Many blind parents say they have fallen prey to preconceived biases involving their children and their parenting capabilities. A new law in Illinois aims to address these concerns.
It points out blindness of a parent can’t be used to determine custody of a child—or be used as a deciding factor in adoption or foster care proceedings. The new law emphasizes these already-established rights under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Deborah Kent Stein is with the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois. She says the law will help raise awareness and prevent child welfare investigators from conducting faulty investigations.
“I have seen people go through terrible, emotional stress. Not only the parents but the children, when these kinds of questions arise and when families are investigated, and when children are afraid of being separated from their parents,” she said.
Kent Stein says her organization will work closely with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to implement trainings and resources for child welfare investigators, case workers, and even parents.
“There have been cases in Illinois and cases all over the country where parents who are blind have been—by our standards—targeted by lawyers and social service organizations, as being potentially unable to parent simply because they are blind.”