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.
Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010
with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
MAY ISSUE -- 1958
House Hearings on "Right to Organize" Bills Now Seem Imminent .
$20 for a Human Life
Important Social Security Announcement
"Greatest Event of the Week or the Year"
Right to Know is a Basic Right
Blind Instructors in Cane Travel
Florida State Agency Criticized by Legislator
"Pooling of Ignorance" and "The Whole Person"
Florida Agency Evades a Showdown
Gleanings from the "Independent Forum"
Nuggets from "The Oregon Council Bulletin"
The Drooling Eye
JUST HOW BAD ARE THE LIBRARIES FOR THE BLIND?
by H. G. Burns
Help for Blind College Students
Reader Reactions to "Flight of an Arrow"
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PARENTS OF BLIND CHILDREN
by Robert Rottman
Another State Publication
by Alma Murphey
Clearing House for Job Information
A Long Backward Step
Three More New Orleans Resolutions
Here and There
Reports from Washington indicate that Congressman Elliott's Sub-committee will open hearings on the Baring bill, H. R. 8609 (and the 52 identical bills filed by co-sponsoring Congressmen), as soon as it has completed work on the science and education bill which it is now developing. Hearings on that bill have been finished. The Committee is in executive session to hammer out the provisions of the bill. If all goes smoothly it will be ready to report to the House very early in May and our hearings will be next on the agenda. If all does not go smoothly, then of course the scheduling is off. The earliest date at which hearings would be possible by present calculations would be the first week in May, but that is not the likeliest date. Likely or not, we are preparing in the light of the possibility that hearings will be that early. Many Federation leaders have been alerted to come to Washington on possibly only a few hours' notice.
As indicated above, the total number of identical House bills has now reached a total of 52, the co-sponsoring Congressmen representing 26 states. Those who have joined this group since our last report are: Edward H. Rees, Kansas, H. R. 11565; A. D. Baumhart, Jr., Ohio, H.R. 11617; H. R. Gross, Iowa, H. R. 11623; Henry S. Reuss, Wisconsin, H. R. 11644; Alvin M. Bentley, Mich., H.R. 11687; James G. Fulton, Pa., H.R. 11711; George W. Andrews, Ala., H.R. 11771; Mrs. Elizabeth Kee, W. Va., H.R. 11804; Frank W. Boykin, Ala., H.R. 11841; Vincent J. Dellay, N. J. , H.R. 11903 and Howard H. Baker, Tenn. H.R. 11931.
With the addition of Congresswoman Mrs. Elizabeth Kee, every member of the W. Va. delegation has now become a co-sponsor. Much of the credit for this remarkable achievement must go to the tireless Victor Gonzalez, of Anmoore, W. Va. He has written to all of his state's representatives—not once, but continuously. His letters could well serve as models for the rest of us who have not fully measured up to our responsibilities. Here is a sample and it might well be referred to when you write letters to Senator Lister Hill and the members of the Senate Education and Welfare Committee, urging that Senate hearings be scheduled for S-2411:
"Dear Congressman; What the Wagner Act meant to organized labor, what the Bill of Rights is supposed to mean to all of us, H. R. 11522 has the same meaning to the blind. It is no wonder then that we, the blind, are constantly contacting our members in Congress first, to introduce bills like yours and now in an effort to obtain hearings on the large number of bills already introduced.
"We, the blind, want and are willing to take our rightful place in society; but so long as some of our members must turn to state agencies for assistance and these same agencies not willing to give aid to the blind who join organizations of the blind you can now visualize our conditions.
"A sound economy, by putting an end to the present recession, a strong demand for labor, and the enactment of H. R. 11522 during this session of Congress is a must if we the blind are to enjoy our constitutional liberties.
"To introduce a bill is one thing; to have it enacted into law is another. Anything that you can do and will do for us in an effort to get your bill out of Committee will be deeply appreciated by the blind of our great nation. Respectfully yours, Victor Gonzalez."
Here is a fine statement filed by Senator Richard Neuberger, of Oregon:
"No one can deny that the blind--as well as any other group of citizens--should have the right to organize freely and to speak for themselves. In law and in theory, the blind do have this freedom now. But in practice, all too often they do not. The National Federation of the Blind feels very strongly that often they are denied the right to organize and to be heard. Through their national organization, which now covers 43 States, and through similar organizations, the blind have associated to promote their own viewpoints in dealing with the many professional and governmental agencies which are responsible for programs on behalf of the blind. Among our blind citizens there is wide-spread feeling that professional social workers and officials in the State and Federal agencies for the blind operate on a papa-knows-best basis. Efforts of the organizations of the blind to help formulate and carry out policy are often rebuffed, and efforts have even been made to punish those who participate in these organizations. The AFL-CIO recognized the need for official sanction for the right of the blind to organize, when, at its recent convention in Atlantic City, it endorsed S. 2411....
"The difficulties encountered by organizations of the blind have persisted for so long that it is not reasonable to hope that the problem will cure itself. Therefore, I urge the Senate to join in supporting this proposed legislation, so as to assure that the blind will have the right to associate and to speak for themselves."
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That doesn't seem very much, does it? On Jan. 27 of this year, Walter Holtz, blind, of Milwaukee, was run down and killed while carrying a white cane in the prescribed position. The motorist, a recent immigrant, declared he had never heard of the White Cane Traffic Law. Last week Judge Gregorski heard the case in his traffic court and dismissed the charge of violation of this law. Judge Gregorski (whose rank is equivalent to that of a justice of the peace) stated that, in his opinion, the law was unwise and unrealistic. He said it ought to be repealed and that there should be a law forbidding blind persons to travel without a sighted escort. When questioned later by a reporter for The Milwaukee Sentinel, he modified this last somewhat by claiming that he had meant "at night." He fined the defendant $20 on a second charge--inattentive driving!
We seem to have here a situation in which a minor court magistrate takes it upon himself to declare a state law inoperative because he personally disapproves of it. Not being a court of record, the little judge's pronouncement carries no weight as a legal precedent but it made a front page story.
Last year the New York legislature passed a white cane traffic law for the fourth time. Governor Dewey had vetoed it the first three times because of the vehement opposition of the New York Commission for the Blind and of certain large agencies. Mr. Ernest Tiffany, chairman of the state-wide Lions Clubs Committee on Blind Welfare, determined that this should not happen again, sent a questionnaire to every mayor, police chief and traffic commissioner of every American city of more than 100,000 population, asking how the white cane traffic law had worked in their areas. About 75 per cent replied and every single one registered enthusiastic approval--many of them saying they would regard the repeal of the existing law as a tragic mistake. Mr. Tiffany bound these replies into a thick volume and submitted it to Governor Averil Harriman. The Governor studied this evidence and signed the bill into law. The Badger Association of the Blind and the Wisconsin Council of the Blind are jointly sponsoring an appeal of the Gregorski decision to the circuit court.
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Between now and June 30th, each local meeting of the National Federation of the Blind should consider the following announcement. It is of particular concern to newly blinded individuals who may be eligible to take advantage of the disability freeze or disability benefits provisions of the Social Security Act. A vigorous effort should be made to acquaint such people with the importance of contacting the local Social Security Office to determine their rights under these provisions.
"People without sight are reminded that June 30, 1958, is the last date on which they can take full advantage of a special provision written into the social security law for blind people. This special provision has to do with the disability insurance protection provided by the law. It says that totally blind people can make application to have their social security records frozen even if they are able to work. When a person's social security record is frozen, the periods in which he has no earnings or in which his earnings have been cut down because of his disability are not counted against him when the time comes to figure the amount of social security benefits due him or to his family. If a blind person does not take advantage of this freeze by filing an application on or before June 30, his rights to future social security benefits will be cut down. In some cases his rights might be wiped out altogether. When a totally blind person has worked under social security for five years out of a ten year period and for one and one half years out of the last three years of this ten year period he is eligible to file application to freeze his social security account.
"If a person disabled by blindness or some other cause has reached his 50th birthday, he may be entitled to monthly social security checks. But these checks can be paid to him only if his disability keeps him from doing any kind of substantial work."
(Ed. Note--At the National Workshop Conference, from which I have just returned, I was informed that 66 per cent of all applications by blind persons for Disability Insurance have been rejected to date.)
According to Mr. Herbert Borgen, the Disability Standards Division of the Social Security Administration, "any substantial gainful activity" is generally interpreted to mean earning less than $1,200 per year with little regard to the number of hours required.
John Taylor writes: "In the case of sheltered shop employees a lower figure has generally been applied on the ground that such employees were in training and that approximately two-thirds of them do not remain in sheltered employment. A lower figure has also generally been applied to vending stand operators on the ground that they were independent businessmen subject to the normal business fluctuations. When I pointed out that most vending stand operators function in a controlled system and that many of them actually earn less than they receive because of the guaranteed minimum return, Borgen thought that documentation of these facts could result in a substantial change in the Division's policies. The difference between earned income and the guaranteed minimum return for stand operators should be regarded as a gratuity and not subject to consideration in determining "any substantial gainful activity. " If we can establish this principle for vending stand operators, the next step should be to broaden its coverage to include sheltered employment which is also subsidized. It may also be possible to secure more uniform adherence to the so-called work rule of $1,200 per year.")
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(We were all quite anxious, during the recent torrential rain-fall in Northern California, about the safety and welfare of our president and his family. I have just received a report and the following is excerpted from it.):
"Dear George:... The facts... were quite exciting for a time. What happened was this. We were awakened shortly after mid- night on April 1st. It turned out not to be any April fools joke at all. A torrent of water filled with mud, rocks, small boulders, bushes, plants and other landscape fixtures, were steadily pounding against our house making its way down our stairs through the front yard and into the street. Meanwhile, inches of rain were falling from the skies. The water and mud was spurting under the doors and down the stairs, leaking through the floors below.
"A call to the Street Department elicited the response that all men and trucks were out. A call to the Fire Department presently brought a crew of firemen and policemen. Since they could not make their way up the outside stairs against the current, they entered the house over the office roof and through the window in the first level. This greatly amused Hazel, since entrance had to be made through a small cathedral-type window, accomplished not always gracefully by large men booted and clad against the weather. They proceeded up through the four levels of the house emerging at the back to climb further up the hill, in order to find the source of the torrent. After a while they returned defeated. I sent them back up with the explanation that undoubtedly what had happened was that a catch basin behind our property had become clogged and a large city conduit, which drains the neighboring hillside, was overflowing on top of us. They returned and when the water did not stop, I followed them. Since in the dark they still could not find the trouble, I led the way along the hillside to the place where the conduit should have been going under ground, jumped in and began throwing out the rocks that were clogging the drain. Seeing this, one of the firemen jumped in with me and presently we had the water going under ground.
"Meanwhile, Dutch, now age thirteen, was running around in a great state of excitement. At one point I admonished him to be calm. He replied, 'This is the greatest event of the week or the year, and you want me to be calm yet. I am going to enjoy this to the full.'
"Some damage was done to our foundation. Eighteen inches of mud piled up against one part of the house and the stairs looked like they had been sandblasted. A lot of top soil was washed away and the yard virtually ruined. There is virtually nothing left of the big lawn which Darlene enjoyed cutting last year. There we will have to start from scratch.
"The water coursed down the hill washing into houses and garages for two blocks down the street. When one of our neighbors, 2/10 of a mile away, rose to see her swimming pool flooded with mud and one of Dutch's old shoes projecting from the top of it, all she could think of was 'My, I hope nobody is attached to that shoe underneath.'
"The rains continued for days and the water broke out once more, but this time was brought quickly under control."
"When you run out of Federation and Monitor work, come by and help us re-build our hillside.--Chick."
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On April 5 a testimonial banquet was tendered to Ken Jernigan in celebration of the occasion of his appointment to be Director of the Commission for the Blind in Iowa. It was held at the Shattuck Hotel, Berkeley, California. The rains which had brought such phenomenal amounts of water were just coming to an end, but had not yet stopped. Notwithstanding, upwards of one hundred people were present from all parts of the state.
Speeches were given by Dr. Perry, Bob Campbell, Al Jenkins, Russ Kletzing and Dr. tenBroek, in addition to a number of Ken's students and former students at the Orientation Center. Grateful expression was given for Ken's dynamic and effective contributions to the cause of the blind during the last decade as a leader of the National Federation of the Blind, as a driving force in local organizations of the blind and as a teacher at the Orientation Center for the Blind. Everybody wished him well in his new appointment, but expressed profound regret that he should have to leave this community.
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(Editorial from the Goldsboro, N.C. News-Argus, March 9): "The average Tar Heel won a battle in Wake Superior Court a few days ago. Mr. Tar Heel didn't know it, but his right to know what goes on in his government and its agencies was upheld.)
"Suit of the N.C. Federation of the Blind to open records of minutes of the Blind Commission to public examination was ready to be tried. This action had been filed many months before. The Federation, made up largely of blind persons, sought a right guaranteed to all citizens under the law, the right to see the record.
"In its often rebuffed petition for opening of the minutes, the Federation repeatedly emphasized that it did not ask for names of individuals or persons or cases involving funds to cases. The Federation at no time and in no instance sought personal or individual case data. It so stated by word and by letter and by petition.
"Just before the trial of the action, postponed many times, was about to be called in Wake Superior Court, Assistant Attorney General Claude Love, representing Henry Wood, Commissioner of the Blind, and the Blind Commission, agreed to what the Federation had sought from the outset. The Commission should provide the Federation with a transcript of the minutes of meetings for the past three years. Mr. Love was to delete all information as to allocations to individual clients.
"The case is another example of withholding legitimate information from the public. In forcing the Federation to take court action, the Commission for the Blind assumed a position in no way justified by the facts or the situation.
"Apparently Mr. Wood resents efforts of the blind people, through their own Federation, to speak for themselves.
"But the principle involved is not confined to the particular case. It has implications of far-reaching significance. If state boards or agencies can transact their proceedings without benefit of publicity, if they can deny the public the right to know what they do, freedom suffers a serious blow. The right of the people to know is precious, and the Federation of the Blind has reasserted that right in forcing the Commission to open its records on policy.
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Excerpts from a letter written to Stanhope Pier, of Oregon): "You were quoted at the last meeting of the Multnomah County Chapter of the Oregon Council of the Blind as favoring travel instruction of the blind by instructors who are themselves blind. As a newly blinded member of the Council, I would like to give you some of my reasons for being in full accord with your stand. I am now undergoing travel instruction by one of your home teachers....
"She began my travel instruction last spring and would have done it before if I had been able to overcome the reluctance I had to use a white cane, symbol of the blindness I was not yet ready to admit. She gave me incentive, encouragement and training in the practical use of a cane to give me the same help it gives her. She showed me how currents of air and slopes in the sidewalk or street can tell me where I am, how to watch for guideposts that can tell a blind person where to turn in to a residence or building, how to get on and off a bus, the pitfalls that might get me off the track and literally hundreds of things that have made me enjoy walking with a cane and going places independently.
"I fail to see how a sighted instructor, no matter how well trained (even blindfolded) could have given me the same kind of help unless he had been through the experience of actual blindness himself. With a blind instructor you have the feeling--if she can do it, so can I. You are ashamed of not trying your best.... Sincerely yours, Mary Ellen Hartford."
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(From the Tampa Sunday Tribune, March 2, 1958): "Rep. Charles Usina of St. Augustine today charged the Florida Council for the Blind with failing to care 'adequately for sightless persons in Florida.' Usina made the charge before the Legislative Interim Committee on Welfare. He primarily directed his remarks to Douglas Smith of Tampa, South Florida Supervisor for the Council for the Blind, who had been called before the committee for comments and interrogation. Smith, who was unable to answer a question as to how many of Florida's blind are employed, said drivers would have to be hired to chauffeur blind persons around if they were hired as counselors by the Council for the Blind. Hiring drivers would be an added salary expense: he said. Usina inquired of Smith: 'Why aren't more blind people in their own program (Florida Council for the Blind).' Usina pointed out there are 'lots of things a blind person can do besides drive a car.'
"One member of the blind delegation attending the meeting arose at this point to cite cases of three blind men who are successful salesmen in Dade County—conducting their business without having to drive a car. 'Blind people have ways of surmounting their problems,' he told Smith.
"Larry Thompson, blind Tampan, (former head of the Florida Federation of the Blind) said the problem relating to employment of the blind by the Council or private industry is not one of ability to drive a car. The main concern, he explained, is, 'Can they do the job? ' He directed this question to Smith: 'How can people in industry give jobs to the blind when the people in rehabilitation give the impression they can't do a job? ' ... "
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The Braille Monitor has no intention, at this time, of entering into the controversy as to whether blind children should be "integrated" into public schools, where teaching techniques and materials are, in the main, visually oriented. Whether or not we approve, however, there can be no question but that there is an increasing amount of such "integration." Much of the American Foundation-inspired propaganda in favor of this movement seems to me to be based on assumptions which are very far from being proved. From my own personal observations during the past twenty-seven years, I fail to detect in those who have had a public school education any outstanding superiority in "readiness" to function effectively in a sighted world.
In a refreshingly candid, realistic and lucid article, appearing in the March issue of the New Outlook for the Blind, Mr. Robert R. Rottman, a resource teacher in California, who can speak from first-hand experience, discusses certain aspects of this problem.
"A position of equality, based on achievement," he writes, "has not yet been generally accorded to the blind adult in the sighted world of yesterday and today. Attitudes toward the blind have ranged from disgust to pity, to open-mouthed wonder, but only rarely has there been acceptance of them as competent, responsible fellow-citizens.... Few acknowledge the ability, much less the responsibility, of the blind adult to provide for himself. Few allow him this opportunity when it is within their power to do so, as is the case with the employer.... It is hardly necessary to picture the results such 'charitable' discrimination on the part of sighted persons tends to produce in the self-concept and the behavior of blind adults.
"It is equally needless to suggest the even more destructive effect the attitudes cited above could have on the developing personality of the blind child if they prevailed in his school community. Fortunately this danger is recognized by advocates of the integrated program and much attention is given, in setting up such a program, to the 'climate' of the school where it is to be instituted. A favorable environment-- the acceptance of blind children on a participating basis by administrative and teaching staff and by sighted children--is considered a pre-requisite for the success of the plan.
"A completely favorable environment from the very beginning is a little too much to expect from any school, however. Most administrators, most teachers, and most sighted children have had no direct contact with blind children or blind adults prior to the admission of blind pupils to the school.... This may cause most administrators to define for the blind child a role different from full participation on a basis of equality. They may want to 'protect' him from physical injury by barring him from playground activities and equipment....
"The modification of long-standing attitudes is not a simple task. The achievement of the 'right' atmosphere is likewise more easily recommended than defined, more easily defined than accomplished. Yet the right atmosphere must be present if the integrated program is to achieve its ultimate purpose, which is not the mere joint occupation of a building by blind and sighted children, but the provision for blind children of a successful educational and social experience in an accepting seeing group, in order that these blind children may gain confidence and competence to enter the world of seeing adults on a basis of equality, even though their full participation may not at first be either expected or readily accepted.
"What attitude is it then which must prevail in a school where blind children attend? Is there any one attitude which staff members can strive to attain, and which the special teacher can aid and encourage them to attain, which will allow the blind children participation on a basis of equality, yet neither neglect nor unduly emphasize their special needs?" Mr. Rottman suggests "matter of factness" as a name for the most desirable attitude. "This term," he says, "implies several things. It implies first that the right of the blind child to be in the school is not questioned. His enrollment is not regarded as experi-mental, conditional, or the result of conscious altruism. If anything, administrators and teachers should ask themselves 'why shouldn't blind children enroll here?' rather than 'why should they?' ... Teaching adapted to individual needs is a natural outgrowth of the acceptance of all children to be taught. Matter-of-factness implies that the entrance of a blind child into a class does not cause a noticeable ripple in the stream of classroom activities. The teacher does not make a special announcement to the class, informing them of Johnny's blindness and exhorting them to 'help him all you can.' ... Instead, questions about Johnny's inability to see or the special materials he uses should be answered, often by Johnny himself, as they come up. Such questions on the part of children are natural and can be answered in such a way that blindness will become a mildly interesting, but hardly a puzzling or pitiable phenomenon. Johnny, in his participation in classroom activities, will soon show what he can and can't do without assistance, and only after assistance has been clearly demonstrated to be needed should it be given, and then without a great to-do about it on the part of teacher or Johnny himself. By the same token, Johnny's ability to do things for himself should not be eulogized or watched with wonder, but taken as an expected matter of course....
"Although the resource teacher does teach the blind child certain tool subjects, such as beginning Braille (reading and writing), and beginning number work, and does assist where there are special difficulties, such as traveling alone, she should not be called upon to handle discipline problems in the classroom nor to assume other responsibilities normally assumed by the regular teacher in the case of sighted children. Matter-of-factness means that the regular classroom teacher takes as a matter of course a range of behavior differences in the class as a whole, including the blind child, rather than singling out the blind child for special attention or ignoring unacceptable behavior or failure to meet academic standards because he is blind. He is one of her pupils and she should consult the resource teacher--as she would consult the nurse about a health problem or the psychologist about a problem of emotional disturbance--only about problems clearly arising out of his blindness.
"On the part of the resource teacher, matter-of-factness is perhaps the greatest builder of confidence in the blind child, who cannot help but notice his difference and wonder about it.... A resource teacher who does not maintain an attitude of naturalness, of understanding, but somewhat business-like helpfulness, may destroy some of the good done by the existence of the resource room by subtly or not-so-subtly letting the child know that he is, after all, a special problem, a child who is vastly different from other children and who, consequently, occupies a peculiar position in the school and cannot consider himself on a par with the others. It is not the denial of difference that is needed, but the denial that difference prohibits participation on a basis of equality and equal status in the group. A resource teacher who seems to concentrate on getting things done, with the subtle implication that doing things is a completely natural thing for a blind child, helps in establishing firmly in the mind of the child this latter denial and also in the minds of the teachers and the children who are not blind. The resource teacher's matter-of-factness can help counteract the tendency on the part of other staff members to regard the blind child's success on the playground or in the classroom as something marvellous in itself, or something wrought by the magic of a gifted specialist.
"The administration manifests its matter-of-factness by its 'calculated negligence'--that is, by failing to prescribe protective rules and restrictions for the blind child in the school. Blind children are not forbidden to use playground equipment, do not have their lunches brought to them, are not exempted from staying after school, are not granted special transportation facilities unless they live far away from the school, and, in general, are not 'legislated' for or against within the school. Likewise, the resource teacher is not expected to do either more or less than the other staff members beyond her regular teaching duties."
Mr. Rottman asks, "Can there really be a wholesale forgetting of stereotypes about blindness within the school, and a cessation of pity, wonder, and the urge to shelter and protect?... The answer to this depends to a great extent on the resource teacher, who is looked upon by the school personnel as an 'expert' in the field of blindness, and from whom both administrators and other teachers tend to take their cues in the treatment of blind pupils.... His matter-of-fact-ness, as manifested in an obviously sincere belief in the right and ability of blind children to function in the regular classrooms, and in an air of getting down to business, 'with no nonsense,' can set the tone of acceptance from the beginning. His calm conviction about the needlessness of special rules, when and if the subject comes up, can do a lot toward preventing them from being established. His obvious assumption that the blind child 'belongs' to the regular room and is the responsibility of the regular teacher, rather than a visitor from the resource room, brings home to the regular teacher that this is indeed the case. If the resource teacher can communicate his living conviction that the full participation of a blind child in the activities--academic, recreational and social--is the most natural thing in the world, and that this is the meaning of integration--if he can communicate this in his dealings with administration, regular teachers, other members of the staff and other children, then," concludes Mr. Rottman, "the purpose of the integrated program stands a chance of being realized."
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Another article in the March issue of the New Outlook contains much of interest. It is called "Rehabilitation Centers--An Analysis," and was written by Mr. Nathan Nelson, Physical Restoration Consultant in the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, California State Department of Education. In discussing the present costs of rehabilitation centers, and how such costs could be reduced, Mr. Nelson has this to say:
"It is estimated that from 45 to 50 per cent of center costs arise from payments for professional services. If costs are to be curtailed, it must be done by more efficient use of personnel. But current rehabilitation center thinking supports the use of more personnel. The rehabilitation team grows ever larger.
"Another factor that increases costs is the tendency of the centers to use the team to repeat diagnostic procedures previously done by others.
"I think the time has come to take a second look at the rehabilitation team. Everyone will agree that co-operation between professional persons handling the same client is essential. But do we have to do it by time-consuming staffings with everyone remotely related to the problem at hand, listening to lengthy dissertations by each member of the team? If a professional worker does not have the answer to a problem in his area of competence, how likely is it that he will get the answer from a professional worker in another discipline who knows less about it than he does? It seems to me that at times when we do not know the answer to a problem, we call in two other people who know even less about it than we do. Then, if these two cannot help, we call in more who know even less about the problem than the first two. Thus, we have a progressive pooling of ignorance. If this pooling of ignorance fails, we figuratively take a vote. This may be democratic but does it achieve professional goals? I should like to suggest that no worker be called into a case conference unless his knowledge or skill can contribute to the solution of the particular problem at hand.
"I should also like to say a word about 'the whole person.' I think every client needs to be considered as a whole person and not several whole persons along the course of rehabilitation. If, after he leaves the hospital where he is considered as a whole person, he goes to a rehabilitation center, which starts all over again considering him as a different whole person, and then goes to an agency which considers him as a third whole person, and ends up at the public assistance agency which considers him a fourth whole person, what happens to his 'wholeness?' He is in danger of becoming, not schizophrenic, but--if I may be permitted to coin a term--'quadrophrenic.'"
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During the past several years the Florida Council for the Blind (the state agency) has seized every opportunity to discredit the Florida Federation of the Blind by means of charges and innuendoes. On Sept.18, 1957, Al Drake, newly elected president of the FFB, wrote a most conciliatory letter to Mr. Harry Simmons, Executive Director of the Council, and enclosed a set of proposals designed to bring about friendlier relations between the two groups and to make possible future co-operation. He closed his letter thus: "I request from you in writing a list of complaints, criticisms, objections, sug-gestions, and anything that you or the Council Board members would like, or deem necessary to bring about a complete and speedy reconciliation. With such a list, I would have something to take before the Florida Federation of the Blind Board for their discussion and instructions...."
In a communication dated Dec.12, 1957, which began with this sentence, "After consideration, the Committee is of the opinion that in the light of repeated unfriendly acts in the past on the part of the Federation, the sincerity and responsibility of the Federation of the Blind must be demonstrated before action can be taken on the proposals, "the Florida Council proceeded to lay down conditions that must be fulfilled before it would consent even to discuss the Florida Federation's proposals for ironing out difficulties and for promoting future co-operation. These conditions involved a repudiation by the Federation of practically every act and statement since it was organized. Condition #6 read as follows: "The Florida Federation of the Blind shall seriously reconsider its relationship with the National Federation of the Blind in recognition of the fact that the latter organization now finds itself in opposition to practically every other organization in the field of work for the blind and is at the present time engaging in campaigns of harassment against many leaders in the field of work for the blind and who have contributed much in past years, and who continue to do so."The Dec.12th communication ended with these words: "... the present leadership of the Federation must first admit to its membership, the blind citizens of the state, and the public at large that charges and attacks against the Florida Council for the Blind in the past have no foundation in fact and have been taken as a result of erroneous information and impressions and prejudiced leadership." Finding these conditions completely unacceptable, the Florida Federation proposed to the Council on Feb.11 that the whole controversy be aired before an impartial committee and that both parties abide by the decision which such an impartial committee would subsequently issue.
On Feb. 25 the Council replied that it was referring the whole matter to its Blind Advisory Committee. The members of this Committee are handpicked by Mr. Simmons and include several whose jobs depend on the continued good will of the Council. This Advisory Committee is expected to meet on April 28 and make its recommendations.
A leader in the Florida Federation, writing to a friend, said: "We have been trying to get some action from the Florida Council for the Blind by asking for a public hearing on all charges, since we have received statements from the Council accusing us of many unethical practices and to the last account they have dodged the issue completely by turning the matter over to the Blind Advisory Committee to ask them what action they should take. This is a detour that I personally had not suspected or even thought possible since these accusations had nothing whatsoever to do with the Blind Advisory Committee...."
Finally a brief quotation from the answer which the Florida leader received: "... Those fellows seem never to want a free and open discussion of anything. Obviously, if the charges are valid, there should be no objection to an open discussion about them...."
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"Since 1951, the North Carolina Eye Bank reports more than 200 corneal transplants. Three thousand persons in the state have pledged the gift of their eyes after death. Other thousands are needed. All hospitals have pamphlets explaining the program, which is strictly voluntary, strictly non-commercial.... For the man of vision and charity, here is opportunity. Rich and poor can leave a meaningful legacy to mankind."
"Did you know... that Grover Cleveland was at one time a teacher in the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind. Did you know... that seven hundred and fifty thousand persons in this country with normal vision will become blind? Did you know... Julia Ward Howe, wife of Samuel Gridley Howe, the great educator of the blind, wrote the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'?"
The Executive Council of the NCFB will meet quarterly from now on, rather than at irregular intervals, as in the past.
The Greensboro chapter has presented 20 pairs of roller skates to the State School for the Blind to be used by the students there.
A contributor expresses strong opposition to the proposed revisions of Grade Two Braille. He (or she) feels that many present Braille readers will abandon Braille entirely rather than go to the trouble of learning the proposed new features. Also that many newly blind will be discouraged from trying to learn Braille at all. Also that the more contractions we use the poorer spellers our blind children will become. (The Monitor Editor feels that this contributor must have a low opinion of the initiative and intelligence of blind people generally. A more highly contracted form of Braille makes it possible to read or write any given passage more quickly and, in the long run, more easily. The present 268 contractions in standard Grade Two should hardly deter an English or American reader when it is remembered that Chinese children are required to memorize from 10,000 to 20,000 symbols and are consistently successful in doing so.)
Blind workers in the Asheville sheltered shop, who have vainly petitioned H. A. Wood to assign a competent manager and to put forth some effort in obtaining subcontracts in other work, feel somewhat more hopeful now that the North Carolina Commission for the Blind has turned over the whole enterprise to the Lions of Western North Carolina.
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The Council has adopted a beautiful new official emblem, which will henceforth appear on all Council publications.
"When we pause to review the strides forward which have been made in the past year, it is gratifying and refreshing to note what can be done through the unity of purpose and the thrill of working together. Out of the five bills presented in the last legislature, four were passed, which is an excellent percentage. Secondly, we have gained three new affiliates, the newest being that of the Yamhill County Council of the Blind under the leadership of Mrs. Iris Malcomb of Amity.... This makes a total of nine chapters throughout the state and we hope to gain more in this new year. Thirdly, we were able to help several deserving applicants through our Loan Fund. And in the fourth place, an electric mimeograph machine has been purchased by the State Council, which will be of invaluable help in getting out our Bulletins. Sketching, photographing and color combinations will be possible with this new machine in addition to the usual operations of a mimeographer...."
The Portland organization of blind stand operators recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. It now has 14 members.
A group of six Portland blind and three sighted people has completed its elementary course in First Aid and declares it is ready to answer emergency calls from persons who can not immediately obtain the services of a physician.
The Multnomah chapter has called upon the Oregon police to enforce vigorously the vagrancy law and thus eliminate blind "tin-cup artists" from the city streets.
The Oregon Council has prepared and recorded a Talking Book, describing the activities of the National Federation and its Oregon affiliate. This has been deposited in the Portland Library for the Blind and will be circulated the same as any other recorded book.
The Oregon Council Bulletin will be tape-recorded and from now on will be made available to member groups.
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(From Time, Feb. 3, 1958): "In a Negro ward of Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, a grizzled man sat up in bed, waiting to cry. If only he could weep, he might see again. David Dougherty, 62, had lost his sight almost completely as the aftermath of a rare disease which destroys the lacrimal glands producing the watery fluid that lubricates the eyeballs. (The less doctors know about a disease, the longer name they give it. Knowing nothing about the cause or cure of Dougherty's affliction, marked by ulceration of the eyes and mouth and atrophy of various glands, they have called it ectodermosis erosiva pluriorificialis.) For two days Dougherty sat in bed with increasing impatience.... Then one noon Dougherty heard a lunch cart rattling down the corridor. As it stopped at the door, he smelled the food. His mouth watered--and so did his right eye. Dougherty began to see again. What had happened was no coincidence but just what the doctor had planned. Finding that conventional (largely wait-and-see) treatment for a year and a half did nothing to restore Dougherty's sight, Resident Surgeon Joseph Lamar Mays, 33, decided on a rare and ingenious operation developed in Russia and China, seldom done previously in the U.S. The idea: to take one of Dougherty's salivary glands (there are three on each side) and reroute it so that the saliva would flow into the right eye socket and restore his vision. In a delicate, 2 1/2-hour operation, Surgeon Mays cut into Dougherty's right cheek, freed the parotid salivary duct almost back to the ear, cut it free from the inside of the mouth with a bit of mucous membrane attached, then led it to the eye's outer corner.
"Perhaps because the disturbed tissues were swollen, the duct at first carried no saliva. But when Dougherty heard and smelled the lunch wagon, the flow was copious.... From having been able to distinguish only light from dark, Dougherty developed 20/200 vision--enough for him to travel alone to the hospital last week for a check-up. His vision is expected to improve for six months, perhaps to 20/30. Meanwhile, he will have the same operation on his left eye. The excessive drooling in the right eye, triggered by food, has already let up to the point where it is no longer uncomfortable.
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by H. G. Burns
(Ed. Note--Mr. Burns is an instructor in psychology at Los Angeles City College and Corresponding Secretary of the Los Angeles County Club of the Adult Blind, an NFB affiliate.)
This is a critical rejoinder to a stimulating article in the February Braille Monitor by an unnamed but "well-known blind educator. "I am an almost unknown blind educator who would like to list points of disagreement and agreement with the provocative February article entitled, "Who Tells the Blind What They Shall Read?"
First, let me state my points of disagreement:
1. It is stated that many Braille libraries are housed in local agencies serving the blind instead of in public libraries where the writer believes they belong. If we examine the 28 regional distributing Braille libraries, it appears that close to three-fourths of them are housed in or associated with state and public libraries whose distribution service to Braille readers is only one part of a larger circulation to their sighted borrowers. That they are staffed to meet the needs of blind readers, however, is certainly questionable.
2. It is stated that housing the Braille libraries in agencies for the blind leads the public to believe that these agencies supply the money for library service. In the February issue of Light, published by the Braille Institute of America in Los Angeles, the use of funds is accounted for in the following way: the Library of Congress appropriation supplies money for embossing books, while funds from contributions and endowments pay the employees who operate the library's vacilities. This latter condition is, no doubt, one strong reason why staffing is often inadequate to meet the demands made by many eager and intelligent blind readers.
3. It is further maintained that juvenile literature in Braille is not meeting the needs of young readers. Looking through the 1957 issues of the Braille Book Review, I find 66 titles in juvenile fiction and nonfiction combined. This list does not include hand-copied titles. It lists a much larger group of embossed titles than was to be found in the scant half-dozen available six to eight years ago. The variety is laudable, including fantasy, humor, adventure, science fiction and titles in biography, studies of Indian tribes, animal life, the origin of man and even how the days of the week got their names. From here on I agree wholeheartedly with the "well-known blind educator."
4. Poor machines, slow repairs, outmoded Talking Book equipment in both players and records are the plague of every borrower. Technical innovations already in existence in countries outside the United States are long overdue here.
5. I deplore, along with my colleague in education, the failure to keep up with the better and, sometimes, less conventional authors of our time. What are the blind to do who want to read Truman Capote or the more recent Steinbeck works or John O'Hara? The last named appears only in condensed form. Its life expectancy is short as it was paperbound and held together with staples just like any flimsy magazine.
6. I regret, as does our February writer, that no one in Braille library administration systematically consults with or asks for the opinions and suggestions of the organized blind. A few individuals here and there cry out in the wilderness and, hearing no answer, give up in despair. The organized blind believe that library service is indispensable and worthy of concerted efforts by the blind and their librarians to bring about improvements. Recent contact with some of the more enterprising librarians for the blind leads me to believe that committees from the organized blind should be received and heard regularly in planning improvements in library service. This should take place at the level of the Library of Congress. There is no better way in which Braille libraries can learn the needs of the readers they serve.
And from a reader in Montrose, Michigan:
"... The reckless atmosphere of the article leaves one to think that there is not a single thing good about the whole library system for blind people. Nor that anyone in the system knows what they are doing. I would be as reckless as the author of that article if I were to say that library services for the blind have reached the ultimate, and that no room for improvement exists.... There are in the various libraries, other than the regional libraries, many folks who have put unstinting labor and devotion into providing reading material for the blind. I have been reading Braille and records for eleven years. I have been located so that I was serviced by two different regional libraries, and have gotten books from a number of other libraries outside my area. Never once have I had any noticeable delay in procuring a book. I also patronize some public libraries, and in them too I have found times when the titles I wanted were not to be had, and I have had to wait other times, and at times the books were less than new in condition. Library services for the blind may not have reached the stage of short wave, or television, but it is gaining ground.... I do a lot of reading and on various subjects. I have found that when I need some book not in large circulation such groups as Recordings for the Blind and the National Braille Press will provide it....
"I think there is no library but that wishes it had more funds for more book titles, and equipment. Braille books and records cost more to produce than ink-print, and it is to be expected that it will take longer to build up a catalogue where everything can be found. For myself it just makes me sick each time the Braille Book Review comes out and I see so many good books that I can never possibly hope to read them all.... If I could only borrow books after I had paid an annual subscription price I might feel bossy about it, but I get all this wealth of material for nothing.... It is true not every title every blind person wishes is embossed.
"The federal system does have a system of readers letting their wishes be known what titles they wish. And I much prefer to have the individual reader speak than some organization for the blind. Forming into an organization does not give them insight into the minds of all other blind people. Let's make more use of what we have recorded and brailled and be on closer terms with our librarians to tell them what we like. Frank Wilmot."
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As an example of the tireless efforts which the NFB President puts forth in behalf of the blind everywhere, the following letter is reproduced below:
' "Dear Mr. Hughson: It would be greatly appreciated if you could find it possible to present to Mr. Henry Ford II the needs of blind students in the colleges and universities around the country and seek his aid in making funds available for this purpose.
"These needs are well illustrated by the work of the Skinner Foundation principally at the University of California, Berkeley. For the past several years the Skinner Foundation has provided tools and equipment which have been necessary for the blind students to do their work. These have included tape recorders, typewriters, Braille machines, on one occasion a calculator especially adapted and the like. In addition, the Skinner Foundation has made available to blind college students small amounts of cash for the hiring of sighted readers, tuition, incidentals, clothes and the like.
"These awards have only been made when money was not available from other sources, either the private resources of the student or public or private agencies. The intention has been to supplement, not to supplant, existing aids and services.
"The work of the Skinner Foundation has contributed valuably to the development of the potentialities of these blind students. Without these tools and other aids, blind students find it much more difficult and often impossible to do their work competitively in regular universities.
"A college or university education is frequently the means by which these students eventually become self-supporting, contribute to their communities and live normal lives. This of course should be the object of all programs designed to aid the blind in the productive years of life.
"All of this can be illustrated by a brief glance at the situation of the blind persons who have been assisted by the Skinner Foundation. A total of 45 blind persons have been aided. Twenty-eight of these are still enrolled as students. Seventeen have moved on and the present activities of these seventeen constitute a heartwarming and wonderful story of the potentialities and achievements of blind persons.
"Three have regular jobs as social workers, one with a Catholic social service agency in San Francisco, one with the San Francisco County Welfare Department and one with the Santa Cruz County Welfare Department. A fourth graduate in social welfare has entered the Order of the Sisters of Mercy in Chicago.
"Three have become teachers in the public schools--one in the Santa Rosa public schools as a resource teacher for blind students, one in the public schools of Temple City teaching sighted students in the 7th and 8th grades, one in the public schools of Mendocino county teaching mathematics and biology to sighted students in the 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11th grades.
"One has graduated from law school and passed the Bar in California and in the District of Columbia. He has a regular job in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D. C.
"One graduated as an engineer and now has a job as, an electrical engineer with Douglas Aircraft Corporation.
"Three of the girls have married and become housewives and two are now mothers. One of these in addition has now virtually completed an autobiographical book which a member of the English Department at the University of California says is of publishable quality.
"One is presently earning his living with a group playing western music. At the same time he is seeking employment as a social worker.
"One has gone on to Oxford, England, for advanced studies. Meanwhile, Little, Brown & Company has published his book entitled Face to Face, which is rapidly becoming a best seller.
"One, a citizen of Japan, was at the University of California for only one year to do advanced work. He has now returned to Japan and to his job as a teacher in a school for the blind.
"Three are as yet unemployed and are seeking work. One of these has passed Civil Service examinations for personnel work. One of these has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a secondary teachers credential. He is looking for a job in a college or university. One of these did not graduate. He has started his own small business making collapsible white canes.
"The importance of the assistance rendered by the Skinner Foundation to the blind students at the University of California, Berkeley, and the importance of college and university education to future productive lives of these students thus can hardly be overstated. The proposal is to extend similar aid to blind students in colleges and universities across the nation.
"Approximately twenty-five blind students are enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, each semester. There are roughly eighty blind students enrolled in the colleges and universities of the state of California. Higher education for the blind has been emphasized in California somewhat more than in other states and the availability of a generous grant of public assistance and other aids and services in California doubtless has meant that the proportion of blind students in colleges is greater in California than in many other states. The total number in other states, however, is considerable. I know from my mail as president of the National Federation of the Blind that many of these students need help even more than do the students in California. It is for this reason and to serve this purpose that I have felt impelled to write this letter to you."
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From a Californian: "the last part is maudlin and unconvincing." From another Californian: "To me the article was dramatic and forceful, revelatory of human nature, courage, endurance, and achievement. The episodes described truly reveal the background of a man already great, but who still has a future ahead of him.... The graphic story of the tenBroek family reaches epic height. The vision that was his father's, Dr. tenBroek has inherited. Like his father with the hard soil of Alberta, Dr. tenBroek is digging into the harder soil of social attitudes, and we know he will break it in time. "And from a third Californian: "The writers of the article have succeeded in telling a dramatic story without making it melodramatic."
From Vermont: "If this is the kind of an article you and Floyd can produce by collaboration I hope this collaboration will continue in the future so you may be able to bring us more of the life and achievements of our great President."
From Colorado: "The article 'Flight of an Arrow' in the March issue of the Braille Monitor is extremely interesting and re-vealing of Dr. tenBroek's childhood. I have been curious for a long time as to the cause of his blindness and about his family background. I had supposed that Dr. tenBroek came from a family fairly well off. A number of us have discussed this particular article and we hope that in the future similar articles about prominent blind individuals might be included in future issues of the Braille Monitor."
From South Carolina: "To say the least, the article was enlightening and compares favorably to any human interest article I have ever read."
From Alabama: "I think the total effect would be quite excellent if the ninth and thirteenth paragraphs were entirely deleted and if a new conclusion were added. The two paragraphs mentioned definitely detract to such an extent that the whole piece is weakened markedly. The ninth paragraph is distinctly overdone, yes, even maudlin." And another from Alabama: "I am writing to tell you that 'Flight of an Arrow' was one of the most interesting and well-presented articles which has appeared in our magazine.... Several members of our chapter have mentioned to me the fact that they liked the article very much. Please give us some more articles about our leaders."
From Missouri: "The Braille Monitor for March was so thoroughly fascinating that we want to cheer for all who contributed to it and express our special enjoyment for some of the articles.... We want to thank you for 'Flight of an Arrow'--the biographical sketch of our president. It contains a fine and well-deserved tribute to Dr. tenBroek and renders a real service to all those federationists who--like us--are comparatively new members.... Your query: 'What if that fateful arrow had never flown?' exactly expresses our feeling. And we might also ask, what if he had (as have so many other successful people) spurned, the cause of his fellow blind or misinterpreted their basic problems?"
From New York: "There was a lot of information which I had not known about previous to the article, and I feel that a rapidly growing movement such as the National Federation should, by all means, enlighten its members as to the leadership and the quality of its president in particular."
From Indiana: '"Flight of an Arrow' is living proof that the blind can progress under seemingly insurmountable conditions." And another from Indiana: "Enjoyed reading the article, 'Flight of an Arrow' in the March issue of the Braille Monitor. Was encouraging to know how the mishap of one person could benefit so many others."
From Ohio: "...there should be more such articles in the Monitor. I think each one of us wonders sometimes where certain people come from and what makes them tick. This article answers those questions.... I liked the article."
From Arizona: "I have been looking forward for some time to reading an account of tenBroek's early life, so I read with great interest 'Flight of an Arrow,' which appeared recently. I thought this was well done, giving a vivid and convincing picture of what happened. However, I think the last two paragraphs, which I am sure were very hard to write, were not up to the rest of the article.... I also think that the imagined conversation between tenBroek and Miss---doesn't ring true. It sounds too flat for him to say. And the last sentence is also too much like what would be in an ordinary print magazine. However, maybe you're not attempting a literary gem. I just think anything so good, ought to be the best, so if this perchance may be intended for wider circulation at some time, you could revise it a bit more. Thanks again to both of you for giving us this insight into our president's development."
From Florida: "I think this is a very good article and we should have more similar ones since I believe they cause the readers to have a closer relationship and better understanding of their leaders." And from another Floridian: "I was pleasantly surprised to find the article entitled 'Flight of an Arrow' in the March Braille Monitor. This article personalizes for me in a way that nothing else ever has the man we are proud to have as our NFB President.... For most of us he has always been presented as a man with a list of honors a mile long. Up to now he has been to me an aloof personage, saying the things and doing the things I, for the most part, believe in... " And a third letter from Florida: "I would like to have articles about other NFB officers and leaders such as 'Flight of an Arrow.' I think this type of sketch is a fine thing as it gives the rank and file members a far better understanding of their leaders, where they come from, how they got there, and that way, and where they are. It also gives them a better insight into the thinking processes of their leaders.... Some may feel that it has a flare for the dramatic or appeal to the sympathies of the reader but I do not think this type of writing is bad unless its purpose is to muddle the thinking of the reader...."
From Montana: "It was with considerable interest that I read 'Flight of an Arrow' in the March Braille Monitor. For years we have been hearing about Dr. tenBroek's current activities and accomplishmemts, but this is the first time I have read anything about his earlier days and background. The story was almost too short to be anything more than a sketch of what surely must be an interesting and varied career. I believe the article might carry more appeal or human interest if one or two instances of personal hardship or near failure could have been cited; but perhaps Dr. tenBroek has never experienced such setbacks on his way up the ladder of success. I am thinking, for example, how did he manage financially to obtain a college education? Did he have to work his way through college? What did he do upon graduation? How did he obtain the position on the faculty of the University of California?... My whole point is that I would be more interested in knowing of his struggles to acquire an education and then a job. Dr. tenBroek is unquestionably an outstanding leader and thinker; and the NFB is fortunate to have him as President."
From Iowa: "To read about his early life and the incident that caused his blindness was most revealing, and it seems to me that I know him so much better now, and I am glad this information was printed in the Braille Monitor. Another point in the article which impressed me was pointing out the one trait that I feel most prevalent in many blind people--the ready forgiveness toward any one that may have happened to have caused the accident which places a person under such a handicap as blindness. I am sure that most blind people hold no resentment toward any one who has hurt them, and Dr. tenBroek proved that in his interview with the sister of his boyhood playmate. I hope this will inspire the writers of this article to give us other articles about the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind." And from another Iowan: "It was a well-written article, and I think I understand your thinking in this approach to Dr. tenBroek's useful life. I certainly do believe that there are definite reasons for things that occur and there is no doubt in my mind that they are purposed to fulfill a plan. I do not think your idea is overdone or maudlin in any way."
From New Jersey: "... This article was most inspiring to me. It again emphasized the fact that despite a humble beginning and obstacles along the path of life, that one can become eminently successful. It pointed out the need for quick action in cases of eye injuries; the fact that a blind person can live a normal family life; and that, given the proper training, a blind person can compete with the sighted.... This article should make all of us more proud and appreciative of the wonderful leadership of Dr. tenBroek. Although he has achieved eminent success and fame in fields unrelated to the blind, he is devoting his greatest energy to his less fortunate fellow blind. The success of any movement depends on the leadership and the cognizance of this leadership. 'Flight of an Arrow' should make every blind person who reads it fully realize that the NFB has outstanding leadership. The editors of the Monitor are to be congratulated on this superb article. I hope that the editors of the Monitor will print more articles about other leaders in the NFB who are devoting their lives to making the lot of the blind a better one...."
From Arkansas: "The title excited my curiosity and the handling of the subject matter intrigued me. Such expressions as 'clodbusters,' and the like sounded so in keeping with the story being told. And I was intensely interested in the subject--the family background of Chick. I had always assumed that his parents were probably comfortably-fixed residents of Berkeley or thereabouts and that Chick had his start under such circumstances. So, of course, I respect and admire the man all the more for having done what he has done under much different circumstances than I had supposed.... I would have liked to have seen the article leave no doubt that the members of the Federation have chosen this man tenBroek as their leader time after time through thoroughly democratic processes.... We know, of course, that this is true but, those who wish to miscontrue, might use the description of how we follow him as our leader in a critical manner."
From North Carolina: "Neither I nor---cared much for 'Flight of an Arrow' We both think it smacks of the sort of thing a sighted person might write about a blind person for publicity. The point that blindness can actually lead to a fuller life than one might have had is certainly well taken, yet somehow in this form the story seems too melodramatic...."
From Pennsylvania: "I would like to use 'Flight of an Arrow' in our state publication, We the Blind. Not only is the story unique, it is inspiring as well. The story definitely points out the courage and determination of a man about whom every blind person should be proud. Dr. tenBroek with his ever-stressing of democratic processes can always count the blind by the thousands who will follow him."
From Nevada: "My private secretary was so pleased with the article, 'Flight of an Arrow,' that he read it to the entire group. They all thought it a very splendid contribution to the Monitor and we now know how our great leader lost his sight. ..." From the Nevada News-letter: "'Flight of an Arrow' is an inspiring example of the hight calibre of our editorial staff in Madison who produce the Monitor. It also brought a thrill of pride to every blind and sighted person who had the privilege of hearing it read at a recent gathering of the blind and their friends."
From South Dakota: "To the point where the sister made the contact, it is without a doubt an accurate, appealing and outstanding account of a portion of the life of Dr. tenBroek. From that point on, in my opinion, the lay reader would have the impression that we are endeavoring to mollycoddle, become 'grandstanding' and sensational, and, in general, appeal to the sympathy of the seeing public...."
From Oregon: "'Flight of an Arrow' gave us a still better understanding and appreciation of our President. I am really quite impressed with the article...." From another Oregonian: "It's always been, in our opinion, especially interesting to note the more intimate details of a man's life, in order to better appreciate his current attitudes and actions...."
From Wyoming: "I wish to commend you on the very interesting and wonderfully well-written article in the March Braille Monitor titled 'Flight of an Arrow.' I wish newspaper people could read that article--no sob-story about it.... It is a masterpiece in my book. First, it answered some of the questions I had in my mind, which I hesitated to ask; second, it lets many see there is more in life than holding grudges.... I would like to see more articles such as this one published in the Braille Monitor...."
From Michigan:"... I think that was a great article--well-written, informative, and just enough of the 'human interest angle to make for good and interesting reading. It also provided some real food for thought. To tell the truth--it's hard to imagine the National Federation without Dr. tenBroek as it might have been without the arrow accident. I think it was a very good article, but then, so are most of them in the Monitor." And from another Michigan reader: "Your article on 'Flight of an Arrow' was very interesting. Dr. ten-Broek has become an object of interest and respect to the sighted world as well as to the blind. It would be so easy for him to sit back and enjoy his success as a teacher and scholar in the atmosphere of a selfish exception to the rule, but he prefers to devote his talents and energy to all the blind, to remove unnecessary handicaps placed upon them. So we want to know all about him, his family and his achievements."
From Connecticut: "Today, after reading 'Flight of an Arrow,' I am reminded of a quotation from Freud. 'Those who are the lovers of the vision of truth, are true philosophers."... More power to you Dr. tenBroek." And another one:"... In reading of Dr. tenBroek, some of our people have wondered a bit at his great popularity. They have often asked me questions concerning his background and early life. Since reading the article entitled 'Flight of an Arrow,' these folks have come to understand a bit more of our adoration for this wonderful man, ... My estimate of the article is that it was very well-written and well put together. The collaborators have done a fine piece of work. I think also that it is appropriately timed; for those who have never met Dr. tenBroek will now want more than ever to attend one of our conventions so that they may meet him. The story has just enough sentiment in it without being 'drippy,' as we say. It reveals the dynamic drive and great purpose of our president and also his kindly sympathy and consideration for his fellow-men. To my way of thinking it is an excellent piece...."
From Wisconsin: "I always enjoyed the Monitor and in the last one I especially liked 'Flight of an Arrow.' It was fascinating reading and the information on Dr. tenBroek is much appreciated. I enjoy reading about his personal life as well as about all the wonderful things he is doing."
From another Arizonan: "...I thought it one of the best pieces of writing I have ever read.... The story was so interesting to me that I made an effort to see that several of our people here heard it since they were not Braille readers. Consequently, I have read the article four different times and I think I got just a little more out of it each time I read it."
From another South Dakotan: "I found your recent effort to write the biography of Dr. tenBroek very interesting. It threw a new light on a man of many facets. I think something of a similar nature might be done with others in our national organization to bring their lives to us in a way in which we do not now know them.... "
And finally, from a fellow Editor in Michigan: "I have just read 'Flight of an Arrow' with great interest. I find the piece written in moving language, it is a biographical sketch that is a most excellent contribution to our field of action. Congratulations on a literary product of merit."
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by Robert Rottman
(Ed. Note--Mr. Rottman [another of whose articles is reviewed elsewhere in this issue] has prepared this open letter at the request of the National Federation. For reasons of space I have felt compelled to omit a considerable part of it in the Monitor presentation, but the NFB is extremely anxious to supply the full text to as many parents of blind children as possible. Each reader is hereby appointed a committee of one to assemble the names and addresses of as many such parents as possible and to send them to national headquarters, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif. We, the present members of the NFB, are battling to make this a better world in which the blind children of today can grow up. More and more parents are coming to realize that our program has a vital significance for them and a direct bearing on the future of all children who are blind. This increasing awareness is bringing them into our movement as staunch allies.)
The shock of having a child who is blind is probably still with you. Like most other parents of blind children you have been wondering about your child's future--wondering whether he will develop normally like other children; wondering if he can go to school and get an education; wondering if he can take care of himself as an adult, or if you will have to look out for him the rest of your lives.
To many of you the fact that your child is potentially capable of growing up to live a normal, productive, happy life seems unbelievable, yet it is true. The experience of thousands of capable blind people, representing different levels of intelligence and different degrees of ability, has demonstrated beyond a doubt that blindness alone need not limit anyone to a life of dependency and helplessness. Whether your child grows up to be confident, able, and self-sufficient or helpless and afraid will depend a great deal, not on his blindness, but on you.
To the extent that you believe in the essential normality and ability of the blind, you will be able to accept your child as normal and able, and to give him the encouragement, the confidence, and the freedom he needs to develop his own methods of doing without sight what most other people do with the aid of their eyes.
It is not easy to believe in the blind when most people around you still think of blind people as nearly helpless, deprived of the things that make life worth living, doomed to spend their days in a gloomy "world of darkness." It is hard to come upon the blind beggar on the corner, with his tin cup and pathetic whine, and still tell yourself that for every blind beggar out among the public a hundred blind workers are earning their own living like everyone else at a multitude of different jobs. It is difficult indeed to read and hear the many pleas for donations to charities that bring light and sunshine to the poor, poor blind, without wondering just how and why such charities exist if the blind are not in fact miserable creatures who need all the help and cheer they can get.
But blind machinists are operating lathes in factories without sighted assistance. Blind lawyers are arguing and winning cases without tin cups and accordians. Blind scientists are contributing to national defense and private industry without the support of charity. And blind housewives are cooking meals, raising babies, and pacifying husbands with smiles on their faces.
And there are blind professors in universities, and blind teachers in public schools, and blind social workers, blind electricians, blind musicians, blind writers, blind radio technicians, blind salesmen, blind secretaries, blind receptionists, blind shopkeepers, blind tailors, blind psychologists, blind public officials, blind judges--and blind criminals. They are already proving that 150 million Americans can be wrong--about the blind.
Will your child develop normally like other children? Yes, he will if you consider him normal and raise him in a normal way. This does not mean that you will pretend he is not blind. Pretending cannot alter the facts. It means that you will give him the same opportunities for exploration, for solving his own problems, for learning to accept responsibilities that you would give to any child of yours, even though your methods of teaching and his methods of learning and doing may be different. It means that you will not pity him because he cannot see, and so teach him to feel sorry for himself. It means that you will not do things for him before you give him the chance to do them for himself, and so let him come to depend on the help of others. It means that you will not shudder when he bumps a chair or shriek when he trips over a loose rug, and so instill in him a fear of moving freely and dealing with his environment first-hand. It means that you will not try to pay him with extra services and privileges for the sight you had nothing to do with taking away, and so convince him that by virtue of his blindness he deserves the fruits of life that others have to earn by hard work. It means that you will not keep your child hidden from the rest of the world or blush with shame when his blindness is noticed, and so, as far as he is concerned, cast your vote with those who would make blindness a guarantee of inferiority. It means that you will not, from the time he is young, stress the limitations you believe his blindness is going to impose upon him, and so narrow his level of aspiration and deny him the courage and the drive to later prove you wrong. Most of all it means that you will not merely tolerate him because of the obligations his blindness places on you, but love him for the person he is and respect him as an individual human being, with the same needs and the same potential for growth and achievement as his sighted peers. Blind children do grow and develop normally if they are given the chance. Your child can if you let him....
Most blind children today are being educated either in residential schools for the blind, or in "integrated" programs, where special teachers are available to blind students in a public school setting. The residential school offers a wide variety of specialized facilities designed to meet the needs of blind pupils, and an environment where the problems of blindness are met in common, with the confidence and drive inspired by mutual encouragement and mutual competition. The integrated program offers the opportunity for closer home and community life, and the chance to meet from the beginning, with the aid of a specialist in the education of blind children, the challenge of achieving on an equal basis with sighted peers.
Blind children are learning and developing successfully under both types of program. It is your responsibility as parents to evaluate all educational programs available to your blind child, and to select the one you believe will best prepare him to take his place, with competence and confidence, as an independent, self-supporting adult citizen, able to compete on equal terms with his sighted fellow-citizens. Should the program available fall short of this objective, it is your further respon-sibility—for few but you will care enough--to initiate or support the modification of existing facilities or the establishment of new ones to do the job.
Blind children do go to school. Programs and materials do exist to make their education equal to that of sighted children. How far your child goes in school will depend on his capacity for learning, not his blindness.
Can your child really become independent and self-supporting as an adult? Won't you, or some agency, need to watch over him and to help him through the difficult task of living as a blind person in a world organized around the use of sight? Isn't competition on an equal basis an impossible goal, since the sighted have everything the blind have, plus sight which the blind do not have? The most convincing answer--and the only one necessary--is being given daily by the thousands of independent, self-supporting blind persons who have reached the "impossible" goal. In all types of employment, ranging from unskilled labor to university professorship, the blind have already proven their ability to hold successfully the same jobs held by the sighted, and to live a normal life before and after work.
Blindness is not a disabling handicap in itself. Most things done with the aid of sight can also be done without sight. Blindness is a physical nuisance, an inconvenience which makes it necessary to learn other ways of doing what most people do with the aid of sight. The important fact is that these ways do exist, and that they work--for any blind person with enough self-confidence to use them.
In most instances the adaptations are neither different nor difficult, but rather common-sense extensions of what you yourself use, or could use, every day: closer attention to sounds and smells and more exact interpretation of them; greater use of touch and direct contact; better organization; closer attention to spoken words; and more reliance on memory. Certain appliances and devices are available to add to the convenience or the safety with which a blind person performs the tasks of daily living--a cane for travelling; a brailled watch; measuring tools with raised dots or lines--but in general, necessity and experience lead to on-the-spot solutions of physical problems as they arise, and to the average competent, well-adjusted person, life without sight holds no terrors and presents no insurmountable obstacles to independence.
But, though blindness is only a physical nuisance, it is a social handicap. People in general, though with an increasing number of exceptions, have not yet learned that the limitations of blindness can be few. They still regard the blind as a miserable", incapacitated group, deprived of all that makes life worthwhile, and kept alive only through the charity of their more able sighted brethren. So widespread and deep-rooted is the belief in the general inferiority of the blind, that many- blind people themselves have yielded to it, grown accustomed to dependency, and become, in fact, as helpless and spiritless as the sighted believed them to be all along. Such persons, quite naturally, serve to strengthen and perpetuate the misconceptions about blindness of which they are the victims. Capable blind persons have proved that blindness need not mean helplessness; blind persons who have surrendered to public attitudes have likewise proved that blindness can mean helplessness.
You, as parents, must assume a two-fold responsibility to insure that mistaken public attitudes do not lead your child into a life of discouragement, dependency, or helplessness. You must, first of all, believe yourself in his ability to some day hold a job, raise a family, and lead a normal life, and surround him with an environment in which this belief and expectation are dominant, so that his own conviction may grow strong enough to withstand the beliefs and expectations to the contrary which he cannot help but encounter when he leaves the family circle. Such belief on your part is best acquired from a wide knowledge of blind people and what they are achieving today, and from personal contact with successful, self-sufficient blind adults who exemplify the type of citizen you would like to see your son or daughter one day become.
Secondly, you must actively seek to change public misconceptions about blindness and its limitations, by every reasonable means in your power, so that your child, when he attains adulthood, will not be met with the countless instances of discrimination and plain disbelief encountered by the blind today when seeking employment or admittance to activities considered quite normal for the sighted. It is not an easy task to change long-standing opinions and attitudes, especially when public sympathies are involved, yet it must be done if your child is to have a real chance to achieve according to his own ability, rather than someone else's wrong estimation of his disability.
Much has been accomplished in this direction in recent years, largely by the independent blind themselves, both as individuals and through united effort in organizations formed by the blind for their common advancement. Today the position of the blind in our society is better than it has been ever before. Many jobs from which the blind were excluded, including various areas of public service, are now open to them because of anti-discriminatory legislation or the demonstrated capability of a blind "pioneer" who entered and succeeded in a particular field in spite of the "obvious impossibility" of meeting the requirements and performing the duties without sight.... The position of the blind is better than it has ever been, but it is far from one of general acceptance on the basis of equality. Before the latter position can be reached a great and determined campaign must be waged by the blind, and by those who know their true abilities, in order to bring public recognition and acceptance of the facts rather than the fiction about blindness, and in order to direct public efforts on behalf of the blind toward the goals of self-sufficiency and integration with their fellow-citizens, instead of vegetation in the sunshine of charity, no matter how benignly bestowed. The efforts you extend today, as the parents of a blind child, in working with blind adults for greater public understanding and acceptance of the blind as equal human beings, will bring increased opportunity for employment, for full and satisfying family life, for happiness when your son or daughter grows up to be the blind adult of tomorrow.
Blindness is not a condition to be disregarded or minimized. It is a physical nuisance which imposes a few absolute limitations-- such as the impossibility of driving a car--and requires numerous, though not greatly difficult, adaptations for normal life in a sighted world. It is also a social handicap which, because of misconceptions on the part of the sighted, has until recently kept most blind people from employment and achievement on equal terms with their sighted peers. But blindness is not a disabling physical or social handicap in itself.... The National Federation of the Blind wants you, as parents, to know the hope and the challenge that are equally yours as your blind son or daughter grows to adulthood. If you can hold firmly to the hope, and instill it into your child, while meeting the challenge with strength and energy, then your child, as an adult, will be ready to strive, with every expectation of success, for those things which any parent wants for any child: a job, a home, a chance to contribute to his society.
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Mr. Harris Ellsworth, Chairman, Civil Service Commission, Washington 25, D. C.
"Dear Mr. Ellsworth: On behalf of the many blind persons who are members of organizations that are joined in the National Federation of the Blind, I wish to again express my warm admiration and appreciation for the work that the Medical Division of the Civil Service Commission has been doing to further employment of blind persons. In particular, I should like to congratulate your office and the Medical Division on the establishment of the departmental coordinators for the employment of the physically handicapped. It has been our experience that these coordinators for the employment of the physically handicapped, stimulated by, and working with your Medical Division, have already made major contributions to this cause that is so critical to blind people.
"Recently, there has come to my attention the experience of David Krause. David Krause is totally blind. He called on your Medical Division for assistance. He was referred to a number of departmental coordinators and within a few days he was placed in a department of the government for the District of Columbia. He has already earned for himself the warm regard and appreciation of his employers in this new position. It is work of this kind that will ultimately bring about the realization of full employment for blind persons.
"We are sincerely grateful and hope that this work will continue and be expanded.
Sincerely, Jacobus tenBroek."
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The Monitor is extremely glad to report that the Empire State Association of the Blind has begun the issuance of the "Eyecatcher," Mary Jane Hills, Rochester, Editor. The first issue has just reached this office. If subsequent issues maintain the hight standard set by this first one, the "Eyecatcher" will have to be rated as one of the best three or four now being published. Our New York affiliate thus becomes the 28th state organization to provide its members and other interested persons with a periodical which is all their own.
Those who wish to exchange should write to Mrs. Don Hills, 74 Falstaff Road, Rochester 9, New York.
The Editor of the "Eyecatcher" has a lively, vivacious and most readable style. In her first issue she has put together national, state and local items in just about the ideal proportions. As has been pointed out many times, no other single factor is more important in holding an organization together and keeping up the interest of the membership than an organization newsletter, bulletin or magazine.
The present "Eyecatcher" announces the retirement of Ray Dinsmore, of Brooklyn, from the chairmanship of the Legislative Committee, due to poor health. His place has been taken by Mrs. Norma Wagner, of Rochester. Miss Irene Sakelis, of Buffalo, has resigned as State Corresponding Secretary and has been replaced by Miss Sylvia Burton, of Elmira. The Rochester chapter raised about $600 by raffling six turkey baskets and the Buffalo chapter cleared over $1,000 on its Christmas sale of box candy. At a recent meeting of the State Board of Directors, a number of important new committees were formed and assigned to specific tasks. Although the ESAB does not anticipate passage of any of the legislation it sponsored during the present session, no discouragement is being felt because immediate success was not expected on this first attempt. Excellent publicity was obtained, however, and much good experience acquired. The organization plans an all-out effort during the next session and expects to obtain real results at that time.
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(This is the seventh 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.)
There have been frequent inquiries as to just what kind of recreation can be enjoyed by blind people. That, like all other questions concerning the blind, has no general answer. Just as our interests and abilities differ, so do our preferences in entertainment differ. I shall attempt in this article to give you an idea of the many and varied kinds of recreation that can be thoroughly enjoyed by blind people.
For those who appreciate classical music, there are the regular symphony concerts together with other programs of this type throughout the year, and for those who enjoy popular music there is certainly plenty of that commodity on the American radio. While the general belief that we are all gifted musicians, or even that we are all especially appreciative of good music, is utterly false, it is nevertheless true that a greater proportion of us--especially those who have attended residential schools--have received individual instruction in voice and instrumental performance. As a result, a considerable number of us are able to entertain ourselves and others as producers of musical fare.
The good TV shows and movies also afford a great deal of pleasure. No, it is not necessary to see in order to enjoy this kind of entertainment. Some productions are intended for eye appeal, but a program which is built around a definite plot can usually be followed and thoroughly enjoyed by a blind person.
Radio and TV descriptions of sports events play a big part in our entertainment. Baseball, basketball and other games are followed with genuine interest by many of us. There are also activities in which we can participate, bowling being the most popular. Throughout the country there are approximately two thousand blind bowlers who attend public bowling alleys and use the standard equipment. The only special article required by the totally blind person is a portable guide rail which makes it possible for him to be sure of going in a straight line for his running approach. Swimming and fishing are two more favorite sports of the blind.
Now let us turn our attention to recreation in the home. Just like our sighted associates, we enjoy inviting our friends over for dinner or some kind of party. For these occasions we may choose any one of a large number of games which have been adapted for use by the blind. Scrabble is one of the most popular of these games. The top of the scrabble board is covered with plastic on which the squares have been formed with raised lines. The tiles are securely placed in the square depressions, making it possible to handle the board as is necessary during the game . The squares on the board and tiles contain both braille and print letters and numbers so that the game can be played with sighted people as well as with our blind friends. In a similar manner, dominoes, checkers, chess and several other games have been made possible for us to enjoy. Any blind person who can read even a few letters of the Braille alphabet can participate in card games and our basic normality is shown by the fact that card playing is our most popular indoor sport.
We are as great hobbyists as anyone else and these range all the way from embroidering and knitting by the women to intricate cabinet-making by the men. Almost all young blind people learn dancing, both ballroom and other types, and thoroughly enjoy it. The same goes for roller skating and ice skating. Blind boys and girls take an active part in scouting and other organized outdoor activities.
For many of us, just as with people who can see, reading is a favorite pastime. Newspapers and most current magazines are not available to us, but practically any kind of literature in book form has been printed in Braille. For those who do not read Braille easily, the Talking Book--a special kind of record player--serves this purpose. Records have been made of books of all kinds, read by many of the most accomplished readers in the country. These records and also the Braille books are free to us and go through the mails free.
Although we cannot drive cars, experiment with photography, or do other things which to you might seem necessary, a blind person need not be at a loss for entertainment. Many well-intentioned sighted people and organizations of sighted people have felt that special entertainment ought to be provided for segregated groups of blind people, with careful supervision and hovering attention. This, of course, is a manifestation of the traditional, custodial attitude toward the helpless blind. Most of us feel that we neither need nor want this type of spoonfed entertainment.
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(The following letter, written by Robert W. Campbell, president of the California Council of the Blind, has been sent to all state chapters. This idea may prove fruitful for other state organizations.)
"As a result of a resolution adopted at the last convention of the California Council of the Blind, a committee composed of B. V. Yturbide, Allen Jenkins and George Fogarty, has been appointed whose functions include the role of a clearing house of job information for use by the blind of the state. Obviously, maximum benefits from this service will depend upon making as many blind people as possible aware of the committee's existence. Please, therefore, read this letter at your next Club meeting.
"Some basic matters regarding the scope of the function must be emphasized. The committee has just begun its work, and, while even now, inquiries addressed to the Employment Committee at the Council's office will be happily received, it must be understood that some time will be necessary before a wide range of job information is obtained, so that the inquirer should not be disappointed if the particular type of data in which he is interested is not immediately available. Indeed, even when the service is in full gear, the available information, while it will be substantial, will not be all-inclusive because some job openings, particularly those in private industry, are not regularly publicized and do not remain unfilled sufficiently long to be effectively covered.
"It is also important to note that, in order for the committee to give intelligent help, the inquirer must indicate the specific kind of information desired. In the event that, in this connection, a sufficient indication of job experience or type of position sought does not appear in the initial communication, the inquirer will be mailed a brief questionnaire which the committee has prepared to assure that the service offered will prove meaningful. Every effort will be made to give full satisfaction as soon as possible, and, should information of a particular type not be immediately available, the request will not be forgotten but will be complied with whenever such information is obtained.
"Finally, it must be stressed that the committee is now no more than a clearing-house of job information and is not engaged in placement activities, although, of course, it stands ready to give whatever advice may be requested in this regard. In accordance with the afore-mentioned resolution, the question whether the Council should formally enter the job placement field is under study by the committee, and a report on that subject will be given at the May convention. However, even if the Council never undertakes formal job placement functions, the clearing- house service should prove of considerable assistance, and every blind person is urged to take advantage of it."
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(From a paper by William Schlackman, entitled "Marketing Analysis Techniques, "read last year before a meeting of National Industries for the Blind.)
"...Qualitative research, sometimes referred to as motivation research, has as its point of focus the individual consumer--his attitudes, thoughts, aspirations and all the other factors which go into making the human personality. Of course these factors are evaluated in terms of how they relate to the consumer's buying habits...." The writer then describes a series of telephone interviews with purchasers of blind-made products.
"... 51% of the sample population bought products made by the blind at one time or another, while 49% never made a purchase of such products. However, 85% of the people who made such purchases did so two or more years ago. Yet all the respondents, with one exception, stated that they would buy such products again if they had the opportunity to do so. Of the people who never bought products made by the blind, 57% of the consumers knew that such products are available and 43% had no awareness that such products were sold. 80% of the people who never bought blind-made products stated that they would consider purchases if the opportunity availed itself.
"... Of the people who purchased (blind-made) products, 85% found them as good as competing products, 14% found them to be better, and only 1% stated that they were not as good.
"... 1% found prices to be lower, 37% thought they were about the same, while 62% stated that they were slightly higher.
"... Where did these people purchase (blind-made) products?--Door to door, 32%; Exhibitions at church, club or work, 30%; Work-shop outlets, 17%; Local stores (Hardware), 15%; by mail, 6%....
"Basically, what motivates the purchase of blind-made products?... Sympathy (contribution), 42%; sympathy and need, 54%; need, 4%. In the combination category of sympathy and need further breakdown was made. 60% are primarily sympathy determined while 40% are weighted in the direction of need."
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(From the Nevada Federation of the Blind Newsletter):
"The organized blind of Nevada have come a long way in the last few years. It has been the wish of every one of the officers of the Nevada Federation of the Blind to keep the blind people of the state and the blind people everywhere aware of the developments here in Nevada. It is with great pleasure that the Nevada Federation of the Blind has in the last few years had in its programs only projects to help the blind to self-government, rehabilitation, social orientation and progressive legislation.
"In doing the things we have mentioned above, we must not take all the credit for this vast program that is now in operation in the state of Nevada. We are very grateful to the Lion's Clubs, the Service League in Las Vegas and many other organizations. There have been many individuals who have contributed to this progressive movement of the blind in Nevada.
"I would like to say that if the blind of Nevada are going to keep up this high standard of progress and to keep the blind organizations free to work out their own problems, they must have the help of the sighted people of Nevada, but in the capacity of the helping hand "UP," not the helping hand "OUT." Thus, the blind organization must be administered by the blind. Its officers must be of the blind, for they are the ones most qualified to know the problems of the blind, and they are the best qualified to administer their own programs and organizations."
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It would seem that employers have been able to think up enough reasons and excuses for not hiring blind workers without help from agencies for the blind. The following appeared in The Seattle Post Intelligencer, December 4, 1957: "It was Michael Cariola, upon becoming executive director of The Lighthouse last April, who began the hiring of sighted salesmen, maintaining that today's traffic makes it unsafe for blind people to take on this work. Mr. Cariola, totally blind himself and with a long record in the direction of Eastern institutions for the blind, should know."
The White Cane (Washington State Association of the Blind) comments as follows: "While such misleading information is difficult to correct, it would be quite easy and certainly more professionally commendable on the part of those responsible for the dissemination of such information to exercise more care than they sometimes show in their public utterances.
"We feel sure that in his desire to acquaint Seattle housewives with the situation of the change from blind to sighted personnel among those handling products manufactured at The Lighthouse for the Blind, Mr. Cariola never intended to place himself in the position of an authority on the subject of travel safety for blind people in Seattle traffic. We trust that Mr. Cariola is aware of the fact a blind person's ability to travel safely in congested traffic depends far more on that person's adjustment to his handicap than it does on the mere fact that he is blind.
"To the editorial writer responsible for this article we would say: You could have done the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind and its situation about which you wrote in your editorial a far greater service if you had made an effort to get accurate information about travel safety among blind people instead of merely assuming the existence of such information be reason of the situation that prompted your editorial.
"Misconceptions concerning the inherent problems of blindness are far too numerous about sighted people in general, and it is there-fore particularly regrettable when an incident occurs which adds to these misconceptions, however unintentionally it may be done.
"We understand that efforts were made to correct the misinformation publicized in this editorial, but it is doubtful whether corrections and retractions of such statements are ever read by all of the people who saw the original information which necessitated them.
"The White Cane and its publishers take the position that in matters concerning the blind and problems relative to them it is far better, much easier and certainly less embarrassing to exercise intelligent judgment and fair play in the preparation and release of all public information."
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(From an article in the Florida White Cane written by Beulah Holly Flynn.)
A zealous auditor in Florida came across an old and forgotten law which, according to the interpretation of the Florida Attorney General, requires parents of blind children who can afford it to pay tuition at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. An effort was made last winter to repeal this anachronistic piece of legislation. The repealer passed the Senate but never got out of committee in the House. Many Florida parents of blind children have been evading the compulsory education law by enrolling their children in classes for "exceptional" children in the public schools. This almost always means that they are thrown in with mentally retarded children and never have a real chance to acquire a proper education. Now that many of these parents will be compelled to pay tuition at the St. Augustine school, it is feared that this form of evasion will undergo a marked increase.
The Florida School has no organization of parents of blind students nor has it any alumni association. This latest unfortunate development underlines the great need for both. Fortunately the deaf are well organized and are putting up a hard fight. The Florida Federation of the Blind will undoubtedly make the repeal of this law a major legislative project next year. If sighted children were required to pay tuition in a tax-supported school, there would be such a storm of protest that it would be heard from one end of the country to the other.
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WHEREAS, the disability insurance provisions of the Social Security Act initiated by Congress in 1956 deny disability benefits to otherwise eligible persons who have not attained the age of 50 years; and, WHEREAS, restriction of benefits to persons who have reached age 50, but who have not yet attained the age of 65, confines the disability insurance program to characteristics better resembling an early retirement system than a provision for social insurance against the hazards of disability which may be faced by people of any age; and, WHEREAS, a minimum age provision is indefensible in a disability insurance program when it deprives individuals under the minimum age of benefits even though they may have made, over their working lives, contributions to the common trust fund far in excess of the minimum needed to qualify for benefits; and WHEREAS, Senator Wayne Morse, for himself, Senator Richard Neuberger and Senator Russell Long, has sponsored a bill in the United States Senate which would correct the glaring inequity of the age requirement at present in effect in the disability insurance program by removing altogether from the law the current 50 year minimum age provision;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled at New Orleans, Louisiana, this 7th day of July, 1957, THAT this convention strongly endorses Senator Morse's bill S.1137 and urges the Congress to take favorable action upon this measure at the earliest possible moment.
WHEREAS, S. 1811 and S. 1812 sponsored in the United States. Senate by Senator Revercomb of West Virginia provide, respectively, for a liberalization of the definition of disability applied to applicants for disability benefits under the current disability insurance program, and for a drastic reduction in the coverage requirements establishing minimum qualifications for eligibility to receive disability benefits; and, WHEREAS, S. 1811 would include in the disability definition the wholly rational and realistic provision that an individual with a medically determinable disability shall, "in the absence of substantial evidence to the contrary, be deemed to be unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity if, solely by reason of having such an impairment, he is unable, as a practical matter, to obtain employment;" and, WHEREAS, S. 1812 would enable individuals with a medically determinable disability and a demonstrable inability to find employment because of the existence of the disability to become eligible for disability insurance benefits if they have but a single calendar quarter of coverage under the disability insurance system;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind ... THAT this Convention finds and declares S. 1811 and S. 1812 to be pieces of legislation worthy of support by every blind person and every organization of the blind in the country, and further, that this Convention urges and recommends to the appropriate committee of Congress that these two bills be given favorable consideration at an early date.
WHEREAS, the need of blind recipients of public assistance to become self-supporting and contributing members of their communities is an individual need as compelling as the needs for food, shelter and clothing; and, WHEREAS, financial assistance under current policy is given to recipients only when their personal income and resources are insufficient to meet their survival needs, the consequence of which is that such resources as the recipients may possess are entirely used up to satisfy consumption needs and cannot be devoted to any endeavor to attain self-support and economic self-sufficiency; and, WHEREAS, if recipients were permitted to utilize outside income and resources in efforts to regain economic independence a great number of persons in the productive years of life who are now compelled to depend indefinitely upon public aid could work their way off the assistance rolls;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind ... THAT this Convention directs and instructs the officers and directors of the National Federation of the Blind to seek and support legislation in the Congress which will permit individual blind recipients of public assistance having a reasonable plan to attain self-support and willing to make a sincere and sustained effort in the fulfillment of the plans to submit and obtain approval from agencies administering public assistance for the utilization of whatever income and resources they may individually possess to carry out their individual plans to achieve self-support.
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On March 20 the lower house of the New York legislature killed the bill which would have imposed a residence requirement on recipients of public assistance in that state. The vote was uncomfortably close- 72-69.
The retiring Vice-President and Founder of the Braille Institute of America has been awarded a life pension of $500 a month by the Trustees of that agency.
W. C. Handy, beloved blind composer of St. Louis Blues and other pieces which have achieved a permanent place in American folk music, died on March 27 at the age of 84.
From the Florida White Cane: "Dr. Arthur Dye, blind osteopath of Charlotte, N.C., formerly of St. Augustine and a graduate of the State school there at a tournament in New Orleans last year became a Contract Bridge Life Master. He is the first blind person to achieve this honor."
From the Alabama Brace: "Mr. Euclid Rains, of Alabama, is the first totally blind farmer in the U.S. to receive an F. H. B. Farm Ownership Loan."
Promptly following up a referral from my office (which came originally in a letter from a Kentucky greeting card purchaser), the West Virginia Federation found an almost destitute blind couple, of whom they had had no previous knowledge. The mother was attempting to keep the family going by taking in washings, but her machine was worn out and she was having a bad time of it. Our West Virginia people purchased and presented to her a new, automatic machine and hope to persuade another organization to supply her with an automatic dryer.
(From the house organ of the American Bosch Arma Corporation): "Thirty years' service with American Bosch was observed recently by Newton Ottone [well-known Federation leader in Mass.] in Dept. 598, Packaging. This span of service had more than the usual significance to Newton since he had lost his sight some twenty-one years ago. He worked in the Radio Dept.... until transferred to Packaging. In spite of his physical handicap, Newt does an excellent job of pack-aging, as Ted Andrewes, foreman, will testify,.. He has been connected with the Boy Scouts for 31 years, serving as a Scoutmaster for nine years and District Commissioner for two.... He received Scouting's highest honor, the Silver Beaver Award, for outstanding service to Boyhood.... Newt recently moved into his own home at 76 Roy Street, Springfield, which he bought with Savings Bonds through the AB payroll savings plan. His family consists of his wife, Emiline, and daughter, Marilyn, age 13...."
The Blinded Veterans Association has presented its "Employer of the Year" Award to the Wichita Clinic, a private medical center in Wichita, Kansas, in recognition of the Clinic's policy of utilizing the skills of blind workers. Mr. Carl Eisenbeise, Personnel Director, accepted the award on behalf of the Wichita Clinic. Among totally blind persons employed by the Clinic have been an X-ray technician and a dictaphone operator. Mr. W. Burdell Baker, Clinic Administrator, said: "Those whom we have employed over the years have been very fine and loyal employees, and we are indeed grateful for the privilege of employing them." The blind and other physically handicapped workers at the Wichita Clinic receive the same rate of pay as nondisabled employees and have equal opportunity for advancement, based solely on their ability to do the job. No special concessions or adaptations of equipment have been made.
Miss Joyce Rominger, a graduate of the Alabama School for the Blind, is now employed as the switchboard operator at the Siskin Steel and Iron Co., Chattanooga, Tenn. The switchboard is an automatic board, and is the third board of its kind in the United States operated by a blind person. It is the first board of its kind in an industrial plant. Miss Rominger has been working ever since Feb. 3, 1958, and her employers, the Siskin Brothers, are very pleased with her work.
Earl Scharry and David Krause are scheduled to attend the next quarterly meeting of the Connecticut Federation at Hartford on April 27. They expect to go into a huddle with leaders of that organization in preparation for the next legislative effort to be made during the coming session of the state legislature.
The 1958 convention of the South Dakota Association of the Blind will be held at the Marvin Hughitt Hotel in Huron on June 13 and 14.
Word comes from Frank Lugiano, President of the Pennsylvania Federation, that a new chapter has been formed in the Easton, Allen town and Bethlehem area and is to be called the Twin County Federation of the Blind. The organization meeting was held on March 23.
The Connecticut Federation, like the Michigan Council, holds four meetings a year, rotating them among the four member chapters. This is a very good arrangement in a state which is small enough so that no real distances are involved. At the last quarterly meeting the following delegates were elected for the Boston convention in July: William Hogan, Bridgeport; Mrs. Alice Lee, Norwalk; Stanley Virgulto, New Haven; David Fichandler, New Haven; and George Cone, Hartford.
From the Milwaukee Sentinel: "Mrs. Marcella Munson of this city is pioneering with the Wisconsin Telephone Company as a blind trainee in switchboard operation. She sums up her philosophy thus: 'None are so blind as those who can not see their chances to help the less fortunate and thereby get their minds off their troubles.'"
A blind Wisconsin lawyer, Mr. Claire Finch, who served a number of terms in the state legislature, was appointed a member of the Wisconsin Board of Tax Appeals in 1952. He has just been reappointed for another six-year term and made Chairman of this Board.
Senatore Kennedy spoke in Indianapolis on March 29, at which time the energetic president of our Indiana affiliate, John Miller, of Crown Point, Ind., obtained an interview and expressed the appreciation of the blind people of his state for the Senator's sponsorship of S-2411.
On March 29 Senator Wayne Morse, during the course of a brief visit in Portland, Oregon, granted an interview to the Legislative Committee of the Oregon Council of the Blind and exhibited a ready understanding of legislation to which that organization called his attention. He had already come out in support of the Kennedy bill and expressed the intention of throwing his support to other legislation which the Oregon Council and the NFB are advocating.
The annual convention of the Montana Association for the Blind will be held in Bozeman, July 11-13. Paul Kirton has been assigned to represent the NFB.
As has been pointed out many times, the argument that adequate disability compensation destroys the incentive to work breaks down completely in the case of blinded veterans. The latest figures show 50.3 per cent are employed, as against something like 6 or 7 per cent of the civilian blind. A breakdown of occupations filled by blinded veterans is being released soon and will show the following: professional, 112; semi-professional, 19; managerial and official, 84; clerical and sales, 210; service occupations, 51; agricultural, horticultural and kindred, 144; skilled, 107; semi-skilled, 135; and unskilled, 118. Total 980.
Mr. Robert N. Marshall retired on December 31, 1957, at the age of 70, after 23 years of distinguished service in the employ of the Ohio state agency. Mr. Marshall, who is himself blind, was a pioneer in the establishment of blind operated vending stands and held a high place in the esteem of the blind people of Ohio.
Dates for the next convention of the Minnesota Organization of the Blind have been announced as May 29, 30 and 31.
Paul Kirton journeyed to Minneapolis to participate in an all-day conference, April 3, with the joint legislative committees of the two Minnesota organizations, devoted to the preparation of a legislative program for the next session of the state legislature.
A new set of instructions for chapters wishing to carry on sales of box candy has been prepared by John Taylor and David Krause. Both have had practical experience and have been very successful in directing this type of project. The little leaflet is entitled "A Sweet Method of Fund-Raising" and is available from this office on request. Address George Card, Box 345, Madison, Wis.
It is reported that, as a result of the wide spread indignation over the granting of a license to Skilcraft by the Michigan Department of Social Welfare, the legislature of that state has just repealed the law which empowered the Department to grant such licenses. It was evidently felt that the Michigan agency had failed to protect the interest of its own blind salesmen by placing its stamp of approval on an invasion by an outside group, which might have resulted in a loss of livlihood by upwards of a hundred blind Michigan citizens.
No one in Texas has taken it upon himself to send the Monitor an account of the state convention of the Lone Star Federation, which was held at the Ben Milan Hotel in Houston on March 22 and 23. From various sources, however, we know that Marcus Roberson was reelected as president of the organization and that Kenneth Jernigan and Lon Alsup were featured speakers. A nostalgic communication from the home-sick Paul Kirton was read while Mr. Alsup was present and there was some amusement occasioned by Paul's references to the warmth and cordiality with which he has been received in other states in view of certain well-publicized pronouncements by Mr. Alsum concerning "interference by outsiders." We have heard rumors that a new chapter has been formed in Amarillo, which raises the number of Lone Star chapters to seven, but we have no details as yet.
One of the most unique and worthwhile projects conducted by any state organization of the blind has been the series of adult summer school sessions sponsored by the Montana Association for the Blind. Many similar adult summer school sessions are held in various states, but this is the only one which is paid for and actually conducted by the organized blind themselves. The dates for the 1958 sessions have been announced as June 15 to July 19. Qualified instructors will be on hand to teach the following courses: Basketry; Braille, Beginning; Braille, Advanced; Cooking; Daily Living; Home Nursing; Household Mechanics; Knitting and Crocheting; Leather craft; Loom Weaving; Orientation; Public Speaking; Sewing; Signature Writing; Typing, Beginning; Typing, Advanced; Vending Stand Operation and Use of Hand Tools. At all times courses will be flexible enough to meet the needs of the individual student.
Miss Eula Shults, beloved sighted teacher at the Arkansas School for the Blind, and active member of the Arkansas Federation of the Blind, will be one of the two teachers directing special training courses to be given next summer at the University of Nevada for the benefit of new teachers of the blind.
From the Nevada Newsletter: "For the past two weeks Mr. George Magers has been attending a Workshop for Administrators of Rehabilitation Programs at Michigan State."
And again: "A bouquet to Mr. Earl Scharry, the legislative analyst on the Washington staff of the National Federation of the Blind, on his ironic article of thanks to Mr. Robert Barnett, the Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind. In reply to Mr. Barnett's column, featuring the word 'Hindsight,' Mr. Scharry suggests that foresight and insight would also be helpful--also deserves high commendation."
The Nebraska Observer contains the following statement by Mr. Harry L. Hines, Director of Services for the Blind:" As a part of the continuing effort of the State Services for the Blind ... of Nebraska, this agency instituted on Oct. 15, 1957, an adjustment and orientation program designed to assist in the proper development of needed adjustment services. The course was completed on Feb. 21, 1958. Eleven people participated in the program. Ten followed it through successfully.. .. The people completing the course made a very remarkable adjustment. We are so completely optimistic about the results of this course of training that we are planning to make it an annual affair...."
From the Ohio Bulletin: "Glenn Hoffman, blind, has left the State Services for the Blind. He is now employed by the Cleveland Society for the Blind to help get locations for vending equipment. Milton Cline, blind, will be the State Supervisor of Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind. William Gregg (better known as Bill), is District Supervisor, having the northern part of the state for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Charles Zack, blind, has transferred from home teaching to rehab counseling in the Cincinnati area.
The White Cane (Washington State) reports that ChiLe now has a law making periodic eye examinations mandatory for both children and adults. These examinations are especially directed toward the detection of glaucoma in its early stages--for which there are now effective controls. The law provides that if any employed person is directed by a physician to take time off from work for the treatment of an eye condition, he must be paid full salary during his absence from work, whether he is employed privately or by the government.
And from the same periodical:" As a result of the increasing number of accidents through the widespread use of the power mower, The National Society for the Prevention of Blindness is advocating that all operators of these mechanical mowers wear safety glasses for the protection of their eyes from flying objects which the fast rotating blades have a tendency to throw back."
Matt Schmidt, blind manager of the Badger Home, in Milwaukee, who has been a Wisconsin delegate at many national conventions, was married to Mrs. Grace Jones a few weeks ago. Matt is a youngster of only 65 but claims he is just old enough to know his own mind.
The North Dakota Association of the Blind, which is one of the smallest of our affiliates, proudly announces that it has succeeded in obtaining 15,000 signatures to a petition asking that the matter of the transfer of the residential school for the blind, from its present isolated situation to the city of Fargo, be placed on the next ballot. Only 10,000 signatures would have been needed.
The Quarterly Report of the South Carolina Aurora Clubs announces the first two legislative successes achieved in what is a relatively new field of activity for that organization. (1) The state income tax law was amended to give blind persons a double exemption, paralleling the federal provision. (2) The installation of vending stands in all parks, institutions and hospitals which are supported, in full or in part, by state money, to be operated by blind or severely handicapped persons, was made mandatory. The Columbia chapter cleared more than $1,000 on a barbecued chicken dinner which it conducted on March 19. Editor Capps pays a glowing tribute to the invaluable help received from sighted members.
In the latest issue of the Missouri Federation Newsletter the state president reports many interesting items. At the last meeting of RITE (one of the two St. Louis chapters) another appropriation of $100 was made for additional organizing in Missouri. $350 was appropriated to prepare a booklet containing the 12 little essays which the Monitor is publishing under the title "Misconceptions." Mrs. Murphey reports personal visits during the month to prospective new chapters at Cape Girardeau and Hannibal, both of which are now flourishing and will become full-fledged chapters in September. She also reports that the new Ozark chapter (Ste. Genevieve) is doing a terrific publicity job--obtaining stories in 16 area newspapers before each of its monthly meetings. A third St. Louis group (colored) will apply for chapter status at the next state convention. Steady progress is being made toward the formation of a credit union.
From the Washington State White Cane: "It was my intention to put across to my audience that those of us who are blind are 'just people.' After my talk, while we were waiting to leave, I was asked by one of the women if I would like to make use of the rest room before leaving. My answer was, 'No, thank you!" But the lady persisted, 'Are you sure?' 'Yes, I am, and I can really tell even though I am blind,' was my reassurance."
"Alexander Scourby has recorded more than two hundred and fifty books for the blind, including three versions of The Holy Bible. His longest recorded work is War and Peace which consists of two hundred and twenty-nine thirty-minute records."
We have always justified our strategy in seeking special legislation for the blind, rather than for all groups of handicapped, on the theory that we thus function as a spearhead--once we have achieved something for our own people it is that much easier for the other groups to use us as a precedent. We are relatively small in numbers and granting us more adequate aid or training costs comparatively little. The soundness of this strategy has been demonstrated many times. The latest example may be found in Florida where a $50 exempt earnings law covering the aged has been adopted on a standby basis--to become active whenever Congress permits.
letter from Pete Roidl, president of the Empire State Association of the Blind, reports that 12 members of the Buffalo chapter plan to attend the Boston convention.
In Florida, a motorist who fails to yield the right of way to a blind person carrying a white cane is liable to a fine of $25 and/or imprisonment for 10 days, but one who interferes with the right of a blind person to bring his guide dog into a restaurant or hotel is subject to a fine of $100 and/or imprisonment for 60 days!
From Norman F. Kuhlmeyer, 233-23rd Ave., San Mateo, Calif.: "We would appreciate receiving the names and addresses of any blind people who are interested in receiving records on Bible subjects. There is no charge made for them. The records may be kept by the persons receiving same and need not be returned unless there is no further use for them. All we ask is to be informed of any change in address, in order that future records may be received promptly...."
Attention Virginians!--On the back of the current Bulletin of the Oregon Council of the Blind appears the following quotation from a speech delivered by Prof. Munford Boyd, of Charlottesville, Va., at the 1956 convention in San Francisco:"... Blindness in both its inescapable and its avoidable consequence is a fact. And then let's ask, what are we going to do about it? The greatest thing we have ever done, are doing and will continue to do, is to organize, join and work with the National Federation of the Blind. To the tenet of this organization that the blind must lead the blind, speaking for them in matters affecting their interest with the voice of primary authority, I subscribe with all the sincerity and enthusiasm of which I am capable. We must not reject the help of others. We need it. But we must reserve to ourselves individually and through our organized channels of expression, the right to say the last word on what is best for us. Where that right is not recognized a legitimate battle front emerges."
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