Source AP ©

Blind people march in Atlanta demanding better access to jobs and education

Hundreds of people, most with white canes, marched from a downtown Atlanta hotel to a city park more than half a mile away Tuesday in support of: Blind people can do what other people do.

The event organized by the National Federation of the Blind was called a civil rights march.

Two of the main goals: access to jobs and education.

"The blind have a 70 percent unemployment rate, and we have a 10 percent rate of being taught to read and write braille in our schools in this country," said federation president Marc Maurer.

Maurer said the federation, a 50,000-member organization founded in 1940, decided to incorporate a march into this year's annual convention in Atlanta because the city was the symbolic heart of the civil rights movement for racial equality in the 1960s. U.S. Representative John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement, led the march.

Organizers said 1,000 or more people took part. The Atlanta police estimate was 700.

For Al Elia, 33, a computer consultant from Boston, the most important issue to him is access to study materials for advanced degrees.

"I can tell you from trying to get study materials to go to law school, it's something that needs to happen," Elia said.