The Braille Monitor

             Vol. 40, No. 2                                                                                                    February 1997

Barbara Pierce, editor

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The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President

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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

ISSN 0006-8829


Contents


         Vol. 40, No. 2                                                                                          February 1997

Mr. Gertstenberger Leaves Employment with the National Federation of the Blind
by Kenneth Jernigan

A Matter of Perspective: Discrimination in the Courts
by Marc Maurer

Decision in the Cheryl Fischer Case

Dissenting Opinion

New Book Sends Wrong Message to Parents
by Carol Castellano

Why I Am Choosing Blindness: Personal Reflections on the Need for a Functional Definition
by Scott Feldman

Special Notices for New Copyright Law
by James Gashel

Doing Business as Usual

Almost Heaven in '97--New Orleans--A Mecca for Fine Food
by Jerry Whittle

American Express Spotlights Curtis Chong

Performing the Average Job: A Question of Technology
by Curtis Chong

Albuquerque Public Library Mails VDS Videos Free Matter
by James L. Salas

NLS Contracts for Validation of National Literary Braille Competency Test

Recipes

Monitor Miniatures

 

Copyright 1997 National Federation of the Blind

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Duane Gerstenberger]

MR. GERSTENBERGER LEAVES EMPLOYMENT WITH THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

by Kenneth Jernigan

I first met Mr. Gerstenberger in 1973 when I employed him as a librarian at the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Shortly after the National Center for the Blind was established in Baltimore, he left Iowa to take employment with the Federation. During the last few years he has served as our Executive Director. As of January 31, 1997, he is resigning to move to the state of Washington. These are the unadorned facts, but they do not convey the closeness that many of us in the Federation have with Mr. Gerstenberger. He is part of the inner core of our movement.

Though sighted, he understands, believes, and lives our philosophy on a daily basis. He is more than an employee or colleague. He is as dedicated to our cause and as committed to our effort as any member we have.

On a personal note, I trust and rely on Mr. Gerstenberger to the ultimate. That will not change as he leaves formal employment with the Federation. He will be in New Orleans this summer, supervising the exhibit hall as usual.

 

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Marc Maurer]

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE:
DISCRIMINATION IN THE COURTS

by Marc Maurer

Cheryl Fischer is a blind woman in her thirties living in Ohio. Eight years ago she applied for admission to Case Western Reserve medical school. Her grades justified the application. The medical school apparently considered the application with caution, suspicion, and fear. Rather than permitting the application to be considered in the usual customary process, the medical school established a separate committee to review the application and to determine whether it would be accepted or rejected. The members of the special ad hoc admission committee interviewed Cheryl Fischer; they expressed their belief that no blind person could be a doctor; and they rejected the application.

If the ad hoc admissions committee of the school is correct, the decision they reached is fair, rational, and prudent. If it is incorrect, the decision is a case of discrimination. Cheryl Fischer said that her purpose in matriculating at the medical school was to become a psychiatrist. She is not the first blind person who has sought to participate in this profession. There are blind people practicing psychiatry today. However, this is not the only medical profession in which the blind are participants.

In the late 1960's I met a dentist who had become blind. He was serving as a medical officer for the city of Omaha, Nebraska. His duties included the design and implementation of educational programs to assist school children and personnel in the city to increase their dental health. Before I met this dentist, I would have been absolutely certain that no blind person could participate in the dental profession in any way. And, of course, I would have been completely wrong.

I suspect it is fair to say that most human beings feel reluctant to permit blind people to enter the medical profession or practice in it. The reaction is heartfelt and personal--I don't want some blind doctor cutting on me! However, this reaction ignores a fundamental reality. It is not vision that makes a good doctor but mental capacity, experience, and the proper caring spirit.

There have been dozens of blind people in the medical profession. Most of these practitioners learned the technicalities of medical practice before they became blind. However, Dr. David Hartman attended medical school at Temple University as a blind student.

In the late 70's and early 80's a practitioner of family medicine in Louisiana, Dr. Spencer Lewis, lost his sight. Despite his blindness Dr. Lewis's patients continued to seek medical services from him. Dr. Lewis performed well as a doctor. For example, he delivered a child for one of the long-time leaders in the Federation, Joanne Wilson.

When Dr. Lewis lost his sight, the Louisiana Medical Board decided that his license to practice medicine should be revoked. However, Dr. Lewis's patients felt trust and confidence in him. They did not want to lose his services. With the help of the National Federation of the Blind, Dr. Lewis fought to retain his license, and he won.

This brings us back to the Cheryl Fischer case, which began in 1988. When her application to attend Case Western Reserve medical school was rejected, Cheryl Fischer filed a complaint of discrimination with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. After considering the evidence, the Commission issued a decision in favor of Cheryl Fischer. The medical school appealed to the Ohio courts. The trial court considered the case and agreed with the Civil Rights Commission--discrimination had occurred against Cheryl Fischer, the judge said. Once again the school appealed. The appeals court reversed the decision of the trial court, and the case was sent to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

In the decision which was reached in Ohio's highest court, there are two classically different methods of approach. The four-judge majority that decided against Cheryl Fischer concentrated on individual details. These judges explained a beyond the capacity of any blind person. They said that a blind student cannot read an X-ray or "observe" the patient. They said that the use of an assistant to read the X-ray or describe the coloring of the patient is an inadequate substitute for the personal observation of the physician. These four judges concluded that the decision of the ad hoc admissions committee of Case Western Reserve medical school was correct--no blind person possesses the capacity to perform adequately as a medical student or a doctor, they said.

The other three judges on the Ohio Supreme Court dissented. These judges took a completely different approach. They said that prejudging an individual without permitting that person to try is prejudice and that declaring an entire class to be ineligible based on the characteristic of that class, without first examining the individuals who make up the class, is the most classic sort of discriminatory behavior. In the specific instance of Cheryl Fischer they pointed out that she was not offered the opportunity to try. It was determined that her efforts would be inadequate regardless of her skills, regardless of her performance, regardless of her mental capacity, and regardless of the techniques she might employ. This is unacceptable under the law because it is discriminatory, they said.

It will come as no surprise to readers of the Braille Monitor that I agree with the dissenting judges. Discrimination has occurred in the Cheryl Fischer case. It occurred in the admissions process at Case Western Reserve University; it occurred in the decision-making process of the ad hoc admissions committee; it occurred in the Court of Appeals; and it occurred in the Ohio Supreme Court. Although we made an effort to present to the court the case for the capacity of blind people, our efforts were unsuccessful. The prejudice against blindness in the minds of the Supreme Court judges in Ohio prevailed.

However, this decision is not the last word on the opportunity for blind people to participate in medical school and the medical profession. Prejudice can be overcome with determination and education. We will raise the matter again. The prejudice which exists against blind people may be widespread, but it is less today than it was when the National Federation of the Blind came into being in 1940. The Cheryl Fischer case has been lost, but there will be another case. Sooner or later we will win. We believe in what we do, and we cannot be discouraged by a temporary setback--no matter how dramatic it may appear. Although we occasionally lose skirmishes and we sometimes lose battles, we never lose a war because the war is never over until we win. Here is the opinion of the Ohio Supreme Court. And, of more importance, here also is the dissenting opinion of that court.

 

DECISION IN THE CHERYL FISCHER CASE OHIO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION ET AL., APPELLANTS, V. CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, APPELLEE.

Civil Rights Commission--Elements of prima facie case of discrimination in education under R.C. 4112.022(A)--"Otherwise qualified" handicapped person, defined.

1. A prima facie case of discrimination in education under R.C. 4112.022(A) includes three elements: (1) the plaintiff is a handicapped person within the meaning of R.C. 4112.01(A)(13); (2) the plaintiff is otherwise qualified to participate in the program; and (3) the plaintiff is being excluded from the program on the basis of a handicap.

2. An "otherwise qualified" handicapped person is one who is able to safely and substantially perform an educational program's essential requirements with reasonable accommodation. An accommodation is not reasonable where it requires fundamental alterations in the essential nature of the program or imposes an undue financial or administrative burden.

(No. 95-387--Submitted March 6, 1996--Decided July 31, 1996.)

APPEAL from the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County, No. 66721.

Plaintiff-appellant, Ohio Civil Rights Commission ("OCRC"), appeals from a decision approving Case Western Reserve University's ("CWRU") denial of a blind candidate's application for admission to its medical school.

Plaintiff-appellant, Cheryl A. Fischer ("Fischer"), completely lost her vision during her junior year of undergraduate study at CWRU. To accommodate Fischer's handicap while she pursued a chemistry degree, CWRU provided Fischer with lab assistants and readers, modified the written exams to oral ones, and extended the time periods in which to take exams. Fischer also used a closed circuit television to magnify images before she totally lost her sight and books on tape to assist her. Thus, in spite of her handicap, Fischer successfully completed all of CWRU's academic requirements and received her baccalaureate degree, cum laude, in 1987.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Cheryl Fischer]

Following graduation, Fischer sought admission to medical school. All medical colleges in the United States belong to the Association of American Medical Colleges ("AAMC"). In January, 1979, the AAMC adopted the "Report of the Special Advisory Panel on Technical Standards for Medical School Admission." The AAMC Technical Standards Report requires candidates for a medical school degree to have the ability to observe. Specifically, the report states, "[t]he candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. . . . A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation." The Technical Report further states, "a candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary means that a candidate's judgment must be mediated by someone else's power of selection and observation." Although medical colleges are not required to follow the Technical Standards Report, the AAMC encouraged medical schools to use it as a guideline in developing their own standards.

In 1987 Cheryl applied to the medical school at CWRU.1 CWRU used the AAMC Technical Standards Report as a guideline in evaluating the four thousand to five thousand preliminary applications received annually for a class total of one hundred thirty-eight.2 Due to Fischer's sufficient academic credentials and extraordinary letters of recommendation, Dr. Albert C. Kirby, Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at CWRU's medical school, granted Fischer an interview. Subsequently Dr. Kirby placed Fischer on an alternate list but ultimately denied her application. The following year Fischer reapplied to CWRU.3

In this second application process Fischer was one of seven hundred applicants granted an interview and the only applicant to be interviewed by three Admission Committee members: Dr. Kirby, Dr. Richard B. Fratianne, and Dr. Mildred Lam. Dr. Kirby believed that CWRU should accept Fischer into the class. Drs. Fratianne and Lam concluded that a blind student would be unable to complete the requirements of the medical school program.

CWRU's four-year curriculum consists of three basic components: the core academic program, the flexible program, and the patient-based program. The core academic program occupies the medical student's first two years and is taught using traditional methods such as lectures, lab experiments, and textbooks. The core academic program consists of study in the basic sciences, such as anatomy, histology, pathology, and physiology. The flexible program consists of electives, allowing students to engage in independent research and study in a specific area. The patient-based program includes clerkships in internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and primary care. In these different clerkships students provide direct patient care. For example, students must perform a complete physical exam, review laboratory test results, review patient charts, and perform basic medical procedures, such as starting an I.V., administering medications through veins, drawing blood, and responding in emergency situations. The surgery clerkship includes rotations in the emergency room and intensive care unit.

After interviewing Fischer, Dr. Fratianne, Associate Professor of Surgery at CWRU, concluded that Fischer would be unable to complete the medical school program. He believed that due to her lack of vision, Fischer would be unable to exercise independent judgment when reading an X-ray, unable to start an I.V., and unable to effectively participate in the surgery clerkship.

Following an interview with Fischer, Dr. Lam, Associate Professor of Medicine at CWRU, concluded that a blind student would be unable to complete the first and second year courses in the basic sciences which required the student to observe and identify various tissues and organ structures. For example, histology requires a student to identify tissue and organ structures through a microscope, and pathology requires a student to observe how such structures are affected by disease. She believed that no accommodation would enable a blind student to complete these course requirements.

Dr. Lam further opined that a blind medical student could not complete the third and fourth year clerkships. A blind student would be unable to start an I.V., draw blood, take night call, react in emergency situations, or pass the objective clinical exam which required a student to perform a physical exam and read an EKG and an X-ray. Dr. Lam prepared a list of forty-three medical conditions, such as jaundice or a patient's state of consciousness, which require good vision to diagnose. Dr. Lam also listed twenty-one medical procedures, such as arterial line placement, which require good vision. Dr. Lam concluded that an intermediary could not assist a blind medical student because use of an intermediary would require extra time that is not available in an emergency situation, and the observations during and the accuracy of the physical exam would be "only as good as the intermediary." Fischer recalled that during the interview, Dr. Lam commented that the "whole concept" of a blind medical student was "ridiculous."

After the three interviews and after consulting other CWRU medical school professors and students, CWRU's Admissions Committee, by a unanimous vote, denied Fischer's application.4 Although the committee was aware of Dr. David Hartman, a psychiatrist who graduated from Temple University School of Medicine while totally blind in 1976, the committee did not contact Dr. Hartman or Temple University.

Dr. Hartman's experience affected the decision-making in this case. Temple University, in 1972, voluntarily increased the size of the incoming class by one to accept Dr. Hartman. To facilitate his first two years of study in the basic sciences, Dr. Hartman used a raised-line drawing board to diagram and illustrate various structures. Postdoctoral or graduate students privately tutored Dr. Hartman by describing to him the slides of structures under microscope and using the raised-line drawing board. Other medical students also assisted Dr. Hartman by describing experiments they conducted and otherwise sharing information. Dr. Hartman also listened to books on tapes, used readers, and relied on his sense of touch for classes such as anatomy.

In virtually all of his first and second year courses Dr. Hartman required one-on-one assistance from his professors. Dr. Hartman estimated that the professors in the anatomy department, which included courses in gross anatomy, neuroanatomy, embryology, and histology, spent double or triple the time tutoring him than they spent tutoring the average student. John R. Troyer, Ph.D., a professor who was on the faculty at Temple when Dr. Hartman attended, believed that the extra time he spent with Dr. Hartman took away from time he had to tutor other students. For this reason Dr. Troyer had reservations about accepting another blind student.

Professors at Temple also modified their lectures to accommodate Dr. Hartman. For example, professors diagrammed structures on the raised line drawing board that the other students viewed under a microscope and verbally described processes instead of visually demonstrating them. One professor even sat next to Dr. Hartman during class and described procedures being conducted in a class demonstration.

To facilitate his clerkships, Dr. Hartman would have a nurse, another student, the resident, or intern perform parts of a physical examination which required visual observations and describe their observations to him. Another student or a nurse would read patient charts and laboratory test results to him. Dr. Hartman could not start an I.V. without the supervision and assistance of a nurse and could not read an X-ray without relying on a radiologist.

During the surgical clerkship Dr. Hartman spent only one or two days a week for three to four hours a day in surgery, where other students spent six or seven hours a day every day in surgery. Instead of being placed on night call alone, Dr. Hartman was paired with another student because the hospital relied on medical students to start I.V.s and draw blood. Dr. Hartman's testimony revealed that his successful completion of the school's requirements depended on the willingness of the faculty and other students to spend the extra time describing and sharing information with him.

Following the second denial of Fischer's application to medical school, Fischer filed a complaint with the OCRC, alleging that CWRU had discriminated against her by denying her admission to the medical school on the basis of her handicap. After an investigation OCRC found it probable that CWRU engaged in discriminatory practices in violation of R.C. 4112.022 and filed a complaint and notice of hearing.5

Following the hearing the examiner concluded that CWRU had not discriminated against Fischer and recommended dismissal of her complaint. The hearing examiner found that (1) Fischer could not complete the first two years of CWRU's requirements unless CWRU was willing to accommodate Fischer's handicap beyond what is legally required and was willing to place an undue burden on its teaching faculty, and (2) Fischer could not successfully complete the core clerkships without substantial modification to the essential nature of the program.

Upon its review of the hearing examiner's report, OCRC came to a different conclusion. Relying heavily upon Dr. Hartman's experience, OCRC concluded that Fischer could complete the medical school program with reasonable accommodations that would not modify the essential nature of its program. OCRC further found that CWRU violated an affirmative duty to gather substantial information to ascertain whether Fischer could benefit from the medical school's program. Finding CWRU had discriminated against Fischer, OCRC issued a cease and desist order and ordered CWRU to admit Fischer into its next class.

CWRU appealed to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, which found that reliable, probative, and substantial evidence supported OCRC's findings of fact and conclusions of law and affirmed the OCRC order. The Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County reversed, holding that the record did not support the trial court's finding that admitting Fischer would not necessitate a modification of the essential nature of the program and would not place an undue burden on CWRU. The court of appeals determined that the trial court had abused its discretion by relying upon Dr. Hartman's experience at Temple University and in finding that Temple made only reasonable accommodations. This cause is now before the court upon the allowance of a discretionary appeal.

Betty D. Montgomery, Attorney General, Jeffrey S. Sutton, State Solicitor, Nancy Holland Myers and Denise M. Johnson, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellant Ohio Civil Rights Commission. Gary, Naegele & Theado, Thomas A. Downie and Robert D. Gary Lorain; Robert A. Dixon, Cleveland; Zygmunt G. Slominski, Guaynobo, PR; and Russell D. Kornblut, Miami, FL, for appellant Cheryl A. Fischer.

Kelley, McCann & Livingstone, Joel A. Makee, Mark J. Valponi and Colleen Treml, Cleveland, for appellee.

Ohio Legal Rights Service, Jane P. Perry and Robert S. Mills, Columbus, urging reversal for amici curiae, Ohio Legal Rights Service and National Federation of the Blind of Ohio.

Spater, Gittes, Schulte & Kolman, Kathaleen B. Schulte and Frederick M. Gittes, urging reversal for amicus curiae, Ohio Employment Lawyers Association.

Chester, Willcox & Saxbe and Charles R. Saxbe, Columbus, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, Daniel F. Goldstein and Dana Whitehead, Baltimore, MD, urging reversal for amici curiae, National Federation of the Blind and American Society of Handicapped Physicians.

Betty D. Montgomery, Attorney General, Simon B. Karas, Deputy Chief Counsel, and John C. Dowling, Assistant Attorney General, urging affirmance for amici curiae, Ohio's Public Medical Schools.

Joseph A. Keyes, Jr., Washington, DC, Kirk B. Johnson and Michael L. Ile, Chicago, IL, urging affirmance for amici curiae, Association of American Medical Colleges and American Medical Association.

Majority Opinion

Cook, Justice. In this case, we are presented with the question of whether CWRU violated R.C. 4112.022(A) by denying a totally blind applicant admission to its medical school. We affirm the judgment of the court of appeals finding no violation.

I. PRIMA FACIE CASE OF HANDICAP DISCRIMINATION

OCRC charges that CWRU violated R.C. 4112.022, which prohibits discrimination against handicapped persons by educational institutions. Specifically, the statute provides:

"It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any educational institution to discriminate against any individual on account of any handicap:

"(A) In admission or assignment to any academic program, course of study, internship, or class offered by the institution."

Similarly, Ohio Adm. Code 4112-5-09(B)(1) provides:

"Qualified handicapped persons shall not be denied admission or be subjected to discrimination in admission or recruitment on the basis of handicap at an educational institution covered by Chapter 4112. of the Revised Code."

The parties agree and we hold that a prima facie case of discrimination in education under R.C. 4112.022(A) includes three elements: (1) the plaintiff is a handicapped person within the meaning of R.C. 4112.01(A)(13); (2) the plaintiff was otherwise qualified to participate in the program6; and (3) the plaintiff was excluded from the program on the basis of a handicap. [citations omitted] The parties also agree that the only element at issue in this case is whether Cheryl Fischer is "otherwise qualified" to participate in CWRU's medical school program.

A. OTHERWISE QUALIFIED HANDICAPPED PERSON

The term "otherwise qualified handicapped person" in the educational discrimination context is not defined by statute or regulation. In the employment discrimination context, however, a "qualified handicapped person" means "a handicapped person who can safely and substantially perform the essential functions of the job in question, with or without reasonable accommodation."

Ohio Adm.Code 4112(K). In the past we have looked to federal law to support a finding of discrimination under R.C. Chapter 4112. [citations omitted] Accordingly, in the context of discrimination by educational institutions, we refer to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, codified at Section 794, Title 29, U.S.Code, to assign meaning to the term "otherwise qualified" handicapped person.

Our inquiry into the meaning of "otherwise qualified" as used in Section 504 begins with the United States Supreme Court's analysis in Southeastern Community College v. Davis [citation omitted]. In that case, a deaf student alleged that a nursing school had discriminated against her after the school refused to admit her into its program. The Davis court defined an "otherwise qualified person" as "one who is able to meet all of a program's requirements in spite of his handicap." [citation omitted]

Applying this definition of "otherwise qualified," the court held that the nursing school would not be forced to accept this deaf student because her inability to understand speech without reliance on lip reading would jeopardize patient safety during the clinical phase of the program [citation omitted]. The court did not require the school to modify its curriculum through a waiver of the clinical program because such an accommodation required a "fundamental alteration" in the nursing school's program [citation omitted].

Six years later the Supreme Court revisited the issue in Alexander v. Choate (1985) [citation omitted]. In clarifying its prior decision, the Alexander court stated, "Davis...struck a balance between the statutory rights of the handicapped to be integrated into society and the legitimate interest of federal grantees in preserving the integrity of their programs: while a grantee need not be required to make `fundamental' or `substantial' modifications to accommodate the handicapped, it may be required to make `reasonable' ones." [citation omitted] Thus Alexander modified Davis to the extent that an "otherwise qualified" person is one capable of participating in the program if a "reasonable accommodation" is available for implementation by the institution.

Most recently, the Supreme Court discussed the "otherwise qualified" standard in School Bd. of Nassau Cty. v. Arline (1987) [citation omitted]. The court elaborated on the definition of an "otherwise qualified" individual:

"In the employment context an otherwise qualified person is one who can perform `the essential functions' of the job in question. When a handicapped person is not able to perform the essential functions of the job, the court must also consider whether any `reasonable accommodation' by the employer would enable the handicapped person to perform those functions. Accommodation is not reasonable if it either imposes `undue financial and administrative burdens' on a grantee or requires `a fundamental alteration in the nature of [the] program.'" [citations omitted]

Similarly, Ohio Adm.Code 4112-5-09(D)(1) requires educational institutions to make necessary modifications to their academic requirements to prevent discrimination on the basis of handicap against a qualified handicapped applicant. Such modifications include "changes in the length of time permitted for the completion of degree requirements, substitution of specific courses required for the completion of degree requirements, and adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted." However, academic requirements that the educational institution can demonstrate are "essential to the program of instruction being pursued by such student or to any directly related licensing requirement will not be regarded as discriminatory...," and do not require modification.

Applying these principles to R.C. 4112.022(A), we define an "otherwise qualified" handicapped person as one who is able to safely and substantially perform an educational program's essential requirements with reasonable accommodation. An accommodation is not reasonable where it requires fundamental alteration in the essential nature of the program or imposes an undue financial or administrative burden.

Because inquiry into reasonable accommodation is not separate from but rather is an aspect of "otherwise qualified," we further hold that as part of its prima facie case, OCRC carries the initial burden of showing that Fischer could safely and substantially perform the essential requirements of the program with reasonable accommodation. [citations omitted] Thereafter the burden shifts to CWRU to demonstrate that Fischer is not "otherwise qualified," i.e., the accommodations are not reasonable because they require fundamental alterations to the essential nature of the program or because they impose undue financial or administrative burdens. Id. CWRU may also rebut a prima facie case of discrimination by "establishing bona fide requirements or standards for admission or assignment to academic programs, courses, internships, or classes...which requirements or standards may include reasonable qualifications for demonstrating necessary skill, aptitude, physical capability, intelligence, and previous education." R.C. 4112.022. Finally, the burden returns to OCRC and Fischer to rebut the evidence presented by CWRU. [citation omitted]

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Before we determine whether Fischer is otherwise qualified to participate in the medical school program at CWRU, we note the standards upon which we review this case. Pursuant to R.C. 4112.06(E), a trial court must affirm a finding of discrimination under R.C. Chapter 4112, if the finding is supported by reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the entire record. [citation omitted]

The role of the appellate court in reviewing commission orders is more limited--to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion in finding that there was reliable, probative, and substantial evidence to support the commission's order. [citation omitted] A trial court abuses its discretion where its decision is clearly erroneous, that is, the trial court misapplies the law to undisputed facts. [citation omitted]

We agree with the court of appeals and find that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that (1) the OCRC order was supported by reliable, probative, and substantial evidence, and 2) Fischer was "otherwise qualified" for admission with reasonable accommodations.

A. RELIABLE, PROBATIVE, & SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE

OCRC relied upon Dr. Hartman's experience at Temple University and Fischer's experience at CWRU while she was an undergraduate to demonstrate that she could complete the essential requirements of CWRU's medical program with reasonable accommodations. The trial court agreed that Dr. Hartman's testimony regarding Temple University's accommodations fulfilled the requisite reliable, probative, and substantial evidence to support OCRC's order. [citation omitted] We disagree.

"Reliable" evidence is dependable or trustworthy; "probative" evidence tends to prove the issue in question and is relevant to the issue presented; and "substantial" evidence carries some weight or value. [citation omitted] We find that Dr. Hartman's experience at Temple University is neither probative nor substantial evidence to demonstrate that Fischer is currently able to safely and substantially perform the essential requirements of CWRU's program with reasonable accommodation.

Dr. Hartman is not an expert in medical education. He attended Temple University twenty years ago under entirely different circumstances than proposed today. Temple voluntarily accepted Dr. Hartman by increasing the class size by one. The faculty at Temple acted upon a commitment to do whatever necessary to assist Dr. Hartman, and not upon a concept of reasonable accommodation.

Additionally, Dr. Hartman was accepted prior to the AAMC's adoption of its technical standards for admission requiring each medical school student to have the ability to observe. Fischer, who provided the only testimony that she could complete the requirements of medical school with accommodations, admitted that she had no familiarity with what a medical student is required to do.

With Hartman and Fischer as its witnesses, OCRC failed to present any probative or substantial testimony that Fischer would be able to complete CWRU's course requirements with reasonable accommodation. CWRU, however, presented testimony from several medical educators that a blind student could not perform the requirements of medical school. Consequently, the trial court abused its discretion in finding that OCRC's cease and desist order was supported by probative or substantial evidence that Fischer could complete the medical program at CWRU with reasonable accommodation.

B. ACCOMMODATIONS WERE NOT REASONABLE

The court of appeals also found that the trial court abused its discretion by finding that Fischer was otherwise qualified for admission with reasonable accommodations. Whether an accommodation is reasonable is a mixed question of law and fact. [citation omitted]

OCRC suggests that certain accommodations such as raised line drawing boards, tutors, and faculty assistance; occasional use of sighted students; and laboratory assistance would permit Fischer to realize the benefits of the first two years of the medical school program. OCRC also suggests modifications which would help her complete the required clerkships, such as the use of intermediaries to read X-rays and patient charts and to perform parts of a physical examination as well as the waiver of course requirements she could not perform such as starting an I.V. or drawing blood. OCRC argues that these accommodations are reasonable because those skills are not necessary for Fischer to pursue a practice in psychiatry, are not necessary for CWRU to maintain its accreditation as a medical school, and would not require a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program, since they are not essential to it. For the following reasons we hold that the trial court's finding that these accommodations were reasonable is clearly erroneous and an abuse of discretion.

First, a similar argument regarding intermediaries, supervision, and course waiver was rejected by the United States Supreme Court in Davis, [citation omitted] The court held that because the deaf nursing student would not receive "even a rough equivalent of the training a nursing program normally gives," the school was not required to make such a "fundamental alteration" in its program. [citation omitted] In the present case all of the medical educators who testified at the hearing agreed that it would be impossible to modify the traditional methods of teaching in a manner that would impart the necessary skills and information for a blind student to complete the essential course requirements.

Second, CWRU's decision not to modify its program by waiving course requirements or permitting intermediaries to read X-rays or perform physical examinations is an academic decision. Courts are particularly ill-equipped to evaluate academic requirements of educational institutions. [citations omitted] As a result considerable judicial deference must be paid to academic decisions made by the institution itself unless it is shown that the standards serve no purpose other than to deny an education to the handicapped. [citation omitted] Furthermore, an educational institution is not required to accommodate a handicapped person by eliminating a course requirement which is reasonably necessary to the proper use of the degree conferred at the end of study.

[citation omitted] The goal of medical schools is not to produce specialized degrees but rather general degrees in medicine which signify that the holder is a physician prepared for further training in any area of medicine. As such, graduates must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. All students, regardless of whether they intend to practice in psychiatry or radiology, are required to complete a variety of course requirements, including rotations in pediatrics, gynecology, and surgery.

Both the AAMC technical standards and the medical educators who testified at the hearing rejected the use of an intermediary by a medical student. In these medical educators' opinions, the use of an intermediary would interfere with the student's exercise of independent judgment--a crucial part of developing diagnostic skills. Accordingly, a waiver of the medical school's requirements such as starting an I.V. or reading an X-ray or the use of an intermediary to perform these functions would fundamentally alter the nature of the program.

Finally, an administrative agency should accord due deference to the findings and recommendations of its referee, especially where there exist evidentiary conflicts. [citation omitted] In this case, the referee concluded that Fischer could not complete courses in the basic sciences without placing an undue burden on the faculty and could not complete the clerkships without substantial modification to the essential nature of the program.

OCRC adopted the hearing officer's findings of fact but did not accept his recommendation. Rather, OCRC placed great weight upon Dr. Hartman's testimony in arriving at a conclusion contrary to the hearing officer's. As discussed supra, however, Dr. Hartman's testimony was not probative of the issue and was insufficient to form the basis of a finding that the accommodations were reasonable.

III. DUTY TO INVESTIGATE

Finally, OCRC contends that CWRU's failure to inquire into technological advances to assist the blind, its failure to contact Dr. Hartman or Temple University, and its failure to consult experts in educating the blind during its decision-making process violated an affirmative duty to investigate whether accommodations would enable Fischer to complete the medical school program.

OCRC relies on Mantolete v. Bolger [citation omitted] in support of an affirmative duty to investigate. In Mantolete the court considered the definition of a qualified handicapped person in the context of Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, codified at Section 791, Title 29, U.S.Code. Section 501 prohibits handicap discrimination by federal employers, requiring such employers to take affirmative action against discrimination.

That section and its regulations imply that "a more active and extensive effort than 'nondiscrimination' must be made to eliminate barriers to employment of the handicapped in federal agencies, departments, instrumentalities, and contractors." [citation omitted] The Mantolete court imposed a duty upon federal employers "to gather sufficient information from the applicant and from qualified experts as needed to determine what accommodations are necessary to enable the applicant to perform the job safely. (Emphasis added.) [citation omitted] As noted in the concurring opinion in Mantolete, however, "impos[ing] demanding information-gathering requirements upon federal employers" is justified by the express "affirmative action" language of Section 501--language that does not appear in Section 504. [citation omitted] Thus, OCRC's reliance on Mantolete is misplaced.7

The United States Supreme Court recognized that in order to protect handicapped individuals from "deprivations based on prejudice, stereotypes, or unfounded fear," a determination as to whether an individual is otherwise qualified should in "most cases" be made in the context of an "individualized inquiry into the relation between the requirements of the program and the abilities of the individual." [citations omitted]

Similarly, Ohio law does not support the imposition of a duty to investigate in all cases. Rather, R.C. 4112.022 contemplates that there will be situations in which a school could justifiably exclude all persons with a particular handicap from admission to a program. R.C. 4112.022 does not consider an act discriminatory where it is based upon a bona fide requirement or standard for admission. OCRC argues that vision is not a bona fide physical requirement for admission to medical school because CWRU failed to adopt the vision requirement prior to the rejection of Fischer's application.

Again, we must disagree. Regardless of when CWRU adopted its own set of admissions standards and whether the AAMC standards are mandatory, the AAMC technical standards represent a comprehensive study supporting denial of admission to blind medical school applicants. Once CWRU confirmed the complete absence of an ability to observe, CWRU could deny Fischer's application based upon a bona fide standard for admission to the medical school.8

IV. CONCLUSION

We agree with the court of appeals and find that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that the OCRC order was supported by reliable, probative, and substantial evidence and that Fischer was otherwise qualified to participate in the medical school program. First, the trial court abused its discretion in finding that OCRC's cease and desist order was supported by probative or substantial evidence because the testimony of Dr. Hartman was neither probative nor substantial on the issue of whether Fischer could complete CWRU's requirements with reasonable accommodation. Second, the trial court's findings that the modifications were reasonable and that Fischer was "otherwise qualified" to participate in CWRU's medical school program were clearly erroneous and an abuse of discretion because the accommodations suggested by Fischer would (1) require fundamental alterations to the academic requirements essential to the program of instruction, and (2) impose an undue burden upon CWRU's faculty. Finally, once CWRU confirmed her complete absence of an ability to observe, CWRU could deny Fischer's application based upon a bona fide standard for admission to the medical school.

Judgment affirmed.

MOYER, C.J., and POWELL, J., concur.

FRANCIS E. SWEENEY, SR., J., concurs in the syllabus and judgment only.

DOUGLAS, RESNICK, and PFEIFER, J., dissent

STEPHEN W. POWELL, J., of the Twelfth Appellate District, sitting for WRIGHT, J.

 

DISSENTING OPINION

Douglas, Justice, dissenting.

This case is not about whether appellant, Cheryl A. Fischer, a non-sighted person, should or should not be admitted to Case Western Reserve University's medical school. This case is about whether the university must, as all others, comply with R.C. 4112.022 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 794, Title 29, U.S.Code, or may the university rely, as it and the majority does, on the blanket exclusion standard of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The law mandates a clear and affirmative duty to investigate whether reasonable accommodations could be made by the medical school for Fischer's needs. It is conceivable that after such investigation, accommodations required to facilitate Fischer's education would require more than a "reasonable" effort. If so, then admission could be lawfully denied. Conversely, an investigation by the university might have produced information that would be helpful not only in Fischer's case but, also, in other cases where physically challenged individuals might seek admission.

Accordingly, because I believe that the university violated its lawfully mandated affirmative duty to gather information as to whether it could, or could not, reasonably accommodate the needs of Fischer, I must respectfully, on this ground, dissent. Alice Robie Resnick, Justice, dissenting.

"Prejudice" is defined as "an opinion or leaning adverse to anything without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge." [citation omitted] Today, the majority opines that no reasonable accommodations can be made which would enable a blind student to complete the medical school program. In so doing, the majority literally divests itself of knowledge to the contrary by completely disregarding as not probative or substantial the testimony of an individual who, while totally blind, was admitted to and graduated from medical school, and is a board-certified practicing psychiatrist who also happens to teach in his field. This enables the majority to rely solely on the testimony of the very personnel who have prejudged the "whole concept" of a blind medical student as "ridiculous," while simultaneously holding that those persons had no duty to investigate whether reasonable accommodations could be made to assist a blind student completing the medical school program. This is a case of prejudice, pure and simple. I dissent.

I. DUTY TO INVESTIGATE

R.C. 4112.022, like Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 794, Title 29, U.S.Code, is designed to protect "handicapped individuals from deprivations based on prejudice, stereotypes, or unfounded fear, while giving appropriate weight to such legitimate concerns of grantees as avoiding exposing others to significant health and safety risks." [citation omitted] It is a statute aimed at means, not ends. At a fundamental level, it provides for a method of evaluation grounded in knowledge. One would suppose, therefore, that the duty to investigate is axiomatic. It should be obvious to any reasonable person that, in order to give meaningful consideration to whether reasonable accommodations would enable a blind student to effectively complete the medical school program, the medical school must explore the nature and benefit of available methods of accommodating the blind.

Nevertheless, the majority impugns the contention that Case Western Reserve University ("CWRU") had an affirmative duty to investigate whether reasonable accommodations would enable plaintiff-appellant, Cheryl A. Fischer, to complete the medical school program, before denying her admittance on the basis of her visual handicap.

A. Mantolete v. Bolger

The majority begins its analysis of the duty to investigate by stating that the Ohio Civil Rights Commission ("OCRC") "relies on Mantolete v. Bolger [citation omitted] in support of an affirmative duty to investigate." The majority then distinguishes Mantolete because, "[a]s noted in the concurring opinion in Mantolete,...`impos[ing] demanding information-gathering requirements upon federal employers' is justified by the express `affirmative action' language of Section 501 [of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 791, Title 29, U.S.Code]--language that does not appear in Section 504." The majority concludes, therefore, that "OCRC's reliance on Mantolete is misplaced."

This portion of the majority's analysis is disconcerting, not so much in the way it reviews Mantolete, but because it reviews Mantolete.9 Mantolete was only one of a litany of cases cited by OCRC in support of its proposition that there is a duty to investigate. By selectively extracting Mantolete from the pile and simply distinguishing it from the instant case, the majority is able to make it appear as though the commission's position on this issue is untenable. In this way the majority has managed to avoid confrontation with those courts which hold that, under Section 504, an educational institution must make reasonable efforts to explore alternative methods of accommodating the handicapped. These cases reveal that the purpose and history of Section 504 dictate such requirement and that, in the absence of a duty to investigate, the requirement to make reasonable accommodations would be rendered meaningless. [citations omitted]

In addition, as observed by Donald Jay Olnick, [citation omitted] "[A]s a matter of fairness, the existence of such a duty should be recognized because the institution has greater knowledge of the components of its program than does the handicapped applicant. The institution can look to its own experience or, if that is not feasible, to that of other institutions in providing education to individuals with handicaps similar to those of the applicant in question. In addition, it will be able to seek advice concerning possible accommodations from private and government sources. The handicapped individual may also suggest accommodations and bring forward relevant employment experience demonstrating that accommodations are possible." Moreover, "institutions can consult handicapped individuals who have completed similar programs." [citation omitted]

Investigation by CWRU would have revealed, at the very minimum, a number of possible sources for exploring the prospect of accommodating a blind medical student, including the experience of Dr. David W. Hartman and other blind physicians, not all of whom lost vision after completing training. [citations omitted] In fact, these articles readily suggest that a blind medical student or physician can succeed. "`Aside from his surgical skill, the physician's greatest commodity in trade is his intellectual ability to interpret and to correlate. This is not impaired by the loss of one sensory modality.'" [citation omitted] In fact, one article noted that "[a] broad spectrum of adapted instruments and devices [is] available for individuals with visual impairment, varying from the simple and mundane to the most sophisticated high technology," and actually set forth a noncomprehensive resource table for the visually disabled physician. [citation omitted]

CWRU either disregarded or never consulted any of these sources, including Dr. Hartman or Temple University, in deciding not to admit Fischer. CWRU's "refusal to investigate and consider the modifications necessary to accommodate [Fischer] preclude it from rebutting plaintiffs' evidence that such accommodation would neither change the essential nature of the program nor place an undue burden upon" CWRU. [citation omitted]

Blanket and Bona Fide Requirements

After distinguishing Mantolete, the majority attempts to explain that any duty is based on a bona fide requirement or standard for admission. The majority finds CWRU's blanket exclusion of all blind medical school applicants to be bona fide because it is based on the technical standards of the Association of American Medical Colleges ("AAMC").

In general, blanket exclusions are subject to the same level of scrutiny as are individual exclusions: [citation omitted] "Southeastern Community College v. Davis (1979), [citation omitted] cannot mean that the [employer] can discriminate by establishing restrictive `program requirements' where it could not so discriminate in making individual employment decisions. The Rehabilitation Act, taken as a whole, mandates significant accommodation for the capabilities and conditions of the handicapped. Blanket requirements must therefore be subject to the same rigorous scrutiny as any individual decision denying employment to a handicapped person."

As explained somewhat differently in Pandazides v. Virginia Bd. of Edn. [citation omitted] the "defendants cannot merely mechanically invoke any set of requirements and pronounce the handicapped applicant or prospective employee not otherwise qualified. The district court must look behind the qualifications. To do otherwise reduces the term 'otherwise qualified" and any arbitrary set of requirements to a tautology."

Thus, blanket requirements are not ipso facto bona fide. CWRU cannot exclude all blind medical school applicants without first investigating and considering reasonable accommodations for the blind, any more than it can exclude an individual applicant without conducting such an investigation. Otherwise, an educational institution could easily circumvent the statute by the simple expedient of turning an otherwise discriminatory act into a blanket prohibition against a particular type of handicap. [citation omitted]

The majority, however, has carved an exception in those cases where blanket exclusions are supported, even after the fact, by guidelines adopted by the AAMC. The only authority cited by the majority that is arguably relevant to this issue is Buck v. United States Dept. of Transp. [citation omitted]

In Buck, three deaf truck drivers sought a waiver from the Federal Highway Administration ("FHWA") regarding its regulation requiring that drivers of interstate commercial vehicles be able to hear. The regulations at issue were promulgated pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Act, which requires the Secretary of Transportation to promulgate regulations ensuring that "the physical condition of operators of commercial motor vehicles is adequate to enable them to operate the vehicles safely." [citation omitted] The FHWA denied the requests and the court denied the petitions for review.

In denying petitioners relief, the court explained as follows: "The petitioners...misstate the issue when they argue that the agency must decide whether a deaf individual is able to operate a truck safely in spite of his handicap. They are really launching a collateral attack upon the validity of the hearing requirement itself, arguing in effect that the FHWA erred in determining that the ability to hear with the specified acuity is necessary in order to operate a vehicle safely. . . . [T]he proper forum in which to get the relief the petitioners seek is the FHWA, in a proceeding to modify or repeal the rule itself. The agency is in fact in the process of conducting such a rulemaking, [citations omitted]

Unwittingly, the majority has elevated the status of the AAMC guidelines to the level of a federal regulation. This is particularly inappropriate for several reasons. First, the AAMC is not a legislative body. [citation omitted] There is no evidence that any legislative body, state or federal, has directly or indirectly considered, let alone adopted, the subject AAMC guidelines, much less interpreted them to preclude admission to all blind applicants to medical school.

Additionally, Donald G. Kassebaum, M.D., who is secretary to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education ("LCME"), testified that the AAMC plays no role specifically in the accreditation of United States medical schools, that the decision about accreditation is made wholly by the LCME, that the LCME has devised no accreditation standards which would prohibit the admission of blind applicants to medical school, that the failure of a medical school to adopt the AAMC guidelines would not affect accreditation, and that the "Report on Technical Standards" was not even published as AAMC policy, but as guidelines for use by schools in developing their own individual technical standards. There is no reason, therefore, to give the AAMC guidelines accrediting, let alone legislative, force. In fact, in McGregor v. Louisiana State Univ. Bd. of Supervisors [citation omitted] the court explained that "whether the [American Bar Association] accredits part-time programs is not determinative of reasonableness under the Rehabilitation Act, and we refrain from giving ABA accreditation such adjudicatory effect." Accordingly, CWRU's after-the-fact reliance on the AAMC guidelines does not transform its blanket preclusion of blind medical students into a bona fide requirement or standard for admission, obviating its duty to investigate.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

This portion of the majority's opinion is, quite frankly, astonishing. The majority sets forth some well-established standards of review. One of these standards is that an appellate court cannot reverse a trial court's judgment unless it finds that "the trial court abused its discretion in finding that there was reliable, probative, and substantial evidence to support the commission's order. [citation omitted]

Dr. Hartman is a psychiatrist. Dr. Hartman has been totally blind since the age of eight. He graduated from Gettysburg College in 1972, summa cum laude and as a Phi Beta Kappa. He attended medical school at Temple University from 1972 to 1976. He graduated from medical school and became a board-certified practicing psychiatrist. He was assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania from 1980 to 1982 and presently serves as volunteer faculty at the University of Virginia. Dr. Hartman's curriculum vitae reads like a five-page laundry list of accomplishments, appointments, awards, and publications.

Dr. Hartman's testimony consisted of ninety-four transcribed pages of examination primarily concerning the issue of accommodations made for him at Temple's medical school. Dr. Hartman completed all required courses and clerkships at Temple. No courses or clerkships were waived because of his blindness. He completed studies in anatomy, histology, microscopic anatomy, biochemistry, neuroanatomy, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology. He successfully completed his clerkships, including rotations in internal medicine, general surgery, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, plastic surgery, neurology, and emergency room medicine.

Dr. Hartman was able to complete these courses and clerkships by use of various accommodating aids, including raised line drawings; models; guidance and assistance from other students, laboratory technicians, and professors; reliance on his other senses such as hearing and touch; and tape recorders. He also suggested that there may be some additional technological aids that would be of assistance, such as computerized voice reading or computer printing in Braille.

With Dr. Hartman's testimony staring it in the face, how can the majority conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in upholding the OCRC's order that a blind medical student could perform the requirements of medical school with reasonable accommodation? No problem--simply ignore it. As incredible as it sounds, the majority finds that "Dr. Hartman's experience at Temple University is neither probative nor substantial evidence to demonstrate that Fischer is currently able to safely and substantially perform the essential requirements of CWRU's program with reasonable accommodation." In support, the majority explains that:

"Dr. Hartman is not an expert in medical education. He attended Temple University twenty years ago, under entirely different circumstances than proposed today. Temple voluntarily accepted Dr. Hartman by increasing the class size by one. The faculty at Temple acted upon a commitment to do whatever necessary to assist Dr. Hartman and not upon a concept of reasonable accommodation. Additionally, Dr. Hartman was accepted prior to the AAMC's adoption of its technical standards for admission requiring each medical school student to have the ability to observe."

This explanation serves only to enforce the majority's commitment to rid itself of Dr. Hartman's testimony. No portion of this explanation has anything to do with whether Dr. Hartman's testimony constitutes probative or substantial evidence in this case. Whether or not Dr. Hartman is a so-called "expert in medical education," there is no rule that a witness must qualify as an expert in medical education in order to testify in a handicap discrimination case such as this one. In fact, Dr. Hartman's testimony was not offered for any opinions he might hold relative to medical education. Instead, the relevance and value of Dr. Hartman's testimony lie in the nature of his experiences and the character of the accommodations made for him at Temple. Moreover, such a rule would be absurd. It would exclude virtually all testimony, both lay and expert, relevant to the issue of available accommodations vis-a-vis the capabilities and limitations of particular handicaps. Additionally, the majority does not reveal what qualifies someone as such an expert or the justification for imposing any particular set of qualifications. For example, what justification could possibly support disregarding Dr. Hartman's testimony, while considering the testimony of Albert C. Kirby and John R. Troyer, both of whom the majority accepts as "medical educators," but neither of whom had ever attended medical school?

Likewise, the circumstances under which Dr. Hartman was accepted at Temple have no bearing on the relevance or value of his testimony in this case. The level of Temple's commitment to Dr. Hartman does not necessarily reflect the character of its actions. Simply stated, just because Temple was prepared to do more for Dr. Hartman than what was required does not mean that what Temple actually did for Dr. Hartman was unreasonable. What is relevant and valuable to the issue of reasonable accommodation in this case is the nature and extent of the actual accommodations made for Dr. Hartman at Temple, not the state of mind of Temple's faculty.

On the contrary, Dr. Hartman's experience at Temple is both probative and substantial evidence to demonstrate that Fischer is currently able to safely and substantially perform the essential requirements of CWRU's program with reasonable accommodation. Dr. Hartman's experience at Temple presents a unique opportunity by which to gauge the nature and character of accommodations needed to enable a blind person to successfully and beneficially complete medical school. The proof, so to speak, is in the pudding. While his experience may not be conclusive of reasonableness, it is certainly relevant and carries some weight.

In fact, both the OCRC and the trial court found this evidence to be rather significant. In its order below, OCRC found that Dr. Hartman's experience and qualifications give him "unparalleled [sic] expertise as to whether a blind student can reap the benefits of a medical program." Additionally, Dr. Hartman has received seven major appointments in the area of psychiatry. He served as consultant to or member of five critical programs, including consultants to the National Institute for Advanced Studies on the admission of blind and otherwise handicapped persons into the allied health fields in compliance with Section 504. He has published in at least six publications and participated in fifteen relevant presentations on the subject of education and the blind. The rejection of Dr. Hartman's testimony as not probative or substantial is pure nonsense.

After discounting Dr. Hartman's testimony (and, incidentally, Fischer's as well), the majority is able to blatantly conclude that "[w]ith Hartman and Fischer as its witnesses, OCRC failed to present any probative or substantial testimony that Fischer would be able to complete CWRU's course requirements with reasonable accommodation." Simplistic reasoning is merely a mode for result-oriented decisions.

Still unsatisfied, the majority goes on to invoke the rule that an administrative agency (OCRC) should accord due deference to the findings and recommendations of its referee (hearing officer). The problem, however, is that this rule comes into play when an agency rejects its referee's report without reviewing the record. Even then, the rule loses its significance once the trial court reviews the record and upholds the agency's decision. [citations omitted] In its statement of the facts, the majority explains that "[u]pon its review of the hearing examiner's report, OCRC came to a different conclusion." This is inaccurate. In its cease and desist order, OCRC specifically explained that it rejected the hearing examiner's report "[a]fter careful consideration of the entire record." Absent contrary evidence, there is no basis for the majority to conclude otherwise.

Moreover, a careful reading of those two opinions below reveals that a myriad of facts are set forth in the OCRC order that are not contained in the hearing examiner's report. In any event the trial court reviewed the entire record and affirmed the OCRC. Thus there is no legitimate basis for discounting Dr. Hartman's testimony or for according deference to the hearing examiner's report.

III. CONCLUSION

If a particular professional door is to be closed to an entire class of people, it should not be done in such a cavalier manner. The decision as to whether a medical school may deny admittance to the blind is of great social importance. It cannot be made without a complete and careful consideration of all available information concerning possible modifications and accommodations, as well as the capabilities and limitations of the blind.

It is our duty and responsibility under R.C. 4112.022 to ensure that educational decisions denying admittance to the handicapped are not discriminatory. It is, therefore, a dereliction of this duty for the majority to allow CWRU to make such a determination without first investigating and considering reasonable accommodations, and for the majority itself to refuse to consider the experience of a successful blind medical student. No educational institution, and no court, may justify a preordained conclusion by exorcising all knowledge to the contrary without running afoul of R.C. 4112.022's mandate.

The only issue properly before the court is whether the common pleas court abused its discretion in finding that OCRC's order was supported by reliable, probative, and substantial evidence. Dr. Hartman's testimony constitutes reliable, probative, and substantial evidence that Fischer could effectively and beneficially complete the essential requirements of CWRU's medical program.10 It is incredible that the majority has ignored this testimony and accorded substantial judicial deference to CWRU's decisions, while refusing to impose upon CWRU the duty to investigate in the first instance.

Justice requires that the court of appeals' decision be reversed and that the decision of the trial court be reinstated. I therefore vehemently dissent.

DOUGLAS and PFEIFER, JJ., concur in the foregoing dissenting opinion.

1. That same year, Fischer also applied to the medical schools at Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, University of Toledo, and Temple University. Ohio State University also placed Fischer on an alternate list. However, all of the schools denied her admission.

2. CWRU did not formally adopt its own technical admissions standards until June 1990. These standards also require that an applicant have sufficient use of the sense of vision and the ability to observe both at a distance and close at hand.

3. Fischer also reapplied to Ohio State University and, that same year, applied to the medical schools at Wright State University, George Washington University, and Georgetown University, among others. All of these schools denied Fischer admission.

4. CWRU had previously offered admission to students with handicaps such as paraplegia, visual and hearing impairments, and dyslexia.

5. Fischer also filed charges against the medical schools at the Ohio State University and Wright State University, alleging discrimination on the basis of her handicap. Following an investigation, however, OCRC did not find probable cause against these institutions and did not file complaints.

6. The term "otherwise qualified" appears in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 [citation omitted] Section 504, as amended, provides that "[n]o otherwise qualified individual with disability shall, . . . solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." [citation omitted]

7. The dissent criticizes our discussion of Mantolete v. Bolger [citation omitted] as being "selectively extracted" from the cases cited by the OCRC. However, the other cases were cited only in a footnote to OCRC's Reply Brief, and it was Fischer who characterized Mantolete as the "seminal case" on the issue of an affirmative duty to investigate. Furthermore, our discussion of Sections 501 and 504 is in response to the appellants' view that such cases are persuasive authority for the proposition of an affirmative duty to investigate. This case, however, was brought only under R.C. Chapter 4112.

8. The Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education, determined that CWRU's 1991 denial of Fischer's application to the medical school on the basis of the AAMC Technical Standards was consistent with Section 504 and dismissed Fischer's complaint against CWRU.

9. It should be noted, however, that even the concurring opinion in Mantolete expressly left the issue open as to whether Section 504 imposed a similar information-gathering requirement upon private employers. [citation omitted] Thus, any implication in the majority's use of language that the concurring opinion in Mantolete suggested a particular result under Section 504 is unfounded.

10. Ohio Adm.Code 4112-5-09(D)(1) provides that: "Educational institutions shall make such modifications to [their] academic requirements as are necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating, on the basis of handicap, against a qualified handicapped applicant or student. Academic requirements that the educational institution can demonstrate are essential to the program of instruction being pursued by such student or to any directly related licensing requirement will not be regarded as discriminatory within the meaning of this rule. Modifications may include changes in the length of time permitted for the completion of degree requirements, substitution of specific courses required for the completion of degree requirements, and adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted." (emphasis added)

The majority finds that there are certain "essential" requirements that would have to be waived or performed through the use of intermediaries, such as reading X-rays, performing physical examinations or starting an I.V. The majority rejects the use of supervisory personnel and waiver, pursuant to Southeastern Community College v. Davis (1979), [citation omitted] on the basis that Fischer would not receive even a rough equivalent of the training a medical education normally gives. Moreover, the majority gives considerable judicial deference to CWRU's decisions and feels that these requirements are essential because they are reasonably necessary to the proper use of the degree ultimately conferred.

If we put Dr. Hartman's testimony back into the equation, it is difficult to find as a matter of law that Fischer would be unable to receive the benefits that a medical education normally gives. Any determinative effect that Davis, supra, may otherwise have had in this case dissipates upon consideration of Dr. Hartman's testimony. In fact, it was Dr. Hartman's testimony that he could perform a physical examination alone, and that he would stand with other students and have an X-ray read to him. The only two areas that give him trouble are starting an I.V. and drawing blood. OCRC specifically found that "it has not been demonstrated that physically performing these tasks constitutes an essential component of [CWRU's] program." Whether a requirement is essential is a question of fact. [citation omitted] Moreover, in order to be considered essential, there must be some nexus between the requirement and the prospective profession. [citation omitted] Additionally, CWRU is not deserving of judicial deference in this case because it refused even to investigate the issue. I do not believe, based on the record, that providing some visual assistance to Fischer in these limited tasks would, as a matter of law, sacrifice the integrity of CWRU's entire medical program. [citation omitted]

 

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Did you know that you can make a gift to the National Federation of the Blind and save taxes three ways? Well, you can! With a gift of appreciated stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. For more information contact the National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation.

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[PHOTO/CAPTION: Carol Castellano]

NEW BOOK SENDS WRONG MESSAGE TO PARENTS

by Carol Castellano

From the Editor: Early last year I began hearing and reading about a new book intended to provide a wonderful new resource to parents of young blind children. The reviews I read, all of which were written by professionals in the blindness field, were flattering and enthusiastic. Those invited to contribute chapters to the text were knowledgeable and well respected, and several parents had been asked to add their perspective.

As I say, the reviews were positive, but the quotations included gave me qualms. When I received a review copy of the book, I passed it along to Carol Castellano, an experienced and successful parent of a blind daughter and a leader in the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, a division of the National Federation of the Blind. I was interested to see how a parent of a healthy, happy blind child would react to all the so-called honest talk about what it is really like to deal with a son's or daughter's blindness.

Carol called me when she finished reading the book and asked how much space she had to write her review. I responded that this was clearly an important book, and good or bad, Federationists were going to be running into questions about it and dealing with its impact for years to come. I told her to report honestly on what she had found and dispense praise and criticism where she thought they were due. The following article is the result. Doubtless many parents of young blind children will read Children with Visual Impairments, so we had all better be prepared to help them put it into perspective. Here is Carol Castellano's attempt to do just that:

 

Children with Visual Impairments: A Parent's Guide, a new book edited by M. Cay Holbrook and published by Woodbine House, is intended to give parents of visually impaired babies and very young children information and guidance on issues related to visual impairment. Written by sixteen professionals in the blindness field and three parents, the book contains much information, promising chapter titles (each chapter is written by a different author or authors), and a number of suggestions for working with a visually impaired child. The question must be asked, however, on the whole, will this book help or harm blind children and their families?

In my role as President of Parents of Blind Children of New Jersey, I speak frequently to parents of newly diagnosed blind children. My experience with these parents is that they are seeking information, suggestions, and a listening ear; but above all, they are seeking hope. Often the only hope they have early on is that their child will have a little eyesight. What they know about blindness--or what they think they know--is pretty bleak. They usually know nothing at all about blindness skills. I gently tell them about my daughter--that she attends our neighborhood school and that she has the same books as all her classmates, but in Braille. I mention that she's a sports nut and played on our town's T-ball team. I tell them that she has a cane and uses it to go all over. I might mention that her grade is working on research skills at the library or that this morning she went to a rehearsal of her class play.

The parents' attention is definitely engaged. "Your daughter is blind?" they ask me. "Totally blind," I reply. Hearing that a totally blind child somehow manages to accomplish all these normal tasks gives the parents heart. It also opens the door to a discussion of blindness skills, the key, of course, to a blind person's managing such tasks. Suddenly the parents on the other end of the phone see a vision of a normal life and get a glimpse of how this life might be achieved.

Many times the conversation goes on to how parents might enhance a blind baby's development; sometimes we brainstorm to resolve a specific problem the family is experiencing. Usually I advise those parents to eat their Wheaties because they'll need their strength. I tell them I'll send them some literature to read. I invite them to one of our Parents of Blind Children gatherings to meet other families and some blind adults. I let them know that they're doing the smart thing by reaching out and gathering information and that their child is lucky to have them. The closing words from the parents are almost always: "Thanks. You've made me feel so much better."

Parents feel better because they begin to see the possibility of a bright future for their child; they begin to believe they'll be able to manage what needs to be done; they realize others have gone successfully down the road that is before them. Feeling better enables parents to start down that parenting road with a belief that will support them during both the easy times and the challenging times: that blindness need not stop their child from leading a fulfilling, normal life.

Contrast this with the approach found in Children with Visual Impairments. First of all, in the book blindness is labeled a "misfortune" and parents are told that they "may feel as if they must have done something to be singled out for this bad fortune." Janice Herring, author of this chapter, "Adjusting to Your Child's Visual Impairment," comforts parents with the statement, "You know you would never have deliberately done anything that you could have foreseen would result in your child being born with a visual impairment." So much for the possibility that it might be okay to be blind.

The authors made a decision to use the term "visual impairment" instead of the word "blindness." Much is made in the early part of the book about the fact that most visually impaired children have "some useable vision" and that very few children are actually blind--meaning totally blind in their nomenclature. (In the book's glossary under the entry "blindness," it reads "See total blindness.") I suppose parents are meant to be comforted by the idea that their child is probably not blind. The authors tell us, "Even children who are considered blind often have some visual perception of light and dark that will assist them as they learn about the world," and "rarely do we assume that a child has absolutely no vision unless his eyes have been removed. . . . If the child has some level of visual ability, it may be used for important tasks such as orientation and mobility and daily living skills." No mention is made of the fact that children with no vision at all manage orientation and mobility and daily living skills by using the skills of blindness. What are the messages here? That first of all, chances are your child is not blind; second, your child needs vision to accomplish the tasks of life (Lord help those poor totally blind kids!). Parents are told to rearrange the environment and to encourage the child to use that vision. Since the skills of blindness are not mentioned, there is no hope if the child has no eyesight to use for tasks.

The emphasis on eyesight over blindness skills has tragic implications, as shown in the following story, from the chapter "Adjusting to Your Child's Visual Impairment." The parent-author, Janice Herring, tells of taking her children to the zoo and feeling depressed about all that her severely visually impaired son would miss. Her sadness changes to pleasure and pride, however, when he enjoys looking at the animals he could see and shows "his commitment to peering into every cage--even those where I know he saw nothing." What are the implications for the future for a child who so early learns that to elicit pride and pleasure in one's parents, one needs to pretend to see?

The fundamental idea that it is awful to be blind underlies most of this book and is the assumption from which most of the ideas and suggestions flow. Few would deny that parents need to adjust to the idea that their child is blind, but does the dreadful picture drawn by this book of the visually impaired child and his or her effect upon family life help with this adjustment? Consider the following premises, all taken from the book:

"There are a multitude of reasons you may feel intimidated or inadequate at the prospect of raising a child who can't see. It would be impossible to list them all...."

Parents "may spend every waking moment thinking or talking about their child's visual impairment...just trying to fathom all the ways that their child's life will be different than expected... Then they begin agonizing over a new concern: how will this disability affect my family? Will her special needs consume all our time and energy until we have no time for our own interests? Will she be more of a burden than a friend to our other children? Is there any hope that we can still have a `normal' family life?" (Incidentally, the author does not answer "yes" to that last question.)

"Like many parents, you might eventually want to seek counseling for the chronic grief that can go with having a child with a disability."

The story "Welcome to Holland" is printed, which relates how your trip to Italy was diverted and you land instead in Holland, where "you must stay." After the story, the chapter authors write, "But you, the parent, aren't the only one living in Holland. Your child will spend his entire life there, while other children take off for Italy and other flashier destinations."

Another author states, "In fact, it is not unusual to wish that your child would just go away."

Resentment is called "a perfectly natural reaction to having a child with a visual impairment."

The overall portrait of the visually impaired child is a rather frightening one. In it we see a child who will have trouble eating, sleeping, toileting, communicating, moving, and even cuddling. His "learning will be limited" and he will "almost invariably" lag behind sighted children. This child will read at a slower rate and might need to spend more years in school. She will have fear of the unknown, fear of open spaces, and will "be terrorized by a blood pressure cuff." This child will be unable "to observe and imitate" and unable to "see similarities and differences among objects in the environment." This child will grow up into an adult who might be able to work or live on his own. The words of one parent/author capture the feeling the reader is bound to be left with: "We still don't know all the things Casey won't be able to do." I can't help thinking that new parents being bombarded with messages like these might find it a bit difficult to develop a positive attitude toward blindness. They might even begin to feel a bit depressed. (In fact, I strongly suspect that a few of the authors of this book are depressed!)

Many times in the book, the choice of words, along with the underlying attitude, conveys the negativity. "You will disable your child more in the eyes of others if you treat her as if she is more helpless than she is," and "many children with visual impairments begin receiving educational support in infancy to help them learn to cope with our visually oriented world." These ideas can so easily be expressed in a positive manner, one that is respectful of blind children and of the skills of blindness that they will be learning.

Much ado is made in this book of the impact a visually impaired child will have on every aspect of family life. The litany of potential horrors could wear down even the most doggedly optimistic of parents. Here are a few of the lowlights: Your friends might leave you; your marriage might fail; you might go bankrupt ("meeting the everyday and special needs of children with visual impairments is expensive...the loss of income for missed days of work and health insurance co-payments and deductibles...the list of potential expenses goes on and on"); in fact, having this visually impaired child might be so expensive that "your other children may have to wear hand-me-downs or forgo music lessons or Little League"; you might be so frazzled at day's end that "you have no energy left for socializing or even for asking your kids how their day went"; you'll have "many sleepless and tear-filled nights"; everyday tasks such as breastfeeding and diapering your visually impaired baby become events for which you must find means not to "frighten, harm, or humiliate" your child; if you need a break, maybe you'll be able to find a sitter "willing to try" and you will realize somewhere down the line that, even though you might think your child looks like a normal child, others do not.

If your shoulders are not already sagging under this burden, take a look at how the authors say your other children will be affected: they might experience responses to their sibling's disability "ranging from anger and resentment to anxiety and grief," feelings which, the authors assure us, are "perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of." I can't help wondering, might there be any other range of emotions with which siblings might greet a new member of the family? Might there be love? joy? neutrality? acceptance? pleasure? Not according to this book. (My son's speech to NFB of New Jersey's state convention when he was seven years old comes to mind. "As a brother of a blind child, I think it's fun to have a sister who is blind! We play lots of games together. It's really pretty regular to have a blind sister. Come on--she's only a kid!" And "Because my sister is blind, I have gotten to know lots of friendly people--her Braille and cane teachers and all the people in the NFB.")

Ruth and Craig Bolinger, authors of the chapter entitled "Family Life," go on to list the "typical emotions" of siblings-- anger, resentment, anxiety, grief, guilt, frustration, upset, scared, poke fun, make fun, embarrass, lash out, target, and disgust. There is no suggestion whatsoever that sibling relationships might be loving and normal. (Ironically, these same authors counsel that children are not born with responses and opinions and that "when the time comes to teach siblings about your child's visual impairment, you can give them the attitudes, opinions, and responses you want them to have." I'll say!) Even if you think your other children are coping well, the book warns, be on the lookout for unexplained illness, poor schoolwork, nightmares, and loss of interest in play. But fear not, your normal children can attend a sibling support group, where they can discuss "why they feel the way they do": and talk about "subjects that make all kids uncomfortable."

No wonder the authors feel you might want to get rid of this child! Do these potential pitfalls exist? I suppose they do. But since the possibility that a family might actually live through the experience of having a visually impaired child successfully is never suggested, parents reading this book might well conclude that these negative experiences are likely.

The assumption that blindness is awful surfaces in various sections of the book. In the self-esteem chapter, for example, the authors (Dean W. Tuttle and Naomi R. Tuttle) tell us that "problems and crises stemming from impaired vision" will cause the child to struggle through trauma, shock, denial, unreality, mourning, withdrawal, succumbing, and depression, before arriving at self-acceptance and self-esteem (the reader needs a high tolerance for psycho-jargon). A warning is also issued against comparing your child's achievements to those of sighted peers and against setting "unrealistic" goals. These authors did, however, write the warmest lines in the book. In regard to praising a child, they write, "A child is never too young to understand that he is a source of joy to Mom and Dad."

In the chapter called "Your Child's Development," Kay Alicyn Ferrell offers clear, useful explanations of the various developmental areas but has as her central thesis that, although not much is known about the development of visually impaired children, what is known is that their development is very different from that of sighted children and much more difficult. "When a sense such as vision fails to develop properly," the author writes, "a child's entire course of development can be altered." Parents can take cold comfort from her statement that "comparisons to normal development are not really relevant for children with visual impairments. In other words, what is considered a delay for other children may not be a delay for your child--it may, in fact, be normal."

The explanation for this "normal delay" is, of course, that the child is lacking vision. "It would be nice if the other senses could substitute for vision--if they could provide the same type of information that helps babies to learn and form concepts about their world and if they could do so as frequently as does vision. Unfortunately, they do not." Parents are told that without eyesight their child will have "no memory of what objects feel like," that life will appear as a "jumble of isolated experiences," that parts of their child's concept development will be like "putting a puzzle together without seeing the photograph on the box," and that their child "has no way of knowing what that meow, growl, or purr is." (More than a little sighted bias is evident in some of these statements.)

Parents are informed that vision is involved in 90 percent of early learning, "but the way your child learns about the world is going to be different. To a greater or lesser degree, your child will have to rely instead on her senses of smell, touch, hearing, and taste for information. As mentioned above, this will make it harder for your child to learn because she cannot watch and imitate...and may make her less motivated to learn." In addition, we learn that "moving independently from place to place seems to be one of the most difficult skills for children with visual impairment" (would that be with or without a cane? I wonder), that "children with visual impairments typically have trouble with certain aspects of communication," that they are likely to be reluctant to explore their environment, and that even attaching to their parents seems to be harder for visually impaired babies because they "send different signals," and "they often do not seem to cuddle like other babies."

No one would deny that eyesight contributes a great deal to the development of sighted babies, but what is the point of bludgeoning parents of visually impaired children with the idea that their child, because of the lack of this particular sense, will have difficulty in virtually every area of development? What is the point of this reverence for eyesight when writing for parents of visually impaired children? Where does this leave the parent? Will it help parents develop a genuine respect for the alternative ways their child will use to learn about the world? What is to be made of the author's seeming determination to convince parents of the differences and difficulties their children will encounter in every area? Wouldn't it have been much more useful--not to mention uplifting--simply to explain to parents in a positive manner how visually impaired babies do learn about the world (as we indeed know that they do) and attempt to engender a respect on the part of the parent for the alternative methods the baby will be using to learn about the world?

After reading this chapter, parents may well conclude that their baby will never grow up satisfactorily. Ferrell assures us that all this "does not mean that learning is impossible," but a parent hearing her message may just conclude that it is. Glaringly missing from this discussion of development is any mention of alternative skills. Instead, I am afraid parents will be left with the sinking feeling that all is lost because their child lacks the one necessary sense. Yet this author is the same enlightened Professor Kay Ferrell who courageously argued in the pages of the September/October, 1996, issue of The Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness that the time has come to end vision-stimulation programs because they aren't helping children with low vision.

The chapter's suggestions for ways in which parents can foster their child's development are generally useful ones, but even they contain that negative impulse: "Use touch. Your touch means a lot to your child. Sometimes a touch on the shoulder can be just the reassurance your child needs to plod ahead!" and "Try closing your eyes before you try to hold and drink from a cup...to get an idea of what you are asking your child to do...It might not be as easy as it seems!" A few words about blindness skills and the fact that blind people do such tasks every day would have been welcome.

Many good suggestions are offered in the chapter called "Daily Life" and the author, Beth Langley, does refer to adaptive skills, although the reader must wade through a lot of negative language to get to them. For example, the author writes, "Toilet-training is another area of difficulty for children with visual impairments," but then she goes on to suggest the normal training activities. In her conclusion she states that "when a child has a visual impairment, helping him achieve independence may not only be more challenging but emotionally draining for both you and your child." She goes on to say that: "You will likely have to make small adjustments in attitude and in your child's environment. With planning, consistency, and creativity, however, you cannot only foster independence but also self-esteem, acceptance, and competence in all aspects of your child's life." I think this author is on the fence. She seems to believe that blind children can make it ("The key is to encourage independence and competence in everything you do or say"), but she seems to be just learning how to write about blindness using positive words.

The chapter called "Children with Multiple and Visual Disabilities" by Jane Erin gives an overview of conditions that often occur with visual impairment. Although parents may find the medical section of this chapter scary (toxoplasmosis is a parasite "which can invade the brain and eyes"), in general the chapter offers positive suggestions for helping a multiply disabled child learn to move, act on the world, interact with others, and learn language.

The basic premise of the "Orientation and Mobility" chapter by the late Everett W. Hill and Mary-Maureen Snook-Hill is that "orientation and mobility training promotes safe, efficient, graceful, and independent movement through any environment, indoor and outdoor, familiar and unfamiliar." The authors also advocate early training in O&M and offer a discussion of "foundation skills" that is quite useful despite a bit of jargon.

The discussion of formal mobility skills' leading to eventual independent travel, however, is the standard fare, beginning with "self-protective techniques" and giving much weight to the sighted guide.

The authors take a position of apparent neutrality regarding the various "mobility systems"--sighted guide, the long cane, alternative mobility devices, dog guides, and electronic travel aids--and this is problematic. I suppose their intent is to offer objective information, but the fact is that the different systems are not equal because they do not lead to the same level of independent movement. The authors do not discuss the systems in terms of this ultimate test (independent movement), but I think it is the one that would matter most to parents. But parents new to blindness may not yet be able to make this analysis, especially when presented with what appears to be such objective, neutral information.

For example, the authors explain each system and then list advantages and disadvantages to each. Under sighted guide they list as an advantage that "it provides maximum safety to the child during movement." What message does this give the parent? That the child will not be safe if moving alone! The authors also mention that "sighted guide provides companionship as well as information about the surrounding environment." The mention of companionship feeds fears and stereotypes about the poor blind person who must rely on the kindness of strangers for companionship. The second half of the quotation, concerning environmental information, may lead parents to conclude that the only way a blind person can have any idea of where he is is if a sighted person is there to tell him.

Some bias, or at least preference, is revealed in the Alternative Mobility Device section. These devices are described as easier to use conceptually and motorically and requiring less instruction than canes, but do they provide the same result? The authors do not mention that these devices require the use of two hands, thus making it impossible for the child to carry something or to hold hands with the parent (see below). In addition they are heavier than canes and simply do not allow as much freedom of movement. They are discussed, however, as if they are an equivalent alternative to a cane. The authors' bias toward these devices is revealed in another section of the chapter, where they casually mention that "a child in a kindergarten classroom may need formal O&M instruction to learn basic sighted guide skills, self-protection skills such as trailing, or the use of an alternative mobility device to travel with his classmates from his classroom to the cafeteria and the playground." Again, what message will the parent hear? That in order to move with his classmates, the child must use one of these devices and not a cane.

The authors define a mobility system as "a guide or device that permits independent movement through the environment." I suspect, however, that they are not using the word "independent" as most parents would understand it or as the dictionary defines it. Many in the O&M profession seem to have convinced themselves that using the sighted guide mobility system gives a blind traveler the same independence as using a cane. The authors list as a disadvantage of the sighted guide system that "independence is limited" but they mean "because a guide might not always be available."

The chapter exhibits the usual love affair with sighted guide that I have seen so often in professional literature. Three pages are devoted to a discussion of the various techniques of sighted guide, along with three photographs which illustrate them. (In one photograph the child is holding a cane, but it is close to his body and high off the ground. No canes are shown in the other photos.) In contrast, only two pages are given over to the cane, and the only photo shows a straight and a folding cane lying on a carpet and not in use! (A cane appears in one other photo in the chapter, one that is illustrating "upper hand and forearm protective technique.")

In addition, the authors hold dearly to the idea of how actively the blind person participates when using the sighted guide technique. Their insistence on this, coupled with my own observations of how children behave, leads me to suspect that they protest too much! I also suspect they haven't ever lived with a blind child. Too many of us parents have had the experience of our children being taught this system and then being only too content to "leave the driving" to someone else! The authors also claim that a preschooler "needs to learn sighted guide skills so that he can travel comfortably in unfamiliar and outdoor settings with you." A statement like this serves only to mystify the idea of a blind child's movement, rather than to simplify it. Those of us who take a common sense approach to raising our blind children know that you don't need a "system" composed of complicated, rigid techniques that must be taught by a highly trained professional simply to take a child out for a walk!

The emphasis on technique strikes me as overdone. The discussion of cane technique, for example, is quite rigid and supports (perhaps unintentionally) the position of some cane instructors that very young children should not be given canes because they cannot yet perform the techniques correctly. The emphasis given to technique, in fact, becomes almost reverential in two parts of this chapter. First parents are advised not to hold hands with their child. ("Whenever possible, you should encourage your child to use the proper grip.") I feel sorry for parents who might be inclined to follow this advice, for they might never experience the pure, normal pleasure of holding hands with their small child! Incidentally, the proper grip entails "grasping the guide's wrist, positioning the thumb to the outside and the four fingers to the inside of the guide's wrist. The grip should be secure, but comfortable for the guide. The child holds his upper arm parallel and close to the side of his body, forming approximately a 90-degree angle with his lower arm so that he is positioned approximately one-half step behind the guide." I cannot help thinking that this, along with the detailed instructions about "narrow passageway technique" and "stairway technique," are much ado about very little!

Later, in a section called "Modifying Your Home," the authors explain that some consistency in the home environment will allow the child to become familiar with the spatial arrangement and to develop confidence in his mobility. It is then suggested--incredibly, I think--that after the child learns where all the furniture is, parents should move it around! "Move the toy chest to a different corner of the room so your child has to use his self-protective techniques to travel the new route." The question must be asked, who or what is being served here, the child and his independent mobility or the system and its techniques? Does any person need this kind of outer-imposed stress in his or her own home?

Other problems exist in the "Modifying Your Home" section. Since the authors' premise is that "how your home is arranged can greatly affect the development of O&M skills," parents may get the idea that they will constantly be rearranging the furniture in order for their child to move about the house. First it is suggested that "you could initially arrange the furniture along the wall so that he could travel along the furniture without having to move out into open space" (heaven forbid!), and then parents are told, "As your child becomes more motivated and proficient, you could rearrange the furniture and provide landmarks. For example, when your child contacts the coffee table, instead of continuing in the same direction along the wall, he would turn left, trail the edge of the coffee table to the end, continue across two feet of open space to the big chair, walk around the chair to the wall, and turn the corner into the kitchen." This makes getting across a room seem impossible! If this were not bad enough, parents are then told, "As your child becomes still more proficient, you can challenge him to continue to use his O&M skills by creating a more complex environment.

That is, increase or decrease the amount of furniture or rearrange it." Again, if any of these professionals ever actually lived with a blind child, they would quickly see that these ideas are not only impractical, but present unnecessary obstacles to the goals of confidence and independent mobility.

I have saved the best for last. In contrast to the 226 pages that precede it, the "Growing into Literacy" chapter is downright cheerful! In a noticeably different and refreshing tone, the author of this chapter, Alan J. Koenig, writes about visually impaired children as if they were on a par with sighted children! He makes laying the foundation for literacy seem not only possible, but simple and fun. The author points out how the early experiences a visually impaired child needs are the same ones that sighted children need, with simple adaptations made for blindness. Parents will be empowered by this information; it will help them to feel competent, knowledgeable, in control of the situation, and on the right track.

Bias toward eyesight is evident in many chapters of this book, but not in this one. With much common sense the author writes, "If your child has vision, visual information should be paired with other types of sensory information. . . . Visual information should not be the only source of information. Again, the more senses that can be used to learn things, the better."

The author is clearly a Braille enthusiast who pleasantly addresses the usual criticisms of Braille, includes a reference to the "handy slate and stylus," points out that audio tapes and technology do not replace literacy, and several times suggests making contact with a blind adult!

In conclusion, too much of this book expresses a negative attitude toward blindness; parents will be left with little hope. Too many qualifications are placed on the child's chances for success (the phrase "as independent as possible" is used repeatedly); there are far too few references to the skills of blindness. The absolute distinction made between visual impairment and blindness will keep many children from learning blindness skills that would enable them to function more efficiently, thus vastly reducing the "frustrations" and "problems stemming from visual impairment" that the authors so frequently refer to. Many references are made to turning to others for help--friends, relatives, doctors, counselors, and especially "vision professionals." Surprisingly little emphasis is given to finding other parents of visually impaired children. One author mentions consumer groups, and one author actually suggests seeking out a blind person.

Each chapter ends with parent comments. I do not understand why the book's editor chose to include them, since they are, for the most part, very negative and quite sad. I suppose their inclusion flows from the book's basic premise, that blindness is absolutely awful. I know from the professional literature that there is a (large) school of thought that parents who do not dwell on how handicapped their children are and who instead decide to pick themselves up and just move forward, are in denial. I am also reminded of a certain style of parent support group, in which success seems to be measured by how many people are crying by meeting's end.

Mention is made a few times in the book of the idea that "your child is a person first and only secondarily a person who happens to have a visual impairment" and "visual impairment is only one of your child's characteristics" and "we must be diligent in our insistence that there is no shame attributed to the word `blind.'" Still, these end up being only lip service. The book speaks for itself in its studious avoidance of the B-word and its clear message that every aspect of your child's life and your family's life will be negatively affected by visual impairment. Parents new to blindness are not likely to have any defense against this sort of negative view, and more experienced parents will not need the basic information this book provides.

 

WHY I AM CHOOSING BLINDNESS: PERSONAL REFLECTIONS
ON THE NEED FOR A FUNCTIONAL DEFINITION

by Scott Feldman

From the Editor: One of the most annoying misconceptions about the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind is the notion that committed Federationists are proud of their blindness and, if given a chance, would choose it over returned vision. Those who have heard and believed such statements are enraged, I think, because they consider it needlessly cruel to encourage the development of neurotic and twisted ideas in people who are already facing vision loss. Federationists, on the other hand, are frustrated when we are accused of holding such notions because, in fact, we don't.

Learning to be unapologetic and to resist feelings of inferiority because of blindness is very different from being proud of the characteristic. It is as absurd to be proud of blindness as it is to take pride in being six feet four, having size five feet, or demonstrating an IQ of 145. One may be comfortable or not with any of these characteristics, but one can certainly claim no credit for possessing them.

A person might well take pride in developing his or her artistic ability, athletic skill, intellectual powers, or expertise in the alternative skills of blindness, but that is very different from claiming personal credit for a God-given characteristic. Of course, being only human (and therefore often a little ridiculous), people frequently take pride in their naturally wavy hair, quick reflexes, or green eyes. It isn't surprising, then, that, in the process of evolving a healthy identity as a competent blind person, some of us act for a while as though taking pride in blindness were the goal rather than achieving self-confidence and effectiveness as a blind person.

Debunking the second half of the misconception is more complex. I don't think I know a single blind person who would actually choose blindness above fully functioning sight, if the exchange were an actual option. In a world structured for and largely dependent on sight, it is obviously more efficient to use sight to get things done. But such a choice is virtually never an option. Most people with a little residual vision are faced with the dilemma of either depending on very restricted visual data for doing tasks or mastering alternative techniques for getting the job done. The pragmatic question these people face in situation after situation is which strategy would be more efficient. The emotional freight that such decisions carry can be heavy indeed. If one has never learned effective alternative techniques and if one has always depended on vision, then vision--even very poor or painful vision--often seems the easier choice. Family and friends reinforce this tendency every time they urge the person not to "act blind" because, after all, he or she can still see something.

Recognizing these pressures, experienced members of the Federation understand the importance of encouraging those with vision problems to get to know able blind people who are comfortable using the alternative skills of blindness. It isn't that we prefer blindness; we just prefer efficiency, confidence, comfort, and success. For almost everyone with less than 10 percent of normal vision, this means using some combination of blindness skills and remaining, genuinely usable vision. Working out the combination is time-consuming and often emotionally demanding.

One man who has given this struggle a lot of thought in the past few months is Scott Feldman, a graduate student in clinical psychology and a member of the Chicago Chapter. This is what he has to say about his journey into self-understanding: "But that's not you--you're only print-impaired." It was my best friend Amy speaking, and she was clearly concerned about me.

Until recently I suppose that I thought of myself in this way as well. My visual problems first manifested themselves after extended periods of reading, and reading print was the first activity that I eventually had to relinquish, in my early twenties. Even today, several years later, I could force myself to read a small amount of print in an emergency. but I would pay the price with accommodative spasms. When I try to see things at near distance, my eyes lock, as in a muscle cramp, and later double vision and a throbbing headache set in as my eyes struggle to relax. I do not like pain, nor do I like setting myself up for failure. Since 1990 I have listened to my books instead, and I write with a speech-adapted computer.

Last year I began to learn Braille because in many situations speech is an inadequate substitute for print, such as when I have to give a lecture or presentation from notes. Braille is coming slowly, and materials in any accessible format are hard to come by. Only five percent of printed material published each year is converted to speech or Braille. So I most certainly do feel print-impaired.

This might have been the end of the story, except for one, well two little problems. To begin with, there are many other things besides print that can get too close for my comfort: people's faces, a kitchen counter or dining room table, or a Rembrandt, to name a few. I suppose that you could say that I am face-impaired, food-impaired, and art-impaired as well. Better, let's say that I am functionally blind at near distance and leave it at that. This is where I was several months ago, after much kicking and screaming--not to mention a year-long depression that nearly sapped my will to live.

Life is not fair, nor is it simple. At present I get around without the assistance of a cane or dog. Walking outside is one of the activities recommended to me by my visual therapists because it allows me to gaze into the distance and relax my focusing system. (A world-renowned neuro-ophthalmologist who first diagnosed my condition as severe accommodative and convergence insufficiency suggested that I become a forest ranger. When I said that I wanted to be a scholar, he asked me if I would mind if he prayed for me. I did not.)

If you are sighted, you may be aware of relaxing your eyes, particularly when you are walking along, lost in thought. Your eyes do not fixate on anything in particular but take in the general environment. You perceive gross forms, color, and most definitely movement. You do not crash into things. This is how I have gotten around for the past six years. It works, except for the fact that I cannot make out street signs or other such niceties of modern travel. To be precise, if I squint through the various overlapping images, I can sometimes make out street signs, but then I get back into that same painful cycle that I described earlier.

So traveling is the second little problem. I was not aware of it while in Los Angeles for graduate school, where my range of independent travel was effectively limited by my busy campus schedule and inability to drive. Nor was it a problem when I returned to Chicago on a leave of absence since I know the city very well, having spent the latter part of my childhood and my adolescence there.

But this past October I traveled with my family to London and Paris. It was a lovely trip, especially because of the English theater. During a side trip to Stratford on Avon, I scalped a ticket to the Royal Shakespeare Company's performance of Macbeth. I sat next to a delightful old woman who had been coming to Stratford for decades. She recalled the glorious days when the likes of Richard Burton were members of the company. The lights went out, and we fell silent, expectant. At the end of the performance, she asked me whether I had enjoyed it, not being able to make out the individual actors. As it turned out, I had enjoyed the performance more than she because I had been able to focus on the poetry, while she had difficulty getting beyond her aggravation at the inauthenticity of the costumes and stage set. (At one point, to her horror, the gate keeper lit a cigarette.)

It was walking around on my own in London that made me realize how compromised my ability to navigate new places visually has become. The first day I went out I squinted at the street signs painted on the sides of buildings to make out where I was. I did not enjoy the theater that evening or the following afternoon because my eyes reminded me, in no uncertain terms, that I had mistreated them. A couple of days later I wanted to venture north to visit the Folk Institute because I am very fond of Irish music. My parents said that it would be no trouble to go with me, but I felt that it was important to figure out how to travel there independently. The influence of the National Federation of the Blind was in full evidence here. With the help of an excellent map--and my parents' eyes--I familiarized myself with the general layout of central London and with the specific route I planned to take. Then I set off for the Kensington underground station, our local base of operations. To make a long story short, after a few wrong turns and requests for directions from a couple of polite Londoners (they are so polite), I found the place. Happily, I returned to the subway with four new CD's in hand, the result of a thoughtful introduction to the institute's collection by another extremely polite Londoner.

My travels the following few days were much the same. Instead of asking my eyes what street I was on, I asked someone more reliable. As you might suspect, this strategy failed miserably after we took the newly constructed tunnel under the English Channel to Paris. Being a native English-speaker and a sometimes Spanish-speaker, I couldn't even begin to formulate the appropriate question, let alone understand the response. To the extent that I walked around on my own, such as when my parents indulged in a visit to a museum, I traced large circles around prominent landmarks.

As I sit here in my new apartment in Minneapolis, staring out into an impossibly early snowfall, the little question of how to navigate an unfamiliar city blossoms into a preoccupation. Besides the question of how to map out the city, pinpointing the places that hold special interest for me (such as a folk music club or dim-sum restaurant), I wonder how I will shop for necessities. Twice now my refrigerator has gone empty before I asked a neighbor with whom I am acquainted for assistance shopping. Of course, I could walk into the grocery store and ask for customer service, but I am not blind, right?

Actually, Amy, I suspect that you and I are wrong. It is true that I do not meet legal criteria for blindness, which are based on simple indices of acuity and field of vision. I am not a low-vision candidate--I have plenty of it. It just doesn't seem to be working for me.

True, many people have strong negative stereotypes about blind people, into which they will try to lock me if I identify myself as blind in public by using a long white cane, for example. They will see me only as a blind person. But I have seen much more in many of the people I have met through the National Federation of the Blind. When I am in their company, rather than feeling ashamed of who I have become, I feel empowered to work to create a more positive image of blindness. I am starting here.

 

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR NEW COPYRIGHT LAW

by James Gashel

From the Editor: James Gashel is the NFB's Director of Governmental Affairs. As Braille Monitor readers are well aware, the National Federation of the Blind played a pivotal role in securing passage of amendments to the Copyright Act during the second session of the 104th Congress. The changes which are now in the law resulted from negotiations between Federation leaders and responsible officials of the Association of American Publishers.

The amendments to the Copyright Act were included in a bill to fund operations of the Congress for fiscal year 1997. The bill is known as the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act. Although the primary purpose of the bill is to approve spending for operating the House of Representatives and the Senate through September 30, 1997, funds are also included for the Library of Congress and other activities that fall within the legislative branch. As the Constitution specifies, all bills to appropriate money must originate in the House of Representatives and then be considered by the Senate. In the instance of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill, the House did not include the copyright amendments in its original version, but the Senate added the provisions as section 316. The House then agreed to this change. Unlike the spending provisions of the bill, which generally expire at the end of September, 1997, the copyright amendments are permanent.

In the months since enactment of the new law many questions have come to the Federation about what to do to comply. In the first place, there is a common misconception that anyone is now permitted to reproduce any printed material for blind people. Technically and actually, this is not quite so. Only authorized entities are now allowed to convert printed matter into Braille and other formats without permission.

Authorized entities include both public and private nonprofit agencies or organizations such as schools, libraries, training programs, book transcribing groups, and the like. With a definition like this, any individual who wants to have material reproduced in Braille or another special format ought to be able to find a qualified group to do the work or to sponsor having it done.

Another question has to do with the effective date of the new provisions. The law which includes the copyright amendments was signed by President Clinton on September 16, 1996. The changes to the Copyright Act were immediately effective from that date forward. Some people have assumed that material which was published prior to September 16, 1996, cannot be reproduced without permission. This is not the case. The exemption for reproduction and distribution of material in specialized formats applies to any copyrighted work, no matter when the work was published and copyrighted in the United States. The exemption would not apply, of course, if the reproduction or distribution of the work in a specialized format occurred prior to September 16, 1996; but this is a different matter altogether. For all practical purposes, any nondramatic literary work that exists (no matter when published) may now be reproduced.

So the question then comes: what about a copyright notice in view of the fact that permission to reproduce printed matter is no longer required? The answer is found in the law itself. The requirements--there are only two--are quite clear-cut: (1) All works which are reproduced or distributed in a specialized format, including Braille, audio, or digital reproductions, must contain a statement that "Further reproduction or distribution in a format other than a specialized format is prohibited." According to the Library of Congress, this notice must appear both in print (for example, on the label of a recorded disc or cassette) and in the audio, Braille, or digital text itself.

(2) Every reproduction must provide identifying copyright information by saying: "Copyright, (holder's name), (date)." It is just that simple. The permission language which used to appear is no longer appropriate because permission is not required, to which one might observe that most laws result in complicating our lives even when they do so in the name of providing us with opportunities. Here, however, is an example of a law which has had exactly the opposite effect. The required statements are clear, short, and to the point. That's the way it is, and there is really nothing else to say.

 

[PHOTO:Sharon Gold is seated at her desk with shelves visible behind her. A Braille Lite lies on the right side of the desk. [Photographer Leilani Hu, reprinted by permission. Copyright The Sacramento Bee.] CAPTION: Sharon Gold]

DOING BUSINESS AS USUAL

From the Editor: Sharon Gold is a long-time leader in the National Federation of the Blind. She has used her expertise about Social Security to assist numbers of blind people across the country. But most people do not know that, in addition to her dedicated work in the Federation, Sharon has always been a canny businesswoman. On August 12, 1996, a fine story about her appeared in The Sacramento Bee. Here it is:

 

Looking for Golden Opportunities
Businesswoman Doesn't Let Disability Stop her from Succeeding

by Kate Rix

Sharon Gold's office suite looks pretty much like any other real estate investment office.

Her investment and marketing firm, housed in a two-story office building she owns on Freeport Boulevard, is decorated with brightly colored artwork, dark blue carpeting, and wooden bookshelves loaded with binders and reference books. But there's a difference. Gold can't see the artwork, the color of her decor, or the lush foliage outside her window. She is blind.

Gold, fifty-five, is practical and matter-of-fact about her disability. "Being blind doesn't keep me from getting up in the morning and getting my work done," said Gold, seated near a window in her large, airy office. "Blindness can be reduced to a mere nuisance."

In September [1995] Gold incorporated SLG Enterprises, a variety of ventures including marketing of indoor air filters and investing in distressed real estate to fix it up for resale or lease.

Equipped with the additional tools of a voice synthesizer on her computer and a driver to take her places, Gold manages assets of about $3 million. She says her gross receipts for the past year were about $500,000.

Her business isn't unusual and neither is her method--sometimes she hires an agent to help with sale negotiations and sometimes she handles them herself. But as a disabled woman over fifty, Gold's success is in her blindness to obstacles and in her skill doing what all successful business owners do: hire a good crew and roll with changes in the market.

Her professional life is a study in adaptability. She's worked as a 4-H instructor to small children, an elementary school teacher, a dog breeder, a ranch manager, and a consultant to home business owners.

"I've always had something going on," said Gold, a petite woman with a thick thatch of silver hair. "Like successful sighted people, I surround myself with a good crew, and I've always had an inkling for business."

Gold has always juggled several jobs. While working as an elementary school teacher, she also worked for the Federation of the Blind of California. She retired from teaching in 1982 to devote herself to the Federation full time. She worked as president of the Federation for seventeen years and also bought residential property on the side. She left the Federation to go into business full time.

Today she buys real estate that needs a lot of work, hires a crew to fix it up, and then sells the property at a profit. She is also president of the Sacramento Chapter of the Federation of the Blind.

The secret to survival, she says, is having a diverse portfolio and profit-making as a goal.

"I don't buy things that aren't a good deal for me," she says. "But when I get through with a place, there will be jobs that came out of it, a house and neighborhood improved a little, and someone who gets a better place to live."

But in addition to possessing business sense, disabled business people like Gold have to challenge people's assumptions, says Brenda Premo, director of the State Department of Rehabilitation. "As a culture we tend to believe a thing should be done a particular way," said Premo. "For a person who is blind or in a chair or deaf, the biggest challenge is communicating that they can do the job they say they can do."

Premo, who is legally blind, worked with Gold when Gold was President of the National Federation of the Blind of California. Buckling under the pressure of a disability, Premo says, has not been a problem for Gold. "As a woman who is blind and over fifty she's got three strikes against her," said Premo. "And I think they have equal bearing. Her skill as a good manager has helped her eclipse her disability."

Tom Walcott, a real estate agent with Bishop Hawk, who represents Gold when she needs an agent, says she is just plain good at doing business.

"She's tough. She gets extremely competitive bids for construction," he said. "By the time she gets all the numbers she needs, she's as informed if not more informed than any sighted investor."

Walcott represented Gold when she was negotiating to buy the Freeport Executive Building about three years ago. Gold was a tenant in the run-down building at the time in a suite leased by the Federation of the Blind of California.

When the building lost all but two tenants and the Canadian Imperial Bank repossessed it from the former owner, Walcott said, Gold wanted to buy it. Together with Walcott, she negotiated a sale for $550,000. She says she's doubled its value since then by restaining the building's redwood shingles, putting in new landscaping, and aggressively finding tenants for all but one of its eleven suites, including the Freeport Conference Center. "I'm really fond of this building's architecture," said Gold, fingering her pager, which has just beeped. "Just giving it a new paint job really made a difference."

 

ALMOST HEAVEN IN '97--NEW ORLEANS--
A MECCA FOR FINE FOOD

by Jerry Whittle

From the Editor: The Louisiana affiliate is already working hard to ensure that the 1997 convention will be unforgettable. Their efforts are, of course, ably reinforced by the incomparable city of New Orleans itself. Here is Jerry Whittle's most recent endeavor to tempt you to join us June 29 to July 6 in the Big Easy:

New Orleans is considered one of the greatest cities in the world for haute cuisine, and the members of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana want to make sure that all those who attend the 1997 National Convention have the opportunity to take advantage of the hundreds of dining choices available in the Crescent City. We have borrowed some recommendations from a book entitled New Orleans: the Definitive Guide to Architectural and Cultural Treasures by Roulhac Toledano. His suggestions for many of the more famous restaurants in New Orleans appear below. We hope that everyone attending the National Convention will have the opportunity to venture out and enjoy one of these wonderful places.

Acme Oyster and Seafood House, 724 Iberville Street, (504) 522-5973. This establishment is accessible to both the French Quarter and the central business district. Stop shopping and relax with the best fried food and sandwiches you can find. Low to moderate prices.

Antoine's, 713 St. Louis Street, (504) 581-4422. Antoine Alciatore opened a small boarding house on St. Louis Street soon after his arrival in New Orleans from Marseille in 1840. Five generations of his children have run Antoine's, each generation returning to France to learn more about cuisine and the restaurant business. Restaurants worldwide know Antoine's, and so do all the provincials who recognize New Orleans as their mecca for special occasions. They come by private jet and by train. Some even take the Greyhound Bus, but there's always a meal at Antoine's.

You can decide with the help of a waiter, but you can start with Oysters Ellis, after Dubonnet (red) with a twist of lemon. Despite the temptation of seafood, have a "nice tournedo." Souffl,d potatoes are a must, and Antoine's is the only place where sauces are essential to the dining experience. Turtle soup and sweetbreads Financiere are the Proteus Day luncheon favorites on the Monday before Mardi Gras. High prices.

Bacco, 310 Chartres Street, (504) 522-2426. Located in the De La Poste Hotel, this restaurant has captured the imagination of French Quarter diners and was listed in the top twenty restaurants for 1993. High prices.

Bayona, 430 Dauphine Street, (504) 525-4455. This is the project of award-winning chef Susan Spicer. A tiny place, pleasant, very European, Bayona has lovely presentations of good food. Her garlic soup is a non pareil.

Bistro, 733 Toulouse Street, (504) 528-9206 is located at the Maison de Ville and is an alternative lunch and dinner place, quite intimate with beautifully presented French-style food.

Bon Ton Cafe, 401 Magazine Street, (504) 524-3386, Brick walls with wide folding doors and high ceilings envelop the guests. Crawfish bisque or etoufee, bread pudding, and whiskey sauce are essential parts of the casual dining scene for lunch or dinner.

Brennan's, 417 Royal Street, (504) 525-9711. The need for expansion of their popular restaurant business brought the Brennan family to this address in 1955. The family business has become history in New Orleans because of their efforts to create a distinctive cuisine and operation. Here is the New Orleans Irish success story, out of politics and architecture. High prices.

Brigsten's, 723 Dante Street, (504) 861-7610. Brigsten's is located in an old house near the levee. It was rated as one of the ten best restaurants in 1993. It also has a great uptown location among wonderful shops all in picturesque old cottages.

Brocato's, 537 St. Ann Street. Brocato's is Angelo Brocato's family pastry shop, a longtime Quarter institution. Try the granita: it's the real thing.

Cafe du Monde, 813 Decatur Street. Although the location had to change, as did the management during various French Market renovations, the Cafe du Monde has been packed with locals and tourists for generations twenty-four hours a day. Order cafe au lait and beignets since it's all you can get, except for orange juice, hot chocolate, and regular coffee for the unadventurous. Low prices.

Camellia Grill, 626 South Carrollton Avenue, (504) 866-9573. Where else can you eat at a counter and have big cotton napkins? Your hamburgers, omelettes, waffles, coffee, and mocha freezes are served by professional waiters in pressed white jackets.

Casamento's, 4330 Magazine Street, (504) 895-9761. Here the specialty is oysters. Some member of the Casamento family will serve you while you enjoy the shiny white walls, tile floor, and oyster stew. Even the sidewalk out front is covered in tile, and you'll see gunnysacks full of newly delivered oysters or oyster shells set out to haul away.

Christian's, 3835 Iberville Street, (504) 482-4924. This restaurant is beautifully situated in a former church but named after the owner, Chris Ansel of the Galatoire clan. He opted for his own restaurant after learning the business in France and at the family restaurant. They serve lunch Thursday and Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday.

Clancy's, 6100 Annunciation Street at Webster Street, (504) 895-1111. Clancy's is located in one of those old-time frame cottages that has changed through the years from the old corner hangout to an upscale dining experience, reasonably priced.

Commander's Palace, 1403 Washington Ave., (504) 895-1111. Every neighborhood has its institutions and all the things that give it wholeness. In the Garden District it's all rolled up on Washington Avenue around Prytania Street with Lafayette Cemetery and Commander's Palace. Opened in 1880 by Emile Commander, the restaurant was bought by the Brennan family in 1974. It works because of their flair for ingenuity and good food. Commander's is an occasion itself, but take time to walk around the neighborhood a bit. Look at the bollards, great cast iron standards sticking out of the brick pavement. They kept the carriages from going down into the deep granite drainage ditches, also worth a careful perusal. Look through the screens of shrubs to catch glimpses of architectural details in fairystyle settings, cast iron lyre pattern railings, Corinthian column caps, and entablatures, eyecatching because of their very misproportion. Imposing facades hide chaste gable sides, and the service wings are always longer than the houses. You'll see new combinations of classical decorative design. But it works, both individually and as a collective whole of Classical and Italianate motifs, jumbled and combined to create special houses in a special neighborhood, unique to the South. Here is a neighborhood that seemed to have been built almost entirely during the Civil War and the harsh days of Reconstruction. High prices.

Croissant d'Or, 617 Ursulines Street. This is the place for breakfast in the old Brocato's building. Look down and see the sign in the tile for the Ladies' entrance. Low prices.

Degas, 3127 Esplanade Avenue, (504) 945-5635. Degas is named because in 1872 Edgar Degas stayed at the Musson House across the street at 2306 Esplanade Avenue. Moderate prices.

Dooky Chase, 2301 Orleans Street. Dooky Chase is the most famous African-American restaurant in New Orleans, where Leah Chase and her husband Dooky have been preparing great lunches and dinners for decades. Moderate prices.

Emeril's, 800 Tchoupitoulas Street, (504) 528-9393. This restaurant is owned by the chef, Emeril Lagasse, who has won national awards.

Feelings, also known as Cafe d'Aunoy, 2600 Chartres Street. This restaurant has a residential setting with good food. Moderate prices.

Gabrielle, 3201 Esplanade Avenue, (504) 948-6233. This restaurant is where forty guests at a seating enjoy food cooked by the owner, who trained under Paul Prudhomme. Moderate prices.

Galatoire's, 209 Bourbon Street, doesn't take reservations. Line up with the locals at 11:30 every morning or try for the second seating. Lots of New Orleanians go straight to Galatoire's right after work. You should order Trout Almandine or get more adventurous with Crabmeat Ravigotte (you can't get that anywhere else). Ask for a demitasse of dark roast coffee if you're not brave enough for a cup of the bitter chicory. The waiters are an essential part of the Galatoire's experience, as are the mirror-covered walls reflecting the white tablecloths, waiters dressed in black and white, and the linen-clad Orleanians, the women with their pearls. High prices.

Gautreau's, 1728 Soniat Street, (504) 899-7397. Uptown eating means restaurants in little commercial buildings in residential areas, such as Gautreau's, a drugstore building with tin ceilings and an unglazed tile floor. This restaurant began as a project of Ann Avegno Russell, who began it despite the distraction of six children; it barrelled to international fame in a short time.

Gumbo Shop, 630 St. Peter Street, (504) 525-1486. The owners may change every lifetime or so, but the gumbo and the place remain just as much fun as they were in the 1950's, and the restaurant is located in a Spanish colonial building dating from 1795. Low to moderate prices.

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, 416 Chartres Street. The waiters are mostly friends of the owners. Low to moderate prices.

La Madeleine, 547 St. Ann Street, (504) 568-9950, is in the Lower Pontalba apartments and is recent and owned by people from France: bread, coffee, and atmosphere with light meals, like the Caesar salad and the Croque Monsieur. Low prices.

Liuzza's Restaurant and Bar, 3635 Bienville Street and 234 North Telemachus Street, (504) 482-9120. It's worth the ride to experience lunches and dinners with beer in great cold stemmed glasses along with your po-boy.

Mandina's, 3800 Canal Street, (504) 482-9179, provides a similar experience. Only in New Orleans will you find Italian restaurants with "Wop-Salad" written on the menu.

Mother's, 401 Poydras Street, (504) 523-9656. This restaurant is a mainstay for everyone from business people to longshore workers, who stand in line to pick a po-boy or a hot lunch New Orleans style. Low prices.

Napoleon House, 500 Chartres Street, (504) 524-9752. This is not only a great setting (they haven't spent a cent on decor since 1814) but has great muffelettas and offers small portions of all the great Creole and cajun specialties. It's been going strong since the 1930's, at least as a bar with food. Low to moderate prices.

Parasol's, 2533 Constance Street, (504) 897-5413. this is a bar and family restaurant in the heart of the Irish Channel, and it's an old-time substitute for the "club" for the Irish constituents.

Peristyle, 1041 Dumaine Street, (504) 593-9536. This is an important place to eat, and the setting, with murals of City Park, is very New Orleans.

Praline Connection, 542 Frenchmen Street, (504) 943-3934. The Praline Connection is open for three meals a day with late hours. This corner neighborhood restaurant concentrates on soul food and sweets from the adjacent sweetshop.

Tujague's, 823 Decatur Street, (504) 525-8676. Tujague's has been in business since 1856, presenting its brisket of beef in a six-course, prix fixe French-style presentation after shrimp remoulade. It's casual, but you don't order; they bring it, and it's just what you wanted even though you may not have known it.

Over the years the staff and students of the Louisiana Center for the Blind have ventured to New Orleans on numerous occasions. We have dined at many different restaurants and would like to suggest some additional dining spots that we have enjoyed for various reasons. For example, one of the most colorful restaurants in New Orleans is a pink, stuccoed house known as Petunia's. Located at 817 St. Louis, just off Bourbon in the Quarter, Petunia's serves wonderful crees, quiches, and an assortment of typical creole and cajun cuisine. We would highly recommend it for brunch or dinner. For reservations call 522-6440.

Maspero's on 601 Decatur Street is another popular, inexpensive restaurant with an informal atmosphere. Maspero's offers local beers on tap and muffelettas, gumbo, and other short order foods. We find that we get our money's worth there, but we have often waited in line for the privilege, since they take no reservations.

Richards, located at 3944 Chef Highway, is a hole-in-the-wall place that has never closed in twenty-five years. From breakfast to midnight snacks, Richards is open twenty-four hours a day. The waitresses are gnarled veterans, but they sling some mean hash. Hot links, grits, and eggs for breakfast and a po-boy at three in the morning. It is outside of town, so a bus or cab will be needed. No alcohol is served there--just simple food with a most unusual array of locals and feisty waitresses.

Finally, we would heartily recommend the House of Blues, located at 225 Decatur. Featuring live entertainment from rhythm and blues giants like the Neville Brothers and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the House of Blues offers some wonderful cuisine, such as ribs and collard greens and cornbread and jambalaya, in a boisterous and bluesy atmosphere. For reservations call 529-2583.

All the food in New Orleans is delicious. Even the fast food restaurants in the Quarter, such as McDonald's and Popeye's, seem to rise to the challenge and prepare their standard fare in keeping with the great chefs of the Big Easy. Everyone will have to come to New Orleans to experience the wonderful variety and the ethnic restaurants of the great seaport city first-hand. The Louisiana affiliate will offer restaurant guides in Braille and print at the information desk during the National Convention. We will also be on hand to make suggestions and help you decide just which way to go for the best food in town. Get those hotel reservations in to the National Center for the Blind as quickly as possible. The rates are one in a room, $40 per night; two in a room, $42; three in a room, $44; four in a room, $46.

Written reservations should be addressed to Mr. Cobb's attention. In order to confirm a reservation, you will need to send either a check or money order for $40 as a deposit or give Mr. Cobb a credit card number. The credit card account will be charged immediately. If a reservation is canceled prior to June 1, 1997, half of the deposit will be returned. After that date deposits will not be returned. Exceptions may be made in certain demonstrated emergencies.

Bon appetit and laissez le bon temps roulet.

 

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Curtis Chong]

AMERICAN EXPRESS SPOTLIGHTS CURTIS CHONG

From the Editor: The following article appeared in the October/November, 1996, edition of Connections, an internal publication of American Express. Here it is:

 

Technology Helping Technologies

by Dinah Rose

Curtis Chong is an organized individual, evidenced by the fact that, among other indicators, he answers E-mail messages promptly. This, by itself, is a trait to be much admired in today's busy work environment but takes on particular meaning since Chong, a designer/consultant for the American Express Financial Advisors in Minneapolis, is blind. In order to answer those E-mails, he must first read them with the assistance of a special speech-output device.

It's a case of technology helping technologies--finding the right combination of hardware, software, and oftentimes just plain creativity, to help meet the needs of American Express employees who are blind, deaf, or have other physical conditions that make it difficult to perform their jobs.

For Chong technology begins with the most simple of equipment-- a Perkins Braille writer and a slate and stylus. With these he can sit in a meeting and record notes for later reference. On his desk is a PC connected to a Braille embosser and speech output. The computerized voice is difficult for the uninitiated to understand, but it enables Chong to handle most electronic transactions without assistance. He also has a talking terminal he uses to access the mainframe. He has another system set up at his home for disaster recovery, which also features speech output and through which he can plug into the mainframe off site.

In addition to the sophisticated technology, a key piece of equipment is what Chong refers to as a "biological plug interface"--a human reader supplied by the company, who reads paper documents and other sources not readily accessed. With these tools Chong, who has been an American Express employee since 1980, manages nine people and in his spare time serves as president of the computer sciences group for the National Federation of the Blind, specializing in adaptive technology for the blind.

Like all good managers, he takes individual abilities into consideration when assigning tasks; and, if it involves writing, understanding concepts, initial architectural work, he will generally take responsibility. "If it's something detailed, however, like analyzing a data dump or detailed looking at print material, I'll generally give it to someone else to do who can do it faster," he said.

Technology makes all the difference for many people when it comes to doing their jobs. Those who have mobility problems with their hands can still communicate with a speech-to-text program, permitting them to speak into a microphone to direct a computer, not only to type text, but to open and close windows and perform virtually all functions. Software and hardware have been designed to answer many needs.

New technology is not always an asset to the handicapped, however. Chong said the proliferation of more visual screen layouts through the use of embedded graphics, presentations, and Web pages are complicating communications for the visually impaired by rapidly outdating old software solutions. Each individual with limitations must investigate the aids available and determine what best suits their needs.

The company is researching a centralized accommodations center, which would feature assistive technology, as well as preventative measures for problems such as repetitive motion injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome. This not only would help employees identify the technology best suited for their needs but would permit the company to take advantage of centralized purchasing and the resulting pricing benefits.

 

PERFORMING THE AVERAGE JOB
A QUESTION OF TECHNOLOGY

by Curtis Chong

From the Editor: Curtis Chong is President of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, a division of the National Federation of the Blind. The following little essay first appeared on the Internet, where it has generated a good bit of discussion. Curtis articulates some very real concerns for everyone interested in seeing that blind people have the opportunity to compete equally for jobs. This is what he says:

Can the average blind person really perform the average job in the average place of business, given the state of technology today? I have been minded to raise this question in light of the many inquiries I receive from blind people who are interested in obtaining employment and who are then confronted with the need to use a computer (with unfamiliar or incompatible software) on the job. I have been forced to confront this issue head-on partly because of a dramatic lack of technical expertise evident in the field of work with the blind today. (Well, I shouldn't say "dramatic" actually. "Inconsistent" might be a better term to use in this context.)

Consider the case of a blind person interested in working as a customer service representative, an order taker, a collections agent, or a typist. Inevitably, during the interview questions will come up about the blind person's ability to use the computer in the office. But before the blind person can respond with an unequivocal "yes!" he or she must traverse a virtual mine field of issues: what kind of computers are we talking about here? PC compatibles? Macintosh computers? DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) equipment? Sun workstations?

Even if the workstation is a PC-compatible (something which we as blind people have used quite a bit), one has to consider what operating system and application software will be used on the job. Will the customer service representative, secretary, or order taker be required to run DOS, Windows, OS/2, Windows 95, Windows/NT, or some other new operating system? What specific application software (the software that does the real work) will be used on the job? Is that software compatible with the technology the blind person must use to operate the computer without sighted assistance? Then there is the question of the access technology (screen reader, if you will) that the blind person will use. Does such technology exist for the computer that will be used on the job? Even if it does, will the blind person be able to use the screen reader that he or she has been trained to use, or will compatibility issues force him or her to switch to another screen-reading system to be learned from scratch?

In some situations rehabilitation technology specialists have spent a lot of time and effort customizing screen-reading systems to deal with complicated screen formats to maximize the blind person's productivity. Although initially this would appear to have a large payoff (the blind person gets the job), what will happen when the company decides to change its screen formats or (even worse) convert everybody to the latest and greatest graphical platform? Where will the blind person's job be then? Who will perform the technical research and the customization so that the blind person can continue to work?

In days gone by a blind secretary who could type quickly and accurately was a highly valued commodity. Today this is simply not the case. Typing a document in plain text, using only one type font, renders it unattractive and unappealing to sighted coworkers, who too often believe that a document is useless unless it contains different fonts used at strategic points throughout the text. Moreover, the electronic documents produced in the workplace today are more likely to contain pictures, diagrams, and other non-textual representations in order to make the material more understandable. The technology we use to read the screen is not mature enough at this stage to enable us to function competitively in this context.

Even the blind computer programmer is not unaffected. A growing number of programming tools are moving away from text-based source code. Some of them force you to drag objects from one box and drop them into another. Our text-based access technology does not enable us to perform this kind of work with speed and efficiency. If the graphical trend in programming continues, blind programmers may be relegated to working on so-called legacy systems simply to keep their jobs.

It would seem that the average blind person today, in order to obtain and retain the average job in the average place of business, must have access to some sophisticated technological expertise. Where does this expertise come from? The rehabilitation system? And even if technological expertise is consistently available in all parts of the country, will this be enough to help us to compete in the workplace on a basis of equality with our sighted peers? I for one simply don't know. What I do know is that the technological challenges we must confront are formidable and real. Unless they are overcome, it will be even more difficult for the blind to secure employment in the offices of tomorrow.

 

[PHOTO/CAPTION: James Salas]

ALBUQUERQUE PUBLIC LIBRARY MAILS DVS
VIDEOS FREE MATTER

by James L. Salas

From the Editor: Jim Salas is the President of the Albuquerque Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico. The Governor recently named him to a seat on the Board of Trustees of the New Mexico School for the Visually Impaired. In the following article he describes a new public library program suggested by the NFB. This is what he says:

Many blind people enjoy movies. Some prefer watching them in a large theater with 300 or so strangers, the big screen, THX sound, and fresh movie popcorn. Others prefer their own living room, a few friends, the small screen, a TV speaker, and fresh homemade popcorn. Life in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has just improved substantially for the stay-at-home crowd. The Albuquerque Public Library is now mailing its Descriptive Video Service (DVS) videos directly to blind borrowers, using the Free Matter privilege.

In case you are unfamiliar with video description, though blind folks can follow the movie dialog just fine, the visuals can be a different story. We usually rely on someone to provide a play-by- play description of the setting in which Sean Connery finds himself; the building, bridge, train, plane, or automobile from which or to which Arnold Schwarzenegger is jumping; and the outfit Sharon Stone is wearing (or not wearing) as the case may be. The DVS has solved this problem for the home video aficionado. It adds narrated descriptions to Hollywood movies on video for blind and low-vision audiences. DVS describes actions, scene changes, graphics, facial expressions, and other key visual elements, without interfering with movie dialogue. Nothing more than a standard VCR and television is required.

Only recently the Albuquerque Public Library began mailing its DVS collection. Previously borrowers had to travel to the one branch library where the entire video collection was housed. It was located on the far south side of Albuquerque. After checking out the video one day, the borrower had to return the video to that same branch the following day. Unlike books and other materials, videos had to be checked out from, and returned to, that specific branch library. Transportation difficulties being what they are, this policy effectively prevented many blind folks in Albuquerque from enjoying these videos.

That's when the NFB got involved. First we contacted Ms. Cindy Carhart, South Broadway branch manager, and explained that the current distribution system was not serving the audience for whom DVS videos were designed. We asked whether she might be willing to try something new, like mailing the videos to the borrowers. Success hinged on whether the Free Matter mailing privilege could be used since paying postage would have made the new distribution program cost-prohibitive. We asked DVS about this possibility, and the staff provided us with the needed authorization letter from the Postmaster General. We then gathered information about hard plastic video mailing containers with reversible address card holders. Ms. Carhart looked at our proposal and said she was willing to give it a try.

Heres how it works: Interested residents call the library to register as borrowers and are mailed a library card. Borrowers then call the South Broadway branch and check out one of the twenty-eight DVS videos in the collection, which includes titles of interest to both children and adults. The videos are mailed Free Matter. Borrowers keep the videos for a week before returning them by mail in the hard plastic video mailer. The program has been in effect since mid-August and is working well. Both the library itself and the Albuquerque Chapter of the NFB of New Mexico have plans to add to the library's DVS collection. What would Siskel and Ebert say about this program? Undoubtedly they would give it two enthusiastic thumbs up!

If you have additional questions, contact Descriptive Video Service, 125 Western Avenue, Boston, MA, 02134, (800) 333-1203; Albuquerque Public Library, Attn: Ms. Cindy Carhart, 1025 Broadway S.E., Albuquerque, NM 87102, (505) 764-1742; or James L. Salas, 3704 Glorieta N.E., Albuquerque, NM 87111, (505) 294-3326, E-mail: SALASJ@ABQ.COM

 

NLS Contracts for Validation of National
Literary Braille Competency Test:

On September 26, 1996, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress (NLS) contracted with Human Resources Research Organization (HumPRO) of Alexandria, Virginia, to carry out the validation of the Library's recently developed National Literary Braille Competency Test (NLBCT). The test, released for use in 1994, was developed under Library of Congress auspices by a committee of experts at the request of major blind membership organizations in the United States. These groups were concerned that teachers of blind children and adults be skilled users of Braille themselves. The test evaluates competency in writing Braille with a slate and stylus and with a Braille writer, ability to read Braille, and knowledge of Braille code rules. It is expected that it will be used to verify the Braille skills of teachers.

The director for the validation process will be Dr. Deirdre Knapp, whose experience includes designing and developing certification testing programs and job analyses for national organizations.

Dr. Evelyn Rex will be the Braille consultant for the NLBCT validation project. Dr. Rex is a Braille expert with more than thirty years of experience as a consultant in the education of visually impaired persons.

The validation process is divided into two parts. In the first the contractors will analyze the literary Braille tasks performed by teachers in rehabilitation settings, in residential schools, and in mainstreamed classrooms and determine the degree to which the NLBCT assesses competency to perform these tasks. In the second part the contractors will determine the reliability of the four versions of the NLBCT. The test will be administered to at least two hundred examinees, and the results will be analyzed to determine reliabilities and standard errors of measurement and also the difficulty and pass-fail decision equivalence for each version.

HumPRO will submit recommendations based on the group's analysis. The validation process is expected to take two years.

Braille Validation Study Time Chart

DATE:                            TASK

October 8, 1996              Orientation (took place)

December 19, 1996         Complete Part 1 report (identifying tasks) [delayed due to the holidays]

February 10, 1997          Complete Part 2 report (cluster and weight tasks)

April 1, 1997                  Complete Part 3 report (identify KSAs)

May 20, 1997                 Complete Part 4 report (link KSAs to tasks)

July 2, 1997                    Complete Part 5 report (evaluate validity of test and passing scores)

August 14, 1997              Complete Part 6 report (prepare and justify recommendations for changes)

September 12, 1997        Oral presentation regarding recommended changes

October 9, 1997              NLS to have revised tests back to HumPRO

November 17, 1997        Complete Part 7 report (evaluate revised tests and recommend whether or not to use them)

December 16, 1997         NLS deadline to exercise option for Study II Reliability

[The following dates apply only if we do not go on to Study II]

January 15, 1998              First twenty tests go to evaluator

May 26, 1998                  The last of the 200 tests are due back at HumPRO from the evaluator

June 16, 1998                   Data files due

July 8, 1998                      Complete Part 3 report (reliabilities and standard errors of measurement)

July 29, 1998                    Complete Part 4 report (analysis of variance)

August 19, 1998               Complete Part 5 report (recommendations from Study II)

September 16, 1998          Oral presentation regarding recommendations

September 30, 1998          Draft summary report of both studies due

October 14, 1998              NLS response to draft

October 28, 1998              Final version of summary report due--project completed knowledges, skills, and abilities

For further information contact Frank Curt Cylke, Director, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20542, (202) 707-5104, fax (202) 707-0712, internet: nls@loc.gov

 

[PHOTO: A couple obviously in wedding clothes stands beside a Christmas tree in a living room. CAPTION: Julie and Paul Dawson on their wedding day.]

RECIPES

by Julie Dawson

From the Editor: In honor of Valentine's Day, we are taking a brief departure from our alphabetical tour of the country for recipes. Julie and Paul Dawson decided on fairly short notice to get married last year, so they planned their wedding and prepared all the food for the reception. This is the story of how they did it and the recipes for what they served:

Our wedding day dawned clear and very cold. We were married on Little Christmas (Epiphany), the day before the blizzard of 1996. Some of you may know me formerly as Julie Clark or Cordova; my husband's name is Paul Dawson.

We met, interestingly enough or, as we believe, miraculously, through the pen pal section of the Matilda Zeigler magazine. The rest was up to us and the hard work and commitment we continuously pour into our relationship. I moved to Farmingdale, New York, on August 30 to join my fianc,. I have experienced new friends, much snow, lots of trains and buses, my first audio- described Broadway play, and my first dirty-water hotdog from a Manhattan vendor.

Paul and I were visiting his sister Carole in Connecticut for Christmas. We were talking about her coming to visit. I wondered aloud if we could get a wedding planned by January 6, less than two weeks away. We did it, and it was a lovely ceremony in our home. We took two buses in the pouring rain to get to our county's courthouse for our marriage license. I called to find a judge to perform the ceremony in our home. We invited twenty of our closest friends and family members to share our wedding with us. We baked our own wedding cake and made baked ziti and rice and peas. We also had mini bagels stuffed with assorted cold cuts, salads, and cream cheese courtesy of Carole.

We are enclosing the three recipes we used for Monitor readers. We hope you enjoy making them as much as we did. Doing the wedding together was an exercise in patience, teamwork, love, frustration, and rewards. We spent $200 or so. We used our Christmas tree as well as wedding decorations, and Carole and her friend Tricia took pictures. Another friend Betty, who couldn't be there due to illness, sent flowers. My parents were recovering from cataract surgeries but were there in spirit to rejoice with us as well. We were surrounded by the love and prayers of friends not with us physically but close in our hearts.

DAWSON COVENANT CAKE

Ingredients:

1 pound butter (2 cups), softened

4 cups sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 cups cake flour, sifted

1 teaspoon salt

6 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups milk

12 egg whites

8 cups rich ivory butter cream frosting

Method: Cream butter, gradually adding 21/2 cups sugar and beating until light and fluffy. Add extracts. Sift together all dry ingredients, except for the remaining 2 cups of sugar. Add milk alternately with the dry ingredients in thirds to the creamed mixture. Beat whites slowly until they form peaks in perfectly clean and dry bowl. Gradually add remaining sugar beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into the batter. Turn batter into two 9-by-13-inch pans, which have been lightly floured and greased. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 50 to 55 minutes until cake tester inserted at center of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pans for a few minutes. Turn cakes out onto wire racks to finish cooling. Ice and decorate.

IVORY BUTTER CREAM FROSTING

Ingredients:

This recipe yields 4 cups frosting

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

10 eggs, 2 whole and 8 whites

1 pound butter, softened

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Method: Stir sugar and water together in saucepan over medium heat. Sugar will dissolve and liquid will come to a boil. Let syrup boil without stirring until temperature reaches 234 to 240 degrees on candy thermometer, soft ball stage. This can be tested by dropping a small spoon of syrup into cup of very cold water. A soft ball should form between fingers. Whisking whole eggs and whites vigorously, pour hot syrup slowly into the eggs and continue to beat until mixture is cool, light, and fluffy. (To make frosting more cream-colored, add more yolks and fewer whites.) Cream butter until very soft, adding butter and vanilla while beating. Then beat into egg mixture until shiny and firm enough to spread. Frosting will be very glossy when touched lightly.

RICE AND PEAS (BEANS)

Ingredients:

2 pounds dried red kidney beans

1 pound cooked rice

coconut milk

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Method: Wash beans and cook with coconut milk in crock pot. Remove meat from coconut and put in blender. Blend until solid meat is reduced to liquid. Add to beans in crockpot and cover with additional water. Add lightly sauted vegetables and spices. Cook 10 to 12 hours on high until beans are tender. In very large pot or two Dutch ovens, combine beans and rice and heat. Makes enough to serve twenty people with leftovers.

BAKED ZITI

Ingredients:

2 pounds uncooked ziti

2 large jars of Ragu spaghetti sauce

2 8-ounce packages grated cheddar cheese

2 pounds Ricotta cheese

oregano, basil, salt, and pepper

Method: Cook ziti in two Dutch ovens according to package directions until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain well. Add enough sauce to moisten. Cook to blend flavors and add spices. Place ziti in large foil turkey-roasting pan in layers with Ricotta cheese, sauce, and a bit of cheddar cheese. Repeat, ending with a layer of sauce on top. Sprinkle most of the cheddar cheese over the top. Some people add a bit more sauce at the end. You can choose which you prefer. Bake at 350 degrees for forty-five minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

 

MONITOR MINIATURES

Corrections:

In the December, 1996, issue we gave an incorrect toll-free telephone number for credit card orders for Magical Mist Creations's tutorial, Navigating Netscape. The correct listing is (888) 936-0001. Also, a portion of the final Monitor Miniature was inadvertently omitted in the print edition. The text as it should have appeared follows. We regret these errors.

Personal Organizer Software:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Acrontech announces the Personal Organizer, an integrated software package which is simple to use. It is designed specifically for individuals who rely on large-print, Braille, or speech devices.

Writing a letter, scheduling appointments, balancing a checkbook, and accessing an address book to print an envelope are daily tasks which can be performed quite effectively even by the inexperienced computer user.

The Personal Organizer was recently demonstrated at the World Blind Union conference in Toronto. The simplicity of the program is what impressed those who observed the demonstration. One of the visitors commented, "Acrontech has incorporated the most useful functions of many other programs into one software package." This program is ideal for use at home, the office, or both.

One of the key features of the Personal Organizer is the unique screen presentation of menus and entry fields. Information is displayed vertically, taking up only a portion of the screen, which can be magnified or easily read by speech- or Braille- output devices. Until now, writing a check on your own checkbook with speech or Braille was virtually unheard of by computer users. The Personal Organizer allows you to keep track of all your personal expenses confidentially and independently. All modules of the Personal Organizer are based on a simple operational concept; therefore, if you can write a letter, you can also file data, book appointments, write checks, and print envelopes. At the low introductory price of $295, Personal Organizer may be the only application software you need.

For a free demo copy of Personal Organizer, contact Acrontech, Williamsville, New York, (716) 854-3814 or Acrontech, Toronto, Ontario, (416) 467-6800 or (800) 245-2020, Web site: http://www.acrontech.com or e-mail: acrontec@idirect.com

Elected:

Several affiliates have notified us of recent election results:

John Padilla, President of the NFB of Connecticut, reports that the new officers in Connecticut are John Padilla, President; Lynn Golden, First Vice President; Jackie Doucette, Second Vice President; Mark Tardif, Secretary; and Bruce Woodward, Treasurer. Elected to serve on the Board are Esther Levegnale, Betty Woodward, Mark Stracks, and John Yark. Michael Freeman, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington, also reports affiliate election results. The new officers are Michael Freeman, President; Noel Nightingale, First Vice President; Kaye Kipp, Second Vice President; Rita Szantay, Secretary; and Gary Mackenstadt, Treasurer. Board members are Ben Prows, Maria Bradford, Stephanie Yeats, and Mark Noble.

Christine Boone, Secretary of the NFB of Nebraska, reported her affiliate's October election results. The officers are Michael Floyd, President; Della Johnston, First Vice President; Dorothy Westin, Second Vice President; Cheryl Livingston, Treasurer; and Christine Boone, Secretary. Board members are Joe Larson, Ardyce Earl, Bob Simonson, and Evelyn Haines.

Activity Book Reminder:

Julie and Brandon, Our Blind Friends is an intriguing activities book for children, first grade through junior high, written and produced by the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho. Activities include pictures to color showing blind children participating in many activities, an introduction to Braille, Braille puzzles, facts about blind children and Braille, a word search, a maze, questions and answers, and a story about President Maurer. Several thousand of these 81/2-by-11, 48-page books have been sold, and a new shipment has arrived.

You may purchase these activity books one at a time for $4 each and a shipping charge of $1.50 for one to three books. Or you may purchase twenty-five or more for $3 each with a shipping charge of $5 for twenty-five books. Write to National Federation of the Blind of Idaho, 1301 S. Capitol Boulevard, Suite C, Boise, Idaho 83706.

International Conference:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The tenth World Conference of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) will convene in Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 3 to 9, 1997. ICEVI anticipates that approximately 1,000 professionals, parents, and consumers from throughout the world will participate in this conference, whose theme is "Stepping Forward Together: Families and Professionals as Partners in Achieving Education for All." For conference materials contact Ivone Costa, Coordinator, Conference Secretariat, ICEVI 10th World Conference, c/o LARAMARA, Rua Conselheiro Brotero, 338-Barra Funda, 01154-000-Sao Paulo - SP - Brasil. Phone 55-11-826-3744, fax 55-11-826-9108, e-mail LARAMARA.BRASIL@MANDIC.COM.BR

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I am selling a Mountbatten Brailler, which is in new condition. It includes the connector box, a qwerty keyboard, a parallel cable, and all manuals in print and Braille. Asking $2,400 or best offer. Contact Chris Foster by Braille, computer disk, or cassette at 2310 Capitol #10, Sacramento, California 95816, (916) 444-5272 or e-mail, cfoster@csus.edu

Braille and Tape Correspondents Wanted:

Eric Calhoun, a member of the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the NFB of California, would like to correspond with those interested in blindness issues. His other interests are sporting events, travel, the outdoors, nature, music, and meeting new people. He is a Christian and requests chatty letters only. He can be reached at P.O. Box 1003, Inglewood, California 90308.

Postscript:

Wanda Stebbins, Vice President of the Greater Springfield Chapter of the NFB of Massachusetts, writes to report that her name was omitted from the list of newly-elected officers printed in the October issue of the Braille Monitor.

Perkins Brailler Repairs Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Selective Doctor, Inc., is a repair service for all IBM typewriters and now Perkins Braille Writers. Located in Baltimore, the service has done work for the Maryland School for the Blind and a number of other organizations in Maryland. They now accept Perkins Braillers sent to them from around the country. They advertise top quality service at yesterday's prices. They also request a phone call before shipment of Braillers and ask that equipment be insured in the mails. For more information contact the Selective Doctor, Inc., P.O. Box 28432, Baltimore, Maryland 21234, or call (410) 668-1143.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Nancy Scott]

Poetry Collection Available:

Nancy Scott, one of the leaders of the NFB of Pennsylvania and an active member of the Writers Division, writes to say that her book, Hearing the Sunrise, is now available. It is a collection of twenty-eight poems, many of which have been previously published in national magazines. The book explores readers' sensory and attitudinal perceptions. Subjects range from the sounds of solder and snow to the memories evoked by the feel and smell of good wood to coping with a blind six-year-old and a squirt gun.

Hearing the Sunrise is available in Braille for $4.50 per copy (shipping free matter) and in standard print for $6 including shipping. To order, make checks payable to Nancy Scott and mail to 1141 Washington Street, Easton, Pennsylvania 18042.

Pen Pal Club:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Point to Point (Ponto a Ponto in Portuguese) is a databank made for people who like to write and receive letters in Braille. It was created less than two years ago and already has 133 members from nine countries exchanging letters in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. To participate, send your name, address, date of birth, profession, areas of interest, and a profile of the sort of person with whom you want to exchange mail. If you enjoy writing letters in Braille and making new friends, write to Silvia Valentini, Ponto a Ponto, Caixa Postal 70538, CEP 05013-990, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.

New Chapter:

Barry Feazell, President of the Greater Jacksonville Chapter of the NFB of Florida, reports the chapter's Saturday, November 16, 1996, birth. The officers are Barry Feazell, President; John Chmielewski, Vice President; Carol Feazell, Secretary; and Jerry Roberts, Treasurer. Jim Bowen, James Brock, and Joe Minichiello are the new Board members. Congratulations to the new chapter.

Elected:

The National Federation of the Blind of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, held its annual election on November 16, with the following results: Mabel Conder, President; Pat Robbins, Vice President; Hazel Staley, Secretary; and Janis Lynn Stallins, Treasurer. Board members are Katherine Barr, Laurancene Murphy, and LaVerne Gallant.

The Harvard Business Review Available on Tape:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Massachusetts Association for the Blind Recording Studio is pleased to offer The Harvard Business Review on 4-track cassette. The annual subscription rate is $75. Each bimonthly edition is on two cassettes. Please contact the MAB Recording Studio at 200 Ivy Street, Brookline, Massachusetts 02146 or call (617) 732-0259 for further information.

Hotline Internet Site for Telecommunications Information:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Information to help consumers better understand the broad new array of communications products and services is now available on the Internet from the Tele-Consumer Hotline, the nation's leading source for impartial information on this topic. The Hotline's English and Spanish publications, as well as a function which allows consumers to pose questions or complaints to industry experts or the Hotline's bilingual counselors, can be found at http://www.teleconsumer.org/hotline. The site features an extensive glossary of telecommunications terms and consumer-friendly information and advice on a variety of topics such as selecting a long distance company; unauthorized switching of long distance companies (known as "slamming"); and using calling cards. For people with disabilities the Hotline provides information on topics such as relay services, assistive technology, equipment-distribution programs, and special discounts.

All of the publications offered on the Hotline's new homepage are also available at no charge to consumers who send a self- addressed, stamped envelope to Tele-Consumer Hotline, P.O. Box 27207, Washington, D.C. 20005.

Used Books, Magazines, Journals, Equipment, and Materials Wanted:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

FIMA Institute for Disabled Society in Bangladesh is seeking donations of used books (any kind), magazines, journals, audio literature, Braille and print computers, a Braille printing press, a print typewriter, Braille watches, Braille translator, Perkins Brailler, cassette recorders, CD player and records, Talking Book recorders and players, talking watches and calculators, white canes, writing frames, spectacles, and any other materials or equipment useful to disabled people. The reading and listening formats are video, cassette, moon-type, large print, Braille books, and letter press. English, Bengali and Hindi languages are common in the country.

Send donations "free matter for the blind or handicapped" to M. Milon, Secretary and Chief Librarian, F.I.D.S., 12/E, 5/6, P.O. Box 8104, Mirpur, Dhaka, 1221, Bangladesh. If you donate money to our organization, please send money orders.

Correspondents Wanted:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I am interested in corresponding with someone from Alaska or western Canada via cassette. Please contact Donald George, 531 Marys Pond Road, Rochester, Massachusetts 02770.

In Memoriam:

Tom Anderson, Secretary of the Denver Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, writes with sadness to say that Dorothy Bitman, a long-time member of the Denver Chapter, passed away on September 9, 1996. She was one of the charter members of the chapter when it was organized in 1955. She was not one to seek the limelight but was faithful and willing to do what she could. Every month, without fail, Dorothy brought in her $5 contribution for the PAC plan. She never missed a chapter meeting unless she was very ill. She will always be remembered for her faithfulness and her cheerfulness. Dorothy truly embodied the Federation spirit. She will be missed.

Elected:

The Albuquerque Chapter of the NFB of New Mexico recently held elections. The results were as follows: President, James L. Salas; First Vice President, Vicky Trujillo; Second Vice President, Carlos Servan; Treasurer, Brenda Laurion; Secretary, Veronica Smith; and Board Members, John Blake, Leroy Cordova, Christine Hall, Diana Marquez, Frank Nilvo, and Ellen Nolan.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Loraine Stayer]

Federationist's Book Now in Braille:

Loraine Stayer recently notified us that her book, Hip Deep in Trouble and Angling for More, is now available in Braille for $30 from John Hemphill, Volunteer Braille Services, 215 Sheldon, S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503. It is also available on tape for $12 from Loraine Stayer, 2704 Beach Drive, Merrick, New York 11566, (516) 868-8718, fax (516) 868-9076.

Elected:

Kerry Smith, President of the St. Louis Chapter of the NFB of Missouri, reports that the new chapter officers for 1997 are Kerry Smith, President; John Ford, Vice President; Susan Ford, Recording Secretary; Anna Schell, Corresponding Secretary; Thelda Borisch, Treasurer; and Brenda Ford, Board Member-at-Large.

New Baby:

We are pleased to report that on December 27, 1996, at 3:21 p.m., Joshua Chamberlain Ritchart was born to Sheila and William Ritchart, leaders of the NFB of Indiana. Joshua weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce at birth and measured 203/4 inches long. Joshua, big brother Lincoln, and their parents are all doing well.

Accessible Billing Now Available from Sears:

We recently learned that, at the request of one customer, William Poole of Maryland, Sears Roebuck has now established a method for providing Brailled bills and usable response materials in the form of a remittance coupon with a raised line on the back and a raised address on the front for use in the address window.

The system should be in operation sometime during the first two quarters of 1997. Interested Sears customers can register for this service by calling a special response center that Sears has established to handle the billing needs of blind people at (800) 733-0815. Sears requests that blind customers use this number for accessible billing inquiries and requests rather than general Customer Service lines because those representatives may well not have information about accessible billing. Blind customers may also apply for credit at this number and arrange to have their Sears bills read by a Customer Service representative over the telephone until the Braille billing is actually ready. Sears Roebuck is to be commended for its responsiveness in this matter.

We can only hope that numbers of people will respond by taking advantage of the service. As Jim Halliday wrote in his paper printed in the January, 1997, Braille Monitor: "Only a grassroots effort by all of us can get this sort of access off the ground."

Elected:

The Tidewater Chapter of the NFB of Virginia recently elected the following: Stewart Prost, President; Robert Southard, First Vice President; Marian Sanders, Second Vice President; Willard Nichols, Treasurer; and David Collins, Secretary. Board members are Ella Herbert and Charles King.

Job Placement Conference:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University will be conducting a national conference in Tampa, Florida, from April 2 to 4, 1997, entitled "Job Placement for the 21st Century." Featured speakers are Dr. Karen Wolffe, Mr. Jerry Miller, Dr. Craig Colvin, Dr. Susan Kelley, and Mr. Robert Kelly. The registration deadline is March 15. The conference site is Tampa Airport Hilton at MetroCenter, 2225 Lois Avenue, Tampa, Florida, (813) 877-6688. Participants should make their own reservations. Note that you are attending the Mississippi State Conference. Registration fee is $75, which includes breakfast on April 3 and 4. For more information contact Ms. Tara Laney at (601) 325-2001.

Nutrition Magazine Survey:

Teresa Wakefield, one of the leaders of the Black Hawk County Chapter of the NFB of Iowa, writes as follows:

I am conducting a survey to see how much interest there is in a nutritional magazine in Braille and/or on cassette. There is a possibility of Brailling an already-existing magazine on nutrition, and, if this project is received favorably, there is a chance of expanding into other areas. Please write in Braille or on cassette and tell us what you would be interested in and what other subjects or magazines you would like to see covered. We would have to charge subscription fees for these magazines. Send your comments to Teresa Wakefield, 722 Denver Street, Waterloo, Iowa 50702.

Braille Books For Young Readers:

Geoffrey Bull of Braille International, Inc., has just sent us the following announcement:

In an effort to encourage Braille literacy among young readers, this year Braille International is launching a Braille series for young readers. Goosebumps, the most popular series ever produced for young readers, is our choice for the first series we are making available in Braille. With a generous donation and in anticipation of an encouraging response to our advertisements, we are offering each Goosebumps title at the same price as the print edition, $4.95 per copy. For those committing to the first twelve issues, the annual subscription will be $50.

If this series is successful, we will be producing others with Babysitter's Club high on our list. If you are a young Braille reader or the parent or friend of a child who reads Braille, take a moment to forward a payment together with the 21st Century." Featured speakers are Dr. Karen Wolffe, Mr. Jerry Miller, Dr. Craig Colvin, Dr. Susan Kelley, and Mr. Robert Kelly. The registration deadline is March 15. The conference site is Tampa Airport Hilton at MetroCenter, 2225 Lois Avenue, Tampa, Florida, (813) 877-6688. Participants should make their own reservations. Note that you are attending the Mississippi State Conference. Registration fee is $75, which includes breakfast on April 3 and 4. For more information contact Ms. Tara Laney at (601) 325-2001.

Nutrition Magazine Survey:

Teresa Wakefield, one of the leaders of the Black Hawk County Chapter of the NFB of Iowa, writes as follows: I am conducting a survey to see how much interest there is in a nutritional magazine in Braille and/or on cassette.

There is a possibility of Brailling an already-existing magazine on nutrition, and, if this project is received favorably, there is a chance of expanding into other areas. Please write in Braille or on cassette and tell us what you would be interested in and what other subjects or magazines you would like to see covered. We would have to charge subscription fees for these magazines. Send your comments to Teresa Wakefield, 722 Denver Street, Waterloo, Iowa 50702.

Braille Books For Young Readers:

Geoffrey Bull of Braille International, Inc., has just sent us the following announcement:

In an effort to encourage Braille literacy among young readers, this year Braille International is launching a Braille series for young readers. Goosebumps, the most popular series ever produced for young readers, is our choice for the first series we are making available in Braille. With a generous donation and in anticipation of an encouraging response to our advertisements, we are offering each Goosebumps title at the same price as the print edition, $4.95 per copy. For those committing to the first twelve issues, the annual subscription will be $50.

If this series is successful, we will be producing others with Babysitter's Club high on our list. If you are a young Braille reader or the parent or friend of a child who reads Braille, take a moment to forward a payment together with the name and address of the intended recipient. Send your orders to Braille International, Inc., 3290 S.E. Slater Street, Stuart, Florida 34997, (800) 336-3142. Cash, checks, and major credit cards are accepted.