THE BRAILLE MONITOR

Vol. 44, No. 7                                                                                                                   July, 2001

                                                           Barbara Pierce, Editor

                                   Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by

                                     THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

                                                   MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT

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                                                   National Federation of the Blind

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         THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION

     SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES

ISSN 0006-8829


Vol. 44, No. 7 July, 2001

                                                                      Contents

Weihenmayer Reaches the Top.....................................................................................................

            by Barbara Pierce

Here We Go Again..........................................................................................................................

            by Jim Marks

Another Fight for Braille..................................................................................................................

            by Barbara Cheadle

Blind Attorney Activist Shuns Special Treatment.........................................................................

            by Mike Kilen

Convention Magic............................................................................................................................

            by Anonymous

Answers Anyone?............................................................................................................................

by Brad Hodges

Rights, Roles, and Responsibilities

in the Orientation and Mobility Process.........................................................................................

            by Joe Cutter

Inventor Raymond Kurzweil Honored.............................................................................................

Blind People in Cuba......................................................................................................................

            by José Monteagudo

Winning Associates and Influencing People.................................................................................

            by Tom Stevens

Settlement Agreement....................................................................................................................

Recipes.............................................................................................................................................

Monitor Miniatures...........................................................................................................................

                                   Copyright © 2001 National Federation of the Blind


[Lead PHOTO/Description: A man wearing a mask that obscures his face can be seen standing on snow. He is holding a sign, which is blown over so that it is hard to read, but it is the sign for the National Federation of the Blind-Allegra 2001 Everest Expedition.]

[CAPTION: Erik Weihenmayer holds the Expedition banner in a high wind at the top of the world. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. local time on May 25, 2001, he spent fifteen minutes on the summit of Mt. Everest before tackling the descent, which is even more dangerous and taxing than the ascent.]


[PHOTO/CAPTION: Erik Weihenmayer crosses a crevasse using a ladder.]

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Erik Weihenmayer prepares to leap a crevasse by measuring the distance with his two climbing poles.]

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Erik Weihenmayer climbs an ice face.]

[PHOTO/CAPTION: The National Federation of the Blind-Allegra 2001 Everest team holds up the expedition banner.]


                                                 Weihenmayer Reaches the Top

                                                             by Barbara Pierce

                                                                      

            At 10:00 a.m. Nepal time on May 25, 2001, Erik Weihenmayer became the only blind man ever to stand on the summit of Mt. Everest. He was part of an incredibly strong, talented, and cohesive team, almost all of whom summited Everest that day and all of whom had worked hard for years to make the fulfillment of this dream possible. Their names are Eric Alexander, Luis Benitez, Brad Bull, Jeff Evans, Steve Gipe, Didrik Johnck, Chris Morris, Mike O'Donnell, Pasquale Scaturro, Erik Weihenmayer, and Dr. Sherman Bull, father of Brad, as well as videographers Michael Brown and Charlie Mace.

            The actual climbers were not the only ones to share the victory. A large base camp support team, loved ones at home, members of the National Federation of the Blind, and the other corporate sponsors and individual supporters and thousands of watchers around the world rejoiced in the triumph and kept right on worrying and praying that the weather would hold and that all the climbers would return safely to camp 4 at the end of the day and to base camp in two more days.

            The base camp staff were an essential part of this amazingly cohesive team: Kevin Cherilla, base camp manager; Kim Johnson, film-crew base camp manager and photographer; and Maurice Peret, NFB communications manager. Special note must be made of Maurice's contribution. Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) released Maurice from his usual duties to take this assignment, which was to represent the NFB onsite and generate dispatches for the Web site that reflected the NFB's perspective on the expedition. All of these members of the team exhibited the same professionalism as did the eleven members of the climbing team and the two men charged with recording the event on film as they climbed alongside the team.

            Four Everest records were set by our climbers on May 25: Erik Weihenmayer was the first blind man to summit Mt. Everest. Sherman Bull, a sixty-four-year-old surgeon, was the oldest person ever to reach the top. He and his son Bradford were the first father-son team to summit in the same climb. And our team of eleven Americans and eight Sherpas was the largest team to reach the top on the same day.

            Two years ago Erik Weihenmayer, his father and business manager Ed, team leader Pasquale Scaturro, and President Maurer agreed that the NFB would sponsor a training expedition to Ama Dablam in the spring of 2000 and the 2001 expedition to Mt. Everest. Erik's determination to achieve his dreams and his refusal to let blindness stand in his way provided a powerful vehicle for the Federation's message that blind people can compete and can be adventurers in everything we undertake. We decided that giving Erik the opportunity to climb Mt. Everest would provide important name recognition for the NFB and call public attention to our positive philosophy of blindness.

            One of the first things we learned was that in the Himalayas weather controls the best laid plans and the most determined human endeavors. Less than 2,000 feet from the summit of Ama Dablam that training climb came to an abrupt halt in a howling blizzard lasting days.

            In 2001 weather continued to control the efforts and plans of all the Everest expeditions. Our team arrived in base camp in late March and began preparing their four camps further up the mountain. This required both American and Sherpa climbers to carry equipment, food, and oxygen to the higher camps in preparation for the actual summit attempt, which would take place sometime during May. Then the waiting began.

            Climbing permits from the government of Nepal for the spring season expire on May 31--the monsoon season officially begins in the area on June 1. After that the torrential rains at lower elevations fall as heavy snow on the mountain, and climbing is totally impossible. So May is the best time to try ascending Everest during the spring. But, when a mountain is 29,035 feet high, its head is actually at the level of the jet stream, so, when it is streaming across Mt. Everest, which it seemed to do most of May, any snow that fell--and much did--was blown by strong winds, often reaching a velocity of 100 miles an hour.

            The result was that, having arrived in base camp before Easter, the team had no choice but to wait for the weather to clear. Of course they did what climbing they could, carrying loads to the higher camps and acclimatizing themselves to the thin air and staggering challenges of climbing Mt. Everest.

            Undoubtedly the most difficult single climbing challenge for Erik was the Khumbu Icefall, which lies between base camp and camp 1. This is a constantly shifting  area of rocks and ice. Crevasses open and grow constantly. If you have seen any of the movies about Everest, this is the area where climbers have to lay ladders or sets of ladders across the crevasses and walk across them, depending on balance and crampons fastened to their boots. Erik's first climb through this area took more than thirteen hours. This is the way filmmaker Michael Brown, who accompanied the team in order to record the expedition for a documentary, described the Khumbu Icefall in a dispatch that appears in full on the expedition Web site <2001everest.com>. Having just completed his fourteenth trip through the Icefall, Michael wrote the following:

                                                                      

            As a documentary filmmaker I appreciate a good story as much as I do a good storyteller. So being in my boots at the edge of the Khumbu Icefall was a choice spot when the NFB Everest Climbing Team returned from their first voyage up, through, over, and back down the Khumbu Icefall.

            I must first set the scene for those who have never stood at the edge of the Khumbu Icefall. It is a massive, rushing river of ice that pours huge chunks of ice from a high mountain saddle. Although frozen, it is alive and has a gurgling, crackling voice that pops and snaps and sometimes shouts explosive blasts as avalanches fall onto it from the surrounding mountaintops. It doesn't look friendly. Big blocks of ice tower over the climbers' heads, and deep, dark crevasses dare climbers to try to cross, placing metal to metal with their crampons on steel ladders. The climbers face eighteen laddered crevasses throughout the route, some two and three ladders long. As I watch from our camp, the climbers look like tiny black specks of lint on a long, white, jumbled cascade.

            Upon taking off their crampons and stepping onto the boulder field back to camp, the climbers tell tales of their Khumbu adventures. Mike O'Donnell, one of the most animated people I've ever met, described the ladder crossings with exclamations, "woo" and "whoa," and then asked the other climbers, "How did you like the one that's three ladders long and slants up and leans to one side?" There were deep chuckles and knowing glances. Mike encapsulated it all by calling it "a hunted feeling" that pervaded the day's experience.

            Before entering the Icefall, Erik Weihenmayer thought that crossing the ladders was going to be the worst part of the Icefall. When he came down, he told me the ladders were a piece of cake. It's the rest of it that's a problem. There are steep walls of ice with footholds, like vertical stairways that you have to go up and down. And the Icefall is huge. Luckily, Erik is an accomplished rock and ice climber.

            Other climbers describe the ladders with adjectives like "shaky," "scary," "sketchy," "airy," "swooping," and "what about those little ropes that tie them together?" Crampons sometimes get stuck between the rungs, but with all the daily practice the technique gets easier.

            The other sections of the Khumbu Icefall attract further colorful descriptions. I heard Eric Alexander's voice on the radio calling in his location. He said, "I just got through the sugary-snow section that follows the popcorn field. I thought I was through all the ice blocks, but looks like I'm heading into and up some more."

            After the Icefall experience, some of the climbers have found religion, and others want to hit the beaches in Thailand. Discussions about minimizing time in the Icefall abound, but the team can expect at least three more round-trips through the area as they attempt to summit Mt. Everest. . . . If it was on any other mountain, people just wouldn't do it.

                                                                      

            That's the way Michael Brown described the Icefall; now read what Erik Weihenmayer himself had to say about his experience traveling through this area. On April 10 this is what he wrote:

                                                                      

            "My first trip through the Icefall took me thirteen hours. It's all jumbly, bumbly ice boulders with holes and slots everywhere, tons of ladders to cross, and lots of vertical steps to climb. It took a lot of intense focus and a lot of intricate communication from my teammates. At first I was intimidated by the idea of crossing the ladders, but it turned out the ladders were the easiest part. They're the only part of the Icefall which has consistency, enabling me to get into a rhythm. Crossing, I lean forward against the ropes and try to click my crampon points precisely onto two rungs. I can feel when it's a good step. It's wild in the Icefall, listening to far-away avalanches coming off the Lo La pass.

            I've been told that the Icefall moves almost three feet a day and the two times I've been in it teammates have told me it looks different. Seracs once standing are now gone, and fixed lines are buried under ice rubble. In some sections teammates will say, "Move fast through this section until we get above it," where we take a rest. I can hear the tension in their voices. The second time I went through, around noon it got so hot I felt like I was going to pass out. With the reflected heat from the snow it felt like being in Phoenix in the summer. Then it got cold and snowed as we came into camp 1. Happily, Charlie and Brad met us at the top of the Icefall with hot drinks and snacks.

            I was psyched to make it through the Icefall, and then fifty yards out of camp 1, when I stepped over a small crevasse and my foot went right in, Luis tried to catch me but instead blasted me in the nose with his ski pole handle. So I came stumbling into camp 1 at six p.m. exhausted and with a fat, swollen nose and blood dripping down my face. The film crew was in heaven."

            In all Erik made ten trips through the Icefall before the team left base camp for the last time. At the end he was making the trip in a little over five hours. I commented to Pasquale that taking eight hours off his original time just showed the value of experience. Pasquale agreed, but he added that the thing it really demonstrated was what an incredibly strong and able climber Erik is.

            The Khumbu Icefall may be the single most difficult part of the climb, but the upper reaches of the mountain present their own problems. And above 25,000 feet is the death zone, where supplementary oxygen is absolutely necessary for all but the strongest Sherpas, and even these fully acclimatized local climbers use oxygen as much as possible. Here is Michael Brown again, describing the challenges of the entire Everest climb in a Web-site dispatch from the climber's point of view:

                                                                      

April 17, 2001

            Less than a year ago I was here in this same place. The memory of the climb is still fresh in my mind. The only thing I have forgotten is the pain. If I had a better memory of the pain, I would not be here. The pain is lungs that feel like they are going to explode, legs that cannot take another step, fingers and toes stinging till they are numb, and then the feeling returning like a flood of scalding liquid through your veins.

            Base camp to camp one (17,400 feet to 19,680 feet): the most talked-about part of the route is the Khumbu Icefall. It should be. We spend way too much time there, and it is dangerous. Human beings are tiny specks in this cascade of house-size and larger blocks of ice--ladders, fixed ropes, and places where you just want to go as fast as you can before something falls on you. The top is deceptively far away, and even after you reach the Western Cwm, it is still a long way to camp one.

            Camp 1 to 2 (21,000 feet): the Western Cwm is a sloping u-shaped valley. If the sky is clear and there is little wind, the sides of the valley reflect the sun to create an oven. We try to be out of here before the heat of the day roasts us.

            Camp 2 to camp 3 (23,500 feet): the Cwm continues for a thousand vertical feet in about a half mile above camp 2. Then the route changes abruptly to a steep ice ramp, the Lhotse Face. It is over a vertical mile high to the top of the world's fourth-highest peak, Lhotse. This year is dry. Our fear is rock fall. There is little snow to catch and hold rocks in place. They will be rolling and spinning down on us. By the time they reach us, they will be like bullets. Camp 3 sits halfway up the Lhotse Face at 23,500 feet. The Sherpas chip tent spaces out of a forty-five-degree ice slope and set our tents there for us. It is cramped and steep; we always stay clipped in when outside the tents. The view of sunset from here is one of the most spectacular on the planet.

            Camp 3 to camp 4 (26,180 feet): This is the second-hardest day of the climb with a 2,500-foot gain, ending at over 26,000 feet of elevation. This is where altitude really affects climbers. There is simply not enough air to breathe, and moving up hill becomes torture. As the day wears on, it gets hot, and that makes it all the more difficult. We cross two rock features that require some technical scrambling. The first is the Yellow Band, a layer of crumbly sedimentary rock at 24,500 feet. The second is the Geneva Spur. From the top of the Geneva Spur the route follows exposed-rock shelves for about a half mile before arriving in the South Col and camp 4.

            Camp 4 to Summit (29,035 feet and back): sometime in the evening, around 8:30 p.m., we will start getting ready--filling water bottles, harnessing up, and putting on crampons. By 9:30 we hope to be moving upward. The climb starts out easily enough, and it is refreshingly cool. In down suits and double boots "cool" is relative. Above the Col there is an ice bulge of hard blue ice followed by a long, gradual snow slope. Across a bergshrund there is a steep gully. We hope for snow here because loose rock or hard ice will be difficult to climb. This section goes on for a very long time with about 1,200 feet of gain. Eventually the slope changes slightly before a last steep pitch to the Balcony at 27,500 feet. Here we will watch a spectacular sunrise. By now everyone's packs, oxygen bottles, and down suits are covered in a thick layer of frost. The Balcony will also be the location of camp 5 if we choose to use it. From the Balcony we will be able to see the top of the Kang Shung Face and even the Summit of Mount Everest. Unfortunately that is still 1,500 feet higher.

            The climbing above the Balcony starts out easily enough but gets steeper and steeper. Soon we are crossing crumbly rock bands with little snow clinging to them. It is also deceptive because it seems that you are about to reach the South Summit only to discover that there is another ridge beyond. The South Summit is at 28,700 feet, and from there one can see the knife-edge ridge that leads to the Hillary Step and the Summit Ridge. It is a short down climb to this ridge and then a wild walk along the highest exposure on the planet. To the left and 8,000 feet down, straight down, is camp 2. To the right is the 12,000-foot drop into Tibet.

            The Hillary Step is one desperate and very ungraceful move. You stick the crampon point of your right foot tenuously into a tiny crack and the left foot behind you into a cornice of snow. Slide the ascender as high as it will go and then stand up and quickly plant your ice tool before you start sliding down again. An embarrassing belly flop on the top, and it is done. The rock bit goes for a while beyond there, but it is easy.

            At last you are on the summit ridge, a half hour of slogging up hill to a small mound of snow. Beyond that the ridge drops away into Tibet. This is the top of the world, the Summit of Mount Everest. Hopefully for our sakes we will have lots of oxygen and most of the day left to get back down to camp 4--full of adrenaline and happiness, but never more tired than this.

                                                                      

            That gives you a pretty graphic idea of what our climbers faced as they made their way up Mt. Everest. Through the first two thirds of May the team repeatedly made plans to begin the final ascent, only to have them postponed by bad weather. Although the National Federation of the Blind-Allegra 2001 Everest Expedition was the largest group waiting to summit from the south side, Pasquale was determined that the team would not be the first of the season to attempt the summit. Fixing ropes and breaking trail takes additional energy. Our team did that job last year on Ama Dablam. This time he wanted other teams to go first, leaving our team free to focus all its energy and attention on reaching the summit.

            Twice the team climbed to camp 2, advanced base camp, with plans to go on to the summit if the weather allowed. The first time the weather became so bad above them that most of the team decided to return to the thicker air and more comfortable conditions of base camp while they waited for things to clear out.

            But finally, on May 22, the team set off for camp 3 in the hope that the clear weather would hold for a summit attempt. On May 23 they went on to camp 4 in the death zone, where bottled oxygen is required for survival. Because of fatigue and a temporary shortage of food and oxygen the team decided to postpone the summit attempt for twenty-four hours. This allowed the Sherpas to bring up more supplies from camp 2 and enabled the team to rest well before tackling the final, demanding effort.

            These were compelling advantages, but the team had no guarantee that the weather would hold for another day. Other expeditions were streaming to the summit, taking advantage of the only break in the bad weather of the spring season. Pasquale admitted that it was the most difficult decision he had ever made, because some members of the team were strong enough to make the climb beginning that evening, and if the weather window closed, none of them would have the chance to try. Yet the team agreed unanimously to wait and rest, hoping that they could try again the next evening.

            At about 9:00 p.m. on May 24 they began their extraordinary twenty-hour push. Here are the brief reports they radioed to base camp. Kevin Cherilla, base camp manager, and Reba Bull, wife of climber Brad Bull, then dictated them over satellite phone to Brian Buhrow, who with his wife Marti had been serving during the climb as Webmaster for the 2001 Everest Web site. Brian then prepared the short dispatches and posted them on the Web site so that the waiting and watching world could keep track of what was happening at the top of the world. Here, in chronological order, are the messages:

                                                                      

SUMMARY Reports

(Nepal Time)

                                                                      

            May 24, 2001

                                                                      

            8:45 p.m.: The climbers have all left camp 4 for the summit. We sent our thirteen climbers and eight Sherpas off with good wishes, music, and cheers. It's really happening! We will have hourly updates from this point through the summit. Keep following closely; everyone is feeling great; and the weather report is positive--clear skies and minimal winds.

            10:00 p.m.: The team is on the move. We haven't heard anything from them since they left. We will update as soon as we hear from them. Here in base camp everyone is drinking coffee, playing games, and eagerly awaiting the next radio call.

                                                                      

May 25, 2001

                                                                      

            12:30 a.m.: Shortly after 11:00 p.m. Brad reported that Michael Brown and Charlie were out front. Chris, Brad, Erik W., and Ang Passang Sherpa were at the base of the Balcony. The other team members are close behind. At 12:30 a.m. Kami Sherpa reported that Pasquale [P.V.] has turned around because he does not feel well. He is returning to camp 4 at the South Col.

            2:00 a.m.: We heard from Erik Weihenmayer at the Balcony. He sounded unbelievably clear and great! The team has remained very close to one another. Steve Gipe and P.V. have both turned around and are now safely back at camp 4. They are directing and encouraging the rest of the team from their tents. We just heard Michael Brown on the radio calling from on top of the balcony; he too sounded excellent! The current weather conditions at approximately 27,000 feet are windy and snowy. The weather report shows wind but clear skies. Here in base camp it's a starry and clear night. While sending this update, we got word that Jeff and Luis just arrived on the Balcony.

            3:00 a.m.: Michael Brown reported continued snow. However, Kami reports clearing skies and visible stars all around from camp 2. The bad weather seems to be above the team but moving out.

            4:00 a.m.: It is cold and windy up high, but the climbers have made a group decision to press on through the storm to stay warm. Here in base camp we are seeing clear skies, and the sun is beginning to light up the peaks. This is great news for the climbers, both for warmth and natural light.

            5:40 a.m.: The team checked in at 28,025 feet. They are on their way! The weather has greatly improved. The skies are perfectly clear with pink and orange tints from the glow of the sun. They said they had great views. Kami informed us that all of the climbers are above the Balcony, waiting for some lines to be fixed. Two Sherpas are currently fixing the ropes.

            6:30 a.m.: The entire team is approaching the South Summit. Jeff had trouble with a leaking oxygen regulator, but it is now 100 percent resolved. The lines have been fixed, and our team is on the move to the summit. Kami anticipates it will be two to three hours before they reach the summit.

            7:30 a.m.: Brad called in at 7:10 a.m. stating that he was alone at the South Summit. His father Sherman is ahead of him with a Sherpa in the middle of the Hillary Step, blazing a trail for the rest of the team. The rest of the team is about a half hour behind Brad, just below the South Summit. More updates as they come in!

            8:54 a.m.: At 8:15 a.m. Sherman Bull became the oldest man to stand on the top of the world. What a thrilling moment! Sherman was accompanied by Lakpa Sherpa. Currently everyone is at the South Summit or above. This is the strongest team on the mountain. Stay tuned!

            10:30 a.m.: Great Summit news! At 9:10 a.m. Luis, Erik W, Eric A, Jeff, and Brad were approaching the Summit. At 9:30 a.m. Brad and Chris Morris reached the Summit. At 9:40 a.m. Brad, Sherm, and Chris headed down from the Summit. At 9:55 a.m. P.V. radioed to report a weather change. Clouds are coming in, and he requested the climbers to go down. At 10:00 a.m. Luis, Erik W, Eric A, and Jeff reached the Summit. Michael Brown followed shortly thereafter. By 10:15 a.m. Kami reported that all eight Sherpas had summited. Didrik and Michael O'Donnell are above the Hillary Step and within sight of the Summit. All climbers who have summited are now headed down to the South Col. We'll post good news soon. This is history!

            11:30 a.m.: At 10:45 a.m. Mike O'Donnell and Didrik made the summit. This makes eleven out of thirteen team members who've summited this morning. All members are on their way down at this moment. P.V. is also traveling from camp 3 to camp 2. He is feeling better, but he thinks he came down with the flu which has been going around camp. In addition to our friends and loved ones, all eight of our Sherpas have summited today as well. They are: Lhakpa Tshering Sherpa, Chhuldim Nuru Sherpa, Ang Passang Sherpa, Ang Kami Sherpa, Lhakpa Tshering Sherpa, Pemba Choti Sherpa, Purba Bote, and Ang Sona Sherpa. What an incredible day!

            4:00 p.m.: The climbers are all coming into camp 4 at the South Col, where they will be spending the night. Chris arrived at 12:00 noon. Michael Brown and Jeff arrived at 3:15 p.m. Erik W, Brad, Sherm, Charlie, and Mike O just arrived at 3:30 p.m., Didrik, Eric A, and Luis at 4:00 p.m. We are all relieved that the team is safely in camp 4. They are eating; sleeping; and, we're sure, telling stories of their summit. The plan is for the team to move back to camp 2 tomorrow, then back to base camp the following day.

                                                                      

            The team did return to advanced base camp on Saturday, May 26, and to base camp on Sunday. Everyone was relieved to have them out of the death zone and back down to thicker air, relatively speaking. The Sherpas retrieved the equipment and empty oxygen cylinders and other trash--this team always packs out what it brings in and cleans up as best it can after other, less conscientious expeditions. The next several days were filled with packing and preparing for the descent and trek back to Katmandu.

            The team left base camp on May 30 and reached Lukla on May 31. Thanks to a small helicopter, seven members of the team who had for various reasons to get back to civilization quickly went on to Namche Bazaar that evening. June 1, Erik was able to take part in a number of media interviews, appearing by phone on the "Today," "CBS This Morning," and CNN morning programs.

            Politics entered into the climb at this point while both sections of the team were trying to get back to Katmandu. The king and queen of Nepal, along with six other people, were assassinated by the prince, apparently for personal reasons. But the political confusion that resulted caused some delay in the team's getting to the city. Once they arrived in Katmandu on June 3, they had to reorganize their gear since some was to be stored there and the rest brought back to the U.S.

            The team landed in Los Angeles on June 6 as ready as they could be for the onslaught of media attention. After two and a half months away, they were eager to be reunited with family members and friends. They had achieved a dream of a lifetime: they had climbed the tallest mountain in the world and had been part of the extraordinary adventure that Erik and Pasquale had put together, but they had also been very far from home and loved ones for a long time. They were exhausted and hungry for American food. The next days would be filled with celebrations and relaxation. The National Federation of the Blind-Allegra 2001 Everest Expedition had come to a wildly exciting and successful conclusion; now it was time for the recollections and anecdotes to begin.

            In a letter to a contact at Time magazine, Ed Weihenmayer pulled the threads of this amazing adventure together. Here in significant part is what he wrote:

                                                                      

They wondered, "Could a blind man ever summit Everest, jumping over the many small crevasses by measuring the distance with his climbing poles and crossing the gaping ones using as many as seven ladders strung together? Could a blind man climb the super‑steep Lhotse Face or traverse the torturous Khumbu Icefall. Could a blind man ever be in the condition necessary to endure more than two months on the world's biggest mountain, and have the stamina to hang in there through fierce storms and frigid cold?" Never say never!

            Erik Weihenmayer and his climbing team made quite a bit of history last Friday morning:

-Erik, the first blind person even to attempt Everest, became the first blind person to summit the mountain.

-Sherman Bull, age sixty-four, became the oldest person to stand on top of the world.

‑Sherman and his son Brad became the first father‑son team to reach the summit together.

‑The nineteen people who summited from this team, including eight Sherpas, is the largest number of climbers from one team ever to summit on the same day. The previous high was fifteen.

            And this speaks to the main story: a team of great individual climbers, climbing together in an absolutely selfless way, bound by their common desire to play a role in helping a blind climber stand on top of the world. In a world dominated by "me" and "me-first," it is refreshing to see star athletes actually put the success of the team above their own. For any great climber Everest is the pinnacle achievement. Moreover, if you are a professional climber, a big-mountain guide, summiting Everest heightens your profile and benefits you commercially. On my jaunt up to base camp, though, it was absolutely clear that each climber put the success of the team above his own desire to summit. The mission was to be part of a team which included a blind climber who would summit Everest, thereby sending a message to the world about the capabilities of blind people. The climb itself was graciously sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which is striving to change what it means to be blind.

            One climber told me privately that he really didn't think he was strong enough to summit, but he was strong enough to help Erik get to the top, and that's why he was there. This statement is even more heartwarming because it was this climber who took a 150-foot fall last year during a team practice climb on Ama Dablam, landed perilously on a ledge, developed pulmonary edema, managed with the help of an unbelievable team effort to descend in a blizzard to base camp, was heli‑vaced to safety, and still had the courage and passion to want to be part of this historic effort.

            This mindset was no accident. Erik assembled the team, handpicking each climber based on climbing experiences with Erik. Each was a conservative climber, one who put safety first. Each had learned to work closely with Erik and had become comfortable with his skills and special systems on a big mountain, and Erik had become comfortable with each of them. Remember, just as Erik puts his life in their hands, they put their lives in his. So mutual trust and confidence are essential.

            But it is more than that. When Erik talks about teamwork in his presentations to business groups, he claims that many climbing teams do not reach the summit because strong climbers set out on individual missions, forgetting that they are part of a team. This is often the case on Everest because the prize is so important. Erik was determined to pick people who would bind themselves to the team and the team mission. In no single instance did one person's individual agenda emerge stronger than the team agenda. Amazing!

            Here is a May 10 journal entry from one climber: "It was Erik who first taught me how to rock and ice climb and gave me my love of mountaineering. The first time I went rock climbing was the day Erik proposed to Ellen on the Praying Monk on Camelback Mountain. Erik and I planned out the logistics of the day for about a week: buying the champagne and candy ring, and getting Ellen to come along. Erik promised it would be completely safe, and I was definitely more worried about the rappel off than Ellen's answer. The day ended by being a life‑changing experience for all of us because Ellen said "yes," and I fell in love with climbing.

            Since that day I have been in some form or another a part of Erik's quest of the seven continental summits. He has given me the opportunity to climb all over the world and throughout the United States with him and many other great people. Last year, while Erik was waiting out a storm on Ama Dablam at 21,000 feet, I received a phone call from him asking me to join him and his team on Mt. Everest as base camp manager. After several weeks I finally got up the nerve and talked with my wife Jenny about this incredible opportunity. We realized it would be a huge sacrifice but one well worth it."

            That collective mindset was tested many times in small ways and in a few key instances. When the team crossed the dangerous Khumbu Icefall the first time enroute to camp 1, everyone arrived very tired. Erik was totally exhausted. The Icefall was the most difficult piece of the climb for him as a blind person. It took him thirteen hours and forty-two minutes of gut‑wrenching labor this first time--five hours and twenty-three minutes when he got the hang of it. When he finally arrived at camp 1, he was so used up he couldn't take off his own crampons. But an hour before, as he was emerging from the Icefall, tired teammates, who had arrived earlier at camp 1, slogged their way back down to greet him with a hot orange drink and hugs. This kind of encouragement was to repeat itself many times over the next five weeks on the high mountain and was instrumental in Erik's reaching the top.

            In Erik's own words (April 30 journal entry): "Just to show what an amazing team I'm part of, every time I near camp, some faster climbers on the team will work their way back to meet us along the trail. As I got through the Icefall the first time, still an hour and a half from camp 1, Charley and Brad met us with hot Tang. On the way down the Icefall, a half hour from base camp, somebody is always there to meet us. We hear them calling up to us as we descend. The most amazing moment was coming from base camp down to Dingboche two nights ago. It was a long, rocky, and bouldery nine‑hour day for me, in which I kicked many rocks with my toes. Around six o'clock we came down below Tugla, across a long, rutted meadow. The clouds had risen up the valley and had engulfed us in mist. I felt it on my fingers like rain. At the top of the hill above Dingboche I should have known to expect it. There they were, Mike and Irie waiting with Sprite and candy bars. They had already reached the tea house and, before eating their own dinner, had hiked back up the hill to meet us."

            And one more, from a climber with a humorous bent: "I am constantly impressed by Erik's strength, endurance, and inner resolve. He also demonstrates patience like no other climber on the team. As we guide him through obstacles and over narrow bridges, vocally telling him how best to navigate the terrain, we often make mistakes. "Hey Erik, this bridge is ten feet long and one foot wide-‑go left a bit, oops , no , I mean right, er no, left, left, left!" He scans with his poles and continues without getting mad, perhaps not knowing his life was put in jeopardy by an oversight of mine. It also makes me realize how independent Erik really is on this climb, relying on his senses and abilities more than anything else.

            As he jokingly tells me, "You just ring the bell, boy. Your job is not to be funny or conversational. Your job is to perform one function‑‑ring boy, ring!"

            So I asked Erik, "What if I have trouble high on the mountain and require your help?"

            To which he replied: "Are you ringing the bell? If not, then it ain't my problem."

            The team made perhaps its most crucial decision at camp 4, when thirty minutes before its scheduled departure on its final summit push, it decided to delay for 24 hours. The team had arrived at camp 4 over a wide range of time, some at 10:20 a.m. and others as late as 3:00 p.m. The earliest arrivals found the tents covered in ice; they needed to be dug out, a colossal effort at 26,000 feet. The later arrivals didn't have much time for rest before their planned 9:00 p.m. departure. And important tasks like boiling water and preparing some food did not get started on time. But the good-weather window was upon them. Storms had engulfed the high mountain for the whole season, and the first summit had been made only the day before. So how long was the good weather going to last?

            For climbers who had already invested two months of their lives on this climb, they certainly had an urgent desire not to pass up this window. While some of the team was strong enough to push off, the team as a whole was not ready. If they had launched as planned, very likely some of the team would not have been able to complete the twenty‑hour climb to the summit and back. So the team, including those who could have made it anyway, made a unanimous decision to delay their departure until the next evening. It could have cost them the weather window-‑and it almost did-‑but it was one of the key selfless decisions which resulted in nineteen climbers standing on the summit one day later.

            Maurice Peret, a blind man who trekked to base camp and worked there on communications, wrote a journal as follows: "After a night's sleep and upon long reflection, we concluded that the decision, which had been arrived at collectively, was courageous and prudent. It once again distinguished our expedition from many others on the mountain in its taking account of the condition of each of the thirteen members of this extraordinarily strong and cohesive team. The disappointment that we endured last night could not possibly compare to the anguish we might all have experienced had the team decided to move up the mountain laboring under such adverse factors. We remain confident and proud of our climbers, and we have internalized well the crucial lesson of patience. We vow never to forget or take for granted those uncontrollable factors--weather, wind, and the great mountain itself--which ultimately determine success on the highest peak on earth."

            The Expedition Leader, a tremendously strong climber who had summited Everest in 1998, became very sick at the Balcony (27,500 feet), not from altitude but from some kind of flu. Fortunately he had the experience to know that he had to come down, that he could go no further safely. Then, in a decision some will question, he started back to camp 4, alone because he did not want to strip a single Sherpa from the climbing party continuing to the top: another selfless decision. Finally, hours later, he dragged himself into camp 4, very ill, almost unable to stand, and continued to lead and encourage his team by radio as they moved to the summit. Unbelievable leadership!

            The team included more than the climbers. It also included base camp managers, cooks, and communications people--both on the mountain and back in the U.S. The base camp manager in fact played a crucial role in a team decision which led to the successful summit. The team passed the Balcony in a fierce snow storm, and it was cold. They had been climbing through these conditions for hours. The team huddled, knowing that, if they got caught in a storm high up, they were on their own. No rescue attempt would be possible. Tired after seven hours of climbing, worn down by the two months they had spent high on the mountain, they were seriously considering whether to continue upward. From base camp (and from camp 2), though, the sky looked as if it was beginning to clear above the climbers, where they could not see it. This news encouraged the climbers to push their way out of the storm and go for the summit, which they did in courageous fashion. Thanks, base camp manager!

            This climb will become one of the great Everest stories. The team will be regarded as perhaps the greatest ever on Everest. And this achievement should rank as one of the greatest sporting achievements of 2001.                                                                      

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Jim Marks]

                                                             Here We Go Again

                                                                  by Jim Marks

                                                                      

            From the Editor: Jim Marks serves as an officer of the Montana affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind. He is also the Director of Disability Services for Students at the University of Montana-Missoula. Every day he walks the line between rehabilitation-agency responsibility and university responsibility in meeting the access needs of disabled students. Recently the vocational rehabilitation agency in Minnesota suddenly announced that it had decided to shift yet another one of its responsibilities to colleges and universities. We asked Jim to comment on the policy change and its implications. This is what he said:

                                                                      

            "Here they go again," remarked one Federationist. "Vocational rehabilitation is dumping yet another responsibility."

            The comment refers to the recent decision by Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB) to require colleges and universities as well as other organizations to pay for the production of Braille and tape-cassette books. Hardest hit by the policy change will be those whom rehabilitation is intended to serve: the blind, especially blind college students.

            SSB provides alternate-format materials to its blind vocational rehabilitation clients who are college students through the Communication Center, a transcription service and library of alternate-format materials for citizens of Minnesota who can't read print. It isn't necessary to have a rehabilitation plan in place to use the Communication Center. People of all ages use it. Originally the Communication Center served only the blind, but the center expanded its services (with no specific mandate) about twenty-five years ago to include learning-disabled people and others with print handicaps.

            SSB publications and officials report that the many achievements of the Communication Center, which began as a nonprofit agency in 1954 and merged with SSB in 1979, include being the birthplace of the first radio reading service. Patrons of the Communication Center access information in the form of Braille and tape-cassette books, radio broadcasts of newspapers, telephone access to talking newspapers, and many other services.

            According to Chuck Hamilton, the administrator of the Communication Center, the policy change is all about money. In a telephone interview Hamilton said the Communication Center plans to charge colleges for alternate-format production because operational costs for the Center are on the rise, and appropriations from state government haven't been forthcoming. Besides that he said that SSB believes that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) places the financial burden for accommodation on colleges rather than state rehabilitation agencies.

            Bonnie Elsey, Assistant Commissioner for the SSB, said that the decision to ask colleges and other programs to pay for producing alternate-format materials stems from her agency's not having enough money for its priority for employment. She said funding was so scarce last year that SSB implemented an order of selection, a rehabilitation term for portioning out services when there isn't enough money to go around. Elsey said funding for the Communication Center comes from state and private funds as well as from vocational rehabilitation services-to-groups money. She said SSB needs to shift the services-to-groups funding back into employment services. She said that SSB hopes to work with colleges and others in the future to see what the Legislature might do to help.

            SSB published its rationalization for the policy change on its Web site. Paraphrased, it says that the ADA requires colleges and universities to make their programs accessible by the blind and others with disabilities. SSB never received funding to carry out this function for colleges, so higher education should pay for providing the alternate formats that make colleges accessible, and vocational rehabilitation should not.

            What nonsense! In shifting the financial burden from its back, SSB will hurt the very people it was intended to serve. While SSB fusses over the question of who pays, the vital question of what's in the best interests of blind Minnesotans goes unanswered.

            Contrary to what rehabilitation officials in Minnesota seem to believe, the ADA did not repeal part or all of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act. However, SSB, like so many vocational rehabilitation agencies in other states, is seeking to use the ADA as a convenient reason for ducking its responsibilities. A short history lesson reveals what's really at stake.

            In 1973 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was passed requiring colleges receiving federal funding to make their programs accessible by the blind and others with disabilities. Program access to higher education included auxiliary aids and services such as alternate-format educational materials and readers for blind students. When Section 504 was passed, everybody expected that vocational rehabilitation agencies would continue their traditional role of paying for the auxiliary aids and services or what might be termed blindness-specific services. In this way blind students could exercise the right to access higher education without enduring the backlash caused by a college's reluctance to pay for accommodations.

            From the day Section 504 was passed, some vocational rehabilitation agencies balked at paying for auxiliary aids and services, and lawsuits were filed to decide who pays--rehab or colleges. The most famous of these cases was Jones vs. Illinois (1982), which required rehab to pay. This decision has never been reversed.

            Then in 1990 along came the ADA, which renewed the pressure from some vocational rehabilitation agencies to pass along the cost of auxiliary aids and services to colleges. The ADA did not bring any clarification to the question, nor did it add any new obligations to nearly all colleges beyond those already covered by Section 504. But rehab seized on the same notion used in the early days of 504--that these civil rights laws require access and that colleges should pay. While the courts remained silent and the federal government assumed an ambivalent position by advising states to forge cost-sharing partnerships, each state worked out its own agreements. Some vocational rehabilitation agencies don't pay for auxiliary aids; some formed partnerships with colleges to cover the cost; and some continue to foot the bill themselves.

            A few years later Congress reauthorised the Rehabilitation Act, wrapping it into the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. When that legislation was being debated in Congress, the Senate version included language that made vocational rehabilitation agencies merely the payer of last resort for auxiliary aids and services. This would have meant that colleges had to pay. Had Congress adopted this language, the federal government would finally have addressed the issue. But the language wasn't adopted. The American Council on Education, a representative body for higher education, fought the language and got it removed.

            The argument of the American Council on Education was simple: society has a responsibility to provide equal access to higher education for everyone, including the blind and others with disabilities. Access has a cost. That cost is best distributed across the largest group possible so that individual programs, like a college, for example, need not bear the full brunt of expensive accommodations. In other words, vocational rehabilitation was established in large part to pay the disability-related costs involved in training a person for employment. To change this purpose is to alter the essence of the way vocational rehabilitation is funded and serves its clients.

            Higher education wields tremendous political clout. In the event that vocational rehabilitation successfully shifts the financial burden for auxiliary aids and services to colleges--it's my understanding that it's pretty much a done deal in Minnesota--higher education almost certainly will lobby for federal and state funds to cover the cost of accommodations. It doesn't take a genius to realize that money for accommodations is likely to come from funds currently allocated to vocational rehabilitation. If rehab won't meet its traditional obligations, some other organization will have to. And it is obvious what the next step could be. In these days of challenge to the value of specialized services for the blind and challenges to the value of vocational rehabilitation as distinct from other Workforce programs, one can reasonably ask: why on earth would a rehab agency voluntarily give up one of its specific responsibilities and shift it to another entity? Rehab should be carefully tending its own garden, not giving away real estate.

            If the logic used to justify dumping book production is followed to its conclusion, rehab can shift all its responsibilities to other entities and live on, an empty shell, blissfully receiving federal and state money for doing nothing whatever. Anyone can see the flaw in this logic. If rehab isn't needed to perform this or that or some other service, why don't we just get rid of rehab and give the cash to the entities that are performing the services?

            Apparently Minnesota's rehab officials can neither perceive the logical consequences of their arguments nor the essential and fundamental value of rehab to blind clients. Federationists have been justly critical of rehab in many places and for many reasons, we have never advocated getting rid of it, only fixing it. But Minnesota's logic leads to abolition, a fact they apparently haven't yet figured out. We issue the warning and hope that others will heed it even if Minnesota does not.

            Colleges are already required to spend a good deal of money to provide accommodations for disabled students. They must pay to acquire alternate-format materials and other accommodations when a blind student is not a vocational rehabilitation client. Moreover, colleges cannot legally require blind students to sign up for rehab services from the state agency in order to receive accommodations. So the only issue in question is who should pay when the blind student is already a client of vocational rehabilitation.

            Bobbi Cordano, Director of Disability Services at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, said she isn't sure how her university will respond to the change in policy by the Communication Center. She said her office already produces alternative-format materials for about half the students with print disabilities. It's a matter of trying to figure out how to assure access while finding the best way to manage costs, she said.

            The mission of SSB, according to its own description of itself, is "to foster the achievement of vocational and personal independence of persons who are blind or visually impaired." Try as I may, I cannot imagine how charging colleges for a service rightfully borne by SSB fits within this mission. In very real terms those whose professional responsibility is to understand what it means to be blind are expected to and very often do foster achievement in the people they serve. While it may be a leap in faith to say that SSB possesses and acts on this understanding, it is for dead certain that most colleges have no reason to and, in fact, do not.

            The National Federation of the Blind is committed to the development of quality rehabilitation services for the blind. After all, we enthusiastically embrace effective training and can-do attitudes about blindness and the establishment of high-quality rehabilitation programs. We know that, if done properly, rehab delivers on the promise of creating more opportunities for blind people. The NFB would like to form sound partnerships with SSB and rehabilitation agencies in other states. At the same time we remain highly skeptical that colleges can or will serve us well as suppliers of rehabilitation services. Blindness is a low-incidence disability, and many complain about the lack of expertise and the one-size-fits-all approach used by colleges in accommodating blind students. We believe, based on past experience, that this shift of responsibility from rehab to colleges will put more blind students in harm's way.

            Moreover, the harm involves more than money. Yes, the cost will certainly cause problems. The Communication Center plans to charge $5.40 per Braille page and $56.45 per tape cassette. Big colleges won't have much trouble paying for quality, but even they will sacrifice quality to keep costs down. In fact, the easiest way to keep costs down is to use the old tried and true system: hand each blind student the phone number of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. That is in fact providing access to auxiliary aids as many blind students in other states can attest. Good luck, Minnesotans. While RFB&D has a long and proud record, it simply can't do everything blind students need, as any of us who has attended college can also attest.

            The other completely unsatisfactory solution, which seems to be under discussion on Minnesota's college campuses as a result of this decision, is to hand a tape recorder and textbook to the first Work Study student to walk through the door and pay him or her to record the text. That way multiple versions of the same book will be produced around the state, all of them almost unusable because of having been recorded by people who do not know the vocabulary of the discipline.

            But the greatest danger lies in the overall issue of shifting responsibility from rehab to colleges. Today most colleges have an in-house service for students with disabilities. These services are rarely geared for the blind because blindness is a low-incidence disability. The vast majority of college disability service officers don't have the expertise and experience necessary to serve blind students well. They resort to doing for the blind only and exactly what they do for the learning-disabled. Disaster for the blind student is usually the consequence.

            Take my university for instance. Out of a student body of about 12,000 students, 611 use disability services. Of these, six are blind. Over 300 have learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorders. It's easy to fall into the trap of concentrating resources on the greatest numbers. The blind students at the margins can and do receive treatment designed for disabilities that have nothing to do with blindness.

            Minnesota's current turmoil is a case in point. About twenty-five years ago the communication center began to serve citizens with learning disabilities. The legislature appropriated state money for this purpose as it already had and continued to do for providing materials in alternate format for the blind. Now the communication center says it can no longer afford to provide the service it is funded to provide. But vital information is hard to come by. For example, how much is appropriated for the blind and how much for the learning-disabled? How much is spent on each category? Is the proportion the same as at my school--blind people are one per cent of the citizens served? How do we know that money appropriated for the blind is being spent for the blind?

            And, while we're on that subject, the communication center uses no federal client case-service money. This seems incredible to anyone familiar with the federal-state rehabilitation partnership program, which provides almost four out of every five dollars spent on clients. The communication center uses some federal money from the services-to-groups category, which is not client-specific money and exists to support general services, leading to the interesting question whether any federal services-to-groups money is spent in serving or supporting services to  the learning-disabled, probably an inquiry for another article or for federal auditors, yet nonetheless interesting. But, as I say, no case money--no individualized plans for employment with provision of books specified as a duty of the agency triggering those four-out-of-five-federal dollars for the expenditure. If the communication center can no longer afford to pay for its services through its current system of state and federal cash, why not split apart the blind and the learning-disabled so that everyone knows how much state money is being spent for each and the record of expenditure is clear? Why not restrict the services of the blindness portion to those who are rehabilitation clients of the agency? Why not write provision-of-books into the plans for employment for students who are clients? That way four of every five dollars spent could be federal dollars drawn down by a single state dollar.

            One reason why these changes are not being made seems to be SSB's inability to understand that books in alternative formats are part of training for employment for the kind of good jobs that pay more than the minimum wage and demand skills beyond the unskilled-worker level. Elsey said that the services-to-groups federal money which has supported the communication center thus far would serve the blind better if withdrawn and applied to employment. Apparently in her mind employment means anything without books like dishwashing and assembly line work. Whether it's done through services-to-groups or through case-service money, Elsey thinks use of federal money to produce books for blind people in training for employment is the wrong use of the money. It's too bad that Minnesota's services to blind people seem to be going back two centuries to the point where only entry-level jobs, low-paying jobs, or nonprofessional jobs are appropriate for the blind. But that's the effect of saying that no federal dollars can be used to produce books because the funds are needed for employment services.

            The explanation of this mess apparently lies in the state agency in Minnesota, whose top officials have abandoned any pretense of commitment to categorical services for the blind in favor of the new fad in employment programs: work force development. With this new mantra on their lips, Minnesota's rehab officials have contrived to commit a colossal failure of management, refusing to see the simple solution to their problem and choosing instead a complicated one which will result in poorer service and less federal money. In these days of constant attacks on rehab, the rehabilitation agency in each state would do well to tend its garden quietly and carefully. Instead, Minnesota's officials have chosen to give away agency services to other entities, cutting off part of the reason for the agency's existence and creating poorer service that officials will probably somehow attribute to those bad old categorical services--in reality the only model that could offer rescue from the monetary hot water in which Minnesota finds itself today.

            While it's reasonable to expect rehabilitation services for the blind to possess the kind of specialized expertise it takes to serve blind people, it's unreasonable to expect colleges to fill the void created by the state rehabilitation agency's refusal to do its duty. Colleges depend on vocational rehabilitation agencies to provide the kinds of supports and resources it takes to foster the achievement of independence by blind students. And blind people look to the NFB to set that standard of achievement.

            One final sidebar merits attention. About a year ago Minnesota's general vocational rehabilitation program, a sister agency to SSB, stopped paying for sign language interpreters and real-time captionists for the deaf in higher education. Interpreters and captionists are the most expensive auxiliary aids and services of all. For example, Cordano's disability budget at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis includes over $1 million for deaf communication services--half of her entire budget. When rehab and higher education duke it out over who pays for auxiliary aids and services, they usually do it over interpreters and captionists. In fact, the lawsuits mentioned earlier were over access for the deaf, not the blind.

            Minnesota's general rehabilitation program successfully shifted the financial burden for interpreters and captionists to higher education because, to a large extent, that's what the deaf said they wanted. The National Association of the Deaf maintains that vocational rehabilitation provides an outdated medical-modeled approach for the deaf. They have argued that colleges should bear the cost of accommodation since access to higher education is a civil right rather than a medical issue.

            All this means that the powers that be in the general rehabilitation agency have heard the deaf, but their colleagues in SSB are not listening to the blind. It's tragic to lump everyone into the category of the disabled without regard to the particular requirements of distinct groups like the blind.

            Lest anyone still be confused on the subject, let me say it one more time: Vocational rehabilitation is funded and charged with the responsibility of providing blindness-specific services for people seeking training toward employment. Colleges and universities exist to educate. When either takes on the duties of the other, poor service results. We blind people do not find rehab obsolete; we often find it backward, recalcitrant, and poorly managed. But we endorse categorical services specifically because they work for the blind. We oppose poor management wherever we find it, and we oppose rehab's giving away core duties because its managers find it inconvenient to think of better ways to do the task.

            Of course the NFB won't tolerate being kept from the table when decisions affecting us and our fellow blind people are being made. We are the blind speaking for the blind. We oppose the erosion of services for the blind in Minnesota and elsewhere. Whether rehabilitators and college officials are listening or not, we will be heard. To my brothers and sisters in the NFB of Minnesota, I can only say, "Go get 'em!"

                                                                      

            [Sidebar] One of the dangers to services for the blind is always that state vocational rehabilitation agencies or universities can decide to modify or restrict those services without warning. Here are two examples of problems that have arisen during the past year or so. The University of Missouri at Columbia began circulating a statement announcing that readers provided by the university were no longer permitted to read any material more than once even if the student was asking for repetition in order to write down notes for later, independent study. Only one reader per course could be used because otherwise more than one person might read the same passage, which would constitute studying, not making the material accessible. In addition school readers were permitted to read only on campus. The state agency was in fact helpful in quashing this plan by pointing out that it was paying the bills and would therefore set the rules even if the readers in question were university students.

            Recently, on the other hand, an Ohio rehab counselor refused to allocate funds for reader service to an incoming college student at all. Her reasoning was that all students today have scanners and therefore no longer need human readers. In fairness it must be said that, when the NFB advocate working on the case insisted that other counselors were still paying for readers, she agreed to allow the practice for this student. These incidents are disturbing because those of us who do research, studying, or rapid assimilation of masses of material know that directing a live reader is often the best way to accomplish quick and efficient work. University and agency personnel who presume that technology can replace readers or that readers should be programmed like machines have missed the whole point that the purpose of accommodations is to enable blind people to assimilate print information effectively and efficiently.

                                                                      

                                                                       [PHOTO/CAPTION: Isa Hullender]

                                                        Another Fight for Braille

                                                           by Barbara Cheadle

                                                                      

            From the Editor: Untidiness is one of the hallmarks of real-life struggles. Even reduced to words on paper, where they inevitably lose some of the blurriness of their outlines, true human dramas resist being tucked into the comfortable beginning-middle-end story structure. The following is a memorandum that Barbara Cheadle, President of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, wrote to President Maurer reporting on a case that the NFB has become involved with during the last couple of years. It would be pleasant to report that all is now well with Isa Hullender and that she will from now on receive the Braille services she deserves. In fact that may well happen. Her Individual Education Plan (IEP) now includes a significant amount of Braille instruction, but, as every parent of a blind child knows, a good bit of slippage can occur between the IEP and the child's classroom experience. Here is the story of a determined mother and the NFB advocates who are helping her fight for what her daughter needs.

                                                                      

Date:   February 14, 2001

To:                   Dr. Maurer, President

                        National Federation of the Blind

From:  Mrs. Cheadle, President

                        National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

Re:                  NFB helps a child in Georgia get Braille

                                                                      

            As of Friday, January 12, 2001, with the help of the National Federation of the Blind, eleven-year-old Isa Hullender of Trion, Georgia, will finally receive Braille instruction at a level that should allow her to become a competent Braille reader.

            The school district had been on the verge of pulling the plug entirely on the infinitesimal Braille instruction Isa had been receiving. That all changed, however, when NFB advocates--Pat Jones (President of the Tennessee Valley Parents of Blind Children) and her two blind teen-age granddaughters, April and Amanda--presented the IEP team with the NFB independent learning media evaluation. Despite Isa's low vision and capacity to read some print, the result of the independent evaluation (conducted by Janet Bernhardt of Louisiana on contract with the NFB) was unequivocal: "Isa needs Braille instruction...in the exact same proportion that her sighted peers have print reading and writing language instruction." (Although unable to be present at the IEP meeting, the assessor, Janet Bernhardt, participated in the meeting by conference telephone call so that she could answer questions about her assessment.)

            The case was made so strongly that the amount of instruction time was increased on the IEP from two hours a week for all services from the teacher of the visually impaired (seldom did Isa get even an hour of that time for a Braille lesson) to daily Braille instruction of almost an hour a day. (She now gets one hour a day four days and forty-five minutes one day a week.)

            Isa Hullender's situation is a classic example of the way school districts can and do subvert the intent of the Braille provision in the 1997 IDEA amendments. IEP teams do not actually refuse to put Braille instruction in the IEP if the parent insists; instead they provide for so little instruction time that the child is doomed to fail. Sometimes the amount of time for direct Braille instruction is never specified. The hours for all the so-called vision services provided by the teacher of the visually impaired are all lumped together, essentially allowing the TVI [teacher of the visually impaired] arbitrarily to choose just how much time he or she will devote to Braille instruction.

            Even when the instruction time on the IEP is adequate, the child may never make any progress because the school doesn't hire a competent Braille instructor. School districts can dodge their responsibilities under the law in many ways. And that's exactly what three different school districts did to Isa Hullender for the first five years of her education. Here, briefly, is the sad history of Isa's struggle, as related by her mother, Tammy Pettyjohn, to learn to read and write Braille:

            First Grade: Gordon County, Georgia: Braille is on the IEP, but Isa doesn't get any instruction because the county doesn't have a Braille teacher.

            First Grade: Isa is held back a year at mom's request. A teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) is hired. The TVI gives Isa a brief trial with Braille (Tammy reports that it was three days), and decides not to pursue it.

            Second Grade: Braille is taken off the IEP. Mom (Tammy) finally gets the team to put it back on the IEP about half way through the year (December). The IEP provides for fifty minutes--less than an hour--of Braille instruction per week. By the end of the school year Isa has been introduced to the Braille alphabet. She has not been introduced to the Braillewriter.

            Third Grade: Parents move to Walker County, Georgia. The TVI in this county doesn't know Braille but is willing to learn. Mom gets the Braille instruction increased to three hours a week on the IEP, but instruction continues to be sporadic and rare.

            Fourth Grade: Parents move to Chattooga County, Georgia, in search of a better program. The TVI knows Braille, but, because Isa has some vision, the teacher is opposed to teaching her Braille. The IEP hours for all TVI services are cut from three hours a week to two. The TVI constantly complains about teaching Braille, often finds other things to do with Isa during the time she is supposed to be giving Braille instruction, and tells Isa that she (the teacher) doesn't think Isa needs Braille. Finally, the TVI tells Isa's mother, Tammy Pettyjohn, that she is going to recommend that Braille instruction be taken off the IEP.

            Because Isa is not getting even the limited service required on her current IEP, and because she is fearful of losing even more, Tammy files a complaint with the state department of education and asks for another IEP meeting.  The team meets and at the parent's request decides to request a battery of assessments, including a Learning Media Assessment for Isa from the Georgia Academy for the Blind. As the time grows closer for the assessment, however, Tammy begins to have doubts about the quality of the assessment she will get.

            At this point--October, 2000--Tammy Pettyjohn, who has been on the Future Reflections mailing list since August, 1998, contacts the National Office of the National Federation of the Blind. She wants more information to boost her belief that Isa needs Braille, and she wants someone to go with her on the Georgia Academy for the Blind assessment date and to subsequent IEP meetings.

            However, the date for Isa's assessment is so close that it is not possible to get an NFB advocate to go with Tammy and Isa to the school. But McArthur Jarrett, President of the NFB of Georgia, makes plans to go as her advocate at the IEP meeting at which the assessments will be reviewed, and I immediately send her materials about the law and case histories regarding Braille literacy for low-vision children. Tammy sends us copies of Isa's records, and McArthur and I consult with Tammy and each other to plan the next steps. Hours are spent on the phone as we get to know Tammy (and she, us) and provide her with the information, encouragement, and advice she needs.

            The Learning Media Assessment report from the Georgia Academy for the Blind turns out to be as dismal and inadequate as Tammy had feared. No attempt is made to determine Isa's current level of Braille decoding skills or Braille reading or writing skills. She is not evaluated to determine how long she can read print before fatigue sets in. Nor is there any attempt to determine if her visual print-reading capacity will be adequate to meet the demands of reading requirements in the years to come. Here's what the assessment states about Braille for Isa: "Potential for Reading and Writing in Braille: Isa demonstrated no reliance on tactile information during the period of this evaluation. During the evaluation, when a page was presented that had both print and Braille, Isa visually noted the Braille and commented. She visually read the information on the page and made no attempt tactually to read the Braille. It is the opinion of this evaluator that Braille instruction is not indicated at this time."

                                                                      

            The print evaluation report is no less astonishing. It states that "Isa easily read materials which were presented in clear, bold 24-point print with double spaced lines." and "When asked to read back words she had written, Isa did so more from memory than actually seeing the words and noted as she read that she may have misspelled some of the words."

                       

            In November the assessment is reviewed at an IEP meeting. McArthur Jarrett attends as the NFB advocate. Also with Tammy is a parent advocate who has helped Tammy in the past on some OT and PT [occupational and physical therapy] issues for Isa and an attorney from a disability legal service. The Chattooga school district also has an attorney present. McArthur Jarrett articulates a strong case for Tammy's position about Braille literacy, but he is undermined by Tammy's own attorney who does not understand the blindness issues. (Neither does he seem to understand whom he is there to represent--a point he and McArthur have a heated discussion about after the IEP meeting.) According to Tammy and McArthur, the meeting finally deteriorates into a closed discussion between the two attorneys. Nothing is ready to be finalized by the end of the meeting.

            We regroup. Tammy fires the lawyer, McArthur talks to the parent advocate to be sure we have an understanding about how we will cooperate as advocates in the future concerning the blindness and non-blindness issues, and I give Dr. Maurer an update and get approval for the NFB to contract for an independent learning media assessment. The law is on our side, but the key to getting the law's Braille provision implemented is in the evaluation. The school district has an evaluation; Tammy does not.

            So Tammy tells the school district not to schedule another IEP meeting until she has her independent evaluation in hand, and I proceed to locate an expert who can out-credential their expert from the Georgia Academy for the Blind. From my own experience years ago in going to due process to get Braille for my son, Chaz, I learned that it is not a good idea to get an assessment from a teacher in the same state. There are so few TVIs that everyone knows everyone else. The TVIs depend a lot upon their colleagues' good will for peer support, resources, and information. And no matter how inadequate the state school for the blind may be, the TVIs also depend upon it as a resource for their students and for themselves. It did not seem wise, then, to ask a teacher in Georgia to do the assessment.

            However, Louisiana is not too far from Georgia. Sure enough, Federationist Pam Dubel, Assistant Director of the NFB's Louisiana Center for the Blind, was able to point us to an expert that would meet Isa's needs--Janet Bernhardt. Bernhardt, an award-winning educator, has over twenty years of experience as a TVI and is currently the Outreach Coordinator for the Louisiana School for the Blind. She is a low vision specialist who is proficient in Braille and passionately supports Braille literacy.

            The NFB flew Janet Bernhardt to Georgia, and on December 2, 2000, Mrs. Bernhardt conducted a Low Vision and Learning Media Assessment for Isa. The ten-page assessment report is thorough and the conclusion concise and meticulously documented: "Isa needs Braille instruction." It was decisive enough that, with the advocacy of NFB members Pat, April, and Amanda Jones, it wins the battle for Braille at Isa's January 12, 2001, IEP meeting.

            Of course there is not yet a "happily ever after" ending. Braille is firmly established in the IEP with sufficient instructional hours to begin to make a difference. But Isa still has the same Braille teacher who didn't want to teach her Braille in the first place. Much remains to be done to change attitudes and expectations of everyone--TVI, classroom teacher, instructional assistant, etc.--who works with Isa. But there is now reason to hope and to be optimistic. Tammy reports that, since the IEP meeting and for the first time since she began school in this district, Isa is happy and looks forward to going to school.

                                                                      

                                                                      

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Peggy Elliott with her cat Sheriff. Photograph by Steve Pope]

                                 Blind Attorney Activist Shuns Special Treatment

                                                                  by Mike Kilen

                                                                      

            From the Editor: Mike Kilen is a staff writer at the Des Moines Register, but the following article  he wrote for the Cornell Report, the Cornell College alumni magazine. Alumni magazines like to write profiles of interesting or distinguished alumni, so it was not particularly surprising that Peggy Elliott, Second Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind, received a call from her Alma Mater, asking for an interview. Peggy was a bit leery of the idea, knowing all too well that such features all too often turn out maudlin or pretentiously inspirational. She insisted on seeing the finished product for approval before she would agree to schedule the interview or give the reporter the names of other people he could call. The resulting piece was as focused, lively, and decisive as Peggy herself. Here it is, reprinted with permission from the Cornell Report:

                                                                      

            Peggy Pinder Elliott '76 has always bristled at people fawning over her because she is blind. If one more person says that she is "amazing," it may just send this Iowa lawyer into a courtroom‑like rant. So entering the kitchen of the former Cornellian editor with a notebook can be intimidating.

            "You aren't going to make this sappy, are you?" she asks. It comes off more as a demand than a question. Elliott is not about the sweet stuff. Exactly thirty seconds will be spent on the condition that has led to this unwanted attention. By fourth grade she couldn't even see the chalkboard; her progressive eye disease worsened until she was blind by ninth grade. Period. There is nothing in the record to relate any kind of psychoanalysis of what she can't see, how she "overcame" anything but a minor nuisance. "Blindness," she says, "is no different from having brown hair."

            Here's the rub, one that has defined Elliott's life. Her guiding philosophy is that people who are blind shouldn't receive special treatment. But she acknowledges that they may need special provisions to live in a sighted world.

            "That's the tension spot, right there," she says, her index finger tapping the kitchen table. "Right there."

            So it has been since the beginning, back when she left the state school for the blind in Vinton after two-and-a-half years and graduated from Grinnell High School. She enrolled at Cornell in 1972 and quickly recognized she must prove herself. She was told she couldn't be the editor of the paper alone. She would need a sighted coeditor. "He quit after about two weeks, and I ended up doing it alone," she said.

            She was told she couldn't take a logic course because she needed to see the chalkboard. "I ended up tutoring most of the class," she says. "I was listening, rather than watching."

            She was told she didn't need to take a physical education course, and although she disliked P.E., she took it anyway to prove she didn't need special treatment.

            Elliott applied to law schools during her senior year. The University of Iowa admissions officials, she says, told her there were looming questions about her ability to withstand the rigors of law school. Meanwhile Yale accepted her. She thought some of them pompous there, too. When a professor asked the class if they were ready to conduct themselves as one of the elite, she shot back: "I would think that the elite are the people who earn it."

            Elliott began to attract attention, a short Iowa girl with long hair down her back. People started to call her amazing. She wanted to fight discrimination against blind people, who were "overprotected and underemployed," she told one reporter. "When I first met her she was hoarse from yelling at a demonstration," says Barbara Pierce, editor of the Braille Monitor and her longtime associate in the National Federation of the Blind. "There is nothing vanilla about Peggy. She is sherbet or chocolate fudge."

            Elliott climbed the podium at the Republican National Convention in 1976 and on tiptoes provided a nominating speech for Robert Dole. "She had the poise to be able to second the nomination and figure out how to work in the National Federation of the Blind, all in a couple minutes," Pierce says. "She pulled it off beautifully."

            NBC's Tom Brokaw approached her afterward for an interview. "Later," she told him, eyeing the podium where former Iowa governor Robert Ray was speaking. "I'm listening to my governor." When a reporter asked her how she managed to pull off such confidence, being "visually handicapped," she curtly cut off all the correctness by saying, "blind."

            "Every blind person has to move out of the safety net," she says. "Accept the choice of freedom to have the choice of success."

            Even with her pitch for no special recognition, she continued to see discrimination. After graduating from Yale, she got no offers from big law firms, unheard of for her strong classroom standing at Yale.

            Elliott says she wanted to return to Iowa anyway. After a stint as assistant county attorney in Sioux City, she came back to her hometown of Grinnell. One thing she had learned from her parents, Al and Dorothy Pinder, was to give back to the community.

            The giving occurred on two fronts. She toils tirelessly for the National Federation of the Blind, today as a vice president and a president of the state affiliate. In Grinnell she has served on the city council since 1988. She can talk sewers with the locals and disability legislation with U.S. senators with equal skill.

            It was her strong voice of disapproval which ensured important language was added to the Americans with Disabilities Act that a disabled person had the right to refuse special treatment. Yet among her highest goals is to make the world accessible to people who are blind when technology and other barriers make it difficult to navigate. Automated teller machines are one example. She encourages banks to supply machines with a unit that can be plugged in to help people who are blind navigate the transaction without fear of a mistake.

            During all her activism she still suffered the indignities of an ignorant sighted world. She was arrested and carried off an airplane in 1988 when she refused to give up her seat. Airline officials said it was their policy to seat disabled persons in another part of the plane. She voiced her displeasure, of course. She is an attorney, after all. In her private practice she works for nonprofit agencies that have difficulty funding representation. In her role as scholarship chairperson with the National Federation of the Blind, she pushes young people to represent themselves as equals.

            Today, living on a quiet street in a large house in Grinnell, she can see it from another angle after years of fighting the system. One of her cats, Sheriff, is blind. Elliott and husband Doug Elliott, who is also blind, carried the little kitten around at first, even to the litter box. One day they each thought the other had the cat downstairs. Sheriff had to do her business in the litter box, however, and had found her way up the stairs to it-‑without their help.

            "We were even doing it to our own cat," Elliott says, laughing.

            The resourceful cat also supplied another reminder of Elliott's lifelong philosophy. "If you believe you can do something," she says, "you figure out a way."

                                                                      

                                                                      

 

                                                             Pooled Income Gifts

                                                                      

            In this plan money donated to the National Federation of the Blind by a number of individuals is invested by the NFB. Each donor and the NFB sign an agreement that income from the funds will be paid to the donor quarterly or annually. Each donor receives a tax deduction for the gift; the NFB receives a useful donation; and the donor receives income of a specified amount for the rest of his or her life. For more information about the NFB pooled income fund, contact the National Federation of the Blind, Special Gifts, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998, phone (410) 659-9314, fax (410) 685-5653.

 

                                                                      

                                                                       Convention Magic

                                                                by Anonymous

            From the Editor: Annual conventions of the National Federation of the Blind bring with them all kinds of magic. Here is one that will resonate with many. The article first appeared in Volume 20, number 1, Convention Report 2000, 2001, of Future Reflections, the quarterly magazine of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. It begins with the editor's note:

                                                                      

            Do you remember your first adolescent love? Do you remember the breathless, giddy joy; the stomach-clenching angst; and the terror that your parents would make a big deal about it, or even tell other people that you had a boy/girl-friend? If you do, then I don't have to explain why the author of this article asked to remain anonymous or why she asked that the names be changed to protect the guilty--oops,--innocent parties! But before I give too much away, here is "Anonymous" to tell us her story about "Convention Magic":

                                                                      

            I remember the first time I witnessed Convention Magic. It was at National Convention. The day's sessions were over. Several parents from my state were relaxing in a restaurant in the Dallas Airport Hyatt. The son of one of the parents came breezing up to our table, brand new NFB long white cane in hand.

            "Mom, I'm going to go have dinner with Al. I'll be back in about two hours."

            "But, Winston, I don't know where I'll be in two hours. And where will you be? Where would we meet?"

            "Don't worry about it, Mom. I've got a key. I'll see you back in the room later."

            Now this exchange would not have been out of the ordinary in any way, except that before this day Winston had never ventured off anywhere on his own. In fact, though he was totally blind, he had hardly even used a cane before. Now he'd already been gone half the day, and suddenly he was on his way out to dinner with a new-found friend.

            "See ya' later, Mom." Convention Magic.

            The heady feeling of independence that Winston's mom was experiencing--"Wow, I'm free! I don't have to take care of my kid!"--was palpable. My daughter was several years younger than Winston. Would there ever come a day when I would be able to sit casually in a restaurant while my child just went out?

            As the years--and the conventions--went on, I saw Convention Magic manifest itself many times. In the relatively small and safe environment of our NFB State Convention hotels, I watched kids who had simply never gone anywhere on their own get the urge to go and explore. Elevators, escalators, soda and ice machines--all were great motivators. I watched as one boy decided to go up to his room on his own. He made it. A girl located a friend at the foot of the escalator. The whole gang of our almost-teen-agers found their way to somebody's room for snacks, a movie, and a pillow fight.

            But this past year, at NFB National Convention, Convention Magic cast its gentle spell over my kid. We hadn't seen her since lunchtime. She was hanging out in the Teen Room while my husband John and I attended the Resolutions Committee meeting. John started toward the back of the room for a drink of water but quickly came racing back.

            "Donna, you've got to come back here quick. You won't believe this!"

            "What is it?" I asked as we hurried toward the back of the room. Then I saw it. Framed in the doorway of the ballroom was our daughter standing head to head with a young man about her age--sixteen. They seemed engrossed in conversation, and every so often the boy moved his arm up to Belinda's shoulder and rested it there a moment.

            I was shocked. Belinda had never even flirted with a boy before, never mind let one touch her! Fighting back the wild urge to tell him to keep his no-good, dirty hands off my daughter, I walked over and casually said, "Hi, Belinda. What's up?"

            "Oh, hi Mom. We came in here to see if we could find you and Dad. We're going over to the Mock Trial, and I wanted to let you guys know where I'd be."

            "Ah. And who's your friend?"

            "Mom, this is Michael." Dad said hello, too.

            "So, where's the Mock Trial being held?" I asked. "You guys know where you're going?"

            "Yeah, we know the room."

            "Okay," we agreed hesitantly. "We'll come and find you in the Mock Trial room when it's over."

            "Okay, see ya."

            And with that, my daughter was off. My daughter and a boy. Whew.

            I have to admit my husband and I couldn't resist following the pair, first to make sure they got to the room all right and then to see what the heck they were doing. We peeked in, oh, only five or six times.

            They were fine. They were sitting there listening, talking, laughing. Looked pretty normal. Looked pretty good. Every once in a while their heads leaned in toward one another's.

            We were back at the dot of seven to pick Belinda up. The following conversation ensued.

            "So, you like this guy?"

            "Oh, yeah, we really have a lot in common. And he's really nice."

            "That's great, honey."

            "He said I have really small hands."

            (And how would this casanova have found out that my daughter has small hands?)

            "Well, gee, how come he said that?" I asked.

            "We were holding hands, and he said my hands were small."

            "Ah ha. Holding hands, that's, um, nice."

            "And he really likes my hair."

            (Her hair? Her hair? This reprobate dared to touch my daughter's hair?)

            "Well, you do have pretty hair," I responded weakly.

            "Yeah, he said it was really soft. Then, Mom?"

            "Yes?"

            "We discussed how far we would go."

            (Ah! #!$&%#$ sex education classes!)

            "I see," I managed to reply. "And what did you decide?"

            "We thought a kiss on the cheek. That would be okay in public, right?"

            "Whew. Yup, that's just fine," I said with relief.

            The next day Belinda got to discover another typical teen-age experience—teen angst. She had been hanging out in the Teen Room with a girlfriend the day that she met him. When Belinda and Michael decided to go to the Mock Trial, Belinda invited Laura along. Laura, convinced that she definitely had third-wheel status, rather dramatically refused. Belinda left with Michael.

            Later, back in the room, we found an emotional message from Laura on our tape, expressing her distress that Belinda had ditched her for a guy. Overcome with guilt, Belinda called Laura back to beg her forgiveness. Alas, no one was in the room, and Belinda had to leave a message. All night long, through dinner, through our evening activities, through getting ready for bed, John and I listened to Belinda's anguished laments. "Will she forgive me? I really didn't mean to leave her out. I asked her to come. It's not my fault she wouldn't come. She could have come with us. I'm so sorry. Will she forgive me?"

            I am happy to report that Belinda's apology was accepted, and the two friends went out for ice cream the next day.

            That evening one more sweet thing happened. Belinda and I were sitting in a computer meeting when I happened to notice Michael come in and sit down in the back of the room. "Belinda," I whispered, "Michael is here. Why don't you go back and say hello."

            I pointed Belinda in Michael's general direction and heard her calling his name in order to locate him. You should have seen how his face lit up when he heard her voice and realized it was Belinda. Wow, a boy lighting up over my girl's presence. That was a pretty sight.

            Could these events have happened elsewhere? I guess they could have. But they didn't. They happened at the NFB Convention, the place where our kids can venture out, taste some independence, try out a few skills, and have new experiences--all with thousands of blind people around to provide help and inspiration. Convention Magic. It's a beautiful thing!

                                                                      

                                                                      

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Brad Hodges uses a Braille Lite in the IBTC].

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Ann Taylor stands in front of a Braille embosser.]

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Steve Booth uses a computer.]

                                                             Answers Anyone?

                                                               by Brad Hodges

                                                                      

            From the Editor: Brad Hodges is a technology specialist working in the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind at the headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind. In the following article he announces a new service that will help people interested in technology intended to assist blind people. This is what he says:

                                                                      

            An old Chinese curse says, "May you live in interesting times." A variant for many blind people might be, "May you live in technologically interesting times."

            No doubt technology presents many opportunities which only a few years ago we would never have dared to imagine. Think back: who would have predicted that, with the push of a button or two, you could search millions of pages of information and have a list of results delivered to you in less than a second? Who would have imagined that sighted people with no knowledge of Braille could transcribe and produce hundreds of pages of letter-perfect Braille text with only the basic knowledge required to do the same job in print?

            Yes, we are living in technologically interesting times, and yes, for many blind people technology is a curse. In 1990 the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the National Federation of the Blind included the dedication of the National Braille and Technology Center for the Blind, later to become the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind. This event demonstrated the importance of technology in the lives of individual blind Americans. At the same time the establishment of this one-of-a-kind center recognized the unique ability of the organized blind to evaluate current and proposed technologies for ourselves.

            As the IBTC moves confidently into the second decade of its mission, the pace of technological development and change is growing exponentially. In 1990 only a handful of computer systems were accessible to blind people. These systems were, for the most part, highly specialized hardware devices. The price in real dollars was staggeringly high. Nevertheless the utility of computers became immediately apparent, and the research and development that companies began doing have resulted in the current generation of Windows-access and other such programs. While this technical progress evolved rapidly from the early nineties until now, other less encouraging patterns also began to emerge--patterns which threatened to make the vast technical progress taking place a moot point.

            One of the most stubborn difficulties that emerged at the very beginning of high technology was access to information. This problem is one of the most paradoxical dilemmas many blind people face. After all, isn't the purpose of technology to provide information? How is it possible to experience a lack of information in an era in which many people complain of information overload?

            On closer inspection the problem is one the NFB has been addressing for thousands of blind people for over sixty years. The problem is getting the right information--information which is accurate and reflects the real-world experience of blind people. In this manifestation of the problem the issue is technology.

            From its beginning the IBTC has purchased and installed at least one of every hardware device and software application intended to provide computer access for the blind. Currently the 5500-square-foot lab operated by the IBTC contains technology valued in excess of $2,000,000.

            There is no indication that the pace of development and the introduction of new products will slow anytime soon. To the contrary, in the past several months entirely new categories of technology have arrived in the IBTC. These include Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) and automatic teller machines equipped with voice guidance. We have eight APS devices available for examination by anyone who visits the IBTC. Staff from the Center have also taken these devices out into the community to describe their technical characteristics. More important than the physical availability of a comprehensive collection of APS systems is the analysis and perspective which the NFB can bring to the discussion of this critically important topic. Again, the issues are not simple technical considerations; they involve philosophy, understanding, and belief in ourselves.

            The ATM which stands in the IBTC is an example of the effective partnership between the NFB and Diebold, a major manufacturer of ATM equipment. While Diebold is knowledgeable about technical matters in an Automatic Teller Machine, the NFB provided the conceptual approach for the voice-guided technology.

            As a result of the problems in the 2000 elections, many improvements in voting machines that include the increased use of electronic systems are being proposed. The IBTC is aggressively pursuing the pertinent questions that must be asked and answered in order to ensure that these systems will not exclude blind citizens from using them. As you would expect, we are procuring samples of all systems of which we are aware. And as you would also expect, we will provide the analysis and apply time-tested Federation philosophy in order to make sound recommendations to election officials.

            Dozens of computers, millions of dollars of technology, prototypes, and research systems do not operate by themselves--at least they are not supposed to. People who operate them, people who host the hundreds of visitors to the IBTC, people who wade through the deepening river of information to discover value in the world of technology and answer questions from blind and sighted people across the nation: these are the members of the IBTC staff.

            Between the 2000 convention and our gathering in Philadelphia the IBTC staff has grown considerably. A single individual can no longer run the IBTC alone, so we have expanded our staff to include three technical specialists. Each brings a unique set of technical and personal qualifications to the Center. While each of the IBTC staff has individual specialties, they hold the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind in common. This philosophy guides their work and informs their perspective on the complex questions and issues which we call upon them to address.

            While today's exciting technical developments are of interest to many who read the Braille Monitor, most of us approach technology in a more personal way. We usually own just one computer. Once we purchase it, we may take note of new developments, but we are much more concerned with the day-to-day use of our own technology.

            For those contemplating the use of a computer for the first time, much more personal issues take center stage. These have nothing to do with which of the new operating systems getting press attention may be most attractive or what the future of advanced technology may be. Figuring out how to obtain training on a new computer is the most important consideration--in short, information--the kind of information which individual blind people require in order to bring meaning to technology, master its use, and harness its power.

            The IBTC is a natural starting point for many of those purchasing computers and access technology. The Center also receives highly specialized calls from time to time when a blind person's job hangs in the balance. The IBTC staff takes its responsibility to answer questions seriously.

            In response to the growing need for answers to questions about technology specifically designed for use by blind people, the IBTC is proud to announce the establishment of the Technology Answer Line, now available to the public. Here is the way it works. You may reach a technical specialist Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. To use the Answer Line, simply call the National Center for the Blind at (410) 659-9314. Listen for the technology choice on the automated greeting menu, or ask the operator to connect you to the Technology Answer Line.

            Your call will be answered by a member of the IBTC staff. If the question can be answered immediately, he or she will do so. In the event your question is more specialized or the technical specialist believes that a more specific answer is required, you will be advised, and a return call will be arranged. The Answer Line will be equipped with voicemail. When the line is busy with other callers or the staff is away from the Answer Line desk, you will be invited to record your question and contact information. Your call will be returned as soon as the staff member is available.

            In order to make the best use of the Answer Line, we suggest that you have writing material or another method of taking notes available when you call. If you have questions regarding difficulties with your technology, having names of hardware and software is important. Version numbers of software and in some instances vendor information are also essential to answer certain questions.

            The power and opportunities created by technology should be available to all blind people. Providing accurate information about technology, training, and related matters is another way in which the NFB is changing what it means to be blind.

                                                                      

                                                                      

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Two-and-a-half year-old Mikaella Besson of Massachusetts had many adventures at the 2000 convention.]

[PHOTO/CAPTION: How much independence and freedom can a young blind teen expect to enjoy at NFB Conventions? Wayne Pearcy of Texas, who got his first cane when he was two, was as mobile and independent as his sighted teen peers at the 2000 convention.]

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Blind role models are important to young cane users. The Cane Walk, Youth Scavenger Hunt, and Braille Carnival at the 2000 Convention provided many role-modeling opportunities. In the photo above, Sheila Koenig gives some gentle hand-under-hand cane instruction to Winona Brackett at the Braille Carnival.]

                                             Rights, Roles, and Responsibilities

                                          in the Orientation and Mobility Process

                                                                 by Joe Cutter

                                                                      

            From the Editor: One of the most respected--perhaps the most respected by parents--pediatric orientation and mobility teachers in the country today is Joe Cutter of New Jersey. He addressed the 2000 seminar sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children in Atlanta. As always his remarks were sensible and comprehensible, and for all of us interested in cane travel or blind children, they are worth reading and thinking about. They first appeared in volume 20, number 1, of Future Reflections, the quarterly magazine of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Here they are, beginning with Barbara Cheadle's editor's note:

                                                                      

            Joe Cutter, Pediatric Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist, New Jersey Commission for the Blind, is a professional in the best and most noble sense of the word. He is also one of the most truly humble people I know. He never feels he is above learning something new from his students, their parents, blind adults, or fellow professionals. Joe regularly attends National Federation of the Blind conventions and freely shares his knowledge and expertise with parents and teachers. He makes presentations, gives group workshops, and voluntarily consults one-on-one with any parent who approaches him with a problem. The following article is an edited version of the speech he gave at the 2000 Annual Parents Seminar at the NFB Convention in Atlanta, Georgia:

                                                                      

            I know of no better place to come than the NFB and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) to hear about, be informed about, and learn about your roles, rights, and responsibilities. I know of no other venue that respects and values these three R's more than the NFB.

            A Chinese proverb says: "To know the way ahead, ask those coming back." The richness of human resources in this room today and at this convention all week will provide you with much fuel for thought and action in meeting your child's requirements on the road toward independence. The positive role modeling, the rights that have been established by the individual and collective power of this NFB movement, and the personal responsibilities that have been taken by persons at this convention can provide you with comfort, confidence, hope, and skills as you travel the road ahead with your child.

            There is an interconnectiveness between these three R's. Your role as a parent gives you rights that come with responsibilities. For example, you have a need to know about blindness and a right to information about it. You have a need for training for yourself and your child on the skills of blindness. This information and training will facilitate your role and responsibilities as your child's first teacher. At this convention a few years ago a learned gentleman from India told me, "The mother's lap is the child's first classroom." No one will have a greater impact on your child's development than you, the parent.

            I would like to talk more about your right to information and training. You have a right to clear, reliable, and useful information. As a parent you are vulnerable to reading inaccurate information and misconceptions about blindness in the form of unreliable research about blind children. Much of the time this information will be with a negative perspective. Be careful what you read! It may leave you functionally illiterate about the true nature of blindness. At its worst such material will leave you with less hope and less motivation. At its best it's like a mixed-up math problem from when you were a kid: Mary has three apples and Sally has four apples, so how many miles is it to Detroit? You scratch your head and think, "What?" You're left not knowing what to do with what you read (or heard, for that matter) about blindness and your child.

            Therefore you have a right to read about and hear about a positive perspective about blindness. It is my responsibility as an O&M professional never to take away hope, to do no harm by promoting unreliable practices, but rather to nurture your role with your child, to develop, along with you, options and opportunities for your child. And it is my responsibility to advocate with you in what sometimes is a formidable structure of misinformation and misguided practices in the education of blind children today, particularly in the field of O&M. (More about this point later.)

            You have a right to training: the "what" and "how" of O&M--or as I have come to know it through my involvement with the NFB--independent movement and travel. I am talking about training that is concerned with skills and skill proficiency and not the endless readiness and remediation for these skills--training that respects early use of cane travel with the young blind child, training in what I like to call the really long long cane. The best way to learn how to use a cane is not with a pre-cane (you know, those PVC pipe, rectangular, push devices). The pre-cane will only slow down children's movement and make them vulnerable to not learning age-appropriate movement and travel skills. No, the best way for your child to develop cane skills is to hold a cane in the hand and use it.

            An unnecessary so-called readiness curriculum serves only the professional who uses it and, I believe, is used only by O&M professionals who haven't learned the techniques for teaching long cane skills to the very young blind child.

            My experience has been that the most misguided O&M information parents get has to do with using sighted guides. The practice itself is not the problem but the misuse and abuse of it at home and school. All too often parents and classroom teachers are left with the idea that the child should do most of his or her traveling on the arm of another person. What these children learn, then, is how to observe someone else's movement and not their own. Everything they experience about moving in the outdoor community and in the school is dictated and directed by someone else--the person guiding them--and they never get the opportunity to practice self-directed movement skills with a long cane.

            Now this is so, I believe, because the traditional university programs preparing O&M instructors for the field place an overemphasis upon this single skill. It is the first skill taught for indoor and outdoor travel. There are pages and pages demonstrating the technique in the textbook curriculum and hours and hours in the practicum experience for the student learning to become an O&M professional. You will not find this skill overemphasized and over-used at the O&M program at Louisiana Tech under the direction of Dr. Ruby Ryles. Instead, in this program the students preparing to be O&M instructors use valuable time learning about a full complement of independent cane-based travel skills, the real skills of blindness.

            My thinking, based upon years of experience in the field, is that the sighted guide technique has become "filler" in the curriculum and practice of the traditionally trained O&M instructors. They do not know how to move forward with the skills of blindness promoted by the blindness community, blind travel instructors, and the NFB. Instead they fill the curriculum with sighted-guide practice, and your child pays the price of sighted-guide overload every day. The blind child doesn't need filler. Feed your child sirloin steak, not hamburger helper!

            The next point about training is that, if your child is partially sighted, he or she has the right to sleepshade (blindfold) training. Such training develops confidence in using the alternative (non-visual) techniques of touch, smell, and sound. Children cannot develop full confidence in blindness-based travel skills if they are still relying mostly upon 10 percent or less of typical vision. This will produce doubt, stress, and a tentative style of travel. The often-used argument against sleepshade training is that the student will go back to using vision once the sleepshade is off. This is of course true, but what these naysayers don't take into account is that the person will now use his or her vision with greater confidence and with better judgment about when to use vision and when to use the non-visual technique. He or she will have new options and confidence in using these options. It's about developing good judgment.

            Remember I told you earlier that you are your child's first teacher? Well, as your child's teacher you have the right to help train the other professionals and educators in your child's life. You are his or her most natural resource. The more clear, reliable, and useful information you have about blindness, the more persuasive you will become in advocating for your child. Your information will be confidence-based. (The word confidence comes from "con-fidos" which means "with truth.")

            Along with the other parents of blind children in your state, you can work toward making a better life for your child and other blind children. An excellent example of this is in my own state of New Jersey. A decade or so ago Carol Castellano, Vice President of NOPBC and President of the Parents Division of New Jersey, informed, persuaded, educated, and trained me well. It was a gentle, one-on-one education. She worked with other parents in her state, and together they are making a difference. Some of these parents are here at this convention--Valerie and Ed Ryan, Amy Kaiser, and Donna Panaro.

            This September the New Jersey Parents of Blind Children will conduct a teacher-training workshop for classroom teachers. Carol works closely with Joe Ruffalo, President of the NFB of New Jersey, to make these kinds of training opportunities happen. Together they have positively influenced the quality of life in New Jersey for blind people. I have learned much from Joe and Carol. They--parent and blind adult--have taught me to be a better professional, a better person. Truly an educational revolution is developing in the field of education of blind children, and the NFB is leading the way.

            Blind children--your children--have the right to freedom of movement, the joy of movement, and the confidence that comes with self-directed movement. They have the right to take responsibility for their own movement and to practice and master the skills of blindness. It is your right, your role, and your responsibility to teach your child; and I—as the professional—have the responsibility to support, facilitate, and join you in this effort. Together we can be very formidable and persuasive in contributing to positive outcomes in independent movement and travel for blind children.

                                                                       [PHOTO/CAPTION: Patricia Maurer, Marc Maurer, and Ray Kurzweil chat at the black-tie dinner in Dr. Kurzweil's honor.]

                                           Inventor Raymond Kurzweil Honored

                                                                      

            From the Editor: On April 25, 2001, President and Mrs. Maurer went to Washington, D.C., to take part in a gala dinner and awards ceremony honoring Dr. Raymond Kurzweil, longtime friend of the NFB and inventor of the world's first reading machine for blind people. Dr. Maurer had nominated Dr. Kurzweil for the Lemelson‑MIT prize which he received that evening, and in his remarks Dr. Kurzweil acknowledged his relationship with the Federation and what he had learned from working with us.

            We are delighted to report this distinguished honor and value our ongoing friendship with Ray Kurzweil. With slight alterations the following is the press release circulated at the time of the award ceremony:

                                                                      

            The Lemelson‑MIT Program awarded its 2001 $500,000 prize-‑the world's largest single award for invention and innovation-‑to futurist Raymond Kurzweil, a pioneer of pattern-recognition technologies, who has made a career of helping others while showing a flair for integrating technology and the arts. Over the past thirty-five years Kurzweil has produced a lengthy list of achievements and innovations that have enriched society, including advancing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies; founding, developing, and selling four successful companies; and writing two best‑selling books that support his predictions for the twenty-first century. Kurzweil is being recognized by the Lemelson‑MIT Program for the breadth and scope of his inventive work and for his commitment to enhancing through technology the quality of life for people with disabilities.

            Kurzweil is credited with many invention firsts that span such diverse fields as pattern recognition, speech technology, music, and the visual arts. These include the first omni‑font optical character recognition (OCR) computer program; the first print‑to‑speech reading machine for the blind; the first text‑to‑speech synthesizer; the first electronic musical instrument capable of reproducing the sounds of orchestral instruments; and the first commercially‑marketed large vocabulary speech‑recognition system. Kurzweil's latest innovation, a virtual recording and performing artist called Ramona, represents an advance in virtual reality technology. Kurzweil's landmark invention is the Kurzweil Reading Machine, introduced in 1976, which converts print to speech. To date the Kurzweil Reading Machine has made it possible for many thousands of blind people to read the text of ordinary books, magazines, and other printed documents. The first owner of a Kurzweil Reading Machine was legendary musician Stevie Wonder, who contacted Kurzweil after hearing about the device.

            "The Kurzweil Reading Machine was a breakthrough that changed my life," says Wonder, who helped nominate Kurzweil for the $500,000 Lemelson‑MIT Prize. "With the Kurzweil Reading Machine, I could read anything I wanted with complete privacy: music lyrics, letters from my children, the latest best sellers and magazines, memos from my business associates. It gave blind people the one thing that everyone treasures, which is independence."

            Consequently it was Kurzweil's friendship with Wonder which led to another major innovation: the Kurzweil 250 Synthesizer (K250). On a tour through Wonder's studio in 1982, Kurzweil learned of Wonder's frustrations with the current technical limitations that prevented the bridging of electronic music composition with the sounds of acoustic instruments. Introduced commercially in 1984, the K250 is the first electronic musical instrument to emulate successfully the complex sound response of a grand piano and virtually all other orchestral instruments.

            Currently one of Kurzweil's projects is Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence Network (http://www.KurzweilAI.net), a Web‑based subsidiary of Kurzweil Technologies, Inc. (KTI) that showcases ideas of leading technologists and big thinkers. The main concentration of KurzweilAI.net is on the exponential growth of intelligence, both biological and artificial. "Ramona," Kurzweil's alter ego and a lifelike, photo‑realistic, interactive avatar (virtual personality) with conversational abilities, simultaneously guides users through KurzweilAI.net and showcases the latest advancements in intelligent machines.

            Other KTI companies include Medical Learning Company (MLC), developer of FamilyPractice.com (http://www.FamilyPractice.com), a comprehensive online resource for family practice physicians, which has also developed a virtual patient for use in medical training. MLC is a joint venture between KTI and the American Board of Family Practice, the second largest medical specialty board in the U.S. Kurzweil CyberArt Technologies (KCAT; http://www.KurzweilCyberArt.com) develops and markets artificially intelligent software to aid the creative process, including Ray Kurzweil's Cybernetic Poet that helps users write poetry and song lyrics, and the forthcoming AARON (developed by computer scientist and artist Harold Cohen), which paints original art on computer screens. He has also developed FatKat, Inc. (Financial Accelerating Transactions from Kurzweil Adaptive Technologies), which is currently developing pattern-recognition‑based technology to make stock market investment decisions.

            Previous recipients of the annual $500,000 Lemelson‑MIT Prize include Thomas Fogarty, surgical pioneer and inventor of the embolectomy balloon catheter; Carver Mead, physicist who revolutionized the field of microelectronics; Robert Langer, inventor of the first FDA‑approved brain cancer treatment; and Douglas Englebart, computing visionary and inventor of the computer mouse.

            Kurzweil was formally presented with the Lemelson‑MIT Prize on Wednesday, April 25, at a special ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. This year the ceremony was held in conjunction with "Nobel Week," a series of programs honoring the centennial of the Nobel Prizes, hosted by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

            Kurzweil gratefully acknowledges the role that his creative parents as well as his teachers and peers have played in his success as an inventor over the years. "Encouragement is necessary for young inventors to succeed. It is important for kids to realize that they have the authority to explore their own ideas and that it is okay to fail," he says.

            Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Lemelson‑MIT Program was established in 1994 by the late independent inventor Jerome H. Lemelson and his wife Dorothy. The Program celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual awards including the world's largest for invention, the $500,000 Lemelson‑MIT Prize. The Program encourages young Americans to pursue careers in the fields of science, engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship.

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                          Blind People in Cuba

                                                          by José Monteagudo

                                                                      

            From the Editor: José Monteagudo serves as Past President of the Latin American Blind Union (ULAC) and is a member of the National Council of the National Association of the Blind of Cuba (ANCI). At the Melbourne meeting of the World Blind Union last November, he and President Maurer agreed to exchange articles about their home organizations for publication in their magazines. Here is Mr. Monteagudo's article about the organization of the blind in Cuba:

                                                                      

            The history of blind people in Cuba is very similar to that of the other countries of Latin America, even at present. The Braille system, thanks to which blind people are able to read and write, was introduced at the end of the nineteenth  century, but it became really effective in 1927 when the first school for blind boys and girls was created. By the way, two of the teachers of that school were trained in the United States, as far as I've ever known, at Perkins School for the Blind.

            For many years there was only one school for blind people in the island, and the blind in Cuba had very few opportunities of employment or access to rehabilitation services, sports, art, culture, recreation, and so forth.

            Blind people made many efforts to create associations in order to become stronger and more organized with the purpose of getting more benefits, but for several reasons they did not succeed until 1975 with the creation of the National Association of the Blind of Cuba. Life for blind people began to be different as a consequence of the many social changes that have been taking place in our country in the last forty years.

            The establishment of this body has been very important in the history of Cuban blind people. Now it is impossible to talk about the situation of this social group without mentioning ANCI, which is the acronym for the National Association of the Blind. This association, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, came into being in order to unite the efforts of blind people to improve their own situation.

            At this time 19,000 members organized in fourteen provincial branches and 164 municipal districts throughout the country constitute ANCI. Basic rehabilitation, education, sports and recreation, promotion of arts and literature among its members, employment, and spreading understanding about the true limitations and possibilities of blind and visually impaired people are the principal aims of ANCI.

            Competitions in judo, track and field, goal ball, swimming, fishing, dominos, checkers, chess, theater, music, dance, camping and so forth take place every year at municipal, provincial, and national levels. More than 140 special workshops are devoted exclusively to employing disabled people, including blind and visually impaired people. Only some 600 blind and low-vision people who are able to work and willing to do so are not employed in Cuba. The fifteen special schools, one in each province's capital city, take care of the education of all blind and partially sighted children.

            Every two years all the members of the association in each municipal district get together to analyze the results of their efforts, to elect the authorities and the delegates to the provincial assemblies, and to approve the plan of action for the next period. The provincial assemblies, constituted by all the delegates of the municipal districts, elect the Provincial Councils and the representatives to the National Assembly.

            Some two hundred delegates from all over the country elect the National Assembly of ANCI every five years. This body elects the National Council, discusses the information about the last five years, and approves the national plan of action for the next period.

            Daily living activities, orientation and mobility (cane travel), and Braille teaching are the main aspects of the basic rehabilitation services ANCI supports with the help of volunteers in the community. Besides that, since 1990 ANCI has managed a National Rehabilitation Center near Havana that can offer services to fifty people every five months. This center was built and equipped by the Cuban government with important help from the Norwegian Association of the Blind.

            An annual government grant makes it possible for ANCI to cover wages, electricity, fuel, communications, recreational activities, and other expenses. Fifty houses in the main cities of the country and thirty‑five cars help ANCI to develop its action in support of its members and to take care of the administration of resources.

            A small group of sighted people works at every provincial office of ANCI to help blind and visually-impaired authorities carry out their duties. A greater number work to the same purpose in ANCI's Headquarters in Havana, in the National Rehabilitation Center, and in the Cultural and Recreational Center--a social club, where the Braille printing facilities, the central Braille library, and the talking book service are also located.

            According to the ANCI Constitution up to five percent of its members can be sighted people, and they may be elected to carry out any responsibility at any level except for president and vice president.

            ANCI maintains contact with a great number of blind and low-vision organizations and bodies devoted to services for the blind in Latin America and Europe. The National Association of the Blind of Cuba is a member of the World Blind Union (WBU) and the Latin American Blind Union (ULAC).

                                                                      

                                                                      

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Tom Stevens]

                                     Winning Associates and Influencing People

                                                               by Tom Stevens

                                                                      

            The Associate Program began in 1979 to encourage Federationists to invite the general public to help fund the programs of the National Federation of the Blind. We invite individuals or corporations to make contributions of $10 or more, which can be renewed annually. (To be a member-at-large, the individual adds $1 to the contribution.) Following are the names of participating states ranked by number of Associates and the ranked list of names of individual Federationists who have recruited thirty or more  associates. Recruiters receive a colored badge ribbon based on the number of Associates recruited or the dollar amount raised and are eligible for cash prizes drawn at the National Board meeting at convention. For further information contact Tom Stevens at (573) 445-6091.

                                                                      

States ranked by associates from June 1, 2000, through May 31, 2001

                                                                      

           

                        1

NM

450

5673

7

2

OH

223

5139

11

3

MS

218

3579

14

4

NC

196

3164

18

            5

MD

185

    10724

24

6

NE

182

2032

 5

7

NJ

119

2903

 4

8

CA

108

2505

11

9

IN

 84

1003

 4

10

CT

 81

1552

 3

11

SD

 73

1274

 5

12

FL

 72

 971

 4

13

IL

 63

1167

 4

14

AZ

 49

1087

 1

15

SC

 49

 892

11

16

WA

 47

 895

 8

17

CO

 46

 595

 3

18

LA

 41

 925

11

19

UT

 38

 795

 8

20

MN

 23

 533

 7

21

KY

 16

1165

 4

22

DC

 14

 155

 3

23

NY

 13

 365

 6

24

IA

 10

 625

 3

25

DE

 10

 261

 2

26

OR

 10

 246

 4

27

PA

 10

 105

 1

28

MA

  8

  80

 6

29

GA

  7

 240

 3

30

TN

  7

 190

 3

31

NH

  6

 210

 1

32

AR

  6

  90

 3

33

AL

  6

  75

 2

34

TX

  6

  60

 4

35

VA

  5

 115

 5

36

MI

  4

  90

 1

37

ID

  3

 160

 3

38

OK

  3

  45

 1

39

MS

  3

  30

 2

40

WI

  2

  50

 2

41

MT

  2

  36

 1

42

ME

  2

  30

 1

43

WV

  2

  20

 1

44

HI

  2

  15

 1

Total recruiters: 226

Total associates: 2504

Total amount: $51,866

                                                                      

Recruiters ranked by associates from June 1, 2000 through May 31, 2001

                                                                      

RANK/ NAME

STATE

ASSOCIATES

AMOUNT

1  Schreiber, Arthur

NM

339      

3534

2  Smith, J. W.

OH

138      

2105

3  Stevens, Tom

MO

121      

1801

4  Elder, Jane

NE

 91

 975

5  Woodward, Betty

CT

 79

1516

6  Stroot, John

IN

 78

 853

7  Ruffalo, Joseph

NJ

 73

2212

8  Blake, John

NM

 63

 920

9  Eidenmiller, Amy

NE

 63

 702

10 Caron, Janet

FL

 62

 695

11 Neely, Dottie

NC

 61

 740

12 Jernigan, Mary Ellen

MD

59

1635

13 Mayry, Karen

SD

 59

1039

14 Isaacs, Bill

IL

 57

1067

15 Munson, Patricia

CA

 49

1249

16 Omvig, James

AZ

 49

1087

17 Thompson, Gary

MO

 46

 981

18 Worley, Kevan

CO

 44

 560

19 Shropshire, Lauri

MD

 32

2587

20 Salazar, Shannon

WA

 32

 555

                                                                             

            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

                                                                      

Name:_______________________________________

Home Address:_______________________________

City, State, and Zip:_______________________

Home Phone: ________________________________

Work Phone:_________________________________

E-mail address:_____________________________

Employer:___________________________________

Work Address:_______________________________

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: __________________

                                                                      

                                                                       Settlement Agreement

                                                                      

            From the Editor: The following summary of a settlement agreement is being published in the Braille Monitor because doing so was required by the judge to whom the case was assigned. The National Federation of the Blind was not a plaintiff in this case, but the judge clearly decided that the notice would be of interest to blind people and that the Braille Monitor was the most useful vehicle for doing the job. Here is the text of the summary:

                                                                      

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

                                                                      

Case No. 00‑7233‑Civ‑Moreno

                                                                      

ACCESS NOW, INC., and EDWARD RESNICK, Plaintiffs, vs.

CUNARD LINE LIMITED, CO., and CARNIVAL CORPORATION, Defendants.

                                                                      

            Notice of Class Certification, Proposed Settlement, and Fairness Hearing

                                                                      

TO:      ALL PERSONS WHO HAVE BEEN OR WILL QUALIFY AS HAVING A "DISABILITY," AS THAT TERM IS DEFINED BY 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2), AND WHO HAVE BEEN OR WILL BE A GUEST ON OR OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN OR WILL BE ADVERSELY AFFECTED BY THE DESIGN OR CONSTRUCTION OF OR THE POLICIES, PRACTICES, OR PROCEDURES RELATING TO TICKET SALES, PHYSICAL ACCESSIBILITY, OR THE PROVISION OF AUXILIARY AIDES AND SERVICES FOR THE FOLLOWING SHIPS:

Name

            (1)       M/V Carnival Destiny

            (2)       M/V Ecstasy

            (3)       M/V Imagination

            (4)       M/V Jubilee

            (5)       M/V Paradise

            (6)       M/V Sensation

            (7)       M/V Fantasy

            (8)       M/V Celebration

            (9)       M/V Carnival Triumph

            (10)     M/V Carnival Victory

            (11)     M/V Elation

            (12)     M/V Inspiration

            (13)     M/V Fascination

            (14)     M/V Spirit

            (15)     M/V Holiday

            (16)     Other Spirit Class or Conquest Class ships

                                                                      

            This notice is given pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e). A Fairness Hearing on the matters hereinafter set forth is scheduled before the Honorable Federico Moreno, United States District Judge, in Miami‑Dade County, Florida on the 25th day of September, 2001, at 2:30 p.m. at 99 N.E. 4th Street, Suite 1061, Miami, Florida 33128.

            You may be a member of the class of persons defined above ("Settlement Class") covered by a proposed settlement of this class action. This notice identifies the persons and entities covered by the proposed Settlement Agreement, describes the case and the benefits of the proposed Settlement Agreement, advises the Settlement Agreement class members that the Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the proposed Settlement Agreement and explains how you may object to the Settlement Agreement. This notice describes your legal rights in connection with the hearing and this lawsuit. All settlement class members who do not timely object will be bound by the resulting orders. PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY. The following recitation does not constitute findings or determinations of the Court.

I.          Description of the Litigation

            This is an action in which the plaintiffs claim that Carnival Corporation ("Carnival") owns and operates the cruise ships listed above. The plaintiffs further claim that the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181 et seq., requires modifications to those ships and other relief. Plaintiff Access Now, Inc. is a Florida not‑for‑profit corporation whose membership consists of individuals with disabilities recognized by the ADA. The purpose of Access Now, Inc. is to represent individuals with disabilities through enforcement of the ADA and standards promulgated pursuant to the ADA. Edward Resnick is president of Access Now and is an individual with a disability under the ADA. The sole purpose of the plaintiffs in bringing this litigation is to require the defendants to bring their ships into compliance with the ADA and to recover the costs and attorneys' fees that they have incurred in bringing this action. No monetary damages of any sort are sought or are permitted for private litigants under Title III of the ADA. Carnival admits that it owns and operates the cruise ships that are the subject of this action, but denies that Title III of the ADA requires modification of those ships or any other relief. Carnival also, however, desires to enhance the accessibility of its ships for individuals with disabilities recognized under the ADA, and to avoid litigation in which plaintiffs claim that defendant's ships are not accessible to individuals with disabilities recognized under the ADA. Plaintiffs and Carnival have reached a settlement agreement for the purpose of satisfying the goals of both the plaintiffs and Carnival. A part of the settlement provides that this action will be maintained by the plaintiffs on behalf of all of the members of the class to which this notice is addressed.

                                                                      

II.          Description of the Settlement Agreement

            The parties have agreed for settlement purposes, and to avoid the expense and uncertainty of continued litigation relating to the disputed claims, to the terms of the proposed Settlement Agreement, as summarized below.

            Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, Carnival has agreed that it will make substantial modifications to its ships and to its policies and practices relating to those ships in order to enhance their accessibility to individuals with disabilities. The plaintiffs have agreed that they will not seek further modifications of the ships that are the subject of this action. The plaintiffs and Carnival have further agreed that future ships and alterations to existing or future ships also may be governed by this agreement. The agreement provides a mechanism by which the plaintiffs may inspect the agreed modifications upon their completion and resolve any disputes that might arise with respect to whether the modifications conform to the agreement. Class counsel's fees and costs will be paid by Carnival, not by class members. If the Court approves the proposed settlement, you will be forever barred from contesting the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of the Settlement Agreement, or from pursuing the claims against Carnival as identified in the Settlement Agreement. Counsel for the plaintiffs believe that the proposed Settlement Agreement is fair, reasonable, and adequate.

                                                                      

III.         The Fairness Hearing

            At the Fairness Hearing, the Court will: (1) Review and determine the merits of any objection to the settlement.

(2) Determine whether to approve the settlement as fair and reasonable, adequate, and in the best interest of the settlement class. (3) Grant a fee award to class counsel. (4) Determine whether to enter a final judgment approving settlement. (5) Determine such other matters as may be appropriate. Any person or entity that objects to the Settlement Agreement, or any of its terms, or to the judgment to be entered in the action, or to any other matter to be considered at the Fairness Hearing may appear in person or through such person or entity's attorney at the hearing and present any evidence or argument that may be proper and relevant; provided, however, that no person other than Access Now, Inc., Edward Resnick, and Carnival Corporation shall be heard and no papers, briefs, pleadings, or other documents submitted by any person shall be received and considered by the Court, unless no later than thirty days prior to the date of the Fairness Hearing, such person files with the Court and serves upon all counsel listed below (a) a written notice of intention to appear; (b) a written statement of such person's objection to any matters before the Court; and (c) the grounds therefore or the reasons for such person's desire to appear and to be heard, together with all papers, briefs, or other documents that such person desires the Court to consider.

                                                                      

                                                                                                                              Matthew W.Dietz

                                                                         Attorney for Access Now, Inc. & Edward Resnick

                                                                                                                        446 Majorca Avenue

                                                                                                           Coral Gables, Florida 33134

                                                                                                                                 Thomas R.Julin

                                                                                                                             Hunton &Williams

                                                                                                 Attorneys for Carnival Corporation

                                                                                                   111 Brickell Avenue ‑ Suite 2500

                                                                                                                       Miami, Florida 33131

                                                                      

            No person shall be entitled to object to approval of the settlement, or to any of its terms, or to the judgment to be entered in the action, or otherwise to be heard, without first filing and serving written objections as described above. Any person who fails to object in the manner prescribed above shall be deemed to have waived such objection, and will be forever barred from raising such objection in this action. IF YOU DO NOT OPPOSE THIS SETTLEMENT, YOU NEED NOT APPEAR OR FILE ANYTHING IN WRITING.

IV.        For More Information

            This Notice is only a summary, the full settlement agreement, the amended complaint, and other documents in the case may be inspected and copied at the Clerk's Office, United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Federal Courthouse Square, 301 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL 33128.

            Done and ordered in chambers at Miami, Florida this 29th day of May, 2001.

                                                                      

                                                                                                                              Federico Moreno

                                                                                                            United States District Judge

                                                                      

Copies furnished to: Matthew Dietz, Esq.; Marty Steinberg, Esq.; and Carolyn Gray, Esq.

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                      Recipes

                                                                      

            The recipes this month come from members of the NFB of Iowa.

                                                                      

                                                              Zucchini Squares

                                                          by Delores Reisinger

                                                                      

            Although she is a member of the Des Moines Chapter of the NFB of Iowa, Delores and her husband Jack live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Delores attended her first convention in 1968 in Des Moines. At that time she was a young woman living in Brazil. In 1969 she returned to Iowa to marry Jack, who is now a retired vendor. Following are three of her recipes.

                                                                      

Ingredients:

4 eggs, well beaten

1 cup Bisquick

1 large onion, chopped

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 stick margarine or butter, melted

3 cups thinly sliced, quartered zucchini

                                                                      

            Method: Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a well-greased 9-by-11-inch pan. (9-by-13 makes squares that are too thin. Baked in a 9-by-9-inch pan, the squares are a bit thicker and may take a little longer to bake.) Bake at 350 degrees for about thirty minutes. Cut into squares.

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                    Easy Garden Vegetable Pie

                                                                      

            Try placing sliced tomatoes or extra cheese on top before baking.

                                                                      

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup Bisquick

3 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/2 cup cauliflower, chopped

                                                                      

            Method: In a medium bowl thoroughly blend milk, Bisquick, eggs, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 10-inch pie plate. Cook vegetables for about five minutes. Drain well. Toss the vegetables with cheese in pie plate. Pour batter over vegetables and bake for thirty-five to forty minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand five minutes before serving.

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                  Peanut Balls

                                                    by Docinhos de Amendoim

                                                                      

            From How to Teach Home Ec to a Blind Individual. This recipe comes from a book Delores acquired while still in Brazil. She translated it from Portuguese so we could enjoy this delight.

                                                                      

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups roasted peanuts, ground (about 3 cups),

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/3 cups)

Powdered sugar

                                                                      

            Method: In two-quart saucepan combine ground peanuts and milk. Cook and stir over medium low heat until mixture forms ball around the spoon and pulls away from sides of pan (about five minutes). Cool, then chill slightly (about thirty minutes). Form mixture into one-inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar.

                                                                      

                                                                      

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Mickey Fixson]

                                                              Irish Mexican Dip

                                                              by Mickey Fixson

                                                                      

            Mickey Fixson is the vice president of the Old Capitol Chapter, Iowa City. Besides his work in Federation activities, he builds race cars, clocks, and other things. Here is one of his recipes.

                                                                      

Ingredients:

1 can corned beef hash

1 can tamales

1/4 cup salsa

1 cup grated cheddar or colby cheese

                                                                      

            Method: Empty tamales into a microwave-safe bowl. Remove paper wraps from tamales and crush. Add corned beef hash and salsa to bowl and mix together. Microwave about five minutes and stir two or three times while heating. When mixture is hot, add cheese to top of mixture and heat an additional one minute. This dip is great served hot with tortilla or corn chips.

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                          Cookies 'n Cream Pie

                                                              by Mickey Fixson

                                                                      

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups milk

1 package (4-serving size) instant vanilla pudding and pie filling

1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 cup coarsely crushed chocolate sandwich cookies

One 9-inch graham cracker pie crust

                                                                      

            Method: In a medium bowl, with an electric beater on medium speed, beat together the milk and pudding for one minute until well blended. Let sit for five minutes. Fold in the whipped topping and crushed cookies. Spoon into the crust. Cover and freeze for at least six hours until firm. Serves six to eight. Before slicing the frozen pie, dip a sharp knife into warm water. And, if you'd like, you can top each slice with an additional dollop of whipped topping, a maraschino cherry, some cookie crumbs, or half a cookie.

                                                                      

                                                                      

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Laurie Marsch]

                                                                  Snicker Bars

                                                              by Laurie Marsch

                                                                      

            Laurie Marsch is a member of the Black Hawk County Chapter. She is busy doing volunteer work at hospitals and going to schools to teach students about blindness. She and other members of her chapter are also working with newly blind people to help them learn the skills of blindness.

                                                                      

Ingredients:

2 rolls of chocolate chip cookie dough

1 package mini Snicker bars

                                                                      

            Method: Press the two rolls of cookie dough evenly into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan to form a crust. Then lightly press the Snicker bars in rows onto the dough. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for eighteen minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

                                                                      

                                                                      

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Lora Van Lent]

                                                         Cranberry Pork Chops

                                                              by Lora Van Lent

                                                                      

            Lora Van Lent's husband Joe is the recent past president of the Des Moines Chapter. She is always busy working, helping Joe when she can, and helping us all change what it means to be blind. However, when she is able to find the time to cook and entertain, she makes some really great dishes. Here's one she served at Christmas to a group from her church.

                                                                      

Ingredients:

6 bone-in pork loin chops

1 16-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce

1/2 cup cranberry or apple juice

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

                                                                      

            Method: Place chops in slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour over chops. Cook on low for seven to eight hours.

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                             Monitor Miniatures

                                                                      

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Adrienne Asch in academic regalia receives an honorary degree.]

Honored:

            We are pleased to report that Federationist and distinguished bioethicist Adrienne Asch was honored by her alma mater, Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia, with an honorary degree. Here is the text of the presentation made by Swarthmore President Alfred H. Bloom:

                                                                      

            Adrienne Asch, you are an internationally respected bioethicist who has shaped scholarly and public recognition of the ethical complexities that new technologies introduce in the area of human reproduction and who has inspired a deeper understanding of the humanity and the rights of people with disabilities.

            You graduated from Swarthmore in 1969 with a degree in philosophy, worked as staff therapist for the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy from 1981 to 1990, and received your Ph.D. in social psychology from Columbia University in 1992.

            Since 1994 you have been the Henry Luce Professor of Biology, Ethics, and the Politics of Human Reproduction at Wellesley College, where you are a beloved and admired teacher and leader in developing interdisciplinary curricula in the area of genetics, reproductive rights, surrogacy, motherhood, and the family.

            You have published extensively in professional journals, authored or co‑edited six books, and have two further books in progress, one focused on the ethical, social, and psychological issues arising in assisted reproduction and the other on cloning.

            You are also a pioneering activist for the rights of people with disabilities.  In 1993 you were appointed to Hillary Clinton's National Health Care Reform Task Force and in 1995 to the Commission on Childhood Disability.   In 1999 you participated in the historic debate with Professor Peter Singer at the Princeton University Center for Human Values, where you made the persuasive case that evidence of genetic disability should not in itself justify termination of pregnancy and spoke eloquently to the ability of people who have disabilities to give and receive love, appreciate the world around them, and make contributions to their societies. And your impact on public consciousness has motivated changes in public policy that further enable people with disabilities to make those contributions.

            Adrienne Asch, through your research, writing, teaching, and lecturing you have engaged some of the most difficult and critical issues of our time, extended the frontiers of bioethical and social psychological understanding, and demonstrated the power of rigorous thought to shape a more just and humane world. Your alma mater is deeply proud that you give life to its highest ideals.

            Upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Laws.

                                                                      

Hoping to Find:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            I do not have the funds to purchase a new or used Braillewriter. If anyone has a functioning Perkins Braillewriter that you would be willing to donate, I can promise to give it a good home. Contact May Hardison, 5143 E. Washington Street, #1, Indianapolis, Indiana 46219, or call (317) 356-0965.

                                                                      

For Sale:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            Have you been looking for a portable laptop computer with a built-in Braille display to use when going to meetings or classes or out traveling on your job?  Here is what you have been looking for.

            I have a portable Pentium laptop computer with a built-in forty-character refreshable Braille display and full computer keyboard.  The computer has a hard disk drive; floppy disk drive; CD ROM drive; and PCMCIA card slots, which can be used for the Internet, networks, and scanners. The unit includes serial ports, parallel ports for printers, and keyboard ports.  You can also use this unit as a stand-alone terminal for a desktop computer, reading on the Braille display what is on the desktop monitor. This unit comes with Jaws 3.7, Windows 98, and the 1997 version of Microsoft Word and Excel.

            My asking price is $6,000 or best offer.  Call Jim at (650) 756-1333.

                                                                      

New Free Braille Christian Publication Available:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            We have recently begun publishing our bi‑monthly evangelical Christian magazine, The Higher Way, in Braille. Each issue contains inspirational and spiritually challenging sermon excerpts and feature articles, personal accounts of God's life‑changing power, and other items of interest. Subscribe to this free publication by writing to the Apostolic Faith Church, 6615 SE 52nd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97206.

                                                                      

Attention Those Interested in Becoming Vision Specialists in Vocational Rehabilitation:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University is pleased to announce that the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has provided funding for an Academic Certificate Program. The purpose of the program is to provide specialized training in vision disabilities for people employed in rehabilitation agencies serving people who are blind or people who are in graduate training programs leading toward a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling.

            The stipend-supported 2002 summer program provides four graduate courses for twelve semester credit hours, including a field experience on specialized issues, techniques, services, and technology that are specific to the rehabilitation of people with visual impairments.

            A brochure with more detailed information regarding course work, stipends, admission requirements, program dates, and an application will be mailed in the summer of 2001. For more information contact Stacy Butler, Project Coordinator, RRTC on Blindness and Low Vision, (662) 325-2001 (voice), (662) 325-2694 (TDD), or (662) 325-8989 (FAX).

                                                                      

Retina Visualization Without Dilation:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            You no longer have to be among the over forty million American patients getting pupils dilated during annual exams for progressive eye diseases and retinal abnormalities such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, or retinal detachment. The Panoramic200Ô Non-mydriatic Ophthalmoscope, manufactured by Optos North America, uses a patient-friendly, wide-field imaging system to capture a single, high-resolution, full-color digital image of virtually the entire retina without dilation, contact with the cornea, scleral depression, or stressful and potentially harmful levels of illumination.  A picture taken with the P200 OptomapÔ exam allows the doctor to see your retina, the optic nerve, and the many tiny blood vessels. This gives the eye doctor a permanent record of the health of your eye.

            At the Annual Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), two recently completed clinical studies of the P200 were presented during the week of May 3, 2001. The Eye and Ear Institute (University of Pittsburgh) concluded that retinal specialists can evaluate patients for diabetic retinopathy using the P200 Optomap exam without pupil dilation. It also demonstrated that the P200 is the first instrument capable of screening diabetic retinopathy with significant patient acceptance.

            The second study, completed by the New England Eye Care Center (Boston), compared the OptomapÔ exam against dilated and undilated clinical examinations. Both the dilated exam and the P200 achieved a sensitivity of 74 percent; the undilated exam achieved only 29 percent sensitivity. This proved that the Optomap is a reliable tool for detecting retinal disease in a primary eyecare setting.

            Optos North America is headquartered in Marlborough, Massachusetts. For more information or to inquire about the Optomap exam location nearest you, please visit the company's Web site <www.optos.com> or call (800) 854-3039.

                                                                      

Volunteer Braille Transcribing Available:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            We pride ourselves on the quality of our Braille, proofread by each other under the direction of a meticulous proofreading chair with very high standards. We can employ a professional certified proofreader if the work requires it. For agencies, schools, etc., we charge only our cost of production. For private individuals we charge less than our cost. Contact Beach Cities Braille Guild, P.O. Box 712 Huntington Beach, California 92648. Contact our assignments chair, Linda McGovern, phone (714) 969-7992; or e-mail <lmcgbrl@earthlink.net>.

                                                                      

Audio Dramas Available on Tape:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            The National Audio Theatre/Blue Ridge Radio Players, which provides recorded audio dramas for the visually impaired without charge, has a new Website: <www.main.nc.us/nataudio>.

            Users may learn there about the fifty audio cassettes of classic and original dramatic productions available to order as well as the history and mission of the Theatre. Four new shows are being readied for mailing: Study in Scarlet, Shooting of Dan McGrew, Tycoon, and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. Audio Theatre shows are available in libraries throughout the U.S. and at V.A. centers for the blind. The Theatre may be reached at P.O. Box 933, Hendersonville, North Carolina 28793, or at (828) 693-5143.

                                                                      

International Conference:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            The Second International Conference on Parents with Disabilities and their Families will be hosted by Through the Looking Glass (TLG), the U.S. National Resource Center for Parents with Disabilities. Conference content will draw from international experts on the cutting edge of advocacy, research, training, and services to parents with disabilities. Conference information including registration, accommodation, and stipends is posted on the TLG Web site. Contact Through the Looking Glass, National Resource Center for Parents with Disabilities, 2198 Sixth Street, Suite 100, Berkeley, California 94710; (510) 848-1112 (local and international); (800) 644-2666 (voice); (800) 804-1616 (TTY), national; (800) 848-1005 (TTY), local and international; (510) 848-4445 (FAX); e-mail: <conference@lookingglass.org>; or Web site: <www.lookingglass.org/conference>.

                                                                      

Piano Teaching Materials Available:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            I no longer teach piano and wish to sell a whole wall of shelved music materials: many sets of Braille piano-teaching materials, each of which is in about six Braille volumes. Print copies of the books will be sold with the Braille copies. Authors include Schaum, Thompson, Clark, Bastine, Smisor, and Mehegan. All of the series of books will sell for about $400 per set. The piano series, published by John Mehegan, however, is a jazz piano course and has four print books with it. Each print book is in about five Braille volumes. I will sell this large set for $1,000. One print book in that set has not been Brailled yet, and it will be included so that you can have it Brailled. Most of the music books were purchased from the American Printing House for the Blind, which Brailled them. However, others have been Brailled by various organizations.

            Also for sale: one Optacon II with both battery packs. It cost $5,000 new, but I will sell for not less than $1,000. This machine has rarely been used and is in perfect working order.

            If interested in any of the above items, contact Janet Cross, 1236 CR 405, Houston, Mississippi 38851, or call (662) 456-3102 or (662) 456-4557.

                                                                      

Seeking Medicare Information:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            Seeking vital Medicare battle data, Gregg Welch of Portland, Oregon, plans to battle Medicare for coverage of purchase of closed circuit TV (CCTV). I am seeking any data about billing and appeals with Medicare that successfully resulted in payment by Medicare for electronic visual aids of any type. Phone (503) 408-1419 or write me at 144 S.E. 133rd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97233.

                                                                      

For Sale:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            I have for sale an almost new fast computer with speech. It includes OpenBook, a new top-of-the-line HP scanner, new printer, IBM Home Page reader, and IBM Talk and Type program. Asking $1,500, shipping not included. Call Stan at (925) 778-7446.

                                                                      

New Book for Sale:

            Lauren Merryfield has asked us to carry the following announcement:

            Lauren Eckery Merryfield, author of the title article of our first Kernel Book, What Color Is the Sun, has been published. Heartwarmers of Love, being sold at <www.amazon.com>, contains her story "Love Far beyond the Physical." This is an account of the harrowing yet triumphant qualities of her wedding with Jim Merryfield. You are invited to purchase as many as you'd like, for yourself and to present as gifts. The book includes poignant portrayal of issues related to blindness, life and death, and love--lots of other great stories too.

                                                                      

Survey Participants Needed:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            Anyone out there interested in being a part of history? Research team seeks 100 blind respondents for the first ever statistical analysis of the sexualities of blind Americans. There are no significant data on the sexualities or the sexual needs and issues of blind Americans. Using a control group of 100 sighted Americans, this study will compare rates of many different aspects of human sexuality. This is a legitimate academic project, over two years in construction. Recently we were awarded a grant from the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sex (www.fsssonline.org).

            Confidentiality is honored in all respects, supported by the use of anonymous Braille, large-print, and e‑mail questionnaires. All respondents must be American citizens over the age of eighteen. Respondents must be of sound mind and able to consent for themselves. All respondents must be blind and have experienced visual impairment prior to puberty‑‑before first ejaculation or first menstruation.

            The purpose of this project is to collect quantitative and qualitative data which make a significant contribution to the science of sexology and which dispel myths about blind Americans' sexualities. We hope to locate clues so that clinical sexologists may more effectively assist blind people who have sexual issues and concerns; and, if we're lucky, we hope to find stories which may be of benefit to the blind, the sighted, and the in-between.

            For further information contact Dr. Winston Wilde, P.O. Box 1192, Santa Monica, California 90406, Telephone: (323) 692-9120, e‑mail: <docwilde@pacbell.net>.  If you leave your name and a postal address, we will mail you an Informed Consent. Please advise us whether you prefer Braille or large print. This will arrive with a self‑addressed, stamped envelope for you to return the signed Informed Consent. Then we will send you the questionnaire in either Braille or large print. You may request an e‑mail answer sheet. Other questions may be answered in the Informed-Consent section of this research project. But feel free to call, write, or e‑mail us with any questions or concerns.

                                                                      

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Angela and Jay Wolf]

Wedding Bells:

            On June 2, 2001, Federationists Angela Sasser and Jay Wolf were married at Mayfield Park in Austin, Texas. Pam Dubel and Adam Linn were members of the wedding party, and a number of other members of the Federation family attended the festivities. Congratulations to the newlyweds.

                                                                      

Elected:

            At its April convention the NFB of Utah elected officers for the coming year. They are Ron Gardner, President; Cheralyn Braithwaite, First Vice President; Ray Martin, Second Vice President; Kara Campbell, Secretary; Norm Gardner, Treasurer; and Dean Anderson, Karl Smith, Mary Hale, David Poteet, and Richard Condie, Board Members.

In Memoriam:

            With deep personal sadness we report the death on June 5, 2001, of Helen Johnson after a long battle against cancer. Helen served as President of the NFB of Ohio in 1971, and until her health made travel too difficult, she continued to serve on the state Board of Directors. Until a few weeks before her death she continued as President of the Toledo Federation of the Blind.

            "Salty" and "indomitable" are the words that come to mind when one remembers Helen. She would drop everything and head for the state capital when testimony was needed in the legislature. And once she got there, she didn't leave till the legislators knew exactly what she thought and why she expected them to agree with her. She never thought that blindness should be used as an excuse for not doing what needed to be done, whether it was preparing a meal on short notice for a crowd, closing her cottage for the summer, or making a speech in a good cause. Helen mothered and worried over everyone she loved, and she worked to love everyone she met. She could be a practitioner of tough love, however; and, if she concluded that one was acting in a way that was not best for the NFB, she was the first to let one know that fact and the best way of setting things right.

            We have lost a loyal Federationist and one of those from the early days who understood completely what a difference the NFB has made for all blind people.

                                                                      

Poetry Books in Braille:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            The Louis Braille Center has Brailled a collection of classical poetry by British and American poets. The collection includes A Shropshire Lad ($10) by A.E. Housman; Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson ($12); Renaissance and Other Poems ($10) and Second April ($10) by Edna St. Vincent Millay; Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience by William Blake ($10); Sonnets from the Portuguese and Other Poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning ($12); Lyric Poems by Keats ($12); You Come Too by Robert Frost ($12); Best Poems of the Bronte Sisters by Emily, Anne, and Charlotte Bronte ($12);  and Complete Sonnets by William Shakespeare ($15). Anthologies include One Hundred and One Famous Poems compiled by R. Cook ($35); Great Short Poems edited by Paul Negri ($12); Thirty-five Favorite Poems edited by Louis Braille Center ($8); and Love, a Book of Quotations edited by Herb Galewitz ($10). We welcome your suggestions of other poetry you would like to have us Braille.

            To order, contact the Louis Braille Center, 320 Dayton Street, Suite 125, Edmonds, Washington 98020-3590. Phone (425) 776-4042, e-mail <lbc@louisbraillecenter.org>. Our catalog of books is available in large print and Braille and on our Web site at <www.louisbraillecenter.org>.

                                                                      

Wireless Web Access by Voice:

            We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

            Now you can surf the Web by voice. AirTrac Everywhere Office Version 1 was released in February, 2001.  With this wireless system you can surf the Web and send and receive e-mail easily--all through Voice Recognition.

            No more pushing numbers on your phone. No more keying commands on your computer. No more looking for a place to hookup your modem. Dial the AirTrac Everywhere Office, enter your user ID and password, then tell AirTrac where you wish to go.  It is all by voice; you talk to AirTrac; AirTrac talks to you.  By September, 2001, access additional Web sites for work, pleasure, academic research, or homework.  Built-in voice prompts guide you to your destinations. 

            You can get real-time quotes from Wall Street and the weather site as well as restaurant and hotel  listings and traffic updates for any city. News, Sports, and Shopping Guides are also available. By fourth quarter, 2001, you can call the AirTrac Everywhere Office and make your e-commerce purchases.

            All you need for access anywhere is your phone or cell phone.  The Everywhere Office will store valuable data and phone numbers and provide your calendar schedule, including appointment reminders. Access AirTrac's Web By Voice through your existing wireless or wire-line service. For more information contact Jim Smith, Consultant to AirTrac, 1356 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60605, Voice: (312) 341-0800, Fax: (312) 341-0801, E-mail: <jimsmith@airtrac.net>, <www.airtrac.com>, Customer Service: (877) 874-9656.

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                 NFB PLEDGE

                                                                      

            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.