THE BRAILLE MONITOR

Vol. 31, No. 5                                                   JULY 1988

Kenneth Jernigan, Editor

Published in inkprint, Braille, on talking-book disc,
and cassette by

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

 

MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT

 

National Office
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Letters to 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.

 

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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

ISSN 0006-8829

NFB NET BBS: (612) 696-1975
WorldWide Web: http://www.nfb.org

 


CONTENTS

Vol. 31, No. 5                                                   JULY 1988

 

COURT DEALS WITH THE CONCEPT OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION
by Kenneth Jernigan

A CUP OF TEA
by Zach Shore

KEEPING THE PEACE WITHIN YOURSELF
by Kenneth Jernigan

EDUCATING THE PUBLIC TO THE BLIND INDEPENDENCE WAS HER KEY TO SUCCESS

MRS. O'LEARY MOVES TO PHILADELPHIA
by Barbara Pierce

DON'T DANCE IT'S FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY

BLINDNESS AND THE POLITICAL PROCESS
by Homer Page

A FEDERATION VICTORY: BLIND PARENT WINS UNRESTRICTED CHILD CARE LICENSE
by Sharon Gold

BRAILLE: THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY
by Abraham Nemeth, Ph.D.

TOM BENHAM PROTESTS ACTION BY AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND

ON TRAFFIC SIGNALS
by Ted Young

HOW VALID IS THE SIGNATURE OF A BLIND PERSON

SOUTH DAKOTA LEGISLATURE PASSES RESOLUTION SUPPORTING FEDERATION

RECIPES

MONITOR MINIATURES

 

Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1988

 

COURT DEALS WITH THE CONCEPT OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION

by Kenneth Jernigan

The Daily Washington Law Report for March 31, 1988, deals with a case which has particular interest for the blind. It is Carter versus Bennett. Harold Carter is a blind man. I have known him for almost thirty years, having employed him as a rehabilitation teacher and counselor at the Iowa Commission for the Blind in the late 1950's. I found him to be intelligent, extremely good with verbal skills, capable of making a good first impression, and ultimately totally unsatisfactory as an employee. He was not diligent in his work, and there were other more serious problems. Without going into the details of his deficiencies (they are not relevant to the purposes of this article) let me simply say that he was separated from the service of the Iowa Commission for the Blind after a longer period of employment than I probably should have permitted. But, then, there have always been those who have said that I am a soft touch, and I kept hoping. After Carter left the Iowa Commission for the Blind, I lost track of him. It seems to me that he worked for a while somewhere in Illinois, but I am not sure. At any rate he turned up as an employee of the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare some time during the late 1970's, and for a time I again heard nothing about him. Then, in 1982 (by now he was an employee of the reorganized federal Department of Education) he was dismissed. He filed suit in federal court, alleging that he had been treated unfairly and that the government had failed to provide him with reasonable accommodation as required by the federal Rehabilitation Act.

He lost his case in the district court and then took the matter to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit, where he has now also lost. I was not familiar with the details of the case until I read the decision of the appeals court, and I must say that my heart was not gladdened by what I found. The record contains such passages as this:

...Carter testified that he was the only blind person in the Office of Civil Rights charged with answering congressional correspondence and that even if he were provided with a full-time reader and extensive equipment (which in his estimation would cost $65,000-$70,000), he still could not be as efficient as a sighted person in performing the duties expected of him. According to Carter, he could only do satisfactory research if all the materials were written in Braille and they were not. In his words: `There is no way that you can interpret subtle thoughts to a reader who is doing research.... To delve seemingly with no direction into files to get information I don't know how you could do it unless you can see enough to do it yourself.' This is what the record says and, of course, the experience of hundreds and thousands of successful blind persons contradicts it. I think of Dr. tenBroek, who by his early fifties had authored five full-length books and almost a hundred monographs and articles. He was one of the outstanding research scholars in the nation, and he was totally blind. Moreover, he produced more work product in less time than most of his sighted colleagues. His writings are still used today (twenty years after his death) as standard references in the fields of Constitutional law and political science. And Dr. tenBroek is not alone. I myself handle more research and paperwork than most sighted executives I know, and I do it in a timely manner. Charles Brown, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia, supervises more than twenty attorneys in the federal Labor Department, and he came up through the ranks to achieve that position as a blind person. There are hundreds of other blind people who hold responsible positions in state and federal government and who handle research and paperwork as a routine matter of course. Gilbert Ramirez is a trial court judge in New York City. Totally blind he went through school, established a private practice, and then (because of his competence and ability to get work done in a timely manner) became a judge. Every step of the way he handled more paperwork (probably often with less help) than Carter has likely ever handled.

And it is not just in the public or the nonprofit sector. There are thousands of blind people who work every day in almost every job imaginable, and most of them handle paperwork in a thoroughly competitive manner. Yet, not only Carter but also his former supervisor testified that in most circumstances it is difficult if not impossible for a blind person to handle research and paperwork competitively. And the government in resisting Carter's claims was just about as bad. The Department of Education said that while other employees were expected to produce twelve letters a week, Carter was only asked to do six. Leaving to one side the question of whether either number is very impressive or even minimally satisfactory, one has to wonder how the next applicant for a job with the Department will fare. If the blind person is expected to do only half a job, will he or she be paid only half a salary? Or more likely, will the person simply not be hired at all?

The plain truth is that a job (any job) requires ingenuity and hard work if it is to be satisfactorily performed. This is true for the blind as well as the sighted, and when blind people ask for or accept more time or lighter assignments than others, they inevitably pay a heavy price. As we in the National Federation of the Blind have often said, there is no free lunch. There never has been, and there never will be. In fact, there never can be. And for the blind this is all right.

What we want is equal treatment and equal opportunity. We can do the rest for ourselves. We can compete on equal terms with the sighted, and when we use our blindness as an excuse for our failures, we lose even when we win. We hurt not only ourselves but also other blind people as well. Indeed, blindness does at times pose problems, and it can unquestionably be a nuisance. Handling paperwork successfully and competitively requires thought and preparation, just as does every other aspect of a job but the bottom line is unequivocal. The blind can compete on terms of equality with others. If this is not so, then let us stop asking for equal opportunity, equal treatment, and equal rights. So where does all of this leave us with respect to the concept of reasonable accommodation for blind persons in employment? For my part, I favor it, but I want there to be no doubt as to what I mean by the term. To me reasonable accommodation means permitting the blind person to use different techniques and methods to achieve the same results that are expected of other employees. I favor, for instance, permitting a blind person to use a sighted reader even though the sighted employee does not use or need one, just as I favor providing electric lights for the sighted employee even though the blind employee does not need or use them. Both lights and readers cost money but are not prohibitively expensive. As you read the record of Carter versus Bennett, reflect upon its significance. Here it is exactly as it appears in the March 31, 1988, Daily Washington Law Report .

 

U.S. Court of Appeals

for the D.C. Circuit

CIVIL RIGHTS

Handicapped

District Court did not err in finding that handicapped person was not improperly assigned nor that department had not failed to reasonably accommodate his handicap.

CARTER v. BENNETT, U.S. App. D.C. No. 87-5098, February 19, 1988. Affirmed per Wald, C.J. (Bork and Gesell, JJ. concur). John L. McGann for appellant. David Bensing with Joseph E. diGenova, Royce C. Lamberth, R. Craig Lawrence and William Haubert for appellee. Trial Court Harold Greene, J. WALD, C.J.: Harold E. Carter brought this action against the Department of Education (DOE or Department) in the District Court for the District of Columbia. Carter alleged that the Department did not reasonably accommodate his handicap (blindness) as required by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. Section 701 et seq., and that it retaliated against him for filing an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1974, Section 704(a), 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-3(a). The district court, after a two-day trial, found in favor of the Department on both counts. We affirm the district court.

I. BACKGROUND

The facts as found by the district court are as follows. In May 1977, Carter, who is legally blind, was hired by the then Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) as a public affairs assistant with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). When certain functions of HEW were moved to the newly established Department of Education in 1980, Carter was transferred to the same position in the new Department; there he became part of the Special Concerns Staff within the OCR. See Transcript (Tr.) at 76. Although Carter was originally hired primarily to transcribe printed matter into Braille, he was given different responsibilities upon his transfer; from late 1981 until his termination in August 1982, Carter's duties consisted of analyzing and answering correspondence directed to the OCR from members of Congress and the public. See Carter v. Bennett , 651 F.Supp. 1299, 1300 (D.D.C. 1987).

In May 1981, Carter filed an EEO complaint alleging that the DOE had not reasonably accommodated his handicap as required by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. Section 701 et seq. In March 1982, Carter received a notice from his supervisor stating that his job performance and attitude were unsatisfactory and advising him that he had 30 days to improve or face termination. Four months later, Carter received a notice of Decision to Remove. In June and July of 1982 appellant filed another three complaints with the Department's EEO office, alleging that the Department had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-3(a), by retaliating against him for filing his original discrimination complaint. In October 1985, appellant filed suit in the district court regarding his four complaints. The district court found that Carter was provided reasonable accommodations for the performance of his duties and that he was discharged for nondiscriminatory reasons. This appeal followed. See Appellee's Brief at 1-2.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Although this Court is bound by the clearly erroneous standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 52 in reviewing the district court's findings of fact, the ultimate question of whether the government provided reasonable accommodation to the appellant's handicap is not a question of pure fact but a mixed question of law and fact.

III. THE LAW

Federal employers are obliged by Section 501(b) of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. Section 791(b), to provide reasonable accommodation for the handicapped. The EEOC promulgated extensive regulations to guide federal employers in making reasonable accommodations for handicapped persons.

(a) An agency shall make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified handicapped applicant or employee unless the agency can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of its program.

(b) Reasonable accommodation may include, but shall not be limited to:

(1) making facilities readily accessible to and usable by handicapped persons, and (2) job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modification of examinations, the provision of readers and interpreters, and other similar actions.

29 C.F.R. Section 1613.704 (1986).

In cases in which a handicapped plaintiff sought but was denied a position with the federal government, courts have held that the initial burden is on the plaintiff to make a prima facie showing that reasonable accommodation of his handicap is possible. Once the plaintiff makes such a showing, the employer bears the burden of demonstrating inability to accommodate. Credible evidence that reasonable accommodation is not possible or would be unduly burdensome shifts the burden back to the plaintiff to rebut the employer's evidence.

The situation here is somewhat different. The plaintiff in this case was not denied a job he sought; rather, the government not only hired Carter initially but made the decision to transfer him to the new position from which it subsequently discharged him for failing to perform adequately. Of course the government might have, but did not, show(n) that it had assigned Carter to his new job when his old one was abolished, only after finding that there were no suitable alternative jobs to which he could be transferred; in this case, the government would not have a duty to prove that the plaintiff's new job was suitable for a handicapped person. In the absence of such a showing, it is the government's burden to prove that Carter's new job could have been performed by a person with his handicap, if reasonably accommodated, and that such accommodation was in fact provided.

IV. THE LAW APPLIED IN THIS CASE

A. Whether Carter's Handicap Could Have Been Reasonably Accommodated in His New Job The district court concluded that the Department has met its burden of persuasion with evidence that it reasonably accommodated plaintiff's handicap. Carter , 651 F. Supp. at 1301. Implicit in this conclusion is the factual finding that the Department did not assign Carter to a position in which it was impossible to reasonably accommodate a visually handicapped person. We review this finding under the clearly erroneous standard. The nature and requirements of Carter's job were not disputed. The parties agreed that answering congressional inquiries in this instance required considerable technical knowledge of three civil rights statutes and of the implementing regulations and the implementing policy directives. The government conceded that Mr. Carter did not have a fundamental understanding of [those] basic statutory provisions. Id. It was also undisputed that answering congressional correspondence requires considerable research into regulatory guidelines and letters of noncompliance; it also involves drafting and revising replies and in the process incorporating verbal and written suggestion from others in the office. The district court implicitly found that with the assistance of readers or other accommodations, a visually handicapped person would be capable of performing these functions.

Carter now challenges this finding, based on both his own testimony at trial and the testimony of his former supervisor. Specifically, Carter testified that he was the only blind person in the OCR charged with answering congressional correspondence and that even if he were provided with a full-time reader and extensive equipment (which in his estimation would cost $65,000-$70,000), he still could not be as efficient as a sighted person in performing the duties expected of him. According to Carter, he could only do satisfactory research if all the materials were written in Braille and they were not. In his words: There is no way that you can interpret subtle thoughts to a reader who is doing research.... To delve seemingly with no direction into files to get information I don't know how you could do it unless you can see enough to do it yourself. Norma Mohr, Carter's former supervisor, corroborated Carter's opinion. She explained: [The congressional mail] required research through the files,... it involves consulting the guidelines, letters of noncompliance.... Some preliminary research is typically required before you can give a sensible answer.... The other thing is... the letter takes a trip down the corridors from office to office and notes are put in the margins, so the letter writer must come back with his original draft and see these notations and make decisions, and perhaps incorporate them,... I don't think a visually handicapped person could do this in a timely way.

The record, however, also contains evidence that conflicts with the testimony of Carter and Ms. Mohr. Dale Pullen, Carter's supervisor for most of the period covered by the complaint, testified that although he agreed that Carter was improperly placed on the Special Concerns Staff, in his view Carter was perfectly capable of answering congressional correspondence. According to Pullen, Carter's letters were primarily issue-oriented and less than routine ; no legal analysis was required for 95% of his work. Pullen testified that Carter needed only very basic skills, such as making phone calls within the office to obtain information and inserting boilerplate language into form letters.

The district court apparently credited the government's testimony on Carter's ability to perform the functions of answering congressional correspondence over the testimony offered by Carter's witnesses. The district court's credibility determinations are entitled to the greatest deference from this court on appeal. See, e.g., Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412 (1985). When a trial judge's finding is based on his decision to credit the testimony of one or more witnesses, each of whom has told a coherent and facially plausible story that is not contradicted by extrinsic evidence, that finding, if not internally inconsistent, can virtually never be clear error. Anderson v. Bessemer City, 470 U.S. 564, 575 (1985). Because we cannot second-guess the trial court's credibility determinations, and because we are not left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed, we uphold the finding below that Carter was not assigned to a position in which it was impossible for him to be reasonably accommodated. B. Whether The Department Reasonably Accommodated Carter Next, we consider whether the district court properly concluded that the Department satisfied its burden of proving that it reasonably accommodated Carter's handicap. We have no quarrel with the district court's factual determinations that the Department provided persons to act as readers for plaintiff, it furnished special equipment and office space, and it decreased plaintiff's workload, Carter, 651 F.Supp. at 1301; these findings are amply reported by the record.

Nor do we disagree with the district court's formulation of the applicable legal standard in this case; although [t]he government is not obligated under the statute to provide plaintiff with every accommodation he may request, the government must, at a minimum, provide reasonable accommodation as is necessary to enable him to perform his essential functions. Id. at 1301 (emphasis added). Rather, our concern is whether the district court, in applying the appropriate legal principles to the particular facts of this case, could properly find that the accommodations provided by the Department made it possible for Carter to perform his essential responsibilities. As we discussed above, our review of this application of law to fact is not limited by the clearly erroneous standard. Carter testified that during the period covered by the complaint, he had only two part-time readers, who together spent a total of 18 hours a week (approximately 3.5 hours a day) with him; that neither of those readers was selected by Carter, that Carter repeatedly told his supervisor that his readers could not read and didn't have the skills necessary ; and that it was not until April 1982 that he was given a reader of his choice. On the other hand, Carter conceded at trial that he never told his readers that they were not satisfactory or made any suggestions as to how they could improve their services. Furthermore, in a memorandum to the acting director of the Special Concerns Staff dated August 27, 1981, Carter himself stated that in order to perform his duties, he needed a reader to work a minimum of 20 hours per week only a few more hours of reader time than the amount he actually received. Moreover, Carter's supervisor Pullen testified that the personnel office, at his request, immediately made efforts to secure for Carter a full-time reader that [Carter] had some say in selecting, and that although Carter did not get a reader of his choice until April 1982, he had access to anybody in the office in the meanwhile, since the entire Special Concerns Staff had been asked to be available to Mr. Carter any time he needed some help reading. In addition, the record indicates that even after Carter was provided with the reader of his choice, his supervisors continued to find his work unsatisfactory and, in June 1982, recommended that he be discharged. Finally, while other people in the OCR were drafting up to 12 letters per week, Carter's workload was reduced to half that amount, 6 letters per week.

Based on this evidence, the trial court concluded that the government had reasonably accommodated Carter and that Carter had not substantiated his contention that the additional accommodations he requested including a voice synthesized computer and two floppy disk drives were necessary for adequate performance of his job. See Tr. at 98. To be sure, a reader of the record may be somewhat perplexed as to why the Department would assign Carter to a job that was so research and reading-intensive in the first place and then delay in providing Carter with full-time readers. Nonetheless, the district court could reasonably conclude that the accommodations actually provided by the Department made it possible for Carter to perform his essential duties. We therefore uphold the district court's ultimate finding that the Department did not fail to reasonably accommodate Carter in violation of Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act.

We also uphold the finding that the Department did not retaliate against Carter in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-3(a). The record amply supports the district court's determination that Carter failed to prove that there existed a causal connection between his filing of the EEO complaint and the adverse employment action taken against him.

Affirmed.

 

A CUP OF TEA

by Zach Shore

Monitor readers will remember that Zach Shore was one of the scholarship winners at the 1987 NFB convention in Phoenix. Recently he wrote to President Maurer, saying: I am enclosing a brief story which I recently wrote for a fiction writing class. The story is strictly for your enjoyment. I hope you like it.

(Note) President Maurer did like it. So did the Monitor Editor.

Perhaps you will, too. Here it is.

I'd like the sweet and sour shrimp, an egg roll, some chicken fried rice, and, uh...

Yes, Mr. Dart? the waiter said with a trace of impatience as he looked down at me. I was surprised that he remembered my name, even though I had come here plenty of times. I was wondering, is it possible to mix the wonton and eggdrop soups together? I figured I'd break new ground; try something new.

The waiter nodded and rushed off before I could say thank you. I loosened my tie and settled into the padded booth, which seated four. I was alone. I had worked late as usual. It was 8:00 p.m., and the last thing I had eaten was a hotdog with mustard and relish that I got from one of those streetside food trucks that I call kitchenmobiles; and that was at noon. I enjoyed eating out on late nights, since about the only thing waiting in my apartment was some peanut butter, a couple Chef Gourmet frozen dinners, and a few eggs, but they were for breakfasts. I poured myself some hot tea and somehow managed to spill it on the tablecloth as I always do. The tea made that impossible to hide a huge dark spot on the white linen. I think there must be some group of hysterical Chinese waiters in the back of every one of these restaurants laughing at the stupid Americans who always spill their tea. I added four spoonfuls of sugar a bad habit, but one I had no desire to lose and gingerly held the teacup by the rim, trying to avoid burning my fingers.

I felt much more relaxed now. I thought to myself that there's something about hot tea that's very soothing. Maybe it's the way you can feel the heat going through your throat and then coursing through your body, warming you like an internal electric blanket. Hey, I sound like a commercial!

Taking out my trusty pocket calendar from the inside pocket of my blazer, I wrote down, Mixed eggdrop and wonton at Chang Garden. I also noted that my birthday was in two weeks 29 on the 29th of November. No gray hairs yet. I'd have to buy some champagne and think of who to share it with.

I was comfortable. The restaurant was quiet on a Tuesday night. There were only about eight people in the whole place, most of them couples all of them, in fact. But then I heard the bells on the door which clank every time it opens, and I looked up. She was, in a word, striking. She was Indian. She had that characteristic long, straight black hair that came down to the middle of her back. Her complexion was dark, especially compared to my paleness. She was about five foot three, probably in her early twenties, and had a very desirable figure. She had a very Indian look. And she had brought her dog with her. My waiter rushed over and said something to her, but he spoke too softly for me to hear. But then she replied in a clear and beautiful accent, He stays with me wherever I go. I'd like to be seated please. Then my waiter asked her to wait there for a moment. I stared at her for a minute. She looked my way. I smiled, but she paid no attention to me. She was blind. I felt an instant of shock not because she was blind, but because it had taken me so long to realize this. I suddenly felt extremely stupid. The waiter returned with another man, who I guessed to be the owner. The owner was Chinese. He was dressed in a gray business suit, white dress shirt, and a gray tie with thin silver stripes. There was nothing unkempt or outstanding about him, but I sensed that I didn't like the way he looked. Maybe it was his expression.

I'm sorry, Miss, the owner said curtly, but we cannot serve you.

Why not? she asked as though she already knew the answer. I'm sorry, but we don't allow animals in the restaurant. It is against our policy.

I'm sorry, too, she responded, since your policy is against the law. According to state law, guide dogs are permitted in every restaurant if accompanied by its owner at all times. She waited. There was a pause.

The owner pulled at his tie and looked over at the waiter. Well, if we let you in, we would have to let your dog stay in a room downstairs, and we really can't accommodate it. Sir, by law my guide dog is allowed to stay with me at all times. I wish to be seated with him.

The owner looked down at his feet for a moment and then looked up at her again. Wait here one moment please. He disappeared into a back room. While he was gone, a female waitress came over to the blind woman.

Miss, she said in a saccharin voice, won't you please leave your doggie with me. I love dogs, and I'll take care of it. I promise. She bent down and petted the golden labrador. No. I want my dog to stay with me. She was beginning to sound tired. But it would be a big favor to me if you would. I'll be in trouble with the manager if there is a problem. He will be angry at me, because I am supposed to be in charge right now. You don't want me to get in trouble, do you?

The woman stood silently and then said, I feel bad for you. The owner now returned and approached the blind woman. Miss, we don't have the facilities to serve you properly. You probably need a Braille menu and things of that sort, and we don't have any. I just checked for you.

I know what is on your menu, and I already know what I want to order. She really seemed immovable.

I kept thinking that I should say something. I thought about asking her to join me. I couldn't understand why they were giving her such a hard time.

Now the owner pulled at the knot in his tie and tried to loosen it. Yes, well, we are closing very soon, and it would not be possible to serve you. Why don't you come back another day? the owner suggested, in a tone slightly pleading. By this time everyone in the room had stopped eating and was watching them.

Your hours are from ten o'clock in the morning to ten at night. It is now (she lifted up the cover of her watch and felt the hands) 8:14.

The owner's face flushed scarlet, and his ears turned slightly pink. He looked down at the floor. But the owner and the waiter said nothing. I wanted to stand up and shout at the owner. He was being such an ass. I just didn't know what to do. I'm very hungry, and I'd like to be seated now. Thank you. The owner stood silently for a moment and then turned to look at his customers. I'm sorry, folks, he announced, but I'm going to have to let her in.

At that she looked extremely displeased, but she tugged at the leash and said audibly, Come on, Lily, follow the nice waiter. He seated her two tables in front of me. As I thought about what had just taken place, I was struck by the poise with which she handled both herself and the situation. She never raised her voice or lost her temper. And all the time she stood her ground. It was my understanding that Indian women were taught to be seen but not heard. She certainly didn't live up to that reputation.

I was very impressed by her. I thought how I probably would have wanted to bash the owner's face in.

I was also kicking myself for not having said anything. I should have gotten up and told the owner to shut up and seat the lady. For a moment I saw the whole thing again in my mind, only this time I was telling the owner off.

I looked over at her, sitting by herself. I wanted to go over and say something to her, but I didn't know what. I had a feeling that I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight if I didn't do it. But I just wasn't sure.

She quickly made my decision for me. I had to talk to her now. I had to meet the person who had done what she just did. She just poured herself a cup of tea, without spilling a drop.

 

KEEPING THE PEACE WITHIN YOURSELF

by Kenneth Jernigan

The best estimates indicate that there are about 500,000 blind people in the United States today. At least half of these are at or above retirement age. Quite a few have multiple handicaps, and still others are children. Beyond that, blindness is not a characteristic that selects for success. If, for example, we consider the medical profession, we have already weeded out a great many people who are on the lower end of the success curve. Although it is true that there are quite a number of doctors who are not (and never will be) world beaters, it is equally true that the process of becoming a doctor selects for success. Some people do not have the IQ to pass the tests to enter medical school. Others have never even had the opportunity to try because they have not had the money, the contacts, or the background to finish high school or go to college which is, of course, a necessary preliminary for going to medical school. Still others have been too sickly, too emotionally unstable, or too lacking in drive or something else. On the other hand, being in medical school brings one into contact with people who are likely to be influential and helpful. It gives one valuable training and a salable skill. In short, the fact of being a doctor is a characteristic which selects for success.

What can be said of the medical profession can with equal validity be said of a hundred others teacher, lawyer, stockbroker, minister, broadcaster, merchant, farmer, politician, et cetera. And it is not just the profession or skilled trades or callings which select for success but also the less glamorous occupations. To say that one is employed at all is to say that a process of elimination has taken place and that one is in a select group. And this brings me back to my starting point. Blindness is not a characteristic which selects for success. It strikes at random throughout the population. Yet, the National Federation of the Blind now has (and has always had) an unusually large number of capable, articulate leaders more than one would think possible under the circumstances. Why? One is almost tempted to believe that being a member of the National Federation is in itself a characteristic which selects for success. Examine our state and local leaders throughout the country, and ask yourself whether they do not compare quite favorably with the leaders of far larger groups groups which, by all logic, should have much more potential to draw from.

As a prime example, consider Professor Charles Hallenbeck, First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas. To say the least, his credentials are impressive. He is a professor of psychology and a member of that department's clinical psychology doctoral program faculty and its experimental psychology doctoral program faculty at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. Professor Hallenbeck earned a B.A. in social science from Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1953. He earned an M.A. in psychology (general-experimental) in 1957 and a Ph.D. in psychology (clinical) in 1960, both from Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve) in Cleveland, Ohio. Professor Hallenbeck was Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science at Washington University, St. Louis, from 1967 to 1969. He was a visiting scholar at the Carnegie-Mellon University Psychology Department in academic 1976-1977.

Before joining the faculty of the University of Kansas, Professor Hallenbeck served as research psychologist, then staff psychologist, and later chief psychologist at Highland View Hospital, a chronic disease and rehabilitation hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. He left that post for the Special Research Fellowship at Washington University in 1967, and after two years of study and research at that institution joined the University of Kansas faculty in 1969. He was promoted to associate professor in 1971 and to full professor in 1974. Professor Hallenbeck served as director of graduate studies in the psychology department from 1974 to 1976, during which time he initiated the integration of the somatopsychology/ rehabilitation doctoral program into the clinical psychology doctoral program. He was awarded sabbatical leave to attend Carnegie-Mellon University during 1976-1977. Professor Hallenbeck was co-founder and first chairman of the Association of Computing Machinery Special Interest Committee on Computers and the Physically Handicapped. He was co-organizer of the Cleveland International Conference on the Blind in Computing, held in Cleveland in 1970. He was selected as one of the two representatives of the United States at a conference in Moscow, U.S.S.R., sponsored by the Soviet government. He was a member of the University of Kansas Psychology Department's rehabilitation psychology program from 1982 to 1985. During his tenure as director of that program, Professor Hallenbeck initiated formal training opportunities at the University Medical Center for graduate students in rehabilitation psychology who wished to work with in-patients on the rehabilitation medicine unit.

Professor Hallenbeck's doctoral research attempted to differentiate between mental deterioration attributable to advancing age and that attributable to impaired brain function. His interest in neuropsychology has been a central thread in his career interests since that time. He has actively contributed to the area of technology and blindness and has been active in the development of computer-based alternatives for the blind. Professor Hallenbeck's teaching responsibilities have also concentrated on courses in neuropsychology and in the application of computing in psychology. He has supervised numerous doctoral dissertations and M.A. theses in these areas as well as in other aspects of rehabilitation and psychology. As I say, Professor Hallenbeck's credentials are impressive. But he finds time to participate on an active basis in the state and local affairs of the National Federation of the Blind. Recently he delivered the commencement address at the Kansas State School for the Visually Handicapped, and I want to share his remarks with you. They not only give insight into his personal philosophy but also the reasons for his success. Perhaps Federationism means caring coupled with understanding. If so, the characteristics which lead one to join the National Federation of the Blind may, indeed, be characteristics which select for success. Here is what Professor Hallenbeck said on May 22, 1988, to the graduating seniors at the Kansas State School for the Visually Handicapped:

First, keep peace within yourself, then you can bring peace to others.

Today is the day you have often thought about and the day you will often remember in future years. Today at last you finish, and today at last you begin. The ceremony that honors your passage today is called Commencement to remind you that nothing ends unless something else begins. Your formal education may end today, but your serious education may be about to begin. There are two ways to think about getting an education. The first way regards education as a kind of product, and getting educated is like the manufacture of an automobile. Automobiles are made in factories on assembly lines, where they are put together, painted, polished, and tested to see if they come up to specifications. Only finished products are delivered to the world, and their future performance depends on their design and their construction, as well as how they are driven and maintained. Perhaps your education has been like that. You are now completely put together, your bodies are painted and polished, your windshields sparkle, and your whitewalls are brilliant. You certainly have been tested enough, and you have met all specifications for your particular model. You are perfect now, at your peak and ready for the road. Of course, you can come back if you have trouble, but you should be good for five years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. There is another way to think about getting an education. It might be called the process view of education. According to this view, if you forget every fact you learned in school, you would still be well prepared for your futures. The process view says your education cannot be measured by how many facts have been drummed into you or how many you can produce intact on demand. Instead, your education is measured in your habits of mind, in your style and method of solving problems, in your resourcefulness as a person, and in your relationship with yourself and with others. It does not matter how many words are in your vocabulary: It is more important for you to know how to use a dictionary. As far as the factual content of your education is concerned, there is both good news and bad news to report. The good news is that about fifty percent of what you have learned in school is correct. The bad news is that nobody knows which fifty percent is correct and which is not. There is no need to despair; you may not have been cheated. You have the tools of thought to help you out of this predicament. You have the habits of mind and the resources that you need. You can and you must evaluate what you know to consider if it is really so, or if it needs revision. If you have learned how to learn and how to revise your knowledge separating the sound from the silly, you have been well educated. There is an important lesson to be learned from your class motto, First, keep peace within yourself, then you can bring peace to others. One meaning of keeping the peace is especially relevant to our lives today. Peace is kept by preventing or resolving conflicts which threaten to disturb the peace. Your inner peace and mine can be kept only if we can understand what it means to be blind in a world where most people are not. We need to understand and believe that it is respectable to be blind. We need to recognize that being blind is not the disaster it is commonly regarded. We need to believe and act as though being blind is neither more nor less important than being bald, or short, or black, or from Missouri. We need to know about and practice those alternative techniques that make it possible for the average blind person to compete on terms of equality with the average sighted person, performing the average job successfully and with pride. We need to be skeptical of what we are told about ourselves, being ready always to accept the sound and to reject the silly.

There is a paradox which you must eventually confront. The paradox is that our society is extraordinarily generous and positively oriented toward helping the blind, and yet damaging discrimination and erroneous conceptions of blindness are also plentiful and must be eradicated. You will be offered the easy path again and again, until you are in danger of preferring that path. You will be advised toward or away from some course of action because it is safer, until you will be in danger of believing that it is unsafe to be blind. Most such advice will be positively motivated in some sense but will be harmful because of the assumption it makes that to be blind is to be helpless, to be vulnerable, to be inferior. You will be asked to accept those assumptions about yourself as you accept the easy path and the safer road. Do not buy it. It is not a bargain. The cost is much too high. You will need to be on the watch for those whose living depends on helping you. You may need their help, and it is important to use it wisely and well. But never pay the price of your inner peace to obtain it. Remain true to your own dreams and goals. Take comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone, that others have been there already, and that what you want is not out of the question. Never listen to talk about feasible or realistic alternatives if it means giving up your heart's desire for the safe or easy way. Remember that the more you are made out to be in need of expert care and assistance, the more credit and honor goes to the professional helper. You are already the expert you need to be on matters of what it means to be blind.

You can keep the peace within yourself by exercising the resources you have acquired here these past few years. You are surely not a finished product, but you have the habits of mind, the tools of thought, and the alternative techniques you need to make it. It is time for you to commence, to begin the tasks ahead of you, and to join us as we change what it means to be blind. We are proud of you today; and if our future depends on you, it is in pretty good hands.

 

EDUCATING THE PUBLIC TO THE BLIND INDEPENDENCE WAS HER KEY TO SUCCESS

(This article by Joseph Hudon appeared in the April 29, 1988, Press-Register of Orland, California. It underscores the caliber of the Federation's local leaders throughout the country.)

Diane Starin's mother yielded to her twelve-year-old daughter's pestering, and finally bought her a horse. It was a safe horse decrepit, sick, and inexpensive.

As the twenty-nine-year-old Diane now puts it, She saw him, and figured he was too weak to hurt me.

Within a short but intense period of feeding and exercise, however, the horse returned to its former self and picked up lost ability.

The horse became such a runner that it promptly outran Diane's mother's car the first time she came to see her daughter ride, destroying her perception of the former struggling, sick, and weak horse.

But Diane's mother did not forbid her riding her horse so fast, despite her tender young age of twelve and the fact that she had been blind for over ten years.

Diane has been fighting it ever since not her blindness, but her right to ride her horses, her right to be treated as any other person, sighted or not.

As president of the newly formed Glenn-Tehama, California, chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, Starin would like to help the community come to understand blindness, a handicap that affects the bearer only as much as the public allows it to do so, she says.

Starin calls it only a minor inconvenience or a characteristic to be dealt with. She regards her major challenge as convincing the general public that she is quite capable of performing most of the tasks any sighted person might perform or perceiving many of the things others perceive with their eyes. Take for instance the doctor who walked up to her, walked to one side, walked to the other, then walked toward her, only to convince himself that she could not see. Certainly she could not, but she also certainly knew exactly what he was doing. That attitude persists.

Starin lost her eyesight at the age of eighteen months after surgery was performed on her eyes one had cancer of the optic nerve, and the other was to meet the same ends within three years. Her parents chose to take care of both eyes at the same time so she would learn to live with the inevitable blindness from an early age.

It was a choice that Starin says was the best decision her mother could have made.

The adjustment was made, and Starin grew up like any other child, while using alternate techniques to take advantage of her alternate use of senses.

I really have to hand it to my mom, she says. She was a very smart lady because she didn't have any other contact with parents with blind children, and her intelligent decision was to make sure that she raised me like other kids. So any time she had the urge to do something for me or help me, she would stop and ask herself, would I do that for the other kids? And if the answer was no, she wouldn't do that for me either. Starin was raised in the small town of South Sioux City, Nebraska, with her two sisters and moved to Sacramento in 1974, where she attended McClatchy High School. She had attended the Nebraska School for the Blind prior to moving to California. She earned a scholarship from the National Federation of the Blind while in high school and attended Sierra College in Rockland, where she earned a degree in suburban agriculture and a certificate in horse husbandry.

Her sterling performance in school, however, did not open doors for her in the so-called real world, where a blind person is often still considered crippled, and in many instances useless or less human. Starin applied at the Cheff Center in Michigan to take a course in teaching the handicapped to use the horse as a tool for rehabilitation. Among the initial qualifications that were required and had been fulfilled by Starin were a two-year college degree, prior work with handicapped children, and management of a commercial horse stable. She had managed the Sacramento Valley Polo Club.

It seemed that she would be a shoo-in, and she was. She received notice that she had been accepted.

Starin contacted the school the summer before she was to go and asked if there would be any materials that would have to be transcribed into Braille or cassette tapes. From that day on, the instructor became more intolerant of Starin's capability to take the course or teach once she was finished.

Two days prior to her departure to Michigan Starin received a phone call from the instructor, who urged her not to come because she wouldn't be able to handle it.

She went anyway, passed the individual courses in many of which she was top in her class without the aid of transcribed material, a lot of which had been lied about over the phone. When it came to teaching, the director refused to let her do it, despite her success in the course.

The dejected Starin returned to California minus $3,500 for a course she thought she would never use plus an experience that would draw her nearer her role in the National Federation of the Blind. Publicity first came to Starin when a free-lance reporter from Carmel, California, contacted her and wrote a story which appeared in a national horse magazine. As a result, the Federation planned to take on the Cheff Center and its treatment of Starin.

In the meantime a Texas horse facility contacted her in hopes of hiring her as manager, despite her not finishing the Cheff course.

All was well until the millionaire owner interviewed Starin, insulted her, then asked her to work for a wage low enough not to offset the Social Security she was receiving so that her earnings could be subsidized to reduce his cost. As always, Starin wished to be treated as any other citizen, and wished not to be supported by the government, or anybody. I said, `Look, the reason I want to work is to get off of Social Security. I want to be self-supporting,' she said. Through a misunderstanding in the Federation, a case against the Cheff Center was dropped, but Starin became more active in the group of some 60,000 members nationally. She began attending meetings in Sacramento, worked on committees, and last year traveled to Washington, D.C., to help educate Congress on the position of the Federation.

Starin makes it clear that the Federation wishes to alter laws that segregate the blind from sighted society and cost taxpayers money. It is for this reason that the Federation shuns groups that lobby for such items as audible traffic signals or barriers to keep the blind from falling into fountains. Starin and her husband Herb located in Orland last September on a mini-ranch and orchard on the west side of Interstate 5. It is there that the Glenn-Tehama Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind will meet for the first time. And it is there that the Starins may soon begin a horse hotel, catering to traveling race horses and show horses.

Starin is also hoping to return to school soon, where she plans on picking up a course in computers.

First and foremost, however, she will work to make the lives of this area's blind more livable, more enjoyable, and more comparable to the lives of the other citizens of the two counties. By informing the local public of the capabilities of the blind, she would like to help create a climate which would not deny a twelve-year-old girl her dearest dream that of sitting atop a horse and running like the wind.

 

MRS. O'LEARY MOVES TO PHILADELPHIA

by Barbara Pierce

After slogging through the muck and mismanagement detailed in "Of Cows and Fires" and the Associated Services for the Blind of Philadelphia in the February-March, 1988, Braille Monitor, readers might have been pardoned for thinking that things at ASB could not well be worse. But with humanity's infinite capacity to compound its errors, the ASB management and board have continued to outdo themselves in duplicity and disrespect for the blind. As usual, the strands of the story are knotted together, and untying them is slow and tedious work. But the blind of the nation deserve to know the truth, and those who conduct vendettas against us must learn that exposure is inevitable.

On January 21, 1988, Vincent McVeigh was named Executive Director of ASB. He took up his post on the following Monday, January 25. McVeigh had worked for more than seventeen years for the Elwyn Institute, an agency serving mentally retarded people. He had supervised some programs for blind clients of that agency, but he had no experience with fully functional, competent blind adults. Having become disenchanted with his position at the Elwyn Institute, McVeigh tendered his resignation last year in the hope of negotiating a better arrangement. Imagine his astonishment then, when his resignation was accepted and he found himself without a job! He managed to forge an agreement by which he could begin a terminal leave of absence in August, enabling him to complete the course work for his doctor of education degree at Temple University. When Michael Coyle resigned from the executive directorship at Associated Services in November, McVeigh, who was going to need a job soon, was very much interested.

When the ASB board gathered on January 21 to select an Executive Director, no other names or credentials were presented except Vincent McVeigh's. Board members were not even told whether there had been in-house candidates. The inner circle had chosen McVeigh, and McVeigh it would be. He was offered a one-year contract, a feature of the arrangement which he did not care for. Apparently the Executive Committee had learned from its recent experience with Benjamin Holmes to keep the executive director on a short leash until they could be sure of their man. In retrospect it seems clear that they were looking for a director who understood that dealing fairly and humanely with the workers and their union would not be tolerated. As you will see, McVeigh learned this lesson quickly; a multi- year contract is no doubt on his horizon now.

McVeigh came to work on January 25, 1988, and within the week he had concluded that one Brenda Kavanaugh, a sighted employee who was threatening to leave ASB, was just the person to become Director of Social Services, one of the responsibilities held by B. T. Kimbrough, Director of Services who, as Monitor readers know, is blind. Kimbrough was then named Director of Information and Technology Services. This new assignment reduces Kimbrough's area of responsibility. Fred Noesner, a blind ASB official, who directs the ASB store, had been until this time a member of the senior management team, entitled to attend staff meetings. With Kimbrough now directly supervising him, he showed up for a staff meeting one morning, only to be told that he was no longer a member of the senior team.

Shortly after this round of reorganizing, McVeigh took the opportunity of his own secretary's resignation to add duties to the job description and upgrade the position to Assistant to the Director. A blind employee who had been working closely with McVeigh's secretary was interested in applying for the new job but was told that a blind person could not do the job as now defined. Vincent McVeigh has apparently absorbed the dictum that blind clients and employees must be treated with skepticism and condescension. Throughout February rumors drifted around ASB to the effect that the loss of the Braille magazine contracts from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped would result in layoffs. On the morning of Friday, February 19, 1988, Lou McCarthy, president of the union, was handed a list of fifteen employees who were being discharged. ASB's attorney would later refer to these as layoffs, but the initial term used was separation. This term allows for two weeks' severance pay but no hope of later reinstatement.

The union contract, so long a matter of controversy before the National Labor Relations Board, had actually been ratified by the union on January 25 and by the ASB Board on February 8. An optimist, or even a pragmatist, might have assumed that ASB would have the sense to conduct its layoffs (or separations) in careful compliance with the provisions of the contract. These provided that layoffs should be based first on performance evaluations done annually and then according to seniority. The union was to be consulted in establishing the procedures by which a laid-off employee could exercise the right to bump another worker with less seniority from a job which the laid-off worker was able to do.

After years of dealing with ASB, McCarthy was not surprised to find that his name topped the list of severed workers despite his thirteen years' seniority. He did not receive his performance evaluation until after his separation notice, so it is hard to believe that job performance had much to do with his inclusion on the list. ASB officials told him that the fifteen workers had until 10:00 a.m. the following Monday to notify Dolores Godzieba, Director of the Braille Division, whether or not they were going to exercise their right to bump another worker. McCarthy asked if the union could have a little time to examine the list and suggest an alternative plan for conserving resources while saving jobs. McVeigh replied, You have an hour for lunch. How much time do you need?

The week that followed was filled with confusion, threats, and misinformation. When the dust settled, several things were clear. Though both union and nonunion members had been let go, no nonunion people ultimately lost their jobs except for one woman, who is seventy-four and whom ASB wants to consider as having retired. No union member was ever allowed to bump a nonunion employee with the exception of one part-time worker, who finally lost his job. New jobs were created for nonunion people who were laid off or bumped, but five union members lost their jobs: two men who were bumped by more senior workers; a deaf-blind man who could not find another job that he could do; a woman who had left on the day of the layoffs to be trained with a new dog guide; and McCarthy himself. McCarthy's story is instructive. On the Monday after the bomb was dropped, McCarthy served notice that he would exercise his right to bump. This took some doing because Godzieba was not to be found in her office prior to the 10 a.m. deadline. He did not know what job he would take because he was so senior that any available job would be a step down, and he wished to have time to think about his options. Two other workers postponed announcing their choices as well. Throughout the next several days they were harassed with demands to choose their new jobs, but the union contract did not put a time limit on this procedure, so they maintained that they should not be rushed into making these difficult choices. Wednesday afternoon at 3:10 McCarthy was told that he must make his choice by 3:30 or lose his right to bump. That deadline was extended to Thursday at 9:00 a.m. That morning he said again that he should not be compelled to make his choice yet, and management replied that he had therefore forfeited his right to bump.

McCarthy then advised the other two workers, neither of whom was a union member, that they had better choose jobs and tell management. On Friday the two women located Godzieba and David Brown, whose role in dealing with the union has always been central, and told them what jobs they would take. Their decisions were accepted and their jobs preserved. McCarthy followed them into conference with management to name the job he would bump into, but he was told that it was too late for him to make a choice. Despite the statement of the shop steward, who had been with the two women employees when they found Godzieba and Brown, management maintained that the two women had been called to the office to receive a warning like the one McCarthy had received on Thursday. They had responded by naming the jobs they wished to have, so they were safe. One is left with the clear impression that getting rid of McCarthy was perhaps the most important object in this whole exercise. If so, it only shows how slow ASB officials are to learn from past mistakes. In order to tell the rest of the story, we must step back and review the actions of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Readers will remember that in April of 1987, when the ballot box was opened, NLRB officials announced that the ASB workers had voted overwhelmingly in favor of a union. Workers have the right to choose whether or not to join the union, but beginning in April, 1987, the arduous task of writing a union contract with ASB began. From that time until the mid-August strike of blind workers, the union filed six charges of unfair labor practice against ASB. The NLRB agreed to hear all the charges and rule on them in February of this year.

When the ASB Board met to confirm McVeigh as Director at its January meeting, the ASB leaders were hopeful that they could avoid considering the contract which negotiators had completed until the regularly scheduled March 17 meeting. But the union ratification on January 25 and the imminent NLRB ruling apparently persuaded the ASB Executive Committee to call a special meeting February 8. A vocal and powerful group on the board led by Robert Apple, Joseph Gable, and David Robinson argued hard for refusing to sign the contract. The Board's attorney, Freedley Hunsicker, urged that it be signed. He had scathing things to say about the lack of sophistication of the union negotiators. He clearly thought that the union could have driven a much tougher bargain and that ASB should be happy to have the document it had. It should be noted in passing that blind workers rarely have the luxury of fielding high-priced attorneys to fight for them. The union members were fighting their own battle and doing a pretty fair job of it. Reluctantly the Board voted to ratify the contract at its February 8 meeting. The NLRB Regional Director meanwhile had been working to solve the problems listed in the union's collection of charges against ASB. The first time the NLRB is asked to rule on such charges in a dispute between management and a union, it attempts to present an agreement for both parties to sign instead of conducting a hearing. Immediately after the ASB Board's special meeting, the NLRB called the two parties to its offices for separate meetings in order to present its proposed agreement. At the Board meeting on the eighth, Apple and company were hotly insistent that ASB should not sign any agreement. The agency should make the union fight for everything; nothing should be given away. Cooler heads finally prevailed, and McVeigh was given the latitude to make the decision of whether or not to sign the agreement, but he could hardly have missed the message that union-bashing was the way to make powerful friends and allies on the ASB Board.

We here reprint the text of both the agreement signed by McVeigh and McCarthy and the notice which was to be posted prominently for sixty consecutive days in places where ASB employees gather. Note that the letter of reprimand placed in Lou McCarthy's personnel file at the time of the strike last August was to be removed and that ASB was required to assure employees that they had the right to form a union and conduct union business without retribution on the part of management. The notice makes it clear for all to see that, though ASB admitted no wrongdoing, the union charges against the agency had been very much to the point.

AGREEMENT

Associated Services for the Blind, Inc. (Employer) and ASB Employees Group (Union) hereby enter into the following agreement:

Conditioned upon the Employer's ratification of the collective-bargaining contract tentatively agreed upon by the parties on January 15, 1988, and the Employer's execution of the attached Settlement Agreement and Notice, the Union agrees to request withdrawal of all Section 8(a)(1) and (5) allegations contained in the Consolidated Complaint and Notice of Hearing in Cases 4-CA-16629, 4-CA- 16821, and 4-CA-16954 issued by the Regional Director of the Fourth Region of the National Labor Relations Board on January 27, 1988, (specifically paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11, and 13).

Representatives of Management and Union Officers and Stewards shall meet to discuss any mutual concern that may exist between the parties. This Agreement does not constitute a waiver by either party of any Statutory or contractual rights.

National Labor Relations Board

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

In the Matter of

Associated Services for the Blind, Inc.

Cases 4-CA-16629, 4-CA-16821

and 4-CA-16954

The undersigned Charged Party and the undersigned Charging Party, in settlement of the above matter, and subject to the approval of the Regional Director for the National Labor Relations Board, HEREBY AGREE AS FOLLOWS:

POSTING OF NOTICE Upon approval of this Agreement, the Charged Party will post immediately in conspicuous places in and about his plant/office, including all places where notices to employees/members are customarily posted, and maintain for 60 consecutive days from the date of posting, copies of the attached Notice made a part hereof, said Notices to be signed by a responsible official of the Charged Party and the date of actual posting to be shown thereon. In the event this Agreement is in settlement of a charge against a union, the union will submit forthwith signed copies of said Notice to the Regional Director who will forward them to the employer whose employees are involved herein, for posting, the employer willing, in conspicuous places in and about the employer's plant where they shall be maintained for 60 consecutive days from the date of posting.

COMPLIANCE WITH NOTICE The Charged Party will comply with all the terms and provisions of said Notice.

BACKPAY The Charged Party will make whole the employees named below by payment to each of them of the amount opposite each name. By executing this Agreement the Employer (Charged Party) does not admit that it has violated the Act or committed any wrongdoing whatsoever. Additional copies the notice will be produced by the Charged Party in Braille and posted next to each copy of the attached notice. Charged Party will supply the Regional Director with a copy of the Braille notice upon its posting.

REFUSAL TO ISSUE COMPLAINT In the event the Charging Party fails or refuses to become a party to this Agreement, and if in the Regional Director's discretion it will effectuate the policies of the National Labor Relations Act, the Regional Director shall decline to issue a Complaint herein ( or a new Complaint if one has been withdrawn pursuant to the terms of this Agreement ), and this Agreement shall be between the Charged Party and the undersigned Regional Director. A review of such action may be obtained pursuant to Section 102.19 of the Rules and Regulations of the Board if a request for same is filed within 14 days thereof. This Agreement is contingent upon the General Counsel sustaining the Regional Director's action in the event of a review. Approval of this Agreement by the Regional Director shall constitute withdrawal of any Complaint(s) and Notice of Hearing heretofore issued in this case, as well as any answer(s) filed in response.

PERFORMANCE Performance by the Charged Party with the terms and provisions of this Agreement shall commence immediately after the Agreement is approved by the Regional Director, or if the Charging Party does not enter into this Agreement, performance shall commence immediately upon receipt by the Charged Party of advice that no review has been requested or that the General Counsel has sustained the Regional Director.

NOTIFICATION OF COMPLIANCE The undersigned parties to this Agreement will each notify the Regional Director in writing what steps the Charged Party has taken to comply herewith. Such notification shall be given within 5 days, and again after 60 days, from the date of the approval of this Agreement. In the event the Charging Party does not enter into this Agreement, initial notice shall be given within 5 days after notification from the Regional Director that no review has been requested or that the General Counsel has sustained the Regional Director. Contingent upon compliance with the terms and provisions hereof, no further action shall be taken in this case.

NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES

Posted Pursuant to a

Settlement Agreement

Approved By A Regional Director

Of The National Labor Relations Board

An Agency of the

United States Government

We post this Notice to inform you of the rights guaranteed to you in the National Labor Relations Act.

The Act gives all employees these rights: To engage in self organization; To form, join, or assist any union; To bargain as a group through a representative they choose; To act together for collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection; and To refuse to do any or all of these things.

WE WILL NOT issue written disciplinary warnings to, or otherwise discriminate against, our employees because they support or are active on behalf of ASB Employees Group. WE WILL NOT issue written disciplinary warnings to, or otherwise discriminate against, our employees because they threaten to file charges with the Board or give testimony under the Act. WE WILL remove from the personnel file of Louis R. McCarthy and from our other records, and destroy, all copies of the memorandum of warning issued to McCarthy on August 14, 1987. This is an official notice and must not be defaced by anyone. This notice must remain posted for 60 consecutive days from the date of posting and must not be altered, defaced, or covered by any other material. Any questions concerning this notice or compliance with its provisions may be directed to the Board's Office, National Labor Relations Board, Fourth Region, One Independence Mall, Seventh Floor, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106; Telephone: (215) 597-7601.

After McVeigh and McCarthy signed the agreement, the Regional Director of the NLRB had ten days in which to sign it and settle the matter. During those days the separation notices were issued, and it was back to the battle stations again. On February 22 the union filed seven more charges of unfair labor practice with the NLRB, and on April 18 two more were added to the collection. The Regional Director, seeing the handwriting on the wall, did not bother to sign the agreement but postponed the settlement until the new charges could be considered. At this writing (late in May) it is not clear when that may happen.

On the Monday after McCarthy's last day of work, the union filed for injunctive relief with the NLRB in an attempt to stop the layoffs from taking effect. In the course of the verbal skirmishing that took place McVeigh inquired whether McCarthy would consider dropping the new charges of unfair labor practice if he were to be offered a job again at ASB. McCarthy assured McVeigh that he could not be bribed and that the charges would stand. McVeigh later let it be known that he had talked with the heads of all ASB departments to see if anyone was willing to make room for McCarthy and that no one would because he was a troublemaker. By ASB standards he undoubtedly was one, but the remarkable point is that a reliable source in at least one department reports that no inquiry about a possible job was made there at all.

The whole history of ASB's dealings with and treatment of its blind workers and the union formed to provide them the ordinary protection other American workers have had for fifty years is sordid and deeply disturbing. The NLRB functions with all deliberate speed, so months and perhaps years will no doubt elapse before all of attorney Freedley Hunsicker's appeals on behalf of ASB will have run their course. Meantime, Lou McCarthy, the leader and driving force of the union, is gone. The workers are dispirited and cowed. Only the Federation is left on the field of battle.

In January McVeigh began his tenure as Director with the clear intention to woo and win the NFB if he could. In the early weeks of his administration he made a point of calling Betsy Gerhart, First Vice President of the NFB of Pennsylvania, almost weekly. Parenthetically it should be mentioned that these friendly contacts suddenly ceased at just about the time that the first article about ASB appeared in the Monitor . McVeigh called a meeting of area Federation leaders for February 18, 1988. Rumors of the impending layoffs were circulating, so the Federationists met with McVeigh to see what they could learn. In retrospect it is clear that McVeigh was prepared to say almost anything to lull the Federation on the eve of the ambush of the union. For starters McVeigh indicated that he would recommend that three members of the NFB of Pennsylvania be added to the ASB Board and that two of them serve on the Executive Committee. However, this recommendation was not mentioned at the March 17 Board meeting, and no one seriously expects ever to hear McVeigh mention it again. Next McVeigh told the delegation that he personally agreed with many of the suggestions made in the NFB-P position paper reprinted in the February-March Braille Monitor . He expressed interest in talking with the directors of the training centers in Louisiana, Colorado, and Minnesota in order to learn more about the possibility of having cane travel taught by blind instructors. Needless to say, no contacts have been or are likely to be made. In the course of this meeting, which took place the day before the fifteen separations were handed to the union president, Betsy Gerhart asked McVeigh about the rumors. He assured the group that any layoffs that took place would be done in accordance with contract provisions. There would be no reprisals for union activity. McVeigh didn't know whose names might be on the list, but layoffs would be made according to seniority, and people would be trained to do new jobs if they bumped into jobs for which training was needed.

Honesty and integrity still seem to be in short supply at the management level of ASB. The NFB of Pennsylvania is far from giving up in its struggle to seek redress for the blind community of Philadelphia. Pat Comorato, one of the leaders in Pennsylvania, still sits on the ASB Board surely one of the loneliest and most thankless jobs being done by a Federationist anywhere in the country today. Also, the affiliate has sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Attorney General in the hope that state officials may be disturbed by some of the practices ASB has engaged in recently. The letter speaks for itself:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

May 1, 1988

The Honorable Leroy Zimmerman

Office of the Attorney-General

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. Zimmerman:

The National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania is the largest organization of blind people in the Commonwealth. The NFB has a membership of 50,000 nationwide and an affiliate in each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. As consumers of services to the blind, we believe strongly that the Associated Services for the Blind of Philadelphia (ASB), a Pennsylvania not-for-profit corporation, has violated the public trust. The information set forth in this letter will support our allegation. The people who are supposed to benefit from the services and from the fund-raising activities of this agency are being short-changed. We request that your office conduct a thorough investigation and remedy this most serious matter. We believe that Robert Apple, Vice President of the Board of Directors, benefits from his membership on the Board. He owns a company which provides insurance for agency employees and for the agency. No bids were solicited from other insurance companies. In fact, there was never an actual Board vote to use Mr. Apple's company. This decision was made by the Executive Committee, fifteen members of a fifty-four-person board. Mr. Apple sits on the Executive Committee and voted on the decision to contract with his company; consequently, Mr. Apple benefits financially as a result of his position on the Board of Directors. Thomas Unkefer, another member of the Board of Directors who sits on the Executive Committee, owns a construction company. ASB received a grant of $250,000 from the Glen-Mead Trust to remodel its lobby and first floor. The contract was awarded to Mr. Unkefer's construction company. No bids were sought from other contractors. Mr. Unkefer chairs the Building Committee, which made the recommendation.

ASB entered into an exclusive contract with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) to provide paratransit service for the President of the Board of Directors, Ms. Joanne Davidoff. This service, paid for by agency funds, is provided only for Ms. Davidoff and is not available for other staff members. SEPTA's paratransit serves only Philadelphia County. Ms. Davidoff lives in Montgomery County and therefore is not eligible for this service.

We believe that the allegations set forth in this letter warrant a thorough investigation by your office. We are certain that such an investigation would uncover a number of violations of the law. We also request a major audit of the agency's books. Frequently the full Board of Directors is not given an opportunity to vote on important contracts entered into and informal deals made. Rather, they are decided upon by the Executive Committee, many of whose members personally benefit from their service on the Board.We would appreciate an opportunity to meet with your investigators to provide affidavits which will support the allegations made in this letter.

Sincerely,

Terry McManus
President
National Federation of the Blind
of Pennsylvania

The Federation has also been conducting an intensive public education campaign. To date more than four thousand leaflets exposing the facts about ASB have been handed to Philadelphians. Many are frankly incredulous at what they read. It is the old story all over again: people cannot believe that an agency created to assist the blind could behave as ASB has and does.

But we know just how frequently it happens. The actions of these so-called professionals and of the community leaders who work with them on their boards have inflicted incalculable damage on blind workers and clients. In Philadelphia they have done their best to destroy a union, and they have acted with arrogance and insincerity toward blind individuals and consumer representatives. With no respect for the capacity or rights of the blind people they are supposed to be serving, they are determined to have their own way, even if the blind are damned in the process. At least Mrs. O'Leary's cow had the excuse of being a dumb animal.

 

DON'T DANCE IT'S FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY

(The following letter from Richard Fox to David Arocho appears in the Spring, 1988, Blind New Yorker, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of New York State. When you don't want to do a thing or when you feel uncomfortable with it or don't understand it, just say your refusal to be reasonable is based on your concern for the other person's safety.)

Dear David:

It has been nine months since I moved from New York City to Danbury, Connecticut. I miss my friends in the New York State affiliate very much, and I send you my warmest greetings. My activities in New York have not ceased altogether. However, one of them has resulted in a case of discrimination. Around Thanksgiving of last year Sharlene Czaja and I decided to take lessons in ballroom dancing. I had a school already in mind, the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Manhattan. At a promotional event held there about three years ago, I was fox-trotted, waltzed, and rumbaed around a crowded floor by teachers who exhibited vigor, skill, and no apparent worries about my blindness. A few days before Christmas Sharlene and I entered the school with high hopes. I thought our eagerness was reciprocated, especially when we signed up for a package of private lessons costing over $500. As our instructions progressed, anticipation turned first to puzzlement, then to suspicion, and finally to the conviction that something was dreadfully wrong with the way we were being treated.

We had our lessons in a small room while the vast majority of private students took theirs simultaneously in a large ballroom, where they all had separate teachers. We were told that practice parties, bi-weekly events intended to simulate a social dancing atmosphere, were reserved for those who had reached a certain level of competency. Other students, along with the school's own literature, made it clear that these were open to all. We had an ever-increasing feeling of isolation in an activity which, above all, is social in nature.

We decided to talk with Raymond Landry, the school's president. We hoped to be diplomatic not confrontational, educational not hostile.

Our hopes were dashed by Mr. Landry's arrogant, defensive, and condescending attitude towards us.

He said he was shocked when he learned of our blindness and considered it discourteous that we did not notify him of this fact before we entered his establishment on the first occasion. I don't want you dancing in the ballroom or attending practice parties, he explained, because it gets crowded. This is for your protection and the protection of our other students. I don't want any collisions. When Sharlene put forward the abstruse argument that instruction in a hectic environment would be the only way there was to prepare us for evenings in hectic dance halls, Mr. Landry's reply was equally subtle: Dance halls! Richard, what will you do with your dog in a dance hall, and how will both of you know where the dance floor ends and the real floor begins? My dog, Visa, seems to cause Mr. Landry particular dismay. When I asked him why I was being treated so differently from the way I had been three years ago, he replied that the reasons were simple. Then I had been accompanied by a sighted couple and not a blind woman, and I didn't have a dog.

The conversation continued in this vain about a half hour, whereupon Mr. Landry announced he was quite irritated with us. I suppose he felt we were not sufficiently grateful for the services we had received. Since our discussion provoked hostility rather than understanding, we have filed a discrimination complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

This experience has taught me that discrimination is much more fun and exciting to read about than it is to live through. I am again reminded of the value of my association with the Federation. As I brace myself for the battle to come, I am aware that I bring to it not only my own strength but the collective power and wisdom of 50,000 Federationists. Please give me your prayers and your support in this endeavor. Together we are unstoppable.

Cordially,

Richard Fox

 

BLINDNESS AND THE POLITICAL PROCESS

by Homer Page

(This article underscores something which we have often said. The National Federation of the Blind is not engaged in partisan politics. However, we do strongly urge our members and leaders to support candidates and be active politically. Peggy Pinder, Second Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind and President of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, is a staunch Republican and is working hard for the election of George Bush as President. Many other Federationists are also active Republicans.

(Note) At least as many are enthusiastic Democrats. As this article demonstrates, Homer Page of Colorado is one of these. Dr. Page is Deputy Mayor of Boulder, Colorado, and a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is also one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado and of the national movement. Here is Dr. Page's account of his work for Michael Dukakis.)

(NOTE) On May 20, 1988, I was chosen to represent Colorado's 2nd Congressional District at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. I was committed to the candidacy of Michael Dukakis. My selection culminated over six months of intense involvement in the nominating process.

The political process is often long and almost always hard work, but it can also be quite rewarding. Certainly all of this has been true for me as I have participated in the 1988 Presidential selection process. In the fall of 1987 I began to think about the upcoming presidential election. I decided that I would choose a candidate and work for that person. I also decided that I would try to become a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Colorado is a caucus state. This means that national delegates are chosen through a complex three-tiered system which begins at the precinct level, moves to the county, and concludes at either the Congressional District or the State Conventions. One gets selected to be a national delegate by becoming affiliated with a candidate's campaign and contributing visible work and leadership. In other words one must pay his dues and one must support a candidate who, when May rolls around, will have some support.

In November, 1987, when I assessed the field of potential candidates, there were three who appeared to me to have a chance to win the Party's nomination. They were Richard Gephart, Mario Cuomo, and Michael Dukakis. I believed that Congressman Gephart was too conservative and Governor Cuomo was too indecisive. Michael Dukakis, on the other hand, had a solid financial base, a national network of supporters which he had built while chairing the National Governor's Conference, and he also had deep roots into the Eastern European ethnic voter block, which is the single largest ethnic population in the nation. These factors gave him a major edge on his rivals, but equally important to me was my feeling of philosophical compatibility and my confidence in the personal integrity of Governor Dukakis. I had made up my mind to support Michael Dukakis when I received a phone call over the Thanksgiving weekend from Alice Wolfe, Vice Mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts. I had served with Alice on the Human Development Steering Committee of the National League of Cities. She was recruiting local elected officials who would endorse Governor Dukakis at an upcoming press conference which was to be held at the National League of Cities Annual Convention in Las Vegas. The press conference was scheduled for December 15. I agreed to join the Dukakis campaign and participate in it. I spoke with Governor Dukakis at the NLC convention and took part in the press conference. The morning of the Dukakis press conference Gary Hart announced that he was getting back into the race. Since I was the only elected official from Colorado who participated in the Dukakis press conference, I received many of the questions from the large group of media representatives who were present.

After the press conference I met with Alice Travis, the Deputy Director of the Dukakis campaign for political affairs. We discussed my involvement in Colorado.

I told Ms. Travis that I had a good deal of experience working with political campaigns and that as a blind person I often initially was not taken seriously. However, I could be very helpful to the campaign. My only requirement was that my blindness would not be an issue. She said that she understood what I was saying and that she was sorry that I had to say it, but she knew that the issues which I raised were real. She guaranteed me that I would be treated with respect within the campaign and that the same hard demands would be placed upon me as upon any local official who was willing to commit to the Michael Dukakis candidacy.

Upon returning to Colorado, I began to work with the Dukakis campaign. Soon I was deeply involved. My responsibilities included chairing the Boulder County and 2nd Congressional District Dukakis for President Committees and serving on the State Steering Committee. The Colorado precinct caucuses were held on April 4, just nine days after the Michigan caucuses had projected Jesse Jackson into a prominent position. Colorado seemed at that time to be a crucial state. Another Jackson win would have given him all important momentum. Boulder County is the location of the University of Colorado. It is the type of community where the Jackson campaign had done well. Calls came from the national campaign office urging us on. In the end Dukakis carried Boulder County, the 2nd Congressional District, and the State. The following day he won in Wisconsin, and the handwriting was on the wall.

One may ask, Why get involved with the political process? It takes time and work, and it often requires the expenditure of one's own hard-earned cash. The answer is not too difficult. I enjoy the political process, it is a challenge, and it is exciting. I also believe that as a citizen of a democratic nation, I have duty to be involved. Yet, there is more. I am blind. We who are blind face overt discrimination and more subtle prejudice on a daily basis. We have been denied opportunities, and we have been told that it is due to our limitations. I participate in the political process to gain the power and the influence to change this state of affairs for myself and for others. I have won the right to participate in the Democratic National Convention. I can raise questions and ask for support from this national political body to deal with issues such as the discrimination that blind persons face at the hands of the airlines. I will be able to discuss new approaches to rehabilitation and factors affecting the education of blind children. The political process is long and involves hard work, but I believe it is worth it.

 

A FEDERATION VICTORY: BLIND PARENT WINS UNRESTRICTED CHILD CARE LICENSE

by Sharon Gold

Debra Duncan is a wife and the mother of two beautiful little girls. For more than eighteen years, Debbie has cared for the children of other parents and, at all times, has been in demand to provide child care services. In April 1986, Debbie made application to the Sacramento County Department of Social Welfare for a Family Day Care Home for Children License for six children. One week later and in response to her application, a Licensing Evaluator/Social Worker for the County of Sacramento, Department of Social Welfare, visited Debbie's home for the usual announced home visit to see if there were any deficiencies before licensing the home. During her visit, the social worker identified four deficiencies which Debbie was required to correct before the license could be approved. It is not unusual for homes to have deficiencies which must be cleared to meet the specific requirements of the County such as child-proof locks on kitchen cabinets and medicine cabinets, decals on sliding glass doors to mark the glass panes, and the preparation of an approved disaster plan. Debbie agreed to correct the deficiencies in her home that day and the social worker agreed to return the next day to clear the deficiencies. When the licensing evaluator left Debbie's home, she advised Debbie that everything was in order for the license and that all Debbie needed to do was to correct the four deficiencies and the social worker would sign the deficiencies off the next day and approve the home. The social worker also said that Debbie could expect to receive her Family Day Care License in about a week after the approval of the home. The next day, May 1, the social worker returned to Debbie's home for the announced follow-up visit, cleared the four deficiencies, and approved the licensing report clearing the home for a Family Day Care License. During this visit, the licensing evaluator inquired as to whether Debbie intended to have her husband on the license since Debbie is blind and her husband, Larry, is sighted. Debbie explained that she applied for the license because she was the one who cared for the children. The social worker became hostile as she began questioning Debbie about blindness. Debbie answered all of the questions raised by the social worker concerning the alternative techniques she used to care for children. The next day, the social worker telephoned Debbie to say that her supervisor was denying Debbie's application for the Family Day Care Home for Children License for six children, unless Debbie would put her husband on the license or otherwise allow the stipulation of a sighted assistant. Following that telephone conversation, Debbie contacted the National Federation of the Blind of California for assistance. We immediately made contact with the Sacramento County Department of Social Welfare and had two lengthy discussions by telephone with Tom Stinson, the supervisor who denied the license. The Department's answer was to call Debbie and to request another home visit to discuss blindness. We advised Debbie not to allow the social worker to return to her home. After all, the home was approved for a Family Day Care Home for Children License and a return visit to the home was not common procedure in the licensing process. Debbie told the social worker that she would be pleased to go to the County Welfare Office to discuss blindness with the worker and/or her Supervisor. During this and a number of subsequent telephone conversations, the social worker refused to make an appointment to meet with her in the County Welfare Office to discuss blindness. This offer for a meeting was repeated in correspondence from the National Federation of the Blind of California, in which the county was reminded that Debbie's home was approved, that California law prohibited discrimination against a blind applicant for a license, and that the County had a responsibility to issue Debbie the license or provide her with an appropriate letter of denial. In early June, the social worker sent Debbie a form letter, which is used to close active day care licenses at the request of the licensee. The form contained an additional statement which had been written on it which said that Debbie had been non-cooperative and thus her license was closed. But of course, Debbie did not have a license to be closed since none had ever been issued.

When the use of a wrong form and the failure to issue or deny the license was brought to the County's attention, the social worker again sent Debbie the same form letter which repeated that Debbie had been non-cooperative and that the still unissued license would be closed effective July 10, 1986. The intent here was to pressure Debbie into having the social worker and her supervisor come to her home so that Debbie could perform for them to show that she could measure up to the task of a child care provider. Debbie stood firm and did not succumb to the pressure. She wanted no part of being the provider of a dog and pony show for the social worker and her supervisor. It should noted that at no time was Debbie advised that she had any right to appeal the action of the County Welfare Department and at no time during the preceding three months was Debbie given a properly executed denial of the application for the Family Day Care Home for Children License. In early August of 1986 the National Federation of the Blind of California filed with the State of California a request for a hearing concerning the effective denial by non- response of the County of Debra Duncan's application for a Family Day Care Home for Children License for six children. On August 14, in response to our filing, Tom Stinson, the Social Service Supervisor of the Sacramento County Department of Social Services, sent Debbie a written denial of her April 22, 1986, application for a Family Day Care Home for Children License. He claimed that Debbie had refused a site visit to discuss requirements for licensing. The National Federation of the Blind of California filed an appeal from this denial.

Months went past and neither Debbie nor the National Federation of the Blind of California received any communication from the Sacramento County Department of Social Welfare or the California Department of Social Services. Following a threat to petition the court to compel the State of California to hear Debra Duncan's case, I received in late April of 1987 a telephone call from a staff attorney for the State of California Department of Social Services. This attorney wanted to set up a meeting between Debbie and representatives of the Sacramento County Social Welfare Office and claimed that she wanted to settle immediately the issue of Debbie's license. The attorney from the Department of Social Services and I held a negotiating conference during which we planned a meeting between Debbie and representatives of the Sacramento County Department of Social Welfare. We agreed to some specific rules and guidelines for this meeting, and it was scheduled for April 30, 1987. Representing the Sacramento County Department of Social Welfare at the April 30 meeting were Tom Stinson, the supervisor, one of his assistants, and the licensing evaluator/social worker. The staff attorney and a paralegal represented the Legal Affairs Division of the Department of Social Services of the State of California. Debbie and her husband attended the meeting, and I was present on behalf of Debbie and the National Federation of the Blind of California.

During this meeting, Debbie answered questions developed by the Department of Social Services and asked by Tom Stinson. Among these questions asked of Debbie were Describe the floor plan of your home. How will you know if a child is unconscious in your backyard? Do you know when, how, and what to feed children? and What would you do if one child snatched a sandwich from another child?

Debbie was advised by Mr. Stinson that these questions were designed to educate the Department on blindness and to assist the representatives in determining her eligibility for the Family Day Care Home for Children License. After about one hour of questioning, during which Debbie was asked more than twenty-five questions, the State and County representatives excused themselves to go to another office for a private discussion. They returned in approximately one-half hour. Mr. Stinson announced that although Debbie had answered all of the questions to his satisfaction, and although he would feel comfortable at leaving his own child in her care, he would not issue to Debbie the Family Day Care Home for Children License for six children for which she had applied. As he did in May 1986, Mr. Stinson offered Debra Duncan a license for six children with the stipulation of a sighted assistant. One of the problems we faced was that there were several blind persons in California who were holding a license for a Family Day Care Home for six children and who had succumbed to the restriction of a sighted assistant. No blind person held an unrestricted license for six children.

We left the meeting room, filed for an administrative hearing, and put out a call for help from Federationists across the country. Our Federation network immediately apprised us of blind persons who are involved in child care. In reading and comparing the laws of some states with the laws of California, we found that California was significantly regressive in its general practices of licensing family day care homes as well as in its attitudes toward the blind as child care providers. Serving as examples in our comparison of state laws and attitudes were such states as North Carolina, Missouri, and New Mexico. The state that we found having the oldest practice of not discriminating against the blind seeking a child care license was New Mexico. The state having undergone the most recent attitude change was Missouri, where two years ago the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri won a child care license for a blind Missourian. To document our findings, we gathered sworn affidavits from around the country and filed these affidavits in the matter of Debra Duncan, which was before the Department of Social Services of the State of California.

Four of these affidavits are reprinted here as follows:

AFFIDAVIT OF PAULINE GOMEZ

I, Pauline Gomez, hereby swear and depose:

1. My name is Pauline Gomez.

2. I reside at 329 East Buena Vista Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87501.

3. I am legally blind.

4. For more than thirty years, I was self-employed and provided child care and educational programs for preschool children.

5. I have been retired since 1983.

6. In the early years of my work with preschool children, New Mexico did not require a license for day care providers.

7. In the early 1950's, the New Mexico Department of Health established requirements for a day care license. I was issued an unrestricted day care license with the State's having full knowledge of my blindness.

8. The license described in Paragraph #7 was issued each succeeding year, and I annually applied for and received a renewal.

9. Throughout my career as a day care specialist and preschool teacher, I supervised groups of children ranging in number from six to thirty-five and in age from toddlers to five years.

10. The rules set forth by the New Mexico Department of Health were applicable alike to all persons, including blind persons, and I was never required to have a sighted person present when supervising the children.

11. The New Mexico Regulations required that all day care providers must have additional adult help if the group of children exceeded a specific number. (I think that the number was eleven.)

12. At no time during my career as a day care provider, who happened to be blind, did any child under my supervision sustain a serious injury, nor were there any discipline problems that I could not handle. AFFIDAVIT OF CAROL COULTER

I, Carol Coulter, hereby swear and depose:

1. My name is Carol Coulter.

2. My address is 2504 Glenn Drive, Columbia, Missouri, 65202.

3. I am legally blind.

4. In 1985, I took a job at a day care center where I became the lead teacher supervising one adult worker and nine children.

5. I now manage a day care facility in Columbia, Missouri, where I supervise and care for the children of others.

6. I hold an unrestricted certificate issued by the Missouri Division of Family Services, which licenses me to conduct a day care service for six children ages zero to twelve. A true copy of this certificate is attached hereto.

7. At no time during my career as a day care provider, who happens to be blind, have any children under my supervision sustained serious injury, nor have there been any discipline problems which I could not handle.

AFFIDAVIT OF LINDA SHEVLIN

I, Linda Shevlin, hereby swear and depose:

1. My name is Linda Shevlin.

2. I reside at 217-C Millbrook Road, Raleigh, North Carolina 27609.

3. I am legally blind.

4. For more than fifteen years, I have been providing child care to groups of children. These groups have ranged in size from four to eighteen children.

5. From 1984 until April, 1987, I worked for the Hayes Barton Baptist Church, of Raleigh, North Carolina, where I supervised eight to ten children each day.

6. I currently work for the Edenton Street Methodist Church of Raleigh, North Carolina, where I supervise twelve to fourteen children each day.

7. For the churche set forth in Paragraph five, I work as a Mother's Day-Out Teacher with toddlers ranging in age from fourteen months to two years old.

8. On Sundays, I teach Sunday School and run the toddler child care program for the Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church of Raleigh, North Carolina, where I have from four to sixteen children in both the Sunday School class and in the toddler child care program.

9. I also run a Wednesday night child care program for the Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church, where I supervise from two to six infants, toddlers, and children through the age of five years.

10. If the Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church has a need to offer child care during a special program being offered by the church, I am called to run this child care service.

11. At no time have children who have been under my supervision sustained serious injury, nor were there discipline problems which I could not handle.

AFFIDAVIT OF RAMONA WALHOF

I, Ramona Walhof, hereby swear and depose:

1. My name is Ramona Walhof.

2. My address is 1301 South Capitol Boulevard, Boise, Idaho 83706.

3. I am legally blind.

4. I am the mother of two sighted teen-age children, whose father was also blind. My husband died when our children were babies and thus I have raised my son and daughter as a single parent.

5. I have worked in the Head Start Program and have been charged with the sole supervision of groups of sighted children. At no time did the children sustain serious injury while under my supervision, nor were there discipline problems which I could not handle.

6. When my children were small, I used day care programs to care for my children while I worked. One of the day care programs which I used was managed by a blind person. This day care manager solely and competently attended to all of my children's needs, including feeding, bathing, and other personal care and supervised indoor and outdoor play.

7. For now more than twenty years, I have been employed in work with the blind.

8. I have worked as a teacher, supervisor, and have served as Assistant Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, Director for the National Blindness Information Center, and am the former Director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind.

9. I currently work as Director of the Outreach Office for the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho.

10. I am the author of many published articles on blindness. My article, I Am a Blind Mother Fighting to Keep My Children from Corruption, appeared on pages 96 through 101 of the Braille Monitor , April, 1978, published by the National Federation of the Blind, and is attached hereto as Exhibit #1.

11. I am the author of several books on blindness. My book, Questions Kids Ask About Blindness , published by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, is attached hereto as Exhibit #2. Other books I have written address the subject of blindness as it concerns post-secondary education, employment and career development, senior citizens, etc.

12. In my work with the blind, I have been in touch with thousands of blind children and adults throughout the country. I currently know and have known blind parents, who have successfully raised large families, and I currently know and have known blind adults who competently and successfully operate day care programs.

Because the term legal blindness is used in these affidavits it should not be assumed that none of the people involved is totally blind, for such is not the case. These four affidavits were an important part of the evidence which we collected. Federationist Fred Schroeder, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, served as a consultant in the development of the Duncan Case. Mr. Schroeder planned to travel to California and serve as an expert witness at the time of the administrative hearing. The support given by Federationists throughout the country was critical in bringing this case to a successful conclusion. It was a classic example of the National Federation of the Blind in Action. Federationists felt a strong camaraderie and knew that this case would set a precedent for other blind persons everywhere in the country wishing to seek a Family Day Care License in the future.

Not only did Federationists come forward in support of Debbie, but parents of children for whom Debbie had previously provided child care also rallied to the cause with affidavits, as did parents of children for whom she was currently providing care. The affidavits of these parents speak for themselves. Here are three of them:

AFFIDAVIT OF KATRINA HEXBERG

I, Katrina Hexberg, hereby swear and depose:

1. My name is Katrina Hexberg.

2. I reside at 4119 Zephyr Way, Sacramento, California, 95821.

3. I am the mother of a two year old daughter, named Marte, who is my first child.

4. Debra Duncan has been caring for my daughter since she was a tiny infant, and I have never been concerned for my child's health or safety while she was in Mrs. Duncan's care.

5. Mrs. Duncan changes my daughter's diapers, administers medicine to her, prepares her meals, feeds her, and does everything necessary to care for her including maintaining discipline in the child care setting.

6. As a new mother, I was very worried about leaving my baby with a complete stranger for nine to ten hours a day, five days a week. After interviewing Mrs. Duncan by telephone and in her home, I knew that I had found just the person to take care of my daughter.

7. My daughter is now two years old and considers Mrs. Duncan's home her second home.

8. Debra Duncan's blindness does not handicap her in any way that would make her ineligible to care for children in her own home. Her conscientiousness and alertness have overcome her blindness so well that it may, in this case, be considered a mere inconvenience.

9. By the sounds the children make, Mrs. Duncan knows exactly where they are and what they are doing.

10. Debra Duncan's home is always hazard-free, and she is the first to notice a potentially dangerous situation.

11. Debra Duncan has never failed to notice a rash or bruise on my daughter and is often the first to notice the beginnings of a fever.

12. If I had another child, I would take it to Debra Duncan for child care, and I recommend her to other parents.

AFFIDAVIT OF VICKIE L. WERTZ

I, Vickie L. Wertz, hereby swear and depose:

1. My name is Vickie L. Wertz.

2. I reside at 6717 Birnam Street, Rio Linda, California, 95673.

3. I am the mother of a boy, Brandon, who is three and one- half years old.

4. When my son was four months old, I employed Debra Duncan to serve as his babysitter. She cared for my son for about two and one-half years.

5. While my son was in her care, Mrs. Duncan bathed, clothed, fed, and changed him and provided a healthy environment for play activities for him.

6. While in Mrs. Duncan's care, my child was happy and content to be taken to her home and was always clean no matter when I came to pick him up.

7. When my son was about eight months old, I thought it would be more convenient for me to use a different babysitter. However, my son was unhappy, frequently cried, and was poorly kept. I returned him to the care of Mrs. Duncan where he immediately returned to being a happy and clean baby.

8. I have nothing but praise for Debra Duncan as a babysitter.

She was always aware of what the children were doing and truly cared for them as if they were her own.

9. I have referred several parents to Debra Duncan and would not hesitate to take another child of my own to her for child care services, if I should have one.

AFFIDAVIT OF PAULA J. ROBINSON

I, Paula J. Robinson, hereby swear and depose:

1. My name is Paula J. Robinson.

2. I reside at 6112 Ogden Nash, Sacramento, California, 95842.

3. I have two daughters, ages ten years and two years.

4. When my ten-year-old was a toddler, Debra Duncan cared for her in a child care setting.

5. Many years later, after the birth of my second child, I again sought Debra Duncan to be my babysitter.

6. I have always felt very secure in the child care and parenting capabilities of Mrs. Duncan.

7. One time, while Mrs. Duncan was visiting in my home, my oldest daughter was choking on the pull tab from a soda can. Mrs. Duncan noticed the unusual sounds coming from my child and took full control of the situation before I even realized what was happening. Debra Duncan dislodged the tab from my daughter's throat.

8. Debra Duncan takes great precautions in providing a safe environment, and she is always aware of the safety of the children in her care.

9. I believe that one of the greatest attributes of Mrs. Duncan is her ability to communicate with children. The children communicate with her by bringing her something they might find or by taking her hand and guiding her to toys. They learn at an early age of their own sense of touch and smell, and they have begun talking much earlier than normal.

10. My second child was under the care of Mrs. Duncan when she was denied a Family Day Care License, at which time she was no longer able to care for the child. I was unable to find another day care program for my child which provided stimulation and communication for my daughter of the quality offered by Mrs. Duncan. I therefore closed my business and am remaining at home with my child.

As with the affidavits from Federationists, the testimony of the parents was compelling and irrefutable. We were within one week of the administrative hearing when the Department of Social Services requested that we have a settlement conference before an Administrative Law Judge. We agreed to hold the settlement conference on July 16, 1987. The conference lasted more than three hours as we went back and forth trying to reach some amenable resolution of the problem. We maintained our position that Debra Duncan was competent and deserving of the unrestricted Family Day Care Home for Children License which she sought. We further held the position that the State of California was discriminating against Debbie because of blindness and that the State was preventing her from gainful employment because of this discrimination. The State of California's position was that there were other blind persons in California holding the Family Day Care License for six children with the restriction of a sighted assistant. Therefore, there was a precedent which required blind persons to have sighted assistants. In an effort to require Debbie to have a sighted assistant, County and State officials attempted to issue to Debbie a license for twelve children which has the requirement of an assistant. Debbie was not qualified for this license because she did not have one year of experience as the operator of a licensed Day Care Home for Children. We agreed to suspend the hearing pending further negotiations. In the meantime, Debbie was to be issued a Family Day Care License for twelve children. Debra Duncan never was issued the license for twelve children because in October of 1987 the California Attorney General overturned the decision of the officials of the Department of Social Services to give Debbie the license for which she was not qualified and ordered that Debra Duncan be awarded an unrestricted license for a Family Day Care Home for six children the very license for which she had applied eighteen months earlier.

This story would not be complete without an additional word about Debra Duncan. Debbie knew very little about the National Federation of the Blind prior to that day in April of 1986 when she came face to face with discrimination. Someone Debbie contacted suggested that she call the Federation for help. At the very next meeting of our Sacramento Chapter, Debbie and her husband Larry were in attendance, and they have become active members of the chapter. When chapter elections were held some months later, Debbie was elected the chapter treasurer. She is, of course, pleased that she now has her license and, when there is a vacancy, parents are standing in line to get their children into her Day Care Center. Debbie will be the first to tell you that it was a long, hard battle and that it is unfortunate that such discrimination and prejudice exist. However, she also says that a part of her is glad that it happened because if she had not been denied the license, she might never have found the National Federation of the Blind and become a member of the movement.

 

BRAILLE: THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY

by Abraham Nemeth, Ph.D.

(Dr. Nemeth, who is a member of the Research and Development Committee of the National Federation of the Blind, is a brilliant mathematician and a thoughtful scholar. Here is what he has to say about some of the technicalities of Braille.)

If you were asked to list, in order of their importance, those ideas, inventions, or discoveries which, throughout the ages, have contributed the most to improving the quality of human life, the invention of Braille would surely be somewhere near the top of the list. Braille has liberated a whole class of people from a condition of illiteracy and dependence and has given them the means for self- fulfillment and enrichment. The negative feelings of frustration and self-deprecation have been replaced by positive feelings of accomplishment and self-esteem by the thousands of blind people for whom the use of Braille has become one of the skills of everyday living. Braille makes it possible for a blind person to assume a role of equality in modern society, and it can unlock the potential within him to become a contributing member of his community on a par with his sighted fellows. So much for the ecstasy, and now for the agony! The sorry plight of the Braille reader today is that the Braille material he receives contains many areas in which the representation is far below any standard of acceptable quality. What he encounters ranges anywhere from the ludicrous to the unreadable. In the following paragraphs I will highlight these troublesome areas and offer a historical perspective on how the difficulty arose. At the end, I will offer some recommendations on how the problems might best be solved.

Nonplused by the Plus Sign

In the books, magazines, newspapers, fliers, posters, and all manner of printed material, the signs for plus, minus, equals, and others are as commonplace as eggs in a henhouse. Nevertheless, these signs are scrupulously avoided no, forbidden in the general material that Braille readers receive. The reason: The mathematics codes sanctioned by the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) and the Braille Authority of the United Kingdom (BAUK) are different. In particular, they do not use the same Braille representations for the signs just mentioned. The Americans, so the logic goes, could not read the British versions of these signs, and the British could not read the American version of these signs. The solution: Make no provision for representing these signs at all! Instead, replace them by the words which one might use for them when reading aloud. But this is a specious argument. There are many issues on which the two Authorities differ. With respect to such issues, each Authority implements its own interpretation in the area over which it has jurisdiction. Why not extend this principle to the issue of the above-mentioned signs? How these signs should be represented is one of the most poorly kept secrets in the Braille-using community in this country; most blind people are already routinely using them in their personal work. And for the few who still might not know how such signs should be represented, how long a course of study do you suppose would be required to acquaint them with the signs which have already been sanctioned? Such a situation is demeaning both to the intelligence and to the literary capabilities of the Braille reader, and its continuance is unacceptable.

The Hype About The Hyphen

One of the most tyrannical rules in the Literary Code is the one which requires the maximum use of hyphens to divide words into syllables. The proponents of this rule operate under the delusion that by implementing this rule, a considerable amount of space saving would be realized. Experience has shown, however, that very little, if any, actual space is saved. Because most press Braille is currently formatted by computer, where hyphenation is not practical, books and magazines produced by this technology are exempt from the hyphenation rule. However, transcribers who use the Perkins Brailler or who produce Braille on a computer by using a speciallly designated set of six keys to form the Braille characters must still conform to the hyphenation rule. This creates a double standard. The only meaningful space saving occurs when a Braille volume can be reduced by at least one page. Most of the time, maximum hyphenation reduces the length of the last line of a paragraph, but does not eliminate that line, with no saving in the line count. When, on occasion, a line is saved by applying maximum hyphenation, this line is absorbed on the last page of a chapter (or volume if chapters do not begin on new pages). Assuming a 25-line page, you would have to save at least 25 lines in the course of an 80-page volume to be certain of having saved a page of Braille a highly unlikely feat. To save a page within a chapter is even more unlikely. Meanwhile, the transcriber must spend uncounted hours consulting a dictionary in a mostly futile attempt to save space instead of devoting time and skill more productively in the creation of Braille text. As for the Braille reader, he is required to read longer lines and more Braille characters when hyphenation is maximized, without any offsetting reward in the form of a slimmer volume. Surely, the reader's time and effort are at least as valuable as a sheet of Braille paper. It would be better to abolish the maximum-hyphenation rule altogether, thereby reverting to a single standard and utilizing the transcriber's skill, time, and effort more effectively. All of the above does not imply that hyphenation should never be used. Words like psychotherapy and pseudoscientific almost beg to be hyphenated when appropriate. But failure to hyphenate should never be considered a Braille error.

The Cart Before The Horse

One of the rules of the Literary Code requires that an abbreviation of measure be transposed from the position it normally occupies in print to a position preceding the number which specifies the magnitude of the measured quantity; e.g., ft5 in Braille vs. 5 ft. in print. This rule was also devised with the goal of saving space. After all, if you transpose the abbreviation to a position ahead of the number which it affects, you can ignore any period which might be attached to the abbreviation, and you can also save a space by writing the abbreviation close up to the number. Thus, it would take six cells to write 5 ft. as in print, but only four cells to write the same expression in accordance with current Braille rules. If you accept the premise of the preceding paragraph, namely, that the only meaningful space saving is that which results in the reduction of at least one page in a volume, I leave it to you to estimate how much space might be saved in a volume of Braille by putting the cart before the horse. Most of the rules of the Literary Code were formulated a long time ago, when most blind students attended a residential school where many of the teachers were also blind. In such a setting, it was a harmless rule. The students could communicate with each other and with their teachers on the basis of this rule because everyone knew the rule. This deviation from print practice, however, together with other deviations resulting from other rules had the effect of producing a kind of subculture to which only the users of Braille were privy. Today, an enlightened society mandates the mainstreaming of blind students into the public schools to the greatest extent possible commensurate with their abilities. This mainstreaming is not confined to the schools; it extends into adult life both in the workplace and in other community activities. A blind person must be able to communicate on a basis of equality with his sighted peers. They must both have a common understanding of what constitutes accepted English usage. When the cart must be before the horse, a blind person must always be on guard not to lapse into his subculture when creating print documents; to his sighted colleagues, it would seem arcane. Worse, a blind person could project an image of being just short of competent. It is time to put the horse before the cart again. The transposition rule is nothing more than an anachronism and an impediment to a blind person trying to be functional in the society in which he must participate.

Tables

I can think of no Braille-reading experience more frustrating than trying to read a table in any of the periodicals which I regularly receive. It really isn't a table at all. It is introduced by the announcement: In the following table, the columns follow each other in this order : There then follows an enumeration of the column headings. Some tables contain seven or more columns whose headings the reader is supposed to remember as he reads the information. Thereafter, each row of the table becomes a paragraph in Braille. When the Literary Code was formulated long ago, there was very little input from the Braille user. The decisions were made by their custodians who knew what was best for the blind. It was obvious that a blind person must read a Braille book by starting at the first cell of the first line of the first page and that he must then read character after character, line after line, and page after page, until he arrives at the last cell of the last line of the last page. Near the beginning of this century, many British books contained no paragraph indentations by way of applying this principle. Instead, the beginning of a paragraph was separated from the end of the preceding paragraph on the same line by two blank spaces. An asterisk was embossed in the margin next to the line on which a new paragraph began as a flag to the Braille reader that a new paragraph could be found on that line. The poetry-line sign, which is part of the present Literary Code is another application of the same principle. By using the poetry-line sign, you can avoid starting a new line of poetry on a new line of Braille. And the presentation of a table in the manner described above is a third application of this principle, more debilitating than the other two. It is true that the method is authorized in the present Literary Code, but it is a shameless cop-out. There are better and more effective ways of presenting such a table; just ask any volunteer transcriber. What sighted person would be content to cope with a tabular presentation in this format? The need to save space is an ingrained compulsive obsession, outweighing all other considerations, even readability itself. I have been advised not to press this matter too hard; to produce tables in a readable format would create an inordinate delay in the timely delivery of the magazine. Such advice is a corollary of the kind of advice blind people frequently receive when they seek to improve their condition, either implicitly or explicitly, and which can best be summed up in the couplet:

Bless the squire and his relations, And keep us in our proper stations.

The negative declaration It can't be done could be more profitably replaced by the positive question: How can we do it? There are other issues which need to be addressed, but for now, the above will suffice.

Recommendations

It is difficult to bring about change. First, the needed changes must be brought to the attention of the proper people, and secondly, those people need to be convinced that the changes are desirable. Whenever I have raised any of these issues, I have been reminded about the constraints imposed by code rules. But code rules are made by people and can be changed by people. In the last decade, the Braille Authority of North America has released addenda to more than one code. Furthermore, all of the major groups with an interest in the Braille delivery system have representation on BANA and are in a position to initiate the process of change. But we are dealing with bodies of great mass and great inertia. Its inclination for modification can be summed up in the couplet:

Come weal or come woe,
Our status is quo.

Nevertheless, with an open mind, good will, and sincere intent, it is possible to bring about the needed changes. Finally, it would be a good idea for the rest of the community involved in the Braille delivery system to take an example from the volunteer transcribers. These transcribers conduct local, regional, and national conferences in which the main feature is a series of workshops for the sharing of know-how and skills. They publish bulletins and newsletters containing skills columns featuring solutions to Braille transcribing problems. They maintain networks of area representatives who are willing and qualified to help transcribers with problems in all areas literary, scientific, music, textbook format, tables, drawings, etc. The truth is that the volunteers produce Braille of a higher quality than is produced professionally. These professionals would do well to learn from the volunteers. It would not be amiss for them to subscribe to the volunteer publications, to attend their workshops, and to avail themselves of the services of the area representatives. They would do well to consider initiating workshops and publications of their own.

 

TOM BENHAM PROTESTS ACTION BY AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND

From the Editor: There was a time when the name of Professor Thomas Benham was virtually a household word among many blind people in this country. However, I had not heard much about him for a number of years, and then recently some interesting correspondence between him and the American Foundation for the Blind came to my attention. It moved me to call Professor Benham, which I did on May 31, 1988.

He refreshed my memory and filled in the gaps of my knowledge concerning his career. Blind since childhood, he received a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and taught electronics, physics, and math at Haverford College in Pennsylvania until his retirement at age sixty-five in 1976. Shortly after the Second World War he began working under contract with the Veterans Administration to produce an electronic travel device for the blind. He says that this eventuated into the laser cane, which is now being manufactured by another company. In the late 1940's he began modifying manual calculators so that they could be read by the blind. As I remember it, these were antiquated models with a crank on the side which you turned to finish the calculations. But Benham's calculators had the virtue of being both cheap and workable. I wish the same could be said of many of the hi-tech devices which are on the market today. Benham also began turning out various low-cost measuring devices which could be read by the blind micrometers, a gadget to read meters in broadcasting stations, automobile repair equipment, and the like. It was at about this time that his name became widely known among the blind and that he established the nonprofit organization called Science for the Blind. He says that Science for the Blind was created in 1954 and incorporated in 1962. Apparently Science for the Blind limped along for about ten years with a contract here, a sale there, and a grant from somewhere else. Benham says that the single most important factor in keeping Science for the Blind afloat was a contract from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to duplicate material on open reel tape and that when NLS shifted to cassettes in 1973, he couldn't make the change. He says that the duplicating equipment would have taken almost $150,000 of personal money which he did not have and that as a result Science for the Blind had to stop operating.

He says that the board of directors of Science for the Blind transferred the assets of the organization to him and his wife Lee and that they began operating a profit-making corporation (at least, they hoped it would be profit-making) under the name Science Products. Although Science Products continued to make certain devices for the blind, it also moved into other fields. In the meantime hi-tech took the center of the stage, and Benham's name largely became a memory. Many of the blind of today have probably never heard of him which, incidentally, might serve as a caution to all who comfort themselves that today's claim will insure tomorrow's immortality.

Then, as I have already said, correspondence came to my attention which I thought Monitor readers might find interesting and instructive. So here it is from a voice not silenced, from a spirit not quenched:

Southeastern, Pennsylvania

April 4, 1988

Mr. William Gallagher
Executive Director
American Foundation for the Blind
New York, New York

Dear Bill Gallagher:

It has come to our attention that AFB has submitted a voice system to Lifescan for their review for use with the Glucoscan Blood Glucose Monitors.

As I am sure you know, we have been marketing a voice system for blood glucose meters for some time we came to New York a few years ago to discuss this and other activities with your staff. It disturbs us to think that AFB might be planning to compete with us on this produce. We have several concerns:

1) We have already spent a great deal of money and other resources designing and redesigning voice modules for blood glucose analyzers. Every time the manufacturer changes design, we must change also. It is expensive, the market is small, the rewards are meager. We have done it because we need products to keep our technical departments active on not only this but other projects for the blind as well.

2) At least two other private enterprise companies have produced talking blood glucose analyzers: Boehringer Mannheim and Orange Medical. We have competed successfully with both.

3) AFB's stated purpose has been to encourage development and distribution of aids for the vision impaired. Duplication of development costs on products already on the market does not seem consistent with this purpose.

4) Since AFB subsidizes with nonprofit funds both development and marketing of its own products, production and sale of an item already being successfully marketed by private enterprise would, in our opinion, constitute unfair competition. We have been developing and marketing special aids for the vision impaired for more than twenty years. We have provided one-of-a-kind items for individuals, and we have developed a few products which sell in the hundreds each year. Overall, we have made ends meet and, we feel, provided a service to the vision impaired which they cannot obtain from anyone else. We had some financial help in the beginning, but since the early seventies all funds for this activity have come from our own pockets. The projects which do not work out well financially we subsidize, as it were, from our own dinner table. The American Printing House recently brought to market a new four-track speech compression cassette recorder. It is the same unit for which we were developing an adaptation. We lost $5,000. The Printing House can afford to cut us and others out of the market, because they have not only nonprofit funds but government subsidy as well. Those of us who compete with the Printing House do so at our own risk, though we may hope that the system will change and that federal education funds will be made available to purchase aids from the general market and not just from the Printing House, whose products may or may not be best for all applications.

We have worried about competition from AFB in the past since you obviously have the resources to swamp anything we might try to market. Fortunately for us and for blind consumers the relationship with AFB has been one of mutual respect; and though we have received little direct help from the Foundation, we have not been directly harmed by any of your activities. Your entry into the talking glucose monitor market would seriously undermine our entire business and probably cause us to withdraw gradually from all activity involving aids for the blind.

We would very much like to explore ways in which AFB can help us to help the vision impaired not only with the talking module for the blood glucose monitors but in other ways as well. We feel that our purposes are compatible, that competition can only waste resources, and that cooperation can bring more and varied aids to the market for enhancement of life for the vision impaired. We hope you agree, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Tom and Lee Benham
Science Products
New York, New York

April 18, 1988

Dear Tom and Lee:

Thank you for the frank and sincere comments contained in your letter of April 4.

It is, and always has been, the policy of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) for the National Technology Center (NTC) to develop needed products for blind and visually impaired consumers. The projects we are working on are discussed openly, and we always solicit information from the field to assist us in our planning.

LifeScan, a Johnson & Johnson company, has given us technical information on the operation of their One-Touch unit. Since no such low-cost blood glucometer with voice is being marketed, we have proceeded to develop a prototype voice box attachment for this unit. In discussions with LifeScan, they indicated that they have given out the same technical information to your organization and others to allow everyone a chance to develop adaptations to their unit.

We would be happy to entertain any thoughts you might have on possible collaboration between our organizations on this and/or any future developments. It might also be appropriate to investigate the sale of this unit by two or more companies. This, of course, does not preclude Science Products proceeding with and marketing their own voice box. Please feel free to contact us should you have any additional questions or wish to pursue avenues of cooperation.

Sincerely,

William F. Gallagher
Executive Director
American Foundation for the Blind

Southeastern, Pennsylvania

May 13, 1988

Dear Bill:

Thank you for your response to our letter of April 4 questioning AFB's entry into the talking blood glucose monitor market. After reading your reply we wonder if you realize that we have been working with Ray Underwood, Vice President of Engineering at Lifescan, for almost two years planning and then pursuing the development of a speech unit for Johnson & Johnson blood glucose analyzers.

Changes in technology and delayed availability of new technology retarded our progress and increased our costs. When we were given information on the One-Touch recently, we were in the final stages of a long and, for us, expensive project to produce a new speech module for many applications. The GlucoScan 3000 and One-Touch were given first priority since we had not provided voice for LifeScan units with our old technology. New units, now in production, will be shipped in May.

We, and several others (Boehringer Mannheim, Diascan, Orange Medical, and Med-Equip), have taken risks over the past five to six years to bring a sound or talking blood glucose analyzer to the market. As a result of our efforts the demand for such a unit has increased significantly, we have all lost money one way or another, and all have certainly made a substantial investment.

It certainly does not seem to us to be in the best interests of the blind community for AFB to use its nonprofit advantages to invade an already developed market and usurp sales from those of us who have spent money to develop that market. AFB has claimed a commitment to encourage private business to develop and produce technology beneficial to the vision impaired. You mail your catalogs at a rate less than half what we have to pay. You purchase capital equipment, hire technicians, and administer your activities with donated money. You pay no taxes. If you use these advantages to undercut prices and take over a portion of the already very small volume market, businesses which have made a commitment to a product for the blind will certainly not be encouraged to do so again. We will recognize that aids for the blind is a no-win market and stop trying. The ultimate result will be control of the market by AFB and fewer options for the blind.

If you leave the free enterprise system alone, private business will develop not only a better and less expensive talking blood glucose analyzer but other products as well. If you deprive us of the portion of the market we have earned by taking risks and offering products and services in fair competition, we will seek other markets where we do not have to fear being undercut by subsidized, tax exempt organizations. We have counted on revenues from the sale of out Digi-Voice GlucoModule to fund development of other low-volume special employment-education instruments. If you take away some of our sales or cause us to reduce our prices because of your nonprofit competition, some or all of these instruments will be abandoned.

We, and others who enter the market of aids for the vision impaired, are entitled to and need an honest return on our investment when we produce a device which proves useful and viable. Certainly there must be other areas in which AFB can help the vision impaired rather than duplicating what is already on the market to the detriment of those who put it there! We continue to hope AFB will not upset the free enterprise system which has brought the talking blood glucose analyzer to the market and improved it. Many blind people over the past six years have had talking units to use because of Science Products and others. Many will have other instruments in the future because of Science Products' long- standing commitment to this market unless we are deprived of a return on our investment because of unfair competition.

Very truly yours,

Tom and Lee Benham
Science Products

 

ON TRAFFIC SIGNALS

by Ted Young

(Ted Young is District Manager of the Southeast Region of the Pennsylvania Blindness and Visual Services, the agency administering the state's rehabilitation program for the blind.)

The question of chirping, burping, burbling, buzzing, squeaking, squawking, or otherwise noisy traffic signals needs to be looked at from several perspectives. 1) Are they necessary? 2) Are they even minimally convenient or useful? and 3) Are they harmful? As to the usefulness of such devices, allow me to point out that blind persons have been traveling successfully and safely throughout history without such props and aids. Unless one can prove that traffic conditions have radically changed or that something has caused the blind as a whole to deteriorate or become less able, it is difficult to build a case for the necessity of such devices. We strongly believe that, given proper mobility training, a blind person can safely cross any street without such gimmicks.

There are those who argue that this is a point of view held by the elite, the fortunate blind who somehow manage to travel and do most things well. This argument goes on to suggest that such blind persons have no empathy for the needs of their less fortunate blind brothers and sisters. Let us take a moment to examine the weakness of this argument.

There is something seriously wrong with an assumption that there are two classes of blind people, the able and the unable. Yes, there are varying degrees of natural ability and skill among blind persons just as there are varying degrees of ability and skill among members of any group in our society. The harm of the argument lies in its assumption that people who can do things somehow miraculously got that way, and that the rest of the given population is incapable of achieving the same level of functioning. Let me assure you that with very few exceptions the blind person who can travel, read and write Braille well, type, use computers, shop, and live independently learned the alternate techniques to do those things from some place. By assigning a blind person who cannot do those same things to the ranks of the less fortunate blind, we affix a label to him or her. We subconsciously make the decision that further and better rehabilitation would not benefit this individual. This is a sad position to take concerning any human being. However, having taken that position, it is easy to understand how one would fall into the trap of turning one's thoughts away from providing the best possible rehabilitation services and to the task of seeking a miracle cure for the lack of them. What should that cure be? Something visible and loud, a much less expensive solution than designing the kinds of programs that would provide the necessary skills to the individual. If you convince yourself that this signal does the job for those you have not trained properly, then why bother with upgrading the training? Okay, say the proponents of such devices, suppose you have done your best, and the individual has not learned? Suppose that past rehabilitation services have been poor, and there are a number of blind people walking around who still cannot cross the street safely. Suppose that the blind person has other handicaps that prevent him or her from being able to learn to cross the street. Now we have reached the second difficulty of the argument that suggests that there are less fortunate blind people, namely, the question of whether such signals help at all. What do the signals actually do for the individual? I suppose the theory is that by providing a loud sound, the person knows that it is safe to cross the street. Take a minute to ask yourself how the trained blind person does it? The answer should not be surprising. It is done by listening to traffic flow, and when the traffic is moving beside you, as opposed to in front of you, it is okay to cross. It is difficult to understand how a signal chirping and burbling in the air is more reliable than the tried and tested technique of listening to traffic flow. Indeed, if a person cannot be trained to analyze traffic flow despite the best efforts of rehabilitation or because of other handicaps, it is questionable whether a traffic signal can help that person to cross any street safely or independently. If a person's only handicap is blindness and if that person has been properly trained, a squealing traffic signal will not be helpful. If the difficulty is other than blindness and has to do with the inability to detect traffic flow, there is a danger in trusting only the knowledge that the light has changed in crossing a street. It could be argued at this point that if certain blind persons don't need those signals, more power to them. But why fight the idea if it has even the smallest potential of benefiting someone else. If such signals neither helped nor harmed anyone, then there would be little point in fighting against them. If such signals provided the most minimal help to anyone and did not harm others, it would be a callous act to fight against them. However, we believe that not only do such signals fail to help anyone, they can and do cause harm to blind persons. Such signals are harmful on a number of fronts. First, from the standpoint of mobility, the less noise the better when crossing the street. One is already bombarded with loud unmuffled traffic, jack hammers, sounds of building construction, etc. Surely another noisy addition to this scene is unneeded and unwanted. Indeed, there is a liability question being considered by some cities that goes like this: If I put up a noisy signal and a blind person does not hear a car turning (causing his or her injury), are we as a city liable for contributing to that accident?

Then, there is the question of whether such signals generate a false sense of security. Over a period of time does one come to believe that a chirping, squawking, burbling signal makes better drivers? Does one become careless in the belief that the signal is predicting a safe crossing? Does such a suggestion of safety contribute to the suit against the city which can no more guarantee the care of its drivers than a fortune teller can guarantee the future?

Next comes the question of the general impression such unnecessary devices leave with the public. That same signal that burbles for you burbles to the general public, proclaiming that the blind cannot cross streets without such special assistance. Obviously if the blind cannot cross streets without such assistance, what other assistance do they require to do the mundane everyday tasks of living and working and what about the streets (most streets, in fact) which have no such signals? If I am an employer exposed to such unnecessary devices, what will I think when asked to hire a blind person? Sure, but what will it cost me? Will I need to have a chirping bathroom door, a singing desk chair, a warbling waste can? No, not for me today thank you. I can't afford it. Such questions might not be so bad if they were asked outright, but far too often human beings make decisions based on their myths and misconceptions without thinking twice about them. Indeed, how strong can an argument against such myths and misconceptions be if it needs to compete with the employer's daily experience of crossing the street beneath that obnoxious siren of helplessness and dependency? Finally, there is a much broader issue involved here. In the areas of more and better jobs, the right to sit where we want to on public transportation, the right to live, go to school, work, and recreate where we choose, it is necessary to educate the public concerning the real nature of blindness. Such education cannot occur if a person cannot be made to evaluate his or her present thoughts on blindness and discard the many incredible, unfounded myths, misconceptions, and assumptions that most persons have on the subject. Such introspection is not easy for any of us; and when one considers that various polls have established the fact that the general public fears blindness almost as much as it fears cancer, it is easy to understand the difficulty we face in getting people to do this. When we ask for unnecessary things that convey an incorrect impression of blindness in the first place, are we not defeating the long, arduous task of educating the general public about the capabilities of the blind. Isn't it easier to spend a little money and make a public display than to change one's attitudes and beliefs?

To many people a beeping, squeaking, hanging-up-there-proclaiming-our-goodness-to-the-world traffic signal would be a good thing to do for the blind. There it would hang for years shouting forth the beneficence of the city. No candle under a bushel in this case. But alas, such a gift given under a mistaken notion of charity may also be the death knell of more serious pursuits by the blind. After all, don't all of us have some limit beyond which we are not willing to go? Don't we all sometimes feel that having done something for one cause or another, we should now be left to pursue other interests and other causes? Is it then remarkable that when approached on an issue that requires deep introspection about blindness (something the average American would prefer to avoid), many persons would refuse to do so with a gesture to the burbler of beneficence. Look what we have already done. After all, wasn't it easier in the first place to understand that a helpless blind person might need special assistance at street corners, than to understand that I should open my plant to that helpless individual? Wasn't it easier to put that signal there than to rent to a blind person who might somehow damage my house? Wasn't it easier to put that signal there than to pass laws assuring the blind equal opportunities in employment? Why should the blind want them in the first place since they lack the capabilities of using them? The issue of special traffic signals for the blind transcends the burbling, buzzing, and chirping of the signal itself. Indeed, it is as basic as what we as blind persons believe we are and how we want the general public to think of and respond to us.

 

HOW VALID IS THE SIGNATURE OF A BLIND PERSON

Sometimes it is worthwhile to look at our problems in perspective. How far have the blind of the United States come in comparison with the blind of other nations? Of course, it depends upon the country and the issue.

In this connection we recently received in the National Office a letter from the Ethiopian National Association of the Blind. It raises questions and shows how far the blind of the world still have to go before achieving equality and first-class status. Although a scattering of uninformed bank officials in this country try from time to time to prevent blind persons from renting safe deposit boxes, this is the exception rather than the rule, and generally blind persons do not have difficulty establishing checking accounts. Likewise, quite a number of blind persons throughout the nation are judges, lawyers, and government officials. Moreover, we know of no law anywhere in the country which prohibits the blind from entering into contracts on the grounds that the unnotarized signature of a blind person is not valid.

Here is a letter from the blind of Ethiopia asking for information and assistance. We sent letters and documents and will provide such other help as we can.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

May 18, 1988

To the National Federation of the Blind of the United States

Dear Sir or Madam:

There have been some problems concerning the acceptability and validity of blind persons signature related to official documents here in Ethiopia. Therefore, our Association would like to avail itself of your experience in this respect. In some government offices blind employees are not allowed to sign their written work on the ground that their signature is liable to forgery and that their knowledge about the document is based on their reader. As a result, such employees, how qualified and experienced they may be, are not given executive posts. This has hindered their promotion to a large extent. The basis for this problem is supposed to be the Ethiopian Civil Code Article 1728(3) which provides: the signature or thumb mark of blind persons affixed may not bind them unless authenticated by a notary, a registrar, or a judge in the discharge of their official duties. Although this provision was intended to protect the blind in their contractual undertakings, it has been wrongly extended by analogy as to cover other areas of interaction in a manner prejudicial to the blind. On account of this extension, for instance, the blind cannot draw or endorse checks by themselves, cannot withdraw money from their personal bank account as their signature is considered insufficient and has to be attested by a sighted person.

We would appreciate if you could share with us the experiences of your country in the following: 1) Whether the blind are given posts in such capacities as ministers, judges, public prosecutors, etc.

2) How the blind carry out their official duties and personal activities pertaining to signature, i.e. whether their signature requires authentication or attestation by sighted persons. We would also be grateful if you could provide us with information on related matters.

Sincerely,

Berihun Girmay, Chairman
Ethiopian National Association of the Blind

 

SOUTH DAKOTA LEGISLATURE PASSES RESOLUTION SUPPORTING FEDERATION

As the National Federation of the Blind continues to grow in strength, membership, and resources, it is increasingly coming to be recognized as the voice of the blind of the nation. Government officials, legislative bodies, and the public at large understand and offer support. A case in point is the following resolution, adopted by both House and Senate of the South Dakota Legislature:

House Concurrent Resolution No. 1024

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, expressing support for the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota and its efforts towards bettering the lives of South Dakota's blind citizens.

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota held its 1987 annual meeting in Mobridge on May 2, 1987; and

WHEREAS, at the annual meeting the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota endorsed several resolutions supporting action to enhance the opportunities of blind people; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind seeks to work with state officials in order to assist all blind students in learning Braille; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind supports federal legislation which would provide grants to states for the purpose of assisting the growing number of blind people who require life-sustaining immunosuppressive drug therapy following an organ transplant; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has resolved to take a position against wasteful and annoying installed travel aids for the blind, such as audible traffic signals and pathfinder tiles; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has also taken a stand against unreasonable and discriminatory airline procedures for blind persons:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Sixty-third Legislature of the state of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota is supported and recognized for its efforts to enhance the opportunities of all blind individuals in the state of South Dakota. Adopted by the House of Representatives February 11, 1988; Concurred in by the Senate February 12, 1988.

Debra Anderson, Speaker of the House

Paul Inman, Chief Clerk of the House

Walter D. Miller, President of the Senate

Fee Jacobsen, Secretary of the Senate

 

RECIPES

We recently received the following letter and recipe from newlywed NFB of Nevada President, Joan Abraham Tait:

Enclosed you will find a recipe for an absolutely delicious soup. Last year the South Chapter of the NFB of Nevada packaged and sold the beans and other grains, along with the recipe. Those who purchased it seemed to like it, so we thought that the other members of the Federation might like to try it, too.

LAS VEGAS LUCKY SEVEN BEAN SOUP

cup of the following:

black-eyed peas
butter beans/large limas
small limas
great northern beans
pearl barley
pinto beans
black beans
red/pink beans
split green peas
lentils

Wash thoroughly, cover with water and one tablespoon of salt. Soak overnight. In the morning drain, add two quarts of fresh water, one-half pound of ham or ham hocks, and bring to a boil.

Stirring occasionally, simmer for two and a half hours, then add:

one large onion, one large can of tomatoes (twenty-nine ounces), one pod of red pepper or one teaspoon chili powder, juice of one lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer only another half hour then serve (six) with French bread or crackers and green salad. This can be purchased with the first ten items prepackaged for $2.50 postage paid from the Southern Nevada Chapter, National Federation of the Blind of Nevada. Send check or money order for $2.50 to:

Beans, 1001 North Bruce, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101.

PINEAPPLE BEETS

by Ronald Greene

(Ronald Greene is one of the long-time, stalwart members of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa.)

2 cups diced beets
2 tablespoons oil or margarine
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons corn starch
teaspoon pineapple flavoring
salt and pepper to taste

Cook beets. Then, peel and dice. In a small saucepan combine oil, pineapple, vinegar, corn starch, and pineapple flavoring. Cook just until it thickens. Pour pineapple mixture over diced beets. Stir until well mixed. Add salt and pepper. Cool until well chilled.

CARAMEL BROWNIES

by Mary Lou Anderson

(Mary Lou Anderson is a long-time member of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana.)

1 box German Chocolate Cake mix
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
1 cup pecans
1 12-ounce bag caramels
1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips
2 sticks butter

1) Combine cake mix with butter, chopped pecans, and evaporated milk (one-third cup). 2) Put a thin layer of mix on thirteen- by nine-inch pan and bake at 325 degrees for ten minutes. 3) Melt caramels and evaporated milk (one-third cup) over low heat. Pour caramels over cooked portion. 4) Add chocolate chips, then remaining mix, and spread evenly on top. Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes.

FROZEN PEANUT BUTTER PIE

by Mary Lou Anderson

1 Chocolate Crunch Crust *
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons Real Lemon Juice from concentrate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (1/2 pint) whipping cream, whipped or 1 (14-ounce) container frozen nondairy whipped topping, thawed
Chocolate fudge ice cream topping

In large mixer bowl beat cheese until fluffy; gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, then peanut butter until smooth. Stir in lemon and vanilla. Fold in whipped cream. Turn into prepared crust. Drizzle topping over pie. Freeze four hours or until firm. Return leftovers to freezer.

* Chocolate Crunch Crust

In heavy saucepan over low heat melt one-third cup margarine or butter and one (six-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips. Remove from heat; gently stir in two and a half cups oven-toasted rice cereal until completely coated. Press on bottom and up side of buttered nine- or ten-inch pie plate. Chill thirty minutes.

FOUR LAYER BOMB

by Mary Lou Anderson

Layer One:

2 sticks oleo, melted
2 cups flour
1 cup pecans, grated

Mix, press in oblong 9 by 13 pan, bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Layer Two:

1 cup sugar
1 cup cool whip

Mix well, spread on first layer.

Layer Three:

2 packages large instant chocolate pudding
3-1/2 cups milk

Mix with package instant pudding and spread on second layer.

Layer Four:

9 ounces cool whip spread on third layer Refrigerate overnight and serve.

 

MONITOR MINIATURES

Dies:

The April, 1988, Alaska News (the newsletter of the NFB of Alaska) reports the death on February 14, 1988, of Joe Paul.

Joe, a native Alaskan, was active in the Federation and will be

greatly missed

**Letters:

Edgar Sammons, RFD 1, Box 1840, Mountain City, Tennessee 37683, writes: I would like to get Braille letters from blind men of any age from the United States and Canada. I would be glad to write back.

**Blind Photographer:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I am a legally blind freelance photographer and teacher located here in Biddeford, Maine. I'd like to ask your readers if they would be interested in reading a column I'm considering writing on the ways blind and visually handicapped individuals can successfully photograph. I teach photography at the University of New England and would like to incorporate my own teaching with the knowledge I've gained from dealing with my visual limitations in an occupation that is visual in nature. I'd like to teach photography to visually handicapped people if there's interest. I'd appreciate any input from your readers on this idea and would like to correspond with any and all interested parties. Contact me, Jonathan P. Ramsdell, at: 20 Chapel Street, Biddeford, Maine 04005, phone (207) 282- 0213.

**Michael Baillif Wins Recognition and Opportunity:

Under date of March 17, 1988, Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California, issued a press release which said in part:

Claremont McKenna College Student Wins Watson Fellowship

Michael Baillif, a senior at Claremont McKenna College, is one of 75 college seniors across the nation to win a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Baillif, who is blind, contends that the blind can be harmed by paternalism and that what they really need is to develop their independence. Baillif will use his fellowship to study the social attitudes toward and facilities for the blind in England and Sweden.

Baillif is active in the United States' largest organization for the blind, the National Federation of the Blind. He is President of the organization's Student Division and in that capacity has traveled widely throughout the country, speaking and writing about matters concerning blindness.

While in England and Sweden, Baillif will also interview blind persons and meet with leaders in the National Federation of the United Kingdom and the World Blind Union. He will then evaluate the facilities for the blind in England and Sweden. Baillif is a top student at Claremont McKenna. He is a literature major and has written his senior thesis on Henry David Thoreau. Subsequent to receiving this press release, we learned that Michael Baillif graduated second in his class of 213 on May 15.

**Chapter Report:

We recently received the following report from the Prairie State Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois:

The Prairie State Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois elected officers at its thirteenth anniversary meeting. This meeting was held April 16, 1988, at the Assumption School in Coal City. Allen Schaefer of Mazon was re-elected President. He has served as President since 1979, during which time the chapter has grown to be the second largest Federation chapter in the state. John Salvatore of Joliet was elected Vice President; along with Mrs. Ruth Isaacs of Bourbonnais, Secretary; and Mrs. Ruth Anne Schaefer of Mazon, Treasurer. Board members elected were Earl and Elaine Salems of Morris, and Bill Isaacs of Bourbonnais. `Sharing the Spirit of Federationism' was the theme for this thirteenth anniversary, and all reports emphasized the continued growth in membership and financial development, as well as the people-oriented social action of the chapter.

**Toilet Tissue:

The following item appeared in the April 7, 1988, Aurora (Minnesota)

East Range Journal-Facts: Funding Needed for Lighthouse for the Blind Project

Between 40 and 50 new mid- to high-pay jobs will be created if a public loan of $250,000 can be gained for the Duluth Lighthouse for the Blind to process toilet tissue. The St. Louis County Board on April 12 will consider an application for a Small Cities Economic Development grant in that amount with the money ultimately going to the Duluth Lighthouse. Total funding for the project will amount to just under $6.2 million dollars.

St. Louis County Commissioners Marilyn Krueger and Bill Kron are facilitators for the project at the County level. The Lighthouse will use this money along with other monies to supply the federal government with toilet tissue. The sale of the tissue is expected to result in new annual revenue of $13 million for the Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse will not manufacture this tissue but will purchase tissue from paper mills in large 2,500 pound rolls and convert them to standard size rolls of tissue.

The necessary grant money would come from the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development. The federal government has already agreed to make the specified purchases from the Duluth Lighthouse. **Presbyterian Officers Wanted:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I wish to make contact with anyone who is now or has been recently an officer in the Presbyterian Church USA. Any blind person who can provide information as to how he handled specific duties is requested to contact: Willis Gene (Buck) Saunders at 1509 Kanawha Street, Point Pleasant, West Virginia 24550.

**Francis Joseph Campbell Award:

We recently received the following press release:

Mr. James G. Chandler will be awarded the Francis Joseph Campbell Citation and Medal at the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans on July 9th. The award has been given to Mr. Chandler in recognition of his significant contribution to access to the printed word for the blind and visually impaired reader through his development of `Voice Indexing,' a unique, rapid retrieval system which enables persons with sight loss to quickly and efficiently locate information (titles, chapter headings, section headings, key words, etc.). This method requires no advanced technology or highly sophisticated and expensive equipment. Its practicality is exemplified by the fact that `Voice Indexing' can be utilized on the kind of cassette players available to the blind from the National Library Service of the Library of Congress. Mr. Chandler has set up Voice Indexing for the Blind, Inc., 9116 St. Andrews Place, College Park, Maryland 20740, a nonprofit corporation established under Maryland law.

**For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Votrax Personal Speech System. Used very little. In original carton and packing, with necessary cables. $150 or best offer. Write to Janiece Betker, 1886 29th Avenue N.W., New Brighton, Minnesota 55112. Phone: (612) 639-1435.

**Iowa Leader Dies:

From the Editor: As this issue of the Monitor goes to press, I have just learned of the death of Fred Kinne of Iowa. He died May 12, 1988, of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was eighty-four years old and is survived by his wife Evelina and three children. He was a native of Minnesota, a graduate of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, and a long-time staunch member of the Federation. He last attended an NFB convention in Kansas City in 1983. When I went to Iowa as Director of the State Commission for the Blind in 1958, Fred was farming. In fact, for many years he ran the only Grade A dairy farm in Webster County, Iowa. He was scrupulously honest, bluntly outspoken when he needed to be, and a friend who could be trusted. He never hunted trouble, but he never backed away from it either. Never flamboyant, he could always be depended upon to come up with common sense answers to any question. Above all, he was a man of integrity. During the troubles in Iowa in the late seventies and eighties Fred was always a rock of quiet strength. I had not seen very much of Fred during the past few years, but this in no way lessens my sense of loss at his passing. Fred is gone and our movement is diminished by his going.

**Cash Register and Coin Dispenser:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Aids Unlimited is the exclusive distributor of the R. C. Allen talking cash register (Model #204T) and the automatic coin dispenser recently developed by Triad Design, Inc. (Model #400TR). This coin dispenser is the only one which will work with the talking cash register. The cash register can be purchased for $1,755 plus $22 for shipping and handling. The automatic coin dispenser can be purchased for $1,050 plus $10.75 for shipping and handling. A cash management system including these two items and other accessories may be purchased for $2,880 plus $40 for shipping and handling. More detailed information regarding these items may be obtained from Aids Unlimited, 1101 North Calvert Street, Suite 405, Baltimore, Maryland 21202; telephone (301) 659- 0232.

**Bypass Surgery:

From the Editor: On Wednesday, May 25, 1988, Searcy Ewell (President of the National Federation of the Blind of Arkansas) called me to say that Jim Hudson was in the hospital after having undergone bypass surgery. As Monitor readers know, Jim, who is a past president of the National Federation of the Blind of Arkansas, is now the head of the Arkansas state agency for the blind. Later on May 25 I called Jim and talked with him. He said that he had been having pains in his arms for quite some time and had gone to the doctor for a general physical and stress test. The results of the test were available on May 18, and he was immediately hospitalized. He had double bypass surgery on Thursday, May 19, and as of May 25 was feeling energetic and preparing to leave the hospital. He will be recovering at home for several weeks.

**New Baby:

Larry and Donna Posont of Dearborn, Michigan, announce the birth of Peter Joseph, who joined the family at 9:58 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, 1988. Peter Joseph weighed nine pounds and was twenty-one inches long. As Federationists know, Larry and Donna are long-time members of the movement. Larry is President of the national Merchants Division and Chairman of the elected Committee of Blind Vendors in Michigan. Donna serves as Second Vice President of the NFB Merchants Division and Treasurer of the Detroit Chapter. Congratulations to the Posonts.

**Jackson, Mississippi, Chapter:

Sam Gleese, Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind of Mississippi, writes as follows: On March 1, 1988, Mr. William Richardson (President of the Jackson Chapter) was admitted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson for a kidney transplant. At the time of this writing he is recovering nicely. The officers elected for the Jackson Chapter on December 12, 1987, to serve in 1988 are: William Richardson, President; Dennis Neely, First Vice President; Alfred Hudson, Second Vice President; Lena Harris, Secretary; Mary Reed, Treasurer; Louise Stubbs, Board Member; and Margaret Wheaton, Board Member.

**Tribulation:

Mabel Conder, Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina and a member of the board of the Charlotte Chapter, has recently undergone a series of tribulations which rival those experienced by Job. On April 14 she fell and broke her shoulder in several places. On April 19 (shortly after she had returned home) a violent storm blew a large oak tree onto her house, causing it to be virtually destroyed. Mabel and her family had to move to a hearby hotel. In all of the turmoil the shoulder was injured again; and to climax matters Mabel developed a severe staph infection, necessitating a return to the hospital. Your Editor talked with her this morning (May 10), and she is on the road to recovery and in good spirits.

**Idaho Convention:

We recently received the following report concerning the Idaho convention: Our long-time President Norman Gardner announced recently that he is moving to Arizona. His resignation was accepted with regret, and he was honored with the Thelander Award at the banquet April 16, 1988. The NFB of Arizona is fortunate to add Norm and Maggie to its ranks. Our officers are now:

President, Ramona Walhof; First Vice President, Laurence Smith; Second Vice President, Betty Sabin; Secretary, Mary Ellen Halverson; and Treasurer, Harry Gawith. Two important actions were taken at the state convention: one to call upon airports to refuse to support airlines when they discriminate against the blind, and the second to call upon the board of the Idaho Commission for the Blind to dismiss Howard Barton. **Leave It Be:

Wausau, Wisconsin

April, 1988

Dear Dr. Jernigan:

I would like to comment on a subject which is being discussed in England but not, so far as I know, here. It is Braille reform. Personally I think that Braille should be left as it is. I am concerned that the coming conference in London may, to our surprise, vote for a Braille code which we did not ask for, do not want, and do not need. I hope my concern is unfounded.

Sincerely,

Roy Luber

**New Chapter:

Betsy Gerhart writes:

Pennsylvanians are pleased and proud to tell you that we have a new chapter. On April 23rd, 1988, Federationists joined together to organize the Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania. Federationists from around the state came to participate in this joyous occasion. There were several people in attendance who had never heard of the organization before. Altogether we had approximately thirty-five people at the meeting. The first order of business was to write a constitution. Once that was done, we elected officers who are: Tom Gerhart, President; Haydn Wyer, Vice President; Betsy Gerhart, Secretary; and Chris Kuczynski, Treasurer. The three board members are: Judith Williams, Lillian Wyer, and James O'Neill. The meeting was enthusiastic and set the tone for great things to come in the future. To top things off we were addressed by Mr. David Clark, the President of the City Council of Washington, D.C., and a member of the Jessie Jackson campaign. April 23rd will be a day that none of us will easily forget. The spirit of unity and purpose that bound us together will guide us to carry on the work of the National Federation of the Blind in the months and years to come.

**Jury Duty:

Will and Lorraine Webb are two of the long-time leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of New York State. Recently the Herald Journal said:

As far as anyone knows, a blind citizen had never served on a jury on Onondaga County until last month. That was when Lorraine Webb volunteered and was sworn in as a juror. She was picked for a county court jury and heard a DWI case. Next month her husband, Will, is scheduled to be called for jury duty. He is blind, too. Step by step and day by day we are changing what it means to be blind.

**Used Equipment Clearinghouse:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement: If you want to buy or sell anything from a slate to an Optacon, contact Barbara Mattson, 134A Hall Street, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29302. Phone: (803) 585-7323. Please enclose a self-addressed envelope if you write. If you call and no one answers, you can leave a message on the answering machine.

**Chess Championship:

Gintautas Burba writes: The 1988 Chess Championship for the blind will be held at the Airport Hilton Hotel in Fort Wayne, Indiana, August 26-28, 1988. All accommodations are sponsored, the only cost being a $20 entry fee. You should bring your own chess pieces and a chess clock. If you don't have a chess clock, one will be provided. Those interested in competing should contact Joseph Kennedy, 5621 Fox Cross Courts, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46815.

**The Next Generation:

The following letter appeared in the May 11, 1988, Ottumwa (Iowa) Courier:

Editor, The Courier:

I'm a fifth grade student at Cardinal Elementary. I wish to not complain, but to express my feelings openly on the treatment of handicapped people.

My mother, being blind, is handicapped. I dislike the treatment shown to her and others I know. It is hard to watch. I wish for it to stop, although it will not. Some a lot are nice and generous, and help. There are many barriers to overcome, before all are treated as equals in our society. Now, since I have voiced my opinion, what I wish is that more people would understand all people. Such as my mother, and many more. In a way, I feel special about this, at least, trying to help in what ways I can.

Tammy D. Farrington

Agency, Iowa

Tammy is the daughter of Regina Farrington, Secretary of the Pathfinder Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa and niece of Carol Smith.

**Exchange Correspondence:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I have been blind since birth because of retrolental fibroplasia. I wish to start a correspondence club with other people who have RLF with the main intent of helping people to come closer to God. We would also discuss questions and problems (pertaining to us who are blind), and hobbies and interests. Contact: Adelaide E. Wink, Evangelical Message Interdenominational, 61 South Lee Street, Beverly Hills, Florida 32665-9130.

**Ham Radio Products:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

For Sale: Specially marked (Brailled) Ham Radio Equipment available at bargain prices from Tom Benham, W3DD. Included are receivers, transmitter, frequency marker, transformers, filter capacitors, and chokes. For full description and prices write to T. A. Benham at 1043 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn, Pennsylvania 19312, or call (215) 296-2114.