THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Vol. 42, No. 6 July, 1999
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT
National Office 1800 Johnson Street Baltimore, Maryland 21230 NFB Net BBS: (612) 869-4599 Web Page address: http://www.nfb.org
Letters to the President, address changes, subscription requests, orders for NFB literature, articles for the Monitor, and letters to the Editor should be sent to the National Office.
Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation about twenty-five dollars per year. Members are invited, and non-members are requested, to cover the subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to National Federation of the Blind and sent to:
National Federation of the Blind 1800 Johnson Street Baltimore, Maryland 21230
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 42, No. 6 July, 1999
Merger Madness by Wayne E. Shevlin
Separate Agency for the Blind: Best Practice for Success by James H. Omvig
Seeing Is Believing They Told Us We Couldn't Take Care of Our Children Because We're Blind by Lori K. Baker
Banks Sued over ATM Use Advocates for the Blind Say Mellon and PNC Should Provide Voice-operated Machines by Joseph A. Slobodzian
Amylin Analog (Pramlintide) Studies Reveal Better Glycemic Control by Ed Bryant
From Discrimination to a Dream Come True by Vicky Chapman
Huge Surplus Amassed by Guide Dog Charity Critics Say Group Sitting On Too Much Wealth by David Dietz
To Touch the Untouchable Dream by Toni and Ed Eames
Lessons Brought to Light by Daniel B. Frye
Everyday Heroes Acts That Count by Taylor Syphus
Linkage Bill Introduced in House
Admiration by Kathleen Lusk
Sitting in a Corner? Not Me! by Tobias (Toby) Longface
Baking Our Daily Bread by Barbara Pierce
The Technical Braille Center by John J. Boyer
Donald C. Capps Receives the Jefferson Award by David Houck
Copyright (C) 1999 National Federation of the Blind
[LEAD PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Pictures of eight children appear on this page. The captions under the pictures read as follows: Peter John Foster, Kentucky; Samantha Gilley (and brother Austin), Georgia; Michael Taboada, Louisiana; Laura-Sun Cefaratti, Maryland; Hannah Weatherd, Montana; Andrew Wai, Pennsylvania; and Nicolas Stockton, West Virginia.]
CAPTION: The In-Touch program for parents of blind children is a three-and-a-half-day intensive Braille literacy and assistive technology seminar conducted at the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind. Through this program parents get a comprehensive overview of what's available in Braille, speech, and tactile adaptive technology for the blind.
They see demonstrations, do some hands-on exercises, review the factors that go into making decisions about what technology to buy, and discuss how to get technology into an IEP. This technology learning is linked to discussions about the importance of Braille literacy, methods of learning Braille, low-tech Braille technology, and resources available to parents and their children.
The first 1999 seminar for parents took place June 3 to 6. Pictured above are several of the children of the June seminar participants. The second parent seminar will occur October 7 to 10. At this writing a few spots are still available. If you are interested, call Barbara Cheadle, (410) 659-9314. In-Touch is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Seraph Foundation, and the UPS Foundation.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Wayne Shevlin] Merger Madness by Wayne E. Shevlin ********** From the Editor: In recent years legislatures and governors in state after state have decided that multiplying the layers of bureaucracy thereby creating huge agencies will increase efficiency in delivering rehabilitation services while at the same time saving money. They argue that lumping accounting and other administrative services together will automatically and inevitably provide economy of scale. Sometimes they even argue that counselors, who after all know everything about rehabilitation, can be more efficient if they deal with a number of different disabilities in a small geographic area rather than specializing in one or a very few disabilities and traveling some distance to cover the case load.
But anyone who has ever tried to make his or her perplexed way through layers of the rehabilitation bureaucratic maze knows that such arguments benefit no one but the empire builders at the very top, where power and influence are available to a very few. Clients with specific needs are not served. Counselors only become discouraged trying to understand the access-equipment, mobility, and Braille needs of blind consumers; learn American Sign Language and other communicative skills to help deaf clients; and meet the specific needs of those with brain injury, orthopedic limitations of all kinds, or mental retardation. It can't be done effectively, but since the only people losing out are those requiring rehabilitation and the dedicated professionals trying to serve them, the disadvantages of such merger plans are frequently discounted.
The legislative battles that result when these consolidation plans surface are messy and unpleasant. The members of the disability community resisting the legislative juggernaut have little money, power, or influence; so why should legislators listen to us? We are frequently told that we don't really understand the situation, that no one intends to damage the rehabilitation delivery system, that we will experience no diminution in the quality of the services delivered. They dismiss the fact that we are the ones who have been on the receiving end of whatever rehabilitation has been available, and we know what works and what doesn't. We have learned the hard way that long chains of command, budget dispersal, and paperwork create chaos and confusion. We have all heard the stories of what happens when a counselor doesn't know enough about a disability to insure that proper services are procured for a client. And many of us can name the states in which services for the blind have been buried in much larger agencies for so long that the notion of effective service delivery would be a joke if human lives weren't being destroyed by the system.
Despite our best efforts we lost the most recent round of the separate-agency battle in Texas in early May. Happily, in North Carolina the blind are still up and fighting and appear to be holding their own against determined opposition. Wayne Shevlin chairs the NFB of North Carolina's Legislative Committee. Here is the way he tells the story of the latest confrontation in North Carolina: ********** I returned home from National Convention in July of 1998 to find that someone in our state legislature had introduced a bill to merge our Division of Services for the Blind, Services for the Deaf, and Vocational Rehabilitation into one generic agency called the Division of Rehabilitation Services. As Legislative Chairman of the NFB of North Carolina, I immediately went to work making calls to people in the organization, encouraging them to make calls and to write to their legislators, particularly those on the committee which had introduced this idea. I went as far as to get a permit to demonstrate in front of the Legislative Building if necessary.
At that time it turned out not to be necessary. (See Herman Gruber's article, "North Carolina Agency Survives Surprise from Legislature" in the November, 1998, issue of the Braille Monitor.) The bill was passed on from the committee to our State House of Representatives, and the bill to merge was voted down fifty-seven to fifty-five. But unfortunately it didn't end there; in fact, it was just getting started.
While the merger was voted down, a provision was passed to establish a study commission to look at the feasibility of merging the Division of Services for the Blind, Services for the Deaf, and Vocational Rehabilitation. The accounting firm of Price Waterhouse-Coopers-- who better to work with the Blind than an accounting firm--were hired to do the study. Consumers were to be included in the study. However, we were told that the merger was a done deal, and what we thought didn't really matter. Nevertheless, our state president, Herman Gruber, was asked to participate in the merger study.
In March of this year the issue began to heat up. I began to hear all kinds of rumors, including more talk that the merger was already a done deal. A done deal, eh--I guess they forgot to consider the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina. Herman and I had already been keeping in touch regularly; now it became daily. We also began having regular meetings with the North Carolina Council of the Blind, North Carolina Association of Workers for the Blind, and other groups and people who had no blindness-field affiliation at all.
On March 24 we held a meeting in Raleigh to plan and inform people about what was happening. People were also encouraged to visit their legislators as long as they were in town for the meeting. We decided to schedule a demonstration in front of the Legislative Building on April 6. I was asked to set up the demonstration. I had participated in NAC-Tracking and in a number of demonstrations held at Washington Seminars through the years, but I had never organized one before.
I learned very quickly just how many details are involved in organizing a demonstration, especially one which turned out to be as big as this one was. We needed to obtain permits from Legislative Security and the Raleigh Police Department. We had to find a place for people to gather and for them to park cars and vans. There were press releases to write and send, slogans and signs to invent and make, people to notify, and on and on. Peggy Elliott, Second Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind, and her secretary Darla Hamilton arrived the day before the demonstration to help and give us moral support. We met with them the night they arrived to cover last-minute details.
The big day arrived. The demonstration was to be held at noon. We were all to gather at the Holiday Inn and walk about five blocks to the Legislative Building. Only as people began arriving did we realize the size of the group we were going to have. By all counts, ours and the media's, we had between four and five hundred people in attendance. We had people from all parts of the state: agency employees; AER, NFB, and ACB members; deaf-blind people, folks in wheel chairs, and members of the Lions Club in their orange vests. The media were well represented by our four major local TV stations, reporters from the Raleigh and Charlotte papers, and several other papers from across the state. We marched up and down in front of the Legislative Building for almost two hours with Mrs. Elliott in the thick of things helping to organize and leading the chanting. A number of legislators came out to watch and talk to us.
After the smoke had cleared, several of us who had been recognized as organizers of the opposition movement received phone calls inviting us to a meeting of the joint Senate and House Appropriations Committee the next week. Now was the time to let those with the real power know how we felt, as if the demonstration hadn't. The first folks in line to speak to the committee were representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the parent agency of the state agency serving the blind. They presented their study results and their recommendations, which were--surprise, surprise--that Services for the Blind, Services for the Deaf, and Vocational Rehabilitation be merged into a Department of Rehabilitation. Some of the more interesting things said by the Secretary of DHHS were "they were trying to help the blind and that we ought to be grateful" and that "the blind were the only consumers who opposed the merger." We were also told that a few of the blind had stirred the rest up.
The next day the consumers had our say. The first people to speak were two advocates from the deaf community. They were very much opposed to the merger. Hmmm, what was that about the blind being the only group opposed? Then we had our chance. Mr. Gruber was the spokesman for blind consumers and was eloquent. He was asked whether the blind would be satisfied if we were guaranteed a voice in deciding the way the merger would be done. Mr. Gruber's response was, "If the input on planning the merger was as significant as it had been on the Study Commission, it wasn't worth much."
Since the committee meeting we have heard many rumors about what may happen: everything from "it's a done deal" to "the legislature will wait until the consumers forget and then try to slip it through." In the end I think they are likely to combine our school for the blind with the three schools for the deaf but leave our agency alone. The Secretary of DHHS can merge the agencies without the backing of the legislature, but I don't think it is likely. We are continuing to keep in touch and build support with our legislators to let them know we have not forgotten and are continuing to keep our plans current. It's not over yet, and blind North Carolinians are in no danger of forgetting or of ceasing to keep a watchful eye on those who think that bigger bureaucracy is better.
I want to extend thanks to all who participated and who have expressed their support. Thanks especially to our National Office. Peggy Elliott and Herman Gruber provided excellent advice and leadership. Thank you to the members of the NFB of North Carolina, who by their hard work have made my job as legislative chairman easier. If anyone still wonders why the National Federation of the Blind, our experience in North Carolina is an eloquent illustration. Without the commitment, experience, and momentum of the Federation, we would never have come as far as we have. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Jim Omvig] Separate Agency for the Blind: Best Practice for Success by James H. Omvig ********** From the Editor: Ever since Dr. Jernigan went to Iowa in 1958 to transform the worst agency serving blind people in the country into the best program anywhere, we have known how important it is for effective rehabilitation of the blind to be conducted by a separate agency. "Because separate agencies do a better job" is not a sufficient reason to give legislators being lured by the siren song of consolidation. Jim Omvig is one of the people whom Dr. Jernigan first rehabilitated and then trained to assist him to do his work in Iowa. Jim is a blind attorney who has now been involved in rehabilitation for more than thirty years. He wrote the following paper for several Arizona legislators some years ago. It is as relevant and helpful today as it was then. ********** Background ********** Every state has some form of vocational rehabilitation and training program for its blind adults, for which the federal government pays approximately eighty percent of the cost. The blind receive these services in one of two ways: either from a large general rehabilitation agency, which tries to serve people with all types of disabilities, or from a separate agency for the blind, which presumably has the requisite expertise and serves only blind consumers. Then in turn, if a separate program for the blind is established, it may be either a section or division within a much larger umbrella agency, or it may be a completely separate and independent agency, directly accountable to the governor, the legislature, the blind, and the general citizenry. It is up to each state to determine which governmental structure is best suited to meet the particular needs of its blind citizens.
Congress has recognized that the problems of the blind are unique and therefore that meaningful services for the blind are distinctly different from rehabilitation and related services for people with other disabilities. Accordingly, federal law permits the states to establish a completely separate, independent agency for the blind if they wish in order to address these unique needs in a comprehensive, specialized program. The relevant federal law is Title 29 USC, Section 701 (a) (1) (A) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
Experience has shown that the blind always have the best possible chance of receiving quality services when such services are delivered through an independent, separate agency for the blind. There are numerous reasons for the tremendous success of these programs. They are outlined in the section below. ********** Why a Separate, Independent Agency for the Blind? ********** Rehabilitation of the blind has more in common with independent living services for the blind, services for the older blind, orientation and adjustment training for the blind, sight conservation, and sheltered employment for the blind than it does with rehabilitation of other disability groups or the socially or economically disadvantaged. Likewise small business enterprise programs for the blind have more in common with rehabilitation services for the blind than they do with other types of small business programs.
Even so, some argue that the blind should be lumped together with other disability groups or served through some giant umbrella agency to achieve integration and coordination of services. Until you think about it carefully and have certain facts presented to you, this might sound like pretty good, logical thinking.
There is, indeed, a need for coordination and integration of state services for the blind, but terminology should not be confused with reality. If, for instance, a state has a supervisor of highway construction, a supervisor of elementary education, a supervisor of pest control, and a supervisor of health and welfare, it does not follow that integration and coordination are achieved by creating a Department of Supervisors and lumping all of these people and functions together. Nor is any real integration or coordination achieved by establishing a Department of Health and Highways. Health is one function, highways another, and they cannot meaningfully be integrated.
If such a department is established, all that can be accomplished is to superimpose a costly administrative hierarchy upon the two departments. They will still remain separate functions whether they be called departments, divisions, sections, bureaus, or whatever. In fact the administrative hierarchy will be detrimental and will only cause inefficiency and waste in such a situation.
Relating all of this to the blind, fragmentation is increased rather than helped by putting all of the services for the blind into a division of a super-department. What is needed is common sense rather than textbook theory and neatness of somebody's organizational chart. Sound reasoning tells us that the various services for the blind complement and supplement one another and form one unique entity. They are only very slightly and incidentally related to services for people with other disabilities or other disadvantaged groups despite the similarity of terminology.
The people who administer rehabilitation and other services for the blind should be able to administer the entire package, and they should not be distracted by other duties. Furthermore, they should not be responsible to people who have other program interests and who may, therefore, subordinate the needs of programs for the blind to other interests or pet projects. At the same time the professional agency for the blind administrator must be responsible to some authority as a check and balance and a testing ground for his or her judgment. This authority should be a lay board, preferably one containing a number of blind people themselves--people who know firsthand what the services are and what they should be to achieve best results.
In those states where separate, independent agencies exist, the governor (often with the advice and consent of the Senate) appoints the members of the lay board. The board hires the director, and the director then hires other staff and provides the leadership and day-to-day management of the program.
On the other hand, if the administrator of programs for the blind is responsible to the head of some super-agency or even directly to the governor, he or she is really not responsible to anyone, for these people are not knowledgeable about what is needed and are likely to be extremely busy with other matters. Thus an independent department or commission for the blind administering all state services for the blind is clearly best suited to meet the requirements for a good program.
It is, of course, possible to have an inefficient independent agency just as it is possible to have an inefficient program under any other type of structure, but the odds are much better for good programs if you have the independent agency system. This all depends, of course, upon the caliber and expertise of the people who do the administering. However, if all other things are equal, an independent commission affords the best organizational structure. Let me be more specific about what I have been saying. Even though the same words are sometimes used when we talk of various service programs, the mere use of such words is where the similarity ends. For example, rehabilitation of people using wheelchairs or of the deaf is in no sense the same process as rehabilitation of the blind. And this is equally true when discussing a hundred other types of rehabilitation. In other words, the problems facing blind people are unique. From this it naturally follows that those who are hired to provide rehabilitation services for blind people must possess a unique reservoir of knowledge specifically related to the problems of blindness, if effective programs are to be carried on. If we are to be truly effective, we need experts whose training and experience relate specifically to the problems of blindness. It is sheer nonsense to expect any human being to be knowledgeable about and to possess the necessary expertise to deal effectively with all of the problems of everyone needing various types of rehabilitation services.
"But," it is sometimes argued, "it is desirable to have the uniformity of administration found in a large super-agency." This argument might be made with considerable validity for producing license plates or for regulatory agencies--licensing, permits, etc. Its validity is much more doubtful, however, with respect to human-service programs, which for maximum efficiency must operate on a person-to-person basis. As I have said, neatness of somebody's organizational chart and uniformity of administrative pattern must not be permitted to obscure the human element. In fact, there is considerable evidence that bigness itself is a negative, not a positive factor.
"But," it is further argued, "programs for the blind and others which sound similar should be merged into large departments so that they will not function in a vacuum and be too independent." An interesting point can be made here. The best way to hide a tree is in a forest. A separate, independent agency for the blind with a lay board would always operate in the spotlight of inescapable scrutiny, accountability, and responsibility. If its programs are not functioning well, the blind can and will rise in protest, and there can be no possibility of evasion, no shifting of responsibility, no passing the buck. There is no hierarchy of administrators, divisions, or bureaucrats to stand between unhappy blind consumers and the people employed to give them service.
On the other hand, if you want real independence and lack of accountability, turn that agency loose in the mazes of bureaucracy as a tiny segment of a super-agency. In the hide-and- seek of the intricacies and technicalities and divided responsibilities within a giant agency, no governor and no legislator can track it down. In the corridors of bureaucracy the full-time professional administrator is king, and the layman, whether governor, legislator, or average citizen just seeking service, is subject.
Establish a separate, independent agency for the blind with a lay board appointed by the governor and you have checks and balances and the maximum incentive for that agency to do a good job. Submerge services for the blind in a large department, and you give that program a blank check of independence and authority--independence and authority which it should neither want nor have.
Further, when you place services for the blind in a larger department of government, this will necessarily divert the energies and talents of administrators whose training, experience, and main professional concerns should be strictly with the blind. Can anyone really doubt what the main professional concerns of the high-level administrators of a giant, umbrella agency are? I can assure you that those concerns have nothing to do with blindness.
We who are blind do not wish to divert the energies or talents of anybody, nor do we wish the agency for the blind's energies and talents to be diverted, watered down, or shifted from the course of giving the best possible service to the blind of the state. This is probably one of the principal reasons why many states have separated their services for the blind from large departments.
"But," as a last-ditch effort, it is argued by the uninformed, "can't we save a lot of state and federal money if we just lump together these seemingly related programs? We can avoid duplication and save a bundle." While this sounds logical and responsible, the fact is that, where this re-organizing takes place, the same program administrators and managers are generally retained, but in addition a new and costly level of administrators is imposed to supervise the original program managers. This practice costs more, not less.
Finally, several years ago an independent study (The Mallas Report) was made of service delivery systems to determine which type was best suited to provide quality rehabilitation and related services for the blind. The study concluded that the separate, independent agency with a lay board appointed by the governor is best. In an interview the researcher said, "Where reorganization of services for the blind has taken place on the basis of the economy-of-scale principle, its proponents have sold the legislature and the Governor on statements such as, `This will be more efficient and economical. It will let us get more mileage out of every tax dollar.' As a matter of fact, in every state where such a reorganization has taken place, the prestige and level of operation of the agencies serving the blind have been downgraded." This study also makes another revealing finding. "In general programs for the blind which fall under rehabilitation departments and umbrella agencies have the least effectiveness in developing and utilizing necessary financial resources."
In conclusion, we who are blind want the opportunity to receive services aimed at returning us to the mainstream of life. We want to be taxpayers, not tax users. The separate, independent agency for the blind offers us the best chance for meaningful programs. We are willing to work, and work hard, but we will also dare to dream in order to develop and protect our separate programs. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: The Posont Family: Peter and Katie, standing in rear; Paul standing beside his parents, Donna and Larry; Betsy seated on Donna's lap; and Ruth Anne standing in front of Larry.] Seeing Is Believing They Told Us We Couldn't Take Care of our Children Because We're Blind by Lori K. Baker ********** From the Editor: the following article appeared in the May 11, 1999, issue of Family Circle Magazine. Donna and Larry Posont are leaders in the NFB of Michigan and the NFB's merchants division. Here it is: ********** It's 7:30 on a school-day morning, a hectic time for forty-two-year-old Donna Posont. The mother of five stands at a sizzling griddle, flipping French toast as fast as a short-order cook. Two-and-a-half-year-old Betsy toddles to her mother, bells jingling on her tiny shoes. "How's mama's baby?" Donna gently coos, sprinkling cinnamon on the French toast. She whisks her youngest into her arms, hoists her on a hip, and begins to set the breakfast table.
As the scent of cinnamon wafts through her Dearborn Heights, Michigan, home, Donna's sons, Peter, ten, and Paul, eight, bound into the kitchen, followed by daughters Katie, sixteen, and Ruth Anne, five, and husband Larry, forty-eight, a snack-bar-service owner. "Ruthie, why don't I go to school today, and you stay home?" teases Larry. His little girl giggles, flashing deep dimples.
Quickly finishing breakfast, the kids are ready to dart out the door for school. But first Donna checks how they're dressed. "Let me see you," she tells Ruthie, running her hands over her daughter's shirt and sweatpants. One by one, she touches her other children's clothes and asks what they're wearing. Donna can feel for herself if they are dressed warmly, but she and her husband can only imagine how adorable their kids look. Donna and Larry are both blind--and all five of their children are sighted.
"How do you do it?" friends constantly ask the couple, who juggle two careers and run a household of active youngsters. It takes lots of love, courage, and ingenuity, say the Posonts, especially when you can't see what your kids are up to. "We do a lot of careful listening," says Donna, who runs a snack bar and vending machine service called Donna's Delights from her home. "Sighted parents see their children going into the kitchen, but I hear the cookie jar opening or juice pouring into a cup. I smell toothpaste when my kids have brushed their teeth, soap when they've washed their hands, and candy on their breath." ********** Starting a Family, Facing the Fear
When Donna and Larry married nearly twelve years ago--the second time for both--they realized they'd face unique challenges, especially since they knew their children would be sighted. Donna's blindness is genetic--she has retinitis pigmentosa (RP), better known as tunnel vision, which causes a progressive loss of sight. Donna lost her sight at age eight. To inherit RP, typically both parents must pass on the gene. But Larry's blindness is not genetic. His stems from scarring of the retina, a condition brought on by being placed in a high-oxygen incubator as a baby. Larry had limited vision in his left eye until age sixteen when he suffered a detached retina and became totally blind.
"We never had any doubt that we could raise a family," says Larry. "If we had married sooner, we would have had a dozen kids," he adds, laughing. When Donna became pregnant with son Peter soon after their wedding, the couple were thrilled, especially Larry. He didn't have any children from his previous marriage, but Donna did--her daughter, Katie--and she knew the stress and anxiety of being a blind parent all too well. "My biggest fear was that Katie would get sick, and I wouldn't know her temperature," Donna admits. At first she would ask a neighbor to take Katie's temperature at the slightest hint of fever. But she soon learned to trust her sense of touch, placing her hands on Katie's forehead and cheeks. (These days she uses a talking thermometer.)
Like many new mothers, Donna also lived in fear that her baby might choke or swallow something unsafe. When Katie was thirteen months old, Donna's worst nightmare came true. Katie had become lethargic--almost lifeless--and she wouldn't eat. Frantic, Donna wondered whether Katie had swallowed something dangerous. "I was hysterical," she recalls. Donna's brother-in-law rushed them to the emergency room, where doctors took blood tests to rule out poisoning. After an agonizing wait, Donna overheard the doctor phoning the lab for the test results, "The mother doesn't know if the baby swallowed anything," he said. "She's blind."'
Tears of humiliation welled in Donna's eyes. "It just crushed me," she says. "Suddenly I felt totally inadequate. I started thinking, I am blind. Maybe I shouldn't be a mother." Heartsick, Donna felt utter relief when tests showed no signs of poisoning. Doctors later discovered Katie had a hernia, which was making her nauseated and lethargic. After corrective surgery Katie quickly returned to good health.
Although the terrifying episode caused Donna moments of self-doubt, deep down she knew she was a capable mother despite what anyone else might think.
After the birth of the Posonts' first son, Peter, in 1988, a hospital social worker stopped by to see Donna before she and her newborn were discharged. She asked whether Donna needed help at home, such as rides to take the baby to the doctor. "Of course I always need rides," replied Donna, who relies on taxicabs, buses, and friends to get around. The social worker jotted down a few notes and left.
A week later Donna was shocked to get a call from child protective services. "Why are you calling us?" she asked. The caseworker said it was a hospital referral and that she must now come for a home visit. Donna's stomach immediately tied in a knot. "I felt like I was on trial, and I had to prove my children were okay," she says.
When the caseworker arrived, she asked questions about who fed and bathed the baby and who changed diapers. She noticed Katie, in pigtails, playing on the floor with one of her friends. "Who braided Katie's hair?" the caseworker asked curiously. "I did," Donna told her.
"I think she was surprised that my daughter's hair was fixed and that another parent was allowing a blind woman to watch her child," Donna says. Once the caseworker realized Donna took good care of her children, she left. ********** Bells, Beepers, and Other Tricks of the Trade
What child protective services didn't know about the Posonts is just how ingenious they are in handling all the day-to-day tasks of raising youngsters. "We're like anyone else," Donna says. "We just do things differently." While laundry for a family of seven is a daunting task for anyone, Donna has figured out clever ways to make it easier. (Even sighted parents could try these tips.) She has family members fold dirty socks together; then she pins them so they stay matched in the wash. In the laundry room, she keeps a different basket for each person, lined up according to age. "When the clothes come out of the dryer, I can tell who they belong to by size and shape," Donna explains.
Donna can also maneuver through a maze of supermarket aisles with no problem. She's memorized her grocery store's layout and can easily shop alone. But she prefers to take a different child with her each week. "This gives me one-on-one time with each of them, something they find precious," Donna explains.
One thing Donna won't do is rely on her children for help beyond their basic chores. Otherwise, she believes, it blurs the line between a parent's role and a child's. To keep track of the flood of mail and school papers that land on her desk, for instance, she hires a reader to come in once a week and go through a stack. "I'd be willing to pay Katie to do the job," says Donna. "But I'd never make it her responsibility."
Still family roles become confused in public, where strangers often treat the Posont children as if they are the ones in charge. Katie remembers well-intentioned strangers often asking, "Aren't you Mommy's little helper?" when she was young. "Who do they think took care of me?" says Katie. "My mom and dad can do everything."
"It's not that strangers are trying to be rude," Larry says, recalling similar incidents. "There's just a lot of misconceptions and negative stereotypes about blindness."
The Posont kids' friends are equally curious about what it's like to be raised by blind parents, say Peter and Paul, who are often asked what they can get away with at home. To their friends' amazement, the answer is "not much." Careful listeners, Donna and Larry always seem to know what their kids are doing--"Like when we're downstairs playing, and we're supposed to be in bed," admits Paul. The eight-year-old also confesses to trying to sneak chocolate. Then his mom will give him a kiss, smell the chocolate on his breath, and his secret is out.
Typical boys, Peter and Paul enjoy roughhousing and playing sports with their dad. "I spend a lot of time with my kids," says Larry. "I want them to know how much I love them." Thanks to clever inventions, he and his children are able to play all sorts of games together. "We play catch with baseballs and soccer balls that beep," says Peter. "And we shoot hoops with a basketball with bells. We also have checkers and Scrabble in Braille." But what amazes the boys about their dad is his uncanny ability to bowl. "At first the kids thought they could beat me bowling," says Larry, laughing about a recent family outing. "Then I scored 163 on one game. When I got a strike, you could hear everyone in the bowling alley hollering." Larry's secret? A guide rail designed for blind bowlers, which he holds with his left hand as he rolls the ball with his right. The kids were still impressed. "It's amazing how he gets all those strikes," says Paul. "I always get curb balls."
Like any proud father, Larry totes a camcorder to his children's hockey and soccer games, school plays and musical performances. "We want pictures of our kids, too," he says. "Not just for us, but for our children to know they're special." But, he admits, it's a real challenge. Sometimes kind strangers help; other times Larry aims and hopes for the best. "I don't always get a picture of the kids, but at least I get their voices. Someday they'll look at these tapes and say, `My dad was blind, but he was always there.'" ********** A House Full of Love
On a recent afternoon Betsy squeals with delight as Larry arrives home from work at 4:30 p.m. He sits on the living room floor and quickly becomes a human jungle gym with kids crawling all over him. "Hi, buddy," he says to Paul, playfully tousling his son's hair. "This is one thing no one can take away from me--the closeness I have with my children," says Larry. "Sure, it upsets me that I'll never see my kids. But I know what their faces look like because I've felt them, touched them, and kissed them."
In the kitchen Donna sets the table for a crowd-pleasing dinner of spaghetti, crescent rolls, and salad. After dinner Peter and Paul rush out the door for hockey practice. Nowadays Donna's biggest challenge is keeping track of her active kids' schedules: church youth groups, hockey, cheerleading, Boy Scouts. "It's a lot to juggle," Donna readily admits.
While Katie does her homework, Donna snuggles on the couch with Ruthie and Betsy for story time. Nestled between her daughters, Donna reads The Berenstein Bears Forget Their Manners--the girls' favorite--aloud as her fingers decipher raised dots of Braille. Donna's Twin Vision(R) book is cleverly designed so the blind and sighted can read together: it has transparent pages with Braille over typical storybook pages. Hanging on to every word, Ruthie and Betsy burst into giggles when Papa Bear forgets his manners and Mama Bear gets after him. Much too soon it's time for bed.
Once everyone is tucked in, the weary couple have a quiet moment to reflect on how being raised by blind parents has shaped their children's lives. "They don't make fun of people who are different. They're very patient and tolerant of others' disabilities," says Donna. "In many ways they are wise beyond their years." That doesn't mean they miss out on typical childhood joys. The family has been on trips to Disneyland, Six Flags amusement parks, and different cities across the country.
Like other parents Larry and Donna dream that their children will grow up feeling loved and become happy, healthy, compassionate adults. "In the future I hope my children will get scholarships, go to college, serve the Lord in their lives, and give me lots of grandchildren," says Donna, smiling. Along with these common wishes is a special dream: "We want our lives to give hope and encouragement to parents of blind children. These children can grow up to enjoy fulfilling lives with careers an families," says Donna, a perfect example herself. "No one is limited by blindness. We're only limited by attitude." ********** ********** ********** ***************************************************************** Pooled Income Gifts
In this plan money donated to the National Federation of the Blind by a number of individuals is invested by the NFB. Each donor and the NFB sign an agreement that income from the funds will be paid to the donor quarterly or annually. Each donor receives a tax deduction for the gift; the NFB receives a useful donation; and the donor receives income of a specified amount for the rest of his or her life. For more information about the NFB pooled income fund, contact the National Federation of the Blind, Special Gifts, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998, phone (410) 659-9314, fax (410) 685-5653. ***************************************************************** ********** ********** ********** Banks Sued over ATM Use Advocates for the Blind Say Mellon and PNC Should Provide Voice-Operated Machines by Joseph A. Slobodzian ********** From the Editor: The following article appeared in the June 4, 1999, edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the May issue of the Braille Monitor we carried a story outlining the problems with today's automatic teller machines. The following article continues the story. Here it is: ********** Advocates for the blind in Pennsylvania yesterday sued Mellon Bank and PNC Bank, contending that the banks must provide voice-equipped automatic teller machines to comply with federal disabilities law.
The lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Courts in Philadelphia against Mellon, and in Pittsburgh against PNC, by the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania and individual Federation members who are customers of the banks.
"The talking ATM technology is available, and we think the banks should provide them for their blind customers," said Theodore Young, owner of a Glenside computer company, president of the Pennsylvania Federation, and a blind customer of Mellon Bank.
Young said the two banks were targeted in the suit because both are large statewide banks likely to have significant numbers of blind customers. Although most banks now have ATM machines with Braille raised-dot coding along the keys for blind users, Young said only 15 percent of the blind are literate in Braille. Young said even those who are Braille-literate, as he is, are not helped when the bank changes the on-screen message or options on the ATM.
"You wind up having to memorize the keys until the next changes," Young added. The lawsuit, filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act, asks the court to find the banks in violation of the federal law and order them to install talking ATM technology.
Spokesmen for Mellon and PNC said yesterday that they were not permitted to comment on pending litigation. John Hall, a spokesman for the American Bankers Association, a Washington-based industry group, said talking ATM technology is new and not in common use in U.S. banks. Hall said an association task force worked with disabilities groups at the time the federal law took effect in 1992 and approved accommodations for the blind such as Braille directions and bank-sponsored training for the blind on using ATM machines.
Voice-equipped ATM's were discounted as an option at the time, Hall said, because of security concerns when the ATM voice announces personal financial information about the blind customer.
Young, however, said current technology would let the ATM machines broadcast aural directions that could only be heard by someone wearing a special headset programmed to receive it. Young said such an accommodation was critical for the blind as more federal and state government agencies are using direct-deposit to place social program benefits in recipients' bank accounts.
Thomas H. Earle, a lawyer with the Disabilities Law Project in Center City, who filed the suit for the blind federation, acknowledged that the talking bank technology was new but noted that Royal Bank of Canada had begun installing such machines in its banks. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Ed Bryant] Amylin Analog (Pramlintide) Studies Reveal Better Glycemic Control by Ed Bryant ********** From the Editor: The following article first appeared in Voice of the Diabetic, Volume 14, No. 2, April 1999, published quarterly by the NFB's Diabetes Action Network. Ed Bryant edits the publication and serves as President of the Diabetes Action Network. ********** For decades diabetes researchers thought the achievement of euglycemia (normal, stable blood sugars) was a balancing act between two hormones, pancreatic insulin and glucagon. All diabetes medications either stimulated, replaced, or augmented the action of one of these two. Such medications work, but people who use insulin know good control can be difficult, no matter how diligently the diabetic works at it. The blood sugars always seem to fluctuate, and the tightest control is never quite as good as that achieved by a healthy pancreas. There has always seemed to be a third element, another part of the puzzle, one we weren't getting.
We may now have the missing piece. Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a San Diego, California, company, has been researching the human hormone amylin, and their findings, while interim and incomplete, are fascinating.
About 100 years ago, researchers discovered white clumps of a substance in the pancreas while performing autopsies. They called it "amyloid," and no extensive research was done at that time. In 1987 Garth Cooper, Ph.D. a New Zealand researcher working in the U.K., and his co- workers published a paper describing the peptide he had sequenced from amyloid. This peptide was subsequently named "amylin."
The hormone amylin, like insulin, is produced in the beta cells of the pancreas. The two are co-secreted. A type 1 diabetic, deficient in insulin, is equally deficient in amylin. A type 2 diabetic may exhibit a lesser amylin deficit. The question: What is the role of amylin in blood glucose management?
Amylin Pharmaceuticals has completed thirty-seven clinical trials and is currently conducting phase 3 studies of its synthetic amylin analog, pramlintide, in the United States. Some studies were short and involved only a few people. Others lasted several years, and hundreds took part. Here's some of what they've found: ********** * Researchers believe that a deficiency of amylin contributes to excessive post-meal glucose elevation. Amylin appears to have a moderating effect on glucose absorption from the gut into the blood. It acts as a set of brakes, slowing and managing meal-derived glucose inflow and controlling pancreatic glucagon secretion, which in turn regulates hepatic (liver) glucose production. It also suppresses after-meal release of glucose from the liver. Both of these activities serve to smooth the peaks and valleys of blood sugar fluctuation and improve overall glycemic control.
* In studies where Hemoglobin A1c test results were compared between those who used both insulin and pramlintide and those who used insulin only, the A1c results of those who used the injectable amylin analog were significantly lower than those who did not. Major studies, such as the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial and the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study, have established the relationship between lower A1c results (for all diabetics) and a reduced risk of diabetes complications: kidney disease, blindness, neuropathy, and coronary artery disease.
* The clinical trials showed that many overweight diabetics who received pramlintide lost weight, while most lean diabetics, given the same medications, did not lose weight. Although the mechanism at work here is not yet clear, these results are exciting since achieving and maintaining ideal weight contributes to good health, a sense of well-being, and for some a reduction in the amount of insulin needed to maintain good control.
* Many diabetics have episodes of severe hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar). If the diabetes is being kept under tight control by multiple tests and multiple insulin injections, the individual is more likely to experience hypoglycemia. Weight gain can follow as well. Studies in animals have shown that pramlintide, which normally retards release of the liver's glucose stores, suspends its action in the presence of hypoglycemia. This suggests that pramlintide helps lower the blood glucose without increasing the risk of hypoglycemia. Some test data appear to show a reduction in hypoglycemic episodes for the duration of amylin therapy.
* Although there are insufficient data to allow conclusions, test results from several phase 2 and phase 3 studies suggested that pramlintide use could lead to improvement in a diabetic's LDL/HDL cholesterol ratios. The company has stated that its test methodology was not clear enough to allow specific conclusions to be drawn, so this needs more investigation. But if borne out by further tests, it could suggest pramlintide might reduce the coronary artery disease that so often follows diabetes.
* Davida Kruger's paper, "Amylin: The Clinical Impact of Restoring Both Beta Cell Hormones Insulin and Amylin," states: "Amylin controls the rate of glucose inflow into the bloodstream by restraining the rate of gastric emptying and suppressing glucagon secretion, which in turn suppresses post-prandial glucose production." Simply, pramlintide appears to slow gastric emptying, which would more closely mimic the way our system is supposed to work, certainly helping to stabilize glycemic control. Some diabetics have gastroparesis, delayed gastric emptying. Although the effect of pramlintide in the presence of this complication has not yet been studied, the company plans to do so before the drug is marketed. ********** Because natural amylin is too viscous to inject, Amylin Pharmaceuticals developed its synthetic analog, pramlintide, which is injected subcutaneously using an insulin syringe. Although the use of an insulin/amylin mix was not tested in this round of clinicals and test participants were specifically instructed not to mix their insulin with their pramlintide, the company did carry out a safety check, and it found no acute (or short-term) hazard would be created if such mixing did occur (both Humulin and Novolin insulins were tested, though quick- acting Humalog insulin was excluded from study at that time). Still the company has no plans at this time to offer a mixed insulin/amylin product when it first markets pramlintide.
Test volunteers, unable to mix their pramlintide with their insulin, were faced with the need for many more injections. Almost none of them dropped out of the study, and the consensus was that they perceived the benefits to outweigh the irritation of the extra injections. A few study participants were insulin pump users. Use of pramlintide in conjunction with the insulin pump may become possible.
Amylin Pharmaceuticals has been testing this product for years and is currently engaged in phase 3 clinicals in several locations. As of March, 1999, over 1,700 people have received the drug. Both type 1 and insulin-using type 2 diabetics received pramlintide in different concentrations and frequencies. Only among type 1 diabetics receiving the highest dosage were there any noticeable side effects--in this case nausea and an increase in hypoglycemic events. All other dosage and frequency levels featured no increase in side effects (except transient nausea) over that seen with placebos, and in most cases there were significant reductions in hemoglobin A1c numbers--the kind of result known to cut risk of complications.
"Research shows that aggressive treatment...will prevent or delay much of the illness and death," says Dr. Phillip Gorden, Director of the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) in a June 23, 1998, news release. "Scientific studies provide compelling evidence that maintaining blood sugar levels at less than 7 percent, as measured by the HbA1c blood test, may reduce risk of complications by 50 percent to 80 percent," says Dr. Frank Vinicor, director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation, quoted in the same document.
The process of winning approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a new medication and permission to market it to consumers is long, expensive, and complex. To win approval, a company must prove, not only that its product works and doesn't imperil the safety of its users, but that its results are regular, consistent, and predictable. Unexpected results, surprise findings, or blind alleys can delay or prevent FDA approval. Before permission to market is granted, all such questions must be answered.
Amylin Pharmaceuticals has reported some unexpected results. Two six-month European/Canadian studies yielded, for the highest dosages, less than the hypothesized drug effect, thus failing the exam. (Other dosages showed positive effects.) The company must now reexamine its testing strategy in light of the new findings. As a recent news release stated: "The company plans to reassess its regulatory timelines for pramlintide...." It is hoped FDA filing requirements will be completed by the middle of year 2000.
Much work is still underway to determine amylin's exact role in helping to treat diabetes. If pramlintide can be successfully retested, if the company can answer the questions its high- dosage results exposed, if it can locate sufficient funding to weather the storm, we may see approval by the FDA. If not, it will go into the books as one more idea that didn't quite make it. For the sake of all diabetics, I hope we see this one happen.
For further information visit Amylin Pharmaceuticals' Web site: <http://www.amylin.com>.
See American Association of Diabetes Educators conference tapes for 1998 (AADE 25th Annual Meeting and Educational Program) #S23, "Amylin, the Other Beta Cell Hormone," by Davida Kruger, MSN, RN CS, CDE, and Patricia Gatcomb, BSN, RN, CDE, and #T15, "Amylin, the Clinical Impact of Restoring Both Beta Cell Hormones, Insulin and Amylin," by Davida Kruger. Get these tapes and others from the 1998 AADE meeting by calling Landes Slezak Group at (800) 776-5454. Tapes cost $11 each. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Vicky Chapman] From Discrimination to a Dream Come True by Vicky Chapman ********** From the Editor: The following article first appeared in the Spring, 1999, edition of the NFB Vigilant, a publication of the NFB of Virginia. ********** A timid seven-year-old slowly walked into a small dance studio which appeared very large to the little girl. The child was in awe at how large the room was, and she wondered who the other little girl was who faced her and copied all her movements. She could see shapes, figures, and colors. She could not see faces or recognize expressions. Watching the dance instructor, the little girl tried to mimic her steps. Realizing that the child wasn't following her movements, the teacher provided oral instructions to guide the child's feet through the shuffle- toe-heel dance steps.
After three years of tap dancing classes, the little girl recognized her love for music and asked her parents if she could take piano lessons. She had seen Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals put on by the local high school and had dreams of singing and dancing on stage. Musical training was a must for performing in musicals. Although her parents realized the extent of her blindness, they did not want it to discourage their daughter from doing what she wanted to do. They bought a piano; then they began an extensive search for a piano teacher. The search became a drudgery after three piano teachers refused to instruct the little girl. The mother finally took the child to one of the best piano teachers in the small town of Hartsville. Miss Salleby, the piano teacher, asked the child to sit on the bench in front of the piano. The room was dark, and a small light shone over the sheet music.
Fearful of the dark room, the child slowly walked over to the piano bench, sat down, and faced the sheet music. Miss Salleby asked the child how many lines and spaces were in one row. Leaning over the piano keys, with her nose touching the sheet music, the child attempted to count the lines and spaces. Immediately, before the child could announce her findings, the teacher turned to the child's mother and announced, "I can't teach a blind child how to play the piano."
The child wanted to scream, "I am not blind. Just give me a chance to learn how to play by ear." Without knowing how she got out of the woman's house, the child was in her mother's car riding home. There was a big lump in her throat, and the child wanted to cry. She wanted to be held in her mother's arms and be comforted. She wanted to know that she would be given another chance for her dream to come true.
That event was never again mentioned in front of the child, and the word "blind" was never again used in front of her until she reached college. The child would not touch the piano when her parents were home. She would sneak into the living room and teach herself hymns, first playing the melody line and then trying to play the chords with her left hand. If a member of the family caught her trying to play, she would shut the piano lid and go to her room.
Looking back through the images of my childhood memories, I still find myself a bit tearful. There are so many types of discrimination in this world, but I do believe that denying a child the opportunity to learn and expand on her talents is a travesty. "Where there is a will, there is a way," is a true statement that applies to my life.
Considering the stumbling blocks I have encountered with my music avocation, it is hard to believe that I am a part of the Roanoke Opera Chorus. Throughout my high school and college careers, I participated in the concert chorus. Listening and reviewing recordings from rehearsals was the way I memorized music. Instructors discouraged me from trying out for musical roles from a fear that I would have difficulty moving around on stage.
While in college I attempted a degree in music therapy. I was not allowed to use a reader for theory classes, and the instructor refused to read aloud what he had written on the board. Although I was passing my music therapy classes, I found myself exhausted from fighting with instructors and trying to obtain the assistance I needed in order to learn. I was taking voice and piano instruction, and the piano teacher would enlarge my music. Finally, when a theory instructor assigned a fugue to be analyzed using a graph, the difficulty I would have completing the assignment on my own became obvious. When confronting the instructor with my dilemma, he immediately informed me that the task had to be completed independently, with no assistance. The instructor clearly stated that if the assignment could not be completed on my own, I had no business in a music program. I dropped out of the program and completed my degree in early childhood education.
For several years I tried to run away from music. After completing my bachelor's degree, the prospect of facing the world of work haunted me. Denial of my blindness resulted in fear about how to perform the duties of a job.
Realizing my problem, my best friend encouraged me to move to Nebraska to attend the Nebraska Center for the Visually Impaired. Taking on the challenge, I attended the Nebraska Rehabilitation Center. I wore sleep shades from eight to five, five days a week; and I was told that I must use, not just take, the long white cane everywhere I went during training. One of the most difficult tasks for me was facing my fear of blindness. I had to talk about my fears, frustrations, and dreams. One of the instructors constantly reminded me that I should be on stage singing and acting. Performing was difficult for me to approach because I was convinced this was a dream that would never come true. Through the excellent training I received at the Nebraska Orientation Center, I gained confidence and belief in my abilities as a blind person. I was no longer ashamed of my blindness. It was time for me to apply the skills I had learned to my life.
Professionally, my life blossomed in the field of rehabilitation. As a recipient of various grants and scholarships I was able to earn a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling from Michigan State University. I tried continually to move away from music but was constantly encouraged by friends to sing in various church choirs. My dream continued to haunt me, and I found it difficult to hold my tears back when attending a performance. It wasn't fair; I wanted to be one of the performers on stage. Testing the waters, I slowly began participating in church choirs and even sang one semester with the Michigan State concert choir. That vessel that had been empty for so long finally started to be filled.
After moving to Anchorage, Alaska, I joined the community chorus, one hundred and sixty voices strong. Despite being the type of person who is neither religious nor superstitious, I have to admit that I do believe that an angel came into my life by the name of Kathy. Kathy lived in my neighborhood and gave me rides home from choral rehearsal. After hearing me sing, Kathy encouraged and nudged me to become more active in music. The Anchorage Community Theater was having a call for people to try out for The Sound of Music. Kathy talked to the director and had a couple of pages enlarged that I would have to read for tryout. Naturally, I memorized the two pages, prepared a song, held my breath, and showed up for tryouts. To my surprise, I was offered and accepted the role of Sister Sophia. Interesting note: when I was a little girl, my grandmother would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Smiling and very serious, I would reply, a nun. The director was not concerned about my blindness but was concerned that I would be off crutches by the time of the performances. While I had been skiing, an unfortunate accident had left me with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
One could say that my dream came true. After the completion of the musical, the chorus director of the Anchorage Opera Company encouraged me to try out for a part in the chorus. Again, mustering up my courage, I dusted off some old voice instructional books and auditioned. Now, looking back, it is hard to decide which was most difficult: auditioning in front of a New York director or performing on a sloped stage which was very slippery. La Traviata was my first opera. I never dreamed of being dressed in such elegant costumes and performing on such a grand stage.
When I moved to Roanoke, Virginia, finally I knew in which community activities I wanted to participate. Within my first month of moving to the Star City I auditioned for the Roanoke Symphony Chorus. Seven months later I was standing in a gym at the Jefferson Center auditioning for a part with the Roanoke Opera Chorus. Again I was shaking as I walked toward the piano, proudly using my cane. I turned and faced the director, Craig Fields, and nodded to my accompanist to begin. When I had sung the last note, I waited anxiously for a response. It felt as if I were waiting an eternity. Finally I mustered the courage to inquire about Mr. Field's opinion of my audition. To my relief the director informed me that I was in the chorus. My heart soared, and immediately I realized that Mr. Fields had not asked me any questions concerning how I would learn my music or move around on stage. Again curiosity got the better of me, and I asked Mr. Fields if he had any questions about my blindness. His response was "no." To my relief, Craig informed me that he had worked with several blind people over the years as a vocal instructor and choral director.
As of now I have performed in four operas with the Roanoke Opera. The chorus members are like a small family. We work together to help each other learn parts, act, and move around on stage. My fellow chorus members know that I will ask for help when I need it and are more than willing to assist me. Craig has indicated that he is amazed at the way I move around on stage. I have to admit that I have failed to tell him how many times I have run into props back stage. Seriously, my tenacity on stage comes from my desire and belief in myself and Craig's belief in my abilities. Yes, there are times when I am afraid that I may miss a movement or a musical cue, or sing the wrong note. These are fears that any actor has and mistakes that any actor can make.
I may never be on Broadway, but that doesn't matter. Remember that my dream was to be on stage and perform. That dream has come true. It has been a struggle, but hopefully one that will pave the way for others who are blind. Everywhere we go we are setting examples that others can observe, learn from, and follow. When we are willing to follow our dreams, discrimination can result in a dream come true. ********** ********** Huge Surplus Amassed by Guide Dog Charity Critics Say Group Sitting On Too Much Wealth by David Dietz ********** From the Editor, The following article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, May 12, 1999. No matter how effective and beloved a charity is, one is forced to ask hard questions when its income completely outstrips its expenses. The following story certainly raises such questions about Guide Dogs for the Blind. Here it is: ********** While many charities struggle to stay afloat, San Rafael's venerable Guide Dogs for the Blind never had it so good. The school, North America's leading facility for teaming the visually impaired with dog guides, has accumulated so much unspent money that critics say the operation is abusing its tax-exempt status while shortchanging the blind.
To the chagrin of state charity regulators and some benefactors and former students, the school wound up last year with more than twice as much money as it needed. It spent $21 million but still had nearly $24 million left over--at least the fifth consecutive year of hefty surpluses.
With the extra cash year after year, Guide Dogs has amassed a bulging endowment that now totals about $200 million, far surpassing those of many of the Bay Area's top charities. The renowned Haight-Ashbury Free Clinics, for example, does not even have an endowment, while the fund at San Francisco's Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, another major benefactor of the inner-city needy, totals only $16.7 million.
While Guide Dogs' wealth-building breaks no laws, regulators and organizations that monitor charities dislike heavy stockpiling of cash. The National Charities Information Bureau, which sets standards for giving, advises donors to be wary of organizations that generally hold in reserve more than two years' spending. Guide Dogs has set aside an amount of money that would cover its operations for about ten years.
"The point is that you shouldn't be accumulating money . . . if you're not going to spend it," said bureau spokesman Dan Langan. School officials defend the organization's riches, saying they are trying to perpetuate the operation and need to hedge against investment losses that would harm the endowment. They also forecast that the number of students will grow as the general population ages.
"This is acting as prudent managers," said Richard Graffis, an investment adviser who chairs Guide Dogs' board of directors.
But some critics say that the school, which was formed to help blinded servicemen during World War II, is run these days more like a business than a benevolent, nonprofit organization and that it seems more intent on enriching itself than trying to determine what more it can do to help the blind.
"Hoarding doesn't do anybody any good," said Yeoryios Apallas, a deputy attorney general in the state Department of Justice's charitable trust division. "Given the incredible needs of the sight-challenged, I cannot believe that these funds cannot be used more effectively."
The size of Guide Dogs' endowment is all the more startling, critics say, because last year the school graduated only 354 students and did not fill all its classes. It also must compete with nine other such schools for a relatively small number of students.
According to the American Federation for the Blind [no one at the National Center talked to the reporter, so who knows where these statistics actually came from], the nation's blind population of 1.1 million is growing only slightly, and fewer than 10,000 use dogs. Far more-- about 130,000--use canes, according to the federation.
While California law puts no limits on nonprofit organizations reserving funds, state regulators operate by the standard that charities exist to give away money, not to save it. Occasionally officials will put pressure on organizations they consider to be violating a public trust. With Guide Dogs state regulators raised the enrichment issue once before, in a 1994 letter. But school officials said they have no knowledge of the state's concern and no action was ever taken.
Particularly upsetting to some critics is that despite the size of its endowment Guide Dogs continues to solicit public contributions energetically. The school, popular with donors since its founding in 1942, took in $16 million in bequests and donations last year--a rate of $44,000 a day.
No one quarrels with Guide Dogs' achievements, which have been captured in stories many times. Started in a rented house in 1942, the school, now headquartered at an immaculate eleven-acre campus spotted with willows and Japanese maples, has developed a devoted following among former students and donors.
It has trained 8,000 blind people in the use of yellow Labrador retrievers and other breeds--free of charge--then continued to support its graduates, affording them free counseling and even paying some of their veterinary expenses.
And the public has responded enthusiastically, giving twice as much in 1998 to Guide Dogs as the next-largest training school received. Many contributors are spurred by the sight of the school's alert and well-groomed dogs being trained on streets surrounding the organization's campuses in San Rafael and outside Portland, Oregon.
One of Guide Dogs' strongest defenders is Morgan Watkins, associate director of academic computing at the University of Texas at Austin, who attended the school and now serves on its board.
"As I sit here and rest my hand on my golden retriever and reflect on the many times I've been on campus, I think I can say that the services we provide are excellent," he said. "Are there ways to improve? There are always ways, and we are trying to do that with constant review."
Critics, however, complain that by soliciting donations at a time when Guide Dogs is already earning more money than it can use, the school is misleading the public and diverting charitable donations from needier causes.
"It would seem to me that anybody who has more than enough revenue from an endowment to run its operation should not be out there fund-raising," said Ed Eames, a blind Fresno author and co-writer with his wife, Toni, of a book on dog guide schools. "When do you let other guys get in and get part of the pot?" Besides, some researchers say the number of people with visual impairments may not necessarily grow as the population gets older.
Medical advances in areas such as cataract surgery and treatment of diabetes, a leading cause of blindness, could reduce visual handicaps. And even if the blind population does increase, the proportion of the sight-impaired who are drawn to the idea of using dogs will not necessarily rise, especially with increasing self-sufficiency generated by the computer age, observers say.
"The fact is we don't really know what's going on," said Emilie Schmeidler, senior research associate with the American Foundation for the Blind.
Guide Dogs said it has no evidence to back up its growth prediction and is primarily banking on trends. The school has begun research to get better answers, officials there said.
While sympathetic to the charity's desire to save money for a rainy day, critics implore the school to attend more to the current needs of the blind, even if it means altering the charity's charter to branch out beyond dog guide training.
"The future for a charity is today--to take care of the needs of their constituents," said Apallas, the state charity regulator. "All they need is to be a little more creative."
Even Vernon Crowder, a blind Bank of America agricultural economist who is an unwavering supporter of the school's work, suggested that the organization is squandering opportunities to increase the mobility of its students and the sight-impaired in general.
Crowder, who once lost out in a bid to become Guide Dogs' chief executive, said the school should consider providing basic mobility training for the newly blind, even if they do not choose to use dogs.
He also suggested that the school put its weight behind research and development efforts to improve mobility, particularly in adapting electronic signs so that they can transmit orientation signals to the visually impaired.
"This is a natural extension of what Guide Dogs is doing," he said.
But Richard Bobb, Guide Dog's president and chief executive officer, rejected any likelihood in the foreseeable future that the school would branch out, arguing that the organization has more than enough on its hands to train dogs and pair them with students.
"Our mission is relevant," he said. Apallas said the state has no authority to force Guide Dogs to spend more of its resources, but it could raise its concerns with school officials. Regulators cited the wealth issue in their 1994 letter, but there was no apparent follow-up.
"Excess revenue accumulated during the year seems high," Larry Campbell, registrar of charitable trusts, wrote to the school at the time. "Determine if more excess income can be used to provide more current public benefits."
There was no response from Guide Dogs on file with the Justice Department, and current school officials said they were unaware of the state's inquiry.
In any event the letter has had no apparent effect on Guide Dogs, which has continued to accumulate surpluses.
As the school's wealth has soared, some of Guide Dogs' critics include longtime donors who are now having second thoughts about helping the organization.
"I knew they had an endowment, but I didn't know it was to this degree," said Carol Spivak, a self-described dog lover who has given generously to the school since 1988. "I think I'll reduce what I give."
Controversy is not new to Guide Dogs. It was criticized several years ago for being slow to put blind people on its staff and board of directors and for treating some blind staff members dismissively. It rejects the accusations.
Currently five of the school's 235-member staff and four of its eighteen directors are blind. There are no blind people in top management.
The school also was caught in a 1994 imbroglio over construction of its $14 million Oregon campus. Critics accused Guide Dogs of heavy-handedness in winning local government approval of the project, and the school, despite its wealth, persuaded the state of Oregon to help provide it with a low-interest building loan from a bank.
The Guide Dogs' endowment has benefited from the longest stock market boom in history. Typically the organization taps only endowment dividends for present needs, plowing back all capital gains or surpluses.
Last year Guide Dogs spent about $5 million of its $28 million in endowment proceeds on operations. To use trading profits for continuing needs would be imprudent, school officials argue.
The school pays most of its expenses with public contributions, which have risen 52 percent in five years, according to financial statements submitted by the organization to the Internal Revenue Service. Eighty percent of the donations to the organization come from bequests.
Just as revenue is up, spending has increased--particularly on overhead.
With the opening of the Oregon campus the staff has nearly doubled, and management costs have jumped 185 percent in the past five years. Three of Guide Dogs' top managers earn more than $100,000 a year, and Bobb received a 14 percent raise last year, bringing his annual salary to $200,000.
Fund-raising costs have also increased, even as the endowment ballooned. The school spent $796,171 on development last year, up 10 percent, in line with a campaign to increase donations. The $16 million in combined bequests and donations received last year was up about 30 percent from 1997.
"Part of the reason I was brought here is to keep the bar high," said Bobb, a former leasing company executive.
Some of Guide Dogs' competitors yearn to have it so good.
"We obviously wish we could have that budget," said Don Robinson, executive director of Guide Dogs of the Desert, a small, innovative Palm Springs-area school that strains each year to meet a spending program of just under $1 million. "It's a struggle. It's nonstop."
As Guide Dogs' wealth is scrutinized, critics note that England's largest dog guide school was under similar fire four years ago, resulting in the British government's drawing up strict rules forbidding cash stockpiling by charities while asking the public for money.
Robert Gnaizda, a San Francisco public interest lawyer who has sued rich charities, holds the view that organizations like Guide Dogs should be subject to periodic state review to determine whether they are fulfilling their mission and enjoying community support.
"The state would have much greater authority to look into expenses and might take into account if charities hoarded," Gnaizda said. "This would be a check against the wealthy getting wealthier." ********** CHART A CHARITY'S OVERFLOWING COFFERS Guide Dogs for the Blind is one of the Bay Area's leading charities. Critics say it is too rich and accuse the school of operating more like a business. ********** CONTRIBUTIONS [in millions] Donations are growing '94 $10 '95 $13 '96 $19 '97 $12 '98 $16
EXPENSES Annual expenses [in millions] have doubled '94 $10 '95 $12 '96 $16 '97 $19 '98 $21 ********** SURPLUSES Unspent money [in millions] soars '94 $11 '95 $14 '96 $11 '97 $21 '98 $24 ********** ENDOWMENT In millions of dollars '94 $80 '95 $91 '96 $104 '97 $160 '98 $189 ********** Endowment currently totals about $200 million Figures have been rounded ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Toni and Ed Eames] To Touch the Untouchable Dream by Toni and Ed Eames ********** From the Editor: The following article is the title story from the latest Kernel Book, which was published late last year. It begins with Dr. Jernigan's introduction ********** Toni and Ed Eames are active members of the National Federation of the Blind and long-time leaders in our special interest division for guide dog users. They are recognized experts in the whole area of assistance dogs for the disabled and write a regular column for Dog World. Recently their lifelong interest in animals took them on a very special expedition to the African bush. Here is their story: ********** As we crashed through the bush in an open Land Rover, we could hear ranger John's radio receiver crackling the news that a pride of lions had been sighted fairly close to our position. Slowing the vehicle to a crawl, John warned us to be quiet. Suddenly we heard a shared exclamation from the other members of our party--the lions had been spotted, and we came to a halt.
The dreamlike quality of this encounter with wild animals in the African bush was reinforced as members of our delegation described the scene in barely audible whispers. Everyone seemed to hold his or her breath as an adult female lion sauntered alongside our vehicle and crossed the road in front of us. At one point she was no more than eight feet away.
This encounter with lions was just one of many memorable experiences we had during our two-day visit at Exeter Game Lodge in South Africa. While crashing through the bush, "bundu bashing" as the locals call it, we came almost in touching distance of leopards, zebras, giraffes, elephants, and hundreds of impala (small deer on the bottom of the feeding chain).
What gave these adventures a dreamlike quality was the inability to touch or hear these animals. Except for the time when Ed climbed down from the Land Rover to feel the footprint left by a lion who had recently strolled by, the reality of the situation was filtered through the descriptions of our sighted friends.
Fortunately we were able to obtain a tactile impression of many of these animals. The rangers working for Exeter, a wild game lodge on the outskirts of Kreuger National Park, the largest reserve in South Africa, had collected the skulls of many of the animals inhabiting the area. Examining the skulls, jaw bones, horns, and antlers of the many varieties of deer who roamed the open, unfenced area around Exeter, neighboring game reserves, and Kreuger helped turn our dreamlike Land Rover trips into a more realistic image of what these animals were like. On display in the lounge area was a taxidermed lion pouncing on an impala, which showed us what raw and savage nature was all about.
Both of us grew up in New York City, where animals such as those roaming the South African bush were only found in zoos. Love of animals was a central theme in Toni's childhood. As a young blind child she went with her mother on frequent outings to the Bronx Zoo, but her mother could not adequately describe the variety of animals on display. Always anxious to encourage her blind daughter to explore the world around her, Toni's mother encouraged touching objects in the environment. Since lions, tigers, and bears were not accessible to touch, she began purchasing realistic ceramic, wood, glass, plastic, and brass miniatures to teach Toni about the structural differences among various animal species.
Over the years this collection has grown and expanded, and Toni has become expert at identifying animal statuary by touch. On the other hand Ed, who was sighted until his early forties, visited zoos and received his animal information through visual images.
One of the attractions of Fresno, California, the city to which we moved after our marriage ten years ago, was the presence of a wonderful zoo with an understanding director. Dr. Paul Chaffee was fascinated with the idea of transforming Toni's knowledge of animals through statuary into knowledge from real-life experience. He invited us to visit behind the scenes to get in touch with many of the animals in the zoo.
Over the years we have been able to touch elephants, Galapagos tortoises, spider monkeys, a skunk, an oryx, a ferret, and a variety of birds. Some of these animals were part of the zoo mobile, some were being cared for in the nursery, and some were on display. Being able to feed apples to Chauncey and Nosey in the elephant holding area was a thrill, although Ed was a bit apprehensive one day when Chauncey wrapped her trunk around him with the message that it wasn't time for Ed to leave. Paul relished our obvious pleasure and excitement at these encounters with his exhibit animals.
Realizing that our passion for animal interaction went far beyond what was available in Fresno, Paul arranged with directors at zoos located in San Diego, the Bronx, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., for us to come and get in touch with animals in their collections. Among our acquaintances from these visits were a sea lion, an emu, a clouded leopard, a chinchilla, a kinkajou, an octopus, an armadillo, snakes, lizards, and some insects.
At our National Federation of the Blind conventions we have explored the horns and skins of taxidermed animals presented by the Safari Club. This has been supplemented by exploring a stuffed buffalo on display in a South Dakota museum and a lion on display at the Theodore Roosevelt Museum in New York. In all these cases the animals were touchable and full size.
The hunt for touchable animals is enhanced by our careers as writers and lecturers. As columnists for Dog World magazine, lecturers at veterinary schools, and writers about disability and animal-related subjects, we travel extensively. During our travels we take every opportunity to visit zoos and museums with touchable animal exhibits.
When we received an invitation to be part of the cultural exchange delegation sponsored by People to People International Citizen Ambassador Program to South Africa, we jumped at the opportunity. Not only would it give us the chance to enhance our careers as writers, educators, and lecturers, it would also take us to Exeter, a charming and luxurious private game preserve.
After months of planning, our South African odyssey became a reality. Our two-day stay at elegant and lavish Exeter, a haven for animal lovers, exceeded all our expectations. Even after we returned to the lodge following the Land Rover expeditions, the presence of untamed and free-roaming animals was an ever-present reality. Monkeys inhabited trees near the veranda during the morning hours hoping to swoop down on some unprotected food.
At dawn and dusk a hippopotamus drank at the river skirting the compound. While sitting at the edge of the pool, a member of our group was startled when a snake slithered up his body and onto his back. It was apparent that just outside Exeter Lodge was a world as far removed from our childhood homes in New York City as one could imagine.
When we share photographs of this dreamlike trip with friends back home in Fresno, they ask where Escort and Echo were during our adventure. We explain that, although our guide dogs have accompanied us to many American zoos, their presence in the African bush was quite another story. While we were having our untouchable dream, they were quietly awaiting our return at the lodge. Although the wild animals in the preserve are used to Land Rovers filled with people, they are not exposed to dogs, and we agreed with our host at Exeter, Leon, that it would be a good idea to let them relax back in our room.
The sighted members of the delegation have photographs and videos to keep their memories alive. To make our memory of this untouchable dream tactile, we brought home many new wild animal miniatures. The next time we visit the elephants in our Fresno zoo, we can tell them we saw their relatives in South Africa. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Daniel Frye] Lessons Brought to Light by Daniel B. Frye ********** From the Editor: Before walking into a new situation, it isn't unusual for blind people to indulge in fantasies about how things will go. Frequently in the daydream it is our competence, poise, and articulate handling of awkward situations that transform the silly notions of strangers into rational behavior. Unfortunately the real world is seldom as neat or satisfying as fantasy, and we are much more likely to think of the perfect response long after the offending person has wandered off.
We have no choice but to deal with ignorance and prejudice that don't go away just because we are doing things right. The following recollection describes one such experience. Dan Frye was a 1990 NFB Scholarship winner and is now an attorney and NFB leader in Washington State. Here is his story: ********** During the summer of 1988 I got a job as a Senior Counselor at Camp Merry Heart, an Easter-Seal-sponsored challenge and recreational retreat for physically disabled people--in the rural outskirts of Hackettstown, New Jersey. Hoping to enhance my resume by successfully working a summer job and with an earnest interest in testing my Federation philosophy, which until that time was primarily a set of theoretical principles, I left the comfortable familiarity of college life in South Carolina, boarded a northbound Greyhound, and set out on a summer adventure which promised to be exciting and instructive.
In an effort to make a good first impression, I called the camp supervisor from the Greenville, South Carolina, bus station and politely declined her offer to have a camp representative pick me up at the Port Authority in New York City. I explained that I was confident of my ability to make the necessary transfer to the commuter bus which would take me directly to Hackettstown. She reluctantly resigned herself to the travel arrangements I--her new twenty-year-old blind summer employee--proposed, and we agreed to meet the next morning for staff orientation.
While alone in the darkness of night on a sixteen-hour bus journey which would transport me from the tranquil South to the teeming North, I had ample opportunity to entertain a range of feelings from eagerness to apprehension. Based on the Camp Merry Heart literature, which I had read before accepting the counselor position, I was certain that I would be participating in one of the nation's most progressive summer camping programs, in which residential disabled campers would spend the season with non-disabled day campers from the surrounding communities. This structure seemed likely to foster genuine public education and increased understanding among disabled and non-disabled people, a seemingly ideal prospect.
While my spirits were bolstered by the possibilities of the summer to come, I simultaneously felt the anxiety inherent in being a newly independent young adult traveling to an unfamiliar region of the country where I would assume the responsibilities of a vaguely defined summer position. I hoped that I could do the job well. I hoped that I would fit in and develop pleasant working relationships with my colleagues and the campers. And, most of all, I hoped that my blindness would not be used as a justification to bar me from completely fulfilling my obligations as a staff member or represent a barrier to my integrated entry into camp life. At some point in the wee hours of the morning I concluded that further analysis of my emotions would be fruitless, and I drifted off to sleep, only to be awakened by the announcement, "Arriving, New York City."
My transfer to the commuter bus was uneventful, and after settling in to the rustic, un-air- conditioned log cabin which would be my home for the next several months, I reported to the camp dining hall for staff orientation. I was encouraged by my initial reception from the other counselors (most of whom were also college students on summer vacation), but it became apparent immediately that the camp's management did not share my peers' faith in my ability to function as a capable staff member. Despite my certifications in CPR and Advanced Swimming by the American Red Cross, I was not permitted to participate in "Life Drills," a procedure which involved four staff members--tethered equidistantly to a rope stretched across the camp lake-- diving, exploring, and resurfacing together in search of a hypothetical accident victim. I protested that, in addition to being competent in swimming and first aid, I would face minimal safety risk because this operation was executed in teams of four, that we were all secured by a life rope, and that most of the underwater exploration was accomplished tactilely because of the lake's murkiness.
The management decision to forbid my service as a counselor in the integrated day camp, which catered to both disabled and non-disabled campers, resulted in a second restriction on my full conduct of camp responsibilities. The rationale offered for this policy was that vision was essential to the successful supervision of the more active camping population. These and other less blatant acts of discrimination became the norm throughout my summer employment at Camp Merry Heart.
I privately resolved to stick it out until my employment was scheduled to end in mid August. Frequently, however, my spirits wavered, and I was tempted to offer my premature resignation to demonstrate my disdain for the arbitrary distinctions made by Merry Heart management. Ultimately I decided that the image of blind people would be better served by my decision to stay with my employer, conducting the tasks assigned to me with efficiency and dignity while trying to educate and advocate for improvement of management's attitudes about blindness. I reasoned that, if I did my job well and used the art of diplomacy to enlighten camp leaders about my disability, I could acquit myself with distinction and preserve opportunities for any future blind candidate seeking employment with Camp Merry Heart.
As the days melted into weeks, I slowly settled into the established routine of camp life. Waking to Reveille at 6:00 a.m., I helped my campers prepare for the day ahead. I escorted them to flag-raising, accompanied them to breakfast, and returned with them to our quarters for morning cabin cleaning. By 8:30 a.m. we'd leave for camp exercises, field games, arts and crafts, swimming, and other traditional camping activities. Once during every week-long camp session, we'd conduct an overnight outdoor camping excursion complete with cooking over camp fires and sleeping under the stars.
Our evenings would usually conclude with an assembly of sorts, in which campers put on plays, participated in talent shows, or simply socialized with each other in the central dining hall. Lights went out at 10:00 p.m., and weary counselors on night call duty would quietly meet on the front porches of their cabins and talk about home, life at college, and personal dreams and generally spend time building friendships with one another.
It was those relaxing summer evenings, long after campers had retired, that I came to cherish most. In whispers so as not to disturb the campers, my friends and I would discuss the pros and cons of the Merry Heart experience. Invariably we would analyze my dissatisfaction, frustration, and exasperation with the regressive attitudes exhibited by Merry Heart leaders about my blindness. We agreed that it was unfortunate and ironic that such a flagrant lack of confidence in an independent blind person prevailed at a camp which prided itself in its belief in and support of "true achievement." Without my prodding, several of my acquaintances realized that the treatment I received at the hands of Merry Heart administrators was likely to send an especially discouraging message to the campers about the opportunities they could expect as disabled people from society.
By no means am I suggesting that all my co-workers immediately came to appreciate the significance of my objections to the condescending conduct of the Merry Heart management. Some of them came to this understanding only after several evenings of animated conversation in which we discussed the nature of independence, the cultural consequences of accepting unnecessary assistance or charity from the general public, and the proposition that blindness, in and of itself, is not an overwhelming tragedy but a human characteristic which, like other personal traits, consists of certain inherent limitations and inconveniences. By way of analogy, I suggested that blindness, like intellectual capacity or physical size, entails certain advantages and disadvantages to which we all have to adapt and adjust. Gradually some of my friends came to adopt my common-sense notions about blindness, and I derived enough comfort from this support to sustain my confidence and composure while dealing with the emotional assaults I encountered each work day.
Near the summer's end I told a few of my friends of my intention to use part of my salary to explore some of the quaint towns within a several-hundred-mile radius of Hackettstown. Preferring the allure of New York City's bright lights, everyone to whom I had extended an invitation to accompany me for this weekend declined my offer, so I made arrangements to travel alone.
Despite my educational efforts throughout the summer, a couple of my friends and a member of the camp's administration expressed some surprise and concern that I had not altered my plans once I learned that nobody else was joining me on my trip. They asked me how I thought I would manage without somebody around to orient me to my surroundings and whether it didn't make sense to identify a specific destination so that I could have some idea of what to expect. Realizing that changing ingrained notions about blindness is always a slow process, I patiently explained that with my cane and some cash I would be fine and that the absence of plans was largely what made the adventure attractive.
On a Friday afternoon after all the campers had bid their farewells and the facilities were shut down for another two-day respite, I got a ride in to Hackettstown, asked the ticket agent what the final destination of the New York City commuter bus was, and purchased a ticket to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Several hours later I was comfortably ensconced in a small hotel. Having ordered a pizza, I luxuriously stretched out across my king-size bed and contented myself watching former Texas Governor Ann Richards deliver a televised nomination speech for Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis at the 1988 Democratic national convention. Throughout the rest of the weekend I watched movies, swam, explored the town and its history, and found other amusements with which to occupy myself. In short, I had a great time.
During these days of recreational solitude, I had considerable opportunity to reflect upon the events of the summer. I smiled inwardly at the knowledge that I was growing up and that the philosophy about blindness to which I had always subscribed really seemed to work. Having determined to visit Wilkes-Barre on a whim, I found that I was managing well and that blindness was not much of an issue. Further, I concluded that I was actually quite satisfied with my successful performance in what could be fairly characterized as my first real job.
Even when I pondered the turbulent and bittersweet aspects of the summer's experience, I realized with pride that I had been equal to the challenge, and I noted with corresponding sobriety that as I matured it would be necessary for me to develop sophistication in effectively addressing social misunderstandings about blindness. While vacationing in Wilkes-Barre, I reaffirmed that the best way to accomplish this would be to play an active part in the National Federation of the Blind.
As this contemplative weekend drew to an end and I prepared to return to Camp Merry Heart to finish the last several weeks of my summer job, I decided that on the whole I was glad I had come. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Norman Gardner] Everyday Heroes Acts That Count by Taylor Syphus ********** From the Editor: This story first appeared in the January 12, 1999, edition of The Salt Lake Tribune. Dr. Gardner is a longtime leader of the National Federation of the Blind. ********** Norman Gardner could beat anyone at a game of blindman's buff. For more than thirty years after being born with an eye disorder that legally blinded him, he masqueraded as a person who could see. He bought into the most poisonous myth about blind people: that they are less capable.
"I was ashamed of being blind," he says. "I didn't want to be associated with those weird people who carried white canes and had to read Braille. So I played blindman's buff. I could see shadows well enough not to bump into things, and I could read large print if I was really close to the book."
He always carried a magnifying glass and made an art of hiding in men's rest rooms to review schedules and appointments. Academics was Gardner's strong suit. Perseverance made him valedictorian of his high school graduating class and earned him a bachelor's degree with honors in Spanish from Brigham Young University. He earned a doctorate of finance from the University of Utah in 1974 and went on to teach finance at Boise State University, where his life finally changed.
"I was tricked into joining the National Federation of the Blind," he recalls, laughing. "Two blind students asked me to be the Blind Club faculty advisor. I thought, `I'm not one of them. I have a Ph.D.; I'm a university professor.' I wanted nothing to do with a club that sat around and cried about being blind, but I went out of courtesy."
Instead of being bored to tears, he was intrigued by the discussion between the students and the director of the NFB's Boise chapter. "They were discussing things I wished I could do," Gardner recalls. He joined the NFB that night, on paper and in spirit.
"They knew me much better than I knew myself," he says, smiling. "I learned it was respectable to be blind."
He thrust himself into everything he had despised about blind people. He learned to use a white cane and read Braille. Gardner became active in the NFB's political agenda, educating Congress and the public about blind people's abilities and fighting for laws that would level the playing field for 500,000 blind Americans.
"Even though I hadn't realized it growing up, my life had been made a lot easier because of people in the NFB working for my benefit. Now I'm in the trenches and helping to pull the sled along."
Today Gardner is a professor of finance at Utah Valley State College and heavily involved with the local NFB chapter. He pays for Braille starter books for elementary-age blind students whose teachers otherwise hand-type learning materials on a Braille typewriter. He also recruits any blind person he meets to join the NFB.
"For thirty years I sold myself terribly short," he says. "But I was given a gift of self- confidence, and now it's my turn to help people find a way to do something they didn't believe they could." ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Congressman Robert Ehrlich addresses the crowd at the April 28 press conference. Behind him are (left to right) Eileen Rivera, Marc Maurer, and Fred Puente.] [PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Four people can clearly be seen with others in the background. The Capitol dome is conspicuously visible behind them. CAPTION: Standing in front of the Capitol at the press conference are (left to right) Kristen Cox, Charlie Brown, Eileen Rivera, and Joe Cordova.] Linkage Bill Introduced in House ********** From the Editor: On April 28 Congressman Robert Ehrlich, R- Maryland, introduced H.R. 1601, the Blind Empowerment Act, with 230 co-sponsors. He conducted a press conference in front of the Capitol to announce the details of the bill. Members of the NFB have been working steadily since 1996 to pass this legislation and continue to urge members of both the House and Senate to become co-sponsors. On April 28 the Baltimore Sun published the following story about the problems faced by blind Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients and Congressman Erhlich's efforts to solve them. Here it is: ********** Ehrlich Bill Would Raise Earning Limit for Blind Who Get Disability Benefits Advocates Suggest Link Between Cutoffs for Elderly, Visually Impaired by Jennifer Sullivan ********** Southwest Baltimore's Maurice Peret has a new baby and a new job. But at the beginning of the year the government stopped sending him a large chunk of his income. Peret, thirty-four, who is blind, is one of a growing number of visually impaired people who find themselves limited by a federal restriction on their earnings.
Because he took a job that paid more than the annual limit for Americans receiving Social Security disability benefits, he was dropped from federal rolls.
To raise blind Americans' earning threshold, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona introduced a bill in January that would put their earning limit at the same level set for senior citizens. That was the formula used until 1996, when Congress raised earning limits for the elderly but not the blind.
Today Maryland Republican Representative Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. will introduce a similar bill. Peret will be among those standing with the Congressman at a news conference to discuss the measure.
According to the National Federation of the Blind, blind Americans will earn about $14,000 in benefits by 2002--compared with about $30,000 for senior citizens. The 1999 earning limit for the blind is $1,110 a month, in addition to the federal stipend--making a penny more means loss of benefits.
"Unemployment among the blind is at 70 percent, while there is great prosperity in the country," said Ehrlich, who is introducing the Blind Empowerment Act, nearly identical to McCain's Blind Person's Earnings Equity Act.
He has the support of all of Maryland's representatives, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind, and Blind Services and Industries of Maryland. Both Democratic Maryland Senators, Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes, are among the twenty Senate members who co-sponsored McCain's bill.
Peret, a native of Washington, says he bounced from working on an assembly line in an Iowa vending machine factory to loading trucks to pressing shirts in a West Virginia garment factory. Mindful of the earnings limit, he held only part-time jobs so he could stay on the federal rolls and retain his disability benefits, he said.
"A lot of jobs I held weren't secure. I needed a fallback because of frequent layoffs," Peret said. "By working part-time and accepting part-time wages and retaining benefits, a person could earn a decent living, whereas working full-time might actually result in a cut in income."
In January, when Peret was hired to teach basic computer training courses at Blind Services and Industries Southwest Baltimore headquarters, he reported the income as required and was promptly dropped from federal rolls.
He now earns his highest wage ever, but he takes home less money than he did ten years ago when he worked in a garment factory while receiving federal benefits.
Peret says Ehrlich's bill will help the blind get on their feet.
"Blind people are really looking for a measure of equality. We want equal opportunities to work," he said. "Ideally people would want to be in a situation where they are no longer receiving benefits. We want to get to that point so we can get a fair start."
Although Peret says he makes enough for him, his wife, and their seven-week-old son to live on, he has blind friends who never apply for full-time positions because they take home more money retaining their federal disability status and working part time or earning minimum wage.
Northeast Baltimore resident Eileen Rivera is a graduate of Harvard University and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. But she said she needs extra funds to help raise her seven-year-old daughter and to get her business off the ground.
The company, A Better View, is an advertising agency that helps companies market their products to low-vision audiences.
Rivera, whose vision is severely impaired, also works as a marketing consultant for Voice of the Diabetic, a magazine for Americans with diabetes. She has to hire people to read business information to her and to help her daughter with her homework.
If she makes more than $13,320 a year, Rivera, a single mother with a family history of kidney failure, could lose her monthly stipend and health insurance.
"If I wasn't single, sure I would be working full time, just like I did when I was working at Johns Hopkins," said Rivera, who from 1988 to 1991 was administrative director of the hospital's Wilmer Vision Research Center. "But I can't be a super executive and a single mother at the same time."
Rivera said, "The bill is going to give us more freedom to earn more and cover the expenses of living."
Both Ehrlich and McCain supported similar measures last year. Ehrlich's died in the House Ways and Means Committee, while McCain's was killed by the Senate Finance Committee.
James Gashel, director of governmental affairs for the National Federation of the Blind, said that without the bill's passage, the visually impaired who earn more than allowed will be asked to repay the difference to the government.
"It's not uncommon to see letters that say, `You owe $30,000. Please send a check in the envelope enclosed,'" he said.
Peret said he received two letters from the federal government, one dropping his disability benefits and another requesting $1,000 he owed. He paid it.
Gashel, who has twice worked to link benefits for the blind and seniors, said the fact that there are fewer blind people may have made it easier for lawmakers to bypass the blind.
But, he maintained, they are just as dependent upon the income.
"If you have limitations on one group, you might as well have them on both," he said. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Don Drapinski] Admiration by Kathleen Lusk ********** From the Editor: Just about all people with disabilities find ourselves simultaneously admired and pitied by folks around us. It is refreshing when the admiration turns out to be unsentimental and objective. When such good sense and honesty come from a ten-year-old fifth-grader, one finds hope for the future kindling despite the nonsense we find ourselves plowing through much of the time. The following article was a paper written to fulfill a school assignment. Sue Drapinski, Treasurer of the NFB of Michigan, thought Braille Monitor readers might be interested in reading it; so do I. Here it is: ********** Admire: to regard with wonder and approval, to esteem, respect (from the American Heritage Dictionary).
There are many people you could admire in this world. From athletes to actors, firemen to police officers, they all work hard to do their jobs, and for different reasons people admire them. The person I admire does not have a job, but I learn more from him than any job can teach you. The person I admire is my Uncle Don, and as you read this story, you will understand why.
My Uncle Don had a regular childhood like anyone else. He ran and played with the rest of the kids. He liked to skate and play hockey as a teenager. Then something happened. His body didn't work as it should, and he started feeling weak. His doctor told him he had muscular dystrophy (M.D.).
M.D. slowly took away Uncle Don's ability to move around like he used to. He went from being able to walk to having to use a motorized cart (known as an Amigo), to being confined now to a wheelchair, unable to get out on his own or make the simple movements we all take for granted. M.D. has also cost him his vision, and he is now legally blind. He has had many operations and long hospital stays. His body has been so weakened that any disease may be life- threatening to him.
Some people would say this is a sad story, but they're wrong. My Uncle Don laughs, tells jokes, and loves CD's and audio books. He also loves good conversation and isn't afraid to say what he thinks. He is very outgoing and enjoys the company of others (especially me and my sisters and brother). He is married to my Aunt Sue, who takes good care of him. They are both involved with the National Federation of the Blind. They attend conventions all over the country. They also help others with similar challenges.
In conclusion, my Uncle Donald has shown me more strength and courage than anyone else I know. He's never cross with us kids, and we never hear him complain. He gives me a good example of how to deal with life and all the difficulties you run into. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Toby Longface] Sitting in a Corner? Not Me! by Tobias (Toby) Longface ********** From the Editor: Toby Longface is President of the Tucson Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona. ********** "Toby, you know, if you go blind, you will just have to spend your time sitting in a corner and doing nothing." This is what my best friend said to me a few years ago when I was rapidly losing my vision. Today I am sorry to say that I bought into that negative thinking myself until I met the wonderful people and ideas about blindness of the National Federation of the Blind.
It all started several years ago after I was struck by a drunk driver. I was driving home in my car after visiting a friend when a car came out of nowhere (traveling an estimated ninety- eight miles an hour) and crashed into me. As often happens in such cases, the drunk driver received only a scratch on his nose, but I was not so lucky. I received severe head injuries, and my car went off to the junk yard.
As a result of my head injuries I suffered considerable short-term memory loss, and my eyes also started their rapid deterioration. Medically there seemed to be nothing to do to stop this deterioration or to regain the vision I had already lost, so I began what was to be a long period of rehabilitation.
After a few years of floundering around, I told my best friend I was becoming blind, and he told me I'd have nothing to do but sit in a corner. At the time I thought I couldn't face the future with that kind of an outlook, so I tried to do the best I could to go on. My wife Madonna tried her very best to help me. She did everything she could to keep my spirits up and to give me confidence. It would have been impossible to face the future without her support. She gave me her all.
I had previously been a professional photographer and a silversmith, making my living with my eyes and my hands. I tried to keep up these activities using my limited remaining vision and whatever blind techniques I could devise on my own, but finally I got to the point where I could no longer do my work.
I went to a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital where surgery was attempted, but my vision only got worse. They finally said that my retinas were so badly damaged that they couldn't do anything else for me. They gave up the idea of any more surgery and sent me instead to the rehabilitation center for blinded veterans at the Tucson, Arizona, VA Hospital.
But in my mind I wasn't ready for that just yet since I still had a little vision. I wonder how many times other blind people have said, "I'm not blind; I can still see a little; so I don't need to go to a training center."
Well I was blind, and I might as well have accepted it. But my mind was just playing tricks on me, and I really thought my life was effectively over. Without understanding it, I had bought right into my friend's notion that I should just sit in a corner.
I gave up on life. I sold or gave away all the tools I had used to earn my living. I now know that this was a big mistake, but at the time I thought I was being perfectly reasonable. Of course I wasn't taking into account the fact that I knew nothing at all about blindness and what trained blind people can do and how they do it.
Then a wonderful thing happened to me! I was introduced to the National Federation of the Blind and its Kernel Books. The first Federationist I met was Karen Ortega, who was the President of the Tucson Chapter. We met shortly before the 1997 state convention of the NFB of Arizona was to be held--it was in Tucson that year.
Karen invited my wife and me to attend the convention. I told her I was sorry, but Madonna and I would be traveling to the Northwest to see our children at the very time the convention was to be held.
Karen said, "I'm sorry to hear that. You could learn a lot about blindness and also about yourself at the convention, but at least let me give you tapes of what we call our Kernel Books. These are easy-to-read stories about the way many of our members cope with their blindness every day and lead normal, happy, productive lives. I think they will help you a lot if you'll take the time to read them."
So I began to read and read and read. Wow! What a way to find out about the Federation, its people, and its ideas. What a way to begin to learn the truth about blindness and, therefore, about myself. To these writers being blind was just an inconvenience. Gee whiz, if I could learn to think like that, how great it would be!
Before long I called Karen to thank her for the books and also to tell her that I had changed my mind. After reading these little books, I could see new hope and a new chance for my life. I told her that Madonna and I had decided that she should travel to the Northwest to see our kids alone and that the best thing I could do was to get to that state convention.
I was overwhelmed at the convention, and it changed my life forever. I got to know Karen Ortega personally. I found out that, not only was she the President of the Tucson Chapter, but she was also a full-time wife and mother as well as a full-time college student. She had a very long white cane which enabled her to move swiftly and with ease--mine, given to me by the VA, was so short that it was not a useful tool at all but only an object which could be used to identify me as blind.
I made many new friends at that convention; and, as you might guess, I joined the organization that very first day. The role models I met have influenced my life forever, and I learned that thousands of blind people are doing just fine, living normal and productive lives every day.
So after the convention I began to live again too. First I decided to go back to my love of making jewelry, at least on a limited basis. I spend lots of time writing poetry, and I have already been fortunate enough to win an NFB poetry contest. I'm also writing a book--The Life and Times of Toby Longface.
I have learned to operate a talking computer--before this time I had never put much stock in fancy gadgets. Using my computer and Braille printer, I am starting a greeting card company, producing Braille and large-print cards exclusively for the blind or visually impaired. To do this I am using my own poetry and my own photography.
In addition to all of these activities, I plan to spend as much time as I can doing volunteer work for the National Federation of the Blind. In the fall of 1998 I was elected to serve as President of our Tucson Chapter. Also I have already had the chance to work on legislation to improve life for blind people both by working here in Arizona with our state legislature and by traveling to Washington, D.C., to work with our national Congress.
I guess I just can't say enough about the National Federation of the Blind and these little Kernel books! Remember, it was these little kernels of truth about blindness which first captured my attention and showed me in a very practical way that life can be good, whether or not you are blind. Do I sound prejudiced? I suppose I am.
I am deeply grateful to Dr. Kenneth Jernigan and all of the other leaders and members of the Federation for all they have done for me and for thousands of others just like me. If I had not been introduced to the Federation through these wonderful little books, I would probably be living out the life my best friend assumed I would have--sitting in a corner. All of you have truly helped me to see again. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Barbara Pierce takes a loaf of bread from the oven.] Baking Our Daily Bread by Barbara Pierce ********** From the Editor: The following article first appeared in To Touch the Untouchable Dream, the latest in the Kernel Book series of NFB paperbacks designed to educate the public about the abilities of blind people. It begins with Dr. Jernigan's introduction. Here it is: ********** As regular Kernel Book readers know, Barbara Pierce is the wife of a college professor and has raised three children. She serves as Editor of the Braille Monitor (the National Federation of the Blind's monthly magazine), works from a fully equipped home office--complete with computer, e-mail, and Internet access--a work arrangement which meshes perfectly with her love of homemaking. Here is what Barbara, who is totally blind, has to say about baking our daily bread: ********** One day my college roommate, whose usual cooking projects were limited to what she could achieve in our popcorn popper, returned from a trip to the supermarket with two loaves of frozen bread dough. She announced with glee that she was going to bake them and provide us with warm, homemade bread to go with the cheese spread, oranges, and brownies my mother had sent in her latest care package.
Having been party to dinner-roll making at home, I was skeptical about how well the loaves would rise in our frigid dorm room, but I went off to class hoping for the best. When I returned several hours later, I was gratified to find that the loaves had thawed but unsurprised to observe that they were still the same thin logs they had been when they arrived, even if they were now pliable.
Water left in a cup did not quite freeze in that dorm during the winter, but I had been glad to master the art of dressing while still wearing my flannel nightgown. I decided I would have to intervene if we were to have bread for supper.
By combining our available resources, I managed to construct a sort of incubator using my stool and desk lamp and my roommate's sheepskin throw. It worked beautifully, and gradually through the afternoon the bread began to rise. Those loaves were only the first hatched in our cobbled-together incubator that year and baked in the kitchen down the hall.
At home the following summer I began experimenting with making bread from scratch. My mother was trained as a home economist, and what she does not know about cooking is not worth learning. She taught me the rules for handling yeast correctly and for kneading dough effectively. In the end I learned not to be afraid of bread-making. It was a gift that has held me in good stead through the years.
The spring before I got married, the minister's wife at the church I attended while a student gave me a recipe for making four loaves of wonderful potato bread. I made the recipe several times before we had children, but I found it infinitely valuable once the children came along and began enjoying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fresh bread and jam. But the best part of that potato bread was my accidental discovery that it lent itself beautifully to bread sculpture.
This is an art form ideally suited to blind bakers and small children, because as long as the sculptor's hands are clean, the dough can be handled and reshaped as often as necessary. (Mother can even surreptitiously reconstruct a masterpiece that has suffered from the competition of too many small hands.)
I eventually learned to divide the dough into three equal pieces and give each child a section of counter, a greased cookie sheet, and his or her part of the dough. This did not end the warfare exactly--bargaining sessions for a little dough from a neighbor's unused hoard had some tendency to turn into raids. But for a number of years in our family, Christmas preparations included making loaves of bread in the shapes of Santas, angels, Christmas trees, bells, and shepherds to give to neighbors and friends.
Octopi, Easter bunnies, Jack o'lanterns, and valentines warm from the oven have also been eagerly consumed through the years with melting butter and raspberry jam in our kitchen.
When a cook is unafraid of yeast, the word spreads like magic. For years now I have made communion bread for our church. Hot cross buns, filled with currants and spices and decorated with crosses in lemon icing, are my contribution to the annual breakfast at church between the Easter services. I have even begun supplying the three-kings cake, which is really a sweet bread filled with candied cherries and raisins, for our Epiphany celebration.
People who don't bake are often surprised that I do so much of it. My husband is a college professor, so through the years I have turned out an endless array of cookies, bars, cakes, and quick breads for his classes. Doing that kind of baking is fun, and it's important to me to feed students who aren't getting homemade treats. But bread-baking satisfies something deep inside me. Kneading bread dough is a wonderful way to release frustration or anger and turn them into something nourishing and comforting. Even the fragrance of baking bread is a blessing to everyone who steps through the door.
Bread is a living presence in the kitchen. It is very forgiving of mistreatment or neglect. A loaf that has been left to rise for too long can be kneaded and reshaped for another try. If the room is too cold, moving the loaf to a warm place is enough to persuade it to begin rising. Even if the cook manages to kill the yeast, a little more can be dissolved and worked into the dough to rescue the project. It is easy to tell when bread is done even when one can't judge by looking at the color. A tap with fingertips on the crust readily tells the listener when the loaf is ready to be tipped out of the pan onto a cooling rack.
Several years ago I received a bread machine for my birthday. Since I had gone back to work and the children had left for college, I had fallen out of the habit of bread baking. The machine and the books of recipes for single loaves of mouth-watering breads I subsequently received inspired me to begin baking bread again.
But this time it was altogether different. The machine instructions said that I was to place the various ingredients in the bowl in a prescribed order, close the lid, press the correct button, and wait for the finished loaf to materialize. It seemed implausible, but it worked. The only problem was that the loaf was shaped like a flowerpot.
All went well, however, until the day I discovered that my bread machine had suicidal tendencies. During the kneading cycle the machine sometimes began walking itself toward the edge of the counter. As long as I was in the room when this dangerous behavior began, I could keep pushing it back to safety. It was only a matter of time, however, until I was out of earshot and it actually leaped off the counter with a resounding crash and unfortunate consequences to the machine.
The first time this happened, the glass dome shattered. So much for baking oddly shaped loaves. I quickly discovered to my joy that I could remove the dough from the bowl at the end of the kneading process and shape the loaf myself, allow it to rise in the conventional way, and bake it in the oven.
My new arrangement worked well for quite a long time. Of course the machine continued its self-destructive behavior, and every time it fell another dent appeared or something else rattled its way loose and eventually off. The cord was too short for me to place the bread machine on the floor while I was using it, and nothing that I could devise kept it from wandering.
My poor machine leaped from the counter for the last time months after I had made the transition to doing the baking myself. So I happily abandoned the machine that had taken up so much space on my counter and retained all the wonderful new recipes I had collected. My mixer has a bread hook, so I began tossing together the ingredients and beating them with the mixer to make loaves as easily and efficiently as the machine ever did the job.
It pleases me to bake, slice, and serve my own bread. But I couldn't bake all our bread the way I do if I did not work at home most of the time. In fact I count providing all our bread as one of the many advantages of having a job that keeps me at home.
What does any of this have to do with blindness? Nothing and everything. Like thousands of other Americans I love to bake. My family regularly sits down to fresh Stollen on Christmas morning, homemade pizza with Italian bread crust, and crusty French bread loaves on picnics. The only difference is that my family laughs together to think how many of the people who know us only casually believe that my husband must necessarily prepare all the meals in our home, do the laundry, and keep the house clean. He grumbles that it is hard to wear the crown of sainthood undeservedly.
Gradually we in the National Federation of the Blind are teaching the public that blind people can and do carry out our responsibilities, living full and productive lives. Through the years I have taken much satisfaction from feeding my family and teaching my children, God's children, and the children of my friends to bake their daily bread. ********** ********** The Technical Braille Center by John J. Boyer ********** From the Editor: For individual Braille users perhaps the most exciting part of the recent advent of relatively low-cost Braille translation software and Braille embossers has been the ready access we now have to literary Braille. If the text is in a computer file or can be put into a file, obtaining a clear Braille version is now pretty straightforward.
The same cannot be said for musical notation or scientific or mathematic texts. If one needs access to graphs or technical drawings, the same sort of roadblocks appear. A new resource is now available to those facing such problems. Computers Helping People, Inc. (CHPI) is a small company in Madison, Wisconsin, dedicated to solving such problems with care, speed, and efficiency. John Boyer started the company; this is what he says about it: ********** The Technical Braille Center produces books in Braille, large print, and special electronic forms for scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who are blind, dyslexic, or paralyzed. It also provides books for students preparing for careers in the technical professions, who urgently need the equivalent of the printed materials their peers use. We also produce Braille music.
We emphasize fast turnaround times--constantly improving our technology to reduce costs--and human preparers knowledgeable in mathematics, science, and music.
Our center capitalizes on new technology for the translation of mathematics into various media. It is run by the person who developed the technology (a deaf-blind computer scientist). It taps into the skills and idealism of the students and staff of Madison's many institutions of higher education. It is part of a private, nonprofit corporation. Since it is not a unit of any government agency or educational institution, it can offer its services to everyone. It began operation in the spring of 1997 and has now produced several textbooks.
The books are prepared by a small group of specially trained editors who are themselves familiar with mathematical and musical notation and are trained in the production of tactile graphics, which enable blind readers to study graphs, charts, and diagrams.
The software used to translate books works well when transcribing plain text, but it often produces errors and inconsistencies when the pages have unusual formats containing diagrams, graphs, or equations. This limitation is what makes Brailling technical texts so difficult. The content must be painstakingly edited by those familiar with the mathematical and musical notation used. This editing process accounts for 90 percent of the time (and cost) required to produce the finished product. The pages are produced using an interpoint Braille embosser.
For each text the activities are as follows:
1) Agencies and individuals place orders by contacting CHPI by mail, fax, e-mail, phone, or dropping by the East Johnson Street office. Small jobs can be paid for at the conclusion of the work. For jobs over several hundred dollars we require that the person making the order sign a transcription contract and pay half the estimated price in advance. The estimate is made by counting the number of print pages to be transcribed, determining the number of Braille pages that will result from each print page and counting the number of graphics which must be produced in tactile form. This process is complex, particularly since our costs change as we develop the technology. For these reasons we generally ask the customer to send us the book so that we can make an accurate estimate.
2) The books must be electronically scanned, which puts the entire text into a word- processing file. In music translation some musical notation is too complex to be scanned using the procedure described above. In these cases a skilled musician plays the piece directly into the computer using a MIDI keyboard, which works much like a piano.
3) The text parts of the file are carefully edited and formatted. Musical parts are edited with software that shows the music in the usual graphical form on the screen. Verbal and numeric information on graphics is edited and placed in appropriate positions on the page.
4) The file is run through the translation program and turned into actual Braille. The program was developed by CHPI in partnership with Braille Planet, Inc. (formerly Raised-Dot Computing, Inc.), another Madison nonprofit.
5) The Braille text is proofread by a skilled Braille reader, final corrections are made to the inkprint version, and it is then printed in Braille a final time.
6) The graphical parts of figures are hand-drawn because the Braille embosser cannot produce graphics of sufficient quality. The original paper copies of figures are kept so that they can be used to produce additional copies of the book. The figures are transferred to plastic sheets which are bound with the paper sheets containing the text and music.
7) The completed Braille volumes are shipped to the customer. The first few volumes can be shipped as soon as they are completed without waiting for the whole book to be finished.
8) After a book is shipped, we keep the files on our computers so that we can provide copies to other people who need them. We also place information on them in the LOUIS database at the American Printing House for the Blind. You can find out what we have available by looking at our own book list.
Contact John J. Boyer, Executive Director, Computers to Help People, Inc., 825 East Johnson Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53703, phone: (608) 257-5917, fax: (608) 257-3480, or e- mail: <[email protected]>. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Don Capps] Donald C. Capps Receives the Jefferson Award by David Houck ********** From the Editor: David Houck is the Treasurer of the NFB of South Carolina and director of the Federation Center of the Blind. ********** On Monday afternoon, May 24, 1999, at the Embassy Suites in Columbia, South Carolina, a special annual luncheon was hosted by WLTX-TV 19, the CBS affiliate in Columbia, to bestow the Jefferson Award for outstanding community service upon NFB of South Carolina President Donald C. Capps and two other recipients, Charlotte L. Berry and William L. Hamilton. The award is sponsored by the American Institute for Public Service, which was established by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Robert W. Taft, Jr., in 1973. The invocation was offered by Dr. George E. Metze, the Chaplin of the State Senate. The Honorable Bob Peeler, South Carolina's Lieutenant Governor, also addressed the audience. Brief video presentations of each of the three recipients, to be aired later on WLTX, were screened during the ceremony. The recipients were presented with their awards and made remarks to the gathering, which were videotaped as well.
The program agenda spoke of Mr. Capps as follows: "Longtime [NFB of South Carolina] President, Donald Capps began a legacy of serving the blind which spans almost half a century. In 1953 Donald became interested in the organized blind movement and was elected President of the Columbia Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, where he presently holds the office of President of the NFB of South Carolina. One of Donald's major accomplishments was the establishment of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind as an independent agency in 1966. Among his many activities Donald is editor of the Palmetto Blind, a quarterly publication, and he also served as President of the Forest Acres Rotary Club. He is currently working on a project for the development of Rocky Bottom Camp of the Blind [the Ralph M. Ellenburg, Sr., Lodge], where he serves as founder of the camp. In respect for his many accomplishments the Federation Center of the Blind named its fellowship hall in his honor for his lifetime service to the blind."
Upon receiving this prestigious award, President Capps thanked the South Carolina blind community, the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, the Federation Center of the Blind, the School for the Deaf and Blind, his faithful wife Betty, and WLTX-TV 19 for its community-minded spirit.
The award is a large bronze medallion which displays on its obverse an eagle with the words "Jefferson Award--American Institute for Public Service," and the reverse side reads, "In recognition of outstanding public service," and is signed by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; R.W. Taft, Jr.; and Samuel S. Beard. ********** ********** Recipes ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Mary Donahue] This month's recipes come from members of the National Association of Blind Secretaries and Transcribers. ********** My Infamous Punch by Mary Donahue ********** Mary Donahue serves as Secretary of the National Association of Blind Secretaries and Transcribers, First Vice President of the San Antonio Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas, a long-distance operator for Qwest Communications, and a certified Braille proofreader for Third Coast Services and Braille Mission. Mary also serves on the Technology Council of Warm Springs Resource Center as a consultant and is also an officer of the NFB's Music Division. ********** Ingredients: 2 large cans Hawaiian Punch fruit punch 1 16-ounce can Privoli fruit punch 2 cans or 1 bottle (1 liter) ginger ale ********** Method: Place all ingredients except ginger ale in a large pitcher and stir. Add ginger ale just before serving. Makes one gallon. ********** ********** Fudge Balls by Mary Donahue ********** Ingredients: 2 1-ounce squares baking chocolate 2 tablespoons butter 1 3-ounce package cream cheese 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups confectionery sugar chopped nuts ********** Method: Melt chocolate in microwave oven and cool slightly. Add butter, vanilla, and cream cheese and mix well. Stir in powdered sugar, form in small balls, and roll in ground nuts. Chill until firm. ********** ********** Pineapple Carrot Gelatin Salad by Mary Donahue ********** Ingredients: 1 package lemon Jell-O 1 can crushed pineapple 2 grated carrots 1 pint hot water ********** Method: Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Allow to cool. Add pineapple and carrots. Place in refrigerator in individual molds or one large one and chill until set. Serve alone or, if desired, on lettuce leaf garnished with mayonnaise. ********** ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Lisa Hall] Meat Sauce for Spaghetti by Lisa Hall ********** Lisa Hall is President of the National Association of Blind Secretaries and Transcribers, Second Vice President of the San Antonio Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas, and a telephone operator for Qwest Communications. In addition, Lisa serves as an officer of the Deaf-Blind Division of the National Federation of the Blind and as a consultant to the Technology Council of Warm Springs Resource Center in San Antonio, Texas. ********** Ingredients: 2 tablespoons bacon drippings or margarine 1 cup onion, diced 1 cup celery, chopped 1 cup green pepper, chopped 1 pound ground beef or veal 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper Cayenne to taste 1/4 teaspoon thyme 2 bay leaves 1/2 cup tomato paste 2 cups tomato juice ********** Method: Saute onions, celery, and green pepper in drippings or margarine. Add meat and cook, stirring, until meat turns from red to brown. Add all remaining ingredients and cook covered over low heat for at least one hour. Mix gently with 2/3 pound spaghetti prepared according to package directions. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Serves six. ********** ********** Baked Apples by Lisa Hall ********** Ingredients: 2 small apples Artificial sweetener to equal 2 teaspoons sugar Dash each ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg 1/4 cup water 1 teaspoon lemon juice ********** Method: Core apples and place in baking dish. Sprinkle sweetener, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the apples. Add water and lemon juice to baking dish and bake at 450 degrees for twenty-five minutes or until tender. Makes 2 servings. ********** ********** Lemonade by Lisa Hall ********** Ingredients: 8 ounces pure lemon juice 1/2 cup honey 6 cups cold water 1 uncolored unwaxed lemon, sliced (optional) ********** Method: In a blender combine lemon juice and honey on high speed. Mix with cold water in a large pitcher. Add lemon slices if desired. Serve over ice. ********** ********** Monitor Miniatures ********** Travel Magazine Available: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The Travel Magazine is a quarterly publication available in Braille and standard two-track cassette which brings the world of travel available in print travel periodicals to those unable to access ordinary printed material. Subscriptions are $32.95 annually. For a sample copy send $1 for cassette and $5 for Braille to The Travel Magazine, P.O. Box 24236, Cincinnati, Ohio 45224. ********** For Sale: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Completely reconditioned Perkins Braille Writer for sale. Cost is $300, payment plan is negotiable. Call evenings or weekends, (313) 885-7330 or e-mail: <[email protected]>. ********** Wanted: Interpoint full-page slate. Call evenings or weekends, (313) 885-7330 or email: <[email protected]>. ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Al Sanchez] [PHOTO/CAPTION: Gerrie Burke] Wedding Bells: Gerrie Burke of the NFB of Virginia and Albert Sanchez of the NFB of Washington were married Saturday, June 26, 1999, at Saint George's Episcopal Church in Arlington, Virginia. Al, a longtime leader in the Washington affiliate, has relocated to Virginia. The couple honeymooned in Atlanta at our convention. We wish the newlyweds much joy. ********** Poetry Book Available: Toby Longface, President of the Tucson Chapter of the NFB of Arizona, has asked us to carry the following announcement:
My poetry book, Smelling the Roses, is ready for sale. It is like a Twin Vision(R) book, eight-and-a-half-by-eleven-inch pages with large print and graphics on the left page and Braille on the right. It will sell for $11.95 plus $1.50 shipping. It is also available with large print and graphics only for $9.95 plus $1.50 shipping. This edition measures five and a half inches by eight and a half. My greeting cards for all occasions are also available in large print and Braille. I'm using my own photography and poetry in them. They will sell six for $9.95 plus $1.50 shipping. For more information or to place an order, call Toby Longface Enterprises, 1914 West Anklam Road, Tucson, Arizona 85745, phone (520) 623-7044, e-mail: <[email protected]>. ********** Fred's Head Database: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The American Printing House for the Blind is building the Fred's Head Database, a collection of tips, tricks, and alternative techniques by and for people who are blind or visually impaired. Fred's Head is an expert database that captures and makes available the knowledge and experience of many different people from all walks of life. Fred's Head will be available on the APH Web site with a user-friendly search interface. You'll be able to use Fred's Head to find how-to information on a large number of subjects with topics growing continuously.
The experience of APH's Fred Gissoni is the core of the database, but we are building a community of ideas. We invite you to share your ideas for solving problems you meet every day. We welcome everything from a simple solution to a detailed discussion of a complex process. Some topics already included are how to make a writing guide, marking hotel keys, how to do audio tone indexing, how to make an audio tape address book, note taking, sewing tips, how to make a Braille calendar, personal uses of Braille, where to find information on scholarships, and job search tips.
Please send your idea to APH on computer disk, cassette tape, in Braille, print, or via e- mail to Fay Leach, Expert Database Coordinator, <[email protected]>; (800) 223-1839, (502) 899- 2378, fax: (502) 899-2363, American Printing House for the Blind, 1839 Frankfort Avenue, P.O. Box 6085, Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085. ********** Putting it All Together: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
EVAS is a reliable source for the design, manufacture, integration, prompt delivery, support, and service of accessible turn-key computer solutions. We offer a wide range of technologies, including speech synthesizers, screen readers, refreshable Braille displays, Braille printers, large-print software, CCTVs, optical character recognition (OCR) reading systems, and more. Our AbilityPro Systems feature productivity-enhancing software such as a talking calculator, a text and keystroke macro utility, a clipboard extender, and a powerful address and personal information manager. Each AbilityPro Computer comes with a FirstAid Disk to enable the recovery of lost CMOS settings and corrupted master boot records on the hard drive. This disk includes digitized voice output and a large-print menu system, making it usable even when adaptive aids or the computer's hard drive are not functioning. Our AbilityPro Disaster Recovery Disks allow system engineers to restore the original setup and configuration of an AbilityPro Computer during a tech support call. Remote Access System Support is now a part of all EVAS Computers. Connecting through the modem, this specialized software turns EVAS' in-house support computer into a duplicate of the end-user's system, allowing the EVAS engineer to see first-hand the difficulty the user is experiencing. Diagnostics can be run and hardware and software reconfigurations performed to restore the system and minimize downtime. With their in-depth knowledge of computer systems, access technology, and application software and their relationships, EVAS's experienced staff stands ready to respond to questions and support customers' needs.
To learn more, visit EVAS on the Web at <www.evas.com> or call (800) 872-3827. ********** Elected: The NFB of South Dakota recently held elections with the following results: Karen Mayry, President; Minni Erickson, Vice President; Irene Sears, Secretary; Peggy Klimisch, Treasurer; and Tina Blatter, Denise Jones, and Mike Klimisch, Board Members. ********** Arizona Perkins Brailler Repair Service Back in Full Swing: We have been asked to carry the following announcement: We are happy to report that, after incurring considerable staffing shortages in the past year, the Arizona Brailler Repair Service (ABRS), which is a cooperative enterprise between the Arizona Instructional Resource Center of the Foundation for Blind Children and an Arizona state prison, is up and running again. The cost for labor is $30 with a six-month warranty on labor. Parts are extra. Usual turn-around time is under four weeks, somewhat longer if unusual parts need to be ordered from Howe Press. Special care should be given to safe packing, preferably the original box and packing material. Any insurance is to be paid by the machine owner. For more information or to send your Brailler for repair or maintenance service, please contact the AIRC, the Foundation for Blind Children, 1235 E. Harmont Drive, Phoenix, Arizona 85020, (602) 678- 5810, or visit the Web site <www.the-fbc.org>. ********** Garment Labels Available: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
We provide washable Braille and large-print garment labels available in packages of twenty-five or fifty. These labels withstand washing and drying, so you can attach the label to your garment by either sewing or safety-pinning the label to the fabric. With your first order you will receive an index of colors so you can learn our color abbreviations and color saturation guide, which distinguishes between light and dark colors. Currently we have blue, black, purple, white, yellow, red, green, gray, tan, pink, and orange available. The cost for twenty-five labels is $12.95, and for fifty labels the cost is $24.95. For more information contact Denise at (610) 642- 4442. ********** New Catalog Available: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Give the gift that says something--Speak to Me's new catalog features a large variety of holiday gift ideas. Some of the newest products include Zenith VCR with confirmation; voice- recognition phone with answering machine; a large variety of digital recorders; lots of new talking magnets, key chains, novelty clocks; graduation and wedding gift ideas; many new talking toys and games for children; plus many more practical and fun items for the whole family. Call (800) 248-9965 to request your free catalog, which is available in print, on cassette, or on IBM-compatible disk. ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Joe Ruffalo] Appointed: We recently learned that on March 17, 1999, the State of New Jersey Department of Human Services appointed Joseph Ruffalo, Jr., President of the NFB of New Jersey, to the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired for the term expiring June 30, 2000. Congratulations to Joe. ********** Attention Amateur Radio Enthusiasts: We recently received a letter from Muhammad Ameen, who lives in Kerala Province in India. He has a bachelor's degree in English and teaches in a private institution. In 1994 he achieved his long-held dream of qualifying as an amateur radio operator. His call sign is vu3 vuc. But because he does not have a transceiver (which he says is an important piece of equipment, particularly for blind radio operators) he fears that he will never be able to use his hobby. Purchasing a transceiver is beyond his financial means. He hopes that someone reading this notice might be able and willing to help him. If so, his address is Muhammad S. Ameen, Darul Huda, Peringala Post Office, Kumarapuram via, Aluva, Kerala, India 683565. ********** Refreshable Braille at 25 Percent Savings: Blazie Engineering announces a 25 percent price cut on PowerBraille 40, its popular forty-cell refreshable Braille display. PowerBraille 40 now costs $4,495. This special price still includes all of Blazie's standard warranties, guarantees, and product support after the sale.
PowerBraille 40, an enduring and proven performer, instantly transforms screen information into 6- or 8-dot refreshable Braille. ScreenPower software is included, allowing users to receive Braille, speech, or both types of output simultaneously.
Users get forty cells of refreshable Braille, full compatibility with four computer operating systems including Microsoft Windows, and battery-powered portability. PowerBraille 40, complete with thirty-month warranty, is fully featured for maximum user convenience and control.
For more information contact Blazie Engineering, 105 East Jarrettsville Road, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050. Phone (410) 893-9333, or visit the Web site <www.blazie.com>. ********** In Memoriam: We recently learned that James McGinnis, who served as President of the California affiliate in the late sixties and early seventies, died at home in San Francisco, February 24, 1999. He was a native of Topeka, Kansas, and lived in California for thirty-five years. He is survived by his wife Leslie; his children Marilyn, Stephen, Bonnie, Gay, and Randy; and numerous grandchildren. Jim was a professional jazz musician (guitar), a piano technician, and director of Broadcast Services for the Blind. His love for life, people, music, and baseball was infectious. As an advocate for the rights of the blind, he fought a good fight. A truly remarkable and memorable man, he will be deeply missed. ********** Specialty Items: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
My name is Scott Bush, and I live in the Chicago area. I am legally blind and have my own company called LTT Sales, which specializes in advertising and specialty items such as hats, T-shirts, coffee mugs, pens, or anything to put a company's name or event on. I am dedicated to giving the highest quality and lowest cost to meet any customer's needs. I can be reached at (815) 254-6680 or by fax (815) 254-6681. Please call with your text inquiry or for a catalog. ********** No Longer Doing Business: Marie Caputo has asked us to carry the following announcement:
Due to the significant decrease in computer prices, Transcription Technologies, Inc., is no longer in business. Thank you for your patronage. ********** Elected: The Denver Chapter of the NFB of Colorado held elections at its May meeting. Elected were Scott LaBarre, President; Julie Deden, First Vice President; Doug Trimble, Second Vice President; Tom Anderson, Secretary; and John Deden, Treasurer. Jennifer Wenzel, Eric Woods, and Jeremiah Beasley were elected to the Board. ********** [PHOTO/CAPTION: Melody Lindsey] Appointed: Family Independence Agency (FIA) director Douglas Howard announced the appointment of Melody Lindsey as the director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center in Kalamazoo, effective May 16, 1999. The MCB Training Center is a residential training facility, which has been in Kalamazoo for nearly thirty years. Melody is a 1986 NFB Scholarship winner and Past President of the NFB of Alaska. She has worked in rehabilitation in several states, most recently in New Mexico.
"We know the leadership, experience, and talent which Ms. Lindsey brings to the center will benefit Michigan citizens for many years," said Howard. "Her fervent belief in the capacity of people to fulfill their dreams and achieve independence is contagious." ********** For Sale: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Accent SA speech synthesizer, $200. Jumbo Brailler, excellent condition, $400. Office 97, $140 includes shipping. TeleBraille, slow coming on, but operational, asking $1,500. All prices are negotiable. Contact Isaac Obie at 755 Tremont Street, Apt. 205, Boston, Massachusetts 02118; (617) 247-0026; e-mail: <[email protected]>. ********** Elected: The Bix Beiderbecke Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa held elections on April 5 with the following results: John TeBockhorst, President; Mary Hartle-Smith, Vice President; Tom TeBockhorst, Secretary; Mike Smith, Treasurer; and Kallie Smith, Board Member. ********** World Conference: A world conference showcasing excellence in assistive technology is scheduled October 6 to 9, 1999, at the Radisson Twin Towers Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), the Alliance for Technology Access (ATA), and the United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC) collaborate to bring you comprehensive opportunities to learn, to meet personally a wide range of peers and experts, and to contribute your experiences to the continued improvement of our field.
With the ATIA World Conference '99 as the centerpiece of this experience, ATA and USSAAC add their national meetings to form an unrivaled event with a week of in-depth training sessions, presentations by leading professionals, an extensive Exhibit Hall, a Hands-on Lab, and much more. Conference fee for early registrants is $235, regular, $285, and on-site, $325. For a list of companies exhibiting at the conference, contact ATA at (415) 455-4575 or visit the ATA Web site at <www.ATAccess.org>. e-mail: <[email protected]> or phone (847) 869-1282. ********** World Series Baseball Game: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
You can play baseball on your computer using all the great teams of the past on Version 13 of the World Series Baseball Game and Information System. You can also review the history of baseball, find out who is in the Hall of Fame, check out all the baseball records, and try out your knowledge of the game on a 1,000-question quiz.
In the game, you are the manager, changing pitchers, pinch hitting, sacrificing, purposely passing batters, moving the infield in, etc.
The game comes with 262 teams. 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. The price is still the same as when the game was first introduced in 1986--only $15 to new users, $5 for updates. Send your check to Harry Hollingsworth, 692 S. Sheraton Drive, Akron, Ohio 44319 or call (330) 644-2421 or e-mail <[email protected]>. ********** Affordable Talking Scientific Calculator: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Orbit Research has introduced ORION TI-34, the world's first affordable talking scientific calculator for blind and visually impaired students and professionals. Priced at $199, the 11-ounce, pocket-sized calculator is a breakthrough in math and science education for special-needs students. At close to a third of the cost of other talking scientific calculators, ORION provides unrivalled features and ease of use.
The calculator vocalizes each key pressed and reads out displayed answers in a clear, natural voice, while maintaining the functionality and ease of use of the TI-34. The calculator has over ninety-five scientific functions including statistics, trigonometry, and Boolean logic. Visually impaired users will find ORION's unique learning mode particularly useful because it enables them effortlessly to locate and identify any key even in the middle of a calculation without interrupting it.
The unit comes with built-in, rechargeable batteries that provide over seven hours of continuous operation, as well as a mains adapter which doubles as a battery charger. Included with the unit are an impact-resistant plastic cover, a high-quality earphone for private use, and instruction manuals in large print and on cassette tape. Orbit Research provides a one-year warranty and toll-free technical support and customer service.
Further information on ORION is available at <www.orbitresearch.com> or by contacting Orbit Research at 3422 Old Capitol Trail, Suite 585, Wilmington, Delaware 19808, (888) 606- 7248 or fax (888) 606-7248. ********** For Sale: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
I have for sale a DecTalk Express with headphones, AC adapter, and connector cable. I will take the best offer. For more information contact Kerry Stein at (205) 425-0800, weekdays and (205) 967-4901, evenings and weekends. ********** High Holiday Machzor Available Free to Blind: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The Jewish Heritage for the Blind announces the availability of the High Holiday Machzor Hebrew/English large print or Braille edition for the visually impaired. To receive your free copy while supplies last, mail or fax your request accompanied by a note from your medical doctor or eye care specialist confirming that you have a vision problem. Send to the Jewish Heritage for the Blind, 1655 East 24th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11229, fax: (718) 338-0653. ********** Extra-Large-Print Books with Enhanced Pictures: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The artists at Harvard Ranch Publishing introduce a new book series that combines digitally enhanced imagery with very large print. The books are designed for older adults and those with visual impairments but appeal to nearly everyone. Harvard Ranch worked closely with professionals and the visually impaired themselves to create books that convey beauty and warmth. The books also spark memories and imagination, which in turn promote conversation. The books are easy to read but intellectually engaging and visually intriguing. The first three books focus on timeless poetry, Biblical passages, and familiar hymns. They are illustrated with colorful drawings and photographs and are spiral-bound so they lie flat when open.
The series includes A Walk in the Garden, Verses from the Bible, and Favorite Hymns and cost $24.95 each. Add $2.50 for shipping and handling. You may call 1-800-815-9533 or contact Harvard Ranch Publishing, Box 842, Kalispell, Montana 59903, fax (406) 752-9678, e- mail <[email protected]>, or visit the Web site at <www.harvardranch.com>. Methods of payment include major credit cards. ********** Sports and Recreational Videos Available: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The Michigan Blind Athletic Association, MBAA, has three videos available to assist and enhance physical education programs. They include the following:
ACCESS Sports video, eighteen minutes, discusses the ACCESS sports model, which suggests ways to assess and adapt most sports to include visually impaired students in a physical education program. Costs $35.
MBAA Sports Camp video, eighteen minutes, discusses the annual MBAA Sports Camp for visually impaired youth. Founded more than ten years ago, this camp assists visually impaired students and their instructors in adapting physical education and sports programs to include visually impaired youth. Costs $35.
Introduction to Goal Ball, eight minutes, discusses the game of goal ball, including rules and regulations. This is a very fast-paced video. Costs $30.
To order, send a check or money order or purchase order to Michigan Blind Athletic Association, c/o Sherry Gordon, Secretary, 4423 Sunnydale Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49006, (616) 337-3276. ********** Spanish Edition of Diabetes Publication Available: We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision, RRTC, announces the availability of a Spanish version of its 1997 publication, Serving Individuals with Diabetes Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. This publication was produced in collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind and is available in large print and on audio cassette for $30. Interested individuals should contact Ms. Kelly Schaefer at (662) 325-1363 for more information. ********** NFB PLEDGE ********** I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its Constitution.