THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Vol. 44, No. 4 April, 2001
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
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Web Page address: http://www.nfb.org
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National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 44, No. 4 April, 2001
Philadelphia Site of 2001 NFB Convention!
NFB 2001 Washington Seminar
The Guide Horse Foundation: Joke or Jeopardy?
by Eugenia Firth
Are They Really So Hard?
by Ramona Walhof
Sacramento Bee Takes Hard Look at Problems
Facing the Blind
Traveling around Philadelphia
by Jim Antonacci
Struggling with the Tough Questions: A Review
by Carol Castellano
The Slate Book: A Review
2001 Convention Attractions
NOPBC-Sponsored Convention Activities for Parents and Kids
by Barbara Cheadle
Hearing Enhancement and Spanish Translation Available at National Conventions
by D. Curtis Willoughby
Another Slant on Fund Raising.......................................................................................................
by Anil Lewis
Dialysis at National Convention:....................................................................................................
by Ed Bryant
Copyright © 2001 National Federation of the Blind
Philadelphia Site of 2001 NFB Convention!
The 2001 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 1-7. Arrangements have been made to hold our convention at the Philadelphia Marriott, a first-class convention hotel. Room rates are excellent: singles $55 and twins, doubles, triples, and quads $65 a night, plus tax. The hotel is accepting reservations now. A $60-per-room deposit is required to make a reservation. Fifty percent of the deposit will be refunded if notice is given to the hotel of a reservation cancellation before May 29, 2001. The other 50 percent will not be refundable. For reservations call the hotel at (215) 625-2900 or the Marriott toll-free number (800) 228-9290.
Rooms at the Marriott will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be made to secure these rooms before May 29, 2001. After that time the hotel will not hold the block of rooms for the convention. In other words, you should get your reservation in soon. We will probably need rooms beyond those we are holding at the Marriott, so those who get their reservations in first will get the rooms we have reserved there.
Participants in the 1999 and 2000 conventions can testify to the gracious hospitality of the Marriott. The Philadelphia Marriott has excellent restaurants, first-rate meeting space, and other top-notch facilities. It is in downtown Philadelphia across the street from the Reading Terminal Market, an establishment which combines the sights, smells, experiences, and tastes of Philadelphia cuisine and the Amish Farmers' Trading Center. Other attractions of Philadelphia are immediately at hand, and of course the convention will be occurring in the spacious ballroom of the Marriott.
The 2001 Convention will follow a Sunday-through-Saturday schedule:
Sunday, July 1 Seminar Day
Monday, July 2 Registration Day
Tuesday, July 3 Board Meeting and Division Day
Wednesday, July 4 Opening Session
Thursday, July 5 Tour Day
Friday, July 6 Banquet Day
Saturday, July 7 Business Session
Plan to be in Philadelphia.
The action of the convention will be there!
NFB 2001 Washington Seminar
From the Editor: The Washington Seminar has come to be one of the busiest and most interesting events in the Federation year. The 2001 seminar was no exception. For the first time ever representatives from all fifty-two affiliates took part in the meetings and headed off to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators.
The first event of the 2001 Washington Seminar was the student party Friday evening, February 2. It gave students a chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones.
All day Saturday the National Association of Blind Students met to discuss building the future in the context of NFB philosophy. Peter Berg, President of the Illinois student division, emceed the banquet that evening. NFB Second Vice President Peggy Elliott delivered a memorable banquet address, and several hundred people had a wonderful time.
Sunday morning throngs of Federationists went off to Baltimore for a galloping tour of the National Center for the Blind. Meantime blind merchants, blind lawyers, Capital Campaign volunteers, and folks interested in a little extra preparation for Capitol Hill all met around the hotel to take care of business.
The great gathering-in meeting began at 5:00 p.m. sharp and lasted its allotted two hours. Before and after the meeting the Mercury Room, nerve center of the Washington Seminar, was fully staffed with volunteers who took down meeting schedules so that Kris Cox would know when meetings with Members of Congress and Senators were taking place in case she wanted to join the discussion. At the same time people were dropping by Mercury to pick up material for the folders they would be taking to each Congressional office.
Sandy Halverson and her crew always do a magnificent job keeping records and taking down reports after the meetings. But it also seems as if each year some things get a bit better. This year we actually had an agenda of the entire set of seminar activities. It was available in both print and Braille. The fact sheets we were using on the Hill were available in print and on cassette as usual, but for the first time they were also provided in Braille.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Federationists wore a path to House and Senate office buildings and could be seen and heard tapping our way all over that complex of buildings. We addressed three issues this year: raising the Social Security work earnings limit, providing Medicare Part B coverage for rehabilitation services for seniors, and a requirement that, if federal funds are available to states for modernizing voting methods, the systems bought with those funds be accessible to print-handicapped voters. The earnings limit bill has been introduced by Congressman Robert Ehrlich and is called the Blind Empowerment Act of 2001. Its bill number is H.R. 498. When we went to press in early March, 233 House Members had already signed on as cosponsors. We had 283 last session, so we still have work to do to get ourselves back to that point, but we have made an excellent start. At this writing Senator McCain has still not introduced a companion bill but is promising to do so almost immediately. His office reports that they have good response among senators interested in being original cosponsors.
Congressmen Adolphus Towns and Martin Frost have now agreed to sponsor a bill containing our Medicare language, though at press time we did not yet have a bill number. As soon as we have this information, everyone will need to go back to House members to urge them to sign on as cosponsors.
Rather than supporting one particular voting reform measure, our fact sheet urged Members of Congress to include our language requiring nonvisual access in any proposal to provide federal funds for voting-machine modernization. Senators Charles Schumer and Sam Brownback did exactly that in their proposal, which was introduced at a press conference Tuesday afternoon of the Washington Seminar. A number of blind people made a point of being present to underscore the importance we place on this matter.
Senator Mitch McConnell, chairman of the Committee on Rules and Administration, has now introduced his own bill addressing this matter, and he has agreed to include the NFB language, so we are already clearly making progress on this important issue. What follows is the NFB's 2001 legislative memorandum and the three fact sheets we discussed all over Capitol Hill. Please use them in the months ahead to continue urging our legislators to do what will truly assist blind citizens across this nation.
Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans:
Priorities for the 107th Congress, First Session
Public policies and laws affecting blind people have a profound impact throughout our entire society. Most people know someone who is blind. It may be a friend, a family member, or a coworker. In fact, as many as seventy-five thousand Americans become blind or visually impaired each year. The blind population in the United States is estimated to exceed 1.2 million with millions of others classified as visually impaired. These numbers may not seem large, but the social and economic consequences of blindness directly touch the lives of millions and, at least indirectly, have some impact on everyone.
Public policies and laws that result from misconceptions or lack of information about blindness are often more limiting than the loss of eyesight itself. This is why we have formed the National Federation of the Blind. The Federation's leaders and the vast majority of its members are blind, but anyone is welcome to join in the effort we are making to win understanding and equality in society.
Our priorities for the first session of the 107th Congress reflect an urgent need for action in three specific areas of vital importance to the blind. (For an explanation of these issues, please see the attached fact sheets.)
1. Congress should enact mandated increases in the earnings limit for blind people under Title II of the Social Security Act, similar to those enacted for seniors in 1996. This proposal seeks to reduce the harsh work disincentive of the Social Security earnings limit as it now affects blind beneficiaries.
2. Congress should amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to include Medicare coverage for rehabilitation services provided to older individuals who are blind. This proposal is designed to ensure that older blind Medicare beneficiaries have access to the critical rehabilitation services they need to remain independent and contributing members of society.
3. Congress should require nonvisual access to electronic voting technology as a condition for the receipt of federal funds. Many members of Congress have introduced bills which seek to establish a federal grants program to modernize voting systems used in federal elections. The proposed nonvisual access amendment would ensure that blind and visually impaired voters can use the next generation of electronic voting technology resulting from this legislation.
People who are blind are asking for your help to address the priority issues listed in our current agenda. By acting on these priorities in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind, each member of Congress can help build better lives for the blind both today and in the years ahead.
Promoting Work and Fairness for the Blind
Common Sense Work Incentives for Blind Social Security
With the 1996 increase in the Social Security earnings limit, Congress provided seniors age sixty-five and older with a powerful incentive to work. In making the case for this change, advocates in Congress explained that more senior citizens would have the opportunity to work, earn, and pay taxes since they could work without fearing the loss of income from Social Security. The 106th Congress further encouraged work among seniors by eliminating the earnings limit altogether.
A law passed in 1977 established the earnings exemption threshold for blind people at the exempt amount used for seniors. In a rush to pass debt-ceiling legislation in 1996, Congress broke this historic link by excluding blind people from the increase in the seniors' earnings limit. This change enacted a series of mandated adjustments in the earnings limit in order to reach an exempt amount of $30,000 in 2002. However, the earnings limit was then completely eliminated altogether effective in January, 2000--two years before the 1996 law was fully in effect. The blind were once again excluded from this change.
As a result a lower earnings limit of $14,880 is in effect for blind people in 2001 as compared to no earnings limit for seniors. Earnings of $14,880 for a blind person who is age sixty-four will cause the complete loss of Social Security benefits until the individual becomes sixty-five. At that point there is no limit to what that same individual can earn. This is the inequity that now exists.
Section 216(i) of the Social Security Act defines "blindness." Therefore, blindness--as with age--can be determined with reasonable certainty. By contrast "disability" is not precisely defined and is determined on the basis of "inability to engage in substantial gainful activity." Compared to evaluating blindness, this is a complex and fairly subjective determination.
Although blindness is precisely defined, monthly benefits are not paid to all persons who are blind but only to those whose earnings (if any) are below the annually adjusted earnings limit. Personal wealth not resulting from current work does not count as earnings and has no effect on eligibility. Only work is penalized. It was the recognition of this fact that led to the increased earnings limit for seniors and its eventual elimination. The situation for seniors prior to 1996 is precisely the same for blind people today.
Congress should enact mandated increases in the earnings limit for blind people similar to those enacted for seniors in 1996. This proposal would be a step towards equity for blind people and reduce the harsh work disincentive policy now in effect. Under this proposal blind individuals would be able to work and earn up to $30,000 without fearing the loss of benefits. Congressman Robert Ehrlich has reintroduced legislation this session to reduce the harsh work disincentives now in place for blind people. Similar legislation is contemplated in the Senate. With 283 Representatives cosponsoring Congressman Ehrlich's bill and fifty-four Senators cosponsoring similar legislation in the 106th Congress, this proposal enjoys broad and bipartisan support.
Need to Remove Work Disincentives
Increasing the earnings limit for blind people will provide more than 100,000 blind beneficiaries with a powerful work incentive. At present a blind individual's earnings must not exceed a strict limit of $1,240 per month. When earnings exceed this exempt amount, the entire sum paid to a primary beneficiary and dependents is abruptly withdrawn after a trial work period.
When a blind person finds work, there is absolutely no assurance that earnings will replace the amount of lost disability benefits after taxes and work expenses are paid. Usually they do not. Therefore few beneficiaries can actually afford to attempt substantial work. Those who do will often sacrifice income and will certainly sacrifice the security they have from the automatic receipt of a monthly check. Increasing the earnings limit will allow blind people to work without being penalized financially for doing so.
Moreover, an increase in the earnings limit would be cost-beneficial. With a 74 percent unemployment rate, the vast majority of working-age individuals who are blind are already beneficiaries. Providing them with a meaningful work incentive would allow them to become taxpayers as well. Members of Congress supported raising the exempt earnings threshold for seniors, and it is only appropriate that they do the same for blind people of working age. The chance to work, earn, and pay taxes is a constructive and valid goal for senior citizens and blind Americans alike.
Medicare Coverage Equity for Older Blind Persons
The aging of seventy-six million American baby boomers and their parents will cause a number of societal challenges. Loss of eyesight, which accompanies advancing age, will be one of them. Today in the United States over 6 million individuals age fifty-five or older have severely impaired vision, and more than half of all blind people are age sixty-five or older. These numbers have doubled in the last thirty years and are expected to double again by 2030. Age-related vision loss is the second leading cause of disability among our country's senior population.
With blindness increasing among seniors, the demand for rehabilitation services is overwhelming. Without these critical services vision loss can destroy an older individual's quality of life and ability to live independently. Yet only 2 percent of seniors are served by current programs. In contrast, older blind individuals who receive rehabilitation services can continue to remain independent and active members of society. The programs that do exist are vastly under-funded, and there is no long-range plan in place to remedy this situation. Consequently older blind individuals are left without the essential support services they need.
The Medicare program--Title XVIII of the Social Security Act--provides health insurance coverage for people age sixty-five and older and for individuals with disabilities who qualify. As originally conceived, this program pays for reasonable and necessary services to prevent illness, maintain health, and restore functioning after injury or disease. Part A of Medicare-- Hospital Insurance--covers hospital services. Part B--Supplementary Medical Insurance--covers a wide range of outpatient services such as physicians' services; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; mental health services; a variety of rehabilitation services; the purchase of durable medical equipment, including wheel chairs; and home health care services. Despite Medicare's coverage of these and many more services, coverage of rehabilitation services for older blind individuals is not provided.
Chapter 2 of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, authorizes grants to designated state vocational rehabilitation agencies to provide independent living rehabilitation services to older persons who are blind and visually impaired. These services include visual screening; independent living skills training, such as orientation and mobility and daily living skills; and other appropriate rehabilitative services needed for older individuals to live independently. This program is currently funded at $20 million for fiscal year 2001. With this amount the program will serve fewer than 5 percent of those in need.
Congress should amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to include Medicare coverage for rehabilitation services provided to older individuals who are blind. This proposal is designed to ensure that older blind Medicare beneficiaries have access to critical rehabilitation services. The proposed amendments define rehabilitation services as those provided to an older blind individual under Chapter 2 of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, approved pursuant to regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. Services would be provided by the state vocational rehabilitation agency or others chosen by the beneficiary and supervised by such agency. The term "older individual who is blind" means "an individual age fifty-five or older whose severe visual impairment makes competitive employment difficult to attain but for whom independent living goals are feasible." This is identical to the definition currently in Chapter 2 of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act.
As with Chapter 2 of Title VII, only state vocational rehabilitation agencies could receive payment for services provided in this program. This approach utilizes a well-established and accountable system for the delivery of rehabilitation services to older blind Medicare beneficiaries while also allowing beneficiaries to exercise choice. Title XVIII allows hospitals, community rehabilitation centers, home healthcare centers, and other entities enrolled as Medicare service providers to receive payment for services. Under this proposal state vocational rehabilitation agencies could also enroll as Medicare service providers. Once a service is approved by a state Medicare carrier, state agencies could submit claims and receive payment for rehabilitation services they provide to older blind Medicare beneficiaries.
Need for Legislation
Costs associated with age-related vision loss are substantial. For example, the Alliance on Aging Research reports that visual impairment is one of the top four reasons why seniors lose their independence, contributing to medical and long-term care costs of $26 billion annually. In addition, the Framingham Eye Study (ongoing) reports that 18 percent of all hip fractures among seniors can be attributed to age-related vision loss. At $35,000 for treatment and care in each case, the total annual cost attributable to hip fractures due to visual impairment exceeds $2 billion.
Rehabilitation services for older blind persons teach safe travel, daily living skills, and use of adaptive aids and devices. Individuals who receive these services are able to continue living independently in their own homes and communities. This is consistent with the goals of Medicare. By receiving these services covered by Medicare, seniors who become blind can regain self-reliance and self-worth. This will allow them to remain active and valued members of their communities for as long as possible. Without these services older blind individuals often become dependent and isolated.
The Blind and Electronic Voting Technology
Ensuring Nonvisual Access to the Next Generation
of Voting Systems
Microchip and digital technology will undoubtedly change the way Americans vote. In the wake of the 2000 election, states and political subdivisions are scrambling to update their antiquated voting machines with electronic and computer-based voting systems. Arizona is already testing Internet voting, and other states have purchased touch screen digital voting machines.
Individual states develop and apply their own standards to approve or certify voting systems used in local jurisdictions. The needs of blind voters are rarely considered during this process. As a result virtually all electronic voting technology is unusable by as many as eight million people who are blind or cannot see a print ballot.
With the enactment of the 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act, Congress showed an interest in how blind people vote by approving the Voter Assistance Provision. Prior to the establishment of this provision, election officials could insist on entering the polling booth with a blind voter to assist the individual in casting a ballot. Today individuals with disabilities can vote using the assistance of whomever they choose. Voter assistance has been the only alternative for blind voters in the era of the paper ballot and mechanical voting machines. It is still a valid voting method. However, it does not allow blind people to cast a secret ballot or independently confirm their vote.
Two years after the adoption of the voters' assistance provision, Congress enacted the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act. This Act requires states and political subdivisions to make available "aids" to assist with registration and voting in federal elections. The Act has not been amended since its enactment. Consequently its provisions do not address today's electronic voting and nonvisual-access technology.
Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act as amended in 1998 requires federal departments and agencies to ensure that their electronic and information technology is accessible to individuals with disabilities. Several states have also enacted similar laws primarily focusing on nonvisual access. However, neither these state laws nor Section 508 have been applied to electronic voting technologies. Recently Texas enacted specific legislation requiring all voting equipment to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Congress should require nonvisual access to electronic voting technology as a condition for the receipt of federal funds. Many members of Congress have introduced bills which seek to establish a federal grants program to modernize voting systems used in federal elections. The proposed nonvisual access amendment would ensure that blind and visually impaired voters can use the next generation of electronic voting technology resulting from this legislation.
Under the amendment the federal department or agency administering the grants program would publish nonvisual-access standards for the development and procurement of electronic voting technology. Compliance with these standards would be one of the criteria for receipt of federal funds. Without this amendment nonvisual access, such as speech and Braille output, will be overlooked in the rush to use modern technology in voting.
Need for Legislation
According to the National Center on Policy Analysis, low voter turnout is primarily due to inconvenient voting procedures. Confirming this, an Ohio study pointed to "intimidating" voting methods as a significant reason why people don't vote. For blind people these factors are compounded by voting systems which are not only inconvenient but unusable. Inaccessible voting systems discourage blind voters from exercising the most fundamental right of citizenship--the right to vote.
Modern technologies (such as synthesized speech and speech-activated software) allow electronic information to be accessed through visual and nonvisual means. Using these technologies, blind people would be able to vote privately and independently. The Nonvisual-Access Amendment extends the convenience and benefits of electronic voting systems to sighted and blind voters alike. Any action taken during the 107th Congress to modernize voting systems will impact the way Americans vote for decades to come. Consequently needs of blind voters must not be overlooked.
The Guide Horse Foundation: Joke or Jeopardy?
by Eugenia Firth
From the Editor: If you read newspapers, watch television, or use email, you have probably heard something recently about the Guide Horse Foundation and its plans to train miniature horses as guides for blind people. I frankly laughed the first time I read one of these articles. Then I read another piece describing a blind man in Maine who preferred to make a spectacle of himself bumping into things and people rather than admit that he was blind. He expects all this to change as soon as he is given a guide horse. He believes that he will no longer mind going places once he has his trusty little horse to show him the way.
He is not alone, of course, in hoping that something outside himself will accomplish the hard work of coming to terms with vision loss. We who have walked this path know that disappointment and disillusionment lie ahead of this man and every blind person who hopes to short-circuit the adjustment-to-blindness process.
Now the leaders of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, our guide dog division, have discovered how much more disturbing and even dangerous the guide horse plan is than we had first thought. Eugenia Firth is the Association's Secretary. In the following article she describes what she and NAGDU President Suzanne Whalen have discovered about the Guide Horse Foundation. This is what she says:
Within the past year I have become aware of an organization called the Guide Horse Foundation, located in Kitrell, North Carolina. It is the brainchild of Don and Janet Burleson. Mr. and Mrs. Burleson propose to train miniature horses to serve as guides for the blind. Indeed the organization has already advertised that it plans to serve two students, Cheryl King of Washington state and Dan Shaw of Elsworth, Maine. Mrs. Burleson is a retired horse trainer, and Mr. Burleson designs Web sites.
As far as I have been able to determine from my reading of several news stories about them, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Burleson has any knowledge of blind people and our needs. Furthermore Mrs. Burleson knows nothing about training guide animals for the blind. Suzanne Whalen, the president of the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU), discovered this in an extensive telephone interview with Mrs. Burleson. This interview demonstrated that the Burlesons have made no real effort to learn proper training methods for guides as they have evolved during the past seventy‑two years, first by The Seeing Eye and then by other guide dog schools. Also in her conversation Suzanne discovered many disadvantages of miniature horses as guides, disadvantages which my reading on the subject has corroborated.
I first became interested in the Guide Horse Foundation through our division listserv, in which interested contributors discuss issues affecting guide dogs and their owners. When I first heard about miniature horses as guides, I had the same reaction as many other blind people: I laughed the concept off as a joke. However, I began to hear more about this idea, so I decided to start researching the topic for myself.
The chief problems with the Guide Horse Foundation spring from the fact that, even if the horses can learn guide work, they are inflexible and ill-adapted to dealing with changing situations. By Mrs. Burleson's own admissions Guide Horse Foundation personnel know nothing about training guides for the blind and have made very little effort to ensure that the horses will be safe guides before accepting applicants. In addition, they do not adhere to the procedures normally followed in the guide dog industry to ensure that blind people receive the best matches possible.
Mrs. Burleson told Suzanne that guide horses are not meant to replace guide dogs but only to offer another choice to blind horse lovers. She went on to say that the Guide Horse Foundation is experimenting at this stage to see whether miniature horses can work as safe, effective guides. I wonder if Mr. Shaw and Ms. King realize that they are the subjects of an experiment? Are they prepared to risk their lives for an uncertain outcome? What compelling reason could any blind person have for risking life and limb to obtain questionable mobility in these days when the methodologies for teaching cane travel and guide dog travel are well established?
The only blind people the Guide Horse Foundation proposes to serve who might become that desperate are blind wheelchair users. Mrs. Burleson has chosen Nevada, one of her larger guide horses, to be the first guide horse to pull a wheelchair while guiding a blind person. Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc., the only guide dog school currently teaching wheelchair guiding, has refined its program over the past several years. However, they started, like every other guide dog school, working with walking blind people. Mrs. Burleson, on the other hand, hasn't yet proven guide horses either safe or effective guides for walking blind people, much less for those who use wheelchairs.
Last, but certainly not least, the media have presented blind people in a poor light when describing the services of the Foundation. Although an organization cannot control what the news media finally choose to say, its attitude as expressed to the reporter does convey its philosophy and its view of the people it serves. An organization with a positive philosophy of blindness would try, whenever interviewed by the media, to present a positive attitude about blind people and their abilities. This, as far as I can see, has not been the case with the Guide Horse Foundation. The news media have focused solely on the cuteness of the horses--in one story a blind woman paraded back and forth across a street with a miniature horse decked out in children's tennis shoes. Only once, and this was a story televised by the Discovery Channel, have I heard a reporter mention the problems. He said: "There's a whole stable full of problems." I wonder if this man realized just how right he was and what an unbelievable understatement he had made. The first guide dog school, The Seeing Eye, did not seek media attention until Morris Frank, the first person to use a Seeing Eye dog, had proven to himself and to his instructors that guide dogs were safe, effective mobility aids. Yet Guide Horse Foundation representatives, even though they claim their program is experimental, have been featured on "Good Morning America," CNN, Fox News, and in the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today, People magazine, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, to name only a few.
The leaders of the National Association of Guide Dog Users believe that our community is facing a very real threat which will require collective action of the sort for which the NFB is famous. No existing legislation that I know of provides protection from irresponsible guide-animal training. Pigs are supposed to be smarter than dogs. One day soon we may find pot-bellied pigs being ballyhooed as ideal guides--the Philadelphia Inquirer recently carried a story about two women who talked their way onto a US Airways flight with a 300-pound so-called therapy pig. Unless we draw the line and insist on common sense, the variety of ill-conceived notions and poorly trained animals imposed on blind people will be limited only by the imagination and creativity of well-meaning enthusiasts.
Let us examine our immediate threat more closely. Unlike guide dogs and of course canes, guide horses limit their owners to rural areas and the suburbs. True, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Mr. Shaw plans to bring Cuddles, his guide horse, to Atlanta and ride the Metro during his training. However, whether he likes it or not, if he wants to keep a guide horse, he will need to return fairly soon to a rural area so that Cuddles can graze and run around outside. Guide horses can live for thirty years, which is one of their advantages as guides; but, according to Mrs. Burleson, the owner must stay in the rural environment during that time to benefit from that long life span.
Suzanne discovered some other disturbing limitations to miniature horses. If you have a guide horse, forget about riding in taxis, Greyhound buses, or any other vehicle that requires your guide to curl up; horses cannot curl up. While they can, according to Mrs. Burleson, be taught to lie under tables, they prefer to stand. Even if they do lie down, they must spread themselves out. The complications arising from this fact are obvious to any experienced, independent blind traveler. However, inexperienced travelers, such as the newly blind and those happy to remain dependent upon sighted friends and family members who drive roomier vehicles, may be persuaded that thirty years of guide service is precious enough to sacrifice all possibility of independence. What we are talking about, however, is thirty years of prison--the prison of dependency and limitation.
Mrs. Burleson mentioned to Suzanne some additional limitations. For example, guide horses cannot hold their waste products as long as guide dogs can. According to the Guide Horse Foundation Web site, excursions longer than five hours are not recommended without precautions, presumably those diapers the police horses wear. Guide dogs are somewhat flexible in this department. Responsible guide dog owners can tailor relief schedules to their own work schedules. However, if you have a guide horse, your horse's schedule will determine yours.
At first, when Suzanne questioned Mrs. Burleson about graduates being required to remain in a rural or suburban setting in order to benefit from a guide horse, her first response was to say that of course blind people wouldn't move. Suzanne pointed out that blind people, like everybody else, refuse to stay where they are put. Mrs. Burleson's response was that, if the blind person had to move to a city, he or she could just give up the guide horse. There goes the longevity advantage. Unless you plan never to accept urban job offers, never to marry Mr. or Ms. Right and move to the big city, never to accept that wonderful scholarship you were just offered, you can't count on the advertised advantage of a thirty-year guide horse.
Mrs. Burleson has also failed to consider the emotional pain of giving up a horse. In fact, I fear that some people who have come to love their guide horses will refuse to give them up, instead subjecting the animals to a living situation for which they are unsuited. If that happens, even one problem guide horse could cause access problems for guide dog owners.
During the telephone interview Suzanne asked Mrs. Burleson to clarify what she planned to teach guide horses. She could not do this clearly. The Foundation's Web site gives a very good description of this process, but Mrs. Burleson, the trainer, was unable to outline her curriculum. At one point the subject of assessment came up. The Guide Horse Foundation plans to bring Mr. Shaw to the school for a week of assessment, yet Mrs. Burleson could not tell Suzanne what they planned to assess or how they were going to accomplish it. An established guide dog school can tell you what skills a blind person must possess to work successfully with a guide dog, and they can explain how they evaluate a person's performance with a guide dog. Mrs. Burleson had no idea what she was going to do with Mr. Shaw. Suzanne was speaking to her toward the end of January, and Shaw is scheduled to arrive some time in March. As a guide dog user with thirty‑one years of experience, I would be unwilling to work with a guide dog instructor who exhibited so little knowledge of methodology or techniques.
Suzanne and Mrs. Burleson discussed established procedures in guide dog schools for choosing which dog a person is to receive. Cuddles, one of the horses, has already been chosen for Mr. Shaw, even though Mrs. Burleson has never evaluated him or formed a clear idea of what she is looking for in a solid working team. In a guide dog school an instructor takes the student on a walk to determine speed, pull, and the student's balance while walking. Based on conversations with the student and other assessments, the instructor matches the personality of the guide dog with the personality of the person.
No responsible guide dog school would choose a dog or make a definite match with as little information as Mrs. Burleson has used to choose Cuddles for Mr. Shaw. When Suzanne pointed out this problem, Mrs. Burleson admitted that she knew nothing about how guide dog schools pick dogs for blind people even though this process is one of the most critical aspects of training. In fact, Mrs. Burleson said that Cuddles would work for anyone but that, if this relationship didn't work out, she had nine other horses from which to pick.
All of this adds up to one thing: trouble for any blind person unwise or unfortunate enough to choose this method of mobility. We in the Federation could just sit back and let this school fail naturally, which is likely to happen eventually. However, before the school fails, blind people will be at risk, and they will make exhibitions of themselves with ridiculous‑looking guides wearing tennis shoes. These are not the booties we guide dog users sometimes use for our dogs' protection against hot concrete or snowy sidewalks; these are cutdown children's tennis shoes on the feet of tiny horses.
In addition, because of the relief problems, guide dog users may well face increased discrimination in restaurants, apartment buildings, and other public accommodations. The Board of the National Association of Guide Dog Users has voted to bring a resolution opposing the Guide Horse Foundation and its activities to our convention this summer for consideration. My fellow Federationists, we need the support of every cane and guide dog user. All of us have an interest in blind people being presented in a positive way. We guide dog users must protect our rights or risk losing them.
Braille Contractions: Are They Really So Hard?
by Ramona Walhof
From the Editor: Ramona Walhof is Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind. She is also a fluent Braille reader and experienced Braille teacher. This is what she says:
In the October, 2000, Braille Monitor an article appeared entitled "Trends in the Use of Braille Contractions in the United States: Implications for UBC Decisions" by Sally Mangold. Dr. Sally Mangold is a respected teacher and researcher. I have no comment on the UBC. I have not carefully studied it, and I operate on the assumption that Braille readers will adjust to whatever the experts decide to do. If too many experts involve themselves in the argument, the process may never be completed. However, Dr. Mangold discussed much more than the UBC in her article, and I am vitally interested in the instruction of Braille.
In the 1990s we have heard increasing discussion about teaching grade I or grade II Braille. Consider the following two quotes from Sally Mangold: "Grade I is being used more with beginning readers of all ages," and "Grade I Braille is used for instruction of newly blinded youth and adults."
First of all, why don't we eliminate the terms grade I and grade II Braille? Grade I Braille means uncontracted Braille; grade II means contracted Braille. These terms are clear to everyone, and, while we are talking about change, this would be as useful as any. Long-time Braille users understand Grade I and Grade II, but others do not. The very terms indicate that one somehow must complete grade I in order to be ready for grade II. This is a false assumption and makes Braille seem more daunting than it needs to be.
Second, let us not underestimate the ability of blind students‑‑children or adults. Yes, there are many blind children with several disabilities, and their needs must receive individual attention. Yes, contractions seem difficult to sighted people who all read and write uncontracted (grade I) print.
Dr. Mangold says that parents and classroom teachers prefer to teach uncontracted Braille because it equates more closely with print. This is true, and we must take that into consideration. However, the most important issue is what will assist more people to learn to use Braille as the wonderfully effective and useful means of reading and writing it should be for the blind. If contracted Braille helps to improve Braille reading speed, it is important. Many Braille readers are very certain that this is the case. Some, however, argue that the truth of this conviction is not well established. So let's do some studies to be sure.
My experience is that adults learn to use Braille and to depend on it for personal notes and reading books much more quickly if they learn signs--the more signs the better. In the 1970s I was teaching Braille to adults, and they were becoming bogged down and discouraged before they developed good skill in either reading or writing. We were using the old Illinois Series, three small paper‑bound volumes, to complete the instruction of standard Braille. Adult students were spending most of their time trying to improve their ability to feel the dots. This slowed them down. The books required each student to read an entire page for each letter of the alphabet. The students could learn the new letters by reading far less than a page. We could skip part of the page, but most students were reluctant to do that.
My colleague Mabel Nading and I believed that we could speed up the process of learning Braille by introducing signs sooner and in a different order. We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. Our students had been taking from six months to a year to complete standard Braille, and some never learned the whole system. With our new lessons our students needed from three weeks to six months to complete standard Braille, and very few were unable to learn the entire system. Even those who used jumbo Braille loved the signs. It saved them time and work in writing. They did not need to be experts. If one sign was missed when writing, so be it.
Student enthusiasm increased amazingly, as you can imagine. And the ways they used Braille were just as exciting. Now there are several different books available for Braille instruction. Whichever one is used, signs may or may not be regarded as a huge difficulty. Good teachers know that their attitudes about matters such as these have a major influence on the attitudes of their students.
My experience with blind children is that they do not regard signs as problems, except in certain individual situations. Alphabetic word signs are simple memory work and easily taught along with each letter: b‑but, c‑can, d‑do, etc. Many other signs consist entirely of letters of the alphabet: fr‑friend, ll‑little, rcv‑receive, cd‑could, etc. These are easy, friendly signs. Students do become confused when learning all the rules for using signs, but these are not required to recognize the contractions.
In testing spelling, obviously students use uncontracted Braille. This need not be a problem. I have seen a number of Braille spelling books that show the uncontracted word followed by the same word in its contracted form.
If signs are not taught initially, then when and how? Sighted children are taught to write printed letters in kindergarten and first grade. Then in second or third grade they are taught to write cursive. When the whole group learns together, it works. A systematic approach to teaching blind children contractions could also work. However, I have real concern that the same teachers who are not well equipped to teach signs to beginning readers will still not be well equipped to teach signs later on.
I have heard other discussions regarding Braille instruction of young blind children. Teachers tend to lament that not enough books are produced without contractions. This is a good argument for teaching contractions early. We do not want to deprive children or adults of a good variety of interesting material to read. As long as the majority of books and magazines are produced in contracted Braille, it is to the advantage of the new reader to learn the contractions as soon as possible.
If a teacher who can teach contracted Braille is not available, by all means let the student learn uncontracted Braille. But let us not pretend that this decision does not carry some risk. No matter how young the student, it is a disadvantage for him or her not to be able to pick up other Braille materials and read them. If the reading level is too advanced, a child can still pick out familiar words and phrases. This is an important part of learning to read for some sighted children just as for blind students.
I can understand that parents might enjoy spelling out words with their youngsters. There is no harm in this. Let those who are producing books for young children in uncontracted Braille continue to do so. They can serve a purpose. But this does not make contractions bad.
In a utopian society parents and teachers would all know standard Braille. We all know that is not going to happen. In the real world it seems to me we must make available as much Braille as possible, the best instruction possible, as much appropriate reading material as possible, and as much moral support from school and family as possible. Since we do not live in utopia, we must do the best we can in the circumstances. But let's not lose sight of what ought to be. And let's not forget about teaching signs to students who start out reading and writing uncontracted Braille.
I would be interested in the reactions of other Braille readers and teachers to these issues. Dr. Mangold might also find such reactions interesting. The matter is too important not to address. This is an essential aspect of Braille literacy. How many blind children will have the opportunity to be truly literate and skilled in Braille?
Have you considered leaving a gift to the National Federation of the Blind in your will? By preparing a will now, you can assure that those administering your estate will avoid unnecessary delays, legal complications, and substantial tax costs. A will is a common device used to leave a substantial gift to charity. A gift in your will to the NFB can be of any size and will be used to help blind people. Here are some useful hints in preparing your will:
! Make a list of everything you want to leave (your estate).
! Decide how and to whom you want to leave these assets.
! Consult an attorney (one you know or one we can help you find).
! Make certain you thoroughly understand your will before you sign it.
For more information contact the National Federation of the Blind, Special Gifts, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998, (410) 659-9314, fax (410) 685-5653.
Sacramento Bee Takes Hard Look at Problems Facing the Blind
From the Editor: On January 28 and 29, 2001, a Sacramento Bee staff writer, Melanie Payne, published a total of five articles, each on some aspect of the complex of problems facing today's blind citizens. Although she focused on California and its statistics, what she said holds pretty much true across the country. Many of the people she interviewed were Federationists. Here are the articles as they appeared:
Setting Sights on Good Jobs:
Fighting Stereotypes, Rejection
All in Day's Work for the Blind
by Melanie Payne
January 28--Linda O'Neal, Brenda Sanden, and Paul Carver can swap horror stories about finding a job. All three are college-educated, experienced, and qualified, in some cases overqualified, for the work they were seeking.
Their complaints vary. Some employers held them to higher standards than their other employees. Other employers looked at them for jobs that required only remedial skills. And some outright refused to interview them. But O'Neal, Sanden, and Carver do have one other thing in common. All three are blind.
Linda O'Neal was laid off from her last job as a relay operator at Sprint about four years ago. The relay operators act as intermediaries between deaf and hearing callers. Some 300 of those operators lost their jobs when Sprint lost the California relay contract to a lower bidder.
Within months most of the relay operators O'Neal knew had been re‑employed, including some to other positions in Sprint. It was easy for many of the relay operators to find new jobs. The economy was booming, and relay operators were smart, quick typists with good communication skills. But unlike O'Neal they weren't blind.
O'Neal said she expected it would take awhile for her to find a job. "But I didn't expect it to take two years." She credits her Department of Rehabilitation counselor with helping her finally land a job as a customer service representative at the California State Automobile Association.
Although relieved to find a job, O'Neal missed her previous work. As a relay operator she used a Braille display to read the information typed in by a deaf person and then would type in the hearing person's response. It was fun and different every day. She was familiar with the technology. She was confident and comfortable in the job.
The new job was much different. O'Neal was frustrated by the technology, the difficulty of learning a new job, and a horrific commute.
"There were a couple of times during the first year that it seemed like it was way too much," O'Neal said. "There were a couple of times I almost gave up. Had there been another job, I would have given up." O'Neal learned to use the Windows‑based software (which is hard for blind people because it is based more on graphics than text) and now enjoys the job. But her transportation problems persist. O'Neal and her guide dog Miranda commute from their Natomas apartment to Rancho Cordova by bus, light rail, and foot. If she makes great time, she gets there in an hour and twenty minutes. On a bad day the trip can be two-and-a-half hours long. O'Neal said, when she got her first job, she felt as if she had to prove herself. Work harder than anyone else because she was blind. Prove to her employer that he should have hired her.
Even now she feels some guilt about her situation. She is grateful in a way most employees are not over the adaptive equipment her company had to purchase so that she could do her customer-service job.
"The employer is expected to purchase any adaptive software or adaptive equipment," O'Neal said. "That to me is wrong. That employer shouldn't be expected to [provide the blind employee anything special]."
When she was looking for a job, several companies told her that it was going to cost too much money to hire her, O'Neal said. "We can't afford that in our budget," she was told. That's why now, O'Neal explained, "I feel beholden in a sense, that they gave me a chance."
Davis resident Brenda Sanden has worked as a contract specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service for the past eight years.
For years before that, however, Sanden was underemployed despite an undergraduate degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts and a law degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Sanden had wanted to be an employment law attorney "because I had been so frustrated myself." But Sanden's problems were not just discrimination. Despite a good education Sanden lacked two skills blind people need to get employed‑‑she didn't know Braille, and she couldn't travel independently. Because Sanden's blindness was caused by juvenile macular degeneration, which can be a gradual deterioration of eyesight, she was encouraged as a child to use her residual sight. As a result she said, "I learned to hide my blindness." She used magnifiers and large print to read and didn't learn Braille.
She stayed in the same community growing up and going to college, so she learned to get around without using a cane because the environment was familiar to her. Both things changed as she got older. Her vision deteriorated, and she left Amherst. "I didn't realize how poor my vision was until I left my community," Sanden lamented, where she "had learned the layout ... so well." "I was afraid," Sanden said. She realized she had never been on her own; there had always been a family member or friend who guided her around.
"I realized it wasn't cool to go to a job interview with someone leading you up to the employer's door," she said. When she couldn't find a job, she went on disability and found the experience "demeaning, degrading, and boring," she said. "It affects your self‑esteem." So she went to work doing the only job she could find, booking reservations for the Marriott Hotel chain, where she worked for two years. But the work wasn't challenging, and the job was a dead end, she said.
Sanden went to school to learn cane travel so she could become independently mobile. She also learned Braille, and although she's not great at it, she can use it for filing, making notes for herself, and keeping things organized. Sanden also decided to take the civil service test and see if she could get a job with the federal government. She reasoned that with a high enough score they would have to hire her.
She scored in the eightieth percentile. It qualified her for a job, but that was only part of the battle. She had to get into a department that would get her an assistant who could read for her. People also questioned her ability to do the job. "When I first was hired, there was a lot of resistance. People couldn't understand how a visually impaired or blind person could do contracting," she said. As a result she's tried to work harder and smarter. And, over the years, she's had to defend her work to skeptical co‑workers and supervisors. "I've had to prove myself harder than anyone else," she said.
Paul Carver just wanted the chance to prove himself. The forty‑year‑old Rancho Cordova resident has been working with computers since the early 1980s. And now he assembles them, distinguishing the various components through touch. The pins allow him to tell the difference between a network card and a video card. The other components are just as easy to differentiate, except for the keyboard port and the mouse port. They're the only ones that give him trouble, except on a Compaq, where there is a small, raised picture of each over the port. Carver can feel it.
He laughs a bit sarcastically when asked if he thought they did that to make it easier for people who couldn't see. It's the only time the affable Carver gives any indication of being jaded. There are prejudice and misconceptions about blindness, Carver said. "When a blind person walks into an interview...blindness colors the perception of what that person can do."
When Carver, a computer engineer, was looking for a job, he registered with employment agencies. One called him back with an interview for a job. He'd never been to the agency. "Blind" doesn't appear on his resume. The guy from the agency offered to drive him to the interview so they could meet and talk. Carver agreed. When the day for the interview came, Carver stood in front of his house waiting for his ride. He heard a car go by slowly, pass him, and turn around. It came back again and stopped in front of the house. Carver walked to the door, got into the car, and introduced himself.
The man wouldn't start the car and drive away. "Isn't the interview in fifteen minutes," Carver asked him. The man answered him by stating the obvious: "You're blind." Carver said they spent the next forty-five minutes sitting at the curb in front of his house. The man told Carver he should have told him he was blind. "If I had told you, would you be sitting here now?" Carver asked. He answered, "No." Carver, angry, went back into his house. The next day he called the agency and told the man that he could come to his house so that he could demonstrate the technology he used and how he could do a job. And if he didn't agree to at least come and see, Carver would sue him.
The man showed up, and Carver spent an hour with him. The next day he called with a job interview. But Carver didn't need it; he'd already found another job. Carver has been working as an information systems analyst for the Office of Emergency Services Disaster Assistance Division for five years now. When he went to his job interview, he was escorted through a labyrinth‑like office building. Months later, when he was talking to the man that hired him, he thanked him for "giving (him) the opportunity to do the job." According to Carver, his boss said, "Well, the thing that clinched it for me was that you were the only one who interviewed for the job who could find the way out of the building without assistance." "I found that amusing," Carver said.
Special Agency for Blind Sought:
Advocacy Groups Fault Rehabilitation Department
by Melanie Payne
January 28--It was a historic moment. One night early this year over wine and Chinese food, members of the National Federation of the Blind of California and the members of the California Council of the Blind set aside some thirty years of bickering to come together for a cause.
They, along with other advocacy groups for the blind, have formed the Blindness Alliance for Rehabilitation Change. The alliance is going up against what they say is a multimillion dollar bureaucracy--the Department of Rehabilitation.
The alliance says the best way to serve the state's estimated 600,000 blind and visually impaired people is to stop lumping them in with other disabled people. Instead they recommend establishing a Commission for the Blind, an agency specifically designed to meet the needs of the blind.
Alliance members say that about 70 percent of working age blind people are out of work despite the booming economy and the estimated $25 million a year that the Department of Rehabilitation spends on services for the blind. California's unemployment rate now hovers at about 3.2 percent.
The Department of Rehabilitation's mission is to assist those with all types of disabilities in gaining employment and becoming independent. Critics say that, because the department isn't focused on the needs of the blind, it doesn't adequately help the blind.
The thirty-eight-year-old department "clearly isn't established for blind people," said Nancy Burns, president of the National Federation of the Blind of California and former counselor for the Department of Rehabilitation.
"There are special needs and training that a blind person needs to be independent," Burns said. But the department doesn't understand that," she said, "and it isn't giving people the skills they need to be able to work."
Erin Treadwell, a department spokeswoman, said the department had no position on the commission and declined to comment on it.
The department's director, Catherine Campisi, who moved into the position last year, was unavailable to comment because of a busy schedule, Treadwell said. Treadwell did, however, elaborate on the changes under way at the Department of Rehabilitation to address some of the blind community's concerns.
In the last six months, Treadwell said, the department hired a new deputy director of specialized service, who will oversee services to the blind and deaf. It is also reinstituting a requirement that counselors for the blind and deaf exhibit additional competency in order to serve blind and deaf clients.
The department, which has been understaffed, has launched a nationwide search for qualified rehabilitation counselors, Treadwell added. Critics contend, however, that this is too little, too late.
Nationwide, an estimated 70 percent of blind people of working age are without jobs, a figure that has remained unchanged despite record low unemployment levels for the sighted population, according to statistics from the National [American] Foundation for the Blind.
In fiscal 1999-2000 the Department of Rehabilitation placed in jobs roughly 323 people who were blind or visually impaired, including nineteen who were self-employed. Ten people in the Sacramento district got jobs with the assistance of the Department of Rehabilitation.
Bryan Bashin, executive director for the Society for the Blind in Sacramento, is harshly critical of the job the Department of Rehabilitation is doing to help the blind find jobs.
"California really lags behind," Bashin said. "If you live in Texas and you're blind, you have seven times the chance of getting a job than if you live in California." Bashin recognizes that the department has begun to change. Still, he said, the system needs "a fundamental, structural rebuilding."
The unemployment rate for the blind and what activists see as the failure of the department to address adequately the situation has galvanized support for a separate Commission for the Blind. The Department of Rehabilitation has "six layers of bureaucracy" between the rehabilitation counselor and the director, said Gil Johnson, director of the National Employment Program for the American Foundation for the Blind.
By its own admission the Department of Rehabilitation is spending an estimated $25 million annually on services for the blind. It successfully meets the rehabilitation goals for 1,240 of the roughly 4,900 clients who use its services each year. Of those 1,240, about 300 are placed in jobs.
The department's total budget is $444 million. It spends about $316 million on vocational rehabilitation. According to Johnson the department has seventy rehabilitation counselors that work with blind clients. Half of those counselors provide job services; the others work with clients on independent living skills.
That means an average of four to five blind people were placed in employment by each of the department's seventy counselors last year, Johnson said. The national average, he said, is fifteen. In addition the average salary of a person placed in a job through the Department of Rehabilitation is $350 a week.
Oregon illustrates the flexibility of a commission for the blind over an all-encompassing Department of Rehabilitation. The fifty-five-staff-member commission for the blind placed 114 blind people in jobs last year, with an average weekly salary of $423. The blind population in Oregon numbers about 70,000--about one-tenth California's number of blind and severely visually impaired. But the Oregon Commission for the Blind placed in jobs one-third as many as were placed by the Department of Rehabilitation.
Frank Synoground, assistant director of rehabilitation services for the Oregon Commission for the Blind and a former California resident, said that the commission is "more consumer-driven" than a rehabilitation agency that serves all disabilities. Four of the seven commission board members are blind, he said. The administrator of the agency serves "at the pleasure of the board," he said, rather than as a political appointee.
Yet some critics say a small organization wouldn't be practical in a state like California because it would duplicate $25 million in administrative services that are already done by the Department of Rehabilitation.
Even if that's true, commission supporters argue, employed blind people would more than make up for the money. There are more than 100,000 blind people of working age in the state who aren't paying taxes and are collecting welfare, disability payments, and other forms of public assistance, said Bashin, who estimates those programs cost taxpayers $10,000 a year per person.
Dan Kysor, director of governmental affairs for the California Council of the Blind, is supporting a bill that would set up a nine-member commission--including at least five blind or visually impaired members--for the blind in California. He's enlisted the support of state Senator John Burton, who introduced SB 105, a bill to establish a Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Burton said the Department of Rehabilitation "grossly under-utilized" the services of California's thirty community agencies that serve the blind.
Although Kysor said he expects the majority of legislators to support the bill, he expects resistance to come from the governor's office. A spokesman for the governor had no comment on the commission bill since it was submitted only recently and hadn't been reviewed yet.
Opening Work Door:Blind Must Overcome Prejudice, Lack of Skills
by Melanie Payne
January 29--Because of society's negative perception of blind people's abilities and because many blind people lack skills they need to work--such as independent mobility and Braille literacy--about 70 percent of blind people of working age nationally are jobless, said Bryan Bashin, executive director of the Society for the Blind in Sacramento. That compares to an overall unemployment rate of about 3.2 percent in California.
As a group the blind are solid citizens, Bashin said. Many are well educated, commit few crimes, and indulge in little substance abuse, he said.
Employers are crying for this type of worker, he said‑‑except, it seems, when they are blind. Many employers won't give blind workers a chance, Bashin said. They don't believe that a blind person can do the work. But often the problem is with the blind themselves, who lack the necessary work skills because they never received proper training.
Brenda Sanden, a Davis woman who is blind, didn't learn Braille or travel skills until she was an adult. "I had great parents," Sanden said. "But they were too protective." As a result, she said, when she became an adult, "I didn't have confidence."
Castro Valley resident Priscilla Ching said that young blind people often lack role models and don't know that an independent life is available to them. "I didn't know successful blind people," Ching said. Ching, who became blind at fourteen, was encouraged to rely on what she described as "unreliable" residual vision. She didn't learn to use a cane. She also didn't learn Braille.
The mobility issue, however, was a particular problem for the independent‑minded woman. She had to be led around, a situation she didn't like, but she didn't know she had a choice, she said.
That was until she went to the University of California, Davis, where she befriended another blind student who used the long white cane. She saw how her friend was independent and liberated. Ching decided to attend the Louisiana Center for the Blind, where she learned both Braille and cane travel. She went on to earn a master's degree in educational psychology with an emphasis in orientation and mobility.
And she excelled at both. After completing cane-travel instruction, Ching traveled by herself to Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. She recently returned from a solo trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. At the end of January she'll head to the East Coast, traveling to Washington, D.C., and Boston.
"Having good travel skills sets you free," Ching said. "It (the cane) allows you to do what you want to do when you want to do it." Many people like Sanden and Ching don't learn these skills as children, Bashin said. And it can severely affect their ability to get a job in adulthood.
Braille literacy is one of the best correlations with employment, Bashin said. Although Braille literacy among the blind is about 10 percent, the Braille literacy rate is 93 percent among blind people who are employed.
Braille is a code of raised dots that allows the blind to read by touch. Invented in the early nineteenth century, Braille was slow to catch on. But by the 1950s, the rate of Braille literacy among the blind was around 60 percent. Then, in the 1960s, the culture changed. Braille was thought to be clunky and slow. Tape recorders and recorded speech‑‑books on tape and talking computers‑‑were the future.
"Mechanical speech meant the death of Braille," Bashin said, even though mechanical speech is inappropriate for many tasks. Hearing is not the same as reading, even when the reading is done with the fingers instead of the eyes.
Try, for instance, following a recipe after only hearing the directions. What about hearing a mathematical formula? Or a list of inventory items? But speech replaced Braille first in recordings and then with computers, and the Braille literacy rate dropped to where it is today, around 10 percent.
Mechanical speech wasn't the only thing that killed Braille, said Nancy Burns, president of the National Federation of the Blind of California. The educational policies of the 1960s and 1970s also hurt. It used to be that blind people were sent away to residential schools, where they learned "daily living skills," how to get around independently and live as a blind person, in addition to academic subjects, Burns said.
And, most important, they learned to read Braille. In the 1960s and 1970s, however, the movement began to keep blind children in their communities. Although this kept children with their families, which was a good thing, she said, they didn't get good training in Braille and travel skills in public schools.
For one thing there weren't enough teachers who specialized in teaching skills to the blind. If a school had only two or three blind children, the school couldn't have a full-time instructor for them, so the job was turned over to itinerant teachers.
That's still the way it's done today, she said. In Victorville, for example, the instructor who teaches Braille to blind children is there only two hours a week. The result is illiterate young adults, Burns said. They can't go to work, she said, because they can't read and write.
High‑Tech Devices Ease Adaptation
by Melanie Payne
January 29--Technology has made it possible for blind people to do all kinds of work. By using optical equipment that raises images on paper and software that reads e‑mail messages aloud, the blind can serve as call center operators, computer programmers, attorneys, and even astrophysicists. However, that hasn't translated to more of the 600,000 blind people in California finding employment. "With technology, we thought we would see a great upsurge in employment for blind people," said Catherine Skivers, president of the California Council of the Blind. Instead, she said, many employers either don't know the technology exists or don't want to believe it can be used by blind people to be effective on the job. Kent Cullers, who is blind, is director of research and development for the SETI Institute in Mountainview. SETI, which is an acronym for "search for extraterrestrial intelligence," was formerly a NASA program and is now a private company. It's most famous for the project that listens for radio signals from space that may be deliberate or inadvertent transmissions from other planets.
Cullers, who is in his early fifties, describes himself as a "child of high tech." He has always tried to be at the forefront of using technology for the blind. He used an Optacon camera that scanned a page and produced the image with raised pins, allowing a blind person to feel what a photo or text looked like. "I proofed my Ph.D. thesis on a gadget like that, one letter at a time," Cullers said.
Since then the technology has advanced and has made it much easier for blind people to interact with the sighted world. Humanware, a company located in Loomis, produces and sells state‑of‑the‑art adaptive equipment for the blind. Al Puzzuoli, a blind employee at Humanware who is a specialist in products for the blind, found a number of items to assist him in his sales job. One was software that read off his e‑mail messages in a synthesized voice. Puzzuoli listened to them at the rate of 500 words per minute--about five times faster than average speech and incomprehensible to all but the blind people in the room.
"I have speech going at a pretty good rate," Puzzuoli said, explaining that through practice most blind people can discern speech at a faster rate. It's really a necessity, Puzzuoli said, since speech is slower than reading. Puzzuoli used another item to scan his mail. He could then choose to have it read aloud to him, again at a 500‑word speed. Other items at Puzzuoli's disposal were Braille writers that allowed him to type text into a computer and then print it out in Braille to proofread or to send off to a blind person.
In most jobs, "with the right adaptive equipment," said Humanware President Jim Halliday, "a blind person could be as productive" as a sighted person. The problem, Halliday said, is to get the employer over the initial reluctance to hire a blind person. Some employers don't know how far the adaptive equipment has come. Sometimes they fear that it will be too expensive. Some equipment is very costly. A Braille display, for example, may cost $10,000. But the employee may be able to get by with a speech display, which is $1,000. "You're selling the employer not on the technology," Halliday said, "but on the blind person being able to do the job."
Some blind people were doing their jobs before computer technology and many of the advances in adaptive equipment became available. Ralph Black, for instance, is one. Black, the general counsel for the chancellor's office of the California Community Colleges, started working as an attorney there in 1980. Adaptive equipment, Black said, "has certainly made my job easier." But more than that, he said, it has allowed him to stay competitive and "operate in the same environment everyone else is operating in." His employer has been quite generous in providing equipment, Black said.
He has a scanner that allows him to scan and read documents and a Braille printer to produce Braille documents for meetings. He has a small notetaker that uses speech and Braille output. And his computer has speech output and a Braille display. Some blind people worry that employers will be reluctant to hire them because they might assume the Americans with Disabilities Act will obligate them to provide expensive adaptive equipment. But that is not the case, said Erin Treadwell, spokeswoman for the Department of Rehabilitation.
The "expertise is out there" to design a way for employees to do jobs with sometimes very inexpensive adaptive equipment, Treadwell said. She admitted the ADA has scared away some employers who fear that hiring a blind person opens them up to lawsuits and "special treatment." But the cost of adaptive technology shouldn't be used against blind people, Treadwell said.
"All of those concerns can be addressed, removed, or mitigated," Treadwell said. "It's just having an employer with the guts to give it a try."
Vending Job Program Draws Chorus of Critics
by Melanie Payne
January 29--More than sixty-five years after it was approved by Congress, the federal act that established a program to recruit and train the blind to operate vending services in government buildings is coming under attack.
Critics have argued that the Business Enterprise Program makes a few vendors wealthy while others scrape by and that it spends too much money to benefit too few blind people.
According to the American Foundation for the Blind, the state Department of Rehabilitation spent about $8 million to $10 million in the last fiscal year on the program. The money goes toward recruiting and training vendors, helping them purchase inventory, and other administrative costs.
However, only nine new vendors were set up during that time, according to the American Foundation for the Blind. Seven vending locations closed. Others criticize the program as socialism for the blind. The BEP vendors own and operate snack stands, coffee bars, cafeterias, and vending machine operations throughout the state. The vendors aren't really independent, critics say, but operate under a paternalistic program, a relic from the days when blind people had to be taken care of.
Joni Patche, who is blind, used to be one of the naysayers. She had planned to be a college graduate and go on to a career as a translator. She remembers passing the blind vendors as she commuted on the subway in her hometown of Boston and feeling as if she could do better.
Now Patche is one of the 155 vendors in California's BEP program. It's not welfare at all, Patche said. "It's hard work." No one would work this hard for welfare. Patche is at Joni's Java Junction, a snack bar and coffee shop located in the Department of Rehabilitation building in Sacramento, every weekday from 5:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
Even on weekends, when the shop is closed, Patche comes in to check on things. She started in 1983 with $1,700 in inventory. She now has about $17,000 in inventory and several employees. Patche's husband Paul is also a BEP vendor with a snack bar in another state office building.
Patche operates through incredible organization, employing some sighted employees, and with the assistance of a consultant. The consultant helps her with displays and new ideas that might make her business more profitable.
Employees will tell her if equipment needs to be cleaned or something is amiss. Customers also help out, Patche said, telling her if an employee "looks scruffy." But for the most part she's on her own, Patche said.
"It's all-consuming," she said. "If I want to take a vacation, I have to find someone to work for me." The shops are profitable, but it's not quite enough to meet the Patches' needs. They still receive disability payments that supplement the business income for the family of five.
That too, however, is a criticism of the program. Vendors don't have the incentive that regular business owners have to turn a profit--there's always supplemental disability from the government. But still many vendors need it. Among the state's 155 BEP vendors fourteen made in excess of $100,000 in profits last year. But fifty-three vendors made less than $20,000.
Erin Treadwell, the spokeswoman for the state Department of Rehabilitation, said she's heard the criticisms, and in the past people have tried to revamp the program. But, she said, the minute that the department starts to tinker with the BEP program to make it more equitable or to make vendors more competitive, there's an uproar from the blind community.
Traveling around Philadelphia
by Jim Antonacci
From the Editor: Jim Antonacci, President of the NFB of Pennsylvania, has traveled for years around the City of Brotherly Love. In the following short article he tells you what you need to know to get to the Marriott when you arrive in Philadelphia and then how to find what you want in the heart of the city. If you take the time to read what he says carefully and memorize a few street names and their order, you will be in great shape to enjoy the area the first week in July. If you have not yet made your reservation, look back at the information at the beginning of this issue and reserve your room immediately:
Now that you have read in recent Monitors about some of the things that Philadelphia has to offer you during the 2001 convention of the National Federation of the Blind, you will want to know how to get around the city.
First let's explain some of the geography of the center-city area. You will be happy to learn that almost all of the streets in the downtown area run north and south or east and west. The Delaware River is the eastern border of the city, separating Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The north-south street nearest the river, therefore, is aptly named Delaware Avenue. The next street to the west is First Street, followed by Second, etc., up to Sixty-Ninth Street. However, Fourteenth Street is known as Broad Street. Market Street is the divider between North and South Philadelphia and runs east and west through the entire city. As you proceed north from Market Street, the first street is Filbert Street (one-half block north), followed by Arch and then Race Streets. As you proceed south from Market, the streets are named Chestnut, Sansom, Walnut, Locust, Spruce, Pine, Lombard, and South Street. The Marriott Hotel is between Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets (east to west) and Market and Filbert (south to north). The streets were laid out so that each full block is one-tenth of a mile long. For example, if you began at Twelfth and Market Streets and walked seven blocks east to Fifth Street, then one block south to Chestnut, you would arrive at the corner where Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are located, after having walked only eight-tenths of a mile.
Philadelphia has an excellent system of busses, trolleys, subways, and commuter rail services, which funnel through the central business district of the city. You might say that, if all roads in Italy lead to Rome, in Philadelphia all public transportation leads to the Marriott Hotel.
If you are flying into the city, you have your choice of transportation methods to get to the Marriott. If you choose to take a cab, be advised that a flat-rate charge of $20 each way is in effect. You can also make your way to the ground transportation area of the airport (near baggage claim) and call one of the available shuttle services on a free phone. The cost for these is about $8 per person for a one‑way trip. During regular business hours these run every half hour, but, if you plan to take a flight arriving in the wee hours of the morning or you have an excessive amount of baggage, you may need to make special arrangements with the services. Lady Liberty Transportation can be reached at (215) 724‑8888. USA Limo Shuttle Services is at (215) 546‑4044.
You can also take the regional rail service, running every thirty minutes, which stops at each airline concourse and brings you to within a block of the hotel. This is a regular commuter rail service with conductors on each car, who will help you with luggage and will collect your fare of $5 so that you won't have to find any hidden ticket offices. If you take the train, you will travel east, right under the hotel, disembark at the Market East station, and proceed up an escalator facing west from the platform level to the concourse level. After walking a half-block west on this level, you will find an elevator off to your right whose doors face east. Take this elevator up one more level to the street. After getting off the elevator (still facing east), glass doors opening onto Filbert Street will be on your left. Turn left to locate Twelfth Street about thirty yards away. After crossing this street, you will find yourself at the end of a horseshoe driveway, which you can follow into the north-facing entrance to the Marriott.
For those interested in taking Amtrak to Philadelphia, the regional rail system has an agreement which allows you to travel free from Amtrak's Thirtieth Street Station, east to the Market East Station. You need only get directions up a ramp to an escalator, which brings you to the regional rail platform of tracks One and Two. You will not leave the building until you actually reach the platform. Take any train stopping on this platform two stops to the Market East Station. Then follow the directions above for reaching the hotel from that station. You can also easily catch a taxi outside the Thirtieth Street Station, which will drop you off at the Marriott. This one-way taxi ride should cost about $6.
For those coming in by bus, the Greyhound terminal is between Tenth and Eleventh Streets on the north side of Filbert Street. Exit the station on its south side and turn right. Cross Eleventh and Twelfth Streets, noting the Reading Market between them. Both these intersections are traffic-light controlled. Cross Filbert, and you are at the northeast corner of the hotel as described earlier.
Of course those who live close enough can drive to the hotel, but be warned that parking in Philadelphia is costly. In fact the Marriott charges $24 a night for anyone parking for a full day. So keep this in mind when choosing your method of transportation to the convention this summer.
No matter what conveyance you pick to get to our city, we promise to show you warm hospitality; a fascinating mix of Philadelphia past, present, and future; and a liberal dose of that unique Federation spirit that makes our conventions second to none. See you in July!
Struggling with the Tough Questions
by Carol Castellano
From the Editor: Prenatal Testing and Disability Rights, Erik Parens and Adrienne Asch, Editors, published by Georgetown University Press, © 2000, 371 pages, is a thought-provoking new collection of essays focusing on some of the most difficult and troubling ethical questions facing the disability community and society as a whole today. Adrienne Asch is a long-time Federationist and one of the strongest voices today articulating the rights of disabled people. Carol Castellano is First Vice President of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Here is her review of this important new book:
Science has cracked the human genetic code. Modern-day research holds the promise of new understanding and treatment of disease and disability. Our society sees this for the most part as a good-–we won't get sick, won't become disabled, won't grow old. One aspect of the genetic information explosion is prenatal testing, which can screen fetuses for hundreds of genetic conditions. Prenatal testing has come to be seen as a logical extension of good prenatal care–-after all, it helps prospective parents have healthy babies. Who could argue with this goal?
Prenatal Testing and Disability Rights takes a hard look at the implications of prenatal testing and subsequent selective abortion from a variety of points of view. The book is edited by Erik Parens, associate for philosophical studies at the Hastings Center in Garrison, New York, a research institute which addresses ethical issues in the areas of health, medicine, and the environment, and Adrienne Asch, the Henry R. Luce Professor in Biology, Ethics, and the Politics of Human Reproduction at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, as well as a recent recipient of the NFB's Blind Educator of the Year Award. The book is the result of a Hastings Center project that sought to bring together disability theorists and advocates with members of the bioethics and medical communities to discuss the disability rights critique of prenatal testing for genetic disability. Among the contributors to the project were scholars and researchers in the fields of disability studies, medical genetics, genetic counseling, medicine, law, the social sciences, ethics, philosophy, education, and public health. Some of the participants had disabilities, and some were parents of people with disabilities.
Those espousing the disability rights critique question the unbridled use of prenatal testing, especially since its purpose, often unspoken, is to prevent the birth of babies with various disabilities or conditions. The critique has three main contentions: that the decision to abort a fetus diagnosed with a genetic abnormality is often made on the basis of false assumptions about life with a disability; that prenatal testing and selective abortion have frightening implications for parenthood and our ideas about the loving parental bond; and that a negative message is sent to society by the act of terminating a pregnancy specifically to avoid the birth of a child with a disability.
Parens and Asch suggest that the offer of a prenatal genetic test is in itself not neutral, because it means that those who make the offer think that a reasonable person might go down the path of testing followed by selective abortion. The authors would prefer that medical care providers encourage prospective parents to explore their feelings and values and consider realistic information about disability. In this way the message conveyed would be that a reasonable person might also choose not to abort.
Can bringing up a child with a disability offer the same satisfactions and joys as raising a nondisabled child? Do families with a disabled child suffer damage and dysfunction in a manner and degree not even comparable to families with nondisabled children? According to the book, the professional literature on the subject tends to present living with a disability or being the parents of a child with a disability as an unmitigated misery, full of chronic sorrow and pain and quite outside the realm of normal familial experience. The book cites a 1981 research article called "Parentalplegia," which helpfully explains that children with handicapping conditions cause a secondary handicapping condition in the parents-–parentalplegia, a psycho-physiological or stress-induced condition caused by an inability on the part of parents to adjust to the handicap of their children.
This is the literature that forms the basis of thought for those who counsel prospective parents deciding whether or not to abort. Although these professionals are committed to nondirective counseling (not telling couples what to do), the information they are working from when they offer a picture of what life might be like with a particular condition tends to be grim.
Interestingly, reports from disabled individuals themselves and from their families paint a much more balanced picture. Self-reporting indicates that joy as well as challenge fills the lives of people with disabilities and that families with disabled children fare on the whole no better and no worse than families with nondisabled children. A strong recommendation in the book is for those in the medical and genetics-counseling fields to learn more about life with a disability from people who live that life so that they can provide more balanced information.
Are there extra demands involved in parenting a child with a disability? Several contributors to the book argue that these demands may be constructions of society, meaning that, if society would change to become more helpful and welcoming, raising a disabled child would not encompass extra demands. Families seem able to cope and adapt, especially when appropriate services are available.
Should parents be expected to accept any child, regardless of health or condition, even when the option exists to choose a different fetus, an unaffected fetus? What is the nature of parental love? Should we have an expectation that parents can love any baby unconditionally? Some in the book argue that genetic testing and the option of selective abortion make entering a family more like entering a club, where selection is based on certain characteristics; and, if a person doesn't have the right ones, he or she cannot get in.
And what of the message sent by a decision to abort to avoid disability? Does such a decision express a devaluation or unacceptance or even contempt of those who already exist and live with disability? The concern is poignantly articulated by Adrienne Asch: "Do not disparage the lives of existing and future disabled people by trying to screen for and prevent the birth of babies with their characteristics" (p. 13), and by Marsha Saxton: "The message at the heart of widespread selective abortion on the basis of prenatal diagnosis is the greatest insult: some of us are `too flawed' in our very DNA to exist; we are unworthy of being born." (p. 14) Saxton suggests that society should eradicate the social discrimination that attends disability, not eradicate the people who have the disabilities.
Other authors in the volume reject the contention that a negative message is sent by women who choose to abort. Their essays argue that women who choose selective abortion may still be entirely accepting of people with disabilities and supportive of the goals of the disability rights movement.
Among the many interesting themes discussed in the book is the fact that people can hold complex and contradictory beliefs about a subject. The results of research by Nancy Press and Carole Browner exploring pregnant women's attitudes toward disability in the context of prenatal testing demonstrate this. When women were asked what they admired about people with disabilities, they answered with upbeat and very positive, even romanticized attitudes. When asked how they themselves might react to the experience of raising a child with a disability, a very different-–and negative–-set of views emerged.
Other fascinating research by Dorothy C. Wertz involves the attitudes of genetics professionals, primary care physicians, and patients toward abortion in various situations, personal attitudes about abortion for specific conditions, and attitudes regarding what kind of genetics counseling would be appropriate if specific conditions were present in the fetus. Again general attitudes conflicted with personal values. These complex issues and internal contradictions are expressed in a very personal way in the moving and beautiful essay "Somewhere a Mockingbird" by Federationist Deborah Kent.
One of the many other powerful issues explored in the book is whether or not our society will or should accept the drawing of lines regarding when selective abortion would be acceptable. Would it be acceptable, for example, for a condition in which a baby would live a painful life of only a few hours? What about for sex selection? Another disturbing issue discussed in the book is the reality of wrongful-birth and wrongful-life lawsuits, where for better or worse court decisions are shaping the direction in which our society will go.
This thought-provoking book does not claim to answer all of the questions it raises. It certainly succeeds in its goals of providing a forum for a serious examination of the disability rights critique and for stimulating societal discussion of these complex and critical issues that will be with us increasingly in the years to come.
The Slate Book: A Review
by Doris M. Willoughby
From the Editor: For years Jennifer Dunnam has collected ideas for a book teaching effective use of the slate and stylus to write Braille. She has two excellent credentials for taking on such a project: she is herself an experienced Braille reader and writer, and she is a gifted Braille teacher. She says that much of the book was first jotted down using a slate as she thought up ideas for exercises or collected information on different slates and helpful techniques. Many people contributed to the book, and Jennifer's own students helped her spot mistakes.
Doris Willoughby is herself a widely respected writer and educator of blind children. Here is her enthusiastic review of The Slate Book:
"The slate is the basic, universal Braille writing tool and is equivalent to the pen or pencil for writing print." This is the first sentence in the excellent new book by Jennifer Dunnam. Topics include loading the slate, holding the stylus, keeping the place, increasing speed, hints on taking notes, specific techniques, and practice exercises.
Detailed, sequential practice exercises are provided. Practice sentences are interesting and varied but avoid exotic and unusual words. Extensive suggestions address various barriers‑‑real and perceived‑‑that often deter people from using the slate. The heading "101 Topics" lists suggestions for short compositions. (Example: Describe your worst shopping nightmare.)
Jennifer Dunnam is a skilled slate user and a Braille teacher with extensive experience. She has made this book appropriate for adult students, teachers, parents, and children. Several helpful photographs appear; however, everything is also clearly described verbally.
In all, there are sixty-one pages of helpful information and suggestions. Many things, such as the composition topics, are useful for areas of study other than the slate itself. The book's focus, however, is clearly on the slate: "It is assumed that the student either already knows how to read Braille or is currently learning with the help of instructional material and/or a teacher."
Reading this book is like having a nice, long visit with a very good teacher, with opportunities to observe actual classes. The Slate Book is available for $14 from the National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. At this time it is available only in inkprint; however, Braille and recorded editions are planned.
Note that the Grade II signs are introduced in the same order as in The McDuffy Reader, which is an excellent instruction book for learning to read Braille and is also available from the National Federation of the Blind. Credit card orders may be placed by fax to (410) 685-5653, attention Materials Center, or by emailing <[email protected]>. Be sure to include both the credit card number and the expiration date.
The Slate Book is a labor of love, and it fills a real need in Braille instruction. We now have no excuses for failing to teach or learn the use of the Braille slate.
2001 Convention Attractions
From the Editor: Every year's National Convention is an absolutely unique event. The agenda items, the exhibits, the new friends and business acquaintances: all these give each convention its own character and significance. Some activities lend a luster to the convention in part because they do take place every year and provide helpful fixed points in the whirl of events. In this category are the meetings of the Resolutions Committee and the Board of Directors, the annual banquet, and the many seminars and workshops of the various divisions and committees. Here is a partial list of activities being planned by a number of Federation groups during the 2001 Convention, July 1 through 7. Presidents of divisions, committee chairpeople, and event presenters have provided the information. The pre-convention agenda will list the locations of all events taking place before convention registration on Monday, July 2. The convention agenda will contain listings of all events taking place beginning that day.
The Agriculture and Equestrian Interest Group
by Fred Chambers
Expanding on our very popular stable tour in Atlanta, our plan for Philadelphia is horses and more horses. Beginning on Monday with miniatures, we'll progress through the week to Thursday's tour, in which we will meet powerhouse draft horses. On Monday, July 2, we're invited to attend the National Association of Guide Dog Users meeting from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. The Guide Horse Foundation will be the top item on the agenda. Bring your questions for a spirited discussion of this miniature equine mobility tool. Find out more about horse guides by visiting <www.guidehorse.org>.
Tuesday, July 3 (beginning late afternoon and going into the early evening), come for election of officers, snack on local produce, network, share stories, and meet some locals. Hear from advisors from the AgrAbility project. Learn about resources we can tap into to start or expand a career in food and animal production. Find out more about AgrAbility and Breaking New Ground by visiting <agrability.org>.
Our Philadelphia Agriculture and Equestrian tour is on Thursday, July 5, 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. We'll travel by horse-drawn carriage to tour the home of the 76 Carriage Company. Come learn the ins and outs of an urban draft-horse operation. Next stop will be the Monastery Stables. Riders of all skill levels are welcome to spend about an hour riding in Fairmount Park for an additional charge of $17. Other tour members will explore nearby gardens. A tour of the Manayunk Brewery will be our third stop. The cost of this tour is $25, including transportation, refreshments, and gratuities. Those planning horseback riding, remember to dress appropriately and add $17. Send no money now, but call, write, Braille, or email to reserve your spot. Reservations will be accepted up to Monday, June 18, 2001. Prices are subject to change. We will try our best to satisfy all respondents. Find out more by visiting <www.phillytour.com> and <www.manayunkbrewery.com>.
To make your reservations, contact the Agriculture and Equestrian Interest Group. We can also provide more information and assistance finding like‑minded roommates. Contact President and Riding Instructor Diane Starrin, (530) 223‑9084, 1042 Hawthorne Street, Redding, California 9602; or tour organizer and aquaculturist Fred Chambers, (760) 505‑8500, email: <[email protected]>.
Blind Professional Journalists
by Liz Campbell
If you like asking questions or if you want a career in which you don't know what awaits you when you arrive at the office, then don't miss the annual meeting of the Blind Professional Journalists. We will meet July 3 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott. See the convention agenda for the meeting location. We are working on arrangements including an interesting, provocative speaker. So keep reading the Braille Monitor for the latest news.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Elizabeth Campbell at (817) 738‑0350; e‑mail <[email protected]‑telegram.com> or <[email protected]>. You may also contact Bryan Bashin at (916) 441‑4096; e‑mail <[email protected]>.
Braille Carnival for Children
by Melody Lindsey
At this year's Braille Carnival on Sunday, July 1, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., children ages five and up will have an exciting opportunity to use Braille skills to play innovative and fun games. We will have activities for everyone, including sighted siblings and friends.
The Braille Carnival will be housed in two rooms, one for children who like louder, more energetic games and one for children who prefer to play in a quieter setting. Games and activities will be sponsored by various affiliates and agency participants at the convention. If your group would like to sponsor an activity, call Melody Lindsey at (616) 327‑3516.
This will be the best Braille Carnival yet. So tell your children to get ready to have a lot of fun and learn more about the value of Braille.
Capital Campaign Convention Activities
by Ramona Walhof
At this year's convention we will continue to work on our Capital Campaign. Campaign staff and experienced volunteers will meet with individuals as requested. Information will be available in the exhibit hall. The Wall of Honor will be present for conventioneers to examine, and several meetings are scheduled on the agenda for people to learn more about the process and to become more involved themselves. Meetings are as follows: Sunday, 2:00 p.m.; Monday, 11:00 a.m.; Monday, 3:00 p.m.; Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 12:30 p.m.; Thursday, 2:00 p.m. Bring your suggestions and learn about the experiences of others.
Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. Joe Ruffalo invites all Lions to meet with him, and on Friday morning at the same time Charlie Brown will meet with interested Kiwanians. The groups will discuss soliciting capital gifts from these service organizations. So, if you are a member of either of these organizations, mark your convention schedule to attend this important gathering.
Committee on Associates
by Tom Stevens
At the National Board meeting on Tuesday morning, July 3, some of the final results of the 2001 Associate Contest will be announced. In addition the drawings for $2,100 in cash prizes will take place.
The Committee on Associates will meet formally at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3, Division Day. We will recognize people and states who and which have fared well in the 2001 Associate Contest. As in the past, some awards will also be made at the meeting. Our associate recruiters are people with extraordinary vision. By their efforts we are able to reach hundreds and perhaps thousands of people who have never heard of this organization. We can inform them of our goals and our needs. This program has yielded nearly $2,000,000 to the Federation during its existence. The real gain, however, has been the information which we have provided and will provide to others. (We have recently experienced some difficulties in getting information to the field but believe that our bugs have been worked out, and we will return to normal in 2001.)
Come one, come all. Volunteers will be available on Wednesday, July 4, at noon to work with anyone who has questions about this program. Our publication is the Associate Raiser (regular print or tape), and anyone who wishes to receive it should contact us at (573) 445-6091 evenings.
by Jerry Whittle
Newsletter editors and other interested people are invited to this meeting, emphasizing good grammar and punctuation, layout recommendations, newsletter content, the fine points of editing, and lively discussions about content. The meeting usually takes place on the evening of Board Meeting Day, so check the convention agenda for time and place.
by Joseph Naulty
Monday, July 2, 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Deaf‑Blind Division general business meeting
8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. guest speaker-‑Philadelphia area-- provided by regional office of Helen Keller, subject: Deaf‑Blind concerns.
Thursday, July 5, 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Announcements and updates
7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. guest speaker--back by popular demand--Dr. Sandra L. H. Davenport, M.D., medical geneticist specializing in deaf‑blindness; Subject: The Genetics of Deaf‑Blindness, Presented in a Language Everyone Can Understand.
Renewal of annual dues in the amount of $5 payable to the NFB Deaf‑Blind Division should be mailed to Wendy L. Carter, 1457 East 700 South, Provo, Utah 84606. For additional information, to communicate special needs for the seminars, and to request additional information about the use of FM units for the convention, contact Joseph Naulty, President, Deaf‑Blind Division, (561) 753‑4700, <[email protected]>.
Diabetes Action Network Seminar
by Ed Bryant
At the 2001 convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Philadelphia, our Diabetes Action Network will conduct its seminar and business meeting on Tuesday, July 3, from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. We will hear a presentation about a new talking device providing information on any prescription medication (insulin included), and an insulin pump company representative will also be present.
Our keynote speaker will be a diabetes educator who will answer diabetes questions and discuss adaptive equipment for blind diabetics. Once again we will enjoy our Make-the-President-Pay diabetes quiz, and President Ed Bryant says he will give a nice donation to the Division for each right answer. Our seminar is free and open to the public. Its location will be posted in the convention agenda.
Educators of Blind Children
by Gail Wagner
During the convention educators of blind children will get together for an informal meeting. This is a great time to meet each other, share ideas and concerns, or just talk. We don't yet have a day or time, but please contact Gail Wagner (505) 237‑0544 or e‑mail <[email protected]> to let me know if you would like to be a part of this group.
Ham Radio Group Emergency Preparedness Seminar
by D. Curtis Willoughby
In accord with long‑standing tradition, the first meeting of the 2001 convention will be the Emergency Preparedness Seminar conducted by the NFB Ham Radio Group. The seminar will be held at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 1. We will discuss frequencies to be used during the convention and especially those to be used in the event of an emergency call‑out during the convention. We will also discuss the architectural features of the convention hotel(s) and other information that NFB hams need to know if an emergency response is necessary.
Any Philadelphia hams willing to do a little frequency scouting before the convention are asked to contact Curtis, KA0VBA, (303) 424‑7373, <[email protected]>.
Last year the Ham Radio Group began a service project to serve the Federation by handling the distribution of the special FM receivers to allow hearing-impaired conventioneers to hear a signal directly from the public address system, which is much easier to understand than the sound that normal hearing aids pick up in a meeting. These same receivers are used to allow Spanish speakers (those who do not understand English fluently) to hear a Spanish translation of the convention and the banquet.
We will take some time at the Emergency Preparedness Seminar to prepare for this project this year. It is important that all group members willing to help come to the seminar. The annual business meeting of the NFB Ham Radio Group will be held at noon on Friday, July 6. Contact D. Curtis Willoughby, KA0VBA, President, 7775 Quail Street, Arvada, Colorado 80005‑3455, <[email protected]>, Phone: (303) 424‑7373.
Human Services Division
by Doug Elliott
Each year at our National Convention the National Federation of the Blind Human Services Division meets during the afternoon following the National Board Meeting. Through a series of presenters we examine how blindness affects us as practitioners or aspiring professionals in the various human-service fields.
This year's program will be the usual lively and challenging fare, kicked off by a keynote speech from long‑standing president Doug Elliott. As always those in attendance will help to chart the future of blind professionals in the various human services areas. Please plan to attend. The meeting begins at 1:30, and the agenda will be packed for the entire afternoon. Don't miss it!
by Brad Hodges
The NFB Technology Department is pleased to announce 2001: An Internet Odyssey. This exciting and timely adventure will set sail from the Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Sunday afternoon, July 1. Our scheduled departure time is 2:00 p.m. Passengers may begin boarding at 1:45. We are scheduled to return to port at 5:00.
The Technology Department crew is planning this journey, which will visit many practical and useful--and even some exotic ports of call--on the World Wide Web. As always we will address those in our audience who are new to the Internet. We also intend to travel beyond the ordinary. Today's generation of screen readers allows more complete access to previously inaccessible Web pages than ever before.
So get out your passport, consult the pre-convention agenda for departure location, and plan to join us on Sunday afternoon.
Job Opportunities for the Blind Seminar and JOB Fair 2001
by Anthony Cobb
The NFB's highly successful Job Opportunities for the Blind program will once again sponsor a job seekers' seminar from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 1. The specific room at the Marriott will be listed in the pre-convention agenda. If you are looking for work and want helpful guidelines and hints about the job search from those experienced in the process, you will not want to miss this annual event, planned and conducted by JOB regional site coordinators at our Federation training centers.
Those attending the seminar will also be given the opportunity to register for JOB Fair 2001, to be held Thursday, July 5, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Participants will have the opportunity to visit recruiters from public and private employers who are looking for qualified applicants to fill positions in a wide range of job categories. Last year's JOB Fair was a huge success, and we look for a great year in the City of Brotherly Love. Consult your agenda for the specific room at the Philadelphia Marriott where the action will occur, and make your plans to attend.
The Louisiana Center Play:
In Everything That Matters
by Jerry Whittle
The Louisiana Center for the Blind Players present In Everything That Matters, a musical tribute to the leaders and members of the National Federation of the Blind. Featuring many original songs and several old standards, this original play by Jerry Whittle depicts memorable moments in the history of our movement. All proceeds from this play go to support the summer training program for blind children at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Admission is $5. There will be two performances--7:00 and 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening, July 3.
National Association of the Blind
in Communities of Faith
by Robert Parrish
As in past years the leadership of NABICF is planning an exciting and insightful seminar that will further address the needs of blind people who are part of religious communities. The theme for this year's seminar is "Angels of Healing and Care." Among the people who may speak at the seminar are Leigh Scott, who has successfully published a large-print version of the 1991 Broadman Hymnal through a contract from the Southern Baptist Convention, and a member of the National Organization on Disabilities, who will give us further insights on how we can guide our places of worship to be more inclusive. Barbara Pierce, President of the Ohio affiliate, will speak to us about her work in the Episcopal Church. This year is also an election year for NABICF.
We are making plans to sell a religious keepsake such as the praying hands. I think that such an item would be both valuable and unique for everyone to have. The members and leadership of NABICF look forward to seeing everyone for what should be an exciting convention in Philadelphia.
The National Association of Blind Entrepreneurs
"Step Right Up"
A Seminar for Entrepreneurs
by Marie Cobb
If you are interested in starting your own business, what should you do first? What is a business plan, and how do you write one? What are the legal hoops through which you should jump, and how long does all this take? Where do you look for financial backing, and how long will it be before you are actually in the black? If you are a serious entrepreneur or if you have aspirations in that direction, come and join the National Association of Blind Entrepreneurs for a fact-filled, hands-on seminar packed full of opportunities to explore starting or improving your own business.
If you want to participate in this activity, you must preregister with Marie Cobb at 202 South Augusta Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21229, (410) 644-6352 or at <[email protected]>.
This seminar will be held on Sunday, July 1, beginning with sign-in at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m. You will want writing materials, and you will need specific ideas about the kind of business for which you are interested in writing a business plan.
The $5 fee for attending this seminar will help provide materials. We are limiting the number of participants to fifty. A word to the wise, as they say, should be sufficient. Please specify print or Braille materials when you preregister.
All Federationists with an entrepreneurial spirit are also cordially invited to attend the annual meeting of the National Association of Blind Entrepreneurs. A panel of successful blind entrepreneurs will discuss how they operate their businesses. They will address issues such as the dos and don'ts of business ownership, the personality traits and skills required for success, and the nuts and bolts of being your own boss.
We will also discuss establishing an advisory board to help promote entrepreneurship in the blind community. Those who have good ideas about fund-raising for the division should also explore those ideas and bring them to the meeting in writing.
We are on the move-–come join us. Have loads of fun and gain lots of useful knowledge.
We will staff a booth in the exhibit hall where division members with established businesses will be available to answer questions, give demonstrations, and distribute any literature they have to offer. Fifty-fifty tickets will be available for sale there. Stop by and visit.
National Association of Blind Lawyers
by Scott LaBarre
The National Association of Blind Lawyers will sponsor its fourth annual mock trial at the 2001 Convention. This trial will reenact an old Federation case. Federation lawyers will be pitted against each other arguing the merits of the two positions. We will revisit the ValleyFair Amusement Park case from the early 1990s, in which nine Federationists were told that they couldn't ride the rides at ValleyFair in Minnesota unless each and every one of them was accompanied by a sighted person who could be responsible for them. A complaint was filed against the amusement park, and litigation ensued. This case was never tried to a jury because the parties negotiated a conclusive settlement, but the mock trial will assume that the case eventually went the whole route. See your favorite Federation lawyers strut their legal stuff.
You, the audience, will serve as the jury. This year's trial promises to be as entertaining and thought-provoking as the past trials. A nominal charge of $5 per person will benefit the National Association of Blind Lawyers. The trial will take place on Monday afternoon, July 2, at 4:30 p.m. somewhere in the convention hotel. Consult the convention agenda for the exact place.
As the Philadelphia Convention draws near, we in the National Association of Blind Lawyers are preparing to have some great activities in the City of Brotherly Love. First I would like to invite all of you to join us in Philadelphia to take part in the largest meeting of blind lawyers and legal professionals held anywhere in the country. The National Association of Blind Lawyers will meet Tuesday, July 3, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Marriott as part of the sixty-first annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
We will discuss many exciting topics on that afternoon. Drawing on their expertise, lawyers will give an update on the current status of laws affecting the blind. We will hear reports on various advocacy matters in which the Federation has been involved throughout the last year. We expect that officials from the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association, and Philadelphia Bar Association will address the group about what's new and exciting in the organized bar of the nation and of Pennsylvania. Experienced practitioners will offer strategies on how best to conduct various types of cases.
We will share strategies and techniques on how to secure the best possible job in the legal field. We expect to hear from online legal research company representatives about the latest developments in online research and how the blind can access this important research tool. We will have a discussion about the Constitutional challenges being brought by states against the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, IDEA, and other similar federal laws. We expect to have guest speakers from the United States Department of Justice, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and other federal agencies. This and much, much more will take place at our annual meeting in Philadelphia.
As NABL President I am also pleased to announce that we will be hosting our fourth annual reception after the NABL meeting for blind lawyers, law students, and legal professionals. This reception will give us the opportunity to get to know each other and share ideas. Blind law students will be able to learn how their predecessors did it. Practicing professionals will learn new tips from their colleagues.
With our regular meeting, the mock trial, and the reception, the National Association of Blind Lawyers plans to be busy in Philadelphia. Make your plans now and join us there.
National Association of Blind Merchants
by Kevan Worley
The National Association of Blind Merchants will hold our annual membership meeting on Tuesday, July 3, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. with registration beginning at 12:30 p.m.
This year we are also hosting a reception on Thursday, July 5, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. We are inviting everyone, young or old, who may wish to know more about the Randolph‑Sheppard or Business Enterprise Program and to visit with successful blind merchants and BEP state-agency administrators. There are many myths and misconceptions about the Business Enterprise Program, but the facts are that there are many lucrative opportunities for energetic, business-minded blind people. Learn more at the National Association of Blind Merchants Randolph‑Sheppard Reception.
National Association of Blind Musicians
by Linda Mentink
The Music Division has an exciting agenda planned for this year's convention. First let me say that our new name is the National Association of Blind Musicians. We are planning to conduct a seminar Sunday, July 1, for students and parents on Braille music. Here's your chance to get an introduction to the Braille music code and ask questions.
Our annual meeting will be Monday, July 2, and will feature a presentation of Good Feel by Bill McCann. The annual Showcase of Talent will be Wednesday, July 4. Participants should follow these guidelines: 1. Sign up by 12 noon on the day of the Showcase. 2. Perform one number no longer than four minutes. 3. If you are using a taped accompaniment, please have it cued up. Do not sing with the artist; you will be cut off while performing. 4. If you need live accompaniment, please make arrangements before the Showcase. If you wish to register for the Showcase before the convention, contact Linda Mentink, 1740 Tamarack Lane, Janesville, Wisconsin 53545, (608) 752-8749.
If you wish to renew your membership or become a member before convention, please send dues of five dollars to Theresa Moore, 104 Xit Ranch Road, Trinidad, Texas 75163. Please make checks payable to NABM.
National Association of Blind Secretaries and Transcribers
by Lisa Hall
On Sunday, July 1, 2001, the National Association of Blind Secretaries and Transcribers will hold its annual meeting at the Philadelphia Marriott. Registration will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Topics for this meeting include changing the name of the Division to National Association of Blind Office Professionals, revising the constitution to reflect the name change and other things that need to be modified, a presentation by a speaker from an adaptive technology company that markets tutorials for the blind community, and other items brought to the floor by individual members.
Membership dues are $5 a year. Anyone wishing to pay dues in advance of the convention can send a check to Carol Clark, Treasurer, 10 Summitcrest Drive, Kansas City, Kansas 66101. You can reach her at (913) 621‑3551.
For more information about the National Association of Blind Secretaries and Transcribers, contact Lisa Hall, 9110 Broadway, Apt. J102, San Antonio, Texas 78217, or call (210) 829‑4571, or send email to <[email protected]>.
The National Association of Blind Secretaries and Transcribers officers are Lisa Hall, President, San Antonio, Texas; Janet Triplett, Vice President, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Renee Zelickson, Secretary, Birmingham, Alabama; and Carol Clark, Treasurer, Kansas City, Kansas. See everyone in Philadelphia.
The National Association of Blind Piano Tuners
by Don Mitchell
The annual meeting of the National Association of Blind Piano Tuners will be held on Tuesday, July 3, at 3:00 p.m. Please consult your convention agenda for room location. Annual dues are $10. If you are unable to attend our meeting, you may send your dues to Connie Ryan, Treasurer, 56 N. Extension Rd., #138, Mesa, Arizona 85201, (602) 890‑8061.
National Association of Guide Dog Users
The National Association of Guide Dog Users will again have two meetings during our convention in Philadelphia. The first meeting will take place Sunday, July 1. Registration will begin at 6:00, and the meeting is planned from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. This is the business meeting for the division. We are offering preregistration for those who are already members of the division. Those who attended the meeting last year will remember the long line for registration. If you wish to avoid this line, please send your preregistration information to Priscilla Ferris as soon as possible after you receive the form from her. Mail your completed form to Priscilla at 140 Wood Street, Somerset, Massachusetts 02726. Please include your $15 dues. Priscilla will publish more details in the next issue of Harness Up.
As it did last year, the second meeting will consist of two parts: one for those interested in learning more about guide dogs and one for experienced guide-dog users. As part of the division's continuing effort to educate potential guide-dog users, we will be asking guide-dog instructors to offer Juno walks again this year. For those who don't know, this procedure involves an instructor simulating a walk with a guide dog. This is the walk given to every student before matching a person with a dog. Some of the schools may bring dogs as well, but we never have advance knowledge of this. The meeting for potential guide dog users will be from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 4.
Wednesday from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. is the experienced-guide-dog-users seminar. As usual we will present many exciting topics for all our meetings. One major topic of our business meeting will be the Guide Horse Foundation and our resolution being presented opposing it. We are inviting the members of the Agriculture and Equestrian Group to participate with us. Although the Guide Horse Foundation is new and has not yet completed training its first full‑time graduate, the organization has received extensive publicity, which we believe to be harmful to the image of blind people. The organization also represents trends toward exotic and unnecessary solutions for providing services and toward unqualified people wanting to provide those services.
Another topic planned for the business meeting is Southeastern Guide Dogs' training program for blind wheelchair users. This is a relatively new program, and our own president, Suzanne Whalen, will possess firsthand knowledge of the program by convention time. As most of you know, Suzanne is scheduled to attend Southeastern to learn to work with her dog Caddo using a power wheelchair.
Other topics are being planned, but final arrangements have not yet been completed. We believe that you will like this year's topics, and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the meetings.
National Association to Promote the Use of Braille
by Nadine Jacobson
Our National Convention is coming soon, and NAPUB has planned some interesting activities this year. On July 1, at 2:00 p.m., we will sponsor a forum on the Unified Braille Code (UBC). Ms. Eileen Curran, the president of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA), will present specific information about the history of the UBC and possible changes to the Braille code. This will be a time for people to ask questions and learn more about the UBC. Everyone is welcome to attend and voice opinions.
Our annual NAPUB meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3. We will discuss some exciting and positive changes in the "Braille Readers Are Leaders" Contest. Getting Braille laws passed in all states continues to be a high priority for all of us, so we will hear reports on our most recent successes. Also we will hear about new technologies affecting Braille. As always this meeting will be lively and interesting. We urge all of you to come and share your ideas with us. We look forward to seeing you there.
If you have questions about either of these meetings, contact Nadine Jacobson at (952) 927‑7694, or write to me at 5805 Kellogg Avenue, Edina, Minnesota 55424. Braille is important to all of us; let's work together to ensure that it continues to be accessible and useful to all blind people.
National Association of Blind Students
by Shawn Mayo
Students on the National Association of Blind Students listserv have already been talking about and preparing to attend the National Convention. This year's seminar will address issues blind students currently face and present speakers that lead to thought‑provoking discussions. Some of the topics to be covered include the resolution regarding guidelines for disabled student service offices, electronic and digital text, standardized testing, plus much more. Come see what the talk is all about at the NABS seminar on Monday, July 2, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Registration will open at 6:00 p.m. with a $5 registration fee.
Last year we found out how much fun it is to eat ice cream with Dr. Maurer. Buy a raffle ticket and try for a chance to share in this experience. Dr. Maurer has set aside a specified time on the evening of Thursday, July 5, to converse and eat ice cream with the winners from this NABS-sponsored raffle. Those who are not eating ice cream with Dr. Maurer on Thursday should get their poker faces ready and join the National Association of Blind Students from 8:00 p.m. to midnight at Monte Carlo Night. Come face the sharks--card sharks, that is! Card games of all types will be played, and good fun will be had by all. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first-, second-, and third‑place winners.
Students who are attending the convention for the first time as well as younger blind children will have the opportunity to be matched with NABS mentors. For the second year NABS is working in conjunction with the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) to offer a mentoring program. Mentoring can take place during the convention as well as through correspondence after the convention. So if you would like to ask questions of and spend time with a competent blind student with a positive attitude about blindness, come sign up at our booth at the NOPBC event Sunday, July 1, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. You can also come and have fun with us at our booth at the Braille Carnival later that day.
NFB Camp: It's More Than Child's Play
by Carla McQuillan
During convention week children between the ages of six weeks and twelve years are invited to join in the fun and festivities of NFB Camp. NFB Camp offers more than just childcare; it is an opportunity for our blind and sighted children to meet and develop lifelong friendships. Our activity schedule is filled with games, crafts, and special performances designed to entertain, educate, and delight. If you are interested in having your children participate in this year's program, please complete and return the registration form provided. Pre-registration with payment on or before June 15, 2001, is mandatory for participation in NFB Camp. Space is limited, and last year some families had to be turned away.
About the Staff: NFB Camp is organized and supervised by Carla McQuillan, the Executive Director of Main Street Montessori Association, operating two schools, parent-education courses, and a teacher-training program. Carla is the mother of two children, the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind.
Michelle Ros is this year's Activities Director for NFB Camp. Michelle is a Montessori teacher employed by Main Street Montessori Association. Carla and Michelle will supervise a staff of experienced childcare workers and volunteers.
Activities and Special Events: The children are divided into groups according to age: infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. Each camp room is equipped with a variety of age-appropriate toys, games, and books; and children will enjoy daily art projects. Blind teens will come in to read stories in Braille, and the National Association of Guide Dog Users will make a presentation. We will sing, dance, and play instruments with blind singer/songwriter Daniel Lamonds. In addition, the school-aged children will make excursions to the Farmers' Market and the Please-Touch Museum. On the final day of NFB Camp we will conduct a big toy sale--brand new toys at bargain prices.
Banquet Night: NFB Camp will provide dinner and activities during the banquet. The cost for banquet activities is $15 per child in addition to other camp fees.
NFB Camp will be open during general convention sessions, division and committee meeting day, and the evening of the banquet. Plenty of teens are always available to baby-sit during evening and lunchtime meetings. The schedule this year will be as follows:
Sunday, July 1, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.*
Monday, July 2, Camp is closed.
Tuesday, July 3, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.*
Wednesday, July 4, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
and 1:30-5:30 p.m.*
Thursday, July 5, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.*
Friday, July 6, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
and 1:30-5:30 p.m.*
Saturday, July 7, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
and 1:30-5:30 p.m.*
* You are required to provide lunch for your child(ren) each day.
These times may vary, depending on the timing of the actual convention sessions. NFB Camp will open thirty minutes before the beginning gavel and close thirty minutes after session recess.
Fees: for the entire week (including banquet), first child $80, siblings $60 each. By the day, each child (does not include banquet), $20; banquet, $15 per child.
Please use the NFB Camp pre-registration form provided.
NFB Camp Pre-registration Form
Return no later than June 15, 2001
Please print or type:
City, State, Zip ________________________________________________
Name:_____________________________Date of birth __________Age____
Include description of any disabilities we should know about.
Name:_____________________________Date of birth __________Age____
Include description of any disabilities we should know about.
Name:_____________________________Date of birth __________Age____
Include description of any disabilities we should know about.
Name:_____________________________Date of birth __________Age____
Include description of any disabilities we should know about.
$80 first child, $60 each sibling (includes banquet) $_________
$20 per child per day, # of days _____ $_________
Banquet Fee: $15 per child $_________
Total Due: $_________
Completed pre-registration form and fee must be received by June 15, 2001.
Make checks payable to NFB of Oregon and mail to National Federation of the Blind of Oregon, 5005 Main Street, Springfield, Oregon 97478, (541) 726-6924.
National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science
by Curtis Chong
The 2001 meeting of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science will be held from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3, at the Marriott Hotel.
This year we will make a special effort to address issues of interest to blind computer programmers and other blind professionals employed in information technology. We plan to organize a panel of blind programmers who develop software for Windows and other PC-based operating systems. Linux has become a topic of interest of late, and, if we can find the right people to talk about it, there will be a program item on it at the meeting. Some of the more interesting technical intricacies of Windows will be revealed, and we may even have a program item on how a blind person can use America Online without the mouse.
Of course annual meetings of the NFB in Computer Science represent an ideal time for people to renew their membership in the organization. Our membership dues are $5, and, while we are not holding an election of officers this year, we will be talking about issues in which the organization should take an interest. For example, what should we do about PC-based development tools, which have proved to be quite unfriendly with screen-access technology for the blind? Should we go after some of the major companies who make software-development tools? How can we work to make the training programs for information technology professionals more helpful to a blind person who wants to enter the field?
Meetings of the NFB in Computer Science are a great time to talk tech, exchange information about technical issues, and meet experienced blind people who have made their mark in information technology. If you want to learn more, contact Curtis Chong, President, NFB in Computer Science, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; phone: 410-659-9314, extension 349; email: <[email protected]>.
NFB NET Training Seminar
by David Andrews
Each year NFB NET, the official bulletin board system of the National Federation of the Blind, continues to expand and add new services. Two years ago we added access to our large collection of files by FTP or a standard Web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape, Lynx, and the like. Last year was no different. We added access to our large message base by the World Wide Web. This means that you can now use your browser to look at an archive of messages which have been posted to one of our twenty-one mailing lists, going back to March 1999. This year we have continued to expand by adding several new mailing lists. To learn how to use this Web archive of messages or how to Telnet, FTP, or use your browser to access NFB NET, files, or our mailing lists, attend the 2001 NFB NET training seminar. It will be held on Sunday, July 1, from 9:00 a.m. until noon. See the pre‑convention agenda for location.
National Organization of Blind Educators
by Mary Willows
The National Organization of Blind Educators will meet in Philadelphia this summer at the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. This is the only opportunity blind educators will have this year to meet and share ideas with other working educators. Come and make the contacts which will help you to be successful in your endeavor to work in the field of education. See you on July 3, 2001.
National Organization of the Senior Blind
by Christine Hall
The National Organization of the Senior Blind will be holding its annual division meeting on Monday evening, July 2, from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m. Plan to be there at 6:30 because we will be registering people and collecting annual membership dues in the amount of $5. We want to get your name and address on our mailing list so you can receive our newsletter and other announcements and publications as they become available.
We are beginning to put together our agenda, which will include entertainment by some of our seniors, an update from our Washington representative on legislation affecting the older blind, and comments from seniors representing different areas in our nation and how they are reaching seniors who are losing their vision. There will also be information on our senior leadership seminar held in early January at the National Center and information on the low-vision sampler kit. The exact room location will be announced in the convention agenda.
Please come and join us for a fun-filled and informative meeting. If you have any questions regarding the Senior Division or the annual division meeting, contact Christine Hall, President, at (505) 268‑3895; Ray McGeorge, Vice President, at (303) 321‑4268; or Paul Dressell, Treasurer, at (513) 481‑7662.
Science and Engineering Division
by John Miller
Come participate in the Science and Engineering Division activities at National Convention in Philadelphia. Once again our division meeting appears in the convention agenda at a time different from the NFB in Computer Science meeting so that people can attend both meetings. The division meeting is shaping up to be a very exciting one. If you are a student with a nontechnical background and a dreaded science or math course in your future, you won't want to miss our seminar on making science and math classes easy. Also come learn about the innovative careers division members have found using their technical training.
RSVP to the Science and Engineering Networking Breakfast 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 4. We will meet at Starbucks Coffee in the lobby of the Philadelphia Marriott for bagels, java, and good company. To RSVP contact John Miller by e‑mail: <[email protected]>, phone: (858) 587‑3975, or mail: 8720 Villa La Jolla Drive, #118, La Jolla, California 92037.
Social Security Seminar
by James Gashel
An outreach seminar (Social Security and Supplemental Security Income: What Applicants, Advocates, and Recipients Should Know) will take place on Thursday afternoon, July 5. The purpose of this seminar, which will be conducted jointly by the National Federation of the Blind and the Social Security Administration, is to provide information on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for the blind. Seminar presenters will be Jim Gashel, Director of Governmental Affairs for the National Federation of the Blind, and a representative to be announced from the Social Security Administration.
Teen Hospitality Room
Attention all teens. This year a Teen Hospitality Room will be open during the week of the convention. It will be a place to hang out, meet new friends, spend time with old friends, play games, eat snacks‑-have fun! Look for flyers announcing the days and times on information tables during the NOPBC workshops, or contact Gail Wagner's room at the hotel.
Adults, we need volunteers to help supervise the room. If you can help for a couple of hours, please call Gail Wagner, (505) 237‑0544 or e‑mail <[email protected]>.
by Tom Stevens
The annual Writers' Division meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 3, between the hours of 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. The Division is currently conducting Writers' Contests in short story fiction and poetry for both adults and children. Entry deadlines are June 1, 2001, and more information can be obtained by contacting Tom Stevens (for fiction) at (573) 445-6091 and Lori Stayer (for poetry) at (516) 868-8718. Winners of the contests will be announced at the annual meeting and cash prizes awarded. The division also publishes a quarterly magazine, Slate & Style, in Braille and large print and on tape and by email. Inquire as above. The Division will conduct no additional workshop at this convention, but the Division meeting program will include several presentations by writers on various subjects, and everyone is welcome.
NOPBC-Sponsored Convention Activities for Parents and Kids
by Barbara Cheadle
From the Editor: The events planned for parents of blind children and their entire families at our annual conventions have become so numerous that it seemed to make sense to pull them out of the previous article and give them space of their own. Barbara Cheadle is President of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. She and her board have planned all these activities. Just read through them and anticipate what fun families attending this year's convention are going to have.
The activities sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) at this year's convention will be a wonderful mix of the tried and true and the new and creative. Orientation and mobility instructors and some of the most outstanding teachers of the visually impaired will be there, eager to share their knowledge with parents. Unique, however, to this event is the opportunity to interact with thousands of the real experts on blindness--blind people themselves. Here is the line-up of NOPBC events day by day:
Sunday, July 1
Last year's casual, family-oriented start to our traditional parent/teacher seminar day was so popular that we are repeating it (with some modifications) this year. From 8:00 to 10:30 a.m. adults and children can gather to sign in for the NOPBC events, look at exhibits, relax with a cup of coffee or glass of juice, participate in a kid-friendly convention-orientation session, and meet some wonderful people who share a common quest for knowledge and understanding about blindness.
Families can browse through six exhibit tables and pick up materials about blind and multiply disabled children, music education for blind children, low-vision, and schools and programs serving blind children. Families may also want to stop by the mentor table. Once again the National Association of Blind Students (NABS) will match children ages twelve and older with a young adult blind mentor for the duration of the convention. After exchanging room numbers, parents and mentors can work out their own schedules to meet. Parents will also have the chance to sign up for a mentor: specifically, a blind member of the NFB in Computer Science Division to accompany them through the Exhibit Hall--an Exhibit Hall mentor. We will have a special exhibit table just for kids, too. The activity at this table will help kids break the ice in meeting other kids and learn something about famous blind people to boot.
Parents will also have plenty of time to check in pre-registered children for NFB Camp. The camp opens at 8:30 a.m., but the seminar session for parents doesn't begin until 10:30 a.m.
At 9:00 a.m. parents and other adults may continue to talk, look at the exhibits, or quietly listen in on the Kid Talk and Introductions, led by NOPBC President Barbara Cheadle and Sheila Koenig. The talk will actually be a dialogue between the kids (blind and sighted) and Mrs. Cheadle and Miss Koenig about unique features of NFB Conventions that are interesting or puzzling to kids. Each kid will then get a chance to introduce himself or herself over the microphone.
Everyone will then be called to order to hear the official convention welcome from NFB President Marc Maurer, followed by introductions of the Braille Carnival Buddy Volunteers. Sheila Koenig, coordinator of the Carnival Buddies, will answer any questions about the Carnival, and she will explain how the volunteer Carnival Buddy system will work. Children and youth ages five and up may register to attend the Carnival with a Braille Carnival Buddy (all youth under the age of seventeen must be supervised by an adult at the Carnival).
The Braille Carnival will feature exciting and fun games, competitions, demonstrations, and prizes with Braille themes. Carnival booths are sponsored by NFB divisions, state affiliates, NFB Centers, and residential schools for the blind. Sighted or blind, Braille reader or non-Braille reader, kindergartner or teenager--lots of enjoyable activities will be available for all. The carnival will run from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The carnival Buddies will supervise the children and youth assigned to them from 10:00 to fifteen minutes after adjournment at noon. The Carnival will stay open till 1:00 p.m. so parents, too, can enjoy the carnival fun.
Also beginning at 10:00 a.m. will be two discussion groups for blind teens ages thirteen to eighteen. The session for blind teen women is called "What Your Mother Couldn't Tell You," led by two blind women: former social worker Debbie Stein and professor of ethics Dr. Adrienne Asch. The discussion group for blind teen men is "Guy Stuff" and will be led by social worker Doug Elliott (also blind). Teens who choose to attend the discussions will have a chance from noon to 1:00 p.m. to enjoy the Carnival, too. After children and youth are settled into their activities--NFB Camp, Blind Teen Discussion Groups, or the Braille Carnival--parents and adults can sit back and enjoy the morning seminar session beginning at 10:30 a.m. This year's theme, Let Freedom Ring, obviously inspired by the historical significance of our convention city, Philadelphia, will lead us into exploring what freedom and equality mean in the education and lives of blind children.
At noon everyone breaks, and families re-unite for lunch. Parents have a grace period of fifteen minutes after the session adjourns to pick up kids at NFB Camp and a slightly longer pick-up time at the Braille Carnival or the teen discussion groups. At 1:45 p.m. parents can check pre-registered children into NFB Camp for the afternoon, then head off for the concurrent small-group workshops of their choice. Parents will have up to thirty minutes after the workshops end at 5:00 p.m. to pick up children from NFB Camp.
Five repeating workshops are offered in the afternoon for adults this year. Make Your Own Tactile Storybook will be repeated twice, from 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. This is a hands-on workshop to teach parents how to modify storybooks so blind infants and toddlers can get information and pleasure from storybooks equivalent to what their sighted peers get from the pictures. Karen Frank, Infant and Toddler Outreach Coordinator from the Maryland School for the Blind, will conduct this workshop.
The following four workshops for adults will be repeated three times: 2:00-2:45 p.m., 3:00-3:45 p.m., and 4:00-4:45 p.m.
1. Words and Wheels. Through discussion, demonstrations, and role-playing, parents and educators will learn how blind people obtain and use live readers and drivers to maximize independence in everyday life.
2. What Do You Do When....? Through discussion, demonstrations, and role-playing, blind and sighted leaders will help parents and educators feel more confident about knowing when and how it is appropriate to offer assistance to someone who is blind.
3. From Helpless to Helper. No one wants to be helpless. This workshop is a presentation by parents to parents about how to ensure that blind children avoid helplessness, achieve self-sufficiency, and acquire the competence and skills necessary to become a person who makes a contribution to others.
4. Living in a Visual World. Once again Barbara Pierce has agreed to lead a discussion about how parents and teachers can help blind children acquire crucial social skills in an often highly visual world.
For teens, both blind and sighted, there is a fun-filled session from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. called "Words, Wheels, and Ways," coordinated by Melissa Williamson, a blind educator and mother of three. Through discussion, role-playing (including role-reversals), and friendly competition (with prizes), blind and sighted teens learn about using—or being—readers and drivers. (Do sighted siblings and sighted kids of blind parents know that they can get paid to be readers and drivers?) They will also discuss how to give directions; how to offer, accept, or decline assistance; when and how to offer (or use) human-guide assistance; etc., and then discuss how they can implement this knowledge throughout the convention.
This year, as in past years, families can relax and enjoy the company of new friends and old at Family Hospitality. NOPBC will also have a few games—including the popular Bop-It game—and books in the hospitality room to help occupy children ages eight and younger. For all kids (sighted and blind) ages nine and up we will again offer our traditional Teens' Scavenger Hunt (ages thirteen to eighteen) and Kids' Scavenger Hunt (ages nine to twelve). Under adult supervision kids and teens can explore the hotel and win prizes. To add to the fun and enhance the educational aspects of the game, sighted youth are issued white canes and sleepshades (blindfolds) to use on the hunt.
Monday, July 2
Cane Walk. This session will be repeated twice: 9:00-10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Parents of blind kids of all ages (babies to teens), teachers, and blind kids can get hands-on experience in using a cane in the hotel under the guidance of volunteer instructors from the Louisiana Tech/Louisiana Center for the Blind O&M program. Joe Cutter, pediatric O&M specialist, will provide the demonstration for parents of pre-school children.
2:00-6:00 p.m. Teen drop-in room sponsored jointly by NOPBC and Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM).
This is a supervised place for teens to gather and get to know others attending the convention.
Tuesday, July 3
1:00-5:00 p.m. NOPBC Annual Meeting
6:30‑8:30 p.m. Follow‑up Discussion Group for Blind Teen Women
Wednesday, July 4
7:00-9:00 p.m. IEP and IDEA drop-in question, information, and resource session.
Come by anytime and pick up literature or talk to parents and professionals knowledgeable in the broad range of IEP topics. Marty Greiser, Coordinator.
Thursday, July 5
2:00-6:00 p.m. Have Cane, Will Travel. Drop-in-anytime discussion group for parents, blind kids, and teachers. Joe Cutter, instructor and discussion leader.
2:00-6:00 p.m. Technology: Individual Consultations. Co-sponsored by the NOPBC and the NFB in Computer Science.
Blind people knowledgeable in technology will meet with parents individually to discuss the technology needs of their child. Appointments can be made at the mentor exhibit table Sunday morning, July 1, at the NOPBC Seminar meeting room. Drop-ins will be taken if we have available volunteers.
2:00-4:00 p.m. Braille Your Own Games and Braille Talk.
Come by anytime and bring your own games for Braille labeling, or bring your questions about Braille or your child's Braille instruction. Co-sponsored by NOPBC and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille.
Blind adults skilled in Braille will be on hand to answer questions about Braille or help you add Braille labels to a favorite game. We will also give lessons in slate-writing. If you don't have a game to bring, we will have decks of playing cards and UNO cards you can buy, which we will help you Braille on the spot.
NOPBC Activities Fee: $15 per family or $5 per individual. Families or individuals may pay in advance or pay when checking in at the NOPBC Seminar on the morning of Sunday, July 1. The activities fee covers all NOPBC-sponsored events throughout the convention week, including refreshments or snacks served at NOPBC events, the seminar and workshops for adults, the Braille Carnival, youth activities (workshops, discussion groups, scavenger hunts, teen hang-out room), family hospitality, and Cane Walk. It also includes annual membership dues in NOPBC.
NOPBC Schedule of Events
Sunday, July 1:
8:00 - 5:00 p.m. Seminar and Workshops for Parents and Educators
Discovery Day Activities for Children and Teens
8:00 – 10:30 a.m. Seminar Family Time
10:00 – 1:00 p.m. Braille Carnival
10:00 – Noon Blind Teen Discussion Groups:
What Your Mother Couldn't Tell You and Guy Stuff
10:30 – Noon Let Freedom Ring (Seminar for Adults)
* What Freedom Means to Me: Blind Youth Panel
* Equal Access: Technology and the World Wide Web
* Equal Education: Legal Perspectives
* Equal Opportunity: The Parent Perspective
* What Freedom Means to Me: The Blind Adult Perspective
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Words, Wheels, and Ways: Teen Workshops
2:00 – 5:00 p.m. Adult Repeating Workshops
* From Helpless to Helper
* Words and Wheels
* Living in the Visual World
* What Do You Do When...?
* Make Your Own Tactile Storybooks
6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Family Hospitality
7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Kids' Scavenger Hunt
7:00 -- 9:00 p.m. Teens' Scavenger Hunt
Monday, July 2:
9:00 – 10:30 a.m.
11:00 – 12:30 p.m. Cane Walk, two repeating sessions
2:00 - 6:00 p.m. Teen Drop-In Room
Tuesday, July 3:
1:00 - 5:00 p.m. NOPBC Annual Meeting
6:30 ‑ 8:30 p.m. Follow‑up Discussion Group for Blind Teen Women
Wednesday, July 4:
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. IEP/IDEA: Drop-in informal discussion/resource session
Thursday, July 5:
A. 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Braille Your Own Games and Braille Talk
B. 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. Have Cane, Will Travel
C. 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. Technology Individual Consultations
Workshops A and B are drop-in-sessions. Bring the kids with you. Workshop C is by appointment, but drop-ins are welcome if volunteers are available.
NOPBC 2001 Activities Pre-Registration
Note: Pre-registration for the NOPBC seminar and workshops is not required. Pre-registration for NFB Camp (child-care), is required.
Name(s) of adults_________________________________________________________
Phone (H)_____________ (W)_____________ email ________________
$________The NOPBC activities fee is enclosed. Make checks payable to NOPBC.
$15 per family (parents, grandparents, and all children)
$5 per individual
The NOPBC activities fee includes all NOPBC-sponsored events for parents, children, and youth. This includes workshops; refreshments at the morning family seminar event on Sunday, July 1; refreshments at NOPBC Family Hospitality; the Braille Carnival; the Scavenger Hunts; etc. It also includes membership-at-large in the NOPBC. It does not include NFB Camp, NFB convention registration, or other workshops or seminars sponsored by other divisions or committees of the NFB.
Pre-Registration Braille Carnival
Children Ages 5 and Up
first and last name(s) of child(ren) birth date(s) vision (sighted, blind, other disabilities, etc.)
Mail to NOPBC Convention Activities, 1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
Deadline: June 20, 2001
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Norman Gardner from Utah, Jose Moncada from Colorado, and Carlos Servan from Nebraska discuss Spanish translation of NFB convention agenda items.]
Hearing Enhancement and Spanish Translation
Available at National Convention--
Spanish Translators Needed
by D. Curtis Willoughby
From the Editor: Curtis Willoughby is a member of the NFB's Research and Development Committee and head of our Ham Radio Interest Group. Here is what he says:
Again this year at National Convention we will offer special arrangements for severely hearing‑impaired people attending convention sessions and the banquet. This will consist of transmission of the public address system signal over a special transmitter for the severely hearing‑impaired. A similar service will be offered to Spanish‑speaking people who cannot easily understand English: a Spanish‑language translation of the convention program over a special transmitter for that purpose.
In cooperation with several state affiliates (notably Colorado, Utah, and Louisiana), we will provide receivers for these special transmissions to those needing them. Receiver-lending will be managed by the Ham Radio Group and will be operated from a table just outside the meeting room. A deposit of $25, cash only, will be required of anyone wishing to check out one of the Federation's receivers. The deposit will be returned if the receiver is checked back in at the check‑out table in good condition by adjournment or within thirty minutes of adjournment of the last convention session. Batteries for the receiver will be provided. Anyone checking out a Federation receiver will be given, upon request, a miniature earbud loudspeaker‑type earphone to use with the receiver.
In addition to explaining what will be available, it is important that we explain what will not be available. The miniature earbud loudspeaker‑type earphone will be the only kind of earphone offered. No means of connection to a hearing aid will be available from the check‑out table. The receiver does not have a built‑in loud speaker. The receiver requires a 1/8 inch earphone plug, in case you want to use your own earphone(s), neck loop, adapter cable, etc. You are advised to arrange for such things well ahead of arriving at the convention. While earphones and even neck loops are sometimes available in the exhibit hall, you cannot be certain of getting one there.
Many severely hearing‑impaired people already use radio systems that employ FM radio signals to carry the voice from a transmitter held by the person speaking to a receiver in the hearing aid. Many such hearing aid systems can be tuned to receive the Federation's special transmitters. In this case the hearing-impaired person may simply tune his or her own receiver to receive the Federation's transmitter and will not need to check out a Federation receiver.
The transmitter for the hearing impaired will be connected to the PA system so that the signals from the head table and the aisle mikes will be transmitted on channel 36 (74.775 MHz narrow band FM). (People must not operate their personal transmitters on channel 36 or on channel 38 because that would interfere with the reception by others.) This means that folks wishing to use their own receivers (rather than checking out one of the Federation's receivers) need to have their personal receivers arranged so that they can switch between their personal channels and channel 36. Some people may need to purchase replacement or additional receivers.
This announcement is published now to allow as much time as possible for those interested to make the necessary arrangements before convention. It contains this amount of detail so that any audiologist who works with this type of equipment should be able to know by reading this notice exactly what capabilities a person's FM hearing system must have to work with the Federation's system at convention.
Even if you do not use an FM hearing aid, you may be able to purchase a neck loop or an adapter cable to couple the signal from a Federation receiver directly to your hearing aid. Your audiologist should also be able to help you determine this.
The service for Spanish speakers will be similar, except that a live Spanish translator will speak over a separate transmitter on channel 38 (75.275 MHz narrow band FM). We do not expect people to bring their own receivers for the Spanish service.
Norm Gardner from Utah will be coordinating the Spanish-language interpreters, and he would appreciate hearing from anyone willing to volunteer to interpret. Please call him prior to convention at (801) 224‑6969.
Finally, if other state affiliates or chapters are interested in purchasing this type of equipment for use in state and local meetings, they are encouraged to purchase equipment compatible with that which we are using and to allow it to be used in the pool of equipment that the Ham Radio Group administers at National Convention. I, Curtis Willoughby, would like to help you choose equipment that is compatible with that which the NFB is using. I may also be able to help you get the good prices the NFB has been getting. You may contact me at (303) 424‑7373 or email: <[email protected]>.
The Federation is pleased to offer these services to our severely hearing‑impaired and Spanish‑speaking colleagues, and we hope and believe that it will again significantly improve their convention experience. Send any correspondence to D. Curtis Willoughby, 7775 Quail Street, Arvada, Colorado 80005‑3455.
Another Slant on Fund Raising
by Anil Lewis
From the Editor: Anil Lewis is an up-and-coming leader in the Georgia affiliate. I asked him to write about his experience this past winter and the decision his chapter has made. Together they provide another example of ways in which local chapters can assist with the Capital Campaign. This is what Anil says:
As the new president of the Atlanta Metropolitan Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia, I began working in a new way with a group of extremely motivated, committed Federationists with ambitious ideas--ideas that would create opportunities, educate the community, empower blind children and adults, and require a significant amount of funding. Rather than making excuses about why our plans couldn't come to fruition, we all set ourselves to the task of fund raising.
We are a small chapter, still in the process of growing. In the past we have counted primarily on candy sales, drawings, and the contributions of our members and their friends to raise the funds we have. This is probably the same funding stream many other chapters have. And also like many other chapters, our dreams of outreach, training, and education have always exceeded our budget. We have suffered the added frustration of being unable to assist in building the treasury of our state affiliate, the national organization, and most recently the Capital Campaign for the National Research and Training Institute.
In order to address the needs of the blind citizens in the Atlanta Metropolitan area and fulfill our responsibility to assist the organization at the state and national levels, our chapter has recently focused on developing our fund-raising skills. Some of our board members have attended training on effective fund raising. Others have started developing relationships with individuals with expertise in fund raising. After taking a skills inventory of our membership and consulting with experienced fund raisers, we made the decision to mount a direct-mail letter-writing campaign to raise funds.
Then last December I received an email from our state secretary, Stephanie Scott, with information from Barbara Pierce about a potential donation from the Waffle House Foundation, which operates out of Norcross, Georgia, part of the Metro Atlanta area. Barbara told me that she had a personal contact with the Waffle House Foundation and suggested that a letter from the local chapter requesting a contribution to our Capital Campaign would go far toward securing a donation.
I wrote a letter to Barbara's contact at Waffle House respectfully inquiring about the possibility of a contribution to our Capital Campaign. It outlined the initiatives of our National Research and Training Institute and described the ways in which these activities would benefit blind Atlanta residents. I also included information to be published in the Atlanta Braille Chronicle, our local newsletter, describing outreach and educational activities performed by our chapter. I completed and mailed the letter on January 1, 2001. I planned to follow-up with another letter in about a month. I thought this would give the board an opportunity to review the information and contact me if they had any questions. I then turned my energy and attention to completing our quarterly newsletter and attending the Washington Seminar.
Along with the bills, advertisements, and general correspondence that comprised the large stack of mail that greeted me upon my return from the Washington Seminar was a letter from the Waffle House Foundation. I was anticipating a letter requesting additional information or perhaps even a meeting with the board. You can imagine my surprise when I found enclosed with the letter a check in the amount of $5,000.
I sat there, bubbling over with excitement and accomplishment. However, I was immediately faced with something of a dilemma. The award letter clearly stated that the funds were to be used in the Atlanta area. Although this gift would allow us to step up our efforts on the local level, I still felt obligated to contribute to the Capital Campaign. After all, that was the intent of the referral and the solicitation. I discussed the dilemma with my board, and we reached the following decision. In good faith we will use the Waffle House Foundation gift to expand our local outreach, education, and training efforts. But because these funds can be used immediately to implement our local initiatives, we are committed to using current and future fund-raising efforts to fulfill a $5,000 pledge to the Capital Campaign.
I discussed this decision with chapter members, and as a result the Atlanta Metropolitan Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia at its March 3, 2001, meeting considered a motion to make a pledge to the Capital Campaign in the amount of $5,000. This motion received a unanimous affirmative vote from the membership.
I must express my overwhelming appreciation to the Waffle House Foundation. They obviously understand the importance of the National Federation of the Blind, and they are committed to helping us serve the local community. Their gift far exceeds the monetary value of the check. Not only has it allowed us to expand our service provision, but it has inspired our members with a positive, optimistic attitude about fund raising, which will result in an ever-increasing commitment to change what it means to be blind.
Foundations in many other cities across this country require that their grants be spent in and only in their own areas. By rights we ought to be able to make the case that the Institute will effectively serve blind people right where the foundation is, but too often foundation boards are not convinced. I urge others to be creative. Make a case for a foundation grant to serve blind citizens where you are and then pass along the funds that gift liberates to the Campaign. It isn't quite as efficient as obtaining gifts directly to the Campaign, but it works. Just look at Atlanta!
Have you made your Campaign pledge yet? We need everyone's help. The construction cost of our projected National Research and Training Institute for the Blind is eighteen million dollars. Please take this opportunity to complete your pledge form. Without you our job will be just that much harder.
The Campaign To Change What It Means To Be Blind
Capital Campaign Pledge Intention
City, State, and Zip:_______________________
Home Phone: ________________________________
City, State, Zip:___________________________
To support the priorities of the Campaign, I (we) pledge the sum of $___________.
My (our) pledge will be payable in installments of $ __________ over the next ____ years (we encourage pledges paid over five years), beginning _____________, on the following schedule (check one): __ annually, __ semi-annually, __ quarterly, __ monthly
I (we) have enclosed a down payment of $ ________________
___ Gift of stock: _____________________ shares of _____________
___ My employer will match my gift.
Please list (my) our names in all Campaign Reports and on the Campaign Wall of Honor in the appropriate Giving Circle as follows:
__ I (We) wish to remain anonymous.
Signed: ________________________________ Date: __________________
Dialysis at National Convention:
by Ed Bryant
From the Editor: Ed Bryant is President of the Diabetes Action Network of the National Federation of the Blind. The following is important information for some convention attendees to know about:
During this year's annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Philadelphia, Sunday, July 1, through Saturday, July 7, dialysis will be available. Those requiring dialysis must have a transient patient packet and physician's statement filled out prior to treatment. Conventioneers must have their unit contact the desired location in the Philadelphia area for instructions well in advance. The convention will take place at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott, 1201 Market Street.
Individuals will be responsible for, and must pay out of pocket prior to each treatment, the approximately $30 not covered by Medicare, plus any additional physician's fees and any charges for other medications.
Dialysis centers should set up transient dialysis locations at least two months in advance. This helps assure a location for anyone wanting to dialyze. Philadelphia has many centers, but the area is quite large, so early reservation is strongly recommended to avoid long taxi rides. Here are some dialysis locations:
* BMA of Central Philadelphia, 417 North 8th, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123; telephone: (215) 413‑3050. Contact: Alicia Ilagan. Very close to Marriott.
* Gambro Spring Garden, 3836 Spring Garden, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104; telephone: (215) 382‑8511. Contact: Lou Molina, Social Worker. Fairly close to the Marriott.
* Franklin Dialysis Centers, Inc., 700 Spruce Street, #401, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107; telephone: (215) 829‑5650. Farthest from the Marriott.
Please remember to schedule dialysis treatments early to ensure space. If scheduling assistance is needed, have your dialysis unit's social worker contact me: Diabetes Action Network President Ed Bryant, telephone: (573) 875‑8911. See you in Philadelphia.
This month's recipes were submitted by members of the NFB of Idaho.
Idaho Tater Top Casserole
by Mary Ellen Halverson
Mary Ellen Halverson is a long-time member and leader of the NFB of Idaho. She serves as First Vice President of the state affiliate. She reports that this recipe sounds too easy to be tasty, but it really is. Mary Ellen has taken on a new responsibility. Forget about cooking; she is a happy and proud grandmother.
1 pound lean hamburger
1 can either cheddar cheese or nacho cheese soup
Frozen tater tots or seasoned fries
Method: Break up raw hamburger into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Mix in the can of soup. Cover top with tater tots or seasoned fries. Bake one hour at 375 degrees. Serves two or three hungry Idahoans.
Sunny Slope Steamed Apples
by Mary Ellen Halverson
We have lots of apple orchards in Idaho. This is a simple microwave dish that's popular with us.
1 or 2 sliced and peeled apples
Method: Place sliced apples in microwave steamer. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Cook five minutes, stir, cook four or five more minutes. Cooking time varies depending on number and type of apples. This time is based on a small, 500-watt microwave.
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
by Larry Streeter
Larry Streeter assumed his duties as President of the NFB of Idaho on September 30, 2000, after serving as Treasure Valley Chapter President for three years. Larry is an excellent cook and is best known for his efforts on the grill with a good steak.
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pint whipping cream
2 cans condensed milk
7 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Method: Using electric mixer, beat yolks, sugar, salt, condensed milk, and whipping cream in a very large bowl. Blend in remaining ingredients and mix at medium speed for about two minutes. If you desire, add your favorite fruit-–strawberries, bananas, or peaches. Pour mixture into electric or hand-cranked ice cream freezer container. You will need two bags of ice and some ice cream salt to complete your task. Follow the freezer instructions. Place the filled freezer can in the wooden or plastic bucket. To ensure the best results, spread six cups of ice evenly around the container. Follow with one cup of ice cream salt. (If you fail to spread evenly, the task takes longer.) Now that the base is completed, use four cups of ice to each cup of ice cream salt. Use enough ice and salt to pack the bucket full, and always cover the can's lid. Top up with ice and salt as needed. An electric ice cream freezer should take approximately seventeen minutes to complete freezing. When the machine has stopped turning, be patient-–place a towel over the top of the freezer and let ice cream ripen for at least forty-five minutes. Makes four to five quarts of delicious ice cream. If you're really hungry, don't call your friends.
by Larry Streeter
2 pounds stewing beef
1 pound pork loin
1 diced onion
6 stalks of celery, chopped
1 bell pepper
1 can of bean sprouts
2 cans of LaChoy chop suey vegetables
1 can baby ears of corn
2 cups rice, uncooked
salt, pepper, meat tenderizer, garlic powder, soy sauce, sugar, and cinnamon to taste
Method: Spray heavy frying pan with non-stick cooking oil. Cut meat into bite-size pieces and brown, then drain. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, meat tenderizer, garlic powder, and soy sauce. Cover meat with water. Simmer covered for approximately two and a half hours. Check occasionally, keeping meat covered with water. Add celery, onion, and bell pepper. Cook for thirty minutes more. Drain liquid from canned vegetables before adding them to meat, simmering meat an additional thirty minutes. It may be necessary to add water and soy sauce to cover all ingredients. Cook with or without a lid--your choice. Cook rice according to package directions. Serve meat mixture over rice; sprinkle with small amounts of sugar, cinnamon, and soy sauce. Serves eight hungry people.
by Jan Gawith
Jan Gawith is First Vice President of the Treasure Valley Chapter of the NFB of Idaho. She is a vendor and runs a very popular and successful cafeteria in a state government office building in Boise. Jan always receives very high marks for her brownies. Her husband Harry serves as affiliate Treasurer.
1 stick softened margarine
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten in one at a time
1 16-ounce can Hershey's Syrup
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together margarine, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add eggs (beating in each very well), chocolate syrup, and nuts. Blend in flour and baking powder. Bake in well-greased 10-1/2-inch-by-15-1/2-inch jellyroll pan for about thirty minutes.
To make the frosting, heat six tablespoons butter, six tablespoons milk, and one and 1/3 cup sugar in heavy sauce pan. Stir until mixture comes to a boil and boil one minute exactly. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup chocolate chips (the real ones) and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat well until frosting reaches a good spreading consistency. Yields thirty to forty brownies. Enjoy!
by Sandy Streeter
Sandy Streeter is the Secretary of the Treasure Valley Chapter in Boise and is married to the affiliate President. She is a very good cook, has an impressive collection of cookbooks, and always enjoys trying a new recipe.
2 pounds zucchini
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup chopped celery
14 ounces stuffing mix
1/2 cup melted margarine
Method: Cook zucchini and onion five minutes, drain, and set aside. Combine soup and sour cream. Stir in carrots and celery. Fold in zucchini and onions. In another bowl combine stuffing mix and melted butter. Pat half of stuffing across bottom of casserole. Add zucchini mixture, and sprinkle remainder of stuffing on top. Bake at 350 degrees for twenty-five to thirty minutes.
Convention Travel Arrangements
We are delighted to report that Sue Kable, our travel agent for many years, is back working with us to make travel arrangements for members of the National Federation of the Blind. She now works for Brunswick Travel, Inc., which has negotiated a special arrangement with US Airways for 2001 convention travel at 10 percent below any published fare for tickets purchased more than sixty days in advance and 5 percent below published fares for all other tickets. Call Sue to make your airline reservation, (800) 852-2736. If she is not available, ask for Elsa or Eike. Be sure to mention that you are with the NFB and attending our convention. To get the best fare, call today.
New O and M Certification:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement. Amendments to the Federal Rehabilitation Act have placed increasing emphasis on state and national certification of professionals. However, certification of orientation and mobility instructors has been conducted using a process that has tended to screen out blind people. Until quite recently the only form of certification in existence has been administered by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) and more recently the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals, created by AER. In light of this history and the description of its approach, the newest certification of all, provided by the National Blindness Professional Certification Board, holds promise for assuring that professionals are able to meet the highest standards possible. Also this new form of certification is specifically aimed at assuring that blind people are welcomed into the profession and encouraged to join it. Here is the announcement:
The National Blindness Professional Certification Board has announced certification for orientation and mobility teachers. This certification body was established to ensure that blind people receive orientation and mobility instruction from qualified teachers who meet professional standards for orientation and mobility. This certification is unique in that it requires the candidate to demonstrate before examiners 1) personal mastery of the skill of independent cane travel under sleep shades; 2) practical and academic knowledge of the field of orientation and mobility; and 3) evidence of strong positive personal convictions regarding the abilities of blind people.
Applicants must satisfy one of the following in order to be eligible to apply for the certification examination: 1) documentation of a minimum of two years of successful teaching experience in the field of orientation and mobility or 2) completion of a university program approved by the National Blindness Professional Certification Board. An application form must be completed and sent, along with a processing fee of fifty dollars, to the Chair of the Orientation and Mobility Examination Committee. Once all application materials have been received, the Chair or a representative appointed by the Chair will contact the applicant to arrange for the examination.
Three members of the Orientation and Mobility Examination Committee will evaluate the candidate. The three areas to be examined include 1) fundamental cane techniques for indoor and outdoor travel demonstrated under blindfold in an unfamiliar environment, 2) body of knowledge in the field of orientation and mobility, and 3) philosophy of blindness. The candidate must achieve a score of 80 percent in each area in order to earn certification.
A study guide is being created listing resources and information that will be helpful in preparing for the examination. For more information contact Dr. Ronald Ferguson, Chair, Orientation and Mobility Examination Committee, 101 S. Trenton Street, Ruston, Louisiana 71270, (318) 251-2891, <[email protected]>.
New Publication on Braille:
We recently received the following press release from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. A number of the contributors are NFB leaders. Here it is:
Braille: Into the Next Millennium, a 600‑page anthology of articles by more than two dozen international experts in the field of Braille, has been published jointly by the Library of Congress's National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS/BPH) and the Friends of Libraries for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in North America. Braille literacy is currently a vital concern of advocacy groups of blind people and service providers.
In his foreword NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke notes, "With a tactile medium such as Braille comes literacy--spelling and writing--and broad communication possibilities are open and available. With literacy comes the possibility of freedom. With freedom comes the possibility of endless achievement, from pleasant living to significant social contributions. Personal and institutional commitments to Braille by enthusiasts in the United States have helped advance literacy for blind individuals in North America and have therefore advanced the possibility of freedom for thousands."
The book is divided into three parts. Part I, "Braille in the Past," includes three authors who discuss the origins of Braille, embossed printing in the United States, and the homeplace of Louis Braille in France. Part II, "Braille in the Present," includes eighteen articles on such diverse subjects as the basic literary, mathematics (Nemeth), and music codes to modern refreshable Braille displays and tactile graphics. Part III, "Braille in the Future," contains three authors who write about Braille as a predictor of success, electronic distribution of Braille, and future Braille codes and fonts. In addition there is an appendix of ASCII Braille characters, a list of contributors, and an extensive bibliography.
According to the book's editor, Judith Dixon, consumer relations officer for NLS/BPH and originator of the concept for the book, "We trace Braille from its beginnings through the myriad of current uses and also take a peek at the future. Each author is an expert in his or her field and has brought to this work a perspective that can be acquired only through experience and a profound closeness to the subject."
Kenneth Jernigan, who served for many years as President and then President Emeritus of the National Federation of the Blind, states in his preface, "It is in this atmosphere of renewed opportunity and hope that the current book is produced. It will make a valuable contribution to the new emphasis on Braille, and it will give historical background and perspective. It will also synthesize and draw together present thinking and point the way to the future."
The book is available in Braille and recorded formats for NLS/BPH readers. Print copies have been supplied to the world's major library institutions, as well as the significant university library collections in the United States and Canada, through the Friends of Libraries for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in North America.
Single print copies are available at no cost from the Reference Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20542.
For additional information contact Robert E. Fistick, Head, Publications and Media Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20542, Telephone: (202) 707‑9279, E‑mail: <[email protected]>, NLS Web site: <www.loc.gov/nls>.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
M. Chowdhury, President of the Care and Service to the Visually Handicapped of Bangladesh, has requested Braille, large-print, and cassette books and journals as well as equipment of all kinds for blind people. Donations may be sent Free Matter for the Blind and Handicapped to the Central Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (Project of Care and Service to the Visually Handicapped), P.O. Box 5225, New Market Dhanmondi, Dhaka 1205 Bangladesh.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Kurzweil Personal Reader, Model 7315, Version 1.1, hand and automatic scanner, $2,000, or best offer. If interested, call Carmen Conklin at (641) 435-4151 (days) or (641) 435-2036 (evenings).
Online Training Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Online training in a variety of subjects is now available. Learn Windows 98, HTML Web-page design, PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Eudora, and more from the comfort of your own home. Both live, voice chat, and independent-study courses are available. Receive quality training at an affordable price. For more information contact Cathy Anne Murtha at the Web site <www.accesstechnologyinstitute.com> or call (916) 922-3794.
Perkins Electric Braille Writer for Sale:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Never used Perkins Electric Braille Writer, still in the box. We have two, but we need only one. It is great if you have arthritis or hand weakness or just need to Braille quickly and effortlessly. We paid $900 and are asking $700. We love using our electric Braille writer. Contact Margaret Joseph, 297 Klinger Road, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania 15317; (724) 746-0239, <[email protected]>.
Tom and Monica Venesky, members of the Baltimore chapter, announce with joy the birth of Nicholas Paul on January 5, 2001. He weighed five pounds, thirteen ounces, and measured nineteen inches long. Parents and baby son are all doing well.
Mentoring and Metamorphosis
Blind Counselors Wanted:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The Society for the Blind in Sacramento, California, is looking for college‑age blind mentors for its summer Youth Retreat held in the beautiful mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Two sessions will be held on the following dates:
Session One: Sunday, July 21, to Tuesday, July 31, 2001
Session Two: Sunday, August 5, to Wednesday, August 15, 2001
If you have experience working with blind teen-agers twelve to eighteen years old; if you enjoy outdoor activities, have good cane-travel and Braille skills, and are willing to share your experiences as a blind person with teen-agers who truly need the support of blind peer mentors, then this is the job for you.
Those who are interested may contact Debbie Bacon, Program Coordinator of the Youth Enrichment Program, at (916) 452‑8271, extension 305 for an application and further information about the position, including stipend and travel expenses. This is your opportunity to create positive attitudes about blindness and bring about a true metamorphosis through mentoring.
Leadership Seminar Reunion Planned:
The Jerky Seminar is planning a reunion for the National Convention in Philadelphia. Seminarians who wish to attend or help in the planning should contact either John Bailey <[email protected]>, (703) 273‑1053, or Stephanie Scott <[email protected]>, (404)763‑0013 for information.
Online Restaurant Information:
Lorraine Rovig of the NFB Technology Department discovered a Web site that might be useful as you plan your NFB National Convention activities. Its name is self-explanatory: <www.phillyrestaurants.com>. Bon appetit.
Golfing Opportunity for Blind and Vision-Impaired People:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The United States Blind Golf Association National Championship will be expanded into a major thirty-six-hole open tournament for both the blind and the vision‑impaired. It will be hosted by the Greensboro Adams Farm Lions Club and held at the Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina, from September 17 to 19, 2001. Hotel, golf, and other event expenses will be covered for qualifying golfers and coaches, but not travel fares. Anyone interested in blind and vision-impaired golf or competing can contact the USBGA at phone/Fax: (850) 893-4511, email: <[email protected]>, Web site: <www.blindgolf.com>.
The Kanawha Valley Chapter of the NFB of West Virginia has elected new officers for the coming year. They are Roland Payne, President; Ed Greenleaf, Vice President; Barbara Smith, Secretary; Barbara Olive, Treasurer; and Ed Greenleaf, Board Member. James Olive is an Alternate Board Member.
President Maurer Writes: Mrs. Joanne Pelzer was a remarkable person in the history of the National Federation of the Blind. The Federation moved its headquarters from Des Moines, Iowa, to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1978. The National Center for the Blind was being established, and remodeling in the building at 1800 Johnson Street was underway. The Center opened in April, 1979, and Mrs. Pelzer was the first person from Baltimore to become a staff member, joining the fledgling crew on April 29, 1979. She continued to work as a staff member of the Federation until health problems made this impracticable. However, she continued to serve the organization, coming to the National Center for the Blind and doing the work of the Federation until the end of 1998. She was one of the longest-term members of our staff with a record of employment that lasted just short of twenty years.
Mrs. Pelzer was quiet and unassuming, but she was also dedicated, energetic, reliable, and generous. She was always available to help, and she gave much greatly appreciated advice. Hers was a warm and friendly spirit, and she served the National Federation of the Blind with all of the vigor and enthusiasm she had. On February 22, 2001, Mrs. Pelzer died quietly from complications of diabetes. She demonstrated the hard work and commitment that have helped to bring harmony and growth to the Federation for decades. She is one element of the mixture that has made the Federation strong. Beyond that she was a good and loyal friend, and we will miss her.
Another Step toward Banking Independence:
We recently received this brief report from Thomas Duffy, Editor of the Town Crier, the publication of the NFB of Massachusetts:
The Massachusetts affiliate has been working for years to bring talking ATMs to the blind of New England. On February 28, 2001, Fleet/Boston conducted a press conference at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown to announce an agreement between Fleet and the blind community ensuring equal access in banking at hundreds of Fleet locations throughout New England. Kevin Lessard, Director of Perkins, acted as the official host. Prior to the formal conference, executives from Fleet gave hands-on demonstrations to those interested in learning how to use the new talking ATMs, and many of us took advantage of this highly instructive session. With an ordinary headset blind customers can now take care of their banking without sighted assistance. Speakers identified this as an important advancement in equal access for the visually handicapped under the Americans with Disabilities Act and pointed out that it has been ten years since President Bush signed the ADA into law. Fleet's willingness to install talking ATMs was one more step toward greater independence for the blind.
The Radio Reading Service provided live coverage of this event, and Fleet invited several disabled athletes to speak to the students and staff at Perkins as a way of recognizing the achievements of blind people in all walks of life. Students and alumni asked the guests a number of questions. The NFB of Massachusetts worked closely with other consumer groups and Fleet Bank to bring about this event, and everyone enjoyed the general air of good will. We can hope that, after the largest New England bank has taken the first step, others will soon follow. Local TV and radio stations were on hand to give this commitment the kind of publicity it deserves.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye, A Drawing:
The Diabetes Action Network of the National Federation of the Blind reaches out and provides support and information to thousands of people. Because operating this valuable network and producing the Voice of the Diabetic costs money, we must generate funds to help cover these expenses. Our Diabetes Action Network has elected to conduct a drawing, which will be coordinated by our division treasurer, Bruce Peters.
The grand prize will be $500. The winning ticket will be drawn and the winner's name announced on July 6, 2001, at the banquet held during the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
Drawing tickets cost $1 each, or you may buy a book of six for $5. Tickets may be purchased from state representatives of our Diabetes Action Network or by contacting the Voice editorial office, 811 Cherry Street, Suite 309, Columbia, Missouri 65201, telephone: (573) 875‑8911. Anyone interested in selling tickets should also contact the Voice editorial office. Tickets are available now. Names of those who sell fifty tickets or more will be announced in the Voice.
Make checks payable to the National Federation of the Blind. Money and drawing ticket stubs must be mailed to the Voice office no later than June 10, 2001, or they may be delivered personally to drawing chairman Bruce Peters at this year's NFB convention in Philadelphia. This drawing is open to anyone age eighteen or older, and the holder of the lucky ticket need not be present to win. Each ticket sold is a donation, helping to keep our Diabetes Action Network moving forward.
The National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia elected new officers for the year. They are Ed McDonald, President; Roland Payne, First Vice President; Mary Ann Saunders, Second Vice President; Charlene Smyth, Secretary; Darren Burton, Financial Secretary; Dennis Ranker, Treasurer; and Vicki Long, R.L. (Bob) Hunt, Andy Baughman, Denzil Jones, Ed Greenleaf, Willis (Buck) Saunders, Sheila Davis, and Dotty Schultz, Board Members.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
ALVA 320 twenty-cell, in excellent condition. Works well with DOS and Windows. Runs with Window-Eyes, OutSpoken, and JAWS for Windows. Asking $2,100 (negotiable).
Navigator 40. Good back-up system. Just refurbished at Blazie Engineering. Excellent condition, $1,000 or best offer.
Braille Lite 18, includes disk drive (older model, not the newer one) cables, carrying case, chargers. Has 1999 upgrade. No service contract. $2,100 (negotiable).
If interested, call Isaac Obie at (617) 247-0026.
The Capital Chapter of the NFB of New Jersey was recently established. The officers and board members are Mary Jo Partyka, President; Sue Tillett, Vice President; Ben Constantini, Secretary; Henry Ingra, Treasurer; and Dave Mostello and Tim Dalton, Board Members. Congratulations to this new member of the NFB family.
I pledge to participate actively in the effort of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.