Vol. 35, No.
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint, in Braille,
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Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President
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National Federation of the Blind
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NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
THE BLIND IS NOT
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 35, No. 2 February 1992
THE NEXT STEP
IN THE AIRLINE BATTLE
by Kenneth Jernigan
THE BLIND "ARE A DISGRACE TO THE STATE OF ARIZONA,"
WHY USE THE LONG WHITE CANE?
TO REFUSE HELP
by Ted Young
GET IT FAST,
GET IT RIGHT
by Tim Cranmer
ON THE JOB
by Adrienne Asch
STAMPING OUT FALSE ASSUMPTIONS
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
by Christine Boone
by Christopher J. Kuczynski
by Jody W. Ianuzzi
ATTORNEYS, JURIES, AND THE BLIND
by Olegario D. Cantos, VII
A READER COMMENTS ON BRAILLE
AGE NFB STYLE
by Doug Elliot
MEDICAL TRANSCRIPTION AS A CAREER
by Susan M. Turley
OF VILLAGE: BLIND CHILDREN GET SPECIAL TOUR
by Mary Geddes
SSI, AND MEDICARE FACTS FOR 1992
by James Gashel
by Corinne Whitesell
Copyright National Federation
of the Blind, Inc., 1992
[3 LEAD PHOTOS: Portraits
of Jacobus tenBroek, Kenneth Jernigan, and Marc Maurer, which hang on the wall
in the reception area at the National Center for the Blind. CAPTION: February
is a month for celebrating presidents, so it is fitting that the Braille
Monitor display this month photographs of the
portraits that now grace the reception area at the National Center for the Blind. Framed oil paintings of Dr. tenBroek (above), Dr. Jernigan (lower left), and President Maurer (lower right) now hang on the north wall of the seating area beside the receptionist's desk.]
[PHOTO: Harold Snider stands at a microphone, reading Braille. CAPTION: Harold Snider.]
[PHOTO: Portrait. CAPTION:
THE NEXT STEP IN THE AIRLINE BATTLE
by Kenneth Jernigan
For almost twenty years the National Federation of the Blind has been working to try to get the nation's airlines to treat blind passengers like first-class citizens. We have called attention through article after article in the Braille Monitor to the increasing tendency of airline personnel to treat the blind like wards or small children. We have warned that arrogance and tyranny unresisted feed upon themselves and lead to complete subjugation. Although the patterns of discrimination and second- class treatment have been painfully obvious, there have been some who have said that we are overdramatizing and giving too much prominence to the airline issue--that we are giving it too much priority and making of it more than it is.
In this connection the two letters which follow are instructive. Here they are:
San Antonio, Texas
August 2, 1991
Mr. Harold Snider
Deputy Executive Director
National Council on Disability
Dear Mr. Snider:
It was a pleasure meeting you at the July 17 meeting at the Air Transport Association. One purpose of this letter is to thank you for your insightful comments and suggestions during that meeting. A second purpose is to seek your assistance and recommendations for gathering more information needed to construct the aircraft evacuation (AIREVAC) model.
In our effort, we are seeking information on a variety of topics from a variety of sources. You and your colleagues at the National Council on Disability are an excellent source of expertise to help guide us in some of these areas. Following are some questions for which you might be able to provide answers or help by directing us to the best source(s). Please provide us information, data, references and thoughts on any of the following questions.
We need to determine the incidence of air travel by disabled individuals. Specifically, we need to determine the probability that an airline passenger falls into one or more disabled categories. The disabled categories that we are currently using are those offered by an FAA report by Blethrow, Garner, Lowrey, Busby, & Chandler (1977):
Neurological: Blindness, Deafness, Mental Deficiency
Neuromuscular: Cerebral Palsy, Old Age, Paraplegia and Quadriplegia, Hemiplegia, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Polio
Orthopedic: Arthritis, Arm Cast, Lower-Leg Cast and Amputee, Congenital Birth Defects
1. There are two questions here. First, do you have any data that would provide us an estimate of the probability that a passenger would fall into each of the above categories.
2. The second question is whether the categories above are adequate, suitable, and comprehensive enough to use in our project.
3. As you know, the ability of other passengers to recognize a disabled individual as one who might need assistance in an emergency is considered to be an important variable. Do you have any information or insights about how this variable might be quantified and measured for different disability categories?
4. Do you have any information about the probability that a disabled individual falling into one of the above categories would be traveling with a personal attendant, relative, or friend who would assist him/her in an emergency?
5. Do you have any information on what disabled individuals expect to happen in an emergency situation. For example, does a physically immobile person expect someone to come and assist him/her in an evacuation situation?
6. What educational materials are available for disabled travelers to better prepare them for emergency evacuations and does the disabled population know about and use these materials?
Once again, we greatly appreciate any information you can provide. Letters also are being sent to the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Air Transport Association to request related information for the model.
Thank you for your time and support,
James E. Schroeder
Applied Human Factors, Inc.
(Consultant to Southwest Research Institute)
November 8, 1991
Mr. Horace Deets
American Association of Retired Persons
As you may know, the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 ("the Act") was intended by Congress to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities in air travel. My own experience with air carriers since the passage of the Act suggests that compliance has been half hearted, at best. In fact, thanks to the airlines, air travel has been the only troublesome part of my job as Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment opportunity Commission. It has come to my attention recently that the Air Transport Association (ATA), supported by many segments of the airline industry, is making efforts to chip away at various provisions of the Act, at least one of which should be of considerable interest to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
I have learned that the ATA has commissioned a $200,000 study to demonstrate that it would be unsafe to allow more than a certain number of people with disabilities (the number is as yet unspecified) to fly on the same flight. In order to make their point, I believe that the ATA will have to make an argument based upon function, rather than upon specific, named disabilities, since the ATA is going to contend that it is the functional limitations of certain people which will make them a danger to themselves and to other passengers in the event of an emergency.
Evidence of this line of thinking is contained in a letter from a consultant to the Southwest Research Institute, who have been commissioned to do the study, to Harold Snider of the National Council on Disability (see attached copy). You will note that the letter includes "old age" as a category of people who might be excluded from air travel. Obesity is also mentioned. I think that, before they are finished, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will have to include parents who are travelling with small children as well.
It is my understanding that the ATA intends to propose a rule to the FAA once the study is completed. The rule would limit the number of people who are members of the various categories named who would be allowed to fly on the same flight.
I recall a study that indicated that almost half of all older Americans have a functional limitation of some sort. Thus, an elderly person who might have some difficulty moving about rapidly might arrive at an airport with a valid ticket and be told that he or she could not board the flight because the allotted number of places had already been taken up by other elderly people, or by people with disabilities, people who are overweight, or parents travelling with small children.
I hope you agree with me that this sort of nonsense should be stopped. I find it particularly offensive when I think of all the other safety precautions that might be taken which the FAA refuses to require of airlines. For example, even though most European airlines have widened exit rows to make it easier for passengers to disembark in an emergency, the FAA refuses to promulgate a rule that would require American carriers to widen exit rows, almost certainly because the carriers would object that they would lose money. Similarly, the FAA will not require U.S. carriers to use flame-retardant materials throughout airplane cabins, flame-retardant fuel, etc. The list is long....
I hope all is well with you. We should get together for lunch soon.
Evan J. Kemp, Jr., Chairman
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
These letters speak for themselves. Let those who think we have overdramatized and given too much prominence to this issue consider the chilling possibilities. If the airlines and the FAA can successfully join forces to make rules limiting the number of so-called disabled passengers who may ride on the same plane, even this may not be the end of it. The next step will be still further custody, control, and exclusion. Despite the passage of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (passed only a few months ago), the trend is ominous. It must be recognized, publicized, and resisted--and the counterattacks must come now. It is always more difficult to reverse a bad decision than to prevent it in the first place.
No, we have not given too much prominence to the airline issue, and we have certainly not overdramatized it. It is a major threat to our quest for first-class treatment and equal status in society, a substantial barrier to our march to freedom. We were right in passing the resolution at our 1991 National Convention declaring the airline issue to be one of our top priorities, and we would be acting irresponsibly if we were to fail to pursue it with vigor and determination. We join with the chairman of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and all of the rest who oppose the unreasonable and discriminatory behavior of the airline industry in its treatment of the blind and those with other disabilities.
And make no mistake! We intend to prevail. We do not seek strife or confrontation, but we will do what we have to do. We are simply no longer willing to be second-class citizens. That day is gone forever. We will win by reason and persuasion if we can, by stronger measures if we must. But in any event we intend to win. This issue is too important to permit it to be otherwise.
FOR BLIND "ARE A DISGRACE
TO THE STATE OF ARIZONA," GROUP SAYS
From the Editor: The following article by Enric Volante appeared in the November 25, 1991, Arizona Daily Star. It underscores the fact that some state agencies for the blind still do more apologizing and defending than performing. Arizona has the reputation of being one of the worst. As the saying goes, "If you have to be blind, you had better make certain that you don't live in Arizona."
The David Wayne Smith who is quoted in the article is no stranger to the blind of Arizona. He has a constant chip on his shoulder, always tries to divert attention from the shortcomings of the state agency by attacking the organized blind, and demonstrates by almost every pronouncement he makes his profound lack of information. As is usual in such cases, this does not seem to trouble him.
It should be kept in mind that Arizona probably has more groups accredited by NAC (the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped) than any other state, a fact that is not without significance. Good programs and NAC accreditation rarely co-exist.
But Arizona is changing. The blind are increasingly finding strength and exerting themselves. They have had enough of promises and poor services and are determined to bring reform to the agencies. As is understandable, the agencies don't like it and are resisting. It seems likely that major changes will be coming in Arizona soon.
All of this should be kept in mind as Monitor readers consider the implications of Mr. Volante's article. Here it is:
In one week early last year, Jim Matise turned 60, was declared legally blind, and lost his job.
"Needless to say, I was devastated," the former hotel manager recalled later. "My wife and I simply didn't know what we would or could do."
To get help in finding a new job, Matise went to the Tucson office of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, part of the Arizona Department of Economic Security.
But the rehabilitation supervisor who took his application told Matise to forget about work and just consider himself retired, Matise alleged in a letter of complaint to federal officials.
"He said, `We can't even get jobs for people who are 21-years-old. We certainly can't get jobs for someone like you,'" Matise wrote.
Nearly two years after he applied for state help, Matise remains unemployed. Some advocates of the blind cite his case as an example of what they call insensitive and ineffective state services.
DES officials have denied Matise's account of what happened. They say the agency tried to help, but that Matise did not fully cooperate.
Jim Omvig, a member of the advisory Governor's Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment, does not buy that explanation.
"I have never seen an agency for the blind as bad as this one," Omvig said.
"You go to a state agency for the blind that says, `Sorry, we're not going to help you because you're old and blind.' That's bad, and it is, in fact, absolutely illegal."
Matise, Omvig, and other members of the National Federation of the Blind in Arizona, a private non-profit organization with about 450 dues-paying members, say the state agency needs a major shake-up to make it more responsive.
In a resolution passed at the group's convention last month in Tucson, the Federation said services "are a disgrace to the state of Arizona and, even more, are causing irreparable harm to those blind adults who are in need of and qualify for good rehabilitation services to enable them to lead normal, independent, self-sufficient, and productive lives."
Karen Ortega, president of the Federation's Tucson chapter, said the state service supports the fallacy that the blind have nothing more to look forward to "than working in a sheltered workshop."
But David Wayne Smith, chairman of the Governor's Council on the Blind and Visually Impaired and a defender of state services, said the Federation does not speak for many blind people.
"They represent a very small proportion of the blind in Arizona," Smith said. "They have a history of complaining about service in every state."
Nationally and statewide, more than 70 percent of the blind fail to find work because of "tremendous prejudice" and a failure by industry to recognize that the blind are "an extremely capable population," Smith said.
A state DES spokesman, who referred inquiries about state services to Smith, said Arizona statistics show 9,341 people who are legally blind and 43,109 who are severely visually impaired.
Three months after Matise applied for job help, Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired office supervisor George Mayo wrote that he was closing Matise's case "as I do not believe that I can assist you in securing meaningful employment due to the combination of loss of vision and age," records show.
Mayo and a DES spokesman declined to comment Friday, citing the confidentiality of client cases.
Manuel F. Mejia, assistant director of DES's Division of Employment and Rehabilitation Services, defended Mayo and the agency in a September 10 letter responding to Matise's complaints.
"Dr. Mayo stated it was you that told him, 'nobody will want to hire me because of my age,'" the letter says.
Mejia also wrote that Mayo said he advised Matise "that he had recently placed several clients in jobs that didn't require any skills for $4 to $6 per hour. You stated you would not work for such low wages."
Matise, whose case has since been reopened, calls the official account nonsense, except that he did say he would not work for only a few dollars an hour in a workshop for the blind. He said that's a matter of personal dignity.
"With a little (secretarial) help, I can do anything. I can still run an office building. I can still run a big project. There isn't anything I can't do, but nobody's gonna give me the chance," Matise said.
"I don't want them to get me a job. I just want them to get me the entree. Because I can't just call somebody and talk with them. I've tried this and the moment that they know that you're legally blind, they don't even want to see you.
"But they're in a position where they should be able to talk and get me an entree, and I can get in there and sell myself, because I know my profession and I know my field... but nothing's happening."
[PHOTO: Portrait. CAPTION: Allan Nichols.]
WHY USE THE LONG WHITE CANE?
by Allan Nichols
From the Associate Editor: Allan Nichols is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Wyoming. He recently graduated from the Colorado Center for the Blind, one of the NFB adult rehabilitation centers, where he mastered Braille and the use of the long white cane. He is now a forceful and dedicated proponent of both skills. (See the February, 1991 issue of the Braille Monitor for his article on using Braille as a diabetic.) Recently he has been thinking about cane travel and the importance of coming to terms with the long white cane, and he has made me stop and think about the same subject.
The first cane I was trained to use was made of aluminum and came to my diaphram. It had a crook at the top; its tip got caught in every crack in the sidewalk; and I hated it.
The summer before I left for college, my state agency counselor suggested that I switch to a folding cane so that I wouldn't be so conspicuous. He explained (with faulty logic that even I should have spotted at the time) that a folding cane didn't need to be as long as a straight cane. So I armed myself with a waist-length cane that would fall apart whenever the elastic wore through--generally in the most inconvenient and embarrassing places--and entered college.
Not until I joined the Federation did my cane, like my mind and my spirit, begin to grow. Almost my first act in the exhibit hall at my first national convention was to purchase a fifty- seven-inch straight cane. It was longer than any cane I had ever seen, let alone used, and it took me a few weeks to get used to handling the greater length. But through the years my canes have grown to sixty-three inches. They come to my nose when I am wearing high heels, and I keep several on hand to use with different color combinations and in different situations.
I often observe cane-users around me and wonder why so many continue to cling to canes that are obviously and painfully too short for them. Mr. Nichols has asked himself this same question, and his analysis appears in the article that follows. But I think that there are at least two additional factors to consider:
Despite all our talk about the many ways in which Federationists help one another to improve their cane technique, many of us don't find ourselves in situations in which we can ask really competent cane travelers to show us what good cane technique looks and feels like. People who do not travel independently with confidence usually go to chapter meetings and state and national conventions with others who are willing to give them a hand. So they don't find themselves alone with good travelers where they can talk and work without inconveniencing a sighted guide. Cane travel seminars at state conventions, in which people are encouraged to move around the hotel using longer canes and improved technique, can be very helpful to many members. Good travelers should make a point of offering to work with interested people whenever there is an opportunity. This must be done tactfully, however. It is easy for a short-cane user to be made uncomfortable by implied or direct criticism. The truth is that the quality of one's travel skills, not the quality of one's mind or spirit, is reflected in the length of one's cane and the dexterity with which one uses it.
The other issue that we confront very infrequently is the question of how to manage the increased length of a cane. Personally I think it is better to get used to a longer cane gradually. I don't mean using a long cane occasionally and a short cane the rest of the time. Rather, I recommend that people who do not have the luxury of working with a good cane travel teacher regularly begin with a cane that is two to four inches longer than the one they are used to traveling with. The increase in the amount of information obtained will be immediate and noticeable, and one can learn to manage the slightly greater length more easily than one can an increase of ten inches or a foot. As one's skill and confidence increase, one will instinctively replace each cane with a longer one until the right cane length is achieved. Many cane travel teachers suggest that the cane should come up to the chin. Faster walkers will want somewhat longer canes.
I have heard three complaints leveled at the long cane: it is hard to stow safely in a car; it is hard to keep out of other people's way when it is not in use; and it is hard to use safely and courteously in a crowd. All of these complaints have some validity, but all are solvable.
There are some cars manufactured in the developing world that really are too small for a long straight cane. I rode in several of them last year in the Philippines. In such situations there is no alternative but to use a telescoping cane and collapse it before entering the car. But most cars driven in America, even if they are small, are large enough to admit a long straight cane. The problems evaporate if one remembers to bring the handle in first if one is entering the front seat and the tip in first if one is assigned the back seat. When the handle comes first, push it back over the shoulder nearest the door, and guide the tip in with your hand until it is resting on the floor beside your feet. In this way it will not be crushed when the door is closed. If the back seat of a four-door car is your destination, get in and slide the tip along the side of the front seat until enough of the shaft is lying between the front seat and the front door to allow you to pull the handle through the back door. Hold the cane close to your body and close the door. Getting into the back seat of a two-door car will require a certain amount of trial and error since the size of the door will determine the best way to bring the cane in. But if you have mastered front and back seat entry in a four-door car, you will find yourself in control of the two-door situation.
The biggest trick to conscientious management of a cane at rest is to remember it. Take note of any nearby walls or corners against which the cane can be propped or slid. If not, can it lie safely along a row of chairs? I keep my foot on my cane to insure that it does not decide to migrate while I am doing something else. One should always know where both ends of the cane are and should keep them out of patterns of traffic. If you can't tell whether the cane is stowed safely, ask someone else if it is out of the way.
Traveling safely and considerately has its own tricks and rules. In the wide open spaces of an empty sidewalk, the cane tip can arc freely, making a small angle with the ground. The problem is that a cane held in this position can be dangerous to people in front of the blind traveler if the tip accidentally gets between their legs or under one foot. The more densely crowded an area is, the more nearly vertical the cane should be held. The larger angle formed by the cane and the ground decreases the distance one can sweep, but in a crowd one does not need as much stopping time or distance since one's speed is necessarily slowed. The pencil grip is the best way to hold a cane in a crowd since one has maximum control in this position, and the hand can slide quickly and easily down the shaft of the cane in order to shorten the length being used. As soon as the path opens again, with a flip of the fingers the cane will slide back out to its full length.
There is ample reason for each of us to practice and master these skills. We have all seen people use canes rudely, and one can hardly blame others for wanting to avoid behavior that can anger or injure other people. But the long white cane is a wonderful tool, and everyone who uses a cane at all should be encouraged to try it. Here is Allan Nichols' article about his experience:
Last week I received a telephone call from our chapter president. He told me about a bad accident that had happened to a blind woman who lives across from him in his apartment building. She took a bad fall in an antique store. It is not my intention to embarrass her in this article. However, I do want to point out the way in which this unfortunate accident could have been prevented by the proper use of a long white cane.
I telephoned her in the hospital the day after it happened because I was concerned about her. She told me that she had been in a local antique store, where she asked an employee for directions to a particular item. She said that this employee had given her confusing instructions. Before she knew what had happened, she had walked into a stairwell and had fallen, unable to stop herself. Her injuries included a broken right wrist, two broken fingers on her left hand, and multiple bruises on her neck, head, back, and legs. As bad as things are, she was fortunate that her fall did not paralyze or kill her. A woman in her seventies and almost totally blind, she uses a short support cane when she goes out by herself.
On the surface this is just an unfortunate accident caused by miscommunication between a blind woman and a store employee. However, a closer look at this woman's background sheds light on the possible reason that this accident occurred.
She uses a short white support cane for the limited independent travel she does. According to her friend in the apartment building, her cane is just long enough to check a few inches in front of her. She uses it because it gives her support when she walks. When asked why she does not use a longer one, she has told him, "I know a person who was in an accident because he used one of those long canes." I know that she has not had proper training in the use of the long white cane. In talking with her just the other day, I learned that in the three times she has attended the blind camp offered here in Wyoming, no one ever gave her training in mobility and the use of the long white cane. She has picked up the limited knowledge she has of how to use her short cane on her own.
In the National Federation of the Blind we have the opportunity to share good ideas and travel techniques with each other. When one of us encounters a problem or learns a lesson the hard way, we share the knowledge in an effort to prevent the same thing from happening to someone else. That is one of the reasons why we have the NFB training centers located in Colorado, Louisiana, and Minnesota. I am sure that there are other training programs across the country also effectively teaching good techniques to blind people. The Federation's fifty-one years of progress in sharing information and the good rehabilitation teaching that exists in several locations suggest that we have already worked out many of the problems with travel techniques. The task now is getting this information to the people who really need it.
What am I suggesting? Could this woman have avoided this bad accident? I believe so. First of all, if she had been using a long white cane, she would have had adequate warning before she came to the steps on which she fell. A properly sized cane should sweep two to three steps in front of the user who is walking at a normal pace. I received a good portion of my mobility training at the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB). The travel instructors encouraged each of us to use a cane that came up to between the chin and the tip of the nose when held vertically.
When I first arrived at the CCB in Denver, I was using a short (forty-eight-inch) straight cane and a folding cane, about fifty-two inches long. Neither of these, however, was satisfactory for me to use in walking confidently. The short straight cane did not allow me to walk upright. It also did not give me adequate warning of obstacles in front of me. My folding cane, while a bit longer, was too heavy to allow me to get a good rhythm when I walked. Its length proved inadequate.
On my first day of mobility training, my travel instructor gave me a fifty-seven-inch cane to use. My first reaction to it was that it seemed to be too long for me. However, the more I used it, the more I began to rely on its additional length to warn me of hazards in my path. After a few months of using this length cane, the size did not seem so unwieldy any more. Before I finished training at the Colorado Center, I changed to a sixty- one-inch cane with which I now feel more comfortable. Being about five feet, ten inches tall, I can walk confidently using this length with a good measure of safety. I have also found that, if I project an image of confidence when I walk, people treat me with more respect. If I look lost or bent over, groping with a cane that is too short, strangers I meet often react to me as if I were disoriented and unsure of myself. This view of blind people perpetuates the myth of helplessness that has for too long kept us from achieving first-class status.
Since I have been traveling independently, I have had many instances in which the extra length has saved my bacon. While walking on campus at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, I normally keep a fairly quick pace, especially in familiar areas. I can remember two instances in which I could have had disastrous falls. One day I was walking down a hallway briskly, not paying much attention to where I was going. I was a bit farther to one side of the hall than I normally walked. Suddenly, I felt the end of my cane drop. I had located a stairwell that I did not even know existed. I simply stopped, adjusted my path, and continued to my destination. With this simple warning I avoided bodily injury by only a step or two. A second incident happened in a different building. Again I was traveling quickly to get to an appointment. I assumed that the hallway was clear as I walked down it. Unknown to me, someone had placed a cart with audiovisual equipment in my path, just outside a classroom doorway. I hit the equipment cart with my cane in full stride, but because I had the proper length of cane, I had adequate time to react, and I was able to stop before I cracked into it.
Certainly there is no way for blind people to avoid all accidents, just as there is no way for sighted people to do so. About eleven years ago, when I became the manager of a Randolph- Sheppard cafeteria in Cheyenne, I had an experience that graphically illustrates this point. The day that I received the door keys to my coffee shop for the first time, I felt quite proud of myself as I left for the evening. I walked out of my coffee shop located in the basement of the GSA Post Office complex in downtown Cheyenne and prepared to mount the stairs, ready to go home. I was not paying much attention to what I was doing and definitely not covering the area in front of my feet with my cane. I subsequently plowed my head into the wall next to the stairwell. Seeing stars for the first time in years, I felt the blood trickling down my face. Fortunately, a building maintenance man saw my problem and helped me. In this instance I do not know if my problem was my lack of attention to what I was doing, my short cane, or my lack of skill in using it. Perhaps it was a combination of all three. I do know that I have avoided similar disasters since then by having the proper size cane and acquiring the training to use it correctly.
It seems to me that fear of the unknown is our greatest enemy. Many newly blinded individuals, and some not so newly blinded ones, fear going places by themselves. Either they do not go out at all, or they wait until a sighted family member or friend can accompany them. I believe that it is their fear of being involved in an accident that keeps some blind people confined to their own homes. The use of a long white cane and the knowledge to use one can ameliorate this fear. After sufficient training and getting experience using the cane, a blind person can safely and confidently travel virtually anywhere. The valuable training I received at the Colorado Center for the Blind has proven this to me. I have traveled through the streets of downtown Denver independently with no fear of imperiling myself. I have used Denver's regional bus system to travel from my apartment in the suburb of Littleton to Denver, then to Boulder to walk around the campus of the University of Colorado, before returning home. All of this travel was done using my own wits and my long white cane.
Others may prefer using a guide dog. But whether we use a dog or a cane, we need to be in charge of where we go and what we do.
The cane and the dog are just tools. They can be used properly or misused. For instance, no one would dare imply that we ought to outlaw the use of hammers for constructing buildings. Some people have accidentally hit themselves with a hammer, but this is no reason to get rid of hammers. They are simply tools, and people need to know how to use them properly. The same can be said for the long white cane. It is not simply a device telling others that we are blind and that they either ought to stay out of our way or ought to rush sympathetically to preserve such helpless creatures. The long white cane must be recognized as a device that blind people use as a tool of independence.
I am not ashamed to be seen with my long white cane. I think of it in the way others might regard their eyeglasses. When I travel on an airliner, I view anyone who wants to take my cane away the same way as another person might a flight attendant who tried to confiscate his eyeglasses. Until we blind people feel comfortable and unashamed walking with our canes, we will not achieve the first-class status we so rightly want. Until the sighted world views our canes as normal and a part of our independence, we will continue to have an image problem. With adequate education of blind people in using the long white cane, we can overcome the fear of traveling anywhere we wish. When others see us participating in our communities, not fearing our blindness, we will make headway in overcoming the negative stereotypes that have traditionally plagued us. Let us grab our long white canes and confidently and fearlessly stride out to join the rest of the world.
[PHOTO: Ted Young stands at a microphone. CAPTION: Ted Young.]
THE RIGHT TO REFUSE HELP
by Ted Young
From the Associate Editor: Ted Young is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania. The following article appeared in the Fall, 1991, edition of The Blind Activist, the publication of the NFB of Pennsylvania. It reminds us again how important it is to stand up and be counted. The hearing officer who presided at the arbitration hearing in the case Mr. Young discusses ruled against the blind woman, so with the help of the National Federation of the Blind she is going into court to seek justice. As happens so often, when blindness becomes a factor in a situation, most people check their common sense at the door. Here is what happened:
An arbitration case in which I recently testified gave new meaning to the concept of reasonable accommodation and the right to refuse help. Of course, blind people deal with the issue every day, and I have often heard the matter discussed in various terms. For example, I have heard blind people argue about how polite one is required to be when help is being forced upon rather than offered to him or her.
Early in the morning, when I am not at my best, I have often pondered this question while being asked whether I was waiting for a subway when the subway was the only transportation available four flights of steps below the street. Most times I tried to remember that other blind people might some day need help, an offer of which might depend upon my current politeness, that even at 7:00 in the morning I had a social duty to be courteous; but on certain days it was really an effort. More recently I have faced the all too familiar attempts to get me to ride in those siren-wailing airport carts, and the rather impolite responses to my courteous "No thank you."
Then, in the late 1980s came the question of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To the best of my knowledge, the National Federation of the Blind was the only group that did not immediately fawn over it, but regarded it practically and remembered that even a good thing can be misused. It was the National Federation of the Blind which single-handedly insisted upon and obtained section (d) to Section 501 of the ADA. That section states: "(d) ACCOMMODATIONS AND SERVICES--Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require an individual with a disability to accept an accommodation, aid, service, opportunity, or benefit which such individual chooses not to accept."
There were those who felt that this was an unnecessary clause, inserted by a group of radical blind people who refused to recognize that other blind people need help. However, we stood by our convictions, stating that we would go so far as to oppose the bill unless our section was included. We knew that, although blind people should have help when needed, imposed help can be and is one of the most degrading parts of the discrimination we suffer as a group.
But to return to the arbitration case that triggered this meditation. A woman was invited to a party at an agency for the blind which always provided guides to help blind people move anywhere they chose to go, including entering and exiting the building and going to the bathroom. The agency was doing what it thought best for the blind. It hosted monthly recreational meetings and, in this case, a Christmas party at which it dispensed lunch and presents to the blind guests. As it pointed out in the hearing, it always provided guides for the blind. In fact, the only agency witness at the hearing testified that she had never seen blind people going in and out of the building without assistance. I am convinced that she truly believed a blind person could not go to the bathroom or leave the building independently.
Then came the fateful day of the 1988 Christmas party. A group of blind people were driven to the agency and, according to their testimony, walked in independently. They participated in the evening's events without guides, and, when it came time to leave the building, they left independently. But one of them tripped on the way down the stairs and fell to the sidewalk, causing some internal bruising and nerve damage. She sued the agency, claiming that there should have been a stair railing for her to grab to stop her fall. The agency responded that she should not have been exiting independently since assistance was provided, and a reasonable blind person would have waited for a guide. There were two legal issues in this case: did the absence of a stair railing on a facility to which the public was invited constitute negligence on the part of the agency, and did the blind person contribute to the accident by not behaving like most blind people and waiting for a guide. The second issue became important because, even if it were found that the agency should have had a railing there for blind and sighted persons alike, if the blind person contributed to the accident by acting abnormally and exiting on her own, the agency's negligence would have been reduced or even offset.
What a discouraging morning! What an interesting and depressing case! There are so many issues tied up in this one case that it would take a book to cover them all. Do we as blind people feed the traditional attitudes about blindness when we participate in agency-organized social events for the blind? Isn't it interesting that, despite all of the blind people that have come to that facility over the years, the agency witness had never seen one of us entering or exiting the building independently. Was this because the agency discouraged independence with such force that even blind people who could do so submitted, or was it confirmation of the fact that people are likely to see only what they are prepared to believe. In either case, how sad!
Probably some reading this article wonder whether a blind person should have sued at all. "After all," they might suggest, "we as blind people should graciously accept efforts made to help us rather than biting the hand that feeds us." Others would suggest that if a sighted person could and would sue in our litigious society, the blind person should have equal right to do so. What about the fact that a railing would benefit a sighted person who reached for it when falling? What about the perception that guides are better than canes for blind people?
At the heart of this case is the definition of the term "a reasonable blind person." Whether we like it or not, that definition is inevitably based on the public's perception of what a majority of us, that is, the average blind person, can or will do. If the "reasonable blind person" would not refuse a special accommodation, any accommodation, and another blind person refuses it because it is unnecessary, should the facility with the special accommodation be exempt from legitimate negligence claims? Could such arguments extend to a blind person's walking the streets alone and being involved in an accident clearly caused by another pedestrian, municipal negligence, careless drivers, etc.?
How often we see the well-conceived and debated resolutions and actions of the Federation translated into real world concerns. Any blind person involved in an accident caused by the negligence of another will be affected by the foresight of our movement. How sad it is that many of those who will benefit from our efforts refuse to join us and help guarantee to others some of what they have gained through the National Federation of the Blind. Surely this case and all of the issues it raises demonstrate how far we still have to go to gain full equality in our society.
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."
GET IT FAST--GET IT RIGHT
by Tim Cranmer
From the Associate Editor: Tim Cranmer is the Chairman of the Research and Development Committee of the National Federation of the Blind. He understands and uses the esoterica of the technological revolution. Even more impressive, he can talk sensibly about technology in language that can be understood by people who know little or nothing about his field of expertise. Recently I have begun making use of the NFB's computer bulletin board service. I do not use these services happily or comfortably yet, but I certainly do agree with Mr. Cranmer--NFB NET is filled with convenient, useful information and services. Here is what he has to say:
I enjoy electronic bulletin boards about as much as I enjoy telephone answering machines. Some of my friends hang around on computer bulletin boards, which they call BBSs, several hours a week; some, several hours a day. That's because they enjoy communicating this way. No doubt about it, it is a great hobby, but not mine!
So, why am I writing about it? Because of the very great usefulness of the bulletin board run by the National Federation of the Blind called NFB NET.
The thing that got me started was the discovery that I could get my copy of the Braille Monitor long before it reached anybody on the Monitor mailing list. I got the Braille edition of the November, 1991, issue on the first day of November. At the same time I could have received from NFB NET a print edition or a compressed copy for storing away on a computer disk. To read the Braille version, I used my Braille 'n Speak. To listen to the print edition with a speech synthesizer, I could use either the Braille 'n Speak or my computer, using its screen access program. The Braille copy on paper is expected to arrive from the American Printing House for the Blind (across town from me) in about a month.
Besides getting the Braille Monitor fast, a lot of power derives from using NFB NET. Two examples will make my point. When "Good and Evil," the ABC Network television show, was degrading the public's image of blind men and women, I dialed NFB NET to get the list of names and addresses of the program's sponsors. In a few moments I had a properly spelled, perfectly formatted mailing list of the advertisers with their chief executive officers and titles. This list was used to produce the inside addresses for the letters we were writing, along with the addresses required on each envelope. Furthermore, it was an easy matter to run off extra copies of this list for others who needed it. This process is much more accurate than our usual method of taking names and addresses from a person over the telephone.
Kentucky will be introducing a Braille bill in the next of our Legislature. We want to start with the Model Bill, developed by NFB. Once again, NFB NET served up print and Braille copies of the Model Bill in less than five minutes. As soon as we finished receiving these documents over the phone, we put the receiver on the hook and printed out copies for our print- and Braille- reading members.
Is all this high-tech maneuvering complicated? Not very. You need a modem, which is a device that can couple your Braille 'n Speak or Computer to the telephone line. Then you dial NFB NET by entering its phone number on the keyboard of the BNS or computer. But wait a minute! This is not the time or place for such detail. Besides, this message is addressed to State Presidents:
If you are interested, you can do it yourself, Mr. or Madam President. Otherwise, talk to the members of your affiliate to find a volunteer to serve as your NFB NET connection. Every NFB affiliate has members who know how to sign up and download information from bulletin boards. Enlist their services, and tell them to check in by dialing (410) 752-5011.
NFB NET provides many other services. There are many helpful files packed with information you can use--electronic mail with other members and other bulletin boards is one of the more popular features. I might as well admit it! NFB NET can be fun, and if you are not careful, it could become your hobby. As for me, it's the power of this great new Federation facility that will keep me checking in. That's just what I'm going to do right now to send this article to Dr. Jernigan. He just might want to put it in the Monitor. If he does, I'll read it when I get my Monitor from NFB NET.
Note: I still hate telephone answering machines.
[PHOTO: Adrienne Asch stands speaking at podium microphone. CAPTION: Adrienne Asch.]
USING READERS ON THE JOB
by Adrienne Asch
From the Associate Editor: Adrienne Asch is a bioethicist who is completing her Ph.D. She lives in New York City and is an active member of the Human Services Division of the National Federation of the Blind. This article is reprinted from the Spring-Summer, 1991, issue of the newsletter of the Human Services Division of the National Federation of the Blind. For twenty years Ms. Asch has supervised readers in complex and demanding professional projects and coordinated their work with her own efficient use of technology. Her expertise is carefully and intelligently come by. Here is what she has to say:
You may already have developed techniques for effectively recruiting, training, and working with readers. If, however, you haven't been happy with your work with readers, or if you haven't used them in a job setting, perhaps some of the ideas here will be useful to you.
I've worked with readers in several different kinds of jobs and have developed very satisfying and productive working relationships with many of them. Actually, the people I hire as readers do quite a number of tasks, i.e., reading, of course, but also organizing and sorting mail, filing, proofreading, and myriad other tasks. When I advertise, I make clear that the largest part of the job is recording of professional material but that it also includes miscellaneous administrative and clerical tasks. I specify that the person must be versatile and reliable. He or she must also be able to follow directions exactly and to work either independently or under close supervision. I also specify the number of hours I want and the rate of pay, which at the moment is seven dollars an hour--comparable with other part- time jobs for college students in the New York area.
Whether or not an employer pays part or all of my reader costs, I insist that I must select, train, and supervise the reader. For any potential reader I conduct a short telephone interview and a two-hour in-person interview, during which I take the reader through a good sample of what he or she would be doing. I get an idea of how carefully someone reads text, footnotes, tables, and so forth; whether the person can quickly find the third paragraph on a page, the fourth chapter in a book, the bibliographic information needed for citing an article, or a letter dated July 9, 1988, in a case file containing several dozen documents. Although I believe it is my job to know what I'm looking for in a book or case file, I must work with someone who can follow clear instructions. If my reader is likely to need to interact with my superiors, colleagues, and support staff, I make sure that those others get some opportunity to meet with candidates during the interviewing process. (If, for example, readers are going to proofread what an office secretary has typed from my drafts, it is important that the reader and secretary have an amicable and professional relationship.)
Getting the Job Done
Depending on what you will have your readers do, you may want to prepare some training materials for them about how you want things read, filed, and the like. As soon as I select a reader, I give them something I've prepared about my filing system and about how I want things read to me or, more often, to the tape recorder. Some portion of reading time includes interaction between the reader and me about what needs to be done and in what order. If I have a desk piled high with mail, which is common, usually our first task is sorting what needs to be attended to quickly, what can wait, and what is junk and is going to be thrown out summarily. Anything I'm not going to attend to immediately or anything that I think I'll need to find myself, I try to label in Braille. Actually, the mail is the main thing that a reader and I do together. After I give directions, most filing, photocopying, article-reading, and proofreading can be done by the reader without my presence. I prefer to be flexible in the way I work and do not like having a reader schedule unduly control the rest of my work life. By setting things up so that readers can do a lot of work on their own, I remain available to colleagues, unexpected phone calls, or meetings. I can also accommodate my own rhythms of completing important writing or reading I'm doing instead of stopping because a reader has arrived.
Why I Use the Tape Recorder
Retaining such flexibility requires that I be organized about what I want accomplished by a given time, hiring people who can work well on their own, and that readers put a lot of material on tape for me to deal with later. I have found this arrangement by far the most suitable and convenient for me. Whenever I think there is any chance I will need to keep something I'm reading (whether it's an article, a long memo, a complicated letter, or material about a patient or student written by another professional), I have the reader tape it. I do this for many reasons. First of all, it means that I don't waste the reader's time in taking notes as I'm first hearing the material. The reader can use all the time in recording, and I can then read at my convenience, speeding up, going back, taking notes as I go. Also, I have discovered that on the first reading, however carefully I take notes, there are things I miss. Two months or years later I may realize that there was something important in a document that I didn't originally note down. If the complete document is on tape, I don't have to waste any more reader time in finding and reading it again.
Another virtue of having things taped is that the reader is not then skimming a document, trying to decide what is important. Eventually you and your reader will know what, if anything, can be skipped, but be very careful about skipping things or letting a reader decide what can be omitted. Sometimes a file full of letters from the same person will suddenly show a new address or phone number that you discover you need. If all these things are on tape, you can decide what to skip on first reading yourself, and if you later realize you need something, you can go back to find it.
Obviously, when a tape is likely to contain a great deal of material, I make a Braille list of what is on each tape and organize the tapes in a way that makes it easy for me to find the particular tape and section I need. I use the RFB method of tone- indexing: once for each page and twice for each new document, section, or chapter.
The Reading Relationship
Good readers are indispensable, but good reading relationships, like any other relationships, take work. I think it's very good for readers to understand that, while you are in charge, they are doing a valuable and responsible job in which they should take pride. Working on their own means that they can organize their work to take breaks, to change tasks, or to decide the order of tasks, as long as things are completed on the schedule you specify. Although I work with three or four readers every week, I try to organize work so that particular readers have particular tasks. For example, one reader, who is good at it and likes doing it, goes through bills, organizes my tax records to take to my accountant, and so forth. Another may read all the material on a given subject or about a given case. Yet a third might do all the work to assist me to get a particular course syllabus in shape, make all the revisions to my resume, or work on all the revisions and multiple drafts of an article I'm preparing. This gives the reader a sense of involvement in a particular project by seeing how the work in one session affects what happens next.
Even readers who do a lot of work on their own deserve to know that what they do is valued and that their doing it well is appreciated. They also need to know that their honest mistakes can be tolerated. It is all too easy for a new reader to record on the wrong speed, to forget to indicate page numbers, or even to change tracks or tapes incorrectly. You don't need to tolerate carelessness, but sometimes even the most careful people make errors.
Having the reader work independently preserves my flexibility and my separateness as a professional. The reader can be recording while I converse with colleagues, take a coffee break, make a phone call, write a letter, or do an errand. This set-up also helps make it clear to everyone with whom I work that my reader and I are not inseparable, and that I'm the one in charge. If I must bring a reader with me to review records that cannot be taken out of a particular setting, I make it clear to the people at that setting that they must deal with and speak to me and not to my reader and that my reader is not an intermediary. I try not to take a reader into such a situation until we have established the kind of relationship in which it's understood between us how to deal with such annoying occurrences.
I've worked with more than a hundred readers over the past twenty years. Some have worked with me for twenty to thirty hours a week for months or years. Each time I have to say good-by to someone I've enjoyed, who has gotten to know my work, my personality, and quirks, and who can take just the right amount of initiative to remind me that I haven't answered a letter or decided what to do about some piece of mail, I wonder how I'll ever train someone else to do as well. Sometimes a departing reader helps train his or her successor, which is often quite valuable. But I have discovered that being clear about what I want means that I usually can get new readers who will work well and whom I will enjoy. They will be different, of course, and we will develop our own set of jokes and shorthand. One of the things that gratify me is that no matter how much they and I understand that they enable me to do my work, they have always seen me as the person doing the work; they bring their intelligence, personality, and sense of commitment to the job; often they have ideas and suggestions that improve the way in which I organize something or express something, but they never see me as dependent upon them in a way that inspires condescension. They know they help me get things done, but they often tell me that I help them by showing them how to organize time to accomplish several projects and by exposing them to ideas and fields they may not have known before. They also learn a lot about the ins and outs of managing as a blind person, and I've been delighted to discover that several of them have gone about debunking the nonsensical beliefs of their friends and acquaintances about blindness. Readers can be allies in changing negative attitudes about blindness, and that is a pleasurable by-product of working with them.
[PHOTO: Portrait. CAPTION: David Andrews.]
STAMPING OUT FALSE ASSUMPTIONS
From the Associate Editor: Everyone has watched what happens when a mother holds a blanket up between her face and that of her infant: the baby immediately assumes that she has vanished and been replaced by a wall of colored cloth. When the mother pops out again, the infant's rising tide of fear is suddenly replaced by recognition, and the child breaks into delighted laughter.
The toddler assumes, until hard experience teaches a little caution, that the father will always be there to catch him in running, jumping, and climbing. Parents try to do so, of course, but children have to learn that there are limits to any adult's capacity to be where he or she is needed at every moment.
Older children continue to learn hard lessons about making false assumptions. The five-year-old who assumes that, because he can't see Mom, she won't hear him lift the lid of the cookie jar will come to regret his failure to consider all the cues to his activities. The teen-age girl who assumes that her parents can't possibly understand her problems, the boy who presumes without checking that the car is bound to be available for his big date, and the college student who is certain that the professor couldn't possibly expect people to remember the names and dates of all the Popes will all suffer varying degrees of disappointment and regret.
It is fairly easy, if not painless, to learn the dangers of inappropriate assumptions when the consequences of your mistakes fall on yourself. At least the experience provides motivation to correct the error the next time. But what happens when the repercussions of one's wrong assumptions damage other people? Since the consequences don't affect the person making the error, he or she has little motive for changing the problem behavior. In fact, the person may never even notice the mistake unless someone else calls attention to it.
Blind people are the inadvertent victims of many assumptions. At one level, the entire "Good and Evil" fiasco occurred because a lot of people at ABC Television made a number of incorrect assumptions (See the December, 1991, issue of the Braille Monitor): Blind people are more or less incompetent. They are cheerful even when they are behaving embarrassingly and inappropriately. Blind viewers of the program, if there are any, probably won't take offense, and even if they do, they won't be able to mobilize themselves for an effective protest.
But the National Federation of the Blind is abroad in the land. We watch television, listen to and participate in public debate, and read the professional journals associated with our occupations and avocations. And increasingly we are speaking up when ill-informed people make unwarranted assumptions about blindness and blind people. ABC Television has learned this truth, and members of Congress and state legislatures around the country are learning it too. Now it is time for the people in the computer industry to be exposed to the same lesson. This is an essential exercise if blind people are ever to be free of inappropriate assumptions on the part of those who know little about blindness and understand less about the capacities of blind people.
The damage such people do is almost never intentional, but it is nonetheless destructive. The temptation is to excuse the mistake because it was inadvertent, but we must resist this impulse in favor of education and insistence upon justice. Unfortunately life very often demands that one choose between being a door mat and a burr under the saddle.
David Andrews, Director of the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind at the National Center for the Blind, reads lots of computer magazines. In May of 1991 he read a column in PC/Computing that raised his hackles. Here are the reader's letter and the columnist's response:
I ordered an Intel Inboard 386 from mail-order dealer Arlington Computer Products, in Arlington, Illinois, but when the board arrived it was missing a cable. When I called Arlington Computer, the man who took the call said only, "You got the product unopened, the way we received it from the manufacturer," and promptly hung up.
I contacted Intel and, after reciting the serial number on the Inboard, was told that a sight-impaired person had packed the product. Intel offered to send me the missing cable. After several weeks with no sign of the cable, I returned the Inboard to Arlington Computer. Arlington took six weeks to credit my account and withheld a 15-percent restocking fee plus $15 for shipping costs--even though the board was sent via UPS ground. Arlington shipped an incomplete product. It owes me a full refund.
--James R. Gorson
That was the letter written by a disgruntled customer to PC/Computing's trouble shooter. After the magazine staff looked into the incident, this is the explanation of the problem that appeared in the publication's pages for everyone in the computer field to read:
According to Arlington Computer Products customer service manager Ronnie Callaghan, charging you a restocking fee "was a mistake." You were also overcharged for shipping fees. After hearing from us, the company agreed to credit your card for the full amount minus the actual shipping cost of $7.50. Callaghan also told us that Arlington Computer received and sold nearly 100 boards from Intel that were missing cables. The customer service representative you spoke to should have referred you to Intel's toll-free number (800-538-3373) for the missing cable.
There you have PC/Computing's resolution of the issue. An error was made in refunding shipping charges, but it was rectified when PC/Computing looked into the problem. Everyone was silent about the explanation of how the cable went missing. Apparently it made perfect sense that a blind employee would assemble the product incorrectly. No one bothered to check that part of the problem. Blind employees are unreliable; that assumption was a given. But it is not a given, and David Andrews felt impelled to look into the question. Here is the correspondence as it reached PC/Computing:
August 9, 1991
Foster City, California
Below is the text of a letter that I sent to Andrew S. Grove, President of Intel Corporation. As you can see, it deals with a piece that appeared in PC/C Advocate for May, 1991. I hope that you will print all of this letter because the seemingly innocent comment in the column which blamed an Intel mistake on a blind employee has done much to damage the chances of many blind persons' getting competitive employment in the future. The only way to start undoing the damage that the column did is for you to publish accurate information about blind persons and our capabilities.
Dear Mr. Grove:
I am writing you concerning a piece that was printed in the magazine PC/Computing for May, 1991. It was in the section entitled PC/C Advocate. This is a column which attempts to help computer users resolve their problems with companies such as yours.
My concern is with a letter written by James R. Gorson of Arlington, Virginia. Mr. Gorson reported that he purchased an Intel Inboard 386 from Arlington Computer Products, a mail-order firm located in Arlington, Illinois. Mr. Gorson in his letter said that the Inboard 386 was missing a cable. When he did not get satisfaction on replacing the cable from Arlington Computer, he called Intel. Mr. Gorson reports that, when he called, after asking for the serial number, your customer service representative said that "a sight-impaired person had packed the product." As a "sight-impaired person" myself, I am outraged by this statement. (By the way, many of us prefer the word blind to sight-impaired, which we consider to be a fudge word. Blind is what we are, and we have no need to excuse the characteristic with a euphemism--in fact, we are proud of who we are.)
The statement by your customer service representative is outrageous for a number of reasons. It is unlikely that he or she would have said that the product was packed by a woman, a black person, or a Hispanic, so why is it any more acceptable to say that it was packed by a blind person? Intel considers it to be acceptable to say such a thing because you obviously have diminished expectations for your blind employees.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment and under-employment rate for blind persons is over seventy percent. Any of the other groups just mentioned would be up in arms with such an unemployment rate; however, it is considered to be normal for the blind. This is true in part because of the diminished expectations that society holds for us and that Intel would appear to share. These are destructive for two reasons: the first and most obvious is that they are held by society in general and guarantee that blind persons will find it difficult ever to get the chance to succeed. Second, they are destructive because, as members of this group, some blind people come to accept this scaled-back assessment of their abilities, so they do not push themselves to succeed since they believe they can't.
The National Federation of the Blind is a 50,000-member, nationwide self-help and advocacy organization of blind persons. We are working to improve the lives of all blind Americans. You should contact the NFB to obtain up-to-date information on blindness, blind people, and our capabilities. Contact Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, Executive Director, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, MD 21230 (410) 659-9314. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor, the NFB also runs a nationwide job placement and public education service called Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB). You can contact Miss Lorraine Rovig, Director, Job Opportunities for the Blind, at the same address, or call her at 1-800-638-7518.
At the end of his letter Mr. Gorson reports that Arlington Computer said that it received some one hundred improperly packed Inboard 386 boards from Intel. If this is the case, it would indicate that your blind employee is either poorly trained, improperly supervised, or both. Either way, it looks to me as if the blame lies with Intel. For you to blame the blind employee's blindness is unforgivable.
While writing this letter an even worse possibility has occurred to me. It is conceivable that Intel in fact does not have any blind employees at all and that you or your customer service representative are blaming the mishap on us because you think you can get away with it. If this is the case, I hope that the National Federation of the Blind will consider bringing a class action suit against you on behalf of all blind persons for slandering us. Because the statement by your customer service representative was published and widely read, you have perpetuated the myth that blind persons are less able than our sighted counterparts and guaranteed that many more of us will never be given the opportunity to compete in the work place on terms of equality.
I am sending a copy of this letter to PC/Computing magazine. I hope that they publish it in their Letters to the Editor section. This is the best way to undo some of the damage that has already been done. It would also help for Intel actively to recruit and promote blind persons. However, if you continue to hold diminished expectations for your blind employees, you will guarantee that they will not succeed and will be nothing more than tokens. While this may make you feel good, because you have helped some poor unfortunate sightless persons, it will in the long run not do Intel, your customers, or the blind employees any good. Once again I urge you to contact the NFB and Job Opportunities for the Blind to obtain current information on the capabilities of blind persons so that you can change your ideas about us.
cc: PC/Computing Magazine
Dr. Kenneth Jernigan
Miss Lorraine Rovig
P. S. Once again, I hope you will publish the text of this letter in your Letters to the Editor section. It is difficult for most people to realize that blind persons, given proper training and opportunity, can compete on terms of equality with our sighted counterparts. To do this, though, we must begin to overcome society's fear of blindness and its outdated notions of our capabilities. You can help us do this!
Should you need to reach me, my daytime phone number is (410) 659-9314.
There you have Mr. Andrews' letter, and considering the damage done to the reputation of every blind person who works in the computer industry, it was courteous and restrained in the extreme. What follows is the response he received from Intel. No one was at fault. The customer drew an incorrect conclusion from what he was told. Apologies have been sent to both the outraged customer and the magazine. But Mr. Andrews was inappropriately angry because no insult was intended. But thanks to David Andrews everyone involved was pulled up short from his unconsidered assumptions. With luck none of them will readily make the same error again. That is all that could reasonably be hoped for, but it is enough. Here is the letter that Craig R. Barrett, Executive Vice President for Intel Corporation, wrote to David Andrews:
September 10, 1991
Dear Mr. Andrews:
Thank you for your letter about Intel's employment of blind people. I apologize that we have been unable to respond more quickly due to the vacations of several people knowledgeable about the issues cited in your letter.
I investigated the story reported in PC/Computing and believe there was a regrettable misunderstanding between Mr. Gorson and our customer service representative. As best we can reconstruct, this is what happened. Our technician stated that we have some of our product packaged by subcontract companies, such as TVW. The customer then asked what is TVW and was told that it is the Tualatin Valley Workshop for Disabled Adults, which the technician said was an organization similar to the Lighthouse for the Blind. From that statement the customer got the impression that he was saying the product was packed by a blind person. Obviously the reference was inaccurate and unfortunate, and apology letters were sent both to Mr. Gorson and to the publication. Although Mr. Gorson was left with this mistaken impression, I assure you that your anger toward Intel's treatment of blind people is misplaced. Being appalled at the insensitivity of the quoted remark, we investigated the incident when the article first appeared; we then initiated a training program to further raise the sensitivity of our customer service staff. It is Intel policy to accept responsibility for any error and to correct it for our customer without blaming the error on an employee.
Although there are no sight-impaired or blind people packing product in the Inboard 386 area, Intel does employ blind people and people with significant visual impairment. Several of our employees have degenerative vision problems, and we have worked out solutions for them to use their talents fully within their Intel assignments. Our cooperative and creative approaches to these problems were recognized in November of 1990 when the Oregon Commission for the Blind recognized Intel as their Employer of the Year. I was interested to learn of the job referral program available through the National Federation of the Blind. We have contacted them in the past for consultation on workplace accommodation problems. I forwarded your referral information about JOB to our Diverse Workforce Specialist, who will add them to her network of sources for our recruiting outreach programs.
We appreciate your contacting us, and I hope that this information will relieve you of your concerns about Intel managers' and employees' attitudes and policies regarding our employment practices.
Craig R. Barrett
Executive Vice President
[PHOTO: Christine Boone stands holding son in aisle during NFB meeting. CAPTION: Chris Boone and son Edward at the 1988 convention of the National Federation of the Blind.]
INDEPENDENCE: TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
by Christine Boone
From the Associate Editor: Christine Boone is an independent young wife and mother who has worked hard for the Federation wherever she has lived since she first found the organized blind movement. She has learned the truth of the poet's statement that "Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage." The most formidable limitations that stifle humanity are chains that bind the spirit, and most of these are forged in the human mind itself.
Independence is a subtle and often misunderstood treasure. People who are losing their sight frequently rail at their loss of independence, by which they mean their inability to do things in the same old way. And if they refuse to master the skills that will enable them to carry out their daily responsibilities using alternative techniques, they are correct, for they will be forever dependent on those around them. We humans don't like change, especially change imposed on us against our wills, so it frequently happens that we focus our dislike on the manifestations of our altered condition: "I wouldn't be caught dead using a cane." "I don't need Braille." And gradually the prison walls rise around us, cutting us off both from what we have been and from what we have the power to become.
But independence is also a slippery thing. Even when we think it is safely and permanently in our grasp, it can ooze away without our having noticed what was happening. The National Federation of the Blind has always expended a good deal of energy breaking down all kinds of prison walls and striking off the chains that bind blind people. Sometimes the job requires that we insist on the right to good rehabilitation training. Sometimes we must fight for legal protections for those demanding equal treatment. And sometimes we are called upon to struggle against the temptation to sit back and let others do things for us. Here is Christine Boone's story of such a struggle:
The first white flakes of winter swept past us on the wind as my children and I hurried along the sidewalk toward home. As we reached the corner, I took a small hand in each of mine, listened carefully above the sound of the wind, and asked my son Edward if he thought it was safe for us to cross. "Yes Mommy, it's cold!"
I admonished, "Look to your left; do you see that car coming?"
"Oh yes, we have to wait, Mommy. I knew that."
"Well if you knew that, why did you say we could go?" I asked as the car sped past on the already-damp street.
"I don't know; I just did," he replied in the matter-of-fact tone of a three-and-a-half-year-old.
I bent down and repeated the old "Stop, look, and listen" routine for what seemed like the hundredth time. Then we crossed the street together, hurried the last quarter block, and stepped gratefully into the snug warmth of our home.
Later, as I baked a batch of Halloween cookies while Edward and Katie took afternoon naps, I pondered the events of the morning. Was there anything so unusual about our walk together? Not really, these walks had become something of a routine since my decision to take a year off from work and stay home with my little ones. It was a good routine at that--one which we all treasured. There was a bouquet of fall leaves on the buffet-- leaves gathered lovingly by the children and carried carefully home, where I arranged them in a basket which was proudly displayed for all to see. Edward and Katie did not wonder at the ability of a blind mother to make a fall decoration or to keep them out of harm's way during a walk along the highways and byways of Albuquerque. Nor should they wonder about such things. For me, as for countless other blind men and women today, the absence of eyesight is an inconvenience at times but nothing more. But it had not always been that way for me.
In 1977 I entered college at the University of Colorado. To say that I was painfully shy would be the understatement of the decade. Julie, my roommate, was also not long on courage, but people seemed to warm to her somehow, while I, in my need to exhibit an independence which I did not feel, tended to push people away without realizing it. At any rate, there we were, both blind but neither choosing to admit it. We shuffled around campus never, of course, carrying canes; yet somehow, by the grace of God and our fellow students who occasionally took pity on us, managing to make it to most of our classes.
As the months passed, we grew more accustomed to the layout of the campus and a little less frightened about venturing forth. Then we began receiving phone calls about an organization of blind people which met every month in Boulder. At first we had no intention of associating with "those blind people." But the woman who called us--Anne was her name--was always so kind, and it never seemed to offend her that we didn't attend her meetings. So after a few months we broke down and said yes.
How well I remember that first meeting! It was run very efficiently by a blind president. The books seemed to be well- kept by a blind treasurer. The minutes were thorough and were quickly read in Braille by a blind secretary. Most impressive of all, however, was what happened after the meeting adjourned. All of those blind people left for their homes; they just left! It was dark outside, and I, caneless, was feeling a bit nervous about walking the three blocks to my sorority house. And here were these blind people just tapping their canes in front of them and heading off down the street or to the bus stop, without concern or hesitation. That night marked the beginning of a richer life for me, a life full of freedom and adventure.
Julie and I both began to use canes. She was already enlightened enough to use Braille regularly and well, and she encouraged me to use it too. I had learned the system in high school but had never really used it in my daily life. Our other Federation friends taught us the finer points of cane travel, and we soon began taking part in national conventions, Washington Seminars, NAC-tracking, and other Federation activities. Before we quite knew what had happened, we were confident, competent blind people, graduating from college. The year was 1981.
In 1982 I moved to Nebraska to take a job with the Nebraska Services for the Visually Impaired, and before long I was teaching cane travel to blind adults in the Orientation Center there. While in Nebraska, I met and married my husband Doug.
Because Doug is also a cane travel instructor and a truly enlightened sighted person, he expected and demanded that I, as a blind person, live what we taught in the Center; and this belief in me, together with my continued work as a travel teacher, brought me to the pinnacle of my own independence. There was really nothing I thought I could not do and nowhere I thought I could not go. It was a wonderful feeling, one I thought I would never lose.
Then, in the winter of 1987, we moved to the wild Pacific coast of Oregon, where Doug had taken a job with the Oregon Commission for the Blind. For the first time in my adult life, I found myself unemployed and living in a small town with no public transportation. True, Lincoln City did have a cab--one little car, driven by one man who routinely left town for a day or two at a time, taking with him my only transit. Furthermore, though the town was only a half mile wide, it was seven miles long, which meant that walking to most stores and other businesses involved trekking two or three miles each way, usually in the rain--an exercise I did not relish.
Well there I was, watching the cold, gray winter change imperceptibly to the cold, gray summer and wondering what to do with myself. I went to the nearest unemployment office (forty miles away) and filled out applications. I sent out resumes, had some interviews, became pregnant, and volunteered two days a week at the local Chamber of Commerce as a tourist information specialist.
After ten months on the coast, we were transferred to Portland, where I immediately lumbered to the nearest bus stop and rode off in a state of exhilaration to visit my obstetrician. In the weeks that followed, I traversed the hills of Portland, both on foot and by bus. Then Edward was born, and I settled into a routine which did not involve much in the way of independent travel. It was very easy for me to rationalize this new behavior. There were no sidewalks in our part of town, and we lived near a busy street. It would be extremely dangerous for me to wheel Edward in his stroller along Garden Home Road with its speeding drivers, steep ditches, and sharp curves. Of course, the bus stop was on our corner, and I did not even need to transfer to reach the grocery store, the mall, or the downtown area beyond. Nevertheless, I generally confined myself to walking the quiet streets of our neighborhood, taking the bus only once to the grocery store, and riding downtown or to the mall only if I had a very pressing reason.
Then it was time for the National Convention in Chicago, and we packed up the baby and set out, ready to see old friends and learn new things. When we arrived, I was unprepared for the feelings of insecurity which overwhelmed me as we stepped through the door of the Hyatt into that throng of Federationists. No, it was not my first convention, far from it! I had participated in conventions for years, teaching cane travel seminars, working crowd control, and helping people to learn their way around the hotels and surrounding areas. Yet this year was different--gone was the confidence which I had once taken for granted, and I slipped almost unconsciously into the pattern I had begun to follow at home. I went everywhere with Doug, not using sighted guide technique, of course, but following him or waiting for him to tell me which way we needed to go. Even more startling was the fact that he was as unaware of the change as I and did nothing to encourage me to strike out on my own. The decrease in my independence had occurred so gradually that neither of us recognized the change. You see, it is true: skills which we do not use, we begin to lose. It becomes all too easy to rationalize this loss of independence and, almost inevitably, of the self- worth that accompanies it without realizing the extent to which in so doing we jeopardize our own self-respect as well as the respect of others. Fortunately for me, my colleagues in the National Federation of the Blind are the best kind of friends anyone could have. They were not about to let me compromise the independence which I had worked so hard to attain.
It was about the third day of the convention, and I was having lunch with Rosemary Lerdahl. Rosemary had been my supervisor when I taught in the Orientation Center, and she is a dear friend and a wonderful person. She began asking me about the things I had done since coming to Chicago. After listening to my answers, she suggested that I take in the Exhibit Hall, the Taste of Chicago, and the shopping when convention wasn't in session. I explained how difficult it was to do all those things with a baby along, and she looked over at Edward, who was intermittently watching the waterfall and smiling at passers-by. She calmly remarked that he might enjoy some of those attractions too, and besides, there was childcare. What could I say? I summoned up all of my nerve and asked quietly, "Rose, do you think I'm incompetent; I mean, have I lost my skills?"
"Well I have noticed that they seem a little rusty, and I think you have lost a little of your self-confidence." Her reply confirmed my worst fears. My independence was gone, and everybody knew it. Federationists are not oblivious; they know when a colleague who once traveled independently and well ceases to do so, but neither are Federationists judgmental or critical. We stand ready to lend help and support in enabling one another to be the best we can. In keeping with this precept, Rosemary did not criticize me or ask how I could have let my independence slip and my confidence erode.
The next morning, when we left our hotel room, Doug walked silently beside me, stopping whenever we came to a turning to let me decide which way we needed to go. Lo and behold, we made it to breakfast quickly and without incident. Afterward I found the Oregon delegation, went to work at the information desk, and at noon went off alone to find lunch for my fellow workers. No, these were not milestones; indeed I have done all of them at conventions since without giving them a second thought. But that day marked the beginning of my return to excellence--the excellence I must maintain if I am to serve as a representative of the National Federation of the Blind. At the end of the day I was exhilarated! I had not lost my independence forever; it had merely taken a back seat for a time, and as a result I had begun to feel unsure of myself. I thank Heaven for that lunch with Rosemary and for her honesty and encouragement.
I returned to Portland and set to work removing the tarnish from my travel skills. Edward and I went to the mall to buy a birthday gift for Doug. We took the bus downtown and met him for lunch. Edward even came along while I taught cane travel to some Federationists in the Portland area. A few months later we moved here to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Doug joined Fred Schroeder's team at the Commission for the Blind, and Edward and I hit the road again. After all, there is much to be done when you move to a new town. Yes, I had a few butterflies the first time we set out for the bus stop, but we traveled around the city easily and without incident as Edward rode comfortably on my back, dosing in our warm New Mexico sunshine.
How fortunate I am to be a part of the National Federation of the Blind. It was through the NFB that I first learned about independence, acquired a long white cane, got my first real job, and met my fantastic husband. When I unwittingly let my skills grow rusty and my confidence seep away, it was the Federation that got me back on track again. Independence is a treasure, a hard-earned reward for a job well done. Whether we know it or not, in everything we do, we teach. So let us all protect this hard-won treasure and pass it on whenever we can.
[PHOTO: Portrait. CAPTION: Christopher Kuczynski.]
PARTIAL VISION, PARTIAL PROGRESS
by Christopher J. Kuczynski
From the Associate Editor: Chris Kuczynski is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania. He was a 1985 NFB scholarship winner, and he is now an attorney with a prestigious Philadelphia law firm. This article is reprinted from the September, 1991, issue of the Blind Activist, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania. Here it is:
Blind people are merely a cross-section of society, which is comprised of people with various interests, talents, and desires. Recognizing this, the National Federation of the Blind has formed several divisions, each of which deals with issues having particular significance for its members, while continuing to deal with the betterment of life for blind people generally. One distinction that we do not make, however, is that between totally blind and partially sighted individuals.
I was not surprised, when I attended my first Federation function, to learn that not all of the organization's members were totally blind. But it took me a while to understand that there are no significant differences between people with no sight and those with some, at least in the way society ultimately treats us.
A Federationist once told me that no matter how much sight I pretended to have, society would treat me as a blind person, and I had better be prepared for that reality. I was not prepared for it, having been raised, as many partials are, in that land between blindness and sight--blind enough to require certain adjustments in daily life, maybe even to obtain certain benefits; but sighted enough that, if I worked really hard at it, people who met me briefly would not even know I was blind.
I don't know what benefit I hoped to derive from this denial of blindness. I suppose it was the same one that some rehabilitation counselors believe will accrue to the partially sighted job applicant whom they advise not to tell an interviewer about blindness. "Once you get your foot in the door," the reasoning goes, "you can prove your ability, and your blindness won't matter." I know of no instance in which feigning sight that one did not have has ever benefited a blind person in the work place or anywhere else. Ultimately the blindness will be discovered by those from whom it is being hidden. The person who is bluffing sight will either have to learn alternative techniques to increase efficiency on the job and in other aspects of life or perform at a lower level of competency. In either case, society will recognize the person as blind--not partially sighted or visually impaired.
If the problems of the totally blind and partially sighted are essentially the same (namely, the desire to be treated as equals in a largely sighted society and the need for proper training and good attitudes that will help to make this equality a reality), then the Federation is correct in making no distinction between its members on the basis of how much sight they possess. It also follows logically that all Federationists should combat discrimination in the same way: by recognizing themselves as blind, by identifying themselves to the public as blind, by getting whatever training is necessary to function effectively in society, and by doing those things which will lead to society's acceptance of them as blind people, having rights no different from those of the sighted.
Old habits die hard. It has taken me a long time to destroy the barriers that society had constructed between partially sighted, visually impaired, or legally blind people on the one hand, and totally blind people on the other. Most other partials share experiences similar to my own. Let me illustrate this fact by considering the widespread reluctance to carry a cane.
A woman I know is familiar with our movement and considers herself blind. In response to my question about why she did not carry a cane, she replied that she knew she was blind and was not ashamed of it. However, she knew that other people had negative images about blindness. Seeing a cane, those who met her for the first time would not want to get to know her as a person. They would immediately judge her as inferior. She felt that the subject of blindness could be brought up later.
I then asked her which of two ways of fighting discrimination she thought would lead to a better result: 1) Trying to gain acceptance into society as someone who appears sighted in spite of blindness or 2) Demonstrating, in all that one does, that there is nothing wrong with the characteristic of blindness, that it is possible to possess it and to work alongside sighted people, and that blind people are entitled to all the rights and privileges of citizenship, regardless of whether they appear to be like everybody else. I think she agreed with me in principle that the second alternative really was better, but in her personal life, the added ease of travel was simply not worth the discrimination that went along with the white cane.
It would be an oversimplification to say that this woman was ashamed of her blindness. I think she craved the same things that everyone (blind or sighted) does: the companionship and approval of others and the right to be given an opportunity to participate fully in society. She simply viewed the public as uneducable and maybe as even less receptive to the rights of the blind than it actually is. I pointed out that she was deceiving herself and that she derived little if any benefit from trying to hide her blindness in exchange for possibly diminished freedom to travel. Further, she was impeding the interests of the blind as a class, because her reluctance to use alternative techniques sent a message that blindness was regarded by blind people as being as much of a stigma as society considers it to be.
My own early thoughts about the white cane were that I did not want and did not need to use one. After all, I was a partially sighted person--legally blind, perhaps, but with enough travel vision to move about without the assistance and the corresponding stigma of a white cane. One of the first things I learned about the Federation was that many of its members who had better sight than I used white canes. For them (and now for me) it was both a tool and a symbol of independence and a source of pride.
My acceptance of the cane did not occur immediately after having attended my first NFB convention. It actually began before the convention but was not complete until years later. In some way I knew I was blind as early as age five or six. I learned at that time that I really needed Braille to become literate. At age eight I began taking mobility and orientation lessons. I knew that traveling for me would be different from traveling for other people, since "I didn't see too well," but I knew just as surely that I did not need a cane. I didn't carry one at all until my last year in high school when someone suggested it would be helpful for me to learn to use it "just so that, if I ever needed to ask for help, people would know that I didn't see too well."
I learned to use the cane, but not in the same way or for the same reasons that totally blind people did. I didn't believe that the cane might really help me to be a more effective traveler, but at least some of the stigma was being stripped away. Nevertheless, I made sure that I carried a folding cane, used it only in unfamiliar places, and promptly placed it in my back pack or the closest hiding place when I was in familiar areas. In fact, during the rest of my senior year in high school, I did not use the cane at all since, I reasoned, I knew the route to school and the school building very well.
Like many other reluctant cane users, I thought that a change of scenery (an environment in which no one had known me without the cane) would cause me to start using it on a permanent basis. However, when I got to college, I used it just long enough to find out where all my classes were.
My law school experience was similar, though by my third year I was taking the cane (thank God for the NFB telescoping variety) to job interviews. At this point, I really had no choice, since I had realized that there was no way for me to travel effectively in unfamiliar surroundings without a cane. My travel during high school and most of college was narrowly circumscribed to include only those places with which I was familiar and those to which sighted companions would take me.
Even when I started my job, I did not use the cane regularly. Finally and all of a sudden, I just decided to start using it and to forget making distinctions between those times when I needed it and those when I did not. The truth is that I really need the cane all the time if I want to travel as comfortably as sighted people. The decision was not as difficult as I had imagined. For a few days people who knew me asked whether there had been some change in my vision. After only a few days the questioning stopped, and I have not discerned any difference in the way people with whom I have worked or friends of mine now treat me.
From the process of learning to accept the white cane as a method of effective travel (and the corresponding process of accepting my own blindness), I learned at least three important things. First and most obvious, I am simply a better traveler with a cane than without one, and I marvel at the fact that the public's acceptance of me once meant so much that I was willing to risk my safety by traveling without it.
Second, people really did treat me as a blind person whether I used the cane or not. I do not think I suffered any less discrimination when I was a more poorly functioning person pretending to be sighted than when I became a competently traveling person who knew he was blind. I lost none of my friends once I began using a cane and would not attribute my friendship with them to the fact that they knew me first as a person who did not use one. The fact that I appeared blind by carrying a cane did not deter my present employer from hiring me, though the inability to get to the interview independently probably would have.
Finally, I learned that I could do far more to advance the interests of blind people generally as a competent, cane-carrying traveler than I could do as a person pretending to be sighted. Whether I believed it or not, refusing to carry a cane when I really needed one was a way of saying that it was not quite respectable to be blind, that the only way for a blind person to fit into society was as a sighted person, and that my interests and those of the totally blind were different. After all, they could never quite fit in, being unable to hide their blindness completely.
I don't know whether relating my personal experiences and our discussions persuaded my friend to begin to use a cane. I find, however, that most blind people who look closely at their travel skills discover that the white cane can be useful to them. Their reluctance to use it is motivated by their own learned misconceptions about blindness, underlying all of which is the belief that respectability varies in direct relation to vision.
As long as false distinctions between the totally blind and the partially sighted exist, progress for the blind will be a partial progress--never achieving its full force and effect. But such distinctions are vanishing, in large part due to the Federation's philosophy about blindness, and as a result the blind--all of us--are today making progress more quickly than we ever have.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Jody Ianuzzi is pictured here wearing her gi (judo uniform) and black belt.]
BLACK BELT--WHITE CANE
by Jody W. Ianuzzi
From the Associate Editor: Jody Ianuzzi lives in Keene, New Hampshire, with her husband and two children. Though she has known something about the Federation for some time, she attended her first actual NFB gathering this past October when she came to the New Hampshire affiliate's annual convention. She is now working hard to organize a chapter in Keene and reports that the first meeting of the Monadnock chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New Hampshire will be held on Sunday, January 12. Jody is energetic and capable, and she has become an enthusiastic Federationist. She brings all these traits to everything she does, including judo--another discipline to which she is deeply committed. She addressed the New Hampshire convention about her experience with judo. Here in large part is what she had to say:
A blind woman is traveling alone down a dark, deserted street. There are some people who might consider her helpless and vulnerable. I would like to change that image. That blind woman just might be me on my way to teach my judo class.
As we all know, the challenges of blindness can be overcome by learning alternative techniques, but some situations can be a bit more challenging than others. As a child in public school, I remember the schoolyard bully, who tested my vision by punching me in the face. My gym teacher gave me a permanent waiver from class after years of sitting on the sidelines while the rest of the class played a variety of ball games.
Eventually I found a solution to these challenges as well. Judo became my ultimate alternative technique. When I first heard about judo classes, I was hesitant. Based on my past experience, I didn't think the judo instructor would consider me as a student. Happily, I was wrong! The instructor didn't care that I couldn't see. He was more interested in what I could do, and I could do judo. I sincerely mean it when I say that my life hasn't been the same since that day.
It is now twenty years later. Life has come full circle. I am the instructor, and I am recruiting blind and sighted members to my judo club. I want to give to my students what judo has given to me.
Unlike some other martial arts, judo needs no adaptation for blind players, who have been active in judo for many years, practicing with sighted players on an equal basis. For blind children judo can provide an opportunity to be just one of the kids, both at practice and during club activities. This is as it should be, because it benefits both the blind and sighted players and embodies the philosophy of judo as well.
Judo is a full contact form of self-defense that includes throwing techniques, pins, chokes, and joint-locks. A basic principle of judo is that a small person can throw a larger by using that person's motion to complete the throw. In this way, if a person pushes you, you pull him or her into a throw.
The physical benefits of judo practice include self-defense training, weight control, and physical fitness. With regular practice there is a noticeable improvement in balance, coordination, and orientation. Judo can be enjoyed by men and women of all ages from small children to adults. It is a great way to get back into shape and stay there while having a lot of fun, too. One enjoyable aspect of judo is that it challenges the mind as well as the body. Other forms of exercise can be boring, and it is easy to lose interest in them.
My students and I have attended many tournaments and clinics, both large and small, and we have never been excluded or shown any favoritism. I remember one tournament we attended at West Point. One of the club instructors wanted to present my student with the Best Player trophy, based on her blindness. The tournament director's reaction was to say, "It's no big deal that she's blind; I'll give her the Best Player trophy when she comes here and wins." She won a lot more than a trophy that day. On the way home from the tournament she told me that it was the first time in her life she felt like she was just one of the kids. And for the first time I began to realize that I was giving back some of what judo had given to me.
There is a philosophical benefit to judo training. As you challenge yourself, you gain a feeling of accomplishment that carries over to all aspects of life. The knowledge that you can handle a physical conflict makes a verbal conflict much less threatening. You will find that you develop a strength of mind to stand up for what you believe in, but also a strength of mind that will allow you to step back when that is the wise thing to do. You actually become less defensive and more relaxed. In twenty years it has never been necessary for me to use judo for self-defense, but I have used the strength of judo every day in all types of situations.
Part of this strength comes from a feeling that you are in control. You carry this control with you in confident body language, in the way you walk and communicate with people. When you project confidence, you are less likely to be confronted.
The self-confidence that can be gained from judo is very important to children. The blind child who is frustrated by his or her limitations in mainstreamed gym classes or who is segregated in classes for disabled students can feel less capable than classmates. Judo gives the blind child the opportunity to participate in mainstreamed activity on an equal basis with his or her peers. When the other kids are talking about their sports and club activities, the blind child can join in with talk of personal accomplishments. This equality is important to blind children, but it is also very important to their sighted peers as well. The focus is on what you can do, not on what you can't. It becomes less important that you can't play baseball when there is something unique you can be proud of. "I can" is the concept that becomes important.
Self-defense is important to everyone nowadays, but as blind people we are perceived by some as more vulnerable than others. Judo gives a balance to this misconception. All of us should learn to defend ourselves, not just for our own benefit, but as a means to change society's image of blindness.
Self-defense can be as simple as being sure of who is at your door before you open it, or as involved as defending your life. You should avoid shortcuts through less traveled areas and stay in places where there is safety in numbers. Also avoid walking next to buildings since doorways and alleys are places where someone might hide. Stay in the center of the sidewalk so that you can be clear on all sides. When I walk down the street, I try to identify the age, sex, number, and location of the people around me. This is kind of a game, but it is also a way of training yourself to be more aware of everything around you, so you can anticipate a situation before it develops.
Judo classes are usually taught in a club setting, which includes men, women, and children of all ages. Judo is often a family activity. There are judo clubs all over most states. Judo instructors usually teach at no charge. This might seem surprising, but we enjoy judo, and we teach because we love it. Class fees are usually minimal and include club dues, a uniform, and United States Judo Association membership. The United States Judo Association has been very active in encouraging instructors to recruit blind players, and the instructors are already familiar with the benefits of judo to blind players.
As you learn judo, your skills and attitude will develop. The school bully will be less of a threat. You can walk down that deserted street and be a lot less vulnerable than some might think. Those people who attempt to dominate you will not be successful. The unsolicited helper who attempts to take you across the street or the airline employee who attempts to load you into the wheelchair will both be surprised to find that you are in control of the situation. Judo is a way to even the odds and change what it means to be blind. I have made judo my ultimate alternative technique, and I hope you will make it yours as well.
I hope I have sparked an interest in you to learn judo. It can change your life as it has changed mine. If you would like more information or if you would like to locate a judo club near you, contact Larry Lee, Executive Director, United States Judo Association, 19 N. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs, Colorado 80909, (719) 633-7750. He is waiting to hear from you!
[PHOTO: Portrait of Ollie Cantos. CAPTION: Ollie Cantos, President of the National Association of Blind Students of California and Treasurer of the Gardena Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of California.]
OF JUDGES, ATTORNEYS, JURIES, AND THE BLIND
by Olegario D. Cantos, VII
From the Associate Editor: Ollie Cantos, who was a 1991 National Federation of the Blind scholarship winner, is a senior at Loyola Marymount College in Los Angeles. Eventually he hopes to earn a law degree and enter politics. He addressed the annual meeting of the National Association of Blind Lawyers held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, July 2, 1991. The following article is based on his remarks. Here it is:
Every day of our lives as blind people, we are confronted with many challenges. In addition to keeping our own lives in order, we must deal with the prevailing public attitudes about blindness. We as Federationists have seen it in our fight for civil rights and for the right to be trained for and to take part in the competitive labor market. By the very composition of the membership of our organization, we know full well that blind people can be schoolteachers, homemakers, biochemists, biologists, psychologists, horse ranchers, college professors, and (of course, my personal preference) lawyers. Many people do not realize this fact, and they treat us as if we are not capable of being as productive as other members of society. Often we must find creative ways to win the battles we wage from one day to the next.
Last May a new battlefront in my life opened. I was summoned by the Los Angeles County Municipal Court to serve on jury duty in the Citrus Municipal District. Being the eager student of Political Science that I am, I reported to the Assembly Room bright and early on a Tuesday morning--ready to take on the world.
The day began with an orientation conducted by the jury clerk. She emphasized the need for jurors to remain as objective as possible when hearing a case. She also stressed the importance of taking seriously the civic duty with which we were charged, and she explained the procedure that prospective jurors were obligated to follow.
We were asked to call a special number every night to learn from a recorded series of instructions whether or not attendance was required the next day. We had been divided into groups with preassigned numbers. Typically the instructions would say, "Groups 10, 16, 24, and 38 should report to the Assembly Room promptly at 10:00 a.m.; and Groups 3, 5, 19, and 30 should report to the Assembly Room at 2:00 p.m. sharp."
Usually jurors are asked to serve for a period of ten days, but they can be on call for a maximum of only fifteen days, after which they are dismissed. Service credit (that is, credit toward the required ten days of jury service) could only be acquired through actual attendance. But every day that we were on call counted toward the three-week maximum.
Within the building there were eleven courtrooms, often referred to as divisions. Some specialized in civil cases, while others focused on criminal. From time to time the jury clerk called for a panel of twenty-four persons to proceed to any one of the divisions for jury selection.
The time spent in the assembly room was an experience in itself. We were advised to bring much to do, so I did. But spending time in the assembly room was more than simply making sure one had something to do during the long hours of waiting. I met many people from various walks of life. In my conversations with them, we talked about issues of real substance in addition to the usual pleasantries that comprise much of civil conversation. Among these was the philosophy of blindness practiced and taught by members of the National Federation of the Blind. I explained to my fellow prospective jurors that blindness is nothing more or less than a mere characteristic and that we can compete on terms of full equality with the sighted when given the proper training in basic skills and the opportunity to succeed. Some were in agreement with me, while others were subtly in disagreement; but at least our discussion prompted some thinking, and I am optimistic that the philosophy of our Federation did have an effect on the prospective jurors as a whole.
I sat in the assembly room for six days. Then, what I was waiting for finally came to pass. At last, the computer randomly selected my name as one of the twenty-four possible persons to serve on a jury. This was my big break, and I was not ready to allow it to pass without giving it my best shot. At the designated time we were asked to report to Division 3, which specializes in criminal cases. At last the moment arrived when I was to leave the assembly room to take the next step in the jury- selection process.
When our panel arrived in the courtroom, another random selection took place. One by one, the court clerk called eighteen people, twelve of whom would sit in the jury box with the other six sitting on chairs below the jury platform. As she called the names, I kept my fingers crossed. Would I be lucky enough even to be given the chance? Yes, I was. The seat numbers corresponded to the names consecutively called by the clerk. I was called as Name thirteen to sit in seat thirteen. I ignored the superstition of my number. I relaxed and waited for what was to come next.
There was a list of questions written on a chalkboard, which we were all required to answer truthfully. Everyone was sworn in ahead of time to help ensure that we would tell the truth. We gave the following information: name, place of residence, occupation, marital status, and number of children (if any). We were also told to indicate whether or not we knew anyone in the legal profession and whether or not we knew either party in the case. Since we were to answer these questions in the order of our seating, I had twelve opportunities to listen to and remember the information I was expected to provide. By the time my turn came, I already knew what needed to be said.
Then came the critical period when each attorney would question whichever prospective jurors he or she wished. Basing the decision to accept on the answers to these questions, each attorney would decide whether to thank and excuse Juror X or to refrain from making such a request to the court. I watched and I waited, expecting my blindness to be the topic of inquiry.
"Your Honor, may I approach the bench?" the prosecuting attorney asked.
"Permission granted," said the judge. Two minutes of utter silence followed. Apparently, during this time the prosecuting attorney had questioned my suitability for the case at hand.
"Mr. Cantos," the judge said, "it has been brought to the attention of this court that your lack of vision may inhibit your ability to understand the evidence that will be presented." The judge went on to explain that the case involves the location of certain streets and intersections and their relationships. This is a case of "Driving Under the Influence," and knowledge of this physical evidence may prove instrumental in assisting the jury to come to a final decision.
I responded with all the energy I could muster. "Your Honor," I said, "it is the responsibility of any court of law to present evidence in a way that all jurors understand. The attorneys on both sides, therefore, have an obligation to explain in detail the evidence presented, something which must be done whether a juror is blind or sighted. I believe that I will be fully capable of understanding the evidence."
"Thank you," the judge said.
More questions were asked, and those jurors who were excused from seats one through twelve were replaced one by one. The moment that the first juror seat was vacated, the person seated in chair thirteen moved up to take the spot. That was me. Thus, I took my place as Juror 9. Still more questions were asked, but none of them was for me. I waited and waited and waited. Finally, both sides accepted the jury as it stood, and I was now officially on the jury!
With pride, I stood with the other 11 jurors and swore that I would be as objective as possible, that I would not investigate any of the facts without the express written permission of the court, that I would not talk to either side at any time during the trial, and that I would not talk about the trial to anyone.
After three days of testimony the trial came to an end. It was time for the jury to deliberate the case. To keep the proceedings running in the most orderly manner possible, a foreperson had to be chosen, and I was elected unanimously to serve in that position.
During deliberation it was my responsibility to make sure that the discussion remained focussed. To ensure order, I asked everyone to introduce himself or herself and constructed a seating chart similar to the one which the lawyers maintained of the jury during the trial. I chaired the meeting with the intent that all discussion should further the process of coming to a verdict of guilty or not guilty on each of the counts.
At the conclusion of the deliberation, when we had unanimously agreed to our verdict, we walked into the courtroom unified.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a decision?"
"We have, your honor," I said.
"Would the foreperson please state his or her name?"
"Olegario D. Cantos VII, your honor," I replied. I presented our official verdict, which I had signed, to the bailiff, who gave it to the clerk of the court.
The verdict was read and appreciation was expressed for our service on this case. Then we reported back to the assembly room for further instructions. Had I not earned my full service credit by that time, I would once again have occupied myself with personal matters in the Assembly Room. But I had done my duty, and I was officially dismissed from service by the jury clerk.
All too often we, as blind people, are not allowed to serve on juries for the sole reason that we are blind. Though criminal or civil justice is theoretically upheld by the judicial process, social justice is often violated. Based on the prevailing myths and misconceptions about blindness, many of the judges and attorneys who are a part of the system reject blind people as competent jurors. These representatives of the legal system are part of the general public, and it is our job to educate them through our words as well as our actions. Never can we let judges and attorneys render a negative verdict on the blind. We are not guilty of the charge of not comprehending the world around us, simply because we cannot see. We have the evidence to prove it. As blind people, we are breaking new ground every day. Slowly but surely our battles are being won. Every time a blind person enters an occupation or engages in some unusual activity or bears a responsibility (e.g., jury service) which society has not traditionally accepted as suitable for the blind, a precedent is created and more doors of opportunity swing open. On a daily basis we are proving to the world that its verdict rendered upon us is unjust. How? Through the National Federation of the Blind.
In looking back, I can say that service as foreperson of the jury was one of the most fascinating and fulfilling experiences I have ever had. I was actually part of the judicial process. I played a role in the American justice system. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve and to educate a small part of the judicial system.
A READER COMMENTS ON BRAILLE
Maple City, Michigan
October 31, 1991
Dear President Maurer:
The recent articles in the Monitor concerning Braille literacy have caused me to reflect upon the importance of Braille in my own life and may be of interest to others who are considering whether to use it or not.
First of all, I have been totally blind since age two. So luckily, no one tried to decide for me whether I should use limited vision for reading print. My mom read everything she could to me in my first six years of life, but it was never enough. Helping my dad run a busy dairy farm didn't give her a lot of free time to read to me, but I was eager to hear stories, as all kids are, and to learn as much as I could about the world I couldn't see. Reading other people's words (pictures of places and events and feelings) gave me a wonderful feeling of learning and understanding. The most exciting event in my life as a child occurred when I went to a sight-saving class, and my teacher said she would teach me to read and write Braille. Finally I would be able to read all I wanted, and about anything I wanted to know more about.
It was so much fun and so exciting that I never thought of it as school work. By the third grade I had already gone through the Braille reading books our school had for children up to the sixth grade. I borrowed all the books I was interested in from the state library for the blind, and throughout the thirty-five years from then to now, I have been thankful every day that I learned Braille.
Through junior and senior high school and later in college I tried to get every course book I could put into Braille. It usually meant getting lists of books from teachers six months ahead of needing them. But everyone gladly tried their best to do it for me. It was always so much easier to understand and retain more of what I read by reading it myself with my fingers than to have it read to me by readers or by my use of discs or cassettes. Braille also allowed me to participate in reading aloud in class with my sighted classmates and to talk about what I felt with my family and friends without having to isolate myself in a separate room, where listening to recorded material wouldn't disturb others--or, at best, being in the same room and shut off from interactions around me by having to wear earphones to hear recorded material. My roommates in college were always envious of my being able to read in bed late at night without any lights on, which they couldn't do without disturbing others who were trying to sleep.
As I write this letter, I am just turning forty-five years of age. For thirty-eight of that forty-five years I have relied upon the reading and writing of Braille for my happiness and success in school, college, career, and life overall. I read Braille books to my twin girls now, and have since they were one year old, starting with the Twin Vision books. I demonstrate Braille to their schoolmates and explain how it makes it possible to learn.
Getting my present job as a reservationist for the Homestead Resort depended (and, for that matter, still depends) on my being able to Braille pages of room and condo rates and other information, which changes regularly and which I must have at my fingertips to communicate to prospective vacationers when they call our office. I use my Perkins Brailler, and my wife reads what I need while I dash it off at night and have it fresh at hand for the work the following morning. I doubt that I could have convinced my employer of my ability to handle the job efficiently enough to have been hired without the ability to use Braille. This is true even though I have the latest in adaptive computers with speech synthesis and screen-reading programs.
There is nothing that makes a person feel more assured and independent than being able to write and read his or her own material--whether for work, education, or leisure. I urge anyone with children who have little or no eyesight to do all they can to get their youngsters to learn Braille. It is easier at a younger age, I believe, and can make a great difference in school and the rest of a child's life, just as much now as it did for me more than thirty years ago.
[PHOTO: Portrait. CAPTION: Doug Elliot.]
COMING OF AGE NFB STYLE
by Doug Elliot
From the Associate Editor: Doug Elliot is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada. He is also an experienced human services professional with large measures of humor and common sense. This article first appeared in the Spring, 1990, edition of the newsletter of the Human Services Division of the National Federation of the Blind. Here it is:
When I joined the NFB in 1987, I was unaware of a thing called the organized blind movement. I was doing some private practice with blind clients of the Bureau of Services for the Blind of Nevada. I found most of the clients were in need of training and equipment to help them get through the day. Of course, there were those who were either depressed or thought they should be. Sometimes I would take them out for a walk rather than treat them--the treatment would be the walk itself. At this point I was asked to attend a chapter meeting of the NFB. I said I would; however, I said there might be a conflict of interest between my practice and involvement with the organization.
I did attend the chapter meeting, which had been called for the purpose of organizing blind people in Northern Nevada. With some apprehension I allowed myself to be elected first vice president of the chapter.
After the election I started to read banquet addresses and other material written by the leaders of the movement. I heard them make statements about the blind and how we have been mistreated by society and how, through collective action, the blind could break down the barriers of discrimination. At that point I recognized that I had experienced things through the years that caused me to conclude society had difficulty dealing with my blindness. It never occurred to me that this might be a problem facing thousands. I believed that if I were pleasant and humorous, if I could make fun of my blindness, I would be well adjusted. Reading the material presented to me and talking to other NFB members soon convinced me that I was actually experiencing discrimination and that my own perceptions about blindness before I became blind were now interfering with my growth.
I started to test some of my NFB philosophy in my treatment sessions. I found that most of my clients were reluctant to accept the idea that they could lead normal lives as blind people because they had been told they would have to go through depression and other stages of loss first. Some were depressed, but others were not, and the struggle to find depression was too much for me and for them. Because of my association with the Federation, the Bureau of Services for the Blind decided that it no longer needed me. I left my practice and went to the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Chicago. When I returned, I interviewed for two jobs: one as a rehabilitation social worker at a local hospital, the other as clinical director of a phone-in crisis center. When I was interviewed, my approach was different from earlier ones--no humorous quips about blindness. Questions about how I would write, walk, read, and function were answered as honestly as possible. Most important, I took fifty thousand friends to the interviews, and when in doubt of an answer, I asked myself how my friends would respond. I was offered both jobs and for the first time in my career had to make a choice. I still blame the NFB for that dilemma.
I took the job at the rehab hospital, and I am still there. I was recently asked to interview for a job at another local hospital. My approach continued to be confident, and I once again took my NFB friends with me. I was offered the job but turned it down. The pay was better, but the benefits were not as good. I was complimented by people who had known me for some time. They commented that I had changed, grown more confident and stronger. I told them that I now belonged to the NFB, and that was the reason.
After I was offered the job and turned it down, I immediately asked about the possibility of referring other blind social workers to the opening. The supervisor told me she would hire the next person on the list, but I believe she would have no hesitation about interviewing and hiring another blind person if she had another opening.
I know that I could be out of a job tomorrow and have a difficult time finding another, but until that happens, I will try to be a good example of how blind people can get jobs and hold them. I will continue to help other blind people find work. I have come to believe that all blind persons interviewing for jobs in human services or other positions can become more confident when they take the NFB philosophy with them. This doesn't mean carrying a chip on one's shoulder, but being aware of the problems we all face as blind people and overcoming them by using our philosophy. Take your friends to the interview. Those friends are your brothers and sisters in the National Federation of the Blind.
UPDATE ON MEDICAL TRANSCRIPTION AS A CAREER
by Susan M. Turley
From the Associate Editor: One day a couple of years ago the telephone rang on Lorraine Rovig's desk at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore. Miss Rovig is the Director of the Job Opportunities for the Blind Program, so this was not a startling occurrence. But the conversation that followed was unusual nonetheless. The caller introduced herself as Sue Turley. She explained that she was taking a course for her master's degree in education, and she was interested in writing a paper comparing some of the discrimination problems faced by women with those she had heard about from the blind medical transcriptionists with whom she worked in her job as Director of Curriculum Development for the Health Professions Institute. Both groups seemed to her to face low wages, lack of advancement, and presumption of incompetence out of all proportion to their numbers. Could we provide her with information about blindness and the employment problems that plagued blind people? Of course we could, and from that moment there began a mutually helpful relationship between the Health Professions Institute and the National Federation of the Blind.
Because of Sue Turley's new knowledge of and interest in the difficulties facing blind people training to become medical transcriptionists, she began working to insure that materials produced by the Health Professions Institute were readily accessible to blind transcriptionists. She worked with Recordings for the Blind to see that the most up-to-date editions of the texts used by her organization were available to borrowers. She also offered her expertise to any blind job-seeker contemplating medical transcription as a career. Mrs. Turley is honest and candid about what it takes to do the job well. She is convinced that blind people can and do make good transcriptionists but that they must have good skills to do so. As a Certified Medical Transcriptionist, a registered nurse, and now the holder of a master's degree in education, she knows whereof she speaks. In addition, she respects blind people and is not willing to let people lower the standards of her profession because a particular trainee is blind. Here is the article that Sue Turley submitted to the Braille Monitor about the field of medical transcription and the opportunities it offers to blind people:
Medical transcriptionists are members of the health care team, which includes physicians, nurses, therapists, and other health care support staff. While not as visible to the general public as some members of the team, medical transcriptionists play an important role in providing quality care by transcribing reports on patients. Transcribing involves typing a medical report from a physician's dictation and, using medical terminology, knowledge of English grammar, and editing skills, producing a report that is accurate and complete.
Medical transcriptionists transcribe office chart notes; history and physical examinations; consultations; letters; memos; hospital admission notes; emergency department notes; operative reports; discharge summaries; pathology reports; and many specialty laboratory, diagnostic, and radiology reports.
Medical transcriptionists work in a variety of settings, including medical clinics, doctors' offices, hospitals, private transcription businesses, and home offices. There is a critical shortage of qualified medical transcriptionists nationwide, and they are always in great demand. In general salaries range from $15,000 per year for those working in doctors' offices or hospitals to $25,000 and above to those with superior typing skills or those who manage their own medical transcription businesses.
Medical transcription is a field which has traditionally been open to blind individuals. Adequate training has always presented a problem, however. Currently, the need for comprehensive, in-depth training is critical due to the explosion of medical knowledge and computer technology, which must be mastered to function successfully on the job.
Prospective trainees need to have above-average skills in spelling, grammar, typing, word processing, and the use of a speech board, as well as an interest in medicine. Personal qualities include the ability to work independently on the job and a commitment to excellence as a member of the health care team.
Training begins with courses in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, word processing, human diseases, pharmacology, and laboratory tests. Also a most important part of the training process is the transcription of training tapes which contain authentic physician dictation. The national professional membership organization for medical transcriptionists, the American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT), recommends the use of authentic physician dictation as well as study in the course areas listed above.
Health Professions Institute of Modesto, California, is a nationally known developer and publisher of medical transcription training and medical reference materials. We are dedicated to making our training materials and reference books accessible to visually impaired medical transcriptionists (VIMTs) and trainees. For individuals who wish to enter the field of medical transcription, Health Professions Institute has developed an independent study program which can be completed at home. We have selected nationally known textbooks in anatomy and physiology and medical terminology and assured that they were readily available to trainees from Recordings for the Blind. In addition, we have had RFB record three textbooks on pharmacology, laboratory medicine, and the history of physical examination, which were written and published by Health Professions Institute specifically for medical transcription trainees. Our training tapes are divided into two levels: beginning and advanced. The twelve-tape beginning course presents an introduction to the science and art of medical transcription and covers every medical specialty in the twelve hours of dictation. This course thoroughly prepares the trainee to work in a doctor's office or clinic. The advanced units provide hospital-level training. Both courses are extremely comprehensive, use authentic physician dictation, and give the trainee competitive job skills in the field of medical transcription. The cost of the complete Beginning Medical Transcription Course is $840. The cost of the advanced course is $210 to $280 per medical specialty. Although an individual may purchase these courses, many state vocational rehabilitation agencies have purchased these courses on behalf of their clients.
Health Professions Institute also has developed the following products for our visually impaired customers and trainees. Our medical word and phrase books, which are sold by medical specialty, have been put on computer disk in response to a survey we conducted of VIMTs around the country to determine which medium they preferred. These word and phrase books on disk merge automatically with the WordPerfect spellchecker so that medical documents can be automatically spellchecked. However, because medical transcriptionists must often search through a reference book to locate a garbled word from the dictation, we added a special window to the software which can be activated by a macro. Within this window a speech board can be used to word search quickly through the actual contents of the word and phrase book as displayed on the computer screen. Another popular book published by Health Professions Institute, Current Medical Terminology by Vera Pyle, is also available on computer disk with a window feature. This software package will give VIMTs not only the words found in the book but their definitions as well. This is of great help in determining that the word selected is correct, given the sound-alike nature of many medical words. This is an extremely important feature for VIMTs and trainees.
Health Professions Institute also publishes a national quarterly magazine entitled Perspectives on the Medical Transcription Profession. Since its inception Perspectives has included a full page in every issue dedicated to information of importance to VIMTs and trainees. Beginning with the Fall, 1991, issue, subscriptions will be available on four-track cassette tape, for the same cost ($45 per year) and delivered at the same time as the print copy.
Health Professions Institute is dedicated to making our products accessible to the visually impaired and to counseling prospective trainees who wish to enter the field of medical transcription.
If you would like to train for a career in the field of medical transcription, you may call me, Sue Turley, for a free educational consultation at 410-744-4070. You may also talk with the staff or write to our main office in Modesto, California, to purchase training materials or medical references:
Health Professions Institute
2105 Lancey Drive
Modesto, CA 95355
Susan M. Turley, CMT, RN, MA(Educ)
Director of Curriculum Development
Health Professions Institute
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Donna Posont stands behind husband Larry and son Paul, who are seated beside Ray Sewell.]
VIEW OF VILLAGE:
BLIND CHILDREN GET SPECIAL TOUR
by Mary Geddes
From the Associate Editor: Increasingly state and regional parent divisions of the National Federation of the Blind are planning special activities for blind children during day-long seminars for their parents. The intent is to provide the youngsters with interesting new experiences under the supervision of blind adults. The children are encouraged to learn and use the techniques that will help them in everyday life, and they are introduced to competent blind adults who can give them confidence in their own abilities. The challenge is to find activities and tours that will teach without making a spectacle of the children or leading the public to draw incorrect conclusions about blindness and the abilities of blind people.
In October of 1991 the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan conducted a parent seminar, and Donna Posont, one of the leaders of the NFB of Michigan, assumed responsibility for organizing the children's activities. The restored village the group visited was staffed by people with good attitudes and eagerness to open the facility to disabled visitors. This is the article that appeared in the Dearborn Press and Guide on October 31, 1991:
None of the children touring Greenfield Village with leader Donna Posont Friday could be persuaded to take a turn in the outhouse on the grounds of the Firestone Farm.
"Yuk, this is the bathroom?" asked a slightly horrified, slightly intrigued ten-year-old Cynthia Bowman.
But the kids didn't hesitate to scramble down the ten steep stairs leading to the farmhouse cellar, eager to know what was down there.
While their comments and actions mimicked the dozens of students who would tour the same farm that day, this group carried white canes and used their senses of touch, hearing, and smell to experience the historical buildings they could not see.
They were sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind, an advocacy group that was holding a workshop for parents of children who are blind in the nearby Holiday Inn-Fairlane.
They were led by Dearborn residents Posont and her husband Larry, who are both blind. The group of twenty children dodged raindrops and mud puddles, but their high spirits weren't dampened much, except at the prospect of entering the Firestone Farm's barn.
"Peeee-yew. This barn stinks," said one hesitant girl.
"That's only because there are animals inside," assured David Jones, a group chaperon.
The wooly--if smelly--sheep inside ended up being a big hit. Jones said the Federation's goal is to encourage kids to discover how much they can do, not to dwell on their disability. It encourages them to practice using a cane in real-life situations and not to hesitate even when tackling such things as difficult stairs and muddy dirt roads.
"We say that we know that we are blind but that it is not a tragedy. At most it is a handicap, and at times it is just an inconvenience," said Jones, who has normal vision but whose wife is legally blind.
It is not common for children who are blind to tour Greenfield Village, said Grant Fletcher, the coordinator of school and community programs, but officials would like that to change.
The Village formed a committee in February to study ways to make the facility and the adjacent Henry Ford Museum more accessible to people with handicaps.
A special itinerary for Posont's group was developed to lead them into buildings with several sensory opportunities. Such a tour for people with special needs had never been formalized before, said Mallory Waldman, an official with the project development office.
"That's why we were glad that Mrs. Posont gave us a call about this," said Fletcher.
"The committee is trying to change how new exhibits are done so that they keep in mind the need for accessibility. It goes along with the whole theory of inclusion. We don't want to create special exhibits for anyone. We want them to be able to participate in what everyone is enjoying," he said.
The museum allows easy movement for people who use wheelchairs, but the historical buildings in Greenfield Village don't lend themselves to the same accessibility, he said.
And, for people who are blind, the Village is the better choice because there are no hands-on exhibits in the museum.
For Posont's group the day was not without a few organizational problems, a few stumbles, and a few tears.
But when she found out that Crystal Brown, 7, enjoyed the sheep because she had never touched one before, Posont said, "Well, that just made it all worthwhile--to think that someone had never touched a sheep before, and now we've given her that opportunity."
SOCIAL SECURITY, SSI, AND MEDICARE FACTS FOR 1992
by James Gashel
The beginning of each year brings with it annual adjustments in Social Security programs. The changes include new tax rates, higher exempt earnings amounts, Social Security and SSI cost-of-living increases, and changes in deductible and co- insurance requirements under Medicare. Here are the new facts for 1992:
FICA (Social Security) Tax Rate: The tax rate for employees and their employers remains at 7.65%. This rate includes payments to the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Fund of 6.2% and an additional 1.45% payment to the Health Insurance (HI) Trust Fund. The maximum FICA amount to be paid by an employee during 1992 is $5,584.00, up from $5,123.30 during 1991. Self-employed persons will pay a Social Security tax of 15.3% during 1992, and their maximum Social Security contribution will be $8,491.50. Self-employed persons who earn more than $55,000 will also pay an additional amount into the Health Insurance Trust Fund.
Ceiling on Earnings Subject to Tax: During 1991 the ceiling on taxable earnings for contributions to the OASDI trust fund was $53,400.00, and the ceiling on taxable earnings for contributions to the health insurance trust fund was $125,000. These ceilings have been increased for 1992 to $55,500 for the OASDI trust fund and $130,200 for the health insurance trust fund.
Quarters of Coverage: Eligibility for retirement, survivors, and disability insurance benefits is based in large part on the number of quarters of coverage earned by any individual during periods of work. Anyone may earn up to four quarters of coverage during a single year. During 1991 a Social Security quarter of coverage was credited for earnings of $540.00 in any calendar quarter. Anyone who earned $2,160.00 for the year (regardless of when the earnings occurred during the year) was given four quarters of coverage. In 1992 a Social Security quarter of coverage will be credited for earnings of $570 during a calendar quarter. Four quarters can be earned with annual earnings of $2,280.
Exempt Earnings: The earnings exemption for blind people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is the same as the exempt amount for individuals age sixty-five through sixty-nine who receive Social Security retirement benefits. The monthly exempt amount in 1991 was $810.00 of gross earned income. During 1992 the exempt amount will be $850.00. Technically, this exemption is referred to as an amount of monthly gross earnings which does not show "substantial gainful activity." Earnings of $850.00 or more per month before taxes for a blind SSDI beneficiary in 1992 will show substantial gainful activity after subtracting any unearned (or subsidy) income and applying any deductions for impairment-related work expenses.
Social Security Benefit Amounts for 1992: All Social Security benefits, including retirement, survivors', disability, and dependents' benefits, are increased by 3.7% beginning January, 1992. The exact dollar increase for any individual will depend upon the amount being paid.
Standard SSI Benefit Increase: Beginning January, 1992, the federal payment amounts for SSI individuals and couples are as follows: individuals, $422.00 per month; couples, $633.00 per month. These amounts are increased from: individuals, $407.00 per month; couples, $610.00 per month.
Medicare Deductibles and Co-insurance: Medicare Part A coverage provides hospital insurance to most Social Security beneficiaries. The co-insurance payment is the charge that the hospital makes to a Medicare beneficiary for any hospital stay. Medicare then pays the hospital charges above the beneficiary's co-insurance amount. The Part A co-insurance amount charged for a hospital stay of not longer than sixty days was $628.00 during 1991 and is increased to $652.00 during 1992. Beginning with the sixty-first day through the ninety-first day there is a daily co- insurance amount of $163.00 per day, up from $157.00 in 1991. Each Medicare beneficiary has sixty "reserve days" for hospital stays longer than ninety days. The co-insurance amount to be paid during each reserve day is $326.00, up from $314.00 in 1991.
The Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductible remains at $100.00 in 1992. This is not an annual deductible amount. A new benefit period can begin sixty days after discharge from a hospital or skilled nursing facility. The Medicare Part B basic monthly premium rate will increase from $29.90 charged to each beneficiary during 1991 to $31.80 per month during 1992.
by Corinne Whitesell
This month's recipes come from Alaska. Sharon Buchan, President of the affiliate, asked Corinne Whitesell, NFB of Alaska Treasurer, to contribute several of her favorites. Here they are:
If you like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, you will love this recipe for Buckeyes. Corinne Whitesell brought the recipe with her to Alaska from Ohio, the Buckeye State, where she lived and raised her family prior to moving to Alaska.
2 pounds creamy peanut butter
1 pound margarine
3 pounds confectionery sugar
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate squares
1 rectangular bar of paraffin
Method: Mix together the peanut butter and margarine until fluffy. Work in the confectionery sugar. You will have to use your hands to knead the sugar in because the mixture is very stiff. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Melt the chocolate squares and paraffin together in a double boiler over hot water. Remove peanut butter mixture from the refrigerator and roll into balls about the size of large walnuts. Stick a toothpick in the end of each ball and dip about three-fourths of it into the melted chocolate. The uncoated part of the peanut butter ball forms the eye of the buckeye. Hold the candy over the pan for a few seconds after removing from the melted chocolate to allow the coating to set. Then place it on cookie sheet or waxed paper. Since the chocolate coating sets very fast, the buckeyes can be eaten immediately. Store in the refrigerator. Recipe makes 200 to 300 buckeyes.
MIRACLE WHITE CHOCOLATE CAKE
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa, or 2 squares baking chocolate
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
1 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Method: Mix all ingredients together, place batter in a greased 8x8 inch pan, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. This is a quick and easy cake to put together. It is very moist and delicious without any frosting. But if you do want to top it with your favorite chocolate frosting, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract in addition to the usual 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract for an extra special and unusually tasty frosting.
WILD RICE CASSEROLE
This recipe is a favorite in the North and goes well with wild game. For the folks in the lower forty-eight, chicken or turkey can substitute for wild game.
1 cup wild rice
1 stick butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 pound fresh mushrooms
1 bunch green onions
3 cups chicken broth
Method: Chop the green onions and mushrooms and saute together. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and bake for 1-1/2 hours at 350 degrees in an oven-proof casserole dish. Fluff rice with a fork before serving.
Corinne spent several years in Beirut, Lebanon. She copied down this recipe for tabuuli while watching it made by a Lebanese cook. This near Eastern salad is exceptionally nutritious since it contains a whole grain product and a good bit of parsley, which is rated as one of the three most nutritious plants grown in North America.
1 cup bulgar
4 cups parsley, discard stems
2 cups mint leaves, discard stems
1 cup cucumber
1 cup fresh tomato
1/2 small onion (or more to taste)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Method: Pour two cups boiling water over the bulgar and allow it to stand covered until all the water is absorbed. I usually do this overnight. The bulgar should be fluffy with no excess water. Mince all vegetables very fine. A food processor does a good job of this in a fraction of the time it takes to do it with a knife by hand. Mix the minced vegetables and bulgar together. Make a dressing by combining the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper; and mix all ingredients together.
Corinne also spent three years in New Zealand. New Zealanders are often referred to as Kiwis. The following was a favorite national desert using kiwi fruit.
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup sugar
sweetened whipped cream
kiwi fruit or other fresh fruit
Method: Beat egg whites and vinegar until very stiff. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat well. Add rest of sugar and beat until very stiff. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pile egg white mixture onto a buttered pan (I use a round pizza pan), forming it into a thick, round, flat shape with a slightly higher rim. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees when the pavlova is put in. Cook at 250 degrees for about one hour or until the top is firm and slightly browned and the inside is like marshmallow. Once the pavlova is thoroughly cool, pile sweetened whipped cream into the center and spread evenly, keeping the cream inside the raised rim of the pavlova. Place an attractive arrangement of peeled, sliced kiwi fruit on top of the whipped cream. To serve, slice into wedges as you would a pie. Although kiwi fruit is preferred and makes it uniquely a New Zealand desert, other fresh fruit in season is also good.
[2 PHOTOS. CAPTION #1--Officers of the National Federation of the Blind of New York State (left to right): Tracy Carcione, Secretary; Ray Wayne, Treasurer; Gisela Distel, President; Carl Jacobsen, First Vice President; and Enrique Hatch-Alleyne, Second Vice President. CAPTION #2--Officers of the New York State Division of Dog Guide Enthusiasts (left to right): Bryan Sattler, Treasurer; Roxsonne Simms, Vice President; and Tracy Carcione, President.]
**Report from New York:
From the Editor: Tracy Carcione, the Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind of New York, obviously approaches her responsibilities with determination and enthusiasm. She writes as follows:
At our state convention, November 1-3, 1991, we elected new state officers. David Arocho, our state president for six years, decided not to run for re-election. Our state secretary, Laura Herman, also decided not to run. Our new officers will serve two- year terms. They are: President, Gisela Distel; First Vice President, Carl Jacobsen; Second Vice President, Enrique Hatch- Alleyne; Secretary, Tracy Carcione; and Treasurer, Ray Wayne. We also formed the New York State Division of Dog Guide Enthusiasts. The officers are: President, Tracy Carcione; Vice President, Roxsonne Simms; Secretary, Patty Arocho; and Treasurer, Bryan Sattler. We are excited about our new division, and as president, I will do all I can to make it a strong addition to our Federation family and to let people know that it is respectable to be blind and use a dog guide.
**LifeLine Routing System Update:
From President Maurer: At our 1991 convention in New Orleans, we introduced the LifeLine Routing System wherein anyone could contribute ten per cent of his or her domestic long distance telephone charges to the National Federation of the Blind by ordering long distance service through this system. Forms to sign up were available at convention and subsequently were distributed throughout the country by affiliate and chapter presidents. A number of people have joined this program, and we will soon receive our first contributions from the LifeLine Routing System. The company which developed and administers this program (AmeriVision Communications of Norman, Oklahoma) is referred to in the telephone industry as an aggregator. Aggregators are required to file documents outlining their programs with state regulatory agencies that monitor long distance telephone providers. Currently, AmeriVision has filings pending in five states: Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. Therefore, persons in these states cannot participate in the LifeLine program at this time. However, AmeriVision will notify everyone who may have signed up for the LifeLine Routing System from these states when service is available to them. Also, AmeriVision informs us that they do not intend to offer the program in three states: Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming. This program is now fully operational in all other states and should be joined by all of us. If you need additional information about the LifeLine Routing System, please see the Miniatures in the October Monitor, contact the National Office, or call AmeriVision at (800) 800-7550. Remember to encourage family members, friends, and neighbors to sign up for LifeLine; it's one more way to fund our movement.
**Reporter Wants Contact:
Cherie Heppe, a long-time Federationist from Connecticut, asks that we carry the following announcement: Janet Reynolds, a free lance writer and reporter for the Hartford Advocate and National Public Radio, is interested in gathering information for a possible article. She would like to be in touch with numbers of blind persons who have used dog guides or are currently using dog guides relative to their experiences at the dog guide schools and their ongoing work with their dogs. Ms. Reynolds is an experienced reporter who respects individual confidentiality where requested. She may be contacted at the Hartford Advocate, 30 Arbour Street, North Building, Hartford, Connecticut 06106, or by telephone at (230) 232-4501.
We have been asked to carry the following: I have fourteen burgundy three-ring binders, perfect for Braille. I am asking $1 each, or $10 for the bunch. If interested, call Barbara Shaidnagle at (713) 666-6512 after 4:00 p.m. Central Time.
From the Editor: Many elements go into the mix that we call equality. Some of these involve rights, others privileges, and still others responsibilities. The entire composite constitutes broad participation in the ordinary affairs of everyday life. If a blind person is in the presence of someone who has a heart attack, what should that blind person do? Would he or she be capable of taking charge? For that matter, if others were present, would they be willing for the blind person to take charge, or believe that he or she could do so? The answer which traditional wisdom would give to all of these questions is, of course, no. We recently received the following article from the district field director for Southwest Georgia of the American Heart Association:
Something took place at the Georgia Industries for the Blind in Bainbridge last Thursday (November 14, 1991) that was a first for the state of Georgia. Connie Hardison and Millie Spencer, members of the American Heart Association's affiliated faculty from Albany, taught 17 employees of the Industries the life saving technique of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. "As far as we know, this is the first time any blind or visually impaired Georgia residents have been taught what to do if they encounter someone who is having a heart attack," Ms. Hardison said. "We taught them how to handle cardiac arrest or obstructed airways and how to determine if a patient is conscious or unconscious."
**The Chain is Long but Effective:
The following item is taken from the November 14, 1991, President's Clipboard, the weekly newsletter which Sharon Gold, President of the National Federation of the Blind of California, distributes to Federationists of that state:
While I was at the NFB of Ohio convention, Mrs. tenBroek called to say that Ann Landers's column for Saturday, November 9, 1991, included a response to a previously published letter from a blind person. In response to the letter, one of Ann Landers' readers sent Ann an NFB brochure. Ann took the opportunity to draw the public's attention to the National Federation of the Blind. She used NFB literature as a resource to provide some public education.... The NFB brochure was sent to Ann Landers by someone in Folsom, which is a suburb of Sacramento. Perhaps the person obtained the brochure during our recent public awareness campaign associated with White Cane Safety Day. The Ann Landers column should be especially instructive to us. Someone connected with the Federation put one of our brochures into the hands of some member of the public, and that brochure found its way to a source that would bring public education to millions of Americans through a syndicated column. We can't buy that kind of publicity. It points out the importance of each and every one of us and the efforts we are making to change what it means to be blind. Monday, November 11, 1991, brought another syndicated media message from the National Federation of the Blind, and this time the message was carried worldwide. The 6:00 p.m. Monday evening Headline News on CNN featured Dr. Jernigan discussing the laws relating to blind people sitting on juries. We are, indeed, changing what it means to be blind.
**Guide Dog Book:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"A Guide to Guide Dog Schools by Eames, Gardiner, and Gingold describes the ten guide dog schools in the United States. It covers topics ranging from application procedures to contact after graduation. In addition, the costs and benefits of working with a guide dog, myths about guide dogs, and the potential impact of a guide dog on your life are discussed. The 102-page book is available in print at a cost of $5, or NLS format cassette at a cost of $3.50. Checks should be made payable to Disabled on the Go (DOG) and sent to Ed and Toni Eames, 3376 North Wishon, Fresno, California 93704."
**Computer Hardware, Software, and Services Available:
We have been asked to print the following:
Do you need to have printed material copied to a computer disk so that you can access it from different programs or data bases or from speech access programs? Do you need ASCII files for processing to Braille?
Do you need help buying a computer, software, speech boards, screen access programs, or other hardware?
Well, Ferguson Enterprises started their business in 1978, and they can help you with all of these problems. They can scan printed material and/or pictures and store them on computer disks in most word processor formats or pure ASCII format. They also sell computers, software, and other hardware, including speech boards (Doubletalk by RC Systems) and screen readers (ASAP by Microtalk and JAWS by Henter-Joyce, Inc.).
If you have any further questions, please write to Ferguson Enterprises, RR #1, Box 238, Iroquois, South Dakota 57353; or call (605) 546-2366.
We have been asked to print the following:
I have a Perkins Brailler, updated model with labeling fixture. It has never been used. I am asking $450, which includes shipping. If interested, please contact David Hardingham, 31 Read Road, Williston, Vermont 05495; or call 802-878-0905.
**Departing Library Official Honored:
The following article is reprinted from the newsletter of the Illinois Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped:
Jim Pletz, departing director of the Illinois Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, was honored by the presentation of an Outstanding Service Award at the 1991 convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois. Jim was presented with a copy of Walking Alone and Marching Together: the History of the Organized Blind Movement, 1940-1990 by Dr. Floyd Matson. The book was autographed by Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, Editor of the Braille Monitor; by Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind; and by Stephen Benson, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois.
Jim has worked closely with the Federation for the eight years he has served at the Regional Library. He will soon assume new duties as Director of Programs and Exhibits for the Harold Washington Memorial Library in Chicago. Jim remarked that, in leaving the Regional Library for his new position, he was not leaving the Federation; rather he will have a new perspective and will continue to work with the Federation to further the rights of blind people.
Wanda Story has asked us to print the following: For sale, Braille Writer, asking $440; men's Braille Seiko watch (new), asking $95; and two men's Bulova Braille watches, asking $40 each. Please call Wanda at (510) 278-6525; or write to P.O. Box 8701, San Jose, California 95155.
**Sound Times Available:
Jack Burke, President of Sound Marketing, Inc., has asked that we notify our readers of the existence of his hour-long positive outlook audiocassette magazine entitled Sound Times. Designed for the daily commuter market, this magazine appears 48 times per year. The producers are prepared to offer a qualified subscription rate of $9.99 per month to interested readers of the Braille Monitor. For more information call 1-800-451-8273.
Ron Kolesar, a member of the Erie County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania, has a Talkman II tape recorder with FM radio for sale. The asking price is $125. The tape recorder has: an adjustable neck strap, a belt clip, and a built-in microphone. It comes with headphones and tape-recorded instructions. It will play two- or four-track cassettes. Contact: Ron Kolesar, 9910 East Peach Street, Post Office Box 102, Girard, Pennsylvania 16417-0102.
[PHOTO: Allen Harris stands dressed in a costume of blue jeans and t-shirt; chains around his legs, waist, and neck; earrings; and a painted face. CAPTION: The duties of a state president are varied and many. Sue Drapinski, Federationist from Michigan, sends us this picture of NFB of Michigan President Allen Harris with the following note: "This is 'Heavy Metal' Allen Harris at our state convention costume ball October 26, 1991."]
The following information was sent to us by Kate Mayer, secretary of the Buffalo Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New York: The Buffalo Chapter of the NFB is sad to report the death of one of its most committed members, Michael Deinhardt. As an employee in the workshop of the Blind Association of Western New York, Mike's efforts went a long way toward combatting the unfair treatment he and his fellow employees received. Mike painstakingly documented workshop abuses on cassette, accumulating a large collection of firsthand accounts. He was the chapter's most reliable source of inside information and was dedicated to obtaining minimum wage and equal treatment for all blind shop employees. In spite of his unstable health, Mike continued to work diligently for our chapter and attended a national leadership seminar in August of this year. Mike Deinhardt's spirit and dedication will continue to inspire all of us in the Buffalo Chapter, and his presence will be sorely missed.
**New Chapter Formed:
Ken Silberman, one of the leaders of the NFB of Maryland, reports that on November 20, 1991, blind people from southern Prince George's County and Charles County gathered at Mama Stella's restaurant in Clinton, Maryland, and organized the Southern Maryland Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. This bouncing-baby chapter has no length, but like all other NFB chapters, it carries a lot of weight. The following Federationists were elected to office: Kenneth Silberman, President; Polly Johnson, Vice President; Vanessa Traynham, Secretary; and Andre Robinson, Treasurer. Gerelene Womack and Lillian Wright were elected as Board members. Federationists can be sure that the general public in Prince George's and Charles Counties will be learning the truth about blindness from the Southern Maryland Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.
We have been asked to print the following: "Used stereotype machines for the production of zinc plates used in Braille printing are for sale from Lutheran Braille Workers, Inc. For more information please contact LeRoy Delafosse, Lutheran Braille Workers, Inc., P.O. Box 5000, Yucaipa, California 92399; or phone (714) 795-8977."
The Writers Division of the National Federation of the Blind is holding a Poetry Contest again this year. Submissions will be accepted until May 1, 1992. Poems should be typed and accompanied by a $3.00 entry fee per poem. Please limit your poetry to thirty-five lines or less. Poems may be on any subject. The Division offers four prizes: $60, $45, $25, and $15. Winning entries may be printed in Slate and Style, the Division's quarterly magazine. Please do not enter your submissions in other contests during the year 1992. If you reprint a poem that we have published, we ask that you acknowledge previous publications in Slate and Style and include the date and volume of the issue. Please provide your name and address on every poem and a self- addressed, stamped envelope with each submission. Send your entries to Slate and Style Poetry Contest, 2704 Beach Drive, Merrick, New York 11566; and make checks payable to NFB Writers Division.
**New Cookbook Available:
We have been asked to print the following: "The Massachusetts Association for the Blind is offering a new two- volume Braille cookbook, Sconset Cafe: A Village Cafe on Nantucket Island. Here are recipes with a gourmet bent for all meals. Surprise your guests with Marinated Shrimp and Avocado, Rice Pilaf, Chicken Piccata, and Chocolate Raspberry Marquise. The cost is $20. Write to MAB, Braille Department, 200 Ivy Street, Brookline, Massachusetts 02146."
**A Shrinking World:
Jim Fruchterman, president of Arkenstone, announced recently that in addition to French, German, and English, the Arkenstone Reading System now supports Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Malaysian, and Polish. The company is currently working on six other Eastern European languages: Czech; Slovak; Hungarian; Lithuanian; Estonian; and Lettish, the national language of Latvia. For more information contact Arkenstone, Inc. at 1185-D Bordeaux Drive, Sunnyvale, California 94089; or phone 1-800-444-4443; (408) 752-2200; or FAX (408) 745-6739.
We have been asked to print the following: "I would like to purchase an Optacon model RIC or RID in excellent condition. I am also looking for an external speech synthesizer in excellent condition, preferably a DECtalk manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation. Write to Bill Schiavo, 10 Frederick Street, Apt. 304, Hartford, Connecticut 06105; or call (203) 952-3362 (home) or (203) 233-5119 (work)."
Ike Collins, president of the Pitts County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina reports that the chapter met on December 5, 1991, and elections were held. The following officers were elected: Ike Collins, president and corresponding secretary; Mike Blank, vice president and recording secretary; Jeri Graham, treasurer; and Sheila Newbern, board member.
**Child Care Publications Available in Braille:
The National Braille Press recently announced the availability of two new publications. The first, Play It Safe, is a practical, concise, and informative brochure to educate the public on toy safety. Prepared by the Association of Trial Lawyers and the Johns Hopkins Injury Prevention Center, this Braille brochure is yours free.
The newly revised and expanded edition of Baby and Child Care, by Benjamin Spock, MD, and Michael B. Rothenberg, MD, can now be purchased in thirteen paperback Braille volumes from the National Braille Press. Thanks to a cooperative agreement with the Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, this new edition is available for $45, a fraction of its actual cost. To order both publications contact the National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115; or call (617) 266-6160.
**Resource List for Writers Available:
A newly updated list of literature for sale by the NFB Writers Division is now available in large print and Braille. The list contains prices and brief bibliographic notations for each resource. It includes workshops, annual division meetings, and other special resources to assist blind writers.
Most literature is available on 2-track, standard-speed cassettes. The list is free and can be ordered from Nancy Scott, 1141 Washington St., Easton, Pennsylvania 18042. Please specify desired format.
**Area Code Change:
The area code for Baltimore was changed from 301 to 410 on November 1, 1991. Both codes will continue to connect callers to Baltimore numbers until November 1, 1992, but after that date only 410 will do so. All of this means that the telephone number for the National Center for the Blind is (410) 659-9314. The Job Opportunities for the Blind listing continues to be (800) 638- 7518.
[PHOTO: Front entrance of the Mint Museum of Art with large fountain in foreground. CAPTION: It is time to make your reservations for the 1992 NFB convention in Charlotte. The members of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina are planning the biggest and most exciting convention we have ever had. Charlotte is a beautiful city. Pictured here is the Mint Museum of Art, one of Charlotte's landmarks.]