Dale Carngegie and the Cripples

Cover of Planet of the Blind....man and dog....

I worked at Guiding Eyes for the Blind one of the nation’s premier guide dog training schools for five years in the 1990’s. One part of the job was to speak to “the clubs” as we called them, the Rotary, the Lions, the occasional Odd Fellows.

My talks were on the order of “look at me and my impeccable guide dog; imagine more of us.” That was the gig. My guide dog always bowed at the end, a real dog and pony show.

I needed that job. I had an assignment. Though I hadn’t heard of inspiration pornography I knew what to avoid. I never spoke in a way that let my audiences off the hook. They were business people in Westchester County. So I’d ask if any of them had blind employees in their companies. None of them did. “Why do you suppose this is?” I’d ask. Someone would say, “we don’t get any blind applicants.” “Why do you suppose this is?” I’d ask. “They don’t know about the jobs?” someone would offer. And I’d ask them why this is so, and we’d get to the place I wanted them to be. “Our system is designed to keep the disabled unemployed, I’d say, and talk about social security disability and the general failure of vocational rehab agencies to do anything beyond the minimum when it comes to advocating for blind employment.

I’d usually end by saying it’s business men and women who need to step up.

Of course some liked this and some didn’t. The latter were always the first out the door.

So where does Dale Carnegie come in? He once said where public speaking is concerned you should always practice the five “b’s”: “be brief brother be brief.”

It’s a good line though it’s dated, sexist, and now that I think of it, a joke “of or pertaining to” privilege.

If you’re got something important to say it’s gonna take more than five b’s Dale.

And you might not want to be too polite. Ask the audience some hard questions. Make them earn the rubber chicken.

Why are 70 to 80 per cent of the blind still unemployed?

I say its Dale Carnegie’s fault.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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