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Braille Monitor

Vol. 49, No. 4                                                                     April 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

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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. 4                                                                                       April 2006

 

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
by Mary Ellen Jernigan

The Local, State, and National Organization:
Three Parts of a Whole
by Fredric K. Schroeder

No Boundaries
by Kirsten Srinivasan

The Radiator, the Washing Machine, and the Gas Pump
by Robert Moore

Convention, Freedom, and the Fourth of July
by Rebekah Jakeman

Texas Calling
by Elizabeth Campbell

A Breakfast Moment
by Mark Taylor

2006 Convention Attractions

The Equation for Success
2006 Seminar for Parents and Teachers
by Barbara Cheadle

NFB Camp: It’s More Than Child’s Play
by Carla McQuillan

Hearing Enhancement and Spanish Translation Available
Spanish Translators Needed
by D. Curtis Willoughby

Dialysis at National Convention
by Ed Bryant

Attention National Convention Exhibitors
by Jerry Lazarus

Recipes

Monitor Miniatures

Copyright 2006 National Federation of the Blind

 

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

by Mary Ellen Jernigan

From the Editor: Over Presidents’ Day weekend affiliate presidents from across the country gathered in Baltimore at the National Center for the first ever presidents’ seminar. It was organized and conducted by Joanne Wilson and her Affiliate Action staff. Anyone lucky enough to have been present will tell you that it was an unforgettable experience.

Saturday morning, February 18, began with an address by Mary Ellen Jernigan, NFB executive director of operations, a Federation leader in her own right for many years and a thoughtful observer of the blindness field since 1965. She is also, of course, the widow of our longtime leader and beloved colleague, Kenneth Jernigan.

Even as we were listening to her address, we realized that we were hearing one of the great Federation speeches. It continues to resonate in our hearts and minds, changing the way we think about the NFB and the way we live in the world. This is what she said:

I thought it might be well to begin this day by thinking together a bit about who we are. When you ask that question, a number of obvious answers spring to mind—we are teachers and lawyers and students and vendors and rehab professionals. We are leaders in the National Federation of the Blind. We are a vehicle for collective action. We are the Voice of the Nation’s Blind—and all that. But that’s not what I’m talking about when I say I want us to think about who we are. Those things are what we do; they are not who we are.

My mind started going down this track for a number of reasons. Joanne wanted me to talk to you about Dr. Jernigan. I think she had in mind a sort of behind-the-scenes anecdotal telling of stories that would somehow capture or recapture for us the magic of his energy and presence. All of us who knew him have our treasured memories of what he did and said in this or that situation. From this blend of memory, reality, myth, and legend we construct the story of the man we loved—who for nearly five decades was at the center of forming and shaping and building this movement that has brought us here to Baltimore this weekend.

But this man is dead—it’s coming up on eight years that he’s been dead. And except for the sentimental appeal of it all, it’s a fair question (a phrase he frequently used) to ask what does it matter? What’s the point? Why bother to remember him now or think about what he said and did and thought?

He always asked the hard questions and demanded that you go where your mind led you—even if you didn’t at all like where it took you. Unless we get more than warm, fuzzy feelings from telling each other our stories about Dr. Jernigan, we’d do better this morning to set about getting the work of the Federation done, and that’s exactly what he would tell us if he were here.

So I’m going to tell only one story. I think it meets the criterion: I think it tells us something. Here it is:

A few weeks before Dr. Jernigan died, I got a summons for jury duty. I wrote asking to be excused, and I was. A few weeks after he died, I got another summons. In Baltimore City jury duty is, under the best of circumstances, a moderately unpleasant experience. You are herded together with several hundred others who would also rather be somewhere else, sit in a crowded room with noisy ventilation on hard chairs, and wait to be told by a peremptory voice over a loud speaker what you are to do next—you get the picture. The energy in the room is sour and surly. One of the first orders you are given is to line up with your summons in hand and present yourself to the clerk to check in and receive your $10 jury duty pay—a sum which hardly begins to cover the cost of parking downtown.
As I stood in the line, my disposition was as sour and surly as that of those around me. Each person approached the clerk, who without looking up reached out, took the summons, crossed a name off a computer printout, and thrust a ten-dollar bill at him or her. While I was standing there, it did briefly cross my mind to think what a dull and dreary job this woman had, before turning back to my own boredom.

Imagine my surprise as, when my turn came, she lifted her head from her printout, looked straight at me with what I can only describe as clear, shining eyes, and said softly, “Jernigan, oh, I knew him,” as she proceeded to describe glowingly and with detail her exchange with him in the jury pay line. I snapped out of my grumpy stupor and spent the rest of that jury duty day pondering the experience. Under the most unfavorable circumstances this woman had had perhaps a sixty-second encounter two or three years earlier with Dr. Jernigan, yet thousands of such encounters later, the life-giving energy of that encounter still lived somewhere inside her and radiated out to me on that day.

My encounter with her, like hers with him, had a profound effect. I have come back to it over the years, and it never fails to give me some deeper understanding of why, not just for me as an individual, but for us as the Federation, there is still something of value—something that is life-giving for us today, something that goes beyond mere loyalty and reverence for the past—that we get from thinking about Dr. Jernigan. More precisely, it is thinking about who we are that matters. And for me at least, thinking about Dr. Jernigan helps me know more clearly who we are as the Federation. If it doesn’t do this, he would not have us do it at all. There is a modern day philosopher and spiritual writer named Eckhardt Tolle. One of the things Tolle says is this:

“Every human being emanates an energy field that corresponds to his or her inner energy state, and most people can sense it. Even if they don’t know that they sense it, they feel it subliminally, and it determines how they feel about and react to that person.”

Tolle also says that this inner something is who we really are, that only the present moment is real, that the past and the future are only thoughts, and that, to the extent that the mind occupies itself with anything other than the present moment, it is unconscious—that is, it misses the only reality there ever is, the now. Tolle’s concept of an inner energy state that people can sense and that defines who we are, and the idea that what we do with each present moment is our only reality resonate deeply with the way I see the Federation and Dr. Jernigan’s contribution to it.

For, if individuals have an inner energy state that, apart from anything external, defines who they are, so organizations have a collective internal energy. And that collective internal energy comes from, but is more than, the individuals in it and encompasses more than current time. All you have to do to understand this concept is to think about the national convention. The convention is alive as something that is more than merely the individuals who are there. You know it, I know it, and anyone who shows up there for the first time feels it almost instantly. It was what Dr. Jernigan was talking about when he wrote in his last banquet speech, “I never come into one of our convention sessions without feeling a lift of spirit and a surge of joy, for I know to the depths of my being that our shared bond of love and trust will never change, and that because of it we will be unswervable in our determination and unstoppable in our progress.”

This something at the very core of the Federation, this collective inner energy state, this who-we-are as opposed to what-we-do—this something I believe is the unshakeable knowledge that the characteristic of blindness is merely one of the thousands of attributes that define an individual; that blindness does not in and of itself limit an individual in ways that are more significant than those imposed by other characteristics.

Notice that I said “knowledge,” not “belief.” Knowledge is deeper than belief. It is hope and belief backed up by fact. I think Dr. Jernigan (and Dr. tenBroek before him) started with belief—inner and unshakeable. The Federation, as the collective organism that is more than all of us combined, transmuted that belief (piling up fact after fact after fact) into knowledge—inner and unshakeable.
If Eckhardt Tolle is correct that this inner energy is sensed by the people we encounter, even if only subliminally, and if it truly determines how they feel about and react to us, think of what that means. Is it any wonder that Dr. Jernigan had the effect he had on people? Is it any wonder that students come away from our centers able to do jobs they never dreamed they could do? Is it any wonder that the convention is alive in more than just a figurative sense?

Now couple the inner energy that is who-we-are with the concept of the now—being fully conscious to the present moment as the only reality that ever exists—and think what that means. It explains the power of the Federation in a way that little else can. It also explains the jury pay clerk (and many others as well who remember an almost chance encounter with Dr. Jernigan). He was as present to her that day in the dreary jury duty room as he would have been if he were talking to the president of the United States. And that was always the way it was with him.

When we focus on each moment and bring all of our energy to what that exact moment requires, we have amazing power. It doesn’t matter whether we are doing something as mundane as arranging transportation for someone to get to a chapter meeting or something as lofty as delivering a banquet speech. If we are fully present, we build life. This is the Federation, and we are alive.

Any reasonably rational assessment of the Federation would conclude that we should not have been able to do what we have done. Blindness is not a characteristic that selects for success as our society is structured. The staggering unemployment rate, the essentially non-existent capacity for Braille instruction, and the massive public misconceptions all conspire against us.

Think about it this way: in 1978 the Federation was nearly broke. The mail campaign had been suspended because of lawsuits in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Iowa Commission for the Blind and Dr. Jernigan were undergoing vicious attacks by the Des Moines Register on an almost daily basis. The U.S. attorney had piled on with a high-profile federal investigation aimed at furthering her gubernatorial campaign. Many of you in this room lived through those days and provided part of that inner energy—that who-we-are at the core—that moved us relatively quickly through them.

I don’t remember exactly when the chant, “We know who we are, and we will never go back,” began at the banquet, but once it started, it caught on with fervor because it rang with the truth. That basic truth not only that we know who we are, but also that we are who we are, never changes. But what we do does change. It always has. It always will. It always should.

I was not around in the fifties, but I know that it was a time of working on the welfare laws, trying to assure at least a meager financial subsistence, fighting for the right to organize, and working to eliminate the most demeaning and custodial parts of the rehab system.
I was around in the sixties—having met Dr. Jernigan just before my twenty-first birthday and having started to work for him shortly thereafter. This was the decade of the employment breakthroughs in Iowa, the perfection of our style of mobility and orientation-center training, the emergence of a whole cadre of promising young Federationists who were to become leaders in the decades that followed.
The seventies were years for the building of affiliates, the leadership seminars, and the emergence of more leaders. It was also the decade of our most brutal confrontation with the reactionary elements of the blindness system.

In the eighties we built infrastructure—the National Center, a full-time president whose activities were not circumscribed by employment responsibilities, an expanded staff, and our own independent training centers in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Colorado.
With the nineties came the emergence and then consolidation of our position as the dominant force in matters dealing with blindness in this country—symbolized most clearly by such things as Dr. Jernigan’s and then Dr. Maurer’s leadership of the North America/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union, the appointment of Fred Schroeder as rehabilitation commissioner, and our development of cutting-edge technology.

Also with the nineties came our demonstration to friend and foe alike of the depth and rock-solid stability of the Federation with the seamless transition from Dr. Jernigan’s leadership to Dr. Maurer’s. Marc Maurer is now in his twentieth year as our president. He learned and learned well from Dr. Jernigan. But he also has forged from his own resources, experience, and personal integrity a brand of leadership that is his own. Not a leadership that merely conserves and mimics the past, but one which is fully present to our own moment, our own reality.

Dr. Jernigan’s time was not the time of Dr. tenBroek. There was overlap and continuity, but not sameness. Likewise, Dr. Maurer’s time is not the time of Dr. Jernigan. Again there is overlap and continuity, but not sameness. For this decade—the first of the new century, although it’s hard to characterize a decade until you have a chance to look back on it with some perspective, I think the exponential expansion of the vibrancy, depth and breadth, maturity, and general aliveness of the National Convention may come to be its defining factor.

The elements of renewal of commitment, the incorporation of rookies into the body of the Federation, the mentoring of scholarship winners, the reaching out to parents and blind children, the hammering out of policy—sometimes confirming, sometimes changing our direction, the giving of hope to the hopeless, the sharing of resources—financial and emotional—, the love falling on all who care to receive it: these things give to the convention a unifying dimension—one that marries the unchangeable who-we-are at the inner spiritual level with the ever-changing what-we-do at the tactical and strategic levels.

 

The Local, State, and National Organization: Three Parts of a Whole

by Fredric K. Schroeder

From the Editor: Fred Schroeder's credentials for addressing the subject of the underlying unity of the elements of the National Federation of the Blind are recognized by all who know him. He has been a member and leader of the Federation since he was a college student. He has been president of two state affiliates: New Mexico and Virginia. He presided over the transformation of a state rehabilitation program from an undistinguished bureaucracy condemning blind citizens to inactivity and despair to a force for effective rehabilitation and hope. He also served for seven years as commissioner of the United States Rehabilitation Services Administration, implementing important reforms to the entire rehabilitation system. In July of 2005 he returned to the board of the National Federation of the Blind. Fred delivered the following stirring remarks at the seminar for state presidents on February 18, 2006. This is what he said:

I have been a member of the National Federation of the Blind for many years. I am not quite sure when I moved from being a new member to being one of the old-timers. I have always felt that I was one of the young people in the Federation, still with much to learn. Given that I joined in 1974 and since it's now 2006, I suppose I no longer have a claim to being one of the new people in the organization. Yet it is gratifying to look around this room and see how many new and dynamic leaders we have in our organization. It gives me great encouragement and hope for the future.
As many of you know, I grew up in New Mexico. I lived for several years in California and later Nebraska, but in 1980 I moved back to New Mexico and began getting active in our state affiliate. At that time blind people in the state had very limited opportunities to obtain the training and encouragement they needed to live active, productive lives, yet we were Federationists and knew that things could be better. In 1986, after years of effort, we were successful in creating a separate agency for the blind, the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, and I was hired as its first director.

One day in the late 1980’s I was sitting at my desk, and I received a telephone call from a young blind woman living in Tucumcari, a woman I did not know. She used a guide dog, and she called to say that she had gone to a local restaurant which refused to admit her with her dog. She insisted on calling the police, and when the police came, she told them about the White Cane Law that guaranteed her right to take her dog into a restaurant. Unfortunately the local police were not aware of the White Cane Law either and refused to require the restaurant owner to admit her, so she was turned away. She called the Commission for the Blind asking for help, and of course we did help. We contacted the restaurant and the Tucumcari police, and we were able to resolve the issue. But I remember thinking to myself, "Here it is, the late 1980's, and a young woman in Tucumcari, New Mexico, has the legal right to take a guide dog into a restaurant. But why does she have that legal right? Whether she knew about the National Federation of the Blind or not, her right to take her guide dog into a local restaurant was a result of the efforts of the Federation, and even the intervention of the state agency, the Commission for the Blind, was also directly linked to the work of the Federation.

In 1967 New Mexico was the first state in the nation to pass the Model White Cane Law in its entirety. Because Pauline Gomez and other Federationists in New Mexico had worked with the legislature twenty years earlier, this young blind woman in Tucumcari, New Mexico, had the right to go into a restaurant and take her dog.

But where did the Model White Cane Law come from? The idea did not originate with blind people in New Mexico; it had been conceived a year earlier. It started as an article that our president, Dr. tenBroek, wrote and published in the California Law Review in April 1966. The title of the article was "The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled in the Law of Torts." In that article he talked about fundamental principles of civil rights for blind people, a concept that was not generally established in law at that time. In Dr. tenBroek’s words, " Nothing could be more essential to personality, social existence, economic opportunity—in short, to individual well-being and integration into the life of the community—than...public approval, and the legal right to be abroad in the land."

At that time a smattering of state laws provided some level of legal protection for blind people around the country, but no systematic guarantee of rights existed for blind people generally. Dr. tenBroek’s article included the draft of a model White Cane Law that would grant to blind people many of the protections we take for granted today. At our 1966 national convention we voted to seek the adoption of the Model White Cane Law in all of the fifty states. As a result leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico went home and worked to have the Model White Cane Law passed by the state legislature so that twenty years later a young blind woman in Tucumcari who knew nothing about the National Federation of the Blind would have the right to go into a restaurant of her choosing and to take her guide dog in with her.

But the Model White Cane Law did much more than guarantee blind people access to restaurants with their guide dogs. At that time—some of you are too young to know this—it was not uncommon for blind people traveling alone to be told by a bus company or an airline that they wouldn't be allowed to travel unless they were accompanied by a sighted person—and it was perfectly legal for the bus company or airline to do so. It was also not uncommon for blind people to be turned away from a hotel on the basis that they might unknowingly start a fire or have some other kind of accident that would endanger themselves or others, and the hotel had a legal right to do so. Recognizing that blind people needed the guarantee of basic civil rights, Dr. tenBroek drafted the Model White Cane Law, and brought it to the national convention. As a national movement we made its adoption in the states a priority, a unified effort of our Federation.

The Model White Cane Law demonstrates how the national, state, and local bodies of our organization work together, each with its role, each with its job to do—separate and yet parts of a cohesive whole. It demonstrates our unity, and it shows something else. It shows how our philosophy binds us together. What gives us direction, what makes us strong and unified, is our shared belief in our fundamental normalcy; and, as Mrs. Jernigan pointed out to us, the truth of our equality has evolved past belief, past hope, into knowledge. We know that as blind people we can in fact live normal, productive lives and that blindness is nothing more than one of our many characteristics; it is not the overarching, all-defining characteristic of who we are. The truth of our normalcy, our equality, is the foundation of what we believe and drives our actions; it organizes us and gives us unity and focus.

There is a concept in open systems theory called "negative entropy," entropy being defined in the physical sciences as the tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity. When applied to social systems, entropy is defined as the inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society. In plain language entropy means death or dying. That said, what then is negative entropy? By definition it means that, in order to survive, an open system must arrest entropy—a universal law of nature—by incorporating acquisitions equal to or greater than its exports. That is, negative entropy means to be alive, but, more than alive, it means to grow or expand or develop. So in open systems theory why use the term negative entropy? Why not simply say expanding, growing, or developing? Why be so convoluted? Why not talk about death as contrasted with growth rather than entropy with negative entropy? The reason is that, according to open systems theory, social organizations drift toward death. If not resisted, if not actively combated, systems lose vitality and die. Applying this concept to our movement, if we are not expanding, if we are not growing, if we are not continuously taking on new challenges, then we will inevitably drift toward death. It is not enough to continue doing what we have done in the past. We must constantly challenge ourselves and push forward, staving off entropy through the process of negative entropy. Our success can be seen through our history, in the lives and examples of many of our members.

We have a legacy of pioneers in our movement, and their spirit guides our efforts today and lays the course for the future. In February 2006, a man in Santa Fe, New Mexico, named Albert Gonzales died. He was ninety-three years old. In the 1940's in New Mexico, Albert was the first blind person to earn an undergraduate degree from New Mexico State University. He went on to be the first blind person to graduate from the Georgetown University School of Law. He returned to New Mexico and became the first blind person to be elected judge in the state and the first blind person to serve in the New Mexico legislature. He was a very successful man who practiced law for sixty years, although he slowed down a little as he reached his nineties. Albert Gonzalez was a pioneer, yet today the National Federation of the Blind has an entire division of practicing lawyers.

At about the same time as Albert Gonzales began practicing law, a woman in New Mexico named Pauline Gomez became the first blind person in the state to graduate from the University of New Mexico. Pauline wanted to be a teacher, but in the 1940's, if a blind person wanted to teach, it was presumed that he or she could teach only other blind people. Employment was limited to educating children at the residential school for the blind or training blind adults through the state rehabilitation agency. But Pauline did not want to teach at the school for the blind at the other end of the state and away from family and friends. With the help of her family, she opened a private kindergarten, Los Niños, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I do not know if it was the first private school owned and operated by a blind person in the nation, but if not, it certainly was one of the very first. Pauline ran her school for many, many years and was a true pioneer. Yet today, through the work of the National Federation of the Blind, we have an entire division devoted to blind teachers.
What do the experiences of Albert Gonzales and Pauline Gomez teach us as affiliate presidents? How can we learn from their lives, and what do we do from here? Of course there is no one answer. We must start with our fundamental beliefs, beliefs that have now matured into knowledge, and apply them to the present situation facing blind people in our individual states. In other words we must determine what needs to be done, and then we must find a way to make change, to make a difference.

Some of us have the good fortune to live in states that have had strong, active affiliates for many years. That means we have an established infrastructure, making it easier to share the work, mentor new members, and train up and coming leaders. In other states our affiliates have been smaller, more isolated, and less active. Still we must begin at the beginning, start where we are and move forward from there. Many years ago, when I moved back to New Mexico, I attended a local chapter meeting in Albuquerque. That was in September of 1980. At the meeting people were invited to sign up for handicapped day at the state fair. It was the practice to recognize special groups with free admission on a designated day. On handicapped day blind people and others with disabilities could enter the fair without paying (along with their attendants) and would receive a free cheeseburger, Coke, and french fries from the Hardees hamburger restaurant for lunch. Our chapter meeting was spent signing people up for handicapped day at the fair.

I was discouraged. In that room only one blind person was employed. Many of the people in the room were in their forties or fifties, had gone to the school for the blind, yet had never worked in their adult lives. That was the condition for blind people in 1980 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. What was the need? Where and how were we to begin? Of course we had a pressing need to change the rehabilitation system, to help blind people obtain the training necessary to find work and become self-supporting; but the immediate need, the more urgent and important need, was to instill hope—the belief that we could work, could participate, could live normal, active lives.

Making such changes is not automatic and not easy. When I became blind, I believed I was destined to be helpless, dependent, and isolated. I think that is a common assumption among people as they lose sight. Most of us did not have blind role models to encourage us while growing up, the role models we find in the National Federation of the Blind. When I was a teenager losing sight and my mother and others tried to encourage me by telling me of blind people who were doing miraculous things, I was not encouraged; I was angry.

I was angry because their dramatic achievements were so at odds with my own experience of blindness. I did not feel remarkable and knew I could never do remarkable things. I concluded that the stories of extraordinary blind people must be lies: they must simply be untrue, or, if the reports were true, it must be that they had had a lot of help behind the scenes. If the stories were lies, I could not understand why anyone would want to give false hope to others—I was not encouraged—and if they were true, that meant that I must be even more inferior than I already believed because I knew in my heart that I could never be remarkable or achieve exceptional things. To be average was beyond my ability, and to be remarkable was absolutely beyond wishing, beyond yearning, beyond hope.
In 1980 what we had in our affiliate were ordinary blind people who had grown up believing that they could not participate, that they could not earn a living, and that they could not be in charge of their own lives. To begin turning this around, we had to start learning what we could do through collective action. We decided that we needed a blind person on the board of regents of the school for the blind. The school was NAC (National Accreditation Council for the Blind)-accredited and unresponsive to our views. They fought our efforts to have a blind person appointed and were successful. The school had a lot of contacts, a lot of credibility, and a lot of political support.

We failed in our efforts to get a blind person appointed, but we did not give up. We next went to the legislature asking for a bill to be introduced that would require the board of regents to include a blind person. We learned much along the way; we found that you can get just about any bill you want introduced—any bill. If you go to a local legislator and say, "You know, I think Groundhog Day is very important and is really overlooked and underappreciated," the legislator will most likely thump you on the back and say, "I share your concern, and, by golly, I will be glad to put in a bill for you making this state give Groundhog Day the respect it deserves." As I say, it is easy to get a bill introduced.

It does not mean that you can get any bill you want passed. That is a very different matter. We found a bill sponsor, and sure enough she put in a bill calling for a blind person to serve on the board of regents. She introduced our bill, but she neglected to tell us when the first hearing was scheduled. With no one there to speak for the bill and school officials quietly working behind the scenes to have it killed, the bill was tabled. Tabling a bill is a common way of killing a bill without killing it. Generally someone asks a question or offers some other reason why the committee cannot act on the bill at that time, so it is tabled for later action, but it never gets scheduled. In fact it never sees the light of day and dies.

We lost, but we did not lose all. We scared the school for the blind; we showed them we had energy and commitment, even if we lacked sophistication. They got busy and found a blind person who would be in their camp—not rock the boat, not push for meaningful change—and they got the governor to appoint him to the board. Then they could say to the legislature that there was no reason to amend state law because they already had a blind person on the board of regents. So we lost. We failed in our attempt to change the governance of the school. We should have been depressed, sad, demoralized; but of course we were not. We felt the injustice of what had happened, and it made us more resolved.

We lost in our attempt to change state law, but the experience helped to show us that blind people could take charge of our own lives, that we had power and could make a difference. Is having a blind person appointed to the board of regents of your state’s school for the blind the most pressing need in your state? I have no way to know. I do not even know if it was the most pressing need in New Mexico at that time, but it was a need that was in front of us, and it energized us and gave us focus.

We battled with the school for years, trying to get the board to drop the school’s NAC accreditation, and by so doing we strengthened the affiliate. Blind people began seeing that there was a reason for being part of the organization beyond social activities, beyond signing up for a handicapped-day activity. Yet of course we never demeaned handicapped day at the fair or the people who enjoyed it and looked forward to it. We never put it down or suggested that people who liked going were in any way deficient. We never said that it was something that hurt blind people—our public image and our self-image. Yet, as our members became more active—growing in self-respect—signing up people for handicapped day at the fair went by the way, replaced by other issues, other priorities.

In 1994 I moved from New Mexico to northern Virginia. As I prepared to move, I thought back to my first chapter meeting fourteen years earlier. Perhaps fifteen people were in attendance that day, and only one had a job. At my last chapter meeting in 1994 about seventy people were present, and everyone in the room was either working or in college—everyone! These were the same blind people who had been living in the state in 1980, people who had never worked, never believed they could work, never been encouraged to work; yet they were now working because of the National Federation of the Blind. Of course to go to college, to go to work, takes resources. We had to make changes in the rehabilitation agency system, creating a separate commission for the blind. But beyond the structure, what we really did was take our philosophy, our belief in the ability of blind people, and combined it with the resources of a state agency.

The commission for the blind provided training. It gave people the chance to learn how to travel with a white cane, to learn to read and write Braille, and to master needed technology. The commission sent people to college and helped them find jobs, but at its core the commission integrated what we believed about the abilities of blind people into its services. This is good rehabilitation; it works and the blind of the state are its beneficiaries. We believed in people. We shared the National Federation of the Blind with everyone we could find, and the commission for the blind was our ally, encouraging people and promoting high expectations, and it is still happening today.
It is happening in New Mexico, and it is happening in Iowa. It is no surprise that today the New Mexico Commission for the Blind and the Iowa Department for the Blind battle back and forth each year to see which agency will have the highest wages for its clients at closure. It is no coincidence that New Mexico (which by the way has the highest wages in the nation this year) and Iowa consistently rank at the top in real earnings for the people they serve. And that is not just when comparing them to other agencies serving the blind; that is compared to all rehabilitation agencies across the nation. Why do New Mexico and Iowa always rank at the top? Is it because New Mexico and Iowa are wealthy states with superior job opportunities? This year New Mexico is the only state in the country that places clients in jobs paying more than the state average. This is from a state that, when I was there, ranked forty-third in the nation in per capita income.

So why does the New Mexico Commission for the Blind do so well? Because of the National Federation of the Blind and integrating our philosophy into its programs. Most states are afraid to join with us openly, fearing criticism for taking sides, but the ones that do are invariably the high-performing ones. Not because they side with us against others, but because they know that the essence of good rehabilitation is high expectations, helping people learn to believe in themselves and learn that they do not have to be powerless but can be in charge of their own lives and achieve their goals and that the agency will stand with them.

We created the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. It was not easy, but we knew that it was important. We first tried in the 1970’s and were not successful. In 1985 we went back to the legislature and tried again, and again we lost, but we got closer than we ever had before. Our bill had passed the senate and had made its way through the relevant house committees. On the last day of the legislature, our bill was up for final passage in the house. Unfortunately the house and senate were battling over issues unrelated to us. As a result both the house and the senate decided not to take action on any of the remaining bills. Each side was holding the other’s bills hostage, but we did not know that. We just wanted our bill to pass. We had worked hard, and it had made its way through the senate and had been passed out by all of the house committees. All it needed was final passage. On the last day of the session, the session adjourned, and our bill died. We had lost.

On the way out I ran into the director of the state rehabilitation agency, and he was smirking. He had fought the effort to separate blind services from his agency, and he had won. A month later, when I wrote inviting him to speak to our state convention, he wrote back and said that he was too busy preparing for a special session (that had not been called) to come. In other words he felt that he did not have to be responsive to the blind of the state and wanted to make sure we knew it. We were down but not out. I called a new member, Arthur Schreiber, who had just lost his sight and who at the time was the general manager of the largest radio station in New Mexico, one of the largest in the entire Southwest. Radio may not buy ink by the barrel like newspapers, but Arthur had the loudest voice in the state, so politicians listened when he talked. I called Arthur and told him that the director of the rehabilitation agency would not come to our convention and meet with us. Arthur called the speaker of the house and asked him to meet us for lunch. We drove to Santa Fe in his company car, a Mercedes, and had lunch with the speaker of the house. The speaker had not supported our bill during the session, but when we told him of the treatment we had received from the director of the agency following our defeat—writing to say that he was too busy to meet with his constituents—the speaker began to understand just how unresponsive the agency was and why we wanted a change.

The speaker of the house offered to call the director and tell him to go to our convention and meet with us. I should have let him make the call, but I was stunned; it was the day before our convention, and I was not expecting the speaker to offer to take such immediate action. I wasn't used to being around Arthur and getting that kind of response, so I told the speaker that calling the director was not necessary. That was a mistake. It would have shown the director that we were not going away and that we had some significant clout of our own, but I did not take the chance when it was offered. Even so, the speaker of the house became our ally and helped us the following year.

Other things happened to help win us additional supporters. On the last day of the session we were sitting in the first row of the gallery, looking down on the house floor. We wanted to be visible. We had our canes propped against our shoulders, where they could be seen. Our senate sponsor was in the room, talking with other legislators. Another legislator came up to him and said, "I think I'll get on the microphone and ask everybody who supports the commission for the blind bill to stand up and take one step forward." This legislator must have thought asking blind people to take a step forward from the front row of the balcony was a great joke, but our bill sponsor did not think it was funny. From that moment it became personal and the next year he worked even harder for us.

We had no high-priced lobbyists. We had only ourselves and our dreams. We had people who believed that they could take charge of their own lives, people who wanted to be employed and to have the chance to be productive. The next year, 1986, we went back to the legislature, and this time we were successful in passing the bill to create the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. We made a difference. We reshaped services for the blind in the state. We created the opportunity for blind people to get the training and services they needed to go to work, but the most important thing was that it showed us, the blind of the state, that we could take charge of our own lives, that we did not need to live in dependency and poverty, that by standing together we could forge our own destiny.

One of our members who testified at a legislative hearing was a woman who worked in the sheltered workshop. During her testimony she held up her most recent paycheck. For two weeks of work she had earned only $5.27. Her story was powerful. It made a difference to the members of the legislature present in the room that day, but it also made a difference to her. Working in a sheltered workshop making $5.27 for two weeks work does not instill confidence; it does not help you believe that you are in charge of your own life; it does not encourage you to feel like a normal, capable, productive individual. But when she spoke to the legislature and talked of the injustice she and other blind people faced, her testimony helped us pass our bill, and it gave her strength to stand up for herself and others.

What we must do as affiliate presidents is to look at conditions in our states and see what needs to be done. Perhaps you live in a state with a strong affiliate. If so, you have an advantage, a head start. But whether your affiliate is mature or fledgling, the same need exists. We must focus our members on working to improve our collective lot, our collective opportunity. This will change your state, and in the process it will change us: it will give us new strength and confidence.

This morning Mrs. Jernigan spoke about how Dr. Jernigan felt when he walked into the convention hall—the uplift of spirit and the sense of excitement and hope. I share the same feeling. The convention is powerful. We receive a wealth of information, but it is being in a room with three thousand of my brothers and sisters, being where people believe that blindness does not mean inferiority, does not mean helplessness, that makes the difference in my life. It is rejuvenating, and I believe it is something that every blind person needs.
When we try to recruit new members, what can we do to bring them in and make them a part of our movement? First we must be respectful of where they are—whether confident and accomplished or fearful and isolated. Next we must channel their interests and encourage them to be involved. We must put them to work to show them that through our collective labor we can be in charge of our own lives, our own destinies.

In Virginia we recently started a new parents division. We have not had one for some time and needed to get it going again. Last fall we held a seminar for parents of blind children. We will hold a second one this spring in another part of the state. Next month we will have a membership drive in Charlottesville. If we are able to recruit new members, capture their interest, capture their imagination and commitment, we will be stronger as an affiliate; and they will be stronger as individuals. We are not selling snake oil. This is serious work. We are offering people something that they personally and urgently need. So where should we concentrate our energy? The national level? Absolutely. The affiliate level? Absolutely. The local level? Absolutely. At all levels of our organization, local, state, and national. If we have strong chapters, we will have a strong affiliate. And if we have strong affiliates, we will have a strong and dynamic national organization.

As in open systems theory we have the choice to live or die, to grow and expand or to fade away, to stave off entropy through negative entropy or to give up. If we are not growing, we are dying. We must continuously look for ways to find blind people, to focus their energy and ability, their time, their money, and their imagination in support of an overarching, fundamental belief in our basic equality. When I joined the Federation, I found blind people whom I could admire, blind people who were living active, productive lives, blind people doing interesting things and doing them without fear and without reservation. When Dr. Maurer takes the gavel and conducts our convention, he is a living testament to what we believe: that we can be in charge of our own destiny through our collective work. He gives us confidence and perspective, and by extension, through his personal dignity he gives us dignity. Before finding the Federation, I could not have believed that I could live a dignified life, full of challenges and rewards.

This is who and what we are. We work hard to expand opportunities for blind people. We may work to have a blind person appointed to the board of regents of the state’s school for the blind, we may work to restructure rehabilitation services, we may work to start or rebuild a parents division, we may work on outreach to blind people who need us and who do not know about us, but whatever the activity, the bedrock of what we do is to help blind people develop a belief in our basic equality and over time help that belief mature into knowledge. We must teach through action. What we say about blindness is true. As we do more and touch the lives of more people, we are made stronger as an organization, and our members are made stronger as individuals. This is our mission. This is our responsibility and challenge. Alone we have only ourselves; together we have the power to change our lives. Alone we are vulnerable to entropy—to the death of spirit; together our future is bright. This is the National Federation of the Blind—the promise of real equality—equality not just as hope or even belief, but as certainty, as knowledge.

 

No Boundaries

by Fredric K. Schroeder

From the Editor: Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) is a thoroughly modern industries and rehabilitation program. Its associates and students understand that nothing but their best efforts will do in a competitive world, but BISM programs are also undergirded by idealism and dedication to high expectations and helping everyone to meet or exceed those expectations.

BISM President Fred Puente’s voice resonates with conviction and passion when he talks about the organization’s mission. With pride he explains that no one at BISM earns less than $7 an hour, and many earn a good deal more. Last year the bonus for associates was $1.24 an hour. Moreover, associates can count on being paid for forty hours of work a week. If they are sick or need to leave to see a child’s teacher, for example, their pay will not be docked unless they begin to abuse the system. As long as they discuss the problem with a supervisor, their colleagues will scramble to cover for their absence.

In 2006 Puente expects BISM to do at least $60 million in sales, and it could be a whole lot more. That’s why BISM is looking for blind people interested in relocating to become BISM associates. He says, “We are always looking for talented, capable, committed people who want to become part of this process.” He goes on to explain that those BISM has hired through the years have all either worked for BISM or with it. The first group see themselves as employees only; they don’t stay. The second group quickly become associates, and BISM is eager to identify and hire forty more of them. Fred Puente encourages anyone seriously interested in discussing becoming a BISM associate to call Elisa Lebowitz, BISM director of human resources, at (888) 322-4567 to see what can be worked out.

The following article appeared in the July 2005 issue of US Business Review. Here it is:

Blind Industries and Services of Maryland is built on a belief in the capabilities of blind people, explains President Fred Puente. He works with “some of the most dedicated, committed, caring people” that he has ever known, he says. Many of them also happen to be blind, but that’s no reflection on their capabilities. He is president of Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM), which produces office paper products, janitorial supplies, and cut and sewn products such as United States Army physical fitness uniforms. It also performs assembly and packaging. Most important, BISM offers those with blindness or impaired vision a source of employment and independence, he states.

“There is no question that, when you feel you have impact on somebody’s life, there is no greater satisfaction or better reward, in my opinion,” he says. “We give people the opportunity to become independent and successful individuals.”

BISM also offers employment services, training, and rehabilitation. It is accredited by the Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Rehabilitation Services. “We have, in my opinion, the finest rehab staff in the country,” Puente says.

BISM participates in the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) program and makes Skilcraft products. Federal JWOD legislation requires government agencies to purchase products from nonprofit organizations that employ blind and severely disabled people. “I believe when the government—be it the federal, state, or local—invests in the training of a blind person, that entity gets back five to six times its investment from the blind individual,” he states. “When properly trained, they are gainfully employed, pay income taxes and sales tax on purchases, and are not a drain on resources, and benefit the community we live in.”

At BISM, “people are part of the process, and we involve them in the process,” he adds. “There is no top-down management; the least important position at Blind Industries is mine. We’ve tried to create an environment where associates feel they have impact and in fact do have impact on the process and the organization. What underlies the success of everything is the unquestioned belief in the capabilities of people who are blind. Anytime we’ve ever taken anyone on a tour of any of our facilities, their perception of blindness has dramatically changed.”

Associates play a major role in the business and how it is run. Puente says anyone can come into his office with an issue or compliment, and they will get answers. People aren’t afraid to speak up when they spot issues because they don’t have to worry about losing their income, he says. BISM has a wage continuation program. “All associates have income guaranteed to them,” he says. “They get a check for forty hours, whether they are at work or not. It allows people to know that they do have an impact and that we care about them. We don’t want anybody to not do something because of fear of losing income.”

The company is also flexible if employees have appointments or activities they have to attend. “Our commitment is unmatched here, and it works both ways—the company’s commitment to us as associates and our commitment to the company, which all reflects to the customer,” he states. “We write policies at Blind Industries for performers, not problems. We don’t measure absenteeism; we measure attendance.”

BISM’s monthly attendance rate exceeds 96.5 percent at its lowest, Puente notes. “I can tell you from my experience in private industry, if I had had 96.5, I’d be tickled to death,” he says. “But our requirement is 100 percent attendance. We want every one here. We need them here.”

With the help of associates, BISM has adapted to changes in its marketplace, Puente notes. “We’ve had to develop a much more customer-oriented philosophy,” he says. “We’ve had to deal with next-day shipments, just-in-time inventory management—we are constantly accelerating the process wherever possible. We’ve looked to improve equipment and processes and cross-train everyone here. It’s automated where possible without the loss of jobs. The whole purpose is to create jobs, but in some places we have to automate just to compete and create opportunities. Our [return on investment] at Blind Industries is the number of jobs we can create that allow blind individuals to be independent, self-supporting, satisfied, tax-paying American citizens.”

Puente encourages companies to call him with any questions or ideas about working with his company or blind individuals in general, and to visit BISM. “We would hope someday we are part of a process where blindness is not an impediment to someone being gainfully employed,” he says.

He has a message for potential customers. “Give us the opportunity to fail. If we do, we’ll turn tail and run, and I have to tell you we don’t own running shoes.”

Sidebar: Profile
Blind Industries and Services of Maryland
<www.bism.com>
2005 sales: $72 million
Headquarters: Baltimore
Employees: 460
Products: office, janitorial, cut and sewn products

 

The Radiator, the Washing Machine, and the Gas Pump

by Robert Moore

From the Editor: Bob Moore and his wife live in a rural area outside of Rochester, Minnesota. He works at home as an appointment scheduler, but he finds time to make home repairs and keep the couple’s car running smoothly.

He recently mentioned car repairs on an NFB listserv, so I asked him to recount some of his war stories as an inspiration to other blind people who might be a bit nervous about tackling the kinds of repair jobs Bob takes in his stride. When I asked what kind of car repairs he has undertaken, this is the list he reeled off: replaced front brake pads; changed oil, timing belt, and radiator; and installed radio, brake master cylinder, windshield wiper motor, power steering pump, alternator, starter, belts, hoses, spark plugs and plug wires, distributor cap and rotor, throttle body base gasket, and batteries (every winter). Reading through that list persuades me that he probably even understands the guys on Car Talk. This is what he says:

As far back as I can remember, I loved to take things apart and figure out how they work. I took small engine classes in high school and went on to Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind to earn certification in small engine repair.

Although I didn’t manage to make a career in the field, I never lost my passion for mechanics in general. My wife and I got married in the summer of 1992. At that time I had very little experience with auto repair, but I figured that, if I could learn to fix small engine equipment, I could learn to do basic auto repair. I concluded very quickly over time that the price of not learning and having to pay someone big money every time the car broke down or needed basic maintenance was more than I was willing to pay.

However, to this day I would rather leave some things to the professionals, even though I am sure that I could learn to do them. To my mind the care needed and the risk involved are not worth the savings. One such thing is replacing gaskets that require applying sealer. I worry about getting some of the gasket sealer in the oil or antifreeze. Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying it cannot be done safely and properly. It just isn’t worth the time to me because it needs to be done so seldom.

My wife drives, so, in financial self-defense and a love for tinkering with things, I have learned how to do most basic car repairs myself. I am not a trained mechanic, but I have become pretty good at it.

One day I was standing around the shop with the guys, and I mentioned having changed the radiator on my wife's car. Her brother told me that I could not change a radiator on a car because “you have to see what you are doing.” I told him that I knew I could because I had just done it. He still did not believe me and asked, “How can you do that if you can't see?”

I simply held up my hands in front of him, said, “I have 20/20 vision right here,” and explained that I do it all by touch. He continued to maintain that I was lying, so I let it go.

Knowing what a smart alec her brother is, my wife had a better answer. I wish I had thought of it. Here is what she would have said: “Well first I drained the radiator, then I unplugged the fan and removed it, then I took off the hoses and transmission lines and removed all the bolts. Finally I removed the radiator. How would you have done it?”

I am always astounded that people who work on cars for a living do not understand how a blind person can work on cars. After all, when mechanics work on cars, they often cannot see what they are doing because what they are working on is tucked behind some other part, and they have to get their hands in there and feel what they are doing.

The first time it occurred to my wife that I do not use the little bit of sight I have while working on a car was when I was changing a timing belt outside on a friend’s car. It started to get dark, and my wife came out and said, “Why don’t you come in now?” I said that I wanted to finish up since I was almost done. She said, “But it’s getting dark.”

I said, “That doesn’t bother me; does it bother you?” To this day she still chuckles at that answer.

Another memorable time we took a trip to visit her parents. Her dad, her brother-in-law, and I were working on the car. Her dad and her brother-in-law were trying in vain to locate the one bolt that was keeping the bracket we needed to move from budging. I said, “Let me get in there and find it for you.” Since I was blind, they were not going to have any of that. Then came the moment of truth (or maybe opportunity). They both went into the garage at the same time to chase a wrench. I climbed under the car, and when they got back, I had identified the bolt and was able to point it out to them.

I have also tackled other mechanical projects such as washers and dryers. We had a washing machine that was leaking, actually dumping water out the bottom. This called for drastic measures, and fast. Without thinking twice, I took the top completely off and pulled the drum out into the middle of the floor. By the time my wife arrived home, I had the washer fixed. I explained exactly what I had done, and she assured me that she was glad it was fixed and very glad that she did not have to see the machine all over the floor. She has since become completely comfortable with my working on the car and doing some appliance repairs and other small repairs around the house.

Now carpentry is another matter…. I would like to learn some basic carpentry, but most of it I will leave to the pros. I know lots of blind people do carpentry, but it’s just not my thing.

But here is one last subject that I do feel pretty strongly about. When I am with my wife in the car and it is time to fill the tank, I always get out and fill it for her. So, to all you blind men who think that, just because you don’t drive, you don’t have to fill the tank, I say, be good to your wives. Get out and fill the tank. True, gas pumps today are not blind-friendly, but that’s okay. Have her make the appropriate selections on the screen, such as grade and payment type. Then she can climb back into the warm car while you fill it.

 

Convention, Freedom, and the Fourth of July

by Rebekah Jakeman

From the Editor: Explaining the transformation one has undergone when experiencing the Federation’s message for the first time challenges and frustrates many of us. We recognize the importance of communicating what has happened to us to those we love and who love and respect us. But how does one find the words to express the dawning of hope and the expansion of expectations when until now blindness has destroyed both hope and expectation?

Rebekah Jakeman lives with her law-student husband Dave and their two young children in Provo, Utah. Though she has been legally blind for many years, she mostly depended on her vision until five years ago. Then she suddenly lost her remaining sight and plunged into insecurity and self-doubt. This much Rebekah’s family has known, but she wanted to communicate to them what happened to her when she met the National Federation of the Blind. This is the letter she wrote to her family when she returned home from the 2005 NFB convention. Perhaps it will help others to find the words to tell their own stories to their loved ones. This is what she wrote:

Dear Family,

Happy belated Fourth of July. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I thought I would take just a few moments to tell you what the Fourth of July has come to mean to me. Freedom is such an abstract word, but to me it can be symbolized in just three words: long white cane. Let me explain.

Two years ago found me extremely frustrated and depressed. I had spent six months slowly figuring out that the blindness training and skills I had received were not going to do me any good. My Braille speed was slow; I was very embarrassed to read aloud in front of people. I rarely used my cane, so I didn’t really know how to use it. After completing my training—now remember this means I had graduated and was supposed to be independent—I had to have my instructor come down from Salt Lake City to show me how to get to the dumpsters from my front door—about fifty yards away. He also had to show me how to get to the Y Mount [married student housing] office so that I could pay our rent. Whenever possible, I would just fold up my cane and hide it. I would gladly take someone’s arm rather than using my cane because somehow that made me feel as if I was less blind.

Looking back, it is easy to see that I was not completely comfortable with myself as a blind person. During this time I applied for several jobs. I wanted to get a job so I could support Dave through school. Every other wife seemed to do it; why couldn’t I? But one job after another fell through. To say the least, it was humiliating. Here I was supposed to be independent and a help to Dave, but I wasn’t. Once, after an interview, the employer came out of her office, and instead of turning to me and saying, “I’ll get back to you,” she turned to Dave and said, “I’ll get back to her, and we’ll see what we have open for her to do.” I felt about two years old. The employer wasn’t sure how to respond to a blind applicant, and I was unsure how to educate her about blind people. But I knew one thing for sure; I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life embarrassed about who I was.

Things turned around one day when I received a phone call from Norm Gardner. He told me that he was the president of the local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. He and the chapter were inviting me to attend their national convention in Louisville, Kentucky—all expenses paid. My first thought was: free trip! I had no idea what I would do for a week with a bunch of blind people, but I love traveling, so I was game.

The convention was the week of July 4. Dave and I were welcomed with open arms by the Utah affiliate. I wasn’t confident using my cane, but I felt obligated to use it since I was at a blind convention. Dave noticed that the majority of the crowd were using long white canes. He attempted to show me their technique, so I could use it with my fold-up cane. I assured him that there were different kinds of canes and that it didn’t really matter what kind I used.

One night hit me particularly hard as I attended a play put on by the Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB). I was fascinated with the script: blind actors—what a novel idea that was to me. The play was about a girl who lost her vision and how her family rallied around her while some of her friends abandoned her. I remember thinking how lucky the LCB students were to act in a play. It brought back memories of my acting days. But those days were gone and with them the hope of ever acting on stage again.

Through the week, though, things began to unravel. I had been told by my professional cane-travel instructor that I probably should not wear flip-flops when using my cane, yet at convention I saw lots of people wearing flip-flops. I had been told all my life that Braille was slow and hard to learn and that it wasn’t necessary to know until I was totally blind, yet all week I saw professional people delivering powerful speeches that they read in Braille. I met blind lawyers, teachers, parents—all confident, competent, and able. Slowly the you’re-not-good-enough labels I had been stamping myself with were slipping away. I could be a good Braille reader. I could be a competent mother.

But what about the travel? My rehab counselor had told me that, with all the travel training I had had, I should be a good traveler. So if I wasn’t, I never would be. He actually said it more kindly than that, but the message tore me up inside. How am I supposed to be a mother if I can’t even cross the street. Weeks earlier he and I had stood at the corner of 9th East, where the old Kent’s Market used to be. I stood traumatized. I waited light cycle after light cycle, realizing that determining when to step off the curb and into the road could be a life or death decision. Finally my instructor had to tell me when to cross, and he crossed right behind me. From that experience it was easy for me to conclude that I really couldn’t travel with a cane. He was right; I would never be able to travel. The only choice I had was to use a sighted guide. That’s fine if someone is already going to the same destination, but what if no one is?

Back to convention week two years ago. On the last night a bunch of us went to the river bank behind the hotel to watch the fireworks display over the Ohio River. There I asked Ron Gardner, Norm’s brother, about the long white canes I saw people using. Was it possible for a blind person with two hearing aids to travel? I told him of my dreams to live abroad. Was it possible for a blind person to travel abroad? He assured me that it was and pointed out his two hearing aids. He had traveled to Africa, Australia, South America, etc. I was amazed. I started to cry. Maybe I wouldn’t have to be stuck at home for the rest of my life. He referred me to Nick Schmittroth, who came up to us right then. He was a long white cane travel instructor who had just been hired in Utah, and right then and there Nick handed me my first long white cane; he actually gave me his, with the comment that he had an extra back in his hotel room. It was light, easy to use, and quite long. He explained that, when the cane is longer, it allows one to walk faster. The cane tip is a couple of paces ahead of you and gives you enough time to react to steps, bumps, or curbs. So as fireworks burst in the sky behind me, I was given a quick lesson in confidence and cane use.

Now, just two years later, I have returned to Louisville, Kentucky, for my third national NFB convention. Because of all the craziness around here, I went to convention without Dave and the kids. I flew with three other blind friends. You can only imagine some of the reactions we got. The first day was a little unsettling since major reconstruction had been done on the hotel, and I had to relearn where everything was. But it didn’t take long to figure out where things were by using my cane and getting good directions. By the second day I was going out around the hotel getting to where I needed to go. In the NFB we define independence as going where you want to go, when you want to go, with the least inconvenience to you or others. This ideal is not always possible for either blind or sighted people. Sometimes a blind person has to use a sighted guide and at other times a cane. The point is, though, that the blind person gets to choose. If one doesn’t have the skills, he or she is forced to use sighted guides all the time, and often that is inconvenient for others. Example: before I had cane training I would take Dave’s arm to travel everywhere. But if I had to use the restroom, Dave obviously couldn’t come in with me. So we would have to wait until a woman walked past on her way to the rest room and ask her to assist me. Obviously this was not a very efficient method. Now I am pleased to announce that with my cane skills I can go into a restroom when I want or need to without waiting for others.

At this convention I felt completely independent. I would leave my room cane in hand and head to the meeting-room floors. I would ask where a particular room was and be off. I even went outside, traveling around downtown Louisville alone or with friends. It was the first time as a blind person that I was able to go where I wanted, when I wanted—I finally felt free. Then, on July the Fourth, I stood on the stage and acted in the LCB play. Ironically, I played the part of a cane-travel instructor who did not believe long white canes were necessary or effective. One of my lines was, “I spent four to five weeks teaching my students sighted-guide techniques.” At the end of the play my character had a change of heart and used a long white cane because, “I should be able to do what I expect my students to do.” The entire audience burst into applause when they discovered my character had decided to use a long white cane. In that moment I felt that some of the applause was for me too. I had finally learned the glorious blessings of traveling with a cane. My Heavenly Father had blessed me to come further than I ever thought possible.

After the play I stood on the bank of the Ohio River with some friends to watch the fireworks. Among these was Ron Gardner, who had told me just two years earlier that it was possible for a blind person to travel. For me this was the biggest celebration of freedom because I no longer needed to trust someone else’s assessment that I could or couldn’t travel with a cane. I knew from my own experience that I can travel. To me that is what freedom is: finding happiness and success in believing in yourself. God has given me the gift of a long white cane and the NFB. The Fourth of July will always be a very special holiday for me. It was the day I was given my life back and the day I was given my mental freedom to believe the impossible.

Love you all,
Rebekah

 

Texas Calling

by Elizabeth Campbell

From the Editor: This year’s convention promises something for everyone. In the following article Liz Campbell, president of the Ft. Worth Chapter, throws out a few more hints about places to go and things to see. This is what she says:

“Howdy, folks!” That’s the greeting of the famous cowboy, Big Tex, who welcomes visitors to the Texas State Fair each year. The Texas affiliate wants to welcome everyone to the biggest and best convention ever. I wanted to give you some idea of our wonderful headquarters hotel as well as notions of things to do outside meetings and general sessions. The Hilton Anatole promises to be a fantastic hotel for our meetings and just for having fun. It offers something for everyone, from a luxurious spa and fitness center to a disco. Art lovers will enjoy the many bronze sculptures and porcelain pieces, including many from Asia, collected by the hotel’s owner, Trammell Crow. Take special note of the two elephants made of monkey wood that stand guard near the Chantilly Ballroom, where our general sessions will take place. The elephants were placed in the Anatole to welcome the 1984 Republican national convention to Dallas.

After you’ve settled into your room, take time to explore the Hilton Anatole, because there is lots of ground to cover, literally. This article is not meant to be a definitive guide to the hotel, but here are some helpful hints. The Anatole is divided into several areas, including the eleven-story atrium and the tower. The atrium houses several restaurants, shops, and guest rooms. One of the shops is Collages, a gift shop with lots of Texas souvenirs. The Terrace restaurant, with a casual dining atmosphere, is also located in the atrium area.

The tower area, which also houses the Gossip Bar, the business center, and more guest rooms, is where our general sessions and many other meetings and seminars will be located. In true Texas fashion the doors to the Chantilly Ballroom are large enough for an eighteen-wheeler to drive through.

Let’s move on from the Anatole to other points of interest since you will want to take a break or two during the busy week. By now you should be making plans to participate in the many tours that our affiliate has scheduled. The tours criss-cross an area known as the Metroplex. Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington are the three major cities, each having its unique charm and style. North Texas is one of the fastest growing areas in the United States, and around 5.7 million people call Dallas/Fort Worth home

In Dallas you will find lively night life, along with shopping and restaurants to suit any taste and price range. Dallas, which was an agricultural center and an important railroad stop, has a unique history. You will see some of the city’s past during tours, including the stop at the Sixth Floor Museum, the site of the Texas School Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy. In Fort Worth, which embodies the famous saying, “Where the West begins,” is a unique mix of cowboys, rodeos, art museums, and a world-renowned piano competition.

Fort Worth’s beginnings were all about cattle and railroads because the city was the last stop along the Chisholm Trail as the cowboys drove the herds north to Kansas City. Speaking of cattle, the city owns a herd of Longhorns that are driven daily from the stockyards south to the Trinity River. The two cities, Fort Worth and Dallas, about thirty miles apart, have always been rivals. Legend has it that Amon Carter Sr., a former publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper, refused to eat lunch in Dallas.

If you plan on sticking close to the hotel, Dallas offers great entertainment areas, including Greenville Avenue, the West End, and Deep Elum. For more details on these places, call the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, (214) 571-1300.

If you feel like venturing out of Dallas, head for Union Station and take the Trinity Railway Express to Fort Worth. The train stops at the Intermodal Transportation Center, on the southeastern edge of downtown. From there, travel north to the historic stockyards district or head west to the Cattle Raisers Museum and the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. One of the inductees is retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Other places to unwind include the Fort Worth Zoo and the Botanic Gardens. For more information call the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau at (817) 336-8791.

Another large city, Arlington, sits between Dallas and Fort Worth. The future home of the Dallas Cowboys, Arlington is the home of amusement parks with Six Flags Over Texas and a water park called Wet & Wild. For more information, call the Arlington Visitors Bureau at (817) 265-7721.

Now that you are making plans to spend time in Texas, here are a few useful things to know. The popular soft drink, Dr. Pepper, was invented in Waco in 1885, and the original formula is still made in Dublin, Texas. Rodeo is the official state sport of Texas, but high school football is more popular. Seventy-five percent of the Snickers bars in the world are made at the M&M Mars company in Waco. Finally, did you know it’s illegal to write graffiti on someone else’s cow?

source: <www.legendsofamerica.com>

 

A Breakfast Moment

by Mark Taylor

From the Editor: Mark Taylor has lived in California for twenty years, though he was born in Kentucky. He owns a small business, is a professional musician, and serves as a city commissioner in Redondo Beach. He also sits on the city’s Handicap Appeals Board.

Though the following article is written as fiction, Mr. Taylor says that everything but the ending is autobiographical fact. He has told the story through the years but decided that the time had come to put it on paper. Sadly, his story is not unique, but perhaps it may help other families understand the impact of thoughtless cruelty on a blind child. Here it is:

“No, Mama!” the teary-eyed seven-year-old boy cries as his mother’s closed fist jets through the air towards him. “No!” She strikes his face hard, and he crashes backward into the wall.

“I’m sick of you,” she yells at the half-dazed child lying on the floor. “I’m so tired of having to watch you all the time because you can’t see. Why did you have to be born blind? What did I do to deserve this?”

She walks over to him. Sensing her approach, he instinctively raises his hands to defend against another blow. With desperation in his voice, her child pleads, “But I can see, Mama, just not as good as everybody else—I really can.”

His words make her stop, unclench her fists, and think about what she is doing. She looks down at her baby boy and sees fear—the fear she has caused—reflected in his face. She kneels down, gently pulls him up towards her, and holds him. They cry together. She says, sobbing, “I know you can see a little, but it’s not enough. You keep bumping into things, hurting yourself, and breaking stuff. I get so tired. Sometimes I wish you had never been born. At least then you wouldn’t suffer so, and I wouldn’t have to see you suffer.”
Still crying, the boy pulls back from her saying, “But Mama, I’m not suffering. My eyes don’t hurt unless you hit me. I’m sorry I knocked over the coffee table again. I won’t do it anymore.”

Hello, God. I am sorry for not talking to you lately, but I’ve been so sad. I guess you already know I made Mama mad today when I knocked over a plant in the living room. I didn’t mean to do it. She keeps it so dark in there, and she’s always moving things around. I try to remember where everything is, but sometimes I forget when I’m running. I can see, though, I really can. I just can’t see as well as my brother and everybody else.

Please forgive me for making Mama mad today. Forgive her for hitting me. She doesn’t want to be so mean; she’s just mad at me for being blind. But I’m not really blind; I can see—just not as good as—well, you know.

I’ve been sad, God, because lately the kids in the neighborhood have been picking on me. You know, they throw rocks and hit me in the head, then they run just far enough away so I can’t see them. It’s not fair, God; it’s so not fair. Why can’t I see like everybody else, Lord? They say in church that you love everyone, but if that’s true, why don’t you let me see good? Don’t you love me like you love everyone else?

My brother runs away with the other kids, and when I ask him to tell me who threw the rocks, he won’t. I know it’s wrong to hate anybody, but sometimes I really hate my mother and my brother. She likes him better than me. She tells me that all the time. If I could see better, I would run away from this place.

She says it’s my fault that my father left. She says he blames her for giving birth to a “blind mutant.” What’s a blind mutant, Lord? Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, I guess I’m it. She says that I ruined her life and the life of my brother. Please forgive me for doing that, Lord, please. I didn’t mean to be born blind.

I wish my grandmother was still here. Why did you take her away? Is she happy now? If you don’t understand everything I’m saying, just ask her to explain it to you. She really understands. She knows I can see, but just not as well as everybody else. Tell her I said “hey.”

Tomorrow my aunts and cousins are coming to visit for a couple of days. I don’t like it when they’re here. Everybody always treats me like I’m stupid just because I can’t see well. I’ll be glad when they leave.

I love you, Lord. Goodnight. Amen.

“Okay,” his mother says, seating herself at the breakfast table, “everybody dig in.”

The boy, his mother, his ten-year-old brother, his mother’s two sisters, and his four cousins are sitting at a mahogany table in their cozy, low-ceilinged kitchen. He and the other five children are wearing superhero pajamas. The three women wear simple dresses.
His mother’s older sister, whom he thinks of as “Big Aunt” because of her huge, mushy tummy, asks, “Who wants eggs?”

“I do,” he says eagerly lifting his plate towards her voice.

“Put that plate down, Boy,” his mother commands impatiently. “The last thing I need is to have to clean up something you knock over.” His cousins giggle. He immediately lowers his plate to the table, his appetite and enthusiasm for both the meal and his relatives draining away.

His mother’s younger sister, whom he thinks of as “Snooty Aunt” because of her incessant bragging about her husband and two little girls, her house, her gardener, her car, her jewelry, her clothes, her looks, her friends, her regularity, and anything else she can lay claim to says to him, “Just wait. We’ll get to you. Sit there and be still.”

The country-style kitchen is bathed in morning sunlight from the windows on either side of the table. At one end stands a vintage refrigerator and a large single sink. At the other end of the room stands a much-used four-burner gas stove beside a tall, glass-paneled china cabinet. The room is filled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Big Aunt begins ladling out mounds of hot scrambled eggs to his cousins, who to his and his brother’s disappointment are all girls. One of his cousins says, “Can someone pass the bacon?”

The plate of bacon begins its journey around the table. As it moves from person to person, its delicious cargo is reduced by two and three pieces at a time. As it approaches him, he raises his hand uncertainly to take a piece, but noticing this, his mother raises the plate and passes it to his brother instead. His mother says to his aunts, “He’s always trying to do things he can’t see well enough to do, and he’s always knocking things over.”

His youngest cousin, who is four, says to her mother, “That’s because he’s blinder than a bat, right, Mommy?”

Everyone, including the adults, laughs. Well, not everyone; the embarrassed and hurt little boy doesn’t laugh; no, he doesn’t laugh at all.

“There,” his mother says, setting his plate of bacon and eggs down in front of him. “Now try not to make a mess.” He picks up his fork and knife and slowly begins to eat his breakfast.

“Anyway,” Snooty Aunt says to his mother while putting a bite in her mouth, “you can see why I married a good, hardworking, educated man.” His mother lowers her head in shame.

“It’s not her fault,” Big Aunt chimes in, “she always did make dumb choices and pick losers, even when we were kids. Remember?”
Everyone is eating now, and except for the voice of each speaker, the boy hears only the sounds of utensils scraping against the thick, long-used plates. “Yeah,” Snooty Aunt replies. “Remember that time when she tried to cheat on the reading test in school? She copied the answers from the dumbest girl in class.” His cousins and brother laugh.

His four-year-old cousin asks innocently, “Mommy, when are we going to the zoo so I can see what a black sheep looks like?”
Big Aunt looks at her sharply and snaps, “Be quiet.”

“But Mommy,” the little one says, confused, “you said she’s the black sheep of the family, didn’t you?”

Six junior-size hands reach out to pick up six jelly jars of orange juice and tip them back towards six open mouths. After returning his glass to the table, his brother says, “Hey, where’s the toast?”

The rest of the children echo in unison, “Hey yeah.”

Seizing the opportunity to remove herself from her sisters’ little stroll down memory lane, his mother quickly walks over to begin dropping slices of bread into the toaster. Looking back at her older son, she says, “Get the jelly out of the refrigerator,” and he does.
Returning to the breakfast table, his mother sets a plate of hot toast beside two jars of jelly. Sitting back down next to him, she says, “Who wants strawberry jelly on their toast?” It’s my favorite.”

Big Aunt answers, “I’ll take the grape. I can’t stand that strawberry stuff you buy.” His cousins declare in humorous staccato, “Me too.”

Snooty Aunt says to his mother, “You never did have good taste in anything. Do you really like that strawberry stuff? Here, let me do that.” She takes the knife his mother was about to use, opens the jar of grape jelly, and begins spreading it on a slice of toast.

He can feel his mother’s embarrassment and uneasiness returning. She wants to say something in her own defense, but as always when dealing with her sisters, she does not. Snooty Aunt looks at his brother and says, “Ok, it’s your turn, my handsome, young nephew.

Which one do you want: the strawberry or the grape?”

His brother responds without hesitation, “The grape please. I don’t like the strawberry either.”

Finally, after taking care of everyone else, she looks at him and says triumphantly, “Ok, let’s see which one our little blind man will choose. Which one would you like? There are two jars of jelly in front of you. One is strawberry, and the other is grape. So which one will it be?”

Like everyone else but his mother, he hates strawberry jelly. Like everyone else he wants grape jelly. Unlike anyone else at the table, however, this belittled, berated and unwanted seven-year-old, visually impaired child can feel his mother’s pain; in that moment, that one incredible breakfast moment, he feels sorry for her and loves her.

After a pause he says with absolute confidence, “I want the strawberry jelly. I can’t stand that grape stuff. It’s disgusting. Once it even made me sick at my tummy. My mom knows what’s best, and she and I always eat the best, and the best is strawberry, not grape.” Snooty Aunt’s mouth falls open. His mother, for almost the first time since his birth, takes his hand and doesn’t let go.

No one else ever understood what happened in that moment, that breakfast moment, as he came to think of it—no one but him and his mother. Even now, when he sits in his soft leather executive chair at the headquarters of the company he built, he finds himself thinking about it from time to time. No matter how many years go by, he remembers that breakfast moment and asks himself why, after all the cruel things she’d done to him when he’d needed her the most, he had sided with her.

“Because that’s the way love goes,” he whispers.

“Sir?” his executive secretary asks as she guides him through a dimly lighted five-star hotel lobby on the way to a meeting with his board of directors. “What did you say?”

“Oh nothing,” he says with a sigh, “I was just thinking about something that happened many years ago.”

 

2006 Convention Attractions

by Mark Taylor

From the Editor: Every year’s national convention is an absolutely unique event. The agenda items, the exhibits, the new friends and business acquaintances: all these give each convention its own character and significance. Some activities lend a luster to the convention in part because they do take place every year and provide helpful fixed points in the whirl of events. In this category are the meetings of the Resolutions Committee and the board of directors, the annual banquet, and the many seminars and workshops of the various divisions and committees. Here is a partial list of activities being planned by a number of Federation groups during the 2006 convention, July 1 through July 7. Presidents of divisions, committee chairpeople, and event presenters have provided the information. The agenda will list the locations of all events taking place during convention week.

Access Technology Day at National Convention
by Steve Booth

This year our technology day conducted by the International Braille and Technology Center staff is Saturday, July 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We are offering four sessions covering a wide variety of topics that have been of interest to our members this last year. We have both high-tech and low-tech offerings, so something is bound to please almost everyone. Our first morning session explores the world of PDAs. Find out what all the talk is about and how these personal data assistants may work best for you. The second morning session looks at DAISY-reading hardware and software. Find out what DAISY stands for and discover how accessible it is.

In the afternoon we take a look at today's cell phones and their accessibility in 2006. Talking software for cell phones is becoming more widely available on several product brands and models. We'll tell you about some of the models to consider purchasing and how they work.

Our final session looks at the current and future state of consumer electronics. If you have shopped for appliances recently, you most likely became frustrated by all the flat screens and small visual displays in use today. Attend our session to find out which products are usable and learn about what efforts the NFB is undertaking to improve the accessibility of consumer products.

Below is the schedule of events for the day:

* Session One, 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.
Accessible PDAs (Personal Data Assistants)
* Session Two, 10:30 - 12:00 noon
DAISY hardware and software
* Session Three, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Accessible cell phones
* Session Four, 3:30 - 5:00 p.m.

The current and future state of consumer electronics

Advocacy Skills Training Seminar
by Dan Frye

An advocacy skills training seminar will be offered this year at the national convention on Wednesday evening, July 5, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. The purpose of this concentrated, fast-paced, interactive session will be to equip affiliate leaders and Federation members with basic skills they can use in many advocacy situations: offering public presentations, developing negotiation and mediation techniques, sharpening interviewing and listening skills, documenting interactions, de-escalating emotional or potentially volatile encounters, and more. In addition to surveying and practicing essential advocacy skills, we will include brief vignettes on current issues regularly faced by advocates working in the blindness field, e.g., employment discrimination, Social Security issues, challenges in special education, dog guide access, etc.

Polishing the presentations and improving the effectiveness of affiliate volunteer advocates will benefit our members, allies, and social cause. Well-trained volunteer advocates imbued with our fundamental philosophy about blindness will serve both as ambassadors for our organizational mission and in support of individual members and friends who face systemic discrimination or misunderstanding arising from blindness-related questions.

In preparing this agenda, we will survey affiliate leaders about the issues and general advocacy skills they would like to have addressed during this seminar. Please plan to join us in this first general advocacy skills workshop. Together we can create a program that offers value to both currently active and aspiring organizational advocates.

BLIND, Inc., Karaoke Night
by Shawn Mayo

Whether you are a contender to become the next American Idol, shatter the stereotype about blind people possessing great musical talent, or fall somewhere between, you'll have a great time at BLIND, Incorporated's, annual Karaoke Night on Saturday, July 1, from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Bring all your friends or come make new ones and enjoy music, door prizes, and a cash bar.

Sing solo, with a group, or just sit back and enjoy the musical stylings of your fellow Federationists. Be sure to get there early to hear NFB President Marc Maurer sing. And, if that's not enough, come find out what song the BLIND, Incorporated, staff and students will sing this year. Meet current students and alumni as they share their experiences from training.

Admission is only $5, and song lists will be available in Braille that night.

Don't miss your chance to be a rock star.

Blind Professional Journalists Group
by Elizabeth Campbell

I am pleased to announce that the Blind Professional Journalists Group will meet from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. on Monday, July 3. I am excited about meeting those of you who are interested in exploring the ever-changing journalism profession as a possible career. We welcome students as well as others who are interested in working in print or broadcast journalism.

Please consult the agenda for the meeting location. If you have questions prior to the convention, please contact me evenings at (817) 738-0350. You may also send email to <batescampbell@charter.net>.

Braille Carnival Buddies Help Needed
by Melissa Riccobono

Once again buddies are needed for the Braille Carnival at the NFB national convention. The Braille Carnival is a fun-filled opportunity to help blind and sighted children between the ages of six and eleven participate in a variety of Braille and carnival activities. If you enjoy working with children, this would be a wonderful activity for you to get involved in. You do not need to be a Braille reader in order to be a carnival buddy.

This year the format for the Braille Carnival will be a bit different. We will conduct two one-hour carnival sessions during the afternoon of Saturday, July 1. The first session will take place from 1:30 to 2:30, and the second session will follow, from 2:45 to 3:45. We prefer that you work both sessions, but if you cannot, arrangements can be made to accommodate you.

If you are interested in being a carnival buddy or if you have questions about this event, please contact Melissa Riccobono by email at <maricco@uwalumni.com>, or by phone at (410) 235-3073.

An Evening at the Colorado Center for the Blind
by Julie Deden

Take charge. Challenge yourself. Drop by the CCB open house on Wednesday, July 5, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The staff and students at the Colorado Center for the Blind invite you to discover what good training can do for you.

· Practice using a long white cane with our travel instructors.
· Meet our employment staff and take a quick career assessment survey.
· Create a piece of art with our art instructor.
· Try out a Braille puzzle.
· Learn about exciting innovations in the area of adaptive technology.
· Pick up some recipes and practice your techniques in food preparation.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, July 5, at our open house.

Colorado Center for the Blind Alumni Gathering
by Julie Deden

Reunite with your CCB friends on Tuesday, July 4, at lunchtime. We look forward to seeing you then.

Deaf-Blind Division
by Robert Eschbach

The Deaf-Blind Division will conduct two meetings during the National Federation of the Blind convention. The first meeting will be on Monday evening, July 3, beginning at 7:00 when we share information about new technology and programs of interest. The second meeting will be Wednesday evening, July 5. Registration begins at 6:00 p.m., and the business meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. Agenda items include discussion of future programming for the Deaf-Blind Division and an election for officers and board members.

If you need financial assistance to attend the convention or require interpreter services, please contact Bob Eschbach, president, (520) 836-3689 or email <rmesch@earthlink.net>. All requests must be made by May 15.

Diabetes Action Network Seminar
by Lois Williams

The Diabetes Action Network seminar will be held Monday, July 3, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The theme is "Bee Heart Smart." To help reduce the risk of heart disease and other diabetes complications, those with diabetes should be as busy as bees (physically active) and wise as owls (informed about diabetes).

Employment Committee Seminar
by Buna Dahal

Meet dynamic professionals, shake hands, and make that first connection. The NFB Employment Committee will conduct an employment seminar filled with variety on Saturday, July 1.

If you are asking, “Why should I attend the employment seminar?” these are the benefits:

* Learn how to make the jobs come to you.
* Experience the impact of an informational interview.
* Learn the value of mentoring and role modeling.
* Realize that getting a job is more than writing a resume.
* Understand the value of networking.

For more information contact Fatos Floyd at (402) 471-8120, <fatos.floyd@ncbvi.ne.gov>, or Buna Dahal at (303) 778-1130, <Bdahal@cocenter.org>.

¿Hablas Espanol?
by Rosy Carranza

On Sunday, July 2, the Department of Affiliate Action is hosting an informative and fun-filled seminar, completely in Spanish. This seminar will feature presentations from dynamic Hispanic Federationists, Latin sounds from a group of talented musicians, and much more! The seminar is geared to native Spanish speakers and will address many issues and concepts obscured by language barriers. This will be a time to learn more about the NFB and to network with others. If you are interested in helping, please contact Rosy Carranza at (410) 659-9314, ext. 2283, or by email at <rcarranza@nfb.org>.

Ham Radio Group Emergency Preparedness Seminar
by D. Curtis Willoughby

In accord with long-standing tradition, the first meeting of the 2006 convention will be the Emergency Preparedness Seminar conducted by the NFB Ham Radio Group. The seminar will be held at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 1. We will discuss frequencies to be used during the convention, especially those to be used in the event of an emergency call-out. We will also discuss those architectural features of the convention hotels and other information that NFB hams need to know if an emergency response is necessary.

Any Dallas hams willing to do a little frequency scouting before the convention are asked to contact Curtis, KA0VBA, (303) 424-7373, <ka0vba@dimensional.com>. The Ham Radio Group has a service project to serve the Federation by handling the distribution of the special FM receivers to allow hearing-impaired conventioneers to hear a signal directly from the public address system, which is much easier to understand than the sound that normal hearing aids pick up in a meeting. These same receivers are used to allow Spanish speakers who do not understand English fluently to hear a Spanish translation of the convention and the banquet.

We will take some time at the Emergency Preparedness Seminar to prepare for this project as well. It is important that all group members willing to help come to the seminar.

Ham Radio Group Annual Business Meeting

The annual business meeting of the NFB Ham Radio Group will be held at noon on Thursday, July 6.

The Human Services Division
by Melissa Riccobono

Are you a student majoring in psychology, social work, music therapy, dance therapy, addiction counseling, or a related field? Are you a professional employed in or seeking employment in one of these fields? If so, please join the National Federation of the Blind Human Services Division for our annual seminar and business meeting at this year’s national convention in Dallas. The Human Services Division will meet on Monday, July 3. Registration will begin at 1:30 p.m., and the seminar/business meeting will be held from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

The Human Services Division was formed in order to allow blind psychologists, social workers, counselors, other human service workers, and those interested in human service fields to network, ask questions, and share techniques with one another. We will discuss techniques blind human service workers use in order to get the job done.

Please join us for this informative seminar. Dues are $5. If you have any questions, please contact Melissa Riccobono, president, National Federation of the Blind Human Services Division, by phone at (410) 235-3073, or by email at <maricco@uwalumni.com>.

The Louisiana Center for the Blind Players
by Jerry Whittle

The Louisiana Center for the Blind Players presents One Woman's Treasure, an original play by Jerry Whittle. This romantic comedy takes place in Pennsylvania over a Christmas vacation. Genie Edwards must sell her family home and possessions, and the entire family works together to get the job done although most of them disagree with her about which possessions to keep. Many colorful characters come and go during their whirlwind vacation in the frozen North. All proceeds from the sale of tickets go to the summer training programs for blind children at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Admission is $5. Two performances will take place Monday evening, July 3.

Meet the Blind Month Activities and Other Special Events Seminar:
Plans and Action Equal Success

by Jerry Lazarus

Every October is Meet the Blind Month. Find out about entertaining and fun-filled events that can occur throughout October so that sighted people can meet their blind neighbors. Our seminar (3:30 to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, July 5) will include encouragement for chapters to try new types of fundraising and meet-and-greet events.

We will discuss what has worked well in the past, and have a time for questions. Conducted by Jerry Lazarus, NFB director of special projects

National Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith
by Tom Anderson

The National Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith will hold its annual meeting on Monday, July 3. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m., and the meeting will be called to order at 1:00 p.m. The theme of this year's meeting will be "Overcoming Challenges." A panel of Federationists will describe the challenges they face in achieving their goals in places of worship, and what they have done to overcome these challenges. We also plan to have an update on the publication of the book entitled Experiencing God, hear from publishers in the field of producing faith-based literature for the blind, and have a brief presidential report. A brief board meeting may be held following adjournment.

The National Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith will again coordinate the devotional services that will take place from Tuesday, July 4, through Friday, July 7. The theme of the devotional services will be "The Surrendered Life." Devotions will be held an hour before the morning session. Please contact me if you would like to preach or sing at these devotional services. My home address is 5628 South Fox Circle, Apartment A, Littleton, Colorado 80120. My home phone is (303) 794-5006. My work address is 2233 West Shepperd Avenue, Littleton, Colorado 80120, and my work phone is (303) 778-1130, ext. 220. My email address is <tanderson@cocenter.org>.

National Association of Blind Entrepreneurs
by James R. Bonerbo, CPA

The National Association of Blind Entrepreneurs announces its annual seminar, which will be held on Saturday, July 1. The meeting will start at 2:00 p.m. with registration and introductions of the participants. Topics covered will include forms of business, types of organizations, accounting policies, tax problems, and other matters relevant to the successful operation of a business.

We welcome all first-timers and veteran entrepreneurs because sharing ideas and experiences will help us all. See you in Dallas.

National Association of Blind Lawyers
by Scott LaBarre

Each year the National Association of Blind Lawyers (NABL) conducts its annual meeting at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind, and this year is no different. We will meet on July 3 at the Hilton Anatole from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., exact room to be announced. The purpose of our annual meeting and seminar is multifaceted.

We will examine emerging trends in the law that affect blind people and others with disabilities. For example, we will address the ongoing struggle to gain equal access to legal texts and access to a level playing field for legal examinations like the LSAT and bar exams. Other discrimination and civil rights cases will be reviewed. We will discuss how to practice law most effectively as a blind or visually impaired legal professional, focusing this year on the most effective technology for blind lawyers. We will address the issue of how to use readers most efficiently in light of the increasing access to printed materials made possible by assistive technology.

The EEOC will tell us how to practice most effectively in front of the Commission. Undoubtedly we will hear from the American Bar Association as well as local law schools and bar associations about their outreach efforts to blind and visually impaired students and legal professionals. Because our agenda covers substantive areas of the law and addresses the practice of law itself, many of our members have applied for and received continuing legal education credits for our seminar.

At the conclusion of the seminar we will hold a reception for NABL members and seminar participants to promote networking and fellowship within our membership. If you are a lawyer, legal professional, or law student or are otherwise interested in law, the NABL meeting in Dallas on July 3 is the place to be.

Mock Trial
by Scott LaBarre

The National Association of Blind Lawyers will sponsor its ninth annual mock trial at the 2006 NFB convention. This trial will reenact an old Federation case. Federation lawyers will be pitted against each other arguing the merits of the two positions.

Although the matter has not been firmly decided, we will very likely revisit an employment discrimination case in which an employer refused to allow a blind person to work because of the employer’s concern that the job was just too dangerous for the blind. See your favorite Federation lawyers strut their legal stuff. Stay tuned to the Presidential Release and email lists to hear more details about the case as the convention draws closer.

You, the audience, will serve as the jury. This year's trial promises to be just as entertaining and thought-provoking as past trials. A charge of $5 per person will benefit the National Association of Blind Lawyers. The trial will take place on Sunday afternoon, July 2, at 4:30 p.m., somewhere in the Hilton Anatole. Consult the convention agenda for the exact place.

National Association of Blind Merchants
by Kevan Worley

The National Association of Blind Merchants would like to thank our loyal snack pack customers over the past nine years. The snack pack has not only been a lot of fun and a great fundraiser for our division, but has also helped many conventioneers on tight budgets to snack pretty well. This year our plan is to sell our ever popular snack pack again. Only $5 will get you a grab bag of snacks, salty and sweet. So come to our table in the exhibit hall, enjoy a small cool drink, buy a raffle ticket for a chance to win $1,000, and prepare to be surprised and delighted by our latest entrepreneurial venture. I’m sure we will have something new to sell you. We are Federation merchants.

The annual meeting of the National Association of Blind Merchants will take place Monday afternoon, July 3, at 1:30 p.m. Check the convention agenda for location. This year registration for our division meeting will begin approximately thirty minutes after adjournment of the board of directors meeting. If you are involved in the Randolph-Sheppard program or operate a similar business, you won’t want to miss this merchants’ meeting. On Wednesday, July 5, from 7:00 until 8:30 p.m., we invite you to our sixth annual Randolph-Sheppard reception. Socialize, network, and learn more about Randolph-Sheppard opportunities. Check the convention agenda for location.

National Association of Blind Office Professionals
by Lisa Hall

The National Association of Blind Office Professionals will meet, with registration beginning on Saturday, July 1, at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m. Please check your convention agenda for meeting room and location or check the Web site at <www.nfb.org> before you arrive for the convention.

Who should attend? Those holding office positions such as Braille transcribers; Braille proofreaders; secretaries; telephone operators; computer instructors in a rehab, educational, or other facility; customer service representatives; medical transcribers; and many others.
As I write this notice, we have recently lost a true Federationist who was part of the NFB since 1964. Carol Clark was a former president of this division when it was called the National Association of Blind Secretaries and Transcribers. I don't know when she organized this division, however, we believe it may have been as early as the 1970's. A celebration of Carol Clark’s life and contributions will occur at our meeting.

As I write this notice, we are developing an agenda. I have been a leader of this division since 1996. I was vice president of the National Association of Blind Office Professionals from 1989 to 1996. I have always worked to keep this organization vital, provided educational opportunities at our general meetings by developing resources to use to enhance job skills in the office professions, changed the name of our organization to reflect the wide variety of office positions held by blind people, and provided opportunities for blind people to network with one another and others.

This is an election year, which means that we will elect officers. Please think about who you would like to lead our organization for the future. The current officers are Lisa Hall, president, San Antonio, Texas; Lois Montgomery, vice president, Moline, Illinois; Sherri Brun, secretary, Orlando, Florida; and Debbie Brown, treasurer, Rockville, Maryland. It is very important to consider where our organization should go in the future.

If you wish to learn more about our division, contact President Lisa Hall at 9110 Broadway, Apt. J-102, San Antonio, Texas 78217; phone (210) 829-4571; email <lhall10@satx.rr.com>. Membership dues are $5 a year. Anyone wishing to join can send dues to Debbie Brown, treasurer, 11923 Parklawn Drive, Apartment 104, Rockville, Maryland 20852; home phone (301) 881-1892; email <dabro@loc.gov>.

The National Association of Blind Office Professionals page is located at <http://www.zeli.net/nabop.html>.

I look forward to seeing everyone in Dallas, Texas, on July 1.

National Association of Blind Piano Technicians
by Don Mitchell

The National Association of Blind Piano Technicians invites you to attend a special seminar held at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind. This meeting will present information on financially fulfilling careers in piano tuning, servicing, repairing, and rebuilding pianos. We will meet at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, July 3, at the NFB convention. Consult your convention agenda for room location. The annual business meeting will take place at that time. If you are unable to attend and wish to support our activities, please send your dues to our division treasurer, Connie Ryan, 56 N. Extension Road, Apartment 107, Mesa, Arizona 85201. Annual dues are $10. We look foreword to seeing you in Dallas.

National Association to Promote the Use of Braille
by Nadine Jacobson

Can you believe that it is already time to think about the 2006 meeting of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB)? Once again we will have an interesting agenda, packed full of information about securing literacy for blind children and adults. Please join us in Dallas at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind on July 3 at 7:00 p.m. As usual, consult your convention agenda for the exact location.

Once again we will be moved by the efforts undertaken by our Braille Readers are Leaders contest winners. Those kids are an inspiration to all of us. The Louis Braille Memorial Coin to be minted in 2009 will also be a topic for discussion. We need to begin thinking of how we can use this coin and Braille’s 200th birthday to promote literacy. As of this writing, the bill creating this coin has already passed the House of Representatives, and I trust that we will be able to celebrate its becoming a certainty by the time we meet. There will be other developments to review during the past year that affect how we read, write, and learn Braille.

We will have our now traditional Braille children's book flea market conducted jointly by NAPUB and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Please bring any gently used Braille children's books that can be used by other children. Consult the Miniatures section for directions about how to mail such books as well.

If you have agenda items or questions, contact me by email or by phone. My email address is <nadine.jacobson@visi.com>, or call me at (952) 927-7694. I am looking forward to seeing everyone in Dallas.

National Association of Blind Rehabilitation Professionals
by Carlos Serván

The National Association of Blind Rehabilitation Professionals (NABRP) will meet July 3 for our annual seminar and business meeting. Registration will begin at 1:00 p.m., and the seminar and business meeting will be held from 2:00 to 5:00. The NABRP meeting is an opportunity for all rehabilitation professionals in the blindness field to get together, network, share mutual interests, find placement strategies, examine concerns about the rehabilitation profession, and generally shape quality services for the blind in the nation.

If you are involved in rehabilitation for the blind, you don't want to miss this meeting. We promise to have nationally recognized leaders in the rehabilitation field to help us examine and discuss current issues in rehab. If you have any questions about this meeting, feel free to contact Carlos Serván at (402) 327-0414, or send an email to <cservan@inebraska.com>.

National Association of Blind Students
by Ryan Strunk

The National Association of Blind Students will conduct its annual meeting on Sunday, July 2, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. at the NFB convention. Registration with a fee of $5 will begin at 6:00 p.m. We will also be hosting Monte Carlo Night on Wednesday, July 5, from 8:00 p.m. until midnight. Monte Carlo Night is a fundraiser for the student division, and this year it will be bigger and better than ever. Come support the students and have fun at the same time. For more information contact Ryan Strunk, president, (402) 730-4092, or email <r_strunk@hotmail.com>.

National Association of Guide Dog Users
by Priscilla Ferris

The National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) will be holding its meetings at our national convention as follows: Saturday evening, July 1, from 7:00 to 10:00, business meeting. Please remember that this is an election year. Monday evening, July 3, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., we will address the topic; making an informed decision. We will have guests from many of the guide dog schools and other interesting speakers.

NFB in Computer Science
by Curtis Chong

The 2006 meeting of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science will take place on Monday, July 3, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. With the imminent release of a new version of Windows (now known as Vista), we plan to have a representative from Microsoft's Accessible Technologies Team on hand to speak to our members about the work that Microsoft has done to ensure continued accessibility to this operating system and the applications that run under it. We will be discussing the efforts by the State of Massachusetts to convert its data to the OASIS Open Document format—a format that is currently not accessible to the blind. If things go as planned, we will also be talking about Google and the things that it is doing that have the potential effect of shutting out the blind from some of its services.

This being an even-numbered year, we will hold an election of officers and board members. We will also find opportunities for computer professionals and others to network with each other to address problems of nonvisual access to technology and technology-based services.

Dues for membership in the NFB in Computer Science are $5. For more information contact Curtis Chong, president, NFB in Computer Science, 3000 Grand Avenue, Apartment 810, Des Moines, Iowa 50312; phone (evenings) (515) 277-1288; email <curtischong@earthlink.net>.

The National Federation of the Blind in Judaism
by David Stayer

The NFB in Judaism group will gather Sunday evening, July 2, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Consult the convention agenda for the location.

NFB LINK
by Rosy Carranza

Thanks to all who have signed up to serve as NFB LINK mentors. Throughout our national convention you will have the opportunity to attend one of several training sessions to help you be better prepared to serve as a mentor. The sessions will be informative, fast-paced, and fun. Stay tuned to the Monitor for additional information.

National Organization of Blind Educators
by Sheila Koenig

On Monday, July 3, the National Organization of Blind Educators (NOBE) will conduct its annual meeting from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Registration begins at 1:00 p.m. NOBE is a network of blind teachers and those interested in careers in education. Our meeting will offer an opportunity to meet blind people teaching at various grade levels and in different content areas.

Many questions arise as people contemplate and realize their dreams of teaching: how will potential employers react to a blind applicant? How does a blind person manage students in a classroom? How does one accomplish the daily duties as well as the "other duties as assigned" for which teachers are contracted? During our seminar at the 2006 convention in Dallas, successful blind teachers will discuss such questions. Seminar participants will also meet in small groups specific to grade level and content areas of interest. In this way we can create a network of mentors extending beyond our meeting. If you teach or are considering a career in teaching at any level, plan to join us.

National Organization of the Senior Blind
by Judy Sanders

It is hard to believe that we are already planning for another convention. But we are, and the National Organization of the Senior Blind (NOSB) is ready for action. This year we will have our usual variety of speakers who will demonstrate how active seniors can be between conventions. Our theme is "Life continues after blindness." So we want to hear from seniors who are newly blind and how they are dealing with it and the role the Federation plays in their lives. Pat Healy from New Jersey is just such a person. And I know there are many others. Anyone wishing to suggest someone for this part of our agenda should let me know.

We will, of course, have our not-so-silent auction to raise those much needed funds for NOSB. We will be pleased to accept donated items, and we encourage you to come bid as high as you can. To facilitate the bidding, we want to produce a list of items to be circulated before the auction. Anyone wishing to donate an item and have it appear on our list should notify me by June 15. Use the email or phone number that appears at the end of this announcement. You will never attend another auction like this one.

We are electing a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. All those who pay their five dollars dues are eligible to vote. The business part of our meeting will begin at 7:00 and end no later than 10:00 p.m. However, be sure and come early to view the auction items and make your initial bids. For more information about NOSB, our meeting, or the convention, please contact Judy Sanders at <Jsanders4@mn.rr.com>, or call me at (612) 375-1625.

Performing Arts Division
by Adrienne Snow

The Performing Arts Division is dedicated to the support of performers: singers, actors, instrumentalists, magicians, etc. We will be meeting at the convention in Dallas on July 3 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Please check your agenda for the room assignment. At this meeting we will conduct general elections; all seats are open this year. We will also have speeches and presentations from two actors and a singer who are donating their time to help our division. All who are interested are welcome to attend.

The performing Arts Division will be conducting the Showcase of Talent this year, which will take place Tuesday evening, July 4. Those interested in performing must contact Adrienne Snow no later than the close of the opening general session of the convention. There is no charge for performing, but the usual rules about providing your own accompanist and not singing along with the voice track of recordings still apply. If you have questions, feel free to contact Adrienne Snow at the convention or at <lavocebella@aol.com>.

Planned Giving Seminar
by Israel Menchero

Wednesday, July 5, from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m., join us to learn more about charitable estate planning and gift strategies. This seminar will provide information on various planned-giving opportunities, legal implications, and impact on personal taxes. Participants will receive information on the different types of income-generating gifts available with the NFB, the legal language to be used in bequests, planning the timing of gifts, and points to consider before making a gift. Information will also be presented on the difference between a charitable gift annuity and a charitable remainder trust, will preparation, and gifts of life insurance.

Public Employees Division
by Ivan Weich

The Public Employees Division will meet Monday afternoon, July 3. No special agenda items to report yet. Ivan Weich’s new address for mail is 4301 Clogston Avenue NE, Bremerton, Washington 98310.

Rehabilitation Conference
by Christine Brown

The National Association of Blind Rehabilitation Professionals, the National Blindness Professional Certification Board, and the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness are proud to announce that the fifth annual rehabilitation conference will be held in Dallas, Texas, at the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. The conference will be held on Saturday, July 1, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and will include a rich agenda of key leaders and professionals working in the fields of rehabilitation and orientation and mobility. Please consult your agenda for room location.

Registration for the conference will begin at 8:00 a.m. The registration fee will be $50 for professionals working in the field and $25 for students or job seekers. The conference will be of particular interest to those currently working in the field of rehabilitation for the blind, students in professional preparation programs, those interested in travel training as a career, and those with general interest in rehabilitation for the blind. For more information about the conference contact Christine Brown at (318) 257-2029; email <chrbrown@latech.edu>.

Roman Catholic Mass
by Mary Ellen Jernigan

Father Gregory Paul, C.P., will be with us at this year’s convention and will celebrate Mass on Sunday morning, July 2, at 6:30. The room assignment will be listed in the agenda.

Social Security Seminar
by James McCarthy and Teresa Uttermohlen

An outreach seminar, "Social Security and Supplemental Security Income: What Applicants, Advocates, and Recipients Should Know," will take place Wednesday afternoon, July 6. The purpose of this seminar, conducted by the National Federation of the Blind with the assistance of the Social Security Administration, is to share information on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for the blind. This includes the income subsidy program for those receiving the new Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Seminar presenters will be Jim McCarthy, director of governmental affairs for the National Federation of the Blind, and his wife Terri Uttermohlen, first vice president of the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the NFB and a training and technical assistance liaison employed by Virginia Commonwealth University to provide training and technical assistance to work incentives specialists throughout the nation. Social Security representatives will be available to offer helpful publications about their programs and share valuable tips about communicating with the Social Security Administration.

Sports and Recreation Division
by Lisamaria Martinez

Have you ever wondered if a blind person could play football or basketball? Have you ever heard of goalball? Have you ever had questions concerning blind people and rock climbing, dancing, rafting, or even something as simple as going to the gym? Well, come one, come all! The Sports and Recreation Division of the National Federation of the Blind invites any person interested in sports or recreation to attend our first-ever meeting. The meeting will be held on Monday, July 3, between 1:30 and 5:00 p.m. Registration will be $5 and will begin at 1:00 p.m. This meeting will be not only informative but interactive. For more information contact Lisamaria Martinez, president, at <lmartinez217@gmail.com>; or at (510) 289-2577.

Attention Veterans
by Dwight Sayer

Please join us in celebrating the Fourth of July in Dallas, Texas. The National Federation of the Blind will be honoring veterans at the beginning of the national convention on the Fourth of July. We encourage all veterans to let us know if you are going to attend this year’s convention. It will be much easier to prepare for the celebration if we know approximately how many veterans will be attending. For more information contact Dwight D. Sayer, U.S. Air Force, first vice president, NFB of Florida; (407) 877-1970; <blindguysrus1@aol.com>.


Writers Division
by Tom Stevens

During preconvention activities on Saturday afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30 the Writers Division will conduct an open-mike poetry and short fiction reading session. We encourage interested Federationists to bring original writing to recite or read to an attentive audience. There is no charge.

On Monday afternoon the Writers Division will conduct its annual information and business meeting from 1:30 until 4:00. Everyone is welcome to a session where we will discuss writing of various types and conduct a small amount of business. Our primary purpose is to encourage you to write and run editors ragged with your submissions. Come one, come all.

 

The Equation for Success 2006 Seminar for Parents and Teachers

by Barbara Cheadle

From the Editor: One of the most exciting elements of national conventions each year has come to be the programs and activities sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). Barbara Cheadle is the NOPBC president and editor of Future Reflections, the division’s quarterly magazine for parents and teachers of blind children. Just reading about division convention plans for families with blind youngsters is exciting. Everyone with a need to learn more about helping blind children to grow up well-adjusted, competent, and independent should make plans to be in Dallas the first week of July at the NFB convention. Read on to learn the details of the NOPBC activities.

(knowledge - pity) + (skills x confidence) + blind role models = self-determination
self-determination + (talent x perseverance) = SUCCESS

Several years ago actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck hit it big with a movie called Good Will Hunting. Among the early scenes in the movie is a young man in janitor’s garb (Will, played by Damon), working out a long and complex math equation on a blackboard in a deserted college classroom late at night. It turns out that this rough, uneducated young man from a blue-collar, working-class neighborhood is a mathematical genius. However, the discovery of his talent does not lead immediately to success. Like the formulas he worked out late at night, the equation for his success is not a simple “two-plus-two-equals-four.” Emotional scars from an abusive childhood, the fear of losing old friends, and habits of carousing, drinking, and fighting are factors that have to be balanced by the introduction of new factors—new relationships, intellectual challenges, emotional healing, and self-confidence—in order for him to take the first step toward fulfilling his natural potential.

The equation for success for a blind child also has complexities. It is not as simple as learning Braille or being surrounded by positive, loving parents and teachers. Skills and attitudes are crucial factors, no doubt, but other elements must be factored in, and some elements must be subtracted.

Fortunately, those of us parents who are math-impaired don’t have to solve this problem by ourselves. Over 2,500 experts—blind members of the National Federation of the Blind—will gather in Dallas, Texas, in July for the express purpose of working out formulas for success for all blind people. The event is the NFB national convention, and the problem-solving begins on Saturday, July 1, 2006, with the Equation for Success seminar.

Sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), this day-long event begins with a kid-friendly general session in the morning, and in the afternoon offers break-out workshops for adults and special, fun-filled activities for blind children and sighted siblings. The day will end with an informal, everyone-is-welcome family hospitality, and two no-parents-allowed teen talks (one for boys, and one for girls). And that is only the beginning. During the next four days NOPBC will sponsor over a dozen other special programs for family members and teachers.

This year the theme is more than a metaphor. We will actually be conducting math workshops for parents and special math-related activities for children and youth. Rumors have it, for example, that the NFB Jernigan Institute’s National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS) will sponsor a special chemistry program for the teens on July 1. And we have other prominent partners.

MATHCOUNTS® <www.mathcounts.org> (which is the math equivalent of the national spelling bee competition) is collaborating with NOPBC to conduct a mock kids-versus-adults math competition to be followed by a lively and informative Math Now! forum on Sunday, July 2. The director, Larry Jacobson, and deputy director, Kristen Chandler, are planning to join us in Dallas for these events as a kick-off for promoting participation by blind students in MATHCOUNTS competitions nationwide.

We are also pleased to announce that the Texas School for the Blind, widely known for its publications division and extensive Web site resources, will partner with the NOPBC to provide exciting programming in Active Learning, the educational approach pioneered by Dr. Lilli Nielsen for blind kids with severe multiple disabilities. We also look forward to collaborating with the school on other program items, as well as welcoming teachers and students from the school as participants and guests to the convention.

In addition to the new offerings, the always popular, much anticipated standards are on the 2006 program: the Cane Walk, Braille Carnival, IEP workshops, teen drop-in-and-get-acquainted party, teen hospitality room, Braille book flea market, Parent Power Workshop, and the NOPBC annual meeting. Maria Garcia, paramedic and president of the New York Parents of Blind Children division, is also hoping to offer some programs in emergency preparedness for children and families. The programs she organized last year in Louisville were a big hit, and we have had many requests to repeat them.

The 2006 speakers will include dynamic favorites who always stimulate, inform, and encourage: Joe Cutter (early years O&M), Ann Cunningham (tactile art education), Heather Field (language development, toys), Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the NFB (kid-talk), Melissa Riccobono (Braille Carnival buddies), the staff and students from the Louisiana Center and Louisiana Tech O&M master’s program (Cane Walk), and many others. We will also be welcoming students from the Indiana School for the Blind again this year. The last two years they came as members of the COGS Club; this year they return as Leo Club members.

Among the speakers new to us in 2006 is Eric Vasiliauskas, M.D., a pediatrician who has two blind sons. An active NOPBC member from California, Dr. Vasiliauskas has already gained a reputation for his lively and informative presentations. We will also hear from another doctor and medical researcher, Alfred J. Lewy, M.D., Ph.D., who is conducting studies about melatonin and sleep cycles in children. And we will hear, of course, from the 2006 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award winner.

There is no experience like the NFB national convention. The NOPBC activities for parents, as exciting and as helpful as we hope you will find them, are only a small part of this phenomenal, one-of-a-kind event. If you will go back and read the equation following the title, you will find this element: role models. The convention has 2,500 potential role models for your child and your family. Most will be role models to emulate with pride, others will be reverse models: examples of what not to become. Why? Because the Federation is a membership organization, a cross-section of society—old, young, smart, dumb-as-dirt, cranky, pleasant, naïve, sophisticated, educated, uneducated, skilled, unskilled, clumsy, graceful. Blind people really are just like everybody else, and the convention highlights that fact in a way that no amount of rhetoric can convey.

So make your plans and join us in Dallas. You don’t have to be good in math to learn this equation.

NOPBC Schedule of Events

Day 1: Saturday, July 1

Childcare: The NFB offers childcare (NFB Camp) all day Saturday, July 1, and during other convention sessions throughout the week for infants and children ages six weeks through ten years of age. NFB Camp preregistration packets are available from NFB Camp director Carla McQuillan, NFB of Oregon, 5005 Main Street, Springfield, Oregon 97478; (541) 726-6924. Preregistration for NFB Camp is required.

Fees: $35 for two adults plus children. $15 for one adult (no children). $25 for one adult plus children. The fee helps cover the cost of workshop materials, the packets and handouts from all NOPBC sessions, AV equipment for our speakers, the cost of our teen hospitality room, and other expenses incurred by the NOPBC at the convention.

8:30 a.m. NFB Camp opens

8:00 - 11:30 a.m. The Equation for Success
(general session)

11:30 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch (on your own)

1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Workshops (adults)
Activities for children, ages 6 and up

2:45 - 3:45 p.m. Workshops (adults)
Activities for children, ages 6 and up

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. Workshops (adults)
Activities for children, ages 6 and up

5:00 - 5:30 p.m. Break, pick up children from NFB Camp

5:30 - 6:00 p.m. General wrap-up session, report from kids and youth, poster display

8:00 - 9:30 p.m. Family Hospitality

8:00 - 9:30 p.m. Teen Talks

Day 2: Sunday, July 2

8:00 - 10:30 p.m. Cane Walk: Session I

10:00 - 12:30 p.m. Cane Walk: Session II
The Cane Walk is for blind kids, their family members, and teachers. It is conducted in collaboration with Joe Cutter, the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University, and the Louisiana Center for the Blind.

Morning (time to be announced) MATHCOUNTS® “Kids versus Adults”

This is a closed competition. Competitors must register in advance. Please send an email to Curtis Chong at <curtischong@earthlink.net> if you are interested in competing. Kids must be in middle school, and adults must be high school graduates. The competition and the Math Now! forum (see below) are both conducted in collaboration with MATHCOUNTS® and the NFB Jernigan Institute.

2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Math Now!
Everyone welcome! Results and prizes for the MATHCOUNTS® competitors; a live oral math round with the top kid and adult winners; information about new technologies, software, and math manipulatives; displays.

2:00 - 5:00 p.m. An Introduction to Active Learning. A seminar and hands-on demonstration about implementing active learning for blind children with severe multiple disabilities.

1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Teen get-acquainted, drop-in-anytime party, co-sponsored by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM).
Time to be announced Just for Dads

Day 3: Monday, July 3

12:45 - 4:15 p.m. Teen Hospitality

1:00 - 3:00 p.m. NOPBC annual meeting and program

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Parent Power workshop

5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Braille Book Flea Market and reunion for Braille Readers Are Leaders

Day 4: Tuesday, July 4

7:00 - 9:00 a.m. NOPBC board meeting

Lunch break Teen Hospitality

7:00 - 10:00 p.m. Workshops (IEPs, resources, and other topics)

Day 5, Wednesday, July 5

1:45 - 6:15 p.m. Teen Hospitality

2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Cane Talk.
Informal, drop-by anytime discussions with Joe Cutter and other mobility instructors

3:00 - 4:30 p.m. CPR for Infants and Toddlers
An introductory course for the whole family

5:00 - 6:30 p.m. Teens Can Do CPR: An introductory course especially for teens

Day 6: Thursday, July 6

Lunch break Teen Hospitality

Banquet NOPBC 50/50 raffle drawing

Day 7: Friday, July 7

General Session
NOPBC announces contributions to the White Cane Fund, tenBroek Fund, Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Fund, and Imagination Fund.


2006 NOPBC Preregistration Packet

Send your request by mail, email, fax, or phone to: NOPBC, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230
<bcheadle@nfb.org>, fax (410) 659-5129, phone (410) 659-9314, extension 2361

Please include the information below when you request a preregistration packet:

Name: _______________________________________________________________________
Phone number: (H) _________________________ (W) ________________________________
Please send me the packet information by:
___ Mail: _____________________________________________________________________
(address, city, state, zip)
___ Email: ___________________________________________________________________
___ Fax: _____________________________________________________________________
I am (check all that apply): ___ Parent ___ Teacher ___ Blind adult
___ Relative and/or friend of a blind child ___ Other professional

 

NFB Camp: It’s More Than Child’s Play

by Carla McQuillan

During convention week children six weeks through ten years of age are invited to join in the fun and festivities of NFB Camp. NFB Camp offers more than just childcare; it is an opportunity for our blind and sighted children to meet and develop lifelong friendships. Our activity schedule is filled with games, crafts, and special performances designed to entertain, educate, and delight. If you are interested in this year’s program, please complete and return the registration form provided at the end of this notice. Preregistration with payment on or before June 15 is mandatory for participation in NFB Camp. Space is limited.

About the Staff: NFB Camp is organized and supervised by Carla McQuillan, the executive director of Main Street Montessori Association, operating three schools, parent education courses, and a teacher-training program. Carla is the mother of two children, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon, and a member of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind.

Alison McQuillan, camp worker and teacher since 1998, will be our activities director again this year. Over the years we have recruited professional childcare workers from the local community to staff NFB Camp. Recently we have determined that recruiting from our Federation families brings in workers with healthy philosophies and attitudes about our blind children. Carla and Alison will be supervising camp workers and all related activities.

Activities and Special Events: The children are divided into groups according to age: infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. Each room is equipped with a variety of age-appropriate toys, games, and books, and we will have daily art projects. Local firefighters will be bringing a fire engine to the hotel for the children to tour. The hotel also has an outdoor track and croquet field for the children to enjoy. In addition, school-aged children will have the opportunity to sign up for half-day trips to area attractions. Some of the planned events include a trip to the aquarium, firefighter museum, and other local highlights. Dates, times, additional fees, and sign-up sheets for field trips will be available at NFB Camp. Space for special events is limited to enrolled NFB Campers only, on a first-come, first-served basis. On the final day of NFB Camp we will conduct a big toy sale—brand new toys at bargain prices.

General Arrangements: NFB Camp will be open during general convention sessions, division and committee meeting day, and the evening of the banquet. Plenty of teens are always available to babysit during evening and luncheon meetings. A list of babysitters will be available at the NFB Camp desk. Please use the NFB Camp registration form. Completed form and fees must be received on or before June 15.

NFB Camp Schedule

Times listed are the opening and closing times of NFB Camp. Children are not accepted earlier than the times listed, and a late fee of $10 will be assessed for all late pick-ups. NFB Camp provides morning and afternoon snacks. You are responsible for providing lunch for your child(ren) every day.

Date                                             NFB Camp Hours

Saturday, July 1                            8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 2                              Camp is closed
Monday, July 3                             8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 4                            9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 5                        8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 6                           8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1:30-5:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.-adjournment of banquet
Friday, July 7                                8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-5:30 p.m.

These times may vary, depending on the timing of the actual convention sessions. NFB Camp will open thirty minutes before the beginning gavel and close thirty minutes after sessions recess.


NFB CAMP REGISTRATION FORM

Parent’s Name ____________________________________________________
Address _________________________________________________________
City__________________ State______ Zip________ Phone _______________

Child(ren)’s Name(s)
_____________________________________ Age_______ Date of Birth______
_____________________________________ Age_______ Date of Birth______
_____________________________________ Age_______ Date of Birth______

Include description of any disabilities/allergies we should know about: ______________________
______________________________________________________________________________

Who, other than parents, is allowed to pick up your child(ren)? ___________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

Per Week: $90 first child, $65 for each sibling

Number of Children_______ $________________ (Does not include banquet)
Per Day: $20 per child Number of Days_________ x $20 $_________
Banquet: $15 per child Number of Children_______ x $15 $_________
Total Due $_________

Make checks payable to NFB Camp. Return form to National Federation of the Blind of Oregon, 5005 Main Street, Springfield, Oregon 97478. Phone (541) 726-6924

 

Hearing Enhancement and Spanish Translation
Available Spanish Translators Needed

by D. Curtis Willoughby

From the Editor: Curtis Willoughby is a member of the NFB's Research and Development Committee and head of our Ham Radio Interest Group.

Again this year at national convention we will offer special arrangements for severely hearing-impaired people attending convention sessions and the banquet. This will consist of transmission of the public address system signal over a special short-range radio transmitter for the severely hearing-impaired. Also Spanish-language translation of convention proceedings in general sessions and the banquet will be provided using a similar arrangement. The special receivers required for these services will also be provided.

In cooperation with several state affiliates (notably Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio, Utah, and Virginia), the NFB will provide receivers for these special transmissions to those needing them. The receiver-lending, managed by the Ham Radio Group, will be operated from a table just outside the meeting room. A deposit of $25, cash only, will be required of anyone wishing to check out one of the Federation's receivers. The deposit will be returned if the receiver is checked in at the checkout table in good condition by adjournment or within thirty minutes after adjournment of the last convention session. Batteries for the receiver will be provided. Anyone checking out a Federation receiver will be given upon request a miniature earbud-type earphone to use with the receiver.

Along with explaining what will be available, it is important that we explain what will not be available. The miniature earbud loudspeaker-type earphone will be the only kind of earphone offered. The receiver requires a 3.5 mm (formerly called 1/8 inch) earphone plug, in case you want to use your own earphone(s), neck loop, adapter cable, etc. You are advised to arrange for such things well ahead of arriving at the convention. Other than the earphone jack on the receiver, no means of connection to a hearing aid will be available from the checkout table. The receiver does not have a built-in loudspeaker. While earphones and even neck loops are sometimes available in the exhibit room, you cannot be certain of getting one there.

Many severely hearing-impaired people already use radio systems that employ FM radio signals to carry the voice from a transmitter held by the person speaking to a receiver in the hearing aid. Many such hearing aid systems can be tuned to receive the Federation's special transmitters. In this case the hearing-impaired person may simply tune his or her own receiver to receive the Federation's transmitter and will not need to check out a Federation receiver.

Some audiologists and rehabilitation agencies are now buying digital and other FM hearing aids that cannot be tuned to the Federation's frequency. If you have one of these or if you have any other type of hearing aid, you should obtain from your audiologist an adapter cable to connect from your hearing aid to a monaural 3.5 mm (formerly called 1/8 inch) earphone jack. This will allow you to plug the cable from your hearing aid directly into a receiver you check out from our table. This will allow you to hear as well as anyone else using one of our receivers.

The transmitter for the hearing-impaired will be connected to the public address system so that the signals from the head table and the aisle microphones will be transmitted on channel 36 (74.775 MHz narrow band FM). People must not operate their personal transmitters on channel 36 or on channel 38 because that would interfere with the reception by others. This means that folks wishing to use their own receivers (rather than checking out one of the Federation's receivers) need to have their personal receivers arranged so that they can switch between their personal channels and channel 36. Some people may need to purchase replacement or additional receivers. Caution your audiologist that there is more than one channel 36 and that he or she must also verify that the frequency matches our frequency.

This announcement is printed now to allow as much time as possible for those interested to make the necessary arrangements before convention. It contains this amount of detail so that any audiologist who works with this type of equipment should be able to know by reading this article exactly what capabilities a person's FM hearing system must have to work with the Federation's system at convention. Even if you do not use an FM hearing aid, you may be able to purchase a neck loop or an adapter cable to couple the signal from a Federation receiver directly to your hearing aid. Your audiologist should also be able to help you with this.

The service for Spanish speakers will be similar, except that a live Spanish translator will speak over a separate transmitter on channel 38 (75.275 MHz narrow band FM). We do not expect people to bring their own receivers for the Spanish language translation service unless they are also hearing-impaired and use an FM hearing aid system. Norm Gardner from Utah will be coordinating the Spanish language interpreters, and he would appreciate hearing from anyone willing to volunteer to interpret. Please call him prior to convention at (801) 224-6969 or send him an email message at <norm@brlcenter.org>.

Finally, if other state affiliates or chapters are interested in purchasing this type of equipment for use in state and local meetings, they are encouraged to purchase equipment that is compatible with what we are using and to allow it to be used in the pool of equipment that the Ham Radio Group administers at national convention. I, Curtis Willoughby, would like to help you choose equipment that is compatible with what the NFB is using. I may also be able to help you get the good prices the NFB has been getting. You may contact me at (303) 424-7373 or <ka0vba@dimensional.com>.

The Federation is pleased to offer these services to our severely hearing-impaired colleagues and to our Spanish-speaking colleagues, and we hope and believe that it will again significantly improve their convention experience.

 

Dialysis at National Convention

by Ed Bryant

During this year's annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind, Saturday, July 1, through Friday, July 7, dialysis will be available. Individuals requiring dialysis must have a transient patient packet and physician's statement filled out prior to treatment.

Conventioneers must have their unit social worker contact the desired location in the Dallas area for instructions well in advance. The convention will take place at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75207.

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

Dialysis centers should set up transient dialysis locations at least six to eight weeks in advance. This helps assure a location for anyone wanting to dialyze. Places fill up quickly.

There are many centers in the Dallas area, but the area is quite large, and early reservation is strongly recommended—to guarantee a place and spare you a long taxi or bus ride. Here are some dialysis locations:

* Elmbrook Kidney Center, 7920 Elmbrook, #108, Dallas, Texas 75247; telephone (214) 638-6615. About 2.5 miles from hotel.
* UT SW Gambro Dialysis, 8230 Elmbrook, Dallas, Texas 75247; telephone (214) 630-4180. About 2.7 miles from hotel.
* Oak Cliff Dialysis, 2000 S. Llewellyn Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75224; telephone (214) 943-0011. About 10 miles from hotel.
* FMC SW Dialysis, 6010 Forest Park Road, Dallas, Texas 75235; telephone (214) 819-9858 or (214) 351-2833. About 15 miles from hotel.

Please remember to schedule dialysis treatments early to ensure space. See you in Dallas.

 

Attention National Convention Exhibitors

by Jerry Lazarus

From the Editor: Jerry Lazarus is the director of special projects at the NFB Jernigan Institute. Convention exhibitors interested in the increased visibility and opportunities to contact potential customers that becoming a convention sponsor will provide should read the following article carefully. This is what he says:

By now most of our previous exhibitors have received the national convention exhibitor packet, including the invitation letter, exhibitor application, fact sheet, guidelines, sponsorship opportunities, sponsor signup form, and preconvention registration forms for the 2006 convention at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas.

We would like to call your attention to the sponsorship opportunities available. The amount of visibility and recognition an exhibitor can receive by becoming a sponsor at the 2006 NFB convention will make the investment truly worthwhile.

The following are some highlights and associated benefits of participating as a sponsor. The top-level sponsor will be known as the Title Sponsor. The sponsors that choose to involve themselves at this level will have an unparalleled opportunity to address the entire National Federation of the Blind assembly during the opening general session. What better way to get your message across than to have the attention of all of our attendees? In addition, the Title Sponsor(s) will also select the featured speaker to address the community partnership breakfast. The first Title Sponsor to sign up will receive the entire back cover of our national convention program agenda for advertising. The second Title Sponsor to sign up will receive the inside back cover. A featured ad will be placed on the National Federation of the Blind Web site for thirty days, in addition to links direct to your Web site from the NFB Web-placed ad.

Additional benefits are available for all sponsors. Read on.

The exhibit hall will be open for a special evening dedicated to sponsors of the convention only. This includes all the categories: Title, Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Exhibit Hall sponsors. On Tuesday evening, July 4, the exhibit hall will reopen from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. for these exhibitors only. (Exhibitors that have purchased table space only will not be allowed to open during these special hours.) We encourage you to invite guests into the hall for special offers and demonstrations. During these hours the amplification system will be available for sponsors that would like to make announcements about their products or to offer special deals to those in attendance.

In addition, we invite you to submit an article to our online publication, Voice of the Nation’s Blind.

The following breakdown provides specific details on each of the levels of sponsorship. Please read through the merits associated with each of the sponsorships and choose the one that best suits your desired level of recognition.

Title Sponsorship, $25,000

Platinum Sponsorship, $15,000

· Fifteen complimentary convention registrations
· Opportunity to address general session on Tuesday, July 4
· Fifteen places at the community partnership breakfast on Wednesday, July 5
· Fifteen places and special recognition at the NFB banquet, Thursday evening, July 6; estimated attendance at the banquet more than 2,500
· Two tables in the exhibit hall (prominent location)
· Signage on two walls in exhibit hall
· Use of exhibit hall (by sponsors only) on Tuesday evening from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. for their invited guests, as well as convention attendees. Use of the exhibit hall sound system for announcements and special promotions will be allowed during this period only.
· Special listing in convention agenda mentioning the sponsors and their use of the hall on Tuesday evening
· Name and logo featured on stage banner
· One full-page ad in the convention agenda
· Listing on NFB Web site under Exhibitors at National Convention, with a direct link to the Platinum Sponsor’s Web site
· Opportunity to write an article to be published in the NFB online publication, Voice of the Nation’s Blind, with appropriate direct links

Gold Sponsorship, $10,000

Silver Sponsorship, $5,000

Exhibit Hall Sponsorship, $2,500

For more information about signing up as a sponsor for the convention, review the information that came in your convention packet, read the documents available on our Web site under National Convention, or contact Jerry L. Lazarus, director of special projects, National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; (410) 659-9314, extension 2297; email <jlazarus@nfb.org>, <www.nfb.org>.

 

Recipes

The recipes this month are from members of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois.

Herb Dip

by Patti Gregory-Chang

Patti Gregory-Chang, first vice president of the NFB of Illinois, supervises other lawyers for the city of Chicago. She uses fresh herbs that she grows in her garden when making this dip. It is great on any firm cracker.

Ingredients:

40 crackers or small triangles of toast
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh chives
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh coriander or cilantro
1/4 cup fresh garlic
1 pinch paprika

Method: Soften cream cheese. Mix in garlic. Then mix in all of the herbs. You can add some sour cream if the dip is too stiff. Sprinkle paprika on top for color. Chill this dip and then spread on crackers or small triangles of toast. I have used this at barbeques with success.


Flourless Almond Cake

by Elizabeth Browne

Dr.Elizabeth Browne is a longtime Federationist and has contributed stories to the Kernel Books and articles to the Braille Monitor. She is the author of two books and is working on a third. She is a professor in the seminary at Loyola University of Chicago and a member of the Chicago Chapter of the NFB of Illinois.

Ingredients:

6 unpeeled clementines
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
2 1/3 cups crushed almonds

Method: In a large saucepan or pot place six unpeeled clementines covered by cold water. Cover, bring to boil, and let simmer for two hours. (Start with enough water so pan does not boil dry.) Drain water, cut clementines in half, and begin to chop in blender or food processor, removing all seeds before blending fruit. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and line a nine-inch springform pan with parchment or wax paper. Beat six eggs. Add sugar, baking powder, and almonds. Now add chopped clementines to batter, mixing ingredients well by hand or with a whisk. Pour cake mixture into prepared pan and bake for one hour. When cake has baked for forty minutes, cover cake with foil and let it finish baking. Cake is done when skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before removing from the pan. To serve, loosen cake from sides of pan and invert on a plate before removing pan. Dust top with confectionary sugar if you like. You can serve this alone or with ice cream or whipped cream. Variations: if you don’t have enough crushed almonds, you can supplement with crushed pecans. Also lemons or tangerines may be substituted for clementines as long as a comparable amount of fruit is used.

Connie Davis

Coconut Cranberry Bars

by Connie Davis

Connie Davis serves as editor of the Braille Examiner, the NFB of Illinois newsletter.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups vanilla or white chips
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries,
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup pecans

Method: Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into a greased 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. In a bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Gently spread over the crust. Bake at 350 degrees for twenty-five to twenty-eight minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Cut into bars. Yields three dozen


Chocolate Caramel Brownies

by Connie Davis

Ingredients:
1 box (18 1/4-ounces) German or other chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) margarine, melted
2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided
1 cup pecans, chopped
2 packages (7 ounces each) chocolate covered caramels (You can buy a 12-ounce package, but don’t try it. See note below.)
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Method: Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl combine the cake mix, margarine, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and the pecans, stirring with a spoon until a dough forms. Press half the dough into the baking dish and bake for six minutes, reserving the remaining dough. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the caramels with the remaining 1/3 cup evaporated milk over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove the baking dish from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the warm dough. Spread the melted caramel mixture over the chips, then crumble the remaining dough over the top. Bake for twenty minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting. Note: If you prefer, you can use plain caramels rather than chocolate-covered ones.

Frozen Banana Split Dessert

by Kelly Doty

Kelly Doty, a sixth-grade teacher, serves as treasurer of the NFB of Illinois.

Ingredients:

Graham crackers or vanilla wafers, crushed
4 or 5 bananas
Vanilla ice cream
Syrup Ingredients:
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup margarine
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Method: Pat 1/4 inch graham cracker or vanilla wafer crumbs into a 13-by-9-inch pan. Slice bananas over crumb crust. Spread half a gallon of softened vanilla ice cream over bananas. Place pan in freezer.
To make syrup, melt chocolate chips and margarine together. Add two cups powdered sugar and 1 and 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Cook for eight minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool until almost cold. Spread syrup over ice cream. You may sprinkle nuts or additional wafer crumbs on top. Return to freezer until dessert is solidly frozen. Remove from freezer a little while before serving so that it will cut more easily.


Roast Cuban Chicken
by Joe Monti

Joe Monti, now retired, taught high school and college physics and math for thirty-nine years, most of those as a blind person. He currently serves on the state board of Illinois and is first vice president of the Chicago Chapter.

Ingredients:

Olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 chicken, cut up as desired
1 heaping cup white grain rice (uncooked)
6 ounces white wine
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon turmeric
6 ounces Sofrito brand salsa Suprema (may substitute Salon Supreme or other salsa)
1/2 10-ounce package frozen peas

Method: Brown chicken in olive oil and garlic. Place in roasting pan and add all the other ingredients except peas. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for forty-five minutes. Add the peas and bake fifteen minutes longer.

 

Monitor Miniatures

News from the Federation Family

Braille Book Flea Market:
Donate your gently used but no longer needed Twin Vision® books to the 2006 Braille book flea market, sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille. Books should be in good condition. Cookbooks and Twin Vision and other children’s Braille books are badly needed. We still have many books on other subjects left from last year. This year all we need are children’s books and cookbooks.

Please send your Braille books to the flea market using the U.S. mail. They can be sent Free Matter for the Blind. The address in Texas to which the books should be sent is Braille Book Flea Market, Attention Mr. Jason Fink, 2925 Merrell Road, Dallas, Texas 75229. If you have questions, contact Peggy Chong at (515) 277-1288 or by email at <peggychong@earthlink.net>. UPS will again house our books for us in Dallas before the event and will assist with the Braille book flea market on the day of the event. We thank them for their continued support.

Elected:
The San Francisco Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of California held elections on February 18, 2006. The results were as follows: president, David Chan; vice president, Jason Holloway; secretary, Lauren Manirre; treasurer, Lisa Gordon; and board member, Paul Wick.

Recovering:
We have learned that on February 11, 2006, Dr. Abraham Nemeth, inventor of the Nemeth Braille code for mathematics, was hospitalized with a serious heart attack. He is now recovering at home, but we regret to report that he is still far from well. We all wish him a return to full health.

New Baby:
Stephanie Holloway is the energetic and successful president of the Georgia Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of Georgia. She and her husband Richard are the proud parents of Richard Allen Holloway Jr. who was born on Monday, February 20, 2006, at 12:03 p.m. He weighed eight pounds, twelve ounces and was twenty-and-a-half inches long. Everyone, including the two big sisters, is doing well.

Elected:
The Austin Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas elected officers at its January meeting. They will serve a one-year term. Elected were president, Jim Shaffer; first vice president, Angela Wolf; second vice president, Mark Noble; secretary, Norma Gonzales Baker; treasurer, Margaret “Cokie” Craig; and board members, Richie Flores and Brandy Wojcik.

Braille Medallion Key Rings Available at Convention:
The Cincinnati chapter of the NFB of Ohio will again be selling Louis Braille key rings at the Ohio table in the convention exhibit hall. As many of you know, these attractive, gold-plated coin-like medallions have Louis Braille's name and date of birth on one side and hands reading Braille with the print inscription "Braille opens doors" on the reverse. They are only $5 each, so plan to stock up for the year.

Attention Affiliate, Division, and Chapter Newsletter Editors:
Larry McKeever would like to read and record your newsletters on tape. He is currently reading for Ohio, Minnesota, Kentucky, California, and Missouri. He would like to read for you too. You can check the latest edition of any of these publications as an audition.
Rates are reasonable: $75 a cassette. This includes reading, mastering, and Priority Mail postage. Simply email your Word copy of the final product to him at <mamariam@msn.com>, and he will have the cassette (or CD) master back to you, generally within thirty-six hours of receipt. Be sure to include instructions about where to send both the invoice and the cassette.

In Memoriam:
We recently learned from Mary Ann Saunders, president of the Huntington Chapter of the NFB of West Virginia, of the death on February 18, 2006, of Avis (Abbie) Hensley, a sighted member who had been chapter treasurer for forty-seven years. She loved the Federation and its members, and she attended state conventions whenever she could. According to Ed McDonald, past president of the NFB of West Virginia, “Several years ago Abbie was inducted into the affiliate's Hall of Honor, and one can hardly recount the history of the NFB of West Virginia without mentioning the name of Abbie Hensley.” May she rest in peace.

 

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.

Braille and Large Print Patterns Available:
Lion Brand reported in its January newsletter that all of its patterns are now offered in three versions. In addition to the standard version that includes images and text, each pattern includes two new links at the top: the first formats the pattern to be read in large print or by text-to-speech browsers; the second formats the pattern so it can be read by Braille devices.

Lion has also added color descriptions to all yarns and added special features to patterns and the pattern directories that are not visible to sighted readers but that make it easier to understand the patterns when they are read by text-to-speech browsers. They welcome your suggestions and comments. Send them to <support@lionbrand.com>.

Exciting New Training Opportunity:
The South Carolina Commission for the Blind (SCCB) has entered a partnership to train blind blood donor recruiters for the American Red Cross. Red Cross has thirty-six telephone recruiting centers throughout the country. Anyone who successfully completes this program will go directly to work in one of these recruiting centers.

The training is six weeks with transportation provided to and from the hotel. A contract is also in place to provide meals, beginning with breakfast on Monday and ending with lunch on Friday, in the cafeteria on the SCCB complex. However, no contracts are in place for weekend meals.

Applicants should have effective communication skills, type at least twenty words per minute, and be proficient in the access software (JAWS or screen enlargement) that they will be using. They will also need to have at least ninth grade spelling and vocabulary skills. Once referred, applicants will undergo an interview with the director of human resources at the Red Cross location for which they will be training, as well as criminal background and drug testing.

For more information, contact Ed Bible at (803) 898-8786 or by email at <ebible@sccb.sc.gov>.

Ohio State School for the Blind Reunion:
Imagine paying $60 for two nights lodging, six delicious meals, and membership in an exclusive club. You can do just that by attending the fifty-seventh biennial reunion of the Ohio State School for the Blind Alumni Association, June 16 to 18. Come and renew old friendships and form new ones. For more information contact Paul Dressell at (513) 481-7662 or <pmd@pobox.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.

Free to a Good Home:
Max Edelman has a Concise Heritage Dictionary recorded on four-track tapes and a four-track cassette player in excellent condition to go with the dictionary. These are free of charge to any blind or visually impaired person who can use them. Contact Max at <me1608@earthlink.net>.

For Sale:
Perkins Braillewriter, just refurbished, asking $400. Contact Steve Waltke at (517) 347-7046.

For Sale:
I'm selling a Spectrum CCTV for $1,200. The screen itself is nineteen inches wide, and the table is thirteen inches wide. If interested, contact me by email at <kaybabe@localnet.com> or by phone at (207) 448-2719. My address is Tina Hubley, 971 Bancroft Road, Weston, Maine 04424.

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.

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