From Contributor to Editor: Monitoring a Movement

The hands of a female in a blue business suit with a white reading a braille display while speaking.

From Contributor to Editor: Monitoring a Movement

By Gary Wunder

When I came to the Federation, the Braille Monitor was the way folks across the nation talked. There was no live presidential release, no Voice of the Nation’s Blind, no Imagineering Our Future.

The Monitor said my chapter is important, my affiliate is important, but put them all together and we have something that looks like a powerful movement with more money, more expertise, and more possibilities to network and change lives. It said that we didn't always have to reinvent the wheel, but when we made that wheel better, we shared it in our pages.

What do we do with the Monitor? Share information, share problems, share hope, share real lived experiences, and show that, as difficult as they may be, it is better to live and to move and to engage than it is to be a prisoner without a shackle because one is blind. We start with a magazine we want to tell these stories. We then try to get you to meet the people behind those stories. Then we try to get you to author a story: author using your head, author by listening to your heart.

Topics include legislation, legal cases, education, technology, history, employment, upcoming events, and, of course, the best of our convention and presentations. 

How long may an article be? As long as it needs, but no longer. How short can an article be: no longer than it needs to be to tell its story. If a topic is tied to blindness, it's one we will run: what's it like to be a blind student, a blind senior, a blind vendor, a blind office worker, a blind computer programmer, a blind car body repairman. All of it we highlight, but we need more; we need you. What are the challenges you face. Do you need help in overcoming those challenges, or can you offer help? 

What formats do we offer? Braille, large print, audio on a flash drive, on the web as HTML, audio files, and a Word file. We are on NFB-NEWSLINE® and even as a podcast. As you can see, the Braille Monitor is our title, but you do not need to know Braille to be a subscriber, a reader, or a contributor. Braille is simply one of those tools that is so important to most blind people that we tie it to our publication name with pride! 

So to give you encouragement to write your first article, let me tell you how I wrote mine. When meeting with Former President Maurer in 1984 I told him we needed an article about all the problems in Missouri. He was acting as our legal counsel, and as a leader who figured Dr. Maurer was being paid, I was telling him to write it. Politely, of course, but I was making kind of a demand. He asked if I had a tape recorder. I produced one, put it on record, and gave it to him. He started pacing and writing. About four minutes into it, he pressed stop, handed me the machine, and said "Now Gary, you finish this. When you get it done, call and read it to me." Wouldn't you know, he was polite too, and just as much as I had, he was telling me to do something. So I worked hard on the article, worked up my courage, and called him. To my horror, he was out, so who came on the line but Dr. Jernigan. I tried to beg off, saying I could call back later. "Oh no, I edit the Monitor. Read it to me; Mr. Maurer won't mind. So I read it, he listened, he made one correction, changing as to because or sense, and said, "Now send this to me." I did, and, from then on, I was considered a contributor to the Monitor. The editors put a shine on everything I wrote, and the more they made me look good, the better I came to feel. That's the promise I make to you: send it, and together we'll make you proud. Together we'll share your story. Together we'll move the Federation forward!

Connect with Gary Wunder, the editor of this magazine since June of 2010, at [email protected] or extension 2360.

Read the latest issue or a past issue of the Braille Monitor.