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.
JUNE ISSUE- -1958
Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010
with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Text of S-2411
Steve and Nina Hopkins Stuff One Millionth WCW Letter
A Congressman Answers Barnett
Triumph of Tradition
Still Another State Issues Its Own Publication
The Right to Know
False and Irresponsible
More About the Moulder Bill
Strong Support from Thomas B. Curtis
Legislative Gains by Kentucky Federation
by Alma Murphey
From a Jernigan Letter
AN OPEN LETTER TO AAWB MEMBERS
by William Taylor, Jr.
The Helpless Blind
An Erroneous Impression
SOUTH CAROLINA CONVENTION
by Donald C. Capps
CO-OPERATION IN ALABAMA
by Mrs. Gordon Hardenbergh
Some Neat Adaptations to Blindness
From a Mormon Elder
A Voice from Ohio
by Audrey Bascomb
MINNESOTA BOARDING HOME
by Eleanor Harrison
TESTIMONY FROM MASSACHUSETTS
by John F. Nagle
K. C. Postmaster Ignores Performance Record
by Stanhope Pier
Here and There
Be it enacted, etc., That in the formulation, administration, and execution of programs for the aid and reliabilitation of the blind, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare shall to the fullest extent practicable consult and advise with authorized representatives of organizations of the blind; and shall in developing and recommending policies and procedures to State agencies take such steps as may be appropriate to encourage such agencies to consult with authorized representatives of organizations of the blind in the formulation, administration, and execution of any State program for the aid and rehabilitation of the blind to which Federal funds are contributed.
Sec. 2, No officer or employee of any Federal, State, or other agency concerned with the administration of any program for the aid or rehabilitation of the blind to which Federal funds have been contributed shall exert the influence of his office or position against the right of the blind to join organizations of the blind. The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare shall adopt such regulations and shall condition Federal grants to State or other programs for the blind on such terms as will prevent the exertion of any such influence against self-expression of the blind through organizations of the blind.
back to contents
By the time the Braille edition of this issue reaches you, the 1958 national convention of the National Federation of the Blind will be only about three weeks away. As most of you know, it will be held at the Somerset Hotel, in Boston, Mass., on July 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th. The host affiliate is the Associated Blind of Massachusetts and the Convention Chairman is the president of that organization, Mr. John Nagle, 182 State St., Springfield, Mass. If there are any who have not yet sent in requests for reservations, these should be sent directly to the convention hotel, with copies to Mr. Jannes Callahan, 23 Moulton St., Charleston, Mass. The committee which will handle resolutions and constitutional amendments will meet on the morning of Thursday, July 3. All proposed resolutions and constitutional amendments should be sent to Mr. Nagle. The latter must be signed by official delegates from five states. Details of hotel rates appeared in the April Braille Monitor.
No section of the United States holds greater intrinsic interest for Americans than does the Greater Boston area. Almost every square yard of the famous old city has historic and traditional associations. There is no city like it anywhere else in the world. Our Revolutionary War was born here and the first armed-encounter with the Redcoats took place in its environs. Boston is not only the cradle and fountainhead of American liberties but it has been our cultural capital for more than 150 years. Some of our greatest writers, philosophers and statesmen have come from Boston and its neighborhood. In short, it is a national shrine and no one can claim to have seen America who has not visited it.
Those who attend the convention will, of course, take full advantage of what will be for many a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and hear and smell and taste the wonders of the great New England metropolis--but the convention itself will be uppermost in their minds. Delegations from at least forty-four, (and probably forty-five) affiliated states, and visitors from at least two of the three remaining states, will gather to renew old friendships, form new ones and exchange experiences. They will return home bursting with fresh ideas and renewed enthusiasm. The program items will be rich and varied. Discussions will be enlightening and stimulating. The Sunday afternoon tour will be a highlight and the massive banquet Saturday evening will be climactic, as such banquets have always been at past conventions. Ask anyone who has ever been a delegate to an NFB convention and he will tell you it is an experience which he will never forget. Those who have attended once try desperately to attend others. Some of our people scrimp and save during an entire year--or even during two years--in order to be able to come again.
In the sessions of our national conventions all basic decisions are reached--by the delegates themselves. This is democracy in its purest form. All who come may speak and be heard; every point of view can be expressed, freely and fully. There are no closed sessions and every-thing is open and aboveboard. There are no decisions made by a little clique at the top and then submitted to the delegates for rubberstamping. No one is permitted to snarl a discussion in parliamentary red tape but, aside from that, and the limitations of time, debate is unrestricted and untrammelled. The will of the majority prevails but minority opinion always gets a full and free hearing.
back to contents
This may seem utterly incredible to many who have laboriously stuffed a few hundred, or a few thousand White Cane Week letters, but on April 21 a totally blind vending stand operator, Steve Hopkins, and his totally blind wife, Nina, of Madison, Wis., finished the insertion of folders. Braille book marks and appeal letters in one million WCW envelopes. This is the 11th year in which they have done all, or nearly all of the Wisconsin stuffing. Steve has reduced this operation to an unbelievably efficient system. During the lulls at his stand his flying fingers have attracted many wondering spectators, who watch him for a time, shake their heads, and depart, muttering their incredulity.
During the years that I was in business, I had a fleet of trucks and could take many thousands of these letters to Milwaukee, where an annual stuffing party was held at the Badger Home. It would now cost a great deal to hire this transportation, so Steve and Nina, with occasional help from neighbors and friends, have taken over completely. Since the commercial rate for stuffing now runs from a cent and a half to two cents per item, and since, with the return envelope, four items are inserted in each unit, it takes only simple arithmetic to determine what a really substantial annount of money these two devoted workers have saved the Wisconsin Council of the Blind.
back to contents
"Dear Mr. Barnett: Thank you very much for your letter of Jan.16 relative to H. R. 9964 which I introduced to protect 'The Right of the Blind to Self-Expression through Organizations of the Blind'. I have read with great interest the enclosed reprint--'Hindsight'--and I agree with you that--the right of the blind persons to organize already exists--theoretically, but whether the freedom of blind persons to join the organization of their own choosing exists as a practical matter is, I believe, open to serious question. In this respect, as in others, I think our sightless citizens are entitled to equality of rights and opportunities to which all American citizens are entitled. Thanks again for writing and with every good wish. Sincerely yours, Thomas Ludlow Ashley."
(Ed. Note--Congressman Ashley's district is in Northwest Ohio and he has just been re-nominated by a thumping two to one majority.)
Fifty-eight Congressmen from 28 states have now introduced bills identical to H. R. 8609. Those who have become co-sponsors since our last report are: Robert E. Jones, Ala., H. R. 12079; Frank T, Bow, Ohio, H. R. 12351; Walter Rogers, Texas, H. R. 12404; Henry Aldous Dixon, Utah, H. R. 12452; Hugh Scott, Pa., H. R. 12454 and Frank Ikkard, Texas, H. R. 12482.
back to contents
On May 4, 5, and 6 the President and First Vice-President of the NFB, together with all members of the staff and Mr. David Cobb, met at the Continental Hotel in Washington, D.C. to organize the testimony to be presented at the hearings on H. R. 8609 and its companion bills, which were then expected to be called about the last week in May. David Krause, formerly of Missouri but now employed in Washington, sat in during the Sunday and Monday evening sessions. Bill Taylor and Frank Lugiano, of Pennsylvania, also attended on Monday, at which time the Missouri-Pennsylvania bills were taken up and discussed intensively.
back to contents
From the April issue of Viewpoint: "Early in May the Oklahonaa Federation of the Blind will send questionnaires to candidates for governor and the state legislature to give each of them an opportunity to express himself on issues of importance to the membership of this organization. The results of the questionnaire will be published in the next issue of Viewpoint for the information of those interested.
"Among other topics to be included, candidates will be asked for their views on (1) An adequate and earmarked appropriation to finance vocational rehabilitation of blind persons. (2) The establishment of a statutory minimum budget for recipients of aid to the blind similar to that now in operation in Nevada. (3) An act for aid to the partially self-supporting blind persons patterned after the California law which has been in operation since 1941. (4) Legislation to control the sale of so-called 'blind-made products' within the state. (5) A purchasing act to provide for the purchase by the state of certain blind-made products patterned after the federal act which has been in operation for twenty years."
back to contents
The National Federation of the Blind was among those invited to send representatives to a National Institute on Sheltered Workshops, held in Bedford, Pa. on April 15, 16, 17 and 18. The setting was in the midst of the beautiful mountain country of western Pennsylvania and the Institute was housed in a vast, rambling old resort hotel. Paul Kirton and I attended. The American Foundation for the Blind sent two of its staff members, (Win Rumsey and Art Voorhees), the Blinded Veterans sent two and there were a number of blind workshop managers present. There were several people from the federal government, (Labor Standards and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation), and one or two from organized labor. But the overwhelming majority was naade up of executives, managers, medical men and others from workshops which employ categories of handicapped persons other than the blind.
The general plan was to have a full session at the beginning of each day, followed by group discussions during the rest of the forenoon, all afternoon and in the evening. There were more than 250 present and they were divided into twelve discussion groups of approximately equal size. At the close of each discussion session an effort was made to synthesize and summarize the conclusions reached. The following morning, a general summary was read of all such group discussions.
Some pretty liberal views were presented by the speakers at the general sessions. In the smaller groups, however, the workshop people almost invariably found reasons why such views were not practical for their particular shops. We were all told at the beginning of the Institute that we were to forget that we represented organizations and were to think objectively as individuals. I think it is quite fair to say that almost no one found himself able to do this,--including the two NFB representatives. It was interesting, sometimes amusing, sometimes a bit saddening, to follow the rationalizations which went on in order to justify the various workshop interests present in their almost unanimous refusal to make any real changes. And for the most part, in my opinion, this was done in good faith. Most of those present were earnest, sincere people, largely unaware of their own motivations.
My particular section was pretty well dominated by executives from Good Will Industries. Mr. Robert Adair, head of the Good Will shop in St. Petersburg, Fla., was especially vocal. Two or three times during each session he would say: "These high-sounding, fine-spun philosophical theories sound fine but they just aren't practical." On one occasion he said: "I haven't much patience with this talk about incentive for the workers. They should be taught to love God and their gratitude to Him should be incentive enough." The leader of my section was a Good Will executive from Dayton, Ohio, but I believe he came closer to objectivity than any of the rest of us and he was scrupulously fair at all times. The only thing I was able to get through was a vote in favor of the extension of the exempt earnings principle to other handicapped workers, to provide more incentive, but this was ignored when the general summary was read the next morning.
Paul fought hard in his section for a minimum wage, extension of unemployment compensation, worker representation, etc., but he was consistently voted down. Apparently all groups were adamant in their opposition to such revolutionary proposals.
The majority favored integration of blind workers into shops for the handicapped generally. E. B. Whitten, head of the National Rehabilitation Association, conceded that attempts to do this in the past had always failed but maintained that enough had been learned in the last ten years so that he believed it could now be accomplished successfully. Needless to say, Paul and I fought another losing battle here.
Since the production workers of sheltered workshops for the blind have no national organization of their own and since no workers at all were invited to be present at this Institute Paul and I felt that, as representatives of the National Federation--which has a great many members from among blind workshop employees--it was proper for us to try to present the point of view of these workers. Our colleagues received in shocked silence the suggestion that there ought to be worker representation on the boards of directors of sheltered workshops. The majority held steadfastly to the view that no handicapped worker should be paid a cent more than he actually earned, under any circumstances. They seemed not at all shocked when it was brought out that some sheltered workshops pay as little as ten cents an hour. Even such outrageously illegal practices as the so-called "group piece-work" arrangement seemed to elicit little disapproval. The representative of the Department of Labor told us frankly that his superiors refused to prosecute such violations because it was felt by them that the workshop people were powerful enough to obtain complete exemption from all labor laws if they found it expedient to do so.
From our point of view the best thing in the whole Institute was the presence of Kenneth Pohlman, of the United Mine Workers Welfare Fund. He roamed about from one discussion section to another, talking sense, and it was like a fresh sea breeze on a hot day whenever he appeared. The things he said were not at all to the liking of most of his hearers but he began each time with such disarming humility and proceeded with such consummate tact that there was little or no resentment and he scored many telling points. Even though he did not succeed in converting the majority, I feel very sure that he raised many doubts in many minds. The absence of Father Thomas Carroll, of Boston, and of Kathryn Gruber, of the American Foundation, (both of whom had been present at the Atlantic City Conference last June and had been outspoken in their liberal views), was most unfortunate.
The theme of the Institute was "The Role of the Sheltered Workshop in Programs of Rehabilitation." At the end of the four days, Paul and I felt more convinced than ever that, if the sheltered workshop has any role at all in rehabilitation, it is a mighty small one. If the sheltered workshop is considered as a place of employment, then it should meet employment standards--a living wage and decent working conditions. With a very few exceptions, sheltered workshops fall far short of these standards. If training is the chief objective, conditions in most sheltered workshops are extremely unfavorable. The "trainees" are scrambled in with the hopelessly submarginal workers and there is often a strong likelihood that they will pick up bad and slovenly work habits. In shops which carry on the traditional "blind trades" of brush and broom-making, weaving and the like, the skills acquired have little carry-over or transfer value when it comes to jobs in open industry. There are a few good production shops doing real subcontract work and paying relatively good wages but, at least in some of them, there is a strong tendency to try to hold on to the best workers, rather than to encourage them to seek competitive employment. In far too many cases the shops become a dumping ground, an easy way out for the lazy or incompetent placement counselor. A potentially good and productive handicapped worker, who cannot be "readily" placed in competive employment, is all too likely to be shunted off into one of these dead-end institutions and forgotten. All vocational training benefits which are claimed for sheltered workshops--such as the acquiring of work tolerance, manipulated skills, vocational guidance, etc.--can be achieved in a far better climate at a good orientation center. There was a lot of talk about "ancillary service"--medical, psychiatric, social, etc. There was much discussion of "integration" with other community service agencies. We heard a good deal about "vertical expansion" and "horizontal expansion" of the workshop but these concepts seemed much too abstract for the "practical" workshop managers.
I think you will be interested in a few quoted passages from one of the best papers presented at this Institute. The author is Dr. James Garrett, Assistant Director, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Some of his statements display a rare candor. If, however, after having read what follows you feel somewhat confused and bewildered, you will be in the same situation in which a great many of the delegates found themselves after listening to this and other papers read to them from the assembly platform. I have asked for and received permission to publish these quotations from both Dr. Gariett and the sponsoring organization.
"To take a creative look at the expanding responsibilities of the workshop presents both a problem and an opportunity. We have been through the new look in fashions, and now have the sad sack--which I hope is not the look I shall present to you this evening. On the other hand, to look creatively is a real problem. I have always looked upon the process of creation as the production of something out of nothing. To take this look at the workshop would mean that, either that which is looked at (i.e., the workshop) is nothing, or the one looking (i.e., the present speaker) is nothing. I am sure many of my friends would agree with the latter!
"... Conferences such as this one have had the workshop as their theme and workshops seem to multiply as fast as Lil' Abner's Schmoo! But with all this, workshops do not actually constitute the new look in rehabilitation, although some so-called 'leaders' have newly discovered them. Actually they have existed here since the beginning of our century. Why, then, all the furor! I submit that part of this is due to the atmosphere of confusion which exists about workshops--they are many things to many people. Let me give you some examples.
"(A) To the general public, the term is meaningless and confusing since it does not understand how work and shelter go hand-in-hand--production and protection do not seem to mix.
"(B) To the disabled individual, it may be the final stage of rehabilitation beginning with diagnosis and ending in industrial placement. In this environment he has a place to work where he can gain self-confidence, high morale, and the chance to become a paid worker. But it can also be a place of stagnation and a 'stopping-off ' point between one institution and another!
"(C) To the physician, it provides the extension of prescribed therapies....
"(D) To the vocational counselor, the sheltered workshop serves as a laboratory for new methods, giving him new information so that his client can formulate better his vocational plans. This information creates something of a dilemma for the counselor since these observational data often contradict the more orthodox methods of vocational assessment.
"(E) To the social worker, the sheltered workshop may become the agent helping the client to bring his future plans into focus. It may act as the trigger which relieves many social tensions as the client is given the opportunity to gain a new status. This often means the difference between unwanted dependency and a self-supporting citizen approaching independence.
"Conversely, the sheltered workshop often becomes, to some, an opportunity to place too quickly the stamp of rehabilitation on an individual's file, thus claiming another 'success' when, in reality, entry and continuous stay in a sheltered workshop is an abysmal failure born out of expediency, lack of knowledge, lack of ingenuity and lack of professional integrity.
"It has also been pointed out that 'sheltered workshops are all kinds of places'. This is eminently true since they vary all the way from the gleaming factory to the little room with people working around a long table. One might confuse them with a modern industry or an Occupational Therapy Shop. What they should have in common is a general conformance to the 1950 definition by the National Association of Sheltered Workshops, i.e., 'a voluntary organization or institution conducted not for profit but for the purpose of carrying out a recognized program of rehabilitation for physically, mentally, and socially handicapped individuals by providing such individuals with remunerative employment and one or more other rehabilitating activities of an educational, psychosocial, therapeutic, or spiritual nature '.
"... There is a tendency for shops to try to be all things to all people, i.e., to try to stretch out to encompass all the functions of the workshop and thus be 'well-rounded'. In this connection I always recall the story of the general who overheard the young recruit refer to his sergeant as a spherical S.O.B. Quite intrigued, the general intimated to the blushing recruit that, in all his days, he had heard sergeants referred to by many names but never spherical--what did he mean? The young man faltered some and replied, 'Well, sir, he's an S.O.B. any way you look at him' I am not proposing that this be the solution for the sheltered workshop, that like a well-known paint, it cover the rehabilitation world. For some workshops this may be a feasible objective. But for others, the response might well be the exact opposite. What I am suggesting here is that some shops may examine their functions and conclude that they want to specialize, a specialization not in terms of the disabilities served but in terms of the services rendered. Thus, in providing services in sheltered workshops we can look toward a horizontal spread... but to an increase in vertical depth in one or two of these functions. This is happening in some places even now. Thus, we find shops specializing in the personal adjustment aspects of the work-shop program while others are stressing the work exploration aspects. But I should like to point out that this specialization has to take place in depth a la psychiatrist who goes down deeper, stays down longer, and coines up dirtier! It is not enough to say one is doing prevocational exploration or personal adjustment training. One must have, for example in prevocational exploration, a regular pattern of tasks to which all clients are exposed in a planned fashion and not a mere hodge-podge of trial-and-error opportunity. These tasks in turn must have some pre determined relationship on a realistic and scientific basis to the world of work in which clients are to be placed. Anything short of this--and most of what we see at the moment falls far short--is eminently fashionable but not very meaningful.
"This approach to 'specialization' carries with it an amount of community involvement and planning which is often overlooked.... With workshops developing in many communities so rapidly, it may be wise to look at the functions served, or to be served by each, so that there can be a better integration of services and referrals. In this way it can be determined that one workshop might offer diagnostic services from which all the others could profit, another work and personal ad- justment training and still another terminal employment--all of these to be areas of major emphasis and depth of service. Is this too unrealistic to expect of a community which will be in turn expected to contribute to the support of such services?...
"... We know that work for pay occupies half the waking hours of most humans, and that, while the primary purpose of work is earning a livelihood, this is not the only aim. Work has a social function and is a means of self-expression. A breakdown immediately disturbs a major portion of one's physical and psychic energy. The sheltered workshop provides a medium through which the re-establishment of these status losses maybe started--and the sooner this is started, the better..."
back to contents
The Lone Star Federation of the Blind is to be warmly congratulated on its decision to publish its own little magazine, keeping its members informed of the progress of the organization and of other developments which vitally affect their interest. It is called The Lone Star Leader and is under the editorship of the very able Mrs. F. E. Veach, of Dallas. At least one item in the current issue should be of genuine interest--especially to stand operators:
"On Jan. 2, in compliance with a G. S. A. order, the drink box was rennoved from the vending stand in the Terminal Annex Building in Dallas. This climaxed a long struggle on the part of the operator and several Congressmen with the General Services Administration, The operator received several extensions on the order and on various occasions was promised a hearing. The hearing was never granted.
"There are several very important aspects concerning this situation. Let us look at some of them: (1) We must have more rigid enforcennent of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. If it is possible for a Federal Bureau to remove a drink box, it is quite possible that the same Bureau could remove the whole vending stand. (2) Again, we have the denial of the right of a blind person to be heard.... We believe that every American has the right to be heard. Hence, the Kennedy Bill S-2411. (3) The blind people of Texas cannot isolate themselves. The problem is far too great to be handled on a state level; the difficulty reaches far beyond our state boundaries. (4) The inability of the State Commission for the Blind to cope with this situation was conspicuous. While the Commission opposed the order to remove the drink box, their efforts on behalf of the operator were entirely ineffective.
back to contents
On April 16 John Taylor, Chief of Staff of the Washington office of the NFB, appeared before the Senate Constitutional Rights Subcommittee, under the chairmanship of Senator Hennings, of Missouri, and delivered the following statement:
"The National Federation of the Blind has for some time been deeply concerned with securing from the Departments of the Federal Government information which is vital to the welfare of many blind persons. A substantial portion of our blind citizens are dependent at least in part for their economic support, their vocational rehabilitation, their education, or other opportunity areas, on one or another Government program.
"To help to secure to each of these citizens what is due them, they and their organizations should be enabled to know the administrative rules and decisions that are made to govern these programs.
"State blind aid programs, to which federal funds are contributed, are required by federal law to be made to conform with plans approved by the Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The rights, if we may call them that, of recipients of these programs are frequently in very large measure determined by the terms of the plans approved by the Secretary or by the terms of the various interpretations, rulings, and decisions placed by officials in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare upon these plans.
"The efforts of the National Federation of the Blind and of its affiliated statewide organizations to assist and advise persons in respect to blind aid programs have frequently been thwarted simply because access to the plans and to the various federal rulings and decisions made to govern these plans and federal law has been denied.
"A similar barrier has existed under state vocational rehabilitation programs that are financed in part by federal funds.
"Frequently rights of clients under these programs are determined by rulings and decisions made within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The inability of the National Federation and its affiliated state organizations to obtain access to these rulings and decisions has been a major obstacle in our affording to blind citizens a full measure of helpful service in respect to their opportunities for rehabilitation.
"The National Federation of the Blind is, of course, greatly concerned with the level of earnings received by blind workers in sheltered shops. We know that the Department of Labor has issued certificates of exemption which permit blind workers in sheltered shops to be paid wages as low as 10 cents an hour. We are, of course, apprised of individual cases of workers in sheltered shops who are unable to maintain even the barest minimum living standards for themselves and their families.
"We know that the Department of Labor is empowered to gather, and no doubt has gathered, statistics in respect to the earnings of our people in sheltered shops that would be of great value to us in our efforts to assist them in securing better working conditions.
"Again our efforts in this direction are thwarted by inability to obtain access to information that is no doubt contained in our government offices.
"For more than twenty years, the federal government under the so-called Randolph-Sheppard Act has regulated the programs of state agencies for the licensing of blind persons to operate vending stands on federal and other property.
"Individual vending stand operators in these programs have on many occasions found that their interests have been decided under federal rulings and decisions to which they had no access and of which they had no knowledge. Each year Congress appropriates funds for the reproduction into braille or sound recordings of printed matter. The selection of the matter to be brailled or recorded is left to officials in the Library of Congress.
"The information that has been made available to the public in respect to how these selections are made is negligible. The result has been that the National Federation of the Blind and its affiliated organizations have not been enabled to participate in any effective way in the making of these selections which concern us so vitally.
"We understand that the passage of S-921 will not in itself accomplish the release by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare or by the Labor Department or by the Library of Congress of the information most needed by our organization and other organizations seeking to assist blind persons under the federal programs here cited.
"However, we recognize that Section 161 of the revised statutes, 5 U. S. C. 22, has been all too frequently incorrectly cited as authority for Executive Departments to withhold information from the public.
"Accordingly we endorse and strongly urge enactment of S. 921, at the same time strongly urging that serious attention be given to the enactment of the amendment to Section 1002 of Title V of the U. S. Code that is contained in Senate Bill 2148.
"In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we believe that there is in our government offices, and files, a great deal of information that should be made available to interested groups, organizations, and individuals.
"We are not requesting the availability of personal or confidential information the disclosure of which would be injurious to the public interest. But where there are rules and regulations and decisions that are available within the Department and where these rules and decisions apply to programs that affect important segments of the population, we believe that the public interest is most ably served by having these materials available to the general public...."
Senator Hennings: "We are indeed mindful of the points you raised and raised so eloquently and forcefully here today. You have done us all a great service. And keep in touch with us if we may be of any service to you or if anything else occurs to you during this time or any other time that you would like to expand your statement or make any suggestion to us."
Mr. Taylor: "I assure you, Senator, that I will take full advantage of that opportunity."
Among others who appeared to support S-921 were: Herbert Brucker, Chairman, Freedom of Information Committee, American Society of News-paper Editors, and Editor, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant; V. M. ("Red") Newton, Jr. Chairman, Freedom of Information Committee, Sigma Delta Chi Journalism Fraternity, and Managing Editor, Tampa (Fla.) Morning Tribune; Edward P. Morgan, President, Radio-Television Correspondents' Association, and Commentator, American Broadcasting Company; Clark R. MoUenhoff, Washington Correspondent, Des Moines (Iowa) Register and Tribune; Irving Ferman, Director, Washington D.C. Office of the American Civil Liberties Union; and Martin Agronsky, Commentator, National Broadcasting Company.
back to contents
Some of the readers of the Braille Monitor may have read or heard of an article which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on March 29. It was entitled "Don't Fall For the Mail Frauds" and was written by a free-lance journalist, Ben Pearse. It characterized the National Federation as one of those guilty of using the mail for fraudulent purposes. Mr. Pearse stated that the Post Office had cited the National Federation for fraud and he concocted some imaginary figures. The article was clearly libelous and all attorneys who have been consulted have assured the NFB that it could probably win a libel suit against the Post. In view of our concentration at this time on the Kennedy Bill, however, it has been felt that we can not afford to divert time and energy to this purpose. Dr. tenBroek wrote the following letter to the Editors of the Post and it will presumably have appeared in "Letters to the Editor" by the time this issue of the Braille Monitor reaches you:
"The article 'Don't Fall For the Mail Frauds' (by Ben Pearse, March 29) stated that there is no hard and fast rule to help the layman distinguish between the bona fide organizations which derive support from the sale of unordered merchandise, and the swindlers. It then proceeded to group the National Federation of the Blind with the swindlers and stated that after Post Office action the National Federation hasn't been heard from. Let's set the record straight.
"The Post Office, after investigation, ceased to prosecute the fraud complaint against Federated Industries. It never instituted any fraud complaint against the National Federation. It never silenced or attempted to silence the National Federation. It did not stop our greeting card mail.
"Federated Industries sends out this mail under contract without cost or financial risk to the National Federation. The contract fixes the amount, stated in our solicitation letter, that the National Federation gets out of each sale. Federated Industries is limited to a reasonable business profit. Any excess belongs to the National Federation.
"The money raised is used to improve the social and economic lot of the blind. The genuineness of this work and of the National Federation has not been denied by the Post Office or any other government agency." (signed) Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, President, National Federation of the Blind, Berkeley, Calif.
back to contents
Mr. Proctor N. Carter, Director of the Missouri Division of Welfare, had at first expressed wholehearted support for H. R. 10915, which would permit all states, as well as Missouri and Pennsylvania, to adopt more liberal public assistance plans, providing the states bore the entire cost of such addtional programs. On April 21 Mr. Carter reversed his position and stated that, in view of the well-known opposition of the Federal Social Security people to all liberalizations of the means test, he felt that it would be better merely to ask for another postponement of the cut-off date for Missouri and Pennsylvania. Mr. John B. Busch, the Missouri Federation's attorney, wrote the following in reply to Mr. Carter's April 21st letter;
"Dear Mr. Carter:... In connection with Representatative Moulder's Bill, H. R. 10915, you will recall discussing the bill in my office with Mrs. Murphey and Mrs. Forshee. At that time it was agreed by all of us that Representative Moulder's bill would have the total support of not only the National Federation of the Blind, but of yourself as well. As you so logically pointed out, the bill would not only permit Missouri to carry on its dual system, but equally as important, enable other states to follow the enlightened lead of Missouri and Pennsylvania, and adopt similar progressive legislation. This being so, the prospect of obtaining support from Senators and Representatives from states other than Missouri and Pennsylvania would be excellent and the chances of H. R. 10915 becoming law certainly enhanced. I cannot help but wonder what has caused your change in position. Personally, I am not at all persuaded that the Social Security Department will be any more 'roused' by H. R. 10915, than they would be by eliminating the present cut-off date. Whether it's one state or 48, their attitude on the 'needs' principle is set, and it will not change unless Congress changes it for them. There is certainly a better chance for Congressional approval, if Senators and Congressmen from 48 states are for H. R. 10915, than trying to obtain special legislation for the benefit of two states.
"Certainly you and we, fervently believe in the philosophy of our Missouri system, as opposed to the Federal philosophy, and if it be best for blind Missourians, it is best for all blind Americans. I think the issues are clear, and that the battle to enact H. R. 10915 into law can be won.
"I earnestly ask that you reconsider your position, and return to the stand you adopted before Mrs. Murphey, Mrs. Forshee and myself. Very truly yours, John B. Busch."
back to contents
In introducing a bill which will have the same effect as that sponsored by Congressman Moulder, Thomas B. Curtis, Congressman from Missouri, made the following statement--on the floor of the House of Representatives:
"Mr. Speaker, I have introduced today a bill to amend title X of the Social Security Act to provide that, without an increase in the Federal participating funds, a state plan for aid to the blind may utilize a more liberal needs test than that presently specified in such title. This bill is consonant with the spirit and avowed purposes of title X wherein enabling legislation was enacted to encourage each State 'to furnish financial assistance as far as practicable under the conditions of such State, to needy individuals who are blind and of encouraging each State, as far as practicable under such conditions, to help such individuals attain self-support or self-care".
"... From 1937 to 1950 the blind people of Missouri and Pennsylvania and their State legislatures consistently refused to accept Federal matching funds if it meant scrapping their more liberal State blind pension and enacting in lieu thereof a more restrictive law which would conform to Federal requirements.... A study of the Missouri and Pennsylvania plans discloses, I think, quite well how far these two States have gone in their efforts to encourage the rehabilitation of its nonsighted citizens. They have enlarged their economic opportunities to the end that they may render themselves independent of public assistance and become entirely self-supporting. These programs have proved highly successful and have paved the way for more enlightened socio-economic legislation in the other 46 States.
"I have long been impressed with the wisdom of the words of Justice Brandeis, who said 'it is one of the happy incidents of the Federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel, economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.' The value of this thesis is demonstrated by the Missouri and Pennsylvania plans. Our aid to the blind program should be directed to the ends of rehabilitation and helping our nonsighted people to become useful and productive citizens. The needs test tends to hurt our efforts at rehabilitation. Its effect is to destroy initiative and desire to make the most of the blind person's productive years. The bill which I have introduced today is intended to preserve the minimum standards of clause (8) but it still allows the States to develop their programs in accordance with modern thinking and to encourage more liberal provisions provided that the States are willing to finance their expanded programs out of State funds.
"... In order to prevent the states from circumventing the minimum standards of the Federal program by transferring recipients to a drastically less adequate state program, the states are permitted to increase, but not decrease the extent to which the recipients' earnings, or income, or other resources will be exempted from the means test.
"It would eliminate the forced conformance to the antiquated needs test and would certainly encourage the other 46 states to develop plans that are consonant with this desirable thesis of rehabilitation and self-help. It would further bring Federal public assistance policy into conformity with the new congressional and general emphasis on rehabilitation of the disabled. As one step in this direction. Congress required the states in 1950 to exempt $50 of earned income of blind aid recipients from consideration in determining the amount of the grant. As a second step, Congress in 1956 proclaimed self-care and self-support to be one of the purposes of the public assistance provisions of the Social Security Act.
"This bill, if enacted into law, would simply restore an important state's right--the right to provide at state expense, a more liberal program of aid to the blind than the Federal Government chooses to allow. Since under the provisions of this legislation, the Federal Government would only provide participating funds for those individuals who would qualify under the present strict Federal definition of need, the plan could not possibly increase the cost to the Federal Government. It would in fact in time provide a real financial benefit to the Federal Government. Through more liberal state-financed welfare programs geared to rehabilitation and self-support, more blind people will make their way off of the relief rolls and will encourage our nonsighted citizens to make the most of their productive years, and by doing so, to become more useful citizens...."
back to contents
Here is a portion of a letter received from Harold Reagan, President of the Kentucky Federation of the Blind:
"Dear George: You will find enclosed copies of two bills which the Kentucky Federation of the Blind sponsored in the Kentucky General Assembly. It is a pleasure to report to you that both measures were approved by the Legislature and were subsequently signed by the Governor. Needless to say, this legislation required a lot of work. Mrs. Pat Vice, 129 Butler Drive, Frankfort, Kentucky is the Legislative Chairman of the Kentucky Federation of the Blind and merits great praise for her brilliant work in the legislature on the two bills.... She and I had the good fortune to be present in the Governor's office when he signed the bill to establish a Division for the Blind. A photographer took our picture with the Governor. The picture will appear in the May ink-print edition of The Kentucky Cardinal."
The first of the two new laws requires that blind-made goods be given preference by the State Purchasing Agency. The second creates a Division of Services for the Blind and requires that it be staffed with blind personnel wherever practicable. It also sets up a Statutory Advisory Committee and establishes a Business Enterprise Program. Since many other state organizations are interested in laws of this type, the texts of these two are reproduced below.
House Bill 79:"... Where the products of the blind produced under the supervision and direction of the Kentucky Industries for the Blind meet the requirements of state offices, departments, institutions and agencies of the Connmonwealth as to quality, quantity and price, such products shall have preference in all purchases by and for such state offices, departments, institutions and agencies. The price charged for the products shall, in no case, exceed the price quoted to other consumers. The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services in the Department of Education shall, from time to time, cause to be made available to the Division of Purchases, lists of the products of the Kentucky Industries for the Blind."
House Bill 90:"... Section 1. There is created within the State Rehabilitation Agency in the Department of Education a division of services for the blind. The division shall consist of a director and such other employees as the Department of Education shall determine. Preference shall be given to blind persons, where practicable, in the selection of all employees of the division.
"Section 2. There is created an advisory committee to advise the director concerning the activities of the division. The committee shall consist of not less than five members appointed by the Governor for terms of four years, or until their successors are appointed and qualified. At least two members of the committee shall be blind persons who have a known interest in and a demonstrated knowledge of the problems and needs of the blind. No state employee shall be a member of the committee. Members of the connmittee shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in service on the committee.
"Section 3. Section 163.150 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes is amended to read as follows: 'The State Rehabilitation Agency in the Department of Education, with the approval of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education shall establish and maintain a business enterprise program for the blind. In connection therewith the agency shall be authorized to own, lease, manage, supervise and operate vending stands and other business enterprises for the use or benefit of blind persons in federal, state, private and other buildings. The share of expenses of this program to be charged to each enterprise shall not exceed three percent of the gross receipts of such enterprise above the amount of one hundred and twenty-five dollars gross sales per week, the first one hundred and twenty-five dollars per week being exempt from any such fee. One or more stand placement agents shall be employed to locate and establish additional vending stands.'
"Section 4. To meet the needs and special problems of the blind, the portion of the budget provided for vocational rehabilitation services for the blind and the apportionment for other vocational rehabilitation services shall be separately maintained. All vocational rehabilitation services for the blind, under both state and federal appropriation, shall be channeled through the division of services for the blind."
back to contents
by Alma Murphey
(This is the eigth in a series of articles written for a St. Louis newspaper by Jack and Alma Murphey and David Krause. Alma Murphey is the author of this installment.)
"I just don't see how you can do it!" This is a comment often heard when a blind woman reveals that she does her own housework and cares for her children. As a blind homemaker I shall attempt to give you some insight into the lives of so many women, like myself, who are engaged in this activity.
The homes of blind persons present much the same appearance as those of sighted people. They contain the usual functional furniture and equipment, together with pictures, lamps, plants, and other decorative objects. I am not going to tell you that keeping house is as simple a matter without sight as with sight; there are, however, a number of tasks which can be performed with equal efficiency by the blind--washing dishes, making beds, dusting, ironing, cooking, etc. There are many other operations in which sight, though it would be a decided advantage, is not indispensable. Here is where more time, thought, and just plain hard work come into the picture. Instead of being able to survey a room and do only that work which is necessary, the entire room must be cleaned . Even so, perfect results are not guaranteed but, by giving the job all we have, the odds are decidedly in our favor. In my own housekeeping I do not use equipment specially adapted for the blind. Present-day appliances, such as automatic washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners, modern ranges, etc., contribute much to making housework easier and more enjoyable for all of us, whether blind or sighted.
Cooking is accomplished by carefully following directions, much as sighted people do, with special emphasis given to the amount of cooking time specified. Some blind homemakers do make effective use of a number of special appliances, gadgets and Braille gauges, such as Braille timers and brailled or notched thermostatic controls on ranges and pressure cookers, but I have been able to do quite well without such aids. There is really nothing in the whole range of cookery which a competent blind homemaker can not achieve. I know of one totally blind woman, deprived of the use of one hand, who has achieved considerable local fame by reason of her almost incredibly delicious and beautiful baking creations.
Caring for the children is another phase of homemaking which is well within our grasp, but not without that extra amount of time, thought and effort. Instead of watching that the small child does not climb up to the stove or pull boiling water down over himself, a folding gate may be used to keep the child from coming into the kitchen while cooking is in progress. Instead of watching that a child does not play with matches, medicine or other harmful things, all such things are kept well out of his reach. Although it might seem like a good idea, blind people are not given unusually helpful children. So, when you see a two-year-old in the food market or out for a walk with his blind mother, it is not a case of the child helping his mother with the shopping or taking her for a walk. Older children of blind parents, however, are sometimes given responsibilities which are not usually delegated to children of sighted parents. On the other hand, our inability accurately to evaluate the child's performance often releases him from household chores which usually fall to the lot of the child with sighted parents,.
The simple fact is that there is nothing in the loss of sight which need prevent a woman (or, for that matter, a man) from successfully performing all of the tasks which are involved in keeping up an attractive and well-run household. All too commonly, however, (and this is often nothing less than tragic), a wife and mother who loses her sight is relegated to the rocking chair and condemned to the misery of enforced idleness because of the misguided "kindness" of her family. Her husband or children, or both, may sincerely believe they are "protecting" her. In reality, because of their unthinking acceptance of the ancient stereotype, they may be guilty of monstrous cruelty.
To emphasize the point being made throughout this series of articles, the factor which makes for success or failure is not our lack of sight, but the degree of training, initiative, determination, patience and genuine interest which we possess or lack. This is true whether our job be that of homemaker, secretary, factory worker or any of the numberless other occupations in which blind people today are successfully engaged. In conclusion, let me say that a woman's blindness does not make her either a good homemaker or a bad one.
back to contents
"... I have some rather definite ideas about the duties of delegates at National Conventions and the way their expenses should be handled. In the first place far too many people think that when they send delegates to represent their state they are sending someone on a vacation. This is not (and certainly ought not to be) the case. Also, there is a second misconception about the role of a delegate. Several years ago, when I first became a member of the Federation in Tennessee, someone would always make a comment to this effect at election time, 'Let's elect _ _ _. She can bring back a good report.' This attitude was totally wrong. (Incidentally, it no longer exists in the Tennessee organization which is one of the most progressive of the Federation affiliates.) The implication was that the purpose of sending a delegate at all was to bring back a report of what they, the Federation, did at their convention. It implied that all of the other state organizations made up the National Federation but that we were something separate. We were the Tennessee organization. The purpose of our delegates was not to represent us and actively help to deternnine policy at our National Convention. The purpose was to bring back a good report of what they were doing.
"There was also at times a notion that 'We ought to send _ _ _. He has worked hard for the organization and deserves the honor.' This, too, is a wrong notion. The state organization should send its ablest members (and as many of them as possible) to represent it at the National Conventions. The delegates should--and most of them do--work early and late to help hammer out the policy decisions which will determine the course of the organized blind movement during the coming year. It is a strenuous job. It is no vacation...."
back to contents
by William Taylor, Jr.
Media, Pa., April 23, 1958: Mr. Barnett's editorial contra the "Right to Organize Bill" published in the January Outlook is based upon two fallacious propositions: One, an error of law; and the other, a mistake of fact. His legal error is in absurdly construing its provisions as though they required administrators to: "seek and abide by the guidance of representatives of organizations of blind people...." There is simply no such requirement in the bill and he does not quote any of its language in support of his assertion. Workers for the blind, who lack legal training, should not cause needless confusion by trying to construe bills and statutes. Statutory construction requires experience and they would render a service to the blind by obtaining the advice of a lawyer who is actually practicing or teaching law--the opinions of a broomshop lawyer are not very helpful.
In addition to the bill introduced by Senator Kennedy to guarantee the right to organize, fifty-two identical bills have been introduced into the House of Representatives.
Factually he is wrong in asserting (a) that the administrators do consult with the organized blind and (b) that the administrators never--well, hardly ever--exert influence of their position against the organized blind.
Our experiences here in Pennsylvania prove how badly we need the enactment of this bill:
1. On January 6, 1958, in violation of express promises that there would be consultation in advance, the State Council, which is the state rehabilitation agency for the blind, after six years' procrastination, suddenly issued rules and regulations governing the vending stand program.
2. The blind operators of vending stands have formed an organization known as The Blind Merchant's Guild, which has worked vigorously to improve the condition of its members.
3. The Council's staff formed a captive outfit to counter the Guild, to sing the praises of the agencies and to defeat all efforts at reform.
4. By threats of economic reprisals and by promises of special favors, Guild members were induced to quit their own organizations and to join this dummy creature of the Council.
5. Pennsylvania's private agencies for the blind, heretofore independent, are now altogether subservient to the Council, for unless they do precisely what the Council Director demands they simply do not get funds for their rehabilitation or expansion programs.
6. Three years ago, a difference arose between the Federation and the State Council over pending legislation. The Federation's secretary was the wife of a Council employee, and she was ordered to resign and had to do so to protect her husband's job.
Apart from what is or is not going on in the other forty-seven, states, these few instances, of the many which might be cited, make it abundantly clear that the blind of Pennsylvania sorely need the enactment of the Kennedy Bill.
P. S. : The most convincing circumstantial evidence as yet adduced in support of these bills appears in the March issue of the New Outlook, which you are urged to study and ask yourself:
A. Why are the agency administrators so excessively agitated and apprehensive over a moderate measure which would merely require executives at least to TRY TO ASCERTAIN what the blind themselves want and would prohibit the abuse of their power to frighten the blind from joining EFFECTIVE ORGANIZATIONS?
B. Why is the Vice President of the A.AW.B. cited as a disinterested opponent (P. 62, Braille edition) when the editor must know that Wood was reproved by the OVR. for the unwarranted disclosure of confidential information in a manner certain to injure two Federation members?
Section 2 of the Kennedy-Baring Bill is intended to discourage just this sort of unfair and detrimental official conduct.
back to contents
(The following is a portion of an editorial which appeared in the Manchester (N. H.) Union Leader on April 19, 1958. It was printed in the Congressional Record at the request of Senator Bridges.):
" 'And courage never to submit or yield.' Very special significance marks this line; a very special significance because it was written by John Milton, blind poet who could not see the visible world but who did see its beauties and its mysteries. It most certainly also applies to Sanbornville's Forrest A. Garland, whose war service resulted in blindness, but who does not consider himself handicapped. No, indeed. Think of the fact, as only one example of his valor, that the autobiography he is writing is entitled Blindness Has No Part in My Life.
"That is no empty phrase. Forrest Garland lives the title. He works; he plays; he is very much a part of the community. He enjoys companionship and is himself a good companion. 'Anyone who is blind or has physical disability should never doubt being able to live a normal life,' he declares, and adds, 'I go on doing just like everybody else.!'
"While Forrest does not consider himself extraordinary, the truth is that he is most certainly of heroic mold. He might have become embittered. He might have made himself totally dependent upon the ministrations of others. But Forrest Garland is made of sterner stuff. He is independent; he leads a useful life; and he is happy in his normal life. He does not want and he does not need pity. He glories that he is respected, much-liked and accepted as a part of the community. He does for himself, and it is our opinion that he does much for others.... Forrest Garland was born with strength of character, from which courage stems. And when the need came, that courage mounteth, and grew strong and lasting. Recall his philosophy: 'Anyone who is blind or has physical disability should never doubt being able to live a normal life.' "
Milton Oles, of La Crosse, Wis., is a blinded veteran who has also lost the hearing of one ear and whose sense of taste and smell have been almost completely destroyed. But he certainly makes good use of that remaining ear. He says that he is more alert to sounds and pays more attention to them. "My feet," he says, "my whole body seem to act as an antenna. When a band is playing I can pick up the vibrations from the floor and 'hear' the music at a considerable distance."
"Before the war he had specialized in radio work, but after the loss of his eyesight he turned to the related field of sound. His present business includes setting up sound systems for stage performances (he's a member of the stagehands union), for banquets and meetings, for out-door contests of various types and sound truck advertising, as well as tape recording, among other things. In 1952 and 1953, he set up the sound systems for the national plowing contests at Kasson, Minn., and Augusta, Wis., including the speakers' platforms at Kasson from which Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson nnade addresses to hundreds of thousands of auditors. Another big event to which he gave sound was the National Muskie Festival at Hayward in 1954. Atop his sound truck for that event Oles displayed a 9 1/2 foot model of a muskie that he made himself by hand out of aluminum, with a taxidermist doing the painting. The muskie theme is close to Oles' heart. 'I do some fishing in the river here,' he says, 'but whenever I can I take a couple of weeks off to go muskie fishing.' 'The largest muskie I ever caught,' says Oles, 'ran 52 pounds--highly respectable, even though not a record.' He figures he missed one, though, that would have been a world's record when it managed to wrap its body in the line and pull the hook free. A friend in the boat with him at the time estimated its weight at over a hundred pounds.
"One of the latest of his activities has been the construction of a public address system for civil defense work, at some $900 expense to himself. Oles explains that the self-propelled system, with power unit attached, could be used in the event of a disaster, such as the recent Fargo tornado, or to call hunters out of the river bottoms in the event of the approach of a blizzard like that in 1941.
"Locally, Oles has a near monopoly on setting up sound systems, After a corps of sound engineers from Minneapolis had installed a new sound system for the La Crosse auditorium and it failed to work, Oles was called in to diagnose what was wrong. He quickly pointed out the mistakes which had been made. The auditorium authorities tried to pre-empt his ideas and pass them on to a sighted sound engineer but Milt's union stood by him and insisted that he be allowed to do the work or they would boycott the auditorium entirely. Reluctantly Milt was given the contract and everyone who has attended auditorium events since he completed his work sings the praises of this blind and partially deaf sound expert.
"Oles does all his work himself in designing and wiring sound systems. His only assistance comes when he hires a driver to operate a truck or car. At first those who watched him from below, nonchalantly traversing dizzy catwalks, or unconcernedly making his way among the rafters and 'hot wires' of the big auditorium, were more than a little worried, but they have become used to this sort of thing now."
From the BVA Bulletin via the Washington State White Cane: "It takes more than skill to repair an Intertype machine--mechanisms that set news and advertising copy into type--but if you are blind it takes more skill.
"This complicated machine, however, is no problem for 26-year old Douglas West of LaFayette, Indiana, who looks after the eleven Intertype machines at the LaFayette Journal-Courier newspaper without the use of his eyes. He was blinded at Heartbreak Ridge in Korea.
"The loss of his sight did not stop West from continuing the trade he had started learning before he went into service. He started working for the LaFayette newspaper in 1949 but less than ten months later he was in Korea.
"It was feared that his career as a printing shop machinist was finished when he suffered complete blindness when a mortar shell burst near him.
"But this did not stop West. It only slowed him down temporarily. He returned to the newspaper and utilized his acute sense of touch and hearing to make up for the loss of his eyes. And with the tutoring of a fellow-mechanic and the help of his wife, Ruth, he studied and mastered the Intertype machine. Now, when one of the machines breaks down. West merely asks the operator how the machine acted when it stopped operating. 'If you know that, it's easy to figure out what is wrong with it,' West said.
"There are, however, two special tools in his tool box that will not be found in the average mechanic's collection. One is a special Braille micrometer, which he uses to measure parts to one one- thousandth of an inch. It uses a dot and dash code instead of the usual numerals. West's co-workers say he is as speedy and accurate with his Braille micrometer as other workers who have two eyes to aid them. The other special tool is a dial type thermometer. West has cut away a portion of the glass front so he can feel the needle as it travels around the dial. He uses the thermometer to test the heat of the molten metal that the Intertype processes into type. West also uses the usual array of mechanic's tools; pliers, screw driver, electric drills, files and wrenches.
"West's difficult task of becoming a printing room machinist was finally climaxed recently when The International Typographical Union gave him his journeyman's card--making him the first sightless repairman in the Union's history."
back to contents
(From Washington's White Cane):
"Glaucoma is a common cause of blindness. It is suspected whenever vision is blurred or discomfort is noted in or about the eyes. Excessive tears, dissatisfaction with glasses, mild headaches, slow focusing, especially in dim light, pain in the eyes and colored halos around lamps are enough to warrant a thorough examination by a competent ophthalmologist.
"Diagnosis is made easy by means of a simple, painless test.
"In glaucoma, tension within the eyeball is increased. The structure contains fluid that keeps the orb from collapsing. This fluid enters through openings in one part of the eye and escapes through a series of drains in another part. Glaucoma occurs when the overflow is blocked and the excess fluid overdistends the visual compartment. The resulting pressure damages the delicate nerve cells of the retina and unless recognized and treated early, blindness invariably ensues.
"Physical strain, overindulgence in coffee or tea, certain eye drops and tight fitting clothing such as collars, girdles or belts make glaucoma worse. Darkness also influences tension, because a dilated pupil affects the area where fluid escapes from the eye. The victim is advised also to avoid excitement, anger, worry and fear. Emotions affect the flow of aqueous humor and increase tension in much the same way as blood pressure rises with a psychic upset.
"Many glaucoma sufferers are high-strung. The disease is noted first after an aggravating life situation. When the disorder is diagnosed early, satisfactory treatment keeps it in check."
(Ed. Note--Psychologists report that glaucoma is never found in mentally retarded blind children and does not appear when they reach maturity.)
back to contents
In the article entitled "NFB Seeks to End Federal Veto Power Over Humane State Laws," which appeared in the April issue there was the following statement: "In Pennsylvania a blind person is allowed to have $83 a month income and still qualify for the full amount of the grant." The statement should have been: "In Pennsylvania a blind person is allowed to have $148.33 a month income and still qualify for the full amount of the grant."
back to contents
A sighted visitor who dropped in on one of the sessions of the 1956 convention and remained for a short time listening to what went on, wrote Dr. tenBroek later that he had been ignored and that he had felt unwelcome. He asked our President if it were true that there is a general hostility among the blind toward sighted people. Dr. tenBroek replied in part:
"... If you went away as you say you did with an impression not only of embarrassment but also of hostility towards the sighted on the part of blind persons whom you met, I can assure you that this was an utterly erroneous impression. I have lived and worked with these people for many years. I have never discovered the slightest hostility towards sighted people among them. Sighted people occasionally say that they discover such a sentiment. I am sure, however, that this is a product of the general stereotype about blindness and blind people. According to this stereotype blind people must envy people who have sight and therefore must have a sense of hostility towards them. Never in my whole life have I experienced such a feeling and never in my whole life have I met a blind person who had. On this point therefore, if you will pardon my saying so, I think that you are entirely wrong. Right or wrong, favorably or unfavorably impressed by our San Francisco convention, I hope that you will find an opportunity to attend one of our conventions in the near future. It would be good if you could come at the beginning and stay to the end, sitting in on all of the meetings and participating in the social life of the members. I feel convinced that you will go away with quite a different impression from that derived from a few minutes visit as a guest looking in on a crowded convention and platform. Our next convention will be held at the Somerset Hotel in Boston, July 4-7, 1958."
back to contents
by Donald Capps
The Second Annual Convention of the South Carolina Aurora Club of the Blind, Inc., was held at the Hotel Franklin in Spartanburg, S.C., May 3 and 4. More than 100 delegates were in attendance, which represented approximately two-thirds of the entire membership of the state organization. There was a count of 105 attending the Saturday evening banquet to hear the magnificent address delivered by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek. In his usual brilliant and dynamic manner, Dr. tenBroek spoke on the Kennedy bill. The banquet was also addressed by Mr. John Taylor, legislative representative of the N. F. B. in Washington, D.C., who spoke on the duties of his office. Other speakers to address the convention were: Mr. Arthur B. Rivers, Director, South Carolina Department of Public Welfare; Dr. W. Laurens Walker, Superintendent of the South Carolina School for the Blind; Mr. R. D. Derrick, Social Security Administration; Mr. Edward Farrer, Manager, Spartanburg Y.M.C.A. Health Club and Mr. Jim D. Adams, President of the Spartanburg Lions Club. There was also a demonstration by the Southern Bell Telephone Company, of the switch board with latest designs used in enabling blind persons to successfully operate these types ot switch-boards. All the delegates enjoyed a Saturday afternoon visit to Cedar Spring, where the State School for the Blind is located, during which time there was a tour of the campus, including open house of the new one-half million dollar Primary Building. The school's May Day program was also enjoyed. Donald C. Capps was re-elected President of the state organization and was also chosen as official delegate with John L. Cooley, alternate delegate, to represent the club at the Boston convention.
back to contents
by Mrs. Gordon Hardenbergh
(The following is an excerpt from the testimony which Mrs. Hardenbergh, president of the Alabama Federation of the Blind, will present during the hearings on the Kennedy-Baring Bill.):
"... The members of the Alabama Federation of the Blind think of themselves not merely as members of isolated, local chapters or as members of our state organization but as members of the national organized blind movement. The give and take and the exchange of ideas at our national conventions are key factors in the strength of our national organization.
Alabama offers an excellent example of the kind of harmony which can exist between the agencies established to serve the blind and organizations of the blind. Our Alabama Federation of the Blind is an independent organization. It is not subservient to our state agencies. Our state agencies are not subservient to us. Rather, we respect each other and work as partners to promote a joint cause--the improvement of conditions for the blind. At times we differ, but these occasions are rare. This co-operation between us and our state agencies is possible because our state agency officials have not taken the attitude that the blind should not have a voice in the programs affecting them. They have recognized that both they and the blind are benefited if the blind speak for themselves, and speak independently.
Let me give you an example. Our state school for the blind is located in Talladega. I was a student there from 1925 to 1928. The buildings were almost 100 years old and were shamefully inadequate. There were forty-four of us girls on the third floor of a building which was, to say the least, a fire hazard. Seven of us slept in one room, and thirty-seven of us slept in another. We had one small bathroom for the entire forty-four girls. We had no closets, no dressers, no privacy. The same facilities and conditions still exist today.
I am glad to say that these conditions are about to change, however. Last year a three million dollar bond issue referendum was passed by the state legislature, to be voted on by the people at the general election in December. Our state federation did everything possible to support this bond issue. Many of us had lived at the school and knew firsthand the conditions there. The night before the election (December,16) three trustees of the school, the president of the school, one former trustee and I, as president of the organized blind of the state, appeared on a thirty-minute television program to urge the enactment of the bond issue. It was a united effort. The president of the school talked about the needs as they existed, and I talked from the point of view of a person who had attended the school. I also talked as the spokesman of the state's organized blind citizens. After the television program the president of the school and I were on a two-hour radio program answering questions phoned in by the listening audience concerning the school.
The next day the bond issue was passed by about five to one. We will soon have a new school. The Alabama Federation of the Blind and the school authorities worked together in a common effort, and we were successful.
Both we and our state agencies are trying to educate the public to the fact that blindness is not the terrible and limiting factor which most people think it to be. We are trying to bring about improvements in our state programs for the blind. The lives of our blind people of Alabama are being made better by the fact that we have an Alabama Federation of the Blind. If our state agency officials were afraid to see us organize independently and even at times to criticize their actions, all programs for the blind in our state would suffer, and the advancement; of the blind would suffer. Some states have not been as fortunate as we. The agencies in those states have clung to outmoded concepts and ideas, and not only the blind but the agencies as well have suffered in consequence. This is why we feel that it is essential that the bills protecting the right of the blind to organize be passed. When agencies for the blind are willing to recognize the right of the blind to organize, and when the blind and the agencies work co-operatively together and consult about common problems, the results are beneficial to all concerned. And it can be done. We have done it in Alabama.
back to contents
(Jack Polston, a blind electrician, whose story appeared in the Monitor some months ago, will appear at the hearings on the Kennedy-Baring Bill--and the following is a brief excerpt from the testimony he will offer.):
"... From the very beginning the members of the Federation argued with me that I could continue my work as an electrician. Most of them didn't know anything about electrical work, but they did know about blindness--and that was where I was short. I met blind people who were lawyers, scientists, teachers, skilled laborers, and business men; and I began to try to figure out methods and techniques and to hope again.
"It proved to be easier than I had thought possible. I found that I could do many things by touch that I had always done by sight and that some of my new methods were even superior to the old ones. Just to give two examples, in the old days when I wanted to find a short in the wiring of a house, I would go up to the attic and tap around on the connections. When I found one that would make the lights flicker in the house below, I had my short. I either had to ask someone to call up to me that the lights were flickering or I had to keep my neck twisted to look down. Now, I use another technique. I turn a radio on to a musical program. Then I do my tapping as before. When I hear static, I have found my short. It is as easy as that. I wish that I had been using the method all along. Several other electricians in my area have adopted it since I have been back at work.
"Another change in technique is involved in the installation of garbage disposal units. Before my blindness I would get down under a sink and try to look up to see what I was doing. It was extremely awkward and there was never enough light. Now I simply go up to a sink, squat down and feel up under it to do my work. The method is so much simpler and so much more effective that most of the other electricians with whom I work have now adopted it. I would have been better off if I had been using it all along.
"Other techniques are equally simple. Color of wire, for instance. You can tell the color by the way the wire unwinds. Packaging is standardized and always the same . I have developed a level which I can use by touch, and I can use a soldering torch by the way it sounds and by means of a wire feeler which I have attached to the torch. Recently I saved my contractor several hundred dollars because I noticed that the wrong kind of switch boxes were being installed in a housing tract. The switch boxes we were using were for plaster walls, and these houses were of dry wall construction. The boxes stuck out a quarter of an inch too far and would simply not have worked. As it was, we only had to pull the switch boxes out of two or three houses. It might have been the whole tract. Apparently the difference in size was more noticeable to the touch than to the eye.
"... The reason that I am able to carry on as an electrician is not because I was an electrician before I became blind. Anything a blind man can do can be learned after the onset of blindness. The reason I am working today as an electrician is that I was given a chance.... The greatest thing that has ever happened to the blind of this country is that they have organized and are helping themselves and each other. If it had not been for the National Federation of the Blind, I am sure that I would not be working today."
back to contents
(This is a very small part of what my fellow editor, Jesse Anderson of Utah, will tell Congress.):
"... I am a member of the House of Representatives of the Utah State Legislature and former member of the Idaho Legislature. From 1943 to 1947 I served as a Justice Court Judge in Idaho Falls. With my background and experience I feel that I am in a position to understand something of the problems of blindness and of blind people. It is for this reason that I so strongly support the bills now before Congress to protect the rights of the blind to organize and to require that they be consulted about programs for the blind....
"As to consultation with the blind on the part of the agencies, let me make it very clear that what we are advocating is not that any group or organization of the blind should have the power to dictate to the agencies. We have never requested such power, and the bill does not provide it. We do believe, however, that the governmental agencies doing work for the blind (or for that matter, any work) should at least listen to the views of the people they are established to serve. The loud outcries on the part of some of the agencies doing work for the blind that these bills would impair their services and that they would force the agencies to 'abide by' the recommendations of the blind organizations are perhaps the strongest arguments that could be advanced for the passage of the bills. If it is reasonable that farmers should be consulted about agriculture, that labor should be consulted by the Labor Department and that business groups should be consulted by agencies in the Department of Commerce--it only makes sense that the blind should be consulted about programs involving their welfare...."
back to contents
(Here are two brief excerpts from the testimony to be given by Clyde E. Ross, President of the Ohio Council of the Blind and Second Vice-President of the National Federation of the Blind.):
".... The passage of this bill is of utmost importance to the blind. Its principles are so firmly established in our American traditions and way of life that it is hard to believe anyone would oppose it. Yet, it is being opposed. Strangely enough, the opposition comes from certain powerful agencies doing work for the blind. Perhaps the fact and the source of this opposition are the greatest proofs that the legislation is needed.
"... In Ohio we do all that we can to find newly blind persons and to help them with their problems. When I first became a member of the Ohio Council of the Blind, our state and private agencies doing work for the blind were afraid of the organization and were hostile. They seemed to feel that our only purpose for organizing was to try to bring about their destruction, or at least to harass them. Gradually we have been able to modify their attitudes. We have managed to convince the agencies that we do not represent a threat to them. We now have almost complete co-operation. Symbolizing this co-operation, I, as President of the Ohio organized blind movement, was appointed by our state governor in 1952 to serve on the Ohio Commission for the Blind. Recently I have been serving as a consultant to a group appointed by the Assistant Chief Administrator of the Division of Social Adnninistration of the State Department of Welfare to study ways of expanding services to the blind of Ohio."
back to contents
by Audrey Bascomb
(Following are selected portions of the evidence which Mrs. Bascomb will present at the hearings on the Kennedy-Baring Bill):
... In 1953 we got the Nevada Legislature to enact what has been called the nation's model public assistance law for the blind. Its provisions were liberal and they have been liberally construed by our very able state Director of Welfare. The minimum presumed need of every blind person eligible to receive public assistance was deemed to be $75.00 per month. It is now $90.00 and our average monthly payments in the state are considerably higher than that.
... In 1956 Governor Charles Russell invited the National Federation of the Blind to make a survey of all of our state programs for the blind with an evaluation of their current functioning and recommendations for their improvement. A team of experts was sent to Nevada from the National Office of the Federation and the job which they did furnished us with an outline for the development of our programs for years to come. Governor Russell publicly commended the survey team. The Nevada Legislature, in its 1957 session, enacted into law all of their major recommendations.
Until 1957 Nevada was the only western state which did not have a home teaching service for the blind. The survey recommended that such a service be established and it is now in operation in the state.
Nevada's rehabilitation for the blind had been administered as a part of the general rehabilitation program in the state. It was doing such a poor job that the blind were receiving almost no service at all. Rehabilitation for the blind has now been separated from the general agency and has been co-ordinated with the home teaching service and the public assistance program, all located in the State Welfare Department.
The State Director of Welfare said in a public statement last year that the credit for the establishment of Nevada's forward-looking programs for the blind must largely go to the National Federation of the Blind. At the present time our Federation of the Blind in Nevada is more active than it has ever been. In the Las Vegas area we carry on many joint projects with our local Lions Clubs, who have been extremely helpful to us in our growth over the past few years. We and the Lions are now actively working to promote public education about blindness. The Federation in the Las Vegas area is also working with parents of blind children in an attempt to get a program established in our local schools for the education of the blind. At the present time blind children must be sent out of the state to receive an education. We are also providing counsel and advice for these parents. Our new state programs of rehabilitation and home teaching are beginning to swing into full action.
The fact that the blind of our state have organized to speak and to work for themselves, has been their salvation. It has made the difference between the bleakness and isolation of ten years ago and the hope and promise of today.
The consultation between our organization and our State Welfare Department has been invaluable in the development of our programs. We think so and the officials in our Welfare Department think so. The lack of consultation which existed under the old rehabilitation setup when our program was in the general agency was one of the reasons why that program was so ineffective.
For these reasons and because of our firsthand experience, we in Nevada feel that the legislation now before Congress to protect the right of the blind to organize and requiring that they be consulted about programs affecting them must be passed. This proposed legislation merely requires agencies doing work for the blind to do those things which all of them ought to do anyway. It is hard to understand how anyone can oppose it whose objective is really to promote what is best for the blind.
back to contents
by Eleanor Harrison
(This is a portion of what Mrs. Harrison will tell Congress during the course of the Kennedy-Baring hearings.):
... In Minnesota we know from long experience how important an organization of the blind is, in assisting blind persons to achieve independence and self-support. At the present time our state organization has more than three hundred and fifty members, and we are constantly working to increase the number.
One of our biggest projects on the state level has been the establishment of a boarding home for the blind people. This home--located midway between Minneapolis and St. Paul--was first opened for occupancy on October 19, 1929. It can accommodate thirty-five people at any one time and has always been filled to capacity, often with a waiting list.
You may wonder why we undertook such a project. It is certainly not that we feel the blind are incapable of living in the regular community in private homes and apartments as others do. Quite the contrary. Our boarding home has been a major factor during the past thirty years in helping many blind persons to establish themselves as normal members of the community. It has been a factor in helping many of them to have homes of their own.
Let me explain. In the first place it is often easier for a blind person to find work in a city than in rural areas. As a result many of the blind from other parts of the state come to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area looking for a job. We have been able to provide temporary living quarters for such persons and often to help them find employment. In more than one case this service has undoubtedly been the difference between success and failure. The encouragement and moral support have been almost as important as the room and board.
There is still another reason why the home has been valuable. Many landlords, even today, will not rent to a blind tenant because they are afraid he might not be able to take care of himself or of their property, and blind persons sometimes have difficulty in locating living quarters. Here again our boarding home has filled the gap.
There is still another consideration. We operate the home as a non-profit enterprise and are thus able to provide room and board at far less than the going rate. To a blind person who has to try to get along on the meager allowance provided by public assistance grant this is very important. It is also important to the blind person who is just trying to start into business or who is still looking for a job. Again it can mean the difference between success and failure.
Also, our Home serves as headquarters and meeting place for our organization. In one way or another--directly or indirectly it has been helpful to almost every blind person in our state.
The home is not our only project, of course. We carry on a year around program of public education about blindness, and we are constantly working to stimulate the blind to greater efforts in their own behalf by providing them with information about what other blind people are doing throughout the country and by creating opportunities for the sharing of common problems and experiences. In this connection we print and circulate a Braille bulletin on a quarterly basis.
Without an independent organization of their own the blind of our state would be greatly disadvantanged. They would not be able effectively to help each other in solving common problems, and they would not be able to pool their energies and resources for their own self-improvement. We believe the blind of any state will be better off for having an organization such as ours. We also believe that the agencies doing work for the blind, in Minnesota and in other states, can do a better job if they consult with the blind about programs. To us it makes sense that the blind should know better than anyone else what their problems are. For these reasons we in Minnesota are supporting the legislation now before Congress protecting the right of the blind to organize and requiring that they be consulted about programs protecting them.
back to contents
by John F. Nagle
(This is a portion of the testimony which the President of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts will offer at the hearings on the Kennedy-Baring Bill.):
... From the very beginning we have been fortunate in having enlightened officials in charge of our state agency for the blind. Our present director of the division, John F. Mungovan, is a good example of what we think an administrator of programs for the blind ought to be. When he was appointed in 1951, the average public assistance grant to blind recipients in Massachusetts was about fifty-eight dollars a month. It is now approximately one hundred and thirteen dollars a month. There was no systematic program of rehabilitation for the blind. He organized and established such a program. Mr. Mungovan has worked very closely with the organized blind in planning and implementing policies and developing services. He has the respect and confidence of the great majority of the blind of the state.
This was demonstrated conclusively in 1953 when our Governor announced that another person would be appointed to take Mr. Mungovan's place as Director of the Division. It looked like politics to us. Mr. Mungovan had done an exceptionally good job, and the person who was to be appointed was totally inexperienced. The blind took immediate action. They held a mass meeting in Boston, and a delegation headed by Mr. Charles Little, who was at the time the state president of the organized blind, called on the Governor's Council to request that the appointment not be confirmed. Newspaper publicity was secured and letters and telegrams were sent to the Governor and other state officials. As a result, the other person withdrew his name, and Mr. Mungovan is still our director. If he had been a bad director, we would have fought just as hard to have him removed. Our object was, and is, to secure adequate services for the blind of Massachusetts.
In asking Congress to enact legislation to protect the right of the blind to organize and to insure that they be consulted about programs affecting them we are asking no more than we are entitled to as American citizens and as human beings. It is true that we in Massachusetts now have a good agency for the blind. It is true that we are consulted about programs affecting us and that we are not being intimidated or pressured. But it is also true that the personnel of our agency may someday change and that the blind of many other states are not so fortunate as we have been. Curtailment of the rights of any group of citizens is a curtailment of the rights of all of us and should be the concern of us all.
I should like to conclude my remarks by quoting to you the last few sentences of the address delivered by Mr. Mungovan when he appeared before our National Convention last year in New Orleans. He came to New Orleans to receive the Newell Perry Award for his outstanding service to the blind of our state and the nation. His words are, perhaps, a more eloquent appeal for the passage of our legislation than I could make, and they show how fully he has come to understand the hopes and dreams of the blind--to be accepted for what they are in society and to have the same opportunities as others. He said, "I think that agencies for the blind--despite the tremendous amount of dedication of people engaged in this work, and despite the fact that these people have worked untiringly to help the blind--have had difficulty in letting the blind people grow up and assume full stature. They tend to draw the line again, as they did fifty years ago, between a group of helping persons and those to be helped. I think, however, tonight as I feel what goes on in this convention and (in the last year or so) throughout the country, there is a feeling that one gets that the shackles are falling away and that generally this program of advancing the cause and the recognition and acceptance of the blind in this country is showing a decided change. So tonight in accepting this award I believe that, with you, I can look forward to a much brighter future in this second half of the twentieth century. A future that will be, I think, signalized by a common acceptance of blind people just as normal citizens of these United States."
back to contents
The cafeteria in the Kansas City (Mo.) Post Office has been operated for the past seven or eight years by four blind men, with the help of several partially-sighted and sighted employees. When the installation of this cafeteria was first being considered, the former Postmaster had requested that it be operated by blind persons. Since it has been in operation he has repeatedly stated that he was entirely happy with the way it was being run. The cafeteria operated on a 24-hour schedule and the four blind managers earned between $4,000 and $5,000 a year each.
But a new Postmaster took office near the end of 1957 and the happy arrangement between the blind and the Postmaster ended. The new Postmaster, a Mr. Hilleson, decreed that blind persons could not manage an establishment such as that cafeteria.
Soon after the first of the year a conference was held with Mr. Hilleson, representatives from the state vocational rehabilitation agency being present, in an effort to arrive at some satisfactory arrangement. The new Postmaster, however, insisted that blind people can not perform this job--in spite of the fact that they had been doing it quite satisfactorily for the past seven or eight years. The question of who was really in authority over the stand came up and Mr. Hilleson stated flatly that he was; that he had the final say in all things--firing, hiring, changing of prices, and all other details. He issued several edicts: (1) that a sighted manager be hired; (2) that a cash register be installed, of a type that can not be operated by a blind person; (3) that a different bookkeeping system be used and; (4) that all profit from the vending machines throughout the Post Office (which had been going to the stand operators) should be turned over to a Post Office employees's welfare fund. This profit amounted to from $4,000 to $5,000 a year. Hiring a sighted manager and four sighted cashiers would increase the overhead tremendously and the blind operators would become figure-heads. Apparently Mr. Hilleson believes that, because the blind operators do not do things in exactly the same way that sighted persons would do them, the methods used by the blind operators are necessarily less efficient. The representatives of the state agency were able to persuade Mr. Hilleson to permit a three-month trial period, during which time a sighted employee of the agency would act as temporary manager. The four sighted cashiers have been hired but the vending stand profits have not yet been taken away from the blind operators. As the end of the three-month period approached, it became evident that Mr. Hilleson had not changed his mind.
Although it is true that, under the provisions of the Randolph-Sheppard Act, a Postmaster does have the final word, Mr. Hilleson's own status has not yet been confirmed. He is still only the Acting Postmaster. Both the Missouri Federation and the National Federation are appealing to the Postmaster General and to the Senators and Congressmen from Missouri to intervene. It may be surprising to some to learn that this activity on the part of the organized blind is in the interest of four blind persons who are not themselves members of any organization. Neither the state nor the national organization gives any thought to such a detail when the welfare of blind people anywhere is being threatened.
David Krause wrote to the Postmaster General in part as follows:"... I think that when you know the facts, sir, you will agree with me that these blind persons and their families cannot be allowed to be sacrificed to satisfy the arbitrary whim of the newly appointed Acting Postmaster of Kansas City. At a time when President Eisenhower is urging all-out cooperation for his program of employment of the physically handicapped, a development of this nature cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. Congress when it adopted the original Randolph-Sheppard law and its subsequent amendments made it clear that it intended for blind persons to have the right to earn a livelihood in these stands and cafeterias in Federal buildings...."
back to contents
by Stanhope Pier
(Ed. Note--Mr. Pier is the Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Oregon Council of the Blind and also its Corresponding Secretary.)
The first experiment of the Oregon Council of the Blind with other than regular meetings of chapters, Executive Board, or annual convention was the Spring Seminar held March 15 in Portland. Some 70 members, regular and associate, and friends attended the all-day session, winding up with the dinner and a notable talk by our friend, Kenneth Jernigan.
For reasons of economy, in both time and expense, the meeting was held the same day as the March meeting of the Executive Board, The idea was to include all officers and standing committees of the Council, chapter presidents, officers and all interested in the promotion of our cause and the problems hampering our progress. The purpose was a discussion of problems, individual and organizational. It was thought a good idea to try out a joint session with the Executive Board, taking up and settling matters of business as required, thus permitting the general membership to get an idea of how the Board functions and to participate in the discussion of a problem or two. The outstanding feature of the event was the presence of Kenneth Jernigan, now, starting April 12, Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. He led discussions, asked questions, answered some, being generally informative, and stimulating considerable thinking. Everybody likes Ken.
Yes, we made some "busts." While business was accomplished by the Board, most agree it will be better to hold separate sessions. Many felt that too much was attempted in one day. We should have a more limited agenda next time or expand it to a day and a half or two days....
back to contents
Those who wish notices or other material to appear in the Braille Monitor should keep in mind that my deadline is the 15th of the month preceding each issue. Address George Card, Box 345, Madison 1, Wis.
The following notice has been received from the Secretary of the NDAB: "The North Dakota Association of the Blind, Inc., will hold its annual convention in the Avenue Room of the Graver Hotel, Fargo, North Dakota, June 21 and 22. Registration and banquet ticket sales will be taken care of in the Cape Cod Room of the Graver Hotel on Friday evening, June 20. This is also our headquarters room. The convention will open at 9:30 Sat. morning. We hope to have a National speaker at the afternoon session. There will be a banquet followed by entertainment in the evening. There will be a forenoon and afternoon session on Sunday. Members from other states are cordially invited to attend."
Good news from South Carolina--Donald Capps proudly announces the formation of the fourth chapter of the South Carolina Aurora Clubs. The new chapter is in Greenville, third largest city in the state, and its temporary president is Mr. W. H. Patterson, 503 Darlington Ave. The three original chapters are in Columbia, Charleston and Spartanburg.
An account of the recent convention of the Lone Star Federation, held in Houston, March 22 and 23, was received from Mrs. Curtice Veach, of Dallas, too late for our May issue. The Monitor is now informed that Lon Alsup, head of the state agency, stated that he recognized the organization and would co-operate in the future. It was also announced that a charter for a credit union had been granted. Durward McDaniel, of Okla., spoke on the operation of a credit union. The organization voted to contribute a sum of money (amount not specified) to the Monitor. In addition to the re-election of its president, Marcus Roberson, the following list of officers was chosen: R. J. Holder, First Vice-President; Curtice Veach, Second Vice-President; Bowie Taylor, Third Vice-President; Charles Garett, Corresponding Secretary; David Ronicer, Recording Secretary; Wayne Carmichael, Treasurer; Floyd Barney, Assistant Treasurer and Kathryn Boland, Sergeant of Arms.
Gregory B. Khachadoorian, prominent member of the Boston chapter of our Massachusetts affiliate, has been elected as a voting delegate to the state convention of his political party. He will run for the legislature this coming fall. Incidentally, he is to be the chairman of the national convention outing on July 6.
The Illinois Newsletter announces that Mr. Charles Ritter, of the American Foundation for the Blind, will be on hand during the annual convention of the Illinois Federation, which will be held in Jacksonville next October. He will demonstrate the newest gadgets and appliances useful to the blind.
At its annual convention in March, our Texas affiliate adopted a number of excellent resolutions. Resolution 4 is not the most important of these but its subject matter is applicable in so many states that it is reproduced here: "Whereas, the State Commission of the Blind requires all stand operators to file a monthly account or report which is complicated, volumimous and unnecessarily lengthy; and. Whereas, the preparation of said report consumes many hours of labor and often necessitates the services of a bookkeeper or accountant, reader or assistant; and, Whereas, much of the data and information contained in said report would not be of any benefit to any person, agency or commission; Now Therefore Be It Resolved... that said monthly report should be simplified so as not to overburden and be an expense to the stand operator...."
A Kansan writes: "I consider the Federation the most democratically run organization I have ever known. Expressions from persons in the lowest and the highest positions are encouraged and if one voice votes against a measure, the roll call of states is taken...."
Mr. and Mrs. John Nagle will live at 34 Myrtle St., Springfield, Mass., after their marriage on May 31.
On April 19 the Executive Council of the North Carolina Federation of the Blind unanimously accepted a new affiliate, the Guildford Federation of the Blind, Mr. Brady Jones, of Greensboro, is the president of this new chapter.
On May 2nd the Potomac Federation of the Blind became the third chapter to be formed in Virginia. It will welcome members from both sides of the Potomac River. Mr. Paul Kirton who helped to organize this chapter, planned to go on to Roanoke and Staunton, to investigate prospects for additional chapters in those cities. It is hoped that a convention of prospective chapters in a Virginia statewide organiziation can be held early in June and that affiliation with the National Federation of the Blind can be completed in time; so that Virginia can send a delegate to Boston and become the 45th NFB affiliate.
On Oct. 18 Dr. tenBroek will be the banquet speaker at the annual convention of the New Jersey Council of Organizations of the Blind--which will be the first convention this group has held since becoming an NFB affiliate. On the same evening John Taylor will make the banquet address in Rochester, N.Y., where the Empire State Association of the Blind will be conducting its third annual convention.
Frank Lugiano, President of the Pa. Federation of the Blind, was the principal speaker at the first meeting of a brand-new chapter--The Lehigh Valley Federation of the Blind. The Meeting took place at Bethlehem, Pa.,and Mr. Jack Schumacher, 2427 Lennox Ave., Wilson, Pa., was elected as the first president of the new organization.
On March 3rd Mr. William Ziegler, Jr., son of Mrs. E. Mathilda Ziegler, passed away after a lingering illness. Mr. Ziegler was the President of the American Foundation for the Blind, The American Foundation for Overseas Blind, The E. Mathilda Ziegler Foundation and the Mathilda Ziegler Publishing Company. He was either the President, Chairman of the Board or a Director of many substantial business enterprises. In addition to his fame as a philanthropist and as a business executive, Mr. Ziegler was a prominent figure in the sports world, being a yachtsman, a dog fancier and the owner of a great racing stable.
In his testimony before the Senate Constitutional Rights Subcommittee on April 16 Martin Agronsky, famous radio comnnentator said, in support of S. 92I: "... The reason I support this amendnnent is that I feel the record makes clear that government agencies by their interpretation of the original statute have followed a course of action which has often resulted in the misuse and abuse of the authority to withhold from the public and the Congress information concerning administrative actions... " Mr. Irving Ferman, Washington Director of American Civil Liberties Union, said: "... that the dennocratic process in this growingly complex age of ours demands more and more government disclosure of information if we are to effectuate an intelligent and responsive citizen participation...."
From the I. A. B. Bulletin: "Governor Loveless has accepted an invitation to speak at the annual convention on June 6.... The award of 'Rotary Citizen of the Year' was bestowed on Mrs. Ethel Latham at a meeting last December in Sioux City, Iowa..., During her employment with the Good Will Industries she has taught 75 blind people to read Braille and seven to operate the Braille telephone switchboard.... There have been two additions to the staff of the Cedar Rapids office of the Commission since our last report. Mr. Robert Rucker... will be a rehabilitation consultant for this district. Mrs. Ruth Pirtle, who is a member of our Association, was appointed Home Teacher for the Cedar Rapids district.... The Advisory Comnnittee held its mid-winter meeting at the School in Vinton February 25th. With Commision representatives now attending the meetings it is possible for the Committee to function more fully and to coordinate plans for the advancement of work for the blind in the state."
The average aid to the blind payment in the United States in 1957 was $65.98. The total nunnber of recipients was 108,000. 47.8 percent of the money came from federal funds and 62.2 percent came from state and local funds. The median age of recipients was 63. The average period during which assistance is paid, six and one-half years.
From the Visually Handicapped Views, Agnes Zachte, Editor: "The blind of South Dakota must be something of an enigma to the rest of the nation, especially so when the papers carry items about their hunting licenses.... I've noticed recently an article about Mel Ray Hoag of Camp Crook, South Dakota, in which he and his wife explain how he hunts deer.... Hunting is a fairly popular sport with the blind of South Dakota. Dean Sumner and Vernon Williams are two that I know join Mr. Hoag in his love of hunting.... Gus was indeed an ardent hunter and fisherman. A year ago Gus went hunting with some of Howard's friends near Pierre.... They... reported the number of geese that Gus had shot down. If they reported truly, Gus shot his limit and one over."
From the Missouri Federation Monthly Report: "Four candy sales were held during the past month by local chapters, including one by the new Ozark chapter.... At the April business meeting seven members of R. I. T. E. signed the application for a Missouri Federation Credit Union Charter. The charter arrived a week or two later. Some time during the present month a meeting will be held to elect credit union officers and enroll members. Our credit union will then be under way in real earnest. I hope the local chapters of the M. F. B. will study the printed matter sent to them on this subject and take real, personal interest in the growth of our new venture."
Heretofore it has not been thought possible to use bifocal contact lenses because the little plastic disk, in its bath of tears, revolves slowly and bifocals have always been made with the distance area occupying one segment and the reading area the remainder. Recently a contact lens was devised with the distance area in the center and the reading area on the periphery. Experimental use has been successful.
Last night I again listened to some of Jimmy Sletten's newest foreign tapes. One was from a 26-year old blind teacher in the British public school system. He is Michael Lloyd and he teaches the primary grades in a school for normally sighted children. He had recently visited Moscow and investigated the situation of the blind. This is one of the first authentic reports that I know of. Mr. LLoyd said there was apparently full employment of the blind of working age. He visited one factory where small transformers were produced and found both blind and sighted workmen. He said it was a real factory, with none of the stultifying atmosphere of a sheltered workshop. The superintendent was a blind man. He also visited the Moscow residential school for the blind and reported it as excellent, but was told that other residential schools in Russia were not as good as this one. He found a number of blind people in the professions--law, teaching, physiotherapy, etc. He was told that there is a strong organization of the blind in Russia but was unable to verify this.
Another tape was from a blind correspondent in West Berlin, who described a recent contest in which both sighted and blind shorthand typists participated. Of the twenty blind who entered, seven finished in the top twenty. He himself had scored 280 syllables per minute--which is pretty terrific. Berlin, like London, has a business college for the blind, where advanced training in shorthand typing is available, along with typing and other commercial courses. I am at a loss to understand why the wonderful shorthand machine, which provides a good livelihood for so many European blind, continues to be ignored in this country.
Mrs. Charles Ritter, formerly of New York City, has been appointed as Home Teacher for Southwestern Wisconsin and has taken up her residence in Madison. She was formerly a Home Teacher in Maine.
It is estimated that more people became blind in 1957 than in any previous year--27,000. This brings the estimated total blind population of the U. S. to 334,000. Medical experts declare that about a million Americans have glaucoma and half of these are totally unaware of their condition. Anyone over forty should have a competent eye examination at least every two years.
Despite the fact that he was compelled to have his right leg amputated above the knee a few weeks ago, John Kostuck, blind Assembly-man, will again campaign this Fall for re-election. John is the dean of the Wisconsin Legislature, having already served 14 consecutive terms. He has sponsored many bills for the Wisconsin Council of the Blind.
It has just been announced that Adrian DeBlaey, of Janesville, Wisconsin, has been appointed as a Home Teacher in Northwest Wisconsin, with headquarters at Ashland. He succeeds the beloved Doris Baer, who was forced to retire last year because of ill health. Adrian has taught for the past two years in the Maryland School for the Blind and during the past five years at the Adult Summer School sponsored by the Montana Association for the Blind.
back to top