by Peggy Elliott
From the Editor: For as long as I have been a member of the Federation, the NFB has opposed the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving Persons with Blindness or Visual Impairment (NAC). In the early years it was a war we fought with desperation every time a battlefield appeared. When the NAC board met in its closed meetings, the organized blind gathered outside, chanting, marching, and singing NFB songs about NAC that we found clever and pointed, whatever the NAC board members thought of them. We called the demonstrations outside NAC’s annual board meeting the “highlight of the fall social season” in the same way that the Washington Seminar in the winter and the national convention in summer provided both fun and stimulating and useful activity.
Sometime in the eighties NAC tried moving its meeting to mid-December in the hope, we assumed, that so close to the holiday season Federationists would be unwilling to take the time and unable to afford the expense of congregating outside their meetings. We responded by writing NAC carols with which to serenade them and entertain passers-by. We called these protests “NAC Tracking,” and, though the activity took its toll on our voices, it instilled a toughness and dedication that were intensely invigorating to our movement. Fortunately or unfortunately, nothing in the blindness field today provides Federationists with equivalent training and discipline. In fact, though it is difficult for people of my generation to comprehend, newer and younger Federationists know only vaguely about NAC and the threat to quality services that it once represented.
I reflected on all this when I was recently told that Colorado, which for decades, maybe always, could boast of being a NAC-free environment, had suddenly been saddled with a local agency’s decision to seek NAC accreditation. Partly this happened because many blind Coloradans have forgotten or never really understood what NAC represents and what damage its attitudes toward quality service can bring about.
Whenever it is again time to examine the NAC issue, I turn immediately to Peggy Elliott, who has helped general the NAC battles through the years and has been our NAC historian of record for almost two decades. Rather than asking her simply to report on NAC’s current situation, I suggested that she review the history for those who have forgotten and those who have never understood the antipathy between NAC and the organized blind. The following article is her review of the history and assessment of NAC. This is what she says:
Abraham Lincoln and P.T. Barnum, nineteenth century contemporaries and each a giant in his field of endeavor, both commented upon the human condition. Lincoln famously said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” More succinctly, P. T. Barnum, the entertainment impresario who popularized the three-ring circus, is supposed to have said: “There’s a sucker born every minute,” though some historians dispute this quote, if not its sentiment. Both men in their own ways pointed to a human failing we all share: gullibility.
We have all believed things or believed in things or believed in people we later learn to be less than or different from what we had supposed. Our human capacity to believe and our human yearning for the good can lead us to believe what we later discover were exaggerations, pure puffery, or lies. The motivation of the exaggerator or liar is usually obvious and can range from self-delusion through greed to pure, mean evil. The impulses motivating the person being tricked come from a much more complex array of causes, including a deep desire to do good, and can range from greed and malice through inattention and lack of education to a yearning for the good of others. Studying gullibility, in other words, requires probing both the motives of the deceiver and of the deceived.
Our American form of government, for example, is rooted in the belief that self-interest is the strongest guardian of political, economic, and civil rights. We all learn some version of the concept so lucidly explained by James Madison that public discussion during elections and concerning issues of the day is the best guarantee that good ideas will prevail and bad or crooked or discriminatory ones will be discovered and rejected. Madison’s prescription for preventing gullibility by government, government officials, and the people was constant, routine, omnivorous free speech.
Much of what the National Federation of the Blind does involves combating gullibility. The public at large and, all too often, blind people ourselves believe myths and erroneous stereotypes about blindness and then act, individually or collectively, upon those myths as truth. If a blind person’s vocational goal or an agency’s array of services is based on myth, that goal or those services will miss the mark. Part of the Federation’s mission is to untangle deceived from deceiver, to explain to those who have been deceived what the truth is and how to shed erroneous beliefs while, at the same time, hunting down and exposing the deceivers, those who derive wealth or power or community approval by exaggerating or lying about the blind to aggrandize themselves. Federationists long ago abandoned our gullibility when it comes to proclamations of concern for blind people. Applying the Madisonian test, the more someone claims to care about and want to help blind people and the more we probe the resulting motives and actions, the more often we find that claimed motives of charity are being worn like sheep’s clothing to cover actions rooted in the oldest and most false myths about the incompetence and inability of blind people.
Take NAC, for example. To the surprise of some and unbeknown to most, the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving People with Blindness or Visual Impairment (the modern, politically correct version of that venerable old name “NAC”) has now passed its fortieth birthday and is a mere eight years from achieving the half-century mark. NAC’s survival is a tribute to human gullibility and also a regrettable reminder of the persistent impulse of some humans to fool their fellow men and women.
NAC was born with fanfare, spent its early years in controversy, and has idled away its last several decades not even on the sidelines but somewhere behind the bleachers, out of sight and unnoticed by most. For a long time it didn’t have its own Website, lurking hidden away on the Website of a supporter. Recently NAC acquired its own Web address (Nacasb.org) to which, in mid-August of 2008, the most recent postings were from December 2006, and on which the most recent list of NAC-accredited agencies was dated in 2003. Attempts to review additional material on the site were for a time frustrated by the expiration of the site on August 16, 2008, a fitting metaphor for NAC’s viability. By late September the site had reappeared, but the content had not been updated in the slightest.
A review of Monitor articles on the subject of NAC along with knowledge of NFB history yields the following historical summary. The National Federation of the Blind from its founding in 1940 grew slowly for its first decade and then, in the 1950s, more quickly to the point where, in the late 1950s, it was clearly going to establish affiliates in every state. This nationwide spread was temporarily halted when the Federation underwent a four-year period of progressively more divisive internal strife from 1957 to 1961, concluding at the 1961 national convention when a significant minority was either expelled or voluntarily departed from the organization.
Shortly after the Federation’s 1961 convention, planning meetings were called and discussions begun about establishing an accreditation organization for the field of work with the blind. Observers of the field may differ about whether accreditation was merely thought of at the same time the NFB suffered a split or whether that low point in the organized blind movement gave agencies for the blind the idea that they needed to consolidate their power before the Federation could rebuild, but the historical coincidence is as undeniable as is the fact that Federationists were rare indeed among the hundreds of people invited to think up an accreditation plan. The American Foundation for the Blind spearheaded and largely funded these discussions, attended by all the well-known leaders of blindness agencies from around the country.
As a result of these discussions NAC itself was founded in 1966, still largely funded by the American Foundation for the Blind, to accredit agencies serving blind people. It was intended to be the path through which agencies received not only blindness-community approval but also funding, which should, in NAC’s view, be conditioned on NAC accreditation. Federationists from the beginning characterized NAC as expensive, irrelevant, and designed to enshrine agency control of assessment of service quality as a means of keeping the weakened and then recrudescent consumer movement from having a voice in those assessments.
NAC’s first eight years of operation, from 1967 to 1975, saw half of all agencies that have ever chosen to be accredited by NAC apply and receive accreditation. During those same eight years the Federation rebounded from its split and established affiliates in every state. NAC reached its high-water mark in 1986 with 104 accredited agencies. From 1986 to 1999 NAC accredited twenty new agencies and lost seventy-seven, leaving its total of U.S. accredited agencies at forty-six. (Adding twenty to the 1986 total and then subtracting seventy-seven leaves forty-seven, one more than the actual number in 1999, likely explained by the addition of a Canadian agency counted in the earlier numbers but excluded by NFB by the time of the 1999 report. All numbers since 1999 are U.S.-only numbers.) From 1999 to 2003, the last list NAC has published, the total sank even lower, to forty.
Thirty-three states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) have no NAC agency within their borders. Thirteen more states have only a single NAC agency, leaving only six states that have more than one NAC agency--Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio. The organized blind in those six states make no claim to the NAC agencies where they live being superior to those in other states and often assert the reverse. Moreover, in at least two of those states NAC’s original desire to condition federal, state, and private money on holding NAC certification was actually or virtually achieved; many Florida agencies believe they need NAC accreditation to receive state funds, even though this is not true, and Ohio agencies receiving state funds must show accreditation from a short state-approved list on which NAC has managed to appear. Florida and Ohio are the two states with the highest number of NAC-accredited agencies, accounting for nearly half of the forty remaining NAC agencies, and it is easy to see why agencies in those states remain loyal: they must or think they must do so to get their money.
The field of work with the blind has three large types of agencies along with numerous smaller geographically or issue-focused agencies. The three large types are a vocational rehabilitation agency in each state, schools for the blind in most states, and sheltered workshops for the blind affiliated with National Industries for the Blind and included as one of the three mainline types of agencies because their NIB affiliation brings in substantial federal procurement contracts. In 2008 not a single state vocational rehabilitation agency for the blind holds NAC accreditation; only eight schools for the blind do; and only ten workshops do. Fewer than half of the forty accredited agencies come from one of the three mainline agency types. In other words, a majority of the current NAC agencies, twenty-two (55 percent) are the smaller geographic or issue-focused agencies. And, interestingly, ten of the thirteen states with only one NAC agency have as their one NAC agency a mainline agency, suggesting that these six schools and four workshops still hearken back to the all-knowing agency professional model and are thus uninterested in what blind consumers think, while the rest of the agencies in those states have moved forward with the times.
Combining lists from an AFB-published list of agencies on its Website, which includes all VR agencies, with lists from National Industries for the Blind, the Council of Schools for the Blind, and the National Council of Private Agencies for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and eliminating duplications yields in 2008 a total of 440 agencies serving the blind in the United States, of which fewer than 10 percent are accredited by NAC forty-two years after NAC’s founding.
NAC’s early years featured board and membership meetings closed to the public and blind consumers, provoking charges of secret decision-making but never an effort to hide the identities of the accredited agencies. In these latter days it is impossible to find a public list of NAC-accredited agencies dated later than 2003, provoking snickers of derision and suggestions that NAC’s remaining remnant of agencies prefers not to be publicly identified.
Stepping back from this historical summary and review of NAC statistics, the observer can readily detect that the entire field of work with blind people would have been different if the Federation had not opposed NAC. Whatever its standards, whatever their value, whatever else had happened, NAC was on a trajectory in its early years to achieve control of work with the blind, logging over 20 percent affiliation with it in its first two decades. Today its adherents are less than 10 percent and a secret. Even the director of the American Foundation for the Blind, a former NAC staffer himself and a proponent of NAC accreditation in service agencies he headed or worked with for most of his career, publicly urged NAC to dissolve in 2003 at a summit NAC called to assess its future. So how does it happen that NAC is still around even though it’s hard to find and harder to justify?
Let us remember the subject of gullibility so well described by Abraham Lincoln and P. T. Barnum and then move to a summary of the Federation’s criticisms of NAC as a means of discerning why that gullibility still moves some to associate with this odd anachronism from the 1960s. Here is a list of NAC’s failings described by the Federation during NAC’s forty-two-year history. While these seven NAC failings are summarized here, ample documentation in Federation literature exists for all, and they are provided in no particular order, especially since they often reinforce one another:
1. NAC costs too much. For most of its life NAC’s accreditation cost most agencies $2,500 a year plus the costs of the on-site team doing the accreditation review and the cost of agency staff performing the required self-study prior to accreditation. Estimates of NAC’s five-year cost ranged from $15,000 to $20,000 for most agencies, depending on how large the on-site team was and how lavishly it was entertained. These estimates never included the cost of staff time for the mandatory self-study, which precedes accreditation in the NAC context. As NAC fell on hard times, it reportedly lowered the cost of the annual accreditation fee, promised small teams, which were often two people, to keep costs down, and pledged to keep costs down by bringing people from nearby agencies only. None of these moves has increased its customer base.
2. NAC’s standards are so irrelevant that no cost whatsoever is justified. Early versions of the NAC standards mimicked local fire and building codes, which already applied to the agency anyway and applied administrative and budgetary rules from then-current management theory. The standards in effect measured easily measurable facts while completely ignoring quality of service or outcome for clients, harder to measure than the number of building exits provided by an agency, but the real point of having an agency at all. By the 2003 summit initiated by NAC to determine its future, even its adherents agreed that the standards were out of date and needed revision. NAC used to have a Commission on Standards, but it was disbanded for financial reasons and has not functioned for at least a decade. At the 2003 summit NAC’s supporters agreed that outcome-based assessment was undesirable and pledged to find grant funding for updating their objective, measurable standards. In other words they agreed to keep the structure of ignoring agency outcomes as their model for accreditation.
3. NAC accredits anyone who pays its fees, and no agency has ever been reported to have failed NAC accreditation, which makes that accreditation useless. In fact, there are numerous instances during NAC’s forty-two years of existence when agencies who ceased payment of accreditation fees were still included as accredited on NAC’s list of accredited agencies because NAC hoped to retain them in its fold by this act of kindness. NAC’s original pitch was that its standards represented all that was good about service to blind people, but that claim long ago gave way to mere gratitude to any agency willing to seek or renew accreditation and the natural consequence that literally anyone can get accredited just by asking and paying a small fee. In contrast, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) has rigorous standards by which it measures applicants, and it rejects or grants provisional accreditation to those agencies barely meeting its standards with noted deficiencies. When CARF accreditation is renewed, CARF on-site teams show up with extensive notes of previous deficiencies and commence a full review. With CARF you get rigor and public labeling of full, provisional, or no accreditation, giving the label meaning. And accreditation in the traditional CARF areas like hospitals is so well understood and expected that entities without it are easy to identify and the reason for their lack of accreditation learned. With NAC you pay your money and go through the motions, but the accreditation is assured by the mere fact of application. So few agencies are accredited that lack of accreditation is meaningless, and its presence is usually so little understood as to be equally meaningless.
4. NAC accreditation itself is meaningless because it’s simply an old-pal network of pals affirming that their pals uphold the outmoded 1960s style of all-knowing professionals in charge of the blind. NAC accreditation is performed by peers, which in the field of work with the blind means friends vouching for friends. The pledge in recent years to bring small on-site teams from nearby to cut costs has merely emphasized this flaw. From its inception NAC has existed for the purpose of imposing irrelevant objective standards as the sole measure of quality service. In the relatively small field of work with the blind, colleagues tend to know one another and to know which colleagues share their views on service models and the consumer organizations. NAC at one time represented the dominant view in the field, but the paradigm has long since shifted away from the all-knowing professional model espoused by NAC. Whether early on or today, NAC’s on-site teams already know what they think of the applicant for accreditation, and the result is never in doubt.
5. The widely recognized and valued accreditation for hospitals and colleges is based on the objective presence or absence of a highly specialized body of knowledge acquired by study and practice, but service to blind people does not contain such a body of knowledge. NAC has tried to convince people that the Federation opposes accreditation, but this has never been true. Instead the Federation has consistently maintained that the field of work with the blind is not like those of hospitals or higher education. In the NAC view highly trained and experienced professionals with rare and arduously acquired specialized knowledge should be in charge of agencies for the blind and their blind clients. These highly trained and experienced professionals can recognize one another when serving on on-site teams and thus grant accreditation appropriately. In the Federation’s view NAC’s view is a lot of nonsense and held the field of work with the blind back for far too long. The Federation advocates a common-sense approach to blindness, accessible to anyone who thinks clearly on the subject and readily accessible to every blind person. Blind people more and more understand that we do not need lifetime caregivers but rather appropriate training and positive beliefs, which are the foundation for each of us personally to create our own independence by living successful lives without sight. Much of the field of work with the blind has voted with its feet, choosing to move away from the all-knowing professional model and engage more directly with consumer organizations and consumer criticisms of failed and inadequate service based on the outmoded caregiver model. While some agencies have more successfully rejected the caregiver model than others, agencies by the hundreds have rejected the opportunity to accredit with NAC and deliberately adopt the all-knowing professional model.
6. NAC’s standards should never be the gateway to funds as NAC hoped would happen. Agencies for the blind receiving public money already account for this money through the political process, and agencies funded by charitable donations in a sense have a closer link to their funders, who must be motivated to give by belief in the value of gifts. In other words, for both public and private agencies, funding already generates one type of accountability regarding each agency’s funding sources. In these days of tight budgets and increased demand for services, no agency is looking for duplicative ways to validate its value, leading to the conclusion that NAC has not only irrelevant standards but also irrelevant accreditation. As mentioned previously, NAC has actually managed to remain on a list of accreditation agencies from which Ohio agencies receiving state funds must show accreditation, and Florida’s agencies act as though there is a similar requirement though this is untrue. It seems regrettable that Ohio state officials are so unsure of their own ability to assess quality service that they are willing to accept accreditation based on an outmoded and frankly offensive service model. The other forty-nine states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico have no such trouble, and in fact Florida has state-based standards, which are the actual requirement for receipt of state funds. Put more bluntly, Ohio’s state officials are still fooled by the large number of NAC agencies in that state into believing they are doing the right thing when, in fact, the rest of the nation has moved on to another, much more service-oriented approach, leaving Ohio’s service system mired in the all-knowing service model with which its own agency beneficiaries are content. NAC itself is headquartered in Ohio, where the second-largest number of NAC agencies per state is located, suggesting that pure, old-fashioned political pull and not quality service explains the outdated mandatory use of NAC’s dying service model in that state only.
7. The other existing type of accountability for all agencies already exists in the results they achieve. Blind consumers who use the services and who know about blindness provide vital assessments of the value of agency services, and consumer organizations of blind people provide routine, ongoing feedback to agencies serving the blind who are interested in their quality of service, as assessed by their customers. In fact federal law requires regular interaction with blind consumers as a condition of receiving vocational rehabilitation money, and the boards of more and more agencies are welcoming blind members, nearly unheard of when NAC was founded. While blind consumers can easily agree that the quality of agency services can still significantly improve, we less often encounter these days the kind of in-your-face, sight-is-right arrogance and institutionalized custodialism so prevalent before and during the 1960s and embodied in the NAC standards. In direct opposition to the conclusion of the NAC summit in 2003, agencies around the country are more alert today than ever to the outcome of their services, and the trend now firmly set is unlikely to be reversed. In other words, NAC accreditation seeks to override both funder and consumer accountability, replacing them with the NAC all-knowing standard which completely validates everything the agency does at a time when most agencies serving the blind are content with the accountability they currently have.
Given NAC’s track record, almost everyone in the field—funders, consumers, and agencies—agree that paying any amount for its services is not justified and that accountability for funds and results already exists. So the reasonable question to ask is: how does NAC survive? Another way to ask this question is to divide the topic into two halves and ask instead: why do some agencies retain their association with NAC, and why does NAC continue to offer its outdated and unwanted accreditation? Abraham Lincoln and P. T. Barnum may now re-emerge and urge us to assay the motives of both the deceiver and the deceived. Let us start with the deceived.
We earlier postulated that the range of motives for the deceived can be very wide and can include both ignorance and benevolence. In the current century, as we have seen, the model of the all-knowing agency professional class has largely been rejected. But not completely. One can still find specimens in the field of work with the blind, people who believe that their professional training or their unique gifts or experience entitle them to instruct blind people what they may do, what they may think, and on whom they should be dependent. This group of all-knowing professionals is rightly classified along with NAC as part of the deceiver class, and we will leave analysis of their motivations to be aggregated with those of NAC itself. For the rest, we can assume that agencies still associated with NAC are either woefully ignorant or misguidedly benevolent. They are agency professionals who are either honestly unaware of the changes in the field of work with the blind, who can be fooled into thinking that NAC’s claims of high standards and quality validation must be true because no one would make such claims without justification, or they so yearn to do good that they overlook the possibility that people who mouth the words that NAC does may not share their own impulse actually to do good. These uninformed or soft-headed professionals have taken a wrong turn, but they have been impelled into their unfortunate detour by their own gullibility and NAC’s eagerness to entice them out of the mainstream. Observers of the field can rightly criticize their poor judgment and powers of observation without concluding that such professionals are consciously adopting the all-knowing professional model. In many cases the agencies they represent are smaller city-based or regional agencies flattered by being invited to play with the big boys. They just don’t understand that the big boys they happen to be playing with are a small group of bullies whose ideas derive from the last century, with legitimate ties to the century before that, and who have chosen not to change with the times but rather to hope that the times can be brought back around to their archaic stance and the good old days when agency professionals ruled and blind men and women obeyed.
Thus it is hard to categorize the agency of today that has voluntarily associated itself with NAC. Rumors persist that a small agency named Insight in Fort Collins, Colorado, has recently sought and accepted NAC accreditation. With only a five-year-old list of accredited agencies and no updated Website information to check, this agency’s insistence that it has recently become NAC-accredited must be accepted. Why would an agency insist that it is newly NAC-accredited, given all the reasons to run fleet-footed from such opprobrium, unless it is true? The only thing an observer can do is shake the head sadly, note that Abraham Lincoln and P. T. Barnum both spoke truly, and then mourn for the Coloradans who have enjoyed a NAC-free environment for so many years only to have the gullibility of a small agency taint that pristine condition.
With most large agencies for the blind casually uninterested in NAC and most states NAC-free, we can pity that small group of agencies whose gullibility betrays them into remaining NAC-accredited. But what of NAC itself and those agency professionals who still proclaim that the all-knowing professional model and not the outcome model is the correct assessment tool for judging agency quality? These are not the deceived but the deceivers, the men and women who have chosen to espouse the outdated service model first championed by NAC in 1966 and now rejected by the field it claims to measure. These are not people fooled by ignorance or benevolence. They are the ones doing the fooling, the ones keeping alive that silly notion that blind people need guards and protectors and want lifetime dependency on caring professionals.
One of their leaders is Steven Hegedeos, NAC’s executive director since 2001. Pretty much every time Mr. Hegedeos speaks about accreditation, he mentions that he has saved two other accreditation bodies from dissolution before joining the stumbling NAC. It seems likely, then, that Mr. Hegedeos has assigned himself the life task of taking moribund accrediting bodies and reviving them, regardless of the reason for the body’s original decline. Or, put another way, Mr. Hegedeos is determined to succeed in his life goal whether the field of work with the blind wants accreditation or not. His comments seem largely to involve the subject of accreditation, regardless of context and unrelated to the alleged beneficiaries. A life devoted to accreditation has happened to collide with a dying accrediting body, and the resulting fusion will not be allowed by Mr. Hegedeos to expire, not even if the field offered that accreditation almost completely ignores it.
The remaining NAC champions, mostly heads of a few NAC-accredited agencies themselves, get to be big fish in a little pond. With only forty agencies accredited, it’s not hard to rise to the top of the pool if you shout louder than the next guy about how great NAC is. The same outmoded system NAC upholds—all-knowing professionals providing care to the frail blind—also creates a hierarchy of professionals with those most vocally supporting NAC the ones tapped to hold its offices and go on its on-site teams.
Put in Lincoln’s terms, we have the outdated fooling some gullible agencies all the time by annually collecting NAC accreditation fees from them, the outdated fooling the field of work with the blind all the time by not appearing to pose a sufficient threat to be worth the euthanizing (except to the Federation and AFB’s director), and the outdated not able to fool all of the field all of the time since the field largely ignores NAC though it keeps receiving unpleasant reminders like the little Colorado agency’s recent accreditation that NAC has not yet left the field for good. Or, put more succinctly, the Colorado agency proves that P. T. Barnum is right that suckers still exist, and we can hope for the day when, at least in the field of work with the blind, the chance for the anachronism of NAC to fool the gullible will finally be eliminated forever.
Or the field of work with the blind can look at the whole NAC situation from a different perspective, the one in the child’s rhyme:
Yesterday upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today.
I wish, I wish he’d go away.
As kids we all liked the fast-paced rhyming and weren’t overly bothered by the words’ making no sense. Now as adults we can easily apply them to NAC, an accreditation agency which essentially hasn’t been there for more than half of its existence. In case after case, when blind people were receiving poor service, NAC issued and maintained accreditations. In case after case chronicled in the Monitor, when blind people and especially children were being assaulted and endangered to the point of death, in case after case where employees were being mistreated and funds embezzled and the analysis of blind consumers being ignored, NAC issued and maintained accreditation. As the field moved on beyond NAC’s outmoded approach, NAC issued and maintained accreditations to an ever-shrinking list to the point where NAC has become that man upon the stair, clearly there and clearly not, encountered very occasionally as in the instance of that little Colorado agency and then disappearing quite literally off the Web and, when present, providing information years out of date. It’s been time for a long while for NAC to go away, though neither lack of success nor lack of funding nor even the recommendation of the
AFB director seems to get the job done. But some day everyone knows NAC will quietly wither away.
Perhaps yet another way of viewing NAC, of considering it that man upon the stair, is to go back to our wise sixteenth president and rest our hopes on one more quotation of his. Lincoln had that knack of compressing into a few words the wisdom he had absorbed, and his deep sense of equality before the law and before his God comes out in a quotation which could as easily be applied to NAC and to those agencies which seek to rule the blind according to the all-knowing professional view. Just think if this prescription by Lincoln could be filled by placing those all-knowing professionals where they seek to place their clients. It’s easy to imagine then how quickly NAC would be gone. Lincoln put it this way: "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."