30, No. 7 August
Kenneth Jernigan, Editor
in inkprint, Braille, on talking-book disc,
and cassette by
National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
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should be sent to the National Office.
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THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
THE BLIND IS NOT
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 30, No. 7 August 1987
MORE TROUBLE WITH THE AIRLINES
by Dorothy Grubb
LETTER ABOUT THE AIRLINES FROM CONGRESSMAN TED WEISS
HOW DO YOU REPRESENT THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
CATHERINE HORN RANDALL ELECTED ALDERMAN
ATTEMPT TO COMBINE KANSAS SCHOOLS FOR BLIND AND DEAF FAILS
by Kenneth Jernigan
WHAT DO I GET OUT OF NFB?
by Peggy Chong
SID ALLEN--PORTRAIT OF A FEDERATIONIST
by Ramona Walhof
SO YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING
ABOUT COMPUTERS BUT MIGHT LIKE TO NIBBLE
by Mary Ellen Reihing
APRIL PROCLAIMED BRAILLE MONTH IN MINNESOTA
BLIND AUTHOR'S STORY IS TALE OF WAR, LIFE
by Mike Mulvey
HOW MUCH PROGRESS ARE
WE MAKING IN OUR PROGRAM OF PUBLIC EDUCATION
by Kenneth Jernigan
PUBLICITY FOR BRAILLE READERS ARE LEADERS
ALL I EVER REALLY NEEDED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN
by Robert Fulghum
A TASTE OF RAREBIT
by Kenneth Jernigan
by Betty Pacelli
BOSTON INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY
Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1987
by Dorothy Grubb
(This article appeared in the April, 1987, Michigan Focus, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan.)
On December 26, 1986, my seven-year-old daughter, Nicole, and I had plane reservations to fly from Marquette to Lansing, Michigan, to spend a week with friends and relatives. Our reservations were made and our tickets purchased a month ahead of time, so there should have been no problem. However, when we arrived at the Marquette Airport, we were told there definitely was a problem. It was explained to us that there were three blind people who wanted to get on the same plane, and we were informed that only one of us could board the plane since it is a rule that there should be a stewardess or flight attendant on board for each blind person so they could "watch us."
The supervisor would not come out of the office to talk to us, and the poor ticket agent kept running back and forth between us and the supervisor. I asked if the trouble was that they thought we couldn't get to and from the plane, but I was told that they weren't concerned about us getting on or off the plane but that someone needed to "watch us" during the flight. I explained that there was certainly no need for anyone to "watch us," and I repeatedly asked why it was felt we needed to be watched but got no straight answer to my question. Finally, the ticket agent said that if there was an emergency, there had to be someone to lead us out. As we had discussed this issue for quite some time, I was getting annoyed, and I stated that if the plane crashed, it would be dark and difficult for anyone to see. However, we would remember how we got on the plane and probably would be the first people off.
To make matters worse, there were five unaccompanied children who also had reservations on our flight. My patience ran out when I discovered that the airline personnel considered my daughter to be one of the unaccompanied children. When I stated I was accompanying Nicole, I was told I could not take care of her--that I needed to be accompanied by someone. Now, it takes a lot to get me angry, but that did it! I said that I had been taking care of Nicole for the past seven years, and they had no right to tell me that I was not capable of taking care of her.
After forty-five minutes we were told that we could board the plane and take our trip as long as we agreed to board early so we could be shown where the emergency exits were located.
I have been flying unaccompanied since I was six years old, and I have never had such a frustrating, degrading, and humiliating experience.
This incident proves that the fight for respect and first-class citizenship has not yet been won. We must continue together to educate the public so that blind people can live independent and productive lives.
March 2, 1987
Mrs. Elizabeth Hanford Dole
Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of Transportation
Dear Madame Secretary:
I am writing on behalf of thousands of blind victims of airline discrimination to urge you to begin the rule-making procedure for P.L. 99-435. In the absence of rules for implementation, airlines are blatantly disregarding the law. This flagrant violation must not continue.
I am aware that promulgating effective rules can take some time; however, blind citizens cannot and should not be forced to wait any longer to receive the equitable treatment they are fully entitled to. Therefore, I respectfully request that you use the informal powers of your office to persuade airline officials to cooperate in a voluntary initiative to reverse the pattern of hostile incidents against the blind; and that you direct DOT personnel to strengthen enforcement of existing regulations as an interim step to carry out the will of Congress and the President in approving P.L. 99-435.
Thank you for your prompt and careful attention to this matter.
I look forward to your response on this important issue.
Sincerely, Ted Weiss
Member of Congress
(This article appeared in Joyce Scanlan's Les Affaires column in the spring, 1987, Minnesota Bulletin, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota. As Monitor readers know, Joyce Scanlan is President of the NFB of Minnesota and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind.)
Long, long ago, when I believed I was the most intelligent, "together," independent blind person in the whole wide world, before I became a member of the National Federation of the Blind, I received information or "input" about the National Federation of the Blind-- although it was not named openly but referred to in veiled and sinister, yet clear, terms--from those around me. Counselors from State Services for the Blind (SSB) or any other rehabilitation professional, such as the staff from the Minneapolis Society for the Blind (MSB), would say, "Some blind people want to associate only with other blind people; they aren't well-adjusted." Or, "Blind people who belong to 'those organizations' just sit around and complain; they don't want to do anything." Or, "Organizations of the blind condone begging; they support white cane drives." Or, "Fun and games, music and dancing--that's all blind people do with their organizations." Then, they would say to me, "You are different from 'those other blind people.'" And as they all hoped, I construed that to mean that I was better than "those other blind people."
All of us--brilliant, free thinkers though we be--are influenced by those around us. We hear what they say; we understand what they want us to do or not to do. We want their approval; we do what they want. I understood that the professionals did not approve of the organized blind movement, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). I wanted them to like me; otherwise, they probably wouldn't treat me very well as a client, and I needed their service. They were also saying that I should stay away from other blind people. Joining up with other blind people meant I was dependent, inferior, maladjusted, weak- minded, and stupid. Certainly no one would want to fall into those categories.
I did exactly as they wanted--stayed away from other blind people and didn't go near the NFB. And guess what? The professionals didn't like me anyway; they still didn't approve of me. They still gave me the same lousy treatment they gave to other clients. I had gained absolutely nothing.
Today, I see professionals playing the same mind games with blind people, trying to control their thoughts and actions. Many times their statements are misleading; too often they are more than deceptive; they are downright untrue. Their message is always the same: Don't go near the NFB; don't associate with other blind people. I also see some blind people trying to emulate the behavior of the professionals, whom they see as authority figures, putting down the NFB and treating Federationists with disrespect and disdain.
Fortunately fewer and fewer blind people are falling into the trap I was caught in so many years ago. Perhaps there are really more intelligent people in the world today. However, I believe the truth is that more of us have a better understanding of our own capacity to think for ourselves, a sophistication concerning rights and behavior, a realization of the influences that others can have on our lives, only if we permit it. While we are constantly gaining in self-confidence, we must remember all the little traps that may be set for us. How do we respond to others? How do we want them to respond to us? If we are influenced by others, doesn't it stand to reason that they are influenced by us? That's why I ask you, "What do you say to your friends and others about the NFB?"
As I go about the community working on NFB activities, I have contact with many people, blind and sighted. On the city bus I hear others discussing public policies, current issues of the day. If one of the individuals is blind, very often the NFB is mentioned. As I listen to the conversation, I am often saddened to hear how some of our own members represent us, the organization of which they are a part. If both individuals happen to be blind and one is not a Federationist while the other is, I cringe at the impressions of NFB which are given. The nonFederationist makes all manner of negative statements about NFB, hostile statements of how the NFB "hurts" the blind, is a "militant" outfit. All kinds of ratty and off-the- wall statements pour out of the nonmember, usually in a very loud voice, so that all can hear. Perhaps the member is intimidated by that behavior or is embarrassed or wishes to win favor with the other individual, or something. But in any case, the member falls silent or makes a few timid remarks, denying much contact with the NFB, passively agreeing with the disparaging comments being made. "I don't know much about 'them,'" or, "I'm not very active," the member might say, while the other rails upon blind people or the Federation in general. Sometimes I have later asked the member, "Why didn't you try to straighten your friend out about the NFB? Why did you let him get away with saying such untrue things about us?" The answer usually is, "Oh, I knew I couldn't change his mind, and I was so embarrassed with his behavior that I didn't want to set him off worse than he already was."
The effects of remaining silent or failing to "take the bull by the horns" and deal with the matter directly are that the nonmember remains a nonmember. He has received the impression that all the things he has said are okay with his friend, and acting boorish on a bus is acceptable. Since nothing he has said has been contradicted, the nonmember probably thinks, "Well, this Federation isn't very important to my friend; I must be right about it." The other passengers on the bus hearing the conversation probably come to the same conclusions about the NFB.
All of us need to be better ambassadors for NFB. We have influence on others, and we are responsible for seeing that the influence is positive and constructive. We should be proud to tell others that we belong to NFB, that NFB is the most constructive force in the field of blindness and has the most beneficial impact on society today. We must also let others know that we do not condone hostility toward NFB or false statements made about it. It is not fashionable or acceptable to malign NFB in our presence or anywhere else. We must not pet those who attack our organization. We will not win their respect or curry favor with them by behaving as though they are right when they're not. We cannot make it possible for others who criticize NFB to feel comfortable doing so. They must know that we will not be intimidated, controlled, or embarrassed by unseemly public behavior. We must let others know that we want them to know about NFB, know it truthfully, and be a part of it.
When the nonFederationist happens to be with the American Council of the Blind (ACB), his behavior is absolutely predictable. ACB president in Minnesota, Tom Heinl, can be counted on to oppose everything and anything initiated by NFB. At State Services for the Blind advisory meetings he brings no issues of his own; he simply "reacts" to what the NFB representative proposes, and he can be relied upon to be negative to the extreme, no matter what the substance of the matter might be. If we say "The sky is blue and the sun rises," Heinl will try to say how that isn't so. Heinl is a big guy with a loud, authoritative-sounding voice. He intimidates many of the other council members, including the chairman, and the agency people present as well. Federationists in the room understand what Heinl is doing and are not affected or put down by him. We all stick to the principle of what is true and right for blind people; we will not back down, and we will not compromise. The Advisory Council is still quite new. Some of the philosophies of its members are still being formulated. We'll see in the months and years to come whether Heinl has much credibility with anyone.
He likely will not change--not as long as he is rewarded and petted for being "against" everything. We can have a positive effect upon the other Council members and the State Services for the Blind staff by showing openly and proudly that we believe in what we're doing, and no matter what, we're going to adhere to our principles and not be swayed away by others who want us in their power for their personal gain.
The best public relations for sighted and other blind people comes from ourselves. The fact that NFB is often the central topic of conversation on a bus or at an Advisory Council meeting means we have made great progress. No longer are State Services for the Blind or the private agencies the sole entity in the public mind when it comes to blindness. All of us have helped that to happen. Let's recognize our power to change others. We can influence them to join the NFB, just as, if we allow them, the professionals can influence them not to join. Professionals are carrying on today as they always have, struggling to control blind people and keep them from gaining strength and belief by joining up with other blind people. No one likes being lied to, and when blind people learn that they have been told falsehoods about NFB, they are outraged.
I will never forget what agency people said to me long ago. While I am not proud that I succumbed to their wishes as long as I did, I am certainly pleased that I finally did have the correct information and the good sense to check out what was really going on. Now, quite honestly, if some of my friends had shown more positive convictions about the NFB at the time, I might have seen more reason to question the professionals' statements. Today, I hope more of us are coming up to the line and using the power of our beliefs to attract others to the Federation. If anyone tries to tell us our "baby" is ugly, he or she must be prepared to pay the consequences. The Federation is ours. We have built it. Now, we must make it strong. Others will listen to us as long as we lead honestly and fairly. We can be as predictable for supporting NFB and fighting for its principles as others might be for opposing. In the end we will prevail. That's exactly what is already happening.
(This article, which was headlined "Quincy Native Finds A New Way to Serve," appeared in the April 19, 1987, edition of the Quincy, Illinois, Herald-Whig. In a letter to the Monitor Editor Mrs. Randall said: "I will be sworn in as 6th Ward Alderman on May 4, 1987. I am excited about my part-time career and wanted to share it with you. I will look forward to seeing you and Mrs. Jernigan in Phoenix." In her daily life and accomplishments Catherine Horn Randall gives tangible form to Federationism in action.)
A Quincy native, Catherine Horn Randall, this month successfully traveled the political trail as a Jacksonville aldermanic candidate, even though she couldn't see the path.
Being a novice at partisan politics, her victory April 7 over an eight-year incumbent alderman was an upset. Overcoming obstacles is characteristic of Randall's life.
Randall, 40, First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, calls her blindness a "nuisance, but not a disability."
She was born three months premature, a daughter of Catherine Horn, now Mrs. Charles Barnum of Quincy, and the late Frank Horn, a Quincy architect. She weighed about two pounds at birth and oxygen was administered to save her life. The oxygen caused retinal damage, which blinded her in the left eye and severely limited vision in her right eye.
With the aid of thick glasses, she was able to see through her youth. She graduated in 1965 from Quincy High School and in 1969 earned a degree in secondary education from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, where she met her husband Robert.
About eight years ago her vision worsened so that all she could see was bright colors. She was determined not to let blindness get the best of her so she learned Braille and mobility skills.
"Blindness creates a need to find alternate ways to get things accomplished," says the advocate of better opportunities for the blind.
The former English teacher edits the Federation's monthly newspaper and is President of the Ferris Wheel Chapter, which is the Jacksonville affiliate of the blind Federation. She also is the President of the Jacksonville Theatre Guild.
She remains involved in business and last week was in Quincy to attend a board meeting of the State Street Store, a position she assumed upon her father's death. She and her husband also own a landscape nursery in Jacksonville.
In March, when Jacksonville Republicans were looking for a candidate to fill their aldermanic slate, they turned to Randall.
Jacksonville Mayor Helen Foreman, a former teacher of President Reagan, asked Randall to run. The three precinct committeemen in Jacksonville's 6th Ward all suggested Randall.
Foreman thought Randall's varied activities would make her an excellent candidate.
Foreman, whose father was deaf and taught at the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville, knows the misconceptions about handicapped persons. The mayor recalls how angry her mother got when her mother was asked if her husband could read and write.
Foreman also remembers a conversation she once had with Randall about public misconceptions of handicapped persons. Randall told her that "people forget that just because one (body) part doesn't work, it doesn't mean none of them do."
Jacksonville, where state schools for the deaf and blind are located, is more accustomed to handicapped persons than most communities, Foreman says.
When Randall agreed to run for alderman, she made a wholehearted commitment. She walked house-to-house through all of Jacksonville's 6th Ward, the largest ward in the city.
She won 411-283 over the Democratic incumbent, getting 59 percent of the vote. Her victory maintained the 7-7 partisan division on the city council.
Randall says her blindness has forced her to become a good listener, an asset for an alderman. Her aldermanic term begins May 4, and she plans to take notes in Braille and uses a tape recorder to help keep track of council discussions. Volunteers will read to her the newspaper accounts of meetings.
Randall says she never considered herself a partisan politician.
"I'm a person who loves to serve and who happens to be blind," she says. "If I can be a good role model (to other blind persons) that would be humbling."
She says blind persons should have more to say about laws pertaining to them and about the use of government funds intended to help them. She speaks adamantly of the ability of the blind to hold competitive jobs. She advocates teaching Braille to students with severe sight limitations, instead of only to the blind.
Randall will discuss her aldermanic campaign at a national convention for the blind this summer in Phoenix. She says she will tell her audience the campaign was a "no-lose situation" because she was assured of meeting new people and confronting a new challenge.
by Kenneth Jernigan
In 1970 I wrote an article called: "The Separate Agency for the Blind--Why and Where." An attempt was being made in several of the states to achieve so-called "integration" of what were termed "human services," and the blind were prime targets. In the first paragraph of that article I said:
"A very disturbing trend is becoming increasingly apparent throughout the country with respect to the organizational and placement structure of programs for the blind--a trend which may be more ominous than anything we have seen in the past twenty years. It is nothing less than the total obliteration of separate agencies for the blind by combining them into larger catchall departments of government."
Later in the article I said: "Historically, the first services to blind people in this country were educational. Toward the middle of the last century schools for the blind began to appear throughout the nation. For the most part they were separate entities with the single purpose of educating blind children. In some instances, however, an attempt was made to combine them with schools for the deaf. Apparently the notion was that since both deaf children and blind children had sensory deprivations, their needs were similar and their education should be 'integrated.' The experiment was a failure. In reality the two groups had to be educated separately with different techniques to meet the two distinct problems. Although located on the same campus and combined under one administration, the two entities had to function separately.
"Further, the blind necessarily got the short end of the stick.
The deaf were always in the majority, and the orientation and planning were slanted toward the larger group. There are comparatively few such combined institutions left and almost nobody would advocate going back to the 'integrated' setup."
A lot has happened since 1970, and the blind have made tremendous progress. However, with respect to throwing the blind into giant mishmashes and calling those mishmashes "integration of human services" we are about where we were. In fact, I think it is safe to say that we have lost ground. In 1970 I said that almost "nobody would advocate going back" to the outdated setup of combined schools for the deaf and blind, but in 1987 that statement cannot be made.
As a case in point, consider what happened in Kansas earlier this year. Some of the members of the state legislature decided to save money by eliminating the Kansas School for the Blind. As Monitor readers would expect, there was immediate and tremendous opposition--led by the National Federation of the Blind. Dick Edlund, President of the NFB of Kansas, and other Federation leaders were in Topeka almost daily. They coordinated their efforts with Ralph Bartley, Superintendent of the School for the Blind, and brought the matter to public attention. In March and April the battle to save the School was featured in the press repeatedly:
THE OLATHE DAILY NEWS
Sunday, March 8, 1987
KSD In Merger Discussion
by A. Scharnhorst
A Kansas House subcommittee has recommended closing the Kansas School for the Visually Handicapped in Kansas City, Kansas, and moving the school's 60 students to the Kansas School for the Deaf campus in Olathe.
Under an appropriations subcommittee report, attached to funding proposals for the state schools, a plan should be implemented to move KSVH services to the KSD campus over a three year period, beginning July 1, 1988.
The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Rex Hoy, R-Fairway, cites declining enrollment at the two schools, needed capital improvements at both campuses and the state's poor financial situation as reasons for consolidating the schools.
The purpose of the consolidation is to "maximize investments in educational services for the visually impaired and deaf students and even enhance such services in the long run," the report states.
Considerations for the proposal include:
* The enrollment at KSVH has declined from 72 students in fiscal year 1978 to an estimated 62 students next year. KSD's enrollment has dropped from 278 in 1978 to 206 estimated for 1988.
* Capitol improvement expenditures will be necessary at both schools in the next few years. Modifications to, or replacement of, Emery Hall at KSD are estimated to cost $1.4 million to $4.4 million. Roofing replacement at KSVH and construction to make both schools handicapped accessible will be additional capital improvement expenditures.
* The consolidation would provide long-term savings in the areas of administrative, maintenance, utilities, meal delivery and infirmary services, according to the recommendation.
The campus of KSVH would be sold, generating money for the state, according to the subcommittee recommendations.
Gerald Johnson, KSD superintendent, and Ralph Bartley, KSVH superintendent, oppose the recommendations, on the grounds that KSD does not have the space for the additional students and programs and that cost savings would not necessarily be inherent in the move.
"Although I can see the perception on the part of the public of this being two special schools with two similar missions, you really couldn't find two less similar groups to try to come up with a program for," Johnson said.
"The educational methodologies are different in the extreme, so it's hard to imagine deaf children and blind children being compatible either educationally or socially," he said.
Therefore, completely separate programs would have to be maintained, the superintendents said.
"My students can't see them signing and his students can't hear them speaking," Bartley said.
The issue, then, is whether the KSD campus has room for the two schools to operate independently, Johnson said. He believes there isn't.
KSD's enrollment has declined from the 1960's and 1970's, he said. But during that period, KSD was overpopulated by 40-60 students.
"We simply had them crowded in here. We bumped them in four to a dormitory room when two would have been advisable and twelve to a classroom when six would have been advisable," Johnson said.
Any extra space KSD has is in small, unusable areas, Johnson said. Completely new buildings would be required to move the KSVH to Olathe.
"It's not like I could give up a big section of my dormitory for their students. I'm using my dormitory now. Outside of the need to economize, it doesn't make sense to combine the two schools," Johnson said.
According to Bartley, numerous studies have been done providing that the two schools are economically sound. Three studies in the last five years have shown that the two schools are cost- efficient and not out of line with other schools in the Midwest. One study showed that 10 schools operated dually were more expensive than what KSD and KSVH were doing on separate campuses, he said.
"It's not a position supported by our board of governors or by any of the previous studies," Bartley said. "It's not cost-efficient. . .and it's not in the best interests of blind children."
Bartley is also concerned that the consolidation might be slipped under the noses of legislators because it is attached to the funding bill for the schools, he said. The actual bill that would pass out of committee and on the House floor could include consolidation provisions, but those would not necessarily show up on the bill voted on by legislators, he said.
Rep. Vince Snowbarger, R-Olathe, said the move would be good for Olathe and KSD in the long run.
"In terms of jobs in the area it's great," he said. "But whether (Johnson) can accommodate them all is another thing. It might mean upgrading of facilities out there.
"I think the exciting thing about this is that Olathe will gain not only new taxpayers because of new employees, but new facilities, new dormitories."
KANSAS CITY KANSAN
March 8, 1987
KCK Could Lose School for Blind
by Bob Friskel
Kansas City, Kansas, could lose the Kansas State School for the Visually Handicapped--a school that has been a part of the city for 120 years.
"It's gone to Olathe in three years if a bill before the Legislature passes," said Richard Edlund, Kansas City, Kansas, President of the National Federation of the Blind in Kansas. "Absolutely. It would be a disaster."
Edlund said the bill would merge the state school for the visually handicapped (SSVH) at 1100 State with the School for the Deaf in Olathe.
The bill, No. 2225, was passed by the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday and now goes to the full House for a vote. That vote is expected within 10 days, a legislative official said.
"Some states have merged the schools in recent years," Edlund said, "and in every event the costs have been about four times as much. There are about four times as many deaf students, and the blind kids get little out of it. It's all geared to the deaf. The two disabilities are totally different."
The bill actually is a financial bill and does not mention the school. However, a subcommittee report gives recommendations for the bill, and those recommendations would be part of the implementation if the bill passes....
But locally the bill has drawn strong comment. SSVH Superintendent Ralph Bartley agreed with Edlund that the move would be "a disaster.
"Basically I guess they're trying to raise money for the state," Bartley said. "But I don't know who they'd sell it to. The only real serious efforts I'm aware of for buying it have been by state agencies.
"Social Rehabilitation Services has been wanting to take us over to put the Rainbow Mental Health here and move from near the KU Medical Center. They want to use our campus for a place for the mentally ill.
"The other interest is by the Department of Corrections, which wants to put prisoners here. It was being considered and I have no idea if this is in the back of somebody's mind or not.
"The Legislature three years ago gave $100,000 to a Wichita engineering firm to look at state facilities for a corrections facility. They've had people in here getting sewer sizes and everything. One made the comment, 'This would make a real nice prison facility.' I told him Wyandotte County is really not crazy about having a corrections facility in the county, and certainly not at 11th and State. But I've had people in here measuring since then. It's more than talk. I never got a final report, but an official in corrections told me, 'You're just ideal for taking care of the overcrowded corrections problem.' I really don't think that would work."
Bartley said the state's Department of Education has made studies showing the present system is most equitable to taxpayers, largely because of the low number of blind students. Consultants and other experts outside Wyandotte County were used for the studies. The only local consultant, former Kansas City, Kansas, school superintendent Dr. O.L. Plucker, also concluded that the present system is most equitable to taxpayers.
Only about 200 of the state's 400,000 students are blind while about 800 are deaf. The SSVH enrollment has been as high as 130 but has leveled off to 64 students and usually is in the 60's....
Bartley noted that the school began in 1867 in the same 11th and State location. The land was given by the Wyandot Indians to the City of Wyandotte, which deeded it to Kansas for the purpose of serving the blind.
The school now has a budget of about $2 million a year....
Another article appeared in the Kansas City Kansan on March 9. As had been the case in the March 8 articles, Dick Edlund and Ralph Bartley (along with a growing number of others) were quoted as opposing the merger. On March 11 the Kansas City Kansanreported that the bill to merge the schools had been sent back to Committee, and on March 12 Dick Edlund was again extensively quoted in the Kansas City Kansan, saying in part: "The Governor probably could kill the proposal with one phone call. We have to persuade him to oppose this. The more calls he gets on this the better."
Ralph Bartley was also quoted in the March 12 article: "It sounds like a real easy way to save money, just combine the two schools. But the studies show it would be more expensive to consolidate than to leave them separate." Bartley said. Evidence that the efforts of the team of Edlund and Bartley were achieving results was indicated by the fact that the state board of education voted to oppose the merger and recommended that the Governor also oppose it. The Mayor and City Council of Kansas City, Kansas, and the county's legislative delegation took a public stand against the measure, and a bandwagon atmosphere began to develop. Articles were appearing daily in the press throughout the entire state, and there was also widespread radio and television coverage.
On March 16 the Kansas City Kansan came openly into the battle in opposition to the merger bill with a strong editorial:
Blind, Deaf Kids Wouldn't Be Served
The Kansan here adds its voice to the loud chorus of dissent against the proposed consolidation of the Kansas State School for the Visually Handicapped (KSSVH) and the Kansas State School for the Deaf in Olathe.
The proposal already has drawn protests from the leader of the Federation of the Blind in Kansas, the superintendents of both schools, city council and county commission members, and local legislators.
A primary reason given for the proposal by Democratic legislators from Wichita is that the consolidation could save money. The KSSVH building could be sold to make more money for the state. But local officials fear the state only wants to put a prison or home for the mentally ill into the facility at 11th and State near the downtown area.
Officials opposing the change, those who work most closely with the blind and deaf, say the two types of students would not be compatible. They also say the up-front cost of the move would be so high that the move would not save money.
A further reason the proposal has drawn such outraged reaction is that the KSSVH has been a part of this community for 120 years. The land was given by the Wyandot Indians in 1867 expressly for the purpose of a school for the blind. In all those years it has been a good neighbor, it has never caused the city difficulty, and it has been a valued and even admired part of Kansas City, Kansas. The school has been a source of community pride. We do not want to see an old friend uprooted, forced out.
There are many arguments against the move; but perhaps the best one is that voiced by a neutral observer, the consultant hired by the state board of education to report on the matter. He is former Kansas City, Kansas, School District Superintendent Dr. O.L. Plucker.
He said the first question to be asked is: Is consolidation of the two schools the best way to serve children. He concluded that the answer, quite simply, is no.
By March 17 the comments in the Letters to the Editor column of the Olathe Daily News were hitting the sponsors of the bill where it hurt most, threats of not voting for them and marshalling unfavorable public opinion:
Teaching the Blind Not the Same As Teaching the Deaf
After reading the article in the March 8 Olathe Daily News I felt I must write you and hope it will let the powers that be know they are wrong.
"KSD in merger discussion," is hopefully just a discussion, and not a serious one at that.
I don't know Rep. Rex Hoy or his qualifications in the education field, but I believe that I have as much knowledge as he, from your article. I assume the rest of his committee are of the same caliber.
I also doubt the judgment of Rep. Vince Snowbarger. He has very short sight in seeing only the taxes Olathe would gain from a merger of two dissimilar schools. I am very proud to say that I never have, nor will I ever, vote for him.
It only takes common logic to see that there is nothing similar in the teaching methods of blind and deaf children. I believe Supt. Gerald Johnson is correct in that KSD is at the enrollment level that was intended, and that more students would overcrowd KSD.
What is wrong with providing the best education for all children, whether they attend a special school or a public school? Are we to believe that KSD and KSVH children are other than first-class citizens? Can't our elected officials look to the future and see that the better educated children are, the greater potential for income and thereby more taxes in the coffers, if that is what they really are thinking about?
I say, and I imagine there are lots more like me, that we should not spare any expense to educate all children in public schools.
Cecil M. Howard Olathe
As the momentum built in the press, Edlund and Bartley kept up the drum fire. On April 6 the Kansas City Kansan could report: "The mayor and city council received assurances today from members of the Wyandotte County Legislative delegation that a House committee recommendation which would move the Kansas School for the Visually Handicapped from Kansas City, Kansas, to Johnson County has been rejected by the Senate."
So the bill to merge the Kansas Schools for the Blind and Deaf was killed, but the blind of the nation should not take this as a signal to relax. What happened in Kansas is symptomatic of what is beginning to occur with increasing frequency throughout the country. We must be vigilant, and we must be prepared to take strong and decisive action whenever and wherever the next attack occurs.
This does not mean that the National Federation of the Blind will unquestioningly support every program in the nation which calls itself an agency for the blind. Agencies and schools must earn our respect and deserve our support, but all other things being equal (which they frequently aren't), we will get better services from a separate agency than from a large conglomerate which claims to take care of the needs of more than one group. The Kansas experience underscores again the fact that the Federation is effective and that when the crunch comes, we must either lead the battle or see it lost.
by Peggy Chong
(This article appeared in the Spring, 1987, issue of the Minnesota Bulletin, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota. Peggy Chong is one of the leaders of the NFB of Minnesota.)
Curtis and I have invested our money in many ways. We have a checking account, savings accounts, an IRA, insurance policies, our home, and so on. Why am I telling our financial secrets, you ask? Well, I'll be glad to tell you. We want financial security for ourselves and our daughter in our old age or if, heaven forbid, something happens to one or both of us, our daughter will be able to continue in school, et cetera.
What does this have to do with fundraising? A LOT! At our recent fundraising committee meeting, the discussion centered around how much money, or what percentage, a chapter should contribute to our state and national treasuries. Someone commented, "Well, I give a good deal on the Pre-Authorized Check (PAC) Plan, and I don't get anything back." How untrue! First of all, there is the Braille Monitor, which every member receives whether he or she is a PAC contributor or not. There is Jim Gashel. He has repeatedly helped Minnesotans with Social Security or Randolph-Sheppard problems. His expertise cannot be matched by any "advocate for the blind." We in Minnesota call him from our state office on behalf of our members many times. Also, we cannot forget the vast amount of Federation literature and sales service items we all take advantage of.
What about all the money our National Office has put into Minnesota on behalf of just a few people? During the 1970's there was the battle with the Minneapolis Society for the Blind. That lawsuit was brought by a few Minnesota residents. Our National Office helped defray some of the cost of the lawsuit, and our other fifty affiliates were there to help us collect the proxies so we could secure eight seats on the MSB board. In 1984 Judy Sanders was arrested on a People Express airplane for sitting in an exit row. Should Judy have paid for her lawyer and all the extra transportation? She would have if she could have, but she couldn't. Once again, our National Office came to the rescue. Then came 1985 when Steve and Nadine Jacobson were thrown in jail after being arrested for sitting in their assigned exit row seats on a United jet. This time we were up against the big one, and the National Office came over the hill, just like the cavalry in the old movies.
Why didn't Minnesota foot the whole bill in all these cases, you ask? Good question. Minnesota had been putting money into Mary Hartle's suit against the Human Rights Department. We had been holding seminars for parents of blind children. We had been working with blind parents. We had been travelling around the state on behalf of blind vendors and other blind people with specific grievances. And we had been trying to help blind people become employed. Should we have put all that aside? Of course not.
So what has all this to do with my checkbook? I look at our chapter treasury, and I see my checkbook. The money is in my checking account to pay the day-to-day things, the little things--postage, travel, printing, entertainment, groceries, the rent, et cetera. My savings account is for vacations. That account is like the state treasury. It is available if our chapter wants a seminar or needs a lawyer to represent a member in court in a minor case. Then, there are our house and our insurance policies--our disaster funds, if you will. These are like our national treasury. Federationists want to invest our money in the national treasury in case we are arrested for sitting in an exit row, have our children taken away because we're blind, or need to fight an agency on a long- term basis. We Minnesotans have taken advantage of our national insurance policy a lot in the past few years.
So which treasury is most important? All three are equally important. Just as we set money aside in different places to insure our futures, so, too, must we set aside money in different treasuries to insure our future as blind people. We also must insure the future for generations of Federationists to come.
The PAC Plan and the Associates program are not just status symbols for the most active and committed members. They are insurance policies against gross discrimination. We receive our dividend monthly, the Braille Monitor. Money in the state treasury brings the Minnesota Bulletin and the state office. Our chapter benefits are only as great as you and I make them. A chapter with a large treasury may never accomplish what a poor chapter does. A chapter can draw on donated services and people power that are badly needed to get our message out and our tasks completed. But best of all, when a blind person is in trouble, the NFB is there to help. We'll find the expertise somewhere; we'll find the money somewhere, because we're all one movement, a family. As long as one person gets away with discriminating against a blind person, all of us are in danger of losing our rights.
I know we have many members who are active in fundraising projects. I'm glad for that. But I don't want to hear people say, "I'm on the PAC Plan, and I don't expect to get anything in return for that." Or, "I don't use the state office, so I shouldn't have to pay for it." If these thoughts do cross your mind, think of the times Joyce Scanlan has been at your chapter meetings; think of the vendors or parents in your chapter she has helped. Then, think of the Monitor. I think you'll see what I mean. All those little things add up.
by Ramona Walhof
Sid Allen was born in 1926 in Hinton, West Virginia, the son of a railroad engineer. After high school graduation in 1943 Sid enlisted in the armed forces. He served in the Philippines, Guam, and Okinawa. In June of 1945 Sid Allen was seriously wounded. He says he feels fortunate that he received good treatment and regained good health, but he did not regain his eyesight.
The Veteran's Administration sent him to Avon near Hartford, Connecticut, for training and the adjustment to blindness, which turned out to be a good thing. He was one of the first to learn the Hoover straight cane technique, which has since revolutionized independent cane travel for the blind. Even though in 1945 the Hoover technique was in its infancy, Sid says: "Getting that cane was a major step back toward independence for me. It brought back hope." Another thing that helped was the constant attention of nurses and volunteers.
After training, Sid returned to West Virginia to attend Marshall University in Huntington, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1951. During college Sid married Marjorie Nickels, and they now have two grown daughters and three grandchildren.
In 1951 no one outside the Federation thought in terms of attitudes toward blindness causing problems, and Sid Allen had had no contact with the Federation. Nevertheless, he determined that going into business was the best way to develop a career. Other people did not believe in him as a blind person, but he knew he could run a business.
Sid's Answering Service was the first in Huntington, and it grew steadily for the next twenty-five years. When it was sold in 1977, fifteen persons were employed, including two who were blind. The purchaser kept them all, and the business has continued to prosper to the present.
Sid first became interested in restoring old cars as a teenager. During college it was his hobby to work on antique cars. He laughs when he says, "Part of the fun was finding girls to drive them." Since that time Sid has always had a few cars around to work on. "Sooner or later," he says, "someone would make me an offer I couldn't turn down." Not only did he enjoy working on cars, but he also liked meeting "car people." So cars remained a hobby.
When Sid Allen decided to sell the Answering Service in the 1970's, he wanted to take some time off to work on his house and property. He had made no decision about another business. Then a friend of his, who was an automobile dealer, died. It seemed right for him to take over the business and convert it into used automobiles--antiques and others. The business restores all cars it handles. He reports that he comes across some nice collectors' cars. He hires nine full-time staff and others as needed. Anyone who talks with him can tell that he thoroughly enjoys and understands what he is doing.
Sid Allen first joined the National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia in 1959 and first attended a national convention in Detroit in 1962. He served as Treasurer of the NFB of West Virginia from 1963 until 1983. He was President of the Huntington Chapter for several years during the 1970's. He calls himself the general handyman of the affiliate. He owns a 1976 cadillac convertible, which he provides for parades in all parts of the state. It makes a good impression on watchers, with blind people marching in front and waving from its seats.
Of his experience in the Federation Sid Allen says: "The NFB is the thing that puts me in contact with others that think as I do about blindness, even though our interests, beliefs, and values are different. I find it very constructive in this self-help group to compare notes and experiences as we do in the Federation."
by Mary Ellen Reihing
(As Federationists know, Mary Ellen Reihing is the Assistant Director of Job Opportunities for the Blind--JOB. This article is taken from an address which she gave at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia May 16, 1987.)
If you want to raise the blood pressure of the people around you, start talking about computers. Whether you believe they're the road to salvation or ruination, they're here to stay, and almost no one is neutral about them. More and more jobs are becoming computerized. In some companies typewriters have been almost totally replaced by computers.
For those of us who are blind, computers have the potential of opening up jobs which were once closed. If we cannot find a way to use them efficiently, they also have the potential of slamming the door to opportunity in our faces.
I approached my first computer with awe, fear, and excitement. I was awed because I thought those machines were too smart for me. I was wrong. Computers are actually quite stupid, but they're incredibly quick! They can add numbers, sort things, correct typing errors, and do a number of routine jobs with incredible speed. But they have no intuition, no creativity, and no ability to do anything except precisely what they're told. In other words, they can work fast, but they can't think at all.
I was afraid of computers because I didn't know if I was technical enough to hook one up, rich enough to afford to buy one, or bright enough to learn to use one if I got it.
I was excited about computers because I thought they would open up a whole new world of print information to me and to other blind people.
I would probably be classified as "a computer semi-literate." Though the intricacies of operating systems are still unsolved mysteries to me, I have learned to distinguish computer fantasy from fact. Here are some of the things I've learned.
Fantasy: You have to know how to program a computer to use one.
Fact: Most people who use computers don't know the first thing about writing a program. They use programs someone else has written.
Fantasy: Somewhere there is a speech or Braille or large print access device or program which is "the best."
Fact: There are several systems on the market--eight or nine for the IBM PC alone--and each has strengths and weaknesses. Just as some people like Fords while others prefer Chevys, people who use computers have strong, sometimes almost violent, opinions about which is best. It's mostly a matter of taste and depends on the work the computer will be doing.
Fantasy: All you have to do is plug in your computer, and it'll be the answer to your access prayers.
Fact: Every speech, Braille, or large print method for getting information from computers requires the user to learn an extra skill above and beyond the skills sighted people need. Blind people must know more to get the same work done.
Fantasy: Blind people must go to agencies for the blind to learn what they need to know about computers.
Fact: Hundreds of blind people have taught themselves, and one another, without specialized training programs for the blind.
Fantasy: You will have to mortgage the homestead and promise to give away your first-born child to get enough money to buy an accessible computer.
Fact: Computers that talk cost less than many used cars. Computers with Braille displays cost less than many new cars. Computers with large print displays cost something in between.
Fantasy: If blind people only had the right computer, we'd be sure to get jobs.
Fact: Employers don't hire tools. They hire people. If the computer was so wonderful that it could make a person able to do a job, employers would forget the person and hire the computer instead. The major barrier to employment for the blind is still attitudes. Technology can help, but it is not the answer.
Imagine a carpenter walking onto a construction site and saying, "You ought to hire me. I've got this great hammer!" Some blind people think that way about computers. One Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB) applicant wrote a letter to an employer which said "I have a computer that makes me capable of doing the job." He wanted to work as a writer and went on to describe a Braille word processor, a computer that makes it easy for a typist to correct mistakes and edit work. He was correct when he said the machine would help him produce perfect print copies of whatever he might write, but he missed the point entirely. Just as a carpenter is not a master craftsman because he owns a good hammer, a blind writer is not a master craftsman because he owns a Braille or talking word processor. Would Shakespeare have written better sonnets on a computer? Would a word processor make a Shakespeare of you or me?
On the other hand, a carpenter without a hammer would have a hard time nailing boards together. A blind person without access to computers will have a hard time doing many modern jobs. It's a matter of perspective and balance. We need tools, but we must never forget that we are the workers and that our tools are tools. We run them. It's not the other way around.
With that perspective firmly in mind, here are a few questions to answer before navigating the technology maze. I apologize for some of the jargon here. You won't need to remember any of it until you're ready to take the plunge. I mention it only to help you begin asking the questions that can save you time, money, and trouble when it's time to make a purchase.
1. Why do you want the computer and what do you intend to do with it? This seems like a silly question. Who would buy a computer without a plan for its use? Many people do, and they frequently regret their choice because they didn't address this simple question. If you want a word processor only, you can buy a computer that will do word processing and nothing more. If you want to do other things, too, or if you think your needs will change, you'll pick another computer.
2. Will you be working alone, or do you want to tie into a larger system? If you're the only person using your computer, you have a wider choice and fewer technical problems to solve. If you want your computer to be a terminal in a larger system, you may need to work with a skilled technician to get it done. You'll make the technician's job easier if you find out the name and model number of the larger system. Does it use the ASCII (or standard) computer code? (Some systems use other codes, but ASCII is becoming the standard.) Is it compatible with the IBM PC? (More has been done with PC-Compatible systems than any others, but don't despair if your system is different. Solutions can be found.) Does it have a serial or RS- 232c port? (This is technical jargon for the plug in the back of the machine, which is used to connect most speech and Braille devices.) What software (or programs) will you need to use? Some programs don't work with Braille or speech. Graphics are a big problem. Computer voices will not explain pictures. The Apple Macintosh is particularly hard to use because it depends heavily on graphics. Some word processors "paint" pictures of letters on the screen instead of using standard computer codes, and speech or Braille devices can't cope.
3. How much are you able to spend? The price tag for the speech, Braille, or large print adaptationscan be as low as $700 or as high as $10,000. This is in addition to the cost of the computer, but at the $10,000 end of things the computer may be included.
4. Do you want speech, Braille, or large print? Would a combination work best for you?
5. Do you want something you can learn in a hurry, or are you willing to take extra time to learn to use a more complicated, but more flexible, system? The simpler a system is to learn, the more limiting it is likely to be. On the other hand, you may not need a lot of bells and whistles. If not, there's no need to bother with learning a complex system.
6. Is the voice quality extremely important to you? Most people can learn to understand most speech synthesizers within two to three hours. Before you decide you must have an expensive synthesizer with a human-sounding voice, give the others a chance. Some of the cheaper models make up for their unappealing vocals with their ability to respond instantly to commands.
If this last set of questions has thoroughly overwhelmed you, don't worry about it. The best news about computers today is that there is a lot of help out there for the novice. Because you are part of the National Federation of the Blind, you can draw upon the knowledge of some of the most capable blind computer users in America. The members of the NFB in Computer Science, the Research and Development Committee, and the Committee for the Evaluation of Technology collectively have more knowledge about computers than most of us will ever need. Some of them can even talk about technology in plain English!
(This article appeared in the April, 1987, issue of the Minnesota Bulletin, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota.)
On April 2, in the office of Governor Rudy Perpich, in the presence of some twelve or more individuals representing various groups, the following proclamation declaring April to be Braille Month in Minnesota was signed by the governor. A Braille copy of the proclamation was read by Joyce Scanlan, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota, to all those assembled for the official signing ceremony. Here is the proclamation:
WHEREAS, the ability to read and write is recognized as indispensable for any American to compete in today's society; and
WHEREAS, this right to read is essential for blind Americans, as well, to obtain an education, compete for employment, and fully participate in society; and
WHEREAS, Braille, a system of raised dots developed by Louis Braille in the early 1820's, represents the means by which blind people are able to achieve the same level of literacy as the sighted; and
WHEREAS, the State of Minnesota through its Communication Center, Services for the Blind, with support from the Hamm and Minnesota Foundations and in cooperation with the many dedicated individual volunteers and volunteer organizations such as the Volunteer Braille Services and Temple Israel Braille Program and organizations of the blind such as the National Federation of the Blind, will continue to promote literacy through Braille for all blind Minnesotans; and
WHEREAS, all educational institutions and agencies of and for the blind should be encouraged to recognize the importance of Braille and promote literacy through Braille training; and
WHEREAS, employers and the public should be encouraged to utilize the available skills of competent blind persons and to open new opportunities for the blind in a rapidly changing society;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Rudy Perpich, Governor of the State of Minnesota, do hereby proclaim the month of April, 1987, to be
Braille Month In Minnesota
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Minnesota to be affixed at the State Capitol this fourth day of March in the year of our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred Eighty-Seven and of the State the Hundred Twenty-Seventh.
by Mike Mulvey
(This article appeared in the November 23, 1986, Lincoln (Nebraska) Star. Anyone wishing to purchase copies of her book should contact Mrs. Franz at: 416 12th Street, Aurora, Nebraska 68818.)
AURORA - Ingeborg Franz's story isn't just about her survival in the troubled and torn Germany of World War II, but how she came to record the tale as an aging, blind woman transplanted in Nebraska.
Her self-published book "Let There Be Peace. . ." is subtitled "Ingeborg's Memoirs." In it she traces her life from the early years in a German port town through young adulthood in the prosperous and then ravaged Berlin and finally to her settlement here.
"I dedicated the book to everybody who has lost a loved one in a war because I lost my mother and my aunt in a bomb attack," said Franz, who speaks with a slight accent.
Blue-eyed Franz, 67, told of her birth in the German town of Stettin at the end of World War I. She spoke of her parents' divorce and how at age 10 she moved to Berlin with her mother, sister, aunt, and grandmother.
As she grew from adolescence into womanhood, she benefited from Germany's newfound prosperity under the rise of Hitler and his Third Reich. She worked as a bookkeeper in a Berlin jewelry store, where business boomed as people flocked to buy gems and precious metals to protect their assets as war approached.
The War Years
Franz remained apolitical during the early years of the war, devoting her free time to romance, picnics, and skiing trips. Then she began hearing of the horrors of concentration camps where Jews and others were slaughtered. Refugees from the east flooded in as the war with the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front intensified.
By the time she came to recognize the evil of the war, she said, it was knocking at her door.
On a November night in 1943, air-raid sirens and the sound of British or American planes overhead sent Franz, her mother, and aunt to the shelter of a crowded basement. As fate would have it, Franz stepped out into a corridor to smoke a cigarette.
"I do not remember whether I was through smoking that cigarette or not, when the drone of airplanes became so loud and the whistle of bombs was right overhead," she writes in her book. "Instinctively I bent down my head and counted the whistles: one--two the light went out; I heard splintering of wood.
Suddenly there was an immense draft blowing through the corridor.
I tried to reach after my head scarf which had been tied under my chin, but was blown off my head by tremendous force. It had vanished. All I could grab was rubble. Then there was nothing."
"It was Horrible"
When she regained consciousness, she and others nearby were buried up to the chest. Rescue workers pulled them to freedom. Just a few steps away, however, her mother and aunt perished with 50 others beneath a collapsed building.
Then, Franz said, phosphorus bombs fell, igniting the remains of her entire neighborhood.
"We saw people crawling out of burning buildings through their sixth-floor windows and jumping to their deaths," she said. "It was horrible."
With nothing but the clothes on her back, Franz spent the next several days searching for her sister and grandmother, who were elsewhere in the country. Later the three reunited and returned to Berlin, where they stayed for the remainder of the war.
In 1948 Franz applied to come to America to live with relatives in New York. Three years later she arrived.
Living in America
She soon met and married Paul Franz. They farmed in the Hampton area until the early 1970's, when they moved to Aurora.
About that time Ingeborg's sight began failing because of an untreatable, degenerative eye disease.
"I've been nearsighted all my life," she said. "My eyes got worse and worse. But I've only been blind the past 10 years."
She learned Braille at home and began writing her book in 1977.
"I always had the idea I should tell my story because the people here were so lucky to never have a war waged in their own country," she said. "It took me seven years. I worked every morning for two or three hours.
"I had never written anything in my life. And there was a problem with the language."
Beginning in Braille
Franz first composed on a Braille writer, filling volumes with bulky brown pages on which perforations denoted words. In the editing stage, she read the first draft with her fingers and dictated into a tape recorder. She then replayed the tape and wrote a draft with a regular typewriter.
Finally, a friend corrected her typing errors and typed the final copy. The result is a 165-page softcover book that was published in September, 1985. Franz printed only 300 copies, which she has been selling on her own.
The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Lincoln has recorded the book as an audiocassette tape.
Franz said she knew she wouldn't make money on the book or win any literary fame. Childless, she wanted to record her story for nieces and nephews and anyone else who might be interested.
She wrote at the end of her book: "To prove to myself and others that blind people are still able to do things if they want to, I wrote these memoirs."
Born in New Mexico, raised in Arizona, Norm Gardner grew up as one of nine children, eight boys and a little sister. He and two brothers (Ron and Bruce) were affected by macular degeneration. They had limited vision from early childhood, and it diminished gradually as they grew older. Family and friends were uncertain about this eye condition, since playing ball seemed to present little problem but reading was nearly impossible. Were these kids avoiding homework, or could they really not see? Perhaps the former was more acceptable to parents. Norm and his brothers depended on other family members and friends to get studying done. Norm enjoyed books and learning, but at an early age reading for himself became more trouble than it was worth. Still, he graduated from high school valedictorian of his class. After one year of college he went to Mexico representing the Mormon Church on a mission. Upon his return he began his second year of college and came face to face with problems because of blindness.
He says, "I well remember the day I went to the library and mentioned my problem. The librarian gave me the incredible news there was a room where students who could not see could go to have materials read to them." Norm Gardner completed his bachelor's degree cum laude in Spanish in two and a half years at Brigham Young University. He was then employed for several years in business and continued studying for his Ph.D. in business administration, which he received from the University of Utah in 1974.
It was then that Dr. Gardner accepted a position as Professor of Finance at Boise State University in the School of Business, where he has continued to work ever since with increasing responsibilities. He does a variety of other work, such as leading study tours to Mexico and conducting business seminars for companies.
Norm met and married his wife, Maggie Matheson, during undergraduate school, and the Gardners now have six children. The oldest, Norm, is in Argentina on a mission for the Mormon Church. The second, Anne, is completing a two-year course of study at the LDS Business College in Salt Lake City. David is a sophomore in high school; John is in junior high; Edith (Dee) is eleven years old; and Emily is nine. All of the members of the Gardner family pitch in to help with the work of the National Federation of the Blind, and they are an asset to the organization.
Dr. Gardner first joined the Federation in 1974 and says that discovering the organization was one of the most meaningful events in his life. He says, "I was thirty-one years old with four children, a Ph.D., and a job. If anyone had told me I had not adjusted well to my handicap (I didn't regard myself as blind), I would have been offended. The truth is, however, that I had been playing blind man's bluff all my life. As I look back, I know that a large part of my waking hours were spent trying to avoid having my blindness discovered. I wanted to be 'normal.' I sometimes took material into the men's room to read it. I didn't want others to see that I had to hold it very close to my eyes. I discovered a system of memorizing large amounts of information, such as my class rolls of over one hundred students, in order to impress others and to convince myself that I could do things that I thought persons with my 'handicap' ought to be able to do.
"When I heard about a meeting of blind students on the campus of Boise State University, I thought I might be able to help them out. They needed a faculty advisor. I went and was delighted and surprised to find several intelligent and articulate blind individuals. I began to learn about the Federation. In the past when I had been treated unfairly, because of my blindness, it had seemed unreasonable to me. These students were saying that discrimination against the blind was unreasonable and (even better) 'We can change it.' I realized that the trail had been blazed. The NFB had helped me, even if I hadn't known what it was doing. It was high time I got into the traces and helped to pull."
Norm Gardner has worked very hard ever since. In 1975 (less than a year after his first contact with the Federation) Dr. Norman Gardner was elected President of the NFB of Idaho and has been re- elected to that position every two years since that time. Under his leadership the organization has become stronger and more knowledgeable about the work that is so important to the blind. From 1975 until 1984 he served ably on the Board of the Idaho Commission for the Blind. From 1979 until 1985 he served on the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind.
In spite of his very heavy load of work and other activities, Dr. Gardner insists that work must be high quality, and it is. In 1984 he was presented an award by the Governor of Idaho honoring him as one of the top ten faculty members of Boise State University. Students must agree. He is regarded as tough, fair, and an excellent instructor. NFB of Idaho members have expressed their opinion of his leadership by re-electing him to the top position in the state organization six times. It is members and leaders like this that make the Federation what it is.
by Kenneth Jernigan
Ever since the founding of the National Federation of the Blind in 1940, one of our prime objectives has been the education of the public. We have worked to remove legal, economic, and social barriers; and we have tried to increase our own understanding--but none of this can be of much use unless we can change the outlook of the average man and woman in the total society.
The NFB came into being forty-seven years ago. Since that time Federation leaders have made countless radio and television appearances (including our public service announcements), given speeches at lunches and dinners, issued a constant stream of pamphlets and articles, talked with everyone we could reach, and mailed and distributed millions of pieces of literature. What has been the result of all of this activity, this barrage of oral and written persuasion? The answer, of course, is mixed, but there are definite signs of emerging patterns.
Recently we received in the National Office an envelope from Van Nuys, California, addressed to Mr. Duane Hertenberger--only this, and nothing more. There was no indication as to who had sent it and no letter inside--just a page from a newspaper. Moreover, it was not clear where the newspaper was located. As I have said, the envelope came from Van Nuys, but internal evidence suggests that the newspaper may be printed in Long Beach.
The column which was meant for our attention appears to be the general Ann Landers type, but the resemblance ends with that generality. If the columnist is not one of our members or intimately acquainted with one of us, she is either extremely intelligent and perceptive or she has learned a great deal from our sustained educational programs. Whichever it is, we win. Even if she is one of us or closely associated with us, she shows an understanding of blindness which would have been hard to find in a newspaper article twenty years ago--or, for that matter, ten years ago. In former times the columnist would not have known about it or felt comfortable in writing it; the editor would not have printed it; and the public would not have believed it.
Whoever the sender may have been, wherever the newspaper may be located, and whatever the identity and background of the columnist, I for one found the article a delight and a proof of the success of our efforts. Yes, I know that there are things which she said that I would have changed (the item about the clock, for instance), but this is quibbling. The overall thrust is straight to the point and right on target--just about as good as you could possibly want. Judge for yourself--and when next you despair of humanity or meet intolerable custodialism, remember this column and take heart. We are making progress. We are winning the battle for first-class status in society:
Tuesday, January 27, 1987
How The Blind Wish to be Treated Living With A Disability
Diane B. Piastro
Q: I hope you can help me with this dilemma. There's a man who happens to be blind and I want to get to know him better. I'd like to ask him out to dinner, but before I do, is there anything I should know regarding proper etiquette?
A: The best general advice I can give you is to behave exactly as you would with any other man, but do ask questions if you are unsure of anything instead of just assuming he needs assistance because he is blind. Also, be up front about never having gone out with someone who is blind before.
Through getting to know your friend better, you will learn a lot. For instance, you will realize that a blind person has skills equal to your own. You may also have to learn to deal with the fact that others who are sighted may react to your friend as if he were unintelligent, dependent, unproductive, or useless. But the adventure of getting to know someone who is different on a more than superficial level will be very rewarding.
Something to think about is today's less rigid male and female roles. It's okay for a woman to give assistance, but you will want to discuss how he feels about it. There are some thoughtful courtesies you can be aware of when dining out. Ask him if he would like you to place his hand on the back or the armrest of his chair when being seated, so he can seat himself more easily. Suggest that you would be happy to read the menu aloud, including the prices. Ask if he would like you to use the clock method to tell him the position of condiments on the table and food on his plate.
The National Federation of the Blind also points out the following general suggestions that blind people have for sighted people:
-- I'm an ordinary person. You don't need to raise your voice or address me as if I were a child. Don't ask someone I'm with what I want--ask me.
-- If I am walking with you, don't grab my arm. Let me take yours. I'll keep a half step behind to anticipate curbs and steps.
-- I want to know who's in the room with me. Speak when you enter and introduce me to others, including children. Tell me if there's a dog or cat. Guide my hand to a chair.
-- Tell me when you leave the room, even if it's just for a short time, so I won't continue talking to you.
-- The door to a room, cabinet, or car left partially open is a hazard to me.
-- At dinner I will not have trouble with ordinary table skills.
-- Don't avoid words like "see" and "look." I use them, too.
-- I don't want pity, but don't talk about the "wonderful compensations" of blindness. My sense of smell, touch, and hearing did not improve when I became blind. I rely on them more and may get more information through them than you do, but that's all.
-- If I'm your houseguest, show me where the bathroom, closet, dresser, window, and light switch are. I also like to know whether the lights are on or off.
-- I'll discuss blindness with you if you're curious, but it's an old story to me. I have many other interests.
-- Don't think of me only as a blind person. I'm just a person who happens to be blind.
Send your questions to Dianne Piastro, Fitness, Press-Telegram, 604 Pine Avenue, Long Beach, California 90844. For a personal reply, enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
For the past three years the National Federation of the Blind (through its Parents Division and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille) has conducted the "Braille Readers are Leaders " contest on a nationwide basis. The contest has stimulated blind children to become proficient in the use of Braille. It has also been the vehicle for a considerable amount of positive publicity about blindness and the organized blind movement.
A typical example occurred this spring in Portsmouth, Virginia, spearheaded by Federationists Stewart and Debbie Prost. The March 16, 1987, Virginian Pilot/ Ledger Star carried an article entitled "Braille Whiz: Blind Boy, 10, Seeks Reading Record." The accompanying story told of the activities of Dominique Artis, who read 7,054 Braille pages during the three-month period December 1, 1986, through February 28, 1987. There were quotes from Dominique's teacher, Deborah Prost, and a description of the method of reading and writing Braille.
On April 24, 1987, the following article appeared in the same newspaper:
Blind Reading Champion, 10, Likes the Feel of Words
by Robin Scott
PORTSMOUTH - Dominique Artis, a blind 10-year-old from Portsmouth who likes the feel of words under his fingers, is the 1987 national champion Braille reader in his age group, the National Federation of the Blind announced Thursday.
In a contest to see which blind or partially sighted students could read the most, Dominique ran away with the title in the second- through fourth-grade division, a Federation official said.
He read 7,054 pages during a three-month period ending February 28. That was far more than his closest competition in a field of more than 50 finalists, said Betty J. Niceley, President of the Federation division that promotes reading of Braille.
That equals about 5,000 pages of regular print, or five novels the length of the Civil War epic "Gone With the Wind."
The Federation started the contest three years ago, Niceley said, because blind people who can read and write Braille have a better chance of getting into professional careers.
Dominique is a fourth-grader at Portsmouth's James Hurst Elementary School. Most of the blind children in the city's public schools attend regular classes at Hurst, where specialists in teaching the blind are also available.
Dominique moves about the school on his own, using a cane. He uses the same texts as other students, only in Braille. He can write Braille by hand, using a stylus to punch holes in paper. He has a Braille typewriter and is also a touch typist on regular typewriters.
He lives in Portsmouth's West Park View section with his mother, Emily L. Artis, a brother, and a sister.
For winning the reading contest, Dominique will get $50, a "Braille Readers Are Leaders" T-shirt, a certificate, and a ribbon.
In an interview, Dominique said he was excited to win the contest and intends to keep reading as much as he can.
"I don't have any more books," he said. "I've read them all."
Deborah Prost, a blind teacher who works with Dominique at Hurst, said getting enough Braille books to keep up with Dominique's reading speed has been a problem.
But Dominique did not seem overly concerned about his book supply on Friday. He was more interested in quizzing the reporter about newspaper computer systems and printing presses.
by Robert Fulghum
(Comment from the Editor: I wish I had written this article--but I didn't. I even wish that I had dug it out of some obscure book--but I didn't do that either. I just read it and liked it and thought you would like it, too. It appeared in the Spring, 1987, Minnesota Bulletin, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota--which, incidentally, was a whopping good issue, one of the best.)
Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at the nursery school.
These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup--they all die. So do we.
And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and sane living.
Think of what a better world it would be if we all--the whole world--had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and cleaned up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
by Kenneth Jernigan
Before I came to Maryland in 1978, I had never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Richard Welsh, the Superintendent of the Maryland School for the Blind. That deficiency in my social experience has now been remedied. On more than one occasion during the past nine years Dr. Welsh and I have occupied the same platform, sat in the same room at meetings, and shared with one another such wisdom as each of us possessed.
Last fall at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland Dr. Welsh was a speaker. He did not come willingly or with good temper but only after a number of contacts had been made with members of his board to suggest that it was inappropriate for the superintendent of the state School for the Blind to refuse to attend. After all, the NFB of Maryland is the largest organization of blind people in the state, and the School has (or should have) a certain degree of accountability.
Dr. Welsh's segment of the agenda was not characterized by placidity. In fact, one might call it tempestuous. He said, among other things, that it might be a bad thing for a growing child to try to learn both print and Braille since it might slow both processes. I got the impression that he was saying that a child had a certain amount of reading capacity and that if you split it between print and Braille, you would probably come out with around fifty percent efficiency in each. It was certainly a novel theory, but novelty was about all that it had to recommend it.
When some of us pointed out to him that children sometimes learn two languages simultaneously and seem to have increased proficiency in each because of the experience of having learned the other, he only answered with emotion instead of logic. He seemed to feel that Braille was vastly inferior to print and that a child should, if possible, read print at all costs, even if Braille would be faster and more efficient. I got the definite impression that Dr. Welsh felt that print was "normal" and that Braille was subnormal.
He said that if a family really felt that their child should learn Braille, that this should be taken into consideration, but it was made very clear that the School would discourage it. He also made a great point of the fact that all children are different and that they should not be treated alike or fitted into a rigid mold. It sounds good, but what does it mean? To Dr. Welsh it meant that blind children should not be (as he put it) pressured or forced to learn Braille. We asked him whether sighted children should be put into a rigid mold and forced to learn print. He thought this was different. It is "normal" to read print.
In the circumstances it is not surprising that Dr. Welsh did not believe that teachers of blind children (even those who teach reading) should be required to have proficiency in Braille. We asked him whether a teacher of French should be required to know French. He thought this was not relevant. We asked him whether a teacher of math should be required to know math. He didn't think that was relevant either. Certain legislators who were present thought it was extremely relevant. Dr. Welsh was not happy. Federationists are trouble makers. They are militant, too.
Not surprisingly, a bill was introduced into the Maryland legislature early this year to require that Braille be made available to every blind and severely visually impaired child in the state. Also not surprisingly, the special education teachers and Dr. Welsh (some of the very people who certainly should and often don't know Braille) came out in force to oppose the bill. Dr. Welsh's performance was not only in poor taste but also possibly even worse than that. He brought small children and their parents to the legislature to talk about how terrible it would be if they were forced into the rigid mold. It was enough to make one cry, and a number of people did--some for one reason, and some for another. Temporarily Dr. Welsh got his way. For another year blind children in Maryland will not be "forced" to learn to read. They will avoid the evils of literacy. But the battle is only beginning.
Under date of April 15, 1987, a letter from Mary Ellen Reihing, President of the Baltimore Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, appeared in the Baltimore SUN:
Editor: A whole generation of blind children in Maryland is in grave danger of becoming functionally illiterate. Special education teachers certified to teach blind children, both at the School for the Blind and in public school programs, are discouraging their students from learning Braille. Of the 120 children in academic programs at the Maryland School for the Blind, the school reports that only 33 are learning Braille.
Why? Poor teacher training programs account for part of the problem. It is possible to become certified to teach blind students in Maryland without being able to read Braille fluently.
Volunteer Braille transcribers, who often do not have college degrees and are not accorded "professional" status, must demonstrate a knowledge of Braille to be certified which is greater than that required of a teacher of the visually impaired seeking a master's degree.
The root of the literacy crisis for blind children goes beyond the poor quality of teacher preparation. At its heart is the notion that the techniques used by blind people are inferior to those used by the sighted. It is "normal" to read print. It is "abnormal" to read Braille. Therefore, a blind child with residual vision, no matter how poor that vision may be, is taught to read print even when Braille would be more efficient.
Joe can see well out of the corner of his eye, but he can't focus on any detail work. He can't read the banner headlines in a newspaper. If he uses a closed circuit television system, he can read print so enlarged that four or five letters will fit on a twelve-inch television screen. Since he has not learned Braille, he has no way to read any of the notes he has written until he can return home to use his closed circuit television.
Jane was born with cataracts which were removed when she was a baby. She also had a condition that caused her eyes to jump uncontrollably. Focusing caused her pain, but she could read regular print very effectively--for about ten minutes. If she tried to read longer, tears rolled down her face, and she was unable to focus on anything at all for several hours. Her teachers told her she was being lazy when she said that she couldn't read any more. As she got older, and reading demands increased, she fell farther and farther behind. Jane became convinced that she was stupid and dropped out of high school. Jane has come to understand that her reading problems are visual, not mental. Even so her attitudes about reading are fixed. Though she could read books that have been recorded on tape, she structured her life to avoid books in any form.
Lynn read large print when she was a child. She had friends who were totally blind, and she wanted to learn Braille so she could write letters to them, but her teachers refused to help her learn it. In fact, they punished her for trying to read Braille because she wasn't "blind." Shortly after she graduated from high school, Lynn lost the rest of her vision. She had to quit her job as a secretary to learn Braille. Fortunately for Lynn, she was able to find another secretarial job after her training. If she had known Braille from the beginning, she would not have had to interrupt her career.
Expense has been given as a reason for denying literacy to blind children. No one is suggesting that regular classroom teachers become proficient in Braille. The only teachers who would be involved are the special education instructors who are already supposed to be fluent in Braille. The Library of Congress offers a free course to anyone who wants to learn Braille transcription. Those who talk about expense should think about the life-long cost of illiteracy and noncompetitive functioning for blind people.
Administrators say that many blind students at the Maryland School for the Blind see too well to need Braille. One is left to wonder what such students are doing in a specialized program for blind children if they really do not need any of the techniques of blindness. Perhaps the real problem is that those charged with the responsibility of teaching our blind children really do not believe that blindness is respectable.--Mary Ellen Reihing, Baltimore.
Under date of April 25, 1987, Dr. Welsh replied. He said that it was perfectly proper for blind children in Maryland not to know Braille since blind children in the rest of the country don't know it either. If only fifteen percent of the blind youngsters in the country can read Braille, Maryland's thirteen percent is only two percentage points worse. In other words illiteracy is all right if you can just prove that other people are almost as uneducated as you are. One has to wonder if Dr. Welsh really understands the implications of what he is saying.
He went on to say that some ninety-five percent of the students at his school had other handicaps besides blindness, from which one was presumably meant to reason that it is all right to push a multiply handicapped child toward reading print but not all right to push him or her toward reading Braille. Besides, the argument about multiple handicaps is always trotted out by anybody and everybody with a weak case--the sheltered workshops, which don't want to pay decent wages; the airlines, which don't want to let blind persons sit in exit rows; the schools, which don't want to teach Braille.
Next Dr. Welsh said that current state and federal laws require that the program for a handicapped child's education must be based on an assessment of that particular child's individual needs and abilities. He jumped from this to the conclusion that blind children need not be taught Braille. He then threw in a few words about his rigid mold and topped it off with some comments about how bad it was that the schools of twenty years ago taught visually impaired students under blindfold. Twenty years ago is always bad. Blindfolds are bad. By implication, Braille is bad.
In the rest of his letter Dr. Welsh talks about the damage which was done to the blind children of a generation ago who were forced to learn Braille. I know a great many of those people, and my observation contradicts Dr. Welsh's theories. I believe the people to whom he refers were neither educationally nor psychologically damaged by being taught Braille. Toward the end of his letter Dr. Welsh says: "Respect for blind people begins with the recognition that each blind person is an individual, and each should be treated as such."
"Bravo!" one cries. But what does this have to do with learning to read? I favor the flag and the Bill of Rights. Does this mean that sighted children should not be taught to read print? I have always thought that freedom and literacy went hand in hand, that liberty and education were almost synonymous. Apparently Dr. Welsh thinks otherwise. But let him speak for himself. Here is his letter:
Braille Isn't For All Sight-Impaired Kids
Editor: On April 15 you published a letter from Mary Ellen Reihing, President of the local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, which pointed out that most visually impaired students in Maryland do not use Braille. The writer concluded that the reasons for this are that teachers are poorly trained, that it is too expensive to teach Braille and that administrators do not believe that blindness is "respectable"; therefore, the techniques used by blind people are considered to be inferior, and are not taught.
The 1986 report of the American Printing House for the Blind indicates that only fifteen percent of all visually impaired children in the United States use Braille. This is very close to the thirteen percent of the students at the Maryland School for the Blind who use Braille. But the reasons for these facts are very different than those suggested by Ms. Reihing.
First, ninety-five percent of the children who attend the Maryland School for the Blind have additional handicaps to their visual impairment. Forty percent have severe and profound developmental disabilities which make them incapable of reading, regardless of the medium they are using. Many have orthopedic or neurological impairments which make it impossible to read Braille. Most have some degree of usable vision which they can use efficiently to read print.
We have many teachers who are proficient in reading and teaching Braille, and we capably provide this instruction when it is needed. We also teach other special techniques and adaptations which are used by blind people, not only for academic learning but also for independent mobility, vocational training, daily living skills and leisure activities.
Current state and federal laws require the educational program provided each handicapped child to be based on an assessment of that child's needs and abilities and to be approved by the child's parents. This is an improvement over past educational practices, which were influenced by general theories about what was best for all children in a particular category, regardless of the needs of the individual child. Fortunately, most schools do not operate that way anymore.
Thirty years ago, it was the general belief that all visually impaired children should learn Braille, whether they needed it or not. Children who had enough vision to learn to read print were blindfolded and forced to read Braille with their fingers.
The vast majority of these children never used Braille again in any functional way, and many had to teach themselves how to read print after they left school. It is the position of the Maryland School for the Blind and most educators that, in general, if a child has the cognitive ability required for reading and is able to recognize print symbols, then strong consideration is given to print as the reading medium for that child. Print is the more common communication system used in the community, and more information is available in print than in any other medium.
If a child is unable to use print as an efficient reading medium then Braille, along with auditory and/or multiple media, is considered as a possible reading and learning mode. In some cases, a child whose primary medium is either print or Braille may also be taught to read in one or more of the other media, when that child's visual prognosis or personal interest suggests that learning to read in multiple media may be of value. This is particularly true when the child is clearly going to lose all useful vision.
During each of the last two legislative sessions, the National Federation of the Blind has requested that legislation be introduced which would change state law to reflect their philosophy on the use of Braille. Both times, the responses of visually impaired students and their parents, blind adults and educators who are trained in this specialty have led to the defeat of this proposed legislation.
We cannot return to the practice of treating all people in a given category as if they are the same. We do not educate children without handicaps in this matter, and we should not allow it for handicapped children. Respect for blind people begins with the recognition that each blind person is an individual, and each should be treated as such.-- Richard L. Welsh, Baltimore.
As one reads Dr. Welsh's letter, various emotions compete for ascendancy. Perhaps the only appropriate response is a piece of doggeral:
A kiss is dry without a squeeze;
So is a rarebit without some cheese.
by Betty Pacelli
(Betty Pacelli is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut.)
Here I sit at a great big desk
Waiting for the phone to ring.
I bought a new blouse and skirt for this job.
I'm ready to go--don't need a thing.
How long has it been, God only knows,
Since I have been employed.
When I got the word they
I was positively overjoyed.
I've raised five kids--no
time for a job
And not much time for me.
Couldn't work anyway, I'm blind you know.
Then I joined the NFB.
Now here I am at an oil company,
Four days a week, eight to five.
"I've run out of
oil," "Come fix my furnace,"
Is how this place survives.
These men hustle from
morning 'til night
With propane, kerosene, and fuel oil,
Tanks, tubing, filters, nozzles, and valves
And speedy dry for Oily's oil.
Each day I learn a little bit more
About my job and the people here.
I'm glad to be out in the working world again,
A Federationist going in full gear.
by Kenneth Jernigan
For several years Mohymen Saddeek (the President of Boston Information and Technology, better known as BIT) has been coming to National Federation of the Blind conventions. Mr. Saddeek sells a useful product (the BIT Talkman cassette player and recorder), but he is not overly aggressive. That is another way of saying that, although he has attended our conventions, I had never talked with him. One day this spring I changed all of that by a long-distance telephone call.
Mr. Saddeek told me a number of interesting things. He said that BIT was first established by some of his university students, who were interested in seeing if they could develop and market an improved type of small car. He said they were engineering students and that they were quite good at developing the car, but not so good in working harmoniously with each other and handling the business end of things. They asked him if he would buy controlling interest in the company and try to make a success of it. He agreed, and the result is Boston Information and Technology (BIT).
Mr. Saddeek said that he had been president of the company since 1983 and that he was concentrating on products of interest to the blind. He told me that he was now working on a money identifier, which he thought he could sell for less than $200 and would have ready for market before the end of 1987. He is also working on a hand-held magnifying camera, which (if successful) will help people with low vision in magnifying printed matter and putting it onto a screen. Mr. Saddeek said that he hopes he can have the camera ready for market in a few months at a price somewhere in the neighborhood of $400. He is also developing ideas for other products for the blind in the high tech field.
For several years I had heard of the BIT Talkman cassette recorder and player, but I had never used one until a few months back when I went on a long train ride and wanted to listen to cassettes but didn't want to carry a lot of bulky equipment. Some people say that I take a perverse delight in being computer illiterate and very nearly as uninformed about other recent advances in technology. Whether this is true or not, I found the BIT Talkman a pleasure to work with, and only moderately complex.
Mr. Saddeek has now begun marketing the BIT Talkman II. I asked him to tell me about it, and he sent me the following material:
The BIT Talkman II
Boston Information and Technology, better known as BIT Corporation, has been committed to serving blind and partially sighted people since 1983. As the developer of the first compact, portable cassette player for Talking Books, BIT is a leader in distributing useful and innovative electronic products.
The company's goal is to provide quality merchandise at prices within reach of the consumer.
The Talkman II, BIT's most recent model, incorporates the best of the Talkman I while introducing several new features Talkman I users requested. Among the new features are:
-- an AM/FM radio with built-in antenna for excellent reception;
-- an auto-reverse feature allowing continuous play of tapes on either two tracks or four tracks without the inconvenience of removing and turning them over.
The Talkman II also has the many convenient and quality features known to those who own the original Talkman:
-- The high quality Panasonic earphones included with the unit allow the listener to enjoy both the FM radio and standard 1-7/8 speed tapes in stereo.
-- The user may play both regular two-track tapes and Library of Congress format four-track tapes on the Talkman II. A variable speed function permits flexibility in the playback of four-track, 15/16 ips recordings.
-- A built-in condenser microphone allows monaural recording at two speeds.
-- The user may purchase an external stereo microphone and record in stereo on two tracks.
-- The Talkman II can record on two tracks at the standard 1-7/8 speed or on three tracks at the Library of Congress 15/16 speed.
-- The user may record radio broadcasts directly from the unit's own radio.
You may operate the Talkman II on household current using the AC adapter which comes with the unit, or you may use two AA batteries, which are not included.
BIT offers several economical and useful accessories for the Talkman II:
-- A rechargeable battery kit with two nickel-cadmium batteries is economical for people who frequently use battery power.
-- Micro speakers are small, portable speakers on a Y patch cord which plugs directly into the earphone jack in the Talkman II. They are useful for a single individual or two persons who want to listen to tapes in a quiet environment without having to use headphones.
-- Stereo speakers, larger but still portable, play music quality tapes. They require battery or AC adapter power.
BIT offers all accessories as well as its other talking products in a catalog available free of charge. Although presently in printed format only, Braille and audio cassette versions will soon be available. BIT invites you to request a copy in the format you prefer. Contact BIT at: 143 Albany Street, P. O. Box 70, MIT Branch, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139; (617) 661-9555.
Office of the Governor State of Oregon
WHEREAS, it is imperative that Oregon utilize to the fullest abilities and talents of all its citizens; and
WHEREAS, through its program of education, civil rights, scholarships, and other assistance to blind Oregonians, the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon has worked ceaselessly to change public attitudes about blindness, so that blind men and women can participate fully in society on the basis of equality with their sighted peers; and
WHEREAS, it is recognized that our blind citizens comprise an important resource and talent, and we wish to assist them in their efforts to encourage employers and others to utilize their abilities; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon will be holding its annual convention the weekend of March 27 through 29, 1987, in Salem, Oregon.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Neil Goldschmidt, Governor of the State of Oregon, hereby proclaim the week of March 28 through April 4, 1987, as
National Federation of the Blind Week
in Oregon in recognition of the efforts of this state-wide organization of blind people, who, together with their sighted peers, are truly changing what it means to be blind.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I hereunto set my hand and cause the Great Seal of the State of Oregon to be affixed. Done at the Capitol in the City of Salem and the State of Oregon, on this day, March 26, in the Year of Our Lord, One Thousand Nine Hundred Eighty-Seven.
State of Tennessee By the Governor
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind was founded in 1940; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is the largest organization working for the good of blind persons; and
WHEREAS, the Federation's primary goal is to insure that all blind persons achieve first-class status as American citizens; and
WHEREAS, the Federation works to find suitable job opportunities and to help overcome the myths about blind persons; and
WHEREAS, the Federation has as daily goals education, legislation, and litigation when needed for blind persons; and
WHEREAS, the Tennessee affiliate of the Federation is meeting in its annual meeting on Saturday, March 14, 1987, in Chattanooga, Tennessee;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ned McWherter, as Governor of the State of Tennessee, do hereby proclaim March, 1987, as
National Federation of the Blind Month
in Tennessee, and do urge all our citizens to join me in this worthy observance.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Tennessee to be affixed at Nashville on this 12th day of March, 1987.
This month we are featuring dishes from Alaska. In response to our request we received a veritable avalanche of suggested recipes from the members of the state affiliate. Some of these unusual delectable treats were offered by Kay Porth (NFB of Alaska President), some by Sharon Omvig, some by Gwen Canham, one by Charles Evans, and some by other members. We could not use them all, but here is a representative sample.
5 pounds sugar
2-1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon alum
48 clover blossoms
18 fireweed blossoms
1/2 cup white Karo
Combine sugar, water, and alum, boil ten minutes. Add clover blossoms, fireweed blossoms, Karo. Let stand five minutes. Strain through fine sieve and bottle.
3-1/2 cups warm water
9 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons salt
9 tablespoons shortening
1 package yeast
Stir and let stand ten minutes. After yeast is bubbly add flour. Keep adding flour until it forms dough. Let rise two hours. Fry in two to three inches of grease. Optional: One-half cup of raisins.
1/2 pound apricots
1 cup grated pineapple
2 cups sugar
Grind and cook apricots. Then, mix cooked apricots, grated pineapple, and sugar and cook until this mixture gels. Put into jars.
LOTUS CREAM ICE CREAM
2 cups cream, 1-1/2 cups
milk (or 3-1/2 cups evaporated milk works great)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 lemon, grate peel and squeeze juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Mix all ingredients except egg. When well blended, beat egg with one-quarter of the total mixture and then add to the remaining mix. Blend well. Add to ice cream maker and crank until firm. Let sit (or freeze) for about fifteen minutes, then eat and enjoy.
SNOW ICE CREAM
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 bowl clean snow
Beat egg into milk, add sugar and vanilla; combine all and beat. Run outside and get clean snow in a bowl and pour mixture over snow and eat. Vanilla and sugar may be increased or decreased to taste.
SWEET AND SOUR CARIBOU ROAST
3- to 4-pound caribou roast
2 tablespoons shortening
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons catsup
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Melt shortening in heavy pot. Brown meat on all sides. Add onion, bay leaf, salt, and 3/4 cup water. Cover and simmer one hour. Mix together brown sugar, vinegar, catsup, raisins; and add to caribou. Cover and continue simmering one and a half hours until meat is tender. Remove roast and make gravy.
To make gravy, skim off excess fat from broth. Gradually combine one cup cold water with cornstarch. Mix until smooth. Add to broth and stir until gravy is clear and thickened.
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 (1/2 pound salmon) steak, approximately 3/4 inch thick
1/8 teaspoon sweet basil
1/8 teaspoon (or less) dill weed dusting of pepper (to taste)
1/2 bay leaf (left whole if you like strong flavor; crushed for guests)
1/4 cup or less mild cheddar cheese lemon slice for garnish
Melt sour cream and butter in tiny saucepan, being careful not to boil. Make depressions in raw salmon steak and puddle sauce on top after placing steak in baking dish. Use all sauce. Sprinkle the basil, dill, and pepper on the steak, then add bay leaf. Grate just enough cheddar cheese on the salmon so that when it melts there is a network of cheese, salmon, sauce, and spice on top--not solid cheese.
Bake covered in 400-degree oven for ten minutes, then uncover for remaining five minutes of cooking time. Actual time will depend on doneness of fish.
Serves one. Serve with tartar sauce of mayonnaise and green relish. (If you use red, it looks like thousand island dressing.) Garnish with slice of lemon. But if your guest uses the lemon on the fish, throw a tantrum!
**Stock for Sale:
Ray and Beth Graber, Federationists from Kansas, write:
"We have 24 shares of Aids Unlimited stock for sale at $600. Please contact Raymond Graber at 1603 Quail Ridge, Hutchinson, Kansas 67501; (316) 665-5463."
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"If an Optacon, VersaBraille, TeleBraille, speech synthesizer, or Braille output device will help you get a job, keep up in the classroom, increase your effectiveness as a volunteer in your community, improve your present work situation, reduce your need for sighted assistance in managing you personal affairs, and/or otherwise make a significant difference in your life, you may qualify for a partial subsidy through the Electronic Aids program at Associated Services for the Blind.
"Limited funding is available to assist serious, aspiring, visually impaired users in the purchase of helpful high-tech. To receive a large print or Braille application to the program, call or write: Electronic Aids Program, Associated Services for the Blind, 919 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107; (215) 627-0600."
**Jaycee of the Month:
Many Federationists throughout the country know the name of Charles Biebl of Maryland. He has been tireless in his efforts to place our public service announcements on radio and television and to line up radio and television appearances for the Federation, not only in Maryland but in other parts of the country as well. Mr. Biebl is active in the civic and community life of Baltimore. In token of this, he was recently voted Jaycee of the Month by the Towson, Maryland, Chapter, of which he is a member.
**Tennessee Convention and Organizing:
The 18th annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee was held at the Howard Johnson Executive Inn March 13-15, 1987, in Chattanooga. Prior to the convention Joyce Scanlan and Nadine Jacobson of Minnesota did organizing and membership recruitment in the state.
President Maurer was present at the convention, which was well attended. Mattie Seay, Hazel Moore, and Hank LaBonne were elected to positions on the state board.
Connie Ryan, Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona, writes:
"Today, Saturday, April 4, 1987, the National Federation of the Blind of Phoenix held their annual election of officers. Elected were the following: Art Dinges, President; Terri Ewers, First Vice President; Tom Johnson, Second Vice President; Connie Sheila Ryan, Secretary; and Harlene Stone, Treasurer. We also elected two board members, who were Fred Rockwell and Cary Taylor."
Bert Stone, Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona, died on March 17, 1987. Bert and his wife Harlene had attended a seminar at the National Center for the Blind, where they endeared themselves to all who were present; and the Stones have consistently provided stability and energetic leadership in the NFB of Arizona. Bert Stone was a man of character, who will be greatly missed.
**Cooperative Library Project:
Susan Povinelli, Second Vice President of the Potomac Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia, writes:
"The Potomac Chapter, National Federation of the Blind, has created a volunteer group of NFB members and other concerned blind patrons to assist in resolving inadequate library services.
Three nights a week volunteers check records, machines, and cassettes for defects, clean records, rewind cassettes, and make sure that all records and tapes are in their proper cases. Although it has only been a few months, library services have improved. We plan to Braille patrons' files so that we can send them their requested books. The project has been so successful that we have been asked to prepare and publish a library newsletter. We hope through our efforts a blind individual will become a paid employee of the library."
A radio document called "Narrated by Alexander Scourby" has been produced in recorded form by the American Foundation for the Blind. The tribute is told largely in Scourby's own words tracing his career from the early thirties and including accounts from friends, colleagues, and fans. Alexander Scourby was probably one of the greatest assets the AFB ever had. He was loved and respected by the blind of the entire nation.
The following item appeared in the December, 1986, issue of the Pacesetter:
Newly passed amendments (PL 99-457) to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act will require all handicapped children ages 3-5 to receive special education services by 1990 if the states in which they reside are to continue receiving any of the funds available for preschool programs. (The new mandate is known as Section 619, the Preschool Grant Program.)
Additionally, the legislation authorizes new program funding for providing services to handicapped children from birth through age two (Part H--Handicapped Infants and Toddlers Program).
The newly authorized programs were matched by additional funding in the appropriations measure which approved spending for special education programs in fiscal year 1987 (FY87 began in October of 1986; education spending approved for that fiscal year actually reaches schools in school year 1987-88.) The appropriation, which increased federal special education spending by $400 million over FY86, provided for an additional $150 million for Section 619, the Preschool Grant Program, and a new category of $50 million for Part H, the initiative for states to serve handicapped children from birth through age two.
For the past three years the National Federation of the Blind Braille Reading Contest has been the means of stimulating blind children to become interested in Braille and proficient in its use. Parents and children alike have responded with enthusiasm. One parent said:
"This is the first year my son has entered your contest, and it's the first year he's really reading his own Braille books! He's excited about the 'contest,' and I'm delighted to see him motivated. (Reading Braille has been a real trial for him.) I'm so glad you have something like this."
The contest is sponsored by the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille, which is a division of the Federation.
Helen Scherzer, the surviving niece of Harry Fribush, writes to tell us of the death on March 28, 1987, of Harry Fribush of Albany, New York. Mr. Fribush, who was eighty-six years old, was both deaf and blind. For many years he sold Braille greeting cards. The Braille Monitor carried his announcements on many occasions.
The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, Inc. publishes a newsletter called "MVLS Update." The March, 1987, issue of this newsletter carried the following announcement:
**Law and the Blind Addressed:
Is a blind person entitled to any governmental aid? What are the rights of the blind in housing and employment? What special rules protect a blind person who applies for Social Security Disability Insurance?
These and other questions are answered daily by the National Federation of the Blind, a 50,000-member organization, based in Baltimore. NFB President and MVLS member Marc Maurer urges attorneys to contact them with questions. For more information call Mr. Gashel at 659- 9314.
**Superintendent for Iowa School Appointed:
On June 15, 1987, W. Dennis Thurman (Administrative Coordinator for the Blind and Vocational School at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind) became Superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School. He was hired at a salary of $53,500 per year. In addition, he will receive (unless circumstances have changed) housing and certain other fringe benefits. Thurman, 44, replaces Richard DeMott, who was fired from the Iowa school last November.
**Facts About Diabetes:
The following facts are taken from a publication of the American Diabetes Association:
Today more than 11 million people in the United States have diabetes. Almost half of them don't know they have this chronic disease, and every year 500,000 more Americans are diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into the energy needed for daily life. It often leads to serious complications that involve nearly every tissue of the body. When high levels of sugar build in the blood, heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and leg and foot amputations from gangrene occur.
There is no cure for diabetes. But research has made exciting progress in the treatment of people with the disease. Self blood glucose monitoring, pancreas and islet cell transplants, oral medications, laser therapy to prevent diabetes-caused blindness, and new insight into the dietary needs of people with diabetes are just some of the recent advances that are helping many live healthier, longer lives.
About 1 million people have insulin-dependent diabetes, the most severe form of diabetes, which usually hits people when they are young children or adolescents. In order to stay alive, people with insulin-dependent diabetes must take daily injections of insulin. Although it controls the disease, insulin dos not cure diabetes.
The tendency for the disease can be present at birth, especially if there is a history of diabetes in a person's family. No one knows what eventually triggers the onset of the disease, though viral infections, such as the flu, are suspect. The warning signs of insulin-dependent diabetes include: frequent urination accompanied by unusual thirst; extreme hunger, rapid weight loss with easy tiring, weakness, and fatigue; irritability, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms occur suddenly. If they do, see a doctor immediately.
The majority of people with diabetes have non-insulin-dependent diabetes, which usually develops in people over the age of 40 who are overweight. A history of diabetes in one's family increases one's risk of developing the disease. Proper diet and exercise are essential to controlling non-insulin-dependent diabetes although oral medication or insulin also may need to be taken.
The onset of this type of diabetes is often gradual and undramatic. Many Americans first become aware they have the disease after they develop one of its life-threatening complications (i.e. heart disease, kidney disease, or eye problems).
The warning signs of non-insulin- dependent diabetes may include any of the symptoms mentioned before or the following: blurred vision or any change in sight; tingling or numbness in legs, feet, or fingers; frequent skin infections or itchy skin; slow healing of cuts and bruises; drowsiness.
Each year about 300,000 people die as a result of diabetes and its complications.
Each year 5,000 people lose their sight because of diabetes. Diabetic eye disease is the number one cause of new blindness in people between the ages of twenty and seventy-four. Ten percent of all people with diabetes develop some kind of kidney disease.
People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease and two to six times more likely to have a stroke than people who do not have diabetes.
Direct and indirect costs for diabetes run to $14 billion annually and account for 3.6 percent of total U.S. health care costs.
We are informed that the following people have been elected to serve as officers of the Chattanooga Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee: Hank LaBonne, President; June Grant, First Vice President; Reverend Morris Johnson, Second Vice President; Carolyn Owensby, Secretary; George Grant, Treasurer; and Board Members: Helen Geren, Glen Ledford, Bill Woodward, and Terry Taylor.
**Keeping the Record Straight:
In the March, 1987, Monitor we carried an article about Playboy magazine, saying that the 1986 issues would be available to the blind. Boyd Wolfe, Chairman of the NFB Committee on the Deaf-Blind, writes to say:
"I spoke to someone today from the NLS regarding the availability of the 1986 Playboy issues, and she told me that they would be made available in recorded form on cassette; so you see those of us who either cannot use recorded tapes or who do not wish to do so are being deprived. Please correct this in a forthcoming Monitor to keep the record straight and so as not to cause confusion."
**Blind Tuners International Parley:
Stanley Oliver of Detroit writes:
"During July 20 to 24, 1987, the Piano Technicians Guild will hold its annual convention at Constellation Hotel, Toronto, Canada. Nearly a hundred of the over 4,000-member International Professional Society are blind tuners and technicians. William Vaise, Music Consultant to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, will speak on the future for blind tuners. The convention will feature nearly forty technical institutes, four of which will deal with tuners' concerns. Expected are numerous successful tuners from across Canada and the United States. Emil Fries, founder of the Vancouver, Washington, Piano Hospital and Training Center, will discuss his recent conference with faculty and students of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, London."
Everett Wood, Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia, writes:
"I am sending you a list of the officers and members of the newly formed chapter of the Parents of Blind Children. This chapter was organized on April 9, 1987, at the regular monthly meeting of the Southwest Georgia Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind: President, Eddie Lopez; Vice President, Joann Harper; Secretary, Vera Jackson; Treasurer, Joann King; and Board Members: Catherine Howell, Max Parker, Debra Lopez, and James Scott.
**Talking Cash Register:
Recently the following press release was issued:
Mr. John Hjelm, President of R.C. Allen Co., Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, one of the country's leading manufacturers of cash registers, has announced that effective May 1, 1987, Aids Unlimited, Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland, a major marketer of products for persons with disabilities, has been appointed as exclusive national marketing agent for the new R.C. Allen Model 204T Talking Cash Register.
This unique talking cash register, developed by R. C. Allen Co., has wide application in thousands of businesses across the country operated by blind and visually handicapped persons.
In making the announcement, Mr. Hjelm said, "We are most pleased to establish this important relationship with Aids Unlimited. The R. C. Allen Company and Aids Unlimited, both leaders in their fields, have a deep commitment to product quality and to service to the customer. We believe that the 204T Talking Cash Register represents a major step forward toward the goal of independent functioning of persons in retail business who happen to be blind or visually impaired."
For further information, contact Aids Unlimited, Inc., 1101 North Calvert Street, Suite 405, Baltimore, Maryland 21202; (301) 659-0232.
**Baby Girls for Adoption:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Teri Bacall of the Children's Home Society of Minnesota has helped find homes for many, many blind orphans. For example, she was instrumental in placing Chung, Dong Wook (now known as Chaz) with Federationists John and Barbara Cheadle eight years ago, and most recently helped Tom and Florence Blume of New Jersey get their little girl, Melissa. Mrs. Bacall has now asked us to publish information about two blind baby girls in Korea who need homes. She says that in the past she has turned to the National Federation of the Blind for help and is now doing it again. For more information about the adoption program or about the children who are now ready for adoption contact: Teri Bacall, Senior Coordinator, International Waiting Children, Children's Home Society of Minnesota, 2230 Como Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108; (612) 646-6393.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"Big, bold, self-adhesive 'Free Matter' mailing labels. $2.00 for 100, $8.00 for 500. Free samples and information in print, Braille, or tape. J P Enterprises, Dept. M, P.O. Box 44217, Denver, Colorado 80201."
Hazel Staley, President of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina, writes:
"George Best, Treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina for many years, is at the time of this writing in Charlotte Memorial Hospital in serious condition. He entered the hospital on April 29 for what he thought would be minor surgery. However, tests revealed a large cancerous area where the small intestine enters the stomach and a six-inch blockage on the right side of the intestines. He was on antibiotics until Friday, May 1, when he underwent surgery for three hours. I call him my good right hand. We all certainly wish him a complete recovery."
Karl Smith, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Utah, asks that we carry the following announcement:
"For sale: Total Talk PC from Maryland Computer Services including speech software, Braille translation software, Spellbinder word processing package, Personal Card File database package, blank diskettes, dust covers, swivel base. Also, HP 2934A printer. This printer has a 15.5-inch carriage with adjustable trackers for printing items as small as 2.5 inches wide, up to four plug-in cartridge print fonts. Print speeds are 40, 67, and 200 CPS. This is a heavy duty printer designed for hard daily use. This package also includes all necessary documentation, cables, and accessories. Asking price is $5,000 total. Contact Karl Smith, President, National Federation of the Blind of Utah, at (801) 364-9007 or (801) 972-8047. Or write to NFB of Utah, 328 West 200 South, Suite #3, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101."
Hazel Staley, President of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina, writing in the affiliate's May, 1987, newsletter, says:
"There is something I have wanted to say to you, the members of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina, for a long time, but there never seems to be enough space. However, this time I am going to take the space, because I feel that this is important. More of you need to become more actively involved if our affiliate is to grow and be the strong organization that we need to protect the rights of blind people. Right now our state treasury is dangerously low while some chapters have money lying in the bank not serving anybody. We are a nonprofit organization. If you raise funds in the name of the Federation and fail to use those funds, you are endangering our nonprofit status. Chapters need some money to operate, of course, but the greater expense is at the state and national level. Chapters don't have to wait to have a fundraiser in order to contribute to the state. Donations can be made any time. Unfortunately, some of you seem to have the attitude of the hitchhiker who sticks his thumb out and says, 'You furnish the car, the gas, attend to the repairs and upkeep, supply the insurance, and I'll ride with you.
If you have an accident, I'll sue you for damages.' Many members seem to say, 'You go to the meetings, you serve on boards and committees, you do the paperwork, you study the issues and take care of things that need doing, and I'll just go along for the ride. If things don't suit my fancy, I will complain, criticize, and probably get out and hitchhike to another group.' Are you a hitchhiker, or a driver? Come on, folks. We need drivers. Enlist associates. Join PAC. Tell other blind persons what the Federation means to you, and recruit them as members. Help your chapter plan programs and activities that will attract new members, and make the community aware of your existence."
**The Danger of Signing Forms:
George Eltgroth, a long-time member of the Federation, is an attorney--one with both intelligence and maturity. In a recent letter to President Maurer he wrote:
"Unfortunately, I have had to deal with a number of hospitals in different communities over the last couple of years. They regularly thrust forms at me for signature, saying that these are to be signed to permit them to file claims with Medicare. While I cannot read the forms myself, I always demand copies at the time of signing. On later examination, I find that very often the nature of the document has been significantly misrepresented.
Often the releases are much more comprehensive than I have been told. In one case there was a consent to submit to experimental medicines and therapy.
"This is a very serious situation for the blind who may be induced to sign by the misrepresentations of hospital staff. I would like to see the subject dealt with in resolutions to be taken up at the 1987 convention."
Richard Gaffney, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Rhode Island, writes:
"On Saturday, May 2, 1987, wedding bells rang in the city of East Providence, Rhode Island, for Howard Applegate and Laurraine Kaiser. Howard is a member of the Rhode Island affiliate's Board of Directors. Many Federationists from Rhode Island and Massachusetts were in attendance at the wedding. Another member of the Board served as best man. We all wish Howard and Laurraine a long and happy life together."