Friday, March 14, 2008

Governor-designate Paterson

From the New York Times: 'David A. Paterson in his first news conference as governor-designate on Thursday, a day of busily preparing for the transition'

On Monday, March 17, 2008, David Paterson will be sworn in as governor of New York. He will be the first legally blind governor in U.S. history.

Fifty-three year old Mr. Paterson has been blind since childhood when he had an infection in his eyes. In a New York Times article, Mr. Paterson says, "I don't act the way I did when I was 17, like I can do everything myself, because I realized the minute I do that, no one helps me. So I learned to be a little more pragmatic about life." Mr. Paterson receives his briefings via lengthy voice mail messages from his staff, and so that he doesn't need to use notes, he memorizes all his speeches. He also says that he has felt more discrimination from his blindness than from his race.

Steve Kuusisto shares his thoughts on Paterson's governship in an op-ed piece in today's New York Times.
"New Yorkers will no doubt discover that Mr. Paterson will take great interest in the details of governance and that this will require him to take sincere interest in people. He'll ask more questions than your average politician. And those who work in his administration will find that they are important not simply for knowing things but because they can describe how they learned those things in the first place. That's perhaps the most important thing for the public to understand about professionals who are blind -- we are by nature tireless in acquiring information, and we remember virtually every detail of what we read or hear."

For further interesting information - Penny Richards offers a comprehensive list of blind elected officials through history over at Disability Studies.


Anonymous said...

David, your link to Kuusisto's blog page is broken because it lacks the initial "h" in the address. (I've done this same copy-paste error myself...)

Thanks for connecting the different posts by Steve and Penny together, too!


David said...

Thanks, Andrea. I fixed it.

Fibrofog said...

Great blog!

Anonymous said...

i thought the point about information and memory was interesting. but i am sure this is not something you just GET just by being or becoming blind - i'm sure you have to work at it like anybody. so... this might be a silly question, but i really wonder, because i am not very familiar with the blind life... how do blind people manage if they also have severe memory difficulties?! a blind woman at Tech has a voice recorder that she carries for class notes and directions and stuff, so maybe a person who had trouble memorizing would just use something like that more often?

-- n.