Few local restaurants offer menus in braille for the vision-impaired

EL PASO – Trying to pick from the vast number of dishes on a restaurant menu can be challenging, but imagine not being able to see the menu. Blind or vision-impaired persons must deal with that anomaly. Only a few restaurants in El Paso offer braille menus to their blind or vision-impaired customers, according to phone interviews with 21 local restaurants. The only ones were the national chains Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Applebee’s, and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse. Some 21 million adults – about 9 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 18, reported having vision problems, according to the 2011 National Health Interview Survey prepared by the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Stark and Dr. Tonn point out breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitos to a group of students on the research team. (Photo courtesy of UTEP Communications Office)

Belize, still in the squalid shadow of British colonialism, reminds us of the value of independence

EL PASO – Every year around the fourth of July, I am reminded of a trip I took many years ago to Belize with two UTEP colleagues, engineer Scott Starks and biologist Lillian Mayberry. It was for a NASA grant investigating whether remote sensing (e.g. pictures from satellites) could help predict specific areas where malaria would be most problematic. My role as a sociologist had to do with human behaviors that would be either protective or increase the risk of malaria. After the most harrowing airplane ride of my life, we traveled to many parts of Belize, except the tourist cays of this small country that was originally a Mayan city state. It subsequently became British Honduras and then in 1981 an “independent” commonwealth.