State Discriminates Against Blind Parents, Advocacy Group
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 20, 2004
AUBURN, ALABAMA--Alabama's Department of Human Resources is discriminating against blind parents by taking their children away or requiring extraordinary measures for them to be around their children, an advocacy group claims.
It's a charge DHR officials flatly deny.
A recent Associated Press story quotes Michael Jones, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama, saying that he has seen six cases over the last four years in which he believed parents were accused of child abuse or neglect simply because they were blind.
"What the hell did they do? The only thing they did was what they were, which was blind," Jones said.
The most recent case was that of a blind Talladega couple who lost custody of their newborn daughter April 8 -- just two days after she was born.
"It's unfair," said Pyanne Jordan, the girl's 20-year-old mother. "It shouldn't have happened. And I feel that it happened because we're visually impaired."
Because the couple's home was considered unsafe, they will have to find a new home before their daughter can live with them. The Jordans said this request was reasonable, in part because of a hole in the floor.
What is less reasonable, they said, is the requirement that they have a sighted adult supervise the family 24-hours a day.
DHR officials said that the agency's social workers do not focus on disability when deciding whether to take a child from its parents. Rather, it is the parents' behavior that makes the difference.
Jones, however, has seen enough to convince him otherwise. He is working with the state Legislature on a bill that would prohibit the courts from ruling that a disability alone was reason enough to constitute abuse or neglect. He is also urging DHR officials to train social workers to understand that parents with disabilities use different methods to supervise their children.
"Blind Parents Accuse Alabama of Discrimination" (Associated Press via Fox News)