Fresh off the implementation of inclusive reforms allowing legally blind residents to carry and use firearms, Iowa announced plans on Monday to allow the legally blind to drive vehicles.
“Attempts to deny an Iowan the right to drive based on physical ability is a direct violation of state law,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.
Branstad noted that the change brings the state into compliance with the Iowa Civil Rights Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Addressing safety concerns raised, he noted the same restrictions that apply to sighted people also apply to the blind when it comes to cars.
“We don’t believe there should be a blanket prohibition on blind people owning or driving cars,” said Chris Danielsen, spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind.
“It’s certainly true that the blind person or visually impaired person needs to be cautious when driving a vehicle, but so does everybody else.” Danielsen sees no reason why a properly trained blind person can’t operate a car, truck, or any vehicle just as safely as any person who isn’t visually impaired.
Despite the progressive spin the state and advocacy groups are putting forward, not everyone is a fan of the regulatory change. In an unprecedented twist, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has lodged a human rights complaint on behalf of all non-visually impaired Iowans.
Ben Stone, Executive Director of ACLU Iowa, asserts that legal action is well-aligned with the organization’s mandate. “The ACLU exists to protect individual and collective rights. In this case, we are stepping forward to protect the rights of the majority.”
Legal observers expect the ACLU’s complaint to be dismissed, clearing the way for further progressive reforms. Governor Branstad has previously indicated he is not comfortable with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) discriminatory restrictions against blind pilots. Branstad is hoping to use the Americans with Disabilities Act to quash the FAA’s complete embargo on visually impaired pilots.
“I’ve raised the issue with my counterparts in Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. I believe our progressive reforms will resonate with Americans’ desire for inclusive and common-sense regulations.”