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crossing that doesn't have a ir, you can't make that street nd that barrier should be rehat would be set by the Amerappropriately so. e don't really face that kind of Cr. Miller said, it is really not ss th street or ride the bus or ings being done. 1, which might fall in the catewould be done-they might fall nice to do. Quite frankly, we things should not be done, that to install them is discriminato1. ; light, it is discriminatory besage to the public about blind e street, God forbid, if it wasn't imits me. If somebody believes at, all of a sudden Congress in nstall, they leave out the whole je shown to do things. ning we have and the tools we re dealing with the same situa'icans With Disabilities Act has Il forms, attitudinally as well as

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understanding and public and social acceptance. This will be the case with or without the Americans With Disabilities Act

The best accommodation for a blind person in moving about is a long white cane and the training to use it. Both are available in abundance.

Mr. Chairman, from the moment the Americans With Disabilities Act is signed into law, that act will affect blind persons and millions of others in almost every activity of our lives. Think about that. If that act sets accommodation as the standard for using transportation facilities and services, as it currently does, then many thousands of us will be forced to travel and move about even, perhaps, on the public streets under discriminatory conditions.

Accommodation for persons with disabilities is, no doubt, a very necessary standard to provide equal rights for some persons in some instances. However, the right to access for some should not also become the basis for discrimination against those of us who already have access.

If access, under the accommodated terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act is our only choice, then we would have no choice but to oppose that Act. I hope that would not be our choice, however. The law must strike a balance. We are prepared to offer language in the form of an amendment to the act to achieve just exactly this kind of balance.

We are prepared both to be flexible and reasonable about this language. But I can tell you one thing. We are not prepared to endure what could become the practices of legalized discrimination. We are already experiencing that kind of incident in respect to the airlines. It is not real pleasant for us.

Mr. Chairman, discrimination against persons with disabilities is absolutely wrong. The Americans With Disabilities Act should, emphatically, and forthrightly prohibit it in any form. The right of individual choice to participate with or without accommodation is a central, unresolved ambiguity in the act, but it is a principle that the act should uphold. I gather that Mr. Miller agrees with that.

If that ambiguity is not resolved by specific, statutory language, then the act could become a civil rights fiasco. We have a chance to prevent that from happening. I think that with your help, we can do it.

Thanks a lot.

Mr. MINETA. Thank you very much, Mr. Gashel, for a very fine statement. The National Federation of the Blind supports the principle of the right of the individual to choose to use surface transportation services with or without special accommodations. From the testimony that we have heard today from other representatives of the community of people with disabilities, including the American Council of the Blind, there are, obvious disagreement on whether or not special accommodations are needed to achieve accessibility.

How would you propose to balance the individual's desire or need for special accommodations against another individual's desire or need to not be specifically accommodated?

Mr. GASHEL. I think we have to balance that by what the Americans With Disabilities Act is seeking to do. The Americans With Disabilities Act is seeking to end discrimination. The kinds of things that we are talking about in respect to blind people using transportation are—that is, the accommodation items that may be discussed-are really not discrimination issues.

For example, let's take not a bus example but a street-crossing. I use the beeping traffic light. It is a plain fact that a street crossing is not discriminatory against a blind person if it doesn't have a beeping traffic light. You can cross the street without it. As a matter of fact, it is a different situation than what you have if you are in a wheel chair.

You see, if you have got a street crossing that doesn't have a curb cut and you are in a wheel chair, you can't make that street crossing. You have got a barrier, and that barrier should be removed. And that is the social policy that would be set by the Americans With Disabilities Act, and very appropriately so.

It is a different situation for us. We don't really face that kind of barrier in crossing the street. As Mr. Miller said, it is really not that kind of issue. You can still cross the street or ride the bus or do any of the things without those things being done.

So those are things, Mr. Chairman, which might fall in the category-even if we agreed that they should be done—they might fall in the category of things that are nice to do. Quite frankly, we happen to think that some of those things should not be done, that they are not nice to do and, in fact, to install them is discriminatory rather than the other way around.

In the case of the beeping traffic light, it is discriminatory because it conveys a false public message to the public about blind people. It says that we can't cross the street, God forbid, if it wasn't for the beeping traffic light. That limits me. If somebody believes that I depend upon some device that, all of a sudden Congress in 1989 decided to order somebody to install, they leave out the whole rest of my life, the ability that I have shown to do things.

Our ability comes from the training we have and the tools we can use. So I don't think that we are dealing with the same situation. I think the focus of the Americans With Disabilities Act has to be on ending discrimination in all forms, attitudinally as well as otherwise.

If these special beepers and so forth discriminate attitudinally, we ought to outlaw them.

Mr. MINETA. Again, Mr. Gashel, thank you very, very much for your fine testimony. I look forward to working with you on resolving this issue and making sure that we don't have any unintended results.

Mr. GASHEL. We just don't want to replay the airlines.
Mr. MINETA. That is for sure. Thank you very, very much.
Mr. GASHEL. Thank you.

Mr. MINETA. Thanks to everyone who has so patiently listened or been participating up to this point. Again, there being no further business before the Subcommittee, we stand adjourned until the 26th when these hearings will continue.

Thank you very much
(Whereupon, at 8:18 p.m., the subcommittee recessed.]
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gashel follows:

BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SURFACE TRANSPORTATION

COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORTATION

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Governmental Affairs for the National Pederation of the Blind. My address is 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; telephone: (301) 659-9314. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in this hearing today.

In this hearing you are examining the proposed Americans with Disabilities Act and its effects on programs within the jurisdiction of the Surface Transportation subcommittee. This is a vital subject to blind people. We are transit consumers. Our lives will be greatly affected every day in the future by what you decide to do with respect to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We have some specific advice to offer and lots of experience ={the experience of our own lives) to support our recommendations.

The Federation's national membership exceeds 50,000. have an affiliate in each state and the District of Columbia. There are local NFB chapters in most sizable population areas in the United States. All of our officers and the vast majority of

We

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