Future Reflections Winter 1989, Vol. 8 No. 1

(back) (contents) (next)


Report from the
Division of the

[PICTURE] Officers of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind. From left to right, back to front: Ruby Ryles, First Vice-President; Debbie Hamm, Secretary; Beverly Helmboldt, Treasurer; Delores Scearce, Board Member; Barbara Cheadle, President; and Betty Shandrow, Board Member. Susan Ford, Second Vice-F'resident, is not shown.

The Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind is a unique organization. No, it's not the first organization of parents of blind children. Parents of blind children have been getting together in organizations-formal and informal--since about the 1950's. The Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB is unique because it is the first time large numbers of parents of blind children have acted in unison to form a partnership with the organized blind.

This truly makes us a generation of pioneer parents. We are the first generation of parents actively to seek out the organized blind, not only to learn from them, but to join with them in a common cause. We are the first generation of parents to implement consciously the philosophy of blindness developed by the National Federation of the Blind, that is, that given the proper training and opportunity blindness can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance. We are the first generation of parents to begin to perceive that our blind children truly are members of a minority group and to come to grips with all that that implies.

And because we have gone to the blind for help and understanding, we are the first generation to be able truly to break away from the all-pervasive influence of the professionals. We are now free to become truly equal partners with the professionals in the education of our children.

In our homes we blaze new paths as we talk to our children about blindness, make blind friends who become role models for the whole family, and consciously strive to develop positive attitudes about blindness. Organizationally, we are defining our role as parents within the National Federation of the Blind, determining what kinds of projects and activities a state parent division or regional chapter ought to take on, learning how to take concerted action to solve the problems of low-quality, or non-existent, services for blind children, and much, much more.

The Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB now has 12 state divisions and two regional chapters, covering a total of 17 states. However, this does not begin to indicate the extent to which the National Federation of the Blind is actively concerned with the well-being of blind children. Over the past five years some 35 or more states have sponsored seminars for parents of blind children. In that same time frame almost every state affiliate has been involved with an issue of importance to the education of blind children.

For example, in Indiana the NFB, parents, and the school for the blind are fighting to keep a parent's right to choose between a public school or residential school education for his or her blind child. In Maine the fight has been to get new regulations which would require that blind kids have well-trained teachers of the blind--not just anyone off the street--to teach them the alternative skills of blindness.

And then there is the battle to get legislation to protect the right of legally blind children to learn Braille. This battle is being or has been waged in states from the East Coast-Maryland, New Jersey, Louisiana, etc.--to the West Coast Washington, Arizona, California, etc.

Below are some more reports of our activities from several of our NFB state parent divisions and regional parent chapters. Following those a list of the names, addresses, and feacbof our parent divisions or regional chapters. We urge parents, teachers, blind youth, and others interested in the education of blind children to contact the nearest NFB Parents Division/Chapter and to get involved!

If you do not have a division in your area and would like to find out more about joining the National Federation of the Blind, please contact:

Denise Mackenstadt, POBC Division/Chapter Development, 16224 122nd Avenue, N.E., Bothell, WA 98011; (206) 488-0628.


On February 24 and 25, 1989, the Northwest Chapter of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB is sponsoring a special leadership seminar for parents in the region. Conducting this seminar will be Jacquilyn Billey, President of the NFB of Connecticut. Topics for the seminar will be: the background of the NFB; philosophy of the NFB; policies of the NFB; parental commitment to the NFB--what can we expect from each other?; how to advocate for ourselves and others; and our goals and objectives as a parent division--what can and should we do from here?

This is the first parent-leadership seminar conducted by the Northwest Chapter. Everyone is excited and enthusiastic about the agenda and the opportunity to learn more about the NFB and how we can be an active and effective part of the organization.


Plans are underway for the POBC of Michigan to sponsor once again a day camp for blind children in the Detroit, Michigan, area. Last summer (1988) the POBC of the NFB of Michigan first sponsored this day camp in conjunction with Conant Gardens Church of Christ and the Lions Club. For $10 per child per week, the children receive transportation and lunch and a half-day filled with arts, crafts, field trips, games, and much more. For more information, contact Delores Scearce, President of the POBC of the NFB of Michigan. (See list below.)

The POBC of Michigan has been active in other ways. In the fall of 1988 the POBC of Michigan sponsored a statewide parents' seminar in Lansing based upon the same theme as our national parents' seminar in July ("On The Road To Independence"). It was so successful that plans are underway for another parent seminar to be held in Detroit this spring. Again, for more information, contact Delores Scearce.


The newly organized Division of Parents of the NFB in Arizona is off to a great start. Betty Shandrow, President, organized a Summer Day in the Park family picnic on June 25, 1988. Not only was there a good turnout and lots of fun, but the POBC of the NFB of Arizona got some well deserved publicity from an area newspaper and television station.


On March 27, 1988, Carol Coulter was elected president of the newly organized Midwest Chapter. The Midwest Chapter of the POBC encompasses the states of Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa.

The chapter got off to a good start as officers and members helped plan, organize, and conduct the annual Focus on Success seminar which is sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri with the cooperation with the Missouri Bureau for the Blind.

Focus on Success was a series of six seminars conducted over a three-day weekend in November. The seminars were for blind children, families of blind children, blind students, blind job seekers, blind senior citizens, and blind people with diabetes.

The Focus on Learning workshop, which was for blind children, had such activities as introduction to Braille, cane travel, mapping games, computer games, career chatter, etc. The Focus on the Family workshop, (for the grownups) included topics of discussion on educational options, the IEP process, and special skills area. The Focus on Fun workshop provided an assortment of games, movies, magic tricks, crafts, and other activities for the sighted brothers and sisters of blind children and other children of workshop guest speakers and participants.

It was a tremendously successful weekend and, of course, the Midwest Chapter looks forward to helping organize a Focus on Success seminar in the fall of 1989.


The Parent Divisions of the National Federation of the Blind and various NFB state affiliates continue to be extremely active in sponsoring seminars for parents of blind children. A few of the states which will be sponsoring seminars this spring are California, Maryland (April 22), Michigan, and New York. Other states, such as Massachusetts, Missouri, and Wisconsin will be holding seminars in the coming fall. For more information about NFB parent seminars in your area, or how you may help organize one for your area, please contact: Mary Willows, 3934 Kern Court,Pleasanton, CA 94566. (415) 846-6086.


Barbara Snow, president of the POBC of the NFB of New Mexico, informs us that the division is working out the details for a POBCsponsored Independent Living Skills Workshop for elementary and middle school blind children. With the help of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind and other community organizations, they hope to hold this two-week workshop sommetime in June, 1989. The workshop will emphasize daily living skills--table manners, grooming, cooking, etc. For more information contact Barbara Snow.


Congratulations go to the newly organized Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of Colorado. This is our newest parents division, and Juli Hunter has been elected President of this organization. We are especially pleased about this event because the NFB of Colorado is sponsoring our National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind this year. We know the new parent division of Colorado will give parents a warm welcome on Monday, July 3 at our national conference.

State Divisions and Regional Chapters

PARENTS OF BLIND CHILDREN (POBC) Division of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

-POBC of the NFB of Arizona
Betty Shandrow, President, 7760 N. Hopdown
Ave., Tucson, AZ 85741. (602) 742-5058

-Parents and Educators of Blind Children Division of the NFB of California
Mary Willows, President. Contact: NFB of
California, 5982 South Land Park Drive,
Sacramento, CA 95822. 1-800-345-2226 or

-POBC of the NFB of Colorado
Juli Hunter, President. Contact: NFB of
Colorado, 2232 S. Broadway, Denver, Co

-POBC of the NFB of Louisiana
Nick Danos, President. Contact: NFB of
Louisiana, 101 S. Trenton, Ruston, LA 71270.
Day: (318) 251-2891; Evening: (318) 251-1511

-POBC of the NFB of Maryland
Barbara Cheadle, President, 230 N. Beaumont
Ave., Baltimore, MD 21228. Day: (301) 6599314;
Evening: (301) 747-3472

-Parents and Educators of Blind Children
Division of the NFB of Massachusetts
Michael McDermutt, President. Contact:
NFB of Massachusetts, 72 Bank Street, Fall
River, MA 02720. (617) 679-8543

-POBC of the NFB of Michigan
Delores Scearce, President, 18618 Prevost,
Detroit, MI 48235. (313) 838-5109

-Midwest Chapter POBC/NFB (Missouri/Illinois/Iowa).
Carol Coulter, President, 2504
Glenn Drive, Columbia, MO 65201. (314) 4743226

-POBC of the NFB of Minnesota
Susan Baumgartener, President. Contact:
NFB of Minnesota, Suite 715 Chamber of
Commerce Bldg., 15 South Street, Minneapolis, RUN 55402. (612) 332-5414

-POBC of the NFB of New Mexico
Barbara Snow, President, 2108 Palomas, N.E.,
Albuquerque, NM 87110. (505) 266- 3340

-POBC of the NFB of North Carolina
Linda Shevlin, President, 217 "C" Millbrook
Drive, Raleigh, NC 27003. (919) 847- 3470

-Northwest Chapter POBC/NFB (Oregon/Washington)
Debbie Hamm, President, 2260 N.W. Calkins,
Roseburg, OR 97470. (503) 673-5510

-POBC of the NFB of Ohio
Colleen Roth, President, 1912 Tracy Road,
Northwood, OH 43169. (419) 661-9171

-POBC of the NFB of South Carolina
Sheila Compton, President. Contact: NFB of
South Carolina, 119 S. Kilbourne Rd., Columbia,
SC 29205. (803) 254-3777


President: Barbara Cheadle
230 N. Beaumont Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21228

First Vice-President: Ruby Ryles
12129 N.E. 162nd Place
Bothell, WA 98011

Second Vice-President: Susan Ford
3241 Walter Ave.
Maplewood, MO 63143

Secretary: Debbie Hamm
2260 N.W. Calkins
Roseburg, OR 97470

Treasurer: Beverly Helmboldt
28068 Van Dyke, Apt. 068
Warren, Ml 48093

Board Member: Betty Shandrow
7760 N. Hopdown Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85741

Board Member: Delores Scearce
18618 Prevost
Detroit, Ml 48235

(back) (contents) (next)