Vol. 34, No.
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint, in Braille,
on cassette and
the World Wide Web and FTP on the Internet
The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
NFB Net BBS: (612) 696-1975
Web Page Address: http//www.nfb.org
Letters to the president,
subscription requests, orders for NFB literature,
articles for the Monitor, and letters to the editor
should be sent to the National Office.
cost the Federation about twenty-five dollars per year.
Members are invited, and non-members are requested, to cover
the subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to
National Federation of the Blind and sent to:
National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
THE BLIND IS NOT
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 34, No. 5 May 1991
BARBARA BUSH INVITES FEDERATION LEADERS TO THE WHITE HOUSE
by Marc Maurer
CRISIS IN BRAILLE LITERACY AND CANE TRAVEL AIRED IN DENVER POST
NAC TAKES BODY BLOWS: WARRANT ISSUED FOR GRANT MACK'S ARREST
by Kenneth Jernigan
THE OVERWHELMING QUESTION
by Marc Maurer
RASPBERRIES FOR RASPBERRY
by Peter Grunwald
NO CHRISTMAS SPIRIT AT AMERICAN AIRLINES
by Ted Young
JUST SAY "NO!"
by Bill J. Isaacs
MAKING HIS MARK IN THE KANSAS LEGISLATURE
PARENTING OUR BLIND CHILDREN
by Shirley Baillif
NEW LIBRARY FOR BLIND, PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED OK'D
CHANGING DIAPERS INTO DOLLARS
by Carol Coulter
THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE
by Jerry Whittle
LOW-INTEREST LOANS FOR TECHNOLOGY NOW AVAILABLE
Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1991
[LEAD PHOTO/CAPTION: On January 8, 1991, President Maurer presented the First Lady of the United States with a copy of our history, Walking Alone and Marching Together. Standing in front of the fireplace in the Diplomat Room at the White House (right to left) Marc Maurer, Barbara Bush, Peggy Pinder, and Barbara Pierce chat briefly before turning to the serious business of the crisis in Braille literacy.]
BARBARA BUSH INVITES FEDERATION
LEADERS TO THE WHITE HOUSE
by Marc Maurer
On January 9, 1991, five Federationists (Second Vice President Peggy Pinder, Associate Monitor Editor Barbara Pierce, Federation staff members Mrs. Tormey and Mrs. Miller, and I) went to the White House to meet with the First Lady of the United States. We went because Mrs. Bush had asked us to come to talk about the Federation and its objectives--about the problems, needs, hopes, and aspirations of the nation's blind. The fact of the ice storm on the previous night and the foggy dampness of the morning did nothing to diminish the upbeat nature of the occasion, which held such possible promise for the blind.
Our appointment was scheduled for 10:00 a.m., but because of necessary security procedures, we arrived early. Our Social Security numbers were checked; we passed through metal scanners; and our briefcases and purses were examined--all very courteously, but also very thoroughly. We were then escorted from the East Gate of the White House to the First Lady's waiting room, where we were greeted by Mrs. Bush's secretary and another staff member. This is a most imposing room, with portraits of former first ladies displayed on the walls.
In a few minutes we were taken through the corridors of the White House, past a display of Christmas cards which had been sent to President and Mrs. Bush, and into the Diplomats Room. This room has been given its name because it is where diplomats from foreign countries present their credentials to the President. It is also the departure point for the First Family when they go from the White House to the helicopter pad. As is true with every part of the White House, which in a real sense is the very symbol and focus of American history and tradition, the Diplomats Room is rich in memory. It contains the fireplace by which President Franklin D. Roosevelt sat to broadcast his fireside chats. We stood by that fireplace as we waited for the First Lady--and though I do not know what the others thought, I for one reflected on the continuity of what we are as a nation and a people. I also thought about how we who are blind are finally beginning to emerge as full participants in the American dream, struggling and hoping as other minorities before us have done.
The White House, of course, is not just a monument to America's past. It is also the nerve center of the nation's present--and it is the home and work environment of President and Mrs. Bush. It is a mixture of ceremony and informality, activity and memory. But informality and straightforward business predominated when Mrs. Bush entered the room. Without preliminary pomp or circumstance she walked to where we were standing and began introducing herself to us. Still, the ceremony was there, for members of the White House press corps were present, their cameras whirring to record the event on film.
We gave Mrs. Bush our book, Walking Alone and Marching Together, and she received it with obvious pleasure. We told her that it was the story of the struggle of the blind of America to achieve equal status and first-class membership in society. We told her of the 50,000-member National Federation of the Blind, of our dreams to have full lives and a chance to work and do for ourselves. We told her that we the blind want the right to succeed or fail like anybody else, the right to make the most of the talents we possess--and we told her we were proud of the United States and its leaders and traditions. We said that we were particularly proud to be meeting and talking with her because of her work in bringing literacy and education to focus in the public mind. I reminded her that she had taken a gift of Braille slates and styluses from the National Federation of the Blind for presentation to a school for the blind in Poland. She wanted to know how the slates worked, and I took one from my pocket and wrote her name for her in Braille.
Mrs. Bush showed great interest in the Braille writing and invited members of the press corps and the White House staff to examine it with her. Along with our book, Walking Alone and Marching Together, we gave Mrs. Bush a copy of Dr. Jernigan's 1990 national convention banquet address, "The Federation at Fifty." I said that President Bush was mentioned in the address, and the First Lady told me she would give it to him and ask him to read it.
Our visit with Mrs. Bush lasted for almost half an hour. She was interested in what we had to say, quick to understand the subtleties and nuances, and warmly congenial. Even though the crisis in the Middle East was developing at that very moment to a full crescendo, she gave us her full attention. She said that she was aware of the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind and that she admired our goals and programs. She said she would try to help us, and I believe she meant it.
There is no doubt in my mind that America's First Lady is convinced (especially after our visit) that the dreams of the blind of this country for a better tomorrow are inseparably joined to the future of the National Federation of the Blind. We told her of our fifty-year struggle for equal treatment--of the longing of the blind to be free, to be treated as equals, and to have opportunity. These very aspirations are, of course, in a broader sense the essence of the spirit that has built America. Mrs. Bush pledged that she would try to help disseminate our message, promote our spirit of independence, and work for a climate of acceptance for the blind. She said it--and I believe she meant it.
As we emerged from the White House on that morning of January 9, 1991, the ice of the night before was gone, and the fog of the early morning was only a memory. The sun was shining brightly. So may it be for the blind of this country--and, indeed, for the blind of the world. And so it will be if we make it happen.
CRISES IN BRAILLE LITERACY AND CANE TRAVEL
AIRED IN DENVER POST
From the Associate Editor: Late in 1990 Ed Will, a staff writer for the Denver Post, decided to do a story on the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. In the course of his research he contacted Diane McGeorge, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado and Executive Director of the Colorado Center for the Blind. She explained that she did not have first- hand information about the school for the blind, but she could talk about general education issues concerning blind students. During the lengthy interview that followed she mentioned several other people who might be helpful to Mr. Will. He contacted them all and spent long periods of time talking with each.
Then there was silence. Suddenly, on February 10, 1991, a story on the school for the deaf and issues of importance to the deaf community appeared in the Denver Post. The next day, February 11, two excellent stories appeared: one on the crisis in literacy among blind students and one discussing the unsatisfactory state of cane travel instruction for blind youngsters.
The piece was picked up by the Associated Press, which put the story on its wire. The New York Times was only one of a number of newspapers around the nation that ran an abbreviated version of the Denver Post's story on Braille literacy. All in all, February was a good month for alerting the public to the problems that face blind students today. Here are Ed Will's two stories from the Denver Post:
Braille Taking a Back Seat
Inadequate Braille instruction from public schools has left most blind students illiterate, say activists in the blind community.
"Illiteracy among blind children is a real crisis. I don't think it's adequate education if you let a student...get through college without the ability to read a sentence that they have written themselves," said Barbara Cheadle, President of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore. Nearly half of all blind and vision- impaired students, forty-eight percent, read Braille in 1965. But by 1989, the number had dropped to twelve percent, the American Printing House for the Blind reports.
Of blind students in 1965, about forty-three percent read large type, four percent used both Braille and large type, and five percent didn't read. By 1989, ten percent used both and thirty-two percent didn't read.
Cheadle traces the genesis of the decline to the 1950s, when parents began enrolling blind children in local schools rather than residential schools.
"It's hard to find a blind twenty-year-old who can read as well as the average blind person in my generation," said Cheadle, who is forty. "Some parents think their children don't need Braille, but they would if they knew blind professionals and saw them struggle to learn it at midlife."
The Federation's Colorado president, Diane McGeorge, also is executive director of the Colorado Center for the Blind, 2232 S. Broadway. Among the center's services are instruction in Braille, mobility, and the skills of daily living as a blind person.
"We get students who have been through high school and can't write with a slate and stylus," McGeorge said. "These are basic tools for writing Braille. I carry a slate and stylus around.... With the advent of the tape recorder, the educational system said, `Kids don't need to know Braille because everything is on tape.'
"We now have bright kids who can't take notes in the classroom."
Colorado schools routinely provide Braille instruction. "But if children have even a minimal amount of sight, they make them use closed-circuit television, which enlarges print for the kids. These kids aren't taught Braille."
Many Braille substitutes
Eight-year-old Matthew Chadwick is such a child. Matthew is legally blind. His clear vision range is two inches--and those two inches may be his biggest educational handicap, said his mother, Deborah Chadwick.
"There are so many blind and legally blind people that are illiterate that I felt it was very important to start him on Braille early," she said.
But Adams County School District 12 balked, saying he should use magnifying technology instead, she said.
As early as kindergarten, "I repeatedly asked about the Braille," she said. But she said the teacher would say, "Why do you want to do this to your child?...Look at this big machine (a Brailler) he would have to use. Why do you want your child to be different?"
"My whole thing is that I am not trying to make Matthew different. He was born different. I have tried to get him as close to other kids as possible."
When he entered first grade, the district agreed to let him learn Braille, but only after his mother requested a second meeting with educators responsible for creating the boy's yearly education plan, a federal requirement for all handicapped students.
"They get you in those meetings," Chadwick said. "You are a mother by yourself against a social worker, a speech and language specialist, a learning-disabled teacher, a psychologist, a vision-impaired teacher, and a homeroom teacher."
She brought reinforcements to the second meeting: McGeorge and Julie Hunter, whose blind teenage daughter Lauren attends Denver Public Schools.
Diane came with her seeing-eye dog, Chadwick recalled. "I think they knew from the start things were different....At the first (meeting), no one listened to me. It lasted about twenty minutes. The second lasted about an hour and ten minutes."
While Chadwick won Braille instruction for her son, an incident at the meeting foreshadowed more problems.
McGeorge had brought a report in Braille by Lauren. She asked the teacher for the vision-impaired to read it. The teacher couldn't.
"I thought, `Please read one word,'" Chadwick said. "But he didn't read even one word. He stumbled around a bit and said, `I am sorry. I am sorry.' I was actually embarrassed for him."
Change of Attitude
The other educators in the room also were embarrassed, and their attitudes changed. That's when they agreed to include Braille in the plan, she said.
"I celebrated after I won the Braille for him. I was so excited. But it was such a joke."
The man who could not read the report was Matthew's Braille teacher for the year. "That's who came in to my son's class for forty-five minutes a day for the rest of the year."
Said Pamela Edinger, special education administrator for the district, "Teachers who are trained to educate visually impaired children learn Braille visually and don't learn to read with their fingers--that takes several years." A person's inability to read Braille doesn't mean he or she can't teach it, she said.
Matthew's Braille teacher did not return to the district this school year. He has not been replaced, leaving the district without a certified teacher of the visually impaired. Edinger said the district is searching for such a teacher, but a shortage exists in the state. Meanwhile, a certified teacher from Boulder Valley School District works four hours a week in District 12. None of the district's eighteen visually impaired students studies Braille.
In this year's plan for Matthew--drawn up almost two months late--the district again agreed to teach him Braille. But no such instruction has taken place.
In the state's largest school district, Jefferson County, eleven of seventy-two blind or vision-impaired students receive Braille instruction. About half of the twenty-seven blind students in Denver schools take Braille.
"If a child is totally blind, the need for Braille is definitely obvious," said Sara Officer, a Jefferson County teacher for the vision-impaired. "If they have a visual impairment, it would depend on what their future is predicted to be, what their interest is in Braille, and whether the need is seen educationally for the near future."
"What does an eleven- or eight-year-old really want to learn?" McGeorge asked. "Do they want to learn spelling or math? But the teachers see those as important skills.
"They don't recognize how important Braille is to a student with some residual vision."
Officer doesn't disagree.
"Students can read enlarged print, but if you can teach them Braille now, it really helps later."
Karen Cox, a twenty-year-old student at McGeorge's center, used readers and magnifying systems to get through Pueblo public schools and two years at the University of Southern Colorado.
"I always got work from the teacher and went back to the visually handicapped department or room and had a teacher or an aide read it to me or used a closed-circuit TV that would enlarge the print," she said of her early school years.
She asked to be taught Braille when she was in elementary school. "They taught me the alphabet, which I forgot in two weeks. They figured I had some sight, so why not use it?" Karen learned to read, but very slowly. The effort strained her eyes, "so I would put off reading and my GPA suffered because of that. I always passed, but I never got higher than a 2.0. I missed out on a lot."
McGeorge said, "Karen is a very insightful and intelligent person. It's just that no one ever talked with her about the fact: `You're not a sighted person, but that is okay. You just need some different tools to work with.'
"People in the educational system think they are doing what's right for the kids, but then I get them (at the center), and they are trying to catch up."
That is what Ed Will of the Denver Post reported on Monday, February 11, and he accompanied this accurate assessment of literacy for the blind with an equally hard-hitting piece about cane travel. Here it is:
Activists Say Cane Skills, Too, Neglected
Cane training--a must for blind and vision-impaired children to become independent adults--has been neglected by most educators, says the Colorado chapter President of the National Federation of the Blind.
"They don't teach them to have pride in their cane travel. Pride in using the cane for us as blind people is our key to independence," Diane McGeorge said.
"It is a great feeling to be able to take your cane and get on a bus and take care of your own errands." Karen Cox now knows that feeling, but she was nineteen when she first boarded a bus by herself.
"It was pretty scary at first, but I got used to it," said Cox, now twenty and a student at the Colorado Center for the Blind.
In Pueblo public schools, she said, her mobility training lasted once a week for a month. She was taught how to get to school and to get around at school and in her neighborhood.
"That's a common message: you will only be going around these prescribed areas, so you don't need to know any others," said McGeorge, executive director of the blind center.
Neither Cox nor her parents sought more training.
That was not the case for Lauren Hunter, a thirteen-year-old eighth grader at Kunsmiller Middle School in Denver. Julie Hunter started trying to get the Denver Public Schools to teach her daughter cane travel in the second grade. She was told Lauren was too young.
"One reason they gave us was that a cane would be dangerous to other kids," Hunter said. "You can imagine what it would be like on the playground, having someone take you out and then come back and get you after recess. You would be unable to explore, to find the swings or the jungle gym."
That summer, she took Lauren to an Albuquerque school where a mobility trainer taught young children cane travel.
"We came back to Lauren's school and told them, `We really don't think you can say she is not ready to do this.' They acquiesced."
Students in Jefferson County schools must learn several other things before they are introduced to the cane, said Sara Officer, a teacher for the vision-impaired.
"Assuming that they have a good basic concept of direction; left and right; and position in space (front, back, and sides), you start out with what's called pre-cane technique, which is using your arms to protect yourself, trailing the wall with your hand, and learning how to recognize and familiarize a space. Such as when you enter a new room, you get a mental picture of what the room is like. After those are established, then you can introduce a cane."
The National Federation of the Blind disagrees. "We very much recommend that children be given canes as soon as they can walk," said Rosemary Lerdahl of the Federation's headquarters in Baltimore. "They are not going to use it properly, of course, but they can get used to it and learn what it can do for them."
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Portrait of Kenneth Jernigan.]
NAC TAKES BODY BLOWS:
WARRANT ISSUED FOR GRANT MACK'S ARREST
by Kenneth Jernigan
In mid-February of this year the courts of Cook County, Illinois, issued the following document:
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF
COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
People of the State of Illinois
Case No. 90 122467
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS TO ALL PEACE OFFICERS IN THE STATE--GREETING:
We command you to Arrest Grant Mack (Defendant) for the offense of Chapter 38 Section 123, Battery. Stated in a charge now pending before this court, and that you bring him before The Circuit Court of Cook County at Branch 134, 155 West 51st Street, or, if I am absent or unable to act, the nearest or most accessible court in Cook County or, if this warrant is executed in a county other than Cook, before the nearest or most accessible judge in the county where the arrest is made.
Issued in Cook County
February 11, 1991
Bail Fixed at $3,000.00
Information and Description of Defendant
Name: Grant Mack; Alias: ---; Residence: 2224 Panorama Way, Salt Lake City, Utah 84124; Sex: Male; Race: White; Weight: 170; Height: 5 feet, 7 inches; Age: 58.
The events leading up to this unusual document are as noteworthy as the fact of its issuance. As readers of this publication know (see the January, 1991, Braille Monitor), the group that calls itself the National Committee for the Advancement of Accreditation met in Chicago on December 8, 1990. Regardless of what this committee may call itself, it is, of course, in reality only the administration of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC), desperately trying to keep itself alive--an increasingly difficult task.
The Chicago meeting was a disgraceful display of NAC at its worst. The chairman of the meeting, Grant Mack, later admitted in writing that he grabbed a microphone out of the hands of Steve Hastalis, who was serving as a reporter for the Braille Monitor, and threw it to the floor, breaking it to pieces. Mack also publicly used disgustingly foul language and otherwise behaved in a manner not calculated to inspire respect either for himself or for NAC, the organization he was representing. Mack (a current member of the board of the American Foundation for the Blind, chairman of the board of National Industries for the Blind, and a past president of the American Council of the Blind); Dennis Hartenstine (NAC's executive director); Oral Miller (national representative of the American Council of the Blind); and the few other NAC stalwarts who were present made no friends for NAC in Chicago on December 8, 1990. Instead, they conducted themselves in such an objectionable manner that a number of those whom they had invited as guests and presumably hoped to convert were so embarrassed and humiliated that they came to the Federationists who were there and apologized for what had occurred. What NAC had intended to be a triumph became a fiasco.
But this was not all. The consequences of Grant Mack's assault upon Steve Hastalis were not to end with the evening's activities. Hastalis went to the police and swore out a complaint, and a court date was set for January 3, 1991. When the date arrived, Steve Hastalis (as the complaining witness) appeared in the Cook County Circuit Courtroom. Grant Mack did not appear. Instead, he sent a local lawyer, George Weaver, to speak on his behalf. When Mack's assault and battery case was called in the usual morning court call (among the cases of persons who had spent the night in jail), Mr. Weaver walked to the front and asked that the case be dismissed. The judge declined and said that he would take the matter up after he had finished the other business of the morning.
After all other cases were disposed of, the judge again called Mack's case. Attorney Weaver, carrying a big accordion file with Mack's name on its face in large letters, marched back up to the judge and renewed his efforts to put an end to the case. Mr. Weaver said that his client, Mr. Mack, was an elderly blind man who lived all the way out in Utah, implying that it would be a hardship for Mack to appear in court. Moreover, said Weaver, Mack had no intention of doing so.
In an attempt to show mercy as well as justice, the judge set a new hearing date for February 11, 1991. When the date arrived, Hastalis was present, but neither Mack nor his lawyer was to be seen. At that stage the judge issued the warrant (printed at the beginning of this article) for Mack's arrest. If Mack is found anywhere in the state of Illinois (including the Chicago airport), he will be subject to arrest and will presumably either have to post bond or go to jail to await trial.
Mack's debacle is not all that has been happening to NAC of late. Under date of January 16, 1991, Dennis Hartenstine (NAC's executive director) sent a statement to the National Council on Disability to try to enlist its help in getting Congress to tie the receipt of federal money to accreditation when reauthorizing the federal Rehabilitation Act. Hartenstine said that there were two objectives which could be achieved by such linking: "(1) Improving the quality of, and access to, rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities; and (2) Ensuring accountability for program performance in the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities and for proper and effective utilization of Federal funds."
Later, on the same page, Hartenstine spelled out what he meant. His exact words were: "As discussed previously, the two objectives can be realized in part through a requirement that uniform standards be met by grantees under the Act, and that the continuous adherence to such standards is to be assured through accreditation. The linkage of Federal funding to accreditation will (1) improve the quality of services to individuals with disabilities; (2) provide a mechanism for monitoring of program performance; (3) ensure accountability for program performance; and (4) satisfy the Department of Education and the Congress that Federal funds are properly and effectively utilized."
One would not expect such statements to endear Hartenstine or NAC to Nell Carney, the federal commissioner of rehabilitation, or to the regional officials of the Rehabilitation Services Administration or the state directors. It is doubtful that very many of those in the rehabilitation establishment feel the need for an outside private group (especially NAC) to monitor their work and assure Congress and the public of their accountability. As might have been expected, the repercussions have been widespread and numerous.
With the poet, NAC might say that sorrows come not singly but in battalions. The following excerpt from the minutes of the February 4, 1991, meeting of Region 1 of the General Council of Workshops for the Blind (GCWB) is a case in point:
The General Council of Workshops for the Blind
Region 1 Meeting
Lighthouse Industries for the Blind
Long Island City, New York
February 4, 1991
3. NAC Issues. The debate over the funding of NAC continues to be an issue within the General Council of Workshops for the Blind (GCWB). We do not have any indication this will come up at the next National Industries for the Blind (NIB) Board of Directors meeting, but in case it does, Region 1 wished to reiterate its position.
A. Pressure on the issue is being brought by Grant Mack, Chairman of the NIB Board. Indications are that this is a personal issue for Grant, who is strongly affiliated with the American Council of the Blind, who has supported this program in the past.
B. NAC has hired a lobbyist to attempt to bring political pressure to fund NAC through the RSA Appropriations Bill. RSA has questioned the wisdom of NIB money being used to lobby for RSA appropriations.
C. The Committee for Purchase from the Blind and Other Severely Handicapped (the Committee) has questioned NIB over this issue as well, having relatively the same concerns as RSA. This is a potentially embarrassing issue for the Committee.
D. Both RSA and the Committee question NIB on pressing for legislation that prohibits a workshop from receiving government contracts under the Javits-Wagner-O'Day program unless it is accredited by NAC.
E. Region 1 maintains its position that NIB funds should not be used to support NAC. A copy of Charlie Fegan's comments regarding this issue is attached. Mr. Fegan's position was adopted without dissent by Region 1 at the GCWB Annual Convention in New Orleans in 1990.
F. The Committee also asked that an informal meeting be held Saturday evening, May 4th, in Orlando with representatives of the other three regions, to discuss this and other relevant issues.
G. Region 1 reaffirms its position that because of the conflict of interest issues involved, our position remains the same, namely: "NIB funds should not be used to support activities of any organization outside the GCWB/NIB family." (This position was adopted by Region 1 in Norfolk on 20 May, 1990.)
H. We further recommend the GCWB press NIB to discontinue funding of such activities, specifically, support of NAC, effective immediately.
So said the minutes of region one of the General Council of Workshops on February 4, 1991, and the sentiment was a harbinger of what was to come. The Committee for Purchase from the Blind and Other Severely Handicapped met in Washington on February 14, 1991, and National Industries for the Blind was called to account for its funding of NAC. RSA commissioner Nell Carney was not alone in expressing displeasure with NAC's behavior. Particularly, the chairman of the Committee (Rear Admiral D. W. McKinnon, Jr.) showed concern. By the end of the meeting it was clear how the tide was running, as indicated by the following letter:
February 15, 1991
Mr. George J. Mertz, President
National Industries for the Blind
Wayne, New Jersey
Dear Mr. Mertz:
I am writing with respect to concerns that have surfaced regarding the National Industries for the Blind's (NIB) financial support for operations of the National Accreditation Council (NAC).
The concerns relate to NAC's efforts to persuade Congress to amend the Rehabilitation Act to require accreditation for State agencies and other recipients of funds authorized by that Act. As reported at yesterday's Committee meeting by Nell Carney, Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) and Committee member representing the Department of Education, there is widespread perception that NIB is financing this lobbying effort. During her remarks to the Committee, Commissioner Carney took strong exception to the NAC effort and expressed concern that the perceived link between it and NIB could jeopardize State Voc Rehab agencies' support for the Javits-Wagner-O'Day (JWOD) Program.
Ms. Carney advised the Committee that the Executive Branch opposes the approach being advocated by NAC and that characterizations of RSA policies and procedures contained in a NAC statement on its proposal were erroneous. With respect to State agencies' support for facilities participating in JWOD, Ms. Carney noted that such agencies' extreme opposition to the mandatory accreditation approach sought by NAC, coupled with their perception of NIB's support for that approach, could influence their attitudes toward referring individuals not only to NIB workshops but possibly to National Industries for the Severely Handicapped (NISH) facilities as well. The Committee is cognizant of your directive that NAC not use any NIB resources for the effort to link Federal funding to accreditation.
We know that the NIB Board shares the Committee's desire that this matter not have a detrimental effect upon the JWOD Program and the individuals it serves. We would appreciate your consideration of the Committee's concerns as you deliberate on continued support for NAC and the conditions under which any support is provided.
As indicated at yesterday's meeting, we would like to be kept apprised of NIB's decisions on this matter, especially as they relate to the perception that NIB is now part of a lobbying effort that serves to discredit RSA and call into question the work of the Committee and the central nonprofit agencies.
D. W. McKinnon, Jr.
Rear Admiral, SC, USN
Committee for Purchase from the Blind
and Other Severely Handicapped
There is something which is called the bandwagon effect. This is not what is happening to NAC. More fitting are the proverbs about sinking ships. When the cause is obviously lost, very few feel called upon to stand on the deck and hold the flag high while the waves sweep them under. The following letter is
Wayne, New Jersey
February 21, 1991
Dear Admiral McKinnon:
This is to advise you that the Board of Directors of National Industries for the Blind (NIB) at its meeting held on February 16, 1991, voted to discontinue its budget support to the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). This decision to discontinue funding for the third year of NAC's plan to achieve financial independence was based on the fact that there was minimal progress reported by NAC in their goal of achieving this objective. It was also felt that this goal could not be accomplished during the third year of their plan.
The Board also reviewed and discussed the Committee's concerns expressed in your letter of February 15, 1991, regarding the perceived link of NIB's funding for NAC and the issue of mandatory accreditation sought by NAC. While the Board remains unequivocally committed to the concept of accreditation as a means of insuring quality services to blind individuals, the NIB Board has not and never will advocate mandatory accreditation as a means for acquiring federal funds under the Rehabilitation Act. Also, the Board was very emphatic that NIB has not and will not be involved in any lobbying effort to promote this concept. Certainly there was no intention on NIB's part to discredit the work of the Rehabilitation Services Administration or any other government entity because of our support of accreditation.
Admiral McKinnon, although the Board found it necessary to discontinue providing financial support for NAC for reasons stated above, NIB firmly believes in proper standards and voluntary accreditation for workshops and agencies serving blind and multidisabled blind persons and will continue to promote this important concept.
George J. Mertz
cc: Ms. Beverly L. Milkman
Mr. Grant Mack
So regardless of the sugar-coated language, and despite the vehement protests of the chairman of its board, National Industries for the Blind left the sinking ship. And concern also began to be expressed by top officials of the American Foundation for the Blind, NAC's last remaining major financial supporter. There is only one more year left of possible AFB funding for NAC, and there are those who say that the funding will not materialize.
Be this as it may, the behavior of NAC and its officials is now becoming a severe embarrassment to the American Foundation. This is evidenced by the fact that the Foundation had no representative at the latest meeting of the National Committee for the Advancement of Accreditation--or, as one AFB official dubbed it, "Grant Mack's road show." The road show met in a suburb of San Francisco on Thursday, March 21, 1991, and Mack and Hartenstine were much in evidence; but the Foundation was not-- nor was most anybody else. The road show was sparsely attended. In fact, it may have been closing night.
As Sharon Gold, the President of the National Federation of the Blind of California, reported: "There were approximately twenty-three people in attendance at the dinner. Two of these were Fred Schroeder and Joyce Scanlan, our representatives, who were permitted to attend the dinner. Two were Ruth Ann and Bob Acosta. Three were from the Don Queen family, and four were from the family of Allen Jenkins. Also present were Grant Mack and Dennis Hartenstine from NAC, and a staff member from the California Council of the Blind. This accounts for fourteen people. The remainder were from a handful of agencies. We outnumbered the dinner guests more than two to one."
As Miss Gold said in her later report to the blind of California: "Thursday, March 21, 1991, will be remembered as yet another significant day in the history of the Federation and our determination to be independent blind people. On Wednesday we learned that the National Committee for the Advancement of Accreditation planned a dinner meeting for Thursday evening at the Holiday Inn Crown Plaza in Burlingame. To disguise their intent, the dinner was scheduled by the California Council of the Blind, and the letters of invitation were issued to agency heads by Robert Acosta. Grant Mack was to be the speaker and would enlighten all who attended on the value of accreditation--in other words, NAC. We had twenty-four hours to plan our own meeting, an informational meeting to be held outside the NAC meeting. Federationists from California and other states put aside their personal lives and came to San Francisco to join together to deliver once again our message to the public. More than forty of us were on hand."
A final comment from Sharon Gold is worth mentioning. "Hostility and hatred," she said, "win few friends while good manners and a genuine concern for others win respect." These words are especially relevant when considering the appearance of the road show in California, for although there was some general talk about the value of accreditation, the principal focus of the meeting was a violent thirty-minute tirade of hate against the National Federation of the Blind, expressed by Bob Acosta. As in Chicago, the agency officials who had been brought to the meeting to be converted went away embarrassed and humiliated. Fred Schroeder and Joyce Scanlan, the two Federationists who were permitted to sit in the room and attend the dinner, were courteous and polite throughout the long attack, making no response at all. Later they were approached by some of the invited guests, who apologized for the boorish behavior to which the Federationists had been exposed.
So we draw closer and closer to the demise of NAC, and it is hard to rejoice--for NAC is dying neither gracefully nor constructively. In its waning days it is doing what it has always done--hurting blind people and injuring programs established to serve the blind. It is damaging quality services and lowering standards.
When NAC is gone (which will surely not be long), there would appear to be few issues left to divide the blindness field. May it be so--and may it be soon.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Portrait of Zach Shore.]
THE OVERWHELMING QUESTION
From the Associate Editor: Many of us have learned through hard experience to be cautious when reporters approach us with the idea of doing a human interest story about our lives as blind people or about some particular activity in which we engage. We know that the easy and obvious story angle is wide-eyed wonder at our overcoming obstacles and accomplishing our goals despite the heavy burden of blindness. The dilemma is to decide whether the advantages of showing the public a blind person living a normal life and of discussing frankly the profound problems that face us (unemployment, illiteracy, and discrimination, to name only three) outweigh the disadvantage of risking the dramatic, even heroic portrayal of our most ordinary actions and everyday accomplishments.
Still more difficult is the decision about what to do when we read such stories about other blind people in the local newspaper. Should we respond publicly in an attempt to put the person's accomplishments in true perspective and thereby risk appearing to be a spoilsport? Alternatively, should we remain silent and allow one more layer of misconception, extravagant praise, and inappropriate flattery to settle over blind people, weighing us down on our slog toward truth and equal treatment? It takes courage and nerve to decide on action because one is bound to offend the newspaper, the featured blind person, his friends and relatives, those readers who know what they think and would rather not be confronted by the facts, or all of the above.
This is precisely the quandary in which Federationist Zach Shore of Seattle, Washington, found himself on January 1, 1991. That day the Seattle Times published a story about a young blind lawyer, who is clearly making a success of his personal life and career. The piece got emotional mileage from the fact that the blind lawyer (Peter Dawson) lost his sight in an accident a week before high school graduation--admittedly a major setback to a young man planning an athletic career in college. The newspaper article went on to detail Dawson's skiing and climbing; his successful debut in a law firm; and his tenacity, patience, and sense of humor. The reporter, Sherry Stripling, did a fine job of bringing her subject to life, and the article was clearly viewed by most of her readers as an inspiring way to usher in the New Year.
Zach Shore works at the Seattle Times in the Customer Service Department. He read the New Year's Day story and understood both what an admirable person Peter Dawson must be and what misconceptions about blindness the piece had reinforced in the minds of the public. He undertook to set the record straight if he could. He wrote an opinion piece, which was published on January 14, 1991, and waited to see what would happen. Here are the original story and Zach's as they appeared in the Seattle Times:
Peter Dawson: He's Blind
But He's Opened Others' Eyes
Peter Dawson knew that as a blind man going into law, with its heavy requirement for reading, he would have frustrating days. And he does.
But when the woman who has read aloud to him for thirteen years suggests he try an easier profession--such as brain surgery--she's only half kidding. She wouldn't bet money that he wouldn't or couldn't do it.
Lillian Lipman has watched Dawson grow from a boy struggling with his sudden blindness to a man she greatly admires. He doesn't have wings, she said, but she has seen him soar.
"He will pursue something until there's nothing left to pursue," said Lipman, who calls Dawson the most considerate man she's ever met. "He'll trace down details that other people didn't bother with. Consequently, he has found answers that have changed laws for the betterment of people."
Sighted lawyers have an advantage in that they can skim through written material until they come to the segment they need to read in detail. Dawson must hear every word, which takes more time. He also is uncommonly thorough, which takes even more time.
When Lane, Powell, Spears, Lubersky (then Lane, Powell, Moss, & Miller) took a gamble and hired him out of the University of Washington's law school, it sometimes took Dawson seven days to do the work a sighted lawyer could do in five.
He did it, using high-tech scanners, word synthesizers, computer data bases, and people such as Lipman, who serve as personal readers.
And he added a dimension to the firm. He picked up details about clients that other lawyers missed, said Jim Stoetzer, a partner, because his senses other than sight are heightened.
But Dawson needed to become more efficient, and so he became more specialized, discovering a particular knack for personal injury liability cases, which gave him more client contact, another of his strengths.
Last February he started a solo practice. He still wonders from month to month whether he'll make it, but few people associated with him have doubts.
Dawson, son of a doctor and a nurse, did not follow a lifelong dream to become a lawyer. A week before his high school graduation, he lost his sight in a dirt bike accident while celebrating with other Mercer Island seniors. He had athletic scholarships waiting for him and had been accepted by the U.S. Navy flying program.
"Everything was there for the taking, and the carpet was pulled out," said Dawson, thirty-one.
Though that summer he began the first of some twenty eye and facial operations that are still ongoing, he was determined to take his place at the UW that fall.
But he was ashamed of the white cane. He didn't know about technological aids. He found himself dependent on other people, and he hated it.
"The stereotypes of blindness were so negative that I just didn't want to have anything to do with it," said Dawson. "All I could picture was people with tin cups selling pencils on the corner."
The State Department of Services for the Blind coaxed him into coming to Olympia for a year to learn how to live independently.
"It was the lowest point of my life," he said. But while there he met people struggling with other health issues, and he began to appreciate that he was still a strapping youth. He made friends. He regained confidence. As he prepared to re-enter the university, one of his Olympia teachers painstakingly carved a relief map of the 1,618-acre campus, which Dawson memorized.
Dawson did better every quarter and learned to rely on his intelligence, where formerly he relied on athletic prowess.
Not that he hasn't continued to enjoy his physical life. One of his five brothers skis with him, telling him through a headset what's coming. "Tree on your left." "Great-looking girl on your right." Still Dawson has fallen into his share of ravines.
When his former associate, Stoetzer, followed him on the company climb of Mount Rainier, Stoetzer concluded Dawson had the will to do almost anything.
That wasn't the common belief when Dawson decided to enter law school after graduating from the UW with distinction in history. He was told he would be eaten alive. He was told he would never keep up with the book work.
Lipman, who by that time had been reading to Peter as a volunteer for four years, almost punched one naysayer in the nose.
Lipman is now past retirement age but still takes the ferry and the bus from Bainbridge Island at least twice a week to read for Dawson. They are close enough that she feels free to size up his girlfriends. He appreciates her tenacity. She appreciates his sense of humor and patience.
"I've seen him perturbed, but never angry," she said. "He has obviously accepted whatever has happened to him with good grace."
While Dawson recalls undergraduate school fondly, law school was painful. He sent books to an association in the East that read them onto tapes. But law books are huge and easily outdated, and Dawson was limited in how many books he could send and how often he could get them updated.
It took him an extra year, but he made it. He passed the bar examination on the second try, after logistical adjustments were made to accommodate his disability.
He worked at the attorney general's office while in school and could have kept on with the work, which he liked. But he chose to go into private practice, a more difficult path because the company can't charge customers more even though it might take Dawson longer to complete written research.
Stoetzer remembers that his law firm was impressed that Dawson didn't promise more than he felt he could deliver. With technology catching up, one thing Dawson could promise was that he could do his own research.
In his office now in the Westin Building, Dawson sits surrounded by machines. He has two tape players for dictating letters. He has a scanner that can read legal documents or mail and download the information onto his personal word processor.
The information then comes to him by voice synthesizer. Five years ago, he listened to the same monotone voice for ten and eleven hours at a sitting until he thought he'd go crazy. Now there are a variety of livelier voices with handles such as Huge Harry and Whispering Wendy.
Dawson can access data bases, like Westlaw, that have every new case from Hong Kong to London on line within twenty-four hours of the judgment.
Lipman is impressed that Dawson goes to plays and films and comes back to tell about the nuances. There's not much he's missed in his travels either (he has ventured three times to Eastern and Western Europe); travel companion Per Danielsson says his optimism and spirit touched people's lives wherever they went. That and his sense of humor make him a valuable asset to the Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted.
Next year Dawson will become the first blind president of the board in the agency's twenty-five-year history.
June Mansfield, executive director, says Dawson is so open about his blindness that he makes people feel comfortable asking questions and dispels misunderstanding.
In the beginning blindness was like living in a closet, Dawson said. His world was only as wide as his arms could reach. But, as the years went by, his sense of hearing and touch became more sensitive, and slowly the world expanded.
"You become more aware of the wind and the sun and the moisture in the air and the sounds associated with different birds," said Dawson. "You grab at whatever you can to help you take in the world in a different way."
That is the way the article ended, and Zach Shore felt that it was too sentimentalized to go unchallenged. He felt that in and of itself the article was such that something had to be done to set the record straight. Here is what he wrote:
Blind People Saddened, Angered by Times Article
by Zach Shore
I am the editor of "The Blind Washingtonian," the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington. I work as a customer service representative for The Seattle Times, and I am also blind.
It doesn't take a master logician to discover that there is a direct correlation between the New Year's Day article in The Times on a blind lawyer and the fact that my phone has been ringing off the hook ever since.
What's all the fuss about? The reactions I have heard to Sherry Stripling's piece entitled, "Peter Dawson: He's blind, but he's opened others' eyes," fall into two categories. Almost every sighted person who has read the article has remarked how impressed he or she was with this brave blind man's success. Every blind person I spoke with has had reactions ranging from outrage to disgust.
What phenomenon can so impress the sighted and so depress the blind? I think the answer lies in an incident that occurred the other day. In fact, an incident just like it occurred the day before that, and similar incidents occur nearly every day. I walked into my bank to deposit my paycheck. When I was ready to endorse the check, I asked the teller to line up my Visa card with the line I needed to sign. Once I endorsed it, the teller remarked, "That's amazing."
"What is?" I asked.
"That you sign your name so well. It's just fantastic how well you do things."
I told her that it really wasn't so incredible, but she insisted that it was. I smiled, thanked her, and wished her a good day. But I had to bite my lip to keep from saying,"If you think that's impressive, you oughtta see me tie my shoes!" If we were to draw up a list of the greatest challenges facing blind people in America today, we would probably include unemployment, poverty, and finding good rehabilitation and decent education. All these conditions afflict us as a minority. Yet, none is as crippling as the teller's kind words.
These adverse conditions are not causes but effects. The reason for the second-class state of the blind is expressed in the sentiment, "It amazes me how well you sign your name."
Most sighted people, like the teller, are astounded by such simple actions because they do not believe the blind are as capable as they are themselves. This is the real root of our problems: not blindness, but the public's misconceptions about us. It is also why blind people are so saddened by Stripling's piece.
Throughout the article, numerous facts and quotes about Dawson's life are cited to stress his courage. Much is made of his recreation habits: skiing and climbing. His sighted reader states, "He has obviously accepted what has happened to him with good grace"--and "He has no wings; yet, I've seen him soar."
Yet, all of Dawson's accomplishments are presented as exceptional because of his blindness. Many blind people find this demeaning because it suggests that when a blind person lives a normal life--working, playing, contributing to the community--he or she is automatically thought of as amazing, heroic, and unique. But blindness need not prevent anyone from living a normal life, and when we do the same things as everyone else, we are neither wondrous nor brave.
Another falsehood in this piece is the notion that Dawson's loss of eyesight enhanced his other senses. A blind person's senses are no better than anyone else's. Some people cannot understand why we object to this age-old myth since it makes the blind appear more capable.
We object for the same reason that most Asian Americans prefer the label Asian to Oriental. While Oriental sounds more exotic and intriguing, it is that very difference which most Asians eschew. The blind, like every other minority, want to get the same treatment as the majority, and the way to get equal treatment is not with exotic labels or false claims of superior senses.
Many blind people took exception to the portrayal of Dawson as being less capable than his peers: "Sometimes it would take him seven days to do what other lawyers did in five." In no way do I wish to diminish Dawson's achievements as a lawyer. However, I know at least twenty blind lawyers, and I can assure you they are every bit as efficient as their sighted peers. If they were not, their employers would not have hired them, or their private businesses would have failed.
The Dawson profile, though written with the best intentions, misled the public and hurt the blind. It left the impression that because he is blind, we applaud Dawson's courageous struggle to be almost normal.
If the Times ran a similar profile on an African American lawyer and noted how amazing it was for that person to have managed to live a normal life despite his debilitating characteristic, the public outcry would be deafening. We in the National Federation of the Blind are proving daily that blindness is just a characteristic: nothing more or less.
Dawson, Stripling, and all of us have, at one time or another, fallen victim to the fallacy that equates blindness with helplessness and incompetence. Whenever a blind person disproves these notions, we are tempted to glorify him as the exception and profile him as a credit to his kind. When we spotlight a special person to praise for his achievements, and the fact of his blindness is mentioned only in passing, then we will truly have done a deed worth writing about.
That is what Zach Shore wrote, and as soon as it was published, the feathers (as the saying goes) began to fly. There were letters to the editor, including one published on February 6, 1991, written by Jane Malbon, a woman who had known Dawson for years and viewed Shore's piece as a personal attack on her friend rather than as a thoughtful discussion of a systemic problem facing all blind people.
Her argument seems to be that her friend has accomplished impressive things and is a wonderful human being. He has done all this while overcoming blindness, and that makes him heroic. The heart of her argument would appear to be this section of her letter: "To dismiss the struggles involved in attaining his considerable success is to diminish in a way his achievements. The real value of achievement reflects the amount of effort put into it." This is what Mrs. Malbon says, and I am not sure what she intends by the word "reflects" in her last sentence; but I assume she means that the real value of achievement can only be assessed by measuring the amount of effort that goes into it.
This is certainly the case when one deals with young children or adults with debilitating mental illness or mental retardation. Out of compassion and in recognition that it is inappropriate to expect real achievement from such people, we take into consideration how hard they work and how much they want to succeed.
But in the competitive world of adult achievement, success has always been measured in accomplishment. The average college student who works hard for C's does not win admission to Phi Beta Kappa or medical school. The A student, on the other hand, who finds time for student government, theater performance, and tutoring inner city youngsters can write his or her own ticket, regardless of how little time is spent on studying. In cosmic terms this may not seem fair, but it is the way things have always worked. The fact that Ms. Malbon presumes that blind people should be measured by the amount of their effort rather than by their actual achievement reinforces Zach Shore's point. Here is what Ms. Malbon wrote to the editor on February 6, 1991:
Lawyer Who is Blind Also Happens to be Heroic
Editor, The Times:
In response to Zach Shore's January 14 opinion piece, "Blind people saddened, angered by Times article," Mr. Shore argues that the article written about a blind attorney, Peter Dawson, is an insult to the blind community at large because "all of Dawson's accomplishments are portrayed as exceptional because of his blindness."
The original article was a part of an ongoing series entitled, "Ordinary People," designed to show the aspects of interest and heroism that can be found in everyday people. Having known Peter Dawson for many years, I have seen what he's had to overcome and what he has achieved, and he is indeed heroic.
No one who knows Pete applauds his "courageous struggle to be almost normal." People applaud his ability to be exceptional-- and we're not talking about the ability to sign his name. To dismiss the struggles involved in attaining his considerable success is to diminish in a way his achievements. The real value of achievement reflects the amount of effort put into it.
Shore was upset by the statement that when Pete first started working for a law firm, it "sometimes took Dawson seven days to do the work a sighted lawyer could do in five." He, and many blind people evidently, translated this one statement into the perception that the article portrayed Pete as "less capable than his peers" and thus shed a poor light on all blind attorneys.
I don't believe the article implied anything but that Pete is extraordinarily capable. Acknowledging that blind people may encounter difficulties is not to fall victim to the fallacy that equates blindness with helplessness and incompetence, for every person, blind or not, has his or her own special set of "limitations" with which they must deal, and certainly all people encounter difficulties.
To acknowledge that someone has overcome a terrible adversity (and literally losing both eyes at age eighteen certainly qualifies) and has come out so wonderfully is a story that deserves to be told.
That's what Ms. Malbon had to say to the editor of the Times, and a week later Peter Dawson weighed in with his own comments. He fastened on an argument made late in Shore's article as the main point of the piece. Zach pointed out that he had no intention of undercutting Dawson's abilities as a lawyer, but that the author made an issue of his requiring seven days when he began working for the law firm to do what sighted attorneys did in five. Shore went on to talk about his observation that good blind lawyers are just as efficient as sighted ones and that it is demeaning when readers are left to infer that blind people are necessarily slower than their sighted competition.
Dawson, however, assumes that Shore is criticizing him. The defense he makes of his methods and strengths as an attorney sound fair and accurate; his only mistake is in assuming that Shore intended to insult him.
Dawson concludes his piece with his version of the old "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar" argument. He interprets as bitterness Shore's recognition of the public's misplaced admiration for everyday competence of the blind. He forgets that Shore did not snap at the bank teller. He smiled and wished her a good day. Dawson is right in thinking that bitterness corrodes the soul and incapacitates the body, but until blind people face the fact that the public holds us down and keeps us out with their admiration of the commonplace as surely as they do with insults and hatred, we cannot move forward into first-class status. Zach Shore was on target when he identified our response to stories like the New Year's Day one as sadness and anger, both healthy emotions, and ones Dawson would do well to look for in himself. He is obviously too intelligent not to experience them occasionally, and he would be stronger and more effective if he could admit them. Here is the article he wrote for publication on February 13, 1991, in the Seattle Times:
Bitterness Doesn't Help Blind or Sighted
by Peter G. Dawson
Zach Shore's January 14 Special to the Times, entitled "Blind people saddened, angered by Times article," was written in response to a January 1, Times article about a blind lawyer in Seattle.
Shore made some good points about important issues affecting the blind. However, as the subject of his response, I was also offended by Shore's inference that I was less efficient than other blind lawyers and therefore a damaging example for the blind.
In my opinion, the primary focus of Shore's response was the statement in the original article, "Sometimes it would take him seven days to do what other lawyers did in five." This statement was made in reference to my last job, at a large private firm in Seattle.
Shore indicated that as editor of the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington, his telephone "rang off the hook" with calls from blind people whose reaction to the original article ranged from "outrage to disgust."
He followed by stating, "I know at least twenty blind attorneys, and I can assure you they are every bit as efficient as their sighted peers. If they were not, their employers would not have hired them or their private businesses would have failed."
The original article was not about Shore, his twenty friends, or blind people as a category. It was a story about one young man who was blinded in an accident at age eighteen and happened to go on to be a lawyer.
The transition from sight to blindness was difficult for me. I worked extremely hard to get where I am today. It hurts me that these blind people were outraged and disgusted by my best effort. This effort included the fact that a certain type of work "sometimes" took me longer.
I believe blind professionals can be just as good and efficient as their sighted peers, and two things should be clarified. First, dictating a letter, meeting with a client, taking a deposition, or negotiating over the phone generally takes me no longer than anyone else. I believe I am just as fast or faster on shorter legal research projects.
Secondly, as far as I know, I am the first totally blind attorney ever to have been hired by a large private law firm in this state. I don't know what kind of work Shore's twenty friends are in, but I would make a good guess that the majority of them are solo practitioners or work for the federal, state, county, or city government. I know of only two other blind attorneys in the rest of the country who were hired as associates in established large private law firms. Like them, I tried to break through the ice into the private sector.
New associates in these private firms often spend most of their time on legal research and writing. One of the reasons I obtained my job at the firm and my previous job in the Washington state attorney general's office was my ability to independently do complex legal research through the use of computer legal data bases in conjunction with a voice synthesizer.
Most legal materials have large amounts of citations, numbers and footnotes. Although special software allows me to skip around the text to a certain degree, I must listen to most of this extraneous information so I don't miss any important text.
Hence, on long research projects in particular, voluminous amounts of reading "sometimes" took me longer than my sighted associates. Live readers could somewhat alleviate this problem, but the ability to anticipate and schedule them is limited, and I could not count on them to be there late at night or on weekends so I could meet project deadlines.
I doubt very much that any of Shore's friends could have done these particular projects any faster. On the other hand, future advancements in software and other technology, allowing us to do things such as skip legal citations, will make it faster.
I thought obtaining an associate position at a large private law firm would help other blind people. I am disappointed that Shore took facts about my life and compared them to "almost everyday" incidents that "so depressed the blind." The incident Shore used as an analogy was a bank teller who was amazed that Shore could sign his name on a check.
It is wrong for Shore to be depressed about the particular facts of my life. It's unfortunate that he and the blind people who called him feel bombarded by depressing incidents on an almost daily basis.
And it's unfortunate that he felt he had to bite his tongue in order to hold back a snide comeback to the bank teller. This bitterness expressed by Shore doesn't help the blind or the sighted. It only creates a bigger void between the two groups and causes the sighted to be hesitant about asking questions or trying to understand how blind people function in the world.
I agree that the public needs to be educated about blindness and blind people's ability to live a "normal" life. The best way to change any public misconception is to have examples such as Shore and I leading that life. However, I also believe any public misconception will change even faster if addressed with a more positive and understanding attitude. ____________________
There you have Dawson's response and the end of the public debate. It is fair to ask what Zach Shore achieved from all of this. Of course the obvious answer is that every time we get our story and point of view into print, we accomplish something positive. Some members of the public will understand and grow as a result of thinking about the issues we raise--and, indeed, we ourselves will profit from such discussions. In this case a television producer called Shore to discuss doing a story that he would consider to be positive. After a lengthy discussion they agreed to do a series on the real problems faced by Seattle's blind population. That will be beneficial to the blind and, assuming that it is done well--a long step forward in helping the public to view blind citizens as normal people who cannot see.
The exchange of ideas in print may also have opened new channels of private communication. Zach Shore wrote a letter to Jane Malbon, whose February 6 letter to the editor we have already quoted. Who knows what understanding will come from this effort? No one can be sure, but it is certainly through such warm, thoughtful, and respectful communications as Shore's that we will educate the public. Here is Zach Shore's letter:
February 9, 1991
Dear Ms. Malbon:
I have read your February 6 letter to the Editor, and I commend you for it. I thought it was extremely well written. You articulated your views in a clear, coherent manner. I also believe that your views quite accurately reflect those of the overwhelming majority of Americans.
My views on blindness differ from yours in some fundamental ways, and mine are shared by only a tiny minority of Americans-- but it is a steadily growing minority, nonetheless. Since you have demonstrated an interest in my views (first by your phone call to me at the Times, and then by your letter), I would like to elaborate more fully on what I believe about blindness, and why I believe it.
I want first to say something about my feelings toward Mr. Dawson. I have none--primarily because I have never met the man. Therefore, I bear him no ill will. In fact, if he is half as interesting and articulate as I have been told, I believe I would greatly enjoy meeting and getting to know him. I hope I will have that opportunity.
When you called me at the Times, you said that my article was "a cheap shot." You seemed to think that I was making a personal attack on Mr. Dawson. I was not, and I am sorry that you read my article that way. The intent of my editorial was not to attack or criticize Peter Dawson or Sherry Stripling. It was, rather, to dispel some myths about blindness. Because I did not expect that many people would understand or accept my view, I was surprised to receive a great deal of positive response. A number of readers called me at work to express their support and agreement, including a Washington State Representative and a news producer at KOMO-TV. I interpret this positive response as evidence that slowly but surely the public is coming to have new attitudes about the blind and the disabled in general.
I want to discuss the part of your letter which states: "Shore was upset by a statement that when Peter first came to work at a law firm, `It sometimes took him seven days to do the work a sighted lawyer could do in five.' He, and many blind people, evidently translated this one statement into the perception that the article portrayed Pete as `less capable than his sighted peers,' and thus shed a poor light on all blind attorneys. I don't believe the article implied that Pete is anything but extraordinarily capable." You say that you don't believe the article portrayed Pete as anything but extraordinarily capable. Yet, you cite a statement which clearly says that Pete is less capable. If the article states that Mr. Dawson takes two extra days to complete his work, how can that portray him as extraordinarily capable? Again, I am not trying to fault or attack Mr. Dawson.
Why was it important for me to cite this particular statement? When you called me to discuss my editorial, I suggested to you that members of minorities are unfortunately subjected to stereotyping. This is particularly true with the blind. Since most people do not know and have never even met a blind person, they tend to classify all members of that group as sharing certain characteristics, which they may or may not share. Many people who read Sherry Stripling's profile will believe that blind people (not just blind lawyers) are slower than the sighted; blind people's senses are superior to the sighted; the blind never get angry, only perturbed; they fall into ravines; they need intricate maps of an area before they can travel independently in a new environment; they "have to grab at whatever they can to help them take in the world in a different way"; and a host of other untruths which I never mentioned in my editorial. If these things are true, then no harm is done, and no response from me was called for. But if they are not true, what should be done about it? We could ignore it, hoping against hope that it won't really matter what the public thinks about the blind, or we could respond to it and try to educate the public.
I, obviously, chose to respond--and in doing so I risked offending some, diminishing others, and angering still more. I also jeopardized my job by publicly criticizing my employer for running the story in the first place. Would it not have been easier and much more pleasant to have ignored it altogether? It would have been, if the cost of remaining silent were not considerably higher.
Ms. Malbon, have you ever been to the Lighthouse for the Blind in Seattle or talked with blind people who work there? I have. Do you know that the Seattle Lighthouse, and workshops like it across the country, are employing blind people and paying them sub-minimum wages? The justification for this practice is that blind people are less efficient than the sighted and, therefore, should not be paid the minimum wage. The saddest part of this scenario is that many blind people have been told for so long that they cannot be expected to work as quickly or efficiently as the sighted that they have come to believe it and have made it come true. The United States Department of Labor tells us that over seventy percent of the nation's working-age blind are unemployed. Many who are employed are working in sheltered shops and in some cases being paid as little as fifty cents an hour.
But what do sub-minimum wages have to do with Sherry Stripling's piece? Several months ago a few blind people I know went to a club to dance. After they entered, the owner refused to admit them unless they agreed to sign waivers of liability and consent to have one of his sighted staff members lead them to the bathroom. They did not agree to sign. The owner called the police and had them handcuffed and removed from the club. More recently, a close friend, who is blind, and some of her blind friends went to ValleyFair Amusement Park in Minnesota. After waiting in line to ride the roller coaster, they attempted to board the ride but were blocked by park officials. The officials explained that it was the park's policy to have all blind people accompanied by a responsible adult while on any ride. A "responsible adult" was defined to mean any sighted person over four feet tall. This group of blind persons assured the officials that they were responsible adults and did not need any supervision. The standoff lasted for one hour until the park officials decided to shut down the ride altogether and send the crowd away. A peculiar thing happened in this instance. Instead of becoming angry, the crowd supported the blind people--chanting, "Let them ride! Let them ride!" I conclude from instances such as this that the public is beginning to see these issues in a new light.
What do all these things--widespread unemployment, sub- minimum wages, and barred entrance to clubs and rides--have to do with calling Peter Dawson heroic? All these things are inextricably linked to the two-sided coin of discrimination. The circumstances and events I have recounted to you represent one side of the discrimination coin: the one which is clearer and more easily identifiable. The Stripling piece represents the other side of discrimination: the one which is cloudy and harder to recognize. Let me try to explain.
Most people believe that blindness necessarily alters one in a dramatic way. It makes one less efficient, less safe, less competent in travel, etc.; and thus the discrimination I have been describing is a natural result. Therefore, when a blind person succeeds in earning a good living and leading a full life, he or she must be extraordinarily capable and heroic. You say that overcoming the struggle of blindness is an heroic feat. On the other hand, if one believes that the blind are every bit as capable as the sighted, then living a full life is not heroic, but rewarding and pleasant. You contend that Peter Dawson is amazing because he is blind and successful. I contend that he may be amazing, but not because he is blind.
There is no such thing as a free lunch. Whenever we get something, even when it seems good, we must give up something else in return. If you marry, you gain a lifetime companion, but you lose the freedom of single status. If someone offers me a free piece of blueberry cheesecake (a thing I can rarely refuse), I risk gaining weight. Since everything on earth has a cost, what then is the price for calling a blind person heroic--and, more to the point, who must pay it?
The benefit of calling a blind person heroic for overcoming his blindness and succeeding is immediate: It makes him feel good, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. But the cost is the assumption, even if unadmitted, that blindness brings inability--so an able blind man cannot be average but must be uncommon and extraordinarily capable. The moment we portray a blind person's achievements as exceptional in light of his blindness, the discrimination coin is tossed. No matter how it lands, both sides will have their effect. The up side may make the recipient of the compliment feel good, along with a lot of bystanders. But the down side is that the public will go on believing that the profiled individual is the exception and that most blind people cannot be expected to be equal to the sighted. As long as the public clings to this notion, it will keep the vast majority of blind citizens unemployed, underpaid, and unaccepted. The compliment of heroism is a two-sided coin. In the short run it benefits a few, but the long-term effect is negative. The cost is second-class status, and it is all blind people who must pay.
Ms. Malbon, I have taken considerable time to respond to your letter because I believe you are open and willing to consider a viewpoint which differs from your own. I welcome and encourage you to come to any of our Federation meetings and to write to me with your thoughts on what I have said. I would like to meet you and talk with you in person.
Again, I thank you for writing your letter and furthering discussion of these issues which affect us all.
From the Editor: There you have the currents and cross currents of the newspaper articles and correspondence surrounding the story of Peter Dawson. It almost reminds one of T. S. Eliot's famous line about a "tedious argument of insidious intent to lead you to an overwhelming question," for the letters and articles are often wordy and even, now and then, a bit pompous. This is a long Monitor article, one not as sprightly as we usually hope to print. Well, then, why did we print it? Because if the argument is at times tedious (which, indeed, it is), it does lead to an overwhelming question--one that is at the center of the problems faced by blind people in this country today.
First let me separate the wheat from the chaff. Dawson is wrong in saying that Shore expresses bitterness. He doesn't. On the other hand, if I had been writing the Shore response, I might not have reacted in exactly the way he did concerning the original newspaper article. Nevertheless, Shore's response is right on target in identifying the "overwhelming question." Dawson's irritated counterattack is just that, irritation. It totally misses Shore's point. This in no way detracts from Dawson's accomplishments, but the overwhelming question remains an overwhelming question.
It has to do with how the members of a minority should approach the problem of changing their second-class status to first-class membership in society. By and large, those who make up the majority are satisfied with things as they are. This is true even of the liberals who say otherwise. Why shouldn't the majority feel that way? They take equality for granted and don't see why anybody need make a fuss about it. It is always that way with something we have had from the day we were born and have never had to think about.
If the members of the underclass (blacks, women, blind people) push too hard, they encounter backlash; and if they don't push hard enough, they stay where they are forever. Moreover, this is not all. There are members of the minority who become embittered, and there are members of the majority who accuse members of the minority of bitterness when none exists. There are members of the majority who claim to have no prejudice when in reality they are full of it, and there are members of the minority who accuse members of the majority of prejudice when it isn't there. There are members of the minority who try to dissociate themselves from the rest of the group, thinking thereby to gain status with the majority but succeeding only in emphasizing their insecurity. There is also the question of how to minimize the hostility of the majority when those they have regarded as their inferiors begin to want equality instead of charity and condescending good-will. Complicated? Of course it is complicated. How could it be otherwise? The social structure of ideas and beliefs which constitutes our cultural fabric was not built in a day or a year or a century, and it won't be changed overnight. The remarkable thing is that we have made as much progress as we have, not that we have taken so long to do it.
This brings me back to Peter Dawson and the controversy surrounding him. Yes, the argument can be tedious--and if we are not careful, it can have insidious intent. But only if we fail to meet the challenge and answer the overwhelming question.
Be this as it may, it is worthwhile (perhaps even essential) for us to deal with such matters as those raised by Shore; for he is absolutely right in his underlying premise--which is that the principal component of the formula which has made it possible for the blind to come from second-class status to the threshold of first-class membership in society in less than a century is the National Federation of the Blind. This is true regardless of whether we admit it or not and, for that matter, whether we know it or not. It is true for Dawson even if he has no idea at all of what part the Federation has played in his success--and it is true of Shore and all of the rest of us who are blind in this country. So let us ponder the overwhelming question and hope that we have the clarity of judgment to arrive at the correct conclusion. The argument is only tedious if we fail to understand it.
[PHOTO: Marc Maurer standing at podium with gavel in hand. CAPTION: Marc Maurer.]
by Marc Maurer
As Federationists know, most of he airlines in this country now uniformly practice discrimination against the blind, and they are supported in this behavior by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Because of the growing public outcry against this treatment of the blind and other disabled people, Congress adopted in 1986 the Air Carrier Access Act, which was meant to end such discrimination. Regulations to implement the provisions of the Air Carrier Access Act were to be adopted by the Department of Transportation within 120 days, but this was not done.
In an effort to minimize conflict and ensure the viability of its proposed regulations, the Department of Transportation convened a so-called regulatory negotiation (reg-neg) to write the first draft of the proposed rules. The Federal Aviation Administration was not invited to participate in the reg-neg, but its lawyers were present throughout the entire process. In September of 1987 officials from the FAA Office of the General Counsel indicated that blind people would be prohibited from sitting in all emergency exit rows. Other provisions in the rule- making process might be negotiable--but this one, they said, was not up for discussion.
In October of 1990 the final rules became effective. There were two sets. The first of these, issued by the Department of Transportation, declared unequivocally that no discrimination against the handicapped would be tolerated. The second set (promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration, a segment of the Department of Transportation) did not contradict that principle. However, the rules did say that any person seated in an emergency exit row must be able to perform several functions or tasks. Among those listed was the requirement that the individual be able visually to assess conditions outside the plane. This, of course, was not a prohibition directed at the blind, they said. Apparently, they were taking the position that any blind person who could see--that is, could assess visually certain conditions outside the plane--would be permitted to sit in the exit row. This cute trick of flim-flamming was apparently an attempt by the federal officials to get themselves out of a tight corner by having their cake and eating it too--in other words, to make a rule against discrimination and then continue the practice through a second rule couched in fancy terminology.
So the Department of Transportation and the FAA adopted their regulations, and since that time there has been very little official assessment of the legal implications. However, Robert Spire, the Attorney General of the state of Nebraska, has now performed that task. Mr. Spire, who completed his term of office in January of this year and moved to a new job in Washington, wrote (as one of his final acts as Nebraska Attorney General) to airport authorities in the state, outlining his assessment of the legal requirements regarding the air transportation of blind people. His review of these requirements was made with the Department of Transportation regulations in hand, provided by Aloma Bouma, one of our leaders in Nebraska. Attorney General Spire took the Department of Transportation at its word. It said the no discrimination is tolerable, and the attorney general agreed. The Department of Transportation and the FAA wanted it both ways, but the attorney general was not willing to participate in the flim-flam. He did not specify his method of reaching his conclusions. However, the Department of Transportation is the federal department in which the FAA is located. It is certainly reasonable to conclude that a department's regulations control those of a subsidiary agency-- and the Department of Transportation has said that no discrimination is tolerable. Here is the letter from Attorney General Spire:
Department of Justice
State of Nebraska
To: Commissioner--Airport Authority
From: Robert M. Spire, Attorney General
Date: January 7, 1991
Re: Rights of Visually Impaired Persons on Airplanes and in
The Nebraska Department of Justice understands that visually impaired persons are encountering some difficulty in seating arrangements on commercial airlines in our state. I want to assist you and others involved in airline operation in being aware of the rights of the visually impaired, and other persons with disabilities, in the provision of transportation services.
Federal law prohibits discrimination against the blind and other persons with disabilities who use air transportation. Section 404(c) of the Federal Aviation Act states that "no air carrier may discriminate against any otherwise qualified handicapped individual, by reason of such handicap, in the provision of air transportation." 49 U.S.C. 1374(c)(1).
In addition, Neb.Rev.Stat. -- 20-127 (Reissue 1987) states:
(1) The blind, the visually handicapped, the hearing impaired, and the otherwise physically disabled shall have the same right as the able-bodied to the full and free use of the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways, public buildings, public facilities, and other public places.
(2) The blind, the visually handicapped, the hearing impaired, and the otherwise physically disabled shall be entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of all common carriers, airplanes (emphasis added), motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, street cars, boats or any other public conveyances or modes of transportation, hotels, lodging places, places of public accommodation, amusement or resort, and other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons.
(3) Every totally or partially blind person shall have the right to be accompanied by a dog guide and every hearing impaired person shall have the right to be accompanied by a hearing aid dog, especially trained for the purpose, in any of the places listed in subsection (2) of this section without being required to pay an extra charge for the dog guide or hearing aid dog; Provided, that such person shall be liable for any damage done to the premises or facilities by such dog.
(4) Every totally or partially blind person shall have the right to make use of a white cane in any of the places listed in subsection (2) of this section.
Neb.Rev.Stat. -- 20-129 (Reissue 1987) states:
Any person, firm, or corporation, or the agent of any person, firm, or corporation who denies or interferes with admittance or enjoyment of the public facilities enumerated in section 20-127 or otherwise interferes with the rights of a totally or partially blind, hearing impaired, or otherwise physically disabled person under section 20-127 or sections 20- 131.01 to 29-131.04 shall be guilty of a Class III misdemeanor.
There is no federal law or regulation that requires the seating of a visually impaired person in any special position on an airplane, or requires that a visually impaired person cannot be seated in certain positions. For example, there is no requirement that a visually impaired person cannot sit by an exit door on an airplane. There may be airline policies to this effect, but these policies must be governed by the fact that both state and federal laws bar discrimination against visually impaired persons and other persons with disabilities. This means that a visually impaired person may not be denied an exit door seat unless a legitimate safety or other reason can be demonstrated for the denial. I am not aware of any valid evidence justifying such a denial.
If you are requested by airline or airport security persons to arrest a visually impaired person who is asserting his or her right to equal treatment on board an airline, you should decline to use your powers of arrest. Visually impaired persons are not to be given any additional or other extraordinary rights beyond those given to any other citizen. However, visually impaired persons, as are all other citizens, are subject to arrest for disturbing the peace or violating any other laws.
I believe this information may be useful to you and all persons and organizations concerned with airline operation.
cc: Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission
Rehabilitation Services for the Visually Impaired
So says the Attorney General of the state of Nebraska, and it will be interesting to see whether the attorneys general of other states will reason likewise. It is also worthwhile to speculate about the conclusions which might be reached by the federal courts in a test case. Perhaps the airlines and the government defenders may have outfoxed themselves.
[PHOTO: Portrait of Peter Grunwald. CAPTION: Peter Grunwald is a leader in the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois.]
RASPBERRIES FOR RASPBERRY
by Peter Grunwald
From the Associate Editor: On October 24, 1990, William Raspberry, a nationally syndicated columnist, wrote a piece decrying our national inability to suppress our individual or interest-group wishes in order to benefit the larger society. Though his general argument may be sound, one of his illustrations was most unfortunate and served to display his ignorance about the underlying issues in the example he chose. It was our insistence that blind passengers should not, based on blindness, be refused access to aircraft exit row seating. Raspberry's attitude is both surprising and disturbing because, as a member of a racial minority himself, he has undoubtedly faced discrimination arising from ignorance and misinformation posing as common sense and self-evident truth that should be obvious to everyone.
Members of minorities have always suffered at the hands of people making this error, and there is no way to win relief from this manifestation of discrimination except to call attention to the mistake whenever and wherever it occurs. Pete Grunwald is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, and he takes his responsibilities as a Federationist seriously. He read William Raspberry's column, and he sat down immediately to write a response. We can only hope that Mr. Raspberry learned something about this issue and himself from Pete's letter. All of us can learn from Pete's integrity and discipline in calling the matter to the columnist's attention. Here are both the relevant portion of William Raspberry's article and Pete Grunwald's response:
A Painful Sight
by William Raspberry
...The legislator who puts the national interest above the interests of his constituents risks being turned out of office.
But I think it is bigger than that, and not limited to the federal budget. The whole society seems to be disintegrating into special interests. Minorities press for affirmative action less (it seems to me) out of a desire to increase the amount of justice in the land than to guarantee special consideration for themselves. College campuses are being ripped apart by the insistence of one group after another on proving their victimization at the hands of white males, and therefore their right to special exemptions and privileges.
For example, the Federal Aviation Administration recently adopted a rule that would bar emergency-exit-row seating to passengers who are blind, deaf, obese, frail or otherwise likely to inhibit movement during an emergency evacuation. Common sense? Only if you think of the common interests of all the passengers. Surely it is reasonable to have those emergency seats occupied by the people who can hear the instructions of the crew, read the directions for operating the emergency doors and assist other passengers in their escape.
But some organizations representing the deaf, blind and otherwise disabled reacted to the regulation only as a form of discrimination against their clients who, they insist, have a "right" to the emergency seats.
It is true that the majority must never be allowed to run roughshod over the rights of minorities. That is one of the tenets of the American system. But the notion of fairness to particular groups as an element of fairness to the whole has been perverted into a wholesale jockeying for group advantage.
Mutual fairness, with regard to both rights and responsibilities, can be the glue that bonds this polyglot society into a nation. Single-minded pursuit of group advantage, whether on Capitol Hill or elsewhere, threatens to rip us apart at the seams.
I am writing in response to William Raspberry's column entitled "Promote Mutual Fairness, Not Group Advantage," which appeared October 12, 1990. I concur heartily with his general premise that our society and our leaders have lost much of the desire to put the general welfare ahead of individual benefit. However, the fact that blind persons oppose the newly adopted regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration which bar them from exit row seating on airplanes, does not prove his point in the least.
Mr. Raspberry states his belief that it is "common sense" that, since a blind person cannot read the instructions, clearly such a person poses a liability in an emergency exit row seat. He does not consider that few, if any, sighted passengers assigned to exit row seats bother to read the instructions, despite the fact that they can easily do so. On the other hand, I, who am blind, have always made sure to have the person in the neighboring seat read me the instructions on those occasions when I have been assigned the seat by the emergency exit. Thus I would be prepared to act in the event of an emergency, whereas a sighted passenger who has not read the instructions in advance would not. Mr. Raspberry equates the ability to read print with the possession of knowledge. Yet the person who fails to read information does not possess the knowledge, while one who gathers the information by other means, although being unable to read print, does possess the knowledge.
Mr. Raspberry also states that it is "common sense" that a blind person seated at the emergency exit would be unable to assist other passengers in the evacuation process. Yet I myself know of at least one instance in which a blind person vitally assisted in an emergency evacuation of a darkened aircraft by directing passengers (all sighted) to the exit. Mr. Raspberry's "common sense" assumes blindness as a characteristic, isolated from all other characteristics. Yet would it not be better, for example, to have a cool and level-headed blind person at the emergency exit than an irrationally panicked sighted person?
Other blind persons and I certainly do assert that the new FAA regulations are discriminatory. They deny us the luck of the draw, guaranteeing that we are never first off in an emergency. But we do not do so as an assertion of "group advantage" to the detriment of the common welfare. Blind persons are no less likely than sighted persons to have the manual dexterity and strength necessary to open the door, the ability to understand what needs to be done, the capacity to remain calm in difficult circumstances, the leadership to assist others, etc. Furthermore, the ability to function efficiently in the dark or in a smoke- filled cabin (not at all an uncommon situation in an airliner emergency) is certainly an advantage. The FAA regulations effectively prevent all aircraft passengers from the possibility of ever benefitting from the capabilities of blind passengers and are thus themselves contrary to the public welfare. If the FAA, the airlines, or anyone else could produce any credible evidence to prove this is not so and to back up the "common sense" argument that Mr. Raspberry repeats in his column, then our position would clearly be unreasonable. But of course there is no such evidence, and once again we are dealing with damaging misinformation having no factual basis.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Kathleen Spear (right) converses with a friend, using finger
NO CHRISTMAS SPIRIT AT AMERICAN AIRLINES
by Ted Young
From the Associate Editor: Ted Young is the energetic president of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania. The following article appeared in the December, 1990, issue of "The Activist," the newsletter of the NFB of Pennsylvania. Here it is:
Meet Mrs. Kathleen C. Spear, a well traveled, well educated, professional woman. She has traveled so often that she is a Frequent Flyer on USAir. So why should the story of her Christmas travel plans be noteworthy enough to appear in print? Here is the tale as Kathleen tells it in her own words:
Encounter with American Airlines
On the evening of December 21, 1989, I learned in a telephone conversation with my daughter-in-law that the submarine on which my son, Ensign Paul Dana Spear, is serving was experiencing problems. For this reason, it seemed doubtful that he would be home with her and their two young sons for Christmas. Since the children were upset, she said it would help if I could be with them. I began calling air carriers to see if I could get a flight that I could afford. American Airlines was the first air carrier I was able to reach using my telecommunication device for the deaf-blind. It was after 9:00 p.m.
The person who took my call at American told me her name was Becky. She said there was a flight at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday, December 23, and there were seats available. She also explained that, in order to enable more people to travel for Christmas, the Airline was offering a special rate, which was $228. Needless to say, I was delighted and asked her to process my reservation. According to the schedule, I would take a flight out of Harrisburg to Raleigh, North Carolina, and transfer to a different flight for the remainder of the distance to Charleston. I have never been to Raleigh airport. Consequently, I asked if Becky could arrange for assistance to make the transfer in Raleigh. I explained that I am not familiar with Raleigh and also that I am deaf-blind. At that point she asked me if I read Braille, and I answered in the affirmative. In hopes of setting the record straight, I volunteered the information that I travel extensively, use a dog guide, and have speech as well as several other means of communicating with people.
Becky said that there was a problem in that I could not purchase a ticket without the approval of the Coordinator of Passenger Acceptance. When asked for an explanation, she told me that "passenger acceptance" was required for those with a medical or medically related problem. My response was to point out that deaf-blindness is not a medically related problem and I am not ill. Although Becky stated that she understood the point and was somewhat puzzled by the rule, she had no authority to do anything about it.
Unfortunately, it was the afternoon of the last working day before Christmas that this problem came to my attention. I was frustrated and angry that a competent, well trained professional was being refused the right to be with her family on Christmas because of archaic and backward thinking. However, at that time we could find no one able to change American's policy, and it was too late to get another flight.
There you have what happened to Mrs. Spear, and needless to say, the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania fought this case at the first opportunity. We wrote to the Pennsylvania Attorney General, who agreed with us that this was blatant discrimination and joined in filing the case with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.
Much time and frustration have passed since that filing. However, the Human Relations Commission has now rendered its judgment, and Mrs. Spear has won. American Airlines apologized in writing to her for the humiliation and inconvenience she suffered. They have also agreed to allow her to fly to Charleston, South Carolina, any time during the first six months of 1991 at the cost of an airline ticket on the date she was refused service. In addition American has presented Mrs. Spear with a $500 travel voucher to be used within one year of issuance. No, the victory will not replace the warmth of a Christmas spent with her family. No, the victory will not resolve the many hours of frustration caused a person simply because she happens to be deaf-blind. However, Kathleen knows what many other people need to learn--to do nothing when faced with injustice simply perpetuates second-class citizenship for all of us.
We in the National Federation of the Blind are pleased to have done our part to bring about this victory. We will continue to be there and to assist when people like Kathleen Spear are willing to demand fair and equal treatment.
****************************** If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:
"I give, devise, and bequeath unto National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, the sum of $_____ (or "_____ percent of my net estate" or "The following stocks and bonds: _____") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons." ******************************
[PHOTO: Portrait of Bill Isaacs. CAPTION: Bill Isaacs is the President of the Kankakee-Heartland Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois.]
JUST SAY "NO!"
by Bill J. Isaacs
From the Associate Editor: Bill Isaacs is President of the Kankakee Heartland Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois. He is also a leader in both the National Association of Blind Educators and the National Association of Dog Guide Users. Wherever Bill is and whatever he is doing, he recognizes that we may be called upon to stand up for our beliefs and fight for our principles. Here is his latest report on where his convictions have led him:
In late June, 1990, my wife, Ruth, my dog, Cliqo, and i boarded a plane at Midway Airport in Chicago for a long- anticipated trip to the national convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Dallas, Texas. When my wife picked up the tickets from the local travel agency several weeks in advance of the trip, she did not mention that I had a guide dog. She did ask that we not be assigned to a seat in the bulkhead or the exit row. We pre-boarded the plane, settled ourselves in seats 7A and C (there was no B) and neatly parked Cliqo under the seat in front of me next to the window. Had no one seen us pre-board, it is unlikely that passengers who boarded later would even have known there was a dog on the plane. Thus far, just fine!
As everyone was buckling up, ready for the takeoff, a flight attendant came walking down the aisle, looking for luggage or other materials requiring placement in the overhead storage. She spotted my dog and said, "Sorry, you're going to have to move to the bulkhead." Ruth, seated on the aisle side and being the sighted one, was naturally the person addressed. She politely told her no, that we were comfortable the way we were and had flown this way before. (We had done so but had been asked several times if we would not be more comfortable in the bulkhead. After saying no to these inquiries about three times, the crews in each case dropped the matter.) The flight attendant this time became insistent, stating that it was a rule. We both explained that it was not a regulation. She then trotted back to get her supervisor and we went through the same rigmarole again.
After running through the same questions we had answered the first time around, the two strode off to tattle on us to the pilot. Needless to say, our adrenalin was running at full capacity. We were wondering if we were going to be dragged off or other passengers would be removed, leaving us in our seats on an empty aircraft. Because the episode had already held up the plane ten or fifteen minutes, we were bracing ourselves for the angry howls and hisses arising from our fellow passengers in response to our stand for our basic civil rights. I began trying to muster my courage in order to explain our concerns to our fellow passengers. But, much to our relief, the two somewhat ruffled attendants never returned, and the pilot began to roll to the runway.
We thought perhaps we would not get our dinners, but that was not the case. We were treated very courteously for the rest of the flight even though no one apologized for the embarrassment and humiliation. We did not know at the time that there were six NFB delegates from New Jersey going to the Dallas convention, and perhaps there were others that we did not know about. If the situation had come to a tumultuous conclusion, I am sure we would have had some much needed support that would indeea have been greatly appreciated. Thanks to the work of the National Federation of the Blind, we were able to say "No" and mean it. On our return trip with the same airline, despite some anxieties, we experienced no difficulties.
We have had another reason to say "No" in recent months as well. In fact, the very agency that sold us the tickets for the Dallas trip also informed us that the AAA Limousine Service in Momence, Illinois, which also serves travelers from Kankakee, would not pick up a person with a guide dog unless private service ($100) was ordered. A $25 fee for transporting an animal was also added. If you are willing to let someone else ride with you in the limo to the airport, the round trip from Kankakee is $70. Ruth told the agency that such a price structure was discrimination and was illegal under the White Cane Law of Illinois. But, since we didn't plan to use that service anyway, I didn't bother to follow through on the matter.
However, in November of 1990 a schoolteacher friend of mine, a member of the local Kankakee Heartland Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, phoned me about a matter. She and her mother planned to fly to Las Vegas during Christmas season. She has a guide dog, and she was told the same old story about the policy of the Momence AAA Limousine Service. She was incensed and thought something ought to be done about it. The time had come to take stronger steps against the limousine service and the agency which was transmitting its position.
Finally, I called the AAA Limousine Service office but had to leave a message on the answering service. When my call was returned, I was not home and my wife answered it. One of the owners, the wife, related a very sentimental sob story about her experience with a pet dog that had ridden in one of her cars, which was taking a passenger to the airport. Allegedly, in order to forestall a lawsuit, she eventually paid a big hospital bill as a result of returning from the airport with another passenger who, she claimed, passed out from a severe allergic reaction. She didn't want to go through that again.
Later, when I called her back, she repeated much of the same woeful story that she told Ruth, except that the pet dog in a little cage had become a guide dog. (I understand the allergy excuse is becoming typical.) She told me that she didn't discriminate against the blind because she made people with wheelchairs pay a higher cost as well. (Apparently there are people wandering around this world with allergies to wheelchairs as well.) I let her know that those who encounter discrimination because of disabilities could bring lawsuits as well as those who have allergies. Furthermore, I suggested that she charge the higher fee to people with allergies who require a controlled environment rather than making the innocent dog guide owner pay the cost. Oh, she couldn't do that. Her excuse reminded me of the air carriers who will not refuse exit row seats to boozers.
I could not get the AAA Limousine Service to put anything in writing about changing its policies, even after I had written a long letter including the White Cane Law of Illinois, which clearly demonstrates the legality of my position on the subject. I next called the Attorney General's office here in Kankakee. We discussed the matter at some length. As a result, the Attorney General's office then called all the limousine services and travel agencies in the area to set forth the guidelines concerning dog guides' traveling in public conveyances.
Since there are only a few dog guide users in the community, we were afraid that the company would always find it convenient to be booked up when we called to make a reservation. The Attorney General's office made it clear to them also that, if discrimination of this sort seemed evident, a prosecution could still take place. Now we have to wait and see if any dog guide user has a problem in the future. I hope not! I am hoping that just saying no to discriminating practice will end this unjust policy.
[PHOTO: Portrait of Richard Edlund. CAPTION: Richard Edlund is a newly-elected representative to the Kansas Legislature.]
MAKING HIS MARK IN THE KANSAS LEGISLATURE
From the Associate Editor: For nearly twenty years, Richard Edlund served as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas. During fourteen years of that time he was also the Treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind. But in January, 1991, Dick took up a new challenge; he was sworn in as a member of the Kansas Legislature. (See the February, 1991, issue of the Braille Monitor.) He has already begun as he intends to go on. One of his first acts was to introduce our Braille Bill for consideration by the Kansas legislature.
Dick has always been one to get things done without making a fuss about them. The following article, by Donald Williams, appeared in the February 16, 1991, edition of the Wichita Eagle. Those who know Dick Edlund will recognize him in the portrait drawn here. Dick continues to serve as a leader and role model for blind people, and he continues to educate the public about our abilities. Here is the news story as it appeared in the Wichita Eagle:
Legislator Sees All He needs
by Donald Williams
From where I sat at the press table in the Kansas House of Representatives, the most striking face at the legislators' desks was that of a tall man with thick gray hair and a dignified bearing. He also looked as if he was having trouble staying awake--nothing unusual in that setting. After a while he leaned his large head leftward to listen, nodding gravely, while Diane Gjerstad, a representative from Wichita, talked to him.
Later I found out who the man was: Richard J. Edlund, very likely the only blind legislator Kansas has ever had. He says he is, and I could find no one who remembered another.
This is Edlund's first year in the Legislature but not by a long way his first in the Capitol. For more than twenty years before his election last fall he had gone all over the building talking to legislators as a lobbyist for the blind and for certain labor causes.
Navigating those marble whorls without confusion is a fairly good trick. I get to the Capitol for only a few days each year, and I keep having to lean over the center rail and read the N-S- E-W marks on the titles beside the ground-floor visitors' booth to figure out whether the chamber on my right is the House or the Senate. (House west, Senate east--that much I can remember.)
When I visited Edlund in his office, I asked him if he gets lost too. I thought I knew the answer, because earlier, walking down the wide hall toward his office with his cane poised quivering out ahead of him, the point barely off the floor as if sniffing its way, he had turned at exactly the right spot, stopped at the door, and put his hand directly onto the knob.
I was right--he doesn't get lost. "I've always had an exceptionally good built-in sense of direction," he said. "Just like a homing pigeon." He was a licensed pilot before he lost his sight, he said. Maybe that training helped. Then there's the cane. "That's my radar," he said. He doesn't count steps to get to his office or wherever he's going. "You do it with hearing," he said, "and with feel, or something."
Also, he said, after so many years without sight, you train yourself to remember where you've been.
He told me about attending a convention at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles in 1956 and, twenty years later, going back for another convention. "As soon as I walked in that hotel," he said,"something shifted into place. I knew where everything was."
Edlund must have been a good lobbyist. He has the strong voice and the imposing presence, for one thing. I asked him how tall he was.
"Six-four," he said, "or, as I told a guy in a New York bar once, 5-foot-16. He said, `I'd a sweared to Christ he was over 6 feet.'"
Also he has the background for both his causes; having been blinded in a construction explosion when he was not quite twenty- - he has light perception, nothing more--and having grown up among relatives who were labor union activists. For fifteen years, he was treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind, and for longer than that he was president of the Federation's Kansas branch.
He was a businessman, too. He owned and ran a hardware store in the western part of Kansas City for forty years, working fifteen-hour days and six-day weeks, he told me. He said he ran for office because his customers and others wanted tax relief.
I noticed that the desk in his office, like his desk in the House chamber, was uncluttered, with the few folders and papers stacked neatly in a corner. How does he learn what's in bills? He goes to committee meetings, he sometimes gets people to read legislation to him, and he's familiar with a lot of issues. "What I do and what I guess any busy legislator does," he said, "is take advice from older heads."
To keep informed in general, he reads an average of two books a week--reads them by hearing the tapes. His favorite subject is history, and he says he has read fifty books about Thomas Jefferson. He even gets Playboy on tape. "It doesn't work out for the centerfold worth a damn," he said.
Back in the House chamber, I watched Kathleen Sebelius, a representative from Topeka, as she stood in front of his desk. She talked with him a moment--he leaned forward with that courteous, attentive look--and laid a paper down for him to sign. It was a list of House members joining her in a bill to put legislators on a standardized pension plan, like other state employees.
He held a pen ready and she tried fumblingly to guide his hand. "Just start the pen right on the line," he told her.
Edlund likes to know about things he can't see. It delighted him to learn about the compass points on the Capitol floor. In the House, Diane Gjerstad told me, he knew that Speaker Marvin Barkis' voice was coming through the amplification system, and early in the session he asked her where Barkis was really standing. Thereafter he faced that way.
He quickly memorized the positions and functions of the four square buttons on his desk in the House, though for the first few votes he would turn to Diane Gjerstad or to Kent Campbell, the Miltonvale representative on his right, and ask if he had hit the right one.
All he had to know was what the buttons were for--the left one for "Yea," the next for "Nay," the third to declare himself present in the morning, and the fourth to call a page. But I guess he had learned something extra about them, too, just to be in the know.
Sure enough, when I mentioned the four buttons to him, he said: "On the left is green, and then red, and...."
[PHOTO: Shirley Baillif seated in lobby of 1990 NFB convention hotel. CAPTION: Shirley Baillif.]
PARENTING OUR BLIND CHILDREN
by Shirley Baillif
From the Associate Editor: The following remarks were made by Shirley Baillif during a panel presentation by parents of blind children at the 1990 National Federation of the Blind of California Convention. Mrs. Baillif is the mother of Michael Baillif (past president of the California Association of Blind Students and current president of the National Association of Blind Students, the student division of the National Federation of the Blind). Michael is also a second year student at Yale University School of Law. This article is reprinted from the Winter, 1990, issue of "The Blind Citizen," the publication of the NFB of California.
Years ago there was a popular song that said in part:
You've got to accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
Latch on to the affirmative,
And don't mess with Mr. In-between.
If I were asked to give one piece of advice regarding parenting our blind children, that little ditty would express my philosophy.
When our son became totally blind at age thirteen, one month before entering high school, we felt we were in an abyss--lost in a situation we knew little or nothing about. When Michael, who was an active young teenager, more interested in sports than academics, turned to me and said, "Mom, what will I do now?" the Good Lord gave me the sense not to see a dismal picture of a young boy growing old, ineffectually striving to eke out a living. Instead I answered him honestly by saying in effect, "Michael, I have never known a blind person well enough to know how the blind accomplish the tasks they do, but I have encountered a few blind people indirectly, and I know they have not only graduated from high school, but gone on to graduate from college, become professionals in various fields, or build their own businesses. Honey, if they can do it, so can you--you just have to learn how." And that is exactly what we set out to do.
As soon as Michael was released from the hospital, I called our local high school, explained the situation, and received a response of absolute dismay. This was a new situation to them. The few blind students they had had in the past came to the high school from the elementary program, where they had learned basic skills--the officials would have to get back to me. Michael was then fortunate enough to be contacted by two positive-thinking special ed teachers--one for instructing him in handling his classroom studies and one for mobility.
All through his high school years, Nancy, his classroom special ed instructor, kept reminding me of the fact that I should protest if his IEP's (Individual Education Plans) weren't what I thought they should be. But how could I protest something I knew little or nothing about? Michael was progressing in his skills and doing more than quite well academically. In retrospect, however, I can see where Michael missed out on some phases of his special education. His teacher insisted he learn Braille, which he did, reluctantly. He thought Braille was old-fashioned, out-dated by tape recorders and talking books. You see, he was never introduced to the slate and stylus, so he saw no practical use for Braille. How this opinion has changed, and how we have learned!
Also Michael never ate in the cafeteria during his high school days, so this phase of mobility was never touched upon. He missed more than one meal during his first year of college. This happened whenever he missed contacting a friend who was willing to help him with his tray, so Michael would not trip someone with his cane. His friend would guide him through the crowd to find an empty table. I learned about the technique used to accomplish this feat independently through a video of elementary school children shown at an NFB Convention! They made it look simple.
Our family was introduced to the NFB when Michael was searching for college scholarships. Michael is not a joiner just for the sake of being part of a group. He has to be interested in the organization for one reason or another. He made one exception, though. After receiving a scholarship from the NFB of California, he felt he was obligated to give back $5.00 of it and become a member of the Student Division. It turned out to be the best investment he ever made or ever will.
There is no way I can even begin to express how much the NFB has meant to our family or how much Michael has been influenced by the positive role models of the NFB leaders, both on the state and national levels. And I cannot tell you how much his peers within the Federation have become, not only special friends of Michael's, but like a close-knit family to his father and me. We watch their lives unfold as they strive for and accomplish their individual goals, overcoming the stumbling blocks that have been thrown in their paths.
I have learned so much since those days spent with Michael at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute, and now I want to share this knowledge with other parents as they come face to face with the destinies of their blind offspring. This is why I am so excited about starting a support group for Parents of Blind Children in our area. I have a young mother of a newly blinded child, whom I met through a mutual friend, to thank for showing me this need; and I have the NFB to thank for giving me the encouragement and positive attitude to meet it.
Mary Willows asked me to read the flyer I have made up to be passed out through the school system to the parents of blind children. It reads: "A Support Group for Parents of Blind Children is being formed in North County. First meeting [then the day, date, time, and place will be inserted]. You are invited to come as we share our concerns, experiences, problems, and victories. Our goal is to see that our children will lead full, independent, and productive lives. For further details please contact [then I have given my name and one other with telephone numbers]."
The day before I left to come to the Convention, I received a phone call verifying permission to use the Fellowship Hall of our church as the meeting place for this group. When I get home, I will call the young mother in Oceanside who will be a contact person in that area, and we will set the date for our first meeting. Whether there are four or forty in attendance, we will, in true Federation Spirit, relay to them the message that
You've got to accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
Latch on to the affirmative,
And don't mess with Mr. In-between.
[2 PHOTOS: One photo shows a room at the library with books on shelves and in carts and a bucket to catch water from the leaky ceiling, and the other photo shows the ceiling falling due to water damage. CAPTION: In September of 1987 these pictures first appeared in the Braille Monitor. The rest is history.]
NEW LIBRARY FOR BLIND, PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED OK'D
From the Editor: As readers of this magazine know, the Braille Monitor engages in investigative reporting. When we find a situation that is positive and helpful to the blind, we say so without reservation, but we also speak with equal vigor against the harmful and destructive. Some people criticize us for this, calling our exposes negative and counterproductive, but we keep finding repeated evidence that our hard-hitting presentation of the facts is a major element in bringing improvement to the lives of the blind of the nation.
A recent instance can be found in what has happened to Maryland's library for the blind during the past several years. The library was in sorry shape, and we said so in the pages of the Braille Monitor, underscoring our story with pictures. The Monitor is widely read--in this case by Maryland's governor--and our story brought action, positive action. Let those who object to honest investigative reporting (regardless of how blunt that reporting may be) read the article by John Frece which appeared in the December 13, 1990, Baltimore Sun. Here it is:
ANNAPOLIS--Bad publicity paid off yesterday for Maryland's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
Final state approval to build a new library at the southeast corner of Park Avenue and Franklin Street, just west of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, might never have happened if Gov. William Donald Schaefer hadn't seen pictures of the current facility's dilapidated condition.
The project, which could cost as much as $9 million, originated in 1986, shortly after photographs depicting the shabby condition of the present facility were printed in the Braille Monitor, a publication of the National Federation of the Blind, according to the library director, Lance C. Finney.
Soon after those pictures were seen in the State House, Mr. Finney recalled, Governor Schaefer paid a visit to the library in the 1700 block of North Charles Street. He subsequently ordered his staff to help the library initiate a new building program.
Yesterday Mr. Schaefer and the other two members of the Board of Public Works approved the project, which Mr. Finney said will vastly expand audio, Braille, and other resources available to Maryland's blind and physically handicapped.
About 7,000 people use the library, most of them receiving and returning resources through the mail. Another 3,000 people use library materials through collection points in nursing or retirement homes and other institutions.
Construction of the new library could begin as early as spring, with completion tentatively scheduled for December, 1992. The state has appropriated $6 million toward the estimated $7.5 million construction cost.
The library will have to return to the General Assembly for the additional $1.5 million needed to equip the facility, he said.
To make way for the new structure, which is designed by the architectural firm of Ayers Saint Gross, Inc., two town houses dating from the 1850s and a parking lot will have to be demolished. The seven-tenths of an acre is owned by the city, but will be leased to the state for 50 years at $1 a year.
Once completed, the facility will offer people who are blind or who have severely impaired vision, or those who are too incapacitated to hold a book, a broader collection of resources, including Braille, audio cassette, audio disk, and large print books.
An expanded section for blind or physically handicapped children, and a children's services librarian, also will be provided.
Among a number of other improvements will be the installation of audio recording studios, in-house audio duplicating equipment, print-to-Braille equipment, a staff lounge, and a multi-purpose meeting room.
"The main problem now is there just isn't enough material [available]," said Sharon Maneki of Columbia, president of Maryland's chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.
Although the project received a design award from the American Institute of Architecture, its design remained controversial, as did the plan to demolish the two old town houses. As a result, the proposal ran into some difficulty before it obtained final approval from the city's Architectural Review Board and the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Portrait of Carol Coulter.]
CHANGING DIAPERS INTO DOLLARS
by Carol Coulter
From the Associate Editor: The final program item in the Thursday morning, July 5, general session of the 1990 convention of the National Federation of the Blind was a talk by Carol Coulter of Kansas City, Missouri. With help and support from the NFB, Carol overcame opposition from state officials and now runs her own child care business. President Maurer concluded his introduction by saying: "I present to you for her remarks, Carol Coulter."
Mrs. Coulter: Hello, fellow Federationists. First, I would like to say how honored I am to have been asked to speak to all of you here at our fiftieth anniversary convention.
For as long as I can remember, I've had a love of children and have wanted to work with them, so when I graduated from the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1982, it wasn't a surprise to anyone that my degree was in preschool-elementary education. The need of a job, however, took us to Kansas City, Missouri, where I was hired by the Division of Family Services as a social worker. Six months later my husband Gene was hired as a case worker by the same agency.
Shortly after that, I started seeking a job in a day-care center. I lucked out and was hired by the one my son attended. I worked in the mornings with two other adults, and then from three to six I was in charge of the nine infants and had one teenage assistant. A short time later I was put in charge of closing the center each night, which involved such things as making sure that all the children were picked up and that doors and windows were locked and the alarm system was turned on.
In August of 1985 my husband's transfer came through. So we moved back to Columbia. Because it was late in the school year to find a job, I decided I would start a day-care home of my own. At the time, my sister-in-law Patty and I decided to do this together. She would be my assistant, and I would let her do all the cooking.
In October I applied for the license, and I could tell from the interview that things weren't going to go the way I wanted them to. The licensing representative kept asking me over and over again if Patty, who by the way is sighted, was going to be there all the time. Nothing was written on the original forms about my blindness or about any restrictions. However, I was very skeptical about what the outcome would be.
On March 11, 1986, I received my license, which stated that an assistant had to be present at all times. I immediately called our NFB state president and told him what had happened. He advised me to write a letter to Family Services requesting an explanation for this decision. So I wrote a letter, playing it dumb, pretending not to understand the reason for this restriction.
They very promptly wrote back stating that "for the safety of the children, an assistant needs to be present in the home at all times." They gave such reasons as these: In case of a fire, an assistant could help me locate the children so that they could be evacuated. Also an assistant could provide assurance that the children receive the proper medications. They raised the question, if there were two children in the same area, how would I know which child needed my assistance?
After speaking with Federation leaders and several members who work for the Office of Civil Rights, our state president Gary Wunder wrote a letter on my behalf to the Office of Civil Rights. In September we met with an OCR representative and discussed the case. Then the Division of Family Services requested a meeting to be held on November 13, 1986, to discuss how I would handle certain situations. Six days later, on November 19, 1986, I was granted an unrestricted license.
This was a trying twelve and a half months. First of all I was fighting the very agency for which my husband worked. They could have made things rough for him or maybe even have fired him, but I knew, if he had any problems, the NFB would be there.
The other major thing that was going on in our lives at this time was that our baby girl was born on July 17, 1986, and had to remain in the intensive care unit for nineteen days. Then, after she was released, it seemed like I was at the doctor's office every other week.
There were days when I could have said just forget it, but I knew that I wasn't fighting this battle for myself alone, but for all blind people. Whether we like it or not and whether it is right or not, what every one of us does, positive or negative, affects all blind people.
Little did I know when I won my battle to run a day-care home that I would later be asked to file an affidavit for a fellow Federationist in the state of California so that she too could receive her license to run a day-care home. We are celebrating fifty years of Federationism; may we have the determination and spirit to keep the NFB manning the barricades for another fifty years if necessary. Thank you.
[PHOTO: Group portrait of "The Cajun Friends" band. CAPTION: The "Cajun Friends" band will be playing for our enjoyment Sunday evening, June 30, at the 1991 convention of the NFB.]
[PHOTO: A home on the bank of a Louisiana bayou. CAPTION: Federationists can enjoy scenes like this one on the "Life of the Cajun: Swamp Tour."]
[PHOTO: Alligator on the bank of a pond at the zoo. CAPTION: This alligator is enjoying a nap in the Louisiana sunshine at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.]
THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE
by Jerry Whittle
This year's National Convention in New Orleans promises to be a unique and exciting one. The accommodations are fabulous, the tours are varied and reflective of the diverse cultures of old New Orleans, the hospitality is unsurpassed, and the door prizes will be abundant. Of course, it goes without saying that the meetings, the speakers, and the banquet will be as informative and as timely as always.
Boasting 1,196 spacious rooms comfortably housed in twin towers, the elegant Hyatt Regency New Orleans Hotel is possibly the finest convention hotel in the country. The towers, Poydras and L'Enai, provide ample accommodations for our convention. On the seventh floor of the L'Enai Tower, a huge swimming pool surrounded by a splendid lounging area will be a place to relax and enjoy a refreshing escape from the summer heat. The hotel also features a twenty-four-story garden atrium, where you can sip your favorite drink or spend time with old friends. Part of the Poydras Plaza complex in the Central Business District, the hotel includes an enclosed mall with dozens of boutiques and shops, such as Macy's and Lord & Taylors. The Superdome is right next door, and the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, and Preservation Hall are all nearby.
The Hyatt offers an enormous exhibit room and adjacent general assembly room that can easily accommodate four thousand conventioneers--both located on the third floor of the magnificent Poydras Tower. Fast food will again be available just outside the exhibit room as a convenience and economy for busy Federationists always on the go.
The Hyatt restaurants provide an exciting array of foods that should satisfy the most discerning gourmet. Dine in the open-air Courtyard Restaurant; feast on seafood and other delectable specialties in the luxurious underwater world of Jonah's; or enjoy a dazzling view of the city from the revolving rooftop restaurant and lounge, the Top of the Dome. The world- renowned Cafe du Monde also has a coffee shop in the Hyatt, where one can grab a quick cup of coffee and a beignet. Poydras Plaza provides numerous fast food restaurants, and a large Wendy's and a Chinese restaurant are located directly across the street from the hotel. A shuttle to and from the French Quarter will run every twenty minutes to take conventioneers to the hundreds of other restaurants and shopping areas that have made New Orleans famous the world over for fine food and good times.
The elegance and grace of this magnificent hotel complex should amply satisfy all Federationists who attend this year's convention, but the grandeur and convenience of the Hyatt are only one facet of the 1991 convention. This year's hospitality will feature a Cajun band "Cajun Friends," accompanied by a troupe of Cajun dancers, "La Danceur du Bayou," who will be on hand to assist and instruct Federationists who would like to learn to cut the old rug Cajun style during the dance on Sunday evening. Cajuns are famous for their hospitality and strong belief in having the time of your life, and Sunday evening should provide an atmosphere of good music and great fun. As the Cajuns say, "Laissez le bon temps roulet!" (Let the good times roll!)
The Regency ballroom will be filled with the finest jazz music in the world on Wednesday evening as Pete Fountain and his orchestra lift our spirits New Orleans style. Pete Fountain is possibly the greatest jazz clarinetist in the world and has recently appeared on the Johnny Carson Show, as well as at the finest nightclubs in the country. His great blend of traditional jazz, ragtime, and Dixieland should put a bounce in all our steps. His wonderful orchestra will blast the blues away and put us in a Mardi Gras mood. You don't want to miss this one.
Nothing puts Federationists in a festive mood like fabulous door prizes, and this year's door prizes are abundant and reflective of the great state of Louisiana. They will include a grand door prize of $1,000 to be given at the banquet and complimentary dinners for two from such famous restaurants as Brennan's and Ralph and Kacoo's, among others. Bottles of old South wine, more cash prizes, Cajun music tapes, Louisiana cookbooks, special baskets filled with Louisiana spices and food items, a New Orleans Saints sweater, and a variety of other unique items will also be given away, including one hundred pages of Braille transcription work. Also, unique handmade Louisiana souvenirs, such as Cajun angels and chefs, NFB '91 gumbo paddles, t-shirts, and Louisiana spices will be offered at special low prices.
Some wonderful tours are available for those Federationists who like to venture out and scout the territory. Let the magic of the South beckon you as you pick from an exciting line-up of unique tours:
The Life of the Cajun: Swamp Tour
The swamp tour includes a twenty-mile bus ride to Bayou Lafourche, where you will first hear and see a pictorial history of the Acadian people who settled the region in 1755 after being forced out of Nova Scotia by the British. Following the informative history, which includes hands-on experiences in Cajun life, the tour proceeds to the bayou, where you will enjoy a leisurely boat ride into the beauty and serenity of one of Louisiana's most picturesque regions. You will see much of the wildlife in the bayou, including alligators, nutria, and hundreds of species of birds. Following the boat ride and history of the region, you will be treated to a sumptuous Cajun meal, including gumbo, jambalaya, and other wonderful taste experiences. A souvenir shop featuring Cajun crafts is also available. For those who dare, you can hold a live alligator in your hand and pet the silky nutria that roam the swamplands. The cost is $46.00 per person and includes transportation, boat ride, and lunch. Tours will be offered at 9:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings, June 29 and 30, and 1:00 p.m. Thursday, July 4. Each tour will be limited to fifty people.
Walking VooDoo Tour
Dispel all the negative myths you ever heard about the greatest voodoo queen of all time, Marie Laveau, on this walking tour. From the French Market, the site of the actual Indian trading place at the time of Marie Laveau, this tour proceeds through the French Quarter and explores the fascinating history of voodoo, the old African religion. The tour includes stories of haunted houses; a visit to a voodoo museum, the site of the Queen's cottage; historic Congo Square; and finally Marie's tomb. The price is $20.00 per person, and the tour will be offered on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, June 29 and 30, at 9:30 A.M.
Historic Plantation Home Tour
In addition to the mysteries of the occult, New Orleans also means gracious living in the tradition of the old antebellum period, when cotton was king and the living was easy. This tour affords a first-hand glimpse into this elegant period. Along historic River Road you'll have a first-hand look at what life was like before the Civil War. Tour San Francisco Plantation, with its elaborate gardens and original antiques. Returning to New Orleans over the Bone Carre Spillway, built through one of the most impressive cypress marshes in Louisiana, one can view the spillway, which acts as a safety valve for New Orleans, protecting the city from floods. The time is 9:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30. The cost is $20.00 for adults and $11.00 for children six to twelve. The tour is four hours long.
Nottoway Plantation Tour with Lunch
No visit to New Orleans would be complete without a visit to the gracious plantations that line the mighty Mississippi River. On this tour Federationists can visit both the San Francisco plantation and the Nottoway, the South's largest plantation home. Completed after ten years' work, the mansion has been magnificently restored to its former grandeur, in 1859. Riverboat passengers used to exclaim as Nottoway came into view that surely this was "the white castle of Louisiana." It has never been left vacant, and thus retains its original splendor. Lunch will be served at the Nottoway. This eight-hour tour is scheduled for Thursday, July 4th at 12:30 pm, and the cost is $48.00 for adults and $36.00 for children six to twelve.
Aquarium/Zoo and Cruise Adventure
One of the newest tourist attractions and one of the oldest combine to make a fascinating day-long tour. The Aquarium of the Americas has been opened only a short time, but it is already one of the finest attractions in New Orleans. Visitors who step through the doors are greeted by sinister sand tiger sharks, moray eels, and giant tarpon as they dart within inches of one's face. Handle live stingless stingrays and primitive horseshoe crabs in the touching pond, and get a closer look into the mysteries of black-footed penguins and electric eels. Inside the aquarium you'll find over a million gallons of water teeming with some of the most exciting sea life ever seen. The adventure continues with a seven-mile cruise on the John James Audubon down the Mississippi River. Docking at one of the top three zoos in the nation, you'll meet the animals face to face as you wander through 58 lush acres that combine to form a breathtaking setting. As the day draws to a close, the adventure ends with a return cruise on the John James Audubon, from which a motorcoach will return you to the Hyatt. This unforgettable tour will be offered on Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Costs are $40.00 for adults and $30.00 for children six to twelve.
Cookin' Creole Demonstration
The City that Care Forgot never forgets about its food, and you'll never forget it either. Learn to cook the distinctive dishes for which New Orleans is famous. Local chefs will share the secrets of preparing and seasoning such flavorful Crescent City favorites as shrimp remoulade, chicken andouille gumbo and praline parfait. Once the chef has taken you through step-by-step preparations for these classic Creole/Cajun dishes, a full meal will be served, so bring your appetite! Recipes will be offered in both print and Braille. The cost of this two-hour culinary adventure is $37.00; and it will be offered on Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, at 9:30 a.m. and again on Thursday, July 4, at 12:30 p.m. Bon appetit.
New Orleans and All its Splendor:
The Complete City Tour
Begin this tour riding down the world-famous Canal Street-- the widest main street in the world. Turning into the historic Old French Quarter, you'll get a glimpse of the mighty Mississippi River to your right and the historic architecture to your left. Passing Jackson Square (the old Place d'Arms) flanked by the Pontalba's first apartment houses in the U.S., you will see St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest continually active Cathedral in the United States. The tour continues through the French Market, the Farmer's Market, and the old U.S. Mint before heading to Esplanade Avenue--The Avenue of the Creoles. Heading away from the river down tree-lined Esplanade, Federationists can view one of the above-ground cemeteries--a necessity in New Orleans since it is below sea level. The tour then proceeds to view Lake Pontchartrain and then back to St. Charles Avenue, with its many antebellum homes. The cost is $14.00 for adults and $10.00 for children six to twelve, and the three-hour tour begins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, and at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 4th.
Plantation Cruise/Cajun Queen
Hop aboard the Cajun Queen for a leisurely excursion down the Mississippi. Rolling down that lazy river, you will pass several beautiful mansions, including the Beauregard House, owned by General Pierre Gustave Beauregard, and built in 1826; the stately LeBeau house; and the splendid San Francisco House. The tour will pass historic Jackson Barracks, and the tourist will be informed about the Battle of New Orleans, which took place in the harbor area in 1812. The cost is $10.00 for adults ($5.00 for children 3-12) and will be offered at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, and again on Thursday, July 4, at 3:30 p.m.
Creole Queen/Harbor Cruise
The second riverboat tour is a three-hour excursion down the Mississippi and in and around the harbor of New Orleans. This tour will take the time to stop at one of New Orleans' greatest landmarks, the stately Beauregard House, for a personal tour of the gardens and the elegantly furnished home. Following the tour of Beauregard House, the riverboat will continue past many other antebellum homes, including the San Francisco House and the Ormond House. The tour will explore the harbor, where the Battle of New Orleans was fought. The price is $12.00 for adults, $5.00 for children 3-12, and the tour will be offered on Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Dinner Jazz Cruise with Fireworks
Perhaps the most exciting tour offered is the river cruise on the Creole Queen. This tour will feature a Dixieland jazz band, performing ragtime and traditional music for your dancing and listening enjoyment. Dine and dance away the evening as you cruise down the Mississippi. Wonderful food and your favorite summertime drinks will also be served as you float past many of the stately mansions and historic landmarks of old New Orleans. A spectacular 4th of July fireworks display promises to end the evening with a bang. The cost is $32.00 for adults and $18.00 for children three to twelve. The time is Thursday, July 4th, 7:00 p.m.
A final note: All tours have limited seating, so please fill out the reservation form, or call Destination Management directly, (800) 366-8882, as soon as possible to make your reservations.
Now you know why the 1991 convention of the National Federation of the Blind could be the time of your life: a grand hotel; a variety of music, including Pete Fountain and his orchestra; fabulous door prizes and tours; informative and timely speakers; a lavish banquet; interesting general sessions and meetings; and an exhibit room filled with the latest in technology. The Louisiana host affiliate has planned many exciting surprises and special events and beckons you to come way down yonder to New Orleans. Come share the fun, the lure of the French Quarter, and the spirit and camaraderie of fellow Federationists.
Room rates are phenomenally low: singles $28.00; doubles and twins $35.00; triples $38.00; and quads $40 per night. An additional occupancy tax of $2.00 per night will be added to the room rates, plus sales tax of eleven percent. There will be no charge for children under twelve in a room with their parents. Room reservations should be made by writing to Hyatt Regency New Orleans, 500 Poydras Plaza, New Orleans, Louisiana 70140; phone, (504) 561-1234. Do not call the Hyatt toll-free number. Also be sure to tell the reservation clerk that you will be attending the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in order to receive these special rates. Don't delay--this year's convention should be the largest ever. See you there!
LOW-INTEREST LOANS FOR TECHNOLOGY NOW AVAILABLE
From the Editor: Charles Owen is no stranger to Monitor readers. Each year (acting through the Tarver Memorial Fund) he awards in memory of his wife Melva T. Owen a scholarship to a blind student. The Melva T. Owen Scholarship is given at the annual banquet at the National Federation of the Blind convention and is much prized.
Mr. Owen contacted me some months ago to suggest that the National Federation of the Blind establish a committee on assistive technology to help blind persons acquire needed technology, not just for employment purposes but for use in their daily lives. Mr. Owen gave substance to his words by making an initial grant to get the fund started. The Federation matched Mr. Owen's grant, and we are now in business. The chairman of the Committee on Assistive Technology is Curtis Chong of Minnesota. Here is the announcement he has asked us to carry:
It has been said that the age of technology is truly upon us. Be that as it may, it is certainly true that now, more than ever, technology has become an integral part of all our lives--no less so for the blind than for the sighted. The age of technology being upon us, it is not surprising that a growing number of blind people find that this or that piece of technology will help them in their job or in their daily lives. The only problem is that technology costs money--often a lot of it. Which is why the Committee on Assistive Technology of the National Federation of the Blind announces the availability of low interest loans to blind persons who need to purchase technology. If you need some assistive technology to help you improve your employment situation or if a piece of technology will simply be of help to you as you go about the business of living a normal, everyday life, you may be able to secure a low interest (three-percent) loan from the Committee on Assistive Technology.
Members of the Committee are: Curtis Chong of Minnesota, Chairman; E. U. Parker of Mississippi; and Jim Willows of California. If you want to apply for a loan from the Committee, contact Curtis Chong at: 3530 Dupont Avenue, North; Minneapolis, Minnesota 55412; telephone: (612) 521-3202.
From the Associate Editor: The warm weather is almost upon us; in some places it is already here with a vengeance. The time has come to think about cool and simple meals that will perk everyone up, including the cook. Salads are the obvious solution. Try serving chicken for one meal and cooking a piece or two extra. For summer use I like preparing a marinade of soy sauce, fresh grated ginger root, fresh lime juice, dry sherry, a little oil, and salt, pepper, and spices to taste and according to whim. The longer the chicken soaks in this preparation the better-- within reason. Broil or grill the chicken (you can even cook it in the microwave) and serve hot. Then use the leftovers, cut into strips, to crown a chef's salad the following evening. Marinating whole or sliced mushrooms in bottled or home-made Italian dressing for several hours will give any salad a special zip. Canned artichoke hearts respond well to this treatment as well and persuade diners that they have been offered something very special indeed.
Of course fruit salads are the very heart and soul of summer. They change as new fruits and berries come into season, and they are always colorful and appealing. Just remember that a number of cut fruits turn brown after they have been exposed to the air for more than a few minutes. Bananas, apples, and peaches appreciate being sprinkled with lemon juice or a powdered citric acid product like Fruitfresh if they are going to stand for more than a few minutes. A handful of mint leaves tossed in does for fruit salad what fresh basil or oregano does for a green salad.
But the question is always what to serve with one of these wonderful combinations of summer bounty. I think that the ideal solution is fresh muffins or quick breads. These can be made in the cool of the morning and held for use at lunch or dinner. They usually freeze well, and a minute under a damp paper towel in the microwave brings them to the table warm enough to melt butter. Here are several bread and salad recipes that should hold you in good stead across the summer and into the crisp days of autumn:
by Lorraine Rovig
Lorraine Rovig, the director of Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB), has been very busy completing plans for the 1991 National JOB Seminar. It will be held June 30th in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans from one to four in the afternoon. When she has time, Miss Rovig likes to bake. Here is a recipe the associate editor has taste-tested. She and the rest of the staff of the National Center for the Blind recommend its moist texture. Other Federationists who juggle complicated schedules will appreciate the short preparation time as well as the flavor. This recipe was adapted for speedy cooks by Miss Rovig from the With Love From Minnesota cookbook.
2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2 eggs (beaten slightly)
1 teaspoon vanilla (cinnamon and nutmeg optional)
2 1/2 cups (4 whole) ripe bananas
1 cup (or less) chopped nuts (Pecans work well)
Method: Grease and flour two bread pans and preset your oven to 350 degrees. Sift together all the dry ingredients. Use a fork to beat in the eggs. Cut thin slices of the stick of butter and the 4 bananas into the bowl. Use your fork to mash everything together, working in the flour on the bottom of the bowl and leaving no banana slice unmashed. Chop your nuts or cut each whole pecan into pieces and mix into the batter. Pour half the batter into each loaf pan. Place 3 or 4 whole pecans along the center line of each loaf for decoration. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool slightly on racks and remove from pans.
EASY YEAST MUFFINS
by Carolyn Ranker
Carolyn Ranker and her husband Dennis are active members of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia.
1 package dry yeast
2 cups warm water
3/4 cup butter or margarine (1 1/2 sticks)
1 egg, beaten
4 cups self-rising flour, unsifted
1/4 cup sugar
Method: Dissolve yeast in warm water, and add sugar and cooled melted butter. Stir in the beaten egg; then add dry ingredients. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before filling greased muffin tins half full of dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until brown. Makes at least 18 muffins. Dough can be kept up to a week in the refrigerator before baking.
LOUIS PAPPAS' FAMOUS GREEK SALAD
by Marilyn Womble
Marilyn Womble is the past President of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida. She swears by this salad and by the restaurant from which she got the recipe.
6 boiling potatoes
2 medium-sized onions or 4 green onions
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup bottled salad dressing
1 large head of lettuce
3 cups of potato salad made from first 6 ingredients
12 roka leaves (Greek vegetable) or 12 sprigs of watercress
2 tomatoes, cut into 6 wedges each of which is cut in half
crosswise (24 pieces in all)
1 peeled cucumber, cut lengthwise into 8 fingers
1 avocado pear peeled and cut into wedges
4 portions of Feta (Greek) cheese
1 green bell pepper, cut into 8 rings
4 slices of canned cooked beets
4 peeled and cooked shrimp
4 anchovy filets
12 black olives (Greek style preferred)
12 bottled medium hot Salonika peppers
4 artistically cut radishes (roses or other shapes)
4 whole green onions
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup each, virgin olive oil and salad oil blended
Method for potato salad: Boil the potatoes in their jackets for about 30 minutes or until tender but not soft when tested. Drain, cool, and peel the potatoes. When they are cold, slice into a bowl. Cut onions and peppers into thin slices, and chop the parsley. Add to the potatoes and sprinkle lightly with salt. Fold in the salad dressing using more if necessary to hold salad together lightly.
Method for constructing Greek salad: Wash lettuce thoroughly. Line a large platter with the outside lettuce leaves and place 3 cups of the potato salad in a mound in the center of the platter. Shred the remaining lettuce and cover the potato salad with it. Arrange the roka or watercress on top. Anchor the tomato wedges skin side against the potato salad around the base of the mound. Some tomatoes may be arranged on top. Tuck cucumber wedges and avocado slices between the tomatoes, making a solid base for the salad. Slices of Feta cheese and green pepper rings should be arranged on the top of the salad mound. On the very top, arrange the sliced beets with a shrimp on each beet slice and an anchovy filet on the shrimp. The olives, Salonika peppers, green onions, and radishes can be arranged as desired. The entire salad should then be sprinkled with the vinegar (more may be used) and then with the blended oil. Sprinkle the oregano over all and serve at once. Garlic toasted Greek bread is delicious with this salad. It serves four generously.
by Kathleen Nelson
Kathleen Nelson is an active member of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota.
2 3-ounce packages lemon jello
2 cups boiling water
1 15-ounce can crushed pineapple with juice
1 can lemon pie filling
1 2/3 cups milk
1 envelope Dream Whip
1 small box instant lemon pudding
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
Method: Dissolve jello in boiling water. You may substitute a little lemon juice for some of the water if you want to increase the lemon flavor. Fold in fruit and pie filling. Pour mixture into a 9x13 pan and allow to set in the refrigerator until firm. Mix the topping ingredients together according to label directions and spread over set jello. Decorate with mandarin orange slices.
[PHOTO: Poker players at card table during NFB Student Division Monte Carlo Night at NFB convention in Dallas. CAPTION: The Student Division's Monte Carlo Night attracts fun-loving Federationists, young and old.]
[PHOTO: Singers and others gathered around a piano during NFB Music Division's Showcase of Talent at the 1990 NFB convention in Dallas. CAPTION: Music Division members and other music-loving Federationists enjoy the music showcase.]
From the Associate Editor: Every year's National Convention is an absolutely unique event. The agenda items, the exhibits, the new friends and business acquaintances: all these give each convention its own character and significance. Some activities lend a luster to the convention in part because they do take place every year and provide helpful fixed points in the whirl of events. In this category are the meetings of the Resolutions Committee and the Board of Directors, the annual banquet, and many seminars and workshops of the various divisions and committees. Here is a partial list of activities during the convention that are being planned by various Federation groups. Presidents of divisions and committee chairs have provided the information. The pre-convention agenda will list the locations of all events taking place before convention registration on Monday, July 1. The convention agenda will contain listings of all events taking place after that time.
Job Opportunities for the Blind Seminar
Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB), will hold its national seminar on June 30, 1991, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the convention hotel.
If you are blind and looking for work, if you want to know how others got their jobs, or if you are interested in the methods used by successful blind employees on the job, this seminar is for you.
National Association of Blind Students
NABS, the Student Division of the National Federation of the Blind, will hold its annual convention seminar on Monday evening, July 1. Registration will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the seminar will begin at 7:00 p.m. sharp. The agenda promises fun and excitement. We encourage everyone to join us.
On Thursday evening, July 4, the Student Division will host its third annual Monte Carlo Night. Festivities will begin at 8:00 p.m. and will continue through midnight. Good company, great fun, and a cash bar are only a few of the reasons those of a gaming nature should join us. Poker players will compete for first-, second-, and third-place cash prizes of $75, $50, and $25 respectively. Additionally, this year we will have an UNO pit for those who would prefer to indulge in a friendly game of UNO. The Student Division's Monte Carlo Night promises to be an enriching experience for all.
National Association of Blind Educators
The National Association of Blind Educators will hold its annual meeting Tuesday, July 2, 1991, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans. There have been so many problems concerning the blind in education that our meeting will focus on ways to solve these problems. We will have Sharon Gold, an expert advocate for blind educators, speak about solving problems pertaining to violation of the law; the rights of the blind; and much, much more. We shall have small group discussions on such topics as education as a career; successful student teaching; blindness, handling the subject at interviews; the blind teaching and achieving the same results as other teachers; and more.
The Writers Division
The NFB Writers Division will sponsor a workshop on grant writing in New Orleans from 9:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. on June 30, 1991. Tuition is $15.00.
This will be a working workshop, with small group discussions and development of projects. The first thirty-five who send in their tuition will attend. This fee will purchase handouts. The presenter is Suzanne Mitchell of Kansas. Make tuition checks payable to Writers Division and mail to Tom Stevens, 1203 Fairview Road, Columbia, Missouri 65203.
The annual meeting of the Diabetics Division will be held on Tuesday evening, July 2, 1991. As always, we will meet at 7:00 p.m. We expect our speaker will be Ms. Susan Kirk, RD, from Tulane University. She will be addressing "New Trends in the Diabetic's Diet." Announcements regarding the meeting will be available at the Diabetics Division table as well as at the NFB information table in the hotel.
Bill Parker welcomes anyone who wishes to help with our table to meet in his room on Sunday or Monday evening at 5:30 p.m. to learn what will be available at the table. Also please get raffle tickets from him. The money raised from this project helps the Division produce the Voice of the Diabetic and assists with the other good work of the Division.
The Merchants Division of the National Federation presents two important seminars on Sunday, June 30, 1991. There will be a morning session from 9:00 to 11:45 and an afternoon session from 1:45 to 4:30. The registration fee is $20 for each session, or you may register for both sessions between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. and receive a 25% discount--$30 for both sessions if purchased at registration at 8:30 a.m.
Ronald A. Yudd, nationally known author, speaker, and instructor for the National Restaurant Association will present "Carry Out Ideas." These are practical ideas that you can take home and actually use in your business, whether you are the boss or just want to be. You'll want to take notes, so come prepared. With excellent educational credentials, Ron also has the hands-on experience to back up these helpful practices. In addition to lecturing in the U.S. and Canada, Ron operates 14 businesses with gross sales of more than $5 million.
Who should attend? Persons working in the vending program as managers, business counselors, or administrators will want to attend this session. Seminar I--Learn The How-to's Of: Leadership in Business, Managing and Motivating for Profit, Wholeheartedness--the Key to Success.
Although the second session is tailored to round out Seminar I, participants will benefit from Seminar II even if they missed Seminar I. Seminar II--Make Life Happen For you, Not To You. This session provides a follow-up to the morning session and will show you how to apply the same principles to get more out of your life. Others who will benefit from this seminar are those who wish to have a bigger role in determining their own destiny. Seminar II is a "stand alone" session, meaning that the morning session is not a prerequisite to gaining the benefits of this important topic.
Ron Yudd is a dynamic speaker, who will move and motivate you to take charge of your destiny. He will share with you ideas and attitudes that you can use to enhance your work, social, and family life.
Upward mobility training is a must if we are to stay current with modern and successful business practices. After completing these two seminars, notify your state director of vending so this training will be reflected in your resume. For IRS purposes, these seminars will qualify as business training, the expense for which is tax-deductible.
Public Relations Workshop
The Public Relations Committee will conduct a workshop for anyone interested in learning more about how to represent the Federation effectively in dealing with the media and the general public. It will take place from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 30. Members of the Public Relations Committee and those who have PR responsibility at any level of the organization are particularly urged to join us. There will be small group sessions on all types of public speaking and lecturing, press release writing, broadcast interviews, and organizing and maintaining state-wide PR networks. Participants will be able to attend two of these group sessions and should come prepared to work rather than observe.
Computer Science Division Meeting
The 1991 meeting of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science will take place from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM at the Hyatt Regency hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here is a glimpse of some of the agenda items that we plan to cover:
1. A discussion of the strategies employed by screen reading programs to handle so-called non-conventional software--programs that make extensive use of light bars, dialog boxes, and the like; programs that park the cursor off the screen; and programs that use pop-up windows.
2. What are the latest developments concerning the IBM Screen Reader and OS/2 Presentation Manager? Can blind people run applications under OS/2 using IBM's Screen Reader?
3. And what about the Apple Macintosh? What is new and improved about the outSPOKEN program developed and marketed by Berkeley Systems?
These and other technologically provocative items will be featured and discussed at this year's NFB in Computer Science meeting.
Membership dues in the NFB in Computer Science will be due at the 1991 National Federation of the Blind convention. If you are interested in becoming a member of the division, we charge a modest $5 per year. For further information, contact: Curtis Chong, President, National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, 3530 Dupont Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55412; telephone: (612) 521-3202.
Braille 'n Speak Users Seminar
Are you a Braille 'n Speak user? Have you been so busy that you simply haven't had time to plow through the Braille 'n Speak manual? Can you use the Braille 'n Speak just well enough to get something out of it? If you could, would you like to learn more about the advanced features of this wonderfully popular portable note-taking machine?
Well, if you answered "YES" to these questions, you may be interested in attending a seminar for Braille 'n Speak users sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science. People who are familiar with the Braille 'n Speak will be prepared to walk you through many of the fascinating features of the machine. How do you program and use macros? How can you transmit data to and from your computer? What about the built-in clock and calculator? Does the portable disk drive really produce PC-compatible files? What about moving, copying, and deleting text? How can files be made larger or smaller? How do you know where you are within your file? All of these questions and many others will be answered during the seminar.
So come one and all, Braille 'n Speak users, to the Braille 'n Speak Users Seminar. It will be held from 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M., Sunday, June 30, 1991, at the Hyatt Regency hotel in New Orleans.
You should be prepared to bring your own Braille 'n Speak to the seminar, but if you can't, Deane Blazie of Blazie Engineering has agreed to furnish some Braille 'n Speaks to people who might need them for the seminar. If you will need one to use during the seminar, contact Curtis Chong at the address in the previous announcement.
National Association of Blind Lawyers
On Tuesday afternoon, July 2, the National Association of Blind Lawyers (NABL) will hold its annual meeting and conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans as a part of the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. The agenda for this conference will include informative presentations and discussions of interest to the growing practitioner. Last year the NABL conference was approved by the Oregon State Bar for credit toward Continuing Education at Bar, and it is expected that this year's agenda will be approved by other state bar associations. With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act last summer, the whole question of the extent of legal protection afforded to blind or disabled people in the future is of critical importance. If you are currently a member of NABL, you will want to attend our 1991 conference. If you are not, you are invited to attend and to join the Association. Through the support of the National Federation of the Blind, NABL distributes the American Bar Association Journal on cassette. NABL membership is open to all blind lawyers, judges, law students, paralegals, legal assistants, and legal secretaries.
Parents of Blind Children Division
The theme for the Sunday, June 30, 1991, parents of blind children seminar is "We Are Changing What It Means to be Blind." Registration for the seminar (which is free) will begin at 8:30 a.m. The seminar will begin at 9:00 a.m., and after a morning of speakers and panels, the seminar will break up into small group workshops for the afternoon. Participants will be able to choose up to three one-hour workshops from among these topics: Braille, cane travel, alternative techniques in math/science, the blind and multiply disabled child, alternative techniques in physical education, keyboarding/computer skills, and the blind infant/toddler/preschooler. Parents and older blind youth will also have the option of attending the Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB) seminar, which will begin at 1:00 p.m. that afternoon. The parents seminar will adjourn at 5:00 p.m.
While Mom and Dad are busy with these workshops, the kids will be busy with their own special agenda. Children ages five through ten may register for a field trip to a nearby children's museum. The children will go to the museum in the morning; come back for lunch in the hotel mall; and then play games, make crafts, and perhaps have a surprise visit from a clown and/or a mobile petting zoo. The fee for all these activities will be $8.00 per child. Parents may preregister for this trip by sending the full fee per child along with name, address, and telephone number of parent and child (also include the child's age) to Lori Duffy, 2405 Adams Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43202; (614) 262-9378. Checks for the full amount should be made payable to Parents of Blind Children Division. There is a limit on the number of children who can register for the field trip, so children who were not preregistered will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Parents may check in or register children the day of the seminar (Sunday, June 30) just outside the parents seminar room between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.
Supervision will be offered for children and youth ages ten and up who wish to go on the aquarium/boat/zoo group tour sponsored by the Louisiana affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind. The Colorado Center for the Blind is coordinating this supervision. Parents will be responsible for purchasing the tour ticket and for providing extra cash to the child for lunch or spending money. For information about tour times, fees, and ticket-purchase details, please see the article entitled "The Time of Your Life" elsewhere in this issue. For information about how to sign up for the youth supervision service, contact Chip Johnson, Colorado Center for the Blind, 2232 South Broadway, Denver, Colorado 80210; (303) 778-1130.
Everyone interested in music performance and composition is welcome to attend this division meeting on Monday evening, July 1. Kaye Kipp will demonstrate her method of music composition with inkprint output.
The annual Music Showcase will take place at 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, July 3. This year there will be separate competitions for children, amateurs, and professional musicians. Prizes will be awarded in all three categories. The performance entry fee for Music Division members will be $2, and $5 for everyone else.
Katrina Standfield reports that the Magic City Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama recently held elections. The 1991 officers are Mike Jones, President; Margaret Hutton, First Vice President; Johnny Carrington, Second Vice President; Katrina Standfield, Secretary; and Sherlyn Carrington, Treasurer. Brenda Killian and Bernice Curtis were elected to the Board.
**Toll-Free Hot Line Directory Available:
Norma Schecter of Huntington Beach, California asks us to print the following: Guide to Health and Consumer Toll Free Hot Lines is a useful reference volume (in paper Braille, not thermoform). It may be ordered for $12.50 from Beach Cities Braille Guild, P.O. Box 712, Huntington Beach, California 92648.
Kaye Zimpher writes as follows: the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia is proud to announce the beginning of the Georgia Association of Blind Students, established February 23, 1991. The officers elected were Kay Zimpher, President; Kelvin Thomson, Vice President; Aimee Lewis, Secretary; and Mike Jackson, Treasurer.
**Text Production and Transcription Services:
PC Design 52 provides word processing and Braille transcription. We edit and transcribe books, news clips, religious literature, recipes, manuals, personal or professional correspondence, and other reading materials into Braille and large print. Additional services include reading on tape. For details, simply call (818) 344-4813 or write to PC Design 52, 17950 Burbank Blvd., #21, Encino, California 91316.
Ned Godfrey, Secretary of the Capital District chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New York, reports that on February 9, 1991, the following members were elected to serve two-year terms on the chapter's board of directors: Gisela Distel, President; Patti Arocho, Vice President; Ned Godfrey, Secretary; and Bill Schultze, Treasurer; and Elen DeNardo, Board Member at Large.
**National Church Conference of the Blind:
We have been asked to print the following: The 1991 meeting of the National Church Conference of the Blind will take place from Tuesday, July 23 to Saturday, July 27 at the Lincoln Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Illinois. The conference theme is "Attention, Please! There's Hope, There's Peace, There's Love" (Luke 8, verse 18a). In addition to the daily Bible studies with Dr. Roger Compton and the Saturday evening banquet, this year's conference will include seminars on "Biblical Self-Esteem" and "Christian Education."
For registration information and more details, contact Reverend Frank Finkenbinder, Membership Secretary, National Church Conference of the Blind, P.O. Box 163, Denver, Colorado 80201; telephone (303) 455-3430.
We have been asked to print the following: American Printing House for the Blind "Pocket Brailler," newest model. Was purchased for $900, but will sell for $600. All manuals and hook- ups are included. Interested parties may contact Brad L. Johnson, 1670 W. Ball Road, Apt. B, Anaheim, California 92802; (714) 535- 0940.
**Jericho Hill Reunion:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Students, staff, and parents of students are invited to attend the Jericho Hill School for the Blind reunion August 2-4, 1991, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The fee for the weekend is $50, which must be sent by May 15. Please make checks or money orders payable to Jericho Hill School Reunion and send to: Josette Kernaghan, Chairperson, Post Office Box 80473, South Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5H 3X9; or for the U.S.: Post Office Box 0902, Bellingham, Washington 98227-0902. For further information call (604) 435-4315.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: The 1991 Aids Unlimited Catalog is now being distributed. It contains over 235 items, including Braille and Low Vision Writing Materials, Kitchen Korner, Cassette Recorders, Kids Korner, Household Products, Our Unique, Beautiful Touch 'N See Collection, Personal Care Products, Radios, and Telephones. And there is more. Print catalogs are free; cassette catalogs for a lifetime cost of $1.35. For further information please contact: Aids Unlimited, Inc., 1101 North Calvert Street, Suite 405, Baltimore, Maryland 21202; phone (301) 659-0232.
Larry Lorenzo, Secretary of the Las Cruces chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico, reports the following results of the January 12, 1991, chapter elections: Allison Romero, President; Yolanda Thompson, Vice President; Dean Hodgin, Treasurer; and Larry Lorenzo, Secretary.
**Fine for the Dog:
From the Editor: Don Morris, one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, recently sent me an item from the National Lampoon. Here it is:
San Jose, California, judge John Pasco ruled that a seeing eye dog couldn't be considered a passenger and fined Sherman Hill $115 for driving alone in a freeway car-pool lane.
"Hill, of San Francisco, told the judge he was blind in his left eye and partially blind in the right," reported the San Francisco Examiner. "He said his dog, Queenie, sits on his lap and barks when there is a car in front of his. Pasco ruled that the dog was not a person under California Vehicle Code section 21655.5 as it applies to commuter lanes...."
Hill reportedly accelerated and changed lanes to avoid the California Highway Patrol on the Montague Expressway before he and Queenie were stopped. "He told the officer he was speeding up to cool off his dog."
**33rd and Growing:
From Donald Capps, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina: The 33rd chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina was organized last Friday evening, March 1, 1991, in Loris. It is believed that no affiliate of the NFB has more than 33 chapters. Seventeen persons proudly attended a dinner meeting at a Loris restaurant and formed our 33rd chapter. Its president is B. D. Doyle, a resident of Loris, who has been actively involved in the Conway Chapter for some years. The town of Loris has a population of less than 2,500. However, Betty and I worked in the Loris community for two days (Thursday, February 28, and Friday, March 1), and with the help of B. D. and Alma Lee Doyle were able to identify more than 20 blind persons. Attending the dinner meeting was the mayor of Loris, Honorable Maxine Dawes, as well as county councilman, Honorable Paul Prince. Loris Lions Club president,Rex Gause, was also present. All three pledged their support.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Portrait of Dick Carpenter.]
Lorraine Webb, Federationist from New York, writes to tell us of the death of Richard Carpenter of Newburgh, New York, January 27, 1991. Dick is survived by his wife Lucy, an active Federationist. Dick was also active in the Federation. In her letter Lorraine Webb says:
We regret to inform you and all our friends in the Federation of the death of Dick Carpenter, Eastern Orange County Chapter, National Federation of the Blind of New York State. Dick was a loving husband, father, and friend and will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
**A Letter from Sweden:
From the Editor: Recently I received a letter from Lilian Moden of Surahammar, Sweden. She is studying languages, and she asks whether any of our readers would be interested in helping her improve her English by corresponding with her in Braille. Her letter is in Grade One, so I assume that is the form in which she would need correspondence. One more thing: Her address is unclear since the outside of the envelope has as her address 73500, and the inside has 57358. Nevertheless, even with all of the difficulties I think some of our readers might find the challenge interesting in view of the sprightly nature of her letter, which says in part:
My name is Lilian Moden, and I am 16-years-old. As you can see from this letter, I live in Sweden in a little village about 140 kilometers from Stockholm, which is called Surahammar. I live here with my parents and my 11-year-old brother. His name is Ronny. We have a dog, too.
I am going to a college not far from here. It is a college for not-handicapped. My education is in languages. I read English, German, and Spanish. I'm very fond of it, but I think I need more training. That is why I am writing to you. Can you please help me to find a pen-friend? I would be very happy if you do that. My hobbies are sports, to be with friends, listening to music, play trumpet, sing, writing letters, reading, and many other things. I play in an orchestra. I play trumpet there. We don't play any special kind of music. We play different.
I am going to leave! If somebody wants to correspond with me, my address is at the bottom of this letter. Thank you so much. Yours sincerely, Lilian Moden, Bjorsbovagen 24, S-73538, Surahammar, Sweden.
Under date of March 10, 1991, Nancy Martin of Vancouver, Washington, writes:
I would like to tell you that our chapter has three new members. They joined during our last meeting, which took place on February 16, 1991. We are proud to have Ada Hoffman, who is a sighted member; Shanthi Freeman, Barbara and Michael Freeman's little girl; and Robert Jacquiss. I would also like to report that we had elections in December, and Doug Trimble is President, Michael Freeman is First Vice President, Kaye Kipp is Second Vice President, I am Secretary, and Charlie Rogge is Treasurer. I also have to add to our chapter report that we had a proclamation given by the mayor of Vancouver for the fiftieth anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind on November 16, 1990.
Laurie Eckery, Secretary of the Omaha Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska, writes as follows: I have for you the results of the 1991 election of officers in the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska, Omaha Chapter. The new slate of officers is as follows: President, Larry Streeter; First Vice President, Lonnie Merritt; Second Vice President, Gary Thompson; Secretary, Laurie Eckery; Treasurer, Carol Thompson; and Board Members: Sandy Streeter, Jerry Eckery, Alan Kopetzky, and Vicki Hodges.
**What the National Federation of the Blind Means to Me:
We recently received the following statement from Max Parker, one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia. Here is what he says:
I have spent the last seventeen years of my life working and doing things for the National Federation of the Blind. Prior to becoming a member in 1974, I sat at home and did nothing and was content to draw a Social Security check. On September 15, 1974, my life totally changed. It was because of the National Federation of the Blind that I started doing normal daily activities such as working, participating in community events, and holding a full-time job. I was told by the rehabilitation services of Georgia that I could only work in sheltered employment or vending stand facilities. It was because of the National Federation of the Blind that I saw I could do much more. My life's outlook is a total turn-around. When I first heard about the National Federation of the Blind, I considered them just another organization of the blind. After our chapter was formed in 1974, I started seeing things differently. In 1975 I attended my first National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. My life did another change. I could never repay the Federation for what it has done for me. It is such a vast operation of services for me as well as every blind person alike.
[PHOTO: Marie Cobb at table during NFB 1990 convention banquet. CAPTION: Marie Cobb is a professional beauty consultant and an active member of the Baltimore Chapter of the NFB of Maryland.]
**Dressing for the Nineties: Fashion and Grooming Seminar:
Get ready for something new, exciting, and packed full of helpful information! This year in New Orleans we are having a fashion seminar. Macy's is working with Mary Kay professional beauty consultant Marie Cobb to present what would be called a fashion show--if we were using professional models--but since we are using twenty of our own members as models, it is called a fashion seminar. The main thrust of this seminar will be to learn successfully to present a more professional and business-like appearance. How we look when we visit the halls of Congress, speak at public meetings, go for job interviews, or simply want to command people's respect and attention plays a vital role in the final results of our efforts. Learn about the latest trends in fashion,how to make the most of your assets, how to minimize your liabilities, and much more from trained experts.
When you register for the seminar, here is what you get-- besides the opportunity to attend the seminar--a gift of Mary Kay cosmetics, an executive goody bag from Macy's, an individual skin care consultation and complete make-over, and the option to make an appointment with fashion consultant Julie Collins from Macy's to go shopping for any additions you might want to make to your wardrobe.
What: Dressing for the Nineties Fashion and Grooming Seminar. Where: National Federation of the Blind convention, Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Check your pre-convention agenda for exact location. When: July 1, 1991, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Cost: $15 per person.
To pre-register send $15 to Marie Cobb, 202 South Augusta Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21229, or for more information call (301) 644-6352. Again this year, the NFB treasury will receive $10 of each seminar registration fee and fifteen percent of all sales of Mary Kay products at the convention. Be sure to stop by the Mary Kay display in the exhibit hall.
[PHOTO: Frank Lee at podium microphone. CAPTION: The Reverend Dr.
The Reverend Frank Lee, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind and serves as the Treasurer of the NFB of Alabama, was awarded his Doctor of Ministries degree from the Atlanta Theological Association on May 11, 1991. Dr. Lee earned his D. Min. from the International Theological Center, one of several institutions comprising the Association. He completed his dissertation on death and grief while serving as the pastor of the Lakeside United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Alabama, considered by many the strongest Black United Methodist church in Alabama.
"Harness Up" is the recently established newsletter for the National Association of Dog Guide users, the dog guide division of the National Federation of the Blind. It has been agreed that two newsletters would be published annually during the months of June and December. Every effort will be made to include twelve to fifteen articles in each issue. "Harness Up" will include such items as a message from the dog guide division president, annual division meeting roundup, tips from vets, stories by dog guide users, helpful techniques in dog care, dog guides in the news, bits of humor, and much else. Every Federationist who is or has been a dog guide user ought to join! Persons who want to know more about dog guides or who have dogs as pets are welcome to sign up also. For $5 you can be a full-fledged member of the dog guide division, which makes you eligible for the "Harness Up" issues. Send your check or money order to the treasurer, Jim Moynihan, 56 North Main Street, Room 202, Fall River, Massachusetts 02720. Feel free to attend the National Association of Dog Guide Users meeting at the National Convention. Check your brochure to make certain, but I believe the division will meet on Monday evening, July 1, at the New Orleans convention. If you have any questions, check with Robert Eschbach, 4890 Sharon Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43214; phone: (614) 431-0495. Or you may contact the editor, Bill Isaacs, Post Office Box 332, Bourbonnais, Illinois 60914; phone (815) 939-1839.
Laurie Eckery, one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska, writes as follows:
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
I have some good news for you which you might have already heard through the grapevine. On January 19, 1991, Marriott had its annual banquet and awards ceremony. I was totally shocked to receive "Rooky of the Year, 1990" in the department of reservation sales. I was not top in sales by any means, but I received the award for overall work performance and contribution to the company. I received a marble paper weight with a clock and a gold pen on it with the inscription "Marriott Rooky of the Year, 1990." I also received a framed certificate bearing the words: "Certificate of Appreciation, Marriott World-Wide Reservation Center, takes great pride in presenting this certificate to Laurie Eckery, Rooky of the Year, 1990, (signed by) J. W. Marriott, Jr. (President of Marriott Corporation) January 19, 1991." (The parenthetical remarks are mine.) This is such an honor to me since I know that it is a Federation honor of particular value to those who think blind persons cannot compete in regular employment. I've gotten various academic honors and the like in my lifetime, but this is the first award of this type that I have received. I thought you might like to know and share in this Federation victory.
Ellen Waechtler, President of the Lincoln Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska, reports that the following officers and board members were recently elected: Ellen Waechtler, President; Evelyn Haines, First Vice President; Della Johnston, Second Vice President; Hubert Paulson, Secretary; Mary Doty, Treasurer; and Sheryl Livingston, Brad Loos, and Sheila Zimmer, Board Members.
**Braille Business Cards:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Access USA, Braille Services, 528 Riverside Drive, P.O. Box 116, Clayton, New York 13624, (613)-969-5148, will Braille your business cards with your name, your company name, and phone number at the rate of $59.95 for up to 500 cards. Orders will usually be returned within two weeks. A special rate of $54.95 is available to anyone who brings the cards to the Access USA table in the exhibit hall at the NFB National Convention in New Orleans this summer.