INK PRINT EDITION
VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the blind--it is the blind speaking for themselves
N. F. B. Headquarters
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in Braille and distributed free to the blind by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, 257 South Spring Street, Los Angeles 12, California
Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California. Subscription rate--$3.00 per year.
EDITOR: GEORGE CARD, 605 South Few Street, Madison, Wisconsin.
News items should be addressed to the Editor. Changes of address and subscriptions should be sent to the Berkeley headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind.
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National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
DEBT OF HONOR
MORE ABOUT THAT UNIVAC OPERATOR
JERNIGAN'S BRAILLE LIBRARY
A MICHIGAN EDITORIAL
By Wanda Haynes
SANTA FE CONVENTION
THE ORGANIZED BLIND--IN THE FREE WORLD, BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN AND UNDER FASCISM
By John Jarvis
A DOWN-TO-EARTH PROGRAM FOR AGRICULTURAL TRAINING IN AFRICA
By Sir Clutha Mackenzie
A NORTH CAROLINA EDITORIAL
By Marie Boring
ONLY FOURTEEN SURVIVE
A BIT OF PRODDING
MICHIGAN COUNCIL PLANS BIG LEGISLATIVE DRIVE
A NEW LOOK AT THE EMPLOYMENT OF THE BLIND IN MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES
By Dr. L.G. Fuchs
CHANGES IN A.B.M. LEADERSHIP
TELEVISION AND THE CRIME WAVE
$35 TAPE PLAYER
KILL THAT UMPIRE!
THAT LONESOME ROAD
By Mary Walton
FROM OUR READERS
THE TRUTH ABOUT THAT V.A. "READING MACHINE"
HERE AND THERE
Every literate blind person in the world today owes a heavy debt of gratitude to Louis Braille. Even those who do not themselves read Braille are beneficiaries of his labor. He gave us a universal medium of communication, without which we would still be passive, inarticulate objects of charity, neglect or exploitation. Self-organization could never have come about. Gabriel Farrell and other present day, agency-oriented historians in our field are very reluctant to admit that little real progress toward the improvement of the situation of blind people was made until the blind themselves organized and began to speak for themselves--but I am convinced that later and more objective chroniclers will accept this as a self evident truth.
Louis Braille did not live to enjoy the recognition and acclaim that he so richly deserved. He spent his life in drab poverty and in almost complete obscurity. We who owe him so much can do nothing to change that, but if, as so many believe, there is some sort of survival of personality and consciousness after death, perhaps we can still make him aware of the depth of our gratitude. In any event, we can demonstrate that gratitude to the living generation of today, and to many generations yet to come, in a most concrete and striking way.
The World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, (of which your NFB is a part), is sponsoring a monument to this great man, in the form of the Louis Braille Memorial Museum, located in the little French village of Coupvray, where he was born a century and a half ago. It will be a world shrine. It will have a full time curator and will be open to the public the year round. As transportation becomes constantly faster, cheaper and more available to more people, a pilgrimage to Coupvray may become a definite possibility for many of us, even though the distance now seems so formidable.
The Louis Braille Memorial Museum will not be a governmental project. It will be a project of the blind people of the world. Because of this it will be far more meaningful and significant. It will be our own tribute to our own great benefactor.
At the meeting of the WCWB Executive Committee last August in Colombo, Ceylon, final details were agreed upon. The well-heeled British, Canadian and American agencies stated that they are prepared to make substantial grants. They anticipate, however, that the readers of their respective Braille magazines will be eager to participate financially.
What kind of showing do you want your national organization to make? That remains to be seen. Those among my fellow members with whom I have discussed this matter agree with me that the major portion of our contribution should not come out of the Federation treasury because most of the money in that treasury has come, in one way or another, from sighted people. This is our project! I think most of us would feel cheated if we were not given the opportunity to express our personal feeling, as blind individuals, toward Louis Braille. I think most of us will be proud and happy to send whatever we can and in that way to become a part of this project.
I am going to open a special account at a Madison bank in which to deposit your contributions, and I will report to you in some detail later. Please don't hesitate because your contribution can only be a small one. When I turn over the money to the World Council, I hope I can explain that it has come from many hundreds--even thousands--of my fellow Federationists. Contributions from chapters will be entirely appropriate because most of our local organizations have earned their money. But I do most devoutly hope that no one will consider that such a chapter gift relieves him of all personal responsibility. Make your checks payable to "Louis Braille Memorial Fund" and send them to me, George Card, Box 345, Madison, Wisconsin, Cash or stamps are also quite acceptable. Even if you are on public assistance, you can surely send a quarter or a dime. No one should deny himself the thrill of satisfaction which will come with the feeling of being a part of this wonderful project. I am starting off this account with my personal check for $25 and I hope this office will be literally snowed under by the volume of your response to this appeal.
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About a year ago we published a brief account of the work of Jim Stephens, of our Albany Chapter, as a blind Univac operator. This subject has recently received widespread publicity in the eastern press. Even the New York Times has featured it. Here is a part of the Times article:
"A 44-year-old Albany blind man, responsible for operating the Thruway's Univac File-Computer, has succeeded where many persons with normal vision might fail....Stephens, who has been with the Thruway since 1956, took over the computer operation last year. The computer processes Thruway toll cards at a rate of 7,000 an hour. At first he fed cards into the machine. Now he is chief programmer for the big machine and he works out the complex patterns the machine follows in solving each of the problems presented by the Thruway staff.
"The computer has to be made ready to accept the road's basic program which involves a total of 13,320 different combinations of toll rates. After basic data are fed into the machine, there are constant variations as information is fed into, and obtained from the machine. The 'program boards' with which Stephens works are complex mazes of wires, and would be confusing to a man with unimpaired sight...."
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From the Independent Forum (North Carolina): "What is believed to be the largest private Braille library in the United States and perhaps in the world, is awaiting shipment from Oakland, California, for the use of Iowa's blind. Kenneth Jernigan, 32-year-old Tennessee-born Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, is owner of the collection, which he began accumulating in his days back at Peabody College in Nashville....
"The 3,000-volume collection--ranging from Shakespeare to science fiction--would cost an estimated $15,000 to replace, the owner said.... The library was built by a lot of patience, money and letter-writing. Some of the books were specially transcribed by hand. Others are discarded books from Braille libraries throughout the nation and the Library of Congress. Still others have come from England, where Braille is printed at much cheaper rates than in the United States. In the collection are all of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets (38 Braille volumes), Tolstoy's essays, Westerns, classics and poetry.... Jernigan said the library will be available to Iowa's estimated 4,000 blind persons through a mail service."
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From the Eye Opener. "'Life,' observed Walter Pitkin, 'begins at forty.' His book on this theme filled a spiritual need for that vast segment of the population that is no longer pushing 40, but is, instead, dragging it. Age, like blindness, comes along without request, and only when viewed superficially denotes a real lessening of the powers of life. Many blind people of our acquaintance have actually begun a life more rich in friendships and with a greater variety of interesting activities than when their eyesight was excellent. The average level of formal education among our sightless brethren is at least as high as the average in sighted society.
"Thanks often to an enforced leisure, many blind people tend to read and think and talk in a more or less well-integrated fashion. Fortunately or not, many of us have time for reflective reasoning and certain items in the environment come again and again into the mental digestive apparatus.
"There can be little doubt that despite courageous efforts by individual blind people with competency in specific fields, many others fail to earn decent livelihoods. There can be no question but that the age-old identification of blindness with helplessness is being replaced with concepts based on facts, but it is a continuing struggle which will have to be waged with undiminished vigor. Programs carried on by some of the agencies for the blind and by some Lions Clubs have made substantial contributions, but it has been the voice of the blind people themselves, in their own democratic organizations, that has had, and is continuing to have, the most profound and socially revolutionary effect. In the ranks of the National Federation of the Blind, the unique membership organization of blind people in the United States, are dedicated, competent and enthusiastic persons from many fields of activity. The amazing growth and effectiveness of the NFB is a tribute to its clear-headed leadership.
"Pursuing, as it does, the development of practical legislative solutions to the problems of the blind, in cooperation with its 45 affiliated state groups, it is rewriting the social status of blind people.... The National Federation is not only a philosophy, it is a way of life--loyal, sagacious and tenacious."
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by Wanda Haynes
A highly successful convention of the Alabama Federation of the Blind opened with a business meeting at the Battle House in Mobile, on Friday evening, November 7. About 100 were on hand from the four chapters--Birmingham, Talladega, Montgomery and Mobile. At a press conference Mrs. Gordon Hardenbergh, of Birmingham, who was completing her term as President, stated that all AFB members were proud of one of the developments which had been a direct outcome of the 1957 convention. This was the establishment of a low-vision optical aids clinic as an integral part of the medical college of the State University by the Department of Ophthalmology. Regular sessions opened Saturday morning with an address by Dr. Bradley Burson, blind nuclear physicist of Lemont, Illinois, followed with a talk by the State Superintendent of Apprenticeship and Training, Department of Labor, of Montgomery. Charles De Long, Home Teacher, Vocational Rehabilitation, of Montgomery, also spoke during this session.
The feature of the afternoon gathering was the annual election of officers, which resulted as follows: President, Mrs. Claud C. Haynes, 1311 Central Drive, Mobile; First Vice-President, Mrs. Gordon Hardenbergh, Birmingham; Second Vice-President, Mr. Ralph W. Chamblee, Boylston; Secretary, Mrs. Burlie K. Dutton, Birmingham, and Treasurer, Mr Paul Etheridge, Mobile.
At the evening banquet Dr. Jacobus tenBroek delivered the principal address. "The blind of America," he said, "suffer from a double handicap--their own lack of sight and society's lack of vision. Of the two it is the social handicap which is by far the more serious barrier to self-expression and productive achievement.... The blind people themselves have known all along that there are jobs in almost every area of activity which can be filled on a competitive basis by blind people if they are given training." In discussing the Kennedy-Baring Bill he told his auditors that "Chief opposition to this legislation has mounted rapidly and angrily among those welfare agencies which have hitched their wagons to the falling star of patronage and protection. They contend that the dependency of the blind, on the one hand, and the custodial function of the agencies, on the other, are permanent and un-alterable and therefore that the goal of self-expression is beyond attainment."
Another banquet speaker was Charles Trimmier, legislator-elect from Mobile County. The talented Mrs. James Owen, Chairman of Arrangements for the convention and local musician and singer, was the soloist at the banquet. A dance followed.
After a devotional service at 9 A.M. Sunday morning, the new officers were installed. The convention came to an end with a legislative luncheon at which John N. Taylor, of the NFB Washington, D.C. office, was the principal speaker. A number of Alabama legislators were present and pledged their full support to the AFB's legislative program.
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(The following letter has just been received from Joe A. Salazar, Publicity Chairman of the 1959 NFB convention. You should also be aware that the Executive Committee, at its St. Louis meeting on November 15, voted to authorize state organizations sponsoring future national conventions, beginning in 1959, to charge a $2 registration fee, in order to lighten the financial burden--which is becoming very heavy because of the increasing size of our national conventions).
Santa Fe, New Mexico, December 9, 1958: "The New Mexico Federation of the Blind is greatly encouraged by the large number of reservation requests coming in daily in anticipation of our national convention next June. Such early arrangements are certainly wise, and we strongly urge others to do likewise. The Publicity Chairman is at your service to supply any information relative to the comfort and enjoyment of delegates during their stay in Santa Fe. Address all such inquiries to Joe A. Salazar, Route 1, Box 210G, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"Delegates are advised that the Stage Coach Motel, which earlier appeared on our list of available hotels, is no longer in operation, due to unforeseen circumstances. The reservation requests directed to this establishment have been transferred to other hotels.
"The convention delegates will be interested in the following facts: The LaFonda will serve as the headquarters hotel. This is truly an elegant hotel occupying almost an entire city block, with several dining rooms and lounges, and with the Santa Fe Railway office in the same building. It is located on the Plaza, the center of the city. Post Office, Cathedral and shopping district are easily accessible. All other hotels are within one to three blocks away from the La Fonda.
"After long and careful consideration it was decided that the Santa Fe Field House would be the most suitable place to hold our convention. It is superbly equipped with facilities of all types necessary to a successful convention. Furthermore, the Santa Fe School Administration was delighted that we should make use of their field house."
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by John Jarvis
(Editor's Note: Those who attended the Boston convention were unanimous in their warm and enthusiastic commendations of the paper delivered by Mr. John Jarvis. of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, who came from London to speak to us. Many of you have suggested that the Jarvis paper appear in the Braille Monitor for the benefit of those who could not attend the last national convention. I think also that some of those who heard it read will be glad of the opportunity to go through it again. It will appear in two parts).
When I began to think seriously about the content of this paper, I soon realized that I was approaching what could well be turned into a most interesting piece of international social research. The time at my disposal, however, only allows me to present quite a superficial picture of the situation as I find it; but I hope that someone with a great deal more time will soon make a much more detailed investigation and a much more thorough exposition of what seems to be a topic full of fascinating possibilities. What I have been able to do is simply to have a look at a few of the varied examples of organizations of the blind at work in the world, and to present these in the hope that members of the Federation may be able to draw some interesting conclusions.
First of all, I feel I must make some reference to the fact that there are still a few countries in which organizations of the blind either do not yet exist or are so weak that they are not in a position to exert more than a slight influence on the development of services for the blind. This is a matter in which I am sure that those of us who belong to much stronger organizations can lend a helping hand whenever our own problems leave us with enough free time to do so, and my friend John Wilson, who is President of the National Federation of the Blind in the United Kingdom, has already taken the lead. He has arranged for individual blind people in such countries to join our Federation as overseas members until their own organizations are strong enough to stand on their own feet, and then for those organizations to enjoy a permanent relationship of affiliation with ours for mutual consultation. This should help substantially in countries like India, where small and isolated groups such as the Blind Men's Association in Bombay, a similar association in Surat and the Blind Person's Association in Calcutta, are in obvious need of support and cannot hope to make much headway in present circumstances, if they continue to go it alone.
As in Great Britain, of which I shall have more to write later in this paper, these little groups are endeavouring to operate in close partnership with the National Association for the Blind, and with the Councils on Blindness which have already been set up in the more developed States of the Indian Union and which have been recommended by the Federal Government for establishment in all the States, Already a number of blind people holding prominent positions in their own organizations occupy equally important seats on the various boards and committees of these State Councils and of the national private agency. Their philosophy at this time is that, only through such partnership can they grapple with the stupendous task of marshalling all available resources, both in finance and in good will, for the social, educational and economic advancement of the blind of India, of whom there are thought to be at least two millions and of whom there may well be many more than that. To go it alone at such a time would seem to be like trying to empty the ocean with a child's toy bucket on the seashore. To operate in a framework of civil war would be criminally wasteful both in time and effort.
To take another example: when I was in Israel last year, and when a Dutch colleague was there just before me, we found some small groups of blind people already organized, but they had not come together into an effective federation which could participate actively and constructively in the planning of services for the blind in that country. What I was very interested to discover in such a situation was that seeing workers for the blind, in the Government and in private agencies, are often aware that in some respects they remain outsiders, regardless of how many years they have worked in our field. My colleague and I, each working independently of the other, have both recommended the setting up of a National Council for the Blind of Israel, and we both agree that such a body will not be complete until the blind themselves can be represented on it. There is still some doubt as to whether the latter are yet in a position to make a real contribution to its work, but when I left I suggested that they should be invited to join the Council as soon as they were well enough organized to be able to elect their representatives by normal democratic process.
It may surprise some of you to know that in quite a substantial number of countries these complex problems of relationship between organizations of the blind and agencies hardly arise. This is because most of the services for the blind are firmly in the hands of the organizations of the blind, which are therefore performing agency functions as well as those of a membership group. One would of course expect this to be the case in countries with any kind of authoritarian form of government, so let us consider a few of these.
On 6 December, 1957, Mr. S. Ivanov, Chairman of the Central Board of the All-Russian Society of the Blind, wrote in response to an enquiry from the National League of the Blind in Great Britain: --
"In each of the republics which together form the Soviet Union, there is a Society of the Blind, engaged in the organization of socially useful work for blind people, in giving them industrial training and in improving their material and living conditions. These societies are voluntary, democratic organizations; their directing organs are elected; and every citizen without sight in the republic in which each of them is situated is a member. These Societies have their own industrial training enterprises, in which blind people are prepared for employment." Mr. Ivanov then goes on to describe the workshops, hostels, housing projects for blind people and their families, libraries and clubs, the amateur choirs, and the music and drama groups--all of them integral parts of the societies of the blind.
In the satellite countries the story is much the same. Most of the services for the blind, for which we should look to Federal or State agencies, or to national or local private agencies, are provided directly by an organization of the blind. The only one of these which I need mention is Czechoslovakia, and there, as if to show how varied the pattern can be, the blind themselves have completely flouted the experience of the rest of the world, and have arranged for their organization to become one section of a much wider Union of the Disabled and, in full knowledge of the attitude of other countries to such an arrangement, they are quite prepared to defend it as the best thing to do in their own land.
Now the last thing I would wish to do would be to hold any brief for iron-curtain socialism, but one is forced to the conclusion that work for the blind has made tremendous strides in those countries since the establishment of their present regimes. Before that time a few private agencies were struggling along, with inadequate finance and scarcely any government support, and if something fairly drastic had not occurred to change the set-up, I doubt very much if the pace would have quickened; indeed I think it might well have taken the best part of a century to achieve what has been done in a decade or so. That is certainly the view of leaders of the blind in those countries, many of whom are old enough to be able to remember just how slowly things were moving before and just how fast they are moving now.
If we turn from the extreme left to the extreme right, the situation is exactly the same, though methods of operation are of course widely different. Senor Jose Ezquerra, Head of the National Organization of the Blind in Spain, (which was organized immediately following the end of the civil war twenty years ago), wrote a most illuminating series of articles in one of their magazines not long ago, in which he listed with scrupulous and almost monotonous care the many ineffective little agencies which had come and gone in the preceding half-century. Now things are very different, and the Spanish blind have a powerful organization of their own, enjoying plenty of backing from church and state, and even conducting schools for blind children, one of the few services which an organization of the blind usually does not undertake even in countries in which the blind themselves take care of most welfare services. It is true that most members of the Spanish Organization are employed in the sale of lottery tickets, or administering the drawing of winning numbers in the Organization's daily lottery, and some will therefore say that they have merely substituted group mendicancy for the individual tin cup to which they were obliged to resort in the old days to keep themselves alive. But the leaders of the organization have much broader vision, and at this moment they are spending substantial sums of money, derived from the lottery, on the establishment of training courses in agricultural occupations, and in wood and metalwork, designed for the new generation of graduates of their schools, whose self-respect has been raised to the level at which they ardently desire something better than begging as their means of livelihood. Anyhow, I'll bet that many of them are the envy of their blind neighbours right next door in Portugal, where work for the blind is in most respects coasting along in very primitive, horse and buggy conditions. The Association of the Blind of Northern Portugal is, for example, only just struggling into being. Its organizing committee is now preparing a draft constitution which shows that it will have to envisage many agency functions if the work is to be done at all.
Here are some of the things which the organization hopes to do, in the absence of any effective governmental or agency support: assistance to its blind members and their families by the creation of clinics, kindergartens, rest homes, permanent boarding homes, vacation centers, dining rooms and canteens, consultative services on legal matters, producer and consumer cooperatives, and services of distribution of assistance in both cash and kind. There will also be prevention services for its members, and the Association will even endeavor to have the Braille system recognized as a medium for the writing of public examinations, and for the signature of legal contracts and other documents. It will also try to secure the placement of the blind in employment compatible with their aptitudes; to set up schools for the blind and for their children, museums for the blind and so on. It will arrange lectures, study visits, cultural gatherings, conventions and exhibitions; and it is hoping to be represented in this year's Porto Fair with a stand from which it can distribute publicity material and sell blind-made goods.
I have described this Portugese effort in some detail because it is the most interesting example I have seen for some time of the state of affairs in a country in which practically everything still remains to be done, and in which an organization of the blind, itself still only a weak and struggling infant, is compelled to try to blaze the trail because no other group is in a position to do so.
Organizations of the blind which perform agency functions are by no means limited to countries with regimes of the extreme left or the extreme right. They are also the recognized instruments for doing the job throughout Scandinavia and Finland, and here again one cannot imagine that agencies for the blind would ever have achieved so much in these progressive little countries of Northern Europe. Their governments would not dream of making changes in state services for the blind without first taking the organizations of the blind into full consultation. Every five years, for instance, a Northern Special Schools Congress meets in one or other of these countries. It includes a very large section for the blind, consisting of the teaching and house staff of all the state schools for the blind, and it is the invariable practice also to invite representatives of the associations of the blind, who come along and join in the discussions on a completely equal footing with the school men. Conversely, the associations of the blind do not hesitate to hold their own conventions on the premises of the state schools.
In Western Germany, too, organizations of the blind are responsible for many of the services, and it seems to me a very happy arrangement, for instance, that the Association of Blind Intellectual Workers should have its office in the high school for the blind at Marburg, and that Dr. Strehl should be chairman of the one and director of the other. He is, incidentally, in full agreement with many of your Federation's aims, and he has stated that the federal, state and local governments in Western Germany would take no action in work for the blind without first enabling the respective organizations of the blind to express their views. Of the few agencies for the blind which also exist, most have representatives of the organizations of the blind on their boards and, as might be expected, the dominant role of the organizations is illustrated in the composition of the West German delegation to the World Council, five delegates being elected by organizations of the blind and only one by teachers and agencies. Thus, no matter is referred to the World Council which has not first been approved for transmission to it by the principal organizations of the blind.
And yet, in spite of all this, I should not like any of my readers to think that I myself should be happy to live in a country in which the organization of the blind was responsible for all, or most of the services. For one thing I should find it very unpleasant to feel that the color of my shirt was an important factor in determining the extent to which I could count on these services to meet my own particular needs. If it were not red enough in the Soviet Union, and in the satellite countries, or blue enough in Spain, I am sure I should be fobbed off with second-rate service, and that the good party man would get the best of the deal. Even in more democratic surroundings, there would, I think, be a very real danger of segregation, and it is significant that blind people from Scandinavia, who have been visiting Great Britain, have on a number of occasions expressed feelings almost amounting to envy after having observed the genuinely friendly atmosphere between the blind and the seeing which pervades my country. In attempting to discover why they feel that way, I am usually brought face to face with the conclusion that so many seeing people play their part in services for the blind, and then tell their relatives and friends about it, that the blind themselves are carried out into society on a wave of interest and good will that simply does not flow in countries in which they operate in conditions of self-sufficiency. Self-help, however effective, is not enough, or so it would appear; and this brings me directly to a consideration of the third category of countries, those in which organizations of the blind and the agencies co-exist and cooperate in varying degree for the performance of tasks which they believe themselves to share.
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by Sir Clutha Mackenzie
It can now be said that the concept of rural training for the country blind of emergent territories has passed from the theoretical to the practical stage.
The International Research and Demonstration Center at Salama in Uganda, although it had been in operation for only nineteen months when I left there at the end of March 1958, had amply demonstrated the soundness of this method of training. Apart from limited cattle-owning tribes, who graze their herds over large areas of poor pasturage, the form of agriculture followed by the majority of tribes in Uganda is ideal for the blind. The holdings are small, from one to ten acres, and are worked by hand. The fact that their huts stand in the midst of their fields and not in village aggregations, makes it easy for the blind to find work right at their doors. Cotton, coffee and, in the North, tobacco, form the chief cash crops, while bananas, maize, millet, sweet potato, ground nuts and beans comprise the chief subsistence crops.
A survey made among the tribes in 1953 showed that in the total absence of any established service from a Society for the Blind, an unusually high proportion of the blind, both men and women, occupied themselves at useful jobs, varying from merely sweeping the compound round the hut to a substantial day's work, more especially among the women. While a few of the blind took full responsibility for cultivating and managing their land, most of them occupied a subordinate place in the family circle and were only given what appeared to the sighted to be the easier tasks, such as weeding well-grown crops, but not being entrusted with sowing, weeding or thinning crops in the early stages.
Our initial plan in Uganda was to admit for rural training, males in the 16-35 age group who had been active, to a greater or lesser degree, on the family land, and who had real prospects of subsequently having land of their own. Ages are usually guesswork in Uganda, and sometimes we strayed outside this range.
Newcomers began on communal work on clearing jungle land and planting crops on common land. During this period they were medically examined, and when necessary went through the process of physical rehabilitation and their eye conditions were attended to. As soon as they were qualified they were promoted to take charge of individual sections on their own responsibility. At the end of the first year the men who had apparently reached the required standard were submitted to tests under outside examiners, and if qualified, were awarded their certificates as capable cultivators. A second series of tests took place two months later, and a third series, three months after the second. We who are farmers know only too well the tremendous variations in climate, soils, and types of farming and agriculture, not only throughout the world, but in one's own country. The Uganda experience is but one variant of a vast range. All the same, we believe that similar prospects and similar results offer themselves in many parts of the emergent countries. It is essential that before beginning a rural program a detailed survey should be made of the existing life led by the country blind, in order to find out the nature of the jobs the blind have discovered for themselves on their own initiative. The nature of the training should be based on what these investigations reveal.
Among the deductions so far made at Salama are the following:
1. The concept is itself sound, provided that the trainee has family land which he can cultivate on his return home or can obtain land of his own.
2. One year's course, uninterrupted by home leave (two plantings and two harvests), is ample for the better grade of trainees, particularly those who were cultivators before their loss of sight or who had done some agriculture during their years of blindness.
3. From 18 months to two years will apparently be required by several types of trainees: (a) a number of the 16-19 age group who have had little practical experience of cultivation and who have suffered from the ravages of malnutrition and neglect prior to entry; (b) some trainees of less intelligence or keenness; and (c) some of the older men who require an initial period of medical or physical rehabilitation before they can get down to hard work.
4. Apart from the successful trainees there is, of course, the wasteage, those who are returned home for reasons of ill-health (chiefly epilepsy, leprosy), or old age, because they have too much sight or have vision sufficiently improved while at the Centre: and those who have grown so accustomed to the lazy life of just sitting about that they cannot change. In addition, there are some good trainees, but further investigation of their backgrounds has suggested that they are better suited, usually because of lack of land, to attend the Trade Training Centre.
5. The system of promoting a trainee to specific control of his own section as soon as he had passed through his elementary training convincingly proved its effectiveness in stepping up his keenness, sense of competition and responsibility. I would, however, criticize my own earlier decision to make these individual sections only one-third of an acre in area. Experience suggests that in future these sections should be double or treble this size. One-third of an acre makes too small a demand upon the trainees working capacity, especially as one-third of the section has always to be resting under the rotational system followed in Uganda.
6. There seems always to be a tendency on the part of sighted staff to allot to sighted labor jobs which the blind can do quite well themse'ves. We have had experience of this at Salama in. Such tasks as clearing rough ground of its original jungle growth; clearing away and carting this growth when cleared; and putting in divisions between sections consisting of iron standards carrying a single wire of No. 8 gauge. The results of this are bad, chiefly in that the notion that certain work is beyond his powers is confirmed in the trainee's mind. All possible work on the place must be done by the blind. It takes a little enterprising thought on the part of sighted staff to work out ways and means, but resort to sighted labor is often simply taking the line of least resistance. If the blind men have difficulty in locating the spot to which small trees are being dragged for burning, the supervisor can place one of his blind men there, clanging a note on his hoe, or similarly at the truck which is carrying away the lighter growth. The blind man has to do all these jobs for himself back on his own land-and he can do them perfectly well. The secondary injury this policy does is in the steady increase in the amount and cost of sighted labor which, unwatched, it brings about.
7. Another tendency, which has to be resisted on a rural centre, is that of setting too high a standard in living conditions. Kind visitors will suggest that it would be nice to have a dhobi to do the trainees' washing. So it would be but the trainees would then not want to wash their clothes when they get back home. Others suggest it would be an improvement were the men supplied with knives and forks and spoons, and sheets on the beds, in European fashion, but the men do not have these things in their own homes and one of the main aims of the training is not to disturb their contentment with life as they live it at home.
8. The value of indigenous music as a recreation has been shown, a voluntary, after-hours activity. The Salama band quickly gained proficiency and has carried out a dozen outside entertainments and radio broadcasts. Sports have been developed, but could be carried a good deal further. The hot-hours-of-the-day activities, classes in rope-making and simple rural basket-ware and agricultural lectures, are other popular compulsory variants, while voluntary classes in Braille, general knowledge and English, are well attended.
9. The principle of promoting the more able blind men as team leaders, and from among the first group of these leaders selecting two for probationary and then permanent appointment as demonstrators, has proved most successful. These two demonstrators had both had higher education before their loss sight. They now play an important part on the staff, and one of them is of a calibre which may carry him further.
10. The important changes from traditional methods, taught to the trainees, is the simple practice of planting their crops in spaced rows, instead of broadcasting them. This not only makes thinning and weeding easier for a blind man to manage, but is better agriculture. In addition, they learn the value of mulching the growing crops, of taking anti-erosion measures, of combating diseases, etc. The spacing of drills and of plantings is controlled simply by using a long garden line which the trainee makes himself from raw sisal. He knots it every foot; and this gives him ample marking for the distances between plants and drills.
11. Although we had been in operation only 19 months when I left Uganda, we had made a beginning with our re- settlement service. This had dealt so far with such matters as arranging grants of land from local African governments, the rebuilding of houses, and the arranging for the admission of the blind men's children to school. A beginning had been made, too, with the establishment of voluntary funds in each district for the re-settlement of the men from that district. Time did not permit of my visiting the men who had left Salama within the six months previous to my departure, but I hope my successor will be able to do this and to report on the extent to which our trainees have become consistent and thorough cultivators.
12. Provided the Uganda scheme is kept simple, down-to-earth and hard-working, there is no reason why it should not continue to be successful.
The following appear to be fundamental points to be borne in mind in the giving of rural training if such centres are to yield sound results.
A. The need to study closely the actual position of a complete local group of the rural blind before formulating plans for a training centre. Over the years, as the need and practicability of rural training became evident, I have found the necessity for this step. In few emergent countries do governments or even the established societies for the blind know the real facts as to how their blind people live. They have impressions--that is all. Nor is it easy to make these sample surveys. Often, when a government has organized such a survey for me, I find that all it succeeds in doing is to round up a useless lot of ingrained beggars in an urban area, far from representative of the truly rural blind. The best results have been achieved when reliable friends or voluntary organizations have organized the assembly of the blind in a typical rural area. The interviewing and interpreting may prove a long process, involving spending several days out in the villages and sharing their primitive life, but the process is full of fascinating interest and yields rich rewards. I shake each blind person by the hand, not so much as cordial welcome, but to ascertain immediately whether he or she is an active, up-and-doing person, with work-worn hands and firm muscles, or is one of the idle and depressed type. Frequently an obvious worker will deny that he does or can do anything at all, his reason being that he fears that his tax exemption will be removed or that the government will interfere with him in some other way. In the end, either he admits he works or the onlookers will give the show away with a burst of laughter.
B. The need to disturb their cultural pattern to the minimum by the nature of the course, i.e., avoidance of giving them more than the very minimum of literary education and avoiding familiarizing them with urban standards of living.
C. It is strongly suspected that in a number of emergent areas a fairly high proportion of blind children do not reach maturity. They are often gravely underfed; no great care is exercised in enabling them to fight their way out of attacks of dysentery, colds, influenza, measles, etc. Of 67 finally accepted rural trainees admitted to Salama, 39 lost their sight under the age of thirteen and 28 afterwards. This latter group are usually neglected by the average society for the blind in the emergent countries. Nevertheless, this group is the one which can be most easily, cheaply and satisfactorily rehabilitated. Children from the schools for the blind should always pass on to rural training centers not later than the age of fifteen. Otherwise we find ourselves continually faced with the old problem of the child who has generated a contempt for manual work and has ambitions of a ruinously expensive kind. It is best, too, that country children should have their primary education in a rural school with a curriculum of a distinctly country character, leading up to rural training. In many, if not most of the emergent areas, women work in the fields almost as much as men do.
D. To see that rural training centres are placed definitely in rural surroundings where the blind will not be influenced by urban habits or ambitions.
E. To avoid interference with their normal religious convictions. A warm tribute must be paid to the Christian missions in many emergent countries for the splendid part they have played in starting schools for the blind. Nevertheless, it should be the clear policy of the future that attendance at training centers does not involve interference with the religion of the trainee. Otherwise the best types among the blind may not attend, nor this service to the blind develop its full scope.
F. A re-settlement and after-care system must be built up by the organization for the blind which gives rural or any other type of training. Its purpose is to see that each blind person is adequately settled back in his rural surroundings and receives assistance in the solution of the odd problems which may present themselves in the coming years.
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by Marie Boring
In my observations of publicity concerning work with the blind citizens of North Carolina, I have often found myself wondering what the ordinary man on the street must think. It has occurred to me that, if my information came exclusively from the radio, television and newspapers, I would be likely to believe that blind persons belong to a special class of people who are cared for by the Lions Clubs and a highly specialized state agency. I think I would believe that these blind citizens had but to extend their hands and receive anything which they might need. From questions which have been put to me by friends among the general public and by employers whom I have approached, I feel certain that this is the impression which many persons in our state have received.
Very recently someone sent me a clipping from one of our western newspapers. Though I certainly would not presume to deny any of the claims made in the article concerning the work which is being done on behalf of blind persons in that area, I must object to such publicity on the grounds that only a small part of the true picture is given. Here is a typical example of the sort of glowing statistics which are fed regularly to the North Carolina public. From the Asheville Citizen, Friday, October 10: "The North Carolina Commission for the Blind," said Mr. H. A. Wood, its Executive Director, "has led the nation in its rehabilitation program. In the 1956-58 biennium, it placed 713 blind persons in jobs, ... earning an average of $27.06 per week." I shall not presume to question the high figure quoted by Mr. Wood, though I might be tempted to ask just where all these persons are employed. I will, however, state that this is only a part of the story. Mr. Wood failed to tell his public that there are hundreds of blind persons who are still unemployed and that there are misconceptions which are still barring many of us from the kind of jobs for which we are trained. He failed to point out that persons are forced to accept employment in sheltered workshops and marginal vending stands, with little or no opportunity for initiative and little or no hope for advancement.
In such newspaper publicity we often find statistics on the amount of money expended for public assistance to blind citizens, the number of blind persons receiving such assistance, how many families the case worker helped in personal adjustment problems, how many blind persons were afforded recreational activities, how many were given library and radio services, etc. These figures are always very impressive. But such inspired articles never publicize how difficult it is for blind persons to live on an average monthly public assistance grant of, say, $44.
Both the Lions Clubs of North Carolina and our State Commission for the Blind deserve recognition for the work they have done in behalf of the blind citizens of our state. On the other hand, if these services are to expand and if blind persons are to be aided in becoming independent, self-sustaining citizens, is it not reasonable to suppose that both the public and our legislators will be more generous if they are given the complete picture? No blind citizen in North Carolina would say that our program, however it may be rated by the statisticians in Washington, is the best of all possible programs. There is much to be done. It is my humble opinion that our state agency spends so much time placing before the public its shining deeds that there is little time left for selling the public its true product--the blind themselves, their problems, and their potentialities.
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One of the features of the 1958 annual convention of the Ohio Council of the Blind, held at Canton last October, was a lobby display of the sound gauges which the Timken Roller Bearing Company has devised for the use of its blind employees. These gauges have been patented but the Timken Company is ready to make them available to any other industrial enterprise where they would make possible the employment of blind workers.
The remarkable record made by blind workers at the Timken plants has been widely publicized in the past, not only by the Timken Company itself, but by alert employment specialists and by the National Federation. We used photographs of blind workers operating the sound gauges in our 1949 White Cane Week folder. Douglas Valentine, of Toledo, has employed colored slides showing blind Timken workers in his various speaking engagements. Unfortunately, very few other employers have displayed any interest in the sound gauges--although full utilization of them could make hundreds of industrial jobs feasible for blind workers.
At the close of World War II more than 40 blind workers were on the Timken payroll. It is a little sad to have to report that only 14 now remain, but the Timken Company is emphatic in its statement that this reduction has not been due to any lack of productivity on the part of these workers. Those who have been dropped have been, in large part, victims of automation.
A representative of the Timken Company spoke during one of the sessions of the Ohio Council convention and reported that the records show there was little lost time due to sickness, or from any run-of-the-mill excuses. Not a single serious accident to a visually handicapped worker has occurred during all these years. It has not been necessary to discipline any visually handicapped worker for poor performance or inattention to the job. In the area of participation in the suggestion system of the Company, visually handicapped workers have submitted a total of 54 suggestions--19 of which have been accepted and awards made for them. One individual (George Holben, of Canton) submitted 30 out of the 54 and, of these 30, 8 were accepted. The accepted suggestions were in the areas of general improvements on machines, methods of handling products and safety. As to production records--on the electronic sound gauge--one visually handicapped operator will produce between 5,000 and 6,000 pieces per eight-hour day, which is sufficient to keep two sighted inspectors busy.
In spite of all this, however, the speaker admitted, under questioning from the floor, that the Timken Company has made no effort to find other jobs in its plants to which blind workers, displaced by automation, could be transferred. He said the Timken Company is a hard-boiled corporation and there had been no element of philanthropy in the hiring of blind workers during the period of extreme labor scarcity at the end of the last war.
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(Below is a form letter which John Taylor has sent out to each of the 12 Civil Service Regional Offices, as well as to the branch offices in Alaska, Honolulu, Panama Canal Zone and Puerto Rico.)
Dear Sir: On October 13th, the United States Civil Service Commission announced an amendment to its classification covering one-and two-position telephone switchboards. The amendment will admit blind persons to the examination for the first time. Under date of November 28th, the Commission distributed new standards for these classifications, PES-1627R1.
"The blind throughout the country are vitally interested in this new opportunity and in order for us to advise our members, will you please provide me with the following information:
"(1) Does your region currently have an open examination for telephone switchboard positions?
"(2) If the answer to question No. 1 is yes, please supply me with six (6) copies of the announcement and amendment.
"(3) Does your region have an examination covering the GS-1 Trainee position as well as the GS-2 and GS-3 positions?
"(4) If your region does not have an open examination covering these positions, when do you anticipate opening such an examination?
"...Answers to these questions will contribute materially to the success of our efforts to broaden employment opportunities for the blind. Yours very truly, John N. Taylor, Chief, Washington Office, NFB."
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Perhaps no NFB affiliate has taken on a more ambitious legislative program this year than the fast-growing Michigan Council of the Blind. (1) It is proposing a sweeping reorganization of public assistance, its bill being modeled on the Nevada law. Where need is found to exist, it shall be presumed to be not less than $90 a month. Legal responsibility of relatives and the lien law to be abolished. Permissive property holdings to be liberalized. (2) A separate and independent plan for partially self-supporting blind to be established--with the California law as the model. (3) A minimum amount to be withheld from the gross income of stand operators and no withholding at all from those with annual incomes of less than $1,500. (4) The maintenance of an effective registration of the blind, with adequate cross-referrals. (5) Compulsory pass-on of all increases in federal reimbursement.
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by Dr. L.G. Fuchs
(Editor's Note: We are indebted for this article to the author, whose address is 53 St. James Road, Sutton, Surrey, England. He describes a single approach to the problem of employment of the blind in industry. He has followed up this approach and has himself been a training officer in a large radio manufacturing company. He particularly stresses, however, that the approach here discussed is only one of the possible methods to intensify the employment of the blind in unsheltered occupations.)
Employment of the blind in considerable numbers in open industry in the United States and in Britain only started during the Second World War, while in other European countries, notably in Germany, it had started during the First World War. Quite early the agencies for the blind adopted the policy of using the services of placement officers to press this kind of employment. It is their task firstly to "sell" the idea of employing blind people to employers, then to carry out surveys to determine which jobs can be performed by blind persons. Finally their duties should also entail the introduction of the blind employee into his new job and, in some instances, training him in it. This, method does not appear to have met with unqualified success, if success is measured by the number of blind persons placed in industry. ... By now a much larger number of blind people should have been employed in industry. Yet the main concern of many agencies seems to be only to increase the number of their placement officers.
The approach to the employment problem which is reported here constitutes only one of the possible ways of achieving the desired goal i.e., to place the greatest number of blind people in industries in which they can be self-supporting, everyone in accordance with his abilities and experience. The aim should be to place all those who want to compete with ordinary, sighted workers, including a large number of those who at present can only find work under sheltered conditions. In addition to the approach through the placement officer, (who assuredly has his place in the total plan of campaign to achieve the above goal), the services of blind training officers should be offered to large manufacturing corporations for the express purpose of training blind employees.
The selection of suitable manufacturing firms is crucial to the success of this policy and to the success of the individual blind training officers. To begin with they should be firms which work on the principle of mass production, where much of the work does not require close visual discrimination for its performance....This, incidentally, does not mean that blind persons cannot perform work where visual discrimination of various degrees is required, but it is beyond the purpose of this article to delineate the possible extent of work on which blind persons can compete....
These training officers should themselves be blind persons, not partially sighted, with useful remnants of sight. This point is stressed because some agencies frequently follow a policy of employing either fully-sighted or partially-sighted persons as placement officers, holding that blind persons are not able to act in this capacity. As a matter of fact totally blind persons will in all probability be more successful as placement officers and training officers because their demonstrations are more convincing.
The personality of the blind men who go into this new venture as training officers is also very important. They must be of the right calibre to join a training or personnel department of large manufacturing organizations in an advisory or supervisory capacity. They ought to be well educated, but willing and eager to learn, keen to teach others, with imagination and a spirit of adventure. Exploring a large industrial plant offers both excitement and adventure. They should be physically mobile, i.e., capable of moving about a large plant without sighted assistance. They must be men who are ready to take their coats off to work themselves as machinists or assemblers at a moment's notice, to investigate a job, to get the "feel" of what it involves, so that they can prove to others in a simple and convincing way that the operation can be performed by a blind person. They must be men who make easy contact with all kinds of people....
When discussing the job with the personnel director, the training officer should suggest the following:
(1) Investigating, not merely surveying, the employment possibilities for the blind in the organization. The investigation should include performance of the jobs by the blind trainer. (2) Developing suitable training methods. (3) Issuing reports (which should not only deal with the developing of methods for the blind, but for all workers). (4) Establishing liaison between all departments interested in blind employees. (5) Performing internal (possibly also external) public relations work on behalf of the employment of the blind, by doing everything possible to convince all levels of the factory community that it is desirable and economic for the organization to employ blind personnel. (6) Advising management on the formulation of personnel policy designed to: (a) develop blind persons as self-reliant and efficient employees, (b) recruit, (c) select, (d) employ, (e) train, (f) keep in long-term employment blind personnel able to compete on equal terms with their sighted fellow workers....
Experience has proved that there are some definite advantages to the corporation which employs a blind person as training officer, and these should be stressed in the pre-employment interview....These "selling points", (which, to my knowledge, have never been mentioned before in the attempts to sell blind labor to industry), are important. The blind training officer will become yet another specialist on mass production. By bringing his motion-mindedness to bear on problems of job lay-out and methods of training, and by employing his three-dimensional way of feeling round tools, machines and layouts by touch, he is capable of advising on improvements in design and method....His approach, designed to suit the blind manual worker, will highlight the correct methods of manual work for the sighted.
Employing and training the blind in a corporation may not remain a full-time job, once the initial investigations have been concluded and the employment plan is fully working. This will, of course, depend as much on the total number of blind employees a corporation will be able and willing to take on as on the speed at which methods of production and type and fashion of products change in a particular organization.
After several years of concentrating on establishing the employment of the blind, it may be both feasible and desirable that the blind training officer be integrated as an instructor, lecturer, discussion leader and administrator in the corporation's executive development programs and supervisory training plans. By then the blind training officer should have gained a deep insight into the methods of production of his corporation as well as a unique shop training. He will have moved through all the departments of the corporation and acquired a wide knowledge of the executives and supervisors employed, most of whom he will have met and will have worked with as a part of his liaison, public relations and training duties.
A blind training officer on the permanent staff of a corporation, working from the inside, so to speak, has advantages, (from the stand-point of greater employment for the blind), which the traditional way--that of working from the outside through the mediation of an agency placement officer--does not possess. The training officer is on the spot, he is "there", when vacancies occur. He knows his organization, its ways and methods of doing things. He knows whom to contact when he wants to find an opening, whom to persuade, whom to convince with a trial run performed by himself on a machine. Through his liaison work he can bring together the experts required to solve a problem which might otherwise preclude the employment of blind workers. Because he knows his organization, he knows the exact requirements for which to look in the candidates for the job. This should lead to higher standards in the men employed and to greater satisfaction on both sides, the employing corporation and the blind persons on the jobs.
The blind training officer's first loyalty belongs to his corporation. When he selects blind workers he will make sure that only persons suitable for the job will be employed. His insistence on a high potential in the calibre of the blind workers he selects may conceivably slow down the taking on of blind workers for a time but in the long run it will serve the best interests of both the employer and the blind employee. The agency's placement officer's first loyalty belongs to his agency. His success will be judged by the number of blind persons he has actually placed. For this reason he has in the past frequently placed persons who were unsuitable for the jobs and who failed. A corporation is unlikely to employ additional blind workers once it has been disappointed.
Finally the training officer will feel free to choose his man from among those blind persons who are most forthright and independent, but who, because of their independent attitude, are not always favored by the agencies.
The policy outlined above was adopted on the writer's advice at three of the plants of a large engineering firm in Britain. This policy has certainly been one of the important factors which have resulted in this organization employing today the largest number of blind men and women in any single industrial organization in Britain.
The principle of the blind training officer on the permanent staff of an organization can, of course, be adapted to areas of employment other than those in industry. No reason becomes apparent why it should not work with similar success in big commercial business organizations, thus opening the doors of large offices to the well-trained blind office worker.
Business executives who are aware of their social responsibilities within a democratic society, or who really believe that business organizations should also serve a need of the community in which they are situated, and that one of the services they must render that community is to employ a cross section of the population, will, it is felt, be prepared to listen sympathetically to blind men expounding this policy. A blind man embarking on it must be sure of his ground. This time it is not a matter for the executive to weigh whether or not to employ one or two blind people. Any corporation can carry those, if necessary as passengers, if they should not turn out as well as the placement officer thought they might. This time it is a decision which involves money, prestige, time, floor space and last but certainly not least, all kinds of attitudes toward the blind and beliefs about them. One who seeks staff employment as a blind training officer should realize that his own success will depend on how good his management will find his advice....
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A few days after he decided to accept an invitation to join the NFB staff, John Nagle, President of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts, wrote to Dr. tenBroek, in part:
"Last Saturday afternoon I called a meeting of the Executive Committee of the ABM. I read my resignation. I also read Jim Callahan's resignation as First Vice-President. The latter would have succeeded me as President but found he had too many other commitments to permit him to take on this responsibility.
"Anita O'Shea, whom you will remember as the Mistress of Ceremonies at the Springfield Anniversary, was Second Vice-President. She became First Vice-President upon Callahan's resigning, and there-fore becomes President upon my resigning. She is capable, intelligent, and has the ability to run the ABM as it should be run--with a strong, guiding hand. Newt Ottone went back on the Board as First Vice-President and will be of great help to Anita. Kay Black, who is just finishing her second term as President of Boston, was elected Second Vice-President...
"Ginny will go to Washington this week-end to find an apartment. Will try to move as soon as possible in December. Am trying to wind up business and other activities here and find it not simple. I have a meeting of the Advisory Board of the Division Wednesday and will resign to the Governor afterward. Will recommend my successor."
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A radio comedian recently quipped: "A child who has reached the age of 16 and has not yet killed either of his parents is coming to be regarded as backward."
Excerpt from an article which appeared in Newsweek, October 13, via the November Braille Mirror:
"Psychiatrist and author Frederick Wertham says: 'I have been working on this problem in clinics and private practice. Why does a child commit a violent act? Not only because of impulse, but also because of rationalization to do it--TV supplies the rationalization. The non-TV-affected child has compassion and an awareness of suffering; the TV-affected child has a callousness, a lack of understanding. There is moral and emotional harm.'
"From Judge Frank J. Kronenberg, President of the New York State County Judges Association: 'I believe that television is an instrument of intense pressure that convinces the immature mind that violence is an accepted way of life. It is a subtle form of American brainwashing. The fatal consequences will be best known by posterity. Hour after hour, simply by the flick of a switch, a child can see a swiftly-flowing panorama of human misery, despair, homicide and thievery. Exposing children to such violence can be compared to taking children to public tortures and hangings in medieval times.'
"James V. Bennett, Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, writes: 'The increasing number of prisoners, young and old, whose crime closely parallels what they have seen on television or where the methods used show they committed a crime similar to something they saw on television is a matter of increasing concern to me.... The worst of these programs are those that blueprint some recent offense that actually occurred and can be easily imitated. The impressionable, maladjusted and rebellious young person sees these and re-enacts them, believing he can avoid the mistakes that resulted in the misfire which permitted the producer to claim his show proves crime does not pay. We need parents who don't look upon TV as a built-in substitute for parental guidance. We also need people who will protest and protest, protest again and again, to stations, sponsors, public officials, radio commissioners, magazines and others against such programs."
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In a recent letter to Secretary Flemming, of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, George Keane, of the Brooklyn Industrial Home for the Blind, emphasized legislative proposals on which we all seem in agreement. While we are glad to see this stress on areas of agreement, it is a little amusing, when we remember what really happened in 1948 and 1950, to find this spokesman for the American Association of Workers for the Blind claiming primary credit for the enactment of the $50 earned income exemption amendment. Many readers will remember only too well that agencies first opposed, and later were lukewarm toward this amendment and were perfectly willing to settle for a highly unsatisfactory, watered-down compromise. It was the NFB alone who fought successfully for the restoration of the original language of the amendment after there had been debilitating alterations. The agencies had been willing to accept permissive legislation and individually determined eligibility. Mr. Keane wrote, in part:
"...There are vast areas of our country where the lack of service must be appalling for all categories of disability. I was deeply impressed by several of the speakers who had the courage, despite the need in the field which they represented, to indicate the overriding need for joint planning and thinking throughout the whole field of health, education and welfare....We believe certainly that the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation can and should expand its program of professional training for rehabilitation workers, either through university settings--which is the present tendency--or through specifically organized programs of training in the various fields where lacks are felt. We know that this is already a part of its thinking and planning, and hope that it can be accelerated....
"...May I bring to your attention some thoughts which we in the American Association of Workers for the Blind have had on the possibility of improving programs already in effect for blind persons throughout the United States....We believe that vocational rehabilitation and the incentive to work are expressed in many of the existing laws.... Three areas, however, need to be further studied and improved:
"First, because blindness is a very severe disability and occurs with such frequency in the older age brackets, public assistance has become not only an absolute essential for this group, but is in fact not a temporary measure for them, but unfortunately, in too many cases, a permanent way of life. In 1950 the AAWB joined with many other organizations in amending Title X of the Social Security Act (aid to the blind) to exempt the first $50 of earned income for a blind recipient of public assistance before his established budget would be affected. We proposed this measure then with the expectation and the sincere hope that it would create an incentive for blind persons to attempt to earn as much as they could to meet their own needs. This is a complex subject but we do believe that it has had this effect to some extent. We are convinced however, that incentive could be encouraged, spurred, accelerated, if this exemption were not a fixed Sum altogether, as at the present $50, but a planned sliding scale of income which would reduce the grant-in-aid only to that extent which would continue to maintain the incentive. We have, therefore, proposed through H. R. 5129 and H.R. 695, some changes in Title X which are in effect more vocational rehabilitation than public assistance. It is our hope that these two House bills may be joined and that Mr. King's bill, H.R. 5129, may be re-written to contain the sliding scale of incentive exemptions of 50 cents on a dollar of earnings proposed by the Jenkins bill, H.R. 695, and may otherwise continue to include, some of the other exemptions now expressed in the measure. All work for the blind, as far as I know, agrees that this change is essential. This includes not only the American Association of Workers for the Blind, but the Blinded Veterans Association, the National Federation of the Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind. While I am speaking now without having discussed with any of these organizations the authority to make this statement, I have no doubt of their willingness to join me in making it.
"Equally true is our unanimous feeling about the second subject. We have always hoped that at some time Old Age and Survivors' Insurance and Disability Insurance might replace much of what now requires Public Assistance (grants-in-aid to the blind); and in 1954 we asked Congressman Anfuso, of Brooklyn, to propose a disability insurance clause as an amendment to Title II of the Social Security Act. You are, I know, fully familiar with the discussions that went forward at that time, and the final passage of the Disability Act amending Title II. We were very unhappy about this amendment, for we felt that it was not, in fact, an insurance measure, and that it was based on two erroneous concepts: first, that an arbitrary age, in this case 50 years, could be set for the point of eligibility for disability benefiis. It was our sincere hope then that the Congress would make benefits available at the time of onset of the disability, and we believe that a further amendment is required changing this provision of the law. We agreed in part with the second phase to the extent that we felt that the disability applicant for benefits must submit to some kind of rehabilitation planning, but we were thoroughly discouraged when this was tied to the eligibility of the applicant to continue to receive benefits. We sincerely felt that the right to benefits should be absolute and should not be affected by any provision involving [compulsory] rehabilitation. The difficulty of even interpreting such phrases as 'gainful and substantial employment', in terms of the standard of life of the human being who becomes disabled, was self-evident, and has become a very real problem to those charged with the responsibility of analysis and interpretation. We believe that this should be changed and that Title II should be further amended so that benefits for which the applicant is eligible shall be irrevocable as long as the disability lasts, regardless of whether the applicant returns to gainful employment and regardless of the amount of earnings which he is is then capable of. To accomplish this, we intend to propose some revisions to the proper authorities before the new Congress sits. It is our sincere hope that the Department of Health, Education and Welfare will be interested and helpful in the development of this new legislation.
"A third and equally important item on which all work for the blind is united in interest and understanding is the specific provisions of the Rehabilitation Law concerned with special opportunity for employment of blind persons through vending stands. We sincerely believe that the original authors of the measure and its later amendments intended that this mandate upon Federal bureaus, departments and agencies, as it related to buildings and properties under their control, was specific and mandatory in terms of making the primary opportunity for work available to blind persons. Some of the departments of the Government have been issuing regulations and interpretations which undermine this purpose altogether, and it is our hope that after a sufficient length of time has passed to give all departments of Government a chance to reorganize regulations, so that it may not be necessary for us to plan legislative action, we would want to review this with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and, if necessary, request its help if further legislation is indicated....
"Finally, while there are many areas of common interests and understanding and agreement in our field of work for the blind, there are also some areas in which we do not agree or in which there are such differences of opinion that we cannot approach the problems with unanimity. We think that this is a healthy situation and that we are likely in the end to find solutions which will be in the best interests of blind persons, despite the fact that in the course of finding the solutions we may appear to be seeking different goals...."
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Science for the Blind, Haverford, Pennsylvania, sends us this announcement:
"Our new tape player is a dual-track, single-speed machine. This machine plays only. Thus there is no danger of accidental erasure of valuable tapes by the listener. The price is $35 including shipping. It plays any size reel up to seven inches at 3 3/4 inches per second. Four hours of listening time may be contained on a single seven-inch reel using the new ultra-thin mylar tape. Two hours of continuous playing may be had. Then the tape can be turned over to listen to another two hours in the reverse direction. Most readers use the three-hour variety of tape, as this tape is easier to handle.
"The frequency response is adequate for speech, 100 to 6,000 cycles per second. The tone quality is comparable to the Talking Book and, if the tape has been properly recorded, the noise level is very low. The controls are easy to operate. There is a combined on-off switch and volume control, as well as an easily operated lever for starting and stopping the tape. The tape is easily threaded, with a little practice. The machine has a fast rewind feature so that a reel of tape may be rewound quickly, if desired. There is also a provision for advancing the tape somewhat faster than the listening speed, which makes it convenient for locating sections of the tape. The case measures about 15 inches square and is about 8 inches high. The player is self-contained, operates on 115 volts 60 cycles, producing sufficient volume to adequately fill a good-sized room. The weight is about 15 pounds, which makes it easy to carry.
"About four years ago T. A. Benham, professor of physics at Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, started a recording service on tape called Science for the Blind, which is sponsored by the Philadelphia Association for the Blind and the Pennsylvania Home Teaching Society for the Blind. For several years magnetic tape has been discussed as a medium for recording material for the use of the blind, to supplement the Talking Book disc recordings. It has been continually argued that blind people cannot handle tape satisfactorily and that tape players are too expensive. Despite these arguments, volunteers continue to record on tape and blind people have had to spend a hundred dollars or more to avail themselves of the service. For many years Mr. Benham has felt that an inexpensive tape player could be made available to those blind people who desired to listen to the ever-growing collection of material recorded on tape. Several times a tape player seemed just around the corner, but each time something happened to delay its realization. Now, however, the machine is ready for distribution.
"The low price of $35 including shipping was made possible only through the generosity and cooperation of many people. The Library of Congress donated its discarded model S Talking Book machines from which case, speaker and certain usable parts were salvaged. Viking of Minneapolis made the tape transport mechanism available at the lowest possible figure. The General Electric Company donated the transistors that were used in the amplifier. The Philadelphia Association for the Blind donated surplus parts that were left over from previous electronic contract jobs. Perhaps most important, all of the labor required for salvaging, collecting parts and remaking the units, was contributed by friends in the Philadelphia area. It is felt that, with the experience gained from this venture, a tape player can be produced through normal channels for about the same price. This will certainly be true for as long as the model S cases are available. These discarded model S machines may still be sent to the Philadelphia Association for the Blind, 20 East Herman Street, Philadelphia 44, Pennsylvania, for conversion into tape players.
"Anyone who wishes to order a tape player for the use of the blind should make a check out for $35 to Science for the Blind and mail it to Professor T.A. Benham, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania. Each machine comes with a short written explanation of its operation, as well as a small reel describing how to use it in greater detail."
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From Viewpoint (Oklahoma): "Members of the Oklahoma Federation of the Blind gathered in Tulsa on the 17th of October for the fortieth annual convention, which was held in the Alvin Plaza Hotel. Those attending heard reports during the Saturday sessions from various agencies whose activities affect our organization. On Saturday afternoon a new chapter of the organization was formally admitted, having been organized at Enid on September 20. The officers of the Enid chapter are: Jim Lanfear, president; Robert Quails, vice-president; Miss Christine Anrine, secretary and William H. Smith, treasurer.... Officers elected for the coming year are: Dr. O. R. Attebery, president; Charles M. Gilliam, 1st vice-president; Leslie Bell, 2nd vice-president; Mrs. Layleth Quails, secretary; T. E. Levisay, treasurer; board members-at-large, Mrs. Ruth Gilliam and Mrs, Marie Lyons, Charles Gilliam was elected as delegate to the 1959 NFB convention."
The following resolution was adopted unanimously: "WHEREAS, the Governor's Committee on the Employment of the Physically Handicapped apparently is supporting a proposal to provide for a chain of state-supported workshops for the employment of physically handicapped persons, including blind persons, and WHEREAS, it is the consensus of this convention that the establishment of such a chain of workshops will not suffice as a substitute for the unmet needs of blind persons for vocational rehabilitation services in this state, and further that the inclusion of blind persons in integrated workshop projects for all handicapped persons, generally speaking, produces unsatisfactory results in terms of the quantity and quality of economic opportunities made available to such blind persons, and WHEREAS, a private agency (Oklahoma League of the Blind) is now operating a workshop for blind persons and has good prospect of expanding its employment opportunities for blind persons NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
The executive Board be instructed to take such legislative action as may appear to be timely and appropriate,... considering the effect which appropriations for the establishment of a state-supported chain of workshops for all handicapped persons may have upon the possibility of obtaining an earmarked appropriation of state funds to meet the vocational rehabilitation needs of blind persons,"
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From Voiceways, the publication of the New York Telephone Company, via the ESAB Eyecatcher:
"She's blind, but Mrs. Lillian Skutt of Syracuse, New York, can operate any switchboard as easily as a sighted person. Her head-set tells her what her fingertips 'see'. Her hands wear no extra wires, Her headset is standard equipment. The only thing new in the picture is a little, lightweight, sloping panel electronic Touch-Lite. It is quickly and easily connected to any switchboard by a Telephone Company installer. The Touch-Lite can be set aside when a sighted person takes over for relief periods or vacations. And best of all, it is relatively inexpensive--costs hundreds of dollars less than Braille switchboards now used by blind operators.
"Enthusiasm of community leaders, interested in opening new jobs to blind people, and years of engineering efforts, combined to create the Touch-Lite. For instance, before he began to work on the Touch-Lite, some 15 years of developing switchboard aids for the blind went into the background of Mr. George D. Stewart, a Pratt Institute engineering graduate with 37 years New York Telephone Company experience, including two years of research and development at Bell Laboratories....
"One blind operator says, 'My Touch-Lite is just about as big as my handbag, and a lot easier to operate. When my buzzer indicates a call is coming in, I run my finger over these two top grooves. Soon as I hear a buzz, I can 'see' what type of signal lamp is glowing on my board. Then I run my finger down over the other ten grooves and find out exactly where the call light is. In almost no time at all, I'm set to operate the switchboard. And they tell me I'm as fast and efficient as a regular operator has to be to pass the standard tests'..."
(Editor's Note: This sounds to me like the German system, about which I heard so much at Colombo last summer. This German system is being adopted in Canada and will also, in all probability, be put into use in England. I have been promised a sample by the West German delegate and I am expecting it daily.)
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(Excerpt from a communication signed by Harold Baxter, of Roseburg, Oregon, President of the Oregon Council of the Blind, who lost his sight at the age of 18 while playing hockey, as a result of the all too accurate snowball aim of an exuberant spectator.)
"...The club managers had got together and decided to play a joke on the umpire. I agreed to help them out with the gag so at the end of the eighth inning the umpire was razzed very vigorously by the players and the fans. He was removed from the game by the managers and I was called for. I came onto the field with my guide dog.
"I donned the umpire's mask and shield and called all the plays in favor of the home team--naturally. It really made no difference in the outcome of the game, so a good time was had by all.
"Robert L. Ripley heard about this and asked for all the details, which were sent to him, along with the picture of me and my dog. That was during the war and I was especially thrilled to hear from boys overseas.... Boys a long way from our home town were tickled to hear about me and the mischief I was getting into.
"Several years later at the beginning of the spring baseball training, Bill Stern brought up the story on his radio sports broad-cast. Robert L. Ripley was also a guest on the program. "
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by Mary Walton
In his article, "The Emotional Blind", Charles Little asserts that all emotional problems which the blind may have, over and above those which beset every member of the human family, stem from the need for productivity through full-time employment. But is that all the story? Could Mr. Little be guilty of over-simplification? If there are emotional problems peculiar to the blind, might there not be other factors which contribute to them?
I am persuaded that there is no conclusive answer because, to my knowledge, the "typical" blind individual has never yet been found. I do know, however, that, in my personal experience and in my contact with other blind persons, I am continually running across one problem, one difficulty, which repeats itself in the same dreary, minor refrain everywhere, and which, because of its very universality, disturbs me not a little.
That problem is loneliness--isolation, in a greater or lesser degree, from normal social contacts. It is true, as the poet has said, that to all human beings there comes at times a sense of utter loneliness. For most of us such a feeling is momentary or, at worst, temporary, but for some of our blind people it has been permitted to become an accepted norm.
Such a sense of isolation might be expected in the deaf-blind, who are shut away from the world around them by a wall many times as thick as that which is created by the mere loss of sight. Two lovely, intelligent deaf-blind girls of my acquaintance, shut in too much with their own thoughts, have passed in recent years through the dark shadow-land of a nervous breakdown. A third, possessed of a courageous, cheerful spirit, has written plaintively, in a weaker moment, "Friends from the church are wonderful to bring me flowers, candy and baskets of fruit--but oh, if they only could realize that those things would mean so much more if they were only willing to take the time and trouble to stop and visit with me when they bring them!" Although things like this wring our hearts, those of us who still have our hearing are not greatly surprised or shocked because we have all felt, deep down, that if we could no longer hear music, the voices of little children and of our friends, and the radio, we might as well be dead.
But a sensitive blind girl has written me, from her farm home in New England: "I think sometimes that I'll go mad for the want of someone intelligent to talk to!" And a young mother in a small village in a western state tells how, since her pastor moved away, she seldom has a visitor and how attendance at church and occasional shopping trips into town furnish almost the only contact she has with those outside her immediate family. And a man living in a large eastern city recounts his story of a time when he was in great need of someone to turn to, only to find that no one appeared to have time for him. The frequency with which such stories come to me makes me wonder.
It is true that in some instances this loneliness is self-inflicted. But far more often it is something which is imposed upon the blind person from without, by circumstances or by traditional social attitudes. Segregation of the blind is not confined to the graduates of residential schools and the inmates of homes for the blind. It may be found in any city where a large number of blind people live. This Chicago girl is now in a middle-sized industrial town in the Midwest. She finds that she has little in common with the other blind people living in this community. Never having had any real social contacts with the sighted world, she is ill at ease with any but the blind. As a consequence, she is miserably lonely.
Loneliness! Isolation! Terrible words, yet everyday realities for all too many of us who are blind. And I am inclined to think those two awful words are, even more than unemployment, a clue to the emotional problems of the blind.
Give a man a job and you are giving him self-respect and a sense of accomplishment. But are those the only human needs? Is a life of "work, eat, and sleep" enough? No! Employment is only part of the answer. At least a large part of the solution of our problem is social acceptance.
How to attain it? I have for several years been beating my brains out trying to find the answer to that one, and in some measure have succeeded. It helps to be active in some church or, if one is not spiritually minded, in some civic club or organization. I am something of a soloist and can carry a fairly good alto. When it was realized that this bit of talent could make a contribution to the music of the church, I found the other members accepting me--first on the basis of that contribution alone and then, to a large degree, for myself. Others achieve recognition and acceptance as Sunday School teachers, committee chairmen, or just ordinary, faithful members, who can be counted on to serve anywhere they are needed.
Employment, too, may lead to social acceptance, and often does. But sometimes one may be accepted at work, in the church or in the club, and still find that, aside from those activities, the world passes him by.
People are funny. They are kind and generous and, at the same time, selfish and thoughtless. They will take any amount of time out of a busy schedule to help a blind person who has missed his way, or even drop everything and take him to his destination--but they will not be able to spare even a few moments to stop for a friendly chat in his home.
(Editor's Note: Mary Walton, of El Dorado, Kansas, is an active member of her state's NFB affiliate. Her brilliant defense of the Kennedy-Baring Bill was published in The New Outlook for the Blind last May.)
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"Dear Editor: I was quite fascinated by Earl Scharry's article concerning Braille vs. Talking Books. I have had experience with the Soundscriber side, which he so glibly described. My trouble wasn't with the readers; the books I had were passably well read, considering. My gripe was the quality of the recordings themselves.
For textbook material I much prefer Braille. Talking Books for me are little more than time killers, when I have nothing better to do. Braille has paragraphs, page numbers and is amenable to book-marks, etc. Talking Books aren't. One gripe I have against Braille, however, is that somebody who thinks he has our interest at heart always wants to change it. This is one reason why older people won't learn it...." R.W. Baird, Centerville, Iowa.
"Dear Mr. Card:...As a Braille proofreader, I am interested in the Monitor's discussion of library books and service. From the Chicago Library I recently read a book by James Thurber, copyrighted in 1935 and not printed in Braille until 1945; another book by Faulkner copyrighted in 1931 and printed in Braille in 1956! We surely do not get new books. My good wishes in your work." Lenore Protter, Chicago, Illinois.
"Dear Mr. Card: I am writing to express my gratitude to the Madison Lions, the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind for the financial help given Miss Lillian Cunradi to keep her magazine Skylark in circulation. It gives much pleasure to the deaf-blind all over the English-speaking world. It also encourages deaf-blind people to use their imagination and writing skill. Skylark is a great blessing to those who love it.
"In 1952 I founded Canada's first and only magazine for the deaf-blind. In 1953 I founded the Canadian League of the Deaf-Blind. In 1957 I was appointed to the staff of the Canadian National Institute of the Blind as National Consultant for the deaf-blind of Canada. Editing my magazine, running my home alone now (my husband died last month), keeps me far too busy but I still find time to write something for Sky-lark occasionally. Thanking you again for your interest in Skylark, I am, Mrs. Marjorie McGuffin, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada."
"Dear Mr. Holben: I have read your letter in the November, 1958 issue of the Braille Monitor, and I am glad to have an opportunity to send you some information which I hope will be helpful.
The collection at the Library of Congress includes Braille books on woodworking processes, caning instructions, household mechanics and industrial arts woodworking. We shall be glad to send you such material on request. From your Cleveland Library you may borrow a copy of How to Upholster Furniture by Kaye Hardy.
"In reply to your comments about the Betty Crocker recorded recipes, General Mills worked closely with several organizations for the blind in St. Paul and Minneapolis in order to produce usable recordings of instructions on their packaged merchandise. It was thought a 'gutter' between the recipes was a simple way to distinguish between different instructions.
"There are many books about the real west in Braille in recorded form; a few in Braille are The Big Range, by Jack Schaefer; Dry Bones in the Valley, by William M. Raine; Billy the Kid, by Edwin Corle. A number of Alfred Guthrie's books on the west are available on Talking Book records. If you do not receive the Braille Book Review, in the Braille edition, your Cleveland Library will be glad to arrange for you to have it, and in this publication I think you will find much of interest. Sincerely yours, (Mrs.) Pauline R. Bollenbacher, Selections Officer for the Blind, Library of Congress, Division for the Blind, Washington, D.C."
"Dear George: ...I had planned to organize the Honolulu Chapter of the Blind in September but it did not work out that way. Well, George, I organized the Honolulu Chapter of the Blind the middle of last month. We started out with twenty-six new members and I know I can get more blind people to join our chapter at our next meeting. You made a marvelous impression on the people out here with your splendid talk, George, and I appreciate all you did for us when you were here. We are working on our constitution and by-laws for our chapter. Just as soon as everything with this club is in good shape I shall make a trip to Hawaii, Maui and Molokai. I am making my preliminary contacts with the blind people on these islands.
"I was asked to give a talk to the Honolulu Lions Club and they are all interested in having me organize the Hawaii Federation of the Blind. The Lions will help me in getting around to the different parts of the islands. The Lions all told me you made a wonderful impression on them and you surely opened the way for me and I am grateful to you.
"Dr. tenBroek has been very helpful in getting all of the materials to me.... I am hoping by spring I shall have all of our clubs organized so we can affiliate with the National Federation of the Blind. Dr. tenBroek will be here to do the honors for us...." Eva Smyth, Honolulu, Hawaii.
"Dear Mr. Card: I wish to express my thanks to you for sending the copy of the Braille Monitor. The article concerning my son James Templeton's activities was very well written. He did work very hard getting the Federation started here. He wants so much to devote his time to working among the blind. It was hard to see him leave for California, so far away, but there was nothing for him here after he organized the Federation.... " Mrs. Cora M. Jillard, Newburgh, New York.
"Dear Mr. Card: Since 1956 the Massachusetts Council of Organizations for the Blind has made two annual awards; the Bay State Award to a sighted person with an outstanding record of service to the blind, and the Sullivan, or Founder's Award, to a blind person who has distinguished himself in a like manner. In 1956 the Bay State Award went to Doctor Gabriel Farrell, once a Director of the Perkins School for the Blind, and the Sullivan Award went to Mr. Norman Hamer, who now is the President of the Lawrence Chapter of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts. In 1957 the Bay State Award went to Reverend Father Thomas J. Carroll and the Sullivan Award to Roger Walker, who is a member of the Boston Chapter of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts. This year there is a strong movement in support of Gregory B. Khachadoorian, young blind attorney, prominent member of the ABM, and newly elected member of the Massachusetts Legislature, for the Sullivan Award...." Miss Stella A. Babigian, Boston, Massachusetts.
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The Illinois Federation of the Blind held its 1958 convention at the Dunlap Hotel, in Jacksonville, on October 24, 25 and 26. President O'Shaughnessy writes: "This was the finest convention the IFB has ever had." The forenoon of the first day was taken up with registration of delegates. One hundred and forty-nine attended, which was a very gratifying number in view of the fact that Jacksonville is not as readily accessible as some other Illinois cities where the annual convention has been held in past years.
The most important feature of the Friday afternoon session was a forum, "The Employment of College-Trained Blind People". Present were the representatives of eleven colleges in the persons of the heads of their respective employment bureaus. The employment problems of blind college graduates were thoroughly aired. Writes President Bob: "We had many college students present for this part of the convention. We feel that the discussion was very helpful to them. We also feel that it aroused their interest in the Federation--the existence of which some of them at least had probably not been aware up to this time."
There was a dinner meeting Friday evening, at which Dr. Alfred A. Rosenbloom, Dean of the College of Optometry, who heads the Low Vision Optical Aids Program of the Chicago Lighthouse, was the principal speaker. There was also an Alumni reception Friday evening.
Saturday morning was given over to a business session, with a number of committee reports. Jack Reed, of Alton, spoke on "Finances As They Affect the State Organization and Local Affiliates"...
At the Friday afternoon session there was a panel discussion of a "Sheltered Work Program for Southern Illinois", in which the following participated: Dr. John O. Anderson, Coordinator of Research, Assistant Dean of the Graduate School of the Southern Illinois University; Bill Tudor, Director, Division of Area Services; James Porter, Executive Secretary of the Association for Crippled Children, and Bill Howe, Executive Secretary of the Egyptian Association for Mentally Retarded Children. Then came a progress report by Mr. Robert J. Teare, Assistant Project Director of the Purdue University Research Committee. He discussed developments in the current research project being carried on in this area, the objective of which is to determine scientifically why some blind people are employable and others are not. Dr. Ras Mohun Haider, First Secretary of Education of the Embassy of India, delivered greetings from his country and spoke of work for the blind in that great sub-continent. The last item on this rather long afternoon agenda consisted of reports on (a) Proposed Legislation; (b) "Blind-Made Products" Businesses; (c) Circulating Library for the Blind and (d) Blind Assistance in Illinois.
At the convention banquet Saturday evening, Dr. Charles A. Jordan, Director of the Hope School, was the principal speaker. The 1958 Mary McCann Award went to Mrs. Carrie Ellen Paxton, of Decatur, for 21 years a housekeeper and cottage parent at the Illinois Braille and Sight Saving School. She was unable to attend the convention due to illness and the plaque was accepted on her behalf by Leo J. Flood, Superintendent of the Braille and Sight Saving School.
The final session on Sunday morning was taken up with routine organization business and included reports from the affiliate chapters and the roundup of the Boston convention. A number of resolutions were adopted. This was not an election year for officers but Holland Horton was re-elected to the Board of Directors for a four-year term. Alton was chosen as the 1959 convention city. The following were elected as official delegates to the Santa Fe convention: Robert O'Shaughnessy, Victor Buttram, Fred Lilley and Jack Reed.
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(There have been so many false rumors and so much inaccurate newspaper publicity concerning the experiments being carried on at Columbus, Ohio, under the sponsorship of the Veterans Administration, that it seems well to publish an authentic analysis of developments in the reading device which the project is attempting to perfect. Obviously the potential reading speed is so extremely slow that little practical benefit can be anticipated at this time. The following comes from the World Wide Medical News Service, Washington Bureau.)
"A number of difficulties remain to be solved before the 'aural reading machine' for blind persons, recently demonstrated here, can be put to practical use. Developed by the Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio, under Veterans Administration contract, the machine converts printed letters into musical tones, thus enabling a blind person to 'read' ordinary printed matter.
"Five blind trainees have shown some degree of skill in learning the musical alphabet, as well as in distinguishing between similar-sounding words. But, according to Dr. Robert Stewart, Director of the Prosthetic and Sensory Aid Section of the Veterans Administration, problems have arisen in the manipulation of the experimental machine itself. A small pen-like probe must be moved along the line of print by the reader. This probe transmits an image of each letter to a row of photocells that, in turn, activate an oscillator to produce a specific pitch for each letter 'seen'. Earphones worn by the reader translate these pitches into sounds similar to organ chords. Rolling the probe along the printed line has not been easy for the trainees. Any change in speed tends to distort the sound and confuse the hearer, Dr. Stewart noted. Trainees also have a tendency to go back over the same letters in a word while rolling the probe, he said.
"Trainees receive 40 hours of preliminary instruction on pre-recorded tape, then 18 hours on the aural reader itself. This course of instruction enables them to read an average of two random words in four minutes, Dr. Stewart said. Only five aural readers have thus far been produced. Further testing will be necessary before the advisability of mass production is determined, Veterans Administration reported. The Battelle Institute is currently working on an improved stylus that will help orient the blind person along the line."
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The November Visually Handicapped Views (South Dakota) contains news of the election of two members of the S.D.A.B. as district-attorneys--Dean Sumner and James Hare. It was a re-election in the case of Dean Sumner, NFB Board member. Also that Arnold Graber, Yankton stand operator, will soon join the staff of the Wyoming agency, (presumably to fill the job of Home Teacher recently vacated by the resignation of Ray Parsons). This issue also notes the inauguration of a low-vision optical aids clinic in Israel.
A letter from Harold Campbell, President of our Montana affiliate, describes progress toward the current change-over to the chapter system in that vast state. The Yellowstone Chapter (Billings) is now fully organized, with a membership of about 30. Formation of chapters is under way in Great Falls, Livingston, Helena and Kalispell.
From the November Eyecatcher (New York): "We proudly boast of our newest affiliate, County Blind, Inc., which covers Westchester County. This group has been organized for some time and has a sizeable membership. We welcome them as our thirteenth affiliate. Thirteen will surely prove to be a lucky number for this Association."... "During the State Fair, arrangements were made for screening persons over the age of 40 years for the presence of glaucoma. Approximately 40 tests were given each day, which is about the maximum number which could have been given. Altogether a total of 284 persons were tested. 15 were found to have tensions that were over the screening level "... From Buffalo: "... Joseph Pike has left the Buffalo Association to assume the duties of Executive Director for the Association in Albany. Joe was very popular with the workers at the Buffalo Association as well as the V.R.S. trainees at the center. Harold Smalley has become the operator of a stand in the City Court Building. Walte-Missert, well-known member of the Buffalo Chapter and recently elected treasurer, passed away in September. His well-founded opinions and sound advice will be sorely missed by all who knew him. The stand in the Blue Cross Building which Mr. Missert operated has been taken over by Howard Gold, a faithful member of the chapter." (The passing of Walter Missert is very sad news for the Monitor Editor. Things will never seem quite the same to me in Buffalo.) From Syracuse: "...The stand at Sears, Roebuck formerly operated by Vincent Burke recently has been taken over by William Bowen. 'Vince's Snack Bar' is the name of Vince and Marion Burke's new business venture, a restaurant located on Gettis Street. An independent bowling league has at last come into existence in Syracuse. Credit for organizing this two-team league goes to the always enthusiastic Bill Webb."...And from Rochester: "The Public Service Committee of the Rochester Chapter has been hard at work seeing that donors from the chapter make regular visits to the Blood Bank. Again this year, many members of our group stuffed envelopes for the drive put on by the Eye Bank and some of our members canvasssed or were captains for the drive. This chapter has voted to donate $25 annually to the Hope School, about which you undoubtedly read in the Braille Monitor. Our newly inaugurated Speakers' Bureau has been busy. On September 11, Norma Wagner and Mary Jane Hills spoke to a group of personnel directors at the Chamber of Commerce; on September 22 Mary Jane Hills talked at a meeting of the Down Town Lions' Club; on October 29 Albert Wylas and Mary Jane Hills appeared on a moderated program broadcast over Station WHAM, and Norma Wagner was privileged to speak to the Trades and Labor Council on November 13. In all cases the topic was an explanation of NFB philosophy and purpose...."
From the Illinois Newsletter: "... Many of the Cicero Chapter's members have reported that it is becoming increasingly difficult to travel with a cane or guide dog because unthinking citizens leave toys and other objects in the middle of their front walks. The matter was brought to the attention of Dr. Cooper, head of the Cicero Safety Council, who agreed the situation is not only dangerous for the blind but for elderly persons as well. Dr. Cooper suggested that the problem should be presented before P.T.A. and other local groups; he also stated that many safety hazards could be eliminated if all property owners would keep their sidewalks in good repair. In the interest of safety it is suggested that other organizations join in this campaign."
A letter from Mr. Ralph Ferguson states that his city, Council Bluffs, Iowa, had installed a warning bell on a "scramble" corner prior to the Waterloo experiment.
From the World Council Newsletter: "The School for the Blind in Bussum, Holland, celebrated its 150th anniversary on October 10, 1958.... On the recommendation of U.N. adviser, Mr. Arthur Magill, who undertook a short-term survey and advisory mission in Lebanon in 1957, the United Nations is providing the services of Miss G. Wallis for a one-year period to organize a home-teaching service for the blind. At the request of the Turkish Government, the U.N. has provided seven fellowships to train teachers for the blind. Equipment has also been supplied to Turkish schools for the blind. In cooperation with A.F.O.B., the U.N. is making available the services of an expert in home teaching of the blind to establish a service in Syria. A number of other advisers on general rehabilitation work have also been supplied to countries requesting this service.... The W.C.W.B. has learned of certain decisions taken at the Ottowa Postal Union Convention that are of interest to the blind. The first is the opportunity to subscribe to a review or magazine in another country by making payment in one's own currency through the postal system. The other is free postage of Braille letters or publications and in respect of dues on other packages sent to. blind persons....Argentina and Belgium have joined the ranks of the countries which are imposing quotas of handicapped workers on all employers of more than, in Argentina, 6, and, in Belgium, 20. The Belgian law contains real teeth--with a possible prison sentence for employers who fail to comply....More information is now available on the French Agricultural Training Center for the Blind. After a first year of general agriculture, students specialize in one of the eight branches taught in the school: horticulture and aboriculture (2 years); poultry-raising and beekeeping, cattle-raising, sheep or pig-rearing or as a milker or cattleman (1 year). Ex-trainees may come back to the center from time to time for refresher courses. Plans are going ahead for the provision of a sports ground and swimming pool for the use of trainees In October. Israel's first Braille class, providing for the education of blind children within a municipal school for sighted children, was opened in Tel Aviv...."
A letter from G. R. Maki states that on November 26 Mrs. Bettye Powell, 66 Boyd Place, Reno, was elected President of the Northern Nevada Chapter, (Reno), to succeed Mrs. Catherine Callahan.
Many Midwestern Federationists owe a heavy debt of gratitude to Mr. Harold E. Carter, 1030 S. 14th Street, Springfield, Illinois, who has been doing a beautiful job of reading the Monitor each month onto tape. This tape is copied many times by various recipients, who pass on the copies to others and it becomes a chain reaction. Mr. Carter is a piano tuner, professionally, and a very good one, but the music store for which he tunes is not able to keep him busy full time and he is looking for a better location. It may be that a Monitor reader somewhere will know of an opening.
My Minnesota Bulletin came a few days ago and I was greatly saddened to read of the passing of Oscar Westlund, of Fargo, North Dakota. Oscar and Marie, his wife, attended the residential school at Fairbault, Minnesota, and were among the founders of the present Minnesota Organization of the Blind. When they moved to Fargo and became active in the North Dakota Association of the Blind, they retained their membership in the Minnesota Organization of the Blind, and managed to get back to the Twin Cities for many meetings and functions of the latter group. Oscar radiated warmth and friendliness and had as many friends as anyone I have ever known. When I first visited Fargo in 1953, a special meeting was hurriedly organized and it was held in the home of the Westlunds.
With their livelihoods threatened by an invasion of Minnesota by Skilcraft, a group of 25 salesmen and others met in St. Paul on August 14 and formed the Minnesota Association of Salesmen and Manufacturers. First elected officers are Merle Ford, President, 1300 Grand Avenue, N.E., Minneapolis; Carl Isaacson, Vice-President; Ingwald Gunderson, Secretary and Ralph Aune, Treasurer.
The same issue of the Minnesota Bulletin begins a new feature, "Modern Homemaking" and the first column contains several mouth-watering recipes for bakeless fruit cakes. Mrs. Monitor Editor became so fascinated with these that she copied them and is going to try-out all of them.
Donald W. Hathaway has become Executive Director of the Hadley School for the Blind, Winnetka, Illinois. He succeeds Dorrance C. Nygaard, who held the post since 1945 and resigned recently because of ill health.
Cincinnati Council please note--from the West Virginia Bulletin: "The Charles Baumgartners will be at home in Cincinnati, Ohio in the near future. Charles and Mary Ellen have been very active in the West Virginia Federation. Charles has held various offices in the organization and was elected Second Vice-President at the recent convention of the West Virginia Federation of the Blind, Inc. We will miss them a great deal."
From the "Dot's Contacts" column of the West Virginia Bulletin: "Don't try to make your guests feel at home. If they wanted to feel at home, they would have stayed there...."
Dr. Rudolph Bjornseth of Fargo, North Dakota, reports that during the time he was President of the North Dakota Association of the Blind, its membership increased from 60 to100.
From the Weekly News: "A new chemical factory, erected at Enskede, near Stockholm, at a cost of three million kroner, is said to be a unique establishment in many ways. It has 60 employees of whom one-half are blind, and the enterprise is entirely self-supporting. The annual production is 2,000 tons of detergents for various home and industrial purposes, and the plant is competing in the open market on the same conditions as other firms in the business. The workers belong to a trade union and their wages are determined by collective bargaining agreements."
The West Virginia Federation is preparing to introduce, as a part of its current legislative program, a "little Kennedy Bill" (to require consultation of the organized blind by the state agency and to prohibit interference by that agency with the right of the blind to organize) and a bill to permit a blind voter to receive assistance from a person of his choice. At least half a dozen other states are introducing this last measure.
From the Missouri Monthly Report: "At its November meeting the United Workers for the Blind donated $100 to the Braille Monitor and $25 to Good Cheer-a magazine for the deaf-blind. It was a great pleasure to learn from a visitor who attended the meeting that both the contribution to Good Cheer and to the Monitor were largely due to the initiative and persuasion of Mr. Victor Johnson. At the November meeting of RITE, this organization appropriated its regular annual contribution of $100 to the NFB Endowment Fund and $25 to Good Cheer. Under the able leadership of Chairman Margaret Heichelbeck, RITE held a rummage sale which grossed $192. Quite an achievement for a first attempt at a rummage sale. As an invited guest of the Arkansas Federation of the Blind, our 'Cotton' Busby, of the Allied Workers, presented the Arkansas convention with a comprehensive word-picture of our much envied Missouri pension law. RITE paid the expenses incurred by Bill Jackson and Jack James, who attended the convention as good will ambassadors from Missouri. The three Missourians reported that they had a most delightful visit with our near neighbors. Disregarding the provisions in the NFB constitution, which sets a minimum of ten members for a new organization. Gayford Allen and Charlyn Collier decided that a 'twosome' has its advantages. They were married in Springfield on Thanksgiving Eve and are very happy. Congratulations and best wishes to the Allens...."
From the Mid-West Messenger (Wisconsin): "A new potato pancake champion was crowned on November 24 when Martin Lange downed number 26. For the past three years the title had been held jointly by Walter Wyss and Eugenia Hajec, who tied at 25 each. Prior to that Herbert Pitz had been the potato pancake king for a five-year stretch, closely challenged by Arthur Colby."
A recent North Carolina law exempts blind salesmen from the license requirement to which other door-to-door salesmen are subject. It was thought the enactment of this law would end the difficulties which blind salesmen had been having with local authorities. But the officials in a number of communities, especially the smaller ones, continued to harass blind salesmen with demands for license fees. The last issue of the Independent Forum carries the full text of the law and advises blind salesmen to tear out the page and carry it with them at all times, thus being able to confront officious local functionaries with incontrovertible evidence.
The Nevada Newsletter reports that President Audrey Bascom and a number of other NFB members attended a luncheon at which all three of Nevada's representatives in Congress were speakers. Howard Cannon, newly elected Unites States Senator, spoke first, followed by Congressman Walter Baring and then by Senior Senator Allan Bible. Walter Baring made an excellent address, emphasizing legislation beneficial to the organized blind movement. He assured those present that he is confident of the passage of the Kennedy-Baring bill. Allan Bible paid high tribute to Senator Kennedy.
From the same issue: "James J. Kastris, blind since age six, has held many jobs including that of switchboard operator. He has assembled complicated machine guns. During the war he was a radio operator on board a fishing boat off the South California coast.... He is now completing 12 years on the payroll of Harold's Club, where he prepares for shipment several hundred decks of playing cards during each shift. He is using his own specially designed jig that holds a complete deck of cards...."
From the same issue: "James J. Kastris, blind since age six, has held many jobs including that of switchboard operator. He has as- sembled complicated machine guns. During the war he was a radio operator on board a fishing boat off the South California coast. . . . He is now completing 12 years on the payroll of Harold's Club, where he prepares for shipment several hundred decks of playing cards during each shift. He is using his own specially designed jig that holds a complete deck of cards. ..."
Important change of address--Mr. and Mrs. JohnNagle, formerly 182 State Street, Springfield, Massachusetts, now 4319 North Fourth Street, Arlington, Virginia.
From Ripley's Believe It Or Not: "The Belfast Lough Lighthouse Tower in Ireland was designed and built in 1844 by Alexander Mitchell, who was totally blind."
From Viewpoint (British NFB): "From France comes news of an army surgeon who claims to have perfected a means of using the cornea from a dog's eye for grafting onto the eyes of human beings... So far, he reports, ten blind people have been made to see through this method.
Following the appearance of the Abed Budair letter in the October Braille Monitor, contributions to be forwarded to him have come to us from Minnesota, Oregon and South Carolina. Today our mail contained a letter from John S. Sensenbrenner, of Neenah, Wisconsin, the great paper magnate, with a check for $100 to be forwarded to our young protege. In our Annual Report to our Wisconsin White Cane Week contributors, we had stated that our reduced budget this year made it impossible for us to extend any substantial help until after next year's drive. Mr. Sensenbrenner's check was sent after he had read our report. He wrote, in part: "I am greatly impressed by your Annual Report to the White Cane Week Contributors, 1958. The amount of work you do on your limited budget is truly remarkable." With his tiny scholarship, Abed has entered the law school of the University of Damascus in Syria, and this help will give him a tremendous lift.
John Kostuck, veteran Wisconsin Assemblyman from Portage County, has been selected for the Handicapped Man of the Year Award by the Governor's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped. John is dean of the Wisconsin Legislature, having served fifteen consecutive two-year terms. He ran unsuccessfully in 1926 and 1928 but won in 1930, and he has since become so solidly entrenched that, for the past dozen years, he has been unopposed, either in the primary or in the finals. During his long legislative career, John has introduced and fought through many bills sponsored by the organized blind. He attended the Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped and the University of Wisconsin and was a teacher at the Virginia School for the Blind in the early 20's. Last year his right leg was amputated, following a severe infection. When asked if he intended to run again in spite of this additional misfortune, John said: "You just watch me. Now I can really stump my district."
It now appears that there are not enough people who want a disc-recorded edition of the Braille Monitor to make such a project possible. The 25 or 30 checks which have been received will therefore have to be returned.
Sir Clutha MacKenzie has been re-appointed Chairman of the World Braille Council.
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