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Deaf vs Blind

April 13, 2007

http://capcov.org/cgi-bin /showpost.cgi?383

Tuesday April 10, 2007- Blind Commission HB 1274

INRO: The blind would be stealing money from the deaf. So say opponents of a bill that would use money slated for the deaf community to create a commission for the blind. The commission would recommend changes to state services for the blind and visually impaired. The bill recently passed a senate committee on a party line vote and has already cleared the house chamber. Supporters deny claims that the measure would take money away from deaf people. Bente Birkeland reports from Denver.

BENTE: The deaf community says they support blind people, but they don’t think it’s fair to fund a blind commission with money slated for the deaf. Currently people in Colorado pay a 7 cents per month surcharge on their telephone lines. The money pays for telephone relay services and equipment for deaf people that allows them to communicate on the phone. Democratic Senator Suzanne Williams from Denver is sponsoring a bill to use some of that money for a commission for the blind. Jennifer Pfau is the president of the Colorado Association for the Deaf. She spoke through a sign language interpreter. Pfau says she just learned of the bill last week and thinks using the telephone fund for other purposes sets a bad precedent.

PFAU: TK27- 1:26- I feel like they didn’t reach out to us, to the deaf community and what an impact this is going to have on this equipment fund.

BENTE: The Public Utilities Commission or PUC collects about 2 million dollars each year from the telephone fee and says it has a 400 thousand dollar surplus this year, but its not clear if there will be a surplus in the future. Scott Labarre is the president of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. LaBarre says the surplus can easily fund the blind commission.

LABARRE: TK13-2:24- This commission has a fiscal note of 95 thousand dollars this year and 112 next year. This comes well within that surplus. And if there is increased cost in the future, the PUC has the authority to meet those needs.

BENTE: The fifteen member commission would include a wide variety of people form the blind community. Such as a blind teenager, a parent of a blind person, a blind senior citizen, blind advocates and a visually impaired person. The commission would study ways to help blind people live independently and find jobs. But even some people within the blind community are not sold on the idea.

BOYER: TK2 – 3:24- When you force working together that doesn’t necessarily mean you will work together.

BENTE: That’s Barbara Boyer. She heads the American Council of the Blind of Colorado. Boyer says blind organizations have different philosophies on what services people need. But she says she supports the bill even though she doesn’t think the commission is necessary.

BOYER: TK2- 4:20- Lets make sure it’s broken. We don’t really think it’s broken we may be able to shine it up a little bit, there’s probably not a lot that needs to be fixed.

BENTE: About 40 blind people filled a senate hearing room Tuesday. Nicholas Delmonaco from Denver lost he sight when he was 15 because of a degenerative retinal disease. He says he hopes the commission accounts for different philosophies on how blind people should live because he doesn’t agree with some groups. Such as those that want people to read brail and wear dark shades.

DELMONACO TK4- 2:08- They want people to know that you’re blind. They want you to live as a blind person in a sighted world.

BENTE: Delmonaco says he prefers to ask sighted people for help instead of reading brail….and he doesn’t wear sun glasses.

DELMONACO TK4- 1:43-I understand that people want to help me because it’s not because I may appear weak it’s the fact that they want to be kind and I take that full on.

BENTE: Some in the blind community say they wish they weren’t taking the money from the telephone fund for the deaf. And Cliff Moers, who heads the Laurent Clerc Education Fund which runs a charter school for the deaf says it’s a shame to have those in the disabled community fighting for funds. Moers says it further disenfranchises deaf people. He spoke through a sign language interpreter.

MOERS: TK32- 19s- Deaf people seem to be the most oppressed group because we have no access to communications it’s less access. We always have to strive to keep up and catch up.

BENTE: The blind commission bill now heads to a senate appropriations committee. If it passes it then goes to the senate floor for a full debate. I’m Bente Birkeland in Denver.

Bente Birkeland

Reporter – Rocky Mountain Radio

State Capitol Building room 351

Denver, CO 80203

303-832-2649 wk.

303-229-4381 cell.


  1. April 13, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Hey… can I have your permission to refer to this article? Mind provoking. I’m trying to sort my feelings and thoughts out on this one.
    I’m over at tactiletheworld.wordpress.com, give me a shout.

  2. April 13, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    That link we posted is for the public to read. Feel free to use it. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. May 5, 2007 at 4:19 pm

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