THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Vol. 45, No. 5 June 2002
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
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THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 45, No. 5 June 2002
Recollections and Hopes
by Michael Jones
Legislator Wreaks Havoc Trying to Write Off
Rehabilitation Programs for the Blind
by Parnell Diggs
Open Letter from the President
by Marc Maurer
Madam Is from America:
Life Lessons from Village India
by Mariyam Cementwala
David Stayer, a Fellow Federationist
by Patricia Hubschman
Even I . . .
by Tammy Luebbe
Profile of a Federationist
by Joyce Scanlan
The Rewards and Continuing Challenges of Teaching
Blind and Visually Impaired Students
by Tami Dodd Jones
Life after Vision Loss:
My Life before and after I Met the NFB
by Sybil Irvin
Website Accessibility Again
by Curtis Chong
You've Got More Mail
by David Andrews
Maid of Honor
by Emily Wharton
Braille Is Beautiful
Copyright © 2002 National Federation of the Blind
[LEAD PHOTO: This panoramic view of the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind construction site was taken on May 1, 2002. About 50 percent of the two parking levels are visible, and the third level is well started. The large track crane at the center of the picture will soon be withdrawn through the remaining gap in the foundation perimeter wall that can be seen at the left edge of the picture. The pools of rain water with planks stretched across them are actually the three elevator shafts, which have been sunk even deeper than the foundation.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Michael Jones]
Recollections and Hopes
by Michael Jones
From the Editor: A recurring subject of news during the years I have edited the Braille Monitor has been allegations of shenanigans at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. Except for the state rehabilitation agency, the Institute in Talladega is the only game in town for blind Alabamians. On its grounds are housed the schools for the deaf and the blind, a technical college for blind students, and one of several sheltered manufacturing facilities run by the Institute around the state. All the outreach to young blind children in Alabama is done by the Institute. In short, unless you want rehabilitation services, you will deal with the Institute if you are blind, live in Alabama, and want any special services.
Periodically one facet or another of the Institute's program makes the papers, the NFB of Alabama makes an outcry, and eventually things quiet down again. It will be no surprise to anyone to be reminded in passing that through all the scandal and bad press over unfair or illegal treatment of blind consumers, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind has remained a member in good standing of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Impaired.
In recent months, however, we have actually heard some good news to go along with the most recent helpings of bad press. Here is NFB of Alabama president Mike Jones's report:
August of 1993 brought new leadership and hope to the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind with the appointment of Dr. Joe Busta Jr. to the presidency. The Institute had traveled a rocky road just before Dr. Busta was appointed. The resignation of his predecessor, rough treatment by the legislature, and the administrative cover-up of the embezzlement of blind workers' pay checks (see the June 1993 Braille Monitor) provided many programmatic challenges for Dr. Busta.
Dr. Busta came from an impressive background in university fund raising. But it included no experience at all in rehabilitation, special education, or school administration, all of which would have been helpful to the superintendent of the Institute. The Board of Trustees had decided that the Institute needed an accomplished fund raiser, and under those circumstances they chose the right person to bring in money. Many people were full of hope for a new beginning in services, and we the organized blind had great hope for new opportunity.
Opportunity of one kind came early to the blind. In March of 1996 blind workers in the Institute's industries workshop were laid off by Dr. Busta while sighted administrators were given raises. This same pattern was followed when in May of 2001 Dr. Busta announced that twenty-eight blind workers at the industries for the blind would leave their jobs. During the same time sighted administrators were again receiving raises. Each time the loss of jobs was attributed to a shortfall in appropriations, and each time the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama challenged the rationale of these decisions and saved the workers' jobs.
The pattern of Dr. Busta's leadership was set early. The Institute set out on a campaign to raise money regardless of the cost to the jobs, dignity, or well-being of blind people. The most frequent casualty of the marketing and money-begging program was services to the children. Funds were allocated for brick and marble fencing and golf carts to drive potential donors around the grounds, while children needing comprehensive speech, physical, and occupational therapy were denied services. The Institute's endowment grew, and so did the hiring of accountants and fund raisers, but despite all the marketing the enrolment in the Institute's several schools remained unchanged.
The year 2002 brought Dr. Busta's grand plan to create a National Junior College for the Deaf and Blind, which many presumed would be the catalyst for fund raising by Dr. Busta all over America. The proposal and the concept behind it were laughed at by blind and deaf people as well as professionals from coast to coast.
The blind of Alabama had been steadily asking probing questions about the general funding and allocation of state funds for some time. January 28, 2002, brought the report from the Alabama Auditors of Public Accounts, which shed light on and provided insight into the management of state funds by the Institute. The state auditors charged the Institute with failing to adhere to standards of general accounting practices and violation of state ethics and competitive bidding laws. The audit caught the attention of many state leaders, who began to listen to the Federation when we asked that a blind person be appointed to the Institute's Board of Trustees. On February 16 Governor Siegelman granted the Federation's request and appointed longtime Federationist Melissa Williamson to the Board of Trustees. Here is the text of the announcement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Siegelman Appoints Melissa Williamson to the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind
Governor Don Siegelman has appointed Melissa Williamson to the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. This appointment is effective immediately, and the term will expire November 28, 2006. She replaces John Woods as the representative of the Sixth Congressional District.
"I am proud that Melissa has agreed to serve the state," Siegelman said. "I am sure that she will prove herself to be a devoted public servant."
Williamson received her bachelor's degree from Birmingham-Southern College and did graduate work at the University of South Alabama and the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
She is a member of the National Federation of the Blind. She has also served as a board member and vice president for the National Association of Blind Students.
Williamson lives in Trussville.
Then, on April 18, 2002, came the announcement that Dr. Busta was resigning as president and returning to university fund raising. His last day at the Institute will be July 1, 2002. Dr. Busta served the Institute well insofar as he brought in significant financial resources. Unfortunately the cries of blind people for spending priorities that would meet the needs of children, students, and shop employees were consistently ignored. Dr. Busta was always cordial and friendly to blind people, and we certainly wish him well in his new job. We believe that this move will be good for him, good for the institution he joins, and good for the blind of Alabama.
But April also brought more controversy and criticism to the Institute. Late in the month a case burst into the news in which two tax preparers got hold of the names and Social Security numbers of eight children, some of whom were enrolled at the deaf and blind schools. They then sold this information or used it themselves to claim federal tax exemptions on personal income tax filings. It is apparently not clear how the information was leaked; by some reports former employees of the Institute and the Children's Hospital were responsible. The United States Attorney's office made a statement that institution officials were not responsible for the breaches in confidentiality, though it is not clear how they could be certain of the truth of that statement. Nonetheless, the public outcry was immediate. Here is an opinion, for example, published on April 29, 2002, in the Birmingham News:
Scamming the Children
As if regular identity theft isn't bad enough, now there is a case where tax preparers admit appropriating the names of sick, blind, and deaf children to bolster their clients' income tax refunds.
Ernest Baskin, thirty-six, and Detra Sherman, thirty-three, acknowledged they sold their clients the names of Children's Hospital patients and Alabama School for the Deaf and Blind students to claim as dependents in tax returns. They filed more than 250 false returns for clients and themselves in 1997 and 1998, reaping $721,000 in fraudulent refunds. They charged their clients $400 for each child's name.
The duo, which operated Xpress Rapid Refund, Rapid Refund Express, and Xpress Tax Kingston in West Birmingham, got the children's names and Social Security numbers from private records at the hospital and school.
As a first course of business, both institutions should investigate how their private records fell into the wrong hands. Any security lapse on the part of their staffs calls for appropriate punishment, and steps should be taken to prevent a similar breach in the future. Other institutions that routinely record such personal information should examine their policies as well.
It's a matter of protecting the public. Adults already worry that someone will get their names, Social Security numbers, and other private information to use on an all‑out shopping spree. Now the identities of children, even those who are sick, blind, and deaf, are subject to theft.
While the tax preparers face up to ten years in the forty-seven‑count indictment, their pleas will probably work in their favor at sentencing. But these two conspired to steal from taxpayers in a most unsavory scheme. Their clients must be required to repay any undue refunds. But a stiffer sentence is in order for professionals who abused positions of trust and scammed children's names to do it.
So things continue pretty much as they have always done at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. May 18 will bring yet another beginning for the blind of Alabama, and we can only hope that this time it will be a beginning with a difference. Mrs. Williamson will take her seat at the Board of Trustees meeting. She will join that body in time to help select the Institute's new president and therefore shape the future of programs for the blind in Alabama. We are hopeful that good candidates will be available and that our friend and colleague will be successful in helping the board recognize and appoint the right person to guide the Institute wisely.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Parnell Diggs]
Legislator Wreaks Havoc
Trying to Write Off Rehabilitation Programs for the Blind
by Parnell Diggs
From the Editor: Parnell Diggs is the president of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. Across the country in recent years blind people have been fighting to preserve whatever autonomy they have achieved for their state agency programs. South Carolina's blind citizens are no exception. Every time South Carolinians turn around it seems that someone, usually a legislator named Rex Rice, is sharpening his knife in the hope of cutting services to the blind down to the size and quality he apparently thinks blind people deserve. In the following article, Parnell Diggs reports on Mr. Rice's latest efforts and the response of the NFB of South Carolina. This is what he says:
Early in the 2002 state legislative session, Representative Rex Rice of Easley, South Carolina, was gathering his resources for his third attempt in as many years to eradicate the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, which would certainly diminish the quality of life of blind South Carolinians.
Representative Rice proposed re-establishing set-asides in 1999--thirty-five years after they had been abolished in South Carolina. In March of 2001, as the General Assembly considered across-the-board budget cuts, Rice wanted to slash the Commission for the Blind budget by 17 percent, while much smaller cuts were proposed to other agencies.
Under Rice's plan the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs would have received a 3 percent cut. The average budget cut for South Carolina state agencies (including the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation) was approximately 10 percent in 2001.
The Commission for the Blind received a 9.8 percent cut after the NFB of South Carolina intervened, handing Rice his second legislative defeat in as many tries. Then in October of 2001 we learned that the State Legislative Audit Council was auditing the Commission's Business Enterprise Program.
Heading the five-member legislative contingent requesting the audit was none other than Representative Rex Rice. Officials of the Legislative Audit Council assured us that the scope of the audit was limited to the Business Enterprise Program--not that we believed those protestations for a minute.
I received a letter from the Legislative Audit Council in December with the news that (just as we had suspected) the scope of the audit would extend to the very survival of the Commission itself. Based on the comments of consumers and other interested people, the auditors claimed, the audit would attempt to accomplish five objectives.
One of these was to "examine the advantages and disadvantages of combining the Commission with another agency." The auditors would complete their fieldwork by February of 2002, and a preliminary report would be forthcoming in April. If anything was ever a foregone conclusion, the results of the audit of the Commission's Business Enterprise Program was it. We knew the auditors would recommend that the Commission for the Blind be placed under the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.
Nevertheless, I met with the auditors in mid-December and tried to impress upon them the importance of maintaining a separate agency for the blind. The auditors thanked me for my comments, told me they would contact me if they needed additional information, and continued with their plans to recommend that the Commission be eliminated to save administrative costs.
With the arrival of January came the beginning of the 2002 legislative session. The NFB of South Carolina hosted its annual Legislative Appreciation Reception on January 23 with sixty-five of the hundred-seventy legislators attending. In a ten-minute presentation we made it clear that programs for the blind are more effective when administered by a separate, autonomous agency.
On the morning of February 13, we learned that a Ways and Means subcommittee would be meeting later that day to discuss the need to implement cost-cutting measures for the second consecutive fiscal year. Participating substantially in the deliberations of that subcommittee was none other than the Honorable Rex Rice.
Rice had enlisted the support of the Subcommittee Chairman, who also happened to be the House Majority Leader, Representative Rick Quinn of Columbia. Quinn believed that doing away with the Commission in the name of cutting costs made sense; and besides, to hear Quinn tell it, our objections were futile.
When the appropriations bill was reported out to the House floor, we discovered that the Ways and Means Committee had moved the entire Commission for the Blind line item to the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation without allowing comment from the blind community. Clearly Rice had decided not to wait for the audit recommendations. With the stroke of a pen he intended to eradicate separate programs for the blind in the state. Soon the House would be debating the appropriations bill, and the Commission would be left out.
We knew that the House would be taking up the appropriations bill on March 12, which gave us a mere two weeks to turn the tide. We took our message to the public, first with a February 21 press conference on the Statehouse steps, and on February 22 a half-page advertisement in one of the state's leading newspapers. Blind South Carolinians chipped in $2,500 to cover the cost of the ad informing readers that the Ways and Means Committee had disenfranchised blind citizens in taking unilateral action to put the Commission for the Blind out of business for lack of funding.
On Saturday, February 23, I presided over a strategy session of chapter leaders from across the state. We each agreed to contact specific legislators by March 12 and to be present in the House gallery at various times during the debate of the appropriations bill. Representative Quinn said that he wasn't swayed by the newspaper ad or by our lobbying efforts, but he and Rice met twice with NFB of South Carolina officials before the budget debate. At the first meeting Quinn presented a draft of a bill that he called "enabling legislation" to coincide with the appropriations bill.
This legislation would have established an agency called the Commission for the Blind under the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. He had taken the statute which created the Commission in 1966; and wherever it mentioned the "Commission for the Blind," Quinn simply inserted the words, "the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation."
On March 5 we met with Representatives Rice and Quinn for a second round of talks. Rice had been prodding Quinn for a week to introduce his commission bill, but by the end of the March 5 meeting, Quinn had agreed to back an amendment on the House floor replacing the Commission line item in the appropriations bill.
Blind South Carolinians took their seats in the House gallery (white canes extended) on March 12 in support of the Commission for the Blind. The irony of the Majority Leader and Rex Rice having to convince inquiring legislators on the House floor that the Federation really did now support the Commission amendment was amusing to observers in the gallery.
By the end of the day the House had restored funding to the Commission for the Blind, and it was clear that the Commission would not be folded into the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Programs for the blind would remain separate and autonomous in South Carolina without losing a penny of client services funding.
Sadly, however, Rice's support of the Quinn amendment was not the result of a change of heart. On the contrary, he continued his assault on state programs for the blind until the end of the 2002 legislative session. On April 11 Representatives Quinn and Rice introduced H. 5118, a bill to combine certain administrative functions of the Commission for the Blind with those of the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and to eliminate the position of Commissioner. The Governing Board would still exist, but it would not have the authority to hire a Commissioner. The Commission would still exist, but there would be no one to run it. We believe that Rice conceived of this legislation as a step toward abolishing separate programs for the blind.
In late April we learned that the Legislative Audit Council was conducting a second audit at the request of Representative Rice. This one would be so broad that it would include the eight state agencies within the jurisdiction of Quinn's subcommittee and would explore the feasibility of combining all of these agencies. One of these just happened to be the Commission for the Blind. So in the final weeks of the 2002 legislative session the Legislative Audit Council was conducting two audits at the same time involving the Commission for the Blind.
At this writing H. 5118 is pending in a Ways and Means subcommittee, but it has little chance of becoming law this year. We believe that the Commission for the Blind is safe at least until January of 2003 when the next legislative session begins, but at that time we think that, fueled by the results of two legislative audits, Rice will renew his assault on programs for the blind.
In the meantime chalk up another victory for the National Federation of the Blind in the continuing struggle to maintain separate state programs for the blind. The struggle began in 1993, when some legislators wanted to make the Commission for the Blind part of the Department of Mental Retardation (if you can believe it), and unfortunately there is no end in sight.
The wisdom of creating the Commission for the Blind in 1966 did not become foolishness during the following decades. It was right in 1966, and it is right in 2002 to have separate state programs for the blind. We opposed efforts to eliminate separate programs for the blind in 2002, and we will do so come January 2003 and beyond if necessary.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Marc Maurer:]
Open Letter from the President
by Marc Maurer
From the Editor: The following letter is being sent to donors to our Capital Campaign to build the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind. For your convenience a copy of the prospect-identification form follows it.
I am writing to bring you up to date on our progress with our new building. We have been raising funds for this exciting new venture for almost three years, and we have gifts and pledges in hand totaling $15.6 million with prospects for another $3 million. The building is now under construction. The foundation has been laid, and much of the ground floor and a substantial portion of the next level are in place. The framework for the entire structure is planned for installation soon. As you might expect, the view of the construction site from the fourth floor changes frequently.
You will remember that the estimated cost for construction of the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind when we began the Capital Campaign was $18 million. We have worked hard to keep costs in line, but we want a building which will be substantial enough and well enough equipped that it will serve our purposes for at least the next fifty years. As often occurs, the estimates were not quite high enough. The current projected cost is approximately $19.5 million. Many doubted that we would be able to raise the money for the research and training institute. However, we always keep our promises--especially the ones we make to ourselves. As I have already said, we have gifts and pledges in hand totaling $15.6 million with the prospect of an additional $3 million. We have received appropriations from the state of Maryland totaling $3 million, and we have asked for $3 million to be appropriated in future years. These appropriations are not yet made, but we have been informed that it is quite likely that they will be.
For all of your help in the effort to raise the funds for the research institute, I offer my thanks. We have done together what no one of us could have done alone. The spirit of our organization is demonstrated in our commitment to make things different for ourselves and for all those who will be affected by the work we do in our new facility. Many blind people will not know how we have helped to improve their lives, but we will know. I am most appreciative of the work that you have done to make this innovative venture possible. I take the liberty of thanking you on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind but also on behalf of the thousands of blind people who will benefit from your efforts but who will never realize that you are the reason for their good fortune.
So what comes next? How do we establish the programs we need in this new facility? How can we determine what the needs really are? And of course how do we raise the rest of the money? For each of these questions I am relying upon you. I need your imagination; I need your suggestions; I need your assistance to locate other donors who can help. Some time ago I asked you to think of people who might be willing to join us in this exciting effort. Many requests have already been made, but some additional ones must be made. I am asking that you think of people who can be approached for a donation.
The best way to get such donations is for you to approach the people that you know. However, some people believe they need help in doing this. Therefore we have individuals who can go with you to make requests. Mr. Vince Connelly has been a primary worker in the Capital Campaign. If you have somebody to suggest who might make an additional donation, please tell him. His phone number is (410) 659-9314, extension 368. Mrs. Ramona Walhof, Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind, has also done substantial work on the Capital Campaign. You can call her for assistance or suggestions at (208) 343-1377. Both Mr. Connelly and Mrs. Walhof will be at the National Convention. If you have suggestions for Capital Campaign contributors, please track them down.
Of course I will also be at the convention. We have been doing exceedingly well in the Capital Campaign. However, we are not finished. We must bring this phase of the effort to a close. When we have completed the campaign to build the facility, it is of vital importance that we use it to advantage. We will undoubtedly need to raise money for the operation of the facility, and we will need to put our best imaginative effort into creating the programs we operate there. The blind built it, and the blind will run it. With this in mind I call upon you to let me have the notions and the plans that you can imagine to make our facility the best in the world.
Marc Maurer, President
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
NFB Confidential Donor Prospect Form
Name of referring party: ______________________________________
Phone: (H) ______________________ (W) __________________________
Prospective donor’s name: _______________________________________
Phone: _______________________ Employer: ________________________
Relationship to the referring party:
_____ Relative _____ Business Associate _____Friend
_____ NFB Supporter _____ Other (specify) ___________________
Why this individual might give to the Capital Campaign:
_____ Blind or low vision him/herself
_____ Friend or family member who is blind
_____ Interest in and/or commitment to the NFB
_____ Wants to be associated with a national project
_____ Supports other blindness organizations
_____ Other (specify) ______________________
Most likely to make a five-year total pledge of:
_____ $100,000 or more _____ $50,000 to 99,000
_____ $25,000 to $49,000 _____ $10,000 to 24,000
_____ Less than $10,000
Can you get this individual to meet with you & another NFB representative? ________
If not, how would you suggest making contact with this individual?______________________________________________________
Other information known about this prospective donor which would be helpful, i.e., types of charitable causes supported in the past, approximate net worth, special interests, desire to be recognized for gifts, etc. _________________________
Who solicited this prospect referral? __________________________
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Mariyam Cementwala]
Madam Is from America:
Life Lessons from Village India
by Mariyam Cementwala
From the Editor: The following article first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2001 issue of the NFBC Journal, a publication of the National Federation of the Blind of California. Mariyam Cementwala was an NFB Scholarship winner in 1997. This spring she will earn a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. She has recently been awarded one of twelve George Mitchell Scholarships for the 2002‑2003 academic year. This one-year scholarship is considered the Irish equivalent of the Rhodes Fellowship and sponsors its recipients to study at the graduate level for one year at a university in Ireland or Northern Ireland. Mariyam will pursue an LLM in Human Rights Law at the National University of Ireland in Galway. She has already worked with the World Bank's Thematic Group on Disability and Development and has researched international disability law and its implementation in India, working at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and at the governmental and grassroots level in India.
Mariyam often writes thoughtfully for the Braille Monitor about her experience as a competent blind woman returning to India. Here is her most recent report:
What was I going to learn about Federation philosophy from the Indian governmental bureaucrat or Delhi school principal or walking in cold mud? What was an interview with a girl disabled by polio in the slums going to teach me about myself? The traveler does not always know about the wonderful life lessons to be gained the world over, but that was perhaps the deeper purpose of my trip.
I was researching the influence of international disability law on India's domestic education policies and ground-level practices. I was expecting to meet and interview all types of people--governmental officials, United Nations agency staff, teachers, principals, students--but no matter what my expectations, nothing prepared me for the "soft bigotry of low expectations" that people held for me or for other blind people.
Perhaps the most heart-breaking illustration of people's attitudes about me as a blind researcher was displayed when I went to interview a fourteen-year-old girl who lived in a slum area outside of New Delhi. Sholay, like most children her age, had wanted to go to school but had been denied admission to the local government public school because of her disability. As a toddler she had contracted polio and was left disabled as a result. She wore special wooden shoes and walked on crutches, but not without great difficulty, especially in the rains. I wanted to get the full scoop on her life, her struggle for an education, and her thoughts on her volunteer lawyer's victory in court. It would be an exciting interview, no doubt. I picked up the social worker who had discovered Sholay at our designated meeting point and gave directions to my driver to proceed to where Sholay lived.
Despite the torrential rain pouring down and flooding parts of the badly constructed roads, we arrived in an area of slums where each home was a crudely constructed hut about the size of the bathroom areas in our rooms at the hotel. Sholay's hut was made of a few steel rods and some tarp. In this dwelling she, her parents, two siblings, and two goats cozily lived.
Because of the monsoon rains, the area outside the hut was almost completely flooded. When we arrived, we parked the car, and I naturally opened the car door and stepped out. But I heard gasps and yells from inside the car: "No!" shouted my grandmother, who had accompanied me to Delhi on her vacation because she refused to have me travel alone by train.
"No, no," said the social worker, "You don't have to get out in the rain if you don't want to."
"Yes, that's right," my grandmother chimed in, "Sholay can come to you."
"What?" I exclaimed, stunned by the suggestion of having a girl who could hardly walk with crutches in the rain come to me so that I, who wanted the information, could interview her.
"Yes, yes," said the social worker and my grandmother in unison. "She can come. Her parents or someone can bring her, or she'll use her crutches. No need for you to get out in the floods and rain. You might slip and fall, and it is very muddy, and you will ruin your nice clothes."
For a moment I was too aghast to react. They were motioning to Sholay's father to bring her to meet the blind foreign visitor.
Then I opened the car door, jumped out, and retorted, "Do you know what you are saying? You want a poor girl who can't walk to go out in the rain so that I can interview her! I need to go to her; she doesn't need to come to me."
As I made my way to Sholay's hut, long white cane in hand guiding me through the slippery slums, her parents rushed out, hollering in Hindi, "Be careful, Madam. Why did you take the trouble? You could have called us."
The hut was dim, muddy, muggy, claustrophobic. The small, dark, frail girl was sitting on a makeshift bed made of rebar iron rods and the same tarp material. There was no mattress. A goat wandered up to me, and her father swiftly moved it out of the way. I conducted the entire interview in Hindi, hearing about her struggles with the local schools, her parents' illiteracy, her lawyer's benevolence. And I felt the injustice of life. Here was a girl whose parents brought in a monthly income of $5, who lived in a disease-infested slum where running water is a luxury, who could not walk or run or dance, who was fighting for and winning her right to an education--and people considered me more disabled and thus more brave than she. People thought my blindness was so disabling that I should not have to get out of the car to interview this young lady.
I felt helpless because I knew that no matter what I did, no matter how much education I received, no matter how much better things were for me, I could do nothing to convince these people otherwise. My blindness overshadowed all of it. I felt truly helpless at my inability to make them understand the truth I lived.
Encountering this custodial attitude was both shocking and disheartening. But this custodial attitude prevails in every corner of the world: Delhi or Detroit, Calcutta or California.
The question becomes how to deal with it. My answer in this case was to do what needed to be done civilly: disobey the commands of my grandmother, the social worker, even Sholay's parents. Walking in flooded slum areas without slipping is no great deed, but it is precisely little things like this that subtly impart big philosophy, changing the perspectives and perceptions of sighted people about the blind in India, America, and around the world.
Yes, I was angry and sad at the way I was often treated by people, even my family members, who saw me as an upstart, impudent, blind brat for speaking out at times in frustration at their disrespect and lack of understanding. But I tried to practice one of the great lessons of the Federation: to convert my sadness and frustration into passion and then action.
Whether we accept the responsibility or not, we in the National Federation of the Blind have a responsibility to impart the truth about blindness in our deeds. And I felt the burden of this responsibility too much, too often. I felt at times as if I were under a microscope; people were watching me. They gave dirty looks to my reader because she did not grab my hand or coddle me along. I might note that, if she had dared to do so, she would have been fired sooner than she was.
But there were times when I did not require a reader to accompany me on interviews, and people continued to stare as I walked alone into a building where I had never been, waiting for me to trip or bump into something. When my cane hit some pole or chair or obstacle in the way (as canes naturally do), they gasped and yelped, rushing to my side to assist me before some calamity occurred. I felt choked by my own philosophy, needing to be independent around my family and do everything just right in front of the interviewees because any mistake or flaw would be associated automatically with my blindness.
If I didn't remember how to get from Linking Road to Hill Road, it could not possibly be because I hadn't lived in Bombay for over fifteen years. To my family it was a consequence of my blindness. If I didn't find the office of the Commissioner of Disability Welfare, it was not because the building was confusing or crowded or because I had never been there before; it was because I was blind. I carried the burden of constantly proving myself, not only at times to myself but repeatedly to everyone around me.
Interviews were often bizarre, confounding, testing experiences. I walked in to collect some documents from the Deputy Commissioner of Disability Welfare in Andra Pradesh one day. I had already interviewed him the day before and was in a rush since I had planned to spend this day with my aunt. But the deputy commissioner wanted me to accompany him to a speech he was giving--he was trying to impress the researcher from America. But I declined and requested the documents for which I had come. He decided to go downstairs to his car himself to get the materials, but he suggested that I wait up in his office and talk with a blind gentleman from a non-governmental organization, who was accompanying him to his speech. I thought that would be a productive idea and introduced myself to the blind gentleman in the room. As the gentleman began introducing himself, the deputy commissioner roared: "No, no, Madam is from America! Madam doesn't have very much time. Let her talk first. Let her ask the questions. You be quiet and answer her as she likes. Don't waste her time."
This statement was astonishing, considering how much of my time I had let him waste the day before as he chatted, relating anecdote after anecdote. But I was astounded at the sharpness and condescension with which the deputy commissioner addressed the blind gentleman, and even more astounded at the immediate deference and apology of the shaken blind man to the deputy commissioner.
I felt awkward. The officer was treating me like a foreign celebrity and was treating this Indian blind man like dirt. What should I do? Should I say something in the man's defense? How should I deal with the situation? As these thoughts ran through my dizzied head, the deputy commissioner whisked out of the room to get the materials I needed.
The blind gentleman and I were still talking when the commissioner returned. He roared again, "Okay, okay, Madam's aunt is waiting for her. We must not keep Madam now. Come. Come. Let's proceed down. And we must go to our speaking engagement."
Walking carefree with my cane, I headed down in the elevator with the crowd around the deputy commissioner, thinking little of anything except the poor blind man and what I could have or should have done. It was comforting that no one was trying to distract me from my musings, grab me this way or that, yank me in one direction or another, or tell me where to go and what to do or that this or that was in my way. I emerged from the building into the rain, heard my aunt honk, and got into the car. She was laughing hysterically.
"Why are you laughing?" I asked, thinking, did I do something funny? Is my slip showing? Oh no, have I made a fool of myself?
"Oh my God," she said. "Did you see that?"
"See what?" I asked.
"See what a fuss they made," she proclaimed. This surprised me. If she meant the fuss about me, I thought, there was none. No one tried to grab me, yank me, yell at me; their behavior was pretty appropriate concerning my blindness, or so I thought.
"Huh?" I said.
"Oh my. You missed it. It was hilarious. When you were up there, the commissioner or whoever he is came down to get some things for you himself; he didn't even send anyone. Then, after staring at me for a while, he finally came up to the car and said, ‘Don't worry. Madam is upstairs. She is just talking to someone, just finishing some work. She will be down in just five minutes.' Then he ran off upstairs again. Then this huge crowd came down, all in this big circle, and I hear whispers like, `Move, move, Madam is coming. Madam is coming. Move out of the way.' And I thought that perhaps our minister of social welfare might be in the building this afternoon, and she might be coming down with her security guards and entourage, so I thought, ‘How nice, I'll get to see her. Too bad Mariyam will miss it,' and I expected to see some minister. Then I see the circle opening, and out comes this woman in a red dress with a big white stick. Oh Mariyam, how hilarious--the way they made you this big madam."
But then this uncomfortable heavy feeling descended on me; they had all been watching me. They were watching my every move, my cane's every tap. When I slipped on a step in my heels because of the rain, the image of the incompetent, helpless blind person was etched in their minds forever. That image was their first instinct. If I do something right, I am but one oddity or exception.
This burden of ambassadorship and the awareness of being under the microscope never left me. It was incredibly frightening and stressful at times, because I just wanted to be—to be myself without having to worry about the fact that people would associate me with only one word: "blind."
The second struggle was when to chastise someone for the way I or someone else was treated because of blindness and when to restrain myself and keep my mouth shut. I wanted to say something to the commissioner about the way he behaved, but I wondered, not only about what I could have said but also how it would have affected my relationship with him as a researcher.
Was it my place to say something on behalf of a blind man who did not even defend himself? And if I did say anything, would it be welcomed or understood? After all, I was going to be there for a very short time, and nothing I could have said would have made much difference to people set in their ways and fixed in their prejudices.
People may have peculiar notions about blindness. They may believe blindness is a tragedy. They may believe blind people are inferior and helpless and incompetent, but we in the National Federation of the Blind will show them the truth, and we will keep on proving them wrong in this or any hemisphere of the world.
In some ways, with this new war against terrorism, the world can again be made safe for diversity, but in this movement we're not going to do it with armies or bombs or even by beating the ignorant sighted masses into submission with our long white canes. No, we must win them over with literature and education and by just living our lives in the best way possible--living the movement--demonstrated best by the members and leaders of the National Federation of the Blind. You were all with me on my journey, and I want to thank each of you in the Federation for teaching me and giving me the courage and tools I needed on this journey.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: David Stayer]
David Stayer, a Fellow Federationist
by Patricia Hubschman
From the Editor: Several months ago Patricia Hubschman sent me the following sketch of a Federation leader many of us have known for years. My casual friendship with the Stayers goes back to an early Federation event at which my room was next door to theirs, and their baby daughter spent a difficult night. I managed to sleep pretty well, but I remember feeling sorry for the Stayers, who clearly did not, and then getting to know them the next day. But in reading this profile, I learned things about David that I did not know, including that he and I attended our first Federation conventions the same fall and became active in the organization by establishing chapters in our areas. You also will learn more about the man with the beautiful tenor voice who sings invocations at our national conventions. Now meet David Stayer and his wife Lori:
A devoted father with two grown daughters, a husband of thirty years, a full-time clinical social worker for a local hospital, a member of his temple and community, David Stayer devotes his spare time to helping the blind. He and his wife Lori founded the Greater Long Island, New York, chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. "I feel that helping to make things better for as many blind people as possible is one of my purposes on earth," he says.
David first learned of the NFB from a New Jersey friend he'd met at a vacation camp for the blind. The friend gave him a Braille copy of the Braille Monitor, to which David soon subscribed. "I liked what I was reading," he says, "especially the part about helping my fellow blind people fight for rights and other things that most of our citizens already had."
Tired of hearing her husband say this over and over again, his wife Lori, a born group joiner and organizer, told David, "Either join or shut up about it." David liked the idea. But there was no chapter in their area. "There had been at one time," says Lori, "but it had died." So they began their own, co-founding the Greater Long Island, New York, chapter. They received their state chapter charter in 1974.
The 1973 National Convention was held in New York City, but the Stayers didn't attend it. "We didn't know what the NFB was all about," says Lori. David deeply regrets not having gone. Their first NFB convention was in 1974, the state convention in Binghamton, New York. It was an eye-opener for them both.
"Before I went to my first convention," Lori says, "I honestly had no idea what a blind person could do." But she soon discovered that blind people could do just about anything: be teachers, college professors, lawyers, vendors. Then her ignorance reversed itself. It became a what-can't-a-blind-person-do thing. Since then they've both been firm believers in the positive philosophy of blindness. "It's part of my belief system," David says.
A college graduate, having earned his master's degree from New York University, David first considered attending law school. "But the lawyers I met appeared to be lacking in principles," he says. Instead he opted for social work, feeling it was more realistic. "I consider my blindness a way of helping others." November 12, 2001, marked his thirty-sixth anniversary at the local hospital where he works and thirty-seven years in the profession. His first year was spent at a hospital in Brooklyn, New York. "I love what I do," he says.
Shortly after that 1974 convention a member of the American Council of the Blind challenged David to a debate on a New York-based radio show. A newcomer to the Federation, David was unprepared for the attack his opponent made on the organization. David sent the tape of the program to the NFB president, Dr. Jernigan, who came to New York and arranged to have the program retaped, going up against the ACB member himself. It was this incident that prompted another NFB member who had been at the New York convention that year to recommend David for his first leadership seminar.
Described by himself as being somewhat shy and reserved, David says the NFB has helped him become more confident and forthright. "I'm still somewhat reserved," he admits. "But when I believe in an issue, I'm not afraid to speak out boldly and, I hope, eloquently."
He also tries to incorporate a positive attitude in his daily life and teaches it to others. "The positive attitude takes a while in building," he says. But it has helped him in every aspect of his life--work, faith, and the NFB.
The Stayers' two daughters, Melodie and Rachel, were brought up with the ideals of the Federation. They attended meetings and conventions with their parents. But the teaching didn't stop there, nor did the learning. "When the girls played, they borrowed David's cane," Lori says, "and pretended they were blind." When it came to expanding the horizons of their children's friends and classmates, who were unquestionably curious, David and his wife went to the schools and gave talks to the kids about blindness.
One thing that bothered the Stayer family greatly was the way blind parents were being viewed by society. "Blind parents were losing custody of their own children because they, the parents, were blind," Lori says. The courts didn't believe blind parents were capable of taking care of their children. Oftentimes the NFB went to court to fight. The funds of the PAC [Pre-Authorized Check] Plan, to which David and Lori had always contributed, helped pay the legal and court costs.
In the early 1980's David was the president of the New York NFB affiliate and was also on the Governor's Advocacy Committee for the Commission for the Blind, from which he recently retired after twelve years of service. He helped found the NFB Human Services Division, of which he is still an officer. And he is the president of the Long Island chapter. "The movement has grown," David says. "We've become more of a family." He hopes that his work with the blind will help make a lasting difference.
In October of 2001 the Stayers were personally invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the National Research and Training Institute in Baltimore. David was one of several Federationists honored by being asked to give an invocation at the gala celebration that evening.
I first heard of David Stayer and the NFB in 1988. I'd recently graduated from college and was attending a local blind rehabilitation center. A friend and co-student kept insisting that I attend an NFB chapter meeting with her. She said the president was a phenomenal man, and they could help me so much. The meetings were held at a local church, not far from where I lived. But I didn't go.
A few years later I actually nearly fell over David Stayer. I was attending physical therapy at the hospital where he worked. I was too early for my PT appointment. My therapist told me to keep myself occupied until it was time for my class. So I began walking around the hospital. On the lower level I came across a half-open office door. The name plate on it read "David Stayer, Clinical Social Worker." Poking my head into the office, I asked the man seated behind the desk if he was the famous David Stayer I had heard so much about. He chuckled, admitting to being David Stayer, but he didn't consider himself famous. We shook hands and chatted for a few minutes. Never once did I have a clue he was blind. Then David told me he had to be on the other side of the hospital, inviting me to walk with him. Of course I would. I was eager to learn more. We left his office together. His volunteer reader, whom I thought was his assistant, went along with us. When we reached our destination, we said goodbye and went our separate ways.
It was about six or seven years later that I again came in contact with David. I was having some problems on my job. After exhausting all possible advocacy options that I could come up with on my own, my vocational rehabilitation counselor from the Commission for the Blind recommended I contact David and the local NFB chapter. I did. Now I am a member of the family and trying to learn and live the philosophy of the NFB. Knowing David and Lori Stayer and all my Federation brothers and sisters is a wonder I can only wish had happened a long time ago. But I'm thrilled it's happened now.
Even I . . .
by Tammy Luebbe
From the Editor: Tammy Luebbe is a student at the adult orientation facility of the Nebraska Commission for the Blind. She intended this article for a sighted audience, and it does an excellent job of addressing many of the misconceptions members of the general public have about blindness and blind people. The remarkable thing about what she has written is that she has made so much progress in embracing the attitudes and philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind in less than a year. This is what she says:
What do you think when you hear the word "blind"? If you are like most of society, you think of blindness as total darkness, and the dictionary will support that belief with its definition of "lack of discernment, lack of sight." Actually blindness has a range of meanings from total absence of sight to the inability to see distinct features. Blindness means that you must use alternatives to sight to complete the activities of daily life. Legal blindness is defined as vision of 20/200 or less or a central visual field of no more than twenty degrees. When you hear of a blind person or see one, what is your first reaction? Is it to think, "that poor, pitiful person"? Do you immediately feel sorry for him or her? Do you have a compelling urge to help? Why do most people react this way? Because most of us believe that a blind person is helpless, certainly not as capable as a sighted person. I am going to tell you my story, not to evoke or reinforce this notion, but, I hope, to shed some light on the world of blindness.
My story begins in December of 2000. I noticed that I had a blind spot in my vision, obvious when watching TV. When I watched infomercials, I was unable to see the 1-800 part of the toll-free number. I went to my local optometrist and was referred to a retinal specialist. I had a surgery that was supposed to resolve the problem, but it was unsuccessful. At that point I had lost the vision in my left eye but still had vision in my right eye. In May of 2001 I started developing the same blind spot in my right eye. I received several injections of steroids and then laser treatments to stop the progression of my disease. Not until June of 2001 was I diagnosed with serpigenous choirditis, a rare disease whose etiology is unknown, but it is believed to be an autoimmune response of the body in which the retina is identified as foreign tissue and is attacked and destroyed.
Since June of 2001 I have been blind. The length of time between my being able to see and no longer being able to was two weeks. I went from being an active participant in our lawn-care business and a totally independent mother of three with a career in nursing to being totally dependent. In a matter of two weeks I went from being able to do anything to being unable to complete the everyday tasks of living. I was unable to turn my stove on, run the dishwasher, operate the microwave, or even dial the phone. I spent six weeks isolated, withdrawn, and depressed. I believed my life was over and that there was nothing left for me. I lost my job, my insurance, and most of all my self-confidence. Fortunately for me I was given the number of the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
I contacted them, and my whole world turned right side up again. I began their adult rehabilitation program believing that I would never be whole again. My hope at the beginning of this program was just to learn the necessary skills to live. But they have given me much more. The Center's philosophy is growing stronger in me every day. I believe in it so strongly now that I want everyone around me to understand it. My mission has become to live by it and educate others about it. This philosophy is based on the premise that blindness doesn't have to be anything more than a personal characteristic. It is not a handicap, but merely means that I use alternative methods to complete the same tasks that sighted people do.
But because I do not do everything like sighted people, they conclude and believe that I am inferior to them. Sighted people laugh when I maintain that as a blind person I am discriminated against. Most people believe that discrimination is based on color, religion, or sex; but there are other kinds. As a blind person every day I fight society's views of blindness and the limitations it places on me. People I encounter every day--family, friends, instructors, and strangers alike--demonstrate that they believe my blindness makes me inferior. This is not intentional or done deliberately to make me feel bad, but it makes every day a constant battle, trying to educate people and change society's view of blindness.
I want you to consider your own responses and try to evaluate them from both sides. If you see a blind person walking towards a door, what is your first reaction? Is it to step in front and open the door, or do you think nothing of it, letting him or her locate and open the door independently? From personal experience I will tell you that most people run as fast as they can to open the door. Why? The typical response is, "to be helpful." But you have to look deeper than that. If trying to be helpful were really your motive, wouldn't you run to the door when a sighted person with one hand occupied was trying to open it? Why is it so important or necessary to open that door for the blind person? The answer is that most sighted people believe that blind people are incapable of doing it for themselves.
Similar acts of kindness such as helping blind people across streets, guiding them to the bathroom, offering to tie their shoes, and many more such things happen every day to blind people. This stereotyping of us as helpless is not limited to the general public; even a number of professionals believe blindness renders one incapable of performing the simplest task. I have had a doctor tell the nurse to come in to help me get dressed after an examination. I wondered if he thought my mother still lived with me or if I had a live-in nanny to get me dressed in the morning. I recently had an ophthalmologist tell me in so many words that I was incapable of administering my own medications because I was blind.
I have also recently encountered a teaching professional prepared to deny my entrance into a degree-completion program because I could not see. She concluded that I would be unable to complete the observation portion of the program. I questioned this instructor, pointing out that a sighted person might see something, but without the knowledge and intelligence to understand and interpret what was observed, the exercise would be worthless. On the other hand, the situation being observed could be described to someone with experience, knowledge, and intelligence; and that person could explain and assess it effectively. Observation is not just seeing; it is listening, asking questions, and understanding what is going on around you.
These illustrations do not demonstrate that I am incapable, rather that society inaccurately assumes that blindness makes me inferior. And it isn't only the efforts to help me but the intended compliments that have underlying and disturbing meanings. Here are a few of my favorites: "You can do that without being able to see! Even I can't do that, and I can see"; or "You are just amazing"; and my all-time favorite, "You do so well I forget you are blind." Is it amazing that a sighted person gets dressed, cooks, takes care of her kids, or crosses the street? No, it isn't.
With proper skills training, blind people learn to accomplish everyday tasks using alternative techniques. Blind people are able to read Braille and use voice-output computers and other technologies to read.
We use the cane to examine what is in front of us: obstacles, cracks in the sidewalk, stairs, curbs, and people. As I walk with my cane, I am amazed at the way this white cane can part people and cars. Someday I am sure it will part the waters also. As a blind person I use different senses to observe what is in my environment. I can't see you walking toward me, but I can hear footsteps, clothing moving, conversation, car motors, etc. I know when someone is beside me, coming toward me, or walking away. I don't have a special talent or extraordinary hearing; everyone has this ability, sighted people are just not forced to use it. The cane touches objects to let me know that they are there. If my cane comes into contact with something, this is not a mistake but necessary for me to avoid walking into it. People around me will say "oops" if I hit an obstacle or wall with the cane. But this is supposed to happen in order for me not to hit it.
There are so many alternatives to use to complete everyday tasks that I don't have enough paper to write them all down. My point here is that my alternatives don't make me inferior or incapable of completing tasks. Especially in the beginning, it may take me longer than it would a sighted person, but every time people step in to prevent me or another blind person from doing things for ourselves, they rob us of the opportunity to learn and develop alternatives to accomplish these everyday tasks.
Earlier I mentioned my philosophy of blindness as a characteristic. I don't want you to think that I thought of this all by myself, for I did not. This concept has been around since at least the 1960's. I first heard it in a speech by Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, then President of the National Federation of the Blind. The philosophy is practiced by the staff at the Nebraska Commission for the Blind. But it makes so much sense that I want to share it with you.
Again, it is the notion that blindness can be reduced to the level of a characteristic rather than a handicap. Any personal characteristic has advantages and disadvantages. Let's take the characteristic of height, for example. If a person is tall, over six feet, six inches, this can limit what he or she can do. How can height be a limitation? My husband is this tall, and I can tell you that he doesn't fit into compact cars like Yugos, Rabbits, or Bugs. He hits his head on ceiling fans, door frames, light fixtures, and low-hanging branches. He has a hard time finding clothes and shoes at a regular store. He doesn't fit into roller coasters, buses, or regular beds with footboards (he must either lie diagonally or curl up). He can use alternatives to get around all of these obstacles, so his height really doesn't affect his total quality of life. He ducks under fans and light fixtures, bends his head under door frames, buys beds that do not have footboards, and buys large cars. These are all alternatives that he must use in order to conduct his everyday life.
With the characteristic of blindness, I must learn Braille to read, use computers with voice output, learn keystroke commands instead of using a computer mouse, and use the cane to move safely around my environment. These alternatives make my life every bit as good as those of sighted people. No one asks my extraordinarily tall husband if he needs help crossing the street, finding the bathroom, or opening the door. You are probably thinking, "Yes, but these characteristics are totally different in the quality of their limitations." But they are not. Each characteristic has its advantages and disadvantages, and all of us, regardless of our characteristics, adapt to our specific limitations and advantages and move on with our lives.
I hope that my story has not evoked a feeling of sympathy or pity, for I do not need it. I hope it has made you stop and think about how a simple well-intentioned gesture or comment has a much deeper meaning that you don't even realize. My hope is that I have shed a little light on blindness and society's perceptions, and maybe a little insight on how society responds to something different from what is perceived as the norm. The next time you see a blind person, I hope that your automatic response is not that he or she is incapable of being independent. Try to resist the urge to impose your help without asking. I hope you can come to see blind people as equals and respect their independence and ability. If they ask for help, please give it, but don't assume that they need it. Consider whether you would help if they were not blind. If not, don't go out of your way to help the blind person either.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Larry Kettner]
Profile of a Federationist
by Joyce Scanlan
From the Editor: The following profile of Larry Kettner first appeared in Joyce Scanlan's "Les Affaires" column in the Winter 2002 issue of the Minnesota Bulletin, the publication of the NFB of Minnesota. Joyce is president of the affiliate, and she has known and admired Larry Kettner for many years. The occasion for writing the profile was a recent honor that Larry had received. Here is Joyce's description of Larry's recent and not-so-recent adventures. When I joined the NFB, the Lawrence Kettner case was one of the first important stories I remember reading about. Newer members should find Larry's experience interesting and disturbing. Here is the story:
On July 26, 2001, at a ceremony held in St. Louis, Missouri, Lawrence (Larry) Kettner received the Regional Hourly Associate of the Year award presented by his employer, Compass Group North America, Chartwells Division, which is responsible for school dining services, kindergarten through grade twelve. Larry has held a utility position with Compass for thirteen years and has worked at Blake School in Hopkins, Minnesota, for ten years. He says, "I work in the kitchen and do whatever they ask me to do; I clean counters and equipment, wash dishes, crack eggs, peel potatoes, scrub pots and pans--anything at all." At the celebration in St. Louis, Larry received a trophy and a check for $1,000. The trophy depicts a figure of a man reaching for a star, which is suspended above his head, with the inscription on the base, "ABC [above and beyond the call of duty], Lawrence Kettner, July 26, 2001."
Larry and his boss Kimberly Chase, director of school dining services for Blake School campuses, were scheduled to go to Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 27 for the national party to recognize the six regional 2001 employees of Compass; however, the terrorist attacks of September 11 caused the cancellation of the national event. Instead, Larry and his boss were invited to Charlotte, North Carolina, where on December 5 Larry, clad in the traditional white suit, carried the flaming Olympic torch for one-quarter mile of its long journey to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the 2002 Olympic Games. He now proudly displays his trophy, the white suit, and a model of the Olympic torch as symbols of his personal success and of his employer's recognition of his value on the job.
All of us in the National Federation of the Blind who have known Larry as an active and dedicated member since 1974 say, "Congratulations, Larry; the honor you have received is well deserved." We have known Larry Kettner as an enthusiastic national and state Federation convention attendee, as an energetic fund raiser, and as a Federationist who recognizes the importance of spreading the word to the public about the capabilities of blind people in the job market, of their right to independence and equal participation in the community, and of their need to give back to the community for what they have received.
Larry understands and appreciates the concept of collective action and the benefits to be gained if one is willing to give back. His own personal story of struggle to achieve, of putdowns by rehabilitation agency personnel, and of overcoming attitudinal barriers to reach ultimate triumph is one from which everyone can learn an important lesson. The honor bestowed upon Larry by his employer of thirteen years is much deserved, and it comes after twenty-seven years of fierce conflict with private agency staff and rehab counselors and perseverance to succeed at a job he knew he could do.
Born in 1934, Larry Kettner was diagnosed with Usher's syndrome when he was in the eighth grade. He was already legally blind from retinitis pigmentosa, and his hearing would gradually deteriorate over the years. Today he is totally blind and can hear only with the assistance of two very strong hearing aids. He loved his job as a farmer in Carver County, Minnesota, until 1973, when he decided to quit because of his decreasing vision.
The hard work of farm life had been daily routine for Larry; he had regularly experienced challenges and overcome barriers. Although he felt that he could not operate his farm as independently as he wished, he was certain that he could be successful in finding suitable employment. Larry was determined to be self-supporting. He would not settle for a welfare check; he would pursue a competitive job in which he would carry his weight and earn his keep. Nevertheless, Larry could never have anticipated the rocky road which lay ahead of him as he struggled to make his dream come true.
He was referred to Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB) in 1973 and was referred to Sharon Grostephan, a rehabilitation teacher hired by the NFB of Minnesota, for travel training. At the same time he was sent to the Minneapolis Society for the Blind, now Vision Loss Resources (VLR), for work evaluation and possible employment in the sheltered workshop.
At VLR in 1974 Larry encountered major unfair treatment and job discrimination. The National Federation of the Blind was at the height of its battle with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) at that time, and VLR was a NAC-accredited agency, one of the stalwart NAC supporters in the blindness field. An examination of the evaluation documents on Lawrence Kettner in the sheltered workshop revealed that he had been making steady improvement in speed and productivity; yet his evaluation was suddenly terminated, and he was certified as being able to earn only 80 percent of minimum wage. Larry was forced by VLR officials, who ganged up on him in a closed meeting where he had no support, to sign a minimum-wage waiver. At the same time Larry and Sharon Grostephan had found a job for Larry in the open job market at pay well above the minimum wage. Larry signed the VLR waiver because he needed the money owed him and feared he would not be paid if he didn't sign.
His story was told in the article "NAC Unmasked: The Kettner Case" at the 1974 National Convention in Chicago. This story was instrumental in persuading the Rehabilitation Services Administration commissioner to discontinue federal funding of NAC, a major step forward in our efforts to reform or destroy NAC.
An appeal of Larry's VLR evaluation results was filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, Wages and Hours Division, and the investigation revealed that the VLR evaluation had been flawed. VLR was ordered to pay Larry the difference between the evaluation figure and the actual pay he should have received. Of course Larry remembers the struggle to make VLR pay up, but he was eventually paid. Many workers would have given up the fight, but Larry knew he had earned the money and held out until he received it.
The late ’70's and early ’80's brought a mixture of success and further problems to be solved. Larry was successful in his employment setting; however, his eyesight continued to deteriorate, and he needed further training. In 1978 he attended the South Dakota Rehabilitation Center in Sioux Falls. This was no more productive than the earlier experience with VLR, because again the staff did not understand Larry's innate drive. He would not be broken down by insult or outright rudeness or personal disrespect. One staff person actually told him to "shut up." He would not settle for the sheltered workshop system's approach to his situation--work at routine and repetitive manual labor for paltry wages and treatment as a second-class citizen. Larry continued to pursue his goal of full-time employment in the competitive workforce.
In 1985 Larry Kettner took the daring step of returning to VLR for rehabilitation training. He had a very supportive SSB counselor, who did everything possible to ensure fair treatment for Larry. Several VLR directors had come and gone, and many staff changes had taken place. And Larry was desperate to be employable. As soon as the word that Larry was a member of the National Federation of the Blind was out at VLR, no one would even speak to him. He was isolated, excluded from certain VLR program activities, and insulted by agency staff. One travel instructor made a highly inappropriate, very derogatory comment regarding Larry's appearance one day on a lesson. After a short time Larry had had enough, so he left.
At this point he began to learn sign language to assist him in communicating with others. He was also referred to several placement programs to help him find a job. He was now living fully independently and was not about to give up on his ultimate goal.
In 1988 success came. Larry's friend found an ad for a utility job in Minneapolis. With the assistance of his SSB rehab counselor Maureen Toonkel and a referral agency, Larry was hired for the job, and that is where he has remained for the past thirteen years, at Compass Group USA, Chartwells Division, working in the school dining services, now at Blake School in Hopkins.
Throughout his years of struggle Larry looked to the NFB for encouragement and direction. He called when he experienced unfair treatment and felt down. We did what we could to help; however, it was Larry's incredible drive to reach his goal of meaningful full-time employment that led to his final victory. He remembers well the names of all those professionals who worked with him, those who were unfair and condescending as well as those who gave him support and positive assistance. In addition to his membership in the National Federation of the Blind, Larry has belonged to the Lions, the Eagles, the Elks, and the Moose clubs in Minneapolis. He seizes upon every opportunity to educate others in these organizations about blindness. He also promotes the Federation and solicits contributions for NFB whenever these groups are having fund raisers.
Today Larry is living independently in a high-rise in St. Paul. He leaves for work every day at 4:30 a.m. and is paid well above ten dollars per hour for his full-time job, far more than the unjust subminimum wage VLR officials had judged him capable of earning in 1974. He loves his work and all the people who work with him. Larry is a loyal employee, and obviously, based on the reward bestowed upon him in 2001, he is greatly appreciated by his peers and his supervisor.
The press release Larry's employer circulated at the time he flew to Charlotte to carry the Olympic torch is indicative of the high regard his supervisor and colleagues feel for him. In that release Ms. Chase says, "Larry is a true team player. For large catering events Larry helps our team with chopping vegetables and skewer meat, preparing hors d'oeuvres, and contributing recipe and menu ideas. When it comes to sanitation, no one can get past Larry without thoroughly washing their hands and running the silverware twice."
Those are complimentary words, and Larry has every reason to feel proud of his success. He has worked hard for many years to achieve this goal. Although he is now almost sixty-eight years old and could retire if he wanted to, Larry will continue to do the work he enjoys. And all Federationists will join him in celebrating the honor he has received and the many years of active and dedicated service he will contribute in the future.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Tami Dodd Jones]
The Rewards and Continuing Challenges of Teaching
Blind and Visually Impaired Students
by Tami Dodd Jones
From the Editor: Tami Jones is a longtime leader of the National Federation of the Blind. She now lives and teaches in Indiana. In the following article, reprinted from the Spring 2002 issue of the Blind Educator, a publication of the National Organization of Blind Educators, she talks about her experience working as a teacher of visually impaired students. This is what she says:
When I began college I had very little idea of what I ultimately wanted to do. My goals were simple--work hard, do well, and have fun along the way. Now that I am a teacher, my goals are remarkably similar--work hard to keep on top of new developments and technology in the field, do the best job I can for the students in my charge, and get as much enjoyment as I can from the experience. But it isn't always easy. There are great rewards--the knowledge that because of you your students have a better chance for success in school and in their later lives--but there are even greater challenges. Here are some that I believe anyone contemplating a career in education of blind and visually impaired students should consider and work hard to meet.
The first big challenge is mastering the essential skills of blindness. No matter what anyone tells you, it is very unlikely that your students will become better Braille users, cane users, or adaptive computer users than you are. In order for them to become successful using these skills, you yourself must become successful. Total mastery isn't always easy or even possible, but it is important that you keep working at it, even after you have left school and begun working. The old adage, "If you don't use it, you lose it," really applies, especially with Braille. Those of us who rely on Braille in our daily lives have an advantage, but even I, who have used it since I was nine, find myself using it less for little things as technology becomes more advanced and available. I must constantly find occasions to use skills such as slate and stylus and abacus to keep my hand in.
Some may say that such skills are no longer relevant, but they may well be to your students, if not to you. There are still parts of the world, even in this country, where these devices are considered the epitome of technology, and they come in handy even now when the electricity goes off or you run out of batteries for your talking calculator. Don't second-guess what your students may need; give them everything you can to provide them the best chance to succeed in their future lives.
The next big challenge is organization. If you're like me, this doesn't come naturally, and you have to work at it constantly. Since most teachers of the blind are now itinerants, at least for part of their day, it is crucial that you have what you need when you need it, whether it is lesson plans, student handouts, IEP goals, or whatever. We must all develop individual systems for keeping track of necessities based on our changing jobs and schedules.
One year, for example, my job was almost exclusively itinerant consultation. I visited about thirty schools during the course of a month, none of them more than once or twice a week. I had very little time in my office for gathering materials, so I developed a system whereby I placed materials I needed to take to the various schools on a special table. The leftmost pile was for Monday, the next for Tuesday, and so on. Any materials that could not be delivered within the week could be mailed or sent with colleagues--speech teachers, physical therapists, etc.--who would be visiting that school sooner than I could. That way the students or teachers got the materials as quickly as possible.
Another year I worked every day with totally blind students in four different schools in two different counties. Most of the equipment and supplies could be kept in each school, but the things the students shared (my lesson plans, extra Braille paper, IEPs, and so on) I kept in a banker's box I carried with me from school to school. When my banker's box got wet, I switched to a Rubbermaid storage box. If one box couldn't hold what I needed, I got a bigger one.
This brings me to the third big challenge--flexibility. Very few jobs stay the same, and jobs in education seem to change more rapidly than most. You are expected to go with the flow. It seems as if every other week memos are sent to itinerants saying that we can no longer do this or must always do that. We not only have to keep track of these changes but find ways to implement them while providing the best service possible for our students. Schedules can change with little or no notice. When special meetings are called that involve your students, you just have to attend. Office time can quickly evaporate.
This brings us back to skills. Without a variety of skills--the ability to use a Braille writer, slate and stylus, Braille notetaker--I would find it difficult to keep up. I don't yet have senior moments, but my memory isn't up to the challenges itinerant work places on it. I work where I can, when I can--in the car, in teachers' lunchrooms, in school office reception rooms. I've Brailled important information on everything from index cards to legal pads to lunchroom napkins--whatever works.
Not all teaching jobs are like mine, but many are. The key is to be prepared for the challenges so that you can reap the rewards. I can't tell you how exciting it is to listen to my student read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, with little hesitation and few mistakes, or find out a student I taught several years ago graduated with honors. I know I make a difference in my students' lives, and that makes all the effort and frustration worthwhile.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Sybil Irvin]
Life after Vision Loss:
My Life before and after I Met the NFB
by Sybil Irvin
From the Editor: The following article first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2001 issue of the NFBC Journal, a publication of the National Federation of the Blind of California. Sybil Irvin has served as chapter president and is now president of the California Chapter on Aging. She is deeply involved in working with seniors losing their sight, and her positive attitude and zest for life are surely an inspiration to those with whom she works. This is what she says:
In 1994 I met a lady who had attended a convention of the National Federation of the Blind. She had been very impressed by that convention. She said that a group wanted to start a chapter in my area and wanted to know if I would be interested.
At about that time my husband's health was failing, so I was exhausted taking care of him. After his death my sight failed even more, so I had more than my share of changes with which to deal. It really took me time to sit back and regroup and decide what I wanted to do with my life, if anything. At that time, like many others, I did not know anything positive about blindness.
Finally I called that lady. I went to a chapter meeting and met a bunch of active, happy blind people. I was very impressed with what I saw and with what the members were doing.
Shortly after I attended that meeting, there was to be a state convention. I decided to attend. At the convention I learned a lot about the organization. I was really impressed, so I went home and became very active in my local chapter. The more active I became, the more active I wanted to be. Since then I have attended every state and national convention. I have even gone to state conventions in Arizona and New Mexico.
Before I found the Federation, I thought a lifesaver was a round candy with a hole in the middle. But when I found the NFB, I really found my lifesaver.
Just a couple of months ago, I chaired the California state convention host committee. Many people told me that they were very pleased with the convention. As you see, the more work I do with the NFB, the more hooked I become. I cannot imagine anyone who is blind or visually impaired not wanting to be a part of this organization. The philosophy is sound; I know because I live it every day. The NFB has made life much better for all blind people, and the friendship and interest the members show one another are really wonderful.
As you can see from the above paragraphs, my life is more meaningful now than I could ever have dreamed. Just a few years back, I could not imagine being so happy being blind, but with the great members around the country, I look forward to getting up every morning so that I can assist more seniors who are losing their sight to find true meaning and excellent assistance in their adjustment to blindness.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Curtis Chong]
Website Accessibility Again
by Curtis Chong
From the Editor: In late April NFB Director of Technology Curtis Chong received an e-mail message from a man, not an NFB member, who was unhappy about inaccessible job applications. He was looking for support for his solution to the problem and wondered how Mr. Chong thought he should proceed with his project. Curtis's answer to this message provides an excellent discussion of this difficult and complicated issue. This is what he said:
May 7, 2002
I read with interest your e-mail dated May 25, 2002. You raise some thought‑provoking points.
You decry the fact that job applications--especially those on paper--are often difficult or impossible for a blind person to fill out without sighted assistance. You say that even job applications that are on the Web or available in some other electronic form are difficult or impossible for a blind person to use. You would solve this problem by establishing a requirement for all government-funded agencies to post all of their job applications on the Web, using a standard format that is accessible. You then go on to suggest some alternatives for turning this idea into reality.
Anything posted on the Web by anyone--whether it be a governmental agency or private organization--should be accessible to blind people using screen-access technology. This is a position which has been espoused by the National Federation of the Blind ever since nonvisual access to the Internet became an issue. We filed a lawsuit against America Online, and because of it AOL 7.0 is much easier to use with screen-access technology than its predecessors. We went after a number of Web‑based tax‑filing services, and today major companies such as Intuit regularly come to the National Federation of the Blind to ensure that the next year's tax‑filing Web application works with screen-access technology. Of course we have a long way to go, as your e-mail so concisely demonstrates. Most Websites are not designed to be accessible to the blind, and consequently those of us who have some ability to use the Internet often run into trouble when trying to use them.
Do we really want to require all job applications to be posted on a Website simply to benefit the blind? If an employer decides to post job applications on the Web, then all of those applications should be accessible to everyone, blind and sighted alike. But to say that, to help the blind, an employer must make job applications available on its Website sends a message which reinforces the notion that the blind cannot compete effectively in the workplace. Imagine what an employer would think. If a blind job applicant can't handle the simple process of filling out a printed application, how can he or she be expected to deal with printed leave slips, memos, reports, and the myriad of printed material that crosses the desks of many professionals every day? Taking this line of reasoning a bit further, should the employer be required to put every piece of printed material on its Website? I don't think so, and I don't believe you do either.
Much of the responsibility for handling printed information must be borne by the blind person. We live in a world that is oriented to sight. The blind are a minority. While we can expect to have some information provided to us in an alternative format, the plain fact of the matter is that there is a fine line between a reasonable accommodation and an unreasonable demand. I happen to believe that requiring nonvisual access to job applications that are already posted on a Website is reasonable.
However, it is not reasonable on the one hand to say that we want an equal chance to compete for a given job while on the other hand we demand that all job applications be provided to us in an accessible electronic format. If an application is available to us only on paper, we should muster the resources necessary to fill it out, and we shouldn't complain about it. I believe this is part of what we mean when we in the National Federation of the Blind talk about fully integrating the blind into society on a basis of equality with the sighted. We do our part whenever and wherever we can, and we ask for help when it can be given without seriously inconveniencing anybody or when the person giving the help stands to benefit by giving it.
Let me be clear about what I am saying here. I agree with you that a lot of forms on the Web are difficult or impossible for even the most highly trained blind computer user to fill out without sighted assistance. You are right to say that forms created using Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) are a real pain in the neck. These are very real problems, and it is reasonable for us to expect‑‑no, demand‑‑that they be solved through the simple expedient of considering nonvisual access issues during the very early stages of the design of a Website or application.
However, when a particular form or application cannot be used without sighted assistance, and if what we want requires us to use that form or application, then we must procure the assistance necessary for us to complete the job. Independence does not always mean that we do it ourselves. It means that we have the wherewithal to take control of our situation and to solve the problems which confront us in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
Curtis Chong, Director of Technology
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
[PHOTO/CAPTION: David Andrews]
You've Got More Mail
by David Andrews
From the Editor: David Andrews has served faithfully for many years now as the systems operator for the NFB's bulletin board.
In March of 1999 the Braille Monitor published an article called "You've Got Mail." Since that time quite a number of Internet mailing lists have been added to NFB Net, so this seems a good time to update this 1999 article.
While the part of the Internet that gets the most attention is the World Wide Web (www), the Internet service that people use the most is electronic mail or e-mail. That is just as true for members of the National Federation of the Blind as it is for our sighted friends. One use of e-mail which has exploded over the past few years is Internet mailing lists, also called listservs.
A listserv is a list of people who use electronic mail to discuss a topic of mutual interest. In general, when you decide to join a mailing list, you send an e-mail message to a special address, with some specified words either in the body of the message or in the To: line or the Subject: line. Your name is then added to the list of subscribers to that list, and you will automatically receive in your electronic mailbox a copy of every message sent to that list.
This kind of communication has a number of advantages and a few disadvantages. First, when properly used, mailing lists allow for very focused topical and timely discussion. You can get answers to specific questions quickly. You can also read and answer mail at your convenience. Support and a real sense of community can develop--something we know a lot about in the NFB. On the downside, message threads sometimes wander, and lots of off-topic messages get posted. Also, because of the impersonal nature of the medium, people say things that they wouldn't say in face-to-face conversations--personal attacks, so-called flames.
Nevertheless, inside and outside the NFB Internet mailing lists are an increasingly popular mode of communication. In fact, hundreds of lists cater to blind and visually impaired people, and tens of thousands of lists exist overall. We now have approximately twenty-four lists on NFB Net, with more coming.
The NFB and many of its divisions, as well as some state affiliates, now sponsor mailing lists. The majority, but not all of them, are hosted by our computer bulletin board/Web/FTP service, NFB Net. In fact, NFB Net is the grandfather of all of our discussion lists, having started NFB Talk and Blind Talk back in 1991.
To subscribe to a list on NFB Net, send a message to <email@example.com>. Leave the subject line blank, and write the word "subscribe" followed by the name of the list to which you are subscribing in the body of the message.
Please note that "listserv" has eight letters: listserv; there is no e on the end. All the body of the message need contain is the word "subscribe" plus the list name, which is a word up to eight characters in length. While names here are shown preceded by the <and followed by>, these punctuation marks are the conventional indication of the beginning and end of an address and should not be included in what you type when subscribing. Also please note that some of the list names contain hyphens, which must be used. Finally, each list is available in two different formats, regular and digest. A regular list means that you get a copy of each message as it is sent to the list, and digest mode means that you get only one message every twenty-four hours. This message contains all the individual messages for the past twenty-four-hour period. On NFB Net digests are composed and sent each evening at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.
Below is the information about each list added to NFB Net since early 1999 and the list names needed to subscribe. These list descriptions are taken from the information automatically sent to users when they subscribe to the list. If you have any problems, please contact David Andrews by e-mail at either <firstname.lastname@example.org> or <email@example.com>.
The purpose of the blind parent list is to create a forum for blind parents to share their experiences. Topics may include but are not limited to solving logistical problems (such as how to manage a couple of wiggly toddlers at a shopping mall when you need one hand for your cane and the other to carry packages), emotional issues such as dealing with the public, and handling a child's embarrassment about blindness. Parents are also encouraged to share resources, such as arranging the exchange of print/Braille books. The list name is <blparent> and the digest name is <parent-d>.
Musictlk is the e-mail list of the National Association of Blind Musicians (NABM), the music division of the National Federation of the Blind. Musictlk offers a forum for the discussion of topics of particular interest and concern to blind persons who work as full-time or part-time musicians and to blind individuals who are preparing to enter the music profession. Such topics might include employment opportunities, copyright law, availability of Braille music, new software, other technology of particular importance to blind musicians, and resolutions and policies of the National Federation of the Blind that may have an impact upon blind musicians and the music profession. The list also serves as a vehicle for the dissemination of information related to the programs, activities, and administration of the National Association of Blind Musicians. Members of NABM or anyone else with a serious involvement or interest in music is invited to be a part of the list. The list name is <musictlk>, and the digest name is <music-d>.
Welcome to the National Association of Blind Office Professionals (NABOP) list. The purpose of the National Association of Blind Office Professionals list is to serve as a vehicle to exchange information between blind people in various office jobs such as telephone operators, receptionists, secretaries, transcribers of Braille transcription and medical transcription, customer service jobs, Braille proofreaders, etc. With proper training and opportunity, blind persons can perform these jobs by learning from others what alternative techniques are being used today. The list name is <nabop>, and the digest name is <nabop-d>.
The purpose of the deaf-blind mailing list is to serve as a vehicle in which deaf-blind people can exchange information on all aspects of daily life, including adjustments to deaf-blindness, sources in obtaining assistive devices designed for deaf-blind persons, and any other NFB-related matters of interest to NFB-DB members. This list is open to all interested parties, including professionals who work with deaf-blind clients, teachers who work in special education for deaf-blind students, parents of deaf-blind children, etc. The list name is <nfb-db>, and the digest name is <nfb-db-d>.
The National Organization of Blind Educators sponsors NOBE-L, a mailing list for blind people working in or aspiring to work in the profession of education. Subscribers to the list work in all levels of education. Some people teach blind students, and some teach sighted students. NOBE-L provides a forum for all blind educators to discuss strategies, techniques, and experiences related to the profession of education. The list name is <nobe-l>, and the digest name is <nobe-d>.
The Rehab list is for interested individuals or workers in the field of rehabilitation for the blind. This listserv is to promote positive attitudes concerning rehabilitation for blind individuals. Discussions may be held in the areas of certification for rehabilitation professionals, job search for customers, assistive technology in the rehabilitation process, necessary alternative techniques, and laws that govern the rehabilitation field. This will give those of us in the field the opportunity to gain support and share ideas. The list name is <rehab>, and the digest name is <rehab-d>.
The purpose of Stylist is for writers to share resources and techniques of writing, but it's also for the purpose of networking and promoting the ideals of NFB and the Writers' Division. The list name is <stylist>, and the digest name is <stylistd>.
The Vendtalk list exists to promote communication to, between, and by blind vendors, as well as others interested in the National Federation of the Blind Merchants Division. Possible topics of discussion include, but are not limited to, the operation of vending facilities, vending machine operation and repair, product selection, other marketing and merchandising topics, laws affecting blind vendors, and more. The list name is <vendtalk>, and the digest name is <vtalk-d>.
Three state affiliates, Alabama, Illinois, and Washington, now have listservs. Members have found this to be an efficient and effective way to communicate with each other.
The purpose of the 4alabama list is to engage in dialogue about issues that affect the blind in this state. Membership on this list includes members of Alabama state agencies serving the blind, teachers of the visually impaired, and consumers. This list is sponsored and run by the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama, and therefore discussions will be limited to issues, legislation, how-to questions, and literature that affect the blind living in the state of Alabama. Issues concerning how to get better services from the agencies and how to get schools to serve your child better are very much welcomed. The list name is <4alabama>, and the digest name is <4al-d>.
The e-mail list of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois is il-talk. The purpose of this listserv is twofold. First, it will provide information to anyone interested in events and issues affecting blind people in Illinois. Second, it will facilitate discussion on topics related to blindness. The list name is <il-talk>, and the digest name is <iltalk-d>.
The purpose of NFBWA Talk is to facilitate discussion among members of the NFB of Washington and to present a means of disseminating announcements of interest to NFB of WA members. There will also be occasional posts concerning issues of major importance to the blind as well as announcements concerning activities of the National Federation of the Blind. The list name is <nfbwatlk>, and the digest name is <nfbwa-d>.
The Art Education for the Blind mailing list exists to discuss the use and development of tactile representations of artwork, especially those produced by Art Education for the Blind (AEB). This group is mainly of interest to those working with AEB materials. The list name is <aebteam>, and the digest name is <aebteamd>.
In addition to these lists, NFB Net also hosts eleven other lists. For information on all lists, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Leave the subject blank, and put the word "index" without the quotes on the first line in the message.
You can now also search or view messages posted on NFB Net via the World Wide Web by using a browser such as Internet Explorer or IBM's Home Page Reader. Go to the address http://www.nfbnet.org. From this page you can subscribe and unsubscribe to mailing lists and view or search the message archives. All messages on listservs hosted on NFB Net are also stored on the bulletin board system for reference or later perusal. You can telnet to NFB Net by pointing your telnet client to <nfbnet.org>. You can also dial in using a standard modem by calling (651) 688-6334. In addition, files stored on NFB Net are also available via the World Wide Web and via FTP. You can go to <http://www.nfbnet.org> or <ftp://ftp.nfbnet.org> to retrieve files, including past issues of the Braille Monitor, Future Reflections, and more.
We would also like to remind you that it is possible to get the Braille Monitor electronically each month. The <brl-monitor> list provides the entire text of the month's Braille Monitor directly to your electronic mailbox. Well over 800 readers from around the world subscribe to this list. This is an efficient, timely, and inexpensive way to receive the Monitor.
To receive the Braille Monitor electronically, send a message to <email@example.com>. Leave the subject line blank, and in the body of the message write "subscribe brl-monitor" followed by your full name. For example, if I wanted to subscribe, I would put the following in the body of the message: subscribe brl-monitor David Andrews. I would then send the message to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
If your NFB state affiliate, division, or group wishes to start its own list, please have the president or an authorized officer contact David Andrews by telephone at (651) 688-6364 or by e-mail at email@example.com to make the arrangements. See you online.
Maid of Honor
by Emily Wharton
From the Editor: This article first appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of the Minnesota Bulletin, the publication of the NFB of Minnesota. It was the winner of the 2001 Metro Chapter essay contest. It provides another illustration of what happens when a person truly embraces the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. This is what Emily says:
Late last fall my sister Mandie called me to tell me that she was getting married. I was thrilled for her. I had met her boyfriend Ben several times. He's a great guy, and they are adorable together. She asked me if I would stand up for her. She said that she wanted both our other sister Kim and me to serve as her maids of honor. I felt very grateful, but a little nervous. I couldn't remember the last time I had been to a wedding, and I had no idea what it was like to be a member of the wedding party. Knowing Mandie, I knew this wedding would be complicated and extravagant. Mandie is a younger, louder version of Martha Stewart.
Within a few weeks I learned that my first task would be to write a poem that I would then read during the wedding ceremony. I couldn't refuse, but I felt really uncomfortable. Mandie was having her wedding in my parents' church-–the church I had grown up in. I hadn't been in the front of that church since the seventh grade, and I had had no intention of ever getting up there again.
When I was a child, I had essentially the same vision I have now. I was blind, but I could see well enough to read print. So the powers that be decided that I didn't need to learn any blindness skills. I wasn't given a cane. I could manage in good lighting, but I stumbled a lot in dark places.
Every year our Sunday School presented a Christmas Eve program. We memorized lines, and the children in band played their instruments. When I was in seventh grade, I had to recite my lines at the lectern and then cross in front of the altar to where my saxophone was waiting. The lights were low, and I couldn't see where I was going. I stepped on the leg of the second grader who was playing Mary and tripped. I was mortified. When Christmas came around the following year, I was so afraid it might happen again that I couldn't bring myself to perform at all, so I faked a stomach ache and stayed home.
After college I received adjustment-to-blindness training and learned to use a cane and read Braille. I joined the National Federation of the Blind and developed a positive attitude toward blindness. I now use a cane and have even taught cane travel. I often get up on stages at coffee houses and literary centers to read my poetry without a second thought. But there was something about going back to that place-–it brought back that memory and made me really nervous.
I finished writing the poem the day before the wedding. I knew the best thing to do would be to memorize it, pound it into my brain so that my nerves wouldn't get the better of me. But I had very little time left, and I knew that with all the last-minute preparations I would have to learn it on the go. So I wrote it out in Braille and took it with me everywhere I went. I read in the car, at the beauty shop while I was getting my hair done, at the church between photographs. But I wasn't satisfied that I wouldn't freeze up or forget a line, so I put my Braille copy on the lectern just in case.
The rehearsal was the night before the wedding. My sister had eight bridesmaids, and her fiance had only six groomsmen. So we decided that my dad would walk Kim and me up the aisle and then walk out the side door to meet Mandie. I had been wondering what I was going to do with my cane. I knew that I needed it. Some very oddly-shaped steps lay between where I was supposed to stand and the lectern. I knew I wouldn't have another incident like the one in seventh grade.
But I also knew that I wanted to have my cane with me. Growing up, I not only lacked blindness skills, I also had no idea that being blind could be anything but embarrassing or shameful. People always seemed to talk about my blindness with whispered euphemisms, referring to me as "the Wharton girl who can't see very well." So I did everything I could to hide my blindness. I pretended to see things that I couldn't, like slide shows or people's outfits. I even scored poorly on history tests because I couldn't read them fast enough and was too embarrassed to ask for help. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't totally hide my blindness, and I ended up frustrated, exhausted, and miserable.
When I learned the skills of blindness and joined the National Federation of the Blind, I learned that I didn't have to put all that effort into hiding my blindness. I met competent, confident blind people who showed me by example that being blind is okay. They taught me that being blind isn't shameful; it is perfectly normal. This lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. It was a wonderful relief to enter a room without having to wonder, "Do these people know I can't see?"
There were going to be at least 350 people at the wedding (which is a third of the population of the town). I wanted them all to see that I am comfortable with being blind. I wanted them to know that they don't have to whisper anymore.
But I wasn't sure how my family was going to react to my carrying my cane up the aisle. Just as it had been a difficult process for me to become comfortable with my blindness, it had been difficult for them. They had to learn to let me do things for myself. They had to hear me talk about blindness and see me walk around with my cane in order really to know that it was okay. They had made a great deal of progress, but I live 250 miles away, and they see me perhaps five or six times a year, so they sometimes have a tendency to see me as I was and not as I am now.
My mother was the first to broach the subject. She said, in a roundabout way, that I probably wouldn't need my cane since I would have my dad's arm. But Mandie, the real decision-maker at this event, didn't seem to worry at all. She told me to do whatever made me most comfortable. This made me feel very happy and helped me to relax quite a bit.
The whole ceremony went off beautifully. I made it to the lectern and back easily and delivered the poem smoothly, though my voice quivered from trying to hold back tears. When I left the sanctuary, I was elated. Mostly I was happy for my sister and the wonderful new life she was beginning, but part of my happiness was for myself. I felt as though I had written over those childhood memories of fear and embarrassment with memories of confidence and grace. I was able to do my part to make my sister's wedding a beautiful day she will always remember. But I don't think I could ever have done this if I hadn't learned to use a cane and read Braille. And I know for certain that I could not have done this if my friends in the National Federation of the Blind hadn't shown me that it really is respectable to be blind.
You can create a gift annuity by transferring money or property to the National Federation of the Blind. In turn, the NFB contracts to pay you income for life or to your spouse or loved ones after your death. How much you and your heirs receive as income depends on the amount of the gift and your age when payments begin. You will receive a tax deduction for the full amount of your contribution, less the value of the income the NFB pays to you or your heirs.
You would be wise to consult an attorney or accountant when making such arrangements so that he or she can assist you to consider current IRS regulations and calculate the earning potential of your funds. The following example illustrates how a charitable gift annuity can work to your advantage.
Mary Jones, age sixty-five, decides to set up a charitable gift annuity by transferring $10,000 to the NFB. In return the NFB agrees to pay Mary a lifetime annuity of $750 per year, of which $299 is tax-free. Mary is also allowed to claim a tax deduction of $4,044 in the year the NFB receives the $10,000 contribution.
For more information about charitable gift annuities, contact the National Federation of the Blind, Special Gifts, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998, (410) 659-9314, fax (410) 685-5653.
Braille Is Beautiful
The following little review was published in the magazine NEA Today and is reprinted with permission.
Looking for ways to help your students understand the perspectives of those with disabilities? Braille Is Beautiful, a new program from the National Federation of the Blind, could be just the ticket.
Braille Is Beautiful is a flexible, hands-on program that comes complete with a Braille stylus and slate for kids to learn with. It aims to help sighted students in grades four through six understand not only Braille but also the many capabilities and achievements of blind people.
Marc Maurer, the Federation's president and himself blind, created the program to make blindness "less weird" to kids.
"I've used few materials that generate as much excitement," says Claudia Bosworth, who last year introduced Braille Is Beautiful to her thirty-two fifth graders at Fort Smallwood Elementary in Pasadena, Maryland. "My students all wanted their own slate and stylus. Several of the kids contacted the National Federation of the Blind on their own."
Bosworth especially appreciated the program's classroom video, Jake and the Secret Code. In the video ten-year-old Jake becomes separated from his mother while visiting the National Federation of the Blind. He wanders into the office of Mr. Chong, who puzzles him by doing lots of things Jake didn't think blind people could do.
Mr. Chong gives Jake a crash course in the "secret code" of Braille. He also clues Jake in on how to help his mother become more comfortable around blind people.
"Nothing is more fun than a secret code," says Bosworth. She adds, "After using Braille Is Beautiful, I saw my students become more understanding of children in other areas as well, whether it was a disability or just a kid who wasn't as quick at a given subject."
Braille Is Beautiful includes five instructional units with a variety of learning formats including group discussions, interactive games, and applied projects. Parts of the program can be used together or alone.
"To me blindness is not unusual," Maurer says. "It isn't that I forget it, but it's not a thing I think about much. But to many people it's weird."
"Children can be cruel. If there is a noticeable difference in another child, it will be used against that kid--unless the difference has charm," says Maurer. "With Braille Is Beautiful, we're trying to take an isolating difference and make it into a charming difference."
For information, visit <www.nfb.org> or call (410) 659-9314.
This month's recipes have been contributed by members of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Marie Whitteker]
Peanut Butter Divinity
by Marie Whitteker
NFB of Minnesota president Joyce Scanlan says, "Marie Whitteker has been a member and valued leader of the National Federation of the Blind for many years. She attended her first national convention in Minneapolis in 1947. Her skill in making peanut butter divinity is the envy of all. When Marie's divinity comes up for sale at our annual convention auctions, the bidding becomes ruthlessly competitive. On August 11, 2002, Marie will celebrate her eighty-ninth birthday."
2‑1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites at room temperature
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
Method: In a 9‑quart saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Bring to a boil and cook until it reaches the hard-ball stage (260 degrees on a candy thermometer), stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. After that point stir frequently and test by dropping a bit from your spoon into a cup of cold water. When the syrup forms a hard ball after submersion in the cold (but not ice) water, it is ready.
In a large bowl beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually pour the cooked syrup onto egg whites, beating continuously at high speed with an electric mixer. Add peanut butter and beat until candy holds its shape, about 3 to 4 minutes. Test candy by spooning a small amount onto waxed paper. Mixture should mound rather than flatten out. When candy is ready, quickly drop from a teaspoon onto waxed paper.
Makes about 5 dozen candies.
Polish Reuben Casserole
by Lawrence Kettner
Lawrence Kettner is a longtime leader in the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota. He is an outstanding cook and a regular contributor to our traditional bake auction fund raisers held at state conventions. His homemade pickles go for a high price on the auction block.
2 cans (10‑3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1‑1/3 cups milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 cans (16 ounces each) sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
1/2 package (8 ounces) uncooked medium‑width noodles
1‑1/2 pounds Polish sausage, cut into 1/2‑inch pieces
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cups bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Method: Cut Polish sausage lengthwise and then into 1/2‑inch pieces. (Optional: Brown the sausage and drain or blot away fat with paper towels.) Set aside. In a large bowl combine cream of mushroom soup, milk, chopped onion, and prepared mustard. Blend together well and set aside. Spread sauerkraut in greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with uncooked noodles (about 2 cups). Spoon soup mixture evenly over top. Top with sausage, then cheese. Combine melted butter and bread crumbs in a small bowl; sprinkle over the top. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven one hour or until the noodles are tender. Makes eight to ten servings.
by Ahmed Chaing
Ahmed Chaing is president of the Minnesota Association of Blind Students and an active member of the National Federation of the Blind. He came to the U.S. from Sudan in December of 1999. As a worthy Minnesotan he has adopted chicken divan casserole as one of his favorite dishes. Ahmed served this casserole for his buffet meal when he was a student at BLIND, Inc.
1 16-ounce package frozen cut broccoli
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 10‑3/4-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 ounces (1/2 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
Method: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two-quart baking dish. Cook broccoli as directed on package; drain. Arrange broccoli in greased baking dish. Layer chicken over broccoli. In small bowl combine soup, mayonnaise, and lemon juice; mix well. Spread over chicken; sprinkle with cheese. Combine bread crumbs and melted margarine or butter; sprinkle over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty to thirty-five minutes or until thoroughly heated. Makes six servings.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Tom and Joyce Scanlan]
Irish Lamb Stew
by Tom and Joyce Scanlan
Joyce Scanlan is president of the NFB of Minnesota and executive director of BLIND, Inc., the adult training center in Minneapolis. Her husband Tom is a longtime leader of the affiliate and currently edits the newsletter. Joyce says, "This has become our favorite recipe for Irish stew, which we serve on St. Patrick's Day to from twenty‑four to forty guests. Other items on the menu are smoked salmon on crackers, sweet and sour red cabbage, soda bread, shamrock cookies, and Irish coffee, with lots of lively Irish music in the background."
2 pounds boned leg of lamb, cut in 2‑inch pieces
1 quart water
2 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
2 celery tops
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Accent
2 cups cubed yellow turnips
6 small onions, peeled
3 medium potatoes, pared and halved
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons water
Method: Place lamb in a saucepan or Dutch oven with 1 quart water, parsley, bay leaf, celery tops, salt, and Accent. Cover and simmer one and one‑half hours or until lamb is tender.
Add turnips, onions, and potatoes. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender.
Combine flour and water and stir until smooth. Stir into lamb mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until broth is thickened. Makes six servings.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Emily Fuselier]
Peanut Butter Pie
by Emily Fuselier
Emily Fuselier is a leader in the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota. She loves baking pies and cakes. She frequently brings her scrumptious offerings to BLIND, Inc., where she serves as information and referral officer/receptionist. This recipe for peanut butter pie is one of her special favorites.
18 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed (or you can use Oreo or chocolate wafer crumbs)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 to 2 cups whipping cream, whipped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Method: Combine cookie crumbs and 2 tablespoons softened butter in a bowl; mix well. Press firmly and evenly over the bottom and sides of a pie plate.
Beat the cream cheese with the sugar, peanut butter, and 2 tablespoons melted butter in a mixing bowl until well blended. Fold in whipped cream and vanilla and spread this mixture atop the crumb mixture in the pie plate.
Melt the chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan, stirring constantly, and then blend in oil. Decorate the pie with the chocolate mixture by piping it with a decorating tube, or drizzle it over the top. Refrigerate or freeze until serving time. If the pie has been frozen, thaw before serving. Makes 6 servings.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Jan Bailey]
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
by Jan Bailey
Jan Bailey serves as president of the Rochester Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind and is on the state Board of Directors in Minnesota. She is everyone's first choice when seeking a State Services for the Blind rehabilitation counselor. Jan has many fine recipes in her collection, and this is one she was eager to share.
1 package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup oil
1 package instant lemon pudding mix
1/4 cup poppy seeds
Method: Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly with wooden spoon or electric mixer. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for fifty to sixty minutes.
News from the Federation Family
Building Our E-Mail List:
If you have an e-mail address you wish the NFB to use, please send us a message from that address. In the subject line write the word "Add." In the body of the message write your name as you wish us to have it, your mailing address, and any telephone numbers you want us to have. Please label these clearly (home, work, fax, cell). Send the message to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Even if you are certain that we have your correct e-mail address, please take a moment to send us this information in this way. We are building a new list electronically, so providing us the information again will be extremely helpful. Remember that your message must be sent from the address you wish us to use, because the address you use will be the one our system will pick up.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Larry McKeever]
Attention Affiliates, Agencies, and Centers:
An experienced reader will read and record any print material onto the sound medium of your choice. If print copy is e-mailed, usually a twenty-four- to forty-eight-hour turnaround. Masters furnished on either cassette or CD for $75 per ninety-minute recording.
Currently reading Ohio, Minnesota, and California newsletters. Write to Larry A. McKeever, 7255 El Rancho Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa, 50322, e-mail to <email@example.com>, or see me at convention in the Jernigan Suite.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: On hand for the ATM opening announcement were (from left to right) Nandita Bakhski, Fleet Executive Vice President; George Salpietro, Executive Director of the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation; Betty Woodward, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut; Chandler Howard, President of Fleet in Connecticut; and Bruce Woodward, Treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut.]
Talking ATMs in Connecticut:
February 7, 2002, found NFB of Connecticut members, Services for the Blind staff, other members of the blind community, bank employees, and press representatives gathered in the lobby of the downtown Hartford Fleet Bank. We were there to celebrate the newly installed talking ATM machine. Private and independent banking is now possible for blind and visually impaired people in Hartford and in fourteen other Fleet Banks. Twenty more talking ATMs are expected to be installed in Connecticut and 1,700 throughout New England by the end of the year.
The National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut figured prominently in the arrangements and in the program itself. The invitation went out from the NFBC and Fleet Bank, and our NFBC banner hung with Fleet Bank's banner. Betty Woodward, President of the NFB of Connecticut, discussed the talking ATM and the fact that it gives blind people independence and privacy while they take care of banking needs. Refreshments were served. The event was covered by the Wethersfield Post, thanks to Tom Barretta, NFB Board Member and New Britain chapter president, who works for that paper's publisher.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Seville Allen]
On April 11, 2002, Governor Mark Warner of Virginia appointed NFB of Virginia First Vice President Seville Allen to be Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired. We can all rejoice that a person with Seville's extraordinary ability and positive philosophy will now occupy a post of critical importance to the blind of Virginia. Congratulations to Seville and to all those who worked hard to promote her candidacy.
Sturgis, South Dakota, became the site of South Dakota's sixth NFB chapter. Elected were Mary Young, President; Laura Compton, Vice President; Irene Millin, Secretary; and Wayne Erickson, Treasurer.
Attention Lions and Kiwanians:
If you are a member of either the Lions or the Kiwanis, please take note of this announcement:
NFB members who are also Lions will have a meeting at National Convention on Monday, July 8, at 7:30 a.m. Joe Ruffalo will coordinate the meeting.
NFB members who are also members of Kiwanis will have a meeting at National Convention on Tuesday, July 9, at 7:30 a.m. Charlie Brown will coordinate. We look forward to seeing you.
We are delighted to report that the Flatirons Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado was formed on May 4, 2002. The officers are Steve Jenkins, President; Curtis Wyman, Vice President; Robert Smithtro, Secretary; Crissy McLaughlin, Treasurer; and Mitzie Parker, Board Member. Congratulations.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Carlos David Andrews]
We are delighted to report that in late April David and Michelle Andrews brought home their new son Carlos David Andrews from Guatemala to their home just outside St. Paul, Minnesota. Carlos was born on November 10, 2001. Dave Andrews is the system operator of the NFB computer bulletin board service and manages most of the NFB listservs. Congratulations to the entire Andrews family.
On March 9, 2002, the Fresno Chapter of the NFB of California elected Shirley Harper, president; Toni Eames, Vice President; Jan Kafton, Secretary; Ed Eames, Treasurer; and Olivia Ostergaard and Annette Carter, Board Members.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Lloyd Jernigan, August 4, 1923, to April 16, 2002]
On April 16, 2002, a man who had become a good friend and fierce supporter of the National Federation of the Blind, Lloyd Jernigan, died. He was the brother of Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, the most dramatic builder of programming for the blind of the twentieth century and the long-time president of the National Federation of the Blind.
Lloyd Jernigan was born in Tennessee in 1921. He served in the army in the Pacific during World War II. After the war he became an autoworker building cars in Detroit for much of the remainder of his working life.
These are a few of the facts about Lloyd Jernigan, but they do not give a complete picture of the spirit of the man. He was blunt-spoken but generous and intellectually curious. He loved America and the spirit of the American people. He believed in Yankee ingenuity, and he thought he could build anything.
Though he loved his brother, he grew up in a time when blindness was not well understood. Lloyd Jernigan’s parents indicated to him at one point that he should be prepared to take care of his blind brother. He wanted to live his own life, and he did not know how to care for a blind man. The notion of caring for his brother made him nervous and uneasy. As a consequence the two men did not spend as much time with each other during a portion of their mature years as they might have. However, Lloyd Jernigan discovered his brother’s work during the latter part of his life when he had leisure to consider such things. He admired it very much, and he decided to do his part to help. For the past fifteen or twenty years Lloyd Jernigan has been a member of the National Federation of the Blind. He has worked diligently to bring people into the organization. Part of his effort has been identifying blind students in school and connecting them with people inside the organization.
In 1998 Lloyd Jernigan suggested to the convention of the National Federation of the Blind that we establish the Kenneth Jernigan Fund. This fund is used to assist blind people to participate fully in Federation activities--especially first-timers, who have not had a chance previously to come to the convention.
Lloyd Jernigan was a sergeant during World War II who participated in some of the heaviest fighting in the defeat of the Japanese. He saw the horror of war. However, he believed that wars are fought to protect those who cannot protect themselves and to preserve decency and fairness. He was pleased that he had been able to serve his country. Although he was modest enough not to boast about such things, Lloyd Jernigan was decorated for his service in the war. He was our good friend, and we will miss him.
We are delighted to report that on May 9, 2002, Katrina Nerys Beasley, daughter of longtime Federationists Jeremiah and Andrea Gashel Beasley and first granddaughter of James Gashel and Arlene Hill, was born in Denver, Colorado. She weighed seven pounds, one ounce and was nineteen and three-quarters inches long. Everyone is doing well. Congratulations to the whole family.
Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.
Computer Job Training and Placement:
Lift is a nonprofit company that recruits, qualifies, trains, and hires information technology professionals with physical disabilities and places them with major corporations. Johnson & Johnson and Verizon Wireless are two of more than eighty corporate clients that Lift has served.
If you are interested in more information about Lift, please visit its Website at <www.lift‑inc.org>, or call Lift at (908) 707‑9840 or (800) 552‑5438.
Attention Animal Lovers:
Lauren Merryfield extends two invitations to you:
The CATLINES MEWsletter for catlovers and biz‑kittens (work‑at‑home newbies) is into its third edition as of this printing. Sign up free at <http://www.catliness.com> Catly writings welcome. Actually, petly writings are fine; we love other animals too as long as they stay clear of the cats. Find enlightenment and entertainment with us at the CATLINES MEWsletter.
Second, do you know what to do when your animal's joints are obviously painful, something they look up to you to fix? The answer is at <http://www.healthypetnet.com/catly>. Please do this for your pet's sake. Working dogs could be of service to you with much less pain and for a longer time.
The Music Section of the Library of Congress is no longer receiving regular mail at the Taylor Street address in Washington, D.C., and it will not be receiving mail for the foreseeable future. All music materials will continue to be sent out from this facility, but returns will be made to the MultiState Center East until further notice. The return address to use is Music Section, Library of Congress, MultiState Center, 685 Redna Terrace, Cincinnati, Ohio 45215-1190.
If at all possible, patrons should use the telephone, e-mail, or fax to communicate with the Music Section, as below. If you normally send in requests by mail, you must now use UPS or Fedex, or we will not receive your request. Telephone (800) 424-8567, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>, fax (202) 707-0712.
Medical Transcription Career Opportunities Anywhere:
Medical transcriptionists (MTs) can now take advantage of high-tech innovations to build and expand businesses while traveling and living in remote locations. The steps to worldwide MT success are clearly and comprehensively described in the fully revised fourth edition of The Independent Medical Transcriptionist, a Comprehensive Guidebook for Career Success in a Medical Transcription Business by Donna Avila-Weil, RHIT, and Mary Glaccum, ISBN 1-877810-52-5. Cost of the 528-page book is $39.95. It can be purchased at bookstores or from Rayve Productions, (800) 852-4890 or by contacting the Website, <www.rayveproductions.com>.
Los Angeles County Metro Railway Finder Kit:
This kit includes the Metro subway lines in Braille and large print as well as two cassettes describing how to enter the rail stations. Also included is a large map of the Red, Green, and Blue Lines, showing all of the stops.
This kit is available from the Southern California M.T.A. or in the library of Christian Services for the Blind, P.O. Box 26, South Pasadena, California 91030‑0026, phone (626) 799‑3935, fax (626) 403‑9460, e-mail <email@example.com>.
This kit would be a great help for disabled travelers, especially those from out of town. Please contact Christian Services for the Blind or the M.T.A. for a copy.
Also, if readers are interested, Christian Services for the Blind has a library of Braille books and tapes available for borrowing. Write to us at the above address to request a free catalog on tape, in Braille, or in print. We have a large list of blind and deaf‑blind people who subscribe to our books, so we are trying to preserve the Braille editions of our materials.
P.S. Thanks to all of those good and generous people who have sent us reusable cassettes. They are much appreciated.
New Book Available:
The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision is pleased to announce the availability of a new publication, Consumer and Employer Strategies for Overcoming Employment Barriers. This book explores strategies and methods for rehabilitation providers and employers assisting blind people in overcoming employment barriers. The publication is available in print as well as on cassette and disk for $20 per copy. Orders should be directed to Ms. Kelly Schaefer at (662) 325-1363 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Like to Cook?:
Looking for an exotic or ethnic herb or spice? I make my own blends, which I can ship with transparent Braille labels applied over the print labels. I also stock a large selection of spices, herbs, botanicals, hot sauces, chili peppers, massage oils, teas, chai, tisanes, and more. Please visit my Web address at <www.auntiearwenspices.com> and when you are there and you find something you would like to order, go to the details box and toggle the "Braille labels" button before adding the item to your shopping cart. My ever-popular chili recipe can be found under the entry for oregano, Mexican. I accept MasterCard, Visa, or personal checks (made out to the Crystal Connection) and mailed to Auntie Arwen's Spice Blends, P.O. Box 123, Haddam, Connecticut 06438.
Are you blind and unemployed? Want to get off SSI or SSDI? Watkins may be the answer for you. By having a Watkins home-based business, you can earn significant income for college, family, vacations, or whatever. Watkins is a 134-year-old direct sales company, specializing in specialty food items, cleaning supplies, health care products, and much more. Also Watkins can be a great fund raiser for your chapter or affiliate or for you personally. For more information call Olivia Ostergaard, Watkins Associate, at (559) 226-4557, or e-mail <OWL@SIERRA-TEL.COM>.
The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.
Two Perkins Braillers for Sale:
Robert Schafer, (256) 350‑9723, has two reconditioned Perkins Braillewriters for sale. He is asking $300 each.
Two Computers for Sale:
I am interested in selling two computers. The first is a Pentium III with a 500 MHZ processor, 20 gig hard drive, 128 MB RAM, Sound Blaster live sound card, CD ROM, speakers, fifteen-inch color monitor, Windows 98 second edition operating system, hot keys set up for blind users, mouse, Office 2000 installed, and 3-1/2-inch floppy drive, in excellent condition. Asking $700 plus shipping.
The second is a Pentium III, with a 500 MHZ processor, 20 gig hard drive, 256 MB RAM, Sound Blaster live sound card, CDRW writer, speakers, fifteen-inch color monitor, Windows 98 second edition operating system, hot keys set up for blind users, mouse, Office 2000 installed, and 3-1/2-inch floppy drive, excellent condition. Asking $800 plus shipping.
Those making serious inquiries should contact Laura Ann at (877) 633‑8553.
Jerry Richer is a Federationist in northern New York who is an adaptive technology vendor and intermittent adaptive technology trainer for the New York Commission for the Blind. His company is BA Software. He says:
Window Eyes version 4.2 is available from BA Software in the United States for $595 Standard, and $795 Professional. Triple Talk is available from us worldwide for $350 PCI Internal, and $450 USB External. Prices include shipping in the United States. Reach BA Software in northern New York at (260) 359‑8538, <basoftware@ChirpingBat.Com>, or <www.ChirpingBat.Com>.
Perkins Braillewriter, completely rebuilt, asking $325.
Bicycle built for two, about five years old and ridden very little. Comes loaded with all accessories like speedometer, lights, air pump, fenders, lock, extra set of tires, etc. It is in excellent condition. Asking $500. Contact Nino Pacini, 5237 Hillcrest Street, Detroit, Michigan 48236-2103, (313) 885-7330, e-mail <email@example.com>.
Reconditioned Perkins Brailler in excellent condition including vinyl dust cover, asking $300.
Braille 'n Speak Scholar, one year old, but used very little, including extra software, leather carrying case, battery charger, A/C adapter, serial interface cable for connection to PC, parallel printer cable, PC disk and large-print manual, Braille and large-print reference guide, audio tape tutorial, asking $400.
IBM NetVista desktop computer with Magic 8.0 magnification and speech already installed, one year old, in excellent condition. It has an Intel Celeron 667 MHz CPU, 64 megabytes of RAM, ten gigabyte hard drive, 56 KBps V.90 modem, 48 x CD ROM drive, 3.5-inch floppy drive, with matching IBM 17-inch monitor, keyboard, speakers, and mouse, asking $300.
Shipping costs for each item are the actual cost, or I will mail the Brailler and Braille 'n Speak as free matter, if you prefer. Insurance, if desired, is extra. For more information, contact Bobbie Evans at (309) 755-0828 or e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The Optelec 20/20 enables people with low vision to read and write easily. Designed for use at home, in the classroom, or at work, the 20/20 is perfect for reading mail and newspapers. It magnifies from three to sixty times and requires fourteen inches of table space. Original price is $3,433, asking $800. Contact John Mills, (573) 339-0933, 61 Garnet Lane, Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701, or e-mail <email@example.com>.
Have you made your campaign pledge yet? We need everyone’s help. Please take this opportunity to complete your pledge form. Without you our job will be just that much harder.
The Campaign to Change What It Means to Be Blind
Capital Campaign Pledge Intention
City, State, and Zip:_______________________________________
Home Phone: Work Phone:________________________________
City, State, Zip:___________________________________________
To support the priorities of the Campaign, I (we) pledge the sum of $________.
My (our) pledge will be payable in installments of $ __________ over the next ____ years (we encourage pledges paid over five years), beginning _____________, on the following schedule (check one):
__ annually, __ semi-annually, __ quarterly, __ monthly
I (we) have enclosed a down payment of $ ________________
___ Gift of stock: _____________________ shares of _____________
___ My employer will match my gift.
Please list (my) our names in all Campaign Reports and on the Campaign Wall of Honor in the appropriate Giving Circle as follows:
__ I (We) wish to remain anonymous.
Signed: ________________________________ Date: __________________
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.