination wherever we find it, but we will not do so by falsely portraying ourselves as victims and engaging in frivolous litigation.