by Michael J. Prince, Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy at the University of Victoria and author of Absent Citizens: Disability Politics and Policy in Canada.
From charity cases to contributing citizens: this is the critical analysis and, in turn, the social vision of Graeme McCreath’s new book, The Politics of Blindness. McCreath offers compelling arguments on both why and how Canada can become a more inclusive country. His book challenges the longstanding prejudicial stereotyping and the charity-based approach to meeting basic needs of blind Canadians.
McCreath contends that, on balance, charities are barriers to progress in effectively addressing the unmet needs of blind Canadians and also in advancing their independence from welfare. Too often, charitable services deprive people with disabilities of their own voice, labeling them as dependent, and limiting their capacity to gain employment. McCreath therefore recommends that the CNIB and other relevant institutions to relinquish control over the lives of blind citizens. He goes further and proposes that the Canadian government could facilitate that by abolishing blind charities and replacing them with comprehensive services for blind people.
McCreath presents an agenda of reform that is practical and progressive, some will say radical, for improving the status of blind people, from what he characterizes as second-class charity recipients, to full participating individuals and contributing members of society; in a word, citizens. To further economic citizenship for the blind in regards to paid employment, McCreath proposes universal eligibility and funding for training with adaptive equipment as well as incentive programs for employers to recruit, develop skills, and provide promotion opportunities for blind workers. This book about blindness is about nothing less than ensuring that human rights are genuinely rights for all people in our country.