30, No. 8 September
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
NFB Net BBS: (612) 696-1975
Web Page Address: http//www.nfb.org
the president, address changes,
subscription requests, orders for NFB literature,
articles for the Monitor, and letters to the editor
should be sent to the National Office.
cost the Federation about twenty-five dollars per year.
Members are invited, and non-members are requested, to cover
the subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to
National Federation of the Blind and sent to:
National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 30, No. 8 September 1987
by Charlene Groves
THE NATIONAL BRAILLE ASSOCIATION CUTS ITS TIES WITH NAC
by Kenneth Jernigan
PENNSYLVANIA FEDERATIONIST HAS TROUBLE VOTING
AIR CANADA DISCRIMINATES AGAINST BLIND PASSENGER
BRAILLE--THE COMING RENAISSANCE
THEY CAME UP ON OUR BLIND SIDE
by Betty Niceley
WHY NOT BRAILLE
by Mrs. Ann Hollowell
BRAILLE AND THE PARTIALLY SIGHTED
by Debbie Hamm
by Marie Porter
THEN AND NOW
by Michael Baillif
STANDING ON THE BUS
by Marc Maurer
OUT TO LUNCH
by Kenneth Jernigan
VENDORS FIGHT PROPOSED BAN ON CIGARETTE SALES
CONTINUING PROBLEMS AT THE IDAHO COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND
MARYLAND LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND IN TROUBLE
by Kenneth Jernigan
MORE ABOUT THE RUSSELL ANDERSON CASE
by Peggy Pinder
A DOG GUIDE IS NOT A PET
AIDS UNLIMITED, INC.
Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1987
by Charlene Groves
(From the Editor: Charlene Groves lives in New Jersey. In the letter accompanying her article she said: "I have been receiving the Braille Monitor for several years now. Yet, I still remained silent about the things which have happened to me. I have light perception only, and I spend a great deal of time writing science fiction and poetry. I suppose part of the reason I have never written much about myself is because writing is a lot like crying. Once you start, you fear you might not be able to stop. So here is part of my story.")
The little boy was six years old when the German soldiers came to the farm house looking for his mother. The tall officer smiled at the boy. The man in splendid uniform spoke very kindly to the boy. He said that it was of vital importance that they find the boy's father. Therefore, they needed the little boy to tell them where his mother was hiding since she would know where his father was.
The boy said that he was sorry but that he wasn't allowed to tell anyone where his mother was, because it was a secret. So the officer said, "Well, then, let's make it into a game. That way no harm can come of it. If you show me where your mother is, I'll give you these chocolate bars and this iron cross."
And so the boy took his new friend into the barn and showed him where his mother lay hiding.
"Good boy," the German officer said, giving the boy a kindly pat on the head. "Now you run along and play while your mother and I talk."
The soldier handed the boy the candy and the cross, just as he had said that he would; and thinking all was well, the boy happily ran off to play by himself. It wasn't until the sound of a shot rang out a few seconds later that the boy understood that he had been betrayed.
You see, the boy's father was working for the underground, and the Germans had threatened to kill his wife if he did not surrender.
Then, the music came on, and the credits began to roll silently across the screen. The announcer told us that the story we had just seen was based upon a true incident. The rest of my family went back to normal. For them this was just another television show.
But me--I only pretended to go back to normal. I felt a profound sense of loss and grief, an ache so deep that no tears would come. I was stuck somewhere inside that little boy, forever compelled to see the world through his heart, mind, and viewpoint--feeling every texture of my life through his skin.
But I kept these thoughts a closely guarded secret. For how was I to explain having such strange feelings? And besides, I was already very often in trouble for being such a little tomboy.
I felt abandoned by all the world, and the frightening thing was that I didn't know why.
One day, shortly before I was to enter the public school system, a lady came to our door. She was from the New Jersey State Commission for the Blind. Apparently it was her job to make sure that I was ready for school. She talked to my mom for a while. Then, she asked my mom to go out into the yard and wait so that she could talk to me alone.
At that time I wanted to go to school, more than anything else in the world. I knew that school was where the books were, and where the books were the power was. For even at the age of five I hungered for learning.
The lady said that because I was blind, she had come to make sure that I was ready for school. She said that because I was blind, there were things that my parents couldn't teach me. Therefore, she wished that they would send me away to school--but since my parents refused to do that, I would have to go to public school as part of a new experiment.
However, before I went to school, I would have to pass a test to see how well I could get around. We were going to play a game. We were going to have fun going into each and every room in the house, just so she could be certain that I knew where everything was.
And so we went, she saying at every opportunity, "And what's in this drawer?" Then, she would have me open the drawer in question, so that she could look through it--in order to see whether I had given her an accurate description of what lay within.
When she finished her work, she told my mother that I was ready for school.
After the lady was gone, my mom asked me what the lady and I had done while she was waiting in the yard. And when I told her what had happened, she was outraged.
Realizing that I had been tricked and used in some way, I began to cry. Suddenly it seemed to me that I had done something terribly wrong. But mom said not to cry, because I hadn't done anything wrong. She said that what had happened wasn't my fault.
She told me that it had never occurred to her that the lady from the New Jersey Commission for the Blind would do such a thing to us. She said that it wasn't anyone else's business what we kept in our drawers.
Yet, even so, I still felt so guilty and ashamed, so dirty and unclean, that I thought I would never feel right again. I hated myself for being innocent and ignorant. I understood then that I was just another dumb kid, and I felt afraid because I had no protector who could stand between me and my dumbness.
My mind and heart kept saying to me: "You should have known better. You should have known better. You should have known better"--for I knew that, through me, my family and I had been robbed of something fine and precious.
My only source of comfort during that time was my mother's confession that she had not known what the lady would do either. And she was a grownup. Because she was a grownup, she said that it was much more her fault than anyone else's. She felt that she ought somehow to have foreseen what was coming.
Thus, I watched in awe as my mother attempted to lift my guilt, carrying it upon her own shoulders, which were infinitely stronger and wiser than mine. But I was a child. Nothing could erase the ache or restore the innocence. Nor did anyone ever suspect the truth about me.
No one ever guessed at the secret change which had taken place inside of me. I still played with my brother and sister, going through all of the normal stages that children go through. But in the very deepest part of my soul I wasn't a child anymore. I was a soldier, and I knew that there was a war on.
by Kenneth Jernigan
As everybody knows, the last couple of years have been a bad time for NAC (the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped). The North Carolina School for the Blind, the Michigan State School for the Blind, Kansas State Services for the Blind, Rhode Island State Services for the Blind, and others decided they had had enough and withdrew. There is an old saying to the effect that nothing wins like success. The reverse of that coin is that nothing loses like failure--and NAC certainly offers graphic testimony to the truth of it all.
One of the latest to leave NAC's sinking ship is NBA (the National Braille Association). Established in 1945, the NBA is described in the 1984 edition of the American Foundation for the Blind's Directory of Agencies Serving the Blind in the U. S. as follows: "Brings together those interested in production and distribution of Braille, large type and tape recorded materials for the visually impaired. NBA Braille Book Bank provides thermoform copies of hand- transcribed texts to college students and professional persons; NBA Braille Technical Tables Bank has a collection of over 300 tables which supplement many of the texts; through NBA Reader- Transcriber Registry blind people can obtain vocational daily living material--at below cost; through Braille Transcription Assignment Service; requests of college students for Brailled textbooks are filled. Publications to aid transcribers include: Manual for Large Type Transcribing, and Tape Recording Manual, 3rd Ed. available from LC/DBPH; Teacher's Manual and Tape Recording Lessons, from NBA national office; Guidelines for Administration of Groups Producing Reading Materials for the Visually Handicapped, from LC/DBPH; Handbook for Braille Music Transcribers, from LC/DBPH; and NBA Bulletin,issued four times a year to membership, available in print, Braille, or tape."
This is how the National Braille Association is described by the American Foundation for the Blind. Put briefly, it is the nationwide organization of transcribers. It has both prestige and stability. It has been one of NAC's sponsors from the very beginning. Therefore, its withdrawal must be particularly troubling to NAC. When we learned of the NBA defection, our reporter called NBA officials for comment. First we contacted Angela Coffaro, the staff member in charge of NBA's headquarters in Rochester, New York. Ms. Coffaro seemed uneasy at discussing the matter but said she thought that financial considerations were only partially involved in the NBA board's decision to withdraw sponsorship of NAC. She seemed to feel that the critical point for the NBA board was that NBA and NAC simply "had no basis for a continuing relationship." She did not explain why, if this is true, there was "the basis for a continuing relationship" from the late 1960's until now. Ms. Coffaro said that, even if it had wanted to, NBA could not be an accredited member of NAC but only a sponsor. She said that there was, therefore, no purpose to be served by NBA's remaining as a NAC sponsor. Ms. Coffaro said that the decision to withdraw was entirely the NBA's and that NAC simply responded with "regrets." Ms. Coffaro offered the thought that she believed other NAC sponsors were reaching the same conclusion that NBA had reached. She seemed reluctant to discuss the matter at all, expressed the opinion that it might be just as well if no publicity were given to the situation, and finally referred the Monitor reporter to Ms. Betty Crolick of Fort Collins, Colorado, NBA's President.
If possible, Ms. Crolick seemed even more uneasy about discussing the NAC withdrawal than Ms. Coffaro had. She confirmed the fact that the National Braille Association had definitely withdrawn its NAC sponsorship, and she said that the reason was not the amount of the annual dues for sponsoring members. She said the dues were only $50 per year and were really not a factor in the decision.
Ms. Crolick expressed her belief that NBA was one of the original NAC sponsors, dating back at least to 1970 when she originally joined the NBA board of directors. She said she could not comment on the exact reasons for NBA's withdrawal from NAC, but she went on to say that NBA and NAC seemed to have very little in common and that none of the NAC standards would seem to be relevant to any of NBA's activities. Beyond that, Ms. Crolick would only say that it was "just no longer appropriate for NBA to continue membership in NAC." She expressed the hope that NBA's withdrawal from NAC "would not become the center of publicity." She explained that this was why she would have to decline to give further reasons for the NBA-NAC separation.
The restrained statements of Ms. Coffaro and Ms. Crolick speak with more force than loud denunciations. The facts speak for themselves. From the very beginning of NAC (for at least almost twenty years) the National Braille Association has lent its name and prestige to NAC. All of that has now come to an end. Why? Surely NBA and NAC have as much in common now as they did twenty years ago, and as both NBA representatives emphasized, the nominal amount of dues for a sponsoring member was not a factor.
The plain truth is that NAC (if it ever had a constructive part to play in the field of work with the blind) has such a part no longer. The greatest service it could possibly render would be quietly to dissolve and go out of existence. If it does not soon voluntarily do so, the job will almost certainly be done for it--and with a great deal more pain to NAC than if it just quietly went away.
Twenty years ago it was not uncommon for blind persons to have problems when they went to the polls to vote. As is usually the case with discrimination and outmoded practices, the behavior of polling officials is erratic. When the blind voter wanted to take a sighted assistant of his or her choice into the voting booth, there were varied reactions. Sometimes the blind voter was told that an official of each political party must witness the marking of the ballot. At other times the voter required a doctor's certificate, an affidavit, or some other type of documentation. At still other times the blind voter was allowed to take another person into the booth to assist in casting the ballot with no question or problem at all.
That was twenty years ago, and in most states the matter has been settled--usually by statute. In almost every part of the country it is now taken for granted that any person who has trouble marking a ballot can take another person into the booth to do the marking, but occasionally there are still throwbacks to the former era.
Such an incident happened in Pennsylvania on May 19 of this year when Federationist John Nemec went to the polls to vote. He was challenged and probably would not have been able to vote at all except for the fact that he is a Federationist and, therefore, knows his rights and what to do to protect them. It took a little time and a second trip to the polling place, but John Nemec voted. Here is the letter which the Berks County Chapter wrote to the local newspaper:
We all know it's important for Americans to exercise their right to vote. It's significant if someone decides to vote after not doing so for some years. Would you deny that person his voting privileges? One polling official tried in the recent primary election.
John Nemec, a member of the Berks County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, is partially sighted and does not travel with a dog guide or white cane but does need assistance with such things as voting. When John went to vote, a gentleman refused to let him have assistance. John's registration had not been properly stamped to indicate that he needed help voting. The polling official was more than reluctant to accept John's explanation. When the official did offer John personal help, John felt it was best to try to get help from someone less antagonistic.
John was angered and hurt by the harassment, and sought help. Within a couple of hours John went back to the polls and cast his vote.
Our thanks go to Congressman Gus Yatron's office, Rosa Caltagirone, and the Berks County Courthouse for helping to secure John's opportunity to exercise his rights as any American.
If history has indeed been changed by one vote, don't you think a blind person should be able to vote without harassment? We think so.
Berks County Chapter
National Federation of the Blind
(Comment from the Editor: Dr. Euclid Herie, the Managing Director of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, is healthy and vigorous. He is a respected executive, a man of prominence in the civic and social affairs of Canada, and a person who comports himself with decorum and dignity. As his letter demonstrates, he is also quite articulate and well aware of his rights as a citizen and human being.
Blind passengers in the United States are accustomed to discriminatory and unreasonable treatment from the airlines, but apparently it also happens in Britain and Canada. We have probably not heard the last of the incident described in Dr. Herie's letter.)
Toronto, Ontario Canada
June 9, 1987
Mr. Pierre J. Jeanniot
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dear Mr. Jeanniot:
On Saturday, May 30th, 1987, my wife and I returned from London, England, to Toronto on flight number 857. I requested that the in-charge flight attendant file a report concerning my protest at having had a seat reassignment to two center seats when the two seats previously booked, several months ahead of time, were summarily and without apology removed from me.
I believe it is important to briefly document that, on arriving at the airport in London, the person who checked me in went off to consult with someone and then returned, explaining to my wife, not speaking to me at all but referring to me as "the blind gentleman," that we had been given two other seats since it would be "easier" for "the blind gentleman" because of the stairs involved in having to gain access to the upper lounge. I failed to understand her reasoning and protested that I wanted the seats that had in fact been reserved and that a few stairs certainly presented no problem to me. I was then told that this would be more convenient and there should be no further discussion. There was no explanation of any regulations, but I did receive the same comment subsequently from other ground personnel and from the in-charge attendant once aboard.
As you may know, I am a member of the Minister's Transportation for Disabled Persons Implementation Committee and have found the experience to be generally positive and rewarding. I believe that we are gradually eroding some of the long-standing regulatory and other barriers that create problems such as I have taken time to outline to you. Not only was this action a personal indignity to me--it was embarrassing to my wife and certainly an offense to my rights for equal access and transportation and for self-determination. In the Transportation Committee, the disabled community has argued effectively that self-determination in transportation and other areas to achieve equality must receive proper acceptance in the statutory and regulatory areas that govern every aspect of our daily life, including the right to transportation.
In this instance, I felt that the incident only highlighted the points that had been raised in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere concerning the seating of persons in so-called "restricted" rows. I have debated that point in the Committee without success, but I felt that this incident involving a few stairs to an able-bodied person was nothing short of offensive and discriminatory. I have overlooked the discomfort of the seating arrangement that we had no choice but to accept if we wanted to return to Toronto as scheduled. I would, however, request that appropriate compensation be made to my wife and to me in consideration of this incident that I considered regrettable and unnecessary. With specific reference to self-determination, I would be curious to know the medical or other bases that underlie such a regulation, given that "disability" and the use of the upper lounge might well extend beyond blindness to hypothetically other disabled persons, for example persons with one arm, one leg, perhaps a major internal disability, involving medication or a latent heart condition, etc.
These comments are not intended to be flippant because they do point out that it is really not possible, other than by proper consultation and respect for the individual, to determine an individual's mobility and ability, both physically and mentally. I would hasten to add that, ironically, I had just completed a three-day hike in the West Mendip Way that involved thirty-one miles and a cumulative elevation of well over 4,000 feet. I wonder if the small spiral staircase, that I once ascended on a flight from Calgary to Toronto, really needed to occasion the sort of incident that it created.
In drawing this matter to your attention, I would call on your office to consider suitable compensation without my having to seek other recourse, given that I have flown with Air Canada for more than twenty years and want to maintain what I trust can be an amicable arrangement. I also trust that this matter, through copies of this correspondence, will give rise to the sort of discussion that will resolve this in the future for myself and others.
Thank you for you attention, and I will look forward to your early reply.
Yours truly, Euclid J. Herie
Canadian National Institute for the Blind
cc: The Honorable John Crosbie
Minister of Transport
Mr. Jack Gaum, Director
Transportation of Disabled Persons Program
Mr. Stuart Grant
Vice President and Secretary
Air Transport Association of Canada
Mr. Gregory R. Latham, Chairman
Transportation of Disabled Persons
Mrs. G. P. M. Braak
The Canadian Council of the Blind
June 4, 1987
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
I was just listening to your article about your early life and the Matilda Ziegler Magazine, which I receive on discs. For years you gave me the impression that you were older than I, but actually I now see that I am six years older than you. I was born November 15, 1920. November 15, 1926, (the year I presume you were born) was the date that commercial radio got started, so you are at least as old as radio.
I became legally blind in 1953 and totally blind in 1969 when I was forty-nine, at which time I taught myself Braille--including Grade Three. I also looked at other systems of Braille such as shorthand, music, and the Nemeth Code. I even invented a more compact Braille, which I call Brant. It consists of one vertical row of three variated shaped dots, which are capable of forming into sixty-three combinations just like regular Braille.
Although I think Brant is superior to regular Braille, I doubt that it will ever replace Braille because with such machines as the Optacon, Braille appears to be on the way out. Increasingly I am running into young blind people who do not use Braille. Typically they are carrying around small pocket-sized cassette recorders. Just a few months ago I bought myself (for $19) a Sony cassette recorder which uses regular-sized cassettes and is only slightly larger than the cassette. It is much handier to carry than a slate and stylus.
Blind people that I have met with these midget cassette recorders have confessed that they have never bothered to learn Braille, nor do they intend to learn it. I have just been enrolled in a new club called the Chatterbox Recording Club, and none of the blind people I have so far contacted in the club knows Braille. They all prefer to correspond only by cassette.
Well, it is the way of the world. Technology is always replacing something. Vaudeville was replaced by the talkies, and the talkies and radio by television, and television by video tape--and who knows what will replace that?....
Bruce Edward Brant
June 11, 1987
Dear Mr. Brant:
I have your recent letter, and I thank you for it. Apparently I predate radio by two days since I was born November 13, 1926.
As you are aware, the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille is one manifestation of a countertrend to the dying of Braille. I think recordings are useful and pleasurable, and although I read Braille rapidly and without effort, there are times when I prefer to read on talking book record or cassette--at night, for instance, when I want to read myself to sleep. Nevertheless, recordings are not a substitute for Braille in many cases--labeling, delivering speeches, scanning large quantities of material, finding things quickly in a conference or meeting while simultaneously listening to others, reading particular passages to people during conversation or debate, and at least a hundred other situations which I could enumerate. To some extent the blind person who does not know Braille is illiterate, and just as I do not believe recordings, television, or the computer screen will replace pencil and paper or books for the sighted, I do not think recorded matter or any other device can possibly replace Braille for the blind.
Moreover, technology is giving positive as well as negative nudges to Braille. There is the VersaBraille system, and there are other similar devices, both now available and in the planning stages. The computer is making it possible for sighted secretaries, family members, and others who do not know Braille to produce it cheaply and rapidly. The high speed embossers such as the Thiel and the lower priced modified Perkins are also increasing the availability of Braille. The new technology allows silent, rapid, portable, and easily edited note-taking devices and more rapid writing than can be done by slate. Also, these devices (using cassettes) permit one to take large quantities of reading material on bus or plane. In contrast several bulky Braille volumes would be required for an equal amount of reading matter in the nontechnological mode.
In short, Bruce, I believe that Braille may be in the same situation today that record players were in the 1930's when everybody said they were about to be replaced by radio. The exact opposite was true. The recording industry was just on the threshold of its greatest expansion.
So it may be with Braille--but the jury is still out. As is so often the case, we stand at a crossroads. Braille can either slide into oblivion, or it can become more usable and flexible than ever before in history. The decision is ours, and the time is now. I think the question will be settled during the next five to ten years. For my part I think it will be a tragedy if we permit Braille to become an anachronism. I say this knowing that many of the sighted educators of blind children (not being able to use Braille themselves, being too lazy to learn it, and having all kinds of psychological hangups about it) want to see it disappear--or, at the very least, diminish very greatly in use and importance. They are not the ones primarily affected. We are. Therefore, we are the ones who should have the major voice in determining what will happen.
I have no doubt what we will decide and what we will do. Braille is not only here to stay but also in the early stages of a renaissance. I am convinced that by the time the twenty-first century is well under way, we will look back with a smile at those who said that Braille was finished.
Cordially, Kenneth Jernigan
National Federation of the Blind
by Betty Niceley
(This article appeared in the Spring, 1987, Newsletter of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB). Betty Niceley, who is President of the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind, is NAPUB's President.)
We didn't see it coming; so we don't know how, when, or where it started. We do know that today the ability of blind individuals to function at their highest level of independence hangs in the balance. When did residential schools for the blind stop including Braille in their regular curriculum--and most importantly, why? Who decided that he or she had the right to withhold from these students specialized skills which might benefit them at present or in the future? What prompted providers of education to determine that students having some vision should not be taught Braille, thereby limiting their ability fully to compete with both blind and sighted peers? Why did parents stop insisting that their children be given any and all opportunities to enjoy the best of both worlds?
Public Law 94-142 mandates that all handicapped children shall receive free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. Yet, many of the public school systems throughout the country fail to recognize the significance of this law as it applies to blind children. School administrators very often do not aggressively seek out those properly trained teachers who are prepared to equip blind children for reaching their full potential. Frequently, teachers--and sometimes parents--do not understand how far horizons can be broadened for children who read and write Braille along with their other skills.
Consequently, blind people who have experienced these custodial attitudes feel cheated. This is especially true of the increasing number of individuals having had visual problems during childhood and then losing most or all of their vision after completing high school. Braille skills learned by children become second nature to them. When these same skills (this would also be true of print) must be learned by adults, the comfort and speed of reading are likely to be sacrificed. School officials (if they have a conscience) must then feel some embarrassment at having graduated blind students who are unprepared for full and productive lives.
What can be done to turn this tide of events? Simply put, teachers and administrators of special education must bring into perspective their responsibilities and the rights of the students. Children with any degree of visual loss have the right to learn Braille and to determine for themselves its capacity for meeting their needs. Educators have a responsibility to provide for them all available and appropriate skills. To deprive them of a good working knowledge of Braille is to deny them a basic right to all available means of communication. There is never a question about whether or not these children will learn history, math, or English, because teachers and parents agree that these things are essential for a well-rounded education. They must reach this same agreement about Braille in order to insure the future for today's blind children.
(This article appeared in the Spring, 1987, Newsletter of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB). Mrs. Hollowell, who lives in Portsmouth, Virginia, is the parent of a blind child.)
Having a visually handicapped child who is in the category of not totally sightless but legally blind can, as some may know, be very difficult. My son at age five was diagnosed as having macular degeneration, a disease that can leave only peripheral vision. In the past three years we have spoken with many doctors and professionals in the "vision field." Doctors, of course, offer very little if any hope for the future, while many of the professionals cannot agree on teaching skills or learning aids.
Our first professional, an employee of the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped, only stressed and assisted with large print books, talking books, and magnifying aids. She was very adamant that a person should always use any remaining eyesight. To do otherwise would, in her words, "make him handicapped." When I suggested Braille as a tool for learning and as a means of relieving severe eye strain, she became very upset and firmly stated that Braille skills would never help him.
Seeing my son struggle for two years in private school, always at the bottom of the class, was enough to make me realize that special education was needed. After contacting our public school and visiting the vision class, I knew more could be done. Again, the professionals felt that no special placement was needed. I recommended a regular classroom setting with visiting teachers. After much discussion I requested that my son be placed with the vision program in a school outside our immediate school zone.
During his first year in the new setting (a public school) Braille was introduced at my request and with the agreement of his teachers to see if he would want to learn it. His response was extremely positive, and his teachers agreed that Braille should become a part of his regular education program.
This year has been wonderful. His self-esteem has improved. With Braille he feels he has a special talent, not a handicap. As a parent I see only positive points with his knowing Braille--a future job, ease and speed in reading, medically less strain, and therefore less medication for inflamed eyes.
I feel that no "professional" should be allowed to make all of the decisions about a child's future learning program. I know my child, and I want to be part of his education planning program. I have become involved and have learned much in a short time. By giving my child this added gift and skill, I feel that his future looks bright for the first time in many months. He will have a choice in the planning of his future with this added skill. I say, why not Braille?
by Debbie Hamm
(This article appeared in the Spring, 1987, Newsletter of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB). Debbie Hamm is the mother of a blind child and the President of the Northwest Chapter of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind.)
There is a great controversy in this country among the blind and the educators of the blind. It concerns the question of whether Braille should be taught to partially blind students. There is a widely held theory that Braille should be taught only when all other methods of reading competency have been exhausted.
Some of the people who subscribe to this theory question why anyone would want to learn Braille if any other means of communication is available to them. After many interviews and considerable reading, I believe that this theory will not stand careful examination. . . .
Regarding literacy and the use of Braille, Nancy Scott (a blind writer) states: "It is the only system that provides a physical interaction with the written word and allows for instant perception of format and letter content. . . . Braille becomes an alternative technique used by blind individuals to gain information and immediate access to the printed word. . . ."
The comment has been made to me on several occasions by itinerant teachers of the blind that Braille is difficult to learn and that if a partially blind student can learn print, he or she will want to. The sighted people I know who have mastered Braille admit that it is a challenge to learn. Perhaps the challenge for teachers to promote a skill in which they are not proficient is reflected in their promotion of print reading for their partially sighted students, even those with only a small degree of eyesight. An itinerant teacher in Oregon stated to me:
"This is a print world, and if there is any way to teach print, we will. I don't know of any partially blind student that is learning Braille as an alternative technique." This teacher went on to say that she wouldn't object to trying Braille, just that she had never heard of its being done.
Eileen Rivera, a partially blind graduate student in Philadelphia, related to me that: "I was sent to a sight saving school as a child. The emphasis was on print. I wish I had learned Braille in addition to print. There isn't much available in large print, and what there is is very expensive. If I had studied Braille as a child, learning it would have been easier for me. Now it will be hard to find the time to concentrate on it."
When I asked if she got along without Braille she said, "Yes, but not as well as I would have with it. It is difficult to make speeches. Visualteks are fine, but they are expensive and cumbersome--not something you can carry in your pocket. I can use magnifiers, but I am not always comfortable with them; and it is awkward when I have to write with my face so close to the page. I can use tapes, but there isn't any efficient way to find what I need to hear--so I use readers."
In telling me about her experience with readers Eileen Rivera said that they aren't always reliable, and it takes competent management skills to get them to do the job correctly. Readers are also expensive. It seems that not using Braille creates dependence, not independence.
I learned from several partially blind college students in July of 1986 that because they were not taught Braille, it is difficult (if not impossible) to keep up with their sighted peers. A few had dropped out of college and moved to a rehabilitation center to learn Braille, while others struggled over the decision to interrupt their education and focus a part of their life on gaining Braille skills. All of them expressed the wish that they had learned Braille as children so that they would be better able to compete in school, and ultimately in the job market.
Betty Niceley (President of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille) says: "I was partially blind until I was in my early twenties, when I became totally blind. As a child I learned Braille as an alternative in addition to print. I believe if students learn Braille as children, it becomes second nature to them. Not teaching a partially blind student Braille in addition to print is analogous to telling sighted students that writing is inefficient and that from now on they will only be allowed to type."
Eileen Rivera further stated: "As long as it is necessary for itinerant teachers to drive, partially sighted students will be encouraged to read print and discouraged from reading Braille. This theory is based on the fact that drivers (sighted people) must read print. It follows that print reading will be stressed to their students. If Braille is not the itinerant's main method of receiving and disseminating information, he or she will not likely become proficient in its use and, therefore, will tend to discourage it."
It is not difficult to understand why such attitudes exist. If the student uses Braille and if the teacher is not proficient in its use, added effort on the part of the teacher is required. At least in the beginning stages the teacher must transcribe lessons into Braille and work to assist the student in the interfacing of Braille with print in the regular school program.
The mother of a totally blind student in Oregon's Willamette Valley told me that her son began learning Braille in kindergarten. She learned Braille when he started first grade so that she could help him do his homework. In the middle of the year he was introduced to a computer, and in the summer he received a computer for use in his classroom and another for use at home. Each computer is equipped with a speech synthesizer and printer. He now does all his work at home on the computer. This is easier for his school, his itinerant teacher, and his mother--and his mother believes that the computer enables him to compete with his peers on a more equal basis.
But I am curious about the effect on a child that must rely exclusively on a computer to communicate with the world. He can't put it in his pocket and take it with him, so his world becomes quite limited. Also, so far as I know, recreational reading matter doesn't come out in computer format. As a result, he is limited in his exploration of the world. And what happens if the power goes out? A benefit of Braille is that it doesn't matter whether there is or is not power or technology. The power is generated by the user, and his ability to use Braille (like the ability of the sighted to use print) can bring enjoyment, knowledge, and convenience.
Life would be easy if everything was black and white--but it isn't. Life is full of gray areas. My son exists in the gray, living between the sighted and the totally blind. For me there is no question that he is "blind" and will need to learn alternative methods to enjoy life to its fullest. It is a simple fact that he will never drive a car and will have to rely on public transportation. His eyes wander due to a condition called nystagmus. His left eye protrudes and has an odd appearance. Consequently, there will always be people who will stare and make comments. He will have to develop methods of dealing positively with society's prejudice and ignorance. He will never be able to apply for a job without a future employer's questioning his abilities, and not just those that relate to his eyesight or the job. He will have to be better prepared than his sighted competitor to get a job because of the stigmas attached to blindness.
For this reason alone I think it is imperative that he and all other partially blind children be educated with every method of learning available to them. He needs to believe that it is respectable to be blind and that Braille is not an admission of inferiority or failure. It is an alternative means of obtaining and disseminating information--a technique equal to using print, not better, not worse. Braille could be the skill that will give him the confidence to compete, keep up with his sighted and totally blind peers, and lead an independent life. Moreover, he will have a useful tool if he should become totally blind and need to rely on Braille exclusively. As a parent I intend to do my utmost to see that he learns Braille and that it is presented to him in a positive manner.
by Marie Porter
(This article appeared in the Spring, 1987, Newsletter of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB). Marie Porter is Co-Director of The Guild for the Blind in Chicago. Some may feel that this article and point of view are controversial. Of course they are. Almost everything that is worthwhile, as well as many things that aren't, are controversial.)
"It's a monkey!"
Eileen, a member of our staff, was walking by as I worked on a new Braille drawing. Although I had not finished more than the head and shoulders, she recognized the monkey as it was emerging from my Braille writer.
That's what I want. I want Braille to be a shared thing. I want drawing to be an experience completely under the control of blind people, using a skill that is essential to them--as essential as a pad and pencil to a sighted person. BRAILLABLES are my attempt to bring art and Braille together to make drawing possible, to make Braille less mysterious and isolating.
A floppy-eared dog, a curly-tailed pig, a Christmas tree, a lion sitting on a stool, a clown pushing a popcorn cart, a simple teddy bear, a more complicated teddy bear riding a bicycle--these are the kinds of things I have drawn.
I began by using a slate and stylus to make flashcards and accompanying pictures of an apple, a bell, a house, a candle--all simple drawings that would fit on an index card. This became too tedious, and I began using a Braille writer to make my BRAILLABLES.
Now, my creative juices were really flowing, and a lot of ideas poured out into children's books (fifteen of them, so far). As a natural outgrowth of my work, I have written a manual for teachers and parents, a book of step-by- step instructions for drawing thirty pictures with a sample of each picture included.
Some of the books are for beginner readers and have simple pictures. Some are for more experienced readers and introduce two-handed pictures that accompany original stories and poems. Some are for older children and emphasize illustrating stories with drawings that follow along with what is happening. We are finding that not only children benefit from the pictures--but also adults, learning to read Braille, enjoy the stories and try to figure out what the pictures are all about.
The next logical step introducing my materials was to get them on computer and make paper copies of them for people who wanted them. I have been able to do this by using an Apple II-E, a Braille embosser, and David Holladay's Braille- Edit program. By changing six keys in the bottom row of the computer and using the space bar, I have placed all of my work on discs and can run it off on demand--lots of work, but exciting!
BRAILLABLES, then, are drawings made by using Braille as the brush. By employing a skill that blind people have used to explore the wonders of books, we are poking into the fantasies of art. Why not? Braille is a joiner, not a loner. Braille is a simple arrangement of dots in configurations that are completely logical, practical, and able to be manipulated. Where do you think the idea of dot matrix printers came from?. . . .
Traditionalists may shudder a bit at this untraditional use of Braille, but I am more concerned about the children and adults who might be turned on by reading Braille when they realize that it is not so distancing, so strange, so out of step with what they know other people are experiencing. Braille need not be a painful reminder of visions lost. It should be, and can be, shared with sighted people.
We hope kids bring home Braille pictures they have drawn to show parents, to hang on refrigerator doors, to have people say, "It's a tree!" I think blind parents can share drawings with their sighted children. I think teachers can use BRAILLABLES as another end road to stretching out the environment for blind children. I think BRAILLABLES can give children a means of expressing themselves in ways we cannot determine--by drawing what they know, what they think, what they imagine, and what they want people to see. Finally, and maybe most important, BRAILLABLES are fun.
If you are interested in a listing of our books or have questions or suggestions, please contact me, Marie Porter, at the Guild for the Blind, 180 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60601; phone (312) 236-8569.
by Michael Baillif
(This article appeared in the Spring, 1987, issue of the Student Slate, the newsletter of the Student Division of the National Federation of the Blind. At the 1987 convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Phoenix Michael Baillif was elected President of the Student Division.)
It has often been said that all things exist in a state of continuous change. This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the condition of academic support services to blind college students. Over the last decade and a half these services have been in an accelerated flux, generally on a downward trend. An excellent example of this erosion of quality services to blind students can be illustrated by examining the experiences of a single California student.
In the mid-1970's a young Federationist, Mary McDonough, attended a California State University campus in northern California. At the time, the University had what was known as an office of Disabled Student Services (DSS). The DSS program, however, had very little to do and virtually no funds with which to do it. The program maintained a list of potential readers which could be utilized or ignored, as blind students desired. Other than this blind students were left to pursue their own education without special assistance or interference from institutionalized service providers. Reader services were administered by the California Department of Rehabilitation through a voucher system, which allowed blind students the freedom effectively to meet their unique requirements. It was the responsibility of the blind student to obtain readers, arrange for test taking, and generally fulfill the obligations which were required of all students. McDonough recalls advertising for her own readers, taking tests under whatever conditions were convenient, and basically going about her education with an overall feeling of freedom and independence.
In 1987 long-time Federationist Mary McDonough-Willows returned to a California State University campus in northern California to complete her teaching credential. The changes she found in the type and extent of services to blind students can best be summed up in her own words: "Now you can't even sneeze in a class without being referred to the Disabled Student Services office." McDonough-Willows reports almost total segregation of blind students from all aspects of academic life and society. Everything from academic counseling to test administration is performed for blind students in the Office of Disabled Student Services. Readers are assigned to blind students, and when the necessity arises, the student must attempt to convince a DSS staff person to upgrade the number or quality of his or her readers. The DSS office represents itself throughout the campus as the expert on blindness, and any questions which pertain to blind students are referred directly to the DSS office, instead of to the students themselves. The prevailing attitude is that the DSS office knows best and that blind students should cheerfully cooperate as they are led by the hand to their diploma.
The general trend of academic support services to blind students over the last fifteen years becomes quite apparent in this case study. In California the evolution of disabled student services and the resulting decrease in the quality of services offered, or not offered, to blind students can be traced to a number of causes.
Initially, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was conveniently interpreted so that the responsibility of providing reader services was shifted from the state department of rehabilitation to individual college campuses. This change resulted in the vast expansion of a service-provider bureaucracy which embodied poor attitudes regarding the competence and independence of blind students, decreasing the quality of services provided. As DSS programs began to develop, these attitudes were adopted (unknowingly in many cases) by the legislature and academic institutions. They were also subtly and powerfully communicated to blind students. The students, in turn, becoming ever more dependent, completed the circle by feeling that they needed even more help from the DSS offices and by demanding a constantly increasing array of services.
Such has been the course of academic support services to blind students in California (and very probably many other states) over the last decade and a half. Nothing is static; the condition of services to blind students in 1997 or 2002 will largely be determined by our own attitudes and our own determination to affect the future trend which these services should take.
by Marc Maurer
What constitutes a violation of civil rights, and when is an issue worth fighting about? How important is it to defend a principle, and how do you distinguish between the real and the petty, substance and nit-picking? Several decades ago when blacks were ordered to sit at the back of the bus, were they justified in raising a ruckus about it? After all, the back of the bus arrives almost as soon as the front, and the seats are equally comfortable. Furthermore, someone has to sit at the back of the bus--so why not blacks?
Was it really worth the controversy, the anger of fellow passengers, and the harassment and humiliation just to establish the principle? The blacks of that day thought it was, and most Americans (viewing the matter from the perspective of several decades later) would agree with them. What was being contested had little to do with where the people involved sat. It was as important as the right to be free--as vital as humanity itself. When the blacks were making their fight for the right to sit where they pleased on the bus, many people did not see it as a matter of civil rights but only as a demonstration of a militant unreasonableness. It was only later that the issue came into focus. It is always that way when a minority is trying to gain the status which others take for granted.
The blind of today are engaging in the classic struggle to climb the ladder. What happens when a blind man boards a bus and all of the seats are taken? If the bus is crowded and other passengers are standing, should a seated passenger be asked to give his seat to the blind man? Should the blind man refuse to accept the seat? What does it do to his self-esteem and public image if he insists on standing? Alternatively, what does it do to his self-esteem and public image if he submits and takes the seat? How far should he take the matter?
Terry McManus is President of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania. He reads the Monitor. He has sensitivity. He thinks. In January of 1986 he encountered a situation and decided he had to do something about it. The incident was recounted in a moving letter from Terry in the 1986 banquet address delivered by Dr. Jernigan at the National Federation of the Blind convention. As we listened to Terry's letter, I am sure that each of us asked ourselves how we would have behaved in a similar circumstance.
The circumstances of the incident are clear-cut and easily told. Terry was threatened, browbeaten, and harassed because he insisted on his right to remain standing (along with other passengers) on a crowded bus in Pittsburgh. The driver demanded that Terry sit down. When it became obvious that Terry would not comply, the bus driver took the bus out of service, told the other passengers that they must board a separate bus, and drove Terry (still standing) to his stop. During the ride the driver provided Terry with a sermon on the rights of other passengers, courtesy, the responsibility of bus drivers, and the proper attitude of the blind. As you might expect, he thought blind people should be passive, grateful, and obedient. Certainly they should be properly appreciative when public officials (bus drivers, for example) try to help and protect them. Finally the driver said that if he saw Terry again, he would pass him up and that he thought the other passengers would deal with him on the street.
Terry filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. The decision has now been rendered. The Human Relations Commission says that a blind person's standing on a bus is not a matter of safety and that whether the actions of the driver were motivated by compassion or something else does not change the discrimination. The blind, says the Commissionn, have the right to equal treatment.
The road to first-class citizenship for the blind is a long one, and there are frustrations and trials along the way. But the changes come. Primarily they come because of the work of the National Federation of the Blind. One step at the time we move toward equality. Here is the finding of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission:
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION
Port Authority of Allegheny
Docket No. P-2453
FINDING OF PROBABLE CAUSE
Summary of Complaint:
WHEREAS, on the 15th day of April, 1986, a formal complaint was filed before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (hereinafter called the "Commission") against the Port Authority of Allegheny County, Beaver and Island Avenues, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15233 (hereinafter called the "Respondent," whether singular or collectively), by Terrence McManus, an individual residing at 883 Mirror Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15217 (hereinafter called the "Complainant") alleging that on or about January 14, 1986, Respondent violated Section 5(i) (1) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act of October 27, 1955, P.L. 744, as amended, 43 P.S. Section 951, et seq., in that Respondent humiliated and embarrassed him because of his handicap/disability, blindness, by attempting to prevent him from standing on a bus.
Statement of Applicable Substantive Law:
WHEREAS, Section 5(i) (1) provides, in pertinent part, that "[i]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice... for any person being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place of public accommodation... to refuse, withhold from, or deny to any person because of his... handicap or disability, or to any person due to use of a guide dog because of the blindness... of the user, either directly or indirectly any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges of such place of public accommodation..."
Summary of Response:
The Respondent acted out of "compassion" by extending an invitation to other passengers to permit Complainant an opportunity to be seated. While Complainant has the option to remain standing, his doing so may create a safety hazard for the driver and other passenger[s].
Summary of Findings:
1. Respondent is a place of public accommodation, as defined by the Act, and is engaged in operating public transportation within the County;
2. Complainant, an adult individual who is blind, boarded a crowded bus during "rush hour." Complainant states that he was using a cane since he is totally blind. As he boarded the bus, the driver requested that other passengers relinquish one of the front seats designated for the disabled. Complainant refused the seat, explaining to the driver that he had good balance, and would prefer to stand rather than force another passenger to give up their seat. According to Complainant, the driver became "irate" and advised Complainant that if he didn't immediately take a seat, he (driver) would not move the bus. When the Complainant remained adamant, the driver transferred the other passengers to another bus. The instant bus was taken out of service and Complainant was [taken by the] driver, alone, to his stop.
3. According to Respondent, its action of designating seats for handicap[ped] individuals is an act of "goodwill." While Complainant has the option of standing, this "may create a safety hazard" for not only the driver but for the passengers as well. Respondent states that Complainant chose to stand in such a manner that the mirrors were blocked from view. In addition, his standing interfered with the "passenger flow" on and off the bus.
Respondent states that the driver, a courteous and conscientious employee, acted "out of compassion" when he attempted to locate a seat for Complainant. Respondent further argued that the driver had been cited for outstanding performance and acts of bravery. However, the driver's compassion, performance or bravery is not at issue herein. It is a commonly known fact that passengers stand on crowded buses during "rush hour(s)" interfering with passenger flow on and off the bus. Yet, these passengers have never been characterized as a possible safety hazard. It, therefore, must be concluded that "but for" the Complainant's disability, he would have been permitted the opportunity to stand.
It is hereby determined that Probable Cause exists to credit the allegations of the Complainant.
Lawrence M. Mitchell, Jr.
Human Relations Representative
Date: April 15, 1987
by Kenneth Jernigan
In the preceding article the story of Terry McManus' experience with a Pittsburgh bus driver in January of 1986 was reviewed. Terry was subjected to abuse, harassment, and extreme humiliation. He was even threatened with physical violence.
Terry complained to the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission, and the Commission found in his favor. One would think this was an open and shut case. But not so.
I recently received a letter from an irate individual who said that Terry was not only wrong but bad-mannered as well. As evidence of Terry's benighted ways (and presumably mine as well) he cited the example of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the esteemed founder of our movement. He said, as you will see, that Dr. tenBroek did not carry a cane and that he behaved so much like a sighted person that many of his students at the University of California at Berkeley did not even know he was blind. Now, it so happens that your humble Editor was an intimate friend and close associate of Dr. tenBroek. I traveled throughout the country with him on numerous occasions; I went with him to restaurants; I attended meetings with him--and I also visited some of his classes at the University of California. Therefore, I can tell you from personal knowledge and firsthand experience that the letter writer's claim is without foundation--or, if you like, false. Dr. tenBroek carried a cane; his students knew that he was blind; and although he was not belligerent about it, he would have thought it beneath contempt to try to imitate anyone--blind or sighted, old or young, black or white, Jew or Christian, male or female, or anybody else you could mention. He was himself. That was enough. The next time you hear somebody talking about what the National Federation of the Blind believes or what Dr. tenBroek or I have done or thought, consider the vagaries of fate and think about the following letter:
June 27, 1987
Terry McManus--the bus rider cited in Kenneth Jernigan's presidential address--was 100% wrong, as you can see easily by asking: how did the bus driver know McManus was blind? Obviously, there was some distinguishing mark--a white cane or a collision that a sighted person would've avoided.
(Not only was McManus wrong. He also was bad mannered: It's an insult to reject a favor when somebody is courteous enough to offer one--so McManus not only insulted the driver but caused inconvenience to everybody else on the bus.)
The idea is: If you want to be treated exactly like a sighted person, you must be willing to behave exactly like one. Jacobus tenBroek, founder of your organization, knew this better than anybody. He taught at the University of California (Berkeley) and showed no distinguishing marks: He used no cane or seeing eye dog--but memorized, literally, every foot of his route. One would suspect his blindness only from his slow and deliberate gait. (Indeed, some of his own students didn't realize he could not see--e.g., the student seeking permission to leave class early, waving an official "pink slip" in front of his face.)
If you want all the "privileges" of a sighted person, you must be willing to pay the price. tenBroek knew this; McManus didn't.
So let's hope that in the future the NFB teaches better manners in addition to increased awareness.
(This article by Marsha Shuler appeared in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, State Times on June 17, 1987.)
A proposed ban on the selling of cigarettes in many government buildings will financially hurt the blind businessmen who run the concession stands and not accomplish its goal of deterring smoking, opponents said Tuesday.
"It's taking bread out of the vendors' mouths," said Cecil Turnage, a spokesman for a large contingent of blind concessionaires attending a public hearing to oppose the proposed DHHR regulation.
"The purpose of the rule is to stop people from smoking. . . All that's going to be accomplished by this rule is that blind vendors are going to be denied their legal right to make a living," Turnage said.
DHHR Secretary Dr. Sandra Robinson is proposing the ban on tobacco sales as part of an anti-smoking campaign.
The proposed regulation and another one to restrict smoking in DHHR-operated buildings to certain specified areas are scheduled to go into effect September 1 unless a legislative committee or Governor Edwin Edwards intervenes.
A legislative oversight committee has scheduled a June 23 hearing on the proposed changes.
"We have an obligation to protect our staff and clients from exposure to tobacco smoke," said Dr. Joyce Matthison, a DHHR epidemiologist, as she explained the reasons for the proposed changes.
She noted the high incidence of cancer and other diseases because of smoking. She said there is a $1.26 billion annual price tag associated with smoking as a result of medical care and lost employee productivity.
The Louisiana Lung Association testified in favor of both changes while the Louisiana Wholesale Tobacco Distributors Association registered opposition to them.
The restricted smoking area proposal drew general support, with representatives of two local hospitals and a DHHR worker advocating the change.
But the proposed ban on tobacco sales brought a strenuous protest from blind vendors and their supporters who came here from all parts of Louisiana.
The ban would affect all blind concessionaires who operate in government buildings because the program is operated by DHHR. An estimated 175 blind people are employed at the stands.
"You are trying to deny me my right to sell what is legally sold in the United States, and I will not allow anyone to step on my rights. I will sell those cigarettes after the first of September," a defiant Ethel Anderson said.
Anderson, who operates a concession stand in the municipal building in Baton Rouge, said her income would be "greatly diminished if I have to give up cigarette sales."
Many opponents said the ban will not discourage smokers. They said the smokers will only go to the next nearest place to obtain cigarettes.
Several speakers labeled the proposed rule "discriminatory."
"You are taking away from the blind vendor and giving to the A&P store, the Magic Market. We need the money more than they do," Turnage said.
If state health officials want to do something to stop the spread of cancer, they should do something about the petrochemical companies, several people said.
Ben Fontaine, head of the Lung Association, said blind vendors can find other items to sell to recover losses from cigarette sales.
"Just tell us how?" shouted several audience members. Fontaine responded that in one area where cigarette sales have dropped, condoms were put in vending machines alongside cigarette packages. He also said the blind businessman made a "lot of claims," but presented "no hard facts."
(Editor's Comment: The proposal was defeated June 24, 1987. It is interesting to note how the times change. Thirty years ago almost no one would have opposed the sale of cigarettes in a public building, but even the whisper of the word (not to mention the sale of) condoms would have been unthinkable. One is moved to wonder what the year 2117 will bring.)
(This article appears in Dr. Norman Gardner's presidential message in the Summer, 1987, Gem State Milestones, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho.)
Conditions at the Idaho State Commission for the Blind continue to deteriorate. Those of you who attended our annual state convention in April will remember that we gave Howard Barton a list of fourteen of our concerns. Most of these are not new. They simply point out the continuing practices which need attention at the Commission. As you will recall, Mr. Barton committed to answer our concerns in writing within thirty days. On May 20 (well over a week past the thirty-day period) I received a letter from Mr. Barton asking for further clarification of our concerns. I have included here a copy of our fourteen concerns, the letter from Mr. Barton dated May 20, and my letter of response.
The Idaho Commission Hurts Blind People
April 11, 1987
1. turns down qualified blind applicants who need service. Blind people who are or have been employed continue to be classified as ineligible for services. Other rehab agencies do not operate this way.
2. favors abandoning the talking book machine program even though the Commission has more staff and money than the state library and, therefore, should be able to give better service in this program.
3. says it helps blind people get jobs, but at the last Commission board meeting the rehabilitation services chief could not give even one example of a blind client who had been placed in competitive employment recently.
4. spends much time on staff training which takes counselors and teachers away from clients but little or no attention seems to be given to employment opportunities for the blind.
5. bought seven computers almost one year ago with no provision for access by the blind. These computers are still inaccessible.
6. is trying to combine two contract positions which will deprive one or two blind persons of employment.
7. often does not pay bills in a timely manner. College students have trouble keeping readers who do not get paid.
8. blames secretaries for problems in serving clients. It is not difficult to understand why the secretaries are not familiar with the rehabilitation process since they are supervised by the accountant.
9. is not serving new clients adequately, especially those who should be state-only or independent-living clients.
10. allowed the food services contract at Arco to be renewed with a sighted person, depriving one or more blind persons of the opportunity to earn a substantial living in business.
11. uses unassigned vending machine money inappropriately. This money should be used to expand and improve the vending stand program.
12. requires an unnecessarily long and irrelevant licensing process for vendor trainees, keeping people out of the program.
13. refuses to allow organizations of the blind to provide information on blindness to orientation students.
14. allows unauthorized persons to live in the student dormitories. One example is that a single, sighted man who is not employed by the Commission has been living in one of the student rooms on the women's floor.
May 20, 1987
Dear Dr. Gardner:
During the NFBI convention you presented me with a list of concerns which you stated had been put together by members of your organization. During discussion of the membership following my presentation, it was decided you would send me a letter asking in more specific terms questions relating to each of the concerns. As yet I have not received your letter. Without more specifics regarding the fourteen items presented to me at convention, I would only be able to answer in general terms and am certain that is not your desire.
Please advise me as to what your wishes are at this time regarding this matter.
Howard H. Barton, Jr.
Idaho Commission for the Blind
May 27, 1987
Dear Mr. Barton:
I have your letter dated May 20, 1987, and I am puzzled by it. You seem to remember the events at our state convention in April quite differently than I do. You state in your letter, ". . . it was decided you would send me a letter asking in more specific terms questions relating to each of the concerns."
The tape of the meeting on April 11, 1987, will show that no such decision was made. In fact, what happened is that you agreed to respond in writing within thirty days to each of the fourteen concerns which we presented you with. I asked you at that time if you "were unclear," or if you "had any questions" regarding any of the fourteen items. You indicated only that you did not understand item #13 ("refuses to allow organizations of the blind to provide information on blindness to orientation students"). If you still have questions regarding that item, I suggest you consult with Cub Lyon or Ed Easterling.
The one thing I do agree with in your letter is your comment that you are certain it is not our desire that you respond in "general terms" to our concerns. In the past your propensity to deal with our concerns with cavalier and condescending nonchalance has been particularly disappointing. We certainly do not need more glittering generalities or meaningless platitudes ("general terms" as you put it).
Surely the list of concerns we gave you is clear enough. If some are not clear, which ones? A request for general clarification on a list such as the one we gave you can be considered nothing short of a stall tactic. Is it possible, for example, that you do not understand item #14 (". . . allows unauthorized persons to live in the student dormitories. One example is that a single, sighted man, who is not employed by the Commission, has been living in one of the student rooms on the women's floor")?
What more clarification do you need as to our concern? A sighted man is now or has been living in a student room on the women's floor of the student dormitory. I assume you can understand why we would be concerned about such a practice at the Commission for the Blind. Do you need documentation as to name and dates? We would like to know in writing what the policy of the Commission is with regard to those who occupy the sleeping rooms at the Commission for either short or extended periods. We would also like to hear from you in writing as to the specific case mentioned in our list of concerns. Do you deny that it is happening or has happened?
Since your letter of May 20 is the only response which I have received from you (even though it was not within the agreed upon thirty days), I have no choice but to print it along with our concerns in our newsletter.
We would still like to receive your written response to our concerns. Better still, we would like to see meaningful changes in the administration of the program at the Commission.
Very truly yours,
Norman D. Gardner, President
National Federation of the Blind of Idaho
by Kenneth Jernigan
"What's rat-infested, has termites, floods regularly, and may end up costing the state nearly $123,000 a year to rent? It's the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in the 1700 block of North Charles Street" in Baltimore. This is what Political Reporter Frank De Filippo said on the six o'clock news on Channel 2 in Baltimore on Wednesday evening, July 29, 1987.
The newscast and the occurrences at Annapolis earlier in the day were the climax of a long struggle by the members of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland to focus attention on the problems of the State Library for the Blind. July 29 was the day on which the members of the State Board of Public Works (composed of the Governor and two other top state officials) were scheduled to approve a new lease for the Library. However, members of the Federation were present to object, and the signing of the lease was postponed. Speaking for the Board, the Governor said: "The first thing I want to do is take a look at it and arrange. . .to go up there, unannounced."
Lance Finney, Director of the Library, was quoted on the newscast as saying: There is "flooding from a leaking roof. We are continuously plagued with insects, roaches--ongoing. This year we've had a swarm of termites and rodent problems." The problem is not that the Library staff and Director are bad.
In fact, some of the staff are quite good and highly respected by the blind. Rather, it is that the Library officials have either not known how to fight for more money and better conditions or have been afraid to do it. The consequence (as is often the case) is that the members of the Federation have had to take the lead in doing the job, with the result that there is likely to be a positive outcome and that there are also likely to be a few who will call the organization militant.
A library should be a nearly magical place--a place to explore the world of ideas and enjoy the sense of wonder that comes from expanding personal horizons. Merely walking into the library building should take the reader back in time to the world created by a well-loved author.
However, a visit to the Maryland Library for the Blind in Baltimore creates a different impression. It conjures up images of Charles Dickens. It isn't that blind Marylanders have come to love Dickens' books through long hours spent in the Library reading them, for the Library has few to read. It does not, for instance, have a Braille copy of Oliver Twist--but Oliver Twist is there somehow. He can be found in the building itself, which recreates the atmosphere of seedy back street Victorian London--crowded, dirty, poorly ventilated, and gloomy. The floor is littered with buckets to catch the water which leaks through the roof. The garbage and the books leave the building through the same door and compete for space on the inadequate loading dock. Often the garbage wins.
The administrative position of the Library (though it may seem hard to believe) is even more deplorable than the facilities. Somewhere deep within the Department of Education is the Maryland State Library. Buried within the state library is a subsection concerned with public libraries. Entombed in the subsection is the Library for the Blind, so obscure and carefully hidden that it easily escapes all notice. In the tradition of Dickensian orphans, the Library did not even have a full-time director until the blind of the state made the neglect of the program a public issue.
The Library leases the space it occupies. Five years ago, when the lease came up for renewal, someone in the library bureaucracy gently pleaded for repairs to make the building more habitable. The state agency which handles rental property did not even bother to send anybody to look at the building before signing the renewal. This year, because of the work of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, things have been different.
For openers we took our problem to the members of the Maryland General Assembly. The Library had maintained such a low profile that we had to begin by telling legislators what it was and that it existed. When we got past that hurdle, we found receptive listeners anxious to help. At our request language was included in the Department of Education budget calling on Department officials to find new space for the Library and to report back on their progress. We began to hope that blind people would finally have a chance for a decent library.
In June we learned that our optimism was premature. The Library was going to sign a three-year lease at the same old location with an option for an additional two-year extension. We were told that wonderful progress had been made. The landlord had agreed to make seventeen repairs and to pay for the utilities. Of course, he was being paid an additional $20,000 for his concessions, but library officials almost seemed grateful that the state planners had actually taken the time to come and look at the building. In fact, the Director (certainly not a "pushy" man) was so moved that he wrote a letter to state planners saying that, though it would mean that the Library would have to get rid of several hundred books every year, current space would be, as he put it, "adequate."
Gratitude and humility are virtues--but only to a point. There comes a time when (like salt on eggs) they are poison. With this perspective Sharon Maneki, the able President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, contacted an editor at the Baltimore Sun. The following article appeared in the July 10, 1987, edition of the paper:
Lease At Crowded Library for Blind Draws Protest
by Karen Youngblood
The building housing the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is so cramped that the library has to give thousands of its books away each year just to make room.
Yet state officials just renewed a three-year lease on the building at 1715 North Charles Street, readily admitting that the collection needs to be moved to bigger and better quarters.
Hal Bleakley, a Baltimore businessman and library patron, described why. "When I came to Maryland from Pennsylvania in 1978, I asked the library for cassettes or disks on Maryland history--I asked them to send me everything they had," he said. "I got one on crabs and one on political history. I called them about three months later and asked for more, and they were sure that they had more. I think I made another call three months later than that, and they were still digging around."
Mr. Bleakley said he has received no other history book since 1978.
"I know the building is inadequate and we have every intention of finding them a new building," said Constance Lieder, secretary of the Department of State Planning. "The reason for the extension of the lease is that it'll take that much time to get that done, and we need an interim facility. The lease is not meant to be permanent.
But advocates for the blind say they are tired of poor service and have heard the same line before. They say they want to see something done now.
"We've been complaining for years, and said years ago that the library is too small and the collection is too little--that it's so small it's almost insignificant," said Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, headquartered in Baltimore. "We're most unhappy with the response we've gotten."
The lease was renewed, because the state did not plan ahead for an alternative, said K. P. Heinemeyer, director of the real estate office in the state Department of General Services. He said his department started negotiating a new lease last fall with the building's landlord and found out just as it was to be finalized that the state legislature had appropriated money for construction of a new library building.
Mr. Heinemeyer said he then sought to reduce the lease period from five years to a monthly basis, but the landlord would only agree to three years for $20,000 more rent annually while picking up utilities. The lease had expired, and the department had no time to look for a better deal.
The state did not want another temporary building for the library anyway, because two moves in a few years would be costly, he said.
But Mr. Heinemeyer said the lease oversight may not have been completely the state's fault, because administrators were unaware that patrons had a problem with the building.
"The impression we've always had is that it was a suitable location for them," he said. "We felt as long as they were satisfied with it there was no reason to move them."
Yet, the library has had to give away 3,000 to 6,000 "talking books"--tapes or disk recordings of literary works--a year to other states because there is no place in the Charles Street building to store them, said Lance C. Finney, director of the library.
"If we have something that doesn't move in a year, it's gone," he said. "We have to do that or we'd have stacks of books on the floor. Our shelf space is limited, and it's already full. We are now at a no growth point."
The library also has 45 volunteers willing to do such work as repair broken tape recorders or check tape and record collections to see that they are in good shape, but only about three can work at the library at a time, because there is nowhere for them to sit, he said.
Nor can the library provide special programs for the blind--such as tax preparation service provided by many public libraries--because there's simply no space, he said.
Sharon Maneki, President of the Maryland chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, said she is angry with the state's handling of the lease, and doesn't believe official promises of a new building.
"We have complained, but it's just not a priority," she said.
"We have been discussing these things with everybody we could find for the past two years, and they say, 'Yeah, we're going to get you a new building,' in the usual bureaucratic way. I think things could move a lot faster if someone wanted them to."
This is what the Baltimore Sun said on July 10, 1987; but as we have already seen, things were different by July 29. Federationists and news cameras were in the Governor's office, and the lease was not signed. Regardless of how dedicated the Library staff may be, they cannot give good service without adequate facilities and sufficient operating funds--and humility is not always the best policy. Library officials must learn to do more than keep records and dispense books. They must learn to fight. It is a lesson that the blind have had to learn, and the librarians for the blind must learn it, too.
Until they learn it (and, of course, some already have) we the blind must do the fighting for them. But partnership is better than unilateral action. At the time of the writing of this article the situation still hangs in the balance, but the ultimate outcome will be a better library for the blind of Maryland. The National Federation of the Blind will see to that--and let those who call our attitudes militant make the most of it.
(Postscript: At the time of this writing--the first week in August--there are new developments, which are more of the same. A few days ago a new ceiling was installed in one room of the library. It is already severely water damaged, plus the fact that a light fixture fell on an employee two days ago.)
by Peggy Pinder
On May 5, 1987, the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia Circuit handed down its ruling in Anderson v. USAir, Inc., a pure exit row case. Though the D. C. circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment, the circuit court's opinion is radically different from that of the district court.
As you recall, the district court made extensive, offensive statements in the course of its ruling concerning the safety risk posed by blind persons seated in exit rows. Here are some examples: "The Court readily can understand the desire of blind people to be treated equally with sighted persons to the greatest extent feasible. Nevertheless, there are situations in everyone's life in which a degree of autonomy must be given over to others in the interest of the safety and well-being of oneself and of others." "Although Mr. Anderson's filings have shown that there are blind individuals who may be able to make these determinations in some circumstances, assuredly he has not shown that blind people as a class are so qualified." "The study by the Civil Aeromedical Institute, the recommendation by the FAA, and the regulations all support USAir's policy determination that safety requires the exclusion of blind passengers from emergency exit row seating." "Reasonable safety restrictions on the flights are permissible and have not curtailed Mr. Anderson's right to travel." "Thus, the contract provided for Mr. Anderson's removal when he attempted to interfere with the flight crew's duties which were imposed by the Flight Attendant Emergency Manual and when he engaged in actions jeopardizing the safety of other passengers by refusing to comply with a policy based on safety considerations."
The district court's grant of summary judgment thus had the effect of confirming the airlines' argument that the blind pose a safety risk every time they sit in an exit row. Anderson appealed this ruling to the circuit court, arguing that the district judge had erroneously granted summary judgment by finding facts, the safety questions, which were properly the province of a jury.
The circuit court affirmed the grant of summary judgment, holding that Anderson had no private right of action under Section 404(a) of the Federal Aviation Act; no constitutional claims because there were no government actors in the case; and no common law claims because the claims were either filed too late or were insufficient in law. However, the D.C. circuit's ruling also wiped out most of what the district court said. The D. C. circuit made two vital points:
1. PVA. Anderson was arrested in 1984 and immediately brought suit. From that time through the point when circuit court briefs were filed in early 1986, the CAB's (now FAA's) nondiscrimination regulations applied to all air carriers through Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Anderson's central claim was his 504 claim. After Anderson's briefs were filed and before oral argument occurred, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the PVA case. PVA held that Section 504 did not apply to most air carriers, including USAir. Anderson was thus forced to abandon his 504 claim at oral argument.
The circuit recounted this history in its opinion and went on to comment that: "Congress, however, subsequently passed legislation, approved October 2, 1986, that effectively overruled the PVA decision by amending the Federal Aviation Act. See Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, Pub. L. No. 99-435." The court then quotes the Air Carrier Access Act in full (though this was not necessary to the deciding of Anderson's case) and devotes an entire paragraph, crammed full of citations, to demonstrating that the Air Carrier Access Act cannot apply to Anderson's claim.
2. Safety. As mentioned previously, the district court's opinion was full of safety issues. The D. C. circuit does not discuss safety at all until its final paragraph, labeled "Conclusion." The Conclusion states:
The gravamen of appellant's case is that the FAA has never formally determined that blind persons seated in any emergency overwing exit seat present a threat to safety. Only one study has allegedly been performed on the subject, and appellant asserts that it is wholly unreliable. Appellant thus concludes that USAir discriminated against him because of his handicap.
We never reach this question because we hold that appellant does not here present any cognizable statutory or constitutional claim. As there are no "disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of this suit under. . . governing law," Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., ---U. S.---, 106 S.Ct. 2505,2510 (1986), we find that the district court properly entered summary judgment for appellee USAir. At the same time, we express no opinion as to whether the policy pursued by USAir is subject to challenge by the FAA or DOT.
Accordingly, the judgment of the district court is Affirmed.
The D. C. circuit's opinion has several important effects. First, by the careful writing in its Conclusion, the circuit's opinion completely wipes out all the safety-related nonsense in the district court's opinion. Next, the Conclusion very broadly implies that the administrative agencies should get in there and fix this mess. Next, the Conclusion also very broadly implies that, if Anderson (or someone else with an identical claim) could get himself back into court using some law which unequivocally gives him a right to complain about the exit row bar, the circuit court would then be willing to reach the issue of safety. The circuit's opinion hints broadly that the Air Carrier Access Act might be such a law. And, finally, the D. C. circuit very carefully made its decision of no precedential value whatsoever. By noting that the law has now changed and by firmly grounding its ruling in the old, unamended law, the circuit has signaled that the Anderson case stands for nothing regarding interpretation of the new Air Carrier Access Act.
Circuit Judge James Buckley wrote the opinion. Judge Buckley is a former United States Senator from New York, elected from the Conservative Party, and is the brother of William F. Buckley, Jr.
The tenor of his opinion is workmanlike and technical, cleaving closely to the intricacies of black- letter law until the "Conclusion." Safety is not discussed until the Conclusion. At this point the whole tenor of the opinion changes. For this brief, concluding passage, some fire and interest show through in the writing. One can infer that the author is suggesting that DOT get out there and fix this mess and that plaintiffs who come back with an Air Carrier Access Act claim will get a careful and thorough hearing. This comports with the judges' reactions at oral argument. They were clearly and openly uncomfortable with what happened to Anderson. They have concluded that the state of the law when Anderson was arrested gave him no recourse. They have clearly signaled that things are different now. Of course, presented with an actual case, they very well could rule against a blind person on the merits. This opinion clears away false and erroneous rulings, leaving the field open for the next blind person who wants to try a clean shot. While we would have rather won, a wiping clean of the slate is the next best thing. Judge Buckley did that for us. The case has significance far beyond what its final word might suggest.
If it had happened fifteen years ago, the outcome might have been different, but the National Federation of the Blind is changing what it means to be blind:
Derry, New Hampshire
July 8, 1987
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
Enclosed you will find a copy of the letter I wrote to the Susse Chalet in Brattleboro, Vermont. The letter describes the problems that came about because of my dog guide. I also enclose a copy of their return letter to me. Along with the letter, I did receive a phone call from their main office extending their apologies.
The point that disturbed me most about this whole situation was that when I phoned the Brattleboro Police Department to report my problem, I was told that they had never heard of a law that permitted dog guides to be allowed in motels. It was only after my husband quoted the Vermont law to them from my dog guide legislation book that they were willing to listen to me. It is unfortunate that we have to educate police departments as well as motel managers.
Carol Holmes Vice President
National Federation of the Blind
of New Hampshire
Derry, New Hampshire
December 14, 1986
Chalet Susse International
Wilton, New Hampshire
On December 6, 1986, I had an occasion to lodge at your franchise in Brattleboro, Vermont. I found the corporate headquarters very helpful in making my reservation. The room at the hotel, while small, was clean and well maintained.
Soon after registering, the problems began. While my husband and I were walking my dog guide on the motel grounds, we were approached by a Mr. John Beaulieu. He told us we could not stay at the motel because of the dog. We explained that the dog was a licensed dog guide for the blind and was protected by Vermont law from being denied hotel access. He said he didn't know anything about this, and the dog could not stay. He told us to go to another hotel that took "pets." We explained that the dog was not a "pet" but a mobility aid for the blind. He would not listen to reason, so my husband was forced to get angry as a way of getting him to stop harassing us.
We quickly retreated to our room and called the local police. The desk sergeant said he would "talk" to Mr. Beaulieu. We spent a long sleepless night not knowing if Beaulieu would listen to the police or would try to evict us. We thought at the very least he would apologize to us. He never did.
Is it too much to expect that hotel managers be knowledgeable about basic laws regarding the rights of the handicapped? Does this reflect an inadequacy of your training program, or is it merely that one man is inadequate to the trust you have given him. My husband and I await your response.
National Federation of the Blind
of New Hampshire
Wilton, New Hampshire
December 16, 1986
Dear Mrs. Holmes:
I have reviewed your letter of December 14, 1986, in regard to your stay at the Susse Chalet Motor Lodge located in Brattleboro, Vermont, regarding your dog guide for the blind.
We apologize for any inconvenience you experienced and hope you will accept our offer of a complimentary room for one night at any of our Susse Chalet facilities. Exceptions are listed on the enclosed "Complimentary Room Certificate."
Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.
Very truly yours,
Chalet Susse International, Inc.
cc: John Beaulieu, Manager
(Editor's Comment: Material for this article was supplied by Aids Unlimited, Inc. Here is a company that is owned and largely managed by blind people, most of whom are members of the National Federation of the Blind. Here also is a company that is successful and expanding in a business climate which many people say is difficult and uncertain. It would not be at all surprising if Aids Unlimited, Inc., should during the next five to ten years become the dominant force in the merchandising of aids and appliances for the blind.)
Aids Unlimited, Inc., is an unusual company and represents the practical application of a concept that we should think about very seriously. For the first three years Aids Unlimited operated out of the apartment of Hal Bleakley, President of the company-- office, storage, shipping, everything. Then, in August of 1984, the company took commercial space in its present location in the heart of Baltimore--1101 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201. Now it does business throughout the United States and overseas, providing blind and handicapped persons with quality products at competitive prices and with prompt delivery. The company now has three divisions. The Consumer Products Division publishes a catalog in print and on cassette, listing more than 300 products for use in the home, in school, and on the job, and in addition has about 80 authorized field representatives across the country. The National Institute for Human Potential Division publishes a monthly updated advisory service, TEN KEYS, concerning aids and appliances, funding sources, legislation, literature, and special information relating to the education, employment, and independent living of individuals with disability. It also engages in consulting concerning the problems encountered by persons with disabilities, particularly the implementation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This division has provided consultation involving the federal government, state governments, municipalities, and a variety of nonprofit agencies. The newly established Commercial Division is designed to supply products to blind men and women in retail business--vendors under the Randolph-Sheppard Act, and others. Effective May 1, 1987, Aids Unlimited was appointed as exclusive national marketing agent for the new R. C. Allen 204T Talking Cash Register.
This is the profile of a vigorous, growing company. But, all apart from the fact that most new companies fail in the first year or so while Aids Unlimited is succeeding, what's so unusual?
Here's what's unusual about Aids Unlimited. Aids Unlimited is owned, managed, and staffed almost exclusively by persons with disabilities. Eighty percent of the stockholders are blind, and all of the field representatives are blind. Another two percent of the stockholders are disabled. Blind persons own the vast majority of the outstanding shares in the company. The board of directors is composed of five persons, three of whom are blind. A fourth member of the board is married to a blind businessman, and the fifth member of the board has cerebral palsy. Four of the board members are women. Aids Unlimited was put together with private money under the leadership of Hal Bleakley. There were no public funds involved, no Small Business Administration, no grants, no start-up loans--just a group of individuals, most of whom are blind, investing their hard- earned dollars in an idea they believe in. If there is another nationwide company in the United States truly controlled by blind persons, we do not know of it. This is what makes Aids Unlimited unusual. Aids Unlimited is unusual in another way, or maybe we should have expected it. While Aids Unlimited, in seeking stockholders or field representatives, does not ask whether the individual is a member of the NFB or of another persuasion, most of the stockholders and most of the field representatives are active members of the National Federation of the Blind. Isn't this one more answer to the question, "Why the NFB?"
Now let's talk about the statement that Aids Unlimited is the practical application of a concept that we should think about very seriously. The Randolph-Sheppard Act, together with similar efforts in various states, counties, and municipalities, has generated badly needed employment for many capable blind men and women in retail business. However, the sad fact is that the number of blind persons in their own businesses, as a percentage of the blind population, is far below the number of seeing persons in their own businesses as a percentage of the general population. Why is this? It cannot be because of discrimination against the blind. There is far less discrimination against a blind person in his or her own business than if that same individual is attempting to persuade an employer to put him or her on the payroll. The average customer does business where he or she can get what they need or want, where it is convenient, where they feel that the price is reasonable, and where they are treated with the respect and friendliness they have the right to receive. Most of them really do not care whether the owner of the business is blind or not. It cannot be because businesses cost so much to start. While there certainly are types of businesses that cost enormous amounts of money to get started, many businesses have started with extremely meager funds. The average investment of stockholders in Aids Unlimited was under $500. It cannot be because there are not business opportunities around. There are thousands of business opportunities across the country. The proof of this is that in the recent recession, more businesses were being organized than the number that were failing, more than half a million per year being started. If these are not the reasons, then why is it? The reason lies within ourselves. It has been said, and very wisely, "...if you believe you can or if you believe you cannot, you are probably right." This is the essence. What is it we want and are willing to work hard to get? What do we really believe we are capable of doing? As far as employment is concerned, first-class citizenship includes not only striving to get on someone's payroll but also to get a piece of the action ourselves. Yes, you may fail. Statistically, the odds are against you in starting your own business, but you never lose until you stop trying to succeed. Aids Unlimited really is the practical application of a concept we should think about very seriously. To define the personal qualities needed by the successful entrepreneur is difficult because no two individuals and no two business situations are the same. However, one thing is certain: To have sight is not a required characteristic.
State of South Dakota Office of the Governor
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota is a vital advocacy group that represents the interests of thousands of blind citizens statewide; and
WHEREAS, this invaluable organization is an effective voice of the blind for it seeks to enhance the dignity and increase the independence of our state's visually handicapped; and
WHEREAS, as the largest organization of the blind in America, the NFB strives to educate the public about the capabilities of the visually impaired; they are a group of individuals who see themselves not as blind people, but as people who just happen to be blind; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota is a group whose blind members don't ask for sympathy, but for empathy. . .they wish not to be pampered, for they only desire to be given a chance to prove how much they CAN do and how little they can't do; and
WHEREAS, the NFB not only seeks to educate the sighted, but works as well to inform the visually handicapped of their rights and of the many services available to them:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE S. MICKELSON, Governor of the State of South Dakota, do hereby proclaim the month of May, 1987, as
National Federation of the Blind Month
in South Dakota. As citizens of this great State, it is important we all recognize the blind as fellow human beings who desire only to live full, rich lives in dignity and equality.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of South Dakota, in Pierre, the Capital City, this Twelfth Day of February, in the Year of Our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty- Seven.
George S. Mickelson
SECRETARY OF STATE
This month's recipes are submitted by two of Maryland's most dynamic Federationists, Al and Sharon Maneki. Dr. Maneki (Ph.D. in mathematics) works for the Department of Defense and is President of the Central Maryland Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. Sharon, who also works for the Department of Defense, is NFB State President. Both are expert chefs, and both (as the Monitor Editor can testify) have a genius for making guests feel welcome in their home.
by Al Maneki
1 gallon catsup
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups loosely packed brown sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, onion salt, salt, and pepper to taste
1-1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
10 pounds ribs
In a large pot mix all ingredients for sauce, bring to a boil, simmer, stir occasionally, about forty-five minutes, until there is no vinegar smell.
Parboil ribs for forty-five minutes. Place ribs into sauce while hot. Let stand until ribs have cooled. Refrigerate sauce and ribs mixture for two days. Broil ribs before serving. Serve sauce over ribs. Sauce may be reheated separately before serving.
BOURBON GLAZED HAM
by Sharon Maneki
1 14-16 pound smoked, low-salt ham
1 cup bourbon, divided
1/3 cup whole cloves
2-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
4-6 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned for ham and for garnish
15 whole maraschino cherries, for ham watercress or parsley for garnish
Place ham on rack in a roasting pan, and bake at 325 degrees for two hours. Remove, and let cool enough to handle.
Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Cut away rind on ham, leaving some fat. Score fat (deeply, about 1/2 inch) in rough diamond shapes and return ham to rack in roasting pan. With a pastry brush paint 1/2 cup whiskey all over top and sides of ham. Stud the fat liberally with cloves. Combine remaining whiskey with brown sugar and mustard, and pat firmly all over ham. Using toothpicks to anchor them, arrange sections from two of the oranges and the cherries in decorative designs all over ham. Baste lightly with drippings from the previous cooking, plus any bourbon that has drizzled into drippings.
Place in oven and bake, undisturbed, for twenty to twenty-five minutes, or until sugar has melted to form a glaze.
Remove to a large serving platter. Surround with watercress or parsley and remaining orange sections. Let stand about fifteen minutes before slicing.
CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE
by Sharon Maneki
1 8-inch partially baked pie shell
1-2/3 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1-1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (a bit over 6 ounces)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
2 extra large eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 cup lightly sweetened, firmly whipped cream
chocolate curls and/or toasted pecan halves for garnish
Sprinkle pecans and chocolate chips evenly into prepared pie shell. Blend corn syrup, sugar, and eggs. Add melted butter. Pour slowly and evenly into pie shell. Bake at 325 degrees until firm, about one hour. Cool to room temperature. Pipe whipped cream decoratively around edges of pie and in the center. Garnish with chocolate curls and/or pecan halves.
by Sharon Maneki
6 boneless chicken breast halves, skinned
1 teaspoon oregano
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups sliced, fresh mushrooms
2 cups tomato sauce
3 tablespoons dry, red wine
4 ounces skim milk mozzarella, thinly sliced
Season chicken breast halves with oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Preheat a large, non-stick skillet. Over medium heat, brown chicken lightly on both sides. Add onion, and cook three minutes longer, or until onion is soft. Add mushrooms and tomato sauce, cover, and simmer over low heat until chicken is tender, about fifteen minutes.
Stir in wine and simmer, uncovered, for five minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Place mixture in a greased, shallow baking dish, and place cheese slices on top. Bake uncovered at 450 degrees for five minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serves six.
ORANGE BEEF STEW
by Sharon Maneki
3 tablespoons salad oil
3 pounds stew beef, in 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 medium onions, sliced
1 (1 pound) can tomatoes, drained
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 bay leaf, crumbled
2/3 cup pitted ripe olives, coarsely chopped
In large skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil. Brown beef cubes over medium heat. Remove beef as it browns and transfer to two-quart casserole. Season with salt and pepper.
In the same skillet, saute onions until soft. Coarsely chop tomatoes and add to skillet, along with orange juice, vinegar, garlic, rosemary, and bay leaf. Simmer, stirring for three minutes. Pour over meat, cover, and bake at 350 degrees for two hours, or until meat is tender. Add olives and continue baking, uncovered, for another fifteen minutes. Serve over boiled noodles. Serves six.
Under date of May 20, 1987, Nancy L. Abbott (Executive Director of the South Dakota Office of Volunteerism) wrote to Karen Mayry:
"The South Dakota Office of Volunteerism would like to congratulate you on receiving the 1987 Heart of Gold Award. Russell Conwell once said, 'He who would be great anywhere must first be great in his own community.' Your compassion as a volunteer shows your 'greatness' in your own community. On behalf of those whose lives are made better by your volunteer efforts, we'd like to take a moment to thank you."
Along with this letter, Karen received a certificate signed by the Governor of the state, recognizing her contributions as a volunteer.
**Message to Chapters:
Marilyn Womble, President of the West Central Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, writes:
Dear Fellow Federationists:
Jacquilyn Billey, National Membership Chairman, and I have undertaken a project that really has us excited!
Have you ever stopped to consider the vast amount of knowledge and years of experience that we have within our organization? Can you imagine what it would be like to "tap" this great source, compile it into a booklet, and make it available to each chapter?
Well, this is what we are attempting to accomplish. But, to be a success, we must have help from each of you.
This information would be very valuable to a newly formed chapter or to give new ideas to chapters that are well established. For example, send us information on how you conduct fund raisers; state conventions; socials; seminars; public awareness campaigns; service projects; internal, intra-, and inter-chapter communications; White Cane Safety Week; or whatever you feel might benefit another chapter.
Please send your information to me before November 1, 1987, at 8181 West Cecil Lane, Homosassa, Florida 32646.
Evangeline Larson, Federationist from Minnesota, writes:
At our April, 1987, meeting the Metro Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota elected the following officers: Judy Sanders, President; Mary Hartle, First Vice President; James Davis, Second Vice President; Janiece Betker, Secretary; and Jonathan Ice, Treasurer.
Mike Smith of Charleston, West Virginia, asks that we carry the following announcement:
"A monthly Braille periodical, We Could See Jesus, is available from the International Christian Braille Mission. Access to a library of over 200 Braille publications is also available. This service is free of charge. For more information contact: International Christian Braille Mission, Boulevard Church of Christ, Kanawha Boulevard and Vine Street, Charleston, West Virginia 25302; phone (304) 343-6157."
Lorraine Webb, Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind of New York, writes:
"The National Federation of the Blind of New York State held a most enlightening and enriching leadership seminar on May 16, 1987. Guest speaker was Donald Capps, President of the South Carolina affiliate and member of the National Board of Directors.
The seminar was so well attended, it will undoubtedly be the first of many for our progressive state affiliate."
The following item appeared in the Spring/Summer, 1987, Federationist in Connecticut, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut:
"On January 3, 1987, Ben Snow was installed as the Worshipful Master of Hiram Lodge No. 1, the oldest Masonic Lodge in the State of Connecticut. This means he will guide his masonic brothers in the lodge for the coming year. As far as we know, he is the first blind person to serve as Master of a lodge in Connecticut.
"Ben Snow, who is now the President of the Greater New Haven Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut, has always been interested in civic affairs. Among other things, he has worked as an adult Scouter in the Hartford area in a number of capacities.
"On the night of Ben's installation, a number of NFB members were present; and in his acceptance speech Ben mentioned particularly the National Federation of the Blind."
**Awards and Honorable Mention:
Michael D'Amico of Connecticut writes:
On May 5, 1987, my school, Mitchell College, a junior college in New London, Connecticut, distributed their awards. I received honorable mention in mathematics, business, and history. Also, I received the John T. Ballantine Award, given by the English Department. When receiving the John T. Ballantine Award, I walked to the stage with my seeing eye dog Tab. I took pride in the fact that I simply walked to the stage, received my award, and proceeded like my peers without assistance from anyone. As I received the award, I thought of the Federation and my fellow Federationists and how much progress we have made.
The following item appeared in the May 17, 1987, St. Paul (Minnesota) Dispatch:
Both Houses Pass Braille Bill
School districts must make Braille instruction available to blind students, but they are now required to insist that every blind child learn it under a bill approved Saturday by both houses of the legislature.
Under the bill, a reading and writing assessment of each blind child must be conducted every three years. If the assessment does not recommend Braille instruction, a reason must be stated.
The Minnesota Federation of Teachers had opposed an earlier version of the bill that required Braille be taught to all blind children. The federation said the earlier bill was "bad education policy" because it did not allow for individual differences.
The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.
**EIF/REC Offers Resource Guide:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"The Electronic Industries Foundation Rehabilitation Engineering Center (EIF/REC) announces the availability of a resource document entitled Revolving Loans Fund: Expanding Equipment Credit Financing Opportunities for Persons With Disabilities. Intended for planners and administrators of organizations that serve persons with disabilities, this manual explores planning and implementation of revolving funds used to help clients finance assistive aids and devices. Such financial services are already being offered by innovative programs around the country. These programs' experiences are studied, synthesized, and documented for wider benefit. A limited number of copies are available free of charge. Address requests to: Librarian, Electronic Industries Foundation, 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20006."
The following item appears in the May, 1987, Metropolitan Washington Orientation and Mobility Association Newsletter:
"Musical Pathway Helps Visually Impaired Elderly Persons Maintain Independence:
"A 'musical pathway' system that enables visually impaired people to travel more independently is being field tested by the American Foundation for the Blind in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is designed primarily for visually handicapped persons who have severe spatial disorientation, memory problems, and need constant reassurance in traveling. To engage the system, the resident, whose clothing is equipped with retro reflective tape, pushes a centrally located button for a particular destination. As the person arrives at the first musical cue, infrared sensors detect the person and activate the next speaker. Each subsequent speaker is then activated in turn, until the person finally reaches the destination.
"The prototype system was conceptualized by AFB's national consultant on O&M, Mark Uslan, after years of research and field testing. Lindsay Russell of MIT and a team of engineering students designed, constructed, and installed the system, which uses a personal computer, infrared sensing equipment, and a compact disc player. It has been installed at the Jewish Guild for the Blind's Home for Aged Blind in Yonkers, New York, where selected residents, who had previously needed one-to-one assistance in almost all their travels, are now walking independently to interior destinations."
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"Optacon--Practically brand new. Also, a Perkins Brailler and a Braille/ Large Print Scrabble game. Please contact Jim Furnas, P. O. Box 7022, Toledo, Ohio 43615, or call (419) 531- 5863."
**Merchants Division Expands:
Hazel Staley, President of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina, writes:
On Saturday, May 30, 1987, we organized a chapter of the NFB Merchants Division in North Carolina. The officers are Wayne Shevlin, President; Ken Melton, Vice President; Eva Yee, Secretary; and Linda Dean, Treasurer. I am very proud of this achievement, because we have tried several times before to organize our vendors and have never before been able to do so. I believe our success this time is due in great measure to the fact that two of these members, Wayne Shevlin and Eva Yee, attended the vendors meeting in Detroit in April. When they returned home, they spread their enthusiasm and belief in the Federation movement to other vendors, and now we have a chapter. Incidentally, Linda Dean won one of the Merchants Division's grants and will be attending her first convention this year. Eva Yee will also be attending her first convention.
I just wanted to share this good news with you.
**Satisfied or Dissatisfied:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"To all past and present clients of the Northeastern Association of the Blind of Albany: The Capital District Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New York is conducting a survey to determine if your expectations are being met. If you wish to participate in this confidential survey, please indicate whether you require print or Braille and, send survey requests (only block print, typed, Braille, or taped requests can be accepted) to Mike Richardson, P. O. Box 6193, Albany, New York 2206."
**Two New Magazines:
Under date of May 13, 1987, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped issued the following announcement:
"Two new magazines, Science News and the Nation, are now available to NLS readers. Circulation began with January, 1987, issues. Science News offers brief coverage in all areas of science and technology. The material presented in the magazine is gathered from research journals, symposia, and interviews. Occasionally special issues are devoted to one subject. The weekly newsletter Science News was selected for production in Braille to replace the now defunct Science Digest. Readers who had subscribed to Science Digest will automatically receive Science News. The Nation, a nationally recognized news magazine, was added to the recorded magazine program on flexible disc. Published weekly, except biweekly in July and August, the Nation features articles on foreign affairs, local and national politics, disarmament, education, and law. It also has reviews of books, the theater, films, and other arts."
**To Know the Truth:
The American Council of the Blind claims to be the largest organization of blind people in the United States. The National Federation of the Blind claims to be the largest organization of blind people in the United States. Somebody is not telling the truth. There are similar conflicting statements concerning other matters. How can one determine who is to be believed?
From time to time an event (perhaps not major in and of itself) occurs which is incontrovertible. Perhaps such a happening offers the best opportunity for guidance.
Lawrence (Muzzy) Marcelino was a long-time member of the National Federation of the Blind of California, going all of the way back to the founding. In 1978 he was president of the organization and was in the unpleasant position of bearing much of the brunt of the abuse of the Acosta faction, which later became the California Council of the Blind. Not only was Muzzy not a member of that organization but he repeatedly expressed complete aversion for the tactics they used and what they stood for. Respect for the dead would seem to require that they not be maligned when they are not present to set the record straight. The following item appears in the "Here and There" column of the Braille Forum for May-June, 1987:
"Harriet Fielding, a member of the California Council of the Blind and past Chairman of the ACB board of publications, was the recipient of the first annual award given by the San Francisco Paratransit Coordinating Council in memory of Lawrence Marcelino, who had been an active member of CCB since its inception in 1978.
The paratransit program is a part of the San Francisco Municipal Rail System and provides transportation to disabled persons. Mrs. Fielding, a member of the Paratransit Executive Council, was given a plaque in recognition of her advocacy for increases in the paratransit budget to provide adequate transportation in San Francisco for disabled and elderly persons."
**Resource Directory of Scientists and Engineers With Disabilities:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"The new, expanded 2nd edition of the AAAS Resource Directory of Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities contains 950 listings of individuals in all fields of science. The volume is cross referenced by scientific specialty, disability, geographical location, and gender. The Directory is spiral-bound for easy access. A Braille edition is also available.
"The Directory is a source of consultants, speakers, role models, and peer reviewers. Potential users of the Directory include: university administrators; disabled students; parents, teachers, counselors, and community based organizations; government agencies and private foundations; human resource departments; student services offices.
"Order from: Project on Science, Technology and Disability, AAAS, 1333 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005; (202) 326-6667 (voice/TDD). Price: $10 plus $3 for postage and handling. Please enclose a check or money order. Make check payable to AAAS. Inquire about discounts for orders of ten or more copies."
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"I would like to buy a used Brailler. Contact: Connie Kramer, 5534 S. E. Hillwood Circle, Milwaukee, Oregon 97267; call (503) 653-8348."
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"Dialogue Magazine is in its 26th year of publication. This quarterly magazine, which appears in Braille, large print, disc, and cassette, covers a variety of topics in each issue, including audio equipment, cooking, child care, and gardening. Also included are columns dealing with products and services, activities, technology, and careers. With a 70% freelance rate, it offers a unique opportunity for blind writers. A year's reader/membership costs $20. For more information or to subscribe, contact: Dialogue, 3100 South Oak Park Avenue, Berwyn, Illinois 60402- 3095; telephone (312) 749-1908."
**Like Funny, Man, Funny:
If you see it in the press or on television or hear it on the radio, it's true--well, isn't it? On June 17, 1987, the Omaha World Herald carried the following:
Remember: Love is Blind
Marriages among blind people last longer--statistically--than marriages among sighted people. So our Love and War man has been informed. He doesn't doubt it. The blind reportedly tend to be better lovers than the sighted. Among other reasons, communicating through touch is quite comfortable for them.
Tim Cranmer writes: I have been asked by Charles Allen to give you the following information: May 4, 1987, election results, National Federation of the Blind of Frankfort, Kentucky. Charles Allen, President; Grover Lewis, First Vice President; Jerry Cameron, Second Vice President; Robert Page, Treasurer; T. V. Cranmer, Secretary.
Ed Eames and Toni Gardiner of New York (whose articles have appeared in past issues of the Monitor) were married on June 14, 1987.