Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
BRAILLE MONITOR -- INK-PRINT EDITION
Forty-fourth Affiliate -- Only Four To Go
Battle Lines Tighten
Three Rights--And Three Hundred Thousand Wronged
by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek.
Misconceptions --"Does He Take Cream?
by Alma Murphey
Another Gifted Writer
Wonderful News From Atlantic City
N. F. B Endowment Fund Receipts
The Helpless Blind
Here and There
It has at last become possible to issue an ink-print edition of the edition of the Braille Monitor. The demand for such a publication has become overwhelming. For the time being, the publication of the ink-print edition will be experimental. Members of the NFB who are now on the mailing list will automatically receive the ink-print edition. Other friends of the Federation and interested persons may have their names placed on the mailing list by writing to NFB headquarters, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California,
The costs of off-setting and mailing are high. These costs should be met by the readers. The normal way of doing this would be to charge for subscriptions. On the other hand, all Federation members and friends who do not read Braille and who can read or have read the ink-print edition should have an opportunity to gain first-hand acquaintance with Federation news. All readers who wish to io so should send $3. 00 to Federation headquarters to help meet expenses, Contributions should be made payable to: Braille Monitor Ink-Print Edition. If not enough people do so, we may have to discontinue the ink-print edition.
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The National Federation of the Blind is proud and happy to announce the affiliation of its forty-fourth member--The Utah Association for the Blind.
The Utah Association for the Blind is one of the oldest blind organizations in the country. Its articles of incorporation date back to 1923. It thus brings to the NFB thirty-four years of effort toward improving the lot of the blind.
The 1923 Articles of Incorporation state the purposes of the organization in comprehensive terms. They also have a far-sighted and modern sound, ante-dating and foreshadowing the goals of the NFB itself--"To assist its blind members , in seeking employment, and to assist them in their individual undertakings; to assist its members or other blind persons by making them loans from the funds of this corporation at a reasonable rate of interest.., to establish, from time to time, training classes for its blind members for the purpose of aiding them to fit themselves for practical employment; to assist the blind in the State of Utah, in any and every way deemed proper and advisable by the officers of this association. "
In 1933 the Articles were amended to make specific that one purpose was "To assist the blind in the State of Utah, in any and every way deemed proper and advisable by the officers of this Association, such as proposing and further conducting State or National Legislation in the interests of the blind and investigating such legislation as may be proposed by others." At the same time the organization moved from a single state-wide setup into one composed of chapters. The original 1923 provision had made eligible for membership "Blind persons residing in the State of Utah, and adjoining States, or those having an active interest in the blind... " The 1923 Amendment provided for the organization "of the blind and their friends in various parts of the State of Utah, into chapter groups subordinate to this group. Any organization of the blind within the State of Utah may become a chapter member of the corporation by receiving a favorable vote of the majority of the Board of Directors of the Association ......
Upon admission to the Association, the organization will become a chapter member of the Association but will retain its local identity and power of self-government in all matters not of a general character. "
Today the Utah Association has five chapters located in the northern part of the State, the central part, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Provo. In a state with a general population of only 688,000 our newest affiliate has a membership totaling about 360. There are roughly 140 in the Salt Lake Chapter, 90 in Ogden, 75 in Provo, 30 in the northern chapter and 25 in the central.
All the officers, except the treasurer, are blind. They are: President, Ralph Cracroft; 1st Vice-President, Lois Maxwell; 2nd Vice-President, Harold Kendall; Secretary, Zella Pessetto and Treasurer, Mrs. William Nichol.
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By the time this issue of the Braille Monitor reaches you, Congress will again be in session and a Senate hearing on S-2411 may be only days away. The tempo of activity increases with each passing day. Never before has the National Federation of the Blind thrown itself into a struggle with such single-minded determination or with such whole-hearted, enthusiastic support from its members. The organized blind people of the United States undoubtedly have more at stake in this conflict than in any previous one. A large proportion of us are economically vulnerable. It has been abundantly demonstrated that, in some states, there are administrators of public and private programs who apparently fear that a strong and independent organization of the blind could threaten their little empires. Some dread to have their incompetence exposed; others just love despotic power for its own sake. Still others really believe that they know best what is good for the blind and are fiercely resentful of any "interference." They are all paid, (most of them very well paid), to serve the blind but this does not prevent them from threatening the jobs and meagre public assistance grants of their often defenseless "Clients" when they feel their own vested interests may be threatened.
This is not the typical situation. In the majority of our states, the administrators of programs of services to the blind are honest, scrupulous, sincere public servants, Whatever their abilities may be, their intentions, for the most part, are above reproach. There is perhaps no pressing and immediate need for the Kennedy Bill in every state, as of today. But, people are eagerly supporting it in every state because they know only too well that conditions can and sometimes do change overnight. This problem can never be handled adequately at the state level.
There have been extremely heartening developments in the past few weeks. By far the most important of these has been the fact that hearings definitely have been promised by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. Federationists in almost every state have been taking full advantage of the opportunity to interview members of Congress while they are at home between sessions. In most states this has been well-organized and systematically carried out. Each Senator and Congressman has been given a copy of a brochure, "The Blind and the Right to Organize--a Report to the Nation", which contains a complete documentation of our case. Additional copies may be obtained from any of the three Federation offices, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California; 605 S. Few St. , Madison, Wisconsin, or 1908 Que St. , N. W., Washington, D. C.
Reports of the interviews with senators and Congressmen are now coming in from every section of the country and are extremely encouraging. Many have given unconditional pledges of support; a few have been more cautious and said only that they could see no reason why they should not be in favor of S, 2411 and H. R. 8609. Almost none have expressed definite opposition. Many have been incredulous, at first, until they examined the evidence. Nearly all have seemed shocked at what that evidence reveals.
It has become clear, however, that the opponents of the Kennedy Bill are going to try to exploit the opposition of the Blinded Veterans Association. Every effort will be made to convinve members of Congress that the blind are divided. As has been pointed out before in these columns, this "opposition" is pretty much a contrived and synthetic thing. While it is true that the national convention of the B. V. A. did adopt a resolution which expressed opposition to the Kennedy Bill on the ground that such legislation is not needed, the action was taken after a completely one-sided presentation. I have talked with many rank and file members in my travels and have found them uninformed and, usually, uninterested. These blinded veterans do not have 'h same problems as the civilian blind. They are not vulnerable to agency economic pressure. They enjoy high pensions, free of the means test and, if they care to work, the V. A. is active in finding jobs for them. No one grudges them these advantages but, by reason of the fact that they have them, they are not qualified to judge as to the need for legislation affording the civilian blind some degree of protection.
As early as last July the Senate requested the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to state its position with respect to S-2411. At this writing, no reply has been received.
Congressman Baring has also written directly to Secretary Folsom and that letter is so excellent that it is reproduced here: "Dear Mr. Secretary: While I have not heretofore had the pleasure of discussing with you the bill I introduced last July, H. R. 8609, to protect the right of the blind to self-expression through organizations of the blind, I am positive you and I have a deep mutual interest in the enactment of this proposed legislation.
" I have followed the progress of the organized blind for the past few years and have become personally acquainted with many of the officers and members of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind, the only national organization of blind people. I have read and discussed practically every phase of their activities and programs, their objectives and philosophies. I am fully-aware of an existing effort to impede their progress, because their progress has been detrimental to the interests of certain quasi-public organizations which have assumed the role of spokesmen for the blind.
"I have carefully studied the resolution adopted by the American Association of Workers for the Blind at their convention held in Chicago last July and the special release dated July 16, 1957 by Mr. Robert M. Barnett, Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind, Inc. I have compiled in my office voluminous data verifying conditions presently existing in several states where programs supported by federal funds are administered. I know of instances of personal threat to individuals who have proposed joining organizations of the blind. I am enclosing for your convenient reference a copy of the resolution adopted by the American Association of Workers for the Blind and a copy of Mr. Barnett 's special release. I shall not comment further at this time on these two documents because they speak more in their own condemnation than I would want to say. I believe these papers, together with reports of questionable activities in several states, which I am sure have been called to your attention, fully justify the need of such legislation as set forth in H. R, 8609.
"It is my earnest hope that public hearings will be held on this bill and on the identical Senate bill S-2411, at the next session of Congress. You will of course be asked for your views on these bills through regular channels.
"In the meantime, as the author of H. R. 8609, I would greatly appreaciate your comments and the endorsement of your Department. I know that the bills give full support to the expressed standard policy of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. I read with great interest a copy of your letter to Dr. Jacobus tenBroek dated June 28, 1957, which was reprinted in a report to the nation issued by the National Federation of the Blind. In that letter you said your Department, as a matter of standard policy, consults with interested organizations, including those of the blind, in the formulation of sound policies in developing and administering the programs of the Department, and that your policy would further protect organizations of the blind from interference by any officer or employee of the Department. H. R. 8609 would direct your Department to the fullest extent practicable to the fulfillment of these policies, namely, to advise with representatives of organizations of the blind in the formulation and administration of programs for the blind, and secondly to refrain from exerting influence against organizations of the blind.
"However, the problem extends far beyond the administrative jurisdiction of your Department, and to merely remind you of your administrative responsi-bilities under your standard policies would not accomplish the desired result. Because of the diversification of interests involved in the solution of the problems faced by the blind today, administrative correction is not feasible nor practical, and certainly not adequate. At this point the only real solution lies within the authority of the Congress to enunciate the Constitutional rights of the blind through legislative enactment and to punctuate the blinds' message to the Nation by holding public hearings before Congressional committees, so that the public may know of and have an opportunity to evaluate the many roadblocks that have constantly harassed the blind in their progressive effort and in their fight for social and economic equality, Sincerely, Walter S. Baring, Congressman for Nevada. "
The time has now come for every organization and every individual in the NFB to write to Senator Hill, or to a member of his Committee, asking support for S-2411. This action can not be postponed, or it will be too late! All letters and telegrams should be sent in care of Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. Here are the names of the members of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare:
(Democrats): Lister Hill, Alabama, Chairman; James E. Murray, Montana; Matthew M. Neely, West Virginia; John F. Kennedy, Massachusetts; Pat McNamara, Michigan; Wayne Morse, Oregon; and Strom Thurmond, South Carolina.
Republicans): H. Alexander Smith, New Jersey; Irving M. Ives, New York; William A. Purtell, Connecticut; Barry Goldwater, Arizona; Gordon Allott, Colorado and John Sherman Cooper, Kentucky.
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An Address by Professor Jacobus tenBroek President, National Federation of the Blind
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. "
So said the Great Commoner, Edmund Burke, nearly 300 years ago. And speaking of those who had organized the political associations of Great Britain, he declared: "They believed that no men could act with effect who did not act in concert, that no men could act in concert who did not act with confidence, that no men could act with confidence who were not bound together by common opinions, common affections, and common interests. "
No luster has been lost from these words over the intervening centuries. Their meaning, if anything, is magnified today, in our modern age of mass organization and mass communication, of vast diversity of interests and differences of opinion. But if the argument for association still holds good for the generality of men, it has a special urgency for the blind men and women of America.
For if we cannot say that "bad men" have combined against us, we can and do say that men of bad philosophy and little faith have done so-sighted and sightless men whose vision is short, whose ears are stopped and whose minds are closed by institutional and occupational self-interest, whose banner is the wretched patchwork of medieval charity and poor relief.
When such as these combine, the blind indeed must associate: else we shall fall, as we have fallen in the past, one by one, a merely pitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
And if it is also true, as Burke believed, that no men can act with effect who do not act in concert, how much more profoundly true is this of men who cannot act at all as individuals because they are deprived of every normal avenue of opportanity and expression. The rejected, the declassified, the disfranchised, th? custodialized, are compelled in sheer self-defense to organize--to act in concert in order to act with effect--to act with confidence in order to act in concert--and to bind themselves together on the basis of their common opinions, common affections, and common interests.
The blind of America have bound themselves together primarily in order to unbind themselves of the arbitrary shackles which throughout all history have confined their movement and smothered their self-expression. Their emancipation from this social strait jacket requires the achievement of three essential and inseparable rights: three rights which constitute the fountainhead of American democracy and the recognized birthright of ordinary citizens: three rights withheld from our 300, 000 blind.
They are the right to organize, the right to speak, and the right to be heard.
These rights comprise a trinity related as closely to one another as the points of a triangle. Each gains its meaning in the presence of the others; each loses its significance in the absense of the others. To paraphrase the language of Burke, no men can act effectively who do not have the right to organize; no men can organize at all who do not have the right to self-expression; and no men can achieve self-expression who do not have the right to be heard.
That these three rights are indeed inseparable--that each is the touch-stone of the others--was fully recognized by those who framed our Constitution, and who placed them side by side in the First Amendment, identified as the rights of free speech, assembly and petition--essential liberties beyond the control of Congress but not beyond its protection.
In modern terms, the right of free speech is the right of self-expression; the right of assembly is the right to organize; and the right of petition is the right to be heard.
The blind of America are today in the throes of an historic struggle to secure for themselves these rights which the Constitution guarantees to all Americans. In two bills now before Congress--S. 2411, sponsored by Senator Kennedy, and H. R. 8609, sponsored by Congressman Baring--are incorporated the safeguards which for the first time in history would gain for the blind the rights to self-organization, to self-expression, and to consultation in the public conduct of their affairs.
Before turning to that legislation, let us take a closer look at this trinity of rights--the struggle for which has plunged us into the most bitterly contested battle of our organized existence.
First of all, what is the right to organize? At bottom, it is only the recognition, in law and common sense, that man is a social animal--and that, in particular, men of common interests and a common purpose gain satisfaction and support from each other's company. But there is more to it than that. In a self-governing democracy the right to organize is virtually synonymous with the right of self-expression--that freedom of speech which is the foundation of all our liberties. Our theory of government is an attempt to capture the values of a diverse society; to seek, the truth through open competition in the marketplace of ideas. It is essential to this principle that all legitimate demands be heard, that no body of citizens be silenced or suppressed. The great value of voluntary groups and associations to democracy is that they give a voice to citizens who, in Burke's words, "are bound together by common opinions, common affections, and common interests." Without the right to organize, the right to speak would remain for millions a cruel mockery of their mute condition. For these groups it is organization alone which makes the right to speak articulate.
If the blind are to speak for themselves, if they are to be heard in public forum and the councils of government, let us be certain that they will speak forcefully, and with a single voice. Let us guard our organized structure from collapse into a tower of babel--a confusion of tongues. Let us remember that to act in concert means to take concerted action; that the hallmark of a functioning democracy is not anarchy but unity; and that when all of us are faithful to our responsibilities as members, we may be sure that we shall act in concert and with confidence--that the voice of the blind will heard in the land, and that it will carry the ring of truth.
But what is this "right to be heard", and why is it so closely linked to the right to speak and the right to organize? The answer is of course that no degree of organization, and no amount of speech, is of any value if no one is listening. The right to be heard is the right to be consulted in matters of direct and vital concern. It is the right to access to the agencies of government, the right to an audience at the seats of the mighty, the right of petition, the right of fair hearing. The right to be heard, for the organized blind, means in particular the right of consultation with the administrators of federal-state programs of public assistance, of vocational rehabilitation, of vending stands, and of other aids and services. But the right to be heard extends equally to consultat ion with those so-called private agencies which in effect are quasi-public in their structure, in the character of their programs, and in the source of their funds. These large foundations and charitable institutions, often the recipients of public aid and always the advisor of public programs, bear an obligation equal to that of government to consult with the clients of their services--who must otherwise become the victims of their arbitrary authority.
Until such agencies as these, both public and quasi-public, recognize the right of the blind to be heard, our cause may endure but it can never prevail. For no constitution, no law, no formal regulation, can compel anyone to listen. There are none so deaf as those who will not hear--no minds so closed as those resistant to new ideas, and to the appeals of newly vocal groups. But it is the right to be heard, through the means of consultation, which we are seeking to establish in the two bills now before Congress. I might add that our immediate task is to establish the right of these bills to be heard: to get them before the proper committees and to give them a public hearing. Once this right has been recognized and implemented by Congress, our voice will no longer cry in a wilderness. Our words will then fall upon the ears of government, not always perhaps like music, but like the serious speech of reasonable men acting in concert and with confidence, and bound together by common opinions, common affections, and common interests.
But is there really a need for protection of the right to be heard? Do not the blind already possess the full sympathy and good wishes of society? Are not their problems clearly recognized and their demands understood and carried out by a benevolent government and a kindly community?
The answer, to put it bluntly, is that the blind have indeed gained sympathy, but they have not gained understanding. : They have won compassion without comprehension. Over the centuries they have progressed from the status of outcasts to that of social wards--but not yet to that of free citizens. The goals of protection, of adequate shelter, of minimum security, are presently within their grasp; but the goals of dignity, of opportunity, of independence, of total integration into normal society, are still placed beyond their reach. In short, the blind have been given the right to life: it remains for them to secure the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The present halfway house in which the blind live results from the fact that, until a very short time ago, the blind remained silent while others spoke for them--sighted benefactors who wished them well, but neither knew nor understood the reality of loss of sight. These good neighbors and well-meaning friends contributed unwittingly to the development of a crippling stereotype, a two-sided image of the nature of blindness which is equally in error on both sides: it has been too pessimistic on the one hand, and too optimistic on the other.
The apparent paradox of this popular stereotype is the product of society's failure to distinguish clearly between the two different kinds of limitation which accompany blindness: the physical limitation and the social limitation. On the one hand, the physical effects of loss of sight have been drastically exaggerated in all societies. 'The blind man," intoned an ancient saying, " is as one dead".
If that view is no longer current, it is still commonly believed that the blind man is as one immobilized. This conviction of the "total immobilization" of the blind person has persisted stubbornly in the face of massive scientific and factual evidence to the contrary. Nor, is it a view usually held toward others of the physically handicapped. Surely there are few who imagine that loss of hearing, for example, carries with it the loss of all mental faculties; or that the lack of taste, or of the sense of smell, must render a man incapable of normal activity and enterprise. Nevertheless it is widely felt that loss of sight involves a total personality transformation which leaves its victims mentally incompetent, psychologically abnormal, sociallly inept, and physically helpless.
That is one side of the stereotype: a thoroughly pessimistic and defeatist picture of the physical effects of loss of sight. On the other side, no less significant and no less wrong, is an attitude of casual optimism if not unconcern toward the social limitations imposed by the sighted community upon the blind. These social limitations include discrimination in employ- ment; segregation in and from ordinary social relations; exclusion from living accomodations, public and private; rejection from many of the normal activities of the community and relation with government in which they are viewed as wards rather than citizens, or as patients rather than clients. They have not yet been fully emancipated and are very far from being accepted on a basis of social equality and individual capacity. Their inferior and deprived status is thought to be their normal, natural and inevitable lot.
Furtunately today there are increasing signs of a basic change in this traditional perspective. The blind themselves are organized and steadily winning the right to self-expression and to consultation in the public conduct of their affairs. No less important, growing numbers of welfare and service groups are coining to recognize and support the competence of the blind in the management of their own affairs.
Among the most striking and heartening examples of this new spirit of cooperation and understanding--as opposed to condescension and pity-is that developing in the Lions Clubs of America. I could take a good deal of your time this evening illustrating the ways in which Lions in many parts of the country are participating with us today in our movement toward equality and self-expression, But I know of no better statement of this new "spirit" Lionism, than that which was made before our national convention this summer by Tim Seward, himself a prominent Lion and administrative assistant to Congressman Walter S, Baring of Nevada. In the past, said Mr. Seward, the Lions who have always felt a particular closeness to their blind neighbors have done things for them rather than with them.
" I believe we are on the threshold of a new era... I know that there are some of us in Lionism [he goes on to say] who feel that the blind are infringing on our rights by conducting their own white-cane drives, because the Lions for the past 25 years have honored White Cane Day. But the white cane is a symbol of blindness, and what more understanding and true spirit of Lionism could there be than to return the symbol of blindness to the blind and thank God they are able to carry their own banner.
"I believe [he continued] that it is time we better understand our relationship with the blind, and to do that we must better understand the blind. We should understand that you not only seek but are entitled to both c social and economic equality; that you are normal people and as such you have the right of self-expression as individuals and through your organizations; that both Federal and State agencies should consult with your representatives in formulating programs that concern your welfare, or further your opportunities....... To this end I believe we can work together as a team, and lend a hand when it is needed. I believe that it is far better that we learn the purposes and objectives of your organization and help you accomplish them rather than try to steer you on a different course. In short, I believe we should work with you rather than for you and this I believe is true Lionism. "
This clear affirmation is representative of a spirit rapidly spreading today among welfare and service organizations. This new spirit has been translated into practical administration by many public officials-including some who administer programs for the blind. We have received from blind agency personnel in a substantial number of states correspondence testifying to the value of close consultation with organizations of the blind. Listen to these quotations:
1. From the organized blind of the state, "the State has received sound advice concerning the problems and needs of the blind, thus enabling us to draft policies and procedures which are not only realistic bit are also geared to helping blind persons in their efforts to decrease dependency."
2. "The organizations of the blind have undertaken an interpretative program among their members with respect to the responsibilities, as well as the rights, of recipients of aid to the blind. This in turn has contributed greatly to the smooth functioning administration of the program. "
3. "As an administrator, I have found the State Federation of the Blind a valued source of assistance in administering services for the blind. Its activities have been a key factor in the growth and improvement of our programs during the past few years."
4. "From the first, the Federation has provided helpful counsel and advice to the department. One means has been through its representation on the State Aid to the Blind Advisory Committee."
5. "I feel that it is of the utmost importance to know how the persons served feel about the services provided, how such services can be improved. The Federation of the Blind has been an excellent vehicle for this purpose."
6. "Please be assured of this agency's willingness and intention of always and in every way possible carrying out the thesis that we can progress in the interest of the blind only by close cooperation, and we certainly believe that when blind people organize together to help themselves it certainly is helpful to any group or agency interested in the same ultimate goals."
7. "The values derived from close consultation with the blind cannot be obtained from any other source."
Who are the state administrators who have made these and similar statements? Are they unkowns in the field? Are they minor officials without position, influence or opportunity to observe the overall picture? Quite the contrary. They are the top administrators of their programs, thoroughly in possession of the facts and responsible not only for what they say but for the conduct of their agencies. They are: Harry L, Hines, Director, Services the Blind, Nebraska; Clifford A. Stocker, Administrator, Commission for the Blind, Oregon; Malcolm Jaspers, Director, Iowa Commission for the Blind; Perry Sundquist, Chief, Division for the Blind, California; Merle Kidder, State Director, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation , North Dakota; Harry E. Hayes, Director, Services for the Blind, Kansas; T, V. Cranmer, Supervisor, Services for the Blind Kentucky; Thomas J. Lucas, Director, Division of Public Assistance, Wisconsin; Howard H. Hanson, Director, Services to the Blind, South Dakota; Barbara, Coughlan, Director, State Dpt. of Public welfare, Nevada; John F. Mungovan, Director, State Division of the Blind, Massachusetts.
To confer the benefits which these administrators have listed on all administrators of programs for the blind through Congressional implementation of the rights of organization, speech and consultation is the very purpose of the Kennedy and Baring bills. That purpose has seemed so obvious to many people that they have wondered why such legislation should be needed at all--at least, have felt confident that no one could wish to stand in the way of so reasonable an object.
Incase there are any among you who still feel such confidence, allow me to remind you of the resolution condemning the Kennedy bill which was railroaded through their convention this summer by a controlling faction of American Association of Workers for the Blind. In this official diatribe the little group of willful men" placed squarely on the record its considered judgement of the competence of blind people generally, the irresponsible character of their organizations, and the dictatorial function of such groups as the AAWE, in their sweeping denunciation of the bill and all it stands for, these agency spokesmen made four distinct and definite points:
First, the blind are second-class citizens, undeserving of the normal responsibilities and privileges accorded as a birthright to other Americans,do I exaggerate? Here are their exact words: the bill "embodies a completely unsound and retrogressive concept of the responsibilities and privileges of blind persons as citizens". What clearer statement could there be of the view that loss of sight is tantamount to loss of citizenship--in particular, of the right to speak and the right to be heard?
Second, the organized blind lack even the maturity and simple competence to participate on normal terms in the conduct of programs affecting them. Do I distort their meaning?--Now hear this"....The proposed legislation if enacted, would create an arbitrary and unwieldy system of review and revision of all federally-financed benefits or services on behalf of blind persons by professionally unqualified groups; and.... such reviews would in effect make these blind persons supervisors of the federal agencies and programs,..and such administrative procedure would impair the efficiency of federal programs,.." These statements leave no room for doubt as to the utter contempt with which the dominant elements in the AAWB reguard the abilities of their blind clients: in a word, they regard these abilities as nonexistent.
Third, only the AAWB and its fellow custodians possess the rights and competence to consult on programs for the blind--in fact, to dictate what these programs are to be--and this vested interest must be protected at all costs against the unwarranted intrusion of the blind themselves. Am I unfair to them? Look at the resolution: in contrast to its rejection of the organized blind from consultation, it declares that one of the "principal functions" of the AAWB "is to provide the benefits of its extensive knowledge about the problems of blindness to those leaders in our American society who are responsible for the reflection in legislation of sound social thinking"--in other words, to advise and supervise the programs for the blind. The resolution is replete with such odious contrasts: where the blind are "professionally unqualified" the agencies are "professionally responsible, " and moreover possess the "professional processes" and "authentic information" to counteract the errors and evils perpetrated by the unprofessional blind.
Fourth, although the Kennedy bill is here condemned as "completely unsound and retrogressive," all of its provisions are said to be contained in the Constitution and in the laws! Does this spurning of the constitution seem unlikely? Listen: "... all of the provisions of this bill are already guaranteed in the Constitution of the U. S, and furthermore, most federally authorized programs of benefits already provide through statutes or regulations opportunities for fair hearings." If this is true, then all the preceding statements damning the bill are flagrant attacks upon the Constitution! But what is even more amazing is the incredible constitutional doctrine here set forth that it is unnecessary and improper to give legislative enforcement to any right. This lack of understanding of American government and institutions on the part of a group most of whom are in the employ of government is appalling. Might we observe that the leaders of the AAWB are "professionally unqualified" when it comes to questions of constitional law.
By this reasoning we should do away with all our laws against murder--because the Constitution guarantees the right to life. By this reasoning we should throw out all our laws protecting property--because the Constitution guarantees the right to property. By this reasoning we should discard all our laws protecting persons against unlawful imprisonment--because the Constitution guarantees the right to liberty. By this reasoning we should eliminate all our laws protecting individuals against violence to their persons or invasion of their rights of privacy--because the Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects. By this reasoning we should repeal all those legislative enactments maintaining the rights of citizens--because the Constitution forbids abridgement of the privileges and immunities of citizens. By this reasoning we should destroy all those legislative provisions requiring that persons similarly situated be treated alike --because the Constitution guarantees to all persons the equal protection of the laws. By this reasoning we should strike down one by one, section by section, clause by clause, those statutes which prohibit the peonage and chattelage of man--because the Constitution abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude.
In most of its provisions the Constitution is not a self-executing document. Virtually all of its provisions require the support of special laws in order to gain enfocrment. Even the 13th Amendment--sometimes cited as one of the few examples of a self-executing provision--has been implemented by particular legislation, and indeed the Amendment itself calls for just such implementation.
To these four planks in the anti-blind platform of the AAWB, some others have recently been added by their once-silent partner, the American Foundation for the Blind. In a July bulletin of the Foundation, the Kennedy bill was also condemned as "administratively unsound" because it would, in some unspecified way, "injure the spread" of services for the blind. More important, however, said the Foundation, passage of the measure "would tend to further the segregation of blind persons, and coerce them into added identification with selected organized groups if they wished to have any voice in affairs affecting their welfare."
Note the logic of that assertion. The bill would strengthen and assist organizations of the blind--therefore it would further the segregation of the blind. In other words there must be no legislation to support the farmers, because it could only serve to further their segregation, There must be no legislation to advance the cause of private enterprise, because it could only serve to further the segregation of businessmen. There must be no legislation on behalf of organized labor, because to strengthen the unions is only to further their segregation. There must be no aid to needy children or the totally and permanently disabled bacause such aid will further the segregation of these groups. By this logic, there must be no legislation of any kind for any group of citizens--except, presumably, that legislation aiding the AFB and the AAWB. That alone may be encouraged without the danger of segregation.
One more declaration of the American Foundation against the Kennedy bill deserves our attention. In a separate release the executive Director, Mr. M. Robert Barnett, characterized the introduction of the bill as "a regrettable incident" because it is "likely to cause one of the most serious philosophical debates yet experienced in our field," We may all agree that the bill is likely to produce such a result: but why should such a "serious philosophical debate" be regrettable? Why, on the contrary, is it not welcomed as a golden opportunity to be eagerly embraced by all who are sincerely interested in the welfare of the blind and therefore in the solution of their problems? One might suppose that no greater contribution could be made in our field than the production of serious philosophical debate. But Mr. Barnet considers it "regrettable," Are there now those who would deny to the blind not only the rights of free speech and organization but even the right of free thought and philosophical reflection? Such serious discussion should, it would seem, prove regrettable only to those whose philosophy can-not stand the rigors of the contest.
On the basis of the assertions in the AAWB Resolution and the Foundation release it is hard to imagine any wider and more unbridgeable gulf of thought and principle than exist between our philosophy and theirs. We believe the blind to be normal individuals lacking only the sense of sight. They believe the blind to be abnormal individuals lacking maturity, responsibility, and mentality. We believe the organized blind to be the best interpreters of their own needs and aspirations: they believe the organized blind to be entirely--indeed, dangerously--unqualified, and instead assert their own claim to act in the name of the blind without the approval of the blind. We believe the role of the agencies, whether public or quasi-public, to be that of servants of their blind clients, responsible to their interests and responsive to their needs; they believe the role of the agencies to be that not of public servants but of private dictators, members of an elite corps of self-designated experts beyond the reach or consultation of the people. Finally, we believe these bulletins and resolutions to be a shocking revelation of backwardness and prejudice among the dominant agency. They believe--but wait! Do they really believe? Is it possible that these specious arguments are not really their beliefs but only the outpouring of propaganda in a ruthless campaign to stamp out the competition of the organized blind and to perpetuate their own unchallenged dominance? With the publication of these revealing resolutions whatver trust and confidence the blind may once have had in the integrity and wisdom of those who dominate the AAWB has been forever swept away. They are shown to be among those who have been dragged protesting into the 20th century--but still have one foot in the grave of medieval charity and custodialism, and the other foot in the pit of their own institutional and occupational vested interests.
Their belief is that the blind should be overseen and not heard; that the blind have no right of self-expression because the blind are not fullfledged citizens and, besides, are not capable of "sound social thinking, " and that the organized blind, if they cannot be dismissed as a handful of eccentrics, must be dispersed as a mob of deliquents.
Once upon another time a somewhat different group of deprived people--only slightly more numerous than we are today-- rose up against their own protectors on this very issue of the right of men and citizens particularly to the rights of self-expression and representation. In terms of material strength they were no match for their adversary--at that time the world's greatest power. But the rebels were united in their dedication to certain unalienable rights--among these were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in their own way--and they were determined to make good their declaration of independence. Their power was not so much physical as spiritual, It lay in their collective will, their unity of purpose, and their faith in themselves. Armed with these weapons, their cause proved invincible 180 years ago.
God helping us, that cause will prevail today, The good have associated and will not fall, one by one an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
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(This is the third in a series of articles written for a St. Louis newspaper by Jack and Alma Murphey and David Krause. Mrs. Murphey is the author of this particular installment. )
"Have you ever felt that conversing directly with a blind person presents a problem? This is undoubtedly the impression held by many people because it so often happens that the sighted companion is consulted rather than the blind person, even when the matter deals directly with the one who is blind. Those of us who operate vending stands often have the experience of our sighted assistant being questioned as to price and other matters when the operator of the stand is much better informed. When shopping, the sighted companion is consulted as to the purchase, even though the companion is a child. When desiring personal information, the questions are often put in the form 'does he?', would she?', or 'do they?'- and so it goes; avoiding direct conversation with blind people whenever it is at all possible to do so. Actually there is no problem or trick involved in talking with the blind. The fact that it is impossible to catch our eye does not mean that we are unaware of having been spoken to. Neither does our inability to exchange glances mean that we do not understand what is being said. If sight were necessary to conversation, then blind people would have difficulty talking with each other, and our most priceless invention, the telephone, would be a complete waste. So the next time the occasion arises, try talking the matter over directly with the blind person; he will be gratified and I wager you will be genuinely pleased with the results.
"When a blind person enters your store or restaurant, do you assume that he wishes to be a customer, or rather that he would like you to be the customer? Many blind people have, upon entering such places, been greeted with such statements as: 'I don't want anything today.' This is most upsetting to the one who has entered simply to make a purchase, and in most cases will result in the loss of a good customer. It would be good to bear in mind that while many blind people work as salesman, we all do business with stores and restaurants, so it would seem best to let the blind person make known his intentions to you rather than to assume them.
"When you see a blind person standing on the corner waiting to cross a busy street, do you assist him or do you feel that perhaps he would rather you did not interfere? 'I don't know whether to help blind people or not.' This is a statement which I have heard on several occasions and is always prompted by some unpleasant experience encountered by a sighted person while helping one who is blind. There are those blind people who either resent being helped or are extremely particular as to how the service is rendered, by they are indeed the exception. Your assistance in crossing streets, entering public buildings, finding a seat on a bus, and innumerable other small ways, is not only needed but genuinely welcome by most blind people. In order that we carry on our employment and do the many other things which make for us a normal life, it is necessary that blind people go about unaccompanied; and I should like to take this opportunity to point out that it is the cooperation of the public, which makes for us this much appreciated independence."
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(From the Matilda Zeigler Magazine, Nov. 1957): "Warren Sladky, of Cleveland, is the librarian of a new radio library for the blind, which offers a variety of services to radio amateurs, hi-fi enthusiasts, electronics technicians and experimenters... It is sponsored by the South East Amateur Radio Club, Inc., (SEARC: of Cleveland, and is operated in part as a division of the Blind Services Committee of the Tape-Respondents, International. The new library... acts as a clearing house for information on electronics literature in embossed and recorded form; provides a depository for receiving and circulating manuscripts, Braille and tape recorded readings of literature pertaining to all aspects of electronics; offers taped readings-- within reason--of literature within its scope; and offers Braille copies of duplicated reference materials in electronics,... Services are available to any blind person in the U. S, and Canada, It does not compete with or duplicate the services of present lending libraries for the blind, but rather, it is an adjunct to them--specializing in electronics.
"Inquiries from anyone are welcome, including requests for information on special devices and instruments which may be used by the blind radio-and electronics enthusiast.... Please include sufficient postage to cover replies, be they in Braille, ink-print or tape.... Address Warren Sladky, Librarian, SEARC Radio Library for the Blind, 1159 Parkview Ave. , Cleveland 4, Ohio. "
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It has lately become evident that we now have another most outstanding wielder of the eloquent pen, in the person of Donald Capps, president of our South Carolina affiliate. Here is a fine sample of his work--a letter written to a prominent blind lawyer in his state:
".... recall that you told me, when asked if your would participate in the work the Aurora Club and the NFB is doing, that you needed more time to think about the matter and that you also wanted to secure the impressions of impartial parties concerning the NFB. Certainly no one can be criticized for investigating before assuming responsibilities, and I for one did exactly this before entering into this work. As a young man with eleven years experience in the insurance industry and with apparently prospects for a reasonable bright future and career, it would have been foolish for me to assume responsibilities and enter into any phase of activity that would jeopardize my future welfare.
"There are, of course, hundreds of institutions and agencies doing work with and for the blind. These include state agencies, schools for the blind, sheltered workshops, guide-dog establishments, and Braille magazine publications, etc. Each in its own field should be recognized for its actual contribution to the life of the blind. However, the National Federation of the Blind is unique in that it is a national organization of the blind themselves with organizations in forty-three states and members in all the states, and the leadership of the national organization as well as the state organization is in the hands of successful blind people. While each state organization may vary in its structure and scope, it is the ultimate aim of the state and national organization to abolish misconceptions about blindness through public education and to promote job opportunity in accordance with a blind individual 's capabilities. We are especially interested in blind persons assuming jobs in private industry beside their sighted fellow workers, and in other fields. We believe it is harmful to the blind to colonize or segregate them into a special type of sheltered work which focuses public attention on this special treatment. Improving the public's attitude concerning blindness is, in my opinion, of extreme importance and once blindness is fully accepted by the public, then many or most of our problems will no longer be.
"The 40, 000 blind men an women who make up the National Federation of the Blind are engaged in all fields of endeavor and it probably will be interesting to you to know that many of the Directors of the NFB are successful attorneys. As a matter of fact, there must have been some fifty lawyers present at the convention in New Orleans in July, and at that time this group organized some type of lawyers' guild. Not being in the legal profession, I did not attend this meeting, and therefore do not know exactly what they discussed or plan to do, but one thing is certain, and that is that they will exchange ideas and do those things that will result in mutual good. Two of the Directors of the NFB whom you might happen to know are Walter McDonald, a lawyer and Chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission, and Dr. Munford Boyd, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
"One of the most discouraging aspects of working in any organization is that of getting those persons who can make a substantial contribution to the cause to participate but who fail to do so for one reason or another. All of us have philosophical differences, which we will agree is human nature, but for the life of me I cannot see why anyone who has experienced blindness and its problems would fail to participate in a program designed to benefit the blind.....
"It is recognized that this letter is lengthy, but I hope that you will seriously consider my request that you join in and work with us as I sincerely and earnestly feel that you should not deprive our organization, which you will recall was recently honored by a concurrent resolution introduced by Rep. Burnett R, Maybank, Jr. , of your talents and the contributions which you could undoubtedly make.... I urge you to become active in our state organization which will provide you with a real opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the lot of the blind, and I assure you that we are making progress, and you may also be assured I shall continue to use all of my energy and resources to further this progress. Once you have become active in this work, you will be pleasantly surprised at how beneficial it will be to you and at how much personal satisfaction will be yours from helping others...."
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On December 18, just as the manuscript of this issue was about to start on its journey to Louisville, a telegram arrived with the thrilling news that a resolution had been adopted by the national convention of the AFL-CIO, at Atlantic City, throwing the full weight of that mighty organization in support of the Kennedy-Baring bill. To say that we are all greatly elated over this action would be the understatement of the year, but we are not suprised because, from the very beginning, organized labor has been our natural ally and has given countless proofs of its sympathy for our movement and of its warm friend- ship. The resolution follows:
"WHEREAS, There is evidence of a tendency on the part of some government officials, both state and national, who are responsible for administering programs of aid to the blind, to avoid consultation concerning the problems of blind people with representatives of bona fide organizations of the blind, and in addition, to exercise the powers of their office to discourage legitimate organization of blind persons by discriminating and threatening discrimination against their representatives and members, and
"WHEREAS, The right of organization for representation is a basic principle common to organized labor and all other groups of citizens having a common interest, and
"WHEREAS, Any denial of any right to any group is a threat to the right of self-organization by all groups, and
"WHEREAS, Legislation has been introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States (S-2411-- H, R. 8609) the purpose of which is to provide for representation by blind persons through their own chosen representatives and organization, and to prevent the exercise of official authority in discriminating against the members and officers of these bona fide organizations, and
"WHEREAS, The principle of this proposed legislation is consistent with the basic trade union and democratic principle that groups and organizations of individuals, bound together by a common need and common interest, are best acquainted with the nature of their needs and should therefore be consulted as to the content and administration of programs designed to meet these needs; therefore be it
"RESOLVED, That this Second Constitutional Convention of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations endorse in principle the Kennedy-Baring bill above cited, "
Passed unanimously, December 10--Atlantic City, N. Y. The resolution was sponsored by Bob Ash, of California, and Victor Bussie, of Louisiana, )
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On November 9 and 10, at Motgomery, the Alabama Federation of the Blind held its greatest state convention thus far. It was especially successful in terms of the number of important sighted visitors, among them being Congressman Elliott, Chairman of the Subcommittee which will consider the Kennedy-Baring bill. Dr. tenBroek and John Taylor were both in attendance and the former delivered a ringing address to 100 luncheon guests. The following officers were elected: Mrs, Gordon Hardenbergh, President; Mr. Paul Brunson, 1st Vice-President; Mr. Thomas Baucum, 2nd Vice-President; Mrs. Cornelia Johnson, Secretary and Mrs. Evelyn Lee, Treasurer. The Chairman of the Legislative Committee is Mr. Paul Brunson. It was agreed that a strenuous effort be made during the coming session of the legislature to do something about the deplorable public assistance laws of Alabama, which is one of the few states where aid to the blind payments are even lower than old-age assistance.
On November 2 the Vermont Council of the Blind held its second state-wide convention, this time in Burlington. John Taylor had great difficulty in reaching this city because of extremely bad weather conditions. His plane was forced to go to Montreal and conditions still made it impossible to land on the return trip. He finally deplaned at Albany and drove from there to Burlington, arriving just as the meeting started, with no sleep for thirty hours. Program items included an address by Miss Virginia Cole, Director of the State Agency, who later joined the Council and became a member of its Board of Trustees. Taylor sopke at the banquet. Eddie Vachon and Frank Van Vliet attended from New Hampshire and Charles Little from Boston, The following officers were elected: Clarence Briggs, President; Edward Burgoyne , 1st Vice-President; Sam Parker, 2nd Vice-President; Alar, Nichols, Secretary and Marion Nichols, Treasurer.
Dr. tenBroek conducted a question and answer period during the afternoon session of the 1957 convention of the Oklahoma Federation of the Blind, which took place on Oct. 27 at the Huckins Hotel in Oklahoma City. He also delivered the banquet address. Other speakers included Mr. Joe McClain, District Director of the Social Security Administration who spoke on disability insurance provisions of the law and Dr. C, B. Minner, Executive Manager of the Oklahoma League for the Blind. Dr. Oliver R. Attebery, Community Building, Ponca City, Oklahoma was elected as president to succeed Ed Hill. Oklahoma has the controversial two-term limitation clause in its constitution.
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Lone Star State Federation of the Blind, $20; Nevada Federation of the Blind, $200; Indiana Council of the Blind, $60; Gem State Blind (Idaho), $142; Colorado Federation of the Blind, $400; Georgia Federation of the Blind, $500; Alameda County Club of Adult Blind $109. 01; Solano County Club of the Blind, $5; Kentucky Federation of the Blind, $100; California Council of the Blind, $500; Knoxville Association of the Blind, $10; Iowa Association of the Blind, $145.89; North Dakota Association of the Blind, $50; Walter G. Holmes Foundation, $1, 000; Minnesota Organization of the Blind, $200; United Blind of Minnesota, $39. 75; San Joaquin County Club of Adult Blind, $12; Nashville Chapter, $100; Denver Area Association of the Blind, $14. 50; Tennessee Feder- ation of the Blind, $200; Birmingham Chapter, $25; Mobile Society for the Blind. $25; Buffalo Chapter, $10; sale of N. F. B. pins, $552. 00 and individuals, $5. Total $4,425.15.
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Marion, Ind. , October 10, 1957
"Dear Dr. tenBroek: I am writing to tell you how much I appreciate the new magazine--the Monitor. It is a magazine that is long overdue. I want it to survive and grow stronger. I am enclosing one dollar to apply to the magazine, I am only a welfare client and cannot do much; but such as I can do, I shall do as long as the Monitor and the Federation pursue their present course... It is only since reading the first two issues of the Monitor that I have realized just what the AAWB and the AFB are, The National Welfare program that was originally intended to assist and help certain persons in need, is rapidly taking on the aspects of a program to take care of the 'professionals'. It is like Congressman Baring said, the blind movement, like the labor movement, must endure its growing pains. It is the regular pattern of all progress.... Cordially yours,.... "
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From the News Bulletin of the Canadian Council of the Blind: "Tedious backbending in the sun over a pair of lawn shears is a thing of the past for Harry Land.... A practiced 'Do-it-yourselfer' at his own home, he took the motor from an old vacuum cleaner, the handle from a discarded lawn mower, the axle from the wagon his boys no longer used, and a few necessary parts and built an electric trimmer. Throughly grounded and properly wired, the trimmer cuts within an inch of fences, trees and hedges. It neatly shaves the edge of the lawn and permits the operator to walk along in comfort behind his mobile shears. "
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From a letter to this Editor from Mrs. Alma Murphey, President of the Missouri Federation of the Blind: "It gives me great pleasure to tell you that Missouri has a new chapter as of November 17. It is known as the Ozark Association of the Blind and is located in Ste. Genevieve and surroundings towns. This is an area seventy-five to a hundred miles south of St. Louis. David was genuinely pleased with the enthusiasm and intelligence of the group and feels that here we will have some valuable materials. "
At its October convention, the Illinois Federation of the Blind voted to pledge an annual contribution of $50 to the Braille Monitor.
John Nagle, 182 State St., Springfield, Massachusetts, is General Chairman of the 1958 national convention of the National Federation of the Blind to be held at the Somerset Hotel, Boston, July 4-7. James Gallahan, 50 Decatur St. , Charlestown 29, Mass., is Reservations Chairman, Reservations should be made directly with the hotel and carbons sent to Mr. Callahan. Those who plan to attend should get in reservations immediately if they wish to stay at the convention hotel.
Mr. Richard Stotera, Editor of the Arizona White Cane Journal, has just been appointed Home Teacher in the Tucson area. Excerpts from his pungent editorial writings have appeared in the Braille Monitor on a number of occasions, He will continue his editorial duties.
Mr. R. L. Thompson, of Tampa, calls my attention to the fact that one sentence of the article "Why Should a State Organization of the Blind be a Member of the National Federation of the Blind? ," by Dr. Newell Perry, appearing in the November issue, is now somewhat anachronistic. The sentence was "..., your bitterness over the fact that your meager earnings are taken away from you through reductions in your aid, is not be blamed on your social worker. " Dr. Perry's article is still just as timely as when it was written but it was actually written some years ago before the enactment of the exempt earnings law.
The 1958 national convention of the Blinded Veterans Association will be held in Seattle.
Quite a number of local chapters have now set up blood banks--notably in California, Colorado and Arkansas.
Word has just been received of the death of Harlan Kelley, Baraboo, Wis. Mr. Kelley was a well-known blind lawyer and made the nominating speech for Douglas MacArthur at the 1948 Republican Convention. He later served as District Attorney in Sauk County. In addition to his blindness, Mr. Kelley was an amputee, Like far too many other successful blind people, however, he displayed no interest in organization work or any real concern for the welfare of his fellow-blind.
Until quite recently Florida's School for the Deaf and Blind has become successful in preventing the formation of an alumni association. It is reported that the new administration at St. Augustine has reversed the former policy and that such an organization is now likely to be formed.
From the AFOB Bulletin: "To facilitate the operation of its ever- expanding global program, the American Foundation for Overseas Blind has established two new regional offices... The first of the two new ventures was inaugurated early this year, At that time, the Foundation opened its office in Santiago, Chile to serve the South American continent..... Manila has been chosen as the site for AFOB's second new regional office.... the Foundation has joined with the UN to aid in the establishment of a production center in Asia which will manufacture Braille appliances and other special aids for the countries located within that region... , AFOB has also played an instrumental part in the establishment of the first international demonstration center for the resettlement of the rural blind in Uganda.... To help create employment opportunities for Ireland's 7,000 blind population, AFOB has provided funds for a full-time placement officer to serve with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland. The officer is responsible both for finding suitable jobs in open industry for blind persons and for selecting and placing the proper persons to fill the jobs. This marks the first time that such a service is available in Ireland. "
Both the Oklahoma and Wisconsin affiliates of the NFB have carried on fairly extensive programs in the low vision optical aids area. The Oklahoma Federation applied to the U. S. Office of Vocational Rehabilitation for a grant to expand its program, proposing to match this grant out of its own funds. Such an application, however, must be approved by the vocational rehabilitation agency. Although this project would have cost the taxpayers nothing at all, the state agency refused to give its approval to the application.
From Viewpoint , (Okla. ): "Lubbock, Texas--Texas Tech College's Board of Directors in a closed session voted against renewal of contracts for two faculty members...... Faculty members removed are Dr. Byron Abernathy, Professor of Government, and Dr. Herbert Marvin Greenberg, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Associate Director of the Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling program. Dr. Greenberg is blind..... Both Dr. Abernathy and Dr. Greenberg expressed surprise at the Board's action and said their classroom work had never been criticized..... The Lubbock Avalanche Journal said that it was generally known that Dr. Abernathy and Dr, Greenberg have been in disfavor with Board members because of their political views "
A year ago the Alameda County (California) Board of Supervisors told a delegation of blind citizens that every effort would be made to put qualified blind persons into civil service employment. Now a job for a dark room technician has come up and the announcements state that only present employees will be eligible. Both the Alameda County Club of Adult Blind and the organized parents of blind children are protesting this exclusion of blind applicants.
Recently a survey was made by the Federal Office of Education in the Department of HEW to find out how many legally blind students are now enrolled in institutions of higher learning, together with other relevant information. The information obtained is not yet fully tabulated and available, but the following facts can be reported. 894 students were enrolled during the 1956-57 academic year. Braille books were reported available in forty-eight institutions and fifty-two reported having other "special equipment."
From the Ohio Council Bulletin: "The question has been raised repeatedly about travel training at the Ohio State School for the Blind. According to the Superintendent, W. G. Scarberry, travel training begins as early as the last two years in grade school and continues through high school. They start on the school grounds and then follow through in shopping centers and other places to give the student a working knowledge of different situations. "
During a recent trip to Michigan, (which will be fully reported in a later issue), Paul Kirton, Darlene and I visited the State School at Lansing and were warmly received by the new Superintendent, our old friend, Dr. Robert H. Thompson. Dr, Thompson was formerly Superintendent of the Missouri School and will be remembered by all those who attended the 1955 Omaha convention, at which he spoke. Dr. Thompson is a colleague of mine on the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind. He is confronted by many problems in his new job but, as his charming wife told Darlene, he would not be happy without problems to solve.
In the course of an address delivered at the recent convention of the Ohio Council of the Blind, Mrs. R. L. Ireland, of the Ohio Welfare Department said, in part".... , I know from what Mr. Ross has told me of your philosophy regarding the blind that we share the same theory. I firmly believe that welfare should never be a way of life, never a permanent crutch, but should meet existing needs and help people to help themselves.... We believe that our philosophy should be to reflect fully the concept of rehabilitation and adjustment of the individual blind person so that, to the maximum extent possible, he can assume an adequate role in the community and in a competitive society. The essence of this approach is to assist the blind individual to face the problems of blindness positively, to provide him with the special services needed and to press for an ever-closer involvement of the blind person in his community as an independent member of that society, This philosophy represents a breakaway from the still-popular approach, which is to feel rather than reason about the problem of blindness. The use of emotional appeal tends to produce segregation of the visually handicapped in the various activities of life and encourages continued dependency in blind people...." A little later the Convention was emphatically told that advice and suggestions from the organized blind would be welcomed by the Department.
From the November issue of the Oregon Council of the Blind Bulletin we learn for the first time that charters were presented at the September convention to two new chapters--the Comitas Club and the Oregon Federation of the Blind., Evelyn Mathewson is president of the former and Raymond Leahey of the latter. Both new chapters are Portland organizations.
Under the caption, " Message From the Blind to the People of New Zealand, " the organization corresponding to our NFB has this to say, in part; ".... Do you realize that in New Zealand blind workers, even though otherwise physically fit and mentally alert, are discouraged from entering fully into industry? Because, by earning a full week's wage, they suffer a proportional reduction of their Social Security benefit. Do you know that in this respect New Zealand lags behind other progressive nations? Because in Australia, as well as in some other countries, the blind have been entirely freed from the Means Test on personal earnings in relation to pensions or allowances... The World Council for the Welfare of the Blind recommends consideration of such legislation to all governments whose countries economies would permit it. Surely the economy of New Zealand could well sustain such a measure.... on the admission of the previous Minister of Social Security, the extra financial assistance required would be negligible......"
Discussing agency public relations programs in the November New Outlook, Mr. Barnett writes: " It would be a fine thing if all of us would divide our publicity programs on a half-and-half basis--50 per cent for advertising our agency programs and their services; 50 per cent devoted to unselfish efforts to create a better climate for blind persons in the commurity. "
The same issue contains a really excellent article, "Camping With The Handicapped. " The author points out that many persons now being served by camps for the handicapped could just as well be integrated into camps for the non-handicapped, but adds "This isn't being done because to do so would for some (camps serving the handicapped) represent participation in their own liquidation and be in conflict with the very basis upon which they so effectively appeal for support to a sympathetic public."
Don Donaldson has been appointed principal of the Washington State School for the Blind, a post vacated by the resignation of Harold Higgins.
A bill removing the ceiling from the annual federal appropriation for books for the blind was signed into law by President Eisenhower on September 7. This measure applies to funds for Talking Books and sound reproducers, as well as for embossed books.
From the New Outlook (Nov.): " As a result of the research and development program, this year's Talking Book machines, model D, introduced a two-speed motor capable of reproducing both RPM 33 1/3 and RPM 16 2/3 records. Orders were placed for 7, 000 of these machines. National statistics show that 58,197 blind persons borrowed books during 1957. Circulation totaled 1, 421, 000 volumes, (exclusive of magazines), an increase of 60,577 volumes over 1956, Expansion was predominantly in the use of Talking Books.
Howard Hanson, Director of South Dakota Services to the Blind, has been elected as District Governor of Lions' Clubs and becomes the fourth blind person to be so honored.
William L. Dauterman has resigned his position as Supervisor for the Kansas Rehabilitation Center, at Topeka, to accept a post in the Rehabilitation Counselor Training Program at Texas Technological College, at Lubbock, Texas.
Mrs, Sammie K. Rankin, of Texas, was elected president of the Midwestern Conference of Home Teachers during the recent biennial meeting of that organization in Topeka, Kansas.
From the Illinois Newsletter: "Mr. Holland Horton of Chicago, formerly employed as Training Supervisor and Recreation Director, Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, has been appointed Counselor, Special Services for the Blind, by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. He will work out of Joliet, covering the area served by the late Mr. Gerard Harold, who met a tragic death on September 3rd. Mr, Brice Huddleston, of Dwight, has been appointed Counselor,... (for the Springfield area), covering the former territory of Mr. George Magers, who resigned to take a position as Chief of the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind, State of Nevada. Mr. Magers and his family are now established in Reno and he reports progressing nicely in the difficult job of setting up a new program. "
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WHEREAS, The United States Civil Service Commission has, in recent years made large and significant strides in the pursuit of an enlightened policy of opening to the blind all classifications of positions unless it can reasonably be shown that all the jobs within a particular classification require the use of eyesight as an indispensable element to the performance of the necessary tasks; and
WHEREAS, a large and steadily growing number of clasifications had been made available to the blind for examination and appointment, one recent example of which is the widely inclusive Federal Service Entrance classification; and
WHEREAS, the staff of the Commission has , in recent months, shown great willingness to solve all problems connected with the employment of the blind as switchboard operators through the use of Braille attachments to telephone switchboards, thus opening to the blind literally hundreds of positions in the service of the Federal government;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled at New Orleans, Louisiana, this 7th day of July, 1957:
THAT this Convention warmly commends the U. S. Civil Service Commission for the steady progress which has been made in removing barriers to the employment of the blind in the Federal Civil Service, and approves the policies and actions of the Commission which have opened to the blind increased employment opportunities and given promise of enlarging the horizons of employment for the blind.
The foregoing resolution was unanimously adopted by the National Federation of the Blind Convention on July 7, 1957.
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