2/1/13, No. 59
Cheap braille: I have been accused of being a dupe of my own ignorance. That I lack self-reflection. That I don’t see myself as I appear to others. At least that’s what my snooty-pants brother-in-law, Professor Harold Hill of the University of North Florida tells me. Actually, he’s the one accusing me. He calls me “the wonderful Yahoo.” (Is this an insult?) But then he’s in the education business. He’s got a Ph.D. All those education folks have a vested interested in telling the uneducated they’re ignorant. That’s how they make their money. Professors tell the uneducated they’re ignorant and make ’em feel so ashamed, they go spend all their hard-earned cash on tuition. And that’s how my brother-in-law’s salary gets paid. He makes money on this deal. But I’m on to him. I see the big picture. He’s not going to pull the wool over my eyes! I don’t need no education.
This subject (of my supposed ignorance) came up with my brother-in-law when he and I were discussing our fair city, Rio on the River. Mayor Alvin Brown has a plan to revitalize its downtown. Downtown Vision. It’s “the vision thing”: Vision Thing. The phrase was coined by Bush 41—the “read my lips” guy.
Bush 41 assumed people didn’t know ASL and could see
Like Bush 41, Mr. Mayor also is into the vision thing. It’s a good thing he’s looking ahead. What prospect does he have in store? On January 29th, your paper reported that Mr. Mayor had made a big announcement: “Jacksonville mayor wants to invest $9 million in downtown.” On the 31st, I received an email from Mr. Mayor saying JCCI “has been working with the community to build a common vision for the future of our city.” The Mayor assumed I must have been one of the hundreds of “energetic Visioneers.” Notice Mr. Mayor doesn’t envision a campaign titled “What’s Next” or “Moving Forward” or “The Next Step” or even “The Next Level.” No, he’s going for the very best he can imagine: “Downtown Vision.”
But there’s a problem. He’s never going to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. When is the mayor going to see the error of his ways? Anyone with eyes can see what’s wrong. Let’s look at the facts: visually, downtown is downtown. While it’s true things aren’t always what they appear to be, in the case of downtown, the appearance is always going to be the reality. It’s a WYSIWYG: what you see is what you get. In a recent letter to you I offered a solution for the downtown: Moss Fire Two What’s really happening here is this: Mr. Mayor is yet again promoting big government, the all-seeing eye. But in the spirit of cooperation, I want to offer an observation. Because I want to help, I’ll see what I can do. It’s all about image. And image is money. One place immediately appearing where Mr. Mayor can cut costs in revitalizing downtown would be to not put so much money into braille signs. One company’s got the monopoly for supplying them to Jacksonville’s Public Works Department, and they’re eating up the city’s budget: Compliance Signs.com Are they ever going to see the light? Don’t they look at what they’re doing? Don’t they ever review their procedures? Don’t they see what’s happening? They need to look again by opening up the bidding process so they can get the cheapest possible braille. In the twinkling of an eye competitive bidding would reduce costs. I’ve seen it happen elsewhere..
The ADA mandates that, to be compliant, governments and private companies post braille signs, but the law and the courts also talk about only having to make accommodations that are “reasonable.” But “reasonable” is in the eye of the beholder. Is it reasonable to expect a braille sign be put absolutely everywhere?.
I’m talking about the signs outside restroom doors telling blind people if the restroom is for men or for women. Are they really necessary? Is this not giving enough credit to blind people? Are they not bright? Can’t they figure out quickly if they’re in the wrong restroom?
Sometimes you just gotta turn a blind eye to every demand made on you. And then, what purpose is served by producing high-quality braille signs? Not much. In fact, they contribute to the downfall of our great country by making people soft. High-quality braille ruins a person’s character. I mean, I like blind people as much as any other Tea Partier. Anybody can see that. I love ’em to death. But it’s a total waste of taxpayer dollars to throw money away on them. For example, why spend extra $$$ to produce braille signs that are pleasant to the touch. As in, making signs where the little bumps aren’t too pointy. It shouldn’t have to be the city’s business to make every braille sign feel nice. Talk about pointless, feel-good initiatives! No pun intended. What does it matter if it’s prickly?
I think about our Anglo-Saxon-Jute ancestors and how soft we’ve become in comparison to them. Back in 600 AD, you had to be tough if you were going to land on English shores, torch the villages, club the Celtic males to death, and rape their women. I bet the braille signs the Anglo-Saxon-Jutes used had sharp points. Their braille probably drew blood. But they didn’t whine. But then, as I said, they were a hardier people.
Okay. I think I’ve said enough now about braille signs and blind people and Mayor Brown’s big vision. I’ve enlightened you enough for one day. It’s tiring, lifting the veil of ignorance from people’s eyes. If the Mayor and the Jacksonville City Council would just look at things the way I do and take my insights to heart about braille signs, they could make a visible difference. And if they would apply my insights across the board to absolutely every aspect of downtown redevelopment, I think pretty soon we’d see a downtown that’d be pretty different even from the one we now see.
Maybe this will help you see:
In any case, I think I have admirably demonstrated why my brother-in-law’s advice is not needed. I don’t see the point. The University of North Florida’s not goin’ to get my hard-earned cash. They better look elsewhere for a sucker. I don’t need no education. It’s not going to change the way I see things.
Now, Mr. Snooty-pants college professor, do you finally see?
Don’t bother to reply. I’m just going to turn a deaf ear.
See you later,
I confess, my character has been ruined by silky-soft braille. Perhaps I should blog about the moral deterioration that accompanies several years reading pleasant braille.