Protecting the Rights of Blind Parents

Anne Gonzales News, Office Press Releases

Over the summer, Rep. Jeff Rezabek and I introduced House Bill 309, which will prohibit a person’s blindness from being used to deny or limit custody; parenting time; visitation, adoption, or service as a guardian or foster caregiver, regarding a minor. We were visited by a group of blind individuals who informed us about the issues that some in their community have in custody cases. We learned that there are societal biases and prejudice surrounding the preconceived ability of blind parents to successfully raise and take care of their children. Because of these biases and attitudes, children of blind parents are sometimes removed from their parent’s care unnecessarily or are restricted from enjoying meaningful time with their parents.

We think that allegations against the blind parent should contain clear and convincing evidence as to how the blindness-connected behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child. Furthermore, any blind parent or prospective parent shall have the opportunity to demonstrate how the implementation of supportive parenting services can alleviate any concerns raised.  We found that fourteen other states have passed bills with similar content, and thought that it was Ohio’s time to act on this issue. Rep. Rezabek and I will be working hard to see that this bill becomes law.