56 thoughts on “Dear blindness organizations. Quit asking web folk…

  1. In their minds, they believe that if they don’t do the free speaking or whatever, they won’t be able to gain name recognition. Oh and BTW it’s not OK to ask inexperienced web folk for free or spec work either. We have enough of a problem in this industry where people don’t charge what they’re worth, because they don’t know how to put a number on what they’re worth, and this practice sets new people up to do all the wrong things when it comes to pricing. People and organizations need to understand that their websites are investments, not commodities. When a website is done properly, it serves the goals of the organization/brand/business, and it brings in new customers or donations or readers or whatever. Websites take work, not only on the part of the person or organization building it, but also on the part of the people or organization it’s being built. They aren’t set it and forget it, they are a key part of your marketing strategy as well as a place for your potential customers/clients/donors to find out who you are and what you do as well as other information. Yes, you need to be strategic about your marketing, it’s not just try this one simple trick and you’ll get rich, but that’s for another rant. And if you as an organization cannot or won’t put in the work to ensure that your website can do its job, then along with paying someone to build it according to your organizational goals, you pay someone who knows what they’re doing to handle your marketing and content creation and all the little details tha tgo into maintaining a a working, profitable website for you.

  2. A huge part of this problem is that people with disabilities, especially blind people, need to get away from the mindset that they should just be grateful for the work, so take it because it’s work. And don’t even get me started on how all the mailing lists for all these organizations have been allowed to become dumping grounds for any project or school or whatever to come and ask for free work, because something something support the cause something something. This all will stop when blind people learn that time and experience are valuable. I’d love to be able to fix this problem.

  3. Yes it’s true and yes they do it. It’s not just your stock blindness organizations either. It’s a thing that I’ve seen all too well in nonprofits that serve people with disabilities. It makes them look good. It’s something they can use as a marketing tool. I’ve been the person who drafted those disgusting fake email and web marketing campaigns. And it was the same load of crap. The people were told they’re name would get around. That they could count on it as work experience etc etc. meanwhile, the newsletters coming from the agencies are all around how they helped someone become employed as a web developer. People of course want to donate to the cause. And why not? Meanwhile, does the volunteer web designer ever see a cent? 95 percent give or take never do. But yeah. Acb and nfb are known for this, and depending on where you are, your state’s affiliate will take more flesh from you than some. It’s all so fake and ridiculous. But what do we tell people who want to gain experience in a field? Volunteer. And yes, that’s good advice to a point. It stops being that however when you wind up being somebody’s bitch. It’s also why I am not running out to get behind any organizations even if I might agree with and live their philosophy. It’s also why I don’t see myself ever marketing for nonprofits again. Lightning may strike and that could change because money is important, but I’m not sure I could tamp down my own passions and beliefs and play the pretend game well enough.

  4. Dear Amanda and Bill, who shared Amanda’s post,
    I’m not sure why you are so anti so organized blind, especially NFB but here’s a reality check for you. a lot of non-profit organizations solicit volunteers to do their dirty work for their organizations. So, stop your bashing and get in touch with grass roots blindness and not the government funded sighted and blind pawn pros.

  5. Her original post said blindness organizations. Yes, the NFB was brought up because they are a blind this organization. Also, they participate in such practices. Especially on the state and local level. I should know. It was done to me. Not with the web development, but with other work.

  6. At the end of the day, the same people would have the same problem if there employer decided that they weren’t going to pay them. Let’s say the employer said I don’t have your full salary but I’ll give you 30% of it. Would that be OK? Do you work for free? No? Then why do you expect me to?

  7. I agree with most of you and many of these points but I’m going to ask that we be careful when we use the word all.AcB of New York, of western New York and of Westchester and of guy dog users of the empire state state, I’ll have paid web designers. I am not disagreeing with you that nonprofits to ask for free help but not all.

  8. Blindness organizations aren’t the only ones who do this. But pointing that out doesn’t make it any less dispicable when blind organizations do this, especially when you consider that a part of the stated mission of these organizations is to put a dent in the unemployment problem among the blind. You can’t call yourself fighting to end unemployment among the blind, and then allow your mailing lists to become havens for those asking for free work, or ask for free work yourselves. I’ve called out blindness organizations specifically in this post because my inbox is full of messages from said organizations and/or their chapters asking for free work. Of course these people never get a response, but that’s not the point. The point is they shouldn’t be asking in the first place. And let me tell you something, when they’re asking for free work, it’s the kind of free work where they get their entire wishlist for a website, they get to call the shots on the whole thing, ETC. And some of these wishlists are quite extensive. Accessible ECommerce functionality. Custom design because we’re too good for an off-the-shelf accessibility ready theme. Custom branding, logo design, ETC. Content creation. ECommerce, by the way, is very complex. It has a lot of moving parts that need to be set up/built properly, monitored, and periodically tested to ensure that the process from prospect all the way through checkout runs smoothly. That’s not something you just glue together with peanut butter and goblins and pray you get sales. There are entire books on every aspect of ECommerce, and I don’t mean the ones you can read in eight hours. I mean big, thick, hard-bound books with lots of tiny print. And if you’re going to do ECommerce well, you have to stay on top of all of it. Asking for not only free access to that kind of knowledge, but free application of that knowledge to your particular situation, is an insult.

  9. Amanda, just let the record show that the national Federation of the blind does pay blind people to do it’s work. I know a lot of people who work for the national Center and are paid a good wage. It is not despicable for this organization to ask for volunteers to do work especially if the work is not going to be a full-time job. It is a nonprofit organization and many nonprofits, as discussed in many of the comments of this thread, including mine, do. Nonprofits have the right to do this because nonprofits do not let make a lot of money and it is completely acceptable if a nonprofit solicit volunteers to do work that may or may not be considered a full or part-time job. Actually, if you think about it, for profit organizations do the same things. There is always that little line on your job description that says, “performing other duties as assigned. That means you are performing job duties that are outside of your job description and you are probably not being paid for them. Just think about all the teachers who have to grade the papers outside of school hours and they are not getting paid for them. So, I will and with this, I thought that your post was wrong and specifically bashing the grassroots blindness movement I thought the other post that you made during the past week that we shared were also wrong. Linus organizations have the right to do what organizations have every right to do what other organizations do. Just because you were asking people to volunteer doesn’t mean you were trying to demean them. Yes, this can happen. I know of one organization in Michigan that is a blindness nonprofit agency and they have a full-time position available at their front desk. This person is a receptionist. However, they have chosen not to hire a person into that position and they recruit blind people to volunteer their time to perform the job duties. I think it is wrong for that organization to save money and not just hire a person to do the job whether it be a cited or blind person. I actually perform the job one summer just to get there feel what it was like to be a blind person doing something that I could’ve been paid for quite easily. It was very demeaning but I wanted to have that feeling and I also wanted to have something on my resume because it was quite hard for me as a blind person at the time to find a job. Fortunately I found a job. But, if you think about it, a lot of the work that many wineries or other disability organizations recruit volunteers for cannot even be considered a part-time or full-time job. Then there is the work that they simply need done but they don’t have the money to do it. The situation gets very complicated but we need to be very careful when criticizing these organizations because they technically have the right to do what they do. And sometimes it is just a good thing. No matter what, volunteer work is good for your resume and I know a lot of blind people who refuse volunteer work and they have absolutely nothing on the resume to show when they are searching for a job. So, when in doubt, look at those volunteer opportunities and embrace them and you can always file discrimination complaint if you believe that you were not hired into a position you applied for, I need a paid position, if you actually apply for a paid position. Please, please excuse the errors in this post as I am dictating and this is a long post for me to have to go back and correct all the stupid mistakes that Siri makes. I make this post with all respect here.


  • Chris Smart
  • Brian Moore
  • Kerry Hoath
  • Phil Sherry
  • Amanda J. Rush

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *