The Braille Monitor
39, No. 4
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by
The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
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THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 39, No. 4 April 1996
MAJOR ADVANCE IN COPYRIGHT CLEARANCE
by Kenneth Jernigan
STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
MY BODY BELONGS TO ME
by Barbara Cheadle
IS NAC ALIVE?
by Peggy Elliott
GOOD FORTUNE, HARD WORK,
AND THE KLONDIKE DERBY
by Marc Maurer
CONCERNING MODESTY, DIABETES,
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, AND BOOKS
by Kenneth Jernigan
MORE BLIND SENIORS RECEIVE EFFECTIVE TRAINING IN MINNESOTA
METAL, GLUE, AND PLASTIC
by Susan Povinelli
GREAT EATING BECOMES A FUND
by Rita Szantay and Gary Deeter
1996 CONVENTION ATTRACTIONS
RELIGION AND DISABILITY
by Maureen Pranghofer
CALIFORNIA: A STATE OF MANY FACES
by Pat and Jack Munson
MEDICARE FACTS FOR 1996
by James Gashel
Copyright 1996 National Federation of the Blind
[LEAD PHOTOS GENERAL CAPTION: Spring is here at last, and Federationists
all over the country are enjoying the outdoors. LEAD #1: Shaker Amjad is holding
the ship's wheel with a member of the crew watching. The lower edge of the sail
and rigging are visible behind him. CAPTION: Shaker Amjad takes the wheel during
a Living-Classroom Sail on the Chesapeake. LEAD #2: A student can be seen in
profile climbing the face of a cliff. The rope stretching from the top of the
cliff down to the student is clearly visible. CAPTION: A Louisiana Center for
the Blind student faces the challenge of technical rock climbing. LEAD #3: David
Walker walks along a river bank using his cane and carrying his fishing rod
and tackle. CAPTION: David Walker of Missouri searches for a place where the
big ones are biting. LEAD #4: Ramona Walhof stands under a peach tree reaching
into the branches. CAPTION: Ramona Walhof of Idaho checks the progress of the
peach crop. LEAD #5: Several people are seated in a raft, three Federationists
in the foreground, paddling through whitewater rapids. CAPTION: Lorraine Rovig
(left), Betsy Zaborowski (center), and Jim Gashel (right) are part of a group
enjoying whitewater rafting.]
MAJOR ADVANCE IN COPYRIGHT CLEARANCE
by Kenneth Jernigan
At a meeting held on January 25, 1996, at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore, a significant breakthrough occurred with respect to copyright clearance for reading matter for the blind. Present at the meeting were the following top officials of the Association of American Publishers (AAP)--Former Ambassador to Egypt and Jordan, Nicholas Veliotes, AAP President; Carol Risher, AAP Vice President of Copyright and New Technology; and Rick Blake, Vice President of the School Division. Also present were Frank Kurt Cylke and Ruth Foss of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress and representatives of the National Federation of the Blind. After several hours of discussion and negotiation, complete agreement was reached. The occasion was truly historic in nature--and so also, we believe, will be the consequences and resulting partnership between NFB and AAP.
There have always been difficulties in copyright clearance for reading matter for the blind, but the problems have largely revolved about the mechanics of the process. The present law requires that permission be sought on a book-by-book and item-by-item basis for anything that is to be recorded or put into Braille for use by the blind, and this is an expensive and time-consuming procedure. Sometimes the publisher has the power to grant permission; sometimes it is the author; and sometimes the power is jointly shared. If a book contains stories or chapters by different authors, the situation may be further complicated. This can mean delays of many months, as well as the outlay of a great deal of money and time. In a few instances permission is denied altogether.
And what about digital formats? They are increasingly important because of the Internet and the proliferation of computers. In fact, electronic production and distribution of reading matter is taking the center of the stage, and the blind must not be left out. One way to achieve this is to simplify and regularize copyright clearance--and not just for Braille and recorded matter but also for digital. Shortly after taking office, the Clinton Administration began to explore changes in the copyright law as part of broader considerations involving the Internet. The Department of Commerce was chosen to spearhead the effort, and in July of 1994 it issued what was called a "green paper" on the matter. As a follow-up the Department of Commerce held hearings and then began to convene monthly meetings of an Information Infrastructure Task Force to consider copyright and other items. Next, in September of 1995, came what was called a "white paper," to distill what had been learned and to propose legislation--H. R. 2441 and Senate Bill 1284.
These bills undertook to address the copyright concerns of the blind, but they had (and still have unless amended) serious disadvantages. In fact, if adopted as introduced, they might leave us worse off than we now are. They provide that a literary work (see definition later in this article) has copyright clearance to be published in a special format for use by the visually impaired if the publisher or copyright holder of that work has not entered the market within one year after its publication to produce it commercially in an accessible format.
This would almost certainly mean even more delays than we now have, and it also leaves the question open as to what is meant by "entering the market." Moreover, it raises other questions. If a copyright holder produces a book in large print (which is certainly accessible to certain people who are visually impaired), does that preclude its publication in audio format? And if it is published in both large print and audio, what about Braille? And, to come to modern technology, what about digital? Of course, even if these bills pass as now written, nothing prevents the Library of Congress or a private organization from requesting permission to produce a given book or article in Braille or some other format--but the reality is that the delays and complications would effectively make production very nearly impossible.
At a joint House/Senate hearing last November, government agencies were permitted to testify, but the private sector was not. It was made clear that private-sector organizations would have an opportunity at a later date and that these might not be joint hearings. The promised hearings were held before the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property of the House Judiciary Committee on February 8, 1996. The Senate may or may not hold such hearings at a later time.
Feeling that this climate of investigation and reexamination of the copyright law offered not only a threat but also an opportunity, the NFB and others in the blindness field began to take action as soon as the Clinton administration initiative was commenced. A number of groups and individuals participated in lower-level discussions with various representatives of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and with federal agencies. NFB also talked with members of Congress. Then the chance for the breakthrough came. As has already been said, the president of the AAP and two of his top-level colleagues came to the National Center for the Blind on January 25 of this year, and after a day of discussion and negotiation, the agreement was reached.
Prior to the visit of Ambassador Veliotes and his team, the NFB had prepared a proposal. Its language served as the framework for the negotiations and was, with minor changes, accepted as the final document.
Certain terms in the text require explanation. As is usual
when dealing with federal laws and regulations, words often have special or
unusual meanings. Here from the United States Code Title 17, Section 101, are
a few definitions that are part of the current law and might be misleading if
not understood according to appropriate federalese. These definitions carry
forward into the proposed bills and amendments:
"Literary works" are works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film, tapes, disks, or cards, in which they are embodied.
"Copies" are material objects, other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, whether directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term "copies" includes the material object, other than a phonorecord, in which the work is first fixed.
"Phonorecords" are material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term "phonorecords" includes the material object in which the sounds are first fixed.
These are the relevant definitions. To put it plainly, phonorecords
means anything that is recorded by whatever means, either now or in the future,
and copies means everything else, produced by either present or future technology.
With that out of the way and with the added reminder that section 135a of Title
2 refers to the Library of Congress books for the blind and physically handicapped
program, let us look at the document which the publishers and the Federation
agreed to. Here it is exactly as the publishers submitted it to Congress as
part of their written statement:
Amendment Proposed to H. R. 2441/S. 1284
(a) On Page 2, line 18, strike "visually impaired" and insert in lieu thereof "blind or other persons with disabilities."
(b) On Page 3, line 13, strike "visually impaired" and insert in lieu thereof "blind or other persons with disabilities."
(c) On Page 3, strike the text beginning on line 15 through
line 2 on Page 4, and insert the following:
Section 108A. Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction for blind or other persons with disabilities
(A) "Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 710, it is not an infringement of copyright for an authorized entity as defined in this section to reproduce or to distribute copies or phonorecords of a previously published, nondramatic literary work if such copies or phonorecords are reproduced or distributed in specialized formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities as defined in this section.
(B) As used in this section, the term--
(1) "authorized entity" means a nonprofit organization or a governmental agency whose primary mission is to provide specialized services relating to training, education, or adaptive reading or information-access needs of blind or other persons with disabilities;
(2) "specialized formats" means Braille, audio, or digital text which is exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities; and
(3) "blind or other persons with disabilities" means individuals who are eligible or may qualify in accordance with section 135a of Title 2, United States Code, to receive books and other publications produced in specialized formats.
(C) Copies or phonorecords made under this section--
(1) Shall not be reproduced or distributed in a format other than a specialized format exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities, and any copies or phonorecords made under this section shall bear a notice that any further reproduction or distribution in a format other than a specialized format is an infringement; and
(2) shall include a copyright notice identifying the copyright owner and the date of the original publication.
(D) The provisions of this section shall not apply to standardized,
secure, or norm-referenced tests and related testing material.
This is the language upon which we agreed, and as might be imagined, there was a good deal of give-and-take. The most difficult part of the negotiations involved reproduction and distribution in digital format. However, at the end of the day there were both harmony and total accord. Ambassador Veliotes said that he would talk with the publishers to confirm their agreement, and I said that the Federation would contact the principal organizations in the blindness field. This was done; everybody thought we should go forward; and so we came to the Congressional hearing on February 8, 1996.
In the panel that concerned us, the first person to testify
was Jeanne Simon, the wife of Senator Paul Simon. She spoke on behalf of the
United States National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and
what she said did not involve our proposed amendment. The next person to testify
was Dr. Tuck Tinsley, head of the American Printing House for the Blind. He
said in part:
The substitute language for the new section 108A proposed by
the National Federation of the Blind, the Association of American Publishers,
and the Library of Congress will greatly assist with the provision of educational
materials to blind students at the same time the materials are available to
their sighted peers. This amendment will provide long-overdue enrichment to
the lives of blind students. It is time to put an end to the unintended effect
that copyright has of censoring blind students' access to current ideas, information,
and educational resources. On behalf of all of the legally blind student population
of our country, the American Printing House for the Blind salutes the Association
of American Publishers for going to the National Federation of the Blind and
working toward language for section 108A which is beneficial to all.
Next came the AAP. Testifying for them was Richard (Dick) Robinson,
who is Chairman, President, and C.E.O. of the Scholastic Corporation, the largest
publisher of children's books in the world. Toward the end of his speech he
In closing let me briefly touch on several points which seem
relevant to what [the] other panel members have said. First, I want to emphasize
the satisfaction of AAP and its members in being able to reach agreement through
cooperative efforts with representatives of the blind community and the copyright
office on proposed revisions to those sections of the bill concerning access
for the blind to published materials in digital form. Dr. Tinsley expressed
this very beautifully a few moments ago--and thank you for your real support
of us since we feel very close to you on this issue, and thanks for that.
In addition to his oral testimony, Mr. Robinson presented a written statement. Attached to it was the agreed-upon proposal exactly as printed here.
At the conclusion of the formal testimony, Congressman Moorhead, who chairs the Subcommittee, asked Jim Gashel, Director of Governmental Affairs for the National Federation of the Blind, to come to the witness table and participate. He asked Mr. Gashel to state for the record the advantages of our proposed amendment, and Mr. Gashel did so. In answer to a question from Chairman Moorhead as to whether there was any disagreement on the proposed section, Dr. Tinsley said: "The new section 108A as agreed upon by AAP, the Library of Congress, and NFB is very satisfactory. It puts us miles ahead of where we were."
In response to a question from Congressman Goodlatte as to the effect of our proposed amendment, Dr. Tinsley said: "The Library of Congress doesn't pursue anthologies because of the number of permissions for them to provide it in Braille. We [at APH] do for the classroom. However, it has taken us up to a year and a half to get all the permissions for several of the books. And for some we just can't get all of the permissions from all of the authors, so this [amendment] should really help."
Although some of the provisions of H. R. 2441 and S. 1284 are controversial, there is every reason to believe the bill will pass. There is no controversy concerning our amendment. The hearings and the negotiations leading up to them have to be counted as a significant milestone on the road to the availability of accessible reading matter for the blind. The approach and the crafting of the language were unique to the particular negotiations, not being duplicated by others. As has already been said, they constitute a truly historic breakthrough.
Since the hearings a number of letters and communications have
been received expressing commendation of the Federation's work and the writer's
satisfaction with the progress. Here are three that Monitor readers may find
interesting. The first comes from Ritchie Geisel, President of RFB&D, formerly
Recording For the Blind. The second comes from Dr. Tuck Tinsley, President of
the American Printing House for the Blind, and the third comes from the Washington
office of the American Council of the Blind over the signature of ACB President
[#1 PHOTO/CAPTION: Ritchie Geisel]
Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic
Princeton, New Jersey
February 15, 1996
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
I thought you should have a copy of RFB&D's written statement
on the "NII [National Information Infrastructure] Copyright Protection
Act of 1995." Our support of the NFB- AAP amendments is clearly reflected
in this statement. All that I want to add is our sincere appreciation for the
leadership role you exercised in bringing about this unprecedented agreement
among all the interested stakeholders.
With kind regards,
Ritchie L. Geisel
[#2 PHOTO/CAPTION: Tuck Tinsley]
American Printing House for the Blind
February 26, 1996
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
The purpose of this letter is twofold. That is, to congratulate and to thank NFB and you personally for great leadership in working with the Association of American Publishers and the Library of Congress to reach agreement on new language for Section 108A of the Copyright Act, "Limitations for exclusive rights: Reproduction for blind or other persons with disabilities."
Obtaining permissions from publishers to reproduce materials for the blind has been a time-consuming and frustrating endeavor since the first United States Copyright Statute was passed in 1790. It has been a major focus at APH for the entire 138 years of our existence. Various individuals, work groups, committees representing publishers, interagency task forces, and even the Administrative Work Group of the current administration have invested much time and energy in an activity which you were able to pull together in a single day. The messages are clear: 1) to make things happen, the right people must be involved, 2) the influence of NFB is great, and 3) most significantly, the involvement of consumers is absolutely essential in any activity to influence public law or opinion.
On behalf of the American Printing House for the Blind and
the legally blind pre-college level student population of our country, I salute
the National Federation of the Blind for spearheading the development of new
language for the Copyright Act which will be beneficial to all.
Tuck Tinsley III, Ed.D.
[#3 PHOTO/CAPTION: Paul Edwards]
American Council of the Blind
Washington, D. C.
February 20, 1996
ACB has reviewed the language proposed by the American Publishers Association to amend the Copyright Act to permit the reproduction and distribution of materials in accessible formats for blind and other print-handicapped individuals. We find that the language proposed is substantially similar to language crafted by others working on this issue, and it is our understanding that the approach taken by APA will, for the most part, satisfactorily address the needs of those entities which produce accessible literary works. It is our hope that this amendment to the Copyright Act will greatly improve information access for blind people by removing the barriers now associated with obtaining permission to reproduce works in accessible formats. Accordingly, ACB will work to promote acceptance of this amendment in Congress.
Thank you for your contribution to this important effort.
National Federation of the Blind
February 21, 1996
Your letter of February 20, 1996, concerning the copyright
language developed by NFB and the Association of American Publishers will be
widely shared with others. It should be of great use, and I thank you for it.
[#4 PHOTO/CAPTION: James Gashel]
STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL
FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
From the Editor: The following testimony was submitted on
February 8, 1996 by the National Federation of the Blind to the Subcommittee
on Courts and Intellectual Property, Committee on the Judiciary, United States
House of Representatives.
Mr. Chairman, my name is James Gashel. I am the Director of Governmental Affairs for the National Federation of the Blind. My address is 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; telephone, (410) 659-9314. The National Federation of the Blind appreciates very much the significance of the pending copyright legislation being considered by this Subcommittee, and we thank you for the opportunity to take part in this hearing today.
Before I turn specifically to the copyright bill, I would like to say just a word of introduction about the purpose of the National Federation of the Blind and our particular interest in this legislation. The Federation is a membership organization of blind people. I emphasize the use of the word "of" in our name because blind people themselves have joined together to form the Federation. This is why we are often referred to as the "voice of the nation's blind." Our interest in publishing and copyright springs from the fact that most of the activities in this area are carried on in the print media. Printed text and graphical or pictorial representations are, by their very nature, not directly usable by blind people. It should be obvious that this presents us with a significant barrier which must be overcome if blind people are to be informed and literate. It is not too much to say that living successfully in our modern society often depends upon being able to communicate ideas and facts both orally and in writing. Therefore, if the blind people of today and tomorrow are going to compete with others on terms of equality--something which we can certainly do--we must have suitable alternatives to standard print.
The amendments to the Copyright Act now before you in the form of H. R. 2441 give recognition to what I am saying. Section 3 of the bill proposes to establish a new limitation on the exclusive rights of copyright owners which would apply to the reproduction and distribution of nondramatic literary works in formats which blind and visually impaired people can use. The provision would allow a nonprofit agency to reproduce and distribute an otherwise copyrighted work without regard to section 106 of Title 17, United States Code.
For example, it would not be a copyright infringement under this section for a nonprofit agency to convert a printed, published work into Braille without first asking for permission and waiting to receive it. Obviously that would be an advantage. However, the present language of section 3 may well have been crafted without complete knowledge of how the present copyright clearance system works. Nonetheless, the provision as written has done us a great service by kicking off a discussion of how best to get more reading matter more quickly into the hands of blind people while protecting the copyright owners' interests.
The problems and promise of section 3 in its present formulation were described quite succinctly (and quite accurately) in testimony already presented by Mary Beth Peters, Register of Copyrights at the Library of Congress. As she noted in her statement, there is certainly a need for the one-year delay proviso to be re-examined. The limitation should specifically permit reproduction and distribution of digital text; governmental as well as nonprofit agencies should be authorized to use the limitation; and the reader population-- blind and visually impaired persons--should be clearly defined.
As it turns out, the issues which Ms. Peters identified were also of concern to the National Federation of the Blind. So, rather than waiting for someone else to act, we decided to take up the challenge. Actually we have been conducting fairly frequent discussions with the publishers, via the Association of American Publishers (AAP). At a meeting of leaders from our respective organizations held on Thursday, January 25, at the headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, we reached an agreement. This agreement in the form of legislative language is appended to this statement. A memorandum from AAP'S president, Ambassador Nicholas Veliotes, confirming our agreement is also appended.
I should note that Mr. Frank Kurt Cylke, Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress, was also a participant in the discussions with the publishers. The Library of Congress coordinates the major book production and distribution service through which most blind people obtain reading matter. Mr. Cylke and his staff at the Library have extensive experience and almost daily interaction with book publishers to obtain permission under the present copyright law. Therefore, his involvement along with the publishers' was essential.
While the National Federation of the Blind has taken the lead in forging the specifics of an agreement with the AAP, I have been advised that agencies such as Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic and the American Printing House for the Blind are fully in accord with the recommended language. It is important to note that these two agencies, along with the Library of Congress, reproduce and distribute much of the reading matter which blind people (both children and adults) receive.
I would like briefly to describe the specific terms of our agreement. It is essentially a proposal to rewrite section 3(b) of H. R. 2441, although it could be advanced on its own as a free-standing bill. In the rewrite the term "blind and visually impaired" would be changed to "blind and other persons with disabilities." The significance of this change comes in the definitions, which I will shortly discuss.
Subsection A of our proposal would allow authorized entities, as we define them later, to reproduce or distribute copies or phonorecords of previously published, nondramatic literary works in specialized formats, as later defined, for exclusive use by blind or other persons with disabilities. Under this subsection it would not be an infringement of copyright for the Library of Congress or the American Printing House for the Blind, for example, to proceed immediately with the conversion of a printed book into Braille as soon as they could feasibly arrange to do so. This section would not require copyright permission and would therefore avoid the lengthy waiting time that is often involved.
Subsection B of our proposal contains three definitions which all of us view as critical. The first of these defines "authorized entity" as a nonprofit or governmental agency with a primary mission of serving blind or other persons with disabilities in regard to training, education, or adaptive reading or information-access needs. "Specialized formats" are defined as Braille, audio, or digital text which is exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities.
The term "blind or other persons with disabilities" has also been carefully defined. To do this, we have followed the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights. As a result the definition used in our proposal provides a cross-reference to section 135A of Title 2 of the United States Code. This is the definition used for eligibility to receive special reading matter through the Library of Congress program. All libraries and agencies that cooperate with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress use the definition from Title 2, section 135A, to define the eligible population.
Mr. Cylke has informed us that 500,000 individuals presently receive services through the Library of Congress network of specialized libraries for the blind and physically handicapped. The definition of eligibility in Title 2, section 135A, has existed in its present form for thirty years. Even so, the population of eligible readers remains quite constant. However, it is estimated that as many as three million people in the United States could qualify under the definition now in use for library service.
Those who could and do qualify are individuals who have physical disabilities (mostly blindness) that prevent them from using printed works. In order to qualify in accordance with the existing definition, a person like me must be certified by a competent authority as meeting the physical or visual criteria for eligibility. I think it is clear that we--those of us who qualify for service under this definition--are not buyers of print books because we cannot actually use them for the most part.
In fact, I don't recall having ever bought a print book except as a gift for a sighted friend or family member. If I could see, I would very likely be spending considerable sums in bookstores. My personal situation is quite representative. The publishers have recognized this and have therefore agreed that we should have the right to receive editions of published works in specialized formats. The publishers appear to view the use of the existing definition of our eligible population as critical to the agreement we have reached. Since the eligible population is already defined by law, we too are content to use it. As I understand it, all of the affected agencies and groups in our field agree with this.
Subsections C and D of our agreement contain provisions which should help to safeguard the rights of copyright holders. The first of these prohibits republication of a work in a format other than a specialized format and requires that each copy made in a specialized format contain a notice of this prohibition. Also copies that are made in specialized formats must identify the copyright owner and the date of the original publication. Finally, reproduction or distribution of standardized, secure, or norm-referenced tests or testing material would continue to be a copyright infringement. Laws other than the copyright law already require such tests to be provided in formats that do not discriminate on grounds of blindness or disability.
As I think you can tell from this description, Mr. Chairman, the agreement which the publishers have reached with us is both balanced and fair to everyone concerned. We view this as a win-win outcome. Hopefully it can provide the impetus for constructive action in other matters of concern in this bill. Whether that can happen or not, we certainly recommend the provisions I have outlined and urge you to report them promptly to the full committee.
On behalf of the National Federation of the Blind, I thank
you for the opportunity to present this testimony. Speaking as someone who would
benefit greatly from the recommended changes in the Copyright Act and speaking
on behalf of all blind people, I am really asking for the chance to learn and
have timely access to knowledge. Of the 40,000 books that are published in the
English language annually, only about 5 percent are made available to us. The
amendments to the Copyright Act will not alone balance the scales, but the changes
will certainly help. Therefore, we ask you to move forward with this and thank
you for the opportunity to be heard.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Barbara Cheadle]
MY BODY BELONGS TO ME
by Barbara Cheadle
From the Editor: One of the most obvious manifestations of the condescension with which blind people are often treated by most of the sighted is the well meant but unwanted and inappropriate touching we receive. Being dragged in the desired direction by the cane one is using, steered by hands placed on both one's shoulders, or hauled backwards by hands placed around one's waist: all these are ways in which my personal space has frequently been infringed by friends and strangers alike. I have become quite firm with the cane-tuggers. I stop and explain that what they are doing is analogous to covering someone's eyes while urging him or her on to an escalator or off a curb. Even the most flustered would-be helper will usually let go at the recognition that I have no intention of budging until I can again move my cane freely and independently.
Despite my aversion to being touched without my permission, I have always been less able to remove uninvited hands and insist on appropriate treatment. Partly this may be because such invasions are usually quite brief and are over before I can decide how to respond. But, having read and thought about the following article by Barbara Cheadle, I begin to suspect that a lifetime of enduring such treatment has taken its toll on me. For better or worse, one who is handled a lot expects to be handled. Animal trainers and handlers use this principle all the time to teach their charges to obey commands and remain docile. Blind children are pulled along, pushed into place, shoved down, and yanked up by everyone who knows them. Their hands are manipulated through the tasks of fine-dexterity development; their feet are placed on pedals and their legs are pushed in the circles those pedals make to propel a tricycle. And these kids are compressed into a kneeling crouch, their heads are tucked down, and their backs, bottoms, and legs are guided into doing somersaults and forward rolls.
I remember the embarrassment of elementary school softball games in gym class. I could never see the ball being pitched at my hopeful bat, so Harveen (the best girl batter, runner, and fielder in the class) was assigned to bat with me. This consisted of her standing behind me and putting both arms around me so that she could grasp the bat on top of my hands. The position was no doubt awkward for her, but it was nothing short of a misery to me. She occasionally managed to connect with the ball despite the marked disadvantage of my bulk in her way. Then she would drop the bat and grab my hand in order to drag me off to first base. I don't remember ever getting further than that, but I suppose the grab-and-drag method was used on the remainder of the base-running as well.
I remember another teacher's efforts to teach me the alternate heel-toe, heel-toe jumps of the Bunny Hop by kneeling beside me and manipulating my ankle and knee, with never a word of explanation or offer to demonstrate. Art and penmanship teachers enveloped me completely and guided my hand in doing impossible things with pen or drawing pencil. Just remembering such experiences brings back the feeling of powerlessness and helplessness of those days.
When my friends undertook to teach me or help me do things that I couldn't pick up on my own, they almost never engaged in intrusive behavior. Partly it was, I suppose, that they were not significantly bigger, so they could not overwhelm me. Moreover, they did not have the markedly greater ability that enabled adults to force my inept hands and feet to submit to their will and skill.
Even though kids didn't have command of the vocabulary that adults did, they much more often resorted to explaining what was needed and then provided more or less useful critiques of my attempts to follow their instructions. When that failed, they typically invited me to touch their hands, arms, or legs while they tried to perform the action under my tactile observation. I learned to turn jump ropes for Double Dutch by placing my hands on a friend's hands while she did it. I learned to run in when jumping rope by doing that with another girl until I picked up the timing from the sound of the rope hitting the ground. Later I learned to make a French twist by having a friend make one with my hair and then watch me try it while she offered suggestions.
But I realize that I was damaged by those early, smothering encounters with adult instructors and guiders. They taught me early that it was perfectly acceptable for any man or woman to touch any part of my body they wanted to move and to keep touching it till I did what they wanted me to do. Just writing that sentence makes my blood run cold. Learning lessons like that one makes blind children easy victims of sexual perversion and physical abuse. The time has come for us to see that blind children will no longer be easy victims. In doing so, we will be teaching everyone in our society the important lesson that blind people have every right to control their own personal space.
Barbara Cheadle is the President of the National Organization
of Parents of Blind Children. She also editsFuture Reflections, the NOPBC's
quarterly magazine. The following article appeared in the Fall, 1995, issue.
Here is what she has to say on this vitally important subject:
Individual freedom is highly prized in our culture. (Perhaps one of the reasons we so fear blindness is the widely held misperception that it takes away our freedom.) We strongly believe that every person has the right to make choices and do what he or she wishes in life. Not surprisingly, this attitude extends to our bodies and the whole issue of personal privacy and personal space. For example, Americans will not willingly sit with strangers in a restaurant. The place may be full of tables with empty chairs, but if there is one other person sitting at that table, then, as far as we are concerned, the restaurant is full. That's how strong our sense of personal space is. We have correspondingly powerful feelings about our bodies. Public displays of shaved heads, green spiked hair, nose rings, multiple earrings, and tatoos may be appreciated by some and despised by others, but it is tolerated by all. In short, what people choose to do with their own bodies (distasteful as it may be to others) is their business.
But this same tolerance leads us to an equally firm intolerance of those who violate the physical privacy of others. We are especially intolerant, of course, of physical and sexual abuse. But even violations of our social rules about touching are not taken lightly. We take the concept of "my body belongs to me" seriously. We consider it part of our right to individual freedom, unless you are blind, that is; then a double standard is applied. Don't accept the double standard. Think about what you know to be true about our social expectations and the concept of respect for others' physical bodies and personal space.
Sometimes there is uncertainty about what is acceptable and unacceptable social touching. The debate about what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace is one example of our cultural expectations undergoing change. But most of us never think or worry about what is appropriate or inappropriate touching in our daily routines. The unspoken rules are so thoroughly ingrained in our behavior that we are only aware of them when someone breaks a rule or we travel to another country where the rules regarding touch and personal space differ from ours.
We all know that it is perfectly acceptable, for example, to expect a hug and a kiss from great-aunt Emma (even if we haven't seen her in ten years); a firm handshake from our lawyer (whom we may only see once a year); and no physical contact at all, only a distant nod and wave, from a neighbor we may have seen almost daily for twenty years. We expect our doctors to follow a certain protocol in a< physical examination, and we are uneasy or suspicious when strangers, or even casual acquaintances, get too close or touch us too much in social situations.
Although children are necessarily touched more frequently, there are clear distinctions and expectations regarding acceptable, and unacceptable, social touching at each level of development. A two-year-old toddler is vocally outraged if he or she is picked up or cuddled like a "baby" while trying to assert newfound maturity and independence. A seven-year-old is appropriately offended if touched or handled as if he or she were still a toddler. And God help the parent who attempts to hug a teen-age son or daughter in public!
It would seem reasonable to assume that the same social standards regarding touch should apply equally to the blind. Even if one made the questionable assumption that all blind persons need more physical assistance than others, is it not consistent with current practice to assume that one should first ask if help is needed and, if so, how the help is wanted? On the contrary, all sense of what is respectful, proper, or improper seems to disappear when an ordinary member of the public encounters a blind person. The only standard which seems to apply is: "If the person is blind, grab 'em!" Over the years I have watched strangers and family members alike physically push, pull, and tug blind individuals children and adults about with nary a "By your leave" or "May I help you?"
I admire my blind friends (adults) who handle this unwanted, unsolicited laying on of hands with firmness, dignity, and good grace. I remember the time years ago when a blind friend and I walked into a highway rest stop bathroom. My friend was standing close to the towel dispenser, waiting her turn for a stall, when in came a gaggle of matronly women. Spotting my friend, they assumed that she was trying to find the towels. Talking non-stop, they grabbed her (literally), dried her hands, and physically handed her back down the line till she was out of the bathroom. It happened so quickly Marsha was too stunned and shocked even to speak. But she quickly regained her composure, quietly used her cane to walk back in, and located her place in the line. Needless to say, the women were chagrined, maybe even a little put out. They didn't apologize, but they didn't make a grab for Marsha again, either.
Adults who have had some training and have developed some confidence in themselves can pull this off. But what can children do when this happens to them? Worse, what happens if parents and family members follow the "grab 'em, push, pull, and tug" model? If they have never experienced anything else, will children have any choice but to accept this physical pushing and pulling with passive resignation? What, I wonder, are they learning about themselves? Do they believe that "My body belongs to me" in the same sense that we expect sighted children to understand this message?
What should blind children learn to expect from others concerning respect for their bodies and their personal space? Should the social rules we follow for sighted children be applied to blind children, or do blind kids require a special and different set of "touching" rules? If so, where do we draw the line? Hands and arms may be grabbed without permission, but not the waist? What about the head and shoulders? Who is allowed to grab them without permission and who isn't? What can they say or do to prevent being touched against their wishes? For that matter, do blind children have a right to such wishes at all?
It is likely that many parents and educators have never considered these questions, at least consciously. Our cultural expectations regarding social touching are usually taught through modeling and admonition. We don't even think about it as we do it. Nor do we usually think about it when we flout the normal standards and apply a different set of expectations for blind children. We simply follow the dictates of the stereotypes we have learned.
But some people do think and do change this pattern. The parents of Niki and Martha, two blind girls I have known almost since birth, decided early on to follow a different path. Niki's family read about blindness, joined the NFB, attended conventions, thought about what they learned, and made a conscious decision: they would treat their daughter in all ways with the same respect and expectations with which they planned to raise their sighted children. Martha's mother, who is blind herself, came to the same conclusion but from a different set of experiences. She not only had the collective experience of the NFB upon which to draw, she could apply the best from her own upbringing and avoid (or try to) the mistakes her parents and teachers had made.
But there was one thing neither set of parents could do: they could not magically make every adult in their child's life believe and behave this way. We prepare our children the best we can, but eventually they must meet and deal with the world as it is. Usually this happens when a child first goes away to school. And that's what happened to Niki and Martha.
Beginning around the first or second grade, they gradually became the hapless victims of the "grab 'em, push, pull, and tug" model of handling the blind. If they were spotted attempting to go anywhere or do anything by themselves, janitors, kitchen workers, secretaries, and teachers would drop what they were doing and grab a hand, an arm, or even the cane and insist on helping. The girls couldn't go to the bathroom, the lunchroom, the playground, or the bus without an adult rushing in to give them a guiding hand. One classroom teacher deserted her class when she spotted one of the girls passing her classroom on the way to get a drink of water. She was afraid the girl would get lost. But by far the worst culprits were their school aides. (As is common practice today, each girl was assigned an aide to help her in the classroom.)
Both girls complained to their parents about this treatment. Niki's mom had the opportunity to see for herself what was going on. She went to the school and sat in her daughter's class for a few hours. She was appalled by the aide's behavior, especially during a story-time activity. All the children were to sit on the floor facing the teacher who was reading to them. Since this activity required no assistance, the mom assumed the aide would leave the room or at least stand quietly in the back. She did not. Instead, the aide sat on the floor and positioned the seven-year-old girl between her legs as if she were a two-year-old toddler. Adding insult to injury, the aide proceeded to move and tilt the girl's head toward the teacher. She didn't whisper or suggest that the girl look at the teacher or tell her quietly where to look. She didn't ask permission--she just grabbed her head and moved it.
It was no surprise to the parents that the girls objected to this type of treatment. Both girls had been raised with the positive, can-do philosophy of the Federation. They had canes as soon as they could walk, and they used them. They were not of a mind to take all this grabbing and pulling meekly and without protest, even if it was from adults at school. It wasn't that Martha or Niki wanted to be disruptive or rude. They just couldn't see where it was such a big deal to go down the hall to the bathroom by themselves. But many of the adults, especially the school aides, didn't take kindly to these protests. From their perspective they were only doing their jobs; one aide even stated it that way: "It's my job to be by her side all the time."
Soon Martha and Niki were being labeled "uncooperative and disrespectful." They were admonished for "back-talking the teacher" or accused of "not knowing when to accept help" when they resisted unnecessary assistance. But by far the most astonishing and chilling remark came one day from Martha's aide. She had developed the unpleasant habit of grabbing Martha by the shoulders and steering her down the hall. Finally (on the advice of her mother, to whom she had complained about this embarrassing situation), Martha asked the aide to take her hands off her shoulders. She had her cane, and she could walk and find the turn by herself. The aide angrily told Martha, "I can touch you whenever I want to; it's my choice."
Fortunately for both girls, they have tough-minded parents. These parents had been tough on themselves, deliberately choosing to hold normal expectations for their children despite feelings of guilt and fear for their safety. Now they were ready and willing to be tough and demand that others also treat their children with respect and high expectations, even if they didn't understand why or yet believe in the need to change their behavior. Today Niki is in a different school. It's not perfect, but there is no longer an aide hovering over her.
The experience with the other aide did not break Niki's spirit. She recently began taking private piano lessons. Her teacher has never taught a blind child, and neither Mom or Dad, who both work full-time, had the time right away to talk much about blindness and expectations with the piano teacher. As it turned out, they didn't have to. Niki took care of it. The first time the teacher attempted to take her by the hand, Niki pulled away and informed her in typical eight-year-old fashion--"Hasn't anyone ever told you how to treat a blind kid? You don't grab them. This is what you do," and proceeded to give the instructor a lesson in sighted-guide etiquette. The piano teacher, by the way, is delighted with Niki and took no offense at her impromptu instruction.
As for Martha, she is still in the same school with the same aide. The aide is clearly a little puzzled about the whole affair, but she no longer hovers by Martha's side every minute, and she is learning to respect Martha's wishes about physical assistance. A letter from the National Office of the NFB, an NFB volunteer advocate at an IEP meeting, the moral support of the mobility instructor, and the continued persistence of Mom convinced the administrators and teachers to change their behavior. Attitudes still lag behind, but those, too, will change as the staff see Martha grow and flourish.
At ages eight and nine these girls know that their bodies belong
to them. Help is welcome (sometimes), but on their terms and under their guidance--not
someone else's. They cannot yet turn down help with the tact and grace my friend
Marsha displayed--after all, she was an adult in her thirties. But they are
as polite as any child their age can be; and that's all their parents want--a
IS NAC ALIVE?
by Peggy Elliott
From the Editor: Every year in January the National Accreditation
Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) publishes
a list of its member agencies, indicating when each is due for reaccreditation.
For several years Peggy Elliott, Second Vice President of the National Federation
of the Blind, has taken a look at this document for us and reported what's new
and whether we can yet pronounce NAC dead. In brief, the heartbeat can still
be detected, but the hemorrhage continues--eight more agencies opted to leave
last year. Here is the 1995 year-end report:
Any living organism can prove it is alive. Take a tree. Using sunlight, water, and simple nutrients, it grows. It sends out leaves; it produces new branches; it expands the area of its shade. The tree may periodically lose a root or a branch to some trauma or malnourishment, but its overall size continues to increase and its roots and branches to remain healthy. You can tell it is alive. It ingests. It grows. It's healthy.
Let us compare this commonplace tree to the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). By the same test NAC certainly cannot prove it is alive; the most accurate diagnosis is terminal decline and current coma. We can mourn a tree that dies. But in the case of NAC, one merely wonders why it is taking so long and wishes the process would just hurry up. The case is clearly fatal. Why not simply let the patient go?
First, let's look at NAC's nutrients. It lives on dues from accredited agencies, both newly-signed-up ones and renewals from old adherents. What happened last year in these nutrient categories?
In 1995 no new agencies were willing to accept accreditation from NAC. The rate, of course, has been slowing in the past few years as more and more agencies have recognized NAC's incurable condition (none in '92 and only two each in '93 and '94). We can be sure that no agencies sought accreditation last year because no new accreditations were granted. One thing you can be sure of with NAC; if you ask for accreditation, you'll get it, no matter what your agency does or doesn't do and no matter what NAC's standards say. So no fresh new agencies to nourish NAC.
What about renewals? Fifteen agencies were scheduled for re-accreditation in 1995. Only ten sought it. Three others simply dropped their affiliation with NAC, and two more had their accreditation periods extended. Extension is another of those charming practices NAC has used in recent years to retain members--extend agency accreditation (even if the agency doesn't ask for it) while the folks at NAC try to talk agency officials into renewing. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. But the bottom line is that NAC's desperate struggle for nourishment has become a losing battle.
Partly this is so because of agencies' dropping accreditation before their full term of accreditation has expired. In 1995 five agencies dropped their affiliation with the comatose NAC even though their terms of accreditation extended beyond 1995. They apparently decided not to remain affiliated with a decaying organism. According to the most recent information we have, NAC charges $2,400 in annual dues for any accredited member. This is eight times as much as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities charges, and CARF maintains standards it actually enforces, terminating or placing on probation agencies that don't measure up or don't improve as projected. NAC claims it once disaccredited an agency, but nobody can be found to vouch for this, and the act seems unlikely, given NAC's lifelong shortage of cash. Why would a broke accreditation agency disaccredit anyone? How could it afford to do so? Retaining accreditation means additional dues.
Beyond all this there are the amusing cases of Florida and the state vocational rehabilitation agencies. Florida actually has twelve--count them--twelve NAC-accredited agencies, 20 percent of the total NAC-accredited agencies in the entire United States! A quick check with Wayne Davis, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, produced a laugh and this analysis: "I have been a member of the Federation for a number of years, and I've talked to people throughout Florida and all around our country. The idea that Florida's services to blind persons are far superior to those of other states is ludicrous. In fact, I would say that having twelve NAC-accredited agencies in our state only illustrates how bad the services are here. Moreover, I find it hard to understand why Whit Springfield, director of Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind here, who seems sincere in his desire to work with the blind citizens of Florida, clings to NAC accreditation, which is purchased and not earned. He seems so forward-looking in many ways but so backward in his loyalty to NAC."
And what about VR agencies? NAC has offered accreditation to these state governmental agencies since it was founded in 1966. Of the fifty-two that exist, only thirteen VR agencies have ever sought accreditation, and ten of those have dropped their NAC affiliation through the years. A mere three VR agencies remain accredited, those in Hawaii, Florida, and Oklahoma. Viewing these facts, one is tempted to giggle. Where have the administrators of the Florida, Hawaii, and Oklahoma agencies been all these years? Do they ever talk to their fellow state agency directors? Can't they see that NAC accreditation has become an embarrassment? Haven't they noticed that in a number of cases the NAC seal of good practice was being proudly displayed by member agencies while gross violations of state law were going on? Do they really think that paying $2,400 to NAC every year is more worthwhile than spending that same amount on serving blind people? Just what dimension do they live in? Perhaps we need to check their vital signs as well.
Currently only one in five workshops and one in five schools for the blind hold accreditation, down considerably from the high in each category. The remnant in each category clings for some mysterious reason to the NAC seal. But the only two things they get are the privilege of pouring $2,400 down the NAC rathole every year and of displaying an accreditation symbol most of us associate with laxity at best and criminal behavior at worst.
Twenty-three states can now boast a NAC-free environment, and seventeen more have only one NAC-accredited agency within their borders. In other words, 72 percent of all agencies affiliated with NAC are located in twelve states--Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee (surely a contracted area for a national accrediting body). Consult residents of these twelve states; ask whether they believe they live in some services-to-the- blind heaven or somewhere else.
With this aura of disintegration surrounding NAC, one stands astonished at the few feeble signs of life that persist. It's a testimony to the will to survive, but it's wasted effort. NAC's condition is irreversible, and its remaining adherents should save themselves the trouble and expense of trying to prove anything to the contrary. Is NAC alive? More than it should be. Is it on its last legs? Past that; it's in an end-stage coma.
Next time you pass by a tree, stop and give it a pat or two. It is already or will soon be coming out of winter hibernation, growing new leaves, starting little twiglets, and adding to its root and branch systems. Then think about NAC--no new agencies, almost as many dropping as re-accrediting. Give the tree a friendly pat and move on. The blindness field should move on as well--on from the days of NAC and the old-boy network it represents to the new era in which blind people and those who work with them act in partnership. That's the future, and it's alive with promise.
What follows are several interesting lists:
Agencies That Dropped NAC Accreditation in 1995:
Arkansas--Division of Services for the Blind
Illinois School for the Visually Impaired
Duluth Lighthouse for the Blind (Minnesota)
Rehabilitation Services for the Blind (Tupelo, Mississippi)
Guiding Eyes for the Blind (New York)
Helen Keller Services for the Blind (New York)
Loaiza Cordero Institute for Blind Children (Puerto Rico)
Tennessee School for the Blind
Agencies Scheduled for Reaccreditation in 1996:
Tucson Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Arizona)
Sacramento Society for the Blind (California)
Independence for the Blind (Florida)
Blind and Low Vision Services of North Georgia
Center for the Visually Impaired (Georgia)
Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind (Illinois)
Deicke Center for Visual Rehabilitation (Illinois)
Indiana School for the Blind
Maryland School for the Blind
Upshaw Institute for the Blind
Visually Impaired Center (Michigan)
North Dakota School for the Blind
Clovernook Center Opportunities for the Blind (Ohio)
Pittsburgh Blind Association (Pennsylvania)
Ed Lindsey Industries for the Blind (Tennessee)
Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind (Texas)
Utah School for the Blind
States With No NAC-Accredited Agencies as of January 1996:
District of Columbia
States With One NAC-Accredited Agency as of January 1996:
[#6 PHOTO: This is a map of the entire United States, including
Puerto Rico. CAPTION: The states shaded dark gray have more than one NAC-accredited
agency. Those with a striped fill have only one, and the clear states can boast
a NAC-free environment.]
[#7 PHOTO/CAPTION: President Maurer and his son David Patrick work together to create the perfect sled runner]
GOOD FORTUNE, HARD WORK, AND THE KLONDIKE DERBY
by Marc Maurer
From the Editor: The following story is President Maurer's
contribution to the latest in our Kernel Book series of paperbacks. Here it
A professor told me, when I was a student at the University of Notre Dame, that a clich is a wise saying which has been repeated so often that the good has been washed out of it. Nevertheless, there are times when clichs should be used. This professor, for instance, was particularly fond of "dumb as an ox."
When I was growing up, I was told that time is money and that knowledge is power. But these thoughts were repeated so often that they ceased to have any meaning for me. Nobody that I could remember had ever offered to pay me for my time--or my knowledge either, for that matter. Maybe, I thought, knowledge and power are equivalent, but the knowledge I possessed didn't make me feel powerful. For time to be equal to money or for knowledge to be equal to power, the person possessing the time and the knowledge must be able to trade them for money and influence. I didn't believe that I could expect to do that.
Although I was well enough liked in school, my teachers and my fellow students did not think that I was likely to be successful in business or the professions, and I wondered if they weren't right.
Then I met Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, who was serving as President of the National Federation of the Blind. My hopes and dreams mattered to him. If I wanted to build a future far beyond my wildest imaginings, he wanted to help me. This was true even when his opinion about what I should do was different from mine.
I kept thinking that I should get a job. Dr. Jernigan wanted me to study. He urged me to spend my time getting some high-quality book learning. But I argued against it. I thought that the book learning could wait and that what I needed was practical experience. I asked Dr. Jernigan to help me get a job, and despite his feeling that I should use my time to improve my mind, he helped me find employment as a small engine mechanic.
Mechanics are expected to bring their own tools, but I had no money to buy them. Dr. Jernigan found the means to get me a box of wrenches, a flywheel puller, and a device called a feeler gauge, which is used to check the distances between the points in the ignition systems of engines, to test the gap of spark plugs, and to measure the tolerances in the spacing of valve lifters. With my shiny new tool box in hand, I started working at a machine shop, repairing small engines.
The machine shop repaired lawn mowers, garden tractors, rototillers, and other gasoline-driven machines in the summer, and snow-blowers and snowmobiles in the winter. My boss was a man who believed in giving a guy a chance, but he was not prepared to pay a laborer who didn't produce. One of his regular mechanics had been paralyzed from the waist down, and I was then, as I am now, totally blind.
Each mechanic was provided with a workbench and an air hose and access to the parts room. When the customers brought work for us to do, we were offered the opportunity to do it. If we succeeded in repairing a machine, we got paid. If the machine remained broken, we remained unpaid.
This system gave us the maximum incentive to do our jobs both speedily and well. However, we were not permitted to perform the work in a half-baked fashion. There was a set routine. A machine which was brought to the shop for repair must first be cleaned. After it had been scrubbed with solvent, the machine must be drained of oil and other fluids. Then it was to be inspected for broken parts. If the customer had specified the problem, this was to be the major focus of attention.
We knew that the customer sometimes missed the real source of the difficulty. The inspection was to proceed with this in mind. Unless the customer specified otherwise, the machine was to be put into top-notch working condition. After all of the repairs had been made and the fluids replaced, the machine was to be cleaned once again in readiness for the customer.
Clean 'em; fix 'em; lubricate 'em; gas and oil 'em; test 'em; and clean 'em again. If it passed inspection, it was time to tell the customer that the machine was ready.
One morning my boss came to me with a portable gasoline-driven air compressor. He said that the other work which I was doing must be put aside. The customer was managing a construction crew, and he needed the compressor immediately. The construction foreman could not get the engine to run.
I began by preparing to clean the compressor and its engine, and I was about to check the oil when the boss interrupted. There was a whole construction crew waiting on this machine. The oil would be fine. Just get the engine running. So I skipped the usual routine.
There are three things that must come together in a gasoline engine for it to run. There must be a fuel-air mixture in the cylinder. There must be compression of the fuel-air mixture which will make it sufficiently unstable to burn, and there must be a spark to ignite the fuel.
The method I used to check the ignition systems of small engines was to remove the sparkplug from the cylinder head. With the sparkplug connected to the ignition wire, I turned the engine over. If the system was in working condition, a spark would jump across the electrodes of the sparkplug.
When I pulled the sparkplug of the compressor engine, I discovered that there was no spark. The problem had been identified. The ignition system needed repair. But this engine was unlike any that I had ever encountered. I did not know how its ignition system worked.
I found a little box on the side that I thought might have something to do with the electrical system. When I took the cover off, there were the ignition points. I had never worked on any like them. However, there was a loose wire inside the box, which seemed to be shorting the points. I broke it off and put the cover back onto the box. With the sparkplug back in place, I pulled the starting rope. The engine kicked right over and settled into the noisy rhythm that small engines make. The job had taken me about five minutes.
My boss was pleased and wanted to know what had been wrong with the engine. The construction foreman was pleased and glad to be able to go back to work. And I was pleased. I was quite well paid for five minutes' effort. I had saved the construction crew a lot of waiting time. I had known about the theory of internal combustion engines, and with a little bit of luck I had been able to apply that theory to solve a problem. Because they needed to save time and because I had some knowledge and a little luck, I received the money.
I never told my boss how easy it had been to fix that machine. He thought I was a real smart mechanic, and I just let him keep on thinking it.
I served as a mechanic for only a short time. Then I took Dr. Jernigan's advice and went to college. He had told me that, if I intended to be able to participate fully in the society in which we live, I would need a good education.
Although he was gentle about the telling, he suggested to me that the reason I had not felt very powerful with the knowledge that I possessed was that I did not have enough of it to do me much good. Seven years later, I had completed undergraduate school and obtained a law degree.
By the time I began making application for my first law job, I had been a part of the National Federation of the Blind for eight years. With the help of my friends in the Federation, I became the principal attorney for the Senior Legal Assistance Project in Ohio. It was an interesting job involving many kinds of lawsuits in the civil courts.
One lady had employed a firm to put a roof on her house. Although the roofer said the work had been completed, it apparently remained unfinished. My job was to file a contract action seeking appropriate damages and demanding that the work be finished or the money returned. During the preparation of the case, I spent time on the client's roof with the expert witness we were planning to call at trial. Collecting and arranging evidence, preparing witnesses, writing jury instructions, researching the law, and making appearances in the courts were all part of the daily practice.
At least one fundamental principle is the same for the practice of law and the business of being a mechanic. Results matter. We who are blind must be prepared to solve problems both for ourselves and for others. If we have the chance to get the proper learning, then we can meet this challenge.
This is the message I got from the National Federation of the Blind, and it is still the message we are promoting today. If we are good at what we do, we can expect opportunities to come, and these opportunities give us the chance for a full and productive life.
My wife Patricia and I were married in 1973. She (who is also blind) had just graduated from college with an education degree and a teaching credential. Despite her education Patricia was not always able to find employment as a teacher. Much of the time during the period that I attended law school, she supported the two of us by working as a typist for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Today Patricia volunteers her time to help the National Federation of the Blind serve the thousands of blind people who come to us for advice and support. She and I also devote our time to raising our two children, David and Dianna. Blind people do not always have the chance to have families, and we feel especially blessed.
When our son David was nine years old, he wanted to join the Cub Scouts. There was a Cub Scout pack being formed at our church. When we spoke to the cubmaster who was forming the pack, he asked me if I would be able to serve as treasurer and assistant leader. I responded that I would be pleased to try but that I had never been a Scout. He told me not to worry about it. So I joined the Scouts as an adult rather than a boy.
Just before Christmas the first year that I was serving as assistant leader and treasurer for the Cub Scouts, the cubmaster indicated that we should plan to take part in the Klondike Derby. The Klondike Derby, I was told, is an event that takes place in the out-of-doors during the winter. For a day Scouts hike on trails and demonstrate their skill in outdoor crafts--especially those needed in the cold. Fire building, knot tying, first aid with an emphasis on emergencies that happen in cold weather, shelter building, tracking, and many more activities are a part of the Klondike Derby.
The cubmaster said that we would need a sled. I thought that we could use the plastic one that Patricia and I had purchased for our children. Then the cubmaster told me that the sled must be made of wood. I thought that, if I hunted around garage sales or thrift stores, I might be able to put my hands on a flexible flyer. They are made of wood.
But the cubmaster went on to tell us that, not only must the sled itself be made of wood, but the runners of the sled must also be made of the same material. This is a real tough one, I thought. Maybe I could find an old pair of skis that nobody wanted, but I never found any. So we bought boards, and David and I began building a sled.
I had heard that if you steam wood, you can bend it. So we took a very large pot and filled it with water. Over the top of this pot, we balanced pieces of maple that were three quarters of an inch thick and four inches wide. Because these boards were eight feet long, only a small portion of them could be immediately above the kettle. However, the curve of a sled runner is a fairly short one. We decided that if we could get a forty-five degree bend in a part of the board that is a little over a foot long, this would suit our purposes admirably.
We boiled the water under the wood for over eight hours. We had built a homemade bending frame to shape the runners. When the boards had been thoroughly boiled, we inserted the steamed end into the frame and pulled on the other end to create a curve. The plan worked.
Most of the construction of the sled occurred in the living room of our house because that is where we had the space to do the building. Despite some domestic disruption, the sled was completed on time for the Klondike. But this is not all. Our Klondike Derby sled won first prize!
We in the National Federation of the Blind want very much to help make our country the best that it can be. We want to learn, and we want to pass our knowledge on to others who need it. Our dreams for the future are big ones-- both for ourselves and for our friends and neighbors. And we are willing to work hard to make our plans come true.
The clichs about blindness have often portrayed us as helpless or worse. We believe that we have something to contribute, and we are putting our energy into making that something worthwhile. When we become lawyers, homemakers, scout leaders, mechanics, or teachers, the old clichs about the incapacity of the blind lose their force. They become as meaningless as inscriptions on sand.
This is the meaning of the National Federation of the Blind,
which has made such a dramatic difference in my life and in the lives of many
thousands of others. If we are to live by a cliche, perhaps it should be "The
Lord helps those who help themselves" or perhaps "There ain't no such
thing as a free lunch."
[#8 PHOTO: Dr. Jernigan sitting at his desk in his office. CAPTION: Kenneth Jernigan]
CONCERNING MODESTY, DIABETES,
CORRECTNESS, AND BOOKS
by Kenneth Jernigan
At the 1993 NFB Convention in Dallas we passed a resolution deploring political correctness. We incorporated that resolution in an article in the August, 1993, Braille Monitor. By and by the authors of a proposed book about diabetes contacted me to ask whether they could use our article as part of their text, and of course I told them they could.
One never knows how wide the circle of ripples will travel
when a stone or an article is cast into the water. At any rate the book was
published, and I subsequently received the following letter:
Van Nuys, California
June 4, 1995
Dear Mr. Jernigan:
We are happy to be able to send you this copy of our book,
The Diabetes Sports & Exercise Book, in which your excellent essay,
"The Pitfalls of Political Correctness: Euphemisms Excoriated," appears
on pages 201-205. We know it will do a lot to stir the thinking of the DIABETICS
who read it. We send you our sincere thanks along with the book. Also enclosed
is a copy of our latest edition of our publication, The Diabetic Reader.
If any of your members would like to receive a complimentary copy, they can
call 1-800-735-7726 or write to us at 5623 Matilija Ave., Van Nuys, California
Warmly and sincerely yours,
So wrote the authors (two of them; there are three)--and nothing
loath, I responded as follows:
June 8, 1995
Dear Ms. Toohey and Ms. Biermann:
Thanks for your letter, your newsletter, and the book. With
my usual modesty I immediately turned to the chapter on political correctness.
Obviously I thought you did a good job. If I have your permission to do so,
I would like to publish your political correctness chapter in the Braille
Monitor. It would give me an excuse to reprint our political correctness
resolution; it would publicize your book; and it would give me a considerable
amount of satisfaction. I shall wait to hear from you.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
So I wrote on June 8, 1995, and with seemly haste these delightful
Van Nuys, California
June 15, 1996
Dear Mr. Jernigan:
We would be delighted to have you reprint our Political Correctness Chapter. After all, you were the inspiration and wrote the largest part of it. If you should feel so inclined, you may also invite your members to call (1-800- 735-7726) or write to us for a complimentary copy of The Diabetic Reader.
We hope that working together we can counteract the insidious
forces of mealymouthism.
All good wishes,
Mealymouthism is a fine term. There is too much of it in the
world, far too much. All self-respecting people should do their utmost to stamp
it out. In furtherance of that worthy cause, here (running from page 199 to
page 205) is the portion of The Diabetes Sports and Exercise Book entitled
"A Political Correctness Issue--`Diabetic' or `Person With Diabetes.'"
We know some of you are deeply offended when the word diabetic is used as a noun as in "I am a diabetic" or "Diabetics who take insulin may experience low blood sugar" or "A diabetic should always carry some kind of medical I.D." We've even received irate letters saying such things as "There are few things that make me more angry than being called a `diabetic.' I am a complete person with many interests and talents, and I refuse to be categorized by the disease I happen to have." Caught up in this politically correct nomenclature issue, speakers on the subject of diabetes are being careful always to use the more approved "person with diabetes." If they slip and use the forbidden "a diabetic," they stammer, blush, and apologize profusely. Some diabetes publications do not permit the use of "diabetic" as a noun. Never. In fact, they won't even advertise a book with a title that breaks their rule.
Neither of the two diabetic authors of this book feels strongly about this issue, and they personally use "a diabetic" and "a person with diabetes" interchangeably. However, not wishing to gratuitously offend anyone, we have changed the title of this new edition from the previous The Diabetic's Sports and Exercise Book. Dr. Claudia Graham, whose sense of humor has obviously not been damaged by her fifteen years as a person with diabetes, suggested that we might go whole hog and title the new edition The Pancreatically Challenged Person's Sports and Exercise Book.
Other problems arise when anyone aims to achieve unremitting political correctness. To put it bluntly, it often louses up the writing. Suppose we changed the heading "Exercise for Every Diabetic" to "Exercise for Every Person with Diabetes." It just doesn't have the same ring to it. Worse would be changing "born-again diabetic," the term we use for someone who has had diabetes for a number of years but neglected it and finally decides to turn over a new leaf and get in good control. Would "born-again person with diabetes" do the job as well? We don't think so. How about Barbara and others like her who don't have diabetes? You can't call her "a nonperson with diabetes." (That would really negate her personhood!) Luckily there have been zero complaints so far from people who don't like being called "nondiabetics," so we don't have to worry about that one.
And maybe we don't have to worry about the diabetic-as-a-noun issue as much as we thought we did. Apparently the number of people who are hurt, angered, or offended by the expression "I am a diabetic" is much smaller than originally thought. A recent survey in Diabetes Forecast revealed that 77 percent of people with diabetes use the term "a diabetic" themselves, and 14 percent don't use it but aren't bothered by it. Only 9 percent find the term offensive or demeaning.
Nevertheless, we want to reassure that 9 percent we are trying to cut down on how often we use the term--unless the "person with diabetes" term causes clutter, confusion, or convolution or it diminishes the impact of a statement. But we want a favor from you 9 percent: How about a little self- analysis to discover why the label bothers you so much? Could it have something to do with that overused term "denial"? We're not saying it does; we're only asking you to consider the possibility. Another possibility: being called "a diabetic" may harken back to those times in hospitals when patients lost their identities, being called something like, "the broken hip in 46-B" or "the bleeding ulcer who had surgery yesterday." Blind diabetic author Joseph Juliano, M.D., remembers with ironic amusement that once, when he was in the hospital, he was called "the feeder," the patient who couldn't handle the meals by himself and had to be fed. Dr. Juliano has no objection to being called "a diabetic"; in fact, he calls his new cookbook The Diabetic's Innovative Cookbook.
Even with all those differences of opinion about terms, there's one thing we'll bet on: Once we get the cure, even those 9 percenters who don't want to be called "a diabetic" now will have no objection to being called "a former diabetic" then.
In the meantime, to put all of political correctness in perspective,
we invite you to read the following pithy and pungent commentary from the August
1993, issue of The Braille Monitor.
-June Biermann and Barbara Toohey
THE PITFALLS OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: EUPHEMISMS EXCORIATED
by Kenneth Jernigan
As civilizations decline, they become increasingly concerned with form over substance, particularly with respect to language. At the time of the First World War we called it shell shock--a simple term, two one-syllable words, clear and descriptive. A generation later, after the Second World War had come and gone, we called it combat fatigue. It meant the same thing, and there were still just two words--but the two syllables had grown to four. Today the two words have doubled, and the original pair of syllables have mushroomed to eight. It even has an acronym, PTSD--post traumatic stress disorder. It still means the same thing, and it still hurts as much or as little, but it is more in tune with current effete sensibilities.
It is also a perfect example of the pretentious euphemisms that characterize almost everything we do and say. Euphemisms and the politically correct language which they exemplify are sometimes only prissy, sometimes ridiculous, and sometimes tiresome. Often, however, they are more than that. At their worst they obscure clear thinking and damage the very people and causes they claim to benefit.
The blind have had trouble with euphemisms for as long as anybody
can remember, and late twentieth-century America is no exception. The form has
changed (in fact, everything is very "politically correct"), but the
old notions of inferiority and second-class status still remain. The euphemisms
and the political correctness don't help. If anything, they make matters worse
since they claim modern thought and new enlightenment. Here is a recent example
from the federal government:
United States Department of Education
May 4, 1993
TO: Office for Civil Rights Senior Staff
FROM: Jeanette J. Lim, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
SUBJECT: Language Reference to Persons with a Disability
As you know, the October 29, 1992, Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992 replaced the term "handicap" with the term "disability." This term should be used in all communications.
OCR recognizes the preference of individuals with disabilities
to use phraseology that stresses the individuality of all children, youth, and
adults, and then the incidence of a disability. In all our written and oral
communications, care should be given to avoid expressions that many persons
find offensive. Examples of phraseology to avoid and alternative suggestions
are noted below.
* "Persons with a disability" or "individuals with disabilities" instead of "disabled person."
* "Persons who are deaf" or "young people with hearing impairments" instead of "deaf people."
* "People who are blind" or "persons with a visual impairment" instead of "blind people."
* "A student with dyslexia" instead of "a dyslexic
In addition, please avoid using phrases such as "the deaf," "the mentally retarded," or "the blind." The only exception to this policy involves instances where the outdated phraseology is contained in a quote or a title, or in legislation or regulations; it is then necessary to use the citation verbatim.
I hope this information has been helpful to you. If you have any questions about any of these favored and disfavored expressions, feel free to contact Jean Peelen, Director, Elementary and Secondary Education Policy Division, at (202) 205-8637.
That is what the memorandum says, and if
it were an isolated instance, we could shrug it off and forget it. But it isn't.
It is more and more the standard thinking, and anybody who objects is subject
to sanction. Well, we of the National Federation of the Blind do object, and
we are doing something about it. At our recent national convention in Dallas
we passed a resolution on the subject, and we plan to distribute it throughout
the country and press for action on it. Here it is:
WHEREAS, the word blind accurately and clearly describes the condition of being unable to see, as well as the condition of having such limited eyesight that alternative techniques are required to do efficiently the ordinary tasks of daily living that are performed visually by those having good eyesight; and
WHEREAS, there is increasing pressure in certain circles to use a variety of euphemisms in referring to blindness or blind persons--euphemisms such as hard of seeing, visually challenged, sightless, visually impaired, people with blindness, people who are blind, and the like; and
WHEREAS, a differentiation must be made among these euphemisms: some (such as hard of seeing, visually challenged, and people with blindness) being totally unacceptable and deserving only ridicule because of their strained and ludicrous attempt to avoid such straightforward, respectable words as blindness, blind, the blind, blind person, or blind persons; others (such as visually impaired and visually limited) being undesirable when used to avoid the word blind and acceptable only to the extent that they are reasonably employed to distinguish between those having a certain amount of eyesight and those having none; still others (such as sightless) being awkward and serving no useful purpose; and still others (such as people who are blind or persons who are blind) being harmless and not objectionable when used in occasional and ordinary speech but being totally unacceptable and pernicious when used as a form of political correctness to imply that the word person must invariably precede the word blind to emphasize the fact that a blind person is first and foremost a person; and
WHEREAS, this euphemism concerning people or persons who are blind--when used in its recent trendy, politically correct form--does the exact opposite of what it purports to do since it is overly defensive, implies shame instead of true equality, and portrays the blind as touchy and belligerent; and
WHEREAS, just as an intelligent person is willing to be so designated and does not insist upon being called a person who is intelligent and a group of bankers are happy to be called bankers and have no concern that they be referred to as persons who are in the banking business, so it is with the blind--the only difference being that some people (blind and sighted alike) continue to cling to the outmoded notion that blindness (along with everything associated with it) connotes inferiority and lack of status: now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention
assembled in the city of Dallas, Texas, this 9th day of July, 1993, that the
following statement of policy be adopted:
We believe that it is respectable to be blind, and although
we have no particular pride in the fact of our blindness, neither do we have
any shame in it. To the extent that euphemisms are used to convey any other
concept or image, we deplore such use. We can make our own way in the world
on equal terms with others, and we intend to do it.
MORE BLIND SENIORS RECEIVE
From the Editor: Monitor readers will remember that
in the January issue we carried a Miniature describing the program serving blind
senior citizens now being conducted at BLIND, Inc., the adult rehabilitation
facility operated by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota. The
four-week course trains seniors in using Braille, the long white cane, and other
alternative techniques that enable blind people to continue living normal lives.
We have just learned of another successful program in Minnesota which is using
the same effective methods to help older people who are losing their sight.
Not surprisingly, the mainspring of this program is Federationist Chris Cuppett.
Peggy Chong, who sent us the following brief article, says: "Chris is a
long-time Federationist and newly elected Board member of the NFB of Minnesota.
She is energetic and positive. Because of her full and active life, she is an
excellent role model for blind people in her community. As a teacher she opens
new ideas to help her students build on after they complete her class."
The following article is taken from the MRCI Fall, 1995 edition, a publication
of the Mankato Rehabilitation Center, Inc., which serves much of southern Minnesota.
Here it is:
MRCI Project is State Model
New Teaching Techniques Aid Adjustment to Blindness
by Sheri Crawford
For the elderly, aging brings with it increasing worry about losing independence and good health. Many seniors suffer from macular degeneration, the deterioration of the eyes' retina. Fading vision magnifies both fears--loss of independence and loss of health--at once.
That's where MRCI's Chris Cuppett and her Adjustment to Blindness (ATB) training program come in. Cuppett supervises the program, which teaches senior citizens with waning or vanished sight how to cope before their disability limits their options and frightens them into deepening isolation. This year the seven-year-old program went through an adjustment of its own. To qualify for a federal grant via the State Services for the Blind, Cuppett and her colleague Monica Pierce agreed to adopt a teaching approach relying heavily on intensive use of blindfolds and the use of long white canes to help visually impaired students navigate. Using blindfolds to simulate blindness was not new, but requiring students to wear them for prolonged periods of time was. Cuppett admits she was skeptical.
"At first I thought, what are we doing to our poor seniors? This is going to be like boot camp," Chris says chuckling. "But it depends on your approach."
The ATB program had stressed the need for students to use other senses as their vision deteriorated. Cuppett used blindfolds to teach some tasks, but they scared some students, and many complained of dizziness and headaches after intermittent use. By 1992 Cuppett stopped using them entirely.
Cuppett, herself blind, and Pierce completed four days of training in which they learned to thread needles, cook, and do other housekeeping chores--always wearing blindfolds. The new technique generated no dizziness complaints, and Cuppett found it also helped equalize students with varying levels of vision. Those with some limited vision are sometimes still in denial about their worsening sight, so they refuse to learn skills they will need later, Cuppett says. Functioning under blindfold makes everyone equal, and the skills stick.
Cuppett now uses the "total blindfold" approach, while Pierce teaches mobility with long canes, which are more visible and practical than shorter support canes. Their expanding project offers classes for the visually impaired throughout southern Minnesota. MRCI's program takes referrals from State Services for the Blind, setting up classes of up to eight students, usually from within a sixty-mile radius. Each class has twelve five-hour sessions that meet weekly in churches, libraries, or senior citizen centers.
The project has been so successful it is being replicated throughout the state.
"They call MRCI the pioneers in the program because we have the classroom model," Cuppett says. "I think we now have bookings already through next summer."
Students learn to identify and count money; tape-record recipes, lists, and directions they need; prepare food; dial a phone; and safely pour hot and cold liquids.
"Some have started to use handkerchiefs or bandannas as blindfolds at home to complete tasks and get more comfortable," Cuppett says. "They're able to function in any situation because they're using their other senses. They feel like they're getting their independence back, not giving it away."
Cuppett believes the new approach has enhanced the program and rejuvenated her own teaching methods.
"It sounds almost like cruelty, but it ends up being a
much more thorough training," she says. "We're feeling like our seniors
are really learning more. They're applying what they've learned."
[#9 PHOTO/CAPTION: (Left to right) Larry, Michelle, Stephanie, and Susan Povinelli]
METAL, GLUE, AND PLASTIC
by Susan Povinelli
From the Editor: The following article is part of the collection
of short pieces comprising the latest in our Kernel Book series of paperbacks,
titled Tapping the Charcoal. Here it is, beginning with Dr. Jernigan's
Susan Povinelli is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. She is also an aerospace materials engineer working for the U.S. Navy. Recently a group of Federationists, many of them engineers and all fans of the television program "Star Trek," organized themselves into a fan club.
The group chose as its name Geordi's Engineers, in admiration
of the blind engineer in "Star Trek: the Next Generation." Susan serves
as chief engineer of the club and works, among other things, to encourage blind
people interested in careers in science and engineering to pursue their ambitions.
Here is Susan's account of her own career as an engineer:
I imagine the reason most people enjoy "Star Trek" and "Star Trek: the Next Generation" is the series' theme of exploring strange new frontiers. Since I am a blind aerospace materials engineer, you might say that I am a pioneer in my own right.
Twenty years ago no blind person, and very few women, ventured into the field of materials engineering. This is the field which studies the physical properties of various materials such as metals, adhesives (glue), and plastics and uses them in engineering applications. Like the first pioneers who migrated to the New World, I also do not consider myself to be achieving anything amazing or out of the ordinary. It was just a dream that I wanted to fulfill for my own satisfaction.
At the age of seventeen I learned that I had retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative hereditary condition that affects the retinas. The doctors told my parents, but not me, that in ten years I would become blind. In their wisdom or their inability to accept my fate, my parents allowed me to continue to dream of a career in engineering. I enrolled in college and did all the usual things engineering students do, but my tunnel vision and night blindness continued to worsen.
It wasn't until I was about to graduate from college that I realized how difficult it was going to be to obtain a job in materials engineering as a blind person. Private industry did not want to take the risk of hiring a blind engineer. I weathered a period of self-doubt and gloom. I wish I had known then about the National Federation of the Blind. In my moments of optimism, however, I kept dreaming of a career in engineering. Finally I was offered a position as a materials engineer with the Department of the Navy. I do my job by using ideas I've come up with and by borrowing ideas from other blind engineers I've met through the National Federation of the Blind. Four years ago the Navy purchased a speech program to enable me to continue using my computer. Instead of reading the screen with my eyes, I can read it by listening to a synthetic voice. Such technology was unavailable when I entered college in 1978 except on "Star Trek" or in science fiction movies.
In my job I spend many hours preparing written correspondence, and this technology has improved the quality and quantity of my productive work. But with all its advantages it has not taken the place of my many years of learning how to read and write.
This leads me to another obstacle that I had to circumvent. As the years went by, my eyesight continued to deteriorate. I was afraid of losing the ability to read and write. Without a method to make notes to myself, read recipes, write to friends, and read stories to my children, I knew I would have a very meager existence. Engineers are practical people. There is an obvious alternative to being illiterate when you cannot see print. I began to learn Braille when I was in college. I had several classes, and the rest was just practice.
Today I find Braille very useful for taking notes during meetings, giving a technical brief, and living a very full life. Somehow I find time for my professional career, my family of an attorney-husband and two children, my responsibility as the secretary of the Potomac Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, and my work as chief of Geordi's Engineers.
My job has provided me with many wonderful opportunities to be resourceful and to reach for new horizons. I have had the opportunity to visit the flight line and get my hands on real hardware. I have traveled through many manufacturing and repair facilities. I imagine I receive strange looks from workers on the floor while the engineer shows me through the plant and explains the operations.
Like the U.S.S. Enterprise in "Star Trek," which
boldly explored strange new galaxies to discover new worlds, blind persons of
this and the next generation can explore job opportunities in the physical sciences
and discover careers in engineering and mechanics.
GREAT EATING BECOMES A FUNDRAISER
by Rita Szantay and Gary Deeter
From the Editor: Rita Szantay is the First Vice President and
Gary Deeter is Treasurer of the Greater Seattle Chapter of the NFB of Washington.
They recently sent us this report on a useful and effective chapter fundraiser.
This is what they say:
The members of the Seattle Chapter are enjoying themselves, eating at restaurants in our area, and raising money at the same time. How, you may ask. We are transcribing menus into Braille for dining establishments throughout the Greater Seattle area. We are charging for this service and raising money for our chapter.
This project has three objectives: 1) to heighten the awareness of restaurant personnel about the importance of having a Braille menu available, 2) to provide Braille menus for as many area restaurants as possible, and 3) to raise money for our chapter.
The project is a year old now. In recent months we have had so much business it has been hard to keep up. From a business standpoint our timing has been good. Restaurants want to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and our price is reasonable. We charge restaurants $25 for each Braille menu. This price includes Brailling, binding, covering, and delivering each book to the restaurant. This price remains the same even if the restaurant requests breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in the same book. The way we see it, everyone wins. The restaurants gain a copy of their menu in Braille and additional patronage. Blind people benefit by having more and more restaurants with a Braille menu, and our chapter benefits by raising money.
One of our major northwest Italian establishments, Cucina,
ordered eleven books and paid the chapter $275. This large order took our project
beyond the Seattle area. We now have menus in Tacoma, Spokane, and the Portland
area. This project is a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of work. It involves
putting the text of print menus into WordPerfect, formatting the text for Braille
production, embossing the menus, binding the individual books, covering them,
and sending each one to the restaurant--all in a timely manner. The project
needs continuous marketing and solid customer-service skills. We are gaining
practice in running a small business. A project like this can be successful
if you pay close attention to each customer's service needs; deliver a quality
product; and, most important of all, believe in what you are doing.
1996 CONVENTION ATTRACTIONS
From the Editor: Every year's
National Convention is an absolutely unique event. The agenda items, the exhibits,
the new friends and business acquaintances: all these give each convention its
own character and significance. Some activities lend a luster to the convention
in part because they do take place every year and provide helpful fixed points
in the whirl of events. In this category are the meetings of the Resolutions
Committee and the Board of Directors, the annual banquet, and the many seminars
and workshops of the various divisions and committees. Here is a partial list
of activities being planned by a number of Federation groups during the 1996
Convention, June 29 through July 5. Presidents of divisions and committee chairpeople
have provided the information. The pre-convention agenda will list the locations
of all events taking place before convention registration on Sunday, June 30.
The convention agenda will contain listings of all events taking place after
Blind Industrial Workers of America
BIWA President Primo Foianini announces that the division will
conduct a split cash drawing and will be doing some other fundraising activity
at this year's convention. The group will gather on Monday afternoon, July 1,
for its annual meeting. Consult the convention agenda for time and place.
[#10 PHOTO/CAPTION: Rachel Becker of Maryland enjoys the building blocks in NFB Camp.]
General Child Care Information
If you plan to bring little ones to convention this summer, please be mindful of the following procedures and schedule information for NFB Camp:
This is not an ordinary child care service. Children who are blind or who have a family member who is blind will have a special opportunity to interact with each other and with blind adults. Carla McQuillan, the volunteer director of NFB Camp, organizes activities to maximize this interaction. Some of the activities scheduled are daily art projects planned and conducted by Corinne Vieville, a member of our California affiliate; nature walks through the hotel gardens; a variety of performances by blind musicians, vocalists, and theater artists; and soccer, basketball, and other recreational games led by blind sports enthusiasts. These are only a few of the adventures planned for our NFB Campers.
The rooms reserved for NFB Camp at the Anaheim Hilton and Towers will enable us to divide the children into groups for age-appropriate activities and programs. The following schedule is tentative. For a complete and accurate breakdown of hours of operation, pick up a schedule at the NFB of California information desk in the hotel lobby when you arrive. NFB Camp will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday; closed during the day Sunday but open during the evening meeting of the Parental Concerns Committee; and open Monday through Friday during general convention sessions, with these exceptions: Camp will close immediately after the general session Wednesday morning (tour day) and will be open in the evening during the annual banquet Thursday. NFB Camp will be closed Monday through Friday during the lunch hour, and children must be picked up immediately following the morning session. Parents are responsible for arranging their own child care whenever NFB Camp is not open. Parents are asked to make the following donations for NFB Camp activities: Weekly (including banquet), first child, $60, each additional sibling, $30; daily (per child) $15; and banquet (per child) $10. There will be a fine for late pick-ups from the camp rooms at each closing time. Those interested in providing individual babysitting services may contact Carla for further instructions.
Carla McQuillan is the owner and director of a Montessori preschool in Springfield, Oregon, and the blind mother of two. This year two of Mrs. McQuillan's experienced staff members will come to Anaheim to supervise the child care workers at NFB Camp. These child care professionals, along with many other members of the Federation who work in NFB Camp, will volunteer their time, energy, and talents in an effort to make our National Convention an enjoyable and enriching experience for the entire family.
Parents who cannot contribute the entire suggested donation
should contact Carla McQuillan to discuss the contribution they can make. We
anticipate a full house this year, so advance registration may well be necessary
to ensure space for your child(ren). Send your NFB Camp donation to NFB of Oregon,
3988 Main Street, Springfield, Oregon 97478, (503) 726-6924. Include your name,
address, phone number, the names and ages of your children, and a brief description
of any special characteristics or needs of your children.
Committee on Associates
The meeting of this very important committee and of everyone
interested in funding our movement will take place on Monday evening, July 1,
at 7:00 p.m. Those interested in hearing a dynamic presentation are invited.
The Committee will also discuss ways of enhancing Associate membership opportunities,
results for the 1996 contest year, and goals for 1997.
[#11 PHOTO: Two women sit at a table. Trina Pfeifer is signing into Kathleen Spear's hand. CAPTION: Kathleen Spear (seated) and Trina Pfeifer]
Committee on the Concerns of the Deaf-Blind
The National Federation of the Blind Committee on Concerns of the Deaf-Blind is planning three meetings during Convention week in Anaheim this year. All meetings will begin at 7:00 p.m.
On Saturday, June 29, we will hold a seminar on assistive listening
devices. The guest speaker is Rusty Rothstein, a specialist on assistive devices
at the Helen Keller Center in California. On Monday, July 1, our meeting will
focus on communication techniques for volunteers and members. The speaker will
be Kathleen Spear from the NFB Deaf-Blind Committee in California, who will
present Telebraille and the Pacific Bell Program. The general business meeting,
including a guest speaker, will take place Wednesday, July 3. We may also have
a meeting to discuss low vision and the use of hearing aids in noisy environments
by a guest speaker. There will be a deaf-blind table in the convention hall
for circulating speeches and for selling Committee fund-raising items including
jackets, caps, and pens and to serve as a meeting point. We are looking forward
to seeing you and to having a great time in Anaheim.
The Diabetics Division
The Diabetics Division of the National Federation of the Blind
will hold its annual seminar and business meeting in Anaheim, California, on
Monday evening, July 1, 1996, at 7:00 p.m. Come one, come all. If you have diabetes
or simply know someone who does, then this seminar is for you. Come and hear
health professionals deliver the latest news and tips on living healthily with
diabetes. Learn from others and share your own tips on how to manage diabetes
independently as a blind person. Our meetings are always upbeat, informative,
and fun; so we look forward to seeing you.
Human Services Division
The Human Services Division will have a jam-packed agenda again
this year starting at 1:00 p.m., Monday, July 1, with a keynote address by Barbara
Pierce, who has served as a hospital chaplain. Other presenters will be practitioners
in our fields, giving practical advice and describing the successful handling
of problems relating to blindness. We will have panel discussions, individual
presentations, talks by young people seeking to join our profession, and time
to find and learn from fellows in our individual fields. Please join us for
another exciting meeting of Federationists interested in the vocational choice
of serving others.
[#12 PHOTO: Mr. Ring, wearing a headset, is seated in a meeting with a small computer in his lap. CAPTION: Richard Ring]
An Introduction to the Internet
The information superhighway is one of the most popular roads these days. And, if you're looking for an on ramp, we may have just the thing for you!
Attend the seminar "An Introduction to the Internet,"
sponsored by the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind and
conducted by IBTCB Director Richard Ring. He will show you how to get started
on the Internet, how to send electronic mail (e-mail) anywhere in the world,
and how to search the many Internet resources for the information you need.
Whether you are looking for employment or the latest news, the Internet has
information resources for you to take advantage of. You'll learn about the Internet
from both the DOS and Windows perspectives. There is so much information on
the Net these days it is safe to say that the information superhighway is the
road you need to take. This seminar can get you started.
[#13 PHOTO: Dr. Verna Brasher is pictured giving Keri Pendleton a back rub during a convention session. CAPTION: Chiropractor, Dr. Verna Brasher, uses her skill to raise money for the Arizona affiliate and the national organization by giving back rubs at the PAC table during convention sessions. Here Keri Pendleton takes advantage of this popular service.]
Job Opportunities for the Blind National Seminar
The 1996 National JOB Seminar will be held from 1:00 to 4:00
p.m. on Saturday, June 29, at the Anaheim Hilton. Join us for fact-filled presentations
by successfully employed blind Americans in the usual mix of interesting jobs.
We'll share what worked and what didn't. (Past seminars are available free on
cassette from JOB.) Special seminar features coming this year include "Transition
Tips for Low-Vision Employees Who Are Losing More Sight," "Transition
Ideas for Blind Teens," and "Tips for Independent Travel from a Lost-In-Space
Veteran." Come listen to the real experts, meet our speakers, and ask them
the questions you have always wanted to ask.
Job Networking at Convention
Each morning at convention you are invited to join us at networking
breakfasts for blind job seekers and employed blind persons with common employment
interests. This may be your best chance all year to meet other blind people
working (or wanting to work) in the field that interests you. Are you a professional
teacher, counselor, or job developer serving blind people? Do you need to do
some serious networking to help your clients with accurate information? Come
join us. The setup is simple:
* Show up by 7:00 a.m. for the breakfast that interests you.
* B.Y.O.B. (Buy Your Own Breakfast off the buffet or off the menu.)
* Start talking, start listening, and enjoy the networking.
All JOB Networking Breakfasts start at 7:00 a.m. in the hotel's main restaurant, the Oasis. They end in time to get to the Convention's morning sessions. Participants tell the maitre d' which JOB breakfast they want to join. Participants will be seated family-style by interest group. (Look for Lorraine Rovig at the door; I can help you find your group without waiting in line.) As each table fills, we start another. We will try to get tables at the far end of the restaurant to help with noise control. Each interest group numbers from four to twenty participants, sometimes more.
The JOB Coordinators help participants get started and stay on topic. They are carefully chosen for their personal expertise in the specific topic.
Reservations are helpful but not required. To help with planning the number of tables and coordinators needed for each group, if you know you plan to show up at a breakfast, please preregister in print or Braille or call Lorraine Rovig, JOB/NFB, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, or call between 12:30 and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (800) 638-7518.
At convention a list in Braille and large print will be posted
at both the affiliate information booth (in the hotel lobby) and at the NFB
Information Booth (on the ballroom level) listing the breakfast topics. Many
coordinators' names will be announced then. Here is the preliminary list:
Saturday, June 29
* The 1996 First-timers Breakfast on Saturday. (Miss Rovig
and JOB Field Service Network Volunteers) Is this your first NFB National Convention?
We'll help you get the most out of this very crowded week of activities--the
seminars, the specific people, and the one-of-a-kind events that will help you
reach your goals.
Sunday, June 30
* The 1996 First-timers Breakfast on Sunday. (Wayne and Carmen Davis, Florida) Your first NFB National Convention? We'll help you get to know the ropes like an old hand.
* The Sunday Generic Breakfast for Job Seekers. (Miss Rovig and JOB Field Service Network Volunteers) A generic breakfast is held every morning, Sunday to Thursday. What problem are you running into in your job search? Brainstorming is our specialty!
* JOB's second Networking Breakfast for Travel Instructors. Are you blind and do you teach cane travel? Do you want to? Are you sighted and interested in teaching NFB travel techniques? This one's for you.
* JOB's Annual Networking Breakfast for Blind Scientists and
Engineers. (Coordinated by the Science and Engineering Division of the NFB)
Monday, July 1
* The Monday Generic Breakfast for Job Seekers.
* JOB's Breakfast for Blind Persons in Medical Fields.
* Do you often have to invent your own techniques? Are you the only blind person you know in your field? Networking can help.
* JOB's fourth annual Networking Breakfast for Braille Proofreaders and Transcribers. Dot's right. We're doing it again.
* New: JOB's Networking Breakfast for Blind Bankers. Hosted by Brian C. Smith, Vice President of Personnel, NationsBank. Are you working in a bank? Do you want to? Note: reservations are strongly advised for this one--call JOB.
* JOB's Seventh Annual Networking Breakfast for Blind Lawyers.
Coordinated by the National Association of Blind Lawyers (NABL), a professional
association for lawyers and others working in any legal field.
Tuesday, July 2
* The Tuesday Generic Breakfast for Job Seekers.
* JOB's Second Annual Entrepreneurs' Breakfast. (Connie LeBlond, Maine) Are you dreaming about starting a business of your own? Do you want to talk with others who have already done it?
* The Fifth Annual Blind Artists' Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. in the restaurant this year)
* New: A Networking Breakfast for Customer Service Reps (Chris
Flory, Colorado Center for the Blind) How do you handle those calls and the
recordkeeping? What devices do you use? What jobs are people getting in this
field? Let's talk.
Wednesday, July 3
* The Wednesday Generic Breakfast for Job Seekers.
* New: I Do Windows--A Job Networking Breakfast. (Ted Henter,
Florida) Would it help to talk with other blind computer users now learning
to use Windows? Here's your chance. Our coordinator can answer most questions
on this subject.
Thursday, July 4
* JOB's Last-Chance Generic Breakfast for Job Seekers.
* New: A Networking Breakfast for Computer Access Teachers.
(Sharon Monthei, computer teacher, BLIND, Inc.) Do you teach blind persons to
use computers adapted for the blind? Do you want to? Networking is not just
Friday, July 5
* JOB's Invitational Breakfast for Service Providers. (Miss
[#14 PHOTO: Julie Melton is pictured playing the piano. CAPTION: Julie Melton performs at the 1995 Music Division Showcase of Talent]
The Music Division will meet Sunday, June 30, 1996. Registration for membership and for the Showcase of Talent will begin at 6:30 p.m. outside our meeting room. The meeting itself begins at 7:00 p.m.
The Division agenda will be full. We will have an update on Braille music from the NLS Braille Music Section representative. We hope to have a panel to answer the question: how do blind people use synthesizers and MIDI's? If you are interested in being on this panel, please contact Linda Mentink, 1737 Tamarack Lane, Janesville, Wisconsin 53545, (608) 752-8749. Please do so as soon as possible. We're also hoping to have a presentation by someone from Hollywood.
Our election of officers will also be held at the meeting. The current officers are President, Linda Mentink (Wisconsin); First Vice President, Mary Brunoli (Connecticut); Second Vice President, Stephanie Pieck (New York); Secretary, Linda Milliner (California); and Treasurer, Ben Snow (Connecticut).
Our membership dues are $5. If you'd like to join or renew your membership before the convention, please send a check, payable to the Music Division, to Ben Snow, 358 Orange Street, Apt. 4091, New Haven, Connecticut 06511.
We are going to do something different with the Showcase of Talent this year. It will not be a contest with prizes, so there will be no fee for participants. However, since it is our only fundraiser, we will pass the hat so that those who wish to can make a free-will offering. We will need accompanists for performers who do not have tapes. If you are willing and available to accompany, please contact Linda Mentink.
If you would like to participate in the Showcase, here are the guidelines: 1) Sign up no later than noon, Tuesday, July 2. 2) Perform only one number, taking no more than four minutes to perform. 3) If you are using a taped accompaniment, be sure that the tape is cued up properly. Do not sing along with a vocal artist; you will be stopped immediately. 4) If you need live accompaniment, make your arrangements before the Showcase begins.
Children who plan to participate will be invited to perform
first. The Showcase will be limited to two hours, about twenty-four performers.
Come help us enjoy music. We are also planning to have a lunch for musicians,
open to anyone who would like more information about the Music Division or would
just like to talk about music. Listen for the announcement of time and place
during the general session.
National Association of Blind Educators: A Key to Employment
From 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 1, the National Association of Blind Educators will hold its annual meeting as part of the National Federation of the Blind Convention. Attending this meeting and listening to and talking with working blind educators give prospective job seekers valuable information about the variety of job opportunities available and knowledge about how to procure good jobs. Those who are employed learn about the new and refined teaching techniques which are used uniquely by blind educators. In these shaky economic times we discuss how to use our talents to the best of our abilities, how to keep sane in a very unstable environment, and generally how to enter and retire from the profession the way we had planned. We commence our meeting with small group discussions.
These groups are chaired by successful blind educators. Some of the topics are preschool, elementary, secondary, university, student teaching, teacher aides, special education, and directing your own school. We will then have speakers on learning the necessary skills of blindness at NFB training centers, finding and keeping jobs you like, and getting along with principals and others with whom you must work.
We will conclude with our annual business meeting. While this meeting is our only real chance to gather in person each year, we also have a mentoring program through which inexperienced blind educators are matched with more seasoned colleagues. We are the experts on becoming effective blind teachers, so we have the best grasp of what our needs and problems are and how to meet and solve them. Our work is never-ending, and our National Association of Blind Educators has been successful, judging by the number of satisfied and effective blind educators we have. Come and join us in Anaheim for the entire Convention.
For further information about the division or details about
the meeting or the field of education, please call Pat Munson, President of
the National Association of Blind Educators, (510) 526-1668.
National Association of Blind Lawyers
Come and join the largest organization of blind lawyers in the country. The National Association of Blind Lawyers (NABL) will meet on Monday, July 1, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. as part of the fifty-sixth annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
We will be discussing many exciting topics on that afternoon. Speaking from their areas of expertise, lawyers will give us updates on the current status of laws affecting the blind. We will hear about various advocacy matters in which the Federation has been involved in the last year. Officials of the American Bar Association and California Bar Association will address the group. Experienced practitioners will offer strategies on how best to conduct various types of cases. Hear about the publication of our law journal.
This and much more will all take place at the NABL meeting.
Everyone in the legal profession, law students, and others interested in the
law are welcome. Remember that you may be able to receive up to four continuing
legal-education credits for this meeting. Come and help us continue to build
the Federation through the Lawyers' Division.
[#15 PHOTO/CAPTION: Angie Rizzuto of Illinois plays Solitaire at Monte Carlo Night]
National Association of Blind Students
Get ready for the most energizing convention ever! Imagine that you're at the Hilton in Anaheim, California. You are walking past a whole bunch of meeting rooms. In particular, your attention turns to a room where people are obviously excited about something. You draw closer, and the level of noise intensifies. Curious, you walk closer still.
When you're about to walk in, someone says, "Hi. Are you here for the student division meeting?"
"Is that what all the noise is about?" you say.
"Yeah! You're here just in time. It's just started."
After registering, you walk in to find a room filled with hundreds of blind students from around the country. They've come together to talk about issues important to them, to encourage one another to reach for even greater success, and to establish new friendships and renew old ones. Right away you feel welcome because all the people you meet are excited that you have come. What's more, you realize that you are needed; that you have the power and potential to affect positively the lives of thousands of people just by being there, by taking part in this awesome event, and by learning from what is said; and that it all applies to you and increases your ability to institute change. Beyond this, as you meet more and more people, you almost instantly become friends with individuals with a variety of backgrounds and with similar--and sometimes not so similar--interests.
This is not an imaginary situation. In fact, it is the reality of what happens at meetings of the National Association of Blind Students (NABS), a division of the National Federation of the Blind. As unique as each student is, we all share a commitment to the organized blind movement. We have all been touched by the work of the Federation in some special way, and we share a commitment to reach out to fellow blind people in the same way that someone reached out to us.
Our commitment to one another takes many forms. Whether it involves fighting for the rights of blind students to choose their own readers in taking standardized tests, informing one another about rehabilitation services, guarding against the custodialism of disabled student services offices, coming together at the national or state level to energize one another and provide support, or just lending an ear to one another, the National Association of Blind Students is there for us. It is an active, vibrant organization that seeks to institute immediate and long-term change in society's beliefs and expectations about the blind. Through this organization our individual efforts lead day by day to collective results which benefit blind students right now and for years to come.
We want you to join us! We need you! Come and be a part of who we are, and make a difference in your life as well as in the lives of countless others! Don't think about doing it; just go for it!
Here's the schedule of events. Our annual meeting will take place on the evening of Sunday, June 30, 1996. Smaller, interactive gatherings, designed to provide participants with individual feedback and focused insight about their potential, will be announced at that time. On Wednesday, July 3, we will hold our annual Monte Carlo Night. There people will get the chance to have a bit of fun while winning cold, hard cash! In addition to all of this, students will be networking with each other throughout the National Convention. If you thought last year's convention was a time to remember, just wait till you come to California!
Students from every educational setting (colleges, universities,
vocational/technical schools, residential training centers for the blind, community
colleges, high schools, graduate schools, and schools offering correspondence
courses) are welcome to join NABS. If you want more information or if you are
eager to take part personally in making this year's Student Division activities
more exciting and informative than they have ever been, contact Ollie Cantos,
President, National Association of Blind Students, 1420 Queen Summit Drive,
West Covina, California 91791-3949, (818) 918-8977. See you in Anaheim!
National Association of Guide Dog Users
The annual meeting of the National Association of Guide Dog Users will be held on Saturday, June 29, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Registration will begin at 1:00 p.m., and the meeting will start at 1:45 p.m. The seminar, "A Guide Dog in Your Life," will be held Sunday, June 30, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.
The division meeting will begin with comments from Dr. Jernigan. He will discuss issues of current interest to Federationists within this division and beyond. We will then explore how guide dogs can be integrated into several different employment settings such as health-care facilities, food-service facilities, classrooms of children, and the courtroom. There will also be presentations from multiply handicapped people who use guide dogs. There are guide dog handlers who are deaf-blind. Others are in wheelchairs, and still others have hidden disabilities which require specific training. We will hear from some of these blind handlers and some of the guide dog trainers who specialize in working with people with multiple handicaps. Did you know that some guide dog puppies are raised in the prison system? We hope to hear from a training center which interacts with local correctional facilities in this way. In an article titled "Guide Dogs, the Guide Dog Industry, and Conceptions of Blindness" in the Winter, 1996, issue of Harness Up, Paul Gabias laid out six concerns that guide dog schools should be addressing in an attempt to prepare handlers and dogs to deal successfully with the stresses of large, consumer-organization conventions. The issues are:
1. Select students who are likely to be very skilled with handling dogs;
2. lengthen the training periods so that only students who are highly skilled graduate;
3. work on parking and pull-over techniques very early in the training;
4. don't expect the harness to be a magic inhibitor for urinating or defecating enroute or in buildings;
5. take strong corrective measures so that dogs understand that they must signal in very obvious ways that they need to relieve themselves; and
6. don't rely on a schedule for ensuring adequate house training. Guide dogs must learn to deal with the varied schedules of busy, mobile people.
We hope to make a discussion of these concerns the basis of a panel presentation among representatives from the schools.
The Sunday seminar will deal with updates from Hawaii. We will also continue our discussion about safe street crossings with guide dogs. Last year, by and large, we heard from the trainers. This year we want to hear from guide dog handlers.
This is an election year for the division. Your vote is important. Come one, come all. We are right next door to the "One Hundred and One Dalmatians."
The National Office and the NFB of California are working hard to provide the best possible relief accommodations for guide dogs at the convention. Of course, the relief facilities will have to be kept clean. Instead of relying on hotel personnel to maintain the facilities, we hope to hire outside workers to do the job. This should result in more pleasant surroundings for owners and dogs alike. In 1993 the division voted to ask each guide dog handler to pay $25 for use of the relief facilities throughout the week. Last year in Chicago the maintenance of the indoor sandbox alone cost the Federation $5,000. This does not include the maintenance costs for the park we used last year. We encourage all guide dog handlers to help cover the maintenance costs of relief areas, if at all possible.
Contributions should be made at division activities early in the week. Owners who miss these opportunities for any reason and who wish to help can pay Priscilla Ferris, Division Treasurer and President of the NFB of Massachusetts, later in the week. She can be found at convention sessions in the Massachusetts delegation.
Questions about the relief arrangements or other guide dog
matters can be directed to Paul Gabias at 475 Fleming Road, Kelowna, British
Columbia, Canada, VIX 3Z4, (800) 714-4774.
[#16 PHOTO/CAPTION: Kassondra Bair of Minnesota reads during the 1995 NAPUB Braille-a-thon]
National Association to Promote the Use of Braille
Don't miss our "California Gold Rush" in the form of a Braille-a-thon which will take place at the Anaheim Hilton on Saturday, June 29, from 9:00 a.m. until noon. Members of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille will be waiting for you with anticipation. Enjoy the fellowship of friends while reading Braille together, and experience the pride of paying dues so you can belong to this great division of the NFB. Of course your greatest pleasure will be derived from turning in the pledge money you will have received from family and friends back home. This is a morning designed to touch the hearts of all NAPUBbers, because we will either read or sponsor participants.
Then, at our annual meeting on the following Monday evening,
we will all have fun as we celebrate our progress and plan for the future of
Braille. A NAPUB meeting provides its own pot of gold, and you will feel richer
for the experience of joining us there.
NEWSLINE for the Blind
Throughout the convention this year Mr. Chrisman of the national
staff will be demonstrating the NEWSLINE network of digitized newspaper delivery
over telephone lines. At these workshops information about establishing and
maintaining Local Service Centers will be available. Consult the convention
agenda for times and places.
National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science
The 1996 meeting of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science will be held on Monday, July 1, at the National Federation of the Blind convention in Anaheim, California. Registration for the meeting will begin at 12:30 p.m. For specific location information, check your convention agenda.
At this early date there is no way to announce a detailed agenda. However, we can say these things about the meeting:
As we have in the past, we will devote a number of program items to a discussion of strategies to get at applications running under Windows, Windows 95, and OS/2--all of which are systems written to run using the graphical user interface. By the time of our meeting, we hope that a significant number of screen-reader developers will have programs for Windows 95. Perhaps we can get one or more of them to talk about what they have without making it sound like a commercial.
Microsoft has embarked upon a program to make its operating systems and software accessible to all manner of disabled individuals--including the blind. In July 1995, a number of Federationists joined with other groups and individuals to attend the Microsoft Accessibility Summit, where we were told about the company's plans in this area. We hope to have someone from Microsoft bring us up to date concerning accessibility and future plans.
As technology advances, our ability to use it without sighted assistance continues to diminish. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the average blind computer user to master the intricacies and convoluted strategies that are often required to use the same software as others in the office. We will try to bring together a number of experienced blind computer users to discuss broad strategies that all of us can use to deal with this problem. The term "user-friendly" could take on a whole new meaning.
Come to the 1996 meeting of the National Federation of the
Blind in Computer Science and discuss computer-access issues with other blind
people. For further information about the meeting and other computer-related
matters, contact Curtis Chong, President, National Federation of the Blind in
Computer Science, 20 Northeast 2nd Street, Apartment 908, Minneapolis, Minnesota
55413-2265, Evening Phone, (612) 379-3493, Internet, [email protected]
[#17 PHOTO/CAPTION: John Walker of Nebraska enjoys a seat on the shoulders of Ollie Cantos, President of the NFB student division.]
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
Traditionally we have begun National Convention week with a day-long seminar for parents conducted by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. This year's seminar/workshop for parents--"Walking Alone and Marching Together"--takes place on Saturday, June 29. Concurrent with this seminar will be two field trips for children and youth. Later that evening NOPBC will sponsor a Family Hospitality, in which parents and children can mingle, relax, and get to know each other. There will also be an orientation session for blind teens led by blind volunteers in the evening. The volunteers will take the teens out in groups and show them the layout of the hotel. They will also discuss how the convention is organized, what to expect from it, what meetings to attend, and how to have fun at the convention safely and appropriately.
Information about meeting rooms will be in the preconvention
agenda, which will be available at the NFB Information desk in the hotel lobby.
Here is an outline of the day's events:
Field Trips for Youth and Children:
* Train trip, 8:00 a.m., check in. Youth will leave the hotel by 8:30 a.m. They will return between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. Please meet your son or daughter in the same room from which he or she departed. Train trip to the beach (for young adults, ages ten to eighteen). Cost is $16 and includes train and bus fare and admission to Scripps. Here's what organizer Carla McQuillan has to say about these activities:
What a day at the beach we have planned for you! All aboard! We'll begin the day by traveling southwest on Amtrak's San Diegan commuter train. We'll experience the thrill of the railroad as we begin our trek to enjoy the wonders of the Pacific Coast. Next we'll spend some time letting the warm sand sift between our toes as we beachcomb, chase the waves, or build a sandcastle. Then we'll take the city bus to the internationally known Scripps Institute of Oceanography for a hands-on guided tour of the aquarium. Please bring money for lunch and any snacks or souvenirs you wish to buy.
* Adventure City, 8:00 a.m., check in (for children ages four to ten). Children will leave the hotel by 8:45 a.m. They will return to the hotel around 2:00 p.m., where they will continue with NFB Camp activities in the room from which they departed. They may be picked up by parents between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. Cost is $16 and includes bus fare, lunch, and unlimited use of rides and attractions.
About this field trip Mrs. McQuillan says:
For our trip to Adventure City, a new theme park designed specifically for young children, the excitement begins on the city bus that leads straight to the thrills.
Our day at Adventure City will begin with an interactive and educational puppet show for us alone to enjoy before the park opens to the general public. During the show we will learn about "what you should do if you get lost" and "being kind to others." The presentation features a special visit from Dandy McRandy, the Mystery Caper. Excitement and entertainment await with roller-coasters and other pulse-quickening rides. If you're the kind of kid that prefers to keep your feet a little closer to the ground, there are a petting zoo, shows, and a twenty-horse carousel! There will also be game areas and concession stands for which you may want to bring some extra spending money.
Sound too good to be true? Well it isn't if you make sure your
reservations are made by May 15, 1996. Space is limited, so make your reservations
as soon as possible! Make checks payable to National Federation of the Blind
of Oregon, and send to Kids' Convention Trips, 3988 Main Street, Springfield,
* 8:00-9:30 a.m. Registration, fees: $8 per person or $10 per family. (Fees include a subscription to Future Reflections.)
* 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. General session. Topics will include: "Marching Together: The NFB Convention--What's in it for Me?" "Walking Alone: How Blind Kids Develop Self-Reliance"; "Marching Together: A Panel of Parents of Deaf-blind Children and Parents of Blind Multiply Handicapped Children"; "Walking Alone: Resisting the Helping-Hand Syndrome"; "Marching Together: A Panel of Parents, Professionals, and Federationists"; "Walking Alone and Marching Together: Report on the Braille Literacy Movement."
* 12:30-2:00 p.m. Lunch
* 2:00-5:00 p.m. Concurrent workshops. Workshop titles will include "Getting Ready for the World of Work--Blind Youth in Transition"; "Blind Kids, Friendships, and Fitting In"; "Parent Power"; "Beginning Braille for Parents"; "Meeting the Needs of Deaf-Blind Children"; "Resources for Blind Multiply Handicapped Children"; "Self-reliance and the White Cane"; "Self-Reliance and Braille in the Classroom"; and "Tips on Alternative Techniques."
* 5:00-5:30 p.m. Pick up children and youth from tours or NFB Camp.
* 7:00-10:00 p.m. Family hospitality (location to be announced)
* 7:00-10:00 p.m. Convention orientation for youth--Session
I (location to be announced)
* Sunday, June 30, 1:00-5:00 p.m. Convention orientation for youth, Session II
* Monday, July 1, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. National Organization of Parents of Blind Children Annual Meeting
* Tuesday, July 2, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. IEP Workshop for Parents
and NFB Advocates
NFB NET Training Seminar
No matter where you turn today, you are likely to hear references to the information superhighway. With all this interest many blind people feel the need to get and use a modem so that they aren't left out.
We in the National Federation of the Blind have had our own information superhighway since June 1, 1991, in the form of NFB NET, our computer bulletin board service (BBS). That was the date when NFB NET officially went online. Once again this year we will conduct a training session for NFB NET users. The session, which will be held on Saturday, June 29, from 9:00 a.m. until noon, is designed for new modem users, for people who haven't accessed NFB NET before, and for people who want to learn more about the capabilities of our BBS.
Topics to be covered will include telecommunications basics, using your modem and communications software, registering for NFB NET, navigating around, reading and entering messages, downloading the Braille Monitor and other files, finding files, setting up off-line reading facilities, and more. David Andrews, Systems Operator (SysOp) of NFB NET, will also answer your questions.
If you don't know what the above paragraph means and you would
like to, perhaps you had better attend the annual NFB NET training session on
Saturday, June 29, starting at 9:00 a.m. See you online.
Public Employees Division
The Public Employees Division of the National Federation of the Blind will meet during this year's National Convention. We plan to meet at 1:00 p.m., Monday, July 1. One form of public employment is holding public office. In the National Federation of the Blind we have a number of elected public officials. Several will be invited to talk about their jobs and what they did to be elected. This panel will also include some who ran but were not elected.
There will also be an update on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires the federal government to make office equipment accessible to those who are blind or otherwise disabled.
Finally, we will have a panel of public employees tell about
their jobs. If you have questions or suggestions for additional speakers, please
contact John Halverson, President, National Federation of the Blind, Public
Employees Division, 403 West 62nd Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri 64113, (816)
426-7278 (work), (816) 361-7813 (home), and CompuServe 73132,153. See you in
Social Security Seminar
An outreach seminar (Social Security and Supplemental Security
Income: What Applicants, Advocates, and Recipients Should Know) will take place
on Wednesday afternoon, July 3. The purpose of this seminar, which will be conducted
jointly by the National Federation of the Blind and the Social Security Administration,
is to provide information on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income
benefits for the blind. Seminar presenters will be Sharon Gold, National Federation
of the Blind Social Security specialist, and Tom Gloss, Special Assistant to
the Associate Commissioner for Disability, Office of Disability, Social Security
The Writers' Division of the NFB will host children's books author Joan Prestine for a workshop on Saturday, June29. The three-hour workshop will feature her discussion on writing, hot topics of the moment, and how-tos on getting published. Joan has published several books and teaches college classes, workshops, and seminars.
Registration will begin at 1:15 p.m. A $10 fee for the workshop will be charged. This should be an especially interesting and productive workshop.
At the division meeting on Monday, July 1, at 1:30 p.m., writer
Jack Adams will present an hour of information regarding situation-comedy writing
and novel publishing. Himself a writer of some note, Mr. Adams will also have
a question-and-answer session. Division dues are $10 annually.
RELIGION AND DISABILITY
by Maureen Pranghofer
From the Editor: Maureen Pranghofer is an active member
of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota. She is also interested
in improving the opportunities that blind people have to participate in their
chosen worshipping communities. This is what she has to say:
Though a version of this article was originally published in Access Press, it has relevance in the blind community as well. I have no ministry degrees or initials denoting religious affiliation following my name. I'm just a person who happens to be totally blind and who happens to use a wheelchair. And I'm someone who has talked to plenty of lonely, disabled people in my fifteen plus years of working in the field of rehabilitation and education.
I recall vividly the first time I suggested to one of my clients that perhaps joining a church might be a way of making some new friends and decreasing his loneliness. He responded with true sadness in his voice, "I tried going to a church, but no one would talk to me. They were so uncomfortable around me. You could just feel it."
Because I'd been fortunate enough to have had relatively good church experiences during the last several years, I dismissed this comment as referring to an unusually unfriendly congregation. However, in the eight years since I first spoke with this client, I have had the unhappy experience of having this scenario repeated time and time again.
Persons with disabilities face many attitudinal barriers. But it seems that the myths surrounding those of us who are disabled are even more deeply ingrained in houses of worship than in society at large. The myths I've found to be most prevalent when talking to persons with disabilities about their religious experiences are these:
* People who are disabled need special services. A commonly held belief is that, if you are disabled, you are in need of special ministry. I refer here to something beyond ministry as a form of helping or counseling, for the term "ministry," when referring to anyone with a disability, all too often means a segregated or specialized service.
This segregated ministry should be the exception but is more frequently the rule. Consequently, worshipping communities sometimes get the wrong impression. They assume that they will be unable to minister to disabled people at all unless they have a ministry specifically for the disabled, and the idea of providing unique services is frightening to most religious groups, which don't believe they have the necessary training or skills to do the job.
* People who are disabled have an extraordinary relationship with God that is somehow different from that of the average congregant. Because of this misconception people often put disabled persons on spiritual pedestals. This assumption distances people from each other and makes relationships difficult.
* The only religious need people with disabilities have is to receive ministry. The widely held misconception that it must be positively miserable to be disabled helps perpetuate this myth. Many people believe that the reason people who are disabled attend houses of worship is because they are depressed. While some believe that people with disabilities always need spiritual help, they are simultaneously terrified to provide it when it is actually needed. This myth fuels the erroneous notion that people who are disabled are capable only of receiving, never giving. Consequently these congregations resist allowing disabled people to make contributions of any kind to the life of the community.
* People who are disabled desire healing of the disability. In my many discussions with disabled persons regarding their religious experience, the episodes involving this myth seem to have been the most damaging to them. Assuming that one desires to be healed implies that one is dissatisfied with one's identity. It suggests subtly that the individual is somehow not okay.
Though all these myths have been embedded to varying degrees in worshipping communities throughout time, they are not blatantly obvious. They are elusive, hidden, and damaging. Though unintentionally perpetuated, these myths have left a bad taste in the mouths of some disabled worshipers.
On the other hand, there are churches and synagogues that have tried to change their members' attitudes, that truly do minister to disabled participants in active, equal, healthy ways. This kind of ministry looks totally different from the myths. It allows persons with disabilities the opportunity to:
* Be integrated in the church body without having their disabilities ignored. Not being relegated to participate only in the disability ministry allows one the freedom and dignity to be as much a part of the congregation as any other worshiper.
* Not be spiritually set aside or looked up to as having relationships with God that are different from those of the rest of the community. This allows disabled worshippers the freedom to admit the same spiritual struggles and triumphs as any other person.
* Give as well as receive. When it is needed, ministry should be given to disabled persons who are going through hard times, whether or not they are related to disability. But the simple acknowledgement that disabled people have ministries too allows them to offer these gifts to the benefit of the entire community. The result is that many roles, including those in leadership, become open to people with disabilities.
* Be allowed the dignity to experience and explore healings of many kinds.
Talking openly about these myths and their healthy alternatives is the most effective way of bringing about change. Prayer, education, and information are key components of changing these myths into true ministries.
At the NFB convention in Chicago last summer, interested people had an opportunity to share their good and bad experiences in houses of worship openly and honestly. It became clear that many of the myths were more than alive and well. In order to clarify the problem and provide a safe place for people to share their experiences of discrimination against blind people in worshipping communities, a group will again gather this summer at the Anaheim convention. We hope that in time an NFB division will develop to work toward removing some of the barriers facing blind people in houses of worship.
For further information contact the Rev. Robert Parish, 3216
A Calumet Drive, Raleigh, North Carolina 27610, (919) 250-0998.
[#18 PHOTO/CAPTION: Pat Munson]
CALIFORNIA: A STATE OF MANY FACES
by Pat and Jack Munson
From the Editor: Not many weeks are left between now and the fifty-sixth convention of the National Federation of the Blind. If you have not made your room reservation, you have no time to lose. The dates are Saturday, June 29, through Friday, July 5. Here are the convention room rates: singles, $45 per night; doubles, $47; triples, $54; and quads, $57. In addition to the room rates, there is a tax--just under 15 percent at the time these rates were negotiated. There will be no charge for children in a room with parents as long as no extra bed is required. To make room reservations for the 1996 convention, write directly to the Anaheim Hilton, 777 Convention Way, Anaheim, California 92802-3497, Attention: Reservations; or call (714) 750-4321. Hilton has a national toll-free number, but do not (we emphasize not) use it. Reservations made through this national number will not be valid. They must be made directly with the Anaheim Hilton in Anaheim.
This convention will be unforgettable. We have not been
to California for twenty years, and our California affiliate is eager to show
everyone what we have been missing. Here is Pat and Jack Munson's final pre-convention
article about California:
When Americans think about the history of California, they usually conjure up pictures of pioneers moving west. This is true, but the land area we call California has had a varied and changing population. It also boasts scenic and diverse landscapes.
Historians are pretty well agreed that the people we now call Native Americans were the first people to inhabit the area we now call California. They probably migrated across Russia, into Alaska, through Canada, down the coast past Washington and Oregon, and finally down into California. Finding a mild climate along the Pacific coast, many Indian tribes were content to stay near the ocean, living off the local fish, game, and wild berries. Others moved inland and learned how to cope with high and low temperatures. We know all this, because many tribes still make their homes today in every part of the state.
All was well with these people until the Spanish conquered Mexico and moved north into California. Then the British came by ship, and even the Russians built a fort about a third of the way down the Pacific coast of California, from which they could ship valuable animal skins back to their country. The latter two nations have left a trace of their presence, but the Spanish were the first to colonize California (which at one time the Spanish believed to have been inhabited by tribes of Amazons).
Starting at San Diego, a city close to the Mexican border in the south, the Spanish built twenty-one missions north along the Pacific coast--each one a day's horse-back ride beyond the last. Mission twenty is in the middle of San Francisco, and the twenty-first is at Sonoma in the heart of the wine country.
The Spanish sent soldiers out to persuade Indians into the missions to work and to be converted to Christianity. It was not long after this that pioneers from the East began arriving, attracted by the beautiful weather, the magnificent scenery, and the chance for a new life. Once gold was found in 1849, the United States appropriated, many would say stole, the land from Mexico; and California became a state in 1850.
In the 1860's Chinese workers were brought to California to assist in building the transcontinental railroad. This was a dangerous undertaking, for the tracks ascended the northeastern Sierra mountains, crossing into Nevada near Lake Tahoe. Immigrants began pouring into the state from all over the world. Newcomers from Japan started farming in the central part of the state, while many Italians settled north of San Francisco, where their presence can still be seen today. Of course many Mexicans remained in California following statehood and helped produce much of the prosperity for which the state is famous. African-Americans have also played their part, traveling to California by the thousands during the Second World War to meet the needs of the many industries that sprang up during and after the war. All these groups together--the Spanish, Indians, Chinese, pioneers, Japanese, African-Americans, and the most recent immigrants--account for California's tremendous vitality today.
The long east side of the state is guarded by the mighty Sierra Mountains. The northern part of the state still has beautiful giant redwood trees, mighty rivers, additional mountains, and the Pacific Ocean, which forms its border on the west. Moving south toward San Francisco, you find the lovely areas which produce much of the state's wine. To the east and slightly north is Sacramento, the state capital. Close by is Sutter's Mill, where gold was discovered and the claim recorded at the beautiful city of Monterey, then the capital of Alta California.
Most people are somewhat familiar with San Francisco. The city was turned upside down after the gold rush when ships from around the world docked there to unleash the gold hungry "Argonauts." San Francisco had barely recovered from that when it was struck by a tremendous earthquake and fire in 1906. Nothing has ever stopped this city, and with the building of the Golden Gate and the Oakland Bay Bridges in the late 1930's, the City by the Bay became far more accessible to the rest of the state and the nation.
Of great interest to Federationists is the fact that the founder of the National Federation of the Blind, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, lived in Berkeley across the bay from San Francisco and taught at the University of California at Berkeley. Until a decade or so ago, the California School for the Blind was also located in Berkeley.
Moving south along the Pacific coast, one comes to the town of Monterey, which was the seat of government under Mexican rule. The center of the state is mostly farm land, stretching from the coast on the west to the mountains on the east. Yosemite, one of the most famous national parks, is located in the eastern central section of California, John Muir wrote graphically of the beauty of the park more than a hundred years ago. The mighty hand of nature is overwhelming. Towering mountains serve as the backdrop for countless waterfalls, which allow water to flow into rapidly-moving rivers and streams.
Traveling down the coast toward Los Angeles, one continually comes upon the old Spanish missions, some still in use, others being restored. William Randolph Hearst build a castle for his private use at San Simeon, and many interesting ethnic communities dot the area. As one nears Los Angeles, one comes to Santa Barbara, a large and interesting city to visit and investigate.
The City of Angels, Los Angeles in Spanish, is famous to all, as is Palm Springs to the east and the Mojave Desert. The desert is vast and would never have developed as it has if not for the work projects established in the 1930's. Water, the life blood of civilization, was piped many, many miles underground from the Colorado River. Much of the farming in the southern part of the state would not exist without this water. As a matter of fact, much of southern California would be desert without this miraculous supply of water.
South of Los Angeles is Orange County, with its famous Disneyland. It is here that we will hold our 1996 Convention. This semi-arid area is flat and rather warm in summer. (Being close to Mexico, the climate is warm most of the year.)
San Diego is the large city nearest Mexico. If you do not like flat land, there are mountains near at hand. If this does not suit you, there are many islands up and down the Pacific coast.
California is at once a dream and a reality. It has seen a steady stream of visionaries come and go throughout its short and spectacular history. One of these visionaries was Walt Disney, a man who was considered crazy when he first broached the idea of a theme park based on his cartoon family. Banks and industries laughed at him and considered his Disneyland vision complete fantasy--much as some considered the founding of the National Federation of the Blind by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek to be a pipe dream. The very idea that there could be an organization of the blind, run by the blind, was considered fantastic and dangerous. Walt Disney persisted against seemingly insurmountable odds to found Disneyland, which, like the National Federation of the Blind, has proven to be successful beyond its founder's wildest dreams.
California is a state established by generations of Spanish settlers, Indian tribes, pioneers, gold seekers, farmers, and builders, movie stars, and madmen like Walt Disney and Jacobus tenBroek. These are the men and women who broke the mold to produce a state unlike any other. California is the land of golden dreams. Come join us at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel and become part of our California dreaming.
When the gold miners traveled to, and then left, California,
they used to say that they had seen the elephant, meaning that they had tasted
the highs and lows of life as a miner in California and now understood what
the dream of discovery was about. They had, in essence, felt the legs, the trunk,
the ears, and the tail of the beast and were now much the wiser. In conclusion
let us say, "Come to Anaheim and see the Mouse and, of most importance
to the blind, experience the National Federation of the Blind in convention
MEDICARE FACTS FOR 1996
by James Gashel
From the Editor: Jim Gashel is the Director of Governmental
Affairs for the National Federation of the Blind.
In the January 1996, issue of the Braille Monitor, we reported the annual Social Security program adjustments now in effect for 1996. The article was titled "Social Security and SSI Facts for 1996." Since changes are made in Social Security programs at the beginning of each new year, we ordinarily report the new information in the Monitor. Medicare facts are usually included. Due to the controversy over the federal budget, changes in Medicare for 1996 had not been decided, however, when our January article was prepared. That controversy is not yet settled, but the Medicare facts for 1996 are. Here are the new facts for 1996:
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 hospital services within a benefit period of not longer than sixty days was $716 during 1995 and is increased to $736 during 1996. Beginning the sixty-first day through the ninetieth day, there is a daily co-insurance amount of $184 per day, up from $179 in 1995. Each Medicare beneficiary has sixty "reserve days" for hospital services provided within a benefit period longer then ninety days. The co-insurance amount to be paid during each reserve day is $368, up from $358 in 1995.
Part A of Medicare pays all covered charges for services in a skilled nursing facility for the first twenty days within a benefit period. From the twenty-first day through the one hundredth day within a benefit period, the Part A co-insurance amount for services received in a skilled nursing facility is $92 per day, up from $89.50 in 1995.
For most beneficiaries there is no monthly premium charge for Medicare Part A coverage. People who become eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance cash benefits can continue to receive Medicare Part A coverage premium-free for thirty-nine months following the end of a trial work period. After that time the individual may purchase Part A coverage. The premium rate for this coverage during 1996 is $289 per month. During 1996 this premium rate is $188 for individuals who have earned at least thirty quarters of coverage under Social Security covered employment.
The Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductible remains
at $100 in 1996. This is an annual deductible amount. The Medicare Part B basic
monthly premium rate will decrease from $46.10 charged to each beneficiary and
withheld from Social Security checks in 1995 to $42.50 per month during 1996.
Medicare Part B coverage may be continued for those who complete a trial work
period and become ineligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance
cash benefits. This monthly premium rate is $42.50, the same amount paid by
Social Security beneficiaries through withholding from their monthly Social
Programs Which Help with Medicare Deductibles and Premiums: Low-income Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for help with payments. Assistance is available through two programs--QMB (Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program) and SLMB (Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiary program). Under the QMB program states are required to pay the Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance expenses for Medicare beneficiaries who meet the program's income and resource requirements. Under the SLMB program states pay only the full Medicare Part B monthly premium ($42.50 in 1996). Eligibility for the SLMB program may be retroactive for up to three calendar months.
Both programs are administered by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) in conjunction with the states. The rules vary from state to state; but in general: An individual may qualify for the QMB program if his or her income is near the national poverty level, approximately $7,980 annually for an individual ($665 per month) and $10,608 annually for a family of two (or $884 per month). These amounts apply for residents of forty-eight of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. In Alaska the income threshold used to define poverty is approximately $9,576 annually for an individual (or $798 per month) and $12,780 annually for a family of two (or $1,065 per month).
In Hawaii the income threshold used to define poverty is approximately $8,856 (or $738 per month) annually for an individual and $11,796 annually (or $983 per month) for a family of two.
For the SLMB program annual income must be 110 percent or less of the national poverty levels. Under both programs $20 in monthly income is not counted toward the limit. Resources -such as bank accounts or stocks -may not exceed $4,000 for one person or $6,000 for a family of two. (Resources generally are things you own. However, not everything is counted: the house you live in, for example, doesn't count, and in some circumstances your car may not count either.)
Here's an idea of what the QMB program provides in 1996. Under Part A the hospital insurance deductibles are $736 for the first sixty days of a hospital stay and $184 per day for days sixty-one through ninety in the hospital. The QMB program will pay these expenses for eligible beneficiaries. However, to qualify for help under the QMB program, you must file an application. If you think you qualify but you have not filed for Medicare Part A, contact Social Security to find out if you need to file an application. Further information about filing for Medicare is available from your local Social Security office or Social Security's toll-free number, (800) 772-1213. Remember, only your state can decide if you're eligible for help from the QMB or SLMB program. So, if you're elderly or disabled, have low income and very limited assets, and are a Medicare beneficiary, contact your state or local welfare or social service agency to apply. For further information about either program, call HCFA's toll-free telephone number, (800) 638-6833.
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 the 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."
[#19 PHOTO/CAPTION: Betty Capps]
This month's recipes were contributed by Betty Capps, the First
Lady of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and a wonderful
cook, as you will see.
CHOCOLATE TORTE PIE
This is the favorite pie at the Capps house.
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
1/2 pint whipping cream
Method: Beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form; gradually
beat in sugar until stiff peaks form; fold in nuts, vanilla, and chocolate crumbs;
spread in 9-inch, lightly buttered pie plate; bake at 325 degrees for thirty
to thirty-five minutes. When cool, spread with whipped cream, sweetened to taste.
Decorate edge with more cookie crumbs. Chill several hours or overnight.
RASPBERRY LINZER COOKIES
"These wonderful cookies require a bit of extra effort
to make and assemble, but the delight on the faces of family and friends when
I serve them makes it all worthwhile."
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup raspberry preserves
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Method: In a mixing bowl cream butter. Gradually add 2/3 cup
sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating
well after each addition. Combine flour, gradually add to creamed mixture, and
mix well. Shape dough into a ball, chill for thirty to forty-five minutes or
until firm. On a surface dusted with confectioner's sugar, roll out half of
the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, and cut with a 2«-inch doughnut cutter so that
the center is cut out of each cookie. Roll out the other half of dough in the
same way and cut it using a 2-inch cookie cutter. Beat egg whites until frothy.
Combine almonds and remaining sugar. Brush all cookies with egg white and sprinkle
with the almond mixture. Place them on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees
for six to eight minutes or until lightly browned. Remove immediately to wire
racks to cool completely. Spread two teaspoons of raspberry preserves over the
plain side of solid cookies. Place cookies with centers cut out, almond side
up, on top of the preserves, making a sandwich. Yields about two dozen.
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow cream
« cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 5-ounce can chow mein noodles
1 cup pastel-colored M&M's
Pastel-colored peanut M&M's
Method: In mixing bowl, beat marshmallow cream, peanut butter,
and butter until smooth. Fold in noodles and M&M's. Chill until easy to
handle. On waxed paper form mixture by 1/3-cupfuls into 3-inch nests. Chill
for thirty minutes. Dust with confectioner's sugar. Place several peanut M&M's
in each nest. Yields nine servings. Place one at each place setting at Easter
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Method: In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs,
lemon juice, and peel. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into creamed
mixture alternately with milk. Pour into a greased 8-by-4-by-2-inch loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for forty-five minutes or until bread tests done. Remove
bread from pan and immediately drizzle with glaze. (To make glaze, combine two
tablespoons lemon juice and « cup confectioner's sugar.) Cool on wire rack.
Yields one loaf.
ONION ROASTED POTATOES
The potatoes are slightly crisp on the outside and tender on
the inside. This side dish is a favorite because the soup mix glazes the potatoes
beautifully and the dish is simple to prepare.
2 pounds red potatoes, sliced « inches thick
« cup vegetable oil
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
Method: Combine all ingredients in a large plastic bag, shake
until well coated. Empty bag into an ungreased 13-by- 9-by 2-inch baking pan.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for thirty-five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Uncover and bake fifteen minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. Yields
six to eight servings.
This recipe could hardly be simpler to prepare. The chicken
gets a wonderful tangy taste, and no one will know you used convenient ingredients
like a bottle of salad dressing and onion soup mix, unless you tell them.
1 16-ounce bottle Russian or Catalina salad dressing
2/3 cup apricot preserves
2 envelopes dry onion soup mix
16 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Method: In a bowl combine dressing, preserves, and soup mix.
Place chicken in two ungreased 11-by-7-by-2-inch baking pans, top with dressing
mixture. Cover and bake for twenty minutes at 350 degrees. Baste, and bake uncovered
twenty minutes longer or until chicken juices run clear. Yields sixteen servings.
[#20 PHOTO/CAPTION: The sign at the entrance to Disneyland]
Disneyland, Here We Come!
We have just received the following notice from Jim Willows, President of the National Federation of the Blind of California:
If you are coming to our 1996 National Convention in Anaheim, you certainly wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to go to Disneyland at greatly reduced rates. Disneyland is a pleasant walk from our convention hotel. The hotel also provides a complimentary shuttle to and from the park.
This fun event will take place on Saturday, June 29, the Saturday before convention-registration day. Ticket costs are $27 for adults and $21 for children under twelve. These rates are about thirty percent below Disneyland's regular prices. Your ticket pays for admission to the park and for all park rides and attractions.
Please send your ticket orders with payment in full by June 1, 1996. Make checks or money orders payable to the NFB of California. Send your orders and payment to NFB of California Disneyland Night, 3934 Kern Court, Pleasanton, California 94588.
Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto are looking forward
to seeing you all at Disneyland. Incidentally, how many of you can name all
seven of the dwarfs? They'll be there too.
The Greater Seattle Area Chapter of the National Federation
of the Blind of Washington held elections on January 20, 1996. The results are
as follows: Noel Nightingale, President; Rita Szantay, First Vice President;
Mark Noble, Second Vice President; Renee West, Secretary; and Gary Deeter, Treasurer.
Ben Prows and Denise Mackenstadt were elected to serve as Board members.
New Braille Editions Available:
We recently received the following notice from the Louis Braille Center:
The War of Dots, by Robert B. Irwin, is now available in Braille. The establishment of Standard English Braille in 1932 as a uniform raised-dot method of reading and writing for English-speaking countries was the result of a long and difficult battle. Mr. Irwin, who was an active participant in the effort, recounts the struggle in this absorbing essay. The book is eighty-two Braille pages and costs $10.
Other books available include a growing collection of Helen
Keller's books and essays. Ask for a free 1996 catalog when you contact Louis
Braille Center, 11050 5th Avenue, N.E., #204, Seattle, Washington 98125-6151.
You may call or fax (206) 368-8288.
The Jefferson City Chapter of the National Federation of the
Blind of Missouri recently held elections with the following results: Rita Lynch,
President; Jan Haas, Vice President; Dave Walker, Secretary; and Betty Walker,
Treasurer. New Board members are Brian Wekamp, Raymond Kliethermes, and Martha
Audio Magazine for Ham Radio Enthusiasts Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The RAIN Journal is a bimonthly, tone-indexed, audio cassette
publication for ham radio enthusiasts by Radio Amateur Information Network,
RAIN. Now in its fifth year, this ninety-minute magazine contains informative
interviews, stimulating excerpts from Dayton Hamvention forums, and thought-provoking
commentaries. Subscribers receive a Hansa Plastics free-matter mailer, reversible
laminated address card, and the first tape. The cost for one year (six issues)
is $17. To keep all six tapes, add $5. Make checks or money orders payable to
RAIN, P.O. Box 2565, Des Plaines, Illinois 60017-2565.
On December 1, 1995, the Omaha Chapter of the National Federation
of the Blind of Nebraska elected the following officers and board members: Bob
Simonson, President; Stacy Hayworth, First Vice President; Robert Newman, Second
Vice President; Nancy Flearl, Secretary; and Gail Larson, Treasurer. New Board
members are Craig Groff, Rick O'Malley, Alan Kopetzky, and John Klingman.
New Fitness Organization:
We recently received the following press release:
The Blind Bodybuilders Association (BBA) was founded to promote physical fitness and better health for the blind through weight training and exercise. Since many blind people do not practice good exercise habits, the BBA intends to encourage more blind people to get to their local gym or fitness center and get involved in a good exercise program or to work out at home. The BBA will provide information on how best to begin a workout program or fitness regimen and will also help educate blind people about different exercise programs, pitfalls and benefits of belonging to a gym or fitness center, and other aspects of getting fit and healthy. The Blind Bodybuilders Association will also publish a newsletter called The Muscle Gazette, which will be available in large print or on 4-track cassette tape. It will carry articles on workout programs, vitamins, proper dieting, diet supplementation, getting the most from your gym or fitness center as a blind or visually impaired member, etc.
The Blind Bodybuilders Association will also work to help gym
owners and fitness center managers understand the special needs of blind and
visually impaired members and how to help blind members access their facilities
and services better. Blind or visually impaired men and women who are interested
in becoming members of the Blind Bodybuilders Association or who want more information
about a fitness program may send their requests to Harry Martin, Blind Bodybuilders
Association, 2314 River Park Circle, #2111, Orlando, Florida 32817-4828. Requests
should be sent on cassette tape or typed. The Blind Bodybuilders Association
is a non-profit organization supported by member dues. Any blind or visually
impaired person may be a member.
At its January 13, 1996, meeting, the Central Florida Chapter
of the NFB of Florida installed the following officers: Jerry Heichelbeck, President;
Sherri Hicks, Vice President; Daniel Weiner, Secretary; and Kannie Loomis, Treasurer.
The Ft. Smith Regional Chapter of the NFB of Arkansas recently
held elections with the following results: Ralph Preston, President; Wretha
Preston, Vice President; Mary Belle Rea, Secretary; and Gary Hall, Treasurer.
Elected to serve on the Board were Grace Thrasher, Fannie Anglin, and Margaret
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
An almost-new Optacon II unit with a carrying case and rechargeable
battery is available for sale to the highest bidder. Please send Braille, cassette,
or print correspondence with your bid to P.O. Box 70 MTSU, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
37132. If you do not receive a reply within a month, the unit has already been
[#21 PHOTO/CAPTION: Donna Panaro]
A Hopeful Glimpse:
On Sunday, December 24, 1995, a story about several children
with various disabilities appeared in the Parade insert of The Baltimore
Sun. One of those mentioned was Kristin Panaro. Her mother Donna is active
in the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey and participated in a
hugely successful parent leadership seminar conducted last fall at the National
Center for the Blind and led by Barbara Cheadle, President of the National Organization
of Parents of Blind Children. The writer of the article was Eddie Adams. The
portion that dealt with Kristin was positive and filled with delight. Here it
Kristin Panaro, three (shown on the cover), dancing through the flowers singing. "She is an extremely happy child," says Donna Panaro of Oldbridge, New Jersey, of her daughter. Kristin was born without eyes.
"When she was born, I was devastated," recalls her mother, "but she is not so different from other children. She rolled over at three months, walked early, and loves Bruce Springsteen.
"My biggest problem is trying to get her to use a cane.
She thinks it's a toy."
Three cheers for blind children like Kristin, for their sensible parents, and for reporters who are able and willing to capture the story they have to tell.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Guy
Panuccio has for sale an AFB Money Identifier in excellent condition. Best offer
will be accepted. Contact him in print only at 86-14 101st Avenue, Ozone Park,
New York 11416.
Interactive Newsletter Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Have you ever been perplexed and amazed at the vagaries of human relationships? Have you had experiences or solved relationship problems in ways that might help others? Are there issues you would like others to help you with? If so, we invite you to join our interactive newsletter by sending for your free introductory cassette. Send us your name and address, with your phone number if you wish, in Braille or on cassette if possible. (Print can be managed, but your request will be delayed a few days.) Send to Pipeline, c/o Janiece Betker, 1886 29th Avenue, N.W., New Brighton, Minnesota 55112, (612) 631-2909. Leave name and address on the answering machine. Pipeline is a listen-to-and-return cassette.
Subscription fee is $15, made payable to Janiece Betker. Overseas members will be asked to add the cost of air mail if you want the newsletter in a timely fashion; otherwise we will send via free matter where permitted.
Help make this newsletter a great success. We want your views
in your own voice. Join our lively discussion group or sit back and listen for
a while if you prefer. Pipeline is beginning its fourth year of production with
new folks coming in as they hear about us. Send today for your free introductory
Optacon Production Discontinued:
We recently received the following press release:
TeleSensory has announced that it will cease production of its founding product, the Optacon, in December of 1996. The company has indicated that parts on hand are sufficient to satisfy the demand for finished units for approximately twelve months and to support the installed base until the turn of the century.
Although new sales have declined, there are still many staunch
Optacon users and supporters. In order that Optacon can continue to be available
for a number of years, TeleSensory has stated that it will seek opportunities
for assigning all technology rights to another organization without profit or
continuing benefit to itself. Interested parties should contact Yakov Soloveychik,
TeleSensory's Blindness Products Division General Manager at (415) 960-0920.
Product Search Service Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Introducing the Resource and Information Service (RIS) for
the Blind, a service that will find books, Braille services, tape recorders,
glucose monitors, scales, computers, and anything else you really need. Just
send a $10 check payable to Katie Ward, with a description of your problem to
RIS, P.O. Box 64745, Tucson, Arizona 85728-4745. You may use a tape, IBM-compatible
disk, or print to convey your problem, and we will research and send back the
answer in the same medium.
Computer Classes Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
I would like to offer DOS and Windows 95 training for your organization. Windows 95 is new, and many people need help with it. My classes consist of classroom lectures and a number of hands-on hours. I have completed Microsoft Windows classes and have received my certification. I would like to offer my services nationwide. Most of my classes would be given on the weekends; however, I will also offer a number of classes during the week.
Fees are negotiable. If interested, contact Homer Weston at
(800) 493-5993 or pager (800) 759-8888, PIN 1136189.
[#22 PHOTO/CAPTION: Carla McQuillan]
Blind Role Models and Mentors Needed for NFB Camp:
Carla McQuillan, Director of NFB Camp at this year's convention in Anaheim, recently made the following request: During National Convention week, the children in NFB Camp will need a variety of activities to keep them busy and entertained. One of the features that we hope to provide will be presentations from successful blind adults with varying professions, hobbies, or skills. If you match this description, plan to attend this year's National Convention in Anaheim, and would be interested in contributing your time and talents for a while in NFB Camp, please let me know. Letters may be sent to National Federation of the Blind of Oregon, P.O. Box 320, Thurston, Oregon 97482. Please include your name, address, and phone number, along with a brief description of the activity or presentation that you would like to offer.