THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Vol. 44, No. 6 June, 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
NFB Net BBS: http://www.nfbnet.org
Web Page address: http://www.nfb.org
Letters to the President, address changes,
subscription requests, orders for NFB literature,
articles for the Monitor, and letters to the Editor
should be sent to the National Office.
Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation about twenty-five dollars per year. Members are invited, and non-members are requested, to cover the subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to National Federation of the Blind and sent to:
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. 6 June, 2001
A Tribute to Kenneth Jernigan........................................................................................................
by Jacobus tenBroek
Dr. Perry's Farewell.........................................................................................................................
by Newell Perry
ACB Takes a Fling at Laying Down the Law................................................................................
Take Me Out to the Ball Game.......................................................................................................
by Susan Povinelli
Skier's Dreams Go Beyond Gold..................................................................................................
by Chris Kuell
Touch of Class.................................................................................................................................
by Doug Hoagland
But Mommy Will Be Mad at Me......................................................................................................
by Shawn Mayo
Reflections on a White Cane Seminar..........................................................................................
by Brenda Houlton‑Aikin
The Voice of Courage
Singer Ana Maria Ugarte Refuses to Let her Blindness
Cloud a Promising Career..............................................................................................................
by Azell Murphy Cavaan
Don Capps Honored.......................................................................................................................
It's All in How You Look at It............................................................................................................
by Peggy Elliott
by Elizabeth A. Evitts
International Computer Pen Pals Needed....................................................................................
by Marc Maurer
Copyright © 2001 National Federation of the Blind
On June 28 two twenty-four-foot moving vans will pull away from the loading docks at the National Center for the Blind to head for the Philadelphia Marriott Hotel and the sixty-first convention of the National Federation of the Blind. One truck will be filled with the equipment, literature, and aids and appliances needed in the exhibit hall during the convention. Any leftovers that did not fit in that truck will be packed in the second truck. But mostly that one will carry the materials for constructing the dog-relief area, equipment and material needed for NFB Camp and the seminars on July 1, and the things necessary to conduct the suites, the NFB convention office, and convention registration. All boxes are numbered and coded with various-colored dots denoting which staff member should take responsibility for them in Philadelphia.
As soon as the vans arrive at the convention hotel, available staff members begin unloading them. The suites and the relief areas are set up first. Then seminar materials are delivered and unpacked for use Sunday. Seminar day is also the time when as many staff members and volunteers as possible do the bulk of the unloading so that the exhibit hall can be set up. The rental trucks are turned in as soon as they are both empty, and one is rented again at the close of the convention to return everything to Baltimore that hasn't been used up, sold, or given away. NFB conventions are complex undertakings, and organizing, packing, and moving materials is one of the most complicated parts of the operation.
[PHOTO DESCRIPTION: A huge number of boxes is stacked on the Johnson Street loading dock. A man and a boy are walking past them. CAPTION: Mr. Cheadle and David Maurer walk past the boxes that are ready for loading into trucks in the courtyard at the National Center for the Blind.]
[PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Dr. Maurer is standing on the tailgate of a truck so that he can pass boxes from the loading dock to the packers. CAPTION: President Maurer takes a box handed to him and passes it along to Mr. Gildner and Mr. Ray to pack into the bed of the truck.]
[PHOTO DESCRIPTION/CAPTION: Mr. Cheadle inspects a partly loaded truck trying to decide how to pack it more tightly.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Dr. Jernigan shows the Iowa Commission for the Blind’s blueprints to Dr. tenBroek.]
A Tribute to Kenneth Jernigan
by Jacobus tenBroek
From the Editor: In April of 1958 Kenneth Jernigan was preparing to assume his new responsibilities as Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. He was leaving California, where he had been a member of the faculty of the Orientation Center for the Blind in Oakland for some six years. He had almost single-handedly built a thriving chapter in the Bay Area, and he had made dozens, perhaps hundreds, of friends across the state. Federationists organized a dinner gathering and evening of tributes to Dr. Jernigan. One of the first speakers was then NFB President Jacobus tenBroek. His speech, which we have only recently rediscovered, exhibits the wit, intelligence, and focus that characterized his leadership of the National Federation of the Blind. In the course of his remarks he mentioned the Kennedy-Baring Bill, which would have guaranteed the right of blind people to take part in consumer organizations. In fact the bill was never passed, but the amount of Congressional support it attracted eventually had the effect of protecting the right of agency employees from reprisals for daring to affiliate themselves with the National Federation of the Blind. Dr. tenBroek began his remarks with a response to the introduction he was given in which the mistress of ceremonies suggested that he might at some time have been accused of slinging mud and alluded to the fact that the tenBroek yard was for an unexplained reason currently filled with mud that the children had been playing in. This is what Dr. tenBroek said:
I deny everything you say. There is nothing in my background or activities which should suggest to anybody that I know how to sling mud. There is something in my background, however, which makes it a very pleasurable occasion for me to be here tonight. Amid the numerous other activities of life, I'm frequently unable to get together with my friends and colleagues, old roommates and classmates, teachers, and so on in California; but a good many of them are here tonight; and that gives me a great deal of pleasure. Dr. Perry, of course, the venerable peer of us all, the founder of the California Council and much of the social legislation in this state and the principles upon which we all seek to organize programs for the blind. Not only in that capacity do I respect him and bring him my homage, but also as unquestionably the most effective of all teachers I ever had. I'm not sure that he ever taught me anything that I could repeat now. That doesn't have anything to say about his capacity as a pedagogue. He is peerless in that respect also, but what I learned from him primarily, I think, was an attitude towards life and certainly an attitude towards blindness that has been the foundation really of almost every step I take in connection with problems of the blind.
Here also tonight is my old buddy Bob Campbell. Among the youngsters at the orientation center there will be those not old enough to know that Bob was once a young fellow. When he was, I was also a young fellow. It's that long ago. We were indeed buddies at the state school for the blind. When Dr. [Perry] wasn't distracting us from our pleasures, we frequently engaged in them together. I could tell you enough to ruin Bob Campbell. The unfortunate thing is that I would have to ruin myself in doing so.
Here tonight also are that next generation downward, people like Al Jenkins, who as a former student of mine could tell enough about me without endangering himself. Certainly in that same class would come Russ Kletzing--two young, very brilliant, able people who are doing remarkably good jobs in their various fields and contributing at the same time immeasurably to the advancement of our cause.
With us here tonight also are some newer friends of the blind of California, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Skinner of the Skinner Foundation. I don't know that any of us know enough about them to be able to ruin them, but we know enough about them to be able to talk about their relationship to us, which certainly must be a glowing account of their intelligent operation of a foundation which contributes immeasurably to the ease and facility with which blind people can get along through higher educational institutions in this state and advance themselves towards their futures of employment and contribution.
Among all these people, of course, there is none quite like Ken Jernigan. Well, as we are going to have to say some things about him pretty soon, I want to put this in a context which will most fully talk about his qualities and contributions. I can see no better way to do that than to begin by a quotation from that very estimable sheet--some might call it a rag--known as the New Outlook for the Blind. [now the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, published by the American Foundation for the Blind] A recent correspondent of mine called it the New Outrage:
"Let him who decries custodialism and who champions the cause of blind people remember that the client become social worker (or agency administrator), and the social worker become client would on the average, because he is human, ultimately revert to the attitude inherent in his situation. Therefore to transpose their roles would not provide the solution."
These are the words of Editor Liechty of the New Outlook, which, as you all know, is the house organ of the American Foundation for the Blind, which in the March  issue has openly abandoned its pretense of above-the-battle neutrality and has unleashed a carefully prepared, all-out attack upon the Kennedy-Baring bill. . . . What is it that is inherent in his situation? What is there about the situation of the agency worker and the blind individual which is so fundamental that it would not avail anything to transpose their roles? What is there in the respective situations which is so dominant that it transcends all individuality and reshapes and controls the attitudes of those who occupy it? What are the attitudes impelled by the situation? The Outlook editor does not say with respect to most of this area, but he does insofar as the agencies are concerned. Here is what he says: "The custodial, paternalistic tendency in services to the blind is to an extent an inherent natural concomitant of any program in which society provides a service for its minority of less favored members. The problem of custodialism and paternalism (continues the editor) has been reduced to the extent that its inherent nature permits by those of society's agencies which are in the forefront of progress."
No one surely could speak any plainer than that. With one sweep of the editorial pen, the blind are forever segregated from the rest of society by virtue of a difference which is irremovable. Moreover, it is not only the difference which is irremovable, but the paternalistic, custodial attitude itself. The candor of this confession is breathtaking. Its unreserved straightforwardness is a thing of admiration. But it is, of course, wholly false at every turn and juncture of its tortuous path--false in its imputation of inferiority to the blind, false in its depiction of an undefined difference which is more than physical, false in its ruthless division of the population into the opposed categories of minority and the rest of society, false in its damning attribution of the custodial, paternalistic attitude of all who work with the blind, false finally in its appeal to a nonexistent substratum of unalterable human nature.
The next paragraph of the editorial carries with it an interesting argument going a step farther:
"Condemning custodialism (writes the editor) as a sin of individual agencies for the blind is both unjust and un-realistic." Note that the editor, however, does not say that it is untrue. Now the self-indictment has deepened a notch. Custodialism admittedly exists, and, what is more, it is a sin, according to the editor. "But it would be unfair to imply that agency workers are the only sinners." Of course Federation spokesmen have never implied that there are no sinners outside of the agencies as well as within, nor have they asserted that all individuals in the agencies are sinning custodialists.
Here is the crucial difference in viewpoint. Editor Liechty, speaking in the house organ of the American Foundation, remember, believes that all agency people are by definition afflicted with the disease of custodialism. I believe that a great many such people have succeeded in avoiding the infection and that still others of them have found a cure. As a result I want here and now to stand up against this unjustified attack against all agencies for the blind. I want to say once more, as I have often said, that there are agencies that do not display the custodial, paternalistic attitude. I want to insist that there are good agencies and good agency people.
Now all of this has a direct connection with the occasion that has brought us here tonight to honor and celebrate the appointment of Ken Jernigan to be director of the Commission for the Blind in Iowa. Few of those who are here and indeed few members of the Federation anywhere need to be told of the character of Ken and the quality of his contribution to the organization. Since his entrance into the movement nearly a decade ago and especially since his election to the NFB Board of Directors in 1952, no one of us has labored more unstintingly or battled more courageously for the advancement of our common cause.
I might recount a few of the highlights of his career as a Federation leader. He is first of all the only member who has served on all three of the NFB survey teams, those teams which canvassed the state programs for the blind of Colorado and Arkansas in 1955 and Nevada in 1956 at the request of their respective governors and which set in motion a chain of reactions of liberalization and reform whose effect will be felt for years to come.
Ken was also the chairman of two of our most successful National Conventions, those of Nashville in 1952 and San Francisco in 1956. He has given selflessly of his time and inexhaustible energy to cross and recross the country in the interest of Federation unity, harmony, and democracy; and he has performed miracles of diplomacy and arbitration in situations which might best be described as peacemaker, problem-solver, and troubleshooter.
More lastingly important than this is his consistent contribution to the overall leadership, expansion, and sustained course of the Federation. Much of Ken's most valuable contribution has been carried on behind the scene. It is not widely known that he is the author of those indispensable guidebooks known as "What Is the National Federation of the Blind?" and "Who Are the Blind Who Lead the Blind?" He is the author of many of the Federation documents that have gone un-bylined. He has represented the NFB informally as well as formally at numerous outside conventions and gatherings throughout the country.
His speeches and reports on the floor of the National Convention year by year and convention by convention have been outstanding events. One of these in particular requires special mention, his address before the 1957 convention on programs for local chapters of the Federation. Few statements have more correctly portrayed and deeply instilled the conception of the Federation--made up as it is of local clubs, state affiliates, conventions, officers, and headquarters, as a single, unified entity, each part of which is the concern, the responsibility, and the local benefit of every individual member. By popular demand this analysis has been Brailled, mimeographed, taped, and distributed to Federationists throughout the length and breadth of the land.
His 1955 study on "The Employment of the Blind in the Teaching Profession," carried out for the California Council of the Blind, has been widely distributed across the country and is making its contribution to the successful campaign to break down the barriers to the hiring of blind teachers in the public schools. In fact, there is scarcely any national movement which has not benefited from the devotion, the time, and the talent which Ken has lavished upon it.
Will this outstanding Federationist cease to be a Federationist when he becomes director of the Commission for the Blind in Iowa? Contrariwise, when, as director of the Commission for the Blind in Iowa, he participates in the Federation, will he be an agency agent within the walls? Will the NFB give orders to Jernigan the administrator? Or, alternatively, will Jernigan the administrator change his role in the Federation? If we accept Editor Liechty's theory, the answer is clear and the picture is dismal.
However, as I have attempted to say, just to pose these questions at all presupposes some basic fallacies: they presuppose that the organized blind are on one side of the line and the agencies are on the other. They presuppose that the function of the agencies is to rule and that of the blind is to obey. They presuppose that the agencies are (as they say) professional and that the blind are unprofessional, that the agencies know what is best for the blind and the blind should accept it without question, that the agencies are custodians and caretakers and the blind are wards and charitable beneficiaries, that the agencies are interpreters of the blind to the sighted community and that the blind are incapable of speaking for themselves, that the agencies exist because the blind are not full-fledged citizens with the right to compete for a home, a job, and to discharge the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. These are basic fallacies indeed.
The truth is that there is no disharmony, conflict, or incompatibility between the two posts. The basic truth is that the blind are citizens, that they are not wards, that they are capable of speaking for themselves, that they should and must be integrated into the governmental processes which evolve structure and administer programs bearing upon their welfare. The truth is that the agencies administering these programs, committed to the democratic view of clients as human beings and citizens and joining with them in the full expression of their capabilities, have a vital and a significant role to play.
There is thus no necessary matter of choosing between two masters moving in different directions. The common object can best be achieved through a close cooperation between the blind and the agencies serving them. The object cannot be achieved without that collaboration. Separate sources of authority, organizational patterns, and particular responsibilities do not necessarily and in this case do not properly entail conflicting commitments. Jernigan the Federation leader and Jernigan the director of programs in Iowa are therefore at one. We wish him well and great success.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Newell Perry]
Dr. Perry's Farewell
by Newell Perry
From the Editor: We recently unearthed a tape recording of a farewell dinner given in honor of Dr. Kenneth Jernigan in 1958 when he left California to become director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. The following little speech was given by Dr. Newell Perry, who was for many years a mathematics teacher at the California School for the Blind. He was Dr. tenBroek's mentor and the moving principle behind the founding of the California Council of the Blind, the spiritual foundation for and formative influence on the National Federation of the Blind. Dr. Perry's words are very much of his time, and his age (eighty-six) is sometimes a conspicuous factor in his remarks, but the character and fire of the man shine through. This is what he said:
Ladies and gentlemen, friends: I am an old man. I have been totally blind a long time, and I've had a great deal of experience. There are a great many people who don't agree with me, but a few do, and I will speak a few words to this friend of ours--that's Mr. Jernigan.
Mr. Jernigan, you are going to be a very, very missed man. You have not been long with us, but you seem to have acquired the understanding of the blind, their capabilities, and so forth; and I have no doubt that you will be wonderfully successful in the work that you are going to adopt.
Of course there are a lot of things that you can do for the blind, but I think ninety-nine percent of your efforts should be devoted to getting jobs for the blind. Many people talk to the blind about everything except the one thing of getting a job. When I was a small kid, some of my friends, other boys--there was Cecil Smith, who later became an attorney, and myself. There was also a young girl named Labarock. We used to lie awake all night arguing with one another as to what a blind man could do. What do we do when we get through school? We didn't spend any time at all talking with sighted people. We learned very soon that they didn't have the slightest idea in the world what the blind people could do, so we forgot that. I haven't changed that [opinion] at all after eighty years.
I wish, Mr. Jernigan, that you could have trained blind people--it's going to be very difficult to find them--who are intensely interested in getting jobs for the blind. If you find them not working hard, fire them. If they waste their time in any other way at all, tell them that you will have no further use for them. Let them go, and hunt for somebody else. If you will get jobs for blind people, the blind people will take care of the rest themselves and that will be the end of it. It's as simple as that.
Of course we have had a good many developments from the point of view of education. There wasn't any blind man in California that I heard of when I was young going to college. If you spoke to the principal of the school or any of the teachers about it, they had nothing to say. Once in a while they would speak very briefly to the effect that you must not have these big ideas. It would lead to great disappointment on your part. We paid no attention to what they said, and we don't yet.
I have one thing else to say. Don't hire sighted people to get jobs for the blind. Either they don't know what to do, which is very natural. How should they? But they at once want to call on people and have a little chat with them. Then a year or two later, they call on you again, and the poor blind devil has no job. He has had no experience in getting a job for himself; I wish there was a way of training the blind person while he's young to get his own job. I think that can be done. I hope that, when Mr. Jernigan gets back there, he some day would be able to secure the appointment of trained blind people (and I expect that he will have to do the training) to interview businessmen. Don't send them to a shop. Get a businessman interested in him to the extent that he will give him a job, and the blind boy will take care of it from then on, I think.
Now, in case Mr. Jernigan can possibly arrange to get a job back there for me, I would appreciate it very much. I am a blind man that has no job, and I am looking forward with some hope, some wishes that perhaps he will send for me and give me a good job. [laughter]
Judging from the success that he has met with here in California, and he has not been here a great while, but judging from what he has accomplished, I have a great deal of confidence in his ability to make a wonderful success in his new job.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Charlie Crawford]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: James Gashel]
ACB Takes a Fling at Laying down the Law
From the Editor: Almost a half century ago, when the National Federation of the Blind was beginning to be a force in the field of work with the blind, many professionals in the field became uneasy at the prospect of consumers finding an independent voice and point of view to use to influence legislators and the general public. (See the speech by Dr. tenBroek elsewhere in this issue.) At about that time the NFB underwent what we now think of as a civil war in which we threw out those who preferred confederacy to a strong federal model of organization. This was great news to all those who wished the consumer movement nothing but ill because it inevitably diverted a certain amount of NFB time and attention away from efforts to improve services to blind people. But the split had another advantage for our enemies: the splinter group was so eager to garner approval from any quarter at all that it was only too happy to play yes man to the lead offered by agency professionals in any agency dispute with the NFB.
The political situation continued about like that until the late eighties or early nineties. At that point Kenneth Jernigan and Bill Gallagher along with others began to put their minds seriously to building harmony where they could in the field and agreeing to disagree quietly where they could not. The result has been a remarkable period of growing accord in the field. Together we have beaten back several serious threats to identifiable rehabilitation services for blind consumers. Increasingly specialized VR agencies have been able to turn to consumers for support in their legislatures at budget time, and they have gradually begun to depend on energetic blind people as role models to encourage new customers. In other words, in all sorts of ways we have begun to build bridges across the chasm of distrust created over decades.
The American Council of the Blind has had remarkably little to do with all this. In some places both organizations have taken a hand in rebuilding understanding or in working together to insure that blind consumers continue to be served. Frequently, however, the pattern has been that the state VR agency has invited both the NFB and ACB to take part in deliberations or an activity but only the NFB has taken leadership or sometimes even showed up. Now the ACB, or its Executive Director Charlie Crawford at any rate, has decided that something had to change. In late April he wrote and circulated a remarkable memorandum to ACB affiliate presidents and vocational rehabilitation agency directors. A week later NFB Director of Governmental Affairs James Gashel wrote a memo to President Maurer commenting on the Crawford document, and Dr. Maurer then wrote a cover memo and sent it and Mr. Gashel's document to that same group of VR agency directors. Here, beginning with Dr. Maurer's cover memo, are the three documents in the case. Jim Gashel's memo follows Dr. Maurer's, and Charlie Crawford's is third.
Date: May 7, 2001
From: Marc Maurer, President, National Federation of the Blind
To: Directors of Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, General, and
Directors of State Rehabilitation Agencies for the Blind
Re: Relationship with rehabilitation programs
Threats to Harmony in the Blindness Field
At a recent meeting of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB), I commented that the growing partnership between state vocational rehabilitation agencies and the organized blind was providing greater opportunities to blind people than had previously existed. I also mentioned that a small number of people were attempting to destroy the harmony and cooperation that had been developing. I indicated that Charlie Crawford of the American Council of the Blind would no doubt expand on this theme.
Shortly after the NCSAB meeting, Charlie did indeed express his viewpoint in a memorandum sent to rehabilitation officials entitled "Concerns Received Relative to State Agency Practices." James Gashel, NFB Director of Governmental Affairs, has summarized comments regarding this memorandum in a May 7 memorandum of his own entitled "Troubling Times" (a copy of which is attached).
Mr. Crawford's memorandum purports to urge that state agency officials seek even-handed fairness in dealing with consumer organizations, but the purpose of the memorandum is not even-handedness. Mr. Crawford pretends to seek equality of treatment, but his purpose is to prevent collaboration or partnership between rehabilitation agencies and the National Federation of the Blind. However, his effort to divide rehabilitation programs from the Federation will cause serious harm to services for blind people and have dire consequences for agencies and consumers alike.
The National Federation of the Blind has fought for programs to serve blind individuals with resources and flexibility not available to state agencies. In fact, the partnership between the organized blind and public rehabilitation agencies has been positive and effective. We want this partnership to continue. If it does not, agencies which serve the interests of the blind are the most likely to be damaged. This has happened before.
For these reasons I am distributing Mr. Gashel's memorandum to you. We value the partnership that is developing between the organized blind and agencies for the blind, and we deplore anything that will damage collaboration in the future.
That was the cover memo. Now here is Mr. Gashel's comment:
DATE: May 7, 2001
FROM: James Gashel
TO: Dr. Maurer
RE: Troubling times
As you know, a memorandum from Charlie Crawford to "State rehabilitation agency heads and ACB affiliate presidents" has been widely distributed on the Internet under the subject: "Re: Concerns received relative to state agency practices." Ordinarily I would not be moved to comment on such a writing, but this one appears to be part of a pattern which we are compelled to consider.
To begin with, I suppose there is not much point in mentioning the overall tone of Charlie's memo, which amounts to a petulant lecture aimed at the agencies. Perhaps a few state directors will obediently fall into line with Charlie's unsupported demands--some might say, "Charlie's law"--but the ones I talked to are either insulted by Charlie's arrogance or amused by his pompous puffery. As one of them put it, "That's Charlie." He was one of the state directors, so they have observed his character and behavior. Even so, I suspect that many were still surprised to receive such a document full of thinly veiled threats with so little in reality to back them up.
As to substance, Charlie's statements about balance are really disingenuous--that is, the only balance with nothing is nothing. I say this because I am unaware of any programs to help blind people that the ACB makes available through collaboration with state agencies or otherwise. However, according to Charlie's law, agencies should refuse to participate in programs offered by the National Federation of the Blind unless participation is also offered in comparable programs of the ACB. The implication is that collaboration with the NFB when the ACB has no program is a violation of Charlie's law.
To tell it like it is, Charlie's law is just a way for the ACB to claim that it really has positive programs. In fact, collaboration by the ACB in joint efforts of the NFB and state agencies lends legitimacy to the ACB as though it were more than just a silent partner. It doesn't seem to matter if the collaboration is forced and the ACB contributes little or nothing to the effort.
This would be fancy footwork indeed if Charlie could convince the agency directors that his law is valid. Besides, by asserting Charlie's law, there appears to be no downside for the ACB since, either it is asked to join in the collaboration, contributing nothing, or the NFB will be stopped in its tracks. This is the unspoken part of Charlie's law, and the blind of the state lose out because of it.
Consider the example of Missouri, where the state officials have become so gun-shy that really no collaboration or joint programming is carried on between the state and either the ACB or the NFB. This is the inevitable result of Charlie's law. In fact the situation that now exists in Missouri is the outcome of a protest initiated by the Missouri Council of the Blind to insist that Charlie's law be followed. They complained that the state agency was sending students to NFB-sponsored seminars and providing clients with copies of NFB literature. The ACB had no seminars and very little literature.
The agency considered the NFB seminars and literature to be of value. However, the ACB's insistence upon Charlie's law stopped everything. This occurred because the ACB had nothing comparable to the NFB, so the balance of nothing is nothing. Incidentally, the agency officials did ask if the NFB would still make the literature available but just remove any identifying information. This is their notion of abiding by Charlie's law--removing the NFB's name and identity from its own programs and literature.
In point of fact, there is absolutely no legal authority for Charlie's law. That is, the Rehabilitation Act does not include anything like the equal time requirements that at least used to apply to radio and television broadcasts. This conclusion is certainly the result of the Missouri litigation and reflects the current posture toward organizations which the Missouri agency has adopted.
If you think about it more than just a little bit, Charlie's law would lead rehabilitation agencies into virtual gridlock. Why should the principle of balance apply only to services offered by consumer groups and not to all services? For example, if someone receives training with a cane, shouldn't the guide dog schools also have a shot at promoting their method of independent travel with the student, as well? This would be the consequence of Charlie's law.
Beyond this I am seriously troubled by the direction of the ACB's recent conduct as represented by Charlie's memorandum. Here is what I mean. Last year, when the NFB was asking the Congress for funds to expand the NEWSLINE® service for nationwide distribution, leaders of the ACB were attempting to block the appropriation and thought they had done so. Now, with the award of $4 million for NEWSLINE®, every blind person in the United States will have timely daily access to newspapers for the first time ever. However, if the ACB had succeeded in blocking the appropriation, this service would not be possible.
Once again the blind would have been the losers because of Charlie's law and the ACB's lack of a program--not to mention their openly expressed hatred of the NFB. This combination of jealousy and hate was also shown in the ACB's bitter opposition to our request for funds from the state of Maryland to support the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind (NRTIB). Although the appropriation of $1 million was granted, the ACB has vowed to do everything possible to block the funds promised by the Governor of Maryland for future years.
Now comes Charlie's lecture to the agencies delivered in the wake of these attacks and recent defeats suffered by the ACB. I suppose the kindest thing you could say is that Charlie has a need to convince his members that he is really on the ball and at least trying to do something to respond to the NFB's record of success.
It would be one thing if the ACB were putting its energy and money into programs like NEWSLINE® for the Blind, America's Jobline, Job Opportunities for the Blind, technology training, evaluation and development, litigation to protect our civil rights, training for parents of blind children, advocacy in Social Security cases, promoting model laws for Braille and technology access, operation of model training centers, public education campaigns, and distributing aids and appliances; but there is nothing except jealousy that the NFB is doing all these things and more.
Rather than kowtowing to Charlie's law, the blindness field should stand up and insist that the ACB join the rest of us in promoting harmony and progress. I can remember the days when the agencies had very little respect for the NFB and vice versa. Fortunately, through the efforts of Dr. Jernigan, Bill Gallagher, and many other leaders of state agencies and the NFB, we have learned to work together, even if we don't always agree with each other. The ACB resents this partnership and seeks to destroy it. The recent conduct of the ACB as exemplified by Charlie's lecture has crossed the line to provoke a war. In fact, "war" is the term that Charlie and his friends have begun to use; they have gone so far as saying that they are engaged in a fight to the finish against the NFB. Their thinking is so full of venom that their e-mail messages compare Kenneth Jernigan to Jim Jones and Adolph Hitler, even though Dr. Jernigan died three years ago. The NFB has never sought to destroy the ACB, but a war means that someone will get hurt.
Charlie's law is a fraud. He doesn't want balance, and he especially doesn't want any form of free-market competition with the NFB. All he really wants to do is to hate the NFB and eventually kill us off. I have plenty of evidence that this is so, and it is also his reason for lecturing the state agencies about relationships with us.
There you have the NFB documents. Now here is the one that provoked them. As always with ACB documents, we reprint them as we received them--interesting punctuation, spelling, and sentence construction intact.
To: State rehabilitation agency heads and ACB Affiliate Presidents
From: Charles Crawford ‑ ACB Executive Director.
Date: April 29, 2001
Re: Concerns received relative to state agency practices.
I am supplying all state directors and ACB Affiliate Presidents with this memorandum to afford you with an opportunity to know about and remedy any applicable concerns with regard to appropriate balancing of consumer relations to avoid difficulties which may arise from any omissions from addressing the concerns listed below.
The general issue here is that we at the American Council of the Blind have received a number of concerns expressed by our state and special interest affiliates as to various activities within state agencies that may well conflict with our 13 principles of consumer cooperation, which we will add as a courtesy at the end of this message. As you know, ACB has distributed these principles on more than one occasion over the past few years and we use them as a means of measuring the extent to which we find an agency consumer friendly and within the appropriate boundaries of public responsibility. We ask that you review the following concerns to determine if they are occurring in your agency and to take the necessary action to remedy them if they are applicable. We are sending these in an attempt to afford agencies with an opportunity to resolve issues before they become more problematic and generate a need for our intervention at a state administrative level. We are hopeful that you will find this communication to be a positive way to avoid difficulties and improve balanced consumer cooperation.
* Web site issues.
ACB has learned that at least one if not more Web sites of state agencies are not providing balanced links to ACB and our local affiliate sites. This of curse prejudices visitors by only giving them information and links to another consumer group and their publications. While it is not the intent of ACB or our affiliates to suppress access to other organizational entities, we do expect equal access to our information. Hence links on state Web sites that point to one consumer organizational site or its publications or affiliates must also point to our Web site (WWW.ACB.org) and to our equivalent publications such as the Braille Forum and our affiliates.
* Literature distribution issues.
We have heard that at least one state agency has distributed information about another consumer organization within a discrete service application without due diligence to insure that information about ACB was equally available. This creates the appearance of endorsement and fails to provide consumers with information concerning all groups and therefore is unacceptable.
The remedy for this is to insure that applications for services or programming relate only to the service or program and not gratuitously include advertising for a particular group of consumers. It is acceptable that a service, program or event sponsored by a particular group may clearly state such sponsorship, however information about the group or applications for membership are not appropriate to the purpose of the service information. In short; literature associated with a particular service cannot be used as a means of promoting an organization without the appearance of endorsement by a public entity.
* Training methodology issues.
ACB is concerned that publicly sponsored training for blind consumers occurring either directly at an NFB owned and operated rehabilitation center or indirectly provided with the NFB model of training, be either consumer group neutral, or provide equal information on all relevant consumer organizations. In addition, ACB supports the provision of information to consumers in advance of selecting a rehabilitation site or training methodology to insure consumer choice and avoid adverse policies to the understanding of the individual consumer selecting where to receive rehabilitation services.
In the first example, ACB expects that any information provided consumers during rehabilitation services which amounts to advertising of any kind of any organization, must be balanced with information from consumer organizations with a differing view. This insures that consumers are not unduly influenced or otherwise prejudiced at the expense of public dollars and to the detriment of such consumer's ability to choose affiliation or non‑affiliation with any group.
The second example relates to consumers being fully informed as to what expectations may be made of them when attending a rehabilitation program. By example, the use of sleep shades or kenneling of guide dogs could constitute a surprise for consumers who choose not to participate within that training methodology. In such circumstances, the rehabilitation program must either share their training requirements before attendance by the consumer or make other arrangements when consumers exercise their rights to alternative training models.
ACB has provided this information to uphold appropriate balance between the legitimate interests of state agencies and those of organizations of consumers within the context of publicly sponsored services. ACB seeks that no organization have a greater advantage than any other when consumers are afforded with information or opportunities to participate in activities where consumer group advertising occurs. The clear exemption to this rule is where an agency assists a consumer in attending a purely organization oriented function whereupon the agency would further be required to afford the consumer with a right to attend other such sessions of other organizations.
The intent of this memorandum is to enhance the relationship of consumer organizations and state agencies by insuring that there is a fair and equal opportunity for individual consumers to know about and determine whatever relationship they may wish to pursue with consumer organizations. Only in this way can the integrity of the public interest be maintained while the partnership with consumer organizations can flourish.
ACB 13 principles of consumer cooperation.
Establishes 13 principles which the American Council of the Blind (ACB) views as essential in order for state agencies for the blind to maintain positive working relationships with consumers and organizations of the blind, and urges ACB affiliates and chapters to work to insure that all state agencies for the blind in United States adhere to these principles.
RESOLVED by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 1999 at the Airport Westin Hotel, Los Angeles, California, that this organization adopts the following 13 Principles which it establishes as essential in order for state agencies for the blind to maintain positive working relationships with consumers and consumer organizations of the blind:
1. The state agency must make its information available to consumers in a medium which can be read and used. Preferably the information should be made available in the media of choice for each consumer.
2. The agency must hire people who are blind and provide equal opportunity for upward mobility.
3. All agency computer and other information systems and materials must be accessible to and usable by blind employees and consumers as appropriate to their business needs.
4. The offices of the state agency must be accessible to consumers both in terms of transportation and the built environment.
5. The state agency must require its counselors and administrators to engage in good faith negotiations with consumers as to mutual expectations within the context of consumer choice and responsibilities.
6. The state agency must insure that information about consumer organizations is available in a balanced and non‑prejudicial environment. These materials must be made available in accessible media and with sufficient frequency without favoring one organization over others so as to allow consumers to know about and make their own choices as to what to do with the information.
7. The state agency must share information on important topics such as budget and program development in sufficient time to allow consumers to properly assess and productively react to it.
8. The state agency must avoid any actions which would have the effect of chilling the personal decision of employees to join any consumer organizations of their choice and to conduct themselves accordingly outside the framework of agency business.
9. The agency must conduct its training and its business with other entities involving the views of a balanced spectrum of consumer organizations.
10. The state agency director and appropriate staff must attend and participate in state meetings of consumer organizations.
11. The state agency director and appropriate staff must meet with the leadership of consumer organizations on a sufficiently frequent basis to maintain productive dialog and input.
12. The state agency must support consumer initiatives where it is lawful and without conflict of interest for it to do so.
13. The state agency must make appropriate changes as a result of consumer input.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge its affiliates and chapters to work to insure that all state agencies for the blind in the United States adhere to these principles.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Sue and Larry Povinelli with daughters Stephanie and Michele.]
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
by Susan Povinelli
From the Editor: The following article was published in the summer, 2000, edition of the NFB Vigilant, a publication of the NFB of Virginia. Susan and Larry Povinelli are long-time Federationists and leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. They are the blind parents of two delightful sighted daughters. They see to it that their children lead busy, exciting lives. Here is Sue's story about their trip to the old ball game:
It was a typical June day. The weather was hot and sticky. We could hear the thunder rumbling in the distance and knew a thunderstorm was about to hit. The weatherman had predicted that a storm would come through and cool the temperature. It was about 6:30 p.m. when we arrived at the Prince William County Stadium to watch the Cannons, the AA farm team of the St. Louis Cardinals. My girls had earned four free tickets for a Potomac Cannons baseball game by making their school's honor roll.
The Prince William County Stadium is very small. It has a standard-size diamond, and the bleachers are right near the field. We heard the players talking while they warmed up for the game. The bullpen was directly in front of us.
Before the game got underway, the storm hit, and we took refuge under the lean-to housing the concession stand. We ate hot dogs until the storm passed. Nothing smells as good or tastes as great as a hot dog or a hamburger cooked over a charcoal grill and eaten at the baseball park. When the rain let up, we returned to our front row bleacher seats right behind the Cannons' bull pen. Then it started to rain again, so we put up our umbrellas or hid under the bleachers until it stopped. It was pleasant sitting there listening to old rock and roll music and talking with friends. The rain stopped about 7:30, after delaying the game for half an hour.
We watched the ground crew roll up the tarp which covered the infield. They first pulled it to the left and drained the water, then pulled it to the right and folded it like a burrito, rolling it on a huge tube. Now it was time to play ball.
It was great. We could hear and see the players. My children could read the number and position on each player's jersey, which they cannot do when we attend a professional game because our seats are too far from the field. I never realized that the players wore initials designating their position on their jerseys: CF for center fielder and SS for short stop.
Once the game got started, the batter was announced over the public address system. The pitch was thrown. The umpire yelled strike or ball. When the batter hit the ball, we could hear the baseball whiz through the air and smack into the outfielder's glove. The batter was out. It was thrilling to hear the crack of the bat, the sounds of the ball, and the ump calling balls and strikes.
Occasionally the batter hit a foul ball into the bleachers on the third base side. I could hear it bounce off the seats and the children run after it. It is every fan's dream to catch a foul ball. In the sixth or seventh inning a foul ball hit the bleachers next to ours. My girls and the other two children sitting next to us rushed over to that section. Michelle scrambled onto the bleachers. Stephanie, realizing that the ball had fallen through the bleachers, rushed underneath and retrieved it. My girls brought that ball home. Michelle has always hoped and dreamed of bringing a ball home. That experience is one she will remember for the rest of her life.
It was great hearing all this activity. Another advantage of the small ballpark is the close proximity to the players. After the Cannons' relief pitcher and catcher had warmed up, they were sitting on the bench in the bullpen in front of us. A little girl who also received tickets for being on her school's honor roll, started a conversation with the catcher. This same catcher signed my girls' baseball after the game.
It may seem like a very minor thing to attend a baseball game on a cool June night and watch the game under the lights, but for many kids, blind or sighted, it is a real treat. It is the small dreams of catching a baseball or making a play that make our lives enjoyable and memorable. Many people would assume that a blind person could not gain any pleasure from such events, but we do. We enjoy the sounds of the crack of the bat as the batter hits a home run and the crowd roaring as he rounds the bases. We enjoy the smells and the taste of a charcoal-grilled hamburger smothered with mustard and onions. And we enjoy the sights described by our friends and family. So if you get a chance to enjoy an AA-league game, do it.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Allan Golabek on water skis takes off for a jump.]
Skier's Dreams Go Beyond Gold
by Chris Kuell
From the Editor: Chris Kuell is a leader of the NFB of Connecticut. He wrote the following article to highlight a program in which he and the affiliate are interested. Any time we hear about a program that encourages blind youngsters to become more active and test the limits of their ability, we should all stand up and cheer. Now meet a man and learn about a dream worth cheering about. This is what Chris says:
Try to imagine that it is early morning on a warm summer day. You are floating in a tranquil New England lake. The gurgling sounds of a motorboat interrupt the quiet as a tremendous force heaves you out of the water. Knees slightly bent, arms straight out, you hold on to a small wooden handle and soar across the surface of the water. To your right you hear a voice call, "All right now, we are approaching the 500-foot buoy. Get into position." Heart pounding, you go over your mental checklist: head up, arms in, knees bent, legs together, hold that position. The voice to your side begins to fade away as a countdown begins: "Four hundred feet, three hundred, two hundred. . . ." You tense your muscles as your body accelerates, fighting the strong gusts of wind while attempting to gain balance and control.
"One hundred, fifty...." A sudden thwack! sounds as your feet encounter a hard surface. The handle in your grip wants to pull you downward, your feet want to stop moving, and your equilibrium rocks as you actually glide upward. Before you have time to think, you are launched into space, flying well above the water with nothing but your wits and a seventy-five-foot tether linking you to the speeding boat below. Using all your skill and training, you fight to maintain a stable position for just a few seconds, while simultaneously preparing for impact. Your feet held snugly in big, eighty-inch skis smash into the water, cool droplets spraying everywhere, the jolt taxing every ounce of strength in your body. With a little luck you regain control and balance and enjoy a rush of excitement few have experienced.
This scene is not a work of fiction or a bad dream, but rather a description of something World Champion Water Ski Jumper Allan Golabek does happily every chance he gets. Golabek, who lost his sight in a motorcycle accident in 1993, just started water skiing with friends in the summer of 1995. One of the friends, a nine-time champion barefoot water skier, noticed that Golabek was a natural. He took it upon himself to train Allan for water skiing competition. Local news caught hold of the story and reported on the talented blind skier.
Shortly thereafter Golabek received a phone call from Joel Zeisler, the president of the Lake Zoar Water Ski Club in nearby Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Zeisler explained that he had read about Allan and told him of another blind water skier he was training, who was the world record holder for disabled water ski jumping. Allan eagerly accepted Zeisler's invitation to try ski jumping, and, after only two years of training, Golabek entered his first National Disabled Water Ski Competition. There he took third place for jumping and fourth place in slalom, an event in which you go fast on one ski and are timed as you zig zag through six audible buoys. In the 1999 National Championship Golabek took silver in ski jump, slalom, and trick. Trick skiing is a form of free-style skiing in which skiers do a variety of acrobatic maneuvers like backwards skiing, flips, three-sixties, and helicopters.
Confident with his success from the nationals, Allan joined teammate and mentor Mark Hieftje at the 1999 World Disabled Water Ski Championships in Stannes, England. Hieftje was the world record holder for disabled ski jumping at that time. On his third jump Allan cleared fifty-six feet, two inches, setting a new world record. Golabek took gold in the ski jump, bronze in the overall individual competition, and gold in the team competition. Unfortunately, a hamstring injury kept him out of the 2000 national competition. Despite this setback he plans to ski in the next World Championships in Australia in spring, 2001.
Allan's accomplishments are impressive; however, his goals and dreams do not stop with gold medals. Speaking at the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut's 2000 state convention, Golabek down played his personal accomplishments. Instead he discussed visiting local schools and speaking to groups where he passes on his you-can-do-it philosophy. He takes advantage of every opportunity to meet with and talk to blind children and adults. As a result of such interactions he became inspired to provide fun and confidence-building activities to blind people in the area. Together with Zeisler, Golabek brainstormed ways to bring the confidence and self-assuredness that he had learned from waterskiing to others. "I know there are many blind kids out there who would benefit from experiencing the thrill of water skiing," he said.
In early 1998 Golabek worked with a lawyer to set up the Lake Zoar Water Ski Club as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization and began to search for funding. Because of his local celebrity and likeable personality, Golabek was successful in raising enough funds to run a full-day water ski clinic for people with disabilities in 1998. It was a huge success, and in summer, 2000, the club hosted two full-day clinics for disabled children and adults, as well as six five-day summer camp sessions for blind kids. "You should hear the happiness and excitement in the voices of the kids when they get out of the water," explains Golebek. "It's awesome."
Lake Zoar is an eleven-mile, approximately quarter-mile wide lake in rural Sandy Hook, Connecticut. At the camps and clinics the club has three premium ski boats and twelve American Water Ski Association-certified instructors, as well as many volunteers and enthusiastic family members. Participants are first fitted with beginner skis, then shown on land how to get up and maintain proper position so they will know what to expect. Next they are fitted with life vests, and into the water they go.
Once skiers are in the lake, trainers simulate the take-off by pulling skiers up and carefully explaining what they should do. When they are comfortable, the next step is to hold onto a twelve-foot boom--a pole that extends from the side of the boat's stern--about two feet above the surface of the water. "The boom is a great device," Golabek explains. "It gives kids a big head start getting up out of the water and provides a stable support for them to hold on to as they begin skiing." There is no turning when novices are on the boom; they just find their ski legs and listen to the instruction called by the trainers at the back of the boat. Almost all the students soon master the boom and move onto the five-foot bridle. This is basically a standard water-ski rope handle attached to the boom with five feet of rope. This is real water skiing, from getting up out of the water to making small turns. It is smoother, though, because skiers never have to cross the wake and are close enough to hear instructions and tips from the boat.
Finally, for the courageous is the full seventy-five foot rope. Just like sighted skiers, these blind skiers are pulled out of the water and feel the thrill of skiing around the lake. Local police cordon off eight miles of the lake so there is no danger of running into other boats or skiers.
By relying on flyers, local news coverage, and word of mouth, club organizers are finding that interest in their activities is growing. Ultimately Golabek wants to expand summer programs to increase the number of children at the camps, include canoeing as a confidence- and team-building exercise, and perhaps make the camps residential. This would allow more kids from farther away to attend. "Finding corporate sponsors and other funding is our biggest challenge at this point," he concedes. "We want to provide more kids with this great opportunity and continue to train World Class Water Ski Champions."
When asked if winning the gold medals was the highlight of his life, Golabek smiled and said, "Well I don't know; I once made an appearance at a boat show with Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel. But I can tell you this, the best is yet to come."
To find out more about the Lake Zoar Water Ski Club, call Allan at (203) 743-9238.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Ahmed Salem uses his cane to cross the school campus.]
Touch of Class
by Doug Hoagland
From the Editor: The following article was published in the May 7, 2001, edition of the Fresno Bee and is reprinted with permission. Stories like this one are a heartening reminder that lots of blind youngsters instinctively embrace the NFB's philosophy of blindness and recognize the importance of personal independence to real success. Here it is:
The blind boy runs his index finger along the internal organs of the earthworm. Its slimy skin has been cut lengthwise and pinned back by another student. "Is it dead?" the fourteen‑year‑old asks.
"Oh, he's a goner," says the aide who helps the boy in his algebra and biology classes at Clovis West High School.
Ahmed Salem is the boy's name. He is a Muslim and says Allah gave him his blindness as a test, which he intends to pass. So last Monday he feels his way through the dissection. Ahmed does well. He has memorized the worm's anatomy and identifies the organs; average size: two millimeters. "I'm not going to be ignorant," Ahmed says with a gravity more weighty than his years warrant.
His story is that of the hard‑working immigrant, the type of narrative well known in a valley where so many people have come from someplace else. Ahmed moved here from Kuwait last summer. He developed cancer of both retinas as a baby and lost his sight from treatment to save his life. He is one of two blind students on a Clovis West campus of 3,000. He is the only blind student who spent this school year perfecting his English, excelling in regular classes, and learning to get around with a white cane he took up only last August.
Ahmed's school for the blind in the Middle East had thirty students in one building. He didn't use a cane there. At Clovis West it's so different. Ahmed moves from class to class in different buildings, a distinct though not awkward figure among teen‑age throngs dressed in long cargo shorts and capris.
"How he does it, I don't know--but he does," says Brenda Read, Ahmed's biology teacher.
Ahmed does not indulge in the American tendency to look at personal issues and ask, "Why?"
"I've reached beyond the age of puberty," he says. "I'm supposed to be a man. `Why?' would be a stupid question because that would be a rejection of my life."
Ahmed, an Egyptian by birth, lived in Kuwait with his parents and four sisters. He says his father, a doctor, moved his family to the United States because of superior schools: "Here it is better education. Maybe we will go back. Maybe we will live here forever."
He attends regular classes with sighted students and got straight A's his first semester. He's doing well again; his lowest grade is a B in English, which he considers just.
"I don't like anyone giving me more than I deserve," he says. "The problem isn't the teacher. The problem isn't the subject. I need to work harder."
Cynthia Brickey, Ahmed's English teacher, says he's too impatient with himself.
Nevertheless, he often takes a novel and reads it three times in Braille to understand it fully in English. Ahmed's first language is Arabic. He is one of 287 visually impaired students in the central San Joaquin Valley attending public schools, according to December, 2000, figures from the California Department of Education. The practice is called mainstreaming‑‑students with disabilities going to class with nondisabled students. The practice became popular in the 1970's but dates to the late 1940's for blind students.
Peggy Chong, spokeswoman for the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, says mainstreaming fits with the philosophy: "Blind people are part of society, so they should be in society." But public schools pose risks for blind students, Chong says. The risks include:
* Blind students becoming isolated. They need to hear from people who are blind and have succeeded in nontraditional fields. "We celebrate Black History Month and Cinco de Mayo to help those minorities remember their past and see their future," Chong says. "My people don't have that kind of support."
Ahmed dreams of being a nuclear physicist‑‑a choice that excites Chong.
"Good for him," she says. "That's an attainable goal."
* Blind students getting too much praise. Chong says sighted people can gush over a blind child who is bright or independent: "You don't want your head full of that. You can get tired of people thinking you're so amazing because you crossed the street or turned your homework in on time."
Chong, blind since birth, says praise builds "a false sense of reality" that government and school programs foster: "The blind people who actually get somewhere depend on themselves, not the system."
Amanda Lueck says, however, that blind students should be praised for their accomplishments. Lueck teaches at San Francisco State University and is recognized for training teachers to work with the visually impaired.
* Blind students not learning to read Braille. Chong says only an estimated 7% to 11% of blind students who graduate from high school are literate in Braille. Some educators challenge the accuracy of that figure; they say it's too low.
Statistics aside, Chong says too many special‑education teachers don't know Braille, and technology further reduces literacy. Books on tape and audio computer programs don't teach spelling and punctuation, so students become functionally illiterate, she says. Ahmed learned to read Braille in Kuwait.
He's an intense young man. But he also knows how to use the easy banter of youth.
"Hey, man," an acquaintance will say as Ahmed moves across campus. "What's up?" he replies, rear‑ending the words to sound urban and contemporary. Ahmed is tall, standing 5 feet 11 3/4 inches, and speaking proudly of that fraction.
Ahmed starts his day at Clovis West by spending an hour with teacher Susan Dickerson, who works for the Fresno County Office of Education's Vision Program. She marvels at his determination: "I think he's driven in his soul to succeed." Dickerson teaches Ahmed new Braille skills, helps translate his schoolwork into Braille, and assists him with new technology so he can become more independent.
Laurie Hoke, an orientation and mobility specialist for the county office, also works with Ahmed. "Prince Ahmed," she calls him; they practice crossing busy streets several times a week.
Dickerson says her job is like that of any teacher: helping students discover their natural gifts and develop them. Ahmed already possesses a flair for expressing himself, even in his second language. He wrote a poem this year that read in part:
I wonder when the world will end
I hear the talking of the ants
I see the whole world in front of me
Ahmed creates his prose, takes class notes, and writes essays on a Braille Lite, a small seven‑key machine the width of a video case. Combinations of keys produce the raised dots of the Braille alphabet. Text is stored on a microchip and can be printed. A display pad allows Ahmed to read any portion of the text in Braille, and a voice function repeats the displayed text, allowing him to quickly edit his work.
Clovis Unified School District paid $3,600 for the Braille Lite and $800 for a software program that reads aloud the screen of Ahmed's laptop computer. He's using it to learn about the Internet. In Kuwait he didn't have most of the technology he uses at Clovis West.
In this increasingly wired world Ahmed continues to rely on the computer he was born with--his brain. During algebra class he often figures out answers before other students finish writing the problem.
"If I want to be a nuclear physicist, I have to be very fast," he says. "I love math my whole life."
Algebra teacher Jason Berg says some students try to race Ahmed in solving problems. He usually wins.
Ahmed praises Berg‑‑and all of his teachers. He says English teacher Brickey "shows a lot of mercy when she speaks, but she's also fair." About geography teacher Jim Hurley, Ahmed says: "I didn't like the subject, but I love the teacher so much that he made me love geography." Does this fourteen‑year‑old who already understands the value of appreciating his teachers ever "kick back"‑‑as teen‑agers say‑‑and just be fourteen? Amro Suboh, one of Ahmed's buddies at Clovis West, says a group of friends go on picnics and also study at the mosque. A few informally wrestle, Ahmed included.
Fifteen‑year‑old Amro, born in Jordan and reared in the United States, says other students are sometimes "a little too nice" to Ahmed because he's blind. His friends try to treat him normally, Amro says.
Ahmed says he wants it that way. It's part of being a regular person. Regular people know how to get around campus and how to cross the street and how to talk with others.
Regular people also are independent, Ahmed says, pausing to search for another way to express that idea. He grows silent, and finally finds the right words. Ahmed smiles and seems pleased.
"Life without independence," he says, "is like a car without gas."
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Shawn Mayo]
But Mommy Will Be Mad at Me
by Shawn Mayo
From the Editor: The following story appears in the nineteenth Kernel Book, I Can Feel Blue on Monday. It begins with President Maurer's introduction:
Shawn Mayo is President of the National Federation of the Blind's organization of blind college students. Her story explores her mother's conflict between belief and fear and shows that changing what we think about blindness in the deepest levels of our souls isn't easy. Here is what she has to say:
"But Mommy will be mad at me," pleaded Ashley. What! I thought, astonished. All I had asked my three-year-old sister was whether she wanted to take a walk to my university and then to Hardee's.
When my mother went back to work, I had told her that I could arrange my schedule to allow me to watch my youngest sister Ashley once a week. What a wonderful opportunity it would be for me to spend quality time with my sister and take a break from the demands of school and daily routine. I enjoy working with children; in fact, I am pursuing a career as a psycho-oncologist, working with children and adolescents with cancer.
Most of the time, when I watch Ashley, my mother brings her over to my apartment in the morning and picks her up in the early evening. Ashley keeps me going constantly. She is a very intelligent and curious child whose attention span is that of a typical three-year-old--short!
Sometimes we play with Play‑Dough, creating different animals and various objects that Ashley thinks up. The imagination of a child is priceless. What appears to be a lump of clay with indentations and another chunk of attached clay is at times a horse--which in the next breath can be a tree. We also play a lot on the computer. She loves to hear my computer "talk" with the speech synthesizer.
"Let's go to Disney dot com," is an all‑too‑familiar request. My computer with speech has provided a useful tool for me to work with her on the alphabet and the sounds of letters. Sometimes we bake cookies, and other times I read her a story in Braille.
Having her here has given me the opportunity to teach her about blindness. She is learning at an early age that blind people can do the same things as sighted people but that sometimes we do these things in a different way.
One day when Ashley came over, she kept talking about how my sister Genesis took her to see a movie and then to McDonald's. I did not want Ashley to think that we could not go to places outside my apartment and yard. So I decided it would be fun to take her to my university to see the fountain outside the library and then walk to Hardee's, where she could get a happy meal.
"Do you want to see where I go to school and then get a happy meal from Hardee's?" I asked Ashley.
"Yes!" Ashley exclaimed. I proceeded to put her shoes and coat on. Then I grabbed my cane. We asked my roommate Sheila, who is also blind, if she wanted to come along, and soon the three of us headed outside. When we got outside, I asked Ashley, "Are you ready?"
"But Mommy will be mad at me," she pleaded.
What! I thought, astonished. All I had asked my three-year-old-sister was if she wanted to take a walk to my university and then to Hardee's.
"What do you mean, Mommy will be mad at you?" I asked Ashley.
"Mommy said we can't go by the street," Ashley responded.
At first I was hurt and could not believe that my own mother, who had always encouraged me to go after my dreams, who knew about my travels across the country, who had driven me to the National Federation of the Blind's training center in Minneapolis to learn alternative techniques of blindness (including mobility) had told my little sister such a thing! But she had.
It was one thing for me to control my own life, but my mother could not bring herself to believe that a blind person could care for a child away from the safety of one's own home.
I knew my sister trusted me. I also knew that, for the most part, she did what our mother told her to do. But I could not let her grow up with the misconception that her sister could not take her anywhere because she was blind. So I decided to talk to her about the ways that I do the same things that other people do.
"How do blind people read?" I asked.
"Braille," she immediately responded as if I should know that.
"You're right. How do Sheila and I use the computer?" I went on.
"The letters and the mouse," she replied.
"Yes, that's true." (I had to remember I was talking to a three-year-old.) "And it talks to me too. What is this?" I inquired while pointing to my cane.
"Your cane, Sissy," she answered.
Of course she knew it was my cane. Ashley loves to go and get my cane for me whenever we go to the laundry room, check the mail, or play outside. Often she will grab my collapsible cane for herself and mimic my using my cane.
We talked about the cane and how I use it as a tool to find the curb to know where the streets are and how I use my ears to hear where the cars are. It is amazing how quickly children can be open to learning and replacing their misconceptions.
So off we went on our adventure. The grass on the sides of the sidewalk became water, ridden with alligators! On our way we paused to watch a squirrel that Ashley had spotted. Bright kid, I thought as Ashley told me how she learned at the Nature Center that a squirrel uses its tail to protect it from the hot sun and wet rain.
We examined pine cones and listened to the birds as we walked hand in hand to the university. I showed Ashley where some of my classes were, and we headed over to sit by the fountain. After splashing in the water some, we decided to go get lunch. Then, off on another adventure, we went to find the rewards that fast food had to offer.
That evening, when my mother came to pick Ashley up, Ashley was excitedly relaying all the fun things that she had done that day. I asked my mother why she had told Ashley that she could not go on walks with me.
"It's dangerous," was all my mother would say.
It's because I'm blind, I told her. And, even though she denied it, we both knew that that was the underlying reasoning behind her belief. Mom had thought that, because I am blind, I would not be able to keep Ashley safe.
As I thought about it, I understood my mother's worry. Like all of us (blind and sighted alike) she has absorbed society's beliefs about blindness. At one level Mother knew that (because of the very training she herself helped me to get) the chances of Ashley's getting hurt while in my care were really no greater than if I were sighted. But she was still afraid. It will take time for all of us to come to a different understanding of blindness.
"Let's go for a walk, Sissy," Ashley often says. Perhaps we have to grow up with it.
Reflections on a White Cane Seminar
by Brenda Houlton‑Aikin
From the Editor: I often remind members of the NFB Public Relations Committee that we are all engaged in public relations all of the time. The work we do may be positive or negative, but we can hardly walk down the street without teaching someone something about being blind.
This is particularly the case when we come together in conventions. All sorts of people are watching, listening, and drawing conclusions as we gather to teach each other what we know and discuss what we have learned about living full and productive lives as blind people in the community.
In 1991 the NFB of New Mexico conducted a cane travel seminar at its state convention. Brenda Houlton-Aikin was a sighted member of the organization who had come to the convention mostly because of her friendship with Karen (Arellano) Edwards, who was a 1984 NFB Scholarship winner and who is currently a member of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind.
Brenda deeply respected Karen, so she came ready to learn and open to new experience. She was impressed generally by the convention, but she was particularly affected by a cane travel seminar conducted by Chris and Doug Boone. Brenda recently came across the piece she wrote following this experience. She thought that it might be of interest to Monitor readers. The seminar she took part in was a far cry from the trust walks many of us have observed with dismay. Most of those who took part needed to learn all they could about using a white cane. The people who worked with them were blind, and the instruction was positive and substantive. This is the way Brenda Houlton-Aikin describes the event:
My experience at the Cane Travel Seminar during the 1991 New Mexico State NFB Convention surpassed every expectation I had prior to arriving. I was eagerly anticipating being included in the seminar taught by Doug and Christine Boone. I pictured myself being confident and smooth because, after all, I would have the advantage of having seen the surroundings on my way to the meeting room.
Christine opened the seminar by explaining that a cane should be chosen depending on the speed of the person using it‑‑longer for faster walkers, slightly shorter for those whom move at a slower pace. The point is to allow the length of the cane to give ample warning time to enable the person using it to stop when necessary.
Doug helped me select a cane, and I went back to my seat to prepare for the lesson. I listened with interest as Christine explained how to hold the cane and why she had chosen the particular grip she used, holding it somewhat like a golf club. She explained that it worked better for her than the other commonly used grips. She emphasized that no style of holding the cane is right or wrong. Whatever works best for each person is right.
Christine explained that the cane should move in a low arc from side to side, and she taught us how to determine if the arc was large enough for walking by practicing in an open doorway, touching each door jamb as we made the arc. She showed us that an arc extending an equal distance left and right is important to maintain a straight course and prevent veering to one side or the other.
I practiced at my seat, waving my cane in the air at about knee height. "This isn't as easy as she made it look," I found myself mentally commenting as I watched the tip of the cane flail about in midair. The length of the cane necessary for my stride made it heavier than I expected as my wrist strained to maintain control of the movements and bear the weight. I should add that a cane is not heavy, but it becomes a highly sensitive extension of the human/environment interface, and to be useful it needs to be of sufficient length to give advance warning of changes to expect when you're walking at a comfortable pace. The balance between controlling the cane and permitting it to move freely and fluidly is a delicate one to maintain with relatively open‑handed strength. My confidence began to waver a little.
Christine attempted to detail the merits of using the compass points of north, south, east, and west for giving directions since they remain constant while "left, right, up, over, down," and other identifiers tend to be relational. She also gave us some interesting information about using other sources of information to determine the path like the open sounds of larger spaces, the warmth of the sun, and the direction sunlight or wind is coming from.
Some discussion followed about the difference between nylon tips and the metal NFB tips at the end of the cane. A few pointers were offered about taking care of the cane, especially while getting into and out of a car to prevent damaging the cane by closing the door on it.
Remarks were added about where or how to set the cane down so that it is out of the way of others without being too far out of reach when it is needed again. The students were paired up with blind volunteer instructors. Veronica Smith said, "I'll take Brenda."
Christine gave a gentle warning to those of us who were sighted and would be wearing sleepshades. "The hour you spend in this hands‑on seminar using sleepshades and a cane may be a frightening experience and will not be a true reflection of how it feels to be blind. Don't expect too much from this brief encounter in that respect."
I was slightly perplexed at this cautious warning and began to suspect that I might not be able to fathom the many components of vision impairment or the impact it would have on a person's life. It didn't even occur to me that the exercise I was about to embark on would be sufficiently mind‑boggling and so fast‑paced as to require my entire capacity to process the information. I wasn't yet aware that I could not allow confusion or panic to thwart my concentration and my openness or receptiveness to the remarkable opportunity to learn about the cane and its use. I think that was the reason behind Christine's kind admonition. I was still so excited and, now, slightly apprehensive since my understanding of my skills and my preconceived notions were being tested.
Doug provided a set of sleepshades, and Veronica and I attempted to round each other up. Not surprisingly, she found me first. Initially I put the sleepshades on, felt around with my cane, and lifted the sleepshades. "This will be easier if I get into a clear area before I begin," I reasoned.
Veronica brought my thoughts back to the reality of the task at hand when she asked, "Are we ready?"
I gulped, pulling down the sleepshades slowly, adjusting them carefully, and replied, "I guess so." I was a little disoriented at first and ran back through my early physiology lessons to confirm that equilibrium was associated with the ears, not the eyes, but I quickly adjusted well enough to my new state.
Feeling off balance and disoriented had been one of my primary concerns, but anticipating Veronica's voice giving instructions and then tuning in to the feedback the cane was giving me distilled my concentration to the point that I seemed to forget my anxiety.
We found our way out of the door; down two steps; turned west; and made our way through the crowd of other students, instructors, onlookers, bystanders, and passersby.
"Gee," I thought, "just how many people showed up for this event?" My senses were definitely working overtime, and I shared my second discovery with Veronica. "I think sighted people believe that, when people lose their sight, they lose all of their perception." This seems to conflict with the concept that a person's other senses become more acute when vision declines, but it may actually clear up the apparent mystery of the supposed improvement of the other senses. The sighted population readily uses the information gained visually and ignores, disregards, or dismisses all the other sources of information that are present once the initial piece of visual data is processed by the brain. The general devastation regarding the loss indicates a heavy reliance on vision as the primary or even single source of information, and most people would not want to contemplate coping without it. But the other sources are there, and we do take the information in. It's only when the primary source of information is reduced that the other sources become more valuable and the skills capitalizing on them are honed.
I realized I was caught up in my thoughts. I was analyzing way too much, and the task at hand demanded my full attention since I was receiving a lot of information and all of it was coming so fast I couldn't process or interpret it in the time it took to move down the corridor. I was truly astounded and amazed to feel how every tap of the cane resonated with such clarity. Not only could I hear the tap, but I could feel it as well. It gave such incredible clues to where we were and the general environment around us.
Veronica began offering additional instructions. "The cane should arc left to right, and when it's on the right, your left foot should be extended. When it's on the left, your right foot should be extended. Kind of imagine you are kicking it back and forth in front of you kind of like a can on a string."
"Oh no, this could be my undoing," I groaned, recalling my comical reputation for lack of grace. By this time we were almost to the elevator, and I couldn't give up now. I can hardly follow left, right, left without one foot being disastrously attracted to the other while using my vision. In any group activity where hands and feet are expected to follow instructions like "left foot up, right arm down," I'm the one in the crowd who appears to be following the beat of a very different drum.
"Well, just keep up and try to work on it," I coached myself. I suggested that we make our way down to the parking lot and drop off my rather large purse. I described where my truck was on the west side of the building, about three cars down from the near end of the lot.
Veronica was all for it. We encountered every pillar in the vicinity but made it there and back with relative ease. I began to realize that, in my eagerness and concentration on left and right, I had completely forgotten to worry about the claustrophobia I thought would also concern me.
Veronica recommended we continue exploring the layout of the building. We went south, then west, then south, then east, then south, or was it north? "Could we be in another county by now?" I mused to myself. I found Veronica's bearings entirely more dependable than my own. We found ourselves in a strange corridor, split in half with a ramp on the left and stairs on the right. The temptation to raise my sleepshades was too great to resist, so I peeked around and found little or no assistance visually. The hallway appeared to go nowhere in both directions, and the ramp and stairs seemed to have no purpose.
Veronica and I decided this was an acceptable halfway point in our excursion and now was a good time to make our way back. How we returned or, for that matter, from where, I haven't a clue. I've even been back to this same hotel and have never been able to locate where we had been.
Veronica mentioned that I might stay on course a little better using a technique called shorelining, in which I tapped the cane against the wall consistently as I walked beside it. I'm certain this helpful pointer was prompted by the fact that Veronica was at the mercy of my elbows and cane as we walked side by side.
We found the main entry of the building and attempted to pass the fountain and flora that we had been warned of by the distinct aroma of chlorine we had detected yards before we could hear the trickle of water. The pool and planters didn't have a raised edge or border of any kind, so ending up in them was a precarious possibility.
As we made our final approach down the hall back to the meeting room, Veronica was describing the light, airy, open spaces. She asked if I could feel the warmth of the sun and whether I recognized where we were. I did for that brief moment, but, as we passed another warm, open spot, I realized that I didn't remember more than one window area. So much for my powers of visual observation that I had thought would be so helpful.
Later I found I had seen the numerous windows in the area without making a point to commit them to memory as separate and individual objects, each with its own distinct impact on the environment.
As we entered the meeting room, I felt both exhilarated and exhausted. As with any new exercise, this one had drained my energy both mentally and physically. We concluded the seminar with a discussion of our experiences from both the students' and instructors' perspectives. I felt I had done fairly well for my first time out, and on a scale of one to ten, one being "never again" and ten being "Lets go!" I would say this was easily a nine. I needed time to sort out all I had learned and get my energy back, but I felt undeniably changed and triumphant.
When I attempted to describe my experience to my family and friends, I found they were mainly concerned with the sleepshades and the fear of claustrophobia just as I had been. I discovered that for me the sleepshades had blocked out a great deal of unnecessary information that flows to the brain visually. For someone with failing eyesight or only a bit of residual vision, the sleepshades would block out a lot of misinformation that makes walking more difficult or even dangerous and promote using the cane more fully.
Correct information can mean the difference between stepping down off one level safely and a misstep that ends with a twisted or broken ankle. The sleepshades seemed to make it easier for me to tune in to the messages from other sources: the cane, sounds, air flow, aromas, textures, gradual inclines or descents, temperature, and many others. The sleepshades disrupted my normal habit of seeking automatic visual confirmation and dismissing the other information as unnecessary.
I've gained more sensitivity and appreciation for all the information available and now try continually to tune in to my world more each day. More important, I believe I've gained more than exposure to a technique; I've gained insight into the habits that play a role in attitudes toward people.
You can create a gift annuity by transferring money or property to the National Federation of the Blind. In turn, the NFB contracts to pay you income for life or your spouse or loved ones after your death. How much you and your heirs receive as income depends on the amount of the gift and your age when payments begin. You will receive a tax deduction for the full amount of your contribution, less the value of the income the NFB pays to you or your heirs.
You would be wise to consult an attorney or accountant when making such arrangements so that he or she can assist you to calculate current IRS regulations and the earning potential of your funds. The following example illustrates how a charitable gift annuity can work to your advantage.
Mary Jones, age sixty-five decides to set up a charitable gift annuity by transferring $10,000 to the NFB. In return the NFB agrees to pay Mary a lifetime annuity of $750 per year, of which $299 is tax-free. Mary is also allowed to claim a tax deduction of $4,044 in the year the NFB receives the $10,000 contribution.
For more information about charitable gift annuities, contact the National Federation of the Blind, Special Gifts, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998, (410) 659-9314, fax (410) 685-5653.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Ana Maria Ugarte]
The Voice of Courage
Singer Ana Maria Ugarte Refuses to Let her Blindness
Cloud a Promising Career
by Azell Murphy Cavaan
From the Editor: The following story appeared in the November 20, 2000, edition of the Boston Herald. Ana Ugarte is a 1996 NFB Scholarship winner and a Past President of the National Association of Blind Students. Here it is:
A hush fell over the performance hall, and Ana Maria Ugarte, an up-and-coming mezzo-soprano, took her place beside the baby grand piano, smiled at her audience, and felt their energy. But she couldn't see their faces.
Still, like every other day in Ugarte's life, her blindness was the last thing on her mind. This was her night. And it was her time to sing. Costumed in a black crushed-velvet evening gown, the twenty-nine-year-old took a deep breath and let loose a wall of sound so rich and full that it rolled through the air and hung there like a cloud.
"I believe my voice is a gift, and when I sing, it comes from deep within my soul," Ugarte said following her benefit recital for the National Federation of the Blind at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge last week.
"For me music is close enough to being the air that I breathe." Indeed, singing has been the force behind Ugarte's indomitable spirit since she was five and heard her first opera in her hometown of Portland, Oregon.
"She fell asleep during the performance," recalled Angela Ugarte, Ana Maria's mother. "But she kept waking up to catch a glimpse and she'd tap my leg and whisper to me that's what she wanted to do when she grew up."
Her sights set on becoming a star opera singer, the young Ugarte joined every church and children's choir she could find. As it turned out, she was a natural whose talent often propelled her to leading roles and coveted solo performances. She thrived on the spotlight.
But by the age of eleven Ugarte started experiencing strange bouts of blurred vision. Over the years it grew progressively worse. "My parents knew I wasn't making it up," said Ugarte, who earned a graduate diploma in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1998.
"They knew I was far too vain to feign anything that would make me stand out as different. The last thing I wanted to be was weird."
By the time Ugarte was fifteen, a rare disorder called Stargardt's Disease had snatched most of her vision away. A disease that causes blindness in about 25,000 young Americans (it usually develops between the ages of seven and twelve), Stargardt's is an inherited form of macular degeneration, which damages the part of the eye that is responsible for sharp, frontal vision.
Ugarte describes the images that her beautiful hazel-colored eyes lay before her as "a big blurry mess." But that's not how she sees the world.
"Some people consider blindness a tragedy, and I admit that I used to think that way," she said. "But I've learned to reduce being blind to a mere nuisance." It's a credo Ugarte says she learned from the National Federation of the Blind, the largest help group for the blind that is run by blind people.
But it took Ugarte ten years to find that inner peace. "(Before connecting with the National Federation of the Blind), I had mastered the art of deception," Ugarte said of her years at Portland State University, where she majored in music. "I memorized the campus. I knew how to get around. Only my close friends and my professors knew I was blind."
It wasn't until Ugarte graduated college that she finally took her mother's advice and contacted the Federation for the first time. "As they say, it was the first day of the rest of my life," Ugarte said.
About a week after her initial contact with the organization, Ugarte packed her bags and left her hometown to start a nine-month program in Denver. The goal: learning how to live as a blind person. "It was the first time in all my life that music wasn't my focus and the first time I accepted the fact that I was blind," she said.
But acceptance never meant submission for Ugarte, who today is a full-time musician. The fact that she cannot see is nothing more than a sidebar--something that even those who know her well sometimes forget about. "Her blindness is like the fact that her hair is brown," said Amy Dethman, a close friend for more than twenty years.
A positive attitude, an appreciation for small victories, and an unwavering commitment to polishing "her product" are the tools Ugarte says will one day steer her to stardom. "I know I can do it," she said. "I don't want to become famous because I'm a blind opera singer; I want to become famous because I'm a good opera singer."
So she will be, her mentors predict. "We've never--not even once--talked about her being blind," said Edward Zambara, the music teacher Ugarte has worked with for nearly two years. "She's so very talented and has everything it takes to have a career in opera, and that's all I see when I work with Ana."
Accompanied by her coach and pianist Scott Nicholas during her recital last week, Ugarte performed songs by Schubert, Copland, Weill, de Falla, and Guastavion.
"Keep your eye on her," Nicholas said. "She's going to be a star."
[PHOTO/CAPTION: (Left to Right) Dr. John Stockwell, Chancellor of University of South Carolina, Spartanburg; Don Capps in full academic regalia; and Betty Capps]
Don Capps Honored
From the Editor: On his wife Betty's birthday, May 5, 2001, Don Capps, President Emeritus of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and senior member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind, received an honorary Doctorate of Public Service from the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg. In recognition of this honor, the South Carolina Legislature also passed a concurrent resolution. Following a series of whereases reprising Don's life of service to blind people and the community at large, the resolution said:
"Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring: That the members of the General Assembly commend Donald C. Capps of Columbia, President Emeritus of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, for the invaluable contributions he has made over the last forty-five years in aiding the blind citizens of South Carolina and the nation, and congratulate him on receiving an honorary Doctor of Letters from USC Spartanburg."
Here is the press release circulated by the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind:
Advocate for the Blind to Receive Honorary Doctorate
The blind woman never went to restaurants or social events because she was embarrassed to eat in public. That changed when Donald C. Capps stepped in and persuaded her to come to a luncheon where everyone would be blind.
A young woman lost her sight when a brain tumor caused her to become blind. She and her three-year-old child were then left in poverty after her husband left her. But Capps heard about her plight and stepped in to help her find employment.
Saturday night, May 5, Capps will again step in, but this time he will step into the limelight when he will be recognized for his years of advocacy for people who are blind and visually impaired. An alumnus of the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, Capps will be given an honorary Doctorate of Public Service degree during commencement exercises at the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg. The Columbia, South Carolina, resident will be honored at the ceremony starting at 7 p.m. on the USC's Quadrangle.
Visually impaired since birth, Capps has spent a lifetime dedicating his time and talent to improving the quality of life for the blind citizens of South Carolina and the nation. He has successfully led efforts to change laws to improve education for blind citizens and served as an advocate, friend, and role model to many residents with vision impairments.
Capps was the first representative of the blind community to serve on the Board of Commissioners of the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. He has been a member of the board since 1981 and currently serves as vice chairman.
"We are very excited and happy for Mr. Capps. This honor could not go to a more deserving person," said SCSDB President Sheila S. Breitweiser, who nominated Capps for the honorary doctorate.
The youngest of eleven children, Capps grew up on a tobacco farm in rural South Carolina. Due to congenital glaucoma he was born without vision in his left eye and seriously impaired vision in his right eye. In 1947 Colonial Life and Accident Insurance hired Capps as a junior claim examiner trainee. As his eyesight deteriorated, however, he felt resigning was his only option. But the company president did not agree and noted that Capps's value to the organization was due to many other abilities besides reading. Capps went on to enjoy a thirty-eight-year career with the company before retiring in 1985.
While successful in business, Capps's greatest achievements were in his countless hours as a volunteer. As a result of his lobbying efforts, more than thirty-five legislative acts designed to improve the lives of blind people have passed the South Carolina Legislature. His work resulted in the creation of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, a state agency that provides orientation and adjustment to blindness, rehabilitation, and job-placement services.
Other legislative achievements include securing funding for needy blind people, equal treatment in jury service, voting assistance for blind people, fair-insurance coverage, access rights and guaranteed equal access to kindergarten for blind children. He also established a statewide task force to address high unemployment rates among employable blind citizens.
Capps has been instrumental in establishing a training program for teachers of blind people at the University of South Carolina. The program will be available in fall, 2001.
He has served on the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind since 1959 and has represented the NFB at conferences around the world--recently returning from a trip to Australia. He served as President of the NFB of South Carolina for thirty years and was recently named President Emeritus. At that time South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges gave him the highest honor a South Carolina governor can bestow--the Order of the Palmetto.
Recognizing a great need for low-cost recreational opportunities, Capps established a camp for blind people. Located in the scenic mountains of northern Pickens County, Rocky Bottom Camp is open year-round free of charge to blind South Carolinians and their immediate families. The thirty-acre camp is the site for a variety of recreational and educational activities including children's and seniors' camps and workshops. Owned and operated by blind people, the camp has confirmed the belief that fellowship and interaction are the best therapies for a person who is experiencing permanent blindness.
Other activities include serving as editor of the statewide Palmetto Blind magazine and former president of the Forest Acres Rotary Club in Columbia.
Other honors include the state Outstanding Leader in Education Award in 1993, the Jefferson Award for public service in 1999, and the Colonel's Way Award for Community Service in South Carolina by the national KFC restaurant chain.
Capps's service continues to make a difference every day in the lives of blind people. A man who had been depressed about his loss of vision wept when Capps visited his home. "You are the first blind person who has ever visited me," the man told Capps. Because of Capps's encouragement and friendship, the man is now serving as the president of a local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.
As the president of the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, Dr. Breitweiser said in a tribute to Capps, "He is truly an angel sent to watch over and serve individuals who are blind."
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Peggy Elliott]
It's All in How You Look at It
by Peggy Elliott
From the Editor: The following piece first appeared in I Can Feel Blue on Mondays, the nineteenth in the NFB's Kernel Book series of publications to educate the public about blindness. It begins with President Maurer's introduction:
"It's all in how you look at it." A common phrase we usually take to mean something like, "What do you think about the matter?" But in this case the meaning is intended to be quite literal.
We who are blind have learned that there are indeed many ways to look and that frequently things that might seem to be entirely visual need hardly involve the eye at all. Peggy Elliott is Second Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind. Here is what she has to say:
We have a big, hundred-year-old house with lots of wood in it, including big window frames around the twenty-nine windows on the first and second floors. But we hadn't gotten around to curtains beyond sheers for quite a few years. Last year we bit the bullet.
Both my husband Doug and I are blind. We decided to have an interior decorator named Kathy help us choose window treatments. She came, measured, left, and called us a week or so later to come down and see what she had for suggestions.
Kathy showed us five or six alternatives for the twenty-two windows we were addressing. All highlighted the beautiful wood, which we approved of, but we didn't like most of her choices. Kathy would put the sample book on the counter and describe her idea as we touched the samples with our hands and assessed her words according to the look we were seeking. Most of the samples were patterned or striped, and some had lace or frilly stuff as accents. We listened, touched, and hoped for better choices.
When Kathy got to one of the last choices, we both knew it was the one for our home. It was simple—off-white material with a bright swag for the downstairs living spaces. We picked for the three rooms upstairs as well, staying simple as we went.
I didn't want Kathy to think we were rejecting her choices, so I said after a while that we just like simple stuff. Kathy replied: "Well, if someone walks into your house and says that this looks like Kathy did it, then I've failed. I want to help you express your taste, not to impose mine." I felt better about rejecting other options after that.
The curtains are all installed now. Kathy was so pleased with our choice for the main living spaces that she has photographed the result to show to other customers. It was the right choice for us and for our house.
But my husband got a little carried away. After we did the windows, I started saying that we needed to take a year off, take a breather, not spend any more money while we recovered from the cost of beautifying our home. Doug ignored me completely.
He's always wanted to fulfill my life dream of having a grandfather clock. We were so pleased with the curtains that he went ahead and got me a clock for my birthday. It's beautiful. It's over six feet tall, hand-made of cherry wood with beveled glass insets, and chimes beautifully without being overwhelming. The very best part is that my clock was made for us by a blind friend.
We know a blind person who loves to make things. When my husband first considered getting the clock (even after I pleaded for financial restraint, I might add), he immediately thought of our blind friend, whose work is careful, precise, and always lovely.
Now, when people enter our dining room, they say: "Oooooh." The curtains look as though they've always been there--just right for the house. In between two of the dressed-up windows stands my clock, causing the "Oooooh." All who have seen it want one for themselves.
Ordinary stories? Doesn't everyone decorate and give precious gifts to loved ones? Yes, and blind people do the same thing. We know what we like, have just as good or bad taste as others, and express that taste in the homes we live in.
But Doug and I have the good luck and good sense to belong to the National Federation of the Blind, which has taught us to believe in ourselves, not only in getting jobs, paying bills, and working in our communities but in the other areas of living such as choosing how our home is to look. Through the Federation we have learned that we can touch things and listen to descriptions to decide what things look like and then choose the things that express ourselves.
Without the self-confidence gained through our blind friends in the Federation, we might have let Kathy choose, thinking her sight was more important than our taste. But not us!
And who ever heard of going to a blind person for fine craftsmanship? We have. Not every blind person is a fine craftsman, but our friend Mickey is as good a craftsman as anyone I know, blind or sighted.
It all comes down to how you look at it, and we have learned through the Federation to look at ourselves as capable, competent people and to look at other blind people the same way. Choose our own curtains? You bet, and they're in the decorator's book of choices. Go to a blind craftsman for a lovely gift? You bet. And we're the envy of everyone we know.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Dan Goldstein]
by Elizabeth A. Evitts
From the Editor: For a number of years now Dan Goldstein has worked with the National Federation of the Blind on cases important to us. He is interesting, literate, and bright. He is also quick to understand the discrimination that faces blind people. The following story first appeared in and is reprinted from the January, 2001, issue of Baltimore Magazine.
Daniel Goldstein loves a good fight. The fifty-two-year-old attorney seems amiable enough, slightly rumpled, with a boisterous laugh and a repertoire of great anecdotes. Get him in a courtroom, though, and this good-natured man turns into a killer.
The metamorphosis is understandable. Daniel Goldstein is defending something quite primal, in his opinion: human rights. The resident of Baltimore, a partner at Brown, Goldstein and Levy, takes on the kind of cases that make John Grisham novels bestsellers. And, like the heroes in Grisham's tales, Goldstein usually wins.
Goldstein is so confident in his abilities--and steadfast in his beliefs--that he is willing to tackle cases most attorneys would run to avoid. For example, in November of 1999 he took on a certain Internet company. Maybe you've heard of them? America Online.
After learning that AOL's software was incompatible with the standard screen-reading program for the blind, Goldstein--who is also lead counsel for the locally based National Federation of the Blind--filed suit, charging that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This was the first time the ADA had been applied to the nebulous world of online technology. It worked. On the tenth anniversary of the ADA this summer, AOL agreed to redesign the next version of its software to accommodate the needs of the blind. Down goes Goliath. Score one, David.
Goldstein was a child of the civil rights movement, where he learned to fight the good fight from his father, Ernie Goldstein, who juggled prominent law and teaching careers in Austin, Texas, with high-powered political work, including a stint as a special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson. Goldstein watched his father advocate for equality during the first turbulent years of desegregation. Ernie organized rallies and speeches at the University of Texas, where he taught, and introduced his thirteen-year-old son to a young civil-rights leader named Martin Luther King, Jr.
"[My father] allowed me to sit in on the strategy meeting after [King's] speech on the condition that I didn't open my mouth," Goldstein laughs.
The battle for civil rights became a familiar affair. Both Dan and his older sister Susan inherited their father's passion for social justice. In 1960 and early 1961 Dan tagged after his sister when she protested the segregated movie theaters and lunch counters in their neighborhood in Austin. But it was the courtrooms of the civil-rights age that left a lasting impression on young Goldstein. He watched as the Supreme Court safeguarded liberties with the historic 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision ending school segregation. He watched as Judges Frank Johnson and John Brown of the Fifth Circuit Court of Montgomery, Alabama, repeatedly ruled in favor of civil rights in the face of severe bigotry. The judicial triumphs of the 1950's and 60's taught Goldstein that the law could be a powerful instrument of social change. He was determined to continue in that path.
Goldstein earned his law degree from the University of Texas in 1973 and moved to Baltimore to clerk for a federal judge. That same year Spiro Agnew pleaded nolo contendere to charges of tax evasion while Baltimore County Executive Dale Anderson stood trial for political corruption. The high-profile cases intrigued him.
"I thought it was exciting that a prosecutor who had no political clout could have that kind of impact simply by uncovering the truth," Goldstein remembers. He was hooked. In 1976 he became a federal prosecutor for the United States. He spent the next six years litigating political corruption and espionage cases, including one cloak-and-dagger case involving a spy who leaked national secrets to the Soviets. In 1982 Goldstein left the power and prestige of the U.S. Attorney's office to pursue private practice.
It was Goldstein's winning reputation that brought Joyce Wilson to his office in 1986. Wilson had recently lost her husband Eric to liver disease. A game of financial chicken between the hospital and his insurance companies delayed the necessary transplant surgery, and two healthy, matching livers went to other patients while Eric Wilson lay dying in his hospital bed. Joyce fought in vain to save his life.
"I begged and pleaded with the hospital," Wilson says. "Too many people ignored us; too many people did not do the humane thing."
She took legal action to draw attention to the devastating treatment of her husband at the hands of a money-driven system. At first she was not sure her case could succeed, but watching Dan Goldstein operate in the courtroom changed her outlook.
"There was one witness on the stand who kept evading Dan's questions," Wilson recalls. "Dan went at him for what seemed like hours until he got what he needed. Even I was ready for him to stop."
That tenacity won the case. The court awarded Joyce Wilson $3 million for the loss of her husband. The ruling buttressed patient rights, establishing that insurance decisions cannot drive treatment once a hospital agrees to admit and care for a person.
Sitting in his office on W. Fayette Street, Goldstein takes his time recounting the story of Eric and Joyce Wilson. He leans back in his chair, tapping a turquoise-and-silver ring--an engagement gift from his wife, Laura--on the arm of his chair.
"Joyce was such a strong and dignified woman," Goldstein remembers. "In the years that we worked on this case, she never cried, but when the verdict came back she wept for an hour. She believed she had done the right thing for her husband."
He pauses frequently when mulling over the story, but in the courtroom that hesitation fades. He is a formidable orator, ferocious at times, according to colleagues. He is completely engrossed, highly tuned in to the details of his case.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake calls Goldstein a "vigorous advocate in the courtroom. He works very hard for his clients and for a cause that he thinks is right."
Judge Andre M. Davis of the U.S. District Court of Maryland first met Dan Goldstein more than twenty years ago when they clerked for the same judge. Later they both litigated cases for the U.S. Attorney's office. He explains that Goldstein's sincerity wins over courtrooms.
"He's good in front of judges and juries because he exudes trustworthiness," Davis says. "This is true of Dan in general; he looks you in the eye, and he gives it to you straight."
Goldstein doesn't do much trial work these days. Most cases, like AOL's, settle out of court. Just as well--the courtroom really takes a lot out of him.
"It calls on every talent of your being to try a case," Goldstein says. "Your imagination, your logic, your empathy, your understanding of the law. You have to use all of you."
At the end of a trial Goldstein is used up. He crashes, spending several days sleeping and nursing the inevitable cold that follows a tough fight. He recuperates with his family--he loves to eat Laura's famous paella and practice his fluent French and travel--and he tries to make up the time lost during the trial.
Still, despite the toll it takes, if Goldstein had his way, he would always be in the courtroom.
"Court is very addictive," he admits. "I love the drama."
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: __________________
International Computer Pen Pals Needed
by Marc Maurer
The Sylvan Learning Center, Inc., is a corporation that explores new approaches to education and does it very successfully. One division is called Wall Street Institute. One of the purposes of Wall Street Institute is to encourage international cooperation and communication. Many international programs are reluctant to include blind people on an equal basis with others; however, Wall Street Institute welcomes participation by the blind. What does Wall Street Institute(WSI) get out of it? It gets a group of people who are willing to communicate with others around the world and who know English very well. WSI is teaching people in other countries to speak English, which it calls the global language.
Here is an announcement about this new initiative of Wall Street Institute along with a survey which is used to identify the interests of potential participants.
Let’s talk about cultures and foreign friends
Imagine a few of the following scenarios with people from different countries (Spain, for example): as a graphics designer, engineering student or professional, you could interact with your counterparts in Madrid and exchange views and concepts on design; art lovers discussing Picasso and Gaudi with a native of Barcelona; music and movie fans exchanging their views with the ones who actually went to the latest festival in San Sebastian; a doctor-to-be getting tips from a cardiologist at the Hospital in Sevilla; an avid soccer and wind-surfing fan talking about the latest game or the highest wave with someone in ...you get the idea!
We are seeking to provide you with an international exchange forum via the Internet with members of our organization, in order to promote increased international/cross-cultural awareness, and friendship.
Why we want to talk to you
We are looking for curious and open-minded adults with an interest in broadening their horizons and understanding of other cultures, a commitment to international friendship, and a desire to develop relationships with foreigners with similar personal and/or professional pursuits. You seem to fit that profile.
Let’s make it happen. It will be fun and valuable for you. Let’s provide you with a window across the ocean. You and the foreigner overseas will enrich each other’s lives by learning about each other’s world in a casual and spontaneous e-mail communication in English. We want to provide you with that link. We want to help you become e-friends!
The e-friends can find each other in a virtual community, searching by their interests and profiles (photos available if wanted), interacting via e-mail and eventually hearing each other’s voices: after all you will be e-friends. The proficiency level of the person you would be interacting with will be mostly intermediate and advanced.
This experience can be beneficial for you: Developing friendships around the world; having future opportunities to visit your e-friends in their countries or receiving them in your home; learning about other cultures and ways of life; exchanging views on your professional subjects or interests; participating in different types of raffles (trips, scholarships, certificates, software, gadgets, etc).
Your organization may also benefit from the alliances with us:
Linking to 125,000 students around the world
Complementing and enhancing its international scope
Possible marketing opportunities
Alliances with the fastest growing international educational company in the world, with English instruction and educational product distribution and more.
We are Wall Street Institute (WSI), a division of Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc.
WSI teaches thousands of working adults English, the global language of business and communications.
WSI serves more than 125,000 students through more than 380 centers in 22 countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
The typical WSI member: a working adult age 18-45, learning English to further his or her professional life and expand career opportunities.
English is quickly becoming the global language of international business and communications. Wall Street Institute (WSI) is addressing this growing demand by offering adult students in their home countries practical, results-oriented English-language instruction in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. WSI offers students various programs of study, with computer-based instruction, in-class instruction, and peer interaction to further their learning experience.
To discuss further about your participation in this e-friend network, please contact:
Wall Street Institute, 1001 Fleet Street, Baltimore MD 21202
Attn. Luchy Jones
800-627-4276, xt. 6573;
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
MEMBERS SURVEY (Code eFN)
My age range is:
_ 18-25 years old _ 26-35 years old
_ 36-45 years old _ 46+ years old
My gender is:
_ Female _ Male
About my occupation
_ I am a full-time student _ I work full time
_ I work part time _ I study and work _ I am retired _ I stay at home_ Other ______________________________________________________
I live in this state:
_ Alabama _ Hawaii _ Massachusetts _ New Mexico
_ South Dakota _ Alaska _ Idaho _ Michigan
_ New York _ Tennessee _ Arizona _ Illinois
_ Minnesota _ North Carolina _ Texas
_ Arkansas _ Indiana _ Mississippi _ North Dakota
_ Utah _ California _ Iowa _ Missouri
_ Ohio _ Vermont _ Colorado _ Kansas _ Montana
_ Oklahoma _ Virginia _ Connecticut
_ Kentucky _ Nebraska _ Oregon _ Washington
_ Delaware _ Louisiana _ Nevada _ Pennsylvania _ West Virginia _ Florida _ Maine
_ New Hampshire _ Rhode Island _ Wisconsin
_ Georgia _ Maryland _ New Jersey
_ South Carolina _ Wyoming
I currently have the following opportunities to interact with people from other countries and cultures (Mark all that apply):
_ None _ Friends _ Pen-pals _ Internet
_ At work _ Traveling _ Hosting visitors from abroad
I would like to have the following opportunities in order to gain more exposure to the world (Mark all that apply and explain below):
_ I do not need or want more exposure and interaction
_ Receiving at home visitors for a short period of time
_ Having a network of people around the world to interact with via email and/or voice
_ Being able to visit people in other countries
_ Other ______________________________________________
Interacting with People from Spain (and Potentially around the World):
Our organization strives to help people succeed in life around the world by creating opportunities for learning and for enhancing their views of the world. We are interested in making available for you a network of foreigners with whom you can interact via e-mail, to increase international and cross-cultural awareness and friendship. It is an opportunity for you to have a window to the rest of the world. You would do so by communicating in English with a variety of adult people in Spain (and potentially in other countries). These foreigners are people over 18 years old, who are working professionals or students, with a variety of interests and pursuits, and who have studied or who are studying English to further their professional and personal life and expand their career opportunities. Mostly their English proficiency is rated intermediate to advanced. In the future you may perhaps expand your communication with these foreigners using real time chats, forums, voice, etc.
Would I be interested in having a personalized interaction in English via email with people from Spain as described above?
_ YES _ NO
8. Do I perceive any value in having such correspondence?
_ YES _ NO
9. What value and benefits would I gain in having such interaction? (Mark all that apply)
_ Develop a friendship throughout email correspondence
_ Interact with someone from a different culture
_ Future opportunity to travel to Spain to meet the foreigner
_ Future opportunity to host the foreigner in my house
_ Help me broaden my horizons
_ Help me somehow with my integration to society on a basis of equality
_ Help raise the awareness and spread the new concepts of blindness among sighted people
_ Help motivated foreign people use their English skills
_ Other: ____________________________________________
10. What would I like to write and communicate about? (Mark all that apply)
_ Getting to know the other person
_ About the culture and life in Spain
_ Common interests
_ Professional subjects
_ Current events
_ Other: _______________________________________________________
11. Specific subjects that I would like to communicate about: (Mark all that apply)
_ Environmental issues _ The arts: Music, film, art, theater
_ Sports _ Computers and information technology
_ Languages _ Other cultures
_ Food _ Current political and world events
_ Entertainment events _ History
_ Philosophy _ Animals
_ Community Service and charities _ Travel and tourism
_ Advocacy issues (poverty, human rights, etc.) _ Blindness
12. The type of person I would like to interact with (Mark all that apply)
_ Similar age
_ Same Gender
_ Opposite Gender
_ Person with common interests
_ Person with new and different interests from mine
_ Person from different backgrounds (ethnic, religious, political)
_ College and university students
_ Working professionals
_ It is indifferent to me (any of the above would be fine)
_ Other: ___________________________________________________
13. Would I like to have a personalized interaction in English with people from countries where English is NOT the official language, besides Spain?
_ YES _ NO
14. Do I think that this personalized email interaction would give me a chance to communicate better with diverse people than in a "chat" session in the Internet?
_ YES _ NO
15. How much time would I be willing or able to spend in that email correspondence with the foreigner? Note: it assumes that an “interaction”is a 2-way communication: 1 email message sent and 1 received.
_ Less than 15 minutes per interaction
_ 15-30 minutes per interaction
_ 30-60 minutes per interaction
_ Other _____________
16. How often would I like to interact with the foreigner?
_ Once a week
_ Twice a month
_ Other _____________
17. I would be willing and able to communicate regularly (as per the frequency disclosed in the previous question) with the following number of people:
_ 1 person abroad _ 21-30 people abroad
_ 2-3 people abroad _ 31-40 people abroad
_ 4-6 people abroad _ 41-50 people abroad
_ 7-10 people abroad _ 51 + people abroad
_ 11-20 people abroad _ Other ______________
18. Would I be willing to keep a simple log of the number of interactions I have? (Note: it assumes that an “interaction” is a 2-way communication: 1 email message sent and 1 received.)
_ YES _ NO
19. Would I like to mention this opportunity to other Americans for them to participate in this network as well?
_ YES _ NO
20. Do I have access to Internet at home or other place besides NFB centers?
_ YES _ NO
21. In order to interact with the foreigner I would use: (Mark all that apply)
_ Computer and Internet at the NFB center
_ Computer and Internet at home
_ Computer and Internet at work
_ Other ______________________________________________________
22. Would I interact with the foreigner?
_ Without compensation, just for having the opportunity of the interaction itself
_ For a nominal fee
_ For an incentive or reward
23. Would the number of interactions increase if I get some type of compensation, besides the communication opportunity itself?
_ YES _ NO
Note: it assumes that an “interaction” is a 2-way communication: 1 email message sent and 1 received.
24. Examples of potential incentives that would keep me engaged in the ongoing communication with the foreigner would be: (Mark all that apply)
_ The development, progress and fruition of the intercultural awareness and possible friendship with the foreigner
_ Raffle opportunities of gift certificates
_ Raffle opportunities of trips to Spain (and other countries) to visit the people I have been interacting with
_ Raffle opportunities to get hardware and software
_ Raffle opportunities of scholarships
_ Some form of assistance to the NFB for education and technology research
_ Other ______________________________________________
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND COMMENTS.
This month's recipes are provided by the members of the National Federation of the Blind of Indiana.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Tammy Hollingsworth]
Fresh Fruit Dip
by Tammy Hollingsworth
Tammy Hollingsworth is the President of the Indiana Parents of Blind Children Division. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Indiana affiliate. She and her husband do a lot of entertaining, and the following recipe is one of her specialties--an absolute must at any of her summertime get‑togethers. It tastes great with strawberries, apple slices, grapes, bananas, and just about any other fresh fruit you can think of.
1 8-ounce brick of cream cheese
1 13-ounce jar marshmallow cream.
Method: In medium mixing bowl soften cream cheese in the microwave for about ten seconds. Remove from microwave and add marshmallow cream. Beat with mixer until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. Cover and refrigerate approximately four hours. Serve in a decorative bowl with a platter of fresh fruit.
by Tammy Hollingsworth
1 pound bulk sausage
1 tube crescent rolls
1 cup frozen hash browns (thawed)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Method: Saute sausage thoroughly and drain. Arrange crescent rolls in twelve-inch pizza pan, points toward center. Press outer sides of rolls up sides to form a solid crust. Seal the perforations. Spoon sausage over crust. Sprinkle with potatoes. Top with cheddar cheese. In a bowl mix eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour mixture over top of cheese. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake twenty-five to thirty minutes at 375 degrees.
by Tammy Hollingsworth
1 roll of sugar cookie dough
1 cup sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 can mandarin oranges (drained)
1 can crushed pineapple (drained)
3 sliced bananas
3 10-ounce packages frozen strawberries (thawed and drained)
Cool Whip or whipped cream
Method: Slice and lightly press cookie dough into a thirteen-by-nine-inch baking pan and bake according to package directions. Allow this crust to cool. In mixing bowl blend sugar and cream cheese. Spread mixture over cooled cookie dough. Then layer mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, sliced bananas, and frozen strawberries. Top with cool whip.
Fresh Vegetable Pizza
by Tammy Hollingsworth
2 8-ounce tubes crescent rolls
1 8-ounce carton sour cream
1 tablespoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 cup chopped and seeded tomatoes
1 cup small broccoli florets
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
Method: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place crescent dough rectangles on ungreased fifteen-by-ten-by-one-inch baking pan; press dough across bottom and about one inch up sides of pan to form a crust. Seal perforations and bake for fourteen to nineteen minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a rack and cool completely. In small bowl combine sour cream, horseradish, salt, and pepper and blend until smooth. Spread evenly over cooled crust. Top with all chopped vegetables. Cut into appetizer-size pieces. Store in refrigerator until time to serve.
by Diane Graves
Diane Graves is the Secretary of the NFB of Indiana. Randy, the originator of this light, summery recipe, is Diane's stepmother. Variations on this recipe are as numerous as the flavors of Jell-O. Substitute your favorite flavor, and top with fresh fruit if desired.
Ingredients for Graham Cracker Crust:
2 packets Graham crackers, crushed
2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
Method: Melt butter. Thoroughly mix sugar and cracker crumbs and combine with butter. Set aside 1/4 cup of mixture for garnish. Then press remaining mixture into a nine-by-thirteen-inch dish or use two nine-inch pie plates. Make sure to cover bottom and sides completely. Set aside or refrigerate to set crust.
1 small box lemon Jell-O
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 3-ounce package cream cheese
1 12-ounce container Cool Whip
Method: Dissolve Jell-O and sugar in boiling water. Add cream cheese. (It's helpful to break up the cream cheese a little with a spoon.) Then with electric mixer beat mixture on low speed until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Spoon into crust. Garnish with remaining crumb mixture. Refrigerate until mixture has set and you are ready to serve.
by Connie Bernard
Connie Bernard is a board member of the NFB of Indiana. She has been preparing this recipe on demand since her school days.
1 small package Pistachio pudding mix
1 can crushed pineapple (in juice, not syrup)
1 8-ounce tub of Cool Whip
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup chopped nuts
Method: Combine pudding mix and pineapple. Fold in Cool Whip; then add marshmallows and nuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy.
Randy's Lemon Pound Cake
by Diane Graves
1 small jar orange marmalade
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1 lemon cake mix, prepared according to label directions
Method: Melt butter and stir in marmalade and coconut. Pour this mixture evenly into a prepared bundt cake pan. Then prepare lemon cake mix according to package directions and pour into the bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for fifty minutes. Cool for ten minutes before turning out onto a plate.
Lest We Forget:
Despicable attitudes about blindness and the capacities of blind people survive today around the world. The fact that the following story was written in India may not surprise you, but that Reuters, one of the most prestigious wire services around the world, found it newsworthy is a sobering reminder of how much work we still have to do. Here it is:
Indian Designer Launches Fashion Range for Blind
by Maria Abraham
BOMBAY, April 10 (Reuters)‑-One of India's most innovative fashion designers, Wendell Rodricks, has launched a collection with Braille embroidery and bead‑work designed specially for the visually impaired. The outfits have Braille embossed in the form of French knots and bead‑work to make it easy for the visually impaired to know the color.
The collection, mostly in white, black, and flesh colors, has been designed in washed cotton, silken crepe, rippled jersey, and stretch lycra to emphasize the feel rather than the look.
Since putting buttons in the wrong button‑hole is a common problem, the Goa‑based designer has taken care to number the button‑holes in Braille.
Rodricks held a preview of the range titled "Visionnaire" in a leading Bombay fashion store on Tuesday with top models draped in his creations priced between 1,050 ($22.50) and 6,000 ($129) rupees.
"This is the most spiritually valuable collection I have ever designed. People say I have contributed internationally to the blind," Rodricks told Reuters after the show. Rodricks said the clothes were for the sighted as well, and the Braille lettering would appear like a design on the clothes.
Leading Indian models like Helen Brodie and Tapur Chatterjee sashayed before a media crowd in flowing, wispy white tunics, sarongs, and halters, looking chic yet mystical.
"People are obsessed with how they look, but I wanted to put feeling in these clothes," said Rodricks, forty.
The idea for a fashion range for the visually impaired was first suggested by Balchandra V. Acharya, a former history lecturer who lost his eyesight at the age of thirteen, to leading fashion critic Meher Castelino.
"I wanted blind people to be able to walk into a shop and pick up clothes without anyone's help. To give them a sense of independence."
Home-Based Business Opportunity Available:
Federationist John Blake has asked us to carry the following announcement:
A sixteen‑year-old company has high-quality, one‑of‑a‑kind products which not only meet your health and nutrition needs, but also provide nutritional supplements offering superior immune-system support. Check our new Antioxidant Formula, a cutting‑edge, anti‑aging nutritional supplement, and our flagship product, Km/Matol, an herbal preparation widely recognized for its health-promoting properties. Our company's products have broad acceptance by doctors and other health professionals. Distributorships available. Please call John Blake, independent distributor for Matol Botanical International, Ltd., at (505) 246‑2605, or, e-mail: <email@example.com>.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Tracy Hall from Blind Industries and Services of Maryland has a Braille Lite 2000 for sale. It is in excellent condition and has the latest updates. She is selling it for $2,200. It is two years old. Anyone interested in purchasing this Braille Lite should contact Tracy Hall at (410) 233‑4567 ext. 301 or (888) 322‑4567 ext. 301.
Cookbooks for Sale:
The NFB of Florida's Polk County Chapter in Winter Haven will have cookbooks available for sale at the Philadelphia Convention. The books have a variety of recipes and helpful hints for easy and fun cooking. It has a lovely, colorful cover and a spiral binding so that it lies flat when in use. Every section has easy-to-find dividers. There are over 200 recipes. The book is available in print, and the cost is $10. See Kitty or Joe King in the Florida delegation, and we will be happy to sell you one of our excellent cookbooks.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The following items are for sale:
Openbook 3.0 with tapes and manuals, $100.
Accent PC internal speech card with manual and disk drivers, $100.
An Ann Morris tone indexer with manual; microphone plugs into unit, $25.
Free Jaws for DOS versions 1.0 through 2.3 with manuals and training tapes. Will ship this item free matter for the blind.
You will need to add shipping cost to all other items sold. Call between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m; money orders only please. Contact J. L. Blackwell, 846 Skyline Drive, Chester, South Carolina 29706, phone: (803) 377‑7913.
Perkins Braillewriters for Sale:
The NFB of Massachusetts is pleased to announce that it has two Perkins BrailleWriters available for immediate sale. These writers have recently been repaired and cleaned and are in excellent condition. Both come with covers and are in cases.
They can be purchased immediately for $300 per machine or best offer. Please write, phone, or e‑mail our Somerset Office to Priscilla Ferris, 140 Wood Street, Somerset, Massachusetts. 02726, phone: (508) 679‑8543, or e‑mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The Phoenix Chapter of the NFB of Arizona elected new officers. They are Martel R. Silba, President; Judith Tunell, First Vice President; Norma Robertson, Second Vice President; Tom Johnson, Recording Secretary; Donna-Lee Silba, Treasurer; Marc Schmidt and Fred Rockwell, Board Members; and Jessie Mora, Sergeant-at-Arms.
Explanatory Exercise Tapes Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Louis Scrivani introduces "Weightless Workouts" and "Chair-a-size," two new exercise tapes geared to the blind. "Weightless Workouts" shows and explains exercises and stretching and warm‑ups and offers several routines. After listening to this audio tape, you can follow a video exercise routine by remembering the weightless-workouts tape. The second tape for sale, "Chair-a-size," describes a few exercises that can be done from a chair for those who use a wheelchair or who do not want to get on the floor or become overheated. It takes only about ten minutes.
Both programs can be found at Phil Scovall's Web site, <www.redwhiteandblue.org/workouts> or by calling (888) 936‑0001.
At the annual convention of the NFB of Utah, conducted April 6 and 7, 2001, the affiliate elected several new officers and members of the Board of Directors. We now have some new faces on the board and some continuing members in new positions. The rearranged Board of Directors looks like this: President, Ron Gardner; First Vice President, Cheralyn Braithwaite; Second Vice President, Ray Martin; Secretary, Kara Campbell; Treasurer, Norm Gardner; and Board members, Dean Anderson, Karl Smith, Mary Hale, David Poteet, and Richard Condie.
Attention Blind Actors:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Award-winning graduate film director casting for lead in thesis film Lucky, a dark comedy about the desire for attention. Shooting in September. I am seeking a blind man in mid to late twenties‑-must be good swimmer. Professionals and non-professionals are invited to send photo/résumés.
The film is about two brothers. The blind character is doing a sponsored swim for charity, and his sighted brother is leading him through the course in a row boat. I will also be casting up to fifteen other roles for blind actors, so anyone interested can send me headshots. We will be filming in either New Jersey or Rhode Island.
Send materials to Sophie Goodhart, 721 Broadway, 10th floor, New York, New York 10003.
New Accessible Web Site:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Come and visit Enablelink.com, an online community for blind people, their families, friends, and colleagues. We offer original content and information on a wide variety of subjects.
We are presently looking for more writers. If you are interested, e‑mail a writing sample to <email@example.com>.
In addition to our original content, we feature world, national, and health news updated daily from several mainstream news sources. The content is presented in an easy-to-read format without the clutter you find in many mainstream Web sites.
We hope to be around for a long time, and we will be supported by purchases made on our site. We offer for sale a wide variety of products, from watches to assistive technology. We have a fully accessible shopping area; please stop by next time you need to make a purchase.
Enablelink.com is a wholly owned subsidiary of De Witt & Associates. For more information contact Richard Fox, Director of Sales and Marketing, De Witt & Associates, 700 Godwin Avenue, Suite 110, Midland Park, New Jersey 07432‑1460; phone: (201) 447‑6500, Ext. 223; Fax: (201) 447‑1187; e‑mail: <Richardf@dewittassociates.net>.
Executive Director Position:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Mississippi Industries for the Blind is seeking an exceptional individual to lead this organization into the future. The Executive Director will be responsible for the management of a sixteen-million-dollar budget and supervision of multiple plant locations. He or she will direct a team of 250 employees and work with state agencies and a board of directors. A demonstrated knowledge of manufacturing concerns and an understanding of issues pertinent to the blind community are essential for the successful applicant. A bachelor's degree is required. A full benefit package is included. Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications. The search committee will accept applications until the position is filled. For information regarding this position, call Mr. R. T. Deacon Millard at (601) 992-2447. Résumés should be sent to Mississippi Industries for the Blind, P. O. Box 55567, Jackson, Mississippi 39296.
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.