The Braille Monitor

Vol. 40, No. 9                                                                              October 1997

Barbara Pierce, Editor

Published in inkprint, in Braille, on cassette and
the World Wide Web and FTP on the Internet

The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President

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Baltimore, Maryland 21230
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THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
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Contents


Vol. 40, No. 9                                                                                    October 1997


Let The Old Creep Die
by Barbara Pierce

FDA Meeting Report: Insulin vials will have tactile Markings
by Ed Bryant

Politics In Mississippi As Usual: Rehabilitation Again Featured

What Contests Can Do

Signs of Regress
by Scott LaBarre

A Perspective on Braille Unification
by Joseph E. Sullivan

Floral Designer In Training
by Ladonna Jean Whitt

Life Insurance

American Library Association Honors Senator John Chafee

More Than A Question Of Membership
by Barbara Pierce

In Memoriam: Wallace Schroeder and Fred Moore
by Kenneth Jernigan

Recipes

Monitor Miniatures

ISSN 0006-8829

Copyright 1997, The National Federation of the Blind

Pictured standing outside on the front steps of the National Center for the Blind are the members of the new Technology Department of the National Federation of the Blind. They are (left to right) back row, John Chrisman, Richard Lord, Marie Marucci, and Richard Ring; front row, Julie Bieselin, Curtis Chong, and Michael Gosse. The new department began work as a unit in the middle of August. The group's offices are all on the second floor of the Johnson Street wing of the National Center for the Blind. Curtis Chong, a longtime leader of the organization, has moved to Baltimore to Head the department. Richard Ring will continue to direct the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind, John Chrisman and Richard Lord conduct operations for NEWSLINE for the Blind®. Michael Gosse, an experienced electrical engineer and First Vice President of the Science and Engineering Division, has joined the staff to help devise, design, and perhaps build new technology to benefit blind people. Julie Bieselin and Marie Marucci are experienced members of the NFB staff who have recently moved to the Technology Department.

 

Let the Old Creep Die

by Barbara Pierce

Across the summer an unlikely topic surfaced again and again on radio news, talk programs, and Internet listservs throughout the country. The subject was Mr. Magoo--the curmudgeonly cartoon character created shortly before World War II, transformed in the fifties into the self-satisfied prig seen in theater shorts, and modified again for television in the sixties into everybody's bumbling, incompetent, but kindly uncle. By the late seventies the near-sighted nitwit voiced by Jim Backus was a has-been, so why, in 1997, was he suddenly appearing on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, on the editorial pages of dozens of major newspapers, and on the ABC television program "Access Hollywood"?

The reason was simple: a couple of years ago The Walt Disney Company bought the rights to Mr. Magoo and decided to make a feature-length, live-action Magoo film, starring Leslie Nielsen, to be released at Christmastime this year. News of this project filtered out last spring, and as soon as they heard of the project, blind people began to worry--at least those who had weathered the effect of Mr. Magoo on blind children the first time around began to worry.

Society is constantly evolving, but whether the changes are on balance positive or negative is more than those who live through them can objectively assess. But the fact of change is pretty universally accepted. Take humor, for example. What people laugh at in polite company is, perhaps, the first thing to change from generation to generation. The moron jokes of my childhood are long gone, and ethnic and racial jokes soon followed them into well-deserved obscurity. Any significant cultural trend will impose a discrepancy for a while between jokes told in polite circles and the ones people laugh at in their own, homogeneous groups. As a brunette I find some of the blonde jokes amusing, but my blonde daughter distinctly does not, even though her intelligence, common sense, and practicality remove her as far from the objects of those jokes as it is well possible to be. So, out of respect to her, I no longer tell blonde jokes, but I still find them funny.

Over the centuries the evolution of humor becomes more pronounced. In the Middle Ages blind men were dressed up with donkeys' ears and set to fighting each other to amuse the crowds at country fairs. In the eighteenth century people toured insane asylums to enjoy the antics of the chained inmates. But anyone who found either of these spectacles amusing today would be unhesitatingly branded as perverted.

If you had asked me five years ago whether Mr. Magoo could make a revival in the United States in the 1990's, I would have said with conviction that as a culture we were past taking delight in the mistakes of a man who saw so little that he did not know where he was or what he was actually doing most of the time. I could not have been more wrong. People laugh at what frightens them; that is one way of coping with fear. But whatever the reason, Disney gambled on the proposition that Magoo would draw a nostalgic adult audience, along with children who would find Nielsen's brand of klutzy, disorganized silliness funny. To hear Disney officials talk about the decision in their public statements, you would conclude that the idea that Magoo might make life harder for a new generation of blind children, as it did for blind adults now in their thirties and older, never even entered their minds.

Mr. Magoo, they protested, wasn't really blind; he was just very nearsighted. They hadn't intended any harm, so none could be done by the film. And, besides, Magoo as they planned to portray him was an American hero because he managed to solve the problems and resolve the conflicts--only after he put his glasses back on, of course. They said Magoo was a Forrest Gump figure and that the film could appropriately be compared to Children of a Lesser God and My Left Foot. True, Disney has not offered to let officials of the National Federation of the Blind read the script of the film, but it stretches credulity to conceive of Leslie Nielsen's style of acting as bearing any similarity to the powerful portrayals of Marlee Matlin or Daniel Day-Lewis in the films just mentioned.

The absurdity of such arguments would be funny if the film's potential for harming blind people were not so great. What does it matter that Magoo's corrected vision places him above the legal definition of blindness when the joke is that he does not wear his glasses? He behaves bizarrely and wanders around unaware of his surroundings because his creators consider that such actions are both plausible behavior for the blind and funny to watch.

It may comfort the Disney folks to announce that they had no intention of causing problems for blind people, and it may well be so. But it was undoubtedly more a case of its never having occurred to anybody to take the warnings seriously. An op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times at the time Disney acquired the rights to Magoo warned that reviving "the old creep," as Jim Backus took to calling Magoo in later years, was a bad idea and would harm blind people.

In fact as early as the late fifties an incident occurred that demonstrated how painful the Magoo joke could be. The British author Aldous Huxley was hired to develop a Magoo script based on the Don Quixote story, according to Dun Roman, a former writer for United Pictures of America (UPA), the organization owning the rights to Mr. Magoo at the time. Huxley had poor vision, and it soon became apparent that he did not know that Magoo was all but blind. Rather than tell him about the blindness joke, UPA paid for his script, which it never used. So much for astonishment that the Magoo joke might be in poor taste.

The notion that Mr. Magoo in any transformation could be an American hero or that Leslie Nielsen's comic acting places his performance in the same class as two of the most moving and powerful portrayals of disability ever created is nothing more than optimistic public relations puffery. But one part of that argument must be deeply disturbing to anyone dedicated to the conviction that blind people are capable of living productive, well-adjusted lives. Disney officials point out with pride that Magoo puts everything to rights as soon as he puts on his glasses and can see what is happening. What message does that plot device give to blind children and to everyone who at some future time will deal with blindness?

At the opening general session of the 1997 convention of the National Federation of the Blind, delegates overwhelmingly passed Resolution 97-03, which called upon The Disney Company to stop production of the Magoo movie and urged the actors to have nothing more to do with the project. (See the August/September, 1997, issue for the complete text of the resolution.) The press swept down with open mikes and rolling cameras to demand explanations for our opposition to Mr. Magoo. Members stepped forward to talk about their own experiences as children and their fears for what today's blind youngsters may be in for as a result of Magoo's revival.

Following the convention, President Maurer asked me to gather several statements together for one journalist who requested personal stories of troubles brought on by Magoo. In addition to a number of comments from various listservs, we passed on the following statements:

Statement

by Sabrina Yamini

Four years ago my stepson Musa committed suicide at the age of fourteen. At the time we did not know that Musa was facing taunts, teasing, and beatings on a daily basis at school. He was, apparently, convinced that at fourteen he should be able to handle his own problems independently. For reasons beyond my understanding, the teachers and staff at the school didn't bother to tell us what was going on. The first we knew the full extent of Musa's agony was when we discovered his body.

I have a number of younger children and stepchildren, several of whom are blind or visually impaired to one degree or another. They too endure teasing and laughter at the hands of their classmates. Teachers present during these episodes do nothing to stop them; in fact, they often seem to encourage the activity. They have no grasp of what all this is doing to my children's spirits.

These children are very fragile. I have no words to convey my anxiety when I think about what will happen when the children in our area see the movie about Mr. Magoo next winter. Perhaps the name-calling and laughter and tricks will be only a little worse because of the movie, but how much worse do they have to be before one of our younger children decides to follow Musa's example?

Statement

by Mary Lou Grunwald

I've heard people say that there is no tie between Magoo and his adventures and the experiences of blind people. There are ties. I lived through them.

When I entered school for the first time, I had to wear very strong glasses. I was, and still am, legally blind. I attended classes where the books had very large print. I have very clear memories of hearing other kids make fun of me because I couldn't see very well. They called me Magoo. At least twice kids cornered me in the school yard, took my glasses away from me, and broke them. They said, "Now you're really Magoo, and you can't catch us." They laughed and taunted.

All of this happened many years ago, and I guess you could say that it was just a matter of children's cruelty and insensitivity. But I can only end up thinking that the Magoo cartoons taught them that it was okay to laugh and make fun of somebody with very poor or no sight. As I remember these painful experiences, I am disturbed by the idea that this kind of stuff would be considered okay today. I remember how frightened and angry I was as a third or fourth grader.

I hope we can convince The Disney Company to do something more positive and helpful with the money it would take to make a new Magoo movie.

Statement

by Bill Reif

Unlike George of the thankfully short-lived television program "Good and Evil," Mr. Magoo is supposed to be a somewhat likable guy and was designed to appeal to children. Still I couldn't agree more that Mr. Magoo belongs to another time, as do Dick Tracy and the Frito Bandito, and should not be inflicted on yet another generation.

Let me describe a couple of small incidents, far separated in time, which illustrate the place in the public mind Mr. Magoo occupies and will occupy if not challenged by the NFB and by people having the courage demonstrated by those who stand with us.

When I was in high school in 1972, I had a friend in phys ed who used to look up to me, ask for help in homework, etc. While definitely not known for his tact, he was generally a nice guy. While he normally referred to me by my name, he often, when offering help he was sure a blind person would need, (help such as learning what room I had just entered), would precede his unwanted offer by stating: "OK, Magoo, you're in the locker room now," or "I'll walk you out to the car, Magoo." Let me make it clear that this was not a kid who wanted to make fun of me by calling me "Magoo." He always used it in a context that implied that, because of my blindness and but for his help, I would be as oblivious of my surroundings as Mr. Magoo. Whenever I would decline his unwanted offer of help, he would point out that Magoo never thought he was lost or needed help either. I think this was a kid who didn't have the sense not to say what others were content merely to think.

The other incident happened just a year ago as I was walking past a church day-care center. One of the preschool-age children asked his mother what I was doing tapping that stick. Upon being told I was blind, he asked, in amazement, "Oh, like Mr. Magoo?" That cartoon is still shown regularly on Nickelodeon. To her credit, his mother replied, "No, not like Mr. Magoo; he uses a cane because he knows where he's going." As I continued past, I heard her explaining that blind people aren't like Mr. Magoo. I hope her assurances came early enough in his life to change his beliefs and keep them from becoming the emotional reaction to blindness some adults just can't get past. How much better it would be if parents didn't have to undo the damage done by the lies and stereotypes which frightened or ill-informed people find entertaining.

It's interesting that my son hates Mr. Magoo, finding it beyond belief that he could get through a whole cartoon without realizing he was on a ship, in a bullfight, or wherever the situation put him.

Statement

by Barbara Pierce

I was the only blind child in my elementary school in the 1950's. I had a little vision and wore thick glasses in an attempt to improve my sight. When I look back on those years, I realize that I spent much of the time worrying: If I was lucky enough to be chosen to take a message to the school office (an honor that every kid yearned for), I fretted that the secretary would not be typing to guide me to her door and on the way back that some teacher would open or close her room door, thereby throwing off my count of open doors to find my class again. At church I worried that I would not see the glint of the offering plate to reach for it at the right time. I agonized for fear that my walking-to-school friends would get tired of walking with me. When I walked to school alone, I could not count on finding the shortcut, so I was in danger of being tardy.

And so it went--day in and day out. These were not shattering concerns, but they occupied much of my waking time. The problem was that the magnitude of my vision loss was supposed to be a big secret. I got the message from teachers, classmates, and my family that I should try to act like everybody else. I was pretty good at recognizing people by their voices, but I learned early not to give away the fact when I did not know to whom I was speaking. Actually the fact of my blindness was no secret. I sometimes heard other students whispering the information; then the older boys started their very own playground chant:

Blind-as-a-bat,

Where am I at?

Mr. Magoo,

What'ya tryin' to do?

It would be twenty-five years before I learned that what I should have done once I had been outed was to admit the situation, get the Braille training I badly needed, and learn to use a white cane. But protective coloration was all I could think to use as a defense. If I never risked reaching out to do anything new or different, if I stayed back in the crowd until the comments of others told me what to expect, I was less likely to be humiliated by bumping into something or misidentifying someone. The price I paid was loss of experience. I didn't touch things; I didn't go places alone; I didn't risk doing things that would have taught me more about my world. For the sighted child with access to picture books, television, and films such deprivations are regrettable, but for a blind child they cause deficits that remain for life.

But despite my efforts I was not spared the jibes. Mr. Magoo haunted me. I knew his mistakes had nothing to do with blindness because I never confused dogs with children, bananas with telephone receivers, or dishes with records; but my classmates assumed that was the way I must perceive the world. They were forever handing me objects and swearing that they were something else. They were indignant when I was not confused and not prepared to laugh at any error I made.

Thank Heaven I was one of the brightest students in my class. I could often anticipate a Magoo set-up and figure out how to thwart it. I was blessed with a circle of friends, but all of them at one time or another tried sneaking away from me silently or standing perfectly still so I couldn't find them. They were indignant when these stratagems did not work and gleeful when they did. The theme in both cases was Mr. Magoo--I was either like him or not like him. When they fooled me, they squealed with laughter, and when I caught on to what was happening, they were angry because I wasn't playing by the rules.

There was no way to win. Did all this mar me for life? Not profoundly. I have not resorted to the therapist's office to work out my neuroses. But the only way to make a healthy adjustment to blindness is to admit what is happening and set about openly and intelligently to master the skills necessary to live effectively as a blind person. I took many years to recognize this truth and many more to learn to act on it. Mr. Magoo compounded my problems and confused the people who could have helped me evolve a natural and healthy approach to my situation.

I survived more or less intact, but I see no reason why another generation of blind children should be asked to bear the brunt of Mr. Magoo and his antics.

The themes raised in these statements have been discussed in Internet conversations and interviews around the country in the weeks since passage of the July 2 resolution. The responses to the Federation position seem to be of two sorts. The first has been on the whole from sighted people who found Magoo's antics funny and who now resent the implication that there might be any inappropriateness in their sense of humor. The comments from such people tend to come down to "Lighten up. It's just a cartoon. Political correctness has gone too far when poor old Mr. Magoo is blamed for causing serious problems and reinforcing misconceptions about blindness." Unfortunately there is ample evidence that Mr. Magoo has indeed caused children problems for generations, and even in such conversations one can see the impact of the Magoo world view on the very people protesting their freedom from the taint of prejudice.

Recently I found myself engaged in a debate on this very topic with two interviewers in Texas. I commented that blind people face an unemployment rate so high that it clearly reflects employers' presumption that we are more or less helpless. In a little diatribe they announced that blind people really are pretty helpless and that Mr. Magoo cartoons weren't actually so far off the mark. A blind person wouldn't be able to distinguish between plates and long-playing records without somebody there to identify the item to be washed. Another interviewer, this time in Los Angeles, expressed incredulity when I said that a blind person could distinguish between various pieces of clothing and therefore would know what he or she was wearing. He demanded to know what I was wearing and then insisted on speaking on the air with my secretary to confirm the accuracy of my words. When the two of us agreed about the outfit, he yielded, grudgingly, that I might be able to identify clothing, but I pointed out to him that his tone of voice told me he was still not convinced of the competence of blind people. My statement that Mr. Magoo had helped to confirm the public's assumption that blind people had little grasp of the world around them did not persuade him, but I remain convinced that such statements as these interviewers made reflexively to me illustrate precisely the damage done through the years by Magoo and the running gag about his mistakes in identification.

The other typical response arises from blind people who have chiseled out a precarious place for themselves in their social circle through demonstrating what good fellows they are by always being the first to laugh at their blindness. Rather than mastering the alternative skills they need to live efficiently and productively, they pretend that they can see as often as they can and then laugh heartily at their errors or injuries when the fakery falls apart. They, of course, don't want to be pitied, and laughter at their own expense is the only weapon they have found to defend themselves when they have no confidence in their actual abilities.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the entire Magoo controversy has been dealing with the accusations that members of the NFB have no sense of humor and that we are engaged in political correctness run amuck. Until now one of the most common criticisms aimed at us has been that we seem to be absolutely insensible of the nuances of political correctness. This older, more familiar complaint happens to be, in fact, accurate. Political correctness has everything to do with language and labels for things and people. We have always been more concerned with substance than form, figuring that, in dealing with blindness at least, if we could straighten out the substance, the latter would come right or cease to be a problem at all. Since we perceive the issues raised by Mr. Magoo as going to the very heart of the problems of discrimination and alienation facing blind people, we believe that protesting what Disney is doing is genuinely important.

The reflexive opponents of political correctness who have decided that our objections to Mr. Magoo are nonsense make the error of labeling anything that has to do with a minority group and that such people find inconvenient or uncomfortable as "political correctness." They assume that, if they announce that a thing is superficial, it is. But laughing at people because they can't see, underscoring the public's conviction that things straighten themselves out only when you can see them, and encouraging people's misconceptions about what a person can accomplish without seeing are all serious matters. Whether one agrees with us about Magoo's involvement in such issues, it seems amazing that people would define such questions as superficial political correctness.

The accusation that we lack a sense of humor seems equally peculiar to anyone who has spent any time around members of the Federation. Few groups have more fun together or enjoy humor more completely. We do not make a point of laughing about blindness; our lives and interests are too wide-ranging to focus our humor on any one area of existence, but a sense of humor certainly helps one to deal healthily with the absurdities that occur because of blindness. Ridiculous situations, silly reactions, peculiar comments: all these are shared among Federation friends and passed along with zest. By and large, however, I cannot remember hearing Federationists laugh at cruelty or anecdotes that make fun of blind people just because they are blind. All of us have been the objects of such laughter too often to find such anecdotes or jokes funny.

Shortly after the Wall Street Journal published its front-page story on the history of Mr. Magoo, President Maurer received a letter from a man in New York. The intemperate tone and obvious anger of the letter demonstrate just how uncomfortable and even threatened some people have been made by the prospect of blind people standing up and saying clearly yet temperately that we are no longer willing to endure taunts and disparagement without registering our displeasure. President Maurer's response is a model of balance, rationality, and clarity. Here is the exchange of letters:

West Henrietta, New York

August 4, 1997

Dear Mr. Maurer:

I was outraged to read in Thursday's Wall Street Journal that your organization is disturbed by Mr. Magoo's resuscitation by the Disney Company. It is obvious that you people are ridiculously overly sensitive and apparently don't have enough to do for the blind, subsequently your complaining about a animated individual.

I've asked my people in New York to determine where your funding comes from. If any of it comes from public funds, perhaps such funding should be reviewed.

With best wishes, I am,

Sincerely yours,

Baltimore, Maryland

August 8, 1997

Dear ________:

I have received your letter, and I appreciate the directness you employ in stating your opinion. Mine is different from yours, but I believe that it is based upon experience. Perhaps I read more into my experience than I should, but I don't think so. This is the experience to which I refer.

The Walt Disney Company has proposed to issue a live-action, full-length film reviving Mr. Magoo this upcoming Christmas. At its 1997 convention held in New Orleans, Louisiana, the National Federation of the Blind, the largest organization of blind people in the United States, protested this proposed action by The Walt Disney Company. In response to the protest, Disney said that we who are blind did not understand. Magoo is not blind, they said; he's just nearsighted. Besides, they said, he is a role model, a heroic figure.

From the perspective of the blind of this country, we believe it is Disney that does not understand. I, Marc Maurer, serve as President of the National Federation of the Blind. I am totally blind, forty-six years old, and the father of two children. My wife Patricia is also blind.

I am a lawyer and the administrator of the largest organization of the blind in this country, the National Federation of the Blind. We operate a number of training programs for the blind. We help people find jobs. We have created 700 chapters that bring blind people together in every state in our nation. We print and distribute millions of documents that bring hope to the blind every year.

My wife, who is blind, has a teaching certificate and has taught in several schools. She presently serves as a full-time volunteer in our headquarters office.

Our two children, David, thirteen, and Dianna, ten, are both sighted. They do what children usually do--go to school, play in the yard, ride their bicycles, and complain about doing the dishes. They cannot avoid the subject of blindness because we, their blind parents, live with it every day.

When David was beginning in school (he was in the second grade), he came home crying. The other kids had told him that his parents were incompetent and ineffective because of blindness (the children had said stupid and dumb). David knew better, and he told the kids that they were wrong. The argument became heated and developed into a fight. David knew what to do. He took the matter to the teacher, expecting vindication and support. But he didn't get it. The teacher sided with those who had belittled his parents. My son was isolated and alone. He didn't have the words to express it, but the feeling was there. He knows his parents have ability, but nobody would believe him. They called us by the name of Magoo.

The year started badly, and it got worse. David knows that I sometimes make television appearances on behalf of the blind of the nation. After one of these he told his friends that I had been on television. But they wouldn't believe him. The teacher didn't believe it either. When David insisted that his father had been on television, the teacher punished him for lying.

Later the same year I was invited to visit the First Lady, Mrs. Barbara Bush, in the White House. When David told this story, he was once again accused of lying. The students and the teachers just couldn't believe that a blind person would be doing such things. And it all started with Mr. Magoo.

Humor about blindness is not wrong unless it hurts. We in the National Federation of the Blind have as good a sense of humor as anybody. But we believe that there is a difference between a good joke and a put-down. For example, the story of the blind person who goes to the store with a guide dog comes to mind. After entering, the blind person picks up the dog by the tail and swings it in a circle. When the manager asks, "What are you doing?" and "May I help you?" the blind person responds, "No thanks, I'm just looking around." This is not offensive because it can't injure anybody. But Magoo is offensive because he represents a false image of blindness. When he can see, he gets things done. When he cannot see, he makes errors and is incompetent. Blind people are not like that. Of course all of us make funny mistakes sometimes, but blind people with proper training are not less competent than the sighted. And we object to the power of the film industry being used to say we are. We do not mistake a bear for a person dressed up in a fur coat, as Magoo does. We do not mistake a fire plug for a small child, as Magoo does. And we do not mistake long-play records for dinner plates, as Magoo does.

I have described one of my own Magoo experiences here, but it is not unique. Tens of thousands of blind people in America have been faced with the same taunts and stereotypes based on the Magoo theme. If it hadn't been painful for us, we wouldn't object. We ask Disney to leave Magoo in the past, which is where he belongs.

A number of my friends have found themselves bedeviled by the Magoo character. Maybe we should let people continue to do this, but I'd rather they wouldn't. If they do, it seems reasonable to me that we should have the opportunity to respond.

This may not answer the questions you have raised in your letter. If you want to ask others, I'll do my best to respond.

Sincerely yours,

Marc Maurer, President

National Federation of the Blind

How is the controversy over Magoo likely to end? At this writing, early in September, it is too soon to tell. The Disney people came to meet with President Maurer in August and apparently have plans to return in a few weeks to discuss our differences more completely. To date no resolution has been hammered out. Surely all blind people would agree that a series of solid portrayals of blind people on television and in the movies would be a constructive step toward educating the public about the capacity of blind people. Until recently we have endured little but wild or absurd characterizations of blind people in entertainment: Audrey Hepburn fighting an intruder in Wait Until Dark or the crazy driving and olfactory prowess of the depressed veteran in Scent of a Woman. Magoo cartoons and the psychologist George in the ABC program "Good and Evil" fall into the same category.

Two recent exceptions to this pattern point the way toward the genuinely constructive portrayals of blind people that could undo the damage Disney is about to perpetrate. These are the blind woman on the CBS program, "Early Edition," and the blind scientist in the new Jody Foster film, Contact. Both these characters have roles in the unfolding plots, and they carry out their duties efficiently and appropriately. They use canes and dogs and get on with their lives. Occasionally the fact of blindness surfaces, but it is not dwelt upon. A sighted character could have been substituted for either but was not. The message is clear: blindness is a characteristic in each of these lives, but it does not define the person or control the life.

If Disney would commit to see that a series of ordinary, competent blind characters find their way into films and ABC television programs over the next several years and that the NFB will be consulted to make sure that the portrayals are neither condescending nor spectacular, the negative impact of Magoo this coming winter would be markedly reduced. Magoo's danger has always been that his antics fall into a vacuum of ignorance about the reality of blindness.

The National Federation of the Blind will continue to fight to educate the public about the abilities of blind people. Nothing Disney or uninformed sighted members of the general public or stunted blind members of that same public can do will discourage us from working to protect blind children from unnecessary attacks or resisting the effects of discrimination wherever they surface. Mr. Magoo is merely the latest battleground. It will not be the last.

Jim Backus was quoted as saying of Mr. Magoo that he wished that they would "Let the old creep die." Blind people can only echo that sentiment, but whatever Disney does, we have no intention of allowing Magoo to undo the good we have accomplished during the peaceful years in which he was absent from the scene. The cartoons used to end with Magoo chortling to himself: "By George, Magoo, you've done it again." Whatever it takes, the National Federation of the Blind is determined to see that his words will not stand as the final epitaph of Mr. Magoo.

 

FDA meeting report: Insulin vials will have tactile markings

by Ed Bryant

From the Editor: For several years now we have been following the frustratingly slow process by which the Diabetes Action Network, a division of the National Federation of the Blind, has been persuading all parties of the necessity and feasibility of providing tactile label markers on insulin vials.

Just maybe the victory is in view. Here is Ed Bryant's most recent report on the battle as it appeared in the Summer, 1997, issue of the Voice of the Diabetic, the division's quarterly publication. Ed is the editor of the Voice and President of the Diabetes Action Network. Here is his latest report:

Early in 1992 I was contacted by a blind diabetic who informed me that he and his fellows, perfectly capable of accurately drawing up their insulins, had no reliable way to distinguish between insulin types. All insulins, fast-, intermediate-, or long-acting, could be told apart only by reading print on the label. This, I was reminded, placed many in grave danger, since the consequences of vial misidentification could be severe.

I conducted a national survey: Was change needed? Should insulin vials have tactile markings to help blind diabetics, those losing vision, the hurried, the elderly, the young, busy medical professionals, overworked pharmacists, and the rest of us? Survey results were clear and unequivocal--change was needed. For the best of reasons, safety and independence, insulin types should be identifiable by touch.

Representing the Diabetes Action Network of the National Federation of the Blind, I campaigned for this goal: to make tactile-marked insulin vials available. I wrote letters to the U.S. insulin manufacturers (Eli Lilly and Company and Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals Inc.) and to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hundreds of you, Voice readers, joined me in the letter-writing campaign. Many nurses and other medical professionals wrote in support, acknowledging that the print was so small they had trouble reading it and that misdosage mistakes were made in hospitals. Pharmacist error was covered too--this actually happened to me.

We finally persuaded the FDA to call a meeting of interested participants: insulin manufacturers, diabetes educators, drug packaging/labeling firms, diabetes associations, and organizations of the blind. The first meeting took place on October 19, 1995, at FDA headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

At that meeting participants agreed that non-sighted insulin vial identification was a necessity and that such coding should be factory-applied, durable, and sufficiently prominent that blind diabetics with neuropathy could use it. The insulin manufacturers were to come to the next meeting (to be held in three months' time) with both short-term prototypes and long-term proposals.

Bad weather and scheduling conflicts forced postponement of the second meeting, which was not held until April 10, 1996. By the close of that meeting, Lilly and the FDA were ready to agree on a set of one to four tactile bars on the label as a means of distinguishing insulin classes. But Novo Nordisk asked for more time "in which to test alternative prototypes." We agreed to meet again, some time in July, 1996.

For reasons still unclear, Novo Nordisk was not ready by the July deadline and did not transmit its findings to the FDA until the end of December. FDA officials attempted to schedule the rematch in March or April of 1997, but scheduling conflicts delayed the final meeting until June 3, almost one year late.

At the June meeting the insulin manufacturers presented their test findings. Lilly related that their researchers had sought out blind diabetics with differing degrees of neuropathy (mild, moderate, and severe), then tested their success in distinguishing dot codes, vertical lines, and horizontal lines on the vial label. Lilly found that, although a few individuals had neuropathy too severe to recognize any system, a series of wide horizontal bars provided greatest accuracy: over 98 percent successful tactile recognition. (Note: This finding mirrors the consensus of all consumer groups present at the meeting.)

When the question of tactile-label durability was raised, Lilly said that they had tested the bars under a wide variety of conditions, including long-term immersion in alcohol, and experienced no failures. A representative from CCL Label, a national company that makes vial labels for pharmaceuticals, confirmed that his company could guarantee durable tactile bars on vial labels. I pointed out that, even if the rare label failed, the system would be more reliable than at present, when blind insulin users are stuck with rubber bands or tape.

Novo Nordisk, who had tested tactile prototypes with blind diabetics but not considered the impact of neuropathy on label conformation, raised a number of objections. In spite of Lilly's tests and CCL Label's guarantees and in spite of the FDA's satisfaction with the system, Novo Nordisk continued doubting its appropriateness and reliability. A very early tactile-label prototype that had failed torture tests more than a year ago was put forward as evidence that the four-bar system was not sufficiently durable. Perhaps Novo's label-supplier in Denmark is having difficulties--I find it interesting that Lilly's supplier has mastered the problem.

All organizations present except Novo Nordisk accepted the four-bar system as presented. A Lilly representative told me his company was "readying their production line." The FDA stated that, once they had completed the approval process, one company could proceed without waiting for consensus from its competitor. Because the FDA "didn't want Novo Nordisk to feel they were being treated unfairly," they suggested Novo could raise the issue at the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) meeting, to be held this July in Helsinki, Finland. If they raised sufficient objection and if there was strong support at that meeting, FDA might reopen the discussion.

The FDA promised that on August 1 they would fax meeting participants their final determination. They said we would go with the system as agreed unless there is substantial international objection.

This loophole disturbs me greatly. Although it is unlikely that the IDF would support Novo Nordisk in the face of the evidence, outside the USA Novo Nordisk is a major provider of funding to diabetes agencies and foundations. Also such a decision allows the IDF to sit in review of FDA policy-making, a serious surrender of the FDA's statutory responsibilities to an international body. I hope it doesn't come to that.

To review: at the meeting, we agreed on the following system of four horizontal tactile bars on the insulin vial label: One bar = fast-acting insulins such as Humalog; two bars = Regular insulins; three bars = any mixed insulin (70/30 or 50/50); and four bars = longer-acting insulins (NPH, Lente, Ultralente).

Once final approval is granted, Lilly estimates it will take between six and eighteen months for the tactile-marked insulin vials to reach pharmacists' shelves. Insulins have a shelf-life of two years from date of manufacture, so it may be as long as two years from the start of tactile-labeled insulin production before all the older, unmarked vials are off pharmacists' shelves, though the bulk will be replaced far sooner.

It has taken a long time, but hopefully the next report the Voice carries about tactile-marked insulin vials will be a review of the first ones to reach production and the impact they have on our safety, independence, and diabetes self-management.

 

Politics in Mississippi as Usual: Rehabilitation Again Featured

From the Editor Emeritus: As Monitor readers know, Nell Carney, Federal Rehabilitation Commissioner under President Bush, was appointed director of Mississippi's rehabilitation program in 1993. Mississippi's governor is a Republican, and the majority in its legislature are Democrats. From the beginning of her stay in Mississippi, Carney had rough sailing. Democrats in the legislature said she didn't do a good job and that she was overpaid. Others said that her problem was that she was appointed by a Republican governor.

Be that as it may, she resigned from her position late in 1996 and moved to North Carolina. This did not bring peace to the Mississippi rehabilitation department. Apparently legislative shenanigans in the state are still alive and well.

Under date of August 17, 1997, an article by Bill Minor detailing the situation appeared in The Clarion Ledger, one of Mississippi's leading newspapers. Here is what it says:

McMillan's Rise in Power Defied all Ethical Logic-- At best, appointment to head agency suggests conflict of interest

by Bill Minor

With powerful help from his old legislative roommate, former state Rep. Hubert S. (Butch) McMillan was apparently put at the head of the state's highly sensitive agency dealing with disability services, a job for which he had no background.

Earlier this year McMillan was named executive director of Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, an agency that handles nearly $90 million a year in state and federal disability funds.

He got the $70,000-a-year job in February after Rep. Bobby Moody, D-Louisville, pushed the state Board of Rehabilitation Services. Moody chairs the House Health and Welfare Committee, which controls key legislation that affects several agency heads who hired McMillan.

Moody, at the time, was holding two bills hostage--one considered vital to the state Department of Human Services and the other to revamp the state Mental Health Board. The heads of both agencies, it seems, felt pressure from Moody to junk two other nominees for the Rehabilitation Services job and give it to McMillan, who was not even a nominee.

Ironically, Moody's power play made an end run around Governor Kirk Fordice's choice for the rehabilitation job, leaving the would-be appointee stunned that a Fordice administration agency head had abandoned him in the selection process.

McMillan's qualifications for the job are a far cry from those held by his predecessor, Dr. Nell Carney, a longtime rehabilitation professional who was commissioner of the disability services administration under President Bush.

Originally from North Carolina, Carney took over the Mississippi agency in 1993 when Bush left office. After a rocky three years in Mississippi, largely because of her tight administrative style, Carney resigned in December after losing most of her already impaired vision.

After she stepped down, the requirements for the job, which included a master's degree and ten years experience in the field, were lowered by the state Personnel Board.

Retired Air Force Colonel Florian Yoste, now a top assistant in the Department of Economic and Community Development, was Fordice's choice to replace Carney. Yoste, who has several master's degrees and has years of experience in administrative posts in the military, was believed the odds-on choice when the board met in January.

The only other nominee was Jerry Sawyer, longtime vocational rehabilitation director and a former Carney assistant.

However, there was a tie between the two, and, strangely, Don Taylor, director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, who had requested Yoste to submit his application, did not vote for Yoste.

It's more than coincidence that at the time Taylor's number one legislative program, state enactment of the new Welfare Reform Act passed by Congress, was pending before Moody's committee.

Then McMillan's name gets tossed into the pot for the Rehabilitation Services job.

In a February 10 special meeting Dr. Randy Hendrix, who is director of mental health, made the motion to hire McMillan.

This time Taylor voted for McMillan, who was approved unanimously.

Coincidentally, the reorganization of Hendrix's mental health board, which had previously died on deadline in Moody's House committee, was revived.

Evidently Moody has been pushing for a couple of years to give his old legislative crony McMillan a nice salary at Rehabilitation Services. Moody could not be reached for comment.

I interviewed Carney by telephone in North Carolina, where she is now living. She said in 1993, shortly after she took over the agency, McMillan was forced on her department by the administration and given the job of director of the agency's physical plant and maintenance. She concluded that this was the administration's way of placating Moody, who held the key legislative post.

While in his job, McMillan built a home in Madison County, using some of the department's maintenance forces, supposedly working after hours and on weekends. One former employee of the department, Wyatt Price, an experienced plumber, told me he had worked on McMillan's home in 1994 with at least three others from the department, including two workers still in their first-year probation. All of them were dependent upon McMillan's evaluation in their job reviews.

Price said he didn't feel he would lose his job if he didn't help on the building. All were paid for the work, he said, but he did not say how much.

Carney said she filed a complaint to the Legislative PEER Committee about McMillan's use of maintenance employees, but PEER did not investigate.

 

What Contests Can Do

From the Editor: Each year the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB) conduct a reading contest for youngsters who read Braille. Schools and libraries across this nation sponsor such contests for print readers, but almost no one besides the National Federation of the Blind urges blind children to read as much and as widely as they can.

Do our efforts accomplish anything constructive? You bet they do! Here is part of a letter Barbara Cheadle, President of NOPBC, received last spring. It was written by Jo Lynn Chesser, the mother of Amber Chesser, a young woman who has placed three times in the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest. This is what Mrs. Chesser says:

I would like to thank you for the work you do with the NFB and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. I would also like to express my gratitude for the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest. I know a lot of work must go into this. Amber has placed three times and obviously loves to read. When she first started competing in this, those months were about the only time she read. Now it's year round, and the books get better and better. In fact, she has recently expressed an interest in majoring in English and becoming a writer. Thanks for all you do.

Sincerely,

Jo Lynn Chesser

Do you know a Braille-reading student who would benefit from participating in this contest? The contest form appears at the center of the print edition of this issue. You can detach it and pass it along to someone who can make good use of it. If you need additional copies, you can get them from the Materials Center, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, or call (410) 659-9314.

 

Contest Entry Form Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest November 1, 1997, to February 1, 1998 Mail entry form after February 1, 1998 to:

Braille Readers Are Leaders contest, 1800 Johnson Street,

Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Grand total of pages read___________

Student's Name:__________________________________________________

Birthdate:_______________Age:_________Grade:_______________

Address:_________________________________________________________

City:_________________________State:_________zip:____________________

Parent's Name:___________________Phone H:_____________W:___________

School Name:_______________________________________________________

Address:_________________________________________________________

City:______________________State:_________Zip:_____________

Phone:__________________________________________

Certifying Authority: Name:____________________________________

Position: Parent [ ] Teacher [ ] Librarian [ ] Address:_______________________________________________________ City:_______________________State:____________Zip:______________ Phone H:_______________W:_____________________ YES [ ] NO [ ] Did you enter last year's contest (1996-97)? YES [ ] NO [ ] Is this the first time you have ever entered this contest?

Category: (Check one)

[ ] Beginning Print-to-Braille (This category is for former or current print readers who began to learn and use Braille within the past two years. Children who began Braille instruction in Kindergarten or First Grade are not eligible for this category.)

[ ] Kindergarten and First Grade

[ ] Second through Fourth Grades

[ ] Fifth through Eighth Grades

[ ] Ninth through Twelfth Grades

One of the prizes for the contest is a special T-shirt. If you should be a winner, what size would you require? (Check one)

Children's: S (6-8); _______ M (10-12);_______ L (14-16)_________

Adult: S (34-36);______ M (38-40);______L (42-44);_______ XL_______

1998 BRAILLE READERS ARE LEADERS CONTEST

Book title/Magazine article (Mag. Pub. Date) # of Pages

Total # of pages______________________

To the best of my knowledge this student did read these Braille pages between the dates of November 1, 1997, and February 1, 1998.

______________________________________ _______________

Signature of Certifying Authority Date

 

Signs of Regress

by Scott LaBarre

From the Editor: Scott LaBarre is President of the Denver Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. He is also an attorney with a good deal of experience in protecting the rights of blind people. One can never tell from which quarter the next incursion on our rights is likely to come. That's why it is necessary to be watchful all the time. Here is Scott's story of the problems caused by a well-meaning, determined citizen and the city officials who wanted to be responsive. It never occurred to any of them to inquire of the blind people involved whether their efforts were a good idea. This is what Scott says:

Although the blind have made many strides towards full participation and complete integration into our society, very real and significant barriers still exist which prevent us from achieving true equality. As it has always been, these barriers stem mostly from misinformation and ignorance of the real capabilities of blind people. One of the most devastating misconceptions with which we struggle is the notion that blind people, as a natural result of vision loss, face greater danger and risk while participating in routine daily activities. From this misguided stereotype comes the belief that the blind pose a greater safety risk.

As many Federationists will remember, there was a time when blind people could not buy insurance because the insurance industry thought insuring blind people was far too risky a proposition. It was common knowledge--though there was no supporting evidence--that blind people were at great risk and hazard far more often than the sighted. Throughout this century the issue of safety has surfaced again and again in many guises. Safety has been the excuse for barring us from everything from amusement parks to competitive employment. Several years ago a group of blind people, including me, were prevented from enjoying rides together at a Valleyfair amusement park because park policy required that every blind person ride the attractions with a sighted person. (See the March 1991 and May 1994 issues of the Braille Monitor for the full story.) In whatever form the safety issue appears, we must do our best to demonstrate that as a class the blind are no more or less competent or safe than the sighted public. We must step forward to educate those who have had no real experience with blindness or the actual abilities of blind people.

Last year, right here in the city of Denver, we did battle over the safety issue. The cities of Denver and Glendale began installing signs communicating the message "blind crossing" wherever officials believed a number of blind pedestrians crossed streets frequently. As many know, the NFB of Colorado operates the Colorado Center for the Blind, a comprehensive adjustment-to-blindness training center based on Federation philosophy. The outbreak of these signs expanded outward from intersections near our center's two buildings. Later the city of Glendale, the jurisdiction in which our center leases apartments in which center students reside during their training, joined the signage craze. Both cities announced that increased safety for the blind was the main reason why these signs had sprung up among us. Initially we made several contacts with the City of Denver since the Denver signs were the first to be hatched. Doug Trimble, a cane travel instructor at the center and a member of the NFB of Denver Board, contacted city officials, and a supervisor of someone or something assured Doug that the signs would be removed. It seemed like a victory easily won, right? When the signs did not disappear, Doug Trimble called the city again and again was assured that the signs would vanish. Time passed, as it inevitably does, and the signs still stood tall and announced to Denver drivers that blind people were in the area and, therefore, greater caution should be used.

I then began calling the city and eventually left several detailed voice-mail messages for Brian Mitchell, a traffic engineer who apparently headed the appropriate section of the Transportation Department. When I failed to hear from Mr. Mitchell, I wrote the following letter:

May 3, 1996

Mr. Bryan Mitchell
Department of Public Works
Transportation Division
Denver, Colorado

Dear Mr. Mitchell:

I am writing you regarding certain signs that have been placed near our various properties here in Denver. These signs identify the intersections of Broadway and Colorado Avenue and Broadway and Iliff as "blind crossings." It is also my understanding that another sign is now located at Broadway and Mississippi.

When you and the City decided to place these signs, I am certain that your intent was to help blind and visually impaired residents of Denver. You probably believed that they would make these intersections safer and easier to cross for the blind. We appreciate your intentions, but we want to explain to you why in the long run these signs and other such devices are, in fact, harmful to the blind.

As you know, the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado established the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB), an adjustment-to-blindness training program primarily for blind adults. We teach necessary skills and techniques, like independent cane travel, that will allow blind people to integrate fully and competently into society.

Generally speaking, society associates blindness with helplessness. Many people who do not know about blindness assume that, if you are blind, you must rely on the help of others. At the CCB we invest a great deal of time and effort dispelling these myths. As you can imagine, such stereotypes and beliefs about blindness lead directly to lack of opportunity for blind people in our country. For example, working-age blind people in the U.S. face an unemployment rate of about 75 percent. This is not due to inability or unwillingness to work on our part but rather to a fundamental lack of understanding about blindness and visual impairment on the part of would-be employers.

In many ways the signs you have placed at these intersections underscore the notion that the blind are helpless. They leave the public with the idea that the blind cannot cross an intersection safely without such signs. They send the message that drivers must look out for the blind because we cannot take responsibility for our own safety. This kind of message runs directly contrary to the perception of blindness we are vigorously attempting to establish in blind travelers and society at large.

At CCB we teach our students effective and safe techniques to use when crossing intersections and traveling throughout the city. The techniques we use as blind people to cross streets are no less safe than those used by the sighted. We do not need special signs calling attention to the fact that we are less safe. If we did require the warnings in order to cross safely, such signs would be necessary at every intersection in the city because blind people travel throughout the city just as other citizens do.

For these reasons we are asking that you remove these signs and return the intersections to their original configuration. We would be more than happy to meet with you and explain our reasoning further.

I have enclosed an article which appeared in the January, 1996, Braille Monitor, the magazine published by the National Federation of the Blind. The article discusses a similar situation which occurred in Minnesota. The arguments which our members made regarding the Minnesota situation apply just as strongly in Denver.

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter. I look forward to a rapid response.

Cordially, Scott C. LaBarre, Esq.
Director of Advocacy Affairs
National Federation of the Blind of Colorado

We sent essentially the same letter to the mayor of Glendale, Colorado. In fact the matter was much more easily resolved in Glendale. In response to the letter the mayor invited us to a May 7, 1996, City Council meeting. Members of the Denver Chapter including Dr. Verna Brasher, Debra Johnson, Jennifer and Dan Wenzel, and I attended the meeting and gave a presentation to the Council. After hearing our arguments, the Council voted unanimously to remove the signs. The very next day City workers removed the signs from Glendale. Glendale is a tiny suburb of Denver, having only 3,000 inhabitants. Because there are fewer layers of red tape and entangled bureaucracy in Glendale, it is often much easier and quicker to accomplish a civic goal there than in Denver.

Before completing the chronology of events in Denver I should explain the reasons why the city all of a sudden busied itself installing safety signs. In late 1995 a citizen, not even a resident of Denver, began writing letters and apparently calling city officials. Here are her letters:

Littleton, Colorado

September 8, 1995

Denver Department of Transportation
Traffic Sign Division
Attention Brian Mitchell
Denver, Colorado

Re: Traffic Signs Designating Blind Pedestrian Populations

Dear Brian:

Thanks for a moment of your time to address a recent concern I have regarding our blind citizens. I recently spoke with Terry Surls, in which we discussed this topic, and came to agreement that it might best be addressed by your area of CDOT.

I reside in Littleton and work in the downtown area, and often use the Broadway route to commute north and south to work. In the heaviest rush hours, both morning and evening, I often see a large number of our blind community trying to cross major intersections and catch RTD buses at Broadway, Evans, and Mississippi with only their canes and senses as their guide. The National Federation for the Blind is also on 2232 South Broadway, so this could have some influence on the blind population in this area as well.

It has caused me great concern and anguish recently, as I watch blind citizens straining to listen for the traffic to stop at these intersections and then working their way across them. In addition, I have also watched vehicles coming out of the many businesses in this area, and upon their exit, they are blocking the sidewalk, awaiting to merge onto Broadway themselves. So many times I have really felt the anxiety for these pedestrians, as they have literally felt their way around a running vehicle, to find their way back onto a sidewalk that was intended for their very safety.

Terry and I discussed in detail the options of adding some audible crossing signals at various intersections in this area. However, after lengthy review and sharing our own experiences with the blind population, we concluded that this option is not always in everyone's best interest.

However, an alternative that would help, we think, would be the posting of several signs in this area that at least would alert drivers to blind pedestrians in the area so that they might take additional precautions to watch for them.

I use a similar analogy, Brian, with the "Deaf Child" signs posted for our deaf population. Simply put, they are placed there to keep our handicapped neighbors safe and our driving population more alert.

But they serve a social purpose far beyond the safety of the pedestrian--action from liability suits, and just the sheer anguish of living day to day with the knowledge of knowing you have injured another person. Or even, perhaps, a criminal charge for vehicular misuse.

I sincerely appreciate your time and attention to this issue, Brian, and I look forward to your response. I am hopeful that I will be able to count on your staff's commitment to this public, community, and humanitarian concern.

Sincerely,

Sonja J. Guenther

Littleton, Colorado

December 29, 1995

Denver Department of Transportation
Traffic Sign Division
Denver, Colorado

Attention: Brian Mitchell

Re: Traffic Signs for Blind Pedestrians

Brian:

Thanks once more for your efforts this fall in getting the signs posted on Broadway that designate blind pedestrians are in the area. As I mentioned in our last conversation, I had attempted to take some photos from my car during a recent episode and would send you a copy once those were developed.

The intersection we last spoke of was at Broadway and Mississippi. The photograph enclosed was (through my windshield on a snowy day) taken while I was travelling east on Mississippi, at Broadway. As you can see from the photo, the blind pedestrians are standing on the northeast corner of this intersection and are headed south across Mississippi. There were a total of four blind pedestrians crossing this intersection at rush hour. You can see, too, of course, just how congested the intersection was at the time.

Just after I took the photo, these four pedestrians ran across Mississippi, and then ran west across Broadway--against the light. As you had mentioned to me earlier, you would pursue a third blind pedestrian sign at this intersection in consideration of the recent concerns for our blind pedestrians there. Although it is certainly not the clearest photo, I wanted to send it on to you, anyway, in case you needed additional support for your file.

Thanks again, Brian, for your continued support in this matter. I look forward to seeing our sign soon, and please call me if I might answer any questions for you.

Sincerely,

Sonja J. Guenther

There you have the two letters, and it is interesting to note that just one concerned citizen prevailed upon the city to install the "blind crossing" signs. Neither Denver nor Glendale ever contacted us to discuss the matter and determine whether these signs were truly necessary. Ms. Guenther herself never contacted the Federation to discuss the matter.

Clearly Ms. Guenther was motivated by good intentions to protect what she perceived as our safety interests. She actually followed us and snapped photographs. Again, she did so without our knowledge. I begin to understand a little of how celebrities feel when they are chased by the paparazzi.

Through a combination of phone calls and correspondence we convinced the city to remove the signs from affected intersections. In particular, Councilman Edward Thomas played a major role in advancing our cause. Here is his letter notifying us of our victory.

City, Colorado

May 17, 1996

Diane McGeorge and Scott C. LaBarre, Esq.
National Federation of the Blind of Colorado
Denver, Colorado

Re: Blind Crossing Signs

Ms. McGeorge and Mr. LaBarre:

By now you have received a written communique from Mr. Brian Mitchell, Traffic Operations Engineer, City and County of Denver, indicating a municipal liability concern about removing the "Blind Pedestrian Crossing" signs at (1)Colorado Avenue and Broadway, (2)Iliff and Broadway, and (3) Mississippi and Broadway. The City has not placed such signs at Evans and Broadway.

The signs went up after it was brought to the city's attention that visually impaired pedestrians frequently crossed at these intersections. The signs, of course, are meant to serve a safety function.

Your May 3, 1996, letter to Mr. Mitchell and Federation member Mr. Gary Van Doren's call to my office expressed a viewpoint that, although well-intended, the signs actually are harmful to the blind because they perpetuate an erroneous notion that blindness is associated with helplessness.

I have made Councilman William Himmelmann, District Seven, aware of this concern. South Broadway runs through his district.

However, since you last had contact with my office, Mr. Mitchell agreed that the signs at (1) Colorado Avenue and Broadway, and (2) Iliff and Broadway could be removed. These intersections do not have as high a volume of turning traffic as (3)Mississippi and Broadway. At Mississippi and Broadway he would consider removing the blind crossing legend signs and replacing them with "Yield to Pedestrian" signs.

Prior to making any changes, the City asks that the Federation provide a polling or petition list of representatives from the blind community who agree the signs are offensive and should not be placed at these intersections. Your correspondence clearly states the concern; however, in community-initiated and government-response matters it is customary and prudent to require some sort of verifiable show-of-support, such as petition signatures. You may already have this information on record and need only send it to Mr. Mitchell.

If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me. However, my constituent's concern has been addressed, and I would now refer you to Councilman Himmelmann's Office.

Sincerely,

Edward P. Thomas

Councilman, District 10

I then wrote a letter to the traffic engineer. Here it is:

Denver, Colorado

May 20, 1996

City Traffic Engineer
Department of Public Works, Transportation Division
City and County of Denver
Denver, Colorado

Dear Mr. Mitchell:

On May 17, 1996, I received a fax from Councilman Ed Thomas. His letter indicated that you would be willing to take down all of the "blind crossing" signs at the intersections earlier identified. He further stated that you would, however, need a showing of support for such action from the blind community.

We are happy to provide you with such a showing of support. On Saturday, May 18, the National Federation of the Blind of Denver held its regular monthly meeting, and at that meeting over sixty people signed the enclosed petition. Only approximately five of those signing were not blind or visually impaired. We hope that this strong showing at such short notice will provide ample evidence that blind members of our community greatly desire that the signs be removed.

We greatly appreciate your willingness to review this issue and your effort to understand our point of view. We certainly have no problem with the city's placing a "yield to pedestrian" sign at Mississippi and Broadway. We share your belief that that intersection is more dangerous than the others because of the high volume of turning traffic, but we are pleased to know that you understand our position that the intersection is no more dangerous for the blind than for other pedestrians.

We assure you that the city does not incur greater liability by not placing "blind crossing" signs at various intersections. The fact is that no one can make the world completely safe for everyone. Blindness in and of itself does not make a person any less or more safe. A careless blind person just like a careless sighted person faces great risk when crossing a street. Similarly, blind and sighted pedestrians are equally vulnerable to a careless driver who pays no heed to pedestrians.

Thank you very much for your prompt attention to this matter. We are very glad that you have carefully considered this issue and can now understand our point of view. Working with understanding and perceptive public officials helps us to change what it means to be blind for the better. Please let us know if you need any additional information. We would be curious to know when we can anticipate the various signs being taken down.

Cordially yours, Scott C. LaBarre, Esq.
Director of Advocacy Affairs
National Federation of the Blind of Colorado

One would expect the story to end here, except for one thing. Even though it took only the pleas of Ms. Guenther to have the signs installed, it took a petition with nearly seventy signatures to eradicate the signs. In addition, Ms. Guenther was not yet done with her commentary. When she discovered that the city intended to remove the signs, she wrote one last letter expressing her great concern for the blind and threatening Denver officials and "blind associations" with every serious consequence she could dream up. This is what she said:

Littleton, Colorado

May 15, 1996

Colorado Department of Transportation
Denver, Colorado
Attention: Brian L. McMitchell, Traffic Operations Engineer

Re: Blind Pedestrian Signs at Broadway Intersections

Dear Brian:

As you may recall, I am one of the citizens, along with others and business owners, who had contacted the Department of Transportation over the past months regarding the placement of blind pedestrian signs at the various intersections along Broadway. It has come to my attention that the National Federation of the Blind has recently requested that these signs be removed.

I know that often such requests by the general public are viewed with distaste by various blind groups. They consider the posting of such signs as an affront to their independence, ability, and their need to assimilate into everyday society. Let me assure you my request to post the signs on Broadway was well thought out and comes not out of pity for the "helpless blind pedestrian," or an attempt to stigmatize the blind--but rather out of the respect that I have gained for them and a desire to further facilitate their efforts to merge into society, balanced with a duty to consider the overall interests of the rest of the public at large.

Bear with me while I elaborate on three such individuals I have had the wonderful privilege to have met in my lifetime.

First, as a freshman in college many years ago, I had a blind professor who taught social psychology. She was a talented and inspirational mentor and provided terrific insight to young people as to the needs of the blind. She was also warm and encouraging to those who offered to assist her in facilitating the class.

Next, while performing volunteer work for the Denver Victims Center, I had an opportunity to train for my volunteer position with a blind counterpart. I found her very anxious to allow others to facilitate her needs, while teaching us how not to assume her needs, nor be condescending in our approach. Again, she taught us what a vital and valued member of the community any handicapped person can be.

Lastly, while working with a state administrator, I met a man who had invented a device that would scan book pages, and magnify the print onto a television device--so the sight-impaired could continue to read. As he told us about his invention, it was clear that he did not create it for its revenue potential, but for his mother--who was nearly blind and loved to read. He did it to help facilitate her needs--and to improve the quality of her life. In essence, he did it out of love and respect for the sight-impaired.

In short, by no means were the concerned citizens nor the DOT, ignorant of the wishes of the blind population when discussions on the blind pedestrian signs erupted last fall. Many of us have had both personal interaction with the blind population as well as exposure to organizations for the blind.

The numerous experiences that I had last summer watching the blind cross Broadway were far less than inspirational. They were frightening. In my correspondence with you I'm sure I described the blind pedestrians as they crossed against the light, in front of six lanes of traffic, while drivers and sighted pedestrians watched in apprehension and dread. This situation occurred over and over again last summer, as I drove that route each day from Littleton to work to downtown. Perhaps some of these students had not mastered the skills required to maneuver through the intersection, but whatever the reason, these situations, consistently, exposed both the blind pedestrian and the motor vehicle operator to the ultimate price of a fatality.

It is my sincere intent to at least diminish this hazard to our blind population via the placement of the blind pedestrian signs. The act, in my opinion, is certainly not foundation for a battle of the wills but, rather, a time when all parties need to look open-mindedly at the safety and liabilities of everyone.

I can assure you, Brian, everyone that I talked to last fall at the Department of Transportation were well aware of the concerns of various associations for the blind. Each staff member reiterated to me the importance of the blind pedestrian relying on their own senses to cross through intersections. We agreed that audible signals were out of the question--as it would create just that false sense of security that could be hazardous. (However, in the neighboring jurisdiction of Ft. Collins they do have audible signals for the safety of blind pedestrians at intersections just north of the C.S.U. campus.)

Unlike what some cities in the nation use, the signs that we agreed to are caution-yellow, with only a single silhouette of a pedestrian with a white cane. There is no written verbiage that might be construed as a stigma to our blind population. Again, DOT was very aware and sensitive to the wishes of the blind federation from prior experience with that organization.

There is no evidence whatsoever that these simple signs disrupt the environment that the blind pedestrian still faces when they enter the Broadway intersections. The traffic lights are still engaged in directing the main flow of traffic. I drive through those very intersections every single morning and have not witnessed one driver stop, slow down, or look both ways before driving through a green light. It was never our intent to disrupt the flow of traffic--or the subtle sounds that flowing traffic makes--as we are aware that they are the exact tools that the blind pedestrian must follow in order to cross the intersection safely.

These innocuous signs were adopted specifically so as not to interfere with the learned skills of the blind pedestrian but would merely alert the motorist to add caution when crossing the intersection. It is simplistically no different than caution signs we would place to alert drivers to a railroad track, a pedestrian crossing, a school zone (where we even require drivers to reduce speeds), or a deaf child. Unfortunately, in the hurried rush of our lifestyles today, we drivers must be reminded of our duties to use extra caution while driving.

I am currently celebrating my eighteenth year in the insurance industry, and I would be remiss if I didn't remind all parties involved in this issue of the liability that faces the driver of a vehicle that may strike one of these pedestrians. On a microscopic scale the driver could be found liable and either pay astronomical medical bills through their insurance carrier or, if uninsured, could face personal financial disaster.

In addition, the trauma that the driver faces when striking a pedestrian is enormous. I have personally been involved in cases of pedestrian fatalities and seen the psychological impact of depression and guilt on the driver and their family in the aftermath. All one has to do is watch the faces of the Gates employees standing on the corners of Broadway and Mississippi while blind pedestrians run, against the light, across six lanes traffic, to imagine all of the tens of other witnesses that stand to be affected by just one incident of this nature.

On a more macro scale is the cost of these types of insurance claims, the court costs, legal fees, and the large insurance settlements that are associated with them. All of these costs are reflected in inflated insurance premiums for Coloradans.

But the greatest cost of all is the loss or additional handicap of a viable member of our blind community and the lost contributions they might have made. I am very concerned for my blind friends that in our rush to integrate our blind populations that we are willing to compromise their safety, as well as the financial and emotional security of the rest of the community.

On an even broader scale are the liability ramifications for the city and the blind associations if the signs are removed. They were posted to assist in the safety of the blind pedestrian and the motorist. Once removed, it is very reasonable that legal counsel could argue the liability of the city and/or the blind associations for removing one of the safety mechanisms that may have prevented the incident from occurring--thus leaving the city and/or association appearing culpable in a fatality.

As we look around us, in just a few short years we have made tremendous strides for our handicapped population in this country. We have placed numbers in Braille on our elevators, restructured sidewalks to accommodate those in wheelchairs, upgraded parking spaces, provided handrails--and other accommodations too numerous to mention--all acts of helping to facilitate the integration of the handicapped into day-to-day society. As I travel to foreign countries who lack many of these advancements, I am reminded of our progress and am extremely proud of this country's, and Colorado's contribution to improve the quality of life and the right of all of our handicapped. What may have been forgotten is that it is not only the blind population that have fought for these changes, but the sighted community members and concerned legislative bodies as well.

I am very saddened by those blind associations who may still believe that all of us out here are ignorant and afraid of all blind people or that we are insensitive to their needs. I invite members of associations such as the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado to my children's elementary school to help our children to learn of the abilities and achievements of our blind, rather than to promote what they still perceive to be ignorance and fear of this impairment.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration to this issue, Brian. I'm confident that the Transportation Division will give fair consideration to the overall impact on the community of this sign-removal issue. I hope you will contact me if I might answer any further questions for you on this topic.

Sincerely,

Sonja J. Guenther

Ms. Guenther's letter speaks for itself. However, some of her factual statements do not ring true. I have crossed with our students at the very intersection she mentions on countless occasions. I have never observed our students wildly and recklessly crossing against the light. If anything, we often have to encourage our students to move more quickly across the six lanes of traffic so that they reach the opposite side before the end of the green light. When students first come to our Center, they are often fearful of travel and move a mite more slowly and cautiously than is advisable. Usually, after growing comfortable with cane travel, our students assume normal walking speeds.

It is also interesting to note that the Federation, according to Ms. Guenther, could be legally liable if an accident occurs after removal of the signs. She implies that we take the safety of the blind too lightly and thereby needlessly risk the lives of our students. Again, I must state that Ms. Guenther has never contacted us directly to discuss the true safety needs of the blind. Of course we are concerned with safety. We review basic safety rules with our students over and over again precisely because we want them to be safe. Our students do not travel independently until their instructors believe that they are capable of doing so.

The events surrounding this story go to prove that the blind have not yet come all the way to first-class citizenship in this country. Many people still prefer to believe that the blind face higher levels of danger when simply crossing the street. Ms. Guenther's prejudices are clear as early as her first letter. She characterizes the blind students as "trying to cross the street." She goes on to describe them as having "only their canes and their other senses" with which to do the job, and she then depicts the blind as feeling their way around an idling vehicle parked across the sidewalk and "straining to listen for the traffic before working their way across the intersection." These descriptions make clear that this woman filters her observations through her strong prejudice that alternative techniques are stressful and inferior. The irrefutable fact is that not a single one of our students ever had an accident before, during, or after the installation of the "blind crossing" signs. Whether Ms. Guenther agrees or not, calling special attention to the safety of blind pedestrians only confirms society's general belief that the blind are less safe than other pedestrians. The part of society most concerned about the safety of the blind is, of course, the blind themselves. We were not the ones who petitioned for these safety signs. Fortunately, city officials ultimately listened to the blind community and responded positively to our views about our safety.

On many occasions people ask why I give so much time to the National Federation of the Blind. The answer is simple: together we are far stronger than any one of us is alone. Without the collective work of the Denver Chapter, the "blind crossing" signs would still be standing along South Broadway. This incident gave us the opportunity to educate many people and spread a positive message about blind people. The objections of one individual blind person would more than likely have fallen upon deaf ears, but our collective and strong voice allowed us to set the tone concerning blindness in this City. Although the safety issue still looms as a major barrier blocking our path to true equality in our land, actions like those we took here in Denver will help us climb the remaining stairs to full, first-class citizenship.

 

A Perspective on Braille Unification

by Joseph E. Sullivan

From the Editor: Joseph Sullivan is President of Duxbury Systems, Inc. and Chairman of Committee II of the Unified Braille Code Research Project of the International Council on English Braille. The following paper was delivered at the tenth World Conference of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment, August, 1997 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Since 1992, or over five years ago as I write this, there has been a project underway to research and develop a Unified Braille Code (UBC) for English speakers. Initiated by the Braille Authority of North America (BANA), the UBC Research Project originally centered on the concept of a single Braille code for literary, mathematical, and computer-related notation, replacing the three distinct codes now defined by BANA for those purposes. The project was later adopted by the International Council on English Braille (ICEB), at which point unification took on the added meaning of bringing together not only BANA's codes but also the very different technical codes that are used in the United Kingdom and many other English-speaking areas. In all, if UBC's goals are realized, some five major Braille codes stand to be unified--actually more than that, if various local variations and extensions of those five are counted separately.

I have been an enthusiastic participant in the UBC project since its beginning and remain so. From that experience I have drawn certain conclusions that I think may apply to Braille unification studies generally and which I will present here. The reader should of course regard these conclusions as my own opinions, not necessarily shared by all my fellow laborers for the UBC cause.

Having given that customary disclaimer, I will venture an observation that I very much doubt will raise any disagreement-- namely that any proposal for substantial Braille unification, no matter how carefully drafted and no matter how deeply appealing it may be to some people, will at the same time be thoroughly abhorrent to other people. Of course, this is partly due to the natural resistance we humans all have to any kind of change, but that is not my main point. I believe that it is also a direct consequence of the fact that no Braille code--or any kind of code, for that matter--can be equally good for all the various purposes that may be envisioned for it; and different people typically have different kinds and levels of interest in those various purposes.

For example, a computer programmer will naturally be concerned about the efficiency and clarity with which typical program source text is transcribed, whereas a history teacher may care little about computer programs but will want to be sure that ordinary prose is simple as well as clear. While it is possible to satisfy both needs up to a point, it is not possible to optimize either one without detriment to the other. In that simple fact lie the seeds of dissatisfaction -- especially for those people already accustomed to the efficiencies offered by the current technical codes, which were consciously designed for their respective special purposes.

Given this reality, we might first ask: Why pursue Braille unification at all? The main reasons are given in the paper presented to BANA by Drs. Cranmer and Nemeth [Cranmer & Nemeth 1991], which was the catalyst for BANA's original launching of the UBC project. In it the authors first note that the conditions under which the current Braille codes were designed have changed. Blind people no longer study and work in relatively isolated spheres but rather in the mainstream, constantly sharing interests and communications with their sighted colleagues. And at the same time, in literature various types of technical notation are increasingly likely to be found mixed in with other types and in general prose.

From these observations the authors go on to argue convincingly that using separate codes for literary and technical purposes causes undue difficulty: first, in learning Braille; second, in reading or writing with precision; and third, in the economics of conversion between print and Braille. To illustrate all those points, they use the example of the dollar sign ($), which has a different representation in each of the three BANA codes. I particularly like that example because it is a reminder that the production of Braille under a multiple-code system requires the making of fine distinctions--such as between dollar signs that are literary and those that are in computer notation. Such distinctions can be difficult for human transcribers and even more difficult for computer programs used for automatic transcription. That makes transcription cost more $$$--no matter how you write the dollar signs! In the context of limited budgets for Braille production, that is to say in the real world, that means there is simply less Braille produced.

So the motivation for UBC was easily established and broadly accepted. From there the overall project goals could be enumerated: (1) UBC is to be based on the traditional 6-dot cell. (2) UBC is to encompass literary notation and to retain grade-1 and grade-2 English Braille as it is already defined, with no major changes. (3) UBC is also to encompass the notation for mathematics, computer programming, and related scientific and engineering disciplines in a single coherent and extensible system. Symbols learned at earlier stages remain the same even in advanced technical text, so that one need learn only specifically new symbols and meanings in the same way as the print reader, not a whole new code. (4) While UBC is envisioned as supplanting only English codes (except for Music Braille, which is not affected), the design process is to consider all currently used Braille codes, so as to avoid any proliferation of unnecessary differences. (5) While remaining "readable," UBC is to convey symbols unambiguously, without reliance on meaning, thereby enabling precise understanding and communication and also simplifying automated conversion in either direction. (6) UBC is to be usable by both beginners and advanced users.

These goals, which I have slightly re-stated and re-ordered, have generally been seen as derived from the overall concept of unification along with a common-sense desire not to discard what is good from the current system--including literary works already in Braille and the hard-won skills of current Braille readers. As such, these goals are broad enough to be generally regarded as desirable and so have not been particularly controversial. But as a committee has worked towards those goals, following standard debating and voting procedures, the resulting concrete preliminary proposal [ICEB 95] has indeed sparked controversy. It seems that with UBC, as with many other things in life, the old saying applies: "The devil is in the details."

For in one way or another the source of the controversy comes down to one issue: the varying interpretations and degrees of importance that different people attribute to each of the project goals. For example, some people regard retention of the current grade-2 system as an absolute requirement so that not even a few of the 189 contractions should be modified or dropped in order to remove ambiguities. Quite early the UBC design committee recognized that each of the project goals, even the rather central one calling for nonambiguity, had to be regarded constructively rather than absolutely, if the work was even to be possible. But not everyone sees it that way.

Some of the more interesting and important examples of this effect are implicit in the last of the stated goals: "UBC is to be usable by both beginners and advanced users." As in other respects, the design committee believes that it has met both parts of this goal, having provided for technical symbology that is typical of very advanced levels of study, but in a way that remains consistent from the earliest stages of reading. However, the committee has also felt it necessary to consider the other stated goals and also where the greatest needs lie--that is, where the most people will be using the code most of the time. It may be said that such considerations have caused the committee to lean, where it was necessary to lean one way or the other, more towards the beginners or, more precisely, towards general readers and learners, rather than towards the experienced professionals in advanced subjects.

An example may help clarify the kind of leaning that I am talking about. In many kinds of mathematical and scientific notation, including chemistry as one obvious example, numbers that immediately follow letters are quite likely to be in the subscript position. For that reason, existing Braille codes that are designed for technical notation tend to optimize for that case. In BANA's mathematics code (Nemeth code), for instance, numbers written immediately after letters, without any intervening indicator, are implicitly in the subscript position. That of course means that a special indicator is needed to represent digits that are directly in line with preceding letters--such as in catalog part numbers and similar designations that are common in literary context. In order to keep things simple and to keep faith with both kinds of notation and the other project goals, UBC in its current (and not necessarily final) proposal requires an explicit subscript indicator in all cases where a subscript is used, even in cases where practically every number is a subscript, as in a chemical equation.

The simplicity and consistency of that approach appeals to many people, because it means that the occasional chemical formula, which we all encounter in all kinds of contexts, is easily and accurately readable without any new learning. It also fosters learning, especially at the early stages, even about chemistry, because the student using Braille need not cope with some new way of understanding the notation itself. Rather, just like the student using print, his essential task will be to learn the subject matter that is the meaning behind the notation. But predictably--and understandably--those people who regard chemistry as their life's work are less enthusiastic about the prospect of writing and reading what they perceive to be great numbers of subscript indicators in chemical formulae, all just to avoid what they perceive to be relatively few indicators in catalog part numbers. Such perceptions, incidentally, may or may not be accurate in a given case--we humans are notoriously prone to a lot of subjective skew when it comes to estimating statistics--but in any event it is perceptions that matter when it comes to making judgments.

So does this mean that UBC has reached an inherent contradiction, a dead end from which there is no escape? Not at all, in my opinion, but it does mean that we may have to be clearer about some of the limitations that any practical UBC is likely to have, as well as its benefits--not to oversell the concept, in other words, lest we unconsciously encourage expectations that are unlikely to be met. In particular we may need to contemplate the possibility that UBC may not totally eliminate all private and otherwise specialized Braille codes. Rather I believe that UBC will become the broad-spectrum publishing code that everyone will be able to read and write for just about every purpose, even if it is not necessarily what a professional always uses for private notes and direct notational work in his own specialty. By thus occupying more of the ground, so to speak, UBC will mean that other Braille codes are likely to be even more specialized than they are now, but not eliminated altogether.

We should not be surprised, for instance, to see a chemistry specialist's code evolve that takes full advantage of the bias towards subscripts and other predictable attributes of chemical formulae, in other words is optimized so that the balancing of a chemical equation can be carried out without working around indicators that are really there for the benefit of other disciplines and the wider world. No doubt some such specialist's codes will start out simply as private codes, and no doubt they will borrow much from current specialty codes. But also, as I hope and expect will happen as UBC becomes established, specialty codes are likely to borrow a great deal from UBC itself, that is, to remain as compatible with regular UBC as is consistent with the specialty discipline's needs. In a sense they may thus be regarded as variant extensions to UBC rather than as contradictory codes.

In fact the current UBC proposal can be said to anticipate and enable such a trend. It is not hard to imagine that most users will simply omit most grade-1 indicators from their private notes, for instance, thereby working in an instantly available shorthand. Furthermore, one aspect of the current proposal, called the Alignment Mode, may even be regarded as the first of the compatible specialty codes--designed as it is to permit efficiency when manually carrying out aligned arithmetic operations on hexadecimal numbers (something that computer programmers may occasionally do, though not very commonly in my experience). When you think of it, even grade-2 can be considered a kind of specialty code--optimized only for nontechnical prose - -but where the specialty notation is so often of interest to so many people that UBC already provides for it.

It may seem shocking to be expecting, even planning for, the continued existence of specialty codes while at the same time working towards a unified code. But it need not surprise us at all, if we consider what happens in practically all walks of life for users of print as well as users of Braille. When writing notes that are only for one's own later reference, how much do any of us pay any attention to the rules of capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and grammar that normally apply to published writing? Very little, if my own notes in preparation for this paper are as typical as I believe them to be. Ad-hoc shortcuts of all kinds abound, flowing naturally from the writer's own familiarity with the subject matter. While such private codes usually remain informal and peculiar to the individual, there are similar though more formalized codes that tend to evolve for the use of larger groups.

Examples would be the shorthand notations for chess moves and knitting instructions that are used by and for people who are already knowledgeable in those subjects. The tendency to create such shorthands is a natural one and need not be feared or forbidden or controlled. It arises from the desire to be very efficient, one may even say focused, when working exclusively in a relatively narrow and well-known subject. In such cases the strongly constrained context allows efficiencies that are simply impossible to match in a broader notation system, so a specialty code is born. This tendency is the same for Braille, although the break-points where specialty codes arise are not necessarily the same, for the simple reason that the mechanics--the size of the basic characters, and their more limited number--are different. In any case, any additional learning or other complexities associated with a specialty code will be experienced mainly by persons already skilled and actively working in that specialty, and common sense suggests that those are the very people who are the most able as well as the most motivated to deal with those complexities.

This is by no means a forecast that specialty codes will become so numerous or extensively used that the situation will be worse than at present. On the contrary, the broad expressiveness of UBC is bound to reduce their use to cases where the need for special efficiency is strongly felt, and those are not likely to be common. And the initial estimates on the efficiency of UBC itself are surprisingly encouraging--for sufficiently large samples, it should not be very different from that of today's Braille codes.

In summary, UBC itself is not an absolute, any more than any of its individual goals. It will not solve all problems or cause all specialty codes to disappear. But it will still bring about enormous improvements in the production and use of Braille, and that is well worth doing.

References:

[Cranmer & Nemeth 1991] Drs. T. V. Cranmer and Abraham Nemeth, "A
Uniform Braille Code," memo to the members of the BANA Board dated January
15, 1991; archived on the World Wide Web at either of the URLs:

http://www.nfb.org
http://world.std.com/~duxbury/cranem.html

[ICEB 95] International Council on English Braille, Unified Braille Code Research Project, Objective II: Extension of the Base Code Report by the Objective II Committee; March 1995;archived on the World Wide Web at URL:

http://world.std.com/~duxbury/ubc.html

 

Floral Designer in Training

by Ladonna Jean Whitt

From the Editor: One of the most exciting truths about membership in the National Federation of the Blind is that one's notions about what is possible for blind people to accomplish are always expanding. I have always felt insecure and vaguely apologetic about flower arranging. When I give a dinner party, I mentally pull up my socks and tackle the cut flowers with the desperate hope that I will not disgrace myself with the centerpiece. Without considering the matter very deeply, I have always assumed that a blind person could not be expected to do very well with creating a group of flowers in a visually pleasing way. I humbly stand corrected. Moreover, I have just expanded my garden for next season and have made a solemn vow to master the art of flower arranging. The following article will explain my enthusiasm. Here is Ladonna Jean Whitt, a floricultural technician in the Division of Horticultural Technologies, which is part of the Agricultural Technical Institute, at Ohio State University. She will introduce you to Diane Johnson. This is what she says:

Let me introduce you to Mrs. Diane Johnson, a non-traditional student at Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI). Diane is not only a student but also a wife and mother of four who is a part-time employee. In addition to this, somehow she finds time to serve as the President of Phi Theta Kappa (an honorary organization)and the FTD Club (a student floral club).

Diane is following a lifelong dream to be a floral designer. She told me she has had a passion for flowers since she was a child. Like other non-traditional students, Diane was concerned about how well she would do returning to school as an adult. Would she be able to find her way around this large college? Diane's determination to succeed in floral art was backed with encouragement from friends and family. The only unique thing in this situation is that Diane is legally blind with only a small amount of vision. Applying her ingenuity, she is learning to design floral displays with non-visual techniques.

Basically Diane designs fresh and silk arrangements by seeing with her hands. If you watch her design, you can see her hands float in and around the flowers, her fingers feeling the textures, shapes, and forms. It is wonderful to watch her in the creative design process.

As summer begins, Diane is ending her first year at Ohio State ATI. She recently completed the required ten-week internship at a local flower shop, where she worked 400 hours (forty hours per week). To find a shop that would accept her as an intern, Diane went to every flower shop in town--not once, but twice, and sometimes more. She ran into so many "no's" that she decided she would offer to work without pay for two days before asking the flower shop to pass judgment on her ability. Her perseverance paid off. One employer agreed to give her a chance. Diane was hired as an intern.

I am Ladonna Whitt, a floricultural technician in the Horticultural Technologies Division at Ohio State ATI in Wooster, Ohio. Working with Diane during her first and second quarter was a real pleasure. Diane convinced me that she could do floral design within the first week. I had no problem understanding Diane; what I had a problem with was the number of people who told Diane and me that she had an unrealistic goal. I had seen what she could do.

When we were thinking through the alternative techniques Diane would use in place of the usual sighted techniques, I called Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB) at the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, 800-638-7518. Several good ideas came out of that long-distance brainstorming session with JOB director Lorraine Rovig.

What Diane and I did was to start off with a Brailled color wheel that we made together. She continually went over the color wheel to memorize the primary and secondary colors. Next she listened to the lecture on color which explained about complementary, split complementary, and analogous colors. With this as the background, she added a mathematical system to put it all together. Then she labeled her flower bins for the flowers sorted for her by her sighted co-workers. With this method she knows exactly what effect she is creating in her pieces. Some of these pieces were so large that the tallest flowers or accent foliage were above her head when displayed on an appropriate table or sideboard.

Diane said she continually goes over the color wheel to ensure that she is error-free in her choices. Mixing colors together for the arrangements is a real challenge since she has never seen color. A co-worker takes a few minutes at the beginning of Diane's shift to tell her the colors of the flowers; then she chooses the ones she wants to use.

Diane has discovered that she can move easily around the flower shop and classroom. Dealing with her co-workers and the public is not a problem either. Her caring personality, willingness to learn, and sense of humor make everyone feel comfortable around her. Diane has found that her employer and fellow employees can work together with her to develop a system in the shop to deal with her disability. Her boss and co-workers have discovered that the things they do to help her cost them very little in time or effort. I'm delighted to report that Diane's employer was so impressed by her floral designing that she offered her a job after Diane completed her internship. After three quarters Diane is already a success in her field of study.

Diane's career choice proved to be appropriate for her. She and I give you this story because Diane hopes it will encourage other visually impaired or blind persons to follow their dreams in any field. Currently Diane works part-time for Green Thumb Floral in Wooster, Ohio, and she continues to take classes toward her degree. As much as her time allows, she has offered to correspond with others who would like to know about her alternative techniques for floral design. Please ask Miss Rovig, director of Job Opportunities for the Blind, for contact information--(800) 638-7518.

 

Life Insurance

Life insurance constitutes a very special gift to the National Federation of the Blind. A relatively easy and direct form of planned giving is a new life insurance policy. You can make the NFB the beneficiary and owner of a life insurance policy and receive a tax deduction on the premium you pay.

For example, at age fifty you purchase a $10,000 whole life insurance policy on yourself and designate the NFB as beneficiary and owner of the policy. The premium cost to you is fully tax-deductible each year. You may even decide to pay for the entire policy over a specific period of time, perhaps ten years. This increases your tax deduction each year over the ten-year period and fully pays up your policy.

You may, however, already have a life insurance policy in existence and wish to contribute it to the NFB. By changing the beneficiary and owner to the National Federation of the Blind, you can receive tax savings, depending on the cash value of the policy. Your attorney, insurance agent, or the National Federation of the Blind will be able to assist you if you decide to include the NFB in your planned-giving program through life insurance. For more information contact the National Federation of the Blind, Special Gifts, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998, phone (410) 659-9314, fax (410) 685-5653.

 

American Library Association Honors Senator John Chafee

From the Editor: On Monday, June 30, 1997, the American Library Association presented its Francis Joseph Campbell Award for distinguished service to blind and physically handicapped library patrons to Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island. This award was instituted in 1966, and Dr. Kenneth Jernigan was its second recipient. Senator Chafee was unable to be present for the award ceremony in San Francisco, but he addressed the ALA convention audience by videotape. This is what he said:

I am delighted to receive the American Library Association's Francis Joseph Campbell Award, and I want to thank you very much for it. This is a tremendous honor, and I regret that I can't be there with you personally this evening. Standing for me to receive this wonderful award is Barbara Weaver. She's the director of the Department of Library Services in my home state of Rhode Island. Barbara's department has special meaning for me because I established that department during the time that I was governor. I know you're in good hands with Barbara.

Last year I was delighted to lead the effort to amend the Copyright Act so that copies of published works could be made into Braille or special recorded format for exclusive use by blind individuals without delay--that's a key thing, without delay. Neal Kelly from the Illinois State Libraries asked me to spend a few moments this evening describing to you how I became interested in this matter.

It is really quite a simple story, and it does illustrate the important role that you as constituents can play in the legislative process. Every February, year after year, Ed Beck, a blind senior citizen and longtime friend of mine from Rhode Island, comes to Washington for the legislative meeting of the National Federation of the Blind. As part of his trip he visits my office as he does the offices of other members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation. He always has a list of the Federation's legislative priorities, and he spends the time with me or with my staff discussing these priorities. In 1996 Ed had on his list the need to amend the Copyright Act in order to reflect an agreement that had been worked out by individuals representing the blind on one hand and the publishers on the other.

I learned from Ed and from others who rely on recorded books that it often took the Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, more than a year just to get permission to begin producing recorded or Braille copies of books and other published works. I also learned that the Library didn't pursue permission to reproduce publications that needed the approval of a whole group of copyright holders such as anthologies of poetry or collections of essays or short stories. This means that, at best, blind individuals across the country didn't have access to current publications (at least they were delayed) and, at worst, the law was effectively censoring reading material for blind people.

Now how did this happen? As many of you know, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped was created by an act of Congress many years ago, in 1931. At that time government agencies and private entities were required to obtain permission from the holder of the copyright before they could produce copies in Braille or recorded format. Now why did this provision come about? It came about in order to protect the rights of the copyright holder by preventing pirating and other forms of copying. Since the enactment of the original law sixty-five years ago, there certainly hasn't been a rash of piracy caused by Braille and specially recorded books. So there's no need for this requirement to obtain permission from the holder of the copyright.

No one knows better than you that we are in the midst of an information revolution. Just in the past few years the ways in which we find information and the amount of time in which we expect to obtain it have changed dramatically. Yet for individuals who happen to be blind, access to immediate information was restricted by law. That seemed to me to be fundamentally unfair and counterproductive. Fortunately, Ambassador Nicholas Veliotes, representing the Association of American Publishers, and Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, a past recipient of the Francis Joseph Campbell Award, representing the blind, were able to come to an agreement. Now this agreement worked out a system of amending the Copyright Act and still protecting the rights of copyright holders. They brought their proposal to Congress, and they did this by testifying before a House committee and through able messengers like Ed Beck as I previously mentioned.

In the end the House included the Veliotes-Jernigan agreement in a bill that was otherwise controversial for reasons unassociated with the Veliotes-Jernigan agreement. The Copyright Amendment pertaining to books for the blind had not yet been introduced in the Senate. I was surprised at that. I soon learned most of my Senate colleagues simply weren't aware of the problem. I found an ally in a new Senator from Kansas, Sheila Frahm. Sheila Frahm has a daughter who is blind, and she agreed to join with me in sponsoring the proposal. We sought out other Senators who eagerly joined us as cosponsors. For example, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, whose brother is blind, Mitch McConnell and Wendell Ford (both from Kentucky, home of the American Printing House for the Blind), and Larry Presler of South Dakota (a state with a surprisingly large number of blind individuals). We decided to attach our amendment to a legislative appropriations bill. Our amendment won unanimous approval in the Senate, was agreed to by the conference--that is the meeting between the House and the Senate--and was signed into law by the President on September 16, 1996, not quite a year ago. This took just two months from the time of introduction when I introduced it, to signing by the President. I doubt whether I will ever be able to match that speed record again.

I'm happy to say that this was the kind of proposal that everyone was in favor of, once they understood it. Now it's my hope that, as a result of its enactment, information is becoming more readily available to blind adults and children. Most of us take for granted our ability to browse through the neighborhood library or corner book store, searching for titles from the best seller list. For an estimated two million Americans who are blind or visually impaired, this sort of activity is impossible. For our nation's more than 54,000 blind elementary and secondary school students, there has been an even greater problem, which is this: maps and charts and graphs and illustrations that take up one page in a standard textbook require multiple pages in Braille or tactile graphics to convey the same information. All in all, it can take a full year to produce a Braille textbook. The added time consumed by printers' attempting to obtain permission from the publishers or authors made it certain that the blind student would not start school with the same textbooks as his or her sighted classmates. It is my sincere hope that my amendment has made a big improvement in the availability of up-to-date textbooks for students and information and just plain good books for blind people.

Thank you again for honoring me with this award. Francis Joseph Campbell devoted himself to improving the lives of other blind people by giving them the skills to become self-reliant. Hopefully my amendment is one more tool to be used in achieving this self-reliance. In closing I want to be sure to give special thanks to Dr. Jernigan and to Kurt Cylke, the Director of National Library Service, for nominating me for this important award. I'm deeply grateful, and I want to thank each and every one of you for this honor.

 

More Than a Question of Membership

by Barbara Pierce

Federationists will remember that in the fall of 1990 the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind expelled Jamal Mazrui, who was living in Massachusetts at the time. The charges dealt with disruptive tactics, attempting to incur organizational expenses without approval, and attacks on the organization and its leaders outside the organization. After a futile attempt to get the 1991 National Convention to reverse the Board's decision, Mazrui joined the American Council of the Blind--and there, apparently, the matter ended.

However, in the spring of 1997 Al Sten-Clanton (one of Mazrui's long-time friends) told President Maurer that Mazrui would like to apply for readmission. Sten-Clanton said that Mazrui had had a change of heart and wanted to come back.

Mazrui, along with Sten-Clanton and his wife, came to the National Center for the Blind on Saturday, May 24, 1997, to talk with President Maurer. This meeting resulted in the exchange of a series of letters and the ultimate agreement that Mazrui could apply for reinstatement to membership and that he would be accepted and welcomed.

The August, 1997, issue of The Braille Forum (a publication of the American Council of the Blind) carried an article by Mazrui, stating that he was a member of the American Council of the Blind. In view of the assertion in Mazrui's letter of May 28, 1997, to President Maurer that: "If accepted as a Federationist, I would resign as a member of the American Council of the Blind. . .," one must suppose that the Mazrui article was submitted to the ACB prior to his meeting with President Maurer and that the article was subsequently printed without his prior knowledge and consent. To presume anything else would be to impute to Mazrui not only a misrepresentation of the truth but also a pattern of behavior that could not be anything other than transparently counterproductive.

It is certainly true that members of the Federation can submit articles to any publication they like. It is also true that I don't know whether Mazrui's formal reinstatement has been accomplished. But the moral question is the same regardless of the technicality. He indicated in a letter of July 21, 1997, to Lloyd Rasmussen, who is one of the NFB of Maryland leaders, that he had been permitted to join and wanted to know the time and place of the next chapter meeting. Here are the pertinent letters between President Maurer and Mazrui. They do not so much deal with an individual as with patterns, with different behavior on the part of different people and organizations, with philosophy, and with morals:

Silver Spring, Maryland

May 28, 1997

Dear Mr. Maurer:

I appreciated the time and hospitality you shared with me and the Sten-Clantons last Saturday. Our discussion and the company of Federationists there confirmed my interest in being considered for membership in the National Federation of the Blind.

The Federation has inspired my thinking and action more than any other personal or political philosophy. I've participated in various consumer organizations over the years and found no other to be as much a force for good. Since I believe in concerted political action, I would like to participate in the organizational vehicle with the most promise for achieving social change. If accepted as a Federationist, I would resign as a member of the American Council of the Blind in order to better focus my energy.

In addition to the volunteer labor, financial support, and project leadership generally expected of members, contributions of mine to the Federation would hopefully include such things as government information, technology skills, and contacts with other consumers and professionals.

If you or other NFB officers wish to discuss any relevant issues about this application for membership, please feel free to call me. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Jamal Mazrui

Baltimore, Maryland

June 20, 1997

Dear Mr. Mazrui:

Quite some time ago Al Sten-Clanton told me that you would like to be reinstated as a member of the National Federation of the Blind. I told him that your actions at the time you left the Federation and subsequently were such that I doubted you would want to meet the conditions of membership, but he said he thought you had had a change of heart. Therefore, I told him that I would be glad to meet with you.

On Saturday, May 24, 1997, you and Mr. and Mrs. Sten-Clanton came to see me here at the National Center for the Blind. You said that you had participated in the activities of the American Council of the Blind and that you felt that it was not in the mainstream of progress in the blindness field. You said that you would like to rejoin the National Federation of the Blind, and I told you that I would bring the matter to the Board of Directors for their consideration.

Under date of May 28, 1997, you wrote to me formally asking that you be reinstated. You said that the Federation had inspired your thinking and action more than any other personal or political philosophy and that you had found no other organization to be as much a force for good.

I have now read and discussed your letter with the members of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind. They were sympathetic to your wish to be reinstated as a member of the Federation but wanted to be certain that such an action would likely bring a positive result, both for you and the organization. Specifically, they wanted me to ask whether you were willing to indicate in writing your intention to abide by the policies and Constitution of the National Federation of the Blind if reinstated. In that connection I call your attention to that portion of Article VI of the NFB Constitution which provides that no member may "indulge in attacks upon the officers, board members, leaders, or members of the Federation, or upon the organization itself outside of the organization." Article VI further provides that "The organization will not sanction or permit deliberate, sustained campaigns of internal organizational destruction by state affiliates, local chapters, or members."

Beyond that, the long-standing policy of the National Federation of the Blind is that policy decisions of the Federation are binding upon all members and that affiliates and members must participate affirmatively in carrying out such policy decisions.

My purpose in bringing these matters to your attention is not to be abrasive but the exact opposite. Before taking action, the Board and I want to be certain that you and we have the same understanding of basic issues. As you know, the Federation is the largest, the most inclusive, and the most open organization in the blindness field, but we believe that democracy cannot exist unless members are willing to abide by votes taken and policies made. We trust that you share these views.

As soon as I have your response, I will bring it to the National Board, and we will move with dispatch to take action. Meanwhile, I thank you for coming to see me, and I thank you for your letter.

Sincerely,

Marc Maurer, President

National Federation of the Blind

Silver Spring, Maryland

June 23, 1997

Dear Mr. Maurer:

Thank you for the content and tone of your June 20 letter, conveying that the NFB board is generally sympathetic to my application for membership, though it seeks clarification on my views of some organizational principles. This letter responds to that inquiry and in the same spirit highlights principles I trust the board also supports, in order that our understanding be common and productive. Though I would be but one of thousands of members, I believe my acceptance as one, having the same rights and responsibilities as any, would mean a positive result for me, for the Federation, and most important for the integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality.

Let me reassure the board that it is not my nature to engage in public attacks upon individuals or organizations even if I disagree strongly on an issue. I have learned that passion serves best as an engine of justice, and reason as a pilot of tactics. I have also sharpened my understanding of the distinction between advocacy inside and outside an organization I hold dear.

I trust that disagreement with an NFB leader or an exercise of internal appeal is not considered an attack by itself. Similarly, I trust that an internal-issue campaign--even one involving a persistent minority viewpoint--is not by itself considered a campaign of destruction or an unauthorized sub-organization.

In the unlikely event that a disagreement arises as to my adherence to NFB policy, I assume that disciplinary action would not be taken without prior good cause and good faith negotiations on the matters of contention. If such discussions occur and I understand that the board interprets a policy in a way I could not accept, I would probably resign as a member, concluding that sincere irreconcilable differences exist which make it better for me and the organization to simply go our separate ways without ill will.

Let me close by committing myself, if accepted as a Federationist, to the NFB Membership Pledge (as found in the 1996 convention program of the NFB of Massachusetts):

I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve Equality, Opportunity, and Security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its Constitution.

Sincerely yours,

Jamal Mazrui

P.S. I will try to attend the upcoming convention in New Orleans. If I do so as an NFB member, I would appreciate it if you could at some point make a public statement to that effect, thereby clarifying this status to Federationists there.

Baltimore, Maryland

July 10, 1997

Dear Mr. Mazrui:

The Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind has met and considered your letter of June 23, 1997, in which you reiterate your request that you be reinstated as a member of the National Federation of the Blind and pledge that you will abide by the policies and Constitution of the Federation if accepted. As you know, an individual becomes a member of the Federation by applying to a local chapter or state affiliate.

The National Board has decided as follows: Since you now live in Maryland, you are free to apply to any local Maryland chapter or to the state organization for admission to membership. You will be welcomed and will have all of the privileges and responsibilities of any other member, with the following stipulations and understandings:

You may not apply to the NFB of Massachusetts for membership or be accepted as a member by the NFB of Massachusetts without prior agreement by the National Board of Directors. There is too much residue from the past to make such an application anything other than a focal point of ill will and controversy.

If you wish to apply for membership to any Federation affiliate besides Maryland, there must be prior agreement by the National President. The Board feels that this will avoid possible misunderstanding and disharmony.

You will need to abide by the commitments you made in your letters of May 28, 1997, and June 23, 1997, and by the spirit and substance of the letter I sent you dated June 20, 1997. With particular respect to your June 23 letter, you need to understand that, if a disagreement arises between you and the Federation as to whether you have violated a policy of the Federation or the organization's Constitution, the Federation must have the final decision in the matter. This is true of any organization if it is to have meaning and integrity. For that matter, it is true for society as a whole.

I would hope that what I have said makes sense to you, and I tell you again that you will be welcome to come back to the Federation if you like. There is much to be done, and the Federation is the organization to do it.

Sincerely,

Marc Maurer, President

National Federation of the Blind

Here are Jamal Mazrui's and Lloyd Rasmussen's e-mail exchanges dated July 21 and July 23, 1997, respectively:

Mazrui: As you may know, the National board of the NFB has permitted me to rejoin the organization. Can you let me know of meeting times, locations, and dues of local chapters in Maryland?

Rasmussen: The chapter most convenient to you is the Sligo Creek Chapter, which covers Montgomery and northern Prince George's Counties. Dues are $4 per year, and we usually meet early in the afternoon of the second Saturday of each month. Normal meeting time is 1:00, but the location (one of the Montgomery County public libraries) is not quite pinned down for September through June. In August, on the 9th, we will be having a chapter picnic at the home of Frank Stark in Wheaton, starting I think at 2 or 3 p.m. I think you will find Sligo to be a good, mid-sized, active, and diverse chapter. The chapter president is Debbie Brown. You can also call Judy or me for more information.

We need a wide variety of members with different skills who are willing to work together in changing what it means to be blind and to bring fresh ideas to the cause. We look forward to seeing you participating in the NFB and its Sligo Creek Chapter.

 

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Dr. Wallace Schroeder
PHOTO/CAPTION: Fred Moore]

 

In Memoriam
Wallace Schroeder and Fred Moore

by Kenneth Jernigan

Fred Moore, long-time stalwart in the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, died October 6, 1996; and less than four months later, on February 3, 1997, he was followed in death by Dr. Wallace Schroeder, another long-time member and leader of the Iowa affiliate. It has now been several months since I heard the news of these sad events, and each time I have tried to write about them, I have had difficulty. The reason is probably tied up with the fact that these two, Dr. Schroeder and Fred Moore, symbolize for me in a very personal way my early days in Iowa and, to a great extent, my entire Iowa experience.

Ruth (Dr. Schroeder's wife--they were married in 1959) was one of the first people I met in 1958 when I came to Iowa to become Director of the State Commission for the Blind. She joined the Commission staff as a home teacher shortly after I got there and soon became the home economics teacher in the orientation center we established.

I remember a day in the summer of 1958 when I went to the home of Dr. H. F. Schluntz, whose wife was the sister of Ruth's late husband. Ruth was there, and so of course was Dr. Schroeder. Since Dr. Schluntz and Dr. Schroeder were both chiropractors, they had a common professional interest, but their relationship went far deeper than that. We had an afternoon of relaxation and really getting to know each other. It was probably my first intimate acquaintance with the Schroeders, and it led to a lifetime of mutual support and friendship.

Of course this article is meant to be about Dr. Schroeder, not Ruth. But how can I write about one without mentioning the other? They were and are inseparable in my memory. There is no way in the time and space allotted that I can paint the picture or draw the portrait.

The scenes and incidents flow together and blend: conversations with Ruth when we had no equipment for home economics and used an old laundry tub for washing dishes; dinners at the Schroeders' home; the afternoon Dr. Schroeder cooked a ham on his grill and we kept loading in charcoal when his back was turned; the gathering of the students at Christmastime to read the story that had become traditional; the staff meetings; the lunches in the home-ec department; and a thousand other things.

But none of these can capture the real essence of Dr. Schroeder as I knew him. He was quiet and undemonstrative, but he was unwavering and steady. When the insanity came in Iowa and long-time friends began to waffle and make excuses, Dr. Schroeder merely said: "I'll track with you all the way." And he did.

There is no reason for me to recount the events of my relationship with Dr. Schroeder and Ruth. Those who want to know such things can doubtless learn about them from others. Rather I want to underscore and emphasize the loyalty, the integrity, and the character of the Schroeders. And so, too, with Fred Moore. He was always quiet, always unassuming--but this did not mean that he was weak or uncommitted; for he was not. He was a man of great moral strength and deep conviction. And I never knew him to desert a cause or a friend.

And when I mention Fred, I must also mention Beulah, his devoted wife and companion, who survives him. In good times and bad, Beulah was as steadfast as Fred. She, too, was quiet and undemonstrative, a worthy partner in all that Fred did.

My daily association with Fred was less frequent and personal than my contact with the Schroeders, but it was no less rewarding. Fred was always there, always supportive--and I knew without asking that he could be counted on. As to standing firm when the going was rough, I suppose it never occurred to anybody (whether friend or foe) that Fred could be intimidated, flimflammed, or bullied. He knew what he believed, and he lived it. That was the end of the matter.

So these two are gone, Fred Moore and Dr. Schroeder--and with them part of the me that lived and worked and dreamed in Iowa. Perhaps that is what life is, a series of beginnings and endings. If so, the Iowa of the late `50's, the `60's, and the `70's should be characterized as one of the most rewarding of the episodes. A time to remember; a time to keep; a time to inspire for the future. And if it be so, Dr. Wallace Schroeder and Fred Moore are principal elements in the mix.

As I have already said, it has been difficult to write these words. Not because they are less deeply felt, but for the opposite reason. Dr. Schroeder and Fred, you are symbols of a time that is gone. May you also be symbols of a time at hand--when a new generation of the blind will enter a new century, inspired and uplifted by the hope and belief which you helped create, and which because of you and others like you will inevitably come true.

 

Recipes

This month's recipes come from the National Federation of the Blind's Music Division.

Skillet Beef and Noodle Dinner
by Linda Mentink

Linda Mentink lives in Wisconsin and serves as President of the NFB Music Division. She is a singer with several albums to her credit.

Ingredients:

2 cups (1/4 pound) wide noodles, cooked and drained
3 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 pound uncooked ground beef
1 cup diced carrots
2 1/4 cups (1 #2 can tomatoes)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcester sauce

Method: Scrape, dice, and cook carrots until tender-crisp. Set aside. In bacon drippings saute onion and celery about five minutes. Add ground beef, breaking up pieces with the back of the spoon. Cook, stirring until beef is done. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Serves six.

O'Henry Bars
by Linda Mentink

Ingredients:

1 cup melted butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 cups oatmeal

Method: Mix all ingredients well and press into a lightly-greased cookie sheet with sides. (Mine measures about 10 by 14 inches.) Bake at 350 degrees for ten to twelve minutes. Cool to room temperature. Pour over topping made of one cup crunchy peanut butter and one cup chocolate chips melted and stirred together well. Spread topping and chill bars. Cut before serving.

$250 Cookies
by Mary Brunoli

Mary Brunoli is the First Vice President of the Music Division. She writes as follows:

My daughter and I had finished a salad at the Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas and decided to have a small dessert. Because our family are such cookie monsters, we decided to try the Neiman-Marcus cookie. It was so good that I asked if they would give me the recipe. The server said with a frown, "I'm afraid not."

"Well," I said, "Would you let me buy the recipe?" With a cute smile, she agreed.

I asked how much, and she responded, "Two fifty."

I said with approval, "Just add it to my tab."

Thirty days later I received my statement from Neiman-Marcus, and it was $285. I looked again and remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20 for a scarf. When I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said "Cookie recipe $250." Boy, was I upset. I called Neiman's accounting office and told them that I had understood the waitress to say the cost would be $2.50. I did not realize she meant $250 for the recipe. I asked them to take back the recipe and reduce my bill, but they said they were sorry, but all the recipes were that expensive so that not just anyone could duplicate the bakery recipes. The bill would stand.

I thought about how I could get even or try to get my money back. I just said, "okay, you folks got my $250, and now I'm going to have $250 worth of fun. I told the accountant that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover would have the $250 recipe from Neiman-Marcus for nothing. She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this."

I said, "I'm sorry, but this is the only way I feel I can get even, and I will." So here it is. Please enjoy it and pass it on to someone else. I paid for it; now you can have it for free.

Ingredients:

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups flour
5 cups blended oatmeal or quick oats
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons soda
24 ounces chocolate chips
1 8-ounce Hershey bar, grated
3 cups chopped nuts

Method: Measure oats and blend in a food processor to produce a fine powder. Cream butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar, and nuts.

Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for ten minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies (recipe may be halved).

Lemon-Dilly Sole
by Mary Brunoli

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped celery
1 cup herb seasoned stuffing mix
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound fillet of sole or other fish fillets (4 medium slices)
1/3 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon dill weed

Method: Melt 1/3 cup of butter over medium heat. Add celery and onion; saute until tender. Stir in stuffing mix, parsley, lemon juice, lemon peel, salt and pepper; set aside. Cut each fillet to make eight 3-by-4-inch fillet halves. Place four halves in ungreased 9-inch square baking pan. Top each with 1/4 cup stuffing mixture, then remaining filet halves. Melt another 1/3 cup butter; stir in dill weed. Pour dill-butter over fillets. Bake near center of 350-degree oven for twenty to thirty minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Spoon sauce over fillets. Return to oven for five minutes. Yields four servings.

Summer Squash Casserole
by Mary Brunoli

Ingredients:

6 cups summer or zucchini squash (or both)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can condensed cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 carrot, grated
1 small package herb stuffing
1/2 cup butter or margarine

Method: Boil squash and onions ten minutes, then drain. Mix soup and sour cream, and add grated carrot. Add squash and onion mixture. Mix stuffing with melted butter. Place half of mixture of crumbs in 13-by-9-inch pan. Add squash mixture and then add rest of bread crumbs on top. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes.

Crabmeat Quiche
by Mary Brunoli

Ingredients:

1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces king crabmeat
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons sherry
1 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 pound gruyere cheese, grated

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in pan; add crabmeat; sprinkle with paprika. Saute. Add sherry. Beat eggs in medium-to-large bowl. Add cream to eggs along with salt, pepper, and cheeses. Fold in crabmeat. Pour into pie shell. Bake till quiche is set.

Choco-Nut Dainties
by Mary Brunoli

Serve this log-shaped cookie with coffee as the perfect ending to a company dinner.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces
1 recipe chocolate coating, recipe below
2 cups chopped walnuts

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour and salt onto wax paper. Beat together margarine, sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well mixed. Blend in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate pieces. Shape dough on lightly floured surface into 2-inch logs 1/2-inch in diameter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for twelve to fifteen minutes, or until cookies are set. Cool on wire racks. Dip ends of cookies into chocolate coating; roll ends in chopped nuts. Place on wax paper until set.

Chocolate Coating

Melt together one 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces and 1/4 cup margarine in top of double boiler over hot water. Stir until blended and smooth. If mixture is too thick, add more margarine, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture is a good coating consistency.

 

Monitor Miniatures

New Audio-Described Tour:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Opened in late July, 1997, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, an audio-described tour of the permanent marine exhibit--Exploring Marine Ecosystems. This exhibit explores two marine ecosystems, a tropical coral reef and a temperate rocky shore--how you affect them and how they affect you. This is the first time a Smithsonian museum has offered this type of audio tour. The audio described tour has been developed to offer greater visual description, enhanced directions, and access to the exhibit text for a low vision and blind audience. The tour will be available daily to low vision and blind visitors. The tour will also be available to the general public.

Ten units with the audio-described tour and an accessible interface will be available at the iGo Interactive Audio Tour booth in the Museum's main rotunda on the first floor. For information and group tour reservations call 1-888-iGo-Tour.

The Museum welcomes visitors' comments on this new program. They can be forwarded to Jill Johnson, NMNH, MRC 101, 10th & Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20560. E-mail address: Johnson.Jill@NMNH.SI.edu

The Museum is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The closest Metro access stops are at Federal Triangle and Smithsonian, on the orange and blue lines. The Museum is located at 10th and Constitution Ave., NW.

New Jett Enterprises Catalog Now Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Available from September is the 1997, no-frills, free cassette or 3.5 inch diskette catalog. We offer over 300 products for everyday living and a collection of special gifts for all occasions. We have expanded our selection of products to include specific items that many of our customers have requested.

To request your free cassette or 3.5-inch diskette catalog, please call (960) 778-8280, fax (960) 320-4837, or write Jett Enterprises, 3140 Cambridge Court, Palm Springs, California 92264. If you are already on our mailing list, you automatically received our catalog in September. We do not ship outside the U.S. Please let us know if you have a change of address. We look forward to your call.

In Memoriam:

Harvey Heagy recently wrote sadly to say:

I am deeply saddened to report to you the death of longtime Federationist Linda Iverson on June 25, 1997. Some of you may know her as Linda Allumbough. Mrs. Iverson was in New Orleans for surgery and suffered a sudden massive heart attack during her recovery. She was living in Stuart, Florida, and is survived by her mother and her son Jonathan, sixteen. She was forty-nine at the time of her death. I was with her just a few hours before she died, and I can tell you that, even in her post-surgical pain, she carried herself with dignity, unselfishness, and grace. Linda was a very dear friend from elementary school days, and while I feel her loss very deeply, I am proud to have known her and feel myself to be a better person for it. She touched the lives of all who knew her, and she will be greatly missed.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Print/Braille books and cassette tapes for children between the ages of preschool and third grade are now available. I am selling the print and Braille books for $5 each and the cassette tapes for $2 each. Send cash or money orders only, please. To receive a list of available titles of cassettes and print/Braille books or to place orders, contact Mrs. Catherine Harris, 1528 Crawford Ave., Altoona, Pennsylvania 16602.

Happy Ending of an Interesting Beginning:

Both the March and June, 1997, issues of the Braille Monitor included exchanges of correspondence between Curtis Chong, President of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, and Robert Gotwals, whose organization has developed a Web Site designed to teach Braille to would-be Braille teachers and transcribers. Initial indications were that the material would be inaccessible to those unable to look at a computer screen. On June 18 Curtis Chong wrote an e-mail message to Mr. Gotwals communicating his pleasure at what he found when he went to the Web Site. This is what he wrote:

Time has finally permitted me to take a good look at http://www.shodor.org. Now that I have looked at the Braille Remote Learning section, I must compliment you and your colleagues for doing an excellent job making the material readable by and accessible to people with text-only browsers. Also your initial program announcement deserves commendation. I, for one, really appreciate the introductory paragraph, which reads:

. . .the Braille through Remote Learning program is designed to prepare sighted educators and current/future sighted Braille transcribers. All materials are accessible to both sighted and visually-impaired students. Text versions of graphics-based pages are available.

This makes it abundantly clear that the program, while intended for sighted Braille transcribers, is fully accessible to blind or visually impaired persons interested in perusing the material.

Congratulations on a job well done!

Chocolate Braille Greeting Cards:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Just in time for Christmas, Braille greeting cards in chocolate "Happy Birthday," "Thank You," "Season's Greetings," and more. $2.50 each, $3.25 with nuts. To place your order, call (1-800-669-6665).

New Speak to Me Catalog Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Give the gift that says something--Speak to Me will once again premier its Fall/Winter catalog featuring a large selection of Christmas gifts and holiday decorations. In addition to its selection of Christmas items, we will feature a section consisting of collectible products such as historical talking picture frames, Coke memorabilia, Looney Tunes collectibles, fine porcelain figurines, uniquely styled wall clocks, etc. Also, we offer many gift-giving items with a religious theme such as musical angels, talking serenity prayer key chain, musical plush animals, and porcelain figurines. There are plenty of children's items including talking dolls, singing and talking plush bears, singing toothbrushes, comb and brush sets, electronic talking teaching toys for kids of all ages, and kid-sized keyboards. We will always continue to offer those favorite unusual and wacky products such as talking key chains, talking spatulas, musical watches, talking magnets, talking theme mugs, unique music boxes, etc. Call Denise Russell at (800) 248-9965 for your free Fall/Winter 1997 Speak to Me Catalog. Request print, cassette, or disk.

Low-Interest Financing for Reading Machines:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Now available, low-interest financing on selected reading machines and adaptive computer systems with speech or Braille output. For the first time you can get a complete stand-alone reading machine for only $60 per month. Other reading machines are available with similarly comfortable terms. You can finance a complete accessible computer system at only 6 percent APR. Contact ShrinkWrap Computer Products, 11706 Saddle Crescent Circle, Oakton, Virginia 22124-2342, (800) 377-0774, e-mail: Shrink@Erols.com

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

For sale, TeleSensory Voyager CCTV that is semi-portable and has a sharp black and white image of fourteen inches. It has had little use, and I feel confident about selling it in such good condition.

Also for sale, MacIntosh Centris 610 with top-of-the-line voice and image-enlargement software, which make it fully accessible to blind or low-vision users. It also has a CD-ROM drive, 32-bit addressing, great sound, and Microsoft Word and Excel (among other things). It also has little use and works beautifully.

A twenty-one-inch Radius monitor is also for sale. It delivers a very sharp monochrome image and is compatible with any Mac or IBM or CCTV.

I am willing to sell these items for less than half their original value. Contact C.J. Sampson, 669 E. 800 N., Apt. N106, Provo, Utah 84606, (801) 342-9740.

In Memoriam:

At the July 1 meeting of the Board of Directors during this year's annual convention, everyone was deeply saddened to learn of the death the evening before of Federationist David Walker. David Stayer, one of the leaders of the NFB of New York and a close personal friend of David and Betty Walker, wrote the following letter to the Braille Monitor shortly after the convention:

On Monday, June 30, 1997, long-time Federationist David Walker lost his courageous fight against cancer. I first met David Walker in late 1977. We were delegates to the NFB of New York Board of Directors. We immediately became friends, and that friendship flourished. When David met Betty and their love became evident, I was overjoyed. I was honored to sing at their NFB wedding in Minneapolis on Wednesday, July 7, 1982. For many NFB conventions the Walker and Stayer families were seen together at evening activities, especially the banquets.

Although the Walkers moved from New York to Michigan and then to Missouri, our relationship continued to grow. David Walker continued to demonstrate through his daily activities and writings his total commitment to our movement. Less than one week before his death I spoke with him at the hospital. David talked about the upcoming NFB convention and wished our movement complete success. He knew his death was imminent. Betty had asked me if possible to attend his funeral and deliver a eulogy but stressed that David would have wanted me to stay at our convention. Lori and I stopped for a few minutes to attend the dance on Wednesday, July 2, 1997, but we found it impossible to stay since the Walkers were not with us. Every time I attend an NFB activity or function in the future, David Walker will be with me. His spirit and total commitment to our movement will help guide me in the years to come. I will miss him deeply, and so will all those who knew and loved him.

New URL for San Antonio Chapter:

Pete Donahue, Secretary of the Greater San Antonio Chapter of the NFB of Texas, reports that the group's World Wide Web Site has changed. Their URL is now http://alamo.digiweb.com/nfb

New Source of Recorded Books:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Naval Institute Press announces the launch of its audiobooks series "Now Hear This" with the production of two of the press's most popular books on tape: Cross the Line: A Bluejacket's World War II Odyssey by Professor Alvin Kernan and The Bridge at Dong Ha by John Grider Miller. Each includes a new introduction, one by Kernan reflecting on the overwhelming response he has had to the publication of his book, the other by the hero of Dong Ha, John Ripley, a now-retired Marine officer who has become a legend in the Corps. With approximately six hours of listening time, Kernan's Crossing the Line is an unabridged version of his book, recorded to fit on four 90-minute cassettes. The cost is $28.95. The Bridges is unabridged, fits on two 90-minute tapes, and costs $16.95. For further details about this new audio program, contact Susan Artigiani, Publicity Manager, (410) 295-1081, e-mail sartigiani@usni.org or write to Naval Institute Press, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5035, (410) 268-6110.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Blazie Type 'n Speak Notetaker, 3.5-inch disk drive, charger and headphones, no manuals included. Will accept best offer. Contact (no Braille please) Bryan Sattler, 131 Clayton Road, Schenectady, New York 12304, (518) 370-1773.

Attention Blind Vendors:

If you purchased a Discover Card talking credit card terminal and are willing to sell, give, or bequeath, please contact Don Morris at (301) 447-2795.

Used Braillers for Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Used Braille writers available. Need minor repair, asking $250 to $300. Contact Debby Smith at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, 200 Ivy Street, Brookline, Massachusetts 02146, (617) 732-0242, e-mail: mablind@tiac.net

Three Additional Jewish Magazines Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The library of the Jewish Braille Institute of America announces that three additional recorded magazines are available:

Commentary, an intellectual journal of Jewish concern, monthly;

Near East Report, a political journal, bi-weekly; and Sh'ma, a journal of the American Jewish experience, spanning religious, social, and political philosophy, bi-weekly. We also record Tikkun; Moment; Jewish Currents; Bridges; and, of course, our own publication, the JBI Voice.

If you would like to receive a free subscription to any of the above, call toll-free in the United States, (800) 433-1531. Ask for the library. It is not necessary to request magazines you are already receiving; they will automatically continue unless you instruct us otherwise. Magazines on cassettes need not be returned to us when you are finished reading them. You should begin to receive your first issues approximately four weeks from the time we receive your request.

Used Tandem Bicycles for Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I am an antique bicycle collector and am running out of storage space. I have ten tandems that I need to sell. I am selling them for my cost in order to make space. If you are interested in purchasing one, please call Neal Garrison at (217) 348-0615 or e-mail him at csnagl@eiu.edu

New Diabetes Publication Available:

We are pleased to make the following announcement:

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University is disseminating a new publication entitled Serving Individuals with Diabetes Who are Blind or Visually Impaired: A Resource Guide for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors. This publication was developed in collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind and contains a wide variety of resources on various diabetes publications, medications, and appliances, as well as Internet listservs and Web sites.

The Resource Guide is available in large print, Braille, audiocassette, or computer disk for $25. Orders and inquiries should be directed to Ms. Kelly Schaefer at (610) 325-8693.

Elected:

Sally York, Secretary of the Diabetes Action Network, a division of the National Federation of the Blind, reports the July election results. The new officers are Ed Bryant, President; Janet Lee, First Vice President; Sandie Addy, Second Vice President; Mary Hurt, Treasurer; and Sally York, Secretary. The Board members are Tom Ley and Eric Woods.

Choice Magazine Listening:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

If you miss the joy of reading magazines, You should know about Choice Magazine Listening, a bi-monthly free service providing eight hour audio tapes of magazine articles, literature, and poetry.

The unabridged articles come from more than 100 periodicals such as Smithsonian, The New Yorker, Atlantic, Time, Granta, House and Garden, New York Times, and National Geographic. You need the special National Library Service cassette player to listen to the 4-track tapes.

To obtain a free subscription and for information on how to order the free tape player, write to CML, Box TM, 85 Channel Drive, Port Washington, New York 11050. The e-mail address is NUCABD@hofstra.edu

Use the header "subscription" and include name, snail mail address, phone number, and whether the new subscriber already has a 4-track cassette player. (Or call [516] 883-8280, fax: [516] 944-6849.)

New Parenting Book Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Enjoy Successful Parenting: Practical Strategies for Parents of Children 2-12 is now available on cassette for busy parents. It is professionally narrated with secondary voices which add sparkle as they perform the brief dialogues illustrating important points throughout the audiobook. The author is Dr. Roger McIntire, father of three, who taught child psychology and principles of family counseling and therapy at the University of Maryland for thirty-two years. He is the author of seven books on parenting and child psychology. The audiobook contains four cassettes with a running time of approximately six hours. It is available through your bookstore or may be ordered directly from the publisher, Summit Crossroads Press, (800) 362-0985. The cost is $24.95. According to the Marketing Director, Federationists can expect a 55 percent discount.

Correspondence Wanted:

In mid-August Mr. Akram Bobokalonov, Chairman of the Society of the Blind and Handicapped in the Republic of Tajikistan, visited the National Center for the Blind to tour the facility and to discuss international matters with President Maurer. While there he expressed deep interest in inviting Americans to correspond with members of his organization and perhaps eventually become partners in joint events or projects of some kind. Those interested may write in either English or Russian. Letters must be in print so that they can be translated. Correspondence should be directed to the Society for the Blind and Handicapped, 71/48 Aini Street, Dushanbe, Republic of Tajikistan 734025.

Honored:

Sharon Maneki, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, writes to report that on March 12, 1997, Yasmin Reyazuddin received an award for leadership and academic excellence from the University of Maryland's Commission on Women's Issues. Yasmin is the energetic President of the NFB of Maryland's Student Division. She is a tireless advocate for improving student opportunities. She is also the Vice President of the Sligo Creek Chapter. We are proud that another organization has recognized Yasmin's talents.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

You can have a list of more than 100 mailing addresses of your favorite country artists for $20. Send your check or money order to Bruce Brooks, 135 Sherri Lane, Boyce, Louisiana 71409.

Also, air purifiers for sale for use in homes and businesses to fight allergies and health disabilities. For more information contact Bruce Brooks at the above address or call (800) 748-3228.

Elected:

Eric Clegg, former President of Sacramento's River City Chapter of the NFB of California, reports the chapter's August 2, 1997, election of new officers. They are Chris Foster, President; Bryan Bashin, Vice President; Raquel Gomez, Second Vice President; Ellen Paxson, Secretary; and Paul Carver, Treasurer. Board members are Doug Langley and Eric Clegg.

Special Issue of the Braille Mail Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Queensland Newspapers Ltd. and the Royal Blind Society of Queensland announce that a special issue of the Braille Mail, dealing exclusively with the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and its aftermath, will be produced in October, 1997.

While the September issue will contain much material about the matter, the special issue will be a larger volume circulated differently. The special issue of the Braille Mail will provide access in alternative formats to a sampling of the material being published about the life and times of the Princess of Wales. The Braille version of this special issue will be properly bound with soft covers as will the large print version. The audiotape version will be read by a professional announcer. Copies of this special issue of the Braille Mail may be ordered from the Royal Blind Society of Queensland Inc., 34 Cleveland Street, Stones Corner 4120 Australia. (In Australia) 07 3397 1234 or 1 800 622 954; international phone 617 3397 1234; fax (Australia): 07 3847 2929; fax (International) 617 3847 2929; e-mail: rnelson@gil.com.au

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Print/Braille books and cassette tapes for children between the ages of preschool and third grade are now available. I am selling the print/Braille books for $5 each and the cassette tapes for $2 each. Send cash or money orders only, please. To receive a list of available titles of cassettes and print/Braille books or to place orders, contact Mrs. Catherine Harris, 1528 Crawford Ave., Altoona, Pennsylvania 16602.

Beginner Guitar Course Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I have developed a beginner guitar course for the visually impaired that uses cassette tapes and no written literature to teach students the basic chords and rhythm patterns in first position and the names of all the notes on the guitar in first position. Buyers will also receive a free Guitar by Ear cassette which teaches them the actual recorded guitar part to a contemporary song without having to read music or tablature. The cost is $34.95. Contact Bill Brown, Guitar by Ear, 704 Habersham Road, Valdosta, Georgia 31602, (912) 249-0628.

New Cane Bank Begins:

Diane Hostetler writes to report the following:

In observance of White Cane Recognition Week, the Indianapolis Chapter of the NFB of Indiana sponsored a fund-raising drive in order to initiate a cane bank. The purpose of the cane bank will be to ensure that blind individuals are not forced to go without this valuable tool of independence because of financial problems.

From May 17 to 21 our members were on hand at two Indianapolis locations to accept donations for this project, as well as to distribute educational information. To express our appreciation and to symbolize the white cane, all contributors were presented with a peppermint stick tied with a white ribbon.

The project was a huge success, yielding over $500. This amount will give a good start to our cane bank and will help the blind of Indianapolis achieve and maintain independence.

We are not, however, limiting our efforts to the procurement of financial contributions. Our project will also be expanded to include recycling. If you have any canes which are no longer in use or parts of old canes which are salvageable, please contact NFB of Indianapolis, P.O. Box 441868, Indianapolis, Indiana 46244, or call (317) 359-3140.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

For sale: tandem bike Norco Cape Cod, 5-speed, excellent condition, used one year. Contact Keith Iten, 1534 17th Street, S., Fargo, North Dakota 58103, or call (701) 235-2619.

More Tactile Maps Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Maps of Russia and Its Former Republics, a 16-page booklet containing six maps (including three fold-outs) plus keys showing boundaries, rivers, and major cities as of 1997. Cost is $4.

Tactile Maps of Pennsylvania is a 23-page booklet containing general information about Pennsylvania and nine full-page maps with keys. The maps show major cities, rivers and lakes, major highways, land regions, physical features, county boundaries, agricultural products, and resources of Pennsylvania. Maps showing boundaries and major cities of the northeastern states, including Pennsylvania, are also provided. The cost is $6.

These booklets are bound with cardboard covers and a multi-ring binder. Shipping is Free Matter for the Blind, unless advised otherwise. Allow four to six weeks for delivery. Order from the Princeton Braillists, 28-B Portsmouth Street, Whiting, New Jersey 08759, or call (732) 350-3708.

In Memoriam:

Diane Hostetler recently wrote with sadness to report that on April 18, 1997, Mrs. Helen Denniman, a life-time member of the National Federation of the Blind and a pioneer of the Indianapolis Chapter, passed away at the age of eighty-five.

For the past several years Mrs. Denniman's poor health prevented her from participating in NFB activities. However, during her active years her contributions to the organization were many. Throughout her life as a Federationist, she served as President of both the Indianapolis Chapter and the Indiana affiliate, responsibilities which she took very seriously. Though her physical condition deteriorated, forcing her to draw back, she remained a strong proponent and an avid supporter of the NFB. While Mrs. Denniman will be missed by all who knew and worked with her, her spirit will remain in our midst as we perpetuate her legacy, working together to change the lives of countless blind hoosiers.

Braille Books Available:

National Braille Press announces the following new publications:

General Mills (Bisquick, Betty Crocker, Hamburger Helper, and other familiar products) has compiled all package directions into two Braille volumes, $15. Betty Crocker and Gold Medal Product Preparation Directions and Recipes provides you with step-by-step directions for hundreds of food products, as well as some fun recipes.

The 10-Minute Guide to Windows 95 includes keyboard commands and screen descriptions for basic Windows 95 operations. This is not a tutorial; it is a reference guide. You can look up step-by-step instructions for performing basic operations. Three volumes in Braille for $13.99.

Major credit cards accepted. Order from National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, (800) 548-7323.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I have a Versa Braille II Plus computer with carrying case, disk drive, Star printer with all cable and cord connections, Versa Braille users' manuals, and interface manual in both print and Braille. Everything is in excellent condition. Make an offer. Contact Vincent Tagliarino at 29 Mona Court, Depew, New York 14043, (716) 681-1645.

News from Xerox:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Xerox Adaptive Products (XAP) announces a price cut and new financing program for The Reading Edge, a reading machine for the blind and visually impaired. It can read books, magazines, printed photocopies, and documents with multiple columns. XAP has lowered The Reading Edge price from $5,495 to $4,995. In addition, Xerox is offering customers a choice of 0% financing on The Reading Edge or an instant rebate if purchased by check or charge. The new 0% financing program for The Reading Edge is $219 down and $199 a month for 24 months. If you purchase by check or charge, you receive an instant rebate of $495, a savings of almost $1,000 of the regular price.

Xerox has also introduced a financing program for the Outlook video magnifier, a magnification system for those with low vision. The unit sells for $1,795 but can be financed for $99 a month for 18 months, with $198 down.

The Reading Edge has a one-year warranty and is available through a network of distributors. Outlook has a five-year warranty. For information, a product demo, or the distributor nearest you call (800) 248-6550, ext 1, Xerox Desktop Document Systems, Contact: Karen E. Sunderland at (508) 977-2097 or e-mail: ksunder@xis.xerox.com