Blind Man Wins Fight to Be Diplomat

<i> Associated Press</i>

A blind man who has been trying to join the State Department for more than a decade said Monday that he has been told his wish will be granted under the reversal of a policy that dates to the 18th Century.

Avraham Rabby of New York City said in a telephone interview that he was informed of the decision Friday after the State Department notified Congress of its intention to hire qualified blind people for the career diplomatic service.

State Department officials said the decision was based primarily on technological advances, including optical scanners capable of “speaking” written words through a conversion process.


These advances enable the blind to improve efficiency and limit the need for readers and other types of outside assistance.

Rabby, 47, who has passed five State Department entrance examinations since 1985, has unsuccessfully attempted to join the Foreign Service since the Gerald R. Ford Administration.

He was born in what is now Israel and has been blind since age 8. He lived 15 years in England and six months each in France and Spain. He has his own consulting business, helping disabled people find work. Where Rabby will serve has not been determined.