Sacramento Seminar

By Peter Mansell, Treasurer, Beach Cities Chapter

April 12 seemed to be an auspicious morning, or maybe not. I was waiting for my ride to the airport at 6 in the morning. After 6:15 came and went, I became a bit concerned. Not having a cell phone, I went back upstairs and called my sister to find out what happened to her friend who was supposed to give me a ride to the airport. My sister said that she did not know what, so she would come and take me to the airport herself. By this point I was just happy to have a ride; 6:30 in the morning is not a convenient time to head south on I15 to San Diego.

We got on the congested freeway and were on our way. Ten minutes later my sister’s car overheated and we had to pull over. By this time, I was sweating bullets and my talking watch was screaming, “You're going to miss your flight!" About five minutes later a Cal Trans worker came by and gave us some water for the radiator, and we were once again on our way. My sister kept saying to not worry about it, we will make it. Finally we pulled into the Southwest terminal and I hopped out of the car with my guide dog, Aerie. I rushed quickly to the curbside and checked in.

The ticket agent looked at my ID while saying, "You're cutting it close. But, I think you can make it." I told Aerie to follow and the guard took me through security. Fortunately, there were no lines, so I breezed right through. I got to the gate and made it to my seat with one minute to spare. My partner, Kostas Manthos, did not think that I was going to make the flight. But I did, and we were now on our way to Sacramento!

An hour and a half later, Kostas and I landed in Sacramento. We were there to work with the NFB on legislative issues affecting blind citizens. Once in the Capitol we met with Don Burns, our Legislative Representative, and other Federationists. We were going to work on two important bills. One was the Braille Math Standards bill, AB-897 (Coto). This would prepare California’s blind students to pass the High School Exit Exam, as they now require algebra. This legislation would ensure the teaching of Braille math standards, giving every blind student an equal footing.

AB-768 (Nation) would mandate that all public machines—such as ticketing machines, public information kiosks, and even lotto machines—be made accessible to the blind. The manufacturers of these machines would be required to make them accessible by having tactile features, or, in the case of touch-screen systems, voice output would be required. In two days we made the rounds throughout the capital. We received warm responses on the Braille math bill. Don made arrangements for us to hear the Braille math bill being voted out of the Education Committee without any opposition. It was exhilarating to see our hard work prevail.

After all, the trip did turn out to be auspicious. Our Braille bill was voted out of committee and it should be on the governor's desk by August. However, the Electronic Accessibility bill is still in doubt. With further work we can get this legislation passed, also. So let’s keep up the good fight.