Future Reflections Convention 1994, Vol. 13 No. 4
[PICTURE] Dr. Kay Ferrell discusses educational issues with parents at the Friday night NOPBC-sponsored pizza party. Although Dr. Ferrell was not formall on the agenda until Sunday July 3, she came in early to participate with others in the convention activities for parents.
[PICTURE] Parents from all over the country gather together for the 1994 Annual Meeting of the NOPBC.
Our annual meetings of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) are always informative, interesting, and serious-yet warm and humourous, too, which is inevitable when the subject and focus of our activities are our children. Even before the meeting was called to order, nearly one hundred people-mostly parents but many teachers and blind adults, too-were enthusiastically engaging in exchanges of information and experiences with one another.
Following the secretary's and treasurer's reports, Mrs. Cheadle explained her responsibilities as president of the NOBPC and as editor of Future Reflections. One of these responsibilities is the growth and development of our organization. With this in mind, President Cheadle opened and led the discussion regarding the Board's proposal to change our name from the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind (POBC) to the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, a Division of the National Federation of the Blind (NOPBC). The Board anticipates that the new name will increase our visibility and recognition as a national organization of parents of blind children. A motion to ratify this change was approved by a unanimous vote.
President Cheadle then went on to report on the highly successful parents' seminar we held in D.C. in January in conjunction with the larger Federation Washington Seminar. Parents from all over the country-Idaho, Alabama, New York, Wisconsin, etc.-attended this "standing-room-only" seminar. The purpose of the larger Federation D.C. Seminar is to educate our Congressmen and -women about the priority legislative needs of the blind for the coming legislative session. Most parents who came to the parents' seminar remained a day or two to visit legislators along with other Federation delegates from their states. This was the first time we had held a parents' seminar in conjunction with this event. The response was so tremendous we plan to do it again in 1995.
Mrs. Cheadle reviewed other NOPBC projects of the year: the Braille Readers are Leaders Contest; our magazine, Future Reflections (which is receiving increasing international recognition); the newly organized and revitalized chapters of NOPBC; and our nationwide Braille literacy campaign.
With business matters concluded, the meeting then moved to program items. One of the regular agenda items we all eagerly await is the announcement of the recipient of our annual Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award. This year, Mr. Joe Cutter, an orientation and mobility instructor from New Jersey was our award winner. 1994 marks the first time an orientation and mobility instructor has won this award. Mr. Cutter has attended several National Conventions where he has conducted workshops, given voluntary impromptu cane travel lessons to children, and met with parents to discuss their children's mobility programs. Mr. Cutter proceeded to give an inspiring description of his expectations, philosophy, and approach to orientation and mobility training for our very young children.
Next on the agenda was Mr. Scott LaBarre, an attorney and former President of the NFB Student Division, who informed us of some of the problems older blind students encounter when taking tests, such as the SAT's, administered by the Education Testing Service (ETS). For example, although sighted students may take the SAT test as many times as the SAT is scheduled in a year, a Braille user can take the test using the Braille version only once; ETS will not provide more than one version of the test in Braille. Another serious problem is ETS's practice of flagging test results as taken under "non-standard" conditions if the test taker required any adaptations, such as the use of Braille, large print, or readers. These and other problems with ETS are concerns the NOPBC must address in cooperation with the Student Division in the year to come.
Following Mr. LaBarre's presentation voluntary reports were solicited from NOPBC chapters and individuals in the audience regarding parent and children activities in states and communities around the country. Many exciting projects are being carried out by our innovative and energetic affiliates. Look for more reports about these activities in Future Reflections.
The next presentation was from our keynote speaker, Dr. Kay Alicyn Ferrell, Associate Professor, Division of Special Education, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado. Dr. Ferrell is responsible for coordinating the training program for teachers specializing in the education of the visually impaired. She has taken a firm pro-Braille stand and has worked cooperatively with the Federation in Colorado on the Braille literacy issue. Even though she has been at Northern Colorado only a short time, she has already increased the number of Braille courses offered to student teachers in the program.
Her presentation was titled, "Training Teachers of the Visually Impaired." Dr. Ferrell gave an overview of the state of teacher training programs at colleges and universities throughout the country. Currently, the requirements of college and university programs around the country vary significantly and thus produce teachers who may or may not be adequately prepared in the skills they are expected to teach. Dr. Ferrell shared with us her views and opinions on expansion and improvement of such programs.
The program for the day concluded with a panel presentation of parent leaders from different state NOPBC divisions. From New Jersey Carol Castellano reported on organizing and conducting a teacher training seminar on appropriate approaches in including blind children in the regular classroom. Loretta White of Maryland talked about putting together a Braille Storyhour summer program for blind children. Julie Hunter from Colorado spoke about successful efforts to pass Braille literacy legislation in that state. From the host state of Michigan, Dawn Neddo gave a report about their monthly tutoring program in which blind Federationists teach Braille, cane travel, and other skills to blind youngsters. Then Kathy Arthurs of our Ohio parents' division described some of Ohio's fund-raising projects. Last, Shirley Baillif of California enthusiastically described the talent show which was organized by the parents division and presented by blind children at the NFB of California state convention.
The final item of business was the election of officers and board members. After Mrs. Cheadle described the structure of the NOPBC board and the function of the nominating committee, Ruby Ryles, Chairman of the nominating committee, presented the committee's slate of nominations. The report was accepted, and the slate of officers was elected with no dissenting votes. The 1994-1995 officers and board members are: President, Barbara Cheadle (Maryland); First Vice President, Ruby Ryles (Washington); Second Vice President, Carol Castellano (New Jersey); Secretary, Marty Greiser (Montana); Treasurer, Julie Hunter (Colorado); Board Members: Myra Adler Lesser (Pennsylvania); Shirley Baillif (California); Kathy Arthurs (Ohio); and Michael Wolk (Pennsylvania).Members: Myra Adler Lesser (Pennsylvania); Shirley Baillif (California); Kathy Arthurs (Ohio); and Michael Wolk (Pennsylvania).