Future Reflections Summer 1991

(back) (contents)

HEAR YE! HEAR YE!

BRAILLE BILL PASSES

The following information comes from Tom Balek, Secretary of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB. He is also active in the Kansas affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind.

On April 2 Kansas governor Joan Finney signed into law House Bill #2208, commonly known as the Braille Literacy Law. The bill, sponsored by Representative Dick Edlund, will require school districts to make instruction in Braille available to any visually impaired student who desires it. The bill had passed both the House and the Senate unanimously. In addition to Representative Edlund, who is blind and former president of the Kansas affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, a number of proponents testified before the education subcommittees of both bodies. They included Larry Waymire, vice president of the Capitol Chapter of the NFB in Topeka; Susie Stanzell, president of the state affiliate of the NFB; Ralph Bartlett, superintendent of the state School for the Visually Impaired, and Jeff Balek, a blind third-grade student from Berryton Elementary School.

Studies indicate that literacy among the visually impaired has deteriorated in recent years. Educators often use tape recordings, text magnification equipment, and text-to-speech computer and scanning devices as the primary methods for delivering information and curricular material to students. Each of these alternatives to print has its own merits and drawbacks. Magnification equipment allows low-vision students to read print, but it is expensive, cumbersome, and a slow and sometimes painful process. And there is concern that students who learn only by listening never obtain the basic skills of literacy, namely, effective reading and writing.

The Braille Literacy Bill insures that no student who needs and wants instruction can be denied it. The National Federation of the Blind has promoted the legislation across the country, and many other states have already passed or are considering similar bills.

LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

In February, 1991, nearly 300 blind Federationists from around the country converged on Washington, D.C., for the annual Washington Seminar. The purpose of the annual seminar is for blind people to meet with congressmen/women and discuss the legislative needs of the blind for the coming year. The following four priorities were identified at this year's seminar:

1. Congress should amend the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to establish the client's right of choice in selecting agencies to provide rehabilitation services. (This issue is very timely to parents because of the new amendments to the education law which provide for transition services for disabled youth.) Unlike Medicare patients who can choose their own doctors, or college students who can use federal aid to go to the college of their choice, blind and disabled rehabilitation clients are required to utilize designated state agencies. This should be changed.

2. Congress should insure that politics in the form of accreditation does not threaten programs serving the blind. The nearly financially bankrupt National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) is making a last ditch effort to stay afloat by asking Congress to tie federal funding to accreditation. Considering that NAC has a 25-year history and track record of poor performance and hostile relations with consumers, Congress should reject this politically motivated maneuver.

3. Congress should safeguard business opportunities for blind vendors on Federal highways. In 1982 the "Kennelly Amendment," gave blind businessmen and women the priority to operate vending machines at highway safety and rest areas. This important source of income for blind men and women is being threatened by proposals to commercialize the services at these sites. Congress should take action to protect employment opportunities for the blind from being overrun by big commercial interests.

4. Congress should amend Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act to include individuals with disabilities as a defined minority group for purposes of eligibility in the Minority Small Business and Capital Ownership Development Program. The social and economic disadvantage which accompany disabilities are well-known and should be beyond dispute. The Americans with Disabilities Act (PL 101-336) now provides the legal mandate needed for SBA to take this necessary action.

BY-LINE CORRECTION

It is common practice for editors to omit by-lines on articles they have written for their own publications. I do so myself. Sometimes I will give my article a by-line, sometimes not. This issue contains examples of both practices.In the last issue of Future Reflections (Vol. 10, No. 1) I reprinted the article "PreBraille Readiness" from the VIP Newsletter. I printed it without a by-line, for that was how it was originally published. Since then, I have been informed that Donna Heiner is the author of the article and, therefore, should receive credit as such. Donna Heiner, as you may guess, was the editor of the Vip Newsletter at that time. She is no longer involved in work with blind children but, nevertheless, likes to stay informed by reading such publications as Future Reflections; which is how this correction came to be.

SETH GOES TO TORONTO

Eight-year-old Seth Leblond, the blind son of Robert and Connie Leblond, leaders in the New England Parents and Educators of Blind Children Division of the NFB, was selected as one of the winners of the "Yes I Can" award sponsored by the Foundation for Exceptional Children for the 1989-90 school year. Seth and his family traveled to Toronto, where he received his trophy. All the winners were interviewed before the official ceremony began. When Seth was asked what this award meant to him, Seth said that it meant that he had worked hard and well. When asked what he wanted to do when he grows up, he replied without hesitation, "I'm keeping my options open."

BOOK ON TAPES

The following information is from Working Mother.

Over and over again. That's the way kids like to view their favorite videos or listen to tunes on audiocassettes. But which tapes are really worth these repeat performances? For more than a hundred suggestions, refer to A Parent's Guide to Video and Audio Cassettes for Children, by Andrea E. Cascardi (Warner Books).

This handy book will save you the time of searching for quality tapes for children. Video recommendations include The Foolish Frog and Other Stories, which features a toe-tapping animated version of a folk song sung by Pete Seeger, and the reassuring Mister Rogers: Dinosaurs and Monsters. Audiocassette choices range from the hilarious stories in Lyle, Lyle Crocodile and Other Adventures of Lyle to Tom Glazer: Music for One's and Two's.

Cascardi's guide is divided by age groups, from newborn to 12. Look for it in bookstores, or order a copy by sending $8.95 to: Warner Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10103.

CREATE-A-BOOK

Dianne Millner of California came across this information and passed it on to be shared with other parents.

Here is a special gift your child or grandchild can treasure for the rest of his or her life. Create-A-Book is personalized throughout with your child's name and other important information about your child. Among the different titles to choose from are: The Big Parade, Baby's Create-A-Book, My Birthday Surprise, and My Beach Adventure. All books can be made in Braille, and six titles are available in large print. Books are professionally printed and illustrated and come in a protective hard cover. For more information and an order form, write to: Create-A-Book Today, P.O. Box 81707, Las Vegas, NV 89180. Telephone number: (702) 871-5004.

DISABLED DAUGHTERS

The October, 1990, Number 14 issue of the NICHCY News Digest focuses on the theme: "Having a Daughter With a Disability: Is It Different For Girls?" Although the issue focuses on how parents can promote independence for disabled daughters, the advice is also excellent for the parents of disabled sons. Single copies of the issue are available free of charge upon request. Write to: National Information Center for Children and Youth with Handicaps (NICHCY), P.O. Box 1492, Washington, D.C. 20013; or call 1-800-999-5599 (toll-free except in D.C.); (703) 893-6061 (in the D.C. area); (703) 893-8614 (TDD).

FOR TEENAGE YOUTH

TFB Publications has a number of Braille and large print pamphlets which discuss facts and information about sexuality, menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and so forth. Many of the pamphlets are written for teenagers, especially teen girls. The prices range from less than a dollar to $5.00 or so. TFB also does Braille transcription, large print reproduction, and cassette tape duplication. To request a catalog, write to: TFB Publications, 238 75th Street, North Bergen, NJ 07047; telephone: (201) 662-0956.

ELECTRONIC TEXT

We've been asked to carry the following information.

Recording for the Blind (RFB) is initiating an electronic text or E-TEXT program. Electronic, or computerized, text is material encoded as digital data on a computer diskette. A blind or print-handicapped person can access the material with a personal computer, to which a speech synthesizer, Braille display, or character-enlarging equipment is attached. In addition to distributing computer diskettes, RFB plans to distribute audio cassettes on which the electronic text has been "read" by a speech synthesizer. RFB is beginning its E-TEXT program by making its own publications available on computer floppy disks, upon request. It will officially begin production of educational materials in E-TEXT with the establishment of its first electronic studio, scheduled to open in 1992 at RFB's headquarters in Princeton. Currently, individuals or organizations may receive RFB News or A Guide to Using Recording for the Blind's Services on either a 3 1/2" or 5 1/4" IBM diskette by calling or writing: Recording for the Blind, Office of Public Affairs, 20 Roszel Road, Princeton, NJ 08540; (609) 452-0606.

JUVENILE GLAUCOMA/CATARACTS

The following question and answer is reprinted from the VIPS Newsletter, Louisville, Kentucky. The author is Craig Douglas, M.D., pediatric opthamologist.

Q. Are conditions such as trauma and juvenile cataracts associated with juvenile glaucoma?

A. Yes. A very small percentage of individuals who receive a direct blow to the eye may have damage to the drain of the eye and subsequently develop increased pressure in the eye. This may present either at or shortly after the time of trauma or may actually present anywhere from months to years following such an injury. If one has a significant injury to the eye, then periodic examinations to rule out glaucoma later on are warranted. Also children who have had cataract extraction are unfortunately at an increased risk to have glaucoma, with anywhere from 5-10% of these children subsequently developing increased pressure. Hopefully, new cataract extraction techniques will lower this incidence, but even with new techniques we are finding that pressures may later become elevated. This may happen anywhere from 5 to 20 years following cataract extraction and is more common in children that have had cataract extraction at a very early age as opposed to the teenage years.

RELATED SERVICES AND O & M

The following information is a reprint of part of a letter that was published in Kid-Bits, a newsletter of the Kentucky School for the Blind:

[A] June 27, 1990, letter from John Brock, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kentucky Department of Education, was addressed to local school superintendents and special education coordinators. The letter contained the following item plus information about a task force being formed to study qualification for O & M instructors in Kentucky.

"In response to local district request for clarification, the Office of Education for Exceptional Children recognizes orientation and mobility training for blind or visually impaired students as a related service which may be considered by the Admission and Release Committee as required to assist a blind or visually impaired student to benefit from special education. EHA-B funding may be utilized to pay for the provision of such services..."

A LESSON FROM THE GEESE

Reprinted from Network, the newsletter of New Jersey Self-Help Clearinghouse.

Have you ever wondered why migrating geese fly in V formation? As with most animal behavior, there is a good reason from which we can learn a valuable principle of mutual aid.

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an "uplift" for the bird following. By flying in their V group formation, the whole flock adds 71% more flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Whenever a goose falls out of the group formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the "lifting power" of the bird immediately in front.

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the point position.

The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly again or dies. Then they launch out on their own, with another group, or to catch up with the flock.

(back) (contents)