Vol. 45, No. 2      March, 2002

Barbara Pierce, Editor

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[Photo/caption: Image of a colt prancing across a field.]

.Louisville Site of 2002 NFB Convention!

The 2002 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Louisville, Kentucky, July 3-9. We will conduct the convention at the Galt House Hotel and the Galt House East Tower, together a first-class convention hotel. The Galt House Hotel, familiarly called the Galt House West, is at 140 N. Fourth Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202. The Galt House East Tower, or Galt House East, is at 141 N. Fourth Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202. Room rates for this year's convention are excellent: singles, doubles, and twins $57 and triples and quads $63 a night, plus tax. The hotel is accepting reservations now. A $60-per-room deposit is required to make a reservation. Fifty percent of the deposit will be refunded if notice is given to the hotel of a reservation cancellation before May 29, 2002. The other 50 percent is not refundable. For reservations call the hotel at (502) 589‑5200.Rooms will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be made to secure these rooms before May 29, 2002, assuming that rooms are still available. After that time the hotel will not hold the block of rooms for the convention. In other words, you should get your reservation in soon.Our overflow hotel is the Hyatt Regency at 320 W. Jefferson Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, phone (502) 587‑3434.Those who attended the 1985 convention can testify to the gracious hospitality of the Galt House. This hotel has excellent restaurants, first-rate meeting space, and other top-notch facilities. It is in downtown Louisville, close to the Ohio River and only seven miles from the Louisville Airport.The 2002 Convention will follow a somewhat different schedule:Wednesday, July 3; Seminar Day

Thursday, July 4; Registration Day

Friday, July 5; Board Meeting and Division Day

Saturday, July 6; Opening Session

Sunday, July 7; Tour Day

Monday, July 8; Banquet Day

Tuesday, July 9; Business SessionPlan to be in Louisville.

The action of the convention will be there!


Vol. 45, No. 2 March, 2002


2002 Convention Tours......

by Denise Franklin

Wheelin' and Dealin'

by Suzanne Whalen

Research and the Blind.......

by Geerat J. Vermeij

Fred Schroeder Replies...

by Fredric K. Schroeder

AOL Report

More Than a Library..

by Connie Leblond

Sentimental Journey.

by Susan Ford

What I Did Last Summer..

by Barbara Pierce

Davy Jones's Locker.....

by Peggy Elliott

Trouble in the West Virginia Business Enterprise Program..

More from the Technology Mail Basket.............

Public Notice of Settlement Agreement

Mabel Nading, a Good Friend.....

by Ramona Walhof


Monitor Miniatures

Copyright © 2002 National Federation of the Blind


[LEAD PHOTO: On March 1, 2002, NFB-NEWSLINE® went nationwide. Pictured here is John Berggren, NFB-NEWSLINE® Systems Administrator seated in front of racks holding the ten NFB-NEWSLINE® computers.  On the right is a cabinet containing the interface between incoming fiber optic cable and a DS-3 line. The center rack houses the multiplexer that splits the DS-3 into the T-1 lines. Initially these lines will provide simultaneous service for up to 322 newspaper readers.

Anyone who has signed up for NFB‑NEWSLINE® can now call the toll-free number, 1‑888‑882‑1629, at any time from anywhere in the U. S. This number now appears each month on the title page of the Braille Monitor in case you misplace it.If you have lost track of your identification code to access the service or have not signed up yet for NFB-NEWSLINE®, contact Mrs. Peggy Chong at the NFB national office, (410) 659‑9314, ext. 356.]


[Photo/Caption: The “Belle of Louisville;” a steamboat on the Mississippi River.]

2002 Convention Tours

by Denise Franklin


From the Editor: Spring is making its appearance in the Bluegrass State, and, as President Maurer says, "It's now convention season across the Federation." One of the first things to do after making your convention room reservation (see the front page of this issue for details) is to decide which of the convention tours you and your friends will take in July. Denise Franklin is in charge of tour arrangements this year, and she has put together some delightful opportunities. Read the following tour descriptions and sign up for the ones that take your fancy. This is what she says:

As the site of this year's National Convention, Louisville certainly has all the right ingredients. Both the Galt House and Hyatt Hotels offer superb accommodations, and the surrounding area is rich in history and local color. But when you visit our city this summer, don't limit yourself to exploring only downtown; let your natural curiosity lead you beyond the city streets and enjoy some of the scenery and attractions that make us proud to be Kentuckians.

The best way to immerse yourself in the Bluegrass experience is to take part in one (or several) of the tours we have arranged. All tours will depart from the Galt House East and return to the same location. Since the dates of our convention have undergone a slight change, tour day will be Sunday, July 7. Most tours will take place that day; however, three tours will be offered on Wednesday, July 3.To make reservations, checks and money orders should be made payable to NFBK Tours and sent to Denise Franklin, 3145 Talisman Road, Louisville, Kentucky 40220. Please include your name, address, telephone number, the designated tour number, and the number of people in your party reserving each tour. Payment must be received by June 1, and you will receive written confirmation by June 20.Now take a look at this list and make your choices.NFB1.

KENTUCKY HORSE PARK: Wednesday, July 3, depart 8 a.m., return 6 p.m. $30 per person. Located amid some of Lexington-Fayette County's most beautiful horse farms, this 1,032-acre park is Kentucky's premier horse attraction and offers something for visitors of all ages and interests. Walk the lanes of a working horse farm and see demonstrations of shoeing, grooming, and saddling. Take a ride on a horse-drawn wagon and get up close and personal to the thoroughbreds, the real stars of the show. Enjoy lunch at Cracker Barrel Restaurant, which offers delicious home-style cooking and a large gift shop. (Price does not include lunch.)NFB2. DERBY DINNER PLAYHOUSE: Wednesday, July 3, depart 11:15 a.m., return 3 p.m. $45 per person. Located just across the Ohio River in southern Indiana, this theater has been an entertainment tradition in the Louisville area for over twenty-five years. Known for its excellent on-stage productions, it also boasts a plentiful buffet and desserts that are so big they require two spoons. You will enjoy the musical, Footloose. (Lunch is included.)NFB3.

AMERICAN PRINTING HOUSE FOR THE BLIND AND LOCUST GROVE: Wednesday, July 3, depart 8:30 a.m., return 5 p.m. $15 per person. Observe the production of Braille, the recording of Talking Books, and a demonstration of special educational aids at one of the largest and oldest facilities of its kind. Visit the museum where vintage Braillers and many other artifacts are displayed along with audio descriptions. Following lunch at the Spaghetti Factory, visit the former home of General George Rogers Clark, the founder of Louisville. This large Georgian mansion, built in 1790, is a National Historic Landmark and is representative of early Kentucky craftsmanship. (Price does not include lunch.)NFB4.

SIX FLAGS KENTUCKY KINGDOM: Sunday, July 7, depart 12:30 p.m., return 10 p.m. $35 per person. Enjoy a fun-filled day of rides and attractions. The park features seven world-class coasters as well as many other thrill-rides and carnival games. Bring along your bathing suit and plan to spend some time at Hurricane Bay with its many water slides. Food and beverages are sold throughout the park.NFB5.

STEPHEN FOSTER STORY AND DINNER: Sunday, July 7, depart 3:30 p.m., return 12:30 a.m. $42 per person. Join us as we travel to Bardstown, Kentucky, for a production of one of the nation's top outdoor musicals. Lively dance, enchanting music, and dazzling costumes bring the story of Stephen Foster, America's first folk music writer, to life on stage at the J. Dan Talbott Amphitheatre. We will enjoy a delicious dinner buffet at the Stephen Foster Restaurant before the show.NFB6.

SHOP TILL YOU DROP: Sunday, July 7, depart 12:30 p.m., return 6:30 p.m. $10 per person. Visit Oxmoor Center, one of Louisville's largest and most prestigious malls. Anchored by Lazarus and Sears, the mall is also home to Galyans and 110 other specialty shops and a large food court.NFB7.

ROLLIN’ ON THE RIVER: Sunday, July 7, depart 8 p.m., return 11 p.m. $15 per person. Enjoy this lovely summer evening cruising the Ohio River. As the calliope plays, you will board the Belle of Louisville, where you will find music for your dancing and listening pleasure. If your preference is for something with a little less volume, take a seat on the outside deck and relax to the gentle rhythm of the timeless river. Celebrating her eighty-seventh birthday this year, the Belle of Louisville is now recognized as the oldest paddlewheel steamboat still in operation. Through the years she has served many masters and visited many ports. If you listen very carefully as you stand at the rail, she may share some of her most intimate secrets with you. Both food and beverages are sold on board.NFB8.

A DAY AT THE RACES: Sunday, July 7, depart 12:30 p.m., return 6 p.m. $20 per person. Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, welcomes you to its Sky Terrace. Enjoy a day of thoroughbred racing from your table in air-conditioned comfort, or step outside to soak up that Kentucky sunshine. Food and beverages are sold nearby, and betting windows are just a few steps away from your table. Just think: this is where you find the millionaires on Derby Day.Louisville is waiting to welcome you with true southern hospitality. Whether this is your first convention or your twenty-first, we are ready to make it the best.For further information, contact Denise Franklin at (502) 641-3953; e-mail: <[email protected]>.[PHOTO/CAPTION: Suzanne Whalen and Caddo]


Wheelin' and Dealin'

by Suzanne WhalenFrom the Editor: Suzanne Whalen is the President of the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU). Several years ago she had a fall that landed her in a wheelchair most of the time. She has coped with ongoing pain and a level of frustration since her accident that leaves me shaking my head in admiration and respect. But her determination to find a way to achieve independence again has remained strong, and now she has accomplished her dream with the help of friends, her guide dog, and the dedicated professionals at Southeastern Guide Dog School in Florida. She recently wrote the story of her odyssey for the Fall, 2001, issue of Harness Up, a publication of the National Association of Guide Dog Users. Here, in a somewhat abbreviated form is that article in the hope that it may encourage others who have not dared to hope that they too could achieve independent travel again:

For those of you who are into country music, and I must confess that, since moving to Texas, I have acquired a taste for some of it at least, many songs have been written about wheels. These include "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses," "Big Wheels Keep On Turnin'," "Roll On, Eighteen‑Wheeler, Roll On," etc. Of course these all happen to be about trucks, and, like any good guide dog user, I find that it's better for my overall health if I make it a practice to stay out of the way of trucks as much as possible. Nonetheless, I too have acquired my own set of wheels. True, I have only four, not eighteen. But, just like those big trucks, my vehicle needs a battery in order to operate, and I can travel at a pretty good rate of speed on the straightaways. Also, just like some truckers I know, I take my dog with me on all my runs. Like most truckers, who are quite proud of their sleek, shiny rigs, I am very proud of the picture of confidence and independence my dog and I present as we drive around town.

For anybody wondering what in the world I'm talking about, I use a power wheelchair when I travel outside my home. I am guided by my faithful Seeing Eye and Southeastern dog, Caddo. (That's right: we're talking about two schools, but only one dog.) Having Caddo means the world to me. All of us love our guide dogs and treasure what they do with us and for us every day, But Caddo has become my passport to freedom in ways I could never have imagined.

In February, 2000, I fell into a manhole. I want to emphasize here that Caddo, whom I had obtained from the Seeing Eye the previous July, was not guiding at the time. He was out of harness, circling and looking for a place to relieve. I was in Baltimore, and the ground was icy. Caddo is a strong dog, and somehow, in the course of his circling, I lost my balance and fell into the manhole. I suffered severe back, spine, leg, and ankle injuries.

I am making progress in my recovery. I can now stand and walk for very short periods of time (no longer than about ten minutes maximum). So I must use a wheelchair whenever I travel outside my home.

My newfound freedom has some limitations. Water getting into the motor of my chair could cause serious mechanical problems. Therefore, because I cannot always be sure of avoiding puddles, I must be pushed in a manual chair and must leave Caddo home during and immediately after a rain. The same is true when I must travel by car, including days when my own physical stamina will not allow me to tolerate a long trip by bus or paratransit.

Despite that, Caddo and I go many places by ourselves on many days. I treasure each trip the two of us make independently.I owe a great deal to the Seeing Eye. Before needing to be trained with a wheelchair, I learned everything I know about working with a guide dog successfully from the Seeing Eye. I never wanted to switch schools, and had it not been for this accident, I never would have done so. I hope Caddo's working life extends to many more years. But one day I hope to be able to have the choice to return to the Seeing Eye, whether I can once again walk without pain or whether I am still in a wheelchair. The Seeing Eye has had faith in me ever since they gave me my first dog in 1975. I have had five terrific dogs, all from the Seeing Eye. After my accident the Seeing Eye boarded Caddo and worked him and kept his skills sharp until he arrived at Southeastern for wheelchair training in August, 2000. Even though the Seeing Eye is not yet equipped to do full‑scale wheelchair training, they are supportive of my efforts and are sharing the burden with Southeastern of providing my follow‑up services in Dallas, my hometown. Because the Seeing Eye did such an excellent job in breeding Caddo and laying a superior foundation of guide training and because Caddo did so well at Southeastern, I have been informed by Southeastern that they plan to use Caddo as the standard against which all dogs trained for wheelchair guiding work in the future will be judged. What an honor to the Seeing Eye, and it is truly deserved.I also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Southeastern. Southeastern is the only guide dog school in the United States which regularly trains dogs to guide blind people using power wheelchairs. Southeastern was under no obligation to accept me for training of course, but they did, and they treated me as one of their own. Up until Southeastern trained Caddo, it had been unheard of for any guide dog school to accept into its program a dog which had been bred and trained by another school. Southeastern could have refused to train Caddo and asked me to accept one of their dogs instead. From what I have seen, their dogs are every bit as good as the Seeing Eye's, but I love Caddo. Had they not trained him, I would have had to give him up, and, on top of the physical and emotional pain of my injuries, this would have been devastating. But Southeastern did train Caddo, and they provided Caddo and me with one-to-one instruction during the twenty-six‑day class period. They also custom-designed his harness, making it higher on one side than on the other, giving the handle a significant offset, and adding S hooks on both sides to increase the harness length and to give Caddo more room to maneuver, especially in tight places. With these adaptations Caddo also has the best possible chance to stay clear of my wheels.Before I was reunited with Caddo on March 20, 2001, I could not go anywhere alone. I had to depend on others always to push me in a manual wheelchair. Southeastern has given me the priceless gift of increased freedom of independent mobility. The more places Caddo and I go, the more we practice; and the more skilled we become, the more our self‑confidence and independence increase. Compared to the 2000 NFB Convention, when I had to be pushed everywhere at the convenience of others, the 2001 convention in Philadelphia was fabulous! For as long and as often as my pain level would permit, Caddo and I went wherever we wanted to, whenever we wanted to, by ourselves: to meetings, to restaurants, on the elevators, to and from the relief area. I wasn't brave enough to try the exhibit area, and we did require help from a Southeastern representative to get into the banquet, to get situated at our table, and to leave when the banquet had ended. But convention for me was a thrill and very liberating. Caddo even helped out once with some intelligent disobedience. With all the noise, I did not hear that we were about to get onto the escalator. Caddo stopped dead and refused to budge. Suddenly I realized my error.Southeastern spent thousands of dollars to purchase my power wheelchair--something they do for all students needing wheelchair training. This is, of course, a real benefit financially for most students. Still another benefit is that Southeastern carefully chooses the best and safest chairs it can find. My chair has anti‑tip casters in front. It is very sturdy, and in order to tip over, I'd almost have to do it deliberately. While I was in class, they went out of their way to meet my needs and make me as physically comfortable as possible. They even equipped my bed in the dormitory with a special air mattress which massaged my body, providing me with much‑needed pain relief so that I could sleep. Indeed, since my accident I have not slept so well.Not only has Larisa Scharikin, my instructor from Southeastern, come to Dallas to assist me, but, since I am the first person the Seeing Eye has worked with using a wheelchair, Southeastern has helped Seeing Eye instructors understand how they can best assist me in Dallas. I am proud and honored to be a graduate of Southeastern, and I will do all I can to give back to the school in every way I am able.In the seventy-two years people have been using guide dogs in the United States, Caddo and I are the first team to have graduated from two schools during our working lifetime. I am extremely proud of and fiercely loyal to both my schools. I hope this is just the beginning and that we will see more co‑operation in all kinds of ways between guide dog schools. I also hope that at least one or two more guide dog schools, including the Seeing Eye, will develop quality wheelchair training programs. Working with a guide dog is not for every blind person in a wheelchair, but neither is it for every blind person who can walk.


Southeastern has sixteen wheelchair users currently on its waiting list, and the odds are that, as we baby boomers age, more of us will experience accidents or illnesses, which could require us to use a wheelchair either temporarily or permanently. I urge every guide dog user to find out more about this subject from me and from Southeastern. Then, if you think this is something your school could and should be doing, please encourage them.Because I've been asked so many questions about my experience, I want to spend the rest of this article covering three aspects of it.Pre‑class Preparation

I received my power wheelchair in mid‑January, 2001. This gave me two months to practice traveling in it and to become comfortable with it before arriving for class on March 19. Southeastern could not make many suggestions about how to become proficient. I'm not sure whether any of their previous students told the school how they had prepared. So, being a teacher and being very analytical by nature, I developed a curriculum for myself, and I am writing out the steps I took and sending them to Southeastern so that they can offer my plan to future students for their consideration.My preparation program consisted of three distinct phases. During the first phase I practiced traveling from room to room in my own apartment. I very quickly learned the space requirements needed to maneuver my big chair. One time I got stuck between the bed and the dresser and had to leave the chair there until somebody could come move the bed to give me room to get it out. Centering my chair to go through doorways proved a challenge at first. I made myself practice going through doorways backwards and forwards. I also did the same with the ramps leading up to my outside door.I first went through doors that were already open. Then I progressed to situations in which I had to open the doors (both push and pull type) and work the chair through, holding the door open with hands, arms, and sometimes feet. Normally as blind people we don't worry about what's behind us, having just traveled safely through that area. But when you go through doors in a wheelchair, you have to listen in front, to both sides, and behind to make sure you have left enough room on either side so that the back wheels clear the doorway without hitting it. I found that I had to develop the same kind of spatial perception that many of us used as children to ride tricycles and bicycles: the ability to hear objects from a seated position. I got to the point where I could roll among and around the furniture in my home without hitting anything.As my skills and confidence increased, so did my speed. I must confess I began playing chicken, driving faster and faster toward walls and closed doors, seeing how well I could hear their approach in order to judge my distance so that I could stop close enough for my hands to reach out and touch them without hitting them with the chair. I did well every time except one. I became a little too cocky one day, and the next sound I heard was the crunching of metal wheelchair foot plate biting into wall sheet rock.Looking back, I can say that five good things came as a result of this disaster. First, I learned right then that a power chair stops as soon as you stop pushing the joystick (a valuable lesson in later traffic checks with my dog). Since I stopped the moment I heard the sickening crunch, the damage was not as great as it might have been. Second, I was not evicted. Third, the maintenance men repaired the resulting hole in my living room wall with relative ease. Fourth, I became more humble and cautious as well as more confident. And finally, months later it was not I but rather Larisa, my Southeastern instructor, who took a ramp too fast and crashed my wheelchair into my closed front door, necessitating the total replacement of the door. My landlady, having survived wheelchair‑inflicted property damage once before, was neither shocked, surprised, nor angry. I was still not evicted.The Great Outdoors

The next phase in my preparation was to travel outside my home. At first I tried using a long white cane. I understand this works for some blind people using power wheelchairs, although a mobility instructor who specializes in teaching cane travel to people in wheelchairs has told me that very few of his students attempt crossing streets without assistance. For me, I found the use of the cane annoying. Frankly, though I am glad of the cane skills I have, even when I could walk without pain, I never enjoyed the period between dogs. Even then, I always found cane travel to be too slow and too demanding of my concentration compared with using a dog.Now, however, working from a wheelchair, I faced new problems using a cane for very long. I am right‑handed, but the joystick is on the right side of my chair. This meant that I had to learn to arc the cane using my left hand as I drove. Sometimes I ran over my cane accidentally. Also, because of my type of injuries, it became too painful to reach out beyond my foot plate and front wheels constantly to arc my cane so that it would give me enough warning when I was approaching an obstacle or the edge of the sidewalk. I found it more comfortable to check with my feet to verify my distance from edges or obstacles and make the necessary corrections in my driving. At first I had to stop my wheelchair and reach my feet out beyond my foot plate. Later I learned how to extend my feet without running over them while the chair was still moving.For those who don't have use of their feet, a cane is a very helpful tool. I even found that, though I couldn't conveniently drive and use a cane at the same time, I could stop my chair and use a folding cane in my right hand just to check out the situation for a second or two. For a while in class, even after I had Caddo, in addition to checking with my feet, I would sometimes get out a folding cane just to check briefly why my dog was stopping or whether he was maintaining a safe distance from edges or staying far enough to the left in country work. I found that in my situation prolonged use of a cane would have been too tiring and too painful, and it certainly would never have been a suitable substitute for a dog.By the way, for anyone wanting to use a cane at all in wheelchair work, I recommend the cane made by Ambutech, a Canadian corporation. It has a roller ball tip, which means that it won't get stuck in sidewalk cracks and grass the way a traditional cane tip sometimes does. Ambutech's toll‑free number is (800) 561‑3340. Their address is 34 De Baets Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R2J 3S9. Their e‑mail address is <[email protected]>. I should add here that during this part of Phase Two I never crossed streets alone.Later in this second phase, as an alternative to using a cane or using my feet, and in order to be able consistently to travel faster and to gain experience crossing streets, I would ask sighted friends to walk with me. I experimented whether it was better if they walked ahead of me, behind me, or to the left or right. In my case no one position proved to be consistently any more helpful than the others.At first my friends had to warn me when I got too close to edges or obstacles. As my ability to use my hearing and spatial perception to detect objects increased, I was often able to hear them approaching from further away and make course corrections to avoid hitting them before being warned. As time went on, I needed fewer and fewer warnings and could sense and avoid more and more things on my own: shelves, people, and shopping carts in narrow store aisles; tables or bookshelves in the library; tables and chairs in restaurants; newspaper boxes, fire hydrants, and telephone poles on sidewalks; parked and idling cars in parking lots.During this second phase a friend and I decided to have a meal at Denny's Restaurant. Denny's is across West Northwest Highway from my home. It is a busy, multi‑lane highway. The speed limit for traffic headed eastbound from where I live is 45 miles per hour. To put it mildly, this speed limit is not always obeyed. There is a light more than a block away, but not one at the intersection with my street. I would not cross this intersection alone on foot, but my friend assured me that she could tell when we had the light, so I agreed to try. During this crossing, I had her walk several paces ahead of my chair so that I could hear her and wouldn't veer. We were about halfway across West Northwest Highway when a car suddenly appeared from nowhere. My friend said the only smart thing she could think of. "Stop! Now!" she screamed.I did. We made it to the restaurant. But by then my confidence, though thankfully not my body, had taken a hit. She had to call her husband, who drove me home while she drove my wheelchair home. Next day I was back at it, though I never again did anything that brave or that stupid.The Juno Wheels

The third and final phase of my pre‑class preparation is familiar to nearly every guide dog user, the Juno walk. I modified this practice, including giving it a different purpose from the one it's normally used for, and called it a Juno wheel. I held the harness handle while various sighted friends, playing the part of Juno, held the body part. My wheelchair has quite a range of speeds, from one‑half mile per hour at its slowest to four miles an hour at its fastest. I set the chair's speed at a comfortable walking pace for each friend. I showed each the right height to hold the harness, and off we went. Sometimes, as in the traditional Juno walk, I gave the directional commands; at other times I let Juno choose the routes.The purpose here was that, whenever Juno made a turn, either to change direction or to lead me around an obstacle, he or she did so with no oral warning. I had to feel what my friend was doing through the harness handle and respond accordingly, applying only enough pressure to my joystick to make the turn required. We crossed streets; did sidewalkless travel; went through parks; and traveled in stores, malls, libraries, churches, and other indoor environments. During this phase I learned that judging traffic flow sitting down is just as effective as judging it standing up, though you have to be absolutely sure which is the parallel and which the perpendicular street. This is not always easy, since some wheelchair ramps are at a diagonal across the intersection, and you have to line up correctly.

In retrospect I believe that the Juno wheels were the most valuable part of my pre‑class preparation, and I am glad they received the lion's share of my practice time. Following Juno gave me a valuable advantage when I had to follow Caddo in class and respond according to his signals.The Class ExperienceAll classes at Southeastern begin on a Monday, and students receive their dogs the next day. At the time that Southeastern purchased my chair, they also purchased another, which they use on campus for training purposes. This meant that I could leave my chair home and use the school's chair during training. This made traveling much easier since of course I didn't have a dog to guide me when traveling to the school. So my instructor picked me up at the airport on Monday, March 19, and presented me with the school's chair upon arrival there. The first day we had the usual welcome by the staff and the usual chance to orient to the building.

Three of us got our dogs Tuesday morning. Two retrain students, who were going to be in class for only two weeks, got their dogs first, and then I got Caddo. Everyone else received their dogs Tuesday afternoon. I am aware that at some schools the dogs are introduced privately to the students in their rooms. At the Seeing Eye the dog is introduced privately to the student in a lounge. At Southeastern, at least in my class, the introductions are a cause for community celebration.

The whole class was in the lounge and got to watch as each person met his or her dog for the first time. I worried about this. I was afraid that Caddo wouldn't remember me, and then I'd be upset and cry and look like a fool in front of my class. Luckily it didn't happen that way. He immediately leaped into my lap, put one front paw on each of my shoulders, covered my face with kisses, whined, and made happy puppy noises. I had waited through more than a year of separation for this moment. Somehow I made it to my room before I cried tears of deep joy.

I found another of Southeastern's practices different from what I was used to. At the Seeing Eye students begin training in town right away, the next morning after receiving their dogs. This is not the case at Southeastern. The first week is spent entirely on campus. Southeastern believes that there is value in student and dog learning to read each other and learning to stride out together with confidence before being introduced to the added hassles of traffic and crowds. Besides, Southeastern has a Freedom Walk with curbs, benches, and many other obstacles like those in the real world, and this gives lots of opportunity for varied practice. I'm not saying that one approach is better than another, just different.As adept as I had become at following Juno in my wheelchair, I needed a little time to distinguish when Caddo was taking me around something and when he was distracted and trying to go off in another direction. Sound familiar? Also those first few days his signals weren't as definite as Juno's had been. I needed to learn to trust him. But he also needed to learn to trust me because I certainly was not as skilled with the chair as his instructor Larisa had been. Sound familiar again? In fact, the first day I ran over him with the chair, and that scared me. Also on the first day I did something I still can't believe I did. Caddo was walking along. "Praise him," Larisa commanded.It didn't seem to me that he had done anything especially praiseworthy, but then I was more focused on my own nervousness than on him. "Why?" I actually asked. (Did I mention that Caddo is my fifth dog?) Can you imagine asking your instructor why when he or she tells you to do something so basic? It was not one of the smarter things I can credit myself with having done in my life. She was actually pretty nice about it, and my head was not separated from my body. In fact, we laugh about that when we reminisce about class.Later that week Caddo hesitated. I guess Larisa could see that he was going to make a move to take me around something, but from my perspective it seemed that he was just standing there."Go with him," she said. Boy, did I hear that a lot!I wanted to scream, "But he's not going anywhere! I'd go with him if he'd just go somewhere!" But this time I remembered where I was and that my mother had once said something about discretion being the better part of valor. I restrained myself."I'll try," I said, trying to smile. I said that a lot. So I appreciated not having to contend with street-vehicle and pedestrian traffic that first week.Beginning the second week, the class worked in the towns of Palmetto and Bradenton. From there we progressed to successfully working two days in Tampa and a day in Sarasota before the class ended. We also had two mandatory night trips during the class.My instruction essentially paralleled that of the other students, except that I had my own individual instructor. When they went to the mall, I went to the mall. The only difference was that I learned how to get on and off elevators, and they practiced escalators as well as elevators. When they worked barricades on the streets, so did I, but whereas their routes required them to step up and down curbs when crossing streets, the school made sure that I worked on intersections with ramps. They rode the bus, and so did I. But I went on a different day, and whereas they used the steps, I used the lift.One of my proudest moments happened on the last day of class when Larisa asked me to do a solo several blocks in length. Solos are not generally required at Southeastern though students can request them. I guess that, since Larisa used to work at the Seeing Eye and solos are required there, she required one of me. Wonder of wonders, I didn't mess up! I remembered the route. I followed my dog. I praised my dog. I even did some problem-solving of my own, like getting the wheelchair unstuck from a big crack in the sidewalk, which Larisa later said she had forgotten was there. I also had to disentangle myself gently from the old lady who wanted to tell me stories about every dog she had ever known."My instructor will be angry," I lied in desperation. "I know she's watching somewhere. I have an assignment to complete. I'd love to talk, but I really must go." It worked.I felt as if I had passed some sort of final exam. There was hope for me after all. Caddo and I really could make a new life with me in this wheelchair."Caddo, we're alive!" I shouted triumphantly as we sailed down the last block. "We did it. Good boy!"I was delighted when Pete Lang, Training Manager for the Seeing Eye, came to visit early in the class and observed us for a day as we went on our trips. The mall was no problem; Caddo made it look easy. I was happy in the belief that Caddo and I were making a good impression, and I felt that our hard work and our accomplishments were obvious.But I wasn't so sure of that following my afternoon trip. I didn't know that I was taking the next difficult step on the learning curve with that trip. Pete got to see what actually goes on in class. I was introduced to a nightmare route that afternoon. The sidewalks weren't straight. Some of them were peculiarly offset, and they seemed to go nowhere logical. Wildly offset ramps were at some of the intersections. And there were other problems as well. I had encountered some of the situations this route presented in other parts of town and in Tampa, but not all. I knew how to cope with some of the obstacles, but some were completely new, and I had to learn new skills for the first time. It seemed that every block threw a variety of challenges and frustrations at us. I suppose I didn't do too badly for my first try on the route. I did at least remember to praise my dog.Pete watched me struggle mightily to learn skills that have of course become easier with practice. For example, when you're trying to line up in a wheelchair at a strangely angled ramp, you have to notice subtleties like which way your dog's head is facing (not just his body) and where the parallel traffic is (because sometimes the ramps lie on a diagonal, and you can really mess up.) So you turn your chair accordingly. Guide training with a wheelchair is very achievable, but it is by no means a piece of cake. It takes a trainer with patience, creativity, ingenuity, and a willingness to work hard and spend the time it takes to do it right. It also takes the right student matched with the right dog. As with any guide dog team, but especially with a team using a wheelchair, it takes motivation and continued practice before, during, and after class.In class I learned the techniques needed for safe wheelchair travel with a guide dog, and, as instructors from the Seeing Eye and Southeastern help me map out accessible routes at home, I put these techniques into practice regularly. They include the following:When I ride up and down a lift on a bus or paratransit van, Caddo rides in my lap so his back feet and tail won't get caught.When I need to go through a door, I center my chair in the doorway, and, if it is not an automatic door, I open the door; hold it open with an arm, a hand, or a foot; drop Caddo's harness; and give him the command "Go ahead" as I slow down my chair to its slowest speed. Caddo then goes through the door and waits for me to do the same. When I am through the door, I pick up his harness again and readjust the chair's speed, and we continue. In this way there is no danger of running over him. Of course we do not use revolving doors because Caddo could get pinned and hurt between the moving door and the moving chair, even if the revolving door is slowed down.When we take elevators, I pick an elevator and center my chair in the doorway. I can no longer run to catch elevators when they open at the other end of the elevator bank, so, unless I am sure someone will hold the door, I stay put until the elevator I have chosen opens. Once it opens and after everyone who wants to has gotten off, I work Caddo on to the elevator, using my hands and feet to reposition his body gently if necessary and to make sure he is as far back against the elevator wall as possible and I am not too close to him with my wheels. Since elevators vary in width and I cannot always tell if there is enough room to turn around inside the elevator without pinning Caddo against the wall, I never do an about-face. Instead I always gather his leash in my hand and back out when we arrive at our floor, pulling him out last.When I line up my chair at a table, I put the table on my right and travel along it until I reach our intended location. Then I turn and face the table, keeping Caddo on my chair's left until I am ready to put him under the table. This is easier for me than approaching the table facing it and trying to line up correctly without pinning my dog.If we cross a street and there is no up ramp, Caddo is trained to put his paws on the curb, then find the nearest driveway to use as a ramp to get out of the street. It's good to know whether there is a ramp or available driveway before you start across. If you get over there and the only choice for getting out of the street is an impossibly high curb, you must either recross the street and select another route or, as I did the only time I got marooned and was too terrified to think, thank God for the two strong men who appeared out of nowhere and very kindly lifted my 300‑pound wheelchair up onto the sidewalk.Dogs who guide blind people in wheelchairs must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the principles of guiding first before the additional training of working with the chair can be added. This is why service dog schools, if they know nothing about guide-dog training, should not undertake this work. They train dogs for sighted people, and those dogs do very different tasks for their handlers, which do not involve guiding. Service dogs for sighted wheelchair users are not required to maintain a safe distance from traffic or make decisions about whether or not there is adequate room to permit a wheelchair to pass through an area safely.I will use an incident which happened after we arrived home from class as an example. We were headed down a street with the parallel traffic on our left. Suddenly we came to a house with, apparently, a lot of visitors. Cars were parked all up the driveway, and other cars were parked so that they blocked the sidewalk in front of the house. An instructor from the Seeing Eye happened to be with me, and he was curious to discover what Caddo would do. Caddo slowed, then stopped, analyzing the situation. As we all know, if I had been walking, he might have been able to step to the right, between the cars, across the lawn, and back onto the sidewalk. More likely, he would have faced the street, stepped off the curb, walked past the house till we came to open sidewalk, and stepped back up the curb to continue our travels.Neither of these choices was available to him with me in the chair. Without any word from me, he did a 180‑degree turn in front of my chair so that he was now facing back the way we had come. This signaled me to turn my chair around. We backtracked to the previous house, where the driveway was unobstructed. Caddo used that driveway as a ramp to enter the street, turned back around to our original line of direction, and continued our travels past all the cars to the next clear driveway, which he used as a ramp to get out of the street. Sometimes Caddo amazes even me.

Close Encounters of the Weird KindAs promised, I will conclude this article on a humorous note, citing several quick examples of the utter lack of thought on the part of some of our sighted friends. These are not in any particular order of strangeness.Example 1. Before attending a concert at Southern Methodist University, I naturally called to find out if the auditorium where the concert was to take place had a wheelchair-accessible entrance and, if not, where the nearest one would be. You know: the old How-do-I-get-there-from-here? question. After the gentleman tried repeatedly to give me driving directions, which I assured him I wouldn't need, he glibly said, "Oh, just come in at the box office entrance. It's right in front. Up just a few steps."I reminded the man that I'm in a wheelchair and that I would need an entrance with a ramp."Well, the box office is just up the stairs," he repeated.I tried again, explaining that wheelchairs, at least my wheelchair, cannot climb steps. To which he replied, "Well, they're just little stairs, and there aren't very many of them."For the sake of the reputation of this fine university, I hope he's not a student there, and I wish I were making this up. But all's well that ends well: I finally got the information I needed (from someone else, of course) and a very nice usher escorted me to the concert. Incidentally, the theater manager was going to escort me back to the entrance after the concert, and he did, by following well behind, because Caddo remembered the way we had come and reversed the route. The poor man had to trot to keep up.Example 2. Caddo and I were coming home from shopping at Target one evening. We were zipping down the street, minding our own business. Suddenly a car pulled up beside us; the driver tapped his horn to get our attention and then rolled down his window."Hey, ma'am, with the dog! You're pretty smart," he observed. I happen to agree with him (at least, on most days when my brain works), but I wondered how he could tell at a passing glance. I didn't have to wait long to be enlightened."Yep, that's a good idea," he continued. "Having your Seeing Eye dog riding along with you like that. Does that thing have a battery?""Yes," I answered weakly."Great!" he said. "When it runs out, you can just have him pull you." After dispensing that bit of wisdom, he drove away, no doubt very pleased with himself for his contribution to my welfare.I'm still not sure why he thought Caddo was riding. He was of course walking in front of the chair and a little to my left. I am the one who rides. And for the benefit of anybody who thinks there's any chance that Caddo can pull my chair, the chair weighs 300 pounds without me in it, and Caddo weighs less than eighty pounds, so the laws of physics argue against that plan.However, speaking of pulling brings us to Example 3. I actually had to intervene to stop a heated argument in Spanish between two men. One had bet the other fifty dollars that my chair does not have a motor and that the dog was indeed pulling it. I hope the loser didn't have plans for spending that money.Example 4. A Good Samaritan hurried to open a door for me, when her friend stopped her with this sage advice: "Oh, you don't have to open the door. The dog will do that for her. Those dogs are amazing!" Well, in my opinion, these dogs are not quite as amazing as the misconceptions some people have.Speaking of doors brings us to Example 5. This has actually happened several times. People will rush to open a door when they see me coming. I always thank them politely for their offer of help, but then I explain that it's easier and safer to allow me to open the door myself and work my dog through it the way I have been trained. Most of the time, people respect that. Sometimes, however, they don't listen, and they just stand there with the door open, so I very carefully proceed through the door. What's really fun is when some of them inexplicably position themselves right in the middle of the doorway as they hold the door so that there is barely enough room to pass through without hitting them. I haven't hit one yet, however."Don't run over my foot!" a worried helper pleaded. I did not answer, and I did not run over her foot. But all this could have been prevented if she had listened to me in the first place. My other favorites are the people who tell me they'll open the door and then become frightened as I approach and allow the door to slam shut.Example 6. I was making a presentation about blind people and guide dogs to an elementary school assembly recently. The students had been told that I was a teacher. I asked the children if they had any ideas how I might know what my students had written on their papers."Yeah, I know, Miss!" one boy volunteered enthusiastically. "Your dog reads them to you!" Ah, well. Educating the public about blindness can't start too early.Example 7. I had just positioned my chair in an out-of-the-way place to wait until a table became available in a restaurant. When I'm going to be stationary for a while, I usually turn the power off to avoid inadvertently hitting the joystick with my arm and moving the chair. I had forgotten to do this, however, and startled myself by moving the chair."Turn it off!" I reminded myself, half aloud.Unfortunately, a gentleman seated on a nearby bench overheard me and remarked to his friend, "Why does she have to tell the dog to turn the chair off? Doesn't he know to do that?""He's not responsible for doing that," I said."He's not? Isn't he driving the chair?" my new acquaintance asked.I could not stop the irritated sigh that escaped from my lips. "Sir, if you'll notice," I said, "the dog is on my left. The joystick that operates the chair is on my right." No further comment was made.There is one plus about working with a guide dog from a power wheelchair, though. I don't know if it's because we move so quickly, or because my chair is large and looks imposing, or because people are too busy staring in disbelief at what they're seeing, but I get almost nobody calling or petting or otherwise distracting my dog in harness. It's wonderful!To learn more about Southeastern's wheelchair program, please call (941) 729‑5665, e‑mail them at <>, or write to them at 4210 77th Street, East, Palmetto, Florida 34221.


If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto the National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, the sum of $__________(or "______ percent of my net estate" or "The following stocks and bonds: ________") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Geerat Vermeij]

Research and the Blind

by Geerat J. Vermeij

From the Editor: Dr. Vermeij is a professor in the Department of Geology at the University of California at Davis. Several months ago he submitted this thoughtful article to the Braille Monitor. He had been disturbed at what he took to be an attack on the scientific method by Dr. Fredric Schroeder in a speech at the 2001 NFB convention. I agreed to publish Dr. Vermeij's comments and asked Dr. Schroeder to respond. Here are both documents:

What is science, and what good is research? These are legitimate questions that deserve a carefully considered answer, not least because much of the scientific research being conducted today is supported by public funds. Despite their importance science and research are widely misunderstood. I have therefore always taken it as one of my chief responsibilities in the courses I teach to enlighten students about what science is, how the science system works, and how scientific work must be evaluated. It was therefore with considerable dismay and alarm that I read Frederic K. Schroeder's article, "Research and the Organized Blind Movement," published in the August-September, 2001, Braille Monitor, (Vol. 44, no. 8, Braille pages 177-188). I shall let Dr. Schroeder argue his case in his own words:"The application of the scientific method with its assertion of objectivity has been used to lend credibility to research into various aspects of blindness by ascribing objectivity where none truly existed. In other words, the assumption that science is independent of attitudes and emotions is the very thing that makes modern-day positivism so dangerous. . . . In my view rather than denying the presence of bias, we should acknowledge it, that is to say, disclose our biases and thereby create a context in which to understand the assumptions and thought processes guiding our research. . . . My complaint, however, is not simply that the positivist model is untenable but rather that positivism itself is self-perpetuating. We construct measurements and satisfy ourselves that they are proxies of truth, when indeed to one extent or another they are images of our own preconceptions."

Schroeder's outburst came as a response to some truly awful research that, as Schroeder rightly points out, was either irrelevant or belaboring the obvious. But bad science--and there is lots of it in every discipline--is no excuse for questioning the scientific method or doubting legitimate attempts to acknowledge, understand, and evaluate biases and assumptions. As authors and editors of scientific research, we have a collective responsibility to identify and to reject poor science. We do not, however, have the right to accept only the science that happens to agree with our world view and to reject anything that happens to conflict with it. Inconvenient truth is better than convenient lies, for in the end it will teach us things that will enable us to respond effectively.

Politically charged science is dangerous stuff that calls into question the credibility of those who engage in it and harms the dispassionate gathering of evidence through observation, experiment, and the building of theory. The Soviets embraced Lysenko and his erroneous views on plant genetics and paid a high price for their arrogance. We rightly question the objectivity of environmental studies conducted by power companies or oil giants, and we are at a loss to evaluate studies emphasizing the virtues of chocolate by the manufacturers of confections. We should be equally wary of a research agenda that assumes either that the blind are abnormal or that the blind are in every way like the sighted. Objectivity may be difficult to achieve, and biases may be difficult to eliminate, but that does not mean we should give up and give in.

Schroeder writes, "I do presume that we (the blind) can learn and work and engage in the same range of activities as the sighted. I do not want our research to strive to separate itself from these beliefs." I share Schroeder's first sentiment but not the second. By disallowing inquiry into possible differences between the blind and the sighted, we are not assuming that one group is inferior to another; instead we are trying to discover whether and how differences exist. With that knowledge in hand we can then confront the problem of how to reduce or eliminate any differences that do exist. To put it another way, there is a world of difference between objective research and what is done with research. The latter is the province of policy, of ideology, and on a practical level of developing technology.

In its broadest sense my science is the study of evolution. Now there are many people in the world who despise evolution and everything it implies. Religious zealots would prohibit the teaching of evolution because it conflicts with their literal interpretation of texts they consider holy. Yet few ideas in science are as powerfully explanatory and as unifying as is evolution. The theory of evolution--not speculation, not a hunch, but a unified body of knowledge--has critically important implications for the overuse of antibiotics, the origins and ends of arms races, the control of pests, the consequences of extinction, and a hundred other phenomena from astronomy to medicine that matter to people's everyday lives. Should we hide such truth in the name of political or religious belief, no matter how fervently we cherish those beliefs? No. In the end we would lose.

Schroeder's misapprehension and distrust of science are unfortunately widespread. For some years there has been a steady trickle of articles in the Braille Monitor with similar antiscientific sentiments, in effect, that science is fine as long as it reaffirms our point of view. This is a dangerous, counterproductive attitude that could seriously detract from messages about blindness that are in every other way laudatory and helpful. We must take care neither to taint science nor to compromise the political principle that the blind should be treated as equals to the sighted.[PHOTO/CAPTION: Fredric K. Schroeder]Fred Schroeder Replies

Last summer I discussed the deplorable state of blindness research and its negative impact on the ability of blind people to seek true social integration. My basic point was that people conduct research and therefore societal attitudes overlie research efforts in all fields, including the blindness field. This is not an attack on science or the scientific method but an acknowledgement that even within pure science we must have a starting point at which to begin our inquiry. In its best form empirical research minimizes the assumptions on which it is based and, more important, tries actively to control for those assumptions which are most likely to compromise the objectivity of the study.

In my view traditional attitudes about blindness are so deeply ingrained that it is unrealistic to believe that we can fully divest ourselves from the negative assumptions about blindness that constitute the norm in our society. In my presentation I argue for research that advocates for our right to live full and normal lives--research that seeks solutions to pressing problems, research that assumes we as blind people can live and work as sighted people do, and research that uses the tools of science to further this belief.

I said, "We have labored too long under a system that has legitimized its low expectations for us under the guise of professionalism and research. This so-called objectivity has resulted in the development of methods to teach us how to take a sponge bath or sit in a chair. I want research that deals with the real problems of blindness--large and small problems such as the way to gain efficient access to information and transportation, equal access to education and employment: research that recognizes my fundamental humanity and seeks to support it by amassing knowledge."

Professor Vermeij responds to my call for advocacy research by arguing that true science must seek objectivity. In his words, "We do not, however, have the right to accept only the science that happens to agree with our world view and to reject anything that happens to conflict with it. Inconvenient truth is better than convenient lies, for in the end it will teach us things that will enable us to respond effectively. Politically charged science is dangerous stuff that calls into question the credibility of those who engage in it and harms the dispassionate gathering of evidence through observation, experiment, and the building of theory."

I agree with Professor Vermeij that in its ideal state science should strive for objectivity; however, where I believe we disagree is in what to do when objectivity appears unattainable. Within social science research objectivity is, at best, illusive when working with highly subjective concepts such as "discrimination," "confidence," and "expectations." Professor Vermeij states, "Objectivity may be difficult to achieve, and biases may be difficult to eliminate, but that does not mean we should give up and give in." I agree that we should not accept only those truths that we find palatable; nevertheless, I believe that it is important to recognize the way in which our humanness affects our view of truth.

I do not argue that blind people are no different from the sighted. I do not shy away from research that reveals these differences. If we accept that blind people are different from sighted people, and I do, the important question becomes where we should begin in trying to understand these differences and their implications for the lives of blind people. How do we separate truth from tradition and preconception about blindness and blind people? How can we use this knowledge to further social and economic integration rather than perpetuating a system in which differences have been used as irrefutable proof of lesser ability?

What I propose is research that is advocacy-based--an approach that assumes our ability to compete; assumes our ability to learn; assumes our ability to work and do the same things as others in our society. By starting with a positive view of blindness, we can work to identify the barriers to full participation and seek ways to break down those barriers. This is not a politically charged or a myopic view of the world. This is not a fear of unpleasant truth. This is collective action.

In our society there are groups or classes of people who are disadvantaged. Women earn less than men; minority children have higher dropout rates than non-minority children; and blind people suffer social and economic discrimination and have devastating rates of unemployment. These are known facts, but are they the product of inferiority or the product of lesser opportunity? Are these disparities the natural consequence of the individual's condition or status, or are they evidence of social ills that weaken our society and threaten its health? I support research that applies science to answering the question of why these inequities exist and, more important, what we can do to resolve these dysfunction’s in our society.

In planning a research agenda, it is reasonable for us to pursue those areas of inquiry which we collectively believe will benefit our lives. Said another way, how can we best pursue research (or understanding) that is most relevant in the lives of blind people? In my presentation I described contemporary blindness research that is at best irrelevant but more often damaging to the lives of blind people.

This is not because I found their findings unflattering to blind people but because I found the research riddled with negative assumptions about blind people. I am not afraid of unpleasant truth; I am alarmed when prejudice is given respectability by cloaking it in science. I believe that the current state of poor blindness research stems from historic prejudicial attitudes about blindness. Society believes that we are set apart by our lack of sight. It assumes that we are in effect deficient sighted people whose lives only approximate normalcy but can never attain full normalcy. Therefore much of the present day blindness research predictably seeks knowledge that can help ameliorate our inferior condition.

Unfortunately, this hardly objective view is accepted as objective through a misapplication of scientific principles. We know that blind and sighted people have differences. Yet I believe the way in which those differences are explored reveals the fundamental beliefs of the researcher. As I said in my presentation, "Perhaps science should be independent of human frailty, but the mere fact that we wish it to be so does not make it possible. In fact, the idea of independent objectivity within social science research creates the very pitfall that the positivist seeks to avoid. In my view, rather than denying the presence of bias, we should acknowledge it, that is to say, disclose our biases and thereby create a context in which to understand the assumptions and thought processes guiding our research."

Professor Vermeij points out, "Bad science--and there is lots of it in every discipline--is no excuse for questioning the scientific method or doubting legitimate attempts to acknowledge, understand, and evaluate biases and assumptions." I agree, and it is not my intent to denigrate true science; rather, it is my view that the well-earned credibility of true science has been exploited, or at least misapplied in most of the body of literature comprising blindness research.

Professor Vermeij makes reference to what he calls my "misapprehension and mistrust of science" and states that this view is "unfortunately widespread." He says, "For some years there has been a steady trickle of articles in the Braille Monitor with similar antiscientific sentiments, in effect, that science is fine as long as it reaffirms our point of view. This is a dangerous, counterproductive attitude that could seriously detract from messages about blindness that are in every other way laudatory and helpful. We must take care neither to taint science nor to compromise the political principle that the blind should be treated as equals to the sighted."

I do not agree with Professor Vermeij that articles in the Braille Monitor reflect a negative view of science. Our criticism is not with science but with its misapplication. For example, I believe that, when citizens speak out against misuses of power by governmental officials, they are not speaking in opposition to democracy. When minority groups complain about discriminatory practices by police, they are not speaking against an orderly, safe society. We speak out against poorly constructed blindness research that is damaging to our dignity and perpetuates stereotypes.

I recognize that my view is controversial, but I believe it is both morally and scientifically defensible. I do not believe we are well served by filtering truth or manipulating facts; nevertheless, I firmly believe that research targeted to address specific problems offers the promise of real progress. For example, I know that most blind people who learn Braille as adults do not achieve the same reading speed as those who learn Braille as children; yet I know that for blind people to be competitive they need real literacy. My view of advocacy research is that we begin with an expectation--a belief that blind adults can master Braille and achieve true literacy.

With this as my goal, the focus of my research shifts. I do not seek to explain why newly blinded adults will never read as well as those who learned Braille as children, but rather I look for methods that yield better and better results bringing me closer and closer to my objective. I am not satisfied until I achieve my goal. In other words, if I am not successful, I view it as my failure to find the correct intervention or training strategy, not as something to which the individual is inescapably doomed. I do not ignore those factors that frustrate my reaching my goal. To the contrary, identifying those impediments is a vital part of the process.

Scientific methods are the way in which we approach advocacy research. It is the way we structure our systematic investigation of the problem with which we are concerned. It is the way we evaluate our results and modify our subsequent efforts. Science is not the culprit but our ally. Science is a tool. When used well, it is indispensable. However, when misapplied, it is damaging and serves to keep us in poverty and isolation.

I believe we will have found its correct application when we have found ways for blind children to have an education comparable to that of their sighted peers, when we have unemployment rates comparable to those of the sighted, when newly blinded adults can expect to regain literacy through Braille, when blind people have access to information comparable to that the sighted receive. But I also believe science can help us address social ills. By solving many of the problems that confront us, we foster greater understanding and acceptance. I believe that science can help eliminate prejudicial practices and help guide our public policy.

What I propose is nothing more than what we as a movement have done throughout our sixty-two-year history--challenge the status quo, refuse to accept an inferior status, advocate for our rights, and assert our right to live with dignity free from prejudice. I do not believe we should be naive or defensive about those aspects of blindness that set us apart. We use Braille to read. We travel with white canes. And, increasingly, we use technology to function competitively.

I believe it is reasonable to focus our research efforts to further our move toward true integration, and I believe it is reasonable to oppose research that anchors us in an inferior status. Indeed, I believe that the process of asserting our right to full participation is the only real way we as blind people have made significant progress toward social and economic equality. No one can give us equality, and we must not allow anyone to keep it from us. Society wishes us well, but society does not believe, as we do, that blind people are capable of full participation. I fully agree with Professor Vermeij when he says, "Inconvenient truth is better than convenient lies," but I do not believe that we are well served when we let others define that truth.

AOL Report


From the Editor: If you have been dismayed after trying to use AOL 7.0 with speech or Braille access, you are not alone. The National Association of Blind Students listserv recently conducted a frustrated little discussion which began with a post from Brian Miller of Iowa. Curtis Chong, director of the NFB Technology Department, saw the post and answered Brian directly. Their exchange of messages provides an important update on AOL's efforts to achieve meaningful access for blind users. Here are the two messages:

January 29, 2002[PHOTO/CAPTION: Brian Miller]

Subject: AOL 7.0

Does anyone out there use AOL 7.0? My wife and I used to use AOL 5.0, at least so far as to log on and go straight to Internet Explorer in order to do Web searches. Supposedly the 7.0 version of this program was to be beta‑tested to be blind-friendly. In fact, I remember a call for beta testers months ago on this very listserv.

Well, we loaded the off‑the‑shelf 7.0 version onto our computers, and it is even less accessible than the earlier version. We can't even figure out how to get to Internet Explorer anymore. We called customer service, and the person there could only suggest that we go into our accessories menu to enlarge the font size‑‑we are both totally blind, so this was a non‑starter.

We then called the National Center to speak to our computer people. They suggested we go back to our old Web browser‑‑huh? Do I remember correctly that we dropped our lawsuit against AOL because they promised to work with us on making the newer versions accessible? What happened to this grand plan?

Any thoughts or suggestions out there?

Brian Miller[PHOTO/CAPTION: Curtis Chong]

January 30, 2002

Dear Brian:

Your e-mail to the NABS mailing list on NFB‑NET has been brought to my attention. I agree that there is much to be frustrated about in AOL's lack of support for blind customers. Despite the best of intentions on the part of AOL's accessibility staff, it would seem that there is much yet to be done to enable the general run‑of‑the‑mill AOL help desk person to communicate in a meaningful way with an AOL customer who happens to be blind.

I want to take this opportunity to pass along the information I have about AOL 7.0 and its usability by the blind. In addition, I want you to know that I am copying this e-mail to AOL's Director of Accessibility, Debbie Fletter, in the hope that your e-mail will spur the accessibility staff to even greater efforts.

To begin with, AOL did a lot of work to improve the compatibility between its AOL 7.0 client software and screen-reading technology for the blind. The accessibility staff came up with some really nice scripts for JAWS for Windows 3.7. Unfortunately, those scripts are not part of the JAWS for Windows package from Freedom Scientific. The blind AOL customer running JAWS has to copy a number of JAWS‑specific files from the AOL folder into the appropriate Settings folder for JAWS. Of course, as you and I both know, the average blind AOL customer would never know to do this; and today neither (apparently) would anyone on the AOL Customer Support line.

If you are running an earlier version of JAWS for Windows, chances are that the AOL‑supplied scripts will not work for you, and if you are running JAWS for Windows Version 4 of any flavor, you will also experience accessibility problems until newer scripts can be made available. I do not know whether these new scripts will be made available from AOL or Freedom Scientific, but I do know that the AOL accessibility team is working on the problem even as I write this.

AOL has already taken some small steps to provide useful information to customers with disabilities. The AOL Web site has an entire section devoted to issues of accessibility. Point your browser to <>. Of more immediate importance to those of us who are blind, there is a URL: <>, which contains very specific information about using AOL with JAWS or Window‑Eyes. This page tells you how to install the support for JAWS or Window‑Eyes and how to operate the AOL software from the keyboard. This is a relatively new page, and I am fairly certain that most AOL support personnel don't know anything about it. (Of course, in order to obtain this wonderful information, you need access to the Internet and the AOL client software‑‑the classic chicken-and-the-egg problem, I guess.)

With regard to running AOL and using the browser of your own choice, this should still be possible with AOL 7.0. Once you get connected to AOL, simply minimize everything by pressing the WINDOWS+M key combination and then start Internet Explorer or any other browser to go to whatever Web page you want. You may be interested to know that you can go to <> to read and write your AOL e-mail, read the Accessibility page, or whatever.

All you need is your AOL screen name and password. Ironically, the AOL Web site appears to be easier to use in some cases than the AOL client software‑‑at least for the blind.

In conclusion, I would say only this. The National Federation of the Blind agreed to withdraw its lawsuit against AOL because we thought we would gain more through cooperation than through confrontation. The suit did achieve one important thing, however: it got AOL's attention. Now that we have the attention, we need to continue pressing for improvements‑‑which I am doing through this e-mail. We also need to continue to make constructive suggestions to help AOL to become even better for us. I hope through this e-mail that I have given you enough information to help us in this effort.

Yours sincerely,

Curtis Chong, Director of Technology

National Federation of the Blind[PHOTO/CAPTION: [Julie Deden presents a plaque to Rod Sylvan (left) while Diane McGeorge and Jamie Foster look on. Behind them we see many shelves of Braille books.]

More Than a Library

by Connie Leblond"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourselves that you truly give."--Kay Haraway, quoted in So the Blind Can See

The National Federation of the Blind has always taken dreams and turned them into reality. We haven't forgotten the dream Dr. Jernigan had for the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore and all the work it took to renovate the structure. It has become our national center and is evolving into a grander reality--the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind.

Our NFB adult training centers have a standard in expectation and outcome. We all work to change what it means to be blind. From participating in parades, doing sky diving, and living a complete and fulfilling life to creating a Braille library, we are limited only by our ability to see tasks through and to believe in the dream.

In September of 2000 the Colorado Center for the Blind moved to a building in Littleton which was formerly occupied by the YMCA. Initially we sorted, unpacked, and made room for staff and students. When we felt settled, we began to ponder the possibilities.

Eleven months later, while rummaging through a racquetball court, which stored lots of boxes, I came across Braille books: lots and lots of Braille books. As any good Federationist knows, rallying support is a good first step toward bringing about change. I talked to the Braille instructors; the technology department; and Julie Deden, our director. We all agreed that something had to be done; the dreaming commenced.

Students perused the books and hoped that all the volumes of each would be found and that they would be made available for reading. We began sorting through them and collecting titles and authors and organizing the volumes. It was a long, tedious task, but we just kept hoping a Braille library would emerge from the chaos and find its way to the Colorado Center for the Blind.

Julie Deden brought in the Elks Club. Mr. Rod Sylvan, an Elk himself, and his wife were instrumental in constructing our library. First the carpet was laid. The Elks volunteers worked for weeks to build eight-foot-high bookcases, which stretched the length and width of the racquetball court. When students and staff could actually see the progress, they were more than a little excited. Expanding on a great idea, we decided that the library would also become the Braille-instruction area.

It took about three months to complete the labor. Leilia Clay, one of the Braille instructors, worked tirelessly to move all the boxes of books, including instructional materials, into the room. Then we methodically unpacked and arranged the books on shelves for later sorting. Students compressed boxes and filled shelves, and there it was, our Braille library. I cannot entirely express just how it felt to walk through the door the very first time. The scent of the new wood shelves mixes with the new carpeting to create just the right atmosphere for this wonderful hall of books. The long, smooth conference tables in the front and rear of the room, which is divided by yet another huge set of bookshelves across the center of the room, define the learning environment exactly. The overstuffed couch placed to one side in the rear adds tasteful comfort that completes the décor.

Students come from all parts of our nation and from foreign countries to attend our programs. We have collected twenty-eight flags, which represent those areas. The Elk volunteers faced a real challenge hanging them from the open ceiling above (remember that this had been a racquetball court). The flags now hang securely from wires at an appropriate height. They provide the finishing touch to the setting and lend distinction to our library.

To think this all began with a single idea--a notion expounded, expressed, and expanded upon. We are very lucky to have one another, a human chain of action.

We held our ribbon-cutting ceremony for the library on Thursday, January 17, 2002. Mayor Thornton of Littleton, Colorado, was on hand to cut the ribbon. Diane McGeorge, President of the NFB of Colorado, made a wonderful opening address to all, and Julie Deden presented a plaque to the Elks Club in appreciation for all their work. Students and staff gladly shared in the day's festivities.

In my mind this newly established library/Braille instructional room is more than just a library; it is a testimonial to the strength of the National Federation of the Blind. We haven't forgotten how to dream, and we truly understand how wonderful it is to have the world under our fingers. We believe in the power of collective action, and we continue to nurture the spirit that makes us unique. We have shared with our sighted friends from the Elks Club the power of a dream and the ability of the blind to work together. I am deeply pleased to have been a part of this project.[PHOTO/CAPTION: Susan Ford]

Sentimental Journey

by Susan Ford

From the Editor: Susan Ford is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri. She, her sister Ramona Walhof, and her brother Curtis Willoughby grew up in a small town and a large extended family. What did those folks learn from living around three active, normal blind youngsters? Here is Susan's account of her sentimental journey back home and the discoveries she made:

Last weekend I went to a family reunion. I found myself inundated with countless memories of childhood experiences. Perhaps this trip down memory lane gave me a different perspective about myself, about blindness, and about family relationships. Often we see people who, because of our blindness, are over-zealous in their wish to help us. Our immediate family had three blind children born into it--all of whom have since become successful adults. I wondered if our extended family members had learned anything over the years which permitted them to cope with blindness less solicitously than does the majority of the population.

Friday evening we impulsively put our accumulated meal on a table for a potluck. People just told us where the food table was. No one offered to fill our plates. They offered information about what was on the table and what part of the large room was set up with tables and chairs, but there were no questions like, "Can you fill your own plate?" "Can you find the table?" And there were no offers such as, "Let me carry your plate. You might spill." No small children were suddenly snatched from in front of us when some adult noticed we were approaching and the child wasn't old enough to recognize a white cane. Many of the young people who now have their own children had never previously met us, so this comfort level with our presence must have come from somewhere. What a refreshing change from what blind people often experience at public functions.

Saturday morning my daughter Brenda and I walked to a tower on the campgrounds, where one can climb to see the surrounding countryside. At the top of the tower we found my cousin Helen, with whom I had graduated from high school. As Helen and I talked, we remembered the hike the two of us had taken as seniors in high school. We started from town, and our plan was to walk to her parents' farm about ten miles away. We carried our lunches and even took my dog Chris, an energetic pet Cocker Spaniel. So far as I know, there were no protests from my mother or hers about my ability or about Helen's taking on such a responsibility. Our plan was reasonable, and we spent much of the day walking. As it happened, we stopped at another friend's home just a couple of miles short of Helen's home, because we were getting sunburned.

Saturday noon I sat talking to another cousin, Sandy. My brother Curtis was chatting with her as well, and she told him that she was the younger cousin who used to come upstairs to his ham radio shack, asking lots of questions. When he, the teenager, got tired of her fourteen-year-old questions, she said he would send her back downstairs. Interestingly in that twosome the blind person was perceived as more mature with the right to make decisions.

Saturday afternoon my sister Ramona, Brenda, and I drove to the town where we grew up, nearly thirty miles away from the reunion site. Brenda was the driver and could read the map to get us there, but it was the blind people who gave the directions once we got to town. We showed Brenda the house where we grew up and the store nearby where Mom sent us to do grocery shopping. We visited a friend with whom I had graduated from high school. We found my uncle's house a couple of miles south of town. And we found the city park where a community "corn boil" was being held.

I saw one of my high school teachers, who still teaches at the local school. Mr. Lynch is noteworthy because he helped me acclimate to public school in the days before it was commonly expected that blind children could compete successfully in such an educational setting. My algebra two book was available in Braille, but it was an earlier edition than the one the rest of my class was using. It was Mr. Lynch who was willing to meet with me after school when the section in my book contained different material, making sure that I understood the concepts even if I used different problems to learn them. I also ran into my high school Sunday school teacher. He was the grocer at the store to which we walked, and he remembered each of us on trips to the store as well as from Sunday school class.

The corn boil brought up other memories of past community celebrations. Our church had an annual ice cream social, where they often served a meal as well as homemade ice cream and cakes for fund-raising. There were times when the grown-ups had no problem with kids who wanted to take their turns at cranking the old-fashioned ice cream freezers. There were also times when we were not permitted to help because they were afraid that we could not do the job sufficiently well. By the end of the evening in years past, the adults were usually tired enough that they would let blind teenagers wash and dry dishes. Perhaps by then we had proven that we did not break dishes any more often than others who helped in the kitchen.

Sunday morning Larry, the boy-next-door, came to the camp to visit. We too reminisced about our childhoods. Larry remembered the small garden tractor my dad had made. It operated on gasoline, and both blind and sighted children eagerly awaited their turns to drive that tractor up and down the block where we lived. It had to be started by pulling a rope, and as a blind child I remember burning myself on the exhaust pipe a few times before I learned what to avoid. It was made clear to us that, if we were going to play with things that could be dangerous, we must also apply safety rules as we learned to use them. My dad invented other things. I was not as aware of them as the boys, but I knew it was Dad's intention that we would be adequately prepared for life, even if we were blind.

Ramona remembered how we three blind children raised money by going from house to house selling greeting cards. We filled our homemade wagon (something else Dad made) with boxes of Christmas cards, all-occasion cards, and special items such as salt and pepper shakers. I'm sure in that town of 1,100 people, it was well known that the three blind Willoughby children were selling greeting cards. My mother made sure that we assisted with ordering the merchandise and that we handled the money we took in.

Sometimes it may have seemed that we were not a part of the community. For many years we were away at the residential school for the blind and came home for any length of time only during the summer. But we were a part of that community nevertheless. They allowed us to grow and to explore even though we were blind. My sister says that she once overheard a friend of my dad's express relief when my brother, the oldest, finally came home using a white cane. Apparently there were those who saw that we would be safer with such alternative tools. Many thought we would always be limited in what we could accomplish. But chiefly because my mother saw us as kids who should be expected to compete with our cousins and others of a similar age, the rest of the family and community watched, learned, and accepted us too.

How lucky we were to have been exposed to the beginnings of the NFB philosophy before we knew about the NFB. When I, as a young adult, met Dr. Jernigan and others at the Iowa Commission for the Blind, I learned that others believed in me too. The idea of a blind person's worthiness to be a functional part of society was not just my parents'; there was a movement which supported and built upon it. That movement is the National Federation of the Blind. How fortunate we are to be a part of it.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Barbara Pierce stands beside a Hittite portal lion outside the Ancient Oriental Museum in Istanbul]

What I Did Last Summer

by Barbara Pierce

From the Editor: Do you remember in September or maybe in the depths of winter getting an assignment in school to write a couple of paragraphs on the topic, "What I did last summer?" For the fall, 2001, Buckeye Bulletin, the publication of the NFB of Ohio, I wrote such an essay because my first true vacation in twenty-five years had just ended, and I thought that some of my experiences might be of interest to NFB of Ohio members. Many of them agreed, so here it is to lighten the gray days of early spring:

Few things are deadlier than listening to a friend talk about the details of a recent vacation. I hope that this column will not fall into that category of wasted time because I do have some reflections to make about foreign travel and blindness. This is my only excuse for inflicting the following paragraphs on you all. Just be grateful that you don't have to sit through the ordeal of looking at all our pictures.

My husband Bob and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by taking a tour which began in Athens, spending five days cruising among and visiting several of the Greek islands, and ending with three days in Istanbul. Since I knew that we would do a lot of scrambling over rocky, uneven ground to visit ruins, I decided to take good walking shoes and a straight cane with me. These days I usually use a telescoping cane because of the convenience of collapsing and storing it in tight places. But I knew that what I did not need was to have the cane collapse on me at the wrong moment. It is a pain in the neck to stow a sixty-three-inch cane when you are seated in the center rank of seats on a 747 jet, where you have no fuselage wall to slide the cane down against. I always seem to be assigned one of those center seats. Going to Athens, I had to keep my foot on the cane the entire trip to make sure it did not roll. Coming home, we were on a 767 with only three seats in the center, where we were again seated, so I had no choice but to ask the cabin crew to stow the cane for me. Since I had two other canes in my hand luggage, I was not at their mercy. But of course they managed to misplace the cane, and it took us some time to turn it up again in New York.

Even with that inconvenience, I would not have been without the straight cane on some of the climbs. Greece is incredibly rocky, and climbing to the Acropolis or the ruins at Delphi is a very unsteady business. I really had to develop my own cane technique. Ideally I would have liked to keep the cane tip in contact with the ground throughout the arc in order to identify small steps, but the ground was so uneven that it was impossible to do anything other than tap the cane. High steps were easy to identify, but I found it all too easy to miss drops of two or three inches. The best I could manage was to keep the cane as low as possible and try to remain alert to anything that might be a little step.

I must admit that I would not have liked to do those tours without walking with a sighted person. First of all, following the guide was a tricky business. They carried either signs with the bus number or a parasol that could be seen at some little distance.

The interesting thing is that with nine different tour guides, not one questioned my ability to manage the climbs. Not only were we walking over uneven ground and steep climbs, but the rocky steps cut out of the hillside frequently had a sheer drop-off on one side. None of these places had handrails. Fear of litigation just did not exist; it was amazing and very refreshing.

The guides may have been willing to live and let live, but not so the ship's crew assigned to get people on and off the ship when we were using tenders to get to shore rather than the gangplank. Two men stood on each side of the exit area. They did not speak much English, and they had it firmly in mind that they were not to let any of us drop into the drink. As soon as I got into their clutches, my arms were grabbed firmly by four sets of hands, and my hands were immobilized. I would begin saying, "You have to let me move the cane. Let me move my arm." I might as well have been speaking Martian. The ship's crew in general were so indoctrinated with the notion that they were to provide service that it sometimes caused annoyance. One evening I ordered pheasant, which came with one small bone still in the serving. After the waiter put my plate down, he inquired whether I could cope with the bone. I assured him that I would have no difficulty. He went away, but in a minute he was back to ask Bob in a whisper if I could really manage. Those of you who know me can imagine just how delighted I was with that officiousness.

We had struggled with the pre-tour paperwork, which demanded disclosure of any physical impairments that would require special assistance by the ship's company. Since I knew they would not be inconvenienced, I did not like the idea of mentioning that I was blind. But they warned that the penalty for not disclosing such information could be cancellation of the cruise, which I also did not want to have happen. Moreover, since this ship does not come into American ports at all and the entire line, as far as I knew, did no business in the U.S., I was sure that the Americans with Disabilities Act did not provide me protection or even a tool to threaten with. So on our attorney's advice I wrote that I was blind but that I would not require any assistance.

When we went to our assigned stations during the lifeboat drill the first evening, a man from the medical office was waiting for me to assess my independence, I guess. He offered to take me back to my cabin, which I declined firmly, and that was the end of that.

Setting aside the peripheral issues that I've been talking about, what was it like to visit so many sites where history was made and civilizations rose, flourished, and clashed? In some ways I am sure that such a tour is very different for a blind person than it is for a sighted one. After all, almost everything is off limits for touching, and Greece and Turkey are very far from having funds to create models and other tactile ways to give a blind person access to the treasures in view everywhere. Bob is a very patient describer and plaque-reader, and that certainly helped. I was also able to touch a couple of things that gave me much more of a thrill than seeing them could have given another visitor who was already satiated by looking at so many treasures. In Ephesus archeologists have reclaimed the library, which was standing when St. Paul visited the city. Outside the reconstructed ruin of the building stand four statues on high pediments: Wisdom, Study, Understanding, and Knowledge. These are all female figures, much deteriorated by more than 2,000 years of sun and rain, but I could reach up and touch the bare toes of Sophia, Wisdom.

In the same way I discovered a pair of portal lions outside the Ancient Oriental Museum in Istanbul. These were Hittite in origin and about 3,500 years old. I was able to examine both of them completely and compare them to a more recent portal lion inside the museum. The comparison taught me a lot about how a civilization grows in the sophistication of its artistic conception and execution. I found these small insights and experiences extremely meaningful.

The other thing I found is far more difficult to put into words. It was profoundly moving to stand and walk in spaces that had so much history associated with them. At Delphi we climbed to the Temple of Apollo and the treasure houses. We walked along the Sacred Way, and I could imagine all the people who had come to consult the Delphic Oracle, prepared to be guided absolutely by what they heard. Greek drama is filled with references to the Oracle, and I found just walking through these ruins stirring. But then the guide suggested that those who had the strength and interest could climb higher and see the small theater, where Greek plays were performed for visitors, who sat on stone benches that marched up the hillside around three sides of the amphitheater. We started up the irregular steps and pathway, and there it was. I could stand in the center of the stage and clap my hands to hear the acoustics of the space. I could sit on the uncomfortable benches and imagine what it would have been like to watch a play unfolding right in front of me.

Then we climbed even higher and found the stadium, where athletic contests took place. It was close to 100 degrees that day, and I simply could not conceive of doing more than collapsing on a stone bench at the top. Maybe in April one could run races or throw a discus after climbing that hill, but to have under my hands the proof that men had carried stones up that far and built an entire stadium for athletes to perform in was astonishing.

Most of the people in our tour group went peacefully down to wait for us at the little museum and simply asked us what the theater and stadium had been like. I would not have missed climbing up to experience it for myself for anything.

Did I enjoy this tour? I had a wonderful time! Did I miss seeing the things I couldn't touch? Of course. But my nine days of tours and shopping were full of wonderful experiences. When Bob and I were buying a Turkish rug, I got a hands-on demonstration of how these double-knotted rugs are made. The other people in our tour only got to watch a demonstration from a distance. The bazaars were filled with exotic odors and sounds, shouting vendors, and a dozen languages. Nothing in my life has been remotely like it. The poverty of the people in Istanbul was painfully obvious. The exchange rate was 1,350,000 lira to one dollar. A year ago it was 700,000, so their money is being devalued at a rate I cannot conceive of. I think it is important to be reminded every so often of just how fortunate we in this country really are. I recognize that I am very lucky, and I am very grateful for this trip that taught me so many new things.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: A ship taking on water fast][From:]

.Davy Jones's Locker

by Peggy Elliott

From the Editor: Periodically Peggy Elliott, Second Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind and President of the NFB of Iowa, reports on the recent fortunes of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and the Visually Impaired (NAC). New personnel have taken over the leadership of NAC (see the August/September 2002 issue of the Braille Monitor for the details). Other than that, not much has happened until recent months. Here is Peggy's report of what is now going on:

Avid readers are familiar with numerous wonderful sea stories, from those about Horatio Hornblower through the Mutiny on the Bounty trilogy and Two Years Before the Mast to the modern Patrick O'Brien sea thrillers. Every such reader knows that a central character in each of these books is the ship itself--her layout, rigging, decks, holds, berths, spars, and tiller. Whether the ship is a China clipper or a British sailing ship or an intrepid American vessel rounding the Horn or becalmed in the horse latitudes, that ship is a central character. But there is another character in these books, rarely spoken of but always, always present: Davy Jones. Davy and his locker, graveyard of ships and men on the bottom of the vast and empty sea, are constant companions of those who sail the bounding main.

Another story with which Federationists are all familiar is the story of NAC (the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and the Visually Impaired). When NAC comes to mind, one way of thinking about it is to liken NAC to a sailing ship.

The Good Ship NAC was once a proud craft with sails rigged and taut, all decks holystoned and gleaming, all fittings bright and shining as it sailed forth, accrediting agencies port and starboard. As Federationists know, the Good Ship NAC defined its universe of agencies as around 500, and at high tide NAC briefly accredited over 100 of these. But that Good Ship NAC is no more.

As we have followed the adventures of NAC through the years, its sails have ripped away in the tempestuous weather of public opinion, its masts have shuddered and snapped, and its decks have buckled, riddled from within by worms and rot. Many have thought that the ship could not sail another week, let alone another year, but the Good Ship NAC has somehow stayed afloat, moving between minor ports of call and limping from one year's end to the next, barely above the surface. More than one of us has thought that NAC was about to join the brave ships vanquished by Horatio Hornblower and dispatched to Davy Jones's Locker.

The almost-ghostly Good Ship NAC suddenly appeared last summer at the National Federation of the Blind convention, assuring everyone that the ship was still seaworthy and, in fact, about to get a complete overhaul and re-fitting with a new executive director. Most of us shook our heads and muttered about rotten planks and water in the bilges. Then we heard from the high plains of America that NAC was making a serious bid to provide accreditation to the Colorado School for the Blind. Here is the story as told by Diane McGeorge, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado:

Early in September members of the NFB of Colorado learned that the Colorado School for the Blind was considering becoming accredited by NAC. We were told that they had received self-study materials, which they were reviewing. After learning this information, NFB members and officers decided it was of the utmost importance that we schedule a meeting with the superintendent, Dr. Marilyn Jaitly, and others of her staff, who were looking at the possibility of accrediting the school for the blind using NAC. We met with her; David Farrell, the principal of the School for the Blind; and Doug Miles, chairman of the school's board of directors. The meeting was cordial, and we outlined our concerns about such an accreditation. We also asked if we might meet with the full board, and that meeting took place one week later. Once again the meeting was cordial.

We were very pleased to receive the following letter announcing their decision. Through cooperation like this we are able to inform potential NAC members about our deep concerns and allow them to make informed, wise decisions. Our relationship with the school here in Colorado has been one of mutual respect and support, and we are confident that it will continue to be so.

Here is the letter mentioned by Diane in its entirety:

Colorado Department of Education

Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind

Colorado Springs, Colorado

December 3, 2001

Diane McGeorge, President

National Federation of the Blind of Colorado

Littleton, Colorado

Dear Diane:

Although you may have heard, this letter is to formally let you know that we have decided to pursue national accreditation through North Central Association (NCA) and will not pursue accreditation through NAC.

Our main reason for this decision was that we felt that NAC self-study guidelines did not integrate well with the accreditation indicators.

I appreciate your continued interest and support in those matters that concern the future of CSDB. Have a wonderful and restful holiday season.


Marilyn Jaitly, Ph.D., Superintendent

Colorado Department of Education

Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind

NAC now accredits only eleven of the seventy-one schools for the blind in the entire country, and the last new accreditation of a school was in 1990. True to its current decrepit condition, the Good Ship NAC still has no port of call in Colorado, one of the thirty states that can boast a NAC-free environment.

Since the Monitor last looked in on the Good Ship NAC in late 1999, when NAC had forty-six accredited agencies in the U.S., high seas have buffeted her leaky hull, and fierce winds have rolled her almost onto her beam ends. In those two years four more agencies (in Georgia, Iowa, New York, and Tennessee) have severed their association with NAC by failing to re-accredit, while three small agencies (in Florida, Missouri, and Ohio), which can only be described as risk-takers, have climbed aboard the old tub. The Good Ship NAC now has forty-five accredited agencies, a net loss of one since 1999. Thirty states are now entirely NAC-free, and thirteen more have only one NAC agency apiece within their borders. This leaves thirty-two agencies concentrated in nine states.

So let us shift our attention to a southeastern seaboard state to see if the Good Ship NAC is faring any better there. For years it has been apparent that a significant percentage of the agencies accredited by NAC were located in one state, Florida. The number has remained at about 25 percent of the total, which would prove, if one were to believe NAC's propaganda, that Florida's blind are the best served in the country. Blind Florida residents have steadily disputed this contention, so skeptics have sought an explanation for this phenomenon other than quality of service.

We have now uncovered that explanation. Florida's agency serving the blind has had a long practice of contracting with numerous small city-or regional-based agencies to provide services. Until recently, although there was no requirement under Florida law, the agency mandated, as a part of the individual contracting process with agencies, that the agency be accredited. Again, no requirement for NAC specifically, but using NAC services gradually became a widely held inclination among Florida agency personnel as its accreditation became hallowed by history and practice until it felt like a requirement, and directors of the contracting agencies using NAC in Florida explained their accrediting choice to themselves and their constituencies as a requirement. In point of fact, CARF accreditation would always have been accepted, even in the old days under the technical requirement for some sort of accreditation. In reality, although everyone believed and told each other that NAC was required, it was never true.

Florida is now changing its contracting process and is developing state-based standards to govern this procedure. It appears that the state agency has finally noticed that NAC is an outside agency, and one applying standards not particularly relevant to the provision of services in limited geographical areas within Florida. The state agency is designing and planning to implement its own guidelines for the agencies with which it contracts. Apparently in order to clarify all this history and intention, the director of the agency for the blind last year wrote the following letter:

Florida Department of Education

Division of Blind Services

May 30, 2001

Mr. Allen Bornstein

CVI Board President

Ormond Beach, Florida

Dear Mr. Bornstein:

At this time the Division of Blind Services does not require accreditation in order to contract to provide services. While we recognize the value of accreditation as a general concept, we have not adopted any procedures for evaluating those offering accreditation. In other words, we cannot say with any degree of certainty that accreditation by any particular agency means anything in terms of assuring good services.

We are working on developing our own internal ability to review and evaluate services provided by contractors. Therefore, while we do not require accreditation, we are not advising or urging that you seek or not seek accreditation on your own. Such a decision is a management decision to be made by your board.

Very truly,

S. Craig Kiser


There you have the gentle, temperate language of the state agency director politely exploding the myth that NAC is required or provably useful in Florida. It would appear that the Good Ship NAC will soon find even its small ports of call in Florida unwelcoming.

Many a good ship has struggled valiantly, only to find its ultimate resting place on the bottom of the sea. When its power of locomotion, its superstructure, its very ribs and keel are destroyed by the work of worms or time or weather or other superior force, that ship sinks to the bottom and lies there for all eternity. The Good Ship NAC has now made an unsuccessful bid for a berth in Colorado and is about to lose its vaunted place in Florida. We can only hope that soon the Good Ship NAC will quietly sink into the deep and join its fellows in Davy Jones's Locker. Farewell, good ship.

Trouble in the West Virginia Business Enterprise Program

From the Editor: The following article first appeared in the Friday, January 4, 2002, edition of the Charleston Gazette. West Virginia is one of the last states to conduct its Randolph-Sheppard Program through a nominee agency. The Society for the Blind, according to NFB of West Virginia President Ed McDonald, is a creature of the state agency, and its sole responsibility is to manage the vending program. Here is the story of mismanagement and paternalism gone astray:

Rehab Pays Back Taxes, Penalties

by Fanny Seiler

A state agency has paid $525,000 in back state and federal taxes because it was fiscally responsible for a non-profit group that manages the financial affairs of blind vendors operating concession stands in public buildings.

State officials say the money paid by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation included interest and penalties on unpaid state sales taxes and Social Security matching taxes owed by the Society for the Blind over the last three to four years.

Two people, former Society for the Blind director David Naylor and Mary Hill, were fired in November, according to assistant division director Penney Hall. The two had been working for about the last year in the division's accounting section. Naylor had been the director for about five years.

Hall said the taxes weren't paid "because the Society didn't have the funds." Naylor didn't let the division know that the Society's problems were that bad, she said.

The thirty-three blind vendors around the state collect the sales taxes at their concession stands. They turn all the money they take in on sales, including taxes, to the Society, which pays them a salary in turn. The division didn't know the taxes hadn't been paid, Hall said, until the Internal Revenue Service sent a notice in early 2001 that it intended to levy certain assets. At the time the Society owed the U.S. Treasury $154,325.93.

That amount was paid last March, along with $268,954 in sales taxes to the state Tax Division. Hall said the overall total paid was $525,000. Having to take the money out of this year's budget and having to come up with money to give its employees a pay raise next fiscal year has left the division facing a financial crisis, Hall said.

She said the division would ask the Legislature for a $269,000 supplemental appropriation for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. The division will also ask for a $382,000 increase for next fiscal year to give pay raises, she said.

Ted Shanklin, director of the Legislature's Post-Audit Division, said his agency has been trying to reconstruct financial records for the Society for more than six months. Shanklin is assisting the Legislature's Commission on Special Investigations.

In the meantime the Society's board commissioned the accounting firm of Suttle & Stalnaker to do a fiscal management review. The firm issued a large report that identified quite a few deficiencies on internal control, one state official said.

Hall said the report couldn't be made public, but the division has been looking at ways to change the Society's program. "The current way the program is set up is not working very efficiently," she said.

The Society was set up under the federal Randolph-Sheppard Act, which intended for the blind vendors to run their own concessions as a small business after they received training, Hall said. Instead, the blind vendors have become employees of the Society after they are trained.

Hall said a training site at the division's Rehabilitation Center in Institute is going to be closed temporarily because it is losing several thousand dollars yearly. She said another training site exists at the Kanawha County Courthouse.

The division is also looking at how the blind vendors receive the goods they sell, and whether an existing warehouse through which the items are received is better than having the items purchased directly from suppliers. Hall said the division is also exploring whether blind vendors should run their own business in the future, with existing vendors given the option to own their own business or remain on salary.

.More from the Technology Mail Basket

From the Editor: Following is another e-mail exchange that will interest parents of blind children and blind computer users. Curtis Chong is the NFB Director of Technology. He recently received an e-mail message raising questions about computer games for blind children. Here is the correspondence:

December 7, 2001

In the article "Technology‑Acquisition Strategies for Young Blind Students," an alert and dedicated teacher stated to Curtis Chong in an e‑mail that she had a blind six‑year‑old who could access the games "Grizzly Gulch Western Extravaganza" (Bavisoft) and "Mobius Mountain" and "A 2 Z" (PCS) on a computer. I found this statement interesting because I had assumed that most software for kids would be inaccessible to the blind due to extensive need for mouse use and extensive use of graphics to communicate to the child.

I have no children myself but work in technical support for a living. I myself am a blind computer user. I have noticed NFB suing AOL for access, but what are we doing for blind children's access to popular games? Does NFB keep a list of games which work well with JAWS and are made by mainstream software vendors for children? Because getting blind adults employed is an important priority, scripts for Word, Excel, and other office applications can be found in JFW and ASAW. Adult toys are supported too in the form of Winamp and chat clients such as MSN. I don't think I've ever seen a script for a children's software title included with a screen reader.

I hope this isn't coming off as confrontational or accusatory. I'm honestly curious. I'm sure there are parents with blind children who would be interested to know as well.


Michael Malver

December 13, 2001

Dear Mr. Malver:

I am in receipt of your e-mail dated December 7, 2001, in which you raise questions about the accessibility of computer games to blind children and the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to promote access to these games. You refer in your e-mail to an article entitled "Technology‑Acquisition Strategies for Young Blind Students," which appeared in the December, 2001, issue of the Braille Monitor. More specifically, you mention computer games which, according to the article, are being used by a bright blind six‑year‑old child: "Grizzly Gulch Western Extravaganza" from and "Mobius" and "A 2 Z" from Personal Computer Systems (PCS). You say that the mention of these games in the article sparked your interest because you had assumed that computer games, which make extensive use of computer graphics and the mouse, were inaccessible to children who are blind.

I regret to say that your assumption with respect to computer games is right on the mark. In large part, commercial, off‑the‑shelf computer games, whether designed for children or adults, are not usable by someone who is blind. Neither, for that matter, is educational courseware designed to reinforce speech, math, and other concepts. The games mentioned in the article were designed specifically for the blind and are thus fully nonvisually accessible. In fact, they are so nonvisual in nature that they hold no appeal for anyone who can see the screen. For example, consider the "Grizzly Gulch Western Extravaganza" game. While it contains a "virtual audio" environment that is hard to beat (an environment, by the way, which many blind people find quite intriguing), the computer screen remains static throughout the entire game. People who are accustomed to interacting with the computer visually find the game quite unexciting. Perhaps the biggest problem with computer games for the blind is that they do not encourage active play and competition between the blind and the sighted, let alone with other blind players. Instead they are generally set up for one person to play against the computer. This is an area which could use some attention.

You asked what the National Federation of the Blind is doing to promote access to commercial, off‑the‑shelf games for blind children. We are doing what we can to improve access to these games, but we must balance our priorities. We are actively engaged in a variety of efforts to ensure that blind children receive an education on a par with their sighted peers. Part of that education involves access to computer games, but there are also other issues which require attention. The quality and availability of Braille instruction in the classroom must be dramatically improved; the fact that only a small percentage of blind children in this country are taught Braille is a national tragedy.

More and better technology must be made available to blind children as well as providing the knowledge and expertise to use it; we hear numerous horror stories about school districts spending thousands of dollars to buy technology for their blind students, only to find that, once the technology arrives, there is no one with the technical expertise to set it up.

There must be an easier way to produce Braille textbooks‑‑one which allows the blind student to receive properly formatted and transcribed Brailled material on time; being able to obtain electronic copies of textbooks supplied by the publishers might be the answer.

Where should access to games be placed when considering these issues? We promote access to games whenever and wherever we can, but we never forget that the overriding objective must be for blind children to receive the kind of education they need in order to compete effectively in a world largely designed for the sighted.

Thank you for writing to us to raise an important question‑‑namely, access by blind children to computer games. Please be assured that I do not regard your e-mail as either confrontational or accusatory. Far from it. You have caused me to do some serious thinking in this area, and for that I thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Curtis Chong, Director of Technology

National Federation of the Blind

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


Home Address:_______________________________

City, State, and Zip:_______________________

Home Phone: ________________________________

Work Phone:_________________________________

E-mail address:_____________________________


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: __________________

Public Notice of Settlement Agreement

From the Editor: The Braille Monitor has agreed to publish the following notice in order to assure that members of the blindness community are aware of the terms of the settlement agreement. Here it is:



Case No. 00-14017-CIV-MOORE

Magistrate Judge Lynch

ACCESS NOW, INC., and SHERI KOORS, on their own behalf and on behalf of all those similarly situated, Plaintiffs, vs. CLAIRE'S STORES, INC., and CLAIRE'S BOUTIQUES, INC. Defendants.



All retail store establishments owned and/or operated by defendants, CLAIRE'S STORES, INC., and CLAIRE'S BOUTIQUES, INC., which are located in any state, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 12102(3), and which, without limitation, operate under any of the following names: Claire's, Claire's Boutiques, Claire's Etc., Claire's Accessories, Icing, Icing by Claire's, Afterthoughts, Dara Michelle, Topkapi, L’Accessories, Accessory Place, Joan Bari, Velvet Pixies, Carimar, and Reflexions.

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 Michael Moore, United States District Judge, in Miami-Dade County, Florida on the 2nd day of May, 2002, at 2:15 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.


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 CLAIRE'S STORES, INC., and CLAIRE'S BOUTIQUES ("CLAIRES") own and operate the premises listed above. The plaintiffs further claim that the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181 et seq., requires modifications to those premises 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. Sheri Koors 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 premises 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.


CLAIRES admits that it owns and operates certain of the premises that are the subject of this action but denies that Title III of the ADA requires modification of those premises or any other relief. CLAIRES, however, desires to enhance the accessibility of its premises for individuals with disabilities recognized under the ADA, and to avoid litigation in which plaintiffs claim that defendant's premises are not accessible to individuals with disabilities recognized under the ADA.

Plaintiffs and CLAIRES have reached a settlement agreement for the purpose of satisfying the goals of both the plaintiffs and CLAIRES. 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, CLAIRES has agreed that it will make substantial modifications to its premises and to its policies and practices relating to those premises in order to enhance their accessibility to individuals with disabilities. The plaintiffs have agreed that they will not seek further modifications of the premises that are the subject of this action. The plaintiffs and CLAIRES have further agreed that future premises and alterations to existing or future premises 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 CLAIRES, 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 CLAIRES 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., Sheri Koors, Claire's Stores, Inc. and Claire's Boutiques, Inc., 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 therefor 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. Counsel to be served: Matthew W. Dietz, P.L., Attorney for Access Now, Inc., & Sheri Koors, Brickell Bayview Centre, Suite 1920, 80 Southwest 8th Street, Miami, Florida 33130, (305) 381-7999; (305) 381-8203 fax; and Robert S. Fine, Greenberg Traurig, P.A., Attorney for Claires, 1221 Brickell Ave., Miami, Florida 33131, (305) 579-0826, (305) 579-0717 fax.

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.


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, Florida 33128.


[PHOTO/CAPTION: Mabel Nading, July 26, 1914, to January 7, 2002]

Mabel Nading, a Good Friend

by Ramona Walhof

From the Editor: On January 7, 2002, Mabel Nading died quietly in a nursing home in Iowa. She was eighty-seven and had outlived her husband by a number of years. She had no surviving family members, but she left many, many friends, colleagues and former students, who treasured her friendship and her devotion to teaching Braille. One of those friends was Ramona Walhof, with whom Mrs. Nading wrote a Braille-teaching text still used today, since it is possible to teach oneself the Braille code using this book and the cassette that goes with it. Ramona Walhof is Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind. Here is Mrs. Walhof's recollection of Mabel Nading


I wish I could remember all the stories Mabel told, and I wish I had heard them all. She loved to tell how it was for blind people when she was a child and young adult, and she had a good memory. Even though my recollection of Mabel doesn't go back that far, there is much I can tell about her.

She was a member of the Federation for sixty years. Her first National Convention was in 1942 in Des Moines. Mabel remembered when blind people were hired to work in factories during World War II. They were then laid off at the end of the war when the veterans came home. She recalled people who were supposed to provide services to the blind in the 40's and early 50's but who took it upon themselves to do marriage and other sorts of counseling that we regard today as inappropriate.

Her husband Gene was a vendor for twenty years or so, while Mabel first worked as a Dictaphone transcriber. She used a British form of Braille shorthand written on tape with a one‑cell six‑key writer. She was first hired by Dr. Jernigan as a Dictaphone typist, probably in 1959. Because her skill in reading and writing Braille was excellent, she was promoted to become the Braille teacher in the Orientation and Adjustment Center. When I was a student in 1962, I took lessons in Braille shorthand from Mrs. Nading and have used much of what I learned ever since.

Before long she had memorized the Braille textbooks she used and could follow word for word what several students were reading while she crocheted. She made capes and afghans for friends, many of whom still have the afghans. She also made many kinds of candy at Christmas time. She would spread fudge, pralines, divinity, and I can't remember them all, out on a table in the Braille Room and invite staff and students to drop in and enjoy it. The candy lasted two or three days, and no one was shy about helping himself or herself.

Mrs. Nading loved to travel and was curious about new places and ideas. One of the high points of her life was her trip with Jan Ray to Europe in the 1970's to the international meeting of the International Federation of the Blind.

When the student load was heavy in the 1970's, I also taught Braille in the Iowa Commission for the Blind Orientation and Adjustment Center. Both Mrs. Nading and I wanted a better textbook, so we wrote one, Beginning Braille for Adults. It was produced on the press in the Library, but we helped to collate the pages. I'll never forget Mrs. Nading's pride at the speed with which her students were able to learn all the Braille symbols and begin reading library books. One student learned the code in three weeks, and that became the goal for others. Of course Mabel and I found mistakes in our book, and we dreamed of writing a corrected edition, but it never happened.

When Dr. Jernigan asked her to take charge of the NFB Information Desk at the National Convention sometime in the 1960's, I believe, she was reluctant to do it for fear she would not be up to the task. As he did with many others, Dr. Jernigan talked her into it, and she was completely able to do the work. She continued to carry out this responsibility for twenty years and was conscientious and proud of her work.

Her skill in Braille was outstanding, but it was only one of her accomplishments. The person I remember was a hard‑working, enthusiastic woman, a friend to many, and a teacher to hundreds.


This month's recipes come from members of the NFB of Maryland. Throughout the affiliate food auctions are a popular fund-raiser. The following recipes were submitted by cooks whose products have a great reputation. They make every auction a huge success.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Amy Herstein]

Coconut Custard Pie

by Amy Herstein


Amy is a freshman at Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City, Maryland. She is an active member of both the Central Maryland and Greater Baltimore Chapters. She will be a future leader in the NFB of Maryland too. The following recipe produces a best-seller at our auctions:


4 eggs

6 tablespoons margarine or butter

1/2 cup flour

2 cups milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup coconut

Method: Combine all ingredients in blender and blend for several seconds. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch pie pan (you can also use two 8-inch pans). Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for fifty to sixty minutes. This pie forms its own crust.

Minari Mari (Rolled Ham)

by Amy Herstein

One of Amy's hobbies is cooking Korean food. Here is a Korean recipe.


20 slices of Parma ham (may substitute thinly sliced honey-baked ham)

20 stalks Japanese parsley or green onions

20 pine nuts

Dipping Sauce Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Method: Thoroughly wash Japanese parsley and cut off the roots. Bring salted water to a boil. Add parsley, root ends first. Blanch quickly, drain off boiling water, immerse immediately in cold water and drain. Roll up each slice of ham jelly-roll fashion. Lay one stalk of Japanese parsley on the counter, and place one piece of rolled ham across it at the root end. Then roll the two together tightly so that the parsley forms a belt around the center of the ham roll. Arrange on plate, seam side down. Top each with a pine nut. Mix ingredients for dipping sauce. Yields four to six servings.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Ellen Ringlein]

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

by Ellen Ringlein

Ellen Ringlein is an instructor in the rehabilitation department of Blind Industries and Services of Maryland. She is an active member of the Greater Baltimore Chapter. Each year at Christmas time, chapter members celebrate the holiday by having a dinner called the Christmas Repast. Members make their favorite recipe to share with the group. There is a contest for the best entrée, best side dish, or best dessert. Ellen is a frequent winner of this contest. Ellen said, "A good friend shared this recipe with me thirteen years ago, and I've had success with it ever since. It's easy, and everyone loves it. I even won the Greater Baltimore Chapter dessert contest at the Christmas repast in 1993 with it."


1 package lemon cake mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons or more poppy seeds

Method: Combine all ingredients and beat with electric mixer until thoroughly blended. Pour into greased baking pan of appropriate size. Bake at 350 degrees for forty to fifty minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cajun Skillet Beans

by Ellen Ringlein

Ellen said, "This colorful and flavorful recipe comes from one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, which is available in Braille. This dish is also a Greater Baltimore Chapter Christmas Repast winner, this time in the side-dish category. Everyone at the Fat Tuesday feasts at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland loves these beans, too."


1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, pressed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 celery stalks (about 1 cup chopped)

2 bell peppers, 1 red and 1 green (about 1-1/2 cups chopped)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or more to taste

Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of salt

1 14-1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 16 ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained

Optional: chopped scallions and/or grated cheddar cheese

Method: In a heavy saucepan or skillet, sauté the onions and garlic in the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped celery and peppers to the pan and continue to sauté for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme, basil, oregano, black pepper, cayenne, and salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden, stirring once or twice. Add the tomatoes, honey, and mustard, and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the beans, cover, stir occasionally until thoroughly heated. Serve topped with chopped scallions and/or grated cheddar cheese.

Apple Dapple Cake

by Phyllis Jean Freeman

Phyllis is an active member of the Greater Baltimore Chapter who also finds time to do volunteer work at the National Center once a week. She is also a senior citizen who demonstrates that life goes on after blindness. The following recipe yields another bestseller at our auctions.


3 eggs

1 1/2 cups oil (Crisco)

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chopped walnuts

3 cups chopped apples

Method: Mix all ingredients together, pour into greased floured tube pan. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. The following sauce should be poured over the cake after it comes out of the oven, while it is still warm. You can prepare the sauce while the cake is baking.

Sauce Ingredients:

1 stick butter

1/4 cup milk

1 cup brown sugar firmly packed

Method: Place ingredients in sauce pan. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling. Pour sauce over cake.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Tom Bickford]

Overnight Buttermilk Biscuits

by Tom Bickford

Tom Bickford is a long-time leader in the NFB of Maryland. Monitor readers know him through his excellent articles. Here is one of his family's favorite recipes. It makes about three and a half dozen biscuits when he uses muffin pans. Cut the quantities in half if you have a smaller group to feed.


1/4 cup sugar

8 tablespoons margarine (1 stick)

4 cups buttermilk

8-10 cups flour

2 5/8-ounce packages dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

Method: Cream together the sugar and margarine. (I use a fork.) Sift the remaining dry ingredients with the first two cups of flour just to get them all in and well mixed. Alternately combine some flour and buttermilk to the sugar/margarine mix. Use all the buttermilk and enough flour to form a soft and slightly moist dough. Place dough in a covered, not sealed, container in refrigerator for anywhere from four hours to two weeks. The dough will rise while it is cold. Use some or all of the dough any time after that. After the dough is removed from the refrigerator, it takes about an hour to rise in a warm place. I have used a baking sheet for drop biscuits or muffin pans. Lightly grease the pan. Dough will double in about an hour. Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes. After baking, extra biscuits may be stored frozen and reheated.

[PHOTO/CAPTION:  The Porthole Portrait of George Washington by Rembrandt Peale][From Gustavus A. Eisen, Portraits of Washington, vol. II (New York: Robert Hamilton & Associates, 1932), 416.]

George Washington's Eggnog

contributed by Don Morris

Don Morris is a long-time leader of the NFB of Maryland and one of the most active purchasers of baked goods in NFB of Maryland auctions. He found this recipe recently, supposedly written in George Washington's own words, and offered it to Monitor readers:


1 quart cream

1 quart milk

1 dozen eggs

1 tablespoon sugar

1 pint brandy

1/2 pint rye whisky

1/2 pint Jamaican rum

1 quarter pint sherry

Method: Mix liquors together first. Separate yolks and whites of eggs. Add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add liquor to beaten yolks, drop by drop first, slowly beat. Add cream and milk, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in a cool place for several days; taste frequently.


Monitor Miniatures


Dialysis at National Convention

During this year's convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Louisville Wednesday, July 3, through Tuesday, July 9, dialysis will be available. Those requiring dialysis must have a transient patient packet and physician's statement filled out prior to treatment. Conventioneers must have their unit contact the desired location in the Louisville area for instructions well in advance. The convention will take place at the Galt House Hotel, 140 N. Fourth Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202.

Individuals will be responsible for and must pay out of pocket prior to each treatment the approximately $30 not covered by Medicare plus any additional physician's fees and any charges for other medications.

Dialysis centers should set up transient dialysis locations at least six to eight weeks in advance. This helps assure a location for anyone wanting to dialyze. There are many centers in the Louisville area, but the area is quite large, so we strongly recommend early reservations. Here are some dialysis locations:

Renal Care Group, Inc., 635 South Third Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202; telephone (502) 561-1314. About one-half mile from hotel.

BMA Dialysis, 720 East Broadway, Louisville, Kentucky 40202; telephone (502) 584-3021. About one-half mile from hotel.

University of Louisville Kidney Disease Program, 615 Preston Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40292; telephone: (502) 852-5757. About one-half mile from hotel.

BMA of Southern Indiana, 525 Broadway, Jeffersonville, Indiana 47130; telephone (812) 282-0420. About two miles from hotel.

Please remember to schedule dialysis treatments early to ensure space. If scheduling assistance is needed, have your dialysis unit's social worker contact Ed Bryant, Diabetes Action Network president, telephone (573) 875-8911. See you in Louisville.

Book Now Available from NLS and RFB and D:

In the April, 2001, issue of the Braille Monitor, Carol Castellano reviewed the book titled Prenatal Testing and Disability Rights, edited by Erik Parens and Federationist Adrienne Asch. This book contains a range of views on the complex question of prenatal testing and selective abortion after diagnosis of disability, and as Deborah Kent points out in her contribution to the book, this question can affect many of us in thinking about our own quality of life. This book is now available in Braille from the National Library Service (BR013232) and on tape from Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.

We hope that Federationists will avail themselves of the opportunity to read this set of discussions of cutting‑edge blindness and disability issues.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Scott and Anahit LaBarre]

Wedding Bells:

We are delighted to report the marriage on January 5, 2002, of NFB of Denver President and longtime Federation leader Scott LaBarre and Anahit Galechyan, who came to the Colorado Center for the Blind from Armenia last spring for training. She had planned to return home following her CCB training, but instead her parents flew to Denver for the wedding. Many Federationists took part in the ceremony and the festivities. Congratulations to the newlyweds.


At its December 2 meeting, the NFB of Maine elected officers for the coming year. They are Steve Hoad, President; John Batron, First Vice President; Brent Batron, Second Vice President; Ann Dill, Secretary; and Amy Nunan, Treasurer.

Hoping to Buy:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I am looking for a functional Sharp talking calculator and am willing to pay for one that you no longer need. If you have one, please contact Jose Duvall, (803) 786-7864, 728 Summit Avenue, Columbia, South Carolina 29203.

Recycled Cassettes Needed:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Christian Services for the Blind in Pasadena, California, can recycle cassettes for use in its recorded publications. A catalog of Braille and recorded publications is also available to those interested in borrowing them. For more information contact Dr. Franklin Tucker, Executive Director, (626) 799-3935, e-mail: <[email protected]>. Send cassettes free matter for the blind to Christian Services for the Blind, P. O. Box 26, Pasadena, California 91030-0026.

Look out South Carolina:

The Georgia affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind already has one completely sold-out chartered bus to the 2002 NFB National Convention. We are chartering a second bus. If you live in Georgia or a neighboring state, reserve your seat today. Seats are only $20 per person round‑trip to Louisville, Kentucky. The bus will leave Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, July 2, and return on Wednesday, July 9. For more information call the NFB of Georgia, South Fulton Chapter, Stephanie Scott, President, at (404) 763‑1551 or toll-free at 1‑866‑999‑6324.

Win a Quilt:

The South Fulton Chapter of the NFB of Georgia wants to extend an opportunity to you to win a hand-crafted, beautifully designed NFB quilt. The quilt is woven in the colors of the American Flag: red, white, and blue. The NFB logo is in blue, surrounded by white, with a 20-inch trim in red. Donations are only $2 per entry. Don't let this opportunity pass you by. Mail your donation to National Federation of the Blind of Georgia, South Fulton Chapter, P. O. Box 1767, Atlanta, Georgia 30301. The drawing will take place April 1, 2002. For more details call (404) 763‑1551, or e‑mail us at <[email protected]>. Thank you for your support.

New Chapter:

In November of 2001 the Gray Chapter of the NFB of Maine was formed. In a meeting moderated by Colorado visitor Diane McGeorge, the following officers were elected: President, Brent Batron; Vice President, John Batron; Secretary, Ena Haveta; and Treasurer, Mike Jacubouis.

Another New Chapter:

January 6 saw the birth of perhaps the first new NFB chapter of 2002. It happened in the NFB of Maine. The Augusta Area Chapter was formed with the following officers elected: Steve Sawczyn, President; Amy Nunan, Vice President; Steve Hoad, Secretary; and David Van Wickler, Treasurer. These officers and other members of the chapter hope you'll be joining us for a meeting if you visit the Augusta area.


The NFB of North Carolina's Mecklenburg Chapter held its election on November 17 with the following new officers: Muriel Brown, President; Mabel Conder, Vice President; Hazel Staley, Secretary; Janis Lynn Stallings, Treasurer; and John Brown and Pat Robbins, Board Members.

Items for Sale:

The Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of Ohio is excited to announce that it has for sale the following items:

*NFB rhinestone pins: these pins are high-quality Austrian crystal. The pin has the letters NFB written in clear crystals approximately 1 inch high. The pins sell for $8 at the convention or $8.50 including shipping.

*Guide Dog Pins: these dog's head pins are also Austrian crystal. (The dog looks like a Lab.) They also cost $8 at convention and $8.50 shipped.

*NFB T‑shirts: these shirts come in Adult sizes L‑XL‑XXL with a choice of orange or gray/green. They also come in kid sizes medium and large in orange or bright neon green. The front of the shirt says, "I LEARNED MY ABC'S FROM THE NFB. A‑ATTITUDE B‑BRAILLE C‑CANE SKILLS." The back of the shirt says "DO YOU KNOW YOUR ABC'S?" These shirts are available at the convention for $10 and $12 shipped. Contact Crystal McClain, President, Parents of Blind Children of Ohio at <[email protected]> or (937) 599‑5782 to order. Remember we will be at the Ohio booth at the 2002 national convention.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Karen Mayry]


National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota President Karen Mayry and Ponderosa Chapter President Clayton Hyde were recognized during the Modern Woodmen dinner on November 12, 2001, for their volunteerism with the blind of South Dakota. Modern Woodmen, a fraternal organization, has agreed to match candy-wreath fund-raising profits up to $2,500. The award states the following: "With appreciation, Modern Woodmen of America recognizes Karen S. Mayry and Clayton Hyde. You believe in community service, and so do we. As a fraternal life insurance organization dedicated to the future of American families, we recognize your accomplishments and appreciate your contributions of volunteer community service.


The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the NFB of Pennsylvania elected officers for the new year. They are Gus Jasper, President; Donna Jones, Vice President; Yvonne Mason, Treasurer; Blanche Moore, Secretary; Lois Holmes, Corresponding Secretary; and Claudia Scott, Eileen Jasper, Dolly Singh, and Russell Smith, Board Members.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I have a black-and-white thirteen-inch-screen Visual Tech for sale. It has an adjustable reading tray. This machine is thirteen years old and in very good condition. It has had only one repair. I am asking $475 or best offer. Contact Gary Posch, Jr., 1110 Greenleaf Drive, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18017. Phone 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., EST, (610) 866-7675.


At its fall meeting, members of the Syracuse Chapter of the NFB of New York elected Robert Miller, President; Wilbur Webb, Vice President; Linda Webb, Treasurer; Lucy Cox, Recording Secretary; and Judith Warner, Corresponding Secretary.

Pen Friends Wanted:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I am a Swedish woman of thirty-nine who has been visually impaired since 1982, and I want to correspond with members of your organization. I have two boys (thirteen and nine years old), and my hobbies are reading Talking Books, food and wine, music, and my house and friends. My new friends can e-mail me, Agneta Rennqvist, at <[email protected]>, or send me a letter to Agneta Rennqvist, Krokgatan 34, s‑784 52 Borlenge, Sweden.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Internal DECTalk PC card, comes with drivers and external speaker, asking $300 or best offer. CCTV, only three months old, 21-inch monitor sits on top of unit with removable table, asking $1,200 or best offer. If interested, call (804) 353-1128 or e-mail <[email protected]>.

In Memoriam:

We are sorry to report the death on November 23, 2001 of David Kostyshyn, creator of Window Bridge, the first speech-access program for Windows. Here is the letter Curtis Chong wrote to Mr. Kostyshyn's brother on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind:

January 18, 2002

Mr. Glen Kostyshyn

Stoney Creek, Ontario


Dear Mr. Kostyshyn:

I learned only yesterday of the passing last November of your brother David and the closing of Syntha-Voice Computers, Inc. My sympathy goes out to you and your family for the tragic loss of an outstanding person and a company which has contributed immeasurably to the cause of equal access by the blind to information.

Those of us who recall the long and painful struggle of the blind to be able just to use the same computers and software as their sighted peers will never forget that David and his company beat everybody else to the punch by coming out with the very first speech-output screen-reading program for the Windows operating system. David Kostyshyn and Syntha-Voice Computers should never be forgotten for the exemplary contribution made in this field.

Yours sincerely,

Curtis Chong, Director of Technology

National Federation of the Blind

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Perkins Brailler still in its original shipping box. Brailler and Braille paper are still in plastic wrapping. The Brailler has never been opened or used. I am asking $500. I'll accept cashier's checks or money orders.

If interested, please call or write Charles Dockery, 405 W. Waldron Street, Apt. 109, Corinth, Mississippi 38834, phone: (662) 286‑3335, or e-mail <[email protected]>.

Braille Transcription Services:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

We would like to take a moment to introduce you to an energetic and reliable Braille transcription service called AccessBraille. When you order from AccessBraille, all of your work is produced by a Library-of-Congress-certified Braille transcriptionist and mailed to you free of charge via UPS ground. We specialize in production of Braille textbooks, technical manuals, product catalogs, large-volume brochures, and other general literature requests.

Please visit <> or call (812) 339‑6351 to find out more valuable information about AccessBraille.

For Sale

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I have a Braille 'n Speak 2000 for sale. Asking $700, cables and manuals included. Please call Jerry, evenings after 6:00 p.m. Pacific time: (503) 761‑3133.

Summer Employment Opportunity:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Society for the Blind in Sacramento, California, is looking for college-age blind mentors for its Summer Youth Retreat held each year in the beautiful mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Two camp sessions will run between July 20 and August 9, 2002. Those applying should have experience working with blind teenagers twelve to eighteen years old, enjoy outdoor activities, actively use daily cane‑travel skills, have knowledge of Grade II Braille, be familiar with blindness access technologies, and use alternative techniques for cooking and home management.

If you are willing to share your skills, experience, and goals with teenagers who truly need the support of blind peer mentors, this is the job for you. Those who are interested may contact Debbie Bacon, Program Coordinator, Youth Enrichment Program, at (916) 452‑8271, ext. 305. Or you may e‑mail Debbie at <[email protected]> for an application and further information about the position, including stipend and travel expenses. This is your opportunity to create positive attitudes about blindness and bring about true youth metamorphosis by mentoring.

Close-Out Sale:

The NFB of Illinois has the perfect solution to groping willy-nilly in stacks or boxes of mixed tapes. For a mere $3 each you can have your very own attractive, compact, white vinyl cassette holder that accommodates a dozen cassettes. Our cassette holders come complete with clear sleeves front and back for print labels and ample space on the spine for Braille labels; but the supply is limited. Only a hundred or so remain.

Act now and avoid the dreaded cassette avalanche by sending a check or money order, made payable to the NFB of Illinois, in the amount of $3 for each cassette holder, to Stephen O. Benson, NFB of Illinois, 7020 N. Tahoma, Chicago, Illinois 60646.

Financial Security That Fits in a Pocket:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

BRYTECH's Note Teller 2 is a talking money identifier for blind and visually impaired people. It accepts both old- and new-series U.S. bank notes inserted in four orientations and announces the denomination in English or Spanish. Note Teller 2 is priced at $295 with a thirty-day money-back guarantee and six-month warranty.

For additional information and distributor list, contact Trish Hodge, BRYTECH, Inc., (800) 263-4095, Web: <>.

Challenge to Local Chapters:

Stephanie Scott, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia‑South Fulton Chapter, reports that her chapter is changing what it means to be blind by making a pledge to the NFB Capital Campaign of $30,000. They strongly encourage all other local chapters of the National Federation of the Blind to meet or beat this pledge.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, a Drawing:

The Diabetes Action Network of the National Federation of the Blind provides support and information to thousands of people. Because operating this valuable network and producing the Voice of the Diabetic costs a lot of money, we must generate funds to help cover these expenses. Our Diabetes Action Network has elected to hold a drawing, which will be coordinated by our division treasurer Bruce Peters.

The grand prize will be $500. The winning ticket will be drawn and the winner's name announced on July 8, 2002, at the banquet held during the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind.

Drawing tickets cost $1 each, or a book of six may be purchased for $5. Tickets may be purchased from state representatives of our Diabetes Action Network or by contacting the Voice Editorial Office, 1412 I-70 Drive SW, Suite C, Columbia, Missouri 65203; telephone, (573) 875-8911. Anyone interested in selling tickets should also contact the Voice Editorial Office. Tickets are available now. The names of those who sell fifty tickets or more will be announced in the Voice.

Please make checks payable to the National Federation of the Blind. Money and sold drawing ticket stubs must be mailed to the Voice office no later than June 10, 2002, or they can be personally delivered to drawing chairman Bruce Peters at this year's NFB convention in Louisville, Kentucky. This drawing is open to anyone age eighteen or older, and the holder of the lucky ticket need not be present to win. Each ticket sold is a donation, helping keep our Diabetes Action Network moving forward.

Piano and Guitar Lessons for the Visually Impaired:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

If you are interested in learning to play the piano or guitar without using music or Braille notation, audio courses are available through the Library of Congress's National Library Service. The courses are by Bill Brown. They are called "Intro to the Guitar for the Visually Impaired" and "Intro to the Piano for the Visually Impaired." Each course is made up of four Braille-labeled cassette tapes that come in a bookshelf-quality album. If you want to purchase either course directly from the publisher, you can call (229) 249-0628. The price of each course is $39, which includes shipping to any place in the USA.

The Library of Congress also has over 200 individual songs taught in the same fashion by Bill Brown. These can also be obtained through the National Library Service or directly from the publisher. For more information go to the publisher's Web site: <>.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Internal DECtalk PC card comes with drivers and external speaker, asking $300 or best offer. CCTV only three months old, twenty-one-inch monitor sits on top of unit with movable table, asking $1,200 or best offer.

If interested in either item, call (804) 353-1128 or e-mail: <[email protected]>.


The St. Louis Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri elected new officers for 2002. They are Loretta Boavidez, President; Rhonda Howard, Vice President; Kathy McCracken, Recording Secretary; Bryan Schultz, Treasurer; Kerry Smith, Corresponding Secretary; and Debbie Royce, member at large.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Abraham Nemeth]


The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) awarded its Creative Use of Braille Award to Federationist Dr. Abraham Nemeth for development of the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation. The code became official in the United States in 1952. It has since become official in Canada and New Zealand.

Dr. Nemeth, who was born totally blind in New York, New York, is now a retired professor of mathematics at the University of Detroit. He was instrumental in launching the institution's graduate program in computer science. He served as chair of the Michigan Commission for the Blind from 1991 to 1993. He has received numerous awards and honors over the years, including the American Foundation for the Blind's Migel Medal.

The Creative Use of Braille Award is given, when appropriate, to one or more individuals in recognition of a physical product, idea, method, or promotional effort that increases the availability or awareness of Braille. It must be currently in production or use. Congratulations to Dr. Nemeth.

Seeking Old Records, Etc.:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I am a blind record collector seeking old and unusual 78 RPM phonograph records. Also phonograph record labels, and/or sleeves, old jazz, blues, Okeh, Paramount, Brunswick, etc. Please contact Richard Tussey, 5701 Lansdowne Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63109, phone (314) 457-1871, or e-mail, <[email protected]>.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I have the following items for sale: 1) four-cassette box set, 101 Songs from 1947-1967, asking $12; 2) Juice Man juicer, $25; 3) four-piece Stanley steel pot set with lids, $25; and 4) case of assorted sunglasses. I have other items for sale that will be discussed when you call. You can call Eldridge Hardy toll-free at (800) 242-0363, extension 8920.

For my upcoming network I am looking for someone to tell jokes and recite short poems. If you know anyone with these talents, call me at the number listed above, but extension 9191.

Books and Magazines on Tape Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Many books are now available on tape from Vision Community Services, a division of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind. They include books for children, computer and technological books, cookbooks, textbooks (art and writing, research, counseling and psychology, and nursing).

New audio magazines include Harper's, American History, Parenting, Cat Fancy, Utne Reader, The Economist, and Harvard Business Review.

For information about subscriptions and other custom-recorded materials, call (617) 972-9117 or (800) 852-3029 (in Massachusetts) or write Vision Community Services, 23A Elm Street, Watertown, Massachusetts 02472. You may also e-mail <[email protected]>.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Braille Lite (eighteen characters), English and Spanish languages, November 2000 update, asking $2,000 or best offer. Contact Debbie Willard, (925) 849-4124, 2180 Ashby, #6, Berkeley, California 94705.

Attention Those Interested in Travel and Tourism

Due to the overwhelming response to the announcement about forming the Travel and Tourism Division, we ask interested people to send in writing your name; address; telephone number; e-mail address; preference of Braille, cassette, or large print; and a list of places you would like to visit. Mail the information to National Federation of the Blind of Georgia-South Fulton Chapter, P. O. Box 1767, Atlanta, Georgia 30301. You may e-mail us at <[email protected]>, or call (404) 763-1551, toll-free 1-866-999-6324. Please stay tuned for details of our first meeting at the 2002 NFB Convention.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I have for sale a slightly used Index Budget Basic Braille printer (Swedish-made). It is still in good condition. This printer comes complete with Duxbury software, operating manuals, connecting cables, and hardware. A box of Braille paper is included. Asking $700. Please contact Carolyn Tussey, 5701 Lansdowne Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63109, phone (314) 457-1871, or e-mail <[email protected]>.

                                            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.