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Blind Lottery Vendor Losing Braille Machine

California LotteryCalifornia Lottery: Blind Lottery Vendor Losing Braille Machine

A legally blind man who has been selling lottery tickets since the California Lottery began says he's being left behind because the state is upgrading its lottery machines.

John Friesen has been in business for 26 years operating a concession stand in the lobby of the State Resources building, and in that time he's sold thousands of lottery tickets. 

A machine with a Braille key pad and chirping tones guides him through lottery transactions.

"It's beeping each time I do a function, so it tells me what mode I'm in as well," Friesen said.

The machine will soon be taken away and replaced with a touch-screen system that Friesen says he won't be able to operate.

"If it's a flat screen and bringing my finger across is going to activate something, I won't have a clue what button made the tone," he said.

Friesen said lottery officials have been trying to work with him, but so far, they've only come up with one viable solution.

"We are offering him a self-service terminal for the lobby. We expect that that will enhance his visibility as a lottery retailer in the building that he's in. We expect sales to increase on his lottery product and all his other products," California State Lottery spokeswoman Norma Minas said.

Friesen sees things differently.

"Sometimes when they buy a lottery ticket they might buy a pack of cigarettes or a candy bar or a soda ... if I lost those lottery tickets I would loose those sales too," he said.

Another solution would be to put in the touch-screen machine and only sighted employees operate it, but Friesen only has two employees and both are also legally blind.


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