Editor: Many blind children, particularly those with low vision, are not taught Braille. They are forced to use large print materials or electronic enlarging devices.
These methods do work for some, but not for most. Reading rates are too slow to be competitive and eye fatigue and headaches are common. Further, many persons with low vision lose their eyesight as adults.
This is exactly what happened to me two and a half years ago. Thankfully though, I also had good Braille skills so that I was able to continue on with my career without missing a day of work.
Your letter writers Mary E. Brady and David Poehlman say that the issue is not technology vs. Braille, but technology vs. no technology. I disagree. The issue is Braille vs. no Braille.
Your letter writers say that more research is needed. I say that this is hogwash. Blind and visually impaired persons simply need to know how to read and write. We do this by using Braille. Computers and tape recorders are important supplements and powerful tools in themselves but they are no substitute for reading. Reading is how you learn to spell and punctuate and how most of us study things in detail. This is true for the blind as well as for the sighted, and no research is necessary to tell me this.
Technology has its place in the lives of blind persons. Yes, it is opening up more jobs. But blind persons still need good basic competency, such as Braille and cane-travel skills, to take advantage of it. Further, technology in and of itself will not get blind person jobs. We must educate the public about our abilities and capabilities.
The writer is director of the National Braille and Technology Center for the Blind.
Editor: I worked at the Greater Homewood recycling center at Memorial Stadium off and on, and this past year started up the recycling program at Johns Hopkins University. I wonder how many businesses know how much savings there is in recycling. In the first year of the recycling program at Johns Hopkins University, we have recycled more than 130 tons, about 28 percent of the waste stream, which results in a savings of more than $15,000 a year. According to my analysis, JHU can recycle more than 60 percent of its waste stream next year. Isn't it nice when economic and environmental benefits coincide?
Many people have told me they think recycling is a big hassle, with so many little rules about what can be recycled and too few locations at inconvenient hours.
I agree. I'm frustrated too, but let's look at why recycling in Baltimore is the way it is. First, all the little rules: the whole idea behind recycling is the gathering together of bits and pieces of similar material so that industry can remake it into something else. Since each recycling program works with a variety of different companies which serve industry, there are many different ways they request that the material be sorted.
Remember, everything can be recycled, in some sense of the word, but unless you find someone who actually recycles it you have garbage. All those stupid little rules like "screw-top plastic containers only (without the lids)" are industry's way of getting the proper quality of material for their particular processing plant. If you mix the wrong materials in, someone, usually a recycling program volunteer, has to spend time cleaning up the mess before industry will accept the material.
As for the issue of too few locations and inconvenient hours, remember that most recycling in Baltimore is done by volunteer community groups. The solution lies not in demanding more from the volunteers, but to demand more from Baltimore City government.
Baltimore is way behind in its recycling. We should have curbside recycling almost everywhere by now, and because we don't many of the recycling programs are overwhelmed with so VTC much public demand to recycle more and more material. The next time you get frustrated with the lack of recycling options in Baltimore, don't holler at the recycling volunteer, go talk to the mayor or call up the city garbage department and tell them you want curbside recycling -- today.
Health: End 'Fractured' Care
Editor: The political parties are starting a new agenda on national health care. From the looks of it, both parties will favor a fractured form of care. Rather than looking out for all the population, I suspect they are concerned more with the protection of the insurance industry and the medical profession.
I admit to a certain amount of jealousy when I learned of the free health care given to President Bush while I and millions of others are denied that kind of free care and attention.
With a proper system, Medicaid for the poor and Medicare for the elderly could be eliminated, as well as health benefits in industry.