FREE FISHING LICENSES FOR THE BLIND ‑- BLINDNESS
Any bona fide resident of the state who is totally blind or whose vision is so impaired as to be classified as blind under the rules and regulations of the Department of Public Assistance, Division for the Blind, is eligible to be issued a free state fishing license.
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June 9, 1953
Honorable John A. Biggs
Department of Game
509 Fairview Avenue North
Seattle 9, Washington Cite as: AGO 53-55 No. 68
Attention: !ttMr. Albert Bertucci
Your department has requested an opinion as to whether or not a free fishing license may be issued to an applicant who is not totally blind although classified as blind by the standards of the Department of Public Assistance.
It is our conclusion that any bona fide resident of the state who is totally blind under the rules and regulations of the Department of Public Assistance. Division for the Blind, is eligible to be issued a free state fishing license.
The Session Laws of 1947, section 112, chapter 275, Rem. Supp. 1947, section 599-121, (RCW 77.32.230) provide for the issuance of a free state fishing license in these words:
"Any bona fide resident of this state who is blind * * * upon the making of an affidavit to such effect, shall be given a * * * fishing license free of charge upon application therefor: * * *"
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
There is no definition of the word "blind" in the Game Code, but the Session Laws of 1937, section 8, chapter 132, Session Laws of 1941, section 1, chapter 170; Rem. Supp. 1941, section 10007-6, (RCW 74.16.030) authorized the Department of Social Security (now known as the Department of Public Assistance) through the Division for the Blind, to give financial assistance to those eligible applicants whose sight is impaired as follows:
"* * * (b) Who has no vision or whose vision, with correcting glasses, is so defective as to prevent the performance of ordinary activities for which eyesight is essential; * * *"
The Department of Public Assistance, by virtue of Sec. 416 of its rules and regulations, defines blindness as follows:
"A. Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible corrective glasses.
"B. Contraction of the peripheral field of vision to within twenty (20) degrees of the fixation point in all quadrants as determined by standard perimetric testing.
"C. Muscle function, measured in all parts of the motor field and charted upon 20 rectangles, 4 x 5 degrees in size, equal to 18/20 binocular or monocular."
The clause requiring interpretation is not "total blindness" but rather "who is blind." There being no specific definition in the Game Code, it is logical to use the one adopted by that governmental division specifically set up to assist the blind. Whenever possible, all departments in state government should adopt consistent interpretations of similar clauses.
It is our conclusion that the Department of Game should use, in determining eligibility for free state fishing license to the blind, that standard adopted for the Division for the Blind, and that this standard can be used whether or not the applicant is receiving financial assistance.
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
Enclosed with this letter is the application of Fred Ohman, dated May 18, 1953.
Very truly yours,
GLENN E. THOMSON
Assistant Attorney General