info@blindlgbtpride.org (713) 614-3322

Meeting a Guide Dog Team – Some Words of Advice

Who doesn’t love dogs — especially in the LGBT community! Many of our members and allies are either guide dog users or puppy raisers. Check out the info below about interacting with a guide dog team.

Saying Hello to a Guide Dog Team!

• As tempting as it may be to pet a Guide Dog, remember that this dog is responsible for leading someone who cannot see. The dog should never be distracted
from that duty. A person’s safety may depend on their dog’s alertness and concentration.
• It is okay to ask someone if you may pet their guide. Many people enjoy introducing their dogs when they have the time. The dog’s primary responsibility
is to its blind partner and it is important that the dog not become solicitous.
• A Guide Dog should never be offered food or other distracting treats. The dogs are fed on a schedule and follow a specific diet in order to keep them
in optimum condition. Even slight deviations from their routine can disrupt their regular eating and relieving schedules and seriously inconvenience their
handlers. Guide Dogs are trained to resist offers of food so they will be able to visit restaurants without begging. Feeding treats to a Guide Dog weakens
this training.
• Although Guide Dogs cannot read traffic signals, they are responsible for helping their handlers safely cross a street. Calling out to a Guide Dog or
intentionally obstructing its path can be dangerous for the team as it could break the dog’s concentration on its work.
• Listening for traffic flow has become harder for Guide Dog handlers due to quieter car engines and the increasing number of cars on the road. Please don’t
honk your horn or call out from your car to signal when it is safe to cross. This can be distracting and confusing. Be especially careful of pedestrians
in crosswalks when making right-hand turns at red lights.
• It’s not all work and no play for a Guide Dog. When they are not in harness, they are treated in much the same way as pets. However, for their safety
they are only allowed to play with specific toys. Please don’t offer them toys without first asking their handler’s permission.
• In some situations, working with a Guide Dog may not be appropriate. Instead, the handler may prefer to take your arm just above the elbow and allow their
dog to heel. Others will prefer to have their dog follow you. In this case, be sure to talk to the handler and not the dog when giving directions for turns.
• A Guide Dog can make mistakes and must be corrected in order to maintain its training. This correction usually involves a verbal admonishment coupled
with a leash correction, followed by praise when the dog regains focus and correctly follows a command. Guide Dog handlers have been taught the appropriate
correction methods to use with their dogs.
• Access laws, including the United States’ Americans with Disabilities Act and Canada’s Blind Persons’ Rights Act, permit people who are blind to be accompanied
by their guide dogs anywhere the general public is allowed, including taxis and buses, restaurants, theaters, stores, schools, hotels, apartment and office
buildings.
• Before asking a question of a person handling a dog, allow them to complete the task at hand.
• Remain calm in your approach and mannerisms.
• Never tease a dog.

Have a question that we didn’t cover? Place it in the comment section below and we will be glad to answer!

Blind LGBT Pride Bids Farewell to 2013

BPI Members and Friends:

As we get ready to usher in 2014, it is my hope that this Holiday season has been filled with the best in family, friends, and all that is good and positive around you. Whenever this time of year comes around, I can’t help but reflect on where things are, how things have been, and the future that lies ahead. The past 16 months of my presidency have definitely been an enlightening and enriching learning experience. I will admit that there have been times when I have asked myself what has been accomplished during this time. Though they may not seem like much, our accomplishments keep paving the way for a better BPI.

As with any organization, no organization can exist without an honest representation of its membership. As such, a long and arduous process was taken to ensure an accurate count of Blind Pride’s membership. It was during this time that BPI, along with other affiliates under the American Council of the Blind, (ACB) worked diligently to implement an online database for the certification of members.

This year, Blind Pride’s membership voted to broaden its membership criteria to those allies who support Blind Pride’s mission statement. No matter your vision status, or sexual orientation, we have added membership classes to fit your situation. Whether you are a Regular, Student, Associate, Supporting, or Lifetime member, we now have a place where all are welcome. For more information visit:
http://blindlgbtpride.org/joinrenew-membership/.

While on the subject of ACB, we have ensured a more active and unified collaboration with other affiliates within ACB during our annual conference and convention. Topics covered ranged from federal rights for BLIND and LGBT individuals, entrepreneurship, and successful transitioning for students in all phases of education and/or employment.

Lastly with regard to membership, BPI saw growth with the chartering of Blind LGBT Pride of Texas at our annual convention.

In the area of Public Relations, BPI was consulted by author Brandon Shire who has written a gay erotic fiction novel entitled Afflicted in which the main character happens to be blind. As a result of this consultation, the author acknowledged Blind Pride in his book. Secondly, BPI’s social media presence became more active than ever, thereby expanding the international part of our name both on Twitter and on Facebook. Finally, our web presence saw improvements in hopes that our page is more streamlined. We have even made our site more interactive by implementing a blog where members and the public may post comments. We continually use these powerful tools to gather information of interest for our members on a worldwide scale. We will continue to work with LGBT oriented media outlets to ensure that their publications and services are made accessible to those that wish to have access.

In other developments, BPI was proud to make history as we added a ninth board position, that of 2nd Vice President. We also elected our first international Board Member At Large from Canada. Speaking of elections, following the ratification of amendments to BPI’s constitution and bylaws in 2012, those not able to attend convention were able to vote electronically for the first time this Past July. This is certainly a major milestone for BPI as we continue to provide tangible services to our members.

This brings us to the present times. The past few months have allowed us the opportunity to focus our efforts in fund-raising and programming for BPI. Both the Fund-raising and Programs Committees are working together to ensure a successful conference and convention next year, but also to ensure viable ways to engage in successful fund-raising for the future.

What is in store for BPI in 2014? Looking ahead, we plan to find more ways to implement tools for education and outreach purposes. Our hope is to continue to work with other affiliates within ACB, as well as LGBT related groups in the regular mainstream society to dispel any myths out there, and make people aware of the needs that face this very unique community of blind LGBT individuals. One of the many questions that is often asked by members of the blind community is what does our group have to do with blindness? Anything from access to information to legislation, to advocacy, there is so much that goes along with being blind and LGBT. Blind Pride is the only organization of its kind around the world that represents the needs of Blind and Visually impaired LGBT people. Wouldn’t it be exciting to offer a service where someone can go to, either online or by phone that would provide a centralized information and referral service pertinent to people who are blind and LGBT in their community? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could provide scholarship opportunities for those interested in higher education? Or, an awesome youth mentorship/alliance program that would engage youth in the interchange of each other’s lives? You see, it is awkward enough being blind, but then to be blind and LGBT, trying to fit into a “regular” way of living where you’re constantly having to adapt to day-to-day norms is totally a different, yet challenging experience. This exchange would not only improve social skills, but would do wonders for both the psychological, as well as the educational well- being of our youth.

All of these ideas, as well as any other programs and future endeavors take time, maybe some research and volunteering, and yes, even your much needed contributions. Your donations are very much needed. Blind Pride is a 501C3 organization, and your contributions are tax deductible. No contribution is too big or too small. You can pay securely by credit card using PayPal. Visit
http://blindlgbtpride.org/donate/.
Alternatively, you can make a check out to Blind LGBT Pride International. The address is:
Blind LGBT Pride International
c/o: Guillermo Robles
5010 Echo Street, Unit A.
Los Angeles CA, 90042.

In closing, I just want to thank those who have supported the work of BPI. As I said in the beginning of my letter, these have been interesting times, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Here’s to all the best that 2014 can offer. May you and your loved ones have a blessed and happy new year.

With Much Pride,

Guillermo Robles
President, Blind LGBT Pride International

Remembering Nelson Mandela

By now, news of the passing of Nelson Mandela has hit every news media outlet around the globe. So much has already been said about this iconic figure who now takes his place along side such people as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. For years, President Mandela has advocated for equality and liberation in his country and around the world, even if it meant having to sacrifice 27 years of his life to ensure the human rights of others.

Aside from his role as leader, advocate, and humanitarian, Mandela was also a voice for HIV/aids awareness in Africa. In 2005, he announced that his son had died due to complications from Aids. Mandela felt it necessary to announce his son’s death publicly so as to bring this epidemic which continues to claim high numbers in Africa today front and center.

“Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like tuberculosis, like cancer, is always to come out and to say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS. And people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary,” Mandela stated.

In 1997, South Africa approved one of the world’s most liberal constitutions drafted to date. South Africa’s LGBT community celebrated a clause which would make discrimination based on sexual identity illegal. South Africa is the fifth country in the world to legalize same sex marriage, and the first in Africa.

It is fitting that we pay tribute to such a humble man with such passion and dedication to peace and equality all over the world. Equality seems to be a sentiment that is shared in both Blind LGBT Pride International and our parent organization, the American Council of the blind. The core mission statement for both organizations couldn’t be any more clearer. Whether we be blind, sighted, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning, our resolve should be the same. Let us take his message and apply it to what we do in life. Whether we realize it or not, we have already begun to do this, and we’ve made an impact in our advocacy efforts. Let us draw strength from what Mandela has accomplished, and may it continue to move us forward in making our world a better place as we enter into a new year.

Dealing with LGBT Attitudinal Barriers Relating to Disability

The lawmakers of the Americans with Disability Act or the ADA recognized the serious impediments to access for people with disabilities, However, there are also problems of attitude. An attitudinal barrier is defined as a way of thinking or feeling that results in behavior which limits the potential of people with disabilities to function independently.
Attitudes toward people with disabilities have been explored and three important assumptions can be noted:

1. A small percentage of people have openly negative attitudes that are associated with prejudice, fear, ignorance, intolerance, insensitivity, discrimination,
dislike, condescension, and the like. They subscribe to most of the myths surrounding disabilities, even in the face of documented evidence to the contrary.

2. The vast majority of the American public is neither positive nor negative-toward people with disabilities. Their general reaction is one of massive and
deliberate indifference. They just prefer not to think about disability at all.

3. This indifference is rooted in a perfectly natural psychological phenomenon in which, when we think about or encounter disability, we must think about
and deal with the fragility of our own health and ultimately our own mortality. To do so is unpleasant and uncomfortable for most people.

Avoiding this discomfort has cost us as a society too much. Any indifference, unpleasantness, or discomfort felt, any attitudinal barriers that may have
been erected around the issue of disability must be removed!

Examples of Attitudinal Barriers

Negative attitudes associated with prejudice, fear, ignorance, intolerance, insensitivity, discrimination, dislike and condescension:

* showing a lack of dignity and respect

* shouting instead of speaking in a normal voice

* not making eye contact or face-to-face interaction

* not listening attentively

* interrupting when he/she is speaking

* – showing a lack of patience and tolerance

* – not being sensitive to special needs

* – not acknowledging his/her point of view

* – using inappropriate, non-inclusive language

* – using negative body language and facial expressions

* – disconfirmation

* – lack of acceptance

* – treating adults like children

* – ignoring the person rather than asking if you can assist

* Deliberate indifference:

* – lack of necessary accommodations such as Braille and large print materials, audio information, TTY, assistive listening devices, TV captioning and decoders,
readers, interpreters.

* – not wanting to allow service animal into establishment

* – not introducing as you would others

* – not shaking hands as you do with others

* – not concerned with accessibility issues

* – lack of clear communication

* – not speaking directly to the person

* – being rude or dismissive

* – unthinkingly asking personal questions

* – making him/her feel conspicuous or embarrassed

* – ignoring the person rather than asking if you can assist

Suggestions to Improve Positive Interactions with People Who Are Disabled

Ask the person if they need assistance. And if they do, ask them how you can help them. Offer assistance if you wish, but never insist.

Focus on the person, rather than on their disability.

Use appropriate language.

Listen to them, and do not interrupt.

Treat them as an adult with dignity and respect.

Be patient and polite.

Remember to Just Ask! and then listen ….

A person with a disability is the expert about his or her disability! So as you can see, it doesn’t take much to erase the fear…

Welcome to the Inside Out Newsletter – eNews Blog!

The members and allies of Blind LGBT Pride International would like to thank you for visiting our new blog! It is our hope that we provide relevant information to you concerning all things lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)) related. We will have a twist though, you will get the blind and vision impaired take on the issues.

The aim of this blog is to bridge the gap with the broader LGBT community as it relates to disability awareness. We hope you will enjoy reading and participate by commenting and volunteering, donating and becoming a member and supporter!