National Federation of the Blind Awards for 1998

From the Editor: National Federation of the Blind awards are not bestowed lightly. If an appropriate recipient does not emerge from the pool of candidates for a particular award, it is simply not presented. At this year's convention five presentations were made. Here is the way it happened:

Picture of Dr. Jernigan presenting the Distinguished Service Award to Michael Marucci

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Dr. Jernigan presents the Distinguished Service Award to Michael Marucci]

The Distinguished Service Award

At the meeting of the Board of Directors on Monday morning, July 6, Dr. Jernigan came to the microphone to make a presentation. Actually, he had intended to present two awards, but Angela Ugarte, mother of student division President Ana Ugarte, was packing for a family move from Ohio to Oregon and could not attend the convention, so Dr. Jernigan presented only one award in person. This is what Dr. Jernigan said:

It is with considerable pleasure that I am privileged to present an award. In this organization, as you know, we are very choosy and sparing in the awards we present. We have given a few Distinguished Service Awards in our time, but not very many. That makes those we do give of greater significance than they would be if we gave them automatically.

We are giving the Distinguished Service Award to Mr. Marucci. I want him to come up to the stage, and I want to say a few things. I'll ask Mrs. Dyer, my secretary, to read the text of the award. I can read Braille, but somehow I lost the text, so she will read it.

Mr. Marucci is an important part of this organization. He functions without a very high profile. His wife is on the staff at the National Center for the Blind and does a good job. He works on the staff too, but doesn't get paid for it. He is an accomplished linguist—speaks several languages. He does it professionally, without any payment and without for that matter a lot of praise or credit. He translates books into Spanish for us. He is about to put our book on diabetes into Spanish. He has translated other books. It seems altogether fitting that he receive this award. I'm going to ask Mrs. Dyer to read it. Mr. Marucci, there are two things I want to present to you as part of the award. I'm taking the pin that I have been wearing on my lapel—the NFB pin—off, and I want to give it to you. This is a pin that has a great deal of symbolism about it, not because I have worn it, but because of the fact that it represents the Federation. So I'm going to hand you the pin: then we'll read you the plaque.

Mrs. Dyer then read the text of the award:

Distinguished Service Award

In recognition of the contributions

you have made and your dedication

to our cause

the National Federation of the Blind

presents to you,

Michael Marucci,

this Distinguished Service Award.

Without expectation of public acclaim

or fanfare you have tirelessly worked to

translate material for the blind

from English into Spanish, and you have done it on a continuing, sustained basis.

We call you our colleague with pride.

We call you our friend with love.

The lives of the blind of this nation

and the world are better

because of your effort.

The National Federation of the Blind

July, 1998

Dr. Jernigan: For whatever you may wish to say, here, Mr. Marucci, is a mike.

Dr. Jernigan, Federationists, thank you very much. I am stunned here. I do love Monday mornings, however. I want to thank all the people: Mrs. Marie Marucci, who is my encouragement and support in this whole thing. When I said, "Why am I doing this?" She said, "There is a reason." If it makes one person's life better, by all means I am happy to do this: I am very proud to do this.

Mr. Gildner, for putting up with me through all these recording sessions, making sure the mike is in the proper place, all those after-work hours, I thank you very much. All the people in the Federation who have given me support.

This is what you can do with a foreign language if you put your mind to it. A lot of people say, "Why study a foreign language?" This is what you can do. Anybody who would like help in this endeavor, I would like to think that I am not doing this alone. Anybody else, I know there are several of you who are bilingual out in the audience. I am sure that everybody comes in contact with a foreign language. I know there are a lot of scholarship recipients who have studied a foreign language at one time or another. If one of you helps, it doubles the effort. We have plenty of literature to go around, not major books—even small ones. Anything that helps out would be greatly appreciated.

Again I thank you for the award. I walk in the steps of fellow recipients of the award who have done much more than I have. I accept this humbly. I thank you very much.

Dr. Maurer: Congratulations to you. Increasingly we are distributing our literature all over the world. One of the major languages that people wish to read it in is Spanish. Your translations of our works have been distributed to tens of thousands of people in countries around the world. Thank you very much.

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[PHOTO/CAPTION: Dr. David Ticchi receives the Blind Educator of the Year Award from Steve Benson.]

Blind Educator of the Year Award

From the Editor: Steve Benson, Chairman of the Blind Educator of the Year Award Committee, made the following presentation during the Board of Directors meeting on Monday, July 6.

The recipient of the 1998 Blind Educator of the Year Award is, of course, an extraordinary teacher. This person exhibits creativity, resourcefulness, patience, flexibility, wisdom, and clear thinking. The winner is demanding, raises student expectations, and commands the respect of both students and colleagues. This year's winner has gained considerable stature and respect as an elected and appointed leader on boards and commissions in the community as well as in his church.

More than all of that, this individual has demonstrated leadership in the National Federation of the Blind as a chapter President; as a state officer; and as one who has served on committees, often as chairman, since the mid-seventies.

The winner of this year's award has appeared at legislative hearings on behalf of the Federation. He has spoken before civic, church, and community groups; and he has represented us on radio talk shows. In each case he has delivered the message of the Federation effectively and persuasively.

The 1998 winner has done those things or caused those things to be done that have improved the quality of life for blind people. He has stretched blind people beyond what society has deemed appropriate for us. In other words, this year's recipient has understood and has emulated the example and the words of Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, and President Maurer, all exemplary teachers.

The Blind Educator of the Year Award committee—Homer Page, Judy Sanders, Adelmo Vigil, and Ramona Walhof—have selected as this year's winner David Ticchi.[applause] While David is making his way to the platform, I will tell you that he is a cum laude graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, and he earned his master's and doctoral degrees at Harvard University.

David is currently supervisor of the alternative education program for ninth and tenth grades at Newton North High School in Newton, Massachusetts. This is a program designed for potential school dropouts. David is also a consultant for the Technical Vocational Department in his school. I might add that David had the honor of carrying the Olympic torch prior to the 1996 Olympic games.

David Ticchi is a Federationist. He does all that he does within the context of Federation philosophy.

David, congratulations. Here are a check for $500 and a plaque which reads:

Blind Educator of the Year Award

National Federation of the Blind

presented to

David Ticchi

in recognition of outstanding

accomplishments in the

teaching profession

You enhance the present

You inspire your colleagues

You build the future

July 6, 1998

Here is what David Ticchi said:

Thank you very much. This is something I will cherish. When Steve Benson was reading the introduction this morning, I wasn't sure if that sounded like me. I wasn't sure who would win the award because to me this is one of the most prestigious awards that a blind person could earn. Our organization was started by an educator, Dr. tenBroek, followed by Dr. Jernigan, and Dr. Maurer. If you look up the derivation of the word "education," you will find it is based on a Latin root, "ducere," which is to lead. In order for one to lead and be an educator, you have to have a philosophy, a body of knowledge and information, a desire, a motivation, and ability to convey it to others in order for them to benefit from what they learn. Our organization certainly is illustrative of that kind of education and that kind of leadership. To be honored in this way is something which means a great deal to me.

I will also say, too, for blind people who have worked in public schools in particular, that I'm very thankful for this opportunity because historically, until the 1960's, there were actual visual acuity requirements for blind people who worked in public schools. Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, and others changed those laws, and made it possible for me and other blind people to teach in public schools. They are now doing that at all grade levels. It is our responsibility to do that and to continue that and to educate others. Frankly we are all educators. Because if we truly think of one of our sayings, "changing what it means to be blind," in reality that's education. That's changing people's attitudes and providing them with information to show them that we can do what we have to do, that we are truly a cross section of society. Thank you very, very much. This is something, as I say, I will cherish.

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[PHOTO/CAPTION: Sharon Maneki presents Dr. James Bickford with the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award.]

The Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award

During the Thursday evening banquet, Sharon Maneki was called to the dais to make the following presentation:

Good evening, Dr. Maurer, Dr. Jernigan, fellow Federationists. In 1987 we established a new tradition in the National Federation of the Blind; we created a new opportunity to make sure that our blind children had a good education. We established the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award. As the recipient begins to make his way to the stage, let me share a little of his background. He is an individual who has taught in schools for the blind throughout the nation for the past twenty-five years. He has a master's degree from Florida State University in vision. He has a Ph.D. in administration from Portland State University in Oregon. But this is not the whole story; the individual that we are recognizing tonight does the real thing about education of blind children. As the Director of education at the Washington State School for the Blind he makes sure that his students have the opportunity for real academics. He promotes science and foreign languages, but he does not neglect the basic skills of blindness and literacy. In Washington State vision teachers are required to know Braille. Thanks to the leadership of Dr. James Bickford, Washington State is the first state to require instructional assistants who work with blind children to know Braille.

His friends refer to him as Blue, and we in the National Federation of the Blind are certainly his friends. Blue, I have first of all for you a check for $500. Let me present the plaque to you, and then I will read it.

The National Federation of the Blind


Dr. James Bickford

Distinguished Educator of Blind Children

for your leadership in building

educational excellence

for the students at the

Washington State School for the Blind

for creating a standard

to measure competency

in literary Braille

and for your successful efforts

in insuring that vision teachers

and instructional assistants

in Washington State are required

to demonstrate competency in Braille reading and writing.

You champion our movement,

you strengthen our hopes,

you share our dreams.

July, 1998


Dr. Bickford then responded:

President Maurer, Dr. Jernigan, Ms. Maneki, and members of the National Federation of the Blind, it is indeed a pleasure to be here tonight. I am proud to be in the state of Washington, where the NFB and the Washington State School for the Blind have worked cooperatively to better the educational programs for all blind children in the state. Thus it is on behalf of the students, parents, paraprofessionals, and teachers who have worked so hard to make everything work that with humility, honor, and a great deal of pride I accept this award. Thank you very much.[Applause]

Photo of Rudy Savage receiving the Newel Perry Award

[PHOTO/CAPTION: Rudy Savage receives the Newel Perry Award.]

The Newel Perry Award

From the Editor: During the banquet on July 9 Dr. Jernigan came to the microphone to present the Newel Perry Award for 1998.

This is what he said:

The Newel Perry Award (one of the highest honors we can bestow) was first given in 1955, being presented to Governor Ed Johnson of Colorado. The next year the recipient was Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia. I received the award in 1960, and subsequently it was given to members of Congress, administrators, and other community leaders who were deemed to have made significant contributions to the improvement of the quality of life for blind people. In 1965 we gave the award to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.

It should be noted that this award is not routinely given. In fact, quite the contrary. In 1982 the recipient was Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr., of California. It was 1989 before the next presentation was made. That year's recipient was Congressman Gerry Sikorski of Minnesota. In 1991 we gave the Newel Perry Award to then Commissioner of Rehabilitation Nell Carney. No one has received the Newel Perry Award since that time.

This gives special significance to tonight's presentation. Tonight's recipient (although he has deliberately maintained a low profile in the blindness field) is particularly deserving. Last year, for instance, without even being asked to do so, he came to the National Office of the organization and gave $5,000 to help with our work. This was not his first financial contribution.

But it is not for this that we honor him. Rather it is for his daily effort to make life better for blind people. As I have said, he deliberately maintains a low profile, and some of you may not even know who he is. But if you don't, it is time you got acquainted. Tonight's recipient of the Newel Perry Award is Rudy Savage, who is head of the nonprofit company Talking Book Publishers, Inc., of Denver, Colorado.

Mr. Savage was born in Denver and received his B.A. degree in social science from the University of Denver. Acting on the hunch that many readers of all ages and types would enjoy recorded books, he presented the idea of books on flexible disks to the American Booksellers convention in 1966. At that time he met Robert Bray, who was head of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress and who expressed interest in the concept for the NLS program.

Mr. Savage researched and pursued the development of high-quality flexible disk recordings with the Eva Tone Corporation. Not only could five flexible disks be produced and mailed for the cost of one hard disk, but the timeliness of recorded magazines could be enhanced if they were mailed directly to subscribers instead of being sent to the regional libraries and then recirculated to blind readers. The flexible disk program, which has been a standard feature of library service for the blind for many years, was pioneered and developed by Rudy Savage.

In the early 1970's he continued to pursue his work with the blind by pioneering a contract with US News and World Report to produce a recorded edition of their magazine to be made available to the blind through NLS. At that time he also established the nonprofit company Talking Book Publishers, Inc. He then brought together a group of readers whose names are now household words among the blind.

Talking Book Publishers, Inc., now records between 300 and 400 books a year, as well as many of the magazines and periodicals available on cassette and flexible disk. Mr. Savage takes great pride in the quality of the recording standards and research that Talking Book Publishers, Inc., maintains.

Rudy Savage has a variety of business interests outside of the blindness field. He has created several successful companies that provide business information to thousands of executives, and he serves as a consultant and facilitator for a business diagnostics process.

Of particular interest to us, Mr. Savage is a true friend of and an active participant in the organized blind movement. He encourages those who wish to make financial contributions to programs for the blind to work directly with the NFB, and he puts his own money where his mouth is.

During the past few years I have come to know Rudy Savage personally and well. He rings true and is genuinely committed to advancing the interests of the National Federation of the Blind.

Therefore, it is with real pleasure that I present the 1998 Newel Perry Award to the head of Talking Book Publishers, Inc., Rudy Savage. The brass plaque mounted on walnut reads:

Newel Perry Award

National Federation of the Blind

In recognition of courageous leadership

and outstanding service,

the National Federation of the Blind

bestows the Newel Perry Award upon

Rudy Savage:

our colleague; our friend; our brother

on the barricades. You champion our progress; you strengthen our hopes;

you share our dreams.

July 9, 1998.

Mr. Savage, I give you this plaque and a copy of my remarks. Welcome to this convention, and congratulations to you on the receipt of the Newel Perry Award.

Doctors Jernigan and Maurer and the entire Federation, I am really just overwhelmed by this. I didn't expect anything like this. When Dr. Jernigan suggested that I attend this year's convention as I have done from time to time, I thought that maybe I would receive a piece of paper or something like that. But to receive something as distinguished as this award is just overwhelming. I don't have anything else I could possibly say right now. Thank you very much.

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[PHOTO/CAPTION: Mary Ellen Jernigan addresses the banquet audience after receiving the Jacobus tenBroek Award while Ramona Walhof and Allen Harris look on.]

The Jacobus tenBroek Award

During the banquet on Thursday evening, July 9, Ramona Walhof came to the microphone to present the Jacobus tenBroek Award. This is what she said:

In 1974 the convention decided to establish an award in memory of our beloved founder Dr. Jacobus tenBroek. This award is to be given to one of the leaders of the organization as often as merit indicates. Since 1974 the tenBroek Award has been presented fourteen times to leaders from eleven different states. Tonight the committee has selected an individual who joined the Federation at a young age, during the 1960's, and has matured and developed into one of our very best. Anyone who has attended a National Convention during the last twenty or twenty-five years has observed this person on the run handling large and small matters with poise, competence, and efficiency.

I first met Mary Ellen Jernigan [prolonged applause] when we were both teachers at the orientation center in Iowa. Dr. Jernigan picked her as a very promising new graduate of Drake University in Des Moines. Some of her travel students from that time are here tonight. When she and I organized together in Kansas and Oregon, we both underrated the contributions we could make to the National Federation of the Blind, but blind people are not the only ones who have benefited and grown and blossomed under the direction of Dr. Jernigan and in the activities of the National Federation of the Blind.

Early in the 1970's the then Mrs. Anderson became Deputy Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. In 1978, when it was time to move Federation headquarters to Baltimore and begin to build a new National Center for the Blind, Mrs. Anderson was eager and able to take on a large share of that work. With her usual high energy, thoroughness, and intelligence she began to learn and to manage the mailings of the organization. For nearly twenty years Mrs. Jernigan has been one of the primary builders and the administrator of one of our principal means of public education and fund-raising. I remember when she led a small group of Federation staff members to go and learn enough that we could purchase and install our very first computer at the National Office. Since that time she has kept ahead in the increasing dependence on use of computers.

Her contribution has been immeasurable in making our headquarters operation the comprehensive and effective facility it is today. I cannot fill in all the details of a career of more than thirty years, but we have all benefited from the contributions she has made to the Federation. She has worked many, many hours beyond the call of duty. She has been far more than a valuable staff member. She has become truly a leader in her own right.

In 1986 Dr. and Mrs. Jernigan were married, and we all shared their happiness. Mrs. Jernigan has continued to assist both Dr. Jernigan and Dr. Maurer in the management of the National Federation of the Blind as the organization has grown and become the most important force in work with the blind in the world today.

This year we have faced a new and frightening problem. Dr. Jernigan developed lung cancer. To fight such a battle requires all the strength and determination anyone can possess.

I cannot, and I hope I need not, describe the difficult weeks and months through which the Jernigans have struggled together this winter. We have all prayed for strength and success for them in this most important of all efforts. But the Jernigans have had to shoulder and carry the primary weight. Dr. Jernigan has depended heavily on Mrs. Jernigan through the treatment, and she has never wavered or stumbled in her support, doing research on the treatment, giving injections, helping to understand and remember the details of the doctors' pronouncements, going with him wherever the treatment took them, counting pills, finding and preparing special diets—these are only some of the ways that Mrs. Jernigan has participated in the struggle against the cancer.

Most important of all has been her spirit, always gentle and caring. She has not complained or flinched at whatever has been needed. Most of the time you and I were not able to be there and could not know or help with the daily battle and pain. We depended on the Jernigans together to give it their best while we gave only love and prayers from a distance. But it has meant a lot to all of us as well as to Dr. Jernigan himself to know the kind of support Dr. Jernigan has had from his wife. This battle matters to everyone of us in this room and elsewhere tonight, and we are proud of the Jernigans for the progress they have made so far. Tonight is the time to honor Mrs. Jernigan for all she has done for Dr. Jernigan and for all of us, both this year and throughout the many years she has been a leader in the National Federation of the Blind.

Throughout her career she has made invaluable contributions, and therefore Mrs. Jernigan we all honor you and appreciate you tonight. We love you and honor you for what you have done and what you are. We have a plaque here. Let me give it to you, and then I will read it. The plaque says:

Jacobus tenBroek Award

National Federation of the Blind

presented to

Mary Ellen Jernigan

for your dedication, sacrifice, and commitment

on behalf of the blind of the nation. Your contribution is not measured in steps, but in miles, not by individual experiences, but by your impact on the lives of the blind of the nation.

Whenever we have asked, you have answered.

We call you our colleague with respect;

we call you our friend with love.

July 9, 1998

Now I'm going to give Mrs. Jernigan the microphone to hear what she has to say.

President Maurer, Dr. Jernigan, Mrs. Walhof, and friends. I have grown up in this organization; and I, like so many of you, have gained far more from this organization than we've ever given. I want to say a word about this year. I want to thank all of you for your love, for your prayers, for your support. I want to say a special word about President Maurer. President Maurer has been there early and late and every day. President Maurer has carried on all of his work, all of Dr. Jernigan's work, most of my work, and, while he has been doing that, he's been by the bedside. He's never too busy to do any tiny thing that he even thinks Dr. Jernigan would have wanted done. I want to say to him thank you, and I want to say to all of you: we picked right; we have one of the most wonderful presidents this organization could ever hope to have.

I also want to say thank you to the staff at the National Center for the Blind because each of them has also done during this year a lot of Dr. Jernigan's work and a lot of my work.

It's not easy to keep a secret from me in this organization, and I must say that I had absolutely no inkling of this. I've often said that there is really only one speechmaker in our family, and it's not me, so I will close with this. Thank you very much.