_______________________________________________________________________________

Braille Monitor

Vol. 49, No. 3                                                                     March 2006

Barbara Pierce, editor

Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT

 

National Office
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
telephone: (410) 659-9314
email address: nfb@nfb.org
Web site address: http://www.nfb.org
NFBnet.org: http://www.nfbnet.org
NFB-NEWSLINE® information: (866) 504-7300

 

Letters to the president, address changes,
subscription requests, and orders for NFB literature
should be sent to the National Office.
Articles for the Monitor and letters to the editor may also
be sent to the National Office or may be emailed to bpierce@nfb.org.

 

Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation about twenty-five dollars per year.
Members are invited, and nonmembers are requested, to cover
 
the subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to
National Federation of the Blind and sent to:

National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES

        ISSN 0006-8829

____________________________________________________________________

Texas flag and outline of the state.Dallas Site of 2006 NFB Convention

The 2006 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Dallas, Texas, July 1 through 7, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel at 2201 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75207. Early this year the Wyndham Anatole property in Dallas became part of the Hilton chain. Because of this transition you should make your room reservation with the Hilton Anatole staff only. Call (214) 761-7500.

The 2006 room rates are singles, doubles, and twins $60 and triples and quads $65 a night, plus a 15 percent sales tax. The hotel is accepting reservations now. A $60-per-room deposit is required to make a reservation. Fifty percent of the deposit will be refunded if notice is given to the hotel of a reservation cancellation before June 1, 2006. The other 50 percent is not refundable.

Rooms will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be made before June 1, 2006, assuming that rooms are still available. After that time the hotel will not hold our block of rooms for the convention. In other words, you should get your reservation in soon.

Guest room amenities include cable television, coffee pot, iron and ironing board, hair dryer, and high-speed Internet access. The Hilton Anatole has six excellent restaurants, twenty-four-hour-a-day room service, first-rate meeting space, and other top-notch facilities. It is in downtown Dallas with $16 shuttle service to both the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport and Love Field.

The 2006 convention will follow what many think of as our usual schedule:

Saturday, July 1                 Seminar Day
Sunday, July 2                   Registration Day
Monday, July 3                  Board Meeting and Division Day
Tuesday, July 4                 Opening Session
Wednesday, July 5             Tour Day
Thursday, July 6                Banquet Day
Friday, July 7                    Business Session


Convention Preregistration Information

At the national convention last year we announced that we would introduce a preregistration system for the 2006 annual convention in Dallas. Here are the preliminary details of that system. You will be able to register for the convention in advance as well as purchase your convention banquet tickets ahead of time. Those of you who take advantage of preregistration can expect to save a few dollars and wait in fewer lines when you get to the hotel in Dallas.

Preregistration can be done both online at our Web site and through regular U.S. postal mail. Registration at convention in Dallas this year will be $20, but you can save $5 by registering in advance and pay only $15. Tickets for the 2006 convention banquet will be $40 if purchased at convention. Again, save yourself $5 and pay $35 if you buy your banquet tickets ahead of time.

Preregistration will be available for three months, starting March 1 and closing May 31. You’ll be able to register online at our secure Web site using a credit card (Master Card, Visa, or Discover only) by visiting <http://www.nfb.org/convent/prereg.htm>. Or visit our homepage and follow the convention link to information about preregistration. Preregistration can also be done through the mail with a check or money order. Registration forms will be available online and in the March Braille Monitor. All mail orders must be postmarked by May 31. Both online and mail preregistrants will receive a confirmation letter, telling you that your registration or banquet ticket purchase has been processed.

You should keep a couple of important details in mind.

1. Preregistrations and banquet ticket purchases are final. We will make absolutely no refunds.
2. We will not accept registrations over the phone.
3. Preregistration does not secure you a room at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. You must still reserve your room by calling the hotel at (214) 761-7500.

So, beginning March 1, save yourself both time and money by preregistering for our 2006 annual convention.

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Contents

Vol. 49, No. 3                                                                                       March 2006

Frontispiece

2006 National Convention Preregistration Form

Exploring Texas: 2006 Convention Tours
by Tommy Craig

The 2006 Washington Seminar
by Barbara Pierce

2006 Washington Seminar Fact Sheets

Jason’s Climb
by Daniel B. Frye

News from the Cruise
by Barbara Pierce

“Why Do You Wear Those Shades?” Communicating Competence in the Classroom
by J. Webster Smith

Compassionate Companions
A Man and His Dog Reach Tough Teens
by Deborah Circelli

Ask Miss Whozit

Telling Time and Catching Buses
by Marilyn Moss Donehey

Meet an NFB Member
by Steve Jacobson

Convention Scholarships Available
by Allen Harris

Recipes

Monitor Miniatures

 

Lead Photo Caption: The Columbia Room of the Holiday Inn Capitol as the 2006 great gathering in meeting begins. Federation leaders and rank-and-file members crowd together to make room in the standing-room-only audience.

 

2006 National Convention Preregistration Form

Please use this form or provide all the requested information.

Registrant Name ___________________________________________________
(print legibly)
Address _________________________________________________________
City ____________________________________________________________
State ___________________________________ Zip ____________________
Phone __________________________________________________________


___ I will pick up my registration packet at convention.
___ The following person will pick up my registration packet: Pickup Name ______________________________________


Please register only one person per registration form.
One check or money order may cover multiple registrations.
Check or money order (sorry, no credit cards) must be enclosed with registration form(s).


Number of registrations x $15 = ____________

Banquet tickets x $35 = ____________

Total ______________


Mail to: National Federation of the Blind
Attn: Convention Registration
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

Registrations must be postmarked by May 31, 2006.

 

Exploring Texas 2006 Convention Tours

by Tommy Craig

From the Editor: If it’s March, it must be time to think about convention tours. President of the NFB of Texas Tommy Craig and the rest of our affiliate hosts have rustled up a fine array of activities for you to enjoy on Monday evening, Wednesday afternoon, and Friday following convention adjournment. Read on, and make your tour decisions early. Here are the tour descriptions:

As everyone knows, things are bigger and of course better in Texas. During the 2006 national convention in Dallas the members of the NFB of Texas would like you to have a chance to explore a little of what Texas has to offer. In order to do this, we have arranged a number of tours to suit everyone’s interest. As you will see, there are a variety of tour choices. If you see one you like, please make your reservations early. The deadline for tour reservations is June 12. If there isn’t enough interest in a particular tour, it will be dropped, and your money will be refunded. So, if you see something you like, make sure you get those reservations in early so your tour doesn’t get canceled.

Major League Evening Baseball Game

The first tour will be on Monday, July 3. It’s a must for all you baseball fans. The tour includes transportation to the ball park in Arlington to see the Texas Rangers play the Blue Jays. A ticket to the game is also included in the tour price of $44.

Now for tour day, Wednesday, July 5. As you can see, there’s a lot to choose from. All of these tours will take place on Wednesday afternoon.

Dallas Highlights and JFK Museum Tour: 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Tour members will leave for a Dallas Highlights Tour featuring sights such as the Old Red Courthouse, Dealey Plaza, the grassy knoll and the JFK assassination site, the JFK Memorial, the Sixth Floor Museum (exploring the life and legacy of John F. Kennedy), the West End historic district, Dallas City Hall, Pioneer Plaza (forty bronze longhorns), the arts district, Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Hall, McKinney Avenue, homes in Highland Park, and much more.

Tour includes transportation, tour guide and admission to the 6th floor museum. Price $32.00 per person.

Fort Worth Stockyards and Shopping Tour: 2:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Tour members will leave for Fort Worth, affectionately known as “Cowtown.” You will be wowed with Fort Worth’s lively cowboy and cowgirl heritage and culture on a guided city tour featuring sights such as the Water Gardens, Sundance Square, the commanding angels gracing the grand new multimillion dollar Bass Performance Hall, the cultural district, and a tour through Billy Bob’s of Texas (the world’s largest honky tonk).

The group will experience a cattle drive of longhorns that parade right down Exchange Boulevard. The tour will conclude in the historic Stockyards, where you will have time to browse the western shops or belly up to the bar on saddle bar stools and dine on your own. All participants will receive a souvenir Fort Worth bandana.

Price $35.00 per person.

Wine Tasting Tour of Grapevine Old Main Street: 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

People on this tour will enjoy tasting the wines of Texas at two of Grapevine’s finest wineries. Afterwards tour members will discover the delights of distinctive shops offering antiques and collectibles in Old Town Grapevine on a guided tour.

Price $48.00 per person.

Shop Till Ya Drop Tour: 2:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Were you born to shop? With more shopping centers per capita than any other major city nationwide, Dallas is a shopper’s paradise. However, two shopping malls offer a marvelous taste of what shopping is all about in Dallas.

No shopping tour would be complete without a drive by and salute to the flagship store of Neiman Marcus, which opened in 1914 and covers an entire city block. Then we will head north to either Galleria Mall or Northpark Center.

Price $26.00 per person.

Walk among the Fair Park Murals and Women’s Museum Tour: 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

From its beginnings in 1886 to its transformation in 1936 for the Texas Centennial Exposition, Fair Park has undergone some dramatic changes in its architecture and seen its share of illustrious visitors, including Woodrow Wilson, Booker T. Washington, Quanah Parker, Carrie Nation, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Queen of England, and many others. Come travel back in time on a walking tour of the historic heart of the park, where much of Fair Park’s colorful history has been concentrated.

Next, located in Fair Park is one of the Southwest’s best museums, the Women’s Museum, which focuses on the accomplishments of women in history. Guests will enjoy several interactive exhibits.

Price: $35.00 per person.

Six Flags Over Texas Amusement Park: 1:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Six Flags Over Texas—it’s playtime and the ultimate family or group experience. With over one hundred rides, shows, and adventures, the entertainment capital of Texas has something to appeal to everyone. Tour includes transportation and park admission.

Price $58.00 per person.

For those of you who just can’t get enough of Texas, we have one more chance to enjoy the taste and culture of the Lone Star State. On Friday evening, July 7, we invite you to join us for barbecue and a real rodeo.

Trail Dust Steakhouse and the Mesquite Championship Rodeo: 6:00 to 10:30 p.m.

This evening is a real treat with dinner at the Trail Dust Steakhouse, a place where ties are not allowed and the steaks are succulent. Afterwards the group will enjoy the excitement of some of the best rodeo action in the Southwest. Cowboys will take a tumble from bullriding, other rodeo participants will try calf roping, and the women will barrel race. It’s nonstop action at this Championship Rodeo, where the cowboys are competing.

Tour includes transportation, dinner, and rodeo admission. Price $63.00 per person.

As you can see, there’s a lot to do in Dallas. So make your plans now to join us for the best convention ever.


TOUR REGISTRATION FORM

Name: __________________________________________________________
Address: __________________________________________________________
City, State, Zip: __________________________________________________________
Cell: ______________________ Home: ________________________ Fax: ________________________

Tour 1: Dallas Highlights and JFK Museum
Number of tickets: ______ @ $32.00 each, subtotal: __________

Tour 2: Fort Worth Stockyards and Shopping
Number of tickets: ______ @ $35.00 each, subtotal: ___________

Tour 3: Wine Tasting Tour of Grapevine Old Main Street
Number of tickets: ______ @ $48.00 each, subtotal: ___________

Tour 4: Shop Till Ya Drop Tour
Number of tickets: ______ @ $26.00 each, subtotal:

Tour 5: Walk among the Fair Park Murals and Women’s Museum
Number of tickets: ______ @ $35.00 each, subtotal: ___________

Tour 6: Six Flags Over Texas Amusement Park
Number of tickets: ______ @ $58.00 each, subtotal: ___________

Tour 7: Texas Rangers and Blue Jays
Number of tickets: ______ @ $44.00 each, subtotal: ___________

Tour 8: Trail Dust Steakhouse and the Mesquite Championship Rodeo
Number of tickets: ______@ $63.00 each, subtotal: ___________

Prices include all taxes and gratuities when meals are included.

Total for tours: $ __________

Make checks payable and remit payment to:

All In One Tour Services
145 World Trade Center
P. O. Box 421461
Dallas, Texas 75342
Attention: Alice Riggins

Questions or to register by phone:

(800) 756-1233 toll-free USA
(214) 698-0332 phone
(214) 698-0302 fax
Email <alltours@swbell.net>
Web site: <www.allinonetourservices.com>

Final payment must be received by June 12, 2006.

 

The 2006 Washington Seminar

by Barbara Pierce

Each winter, when the national convention seems very far away, comes the Washington Seminar. Though it is shorter than a convention and fewer people attend, these several days in our nation’s capital are every bit as busy as a convention. This year we were still trying to adjust to the new schedule, which certainly results in more meetings with actual members of Congress.

A few Federationists arrived on Friday, January 27. These included Diane McGeorge, who for twenty-three years now has had primary responsibility for dealing with the hotel and scheduling NFB activities during the seminar. This year her chief battle was with the telephone company. Though promising every day to have the phones functional “by the end of the day,” they were not in fact operable until Wednesday. Since we didn’t actually need them until Tuesday, Diane did not tear out more than half her hair in the process of resolving the problem.

Students began arriving Saturday for the daylong midwinter conference of the National Association of Blind Students Sunday.

Meanwhile, the midwinter O and M/rehabilitation conference Sunday afternoon gave those working in the field or interested in doing so a chance to discuss important issues. As always the students were energetic and spent the day honing their skills and networking.
Monday could hardly have been more filled with activities. About seventy-five people boarded buses early in the morning for tours of the National Center and the Jernigan Institute. They returned in plenty of time for the great gathering-in meeting at five.

The National Organization of the Senior Blind sponsored a morning workshop on Medicare Part D coverage. Attendees learned a good deal and took home lots of information on cassette and in Braille.

The National Association of Blind Lawyers conducted a luncheon meeting for which attorneys could receive continuing legal education credits. The speaker was Cari Dominguez, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who spoke about blindness issues and EEOC cases of interest to the blind.

The National Association of Blind Merchants also conducted a workshop on Monday afternoon, and those attending their first Washington Seminar were encouraged to spend the afternoon learning about the issues for this year and polishing their presentation techniques in a special seminar. But all meetings drew to a close in plenty of time for everyone to get to the Columbia Room for the five o’clock briefing.

President Maurer announced that thirty-five state presidents were present, as were representatives from forty-seven affiliates. More than five hundred people crowded into the Columbia Room for the meeting. He made several announcements, including issuing an invitation for people to try out a mobility device built into the handle of the long cane and warns of overhanging obstacles. It can also be used to indicate when to move forward in a line.

Betsy Zaborowski spoke briefly about new programs at the NFB Jernigan Institute. She announced that everyone is invited to the April 7 celebration at the National Center. Joanne Wilson talked about plans and programming in her area of responsibility, affiliate action. Kevan Worley briefly discussed the Imagination Fund and urged everyone to become an Imaginator.

Jim Gashel, Jim McCarthy, and Jesse Hartle divided the job of presenting the three issues that members would be talking about on the Hill for the next three days. The full texts of the legislative memorandum and the three fact sheets follow this article. Briefly the topics were legislation to enable postsecondary students to receive useable electronic copies of textbooks on time, expansion of business opportunities for blind entrepreneurs, and creation of a commemorative coin in 2009 to celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille.

Just as 7:00 was approaching, President Maurer announced that like leaders of Congress when a deadline is looming, he was going to stop the clock for a very special agenda item. Jim Gashel then introduced Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut. He has been a very good friend to blind people. He explained that he cares about the work of the National Federation of the Blind because of his sister Caroline, who is president of the Hartford Chapter of the NFB of Connecticut. We had already been told that Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania was prepared to introduce our Braille coin bill in the Senate. Now Chris Dodd told the crowd that he was happy to be the lead Democratic sponsor of the bill.

When the clock started again just before the seven p.m. adjournment, the crowd dispersed in high good humor and with great enthusiasm for the coming work. By the time we left Washington three days later, 283 members of the House of Representatives were cosponsors of H.R. 2872, the Braille coin bill. We had discussed the other two issues in virtually every office in Congress, and our ideas and concerns were positively received. Before this issue went to press, 303 House members, more than the necessary 290, had agreed to cosponsor our bill, and S. 2321 had been introduced in the Senate with 22 original cosponsors.

For more than thirty years Federationists have been traveling to Capitol Hill to talk about both the abilities and problems of blind people. We have gradually refined our methods and our presentation. We now provide the Senate and House offices with impressive folders of material, often personalized with additional affiliate information. This year we wore large buttons with Whozit conspicuously in the center. This made us all readily identifiable as members of the same organization. Even the Capitol Police remember us now from previous years. When we step into a building, someone calmly says to us, “The belt is over here.” We pass through the security point and go about our business. On the Hill we are just another example of democracy at work. We are welcomed in the offices and listened to with respect. Demonstrating this point is the fact that Senator Barack Obama of Illinois sent Federationist Brian Johnson tickets to the State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening. In short, we are recognized and respected in the halls of Congress.

By now we have long since made our meeting reports, and they have been duly entered in the computer. The long, painstaking job of follow-up has begun. Jim McCarthy and his staff do the work of cultivating supporters day in and day out, and they will keep us informed as matters unfold. When they do so we must be conscientious about notifying our contacts in the various offices. The legislative work of 2006 is well begun, but it has just begun. Here are the legislative memorandum and fact sheets laying out this year’s issues.

 

2006 Washington Seminar Fact Sheets

Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans:
Priorities for the 109th Congress Second Session

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) was formed as the voice of the nation's blind to present the collective views of blind people in all aspects of society. All of our leaders and the vast majority of our members are blind, but anyone is welcome to participate in our movement. Every year 75,000 people will become blind, and there are an estimated 1.1 million blind Americans. The social and economic consequences of blindness affect not only the blind but also our families, friends, and coworkers.

Our priorities for the second session of the 109th Congress reflect an urgent need for action in three areas of vital importance to blind Americans. (For an explanation of these issues please see the attached fact sheets.)

1. Congress should require publishers of textbooks used in higher education to produce electronic editions for blind students in a standard, nonvisual format, by supporting the Higher Education Textbook Access Act. This proposal would:

2. Congress should expand targeted business and employment opportunities for the blind by enacting the Blind Individuals' Business Development and Employment Opportunities Act. This proposal would:

3. Congress should enact H.R. 2872, the Louis Braille Commemorative Coin Act, and companion legislation in the Senate. This proposal would provide funding for a national campaign to increase literacy among blind youth by teaching them to read and write Braille.

Blind Americans seek your support to address these priorities during the second session of the 109th Congress. If needed legislation is adopted, the continued integration of the blind into society will be advanced. We urge every member of Congress to help us achieve our objectives during this session of Congress. Our success benefits, not only the blind, but all of America as well.


Toward Equal Opportunity:
Providing Blind Students with Accessible
Textbooks in Higher Education

Purpose: To require publishers of textbooks used in higher education to produce electronic editions for blind students in an accessible, nonvisual standard format.

Background: Regardless of modern advancements in publishing technology, access to textbooks used in college courses remains a serious and unsolved problem for the blind. Help to meet the need for accessible texts is provided by on-campus disabled student service (DSS) offices, by libraries for the blind in some states, and by service organizations such as RFB&D (formerly Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic) and Bookshare.org. These organizations work hard to create audio and electronic editions of many textbooks in current use, but publishers could do far more than they currently do to support these efforts. Failure to provide equal access is a denial of equal opportunity.

Existing Law: The Americans with Disabilities Act; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act clearly establish the policy that individuals with disabilities are entitled to equal access to education. Successful implementation of this policy cannot occur without clear, specific, and practical standards and procedures designed to address accessibility needs. At present no specific law to support ready access to higher education textbooks for blind students is in place.

By contrast, publishers of elementary and secondary school textbooks are required by law to produce electronic editions which must be prepared in an accessible, nonvisual format, meeting a federally prescribed national standard. This required procedure was enacted as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, Public Law 108-446, signed by President Bush in December 2004. Under this new law the U.S. Department of Education must issue a National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. Publishers are required to prepare electronic editions of textbooks sold to elementary and secondary schools in accordance with the national standard. The publisher's responsibility is met by placing a single electronic copy of each edition of a textbook in a national access center designated by law as the American Printing House for the Blind. This approach provides a model for similar procedures to be applied in higher education as well.

Need for Legislation: Preparation of textbooks in an accessible, nonvisual format has become an achievable and reasonable expectation due to evolving methods in textbook publishing. In fact, although printed editions are still essentially the norm, electronic editions are becoming far more common. This trend toward using computers to access books will continue and expand in the decades ahead. However, standards do not exist for books prepared in print or electronic formats to be published for nonvisual use. Therefore higher education institutions and taxpayer-funded programs have assumed the burden of providing blind students with assistance and support to achieve access.

With the appropriate technology now available, publishers can produce textbooks in accordance with a national access standard but have no incentive to do so. Recognizing this, eight states--Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, and Washington State--have passed laws requiring nonvisual access to college texts. These state laws are an important first step, but, by imposing an array of conflicting and inconsistent obligations on publishers, they emphasize the need for a uniform national standard.

Proposed Legislation: Congress should enact the Higher Education Textbook Access Act. This will assure that blind college students have access to instructional texts like that available to blind elementary and secondary school students. This legislation would:

Action Requested:


Assuring Opportunities:
A 21st Century Strategy to Increase Employment
of Blind Americans

Purpose: To provide expanded opportunities for the blind in business and employment.

Background: Regardless of statements to the contrary, strategies to address the acknowledged nationwide condition of unemployment among the blind have never been a priority for the federal government. Labor market statistics are not gathered to document the extent of the problem. However, knowledgeable experts agree that the rate is between 70 and 75 percent unemployment or underemployment for working-age blind people. Three of every four blind adults are unemployed although most want to work. This pernicious unemployment rate remains despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, including blindness. Without a commitment from the government to address the issues responsible for unemployment of the blind and with programs ill equipped to offer sufficient jobs, the promise of the ADA will remain unfulfilled for many blind Americans.
Enacted in 1936, the Randolph-Sheppard Act has a targeted mission to provide employment in small business management and operation for blind people. This law provides a priority for the operation of vending facilities by blind persons on federal property.

These businesses range in size and complexity from small newsstands to large cafeterias and dining halls. Average earnings for blind vendors under the Randolph-Sheppard Act are approximately $40,000 annually. However, several factors, including lack of federal leadership and failure by some agencies to cooperate, have caused this program to decline to fewer than 3,000 blind vendors during fiscal year 2004.

The Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (originally enacted in 1938 as the Wagner-O'Day Act) also provides blind and "severely disabled" persons with opportunities to work, but all of the positions must be classified as "direct labor," not management or supervision. These jobs result from government procurement contracts awarded to nonprofit organizations that have light manufacturing or service units sometimes known as "sheltered workshops" or "industries divisions." The contracts for over 11,600 products and services are awarded under mandatory source procedures specified in the law.

Program Deficiencies: Although opportunities under the Randolph-Sheppard Act are valuable, factors both inside and outside the program continue to limit the number of businesses available for blind vendors and place obstacles in the path of future growth. The state agencies, which license and support the vendors with training, technical assistance, supplies, and equipment, often see themselves as stewards of sparse resources and bypass opportunities for program expansion. Federal agencies required by law to cooperate by providing sites for vending facilities regularly place roadblocks in the path of the blind and the state agencies. Although the U.S. Department of Education has federal administrative responsibility for government-wide leadership to implement the Randolph-Sheppard Act, it now shows little interest in this program and recently declined to appear at a U.S. Senate oversight hearing called to examine implementation of the law. Also the Randolph-Sheppard Act as written and administered discourages blind vendors from breaking free from the subsidies provided, offering few advantages and many risks to those who want to do so.

Over thirty years ago Congress expanded the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act beyond employment of the blind to cover organizations that employ people with "severe disabilities," but failed to address systemic shortcomings in the law. Through its statutory 75 percent direct-labor requirement, this 1930's-era law discourages promotion of disabled employees into positions of management, not to mention mid-level supervision. Discriminatory segregation of disabled employees from those without disabilities (including providing disabled-only bathrooms and lunch tables) continues to occur. Recent investigations have revealed several instances in which nondisabled managers receive shockingly extravagant salaries, while the average wage for direct-labor workers is only about $8,000 annually.

The Need to Modernize: A generic "cross-disability" approach to address the seemingly intractable rate of unemployment of the blind promises continuation of the unacceptable status quo. Surrounded by fear and cloaked in misconceptions, the limitations resulting from blindness are viewed as overpowering and all-pervasive. The all too common misconception that the blind are largely unable to be productive is widely accepted in society. This is as true among those who work in generic, cross-disability programs as it is among members of the general public. More than the loss of eyesight, this common misconception contributes to the dismally high rate of unemployment of the blind.

The time has come for a more enlightened and rational approach. Rather than simply combining programs using a cross-disability model, the real needs of individuals with unique disabilities should be met with common-sense solutions. For the blind this means that federal administration of the Randolph-Sheppard Act should be combined with an expanded capacity to promote business and employment opportunities outside of the more conventional vending facilities program.

Proposed legislation: Congress should enact the Blind Individuals' Business Development and Employment Opportunities Act to significantly expand the number and variety of high-quality jobs available to blind people. This legislation would:

Action Requested:

 

Promoting Braille:
A Campaign To Increase Literacy for Blind Youth

Purpose: To promote Braille literacy for blind youth by enacting the Louis Braille Commemorative Coin Act.

Background: Louis Braille, born in Coupvray, France, in 1809, is recognized worldwide for creating the system of raised dots--Braille--used by the blind to read and write. Braille brings literacy, independence, and productivity to blind people. By believing in the capacity of the blind to learn, Louis Braille demonstrated an understanding of blindness that was extraordinarily enlightened and positive for the times in which he lived.

Blind people today would be far less likely to achieve goals of independence and productive living without the positive contributions Louis Braille made throughout his life. His intelligence and recognition of the need of blind people for a means of literacy continue to inspire us all as we approach the two hundredth anniversary of his birth. Today blind people are teachers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, mathematicians, and much, much more because of Braille. Blind people working in these professions are living proof that literacy is a pathway to success.

Effective use of Braille is one of the essential skills needed by the blind to achieve success. It ranks with independent mobility; knowledge and use of adaptive technology; and a core belief that equality, opportunity, and security are truly possible for all blind people. This philosophy has steadily evolved during more than six decades of work by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).
Today blind people strive to live productive lives as first-class citizens. To do this, we are making a sustained effort to improve public understanding of blindness. However, lack of a solid commitment to teach Braille to blind students is a serious problem in the education of the blind in our nation's schools. This leads to the shocking and tragic fact that only about 10 percent of blind children are being taught to read and write Braille. By contrast, research demonstrates that more than 90 percent of employed blind people use Braille. Therefore increasing the Braille literacy rate is a key factor in helping the blind to become employed and productive. Issuance of a commemorative coin to recognize Louis Braille will support a nationwide campaign to promote Braille literacy.

Current Status: During the first session of the 109th Congress, Representatives Bob Ney and Ben Cardin introduced the Louis Braille Commemorative Coin Act as H.R. 2872. Approximately 250 House members (including Representatives Blunt and Pelosi) have joined as cosponsors as of January 15, 2006. A similar effort will be launched in the Senate during the second session of the 109th Congress.

Action Requested: Please support Braille literacy for blind youth by cosponsoring H.R. 2872 in the House of Representatives or by introducing/cosponsoring a companion bill in the Senate.

To cosponsor H.R. 2872, please contact:

 

Jason's Climb

by Daniel B. Frye

From the Editor: We can all look back at experiences in our past that we recognize in hindsight to have been of greater significance than we knew at the time, perhaps even turning points in our development. In the following story Dan Frye tells of such an event and of the young man whose determination and courage in the face of terrible odds taught Dan the importance of patience and the power of the Federation’s dedication to high expectations.

Dan Frye is a frequent contributor to these pages. He and his wife recently returned to the United States after several years in New Zealand. He is now working at the National Center for the Blind as manager of affiliate advocacy and training. But in this story he recalls a summer when he was a college student working with youngsters at the Colorado Center for the Blind, one of our adult training centers. This is what he says:

Jason was a student in the summer program for junior-high-aged students at the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB), and I was his counselor. In addition to his blindness, Jason was challenged by multiple disabilities, the most serious of which were cognitive, motor, and memory problems stemming from recently removed brain tumors.

Despite his several disabilities Jason tried his best to participate in all the summer program activities. He traveled by city bus between the training center and the apartments where students and counselors lived together. He participated in Braille, travel, computer, and independent living classes to the best of his ability. Jason cheerfully joined his fellow students on the camping trip organized and planned by students and counselors. In short, Jason gave his all in the CCB Summer Program of 1992.

Even though Jason was committed to doing his best, the truth was that he had trouble doing the simplest tasks. He was unable, for example, to do his laundry independently. Memorizing travel routes, not to mention mastering advanced concepts like cardinal directions and bus travel, proved hard for Jason. In light of Jason’s limited skills, it quickly became clear that summer counselors (usually me) needed to supervise him closely.

Working one-on-one with Jason gave me plenty of opportunity for honest self-evaluation. I struggled mightily against my weaknesses that summer. It was first necessary to acknowledge and combat my lack of patience with people who could not grasp and master new skills quickly. Sadly for Jason and me, my confidence in Jason and my expectations of his capacity gradually diminished as the summer progressed.

Hindered by my prejudices, Jason and I headed out one crisp, clear summer morning to take part with the other students and staff in rock climbing, a challenge recreational activity that has become a traditional rite of passage for students attending the CCB. Jason and I brought up the rear of our enthusiastic group, many of whom were walking well ahead of us, eager to test their athletic prowess and overcome their anxieties about safely and successfully scaling the legendary rocks of Boulder Canyon. Enjoying the relative cool and quiet of an early summer morning while trudging up a dirt trail nestled between towering rocks that gave definition to the route leading to the climbing site, I wondered how Jason would fare in this physically demanding exercise. As a counselor charged with demonstrating confidence in our students, I also wondered how I would do, for this was also my first rock-climbing experience.
We reached the climb site, dropped our backpacks of provisions, and joined the assembly sitting on scattered rocks just in front of the rock wall. We were lectured by the rock-climbing instructors about safety and taught how to tie secure knots in our ropes. We learned about belaying and the importance of trusting our partners. After thirty minutes or so we were declared ready to climb. I can’t remember if Jason fully grasped the technicalities of belaying and knot tying. Since trained experts were present to coach us, though, this detail did not matter much.

I vividly remember, however, the details of his climb itself. I was Jason’s belaying partner, the person responsible for holding and pulling the rope to which Jason was securely fastened, and Diane McGeorge, then director of the CCB, was standing behind me to offer extra support. Jason’s climb began badly. He struggled to cling to the rock and started to cry and later to scream. His fear escalated, and he pleaded with me to let him down. I tried to encourage him by offering soothing assurances that he would be all right and that he should not give up without a little more effort, but Jason’s protests and alarm did not subside. Alison, one of the rock-climbing instructors, quickly traversed the short distance up the rock free-form (without a rope) and tried to offer him support and encouragement. But Jason was not willing to be calmed.

I consulted with Diane, proposing to bring Jason down. Gently but firmly she told me not to give up on Jason just yet, and she assured me that he was in no danger. Dramatic displays usually seem to last longer than they actually do, and this was no exception. Sensing my unease, Diane assured me that we were not hurting Jason. I nervously waited while Alison gently talked to and worked with him.
Ultimately Alison calmed Jason enough so that with her support he successfully ascended the rock, reaching the top some forty feet above the ground. Many waiting members of our group erupted in spontaneous and unrestrained cheering, while I silently wept tears of joy and pride in response to Jason’s hoots of jubilant laughter and glee at having met his goal. Jason savored his moment of success for several incredibly happy minutes, reveling in his achievement and delaying his descent.

While I held Jason’s rope as he celebrated his success, Diane softly talked to me about the benefits that would accrue to him as a result of the firmness of her resolve. She counseled me to believe past reasonable belief in the potential of people. We agreed that his small victory then would have big consequences for him in years to come. I privately reflected on the virtues of patience, and I resolved to redouble my efforts with Jason for the rest of the summer.

During the hot walk back to the van and for several more hours into the afternoon, Jason’s pride in his accomplishment was contagious. He was uncharacteristically confident, animated, and talkative. It was evident that the underlying purposes of the rock-climbing adventure (the development of self-confidence and self-esteem among the CCB students) had been fulfilled for Jason. For the duration of the Summer Program Jason was an eager and active participant in the weekly rock-climbing trips.

While writing this account, I learned that, tragically, Jason has since died from a recurrence of his brain tumors. I am certain, though, that Jason left the CCB Summer Program with more self-confidence than he had before he came. I cannot think of a better gift to have given Jason, a gift made possible through the empowering organizational philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind.

Jason was my student, but in many ways he was also my teacher. I will always be grateful to him for the unconscious role he played in expanding my belief in blind people. I witnessed first-hand the tangible personal benefits that result from helping others realize their potential. Seeing these advantages and having had my capacity to believe beyond belief expanded, I am better equipped to share the promise of the NFB with others. I also learned again the value of humility and patience from Jason--traits that make me an overall better human being, not just working in the blindness community, but generally. Thank you, Jason. Rest in peace.

________________

Plan the Timing of Your Gift

Making a charitable gift can be one of the most enjoyable experiences in life. Here are some points to consider before you make your gift to the National Federation of the Blind.

Donors can expect some or all of the following benefits by making a gift to the NFB:

Your Gift Will Help Us

Making a charitable contribution is an art, Like any form of art, the creative process needs to adapt to the needs and wishes of the donor. Each year millions of Americans contribute their time, talent, and treasure to charitable organizations. Because of this, the nation's tax laws recognize the role of charitable organizations in meeting public needs, and as a result incentives are provided to encourage charitable gifts.

Types of Charitable Gifts

Planned Giving through Income-Generating Gifts

Planned Giving through Wills

 

 

News from the Cruise

by Barbara Pierce

Last summer the Colorado affiliate placed a notice in the Monitor Miniatures column notifying members that the NFB of Colorado was organizing a one-week cruise of the western Caribbean the second week of January. Ninety Monitor readers, mostly residents of cities in which January is a delightful month to miss, signed up for this week of fun in the sun. The morning we left I waded through snow to empty the garbage, wearing sandals for the flight that would carry my husband and me to board the ship in Ft. Lauderdale. The experience convinced me that warm weather and soft breezes were exactly what the doctor had ordered.

We found Florida experiencing the coldest weekend of the winter, but even at that the sun was shining and parakeets were noisy in the trees. As we would notice throughout the trip, hurricane Wilma’s passage was painfully obvious in the greater Ft. Lauderdale area.
By early Sunday afternoon, January 8, the Federation group and about 2,500 others had converged on pier nineteen for embarkation on the Costa Mediterranea. Too many blind people had come onboard for the crew to smother us with unwanted attention, which was a relief. But my observation was that those who wanted information or directions could get them with relative ease. It would have been helpful to have some of the flood of printed information handed to us every evening available in Braille, but our travel agent, the Cruise Shop of Boulder, Colorado, had prepared Braille invitations to a cocktail party for us on Thursday, and Braille lists of those in our group were available from Diane McGeorge and Julie Deden.

I suspected a possible cloud in our blue sky at dinner the first evening, however. Julie Deden, who is the director of the Colorado Center for the Blind, was seated at my dinner table. She commented that the ship’s cruise director had called her cabin to enquire if she was the leader of our group. Julie assured him that she was not, that we had no leader, but she asked anyway if he had a problem. He explained that some of our group had signed up for tours that were dangerous, and he wanted someone to persuade them to change their plans. Julie asked if he had discussed the matter with the people who had made the choices he did not approve of, and he admitted that he had not. She explained that all the blind people in our group were responsible adults and knew perfectly well what they could and could not do. She assured him that he should deal with these folks individually and let them make up their own minds, just as he did with all other passengers. The call ended on that note, but I remember thinking that we had probably not heard the end of the matter.

Our first port of call was Key West, which apparently contained no dangerous tour destinations. At least I heard of no problems on Monday, but Tuesday was a different matter. Wilma had destroyed the piers that the cruise ships have always used in Cozumel, Mexico, so those going ashore Tuesday morning had to board tenders to be ferried to the island. Bob and I were already seated in the tender when a group of eight Federationists filed past us with the cheerful announcement that they were going snorkeling despite the warnings of the cruise director. As it turned out, that is exactly what they did, though for a while the outcome was in doubt.

Cruise lines contract with tour operators in the various ports to provide optional activities on land. When the eight Federationists reached the dock where the boat carrying the would-be snorkelers to a nearby reef was tied up, they were told by a representative of the tour operator that they could not board. Then the discussion began. The eight Federationists were Jim Gashel and Betsy Zaborowski, John and Cindy Paré, Kevan and Bridget Worley, and Kim and Rick Williams—not a group to take such an announcement lying down. The tour representative told them that it was the tour company’s responsibility to be sure that everyone going snorkeling was fit and able to do what would be required. The Federationists asked if they had closely questioned all the other tour participants. The answer was yes. Then Betsy Zaborowski turned to an obviously sympathetic bystander and asked if she had been cleared as fit and able. She promptly said that she was diabetic and could not swim but that no one had questioned her.

Despite pointing out that Jim Gashel had brought his own snorkeling gear and was obviously an experienced snorkeler, and regardless of their logical arguments, it looked as if the dockside staff were going to refuse to let the blind members of the tour and their spouses board the boat. Then the group thought to mention that the National Federation of the Blind had already sued Carnival Cruise Lines for discrimination and won. (Carnival owns Costa.) They said that we would not hesitate to sue again if necessary, and they pointed out that the cruise line would not appreciate the tour vendor that caused the repetition of such a headache.

The tour company representatives had refused until then to summon the general manager, but at the mention of a lawsuit they could suddenly not wait for him to arrive and take over. As soon as he understood the problem, he ruled that the Federation Eight would have to sign waivers before boarding as protection for the tour company. Since every other tour participant had already signed the waiver, the group agreed immediately to do the same. And that was the end of the trouble.

The Mexican personnel on the boat had never had a problem with the idea of having blind snorkelers aboard. Those passengers who had been annoyed at the delay made it clear that they were angry with the company, not eight people who had paid to snorkel and were being prevented from joining the group. Once they got into the water, everyone had fun, though the experienced snorkelers reported that the tour was pretty tame. Needless to say, the blind people had no problems and were delighted and relieved to have resolved the matter successfully.

Thursday the ship docked in Jamaica, and passengers streamed eagerly ashore to climb Dunns Falls and meet the dolphins. The falls seem to be a creation of Mother Nature enhanced by human effort. Water fell several hundred feet over boulders down to sea level. As hundreds of tourists prove every day, it is possible to climb up the boulders from the beach to the top. A number of Federationists took the opportunity to make the climb. They used their canes and were assisted by excellent guides, who seemed completely calm at the prospect of guiding blind tourists up the falls. Others of us took the coward’s way out by climbing the steps beside the falls.

Many of us also seized the opportunity to meet a dolphin. To do so, we stood in knee-deep sea water in a small pool. Calypso was on duty to meet tourists the day we were there. She is six years old and about five feet long. To please her handler, she demonstrated the sound she makes when using her sonar, and she also demonstrated several of the 3,000 sounds she can produce through her blowhole. Earlier that morning she had jumped twelve feet out of the water. A dolphin’s hide is incredibly sleek and soft. In order to ensure that no one would inadvertently damage Calypso’s skin, the staff insisted on taping all rings. Then she swam past us so that we could reach out to touch her. Finally she swam up to pose with each of us as our pictures were taken. The entire encounter was a remarkable experience.

We spent most of Friday on Grand Cayman, where inshore the waters were shallow and filled with coral reefs, wrecks of old ships, and fantastic sea life. Where the cruise ships anchored, their prows were in fifty-five feet of water, but the bottom under their sterns was six thousand feet below. Many of our group visited and fed members of the sting ray population that lived on nearby sandbars.

When we raised anchor Friday evening, we turned for home, a route that took us out into the Atlantic and moderate Atlantic swells. The result was that all day Saturday we would all have been hard put to walk a straight line, and many resorted to motion sickness pills and patches and those remarkable bracelets that seem to keep the nausea at bay.

Saturday at sea was a difficult day for the NFB group. Not only was the air cool and often filled with drizzle, but early that evening Kathy Sebranek, a longtime member of the Wisconsin affiliate, died. She and her husband Larry had had a difficult week. Kathy had not been well, but her doctor gave permission for her to travel and, they all hoped, enjoy the warmth of Caribbean weather and Federation friends. But during the week she was not able to leave her cabin much, and by Friday she was in the ship’s infirmary. The doctor made arrangements for her to go directly to a Ft. Lauderdale hospital for tests as soon as we docked, but sadly she did not make it back to port. Larry was surrounded by loving friends, and we all ached for his loss.

The Mediterranea was a fine ship for a Caribbean cruise. It had all the amenities of today’s finest floating hotels. The staff were courteous and helpful, but not oppressively so. Who knows whether or not they learned much about the competence of blind people from our presence, but at least they did not manage to stand in our way of having a good time and enjoying our time together. A week away from the telephone and email spent in Caribbean sunshine among Federation friends is a recipe to cheer and shorten any North American winter.

 

"Why Do You Wear Those Shades?"
Communicating Competence in the Classroom

by J. Webster Smith

From the Editor: J.W. Smith is first vice president of the NFB of Ohio and professor of communications studies at Ohio University. In November 2004 he delivered a version of the following article as a paper at the National Communication Association Conference. He has stripped out the academic analysis and left in the thoughtful reflections on his career in the university classroom. This is what he says:

It was the third year of my teaching career, and I had agreed to substitute teach for one of my colleagues at Wayne State University. It was a basic speech communication course, and I was actually gratified that my colleague had trusted me enough to sub for him. Upon entering the class, as is always the case when a sub walks in, I could sense the nervousness of some of the students, but I proceeded to the front of the room, sat on the desk, and began the session. This was 1986, and at that time I wore dark shades, not only because I thought I was cool, but because for some blind people it was a commonly accepted behavior. About a third of the way into my lecture in discussion with the class that day--I forget the topic--a young lady said to me quite innocently, “Why do you wear those shades?” Taken aback by the question, I muttered a response and then learned while discussing the issue that, because the shades were mirrored, the sun streaming in the window was reflecting off the shades and as she said, “They’re blinding me. Could you take them off?” As you might expect, for me as a blind professor it was an ambivalent moment. On one hand it allowed us to talk about my disability, which I had forgotten to mention at the beginning of the class. On the other hand, because the student hadn’t realized that I was blind, she felt uncomfortable and guilty and regretted bringing the matter up. I have never forgotten that experience. It is the one and only time I can remember forgetting to seize the opportunity to communicate about my blindness in the classroom.

When I walked into my first communication class at Purdue in 1983, I decided that I would never begin a class without discussing my blindness candidly and openly and in a way that would give me control of the topic. It worked for me in that first class, and that course remains a pleasant memory. In fact I am still friends with some of those students today after more than twenty years. The issue of blindness is a central part of who I am and the kind of communication instructor I try to be.

When one travels, one is often asked the question, “What do you do?” I get that question frequently, but it’s often followed, eventually if not immediately, by “How do you do it?” The purpose of this short paper is to discuss some of the pedagogical concerns about dealing with my blindness in the classroom and what has worked and why.

Empathy and Disclosure

I have found that empathy and proceeding from a theory of self-disclosure have been effective techniques for me. Beginning the first time I walk into the classroom, I talk about my blindness, and in fact my opening quote is usually, “I am blind or visually impaired. I don’t care what term you use, but as far as I’m concerned, all it means for this class is that you will have to find a way to get my attention other than raising your hand.” This is often met with somewhat nervous laughter, but I think the point is made. I usually hasten to add, “Now I know you will forget sometimes, and you’ll be embarrassed and your friends will laugh at you and you will laugh at yourself, but it’s okay. I’m okay with being blind, and you should be as well.” I’m fortunate to be able to teach a class on communicating with people with disabilities in which my blindness is for the most part a plus. However, even in my other classes I try to make my blindness a positive part of the class. I don’t talk about it all the time, nor do I want it to be front and center in the students’ minds, but when appropriate, I want to be able to talk about it on my own terms.

Self-disclosure is crucial in leading my class. I am selective about what I disclose, but I seize every opportunity to talk about the way blindness affects my life in general and the ways it can teach a valuable lesson to temporarily able-bodied individuals. My purpose for self-disclosure is not to engender sympathy, but empathy, i.e., an understanding, even an appreciation of the challenges I continually face. As one might expect, people often want to know how my blindness occurred, how I do my job, and whether it is going to be a big issue in the course.

Communication, Competence, and Credibility

Most important, however, students want to know if I can do the job and how I do it. This is where it’s important that I convey to them that with a few exceptions this class will be no different from any other class, especially when it comes to assessment, grading, and evaluation. I casually tell them about the various methods I use in grading papers, i.e., email submissions, scanning papers, using readers, and sometimes incorporating oral evaluation in the course. What most concerns students is that as the leader of the class I am in control, that they need not worry about my hurting myself or providing an unfair method of assessment different from any other they have had. With this in mind, I familiarize myself with the classroom and the technology so that I can use the video, DVD player, computer, and all the other screens as effectively as possible. I move around the classroom, engaging in the normal, day-to-day teaching activities and conversational give-and-take that allow them to recognize my control and the normality of the class.

In over twenty years of teaching at the university level, I’ve had only one experience in which students tried to take advantage of my blindness. I started a video and stepped out for a few minutes. A few students left, probably thinking I didn’t know they had disappeared. Needless to say, after I dealt with that situation during the next class, it never happened again, and I think they learned a valuable lesson. Several years after that experience a few of those students stopped to thank me for confronting them and teaching them a lesson.

Credibility is also an issue when dealing with blindness. When you are different or viewed as different, issues of credibility are always just beneath the surface in the minds of most students and people in general. I remember just before I actually finished my dissertation and received my Ph.D., I was teaching a class at a university and presumptuously decided to use the honorific “doctor.” A student said in class one day, “I found out that you’re not a doctor yet.” That taught me a valuable lesson: not to pretend to be something I was not. I’m granted a certain amount of credibility when students look at my blindness--my so-called disability--and then look at my teaching career and see that I have earned a Ph.D. It’s often articulated as, “Gosh, if he can do it, what about me?” I think that kind of credibility is extended to me. And make no mistake; I use that credibility to my advantage, I hope, to ensure an effective classroom.

Conclusion

After more than twenty years of teaching at the university level, I have found that my blindness as I portray it and convey it in my classes is more of a plus than a minus. By effective and selective self-disclosure, I’m able to gain empathy from my students and create a climate that values diversity and allows for contributions from all perspectives. Students feel at ease as I lead them throughout the school term. Communication, competence, and credibility are crucial elements, I believe, for me as a blind instructor. Students don’t want to feel that they are babysitting, they don’t want to believe they’re not learning something, and they don’t want to feel as if they have to teach the class. As I write this paper, I am in communication with a blind instructor at a mid-western university who is having a difficult time, largely because she is young (this is her first teaching experience), but her problems also have a lot to do with competence and credibility. From what I’ve gathered, students have to help her with the little things in the classroom. Make no mistake about it; students don’t mind being helpful, but a clear line must exist between who is the instructor and who is the student. While the professor’s blindness may be an issue, it ought to be positive, not one that detracts from his or her ability to be an effective instructor.

It would be interesting to talk with other blind professors about the way they deal with issues in the classroom. As a member of the National Federation of the Blind and as the second vice president of the National Organization of Blind Educators, I have talked with instructors at the elementary and secondary levels as well as at the university level about how their blindness affects what they do. In short, it’s safe to say that, if a teacher is comfortable talking about his or her blindness and students believe that the teacher knows how to do the job, the classroom experience with a blind instructor is pretty similar to that with a sighted one.

 

Compassionate Companions
A Man and His Dog Reach Tough Teens

by Deborah Circelli

From the Editor: The following article appeared in the August 22, 2005, edition of the Daytona Beach News Journal. J.D. Townsend is vice president of the Greater Daytona Beach Chapter and a member of the board of directors of the NFB of Florida. Here is the article:

With ease, John "JD" Townsend maneuvers through the halls at Halifax Behavioral Services with a close friend by his side. The sometimes playful blond is not your typical friend. During Townsend's counseling sessions his companion garners occasional hugs from children. He's even been known to give them a kiss on the arm when he senses they are depressed or upset. Staff members on occasion also take advantage of some Pippen time to cheer them up.

He's not basketball player Scottie Pippen or one of the main characters in Lord of the Rings. Pippen is Townsend's six-year-old Seeing Eye Labrador retriever. "The kids generally like him more than they like me," Townsend, a licensed clinical social worker, says with a chuckle, reaching down to give him a pat. "But that's OK with me. Pippen is such a sweet boy it's hard not to love him."

Townsend, fifty-seven, has counseled children and adults for about twenty-five years, including the last four-and-a-half years at Halifax Behavioral, where he does individual and group sessions for teens and adults with mental-health and behavioral problems. Legally blind, Townsend was diagnosed as a teen with a genetic condition that ruins the retina. He uses the dog or a white cane to guide him. "Pippen is very compassionate," says Townsend. "Sometimes, if someone is upset, it wouldn't be quite right to be hugging on me, but it's fine if they want to give my dog a hug around the neck."

Generally, Pippen will fall asleep when Townsend starts talking, as the dog did one recent afternoon, lying on a large yellow-and-blue pillow next to his owner's desk. "Some people feel more comfortable and at home--and in less of a hospital setting--when there is a dog around," Townsend says. Townsend sometimes allows children to put on a blindfold and walk with his white cane to build their self-confidence. Being blind, he says, is not an issue--"It's just one part of me."

Kathy Wilkes, an outpatient therapist for Halifax Behavioral Services who hired Townsend, says she had her doubts about hiring a blind therapist to work with children with behavioral problems. She was concerned about his safety. But after meeting Townsend and learning he had a history of working with potentially dangerous patients in New York, she was sold. "He had such a way about him that made me feel like he could do anything," says Wilkes, who supervised him for three years. "He's witty, and he's dedicated to helping people."

Sean Richter, another therapist, says Townsend has been able to reach some of the hardest kids when others couldn't. The teens seem to open up to him, Richter says, "probably because they are not being judged by the way they look or handle themselves."

Townsend, who was born in New Jersey, moved to Volusia County with his wife eleven years ago. His blindness doesn't limit him in life, whether he's working on the roof of his Holly Hill home or running in five New York City marathons in the mid-eighties and early nineties. "I'm just living my life," Townsend says. "I don't feel any sense of tragedy." Accepting his blindness, though, was not easy. There was a period of denial. The only blind person he saw growing up was a man who sold pencils on a street corner. Townsend didn't want the same future.

He went on to become an actor and in his twenties owned a small theater company. But after falling off a stage, he realized he had to change careers because of his failing eyesight. Townsend, who now has a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees, turned to counseling. "Mental illness is perhaps the most painful of disabilities," Townsend says. "If I can find a way to help people deal with it better and relieve their pain, it gives me pleasure."

In addition he holds weekly support groups at the Orientation and Adjustment Center in Daytona Beach for people who have recently become blind. He also is vice president of the National Federation of the Blind Greater Daytona Beach Chapter and serves on the state board. Each October he participates in White Cane [Safety] Day, trying to educate drivers that they must stop when a blind person has his or her white cane extended.

"He doesn't relinquish how he thinks or feels just to be popular. He believes in standing up for his personal convictions," says Kathy Davis, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida and president of the Daytona Beach Chapter.

Townsend says more work needs to be done with more than 70 percent of working-age blind people nationally unemployed. But public perceptions are hard to change. He describes going to a restaurant recently and a waitress asking his wife what he wanted to eat instead of addressing him. Society still sees people who are blind, he says, as broken. He and his wife of twelve years, Carol Beall, also a licensed clinical social worker, spend their spare time riding a two-seater bike and a two-person pedal boat. They also sing and play instruments in a choir that performs for people with mental illnesses.

Back in his office, his clock sounds and his cell phone goes off. He jokes that he often talks to his electronics. His computer recites what he types and what he scans. He reads several papers a day on the telephone. "I have stereo hearing," he says, laughing.
And he has Pippen.

 

Ask Miss Whozit

From the Editor: In recent months Miss Whozit has answered reader questions about etiquette and good manners, particularly as they involve blindness. If you would like to pose a question to Miss Whozit, you can send it to the attention of Barbara Pierce, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, or email me at <bpierce@nfb.org>. I will pass the questions along. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. In recent weeks I have heard several comments suggesting that I have invented the questions submitted to Miss Whozit. This is most certainly not the case. If no one writes with questions for her, this column will not appear. Here are several of the most recent letters Miss Whozit has received:

Dear Miss Whozit,

I use a system that I am sure is not unlike those of thousands of other independent blind shoppers. I enter the store, go to the counter, and request that someone assist me in locating the items I want to purchase. I ask for prices and sizes of the brands available and sometimes request information from the labels. You get the picture. This arrangement generally works well.

Often when I go to the counter, a line of customers is in front of me, so I patiently wait for them to be taken care of. I am perfectly willing to wait my turn like anyone else. This is the way it should be.

However, lately I have become increasingly irritated when shopping at the drugstore close to my home. Generally at this store two cashiers are working up front, and when I request assistance, one of them closes her register to assist me, leaving one cashier available to handle checkout.

Often, while I am shopping with the help of the employee who has volunteered to assist me, she glances towards the front and says something like, "Oh, my goodness, she has a line almost out the door. Wait right here while I help her take care of some of these people. I'll be right back."

I repeat that I have absolutely no problem waiting in line for my turn to be helped. But it truly irritates me to have to wait while my assistant runs back to take care of those who have come to the checkout counter after me. Such treatment feels to me like a statement that the time of the sighted people who didn't need individual assistance is more valuable than mine and that it is more important to keep them happy, comfortable, and satisfied than it is to treat me respectfully.

I would be more understanding if there weren't another cashier up front to wait on the line of customers. Last week this happened when I went to the drugstore. I waited a couple of minutes, but then, rather than be marginalized, I decided that my purchases could wait, and I left.

Miss Whozit, am I wrong to feel imposed upon? How should I handle such inconsiderate behavior? I wish to behave with courtesy, but I dislike feeling like a doormat.

Tired of Waiting

Dear Tired,

I regret to be the one to break the news to you that retail store personnel and sales policies are often unfair. Have you ever stood at a department store counter having the clerk tally the cost of your purchases, only to have the phone at her elbow ring? Invariably she pauses in the completion of an actual sale to deal with an enquiry that may or may not ever result in a sale. The waiting customer has no choice but to stand patiently gazing into space, unless he or she is prepared to walk away from the goods already selected.

We have probably all had this experience because it seems to be retail policy to answer the phone no matter what activity doing so interrupts. Your frustration is akin to that just described, but Miss Whozit is quite sure that no policy directive is involved in your problem.

The cashier assisting you was hired as a cashier. She has been trained to recognize that her duty is to keep the lines at those stations as short as possible. When a customer enters the store with a request for assistance in selecting purchases, she is willing to help, but I suspect that she does not consciously identify doing so as part of her job description. When she glances up to see a long checkout line, her reflex response is to help resolve the bottleneck caused by her absence from her post.

This is merely the difficulty as the employee perceives it. Miss Whozit suspects that most times this does not reach the point of concluding that the blind customer is not as important as those who followed him or her to the counter for assistance.

So the social problem facing you in this situation is to find a tactful way of making employees seek a fairer solution to their problem. Miss Whozit has found that teaching civility takes time and care. She cannot think of a way short of rudeness to accomplish your goal in one visit. But when the cashier returns to you to help you complete your purchases, you might try saying sweetly, “If you can’t be spared at the front to serve customers who came in after me, is there a clerk or manager whom we could get the next time to assist me? I am in a hurry as well, and it seems a bit unfair for me to have to wait until that entire line of customers has been served when I asked for help before all of them.”

Of course, the better a customer you are, the more likely the staff is to recognize the validity of your position. Miss Whozit can’t guarantee that you will reform the employees’ behavior, but you will have done what you could to make them think about how to treat all their customers more fairly.


Dear Miss Whozit,

I am a sighted member of the NFB, and I have always wondered about the etiquette of mentioning quietly to a blind person that his or her clothing has a conspicuous spot or a tear. My common sense tells me that that is the only way the blind person is likely to know about it in order to take care of it, but I don’t want to embarrass the person, particularly if nothing can be done about the problem.
On a related matter, how does one tell a blind person that his or her child is lying? For example, I was once seated at a luncheon table where a blind mother said to her child, “Did you finish your lunch? You may not have dessert if you didn't.”

The child immediately said, “Yes,” when in fact the plate was obviously still filled with food. The child looked at me as if to say, “Are you going to rat on me?" I remained silent so as not to embarrass the parent, but I was left feeling that by doing so I had undermined her authority.

Miss Whozit, I don’t want to appear to be condescending, but in the same situation I would want to know the facts. What do you think?

Afraid to Speak Up

Dear Afraid,

You get high marks for wanting to do the right thing, but low marks for courage. Your two dilemmas are quite different. When it comes to stains, tears, or even unzipped zippers and unbuttoned buttons, your course of action depends on when you notice the problem and what can be done about it. If a blind speaker is about to step to the podium when you notice that the marinara sauce from the pasta is decorating his tie, kindness dictates that you keep the information to yourself because the knowledge could accomplish nothing but making the gentleman feel at a disadvantage. If, on the other hand, you are armed with one of those handy little towelettes soaked in stain remover and if the spot can be attacked discreetly or in private, courtesy and kindness dictate that you quietly mention the problem and offer to help.

Certainly, if the blind person is about to leave for home, mentioning the problem and even offering to mark it with a pin or piece of tape for later treatment would be both kind and tactful. Unfortunately, some blind people are so embarrassed by receiving such information that they do not receive it in the spirit in which it was offered. But if you convey the information in private and at a time and in a place where the information can be acted upon, mature blind people will be nothing but grateful.

Your other question is an entirely different matter and a much simpler one. But acting constructively requires an instant response. In the situation you described, the sighted child was seeking to establish an alliance of the sighted against the blind. Alliances are crucial in dealing with children, and we adults need all the help we can get. You had better align yourself with the blind adult. If you had acted quickly in the case you cited, it would have been easy to achieve a healthy resolution of the problem. As soon as the lie was uttered, you should have commented cheerfully, “I don’t know what the rules are in your family, but leaving two-thirds of your sandwich and all of your salad wouldn’t count as finishing your lunch in my family.”

Mom would then have been in possession of the facts. Whether she would then have taken Miss Whozit’s position that those who play fast and loose with the truth get no dessert and no television that evening or decided not to create a scene, would clearly have been up to her. You would have delivered the message that you wouldn’t lend credibility to lying and that you respected the parent. It would have been up to the parent to construct such confrontations in the future in a way that the child couldn’t get away with lying. Civilization and civility are fragile flowers. As a conscientious sighted friend, you can help blind people nurture them. As one civilized adult to another, Miss Whozit thanks you.

 

Telling Time and Catching Buses

by Marilyn Moss Donehey

From the Editor: Marilyn Donehey is an active member of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio. The following little anecdote demonstrates the way that the investment of a few minutes’ effort on the part of one person can benefit a lot of people. This is what she says:

I rushed out of the bank after completing my transaction and looked at my watch, which has a gold expansion bracelet and a standard face with a second hand--tick, tick, ticking--, a minute hand, and an hour hand. I didn't want to miss my bus because that meant waiting another forty-five minutes to catch the next one. (Ah, the joys of not driving.)

As I walked out looking at my ordinary watch, two older teen-aged girls noticed and commented. First girl: "Look, she can see; she has a regular watch!"

Second girl: "She should be reported to the police for using a white cane illegally."

I felt my face flush and for a moment wondered how I should handle this situation. In an instant I decided that maybe I could provide some education. I turned around and gently but firmly asked, "Do you mind if I share something about my blindness with you? Do you have a couple of minutes?"

One of the girls sighed, "Ohhhh, Ohhhh!"

Quickly responding, I said, "I'm not chastising you or anything. You have a right to understand how I can see a regular watch and use a white cane at the same time."

The girls looked relieved and said they had some extra time. I told them about the onset of my blindness at age twelve, "There are different kinds of blindness,” I explained. "The two most common are loss of visual field and loss of visual acuity. When you go to the eye doctor, sit in the chair, and read the E-chart, he is finding out about your visual acuity, or how much you can actually see. Normal is 20/20. Visual field is determined by looking at a point and measuring how much you can see around it. In my case, I have only 20 degrees of visual field, but the acuity within that visual field is 20/30 (almost normal) when I am looking right at an object or person.

What I see, I see very clearly; I just don't see very much of it."

The girls listened carefully to the explanation of peripheral vision and how necessary it is for depth perception. "I use the white cane so that I don't fall down curbs and trip up stairs and to let people know that I am legally blind when I accidentally run into them at the mall," I joked.

"Wow!" one teen responded. "I never had any idea about this. Thanks so much for taking time to explain it to us."

"We'll be more careful when we see people using a white cane," the other teen chimed in.

Glancing at my watch, I went to catch my bus, realizing that it had turned out to be a positive few minutes for all of us. I was able to explain something about blindness, and the girls got a whole different point of view about people who are blind. Gratitude for the National Federation of the Blind--the organization that teaches self-advocacy that doesn't alienate, but educates--filled me.

 

Meet an NFB Member

by Steve Jacobson

From the Editor: This article is reprinted from the Fall 2005 issue of Expectations, the publication of the Minnesota Parents of Blind Children. A frequent feature of this newsletter is a profile of a blind member of the Minnesota affiliate. This is what Steve Jacobson wrote about himself:

It is difficult to know, when asked to write about one's life, exactly where to start. After some thought, though, starting with the present will help explain why I have already considered how I arrived where I am now. I hope perhaps elements of my life can help others.

Besides always having been blind and being a member of the NFB for more than thirty years, my wife and I are parents of two adopted blind children, ages ten and thirteen. Our kids have varying degrees of remaining vision, which in many ways makes understanding blindness and its characteristics very, very important. I have been fortunate to have been employed for more than thirty years in the computer field, spending most of that time with the 3M Company. Just like other parents I want my children to have a good life, at least as good as that I am experiencing. It is therefore not surprising that I would look back to those early years as a blind child for answers to questions I often have as a parent.

Clearly I have been lucky. My Maker gave me an aptitude and an interest in mathematics. Such an ability would have meant little a hundred years ago, but it has been the key to a rewarding career since society values such skills just now. Yet much of what I have managed to accomplish has been directly because of the expectations held by my parents. Those expectations were often based more on belief than on hard evidence because they didn't have much hard evidence to guide them. In the 1950's, the period in which I grew up, services offered to blind people were being developed. Social workers mixed good advice based upon their own experience with advice based upon written materials that often reaffirmed stereotypes of blind people that were outdated even then. In the end my parents discovered that they had to follow their own instincts at times, and I can remember yet today some of the lessons they taught me.

As far back as I can remember, my dad conveyed to me the idea that I would be working when I became an adult. Since he has been gone for almost twenty years now, I don't know to what degree he thought about it, and he certainly must have wondered what sort of a job I would have. When I was very young, I remember him suggesting that I might be a good Lutheran minister, for example, and college was always part of the picture. To get into college, it was necessary to do well in school, so this was a related part of the expectation.

There were other specific lessons as well. I remember running into a pole that supported a streetlight when I was four years old. The resulting cut required a number of stitches. Several days later, while I was playing inside, my mother gently suggested that I play outside. A lump of fear formed in my stomach even though I understood that I had hit the pole, it had not hit me, so there was nothing of which to be afraid. Still I was clearly afraid, and going back outside was parallel to getting back on the horse from which one had been thrown. Strangely enough, I don't remember what I did when I returned to playing outside, but I don't recall being afraid again. She knew when a gentle push was in order even though it must have been difficult.

Unfortunately I don't think I quite learned what she hoped I would learn. Rather than learning to be more careful, I apparently took from that experience that stitches didn't hurt much and that the occasional fall and even blood loss was an acceptable price for having fun. I say this because I have an extensive assortment of scars accumulated over the next ten or fifteen years, which usually arose from running when I was supposed to be walking, from roughhousing when I should have been studying, or from climbing when I was supposed to be sitting. Even if that may not have been the intended lesson, I wouldn't give any of it back, not one stitch.

I remember hearing that some people said that the furniture should never be rearranged in our home because it would disorient me. Fortunately my parents figured out that I needed to learn to live in a world that was constantly changing, which included rearranging the furniture when it seemed appropriate. Yet they went out of their way to encourage my interests. For example, my dad built a wooden frame, perhaps a foot square, which was filled with wax. My mother then carved a street map of the city with a butter knife for me since there were no Braille maps of our city. My Dad and I worked out ways for me to participate in family baseball games. When my parents weren't sure how to handle a given situation, they simply gave it their best shot rather than doing nothing, and I can't think of a time when it didn't work out.

In the mid 1950's there was very little mainstreaming in public schools outside of the very largest cities in Minnesota. At that time my hometown of Rochester was much smaller than it is today, and it had no special education classes yet. Since education was so important, my parents sent me to what was then called the Minnesota Braille and Sight Saving School in Faribault. I could never truly understand how difficult this must have been for them until I had kids of my own. When I think about it, it had to have been much harder on them than it was on me. It wasn't always easy for me either, and I can see that I missed some parts of family life, but as others will tell you, the students with whom one grows up in a residential school also become a kind of family. I received a solid education as well and got many of my academics in a joint program with the Faribault public high school.

In looking back, I now can see that my parents sometimes let me off a little easy since I was home only on weekends and holidays. I suspect that my brother and sister resented some of the attention I received when I came home, but I don't remember their ever showing it. Still I didn't get out of doing chores, and that was important. In particular I remember being assigned to take out the garbage; to wipe dishes; and to collect, shake, and then redistribute rugs. During two moves most of the moving was done by our family with the help of some friends. As the oldest kid I was expected to help, and I remember carrying beds, headboards, chairs, couches, and tables with my dad.

I recall being up on the roof with him when I was perhaps seven or eight because he needed someone to help hold a TV antenna that he was installing. There were certainly things I should have done that I didn't, but as a parent myself I understand that one must sometimes choose one's battles. Again, though, the expectation was that I would participate, and they did what they could to make it happen.

After graduating from high school, I attended Augsburg College in Minneapolis, and after expending considerable effort convincing the instructors that it could be done, I pursued a major in mathematics and earned a degree. This led me to computers, which have been a means of earning an income and also a source of enjoyment as a hobby. Still I would not have succeeded in math had my parents not planted the expectation that I would succeed and that, if I didn't succeed, it was my job to find another approach that would work.
Now here I am, a parent of blind children. I have experience to draw upon, good friends, a great organization to look to for guidance, and services that, while far from perfect, are more supportive than those available to my mother and father. Still, even with all that I don't always know what course should be followed, nor do I always have the magic answer. I am therefore amazed more than ever at how many things my parents did right without the experience, guidance, and services available to me.

I believe there are lessons to be learned here. Just as we must walk to strengthen our legs, as blind people we need to fall and then stand again to strengthen our resolve. As parents we can sometimes cushion the fall and extend a helping hand, but we can't and shouldn't prevent the falls. While we parent with our hearts, we must also sometimes temper our protective impulses with common sense. Sometimes love must protect, but at times love must also gently push. The world isn't an easy place, and we have to learn how to survive in it. Yet, if we master the skills we need, the world can be a good place, and we must remember that blind people have never had it better.

 

Convention Scholarships Available

by Allen Harris

From the Editor: Allen Harris chairs the Jernigan Fund Committee. He has an important announcement for those who would like to attend this year’s national convention but find themselves short of funds. This is what he says:

The Jernigan Fund Committee has established criteria for the Dr. Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarships for 2006. These factors will be considered when awarding Jernigan Convention Scholarships:

• Attendance at previous national conventions (preference will be given to first-time attendees).

• Activity at the local, state, or national level.

• Recommendation from the state president. (A formal letter is required. The president must provide a letter to the committee on an applicant’s behalf. If you do not know who your state president is, contact Allen Harris at (515) 274-2256.)

• Amount of assistance requested.

When applying for a convention scholarship, please write a brief paragraph on why you wish to attend the convention. Submit your application letter and statement to Allen Harris, 524 4th Street, Apartment 502 B, Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2364, phone (515) 274-2256.

Applications are due by Monday, April 3, 2006. Every effort will be made to notify scholarship finalists by Monday, May 15, 2006. The National Federation of the Blind’s annual convention is in Dallas, Texas, beginning on July 1, 2006, and adjourning on July 7 at 5:00 p.m. If you have questions or need additional information, contact Allen Harris. His email address is <allen.harris@dwx.com>.

 

Recipes

This month’s recipes were submitted by members of the NFB of Idaho.

Fruit Dip

by Paula Achter

Paula Achter is president of the NFB of Idaho. She enjoys this dip with all kinds of fruit.

Ingredients:
1 8-ounce jar marshmallow cream
1 8-ounce package creamed cheese, softened

Method: Mix together until creamy and smooth. Serve with a platter of cut fruit for dipping.


Heavenly Potatoes

by Vickie Bateman

Vickie Bateman is president of the Snake River Chapter in the Idaho Falls area. She lives in the midst of world-famous Idaho potato country. If you think this recipe looks good, remember that the Idaho affiliate has an entire one-volume cookbook of potato recipes. Print and Braille are each $12. Make checks payable to the NFB of Idaho, indicate which format you are ordering, and send requests to NFB of Idaho, 1301 S. Capitol Boulevard, Suite C, Boise, Idaho 83706.

Ingredients:
4 to 6 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed (You can substitute a bag of frozen shredded potatoes.)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
3 or 4 green onions, sliced
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Method: Mix all ingredients in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Topping (Optional): crush two to three cups corn flakes and add one-half cup melted butter. Mix thoroughly and sprinkle over casserole surface. Cover casserole with foil.
Bake at 375 degrees for forty-five minutes or until bubbly.



Cherry Pie Salad

by Susan Bradley

Susan Bradley is first vice president of the Treasure Valley Chapter. We grow cherries in Idaho too.

Ingredients:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 11-ounce package Cool Whip
1 can Wilderness Cherry Pie Filling
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method: Mix sweetened condensed milk and whipped topping together in a large bowl with a whisk or a beater. Fold in remaining ingredients. Serve chilled.


Melting Moments

by Mary Ellen Halverson

Mary Ellen Halverson is a board member of the Treasure Valley Chapter in Boise. These cookies are a longtime favorite in Mary Ellen’s family, and they really do melt in your mouth.

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour

Method: Cream butter and powdered sugar together. Add cornstarch and flour. Mix well, and chill for an hour. Form thirty-six balls and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes. These cookies are extra good with a dab of lemon frosting on top.


Baked Chicken Casserole

by Mary Ellen Halverson

This is a great dish to bake for company. You can prepare it early, and there's no last minute rush when guests arrive.

Ingredients:
12-ounce package of bacon
4 to 6 boneless chicken breasts
2 cups uncooked long-grained rice
2 cans mushroom soup
2 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese, optional

Method: Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with raw bacon. Top with rice and chicken breasts cut into small serving portions. Mix two cans mushroom soup and two cups milk and pour over chicken. Cover and bake for two hours at 325 degrees. Sprinkle on grated cheese for last few minutes.



Nutritious Oatmeal Orange Muffins

by Ramona Walhof

Ramona Walhof is a longtime leader of the Federation. She currently serves as NFB of Idaho first vice president.

Ingredients:
2 heaping cups oatmeal
3 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 12-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 teaspoons vanilla

Method: In large mixing bowl thoroughly mix dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center. Mix liquid ingredients in second bowl. Pour liquid into the well and stir just enough to combine. If you wish batter to be less stiff, add up to 1/2 juice can water. Spray 2 twelve-cup muffin tins with cooking spray. If you prefer to handle dough, spray your hands as well before filling the tins half to three-quarters full of batter. Bake at 375 degrees fifteen to twenty minutes, until muffins spring back when lightly touched. Makes two dozen, heavier than cake and not too sweet. Variations: Substitute apple juice for orange or two cups mashed ripe bananas for juice. Substitute 1 1/4 cups miller’s bran for one cup of the whole-wheat flour. Add 1 1/2 cups raisins, chopped dates, chocolate chips, walnut pieces, slivered almonds, 2 cups frozen blueberries, or coconut. Use your imagination when adding any of these items, mix as little as possible. After muffins are baked, immediately freeze in resealable plastic bags those not used. Remove one or two at a time for breakfast or snack. I prefer to warm them in a toaster oven rather than a microwave.


Venison Sloppy Joes

by Ramona Walhof

Ramona says of this recipe, “My father and husband were hunters, so I learned to cook game. It can be delicious. Recently a friend gave me a package of ground venison, so I dug out an old recipe.”

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
1 pound ground venison
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
8 fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 cups prepared spaghetti sauce
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Spray skillet with cooking spray. (Most venison is lean.) Brown chopped onion. Crumble and add ground venison. Brown, but do not cook thoroughly. Add pickle relish, spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir all together. Simmer for ten to twenty minutes. Serve on hamburger buns or over pasta or mashed potatoes.

 

Monitor Miniatures

News from the Federation Family

Save Yourself from Check-in Woes:

Every year at convention hotel check-in, some are caught unaware by the standard hotel practices with respect to paying in cash or by debit card. This year at the Anatole, if you are not using a standard credit card or a debit card, you must be prepared to pay cash at check-in for room and tax for all nights of your stay, as well as a $50-per-day incidentals deposit. The unused portion of your incidentals deposit is of course refunded at checkout. With debit cards the hotel simply puts a hold as a "charge pending" in the amount required, so that that total is unavailable to you until checkout. You must be certain to have a sufficient balance in your account to cover the pending transactions amount. Being prepared for these facts of banking life will save you grief checking in.

Elected:

The newly elected officers of the Charlotte Chapter of the NFB of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina are Pat Robbins, president; Charles Helms, vice president; Hazel Staley, secretary; Janis Lynn Stallings, treasurer; and Shirley McDuffie, board member. Carry-over board members are Mary Lee O’Daniel and Laurence Murphy.

Elected:

New officers were elected on November 12, 2005, at the thirteenth annual convention of the NFB of Puerto Rico. Elected were Alpidio Rolón Garcia, president; Lydia Usero Quiñones, first vice president; Carmen Leon Bosque, second vice president; Vasthi Pérez Jiménez, secretary; Ana Casilda Rodriguez, treasurer; and Eduardo González and Gerardo Martinez, members of the board of directors.


In Brief

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.

Online Braille Book Store:

Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ASB) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, announces the grand opening of its online Braille bookstore, <www.asb.org/bookstore.htm>. For the first time ASB has opened its archives and has created a bookstore to give worldwide access to its collection of Brailled books. The ASB Braille Bookstore currently has nine categories and over one hundred books ready for immediate sale. With updates every week ASB plans on having over three hundred books in its catalogue. The ASB Braille Bookstore currently contains classics like Lord of the Flies; The Call of the Wild; Cajun Cooking; and books by popular authors like Stephen King, Clive Cussler, Dean Koontz, and romance queen Sandra Brown.

With most books ranging from $15 to $35 (bound and shipped by Free Matter), this collection of books is affordable. All books are proofread and transcribed by certified Braille transcribers and proofreaders. Braille books make great gifts, and, if you include a short message (under twenty words), ASB will include your note in print and Braille, <dfgodzieba@asb.org>.

Christian Camping Session for the Blind:

The 2006 Siloam Camp for the Blind will be held Saturday, May 13, through Saturday, May 20, at the Golden Cross Ranch in New Caney, Texas. The Siloam Bible Camping session is sponsored by the Gospel Association for the Blind. The campground is located twenty-five minutes from Houston’s George Bush International Airport. Cost for the camp is $200, including lodging, meals, and activities. A $25 nonrefundable registration fee is required of all campers. For further details call (866) 251-5165, enter mailbox 7128, and then press the pound key. You may also write the Gospel Association for the Blind, P.O. Box 1162, Bunnell, Florida 32110. To contact Camp Director George Gray, email <geogray@sbcglobal.net>.


Honored:

James Skelton is president of the Corpus Christi Chapter of the NFB of Texas. We recently received the following press release:

Each year since 1968 National Industries for the Blind (NIB) has selected one outstanding agency employee to receive the Peter J. Salmon Direct Labor Employee of the Year Award. Given in honor of the late Peter J. Salmon, this distinction is awarded to a blind employee who has demonstrated exceptional work ethic and achievement. Credited with playing a significant role in the passage of the Wagner-O’Day Act in 1938 and the formation of NIB, Salmon is widely regarded as a timeless advocate for blind people. To be eligible for this award, candidates must be legally blind, work for an NIB agency in a direct labor position, have demonstrated successful job performance, and have volunteered in their community.

South Texas Lighthouse for the Blind is proud to announce James Skelton as its 2006 nominee for this award. A nearly severed optic nerve at birth left Skelton legally blind, but it did not affect his outlook on the future. Throughout his life he has possessed a can-do attitude that is an inspiration to us all. Mr. Skelton is a highly motivated individual who constantly challenges himself to live up to his full potential. His desire to become computer literate prompted him to enroll in computer classes at Houston Community College, and after graduation he began teaching others with disabilities the skills that he had acquired. He also taught himself how to use the adaptive technology available to those who are visually impaired. Skelton recently participated in orientation and mobility training--an educational process that prepares an individual with a visual impairment to travel safely and independently in his or her environment. He took advantage of the O&M training offered by the Lighthouse, not only for his own benefit, but because he also wanted to practice what he preached. “I could not tell everyone else how important learning how to travel under sleep shades was until I actually did it,” Skelton said.

Although he came to work at the Lighthouse most recently in August 2003 as an assembler, Skelton is not new to the organization. In 1964, when the Lighthouse first opened its doors, he took a job repairing old wooden crates, a product previously manufactured by the Lighthouse. In February 2005 he was promoted from manufacturing assembler to base store associate at the Lighthouse’s Corpus Christi Naval Air Station Base Supply Store.

James Skelton will soon be making another move within the organization as a result of accepting a job at our newest base store at NAS--Meridian and will be transferring to Mississippi on February 2. He is very excited about the move and looks forward to a new adventure and opportunity.

Skelton’s work ethic and dedication are evident even when he is not at work. “I volunteer every chance I get at my church--in the kitchen, cleaning up or just doing whatever needs to be done,” Skelton said enthusiastically. He is also very involved in Out of Sight, a local support group for people who are blind, and serves as president of the Corpus Christi Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas, an organization that deals with issues related to blindness on the national, state, and local level.

Announcing Quick Braille™:

Quick Braille is a new way to learn the Braille code. It is fast and easy to use along with a Braille slate. It is shaped like a Braille cell. Six dowel pegs are provided to form any Braille letter. Then just turn the Quick Braille cover and push down to form the slated letter. No more trying to reverse in your mind to slate a letter. You have it at your fingertips, compact enough to carry along with your Braille slate and stylus. The Quick Braille is 2.5 inches by 1.5 inches.

To place an order, make check payable to Robin King in the amount of $15. This price includes the cost of shipping and handling. The mailing address is Robin King, 34 Carter Avenue, Wilmington, North Carolina 28405. Government or private organizations interested in ordering larger quantities may contact the above address.

Volunteers Needed to Dictate Taped Magazines:

I am compiling a new taped monthly magazine, a message of faith, hope, and joy. It is free to the blind, hearing impaired, mildly to moderately mentally ill, and sighted. The tape features a Bible message and will have music in future issues. Volunteers are needed to dictate literature for transcription into Braille. Contact Reverend Adelaide E. Wink, 59 S. Lee Street, Beverly Hills, Florida 34465, or call (352) 746-3087.

Attention Those Who Work from Their Homes:

Since I enjoy knitting and plastic-canvas grid weaving, I would love to hear from others who do yarn crafts. I would also like to hear from those who are working in their homes using their hands in manufacturing, packaging, light assembly work, etc. Please write to Adelaide E. Wink, 59 S. Lee Street, Beverly Hills, Florida 34465, or call (352) 746-3087.

New Book for Parents and Teachers of Blind or Visually Impaired Students:

Here is a press release that will interest everyone who cares about the education of blind students:

Making It Work by Carol Castellano is a complete how-to guide for the successful inclusion of a blind or visually impaired student in the regular classroom. Written in a clear, straightforward style, the book provides both the guiding principles and the nuts-and-bolts advice that will enable classroom teachers, teacher’s aides, school administrators, IEP teams, teachers of the visually impaired, and parents to create a learning atmosphere in which both the teacher and the blind or visually impaired student can thrive.

The effective teaching strategies and practical information presented will empower school staff not only to meet the challenges but also to enjoy the experience of having a blind or visually impaired student in class and will enable the blind or visually impaired student to be a full, independent participant throughout the school day. Information for blind or visually impaired students with multiple disabilities is included. Comments and advice from experienced classroom teachers who have successfully taught a blind or visually impaired student are a unique and helpful aspect of the book. The extensive resources chapter provides access to a wealth of information. 227 pages; $25 plus shipping and handling.

Topics include: Why the Regular School?; Raising Expectations; A Skills Definition of Blindness; The Skills and Tools of Blindness; Setting the Stage for Success; Essentials That Must Be in Place; Writing IEP Goals; Specifics for Classroom Teachers; Accessing the Curriculum; Classroom Techniques and Subject Guide; The Role of the Teacher’s Aide; Adapting Materials; Technology; Report from the Classroom: Inspiration and Advice from Those Who Have Been There; and Resources.

Making It Work is destined to be the definitive guide for years to come on how to make the regular school education a successful experience for blind and visually impaired children. With chapters flowing logically and full of detailed, useful information, it will be an essential handbook for school staff, specialized service providers, and parents of blind or visually impaired children,” says Joe Cutter, early childhood O&M specialist.

The book is available from Information Age Publishing, (203) 661-7602, <www.infoagepub.com>; National Center for the Blind, (410) 659-9314, opt. 4, <www.nfb.org>; Parents of Blind Children-NJ, (973) 377-0976, <www.blindchildren.org>. To order from POBC-NJ, please make check payable to POBC-NJ and mail to 23 Alexander Ave., Madison, NJ 07940. Provide your name, address, and phone. The cost of the book is $25 plus $2.50 shipping and handling on the first book. Shipping and handling for each additional book is $1.

Summer Braille Music Institute:

The National Resource Center for Blind Musicians is accepting applications for its seminar for blind college-bound musicians, which will be held July 16 to 22 at the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Designed for serious Braille-reading music students preparing for or already in college (ages average seventeen to twenty-one), the program tailors instruction to each person's need to develop Braille music and theory skills and to learn to use technology to submit written assignments. Applicants must already have studied some music theory and have the ability to present a polished and pleasing performance. They must be willing to put effort into Braille music study and demonstrate a commitment to use the Braille music and computer skills they will learn at the Institute when they return to school. Applicants must also show that they have the independence skills, social readiness, and maturity to be a contributing part of a close-knit group.

Contact the Resource Center about tuition, scholarship criteria, and the application and audition procedure. Deadline for requesting applications is April 15; all application materials must be in the Resource Center office by May 10. Contact David Goldstein, National Resource Center for Blind Musicians, Music and Arts Center for Humanity, 510 Barnum Avenue, Third Floor, Bridgeport, Connecticut 06608, phone (203) 366-3300, extension 229, fax (203) 368-2847, email <info@blindmusicstudent.org>.

Braille Enthusiast’s Dictionary Available:

SCALARS Publishing announces the availability of the Braille edition of The Braille Enthusiast’s Dictionary, compiled and edited by Alan J. Koenig, Ed.D., and M. Cay Holbrook, Ph.D. The Braille Enthusiast’s Dictionary contains the Braille transcriptions of almost 30,000 common and not-so-common words in the English language.

The Braille Enthusiast’s Dictionary, Braille Edition, is available from the National Braille Association, 3 Townline Circle, Rochester, New York 14623, phone (585) 427-8260. The cost to individuals who pay with their own funds is $424; for all others, the cost is $1,045. The ten volumes are bound. Shipping is by Free Matter for the Blind.

The print edition of The Braille Enthusiast’s Dictionary is available for $70 plus $4.75 shipping and handling from SCALARS Publishing, phone (901) 737-0001.

Handcrafts for Sale:

I have handmade tissue box covers and many more items for sale including handmade NFB logos. These make great fundraisers. Free catalog available, contact Henry and Cindy Osborne, 127 Platt Street, Apt. D, Milford, Connecticut 06460-7542; phone, (203) 876-1696 (home) or (203) 809-4781 (cell).

Opportunities for Dual Training:

Missouri State University is pleased to announce training opportunities for qualified individuals wishing to become dually trained as teachers of the visually impaired and orientation and mobility specialists. Courses are offered through a combination of distance education and regional facilitation methods. Qualified candidates will receive generous scholarship assistance to cover a total of thirty-three credit hours of coursework.

For further information contact Dr. Chris Craig, associate dean, Missouri State University, Hill Hall 300, 901 S. National Avenue, Springfield, Missouri 65897; phone (417) 836-8775; or email <cjc886f@smsu.edu>.

Lions Beacon Lodge Camp 2006 Program Announced:

Pennsylvania Lions Beacon Lodge Camp is planning its 2006 camping season; the fifty-eighth consecutive year of camping. Beacon Lodge, supported by the Lions of Pennsylvania, is a summer camp providing a program of recreation and rehabilitation for the blind and visually impaired, physically challenged, and mentally challenged. Programs are carried out for children and adults simultaneously, but each group enjoys its own activities. Children are accommodated in cabins, while adults are housed in dormitories.

The 2006 camping season opens June 10 and closes August 16. Camp sessions are six or eleven days long, based on eligibility criteria. Activities include swimming, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, bowling, hiking, archery, air riflery, nature studies, arts and crafts, backpacking, ropes course, talent and music programs, fishing in a private pond, and off-camp trips to a water park for children and an amusement park for adults.

Beacon Lodge is located in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, along the Juniata River. For more information, write to Pennsylvania Lions Beacon Lodge Camp, 114 SR 103, South, Mount Union, Pennsylvania 17066-9601, or in Pennsylvania contact your local Lions Club. You can also visit the Web site, <www.beaconlodge.com> or email <beason1@hcworkshop.com>.


Monitor Mart

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.


For Sale:

Optelec Clearview 317XL CCTV with black-and-white seventeen-inch monitor, electronic controls, and line or window markers. Excellent condition. Still under warranty, asking $1,500 or best offer. Contact Bill Porter at (847) 342-7155 between 1 and 8 p.m. CST; or email Bill at <052338@comcast.net>.

Games for Sale:

Never-used Chinese checker game, $25 (includes shipping and handling) for low vision or blind, different wooden shaped and colored pegs for each player, excellent condition.

Never-used Scrabble game for low vision or blind, has raised plastic panel insert over lettered board and Braille labeled letters, regular price $75, asking $40 (includes shipping and handling), excellent condition.

Contact Wendy at (218) 723-8269 or Karen at (218) 729-9299 for questions.

For Sale:

I wish to sell an XM satellite radio in excellent condition; price is negotiable. Contact Lucia Marett, 170 West 23 Street, Apartment 3H, New York, New York 10011-2430.

NFB Pledge

I pledge to participate actively in the efforts 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.