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Blind since birth, writing code at Amazon since 2013 (aboutamazon.com)
349 points by dominotw 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 113 comments

Articles like this make me worried about my future as a blind programmer. I enjoy back-end database and web services development, not accessibility work. A lot of the I'm a blind programmer articles I've scene appear to be blind developers who work on accessibility. I hope they work on accessibility do to interest not because everyone assumes if you a blind programmer accessibility must be the type of work you want to do.

People naturally assume you would be interested in accessibility work, but I suspect if you simply say that's not what you are interested in, and demonstrate normal levels of ability in other work you'll be fine.

What could happen though, is if your ability is not in line with other programmers. For accessibility work people will hire you anyway (since you have unique experience), but for other work you'll have a hard(er) time.

And since there is an implied assumption that a blind programmer will be less productive, you are probably right about being pushed toward accessibility work.

The solution is of course obvious (and typical for any kind of disability): Show that your productivity is in line with others. People aren't malicious usually, just unaware.

> People naturally assume you would be interested in accessibility work

This is the problem. It's like going to a black person and saying "oh man, I assume you must like fried chicken!"

> Show that your productivity is in line with others.

This also doesn't compute -- I can't think of a link between "you must be interested in accessibility work" and "we'd like you to work on that because your productivity is probably low."

I've faced both of these problems as a mostly deaf developer -- people always assume I want to work on hearing-related things.

> I can't think of a link between

I explained that. It's not a link between low productivity and interest.

It's a link between low productivity, and willingness to hire only for specialized work. (i.e. if not for the specialization they would not hire at all, since productivity is low.)

The fix is to show there is no low productivity.

I don't think you actually read what I wrote.

I'm not trying to directly argue with you, so I may have missed the details of your post. I apologize for that.

Some of the points you make made me want to speak about the general perception and assumption that a disabled person:

1. Must have an interest/insight into accessibility work

2. Must have a lower productivity due to the disability

You even address the latter with:

> And since there is an implied assumption that a blind programmer will be less productive

and that "implied assumption" is what I want to talk about.

To me, that assumption is very close to racial stereotypes -- assumptions about someone based on their appearance. To keep it in the "disability" sphere, it would be like assuming Stephen Hawking (a clear outlier) is a complete vegetable and unproductive due to his disability. While his disability no doubt makes him less productive at specific tasks impacted by it, his overall productivity is made up for in other ways.

Many people want to put the onus on the disabled person to demonstrate that they're "normal" or "normally productive" in order to bust themselves out of a niche (accessibility work, a special team of "disabled people," a special reading level, etc.) rather than simply assuming that they are "normal" and waiting for a demonstration otherwise, as they would would with any other person.

To me, it's too close to saying "well, we'll see if this black guy is normally productive -- if he's not, we'll put him in the 'urban brainstorming division.'"

I'm speaking about this in an attempt to get a broader discussion on the idea as someone who's been pigeonholed exactly these ways in the past.

> And since there is an implied assumption that a blind programmer will be less productive, you are probably right about being pushed toward accessibility work.

> The solution is of course obvious (and typical for any kind of disability): Show that your productivity is in line with others. People aren't malicious usually, just unaware.

Should be enough in theory, not in practice. There are many factors affecting productivity and that are not personal; disabled people (among others) are rather prone to poor non-personal factors. In the other words, productivity is a function of the person in question and everything else surrounding that. We typically approximate this by assuming personal factors and non-personal factors are independent---of course, not in reality.

I would take this article with a huge grain of salt. Amazon doesn't give two shits about blind or deaf or gay programmers. This is a nice fluff piece. The programmers there are under absolute stress and high-stakes programming. I doubt that this one story about one nice programmer can be generalized to Amazon. I would bet if you are a blind programmer you would have a much harder time even getting past the interview loop given how biased the whole company is with their Ayn Rand-ish tactics that would obviously not give two shits about diversity or disability.

I worked with one person at Amazon who had a significant physical disability. I can't speak for him, but he is highly valued by the organization because of the quality of his work.

That's good! But in general they are not supportive of life. Work is all that matters.

A lot of the blind programmer articles I've seen are of the "l33t hax0r who can root your box by whistling into the phone" variety. So... the press is not entirely uniform.

Whistler was one of the best characters in Sneakers.

As a guy who writes code for a living, one of my biggest fears is losing eyesight. Looking at this guy, I fear a little less now :) There is definitely a need for the tech to evolve for blind programmers.

My brother had a stroke at 30 years old and became blind. It's just so unfair. I've always had this fear but it's gotten much worse since this has happened to my family.

Get disability insurance.

For real, insurance is an afterthought to many but you are looking at a little money spent for peace of mind.

While true this deserves a comment that money may be only second and not the first reason for those fears. Losing the ability to do something you love might be the reason for the comment. The article comforts by showing that being blind does not mean coding ends. You can still be a first class citizen. Though to spoil it a bit, being blind from birth vs. at later age might be different. At least you need a huge period to adapt I guess, which is where the insurance comes in again. Full circle!

I have had one real migraine in my life. It was the kind you lose vision before the headache.

It was truly terrifying to have my vision quickly go away. To the point that I was so happy to be seeing when the headache hit.

I have migraines regularly, and the vision problems are definitely the worst part of it. The pain I can handle, but the aura usually makes me incapable of even moving somewhere safely, and puts my life at a standstill.

As I said, I've only had it once. Definitely couldn't do anything while the aura was there. Good luck on having less in the future!

What an inspiring story, shows that true passion overcomes every barrier.

And yet, sadly, I have to add this to this beautiful story: is it just me or does this feel like Amazon marketing at its finest?

Even if it's done for marketing, I think it's a small price to pay if it can inspire even one visually challenged person to take up programming professionally.

Perhaps someone who loved computers might be wondering around the world if he/she can ever work as a programmer. He/She might not have explored how to go about it or he/she might not be confident enough to try.

So if this story can change one person's mind, I think it's a sin worth committing.

Again if it is about the person I'd agree. This is a fluff piece FOR amazon.

Of course it's amazon PR. They are trying to rehabilitate their less than flattering image as both an engineering shop and how they treat their warehouse employees (the latter: terribly, like something out of a Dickensian novel).

As an engineering shop? In what way?

Disclosure: I interned at Amazon

of course it's Amazon or: it's on their site

It's on this site, too ;-)

Yes, it is. For every such story, there are tens of thousands of people working in fear and peeing in a cup covertly. This is a PR story intended to whitewash that.

But hey, it's their best option, else they would have found another job, so all is well in the best of all possible worlds. /s

This is Amazon milking the story to the fullest amount. I had the same feeling with the Microsoft marketing for the AI camera thing.

They really don't give a shit about employee happiness or anything because the 99.99% cases you hear from Amazon employees lack even the basic dignity or respect. This is just a nice marketing story to portray Amazon in a positive light.

I feel important replying: all the stories you heard are about ground-level employees that are packing stuff in Amazon Warehouses.

I have four friends working on different levels of profession in Amazon and I can assure you not even junior programmers need to pee in the bottle without bathroom breaks.

I am in no way defending Amazon they deserve all criticism, but I think it is unfair to put everyone in the same basked within one organization. You really believe people that built then and manage AWS cloud now are treated so badly that they can't even go pee?

Here's the issue with this view, nobody, deservers to be denied basic human rights at work, even if they just pack boxes or built AWS.

You can argue that they should be on different pay scales, but as far as taking breaks, working in a safe environment and going to the toilet, they're rights that should be extended to all employees and any level of the corporate ladder.

I use Amazon far less after hearing about these issues.

I think you missed this part: I am in no way defending Amazon they deserve all criticism [..]

I am talking about Amazon engineers.

I know from data that they treat their warehouse people like garbage.

I really don't understand why companies (and everyone else, for that matter) treat people in these jobs like garbage.

Yes, it's physical labour. Yes, the hiring pool is big. But it's demanding physical labour, dammit, and without these people, Amazon - or any other company that does this - would be nothing.

Shipping and fulfillment is literally the core of what Amazon is. So is making burgers at McDonald's. So is stacking shelves at Walmart. These companies literally could not function if it weren't for people doing these jobs, and I feel like "we can just hire someone else" is no excuse for not recognizing that.

> is it just me or does this feel like Amazon marketing at its finest?

Not just you. Also, there have been some other 'heartwarming' stories on Reddit today about dogs at Amazon and the 'amazing' perks employees have. The PR machine is trying to balance out the latest developments.

Is there any way to do it without some people suspecting marketing? If the history is real, which it is, then it's OK in my book, there's no way to tell the history without some people suspecting marketing

Yes of course there is, the article could not mention his workplace or at the very least not place it in the title. Plus the article was published on aboutamazon.com. That is blatant marketing/branding unnecessary for the actual story

I have a few links on blind programming.


And a lot more on programming by voice:


The section on Silvius seems to be a more recent project.

I found this video, it's pretty insightful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWXebEeGwn0&feature=youtu.be

Thanks for sharing.

I know this guy, he lives, or used to live in the same apartment complex as I did, and I would see him almost every day at the bus stop. He is a real warrior. Whenever the Front seats were busy he will encourage people to stay seated and he would find an empty seat.

It's very nice to see Amazon wrote the article about him!

I did a large project with a blind programmer many years ago. He was the sysadmin of a server I had in the Bahamas. When on the phone with him, I could always hear the speech software gabbling out directory listings and stuff. He was really good too - always been very inspiring to me.

Hi-speed screen readers seem to unlock the potential of talented visually-impaired programmers. Forzano and others train up to shockingly fast rates. The plasticity of the human brain has so many uses!

How does that work anyways? Do the screen readers just speak ultra-fast? Do they say things like "parenthesis" or "right bracket?" Is there some kind of audio coding of whats on the screen?

Yes, they speak ultra fast and literally say the punctuation verbatim. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWXebEeGwn0&vl=en for an example ("How a Blind Developer uses Visual Studio"). You can hear it saying "right brace", etc.

edit: typo and clarify what I'm linking to.

After watching this I can kind of understand how a blind person would write new code. But I find so much of working on a team with a large codebase is about hunting through mass quantities of code without really knowing what you are looking for, which always seemed like a very visual process to me. Sometimes I find myself scrolling through a 2000 line file looking for a particular shape of the code that I would not even be able to articulate but know it when I see it. I'd be really curious to know how a blind person navigates a large, unfamiliar codebase.

I always love reading stories like this - even with such a disability, he has been able to accomplish a feat that is relatively difficult to accomplish for most devs. I have heard my own company has blind developers as well, and accessibility is a first rate concern for us.

I do wish more companies invested in being accessibility friendly - not doing so automatically shuts a portion of population away from the product(s) by default.

Here is another video about Michael Forzano from SUNY Binghamton, where he attended to study computer science:


Sometimes I imagine how I would cope with writing software if I lost my eyesight, and I don't have an answer so far. The fact that this man is able to overcome that kind of obstacle and work in software is extremely inspiring.

For anyone interested:

How Blind People Type and Dial Numbers on a Touchscreen: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16897415

As someone with vision loss, this is a wonderful feel-good story, but I think the reason why Amazon PR picked it up in the first place is because it's a surprising exception that proves the rule. I've interviewed with quite a few tech companies, some in SV, and was turned down for a combination of "culture fit" and the gaps on my resume caused by my vision loss. I think the fact that everyone, even Amazon, is so amazed that they hired a blind programmer is indicative of a real problem here.

Question for anyone who knows:

How do they accommodate blind students for university math exams? Calculus in particular seems like it would be crazy hard to do without a pencil.

When I was studying math, a lot of times, I got to take tests at home. Prof would email me a copy of the test in LaTeX (they used it anyway), and I'd mail my answers back in LaTeX or PDF. Worked well for us. I'd just slip out the door on test days, walk the three blocks to my apartment, type up my answers, and mail them back.

In one case, one of my profs actually wrote his own textbook. It was for an intro to theorem proving / symbolic logic class. He also used LaTeX. While everyone else got a printout of the course text, I got a copy of the source code that I could read with a screenreader.

I'm a disabled student, not blind, but I work extensively with my university's Student Disability Center. For a blind student, common accommodations are extra time on the exam and a scribe to note the answers down.

You might be interested in this overview of strategies: http://itd.athenpro.org/volume1/number4/article3.html

Although in practice the answer is that instructors have to lean heavily on the learner and the university's resource center.

My understanding is they give a proctor and provide assistance. How a student declares their solution is an interesting question though.

Great story. The curious part of me would love to see a video of how he codes and how fast / accurate / contextual the screen-reading software is. Yes, I see the irony in wanting to see a video of that. Still, want to see what the experience is like for him, at least to the degree I could understand.


Here's a video of another blind dev. What I find fascinating in both cases is the speed at which they use voice assistance. I can barely make anything out.

Wow. This is amazing. Makes me want to make my software way more accessible to users.

Looks like Amazon made a supplementary video about this, but it's pretty short:


That little vignette was actually perfect.

Mind blown.

I literally can't shut off my machine with my eyes closed. And the screen reader is even worse, I can't even shut that off with my eyes open when I accidentally enable it.

This reminded me of RubyConf India talk I attended back in 2013 titled “Turning blind eye to rails development by Siddhant Chothe”, that was also quite inspiring.

It made me realize, how rarely we think about accessibility when developing software.

Here is the link to the talk, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqL89VcYd6g

Curious about his mental map for code/software. Often times when I 'visualize' mapping between modules in a software, I observe a latency in visualization because in my mind I navigate through squares or blocks, literally. Obviously he does it differently, and faster. He has an unique ability which probably most of us don't.

I wonder what his development environment looks like. How does the audio reader work when reading code? What language does he work in? I'd be fascinated to get some insight into how he mentally models the code. I can get a lot of information just looking at the way a bloc k of code is structured.

There is a video that shows how is environment looks like and what his screen-reader sounds like. It reads very fast. To the untrained ear it is unintelligible.

That screen reader speed is insane !

Yeah, the difference in human ability between trained and untrained is always amazing. What's funny is I'm sure this blind man is more efficient than people who use mouse-driven software to work. When you use keyboard-driven software like emacs or vim it gives you the ability to develop similar speed.

This story is very inspiring. How is he able to do his work without looking at block diagrams, complicated entity relationship diagrams, writing on paper to clarify among other things which I as a sighted person normally do?

I thought you were being sarcastic, but apparently not.

Well, programmers have been doing their job for half a century without BS Entity-Relationship-Diagrams, UML and the like.

No, I was not sarcastic at all. I admire the programmer. I was just trying to understand something which was far outside my own experiences. I couldn't fathom how he was able to a successful programmer without the tools most of us use during the normal course of the day.

Sure, but that's perhaps true for more essential tools: seeing the code, the debugger window, the output, going through logs, etc.

The ability to see diagrams would be quite low in utility.

I don't think he's talking about the BS but merely scribbling down notes on paper which very often helps when trying to figure out complicated processes.

I worked at a company where a coworker insisted that we created a huge printout of all the database relationships. He spent a long time at it, and it took tons of paper. I glanced over it, realized it didn't do anything for me, and then promptly ignored it.

I've spent my entire programming career ignoring those kinds of charts and diagrams. I "see" the connections in my head without any visual representation at all. I simply know where things are, what they connect to, and how things work.

I'm not blind. I just don't get anything from those tools. It doesn't surprise me that this blind coder doesn't need them.

I wonder how much that can get in the way. I'm sure he adds insights into the development team from likely conceptualizing data and architecture vastly different than most people.

F$@? diagrams

Used to work with a blind programmer at my old job. He was an interesting fellow

I think it would be very interesting to spend some time doing my development from audio only.

Any idea on the easiest way to get going? My environment is osx, iTerm, vim, and safari mainly.

1. To turn on VoiceOver: CMD+F5

2. To turn on screen curtain: Right Option+C

3. For VoiceOver help: Ctrl+Option+H

4. For keyboard help: Ctrl+Option+K

Ctrl+Option is your VoiceOver key combo as well. Good luck.

Yeah, I've been thinking about that too. I'm doing a lot of work in grafana with timeseries data, so how would you this kind of work and trend discovery non-visually? I guess now I'll need to experiment if you could do something by mapping the graph into an audio signal with changing pitches or something.

damn that is incredible! i had a hard time understanding the function names they were being spoken so fast, i wonder if his ears have adjusted and tuned to that speed?

That was an amazing story!

I just hope that he is being payed fairly. Here is an example of someone who is disabled and not being payed fairly in my opinion.

>Kandu Industries can pay Chris and roughly 150 other workers substantially below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour because of a 1938 provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act that permits employers, who apply to the Department of Labor for a waiver, to pay lower wages to people with disabilities.[1]

>According to the department, about 20 percent of people with disabilities participate in the workforce, and of that group, about 3 percent, or approximately 195,000 workers, are being paid subminimum wages. These workers typically make well below the minimum wage, sometimes as low as “pennies per hour,” according to the Department of Justice.[1]

(Many People With Disabilities Are Being Paid Way Below the Minimum Wage, and It’s Perfectly Legal)[https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/08/many-people-wit...

I'm not sure what the original intent of the 1938 law was, or how it's being abused now, but I did participate in an organization that helped the severely mentally handicapped. The charity provided them with a place to stay (a house in a neighborhood with neighbors, not an institution) including 24/7 care for things like helping with medications, cleaning, etc. Part of the program was that they spent some time each week (definitely not 40 hours) in a work environment (in our case, packing plastic bags into boxes for Johnson and Johnson), also fully supervised by caretakers.

Johnson and Johnson certainly weren't making out on the deal, given the limitations of the work that could realistically get done versus what a non-disabled employee would be able to do. I suspect the whole program was more headache and expense than they saved. In other words, the point was not for these people to earn enough money to support themselves (their housing, meals, clothes, were taken care of), and only partially about earning some spending money (there was already a budget for that too, things like movie tickets, coffee at Tim Hortons, etc), but more trying to lead a normal life -- seeing peers at work, waving to the other workers in the plant, going to the company barbecue, etc.

Again, I'm basically 100% sure that abuses exist of this provision, but I would really like to see any reform done in such a way that it doesn't eliminate programs like this.

They have a similar law in New Zealand, but there is a debate around abolishing it so that disabled people would have to be paid normal minimum wage.

The flip side to this was that a whole bunch of workers basically stood to be made redundant, because the companies employing them could't afford to pay them minimum wage. The reason that a lot of companies were hiring these people was a as community service.

The coworking space I used to work at does this. They have a special needs guy who is the community assistant, he'd come in like 3 days a week and help with keeping the kitchen clean and other stuff. It was great, we loved him and he loved being there. It would've been cheaper and easier to hire a fully-abled person to do the job, but that's not why they hired him.

It's common for supermarkets in New Zealand to hire people with learning disabilities to do things like collecting trolleys. To be honest, they look like the most satisfied employees in the whole store.

The sad thing though is that people do abuse the system and use them as a cheap source of labour, which is disgusting.

That's totally disgusting. Not only do they start out with a bad hand, this is then used to exploit them with the blessings of the government.

The idea is to offset a bias against hiring them. But ideally in these situations taxes would fill the gap, justified as having the disabled in the workforce keeps them off welfare programs

They often advertise themselves as providing opportunities (and ask for donations and such).

There is certainly great potential for exploitation, but many such operations do provide opportunities that would not otherwise exist.

Maybe you should educate yourself more before posting full of outrage.

A good place to start would be in the other comments in this thread.

But I'll summarize for you: The companies are only hiring them as a community service. They cost more than a regular person and do less. Force companies to pay full wage, and they won't hire them at all. Even at the lower wage it's not really worth it to them.

Maybe they shouldn't bother, since people like you interpret helping people as exploiting them......

As an employer I've hired disabled people more than once, and in fact am about to do this again in the coming 30 days.

They didn't cost a penny more than their able bodied brothers and sisters to employ. And they got paid just the same amount that other people did in that job.

Besides that a friend of mine ran a whole courier company with nothing but disabled people. All of those got paid full wages as well.

I'm sure there are boundary cases where it can turn into community service but this sounds - with the details available - as exploitation to me.

For European employers if there would be compensation this would be done at the back-end between the companies and the government, no way would the 'minimum wage' be reduced simply because someone is disabled. As if an hour of work by a disabled person is somehow worth less than an hour of work by an able-bodied person doing the same job. You'd have to get into extremes of lack of productivity before you could justify the 'pennies per hour' posted here.

Then, finally: there are institutions here called social workshops. In those places there is a cross between real work and therapy, work that is extremely simple and that basically anybody could do. For those places the people that work there tend to get compensation but it is not at the level of an actual wage. The thing is that the state already pays them a full social security or disability allowance which takes the place of a salary. Anything above that (such as through this work) is a special arrangement, they are not expected to earn a living wage by themselves.

I hope that all this shows you that I've educated myself sufficiently.

Wow, you haven't educated yourself at all. You haven't even read the article linked in this conversation. If you had read it, you would have come across the enormous similarities between this program and the social workshops that you describe. Here, since you haven't bothered to read it

> Most people making subminimum wages, like Chris Wilson, work in factorylike settings known as sheltered workshops, which are supervised workplaces for people with disabilities. Workers package and assemble products, for example, sometimes folding paper, making jewelry, or sorting mail.

The subminimum wage is only allowed for people who are unable to work at normal levels of productivity because of their disability - in other words, it doesn't apply to people with a disability who can produce an hour of work that's worth the same as an able-bodied person doing the same job. (Also worth noting that 'able-bodied' is an odd word to use in this context, most of the people in this program would have an intellectual disability, not a physical one.) For your further education, here's an article that contains some examples of how this is measured:

> For example, if an average worker loads 100 boxes in an hour, but the worker being tested loads 15, that worker could be assigned a wage that is 15 percent of the average worker’s, or $2.25 an hour, rather than Seattle’s $15 minimum wage. ... > With a supervisor, the six workers complete the amount of work that would normally be done by two people.


Don’t they receive disability assistance money as well though?

Only if they make less than a certain amount.

Why is minimum wage fair, and why is it better for people with disabilities severe enough that no one wants to pay them above minimum wage to not earn anything?

The idea is that some people with disabilities are going to be unable to find work where they can produce value higher the federal or state minimum wage. It’s possible such work exists, but maybe not where they live or maybe not in something they’re trained in. A job is better than no job, for more reasons than just money. Work gives people the feeling of earning their way, like they are valuable to others in their own right.

Whether such a policy is actually fair depends on specific empirical facts, not some a priori judgment. You’d need to know the economics of labor by people with different disabilities, the ability of companies to accommodate those disability, and so forth.

Awesome story. More power to this guy, he's an inspiration.

How do they use Stack Overflow?

I have this weird idea of an experiment, actually two experiments:

- I want to use my computer with my eyes closed (or blindfolded). Because I'm really interested in exploring the limits of my sense of hearing combined with my speech, plus my ability to use keyboard and mouse. It's like learning to ride a bike. I have not used any accessibility features of any of my OSes (linux, and windows) mainly because of my bias that those features are more like "lip service" than making sure that they are a full fledged replacement of visual user interface (well I have many gripes with the state of visual user interfaces, and by extrapolation, non-visual UIs can only be equal or worse, not better). So a big part of my experiment would be to explore, from first principles, what an ideal non-visual UI would look like, and then develop that software. The funny thing is that my interest in this experiment is not fueled primarily by the desire to help others, sorry to say, but by the fun and the thrill of being able to efficiently use a computer with eyes closed, almost like getting a new mini-superpower. (Surprisingly, my interest in this experiment came about as a result of thinking about going from mouse/keyboard based GUI usage, to keyboard-only vim and tiling window managers and touch typing, while your four fingers of each hand are constantly in the home row and move away only to carry out a specific task. It's almost as if restricting yourself makes you more efficient in some sense).

- As an extension to this, I'm interested in being able to live in my apartment for a few days blindfolded (including leaving-the-apartment in the experiment would make it too open-ended/challenging). I'm allowed to plan as much as I can beforehand, to memorize what is where in my rooms, kitchen, restroom, etc, and also make a list of strict rules about where a certain thing should be placed after it has been used (e.g., a toothbrush, etc), and then I blindfold myself and see how far I can get. I would need to know where each thing is, but there are too many things in my apartment, so maybe I would want to reduce the number of things I have, and this way it connects to the idea of minimalism, another interest of mine. And again part of the reason for this experiment is the fun, but also to learn what changes can be made in typical apartment indoor so a person doesn't have to rely on his/her sense of sight to live fully (e.g., cook, clean, move around, etc). I guess this is the kind of experiment that vsauce gets to conduct. I think it would be interesting if he creates an episode based around this. (Though I'm ignoring the biggest effect of being in this experiment, the psychological effect of not being able to see).

(edit: It also appears to me that there is a connection between trying to carry out operations blindfolded, and trying to code up something by imagining what that code would do in run-time, because a piece of code running on a computer is almost like a blind/blindfolder agent carrying out operations based on values of variables, etc. So does such an experiment make you a better programmer in some way? or give you a new perspective about running code?).


Can't help but read this article and think of how Amazon _actually_ treats developers and employees and it's gross. Amazon is gross, actually.

Maybe they got a grant from the government and they can afford employee breaks for the physically impaired.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16896639 and marked it off-topic.

This feels really inappropriate. You're a 15 minute old account claiming that the subject of the article abuses his dog. The appropriate time and place to air that grievance, if it actually happened, would have been to the police, when you witnessed it. It sounds like you're trying to assassinate his character otherwise.


If what's true? The complaint isn't even clear. And what does he deserve exactly, a lynch-mob?

I can't believe people have the audacity to write unsubstatiated claims of animal abuse about a blind person's guide dog on a post about their achievements as a developer.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

Totally deserves what? What’s “it”? This seems overboard.

I didn't see what you saw, but maybe give them the dog walker the benefit of the doubt - sometimes after the 10th tree where the dog decides to prop up and stand trying to pee but only squeezing out one tiny drop cus they literally just peed a dozen times before, you give a little yank to have them move on.

A guide dog isn't a pet.


Call it what you will. I think the distinction is valid, as working animals have a job, and treatment standards for pets don't apply. Working dogs need to be able to hold it in and/or stand up to a bit of being jerked around at their handler's convenience, without getting distracted. They're trained to put up with this stuff.

It might be true that impatient, testy handlers would get more out of their animal by behaving differently, but there's a big difference between that and treating an animal with outright cruelty.

While I have no reason to believe the original story about the dog, and would be inclined not to believe it as a properly trained guide dog would not need to have the lash yanked "all the time" and the commenters claims

That said I also believe your statements about "treatment standards for pets don't apply" is also completely wrong as the implication here would be that service animal should be treated less well than pets because they are "working", this is unbelievably ignorant and wrong on many levels.

Abusing a service animal simply because it is a service animal is wrong.

A guide dog isn’t a slave.

> The dog always seemed miserable

What does that mean?

The point of outside time for a pet is to get a ridiculous serotonin high and pee where-ever they want.

The point of outside time of a guide dog is to do work.

If you compare me while I am at work to a person who's out at a bar with friends, I probably look "miserable". That doesn't mean I'm being abused at work. It just means that animals who work for a living (me, the dog) sometimes need to tone down the hormone rush in order to do our jobs.

Does this dog look miserable when in public, or does the comparison set (all the other dogs in public) simply look like the peak of hormone high?

In your ideal world, what would be my takeaway/conclusion as a reader from this story? How do you hope it changes or informs my view of this person and the Amazon piece?

"Developpers are assholes - even blind ones."

Not believable.

Why not? I see people doing this shit all the time when they’re walking their dogs.

I also know this guy. I'm his barber. He has the worst dandruff, absolutely unbelievable. But now that I think about it, he probably didn't know because he's blind

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