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Braille Monitor

Vol. 49, No. 5                                                                     May 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. 5                                                                                       May 2006

 

Frontispiece

U.S. House Passes Braille Commemorative Coin Bill

Who Was Jacobus tenBroek?
by Lou Ann Blake

A Quick Introduction to the Hilton Anatole Hotel
b y Mary Ellen Jernigan

A Tiny Incident with Mammoth Implications,
or an Aberrant but Dismissible Bully?
by Marc Maurer

Golden Opportunity
by Todd Eliason

The New GED Tests
by Doris M. Willoughby

Top Ten Tips for a Successful Convention Trip with a Guide Dog
by Melissa Riccobono

Carol Castellano’s Making It Work Works
Reviewed by Missy Garber

Ask Miss Whozit

Blind Consumers Get the Gift of Audio Catalog Shopping
by Kristen Bremner

A Reporter Reports on Blindness
by Art Schreiber

Thruoureyes.org: Online Radio
by Daniel Facchini

Recipes

Monitor Miniatures

Copyright 2006 National Federation of the Blind

 

 

U.S. House Passes Braille Commemorative Coin Bill

From the Editor: On February 28, 2006, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 2872, which, if passed by the U.S. Senate as well, will create a silver dollar in 2009 to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille. Assuming that all the coins are sold, $4 million will be generated for use as matching funds to finance the National Federation of the Blind’s programs to increase Braille literacy across the country. The Congressional Record published the remarks of those who rose to speak about the proposed legislation before the vote. Congressman Robert Ney of Ohio and Congressman Benjamin Cardin of Maryland were the lead sponsors of the bill. Mr. Cardin had to leave the session before he could make his remarks in person, but he inserted them into the official record of the proceedings. What follows are the remarks of Mr. Ney, and Mr. Cardin as well as those of Congressman Michael Oxley, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over banking matters. Here are the official remarks before the vote on H.R. 2872, which seem unusually shrewd and to the point:


Mr. Ney: Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 2872, a bill designed to advance a nationwide Braille literacy campaign by honoring Louis Braille with a commemorative coin to be issued in 2009, the bicentennial year of his birth. Louis Braille created the code of raised dots for reading and writing that bears his name and brings literacy, independence, and productivity to the blind.

Born in 1809, Louis Braille became blind due to an accident in his father's workshop. By believing in the capacity of the blind to learn, Braille demonstrated an understanding of blindness that was extraordinarily enlightened and positive for the times in which he lived. Blind people today would be far less likely to achieve the goals of independence and productive living without the positive contributions Louis Braille made and the example he set throughout his life. Today blind members of society are teachers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, mathematicians, and much, much more because of Louis Braille.

A means of achieving literacy is vital for everyone, including, of course, people who are blind. Therefore effective use of Braille is one of the most essential skills for blind people to achieve success. Research shows that more than 90 percent of employed persons who are blind use Braille. Effective use of Braille is as important to the blind as independent mobility, knowledge in the use of adaptive technology, and the core belief that equality, opportunity, and security are truly possible for all people who are blind.

The Louis Braille commemorative coin will feature representation of the image of Louis Braille on one side and will include the word for Braille in actual Braille code on the other side. The inclusion of Braille code on the commemorative coin is a significant and historic aspect of this bill. In addition, all sales of the Braille commemorative coin will include a surcharge of $10 per coin, which will be distributed to the National Federation of the Blind to promote Braille literacy. As a condition of receiving the proceeds from this surcharge, the National Federation of the Blind will be subject to annual audits to ensure that these proceeds, of course, are being spent for the authorized purpose and will be required to raise matching funds from private sources.

If all the coins authorized under this bill are sold, the surcharges could generate up to $4 million plus the matching $4 million that the National Federation of the Blind would be required to raise privately. That is potentially $8 million to promote Braille literacy for all people in the country who are in need of Braille literacy. The nation's blind would greatly benefit by this investment in Braille literacy.
The National Federation of the Blind has committed to raising their share of these funds and promoting Braille literacy with the proceeds. Based on our work with the NFB in the past, I know they are up to this task. I worked very closely with the NFB on the Help America Vote Act, Mr. Hoyer and I both did, and Senators Dodd and Bond and McConnell in the Senate, in order to ensure that voting booths were equipped to allow the blind to vote independently without outside assistance. Their grassroots advocacy and unyielding support on that bill helped that dream become a reality for the nation's blind.

Again with this bill the National Federation of the Blind put their grassroots network into action to build overwhelming support for this commemorative coin. I'm confident this same grassroots network will raise the matching funds required and effectively promote Braille literacy on a nationwide basis with the proceeds from this coin's surcharge.

The National Federation of the Blind currently fosters Braille literacy in a number of ways: from mentoring programs, in which experienced Braille readers as volunteers teach and encourage novices, to publishing instructions for schoolchildren, to research in effective methods of teaching and learning Braille, to one-on-one Braille instruction in residential training centers. Literacy in Braille is emphasized throughout its programs and services as an essential tool for blind persons to participate successfully in modern society.
The Federation emphatically links competence in the basic skills of blindness, like Braille, to its broader understanding of blindness, a condition feared above most others by society. When blindness occurs, the Federation seeks, through its nationwide membership, to reach individuals, children or adults who experience sight loss, to convey the message that while blindness is not sought by anyone, obviously, everyone can successfully handle lack of sight with proper training and alternative skills, combined with a can-do attitude.
But even with that effort, only about 10 percent of blind children are taught Braille. Issuance of the Louis Braille commemorative coin can aid that effort, forming a springboard for a nationwide Braille literacy campaign drawing all these strands together and focusing the joint energy of thousands of volunteers powered by a big idea, resulting in high-profile attention to the literacy crisis amongst the blind while helping this broad volunteer corps to attract social attention to the positive thrust of the Federation.

The story of Braille as a literacy tool and the story of the Federation in emphasizing participation are parallel. Given the proper tools, we humans can overcome apparently insurmountable obstacles and achieve great things. Louis Braille, the man, did so. Hundreds of thousands of blind Americans do so every day. Hundreds of thousands of blind Americans could do so much more if they had the tool of literacy easily at hand and the can-do attitude to accompany it. Honoring Louis Braille and promoting literacy for the blind will have lasting value for our society.

I want to thank Congressman Ben Cardin for his cosponsorship of this important bill, and I want to thank over three hundred-some of our colleagues who have actually signed on to the bill, and I appreciate the gentleman from Massachusetts [Representative Barnie Frank, who spoke on the floor in place of Ben Cardin] being here today on this bill and all the input and work he has done on it. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation to create the Louis Braille commemorative coin and help advance Braille literacy nationwide.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. Cardin: Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2872, and I want to thank my colleague, the gentleman from Ohio, for his leadership on this bill. It has been a pleasure to work with him in advancing this important legislation. I also want to extend my appreciation to Chairman Oxley and Ranking Member Frank, of the Financial Services Committee, for their support.

This bipartisan bill celebrates the achievements of Louis Braille, who created a system of reading and writing for the blind that has gained widespread acceptance since his death more than one hundred fifty years ago. To mark the two hundredth anniversary of his birth in 1809, this bill authorizes the minting of $1 coins bearing the image of Braille himself and emphasizing Braille literacy.

I want to particularly express my deep appreciation to the National Federation of the Blind for their vital advocacy for more than 1.3 million blind persons in the United States. Since its inception in 1940, the National Federation of the Blind has worked tirelessly to battle discrimination, increase public awareness, and develop and support technological advances.

The NFB also distributes the Braille Monitor, a monthly news publication, as well as online resources and a quarterly publication for the parents of blind children. With more than 50,000 members and affiliates in every state across America, NFB has led the way in demonstrating its ability to serve the interests of the blind population. This bill holds special significance for me, as the National Federation of the Blind is headquartered in my congressional district, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Marc Maurer, who has served as president of the National Federation of the Blind for twenty years, has shown exemplary leadership of this organization, as has the NFB's first vice president, Joyce Scanlan, an active member since 1970. Sharon Maneki, president of the Maryland Chapter, has been instrumental in advancing the cause of blind persons throughout our state. I would also like to thank Jesse Hartle of the NFB for his hard work on behalf of the organization. I am pleased to note that H.R. 2872 is cosponsored by the entire Maryland delegation, as well as by more than three hundred members of the House.

The NFB's mission statement declares that “The real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight but the misunderstanding and lack of information which exist.” As part of this mission the NFB has been campaigning to increase awareness of the Braille system of communication. The Braille code became dominant in the United States during the twentieth century, and it served as a gateway to education for the blind. In recent years the Braille code has been in declining use among the blind population. It is currently taught to only about 10 percent of blind students and is usually not taught at all to the elderly.

The NFB holds as one of its major goals the reintroduction of Braille into education for the blind. Braille readers can read up to four hundred words per minute, comparable to the speed of print readers. Braille is also essential for note-taking, mathematics, and the study of foreign languages. Moreover, the computerization of Braille allows users to write much more rapidly than in the past. Commemorating the contributions of Louis Braille is a worthy goal. Increasing awareness of Braille and broadening opportunities for use as an educational tool are two other pivotal goals that this legislation will help achieve.

I want to thank my colleagues for their resounding support of H.R. 2872 and urge the House to help further the legacy of Louis Braille by voting for this bill.

Mr. Oxley: Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2872, the Louis Braille Bicentennial--Braille Literacy Commemorative Coin Act, introduced by my colleague, the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Ney.

Mr. Speaker, I confess I learned something reading this legislation. All of us know some blind people, and all of us, of course, see Braille writing in elevators and elsewhere as we move through our daily lives.

But sitting down and reading the story of the courage and the intelligence it must have taken for a young blind man two hundred years ago in France to fight for an education for himself when many sighted kids his age weren't getting even a high school education is remarkable. And doing it when there were very few books printed for the blind--those only with giant embossed letters--must have been excruciatingly slow and taken a huge amount of self-discipline. To have discovered and modified a method of communication used by the Army into something that could easily be reproduced and read--and more importantly written by the blind, which was not really the case with those giant embossed letters--was a truly revolutionary breakthrough.
As a result, Mr. Speaker, long before the amazing technology that we all take for granted, the blind who were taught to read and write Braille were able to live normal lives and participate fully in society. Still, and this is something else I learned, despite all the independence that reading and writing Braille confers on the blind, only about 10 percent of blind children are taught Braille. Thus I support the provision in the bill that devotes income from surcharges on the sale of these coins to a Braille literacy program operated by the National Federation of the Blind. And I think it is important to note that the silver dollar coins that would be produced under this bill would all bear, on their reverse, a full-sized Braille abbreviation for Braille--the raised dots that form the letters BRL.

Mr. Speaker, this commemorative coin program, like all those that pass through the Financial Services Committee, proceeds at no cost to the taxpayer and requires the beneficiary, in this case the NFB, to raise from private sources an amount equal to or greater than the amount of surcharge income that will be received, and also demands strict post-disbursement audit process to ensure that the funds are used for their statutorily intended purpose. In this case I have no doubt that the NFB can raise the matching funds and will use the income to really very effectively raise the profile of Braille literacy.

And so, Mr. Speaker, noting that 302 members of the House have cosponsored this bill, I urge its immediate passage.

There you have the case for the Louis Braille commemorative coin. It now remains to persuade another thirty members of the U.S. Senate to cosponsor S. 2321, the companion bill to H.R. 2872. When that is accomplished, we can move forward to raise the matching funds to be ready for an intensive effort to increase Braille literacy beginning in 2009. Could we think of a more fitting way to celebrate the life and work of the man who gave every blind person the potential for literacy?

 

Who Was Jacobus tenBroek?

by Lou Ann Blake

From the Editor: Lou Ann Blake is a research specialist who works in the Jacobus tenBroek Library at the NFB Jernigan Institute. Her first assignment has been to sort and catalogue the tenBroek papers and files so that we know what we have and so that scholars can find what they need. As she began her work, she found fascinating documents and information shedding light on the life and work of our founder and beloved first president, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek. She has agreed to share some of these with Monitor readers in the months ahead. Here is her first offering:

Most Federationists know that Dr. Jacobus tenBroek founded the National Federation of the Blind in 1940. However, today in 2006, thirty-eight years after his death from cancer on March 27, 1968, the majority of Federationists may not be aware that Dr. tenBroek was also a constitutional law scholar, a civil rights activist, a leader in the reform of social welfare, and a distinguished national and international humanitarian. From his days as a law student until his death, Dr. tenBroek produced thousands of written documents, including letters, speeches, law review articles, and books. These documents, collectively called the "tenBroek papers" or the "tenBroek files," provide an insight into who the man really was. This article provides a brief overview of the many facets of Dr. tenBroek's personality through documents found in his papers, which are now part of the Jacobus tenBroek Library at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Correspondent

Dr. tenBroek was a prolific writer of letters as evidenced by the thousands of letters, both personal and professional, included in the tenBroek papers. His letters reveal a cheerful, enthusiastic man who didn't take himself too seriously. He often started letters to the NFB executive committee with "Dear Gang." Thank you letters from Dr. tenBroek to participants in the 1966 Institute on the Law of the Poor included phrases such as "you did a bang-up job," and "you were a hit."

Dr. tenBroek's sense of humor is well illustrated in a January 10, 1964, letter in response to an apology from a United States Department of Justice attorney who misspelled Dr. tenBroek's name as "10 Broek" in a citation contained in a Department of Justice brief. Dr. tenBroek wrote, "When it comes to misspelling my name, the ingenuity of man knows no bounds. . . . The truth is that the ten and the Broek used to be separated, but I pushed them together to try to be filed only in one place." Not missing an opportunity to teach, Dr. tenBroek's letter further states, ". . . please be assured that I am not in the slightest degree ruffled by what you did to my name. Truth to tell, I could wish that you had better expounded some of the doctrine in the book, however."

The Leader of the Blind Civil Rights Movement

Dr. tenBroek was both a national and international leader of the blind civil rights movement. After founding the NFB in 1940, he was its president until his resignation in 1961. He was re-elected president in 1966 and remained in that office until his death in 1968. Dr. tenBroek was also president of the American Brotherhood for the Blind, an education and charitable foundation now known as the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, from 1945 until his death. On the international front, in 1964 Dr. tenBroek co-founded the International Federation of the Blind, now known as the World Blind Union, and served as its president until his death. Dr. tenBroek was also a delegate to the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind.

As president of the NFB Dr. tenBroek directed efforts to require sheltered workshops to pay workers a minimum wage, reform the Social Security Act to provide full disability insurance benefits to blind people, and force the United States Civil Service Commission to certify qualified blind people as eligible for civil service jobs. There are hundreds of documents in the tenBroek files related to these efforts.

The tenBroek files contain volumes of correspondence from NFB staff in the Washington, D.C., office that kept Dr. tenBroek informed of all developments relating to legislation supported by the NFB, including the progress of bills through the legislative process and which congressmen supported each bill. The files also contain copies of the testimony by Dr. tenBroek before Congress in support of proposed legislation to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to require a minimum wage for blind workers in sheltered workshops and to amend the Social Security Act to provide full disability insurance benefits to the blind. Correspondence in the files also indicates that Dr. tenBroek frequently traveled to discuss the need for this legislation with government officials in Washington, D.C., and in speeches before state affiliate conventions and professional organizations.

A significant victory achieved by Dr. tenBroek and the NFB was the opening of federal civil service jobs to blind people. This achievement began with the NFB's prosecution in the early 1950’s of the Kletzing v. Mitchell case on the basis that the United States Civil Service Commission's ruling that Russell Kletzing was ineligible for a civil service job simply because he was blind violated federal law prohibiting discrimination because of a physical handicap. While the Kletzing case was lost due to legal maneuvering by the Civil Service Commission, it forced the Commission to meet with NFB officials, and as a result many civil service positions were opened to the blind. Subsequent to the Kletzing case, correspondence from 1958 indicates that Dr. tenBroek had John Taylor, then head of the NFB's Washington, D.C., office, apply for a high-level management position to determine what the physical requirements for the position were and to test the progress that had been made in hiring blind people for civil service positions.

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the NFB worked to have right-to-organize legislation introduced into the United States Congress to prevent state and local government agencies from discriminating against staff members and clients who were members of the NFB, by threatening them with the loss of jobs or services. The purpose of the right-to-organize bill was to protect the right of blind Americans to self-expression through membership in organizations of the blind. The tenBroek files contain many letters sent by Dr. tenBroek, NFB staff, state affiliate presidents, and NFB members urging members of Congress to support the right-to-organize bill. Dr. tenBroek organized the testimony of many NFB members, including himself, before a congressional subcommittee in support of the bill. While it was never passed, the awareness raised as a result of the proposed legislation helped to end the overt discrimination against NFB members by most state and local government agencies.

The Constitutional Rights and Welfare Rights Activist

Many of the social welfare reforms advocated by Dr. tenBroek were based in constitutional law. State residency requirements to receive welfare were among several state and local policies attacked by Dr. tenBroek in this manner. Shortly before his death Dr. tenBroek was actively involved in a Connecticut case, Thompson v. Shapiro, in which the plaintiff claimed that Connecticut's requirement of a one-year period of residency to be eligible to receive public assistance violated her constitutional right of interstate travel.

Letters in the tenBroek files indicate that Dr. tenBroek played an active role in the litigation of the Thompson case through his legal scholarship and leadership skills. A law review article by Dr. tenBroek on the right of free movement and materials prepared for Dr. tenBroek's Institute on the Law of the Poor were used by plaintiff Thompson's attorney to support his argument that state residency requirements were unconstitutional. Following the appeal of the district court verdict to the United States Supreme Court, Dr. tenBroek frequently corresponded with Thompson's lawyer regarding the status of the case, the role of the NFB in the case, and which other organizations would be interested in preparing amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs. Dr. tenBroek took leadership in the submission of amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court by supervising the preparation of the NFB’s brief and by soliciting social welfare organizations to submit briefs. In April 1969 the United States Supreme Court held in Thompson v. Shapiro that state residency requirements to receive welfare benefits violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution because they infringed on the fundamental right of interstate travel and were therefore unconstitutional.

Another constitutional law case in which Dr. tenBroek played a leadership role was Parrish v. Civil Service Commission of Alameda County. Benny Parrish was fired from his job as an Alameda County social worker for refusing to participate in mass early morning inspections of homes of county welfare recipients. Parrish refused to participate in the surprise inspections on the grounds that they violated the welfare recipients’ constitutional rights. After both the trial court and intermediate appellate court found the inspections to be acceptable under the state and federal constitutions, the case was appealed to the California Supreme Court.

Correspondence in the tenBroek files indicates that, when the Parrish case was appealed, Dr. tenBroek took the lead in soliciting amicus curiae briefs in support of Parrish from law schools, social work schools, and civil rights and social welfare organizations. Dr. tenBroek reviewed these briefs with Parrish's attorney for legal sufficiency and accuracy and recommended changes. To improve Parrish's chances of winning at the California Supreme Court, Dr. tenBroek organized the effort to have the court of appeals opinion analyzed in law review journals. In addition, according to correspondence in the files, Dr. tenBroek's article "California's Dual System of Family Law" was used as the basis for the arguments in at least one of the amicus briefs.

On March 27, 1967, the California Supreme Court held that the mass raids were unconstitutional because the county social workers who carried them out did not have consent to search the homes and that Parrish had sufficient grounds for refusing to participate in the raids. Included in the tenBroek files are letters from Dr. tenBroek to law school and social work professors jubilantly announcing this victory, as well as letters of congratulation.

In addition to being a constitutional rights activist, Dr. tenBroek was also a champion of academic freedom, as evidenced by his efforts during the University of California loyalty oath controversy and the free speech movement. On June 24, 1949, the regents of the University of California passed a resolution that the university shall employ no member of the Communist Party. As a result all faculty members were required to sign an oath stating that they supported the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of California and that they were not members of the Communist Party. Documents in the tenBroek files indicate that Dr. tenBroek felt that the loyalty oath seriously impaired academic freedom and jeopardized the tenure system.

In response to the loyalty oath requirement, Dr. tenBroek prepared a resolution for introduction into the university academic senate that describes why the principles of academic freedom and tenure are necessary, the role of the board of regents in protecting these principles, and the necessity to involve the faculty in decisions that affect these principles. Drafts of the resolution, as well as a draft of the statement made by Dr. tenBroek before the academic senate, are included in the files. The northern section of the academic senate adopted portions of the tenBroek resolution as a statement of principles regarding the regents' responsibility to foster academic freedom.

Dr. tenBroek's role as defender and champion of academic freedom and civil rights was again center stage during the 1964 free speech movement on the Berkeley campus. In the fall of 1964 the campus administration informed students that student organizations could no longer set up tables on a campus sidewalk to conduct "political" activities, such as raising funds, distributing literature, and recruiting new members. The inability of students and administration officials to reach a compromise acceptable to both sides resulted in student demonstrations that climaxed with the occupation of Sproul Hall by students on December 2, 1964, and the arrest of 763 of these students the following day. Two weeks after the Sproul Hall sit-in, Dr. tenBroek's address to a student rally was captured in a photograph that appeared on the front page of the December 16, 1964, San Francisco Chronicle. The photograph in the edition of this newspaper that is included in the tenBroek files shows Dr. tenBroek standing on a trashcan and balancing his Braille notes on the head of his son Dutch, with a sea of students listening.

Support by the Berkeley faculty of the students arrested at Sproul Hall was galvanized by Dr. tenBroek and several other professors who prepared a "Suggestion for Dismissal" amicus curiae brief, which was eventually signed by 255 faculty members. Drafts and the final version of this brief, which can be found in the tenBroek files, argue that the charges against the students should be dismissed because United States Supreme Court decisions have justified sit-ins as a means to correct unconstitutional civil wrongs. The brief further argued that issues of academic freedom were involved and that the advocacy and recruitment rights sought by the students had been primarily directed to civil rights purposes. While the arrested students lost their case, the right of students to engage in political activity on campus was fully restored by the university.

The Professor at the University of California, Berkeley

Correspondence in the tenBroek files indicates that, from the beginning of his academic career as a University of California at Berkeley student, Dr. tenBroek's goal was to become a university professor. To achieve his goal, Dr. tenBroek earned an undergraduate degree in history in 1934, a graduate degree in political science in 1935, a law degree in 1938, and a doctorate of law degree in 1940.
After spending one year at Harvard Law School on a Brandeis Fellowship and two years working as a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, Dr. tenBroek returned to his alma mater in 1942 as an instructor in the speech department. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1946, associate professor in 1947, and full professor in 1953. He was chairman of the speech department from 1953 to 1961. In 1963 he transferred to the political science department, where he remained until his death. In addition to teaching, he was also actively involved in the administration of the university, serving in the academic senate and on the Academic Freedom and Privilege and the Tenure Committees.

Correspondence in the tenBroek files clearly reveals that Dr. tenBroek was extremely popular with students and that the role of teacher was one he relished. In a September 24, 1965, letter to his son Dutch, written at the end of the first week of classes, Dr. tenBroek says, "The overall university enrollment declined a little--that in my classes skyrocketed. On the first day students were strewn on the floor in the aisles, in the doorways, and for some distance out in the halls." The high regard students had for Dr. tenBroek is further evidenced by the many requests for letters of recommendation to graduate schools and for employment and the recommendations that appear in the files. The overflowing classrooms and many requests for letters of recommendation occurred in spite of the fact that the grade books in the tenBroek files indicate that Dr. tenBroek was a tough grader, giving out mostly C’s with few B’s and A’s.

The high esteem in which students held Dr. tenBroek is also poignantly revealed by the many letters he received when he was forced by his cancer to go on sick leave one week after the start of the 1967 fall quarter. One student wrote, "I wanted to tell you how grateful I am to have been able to have taken two courses taught by you last quarter." Dr. tenBroek's reply to many of these letters expressed his love for teaching. In a reply to one student he wrote, "As you doubtless realize, I greatly enjoyed my teaching and work with students. Indeed I have been fortunate among men in the satisfaction I have derived from my work. Your letter is ample testimony that many of my students reciprocated my feeling of friendship and support with them."

The Humanitarian and Public Servant

In addition to his work associated with the University of California and organizations of the blind, Dr. tenBroek also worked with many government agencies and private organizations to improve the lives of blind people and the poor. There are many folders of documents in the tenBroek files related to his membership on the California State Social Welfare Board (SSWB) from 1950 until 1963. He also served as chairman of the SSWB from 1960 to 1963. In addition, he worked as a consultant to many other state and federal welfare agencies and legislative committees. The files also contain many documents related to his long tenure as a member of the President's Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped.

In addition to all of his other tasks, Dr. tenBroek found the time to work with private organizations to provide financial assistance and equipment to blind undergraduate and graduate students. His long association with the Associated Business Girls of California not only provided blind university students with Braillers and tape recorders, but also produced a significant quantity of delightful correspondence.

In 1966 Dr. tenBroek became a member of the Special Advisory Committee to the Smithsonian Institution on an experimental exhibit for the blind. Correspondence between him and Smithsonian officials as well as with his son Dutch indicates that he convinced Smithsonian officials that, rather than provision of a separate exhibit for the blind, the regular exhibits should be made more accessible so that blind people could examine the objects in the collection along with other members of the general public. To this end he provided feedback on what objects would be most appropriate to make accessible.

The Scholar and Orator

As part of his work as first a law student and later a university professor, Dr. tenBroek found the time to produce a considerable number of articles for law review and other scholarly publications in addition to several books. Articles written by Dr. tenBroek that can be found in the files include "The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled in the Law of Torts," published in the California Law Review in 1966; "Sheltered Workshops for the Physically Disabled," published in the Journal of Urban Law in 1966; and "California's Dual System of Family Law: Its Origins, Development, and Present Status," published in the Stanford Law Review as a series of articles in 1964 and 1965. Books authored by Dr. tenBroek that may be found in the files include Prejudice, War and the Constitution, coauthored with Edward Barnhart and Floyd Matson and published in 1954; Hope Deferred, coauthored with Floyd Matson and published in 1959; and Equal Under Law, published in 1965. Prejudice, War and the Constitution won the 1955 Woodrow Wilson Award as the best book on government and democracy.

Dr. tenBroek was recognized as an inspirational orator. During the 1960’s he typically gave about twenty-five speeches each year. The files include drafts and final copies of many of his speeches, including the well known "Within the Grace of God" and "Cross of Blindness," which were delivered at the 1956 and 1957 NFB annual conventions.

The tenBroek Legacy

The tenBroek files are a testimony to what an extraordinary man Dr. Jacobus tenBroek was. He was a leader in the blind civil rights movement and the reform of social welfare, a constitutional law scholar, a humanitarian, and a beloved university professor. Through the documents contained in the tenBroek files, his legacy will continue. All Federationists can be inspired by and take great pride in the life and legacy of this extraordinary man.

 

A Quick Introduction to the Hilton Anatole Hotel

by Mary Ellen Jernigan

From the Editor: Those who have never attended a national convention often express qualms at the prospect of walking into a completely unfamiliar hotel in which they will have to travel efficiently enough for a week to get to the meetings and seminars on time, locate and use restaurants, and find their own guest rooms and those of friends. The Hilton Anatole is by all accounts a spectacularly beautiful and very large facility. Those of us who have attended national conventions before and lived to tell the tale have learned that one can do several things to help with the job of mastering the floor plan.

Taking a few minutes to absorb the sort of information that appears in the following article is perhaps the most constructive step one can take. If you simply read through it once quickly, you are likely to feel like taking two aspirin and going to bed. Instead I suggest that, like me, those interested in shortening the learning curve at the hotel this summer read slowly and attentively through the article, memorizing the facts about where various meeting rooms and restaurants can be found and building a rough mental map of the facility based on the information offered. Good luck with this exercise, and have fun at the convention. By the end of the week we will all know where we are going and even how to get there efficiently.

The Hilton Anatole consists of two main sections—the Atrium and the Tower. The Atrium section is further divided into Atrium I and Atrium II. At the lobby and mezzanine levels Atrium I, Atrium II, and the Tower are connected so that you can walk from Atrium I at the far east end of the hotel through Atrium II and into the Tower at the far west end of the hotel as if it were one building.

At levels above the mezzanine, Atrium I and Atrium II are contiguous with each other but not with the Tower—that is, to reach the sleeping rooms, you must use either the Atrium elevators or the Tower elevators depending on which section your room is located in. The Tower sleeping room elevators do not stop at the mezzanine level. The Atrium sleeping room elevators stop at the mezzanine level, and you can reach the mezzanine level meeting rooms above the Atrium I lobby, the Atrium II lobby, and the Tower lobby. However, a flight of six or eight steps links the Atrium II mezzanine and the Tower mezzanine. If these steps are a problem, you can take a separate, single elevator that goes from the Tower lobby to the Tower mezzanine level. This elevator is located just west of the business center in the Tower lobby. At the west end of the Tower mezzanine is a stairway that leads to the Tower lobby. When you come down this stairway, you are facing east, and the Chantilly Ballroom is slightly ahead and on your right.

Atrium I is the farthest-east section of the hotel and sits slightly south of Atrium II. Think of the entire hotel as a high-top tennis shoe lying on its side with the sole facing north, the toe pointing west, and the open top facing south. The right angle formed by the back of the shoe meeting the sole in the hotel architecture is actually cut on the diagonal so that when entering the hotel, you are facing southwest. Atrium I is much shorter in its north-south dimension than are Atrium II and the Tower on the east-west axis. After stepping into the main entrance, a left turn takes you towards the check-in desk and Atrium I. A right turn takes you towards Atrium II. Continuing west through Atrium II leads you to the Tower lobby.

If you are standing with your back to the check-in desk, you are facing west. Atrium I is on your left, and Atrium II is slightly to your right and straight ahead. The Atrium elevators and stairway and escalators to the mezzanine-level meeting rooms are located across from the Atrium front desk and main entrance in the general area where the two Atria join.

The lobby level of Atrium I and Atrium II contains many meeting rooms, shops, restaurants, bars, and the Grand Ballroom, which is located on the south side of Atrium II. The Khmer Pavilion is located roughly above the Grand Ballroom.

The Atrium II lobby joins the Tower lobby just beyond the west end of the Grand Ballroom foyer. At this juncture there are a small fountain and a few steps going down, followed by a short walkway and then a few steps going up again. If these steps are a problem, a wheelchair corridor bypass can be accessed from the west end of the Grand Ballroom foyer. A number of areas in the hotel have a few steps, which at first glance would seem to make parts of the facility inaccessible, but they all appear to have work-arounds of some sort.

The Terrace Restaurant (open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week) is located on the west wall of Atrium I. The Common Ground self-service café; La Esquina Cantina and Tequila Bar (described as Mexican cantina food with South-of-the-Border soul); the Crocodile Disco; and the 214 Bar are located in Atrium II. The Rathskeller Sports Bar and Restaurant and the Gossip Bar are located in the Tower lobby. The five-star Nana Restaurant is located on the twenty-seventh floor of the Tower.

The board meeting and convention general sessions will be held in the Chantilly Ballroom, located in the Tower lobby. Exhibits will be in the Khmer Pavilion. NFB aids and appliances and literature will be located in the Grand Ballroom. Breakout meeting rooms are located in all three lobbies and on the mezzanine level.

An exit at the west end of the Tower lobby leads to the beautifully landscaped seven-acre Anatole sculpture park containing outdoor walking and jogging trails.

Now that you have reached the end of this article, go back to the beginning and read it again. It really will make more sense the second time through. When you get to the Hilton Anatole, you will be glad you did.

 

A Tiny Incident with Mammoth Implications, or an Aberrant but Dismissible Bully?

by Marc Maurer

In the 1980’s officials on many airlines noticed that disabled passengers were part of the traveling public. Apparently the number of disabled people flying on airplanes had increased, and airline personnel concluded that a procedure for managing the increased passenger load must be adopted. Disability rights had been in the news, and the 1973 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act had included provisions intended to ensure access for the disabled to many programs.

Without consulting the blind, many of the airlines established rules that we were required to follow. Examples of these rules include the following: blind people must sit in bulkhead seats; blind people must sit at the back of the plane; blind people must sit in window seats; blind people must sit in aisle seats; blind people must board planes after other passengers have taken their seats; blind people must board planes before other passengers are permitted on board; blind people must remain on planes when they have reached their destinations until other passengers have departed; blind passengers must sit on blankets in case of incontinence; and blind people must not sit in exit row seats. This is not a complete list. There were also many rules about white canes, guide dogs, required safety briefings, required assistance from airline personnel, and the like. Some airlines demanded that, if we were to fly at all, we must have sighted companions.

Some said we must register with the airlines in advance of travel. Some wanted us to provide information for their disability services coordinators. The implication of these rules was that the airlines knew what was good for us, and we would do as we were told.
It is not surprising that the blind rejected such custodial behavior. When we were told that we must sit in the bulkhead seats, we demanded our right as free citizens to sit at the back of the plane. We insisted that our canes not be taken from us and that we have the same freedom of movement that other passengers possess. Confrontations grew; lawsuits were filed; legislation was proposed. One result was that the Air Carrier Access Act became law in 1986. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) often sided with the airlines. After a tremendous struggle most of the restrictions were lifted. The only major one that remains is a prohibition for blind people to sit in exit row seats. Nevertheless, some airline officials behave as if none of the legislation, none of the regulatory argument, and none of the history of struggle took place. Recently airline personnel seem to have forgotten that the blind have the same rights to travel and to move that others have.

When Judy Sanders was coming to the 2006 Washington Seminar, she tried to avoid being required to sit in a bulkhead row seat on Air Tran Airways. She ran into belligerence, stubbornness, and authoritarianism. If her experience marks a trend, conflict in the airways will return. If it is only the bullying behavior of an untutored airline official, perhaps it can be shrugged off and laid in the dust of history. However, we are not inclined to accept without a murmur the decision of airline personnel that our rights and our wishes are less important than those of other passengers.

Here is the letter from Judy Sanders setting forth the details of the incident she encountered:

Minneapolis, Minnesota
February 14, 2006

Joe Leonard, President/CEO, Air Tran Airways
Orlando, Florida

Dear Mr. Leonard:

This letter is to bring to your attention a most unfortunate incident which occurred on your airline. On January 29 I was traveling from Minneapolis through Atlanta to Washington, D.C., on flights 853 and 186. The Minneapolis ticket agent asked me if I would prefer a window or aisle seat. I said that my only preference was to avoid the bulkhead. I was assigned seat 10F for both flights. I am assuming that, because I am totally blind, the ticket agent chose to ignore my request for a nonbulkhead seat.

The first flight was uneventful; I accepted the fact that I was in the bulkhead. When I arrived in Atlanta, a well-intentioned employee of Air Tran met me at the jetway to offer some unwanted, unneeded, and unasked-for assistance in getting to my next gate. Some blind passengers would appreciate this assistance; others find it unnecessary. The airlines that handle this the best are those that let us ask for help. After successfully evading your kind employee, I went for food and then to my next gate.

This is where I struck up a conversation with another passenger. I was telling him how I had ended up in the bulkhead when I specifically asked to sit elsewhere. He indicated a desire to sit in row ten, so we agreed to switch seats--he was assigned row 11D. We were both happy.

We boarded and were about to take our seats when a flight attendant told me that I would not be allowed to switch seats because I am blind and would be required to sit in the bulkhead window seat. I demurred and said that row eleven would be fine. The attendant went for assistance in the person of Jon Boling, the customer service supervisor. By the time Mr. Boling arrived, we had taken our preferred seats. Mr. Boling reiterated the demand that I move to the bulkhead, and I asserted my right to stay where I was. I asked for a written copy of the supposed regulation that required me to move; I offered to put my white cane by the window; none of that was acceptable. I was not given anything in writing, and he did not care about the cane. His objection was that I would block the exit of the passengers sitting on my right in case of an emergency evacuation. He said I had to sit in my assigned seat even though I have frequently seen people switch seats.

Mr. Boling was ready to remove me from the plane; however, the situation resolved itself when my new friend said he wanted his original seat back. I agreed, and everyone but me was satisfied.

I was quite concerned about my flights home. Mr. Boling kept stressing that I had to sit in my assigned seat. Therefore I used a computer to choose my seats for the return journey. I had 16D on flights 185 and 858. The flights were two of the most pleasant that I have had. This is so because I was treated like a normal passenger; the crew was courteous and respectful and provided excellent service to all its passengers. They paid no special attention to me in my aisle seat.

I have waited several days to write this letter. When I came home, I was extremely angry and decided that I would be more rational if I waited. I am calling this to your attention so that you can show some leadership in directing your personnel in how to treat blind passengers. Toward this end I would like to suggest that you contact the National Federation of the Blind for assistance in an education program for your employees. You should contact Dr. Marc Maurer, president, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; phone (410) 659-9314.

Let us hope that such incidents will be nonexistent in the future. Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
Judy Sanders

In mid March an Air Tran vice president called Judy to assure her that Air Tran has no company policy on where blind passengers should sit. He commented that the airline needs organization-wide disability training. He then asked what they could do to keep her business. Would she like to be upgraded to business class on her next several flights? She replied that the only thing that would solve the problem would be effective training, and she offered to arrange to have the NFB provide it to the airline. She also mentioned that a large group of Minnesotans would be traveling to Dallas this summer, and perhaps a group rate could be worked out. Such a trip would give some Air Tran staff, at least, on-the-job training. The vice president said that he would have someone from the group sales desk get in touch with her to explore the possibilities. Nothing more has been heard from Air Tran. But we now know for certain that no Air Tran policy exists requiring blind passengers to sit in certain seats. Let the blind flying public beware.

 

Golden Opportunity

by Todd Eliason

From the Editor: The following article was published in Success from Home, Volume 2, Issue 1. This publication is sold on newsstands. Each issue is devoted to a different company. The following article is reprinted with permission.

For many years Sharon Gold was president of the NFB of California. She has also served on the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind. She now lives in Texas, where she conducts a very successful business from home. Here is the story:

It took Sharon Gold only five months to make a six-figure income, but this EcoQuest star likes it when the light shines on others.

Sharon Gold is blind. Now that that’s out of the way, she’d prefer you not bring it up again. The last thing this strong, independent woman wants or needs is your sympathy—she’s doing just fine. Thank you. Blind since birth, Sharon has never let her condition slow her down. “I don’t tell people I’m blind because I don’t want them to have any preconceived notions. When I meet them, they’ll obviously find out, and when they see that I can do most everything they can do, they’re very accepting of me,” she says. That steely determination and internal fortitude have helped the former schoolteacher build a thriving EcoQuest business that has provided her the freedom to once again help others reach their potential.

For twenty years Sharon was an elementary schoolteacher at Edwards Air Force Base in California, working to shape and mold young minds; and she enjoyed what she did. “I loved the kids. They were so interesting because they had traveled so much and brought interesting ideas and stories to the classroom that I found very refreshing and enlightening. It was fun.”

She then became a reading specialist and found that experience to be very inspiring. “I’d take kids who were three years behind, and I’d bring them up to at least a year ahead. I thought that was very rewarding, too,” she said.

After two successful decades in the school system, however, Sharon took on a project close to her heart—she was elected president of the National Federation of the Blind of California, a nonprofit organization. “I defended the rights of blind people to have a job,” Sharon recounts. “People think that blindness is a big issue. They think if you can’t see, somehow you’re less of a person.”

As a result Sharon often doesn’t tell people she’s blind, choosing to let her actions do the talking for her. “I travel with a cane; I use Braille; I’m able to cook and clean my home--except that I don’t have to clean my house anymore.” Sharon says laughing. A maid service is just one of the perks she’s enjoyed from her successful EcoQuest business. In fact, her search for a cleaner environment for her home was what initially brought Sharon to the Tennessee-based company. “I had terrible allergies and was all stuffed up and taking two or three allergy shots a week—and they weren’t doing me any good.”

When Sharon met an EcoQuest distributor at a business seminar, he suggested she get involved in his company. “I said, ‘I’ve bought about every indoor air filtration system out there, and I’ve thrown every one of them away.’

“And he replied in a very quiet voice, `You won’t throw this Living Air system away.’ His quiet confidence got my attention, and so I thought maybe I should hear what he had to say,” Sharon recalls.

Sharon decided, if she liked the product, she would do the business. “I then put one unit in my house and one in my office, and I couldn’t believe the difference. So I purchased a Success Pack to get my business started. I was convinced that I could sell six of anything,” she said.

Sharon’s initial goal with her EcoQuest business was modest. “I was just looking for some part-time income. But all of a sudden I started receiving huge checks, and I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It took me just five months to make a six-figure income.” And she’s now on her fifth bonus car. “I have a lot of people who want to help chauffeur me around,” Sharon says about her car, which the company provides.

Sharon believes training is the key to success for those new to the business. “We try to get new recruits to come to what we call success initiatives so that they can see what the company is all about and how it operates,” she says. “I also like them to tune in to our Lifeline Calls and listen to our CEO Mike Jackson tell the story of the company. Our corporate leaders are very much involved in helping them become a success.”

And just as she did selflessly for twenty years as a schoolteacher, Sharon is once again helping others grow in unique ways. “You meet the nicest people in this business. I tell people that they are not only going to make money in this business, they’re also going to make a lot of good friends to help them learn and grow and build their organizations. And that’s really important.”

 

The New GED Tests

by Doris M. Willoughby

From the Editor: Doris Willoughby is a distinguished blindness educator, who lives in the Denver area and teaches at the Colorado Center for the Blind. The following article brings together valuable information for anyone interested in helping blind people earn this important credential. She hopes other educators in this field will contact her. This is what she says:

From time to time I plan to write an article about the GED (General Educational Development, or high school equivalency) Tests or Adult Basic Education. This article will describe materials and methods that we have been using at the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB). The November 2002 Braille Monitor showed two of our graduates, and we frequently have students working toward the GED. I hope to contact other teachers and students with experience preparing for the GED.

The Test Itself

The GED test is available and recognized throughout the United States. It is actually a battery of five tests: Language Arts, Writing (partly multiple-choice, partly essay); Reading; Social Studies; Science; and Mathematics.

The GED Testing Service, which is part of the American Council on Education, provides the test and its rules. The individual states vary somewhat in details of how the test is administered. In Colorado, for example, community colleges and other adult-education centers give the test, but they are strictly regulated by the Colorado Department of Education. If you do not know where to find a test site, inquire of your state department of education.

Accommodations

Typical accommodations related to blindness include: Braille edition, audiocassette edition, large-print edition, talking calculator, scribe, private room, and extended time. On the old GED test (before 2002), the use of a live reader was expressly prohibited. We in the NFB made an effort to change this, but did not succeed. The manual for the new (2000) test, however, states that the use of a reader may be approved on a case-by-case basis.

One of my students did apply for use of a reader. We wrote a rather detailed "justification," and the request was approved. Unfortunately, however, that student ultimately did not proceed with the actual test.

I would like to know whether anyone else has successfully requested the use of a live reader, received permission, and proceeded with the test. A scribe, a live person to record answers, is typically approved without question.

As one might expect, misunderstandings and errors sometimes occur in arranging accommodations. A notable problem is that, since one-and-one-half the standard amount of time is typical for people with learning disabilities (and using inkprint), officials often specify this time increase for anyone asking for extended time--this in spite of the GED Examiner's Manual clearly stating that twice the standard amount of time is usual for a taped or Braille test. Some students have had to reapply, with a cover letter, in order to receive the accommodation they deserve. Since diabetes is a major cause of blindness, some applicants need to consider the possibility of a reaction during the test. The student would typically need to stop, eat something, and take some time to recover. One of my students applied for the accommodation of "frequent supervised breaks," enclosing a letter from his doctor. The approval came back to allow him to "test for fifteen minutes and then take a ten-minute break." In other words they want him to schedule his reactions according to their plan! We considered this incredible response and decided to ask for three times the standard testing time. This was approved, and I suggest this approach for anyone subject to frequent diabetic reactions or any other condition that is likely to require interrupting the test at unpredictable intervals.

Whether or not there are disagreements, the process of receiving approval for accommodations is often slow. The student is well advised to apply for accommodations as soon as he or she decides to pursue the GED, rather than waiting until almost ready for testing.

How to Go about Studying

Some GED applicants are very strong academically, having had circumstances or problems that kept them from receiving a diploma. Other applicants have had almost no education (like an immigrant from a developing country) or an education so poor that it takes years to reach the GED testing level. Most are somewhere in-between. In a community of any size, some schools will offer GED preparation to the general public.

Testing is available continually (in contrast with tests such as the ACT, which are offered only on infrequent, specific dates). Some schools, especially in urban areas, are accustomed to including blind students. Many, however, will have no experience with blindness. Moreover, it is increasingly common for there to be no actual classes--instead, the work is done individually on a computer (where accessibility may be doubtful).

Independent study is entirely possible, especially for stronger students. Students can take practice tests in each of the five areas, and then proceed with any indicated strengthening. GED study books are generally oriented toward independent study, with plenty of practice questions and answers.

Preparation--with or without a teacher--needs to involve alternative techniques in addition to the kind of preparation needed by everyone. How will the applicant handle long, detailed passages with complex questions afterward? How will the essay be done?

Materials Available

January of 2002 brought a complete revision of the GED test battery. All old, partial scores became obsolete. A flurry of new study materials (in inkprint and on computer) followed the change. However, a considerable time lag has occurred in the production of study materials usable by blind students. Old study materials (from before 2000) are still usable in many respects, since the new version really brought relatively few changes in content. However, we certainly want to use new study materials whenever possible.

New tape-recorded study materials are available from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), which charges a modest fee for enrollment and for annual renewal.

Most study materials contain pretests and post-tests. Also, the Steck-Vaughn publishing company offers a set of official practice tests in taped form (as well as large and regular print).

Computer-based study materials are becoming increasingly common. I have not used these thus far and would like to hear from students and teachers who have.

New Braille materials have been slower in becoming available. There now is at least one: GED Basics (Third Edition), by Nancy Lawrence, published by ARCO. It is relatively compact for a book covering all five tests, having only 234 pages in inkprint. This book is available for loan through the National Library Service. It may also be purchased through the American Printing House for the Blind (APH).

The Minnesota State Services for the Blind has produced a number of Brailled study materials. Minnesota educational institutions are entitled to them, and those in other states can purchase them.

As a sighted teacher (although literate in Braille and able to use tapes) I find it convenient to obtain for myself an inkprint copy of the main materials used by my students. Also, of course, inkprint study materials can be read aloud or Brailled by anyone assisting the student.

Study materials labeled "GED" generally assume that the student begins at essentially the high school level—ninth grade or above. A student whose starting level is below ninth grade will need materials called "Pre-GED" (or perhaps "Adult Basic Education").

Let's Pool Our Resources

I would like to collect information about methods, materials, successes, and problems. I would also like to know of other teachers or agencies that have successfully prepared students for GED testing. Let's compare notes. Please write to me at Doris M. Willoughby, 1279 W. Ridge Road, Littleton, Colorado 80120; or telephone (303) 424-7373; or email <dorwill@dimcom.net>.

REFERENCES

American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, Kentucky 40206
(800) 223-1839

GED Testing Service
American Council on Education
One DuPont Circle NW
Washington, DC 20036-1163

McGraw-Hill/Contemporary
4255 W. Touhy Avenue
Lincolnwood, Illinois 60712

Minnesota State Services for the Blind
2200 University Avenue West
St. Paul, Minnesota 55114
(651) 642-0500

National Library Service for the Blind
and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
Library of Congress
1291 Taylor Street NW
Washington, DC 20542
(Note that at least one affiliated local library exists for every state.)

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D)
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
(800) 221-4792

Steck-Vaughn Company
P. O. Box 690789
Orlando, Florida 32819-0789
(800) 531-5015

 

Top Ten Tips for a Successful Convention Trip with a Guide Dog

by Melissa Riccobono

From the Editor: The following article first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2005 issue of Harness Up, the publication of the National Association of Guide Dog Users. Melissa Riccobono is an exemplary guide dog user. She has slightly revised her article for publication in the Braille Monitor in preparation for the 2006 national convention. It contains valuable advice for all of us, guide dog and cane users alike. This is what she says:

The NFB national convention--there's absolutely nothing like it! The energy, the meetings, the people, the late nights and early mornings... I can honestly say it's the busiest, craziest week I'll spend all year. I've been going to the NFB national convention for the last seven years, and every year I swear I'll try to get more sleep and eat meals more regularly so that I won't get so exhausted, but somehow that never works out. And actually I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't feel as if I was at convention unless I was a part of the crazy, chaotic convention experience.

Yet in the midst of the chaos and the hectic schedule, I need to stop and take the convention experience of someone else into account. That someone is my nine-year-old black lab, Fanta. Fanta has been coming to conventions with me from the beginning, and I know it's a hectic, stressful week for her. But over the years I've learned a lot about Fanta at convention, and I've realized some things I can do to make this week in July as easy as possible for her. I'd like to share my top ten tips with guide dog users in hopes that some of them will help to make convention easier for your dogs. I'm sure many of you already do some or all of these things, but I hope you will read this article to the end, because it never hurts to be reminded of the small things we can do to make our dogs' convention experiences more enjoyable.

Tip 1. Decide if Convention Is the Right Place for Your Dog.

This seems obvious, but I encourage you to take a few minutes now to think about whether the national convention is the right place to take your dog. I believe you should do this especially if you've never taken your dog to convention before. Ask yourself the following questions.

Is your dog extremely stressed in big crowds of people?
Is your dog afraid of canes?
Does your dog get along with other dogs, or does he or she tend to be aggressive toward them?
Is your dog easily distracted by other dogs?
How long have you and your dog been together?
Are you confident in your ability to work well as a team?

Bear in mind that convention is full of crowds of people, many of them swinging long white canes back and forth, as well as many other guide dogs. If your dog exhibits extreme stress in large crowds; is afraid of canes; or is aggressive toward, afraid of, or distracted by other dogs, convention is probably not a good place for him or her to be. In my opinion convention is also not likely to be a good place for a new guide dog team. I would recommend a team be together at least four months before attending a convention, but of course this varies from one team to another. Some teams jell after only a month or so, while others might take a year to really settle down and work their best together.

Think about how well you and your dog work together and how stress makes you act and react toward your dog. If you become upset and stressed in crowded, noisy situations and you transmit these feelings to your dog, convention would probably be a good place to brush up on your cane skills.

If you're wondering whether or not you should take your dog to national convention, I suggest you talk with someone who takes or has taken his or her dog to convention. Such a person can give you many more details about what convention is like than I can in this article. In fact, perhaps talking to two or more people would be helpful since everyone's experience is slightly different.

Tip 2. Treat Your Dog for Fleas before You Leave Home.

So, you've decided to take your dog to convention. Now it's time to pack and get ready to go. I would suggest treating your dog for fleas before you get on the plane. This will insure that you won't bring any unpleasant little critters to the hotel with you. It also means you will not pass fleas on to other dogs, and your dog will be protected in case someone else isn't as considerate.

Tip 3. Orient Yourself to the Hotel to Make Life Easier for You and Your Dog

OK, so you've decided to take your dog to convention, and you've treated your dog for fleas. Now you've arrived in a huge hotel, and you don't know where anything is. I recommend devoting some time to orient yourself to the hotel as soon as possible after arriving. I always bring a cane with me to convention, and often I heel my dog and walk around with my cane a bit. This helps me get a better feel for the hotel, and it helps me give Fanta clearer, more confident directions. Walking somewhere with my cane also allows me to point things out to Fanta. This may help her remember where something is later. I find that the more I wander around, trying to find something, the more confused both Fanta and I become. This doesn't help either of us. Do I still get lost, even after walking around the hotel with my cane a bit? Absolutely! That's unavoidable, but I believe that using my cane a little in the beginning is still helpful.

Tip 4. Remember Your Dog's Needs as Well as Your Own

Convention is a busy time for everyone. It's one week out of the year when I usually don't eat regular or healthy meals. But I always try to keep Fanta's food and water needs in the back of my mind. I suggest trying to keep your dog's feeding schedule as normal as possible. If that means leaving a meeting a little early or getting somewhere a little late, at least you'll have a happy dog who has been fed to take with you. Keeping a regular feeding schedule also helps with relieving, as I'm sure all of you know.

If you know you're not going to get back to your room to feed your dog, bring the food with you when you leave your room in the morning. This way you can always feed your dog in the rest room if necessary.

Convention meeting rooms can get warm. I usually carry a water bottle and a portable dog dish with me so that I can give Fanta water in case she gets thirsty before we return to our room. I usually look at food and water at convention this way. Am I hungry? How late is it? Is Fanta hungry too? Has she gotten all of her food today? Am I thirsty? Is Fanta thirsty too? How long has it been since she's had water?

Tip 5. Relieve Your Dog Often.

I cannot emphasize this tip enough. During convention your dog does a lot of walking. He or she is also relieving in a strange place with lots of distractions. Even if I don't think Fanta has to go, I usually take her to the relieving area at every opportunity. Over the years she has surprised me more than once by relieving even when I didn't think she would have to. Giving your dog as many opportunities as possible to relieve means you will be less likely to have an accident to clean up. Remember, both stress and activity cause dogs to relieve more often, so my advice is to relieve your dog even more than you ordinarily do at home.

Tip 6. Clean up after Your Dog

Cleaning up after your dog in the relief area is your responsibility. If you do, you leave the area clean for the next team who uses it. I also find it useful to clean up after Fanta at convention because that enables me to keep track of what she does and how often.

Convention is a stressful place. When Fanta has gotten an upset stomach, it was helpful for me to pick up after her and realize what was happening. I could then watch her carefully and pay attention even more closely to her relieving needs.

If your dog does have an accident of any kind, do your best to clean it up yourself immediately. Always carrying extra plastic bags and paper towels for this purpose is a good idea. Never just walk away from a mess because you’re embarrassed it happened and hope that no one will notice that you were responsible. If it happens late at night, when few people are about, you should request assistance from a member of the hotel staff. If you are faced with this problem during the day or early evening, try to find a passer-by to ask an NFB staff member with a two-way radio to notify the relief-area staff to come to your assistance. Alternatively someone could go to the relief area for you and summon help. A volunteer could also stand over the problem area, protecting other people from stepping into it while you go to find a relief worker. To preserve our good relationship with hotel personnel, we must always try to prevent accidents whenever possible and to deal with them within the organization whenever we can.

Tip 7. Keep Your Dog Out of the Way.

This can be tough, especially with a big dog in a relatively small space, but do what you can to keep your dog out of the aisle. Your dog will be much happier if he or she is not stepped on, and people who are trying to get from place to place will appreciate having a free space to walk. Fanta has actually become accustomed to curling up as tightly as possible at convention. When I'm sitting, I push her as far back under my chair as she'll go. At times she's even positioned herself sideways under my chair so that very little of her sticks out. Of course she has an advantage because she's a smaller lab, but even big dogs can be slid under a chair at least a little.

Try also to keep your dog out of the way in your hotel room, especially if you're sharing the room with other people. I usually try to designate a corner for Fanta in my room out of the way as much as possible. If need be, I can put her on her tie down or leash in that corner and know she won't be stepped on and can relax.

Tip 8. Beware of Food.

Convention is a place where many people raise money by selling candy bars, peanuts, crackers, and many other snacks. People also bring food into general sessions with them to eat if they get hungry. Inevitably food drops on the floor, which is at the least distracting and at the worst dangerous for your dog, especially if chocolate is involved. Keep track of what your dog is doing when you walk. If he or she is sniffing or has stopped to pick something up, investigate right away. When you're sitting in meetings, make sure to hold onto your dog's leash at all times and keep track of what he or she is doing.

I learned this the hard way. I once gave Fanta's leash to a friend for a few minutes, got up, and ran an errand using my cane. When I came back, my friend told me apologetically that Fanta had turned herself around, crawled on her stomach completely underneath my chair to the row behind me, and eaten a muffin that someone had in a bag under her chair. This was very embarrassing because I felt really bad that my dog had eaten someone's breakfast. I offered to buy the person a new muffin, but she wouldn't let me. Luckily she was a dog lover and didn't seem too bothered by the whole thing. But I was embarrassed. I was also worried that Fanta would get sick from the muffin. This experience taught me to be more careful of whom I leave Fanta with or whether to leave her at all. Am I saying that Fanta would not have gotten the muffin if I had been there? No. I might have let my guard down and stopped paying attention, so it might have happened anyway. But, let me tell you, this lesson has taught me to pay attention to where Fanta is during meetings. If I can help it, I never want her to get a muffin or any other unintended food again.

One more word about food. If you're fundraising yourself or sharing a room with someone who's fundraising, make sure that whatever you're selling is kept out of your dog's reach. This is only common sense, but it's easy to forget about putting food out of reach when you're unpacking and thinking of a million other things. And the person you share a room with may not be used to dogs, so a gentle reminder from you to keep food in a drawer or on a high closet shelf won't hurt.

Tip 9. Give Your Dog Breaks.

Convention is a stressful place for dogs and people alike. Make sure you give your dog breaks from the hustle and bustle whenever possible. Even fifteen minutes in your room off leash or on tie down can be very helpful for relieving your dog's stress level. Make sure you pack some type of toy for your dog to chew or play with during these breaks. Fanta loves her bone and her Kong, and I make sure they are both in my convention suitcase. Don't leave your dog alone, however, when you are giving him or her a break. Dogs left alone, especially those who may be under some stress already, are more likely to chew, bark, whine, etc. Also hotel housekeeping staff will often refuse to clean a room with an unattended dog inside. So, if you really feel your dog needs a break and you can't take a break yourself, try to find someone you know and trust who wouldn't mind keeping your dog in a quiet place for a while.

Tip 10. Listen to What Your Dog Is Telling You.

One of the best things about dogs is their ability to communicate. This is very helpful during guide work and makes me feel great when Fanta says she loves me. This communication is especially important at convention. Listen to what your dog is telling you. As much as possible try to be patient with your dog as he or she navigates big crowds. If he or she seems hesitant, don't just urge or correct him or her forward without checking whether or not your dog wants you to avoid something. This can be challenging, especially if you're lost or in a hurry to get somewhere, but it will make convention easier for both of you.

In meetings make sure you pay attention to your dog's behavior. Is he or she panting, whining, or restless? Is this normal behavior? If not, pay attention to that behavior. Does your dog need to relieve? Is he or she thirsty? Does he or she need a break? Be a detective and try to figure out and take care of your dog's needs. It will make him or her, you, and those around you more comfortable.
As I say, these ten tips are common sense, but I appreciate your taking the time to read to the end of this article anyway. I appreciate the fact that you care so much about your dogs that you will do all you can to give them a positive convention experience, and I hope to meet many of you in Dallas.

 

Carol Castellano's Making It Work Works

Reviewed by Missy Garber

From the Editor: Missy Garber, Ph.D., TVI, is project coordinator for the National Center for Leadership in Visual Impairment and assistant professor in the department of graduate studies in vision impairment at Pennsylvania College of Optometry. She is also the parent of a blind child.

The author of Making It Work is Carol Castellano, first vice president of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and president of New Jersey Parents of Blind Children.

As a parent of a child who is blind and who attends our neighborhood elementary school, I have sometimes worried over the years that I might be giving my child’s teachers and specialists too many articles, handouts, and other sources of information. I want to share so many things with my child’s team about her educational needs--so many lessons learned by others who have been there--but this information is in many different places: Web sites, consumer publications, chapters in academic texts, articles in peer-reviewed journals, catalogs, conference presentations, and listserv discussions. Many times only one or two points or tips are worth sharing, and the rest of the resource may not be relevant or necessary.

Although they are always receptive to learning, I do not want to overwhelm teachers with information nor give them the impression that educating my child is a lot of extra work. The information I wish to share with team members may be as broad as having expectations of independence for my daughter, or it may be as specific as the way her work station could be set up. Fortunately a comprehensive resource is now available to educational teams that includes much of this important and useful information: Carol Castellano’s Making It Work: Educating the Blind/Visually Impaired Student in the Regular School.

Co-author of The Bridge to Braille: Reading and School Success for the Young Blind Child and author of Because Books Matter: Reading Braille Books with Young Blind Children, Castellano focuses in this new publication on what educational teams can do to make a blind/visually impaired child’s education in regular school successful. She explains why children who are blind/visually impaired attend regular school, and she presents the realistic (i.e., high) expectations that educational teams should have for them. She frames blindness as the use of “alternative skills and tools in place of, or in addition to, eyesight in order to gain information or perform tasks” and asks educational teams to consider which methods and materials their student will use to accomplish these tasks.

Castellano includes chapters on IEP goals and objectives, adapting materials, accessing the curriculum, and technology as well as a resource list. Her suggestions are geared towards three categories of students: those who are blind or visually impaired and require only material adaptation and instruction in specialized skills; students who are blind or visually impaired with additional challenges that may warrant modification to the curriculum in addition to adaptations to materials; and students who are blind or visually impaired with more severe additional disabilities and who may need an individualized curriculum.

Castellano offers specific and practical suggestions that are relevant to the realities of regular education today. For example, she alerts teachers to be sure errors on their student’s print interlined work are truly the student’s errors. An instructional assistant at the beginning stages of learning Braille may make mistakes interlining in print, and the Braille student should not be marked down for mistakes that are not his or her own. She instructs teachers not to pull or push a student’s hands when the student is examining a tactile drawing. She provides an illustration of a sample desk layout that facilitates student independence. She points out that Braille-reading students should have the practice materials for an upcoming statewide or standardized test transcribed in Braille and formatted in a way that will be consistent with the actual test. These are just a few of the very specific and important insights Castellano coherently and concisely presents.

In addition to these details, Castellano also addresses the big issues facing our students in regular education. She reminds the regular education teacher that a student who is blind/visually impaired is in school to learn from the classroom teacher’s instruction, not to learn through an intermediary such as a paraprofessional or TVI. She repeatedly reminds readers that it is up to the adults in the student’s life to make independence happen. Students who are blind/visually impaired, she points out, can participate fully and independently in regular education if they are given the tools and taught the skills of blindness and visual impairment.

I especially like the detail with which Castellano discusses the role of a paraprofessional in a student’s education. She devotes an entire chapter to this topic, outlining the appropriate functions of a paraprofessional as someone who may provide direct assistance in the early grades if necessary, but who steps back and evolves into more of a technical assistant primarily involved in material adaptation later on. She alerts educational teams to some of the more delicate issues that arise with the presence of a paraprofessional, such as the potential negative effect the paraprofessional-student relationship may have on the student’s peer relationships, the danger of “a class inside a class,” and, of course, learned dependence. She also describes what instructional assistants can do to facilitate the acquisition of important skills in their students and enrich their educational experience. This attention to the pivotal but precarious role of a paraprofessional, along with her directions for developing an explicit independence plan for students, makes Castellano’s resource a much-needed addition to the literature.

With its scope, attention to detail, and skillful presentation of the larger issues involved in the education of students who are blind/visually impaired in regular school, Making It Work is a timely and most welcome resource for educational teams.

 

Ask Miss Whozit

From the Editor: From time to time Miss Whozit answers reader questions about etiquette and good manners, particularly as they involve blindness. If you would like to pose a question to Miss Whozit, you can send it to the attention of Barbara Pierce, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, or email me at <bpierce@nfb.org>. I will pass the questions along. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Here are the most recent letters Miss Whozit has received:

Dear Miss Whozit,

Would you please reprint your article about courtesy rules at convention? I am looking forward to our convention this summer, but I am always scared someone is going to get hurt, especially trying to get on the elevators before everyone has gotten off. We love your column.

Sincerely,
Excited about Convention

Dear Excited,

Miss Whozit would be delighted to reprint the column from the June 2005 Braille Monitor. To prevent confusion about where we are going and what hotel we will occupy, she has brought those references up to date. Happily what Miss Whozit said about etiquette last spring has not become outdated, and she trusts it never will. Here is the column:

Dear Miss Whozit,

I will be attending my second convention this summer. I am generally looking forward to it because my experience last year was like nothing I had ever imagined, and as a result I have grown and changed this year. But several things last year bothered me. And since these all fall into the area of etiquette and good manners, I thought I would list them for you in the hope that you will give us all some pointers.

The first thing has to do with tipping. I have not traveled much, so I am never sure whom to tip and who is just offering to help me because it is convenient but not part of his or her job. I know to tip a skycap who walks with me out to my gate, but what about cabin crew members who are going my way and offer to walk with me? Unless they mention who they are, I can’t tell these folks from other passengers. I don’t want to insult people, but I also don’t want people who depend on tips to go away thinking I am cheap or an object of pity. I gather that I should tip the skycap who checks me in at curbside, but surely not the clerk behind the desk inside who does the same thing. And how much is enough?

At the hotel I know to tip the bell staff whenever they do anything for me, but what about housekeeping when they bring extra hangers or towels? How about the engineer who fixes the dripping toilet or the air conditioning? Some people tip the staff who clean the room at the end of a long hotel stay. Is this expected, and if so, how much is appropriate? You get the idea.

The other big thing that worries me at convention is the way some conventioneers act in large crowds. I am equally shocked by the way some people use their canes—more like spears or whips than as tools for checking whether the path ahead is clear—and the seeming obliviousness of some dog users. I was told about a dog that snatched a steak off a stranger’s plate with the fork still in the meat, and the handler did not do anything about the situation. My own room was covered in dog hair after a Federationist visited me with a dog who had obviously not been groomed properly. I know that dogs are going to have accidents under the stress that a convention causes them, but don’t users know when this happens? It seems to me that courtesy would demand that the person stand guard over the mess until someone can get there to clean it up.

Finally, Miss Whozit, please talk to us about elevator etiquette. Frankly I am going to see if I can get a room on a low floor this year so that I can walk up and down the steps rather than risking life and limb in the elevator lobby. I talked to a man who uses a wheelchair and who told me that someone once sat down in his lap in an elevator without asking permission. On the other hand I have been in elevator cars in which some people purposely stood close to the front and told people outside that the car was full when it was not, just because they did not want to stand close to other people and figured that the blind people outside the door wouldn’t know that they were lying.

I don’t enjoy being packed in like a sardine either, but at convention we just have to make each elevator trip as efficient as possible. Can you set down some rules of elevator etiquette?

Mystified at Rude Behavior

Dear Mystified,

Miss Whozit is glad to hear that you are planning to attend your second national convention. Perhaps this response will help ease the way for this year’s convention for you and others in the movement.

Knowing what and whom to tip is an ongoing question for many people. Basic rules for tipping should be kept in mind when traveling and eating out. Tipping gives the customer an opportunity to reward those who provide service, and this income is essential to the people who provide those services--waitresses, bellhops, skycaps, and taxi drivers. Remember that your tipping habits not only reflect your professionalism but also contribute to your receiving more attentive service, a cleaner room, or a better table.

Tipping does not have hard and fast rules, but there are some general guidelines: When service is exceptional, tip more. When it is not good, tip less and explain why, either directly to the service provider or to that person’s manager.

Here are some basic guidelines for tipping. The amount can vary by city, region, or country:

• Airport: Skycaps, $1 per bag; electric cart drivers, $1 or $2; wheelchair assistants, $3 to $5.

• Transportation: Taxi or limousine, 15 percent of fare; tour guide, $10 for a day or 15 percent on a longer trip.

• Hotel: Doorman, $1 or $2; parking valet, $1 to $3; bellhop, $1 or $2 per bag; maid, $2 or $3 per night per person; room service, 15 percent of the bill (but check first to see if it is included in the charge); concierge, $5 to $10 for exceptional service; spa services, 15 percent to 20 percent.

• Dining: Wine steward, 15 percent to 20 percent of wine bill, in cash; wait staff, 15 percent to 20 percent; coat checks, $1 per coat; washroom attendant, 50 cents or more if extra help is provided (needle and thread for a loose button, for example).
As important as tipping an appropriate amount is showing respect for those who help you function more efficiently and comfortably. Smart businesspeople know that respecting and tipping service personnel is a reflection not only of their appreciation of the help they receive but of their own professionalism as well.

Your dilemma concerning the cabin crew member who is going your way and offers to walk with you to the gate is interesting. Initially the person’s role may not be clear. You may be uncertain whether a person is merely going your way or feels compelled to extend service beyond his responsibilities. You can determine his job by asking a few discreet questions as you are walking to your gate or destination. The conversation can begin with some basic introductory information. Initiate the conversation by volunteering your first name and destination and inquiring for the same information from him.

If, during the course of the walk you realize that he is going out of his way to walk with you, you have a couple of options. If you are grateful for the company and you believe your companion is happy to take the detour, accept the assistance graciously and part company at your gate with warm thanks. If on the other hand you are confident of your skills, thank him and assure him that you would hate to inconvenience him by having him go out of his way. Bid him good day and carry on in the correct direction. It is important for the person to know that you are confident. Your actions will underscore this message, which in turn will provide an illustration of your statement.

Often, but not always, this strategy works for Miss Whozit. No matter how confidently we travel or how self-assured we are, sometimes people feel a responsibility to provide more assistance than we either need or want. In such cases Miss Whozit suggests that the overly helpful person be offered a monetary tip, which clearly expresses the blind person’s view of the assistance being offered. Whenever possible, during the walk to the destination, she tries to instill a bit of education about the abilities of blind people, and because Miss Whozit is never without several Kernel Books, she can present would-be rescuers with a book and hope they will read it and come to understand more fully the capabilities of blind people. The demands of civility always require that we make reasonable efforts not to offend a member of the public who is merely trying to be helpful, so the way we address the issues surrounding blindness is of the utmost importance. At the same time we must be confident in our skills and present ourselves positively. It may help to remember that the way members of a minority population present themselves inevitably has either a positive or negative impact on the way the general public views other members of that group. This truth should inspire us all to be both courteous and clear about what assistance we need.

As for maneuvering through crowds at convention, you are correct that often people do not use their canes appropriately. Proper cane technique is important in order to travel safely and efficiently. If used properly, the long cane will pick up drop-offs, textural differences, steps, openings, closed areas, and so on. The cane should be kept in close contact with the floor. Almost never should it be more than one to two inches off the floor, and it should never be slid along the wall to detect openings or to find a chair or bench. Keeping the cane just above the floor in the two-point touch or tap-and-slide techniques will provide all the information one needs to travel safely and efficiently throughout the convention.

When one is standing in line or waiting, the long cane should be held vertically in front of and close to the user until he or she is ready to stride out. And always remember, when traveling in a crowd, that using the pencil grip is the easiest, safest, and most courteous way to gather appropriate information for the size steps you are taking while not posing a hazard to oncoming traffic. Basic cane etiquette ensures safe travel and allows cane users to be efficient and considerate. If you are not certain about some of these techniques, stop any good traveler at convention and ask for a quick demonstration. We have all polished our skills by observing others and asking their advice.

Ah, the ghost of conventions past rears its head again to whisper the rumor of the missing steak. For many years this has been an oft-told tale, but Miss Whozit suspects it of being an urban legend. She has not been able to verify or deny whether the maid did it with the candelabra or whether the guide dog did it because he too likes good meat. Either way the trusty guide dog often receives a raw deal. So in order to reinforce what we know to be true about good guide dog handling, remember to follow the basic etiquette. A good guide dog handler knows that he or she is responsible for the care and upkeep of the dog. The handler should bathe the dog frequently, groom it daily, and make every effort to see that a trail of dog hair is not left behind. If you receive a visit from someone using a guide dog that leaves more than a few hairs, in the best interests of your friend and other guide dog users you should tactfully bring the problem to the person’s attention. If the information is presented as useful data rather than criticism, it should be well received and Miss Whozit hopes will serve as a reminder to groom the dog regularly.

Remaining beside an accident is of the utmost importance. Convention goers who work their guide dogs daily will know their dogs’ movements and habits and will be prepared to take responsibility for any accidents that occur. If the worst happens, the handler should remain at the scene until someone from the relief area comes to clean up. Convention goers should remember that this clean-up is not the responsibility of hotel staff; it is the primary responsibility of the handler with the assistance of the relief area staff. The handler must always be conscious of the relief schedule of his or her dog. Plan your schedule so that you allow plenty of time to accommodate the needs of the guide dog. The guide dog is doing her job, and guide dog handlers should do their jobs by being responsive and responsible to the needs of the dog.

Last but not least is elevator etiquette, which is plain and simple travel etiquette. Whether you decide to use escalators or elevators, common courtesy must be observed. First of all, if you are boarding an elevator, the first point of elevator etiquette is to allow the people on the elevator to exit without having to push through those waiting to board. When the elevator arrives, those waiting to board should step aside, allowing those exiting to leave without fear of losing life or limb or, even worse, not being able to exit the elevator at all. Often convention goers stand, nose to the door, waiting to board, refusing to budge. This only delays the flow of traffic.
When boarding the elevator, use your cane to sweep the area you are about to enter, using the pencil grip to determine whether or not there is room. If there is, swiftly step inside, turn to face the elevator door, press the button for the floor you wish to exit, and wait. If a crowd has filled the elevator, step in as far as you can without crushing the person next to you. Always make sure you turn to face the door. If you are using a guide dog, pull your dog in as close as possible to you. This is not the time to release the harness--allowing your dog to sniff the dress tails of the woman next to you.

Miss Whozit wishes all convention attendees a wonderful and educational week in Dallas, and she assures everyone that, if we all practice civility and good manners whenever we are in crowds, the convention will be a more pleasant and gracious experience for us all.

 

Blind Consumers Get the Gift of Audio Catalog Shopping

by Kristen Bremner

From the Editor: Have you ever wished that you could snag someone to sit down with you and really go through a favorite catalog so that for once you knew what was available? For ten years now Home Readers has been providing that service on tape. An article describing this service appeared in the December 19, 2005, issue of DMNews, the newspaper of direct, database, and Internet marketing. Here it is:

How often do catalogers get the chance to gain new and loyal multibuyers while supporting a good cause, all for a modest flat fee? That’s the opportunity offered by the nonprofit organization Home Readers, which records and mails audio versions of catalogs to the blind and visually impaired. Home Readers got its name from training stay-at-home moms and others to read the catalogs into portable recorders, adding descriptive elements that may be missing from the catalog copy.

“Our readers paint a verbal picture so the consumers can understand what the items are like,” said Kathy Eble, founder/president of Home Readers, Edgerton, Kansas, who was vision impaired and lost her sight completely after college. “It’s really important for a reader to tell what we can’t see.”

Though Eble and her husband Bill started Home Readers nearly ten years ago, the still-fledgling company gained nonprofit status two years ago because it needed the help to continue, she said. The company has done no fundraising yet. “There are a number of things we want to do, but it’s basically three of us running our office, and we just haven’t had enough manpower to do it,” she said. “We started with no money and an idea. I wanted to be able to do something from home as a job but also do something for other people. We quickly found out that it wasn’t going to be a paying job for a long time.”

Catalogers pay a flat fee that averages $500 depending on the length of the catalog and how many tapes it requires. The money covers the reader’s fee to record the descriptions as well as the cassette tapes and shipping materials. As a nonprofit serving the blind and visually impaired community, Home Readers can mail the tapes for free, which normally would cost about $1 each to send.

Thirty catalogers participate including Audio Editions, Avon, Blair, Chef’s Catalog, Collectors Choice, Doctors Foster and Smith, Figi’s, Lands’ End, Miles Kimball, Puritan’s Pride, Schwan’s Foods, and Vermont Country Store. Home Readers has a list of more than 3,800 blind and visually impaired people who get its audio catalog of catalogs, from which they can request specific titles on tape. Only about 100 tapes go out for each catalog.

One marketer who has worked with Home Readers since 1997 and also is a volunteer member of the group’s board is Tim Littleton, senior vice president of marketing at Chef’s Catalog, Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was part of the group that acquired Chef’s from Neiman Marcus in November of 2004. Chef’s just did its first Home Readers catalog with its holiday 2005 book. But before joining Chef’s, Littleton was with fellow cataloger and participant Walter Drake.

“At Walter Drake, response was good enough for us to continue to participate for the seven years I was there,” Littleton said. As for his current participation, Littleton said the main reason is as a service to the Chef’s customers whom Home Readers serves but it’s also a source of revenue. “We decided to send them Chef’s holiday catalog this year, which is a 124-page book that they read on tape, and we’re just getting the early results now, and I have to say it is exceeding our expectations,” he said.

Vermont Country Store has participated with its Voice of the Mountains catalog since 1999, after being contacted by Eble. “We were mulling the idea over for a while, and then we actually had a customer call and ask us if by chance we had our catalog on tape, so that was really a good impetus to get the thing rolling,” said Judi Copping, product research analyst at Vermont Country Store, Manchester, Vermont.

Though Copping admitted that VDS doesn’t track response to the Home Readers version of its catalogs closely, she said results usually cover the company’s costs to have it recorded and sent out by Home Readers. “We haven’t really been that diligent tracking response because it’s a service that we don’t want to walk away from,” she said.

However, she said, results sometimes exceed the print catalog, as in Christmas 2003, when the company saw an average order of $50 for the print catalog. Still Eble has difficulty getting catalogers to try the program and hopes to convince more of what she already knows.

“People within the blind and visually impaired community have money to shop just like everybody else,” she said. “They have children, they have pets, and they buy all the items that sighted people buy—and they usually spend more because it’s harder for them to get to stores.”

With an estimated ten million blind and visually impaired people in the United States, according to the American Foundation for the Blind, potential for growth is significant. Home Readers’ customers also tend to be loyal to the brands that join the program, Eble said, because they appreciate the effort to serve their needs. “Customers call in and suggest catalogs to us,” she said.

The toy category is one that Eble would like to get as well as music and more apparel and food catalogs. “Blind and visually impaired people love their food, and they love their music,” she said. “I’m a walking billboard for my company, and I order quite a bit. My husband would tell you that I’m a shopaholic.”

Littleton said he joined the Home Readers board to help Eble recruit more catalogers and serves as a reference for the organization, as does Copping. “Nothing frustrates me more than when Kathy is trying to recruit a new cataloger, and these are companies that have revenue of over $100 million, and they’re denying it because they say their P&L [profit and loss] doesn’t work,” Littleton said. “We’re talking about an average cost of about $500.”

Littleton also will better analyze response to the Home Readers version of Chef’s Catalog after the holidays. He suspects that many orders placed from a Home Readers catalog don’t get attributed properly because the customer isn’t using the proper source code.
“Whatever the sales are, I would increase them due to the number we get without source codes,” he said. “There is a lot for somebody to remember when he or she calls in an order because they are listening to it, and a complicated source code might be the most difficult thing to remember.” Littleton also said he’s ensuring that his call center is aware of the program so the representatives can capture the source code even if someone just mentions Home Readers.

You may contact Home Readers by calling (877) 814-7323 or (913) 893-4000 (for direct orders). Email Kathy Eble at <kathy@homereaders.com>.

 

A Reporter Reports on Blindness

by Art Schreiber

From the Editor: Art Schreiber is a first-class example of what adopting the NFB’s positive philosophy of blindness can do for a senior suddenly faced with vision loss. He now serves as president of the NFB of New Mexico and still broadcasts two radio programs a week in Albuquerque. Here is the speech he made at the 2005 meeting of the National Organization of the Senior Blind in Louisville. It is reprinted from the Winter/Spring 2006 issue of the NOSB Newsletter. This is what he said:

It was August 22, 1982--I remember it very well--I had been in New Mexico just nine months when my life changed. I had been working for a radio station in another state when I was offered a better job in New Mexico. As I said, that August day I woke up, and the lights had gone out. I was blind.

I really did think that it was the end of my career. I had had the pleasure of being Washington and then foreign news bureau chief for Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. I had traveled with Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Martin Luther King on his marches through the South. I had covered all the race riots and the manned space flights. I not only traveled and worked with Democrats, but also Republicans like Goldwater.

I even traveled with the Beatles in 1964. When I speak to young people today, I tell them to go home and tell their grandmothers that I was present when they were screaming at the Beatles. I have had a wonderful career in broadcasting ending up in New Mexico. But, as I said, that morning I woke up blind and was sure my life was over.

When I was bureau chief, I had the pleasure of working with a man named Jerry Landay. He was my bureau chief in London. He handled all the foreign news for me. Later he moved to CBS. He also worked for the New York Times and as White House correspondent for ABC. When I became blind, I got a call from Jerry. He said that he had just done a story on a new reading machine for the blind. He said that I had to get one. He even gave me a number to call.

I was in the middle of having surgery, but I had my nurse call the number because Jerry was so insistent. NFB member David Ticchi answered the phone because he was working for the company at the time. I told him that I had just become blind, and I had to get the machine right then. He replied that I did not need a reading machine right then; I needed to learn to function as a blind man. Of course he was telling me the truth, but I did not want to believe what he was saying. I was sure that that reading machine would solve all my problems. He would not leave it alone. He asked if I knew a Fred Schroeder. He said that Fred was one of the best white cane travelers and that I needed to give him a call. I did, but he never returned my call.

I wondered what could be wrong with this Schroeder guy. But one day my secretary came into my office and told me that a bunch of blind people were in the lobby and wanted to talk to me. She said that it was something about wanting me to promote a white cane banquet. They sat down in my office, and the first thing out of my mouth was to ask if they knew a guy named Fred Schroeder. They said that he was the state president. I told them in no uncertain terms to have the guy call me, and finally he did.

He was at that time working for the local school district; I guess they could not afford to pay his secretary very much, for she never gave Fred phone messages. But I did finally talk to Fred, and the rest is history. He is the one who got me into the National Federation of the Blind, and that turned my life around.

Now that I have all the NFB training and am the NFB president in New Mexico, I take at least six calls a week from seniors losing vision. They simply do not know what to do. This is what I tell them: accepting the loss of vision is fact, and living as a blind person is reality. Next I talk to them about attitude. Positive attitudes about blindness do not come overnight, but they must be worked on. Then I talk to them about getting training in the use of the long white cane and technology. Last I talk about the alternative techniques we blind folks all use.

My very favorite is the one I learned from Dr. Jernigan. Sighted people put toothpaste on the brush. That works, but sometimes it spills. Dr. Jernigan said each person should have his own tube and simply take the top off and squeeze out in your mouth exactly the amount you want. Not a drop is lost. We NFB members must convince seniors losing vision that they can function normally using what we call “alternative techniques,” simply different ways of doing what they have done all their lives.

I want to tell a story about myself and attitudes toward blindness and the white cane. A woman I was planning to marry and I and my best friend Ernie and his wife were vacationing in northern New Mexico. My intended told me one day that she did not want me to use that white cane. She said that it embarrassed her. We had been planning the wedding before I lost my sight. She simply could not accept the reality of my blindness. That was her problem, so we cancelled the wedding. Had we already been married, we might well have divorced, for there is absolutely no reason to hide any aspect of blindness.

The white cane allows blind people to go wherever we want to go. I love to travel, and I go on a lot of ships. However, my traveling has been curtailed a bit, for I am now back on the radio on Sundays. I do two one-hour shows, one for seniors and the other about disabilities. The old war-horse cannot give up.

I love spending days and weeks floating around on the ocean, and I am very happy when fellow passengers come up to me and ask how I get around the ship. I take the time to show them how the white cane helps me find whatever I want.

Technology can also be very helpful. I still cannot use one of the speech programs to read a computer screen very well, but thank goodness for the VoiceNote. It is my salvation. I use it for phone numbers, as a planner, and for word processing. We need to show newly blind seniors the tools we use to carry on a normal life.

Let me end by telling a story about my boss at the radio station. I was to have surgery and was waiting with my son in the hospital for my turn. My son’s phone rang. When he answered, he said that my boss wanted to talk to me. My boss said again that he had hired me for my brains. When I handed the phone back to my son, I told him what the boss had said. My charming son then commented, “They will be surprised to learn that your brain has gone too.”

 

Thruoureyes.org: Online Radio

by Daniel Facchini

From the Editor: Dan Facchini is the president of the NFB of New Jersey Northeast Chapter and a vendor in the Business Enterprise Program. His chapter was determined to get useful information about blindness into the hands and heads of people who need to know more about dealing constructively with blindness. This is what they did:

In early 2005 the members of the Northeast Chapter were frustrated by the lack of information about blindness and the NFB that blind people and the public have access to. Believe it or not, some people have never heard of us. So Lenny Azzerone and other chapter members established a Web site that we named thruoureyes.org, and we produced our first online video show. We also started airing Internet radio shows twice a month on many different topics related to blindness.

Lenny, a retired police officer, had already produced videos for public access TV. He thought this would be a great way to inform the public. So in January of 2005 we broadcast a TV show at the Comcast studio, where Lenny has made videos for the police department and the town of Saddle Brook. Our first video was on accessible transportation. We all know the part transportation plays in the lives of the blind. Other New Jersey chapters joined us on the TV show. It was a great show. However, we had to pay to have the videos aired on TV, and that was too costly for our chapter. We formed a committee to find a solution to this problem. They came up with having an Internet radio show instead. Lenny has his own home studio with all the necessary equipment. Two of the committee members work on securing speakers for the radio show. We have had great cooperation from those we have asked to participate. Joe Ruffalo, the president of the NFB of New Jersey, has been the moderator of all the Internet shows, which are archived, so please check them out.

We have been fortunate to interview great leaders in the blindness field: Dr. Betsy Zaborowski, director of the NFB Jernigan Institute; Barbara Pierce, editor of the Braille Monitor; Venetia Demson, director of the New Jersey Talking Book Library; Annemarie Cooke from RFB&D; James McCarthy, NFB director of governmental affairs; and Kevan Worley, president of the National Association of Blind Merchants, to name only a few. We even broadcast the NFB of New Jersey convention live on the Internet last November. To date we have produced forty shows.

We are grateful for a grant we received through the NFB Imagination Fund, which will allow us to continue developing the Web site and educating the public about blindness. We meet twice a month in the studio to produce three Internet radio shows each night.
The grant also enabled us to add additional programs such as a free voice chat program and a toll-free number so listeners can call in during a radio show and ask questions of our host and guests. The call-in number is (800) 791-6563.

In the near future we're looking forward to a program featuring President Maurer, so please continue checking our Web site for dates: <www.thruoureyes.org>.

 

Recipes

This month’s recipes have been contributed by members of the NFB of Indiana.


Chicken Salad
by Jean Brown

Jean Brown is president of the Circle City Chapter in Indianapolis and state fundraising chairman. She has been a member of the Federation for twenty-four years. Her husband is Ron Brown, president of the Indiana affiliate and a member of the NFB board of directors.

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
15 to 20 seedless grapes
1/4 cup English walnuts
1/4 cup pecans
3 small red apples
3 to 4 tablespoons Miracle Whip

Method: Place chicken breasts in a lightly oiled pan and season with seasoned salt, and black or white pepper. Add 1/4 cup water to the pan and cover with foil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook chicken for forty-five to fifty minutes. Uncover pan and remove from oven. Let chicken cool and cut into bite-size pieces. Peel apples and cut into cubes. Cut grapes in half. Place chicken in a large mixing bowl and add apples, grapes, nuts, and Miracle Whip. Toss with a fork until all ingredients are mixed well. This salad may be served on buns or lightly toasted bread. It makes an excellent summer meal served with chips or just a cold drink. Makes four to six sandwiches.


Sweet Potato Fluff
by Jean Brown

Ingredients:
1 16-ounce can yams
1 8-ounce can pineapple chunks or crushed pineapple
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup whole or 2 percent milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1 bag large white marshmallows

Method: Warm yams in the microwave oven for 3 to 4 minutes and drain. Place yams in a large mixing bowl and add eggs, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. Beat well until ingredients are thoroughly mixed and smooth. Drain pineapple and add to yam mixture. Stir in pineapple with a fork. Transfer yams to a glass baking dish or deep pan, making sure that they are spread evenly across the dish. Top yams with marshmallows, laying them on their sides with the flat ends touching. Leave a half-inch border without marshmallows around the edge of the dish. Place oven rack in top third of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake casserole until marshmallows are golden brown and yams are bubbly. Serve with dinner or as a delicious snack.


Caramel Icing
by Pam Schnurr

Pam Schnurr is first vice president of the NFB of Indiana, secretary of the National Association of Blind Merchants, and president of the National Association of Blind Merchants of Indiana. She has been a member of the Federation since 1974. She and her husband have been host parents to an exchange student at the school for the blind from Germany for the last year. She says that it has been a great learning experience.

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons milk
powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Method: Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan and add milk. Heat mixture on medium and boil three minutes. Remove from heat and stir for about thirty seconds. Add vanilla. Stir in powdered sugar a little at a time until frosting reaches spreading consistency. This will take about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of powdered sugar. If the icing becomes too thick, add milk 1 spoonful at a time. Pour over warm cake and let set. Pam says that this is especially good on chocolate cake.


Round Steak with Gravy
by Diane Graves

Diane Graves is president of the Indianapolis Chapter of the NFB of Indiana and affiliate secretary. Her work as a mediator with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission reflects her dedication to the mission of the Federation. In her free time she unwinds by doing handcrafts and trying new recipes in the kitchen.

Ingredients:
1 pound round steak
2 cloves of garlic
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix
1/2 to 3/4 cup flour
1 can sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil

Method: Season the round steak by splitting the garlic cloves and rubbing them over both sides of the meat. Sprinkle on salt and pepper, then half the flour. Pound in the flour, using a meat mallet or the edge of a saucer. Then turn meat over and repeat with garlic, salt and pepper, and other half of flour. Cut meat into serving-size pieces, and brown the meat in vegetable oil. I don't measure the oil, so I cannot offer a precise measurement. I just use enough oil to brown the meat effectively without letting it stick. Once the meat is browned, add mushroom soup, Lipton onion soup mix, chopped onion, and mushrooms. Mince the garlic and add it as well. Add about 2 cups of water. Then lower heat to medium and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure that meat isn't sticking and a nice gravy is in the works. If you think necessary, add a bit more water. This makes the tenderest round steak you could ever hope to eat. We love it. It is great with mashed potatoes or rice.


Potato Soup
by Diane Graves

Ingredients:
8 to 10 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed or sliced
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Shredded cheese, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Place potatoes, sausage, and onion in a large pot. Fill pot with enough water to cover the contents, and boil until tender. Mix milk and flour together, whisking until smooth. Stir this mixture into the soup and continue stirring until it thickens and becomes creamy. Ladle hot soup into bowls and sprinkle shredded cheese over the top if desired. Enjoy.


Easy Apple Butter
by Tami Jones

Tami Jones is a longtime leader in the NFB. She chairs the Jacobus tenBroek Memorial Fund Committee, so convention attendees are familiar with her announcements about the tenBroek auction and the Elegant Elephant table in the exhibit hall, where all kinds of small treasures are sold, including Tami’s homemade jams and marmalades.

Anyone who knows much about Tami knows she loves to cook and prowl through cookbooks to find new and interesting recipes. She likes to start with a basic recipe and add her own touches. Below she shares a few of her favorites. This is what she says:

One of my strongest interests is making jams, marmalades, and apple butter. Here are two of the easiest and most interesting recipes I know.

Ingredients:
16 or more tart apples, skins included, cored and finely chopped (choose equal numbers of 2 to 4 varieties for varied color and texture)
2 3/4 cups sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt

Method: Measure sixteen cups of finely chopped apples into the bottom of a five-quart crockpot. (Use one that has both a high and a low setting.) In a medium mixing bowl combine sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Then pour this combination over the top of the apples. Cook on high for three hours, stirring thoroughly at the end of each hour. Turn crockpot to low and cook for ten to twelve more hours, stirring apple butter occasionally with a wire whisk for a smoother texture, if desired. Pour into sterilized jars or freeze, whichever you prefer. Makes twelve to sixteen cups.

Hint: Time this project so that the first three hours of cooking end at bedtime; then let the crockpot do its thing while you sleep. In the morning you will have fresh, delicious apple butter for your morning toast or rolls.


Carrot Cinnamon Marmalade
by Tami Jones

Ingredients:
4 cups grated carrots
4 cups orange juice
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Method: Cook carrots and lemon and orange juices in large saucepan over moderate heat for thirty minutes. Combine sugar and cinnamon, and thoroughly stir this mixture into carrots, continuing to cook until thick. Ladle marmalade into warm, sterilized jars and seal. Makes three cups or a little more.


Cream Cheese Mints
by Tami Jones

If you want to make something for an elegant occasion--a wedding reception, a silver or golden anniversary, a bridal or baby shower--this recipe is really easy. The tedious part is forming the mints into fancy shapes, which I do with flexible molds I purchased in a cooking store. But with several different molds you can get your friends or kids to help and make a party out of the project.

Ingredients:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
2 pounds powdered sugar
Food coloring and flavoring as desired (see note at end of recipe)

Method: Combine powdered sugar and cream cheese by mixing thoroughly with clean hands. Divide into as many parts as needed before adding coloring and flavoring. For example, if you have both flower and leaf molds, you will need at least two separate pieces of dough. Add coloring and flavoring a little at a time to each piece until you achieve the desired color and taste. Press into desired shapes with flexible molds and place each mint on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Refrigerate till firm. Chill or freeze candy in covered container until needed.

Note on coloring and flavoring: You can tailor your mints to match the occasion and reflect your personal taste. One portion can be colored green with spearmint, wintergreen, or mint flavoring to use with a leaf mold. A portion can be left uncolored and will remain its natural white. Other portions for the flower molds can be colored yellow, pink, red, orange or whatever, depending on the party color scheme. Any color except green can be used with the flower molds. You can use the same flavoring for all the mints or vary the flavors to match the colors. For example, you might use orange and lemon extracts with orange and yellow, peppermint with pink or red, butter rum or almond extract with yellow or white, and so on. A variety of molds is available if you shop around. I have flower, leaf, heart, rocking horse, and several geometric shapes. Use your judgment and be creative.

 

Monitor Miniatures

News from the Federation Family

Resolutions for Convention:

Here is a message from Sharon Maneki, who chairs the NFB Resolutions Committee:

Do you think we should change a government policy, take a stand concerning an agency for the blind, or create new regulations? If you do, consider writing a resolution. At the 2006 national convention the Resolutions Committee meeting will be held on Sunday, July 2. The committee will debate and discuss resolutions on a wide variety of subjects. These resolutions will become the policy statements of the organization.

To ensure that your resolution will be considered by the committee, please send it to President Maurer or to me by June 17, two weeks before the committee meeting. If you miss this deadline, you must get three members of the committee to sponsor your resolution and then get it to the chairman before the meeting begins. I will be pleased to accept resolutions by email, <nfbmd@earthlink.net>; fax, (410) 715-9597; or snail mail, 9013 Nelson Way, Columbia, Maryland 21045.

Elected:

The Lansing Chapter of the NFB of Michigan held its elections in January, and the officers elected were president, David Robinson; vice president, Diana Moehnk; secretary, Kim Moehnk; treasurer, Geer Wilcox; chapter representative, Sheila Lathum; and board member, Mary Wurtzel.

In Memoriam:

Sadly we must report the death on March 6, 2006, of John Ford, a longtime Federation leader and true gentleman. At one time he was president of our Montana affiliate, and more recently he was a chapter president and affiliate leader in Missouri. John had been in poor health for some time. He made it clear to his friends and family that he wanted a Federation memorial service, and on March 13 that is what he was given. NFB of Missouri President Gary Wunder delivered the eulogy. It was moving and thoughtful. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Our friend John became a Federationist at the tender age of six. The person who recruited him was none other than Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the founder and first president of the National Federation of the Blind. John has dealt with every man who has ever held the office of president, and his service has graced every level of the organization he so loved. John Ford was a member of the NFB longer than he was married--even in Arkansas six is too young to get hitched.
John told his friends and family his was to be a Federation memorial service, but John knew that being a Federationist meant more than just being a member and going to Federation meetings. Federation philosophy isn't just to be shared among blind people--it is to be lived and realized through active association with all kinds of people in all walks of life. So in this audience today you will see members from the Lions Club of which John was a member; parishioners from John's church; independent businessmen with whom John worked; professionals in the field of rehabilitation; and, yes, many members of the National Federation of the Blind.

Of all I've said about John and the qualities I admire, the one I would most like to incorporate into my life is the way he treated his fellow man. It didn't matter whether you were a wit, an academic with initials after your name, or an elected official who wielded power in the Federation or in government, you were treated no differently from the man without an education or the woman with a handicap beyond blindness who attended meetings more for their social value than because she understood the what and why of our organization. John was your friend whether you wowed an audience with your words or rambled nonsense in a meeting as you relived an experience from Vietnam. This man treated others the way he wanted to be treated, and the world would be a far better place if more of us lived rather than just quoted these words. Thank you, John--for your friendship, your love, your commitment, and your example. We love you.

Attention Past NFB Scholarship Winners:

If you have won an NFB scholarship and are planning to attend this summer’s convention, please carefully read and consider the invitation in the following letter from Joanne Wilson:

Dear Past NFB Scholarship Winner:

I hope that your year is off to a wonderful start and that you are well on your way to accomplishing your 2006 goals. I am busily working on a new project, and I am contacting you because I need your help.

The department of affiliate action at our national headquarters is developing a year-round mentoring program to operate in conjunction with our existing scholarship program. It will enhance the experience of our scholarship winners through peer mentoring. The program will not replace or alter our traditional scholarship program; it will simply add another layer of mentoring to the experience.

I am asking for your help because you are the expert. As a past recipient you can relate to a new scholarship winner because you too felt excitement when finding out that you were a finalist, nervous before introducing yourself at the board meeting, proud as your friends and family cheered you on, and perhaps a little bit sleep-deprived as you shared a cup of coffee with your mentor at six in the morning. I hope that you will consider becoming a mentor to one of the 2006 winners to support him or her through the process.
Your role would be to serve as a friend to the student. You would not be asked to judge the person in any way, so your sole responsibility would be to cultivate a relationship and bring the newcomer into our Federation family. This program will not be time-intensive. We will have a couple of informal activities at national convention and quarterly conference calls to stay connected. We will hold a short training session by telephone to answer any questions and review details. Furthermore I hope that your attendance at our conventions and seminars will prompt the 2006 scholarship winners to participate more fully in Federation activities.

I ask you to give serious consideration to becoming a mentor. You possess talents and abilities that we need in this program. For those who are not familiar with our organization, the investment of a bit of your time can turn a weeklong introduction to the NFB into a lifetime of personal success and constructive service. Please contact me if you have any questions at (410) 659-9314, extension 2335, or by email at <AffiliateAction@nfb.org>. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Joanne Wilson
Executive Director of Affiliate Action
National Federation of the Blind

Elected:

On February 4, 2006, the Kankakee Heartland Chapter of the NFB of Illinois elected the following officers: Bryan Turner, president; Frank Einfeldt, vice president; Ruth Isaacs, secretary; Bill Isaacs, treasurer; and Marcia Beck, board member.

New Chapter:

The newest chapter of the NFB of Washington was welcomed on Sunday, April 2, 2006, during the affiliate’s mini convention. It is located in Bellingham, in the northwest area of Washington. The officers elected were president, Jennifer Moerke; vice president, Jacob Struiksma; secretary-treasurer, Lisa A. Owen; and resource manager, Mark Clifford. Congratulations to this new member of the Federation family.

In Memoriam:

Susie Stanzel, president of the NFB of Kansas, has written with sadness to report that longtime Federation leader Carol Clark died on January 29, 2006. She was one of Dr. Jernigan's early students at the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Those days spent in training were probably the happiest of her life. For many years she was a medical transcriptionist at Iowa Methodist Hospital. After coming to Kansas City, she was hired at the Kansas School for the Blind and saw to it that many thousands of Braille pages were made available for Kansas students. She founded and was the first president of the Secretaries and Transcribers Division, now the National Association of Office Professionals. She was secretary of the NFB of Kansas and served as the president of the Johnson County Chapter. Carol had been ill for some time before her death. We will miss her greatly.

New Division for Antique Car Lovers:

Joe Naulty, president of the newly established classics, antiques, rods, or special interest vehicles (CARS), writes to announce meetings of the newest NFB division during the upcoming convention. This is what he says:

Interested in classics, antiques, rods, or special interest vehicles--trucks, motorcycles, or model cars? Well, here it is, a brand new division to develop friendships, share experiences, and have fun. We are planning special surprise activities to be outlined in the convention agenda. Sunday, July 2, 7:00 p.m., general meeting, guest speakers from automobile clubs and automotive groups in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. On Tuesday, July 4, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., there will be a business meeting.

The CARS division will have a table in the exhibit hall. We will provide program agendas for the division, offer car-related items for sale, and connect car lovers. Annual membership dues of $5 may be mailed to the CARS division treasurer Mike Stauffer, 696 Lancaster Pike, New Providence, Pennsylvania 17560, (717) 572-8008. Specific inquiries, comments, and suggestions may be forwarded to Joseph Naulty, 11943 Suellen Circle, Wellington, Florida 33414, (561) 753-4700, or email <jbnaulty@adelphia.net>.


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.

Seeing it Our Way:

Craft patterns, recipes, puzzles, and poems--you'll find all these and more in Seeing it Our Way, the monthly publication of Horizons for the Blind. This magazine is available in both Braille and large print. To subscribe for one year, make your check or money order for $30 payable to Horizons for the Blind, 2 N. Williams Street, Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014. You can also telephone your credit card order to (815) 444-8800. While you're at it, why not get a head start on those summer and fall craft and gardening projects by asking for their free product catalog, available in Braille, large print, and audiocassette.

New Tactile Maps Available:

Atlas of Southeast Asia is a single volume of Braille and tactile maps covering eleven countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and the Philippines. Each country has an introductory page of facts followed by one or more key pages and a full-page map. Indonesia, a far-flung nation, has been subdivided into seven regional maps. Both Myanmar and the Philippines have been divided into northern and southern parts.

Maps show important cities, rivers, mountains, and bodies of water. A few maps appear on facing pages or have foldout sections. Maps are generally labeled with key letters that are identified in the Brailled key pages preceding the map. The maps were originally created by hand in metal foil; the Thermoform copies are sharp and clear. Maps are detailed, and some experience with tactile drawings is recommended. A number of other atlases and maps are also available from the Princeton Braillists.

Atlas of Southeast Asia contains twenty-three maps, eighty-three pages total. It is bound with cardboard covers and a multi-ring binder. Cost is $18. Shipping is by the Free Matter privilege unless other arrangements are made. Please send check or purchase order to the Princeton Braillists, 76 Leabrook Lane, Princeton, New Jersey 08540. Credit card and fax service are not available. Allow four weeks for delivery. For further information please call Ruth Bogia at (215) 357-7715 or Nancy Amick at (609) 924-5207.

New CD Available:

Ohio convention banquet and memorial service audiences have thrilled for years to the voice and musicianship of Dr. J. W. Smith. Now his latest CD, Hymns Plus, is available. A combination of his favorite hymns and dramatic prose, it is filled with comfort, inspiration, and encouragement to everyone who hears it. The cost is $10 at convention, and the Ohio delegation can direct you to the best place to purchase it at our hotel this summer. To order it for yourself or someone else who needs a lift, send a check or money order in the amount of $12 ( this includes $2 for postage and handling) to Dr. J. Webster Smith, 2 Canterbury Drive, Athens, Ohio 45701-3707. Email <jsmith1@ohiou.edu>.


Monitor Mart

The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.

For Sale:

I am selling a Compact electronic magnifier from Optelec. Original price $790; asking $650. Used only a few times because it didn't work out well for me with my level of vision.

The colors can be changed from black to white background with the opposite color for contrast. Blue and yellow can also be obtained with a button control. Focuses well. Print size is constant. The Compact comes with an instruction booklet and a cord for recharging. The charge lasts for four hours. It may be ideal for a student or someone who likes to read. Materials must be laid on a flat surface for viewing with the unit. Consult Optelec's Web site for more details about the Compact. I can send it UPS if desired. If interested, contact Susan Blake at <littledietitian@yahoo.com>, or (760) 241-7484.

Pen Friends Interested in the Bible Wanted:

I would like to hear from fellow blind Bible readers who also like to write letters. I don’t have topics in mind, but I promise to write back to any Bible reader who writes to me. Send Braille letters to Sue Perry, 21474 Waverly Dr., Macomb Township, Michigan 48044.

For Sale:

I am selling JAWS Professional, never opened, still in box. Purchased in March of 2006 for $1,095. Asking $800 or best offer received by June 15. Call (812) 282-4240 or (502) 314-4472, or email <debrawhitt@sbcglobal.net> with the word “JAWS” in the subject line.

For Sale:

Nokia 3600 Series 60 cell phone for sale with Talks software included. Asking $200. Contact Bob Rehahn at (734) 324-7700 if interested.

For Sale:

I would like to sell a Braille Lite Millennium 20 in good condition. I am asking $2,000 for the unit. Included will be the battery charger and the cable to connect it to a computer to transfer files. If interested, email me at <sarahandfamily@hotmail.com>, or call (806) 382-4870.

Low-Cost Computers Available:

Join your friends in using a refurbished 350-MHZ-or-faster pentium-based computer for a gift of $100. Listen on your Talking Book playback machine to eight audio cassettes for a step-by-step tutorial on how to use Windows and Window-Eyes from Brian Hartgen, including email and reading Web pages. The package includes a demo copy of Window-Eyes. Keep track of your tax and insurance files. Write letters and emails to your friends and family. Keep your own recipes and family genealogy records. Send and receive email. A sample copy of an email service, Juno, and a shareware screen-enlargement program are provided.

If you have wanted to own your own computer, now is your chance. Call Bob Langford at (214) 340-6328 during business hours. CDT. This offer is good in the U.S. and Canada only. Mastering the computer is a lot of work, but it offers you many new pleasures.

For Sale:

I have a Magic Chef Talking Microwave Oven, model #TMOD-MCMCD11E3W for sale. It is one cubic foot in size and 850 watts. Tells current time and how to set cook time and power level. Has volume control and labeled touch pad. Never used because it doesn’t fit built-in space. Measures 21.25 inches wide by 14.25 inches high by 11.75 inches deep. Asking $250.00 plus $30.00 shipping. Catalogue price was $369.95. Contact Larry at <jlr@houston.rr.com>, or call (281) 444-0907.

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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