Braille Monitor                                                 October 2011

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bulletin board display in the Betsy Zaborowski Conference Room in the Jernigan Institute pays tribute to the legal scholarship of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the founding president of the National Federation of the Blind.

This bulletin board display in the Betsy Zaborowski Conference Room in the Jernigan Institute pays tribute to the legal scholarship of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the founding president of the National Federation of the Blind. The white letters of the board’s title, “The Right to… Live in the World,” pop off the black background. The title is divided into two segments: “The Right to…” left-justified across the top of the board, and “Live in the World” right-justified across the bottom. The board’s trim depicts a city skyline with craft foam cut-outs providing tactile representations of the buildings. Six white containers are affixed to the board, three on the left side and three on the right. They are classic cigar boxes with the flat lid swinging upward to reveal the contents. They are mounted with the closed lid of each box facing the observer. The words “The Right to…” appear in raised print and Braille on the outside of each box. When you open each lid, you find additional text, including a quotation outlining one of the rights Dr. tenBroek claimed for the blind as people who live in the world. Inside the boxes are tangible objects that represent the right described on the lid. A few of the box contents are lighthearted, illustrating Dr. tenBroek’s sense of humor.

The first box focuses on Dr. tenBroek’s fight for academic freedom. The second features an issue Dr. tenBroek began working on in the 1940s and one that the Federation is still working on today, the right to organize and earn a decent wage. The third discusses the right to due process in law and quotes Dr. tenBroek’s thoughts on the internment of Japanese Americans in relocation camps. The right to equal treatment regardless of race is the focus of the fourth box, including a quotation from Dr. tenBroek’s Law Review article, which was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. The fifth box addresses the right to have a funny nickname. It provides the back-story on how Dr. tenBroek acquired the nickname “Chick.” The last box is the most lighthearted of them all. It features a quote from a letter Jacobus wrote to his parents while he was a student at the California School for the Blind. In the letter he talks about sitting around in his underwear on a Saturday morning. So the right to sit around in your underwear is the focus of box number six.   

Centered near the top of the board is a picture of Dr. tenBroek superimposed on a tactile map of the world. To the left of the map is the following quotation from Dr. tenBroek’s Law Review article “The Right to Live in the World.” “The right of access to public accommodations and common carriers is a civil right. It is a basic right indispensable to participation in the community, a substantive right to which all are fully and equally entitled.” Below the map a quotation explains to passersby that in addition to rights Dr. tenBroek believed all people had responsibilities. Cards in primary colors and shaped like four of the seven continents, print and Braille writing instruments, and push pins are available near the bottom of the board so that visitors can write out the responsibilities they think we have and then pin their cards somewhere on the board.


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