The Braille Monitor

Vol. 41, No. 11                                                             December 1998

Barbara Pierce, Editor

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


Marc Maurer, President

National Office
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
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                                                    Table of Contents                

Convention Bulletin 1999
A Jurist Who Happens to Be Blind in the Federal Courts

     by Richard C. Casey
An Organizational Approach to the Evaluation of Rehabilitation

Outcomes: Assessing Three Private Rehabilitation Agencies

     by C. Edwin Vaughan, Ph.D.
The Blind in the Teaching Profession

     by Cheralyn Braithwaite
Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award for 1999

     by Sharon Maneki
The 1999 Blind Educator of the Year Award

     by Stephen O. Benson
A Trip to Remember!

     by Tim Day
Facing Windows of Lost Opportunity

     by Steve Alexander
The Fifth Generation Speaks Out
The New Job Opportunities for the Blind

	by Peggy Chong
Abilities Count
A Little Child Shall Lead Them

     by Father Patrick Martin
Of Generosity and Independence

     by William Payne
The Whole Truth about Partial Sight

     by Christine Faltz
Seeing Chances to Conquer

     by Susan Kreifels
Creative Cookies

     by Robert Parrish
Children, Fruitcake, and Rectangles

     by Barbara Walker
Social Security, SSI, and Medicare Facts for 1999

     by James Gashel
Monitor Miniatures
LEAD PHOTOGRAPH DESCRIPTION: Three photographs appear on this

page. The first shows the fireplace in the Harbor Room with a

wreath above it. The decorated tables ready for the Christmas

party can also be seen. The second picture is of the National

Center staff seated at the tables and looking toward President

Maurer, who is speaking. The third picture is of Dr. Jernigan

sitting in a rocking chair in the Harbor Room and reading aloud

from a Braille book to people who are obviously listening.]

     CAPTION: The Christmas party at the National Center for the

Blind is always an evening filled with fun and good food. The

Harbor Room (left) is where everyone gathers after work. Each

family brings a dish or two to pass, and President Maurer

(middle) briefly addresses the group before dinner begins. In

past years Dr. Jernigan (bottom) often read 'Twas the Night

before Christmas, and then the small gift exchange took place

amid much laughter. Dr. Jernigan will not be among the merry-

makers this year, so the laughter may be a bit subdued, but the

love and good wishes that circulate will be every bit as

heartfelt as in past years. So too our hopes for a blessed

holiday season and the very best in the New Year come to each of

you with this issue of the Braille Monitor].

                    Convention Bulletin 1999


     It is time to plan for the 1999 convention of the National

Federation of the Blind. Last year's convention in Dallas was one

of the best we have ever experienced--a great hotel staff, a

truly impressive program and exhibits, and fellowship of the

highest order. The year before, 1997, we set an attendance record

in New Orleans. Atlanta in 1999, however, promises to bring not

only a bigger and better program but also likely a record

attendance, as we gather to celebrate the life and work of Dr.

Jernigan and to continue our march to equal opportunity and full

participation through the movement he loved and led.
     We will meet at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, a

truly beautiful and spacious world-class hotel. Rooms have been

reserved for us at both the Marquis and the Atlanta Hilton and

Towers, a short walk away. The Marquis, with its 120,000 square

feet of meeting space and over 1,600 guest rooms, will be perfect

for our convention. The Hilton and Towers has over 1,200

elegantly furnished guest rooms and a number of special guest

     Once again, our hotel rates at the Marquis are the envy of

all. For the 1999 convention they are singles, $57; doubles and

twins, $59; triples, $61; and quads, $63. In addition to the room

rates there will be a tax, which at present is 14 percent. There

will be no charge for children in the room with parents as long

as no extra bed is requested.
     For 1999 convention room reservations you should write

directly to Atlanta Marriott Marquis, 265 Peachtree Center

Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, or call (404) 521-0000. Marriott

has a national toll-free number, but do not (we emphasize not)

use it. Reservations made through this national number will not

be valid. They must be made directly with the hotel. The hotel

will want a deposit of $60 or a credit card number. If a credit

card is used, the deposit will be charged against your card

immediately, just as would be the case with a $60 check. If a

reservation is canceled prior to June 4, 1999, $30 of the $60

deposit will be returned. Otherwise refunds will not be made.
     The Marquis is a beautiful, fifty-story atrium hotel with a

panoramic view of this bustling city in the heart of the New

South. It is twelve miles north of the Atlanta-Hartsfield

International Airport. Those driving to the convention will find

the hotel conveniently located off of Interstate 85, by taking

Exit 96, International Boulevard, turning left onto International

Boulevard, going to Peachtree Center Avenue, and turning right.

The hotel is on the right in the second block. There are three

excellent restaurants in the Marquis: Allie's American Grille,

open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Atrium Express, open for

breakfast and lunch; and Marquis Steakhouse, open for dinner

only. Champions Sports Bar is open until 2:00 a.m. and serves

lunch and dinner. The hotel features indoor and outdoor pools, a

solarium, a health club, whirlpool, and sauna. Rooms provide

voice mail, telephone data ports, and complimentary in-room

     The Hilton and Towers combines a convenient location right

across the street from the Marquis with superb accommodations and

amenities. Rooms are newly renovated, spacious, and luxurious,

with rich cherry furnishings and a warm atmosphere.
     Since both hotels are in the heart of downtown Atlanta,

Federationists attending the convention will have access to a

wealth of restaurants, shops, and other attractions like Martin

Luther King Center (1.5 miles), Underground Atlanta (0.8 mile),

and World of Coca-Cola (0.8 mile). See later issues of the

Monitor for information on tours and other outings into the

Greater Atlanta area.
     The 1999 convention of the National Federation of the Blind

will be a truly exciting and memorable event, with a program

unparalleled, an exciting city to explore, and a rededication to

the goals and work of our movement. Make plans now to be a part

of it. The schedule this year is a little different from the one

to which we are accustomed. Pre-convention seminars for parents

of blind children and other groups and set-up of the exhibit hall

will take place on Wednesday, June 30, and adjournment will be

Tuesday, July 6, at 5:00 p.m. To assure a room in one of the

convention hotels at convention rates, you must make reservations

early. Convention registration will begin on Thursday, July 1,

and both Thursday and Friday will be filled with meetings of

divisions and committees, including the Friday morning annual

meeting of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of

the Blind, which is open to all. General convention sessions

begin on Saturday and continue through the afternoon of Tuesday,

July 6. The annual banquet will take place on Monday evening,

July 5.
     Remember that as usual we need door prizes from state

affiliates, local chapters, and individuals. Once again, prizes

should be small in size but large in value. Cash, of course, is

always appropriate and welcome. As a general rule we ask that

prizes of any variety have a value of at least $25. Drawings will

occur steadily throughout the convention sessions, and you can

anticipate a grand prize of truly impressive proportions to be

drawn at the banquet. You may bring door prizes with you or send

them ahead of time to Roger Womble, 3966 Wildwood Lake Drive,

S.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30331-4361.
     The best collection of exhibits, featuring new technology;

meetings of our special interest groups, committees, and

divisions; memorable tours arranged by the host Georgia

affiliate; famous Southern hospitality; the most stimulating and

provocative program items of any meeting of the blind in the

world; the chance to renew friendships in our Federation family;

and the unparalleled opportunity to be where the real action is

and where decisions are being made--all of these mean you will

not want to miss being a part of the 1999 National Convention.

Hotel reservations are now being accepted. Make yours right away,

and we'll see you in Atlanta in 1999!



[PHOTO/CAPTION: Judge Richard C. Casey]

     A Jurist Who Happens to Be Blind in the Federal Courts

                       by Richard C. Casey


     From the Editor: Tuesday afternoon, July 7, delegates to the

1998 convention of the National Federation of the Blind heard a

stirring address by the Hon. Richard Casey, District Judge in the

United States District Court for the Southern District of New

York. He spent several days at the convention, and his fine mind

and probity were evident. But those who met him were particularly

impressed with both his dedication and his humanity. This is what

he said:


     Dr. Maurer, Dr. Jernigan, Congresswoman Johnson, and members

of the National Federation of the Blind: I'm extremely honored to

be asked to speak to you this afternoon. I must say, however, I

do it, as I told the National Association of Blind Lawyers

yesterday afternoon, with a bit of anxiety because I only lost my

sight eleven years ago. I stand before you feeling somewhat

inadequate realizing all that you have accomplished and all that

you have done. It makes me feel like I am just beginning.
     I'd like to start my talk this afternoon by telling you a

little story. Eleven years ago, right after I lost my sight, I

was traveling in Europe, and some friends of mine took me to a

religious shrine in southwest France called Lourdes. I was

walking across the esplanade in front of the Basilica, and a man

approached me and started to speak to me. I couldn't understand a

word that he was saying. Fortunately a friend was with me who was

from Rome, and he listened intently and finally said: "Well I'm

not doing much better. He's speaking Italian, but he lives in Sao

Paulo, Brazil, and he's Mexican and Portuguese, and we're having

a hell of a time. He said however, the best I could make out of

it is that he admires your guide dog, but he would like to take

the two of us up the hill and show us something, I'm not quite

sure what." In any event, we accompanied him up the hill, and he

took us to a little tiny grave yard. We entered the graveyard,

and he took us over to a tombstone and said: "I'd like to tell

you the story behind the woman who is buried here. Many years ago

a young Italian blind girl was brought to Lourdes by her parents.

She resisted because she was an atheist, and this was a religious

shrine. But she acquiesced, and, of course, her parents brought

her there in hopes that through prayer she might receive the

miracle of sight." He told me that she never received that

miracle, but she did receive the miracle of faith in God.
     She went back home to Italy, and many years later, when she

was an old, old woman and was dying, she asked that her body be

brought back to Lourdes and buried there. A tombstone was erected

with an inscription which we were standing before. The words on

the tombstone were, "What is important is not to see but to

     For me, who am very new, I feel, to your world, these are

words that have lived with me ever since. They are words that are

very profound; they contain many layers. They make you think: why

was I born, why am I here, where am I going, and how am I going

to get there? It encompasses, I think, the philosophy of the NFB-

-that, if you have that understanding, if you have the attitude,

if you have the talent, there is almost nothing you cannot

     Now I don't know if the story of the little Italian girl is

true. I know the tombstone is there, and as they say in Italian,

"Si non e vero, e ben trovato." [literally, "If it is not true,

it is well discovered."] I like that. I think I'll give the rest

of the speech in Italian. (In all seriousness, don't worry; I

have difficulty ordering dinner in an Italian restaurant.)
     Every day since 1987 I think about those words. It's been a

long road from my early education to this point. I graduated from

Holy Cross in 1955, before most of you were born, and I graduated

from the Georgetown University Law School in 1958. After that I

went on and was appointed Assistant United States Attorney in New

York and was assigned the criminal division, where I tried many

different cases from narcotics to mail fraud to securities fraud

to tax evasion. In 1960 I was appointed the head of the internal

security unit, and again, for you younger people in the audience,

that was a period known as the Cold War. I had the privilege of

representing the United States in prosecuting three Soviet spies:

two for espionage and one for perjury. After that I went on and

was counsel to a state commission investigating public

corruption. Then I went on to private practice, where I engaged

in commercial litigation, mostly securities litigation on the

civil side with a touch of criminal work--you never seem to get

away from it.[laughter] Not that I committed it myself, but

represented people, for those in the audience who are laughing. I

often have to admonish my law clerks these days that when they

answer the phone, please don't tell people that the judge is on

trial; he's in trial.
     In any event, after a long career in private practice, in

1991 I was approached by one of the judges on the United States

District Court in New York who asked me if I would like to join

them on the court. Of course I was very honored; however, I

really didn't feel quite adequate to assume the job. I had

recently lost my eyesight. But after much conversation he

convinced me to make a stab at it. He, together with a bipartisan

group of judges, recommended me to both Senator D'Amato and

Senator Moynihan of New York, and I was recommended to the White

House and nominated in 1992 to the District Court. The nomination

was sent to the White House, and President Bush acted on it and

sent it to the Senate. But unfortunately I learned my first

lesson in judicial process. It was election year, they cut off

confirmation hearings, and my nomination lapsed with fifty-four

others. We were left at the judicial altar so to speak.
     In any event, time went by, and last year I was invited by

the Moynihan judicial selection committee as well as the D'Amato

judicial selection committee to appear before them to be

considered again for the United States District Court. In May of

last year Senator D'Amato sent my name to the White House for

nomination, and Senator Moynihan joined in the nomination. In

July I was nominated and confirmed by the Senate in October. I

was sworn in in November of last year.

     I am very pleased and honored with the job I have, but,

although Dr. Maurer was quite laudatory in his introduction, I am

going to confess to you that my real ambition is to be the first

blind nose tackle in the National Football League. [laughter]

Since I told you when I graduated from college, I think it is

     As I told the National Association of Blind Lawyers, with

the appointment of David Tatel to the United States Circuit Court

of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (I'm sure many of you heard him

when he spoke at your convention last year) and with my

appointment to the United States District Court, we have come a

long way in the federal judiciary. For those of you who may not

be familiar with the federal court system, basically the federal

system has three courts: the basic trial court is the United

States District Court, of which I am a member; the intermediate

court, the appellate court, is the Circuit Court of Appeals,

where Judge Tatel serves; and the Supreme Court of the United

States. As I told the lawyers yesterday afternoon, we have made

inroads; we have members on both courts; the door is wide open.

[applause] I assure you that, sometime in your lifetime, a blind

lawyer will be appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

     I think we have made great strides in my profession and in

the judiciary, primarily due to two reasons. One is developments

in technology, and the other is the change in attitudes in

society. I will always be grateful to the Federation for the help

they gave me last summer when I was trying to assemble the

package of technology we would use in my chambers. I went to

Baltimore, and the staff couldn't have been nicer--Dr. Maurer,

Richard Ring, all the wonderful people who helped me and the

blind engineer who was working with me, who adapted all this

material for me. Today I am using things that many of you use, an

optical scanner with synthetic voice, a computer with synthetic

voice, steno masks, and tape recorders. By September we will have

real-time reporting with synthetic voice in my courtroom. It will

allow us simultaneously to record, search, and call up testimony.

Moreover, it can be remotely transmitted into my chambers. When

we have non-jury cases, my law clerks can almost simultaneously

with testimony prepare findings of fact and issues of law.
     I would be remiss if I didn't mention the second point that

allows us to succeed and achieve in my profession and in others--

the changes in society. Much of this you have brought about. In

touching on this point, I have to commend Senators D'Amato and

Moynihan. Not just because of me, but they were the first

Senators who had the guts to nominate a blind lawyer to a federal

court in over two hundred and eight years. [applause] There is no

longer an excuse for any politician; they no longer have to ask

"Can it be done?" "Has it ever been done?" It has been done, and

they should do it.
     There is still a lot that can be done to change society even

more. I listened to the Congresswoman speak and the way you

brought up issues. Yes, there is much to be done. I think,

frankly, that we should all work at it. We can bring it about by

example; we can help society change.
     At lunch Peggy Elliott asked me to mention that, when I was

called before those committees last year, I thought long and hard

about it. (I listened to lots of discussion yesterday about how

to approach the question of blindness in job interviews. I don't

have a patent on it because I am still new at blindness. But I

pass along a little story for your consideration.)
     I approached my interview just as I used to prepare for

trial. I would ask myself, "What are the weaknesses of my

witnesses?" Thinking about the committee, I asked myself what my

weaknesses--even my perceived--weaknesses were. The answer seemed

obvious. I was talking to a group of sighted people, half lawyers

and half laymen. When I became blind, I didn't know a single

blind person; there's a good chance they don't know one either.

So when I walked in the door and sat down, I said, "Before you

start, may I say a word? The word is `blind.'" [applause] I said,

"Let's not pussyfoot around it; let's put it on the table. What

you are all thinking is `Can he do it?'" I then said, "I love

this profession; I have great admiration for this court. I would

not do anything to damage either one. I am here because I know in

my heart that I can do the job." I told them that I did not wish

to be recommended to the Senators because I was blind; I wished

to be recommended because I was a lawyer who could do the job who

happened to be blind. [applause and cheers]
     I told Peggy at lunch that at my swearing-in last November a

woman who was on the committee but not a lawyer came up to me.

She said, "I had to come today because I wanted to tell you that,

when I came to the interview nine months ago, I came with the

pre-disposition to vote against you because I thought it was

impossible. We were not mean-spirited people, but you explained

to us how it could be done. I wanted to tell you that, had you

not taken the bull by the horns and made it comfortable for all

of us, it wouldn't have mattered that you had the credentials.

But once we understood, we were happy to give you the highest

rating we have ever given a candidate." [applause]
     So I humbly suggest that, although we have come a long way

and the door is wide open, there is still more to be done. I

suggest that you continue to keep that door open by example. Show

the world that you can do things that heretofore were never

dreamed possible. Show the world that you as a blind person are

not solely on the receiving end; give of yourself. The greatest

givers, as the Biblical story has it, are those who give from

their want to those who have even greater need. You will destroy

erroneous stereotypes by showing how much you can give.

     This was beautifully expressed a couple of months ago when I

was listening to a broadcast of the Masters Golf Tournament, they

did a tribute to the late, great golfer Bobby Jones. To many

Bobby Jones was the greatest golfer ever to play the game. Kids,

he was the Tiger Woods of his era. He won every golf tournament

there was, and he never turned pro. He was also a lawyer--

probably why I like him. But perhaps the thing he did better than

anything else was that he devoted a lot of time to teaching young

boys to play the game. Even when illness confined him to a

wheelchair, he continued to teach young people to play. The

commentator said that Bobby never stood as tall as when he

stooped to help a boy.
     I suggest and humbly urge that you who have done so much and

inspire me so much, as you climb the hill and step over the

obstacles on your way to the top, look over your shoulder and

help the one behind you to get over the fences. [applause] If you

do that, I promise you real success. Be good; stay well; God




[PHOTO/CAPTION: Dr. C. Edwin Vaughan, Professor of Sociology at

the University of Missouri at Columbia]

          An Organizational Approach to the Evaluation

                   of Rehabilitation Outcomes:

         Assessing Three Private Rehabilitation Agencies

                   by C. Edwin Vaughan, Ph.D.


     From the Editor: The following pilot study was conducted in

1997 and early 1998 by Professor C. Edwin Vaughan for the U.S.

Office of Education. Those who have attended annual conventions

of the National Federation of the Blind or who are long-time

readers of the Braille Monitor are familiar with the many

personal stories and anecdotes told by blind people lucky enough

to have been students at one of the three private adult

rehabilitation training centers conducted with Federation

philosophy as the basis of the program. Here, however, is a look

at these three programs and the ways in which they differ from

traditional training facilities. Dr. Vaughan also suggests

additional areas for fruitful investigation. This is what he



1. Background
     There are approximately one hundred residential programs for

persons who are blind in the United States that provide

vocational, pre-vocational, and independent-living services to

consumers of the Title I Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Program. A conservative estimate would suggest that in the last

decade at least 30,000 clients participated in these residential

programs--ranging from three- to nine-month enrollments. The most

frequently stated goal is preparation for competitive employment.

Other goals include preparation for additional education

(including higher education) and independent living. These

residential programs are relatively expensive, frequently costing

from $2,700 to $3,000 or more per month for each student. Despite

the economic cost and the human effort, there is little evidence

that these programs have produced a significant improvement in

the level of blind people's participation in the labor force.
     During the period 1984 to 1988 three new residential

rehabilitation centers were created by members of the largest

consumer organization of blind people--the National Federation of

the Blind. The reasons for developing these three residential

rehabilitation centers was an awareness of the limitations of

existing programs. Existing agencies were not, in the opinion of

the members of this consumer organization, educating their

students adequately for a life of independence, self-reliance,

and full participation in society. These three agencies have

flourished and are attracting clients from all over the United

States and from several other countries.
     Those in the field of blindness rehabilitation frequently

discuss program evaluation; a fairly complete bibliography was

commissioned by the National Accreditation Council for Agencies

Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped. Most traditional

approaches to evaluation consider the staffing and other agency

features and examine client progress in learning particular

skills. No research has been done, however, comparing agency

effectiveness. No evaluation procedures have effectively studied

the holistic effects on the individual in terms of alterations in

his or her subsequent life career.
     Because of the public monies expended and the wasted human

resources, it is important to learn whether these three agencies 

are more effective than others. As a first step this pilot study

will analyze the philosophy, curriculum, and staffing that are

all ingredients of the comprehensive rehabilitation experience

which these agencies claim is quite effective. In this pilot

study I interviewed representative graduates to learn, from the

client perspective, the strengths and weaknesses of these



2. Objectives
     1. Describe the three residential programs in terms of their

philosophies, goals, curricula, personnel practices, services,

and consumer outcomes.
     2. Identify organizational features (philosophies, goals,

curricula, personnel practices, and services) associated with

high levels of consumers' vocational/educational success and

     3. Analyze the relationships between agency goals and

personnel practices.
     4. Analyze the relationships between organizational goals

and the curriculum provided to the consumer.
     5. Establish baseline data for judging the future success of

these agencies.


3. Procedures
     1. I visited each of the three centers--the Louisiana Center

for the Blind (Ruston, Louisiana); the Colorado Center for the

Blind (Denver, Colorado); and BLIND, Inc.--Blindness: Learning in

New Dimensions (Minneapolis, Minnesota).
     2. I reviewed relevant documents at all three locations,

including annual reports and contract proposals.
     3. I interviewed each director, almost all members of the

staff, and several members of the boards of directors of the

three agencies.
     4. As a participant/observer I visited several classes,

including mobility, independent living, computer skills,

industrial arts (woodworking), and group discussions about the

philosophy of blindness.
     5. Throughout my site visits I talked informally with

     6. From lists of graduates within the last twelve months, I

selected nine students for extensive open-ended, unstructured,

in-depth telephone interviews. They comprised a purposive sample-

-generally reflecting the gender, ethnic, and economic diversity

of the client group. From these interviews I tried to learn, from

the client's point of view, aspects of the rehabilitation

experience associated with the clients' subsequent occupational

success and their overall satisfaction with the rehabilitation

     7. From information gathered in conversations and interviews

with students and site observations, I conducted a second round

of interviews with the three directors.


     The philosophy behind the programs of the three centers, for

the most part, is similar.
     (1) None of the three is associated with a sheltered

workshop. This physical separation from sheltered workshops

allows students to explore all employment options thoroughly

without the appearance of being directed into a sheltered

     (2) All three centers address what Diane McGeorge (Director

of the Denver Center) referred to as "the real issues" of

blindness. These issues include what a person thinks of himself

or herself and what ordinary people and some professionals think

about blindness. To repeat a slogan frequently heard at these

agencies, "We are changing what it means to be blind." Most

students come from backgrounds of overprotection and have seldom 

reflected critically on their own goals and potentials. All three

organizations provide experiences to challenge limiting self-

     (3) All agree that programs must be extensive and

comprehensive. Everything from attitudes to required skills must

be addressed before an individual can participate fully in

society. Students do not come to these residential rehabilitation

programs to learn only a particular skill such as mobility or

computer use.
     (4) All three programs require sleep-shade training.

Residual vision is to be used, but only after the skills of

blindness have been mastered.
     (5) All three continually stress positive images of

blindness--"There is nothing wrong with being blind." If a

student becomes skilled at alternative techniques to vision,

blindness can be reduced to an inconvenience. You should make the

best of what you have and reject society's negative images about

     (6) Whenever possible, alternative techniques should be

taught in real-life situations. For example, to teach cane travel

as technique is not enough; the student is learning cane travel

skills in order to go somewhere. The goal for students is that

when they have become proficient in the use of alternative

techniques and develop a positive self-concept, they move on to

pursue vocational training, post-secondary education, employment,

or a greater degree of independence.
     (7) A wellness model is stressed. Students should focus on

their potential, not their limitations. There is the expectation

that with appropriate training most blind people will succeed in

their chosen fields.
     (8) Rehabilitation is viewed as part of a lifelong process,

and students are expected to begin a long-term involvement with

consumer organizations. In the case of these three agencies the

preferred consumer organization is the National Federation of the

Blind. The purpose is twofold: 1) to give the blind person an

ongoing support group which will continually reinforce a positive

philosophy about blindness and provide encouragement when

difficulties emerge and 2) to involve the students in a

commitment to pay back or contribute to the ongoing organization

and to the lives of other blind people. The staff even refers to

the desire of student outcome as a spiritual experience;

rehabilitation will be so transforming you will want to share

with others the aspects of your newly found independence and more

positive self-image. One staff member in Louisiana mentioned that

the staff communicates this urgency to getting on with the

transforming of one's life.
     Joanne Wilson, Director of the Louisiana Center, expanded

the religious theme, describing the rehabilitation experience as 

somewhat like a traditional "religious revival." After the

initial intense transforming experience some people "backslide." 

By becoming involved in an ongoing organization with positive

role models and a positive philosophy, the individual can

continually renew the original experience. The traditional

community-based attitudes about blindness are so pervasive that

it is easy once again to internalize negative self-images or to

accept traditional low expectations of what a blind person can

achieve. To quote Ms. Wilson again, "We have to teach the

students to give back to something else--if we are going to be

whole people, we cannot just take from this world, but we have to

give back. This is particularly important for blind people; it is

so easy never to give anything back because people have so often

given everything to you--paid for your coffee or taken care of

you through family, welfare, etc. The involvement in the consumer

organization helps sustain the social movement which produces

public education, legislation, litigation, new employment

opportunities, etc., which may in turn help the individual in

additional ways." Although encouraged, students are not required

to join the National Federation of the Blind.


     The three centers attempt to link philosophy to

rehabilitation outcomes through both curriculum and staff

involvement. For this discussion I have included the physical

environment as part of the environment.
     (1) All students in the residential rehabilitation program

are encouraged to live independently. Furnished apartments are

provided for students, usually two students sharing a two-bedroom

unit. Students are responsible for cleaning the apartment and for

cooking and preparing their own food. In all cases these

apartments are considerably removed from the main rehabilitation 

facility. Students are required to work out their own

transportation--usually public busses.
     (2) All instruction is linked, as much as possible, to real

life situations. If a student needs to open a checking account or

make an appointment with a beauty shop, the task becomes part of

mobility instruction. Students will not simply learn to cook;

they will learn how to prepare a meal for all their fellow

students at the center.
     (3) All three centers include at least four hours each week

in what is referred to as business seminars--the business of

living. These are discussion groups involving both students and

staff. They are intended to help students examine their own

attitudes about blindness and to understand the reasons for the

social and instructional arrangements they are experiencing. The

intent is to change attitudes and broaden perspectives.
     (4) There is a distinct approach to mobility instruction.

Cane travel instruction is extensive throughout one's time at any

of these three rehabilitation centers. At some traditional

centers cane travel will be taught only one to four months. Only

the basic techniques can be learned in this brief period;

becoming a confident and safe traveler takes much longer. Russell

Anderson is a travel instructor at the Minnesota Center. He

prefers the word "travel" to "orientation and mobility." To him,

travel means learning to go out, to go somewhere safely and on

your own.
     All three centers strongly recommend the use of the long

lightweight, carbon-fiber cane. Not only is this cane a symbol of

freedom, but it also enables the traveler to explore the travel

surface one stride in advance of traditional shorter canes.

According to the instructors this cane has many other advantages

that go beyond the scope of this report.
     (5) The curriculum includes social experiences that most

students have never imagined. All three centers encourage their

students to attend state and national conventions of the National

Federation of the Blind. In this context students learn social

skills, self-reliance, and independent travel in quite diverse

settings. In 1997 all three centers sent students to attend the

NFB convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans, a five-

day event with more than 3,200 registrants. To avoid criticism

from funding sources, the Colorado, Minnesota, and Louisiana

affiliates of the NFB provide scholarships for student

attendance. Funds from the state agencies sponsoring each student

are not used for this purpose.
     (6) The student experience is based on more than an eight-

hour day. The positive philosophy is taught and lived in a

twenty-four-hour environment. Students learn from positive role

models: roommates, instructors, citizens in the community, and

board members. The staff accompany the students on a wide array

of field trips. These field trips are intended to provide

students with experiences they had never imagined or thought

possible. These include wilderness camping, rock climbing, white

water rafting, cave exploring, skiing, and attending festivals

such as Mardi Gras. The intent is to increase self-confidence and

promote a more positive self-image.
     (7) Except for discussion groups much of the instruction is

one-on-one. Typically between eighteen and twenty-four students

are enrolled in the residential rehabilitation program. The

staff-to-student ratio is usually around 1.5 to 1. All three

centers thought twenty students to be the optimal number. These

numbers are approximate, but below twelve students is less

desirable because the number and variety of positive role models

is restricted.
     (8) All students are taught Braille without regard to

residual vision. I met one student at the Louisiana Center who

was excited about learning to read--at age twenty-three. He had

experienced two rehabilitation centers in California, which did

not instruct him in Braille. They tried to use his residual

vision without success. Research has demonstrated that students

who become literate in Braille are far more successful in

employment and independent living than visually impaired students

not learning Braille. Braille is an important feature of the

curriculum for education, as is the long white cane for

traveling. Proficiency in both is essential and required.
     (9) Students also participate in several additional

curricular areas, including computer skills, cooking, and

woodworking. These are subjects important in their own right but

also teach independence and self-reliance and provide a broader

perspective on the capabilities of blind people.
     (10) As previously mentioned, sleep shade use is required

throughout the curriculum. Students are told this before they

arrive, and it is clearly communicated in most brochures and

informational material. All three directors agreed that there is

no better way to teach the skills of independent living. Although

programs are individualized for each student, all are told before

they arrive that these programs teach a distinct philosophy about

     (11) Students do not pick and choose preferred aspects of

the curriculum; the training is both intensive and comprehensive.

One staff member likened the experience to boot camp. Students

must follow all specific rules, or their training will be

discontinued. Students with problems other than blindness, if too

disruptive, will be sent home.


     (1) All staff members must have been competitively employed

before being considered for employment in these three agencies.

This is an additional dimension to the positive role modeling;

students learn from their competent blind instructors about other

employment opportunities that might be available.
     (2) Blindness is not a requirement; however, most of the

instructors are blind. If a competent blind instructor is

available, this makes role modeling even stronger. At BLIND,

Inc., Joyce Scanlan, Director, observed that many students come

to the program initially having more confidence in the sighted

members of the staff. This quickly changes and bonding occurs.

Negative opinions of the sighted staff do not grow, but new

levels of appreciation and respect develop concerning the

qualities of the blind staff.
     (3) All employees must share in the positive views reflected

in the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind--

otherwise they will not be retained. The agency in Louisiana is

the only one of the three that requires all employees to

participate in the National Federation of the Blind.
     Such personnel policies differ dramatically from those

frequently seen at larger private agencies. Sometimes it is

difficult--if not impossible--for staff members from more

traditional agencies to express in their behavior their

philosophy of independence. They may encounter resistance in

larger agencies dominated by sighted or blind individuals with

traditional philosophies or practices involving custodial care.

The effort of a teacher to become more effective and be a

positive role model can become a threat in the traditional

agency. In fact Scanlan observed that workers in larger centers

are sometimes rewarded for their willingness to be dependent upon

other staff members. They are rewarded for being led around

rather than traveling independently because the former maintains

the status quo. Also in more traditional agencies there is the

additional problem of the accumulation of minimally competent

people because it is difficult to remove them. According to the

people I interviewed, learning from teachers who often appear to

have little confidence in other blind people is one of the most

deadening experiences a student can encounter. Staff members who

demonstrate unnecessary dependence or anything less than the

highest levels of accomplishment are not acceptable in these

three agencies, where the example and contribution of each person

is critical.
     (4) Sighted employees undergo extensive sleep-shade training

as part of their new-employee orientation program. For example,

the sighted industrial arts teacher at BLIND, Inc., of Minnesota

spent three months at the Louisiana Center learning the skills of

blindness with the use of sleep shades. Sighted employees

frequently use their sleep shades as part of the educational

effort to teach a particular skill to a blind student.
     (5) Although stated in several different ways, I frequently

heard employees characterize themselves as believing in blind

people. The intent of the staff is to accomplish more than

teaching a particular skill. According to Diane McGeorge of the

Colorado Center, a strong component of success is the commitment 

of each staff member to the success of each student, along with

high expectations of what blind people can achieve. The program

tries to communicate that clients can take control of their own

     (6) The staff expect self-reliance. Students are expected to

learn to solve individual problems as they arise. At many more

traditional residential rehabilitation centers things are done

for students that are not even considered at these three centers.

At some traditional centers I have observed students eating in

cafeterias rather than preparing their own meals. At one of the

other centers blind students raise their hands in the cafeteria

and receive prompt assistance. At another center students can

even request that meals be delivered to their rooms. To the staff

of the three NFB-oriented centers, such behavior would be viewed

as custodialism. Custodial treatment is detrimental to the

acquisition of a positive self-concept and the expectation that a

blind person can live independently.


Social Organization
     All three of these agencies began during the period 1984 to

1988. Each was established without the assistance of the others.

Each is closely linked to the state affiliate of the National

Federation of the Blind (NFB). Each was started by individuals

active in the NFB.
     The NFB has affiliates throughout the fifty states and also 

in Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Each state affiliate is

formally linked to the national organization. Each state can

pursue its own way of promoting the interests of blind people and

the education of the public about blindness.
     Each of these three agencies was begun with the financial

assistance of the state affiliates--the NFB of Colorado,

Minnesota, and Louisiana. The reason for developing these three

residential rehabilitation centers was an awareness of the

limitations of existing programs. Existing agencies were not, in

the opinion of these members of consumer organizations, preparing

the students adequately for a life of independence, self-

reliance, and full participation in society. They decided to

create new agencies that would address these concerns by

developing a curriculum and recruiting a staff that would embody

a more positive view of blindness. I have mentioned these values,

curriculum, and staffing patterns earlier in this report.
     Each of these centers is a not-for-profit organization, and

each is governed by a Board of Directors. In all cases at least

half of the board must be comprised of blind people. The blind

members of these boards must be competitively employed and active

in local consumer organizations of blind people.
     For most of the several hundred private blindness

rehabilitation agencies in the United States, board memberships

are based on wealth and social status--to help legitimate the

agency in the local community and assist in fund raising. These

are important issues to these three agencies as well; however,

the overriding concern is to have a governing board that is

sympathetic to and knowledgeable of the philosophies of these

agencies. All board members are expected to be involved in some

aspect of the agency's programs.


Assessing Outcomes
     Data to judge one agency or to compare the performance of

different agencies are rare. In a 1991 report BLIND, Inc.,

reviewed the subsequent experience of students graduated in the

previous year. This agency focused on outcomes. This helps avoid

wasting scarce resources and places emphasis on the frequently

stated goals of the rehabilitation process. In the short run this

means determining whether or not students have learned valued

skills and attitudes. In the longer view it refers to the

consequences the required skills and attitudes have for

vocational success and independent living. For example, BLIND,

Inc., in its annual report for 1991 listed the outcome of its

rehabilitation efforts.

     Twenty-six students participated in the comprehensive

training program in 1991. Of those, three had not completed

training. Those who have left the program are doing the     

     10--attending high school or college


      4--seeking employment

      3--living independently

                                     (BLIND, Inc., 1991, pp. 2-3)

Whatever else the future holds for these individuals, the report 

suggests that they have not become dependent on the agency and

are living independently and continuing their education and



Agencies Compared in Minnesota
     Data comparing agencies on student outcomes are also rare.

The Department of Jobs and Training, State Services for the

Blind, contracts with three private agencies in Minnesota to

provide alternative techniques for blind people to pursue their

vocational and rehabilitation interests more efficiently. These

are Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions (BLIND, Inc.), the

Minneapolis Society for the Blind (MSB), and the Duluth

Lighthouse for the Blind (DLB).
     The following charts were based on data collected by the

staff for the Minnesota State Services for the Blind. For the

question concerning what students did with their lives after

leaving the training facilities, the first chart shows that the

difference in the outcomes for those involved in the three

agencies was great.


[CAPTION: Activity after Training: This bar chart represents the

percentage of graduates from each agency engaged in each


Employment, BLIND 14 percent, MSB 5 percent, DLB 6 percent;

Student, BLIND 43 percent, MSB 14 percent, DLB 11 percent;

Planning, BLIND 28 percent, MSB 23 percent, DLB 6 percent;

Looking for Job, BLIND 14 percent, MSB 5 percent, DLB 0 percent;

Homemaking, BLIND 0 percent, MSB 10 percent, DLB 27 percent;

Retired, BLIND 0 percent, MSB 5 percent, DLB 17 percent;

Nothing, BLIND 0 percent, MSB 37 percent, DLB 33 percent]


     Concerning the use of Braille, BLIND, Inc., reported more

than twice the percentage of students using it every week. More

than 55 percent from BLIND, Inc., reported weekly use, while only

12 percent from the Duluth Lighthouse for the Blind did so.

Activities for daily living included grooming, upkeep of

clothing, cooking, housekeeping, sewing, shopping, etc.

Similarly, for these tasks there were pronounced differences

among agencies. The Duluth Lighthouse for the Blind was the

weakest on all measures, according to the NFB of Minnesota

analysis of the data.


[CAPTION: Daily Living After Training. This bar chart shows the

percentage of graduates from each agency engaged in the various

activities charted: Banking, BLIND 79 percent, MSB 51 percent,

DLB 50 percent;

General shopping, BLIND 79 percent, MSB 51 percent, DLB 50


Grocery shopping, BLIND 85 percent, MSB 42 percent, DLB 40


Personal organization, BLIND 70 percent, MSB 56 percent, DLB 56



     I have no ready access to additional data that would permit 

additional comparisons of the type mentioned above. It would

doubtless be a sensitive issue in most states. However, the

differences describing agency outcomes in Minnesota were so great

that additional research is justified.


Interviews with Individuals
     I conducted more than thirty brief, casual interviews with

currently enrolled students in the three agencies. I also

conducted nine open-ended, in-depth interviews with individuals

who had completed the residential programs within the previous

twelve months. Of this group comprised of four women and five men

ranging in age from nineteen to forty-two years, three were

continuing their higher education and six were competitively

     Disclosure: I am a member of the NFB and am sympathetic to

its previously mentioned general goals. I am aware of my own

values and likely biases. I think my level of self-understanding

and critical reflection enables me to look at these agencies and

interview these individuals in a balanced manner.


     Before beginning site visits, I presumed the likelihood of a

social network which might recruit clients to these three

agencies. Some critics have argued that these agencies exist

primarily to recruit members for the NFB. New members may be one

outcome, but it does not appear to be an explanation for the

level of staff commitment and the nature of student responses.
     Of the approximately thirty informal interviews, only six

individuals had previously been involved in NFB local

organizations before attending these three centers. Only one of

the nine individuals in the in-depth interviews had previous

involvement in the NFB. Many of them had never heard of the NFB

or the state affiliates where these three agencies are located.

In all cases current clients are likely to come from the state

where the agency is located. However, approximately one third

come from other states scattered across the United States.

Incidentally, there are occasionally students from other

countries; staff from these three agencies have also been

involved in transporting their programs and philosophies to other

countries, most recently to Poland.
     I repeatedly inquired why individuals selected these three

agencies. The answers were quite varied. Some were referred by

their local rehabilitation counselors. Others had heard of these

programs from acquaintances who had either attended or had some

knowledge of the agencies. One of my conclusions is that

individuals do not come to these agencies through an NFB network.

Any self-selection process biasing assessment outcomes is



In-depth Interviews
     Based on my observations at the three sites and my informal 

conversations with resident clients, I was not surprised that the

nine former students I interviewed by telephone were positive

about their recent residential rehabilitation experience. All

stated that the programs had helped them reach their individual

goals. These goals included greater independence, preparation to

pursue higher education more effectively, and employment. Those

currently employed had received placement assistance from their

rehabilitation center.
     In various ways all nine indicated that they had left the

programs with greater confidence in themselves and a more

positive philosophy about their situations as blind people. Seven

of the nine spoke in different ways of the importance of the

"unusual things we did." They mentioned doing things that they

never would have thought of previously, such as rock climbing,

white-water rafting, and traveling to a distant city to

participate in a national convention.
     Although they expressed it in different ways, all of them

thought that the stress on a positive philosophy (through staff

example, other students, and the regularly scheduled discussions

concerning a positive philosophy) were an extremely important

feature of their experience. Two individuals stated that, however

good they were, the specific techniques they learned were not as

important as the overall impact of the programs on their lives.
     Four of the nine students had different levels of residual

vision. All valued the sleep-shade aspect of the training. They

valued cane-travel training from a blind instructor. This was

even the case for the two individuals who had encountered

blindness within the previous two years.
     All of the students valued the independent-living experience

associated with their residence--having a roommate, being

responsible for their abode, preparing their food, and having

personal responsibility for things affecting their lives. One

mentioned that the "bar was placed very high." The staff set high

expectations and worked with each individual to this end. Other

individuals mentioned the importance of informal group

activities--the way in which students learned from each other's

successes. Eight of the nine had become active in local chapters

of the NFB. They developed ongoing friendships with their

teachers as well as with other students. They had not been a part

of a supportive social network before they came to these

agencies, but following their graduation they continued their

association with other blind people sharing a similar philosophy

about blindness.
     I had to look hard to find complaints. Some felt that the

challenges in the early part of the rehabilitation process had

been too great. However, as they worked through their fears, they

retrospectively felt their anxiety to have been part of an old

self-concept that they had left behind. I have no doubt that

these nine individuals felt their lives had been permanently and

positively changed. They had not only reached their specific

goals in an important sense but felt that they had become

different people.
     Not every person attending these programs will have the same

experience as these individuals. In my sample I tried to assure

that the nine individuals did not have obvious personal or

physical problems other than blindness. I obtained this

information from the directors.
     These agencies do accept students with physical and other

problems as long as their behavior is not disruptive and as long 

as the individual has a possibility of benefiting from the

rehabilitation experience. For example, one of the students I met

was recently blinded at age twenty-five--injured by a shotgun

blast while individuals disputed a drug transaction. While

beginning his rehabilitation towards independent living, Braille,

and mobility, he was required to attend programs to help him

become free from drug and alcohol dependency. Relapses in

chemical dependency would mean dismissal from the program. Other

students have various levels of mental ability, determination,

and ambition. They may not aspire to higher education and may

have limited employment goals. Clear progress is more difficult

to determine in these cases.


Repeat Visits to Residential Rehabilitation Centers
     One of the unexpected findings of my informal interviews

with students at the three centers was the number of clients who 

had previously attended one, two, or even three other residential

rehabilitation centers. With hindsight and their obvious

appreciation of their present situation, all of them said that

their earlier residential rehabilitation experiences had been

inadequate. They complained about various shortcomings, including

failure to teach cane travel properly and short programs that

were too brief to permit mastery of the skills of blindness.
     If there is a national pattern to sequential visits to

different rehabilitation programs, it merits further study. The

costs of these visits are considerable; $3,000 per month is a

commonly quoted figure. Assuming the earlier visits were

inadequate, there may be unnecessary months and years when

potential workers are not in the labor force. There also may be

unnecessary months and years of individuals' living restricted

lives and being unnecessarily dependent on others.
     To obtain a broader perspective on this issue, I spoke with 

Ms. Suzanne Mitchell, Executive Director for Blind Services,

Department of Social Services/Louisiana Rehabilitation Services

for the Louisiana Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Baton

Rouge, Louisiana. She confirmed that the sequential visits do

frequently occur, although she did not know of any research

specific to this issue. She mentioned several possible reasons:
     1) Some clients enjoy these experiences and request

additional opportunities.
     2) Some counselors easily grant requests or themselves

suggest additional visits--it is something for the client to do.
     3) Some visits are too brief to make significant

rehabilitation possible.
     4) Some visits may be for a specific technique such as to

learn to develop computer skills or perhaps to train for a

specific occupation.
     5) Frequently those who are gradually losing eyesight

receive rehabilitation services appropriate to their level of

vision loss. A year later a new round may be deemed necessary to

add additional skills of blindness.
     I suggest other possible explanations. The first is the

politics of spending public money. Residential rehabilitation

centers are highly dependent on cash flow resulting from client

fees. In some cases some rehabilitation counselors, through

normal social networks, may be responsive to the needs of

particular agencies to receive more clients. Second, some

residential rehabilitation programs are not as effective as

others. Even after many months, some other graduates may not have

learned independent living skills or other skills necessary for

employment (see data comparing the Minnesota agency presented

     Finally, some blind individuals may have multiple problems

as do others in American society. These additional problems may

prevent significant progress. If some of these can be solved in

another context, it may make sense to send the person for another

session at a residential rehabilitation center.
     The frequency of these sequential visits and the reasons for

their occurrence merit further research.


     My observations, reading of documents, and interviews

persuade me that the three agencies--BLIND, Inc., of Minnesota;

the Colorado Center for the Blind; and the Louisiana Center for

the Blind are offering remarkably effective residential

rehabilitation programs at this time. Main ingredients of this

outcome include able leadership; careful staffing; a broad,

positive, and yet realistic philosophy about blindness; and a

curriculum that links philosophy to student development. The

setting, including student residences, is also integrated into

the overall rehabilitation program. There is a pervasive upbeat

atmosphere which would be hard for any student to ignore. From

the board of directors, director, staff, and students there is a

strong commitment to the values and importance of these

rehabilitation centers. Almost everyone sets high expectations,

and everyone wants each student to succeed.
     By the information these agencies present, the graduates of 

these residential rehabilitation programs are successful as

measured by student goals for attending one of these centers.

Many current students and a small sample of former students speak

very well, almost without qualification, of these programs. Some

present and former students speak of their experience as "life-

transforming." In addition to particular skills, they have

acquired a self-concept, a guiding philosophy, and a social

network enabling them to sustain their ability to conquer future

     In general I have a critical attitude toward almost

everything and would have readily exposed any problems,

discontent, or failure in performance that I observed or learned

about. More research should be done in order to compare these

three agencies with other not-for-profit private agencies or the 

few state-operated residential rehabilitation centers. Additional

research should be conducted on the issue of why students

frequently attend residential rehabilitation centers on multiple

occasions. Is it because some centers are ineffective? Are the

other reasons justified? Which reasons and why?



[PHOTO/CAPTION: Cheralyn Braithwaite]

              The Blind in the Teaching Profession

                     by Cheralyn Braithwaite


     From the Editor: The first item on the Thursday morning

agenda at the 1998 National Convention was a presentation by

Cheralyn Braithwaite, a special education teacher from Bountiful,

Utah. Her story was familiar, but she told it with compelling

honesty and heart-warming enthusiasm. This is what she said:


     I was born to a family of ten children. When I was one year

old, my mom noticed that I held books close to my face and that I

watched TV with my chin on the TV table--there are still teeth

marks on the edge of it to prove it. My dad and some of my

brothers and sisters dismissed it as a bad habit. None of them

wanted me to visit an optometrist for fear we'd find out I was

going to be different, need glasses, and be made fun of. As well

intended as my family was, they were afraid of my vision or the

lack of it.
     I fell into that fear by pretending I was no different from

anyone else. We found out that I had "extreme myopia, a lazy eye,

and astigmatism." I got glasses when I was almost two and contact

lenses at four. They helped, but just hid the problem. When asked

if I could see a deer at the side of the road, I pretended I

could. I endured backyard vision screenings, playing catch with a

brother who was convinced that the harder he threw the softball,

the more likely I'd be to see it. When watching a movie or play,

I laughed on the cue of the rest of the audience, pretending I

knew the punch line without admitting I needed an explanation. It

goes on and on.
     My scheming worked for years--or so I thought. In school I

pretended to read as all the other students did in class. I

pretended I could take the quiz written on the chalkboard or

overhead projector. Although I was a relatively hard-working

student, I allowed my grades to slide and allowed myself to

accept being less than I am.
     One experience I had during this period of pretending to be

normal still haunts me. I had just proved my ability to perform

in an advanced English class in the seventh grade. The transfer

was made, and soon I was involved in a group presentation on The

Red Badge of Courage. My turn to present came. It was accompanied

by an all too familiar anxiety attack. I looked at my notes and

then at my peers and decided it just wasn't worth the humiliation

of holding the paper at the necessary reading distance, the end

of my nose. Instead, I chose an alternate route to humiliation. I

attempted to read my notes at the normal distance. The student

next to me (as well as the teacher and the rest of the class, I'm

sure) sensed my difficulty. This student began whispering my

notes to me like a parent to a timid child performing for an

audience. I dismissed my frustration with a laugh here and there

between my disjointed prompts. Finally it ended. I hoped I could

now put the experience behind me. But that wasn't possible. The

adolescent devastation was there to stay. My teacher didn't let

it go either. She called my parents to find out if I was able to

read. She thought I wasn't intelligent enough for her class. Dad

made the necessary excuses, and I was able to remain in the

class. Unfortunately the memory also remained. Trying to be

normal wasn't worth the pain.
     This faking continued until my vision decreased

significantly in my eighth-grade year. The issue could no longer

be ignored. I saw a specialist and was finally given a label. "I

have cone dystrophy," and soon thereafter I was able to say, "I

am visually impaired." The second label came after being

introduced to special education and a dear friend named Carol.

She helped me face my fears of admitting there was a problem and

helped me to make adaptations. This was a huge step in my life. I

no longer allowed anything to keep me from getting straight A's.
     I still had a lot of learning to do by way of admitting to

myself that I couldn't do things the same way as others around

me. I even got a driver's license. (I guess legally I could

drive, but realistically I was crazy to try--especially when I

cheated on one of the vision tests.) Driving lasted for only a

few years until I'd put myself and others in danger too many

times. Giving it up, as much as I needed to, was devastating. I

remember other periods of devastation, sitting in classes and

other situations with tearful eyes, wondering why I was so stupid

and why couldn't I do things the same way as the students or

friends around me could. All of this in an attempt to be normal.

It too wasn't worth the pain.
     College wasn't a huge adjustment. I entered Brigham Young

University as a special education major with two scholarships and

the same old insecurities. I learned quickly that I couldn't

depend on Support Services for Students with Disabilities.

Classes weren't easy, so I had to start developing my own

adaptive techniques. With each semester I learned techniques that

would make the next one even easier. I got my own readers; I

learned to rely on descriptions while using binoculars to

distinguish objects in slides or on the board. I figured out that

I can read print on certain colors more easily than on others, so

I began using colored transparency sheets to lay over the page I

was reading. Through this I gained confidence, but I still

avoided computers at all costs.
     This confidence greatly increased when I came in contact

with Norman Gardner, Ray Martin, and their wives. They introduced

me to the National Federation of the Blind just over two years

ago. They came at just the right time. Relationships, my choice

of major, and other serious decisions in my life left me doubting

myself as I never had before. I was dragged to Anaheim,

California, by Norm and Ray for the 1996 National Convention of

the National Federation of the Blind.
     It really was quite an ordeal getting me there. I was very

scared. I had never traveled alone; I never did anything alone.

(I went out of my way to plan for family members or friends to be

with me wherever I went. I couldn't even walk into church alone

for fear I wouldn't find the pew where my family sat.) Now this!

Flying alone, navigating an airport alone, claiming baggage

alone, coping with possible transfers alone. My dad never really

liked the idea of my going places alone, and I knew I hated the

idea myself. But I finally consented because there would be other

people whom I had met once before on the same flight, and they

were willing to help me.
     Although overwhelmed, I soon came to know many people who

have become some of my best friends and role models--Kristen Cox,

Ron Gardner, Robert Olsen, their spouses, and Bruce Gardner. I

began to learn that I had potential that I'd never given myself

credit for and never let others see. I knew I didn't have to be

afraid anymore of who I was. I knew I would be more honest with

myself and be able to let others see the real me. All of these

feelings culminated at the banquet. I had heard all the

incredible plans of the scholarship winners, and I realized I

didn't want to live any of the misconceptions that President

Maurer referred to. Most of all, I knew my life could never be

the same. The pretending and the fear had to end. I went from

doubting my identity, my career choice, and even my self-worth,

to craving independence that I'd never experienced before.
     In fact, I was accepted to go on a study abroad program to

London. This is where the craving began. By the end of the

program, I was navigating and using the Underground or Tube (the

subway system) independently. I loved the freedom of getting from

place to place, experiencing the culture, etc., with the group or

on my own if I wanted to.
     Just one year after Anaheim I had school schedule conflicts

that caused me to have to leave a few days late for last year's

National Convention in New Orleans. This meant flying alone,

transferring alone, claiming baggage alone, and getting to the

hotel alone. This time, however, I had a much different

experience. I looked at it as an opportunity and adventure to

test some of my new travel skills and self-reliance. My friend

Norm described it as an example of personal triumph and

independence. What a contrast to the previous year. That

convention only reinforced and intensified the feelings from the

year before.
     Back to school now. As required at BYU, I had opportunities

to volunteer and later to teach in different classroom settings

each semester in the special education program. I encountered

frightening, stressful, and even dangerous situations. But, as my

mom likes to remind me, a thought hit me one day near the end of

my college career. I realized that I was capable of handling any

one of these classroom situations.  My traveling experience as

well as experiences in my education, soon helped me realize that

I didn't want to be the average blind person with the average

job. . . (I think most of us have heard the quotation). I wanted

to be the best! Doing the best job!
     Before I found this determination, I had been terrified. I

was convinced that I was crazy to think I could be a teacher. I

dreaded applying for jobs because I just knew I would be a joke,

walking into any interview. I had begun to talk myself into

settling for a teacher's assistant position. That way I wouldn't

have to be as responsible and could just follow in someone else's

     But, as I said, my introduction to the NFB came at just the

right time. I began using a cane (after leaving my lasting

impression in college when I missed the barricades and stepped

into fresh cement on campus), and I also began learning how to be

up-front about my blindness in professional situations. I

absolutely hated the interviewing process, but I kept at it.

Suddenly the terror ended when I interviewed with some very open-

minded people. I was amazed to find that I wouldn't be turned

down because of a disability but instead that I was hired, not

only because of my accomplishments, but also because of the

determination and sensitivity my blindness has given me. Soon I

found myself tearfully saying good-bye to my parents (both

natural and in the Federation) to accept a position an hour away

in a junior high intellectually disabled unit. Here was the

independence I'd longed for.
     I am fortunate enough to have a boss who is very sensitive

to the needs of his teachers. He knew there was a possibility

that I'd need some adaptive technology. So for Christmas he gave

me a request form for the things I needed. Now I have a large

computer monitor (my jumbo tron), with speech and enlargement

software on the way (I can't survive without the one thing I

hated and dreaded in school--I'd die without my computer), and I

also have a lighting system in my classroom that dims above my

desk to make my reading and paper work more bearable.
     I am also fortunate to work with amazing teachers who are

willing to support and help each other whenever needed. They

aren't condescending in their offers to help. But I think they

are still learning about me as an individual and about blindness

in general. (I really confused them when I won the turkey at the

Thanksgiving faculty free throw contest.)
     It's hard to believe I ever considered being merely a

teacher's assistant. I now have two full-time assistants and one

part-time assistant working under me. I also supervise several

students who get credit for being peer tutors in my classroom. My

assistants understand my limitations (not seeing problem

behaviors at the back of the room, etc.) and are able to follow

my cues to deal with such situations. They know that I'm in

charge, and I'm able to give them unique responsibilities that

they might not have in a sighted teacher's classroom. I find that

this brings accountability and consistency to my classroom.
     I can even recognize ways that my students benefit from my

blindness. I'm sensitive to their feelings of inadequacy. I'm

able to come up with alternative ways of learning the same thing.

The concepts they learn are practiced and reinforced since I have

to ask them to read or tell me what they are working on or what

their answer is. I'm not afraid to admit, and even laugh, when I

make a mistake.
     I absolutely love my job! I never expected to enjoy being a

professional so much. It wasn't an easy road getting to this

point, and I know the journey continues. I know I owe much of

this to my involvement in the National Federation of the Blind.

It was this organization that helped me gain confidence, self-

respect, initiative, and courage to do the things I've mentioned.

I was strengthened by the philosophy, the history I learned from

reading Walking Alone and Marching Together, the leadership, the

political influence I witnessed at Washington Seminar, etc. I

will forever be grateful for what I have gained and will continue

to gain from the NFB and the people and philosophy that make it

what it is. I now hope to bring it to others so that it can

dramatically change their lives too. Thank you.



[PHOTO/CAPTION: Sharon Maneki]

                     Distinguished Educator

                of Blind Children Award for 1999

                        by Sharon Maneki


     From the Editor: Sharon Maneki is President of the National

Federation of the Blind of Maryland. She also chairs the

committee to select the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children

for 1999.


     The National Federation of the Blind will recognize an

outstanding teacher of blind children at our 1999 convention June

30 to July 7, in Atlanta, Georgia. The winner of this award will

receive an expense-paid trip to the convention, a check for $500,

an appropriate plaque, and an opportunity to make a presentation

about the education of blind children to the National

Organization of Parents of Blind Children early in the

     Anyone who is currently teaching or counseling blind

students or administering a program for blind children is

eligible to receive this award. It is not necessary to be a

member of the National Federation of the Blind to apply. However,

the winner must attend the National Convention. Teachers may be

nominated by colleagues, supervisors, or friends. The letter of

nomination should explain why the teacher is being recommended

for this award.
     The education of blind children is one of our most important

concerns. Attendance at a National Federation of the Blind

convention will enrich a teacher's experience by affording him or

her the opportunity to meet other teachers who work with blind

children, to meet parents, and to meet blind adults who have had

experiences in a variety of educational programs. Help us

recognize a distinguished teacher by distributing this form and

encouraging teachers to submit their credentials. We are pleased

to offer this award and look forward to applications from many

well-qualified educators.




                        1999 APPLICATION

Home address:                                                    
City:                             State:         Zip:            
Day phone:                     Evening phone:                    
City:                            State:          Zip:            

List your degrees, the institutions from which they were

received, and your major area or areas of study.

How long and in what programs have you worked with blind


In what setting do you teach?     residential school classroom
   special education classroom    itinerant program
    other, please explain. 

How many students do you teach regularly this year?              

What subjects do you teach?                                      

How many of your students read and write primarily using: 
    Braille      large print     closed circuit television
    recorded materials     regular print

     Please complete this application and attach the following: a

letter of nomination from someone who knows your work, one

additional recommendation also from someone who knows you

professionally and knows your philosophy of teaching, and a

letter from you discussing your beliefs and approach to teaching

blind students. You may wish to discuss topics like the


*    What are your views on the importance to your students of

     Braille, large print, and magnification devices; and what

     issues do you consider when making recommendations about

     learning media for your students? 

*    When do you recommend that your students begin the

     following: reading Braille, writing with a slate and stylus,

     using a Braille writer, learning to travel independently

     with a white cane? 

*    How should one determine which children should learn cane

     travel and which should not?

*    When should typing be introduced, and when should a child be

     expected to hand in typed assignments?
     Send all material by May 15, 1999, to Sharon Maneki,

Chairwoman, Teacher Award Committee, 9736 Basket Ring Road,

Columbia, Maryland 21045; telephone: (410) 992-9608.



[PHOTO/CAPTION: Steve Benson]

            The 1999 Blind Educator of the Year Award

                      by Stephen O. Benson


     From the Editor: Steve Benson is a member of the Board of

Directors of the National Federation of the Blind and President

of the NFB of Illinois. He also chairs the committee charged with

identifying each year's Blind Educator of the Year. Here is what

he has to say:


     Several years ago the Blind Educator of the Year Award was

established by the National Association of Blind Educators (the

teachers division of the National Federation of the Blind) to pay

tribute to a blind teacher whose exceptional classroom

performance, notable community service, and uncommon commitment

to the NFB merit national recognition. Beginning with the 1991

presentation, this award became an honor bestowed by our entire

movement. This change reflects our recognition of the importance

of good teaching and the impact an outstanding blind teacher has

on students, faculty, community, and all blind Americans.
     This award is given in the spirit of the outstanding

educators who founded and have continued to nurture the National

Federation of the Blind and who, by example, have imparted

knowledge of our strengths to us and raised our expectations. We

have learned from Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, and

President Marc Maurer that a teacher not only provides a student

with information, but also provides guidance and advocacy. The

recipient of the Blind Educator of the Year Award must exhibit

all of these traits and must advance the cause of blind people in

the spirit and philosophy of the National Federation of the

     The Blind Educator of the Year Award is presented at the

annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind.

Honorees must be present to receive an appropriately inscribed

plaque and a check for $500.
     Nominations should be sent to Steve Benson, 7020 North

Tahoma, Chicago, Illinois 60646. Letters of nomination must be

accompanied by a copy of the nominee's current resume and

supporting documentation of community and Federation activity.

All nomination materials must be in the hands of the committee

chairman by May 15, 1999, to be considered for this year's award.



[PHOTO/CAPTION: Tim Day investigates the Braille Lite in the

exhibit hall at the 1998 NFB Convention.]

                       A Trip To Remember!

                           by Tim Day


     From the Editor: Tim Day is one of the young people whose

parents comprise the National Organization of Parents of Blind

Children. In many ways he has grown up in the NFB, but everyone

has to discover the truths the Federation has to offer for him or

herself. The following story first appeared in the Summer, 1998,

edition of the Blind Washingtonian, a publication of the NFB of

Washington. Here is Tim's story:


     Blind Washingtonian's note: Tim Day is the teenaged son of

Debbie Day, active member of our Parents of Blind Children

Division. Here is what he had to say during the parents lunch

meeting, held in conjunction with our State Convention.


     The past few years I have enjoyed going to a regular old

summer camp where you have lots of fun goofing off with other

kids and no responsibilities. I loved it! But then I graduated

from the camp, due to my age, and my mom started talking about

something different. She started talking about sending me to the

Buddy Program that is held each summer at either the NFB Center

for the Blind in Colorado or Louisiana.
     I did not want to go. First of all, it meant possibly flying

alone to one of these states, staying a month, and then, instead

of just doing nothing but have fun, I was expected to learn

skills to be independent! No way!
     Independence sounds great, but the fact is that it's hard.

Maybe for people who are just blind it's easier, but for me it's

hard, and I certainly did not want to go to a summer program

where the fun was going to be replaced by work! I could not

believe that my mom was even suggesting it--but then again she

was big on this idea of independence.
     Even though she kept mentioning it from time to time, I did

not really think she would send me, but then the official word

came--I was going! I imagined all sorts of things, like maybe

they would let me starve to death if I didn't prepare my own

meals, or maybe I'd get lost because I wouldn't know my way

around. I could not believe my parents were really going to do

this to me!
     But on July 12, I boarded a plane alone for Denver,

Colorado. While there, I lived in an apartment off campus with my

counselor Alan and Robert Riddle, a kid from Vancouver,

Washington. All of us were blind.
     Well, I am going to tell you that it was hard, but it was

also fun--more fun than hard, too! Most weekdays we had to be up

early, shower, eat, make a sack lunch, and catch the bus to

campus for classes. We took classes in daily living skills,

Braille, computer, and orientation and mobility. All my teachers

except one were blind, and they talked about what it meant to be

     We did some job shadowing out in the community, learned to

rock climb, went to movies, and went out to dinner. We shopped

for our own food, cooked our own meals, and cleaned up after

ourselves. Instead of using a car as we do at home, in Denver we

used public transportation for everything.
     They have two programs. One is for the younger kids, nine to

fourteen, and it's a month long. That's the one I attended. The

program for the high school students is eight weeks long and

includes attending the NFB National Convention for one week. The

younger kids do job shadowing while the older kids actually hold 

paying jobs in the community.
     One of the things I enjoy most is foreign languages, so I

was very fortunate that Robert, my roommate, knew Spanish. We

often would spend the entire bus ride each morning talking with

each other in Spanish, much to the delight of the others on the

     Dan Wenzel, the director of the Buddy Program, told my mom a

funny story. One day he and I were out walking on a mobility

lesson when we passed a couple of teenaged boys talking in

Spanish. Well, I came to a complete halt, turned, and then

started talking to them. After a few moments of complete silence,

they responded, and soon we had a conversation going. Dan knows

very little Spanish, so he had no idea what we were saying, which

made him a bit nervous. He kept gently mentioning that we should

continue on, but these kids and I kept right on talking. We were

just chatting, so I thought it was pretty funny when Dan told my

mom that he was secretly praying that we weren't setting up some

kind of drug deal as he silently stood there smiling!
     The staff at the Center recognize my skill with other

languages and know that I want to become a translator. So as I

continue to attend the program, they will work to provide

opportunities to help me reach that goal.
     But probably Dan is going to have to learn a bit more

Spanish if he wants to relax when we're out together!
     Learning skills to be independent is hard, and it was not

that I learned so many new skills while I was in Colorado that's

made such a difference. It was getting the feel of being an

independent blind person by living it every day with other blind

people that has changed me. Before I left, I resisted every

attempt my mom made to make me do things for myself. When I

returned, I shocked her (and maybe me too!) with my new attitude.
     I have been cooking my own breakfast and lunch, using the

microwave every day since I returned, and soon I will be working

on using the stove and adding more complicated stuff. I no longer

fight my mom when she introduces a new skill or increases my

chores. I cannot wait to surprise the staff at the Center next

summer with all the new things I am able to do independently.
     It's funny, I did not want to go to Colorado, but once I was

there, I did not want to go home! I really liked all the

counselors, teachers, and other students. It was great fun living

in the apartment and making our own decisions.
     Everyone is just really nice there. They are patient and

helpful as they work to teach you new skills and always make you

feel good about yourself. I am really, really glad I went, and I

definitely plan on returning next summer.



               Facing Windows of Lost Opportunity

                       by Steve Alexander


     From the Editor: The following article is reprinted from the

November 2, 1998, issue of Computer World. Steve Alexander is a

free lance writer in Edina, Minnesota. Clear and honest

discussions like this one are a significant help in educating the

programming world to the real problems facing blind computer

programmers. This is what Mr. Alexander said:


     Blind programmers could compete quite nicely in the IT

[information technology] work place when the mainframe was king.

But today, as graphically oriented Windows tool kits displace the

text-based mainframe development, blind programmers are facing an

uncertain future. Nonstandard graphical components in many new

tool kits can't be read by the blind. That's true despite the

help of screen translating devices that traditionally have

enabled them to work alongside their sighted information

technology co-workers. To a large extent this is shutting blind

programmers out of new client/server development projects. And

it's hampering their careers more than co-worker attitudes about

blindness ever did.
     "Most of the new applications right now are coming from tool

kits that blind people can't use," says Janina Sajka, director of

information systems at the American Foundation for the Blind in

New York. "While there is some hope on the horizon that we can

get tool kit companies to be more responsive to serving all

people ..., the prospects today are fairly bleak."
     It isn't that people don't care, says Gary Wunder, a senior

computer programmer/analyst for mainframes at the University of

Missouri in Columbia, who is blind. "But everything these days

has to be justified with a business case. If there aren't enough

programmers who are blind who want to do something, why do it?"
     At the same time blind programmers must face stereotypical

ideas about the limitations of blind people, says Curtis Chong,

president of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer

Science. Chong, who is blind, is director of technology at the

organization in Baltimore.
     "IT workers at some companies have learned that blind people

can compete. But lots of others have never worked with a blind

person before, and attitude-related barriers apply," Chong says.


                     The Friendly Mainframe


     Chong says blind programmers have long been able to do their

jobs in the mainframe world. After all, mainframe languages such

as Fortran, Cobol, and assembler are text-based. Using screen

readers--software that converts text on the screen to speech--

blind programmers were able to read what was on the screen and do

the same development work as sighted colleagues.
     When PC's arrived in the 1980's, blind programmers could

still do their work because the DOS operating system was text-

based. The text could be read with screen-reader software, Chong

     But with the arrival of the Windows graphical user

interfaces, which couldn't be converted to text, blind

programmers were initially locked out of the newer PC and

client/server worlds, Chong says. That door was partially

reopened for blind programmers when screen-reader software was

adapted to convert some, but not all, Windows graphical

interfaces into screen-readable text. But there was a catch.

Screen readers could convert graphical interfaces to text, only

if certain programming conventions were followed. And as Windows

interface technology raced ahead, software companies increasingly

took nonstandard programming shortcuts in their software

developer tool kits--shortcuts that rendered some items on the

screen invisible to screen-reader software.


                       Barring the Windows


     That has left blind programmers at a severe disadvantage

because they are in effect barred from developing in some new

Windows environments, Chong says.  "I know blind programmers who

work in C and Visual Basic in addition to mainframe languages,

because as long as they can get at a text file, they can do

programming. But if the graphical tool kit you are using requires

you to drag and drop items on the screen, you can't do it," Chong

     Crista Earl, a technology resource specialist at the

American Foundation for the Blind, agrees. "There sure haven't

been very many blind programmers who have broken into the Windows

world. In our database of 130 blind programmers, maybe a dozen

have gone into Windows development. The majority are working on

mainframes," Earl says.


                     Progress or a Problem?


     The problem faced by blind programmers boils down to

technological progress in Windows, says Michael Freeman, a

computer systems programmer in Vancouver, Washington, who is

blind. Freeman works at the Bonneville Power Administration, a

government agency that manages electric power generated by

federal dams in the Western U.S. "You can't stop people from

innovating, and I don't see that our screen readers will be able

to keep up with that," Freeman says. He programs Digital

Equipment Corp. minicomputers because they use a text-based

operating system. "I still think it's worthwhile for a blind

person to try a career as a programmer, but I do fear how well

that person will do in the long term."
     Although none of the blind programmers interviewed said he

believes he is in immediate danger of losing a job, there is

concern about whether they will be needed in the future. Freeman,

who is fifty, says he hopes there will be enough text-based work

for blind programmers to last until he retires. "Up to now I've

been able to avoid Windows NT because the computers that control

the power system are for the most part VAXes. But as more things

we use, such as time sheets and discrepancy reports, migrate to

the NT network, I'll need to do NT. I don't know what will

happen; all I can do is try."
     Wunder is also concerned about whether he can adapt to

Windows in the future. "With Windows, it's not only how do you

write a program, but, once you do, how do you make sure that the

buttons line up on the screen? How do you make it visually

attractive? I don't know the answer to that yet. . . . I'll

either be able to do my job here, or I won't. And I think the

jury is still out. That's not very comforting because my daughter

is still going to need food."
     Brian Buhrow, a senior systems engineer at the University of

California at Santa Cruz, who is a blind Unix programmer, says he

is comforted that Unix is much in demand these days. "And there

also are opportunities for doing things outside the mainstream of

end-user programming, such as doing networking stuff that's not

inherently visually oriented," Buhrow says. "These opportunities

may diminish, but they'll be there for a while."
     Perhaps the most ominous aspect of the Windows problem for

blind programmers is that they are being barred from truly

mainstream development, Sajka says.


                     Seeing-eye Programmers


     Some blind programmers have dealt with the tool kit

situation by trying to shift the Windows development projects

they couldn't handle to others, Chong says. "If you were lucky,

you could delegate that kind of work away. But if not and you

couldn't get at the underlying text of what you wanted to do, you

were out of luck. And that was the frustration many blind people

ran into," Chong says. "Then the only way a blind person could do

the work was to hire a sighted person as a reader to help run the

machine." That represented big change for blind programmers, who

had long used special devices to make themselves competitive with

sighted people. Chong says the principal devices are

screen-reading software; a Braille embosser, which accepts text

from a computer and prints it out in Braille; refreshable Braille

displays, which are tactile devices that convert a single line of

screen text into Braille in real time; and special speech

synthesizers that convert text to speech and stop and start very

     Another challenge for blind programmers: "Who will pay for

all this expensive adaptive technology, given the fact that when

the employee leaves, someone else may not find it useful?" Sajka

asks. Cost may not be an issue for the employer when it comes to

screen-reader software, which costs as little as $500. But that

could change when it comes to the purchase of a Braille display

for $3,000 to $14,000.
     There are other technical obstacles for blind programmers in

their everyday work. Something as routine as the project

management software used in some IT shops can pose a problem.

Many assign priorities to IT projects with a color-coding scheme.

"A sighted person instantly sees the priority of critical to

not-so-critical projects," Wunder says. "But how do I get that

same information? Sure, somewhere in the program is a number that

represents what the color scheme ought to be, but my screen

reader can't read that. So I still write down my IT projects on

three-by-five cards and work with my boss on priority."


                      Attitude Adjustments


     And there are nontechnical challenges for blind programmers

as well. "The problem is one of attitude," Chong says. "What is

it that an IT professional expects from somebody who is blind--do

they think that a person will be able to do work, function as a

normal human being, socialize and get along with people in the

work place? Or do they think a blind person is weird and can only

pick up a phone? IT professionals should examine their thinking

about blindness and root out the typical stereotypes."

     Do attitudes about blind programmers restrict their

opportunities to be promoted? There's no easy answer, Chong says.

It depends on whether management "has a positive acceptance of a

person who is blind," plus whether the blind person can overcome

society's tendency to undervalue the blind and push hard to be

promoted based on merit, he says.
     Buhrow says administrative jobs represent an opportunity for

blind programmers. "Blind programmers could do product management

that involves making decisions about people and products rather

than about where to put code statements. I am a programmer. But

I'm also a systems administrator, so I do a lot of things that

are not programming but rather hardware installations and


                 Debunking Myths and Stereotypes


     Blind programmers still often face a variety of stereotypes.

According to Curtis Chong, president of the National Federation

of the Blind in Computer Science, the challenges that blind

programmers face include beliefs that:

- Blind people aren't mobile and sit in a chair all day. "It's

not uncommon for me to be asked to go to class for a week in a

different town, plus check into the office every night and get

E-mail," Chong says. "And when we did disaster recovery

exercises, I was expected to go along."

- Blind people can't handle printed information. "I hire a human

reader for twenty hours a week or use optical character

recognition technology to convert text to speech or to Braille."

- Blind people who can do programming work must be incredibly

smart. "If the basic techniques are in place to deal with

blindness, it shouldn't require any more genius for a blind

person to do programming than it does a sighted person."


[PHOTO/CAPTION: Nikki Zimmerman uses a slate and stylus to write

notes during class at Carl Traeger Middle School in Oshkosh.

PHOTO/CAPTION: Nikki Zimmerman. (Note: In the August/September

Braille Monitor a picture of Nikki Zimmerman at the Dude Ranch

was incorrectly identified as Nikki White of Maryland. We regret

the error.)]

                 The Fifth Generation Speaks Out

     From the Editor: What impact can the NFB's National

Convention have on a newly blind twelve-year-old? What impact can

that twelve-year-old in turn have on the world around her? Nikki

Zimmerman and her family fought against glaucoma and the fear of

blindness for eleven years. When they lost that fight a year ago,

they might have concluded that in significant ways Nikki's life

was over. But the family heard about Bonnie Peterson, then

President of the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin,

and Bonnie helped them acquire funding to attend last summer's

National Convention in Dallas. Nikki and her mother were both

optimistic and open to the possibility and promise of the NFB's

philosophy of hope and high expectation.
     But it wasn't enough for Nikki to get the instruction in

cane travel and Braille that she needed. When Nikki heard talk of

the NFB of Wisconsin's annual walk-a-thon, she wanted to

participate. She began signing up sponsors and recruiting walkers

among her friends. But no other blind people near Oshkosh were

planning to walk. How ought she to conduct the walk-a-thon?

Nikki's mother Patty called Bonnie for advice. The solution was

simple: several hikers from Milwaukee would drive over to Madison

to join Nikki, her friends, and members of the school board who

had decided to participate in the walk. That way the kids and

school officials could all learn from the blind adults taking

part in the hike, and the experienced Federationists could help

Nikki conduct the event.
     But the Zimmermans weren't finished. Patty Zimmerman

recognized that publicity for the hike would help, so she set out

to interest the local newspaper in doing the kind of story about

Nikki, an ordinary sixth-grader, that would tell the world what

she and the National Federation of the Blind thought about

blindness. The following article is reprinted with permission

from the September 29, 1998, edition of the Oshkosh Northwestern.

It demonstrates just how well Nikki has understood the NFB's

philosophy of normality and just how effectively she has taught

her teachers and fellow students to adopt the same notions. Here

is the article:


                         Typical Courage

          Oshkosh Sixth-grader Refuses to Let Blindness

                          Be Disability

                         by Gina Mangan


     Following eleven-year-old Nikki Zimmerman as she zips

between classes and through the halls of Carl Traeger Middle

School in Oshkosh requires a good pair of walking shoes and a

healthy set of lungs. With an air of confidence she deftly dodges

fellow students and turns corners with ease.
     Once inside the classroom Nikki barely takes a breath while

quietly reading out loud to partner Jessica Pernsteiner from a

teacher handout. She takes notes as social studies teacher Paul

DeShambo writes on the marker board and talks articulately about

economic issues during a class discussion.
     Outside on the playground she chats with friends. She seems

like an average sixth-grader. For the most part she is. Nikki,

whose highlight during her first day of school was a reminder by

science teacher Jim McClowry to return to her desk and push in

her chair, wouldn't want anybody to see anything other than

     "Being blind isn't a disability unless you make it one,"

says Nikki, who lost her sight last winter after a lifelong

struggle with congenital glaucoma. "There's nothing I can't do,

except ride a bike."
     But because she's blind, being viewed as typical has taken

extra effort, a bit of special training, a lot of determination,

and the right opportunities.
     During the past year Nikki repeatedly struggled against a

societal tendency to pamper the blind, fighting human nature's

desire to force the world to adapt to individual differences.

Instead Nikki has chosen to adapt to the world.
     Nikki uses a long white cane to get around. She's fully

trained in Braille and writes with an embossed-dot-producing

slate and stylus.
     And while her eyes don't work, her mind is as sharp as that

of the next sixth-grader. Her ability to perform in class isn't

an issue. But her family still had to fight to keep her in the

math and English classes they believe are critical to her future.
     In fact, Nikki and her parents have turned down traditional

help offered by well-meaning people within the school system,

insisting that expectations for Nikki be no lower because she

can't see.
     When the school district wanted to hire a teacher aide to

guide and help Nikki--as is done with other blind students--the

Zimmermans said no.
     "She's blind, but her feet work," said her mother, Patty

Zimmerman, noting Nikki's cane.
     When the school offered to let her leave each class five

minutes early, the Zimmermans said no again.
     "Someday Nikki will be married and have children, and if her

child runs into the road, she's not going to have five extra

minutes," Patty Zimmerman said.
     When Nikki began learning Braille, specialists working with

the blind through the Cooperative Educational Service Agency told

the family it would take her three years to function at the same

level as her peers and wanted her to spend valuable class time in

a special resource room.
     But with the help of a private instructor, it took Nikki

only six months to learn Braille, although she's still perfecting

her skills. She's enrolled in all regular education classes.
     Nikki's determination hasn't gone unnoticed by her peers--

many of whom refer to her as the "cool blind girl"--or her

     "Her expectations for herself have been greater than

anything I would have held her to, not only because she's blind

but because she's only a sixth-grader," DeShambo said.
     Nikki and her family adhere strongly to the philosophies of

independence and equality embraced by the National Federation of

the Blind, and they hope Nikki will become a role model for other

children. She's a scheduled speaker at the NFB's state

convention, and she's organized a three-mile white cane hike-a-

thon to raise money for the NFB, which promotes the white cane as

a tool of "stature, respect, and independence." The walk-a-thon

will be held Saturday.
     "She lost her sight, but she has her life back," Patty

Zimmerman said. "We hope she can inspire other children to become

more independent."
     This year has been the first full, normal year for Nikki,

whose earlier years were fragmented by sixty-one operations and

countless trips to the children's hospital in Madison. Doctors

tried desperately for years to regulate the fluid that would

build up behind her eyes. That buildup created a constant,

painful pressure on the optic nerve, as well as failing vision.
     After placing two shunts and plates in her eyes last

October, doctors were forced to remove her right eye five days

after Christmas. She now wears a prosthesis and has been relieved

of much of the pain. The shunts remain in her left eye, but the

pressure hasn't stabilized, and Nikki says she can see only

"blobs of color."
     During her fifth-grade year Nikki received tutoring at home.

Despite a string of surgeries, chronic pain, and lost vision, she

successfully completed her fifth-grade year.
     But the prospect of blindness left her depressed and

frightened at first, especially in the months before she learned

white cane and Braille skills. But her life turned around when

she traveled to Dallas, Texas, July 4 to the NFB's national

convention. There she met attorneys, college professors,

accountants, and other professionals who didn't let their

blindness stand in the way of success.
     Bonnie Peterson, president of the National Federation of the

Blind of Wisconsin, said Nikki is like many others who adopt the

NFB's philosophy. "We look at blindness as a physical condition,

like baldness or shortness or anything else," Peterson said.

"With the proper training and opportunity, that condition will be

reduced to nothing more than a physical nuisance."
     McClowry, Nikki's science teacher, said Traeger's sixth-

grade teachers are well aware of Nikki's desire to be treated the

same as her peers.
     Although they recognize she has a special learning need,

they see her as a confident, articulate sixth-grader who's eager

to learn.
     "I'm impressed with her in the way I'm impressed with any

sixth-grader who is in a new environment, is confident, and has

taken ownership of her learning," he said. "I don't have any

gripping statements to make. She's a normal sixth-grader."



     Planned giving takes place when a contributor decides to

leave a substantial gift to charity. It means planning as you

would for any substantial purchase--a house, college tuition, or

car. The most common forms of planned giving are wills and life

insurance policies. There are also several planned giving options

through which you can simultaneously give a substantial

contribution to the National Federation of the Blind, obtain a

tax deduction, and receive lifetime income now or in the future.

For more information write or call the National Federation of the

Blind, Special Gifts, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland

21230-4998, (410) 659-9314, fax (410) 685-5653.



[PHOTO/CAPTION: Peggy Chong]

             The New Job Opportunities for the Blind

                         by Peggy Chong


     From the Editor: Peggy Chong is the Targeted Jobs Program

Manager for Job Opportunities for the Blind. This is what she

says about our new JOB Program:


     By now readers of the Braille Monitor have heard that the

Job Opportunities for the Blind program has gone through some

major changes. At our National Convention last summer in Dallas,

Texas, we heard Dr. Maurer tell us at the JOB seminar that as of

July 1, 1998, Job Opportunities for the Blind will no longer

exist as it has for the past twenty years. The Department of

Labor changed its funding requirements, allowing us to take JOB

one step further, so we now focus on training and placement for

qualified legally blind individuals who have been out of work

from four months to five years. In addition, they must be job-

ready, in other words, able to function independently as blind

people on the job and eligible for Social Security Disability

Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
     This program is designed by blind people for blind people.

Eligible blind individuals are referred by the state

rehabilitation agency or other sponsoring party to the Targeted

Jobs Initiative. Once one is accepted for services, there is no

cost to the sponsor or trainee for the initial strategies-and

skills-training, lodging, or daily breakfast here at the National

Center. Sponsors underwrite transportation to and from Baltimore,

meals other than breakfast, and incidentals. To the extent the

grant allows financially, we also provide job referrals, follow-

up, and technical support at no cost.
     As we all know, there is no substitute for good blindness

training. Those who are interested in the JOB Targeted Jobs

Initiative Program but have not learned the strategies and skills

of blindness should seek adjustment-to-blindness training before

obtaining training at our National Center. Some skills can

certainly be learned or brushed up in the program orientation

training phase, but all participants must at a minimum have the

means to communicate effectively with themselves and their co-

workers and the ability to travel independently inside and

outside their work sites. They must also know the layout of the

computer keyboard as well as independent living skills that

demonstrate capability and confidence to prospective employers.
     Every day, all over this country, decisions are made around

the office coffeepot. Therefore, knowing how to contribute

socially at work often makes or breaks a promotion, and that

means adjustment-to-blindness training must address more than

physical skills. If trainees reveal a need for further work in

any of these skills of blindness or realistic and positive

attitudes about blindness, our training centers will offer it on

a fee-for-service basis paid for by the sponsor. These centers

are the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB) in Denver; the

Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB) in Ruston; or Blindness:

Learning in New Dimensions (BLIND, Inc.) in Minneapolis.
     The first orientation class, held at the National Center for

the Blind from September 21 through October 2, 1998, was made up

of six eager students from five states. Curtis Chong, Director of

Technology at the National Center for the Blind; Richard Ring,

Supervisor of the International Braille and Technology Center

(IBTC); and others worked with the participants on a wide variety

of equipment in the National Center's IBTC. Nowhere else in the

world can one find such a complete collection of access

equipment. These students took full advantage of this

opportunity, working late into the evening to master the

techniques they had learned.
     Much of the class agenda centers on JAWS for Windows. In

most offices around our country, Windows 95 and similar products

are used to conduct daily business. Currently JAWS seems to be

the speech program most compatible with the applications run at

the work sites of our targeted employers. Having a good working

knowledge of the nonvisual access tools before the first day on

the job puts the new blind employee on equal footing with other

new workers so that he or she can concentrate on learning the

requirements of the job.
     Trainees also receive a thorough grounding in work

incentives provided by the Social Security Disability Insurance

(SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. Even

after blind people get jobs, they often feel that the Social

Security rules tie them in knots. Many times blind recipients

even report that, when they have called the Social Security

Administration for work-incentive information, they have received

conflicting information from different SSA employees. By the time

the students leave training, they know how to determine when

their benefits will cease, what their rights and responsibilities

are under the programs, and how to get the assistance to which

they are entitled from SSA.
     When the graduates left for home on October 2, they took

with them many tools for a successful job search. Some found that

they had not allotted enough room in their luggage for the many

handouts they had acquired during the previous two weeks. They

had to scramble to get them mailed home before they left.
     Those successfully completing the orientation and

Information Access Technology Training will be referred to job

openings for which they are qualified with our targeted

employers. All trainees are strongly encouraged to continue doing

research and to follow-up on any job lead they discover. Job

announcements still come to the National Federation of the Blind

from all over the country, and staff members check these for

possible employment matches. When potential matches appear, the

employers receive copies of resumes that successful graduates

have left with us. This program therefore becomes one more

valuable tool in each trainee's job-seeking kit.
     If at the end of the two-week initial training participants

conclude that they need additional adjustment-to-blindness

training, they will be referred to one of our three training

centers. National Center staff may also recommend specific

training as a prerequisite to placement with our targeted

     The Gallup Organization, which conducts the famous opinion

polls, and ManTech, a high-tech engineering company, are in the

process of joining United Parcel Service as targeted employers,

raising the possibility of jobs for graduates of this program in

several more states. These are, however, only the first companies

seizing the opportunity to employ qualified blind people.

Arrangements are being made with several other large multi-state

businesses to come on board as Targeted Employers.
     Although the focus of JOB has changed, the goal is still the

same: meaningful employment for blind people. Our new JOB program

will now provide training and direct employment opportunities for

those who accept the challenge.
     If you would like more information about the JOB Targeted

Jobs Initiative Program or would like an application, call the

National Center for the Blind at (410) 659-9314. We will be glad

to help you get started on the road to success.



[PHOTO/CAPTION: Three UPS executives: (left to right) Jim

Liggett, Employee Relations Manager; Mel Smith, Human Relations

Manager, Baltimore District; and Ron Foster, Vice President for

Public Affairs]

                         Abilities Count


     From the Editor: The following excerpt is part of an article

that appeared in the October, 1998, issue of Inside UPS, a

publication of the United Parcel Service. We reprint the portion

devoted to the National Federation of the Blind's JOB Program.

Here it is:


                  The Challenge Was Before Them
     All that stood between the National Federation of the Blind

and a much-needed $500,000 grant from the Department of Labor was

a corporate sponsor willing to consider hiring qualified blind

candidates. The question was what corporation would be the first

to step up to the plate and make such a commitment?
     Failure, at least according to Dr. Betsy Zaborowski,

Federation Director of Special Programs, was not an option. The

Federation aimed to recruit "job ready" blind individuals from

across the country and provide them with additional training in

adaptive technology, enabling them to be fully integrated into

the work force.
     "There's no doubt in my mind," Dr Zaborowski emphasizes,

"that through technology and training, blindness can be reduced

to a mere inconvenience."
     Nor was there doubt in the minds of UPS people who agreed

wholeheartedly to support the Federation's efforts and identify

job opportunities, guaranteeing grant approval. "We're pretty

excited about the possibilities," she says.
     UPS is no less excited. Its partnership with the Federation

of the Blind isn't just a one-time gesture of kindness, but part

of the company's ongoing commitment to ensuring diversity among

its work force. "We've tried to get away from the thought process

of limitations," comments Fred Fernandez, UPS Director of Equal

Opportunity and Diversity. "UPS prefers focusing on abilities,

the skill sets individuals bring to the table, instead of



                         A Clear Message
     Fred believes that focusing on abilities has helped

employees of all ages, races, and abilities work better together.

"When people realize what they can accomplish when they work

together, I think they learn not only to value themselves more

but to value others. I think our policies regarding diversity

also send a clear message that opportunity exists for every UPS




                 A Little Child Shall Lead Them

                    by Father Patrick Martin


     From the Editor: Picking up and using a white cane is

difficult, sometimes to the point of impossibility for many newly

blind or increasingly visually disabled people. Yet properly

considered, the white cane is the most fundamental instrument of

independence ever put into the hands of a blind person. Mary

Brunoli, a Federationist from Connecticut, sent the following

article because it is such a joyful discovery of the

possibilities one man discovered when he went to New York City

armed with his white cane and the conviction that it was the only

tool he needed to move safely through Manhattan. The article

first appeared in the Winter, 1997, newsletter of the Ave Maria

Place Retreat Center. The author, Father Pat Martin, is a member

of the center's staff. This is what he says:


     How would you define adventure? For me it was taking the

number seven train from Main Street, Flushing, New York, to 74th

Street/Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights, New York, and there

transferring to the E train to Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street

in Manhattan all by myself. St. Michael's Parish in Flushing had

brought me back to my favorite city, and now they added to their

gift by giving me a day off in the middle of their mission in

order to accommodate a particular parish celebration. I was

really excited as I planned that day off weeks in advance.
     I love New York. In the early 70's I had lived there and had

mastered the subways, buses, Long Island Railroad, and even the

taxis. My day off would be a trip down memory lane. Besides the

two decades since I had tramped the streets of the city, the only

other major difference for me was that now the pinpoint vision

that used to let me read the subway and street signs letter by

letter was quite deteriorated. Instead of using that pinpoint,

tunnel vision as my traveling aid, now I used the white cane. I

wondered, as I embarked on my adventure, how my new aid would

come through.
     "Are you really going to ride the subway alone?" an anxious

priest in the parish asked me.
     "Sure!" I said remembering with excitement the thrill of

independence and grown-up-ness that subways had given me decades

earlier. I was like Hansel and Gretel, carefully noting distinct

landmarks, counting lefts and rights, etc., so I could find my

way home at the end of my adventure day. I stopped at one street

corner to look for the old familiar subway entrance. It was

absolutely amazing. I didn't even have to ask for help. Someone

saw me and promptly offered, "Can I help you, Father?"
     My white cane that adventure day was just about as marvelous

for me as Moses' staff! His staff parted the Red Sea before the

Israelites--my white cane parted the sea of New Yorkers wherever

I went that day. I recalled with a certain nostalgia how many

times on a similar trip decades earlier I would bump into people

because I didn't see them coming and they couldn't see that I was

blind. My cane brought me down the subway stairs, and another

offer of help led me right to the subway token booth, where I

discovered another change that the two decades had accomplished--

instead of paying twenty-seven cents for a token, I now paid one

dollar and fifty cents.
     Armed with two tokens, one to go and one to return, I moved

with the crowd down to the subway platforms. I had known that my

vision had deteriorated somewhat in the last half dozen years,

but I never realized just how much it had deteriorated until that

adventure day. No matter how I tried, I could no longer see the

street signs, even letter by letter, and from the subway cars I

could no longer pick up the station signs along the way. I

couldn't even make out the signs on the subway trains themselves

to be sure I was boarding the correct train, but I didn't have

     "Watch where I get off, and get off two stops before me,"

one lady said laughing heartily as I asked about the 74th Street

station stop. "I've always wanted to use that line," she said and

then proceeded to tell me exactly how many stops it would be to

my desired stop. Her laughter was the tone of my entire adventure

day. Except for the New York City friends with whom I had lunch

that day, I never met one person that I knew from years gone by,

and yet it was as though I was with dear, dear friends all day. I

never had to ask for help twice; many times help was offered

before I could ask for it. I never took a wrong train or got off

at a wrong stop the whole day.
     Too often we are given the impression that in the city one

could die on the sidewalk and people would just walk by

unconcerned. Not true. Not true at all, I learned on my adventure

day. I had lunch with my life-long friends, and then Justine and

I bummed around the city for a while, doing a bit of shopping

that one can do only in New York. Finally I hugged my friend

goodbye and then, like Hansel and Gretel, began following my

landmarks home.
     At 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue I was directed without

problem to the subway stairway, and my cane got me down safely. A

friendly passer-by directed me to the Queens-bound train side,

and I began the trek through a long tunnel-like corridor. I had

been assured that the corridor would lead me straight to the

escalator that would bring me down to the E train platform. I was

excited as my cane picked up the metal platform of the escalator

and was about to get onto the first step when an arm took me

around the waist, and I heard a lady's voice say, "I don't think

you want that escalator." With her help I learned that I was at

the top of the up instead of the down escalator. She walked me a

few feet to my right, and I was back on track. I hadn't asked for

help; I hadn't even realized that I needed help at that point,

but a New Yorker saw what I didn't see and stepped in to help. No

wonder I love the city so much.
     The trip home was quite uneventful. I made the train switch

at 74th Street and boarded the 7 Train for Main Street, Flushing,

with all the help I needed. As I walked the several blocks back

to St. Michael's Parish, my heart was filled to overflowing with

praise of God for His wonderful gift of people and white canes.

In the eight hours or so of my adventure I hadn't known the

feelings of fear, worry, or anxiety for one single moment. My day

off had been a real day of renewal, rest, relaxation, and peace

for me. It had been a day of adventure, of fun, a happy day.
     As I went to bed that September night there was one thought

that lingered with the memory lane adventure. I couldn't count

the number of times I had traveled the subways and buses and

taxis in those half dozen years when I myself was a New Yorker.

How much more fantastic it would have been, I mused, had I used

the white cane even back then. Blindness for me was not seeing

enough. Perhaps I made myself see too much, too much to need my

fellow New Yorkers' help. Twenty-five years ago my tunnel vision

often reminded me, with pain and frustration and embarrassment,

that I was blind. Today my white cane told those around me that I

was blind and brought me their sight.
     When God wished to come as our Messiah, our Savior, our

Lord, our King, He came as an infant, wrapped in swaddling

clothes and lying in a manger. He came needing us, His creatures,

and He did not hide His need. He had to be fed, nursed, diapered,

bathed. He had to be taught to walk and talk. Do I still see too

much to follow that little child who shall lead them? This

Christmas I pray that that little child, with all of His needing,

will touch your hearts and lead you to the joy and peace of

oneness in His family.
     A very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Holy New Year to you

and yours from all of us here at Ave Maria Place.--Father Pat



                 Of Generosity and Independence

                        by William Payne


     From the Editor: A number of months ago Dr. Jernigan sent me

an exchange of correspondence that he thought I might wish to

publish in the Braille Monitor. I certainly did. The first letter

was written to Dr. Jernigan and accompanied a modest contribution

to the National Federation of the Blind. It told a touching story

whose theme is fitting for this season and for all Americans to

take to heart. We are printing Dr. Jernigan's response first

because, as usual, he expresses in a few words the value he found

in the letter and the impact it had on him. In the hope that we

all may open ourselves to greater generosity of spirit and

respect for those who walk into our lives, here are the two

letters Dr. Jernigan passed on to me:


                                                    April 7, 1998

                                              Baltimore, Maryland
Mr. and Mrs. William Payne, Jr.

Greenville, Mississippi
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Payne:
     Thank you for the moving story about the broom. It captures

the very heart and soul of what it means to be a true American, a

free citizen of a free country. It also captures the very heart

and soul of Christianity and the teachings of the Bible.
     I was deeply touched and inspired by this story and will

certainly use it. Perhaps it will encourage others to reach out

to their fellow human beings.
     Again, I thank you. You have made my day.
                                                 Kenneth Jernigan

                                               President Emeritus

                                 National Federation of the Blind


Dear Dr. Jernigan:
     The blind sellers of brooms, a man and his wife, came to our

door one night about October 1931. My sister, about six, myself,

about four, and my mother and daddy, each twenty-nine, heard the

tap, tap, tapping as they came up the sidewalk, up the walk to

the front screen door, and then paused, for the screen door was

     Daddy went out on the porch, after turning on the porch

light. The man stood on the top step, his wife halfway up the

steps. He had a single broom in hand--she some ten or twelve.
     "Good evening sir, might we interest you in a quality, hand-

made straw broom, tonight?"
     Daddy hesitated; times were tough as you well know, Mr.

Jernigan. "Oh sir," my dad replied, "We just cannot buy one of

your brooms tonight."
     "Could we give you one then at no cost to you?" That touched

Daddy so that he asked the man how much he was asking for a

broom. "Anything, anything at all will be welcome; some people

pay $1, some less, some nothing at all. And sir, we are not

asking for your money; we are not beggars; we support ourselves

by these brooms."
     Daddy didn't have a paper dollar. By this time Mother and we

kids were also at the door. My sister said, "I have fourteen

cents," and "I have twenty-four cents" was her brother's reply.

Mother emptied her coin purse onto the floor, another twenty-

three cents. Daddy dug deep into his pockets, still only ninety-

eight cents total.
     Mother, as mothers so often do, had a solution. "Mr. and

Mrs. Broom Merchants, I have some two-cent stamps. Would one of

them do?" "Certainly," came the reply. "We need stamps." One

dollar in coin and stamps.
     One dollar, hallelujah. Two people, make that six people,

were made happy, each caring for the other; dignity and

compassion were displayed all around.
     So here's my first check. God bless you for all you do and

try to do. Angels can do no better.
                                               William Payne, Jr.



[PHOTO/CAPTION: Christine Faltz and her daughter Samantha.]

               The Whole Truth About Partial Sight

                       by Christine Faltz


     From the Editor: Christine Faltz is a 1987 NFB scholarship

winner. She has since become a lawyer, has married, and is the

mother of a little girl who is also blind. Christine often writes

about blindness issues and the challenges of raising a blind

child to be a normal kid. Here is an article she wrote last



     As President of the Long Island Chapter of Parents of Blind

Children, I am often contacted by parents in search of resources

and information for their children. While I have been aware for

some time that blind people with usable residual vision face

special problems, I am becoming increasingly conscious of the

many negative consequences of the mainstream's handling of

partially-sighted people.
     Let me be clear. I am not particularly concerned with the

individual whose residual vision allows him or her to perform

most of life's tasks with age-appropriate skill and efficiency.

If a legally blind or low-vision child is using regular print or

large type without magnification and without fatigue or pain, and

if he or she can travel independently and safely in unfamiliar

areas, the alternative techniques of blindness may well not be

necessary. However, when I hear that a child cannot read

efficiently without magnification and that inability to keep up

with assignments in school is accepted as a natural consequence

of visual difficulties, I am deeply troubled by the culture of

denial, fear, and misinformation which will ultimately result in

a young person ill-equipped for college, employment, or community

     Why do teachers, eye-care specialists, and some parents

choose to ignore the overwhelming evidence that a blind person

without proficient Braille and independent mobility skills is

significantly less likely to become gainfully employed? How could

an efficient reading system such as Braille and a safe, effective

travel tool like the white cane engender mistrust and fear so

intimidating and distasteful that thousands of men and women are

robbed of the chance to take advantage of their full potential,

growing to believe that it is normal for them to be slow,

inefficient, uncomfortable, and in need of extraordinary

accommodations? What about their inability to read to their

children--if indeed they have the self-esteem and wherewithal to

create a family--and their avoidance of socializing except in

familiar areas because they cannot travel independently?
     Part of the problem lies in the definition of legal

blindness. Many people are functionally blind, despite having

visual acuity above that of legal blindness. Another complication

is society's fear of anything it doesn't understand. I often hear

"This is a difficult age" or "I tried Braille with him; he didn't

want any part of it." A teen-ager who refuses cane instruction

because he or she will look different is going to progress from a

difficult age to a difficult life of dependency and inability to

experience the full range of possibilities for employment and

recreation because he or she cannot go wherever the best job

interview or the best party is. Is it better to rely on your

friends, dates, and colleagues to get you around, or is it better

to be a competent, confident traveler, eventually more or less

oblivious to your travel tool as it becomes a part of you?
     When a child resists learning math because it seems too

difficult or because there is something more fun to do at the

moment, we don't give in; we should treat students who don't like

learning Braille the same way. It is often difficult for parents

to envision their children as adults, and it is common to have

the not-my-child attitude--after all, if you act as if your child

can do anything despite being afflicted with pesky visual

problems, won't he or she have the confidence to persevere and

succeed? You bet! assuming that child is also equipped with the

necessary tools to put such values into practice. You can tell

the child of a broken home who attends a poor school in a

dangerous neighborhood that with belief in oneself one can

surmount any personal obstacles. But if his or her performance is

not commensurate with inherent ability and if a lackluster

performance is pronounced to be "just fine" and "all one can

expect from someone in such a situation," where will all those

fine words and good intentions get the student?
     It is not acceptable for a child with poor vision to skate

by, depending on special allowances and privileges, if he or she

is capable of age-appropriate work. A child who is functionally

blind and has average to above-average intelligence and no

complicating disabilities should be handing in school assignments

with everyone else, should not be fatigued by reading, and should

be completing reading assignments along with sighted classmates.

A child who struggles valiantly to keep excellent grades,

suffering with eyestrain and headaches; spending inordinate

amounts of time on homework; relying on parents, siblings, or

classmates to read to him; unable to read the notes and papers

she writes--is not amazing or extraordinary for all those

unnecessary, Herculean efforts. That child is a casualty of fear

and ignorance, someone losing out on extracurricular and other

social activities, someone whose belief in his or her supposed

self-worth and equality is being challenged at every level. The

lack of normal vision will never be a nuisance, an inconvenience

to this person: it will be a lifelong social and employment

handicap, a source of increasing frustration and resentment--a

recipe for failure at worst and of untapped potential at best.
     Parents and teachers must look beyond the here and now. When

they are gone, their children and students must be able to live,

not merely survive, on their own. Their lives should not be

peppered with "If onlys" and "What ifs." They should not grow up

with the notion that there was nothing more anyone could have

done to give them opportunities equal to those available to their

sighted peers. Any skill which has the slightest chance of easing

their way should be developed in them while they are young. Isn't

it better that they have the skills, regardless of whether they

are necessary now? Shouldn't a disabled child be given every

reasonable chance to be fully equal, fully independent, a fully

contributing, first-class citizen? Legally blind, low vision,

partially sighted, practically blind--the lexicon of political

correctness, euphemisms, and denial marches on. If your child is

not capable of age-appropriate work and play, vision problems by

themselves are no excuse. Partial sight should not be allowed to

result in a partial life.




                    Seeing Chances to Conquer

                        by Susan Kreifels


     From the Editor: The following story first appeared in the

April 20, 1998, edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Nani Fife

is President of the National Federation of the Blind of Hawaii.

this is what the article said:


     Nani Fife often sees welfare recipients who want to give up

their search for a job. But she doesn't let them.
     "When they want to quit, I say, 'Wait a minute, if I can do

it, so can you,'" Fife said.
     Fife knows about obstacles in life, but she treats them as

challenges to be conquered. And for that spirit and

determination, the Lions Club chose her as Hawaii's Outstanding

Blind Person of the Year for 1998.
     Fife has been legally blind since birth. But that did not

stop her from getting a degree. Nor did age. She started college

in her thirties after her third and last child began going to

     "I wanted to do something different with my life," said

Fife, a grandmother of four. "I wanted to help people."
     At McKinley High School she attended special education

classes rather than being put into regular classes. That made it

even more difficult at college, because she had to start with

basic classes in math and English. But with the help of

transcribed books and students who volunteered to take notes for

her in class, she earned a bachelor's degree in public

administration in 1986.
     "Try listening to Accounting 201 and 202 on a cassette

tape," Fife laughed. "I don't know how I ever did it. I couldn't

see the blackboard even if I stood right in front of it. But I

always looked at life as not having barriers but challenges."
     "Once you overcome a challenge, it gives you that good

feeling of success."
     She passes that attitude along to many in Hawaii. Fife has

been with the Work Hawaii Hoala Program for seven years, using a

closed-circuit TV, special large-print computer software, and an

adapted computer system. The city program provides job-readiness

services to welfare recipients.
     Outside of her job Fife is the chairwoman for the Statewide

Independent Living Council, president for ten years of the

National Federation of the Blind of Hawaii, a board member of the

Hawaii State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped,

and chairwoman of the Ho'opono Advisory Board.
     "Nani Fife is an inspiration to others with visual

impairments and exemplifies the commitment that Ho'opono and the

Lions have in assisting blind persons in attaining their goals,"

said Shirley Sasaki, community services coordinator at Ho'opono,

a rehabilitation center for the blind and visually impaired at

the Department of Human Services.
     Fife says she just likes helping people. "I like to make a

positive difference in people's lives. It gives me satisfaction

that, whenever I can, I help give people a second chance."



[PHOTO/CAPTION: the Rev. Robert Parrish]

                        Creative Cookies

                        by Robert Parrish


     From the Editor: Robert Parrish is President of the National

Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith, a division of

the National Federation of the Blind. The following little story

is a reminder of how important small gestures of kindness can be.

It is also a fitting tribute to Lorraine Rovig's work for many

years in the Job Opportunities for the Blind Program. JOB has

recently metamorphosed into an exciting new effort to train blind

people to do jobs in the private sector. But here Robert pays

tribute to the imagination, common sense, and compassion that

always guided the first JOB program and that still characterize

members of our national staff. This is what he says:


     During the past few years Job Opportunities for the Blind

(JOB) taught me many skills in my effort to land a dream job as

either a pastor or a hospital chaplain. However, the most

precious memory I have of JOB took place when I was doing my

first year of residency in Clinical Pastoral Education. The

University of North Carolina Hospitals was a very large place.

The facility seemed even larger to me because I felt as if I was

being held at arm's length by some of the nursing staff.
     Not that the staff were bad people: it just seemed that the

nurses were not truly willing to support me in my job as a

chaplain resident because of their fear of my blindness.
     As with doctors, the very backbone of a chaplain's success

in a hospital depends largely on the nursing staff. Nurses can

give chaplains insight into a patient's medical situation along

with pertinent family background. They are also critical in

supporting a chaplain to help a patient or family use personal

faith to make some sense of the crises they are experiencing. You

can see, then, that I was desperate. I had to find a way to win

the support of the nurses.
     When I thought about calling Lorraine Rovig, who served as

director of JOB for many years, I was hesitant at first. I knew

that she was in the business of helping people to find jobs. But

then I remembered that she was also in the business of helping

people keep jobs.
     So one afternoon I called her. When she understood my

plight, she did not think it was unusual. I remember what she

asked me during that conversation as if it were only yesterday.

She asked, "Do you bake cookies?"
     I responded that I could certainly learn to bake them, and

learn I did. You would not believe what a bridge to building a

sound and cohesive relationship with the nursing staff those

cookies turned out to be for me. Not only did I get the support

that I truly needed from them, but I also was able to be a

chaplain to them as well. A small thing like baking cookies

proved to be extremely powerful in helping me to overcome the

barrier of blindness that the nursing staff seemed to struggle

with. It also served to help me do my job effectively.
     Giving the nursing staff cookies was a very personal touch.

The suggestion to do so was also a demonstration of who Lorraine

Rovig is. Over the years I have talked with her, and she has

treated me with much dignity and respect. Of course her job was

to care about blind persons' achieving gainful employment. But

she also cares about the people.
     The real lesson of life she taught me in this experience in

baking cookies was to be creative in reaching out to others.



[PHOTO/CAPTION: Barbara Walker and her son John]

               Children, Fruitcake, and Rectangles

                        by Barbara Walker


     From the Editor: The following story appeared in Wall-to-

Wall Thanksgiving, the thirteenth in the NFB's Kernel Book series

of paperbacks. It begins with Dr. Jernigan's introduction.


     Barbara Walker is no stranger to readers of previous Kernel

Books--her sensitive and thought-provoking stories having

appeared in a number of them. Here she reflects on the key

ingredients of her own childhood, which enabled her to find her

place in the world--as a leader in her community, her church, and

the National Federation of the Blind. Here is what she has to



     When my son John, at the age of three, said he wanted some

fruitcake that had been in the refrigerator for quite a while, I

said: "Just a minute, please. I need to see what kind of shape

it's in." His response was immediate: "It's in a rectangle shape,

and I want some." Somehow, his response got me to thinking about

my own childhood.
     I have always been blind. My sister Laurie is also blind.

Our older brother Lani isn't. There was, to our parents'

knowledge, no history of blindness in our family.
     Discussing my sister's case, the doctors said they didn't

know the cause of blindness but thought there was probably a one-

in-a-thousand chance of recurrence. Since I arrived--blind--

fourteen months later, either I'm one in a thousand, or they

didn't know what they were talking about. All of us are now

grown, married, and have children--none of whom is blind.
     Our parents knew nothing about blindness. They struggled

with stereotypes as all of us do, but their hope for us was the

same as that for our brother--that we would eventually be

contributing and fulfilled adults, no longer needing or wanting

to live under their care.
     My sister, from what I remember my mother's telling me,

crawled, walked, and talked at about the same time as neighbor

kids her age. She ran away from home more than once while still

in diapers, handled everything she could get to, was adept with

her fingers, questioned incessantly, and insisted on a prominent

place in her world.
     I, on the other hand, neither walked nor talked until I was

about two, showed little visible evidence that I was particularly

curious about my environment, and was clumsy and awkward with my

hands and body--breaking many things with which I came into

     As toddlers and preschoolers, we continued to show

contrasts. Laurie, at age two, walked along the piano, reaching

up to pick out melodies on the keyboard. She generally chose

gentle play--interacting with others, real or imaginary--and was

afraid of high slides, going on carnival rides, and the like.
     I loved rough play--wrestling, running hard, swinging and

climbing high, flipping over and off bars, throwing and catching

balls, etc.--and I loved high slides, carnival rides, and the

     Mom, the more verbally expressive of our parents, said there

were many times when she didn't understand how we would or could

do things, and it scared her to have us try. But she didn't stand

in our way. She learned Braille so that we could correspond

     She persistently went to bat for us when we were left out or

mistreated--not in ways that made us dependent upon her, but in

ways that preserved respect and dignity for everyone and provided

us with experience in everything from fielding questions to

finding alternative methods for doing things ordinarily done with

the use of sight.
     Dad showed his acceptance of us in other ways. He showed us

how things worked. He pointed out nonvisual qualities of things

generally perceived visually, like the contrasting cool and hot

pavement where his shadow passed. He made us doll cribs and a

playhouse. Dad also took me fishing and encouraged my interests

in competitive sports.
     My sister and I were given hands-on experiences whenever

their availability and our interests coincided. I was a very shy

child, and sometimes my self-consciousness prevented me from

taking full advantage of these opportunities. If Laurie was

along, I generally asked her later about whatever we had seen,

and she would explain it in detail--sometimes creating a replica

to show me.
     Underlying all of these things was our parents' respect for

us as people and their encouragement toward our finding a place

in society--not a pigeonhole created by them or anyone else, but

a place we could earn as others do. That attitude of genuine

respect and affirmation of our worth and dignity did more than

all the experiences and skills combined in allowing us to grow

and become contributing members of society.



[PHOTO/CAPTION: James Gashel]

        Social Security, SSI, and Medicare Facts for 1999

                         by James Gashel


     The beginning of each year brings with it annual adjustments

in Social Security programs. The changes include new tax rates,

higher exempt earnings amounts, Social Security and SSI cost-of-

living increases, and changes in deductible and co-insurance

requirements under Medicare. Here are the new facts for 1999:


     FICA and Self-Employment Tax Rates: The FICA tax rate for

employees and their employers remains at 7.65 percent. This rate

includes payments to the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability

Insurance (OASDI) Trust Fund of 6.2 percent and an additional

1.45 percent payment to the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund

from which payments under Medicare are made. Self-employed

persons continue to pay a Social Security tax of 15.3 percent,

which includes 12.4 percent paid to the OASDI trust fund and 2.9

percent paid to the HI trust fund.


     Ceiling on Earnings Subject to Tax: During 1998, the ceiling

on taxable earnings for contributions to the OASDI trust fund was

$68,400. This ceiling is raised to $72,600 for 1999. All earnings

are taxed for the HI trust fund.


     Quarters of Coverage: Eligibility for retirement, survivors,

and disability insurance benefits is based in large part on the

number of quarters of coverage earned by any individual during

periods of work. Anyone may earn up to four quarters of coverage

during a single year. During 1998 a Social Security quarter of

coverage was credited for earnings of $700 in any calendar

quarter. Anyone who earned $2,800 for the year (regardless of

when the earnings occurred during the year) was given four

quarters of coverage. In 1999 a Social Security quarter of

coverage will be credited for earnings of $740 during a calendar

quarter. Four quarters can be earned with annual earnings of



     Exempt Earnings: The monthly earnings exemption for blind

people who receive disability insurance benefits was $1,050 of

gross earned income during 1998. In 1999 earnings of $1,110 or

more per month before taxes for a blind SSDI beneficiary will

show substantial gainful activity after subtracting any unearned

(or subsidy) income and applying any deductions for impairment-

related work expenses.


     Social Security Benefit Amounts for 1999: All Social

Security benefits are increased by 1.3 percent beginning with the

checks received in January, 1999. The exact dollar increase for

any individual will depend upon the amount being paid.


     Standard SSI Benefit Increase: Beginning January, 1999, the

federal payment amounts for SSI individuals and couples are as

follows: individuals, $500 per month; couples, $751 per month.

These amounts are increased from individuals, $494 per month;

couples, $741 per month.


     Medicare Deductibles and Co-insurance: Medicare Part A

coverage provides hospital insurance to most Social Security

beneficiaries. The co-insurance payment is the charge that the

hospital makes to a Medicare beneficiary for any hospital stay.

Medicare then pays the hospital charges above the beneficiary's

co-insurance amount.


     The Part A co-insurance amount charged for hospital services

within a benefit period of not longer than sixty days was $764

during 1998 and is increased to $768 during 1999. Beginning with

the sixty-first day through the ninetieth day there is a daily

co-insurance amount of $192 per day, up from $191 in 1998. Each

Medicare beneficiary has sixty "reserve days" for hospital

services provided within a benefit period longer than ninety

days. The co-insurance amount to be paid during each reserve day

is $384, up from $382 in 1998.


     Part A of Medicare pays all covered charges for services in

a skilled nursing facility for the first twenty days within a

benefit period. Beginning with the twenty-first day through the

one-hundredth day within a benefit period, the Part A co-

insurance amount for services received in a skilled nursing

facility is $96 per day, up from $95.50 per day in 1998.


     For most beneficiaries there is no monthly premium charge

for Medicare Part A coverage. Those who become ineligible for

Social Security Disability Insurance cash benefits can continue

to receive Medicare Part A coverage premium-free for thirty-nine

months following the end of a trial work period. After that time

the individual may purchase Part A coverage. The premium rate for

this coverage during 1999 is $309 per month. This is reduced to

$170 for individuals who have earned at least thirty quarters of

coverage under Social Security-covered employment.


     The Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductible remains

at $100 in 1999. This is an annual deductible amount. The

Medicare Part B basic monthly premium rate will increase from

$43.80 charged to each beneficiary in 1998 to $45.50 for 1999.

This premium payment is deducted from Social Security benefits

checks. Individuals who remain eligible for Medicare but are not

receiving Social Security benefits because of working pay this

premium directly.


     Programs Which Help with Medicare Deductibles and Premiums:

Low-income Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for help with

payments. Assistance is available through two programs--QMB

(Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program) and SLMB (Specified Low-

Income Medicare Beneficiary program).
     Under the QMB program states are required to pay the

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical

Insurance) premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance expenses for

Medicare beneficiaries who meet the program's income and resource

requirements. Under the SLMB program states pay only the full

Medicare Part B monthly premium ($45.50 in 1999). Eligibility for

the SLMB program may be retroactive for up to three calendar

     Both programs are administered by the Health Care Financing

Administration (HCFA) in conjunction with the states. In order to

qualify, the income of an individual or couple must be less than

the poverty guidelines currently in effect. The guidelines are

revised annually and were last announced in the spring of 1998.

New guidelines will be issued in the spring of 1999. The rules

vary from state to state, but in general:
          A person may qualify for the QMB program if his or

     her income is approximately $691 per month for an

     individual and $925 per month for a couple. These

     amounts apply for residents of forty-eight of the fifty

     states and the District of Columbia. In Alaska the

     income threshold used to define poverty is

     approximately $860 per month for an individual and

     $1,151 per month for couples. In Hawaii income must be

     less than approximately $792 per month for an

     individual and $1,060 per month for couples.
          For the SLMB program the income of an individual

     cannot exceed $825 per month or $1,105 for a couple in

     forty-eight of the fifty states and the District of

     Columbia. In Alaska the income amount is $1,027 for an

     individual and $1,377 for couples. An individual in

     Hawaii can qualify if his or her income is

     approximately $946 per month; for couples the amount is

          Resources--such as bank accounts or stocks--may

     not exceed $4,000 for one person or $6,000 for a family

     of two. (Resources generally are things you own.

     However, not everything is counted. The house you live

     in, for example, doesn't count, and in some

     circumstances your car may not count either.)


If you qualify for assistance under the QMB program, you will not

have to pay:
     * Medicare's hospital co-insurance amount, which is $768 per

     benefit period in 1999;
     * The daily co-insurance charges for extended hospital and

     skilled nursing facility stays;
     * The Medicare Medical Insurance (Part B) premium, which is

     $45.50 per month in 1999;
     * The $100 annual Part B deductible;
     * The 20 percent co-insurance for services covered by

     Medicare Part B, depending on which doctor you go to.


If you qualify for assistance under the SLMB program, you will

not have to pay:
     *The $45.50 monthly Part B premium.


     If you think you qualify but you have not filed for Medicare

Part A, contact Social Security to find out if you need to file

an application. Further information about filing for Medicare is

available from your local Social Security office or Social

Security's toll-free number, (800) 772-1213.
     Remember, only your state can decide if you're eligible for

help from the QMB or SLMB program. So, if you're elderly or

disabled, have low income and very limited assets, and are a

Medicare beneficiary, contact your state or local welfare or

social service agency to apply. For more information about either

program, call HCFA's toll-free telephone number, (800) 638-6833.





     The recipes this month come from the National Association of

the Blind in Communities of Faith.


[PHOTO/CAPTION: Priscilla Ferris]

                New Year's Cake (Vasilopeta Keik)

                     by Priscilla A. Ferris


     Priscilla Ferris is a member of the Board of Directors of

the National Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith.

She also serves on the Board of Directors of the NFB and as

President of the Massachusetts affiliate. In addition she is a

memorable cook.
     Priscilla explains that traditionally a silver coin is

hidden in this cake, and at midnight a ceremony is held to begin

the New Year. The person who finds the coin in his or her slice

will be blessed with good fortune and good health for the coming

year. The bread or cake baked for this occasion is in honor of

St. Basil on his nameday. You may bake the cake in a loaf or a

cake pan as desired.



4 eggs

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened

2 1/2 cups flour

juice of 1/2 lemon (freshly squeezed)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup milk

1 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 coin

confectioners sugar for top of cake


     Method: Separate eggs. In a very clean bowl beat egg whites

and set aside. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored and

set aside. In a large bowl cream butter and slowly add sugar;

continue beating until creamy. Slowly beat in egg yolks. Then

alternately add milk and flour into which you have stirred the

baking powder. Last, fold in the beaten egg whites and the baking

soda dissolved in lemon juice.
     Polish a quarter and wash it thoroughly, or, if you wish,

use a Susan B. Anthony coin. Wrap coin of your choice in wax

paper. Grease a 10-inch round pan and pour in batter. Submerge

the coin in the batter, making certain that it does not show.

     Bake in 350-degree oven for thirty to thirty-five minutes or

until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from

pan when cool and save cake until 12 o'clock midnight New Year's

Eve. Sift confectioners sugar onto top of cooled cake and serve.



                          Turkey Pilaf

                     by Priscilla A. Ferris



3 tablespoons margarine

1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup diced celery

1 can (3- to 4-ounce) sliced mushrooms or several ounces of fresh

mushrooms, sliced

2 1/2 cups water

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 cup long-grain white rice

2 cups diced, cooked turkey


     Method: Melt butter in a heavy skillet or sauce pan. Add

pecans, celery, and drained mushrooms. Cook over low heat,

stirring often, until pecans are toasted. Add water, bouillon

cubes, and salt. Bring to a boil. Then slowly add rice. Cover pan

and reduce heat; simmer twenty-five minutes. Add turkey during

the last ten minutes of cooking time.



                          Holiday Bread

                     by Priscilla A. Ferris



1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 cup dates

1 cup chopped walnuts

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

1/2 cup maple syrup


     Method: Cover apricots with boiling water and let stand for

fifteen minutes and then drain. Mix together all fruits and nuts.

Set aside. Sift together dry ingredients. Add brown sugar and

blend well. Add egg and milk, then syrup. Stir together well.

Gently stir in fruit and nuts. Divide batter and fill two well-

greased loaf pans. Let stand fifteen to twenty minutes. Bake

loaves at 350 degrees for fifty minutes. Remove from pans and

cool completely.




                     by Priscilla A. Ferris



4 cups water

2 cups sugar

3 cinnamon sticks

12 whole cloves

6 allspice berries

1/2 teaspoon chopped ginger root (Ground ginger may be

substituted if necessary.)

1 6-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate

2 6-ounce cans frozen orange juice concentrate

2 quarts apple cider


     Method: In a large pan combine and boil for five minutes the

water and sugar. Tie together in a small clean cloth cinnamon,

cloves, allspice, and ginger, and add to the sugar syrup. Add the

frozen lemonade concentrate, orange juice concentrate, and apple

cider. Simmer covered to blend flavors. Remove bag of spices.

Serve hot. Yields eighteen six-ounce servings.




                       for Robert Parrish


     In honor of his article elsewhere in this issue, we asked

Robert Parrish, President of the National Association of the

Blind in Communities of Faith, to contribute a cookie recipe. He

confessed that he had prepared slice-and-bake cookies for the

nurses at the hospital, and he didn't think that would make much

of a recipe for this column. Therefore, for Robert's information

and future use here is a very easy but delicious cookie recipe.



1 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup white or brown sugar

2 cups flour


     Method: Cream butter and sugar together till thoroughly

mixed. Beat in flour. Roll out dough on lightly floured board or

counter. Cut into triangles or rounds or shapes with cookie

cutter. Transfer to a greased sheet and bake in pre-heated 325-

degree oven for about twenty-five minutes. Remove to a rack to

cool completely. Store in tightly-covered container.



[PHOTO/CAPTION: Maureen Pranghoffer]

                       Sarah's Gingersnaps

                     by Maureen Pranghoffer


     Maureen Pranghoffer is an active member of the National

Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith. She says, "My

neighbor Sarah makes the most wonderful soft gingersnap cookies.

She shared her recipe, which has become a favorite of mine as




1-1/2 cups shortening

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup molasses

4 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger


     Method: Cream together shortening, sugar, and eggs. Add

molasses. Blend together dry ingredients and add to molasses

mixture. Roll into balls or drop by spoonfuls on ungreased cookie

sheet and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 8 minutes. 



                            Mint Bars

                     by Maureen Pranghoffer


     These bars are perfect for entertaining.



First layer--

1/2 cup margarine

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup flour

16 ounces Hershey's syrup

Second layer--

1-1/2 cups margarine

3 cups confectionery sugar

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Third layer--

1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate pieces

3 1-ounce squares baking chocolate

1 stick margarine


     Method: Mix all ingredients in the first layer together and

spread evenly in a greased 13-by-9 pan. Bake bars at 350 degrees

for twenty-five to thirty minutes. Remove to rack to cool. Melt 1

and 1/2 sticks margarine and mix with confectionery sugar and

peppermint extract. Spread mint mixture on cooling bars. Cool

bars completely. Melt chocolate chips, baking chocolate, and 1

stick margarine. Stir well to mix and spread frosting over bars.



                          Ham and Wine

                     by Maureen Pranghoffer


     This delicious dish is made in the crock pot and has been a

holiday favorite of both my husband and me.



1 3/4-inch-thick ham slice (about 1 pound)

1/2 cup cider or apple juice

1/4 cup sweet red wine

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 small package raisins (1-1/2 ounces)

1 8-ounce can cranberries

1 8-ounce can sliced pineapple, drained

whole cloves

1-1/2 tablespoons flour or corn starch


     Method: Cut ham into serving pieces and place in crock pot.

Combine cider, wine, maple syrup, raisins, and cranberries in

bowl. Press a whole clove into each slice of pineapple and

arrange on top of each portion of ham. Pour wine and fruit

mixture over meat in cooker. Cook on low for two hours, then

switch to high for another four hours. Or cook on automatic for

four to five hours. To thicken sauce, remove 1/4 cup liquid from

cooker, and stir flour or cornstarch into it until smooth. Return

liquid to pot. Stir in. Yields 3 to 4 servings. Note: Recipe may

be doubled for 6-quart cooker.



                         Vegetable Pizza

                     by Maureen Pranghoffer


     This colorful and tasty dish makes an ideal holiday




2 packages crescent rolls

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup chopped cauliflower

1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup chopped black olives


Method: Unroll both packages of crescent rolls on jelly roll pan

and press perforations and seams to produce a solid sheet of

dough. Bake this crust at 350 degrees until brown (eight to

twelve minutes). Mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, milk,

dill weed, and garlic salt. Spread cream cheese mixture over

crescent roll crust and top with veggies and olives. Chill until

time to serve.



                       Monitor Miniatures


Meet the Amazing Parrot Plus:

     Would you benefit from a little more organization to your

life? The Parrot Plus may be the answer. No larger than a remote

control and operated by four AAA batteries, the Parrot Plus

combines six and a half minutes of recorded memo space, a

telephone directory that finds listings you have previously

recorded and can dial the phone, a calendar with reminder beep

that works even when the unit is turned off, a clock with alarm,

and a four-function calculator. All functions are activated by

using voice and a telephone-type keypad of numbers. The Parrot

Plus can be set to operate in French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch,

and Chinese, as well as English. A Japanese version is in

     Originally created for sighted users, the Parrot Plus comes

with a cassette tape of instructions that teach a blind user how

to use each of the functions. Removing out-of-date memos,

calendar reminders, or phone listings and their associated

information is simple and quick.
     Once you try the Parrot Plus, you'll wonder how you managed

without it. The NFB's Materials Center sells the Parrot Plus for

$200. Write to Materials Center, National Federation of the

Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, or call

(410) 659-9314 between 12:30 and 5:00 p.m. EST.


Attention Students:

     Shawn Mayo, President of the National Association of Blind

Students (NABS), has asked us to pass along the following

     Saturday, January 30, 1999, marks the tenth anniversary of

the annual NABS Student Seminar held in conjunction with the

Federation's Washington Seminar. This year's agenda provides

opportunities to hear thought-provoking presentations and to

interact with blind students from across the country. The day's

events will culminate in an evening banquet, with a keynote

address delivered by President Maurer that no one will want to

miss. Be sure to arrive at the Student Seminar in time to mingle

with other blind students and Federation leaders at the student

party, held on Friday evening from 8:00 p.m. until we get closed


Assistance Needed:

     Khalid Zakaria Ayd. writes from Egypt to express interest in

establishing correspondence with Braille Monitor readers. He

prefers Braille but can use tape. He is interested in blindness

issues and likes to read Braille books and magazines and to

listen to shortwave radio. He is a university student and is

totally blind. He and his blind friends are also in need of a

Spanish-English Braille dictionary, a Braille watch, a Perkins

Brailler, and a typewriter. All but the last of these could be

sent Free-Matter-for-the-Blind. His address is Khalif Zakaria

Ayd., Postal #32873, Ezbet Abu Yusif, Shatanouf, Ashmoun,

Monofia, Arab Republic of Egypt.


NFB Key Chains for Sale:

     The Greater Summit County Chapter of the NFB of Ohio is

selling two-inch solid-metal tactile NFB key chains. Many

Federationists snapped them up at the convention last summer, and

now the chapter offers them to Monitor readers at the same great

price. Choose among antiqued gold, blackened silver, or pewter

finishes. All key chains have a lifetime guarantee and are made

in the USA. The NFB logo depicting the triangle inside a circle

with the letters "NFB" appears in print on one side and in

Braille on the other. The words "Security," "Equality," and

"Opportunity" also appear on the print side. All logo key chains

include a split ring on a short chain. The cost is only $10 each

plus $1 for shipping and handling. Order today by sending a check

or money order for $11 to Greater Summit County Chapter, 991

Young Avenue, Barberton, Ohio 44203. If you have questions,

please call Everett Gavel at (330) 745-6414 between 9:00 and

11:00 p.m., EST. Be sure to indicate the finish you want.

Quantity discounts are available for chapters that would like to

use the key chains in their own fund-raising events. Offer ends

March 1, 1999.


For Sale:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     Beautiful Things: this is Our-Co's first full-color catalog

featuring Braille bead necklaces and sponge-painted and screen

printed apparel for both children and adults. For more

information call (732) 805-1912 or fax (732) 805-3088. Our-Co

Industries is a division of the New Jersey Association of the

Deaf-Blind, a non-profit organization specializing in meeting the

needs of individuals who are deaf, blind, or deaf-blind, and

developmentally disabled.


Update on Literary Braille Competency test:

     We recently received the following notice:

     The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) of

Louisville, Kentucky, and the National Library Service for the

Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, have

entered into a cooperative agreement to work on the revision and

ongoing maintenance of the National Literary Braille Competency

Test (NLBCT), Frank Kurt Cylke, NLS director, recently announced.
     NLS has been administering the test for teachers of Braille

to children and adults since May, 1994. It is currently being

revised as part of a validation study conducted by Human Research

Resources Organization (HumRRO), Alexandria, Virginia.
     Mr. Cylke said, "We look forward to working with the

Research and Development staff at APH on this project. APH has

long been a leader in the development of materials for the

education of blind children and adults. Its staff has expertise

in testing and test production that will complement the NLS

expertise in the literary Braille code and in the certification

     During the next two years APH will participate with NLS in

organizing two committees to facilitate the revision process and

to manage and maintain the testing program over time. The

Administrative Issues Committee (AIC) will oversee administration

of the test and recommend policies and procedures associated with

the testing program. The Test Development Committee (TDC) will

develop and maintain the test (e.g., introduce new test forms as

needed). The Administrative Issues Committee will have members

from the American Council of the Blind (ACB), the Association for

Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired

(AER), and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). The TDC

will include a representative group of teachers.
     The American Printing House will further assist the effort

by producing the print and Braille test materials. For additional

information contact Mary Lou Stark, Head, Braille Development

Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically

Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 20542; phone

(202) 707-9302 or (800) 424-8567; fax (202) 707-0712; e-mail

<[email protected]>.


Braille and Audiobooks Available:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     We are a company which offers over 1,000 Braille and audio

books for very affordable prices, and we also will transcribe any

pocketbook onto cassette for a nominal fee. We have written over

twenty speech-friendly computer games and utilities for children

and adults, which all work very well on talking computers. For

more information please visit our Web site at

<> or write us for a free audio

cassette or computer disk catalog or send $5 for a Braille or

print price list. The address is I Can See Books, 88 Captain

Morgans Boulevard, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada V9R 6R1. To

request an e-mail catalog, contact Danny Faris, President, at

<[email protected]>.


[PHOTO/CAPTION: Careen Bradbury]

The Last Word about Magoo:

     Careen Bradbury, Assistant Editor of Viewpoint, the

publication of the National Federation of the Blind of the United

Kingdom and member of the organization's Executive Council,

reports that the group discussed the following motion from its

Executive Council at its recent annual delegate conference, held

in Liverpool, England. As approved, the resolution reads: "This

annual delegate conference instructs the Executive Council to

encourage the media to portray disabled people in a positive

     This resolution came about as a direct result of the Magoo

struggle. Bradbury reports that the film has been screened once

only in Glasgow and that about twenty people paid to watch it.

She concludes her note with the comment that "It seems that

movie-goers just stay away from the old creep, who I feel sure

will trouble us no more."


For Sale:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     Mindfold is a mask impervious to light, even direct

sunlight. It is used as a training aid, in airplanes, in

dentists' offices, for meditation, for seminars, for sleep

studies, by night workers, and by computer professionals. The

mask is held away from the eyes by foam padding with cutouts

creating total darkness even with eyes open. Mindfold consists of

a durable plastic lens; high-density, soft foam; and an

adjustable elastic strap. Mindfold's pricing is quantity-based.

Each price includes shipping and handling. For quantities of one

to 1,000, the cost is $6.50 per unit. For 1,001 and above, the

cost is $5.75 per unit. Call toll-free to place an order (888)

705-3805. Contact Mindfold, Inc., 8043 East 7th Street, Tucson,

Arizona 85710, or call (520) 885-3700, fax (505) 298-9157.


[PHOTO/CAPTION: Georgia Kitchen]

Cookbook in the Making:

     The Jacobus tenBroek Memorial Fund Committee is planning a

cookbook and seeks recipes from members and their friends that

are both elegant and simple to prepare. We want recipes from all

food categories--desserts, main dishes, sugar-free, vegetarian,

salt free, dishes using convenience foods, etc. The book will be

published in print and Braille. All contributions should be

elegant, simple, relatively quick to prepare, and contain common

ingredients found in most pantries. We can accept recipes with

one to three less-common ingredients that would need to be

purchased. Send your recipes to Georgia Kitchen, Cookbook

Coordinator, 2809 Lapeer Road, Flint, Michigan 48503.


For Sale:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     Perkins Brailler with case and keys, brand new, never used.

Asking $400 or best offer. Call Frances Horwitz at (215) 745-



World Series Baseball Game:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     The 1998 baseball season is over, and Version 13 of the

award-winning World Series Baseball Game and Information System

is ready to be mailed. The big news about Version 13 is that it

comes with 124 additional teams, including the 1998 pennant

winners and Mark McGwire's 1998 St. Louis Cardinals. This makes a

total of 262 teams, including every pennant winner since 1901,

many All-Star teams, Negro teams, Japanese teams, etc. Every

major-league franchise is represented. The game is being played

by sight-impaired baseball fans of all ages in forty-eight states

on IBM-compatible computers with screen readers and synthesizers.

There are also nine updated information programs and a 1,000-

question quiz. There are many improvements, most suggested by

users of the game. Baseball action during the game is described

in the words of many of the famous radio and TV announcers. The

price is still the same as when the game was first introduced in

1986, only $15 to new users, $5 for upgrades. Send your check to

Harry Hollingsworth, 692 Sheraton Drive, Akron, Ohio 44319 or

call (330) 644-2421, or e-mail <[email protected]>.



     The contact information for ordering the new cassette tape

recording of the Cane Raisers singing NFB songs was incorrectly

listed in the August/September issue. Lloyd Rasmussen's telephone

number is (301) 946-8345. His e-mail addresses are <[email protected]>

(work) and <[email protected]> (home). The cost of the tape is $5.


Correspondence Wanted:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     My name is George, and I live in Sheffield, Yorkshire,

England. I would like to communicate on a regular basis by

cassette tape with readers of the Braille Monitor. I am seventy-

eight years of age, fairly healthy, partially sighted (I can

still see a little), and a widower. I unfortunately lost my wife

nearly two years ago. If there is anyone from the age of fifty

upwards who would like to communicate with me, I should be very,

very pleased indeed. I will answer all people who respond to this

request by return tape. Contact George W. Sutton, 21 Luterel

Drive, Swallowsnest, Sheffield, Yorkshire S26 4SY.


For Sale:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     I have a Romeo RB-25 Braille printer, just over one year

old. It has printed fewer than 100 pages. Price does not include

warranty. If interested, contact Tonia Trapp at work (505)

843-7535, home (505) 266-4016, or e-mail

<[email protected]>.


Braille Bible Available:

     I have a New World Testament Bible to give away. It is

almost brand new and is in eighteen Braille volumes. If anyone is

interested, please contact me in writing (Braille or print).

Enclose your telephone number so that I can contact you. Send to

Priscilla A. Ferris, 55 Delaware Avenue, Somerset, Massachusetts



Audiobooks Available:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     A number of instructional and educational audio books of

interest are available from BFI AudioBooks at (800) 260-7717.

Titles include 60 Minutes Towards Computer Literacy, Internet

Explained, Short and Sweet, Cat Lovers Only, and Self-Publishing

in Audio and Making Money from the Start, as well as cassettes on

fund-raising skills and ones for kids that teach how to deal with

your own anger and how to resolve conflicts through sensitivity

to the other person's feelings. For a complete list and more

information ask for a catalog. A percentage of the proceeds from

these sales go to the National Federation of the Blind. Contact

Julian Padowicz, BFI AudioBooks, 1397 Hope Street, Stamford,

Connecticut 06907. The Web site is <>.

The telephone/fax number is (203) 968-2255.


Great News from Clovernook:

     Most people who know anything at all about the blindness

field in the United States have heard of Clovernook. For ninety-

five years the agency has provided a number of services and

programs to blind and multiply handicapped people in Cincinnati,

Ohio. It is best known as one of the largest Braille production

houses in the country, printing Braille books, magazines, and

other publications for use across the country. On July 16, 1998,

Marvin Kramer, President of Clovernook Center for the Blind,

issued the following self-explanatory memo:


     At its June 18, 1998, meeting the Board of Trustees voted to

accept management's recommendation that Clovernook change its

policy on minimum wage. Effective with the paycheck of July 17,

1998, all regular employees in production jobs will be paid at

least minimum wage, currently $5.15 per hour. We will continue to

track production as always, and individuals will be paid their

piece rate when that exceeds minimum wage.
     This decision did not come easily, and it represents a major

departure from Clovernook's long-standing practices which permit

us to pay sub-minimum wages under our Department of Labor

Sheltered Workshop certificate.
     The underlying rationale for this decision is that it is in

keeping with our mission of promoting independence and fostering

the highest quality of life. Clovernook advocates throughout the

community that people with visual impairments deserve an

opportunity to work and compete with their sighted peers. By

embracing this philosophy of paying at least minimum wage, we are

practicing what we ask others to do. Clovernook's expectation

that employees make a daily effort to be productive and meet the

needs of our customers will be more important than ever.
     The new minimum wage rate does not apply to individuals in

trainee status (i.e., individuals whose employment at Clovernook

is provided through a contractual or purchase-of-service

arrangement with an outside third party). Their employment status

is characterized by its training nature, and services are

designed to develop skills, work ethic, and productivity.


     That is what the memo said, and Mr. Kramer and Clovernook

have been as good as their word. This is a giant step forward,

not least because the decision was made for the right reasons.

Congratulations to Clovernook and to its hard-working employees.



     On October 18, 1998, at the annual convention of the

National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin, officers and

members of the Board of Directors were elected. Those now serving

are Mark A. Riccobono, President; Jim McCarthy, First Vice

President; Bill Meeker, Second Vice President; Brad Dunse,

Treasurer; Linda Mentink, Secretary; and Board Members, Amanda

Durik and Patty Zimmerman.


For Sale:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     We have for sale a Papenmeier 2D-lite refreshable Braille

display with Windots software. This equipment has had fewer than

thirty hours of use. Windots version is current. Comes with all

documentation, travel case, and shipping to your location. In

addition our center will install the software on your computer if

you wish, at no additional charge.
     Asking $6,000. Contact Brad Hodges, Assistive Technology and

Assessment Center, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Room 101 VRB,

Menomonie, Wisconsin 54751, phone: (800) 228-5457.


Call for Papers:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     The 9th Interdisciplinary Conference on Blind and Visually

Impaired Children, "Here's Lookin' at You Kid 2," will take place

September 22 to 25, 1999, hosted by the Alberta/NWT Division of

the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Presenters from

across Canada and North America will bring the latest in

research, educational practices, technological innovation and

rehabilitation strategies to some 600 delegates at the Calgary

Convention Center.
     Keynote speakers include Stephen Kuusisto, author of Planet

of the Blind; Terry Kelly, an accomplished musician from Nova

Scotia; renowned children's author, Jean Little; Dr. Raymond

Buncic from Toronto's Sick Children's Hospital; and Dr. Cay

Holbrook from the University of British Columbia.
     In addition to announcing the conference, this notice is

also a call for papers. Potential presenters are asked to submit

abstracts no longer than 200 words and a current vita. All

abstracts must be received by February 28, 1999. Notification of

acceptance will be by March 15, 1999. Accepted presenters will be

asked to submit the full text of their presentations.
     To submit a presentation proposal or for further

information, contact Sonja Kolacz, CNIB Calgary, 15 Colonel Baker

Place, Calgary, AB, T2E 4Z3, Phone (403) 266-8831, fax (403) 265-

5029, e-mail <[email protected]>.


Cassette Storage Albums Available:

     Steve Benson, President of the NFB of Illinois, asks us to

carry the following announcement:
     The holidays have arrived, and so too, inevitably, have more

cassettes. These audio gems seem to multiply exponentially.

Before you know it, dozens of cassettes will be scattered all

over your living space.
     Here's the perfect solution for cassette chaos. Capture and

keep your precious cassettes in attractive white vinyl cassette

albums, offered to you by the NFB of Illinois. Each album

accommodates twelve cassettes. The album's spine is wide enough

for a Braille label, and the front, back, and spine also have

sleeves for print labels. These cassette albums are perfect for a

year's subscription of the Braille Monitor. They fit nicely into

your favorite bookshelf.
     Each album is $3. Send your check or money order (payable to

the NFB of Illinois) to Steven O. Benson, 7020 N. Tahoma,

Chicago, Illinois 60646. If you have questions, please call (773)



Exhibits by Blind Artists:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     National Exhibits by Blind Artists 25th Anniversary Exhibit

will take place at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Fall, 1999.

Artwork by legally blind artists is eligible for the juried show.

Slides are due by January 21, 1999, to be sent to NEBA, 919

Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107. For more

information call (800) 222-1754, Monday through Friday, E.S.T.


Position Available:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

     Blazie Engineering seeks motivated individuals for its

technical support staff at Blazie headquarters in Forest Hill,

Maryland. Applicants must possess the following: 1) complete

working knowledge of at least one Blazie Engineering note taker

product; 2) excellent written and oral communication; 3) problem-

solving skills; 4) interest and talent in helping others; 5)

ability to test and analyze new software and hardware.
     Benefits include medical and dental plan, tuition

reimbursement, equipment loan, 401K plan, and paid vacation.

Salary commensurate with experience. Mail, fax, or e-mail a

resume to Frank Irzyk, Director of Marketing, Blazie Engineering,

105 East Jarrettsville Road, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050, fax

(410) 836-5040, <[email protected]>.


Road Runner Is Here:

     We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

ShrinkWrap Computer Products is pleased to announce an exciting

new product called the Road Runner. This is a tiny text-reading

device which permits you to store up to 3,000 pages of text in

discrete files for easy reading on the go. The unit is somewhat

smaller than an audio cassette and has a telephone-style keypad

for control. It produces clear synthetic speech through a pair of

supplied headphones, or you can attach it to amplified computer-

style speakers for reading aloud. Road Runner will let you store

up to several complete books as well as other shorter documents.

While reading, you are able to adjust the volume, rate, and voice

continuously. Road Runner will remember where you left off in

each document and return you to that spot automatically. It also

permits up to ten independent bookmarks per document and provides

searching capability and a sleep timer. To use the Road Runner,

you will need a PC-compatible computer from which to transfer the

text you have scanned, acquired from RFB&D or borrowed from

friends or the Internet. Road Runner comes with headphones, two

AA batteries, a nine-pin serial cable, and a taped instruction

guide. The cost of Road Runner is $349 plus shipping. For more

information contact ShrinkWrap Computer Products at (703)

620-4642 or toll-free at (800) 377-0774.


                           NFB PLEDGE


     I pledge to participate actively in the effort 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.

The Braille Monitor, December, 1998 Complete Issue

How to receive the Braille Monitor via e-mail

ISSN 0006-8829
Copyright 1998, The National Federation of the Blind

homepage  braille monitors

E-mail address:
[email protected]
Posted December 22, 1998