INK PRINT EDITION
VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speak ing for the blind--it is the blind speaking for themselves
N. F. B. Headquarters
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010
with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
FEDERATION LEADER APPOINTED DIRECTOR OF IOWA COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND
A Tremendous Letter
Number of Baring Co-Sponsors Increases to Forty-one
Preliminary Convention Bulletin
No Seminar at Boston
Don't Miss It
NFB Seeks to End Federal Veto Power Over Humane State Laws
The Moulder Bill H. R. 10915
Skilcraft's Detroit Operation Collapses
MISCONCEPTIONS -- "TEN MILLION CIGARETTE TABS" David Krause
Employment of the Handicapped in West Germany
Letter to a BVA Leader
A State President Speaks
Skepticism in New York
A MAN WITHOUT A LIBRARY
by B. V. Yturbide
A Letter to Ed Murrow
"St. Peter, Don't You Call Me"
McConoughey Makes Good
Home Teachers and Cane Travel
World Council Policy
I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE
by Stanley Oliver
tenBroek Law Article Praised
by California Supreme Court
Skylark Flies Again
New Braille Music Manual
A. P. H. Announces New Process for Embossing Braille Books in Small Quantities
A Splendid Beginning
More About Our New Jersey Affiliate
A Foot in the Door
Blind of Kansas Mourn Beloved Leader
AGENCY LEADERS MAKE ALL-OUT ATTACK AGAINST RIGHT -TO-ORGANIZE BILL
by Jacobus tenBroek
Here and There
FEDERATION LEADER APPOINTED DIRECTOR OF IOWA COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND
by Jacobus tenBroek
Last month Kenneth Jernigan, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind, was appointed Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. This appointment was not only appropriate, it was significant.
In his new position Mr. Jernigan has charge of all Iowa programs for the blind with the exception of public assistance and the State school for the blind. Among the services under his direction are: vocational rehabilitation, vending stands, home industries, home teaching, the distribution of talking books, and registration of blind persons in the State.
There are, of course, many Federationists who hold positions in State and other administrative agencies. Some of these are the directors of their agencies. There are, in addition, numerous agency heads who are favorably disposed toward the organized blind. They did not go from the movement to their administrative positions; they came to, or, at least, towards the movement from an intelligent discharge of their administrative responsibilities. The distinctive factor in the Jernigan appointment is that now a National Federation leader and member of its Board of Directors has been selected to serve as the head of a State agency for the blind. Mr. Jernigan's appointment is indeed a tribute to the independent and enlightened judgment of the Iowa Commission.
There is a good deal of loose and self-adulatory talk among certain AAWB leaders about their professional status and an alleged lack of "professionalism" among the organized blind. This talk may be examined from two sides: how "professional" are the agency leaders and workers; how "unprofessional" are the organized blind. Whatever answer may be given to the first question, there are many in the organized blind movement whose knowledge about blindness and the substance of administration of programs for the blind can only be described as professional. So too as to their attitudes, their calibre, their bearing and, in many cases, their careers and duties. In the present case, Kenneth Jernigan has been a "professional, " in all these senses of the term for many years.
The honor and the responsibility have especially fittingly gone to Kenneth Jernigan. Few readers of The Monitor and fewer members of the Federation need to be reminded of the character of this man and of the quality of his achievements. Since his entrance into the movement nearly a decade ago--and especially since his election to the NFB Board of Directors in 1952--no one of us has labored more unstintingly or battled more courageously for the advancement of our common cause.
To enumerate all of Kenneth's contributions would be to trespass upon space limitations. I might recount a few of the highlights of his career as a Federationist leader. He is, first of all, the only member who has served on all the NFB's survey teams--those which canvassed the State programs for the blind of Colorado and Arkansas in 1955 and of Nevada in 1956, at the request of their respective governors, and set in motion a chain reaction of liberalization and reform whose effects will be felt for years to come. Kenneth also was the chairman of two of our most thoroughly successful national Conventions--those of Nashville in 1952 and San Francisco in 1956. He has given selflessly of his time and inexhaustible energy to cross and recross the country in the interests of Federation unity, harmony and democracy--and has performed miracles of diplomacy and arbitration in situations which might best be described as those of peace-making, problem- solving and trouble-shooting. More lastingly important even than this has been his consistent contribution to the over-all leadership, expansion and sustained course of the movement.
Much of Kenneth's most valuable activity on our behalf, indeed, has been carried on behind the scenes. It is not widely known, for example, that he is the author of those indispensable guidebooks of our movement: "What is the National Federation of the Blind?" and "Who Are the Blind Who Lead the Blind?" He is, additionally, the author of many Fed- eration documents that have gone "un-bylined. " He has represented the NFB, informally as well as formally, at numerous outside conventions and gatherings throughout the country. His speeches and reports on the floor of the national Convention, year in and year out, have been both widely anticipated events and uniformly applauded successes. One of these in particular requires special mention: his address before the 1957 Convention on "Programs for Local Chapters of the Federation." Few statements have more correctly portrayed and deeply instilled the conception of the Federation- made up as it is of local clubs, State affiliates, conventions, officers and headquarters--as a single unified entity each part of which is the concern, responsibility and local benefit of every individual member. By popular demand this analysis has been Brailled, taped, mimeographed and distributed to Federationists throughout the length and breadth of the land. His 1955 study, "Employment of the Blind in the Teaching Profession, " carried out for the California affiliate of the Federation, has been eagerly and broadly applied throughout the country in the increasingly successful campaign to break down the barriers to the hiring of blind teachers in the public schools. In fact, there is scarcely any aspect of our national movement over the past half-dozen years which has not benefited from the alert counsel and untiring devotion of time and talent which Ken has so willingly given.
I have said that his appointment to the directorship of the Iowa Commission is a tribute to the members of that enlightened agency. It is no less a tribute to the membership of the Iowa Association of the Blind, under the able leadership of Dr. H. F. Schluntz of Keystone, Iowa.
But in the end, of course, the credit for the appointment must go mainly to Ken Jernigan. His objective qualifications include upwards of a decade of counseling, administering, coordinating, teaching, and public relations, first with the School for the Blind in Nashville, Tennessee, and after 1953 with the Orientation Center for the Adult Blind in Oakland, California. But to these formal qualifications must be added such vital statistics as the following:
Totally blind from birth, raised on a rural farm in Tennessee and educated in the Nashville School for the Blind, Kenneth went on to take a bachelor's degree in social science from the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute--graduating with the highest grades ever made by any student enrolled at the institution. In addition he somehow found time to become president of the Speech Activities Club; president of the Social Science Club; member of Cabinet Tech Christian Association; member of Pi Kappa Delta fraternity; winner of first prizes in Extemporaneous Speaking and Original Oratory at a Southeastern conference of the fraternity; to get a poem published in a nation-wide anthology of college poetry, and to be elected to "Who's Who Among Students in Colleges and Universities of America. "
Following his graduation from Tennessee Polytechnic, Ken went on to take a Master's Degree in English from Peabody College in Nashville, plus an additional year of graduate study. Once again he found enough time aside from his studies to head various societies and win a variety of awards, including the Capt. Charles W. Browne Award in 1949.
I shall pass over lightly his brief career as a professional wrestler during the summer of 1945; his operation of a furniture shop the summer before, where he built all the furniture and managed the entire business; and his two-year livelihood as an insurance salesman prior to joining the staff of the Tennessee School for the Blind. But these diverse adventures and apprenticeships of his early career do serve graphically to illustrate Ken Jernigan's extraordinary vitality of personality and equally extraordinary drive and determination.
This appointment poses a critical question and gives the proper answer to it. Will the NFB give orders to Jernigan the administrator or, alternatively, will Jernigan the administrator change his role in the Federation?
To pose this question at all presupposes some basic fallacies. It presupposes that the organized blind are on one side of the line and the Agencies are on the other. It presupposes that the function of the agencies is to rule and that of the blind to obey. It presupposes that the agencies are professional and that the blind are unprofessional; that the agencies know what is best for the blind and the blind should accept it without question; that the agencies are custodians and caretakers and the blind are wards and charitable beneficiaries; that the agencies are the interpreters of the blind to the sighted community and the blind are incapable of speaking for themselves; that agencies exist because the blind are not full-fledged citizens with the right to compete for a home, a job and to discharge the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. These are basic fallacies.
The basic truth is that there is no disharmony, conflict or incompatibility between the two posts. The basic truth is that the blind are citizens, that they are not wards, that they are capable of speaking for themselves and that they should and must be integrated into the governmental processes which evolve, structure and administer programs bearing upon their welfare. The basic truth is that agencies administering these programs, committed to the democratic view of clients as human beings and as citizens and joining them in the full expression of their capabilities, have a vital role to play.
There is thus no matter of choosing between two "masters" moving in different directions. The common object can best be achieved through a close collaboration between the blind and the agencies serving them. The object cannot be achieved without that collaboration. Separate sources of authority, organizational patterns and particular responsibilities do not necessarily, and in this case do not properly, entail conflicting commitments. Jernigan the Federation leader and Jernigan the administrator of programs in Iowa are therefore at one.
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(Ed. Note: Senator Lister Hill, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Education, is continuing to receive many letters from the blind, expressing appreciation and gratitude for the sympathetic and cooperative attitude he has displayed toward S-2411, and urging him to schedule an early hearing. Thus far the consternation caused by the two Russian Sputniks has brought forth a flood of legislation intended to bring about far-reaching reforms in our educational system and these bills have been given priority--so that Senator Hill's Committee has been fully occupied with their consideration. The following splendid letter was written by Jack Murphey, the brilliant, deaf-blind Missourian. )
"It gave me great pleasure to read in the Braille Monitor that you are in sympathy with Senator Kennedy's bill, S-2411, and that you have promised to grant it a fair and thorough public hearing. I believe that such assistance from you will guarantee the eventual enactment of this just and necessary legislation.
"S-2411 and its companion bill, H. R. 8609, certainly will encounter formidable opposition from influential spokesmen of agencies for the blind, but their arguments must not prevail. The point at issue is so fundamental, so essential to the economic and social integration of the blind with society, that reason and common sense simply have got to outweigh professional posturings and rationalizations. This controversy between the agencies for and the organizations of the blind is one of those historically common clashes between tradition and change--between what was right and what is right--that have so often revealed how enlightened leaders in one era become misguided obstructionists in the next. The Maginot Line was a great feat of military engineering but the wrong answer to mobile warfare. Bigger battleships (though impressive achievements) were impotent to deal with air power. Multimillion dollar schools and 'learning-can-be-fun' programs haven't prepared us to meet the Russian challenge. Nor does mere growth in the size and complexity of our agencies assure maximum benefit to the blind people of America.
"Schools and teachers, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, supervisors of job-training programs, vocational counselors, placement agents, training centers for guide dogs, office staff, consultative agencies--all these and many more figure in the costly business of 'work for the blind. ' But is this vast and rapidly growing social mechanism adequately helping blind people to grasp the manifold opportunities open to the visually handicapped in our industrial society? Or is it, in part at least, stubbornly clinging to obsolete concepts of public assistance and over-emphasizing the desirability of segregating the blind in sheltered shops, where officials receive good salaries while the blind employees are paid substandard wages? Are too many incompetents swelling the ranks of workers for the blind? Which deserve greater benefit from a given service, the professional personnel or the clients?
"Who should be the judge of all such questions? Not the paid worker for the blind. Professional solidarity, self-interest and the tendency to follow the line of least resistance inevitably condition their judgements. Nor the general public. Blindness and the problems and potentialities of the blind are only vaguely understood by the average sighted person. Only the blind--who are actually living with the problems which the agencies are unable to solve--can evaluate, on a realistic basis, the role played by the workers for the blind. We need a voice in the councils of our agencies, and we must be empowered to speak with some degree of authority...."
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It appears now that if the present session of Congress lasts long enough, the tireless John Taylor will have the entire membership of the House of Representatives lined up as co-sponsors of H.R. 8609, by Walter Baring, of Nevada, the companion bill to Senator Kennedy's S-2411. Fourteen more have signed up since last month's report. The new co-sponsors are:
Cleveland M. Bailey, W. Va., H.R. 10816; Edmund P. Radwan, N. Y. , H.R. 10870; Morgan M. Moulder, Mo., H.R. 10914; James W. Trimble, Ark., H.R. 10923; Robert C. Byrd, W. Va. , H.R. lll63;Ches- ter E. Merrow, N. H. , H.R. 11325; J. Ernest Wharton, N. Y., H.R. 11340; Fred Schwengel, Iowa, H.R. 11370; Merwin Coad, Iowa, H.R. 11423; Albert Rains, Ala., H.R. 11460; J. Carlton Loser, Tenn. , H.R. 11503; Joseph Montoya, N. Mex. , H.R. 11509; Will E. Neal, W. Va., H.R. 11511 and Harley Staggers, W. Va., H. R. 11522.
The 42 Congressmen who have now introduced identical bills are from 23 states. It is notable that all but one member of the W. Va. delegation have become co-sponsors and John reports that the one missing member may soon join her five fellow West Virginians. Outstanding credit for this achievement must also go to Mr. Victor Gonzales, blind Mayor of Anmoore, W. Va. A member of the W. Va. Federation's Legislative Committee, he has written many letters himself and inspired others to do likewise. Bill Dwyer, of Albany; Ray Dinsmore, of Brooklyn; John Nagle, of Mass.; Bill Klontz, of Iowa and Frank Lugiano, of Pa., among many others, also merit high praise for their energetic activities in persuading Congressmen from their areas to stand up and be counted.
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Mr. John Nagle, 182 State St., Springfield, Mass., is the general chairman of the convention on behalf of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts; Mr. James P. Callahan, 23 Moulton St., Charlestown, Mass., is the reservations chairman.
The National Federation of the Blind will hold its 1958 convention in Boston at the Hotel Somerset. The convention will last four days--July 4, 5, 6, and 7.
Hotel reservations should be made directly with the Hotel Somerset with a carbon copy to Mr. Callahan. Reservations should be made as early as possible since we may need more rooms than the number presently estimated.
The hotel rates are as follows: one room unit with one single bed, $5.00 (all rooms with bath); one room unit with double bed, $9.00, (many but not all rooms are air-conditioned) and one room unit with twin beds, $10.50.
There are special group rates: four people in a one bedroom suite, (one bedroom and parlor), $4.00 per person; four people in a family unit, (two connecting bedrooms, 4 beds), $4.00 per person; and four people in a two bedroom suite (2 bedrooms, living room and bath), $5.00 per person.
All meetings of the convention will be held in the Louis XIV Ballroom. Beginning Thursday, July 3, the Regency Ballroom will be set aside as a social room. The registration desk will be in the West Lobby.
Business sessions of the convention will be held Friday morning, July 4, beginning at 10 A.M., Friday afternoon, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning, Monday morning, Monday afternoon. There will be a dance sponsored by the host affiliate on Friday evening and a tour of historic spots on Sunday afternoon. The banquet will be held on Saturday night.
In order to have some of the resolutions ready for the first day of the convention and to make it possible to intersperse them throughout the various business sessions, the resolutions committee will meet Thursday morning July 3. John Nagle is chairman of the resolutions committee Members are invited to submit resolutions or ideas for resolutions as far in advance of the convention as possible. They should be sent to John Nagle, 182 State St., Springfield, Mass., or to him at the Somerset Hotel, 400 Commonwealth Ave., Boston 15, if timed to arrive on July 3.
The resolutions committee will also be the constitutional committee. Members wishing to propose constitutional amendments should submit them to John Nagle along with the signature of five member states as required by the NFB Constitution.
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After long deliberation it has finally been decided--reluctantly--not to hold a seminar in connection with the 1958 NFB national convention. Substantially heavier expenditures, occasioned by the increased staff and by other factors, together with the fact that a considerable amount must be kept in reserve for legislative hearings at Washington, make it unfeasible to commit the treasury to the extent that would be necessary in order to underwrite a worthwhile seminar next July.
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Because it came in at the last moment, the article "Agency Leaders Make All-Out Attack Against Right-to-Organize Bill" had to be given the next to the last position in this issue but, whatever else you may miss, be sure to read it. It is the most import and exciting episode in the current serial controversy.
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by Jacobus tenBroek
(Ed. Note--Dr. tenBroek requested space in the New Outlook to reply to the views expressed by M. Robert Barnett in his Hindsight column, which appeared in the January issue of that publication. He received a polite brush-off, with the suggestion that he write a letter to the Editor--subject to the drastic space limitations of that form. Or in the alternative, it was suggested that he simply write to Mr. Barnett. Had he been given space in the New Outlook, this article would have been his reply. Dr. tenBroek has chosen his own title, and it is a good one, but if it had been left to me, I think I would have used the caption "Villians or Fools?". The devasting logic of this presentation is, I believe, unanswerable.)
A lengthy and bitterly worded attack upon the Kennedy-Baring bills (S.24U and H.R. 8609), "A bill to protect the right of the blind to self-expression through organizations of the blind, "has been delivered by Mr. Robert Barnett, Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind, in the January issue of the Foundation house organ, The New Out-look for the Blind.
The article, which appeared in the form of an editorial column under the heading of "Hindsight," has since been assiduously circulated as part of the campaign by a few custodial groups to prevent passage of the Kennedy-Baring bills protecting the right of blind people to form their own associations and to speak for themselves on matters involving their welfare. Hindsight is a peculiarly apt title for a column expressing these views. There is nothing forward-looking in them.
Among the numerous assertions set forth in the Barnett article are the following: that the right of the blind to organize is not and never has been an issue; that organized groups of people never encounter opposition except when they make unreasonable demands, that there has been no interference with organizations of the blind, but on the contrary only efforts to protect the states from outside interference; that there is no issue of consultation by government with the blind themselves, since "appropriate" and "competent" groups (not named) have always been consulted; that the only real issue is whether one organization (not named) is to be permitted to dominate the agencies of government; that the author himself would let the cupof domination pass from him even if it were proffered; that no small group should impose its wishes on the "lives and hopes and dreams" of others; that if we have opinions we shoud confide them to "professionals, " and if they are good opinions they will "sooner or later" be acted upon somehow; that blind people should rest content with what has been done for them and cease thinking of themselves as unfortunate; and finally, that the Kennedy bill would only serve to further the segregation of the blind from the community.
It will be evident to Monitor readers that the bulk of these curious opinions and dire prophesies are a rehash of the familiar charges contained in earlier releases of the Foundation and its axis partner, the American Association of Workers for the Blind. But while the hash recipe is the same, some new condiments have been added. Brief consideration of each of the arguments in turn should be sufficient to indicate the degree of accuracy, validity, or relevancy of them all.
1. According to Mr. Barnett, "The real issue involved in this discussion is not whether blind persons have the right to organize, or that they have been deprived of that right, or that they should be guaranteed the right." Moreover, contines Mr. Barnett, to refer to the Kennedy bill as a "right to organize" bill is a "distortion of its import, the result of either deliberate misinterpretation by some individuals or the unwitting definition of it by those whose motives are purely and sentimen- timentally meant to be helpful."
These are strong words. They make of Senator Kennedy and Congressman Baring, as well as the 41 co-sponsors of the bill in the House and the numerous subscribers to it in the Senate, either villains or fools--the perpetrators of a deliberate fraud or the sentimental dupes of sinister intersts.
2. Let us see on what side the "deliberate misinterpretation" lies. The most startling of the arguments advanced against the need of the blind to protect their right to organize is that no such need has ever existed for any group. The only time organizations of any kindred group of people encounter opposition and hostility is when their concerted demands upon the community begin to show signs of unreasonably self-serving goals which have doubtful value in the healthy development of the entire community. Before examining this notion, it should be said that the organized blind have certainly encountered no opposition and hostility from the "community." Far from it. The "community," local, state and national, bestows on the organized blind the greatest and most continuing good will. The organized blind have indeed met with opposition and hostility, but it has not come from the community; it has come rather from the entrenched agencies, which feel their customary authority to be threatened. It would be much more plausible and accurate to say that agencies for the blind encounter opposition and hostility from the blind when their concerted demands upon this group begin to show signs of un- reasonably self-serving goals which have doubtful value in the healthy development of the blind as members of the community.
But what of the generalization itself, applied to any group? There are doubtless many reasons why kindred groups of people form associations: but surely the chief among them has always been felt the necessity to articulate and advance a common need or a mutual interest which is otherwise inarticulate and defenseless. If there were no opposition or hostility to such legitimate causes, there would be little need for any organizations at all, except perhaps a few for chess or social dancing. But society is not yet so perfect that no deprived or underprivileged elements exist within it--nor is society yet so reasonable that these groups may achieve their goals without a struggle. On the basis of such a felt need, the farmers of America long ago organized into granges, alliances and cooperatives; let someone tell them that they encountered opposition only when they overreached themselves. On the basis of such a felt need American labor was organized into the AFL and later the CIO; tell it to the organized workers. And tell it to the women who organized to gain the suffrage; to the disabled and other war veterans who organized to gain a measure of compensation--tell it to the ex-Marines! And tell it finally, to the legion of handicapped and minority groups who have ac quired dignity and status in the community only as they joined together for self-expression and self-determination.
3. According to Mr. Barnett, "Among the many things America is famous for is its tendency to over-organize, if anything, and in the field of blindness there is certainly abundant evidence that blind persons may organize all they want to... there are dozens of groups, of one kind or another, national or local, already in existence."
The first thing to say about this, of course, is that there exists only one national organization of blind people (not "dozens") which is open to all the blind: Namely, the National Federation of the Blind. Moreover, affiliated with the Federation are 44 state-wide groups and hundreds of local groups of the blind throughout the country, a great many of which came into existence through the incentive provided by the Federation. The second thing to say about this argument is that its subtle disparagement of the serious purposes of groups organized for self-expression--cavalierly dismissed as "a tendency to overor ganize"--comes with ill grace from the director of one of the nation's wealthiest and most highly organized of private groups. And perhaps the third and final thing to say is that the organized blind of the Federation hope themselves to solve whatever problem of "over-organization" there may be by rapidly rendering irrelevant and obsolete the caretaker and misrepresentative functions of just such agencies as the American Foundation for the Blind.
4. According to Mr. Barnett, "It is reported that in several states there have been some sort of efforts to prevent organizations. I suggest that such isolated and alleged instances were not in opposition to the right of blind people to organize, but rather in opposition to a particular organization. "
Apparently the "alleged instances" are real enough, since they are here identified and defended. And it is a facinating line of defense; interference with a "particular organization" is not opposition to "the right to organize"! The conclusion is clear that the right to organize extends only to the right of joining or forming organizations of which the author approves; there is no right to organize or join groups of which he disapproves. This is exactly the equivalent of saying that you have a right to organize a Republican Party in your community, but no right to organize a Democratic Party; or that you are free to speak all you want on my side of the issue, but you have no freedom to speak against me. Such anti-democratic reasoning, whether ingenious or ingenuous if it gained acceptance would immediately make a mockery of the Bill of Rights and the entire American tradition of personal liberty and social justice.
5. According to Mr. Barnett, "in at least one case, the opposition was based upon hostility toward an outside national influence interfering in the state's local affairs, which is a reaction often noted in American attitudes. I see no reason whatsoever for adding another item of federal control over all the states because of a handful of local problems--any one of which could easily have been prevented or could now be solved by unselfish and intelligent leadership at the local level."
Here is a truly remarkable lesson in semantics: efforts on the part of local and state blind groups to affiliate with a national organization are magically transformed into "another item of federal control over all the states." What's going on here? In the past, "federal control" has always referred to the national government of the United States. It is no doubt flattering that a private association of the blind should be thus identified and glorified (presumably only because it is national and because it is federated)--but this is a strange sleight-of-hand performance with words. The object of the verbal conjuring trick is plainly to work in somehow the classical issue of states' rights, no matter how far off the point or wide the mark. As a start in that direction, it need only be said that such national bodies as the American Foundation and the AAWB are obvious "outside influences, " and that it is surely tragic that states' rights should be sold down the river through the servile association of state administrators and social workers with these agencies of "federal control"!
However, there is a more serious accusation contained in this reasoning--a gratuitous insult to local groups of blind people through-out the country who have sought affiliation with the Federation, and are thereby said to lack the unselfishness and intelligence to solve their problems. It requires little of either virtue to remain silent in the face of exploitation or neglect by state and private agencies; but it takes a very great deal of both qualities, plus a third trait known as courage, for sight-less persons dependent upon these custodians for their very subsistence and livelihood to stand up publicly and voice their criticism. This is precisely what has taken place in those "alleged instances" obliquely and snidely referred to by the author of the present article. And in the "one case" specified, which occurred in Houston, Texas, the plain facts are that the Federation took no action at all --in fact, had no knowledge of the situation--until it received requests for information from the Houston Association of the Blind. But there was indeed a powerful element of "outside interference" in this case: it came in undisguised and ruthless form as a written threat from the state administrator, read aloud to the convention of the Houston blind, to forget about the National Federation--or else. The documentary proof of these statements is available; and what is more, it is known to Mr. Barnett.
6. According to Mr. Barnett, "So what, then, is the real issue in the Kennedy bill? It is simply the principle advocated in one of its brief clauses that administrators of federally-financed programs of aid or services to the blind shall seek and abide by the guidance of representatives of organizations of blind people in the execution of their work. Again, it is clear that even here there is no real issue, since the principle of consulting with appropriate groups of the citizen population long ago was established in the training of all good administrators of social welfare programs. Such administrators usually have quite a problem getting advice from competent individuals and groups, and in the field of work for the blind it has been especially confusing to the sincere administrator to determine just what individual expert or organization should attract his interest and his ear."
In one breath (or possibly two) we are told that the real issue is the principle of consultation with the blind, and that this is not the real issue at all. Whether real or unreal, the issue is then derided because "appropriate groups of the citizen population" are always consulted by good administrators. But note that these "appropriate groups" are not identified as groups of blind people; rather, they are described as "competent individuals or groups" and as "the individual expert or organization. " It is clear enough that the groups which the author has in mind are simply those which he represents: that is, the agency "experts" and "professionals" who are deemed to know best what is good for the blind. This is merely a recapitulation of the arguments advanced in earlier AFB and AAWB releases that the only valid principle of consultation is the principle of consulting "experts." And our answer, once again, must be that this matter of expert advice is entirely different from and irrelevant to the principle of consultation with the blind themselves through their own organizations, as the client-group of specific public programs and services. It is this latter principle which the Kennedy-Baring bill incorporates; it says nothing one way or the other about expert advice from non-blind groups of social workers and benevolent societies. Such a "principle of consultation" is simply beside the point. For example, the Department of Agriculture may consult on occasion with "experts" who are not farmers; but it would not be worthy of its name if it did not consult, systematically and primarily, with the farmers themselves. The same elementary observation holds true for such departments as Commerce and Labor, and for the vast array of government bureaus and divisions with a definite and distinct clientele. It seems strange, that at this late date in the development of democratic representation and consultation, there should still be a need to explain and justify such a procedure.
Moreover, the author of the New Outlook article has not only misunderstood the principle of consultation which is involved in the bill; he has seriously misread the bill itself. There is in it no requirement that administrators shall "abide by the guidance of representatives of organizations of blind people;" there is only the requirement that they shall consult with such representatives. While the organized blind may hope that their views and advice will be reflected in administrative procedures, there is of course no intention--express or implied--of compelling adherence to these views. The statement that such an element of compulsion exists is, at the least, unfortunate and highly misleading; in the interest of accurate reporting, therefore, it is suggested that it would be appropriate that the author of this error publish a retraction in the same editorial space at the earliest opportunity.
7. According to Mr. Barnett, "The real issue is the question of legislation which would force the implementation of principles which are already accepted. In our democratic way of life and government, I do not believe it to be either wise or necessary. "
This is the second "real issue" presented; but apparently it is "realer" than the first. What seems less and less real, however, is the author's grasp of the "principle" involved (i.e., the principle of consultation) which was distorted and misconceived a few lines back but now is held to be "already accepted." Clearly it is not accepted by Mr. Barnett. But even if it were, is it not remarkable that the implementation of ac cepted principles is held to be neither wise nor necessary? One can only suppose that what is wise and necessary is the implementation of principles that are not accepted]
8. According to Mr. Barnett, "The only principle that would be served would be that of whatever organization of blind people could demonstrate that it 'represents the blind. '" Certainly; and why not? The principle that would then be served is that of representative democracy. But this is not quite the author's meaning; for he goes on to say: "If one organization were more successful than others in the techniques of organising, advertising, lobbying and aggressive activity, then it might become the one whose authorized representatives would enjoy the right of law to review the activities of federal administrators, and through them the activities of state officials and private agency administrators whose programs utilize federal funds."
Of course, if one organization were more successful in organizing, it would ipso facto be more representative; but is there in actuality, as this sentence implies, a competition among rival organizations of the blind at the national level, each one utilizing the methods of "advertising, lobbying and aggressive activity"? The answer is simply that there is not; once more it is necessary to point out that there is only one such organization available to all blind people, and that therefore the compet- itive rivalry supposed by the author does not and cannot exist. This sole national organization open to all blind men and women does, however, interest itself in legislation concerning its members; in other words, it "lobbies." It would be a poor representative indeed if it had no such interest. But it is curious that aspersions should be cast upon the legitimacy of such activities, by use of the invidious language: "the techniques of organizing, advertising, lobbying and aggressive activity." People in glass foundations, one is tempted to reply, should not throw stones: few lobbies in the nation's capital have made more sustained efforts to influence legislation and to gain access to the pertinent echelons of government administration than the lobby of the American Foundation for the Blind; and, as for advertising and aggressive activity, it would be hard to beat the present frenzied maneuvers of this agency to defeat the Kennedy bill and the democratic principle which it embodies.
9. There follows next a summary of arguments against the Kennedy bill already discussed. Then occurs a striking expression of humility and self-abnegation, in which the author lets the cup pass from him: "it is probably necessary that I add the statement that even if I were to be the indvidual who was the authorized representative, or even if the organ- izations with which I am associated were to be the ones to whom the consulting role was assigned, I still would be opposed to the Kennedy bill. Any who quote from any part of this column are respectfully requested to quote that statement as well."
We are delighted to comply with this request; but why the urgency? What does the self-sacrificing statement amount to? Is it likely that the head of an agency for the blind could be designated an "authorized representative" of the organized blind? No; it is safe to say that Mr. Barnett will not soon be tempted to violate his vow. On the other hand, of course, the organizations with which he is associated (the AFB and the AAWB) have always in fact enjoyed a consulting role; indeed, until recently they have had the only consulting role, since the organized blind have not been permitted to speak for themselves before the responsible agencies of government. Our author, in short, may well let the cup pass: he has drunk his fill of it.
10. According to Mr. Barnett, "No single individual or small group of individuals has the right to impose his or their will over the lives and dreams of others. "
To this we can only say 'Amen.' This is, beyond any doubt, a splendid and entirely accurate statement, one completely consistent with the objectives of the organized blind--and completely inconsistent with the purposes and functions of the custodial agencies. The goals of the blind are simply self-expression and self-sufficiency: freedom from the pervasive control of these caretaker groups in every phase of life and livelihood: the right to stand on their own feet and make their own way, to speak for themselves with their own voice--not through the "master's voice" of an agency victrola. We salute the statement of Mr. Barnett, and respectfully request that he demonstrate his sincerity by resigning from that small group of individuals who seek to impose their will, and joining the free and independent movement of America's blind people to give meaning to their "lives and hopes and dreams. "
11. According to Mr. Barnett, "Each of us may make our opinions known through professional and political channels, and if they are sound, they will find their way into action sooner or later through the processes of our government and of our society. "
Here is utter contradiction; evidently a small group of individuals does have the right to impose its will, after all. For each of us is not to voice his own opinions, not to speak for himself, but rather must submit his opinions to the "professionals" and if they are "sound"--i.e. agreeable to the professionals--they will at some future time find their way into action. Could any agency official speak plainer than that?
12. According to Mr. Barnett, "I, as a blind person, want to be a part of that process, not one who is permitted to live in a world of my 'rights' fenced off from all else that the rest of the world has to offer."
"We, too, as blind persons, want to be a part of the social and political process--which is, of course, why we have organized. But we also want, as the author evidently does not, to live in a world in which our rights as citizens and our competence as normal individuals is recognized--for we know from bitter experience that without these rights what the agency world has to offer is inferiority, dependency, and servility.
13. According to Mr. Barnett, "While I am deeply grateful for all of the special aids that society has provided for me and others who are blind, I have to admit that I find the constant advertising of us as an especially unfortunate group somewhat disconcerting. "
In short, let the blind be content with all that has been done for them in the past and cease thinking of their blindness as a misfortune and of their social condition as improvable by their own efforts. No further comment is necessary.
14. According to Mr. Barnett, "Most of us must fight for acceptance into the normal community against the concept of ourselves as a separate group. I think that a law like that proposed by Senator Kennedy would be the most serious influence yet seen in the form of legislation that would build the wall a little higher."
With the following slight amendment, this passage may stand unopposed: "Most of us must fight for acceptance into the normal community against the concept of ourselves as a dependent and abnormal group. I think that a law like that proposed by Senator Kennedy would be the most serious influence yet seen in the form of legislation that would build a little higher the safeguards permitting us to exercise our independence and steadily establish our normality. "
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In 1935 the Federal Social Security agency came into being. In 1939 the law was amended so as to impose upon all states what many consider to be a harsh, restrictive and unrealistic means test. A number of state legislatures attempted to enact public assistance laws much more liberal than the federal statute, only to have them declared "out of conformity" by the eagle-eyed, jealous bureaucrats in Washington. Only in two states, Pennsylvania and Missouri, were the organized blind able to persuade their respective legislatures to stand their ground and to sacrifice federal reimbursement in order to retain the liberal provisions of their own state laws.
In 1950 Congress relented to the extent of permitting these two states to receive federal reimbursement for those cases which could qualify under the federally imposed means test--but this amnesty was to last only until 1955. There have been two extensions, first until 1957 and again, last year, until 1959.
These temporary reprieves for Missouri and Pennsylvania represent, of course, only partial victories for the organized blind. They leave the Sword of Damocles hanging by a fragile thread over the heads of the several thousand blind persons in these two states who can feel no sense of security for their future welfare until Congress has faced the problem squarely and reached a permanent solution. Moreover, until such a solution has been found, the efforts of the blind in the other 46 states to achieve any real and lasting improvement in their public assistance must continue to be largely ineffectual.
But even the two-year extension which was won last year represents a substantial victory over the powerful counter-efforts by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare aimed at destroying these programs altogether. Its success is a direct consequence of vigorous and well-organized action to save their programs by the blind people of Pennsylvania and Missouri, with enthusiastic and effective assistance from the organized blind of the rest of the country.
The bitter hostility of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to any and all state programs containing provisions different from those of the federal law was openly displayed in the course of Congressional deliberations. In seeking ways to discredit the state programs, Department spokesmen turned their own regulations upside down and emerged with two artful devices calculated to confuse the most enlightened Congressman:
1. In the report of the Senate Finance Committee accompanying H. R. 3035, Senator Byrd as committee chairman stated: "Information received by your Committee from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare indicates that the degree of blindness required in these two states is more stringent than that generally required by states which operate programs in full conformity with the Social Security Act."
It is true that the definitions of blindness adopted by Pennsylvania and Missouri for purposes of eligibility are different from the definition recommended by the federal agency, but it is also true, and well known to these officials, that the states are free to adopt other and more restrictive definitions. Any argument by the federal department that states do not have this freedom is strikingly at variance with their own official statements as contained in the Federal Handbook on Public Assistance Administration. That Handbook, the official rule book of the Federal Department , sets forth only a recommendation to the states as to the upper limits of the definition, narrower limits may be prescribed at the discretion of the state. The contention of the Department of HEW before Congress is therefore without basis in fact or law, and is exposed as a device adopted for the purpose of defeating the pension programs of the two states while concealing the total absence of authority in the federal officials to take this action.
2. The Department of HEW declared, in a letter to Senator Byrd, that the NFB-sponsored bill which would have permanently safeguarded the right of a state to conduct a wholly state-supported program for the blind should not be adopted because the Federal Government would be, in effect, subsidizing and supporting pension programs for the blind on a permanent basis in the states that now have such, or in any state that subsequently wishes to establish one. The subsidy and support comes about because the only way state pension programs for the blind can be maintained alongside of an aid to the blind program under title X, without considerable expenditure of state funds, is by diverting for Federal financial participation those cases in their pension programs which meet the needs requirement under the Federal Act.
It would be difficult to imagine a more confused and confusing argument than this. There is, of course, no relation whatsoever between the federal-state grant-in-aid program and the pension program of the state. All blind persons eligible for assistance under the federal program are already in that program, or in any event, are entitled to be in it. Thus diverting cases to it is not only lawful but perfectly proper. Moreover, to argue that federal participation in that program somehow carries a subsidy of the independent pension program is worse than illogical; it is absurd. With as much reason it could be maintained that by supporting state construction of highways the federal government is subsidizing state programs for the blind--because otherwise the state would have less money to spend on the blind. This tortured argument, if accepted, would render it impossible for a state to conduct programs of its own in any field where federal aid has been obtained.
Fortunately, however, while these maneuvers on the part of the Social Security Administration succeeded in temporarily sidetracking permanent safeguards of the state pension plans, they failed in their purpose of outlawing the existing programs of Pennsylvania and Missouri. The two-year extension of the existing provision gave the blind an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a permanent solution consistent with their best interests.
The National Federation has prepared a bill which will provide a permanent solution that will not only put to rest, once and for all, the issues presented by the Missouri and Pennsylvania plans, but will also make it possible for any other state to adopt a similar independent, state-financed program of aid to the blind without jeopardizing federal reimbursement for those cases which can qualify under the federal means test. This bill was introduced by Congressman Morgan Moulder, of Mo., on Feb. 24, and has been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
The Missouri and Pennsylvania programs are primarily more liberal than federal requirements in the following four respects:
1. Missouri has two separate plans. One plan, which is supported entirely by state funds, provides for those blind persons who meet the eligibility requirements of the state law, but who do not meet the more restrictive requirements of the federal law. The other plan is supported by federal and state participating funds and provides only for those persons who meet the more strict federal definition of need. Pennsylvania has only one plan, but the federally eligible and ineligible recipients are separated as a bookkeeping transaction.
2. In Missouri and Pennsylvania a flat fixed amount of $60 is paid to each recipient each month. This is in contrast to the variable individual payments in the federal law.
3. In Missouri a blind person is allowed to earn $175 a month and still qualify for the full amount of the pension, while under present federal law only $50 per month is allowed as exempt earnings. In Pennsylvania a blind person is allowed to have $83 a month income and still qualify for the full amount of the grant.
4. In Missouri and Pennsylvania the amount of cash and property that a blind person may have and still qualify for the full pension is more liberal than under the federal provisions.
The attached proposed bill would resolve the federal-state issues which have thus been raised by doing the following:
1. It would protect against interference by Federal Social Security officials the right of the states to provide improved social welfare programs for the blind wholly financed out of state funds.
2. It makes it possible for Missouri and Pennsylvania to retain permanently, and for other states to adopt, if they wish to do so, any or all of the distinctive features of the Missouri-Pennsylvania plan of aid to the blind.
3. The amount of each state's federal grant would continue to be measured by the present standards and on like terms to all states. The definition of the means test that is contained in clause (8) of section 1002(a) would apply to all states for the purpose of determining the part of any state's expenditures that will be covered by the federal grant. Federal officials would be forbidden to impose their conception of the means test on state welfare programs financed wholly by state funds.
4. No limitation or requirement on the allowable exceptions from the means test in the direction of greater liberality would be imposed upon any state plan in order to retain a title X federal grant for federally eligible cases. In order to prevent the state from circumventing the minimum standards of the federal program by transferring recipients to a drastically less adequate state program, the states are permitted to increase, but not decrease, the extent to which the recipient's earnings, or income, or other resources will be excepted from the means test.
5. It would bring federal public assistance policy into conformity with the new Congressional and general emphasis on rehabilitation of the disabled. As one step in this direction Congress required the states in 1950 to exempt $50 of earned income of blind aid recipients from consideration in determining the amount of the grant. As a second step, Congress in 1956 proclaimed self-care and self-support to be one of the purposes of public assistance provision of the Social Security Act.
6. This bill, if enacted into law, would simply restore an important state's right--the right to provide at state expense a more liberal program of aid to the blind than the federal government chooses to allow. Since, under the provisions of this legislation, the federal government would only provide participating funds for those individuals who would qualify under the present strict federal definition of need, the plan could could not possibly increase the cost of the federal government. It would, in fact, in time provide a real financial benefit to the federal government. Through more liberal state financed welfare programs geared to rehabilitation and self-support, more blind people will make their way off of the relief rolls. This process is now greatly hindered by a requirement of pauper status as a condition of eligibility for public aid.
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Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 1002 of title X of the Social Security Act, as amended, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsections:
"(c) The Secretary shall not disapprove any plan which fulfills the conditions specified in subsections (a) and (b) because there is in effect in the State another plan for aid to the blind which fulfills the conditions specified in subsection (D) of this section."
"(d) The Secretary shall approve any plan, even though it does not fulfill the conditions specified in clause (8) of subsection (a), which fulfills all other conditions specified in subsections (a) and (b) of this section and provides that the State agency, in determining need, take into consideration the income and resources of the individual claiming aid to the blind in an amount less than would be required to be considered by clause (8), or disregard earned income in an amount greater than the first $50. 00 per month specified in clause (8), or make payment of a fixed sum to all eligible individuals; but payments under section 1003 shall be made, in the case of any such plan, only with respect to expenditures thereunder which would be included as expenditures for the purposes of section 1003 under a plan approved under subsections (a), (b), and (c) without regard to the provisions of this subsection (d). "
Sec. 2 Section 1 shall be effective on and after July 1, 1959.
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Many of us who have tried to inform ourselves concerning administrative operations and procedures as they affect the status of blind citizens have run into baffling and frustrating exclusion from access to material which, in a democracy, should be available to all citizens. Sometimes an alleged legal sanction is cited and sometimes we are smugly told that "there just isn't a copy available at this time." We, of course, are by no means the only ones who have been rebuffed in this way when seek-in legimate information.
Senator Hennings and Congressman Moss and others have introduced legislation during the current session which is designed to put an end to this sort of thing. When he introduced this legislation, Senator Hennings said, in part:
"In recent years, there has been an increasing tendency in this country toward secrecy in the conduct of governmental affairs. The trend toward secrecy has become so pronounced, in fact, that for the past year the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights has been making a careful and detailed study of the extent to which restrictions on freedom of in- formation may be infringing the constitutional rights of the people, and it plans to continue this study during the coming year. The staff of the Sub-committee has found many instances of what appear to be clearly unwarranted witholdings of information from both the public and Congress by various governmental departments and agencies. When the departments and agencies involved have been asked to show by what authority they justify such withholdings, they frequently have cited and attempted to rely upon Section 22 and Section 1002 of Title 5 of the United States Code. If we examine these statutes, however, and delve into their legislative history and the purposes for which they were enacted, we find that they were in no way intended to authorize many of the limitations on the availability of information for which they have been cited. It is to eliminate, or at least sharply curtail the unjustified citation of Section 22 and Section 1002 as authority for withholding information about public affairs that the proposed amendments to these sections have been prepared...."
In the course of his further remarks Senator Henning made it clear that the proposed legislation would not affect information which is withheld for purposes of military security or to protect individuals from an invasion of privacy, but it would make compulsory the disclosure and publication of all official accounts, regulations, etc. which the American public has a right to know about.
Another witness, in analyzing the hostile position of the U. S. Attorney General, said, in part: "The net effect of the Attorney General's statement is that the executive branch of the Government will release such information as the executive branch chooses to release. I wonder if the American people and their elected representatives in Congress appreciate the significance of this latest pronouncement of the executive branch of the Government. If this is sound constitutional doctrine, then it is permissible, without amending the Constitution, for the huge executive bureaucracy we have built up over the years to become the master, not the servant, of the people.
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A letter just received from Sandford Allerton reads in part: "You will be interested to know that Skilcraft has collapsed in Detroit. Goods have been stored and it is not known what will be done with same. The various moves in opposition--the effective intervention of the NFB, the strong stand taken by the Michigan Council and its Bulletin, the protests of the Detroit League of the Blind, Stanley Oliver's editorial, our presentation to the Legislative Council, and the strenuous opposition of the blind salesmen who were threatened with the loss of their livelihood--all have combined to produce an irresistable force. Foote and Company have departed.
"This is a victory which indicates what united action on the part of all the blind can do. It is a lesson which it would be good for all to learn."
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(This is the sixth 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 instalment. )
While a blind person with a guide dog is a fairly common sight on our streets today, unfortunately the public's information concerning these extremely intelligent animals has not increased as rapidly as has the use of such dogs. A great deal of misinformation has been spread. In order to set the record straight, in order to separate fact from fiction, the following questions and answers are offered.
Q.: Are "Guide dogs" and "Seeing Eye dogs" one and the same?
A. : Not necessarily. Any dog trained to lead a blind person is a guide dog, but only dogs which come from one specific school, The Seeing Eye, in Morristown, New Jersey, are actually "Seeing Eye Dogs." In other words, "Seeing Eye" is merely a brand name in guide dogs, just as "Cadillac, " "Lincoln" or "Chrysler" are brand names in automobiles.
Q. : Do guide dogs watch the stoplights at an intersection?
A.: No. It is physically impossible because all dogs, including your pet at home, are color blind. Guide dogs simply watch the traffic. They cross when it is safe to cross, not when a light says they can cross.
Q. : All over the country one hears of people who are collecting either the red cellophane tabs from cigarette packages or empty match-book covers, and always the story is the same--"When I save so many" (it is usually many thousand of the matchbooks or so many pounds of the cellophane cigarette tabs) "a blind person gets a Seeing Eye dog free. Is this on the level?"
A. : No. This is pure fiction. Neither the Seeing Eye nor any other school which trains guide dogs for the blind has any kind of an agreement with the people who make matches or with the people who manufacture cigarettes. To put it bluntly, if you save a million matchbook covers or ten million cigarette tabs, your only claim to fame will be as the world's largest collector of wastepaper.
Q. : Are guide dogs vicious?
A. : Any dog can be made vicious if his master so desires. Ordinarily, however, guide dogs are very friendly animals. It should be remembered that they are guide dogs--not "guard dogs." Quite naturally, as a guide for a blind person, such a dog comes in contact with many new people each day and, therefore, should it become vicious or over-protective, its usefulness as a guide will be over.
Q. : Then does that mean that it is all right to pet a guide dog when I see one on the street?
A. : It does not mean that at all. On the contrary, you are urged not to pet guide dogs when they are in harness. The dog certainly may enjoy petting, but you are not being fair to its master. The dog needs to keep his full attention on his work when in harness. His responsibility is tremendous; his job an extremely vital one. You can make his job simpler by ignoring him when he is in harness.
These are the questions most frequently asked about guide dogs. There are understandably many more that you may have in mind; if so, it is suggested that you address inquiries to either The Seeing Eye, Morristown, New Jersey, or to the Leader Dog League, Rochester, Michigan.
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An employer in West Berlin having 10 or more employees is required by law to employ 10 percent handicapped or physically injured workers. Furthermore, the law provides that the wives of the handicapped should be specially favored for employment.
In some branches of industry there is a possibility that the full number of handicapped workers cannot be employed. A roofer, for instance, cannot employ the same percentage as the electrical industry. These situations are investigated by a technical advisor of the administering agency, which is given authority to modify the number required by law.
In case an employer cannot take his quota of handicapped workers, he can fulfill his obligation by purchasing handicapped-made goods or materials used in his establishment or, failing to do that, he is required to pay 50 West German marks monthly for each
The enforcement of the law is under the jurisdiction of the Labor Administration of West Berlin. It is my understanding, however, that the attitude of the employers in West Berlin is ideal and they are very cooperative. Employers in West Berlin are also required to furnish suitable working places for the handicapped in order to guarantee full performance of the handicapped workers.
A handicapped worker is entitled to an additional 6 days of recreation each year. For example, where an ordinary worker is entitled to 12 days' recreation or vacation, the handicapped worker is entitled to 18 days.
Blind persons are employed in more than 200 professions. The working places for the blind are designed for each individual case. More than 1, 000 blind persons are working and earning normal wages in West Berlin. There are also 250 blind persons being trained in special schools.
According to the Labor Administration statistics, it is estimated that the production rate of handicapped workers is 8-1/2 percent higher that that of unimpared workers. The absentee record is also lower for the physically impaired.
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Jan. 17, 1958
Mr. John E. Mattingly, President
Blinded Veterans' Association
Washington, D. C.
Dear Mr. Mattingly:
"As attorney for the Blind Merchants' Guild, an independent organisation of Pennsylvania vending stand operators, I have been presented with a problem for which, in the absence of some law similar to that proposed by the Kennedy Bill, I know of no existing remedy. In view of the resolution adopted by your Association at its convention in August, 1957, declaring that the enactment of such legislation is unnecessary, you undoubtedly are in a position to suggest the answer to my problem.
"The facts of the matter are these: In Pennsylvania, the vending stand program and all other phases of rehabilitation work are handled by the State Council for the Blind. The Guild, on behalf of its members, has petitioned the Council for reforms and has protested against the numerous shortcomings of the program. To put an end to this, the Council, about six months ago, set up a 'captive' organization and exerted enough pressure upon the vending stand operators to frighten a substantial number of them into resigning from the Guild and into joining this dummy outfit.
"Therefore, in point of fact, the Council staff members have exerted the influence of their positions-threatening economic retaliation against Guild members and promising economic rewards to members of the stooge organization-to injure and seriously restrict the exercise of the right of these men to express themselves through their own organisation.
"As you, of course, have no means of ascertaining the truth or falsity of these assertions-which in fact are true-I suggest that, for the sake of argument, they be assumed to be correct. Their accuracy, for the moment, is totally irrelevant and need occasion no concern on your part.
"As reported in the October New Outlook , your members, inter alia, resolved to reaffirm their faith and trust in the basic rights guaranteed all citizens by the Constitution and declared that they believed no further legislation is needed to guarantee these rights to blind persons. Ever since the foundation of the Republic, it has been universally assumed by judges, lawyers and jurists, that rights and priveleges guaranteed by the Constitution require the enactment of statutes to enforce them. The first suggestion that these students and practitioners have been wrong for a century and a half came from a committee of 'room shop' lawyers at the A. A. W. B. convention. Shortly thereafter, your Association adopted the same novel doctrine.
"As counsel for the Guild, I am expected to suggest a remedy to protect the right of its members to express themselves through this organization of the blind; that is, to stop the members of the Council Staff from exerting the influence of their respective positions to force the operators to resign from the organization of their choice and join the one they detest. I have been obliged to tell the members that, in my opinion, unless the Kennedy Bill is enacted, I know of nothing that can be done for them. It is true that they have theoretical rights which are being interfered with, but no redress is available.
"In view of the fact that your Association contends that no further legislation is needed, do you know of a remedy for such a situation as I have described? If so, what is it? Unless you can come forward with a practical and workable solution for this problem, your resolution is sheer fudge, and common decency demands that you repudiate it publicly. On the other hand, if you really believe what you resolved, you should have a full and complete answer. "
Very truly yours,
William Taylor, Jr.
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(Ed. Note--The following is excerpted from a February 20th letter written by Marie Boring of North Carolina.)
"... I am turning more and more of my energy toward putting others to work. It has taken much time to learn who will take responsibility, but I am determined to do what I can to encourage those who are willing to become more active.
"Up to this point, I feel that my primary contribution to the NCFB has been developing a sound and level-headed approach to the problems created by our opposition and in winning friends for our cause. I have spent too little time in the building of our organization. A member told me last week that he did not believe we would ever have another president who would hold the organization together as I had done. I know he meant this as a compliment. On the other hand, if the organization flounders and stumbles when I am no longer its president, I shall feel that I have failed in possibly the greatest responsibility of my position--that of developing teamwork and a feeling of participation among the members. I blundered once or twice at the beginning of my first term in dealing with criticism, but I learned much from that blundering. Possibly the two most important lessons I learned were never to go too much on the defensive and to establish acceptable and easily understood machinery for handling every detail of organizational affairs.
"At the beginning I felt that formalities were a waste of time, but I have learned the hard way that in no other way can a leader avoid personal criticism and that in no other way can he assure the rights and a- void hurting the feelings of members. ...
"I am at present very much involved in getting the NCFB firmly established so that it will not slow down with any possible change in pres- idents.... I am beginning to believe more and more in positive projects for our organization--projects which will not only provide activities for members with varied interests and talents, but which will impress on the public what blind persons can accomplish collectively and individually. Our credit union has already done much for us, both internally and in our relationship with the public. We must find other projects."
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(Ed. Note--Blind people are barred from the teaching profession in New York--even from the residential schools for the blind. Those who are familiar with the outstanding success achieved by blind teachers in the public schools of California, Ohio, and a number of other states, might find the comments quoted below rather amusing if they did not reflect the attitude which is so common and the results of which have been so tragically frustrating to qualified blind persons who aspire to teach. The article, by John M. Greene, was intended to be sympathetic and helpful.)
"There isn't any provision in the education law that bars them; neither is there any state university rule against admitting them. Yet the fact remains that a person deemed to be blind who aspires to become a school teacher can't get into a state teacher's college. Actually many are not totally blind. They can distinguish at 20 feet what a person with normal sight can make out at 200 feet.
"Frequent visitors to the State Capitol these days are four persons, three of them with vision so impaired that they are blind, according to the law. They are accompanied by a particularly smart and watchful dog. One of the group--Norma Wagner, of Rochester--wants to be a teacher. She is the legislative representative of the Empire State Association of the Blind. With her in her almost daily trips to the Capitol are Peter A. Roidl, president of the Association, who is blind; his wife, Marion, who isn't, and Earl Scharry, a Washington staff member of the National Federation of the Blind. To open the doors of teachers' colleges in the state to legally blind persons, they have enlisted the support of Assemblyman John E. Johnson, who lives in Le Roy, which is only a short distance from Batavia, where there is a state school for the blind. Johnson has introduced a bill amending the education law to provide that any person otherwise qualified shall not, because of blindness, be prohibited from entering a teachers' college or from receiving a teachers' certificate.
"Now Dr. John P. Jehu, head of the State Education Department's Law Division, may be right when he said no school district would hire a blind teacher. He could not be right, however, when he added that 'it would be a waste of public money'--as if plenty of that isn't wasted for less worthy purposes. John C. Crary, Jr., counsel for the University of the State of New York, while admitting there is no rule against it, said he didn't know how admitting a blind person to a teachers' college, all of which are in the university's domain, would work out "
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by B. V. Yturbide
(Ed. Note: Mr. B. V. Yturbide is a successful blind lawyer and research analyst for the Chief Justice of the California State Supreme Court.)
As a reader who is largely at the mercy of the Books for the Blind program of the Library of Congress, I have become painfully aware of the fact that, in reality, I have no library at all, and my sense of indignation is only intensified by the knowledge that the sentiment is shared by the overwhelming preponderance of the blind persons to whom I have talked.
Obviously, when service to a substantial cross-section of the general public is involved, it takes more than a willy-nilly smattering of books to constitute what deserves to be called a "library." In those circumstances, the right to such a designation must depend upon making available the whole range of reading experience, that is, the profound as well as the frothy, the informative as well as the amusing, the real as well as the fanciful, the grim as well as the beautiful, the old as well as the new, the provocative as well as the conventional--in short, the manifold riches of literature which, in combination, afford both a basis for a mature understanding of the demands of life and a haven therefrom. I submit that, when viewed in this light, the library program for the blind is woefully deficient and that the deficiency is partly due to inadequacy of funds but partly to poor book selection and is, in either case, totally inexcusable.
Financially, the program in question has an interesting, if mystifying, history. After climbing to $1, 125, 000 in 1946, the annual appropriation was reduced to $1,000,000 and remained fixed at that level from 1948 through 1956. Not until this year has the daring step been taken of raising the amount to the 1946 figure.
The inadequacy of any such annual appropriation to implement a reasonably sufficient service is self-evident when we consider that the cost of Brailling and recording books is high and that much of the money appropriated is devoted to non reproduction purposes, such as administrative expenses and purchase and maintenance of Talking Book machines. As far back in the inflationary spiral as 1955, the average cost of reproducing each Braille title and each Talking Book was, respectively, $675 and $2,450, and according to figures obtained for 1953 through 1955, less than two-thirds of the money appropriated was used to reproduce books.
The necessity for a high proportion of non-reproduction expenditures may be questionable, but it is obvious that, even if the entire appropriation were used for reproduction, the blind would be denied access to many books. From statistics in my possession, it is fair to estimate that only about 200 Braille books and 200 Talking Books are added annually, and it must be remembered that there are 50, 000 blind readers who actively resort to the program, that there is considerable title overlap between the two types of books, that the incidence of mere replacement rather than true addition is high, particularly with respect to Talking Books, and that the immense body of literature to be drawn from includes not only the deluge of material which has been forthcoming every year since the inception of the program in 1931, but also countless earlier works.
The extent to which a beanshooter is called upon to do a cannon's work is graphically illustrated by the fact that, while some 400 books are added annually for 50,000 blind readers (one addition for every 125 readers), the public libraries in San Francisco, California, and three nearby cities respectively add per year 40, 000 books for 165,000 readers, 29,000 books for 112,000 readers, 9,000 books for 47,000 readers, and 7,000 books for 30,000 readers--in three instances, approximately one addition for four readers and, in the fourth instance, approximately one for five.
Thus stands the fiscal aspect of the case, and the conclusion is in-escapable that, in its present economic strait jacket, the book program for the blind is destined to sputter along on standards shockingly inferior to those befitting a public library. It defies belief, therefore, that, rather than being increased to keep stride with the stresses of inflation and population growth, the annual appropriation was permitted to remain static for ten years at a reduced level and that, even with the augmentation for this year, the amount made available is no more than that furnished back in 1946. The administrative powers-that-be have, it appears, been unable or unwilling to awaken Congress to the scope of the need, and this must be done.
In view of the serious financial handicap, it would naturally be expected that those administering the program would exercise exceptional care to assure that each selection of a book for reproduction is made in advancement of principles which are indispensable to a sound public library service, namely, quality, balance, and comprehensiveness of coverage. Yet this is unmistakably far from the case. There is, alas, no dearth of examples with which to demonstrate that various leading authors are totally or virtually denied representation of significant works, that other writers are given cause to blush at the high incidence of selection out of all proportion with the lasting quality of their work, and that a number of outstanding or well-known books are absent, while, frequently, lesser material on the same subject is present. The lamentable state of affairs is sufficiently illustrated by considering the matters below, which are true on the basis of the latest catalog listings I have been able to obtain, viz., those covering all Braille and Talking Book titles reproduced from the inception of the program in 1931 through 1957, with the exception of Braille titles in 1955.
Incredible as it may seem, although sufficient money has been expended to reproduce scores of works characterized as falling within the fields of Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Economics, nowhere among them, in either Braille or Talking Book form, are to be found any of the historic writings of such thinkers of indisputable renown as Goethe, Kant, Freud, Hume, Descartes, Schiller, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Schopenhauer, Mill, Adam Smith, Marx, Bentham, Hegel, Malthus , Hobbs, Aquinas....
I grow tired--and not a little disgusted. But the blind searchers for knowledge need not despair, because some of the fair-to-middlin' gents listed above are given a lick and a promise in a bird's-eye special in three volumes of Braille entitled "Living Biographies of Great Philosophers." And, besides, we may trustingly rest our empty heads on the sustaining shoulders of such immortals as Harry Overstreet, Harry Emerson Fos-dick, and Norman Vincent Peale, 16 of whose works are available to us. In the last extremity, we may always resort to a little philosophical gem especially designed for us. It is entitled "Adventures in Staying Young" and is described in the catalog as "Case histories of patients who, despite physical handicaps, have adopted a philosophy of life which keeps them young at heart. "
Anyway, why should a blind person care about heavy stuff like philosophical thought? Why not read, say, a biography of some exciting figure? Look, four of Napoleon are available, although it must embarrassingly be admitted that, by some unhappy lapse of judgment in the expenditure of limited funds, the biography of Emil Ludwig, which is generally regarded as the leading work on Napoleon, is not one of the four.
Nor is the spectacle confined to the non-fiction field. Rabelais is not represented by any of his several works which, although viewed by some as "obscene, " have sufficient literary merit to have been widely read for centuries. But his spirit need not feel alone in total rejection or believe that relative antiquity is the cause of his fate, because that fate is shared by such present-day grim or unmannered folk as Erskine Caldwell and Jean Paul Sartre. The realistic William Faulkner, whose prominence in American literature has been unavoidable for a quarter of a century and seven of whose works are listed by Asa D. Dickenson, on the basis of expert concensus, among "The World's Best Books, " would be shocked to discover that he not represented by any of his novels, and not even by his book which won the Pulitzer Prize. He would be no less shocked by the discovery that, of all of his efforts, only three collections of his short stories have been reproduced for the blind, including one group of four "hunting stories" and another of six "stories of mystery and violence.
Perhaps it is fatal to have experts regard your works as belonging to "The World's Best Books" because Dickenson lists three novels by John Dos Pas sos and five by F. Scott Fitzgerald and look at what has happened to those authors. Dos Passos is represented by only two works which, of course, do not include any of his leading ones but, rather, a lesser novel and a piece of deathless non-fiction described as a "Series of scenes in various theaters of war..." Fitzgerald is generously commemorated by one title in Talking Book form.
Similar amazing data could be set forth with respect to other notables in fiction, such as Tennessee Williams, James Joyce, Thomas Wolfe, and Andre Gide, who, although they might not be exactly your idea of what ought to be read at Sunday school, have wielded unquestionable influence and have won substantial followings. Then, too, apart from authorship, the absence of certain books amounting to classics, such as "Decameron" and "The Arabian Nights Entertainments," can hardly go unmissed, and the same may be said of recent well-known, if less meritorious works, for example, "The Naked and the Dead" and "From Here to Eternity. "
With all this, contrast the following good fortune of some authors, and fume in wonder: For reproduction in Talking Book and Braille form, Zane Grey has been given the nod 48 times, Agatha Christie 25, P. G. Wodehouse 22, Mary Roberts Rinehart 21, Pearl Buck 18, Joseph C. Lincoln 14, Hugh Walpole 13, Lloyd C. Douglas 13, and Rafael Sabatini 13. — a grand but of alarming total of 187 reproductions for nine authors. If any proof is required for the proposition that literary merit has not earned such grossly disproportionate favor, reference need only be made, for example, to one of Joseph Lincoln's masterpieces, the gripping plot of which is set forth in this catalog description: "A long time feud between partners in the clam business threatens to extinguish a love affair. However, a brother returns and all is well. "
I do not wish to be unfair--all good books have not been forgotten. This however, is certainly no defense for the gaps and anomalies reflected by the foregoing, and the issue is how on earth they can be explained away. Clearly not on the basis of literary quality or significance. Nor can it be maintained that the wish to promote balance and variety is at fault, for exactly the opposite has been the result. Shortage of root of the trouble, since it takes no mathematical wizard to realize that, by so simple an expedient as using half of the money devoted to the favored authors noted above for reproduction of missing works, a substantial improvement could have been wrought. Even reader demand, assuming that it could ever be legitimately relied upon to defend such disregard of quality, balance and variety, cannot be made the scapegoat here because it may be safely ventured that not a few blind people would have been only too eager to read, say, "From Here to Eternity."
But, if all rational justifications fail, what accounts for short-comings of such magnitude in what purports to be a public library? It seems hardly possible that the situation was brought about unknowingly. The comparative ostracism of serious and realistic literature seems too obvious to have been unintentional, as seem also the disproportionate attention to conventional authors and the practive of reluctantly acknowledging the existence of other well-known but "controversial" writers by reproducing those of their works which are as "innocent" as possible. One wonders whether the explanation does not lie in a remarkable type of censorship, censorship of literature not merely because of robust language but also because of provocative thought, or even deep thought--censorship born of the well-intentioned but unforgivably insulting misconception that blind readers are an aggregate of sorry creatures who, because they are already condemned to brood under the massive weight of blindness, must not be troubled with, and cannot be interested in, the full grasp of life or the responsibilities of mature individuals but must be sheltered and given Westerns, mystery and adventure thrillers, pretty love stories, and "Positive Thinking" to help them while away their darkened hours and "smile through." If this is not the explanation, if there is no censorship, there can be but one other, sheer incompetence in book selection. In either case, the status quo is insupportable and must be ended.
So what can be done to assure better book selection? I will not here undertake to consider various incidental points which are nevertheless of some significance, such as whether it may be feasible to provide more books, particularly those of specialized interest, by having fewer copies at strategically distributed points or whether there has perhaps been an unfortunate tendency to sacrifice the Braille book to the Talking Book. However, certain basic matters should be discussed, albeit briefly.
Of prime importance is adherence, not only in preaching but in practice as well, to the truth that the blind, being nothing more and nothing less than a cross-section of the general public, are not a uniform mass but have the same wide range of reading interests as their sighted fellows. Of virtually equal significance is the realization that, while reader demand is worthy of consideration in book selection, no public library can be run like a beauty contest because, in order to qualify as "public, " it must serve the minority as well as the majority. Every effort must be made to apply the aforementioned principles of balance, variety, and, above all, quality. Selection with an eye to lasting value is especially crucial to a library for the blind because the cost of reporoducing each title amounts to a big piece of a small pie. Accordingly, unstinting use should be made of opinions of experts on literature, and not of persons whose only qualifi
cation is blindness or who, as the Library of Congress is wont to say with pride is true of some of the present selectors, have "achieved stature in work for the blind." Insofar as reader demand should be resorted to, care must be taken to see that the widest possible canvass is obtained.
It would no doubt be protested that these matters have been zealously accounted for in the administration of the program. The record, however, is the complete answer. Whether because of faulty theory or selection machinery or because of unqualified selectors, it is plain that unwarranted defects exist, and, somewhere, a sweeping change must be made.
In the ultimate analysis, of course, improvement of the program must depend upon the exertions of the blind themselves. As a writer on this subject suggested in the February issue of this publication, the blind readers have been very tardy in crying out. As that writer also pointed out, the National Federation of the Blind is uniquely positioned to assist in better selection, particularly so far as providing an authentic measure of reader demand is concerned. Further, however, there is no more logical organization to study the situation fully and to make specific proposals for improvement. The time is now , for until the annual appropriation is substantially increased and book selection far more intelligently conducted the blind will have a "library" in name only, not in fact.
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(Ed. Note--the following letter, from which excerpts have been taken, was written by an alert listener, who is an active and highly articulate member of an NFB affiliate.)
"As a listener to your radio programs over a long period of time, and as one who has found them stimulating, informative and challenging, I take the liberty of commenting on your very fine talk this afternoon when you interviewed Dr. Frank Laubach on the topic of his 'Each One Teach One' program. You concluded your remarks, if I am not mistaken, with the words: 'A man who cannot read is like a blind man.' This somewhat cryptic remark needed amplification. It left me, and I am sure, many others of your listeners, with the idea that you considered illiteracy and blindness to be synonymous...I am somewhat at a loss to think how such an erroneous impression can be corrected.
"I am proud to be a member of a national organization of the blind, which numbers more than 40, 000 and now has affiliates in 44 states and counts among its members atomic scientists, chemists, professors, lawyers, judges, teachers, insurance brokers--and I could go on listing practically all the occupations which some people still believe can be carried on only by those blessed with sight.... I would also like, through this letter, to introduce you to our president, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, Chairman of the Speech Department of the University of California, in Berkeley, a young man of outstanding intellectual ability, author, civic worker, community leader, and above all, a nationally known humanitarian. His address is 2652 Shasta Road, Berleley, Calif.
"If, by chance, you had in mind a blind person in one of the under-privileged countries with which Dr. Laubach has been associated in his work, the statement should have been so qualified. The impression created by such remarks tends to perpetuate the medieval stereotype of the inferiority, hopelessness, and helplessness of blind persons , characteristics which, by and large, do not apply to blind persons any more than they apply to sighted persons. In the interests of truth, fairness, and accuracy, I believe that such sweeping statements as the one made in your talk should be avoided, and a closer study made of the activities, potentialities and abilities of persons who are blind. "
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Ever since the introduction of the Kennedy Bill last June certain people have been telling us with an increasingly plaintive wail that the whole thing is unnecessary, that nobody is trying to interfere with the right of the blind to organize, and that the only people who are in any way unhappy are a few scattered troublemakers and malcontents. Publication of the following story about the plight of vending stand operators in the state of California will probably cause the wails to become even more frequent and more plaintive.
Early in February, evidence came to light that California's Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation not only has a company union of vending stand operators but is apparently out to make it a union shop. A blind operator was told by his supervisor that the only way he could get certain vital information from the Bureau or have any voice in determining Bureau policy was by recognizing and participating in the company union. When the operator protested and said that he wished to deal directly with the Bureau because he did not believe the Vending Stand Advisory Committee (the name by which the company union is known) was either independent or in any way representative, the supervisor ignored his protest and told him he had no alternative.
The present situation has been a long time in the making, and the rehabilitation officials may very well object to a full exposure of the facts. For several years there have been approximately 150 blind vending stand operators in California. These operators were totally unorganized until the late 1940's, at which time a number of them formed an independent association and became part of the California Council of the Blind, the state affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind. Mr. Harry Hicker, then Chief of the State Bureau of Rehabilitation, welcomed the new organization and regularly consulted with a committee of the California Council.
In 1952, Mr. Andrew Marrin became Chief of the Bureau, and a change in policy was almost immediately apparent. Stories began to circulate that the Bureau was opposed to the stand operators organisation, and its membership began to dwindle. Operators alleged that the Bureau had ways of making its displeasure felt.
In the first place, when new vending stand locations were opened up, the Bureau could determine who would be given the jobs. Also, there was the matter of replacing worn out equipment and making improvements. There were those who said that operators who were active in the organization, very often had to wait indefinitely when they had a breakdown of drink box or other equipment, while those who were subservient to the Bureau were strangely fortunate in receiving quick service and modern fixtures. Besides all of these things there was the matter of training new operators. When a new operator was to be trained (the same procedure is still followed), the Bureau would hire one of the old operators to do the teaching. The extra money was a windfall, as was the free labor of the trainee. Certain operators were obviously quite expert as trainers, judging by the amount of business they got. Apparently there were ways.
The story of the vending stand operators organization is soon told. By early 1956 the group had dwindled to a mere handful. At a closed meeting and in direct violation of constitutional procedure as outlined in its own By-laws, somewhat over a dozen operators voted the Association out of the organized blind movement and announced their intention of fully "cooperating" with the Bureau in the future. Soon afterward an anonymous letter was sent to every vending stand operator in the state denouncing the California Council of the Blind and praising the Bureau. The letter bore a postmark from the same district of the president of the little group of those who had withdrawn from the Federation, but no one could prove how the list of the names and addresses of all vending stand operators through-out the state had been compiled, since only the Bureau possessed such a list.
Despite all of this, the spirit of independence was not completely dead. Those vending stand operators who wished to continue on as an independent organization and as a part of the organized blind movement called a meeting and reconstituted their Association. The group is still functioning studiously ignored by the Bureau.
It is now necessary to go back a bit in time. There were more roads to Rome than one. Early in 1954 the Bureau established the Vending Stand Advisory Committee. It was a unique experiment in democracy. Operators throughout the state were not asked whether they wanted to be represented by such a committee. They simply received ballots from the Bureau with a request that they vote for representatives to speak for them.
The Bureau divided the state into seven districts and said that there would be one stand operator elected to represent each district. In the letter of instruction accompanying each ballot, the Bureau announced that it reserved the right to set aside the vote of the operators in any particular instance if it became necessary to do so in order to see that all phases of the program were fairly represented. Each operator was given a list of the names of all other operators in his district but not their addresses or stand locations. All ballots were to be returned to the Bureau, where they would be counted by Bureau Personnel.
The first meeting of the Vending Stand Advisory Committee was held in Fresno on March 6, 1954. The seven stand operators who made up the Committee were brought from the various parts of the state by representatives of the Bureau. The seven Committeemen and seven representatives of the Bureau were present. The official minutes were kept by a member of the Bureau staff and were circulated shortly after the meeting to every vending stand operator in the state. There was no opportunity for the delegates to the Committee to see the minutes first so that corrections could be made or accuracy insured. This procedure, incidentally, is still in effect and has been followed at each semi-annual meeting of the Committee from 1954 to the present date.
Even the delegates to the Committee are not given the list of the addresses of operators in their districts. When one delegate asked for such a list, he was told that he could send any information which he wished to distribute to the central office of the Bureau and that it would be mailed to all operators.
The official minutes of the first meeting of the Vending Stand Advisory Committee read in part: "The meeting was called to order by Mr. Andrew Marrin at 1:30 PM. Mr. Marr in discussed briefly the reason for the creation of the Committee which was to provide a means by which the administration of the Vending Stand Program could obtain the guidance of the operators themselves on matters affecting the program."
California's vending stand program is one of those which has a monthly "Set-Aside" from the earning of operators--that is, the Bureau withholds a specified amount from the earnings of each operator to help meet expenses of the program. Early this year consideration was being given by the Bureau to proposed changes in the amounts to be withheld. Operators were told that information about the proposed changes had been sent to the members of the Vending Stand Advisory Committee and that the Bureau could not give out any information about the matter except through this channel. More than one operator was told that if he wished any information about the proposed changes or any voice in determining what they should be, he must contact his representative on the Advisory Committee. Protests were brushed aside or ignored.
There are indeed more roads to Rome than one. Mr. Andrew Marrin would appear to be quite an efficient and "professional" administrator. It is not for nothing that some of the stand operators refer to the members of the Advisory Committee as the "Marrinettes. "
Tennessee Ernie Ford is a sighted man, but if he should ever become blind, he might feel right at home as a California Vending Stand operator. He would not even have to change the refrain of his most popular song: St. Peter, don't you call me, 'Cause I can't go. I owe my soul to the Company Store.
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Readers of the Braille Monitor will recall the case of Nyal D.
McConoughey, who was given a chance of proving that the blindness which had come upon him suddenly in the course of his official duties did not render him incapable of continuing valuable service to his country in an important executive position. He was given this chance, however, only after long hesitation on the part of his superiors and only after the most strenuous efforts on his behalf by the National Federation. In recent weeks he has been the proud recipient of two glowing letters of commendation, which follow:
(From Colonel Sutton K. Sams) "I desire to extend my congratulations to you upon your selection as the 2710th Air Base Wing DAFC of the Month.
"Serving as Assistant Chief of the Billeting Branch subsequent to your employment as a member of my command on 27 May 1957 you have demonstrated that, even though physically handicapped, you can very readily assimilate a thorough and extensive job knowledge. Among other outstanding accomplishments you were instrumental in effecting a complete reorganization of the Billeting Branch, thereby greatly increasing its effectiveness. In addition, you have assisted in the development of a comprehensive, efficient method of accommodating the billeting needs of Distinguished Visitors. On frequent occasions distinct personal initiative has been displayed.
"Your personal attitude has been equally outstanding, and has been distinguished by a spirit of cooperation and devotion. This has included the devotion of many hours of your off-duty time to insure that the operation of the Billeting Branch was conducted in a smooth, efficient manner. In addition, your pleasant, tactful manner of association with people has invariably made a favorable impression on all with whom you have associated.
"It is a distinct pleasure for me to know that I have a Department of the Air Force Civilian assigned as a member of my command who is capable of such a distinctive performance of duty. Your outstanding efforts have made a material contribution to the achievement of the mission of the 2710th Air Base Wing."
(And from Brigadier General Paul L. Barron) "You are commended for being selected as the Department of the Air Force Civilian of the Month of the Northern Air Material Area, Pacific, for November 1957.
"Your supervisor has reported you have distinguished yourself through devotion to duty in your assignment as Assistant Chief of the Billeting Branch, Tachikawa Air Base. Your solutions of billeting problems and courteous accommodation of the many and varied visitors and incoming personnel to this base complex have reflected favorably on this command and yourself. The efficient manner in which you have conducted the management of this function is most commendable.
"This constant devotion to duty is in keeping with the highest Air Force standards. Congratulations upon your selection."
Nyal McConoughey writes to Dr. tenBroek, in part: "... These letters indicate some pretty solid achievements and I am grateful for the successes that I have had. Frankly, I do not see how it would have been possible without the effective representation provided by the Federation. Mr. Archibald and Mr. Cobb worked tirelessly to present every possibility to the Air Force and much credit must go to them for their effort... "
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(Excerpt from a Jernigan letter):
I have your letter of February 22 in which you raise the question as to whether I think a sighted person should be employed as a travel instructor and in which you discuss the differential between the salaries of Rehab counselors and Home Teach- ers. Let me deal with the second matter first. Although I agree with you that the Home Teacher plays an important part in the rehabilitation process and that she should be paid accordingly, this is not the concept (or, at least, not the practice) in most of the states. Almost universally I think you will find that Home Teachers are miserably underpaid. In some states they receive only a little more than half as much as the Rehab, counselors. The reason has nothing to do with the importance of their work. Rather, it is undoubtedly a matter of federal financial participation. Until 1956 no federal reimbursement could be secured for home teaching programs and even now most of the programs are entirely state-financed. Home Teachers have been, and are, paid accordingly....
"I think you ought to push as hard as you can to get the salaries of your home teachers raised. Then, I think you ought to push equally hard to see that they do a real, first-class job. If they don't, I think you ought to do the hardest pushing of all to see that they get fired and that you get some who will do a first-class job. The work of the Home Teacher is not only an important part of the rehabilitation process, it is key and central.
"Well, enough for that matter. Now let me turn to travel training. I certainly think that a blind person (that is, a qualified blind person) can do as good a job as a sighted person in teaching the blind how to travel. In fact, the blind teacher has certain very definite advantages. He can inspire confidence in a way that no sighted person can. He can teach by example. He can say to his student, 'Come! Let me show you. This is the way I do it. You see that we are crossing this busy street and that we are doing so safely and without help.' Nothing else in the world is quite so effective. Above all things, I would oppose the hiring of a sighted travel instructor in a program if it were done on the grounds that a blind person could not do the job. This would be ruinous to the morale of the students. If a blind man cannot teach travel, why should a student suppose that a blind man can learn to travel, regardless of what teacher he may have?
"On the other hand, I do not wish to imply that I think a sighted person cannot do a good job as a travel instructor. If the sighted person has learned the right attitudes, if he has learned the proper techniques and how to inspire confidence in his blind student--above all, if he really believes in the essential normality of the blind and that a blind person could teach travel --then he may do a very excellent job. Although he cannot teach by example in the way that a blind person can, his sight will give him certain undeniable advantages. These advantages have nothing to do with safety. They are a matter of being able to observe more quickly than a blind person would, the development of undesirable variations in technique and bad travel mannerisms. One of the best travel instructors I have ever known has perfect sight, but he would be the first to tell you--and the first to fight with you if you didn't believe it--that a blind man could do his job...."
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On Jan.17 Colonel E. A. Baker, President of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, wrote to Mr. A. Dyckmans, of Belgium, and a portion of this letter follows:
"...I would like sincerely to thank you for the opportunity you have given me to express the Council's views on the subject of the proposed creation of a 'World Union of the Blind, ' which you hope would provide a means of continuing consultation between blind people of countries throughout the world in order that their common aspirations may be achieved. You have also been good enough to recognize the worth and accomplishments of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, which Council you hope could work cooperatively with your proposed Union.
"We consider that it is of paramount importance that those who seek to create new organizations should first conduct stringent research to determine whether any existing organizations are already fulfilling the planned function or whether such existing organizations could do so with a modicum of assistance or reorganization.
"Equally, it is the responsibility of existing organizations to conduct similar research when requested to recognize or co-operate with other groups which may tend to duplicate their function, cause division in the ranks of those who should be united, or spread unnecessary confusion. It is in this spirit that we have studied your suggestions and reached the following conclusions.
"Your letter contains the phrase: 'the blind man can do nothing with-out the sighted man, ' but then proceeds to detail the additional advantages that can be gained through close continuing collaboration between the blind themselves. The World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, both in the wording of its legal Constitution and in the conduct of all its affairs, gives full recognition to both of these underlying principles. It is constantly emphasizing the fact that while the blind individual is most acutely aware of his abilities, shortcomings, aspirations and needs, and while such individuals or their elected representatives are competent to evaluate the position and correct many or most of the faults, it is still essential that blind people everywhere should be integrated with society, working harmoniously with the sighted, rather than deliberately segregating themselves as a separate community.
"It is in order to avoid such a calamity that W.C.W.B. has consistently opened its doors to membership by blind or sighted representatives of member countries, while maintaining the underlying viewpoint that maximum opportunity should be granted for the blind to express their views through their elected representatives. Proof of the blind person's ability to do so can be found in the fact that more than 60 percent of the W.C.W.B. 's individual members are themselves blind, the overwhelming majority of these individuals having been elected by Federations or Unions of the blind to voice the opinions of such groups in W.C.W.B. affairs.
"All individual representatives of W.C.W.B. are entitled to attend the quinquennial World Assemblies and there to speak freely on all topics which may be of concern to them. Between meetings of the World Assembly the programs and affairs of W.C.W.B. are conducted by a duly elected Executive Committee and officers. The Executive Committee presently consists of 24 persons, drawn from all parts of the world. Eighteen of the twenty-four members are blind. The eight persons who fill the offices of President, 5 Vice-Presidents, Treasurer and Secretary-General are all blind.
"It is felt that these factors can leave no question of the fact that W.C.W.B., which is widely recognized as a responsible international organization, provides maximum opportunity for the blind people of the world to fully participate in international discussions at the highest level and to express their individual viewpoints through their elected representatives.
"It may be stated that the creation of a World Union of the Blind would allow for the complete exclusion of sighted persons and that individual blind people would be able to attend and express their viewpoints personally rather than through elected representatives. In our view, this would almost certainly lead to a highly unsatisfactory state of affairs since the policies and actions of the Union could follow no set pattern, decisions of all meetings being dominated by those blind persons whose individual financial situation made it possible for them to attend, regardless of whether or not their opinions were shared by the majority of the blind in their country....
"Having described the methods by which the attitudes and recommendations of the blind themselves are guaranteed adequate expression by and through W. C. W. B. , we should next examine the specific purposes for which that Council exists, as compared with those outlined in your letter for the World Union of the Blind. In your letter you state that the function of the latter Union would be to 'promote a widespread exchange of ideas and information between blind persons, with a view to enabling them to take full advantage of the progress achieved on their behalf and to discuss the problems of blindness in the world of today and the solutions which may be brought to them. ' These aims are in fact exactly similar to those of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind ... In addition to its own assemblies and meetings, W.C.W.B. constantly joins with other organizations to promote regional or special conferences at which the blind and those who work in their service may join in an effort to solve specific problems....
"All the foregoing has, we feel, established the fact that blind people throughout the world can already give expression to their views and exchange experiences within the framework of W.C.W.B. without the need for creating an additional organization such as you describe. The introduction of such a new organization could, therefore, be justified only if it could be shown that W.C.W.B. had been ineffective in gaining the support of government, responsible international organizations, the general public and the blind themselves....
"Certainly we would welcome any constructive advice or criticism designed to improve the Council's effectiveness and extend its influence to the blind. If the members of your national group in Belgium would care to submit your views to us we would be happy to study them. It is nevertheless considered that no useful purpose would be served by the creation of a World Union of the Blind and since we cannot approve of its creation, the question of our cooperation with such a group does not arise.... I am sure you will understand that this letter has been prepared in a spirit of sincere good will and its conclusions reflect what we honestly believe to be in the best interest of blind people throughout the world....
"In. the development of the World Council we have exercised the greatest care on a number of points, especially the following: first, to ensure that the delegates of the World Council should be selected by democratic process, representative of responsible organizations of and for the blind within each country. Second, every care has been exercised to avoid dictation or coercion by any dominating or reactionary groups, national or regional. These and many allied hazards are certain to beset any o ganization which has for its objects the realistic representation of the best interests and advancement of any group, which in our case is the blind themselves....Any action which would tend to confuse our united efforts to raise the status of the blind in general or to confuse cooperation in any country, would obviously have a retarding effect on hoped-for progress. I am confident that your organization of the blind in Belgium would find opportunity through our World Council to consult other organizations of the blind in other member countries, both by correspondence and in World Council Conferences. I would urge you to try this course before seriously considering a new organization of the blind with all the problems of communication and finance. For these reasons I earnestly hope that you will give full consideration to our comments and that as a result you will defer action of the proposed new organization. "
Colonel Baker sent copies of the above letter to all U.S. and Canadian members of the Executive Committee of the World Council. Each member also received a questionnaire which, in effect, asked for approval of the stand taken by Colonel Baker. I answered all the questions "no, " except the one which asked us if we thought all the other members of the Executive Committee throughout the world should be informed of the Baker-Dyckmans correspondence and asked for their views. To this I responded "yes," I also sent the following letter to each member of the U.S. and Canadian delegation and also to several former members:
"...I am reasonably certain that my negative answers will be the only ones returned by the members of the group receiving this letter.
"I consider that the questions themselves, by reason of their tone and character, are loaded. I am inclined to think that most courts in Anglo-Saxon countries would not permit questions to be phrased in this manner because they are leading.
"I believe that the World Council should take a much more cautious and temperate approach when a problem of this sort is dealt with.
"There is a good deal in Colonel Baker's letter that is compelling and true. I am in full agreement with him that an organization whose policies are determined by such members as may find it possible to attend conferences, rather than by representatives of all the organized blind, would not be a truly representative organization.
"On the other hand, I feel that Colonel Baker's letter contains half-truths and plausible, but misleading implications. While 60 percent of the membership of the W.C.W.B. may be blind, a substantial number of these blind members are agency executives or employees and hardly represent the views of the organized blind. The principle officers of the W.C.W.B. must be placed in this category. The Colonel emphasizes the deliberate effort of those who organized and now continue the World Council to see that democratic procedures are established in the selection of World Council representatives. Yet the world's largest organization of the blind has only one representative and must share the representation of the United States with four agency representatives and one representative of a professional organization of educators. (I hasten to add that I have no slightest objection to this last.) But I feel strongly that the assignment of two memberships to a wealthy, puissant, bifurcated agency (the AFB and its alter ego, the AFOB) and two memberships to an organization, the overwhelming majority of whose members are job-conscious social workers, (the AAWB has a total membership less than one-twentieth that of the NFB), has been and remains an outrageously inequitable arrangement. I believe that all but three of you attended the Paris meeting of the W. C. W. B, in 1954. I was amazed and shocked to find that all six of the delegates representing the United Kingdom were sighted agency representatives. I understand that the National League of the Blind had been offered one membership out of the six but had rejected it. I believe that the British National Federation of the Blind was completely ignored.
"Colonel Baker says: 'Every care has been exercised to avoid dictation or coercion by any dominating or reactionary groups, national or regional.' It is somewhat difficult to accept this statement at its face value when it is remembered that the assignment of the six United States memberships was left entirely in the hands of agency people, who appropriated to themselves a completely disproportionate and unrealistic share of the U.S. representation on the W . C . W. B. The organized blind were not consulted at that time but were patronizingly vouchsafed one-sixth of the American voting power so that there would be at least the appearance of compliance with the alleged parity which Colonel Baker implied now exists as between organizations of and for the blind.
"I am by no means convinced that a 'World Union of the Blind' is necessary, feasible, or even desirable at this time. Nevertheless I strongly deprecate this hasty and arbitrary action which it is proposed that the World Council now take.
"I think that perhaps Colonel Baker should have permitted us to see the full text of Mr. Dyckman's communication, from which he has quoted. "
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by Stanley Oliver
(Ed. Note:-- Mr. Oliver is the outspoken and highly articulate editor of the Michigan Eye Opener, which appears both in Braille and ink-print. He also contributes regularly to the Braille Piano Technician. He is a member of the Advisory Committee to the state agency for the blind and a member of the Board of Directors of the Michigan Council of the Blind.)
Until I was twenty-nine years old (that is, until 1943) I had no substantial visual difficulty. At that time I became totally blind as a result of retinal hemorrhages. Before my blindness I worked at a variety of jobs. I did factory work, sign painting, and sign painting contract work. Immediately after blindness there was an initial period of idleness and complete frustration. There seemed to be nothing left for me to do. This initial period did not last long, however. The greatest single factor in getting me back on my feet was my contact with individual blind persons and with organizations of the blind, especially the local affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind. I saw blind persons leading normal, useful lives and earning their own living. Their encouragement and example were an invaluable source of inspiration and strength. What is even more to the point, they were living proof of what I had always thought impossible--namely, that the average blind person can function with average competence as an average worker in an average job.
Contrast this with my first contact with an agency (and I put this next phrase in quotes) "doing work for the blind." The agency did not contact me. I found its name in the telephone book and called. They sent out a young sighted college junior or senior who was training to be a social worker and who was using the visit as a part of her case work training. As soon as she arrived, I got right down to business. Before my blindness I had been doing quite well financially--that is, I had been making $90 or $100 a week, which was not bad for 1941 and 1942. The biggest worry I had was whether I could continue to earn a living for myself and my family. I was married and had two small children and I had just bought a comfortable brick home (not yet paid for) in a good middle-class neighborhood. When I tried to discuss my prospects for continuing to earn a living with this agency worker, she was very evasive and noncommittal. It was painfully clear that she was convinced that I would never be able to be self-supporting again and that she felt it her duty to bring me (and again I put this phrase in quotes) "to a realistic appraisal" of my situation and probable future, and to do so as quickly as possible.
Among other things she recommended that I sell my home because, as she put it, it was in too expensive a neighborhood for the income which I could anticipate as a blind man. Also, it was eight blocks from the bus line, and she said it would be extremely difficult for me to get to the bus and keep my appointments unless I moved closer. When I asked her, "what appointments," she seemed nonplussed and became inarticulate. The total effect of her visit was to leave me so completely depressed that I felt absolutely desperate and wondered if life was finished for me.
Several comments might be in order concerning this situation:
(1) Undoubtedly I did not handle myself as well as I might have in this interview with the agency worker. I was, perhaps, too edgy and aggressive and not as tactful as I might have been. On the other hand, I was a newly blind person and needed help. The agency worker, if she had really known anything about blindness, should have anticipated my attitudes and at least some of my questions and comments and should have been able to offer constructive suggestions.
(2) I have walked the eight blocks to the bus probably thousands of times since the day of that visit, and without difficulty. I do not walk to the bus anymore, however. There is no need. I now have two cars in my garage, both bought and paid for in cash out of my earnings as a blind man. In this connection it is somewhat ironic that my present average earnings considerably exceed those of the worker in question. It goes without saying that I did not sell my house and that it is now paid for.
(3) Since early 1944 I have been completely self-supporting. I was an assembly worker at the Ford Motor Company from 1944 to 1948, and I have been a piano technician ever since. My income at the present time is as good as it ever was when I was sighted.
(4) At the same time that the agency was handling my case in the manner described, it was holding itself out to the public as the spokesman for the blind of the Detroit area and as the interpreter to the community of their needs and capacities. The total effect of the program which it was carrying on and of the publicity which it gave to the program was to confirm the community at large in its erroneous belief that blindness and helplessness are synonymous terms. Further, the total effect of its program and publicity was (even though not intended to be so) discouraging to the blind individual seeking to achieve independence and self-support. It emphazided basket weaving and other forms of low-paying, noncompetitive, subsidized employment in its television and other advertising and in general portrayed the blind as inferior and incapable of anything more than a limited existence.
I have brought out these details to contrast two different philosophies. My story is not unique. It is a part of a pattern too often repeated.
Because of the support and stimulation I received from organizations of the blind, I actively sought contact with them and their members. If there had been an active effort on the part of the leaders of the agency to consult with organizations of the blind and if the blind had been thought of as equals and partners in a joint effort, the entire orientation and thinking of the agency might have been different, and it might have been of real help to me instead of being a hindrance.
I believe that every agency doing work for the blind should actively encourage the blind to organize and speak for themselves even if this leads at times to criticism of agency programs and policies. I believe that every agency doing work for the blind should, as a matter of regular procedure, consult with organizations of the blind. This need not, as some have claimed, lead to conflict and disruption of programs. Instead, it should inevitably lead to long-range harmony. The objectives and interests of the organized blind and of the agencies establised to serve the blind may not always now be the same, but they can be the same. They can and will be the same when the agencies recognize the right of the blind to organize and speak for themselves and have a voice in programs affecting them. As long as some agencies believe that there may be a chance of wiping out the independent organizations of the blind in their communities and of thus having an unchallenged empire, the temptation will simply be too great, and there will certainly be conflict. When the right of the blind to organize and be consulted about programs has been written into the law, the situation will be different. The basis for harmony will be established.
This is why I so strongly support S-2411 and its companion H. R. 8609. These bills are right, and they are praticable. They will benefit every blind person in the United States. They should be passed into law.
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(Ed. Note: The following timely editorial, entitled "Penny Wise; Pound Foolish", appeared in The Capital Times , Madison, Wis., Feb. 3.)
"When the one-year residency relief law was before the 1957 Legislature, The Capital Times warned that such a law, which flatly denies relief to destitute people, would result in an increase in crime. Such laws drive men with hungry children to desperate ends. They send women into prostitution and increase juvenile delinquency. They are like the old English Poor Laws, which were discarded years ago when the English began to realize that the resulting cost of crime was more than the costs of relief.
"The other day Police Chief Howard O. Johnson of Milwaukee announced that there has been a sharp increase in the number of hold-ups and burglaries in the City of Milwaukee. He cited a number of cases of persons charged with armed robbery who said they were forced into crime because they lost their jobs and could not support their wives and children ... Yet Sen. Walter Merten (R-Milwaukee) continues to boast that the law is saving money for taxpayers.
"With unemployment mounting this situation is going to become increasingly desperate. Wisconsin is going to have a chance to measure the pennies it saves on relief costs against the dollars it will lose combatting the rise in crime--not to mention the broken homes and lives that this foolhardy piece of legislation will leave in its wake.
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From the WCWB Newsletter: "It was with deep regret that we learned of the death of Mr. Ernst Retsler on Dec.17th last. Ernst Retsler had for a number of years been president of the Swedish Association of the Blind.... We also learned with great regret of the death on Jan. 15 of Colonel Sir Jamshedji N. Duggan, Vice-President of the National Association for the Blind of India.... We should like to take this opportunity of expressing our best wishes for the speedy recovery of Professor Dr. Carl Strehl who was injured in an automobile accident last autumn. Dr. Strehl has been active in the service of the blind of Germany for nearly half a century. Besides directing his well-known school for the blind in Marburg, Dr. Strehl is President of the Society of Blind Intellectuals. Last July 12 he celebrated his 70th birthday, which brought him the con- gratulations and good wishes of organizations for the blind in many countries." (At the Paris meeting of the World Council in 1954, Dr. Strehl took an active part in the passage--after a bitter floor fight--of a resolution advocating a basic handicap allowance for the blind, free of the means test.)
"We wish to extend our warmest congratulations to Mr. J. C. Colligan who was invested with the Order of the British Empire in the last New Year's Honors List by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. This honor comes as a fitting tribute to the valuable work accomplished by Mr. Colligan in the cause of the blind in his capacity as Secretary-General of the largest private agency for the blind in Great Britain. Mr. Henri Amblard is also warmly to be congratulated on having been selected to serve as a member of the official French Government delegation which toured the U.S.A. in January 1957 under the auspices of the American Legion. This choice was a well-deserved tribute to his long years of service as Secretary-General of the French Union of the War Blind.... We must both congratulate Mr. Mitat Enc [Turkey] on having been granted a two- year fellowship at the University of Illinois,... and express our regret that he has thereby been led to tender his resignation as Chairman of the W.C.W. B. Committee on the Prevention of Blindness.... Arising out of a resolution adopted by the Executive Committee of the W.C. W.B. in May last, the Council has created a standing committee on the Far East, South and South-East Asia Affairs. Mr. Kingsley C. Dassanaike of Ceylon has been appointed Chairman.... The aim of the Committee will be to work jointly towards the solution of problems that are specifically regional in character, and to present reports regularly to the Executive Committee and General Assembly covering the progress achieved in their particular area. ... Following discussion on the possible maintenance of the birthplace of Louis Braille as an international shrine, ... a Com- mittee headed by our honorary life member, Mr. Georges L. Raverat, was appointed to conduct negotiations and to administer the planned trust fund to be used for renovating and maintaining the property. We are pleased to report that agreement has been reached in this matter with the French Ministry of Public Health and the Mayor of Coupvray and a contract will shortly be signed under the terms of which W.C. W.B. will be granted full trusteeship of the property and the effects of the museum maintained there.... In implementation of Resolution VIII adopted by the 1954 World Assembly, the Council is seeking to encourage the development of the rehabilitation of blind persons cured of leprosy and is initiating wide-scale research into this matter.
"The Croisade des Aveugles has started an agricultural training center for young blind men at Villeneuve-Sainte-Odile, France. Although this center is still in the initial stage, it is hoped that it will be able to undertake the training of 20 - 30 young men. Courses will be from one to three years' duration, according to the age of the trainee. Instruction will be given in horticulture, tree-growing and poultry-keeping, also in the care of cows, goats, etc.
"The Lighthouse for the Blind in Osaka mentions a most successful venture undertaken in that country in the voluntary transcribing of Braille books which was started by convicts at Osaka Prison. A very considerable number of books have been transcribed in this manner and it seems that the practice has proved beneficial both to the blind and to the prisoners themselves, who have the satisfaction of helping others instead of wasting time on futile prison tasks, thus aiding their own rehabilitation.
"A holiday center for blind intellectuals from several countries has been opened in a private estate at Arrichulo, near San Sebastian, Spain. This belongs to a blind French resident, M. Bocquet and his Spanish wife, who offer one month's hospitality each summer to fifteen young blind students. The aim of this center is to permit an exchange of ideas and to foster friendships between young blind intellectuals.... Students from Armenia, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Holland and Switzerland were among those who visited the center last year. All expenses were paid by their hosts.
From the New Beacon (London): "Mr. Dolgov, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare in the U.S. S.R., is reported to have said that blind and deaf people are given the opportunity to learn a trade and to find work in places organized for this purpose by voluntary bodies of the blind and deaf, in state or cooperative enterprises. He said that the most popular forms of work undertaken by the blind are die-stamping, metallurgical and electrical assembly, knitting machine operation, packaging and luggage manufacture.
"The Spanish National Organization for the Blind has authorized the setting up of a school in Madrid, together with training shops for wire-work, carpentry, and locksmith and electrical work. They are starting to launch out realistically into the training of young blind people for up-to-date employment, and new industrial techniques, following the successes of blind workers in industrial pursuits in Britain. "
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by California Supreme Court
A law review article by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, president of the National Federation of the Blind, has received highly favorable mention and extensive quotation at the hands of the California State Supreme Court.
In a case entitled Estate of Heard (49 A. C. 520), decided on December 21, 1957, the State Supreme Court cited the article by Dr. tenBroek, "California's Adoption Law and Programs" in support of its decision to affirm the judgement of the trial court in an adoption case.
The unusual praise accorded the article, originally published in the Hastings Law Review , provides striking evidence that the N. F. B. president is no less in the forefront of professional thought, as a constitutional scholar than as an administrator of social welfare programs and a pioneer leader of the organized blind movement.
In its ruling the California Supreme Court upheld a trial court judgment which had interpreted the term "lawful issue" as used in a will, to include a child adopted by the son of the testatrix (female maker of a will) after the will had been made and the testatrix was dead.
In the course of its ruling the Supreme Court said in part: "In an excellent article by Professor Jacobus tenBroek (6 Hastings Law Journal 261), it is pointed out in detail the effect of adoption, its steady increase and the necessity that an adopted child be treated the same as a biological child of the adoptive parents, and it is said: 'If the genetic connection is what is meant, it must be noted that the act of transmission is accomplished in a comparatively short time and does not necessarily involve any after-contact or relationship. Is this "natural relation" more natural or more important than the mutual reciprocal and continuous relation between parent and child, which may occur in adoptive or non-adoptive families, involved in the rearing of a child from infancy to maturity with all of the impact of day-to-day care and upbringing upon character, psycho- logy, out-look, emotional make-up, and even biology which that entails? In this sense, does not nature "do the work of nature" and create one a child who by nature is a stranger? In fact, in this sense, does not nature do the work of nature and create one a child who by nature is not a stranger?"'
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An agreement has just been reached between the NFB, the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and the Madison, Wis., Lions Club, for joint financial sponsorship of Skylark, the Braille magazine for the deaf-blind. Skylark is sent to deaf-blind people all over the English-speaking world. For a number of years it was sponsored by the American Theosophical Association, but a little over a year ago its Editor, Miss Lillian Cunradi, 731 Williamson St., Madison, Wis., was informed by this sponsor that it would be unable to continue its financial support. Publication had to be suspended until another source of financial help could be found.
Skylark is made up of one hundred percent of original material, written by the deaf-blind, about the deaf-blind, for the deaf-blind. In addition to the fiction and other features, its Editor has been able to pass on invaluable tips and techniques of adjustment to deaf-blindness, through a section devoted to that purpose. Miss Cunradi herself is totally deaf and totally blind. Richard Kinney, of the Hadley Correspondence School for the Blind, who was the first, (and I believe the only) deaf-blind person to complete a regular university course and receive a degree, states that she knows more deaf-blind people personally than anyone else living today including Helen Keller. During the period of suspension, she has received many scores of letters from disappointed former readers of her magazine, pleading with her to make every effort to resume publication. The magazine will now again appear quarterly.
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(From the International Journal for the Education of the Blind ): ''Musicians, teachers and transcribers have looked forward expectantly to the completion of the new Braille Music Notation Manual which Mr. Harry V. Spanner, Braille Music Secretaty of the World Braille Council has been working on for the past three years under the sponsorship of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind.... The Braille edition of the manual has now been published and is available in this country through the American Foundation for Overseas Blind, 22 W. 17th St., New York 11, N. Y. at $2.50 per copy. Ink-print copies will also soon be available from the same source.... The American Sub-committee on Braille Music met Jan. 6-7, 1958... and reached, in summary... the unanimous decision to recommend the new manual for use in this country and Canada. "'
The American Sub-committee also discussed "the so-called 'note-for-note" method, which would result in the elimination of intervals in writing chords. It was decided that a realistic appraisal of this proposed innovation could only be reached through experimentation in actual usage, which is impossible at the present time. No recommentaion was made, therefore, to change the present style of embossing musical notation...'
The article ends by pointing out that the official approval of both the A.A.I.B. and the A.A.W.B., at the forthcoming conventions, is required before transcribers and publishers can be authorized to use the new Code.
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This past winter the American Printing House for the Blind completed its first one hundred years of outstanding service. This agency has richly deserved the admiration and gratitude which we all feel. The concept of service which it exemplifies could well be emulated by others. The Braille Monitor salutes Mr. F. Davis, Miss Marjorie S. Hooper and the rest of the devoted staff.
Because of the usual inclement weather at that season and because new buildings are in the process of construction, a formal celebration was postponed until later in the year. The birthday was signalized, however, by the announcement of a new process of Braille printing which will make possible the reproduction of books for which there is a limited demand in small quantities, at a reasonable cost. Even more important, it will make available an almost unlimited choice of widely varying textbooks which are so badly needed by blind students.
Quoting from The International Journal for the Education of the Blind, "Technically, the new process utilizes the vacuum-forming of plastics, which, of course, is not new to Braille. However, instead of making the plastic sheet the end product for reading, (which has many drawbacks, such as difficulty of binding the sheets, and unpleasantness to the fingers), double plastic printing plates are made similar to the metal plates used for printing books, and these master plates are then used to print small runs of a desired title. The purpose of this process is to take advantage of the work of the volunteer transcribers who make the original single, hand-transcribed copies. The embossed paper sheets Brailled by the transcriber are used as the master for making plastic printing plates, plastic molds being taken of both sides of each sheet, which are then fastened in registry with each other to form the male and female printing dies, or plates, to be used just like ordinary Braille plates for printing on paper. From there on, standard procedures for the binding of Braille books are employed....
"The advantages of the new process are manifold, (a) The result of the laborious work of each hand-transcriber who produces a single copy of a textbook can be multiplied many times, to the advantage of many children, without having the same book re-transcribed by hand over and over again, (b) Each blind child in a public school class with sighted children can hope to have the same title in Braille which is being used by his sighted classmates, even though the book in question may not be widely enough adopted throughout the country to make it feasible for press-printing, (c) A complete catalog of all textbooks will be available at a central source at all times, (d) Books of which a single hand-transcribed copy is now available, can be reproduced in a short time at reasonable cost, (e) Advantage can be taken of the federal funds for providing textbooks, so that the hand-transcribers can be released from the onus of re-embossing books by hand, and thereby can work toward the expansion of the catalog of available books, (f) Press-printed titles which have been dropped from the Printing House catalog can be reproduced in small quantities, if needed, if old copy can be located which is not too badly worn...."
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Only lack of space has prevented an earlier reporting of a most significant conference held in Concord, N. H. , on November 6, 1957. Earlier in the year, during the legislative session, Mr. Franklin Van Vliet, on behalf of the New Hampshire Federation of the Blind, secured an interview with Governor Lane Dwinell, and laid before him the very-serious lack of energetic activity on the part of the Division of the Blind, which had accomplished little or nothing in the way of obtaining employment for the state's 1,200 rehabilitable blind. Governor Dwinell called in Mr. James J. Barry, Commissioner of Public Welfare, who displayed a lively and sympathetic interest in what Mr. Van Vliet reported. Van Vliet laid before these two a carefully thought-out plan. As a beginning he proposed that a conference be arranged under the joint sponsorship of the New Hampshire Federation of the Blind, The Department of Public Welfare and the Governor's Committee on Employ the Physically Handicapped. This proposal was heartily endorsed by both officials and Van Vliet immediately set to work preparing an agenda and a program.
He did such a good job in publicizing this conference and in arousing the interest of both management and labor that, when Commissioner James J. Barry arose to open the meeting with a message of welcome, he found an unexpectedly large and important group in attendance. Commissioner Barry told the assemblage that there are several hundred New Hampshire blind who ought to be trained for work and given an opportunity for jobs. He told them that this was the first conference of its kind ever to be held in this state and that the initiative had come from the blind themselves. He said it was the hope of the sponsors that this meeting would create new interest and possibilities for the employable blind of New Hampshire.
Following this, a film, "They Also Serve, " was shown. The film covered a wide variety of jobs performed by blind persons and was very impressive to the group.
Next came a panel discussion during which various aspects of employment of blind persons in industry were brought to light. Several employers who had pioneered in the hiring of blind workers reported that their experience had convinced them that such workers, when placed on the right job, not only met production standards but also established records in safety superior to their sighted fellow workers. Absenteeism, they reported, was no problem here.
Then Mr. Adelard Cote, Commissioner of Labor, emphasized the need of educating potential employers to the capabilities of the blind. He recommended a survey of the various industries to determine what was available in the way of job opportunities and placements. Such a survey, he pointed out, could be very successful but it would be to no avail if it were not followed up vigorously and every opportunity capitalized.
The third and final phase of the meeting consisted of demonstrations performed by Mr. Thomas Wright, who is employed with the Kidder Press Co., of Dover, N. H., and Mr. Horatio Hendricks, darkroom technician, X-Ray Division of the Mary Hitchcock Hospital, Hanover, N. H., Mr. Wright showed the type of work which he performs at the Kidder Press. The assembly operations were connected with various types of drawer units. While he was demonstrating his duties, he dis- played skill and a high degree of dexterity, plus a good sense of humor, as he was explaining various steps to the completion of his job. Mr . Hendricks displayed the various steps which were connected with his duties as dark room technician. His supervisor, Dr. Sicamore, explained that he had had great difficulty in retaining a dark room technician who would be willing to stay in the dark continually. Mr. Hendricks has no problem along this line as it makes no difference to him whether he be in or out of the dark room.
The last of the demonstrations was an exhibition of two-thirds of the specific aptitude tests which are used by many industries for determining the potential of the individual in assembly work in industry. The tests were to show the manual and finger dexterity of the individual. These tests are used for sighted persons as well and have proven to be of great value in determining proper placement of people in industry. This demonstration was performed by Mr. Emile Morrissette who is a member of the New Hampshire Federation of the Blind.
In congratulating the New Hampshire Federation and its leaders on the successful staging of this conference Dr. tenBroek wrote: "Your achievement may well serve as an example of what can be done. You are to be highly commended for having initiated this idea and for having carried it out. Everything now depends upon follow-up. You can use the conference as a means of getting the employers and laboring people who were present to help you open up opportunities in other industries and businesses for blind people. Not much, however, is likely to happen unless you push your campaign to its fullest extent. ..."
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As announced in a previous issue, The New Jersey Blind Men's Association (the NFB affiliate since 1942) surrendered its charter in order that the larger organization, of which it is a part, might apply for affiliation. The formalities have now been completed and it seems appropriate at this time to publish more detailed information concerning the State Council of New Jersey Organizations of the Blind, as reported to Dr. tenBroek by Mr. Henry J. Kruse, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer.
It was founded in 1943. It is a loose federation of ten autonomous organizations of the Blind in New Jersey. In the Council, each member organization has three delegates and one vote. As stated in its constitution, "The purpose of this Council shall be to gather information on matters concerning the welfare of the blind residents of New Jersey and to disseminate such information among the members; to act as a medium for discussion of such matters and for formulating collective opinions on them when desired; to inform governmental authorities and the public concerning the needs and desires of the blind of the state and to endeavor to secure action in behalf of their welfare. The Council may seek representation on governmental boards, commissions, and the like to carry out these aims." The Council meets four times each year, and carries out an active program in line with the above stated purposes.
The Council's officers are presently as follows: President, George E. Burck, 27 Burlington Ave., Leonardo, N. J. ; First Vice-President, John Braddock, P.O. Box 2813, 20-12th Ave., Paterson, N. J. ; Second Vice-President, Milford Force, Fairview Farm, Neshanic, N. J.; Secretary-Treasurer, J. Henry Kruse, Jr., 127 Main St., Chatham, N. J.
There follows a brief description of each of the Council's ten member organizations:
Camden County Ass'n "Workers for the Blind (20 blind members). Purpose, to provide a home for the aged blind and to promote the welfare of the blind socially and educationally. President, Howard E. Goodlett, 515 Erie St., Camden, N. J.
Hudson County Social Club of the Blind (53 members). Purpose, to promote social activities among the blind. President, William Hein, 1011 Park Ave., Hoboken, N. J.
Lydia Hayes Memorial Ass'n for the Blind (80 members). Purpose, to work for the advancement of the blind residents of this state, through assistance to Home Teachers and through such other work as may contribute toward the general physical and social betterment of the blind. This Association's present main project is an effort to establish a home for the aging blind of the state. Chairman, Frederick Henn, Diamond Spring Road, Denville, N.J.
Middlesex County Association of the Blind (40 blind members). Purpose, to promote sight conservation and social activities. This Association's main project is the sponsorship of an eye clinic in Middlesex County, President, Milford Force, Fairview Farm, Neshanic, N. J.
New Jersey Blind Men's Association, Inc. (172 blind members). Purpose, to promote and sustain the citizenship of the blind and further the welfare of the blind socially, economically, physically, vocationally, mentally, morally and educationally. This Association's main project is Camp Happiness, a summer vacation rehabilitation camp for blind men, at Leonardo, New Jersey. President, William H. Hein, 1011 Park Ave., Hoboken, N. J.
New Jersey Foundation for the Blind (110 blind members). Purpose, to advance the social and recreational welfare of the blind af New Jersey. The main project of the New Jersey Foundation is Diamond Spring Lodge, Denville, New Jersey, summer vacation and rehabilitation home for blind women of New Jersey. President, Michael Laciopa, Hotel Douglas, Hill St., Newark, N.J.
North Jersey Association of the Blind (40 blind members). Purpose, to improve the condition of the blind socially and economically. President, Ernest Leach, 188 Oakwood Ave., North Haledon, N. J.
Raritan Bay Recreation Club for the Blind (21 blind members). Purpose, to unite the blind and friends of the blind of Raritan Bay and vicinity for the purpose of promoting co-operation and mutual helpfulness in all matters reflecting the welfare and improvement of the conditions of the blind and their families. President, James Guarino, 375 Mechanic St. Perth Amboy, N. J.
Trenton Association of the Blind (36 blind members) Purpose, to increase the social activities of the blind. President, Norbert Cifelli, 26 Edgemere Ave., Trenton, 8, N. J.
Union County Association of the Blind (64 blind members). Purpose, to provide social activities for the blind of Union County. President Ruth Lefferts, 717 Galvin Ave., Roselle, N. J.
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(Excerpt from a letter written by Dr. tenBroek to Frank Lugiano, President of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind): ".... In 1956 Congress added medical care provisions to the public assistance portions of the Social Security Act. Pursuant to these provisions, California has adopted a public assistance medical care plan for the aged, blind and dependent children. California has included in this program two groups of public assistance receipients who have not been eligible for matching grants from the federal programs. These are the blind who are on the Aid to the Partially Self-Supporting Blind and the Dependent Children who are in boarding homes and institutions. The blind who are on the Aid to the Partially Self-Supporting Blind are paid entirely from State and county funds. The federal government has refused to participate in that program on the ground that the property and income provisions are too liberal, as is the case with Missouri and Pennsylvania. Despite this fact, the federal officials have approved California's medical care public assistance program, saying that so long as all of the funds which go into the Aid to the Partially Self-Supporting Blind program are state and county funds, this is not a matter of concern to the federal government. So far as I can see, this is an exact contradiction of the position they have taken with respect to Pennsylvania and Missouri...."
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Mrs. Blanche E. Logan, one of the founders, and for six years the President of the Kansas Association for the Blind, passed away at the age of 84 early last month. In spite of being blind since she was nine years old, following an attack of cerebral meningitis, Mrs. Logan led a full life and was the envy of many of her friends who had no handicap. A talented musician, she was a successful piano and voice teacher, and composer of three preludes for the piano. As a member of the National Federation of Music Clubs, she was appointed Kansas chairman in 1917 and in Feb. 1919, organized the state federation. She served five years as its president, then was made honorary president. Mrs. Logan served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of Music Clubs four years. She was a charter member and past president of the Mozart Club, a past president of the Schumann club and an organizer of the MacDowell Club, all musical organizations in Kansas City.
On her birthday anniversary in 1954, the MacDowell and Mozart clubs honored her with a tea in which she was presented a scroll. The small, graying woman also listened silently as the women announced establishment in her honor of a $100 revolving scholarship to young students of the fine arts. At a dinner a year ago in Kansas City, she was the honored guest and heard 19 speakers praise her for her work with cultural groups.
Mrs. Logan was graduated from the State School for the Blind in 1893 and two years later married the principal, William J. Logan. A teacher in Kansas City schools, 46 years, he died in 1941. In 1921 she helped to organize the Kansas Association for the Blind. She worked for laws for the conservation of sight and for the rehabilitation of the blind. As a Home Teacher for the blind five years, she traveled throughout the state teaching others to read and write and to work in crafts. Mrs. Logan was one of the founders of the Catherine Hale Home for Blind Women in Kansas City. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and a past president of its Women's Council.
Last June she suffered a fractured hip but, with a telephone at her bedside, kept right on taking care of the many details connected with the work of her various organizations. Her lively interest in all that went on about her never slackened and her unconquerable spirit refused to surrender even after she was bedridden. She is one of those who can never be replaced.
The last time I visited our Kansas affiliate as a convention speaker it was Mrs. Logan who saw to it that I had every comfort, arranged press and radio interviews, personally introduced me to new members and displayed a warm solicitude and an amazing energy--her departure leaves me with a poignant feeling of personal loss.
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by Jacobus tenBroek
With the publication of its March issue, the New Outlook for the Blind, house organ of the American Foundation, has openly abandoned its pretense of above-the-battle neutrality on controversial issues and unleashed a carefully prepared all-out attack upon the Kennedy bill and the National Federation of the Blind.
Actively enlisted in this deliberate assault are the lengthy editor's column, "Editorially Speaking," conducted by Managing Editor H. M. Liechty; the regular column, "Hindsight," signed by Foundation Director M. R. Barnett; and various other material including especially a letter by Allen W. Sherman, an agency director of Cleveland, Ohio.
Mr. Barnett's "Hindsight" consists chiefly of some half-dozen quotations from agency heads expressing agreement with his earlier attack upon the Kennedy bill, (see story elsewhere in this issue). The letter from Mr. Sherman raises a philosophical point and conveys a misconception with which we shall find opportunity to deal in a future issue of the Monitor.
The most serious and by far the most significant of these various assaults upon our organization goals, purposes and leadership is that which is leveled by Editor Liechty in his editorial entitled "The Kennedy Bill." I should like therefore to examine its contents and import as closely as possible within the space which is available to me.
The preamble of the editorial reads: "We propose here to take a look behind the published reasons adduced in support of the proposal of S. 2411, 'the Kennedy bill, ' to examine the setting from which it springs, to study its originators' motivation and to indicate why we think enactment of such a measure would be disservice to blind people."
Note the wording of this paragraph It is not proposed to examine the philosophy of the Kennedy bill, through the "published reasons" and contententions of its advocates, which perforce must be debated and refuted on rational grounds confined by rules of logic and evidence. It is, rather, proposed to evade the issues thus presented in favor of the familiar device of the sophist, known to all debaters as the fallacy of ad hominem--the trick of assaulting the character and motives of those advancing the argument. In short, if you can't handle the argument, manhandle the arguer; "look behind" the issue, "examine the setting from which it springs, " smear its "originators" and their "motivation."
It is important to note this open resort to character assassination and bad-character insinuation, because its use has lately become standard operating procedure on the part of some who feel their empires threatened by the independent movement of the organized blind. One of the other members of this inner circle has already proclaimed his intention of sabotaging the National Federation by compiling an "evidence book," as he calls it, consisting of all the accumulated whispers, rumors and gossip against the Federation's leaders which assiduous digging may turn up. Nor is this the first and only instance of its kind.
In the face of the express abandonment of logical discourse and reasoned debate by the Outlook editor, one recalls with some sadness the statement of Foundation Director Barnett nearly a year ago that the appearance of the Kennedy Bill would occasion a serious "philosophical debate" among all those interested in the welfare of the blind. Indeed, in this very same issue of the New Outlook, Mr. Barnett reiterates his earlier sentiment in almost identical terms: "Believe me, this is one tempest which cannot be minimized by anyone on any side of it, because in its center are some exceedingly important and historical issues. It is a wind which will blow all of us a lot of good regardless of the immediate congressional decision which must occur." One can only regret that the members of his team (let alone Mr. Barnett) do not choose to abide by these ground-rules and to take account of the exceedingly important and historical issues.
Following his declaration of intentions, Editor Liechty continues: "Two major grievances that have been recorded and recited over and over again by a comparatively few vocal blind people are concerned with agency-client relationships and with the fundamental rights of the blind minority in society." Aside from this startling disparagement of the "fundamental rights of the blind" as mere grievances on the part of a few vocal blind individuals, the statement ignores such facts as that the mail which flowed into the office of Senator Kennedy following his introduction of S. 2411-- mail from blind people in all walks of life and all parts of the land--was unprecedented in its volume, in the quality of its content, and in the fact that some 99 percent plus of the correspondence was in vigorous support of the legislation. Furthermore, it is shocking to discover that the editor of a journal for the blind should seek to belittle their capacities by spreading the ancient canard that only a comparatively few among the blind are vocal on the issues which most directly concern them. (This particular "outlook,'' it should be said, is far from new; it has been, for the blind, an outlook to look out for.)
After a sentence observing that "these grievances" concerning the fundamental rights of the blind have "erupted into a dramatic outburst" in the form of the Kennedy bill, Editor Liechty goes on to set down what is surely one of the most candid confessions on record of the "custodial-paternalistic" prejudice on the part of many agency administrators--a confession which, incidentally, consitutes a far more sweeping indictment of the agency viewpoint than the organized blind have ever been prepared to make: "Principally the concern about agency-client relationships has centered on the custodial-paternalistic tendency in service to blind people, which is to an extent an inherent natural concomitant of any program in which society provides a service for its minority of less favored members, be the minority based on blindness or any other cause or condition." True, the damning character of the accusation is a bit qualified by the next sentence, which observes that this prejudice has become a matter of concern to social workers, whose recent literature "abounds in recognition of the importance of the dignity of the individual" in his agency relationships. But what the left hand of the editor apparently taketh away, the right hand immediately giveth back again, to wit: "The problem of the custodialism and paternalism has been reduced, to the extent that its inherent nature permits, by those of society's agencies which are in the forefront of progess.... Still, to expect society to be completely free of all suggestion of difference between the beneficiary of service and the rest of society is probably visionary, given human nature as it is. "
Who is it now that seeks to emphasize and perpetuate the "difference' between the blind and the "rest of society"? Who is it now--is it the leadership of the Federation or this semi-official spokesman for the ruling circle of the agencies--that calls attention to the condescending custodialism and patronizing paternalism of agency workers, not as an archaic and dying phenomenon, not as a curable prejudice, but as a permanent and ineradicable attitude--"an inherent natural concomitant" of agency services which can never be eliminated or surmounted. Indeed, even to hope for its removal is "visionary," for this sense of "difference"--that is, of inferiority--on the part of the blind client is a fixed characteristic of "human nature."
No one, surely could speak any plainer than that! With one sweep of the editorial pen, the blind are forever segregated from "the rest of society" by virtue of a "difference" which is irremovable. Moreover, it is not only the difference which is irremovable but the paternalistic-custodial attitude itself, however "problematical" or unfortunate it is recognized to be. The candor of this confession is breathtaking; its un-reserved straightforwardness a thing to be admired. But it is, of course, wholly false, at every turn and juncture of its tortuous path: false in its imputation of inferiority to the blind; false in its depiction of an undefined "difference" which is more than merely physical; false in its ruthless division of the population into the opposed categories of the "blind minority" and the rest of society; "false in its damning attribution of the "custodial-paternalistic" attitude to all who work with the blind; false, finally, in its appeal to a nonexistent substratum of unalterable "human nature."
Only one further comment need be made to Monitor readers concerning this incredible declaration of the Outlook editor: File--but do not forget. For, with all its flagrant faults and compound fallacies, the statement goes to the heart of the matter. It illuminates with crystal clarity the fundamental difference between the outlook of the organized blind and the outlook of those who would impress upon them the crumbs of paternalism and the silken chains of custodialism.
The next paragraph of the editorial carries the argument an interesting step forward. "Condemning 'custodialism, '" writes Mr. Liechty, "as a sin specifically of individuals in 'agencies for the blind' is both un-just and unrealistic. " But not, apparently, untrue. Now the self-indictment has deepened a notch: custodialism admittedly exists, and what is more it is a "sin"--but it would be unfair to imply that agency workers are the only sinners. Of course, Federation spokesmen have never implied that there are no sinners outside the agencies, as well as within; nor, as a matter of fact, have they asserted that all individuals in the agencies are sinning custodialists. Here is the crucial difference in viewpoint: Editor Liechty believes that all agency people are by definition afflicted with the disease of custodialism; the Federation believes that a great many such people have succeeded in avoiding the infection, and that still others of them have found the cure.
I WANT TO STAND UP, HERE AND NOW, AGAINST THIS UNJUSTIFIED ATTACK UPON ALL AGENCIES FOR THE BLIND. I want to say once more, as I have always said, that there are agencies which do not display the "custodial-paternalistic" attitude. May I quote from a speech which I delivered before the Federation's national convention two years ago--and which expresses a sentiment that has been repeated in all other public declarations on this subject: "No one could ask, it is true, for any more conscientious and devoted public servants than those who serve in the rank and file of the agencies for the blind, public and private. The leaders of many agencies, too must be given commendation for enlightened policies and worthwhile programs. No one can doubt either that the agencies when so manned and so led may be of immense and constructive assistance in a multitude of ways, during the onward movement of the blind into full membership in society."
I hope that this quotation will suffice to set the record straight. The reader is advised to bear it in mind as we approach the climax of Mr. Liechty's editorial attack. His next statement reads as follows: "Railing against it [custodialism] is an easy method (and it has been so used) for rousing 'the rank and file' of blind people and rallying them around the idea that 'the agencies' are 'entrenched, ' malign, imposed by evil motivation, and intent upon capitalizing on the poor blind individual's disadvantage for the personal aggrandizement of individuals identified with the agency. " Of course, one can hardly "rail" at custodialism if one considers it to be an innate and irremdiable attribute of human nature; but surely if one believes this virus to be both evil and remediable, it is entirely sensible and morally obligatory to rail against it in the strongest and most rousing terms possible.
But let us turn this argument around and see how it looks. It would then read approximately as follows: "Railing against the 'demagoguery' of an alleged band of troublemakers among the blind, who are assertedly trying to turn the blind against all the agencies, is an easy method (and it has been so used) for rousing 'the rank and file' of agency people and rallying them around the idea that the blind leaders are 'entrenched,' malign, imposed by evil motivation, and intent upon capitalizing on both the blind and the poor agency worker for the personal aggrandizement of individuals identified with the organized blind movement. " Now recall the opening paragraph of the Outlook editorial; is not this precisely what is being undertaken?
Let us move on to the next bone of contention. (The term is used advisedly, since there is little meat on it.) "To call the [Kennedy] bill 'A bill to protect the right of the blind to self-expression through organizations of the blind' is clearly a misrepresentation of its purpose. To say that to secure and assure freedom of expression through organization is a valid reason for enactment of such legislation is to assume either that the general policy of present services to blind persons is characteristically in opposition in principle against organizations of blind people, or that isolated instances of such acts as are interpreted and alleged to be opposition warrant the immense leverage of a Congressional act to combat them. We venture that the common sense of the general public as well as the reasonably unbiased judgment of blind people and workers for blind people would regard either assumption as nonsense on the face of it...."
We venture, in our turn, that the common sense of the public, of the blind, and of more agency workers than this editor would care to admit, is just common enough and sensible enough to wonder whether the self-confessed "custodial-paternalism" of the administrators, with their insistence upon the unbridgeable "difference" and permanent inferiority of the blind is consistent either in principle or in practice with the independent self-organization of blind people. Is not the assumption of such a consistency "nonsense on the face of it"? And we venture, further, that the common sense of the public and of the blind is just realistic enough to want to know whether the "instances of such acts of opposition" are in truth merely "isolated"--or whether they are not demonstrably and patently related as parts of a pattern of systematic opposition whose existence is once more revealed (if at the present date it still needs revealing) by this frankly dedicated and carefully planned issue of the New Outlook . In view of this single concerted attack upon the effort of the blind to seek protection of their organizations--not to mention the documented cases of interference and intimidation in state after state, too well known to Monitor readers to need retelling here--in view of this attack alone, is not the assumption that no systematic opposition exists to organizations of blind people plainly "nonsense on the face of it"? Let the reader, in his "reasonably unbiased judgment, " answer the question for himself.
But wait: the reader need not trouble to find the answer. For the answer is furnished by Mr. Liechty in his next paragraph-- re-furnished, to be precise, since it is a powerful restatement of the paternalistic pathology of agency administrators: "Let him who decries custodialism and who champions the cause of blind people--the organized agency member, blind or sighted, the individual or corporate representative of 'the blind,--remember that the client-become- social-worker or agency administrator and the social-worker-become-client would on the average, because he is human, ultimately revert to the attitude inherent in his situation. Therefore, to transpose their roles would not provide the solution. Actually, one could cite instances of organizations of blind people whose approach and practices are custodial and paternalistic in the extreme, if not to say authoritarian."
In other words (if other words are needed), the approach and practices of agency people may be custodial and paternalistic in the extreme, not to say authoritarian--but what can you expect? They're only "human." Their attitude is simply inherent in their situation. Moreover, there are some blind organizations that are just as bad. This latter contention clearly rests on the premise that crime is somehow made less crimina --or brutality less brutal, or tyranny less tyrannous--if it can be demonstrated that there are other criminals, brutes and tyrants loose in the world. The pure beauty of this logic is exceeded only by the fragile charm of the argument which precedes it. Examine it closely, with only the slightest paraphrase: let him who decries custodialism (admittedly an evil and a blight) remember that if he were to become himself a social worker or agency administrator he would on the average, because he is human, fall heir to the same corruption! One can only stand disarmed and contrite before so humble a plea for tolerance and forgiveness, for a sympathetic understanding of the plight of these poor sinners caught in the fell clutch of circumstance. But one's contrition is mingled with the suspicion that man--even agency man--is ultimately the master of his fate and must bear the burden of responsibility (both legally and morally) for his behavior and attitudes. To understand the subjective and objective compulsions behind custodial and paternalistic prejudices is one thing; to condone, excuse, or overlook them is quite another.
Limitations of space and deadline unfortunately preclude a complete line-by-line examination of this Outlook editorial. One last turn of the argument, however, requires our attention. "It remains," writes Mr. Liechty, "for us to seek out the true motivation that induced the proposal in question"--that is, the Kennedy bill. There follows the accusation that the "original conception" of the measure "lies not so much in pure humanitarianism as in anti-agency motivation"--an "animus" which assertedly has been carefully nutured over the years by "an able, vocal and persuasive leadership of groups of blind people" which can only be called "demagoguery. "
The first point to be made concerning this charge is that, if what Mr. Liechty has said about the attitudes of agency workers is at all correct, then the deepest and most animated "anti-agency motivation" is wholly justified and indeed unavoidable on the part of the blind who are clients. But let it be said once more that we of the Federation do not accept this blanket condemnation of the personnel of agencies for the blind; and since we do not and have not, any assertion of our "anti-agency animus" is--to put it in polite terms--lacking in truthfulness.
But there is more to this attack upon us than the false charge of hatred for all the agencies. There is the dark and sinister suggestion that the leadership of the organized blind is impelled by selfish and unscrupulous motives of some unspecified kind. Now, in one sense it is not difficult to understand how Mr. Liechty has come to arrive at this forbidding conclusion. For he has made unmistakably clear his own acceptance of the ancient stereotype which imputes an innate inferiority and permanent dependency of status to the blind. Given this assumption, any movement on the part of such people toward independence and self-expression can only be a wicked scheme of unscrupulous agitators--since, as long as "human nature" is what it is and the "blind minority" are what they are, such a movement is a visionary snare and delusion.
But, beyond this, the specific object and announced intention of the Liechty editorial is to unveil and expose the "real" motivations of those who urge the Kennedy bill and work for self-organization and self-expression by the blind, After all these paragraphs of analysis and innuendo, then, after the editorial ball is over, what are the exposed motivations? Where are the promised facts of skullduggery and self-aggrandizement? What is it exactly that the leaders of the organized blind have to gain from their nefarious campaign?
The answer is, of course, that they have a very great deal to gain, and that their purposes are indeed highly personal and self-interested. They stand to gain no wealth or career advantage, since all of them serve without compensation and conduct their own careers outside the movement. But they do stand to gain immense satisfaction from the knowledge of a cause well-served, and (one ventures to predict) of a legislative job well-done. They stand to gain, together with their fellow blind in all walks of life throughout the land, increased self-respect and social acceptance--enhanced enjoyment of the fruits of liberty and the rights of citizenship which are owing to all Americans, and which--God and Congress willing--will not much longer be withheld from those of us who are blind.
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The West Virginia Federation of the Blind will hold its annual convention at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Clarksburg, Aug. 16-17.
In late January Earl Scharry spent several days in Albany, N. Y., in consultation with the Legislative Committee of the Empire State Association of the Blind. Finishing touches were given to a number of bills to be introduced this session and sponsors for them were secured.
Our South Carolina affiliate will hold its annual convention in Spartanburg on May 3rd and 4th.
The new Editor of the NCFB Inde pendent F orum is Clarence E. Collins, Route 11, Box 155, Charlotte, N. C., but Marie Boring will continue to send in editorials and news items.
Many blind applicants for employment in open industry are turned off with the old bromide about the employment of handicapped people increasing the cost of employer's workmen's compensation policies. This is, of course, pure hogwash. Such insurance rates are based solely on the number of accidents which have occurred among the employees of a particular industry in the past. Taking on handicapped employees has no effect on this rate unless the accident rate thereafter increases. All statistical studies show that the opposite is the case. Some employers and personnel men apparently believe what they tell the blind applicant, but the great majority merely use this as a convenient excuse.
In the course of his current research, Paul Kirton has unearthed a great variety of state statutes which apply to this situation. A few states permit blind workers to waive their insurance rights--which is certainly not an answer. Minnesota has the simplest and, Paul believes, the best law covering this subject. Here is the meat of it: "An insurer, or an agent, or an employee of an insurer shall not make or change a rate which discriminates against the employment of a person who is physically handicapped through the loss, or loss of use, of a member, whether due to accident or other cause. " Since eyes are listed in the schedule of damages along with arms, legs, etc., they are evidently considered to be "members".
Here is the present Oregon statute dealing with wages paid in state-operated sheltered workshops: "The Commission shall pay visually handicapped workers who have completed their training suitable compensation for their work in the Oregon Industries for the Blind. The wages to be paid... shall be comparable to the wages paid by private industry within Oregon for comparable work. " In most states the law speaks of "reasonable" or still more often, of "suitable" wages, but Paul tells me the Oregon statute is the only one which defines the meaning of "suitable" wages. In the absence of such a statutory definition, various state agencies have developed widely differing concepts of "suitability". Some workers in state-operated sheltered shops (as well as the great majority in privately operated shops), would probably take strong exception to the use of the term "suitable", as applied to the wages they are now receiving.
Through the enactment of Senate Bill No. 9 by the last session of Delaware legislature, that state joined the increasing number which have removed the statutory ceiling on public assistance grants to the blind.
Governor Foster Furcolo, of Massachusetts, has appointed John Nagle, president of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts, to the Advisory Board of the Mass. Division of the Blind. He was sworn in on Thursday February 20.
On Feb. 5 the Nevada Aid to the Blind Advisory Committee met in Reno. It was decided to follow two of the recommendations contained in the Nevada Survey Report, which was prepared by the National Federation in 1956 and which had received the publicly expressed approval of the Nevada Governor. The first of these was that the jurisdiction of the Committee be enlarged to cover all blind programs in the welfare department, its scope or function to be to advise on all phases of services to the blind with regard to basic policies, to interpret such policies to the public and to organize support for these policies. The second was that the Committee it-self be expanded to 11 members, three of which are to be from the membership of the Nevada Federation of the Blind.
Dr. tenBroek was one of the judges in the literary contest for blind writers conducted by the Jewish Braille Institute of New York. On the evening of March 11, the winners were announced and the two principal speakers were Pearl Buck, the famous novelist, and the NFB president.
On March 1, the Wisconsin Council of the Blind unanimously reelected its president for a fourteenth consecutive one-year term.
The other evening, at the home of Jimmy Sletten, I listened to a tape which he had received from Hubert Smith, Ways and Means for the Blind, 334 Masonic Building, Augusta, Ga. It was read by Howard Griffis, the famous blind author, whose sensational return of sight received such wide publicity a few months ago. Mr. Griffis had written eight short articles for a newspaper, 700 to 800 words each, kaleidoscoping his ten years of blindness and his dramatic and moving experience when his vision unexpectedly returned. He speaks of "the blank wall of public prejudice which all the blind come up against and which defeats so many. " He says, near the end: "Nothing can ever make me forget, or lose interest in those who were my brothers during those ten years. "
Mrs. Bertina Brooks, president of our Dallas, Texas, Chapter, recently enjoyed a long visit with friends and relatives in her former home at Minneapolis.
Mr. and Mrs. Lee Riggs, of 3864 Charles St., Omaha, Neb., offer to put on magnetic tape the King James Version of the Bible or particular Books thereof, for anyone, anywhere in the United States, who will furnish the tape. There will be no charge.
A free lending library of college textbooks, tape recorded for the use of the blind is being organized at City College of New York, and New York University.
Our Massachusetts affiliate is on friendly and cooperative terms not only with its state agency but also with local agencies for the blind. A fine friendly gesture on the part of two of these latter occurred when the Boston Aid (Jewish) contributed $100 toward the cost of the coming national convention of the NFB and the Mass. Ass'n. for the Blind contributed $200 for the same purpose.
Louisiana has a statute, R. S. 46; 333, which blind vending stand operators in many states may very properly envy: "No blind person under this Sub-Part shall be required to pay any fee, service charge or other equivalent thereof upon the operation of a vending stand in a public building. Nor shall the blind person be disturbed in the security of the operation of the vending stand in any way. "
Those interested in vacationing at Sarasota, Fla., with its free motels available to the blind, should write to Mary K. Houck Foundation, FrankW. Moffett, Trustee, 1896 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota, Fla. Applicants are requested to furnish very full information and will be assigned dates.
In the course of his current research, Paul Kirton has dredged up a number of curious state statutes. In Virginia, for example, anyone who abducts or helps to escape an inmate of an institution for the insane, deaf, dumb, or blind shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to fine or imprisonment or both. Anyone who seduces a blind girl or a lunatic, who is an inmate of an institution, shall be subject to the death penalty.
George D. Heitzell has become Superintendent of the Missouri School for the Blind. His previous experience in the teaching and administrative fields has been entirely in the public school system. He is president of the Missouri Association of School Administrators.
Excerpt from a letter from Mr. Cooper Sontag, former Director of the Indiana agency for the blind: "...I left Indiana with some regrets, realizing that so much was yet to be accomplished in the work for the blind. However, my decision was based entirely on the fact that in having the opportunity to join the staff of the Ohio Valley Goodwill Rehabilitation Center, I could accomplish much more in the work for the handicapped. I would like to take this opportunity to briefly tell you of our work here in the Ohio Valley Rehabilitation Center....Our blind program will include all phases of rehabilitation, from the initial adjustment period through an integrated vocational training program to an independent rehabilitated life. Our professional staff is made up of the most competent and the most dedicated individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Our services are available to everyone throughout the Ohio Valley, and will supplement the services of the state agencies. Our services will always be available to every state agency to better meet the needs of the handicapped....I sincerely hope that I can continue to be of service to all of the blind, and that I can serve your organization in any way you may desire. Also, we would be very honored to have you visit our new Rehabilitation Center, and become acquainted with the comprehensive program we have to offer. "
In an editorial in We The Blind (Pa.), Miss Rita Drill urges the 6,000 members of the Pennsylvania Federation to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by the resignation of Mr. George Dauth by writing shoals of letters to the Governor, urging that a successor be appointed who is really qualified for the job rather than one whose only merit is that he is owed a political favor. In discussing the state agency, during recent years under Mr. Dauth, she writes: "The legend of its 'pro-blind' policy should be rewritten, from the myth that it is, into the rather grim story of high finance and low fulfillment. At present its 'pro-blindness 1 consists primarily of these three elements--pro-tective custody, pro-crastination and pro-prietary actions. "
Mr. C. C. Hennegan, who served for two years as president of the Charleston chapter of the West Virginia Federation, has found it neccessary to resign and move to Florida for reasons of health. He has been succeeded in office by Mrs. Lucille Chapman.
Still another Federation affiliate has begun issuing a regular news-letter. It is the West Virginia Bulletin, the first issue of which has been received at this office. It contains a great deal of important information.
The Lions of La Crosse, Wis., are sponsoring a "Know the Blind Week", March 9 -15, during which the state and local white cane traffic laws will receive badly needed publicity and the ten rules of courtesy will be called to the attention of the general public.
From the Dec. Ziegler Magazine: "The Plymouth Braille Room opened officially on Oct. 15 for another season of Braille transcribing. Please mail all requests for music and other Braille to Mrs. Ralph Stone, 75 Hicks St., Brooklyn 1, N. Y. (Ed. Note: This group does an immense amount of service without charge, and requests should include approximate length of material desired to be transcribed, reason for request and any other helpful information to a busy group.)
And again: "Father Thomas J. Carroll, Director of the Catholic Guild for the Blind, Boston, and Chaplain of the Blinded Veterans Association, and an active leader in work for the blind for many years, was one of the two recipients of the Migel Award for outstanding service to the blind, in October....The other recipient was J. Hiram Chappell, a vocational specialist in the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Washington, D. C. Mr. Chappell has been blind since his early twenties, and has contributed outstanding service to the welfare of the blind in his native Oregon and in his nationwide responsibilities, particularly in the fields of piano tuning and agriculture. " (Mr. Chappell was a speaker at the 1954 and 1957 NFB national conventions and Father Carroll may be one of our speakers in Boston next July.)
From a Jernigan letter: "Until very recently the Federation hired a considerable amount of printing done. In fact, the National office had so much expense for this item that in the last couple of months we have purchased a reconditioned press to do our own work and to cut expense. As you doubtless know, the Monitor is now coming out in print. We are doing the work of publication in the Federation office rather than jobbing it out. When we bring out a new edition of 'What is the National Federation of the Blind ', 'Who are the Blind Who Lead the Blind' , or any of our other standard pieces, present plans are to print them on our own machinery."
From the Missouri Federation Newsletter: "Just a bit of wonderful last minute news. The Boot Heel Association of the Blind in Cape Giradeau has blossomed forth into a full-fledged organization with 19 charter members as of Feb. 28. Their interest and enthusiasm is a thrill to see. Details will appear in the next report."
The Social Security Administration to date has no printed standards available to the public, which would govern when an applicant for the Social Security freeze of disability compensation has been turned down and wishes to appeal. Mr. Herbert Borgen, Chief Disability Standards Branch Division of Disability Operations, Bureau of OASI, has told our John Taylor that such standards are in the process of being prepared and should be available within a few months. We now have copies of the form which must be filled out if such an applicant wishes to be represented by an attorney or by some other individual, or perhaps by his organization. It may turn out that the NFB will be in a position to render still another service to its members.
Again from The Capital Times: "It has taken the Milwaukee Journal editors a long time to digest some of the stories their own reporters have been digging up about the hardship and suffering the residency law has inflicted on unfortunate people. We welcome them aboard.... This law needs to be repealed....Children should not be allowed to go hungry in a land which is agonized over the problem of what to do with its food surpluses. We know that these sentiments infuriate certain well-fed editors in this state. But we can't help blowing up when we see legislators loaded with the steaks and wines of the lobbyists sentencing little children to hunger."
A bill which is similar to, but not quite as harsh as the infamous Wisconsin one-year residency law, has just passed the New York Senate. If it passes the House, Governor Harriman is expected to veto it. New York has been the one state which has steadily rejected all attempts to impose residency restrictions on its public assistance program and there has been no influx into this state of "professional reliefers".
Excerpt from a letter written by a blind salesman in a western city to the Pa. Blind Merchants' Guild: "It was with a great deal of interest, that I, and possibly many other blind salesmen throughout the country, read the article appearing in the February issue of the Braille Monitor in regards to Mr. Kirton's attending your meeting....I was greatly interested in the mention of the possibility of forming a National Blind Merchants' Guild....I have talked this over with several salesmen in this area who agree that it is necessary to abolish such practices as those that are carried on against blind salesmen all over the country by agency officials and by such concerns as Skilcraft."
The April issue of Pageant contains an excellent article entitled "The Art of Being Blind", by Henry Lee. Although Mr. Lee is obviously sighted, he handles his subject with an amazing insight. He demolishes one stereotyped misconception after another in a calm, matter-of-fact way and without the slightest sentimentality, with striking real-life examples to drive home his points.
Mr. George Burton, 1315 Morgan Avenue, Parsons, Kansas, requests publication of the following notice: "The Kansas Federation of the Blind invites all of the Blind of Kansas to attend our annual convention, entertainment and banquet at 113 Laurel St., Independence, Kansas, commencing at one P.M. Saturday, May 3, 1958. Some local businessmen are paying for the banquet and other expenses, so all you have to do is be present. The blind living outside Kansas are invited as guests." (The Kansas Federation is not affiliated with the NFB.)
The Greensboro Record, Jan 27, remarks editorially: "That was a clever idea which somebody came up with when members of the North Carolina Federation of the Blind Credit Union got ready to hold an election. By-laws of the organization call for a secret ballot. Naturally, such balloting could not be done in the orthodox manner of marking a ticket. So it was decided to use marbles, dominoes, buttons and other objects, representing specified candidacies. Paper bags were substituted for ballot boxes. Federation members cast votes for the candidates of their choice by dropping the proper objects into the bags. Handicapped persons, as in this instance, show ingenuity which sometimes makes the rest of us ashamed. They have an independence that might well be emulated by those who even with all their faculties look to others for help...."
And in a feature story on Jan 23: "We started to call the credit union Bootstrap because that's just what we intend to do-- pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. The credit union, as the federation, is run by the blind for the blind. It is dedicated to the economic betterment of the blind in this state," said Mrs. Caskey, whose husband, Ralph, is one of the most active sightless members. "The credit union now has about 130 members--persons who are members of the federation or their families. About 75 to 80 will attend Saturday's meeting from 20 different communities. During this first year the organization has loaned over $13,000 and has assets of over $9, 000. A 4 percent dividend on shares has been declared and the state auditor gave the group an excellent report...."
Blind since the age of 20, William Powers graduated from the Law School of Boston University in 1932, second in his class. In 1936 he was elected Probate Judge in his home town, Cumberland, R. I. He held this post until his election in 1948 to the office of Attorney General and was regularly re-elected for the next ten years. On Jan 7 of this year, a joint session of the Rhode Island Legislature elected him to a vacancy in the State Supreme Court.
A last minute telephone call from Marie Boring informs me that H. A. Wood, Director of the North Carolina Commission for the Blind, has thrown up the sponge and surrendered copies of the official minutes of the meetings of the Commission for the inspection of our affiliate. North Carolina law provides that these minutes are to be considered public documents but Mr. Wood had refused to permit their inspection. The NCFB brought suit to force him to do so and it was not until the case was about to be called for trial that Mr. Wood's attorney announced that copies of the official minutes would be turned over to the plaintiff. This has now been done. Whether or not these official minutes have been "edited" or "doctored" remains to be seen.
The Empire State Association of the Blind will hold its 1958 convention in Rochester, on October 18.
John Taylor has accepted an invitation to speak at the annual convention of the Florida Federation of the Blind, which will be held at the Hillsborough Hotel in Tampa, on May 30 through June 1.
On Jan. 17, Dr. R.C. Penix, who served the Arkansas Federation of the Blind as its first president, and Mrs. Arda Carter, also of Little Rock, were united in marriage at the home of the bride's sister. Dr. Penix has attended several national conventions and has made scores of friends in the NFB. The new Mrs. Penix has been employed as a hostess by the Wonder Bread Company of Little Rock, and is the present secretary of the Arkansas Federation. Dr. Penix acquired not only a wife but also a 14-year-old daughter who possesses a straight "A" average in high school.
Durward McDaniel writes: "At our request and suggestion, the Oklahoma County AFL-CIO Council passed a resolution in support of the Kennedy-Baring bills like the one recently passed by the National AFL-CIO. The Secretary was directed to send copies to our Congressmen and Senators. This seems like a good local support technique which you may want to encourage by a suggestion in the Monitor. This is the one issue we have had which is' thoroughly understood and appreciated by organized labor, and I would like to see the alliance cemented as strongly as possible while the issue is alive."
The spring convention of the California Council of the Blind will be held in Oakland at the Hotel Leamington on May 15, 16 and 17, 1958.
Massachusetts correspondent sends in this item: "The ABM President, John F. Nagle, will wed the President of the Worcester chapter, Miss Rita Virginia Clarke. Miss Clarke is also a member of the ABM Executive Committee. No official date has been set as yet. However, they are planning the wedding for either the latter part of May or the first week of June. John is now hunting for an apartment here. So it looks like a honeymoon at the NFB convention."
The Tennessee School for the Blind reports that its program for the training of blind adults in radio and television repairing, (which is available to blind residents of neighboring states, as well as to Tennesseans), has now been in operation long enough so that it can be said to have demonstrated its value and practicability.
Justice Thomas E. Fairchild, of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a speech on March 13 urged the elimination of the State's residence requirement for public assistance. "He said that public welfare departments had the means to verify the needs of applicants for aid and to detect any case of attempted fraud. He challenged assertions by proponents of the law that it will mean 'tremendous savings' for individual taxpayers. Fairchild said that no evidence had been reported to show that persons came to Milwaukee or any other particular community because of the relief laws in force there. He noted that a limited and restrictive welfare program brings other costs to the community in terms of poor health or crime." (Tom Fairchild was a law school classmate of mine.)
It is with deep regret that we report the sudden death on March 8 of Mr. Sam Starkey, of Pittsburg, Pa., president of the Alleghany County Chapter of the State Federation. Mr. Starkey had been carrying on an active rebuilding program in his chapter and had intended to come to Boston for his first national convention.
Thanks to the efforts of Mr. J. A. Asenjo, who was sent to Brazil by the International Labor Organization, the first kiosk (vending stand) under the management of a blind person, has just been opened in the lobby of the Public Health Building in Sao Paulo. The Foundation for Books for the Blind, of Brazil hopes to open similar stands in other government buildings in that country, with the active cooperation of the official government.
From the New Beacon: "A village for the war-blinded, planned and started by Cardinal Spellman of New York and President Syngman Rhee of the Republic of Korea, has been constructed to give the war-blinded of the Korean Armed Forces and their families an opportunity to establish normal lives. To date the village has 15 two-family dwellings, which are served by a public bath and other facilities. The villagers have taken up numerous occupations. They have their own government and have made many improvements in the community. Construction work is still in progress. "
During its 27th biennial convention, held in Buffalo, New York, the Order of Alhambra voted $250,000 to establish a national project to help the blind. The money will be used to set up a school where teachers will be prepared to train the blind in reading Braille.
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