INK PRINT EDITION
VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the Blind--it is the blind speaking for themselves
N. F. B. Headquarters
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in Braille and distributed free to the blind by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, 257 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, California.
Ink-print edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California. Subscription rate--$3. 00 per year.
EDITOR: GEORGE CARD, 605 South Few Street, Madison, Wisconsin.
News items should be addressed to the Editor. Changes of address and subscriptions should be sent to the Berkeley headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind.
Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
ALL-STORY GETS A NEW NAME
OVR GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO AGENCIES TO INTERFERE WITH ORGANIZATIONS OF THE BLIND
NFB PRESIDENT CALLS ALSUP LETTER TO ATTENTION OF SECRETARY FOLSOM
A MODEL FOR LIONISM
TWO JOBS OPEN
STATE LEGISLATION-UTAH, KANSAS, CALIFORNIA
NEW CHAPTER IN MASSACHUSETTS
COLLAPSIBLE WHITE CANES
Beginning with the next monthly issue the name of this magazine will be changed to The Braille Monitor. We have been fortunate to be able to return to a monthly issue. This is made possible by a subvention from the National Federation of the Blind. The Federation News Section has become increasingly popular. Many of our readers have written in to request that more space be devoted to this feature. Program and other developments concerning the blind-many of which are of the utmost importance to the blind men and women of this country-have been emerging in profusion. Even with the return to the monthly issue, a major fraction of the space of this magazine must be devoted to the coverage of these developments if our people are to continue to be informed.
It therefore seems only appropriate that we should now change the name of the magazine to one that does not state or imply that all of the contents are stories. Stories will continue to be republished to the extent that space is available.
According to the dictionary a "monitor" is a person who "advises, warns or cautions." A Braille monitor is one who carries on this function for the blind and this is the pledge of the editors of this magazine.
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An attitude of arrogance and hostility was displayed toward the organized blind on the part of the highest officials of the Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in a half-hour conference between these officials and representatives of the National Federation of the Blind in Washington on June 13.
Present at the meeting-which was called to discuss three specific topics concerning the relationship of the Department to the issue of self-organization of the blind-were, for the Department, Secretary Marion Folsom, OVR Director Mary Switzer, and two administrative assistants; for the Federation, President tenBroek, Executive Director Archibald, and Legal Consultant David Cobb.
The atmosphere of the "discussion" may be briefly and accurately summarized as chaotic and disorganized; the attitude of the Federal officials as intemperate and hostile; the results as wholly negative and discouraging. On each point introduced by the Federation spokesmen the response of Secretary Folsom and Miss Switzer was either evasive or out-spokenly antagonistic.
Scheduled for consideration at the meeting was one-page, three-point memorandum prepared by the NFB representatives and distributed to the others at the outset of the meeting. The memorandum requested Secretary Folsom (1) to "announce a policy that will protect organizations of the blind from interference by any officer or employee of your Department," and also to initiate a policy of consultation with the organized blind in the development of programs bearing on their interests, (2) to modify the policy whereby the Department has announced to State agencies that they are free to interfere with organizations of the blind (see story on Switzer letter, below) and to state that the Department will not hereafter condone the exercise of authority by State agencies under a federally supported program that prejudices the right of blind persons to speak freely, assemble freely and petition their government freely and to do these through organizations of the blind, and (3) to withdraw Department support from the proposed bill for a 21-member Presidential Commission to study blind programs, in favor of a three-man commission composed of one representative each from the public, from organizations of the blind, and from the agencies.
Although no ordered or systematic consideration of these points was permitted to occur due to a constant flow of irrelevant interjections and comments from the Department officials, and although it was evident throughout the meeting that the latter were deliberately inattentive and predetermined not to grant such consideration, it is possible to assemble the various responses more or less related to these topics with the following indication of Department attitudes:
Point One: Secretary Folsom maintained that there is no evidence of interference by members of his Department with the right of the blind to organize and therefore that no declaration of policy is necessary. As to consultation with the blind, it was maintained, first, that the department had in the past consulted with the National Federation, and second, that the Department does not need to consult with anybody. The inconsistency of these observations evidently escaped the Federal officials. The NFB representatives pointed out that in the past there had been exactly one consultation with the Federation by the Department--and that one in 1954. In this connection, Secretary Folsom further declared that the clients served by the Department were entirely happy with what they were getting from the Government and that the blind could not possibly be discontented with their treatment. Here, as elsewhere in the conversation, it was evident that the officials present did not consider the National Federation as in any sense a legitimate spokesman for any fraction of the blind population.
Point Two: It was at first held that the Department of HEW has no authority to intervene in the activities of State agencies administering Federal programs, however outrageous their actions and however in violation of the constitutional rights of the blind. Subsequently, it was agreed that as happened in North Carolina, instances of illegal State action were possible. At this point both the Secretary and the Director professed complete ignorance of the tenBroek letter of April 18 (see story below), which had outlined in some detail another such an instance of unwarranted agency interference. When confronted with the facts concerning the nefarious actions of Texas Commissioner Lon Alsup in disrupting organizational activities of the Lone Star State Federation, and in threatening a vending stand operator, the reply of the Department officials was that "this is a free country", that nothing was wrong with Alsup's actions in threatening a vending stand operator and obstructing voluntary affiliation with the National Federation-and that in any event the Federal Department could do nothing about it.
When the NFB made mention of the creation of the Anti-Federation Committee of the Council of State Agencies for the Blind, Miss Switzer said that the organization had no purpose opposed to the Federation-that in fact, their purpose was not very different from the purpose of the NFB. Mr. Cobb then read a portion of the Alsup letter proving that the purpose of the Anti-Federation Committee was to organize agency activity against the organization of the blind. Secretary Folsom and Miss Switzer then immediately changed the subject.
Point Three: It was maintained by the Department officials that a three-member study commission on the blind could be inadequate to represent the important interests involved in blind welfare: that it is ridiculous to suppose that a twenty-one-man commission would conceivably be stacked in favor of the agencies that of course the organized blind would in any event be adequately represented: and that as a matter of fact all discussion of the matter was a waste of time, since the Department Secretary had already given favorable approval to the bill as drafted by the OVR. These assertions were uttered in blithe disregard of statements by the Federation spokesmen that the composition of the twenty-one-man commission contemplated by the present bill not only permits but requires a stacking of the commission in favor of one view, i.e., that of the agencies: that the result will be a twenty-one-member team with twenty of the members representing the agencies and one or no members, representing the blind; and that a fair organization of such a commission would require equal representation of the opposed viewpoints, such as is contained in the alternative plan for a three-member study group.
The underlying arrogance and undisguised lack of sympathy for the purposes and solicitations of the National Federation of the Blind on the part of Secretary Folsom and Director Switzer is conveyed by the statement of the latter that she travels a great deal about the country and has talked to large numbers of blind people, but does not find blind people "with your extreme views" or who are members of the National Federation! This unbelievable declaration, from the administrator of a major public program affecting the blind, reflects either inexcusable ignorance or deliberate falsehood. The purport of this comment, as of numerous others made during the half-hour conference, is plainly that in the minds of these officials the National Federation is unrepresentative of the blind and speak for no one but its own coterie of officers.
In summary, the meeting of Department officials and Federation representatives was a conspicuous failure in all but one respect: The incident made clear beyond possible doubt that the organized blind must look to Congress rather than to the Department of HEW for ordinarily courteous, not to say sympathetic, consideration of their needs and interests.
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An apparent effort to minimize if not overturn the recent rebuke by HEW Secretary Folsom in the North Carolina breach-of-confidentiality case has been made by Miss Mary Switzer, head of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in the Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
In a letter addressed to George Card as Federation News Section Editor of All Story--and also circulated to all State agencies-Miss Switzer took sharp exception to the report of Secretary Folsom 's action which appeared in the March-April issue of this journal. Both her letter and the subsequent reply by NFB President tenBroek are set forth in full below.
All-Story readers will recall our account of the success achieved by the North Carolina Federation of the Blind in obtaining from Secretary Folsom a ruling which characterized the release of confidential information from the files of the State Commission for the Blind as "not proper". The Secretary of HEW further stated that specific measures had been taken by his Department to forestall any future misuse of such confidential information.
The official rebuke came as the result of a flagrant violation of confidential files by H. A. Wood, executive head of the North Carolina Commission who had released information of a highly personal nature concerning two former rehabilitation clients presently active in the North Carolina Federation of the Blind. The circulation of this confidential material was shown to be part of a calculated effort to discredit the State organization of the blind by defaming the character of its leadership. During the months following disclosure of Wood's violation, a thorough investigation was conducted by the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation at the direction of Secretary Folsom, through which these facts were incontrovertibly verified.
In mid-October, as the All-Story report stated, Secretary Folsom wrote to both of North Carolina's senators concerning this abuse of confidential data, pointing out that "its release was not proper" under either State or Federal regulations. Similar letters were sent to the North Carolina Federation, the National Federation, and the individuals concerned.
In commenting upon this series of events, the All-Story report declared in part:
The action of Secretary Folsom in rebuking the conduct of H, A. Wood is a timely warning to these people. In this case, Wood was found to be exercising the power inherent to his office to discredit blind persons working for the self-organization of the blind... The Secretary did emphatically determine that Mr. Wood's actions in using these files to discredit the movement of the blind toward self-organization was clearly not consistent with his public office and clearly not proper.
This ruling of the Secretary affords to each agency the occasion to re-evaluate the part it has played in the past, and will play in the future, in the movement toward self-organization and self-determination of the blind. The Secretary's decision that it is not proper for an Agency to engage in actions designed to resist self-organization of the blind is a correct decision and a necessary decision. But more than this is needed. Each agency now should seize this occasion to reshape its programs to assist, encourage and provide a maximum of opportunity for the self-organization and self-determination of the blind.
In her letter criticizing the All-Story article, Miss Switzer has singled out as "incorrect" the sentence italicized in the above quotation. Moreover, she has termed "unfortunate" the headline affixed to the article and asserted that readers may have gained a "wrong impression" of the action taken by Secretary Folsom.
Although the general implications of the Switzer letter are explored in President tenBroek's reply, quoted below, it is advisable to emphasize here the full import and logical consequences of this communication. The Switzer letter clearly has the effect of minimizing the character and extent of the rebuke administered by Secretary Folsom. Still more "unfortunate", however-and much more "incorrect"--is the apparent green light given by the head of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to those State agencies engaged in concerted efforts to undermine and discredit self-organization by the blind of their States. That Miss Switzer was in reality addressing these groups, as well as writing to George Card, is evident from the fact that her letter was distributed to all State agencies and commissions for the blind throughout the country. The import of her directive is contained in the categorical statement: "State agencies are free to develop their own views with respect to the organization of blind persons in their own interest." It would be difficult to interpret this pronouncement in any other way than as a reassurance to agency administrators not to be deterred from campaigns of harassment and opposition against the blind merely because of the shocking violation of professional ethics and legal provisions perpetrated by one of their fellows.
In this manner has the hope so recently inspired by the constructive action of the Secretary of HEW been dashed by his subordinate. By virtue of this short letter the promise of a new and affirmative approach toward the self-organized blind, conveyed by the Secretary's decision in the North Carolina case, has been checkmated if not destroyed. As a result the prospects of a positive reappraisal of attitudes on the part of those State agencies antagonistic to the organized blind have been at least temporarily demolished.
But the agency officials-and they are still only a limited number who have connived at these and similar obstructive tactics, whether at the State or Federal level, should be put on notice that the setback is far from fatal. The incident has served at least to clear the air and clarify the issue; it has exposed the patent irresponsibility and nonfeasance of a Federal office which permits and encourages interference by State agencies with the constitutional right of the blind to organize and speak for themselves. In thus piercing these pretenses and exposing these attitudes the incident will unite the blind more solidly than ever in their determination to secure the democratic right of free association and of adequate representation in the counsels of their government.
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May 13, 1957
Dear Mr. Card:
There has come to my attention recently an article, reprinted from the March-April issue of the All-Story Braille Magazine, which deals with action taken by this Department in connection with safeguarding the confidentiality of information of clients served by the North Carolina Commission for the Blind.
Since some portions of the article deal with subjects which had no relation to this Department's action in the North Carolina case, some of your readers may have gained a wrong impression. In his letters to Senators Scott and Ervin of North Carolina, Mr. Folsom, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare dealt exclusively with the question of safeguarding the confidentiality of client data. State agencies are free to develop their own views with respect to the organizations of blind people in their own interest. This Department did not issue any instructions regarding self-organization of blind persons, self-determination or other subjects beyond the question of safeguarding client data. It is unfortunate, therefore, that the All-Story Braille article should carry the heading "Secretary Folsom Rebukes Agency Attack on Blind Organization" and should make such incorrect statement as the following:
The Secretary's decision that it is not proper for an agency to engage in actions designed to resist self-organization of the blind is a correct decision and a necessary decision.
I trust you will give this letter the same circulation given to the article.
Mary E. Switzer
Mr. George Card
Federation News Editor
All-Story Braille Magazine
Room 316, Douglas Building 2
57 South Spring Street
Los Angeles 12, California
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
2652 Shasta Road
Berkeley 8, California
Office of the President
June 11, 1957
Miss Mary E. Switzer
Director of the Office of
Department of Health,
Education, and Welfare
Washington 25, D.C.
Dear Miss Switzer:
After a number of delays, your letter of May 13, addressed to George Card as Federation News Editor of the All-Story Braille Magazine, has been transmitted to me for answer.
In your letter you comment adversely on the article which appeared in the All-Story Braille Magazine, concerning Secretary Folsom's action in connection with the breach of confidentiality of rehabilitation files that Mr. H. A. Wood had perpetrated in North Carolina. You suggest that some of our readers "may have gained a wrong impression," that the heading of the article was "unfortunate," and that one of the statements was "incorrect."
The editor of the Federation News Section of the All-Story Braille Magazine, and the officers of the National Federation of the Blind, are understandably most anxious to retain their reputations for accuracy of statement and precision of analysis. Above all, we would not want to be guilty of giving our readers "a wrong impression" or of making "incorrect" statements. We have, therefore, reviewed the All-Story article in the light of the comments made in your letter with an eye to correcting any mis-impressions of our readers or any errors of statement or inference.
We invite you to set your letter side by side with the article. We have been convinced by this process that the charges made in your letter cannot be sustained by careful and attentive reading.
You express dissatisfaction with the heading-"Secretary Folsom Rebukes Agency Attack on Blind Organization." The heading seems to me precisely accurate. Secretary Folsom said that the action of Mr. Wood in releasing information from the rehabilitation files of his agency was "not proper." Such a characterization by an administrative superior is nothing if not "a rebuke." The action thus declared "not proper" was a release of confidential information about leaders of the North Carolina Federation of the Blind for the purpose of discrediting that organization. As such, it was "an attack" on that organization. That organization is an organization of the blind and therefore properly designated by the heading a "blind organization." The action of the Secretary, therefore, was a rebuke and it was a rebuke for an attack upon a blind organization through the breach of the confidentiality of rehabilitation records-all of which is encompassed in the heading.
The same analysis applies with equal force to the statement in the article which you characterize as "incorrect"--the Secretary's decision that is is not proper for an agency to engage in actions designed to resist self-organization of the blind is a correct decision and a necessary decision. The action of Mr. Wood was 'designed to resist self-organization of the blind.' In fact, it was designed to do more than that, namely, to break up an existing organization of the blind. Yet this is the very action which Secretary Folsom declared to be "not proper." Whether confidentiality of rehabilitation records is violated is determined by the circumstances in which the personal data are released and by the purpose for which they are used. According to the regulations of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, there are circumstances and purposes in which and for which data in personal files may be transmitted to others, i. e., released from the agency. For example, such information may be released to employers in connection with the placement of a client. Accordingly, the Secretary's determination that the action of Mr. Wood was "not proper" can only be a determination that the release of the personal data was "not proper" in the circumstances in which that was done and for the purposes for which that was done. In other words, couching the Secretary's determination in the language of the regulations [sec. 401.22(2)] releasing personal data for the purpose of discrediting a blind organization is not limiting its release to purposes directly connected with the administration of the vocational rehabilitation program.
For these reasons I am at a loss to discover in what respect our statement was incorrect or in what ways our readers would be given a wrong impression. Whether the heading was "unfortunate," though it was accurate, would depend, I suspect, upon one's point of view much more than upon any objective assessment of a declarative sentence. I personally feel that the action of Mr. Wood was unfortunate in the extreme and that the Secretary's rebuke was, if anything, altogether too mild. In the same sense it is unfortunate that Mr. Wood took any action which properly called for a rebuke by the Secretary. That the Secretary should rebuke him for this obviously highly improper action is not in the slightest unfortunate, since he would have been guilty of neglect of duty had he done less.
I continue to be amazed by the remarkable statement which appears in your letter, and which you have repeated elsewhere, that "State agencies are free to develop their own views with respect to the organizations of the blind people in their own interest." There is an interesting ambiguity in this sentence. Does "their own interest" refer to the interest of the State agencies or to the interest of the blind? In any event, in its context and with reference to the North Carolina action, this sentence can only be taken to mean that you believe State agencies, administering State-Federal programs and in the course of expending State and Federal money may interfere with the inalienable constitutional and moral right of the blind to organize and speak for themselves--and even that the State agencies may do this through the disclosure of personal data in rehabilitation files.
You request that your letter be given the same circulation as the original article. I shall of course comply with your request. Since you have already circulated your letter to the State agencies, I assume you will not want me to duplicate that effort. In return, I request that you circulate this reply to all of the persons and agencies to whom your letter of May 13 was sent.
National Federation of the Blind
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A letter detailing the obstructive actions of various State agency officials against the blind organizations of their States--and calling for an expression of Federal policy regarding such tactics-was sent by NFB President tenBroek to Secretary Folsom of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare last April 18.
This communication has gained added importance as a result of subsequent developments-outlined in the two news reports above-which have served to reveal the wholly negative attitude both of Secretary Folsom and his administrative subordinates toward the systematic campaign of interference and vilification presently directed at the organized blind by numerous public officials within the State agencies.
Observing that numerous workers for the blind have welcomed the increasing participation of the National Federation in decisions concerning the blind, Dr. tenBroek's letter pointed out that others have fought against this movement of the blind toward independent self-organization and self-expression, believing it to constitute a threat to their authority and to the progress of their programs.
Citing the reported action of the National Council of Executives of Agencies for the Blind in establishing a committee to supply information to State Governors and executives of State agencies for the purpose of preventing further organization of the National Federation, Dr. tenBroek noted that All of these men in their positions as executives of State agencies for the blind are cloaked with government authority and are supported in their activities by both Federal and State funds. This being so, I am sure that you will agree with us that the conduct of these officials must be made to avoid altogether actions that are discriminating against the freedom of blind persons to organize as they choose and in such organization as they choose.
This letter indicated that while no expression of Federal policy toward such intervention of agency officials in the affairs of the blind had yet been made, I am confident that you will wish to have a prompt investigation made for the purpose of recommending and putting into effect... adequate protections to prohibit any conduct by any executive in any State agency that would discriminate against organization of the blind.
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We here reprint a letter from Tim Seward to the members of the Las Vegas Breakfasters Lions Club. The letter was written from Washington, D. C. where Tim Seward is Administrative Assistant to Congressman Walter Baring of Nevada. In Las Vegas Tim Seward was a principal figure in building the wonderful collaborative relationship between the Lions and Southern Nevada Association of the Sightless. He joined a large delegation from Nevada to the San Francisco Convention of the NFB and attended every session. Blind people the nation over, and we believe many Lions as well, cannot help being thrilled by what Mr. Seward has to say in his letter. (John Cashman and Audrey Bascom, referred to in the first paragraph of the letter are respectively president of the Nevada Federation of the Blind and the Las Vegas Chapter.)
April 22, 1957
I got three tapes from John Cashman and Audrey over the weekend. Apparently they have been successful in having a couple of bills passed through the State Legislature that will benefit the blind. They are really doing a wonderful job. I can't help but think back some three years ago they were just a small unorganized group that were totally dependent on the community and on the Lions Clubs for the things they needed. Now the blind of all over the country are organized, and their organization is very much like our Lions International. They have developed their own programs which will lead to their complete rehabilitation... They have developed philosophies which have reduced blindness to nothing more than a nuisance value. They know that blind people are perfectly normal people who cannot see. They have worked very hard to show us, who can see, that this is so, and that it is respectable to be blind.
I remember when we held a car raffle to raise money to buy a piece of equipment for the blind work room. The same year the blind of Nevada held a State convention in Las Vegas, and the Lions Clubs made all arrangements for them and each member of our club invited a member of the blind organization to be his guest at their banquet. It was really our banquet and the blind were our guests. It was really the Lions who did the thinking and the planning, and the blind were thankful to us.
Last year the blind held another State convention in Las Vegas, but this time they planned every phase of it themselves. They had a full constructive program with interesting speakers, and at their banquet, the Lions were invited to be their guests. Last year the blind organization conducted their own fundraising drive and the Lions simply lent a helping hand. The blind did all the planning, and actually put on the drive. You recall our club gave them a kick-off check for two hundred dollars.
This is a real progress, and we as Lions should be very proud of our association. They have taught us how to work together and we, having grown up with the blind, have learned to work with them without fanfare and publicity.
I know that there are still Lions and Lions Clubs throughout the Country and even in Nevada that are jealous of the progress the blind have made, and I know that many members of our organization want to help the blind but they want to do it in their own way. They would treat the blind with kindness and affection as they would a pet lap dog, and feel that they should be content with the things that they have learned to do with their hands in their workroom. They do not realize that the blind are people like us. They want to live normal and useful lives; to marry; to raise their families; to have their own homes and to vote for those who will represent them in our government, because the Constitution did grant them full citizenship, and society cannot take away their birthright. I know that there are some of us in Lionism who feel that the blind have not the right to conduct their own white cane drive, because the Lions Clubs throughout the world have honored White Cane day for the past some twenty-five years. The white cane is a symbol of blindness, and what more understanding and true spirit of Lionism than to return the symbol of blindness back to the blind and thank God they are now prepared to carry their own banner.
How inconsistent are we who set aside a day each year to honor the blind and yet are jealous of the progress that they have made; who profess to work for the blind, but refuse to work with them.
This is in a sense a report of the committee that I have chairmanned because I believe that if we have learned to think unselfishly then we have learned to serve our club, and this can be fairly said of every member who has ever served on that committee.
I know that every member of the Breakfasters Lions Club is proud of our blind friends in Nevada, and I know that the blind are proud of the Lions Clubs of our State and grateful for their cooperation, because we have all grown up as a large family, and we know that we are much better for their friendship and they have benefited by our understanding.
I hope that the Breakfasters will continue to work with the blind, and lend a helping hand when the occasion should arise, in order that they can continue to do those things for themselves that they have learned so well to do.
With my deepest appreciation to every member of the club,
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Two new positions-chief of the State bureau for rehabilitation of the blind, and fieldworker for the blind-have been created within the Nevada State Welfare Department and are currently open for applications, according to word received from Mrs. Barbara C. Coughlan, State welfare director.
Preference in both cases will be given to qualified blind applicants. Application may be obtained from the Nevada State Welfare Department, P. O. Box 1331, Reno, Nevada.
The new position of chief of rehabilitation of the blind carries a salary ranging from five hundred eleven dollars to six hundred seventeen dollars per month. Minimum qualifications for the post include a college degree plus five years' experience, within the last ten, in such fields as vocational rehabilitation, guidance and placement, public welfare or similar fields, or an equivalent amount of graduate training in guidance, adjustment or social work. In addition, varying degrees of knowledge and ability are required in such areas as: federal legislation concerning vocational rehabilitation, current social and economic problems, individual and group behavior, principles of vocational guidance, business management and industrial operations, working with people, making decisions, speaking effectively, and planning group projects.
The position of fieldworker for the blind calls primarily for "assisting blind persons in achieving physical and psychological orientation and in achieving social and economic independence." The salary scale ranges from four hundred four dollars to five hundred sixty-two dollars per month. Qualifications for the position include a college degree and at least three years within the last ten of full-time experience in home teaching for the blind, in casework preferably with handicapped people, or in vocational rehabilitation and guidance. Graduate training in related fields may be substituted for direct experience on a year-for-year basis. Knowledge and ability must be demonstrated in the fields of casework, current social legislation pertaining to the blind, ability to read and write Braille, knowledge of crafts, and the like.
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The Georgia Federation of the Blind held its first annual convention at Hotel Dempsey in Macon, Georgia, May 31. President Walter MacDonald, who is also a member of the Georgia Public Service Commission, arranged for special buses from Atlanta and Bainbridge. There was a full program of papers and reports on private and public educational rehabilitation, and public aid programs in Georgia. The demonstration of the new electronic thimble, which enables a blind person to operate an ordinary telephone switchboard, developed by the Bell Telephone Company, was the highlight of the discussion on employment for the blind.
Marie M. Boring, President of the North Carolina Federation of the Blind, was the banquet speaker. Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, President of the NFB, discussed activities and prospects of the NFB.
The newly elected, or re-elected, officers of the Georgia Federation are: Walter MacDonald, president; Gerald Pye, 1st vice president; Steve Keither, 2nd vice-president; Roy Bradley, 3rd vice-president; Larry Carpenter, secretary; Mrs. Dorothy Delaney, treasurer; John W. Love, Dean Wilson, and Hubert E. Smith, directors.
The New Mexico Federation of the Blind held what was also its first annual convention at Leonardo's Restaurant in Albuquerque on June 1. Members were present from all over the State. In addition to discussions of rehabilitation and welfare problems, there was a lively panel with general participation on possible activities for the New Mexico Federation of the Blind. This was chaired by Durward McDaniel of Oklahoma, member of the NFB Executive Committee. Also present from Oklahoma was one of the organizers of the New Mexico Federation, Robert Quails. The banquet address was delivered by NFB President, tenBroek. Albert Gonzalez was re-elected president. Joe Salazar was elected first vice-president.
The Kansas Association for the Blind held its 37th annual convention at the Jayhawk Hotel in Topeka, June 15-16. The meeting had a crowded agenda of committee reports, talks, papers, and resolutions. A summary of the legislative committee report will be given later. NFB President tenBroek was the banquet speaker. The following officers were elected: Wayne Applegate, president; Geraldine Noeler, vice-president; Sonia Carr, recording secretary; Agnes Burke, corresponding secretary; Helen Smith, treasurer; Shirley Applegate, financial secretary; Ray McGuire, revolving fund secretary; L. A. Dubbs, John Thomas, Esther Taylor, and Lillian Blagg, board members.
In Kansas there are six hundred fifty-four known employed blind; two hundred fifty are in competitive employment, twenty-six in vending stands, forty-three in State sheltered shops, thirty in a private shop, and ten in home industries. In 1956 the Division of Services for the Blind placed thirty-eight clients with an average starting wage of two hundred eighty-seven dollars per month.
The Iowa Association of the Blind held a successful and harmonious convention at Vinton, June 7-9. The new executive secretary of the Iowa Commission for the Blind spoke at the meeting. The Association voted one hundred forty-five dollars and eighty-nine cents as a contribution to the NFB Endowment Fund. A resolution was adopted reaffirming their loyalty and support for the Federation and condemning and deploring the action of the agency directors in seeking to suppress organization of the blind. Mr. William Hahle was elected delegate to the New Orleans convention and Mr. William Klontz is alternate.
The North Dakota Association met on June 8 and 9 and the South Dakota Association on June 7 and 8. As of our deadline, however, we have not received any reports of these meetings. NFB Headquarters has received a check in the amount of fifty dollars donated by the North Dakota Association to the NFB Endowment Fund.
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Jesse Anderson, veteran Federationist in Utah and presently a freshman member of the State Legislature, has secured the passage of three new and significant measures affecting the blind since his election last fall. These laws are:
1. An act creating the position of "consultant of sight conservation and prevention of blindness" within the Utah Commission for the Blind, with the duties generally of supervising medical and surgical programs and educating the public in sight conservation. The act makes available an appropriation of $16,000 for this purpose during the first biennium.
2. An act "establishing a revolving fund and appropriating $12,000... to expedite the purchase of raw materials and payments of wages to shop employees of the Ogden Workshop for the Blind."
3. An act which removes the former requirement of annual medical reexamination from the State tax-exemption law for the blind. This law presently exempts up to $2,000 real property and $300 personal property of blind persons from taxation. It is noteworthy that the bill as introduced by Anderson called originally for an increase of the exemptions to $3,000 and $500 respectively; this liberalization was, however, forestalled on the verge of passage by a ruling of the legislative attorney that such a measure would be unconstitutional.
In addition to these positive enactments, Anderson succeeded during the current term in preventing a threatened cut of $25,000 in the regular appropriation for the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind.
The Kansas Association for the Blind was successful in securing the passage of two bills in addition to the appropriation bill for the Division of Services for the Blind, Department of Social Welfare. One created a coordinating council for the blind which is composed of heads of State agencies for the blind plus one member each from the Kansas Association for the Blind and the Kansas Foundation for the Blind. The other bill was authority to construct a new work shop building for the sheltered work program.
The legislative committee of the Kansas Association also worked many hours to gain the right for the Division of Services for the Blind to establish vending stands in a new State office building. As the result, the Building Commission has reversed its former policy and permitted the establishment of a stand in the basement of the building where all kinds of dry products and items may be sold. The cafeteria, also located in the basement, is not allowed to sell items sold at the stand. Vending machines are not allowed in the building.
California's legislature has passed a great number of bills relating to the blind. Some of them are of major importance. Others are relatively minor. Only the more important will be listed here. (1) A bill in effect guaranteeing one hundred ten dollars income for all recipients of aid to needy blind and aid to partially self-supporting blind. This is provided as follows: the amount of aid plus non-exempt income must equal one hundred ten dollars; the first eleven dollars of non-exempt income must be applied to meeting basic need standard of one hundred ten dollars; thereafter, any excess of non-exempt income can be applied to meet any special needs. This bill introduces the special need concept into the aid to the partially self-supporting blind program. (2) A bill providing for medical care to all aid recipients who have not sufficient income of their own with which to purchase it. This provision covers not only aid to needy blind with respect to which there is Federal matching, but also aid to the partially self-supporting blind, a program held ineligible for Federal funds. Despite this fact, the Federal Government has approved California's medical bill. With respect to this bill, therefore, the Federal officials have completely reversed the position they have taken with respect to the Pennsylvania-Missouri dual aid programs. (3) A bill increasing the real property which an aid recipient might own from $3,500 to $5,000. (4) A bill providing that an applicant's share of his wife's income shall not be deemed community property but that her required allocation to her spouse shall be measured by the Relatives' Contribution Scale. (5) A bill providing that in the aid to self-supporting blind program, expenditures for equipment and materials and other capital investments up to one hundred dollars a month shall be deducted from gross income in arriving at net income. (6) A bill providing that the county may not recover from a responsible relative any aid paid to a recipient prior to the date the board of supervisors made a finding of liability of the relative. (7) A bill providing that the cost of hospitalization furnished by a county to a recipient shall not constitute a hen upon any personal property of such recipient. (8) A bill defining a blindmade product as one having at least seventy-five percent of all necessary labor performed by blind persons, and provides for manner of labelling such products. (9) A bill amending the law relating to reader service for blind pupils to include the cost of Braille books, the cost of transcribing inkprint into Braille, the cost of making sound recordings, and the purchase of special supplies and equipment. (10) A bill repealing county residence requirements. At the time of our deadline all of these bills except (1) and (10) have been signed by the Governor. Two very important bills were sent to interim committees for study: One providing for State administration and financing of all aid programs, eliminating the counties, the second creating an independent State agency for the blind consisting of rehabilitation for the blind, field workers, Orientation Center and workshops.
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On May 25 the Associated Blind of Massachusetts accepted a new chapter into membership. It is the Associated Blind of Greater Lawrence which only recently has been brought into being through the efforts of Mrs. Michaud and Newt Ottone. Mrs. Michaud is the president of the new group.
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Two members of the National Federation, Tom Long and Sid Urena, are now manufacturing collapsible white canes, which are quite serviceable and sturdy. These canes, made of aluminum tubing, are very light and may be had in the following lengths: thirty-six, forty, forty-two, forty-six, and forty-eight inches. Since reflective plastic tape is more durable than paint, it is used to cover the canes. The price of these canes (any length) is five dollars each. Address communications to: Long and Urena, 2400 Haste Street, Apartment 19, Berkeley 4, California.
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