Barbara Pierce, Editor

    Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by
                   MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT

                       National Office

                     1800 Johnson Street

                 Baltimore, Maryland  21230

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              National Federation of the Blind

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ISSN 0006-8829

                     THE BRAILLE MONITOR

                      PUBLICATION OF THE 


                                                 March, 1997
Lighthouse for the Blind Closes Sheltered Shop

and Feels that It Got a Bum Rap

     by Kenneth Jernigan
Carnival, Life Go On Despite Blindness 

     by Rhonda Nabonne
Needed: Blind Individuals for University Training

as Orientation & Mobility Instructors 

     by Ruby Ryles
If Only We Could See Through the Eyes of a Child 

     by Sue Drapinski
Content Validity of the National Literary

Braille Competency Test

     by Carol B. Allman and Sandra Lewis
A Nonacademic Plea for Common Sense

     by Barbara Pierce
Making Other Arrangements

     by Bruce A. Gardner
Federation Spirit on the Internet

     by Marc Maurer
How I Became a Park Ranger

     by Lynda Boose

     by Carol Castellano
From the Electronic Mail Basket: Teaching

Braille Online

     by Curtis Chong
Lionizing Around New Orleans: Good Food,

Good Times, and All That Jazz

     by Jerry Whittle

The Metal Pole 

     by Homer Page
Federationists, Fund-Raising, and Free Enterprise

     by Marie Cobb
Dialysis at National Convention

     by Ed Bryant
Monitor Miniatures 
      Copyright  1997 National Federation of the Blind
LEAD PHOTO #1. Six people are pictured here. The four on

the left are wearing costumes and headdresses which

prominently include musical notes. The woman on the right is

wearing a coat and a crown. Three canes can be seen.

     #2. A parade float is fringed at the bottom and

decorated with musical notes. Centered at the front of the

float is a large record player turntable and needle arm,

angled so that it can be seen by parade watchers. CAPTION:

In New Orleans February means one thing--Carnival, which now

fills the week before the beginning of Lent and ends with

the celebration of Mardi Gras. This year the National

Federation of the Blind was invited to ride float #17, The

World of Music float (below), in the Bards of Bohemia

Parade. Four of the Federationists riding the float and

throwing plastic NFB cups to the crowd were (left to right

above) Marilyn Whittle, Joanne Wilson, Harold Snider, and

Pam Dubel. Pictured with them are Julie Russell (far right),

a Federationist invited to be a member of the Bards of

Bohemia Court, and her escort Billy Petrino, a student at

the Louisiana Center for the Blind.

     #3: A crowd of people in the foreground is watching a

parade float pass. Some hands are raised to catch trinkets

thrown from the floats. CAPTION: The crowd watches the Bards

of Bohemia Parade.

     #4: In this picture eight people stand on a stage.

Julie Russell holds her bouquet in one hand and her white

cane in the other. The four women are wearing floor-length

dresses and crowns. CAPTION: Members of the Bards of Bohemia

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Kenneth Jernigan]

 Lighthouse for the Blind Closes Sheltered Shop

               and Feels that It Got a Bum Rap

                     by Kenneth Jernigan
     In the fall of 1995 The Lighthouse, located in New York

City, decided to close its sheltered workshop and try to

help able-bodied blind employees find work in the regular

competitive market. Even though it would seem hard to

quarrel with this action as a basic concept, some did.
     In its December, 1996, issue, The Braille Forum, a

publication of the American Council of the Blind, raked The

Lighthouse over the coals. In an article titled, "Choice:

Not Just for the Chosen Few," the Forum accused The

Lighthouse of everything from robbing workshop employees of

their right to make choices to a deliberate effort to try to

prevent them from getting work in another sheltered setting.

As will be seen from the article, which we reprint here in

full, the language is anything but dispassionate.
     We have never hesitated to criticize agencies doing

work with the blind when we have thought it necessary. But

we do not publish inadequately researched, politically

motivated, biased articles, which (though they fit the

classic definition of "muck-raking") try to disguise

themselves as investigative reporting. Such tactics do

nothing but create strife and ill will.
     Before turning to the text of the Forum article, it

might be worthwhile to examine some of its specifics. In the

third paragraph from the end, there is a sentence which

reads: "The Lighthouse said that the only choice these

workers had was to give up their jobs and collect a benefit

check--or to accept work in substandard conditions."

Regardless of what The Lighthouse management might have

felt, is it really reasonable to believe that a Lighthouse

official would have said what is alleged? This speaks to the

tone and flavor of the Forum article.
     And so does a passage close to the beginning. The

second paragraph reads as follows: "There is a controversy

raging inside agencies serving the blind regarding the

merits of operating facility-based employment for blind

people." Regardless of how often one meets politically

correct language, it is always just as distasteful as it was

the last time. It attempts to deceive by using high-flown

     As to the present instance, in case you are not

familiar with it, "facility-based employment" is simply the

latest way of trying to sugar-coat the term "sheltered

workshop." Let me not be misunderstood. Sheltered workshops

may be good or bad. But we shouldn't try to pretend by

terminology that they are what they are not. A sheltered

shop is a sheltered shop, and it must stand or fall on its

own merit without the prop of a linguistic crutch.
     By way of background, The Lighthouse was established in

1906 by two sisters, Winifred and Edith Holt. Its purpose

was to help blind persons get opera tickets, and The

Lighthouse still runs a music school. Later it established a

sheltered workshop, and somewhere along the way it began to

recruit volunteers to do reading and recording for blind

persons. Barbara Silverstone, the president and chief

executive officer of The Lighthouse, says that in addition

to its New York City operation The Lighthouse is expanding

its scope to the national and international stage. Among

other things, this includes training of professionals to

work with people with low vision.
     But back to the article in the December issue of The

Braille Forum. Here it is in full:
             Choice: Not Just for the Chosen Few

                       by Donald Moore
     (Editor's Note: The author is a former president of the

American Council of the Blind of New York. He currently

serves as vice chairman of the board of Industries for the

Blind in New York state.)
     There is a controversy raging inside agencies serving

the blind regarding the merits of operating "facility-based

employment" for blind people.
     While the goal of integrating blind workers into the

mainstream sounds good, the reality can be much different

and should raise serious questions among those concerned

with the continued employment and independence of blind

workers. With 70 percent of all blind working-age people

unemployed, mainstreaming today is more of a wish than a

viable option, especially for those without a college

education. As you'll see, it all comes down to the question,

"Who should choose what's right for blind workers, the

workers themselves or the people holding executive positions

at blindness agencies?"
     Having just passed the anniversary after The

Lighthouse, Inc. in New York City chose to close its

workshop, thus displacing fifty-five blind workers, it seems

fitting to look at what "choice" really can mean.
     The Lighthouse decided that its workshop facility

should close so that workers could be retrained and

integrated into the mainstream job market. That was the

reasoning of its leaders. The workers had virtually no say

in the decision. The Lighthouse was also facing a need to

quickly raise cash because of additional expenses incurred

in paying for what some considered unnecessary and

extravagant expenditures on The Lighthouse headquarters

building on East 59th Street in Manhattan.
     The Lighthouse's answer to its cash-flow concerns?

Firing the blind people and selling the land and building in

Long Island City in which they worked.
     The employees were given notice and told it was for

their good. This despite the fact that they clearly wanted

to work, and those who had been in charge of the former

Lighthouse facility wanted to continue working as well.

Furthermore, the operation had been generally operating at

break-even or profitable levels.
     This was a clear example of how a blindness agency's

pursuit of theoretical ideals can run roughshod over a blind

individual's right to choose what is best for him or her.

Being blind or becoming blind does not--and should not--rob

a human being of the ability to determine where, how, and if

one will work to support oneself.
     The Lighthouse workers were very concerned about their

loss of employment and ultimately contacted Jean Mann,

president of the American Council of the Blind of New York,

with their concerns. Jean contacted The Lighthouse, asking

that it reconsider its decision to shut down the

manufacturing operation, but to no avail. Jean then spoke

with Steven Ennis, the president of Industries for the Blind

of New York State, and, with me in my capacity as the vice

chairman of the Board of Industries for the Blind, and--

together with National Industries for the Blind--helped to

form a new organization to employ these displaced blind

     The first meeting with the former Lighthouse employees

was held last fall after work in a modest diner in Queens,

New York, where several of us involved with the new

enterprise tried to give them some hope. We told them of our

plan to start a new shop--from scratch, if necessary--and

told them what we'd done so far to get the shop off the

ground. After listening to different employees tell their

stories, I felt really good knowing that we were trying to

offer them the option of employment rather than

unproductivity and unemployment. I feel good knowing we were

working to give them what they wanted--jobs.
     Dr. Barbara Silverstone, CEO of The Lighthouse, Inc.,

promised her board of directors that she would find

competitive employment for all the former Lighthouse

employees. However, employment never materialized for most

of them. Several received training, but that was for jobs

that would have paid them less than they could earn at the

former workshop and with worse hours.
     The negotiations with The Lighthouse were really

difficult. Dr. Silverstone apparently felt that her

reputation would be tarnished if a new blind workshop--which

the former Lighthouse employees wanted--were to open and

operate in New York City. Rather than allowing for a smooth

transition of the Lighthouse's former blind employees to a

new workshop employer, The Lighthouse created one obstacle

after another to try to prevent the new workshop from

     Even though The Lighthouse was shutting down its

workshop and selling the property, it determined not to sell

some essential equipment to New York City Industries for the

Blind that the facility would need to function

appropriately. NYCIB has since purchased some of that

equipment from those to whom The Lighthouse sold it.
     New York City Industries for the Blind, Inc., is open

and has already been able to re-hire all the former

Lighthouse employees who wanted employment, plus some

additional people. Last June Jean Mann and I visited the

workshop and were flattered to receive plaques from the

employees thanking us for ACB of New York's help in getting

the workshop off the ground.
     Today New York City Industries for the Blind is

celebrating its successful progress as a new employer of

blind people under the dynamic leadership of Rick Bland, the

former Lighthouse workshop director.
     The moral is that blind people are no different from

anyone else when it comes to their right to choose how they

will live their lives and that they are willing to fight to

be able to make their own choices. The Lighthouse said that

the only choice these workers had was to give up their jobs

and collect a benefit check--or to accept work in

substandard conditions.
     If blind social workers and blind agency executives

have the right to choose where and how they work, why not

blind workers? As one NYCIB employee put it, "Not every

blind person can go to college, but that doesn't mean we

should be told we're not entitled to work."
     New York City Industries for the Blind is living proof

that choice is important for every blind person, not just

the chosen few.

     That is the article as it appeared in the December,

1996, Braille Forum. And as might be expected, The

Lighthouse was not amused. Under date of January 2, 1997,

Barbara Silverstone wrote to Nolan Crabb, Editor of The

Braille Forum. She said in part:
     Recently I received two communications in the same mail

from the American Council of the Blind: the first, a request

for a donation from The Lighthouse to support The Braille

Forum; the second, the December, 1996, issue of The Braille

Forum with an article on page 18 that includes grossly

distorted and incorrect information about The Lighthouse. I

am bewildered that you did not choose to check out the facts

before printing this article...
     I am enclosing an article entitled "Facts from The

Lighthouse," which I am requesting be printed in its

entirety in the next issue of The Braille Forum.
     So said Barbara Silverstone, and at the time of this

writing (late January) I don't know whether her request will

be granted. Be that as it may, here is the full text of what

she asked the Forum to print:
               Facts from The Lighthouse, Inc.

              by Barbara Silverstone, President
     Donald Moore's article in the December, 1996, issue of

The Braille Forum contains inaccurate information about The

Lighthouse, Inc., and the circumstances surrounding the

reorganization of its career services program over the past

two years. The following FACTS are presented so that the

readers of The Braille Forum can be fully and accurately

     FACT #1. After lengthy study and as part of its

strategic planning, the Lighthouse Board of Directors

decided in the Fall of 1995 to phase out its sheltered

workshop for fifty-seven able-bodied, legally blind workers

in Long Island City and to move its work activity program

for fifty workers who have multiple disabilities to The

Lighthouse facility in Woodside, Queens. Now, one year

later, Lighthouse Industries has been closed, the work

activity program, as an enhanced therapeutic employment

program, is thriving in its new quarters, and Lighthouse

consumer and professional product catalog operations have

been reorganized and expanded under the banner of Lighthouse

     FACT #2. Training and career placement opportunities

were offered to all fifty-seven able-bodied, legally blind

workers. All workers who accepted The Lighthouse's career-

placement assistance have been kept on the payroll until

internships could be provided, and their former salaries

were maintained through their internships. All others

received comprehensive severance or retirement packages.

Each worker made his own choice. A number of workers

declined training and placement assistance and opted to wait

for employment with New York City Industries for the Blind,

which was in formation. Fifteen workers chose retirement.

Four have completed training and/or internships and are now

working in competitive jobs at salaries higher than their

pay at Lighthouse Industries. Eleven other individuals are

in various stages of training for competitive jobs.
     FACT #3. The closing of Lighthouse Industries was a

philosophical, not a financial, decision. In short, the

Lighthouse commitment to a philosophy of inclusion in the

workplace for all able-bodied legally blind workers cannot,

and does not, support the sheltered workshop concept.
     The Lighthouse subsidized Lighthouse Industries for

many years so that a workshop option could be available for

unemployed, legally blind workers. The Lighthouse decided to

end this subsidy and devote its financial and personnel

resources to career training and placement in competitive

jobs for the following reasons:

     -    Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and

          accompanying increased receptivity of employers.

     -    Increased job opportunities in the service and

          information industries offering better pay and

          benefits accrued from working in the mainstream.

     -    Advances in adaptive computer technology.

     -    Marked growth in the Lighthouse career training

          and placement capacity.
     FACT #4. The Lighthouse did consider the desires of

able-bodied legally blind workers--the workers of tomorrow.

Consultations with representatives from all secondary

schools in the New York City area which serve students with

impaired vision, and the job goals expressed by applicants

for placement, revealed that the youth of today are not

interested in workshop employment or workshop training

     FACT #5. The demand for competitive employment

opportunities by legally blind adults is increasing, as is

the receptivity of employers. In the last two years

Lighthouse career staff have placed 160 individuals in

competitive employment in a wide range of jobs in the

industrial, service, and office sectors. Only a fourth of

the positions required college preparation. The demand for

training and internships is growing, and The Lighthouse is

expanding its career-training and placement staff. The

Lighthouse also recently opened a customer service training

program at its Queens facility and continues to offer

competitive employment opportunities at its newly opened

Lighthouse Enterprises and in SPECTRUM, The Lighthouse

Store, located in Manhattan.
     FACT #6. While Lighthouse Industries had always been

subsidized by The Lighthouse (in FY 1995 the subsidy was

$238,000), it was not closed for financial reasons (i.e., "a

cash flow problem"). The resources of The Lighthouse,

however, are finite, and all programs are examined not only

from a philosophical perspective but in terms of their

outcomes and cost effectiveness. The Lighthouse has chosen

to devote its resources to services for the many hundreds of

visually impaired youth and adults seeking employment in the

competitive marketplace.
     FACT #7. The recently renovated Lighthouse headquarters

building in Manhattan was financed by a tax-exempt revenue

bond issued by the New York City Industrial Development

Agency. The bond issue enabled The Lighthouse to protect its

endowment and expand its programs to meet the rehabilitation

and training needs of a growing population of people with

impaired vision.
     The new Lighthouse facility is recognized as a national

model of universal accessibility and has tripled the

organization's training and classroom space.
     FACT #8. In closing its own sheltered workshop for

able-bodied legally blind workers, the Board of Directors of

The Lighthouse chose to direct its resources to training for

competitive employment and not to subsidize other sheltered

workshops for able-bodied legally blind people.
     However, inventory and equipment were sold for

approximately $750,000 to the newly-established sheltered

workshop, New York City Industries for the Blind. As of

January 1, 1997, The Lighthouse is still owed a considerable

amount of money from that sale.
     FACT #9. The Lighthouse mission, philosophy, and

advocacy efforts are carried out through regional, national,

and international programs to enable people who are blind or

have partial sight to lead independent and productive lives.

Headquartered in Manhattan, The Lighthouse provides

rehabilitation services to adults and children with impaired

vision through eight regional offices in the greater New

York area. It also offers a broad range of educational

opportunities for the public and health and human service

providers and conducts major research studies on the impact

of vision impairment and its amelioration.
     The Lighthouse is a staunch advocate of full inclusion

and equal access for people who are blind and partially

sighted and for full health insurance coverage of basic

vision rehabilitation services.
     The Lighthouse is a not-for-profit organization and

depends on support from individuals, foundations,

corporations, government, and the proceeds from Lighthouse

Enterprises, which comprises its catalog operations and

SPECTRUM, The Lighthouse Store.

[PHOTO: This picture is of two people in formal attire. The

woman wears a floor lengthdress and carries a bouquet and a

white cane. She is wearing a crown. The man is wearing white

tie and tails. CAPTION: Billy Petrino and Julie Russell.]
           Carnival, Life Go On Despite Blindness

                      by Rhonda Nabonne
     From the Editor: New Orleans is a city that knows how

to throw a party. On almost any occasion New Orleanians can

put together bands, floats, throws, and a crowd and voila,

an irresistible parade. Walking between two of our hotels

one day during the 1991 convention, a group of us found

ourselves caught up in a parade. Gradually we noticed the

sound of music coming toward us; then suddenly floats were

passing us, and the people on them were throwing pirate gold

at the crowd that materialized as traffic came to a stop.

The jazz had everyone dancing as the band went by. It was

impossible not to smile and grab for the coins being tossed.

We clapped and waved, but too soon the little parade was

gone. We never did know what the special occasion had been,

but we went on our way energized by our brush with this

wonderful city at play.
     New Orleans has been honing its talent for throwing a

party for over a hundred years. The famed Mardi Gras

celebration during the days preceding Ash Wednesday each

year is perhaps New Orleans's most famous event. The city

prepares all year for Carnival and the celebration of Fat

Tuesday, Mardi Gras. The idea is to eat, drink, and be merry

before facing the rigors of Lent, the forty days leading to

     Many different parades take place during Carnival. Each

one is organized and conducted by a Krewe, really a club,

comprised of prominent citizens. Each krewe, and therefore

its parade and ball to follow, has a name: Rex, Endymion,

Orpheus, Bacchus, etc. A king and queen and a court of maids

and their escorts are invited to preside over the

festivities, and organizations or groups are also invited to

ride on a series of floats behind the two carrying the

     This year the Bards of Bohemia Krewe invited the

National Federation of the Blind to ride on float seventeen

of their parade, which took place on Monday, February 10. In

addition, Julie Russell, a member of the NFB of Louisiana,

was invited to be a maid in the court presided over by this

year's queen, the daughter of nationally known magician

Harry Blackstone. Billy Petrino, a current student at the

Louisiana Center for the Blind, served as Julie's escort and

rode on the escorts' float. Julie rode with members of the

court, and six other Federationists took part in the

festivities. They threw plastic cups emblazoned with the NFB

     The participation of the National Federation of the

Blind was noted by the media. The Cable News Network,

National Public Radio, and Associated Press carried stories

about our participation. The Times-Picayune, the most

important newspaper in New orleans, placed the story on the

front page of the Metro Section of the February 10, 1997,

edition. It speaks for itself. Here it is:

     If someone had told Julie Russell two years ago that

she would lose her eyesight yet finish college, take charge

of her life, and toss Carnival throws from a float, she

would have laughed in sheer disbelief.
     The unthinkable began to unfold in January, 1995:

Russell, a Tulane University senior in the middle of final

exams, suffered a mysterious illness that attacked her optic

nerve and in a matter of days left her blind. The scariest

part, she recalled, was not knowing what the rest of her

life would be like.
     As it has turned out, life has not been much different

than what she had expected all along. She recently earned a

bachelor's degree in English and is searching for a job in

the hotel, tourism, and hospitality industry.
     Nor has blindness cut down on her Carnival merriment:

tonight she will be a maid in the royal court of the Bards

of Bohemia and toss Carnival trinkets along with the other 

     It was Mardi Gras 1995 that she learned that she need

not be sucked into a cynical existence after meeting with

students and staffers who had come from the Louisiana Center

for the Blind in Ruston for Fat Tuesday.
     After joining the group for breakfast and getting an

impromptu lesson in travel by cane, Russell realized that

their lives weren't much different from hers before her

illness and that options seemed endless. She did have one

     "I wondered how they would catch throws," said Russell.

Two years later Russell boasts she's as good as if not

better than the most seasoned bead snatcher and has a pile

of loot from Endymion to prove it. And tonight she'll ride

above the sea of hands, tossing cups and trinkets from Float

No. 3.
     The daughter of Tim and Heather Russell, she and about

thirty of her fellow members of the National Federation of

the Blind will be part of the parade, to be followed by a

ball at the Marriott.
     Russell, twenty-three, attributes her bright outlook to

the Federation, which operates three training centers for

the blind in Louisiana, Colorado, and Minnesota.
     Russell, whose family relocated to New Orleans from her

native Fairbanks, Alaska, when she was twelve, is a product

of the Federation's training center in Ruston, where

students gain self-sufficiency and get a chance to go deep-

sea fishing, rock climbing, and bargain shopping in Mexican

border towns.
     Computer classes and woodshop are part of the

instruction. To meet graduation requirements, Russell

prepared a breakfast, complete with blueberry bread, for

forty people.
     "The National Federation of the Blind gave me all this

wonderful knowledge and a perspective that blindness is

really no big deal," Russell said Sunday at her tidy Mid-

City area home, where she lives alone.
     "With proper training and skills, blindness can be

reduced to a physical nuisance," Russell said.
     Russell became part of Carnival royalty after the

krewe's executive director, Terry McIntosh, invited her

longtime friend Harold Snider to ride in the parade.
     Snider accepted, and Russell was invited to fill a slot

in the royal court.
     "There are very few people who have done what Julie has

done," said Snider, director of the International Braille

Research Center. "Adjustment is usually a more difficult

     Snider, who'll ride in the parade with his wife Linda,

said he's always heard so much about Mardi Gras while

growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, and will finally

fulfill a long-held ambition to ride in a parade.
     "We're doing this to show the public that blind people

can take their place in the mainstream of life," said Joanne

Wilson, president of the Federation's Louisiana affiliate,

which will meet in Metairie from April 11 to 13.
     The National Convention, expected to draw 3,000

participants, will be in New Orleans June 28 through July 5.
     "In New Orleans the mainstream of life right now is

Mardi Gras," Wilson said. "We want to show that blind people

can ride on floats, throw stuff off floats, and take their

place in society."

      Needed: Blind Individuals for University Training

           as Orientation and Mobility Instructors

                        by Ruby Ryles
     From the Editor: Most people who know Ruby Ryles think

of her as a sensible and intuitive teacher of blind

children. Some of us have become familiar with her research

on the importance of learning Braille as early as possible

in elementary school. Now she is using her expertise in

visual impairment to tackle the serious problem of too few

good instructors in the field of orientation and mobility.

This is what she says:
     The Louisiana Center for the Blind, Louisiana

Rehabilitation Services, and the Louisiana Department of

Education, in cooperation with Louisiana Tech University and

Grambling University, proudly announce an exciting, long-

overdue program created specifically to train qualified

blind and minority adults as orientation and mobility (O&M)

instructors. Ruston, Louisiana, home to both Louisiana Tech

University and the Louisiana Center for the Blind, promises

to be an especially hot spot in June because classes are

scheduled to begin in the nation's first university O&M

training program specifically recruiting blind applicants.
     As most Federationists know, many of the nation's most

competent orientation and mobility instructors have been

denied professional training and/or certification solely

because they were blind. This program marks the beginning of

a new era. The Louisiana Center for the Blind, the Louisiana

Rehabilitation Services, and the Louisiana State Department

of Education are now developing certification standards

which are fully inclusive of qualified blind persons. The

certification currently being designed is an alternative to

the prohibitive certification of the Association for

Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually

Impaired (AER). Applicants completing the prescribed course

of study will earn either certification in orientation and

mobility or a master's degree, which will include

certification. Both will be awarded on the basis of

meritorious achievement rather than vision.
     Classes will be held at Louisiana Tech University, one

of Louisiana's major universities. The university is located

within easy walking distance of the Louisiana Center for the

Blind (LCB), one of the nation's premier training centers

for the blind. Known for its highly successful

rehabilitation program, the Louisiana Center for the Blind

will serve as host for internships; practica; seminars; and

liberal doses of down-home, southern-style fun and

friendship with students and staff. University courses in

the program will incorporate the theory and best practices

of both the "guided-learning" model which dominates

traditional university-based O&M programs, and the

progressive agency-training model grounded in structured-

discovery learning.
     If an innovative, model program conducted at a state

university with an acclaimed training center for the blind

situated in lovely northeastern Louisiana isn't enough to

whet your appetite for learning, there's more! Financial

assistance with tuition, books, supplies, room and board,

and travel is available. Classes will start in June, and

interest in the program has been heavy, so don't waste time.

Call now for more information. Interested blind adults who

have completed an undergraduate degree are encouraged to

contact Ruby Ryles at (318) 251-2891. Come join us as we

begin a new era in the orientation and mobility field. Note:

This grant is funded through the U.S. Department of

Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration, under

Experimental and Innovative Training Programs. We welcome

sighted applicants as well, but they must meet the same high

standards expected of blind students.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Sue Drapinski]
      If Only We Could See Through the Eyes of a Child

                      by Sue Drapinski
     From the Editor: As spring rolls around again, this

little reminder of the importance of the work that we all do

every day may be helpful. Sue Drapinski is the Treasurer of

the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. This is

what she says:
     The importance of the NFB of Michigan's tutoring

program and the ongoing education of our blind children is

immeasurable. However, the education of the general public

about blindness issues and the capabilities of those who are

blind must also be a high priority. Today's blind and

sighted children are the best teachers. The following

tradition in our family demonstrates how easy it would be if

only society could see things through the eyes of a child.
     Each year our family has a barbecue on Memorial Day

weekend. We invite friends and family and enjoy outdoor

games, food, fellowship, and the local carnival games and

rides just a block away. Each year new friends join us. Last

year, Sid and Dawn Neddo and their children came. Kyle

Neddo, who is an eight-year-old blind child, was one of the

twelve children under the age of ten. He ate with the rest

of the kids, played with the rest of the kids, and went to

the carnival with the rest of the kids. Because Kyle and his

family are a part of our Federation family and because they

believe in and live our philosophy, Kyle has never been

excluded from children's activities.
     During the barbecue never once did any of the children

question Kyle's abilities. Never once did they treat him

differently, and most important never once did they assume

there was something he couldn't do. The same is not true for

the adults watching the children play. Some wondered if Kyle

should be running; some worried that he would get hurt; some

marveled at all of the exceptional things he was able to do

(such as playing like any other eight-year-old).
     One by one, the concerned adults realized that neither

Kyle's parents nor those of us who knew Kyle were concerned.

They began to understand a little bit of NFB philosophy--

Kyle is no different because he is blind, and he doesn't

need to be treated any differently because he is blind. The

next step is for these same adults to realize that Kyle is

not exceptional, nor has he overcome great adversity. Kyle,

like all of the other children, was just having fun being a

     As we meet new people and try to spread our philosophy,

our ultimate goal is for everyone to understand the truth

just as simply as the children do--blindness does not make a

difference in who a person is, what he or she can do, or how

he or she should be treated. We have a long way to go, but

if each of us takes advantage of the opportunities presented

to us, our philosophy will prevail.

                      Content Validity 

      of the National Literary Braille Competency Test

             by Carol B. Allman and Sandra Lewis
     From the Editor: Because Braille users and those who

wish they had been taught to use it have such strong

convictions about the importance of effective teaching of

the code to children, members of the National Federation of

the Blind have worked to ensure that teachers of the

visually impaired know the code well themselves so that they

can teach it. Unfortunately, a number of teachers have

opposed our efforts. They offer a variety of arguments in

support of their position, but we have been made skeptical

through the years by transparently poor teaching of Braille

and, too often, a rigid determination to teach print if at

all possible. In short we have become convinced that

insecurity and fear underlie a large part of the teacher

resistance to the movement toward demonstrated competency in

Braille reading and writing for teachers of blind students.

A few months ago word began to circulate about an

astonishing article that had appeared in the Fall, 1996,

issue of RE:view, the journal of the Association for

Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually

Impaired (AER). Here is the article by Carol Allman and

Sandra Lewis as it appeared:
     Criticism of teacher competence in using and teaching

Braille contributed to the start of a Braille literacy

movement in the 1980's. Because of the Braille movement and

the general agreement that Braille is a literary code of

importance for some people with a visual impairment, twenty-

five states [now twenty-eight], including Florida, have

passed "Braille Bills" (Turco, 1993; personal communication,

B. Pierce, April 13, 1994). Such legislation reiterates the

importance of Braille for some students with severe visual

impairments and, in most cases, requires testing the Braille

competence of teachers of students with visual impairments.
     As a result of the Braille literacy movement, the

Braille section of the National Library Service for the

Blind and Physically Impaired (NLS) of the Library of

Congress has developed the National Literary Braille

Competency Test (NLBCT), a criterion-referenced test that

assesses skill in reading and writing (transcription)

Braille. No other test of this kind exists, and states that

have passed Braille legislation have considered using the

test for one aspect of certifying teachers of students with

visual impairments. If the test, which has not been used as

yet, is to be considered for partial use in teacher

certification, its content must be determined to be valid.
     In 1989, national organizations for the blind (American

Council of the Blind, American Foundation for the Blind,

Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind

and Visually Impaired, Blinded Veterans Association,

Canadian Council of the Blind, Canadian National Institute

for the Blind, National Federation of the Blind, and the

NLS) formed the Joint Organizational Effort (JOE) in part to

promote Braille literacy. The group chose the NLS to devise

a competency test because it had expertise in Braille codes

and no affiliation with teachers, universities, or other

education or rehabilitation organizations (National Library

Service, 1993).
     An editorial committee of eleven professionals involved

in education or rehabilitation for blind and visually

impaired persons was formed in 1991 to advise on test

development. The committee recommended limiting the test to

literary Braille (excluding math or music codes), including

slate and stylus writing, and not testing Braille teaching

methodology. It recommended that university training

programs assure proficiency in teaching methodology testing

through certification standards.
     In the spring of 1992, the editorial committee reviewed

a trial test, which NLS revised on the basis of that

evaluation. Subsequently, thirty-two peer reviewers (64

percent return rate) in fifteen states evaluated the test.

The editorial committee or NLS selected those reviewers from

a list of individuals who had expressed an unsolicited

interest in reviewing the test. Their responses were

positive; most agreed that slate writing was important,

although a few thought it unnecessary. Most recommended more

multiple-choice questions. NLS revised the test based on

these recommendations (Stark, 1993b).
     The NLBCT is described in news releases (National

Library Service, 1992, 1993, 1994) as a three-part

evaluation of general knowledge of the Braille literary

code. The test assesses (a) the ability to write by using a

slate and stylus to Braille one medium-length paragraph, and

a Braillewriter to transcribe one full print page, and (b)

the ability to identify Braille errors in four medium

Braille paragraphs. It also requires the candidate to answer

twenty-five questions on the use of Braille rules.

Candidates can use a dictionary, but not Braille reference

materials, to complete the test within four to six hours.

NLS will grade the tests and set passing scores. NLS has set

prerequisites for taking the test the first time and

guidelines for subsequently retaking it.
     The Braille literacy concerns of JOE indicate that

professionals and consumers in the field generally support

the concept of a Braille competency test. However, the NLBCT

has not been rigorously validated, and testing and

measurement specialists agree that assessments used to

obtain teaching certification should have psychometric

characteristics that include assurance that the instrument

used has job relevance (Gorth and Chernoff, 1986). The

measurement literature on validation of teacher

certification tests, although limited (Schmitt and Borman,

1993), supports the need for content validation,

particularly for tests like the NLBCT that are

criterion-referenced tests of skills used in teacher

certification (Shimberg, 1981).
     Unfortunately, the current development of the NLBCT

consists of expert judging and peer review based on personal

expertise (Stark, 1993a) and not of job analysis data. The

recommendation by peer reviewers to assess only knowledge of

the Braille code and not methodology raises particularly the

question of the need for teachers to demonstrate ability to

transcribe materials using a slate and stylus. There is

agreement in the literature that teachers should teach slate

and stylus to students. However, if the NLBCT is designed to

assess demonstration of the Braille code and not teaching of

Braille and related communication skills, the requirement of

slate and stylus writing is questionable.
             Issues Surrounding Content Validity
     Technical adequacy of any test through the use of

psychometric techniques is considered standard procedure as

outlined in the Standards for Educational and Psychological

Testing (American Educational Research Association, American

Psychological Association, and National Council on

Measurement in Education, 1985). Primary standards include

evidence of validity. Validity of criterion-referenced tests

is widely discussed in the literature, but content validity

is generally recommended as the primary validation of

interest. For teacher certification purposes, test content

validation is generally determined through an investigation

of practitioners who either report or demonstrate the skills

tested while on the job.
     As prospective teachers are tested for competency, it

is critical that the competence be based on the knowledge,

skill, and ability that is demonstrated by practicing

teachers. The job relevance of testing for certification

purposes is upheld by Standards for Educational and

Psychological Testing (American Educational Research

Association et al., 1985) and the Equal Employment

Opportunity Commission's overview of the Adoption by Four

Agencies of Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection

Procedures (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1978).
     The assessment of skills through performance rating of

demonstrated skills has traditionally been focused on

occupational areas that lend themselves to completion of a

product through simulated performance of specified skills,

such as secretarial (typing exams) and mechanical

functioning (car repair, building construction, or

assembly-line skill)(Fleishman, 1982; Hambleton and Rogers,

1991). Typically, teacher skills are not defined in ways

that allow their simulation for skill performance

assessment. However, Braille transcription competence is a

skill that lends itself to a performance rating on a

criterion-referenced test.
     Legal opinions support the critical nature of content

validity for teacher certification testing. In a 1971 case,

Griggs v Duke Power Company, employees of Duke Power Company

challenged the legality of an employer's using general

ability tests to hire and advance employees. That landmark

case in personnel testing established the concept of job

relatedness in finding that the general ability tests were

not validated by correlation with job relevant tasks

(Bershoff, 1981).   In a 1975 case, Albemarle Paper Company

v Moody, an employer's method of determining validity of an

employee test was found defective. A psychologist hired to

validate an employee test compared test scores of current

employees with supervisors' judgements of competence. The

court stated that the validation did not analyze attributes

or particular skills needed in the job and thus was

defective methodology. (Bershoff, 1981).
     Two cases in 1981 further addressed the validity of

employment testing. The United States v City of St. Louis

case challenged multiple-choice questions and simulation

exercises on an employee test developed by a panel of

experts. The court concluded that the items were based on

opinion rather than actual observation of correlation

between mastery of knowledge and abilities measured by the

test. Although the test assessed reading and writing skills

that were dissimilar to those needed in the work situation,

it threatened the use of simulated situations in the testing

situation. In Guardians Association of New York City v Civil

Service Commission, perhaps the most sophisticated opinion

on employment test validity, the court found the functional

approach of job relatedness for content validation to be

appropriate. The court upheld the city's use of content

validation strategies, supporting further use of

job-relevant content validation for tests of teacher

certification. (Bershoff, 1981).
     Bishop (1993), Harrell and Curry (1987), Heinze (1986),

Olmstead (1991), and Torres and Corn (1990) provided

descriptions of duties of a teacher of visually impaired and

included the transcription of materials into Braille and the

interlining of Braille materials with print. Teachers may

demonstrate these transcription skills by using a

Braillewriter, a slate and stylus, a Braille computer

program, or a Braille transcriber aide. Any assessment of

these Braille transcription skills must necessarily reflect

on-the-job activities as carried out by teachers.

Unfortunately there are no quantitative studies or job

analyses to suggest how teachers proceed with Braille

transcription duties.
                      The Present Study
     In the present study, we address the content validity

of Braille transcription on the NLBCT. The need for the test

is not at issue. If the test is an instrument for

demonstrating "basic competency in literary Braille"

(National Library Service, 1994, p.1), then proper

validation procedures should show that the test is related

to the job performed by the teacher of students with visual

                      The Questionnaire
     We designed a Braille Skills Analysis Questionnaire

(BSAQ), choosing the questions by reviewing the literature

on Braille- related communication skills and by evaluating

the purpose, content, and process of Braille transcription

skills on the NLBCT practice test. We designed the

questionnaire so that the teacher respondents could indicate

how and how often they used Braille transcription skills,

particularly their use of slate and stylus, Braillewriter,

Braille computer programs, and transcriber aides in

transcribing materials and transcribing with the use of

Braille reference materials.
     We asked fifteen visual impairment professionals to

review a draft of the BSAQ. Using responses from nine of

those reviewers (60 percent), we revised the draft. We then

asked ten potential participants to complete the revised

test to determine its test-retest reliability. We had

established a priori that a test-retest reliability of .85

would be acceptable for ascertaining that the questionnaire

would produce reliable information. Eight participants (80

percent) returned the completed questionnaire. Two weeks

later we sent a second questionnaire to those participants

who returned the first one. Six of the eight participants

(75 percent) returned the questionnaires for test-retest

reliability computation. We obtained an average test- retest

reliability of .87 from those six responses. The field test

participants were not part of the initial review, and both

groups of participants were deleted from the participant

     The participants were 233 teachers of students with

visual impairments in Florida, whose names we obtained from

the Florida Instructional Materials Center for the Visually

Handicapped, which maintains an annually updated list of all

teachers of students with visual impairments in Florida.

These individuals would be a source of current on-the-job

information about skill in Braille transcription. The sample

of teacher participants consisted of thirty-two men (14

percent) and 201 women (86 percent).
     The Florida Department of Education mailed the test and

a return-address, stamped envelope to the 233 teachers. The

tests were coded to the addresses of the participants. The

coding was accessed only by a research assistant who

maintained records on the return of the tests and sent

follow-up letters four weeks after the original mailing to

those who had not completed the questionnaires.
     Eighty-one percent (189 of 233) returned the test. Of

those 189, 181 questionnaires (96 percent) were completed in

a usable manner. The eight unusable questionnaires were not

completed because the recipients were no longer teaching.

Twenty-six men (14 percent) and 155 women (86 percent)

completed the questionnaire. Seven participants reported

that they were tactual Braille readers. Seventy-five percent

of the respondents were teachers of visually impaired

children; 7 percent were orientation and mobility

specialists; 14 percent had dual assignments; and 4 percent

gave no identification. Of these teachers, 42 percent served

prekindergarten through secondary school children; the

remaining 58 percent, in about equal proportion, taught

secondary school children only, elementary and secondary

school children, elementary school children only, or some

other combination of ages. Sixty-seven percent of the

teachers reported that they had taught for more than ten

years; 59 percent stated that they had taught students with

visual impairments for more than ten years. The data in

Tables One and Two indicate the locations of teaching

assignments and the number of visually impaired children

each teacher taught.
     Teachers who did not use Braille in their teaching

assignments were asked not to answer the remaining

questions. Eighty-nine teachers (49 percent) reported

transcribing Braille; 96 percent of those used a

Braillewriter, 64 percent used computer software, and only

12 percent used a slate and stylus.
     We had decided before mailing the tests that to be

reported as content-valid a skill had to be used by 85

percent of transcribing teachers. Based on the report of

eighty-nine teachers in Florida who transcribe materials for

students as part of their current job, the NLBCT skill of

producing print into Braille by a Braillewriter can be

considered content-valid. The NLBCT skill of producing print

into Braille using a slate and stylus is not content-valid

based on the Florida responses. Although the skill of using

a slate and stylus is described in the literature as

desirable for teachers who teach students with visual

impairments, the reproduction of materials into Braille by

that method is not a skill that many teachers in Florida

use. Most teachers who transcribe materials do so with a

Braillewriter or computer software.
     Of the 104 teachers responding to the question about

using Braille transcriber aides to transcribe materials,

sixty-five (63 percent) reported not using an aide. However,

sixteen (15 percent) reported using an aide for 3-5 hours a

week; 16 (15 percent) reported using an aide less than 1 to

2 hours; and 7 (7 percent) used an aide for transcription

from 6 hours to more than 10 hours weekly.
     One hundred teachers answered the question about using

reference materials for transcription, and eighty-five

teachers answered the question on using reference materials

for interlining Braille with print. The data in Table three

show the frequency of reported use of reference materials.

Table four contains data on the amount of time teachers

spend weekly in interlining and transcribing Braille.
     Interpretations of the findings in this study need to

consider the following limitations:

1. Participants in this study were volunteers and may not be

representative of the population of teachers.

2. Participants were limited to the state of Florida.

3. Participants in this study may have previously

participated in some aspect of the NLBCT development.

4. Data from this study are self-reported information and

may reflect the participants' biases.
TABLE One. Teaching Assignments of Respondents

Assignment                        Number            Percent
Residential School                 25                  14%

Resource Room                      24                  13%

Itinerant Teaching                 99                  55%

Special Class                      21                  12%

Other (supervisor, media spec.)    12                  6%
Total                              181                 100% 
TABLE Two. Number of Students With Visual Impairment That

Respondents Serve
Program Mode                       Range     M       Mode

Itinerant teaching                 2-32      14.1     10

Resource room                      1-65      11.5     9

Residential School                 3-100     27.4     27
TABLE Three. Frequency of Teacher Use of Braille Reference


Use                           Always    Sometimes      Never

Transcribing Braille Materials  21           70        9

Interlining Print Materials     14           47        24
TABLE Four. Time Teachers Spend per Week (in Hours) in


and Interlining

Skill                    <1   1-2  3-5  6-10 >10

Slate and stylus         10   1    0    0    0

Braillewriter            18   30   21   11   5

Computer Software        7    21   13   6    3

Interlining Braille      9    27   15   7    2
                 Conclusions and Discussion
     We designed the collection of data in this study to

determine if teachers transcribe Braille using a

Braillewriter and a slate and stylus without the use of

reference materials as assessed on the NLBCT. The data from

this survey support the assertion that transcribing Braille

with a Braillewriter is a valid skill to assess as a

certification requirement for prospective teachers of

students with visual impairments. Using a slate and stylus

and transcribing Braille without using reference materials

are not valid components for certification requirements.
     Wittenstein (1993a, 1993b) found that over half of the

subjects he surveyed felt that it was not desirable for

teachers to be certified transcribers of Braille. Currently,

Braille transcribers are certified through a test similar to

the NLBCT that requires transcription on a Braillewriter

with use of reference materials and with particular

attention given to format, structure, and lack of errors on

the transcribed document. If teachers are to be assessed on

their ability to transcribe Braille for student use, those

skills should be assessed through ways typically used by

teachers and with attention to lack of errors on the

transcribed document. The data from this study indicate that

transcribing using a Braillewriter and reference materials

is a skill used by over 90 percent of the teachers who use

Braille in their classrooms. Unlike the NLBCT, the

applicants for the Braille transcriber test may use

reference materials and may complete the test in a setting

of their choice.
     Over half of the teachers using Braille spent one to

five hours a week interlining print with Braille.

Interlining appears to be a critical skill for a number of

teachers and is necessary in the management of students with

visual impairments in regular classrooms. If regular

classroom teachers are readily to accept students with

visual impairments in their classrooms, they need assurance

that the materials are accessible. This suggestion is

supported by Bishop (1986), who identified factors in the

successful mainstreaming of students with visual

impairments. This finding supports the suggestion that

teacher preparation programs include the skill of

interlining in Braille coursework.
     The data from this study indicate that 64 percent of

teachers using Braille in their classrooms transcribe with

computer software. This skill may reflect a future trend and

probably reflects teachers' desires to complete needed

transcription in a timely, simplified fashion. It does not

suggest that teachers are illiterate in the Braille code.
     The finding of some use of aides for transcription may

indicate a trend in the use of trained transcribers, which

is supported by Currey and Hatlen (1989), who reported that

teacher "aides are often assigned the job of Braille

transcription and that teachers of the visually impaired are

assigned the job of training those aides in the fundamentals

of Braille transcription" (p.61). This information suggests

that a Braille skill that may need to be included in teacher

competency in the future is the ability to train teacher

aides in the transcription of Braille.
     Based on the results of this study, we do not recommend

using the NLBCT in its present format in certifying teachers

of students with visual impairments. Competence in

transcription of Braille on a Braillewriter using reference

materials is a job-relevant, content-valid skill expected of

any teacher of students with visual impairments. In

addition, teachers should be competent in interlining

     Teachers must have the opportunity to continuously

renew and upgrade teaching skills. In this study, we report

that 51 percent of the respondents indicated that they do

not currently use Braille, and often teachers go for several

years with no Braille-reading students; these teachers

require Braille and Braille device updates (Olmstead, 1991).

New and improved technology, methodologies, and materials

become available and require learning or renewing (Maron,

1983). Commonwealth of Virginia (1991) and Wittenstein

(1993a, 1993b) report that although teachers generally feel

confident in their Braille skills, they desire some level of

inservice training on various Braille-related communication

     Based on the findings of this study concerning the

content validity of the NLBCT, the Braille Competency

Committee of the Florida Department of Education recommended

that this test not be used for teacher certification. The

Braille Competency Committee established Braille competence

standards for teachers and recommended that prospective

teachers' competence in Braille be assured through the

content of university courses, including passing an

examination that allows use of reference materials while (a)

transcribing a lengthy passage from print to Braille on the

Braillewriter and (b) interlining Braille to print. This

committee, recognizing that caseloads of teachers may only

sporadically include students who are Braille readers, also

recommended that regular inservice training in Braille be

initiated for teachers who believe that their skills are

rusty. More than 100 individuals participated in four

regional two-day Braille refresher workshops in the spring

of 1996. Future plans are to provide advanced Braille

updating, which would include teacher competence in the use

of software for transcription and the training of teacher

aides to assist in the transcription of Braille.
     NLS has announced that it will proceed with a

nationwide effort to validate the content of the NLBCT. Our

research, conducted in only one state, can be used as a

pilot study for the larger investigation. It will be

interesting to see if the transcribing practices of Florida

teachers are similar to those of teachers in other states.

Should the nationwide validation confirm that teachers

primarily use Braillewriters and reference materials when

transcribing materials from print to Braille, it seems

reasonable that the NLBCT can be made more content-valid by

making changes to the testing procedures that reflect these

job-related practices.
     In the meantime, states that have adopted the current

version of the NLBCT for teacher certification may want to

reevaluate their decision. If the test lacks content

validity, as determined in this study, continued use of the

NLBCT as a determinant of employability may not be upheld in

the courts.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Barbara Pierce]
             A Nonacademic Plea for Common Sense

                      by Barbara Pierce
     Anyone who depends on the ability to read and write

Braille or who needs strong Braille skills and does not have

them undoubtedly finished reading the preceding article

frothing at the mouth. To those unused to digging through

reports of research findings, the striking point in the

authors' argument would appear to be that they surveyed

teachers of blind children in Florida and learned that very

few of them ever prepare class materials for their students

using the slate and stylus. Therefore there is no reason to

demand that such teachers learn to use the slate and stylus,

and states using the NLS National Literary Braille

Competency Test (NLBCT) as part of their certification

process for teachers of the blind may eventually be

instructed by the courts to throw out this instrument.
     A close reading of the article reveals that the

argument being presented is actually somewhat more complex

but equally disturbing. I do not pretend to comprehend the

professional jargon completely, and neither did several

academics to whom I showed the article in the hope that they

could explain it to me. But I would like to comment on a

couple of disturbing things it seems to say.
     The authors object to the original decision to

construct the Braille competency test to measure knowledge

of Braille rather than focusing on the teacher's mastery of

teaching methods for working with blind students. They seem

to think that assessing teacher mastery of the code somehow

means transcription skills are being assessed. Their words

are: "The recommendation by peer reviewers to assess only

knowledge of the Braille code and not methodology raises

particularly the question of the need for teachers to

demonstrate ability to transcribe materials using a slate

and stylus. There is agreement in the literature that

teachers should teach slate and stylus to students. However,

if the NLBCT is designed to assess demonstration of the

Braille code and not teaching of Braille and related

communication skills, the requirement of slate and stylus

writing is questionable." Unless I am missing something,

this reasoning seems astonishing to me.
     The concept of a competency test was first proposed

because so few special education teachers of blind students

truly knew the Braille code and could use it with any

facility. As far as I know, the evidence is anecdotal, but

blind people with a good mastery of Braille reading and

writing consistently point to a teacher or other adult whose

instruction and personal skill enabled the blind youngsters

to learn Braille effectively. Teachers who don't know

Braille well are typically unenthusiastic about teaching it,

avoid doing so as much as possible, and make errors when

they are forced to prepare Braille materials.

     There is nothing extraordinary about this phenomenon.

It pops up in human nature all the time. My children had two

different French teachers in high school. One had a

beautiful accent, had been to France, and clearly loved the

language. Her students were excited about French, spoke it

whenever they could, did extra-curricular projects, and

enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I suppose the other teacher

liked the language well enough to teach it, but no one could

ever be certain. Her accent was very poor, and her ability

to inspire enthusiasm in her students was nonexistent. When

students expressed interest in taking French at the local

college, she did what she could to discourage them on the

grounds that they would find it too difficult. Everyone

assumed that she was really afraid that her own shortcomings

would be exposed more obviously if the French faculty saw

the results of her instruction. To my mind this is the same

set of very human responses at work that we find in the

teachers who resist having their Braille skills tested.
     The NLBCT was developed, not to predict how successful

a Braille teacher would be in teaching Braille reading and

writing, but to determine whether that teacher possesses the

body of information and skills he or she must teach. A sound

knowledge of Braille reading and writing is a necessary, but

not sufficient, prerequisite to effective teaching. I am

mystified as to why this point seems so difficult for many

in education to grasp.
     Another place where ordinary common sense and

researcher logic seem to part company is in the section

titled "Issues Surrounding Content Validity." Specialized

terms are discussed in this section, and in the following

passage I do not pretend to understand the term "criterion

referenced tests," but it's pretty clear the researchers

believe that the best way to test the skills of teachers or

would-be teachers is to compare their abilities to those of

actual teachers doing the work in the classroom, which seems

to be content validity. In other words, if you construct a

valid test that measures the skills of the test-taker

against the job being done in the field, you can predict how

well the test-taker is teaching or will teach in the future.

Here is the relevant passage: "Validity of

criterion-referenced tests is widely discussed in the

literature, but content validity is generally recommended as

the primary validation of interest. For teacher

certification purposes, test content validation is generally

determined through an investigation of practitioners who

either report or demonstrate the skills tested while on the

     What follows this foggy little passage is a long

discussion, complete with citations of court cases, to

support the concept that generalized notions of what should

be taught and assessment of the test-taker's knowledge of a

body of material are unimportant or at least less important

in the certification process than assessment of the

teacher's mastery of methodology.
     Having conducted no research myself and knowing nothing

at all about test theory and test validation, I can only

comment based on common sense. Surely no one would argue

that anyone who has mastered a body of knowledge can

necessarily teach it. All of us have endured teachers who

knew their stuff but who could not communicate it to the

class. We are not arguing that knowing the Braille code well

and having the ability to write it with Brailler or slate

guarantee that one can effectively teach a blind child to

read and write Braille rapidly and effectively. But it seems

self-evident to me that one who does not have those skills

and that knowledge will very seldom be able to teach others

mastery of Braille and will be unlikely to believe in its

importance. One must understand algebra before teaching it.

A violin teacher must be able to produce music on a fiddle

if his or her students are to learn to play.
     Some years ago my local NFB chapter invited the teacher

of the visually impaired in our county to come to a meeting

and talk to us about the education of blind children. With

pride she told us that she had been teaching in the system

for eleven years, and never in all that time had a single

student in her class needed Braille. She had assured us at

the beginning of the meeting that she knew Braille and that,

if a student really needed it, she would teach it. What she

did not know was that we had been working with the parents

of several students in the county who had requested Braille

for their children, and all the students had eventually left

the school where this woman taught and gone to the school

for the blind, where they could receive Braille instruction.

When teachers like this one are not teaching what their

children need to learn for success in life, how can they

possibly provide a reliable reference for determining the

standards for teacher competency? This teacher genuinely had

not noticed that her prejudice against Braille was actually

preventing her from recognizing her students' needs.
     Of course, the teachers in Florida surveyed about their

teaching do not transcribe much material for their students

using the slate and stylus; teachers haven't done much of

that sort of thing for fifty years. First grade teachers

don't prepare worksheets for their students using pencils

either. Yet first grade teachers do use handwriting and are

expected to teach their students to write as well as read.

The authors give lip service to the concept that slate and

stylus instruction should be given to blind students. In

their survey, however, the authors did not ask how many

teachers taught the use of the slate and stylus, and they

certainly made no attempt to ascertain how effective such

teaching was. Those questions were beyond the purview of the

research, which focused on Braille transcription only.
     But I can tell you that very few blind students today

are being taught effective and enthusiastic slate use. The

Ohio affiliate conducts a Braille-writing contest each year-

-or at least we try to. We have just changed the contest

rules. We used to present a Braille 'n Speak to the middle

or high school student who wrote the best essay about the

importance of Braille in his or her life. The essay was to

be written using a slate and stylus. Last year we had no

contest entrants because, as the teachers told us, their

Braille students could write with a Perkins Brailler but not

the slate. This year we will award extra points for

submissions written with a slate and stylus, but so far none

have appeared.
     I recently received a report from a Federationist whose

affiliate had just completed a daylong trip to the state

capital during which teams of Federationists talked with

legislators about important bills coming up for action. Six

high school students took part in the event, which was

wonderful, but not a single one could take notes of the

meetings in Braille. It was not that they could not take

good notes or make a complete and legible record; these

students were unable to take Braille notes at all! It would

be hard to assemble a group of six sighted high school

students interested in attending and able to take part in

such an event who were, to a person, unable to take notes at

     These are anecdotes admittedly, but they are stories

the truth of which I can vouch for, and they have occurred

in the past year. In fact, I know only one high school

student who is enthusiastic about using the slate and

stylus, and she is being home schooled by members of the

Parents Division in Ohio and has attended the Buddy Program

at BLIND, Inc., for the past three summers. In other words,

her exposure to the poor attitudes of many teachers of blind

students in Ohio has been minimal, and her absorption of

Federation philosophy has been steady and constructive.
     Is this little essay of mine merely one more

indiscriminate attack on the abilities and attitudes of

teachers of blind students? Absolutely not! In my experience

no one is more enthusiastic about the importance of Braille

reading and writing than those teachers who do know the code

well and teach it whenever and wherever they can. They have

seen more clearly than the rest of us can how important it

is and what a difference it can make to their students at

every ability level.
     We can only hope that legislators and education

officials will depend on their own common sense and the

experience of blind adults and those teachers who actually

know and effectively teach Braille to their students. If we

have our way, most blind students will be learning Braille

in the future, and most of their special education teachers

will actually be required to know the code they are

teaching. We can only work and hope for the best and trust

that in the meantime ill-conceived research does not do our

children in.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Bruce Gardner]
                  Making Other Arrangements

                     by Bruce A. Gardner
     From the Editor: Bruce Gardner is the President of the

National Federation of the Blind of Arizona and an attorney

with a responsible position. He has a lovely home and a

large and happy family. By any measure he is a successful

and satisfied man. Bruce's success is not a matter of luck;

he has worked hard and struggled to overcome obstacles. In

the following story he talks about one of these and the way

in which his victory has helped to shape his life. This is

what he says:
     I have come to understand that the real problem of

blindness is not the lack of eyesight but the public's lack

of insight about blindness. In other words, it is not the

physical disability but the social handicap (society's

attitude) that is the real problem. It was Henry Ford who

said "If you think you can or you can't, you're right."

Given opportunity and training, a blind person with a little

initiative, determination, and the conviction that there's a

way to do the job can find alternative techniques for doing

just about anything sighted people do. Unfortunately the

public's notion of blindness is one of helplessness and

dependence. The blind are generally regarded as incapable of

doing much of anything.
     Because blind people are part of society, we often have

the same low expectations and negative perceptions about

ourselves and thus do much to make those negative

perceptions a reality. I certainly grew up with all the

usual misconceptions about blindness, never mind the fact

that I was blind.
     It was not until I was in college that I heard about

the National Federation of the Blind and learned the truth

about blindness. Therefore it was in college that I first

started using my long white cane.
     Before that time I had low expectations and low self-

esteem. I was ashamed of my blindness because I thought

blind people were fumbling, bumbling Mr. Magoos or, worse,

virtually helpless dependents who sold pencils on the street

corner. I did not want to be thought that, so I tried to

hide my blindness and, of course, did not use a cane. But

that all changed when I learned the truth about blindness--

that it is respectable to be blind--and started

internalizing that truth.
     A girl I dated a time or two in college after I began

using my cane asked me to Sunday dinner and church

afterward. As we left her apartment to walk to church, she

turned to me and said, "Why don't you just leave your cane

here? You won't need it at church because you will be with

me the whole time."
     Although she was a nice young lady and I could tell

that she quite liked me, I felt like saying, "Why don't I

just leave YOU here?" She had now confirmed what I had

suspected: she was embarrassed to be seen with my cane. She

was not comfortable having others know that she was dating a

blind man. I decided to do both. For her sake I left the

cane behind when we went to church; then for my sake I left

her behind when we got back.
     Shortly thereafter I met Becca. Unlike many others I

had dated, Becca did not try to deny that my blindness could

have an effect on our relationship. In fact, soon after we

started going together, she told me that she did not want to

get serious until she knew whether she could deal with my

blindness. That was refreshing. Because about a year earlier

I had learned of the National Federation of the Blind, I was

finally beginning to internalize the truth about blindness

and come to know in my heart that it is respectable to be

blind. Becca was getting ready to leave on a two-week

vacation, so I asked her to read a couple of articles while

she was gone. I explained that the articles had been written

by Kenneth Jernigan, President of the National Federation of

the Blind, and that they expressed the way I felt about my

blindness. She agreed to read "Blindness, Handicap or

Characteristic" and "Blindness, Of Visions and Vultures."

When she returned from vacation, her ability to accept and

deal with my blindness was no longer a question. Within a

few weeks Becca and I were engaged.
     Becca's mother happened to be coming to Utah and

planned to stop and see Becca, so we took that opportunity

for me to meet her and to announce our engagement. She

seemed happy for us, but she made a few comments like "Don't

worry Becca; I won't say a thing to your father." A day or

two later I met Becca on campus after finishing my shift as

the supervisor of one of the breakfast crews at the dorm 

     I asked what her mother had meant. Becca said that her

father was a little old-fashioned and that perhaps I should

ask him for her hand in marriage. So I said, "I know where

the pay phone is; I'll give him a call." Still, I could tell

there was more to it. We were going to school in Provo,

Utah, and Becca's parents lived in California. Even so,

apparently her father had heard that she was dating a blind

     When I made the call, it was still early in the

morning, and Becca's father (a physician) was just getting

into his car to go to his office, which was at the hospital.

When he came to the phone, I said, "Dr. Loeb, you don't know

me, but my name is Bruce Gardner, and I have been dating

your daughter Becca. I am asking for her hand in marriage."

It would be an understatement to say that his response was

less than I had hoped for.
     He said, "I do not give permission to marry my daughter

to just anyone, and to me you are just anyone. You will have

to make other arrangements." He then hung up the phone. I

had the distinct impression that what he meant by "make

other arrangements" was go marry someone else.
     When I hung up the phone, Becca asked me what had

happened. In answer I said, "Get the phone book. I need to

call the airlines; we are going to visit your parents."

Those were the "other arrangements" I chose to make.
     The earliest flight we could get was late the next day,

which was a Friday, but that gave us time to call Becca's

mother back and arrange for me to have an interview with Dr.

Loeb at his office Saturday morning and at his request to

relay to him all the medical details I could provide about

my blindness. Of course I was scared. What was I to do? What

could I say to this Pediatric cardiologist that would

alleviate his concerns about his daughter's marrying a blind

     On Saturday morning, when Becca and I arrived at her

father's office, we learned that Becca was to have an

interview first. Only a few months earlier Becca had

graduated from college and begun work as a registered nurse.

Her father was concerned that Becca did not really love this

blind man but only felt sorry for him and wanted to take

care of him as she had done so many times before with hurt

or stray animals and birds.
     When it was my turn, I discussed with Dr. Loeb the

medical aspects of my blindness, and he told me the results

of his hasty research and conversations with the

ophthalmologists he worked with at the hospital. We then

discussed my plans to finish college and attend law school.

I also explained to him what my philosophy was regarding my

blindness and asked him to read the two articles I had

earlier shared with Becca. There were many other NFB

speeches I could have given him, but these two articles

summarized the issues well and had helped Becca work through

her concerns, so I used them again.
     After my interview Becca and I went to lunch with her

parents and then accompanied them on their Saturday

afternoon grocery shopping expedition, which was a weekly

tradition. Although I was staying at their home in the guest

room, nothing more was said about my blindness or my

engagement to Becca. The next morning, which was Sunday,

Becca and I were preparing to go to church. At the breakfast

table Becca's mother turned to her father and said, "Becca

and Bruce are going to church, and she wants to wear her

engagement ring. Have you made up your mind yet?"
     With that, her father turned to me, cleared his throat,

and said "did you have something you wanted to ask me?" I

almost fell off my chair. I muttered a lame apology for the

abrupt way I had asked the first time and then formally

requested Dr. Loeb's permission to marry his daughter. He

got a tear in his eye and a lump in his throat as he gave me

his permission. He then excused himself and left for work at

the hospital.
     That was all there was to it. It was clear that he had

read the articles I had given him and that he was impressed

with the attitude that I had conveyed and that the articles

relayed regarding blindness.
     I have since made good on my plans to finish college

and law school, and for the past fourteen years I have been

successfully practicing law. Becca and I now have six

bright, healthy, happy children, three of whom are

teenagers. Since that interview with Becca's father, my

blindness has not been an issue of concern for either Becca

or her parents. And since that interview I have grown

extremely close to Becca's parents.
     I am grateful to Dr. Kenneth Jernigan and the National

Federation of the Blind for helping me learn the truth about

blindness and enabling me to share that truth with my wife

and in-laws.



              Federation Spirit on the Internet

                       by Marc Maurer
     As Federationists know, I do not possess a great deal

of information about computers, but occasionally I turn my

attention to computer technology and equipment. Almost

invariably the telephone rings, somebody knocks on my door,

or the letters and messages from previous days begin to make

me nervous. I know that my prime responsibility is not to

understand the computer but to address the broad overall

needs of members of the National Federation of the Blind.

Consequently I don't spend enough time with computers to

become familiar with the way they work. Nevertheless, we in

the National Federation of the Blind have placed an

increasingly heavy emphasis on technological solutions to

information access for blind people. In 1990 we established

the International Braille and Technology Center for the

Blind (IBTC)--the only facility of its kind anywhere in the

world. In 1994 we established a Web site on the Internet. We

now distribute the Braille Monitor, Voice of the Diabetic,

and a number of other publications by electronic mail.

Shortly after we established the IBTC, we also created NFB

NET, our computer bulletin board service (BBS), and an

increasing number of our communications use our BBS and

indeed the Internet generally.
     Although I do not know how to use the Internet to

communicate, I review many of the documents distributed by

members of the National Federation of the Blind through this

electronic medium. Recently, Internet communications from

Jim Rebman and Christian Harris asked for help in finding

ways for blind people to study mathematics. As you would

expect, the response of Federation members was immediate and

positive. Not everybody will want to master the arcana of

advanced mathematics. However, some will. Of course, there

are many other topics which we in the Federation might

explore. If you want to know something, ask. Maybe we know

the answer. If we do, we'll make it available. If we don't,

we'll try to find out. Here are some examples of recent

questions and responses from the Internet.
Date:     Mon, 9 Sep 1996

From:     Jim Rebman

To:       Multiple recipients of list

Subject:  Introduction
Greetings list members:
     My name is Jim Rebman, and I'm sure many of you know

me, but some may not, so I'll give a little background.
     I lost my sight almost seven years ago as a result of

diabetic retinopathy, and just prior to that my kidneys

failed. In 1993 I received a kidney-pancreas transplant and

am no longer a diabetic.
     My formal training was in electrical engineering,and

from 1980 to 1984 I was a research assistant/engineer at the

Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory, where I

developed several microprocessor-based instruments and

controllers for a 12OKv 100 amp DC power system, as well as

several different 12-pulse high-current rectifiers and a

multi-pulse cycloconverter that was used to vary the line

frequency on the output of a 960 MVA motor/generator set.

Big volts, big amps, and an occasional big boom (grin).

Since that time I have been working almost exclusively with

computers on everything from compiler design/porting, to

application-development, to networks and MIS systems. I am

planning on going back to school to finish my bachelor's

degree and eventually to get my Ph.D. in computer science.

One of my big concerns at this point is how I am going to

handle the math--I really must learn it all over again from

intermediate algebra through at least four semesters of

calculus. Any tips on how to approach this would be much

     Under the heading of miscellaneous: I live just outside

of Boulder, Colorado; love outdoor activities like hiking,

rock climbing, and backpacking; am a board member of the

Boulder County chapter; and am also a graduate of the

Colorado Center (1995).
     I look forward to participating in the discussions and

especially to helping students with the tools, techniques,

and support they need to venture into the world of science

and engineering as blind people. Of course we can be

scientists and engineers--just look around.
                               Jim Rebman
Date:     Tue, 10 Sep 1996

From:     Mike Freeman

To:       Multiple recipients of list

Subject:  Help: teaching mathematics to visually impaired

          individuals (forwarded)

start of forwarded message:

From:          Christian Harris chrish@mercury.cs.albany-edu

Newsgroups:    misc.handicap

Subject:       Help: teaching mathematics to visually

               impaired individuals

Date:          07 Sep 1996

     I hope that this group is an appropriate place to ask

this question. I am a Teaching Assistant for a course called

Discrete Mathematics, which is sort of "mathematics for

computer science majors." The subject matter is entirely

mathematical; we don't do any programming in the course. The

work is all pencil-and-paper, theorem/proof work. It is

similar to first-semester calculus in the amount of work

that is assigned over the semester, and the subject is very

heavy on notation--the lecture consists of about 80 percent

board-work. Thus it is highly visual.
     I have a person in my class who is blind. I would like

to know if there are any people out there who have taught

visually impaired people highly symbolic, traditionally

visual subjects like mathematics and what methods you

employed to convey what was on the board. Also, if there are

any visually impaired persons out there who have taken

mathematics or computer science courses, I would really

appreciate hearing about what methods work the best and your

perspective about this subject.
     I have absolute confidence in my student's ability to

comprehend the material--just in talking to him after the

class, I got the impression that he is brighter than the

average student, highly enthusiastic, and very proactive

about getting help. I'm just worried about communicating the

material to him in a way that he can conceptualize. Also I

have to strike a balance with the rest of the class--I don't

want to be reading formulas off the board like: "OK, what I

wrote is open-paren, open-paren, open-paren, negation

symbol, x, close paren, . . ." because that will severely

limit the amount of stuff that can be covered and hence harm

the other students.
     I'm a bit out of my depth with this situation, I think.

I don't know the first thing about how to teach visually

impaired people. My rough plan is just to conduct the class

in the way that I would normally do and try to describe

what's on the board well enough to get the message across to

my student. But that probably won't help him do the

homework, or will it? Other than trying hard to be

considerate, nice, and communicative about the course, I

don't know what else to do. Could anyone help me out?


                                         Christian S. Harris

                                          Graduate Assistant


                              Department of Computer Science

                                  University at Albany, SUNY
           ------- end of forwarded message-------
Date:     Tue, 10 Sep 1996

From:     Mike Freeman mikef@pacifier-com

To:       Multiple recipients of list

     Good afternoon, Christian. I am responding to your post

to "misc.handicap" requesting help teaching mathematics to a

blind student. I have taken the liberty of forwarding your

post to the E-mail list of the Science and Engineering

Division of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). The

NFB is the largest organization of the blind in this

country, and there are quite a number of NFB members

(including me) who have studied higher mathematics and the

natural sciences and/or computer science and who can help

you. Indeed the inventor of the current Braille mathematics

code used throughout most of the world, Dr. Abraham Nemeth,

is an NFB member and reads the NFBSE mailing list; I suspect

he will have something to say on the subject.
     I hold a B.A. from Reed College, Portland, Oregon, in

physics and an M.S. in physics from New Mexico State

University and have taken numerous computer science courses.

I took all the usual higher math courses so can give you

some ideas.
     First a question: does your student read Braille? If

so, is his/her math text in Braille (if you're working from

handouts, are these available in Braille)? While not

absolutely essential, use of Brailled math texts and notes

is highly desirable in that the student has the same

material in front of him/her as your sighted students are

privileged to have and she or he can peruse the material and

ponder it at his or her own pace. (I once took a topology

course from taped books alone; and, while I made it through

the course, it was tough! Physics texts, on the other hand,

were no trouble for me on tape.)
     As for a lecture style advantageous to the blind

student, I think you can follow a middle ground between the

literal "open paren, open paren, open paren . . ." style and

saying nothing about the equations. Often, especially in

fields such as set theory, Boolean algebra, math logic,

number theory, and the like, you can just read the equations

as you write them in the same manner you would speak them to

a colleague while engaging in a discussion while walking

across the campus. In some instances you will have to be

precise, but this is not as hard as it sounds. Proofs in,

say, linear algebra often go quite well aloud, especially if

the student has some familiarity with the material. Let the

student be your guide: ask him or her after class if things

were clear or not. It is, in the end, his or her

responsibility to see that she or he learns the material.
     Incidentally, I think you'll find that, if you just

relax and start talking the equations as you write them, you

won't be wasting much time, and your sighted students will

also find your presentations much clearer. I once took an

electricity and magnetism course from a very articulate

professor (the only person I've ever known who could just

read aloud any electronic diagram you put in front of him

off-the-cuff). I was late for class one day by five minutes

or so. According to fellow students, his presentation became

one-hundred-percent clearer the moment I walked in the door.
     In making certain concepts conveyed by diagrams come

across clearly, it is often helpful to use a raised-line

drawing kit (in which thin sheets of plastic are stretched

taut on a rubberized board and a ballpoint pen without ink

is rubbed along the plastic, stretching it to make raised

lines). In multivariate analysis, I once saw a wonderful

wooden model showing saddle-points and the like. Let your

imagination (and that of the student) be your guide. I got

quite good at doing all sorts of proofs in my head, and the

chief problem was getting someone who could write them on

the board for me fast enough from my dictation!
     Dr. Nemeth has invented a way of speaking mathematics

precisely and quickly. I do not think it is always

necessary, but it really works. You might wish to correspond

with him directly on this subject. His Internet address is:
     Good luck and feel free to ask as many questions as you



                                                Mike Freeman

                                Amateur Radio Calsign: K7UIJ

Date:     Wed, 11 Sep 1996

From:     John Miller

To:       Multiple recipients of list

Subject:  Teaching math to blind students
                                          September 11, 1996
Christian S. Harris

Graduate Assistant


Department of Computer Science

University at Albany, SUNY
Dear Chris,

     My name is John Miller. I am the president of the

Science and Engineering Division of the National Federation

of the Blind. I received a posting of your message to

misc.handicap dated September 10. As you have no doubt found

from prior correspondence from the Science and Engineering

Division of the National Federation of the Blind, the

division is full of ideas on how to make learning math a

snap for blind folks. I will continue to forward the

discussion about teaching math to you as it develops on the list. I strongly encourage your student to

contact me and the members of the science division. The

brightest people and the ways they do math are right here.

The basic question of what alternative techniques will work

best for your student, your student will have to decide for

himself class after class and project after project on the

job. What has been written down from people's experiences,

of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. There is nothing

earth-shattering about the advice and experiences of

division members, but in the big picture I think they will

     I grew up totally blind since age three. Math has

always been my favorite subject. That's why I am doing

algorithm design and fixed-point implementation of signal

processing speech compression algorithms at QUALCOMM. I

received my B.S. and M.S. from Stanford University in

electrical engineering and have been taking graduate courses

at the University of California at San Diego ever since to

stay on the cutting edge. The discrete mathematics course

you are teaching sounds quite interesting because it has

some useful applications to what I am doing these days. I

have been attending similar courses specific to signal

processing at UCSD over the past year.
     Here are some personal experiences that have given me

the most from class participation. Braille helps. If your

student knows Braille and needs help getting handouts or

portions of a book into Braille, have him give me a call.

Places can do it with just a few weeks delay, although more

time reduces the cost and effort considerably. Preparation

helps. Usually the first day of class I make an announcement

requesting a copy of another student's notes. Usually I shop

around and keep several people's notes until I find one that

gets the details I think are important. That way the details

for rote memory I pick up later and only worry about those

that are pertinent to the discussion at hand.
     To get anything out of a lecture, I need a solid

context. I want to know down pat the postulates, the symbol

and graphing conventions, the basic framework ahead of time.

The best way I learn is to read the relevant material ahead

of time. Homework can be a pitfall. The trick is getting the

solutions in print. Sometimes I would just read my Braille

solutions to a grader line for line. No filling in with

"what I meant was." Today I would write solutions in print

or use Latex to laser print my solutions whenever possible.

I have found reviewing my professor's written comments on my

written solutions a useful learning tool. What's more, in

print is the way all work needs to be done on the job, so

sorting this out up front is a big help.
     These are the things I ask my professors to do to help

me out in the course: Tell me what in the syllabus will be

covered next lecture. Braille books are usually several

volumes. I bring the right one with me to class. If it is

possible to have raised-line drawings of graphs being used

in the course ahead of time, this is helpful too. Then the

only additional framework I need is "I'm now drawing figure

8.5 from the text." Speak the key equations as you go and

describe graphs as you draw them. The weight of

responsibility is on your student to ask when he is

confused. There seem to be two kinds of questions about

notation. "You lost me when you substituted the second

expression into the first," which means backtrack and

summarize a bit; and "read the right hand side of the

expression again please," which isn't a request to

resummarize the lecture. The error most professors make is

stopping to summarize here and resenting the interruption,

when they never said "the right hand side of the expression"

in the first place. Giving specific answers to specific

questions helps the flow of the lecture quite nicely.

Describe a graphic such as "this is a sampled decaying

exponential" as you sketch it.
     I have never found that my questions slowed the flow of

information in a class. As it turns out, on the heels of my

question always comes a related question from another

student. I sit in the front of the class. When the professor

loses the class, my question is usually the one that brings

the class back to where the professor is going.
     My learning style is my own. Your student may learn

completely differently. Use your own teaching style, the

tips that fit naturally with it, and be guided by the

requests of your student. I do believe that a good framework

will help your student learn the most from your class. I

look forward to hearing from both of you and wish you the

best with the course. You can reach me at E-mail:

                                      John Miller, President

                            Science and Engineering Division

                     of the National Federation of the Blind
Date:     Tue, 10 Sep 1996

From:     Dave Schleppenbach

To:       Multiple recipients of list

Subject:  Re: Help: teaching mathematics to visually

               impaired individuals (fwd)
Dear Chris,

     The problem you are facing of teaching mathematics to

blind people is not a new one, and fortunately some terrific

advances have been made recently in the field. First of all,

let me recommend that you e-mail Dr. Nemeth, as others have

suggested, and ask his opinion.
     Second, I have written a paper, "Teaching Science to

the Visually Impaired," which deals with the topics of math

and science education for the blind. This, together with

other information on our home page, the VISIONS Lab home

page, may prove useful to you. The address is
     Third, we have developed custom software specifically

for teaching math to the blind. Specifically, we have

written a program that converts print equations into

Braille, which is available on our Web page. Version 2.0 of

our program, which we have recently finished, includes

support for Nemeth Braille output as well as MathSpeak

output, which is the spoken form of mathematics also

invented by Dr. Nemeth. This should be of great use to you

in teaching your student.
     Finally, let me mention that Dr. Mike Kress and Dr. Al

Blank have developed an AudioTactile beginning Calculus

course, which uses sound and tactile graphics to teach

calculus. This, along with some of our work in tactile

images, may be another route for learning for your student.
     Feel free to e-mail or call me if you have any


                                          Dave Schleppenbach

                                        VISIONS LAB director

     Deane Blazie, a member of the National Federation of

the Blind and president of Blazie Engineering, also

responded with additional information as follows.
Date:     Wed, 11 Sep 1996

From:     Deane Blazie

To:       Multiple recipients of list

Subject:  Re: Help teaching mathematics to visually impaired

               individuals (fwd)
     There is also a graphing calculator program called

Graphit that operates much like the graphing calculators you

see at stores. However, it is able to emboss the graphs of

up to ten equations on a Braille embosser. It can also

display in some fashion the information in an audio format.

This audio output is good for single equations.
     Graphit runs on any of the Blazie Engineering note

takers like the Braille 'n Speak. There is also a PC version

of the program. It works with most Braille embossers that

have a graphics mode.

                                                Deane Blazie

[PHOTO: The picture is of a woman in park ranger uniform

holding a peregrine falcon. CAPTION: Lynda Boose]
                 How I Became a Park Ranger

                       by Lynda Boose
     From the Editor: Not long ago I came upon a Talking

Book titled A Superior Death. The author was Nevada Barr.

The mystery was fun, and the author's ability to evoke the

scene and the various characters was certainly above

average. But the most memorable thing about the plot was the

casual appearance of Sandra, a blind secretary in the Park

Service office. She was efficient, funny, and knowledgeable

about people and the workings of the programs she carried

out. The techniques she used were accurately described, but

no particular fuss was made about her competence or her

blindness. It struck me at the time that this author had

observed a good blind secretary at some time and brought her

to life in these pages. Then one day Lorraine Rovig,

Director of the Job Opportunities for the Blind Program,

sent me a copy of a letter she had received from Lynda

Boose. Miss Rovig had learned of Mrs. Boose's work as a park

ranger and had asked her to write describing her duties and

the ways she had found to carry them out.
     As I read the letter, I realized that here must be the

inspiration for the character in Nevada Barr's book. I

called Mrs. Boose and asked her if she had ever met Ms.

Barr. She confirmed my guess. For two years Nevada Barr had

worked on Isle Royale, where Mrs. Boose worked. They lived

at opposite ends of the island, but they talked often on the

radio and telephone. Mrs. Boose assured me that, although

Barr had drawn on her observations of Mrs. Boose for the

character, there was very little resemblance between herself

and Sandra. Here then is a matter-of-fact description of how

one blind park ranger does her job:
     Before I started working as a park ranger, I was a

teacher of severely handicapped children in California. Then

I met my future husband, and my life changed drastically.

When I met my husband, he was working for Isle Royale

National Park, which is located in the middle of Lake

Superior, seventy miles from Houghton, Michigan. The Town of

Houghton is headquarters for the park. Some park employees

live in Houghton year-round, and others live in Houghton six

months and are on the island for six months. For the past

ten years my husband and I were in the latter category.
     So how did I go from teacher to park ranger? I was in

the right place at the right time. I did not work my first

summer on the island, but the next summer I heard that the

park was looking for a part-time dispatcher. I felt I could

do the job and went and talked to the chief ranger. We

discussed dispatcher duties and talked about how I could do

them. The rest is history. I was hired part-time, which was

two days a week. The next year the permanent dispatcher

left, and I got his job.
     My duties were to monitor and respond to park radio

traffic, monitor the marine radio and respond to any calls

to the park service from boaters, put up the flag, take mail

out to the mail boat, which came about three times a week.

This boat carried passengers around the island. I also

answered the phones and took messages. If there was a

medical emergency, I assisted the park EMT's by relaying

messages and calling doctors. This was the most stressful

part of the job. I kept track of lost-and-found items. I

also kept track of case incident numbers and issued them to

the rangers when they needed them.
     To do my job I had the following equipment: a computer

with voice output; a light sensor, which I used for the

phones; a tape recorder; and a Braille writer. I also had an

Optacon, which I used quite a bit to fill in forms before I

had computerized templates.
     One of the biggest challenges was organizing the lost-

and-found. Each item had to be numbered, so I made a

database on the computer, which included everything that

appeared on the actual lost form. People would call me on

park radio, I would give them a lost/found number, and they

would give me most of the information I needed for the

computer. Then I would send them an envelope with both

Braille and print case numbers on it. I had them put the

completed form into the envelope and attach it to the item.

This way I could handle the lost-and-found items without

much assistance from a sighted person. I made up a phone-

message form on the computer and filled it in whenever I

took a phone message for someone. I labeled all the

mailboxes in Braille so that I could put the messages in the

right mail boxes.
     My husband and I now live in Houghton year round, and I

work in the Houghton Visitors' Center. Last summer was my

first summer in Houghton, and there were lots of new things

to learn: operating a cash register, taking Ranger III

reservations, and answering visitor questions and requests.

The Ranger III is the park service boat, which takes

passengers to the island. The reservation program is

computerized, so it didn't take too long to learn how to use

     I now have a scanner and a Braille printer and find

them both very useful. I am working on getting a talking

cash register, which will make me more independent. Right

now visitors have to help a lot when I am operating the cash

register. They don't seem to mind doing this. I just tell

them what I need for them to do, and they do it.
     I have been working for the park for ten years now and

really enjoy it. I like new challenges and learning new

things. I like figuring out how to do things as

independently and simply as possible. I'm glad I was in the

right place at the right time and that I took advantage of

the opportunity.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Serena Cucco]

                     by Carol Castellano
     From the Editor: Beginnings and Blueprints is the title

of the latest Kernel Book in our series of paperbacks about

blindness. The following delightful little piece appears in

the book. It begins with Dr. Jernigan's introduction. Here

it is:
     Carol Castellano and her husband Bill are leaders in

the National Federation of the Blind's organization for

parents of blind children. They live in New Jersey with

their children Serena and John. Serena is blind and John is

sighted. For both of these children the future is filled

with exhilarating possibilities. With sparkle, pride, and

belief Carol shares some of them with us. Here is what she

has to say:
     It took my daughter Serena a long time to decide just

what she wanted to be when she grew up. Whereas my son was

only four when he decided that he would be a dinosaur

scientist, it wasn't until she was seven that Serena

realized that her destiny in life was to be a folk singer.

She happily played the chords to her favorite song, "Michael

Row the Boat Ashore," on my guitar.
     Then came the Presidential campaign of 1992. Serena was

eight. She sat rapt before the television listening intently

to the speeches of both parties. After the summer's two

national conventions, she realized that it wasn't a folk

singer that she wanted to be after all . . . it was a

folksinging Senator. By late fall, having heard all three

Presidential debates, Serena was going to be President.
     Her barrage of questions about how she could learn to

be President and conversations about what politicians do

kept up for so long that my husband and I were convinced she

really might go into politics when she was older.
     In the late spring of this year, Serena went out with

her father to pick early snow peas from the garden. Coming

inside with her basket of peas, she told me she was very

interested in gardening. "That's wonderful," I replied.

"You'll be a big help to Daddy."
     Overnight Serena's interest must really have taken

root, because the next day she asked me if I thought the

gardens at the White House were too big for the President to

tend, since the President is such a busy person. "Yes," I

replied. "I'm sure there's a staff of people who take care

of the White House gardens." "Well then, I won't be a

gardening President," she told me. "I'll just be a

     The desire to be a gardener was still but a tender

shoot when Serena took a piano lesson--just a few weeks

after picking those peas--and realized it was a pianist she

wanted to be!
     Serena is at such a wonderful stage of life! Interested

in everything, trying everything out, she sees the world as

her plum, ripe for the picking. She believes in herself, as

we believe in her. And since what people believe largely

determines what they do, it is critically important for

parents of blind children (and other adults in the child's

life) to have positive beliefs about blindness and what

blind people can do.
     If we are told (in a journal article or by a teacher of

the blind, say) that blind children usually do not or cannot

learn how to do a certain task and if we come to believe

this, chances are we will not give our child the experience

or opportunity anyone would need in order to do this task.

And chances are the child won't learn to do it.
     Imagine, though, if we--and our blind children--were

never told that blind people couldn't accomplish a certain

thing. Imagine what the results might be if everyone

believed that blind people could do anything they wanted to!

Well, I believe this--and attending NFB National Conventions

has solidified this belief for me. It is this belief which

guides the way I bring up my daughter.
     My husband and I know personally or have heard speak a

blind high school teacher, a college professor, a

mathematician, a scientist, a car body mechanic, an

industrial arts teacher, a Foreign Service officer, an

engineer, a high-performance engine builder, and a man who

has sailed solo in races from San Francisco to Hawaii. This

makes it possible for us to glory in the exhilarating

feeling of watching a child look toward the future and see

only possibilities.

          Planned giving takes place when a contributor

     decides to leave a substantial gift to charity. It

     means planning as you would for any substantial

     purchase--a house, college tuition, or a car. The

     most common forms of planned giving are wills and

     life insurance policies. There are also several

     planned giving options through which you can

     simultaneously give a substantial contribution to

     the National Federation of the Blind, obtain a tax

     deduction, and receive lifetime income now or in

     the future. For more information write or call the

     National Federation of the Blind, Special Gifts,

     1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-

     4998, (410) 659-9314, fax (410) 685-5653.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Curtis Chong]
              From the Electronic Mail Basket:

                   Teaching Braille Online

                       by Curtis Chong
     From the Editor: A couple of months ago now, Curtis

Chong, President of the National Federation of the Blind in

Computer Science, sent me an exchange of comments--can one

refer to such exchanges as letters when they were never

intended to appear on paper? I found the information

interesting and, on the whole, reassuring. It is clear that

Federationists are patrolling the Internet and that people

of good will from various places are working to increase the

number of people who know and like Braille. It is also

comforting to see a constructive dialog begin among folks

who started a conversation in distrust and unhappiness. Here

is the exchange that was first printed in the Winter, 1996,

edition of Computer Science Update, the publication of the

NFB's computer science division:
     On December 12, 1996, an announcement was sent out over

the Internet about a new on-line Braille course. The

announcement was made jointly by the School of Education at

the North Carolina Central University (Durham, North

Carolina), the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, and

the Shodor Education Foundation, Inc. In a nutshell the

announcement promoted something called "BRL: Braille through

Remote Learning," a program funded in part by the U.S.

Department of Education. Here is part of the announcement:
          This program provides teachers, parents,

     social workers, and current/future Braille

     transcribers with a series of three integrated,

     online courses in Braille and Braille

     transcribing. The program is designed to offer the

     Braille student the RIGHT INSTRUCTION (almost all

     aspects of Braille) at the RIGHT TIME (self-paced)

     in the RIGHT PLACE (home or workplace). By

     combining electronic technologies, quality

     materials, and expert instructors, the program has

     as its goal the provision of a complete Braille

     instructional program to all types of consumers

     nationwide who have an interest in some or all

     aspects of Braille codes.
     Blind people who read the announcement took exception

to the course requirement for a graphical web browser. They

expressed the opinion that this requirement would render the

course inaccessible to the blind. I understand that Bob

Gotwals, the contact person for the course, received many

impassioned notes by electronic mail on this subject. Here

is an example of one note, which was posted to the EASI

mailing list:
From Jim Rebman [an active member of the NFB of Colorado]:
     I would like to point out that the technical

requirements and course materials, as you describe them,

preclude blind people who depend on speech synthesis and

screen reader technology from participating in this course.

The requirement for a graphical browser and the use of Java

scripts and graphical images (which I assume are not

described) are all integral, yet inaccessible parts of your

     As you are probably aware, blind people can be parents,

teachers, social workers, and Braille transcriptionists. By

making your course materials inaccessible, you are

effectively discriminating against the blind population. I

am certain that this was not intentional but nonetheless,

that is the result and, as somebody who frequents this list,

I would think you would be more aware of these issues. I

would also like to remind you that there are laws that

protect disabled people from such things.

                               Jim Rebman
P.S. Do you plan to do anything about this situation?
     I myself wrote to Bob Gotwals in my capacity as

President of the NFB in Computer Science, asking for

clarification. Here is what I said:
December 17, 1996
Mr. Bob Gotwals

The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.

Durham, North Carolina
Dear Mr. Gotwals:

     My name is Curtis Chong, and I am the president of the

National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science

(NFBCS). This organization of blind computer professionals

and lay persons works hard to ensure that blind people have

equal access to computer systems and applications.
     I read with interest your December 17 announcement

about the Braille-Through-Remote-Learning program. Your

announcement says in part:
          This program provides teachers, parents,

     social workers, and current/future Braille

     transcribers with a series of three integrated,

     online courses in Braille and Braille

     transcribing...the program has as its goal the

     provision of a complete Braille instructional

     program to all types of consumers nationwide who

     have an interest in some or all aspects of Braille

     In the section which discusses the technical

capabilities program participants must have, you mention

that a graphical web browser is required. Graphical web

browsers imply that some, if not all, of the information

that will be presented to the student is non-textual--that

is, purely visual. This leads me to ask if your program is

intended for persons who happen to be blind or visually

impaired? The requirement for a graphical web browser

implies that it is not. As I am sure you are well aware, it

is not uncommon for blind people to be social workers,

parents, teachers, and Braille transcribers. If, as stated

in your announcement, the program is intended to provide

Braille instruction to "all types of consumers nationwide,"

how will you make it possible for blind people to

participate in it on an equal basis with the sighted? I

would appreciate some clarification from you on this point.
                                            Yours sincerely,

                                                Curtis Chong


                            National Federation of the Blind

                                         in Computer Science
     Mr. Gotwals responded to me and to many others as

December 18, 1996

From: Bob Gotwals gotwals@SHODOR.ORG

Subject: Interest in On-line Braille Course

To: Multiple recipients of list EASI EASI@SJUVM.STJOHNS.EDU
     We are very aware of the fact that the current design

of the Braille online folks makes it difficult for blind

individuals to participate easily. This is a three-year

program. . . . Years one and two are concerned with

developing and pilot testing the curriculum and

experimenting with the use of current and emerging

technologies to try to think of new ways of presenting

Braille education. If you read the grant proposal

(, younotice that we intend, once the courses are

pilot-tested, to ensure that all of the materials are 100

percent accessible. We had asked the granting agency for

funding to do this earlier, but this portion of the request

was not funded. What was funded was the money to develop the

materials and to investigate the use of advanced

technologies, such as JAVA and VRML, in the teaching of

     What we are counting on is that the improvements in Web

browsers for blind folks by others who are being funded by

the Federal government (and other agencies) will make our

additional task of ensuring accessibility that much easier.

Yes, there are a number of things that we can do early on,

such as make liberal and clever use of ALT tags for images.

We're not sure yet how we're going to handle the heavy use

that we make of screen snapshots, but we're working on it.

We think we'll be able to go a long way towards 100 percent

accessibility from the early stages.
     What are our options? If there is the demand that the

course be 100 percent accessible from Day One, our option

might be: we can't do that at this stage of the game, either

for the amount of money awarded us by the granting agency

and/or because of technical limitations. In other words, we

don't even try; give the money back. If folks are willing to

give us the time we need to develop the course, work on the

technological advancements, get bugs out, and wait/work with

others who are looking to improve browsers, then perhaps

everyone wins.
     I've worked in the VI field as a Braillist/teacher for

almost thirty-five years. My master's degree is in education

of the hearing-impaired from the National Technical

Institute for the Deaf. I taught at Gallaudet and am fluent

in sign language. I am well aware of all the issues

concerning accessibility, and we thought a lot about this

issue early on (that is why we asked for the additional

funding to make it happen!).
     This Braille education program is, by the way, part of

a larger VI master's degree program that is being developed

at North Carolina Central University. The idea is to make a

large part of that program accessible over the Net, and the

Braille course is the first test of that concept. We sure

would like a chance to make it work....again, if there is a

demand that the effort be made to ensure 100 percent

accessibility in the experimental phase, we can pretty much

ensure that the experiment will fail.
     Tell us what to do. The Foundation that I work for is a

group of computational scientists and educators--we do

chemistry and physics on high-performance computers. We want

to do this work because we think it's important, because we

think we have something to offer, and because we care deeply

about the community. Our original budget proposal was half

of what we were awarded--the U.S. Department of Education

felt so strongly that this work was important that they

asked us to look at new technologies as well as design the

series of courses. As computational scientists we think we

can take some of the techniques that we use on a daily basis

to do science to the problem of helping folks understand

Braille better. Hopefully, we'll have a chance to figure

that out, then deal with the problems of accessibility.
     Looking forward to a reasoned and reasonable discussion

of these issues.
     I wrote back to Mr. Gotwals, and he responded to me

fairly quickly. He chose to intersperse his responses within

the original text of my letter, which is a common practice

these days when communicating by electronic mail. Here is my

letter with his responses, which appear in italics:
December 19, 1996

From: Bob Gotwals


Subject: Braille Online
Mr. Chong,

     Thank you for your very kind and supportive note. Some

replies are imbedded in your note. I've taken the liberty of

copying the EASI group on this note.
December 18, 1996
Mr. Bob Gotwals

The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.

Durham, North Carolina
Dear Mr. Gotwals:

     I have received your post to the EASI mailing list

dated December 18, 1996; and I thank you for your candor on

this subject. You acknowledge in a straightforward and no-

nonsense manner that the current design of the Braille-

Online program makes it difficult for blind people to

benefit from the course material. I wish that you had made

this clear in your original announcement so as to mitigate

some of the criticisms you have doubtless received.
     We couldn't agree more and have modified our online

announcement to so reflect this. Future mailings will

absolutely include the appropriate statement. What a

wonderful and useful suggestion. In hindsight this one

should have been a no-brainer. We consider ourselves to be

intelligent folks, but common sense doesn't always prevail!
     Regardless of whether or not Braille Online will be

useful to blind computer users, the fact remains that the

blind community will be better served if more people become

proficient in reading and writing Braille. We, the blind,

need teachers of blind children who believe in Braille and

who are competent, both in its use and in its teaching. We

need more skilled Braille transcribers in order to increase

the number of Braille books that we can read. Above all, we

need more people who believe in the value of Braille so that

all blind children will be schooled in this vital tool of

literacy. We cannot know today whether any on-line method of

teaching Braille (such as Braille Online) will help to

achieve these goals, but this should not stop people from

trying to develop new and innovative ways of teaching

     As I may have mentioned, my foundation is not in the

business of working for or with the blind or deaf

communities. We're doing this work because of my personal

interest in Braille and sign language. I've been doing

Braille since I was seven, and it's been a love affair that

has gone on now for thirty-five years. The opportunity to

try to incorporate the work I do as a scientist and

technologist with my first academic love was just too good

to be true. I'm disappointed that we weren't more careful

about the wording, especially regarding accessibility. If

there is a Braille fan club, I'm pushing to be at the front

of the line!
     I am not personally convinced that blind people can

learn Braille using audio output alone or, for that matter,

any form of on-line, computerized instruction. Braille is,

after all, a tactual, hands-on means of reading and writing.

Without hard copy Braille material or a refreshable Braille

display (which most of us can't afford to begin with), how

can we realistically expect someone who is blind to learn

     Concur. We're not sure where technology will take us,

so all we can do is keep our fingers crossed that the

technology will move us past the audio. We had proposed

trying to incorporate a refreshable Braille display

capability to the course (with the assumption that prices

will go down), but the funding agency didn't or couldn't

include that.
     Carrying this thinking a bit further, I hope that your

instructional program will enable sighted participants

actually to feel the Braille they are learning.

Instructional programs in which Braille is presented only

visually (e.g., printed dots on the screen or page) fail to

reinforce the notion that Braille is first and foremost

something handled by touch!
     Most of the folks locally here who helped us test the

intro course this past semester prepared their assignments

on Perkins Braillers. Most of them are current VI teachers,

so have lots of access to Braille materials in their school

(most of our guinea pigs were Governor Morehead faculty). In

short, I couldn't agree more. Even as a sighted reader, I

use my fingers.
     If I were to make some specific recommendations, they

would be as follows:

     1. I think it is important that your promotional

materials clarify that Braille Online is not now accessible

to the blind. You might even take this notion a step further

and clarify that the target audience for the program

consists of sighted people who will be teaching or producing



     2. I would not hold out much hope that web browsers

will make the graphical world more accessible to the blind.

Although web browsers can and should be made more compatible

with screen-reading systems used by the blind, accessibility

to the Worldwide Web is more readily achieved if web page

designers take the time and trouble to ensure that the

design of their web pages meets basic accessibility

guidelines too numerous to list here.
     We have some of those guidelines and will adhere to

them to the maximum extent possible. We'll also be depending

on the community to tell us when we fail. Within

technological feasibility, we'll fix it. I don't share your

feelings about web browsers, however. Perhaps I'm the

eternal technology optimist! After all, didn't Bill Gates

say (not too long ago either), "640K of RAM memory is all

anyone will ever need"?

     3. If you haven't considered doing it, provide a way

for course participants to deal with hard copy Braille.

Based upon what I have read so far, it appears that course

participants will be producing Braille with either a Perkins

Braille Writer or a slate and stylus. This is eminently

desirable. I wonder how you envision having them turn in

their Braille assignments?
     Folks who did hard copy Braille mailed them to me.

Worked fine. Depending on student load, we'll have local

teachers here help with grading and evaluation. I did have

some folks use a piece of software that emulates a Perkins

Brailler. They also had a chance to use a real Perkins

Brailler. They were impressed with the similarities in the

two. We'll continue to investigate that phenomenon.

     4. I think that some research needs to be conducted

specifically to determine how on-line computerized

instruction courses--specifically, courses to teach

Braille--can benefit people who are blind. My initial notion

is that no benefit can be truly realized unless the course

presents information both audibly (using synthesized speech)

and tactually (using a refreshable Braille display) at

strategic points. You may have a different concept in mind.

If so, I would like to discuss it.
     Would love to have that discussion. Again, the current

design depends heavily on photographs (screen snapshots) of

the monitor. On the monitor is the Perkins-emulator program

that I use, which uses a special Braille font. The only way

we can think of now to replace those snapshots is with large

audio files. Unless the recipient has a high speed line,

this may be problematic.
     I want to thank you for taking the time to discuss this

important issue with everyone. I hope that you will not feel

personally offended by some of the comments you may have

received. All of us want more blind people reading and

writing more Braille, and all of us want more and better

Braille instruction and transcription services to be

available to the blind community. Where we may differ is in

our respective approaches.
     I have to admit that the criticism has been difficult.

We should have foreseen it better, and I'm mad at myself for

that. At the same time, I've been a Braillist and a

professional sign interpreter for a long time. A significant

part of my life has been devoted to this work, so it has not

been easy. We're still excited about the work, however, and

are determined to do it right. I concur that we both want

more and better Braille instruction, and that is clearly the

goal. I'm not sure our approaches are that far apart....but

hopefully we've started down the path of making those

differences disappear.
                                            Yours sincerely,

                                                Curtis Chong


                            National Federation of the Blind

                                         in Computer Science
     Many thanks again for your thoughtful, insightful, and

instructive letter. Best wishes for a blessed and restful

holiday season. After perhaps a rocky start, I'm looking

forward to a long, professional (electronic) relationship

with you and with other EASI participants.
                                      Robert R. Gotwals, Jr.

                              Computational Science Educator

                       The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.



                                              (919) 286-1911

     So, there you have it. I don't know how good Braille

Remote Learning will turn out to be. I can't even say if it

will help to increase the number of people who will know

Braille well enough to be of help to us. What I do know is

that in its present form Braille Remote Learning is not

accessible to the blind--nor is it meant to be. Can blind

people benefit from Braille instruction received on-line

through the Internet? If the only means of receiving

information we have available to us is synthetic speech,

then I would say "No." If we have both synthetic speech and

refreshable Braille available to us and if different

information is communicated through each channel, then my

answer is, "Maybe."

[PHOTO/CAPTION: The paddlewheel steamer Natchez

PHOTO/CAPTION: New Orleans's French Market]
                Lionizing Around New Orleans:

          Good Food, Good Times, and All That Jazz

                      by Jerry Whittle
     The National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana is

pleased to announce a wonderful array of tours for this

year's national convention in the great City of New Orleans.

To millions of tourists each year the Crescent City is world

renowned for good food, good times, and good music. This

year's selection of tours reflects the diversity and charm

of the great American city at the mouth of the mighty

Mississippi. Federationists interested in these tours will

want to make reservations early. If you have not yet made

your room reservations for the convention, call the National

Center for the Blind and speak to Mr. Cobb. Our block of

rooms at the Hyatt is now full, but he can take your

registration information and make a reservation for you as

soon as we have worked out arrangements with other hotels.
     Even though the tours are fabulous and the Big Easy

beckons, the heart of the convention is reuniting with old

friends, making new ones, enjoying the hospitality of the

host affiliate, browsing through the expansive exhibit hall

to view the latest technology or purchase a new cane from

the NFB store, hearing wonderful and informative agenda

items, winning door prizes, and receiving inspiration at our

annual banquet. With all of these diversions, the days and

nights won't be long enough; however, one thing is certain--

the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana will be

working hard to help you have the most wonderful week of

your life. New Orleans is the place to be the first week of

July, 1997. Where else can you have so much fun this

     All tours will be pre-sold. Tour spaces are limited, so

book early. The deadline to book tours is May 15, 1997.

Tickets will be mailed to you after May 15, but prior to the

convention. To make tour reservations, include the following

information: name; address; city; state; zip; phone; number

of tickets, types (adults or children two to twelve), and

tour number for each tour. Send this information with your

check for the total amount due made payable to The Life of

the Cajun Tours, 4761 Hwy. 1, Raceland, Louisiana 70394, or

call (504) 537-3179. Please make your reservations as soon

as possible; space is limited on some tours. We must have

twenty-five or more people for each tour we sponsor. The

following is the complete list of tours:
                      Saturday, June 28

1. New Orleans Super City Tour. 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., $18

     adults, $9.50 children.

2. N.O. City Tour & River Cruise. 12:00 noon to 4:30 p.m.,

     $31 adults, $15.25 children.

3. River Road Plantations (two homes including meal). 9:00

     a.m. to 4:30 p.m., $54.50 adults, $35.50 children.

4. Oak Alley Plantation (no meal). 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.,

     $29 adults, $15 children.

5. Swamp Tour, Cajun Meal, Cemetery, City Tour of Thibodaux

     (working sugar cane plantation). 9:00 a.m. to 5:00

     p.m., $49 adults, $37 children.

6. Global Wildlife Center (with meal). 9:00 a.m. to 4:00

     p.m., $46 adults, $37 children.

7. Dinner Jazz Cruise & Transportation. 6:00 to 9:30 p.m.,

     $49.75 adults only (must be twenty-one or older).
                       Sunday, June 29

8. New Orleans Super City Tour. 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., $18

     adults, $9.50 children.

9. N.O. City Tour & River Cruise. 12:00 noon to 4:30 p.m.,

     $31 adults, $15.25 children.

10. River Road Plantations (two homes with meal). 9:00 a.m.

     to 4:00 p.m., $54.50 adults, $35.50 children.

11. Oak Alley Plantation (no meal). 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., $29

     adults, $15 children.

12. Swamp Tour, Cajun Meal, Cemetery, City Tour of Thibodaux

     (working sugar cane plantation). 9:00 a.m. to 5:00

     p.m., $49 adults, $37 children.

13. Global Wildlife Center (with meal). 9:00 a.m. to 4:00

     p.m., $46 adults, $37 children.
                      Thursday, July 3

14. New Orleans Super City Tour, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., $18

     adults, $9.50 children.

15. Oak Alley Plantation (no meal), 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., $29

     adults, $15 children.

16. Swamp Tour, Cajun Meal, 12:40 to 5:40 p.m., $44 adults,

     $33 children.

17. Global Wildlife Center (no meal), 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., $27

     adults, $25 children.

18. Dinner Jazz Cruise & Transportation, 6:00 to 9:30 p.m.,

     $49.75 adults only.

19. Pete Fountain Jazz Club (with 1 drink, twenty-one and

     older), 9:15 p.m. to 12:15 a.m., $33 adults only.

20. Night Life-Top of the Mart Lounge, Peter Fountain Jazz

     Club (with three drinks, twenty-one and older), 7:15

     p.m. to 12:15 a.m., $42 adults only.
                      Tour Descriptions
New Orleans Super City Tours, Tours 1, 8, & 14

     Travel through three centuries of history and romance

as you encounter "the city that care forgot." Absorb the

sights and sounds of the famous French Quarter and historic

Jackson Square. Your licensed guide presents the history,

landmarks, legends, and splendid architecture that made New

Orleans famous. Walk through one of our above-ground Cities

of the Dead (cemeteries) and marvel at stories of voodoo and

piracy on Bayou St. John. Enjoy a ride along Lake

Pontchartrain's shore before traveling through Mid-City en

route to Uptown New Orleans. Follow the clickety-clack of

the St. Charles Avenue streetcars past universities; Audubon

Park; stately mansions; and the world-famous, exclusive

Garden District. Then follow New Orleans into the twenty-

first Century as you pass under the shadows of towering

skyscrapers in the Central Business District (CBD). Cost:

$18 adults, $9.50 children. Includes bus transportation from

the Hyatt for the Super City Tour, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.,

Tour 1, Saturday, June 28; Tour 8, Sunday, June 29; and Tour

14, Thursday, July 3.
New Orleans City Tour and River Cruise, Tours 2 & 9

     This tour combines the steamboat Natchez Cruise (paddle

wheel) plus the Super City Tour. After your exciting

motorcoach tour through New Orleans, you'll have a few

minutes to rest or snack before boarding the historic

riverboat Natchez to the delightful tunes of the steam

calliope. Experience the sights and sounds of river life

that enchanted characters of history and literature like

Mark Twain's Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. View the ever-

changing skyline of the Crescent City from the sunny decks

and climate-controlled comfort of the majestic Steamer

Natchez. Cruise past the Chalmette Battlefield where the

legendary Jean LaFitte and his buccaneers joined forces with

Andrew Jackson to defend our city against the British in the

Battle of New Orleans. Cost: $31 adults, $15.25 children.

Includes bus pick-up at the Hyatt, City Tour, and Steamboat

Cruise, 12:00 noon to 4:30 p.m.; Tour 2, Saturday, June 28;

and Tour 9, Sunday, June 29.
River Road Plantations, Tours 3 & 10

     Travel back in time to Nottoway and Oak Alley,

Antebellum mansions nestled along the banks of the

Mississippi River. Leave the modern skyline of cosmopolitan

New Orleans behind as you enjoy the panoramic view of Lake

Pontchartrain and travel over the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

Your narrated motorcoach tour takes you past six Antebellum

plantation homes surrounded by massive oaks, sugar cane

fields, pecan groves, and Louisiana countryside. Walk

through two of these beautifully restored homes while

resident guides, many in period costumes, tell the history

of the homes and elegant lifestyles of wealthy plantation

families. Enjoy an authentic Cajun country lunch complete

with charming southern hospitality. Cost: $54.50 adults,

$35.50 children; includes bus transportation from the Hyatt,

tour of two homes, and meal. 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Tour 3,

Saturday, June 28; and Tour 10, Sunday, June 29.
Oak Alley Plantation, Tours 4, 11, & 15

     Feel the gentle breeze of southern hospitality on a

tour that takes you back to the glory of the Old South.

Experience a bygone era in one of the South's most beautiful

settings--Oak Alley Plantation, built in 1839. Marvel at the

unbelievable view of a quarter-mile-long alley of twenty-

eight magnificent oak trees, each over 250 years old. Along

the way view the majestic cypress trees in the swamps

bordering the Mississippi River. Travel past three other

plantation homes, legacies from the past grandeur of

historic River Road, from your luxury motorcoach. Cost: $29

adults, $15 children. Includes bus transportation from the

Hyatt and tour of plantation homes (no meal), 1:00 p.m. to

5:00 p.m.; Tour 4, Saturday, June 28; Tour 11, Sunday, June

29; and Tour 15, Thursday, July 3.
Swamp Tour, Cajun Buffet, City Tour of Thibodaux, Cemetery &

Working Sugar Cane Plantation, Tours 5 & 12

     Cajun tour guide will bring you to beautiful Bayou

Bouef where you will enjoy a leisurely boat ride into the

beauty and serenity of Louisiana's most picturesque regions.

You will see alligators, nutria, birds, moss-laden oak

trees, and much more. Those who dare can hold a live

alligator in their hands and pet the silky nutria. Following

the boat ride and history of the region, you will be treated

to a Cajun buffet, including gumbo, alligator, and other

wonderful dishes. You can visit the Trading Post with a

large selection of gifts and crafts. We travel to Thibodaux

for a city tour and walk through a cemetery known as the

"Cities of the Dead" and visit a working sugar cane

plantation, the store museum, and craft shop. The day will

be filled with the history, culture, and heritage of the

Cajuns. Cost: $49 adults, $37 children; includes bus

transportation from the Hyatt; Cajun tour guide; boat ride;

buffet; tours of Thibodaux, Cemetery, and sugar cane

plantation, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Tour 5, Saturday, June

28; Tour 12, Sunday, June 29.
Swamp Tour & Cajun Buffet, Tour 16

     This tour is like the previous one except that there is

no tour of a sugar cane plantation. Cost: $44, adults; $33

children; includes bus transportation from the Hyatt, Cajun

tour guide, boat ride, and buffet; 12:40 to 5:40 p.m.; Tour

16, Thursday, July 3.
Global Wildlife Center, Tours 6 & 13

     Ride across Lake Pontchartrain on the world's longest

bridge and take a guided wagon tour of a 900-acre home to

many rare, endangered, and extinct-in-the-wild animals from

all over the world. Custom-built covered wagons pulled by

tractors offer comfortable seating with no obstruction of

the scenic view. When the wagons stop, animals will approach

to be fed. Come eye to eye with a buffalo and feed a family

of giraffe. The group will enjoy a meal at a local

restaurant. Cost: $46 adults; $37 children. Includes bus

transportation from the Hyatt, wagon ride, and meal. 9:00

a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Tour 6, Saturday, June 28; Tour 13,

Sunday, June 29.
Global Wildlife Center, Tour 17

     This tour is like the previous one except that no meal

is included. Cost is $27 adults, $25 children; includes bus

transportation from the Hyatt and wagon ride. 1:00 p.m. to

5:00 p.m.; Tour 17, Thursday, July 3.
Dinner Jazz Cruise, Tours 7 & 18

     When night falls, we board a riverboat and cruise on a

jazz-filled adventure. The sounds of a dixieland jazz band

fill the air as diners enjoy a lavish creole meal. Cost:

$49.75 adults only (must be twenty-one or older); includes

bus transportation from the Hyatt, dinner, and jazz cruise.

6:00 to 9:30 p.m.; Tour 7, Saturday, June 28; Tour 18,

Thursday, July 3.
Pete Fountain's Jazz Club, Tour 19

     On this unique tour you'll experience New Orleans

nightlife as a native would. You'll see and hear one of the

great New Orleans jazz musicians, Pete Fountain. Enjoy one

complimentary drink while he performs. Cost: $33, adults

only; includes bus transportation from the Hyatt, Pete

Fountain's Club cover charge, and one drink; 9:15 p.m. to

12:15 a.m.; Tour 19, Thursday, July 3.
Nightlife--Top of the Mart Lounge--Pete Fountain's Jazz

Club, Tour 20

     From cool to red hot jazz and everywhere in between--on

this unique tour you'll experience New Orleans nightlife as

a native would. Your evening begins at the Top of the Mart,

where you'll relax with two complimentary drinks as you

enjoy the revolving cityscape. From there you're off to see

a New Orleans institution--Pete Fountain. Enjoy one

complimentary drink while he performs. Cost: $42, adults

only; includes bus transportation from the Hyatt to the Top

of the Mart and Pete Fountain's Club, and three drinks; 7:15

p.m. to 12:15 a.m.; Tour 20, Thursday July 3.
Y'all come.

                       The Metal Pole

                        by Homer Page
     From the Editor: The following story by Homer Page

first appeared in Beginnings and Blueprints, the latest in

our Kernel Book series. Here is the article, beginning with

Dr. Jernigan's introduction:
     Homer Page is a leader in the National Federation of

the Blind of Colorado. When he was six years old, he learned

a lesson from a metal pole, and he remembers it well to this

day. Here is how he tells it:
     I was born seven weeks before Pearl Harbor. As were so

many young men of his generation, my father was soon caught

up in the war. For a number of years during my early life he

was away from home in the army.
     My younger brother and I lived with our mother and

grandmother on our family farm. My mother and grandmother

were blind, as was I. They ran the farm while we waited and

prayed for my father to come home. In time he did return

safely. But during this time we were rather isolated.
     During these years I really didn't understand that I

was blind. I enjoyed enormously running in the open fields

that made up our farm. I fell off a table and broke my arm.

Another time I slipped in the water on the back porch, where

my mother was washing clothes. I fell out the back door and

broke my arm again. In each instance I hardly slowed down

while I wore a cast. Later, when I was nine, I broke my

collarbone playing tackle football at school, and still

later, when I was fifteen, I broke my arm again in a bicycle

     Sometimes my cousin, who was a few years older, would

come to visit. He would tell me about going to school. It

sounded exciting. I could hardly wait until I was old enough

to catch the school bus and go to school. I spent many of my

days playing school and dreaming of reading books.
     Finally the day came when I could start school. My

father was home by then. He and my mother took me to school.

No one mentioned that I was blind. When it was time to play

that first day, I joined the other children and went

     Children who are six years old run. They run without

purpose. They run in packs for the simple joy of running.

The children began to run. I joined them, and I too began to

     My next memory from this day long ago is still vivid. I

ran into the metal pole that braced the playground slide. In

a split second I was flat on my back. My nose had squarely

struck the pole. I was in a great deal of pain, and the

other children were going on without me. In that moment I

realized that I was blind.
     I knew that, if I lay there or if I cried, I could not

play with the other children. I got up to join my new

friends. They never commented, nor did I. I spent my

childhood and adolescence with many of those children. We

seldom talked about blindness. I just took part in whatever

activity presented itself.
     No pity or sentimentality was shown to me. When teams

were chosen to play softball, I was chosen last. But when

teams were chosen for math or social studies competitions, I

was chosen first. Those selections were fair, and neither I

nor anyone else questioned them. It meant nothing to me to

be selected last. What was important was that I played, that

I played hard, and that I looked for ways to make a positive

contribution to my team.
     In the decades since my encounter with the metal pole,

I have more than once found myself figuratively lying on the

ground. What I learned at six years of age, and have

relearned several times since, is that getting up is the

best option. The other option is to play it safe and not

really play.
     In 1981 I was elected to the Boulder, Colorado, City

Council. In 1986 I was chosen to be Deputy Mayor of the

city. In 1988 I was elected to the Boulder County Board of

Commissioners. During all but one of my years as a county

commissioner I was either Chairman or Vice Chairman of the

Board. However, things were not always easy.
     In 1980 I ran for the Colorado legislature. The race

was very close. Near the end of the campaign workers

representing my opponent began going door to door in the

district telling voters that, since I was blind, I could not

represent them, that I would only represent the interests of

the blind. I lost that election by 120 votes. That metal

pole had just blocked my path once more.
     I got up and started to run again. I found that I had

won the respect of my community. A year later I was elected

to the Boulder City Council. Four years later I ran for re-

election. As top vote getter in the election, I was in line

to be mayor, but once again my blindness became an issue. I

was not selected to be mayor. I was, however, chosen to be

deputy mayor. Once again, that metal pole had gotten in the

     In 1988 I ran for the Board of County Commissioners. I

unseated a popular incumbent. In 1991 I was unopposed. My

blindness had simply ceased to be an issue that could help a

political opponent.
     On September 1, 1995, I assumed the responsibility of

directing the National Federation of the Blind's training

center in Colorado. Students at the Colorado Center for the

Blind learn the alternative skills they need to live

independent and productive lives, and they learn the

attitudes that they need to accept and manage their

     As I work with Center students, there is a perspective

that I hope to be able to share with them. Perhaps I can

state it like this: In the lives of blind persons there are

occasional metal poles. Once it was believed that those

poles made life too dangerous or too difficult for us to be

able really to participate with sighted persons on terms of

equality, but now we know that this is simply not true.
     However, we also know that, when those poles appear in

our paths and flatten us, we must get back up and continue

to run without bitterness or self-pity. We must also improve

our travel skills through life so that we can avoid as many

of those poles as possible. We must be tough enough to play

without sentimentality and smart enough to know that in this

way life will shower us with abundance.

      Federationists, Fund-Raising, and Free Enterprise

                        by Marie Cobb
     From the Editor: Federationists who have enjoyed meals

in the dining room at the National Center for the Blind know

that Marie Cobb, who runs the kitchen from which all those

meals are served, is a wonderful cook and a gifted caterer.

In fact, she has many talents and is always adding something

new to her list of responsibilities. Here she describes the

latest work she is doing for the Federation:
     As many of you know, some of the National Federation of

the Blind's traditional sources of funding are becoming less

cost-effective each year. In order for us to meet this

challenge, we are constantly searching for new sources of

revenue. Last spring President Maurer signed the NFB on as a

distributor for the American Communications Network,

marketer for LCI International long-distance. This project

will succeed or fail in direct proportion to the number of

people who agree to participate in the program.
     There are about ten Federationists who own ACN

distributorships under the NFB, and we are all committed to

making this relationship between the NFB and ACN a lucrative

one. We believe that the combination of excellent service

and attractive rates will help to make our commitment a

reality. At the same time each of us is working to build a

profitable business for ourselves. The more successful we

are as individuals, the larger the residual income will be

for the NFB.
     We want to be certain that everyone understands to whom

the commission from his or her long-distance or any other

ACN account will be paid, so here is the agreement we ten

have with Mr. Maurer. The NFB's ACN representatives will

hold business opportunity meetings at Washington Seminars

and at National Conventions. We will seek customers and

offer those who are interested a chance to examine the

business plan. We will also have a booth in the exhibit hall

for the same purposes. Any person who wishes to become an

ACN customer during the Washington Seminar or at National

Convention will automatically be placed directly under the

Federation instead of the associate who acquires the

account. We, the associates, will be building our personal

businesses during this time by recruiting new associates to

work with us.
     Here is the way you can participate:

     1. Fill out a simple form to change your long-distance

carrier to LCI. There is no charge for the switch, and LCI

provides excellent service at a lower rate than many other

long- distance carriers. If for any reason you are

dissatisfied with the service after ninety days, you can go

back to your original carrier at no cost to you.

     2. Ask your friends and family to help the NFB by

switching their long-distance carrier to LCI as well.

     The National Federation of the Blind will receive three

to eight percent of every dollar spent on long-distance

calls each month on all of these direct accounts, and one

quarter of one percent to five percent of all accounts which

are generated for our personal businesses.
     Long-distance service is just the tip of the iceberg.

There is also cellular service through the most advantageous

carrier in each area, and pager service through Pagenet.

There will soon be voice paging as well. In the near future

we will also be able to offer cable access, local dial tone

service, Internet access, and utilities. The potential

income for the NFB is really exciting.
     The bottom line is that this costs you nothing and

indeed will save you money each month. It will also help to

fund the important work in which we are all engaged. So

please contact an ACN representative as soon as possible. If

you do not know an ACN representative or wish to explore

becoming one yourself, please contact me, Marie Cobb, at

(410) 659-9314 or (410) 644-6352. I have volunteered to take

calls which come into the National Office or my home and see

that those accounts go directly to the NFB. However, I am

also building a file of personal accounts on other


               Dialysis at National Convention

                        by Ed Bryant
     From the Editor: Ed Bryant is First Vice President of

the Diabetes Action Network, the diabetics division of the

National Federation of the Blind. Here is very important

information for anyone planning to attend the convention and

needing dialysis during that busy week:
     During this year's annual convention in New Orleans,

Louisiana (Sunday, June 29, through Saturday, July 5),

dialysis will be available. Those requiring dialysis must

have a transient patient packet and completed physician's

statement prior to treatment. Conventioneers should have

their unit contact the desired location in the New Orleans

area for instructions.
     Individuals will be responsible for and must pay prior

to each treatment the approximately $30 not covered by

Medicare plus any additional physician's fees.
     Dialysis centers should set up transient dialysis

locations at least three months in advance. This helps

assure a location for anyone wanting to dialyze. New Orleans

is a popular tourist destination, and in July the city is

very busy. Here are some dialysis locations:

 Saint Charles Dialysis, 3600 Prytania, Suite 83, New

     Orleans, Louisiana 70115; telephone: (504) 895-3992.

     About ten minutes by taxi from the convention hotel.
 Uptown Dialysis has two locations. A: Truro Hospital, on

     Foucher Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70115. Social

     Worker is Mary Wendt; contact her for information about

     either Uptown Dialysis facility. B: Uptown Dialysis,

     3434 Prytania Street, Room 200, New Orleans, Louisiana

     70115. Use the same phone, 504-897-7946, for both. Both

     locations are about ten minutes from the hotel.
 BMA New Orleans, 2000 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans,

     Louisiana 70112; telephone: (504) 581-6363. For further

     information contact Jennifer Wallace, administrator, at

     (504) 455-5535. About ten minutes from the hotel.
 DCI of New Orleans, 1400 Canal Street, New Orleans,

     Louisiana 70112; telephone: (504) 593-9895. Although

     DCI reports itself full now, they may well have a

     cancellation. About ten minutes from the hotel.
 Napoleon Dialysis, 2817 Napoleon Avenue, New Orleans,

     Louisiana 70115; telephone: (504) 891-8176. About

     fifteen minutes from the hotel.


     If scheduling assistance is needed, contact Diabetes

Action Network First Vice President Ed Bryant at (573)

875-8911. See you in New Orleans!

     This month's recipes come from members of the National

Federation of the Blind of Washington.
                         Pasta Salad

                        by Judy Croy
     John and Judy Croy are active members of the Spokane

County Chapter.

2 tablespoons diced green onion

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup chopped celery

1 cucumber, chopped

1 can black olives, sliced

1 8-ounce package mozzarella cheese, shredded

5 cups rotini (uncooked)

1 envelope dry Italian seasoning mix

1 8-ounce bottle of zesty Italian dressing
     Method: Cook rotini about twenty minutes according to

package directions; remove from heat and drain while still

firm. Combine all but last two salad ingredients and

sprinkle the envelope of dry Italian seasoning mix over the

salad. Add the bottle of zesty Italian dressing. Gently toss

the salad and marinate it at least two hours under

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Barbara Freeman]
                     Frosty the Snowman

                     by Barbara Freeman
     Coffee drinks of all kinds are popular in Washington

State. Here are several local favorites as prepared by

Barbara Freeman, whose husband Mike is President of the


2 cups iced coffee

5 tablespoons chocolate syrup

1 pint vanilla or coffee ice cream
     Method: Place all ingredients in a blender and blend

until smooth. Serve in tall glasses.

                   Chocolate Coffee Sauce

                     by Barbara Freeman

 pound sweet chocolate

1 ounce strong, hot coffee

2 ounces butter
     Method: Break chocolate into pieces and melt in the hot

coffee. Stir well. Let mixture cool. Then add butter, a

little at a time, beating until it is thoroughly blended in.

                          Caf‚ Vino

                     by Barbara Freeman

1 cup cold strong coffee

2 ounces tawny port or Muscatel wine

2 tablespoons sugar

 tablespoon grated orange peel

dash cinnamon
     Method: Whip all ingredients in blender at high speed

until foamy. Pour into chilled wine glasses. Serves two.

                   Spanish Rice de Freeman

                     by Barbara Freeman

1 medium onion

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons chili powder

3 tablespoons ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup rice, uncooked

1 pound lean ground beef or other meat

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

Grated cheese or cubed Velveeta

Small amount of oil
     Method: Put the rice on to cook according to package

directions. Chop the onion and garlic and cook in a small

amount of oil until soft. Crumble hamburger into pan and

brown. Add the spices while the meat cooks. Mix the warm

meat mixture with a can of tomato sauce and the cooked rice.

Top with cheese. Turn the heat off and cover the pan for a

few minutes so that the cheese has time to melt. Serve. This

recipe calls for quite a lot of spice. It is the cumin that

makes this recipe so good. You can leave out the chili

powder, but not the cumin. Cubed chicken can be used in

place of the hamburger. This dish is also good without meat.

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Alco Canfield]
                   Chocolate Zucchini Cake

                      by Alco Canfield
     Alco Canfield is a rehabilitation counselor from

Olympia, Washington. As a new, enthusiastic member, she

travels one-and-a-half hours to Vancouver to attend Clark

County Chapter meetings. She is looking forward to starting

a chapter in Olympia.

 cup butter

 cup vegetable oil

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

 cup sour milk

2 cups flour

4 tablespoons cocoa

 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

 teaspoon cinnamon

 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini

 to  cup chocolate chips
     Method: Cream sugar with butter and oil. Add remaining

wet ingredients while continuing to beat mixture. Stir

remaining dry ingredients together, and beat into sugar

mixture. Fold in zucchini and pour into greased and floured

13-by-9 pan. Top with chocolate chips. Bake in a 325-degree

oven for 40 to 45 minutes.

                    Green Chili Frittata

                     by Stephanie Yates
     Stephanie Yates is a new member from Seattle. She

attended her first National Convention in Anaheim. At our

state convention in October she was elected to the state

board of directors. She is also spearheading the acquisition

of NEWSLINE in Washington State.

 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

10 eggs, lightly beaten

 pound butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 cups small curd cottage cheese

1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1 to 2 4-ounce cans diced green chilies
     Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a shallow

9-by-13-inch baking dish. Mix flour and baking powder. Add

eggs and butter, blending well. Blend in remaining

ingredients. Place mixture in baking dish and bake 35 to 45

minutes or until set. Cut into squares and serve.

                   MONITOR MINIATURES  
 Technology Magazine on Cassette:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     Bitstream is a bi-monthly audio cassette magazine that

is focused at blind, visually impaired, print handicapped,

or other readers interested in accessible high technology.

While the primary focus of Bitstream is on personal

computers with speech or Braille output, other issues are

covered as well. These include access tools of all kinds.

Bitstream is a narrated magazine with live interviews,

reviews, and demonstrations. The six 90-minute issues cost

$22 per year for U.S. and Canadian subscribers while

overseas subscribers are charged $32, and the tapes are sent

by Air Mail.
     All subscriptions must be prepaid by check or credit

card. Unfortunately, we can no longer accept purchase

orders. Individuals interested in subscribing should contact

us at (800) 377-0774.
 Prepaid Calling Card Business Opportunity:

     Flowers Bates, a member of the NFB of Mississippi, has

asked us to carry the following announcement:

     Only $20 to get started. No inventory or costly

overhead needed. Earn commissions and hours of free calling

time. Call (601) 249-3622 for more details.
 Debt Analysis Available:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     Want to be debt-free and stop giving your hard-earned

money to the banks? Have your debts analyzed and receive a

debt elimination plan that will help you get rid of those

debts. For example, a $38,000 home mortgage at 10 percent

for thirty years will cost $333.48 per month for 360 months.

By adding $100 ($433.48) to the current note, you can pay

off the mortgage in thirteen years and three months. Call

(601) 249-3622 for details and start getting rid of those

debts today.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: George Best, 1933 to 1996]
 In Memoriam:

     Hazel Staley, a longtime leader of the NFB of North

Carolina, writes with deep sorrow as follows:

     On December 16, 1996, George Best died following a long

bout with cancer. He was just four days shy of his sixty-

third birthday. George was a dedicated Federationist. For

sixteen years he served as Treasurer of the North Carolina

affiliate, during which time he made my job as State

President much easier. He loved our state and national

conventions and the Washington Seminar and attended all

these events as long as he was able. In 1992 he received the

Clarence Collins Award for outstanding service to the North

Carolina affiliate. The Clarence Collins Award is the

state's equivalent of our national tenBroek Award.
     George also loved his church. He sang in the choir and

was a leading member of the church's drama team. He accepted

a role in the 1996 Christmas drama with the understanding

that he could have an understudy in case he was not able to

perform. George is survived by his wife Nancy and five

brothers. The North Carolina affiliate mourns the passing of

one of our great leaders.
     All of us in the Federation family join with Hazel and

the North Carolina affiliate in mourning the loss of George

Best and in expressing our condolences to Nancy and to

George's family.
 Tours with Classical Themes:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     The Campanian Society, Inc., announces two tours

designed for blind and visually impaired people. Program

One, "The Classical Heritage in America," fall, 1997, will

be a one-week program including visits to important sites

whose meaning is enhanced by a knowledge of the ancient

world (Bunker Hill, Hudson River, Mt. Vernon) and several

classical sculpture collections (ancient and neo-classical)

in American museums: New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art);

Baltimore (The Walters Art Gallery); Washington: (National

Gallery of Art, American Museum of Art); and Philadelphia

(Museum of Art). This program will be seven days and six

nights or eight days and seven nights, starting and ending

in New York. Tactile experience, lectures, and special

events are planned for each museum. We will include not only

the museum but also other sites of interest and importance

in the area.
     Program Two, "Northern Italy: Lake Como and the Italian

Alps." is planned for April, 1998. This program will center

in the Lake Como area of Northern Italy, including visits to

the many charming and scenic cities surrounding Lake Como,

with an excursion to St. Moritz in Switzerland. The area is

rich in history. Numerous museums and churches will provide

us with wonderful tactile and intellectual experiences. The

length of the program will be approximately ten to eleven

     Please indicate your interest in one or both of these

programs by sending your contact information (name, address,

city, state, zip, phone, fax, and e-mail) to the Campanian

Society, Inc., 5758 Brown Road, Oxford, Ohio 45056, (513)


     Michael and Robin Thorne of the Rock Hill Chapter of

the NFB of South Carolina report their chapter's recent

election results. The officers for the new term are Lenora

Robertson, President; Marcel Rocque, Vice President; Ricky

Hinson and Wenn Spears, Secretaries; Lyn Hornbe, Treasurer;

Ms. Odom and Ms. Bickle, Social Directors; and Michael E.

Thorne, Public Relations Director.
 Diabetes Action Network Drawing:

     The Diabetes Action Network, a division of the National

Federation of the Blind, provides support and information to

thousands of people. Because operating this valuable network

and producing the Voice of the Diabetic cost money, we must

generate funds to help cover these expenses. The Network has

decided to hold a drawing again this year, which will be

coordinated by our treasurer, John Yark.
     The Grand Prize will be $500! The name of the winner

will be drawn on July 4, 1997, at the annual banquet of the

National Federation of the Blind.
     Tickets cost $1 each, or a book of six may be purchased

for $5. Tickets may be purchased from state representatives

of our Diabetes Action Network or by contacting the Voice

Editorial Office, 811 Cherry Street, Suite 309, Columbia,

Missouri 65201, telephone (573) 875-8911. Anyone interested

in selling tickets should also contact the Voice Editorial

Office. Tickets are available now. The names of those who

sell fifty tickets or more will be announced in the Voice.
     Please make checks payable to the National Federation

of the Blind. Money and ticket stubs must be mailed to the

Voice office no later than June 10, 1997, or they can be

personally delivered to Drawing Chairman John Yark at this

year's NFB convention in New Orleans. This drawing is open

to anyone, and the holder of the lucky ticket need not be

present to win. Each ticket sold is a donation helping to

keep our Diabetes Action Network moving forward.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Prince George's County Councilwoman Audrey

Scott is pictured presenting a White-Cane-Safety-Day

proclamation to Southern Maryland Chapter President Ken

Silberman on October 8, 1996.]

     Kenneth Silberman, President of the Southern Maryland

Chapter of the NFB of Maryland, reports his chapter's

January 4 election results. The new officers are Kenneth

Silberman, President; Bernetha Mclamore, Vice President;

Edward Harley, Secretary; Gerelene Womack, Treasurer; and

Jack Darosa and Mary Skattie, Board Members.
 Arizona Brailler Repair Service

Now Open for Nationwide Business:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     As a mutual support project, the Arizona Instructional

Resource Center (AIRC) at the Foundation for Blind Children

in Phoenix and the Mohave Treatment Programs Department at

the Arizona State Prison Complex at Douglas (ASPC-D) have

jointly opened a new Perkins Brailler Repair Service.
     The service got off the ground in August, 1995, and has

been working with such tremendous success that it is now

ready to go public. The Arizona Brailler Repair Service is

now available to anybody in the country. In a small, festive

celebration in Douglas last spring, the final details were

agreed upon between the two agencies.
     The Brailler repair service is administered by the

AIRC, with actual repair taking place in Douglas. Top-notch

but inexpensive maintenance and repair (a $15 flat fee for

labor) with a 6-month warranty is guaranteed as part of the

excellent service offered to anyone in the country.

Turnaround time is approximately two weeks. Only if unusual

parts must be ordered from Massachusetts will the repair

time be longer since the more common replacement parts are

held in stock at ASPC-D.
     For more information or to send your Perkins for

service, contact the AIRC at the Foundation for Blind

Children, 1235 E. Harmont Drive, Phoenix, Arizona 85020,

(602) 331-1470.

     On January 18, 1997, the Greater Seattle Chapter of the

NFB of Washington held elections with the following results:

Noel Nightingale, President; Rita Szantay, First Vice

President; Mark Noble, Second Vice President; Renee West,

Secretary; and Gary Deeter, Treasurer. Elected to serve on

the Board were Bennett Prows and Stephanie Yates.
 New Chapter:

     The North Greenville Chapter became the fifty-fifth

chapter of the NFB of South Carolina on Tuesday, January 8.

The following officers were elected: Lydell Gray, President;

Joyce Bowes, Vice President; George McKinney, Secretary; and

Jack Yearwood, Treasurer. Congratulations to the newest

chapter in the South Carolina affiliate.
 Affordable Gifts:

     Nancy Lynn of Pennsylvania has asked us to carry the

following announcement:

     Affordable gifts for all occasions with income

potential attached. Call (888) 887-6318 any time, day or

night, and leave your name and phone number. You will

receive a prompt response.
 CD-ROM Catalog of Braille and Recorded Books Available:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     In February, 1997, the National Library Service for the

Blind and Physically Handicapped released the first

production version of CD-BLIND, a CD-ROM of catalog records

completed through December, 1996. Including the entire

catalog of Braille and recorded books produced by NLS, CD-

BLIND contains approximately 250,000 records of special-

format materials from more than two dozen libraries

throughout the world. It is searchable by title, author,

subject, keyword, and much more. Complete with a revised

user manual, this CD-ROM represents the culmination of

several years of testing by libraries and consumers.
     A subscription to CD-BLIND is available through the

Superintendent of Documents. Send your order to

Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh,

Pennsylvania 15250-7954, (202) 512-1800, and request stock

number 730-011-00000-8. Payment can be made by check, money

order, VISA, MasterCard, or Discover card. The price for a

year's subscription (four issues) is $92 in the United

States and $115 outside the U.S. The single-issue price is

$29 in the U.S. and $36.25 outside the U.S.
     For further information, contact Mr. Robert Axtell,

Head, Bibliographic Control Section, National Library

Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped,

Washington, D.C. 20542, (202) 707-9248.

     During the fourth annual convention of the National

Federation of the Blind of Puerto Rico on November 9, 1996,

the following officers were elected: Alpidio Rolon,

President; Tomas Cintron, Secretary; and Maria Martinez,

Maria T. Rivera, and Jose A. Rodriquez, members of the Board

of Directors.
 Braille Materials Available:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     Mrs. Judith Kramer, a special education teacher at

Boonton High School in Boonton, New Jersey, writes to say

that she has a number of books and other materials in

Braille, which she would be pleased to pass on to high

school or college students who could use them. A list of

publications is available upon request. Many of these

publications, but not all, have to do with creative writing.

For more information or a list of books with descriptions,

contact Mrs. Judith Kramer, Boonton High School, 306 Lathrop

Avenue, Boonton, New Jersey 07005, (201) 335-9700, e-mail:
 Summer Music Institute, National Resource Center for Blind


     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     The Music and Arts Center for the Handicapped is

accepting applications from motivated blind musicians

throughout the United States, high school or above, to

participate in its second Summer Music Institute for Blind

College-Bound Musicians. A three-week program to be held in

July at the University of Bridgeport will provide exposure

to music Braille, music composition by computer, keyboard,

theory, and ensemble and strategies for study and

independent living in a college setting. Enrollment is

limited to fifteen students, who will be accepted based on

their applications and over-the-phone interviews. Cost of

the program (including tuition, room and board, and

materials) is $2,500. Partial scholarships are available.
     The National Resource Center for Blind Musicians

provides information to musicians, students, and teachers on

music Braille and accessible music technology. The Center

can provide advice about music systems or put people in

touch with someone in its national network of blind

musicians with experience in a particular aspect of the

     For an application to the Summer Music Institute or to

reach the National Resource Center, contact David Goldstein,

Music and Arts Center for the Handicapped, 600 University

Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut 06601, (203) 366-3300, e-

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Catherine Horn Randall receives her award

from Neil Kelly]

     Neil Kelly, Illinois State Library Coordinator of

Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, presented

the 1996 Alexander J. Skrzypek Award to Catherine Horn

Randall, at the time First Vice President of the National

Federation of the Blind of Illinois, at the Illinois Library

Association annual conference, May 16, 1996, at the Palmer

House Hotel in Chicago, Illinois.
     The award reads as follows: "For outstanding

contributions to the advancement of library services for the

blind and physically disabled of Illinois, presented to

Catherine Horn Randall, Illinois State Library Advisory

Committee and Citizen. Presented by the specialized Library

Services Forum of the Illinois Library Association and the

Illinois Regional Library for the Blind and Physically


     At its November, 1996, meeting the Triangle Chapter of

the NFB of North Carolina held its annual election of

officers. They are Johnna Simmons, President; Wayne Shevlin,

Vice President; Susan Briley, Secretary; and Linda Shevlin,

Treasurer. Melissa Orrsick was elected to serve on the

 New Catalog Available:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     Braille money marker, talking compass, talking

microwave, computer games, talking book equipment, and over

500 other items are all part of the 1997 Ann Morris

Enterprises catalog. Request your free copy in large print,

4-track cassette, or MS/DOS disk today. Braille is $6.

Contact Ann Morris Enterprises, Inc., 890 Fams Court, East

Meadow, New York 11554, (800) 454-3175, e-mail:
 Computer Tutorial for Windows 95 Now Available:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     Peter Scialli--proprietor of ShrinkWrap Computer

Products, a local consultant, and vendor for accessible

technology--has just published an audio cassette tutorial

called "Windows 95, Removing the Screen." Presented in an

informal style, the tutorial demonstrates how a blind

computer user with adaptive equipment can easily understand

and learn Windows 95. With examples throughout, Dr. Scialli

uses his own speech synthesizer to show blind people the

ease with which they can still operate a computer despite

the precipitous disappearance of text-based software.
     "Removing the Screen" is available from ShrinkWrap

Computer Products for $40 and is about five hours in length.

It comes on standard audio cassettes and may assist anyone

who wants to learn to use Microsoft Windows 95 without

relying on a computer mouse or visual output.
     Contact ShrinkWrap Computer Products at (800) 377-0774

or on the Internet at Shrink@Erols.Com
 Income Opportunity Available:

     Lonnie and Gail Wagner of New Mexico have asked us to

carry the following announcement:

     We are in the business of offering three gifts: health,

hope, and freedom through a wonderful home-based business

opportunity. Easy-to-use audio and video tape system to get

your business booming. Training and support only a phone

call away. Wild grown products great for animals and people.

For free information please call (800) 927-2575, extension

 New Division Formed:

     The SAGE (Senior Action Group Energy) Division of the

National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico became a

statewide division in 1996. The elected officers are

Christine Hall, President; Verna Lorette, Vice President;

Jack Traxler, Secretary; and Ray Baca, Treasurer. Elected to

the Board were George Burman and Fern Lawson.
 For Sale:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     Reading Edge in excellent condition, hardly used, with

latest upgrade. Asking $4,000 or best offer. Please contact

Teresa Burke, 66 Post Road, Slag Hill, New York 10973, (914)