INK PRINT EDITION
VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the Blind- -it is the blind speaking for themselves
N. F. B. Headquarters
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in Braille and distributed free to the blind by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, 257 South Spring Street, Los Angeles 12, California.
Ink-print edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California. Subscription rate--$3. 00 per year.
EDITOR: GEORGE CARD, 605 South Few Street, Madison, Wisconsin.
News items should be addressed to the Editor. Changes of address and subscriptions should be sent to the Berkeley headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind.
Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
1957 WHITE CANE WEEK REPORT
LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS OF THE BLIND: HOW TO BUILD AND STRENGTHEN THEM
by Kenneth Jernigan
by David Krause
THE HELPLESS BLIND
ANOTHER NFB PRESIDENT SPEAKS
THE EMPLOYMENT PICTURE
NEW BRAILLE PUBLICATION
NFB TAPES AND LOCAL CHAPTERS
FROM ANOTHER tenBROEK LETTER
HOME INDUSTRIES IN VERMONT
"FACE TO FACE"
NEW ORLEANS RESOLUTIONS
HERE AND THERE
I was absent in the East during the time the November issue was being prepared. The extremely well written articles-- "Was it Really Passed Unanimously" and the two dealing with the support of the Kennedy bill by the Western Conference of Home Teachers, were by Kenneth Jernigan. The "Bulletins" were the joint product of the Washington and Berkeley offices. I believe Dr. tenBroek wrote or assembled most of the rest of the material. My only contribution was the "Journal." The latter contained one misprint. It was stated that Dr. Cummings, of Delaware, was a former chairman of the AAWB Executive Committee. It should have read Legislative Committee.
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On the whole the results during the last campaign were very spotty. An unexpected, simultaneous drive by local Lions Clubs was largely responsible for ruining a 75,000 unit mailing in Buffalo and the returns in Oregon were quite disappointing. But new all-time highs were recorded in Missouri, California, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. The net amount deposited in the NFB treasury was the same as last year, $27,000, but the National White Cane Week Committee increased its working capital somewhat. A considerable portion of the working capital is available for loans without interest to State and local affiliates so that they can conduct mail campaigns. A number of States have developed their own types of fundraising and make a cash contribution in lieu of actual participation in White Cane Week. In terms of the amounts allocated to the National Federation, the final 1957 figures are as follows: Michigan (Muskegon Chapter), $29.50; Connecticut, $50 (a contribution); Kansas, $72.27; Illinois, $87.01; Colorado, $9,120; Arkansas, $100, (a contribution); Nebraska, $100, (a contribution); Vermont, $125.84; Iowa, $163.16; South Dakota, $178. 50; Oregon, $200, (a contribution); West Virginia, $227.88; Nevada, $265; Kentucky, $300, (a contribution); South Carolina, $324; Florida, $359.47; Arizona, $370.28; Texas, $420; Minnesota, $600, (a contribution); Louisiana, $612.65; Ohio, $675, (a contribution); Alabama, $750; Tennessee, $815.38; Washington, $1,000; Missouri, $2,313.77; Massachusetts, $2,928.22; California, $3,738.86; Wisconsin, $9,758.43; net receipts from national mailing, $3,033.24; total gross receipts, $29,689.72; minus unpaid balance of loans and materials not yet paid for, $1,633.74; total net receipts, $28,055.98.
Since 1949 Wisconsin has led all other States by a wide margin but this should not lead to unduly optimistic expectations in States where conditions are much less favorable. The Wisconsin White Cane Week Committee has no competition from local organizations of the blind. We are singularly blessed here by reason of the fact that there is not a single private agency or organization holding itself out to the public as rendering services to the blind. Our State agency is, in many respects, one of the best, and the Wisconsin Council of the Blind, deriving its revenue from White Cane Week, performs many of the services which private agencies claim to perform in other States. We made a half million mailing in 1949 and this gave us a contributor list which has assured us a dependable source of revenue ever since. We have only one Better Business Bureau and it has given us one hundred percent cooperation and on top of all this we have Steve Hopkins, a totally blind stand operator, who is not only the WCW chairman in one of our key organizations but has compiled the absolutely incredible record of having personally stuffed approximately 900,000 White Cane Week letters for us. He does much of this during slack periods at his stand in the Federal Building and often has a group of curious onlookers watching his flying fingers-which is good publicity in itself. We have some difficulty in convincing WCW workers in other States that Steve Hopkins is not the name we give to a Univac.
Returns from other fundraising mail campaigns during the third quarter of 1957 indicate that conditions are now somewhat more favorable than they were a year ago. Anyone who wishes more detailed information should write to the National White Cane Week Committee Office, Box 345, Madison, Wisconsin.
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An Address Delivered by Kenneth Jernigan
At the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind
Held in New Orleans, July 4, 1957
At the close of the Federation Convention last year in San Francisco a seminar was held for the discussion of general organizational problems. State and local leaders of the blind from all over the nation exchanged ideas and talked about ways of strengthening our movement and making it grow. One topic which received a great deal of attention was the question of how to build strong local organizations. It was generally recognized that the Federation can be no stronger at the State or national level than it is locally and that the very future of our movement is largely dependent upon the kind of local chapters which we now have and which we develop. My purpose here is to continue what was begun at the seminar, to discuss local organizations of the blind-how to build them, what projects they can undertake, their purpose for existence, and their relation to the State and the national organization.
In the first place Shakespeare's question, "What's in a name" has more than an academic significance for us. Our name-perhaps I should say our names-has presented us with a real problem. If you should go into a strange town in the United States tomorrow and ask a local member of Kiwanis where the Kiwanis met and when its next meeting would be held, he would, without hesitation, give you a local address and a particular date. If you should then register surprise and tell him that you thought Kiwanis was an international organization and that you had wanted the date and the place of the international convention, he would probably be considerably amazed and think you quite odd. He would likely tell you that Kiwanis is organized into local clubs, that the local clubs are grouped into districts, and that the districts combine to make up the international organization. He might then give you the time and the place of the next international convention and also of the district meeting if you were interested; but his first thought when you asked him about Kiwanis would not be of his local club as one organization, the district as another, and the international as still another. He would think of Kiwanis as one organization, and he would primarily think of it as his local club, with himself as a member.
If instead of asking him about the time and place of the next meeting, you should begin your conversation by making unkind or critical remarks about Kiwanis, he would resent your statements and take them personally. It would do you little good to explain to him that you did not mean him or his local club, but that you were referring to the district or the international. He would probably only become angrier at such a sophistry and tell you that a criticism of Kiwanis was a criticism of him.
The same is true of the American Legion, the Catholic Church, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and a hundred other organizations. There is uniformity of name and no confusion. With us, however, the situation is different. Recently I spoke at a meeting of a local chapter of one of the Federation's State affiliates. I began by posing a question to the group. "If," I asked, "someone had met you on your way to this meeting tonight and had inquired of you when and where the next meeting of the National Federation of the Blind would be held, what would you have told him?"
One man in the back of the room replied, "New Orleans, July 4."
I then asked the same question again, substituting this time the name of the State affiliate, and the same individual gave me the date and the place of the next State convention. He did not think of his local chapter meeting as being a meeting of the Federation or the State organization; yet, such was in reality the case.
The different local and state organizations of the blind throughout the country have grown up with all sorts of names, and it is not now practical, even if it were desirable, to achieve uniformity. It is necessary, however, for us to keep at a minimum the confusion which this multiplicity of name tends to create. If every meeting of every local chapter throughout the Federation is regarded as a local meeting of the National Federation and also of the State affiliate, the activities of the local will take on new meaning and importance.
This leads quite naturally into a discussion of specific projects which a local can undertake. Perhaps I should begin by describing a typical meeting which might occur in a local. The president calls the meeting to order. The secretary reads the minutes of the last meeting. The treasurer reports, giving the current bank balance and itemizing all money which has come in since the last meeting and all expenses. Then come committee reports. These can be interesting or dull depending upon how they are handled. If each separate project of the chapter is handled by a committee, which reports at every (or almost every) meeting, the broadest possible participation and interest can be achieved. The following are examples of committees which may be established:
1 . Membership Committee: Any chapter will be stronger for having a good membership committee. This committee should probably not contain fewer than three nor more than nine members. It will work better if it holds at least one formal meeting before each regular chapter meeting—probably about a week or ten days before. It should secure a list of the names, addresses, and (when possible) phone numbers of every known blind person in the area. This list should be divided into three sublists: members in good standing, delinquent members, and non-members.
Each member in good standing should receive either a phone call or a card or letter before every meeting, reminding him of the time and place and telling him something about the program. This will provide a project for the committee and will also stimulate interest among the general membership, giving each person a sense of belonging and participation.
Members who are not in good standing, who do not attend meetings, and are apparently losing interest in the organization, should receive special attention. Different ones of the committee may call or visit them. Writing will be less effective. Perhaps they are dissatisfied with something a chapter is doing. Perhaps they do not properly understand the real nature and purposes of the organized blind movement, what it is accomplishing and how it affects them personally. Perhaps they have never felt that they were really a part of the group or that they were needed. In any case, they should be talked with. If possible, a member of the committee might offer to come by the home of such a person on a meeting night and accompany him to the meeting.
The great problem with non-members is finding them. Local doctors may be willing to help-in some areas they make regular referrals to the Federation's affiliate. The postman and the minister are excellent sources of names. Sometimes (but only sometimes) the local welfare department will send out announcements of meetings along with aid checks. Notice of meetings in newspapers and on radio may be tried. The important thing is to make a determined and sustained effort to locate every blind person in the area. The rest is simply a matter of persistence and enthusiasm, coupled with a real understnding of our movement, its purposes and objectives.
One final thing should be said about membership and attendance. It will stimulate interest if the number of those present at each meeting is recorded in the minutes.
2. Committee on National Legislation: This should be separate from the committee on State legislation. Otherwise one of the two will be lost in the shuffle. It should be the duty of this committee to see that letters are written on Congressional bills affecting the blind, each bulletin from NFB headquarters should be studied carefully and acted upon promptly. In no single instance have all NFB affiliates throughout the nation ever combined to carry out a really intensive letter writing campaign on a Congressional bill. Instead, the response has always been excellent in some areas, spotty in others, and totally non-existent in far too many. A real, united intensive campaign by all of us in every locality would bring unbelievable results.
It should also be the duty of the committee on national legislation to try to become personally acquainted with their local Congressmen. In most instances it will be possible to arrange to talk with him when he comes home. He should be made aware of the NFB and of the fact that he has constituents who are members. The job in Washington will be much easier and much more successful if even a few affiliates will do this. Personal contact should also be made, of course, with United States Senators when they are in the locality and can be reached.
As one example of an immediate problem, consider our bills on the right of the blind to organize just introduced into the Senate (S. 2411) by Senator John F. Kennedy and into the House (H.R. 8609) by Congressman Walter Baring. The passage of these bills will be virtually assured if the local affiliates of the Federation will launch a real campaign of contacting their own local Congressmen; and I think we ought to do just that, immediately after we go home from this Convention.
3. Committee on State Legislation: It should be the duty of this committee to do on a State level what the committee on national legislation does on the national level. At least one major difference exists, however, between State and national legislation in so far as the local affiliate is concerned, and a word of caution should be said concerning this difference.
It is not as far to the State capitol as it is to Washington, and some locals, failing to get the State organization to support a particular measure which they want, introduce it and lobby for it on their own. This is necessarily a self-defeating practice, for if the blind have more than one voice in the legislative halls, their effectiveness is drastically curtailed if not destroyed. Especially when competing groups of blind persons go before the legislature and oppose each other, the results are diastrous. It is difficult enough under the most favorable of circumstances to get legislators to understand our needs and problems; and when the blind themselves are not agreed, the situation is likely to be hopeless.
If the State organization as a whole cannot be persuaded to sponsor a particular bill which a local chapter wants, or if the State organization votes to oppose a measure which a local strongly feels should be supported, the chapter will be well advised to swallow its impatience and go along with the majority. If its position has merit, the rest of the State organization can likely be brought around sooner or later; and in the meantime it is in a better position to demand and get support from the entire State organization on those matters in which it is in the majority. Not only is this a prime principle of survival, it is the very essence of true democracy.
4. Publicity Committee: Besides getting announcements of meetings on radio and good newspapers, publicizing special activities of the chapter, and seeing that occasional articles appear about successful blind persons in the community, this committee can undertake a variety of other activities.
It can place Federation material in local libraries and waiting rooms of doctors' offices. It can communicate from time to time with The Braille Monitor and other magazines. In short, it can and should be constantly on the lookout for new ways of acquainting the general public with the existence and philosophy of the organized blind movement.
5. There are several other committees-Ways and Means, Nominating, and the like -which are more or less standard with all local chapters and require no comment. It is rather with the specialized committee that I should now like to deal, for there are in every locality peculiar opportunities for chapter projects which should be recognized and developed. Each local affiliate will be able, with a little effort and ingenuity, to come up with its own list, and no two will be exactly alike. This is as it should be, for the situation varies from community to community, and the activities should fit the need. The following list is, therefore, not complete. It merely gives examples of the kinds of things which may be done:
a. Education of blind children: If there are public school programs for the education of blind children in the area, or if a residential school for the blind is near, or especially if both are at hand, a committee may be established to visit the schools and make a study and report. It is important that the members of the chapter know what is being done to educate blind children and how effectively.
b. Parents of blind children: Because of the widespread occurrence of retrolental fibroplasia in recent years there are blind children in almost every community in America. They are the future members of our organization, and we have a responsibility to see that their parents get a proper understanding of blindness and its problems. A committee may be established to seek out and visit parents and to work with them. The committee may wish to help them organize a parents group. Speakers can be provided from among the local blind for the meetings of this group. Parents should be given Federation material and thoroughly acquainted with the organization. Above all, they should be encouraged to attend meetings of the local affiliate and to realize that they have a stake in its activities since its actions now will affect so vitally their children's future.
c. Proofreading: In many communities there are groups which transcribe material into Braille, especially is this true of the Red Cross, certain Jewish groups and parents of blind children. Often they are very much in need of good proofreaders and will welcome the opportunity of developing a cooperative project.
d. Speaker's bureau: A committee can be established to contact local civic and church groups to get time on their programs for speakers from the chapter. If this is done on a continuing year-around -basis, not only will it acquaint many people with the existence and purposes of our movement, but it will also make fundraising much easier. Public education about blindness is an important aspect of our work, and the speaker's bureau is one of the most effective ways of bringing it about.
e. Visiting other chapters: If there are other affiliates of the State organization or of a neighboring State organization near enough to make such a project possible, intra-chapter visiting will be very worthwhile. A committee can be appointed to make the contacts and arrangements. Then, as many members as can do so should be encouraged to make the trips. Within the limits of its financial means, the chapter will do well to pay travel expenses for such occasions. The results will more than justify the expenditure-an interchange of ideas with another group; the observation of that group in its meetings; and, perhaps most important of all, an increased sense of being an integral part of the over-all blind movement.
f. Candy sale: Some local chapters have been quite successful with candy sales, especially at Mother's Day. Arrangements are made with the manufacturer, and especially designed boxes are procured. Consignments of the candy are placed in banks, stores, and especially in manufacturing establishments and other such business houses; and a telephone sales campaign is also usually carried on. A committee of chapters should be made responsible for placing the candy, conducting the telephone sales, and coordinating the work generally.
g. Federation greeting cards: Specially designed greeting cards, each individual box containing Federation literature and being stamped with the Federation emblem, were made available for the first time last year to local affiliates and individuals for re-sale. These cards are purchased from the national office of the Federation for seventy-five cents per box, twenty-five cents of which is net profit to the national. They are resold for $1.25 per box, with the chapter or the individual making 50 cents profit. They are attractive cards, well worth the purchase price; and those chapters which did not participate last year missed a good bet, both for fundraising and for advertising the organization. This year's cards are now available for purchase-as a matter of fact, they will be available from now on on a year-around basis. They may be ordered by writing to United Industries, 3828 Olive Street, St. Louis, Missouri.
h. Blood bank: A chapter can establish a blood bank, either exclusively for the use of members and their immediate families or for all blind persons in the area. Arrangements can usually be made with the local county blood bank, and a chapter committee can handle the details of securing donors, providing transportation, and making withdrawals.
i. NFB endowment fund: The long-range financial stability and strength of the national organization depend upon the endowment fund. Only a few local and State affiliates have so far established continuing projects for its support. One State organization levies an annual assessment from all members, another held a raffle at its last convention and raised more than one hundred dollars on a transistor radio. So far as I know, only three local chapters have, to the present time, established continuing projects. One makes a lump sum annual contribution. Another gives one half of the proceeds from the raffle which it holds at its regular monthly meetings (usually about ten dollars). The third makes a memorial contribution for each deceased member.
In time every local chapter should devise some regular means of support for the endowment. Our national organization can only be as strong as we make it.
j. White Cane projects: The immediate fundraising of the organized blind movement at both the State and the national levels is still largely a matter of the unordered greeting card mailings and White Cane Week. Most of the State affiliates carry on a White Cane mail campaign, but in addition, many local chapters have set up projects-raffles, dances, dinners, card parties, and similar activities. Usually the chapter keeps none of the proceeds from these White Cane projects, one half of the money going to the State organization and the rest to the national. This is not always the case, however.
k. Aid appeals: In almost every area there are blind persons who have been unjustly denied aid payments from the State or had their grants reduced. The chapter should establish a committee to acquaint these persons with their rights and to help them with appeals. Not only should the members of this committee study carefully their own State welfare laws and regulations, they should familiarize themselves with the Federal law and regulations. This is a difficult task, and most chapters will have to start from the beginning, but no other project can be more beneficial to the blind of a locality. The national office of the Federation will lend whatever help it can to any chapter establishing such a project.
l. Many other projects could be added to the list given here. Each chapter can and should develop its own. The important thing is not that we have uniformity, but that we have vitality and growth. In addition to its regular standing committees every chapter should always have several special committees working, and at least one new project under way.
To return now to the typical meeting of a local chapter which I began to outline earlier, the committee reports are usually followed by old and new business. Here a great variety of matters can be discussed: new projects which the group is considering, information from the national or State, or local happenings which affect the blind.
In one community a blind man was denied the right to serve on a jury. The matter was considered by the local affiliate, and it was decided to help him with an appeal to the courts if satisfactory arrangements could be made. In another case it was discovered that a large public building had excellent facilities for a vending stand but that the location had not been secured. A committee was established to investigate the matter, and if possible, to help a blind person get the place. In still another instance a fund appeal letter put out by a local sighted group to raise money to provide recreation for the blind was considered, and it was decided to write a letter of protest to the group, with copies to the mayor and the Better Business Bureau, explaining the harm which is done to the blind by appeals which portray blindness as helplessness. The chapter did not really expect the fund appeal letter to be withdrawn as it requested, but it felt that its protest might cause the next appeal to be more restrained.
After old and new business adjournment generally occurs, unless there is what might be called the day's program: a guest speaker, or refreshments, or some recreational activity. These items require some comment.
Guest speakers are not only desirable but necessary at State and national conventions, but they should be used sparingly on the local level. It all depends on the purpose. If there is really someone that the chapter members want to hear, enough to shorten or eliminate business-which they want and need to transact, then by all means the speaker. If on the other hand, a speaker is invited simply because it seems the thing to do-or worse yet, perish the thought, because a filler is needed and there is not enough business to take up the time, the danger signs are easy to read, and the chapter should examine itself carefully to see if revitalization is not in order.
As to dances, coffee and cake, dinners, and recreational activities generally, the question is once again one of purpose and proportion of chapter time and energy. An occasional dance or dinner, a picnic or other outing, can be a positive means of stimulating interest in the organization. Some chapters have dinner with every regular meeting, and many serve coffee or some other refreshment. If these things are properly subordinated, if they consume a relatively small amount of the total time and energy of the group, especially if they are kept from becoming the real purpose of the meetings, they may be pleasant and, in some instances, even help. When, however, these things are not kept properly subordinated, when the members begin to get fidgety to have the business over so they can get to the social hour, especially when the coffee and cake are regularly provided by some outside organization, which does all of the preparation and serving, then the danger sign is flashing again; and the chapter may find, too late, that it is helping to promote the very things it is trying to overcome.
Having discussed specific local projects and activities in such detail, I should now like to make these additional remarks:
1. The chapter should serve as a general clearing house. It should assume responsibility for seeing that the names, addresses, and changes of address of all known local blind persons (members and non-members alike) are on file in the State office of the organization. It should see that local blind persons receive NFB bulletins and that those who read Braille get Tlte Monitor. It should report local happenings affecting the blind to the State and the national, and in turn it should keep its members and other blind persons in the area informed of happenings elsewhere. The chapter is the first link in our bond of unity.
2. Some local leaders say that they have difficulty in raising funds when any part of the money is to go outside of the local area--that is, when a percentage is to go to the State or the national. Perhaps the problem is one of approach. If a local leader goes to a businessman in the community and tells him that the chapter is made up of local blind persons and that there is a State organization of the blind and also a national organization, and that "those organizations" do good work and that the local tries to help them when it can and with any money it can spare for that purpose, the businessman is more than likely to insist that "I want my money to stay in this community and be used exclusively for local blind persons." If, on the other hand, the local leader talks to the businessman about the organized blind movement as a single entity, if he draws no distinction between his chapter and the State and national but refers to them as one thing, the question of percentages will probably not occur at all. The businessman will be giving his check to the Federation, and he will know that it is helping the local blind.
Is it really that local businessmen, newspapers, radio, and television stations, and others want their money to be physically spent in the community, or is it rather that they want it spent anywhere so long as the local blind get the benefit? Obviously the latter is true, for no one would object to buying a Braille watch for a local blind man even though the money had to be spent in New York, or a Braille book even though it came from Kentucky. If the chapter should send the man to another State to investigate job possibilities for one of its members, or to represent one of them in a legal matter, or to learn about some new aid or piece of equipment, no one would object and if the chapter did not have enough money to pay all of the expenses and pooled its funds with the neighboring chapter to make the project possible, still no one would object. This, of course, is exactly what we have done by uniting into the National Federation of the Blind. Sometimes the problem is not with the local businessman but with the local leaders of the chapter. We must constantly bear in mind what the real problems of blindness are and how those problems can be solved. "Localitis" is one of the worst diseases which can occur in our movement.
3. A chapter should be willing to pay the reasonable expenses of its committees and officers in the performance of their duties. This should be done without so much red tape and bickering that incentive is stifled and interest killed. The purpose of fundraising is to improve the welfare of the blind, not merely to build larger and larger treasuries.
4. The tape recorder is coming to be more and more of a factor in the dissemination of information. Recognizing this, the national office of the Federation has launched a project to make available to anyone who is interested tapes of Federation materials, bulletins, and reports. A number of such tapes have already been prepared and are now available. They may be secured by writing to Dr. tenBroek at 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California. Local chapters should take full advantage of this opportunity. A tape recorder should be high on the list of musts for every chapter.
5. The broadest possible democracy should prevail at every level of our organization. In this connection chapter presidents should be careful to avoid the mistake of insisting too much on the strict observance of all of the technicalities of parliamentary procedure, text book style. If we were a high school debating society, the situation would be different; but as it is, we have better things to do with our time than to study the intricacies of ROBERTS RULES OF ORDER. If a chapter president is really fair in his presiding, if he sees that everyone has a chance to be heard and order is kept, and finally, if he moves the meeting along and gets the business transacted, the general membership will support him and he will get little criticism for avoiding the technicalities. Besides, he will be practicing that democracy, for few indeed are the people who are really well versed in the complicated maneuvers of parliamentary procedure. And parliamentary procedure can be used as a weapon to defeat the will of the majority. Fair play and common sense are the best foundations upon which to build a good organization.
6. At this Convention we have adopted an official Federation membership pin. Its cost to the national office of the Federation is seventy-five cents. As you know, we have voted to sell it to individual local members for one dollar and fifty cents, the seventy-five cents profit on each pin going into the endowment fund. Every member of the Federation throughout the entire country should be encouraged to buy and wear one of these pins, thus emphasizing in a visible way our unity of purpose as a part of the over-all organized blind movement. The Federation membership pins are now available and can be had by writing to the national office at 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California. They are available either as stick pins with safety clasps or as screw type lapel buttons.
During these remarks I have tried to summarize what I believe to be the principles of strong and effective local organization. Our Federation is now seventeen years old. It has grown from a handful of small State organizations in 1940 to the powerful force which it is today. It has given the blind, for the first time in history, an effective way of making known their needs and desires and working toward the solution of their problems.
Because of the very nature of our movement we have inevitably made many friends. Also, because of the very nature of our movement (and again inevitably) we have made enemies. Tl re are those who would like to see the Federation destroyed and they are at this very mo ient doing what they can to see that it is destroyed. It must be our task to keep the Federation strong-strong at the national level, strong at the State level, and above all, strong locally. It is no game we play, this business of organization. It is a matter as serious and important as human dignity itself, with the stakes as high as the independence and self-respect of us all.
We cannot all be the President of the national organization or a national board member. We cannot all be State presidents or State board members. We cannot all even be chapter presidents or board members. But we can all be workers in our local chapters, and by so doing, we can determine the very nature of the entire Federation. The Federation can never be weakened or destroyed unless it is first destroyed in the hearts of its local members.
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[This is the second in a series of articles written for a St. Louis newspaper by Jack and Alma Murphey and David Krause. Mr. Krause is the author of this particular installment.]
II. BLIND PEOPLE ARE ALL ALIKE
"I've noticed that blind people are always happy. Why is this?" I heard a radio commentator ask his blind guest this question during an interview recently. That same day I overheard two women discussing blind people while riding a streetcar. "You know," one said, "I feel so depressed when I am near blind people. They always seem so unhappy."
Now, quite obviously, both the radio commentator and the lady on the streetcar can't be speaking the facts. Actually, of course, neither of them was making a true statement. Blind people are merely people who do not see. As all individuals differ, blind people differ, too. I know some who are happy a great deal of the time; I also know those who are miserable most of the time. Unfortunately, however, generalizing and stereotyping seem to be a habit of many people when they discuss blindness. If a man happens to know a talented blind pianist, then to him all blind people have musical ability. If a woman should happen to know a blind girl who attends her church and who is of a rather religious nature, then she is very apt to pass along the word that blind people are religious. If a blind person exits from a bar obviously having had one too many, the odds are ten to one that before he goes a city block someone will be heard to say "Look at that drunken blind man. Isn't it a shame? I don't know why they all drink like that."
And so it goes; one generalization after another. For some strange reason, blind people are rarely thought of as individuals. And yet they are. If you were suddenly to lose your sight today-and it happens to a number of people every day in this country--you would not suddenly become a talented musician, an extremely religious person, a no-good drunk; nor would you suddenly become happy all the time or unhappy all the time. You would be the same person today without sight that you were yesterday with sight. The dictionary will tell you that blindness is simply a condition of not being able to see. It has nothing to do with molding moods, creating talent, or building character.
So hereafter, when you hear blind people being placed in one group or another, speak up and say, "You are generalizing, my friend. Blind people are not more alike than you and I are. Some are rich, some are poor; some are good, some are bad; some are capable, some are helpless; some are fun to be with, some are disgusting to be around." And you might also remind your well-meaning friend that he is doing a real disservice to the blind every time he stereotypes them. Increased job opportunities, a share in community responsibility, and a full, rich, active life will only come to blind people as individuals-not as a group. And as individuals it will only come as rapidly as stereotyped thinking concerning blind people disappears.
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[From an article entitled "Sightless Scientist," which appeared in We Tlie Blind, the organ of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind.]
At twenty-seven, Ted Glaser has participated in the design of nine massive computing systems, or "electronic brains." He never has seen any of them.... Sightless since the age of eight, he is an engineer with the Burroughs Corporation.... His colleagues regard him as one of the outstanding advanced designers of the "electric brain." Glaser's tools consist of a special Braille typewriter; a device that enables him to write or draw with an embossed tool on plastic sheets, and a "Braille blackboard "--a pegboard with inserted metal slugs bearing raised characters on each end. He can set up and erase equations as rapidly as sighted persons using a standard blackboard and chalk.
Glaser never has considered himself handicapped. Within a year after losing his sight he built a crystal radio set. The following year he built a super-heterodyne. Graduated from high school with honors, he matriculated at Dartmouth College. When he was graduated from there in 1951, he had won Phi Beta Kappa honors and the Thayer prize in mathematics....
While a junior at Dartmouth, Glaser met Ann Mclntyre, a student at Bryn Mawr. They were married after Ted's graduation, settled in Bloomfield, New Jersey, where Glaser was employed as a member of a planning group on large-scale electronic computers. Recently he was assigned to Burroughs' Electro Data Division in Pasadena, California as head of a special electronics engineering group.
Jack Polston is the totally blind chap who is now resuming his work as an electrician. He works regularly at the local union wage of three dollars and ninety cents an hour, performing every task and operation that other electricians do. He provided us with a very nice case a few months ago when, because of his blindness, he had trouble securing a contractor's license in California. He got his license. He is now providing us with a very nice case in the Federal Civil Service. Somehow the Federal Civil Service people don't quite believe that a blind man could be an electrician. Here is what his foreman has to say: "Jack Polston has worked for me as a journeyman wireman electrician. Jack, although totally blind, is capable of doing all the finish work on a house-such as, hang fixtures, install ranges, ovens, heaters, plugs and switches, etc. I can sincerely recommend him as an excellent and conscientious worker." Russell B. Baker, Foreman, Baum Electric Company, Garden Grove, California.
This is what his union business agent has to say: "We have found that Mr. Polston is very well qualified to do all types of housing work from the stages of laying the houses out, drilling, boxing the houses, pulling the romex cable in, making up of the splices, and the complete make-up and installation of the service equipment. On the completion of the houses, we have found that Mr. Polston can install all switches, plugs, fixtures, service equipment, etc. necessary for the completion of the home ready for occupancy. Mr. Polston has also done work in the wiring of gas stations since returning to us. We have contacted the two contractors for whom he has worked. The reports from both contractors are that his work is satisfactory one hundred percent and is output of work in comparison with other men on the job is equal." W. A. Ferguson, Business Manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local No. 441, Santa Ana, California.
Here are excerpts from a letter written by Mr. Polston to the International president of his union: "Since I became blind two years ago, I have learned many things about blindness that I did not formerly know. I have learned, for instance, that the real problems of blindness are not in the physical loss of sight but in the attitudes of others. Most people still regard blindness as helplessness. Very often the blind person himself is the victim of this public misconception. In my own case I feel that I would not now be working again as a journeyman electrician and otherwise leading a normal life if it had not been for the help and encouragement I received from the National Federation of the Blind. It was through this organization that I learned the many things blind persons are accomplishing and that blindness need not mean dependence and isolation.... I am now a member of the National Federation of the Blind and am actively working to help other blind persons." Mr. Polston concludes this letter with a strong appeal for support of the Kennedy bill by his fellow union members.
From the Kansas City Kansan: "Employ the Physically Handicapped" week begins today but for one man, James C. Couts, every week is devoted to finding jobs for the handicapped, and for the blind, in particular. Couts is chairman of Mayor Paul F. Mitchum's committee on employment for the handicapped and a member of Governor Docking's committee for the same purpose. Although he lost his eyesight a number of years ago, he has achieved success as a salesman and has found jobs for many other blind persons.
For two and one-half years he was employed in the tubing department of the North American assembly plant. Later he solicited printing, on a commission basis.... A new business association came when Couts went to the Office Machine Mart in Kansas City, Missouri to find a rebuilt IBM typewriter for one of his customers. He found the typewriter, saved his customer money on the purchase, and was hired as an agent by the company. He has been with this firm eight years. When he first started selling printing and office supplies, Couts traveled over his territory on buses and street cars, with the aid of a Seeing Eye dog. Now he covers the Kansas City area in a private car, with his wife as chauffeur. As Couts became acquainted with office managers and businessmen he discovered he could give a sales talk for the hiring of the blind as well as for the products he was selling. He learned where there were vacancies and helped place blind people in jobs. He has worked closely with S. A. Maust, manager of the Kansas State Employment service here, in these efforts....
Since 1944 James Couts has served on the board of directors of our Kansas affiliate, which has a membership of about 1,000. He has served four terms as president of his local chapter and is now its vice president. He is the only blind member on the board of directors of the Kansas Workshop for the Blind.
At the time he was employed at North American there were twenty-eight blind employees, and some operated drill presses, turret lathes, power machines and flaring machines. Because of this, Couts feels there were many employed in the sheltered workshop for the sightless who could work in a more competitive world if given a chance.
Couts finds his work and associations expanding and is now selling for several other firms, but he has found jobs for twenty blind persons so far and is still trying. He always finds time to help any local civic organization or club which wants to do something for the blind or for other handicapped persons in the way of activities, rehabilitation or job placement.
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In the course of his address to the annual conference of the National Federation of the Blind, (United Kingdom), as reported by The New Beacon, President John Wilson said, in part: The system which was constructed as a unique, specialized servi£ [British blind welfare] , has now been built into the framework of the Welfare State, so going far beyond the point which could have been reached by local and philanthropic action alone. But there is a danger that in this advance it may lose touch with the needs of the individual and that, in the broader setting, officials may fail to consult the blind because they have generalized rules about what the needs of the blind should be. An earlier generation of blind people resolutely refused to be patronized as charitable dependents. Today we must oppose with equal force any idea that the blind can be passive recipients of welfare. That can best be avoided if blind people, with the interest and capacity to do so, participate at every stage in the administration and planning of the system from which they benefit. For this reason, the Federation was formed eleven years ago, to enable its members to make a distinct and important contribution.... We have claimed that the younger blind people have a right to maximum help in education, rehabilitation, and employment and that the increasing number of people who lose their sight in old age should be cared for with dignity and understanding. But we have recognized that these rights imply obligations and that the blind should stand on their feet as contributing citizens, reaching forward to new achievements and resisting demands for unjustified privileges. We have sought to clear away every obstacle to full participation in the social and economic life of Britain but have recognized that, in the search for public understanding, the blind themselves must go more than half the way.... The 10,500 blind people who are at work in this country produce goods and services annually which are worth at least five million pounds. A third of the blind of working age are employed, more than half of them in competitive, unsubsidized jobs. Blind factory workers perform more than seven hundred different operations in thirty-five major industries. Some 1,100 blind persons are employed as typists, telephonists, and office executives, three hundred sixty of them in the Civil Service. Amongst more than five hundred blind professional people there are: thirty-seven clergymen, thirty-three lawyers, and two hundred sixty-six physiotherapists. All this may have started as a good cause but it has become a good national investment.... We have reason to be grateful to the press and radio, which now gives regular and sensible treatment to the subject of blindness which, but a few years ago, was regarded as difficult for popular presentation. Barriers of misunderstanding which have stood for centuries are being lowered and I sometimes think that the blind, who have suffered much in the past from public prejudice, might give a lead in opposing those prejudices of race and color which today embitter the relationships of nations and individuals.
By contrast with this general advance, it is disconcerting that so many organizations for the blind still find excuses for not admitting blind people into their councils of management. This, of course, is not true of the Ministries, the National Institute for the Blind and the regional bodies, which have long-standing records of participation with the blind. Our representatives who serve on the committees of these organizations have been given the fullest opportunity to take their part and to make their contribution. The Minister of Health, responding to a question asked on our behalf in Parliament last year, emphasized the importance he attached to such participation, but a regretable number of authorities take a different view. I was particularly surprised when the National Library, which has served the blind so effectively for so long, was unable to find a place on its governing body for a well-qualified representative of our Federation. Some organizations say that their constitutions prevent them from according representation to the blind; the answer to that is simple, they should change their constitutions. Others say that they have suffered in the past from unfair pressure from organizations; to them we would say that no agency which is doing a good job need fear our participation....
[Editor's Note: Apparently Mr. Wilson, who is himself the head of a great blind welfare agency, (The British Empire Society for the Blind), does not concur with the opposite numbers in the AAWB in the view that consultation with, and participation by the organized blind in programs that affect them "would impair the efficiency" of a long list of agency conducted programs.]
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In May, 1957, the American Foundation for the Blind estimated that there were, as of July 1, 1956, 332,000 persons who are legally blind. According to the OVR formula 83,200 (twenty-five percent) should now be in competitive employment. This figure could probably be raised to fifty percent if it were to include those blind persons who are potential candidates for home industry, sheltered workshop employment, and other types of work activities, in addition to those employed in the competitive labor market. The only available estimate of employed blind, from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, places this number at 21,500. The breakdown is as follows: 3,000 in commercial activities, including business enterprises and vending stands; 4,700 white collar and clerical workers; 2,000 professional and semi-professional; 6,000 as industrial; 3,300 in sheltered workshops; 2,500 in farming; 1,000 home workers; and 1,000 in other occupations. These figures total only 20,500 but this is the way the report appears as quoted in the September New Outlook for the Blind.
If we deduct from this figure the number admittedly employed in sheltered workshops, home industries and submarginal, subsidized vending stands, the figure is even less impressive. Our own survey indicates the number now employed in sheltered workshops to be somewhat larger than that reported to the OVR by State agencies and that, actually less than five percent of the 332,000 legally blind in the U. S. are now in competitive employment.
There is striking evidence that large scale rehabilitation of the blind could be effective. The annual OVR report covering the fiscal year of 1953 shows that nearly 3,700 blind persons were rehabilitated through the State-Federal program and approximately thirty percent of the blind rehabilitants were successfully employed in skilled or semi-skilled work, and nearly seventeen percent of them were filling professional, semi-professional or managerial positions. The earnings of 3,614 blind rehabilitants increased more than 680 percent, from the rate of about $654,600 a year before rehabilitation to about $5,113,000 a year on completion of the rehabilitation process. It has been estimated that for every dollar spent in rehabilitation, approximately ten dollars is returned to the national government in taxes paid by these rehabilitated workers.
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The following is an excerpt from a letter to Senator Kennedy written by a blind resident of Los Angeles:
Permit me, as a human being, as a citizen of the United States, and as a blind person, to thank you for introducing the bill (S. 2411) into the Senate. In my humble opinion, when this bill is enacted into law, it will become the "Emancipation Proclamation" for the blind of the United States.... I have worked in a sheltered shop! It sheltered me from my rights as a free laborer, it sheltered me from my rights to have representation from the benefits and privileges extended to all free laborers. It did, and it still does, provide abundant shelter to the management, directing board, and to the entire staff of overseers-of "The Lighthouse "-for it gave to these self-appointed "professional caretakers" security of position with ample financial rewards which they could not possibly command in competitive industry or in commerce. I am sure that a public hearing will not only prove but amplify the above statements of fact. I should be very glad to document, verify, and enlarge upon my experiences with so-called institutions for the blind.
I have managed... to escape from the tentacles of these self-appointed jailers of the blind. I am currently self-employed as a newsvendor, and expect to matriculate in Secondary Education at Los Angeles State College. However, I cannot forget those soul-crushing experiences in the workshop for the blind and so I will always identify myself with ... my brethren ... I therefore urge upon you to listen to my voice-as I add mine to theirs-to insist upon an immediate public hearing upon the bill which you have so humanely introduced and to work for its immediate passage ...
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The Braille Monitor welcomes the advent of Vol. I, No. 1 of the Bulletin of the Alumni Association of the California School for the Blind. A portion of the forward follows:
In response to widespread demand from blind persons for information regarding Alumni and Council activities and matters affecting the education of the blind, the Alumni Association of the California School for the Blind is issuing this Bulletin for the purpose of assisting in the work of the California Council of the Blind and promoting the cause of the organized blind. The Bulletin is pledged to the support of the Council and the National Federation of the Blind.
The undertaking of such a vital project by this Association is in keeping with the contributions which it has made in the past to the welfare of the blind and to the cause of their self-determination and self-expression through self-organization. From the turn of the century until the founding of the California Council of the Blind in 1934, it was the only active organization of the blind in California. During those years it carried the entire burden of the sponsorship of this State's legislation for the blind. It played the major role in establishing the California Council of the Blind and in keeping it independent of agency control.
And the dedication: "It is fitting that the first issue of this Bulletin be dedicated to Dr. Newell Perry, founder and president-emeritus of the California Council of the Blind, director-emeritus of advanced studies and inspiring teacher of the California School for the Blind, founder and first president of this association and leader and beloved friend of the blind everywhere. His genius could have brought him positions of distinction, influence, and wealth in the business world but he chose instead to devote his talents, his energies, and his life to the then seemingly hopeless and laborious task of leading the blind of his State out of the depths of dependence, defeatism, custodialism, and isolation towards opportunity, independence, and full participation in society as first class citizens.... Though we yet have far to go to reach our goal, we are confident that it can be reached by the method taught by this great man and by following the example of his devotion to that cause.
[Editor's note: Subscription is open to all at an annual rate of two dollars. Address B. V. Yturbide, 938 Rockdale Drive, San Francisco 27, California.]
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Dr. tenBroek writes to the president of a chapter in a midwestern State:
I am troubled by the passage in your letter in which you suggest that the tapes we have sent do not have a bearing on the problems of the blind in your area, or do not deal with public assistance or methods by which the blind can help themselves. In my view, this is exactly what these tapes do deal with. Several of them are talks dealing with the problems of the blind. These problems are not really different in the various parts of the country. When Congress passes a law dealing with the public assistance or rehabilitation of the blind, this, of course, affects the blind in your county as well as in every other county in the country. The laws that are passed dealing with the blind are consequently of the most immediate concern to the members of your club. The four tapes being distributed by the National Federation of the Blind deal with the problems of blindness in public assistance, rehabilitation, employment, and general discrimination, with the legislation, State and national, necessary to deal with these problems and with the National Federation of the Blind, which is the instrumentality through which the blind express their views about how the problems of blindness should be solved. Consequently nothing could be clearer that the matters contained on these tapes are of the utmost concern and the most immediate concern to the members of your chapter.
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Because the subjects to which he adverts are of such immediate and general interest, I am quoting the following excerpts from a letter written by our president to a correspondent in Oregon:
Perhaps we made a mistake in sending out the tapes rather than talking book records. When we first planned the tape project we did not expect it to be as large as it eventually turned out to be. If we had known its eventual size from the beginning, I think it probably would have been as cheap for us to procure talking book records; and there are probably many more talking book machines available around the country than there are tape recorders.... Our Oklahoma affiliate, the Oklahoma Federation of the Blind, has been distributing a bulletin on talking book records for a couple of years now. So far as I can discover our Oklahoma people find this a very satisfactory method of disseminating news and information.
In some parts of the country our affiliates have worked very hard to bring in the parents of blind children.... For a long time this was a critical matter and threatened to become more so. In some States organizations of parents of blind children appeared at State Legislatures to oppose the legislative program of our affiliates. They made a very powerful and emotional appeal and had a great deal of effect.... Now that retrolental fibroplasia has been virtually eliminated, difficulties from this source are diminishing. There are fewer blind children and fewer parents of blind children and consequently also fewer organizations of parents of blind children. Even though the problem may be diminishing it is still substantial and I agree with you that our affiliates should do all in their power to pull the parents of blind children into our local and State organizations. The world we help to carve out will be the world in which those blind children will live. This fact should have a very strong appeal indeed to the parents who care at all about the futures of their children.
... most of our affiliates and local chapters are very casual about strict membership rules. On the whole I think this is a good thing. What we want to do is bring the blind people into the movement, not find ways and means of excluding them. It is more important to encourage the continuance of some link or association than it is to insist on immediate expulsion the moment dues become delinquent, or there is a failure to discharge other obligations of membership immediately....
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It is somewhat startling in this day and age to find anyone seriously advancing the thesis that the sheltered workshop is a proper and suitable place of terminal employment for blind workers who have the ability to perform in competitive industry. Yet that is exactly what is attempted by Paul Olsen and Marian Held, both of the New York Association for the Blind, in a paper presented at a meeting of Group A of the AAWB during the national convention last July, in Chicago. This paper is reprinted in the September issue of the New Outlook for the Blind, as a part of a symposium on sheltered workshops.
The authors unblushingly proclaim the following as advantages enjoyed by any blind worker at the New York Lighthouse, which is operated by their agency: "He is assured of a steady job, vacations with sick leave, a good chance of advancement; he is not pitied or treated as an 'outsider;' has desirable working conditions, fringe benefits including insurance, hospitalization, pension; a relaxed feeling of ease because he is understood; he expends less nervous energy to 'keep up;' he has a feeling of security for the future; the management is personally interested and concerned about him and his job, and certain concessions are made in his behalf (yes, this is done and admitted); he has the comforting and sustaining mental attitude that his fellow-workers are similarly handicapped, and the good fellowship of being with those who have similar interests, and the fact that he is Working at the Lighthouse Industries as a matter of personal preference."
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I strongly disagree with many of the views expressed by writers for Tlie New Outlook for the Blind and with some of the views expressed editorially. Some of the articles make pretty dreary reading because of their verbosity and because meanings are so frequently obscured by the use of the absurd lingo that is affected by certain writers on social work. Nevertheless, some of the information contained in this magazine is so important, valuable, and timely that no serious student of the problems of the blind can afford to ignore The New Outlook.
An example very much in point is an article appearing in the September issue, written by Miss M. Roberta Townsend, Director of the Survey and Homework Department of National Industries for the Blind. This report describes and analyzes a two-year pilot program of industrial homework, just completed in Vermont. Vermont was chosen because it is a small, dominantly rural State where climate, topography, a scattered, sparse population and relatively limited industry make conditions about as unfavorable for a home industries program as it would be possible to find. Fifty percent of the handicapped workers are blind. The cost during the first year was five dollars for every dollar earned but by the end of the second year this had been reduced to eighty-five cents for every dollar earned. Training, procurement, inspection, pick-up and delivery were provided. The report is written with a clarity and economy which might well be emulated by some of Miss Townsend's co-contributors. On the whole her report is just about the most significant and helpful material I have ever come across in the difficult and baffling area of industrial homework.
The Braille edition of The New Outlook for the Blind costs one dollar and fifty cents per year and it may be ordered from the American Foundation for the Blind, 15 West 16th Street, New York 11, N. Y.
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The autobiography of a talented blind boy from India, educated at the Arkansas School for the Blind and Pomona College of California, was published in August and is already receiving high praise from literary critics. The book, FACE TO FACE, published by Little, Brown and Company at four dollars and fifty cents, is the story of Ved Mehta, the son of an Indian government official who lost his sight at the age of three and came to America at fourteen for the schooling he could not receive in his homeland. After graduating from Pomona with top honors, Mr. Mehta took courses at Harvard University and received a fellowship to Oxford University in England, where he is presently a graduate student.
The publishers requested Dr. tenBroek to comment on this book. He wrote, in part: "FACE TO FACE is easily one of the best narratives of personal experience with blindness that I have yet encountered. No one reading this book can doubt that Ved Mehta is a young man of extraordinary gifts and remarkable spirit. Most impressive of all is his persistent refusal, despite years of disappointment, to submit to the popular stereotype-whether in India or the West-of the 'helpless blind man.' In this respect his life story is a vivid testimonial to the normality and adaptability of those who happen to lack sight-given only the will to independence and the minimum chance to take advantage of it. It is to be hoped, however, that Mr. Mehta's personal triumph over the physical and social handicaps imposed by blindness will not be simply dismissed as 'exceptional.' The volume will have performed a signal service if a majority of readers find themselves saying: 'Here is proof of what a blind person can do,' rather than: 'Here is an exception to the rule that the blind as a class are incompetent.' "
[Editor's Note: It was largely through the good offices of the NFB President that Ved Mehta was enabled to obtain a scholarship at Pomona College, thus making possible the writing of this book and the launching of what promises to be a brilliant career.]
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Basic NFB policies are adopted or re-affirmed during the national Convention each year and represent the will of the majority after everyone has had an opportunity to participate in the discussion. They are embodied in resolutions. At New Orleans such resolutions were adopted, all unanimously. Here are two more of them:
Whereas, experience with public assistance for the blind in those States which have had legal residence requirements as conditions of eligibility has demonstrated that harmful effect or increased financial burden results from the abolition of residence requirements in State aid-to-the-blind laws; and: Whereas, blind people who move across State borders are motivated almost exclusively by the desire to search for economic opportunity or for living conditions and climate more suitable to their health; and: Whereas, residence requirements now existing in State programs of public assistance for blind deny to individuals who must move across State lines the right of free movement throughout the nation which should be a common right of all persons living under the American system; and: Whereas, Congressman Walter S. Baring of Nevada has sponsored in the House of Representatives a bill, H.R. 8473, which would prohibit any residence requirements in any State public assistance program for the blind which receives Federal financial participation under title X of the Social Security Act, Now Therefore Be It Resolved, etc....,
That, strong support H.R. 8473 be given by the National Federation of the Blind, and the Congress is herewith urged to adopt the provisions of H.R. 8473 in order to add another element of freedom which the blind may exercise in their search for opportunity and economic equality; and:
Further Be It Resolved That this Convention herewith express to Congressman Walter S. Baring its deep appreciation for the outstanding leadership and far-sightedness he has shown by his sponsorship of H.R. 8473.
Whereas, the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is charged with the responsibility for developing and executing programs of rehabilitation for the blind in which Federal funds are utilized; and: Whereas, in the planning and execution of government programs it is consistently necessary for agencies in the executive branch of the government to consult with respresentatives from the public in the formulation of recommendations for legislation and in the adoption, promulgation and reviewing of administrative policies and practices to determine the adequacy of programs and to improve their functioning; and: Whereas, the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation has, as a matter of routine procedure sought the advice and assistance of State and private agencies concerned with rehabilitation of the blind, and has consistently and conspicuously failed to consult and advise with representatives elected by organizations of the blind themselves; and: Whereas, this behavior reveals that the responsible persons in the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation are more concerned with safeguarding the interests of persons employed in, or administering programs for the blind as professional workers than in giving fair consideration to the views and evaluations of the blind people who are the recipients of rehabilitation services; and: Whereas, the development and perfection of thoroughgoing rehabilitation programs requires the participation of those who receive the services as well as those who administer them; Now Therefore Be It Resolved, etc....,
That this Convention condemns as shortsighted and contrary to good public policy the failure of the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to adopt systematic procedures for consultation with the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind State and other organizations of the blind; and:
Further Be It Resolved that this Convention, representing forty-three statewide organizations of the blind and many thousands of blind persons from all parts of the country, herewith calls upon the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to adopt the policy of consistent consultation with the authorized representatives of the National Federation of the Blind on all phases of the government's rehabilitation programs which affect the blind.
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At its annual election meeting last September the Rhode Island Federation of the Blind elected Mr. Raymond Grover, 94 Prairie Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island as its new State president.
It is now reported that Mr. George Dauth, Executive Secretary of the Pennsylvania Council for the Blind (the State agency), is retiring from that position on December 5.
It is reported that a company union type organization of blind stand operators in Pennsylvania, whose members prefer security through subservience to independence through united action, has now been formed. There have been indications in a number of other States of a trend by certain agencies toward the adoption of the tried and true device of the company union. We may expect to see the formation of organizations purporting to be of the blind but whose docile and submissive members will be completely dominated by those who call themselves "workers for the blind" but who are really actuated by motives of self-interest and a fear that a strong, bona fide organization of the blind would expose their incompetence and self-service.
On October 3, Jack Swager, now serving his eighth term as president of our Nebraska affiliate, was the recipient of the Omaha Exchange-Club's second annual Book of Golden Deeds award. It is given to a citizen who performs unselfishly and without thought of gain in helping his fellow man.
From the Iowa Bulletin: Judge Frank Oertel of Keokuk, Iowa, for a long time prominent in Iowa politics, passed away Wednesday, September 4.... He was blind from childhood.
The Iowa Commission for the Blind will open a branch office in Cedar Rapids about January first. Several employees will be added to the staff including another home teacher and a vending stand supervisor.
In this same issue of the Iowa Bulletin Editor Klontz refers to the article in the September Zeigler's which describes the setup of the Canadian Council of the Blind-which is entirely supported by the largest agency in Canada. He comments at the end: "The report failed to tell of the difficulties experienced by the CCB in trying to maintain any independence."
At the NFB Convention in July a resolution was unanimously adopted requesting each State to set up a committee to cooperate actively in all efforts toward the enactment of NFB sponsored legislation at Washington. How about your State? Members of the Iowa Committee are Tom Jantzen, Floyd Moore and Bill Klontz. Thousands of letters to Senator Lister Hill and members of his Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee are going to be needed very soon. A vigorous committee in every State is almost indispensable to insure that each State carries its full share of responsibility for this tremendous mass demonstration of rank and file sentiment among the blind. We must impress Senator Hill and his Committee with the fact that the overwhelming majority of blind people want S. 2411 to receive an early and adequate hearing.
The Medical Division of the Federal Civil Service has just removed the requirement of good distance vision from the qualifications previously listed for the position of occupational therapist with the Federal Government.This position is now, for the first time, open to the blind.
Father Carroll on the "darkness and light" theme-(an excerpt from a published letter). "As for the darkness, night concept, it is this very colorful imagery, or rather it is the very fact that this imagery is so colorful that does harm. It is the emotional color that is to blame. The truth of the matter is that blind persons do not live in darkness. Any person who once had sight and lost it can tell you that his sense is not one of night or dark. The person who never had sight had been made by the public to believe that he lives in darkness, and he must accept it since he has no darkness to compare it with."
Blind vending stand operators in Pennsylvania and Michigan have expressed vehement opposition to the installation of automatic vending machines by their respective State agencies in locations where they will be in direct competition with the stands. Even though the small commissions from these machines will supposedly be turned back to the operators, the latter feel that they could make a much higher profit through over-the-counter-sales. In Pennsylvania the State agency has been instrumental in the formation of a new organization, made up of meek and tractable operators, who will do its bidding. In Lansing, Michigan the State agency has reversed its position and announced that it is abandoning its plan to install vending machines. In Wisconsin and in a number of other States the Rehabilitation Division is purchasing vending machines and turning them over to the blind stand operators as a part of their regular equipment, thus making it possible for them to reap the full profit on every sale.
John Taylor was a guest speaker at the thirtieth anniversary meeting of the Maryland Brotherhood of the Blind, October 27.
From the Colorado F. B. Bulletin: And then it has been noised around that somewhere there is a service which trains and places blind workers. Exact information on this subject appears to be of an illusive nature and difficult to thresh out from the chaff of propaganda. The amazing thing is that people are alleged to have been placed and yet they are not missed from the ranks of the unemployed.
And again, (commenting on the collapse of the Post Office charges in the matter of the greeting card mailings): This was not unexpected since it has long been known that certain individuals were sounding off for no other reason than to smear the NFB in justification of their own ulterior motives.... Where may we ask, is the "overwhelming evidence" boasted so loudly by some conniving but misguided little men?...
The Bulletin also chronicles the marriage of Sam Matzner and Grace Venable. Mr. Matzner is president of the Colorado Springs chapter and vice-president of the State organization. A similar item notes the completion of the first year of the Denver chapter's blood bank project.
From the Independent Forum: Since the beginning of 1957 the North Carolina Federation of the Blind has continued to press for access to the minutes of the quarterly meetings of the Commission for the Blind. Though these minutes are public records under the statutes of North Carolina, Mr. Henry A. Wood, Executive Secretary of the Commission for the Blind, has repeatedly refused to make them available to the organized blind people of the State or to their attorney, Mr. Robert S. Cahoon of Greensboro. During the week of July 22 Attorney Cahoon in the name of the North Carolina Federation of the Blind appealed to Wake County Superior Court to order Mr. Wood to carry out his responsibilities to the citizens of North Carolina as prescribed by the General Statutes of our State....
And again: During its seven months of operation the NCFB Credit Union has demonstrated in an astounding manner what can be accomplished through the cooperative efforts of a group of blind North Carolina citizens of modest means. In pooling their own resources, these people have created a business which makes it possible for members of the North Carolina Federation of the Blind and their immediate families to save money safely and to borrow money when there is a need. Moreover, this democratic venture renders to its members the feeling of participation, a service which cannot be measured in dollars and cents....
The Denver Chapter, at its August business meeting, voted to set aside five percent of all money secured by local fundraising projects, with the following designations-three percent for the NFB Endowment Fund and two percent for The Braille Monitor.
Our Iowa affiliate scored a signal triumph during the recent session of the Iowa State Legislature when it obtained an amendment modifying the archaic restriction on travel from county to county by blind recipients of public assistance. Formerly a two-year residence was necessary in order to secure aid from the county to which a blind person had removed. Even now a six-months' residence is required and this is bad enough but certainly much better than the former situation. As is well known the NFB vigorously opposes all legislation restricting the freedom of movement of blind people.
The current issue of the White Cane Journal announces the resignation of Laura McCarty as Supervisor of Services to the Blind and the appointment of Manuel Cajero to that position; also the resignation of Edgar Mills, Superintendent of the Workshop in Phoenix and his replacement by former shop foreman, James Gaddick. An additional rehabilitation counselor has been assigned to the East Phoenix area. He is Mr. Fred Payne, a blinded veteran, who possesses the all too rare advantage of having himself worked in industry.
Editor Richard Stotera does his usual incisive job in the writing of the lead article. Here is a little of it:
Blind persons who have sought the rehabilitation necessary to make them useful citizens have in too many instances found that agencies charged with the responsibility of helping them are always about to do something. . . . Intelligent, determined blind men and women in all walks of life and in all fields of endeavor are demonstrating that sightless people can engage successfully in practically any type of work. Employers and the general public are rapidly learning that physical blindness definitely does not destine one for a life of idleness and dependence upon charity. The blind, too, are learning that opportunity for self-support and respectability is not lacking. At the same time they are learning that tremendous effort on their part is even more necessary than it was in time past... The blind of Arizona have had long and bitter experience with the attitude of procrastination on the part of those whose responsibility it is to carry out a program of rehabilitation. Many have given in to an attitude of hopelessness in regard to successful rehabilitation in the State.
The ceaseless forward movement of the organized blind throughout the country however, is giving courage and hope to all of us. We cannot and will not henceforth accept good intention as a substitute for real progress. The taxpayers of this State and the legislators have all too often assumed or been led to believe that their good intentions toward the blind were being effectively carried out by the State Welfare Department. Regardless of sincerity on the part of some individual staff members of the department, the total result thus far of original intention is so minute as to be almost imperceptible....
Mr. Stotera also quotes from a letter written by Mr. Ken Hildreth, Commissioner of the State Department of Public Welfare, in response to a letter from Joe Abel, AFB State president, in which Joe asked about possible changes in policy: "It seems to me that we are already putting a great deal of stress on the rehabilitation of the blind. Certainly it is the policy of the board as well as myself to move as many blind as possible into self-sustaining roles when it can be done without hardship to them." Dick comments: "The last part of this statement seems difficult to interpret. Undoubtedly there are vast numbers of people who consider work a hardship, though most will admit that regular remuneration helps to ease the pain. There are many blind people in Arizona who would willingly risk any hardship involved in a regular job with a life-size pay check attached."
Mr. Hildreth's letter goes on to say: "We have just recently arranged with the Employment Service to provide a careful evaluation of the better workers at the workshop, so they can give more attention to these very fine workers in the placement program." Mr. Stotera's comment: "It might be pointed out that the shop in Phoenix was originally set up several years ago as a training center. It has, however, apparently not accomplished the original purpose since no one knows of any blind worker having been moved out of it into industry."
The Commissioner says further, "I do not feel that it does the blind any good to adopt an 'optimistic outlook' in the matter of industrial placements. Neither does this mean that we accept the status quo. I merely consider it one of a number of problems facing us, and one that certainly will involve some long, patient working out." And again Stotera: "We have in the Commissioner's statements what seems, at best, an unenthusiastic approach to the problem of rehabilitation and employment of Arizona's blind.... From the point of view of those employable blind in the State who have waited years for adequate training and placement, a justifiable attitude of doubt may still be maintained...."
From the Bulletin of the Alumni Association of the California School for the Blind: In the spring of this year the California Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation obtained a change in the job requirements for the position of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to require possession of a driver's license. This will, of course, prevent any blind person from taking an examination for, or filling such a job.
The job for which a driver's license is now required is that of general Rehabilitation Counselor which handles placement of those with handicaps other than blindness. The requirement has not been included for those who work exclusively with the blind. It is this very fact that spotlights the discriminatory effect of the rule. Blind counselors have demonstrated beyond question their ability in rehabilitation work with the blind. The driver's license requirement now closes to the blind the much larger field of general rehabilitation. Such an action seems particularly incongruous in an agency whose legal duty it is to promote the placement of handicapped persons. It will tend to bolster the stereotype that blind professionals are good only for work for the blind. It is setting a bad rather than a good example for private industry and other State agencies. The California Council of the Blind has held a series of conferences with top rehabilitation and personnel officials in an endeavor to have the driver's license requirement eliminated. To date rehabilitation has declined to change its position, although the Council is continuing its efforts at persuasion. If these efforts prove unsuccessful, the Council will take its case to the State Personnel Board, probably on December 21, in San Francisco.
[Editor's Note: The writer of the above might have added that the blind have also proved successful in rehabilitation work with the sighted-especially in job placement-an outstanding example being Charles Brammer, of Denver.]
The Tennessee Federation of the Blind is vigorously protesting the arbitrary transfer of a blind counselor who was active in the successful effort of the Memphis Chapter to secure the dismissal of an incompetent rehabilitation worker in that area. Our Tennessee affiliate regards this arbitrary transfer as unquestionably an act of retaliation. The victim was also ordered to become inactive in the TFB and to join a group which submissively rubberstamps all State agency policies.
Mrs. Darleen McGraw, energetic and resourceful president of our Wyoming affiliate, has set a splendid example to all of us by persuading the Governor of her State to write to every member of the Wyoming congressional delegation and personally to solicit their support for the Kennedy-Baring bill.
We have all been saddened by the news of the death of John Cashman, president of the Nevada Federation of the Blind. Mr. Cashman was a loyal and devoted worker and his loss will be sorely felt. He has been succeeded by the former vice-president, Mrs. Audrey Bascom, 110 South 28th, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Unofficial word has been received that the Utah Association for the Blind voted overwhelmingly on October 26 to apply for affiliation and thus to become the 44th State member of the NFB. Details in the next issue.
On October 17 Dr. tenBroek was the guest of honor and delivered the banquet speech at a festive dinner given by the Springfield, Massachussetts Chapter in celebration of its ninth anniversary.
Harold Campbell, of Hobson, Montana, who attended the New Orleans Convention as an official delegate, has been re-elected to a two-year term as State president of the Montana Association for the Blind.
From the Montana Observer: One of the highlights of the Summer School each year is the trip by chartered Greyhound bus through Yellowstone National Park.... Dave Gordon, Chief Naturalist for the Park for more than a quarter of a century, supplies such vivid word pictures of the sights to be seen that one student remarked something to this effect: "I've been through the Park several times, but I saw more today than I ever did before I went blind." ...
As we go to press word comes that both Senator Hill and Congressman Elliott have agreed to schedule full-dress hearings on the Kennedy-Baring Bill, perhaps lasting from two to three days. A meeting of NFB leaders is now tentatively scheduled for December 5, in Washington, D. C, to plan strategy.
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