MARCH ISSUE 1965
VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the blind- -it is the blind speaking for themselves
N. F.B. Headquarters 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
Published monthly in braille and distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind, President: Russell Kletzing, 2 341 Cortez Lane, Sacramento, California 95825
Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708
Acting Editor: Jacobus tenBroek
Assistant Editor: Floyd W. Matson
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708
News items and changes of address should be sent to the Editor.
POVERTY AND THE LAW
By Joseph T. Meissner
THE BLIND TYPHLOPHILE
By Milton Rosenblum
TYPHLOPHILE -- OR TYPHLOPHOBE? A REPLY
By Sand ford E. Allerton
BLIND CASEWORKER TELLS HOW HE DOES IT
ANOTHER VIEW ON HOUSING FOR THE BLIND
BRAILLE CHECKWRITER AIDS DEPOSITORS
THE WAR AGAINST MECHANICAL VENDORS
By Hamilton Newkirk
A WHITE CANE DEBATE: LIECHTY VS. TAYLOR
PROFILE OF THE I. F. B. 'S PRESIDENT
By Robert H. Owens
BLIND PEACE CORPSMAN REPORTS FROM NEPAL
DR. FATIMA SHAH - "A BEACON IN DARKNESS"
From The Pakistan Times
A VITAL DOCUMENT ON THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION
GUIDE DOG OR WHITE CANE: WHICH ONE?
By James B. Fall
KING-ANDERSON BILL HOLDS GAINS FOR BLIND
By John F. Nagle
RISING EMPLOYMENT OF BRITISH BLIND
By Joseph T. Meissner
(Editor's note: The growing national awareness of the problems of poverty in their relationship to law and welfare, evinced in earlier BRAILLE MONITOR articles by Elizabeth Wickenden (January 1965) and Professor Charles Reich (February 1965), are further illuminated in this conference report by Mr. Meissner, a student at Harvard Law School, Apart from their obvious significance for welfare generally, the themes and conclusions here reviewed have a familiar ring to the blind--in fact, four familiar rings:
1. Blind people as a group have historically been treated as a class among the poor, both because of the disproportionate incidence of blindness in that quarter and because of the failure of society to provide opportunities or incentives for the emergence of the blind from poverty.
2. The recognition in the present article of the poor as rightfully entitled to "speak for themselves" reflects a traditional political postulate of the National Federation -- embodied notably in the Kennedy Bill guaranteeing to the blind the right to organize and to be consulted.
3. The emphasis of the article on the use of law as "an instrument of orderly social change" also reflects a fundamental theme of the NFB -- implemented both through the enactment of new laws, by Congress and the legislatures, and through the use of the courts to press for needed changes: as in the famous Kletzing case opening up civil service opportunities, the Kirchner case challenging relatives' responsibility, and the numerous cases establishing the protective status of the white cane.
4. Finally, the call for expert legal advisors to assist the poor both individually and in their collective social needs mirrors a policy and practice long current on the part of the National Federation -- whose own legal experts have assisted and continue to assist blind individuals and groups throughout the country in the solution of their problems, whether legal, political, organizational or personal.
(In short, the new degree of concern and interest in the relations of poverty and the law, manifested in such articles as the following, represents a widening recognition and espousal of a line of thought and action long pioneered by the National Federation of the Blind. )
"Do you really respect the poor? Do you want them to speak out for themselves? Or is your interest in law and poverty only a new white man's burden, a new form of imperialism?"
These words from an address by Dr. Edgar Cahn of the Office of Economic Opportunity set the theme for a three-day conference on "Law and Indigency" held at the end of January at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. More than 200 law students from some 20 schools were represented.
Our society, according to Dr. Cahn, has made it a crime to be poor. This is most easily seen in criminal prosecutions in which indigent defendants too often have not secured adequate legal help. But more serious are the other sanctions of society for being poor, such as bad schools, worse housing, and lack of job opportunities. Dr. Cahn argued.
The challenge to the legal profession was made clear to the conference participants. "Can the common law," asked the Honorable Simon E. Sobeloff, retired Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, "adapt itself anew? Will a new breed of lawyers emerge who will use law as an instrument of orderly social change?"
It would be unfair to say that existing groups within the legal community have failed to do anything about the problem. The speakers stressed that good work has been done by legal aid societies and voluntary defender programs throughout the country in providing the indigent with legal help. Such groups, however, according to Mrs. Jean Cahn, formerly with the New Haven Project, are often viewed by the poor as part of that "composite man downtown who so often in the past has taken advantage of them."
The consensus of the conference was that the Legal Aid Societies would be brought closer to the people by the development of a program of neighborhood law clinics. These would be located in impoverished areas throughout a city to provide legal aid -- civil and criminal, corrective and preventive to the indigent. Employing an integrated approach of legal, social and psychiatric assistance, they would attempt to bring about Judge Sobeloff's "orderly social change," Their goal would be more than merely to help this client in this case, but rather to aid and correct the situation as a whole.
Most important of all, these neighborhood law clinics would seek to inform indigent families of their legal and civil rights, to bring about a broader enfranchisement of all groups within society, and to help the poor gain confidence in their ability to speak out on their own behalf. If such a program is to succeed, conference speakers pointed out, it would need the support of the entire legal community -- the universities, the bar associations, lawyers, and law students.
Professor Howard Sacks, a faculty member of Northwestern University Law School, gave concrete suggestions as to how law students can help. They can seek out existing groups, such as legal practitioners in poor neighborhoods, legal aid and defender societies, and civil rights organizations, to offer their services as legal researchers. Within the law school, students can urge that courses be offered in these areas. They can write research papers on topics connected with law and indigency. Of the highest importance. Professor Sacks maintained, was the necessity that students regard law not only as a resolver of private conflicts but as an instrument for the orderly achievement of a radical reconstruction of American society.
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By Milton Rosenblum
(Editor's note: The article which follows is a slightly abridged version of an address by Mr. Rosenblum, executive director of Boston Aid to the Blind, Inc., Jewish Guild, delivered before a convention of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts on September 26, 1964. The address, which sets forth a skeptical attitude toward independent organizations of the blind widely held among agencies for the blind, was subsequently published in both THE NEW OUTLOOK FOR THE BLIND and the braille ZIEGLER MAGAZINE FOR THE BLIND. Following Mr. Rosenblum's article, below, is a reply by Sandford E. Allerton, well-known national and Michigan federationist, written in the form of a letter to the editor of the ZIEGLER MAGAZINE.)
I don't know how many people went scurrying to Unabridged Dictionaries to discover the meaning of "typhlophile" when they read the title of my talk. For those of you who didn't have the time or ambition, Websters' Second International Dictionary defines "typhlophile" as "one benevolent to the blind, "In my terms it conjures up the image of the "do-gooder," the "lady and man-bountiful." It connotes people who are paternalistic, who speak of "their blind," who are condescending in their attitudes, who are overly protective, and who constantly interfere in the lives of the blind people with whom they come in contact.
There is among blind people the phenomena [sic] of the "Blind Typhlophile." He is the person, who, on the surface, reacts strongly against the typhlophile, but in the extremity of his reaction reaches the same basic conclusions that blind people are different and special, that blind people should have special treatment, that blind people should be in their organizations apart from the sighted world, and that blind people are alike in their needs and problems. The blind typhlophile rarely says these things directly, but rather says things which lead unalterably to these conclusions.
Let us examine some of the feelings of the blind typhlophile. First attitude -- The blind typhlophile states that he wants to be accepted as an individual by the community, as a person with dignity, rights and (occasionally) responsibilities. He does not want to be treated as a blind person, but rather as a person who is blind. On the other hand, he demands all sorts of special privileges for blind people, such as a pension for everyone who is blind, regardless of wealth. It is obvious that you cannot tell the world that you want to be treated as everyone else, and still demand all kinds of excessive special treatment which says to the world that "I am different and special."
Second attitude -- The blind typhlophile feels that society should recognize the fact that each blind person is different and an individual. He feels that the stereotype of the blind man hurts him. He doesn't like it. Yet on the other hand, he speaks of "We blind believe. . . or we blind want" . . . thus he is saying that he wants to be seen as an individual, and yet he speaks of all blind people as thinking alike. He wants to and has a need to perpetuate the "world of the blind."
Third attitude -- The blind typhlophile implies that "only a blind person can understand blindness and other blind people." He further believes that programs for blind people should be administered and/or staffed by blind people. And unfortunately, the blind typhlophile finds some support for his argument in reality. There are some workers in programs for blind people who have little or no understanding of themselves, of other people, nor the problems of blindness. However, I have seen both sighted and blind workers that I could put into this category. The condition of a person's eyes does not determine his warmth, nor his understanding of the problems of the person who is blind. Blindness in itself does not qualify a person to understand what blindness means to another individual. I know, and perhaps you do too, of blind, and sighted people, who perhaps meet the technical requirements for positions in agencies, but whom I would hate to see in those positions. It is true that blind people face discrimination in their search for jobs. However, I agree with Father Carroll, when he wrote in his book "Blindness" -- "When no jobs are open for competent blind persons elsewhere, we must be especially alert to opportunites for them with our agencies--if they are capable of filling those positions as well as any other person. But we must always insist that excellency, not blindness, is the qualification. The good of the great number of our blind clients cannot be sacrificed for the immediate satisfaction of the one blind person looking for a job."
Fourth attitude -- The blind typhlophile frequently feels that aggencies for blind people tend to exploit "the blind." Often implicit in his feelings, and sometimes stated, is that workers with blind people owe their jobs to them, and want to keep blind people in dependent positions. I have heard from time to time the statement "if it weren't for us, you would be out of a job." This may come as a shock to some people, but wouldn't it be grand if there were no blindness, and therefore no need for agencies for blind people. Since this is not on the immediate horizon, wouldn't it be marvelous if all the people who come to our programs at Boston Aid to the Blind, for instance, would be able to meet their social needs, and feel comfortable with sighted people, in their own community programs so that there would be no need for a Boston Aid to the Blind. The feeling of any sound professional social worker is that it would be ideal to work ourselves out of our jobs. However, once again, the blind typhlophile finds some support for his attitude in reality. There are agencies in this country which do exploit blind people. And there are workers in these organizations who seek to perpetuate their jobs by keeping blind people legally, emotionally, and physically dependent on them. But the answer to these situations does not lie in condeming all agencies, and all workers with blind people.
To summarize, what is the blind typhlophile really saying to the community? What kind of picture of blind people does he present? He is, in essence, saying that the interests and needs of blind people are so diverse from that of the community that blind people should be in their own separate organizations and agencies; that only a blind person can understand the blind, that agencies and sighted workers do not have the best interest of blind people at heart, nor do they understand what is best for blind people. Perhaps they don't even care. He re-enforces the stereotype of all blind people as being alike when he talks of "the blind" or "we blind want . . . " While he wants to present the picture of the blind person as an individual and standing on his own two feet, he really presents a picture of the "world of the blind" where blind people are special and so different that they deserve all kinds of special legislation to help them. And in all of this, I maintain that he re-enforces the image that the sighted typhlophile has of blind people; that blind people are different, need special care, special places of employment; that they are basically helpless and are less than whole people.
The blind typhlophile operates on a basis of reality. He is able to identify problems that face him in the community. But his solution is to remove himself from the community. This solution defeats his own stated aim of wanting to be treated as a person who is blind, rather than a blind person.
Perhaps I have given the impression that I totally fail to take into account the special needs and problems that blind people have. I recognize that many blind people have problems in mobility and that this is one of the vital losses experienced by blind people. I accept the fact that blind people who need it should have special help in this area, such as passes that permit a guide to ride with a blind person for one fare on public transportation, or special federal and state funds set aside to givemobility training to those who need it, I understand that many blind people cannot read, or learn braille, and must rely on a special talking book program in order to enjoy books. Father Carroll, in his book "Blindness" lists some twenty losses that come with blindness. Few of these are exclusive to blindness. Other people who are physically handicapped have the same problems in similar areas. There are many people who are not physically handicapped and have experienced many of the same losses.
I maintain that blind people should be integral parts of the life of their communities, and not separate from them. I feel that organizations of blind people should spend less time on sectarian causes for blind people, and identify and align themselves more with general interest and concern for the welfare of interested citizens in the community, rather than that of a special interest group lobbying for special favors. If you don't want to weaken many of the benefits and programs which are available to the legally blind person, then you seek to expand them to other people who have similar needs. You do not try to keep them as being exclusively for blind people only. My feeling is that only when blind people have joined with others to better their communities, will they be accepted as part of them.
Agencies have responsibilities, not only to provide services to their clients, but also to alter the poor public image of the blind person through community education. I honestly don't feel that most agencies have adequately lived up to this responsibility, my own included. However, if blind people want, as they say, understanding rather than pity, respect rather than paternalism, then it is your responsibility, the responsibility of each person who is blind, to avoid fitting the typhlophile image. Only then can the disease of "typhlophilia" be eradicated.
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By Sandford E. Allerton
Mr. Howard M. Liechty
Ziegler Magazine for the Blind
Monsey, New York
It seems to me that the article, "The Blind Typhlophile" by Mr. Milton Rosenblum, is very misleading and entirely out of place in the Ziegler. In effect it attempts to tell blind people what type of organizations they should belong to, if any, and what attitudes they should assume.
I am quite certain that government agencies for the veterans, senior citizens, and other minority groups do not follow this practice. Why should agencies for the blind enjoy this peculiar privilege?
Agencies for the Blind have no legal right to foster one organization of the blind over another. Agencies have a definite civic purpose which does not include the social control of the blind.
For some twenty years now I have been associated with an organization of the blind which preaches normalcy and independence. Although I have always been well adjusted to blindness, this ideal gave me the courage to apply to the agency to assist in obtaining a job. It also gave me the nerve to prod the agency until T became a part of the business community (in Michigan).
My association with my fellow blind in no way tied me to the "World of the Blind" nor promoted the concept of helplessness. I felt perfectly free to talk in terms of "We, the blind" and to assist in legislation for the blind which we, the blind, deemed necessary. At the same time I have been treated as an individual with dignity by the community in which I lived.
The idea that such activities promote segregation or impair the proper function of agencies is ridiculous and vicious.
I have never heard of any blind group wishing to take over the function of an agency, but I have heard of blind groups wishing to force agencies to function. I am quite certain that this is what bugs Mr. Rosenblum. It is quite true that my organization has, from time to time, found jobs for capable blind people, and I have never known them to advertise positions in agencies or otherwise without mentioning the word "qualified."
I have also known many blind people who found their own Jobs where agencies either failed or were unconcerned.
I think there is a very strong conviction that qualified blind people in agencies for the blind can do a better job than the sighted without the petty argument which Mr. Rosenblum brings up. This concept persists among blind people outside of organizations and it is often reinforced by experience. I have found that there are many techniques on a job which a blind person has to invent or learn and which could only be taught by the blind.
It is stupid to say that organizations of the blind interested in their own welfare assume that only the blind understand the blind. It is equally silly to assume that only the sighted professional understands the blind as to needs, jobs, social activity, and (may I add) "images."
It is encouraging to note that Mr. Rosenblum is willing to admit that some agency workers do exploit the blind or fail to understand them. There is no reason to think that agencies for the blind should not follow the pattern of other bureaucracies in this country.
Only criticism from organizations in all minority groups tend to correct this pattern.
One wonders who really fosters the image of the blind typhlophile? Is it that kind of agency (as in New York) which places containers on the street and collects building funds from the public with a sob story? Is it the agency which shoves blind people into special segregated workshops on wages for slave labor? Could it possibly be people like Mr. Rosenblum who preach to the blind as a segregated group and who seem to advocate dependence on agency thinking alone?
How about the agencies which approve of segregated social events where the blind may sing a little song or two and have a little dance?
Let us admit that there are many kinds of blind people who have problems peculiar unto themselves, a fact which is true of any minority group. But we do not hear of the "senior citizens typhlophile, " or the "veterans typhlophile." There are individuals in any organization who may really represent the typhlophile philosophy. But the organizations of the blind as such are not guilty. Unless, of course, we wish to accept this "agencyphile" point of view.
I, for one, reject it. My own life and experience refute it.
Sandford E. Allerton (Ph.B.)
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(Editor's note: In the following letter John A. Eckert, a social caseworker with the Blind Bureau of San Diego County's Department of Public Welfare, relates in detail the methods by which he has organized the many phases of his job -- involving a mass of paper work, maintaining case records, reading, briefing and frequent traveling. His account is of interest to all blind persons and of immediate value to those planning careers in social work or other professions with similar office and field duties. Recently advanced from probationary to regular status with the Bureau, Eckert is the second blind caseworker in San Diego's progressive public welfare staff -- the other being Don Queen, at work in the Aid to the Disabled Program.)
I am acquainted with Mr. Don Queen, who is employed in the San Diego County Department of Public Welfare in the Aid to the Disabled Program. Don has done a splendid job of organizing his job so it could be accomplished satisfactorily by a blind person. He is reputed to be a very dedicated social worker in the field and relates very well to his working companions. Don and I have had several chats together by telephone and in person, discussing the problems of handling the mass of paper work required in any public assistance program. Together, we have worked out a few of the knotty problems by making use of such mechanical aids as plastic templates, which can be placed over the paper form and a pencil or pen used to fill in the appropriate information in the appropriate box or slot.
Each of us uses a portable typewriter to do a good deal of our paper work and this is accomplished by establishing direction indexes on each of the paper forms. The directions employed in these indexes are very simple. The location of a specific piece of information is pinpointed by rolling the typewriter platen the appropriate number of clicks or notches down from the top edge of the paper form and then spacing from the edge of the paper form the appropriate number of spaces into the beginning of the specific information to be written.
I personally make use of a portable sound-scriber recorder, which I use to produce my directional indexes on the small, three-inch-diameter disks. By plugging an earphone into the machine, I can listen to the information on this directional index, while at the same time typing up the required information on a particular paper form. I use these same small sound-scriber disks to record case studies. I then deposit these disks in their respective case folders in an envelope which is stapled on the inside of the case-folder cover. When a question arises regarding a particular case, I need only go to my files, locate the case by a braille tag placed on each case folder, pull out the little sound recording, place it upon my sound scriber machine, and listen to the appropriate information; thus preparing me for discussion on the case.
I use a guide dog for mobility, and I have a secretary whom I employ twenty hours per week to assist me in my paper work and in transporting me into the field to visit clients.
The Blind Bureau is supervised by Mr. Jerry Goldman, who is an extremely understanding and flexible individual, so that the working atmosphere is made comfortable and free from excess anxiety. This makes for an ideal working situation when played with the complex problems of organizing a job to be handled by a blind person.
Congratulations are due to Mr. Homer Detrich, Director of the Department of Public Welfare here in San Diego, for his forward thinking and movement in the direction of hiring the blind in the Blind Bureau, as well as in the Aid to the Disabled Program. It seems to be a good indication for the opening of doors of opportunity for other qualified blind persons in the future.
Best of wishes in the success of the BRAILLE MONITOR and thank you again for your attention to my request.
John A. Eckert, Caseworker
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The resolution of the New York State Welfare Board opposing housing for the blind, which appeared in the BRAILLE MONITOR (January 1965), was evidently written by a sighted person; and I respectfully ask permission to give one blind man's opinion regarding the problem that I and many blind people over the nation have been facing.
The Board resolution suggests that the blind should live in their own homes; but not more than one-fifth throughout the nation own their homes. The rest live with relatives or in hotels and apartments not adapted to blind people at all. These people are in need of a hotel style of dwelling, that is as the old Alta-Vista Club which operated here in Los Angeles until it was condemned by the Department of Building and Safety Commission because of a faulty elevator and lack of safety doors at the open doorways.
Those of us who have tried living in this manner among blind people in this hotel, which had a good dining room that could be turned into a ballroom for dancing, and a diabetic table for those needing special food, were very happy. Every room had a telephone and private bath, with a bus to take us to places of recreation and many services, such as a barber at reduced prices, which we could not have afforded as individuals. No one who came there ever left while it was opened. No one wanted to leave when it was closed. Many of the blind have moved three or four times since leaving that fine home in the effort to find a satisfactory place to live.
Down the street from the Alta-Vista where we lived was a club for homeless bankers, who did not feel out of place or segregated, while the blind have had to accept a miscellaneous assortment of poor accommodations among sighted people, where they were not treated any too well.
We understand that there are housing projects in the planning stage in Glendale. Pasadena, and San Diego, California, that will cater only to blind people; the Braille Institute has been operating an apartment house back of their building on Vermont for a number of years, and could rent twice as many units if they had them. The success of these projects, and the number of blind that are interested, proves that more of such enterprises would be a success.
In closing, may I say that now is the time for the blind throughout the nation to write their U.S. Senators and Congressmen urging passing of the King Bill, which would raise the standard of aid throughout the nation and would enable the blind to afford these improved accommodations. Now is our chance, as the national administration of President Johnson is with us and has enough votes to pass beneficial social legislation.
826 West 8th Street
Los Angeles, California
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Now, for the first time in the long history of banking, blind depositors can have as much privacy in handling their checking accounts as sighted people, according to an article in the New York EAST SIDE NEWS (February 5, 1965).
This advance, for the benefit of blind people the world over, results from the invention at Chemical Bank New York Trust Company of a device for writing checks in braille and script, and also a system of rendering statements of accounts in braille.
Inventor of the checkwriter is Norman Henderson, 34-year-old officer's assistant in the bank's credit division at 20 Pine Street. An application has been filed by him with the U.S. Patent Office in Washington for a patent to be assigned to the bank.
It was two years ago, when Mr. Henderson was on assignment at Chemical New York's office at 60th Street and Lexington Avenue, that a blind young woman, a Miss Rosina Diaz, student at the Julliard School of Music, asked what a bank could do to enable sightless people to write their own checks independently.
Challenged to find a solution by Walter E. Flinch, assistant vice president in charge of the office, Mr. Henderson busied himself at the Lighthouse, New York Association for the Blind at 111 E. 59th Street to learn the tools of communication used by blind people.
Working closely with Thomas F. Gilmartin, blind administrator of home teaching and coordinator of the Training Division of The Lighthouse, and concentrating on the project in his woodworking shop at home in Montclair, New Jersey, Mr. Henderson devised a dozen or so experimental checkwriters from "do-it-yourself" aluminum. The most useful of the lot, as proven with several blind depositors, was a pair of hinged aluminum plates, with cutouts in the top one corresponding to the blank lines on a standard check, and braille cells for perforating other parts of a check. The device also had braille cells for the check stub so the user could keep full records in braille.
With a functional instrument finally tested. Chemical New York inquired of Aluminum Company of America for technical assistance to produce it in reasonable quantity. Alcoa examined the device, agreed upon its practicability and brought the bank together with a fabricator, S. Tepfer & Sons, Inc., of Brooklyn. Alcoa donated aluminum for the first 2,500 samples and the Tepfer firm provided its services at cost, and Chemical New York proposes to give the checkwriters free to its blind depositors. The bank also is waiving the minimum service charge for personal checking accounts for these individuals.
Meanwhile, the Chemical New York has developed a system for rendering monthly statements to blind depositors in braille. To facilitate the handling of such accounts in the bank's 127 offices in the New York area, a central bookkeeping department has been established at the 60th Street and Lexington Avenue Office. So enthusiastic is the staff of this location that already six employees have mastered braille reading and printing, studying after banking hours at The Lighthouse.
In announcing the braille checkwriter, William S. Renchard, president of the bank, said: "Chemical New York is pleased to offer the first opportunity for blind people to conduct their personal financial affairs in the same degree of privacy as is available to sighted people. As a public service, we shall be glad to furnish the device at cost, exclusive of our development expense, to other banking institutions anywhere in the world."
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By Hamilton Newkirk
(Editor's note: The following article is a condensation of a report recently published in ADVANCE, the official quarterly publication of the Associated Blind of New Jersey. The author is a Special Correspondent for the journal.)
Sales of vending machines across the country were recently reported at $3.5 billion annually.
According to the National Automatic Merchandising Association there is now one vending machine for every 43 Americans. While approximately 2,200 blind vendors sell cigarets across the counter, 863,000 vending machines dispense 4.2 billion packs a year.
Blind Form Co-op
Recently in Los Angeles, about 75 blind vendors formed a co-operative buyers group to increase their collective purchasing power. Across the nation, in the past five years, there have been 400 vending machine company mergers.
The threat to blind vendors posed by machines has been recognized by vigilant organizations for at least a decade.
The National Federation of the Blind has been seeking Congressional amendments to the Randolph-Sheperd Vending Stand Act. Associated Blind of New Jersey only last month established a 12-member committee to study the situation,
A couple of years ago, several persons who are now members of Associated Blind were in the forefront of a successful campaign to have New Jersey's vending stand law amended.
Associated Blind also sought and obtained an opinion from the State Attorney General's office pertaining to the disposition of profits from machines in State buildings.
The opinion indicated profits are to be assigned to the State Treasury, but some blind vendors believe that the recently amended law, in granting priority and preference to the blind to operate vending stands, "with or without mechanical machines," in State, county and municipal buildings, provides that the profits be assigned to sight-handicapped vendors.
The question is still being debated. Meanwhile, machines are being moved into buildings where there are blind-operated stands and their whrrr and click-click is everything but music to the vendors' ears.
When the State's new Motor Vehicle Building opened, a few years ago, machines -- serviced by a caterer -- were placed throughout the building. Items not provided by machines were brought to office doors in caterer's carts. No blind-operated stand was established. Many of the employees of the Motor Vehicle Department had been serviced by a blind vendor in their former offices.
There is a stand in the State's new Education Building -- operated by Miss Nancy Ann Farreny, a Gold Cane Member of Associated Blind -- but directly across the corridor is a $2,000 coffee dispenser, a mere grain of sugar in the national automatic coffee cup, which, you will remember, runs over to the tune of 2.8 billion cups a year.
Another Trenton area vender sold fresh coffee at his former location but does not handle the beverage in the new building to which he was shifted. Added to that setback is the fact that the new location has a variety of vending machines throughout its 14 floors. Moreover, there is a cafeteria in the building. There was none at the former location.
Mechanical vendors are pushing blind vendors from all directions. But, because the pressure points are usually isolated -- a move here, a relocation there, a machine here and there -- the retreat of the blind vendor is virtually unnoticed, except by the vendor.
A department move from the State House, for example, would "pinch" the vendor there. In a new location, the same department would pinch a second vendor competing with machines and a cafeteria. The pressure is light but it is there like a trickle of water flowing underground, slowly broadening into a river.
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(Editor's note: William Taylor, Jr., is a blind lawyer of Media, Pennsylvania, a long-time staunch advocate of white cane laws, and chairman of the NFB's White Cane Committee. Last December he wrote to Howard M. Liechty, managing editor of the braille MATILDA ZIEGLER MAGAZINE, requesting that the magazine give some recognition to the recent Presidential Proclamation establishing a National White Cane Safety Day (October 15) as an annual observance. The exchange of letters which followed is presented here as an informative encounter over the value and usefulness of the white cane for blind pedestrians. Mr. Liechty, who is sighted, is also managing editor of THE NEW OUTLOOK FOR THE BLIND, published by the American Foundation for the Blind.)
Dear Mr. Taylor:
Unless I misinterpret your letter of December 4, you base your entire case for the white cane on the safety that you see resulting from its use.
You know, of course, that I am not advocating placing blind people in physical danger, and the argument is ridiculous.
If safety is the only reason for the white cane, why stop with that? Why not a greater degree of assurance of safety? To use your words, "would you react in a kindly way towards efforts to minimize any endeavor intended to lessen the hazard . . ." (underscoring mine).
I believe scientific reasoning would indicate that a reflective red armband of large area, for example, worn on each arm would attract visual attention much better than a thin white cane in the hand, day or night, in crowded city and open highway.
Furthermore, I am not very thoroughly persuaded that drivers need to be put on notice beyond the customary caution that they are expected to use. A human being is a human being, a pedestrian a pedestrian, whether blind or sighted, and the responsible driver is most respectful of pedestrians. The irresponsible driver is a menace to everyone, regardless of all our traffic lights, traffic laws, speed limits, road signs, white canes or red armbands.
Bill, if I may take the liberty of such intimacy -- for we have known each other for a long time, have corresponded often, and speaking for myself and hopefully for you, amicably -- you try to bait me throughout your letter as to what I did or did not do in the past, as to what evidence I can adduce this way or that, as to the sharp distinctions between these workers and those. The difficulty seems to me to be that you admit of no reasonable view except your own extreme position, and I think extremism seldom prevails.
I am not unalterably opposed, lock, stock and barrel, to the white cane. I simply think its value is overrated and that, moreover, it is a badge that contributes to the idea of second-class citizenship. If I were blind I admit I can conceive of circumstances in which I might find myself using a white cane as a badge, on occasion perhaps but not ordinarily, but I wouldn't feel I was representing accurately my fellow men who are blind, or serving them well. A cane as a travel aid, not as a badge, is a different matter. To push and promote the white cane as a badge seems to me to be a gratuituous advocacy of perpetuating a bad public image.
Howard M. Liechty
Dear Mr. Liechty:
In your letter to me of December 10, 1964, you employ the much over-used, mis-used and abused word: "extremism" as an epithet to describe my position respecting the white cane and White Cane laws. I must confess that I can perceive little room for poetic license with respect to rules of the road which have as their primary purpose putting drivers on notice that the pedestrian is blind and cannot be expected to jump for his life. The ghastly statistics on highway accidents causing injury and death to pedestrians might incline one not to concur in your singular observation "A human being is a human being, a pedestrian a pedestrian, whether blind or sighted, and the responsible driver is most respectful of pedestrians."
The white cane has been legally recognized as the signalling device to put drivers on notice by the Legislatures of all fifty of our States; by the Provincial Parliaments of a majority of the Canadian Provinces and by administrative ruling in the United Kingdom. I am endeavoring to ascertain the extent of legal recognition given in France, some years ago, I understand that legal recognition had been very widely given by action of municipal officials.
From casual references, it is obvious that the white cane is extensively employed by the blind in most European nations, -- even behind the Iron Curtain. Last autumn, as you know, the Congress of the United States adopted a Joint Resolution requesting the President annually to issue a White Cane Safety Day Proclamation; and President Johnson so proclaimed October 15th.
Enclosed is a copy of the opinions of the House of Lords in the case of Haley vs. the Electricity Board.
Although the color of the "stick" carried by the plaintiff had no causal connection with the accident. Law Lords almost invariably referred to the cane as a "white stick". Your attention is directed to pages 480, 481, 483, 486, 487, 489, 490, 497, 498.
In view of this overwhelming mass of evidence, it scarcely seems a reasonable inference that the idea of the white cane is peculiar to me. Might it not be more fitting to describe those who are putting up the forlorn resistance to the white cane and the White Cane Laws as twentieth century followers of King Canute.
The Ziegler Magazine apparently failed to take notice of the Presidential proclamation; and for this odd fact there seems to be two possible explanations: (1) a proclamation issued by the President of the United States relating to the blind, and which was based upon a Joint Congressional Resolution is not newsworthy; or (2) the item was supressed because of disapproval by the editorial staff. This was regrettable because the Ziegler reaches many times as many blind readers as does the New Outlook.
The forlorn fight to resist the White Cane and the White Cane Laws is cruelly prejudicial to the safety of the blind, for it dangerously reduces the intensive effort which ought to be made to impress upon the blind pedestrian the dire necessity of exercising maximum vigilance and extreme care in efforts to put drivers on notice. Admittedly, the white cane has its limitations and will no more afford perfect protection than will the steel helmet worn by soldiers, but in both cases, the device seems about the most feasible instrumentality.
Your overlooking the valuable advantage afforded by a White Cane Law to an injured blind pedestrian in asserting his right to recover damages from the negligent motorist who ran him down might well be a "Freudian Slip."
I know from sad experience how difficult it is for an injured blind pedestrian to prove his case without a White Cane Law, and to speak bluntly, I am not inclined to defer to the guesswork of amateurs respecting a matter within my professional training.
It is my earnest hope that this hopeless resistance will cease, for so long as it persists it exposes the blind to needless hazards.
Surely, you cannot expect me to pretend to philosophic calm in a contest of grim importance to the blind.
William Taylor, Jr.
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By Robert H. Owens
(Editor's note: Mr. Owens is executive secretary-treasurer of the Associated Blind of New Jersey and editor of its new quarterly publication, ADVANCE, from which the following article is reprinted.)
Dr. Jacobus tenBroek has been accused, among other things, of establishing "autocratic and irresponsible power". . . "a totalitarian dictatorship." The accusations come, of course, from the doctor's enemies,
But the goateed University of California professor of political science has enough friends and followers to out-number those enemies -- namely, the thousands of blind people he organized into the National Federation of the Blind and, last year, those who joined him in founding the new International Federation of the Blind.
Also to be counted on the "friend" side of the register are two California governors. Earl Warren and Edmond G. Brown; educators, social workers, social scientists and Congressional representatives.
As a Chief Justice of the United States, Earl Warren cited tenBroek's "immeasurable contribution" to the field of welfare.
Ironically, as recently as late 1964, an Arizona woman accused tenBroek of not caring about the poor. But Dr. tenBroek seems to have always cared about the deprivation of the blind, Constitutional and financial.
Son of a prairie homesteader, "Chick" was blinded in one eye at the age of seven. By the time he was 14, he was totally blind and ready to continue his education at the California School for the Blind. At 44, he became a full professor.
He was instrumental in organizing the California Council of the Blind and establishing a philosophy of normality, equality and productivity that eventually served as a cornerstone for the National Federation of the Blind, founded in 1940.
Only determined hands dared grasp the reins of the NFB chariot; only those prepared to fend the arrows and spears of foes dared climb aboard. tenBroek held the reins for some 20 years -- until factionists within the organization toppled the chariot, spilling its occupants. The factionists dismantled much of the NFB vehicle, turned the spears they had carried as brothers-in-arms against their leaders.
But the NFB fought back with what was left of a shaken decimated organization. The vehicle was repaired and righted, and again set forth to do the work to which its members had dedicated themselves. Some of the "soldiers" who rode off returned to the ranks and momentum was steadily regained.
In Phoenix, Ariz, , last year, the federation unveiled a blueprint for an "International Federation of the Blind:. Formally organized later in New York, Dr. tenBroek was assigned the helm. The blind of other nations had elected to follow the man whom America's blind had followed for so many years.
Certainly, his navigational aids will be Normality, Equality and Productivity -- always principal stars on the professor's horizon. What he did for America's blind he can be expected to do for the blind of the world, through the International Federation of the Blind.
The IFB will bring new concepts in education, civil rights, opportunity, welfare, employment and self-reliance to foreign shores.
In the United States, the doctor fought cradle-to-the-grave agency paternalism, inadequate welfare grants, low wages in sheltered workshops, denial of equal employment opportunity, restrictive welfare laws and certain civil liberties.
Some have changed course since the early years, but tenBroek did not, as is apparent in the following excerpts from a resolution written by him for the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind last year. (Will the lady from Arizona please take note?)
"... Programs of financial assistance should be addressed to the overall objectives of dignity, of economic independence and social inter-dependence as well as of meeting the elementary needs of subsistance and health. . .
"Under the plan of financial assistance, blind persons should be helped out of distress and not merely in it. . . The plan of financial assistance should be adapted to rehabilitation and employment, to self-care and self-support. This should be done through the provision of incentives.
"A self-reliant spirit and independent activity should be encouraged by preserving to the individual freedom in the management of his own affairs including living arrangements, choice of consumption items, occupational objectives and leisure-time activities.
"The conditions of eligibility and the terms of administration of financial aid should be clearly specified in the basic legislation so that administrators, social workers and recipients may know their rights, duties and relationships."
"Blindness is a distinct disability. . . persons should be employed to carry out the plan who are knowledgeable about the special problems of the blind."
The new IFB has been launched under a common banner. Nationality does not alter the distinctive characteristic of being without sight. Predictably, there will be turbulent waters, waves of criticism, perhaps; the decks of the IFB may even become awash with discontent, but it will remain on course.
Under its flag, the sight-handicapped of the world will trade views, importing and exporting ideas.
A self-reliant spirit, its Captain, will not allow the organization to founder.
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February 2, 1965
Dear Dr. tenBroek:
Over the horizon I can already see the deadline thundering toward us, with just two weeks to go before primary classes begin, and though I still feel confident that we shall have our blind first-graders well prepared to start their school work with the rest of the sighted children in our pilot class, we no doubt shall come in on a wing and a prayer. Saturday, our day off here in Nepal, three of my teachers and I took a bus to the ancient, once-capital of Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur; and though we were like the typical tourist, taking countless color photos of the marvelous Buddhist and Hindu temples constructed by the Newari people who inhabit this area, we did not escape far from our work. We sat for most of the afternoon in the shade at the foot of a hill crowned with a lovely temple, and discussed how we could further expedite our textbook program.
My seminar ends in ten days. We are now processing the blind children, for now there are only finances for eight for the pilot class. The College could not at this time find a man to hire permanently to learn Davangri braille and to prepare all textbooks in braille, so I began a short time ago a crash program to teach two of my own teachers how to prepare the texts. Fortunately, all of my teachers have learned Davnagri braille extremely fast, have progressed to English contractions already, and are eager to work on texts.
Here in a nutshell lies my problem. Dr. tenBroek, can you beg, borrow or steal a Perkins braille writer for me? The only machine we have than can be used for texts is my own Perkins braille writer, and we have put it to work on the texts, alternating the work between my two teachers, but this machine, unfortunately, is not functioning too well. We hold our collective breaths. With two machines, however, we could really do the job quickly.
(Editor's note: The Perkins brailler is now on order paid for out of the funds collected for just such purposes at the N.F.B. Philadelphia Convention.)
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(From Pakistan Times, Saturday, November 14, 1964)
In almost any profession a blind person can be as succesful, or unsuccessful, as any average person with normal sight and among the blind, as in any other group of people, there are persons who are at both extremes of the scale of intelligence." It was a scientifically established fact and not a wild claim that was put forward by Dr. Fatima Shah in an interview the other day. The context in which she recounted this fact was her complaint about the lack of any worth-mentioning facilities in Pakistan for the blind to become useful citizens and stop being liability on their families. In fact the statistics--a total of half a million all over the country--given by her, make the blind population a big national rather than a mere family problem. In the words of Dr. Shah, it is nothing less than a great national tragedy to ignore half a million human individuals and do nothing to make them productive.
The problem of the blind so far, has been regarded more as a human problem rather than an economic one and perhaps it is for the first time that through Dr. Shah the public is becoming acquainted with the real nature and magnitude of this question. This way, even if the observation is in bad taste, one is constrained to observe that Dr. Shah's personal tragedy in losing sight has turned out to be a national blessing because through her misfortune the dark world of the blind has acquired a capable spokesman for putting forth its case not only in the correct perspective but also as a serious national issue.
Dr. Shah is one of the 12 brothers and sisters born in the house of Professor Abdul Majid who besides teaching other illustious sons of this country had had the proud privilege of teaching President Ayub at Aligarh University. The enlightened atmosphere in the home proved conducive to the development of a bright mind. Young Fatima chose medical profession and became a gynacologist and obsterician. She was married and had two daughters and discovered social welfare as an avenue for channelisation of her restless energy. For several years she held the post of Health and Welfare secretary in the Central Executive of the All-Pakistan Women's Association. In short, she was a happy woman living a happy and contented life.
Ill-luck in the form of waning sight started breathing down her neck in 1954 and finally overtook her in 1957 when her sight was completely lost. For these three years specialists in London and Zurich were consulted and during the 'long period of tribulations' as she calls it, none could diagnose the affliction. Finally the specialists agreed that the blindness had been caused by an allergy--"a convenient term given to maladies which we doctors cannot identify," says Dr. Shah. The resultant shock broke down the lively lady and almost completely disintegrated her personality. She resigned from the A-PWA, sold her clinic and curled into the cocoon called home. The state of shock lasted two years and then started the most glorious and fruitful part of the blind lady doctor's career.
She says that she was inspired by the blind American lady, Professor Isabella Grant, who stayed in Pakistan for three years and left after submitting a comprehensive report to the Government about the emancipation of the blind in this country. It was Professor Grant who in Dr. Shah's own words "salvaged my personality and saved it from total disintegration. "It was this contact with Professor Grant which encouraged her to found the Pakistan Association for the Blind and plunge into the gigantic problem with a zeal whetted by the realization that she could still be a useful member of the society and could give back at least as much as she got out of it. After some time she was no longer a mental wreck but full of eagerness for making her own and that of half a million others' life worthwhile and meaningful. The four years old zeal is still gaining momentum and according to her expectations might influence others also.
"What was it like when you became totally blind?" The reply that followed a long pause was "it was like being set adrift in a completely dark sea of a completely dark world with no beacon of hope."
However, what had really shocked Dr. Shah was not a sense of personal loss. The real shock came when she realized that others had given her up and regarded her blindness as termination of her active life. The impression one gets on hearing from Dr. Shah of other reactions to her loss of sight, is shocking. According to her the blind are placed in a category just one better than that of the dead. It is no wonder that she passed through a shocking experience. What is really astonishing is her emergence into the land of living beings from amongst the ranks of the semi dead in a brief period of two years.
After her tour of some of the foreign countries, including a recent tour of the United States, Dr. Shah has reached the conclusion that in Pakistan more than half of the blind population lost its sight due to causes which are avoidable. In the developed countries now, none loses his sight due to smallpox, diabetes or such other controllable diseases. In those countries the blind are there because of wars and such other unavoidable catastrophes. However, these persons after their reorientation courses are provided all facilities to choose any calling and like any other normal person they become administrators, lawyers, vendors, telephone operators etc.
In Pakistan, on the other hand, of the alarmingly big blind population of 65,000 children, hardly about 200 go to schools. The remaining plus the adult blind population have no educational facilities. In the entire country there is only one press which publishes books on braille system and these are mere text-books covering courses of study up to fifth or sixth class. Dr. Shah asserts that more than the normal persons it is the blind who need education because their only contact with the world is through books and it is through books that they can see the world. It is this factor which has induced the blind welfare organizations in foreign countries to set up transcription services. In those advanced countries there is hardly any book that the blind wish to read and cannot get. An average volunteer trained in the method of transcription can transcribe a fairly voluminous book into braille in about a week's time.
Dr. Shah wants to start a transcription service and promote setting up of such volunteer service all over the country. She plans to go into family planning service also. "Is not the blind welfare field big enough to occupy all your time?" "It is. In fact it needs more time than I can hope to devote but I am not intending to go into that field for my sake. It is just to demonstrate to others that blind people can prove useful in non-blind field also." One can see the logic of this argument for, after all, it still needs to be proved in Pakistan that blind can really be useful citizens.
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Events surrounding the inauguration last summer of the International Federation of the Blind have been permanently memorialized in a significant new publication issued by the (U.S. ) National Federation of the Blind,
An Introduction to the document sets forth a narrative of the episodes and actions which culminated in the official formation of the IFB in New York City on July 30, 1964. The publication also incorporates the organization's Constitution and Preamble, addresses by IFB President Jacobus tenBroek and NFB President Russell Kletzing, and condensations of thirteen papers delivered to the NFB's 1964 Phoenix convention by a distinguished roster of overseas guests representing the blind of a variety of Asian, Near Eastern and European countries.
The full text of the Introduction follows.
The vision of world federation--of the blind people of all nations, free and united, joined in brotherhood and common cause--has long been with us. But until a few short years ago that vision, where it was expressed at all, could be dismissed as the product of hallucination rather than of 20-20 foresight.
It was on July 7, 1962, in the American city of Detroit, that the vision of world federation was transformed from an idle dream into a practical objective. On that day the U.S. National Federation of the Blind, in convention assembled, passed a unanimous resolution calling for the creation of a worldwide association of the blind, by the blind and for the blind. That resolution read in part:
"Whereas the blind people of the world at present have no effective world agency or instrumentality through which they may represent themselves or take effective collective action for the improvement of their lot, the discussion of their experiences and the formulation of solutions to their problems,
"Now therefore be it resolved . . . that we herewith declare the urgent desirability and imperative necessity of a world organization of the blind people themselves for purposes of self-expression and self-improvement. We declare it as our policy henceforth to encourage and stimulate the development of such an organization. We instruct our President, the delegate to the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, and our Executive Committee, to take all such actions in such manner and at such times as seem to them most meet and feasible, and supported by such resources as are available, to bring about the establishment of such an organization."
What inspired that resolution and determination on the part of these blind Americans? The reasons are essentially two:
First, the successful record of self-organization among the blind at the national level, not only in the U.S. but in many countries -- through which blind people have proven to the world and to themselves their capacity for collective self-direction and self-expression.
Second, the urgent need for such a democratic global organization, as a forum for mutual information and a fulcrum for mutual action--a need which, of course, cannot be met by parallel welfare bodies of an agency character such as the World Council, whose valuable functions and services are of a wholly different kind.
In the months following the 1962 convention of the NFB, the master plan for international federation began to take shape. Innumerable contacts were made through correspondence--by the NFB's president, Russell Kletzing, and by its delegate to the WCWB, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek -- with representative blind leaders in various parts of the world. Dr. Isabelle Grant resumed her global travels, and in particular her pioneering educational work in Pakistan, with a new will and purpose. In August of 1962, Dr. tenBroek journeyed to Hanover, Germany, in a further effort to meet and talk with other World Council delegates and with groups of blind persons in western Europe. The response was overwhelmingly favorable. As the word spread and the idea was made known, the program of world federationism among the blind became a movement -- and the movement became an irresistible force.
That movement reached its climax at another convention of the National Federation--on July 2, 1964, at Phoenix, Arizona. On that day fifteen international visitors from eight countries convened with the organized blind of America -- two of them assisted by State Department funds procured by the NFB. The visitors came to Phoenix from many backgrounds and traditions, with varying ideas -- but with one unvarying ideal. All of them recognized the need for an independent organization of the blind themselves on a world scale; all were agreed on the shared aspirations of blind people everywhere for opportunity and integration, as well on the mutual benefits of universal voluntary association.
For an entire full and eventful day, the international visitors presented one by one the histories and prospects of the blind in their respective nations. Several others who were unable to make the long trip across the ocean sent informative papers which were read to the convention by U.S. federationists. Among the countries represented by one or more delegates (there were four from India and three from several other lands) were: Australia, Ceylon, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Korea.
The convention activities during that historic day were climaxed by a banquet which carried forward the international theme with two notable speeches: the banquet address by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, "The Parliament of Man, the Federation of the "World," and an address of presentation by Russell Kletzing conferring the Newell Perry Award upon Dr. Isabelle Grant.
Following the banquet, late into the night of July 2, the NFB's leaders and its distinguished foreign guests met to lay the cornerstone of the coming world organization. They resolved unanimously and fervently to proceed with the establishment of an international body, and named a provisional committee to carry out the decision. The committee also developed a draft of the proposed constitution for the world organization.
In the days that followed, further meetings were held in New York City both with the original group of conferees and with others from a variety of European, Asian and Near Eastern countries -- meetings made possible by the occurrence of the General Assembly of the World Council, convening at the same time in New York. All these preliminary sessions found their culmination on July 30, when the International Federation of the Blind was officially inaugurated at a charter meeting of delegates and prospective members. Dr. tenBroek, the founder of the National Federation and its president for 21 years, was elected to be the first president of the International Federation. Rienzi Alagiyawanna of Ceylon was named first vice president, and Dr. Fatima Shah of Pakistan was chosen as second vice president. It is planned to complete the list of officers and members of the executive committee as the new organization grows in scope and representation.
Since the adjournment of the IFB's charter meeting, the call of world federationism has gone out to blind people on all the continents. Several of the delegates chose to return from New York to their home countries by routes which took them through other nations where the message of unity and independence is gaining the attention of ever-increasing numbers of blind people. President tenBroek embarked from New York upon a comprehensive European trip which brought him into direct contact with blind groups and individuals in England, Holland, Belgium, France, Portugal and Spain. Rienzi Alagiyawanna visited Germany on his way to Ceylon; and the IFB's other vice president. Dr. Shah, stopped off in both England and Germany en route to India. Two other delegates from India, Dr. Vyas and Mr. Ahuja, toured England and various European countries before returning home.
As of February, 1965, the Internationl Federation was formally affiliated with organizations of blind people in eight countries, and looked forward to a steady growth of membership in many more. The eight official affiliates are: Ceylon, France, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, the United States, and West Germany. Besides these member groups there are numerous organizations of the blind and innumerable individual blind persons throughout the world who have responded to the call of federationism and are informally comitted to its cause.
That cause is defined and elaborated in the Constitution of the International Federation of the Blind, and in its Preamble and Statement of Purposes.
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By James B. Fall
President, Arizona Federation of the Blind
To go for the dog or for the cane, tliat's the question, "Do you have a dog?" -- "Would you not like to have a lead dog?" -- "Would not a Guide Dog facilitate your travel?" -- These are but a sample of the queries thrown at me by sighted people as I go about on the streets of Phoenix and across the country. Of course the large majority of people are so engrossed with their own problems that they are not enough concerned about the difficulties of others to ask them questions or offer solutions.
We have all seen feature stories about dogs depicting them in roles where they saved their masters from serious injury or even death. Indeed new media have so exalted the heroism of dogs, and the guide dog schools have portrayed the dog as such an asset to the blind individual; that many of the sighted public are convinced that if a blind person can obtain a guide dog his problems are solved. There is no denying the fact that at times some dogs almost think and act like humans; in certain rare instances they appear to be more human than do the humans themselves. It is true the guide dog is a godsend to certain blind people who live alone, and are fearful of being alone. If one could talk to his dog and say, "Now fellow, I want you to take me to the Valley National Bank at First and Monroe," or "To Penney's store at Second and Washington," or to any other address, and the dog would understand, then all blind adults should by all means have a guide dog and probably would. This unfortunately, is not the case.
Petty problems frequently arise (and sometimes they are not so petty) to harass and plague the guide dog master or mistress, such as: housebreaking and adjusting the dog to his new environment; getting up in the night when it is cold and stormy to take out the dog (those who have raised colicky babies perhaps could best understand this problem), and nursing the dog through periods of sickness. Then there are times when the dog owner himself may have an extended illness, or when the master goes on a long journey in our own or foreign countries and it is impossible or undesirable to take the dog -- all these and doubtless other dilemmas, native to dog owners, are not common to the person with a white cane. While a dog is admittedly a good leader and protector in and about the home, he is also a lot of trouble and expense. He has to be groomed, bathed, fed, given shots for various things, treated for ticks, fleas, et cetera, and given a balanced diet to insure good health. Many times it proves to be more expensive to keep a dog than another member of the family.
It would seem that, while the guide dog is not by any stretch of the imagination the full answer to a blind man's travel worries, neither is the white can altogether lacking in drawbacks. It is undeniable that the white cane is no more infallible than are the alertness of the mind and the dexterity of the hand to control it. The cane can neither see, hear nor smell to warn of approaching danger. On the other hand, while a dog may become old and senile, lazy and slow, or dim-eyed and hard of hearing, yet the most that can happen to a cane is for it to get lost, misplaced or stolen.
It would seem to the writer that, when the guide dog idea was still relatively new, more people resorted to their use and more dogs were in evidence at the state and national conventions than they are now. The conclusion of the matter might well be summed up in the following jingle:
Whether a dog or a cane, we swear by an oath. While some need the one, none needs them both. So consider them well and act very wise In choosing the best substitute for your eyes.
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By John F. Nagle
Chief, Washington Office, National Federation of the Blind
Definite and substantial gains for recipients of blind aid, in terms both of increased grants and medical services, are embodied in the King-Anderson "medicare" bill now before Congress. The legislation, introduced as H.R. 1 and S. 1, has the highest priority in the Administration's program and is expected to receive the approval of both houses during the current session.
The blind, along with aged and disabled beneficiaries of public assistance, will be aided by an increase in the federal contribution probably averaging $2.50 monthly, and carrying the important proviso that the additional federal money must be passed on to aid recipients. The enactment of this pass-on provision, for which the NFB has campaigned for many years, will remedy a long-standing injustice by which state welfare administrators have refused to pass on added federal money to needy recipients despite the repeatedly expressed will of Congress.
Actually, under the revised federal formula, the projected increase per recipient will range from $3.50 per month to $4.05 if the states pay aid up to the new maximum of $75. The range is due to the variable grant formula whereby the wealthiest states receive 50 percent of the amount between $37 and $75 while the states with the lowest per capita income will receive 66 percent. It is likely, however, that the gain for the nation as a whole may average no better than $2.50 because many states are not at the present federal matching maximum of $70 and will be slow to move to the new proposed maximum of $75.
The King-Anderson bill provides various hospital insurance benefits to all persons over 65, whether covered by social security insurance or not. Held up in the past by the House Ways and Means Committee, the medical-care plan now enjoys favorable prospects owing to the Democratic landslide of last November and the addition of three new pro-medicare members to the Ways and Means Committee.
Also in the congressional hopper is an Administration- sponsored social security measure, H.R. 3699, introduced by Ways and Means Chairman Wilbur Mills, proposing a new title (title XVIII) under which federal funds for medical and hospital bills would be made available to public assistance recipients and to the "medically indigent" -- those not receiving welfare aid but unable to meet the costs of medical services.
What is most significant about the Mills bill is that it effectually separates federal money into two parts, one for aid and one for medical care, and thus prevents the states from lowering their aid payments in order to match the federal contributions for medical care. This much-needed requirement would thus put a merciful end to the habit of using ever-larger portions of federal matching funds in public assistance to pay for medical care rather than to increase the monthly aid payments.
As an example, in California the state uses $3 out of the $46.50 federal reimbursement to pay for medical care and other states, for that matter, use even more. Under H.R. 3699, California will not be able to increase the amount for medical care by drawing from the aid grant.
On another front, the National Federation was among numerous organizations which supported testimony by the Council for Exceptional Children on January 25 before the House subcommittee on general education.
The CEC spokesman urged the adoption of H.R. 236l, the Administration's elementary and secondary schools improvement bill, with amendments intended to strengthen state programs of special education for all disabled children.
Congressman J. Arthur Younger of California has again introduced a bill, H.R. 929, to allow a blind person and sighted guide to travel on planes for a single fare. A similar Younger proposal passed the House last year but failed in the Senate, largely because of the opposition of the National Federation of the Blind.
Congressman James W. Trimble of Arkansas has reintroduced a bill, H.R. 695, prohibiting the exclusion of guide dogs for the blind from public carriers, transport terminals and other places of business which operate in interstate commerce. A similar bill, supported by the NFB, was considered in hearings of the last Congress but died in committee.
Nebraska's Congressman Glen Cunningham has introduced a measure, H.R. 60, to include quadriplegics and the near-blind in the federal books for the blind program. The previous Congress had considered but rejected a similar measure. The Federation's view of this proposal is that it is misguided. We would be happy to support a similar reading program especially adapted to the needs and handicaps of these groups. The inclusion of non-blind persons in the program of braille and recorded books would tend to vitiate its primary purpose and destroy its usefulness for the many thousands of blind persons.
Various bills sponsored or supported by the National Federation are now being prepared for introduction in the 89th Congress. Among them will be proposals to improve the federal aid to the blind law; to prohibit residence requirements in aid to the blind programs; to liberalize disability insurance for blind persons; to eliminate the means test in vocational rehabilitation programs; to establish a statutory minimum wage for handicapped workers in sheltered workshops; to provide federal funds for distribution of braille and talking books; to revise the postal rate laws; and to expand and improve special education for all disabled children.
As these and other measures are introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives, Federationists will be kept informed of their official designations and their congressional sponsors, so that we may all participate actively in the campaign for their enactment into law.
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A marked trend toward increasing employment of blind persons in open occupations, with a corresponding decline in the numbers of those in sheltered work, is revealed by data recently compiled from Britain's national register of the blind. The information, covering the blind population of England and Wales through 1963, is generally regarded as a more accurate census of blind persons and their occupational characteristics than is available in the U.S., which has no equivalent official registration.
Reporting a total number of 96,472 registered blind persons, the English tabulations showed nearly 10,000 (to be exact, 9,979) employed in all categories--of whom approximately two-thirds (6,146) were listed in open employment, nearly one-third (2,846) in sheltered workshops, and the remainder (987) in "home workers schemes." Although the total of employed persons was slightly less than in the preceding year, the decrease was entirely in the categories of workshop and home enterprises, while placements in open employment were on the rise.
The same trend was reflected in figures given for those undergoing training for employment: "The total number of registered blind persons undergoing training was 330, a decrease of 42 in comparison with last year's figure of 372. The numbers training for sheltered employment decreased by 56, while those training for open employment increased by 13 and for the professions by 1."
The most significant gains, by occupation, were in the categories of "craftsmen and production process workers, " which showed an increase during the year from 360 to 405, and that of "typists and secretaries," which advanced from 521 to 543 persons employed. Another occupational category, that of "boxers, fillers and packers," also increased by 25 persons to a total of 262 employed.
The largest single occupational category still was that of basket makers, with 949 persons at work, although the total dropped by nearly 50 from the previous year. The next largest group was that of machine tool operators, with 764 persons employed. The biggest decrease in numbers was posted by the trade of "knitters (hand and machine), including weavers," which fell off by 48 jobs from 629 to 581 in 1963.
Of the overall total registation of 96,472 blind persons in England and Wales, some 64,580 were listed in the 65-and-over age bracket. More than eight thousand others in the normally productive age groups were described as "not capable of work," mainly for reasons of multiple disability.
In a companion tabulation, the national register of partially-sighted persons reported a total of 27,020 individuals falling within this defined group -- embracing those "substantially and permanently handicapped" either by congenital defect or by injury or accident. Approximately 6,000 partially sighted persons were said to be employed at the present time.
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"This letter is to request that our names be added to your subscription list," write Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Adams of Desloge, Missouri. "We recently saw an edition of your fine magazine at a friend's home and were interested in receiving it also, due to the many fine articles, which were very thought-provoking as well as being quite helpful. We live in a rural area of Missouri, and my husband is an elementary school teacher in a regular public school; I am a housewife. Before being married three months ago, I was employed in Chicago, as a medical secretary. We are both totally blind, but are very active in our community."
A bill has been introduced into the Indiana state legislature, by Senator Rodney E. Piper, to reduce the state residence requirement for aid to the blind to one year before application. The present law requires three years' residence during the nine years immediately before filing, Dr. Robert Nast, of Celles, France, whose optic nerve was shattered in World War II, is reported to have delivered his 4,000th baby since losing his sight.
Mrs. Dorina de Gouvea Nowill of Sao Paulo, Brazil, received the $1,000 Lane Bryant International Volunteer Award for her work with blind Brazilians, at a recent New York City luncheon attended by over 350 government officials, educators and community leaders. . . . Edward Matthews, executive director of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind since 1960, died suddenly last November in his Concord home James Everett Ryder has been appointed executive director of the Association for the Blind of Rochester and Monroe County, moving up from his former post as the Association's supervisor of services.
At the 34th International Congress of Blind Esperantists, held at the Hague (Holland) August 1 to 8, 1964, some 160 blind persons and their guides participated from 15 countries as far apart as Algeria and Finland, Yugoslavia and Great Britain. The blind congress was held in conjunction with a general congress of Esperantists. . . . Kenneth Jernigan, first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind and director of Iowa's Commission for the Blind, was quoted at length in the Appendix to the Congressional Record for February 8, 1965, in praise of Robert Bray, chief of the Division for the Blind, Library of Congress.
Arthur T. Sevigny, second vice president of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts, retired recently from his poultry business for reasons of health -- but he still raises rabbits as a hobby, and not long ago became vice president of the Essex County Rabbit Breeders Association. .... Mrs. Thelma Keitlen, who had filed a criminal complaint against a New York City delicatessen owner, was vindicated last month when the owner admitted she and her guide dog had been barred from the restaurant by a "misunderstanding" and invited both of them to lunch.
Blind persons operating government-supported vending stands in Washington, D.C. , earned an average of $8,352 during the year ending last July -- the highest average income for vending stand operators in the country, according to a report from the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration The Advisory Committee on Social Security, appointed in 1963, issued a report January 1 recommending enactment of a hospital insurance program on lines of the Administration's King-Anderson bill. The full Council report is available from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, at 45 cents a copy. . . . From the same source interested persons may purchase, for 25 cents, a new publication by Elizabeth Wickenden, "Social Welfare in a Changing World," an analysis of social welfare in relation to social and economic development.
Beacon in the Night is the title of a biography of J. Robert Atkinson, the late founder of the Braille Institute of America, authored by Edwin J. Westrate and published by Vantage Press of New York. . . .Closely similar in title is a new biography of Samuel Gridley Howe, A Light in the Dark, written for young readers aged 12 to 15 by Milton Meltzer (Thomas Y. Crowell Publishers, New York City).
Dwight M. Toedter has been named executive director of the Sacramento, California Society for the Blind, following six years as director of the Rehabilitation Center, Inc., in Lincoln, Nebraska. . . . It cost each person in this country about 70 cents to finance services preparing 120,000 handicapped Americans for jobs during the last year, according to an announcement by the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration. It was pointed out that these disabled persons will pay back the investment many times over in income taxes alone.
Plan Your Children, a publication of the Planned Parenthood organization, is now available in braille. Single copies are available without charge from Planned Parenthood-World Population, Western Region Office, 655 Sutter, Room 401, San Francisco, California, 94102.
Science for the Blind announces that it is again producing an inexpensive tape player, the same as previously offered except for a new hardwood case and new speaker. Two models, which play but do not record, are available at $64 and $75; another two models, which both play and record, sell at $75 and $80. For details, write: Science for the Blind, Haverford, Pennsylvania.
An unfortunate move to merge Michigan's programs of aid to the blind, aid to the disabled and old-age assistance in one catch-all package is being made a citizens committee of the United Community Service of Metropolitan Detroit. Once again, administrative economy and convenience take precedence over human needs. . . . On the other hand, Iowa's Governor Hughes has recommended doubling of his state's ADC appropriation. "Anti-welfare people point out to us," he told the legislature, "that there are sometimes second and third generation welfare recipients. I would point out to them that inadequate programs that demean, rather than efficiently build on the self-reliance of the recipients, are the breeding-grounds of family patterns requiring public assistance from generation to generation."
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