Notable Deaths Elsewhere

July 13, 2009


Advocate for the blind

Harold W. Snider, 61, a prominent advocate for the blind who helped craft legislation that expanded the civil rights of Americans with disabilities and aided in the launching of an audible newspaper service, died June 26 at his home in Rockville, Md., after a heart attack.

While growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., Snider said he was forced out of regular third-grade classes because he was blind. His parents sued the Duval County school system, and Snider became the first blind student in the county to graduate from public school.

The experience launched Snider's interest in advocacy, and in the mid-1970s he reportedly became the first blind employee of the Smithsonian Institution. As a handicap program coordinator for the fledgling National Air and Space Museum, he worked to make the facility a vivid experience for the sight-impaired.

"You can't look at the spacecraft, so you touch it, or you hold a model of it or a raised line picture of it," Snider told United Press International in 1976.

After Snider worked for the Republican National Committee on disability issues, President George H.W. Bush appointed him in 1990 as deputy executive director of the National Council on Disability. In that role, he served as a liaison among the council, the White House, Congress and the media.

Survivors include his second wife, of Rockville; two children from his first marriage, David Snider of Alexandria, Va., and Ellen Underwood of Fairfax County, Va.; three stepchildren; his mother, Shirley Snider of Jacksonville; two sisters; and three grandchildren.

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