#2. You Could Wind Up in a (Legal) Sweatshop
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All right, things are about to get fairly depressing around here:
Imagine you're blind and a job has opened up in your city, just for you. The work is full-time or part-time, your choice, and they are willing to pick you up from your home and drop you off! Your environment is fully equipped to your needs, and you are paid based on your productivity! Sounds good so far? Now imagine it pays only a quarter an hour.
Also, it's not 1900.
This example isn't from a third-world country. This is the United States, where federal law gives companies permission to pay less than minimum wage to workers who are blind, deaf, or have other disabilities. So, high school students in these categories are sometimes groomed to work in factories and assembly lines where they are paid next to nothing to manufacture goods and provide services that are bought by the government and other upscale companies like L.L. Bean and Barnes & Noble. Though a few of them are transitional facilities designed to prepare people for the professional market, research has found that they're not very good at doing that.
How the hell can this be possible? Well, these sheltered workshops are protected by a law that was established in the 1930s, and while the rest of us have moved on from depression-era work conditions, apparently that's not the case for those who, say, were born with non-working eyeballs. Today, more federal money goes into segregated, sheltered workshops than integrated employment programs. The state of Missouri straight-up brags about how "cost effective" their sheltered workshops are.
Which may in fact be run by a mustachioed Ben Stiller.
And don't get me wrong, it is a great deal for some people. Just ask the CEO of Goodwill, who makes a six-figure salary while paying disabled workers as little as 22 cents an hour.
But really that just brings us to the final point, which is ...
#1. Lack of Sight Isn't the Problem -- People Are
You might have noticed that all these problems have less to do with actually being blind and more to do with how the blind are treated by other people. If society wasn't so weird about it, you'd find that most people could get around without eyesight just fine.
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"Welp, society has stopped being a dick. Better start euthanizing all these seeing-eye dogs."
See, Hollywood views blind people in two ways: They are superheroes or they are helpless. If you are not Daredevil, you are Blinkin -- and as per usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. For example, when my dad was young and had sight, someone taught him to work on cars, and after losing his sight, he still can work on cars. I've personally seen my father change brake pads, brake shoes, replace car batteries, and change oil. He's like Geordi La Forge, if Geordi worked on minivans and wasn't afraid of getting his hands dirty.
Again, my dad's not some superhero. He's just a guy who happens to be blind. Other blind people have mastered skills that you'd think require sight: Ralph Baker is a blind, homeless street photographer who took pictures of tourists in New York, and those tourists didn't even know he was blind. He eventually moved on from photography and managed to steal a building from a man of the same name.
Spencer A. Burnett/NY Post
He was truly a Renaissance man.
Think about it this way: As a species, we all managed to overcome our lack of hair, low physical strength, and slow speed by inventing clothes, robots, and gigantic catapults (what -- how do you get to work?). In other words, we adapt. It's the one single reason we're at the top of the food chain. The blind are no different, and they can get around just as well as you, with the right tools ... if only everyone would stop being such dicks about it.
Related Reading: Humanity is still shockingly behind on numerous things. Like where is the sex education for gay people? And why are women in the military stuck wearing subpar gear? Do you have a story to share with Cracked? Email us here.
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