APRIL ISSUE - 1959
INK PRINT EDITION
VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the blind--it is the blind speaking for themselves
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in Braille and distributed free to the blind by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, 257 South Spring Street, Los Angeles 12, California
Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California. Subscription rate--$3.00 per year.
EDITOR: GEORGE CARD, 605 South Few Street, Madison, Wisconsin.
News items should be addressed to the Editor. Changes of address and subscriptions should be sent to the Berkeley headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind.
Digitized by the Internet Archivein 2010 with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB) http://www.archive.org/details/braillemonitorap1959nati
CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ON THE KENNEDY-BARING BILL, A REPORT
By Floyd W. Matson
EDITORIAL DECISION--MONITOR SUPPLEMENT
DO YOU WANT IMMORTALITY?
NFB EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE DEALS WITH MCDANIEL LETTER
GLAUCOMA IDENTIFICATION CARDS
DONALD CAPPS IN WEST VIRGINIA
HOUSTON LAUNCHES PRE -CONVENTION CREDIT UNION DRIVE
U.S. DELEGATES TO W.C.W.B. MEET
N.F.B. SPEAKERS AT STATE CONVENTIONS
CONSULTATION--THREAT OR PROMISE?
By Perry Sundquist
1960 LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM IN CALIFORNIA
THE HELPLESS BLIND
THINGS ARE POPPING IN MISSOURI
WHITE CANE TRAFFIC LAWS
THOUGHTS FROM AN OUTSIDER
By Orll Reich
FROM OUR READERS
LETTER TO TWO COLLEAGUES
THE GREAT DILEMMA
N.B.P.A. VOTES TO CARRY ON
HERE AND THERE
by Floyd W. Matson
One of the two or three most significant events in the entire history of work for the blind in this country--and an episode of crucial importance for the organized blind themselves--occurred in Washington during the week of March 9-16 with the holding of Congressional hearings on some 56 House bills "to protect the right of the blind to self- expression through Organizations of the blind."
For three days of the week-long proceedings the House Sub-committee on Special Education, under the superlative chairmanship of Carl W. Elliott of Alabama, listened to individual testimony from no less than 24 blind witnesses representing the National Federation and its state affiliates. The remaining two days of the sessions were given over to the arguments of approximately a dozen others both friendly and unfriendly toward the "right to organize" bills.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of the hearings--to be determined first in the Elliott subcommittee itself, next in the full Committee on Education and Labor, and finally (if a bill is reported out) by the House and Senate in successive floor debates--the organized blind people of America have already achieved, through this dramatic demonstration of their maturity and independence, what is perhaps their most notable forward step toward the firm establishment in the public mind and in official cognizance of their representative capacity.
As few readers need to be reminded, the 1959 Congressional hearings on the Baring bill came as the climax of two years of coordinated campaigning by Federationists throughout the country, at every level of voluntary association from the grass roots through the statewide affiliates to national headquarters and the Washington office.
The first landmark in the drive for a "bill of rights" for the blind was reached in the summer of 1957 with the introduction into Congress of identical bills by Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts (S. 2411) and Representative Walter S. Baring of Nevada (H. R. 8609), setting forth in clear and simple language the Federation's twin objectives of the right to organize and the right to be heard.
In submitting his history-making bill, Senator Kennedy sounded the keynote of the legislative campaign to follow: "In most of our States today, organizations of the blind within the State have formed one or more statewide organizations. Forty-three of these statewide organizations of the blind are now federated into a single nationwide organization, the National Federation of the Blind....Through these organizations, these citizens are able to formulate democratically and voice effectively their views on the programs that our National Government and our State governments are financing for their aid and rehabilitation. It is important that these views be expressed freely and without interference. It is important that these views be heard and considered by persons charged with responsibility for determining and carrying out our programs for the blind."
On the heels of the introduction of the Kennedy-Baring bill, the organized blind in nearly every state, singly and in delegations, went into action to persuade their Congressmen to join the list of sponsors and to press for hearings in one or both houses. Especially considerate attention was given to the Federation's cause by Congressman Elliott, chairman of the House subcommittee, and by Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. During the fall Congressional recess, legislators home on leave were systematically visited by delegations of their blind constituents and thoroughly briefed on the urgency of the right-to-organize bill.
The response of Congressmen from all parts of the country was immediate and heartening. During the spring of 1958 the number of co-sponsors in the House and pledged adherents in the Senate mounted rapidly and steadily. Typical of the statements which accompanied many of the House bills--and indicative of the solid work which lay behind them--was this comment by Congressman Thomas L. Ashley of Toledo, Ohio:
"Mr. Speaker, during the recent Congressional recess I was privileged to receive a delegation of constituents representing the Toledo Council of the Blind and to discuss with them the need of a law to safeguard the right of the blind to self-expression through organizations of the blind. As a result of this and other discussions, I have prepared legislation which I am pleased to introduce today for this purpose."
With the rising tide of bipartisan Congressional support for the Kennedy-Baring bill during the spring of 1958, hearings in either the House or Senate appeared at first to be almost a certainty. But the well-laid plans of the Federation, and of its chief supporters such as Congressman Elliott, were soon dashed by the thoroughly single-minded concentration of Congress (and of the Elliott committee itself) upon the crisis in defense and education brought about by the advent of the first Russian Sputnik the previous December. Hearings on these urgent defense matters lingered on in the committee through the entire spring and well into the summer--while the Federation's bill remained attached to the committee roster as "the next order of business."
Shortly before the Boston convention of the Federation in early July, the organized blind were confronted with a difficult and puzzling decision. Congressman Elliott notified us that the "sputnik" hearings would come to a close in mid-July, and that it would then be possible to hold committee hearings on the Baring bill. But at the same time he warned that, at such a late date in the session, any hearings would necessarily be held to a minimum (no more than three days shared with opponents of the bill, dozens of whom had requested an opportunity to appear) moreover, that Congress itself could give only the briefest attention to the bill following hearings; and, finally, that the bill would in all probability be lost in the last-minute crush of Congressional business prior to adjournment.
As an alternative, Congressman Elliott assured the Federation that, if it should prefer not to press for the immediate but abbreviated hearings and should choose to run the risks of postponing consideration of the bill, he would place our measure as the first order of subcommittee business when Congress reconvened in January.
These difficult alternatives were thoroughly discussed by the convention at Boston, where, besides the advice of Congressman Elliott, delegates were fortunate in having the first-hand report and recommendations of Tim Seward, administrative assistant to Congressman Baring and veteran analyst of the legislative scene. Either decision carried risks. On one side was the certainty of some kind of Congressional hearings right away, which would avert the disappointment of all those Federationists who had worked long and hard for the Kennedy-Baring bill. The Federation's voluminous testimony was already prepared, witnesses were alerted, and everything ready to go for immediate hearings. Moreover, such a quick hearing might at least provide a "show" for any who were more interested in a dramatic spectacle than in solid success. On the other side was the likelihood that a postponement, while creating new uncertainties, would make possible more comprehensive coverage and attention to the Federation's argument at a later date. In the end the judgment of the convention was in accordance with the advice of Mr. Seward and Congressman Elliott: the bill would not be pressed further in the current session, and the Federation would take its chances with the new Congress the following January. That this decision was by far the wiser one has now been confirmed by the lengthy hearings just completed.
In line with the decision of the convention, Federationists every-where hitched up their belts and went back to work with greater dedication than ever upon their representatives in Congress. The results of the nationwide campaign of education and persuasion which followed in the fall were little short of spectacular. Immediately upon the re-opening of Congress the right-to-organize bills were dropped one after another into the House hopper; the Baring bill itself became H. R. 14 (indicating the alacrity with which it was introduced), and the number of of bills was still rising swiftly by the time the hearings began. In the Senate John Kennedy, upon reintroducing his bill, found himself ac- companied by no less than 32 co-sponsors. Few measures in the recent history of Congress, on any subject, had received such broad bi-partisan support; nor had many been accompanied by such widespread expressions of understanding and unqualified endorsement.
Hearings of the Elliott subcommittee on the Baring bill and 55 others addressed to the same purpose--as well as on several very different bills to establish a national advisory commission to study problems of blindness--opened on March 9 and ended exactly one week later, on March 16, Between those dates the hearings were shifted from floor to floor and room to room in the Old House Office Building nearly as often as there were sessions--meeting first in the hearing room of the subcommittee, next in Congressman Elliott's private office, then in Congresswoman Green's office, thence to an anteroom of the hearing room, and once to the House caucus room, a huge court-like auditorium on the main floor. However, far from dampening the spirits of the participants, these quick changes and crowded conditions served rather to create an atmosphere of intimacy and to underline the plain determination of the committee to give full scope to the hearings regardless of any inconvenience.
Too much cannot be said in praise of the generous conduct of all members of the subcommittee, which throughout the proceedings was entirely consistent with the dignity of their office and the gravity of their responsibility. Chairman Elliott proved himself to be the most perceptive and fair-minded of presiding officers. Each of the six members of the subcommittee was present most of the time; all of them took an active part in questioning witnesses, and all evinced genuine interest and gave keen attention to the testimony. Besides Chairman Elliott, the five subcommittee members are: Edith Green (Democrat-Oregon); Dominick V. Daniels (Democrat-New Jersey); Stuyvesant Wainwright Republican-New Vork); Robert N. Giaimo (Democrat-Connecticut), and John A. Lafore (Republican-Pennsylvania).
The delivery of the Federation's argument occupied five separate sessions of the subcommittee from Monday morning to Wednesday noon. It was presented, in its written form, in four separate and substantial volumes of testimony (representing a combined weight of nearly 10 pounds). In its oral form, it was delivered by an organized procession of 24 witnesses from national and state federations of the blind through-out the country.
From beginning to end the case for the Baring bill was systematically coordinated by the Federation's president, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, and carried off with an articulate verve and enthusiasm which continually drew praise from members of the committee. President tenBroek not only took charge of planning and organizing the overall presentation, but delivered the main body of testimony--a summary of the argument set forth in Volume I of the Federation's case. The essentials of this argument were given by the president on the first day, with the balance presented in various subsequent sessions. The main lines of the Federation's testimony, painstakingly compiled over the preceding year, were: First, a systematic breakdown of the blind population of the United States, their occupational composition, age and other characteristics, complete with statistical tables especially prepared by the Federation; second, the broad problem of social and economic integration of the blind, with emphasis upon attitudes of the public and of the agencies toward the blind; third, the origins, growth, and present nationwide character of the National Federation of the Blind (a roster listing the upwards of 300 state and local affiliates of the Federation was presented to the committee to bring to an end once and for all the agency propaganda that the Federation consists only of a handful of willful agitators); fourth, a survey of the achievements of organizations of the blind, in such fields as legislation, employment, and public education; fifth, the concerted attack upon the right to organize within various states, corroborated by the personal testimony of blind Federationists; and sixth, the case for the right to consultation on programs for the blind, together with the facts about the lack of consultation to date at both state and national levels.
On several occasions in the course of his testimony, Dr. tenBroek was closely and lengthily questioned by committee members concerning various points of the argument. Those who have observed the Federation's president in action at national conventions, or who recall his many previous appearances before committees of Congress, will not need to be told that he performed superlatively and left in the minds of the committee an indelible impression of scholarly ability, moral integrity and quiet confidence in the justice of the cause which he led and symbolized.
The hearings opened on Monday morning with the presentation of a concise and excellent statement by Congressman Baring on behalf of his bill, H. R. 14. Later, following the comprehensive initial summary of the case by Dr. tenBroek, the procession of Federation witnesses began to take the stand. The largest number of witnesses were called to illustrate the nature and functions of organizations of the blind. Jesse Anderson of Ogden, Utah, drew upon his experience as a former member of two state legislatures, as well as his position as managing editor of all Mormon publications for the blind, in presenting a very able argument for the right of the blind to organize and to be consulted. George Card, financial director and former first vice-president of the National Federation, described in his usual crisp terms the development of organizations of the blind in Wisconsin, and the close consultative relations between the organized blind and their state welfare agency.
Mrs. Gordon Hardenbergh, former president of the Alabama Federation of the Blind, gave a lucid account of the achievements of the Alabama affiliate both in self-organization and in effective consultation with state agencies. Eleanor Harrison of Minneapolis, speaking as president of the Minnesota Organization of the Blind, stressed the concrete accomplishments of her group such as the establishment of a boarding home for blind people which has been a major factor for 30 years in assisting blind Minnesotans to gain acceptance as normal members of the community. Walter MacDonald, president of the Georgia Federation and a member of the NFB's board of directors, delivered so forceful a presentation of the Federation's case that it was followed by a lengthy interrogation which Walter handled with his customary Southern wit and presence.
Alma and Jack Murphey, testifying together on behalf of the Missouri Federation (which Alma heads, along with her role as secretary of the National Federation), made a profound impression upon the committee with their combined narratives of personal and organizational triumph over all obstacles of multiple disability and social prejudice. Bob O'Shaughnessy, as head of the Illinois Federation, told of the successful development of organizations of the blind in his state, of the numerous projects which they have carried to fruition, and of the model working relationships established between the Illinois blind and the state agency.
A second group of witnesses was introduced to exemplify for the committee the values contributed by independent organizations of the blind--as against agencies for the blind--to individual blind persons in their own career activities. Audrey Bascom, president of the Nevada Federation of the Blind and also of its Southern Chapter, explained to the Congressmen in moving language how blindness came to be reduced for her to"a nuisance factor" by virtue of her productive association with the organized blind of her state. Stanley Oliver, as a director of the Michigan Council of the Blind and editor of the Eye Opener, graphically contrasted the pessimistic counsel he had received from official agencies with the stimulating encouragement given him as a newly blinded person by representatives of the organized blind.
Especially striking was the effect upon the committee of the dramatic personal narratives of two blind men who had dared to defy the defeatist advice of the agencies and to make their way in occupations thought to be clearly "impossible" for the blind: Dr. Richard Wilburn in chemistry and Jack Polston as an electrician. Their moving accounts of frustration, perseverance and final accomplishment served, as did the testimony of many others, to give dramatic confirmation to the remark made by President tenBroek on the first day of hearings: "Whenever I think that I have found a job that blind people cannot perform, I meet some blind man or woman who is making a complete success at it."
Clyde Ross, member of the NFB board and president of the Ohio Council, was quietly effective in the presentation both of his own struggle toward self-sufficiency and of his long experience with work for the blind in his state. Onvia Ticer, schoolteacher and active Federationist of San Lorenzo, California, told how members of the NFB encouraged her where others had not, to continue a successful career as public school teacher.
A third group of Federation witnesses next appeared to testify on the organized succession of attacks in various states upon the right of the blind to organize. Marcus Roberson and Paul Kirton testified jointly to the actions of the Texas Commission for the Blind and its chief, Lon Alsup, in seeking to disrupt the Lone Star State Federation. Kirton also engaged in an extended dialogue with committee members concerning the Texas attacks and the question of whether redress should be obtained at the national or state level. Marie Boring joined forces with Ruby Craddock to detail the nefarious practices of the North Carolina State Commission of Welfare in attempting to discredit the Federation, to prevent the granting of a charter to its credit union, to expose confidential information from the rehabilitation files of two blind Federationists, and generally to obstruct the efforts of the blind to organize independently of the state Commission.
William Wood, piano technician and president of the Colorado Federation, spoke briefly and emphatically of the various outrageous techniques employed by the director of the Colorado agency over many years to intimidate vending stand operators and sheltered shop workers, and prevent the voluntary self-organization of the blind of Colorado. Larry Thompson, vice-president of the Florida Federation, briefly summarized the similar ways in which the Florida Council of the Blind engaged in a systematic campaign of obstruction and vilification directed at members of the state organization of the blind.
On the final day of hearings, Victor Gonzalez and Chris Cerone of the West Virginia state affiliate delivered a ringing presentation of the organizational problems confronted in their own state and of the recent successful efforts of the state federation to meet and overcome them.
In each of the three phases of the Federation's testimony, the impression made by our witnesses upon members of the committee was visibly profound and sympathetic. Although the roster of witnesses represented a wide cross-section of backgrounds, occupations and geographical regions, their stories uniformly shone with the qualities of intelligence, courage and independence. No one who heard them could fail to come away without a strong conviction both of the personal competence of these people and of their intense dedication to the cause which had brought them to the nation's capital from every part of the land: the cause of collective self-expression, of emancipation from agency trusteeship, of faith in themselves and in their own democratic organizations.
Besides the 24 members of the National Federation who testified personally for the Baring bill, the cause of the organized blind received a tremendous boost from the appearance before the committee of eleven members of Congress for the purpose of making individual statements or of introducing Federation witnesses from their respective states. One of these statements in particular was of immense help to the Federation: that of Congressman Cleveland Bailey of West Virginia, who appeared on the final day to deliver a comprehensive twenty-minute statement summarizing the entire affirmative case for the bill. Others who presented statements in person were: Walter S. Baring of Nevada; Jackson E. Betts of Ohio; Roy W. Weir of Minnesota; Thomas J. Lane of Massachusetts; John H. Dent of Pennsylvania, and Phil M. Landrum of Georgia. The Congressmen who generously appeared to introduce Federation witnesses included Henry A. Dixon of Utah (Jesse Anderson); George Huddleston, Jr., of Alabama (Mrs. Gordon Hardenbergh); William H. Ayres of Ohio (Clyde Ross); Roland V. Libonati of Illinois (Bob O'Shaughnessy), and Cleveland Bailey of West Virginia (Victor Gonzalez and Chris Cerone).
In addition to these oral expressions of support, more than a dozen other Congressmen graciously submitted written statements to the committee favoring the Baring bill, which were incorporated into the official record of the hearings. Such a broad exhibition of interest from Congressmen on both sides of the aisle was a tribute to the behind- the-scenes spadework of the various Federation witnesses while they were in Washington, as well as to the tireless canvassing of the Congressional hill by John Taylor and John Nagle, the mainstays of the Federation's Washington office.
The National Federation and its state affiliates were, more-over, far from alone in their appeal for the Baring bill. Dr. Jacob Freid of the Jewish Braille Institute, a long-time friend and ally of the organized blind, flew down from New York especially to deliver a literate and powerful appeal on behalf of the right of the blind to organization and consultation. Irving Selis of the Associated Blind of New York presented a comprehensive statement of the need and importance of the Baring bill from the vantage-point of a 30-year-old "organization of the blind serving the blind." Carl Weiss, president of the Blind Professional Association, as a blind psychiatric social worker, pointed out the devastating psychological effects of sustained dependency and the corresponding values of self-expression and equality for the blind.
The National Association of the Physically Handicapped, Inc., dispatched to the committee a resolution unqualifiedly endorsing the Baring bill, thereby adding the voice of another national association of physically disabled persons to that of the organized blind on behalf of the principle of freedom of self-expression and of consultation.
An unexpected and very gracious addition to the list of those who testified in support of the Baring bill was Miss Gloria Swanson, famed star of stage, screen and television, who spoke clearly and forcefully of the common tendency of welfare agencies to grow apart from their clients and thus to lose sight of their original motivation and reason for being.
1. The right to organize. In support of the second section of the Baring bill, guaranteeing the right of the blind to join or form organizations of their own choosing without interference from administrators utilizing federal funds, Dr. tenBroek and other Federation witnesses made the following principal arguments: The right to organize is guaranteed to all citizens by the provisions of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. However, since the Constitution is not a self-executing document, specific legislation is regularly required to implement and enforce its general provisions. The right to organize is, further, a right of national scope binding upon all jurisdictions; specifically, the compliance of states with this guarantee is required by the Fourteenth Amendment. Faced with attacks by state officials upon their right to organize, the blind therefore may properly seek redress through national legislation. Moreover, the federal government should in any event see that federal funds are not used to violate the constitutional rights of citizens who may happen to be welfare recipients.
2. The right to be heard. The first section of the Baring bill, requiring the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to consult to the fullest extent practicable with representatives of organizations of the blind, was supported by Dr. tenBroek and other witnesses on the following main grounds: The right of representative citizen groups to be consulted in the formulation and execution of policies affecting their interests is securely established in democratic theory and administrative practice. The principle finds its most direct expression in the case of clientele or beneficiary groups immediately affected by special programs, such as organized farm groups vis-a-vis the Agriculture Department and business associations vis-a-vis the Commerce Department. Organizations of the blind seek and deserve similar access to consultation with public agencies administering public assistance, vocational rehabilitation, and other programs specifically addressed to the blind. The Baring bill asks only that the organized blind be included in the process of systematic consultation; it neither asks nor intends that other interested groups be excluded from such relationships. But only the blind, through their own organizations, can speak for the blind; no other agency or group can legitimately claim to speak in their name. When representative organizations of the blind have been ignored or excluded from regular consultation, by federal officials or by state officials using federal funds, they may properly seek redress through national legislation embodying the appropriate directives.
Moreover, the vital importance of consultation lies in its value as a democratic check upon public administrators, compelling their responsiveness to affected interests and providing them with a channel of information on the views and reactions of pertinent sections of the public. In short, it was held by the Federation that the principle of consultation--the right to be heard--is no more than the power of effective speech in matters of direct and vital concern: the right of access to the agencies of representative government.
As expected, those agencies and groups which have consistently opposed the right of the blind to organize and to be heard were solidly represented in oral and written testimony against the Baring bill. Given a full day (Friday) and much of a second day to deliver their ammunition, the agencies turned out in force. (A few, however, left without testifying when the committee schedule hit a snag, and deposited written statements with the committee.) The list of the groups in opposition, together with their spokesmen, follows:
The American Foundation for the Blind, represented by M. R. Barnett and Irvin P. Schloss; the American Association of Workers for the Blind, by Hulen Walker and George Keane; the Blinded Veterans Association, by General Melvin Maas and William W. Thompson; the National Rehabilitation Association, by E. B. Whitten; the New York Association for the Blind, by Allen Sherman; the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind, by Dr. Merle E. Frampton; the Florida Council for the Blind, by Harry Simmons; and the Delaware Commission for the Blind, by F. J. Cummings. In addition, as was also anticipated the Department of Health, Education and Welfare--in the person of Assistant Secretary Elliot L. Richardson--appeared to testify against the Baring bill.
The central lines of opposition to the Baring bill followed the well-worn paths of previous attacks by the agencies involved. On the right to organize, it was argued by various witnesses that: (1) the right is already constitutionally guaranteed, and therefore (2) no special law is needed to enforce it, (3) no opposition exists to the right, but (4) where such opposition does occur the courts, administrative hearings or state legislatures are available for redress. Furthermore, (5) the provision "eats away" at state's rights, (6) it opens the door to other special groups seeking similar privileges, (7) it is segregative of the blind as a class, (8) it is intended to "force the adoption of the leadership theories and philosophies" of the organized blind, (9) it would prevent state agencies from warning blind people away from rackets operated in the name of the blind, and (10) it restrains J. Edgar Hoover from preventing communists from infiltrating the organized blind movement. (The last two of these arguments were the special aberration of General Maas.)
Most, if not all, of these curious and contradictory contentions will be readily recalled as the staple response of the AAWB and the American Foundation ever since the introduction of the original Kennedy-Baring bill in 1957. However, a few of the tacks taken by the agencies on this occasion are novel enough to deserve specific attention.
1. "The damaging feature, I believe," said the AAWB's George Keane about the right of consultation, "to this phase of the measure is that private voluntary agencies will simply reject Federal funds and limit their programs, rather than have a compulsion on consultation which is irrelevant either to the need or to the program." The very thought of consultation with the blind, in short, has become so abhorrent to the agencies that they now announce flatly to a Congressional committee that they will refuse federal funds rather than indulge in this dread pastime.
2. "I personally view the measure [H. R. 14]", said M. Robert Barnett of the American Foundation, "as an indication of gross mis-understanding of the lives and hopes of the great mass of individuals who become blind. It suggests--it even gives formal recognition by our great assembly of national leaders and thinkers in the Congress to the archaic, sentimental and hideous notion that blind people live in a world set apart from all others, and that the nicest and kindest thing to do is for society in general to let the poor things 'speak for themselves' through some weird governmental system of their own--a strange society of darkness within our larger society, one into which the professional skills and judgment of all other competencies should not enter unless their eyes were first blinded." Here is the familiar "segregation" theme with a new vengeance, and a new candor. For the first time the Executive Director of the nation's largest private agency for the blind has openly ridiculed the notion that the blind should speak for themselves through their own organizations--and no less openly ridiculed these organizations themselves as "some weird governmental system of their own--a strange society of darkness". What a remarkable theory of the character of voluntary associations this reveals; and what an illuminating reflection upon the needs and capacities of our citizens who are blind! Presumably a "governmental system" not their own, by which the blind are ruled by self-appointed agency custodians, is less "weird" than a democratic system of self-government and self-expression such as that of the National Federation of the Blind.
3. The Baring bill, declared General Maas, would function to restrain J. Edgar Hoover and his F.B.I. from their work of preventing communists from infiltrating the ranks of the organized blind movement. This is surely one of the more inspired inventions of an opposition desperate for arguments! J. Edgar Hoover, of course, does not administer a program for the blind, and therefore is not commanded, restrained or involved in any way by the bill. But even if he were such an administrator, neither he nor anyone else is prevented by this legislation from enforcing the law of the land.
4. "There are," stated Francis J. Cummings of the AFB, the AAWB and the Delaware Commission, "always conflicting views on all matters....It is not strange, then, that in some states the views of the good folks of the Federation have not been wholly accepted by the officials charged with carrying out certain programs affecting the blind. That does not prove the Federation views wrong, nor does it establish the contrary views as wrong. It's simply one more manifestation of human diversity, even of human 'cussedness,' if you will. " In other words, conflict and cussedness are the unalterable law of life, not merely in the animal kingdom but in the jungle of agency-client relationships--and nothing can or should be done through mutual exchange of views to mitigate the savage struggle.
But note the next statement of the former president of the AAWB: "Now it seems to me that reasonable people should be able to get together at least to the extent of exchanging and mutually sharpening their views on matters vital to all concerned." Apparently consultation is the answer, after all'. Unfortunately, Dr. Cummings soon retracts this notable admission with the curious claim that a law specifically authorizing and encouraging such consultation would by some mysterious process defeat its own purposes and end in an opposite result.
5. Although virtually all agency spokesmen at the hearings purported to believe that organizations of the blind are in practice consulted by public and private agencies, the real sentiment of some of these was exposed in the recurrent claim that it is only the "professional" experts, not the organized blind themselves, who have a right to such consultation. Thus George Keane: "I do not know of a single agency of government concerned with services to blind persons which has not, or does not, consult with qualified professional persons, who may or may not be blind, in the preparation and implementation of services, and it seems irrelevant to insist on blindness as a prerequisite for consultative services." Likewise Allen Sherman of the New York Association: "I seriously question the practicability of limiting the action of state and federal groups by imposing the requirement of compulsory consultation on them in program planning. We think it most effective to utilize to the fullest the constructive thinking of professional workers who themselves are blind and who know and have a good understanding of the problems of blind people."
What is noteworthy about these familiar expressions is that they constitute not only an admission but a positive avowal of non-consultation with groups of the blind themselves. By this reasoning not labor organizations, but only "professionals" in labor relations, should be consulted by the Department of Labor; not farm groups, but rather academic specialists on agriculture, should have the ear of the Agriculture Department; not associations of businessmen, but professional economists, should have sole access to the inner sanctum of the Department of Commerce. No one, of course, seeks to deny to professional workers for the blind their right to participate in welfare programming as they have always done; what is sought is simply that an equivalent right be granted to those for whom the programs are supposedly designed.
6. "I have said before," declared Harry Simmons of the Florida Council forthe Blind, "that I believe this bill would set a dangerous precedent which would open the door to a flood of legislation on the part of all interest groups. If this should be passed by Congress, in all fairness then should not all be entitled to the same dubious privileges? Should not the deaf, the paraplegic, the permanently and totally disabled, and all other categories of the disabled be granted like privileges--if indeed they are privileges?"
The answer, of course, is yes: all other categories of the physically disabled should indeed be granted "the same dubious privileges"--or rather, the same rights--when they have organized voluntarily and independently on the basis of their common bond. The twist to this argument lies in its sly suggestion that such purely physical disabilities are mentally and psychologically disabling as well; and therefore that consultation with such incompetents is plainly ridiculous. Mr. Simmons even went on to warn the committee that, if the Baring bill should be passed, old-age groups such as the Townsend movement might once again be galvanized into political action. The specter with which he sought to frighten the legislators is, of course, only the spirit of direct democratic participation by deprived and underprivileged groups in the processes of their government. It is unlikely that many members of the committee, or of the Congress, will be impressed by this particular ghost story.
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During the past year and a half many readers have written in to express gratitude over the fact that the Braille Monitor has managed to keep pretty well out of the current internal dissension. Since the issuance of the last number of the California Bulletin, however, (which was broadcast over the whole nation by the retiring president of the California Council of the Blind), many others have written to me and complained that the Monitor has given them no factual background against which they could evaluate properly the charges made in the California Bulletin. This latter group is made up almost entirely of those who read Braille only and who are, for the most part, unable to ink-print material read to them. Those who can read ink-print themselves, or who have had readers available, have received the blasts and counterblasts, the charges and countercharges that have been circulated ever since the New Orleans Convention.
The Monitor has thus far refrained from participating in the imbroglio because, for one thing, we have many sighted readers who would be deeply shocked to learn of the slanderous attacks which have been made by a few ambitious and frustrated individuals against the leader who has served our Federation so long and so well and at so great a personal sacrifice. Another consideration has been the often-expressed feeling, of what seems to be the overwhelming majority of our correspondents, that they are fed up, to the point of nausea, with this whole wearisome business.
It is now considered absolutely necessary that those of our people who read Braille only must be accurately informed concerning the details of the disruptive movement which began at New Orleans in the summer of 1957 and has increased since with ever growing virulence, vindictiveness and violence. It has therefore been decided to issue a special Braille supplement to the April Monitor which will deal with the subject at some length and which will analyze the tissue of half-truths, distortions and outright falsehoods which the articles in the California Bulletin contain. This supplement will reach you in a few days and you are urged to keep it around for some time to come because it will contain documentary evidence to which you may wish to refer from time to time.
It is being rumored that the "rule or ruin" faction is planning to issue its own Braille publication. Such a publication would be, of course, perfectly legitimate--providing the material it contains is factually true. If, however, like the current issue of the California Bulletin, it embarks on an unscrupulous campaign of distortion and mendacity, the Braille Monitor will find it necessary to set the record straight. This will be done with the least possible wastage of words and space.
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It has now been decided that one of the features of the exhibit which will be maintained at the Louis Braille Memorial Museum, in Coupvray, France, (the birtnplace of our great benefactor), will be a mammoth scroll, on which will be inscribed the names and addresses of all individuals and organizations which have made contributions to the Louis Braille Memorial Fund. The six members of the United States delegation, (M. Robert Barnett, H. A. Wood, Peter J. Salmon, Hulen C. Walker, D.W. Overbeay and the Monitor Editor), agreed, at a meeting in New York City on February 25, to finance the cost of this scroll out of their own pockets. Keeping it up to date will be a function of the museum curator. It should be a great thrill to some of us, (or to our children or grandchildren), to search out and find our own names, (or those of parents or grandparents),--for all posterity to view--but I blush to think of the many distinguished Federation names which will be missing unless a lot of my beloved colleagues bestir themselves. Here again is our pathetic little record:
California, $72.63; Wisconsin, $62.50; Texas, $28; Iowa, $26.50; Virginia, $25; New Jersey, $17; Missouri, $13; District of Columbia, $10; Ohio, $9; New York, $8; Pennsylvania, $6.25; Connecticut, $6; Arkansas, $6; Kansas, $6; Rhode Island, $5; Illinois, $5; Florida, $5; Colorado, $3; Michigan, $2; West Virginia, $2; Indiana, $1; Minnesota, $1; Montana, $1; New Mexico, $1; Oklahoma, $1; Tennessee, $1; Vermont, $1; Washington, $1; Arizona, $.50, and South Carolina, $.20. Total--$326.58.
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The first of the many annual conventions of NFB affiliates to be held this year was that of the Lone Star State Federation of the Blind, at the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth, March 21 and 22. This was the third annual convention of our Texas affiliate and for the first time all seven of the chapters were represented--San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Corpus Christi, Abilene and Amarillo.
A board meeting took place Friday evening and most of Saturday was given over to a series of excellent and interesting addresses. My old friend, Bill Dauterman, formerly of Kansas and now Assistant Professor of Education at Texas Tech, in Lubbock, spoke on the training courses now being given to prepare counselors for work with the blind. A former member of the Texas Legislature and representatives of both labor and industry also appeared.
But the highlight of the whole convention, for me at least, was the much too short address delivered by John Howard Griffin, author of the best-selling novel, "The Devil Rides Outside", and of an important new book which will be released in September. Mr. Griffin, as most readers will remember, became blind shortly after World War II and a few years later suddenly recovered his sight. He certainly spoke our language. He severely criticized the custodial approach adopted by so many agencies and was especially strong in his condemnation of the defeatist advice given by certain counselors to newly blinded clients. I sought out Mr. Griffin after he finished speaking and was received with extreme cordiality and graciousness. He expressed a keen interest in the Federation philosophy and an eager desire to learn more about it.
Paul Kirton, who was in Texas to lobby for the bills which are being sponsored by the Lone Star State Federation, took the platform Saturday afternoon and made a brilliant analysis of all proposed legislation affecting the blind now before Congress.
I delivered the principal banquet address and my audience was both patient and tolerant. Later in the evening I conducted what was somewhat pretentiously called a "Seminar" on fund raising. It was attended by quite a large group, the members of which apparently preferred this rather dull and serious discussion to the dance which was going on downstairs.
The Sunday morning session was occupied with routine business. A number of non-controversial resolutions were adopted and also three very minor amendments to the constitution. A fourth amendment, which would have permitted all chapters to admit up to 49 percent of active, sighted members, was defeated by a heavy majority. San Antonio was selected as the site for the 1960 convention. This was not an election year but Marcus Roberson, of San Antonio, and R. J. Holder, of Houston, were elected as delegate and alternate respectively to the Santa Fe convention.
Out of state visitors included a delegation of seven from Oklahoma.
On my way to Fort Worth I spoke to the Amarillo chapter on the 18th and to the Abilene chapter on the 19th. On my way home President Ray Penix had called a special meeting of the Arkansas Federation for the evening of the 23rd and the time was largely occupied in a question and answer session.
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The Executive Committee held an all-day session in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 14 which was an open meeting, attended by a number of Federationists who were on hand for the hearings on the Right to Organize bill. My plane left a few minutes after this meeting closed and I could not secure a copy of the minutes but I did get a copy of one of the resolutions adopted.
Durward McDaniel, member of the Executive Committee, circulated a letter addressed to Dr. tenBroek which demanded that the American Brotherhood for the Blind return all the money it had received from the Federation during 1957 and 1958. All of this money had been used for the publication of the Braille Monitor but Mr. McDaniel charged that it had been transferred illegally because Dr. tenBroek had acted without proper authority. The resolution which follows was proposed by Walter McDonald and was adopted by the following vote: Yes--Clyde Ross, Alma Murphey, Jesse Anderson, Kenneth Jernigan, Walter McDonald, Emil Arndt and Victor Buttram; No--Marie Boring and Dean Sumner; not voting--Mr. McDaniel and Dr. tenBroek. The text follows:
"WHEREAS, Durward K. McDaniel, alleging that he acted as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Federation, did by letter to the President of the American Brotherhood for the Blind demand restitution of all Federation funds transferred by the President of the Federation to the Brotherhood 'not authorized by the constitution or by the convention or by the Executive Committee: and
"WHEREAS, Durward K. McDaniel took this action without in any way being authorized to do so by the constitution or the convention or the Executive Committee; and
"WHEREAS, all of the funds transferred from the Federation by its President to the Brotherhood were authorized to be so transferred by the constitution or the convention or the Executive Committee;
"NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Executive Committee of the Federation, meeting at Washington, D.C., this 14th day of March, 1959, that the Executive Committee finds the action of the President in transferring funds from the Federation to the Brotherhood was both authorized and proper. We commend him for it. It is the duty of the President to implement the constitutional purposes of the Federation. These purposes--to expand and develop the organization, to carry out its program objectives, to propagate its philosophy and advance its cause--cannot be obtained without the regular and systematic dissemination of information on all relevant matters among our people and the general public. As the Federation grew in size and influence, individual letters gave way to ink-print bulletins, the number and cost of which steadily increased. The 1954 convention at Louisville discussed the great need for distributing informational releases and bulletins in Braille as well as in ink-print. The membership was so enthusiastic at the prospect of doing this that they then and there contributed over a thousand dollars in cash and pledges to purchase a British-made machine for reproducing Braille on plastic sheets, and expressed the wish that the President of the Federation make the purchase and commence the issuance of Braille publications as soon as possible. As the price of plastic skyrocketed, the cost of issuing Braille bulletins in that form increased to seven cents a page. It was learned that the same material could be published in the Braille Monitor at less than a cent a page and be mailed free. It was obvious therefore that it was in the best interests of the Federation for the President to transfer sufficient funds to the Brotherhood so that this information might be distributed to all our people in this more economical form. It will be remembered that at the 1955 Omaha convention the expansion of the then All Story Braille Magazine, its more frequent issuance, and the engaging of a full-time editor had been thoroughly discussed. The authority of the President to direct the expenditure of Federation money for the implementation of the constitutional purposes of the Federation was never challenged either by the Executive Committee or by the membership, until in 1957 Mr. McDaniel and Mrs. Boring publicly questioned such authority. In September of that year the Executive Committee officially reaffirmed the possession and exercise of this authority by the President. Not-withstanding this, Mr. McDaniel and certain others continued to challenge the actions of the President, right up to and during the national convention of 1958. It would seem that the matter was definitely settled when the 1958 convention adopted a constitutional amendment setting forth the powers of the President in clear and explicit terms. As Chairman of the Affiliate Standards Committee, Mr. McDaniel has received regular monthly reports from the Treasurer of the National Federation. One of the items reported upon each month is the amount expended under the heading 'Publications'. He must, therefore, have been well aware of the amount of Federation money being used for this general purpose. It seems obvious to this committee that the President was authorized to obtain printing and editorial services wherever he could do so most advantageously, whether from the American Brotherhood, directly from the American Printing House, or from any other source. Although this committee has no doubt that the President has, and always has had the authority to transfer funds to the American Brotherhood for the dissemination of information to our membership, this committee herewith goes on record as ratifying and approving such transfers as were made; and
"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Executive Committee disavows and deplores the uncalled-for and improper action of Durward K. McDaniel in making his demand for restitution of transferred funds".
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The National Medical Foundation for Eye Care announces the issuance of a glaucoma identification card for nationwide distribution as a major public service project. The card, similar in purpose to the diabetes identification card, will alert examining physicians that the patient has glaucoma and is using drugs. The names of the patient and of the ophthalmologist who prescribed the drugs appear on the card, together with the prescription. This information alerts the examining physician to the patient's condition and the treatment he is undergoing and forestalls the use of any contra-indicated medication by the examining physician. Glaucoma patients who run out of their prescribed medicine while away from home will be able to get a new supply quickly, without interrupting treatment, an important factor in glaucoma therapy. In addition to the prescription for drugs, the glaucoma card also carries the spectacle prescription of the patient, which will enable him to replace broken lenses when away from home. The National Medical Foundation for Eye Care glaucoma cards were printed as a public service by Abbott Laboratories, and are being initially distributed to physicians by the Laboratories. Your own eye physician will have them and will be glad to supply you.
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From the South Carolina Aurora Club Bulletin: "Last fall Governor Cecil P. Underwood of West Virginia addressed the annual convention of the West Virginia Federation of the Blind. Following this convention Governor Underwood invited the National Federation of the Blind to send a team into his state to conduct a survey of all programs for the blind. Since we received the honor and privilege of serving on this team, which we feel reflects favorably on the esteem of our organization, we are taking the liberty of giving you some of our personal experiences in participating in this survey.
"Betty and I arrived in West Virginia's capital in the late afternoon of Sunday, November 9, and we were greeted by Paul Kirton, who is on the staff of the NFB. We were later joined by John Taylor, who heads our Washington office. A conference followed in which we were given full details and instructions with regard to carrying out this survey. The following morning, Monday, November 10, we went directly to Governor Underwood's office, at which time we were given a letter of introduction signed by the Governor himself. This letter was to be presented to all administrators whom we were to contact in West Virginia's programs for the blind. West Virginia is divided into eight districts, and we were assigned District 8 which contains five counties. A list containing all the known blind of these counties was given to us, and it was our duty to contact as many of these persons as possible. We were instructed to contact the district administrator prior to interviewing any of the blind clients. In addition, we were instructed to contact each county director prior to interviewing blind persons in his county. This we did, and we are pleased to report to you that, without exception, we were received cordially by the administrators.... We were assigned the southeastern part of West Virginia, which is extremely mountainous, and that made travel very difficult and treacherous. In addition, we were hampered by the fact that many blind persons live either on top of the mountain or in the mountain hollow. Frequently Betty and I were forced to stop our automobile and walk quite a distance on rough, mountainous terrain to interview the blind client. "We talked to old and young blind people, and to both white and colored. We interviewed several who had lost their sight while working in West Virginia's coal mines. Without exception, they welcomed the opportunity to talk to us; and also, without exception, we were told their economic needs were not being met.
"A summary covering each interview has been prepared and by now the National Federation of the Blind has made its recommendations, based on the findings of all the members of the survey team, to Governor Underwood, who, in turn, has made or will make his report to West Virginia's General Assembly. Serving on this survey team resulted in many experiences which I shall never forget, although some of them I would like to forget. Much was learned with regard to rehabilitation and public assistance programs, which I am sure will prove beneficial in the future. We feel certain that should the State of West Virginia enact laws to implement the NFB's recommendations, the blind of West Virginia will realize tremendous improvements. It is our hope that governors of other states will do as Governor Underwood did by inviting the NFB to send a survey team into their states."
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From the Lone Star Leader: "Houston, Texas, February 13--T.F. Moody, of Houston, has launched a drive to recruit new capital and new members for the Lone Star Federation's Federal Credit Union. The drive got under way January 24 and its goal has been set at $2000 from the Houston chapter by convention time--March 21.
"The first two shares sold at the outset of this campaign indicate 'drive'. The number of shares sold since then represents 'over-drive'. Moody says his tongue is out and the flap is up on an envelope representing--at the least--a $320 'lick' for the credit union. A week hence, another envelope containing a still larger sum is scheduled to be on its way to the union treasury in San Antonio.
"Moody writes: 'Our capable energetic members are translating idle dreaming into positive action'. It is the opinion of this writer that in every chapter of Lone Star there is at least one individual capable of sparking the potential energy of his brothers into a chain reaction, expressed in the form of a flood of new capital and new members for the credit union. Such an awakening would furnish real cause for celebration at the forthcoming convention'".
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On February 25, the members of the United States Delegation to the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind met in New York in a sort of caucus. This was only the second such meeting of the group to be held in the past five years. Below are a few excerpts from the minutes:
"Present: M. Robert Barnett, Chairman of the Delegation, representing the American Foundation for the Blind; George Card, representing the National Federation of the Blind; D. W. Overbeay, representing the American Association of Instructors of the Blind; H. A. Wood, representing the American Association of Workers for the Blind; Hulen C. Walker, representing the American Association of Workers for the Blind, and Peter J. Salmon, representing the American Foundation for Overseas Blind. Invited guests: Eric T. Boulter, Secretary-General, World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, Mrs. George Card and Mrs. Marta Andreotta, Recording Secretary.
"Mr. Barnett advised the group that an invitation to attend the meeting had been extended to Dr. F. J. Cummings of Delaware by virtue of the fact that he is an Associate Member of the W.C.W.B. and that there is a possibility that he will be attending the meeting of the General Assembly in Rome this summer....
"Mr. Wood brought up the question of whether it would be appropriate to extend formal invitations as observers to key federal employees. Mr. Boulter stated that it would be appropriate for the W.C.W.B. to do so if requested by the American Delegation. After a brief discussion, the Delegation asked that official invitations be extended to: Dr. Eugene R. Chapin, Medical Director, United States Civil Service Commission; Miss Mary Switzer, Director, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; Dr. J. L. Roney, Director, Bureau of Public Assistance; Mr. Robert S. Bray, Library of Congress, Division for the Blind; Dr. William Thompson, Executive Director, Blinded Veterans Association, and Major General Melvin J. Maas, Chairman, President's Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped....
"Mr. Overbeay announced that he would be unable to attend the meeting in Rome this summer and asked what would be the procedure to follow if he wanted to nominate someone to represent him at the meeting. Mr. Boulter advised Mr. Overbeay that he would have to resign from the Delegation with the request that his substitute be placed on the Delegation in his place....
"Mr. Salmon stated that it was very doubtful as to whether he would attend the meeting at Rome. He stated that he has asked Mr. Richard Kinney to represent him and deliver his paper to the Deaf-Blind Committee of which he, Mr. Salmon, is Chairman, and of which Mr. Kinney is a member....
"At Mr. Walker's request, Mr. Boulter briefly outlined the purposes and composition of the various committees of the Council and how regional representation is established. Mr. Barnett brought up the question of whether Panama should be represented on the Delegation. Mr. Boulter replied that that could be done but that it was up to the Delegation itself. No further action was taken on this point.
"Mr. Barnett then asked the Delegation to express itself concerning its attitude about the election of a new president. The Delegation decided that if Colonel Baker could not be persuaded to run for another term of office, then the presidency probably should be filled by someone from one of the smaller countries. The group felt that the ideal situation would be for Colonel Baker to accept another term of office. They agreed that his possible future retirement from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind should not adversely affect his capabilities to carry out the responsibilities of the office and would probably allow him to devote even more time to W.C.W.B. affairs than he may have been able to heretofore....
"Mr. Barnett then announced informally that in discussions between himself and Mr. Boulter, they had decided that it would be in the best interests of the agency with which Mr. Boulter is affiliated, the American Foundation for Overseas Blind, if he, Mr. Boulter, resigned from the Secretary-Generalship of the Council. Mr. Boulter then gave a brief background report of his nearly ten-year association with the W.C.W.B. He stated that he has come to the conclusion that the W.C.W.B. has grown to such an extent over the past few years that a full-time secretariat is now needed to efficiently handle the affairs of the Council.... The group generally agreed that Mr. Boulter's suggestion of a full-time secretariat was a good one. Several names were suggested to replace Mr. Boulter but none were agreed upon. It was decided to leave the matter open until the meeting in Rome....
"A brief discussion ensued as to the pathetic lack of more accurate statistics in the employment and rehabilitation area. Mr. Salmon stated that if the subject of employment comes up in Rome, that the Delegation should give considered thought to a resolution which would call for equal rights for blind people to compete for professional positions on the basis of qualification....
"Mr. Barnett then asked the group to consider Mr. Card's comments regarding a proposed amendment to the action taken by the Executive Committee at their meeting in Ceylon which will be presented to the Assembly for final action. The proposal of the Executive Committee dealt with the question of W.C.W. B. treasury reimbursement to members of the Committee for expenses in connection with attendance at Committee meetings. Mr. Boulter stated that the Executive Committee will now meet only once between General Assembly meetings. Mr. Card asked that the Delegation reconsider the Committee's proposal which called for the payment of each member's expenses in full. He stated that such an arrangement placed the blind Committee members at a decided disadvantage. Since it is extremely difficult for a blind individual to travel unaccompanied in foreign lands, most of the blind members are accompanied by guides. The counter proposal, which Mr. Card had discussed with Dr. Strehl, was that the full expenses of all guides be paid, using whatever amount of money has been set aside for this purpose in the Council's treasury. Whatever is left over should then be prorated among the Committee members, blind and sighted alike, for their expenses.... After considerable discussion, during which several alternatives were suggested, the Delegation agreed upon the following plan: The Executive Committee members should be reimbursed for all of their expenses; the guides should receive one-half of their expenses; and that, contingent upon the availability of additional funds, a higher rate of reimbursement should be made available to the guides....
"The Delegation agreed to a group luncheon in Rome on Tuesday, July 22. The group further agreed that Mr. Barnett should be responsible for calling meetings of the group in Rome whenever group decisions or actions were necessary. In his turn, Mr. Barnett requested that any Delegation member who wished a group meeting called for any reason, should get in touch with him...."
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(Editor's Note: Since the subject dealt with in the following letter, written by Dr. tenBroek to a member of our Montana affiliate in response to a request for a speaker at the 1959 Montana convention, will undoubtedly be a subject of discussion at Santa Fe, we are reproducing it here.):
"Dear Mrs. Marsh: This will respond to your request sent in some time ago that the National Federation send a representative to your convention next July. In the past, as you know, the National Federation has followed the policy of sending representatives to state conventions at the expense of the national organization. I am sure that our affiliates all found this a very worthwhile policy. It made it possible for them to maintain intimate contact with the national organization and for the national organization to supply information, counsel, stimulation, draftsmanship and other matters. Notwithstanding, the Executive Committee of the National Federation at its fall meeting held last November 15 in St. Louis voted against sending representatives to state conventions at national expense. The result is that we can send a national representative to your meeting only if you are prepared to meet the travel costs. I suspect that the decision of the Executive Committee will be raised by state affiliates at the Santa Fe convention of the National Federation. It may well be that the Executive Committee will be overruled. As things now stand, however, the Executive Committee decision is, of course, binding on the officers".
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By Perry Sundquist
(Editor's Note: Mr. Sundquist is Chief, Division for the Blind, California State Department of Social Welfare. As an actual program administrator, his evidence would appear to be a somewhat conclusive rebuttal to charges made last year by certain other agency personnel that systematic consultation with the organized blind would seriously damage programs of services to the blind. These doleful prophets of gloom argued from their ivory tower theorizing. Mr. Sundquist "looks at the record". His conclusions have arisen from experience.)
For a great many years the Division for the Blind in the California State Department of Social Welfare has been keenly aware of the great values accruing to our social welfare programs for the blind as a direct result of the consultation we have received from, local, statewide, and national organizations of the blind. These organizations are all affiliated with the National Federation of the Blind.
During the past 18 years the State Division for the Blind has constantly sought, and received, counsel and recommendations from the California Council of the Blind with respect to proposed regulations to govern the administration of Aid to the Blind. We have also placed copies of the state's Manual of Policies and Procedures in the hands of many organizations of the blind, and received sound suggestions for changes from time to time.
This invaluable consultation has been formalized for over a year now. Representatives of the Division confer regularly with members of the Social Welfare Committee of the California Council of the Blind. The members of the Committee are, of course, themselves blind and the purpose of these meetings is to discuss and bring out suggestions which will be helpful to county social workers in administering Aid to the Blind, particularly in the area of self-support and self-care. One outstanding result of this consultation during the past year has been the preparation of revisions to the manual chapter entitled "Decreasing Dependency". One of these revisions is designed to give some guidance to the worker which will help her to help the blind person to overcome the feeling that blindness means defeat. Eventually, this Committee will study in detail every sentence and paragraph of every rule and regulation governing the administration of Aid to the Blind so that its members may make helpful suggestions for a more realistic Manual of Policies and Procedures governing the administration of Aid to the Blind.
The happy results of this consultation can be briefly summarized as follows: First, the state agency 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 but are also geared to helping blind persons in their efforts to decrease dependency. Second, 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 a smooth functioning administration of the program.
We in California have been particularly fortunate in that blind men and women have had their own organizations for a great many years. Were this not so, we would certainly have sought to create some sort of an advisory committee, since the values derived from close consultation with the blind cannot be obtained from any other source. We are greatly in the debt of the organizations of the blind in California and of the National Federation of the Blind for their rich contributions to the administration of the state's social welfare programs for the blind.
A blind person's problems are as broad as the effects of his blindness. It is only by going to the blind themselves, who actually experience these problems in their daily living, that one can help and hope to know precisely what the problems are and gain knowledge as to the ideal solutions for them.
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Here is a brief summary of the current legislative program of the California Council of the Blind: (1) A bill to guarantee the right of the blind of California to organize and to be consulted; (2) An increase of aid from $110 to $125 per month. This is a minimum figure; (3) Restoration of a pass-on provision, as applied to increases in federal reimbursement; (4) An increase in the monthly medical contribution from six to nine dollars; (5) A provision that the value of a home will not be included in determining how much property a recipient may own and still receive aid; (6) Clarification of the exemption of scholarships in determining eligibility for Aid to the Partially Self-Supporting Blind; (7) Repeal of the responsibility of relatives provisions; (8) A ban on county liens against the property of aid recipients for the cost of hospitalization; (9) The addition of "self-care" to the section stating the purposes of the aid laws; (10) An effort to improve the law which gives Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled. On this subject, Allen Jenkins writes: "In 1950 the Congress created a new category in Public Assistance--Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled. It wasn't until 1957 that California recognized this category and at that time did so only in a tentative and grudging way. A very small percentage only of severely disabled persons was helped and that help has been exceedingly meager. The California Council will throw its strength into an effort to relieve the suffering of the severely disabled and in addition perhaps bring about a program which will bring to this group some hope, some reason for living". (11) The coverage of blind employees in state workshops by unemployment insurance, their inclusion under the social security program and the amendment of the law to provide that these workers are not "wards of the State"; and (12) A constitutional amendment to establish a $1,000 tax exemption as to the assessed value of homes owned by blind aid recipients.
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From the Wisconsin State Journal: "To bowl a 154 game is considered good for the average bowler. To serve thousands of customers in a uniformly bright, cheerful manner, day in and day out, is considered much above the call of duty. To provide a wonderful life for your family is a difficult enough assignment for any wage earner. Jim Sletten, owner and operator of the State Office Building concession stand, does all these things and more because his blindness is not a handicap in his life. Jim, who has spent half of his 42 years in the concession business, is the state's senior blind concessionaire in point of service (21 years).... Jim, always neatly dressed, has operated his present stand for the past 12 years.... He will open an expanded concession with the completion of a new wing...
"His full time hobby is to spoil the grandchildren. 'You can spoil them and you don't have to spank them,' Jim laughed "A few months ago Jim was building a line fence and using an electric drill. When darkness fell it made no difference to him and he kept right on working. Some passers-by, hearing the squeal of the drill and the hammering on metal, thought there must be a burglary going on and called the police."
From Action (West Virginia): "John Adkins, native of Pikeville, Kentucky, began his career by entering his father's office, where he remained as a practicing dentist until 1941 at which time he began to lose his sight. Not allowing this to defeat him, Dr. John (as we call him) opened a small dental supply house in Ashland, Kentucky, where he again began to prosper. In 1952 Dr. John ran for the Kentucky Legislature and defeated the local machine. He served one term and was in turn defeated by the political machine. Business continued to prosper and in 1956 Dr. John came to Huntington and bought one of the largest dental supply houses in the city. He now calls West Virginia his home and has become a very active member in the Huntington chapter. He is on the Bowling Team and, as in everything else, is getting to be very proficient."
And from the same publication: "One of the Ohio Valley's most distinguished jurists's Chester A. Burks. He has served as Justice of the Peace for some 25 years in Moundsville, West Virginia. After losing his sight at the age of 18 years, he entered the School for the Blind, at Romney, where he soon adapted himself to the inconvenience of being without sight. Upon leaving school he held various jobs, among them helping to manufacture whips and selling tobacco inside the State Penitentiary walls. Due to his keen interest in the law, he ran for the office of Justice of the Peace and was successful. He has served his community well. Chester is married to the former Jessie Moran, of Walker, West Virginia, who is also blind. The Burks are both members of the West Virginia Federation."
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(From the Missouri Monthly Report, March 1, 1959): "House Bills 2, 3, 73, and 74 were passed by the State Senate and now require only the Governor's signature. They are so confidently expected to become law that the machinery has been set up for issuing checks in the amount of $65 as of March. In addition to a $65 monthly grant, these bills provide for a $3,000 ceiling on exempt earnings. However, this last provision does not go into effect until September first." [Mrs. Murphey is discussing here a state-financed program of public assistance to the blind.]
"Mr. Velmer Mehner, of the Ozark Association, made a preliminary survey of Columbia, Missouri, during the week of February 15. He found that neither the Chamber of Commerce nor the Lions nor the general public seemed aware that any one in the city was blind. In spite of the difficulties in finding blind residents caused by this indifference, he interviewed seven sightless persons and will renew his efforts to spark an organization in Columbia as soon as possible. In view of the total lack of civic concern for the blind, we feel that Columbia needs an organization of blind people as soon as one can be formed.
"Representatives of the State Bureau for and the Missouri Federation of the Blind met in my home on the afternoon of February 17.... Thanks to the recent Bureau-Federation defense of the cafeteria stand in the Post Office in Kansas City, a feeling of mutual respect existed prior to this meeting, and a spirit of friendly cooperation permeated the entire discussion which lasted nearly three hours.... Here is a brief summary of the more important points discussed. Steps have been taken to protect blind stand operators from the greed of B.O.M.B., (Business Opportunities for the Missouri Blind)--the Lions' committee that has ridden our stand operators like the old man of the sea. B.O.M.B. has dismissed its executive secretary and the executive secretary's secretary, and the work formerly done by those supernumeraries is now handled by a state employee who finds it necessary to devote only a part of her work day to that detail. Furthermore, B.O.M.B.'s share of the stands' gross receipts is now restricted to three percent of gross receipts for the first $600 and four per cent of gross receipts in excess of that figure. This is a great improvement over the former practice of extorting six percent to eight percent of the money grossed by a given stand.... B.O.M .B. will continue to subsidize the substandard stands, but no more of these unsound business enterprises will be set up, and those now operating will be closed as soon as practicable--the process of elimination will require a few years...
"We also discussed ways of encouraging employment of blind switchboard operators in Federal and non-Federal positions. Mr. Jackson proposed a plan offering exciting possibilities for the Bureau and the organized blind to cooperate in solving this most important problem. It is too early to publicize the plan in detail but the suggestion was received so enthusiastically that there will surely be news for you in the near future.
"Another major topic of discussion dealt with the need of better home teaching service for the colored blind people of St. Louis. Thomas Reese of the Tower Club told us that the state-employed home teacher, who should render such services, actually refused, on some occasions, to visit the horn as of his colored clients. In fact, the neglect is so serious that Mr. Jack Reed, president of the Tower Club, is organizing an evening class of Braille instructions for his blind friends. These revelations of official negligence, and the blind clients' efforts at self-improvement roused Miss Busch's interest and sympathy. She immediately promised an adequate supply of all material the night class will require and we were left with the feeling that one very culpable home teacher will soon hear from the boss...."
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(Editor's Note: This was the statement by Jacob Freid, Ph.D., Executive Director, Jewish Braille Institute of America, Inc., at the Kennedy-Baring hearings on March 10, 1959.)
"In addition to being the administrative head of a national agency for the blind, I am a sociologist and a college teacher. I have studied intensively the arguments presented pro and con concerning legislation to protect the right of the blind through their own organizations, to self-expression and consultation in the formulation and execution of aid and rehabilitation programs for the blind.
"As a result of my study of these arguments, buttressed by my own experience and knowledge in work with the blind, I wish to state my conviction that passage of such legislation is necessary if these too-long denied democratic rights of organization, self-expression and consultation are to become a reality. It is my firm conviction that only in such a creative partnership between the blind and ourselves, as administrators of programs of, by and for the blind, can progress be made to the achievement of the goal that the day may come when the blind person becomes in actuality--what he is now too often prevented from being in practice--a normal individual with a physical disability, with the right to fulfillment of his aspirations, and his own talents and abilities.
"It would seem self-evident that consultation with the blind must result in significant insights and contributions to our administrative thinking, formulation and implementation of programs serving the blind. It is a sine qua non vital to self- evaluation of the effectiveness of our work, to necessary change and adaptation of present activities and objectives and to the adoption of new programs responsive to new needs. Without such rapport through consultation, counsel, sharing of views and experiences, and recommendations, we administrators are condemned to be sailors on uncharted seas and our ability to contribute positive service for the blind is doomed to be misguided or minimal in character.
"A program of public education designed to overcome harmful, prejudicial and false stereotypes and attitudes and discriminatory practices toward the blind should take advantage of the thinking and the experiences of the blind themselves as the victims of such stereo-types, attitudes and practices.
"Such consultation can aid our agencies, our communities and our municipal, state and federal governments in their efforts to disseminate truthful information, overcome ignorance, misinformation, unconscious prejudice and economic and social discrimination concerning the blind. In this way the blind, in collaboration and consultation with administrators, laymen, legislators and employers, can give guidance on behalf of the enlargement of democracy and the achievement of its social, economic and political promise for the blind in terms of their own individual merit and abilities. How can we, in our democratic society whose way of life has been founded on the freedom and representation of the individual, deny to the blind the principles and qualities of American life which have given our nation its spiritual stature?
"We should respect and concede the right of the blind individually and through their organizations the means to partnership, self-expression and consultation in their struggle to achieve social and economic integration on a basis of equality with other persons. We should welcome the blind as peers eminently qualified to participate fully, maturely and wisely in solving their problems and determining their own destinies. Such participation is vital if we are to meet the needs of the blind".
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(Editor's Note: Although so-called "White Cane Laws" are now on the statute books of every state, enormous difficulties have been encountered by our various affiliates in educating the sighted public with respect to the existence and purpose of such laws. As a matter of fact, even many of our own blind members have only the vaguest notion concerning these laws. It seems proper, therefore, to publish some material from time to time in the Braille Monitor bearing on this subject. In our efforts to publicize these laws I think we should always emphasize the fact that they are designed as much for the protection of the sighted motorist as of the blind pedestrian.
A year or so ago Dr. tenBroek assigned a staff member to research all state White Cane Traffic Laws. The result of his work, embodied in a detailed report, is too voluminous for use here in its entirety, but the following may be somewhat helpful.)
"At the time of this writing (December, 1957) forty-eight states have statutes dealing with the rights and, in some cases, the obligations of blind or partially blind persons in traffic. The statutes are basically similar, with slight or sometimes important variations. A typical statute is that of New Mexico:
" 'Whenever a pedestrian is crossing or attempting to cross a public street or highway, guided by a guide dog or carrying in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red, the driver of every vehicle approaching the intersection, or place where such pedestrian is attempting to cross, shall bring his vehicle to a full stop before arriving at such intersection or place of crossing, and before proceeding shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injuring such pedestrian.
" 'It is unlawful for any person, unless totally or partially blind, while on any public street or highway, to carry in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red.
" 'Nothing contained in this act shall be construed to deprive any totally or partially blind person not carrying such a cane or walking stick or not being guided by a dog of the rights and privileges conferred by law upon all pedestrians crossing streets or highways nor shall the failure of such totally or partially blind person to carry a cane or walking stick, or to be guided by a guide dog upon the streets, highways or sidewalks of this commonwealth, be held to constitute nor be evidence of contributory negligence.
" 'Any person who violates any provision of this act shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars and costs of prosecution, and in default of payment there-of, shall undergo imprisonment not exceeding ten days.'
"The penalty clauses vary from state to state, in amount of fine and in the procedure. Some do not specify a particular penalty for violation of the blind pedestrian provisions. The portion of the statute which is subject to the most important variation is the legal status of the blind person with respect to the use of a cane or guide dog and contributory negligence. It would seem, theoretically at least, that where the saving clause is not adopted, the force of the early cases of blind persons on the streets, sidewalks, and public places, which held, long before modern traffic conditions, that a blind person had a right to use the streets, and that his presence in a public place alone and unguided was not negligence or contributory negligence per se, would be weakened. The states in which the provision with regard to contributory negligence is substantially the same as the New Mexico section quoted above are: Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
"The following states make no provision with regard to blind persons not carrying canes or having guide dogs: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.
"Arkansas alone makes failure to carry a cane a misdemeanor. In Arizona failure to have a cane or guide dog could be used as evidence, on the point of contributory negligence, although it would not be conclusive.
"There is an unusual, and quite interesting provision in the North Carolina law: 'At any street, road or highway crossing or intersection, where the movement of traffic is regulated by traffic control signals, blind or partially blind pedestrians shall be entitled to the right of way if such person having such cane or accompanied by a guide dog shall be partly across such crossing or intersection at the time the traffic control signals change, and all vehicles shall stop and remain stationary until such pedestrian has completed passage across the intersection or crossing.'
"The Illinois statute clearly distinguishes between mere possession of a cane or stick and the raised or extended position of the same which is necessary to secure the special right of way granted by the section.
"Colorado, Nevada, Indiana, California, Montana, and Idaho provide that non-blind pedestrians must also heed the approach of a blind pedestrian and come to a stop when approaching or coming into contact with a blind pedestrian.
"States which still do not mention guide dogs are: California, Colorado, Montana, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.
"The Utah statute specifies that a white cane must be at least seven-eighths of an inch in diameter.
"Those states which allow the driver to stop 'if necessary' appear to give less protection to the blind pedestrians than those which compel a full stop. They are: Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming."
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(Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from a letter written by Dr. tenBroek to Jim Templeton, of Los Angeles, who had urged him to conserve his health and energy by delegating more routine work to staff.)
"... Nobody could be more concerned than I am to find some way of reducing the workload. This, however, is far easier said than done. We now have four people on the staff of the Federation and they are kept busy day and night. In addition, numerous 'trusted lieutenants' as you call them are working in the Federation to the full extent of their time and energy. If we could afford another half dozen staff members, it might be possible for some of us to take it a little easier. In the present situation, however, what should I do when, say our Nevada people send me an urgent wire requesting that I help them in a conference with their Governor? Or in drafting their legislation? Or in appearing?
"What shall I do when the Elliott Committee hearings finally turn up--should I delegate the representation to somebody else? What shall I do in getting the vast body of material ready for the Elliott Committee hearings when others have done various pieces of it and I find the work unsatisfactory? What shall I do when an affiliate invites me to a convention urgently insisting I be there after I have turned them down for many years past? ... What shall I do when over 150 letters a week pour into my mail basket? ... Most of them calling for a personal answer. It is easy enough to say 'hire an executive assistant to answer your mail' but how many of our people, including yourself, would be satisfied to receive the answer so prepared?
"... Until somebody can show me how to get these jobs properly done by others, I see no alternative but to do them myself. It may be that the next president of the Federation will assume the role traditional with presidents, i.e., a brassy front to be presented on ceremonial occasions. My theory of the organization, however, has been that the president should be the actual--not merely the nominal--leader and the center of executive action."
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By Oril Reich
("Oril Reich, a 17 year old high school senior girl, volunteered her services last summer to help in counselling our blind children at their camping session inaugurated and sponsored by the West Virginia Federation of the Blind." C. Chris Cerone, President.)
When my friends hear that I have had the privilege of working at Camp Galahad during the Visually Handicapped session, the first question that confronts me goes something like this--"What are they really like?" And I think to myself, isn't this the same question that ran through my own mind, not so long ago? But fortunately, my question was answered with actual experience, but how do I answer these friends? I relate to them the scenes that shocked me into reality.
When I arrived at Galahad the first sounds I heard were those of scuffling feet and the blast of the record player. My original idea of continually reading fairy tales to the campers started to fade, as I tried to learn their card tricks, as I tried to keep up with their hiking. Telling folks about the baseball games always makes me think of the time I hit myself in the face with the bat--when I was the one who was continually in fear that they were going to hit each other! The croquet games always bring out the look of amazement and surprise in visitors, so I go on about the checker games I lost, and the dance steps I didn't know, the trails they laid and followed, the stairway they built, and the all day hikes!
As the camping period wore on, I found I had to brace myself to keep going. They were always one jump ahead. I have given up on ever wanting to produce music like Mary Kay and Phil. And Roger's campfires would put any Girl Scout out of business. No matter what time of day it was, Ronnie was always good for a joke, and the continual one was his rooster who laid eggs occasionally. During the overnight camping trip it poured so badly the creek rose about three feet but that only added to the gaiety, although I bet poor Mr. Brannon had his share of worry that night. I dare say there couldn't have been a happier bunch the next morning when we trudged into camp, even though we were minus about six canteens, shoes, blankets and everything else that was washed away.
The first day we all went swimming I had to hold myself on dock when I saw those fearless kids jumping in. Later, when I saw the perfected strokes of Margaret I stood in awe and I still marvel.
Mary Ann's patience in teaching me Braille, (or trying to teach me), and Brenda's remark "we don't care what they look like, just so they are friendly" opened my eyes to that ever popular personality. Libby might have been the youngest, but never was she last in line, and I still maintain that Virgie wasn't afraid of anything. I'll never forget the time Gary went fishing and those blamed "no-seeums" infested him, but I'll be darned if he didn't stay there a good two hours--talk about persistence! "Muscles" Unger was always the object of our corny jokes but it surely kept up the spirit, and I don't know how in heaven's name Jack did it, but he always had an ace in his stack. Kelly won the Olympics for his boat rowing, but I'll match Wilbur any day with him. He maneuvered a boat like a fish.
Rissie, Alice and I were conversing one day when the topic of school was brought up. I almost went through the cabin floor when they referred to it as the "school for the blinks". To this day I can laugh at that.
Not until I arrived home and took the unused fairy tales out of the suitcase did I realize fully that my mental blindness had been much greater than their physical blindness could ever be. It is to the campers, my teachers, that I send thanks.
And they keep asking me, "What are they really like?"
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"Dear George and Darlene: ... I am sending ... toward the Louis Braille Memorial Fund. Are you going to keep this account open for some time? If so, I'll send more at a later date, even if it's just ... a month.... Sincerely," Faye Langdon, Douglas, Arizona.
"To Mr. George Card: I am enclosing one dollar for the Louis Braille Memorial Fund. I only wish that I could contribute a much larger amount to such a worthy project.
"I would also like to express my appreciation to you for the good work you are doing with the Braille Monitor in presenting the problems and needs of the blind to the public. Although the American Foundation does a good deal of publicizing facts about blindness and pleading with the public for better understanding of the blind, that is not nearly enough. I think they could do a better job of it if they understood themselves what the blind need. They need an opportunity to make a living. It seems to me that more is being accomplished in this respect in England than in our country, which is supposed to be the land of great opportunity...." Stanley B. Lankowicz, Providence, Rhode Island.
"Dear George: ... Am glad to hear of your enthusiasm for the telephone answering service as a fairly new means of employment for the blind. We are quite excited about it and have great hopes that our answering service will be as successful as others have proven to be. If you know of or ever hear of anyone who is blind that is engaged in this type of work, please let me know. I am interested in corresponding in Braille or by tape with any blind person who has an interest in telephone work. Perhaps you could make this known through the Monitor.... Sincerely," Raymond Grover, Providence, Rhode Island.
"Dear George: On Saturday, February 7, I organized the Tri-County Federation of the Blind, which includes Perry, Cumberland and Dauphin Counties. Harrisburg, our state capital, is in Dauphin County. We now have an excellent group there. Those who worked in the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind Workshop, however, told how they had been warned against joining. Apparently it was made plain to them that joining an NFB affiliate would cost them their pitiful little jobs.
"We have introduced a public assistance bill into our state legislature providing for an increase in the flat grant from $60 to $75. I am in Harrisburg every week for legislative work. Sincerely," Frank Lugiano, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.
"Dear George: After reading your article in the February issue of the Monitor I felt I must send you a few lines of comment. There is no doubt whatever about the existence of the 'All-Union Society of the Blind'. Its official organ--a magazine called 'Life of the Blind'--has occupied that position since 1926 and each monthly issue in Braille is about three times the size of the Monitor which it resembles in one important respect, namely almost everything in it is written by blind members of the Society.
"Last year the circulation was over 6,000 copies a month. Since 1956 there has also been an ink-print edition which now has a circulation of 3,000. The Society draws its membership from blind people throughout the Soviet Union.
"Mr. Ivanov, with whom I have frequent correspondence, is Chairman of its Central Executive Committee, and therefore Dr. tenBroek's opposite number in the Soviet Union. The Society is built up just like your Federation, on a structure of autonomous societies of the blind in the individual republics, the equivalent of your State affiliates, and each of these consists of a varying number of sections and groups, the equivalent of your County Federations and local chapters.
"I do not know the present membership of the 'All-Union Society', but it obviously runs into many thousands and may be as numerous as that of your Federation. When people like the recent writer in The New Outlook refer to it as 'for the blind' they are confusing the issue, probably because their interpreters are translating from Russian, which uses one word inflected like Latin in various cases, instead of with prepositions as in English.
"I am, of course, in complete agreement with you when you imply that the 'All-Union Society' and your Federation are in many ways as different from each other as chalk and cheese. The former could not exist without the approval of the Soviet Government and we all know that words like democracy have a totally different meaning depending on which side of the iron curtain you happen to be. It is, therefore, extremely difficult to make valid comparisons between organizations like your Federation and the client groups in the Communist countries, but to doubt the existence of those groups of blind people is as misleading as to doubt that Soviet scientists ever launched the Sputniks or the moon rocket! Yours sincerely," J. E. Jarvis, London, England.
"Dear Mr. Card: ... Tomorrow is a club meeting and we are going to bring up the Monitor, we all enjoy it and want to contribute to it....We have such a nice club now and have 25 members. We have a driver that picks up the ones that cannot come alone and just forty cents round trip. We are meeting at my house until we can get a center of our own.... We sell candy all year round. On August 8 we got our final papers of incorporation.... Sincerely," Mrs. Glen Shain, St. Joseph, Missouri.
"Dear Mr. Card: Enclosed please find five dollars to add to the Louis Braille Memorial Museum Fund. This certainly is a fine thing to do, and especially being inaugurated and carried on as a project of blind people. My sister and I have been to France a number of times but never quite made it to Coupvray. Perhaps another trip may include this village....My sister, Eleanor, is heartily in favor of the Louis Braille Memorial and wishes to be included in this small gift.... The Monitor certainly has some interesting items and you are doing an amazing job in selection of suitable material. It made us feel proud and happy to know you and your wife had the round-the-world trip. My sister and I are both Wisconsin University people and enjoy having Wisconsin people honored. Cordially yours," Agnes M. Burke, Norwich, Connecticut. (Agnes Burke was for many years a beloved teacher at the Kansas School for the Blind and an active member of our Kansas affiliate.)
"Dear Mr. Card: Enclosed is a check in the amount of $23.63 for the Louis Braille Memorial Fund. The members of the San Diego Braille Club wish to share in helping to raise funds for a memorial to this wonderful man. Sincerely," Mrs. Lora M. Baecht, San Diego, California.
"Dear Mr. Card: We, the Virginia Federation of the Blind, newest affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, want to be among the first to make our contribution to the Louis Braille Memorial Fund, and it gives us great pleasure to enclose a check for $25. You will from time to time, be hearing from the local chapters and individuals concerning this fund. We feel that it will be a historical mark of interest to all blind in years to come. Sincerely yours," The Virginia Federation of the Blind, Lydia Stuples, Corresponding Secretary, Richmond, Virginia.
"Dear Sir: I am enclosing one dollar for the Louis Braille Memorial Fund. I wish I could do more. I wish to take this opportunity to thank you and your staff for the nice job you are doing for the Braille Monitor. I enjoy the magazine very much. Sincerely yours," Joseph H. Zunick, Butte, Montana.
"Dear George: Our local group was very disappointed when there was not enough who were interested in having the Braille Monitor put on talking book records. I would never have used it but we felt it would serve many who do not now read it and we, as an Association, sent in our $25. But when it was returned we wanted to make some other good use of the money, so I suggested the Louis Braille Memorial Fund. The other members agreed, so I am send- ing you a draft from the Black Hawk County Association of the Blind in the amount of $25 to the Louis Braille Memorial Fund. I hope it will help.... Sincerely yours," William Klontz, Waterloo, Iowa.
"Dear Mr. Card: I was just looking at a copy of the Braille Monitor here on the Capitol Limited. It is a wonderful publication indeed.... I am a Pullman Conductor on the Capitol Limited, operating between Washington and Chicago. If and when we have a blind passenger, I'll personally see to it that the Braille Monitor is placed in his or her hands. Yours very truly," Charles H. Thorney, Jr., Baltimore 11, Maryland.
"Dear Mr. Card: A check for the amount of five dollars is enclosed for the Louis Braille Memorial Fund. It is indeed a privilege to contribute to this fund.
"I should like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and thanks to you for your tireless efforts on behalf of the blind. Your influence will aid the blind throughout the world indefinitely. Sincerely yours," Jearldine Noeller, Kansas City, Kansas.
"Dear Mr. Card: Because I am appreciative of such a thing as the Braille system whereby I can do my own reading I am pleased to contribute with an insignificant sum of $5 to the Louis Braille Memorial Fund. I hope every blind beneficiary of Louis Braille's work will see fit to make some sort of contribution to this fund.
"May I also take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks for receiving the Braille Monitor every month in Braille which I enjoy reading very much. Therefore, I am also enclosing herewith a check payable to the Braille Monitor in the sum of $2. Very truly yours," Cyril M. Littman, Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
"Dear Sir: The Braille Monitor is indeed a treasure for those blind people who believe in self-respect and independence. I always like to know what they are doing in other places. Isolation is the greatest curse of the blind.
"For some time I have been receiving the Monitor direct and before that depended on libraries or friends. But there are still two issues which I have not seen, November and December, 1957. I should like to hear from some reader who may have these two numbers and has no further use for them. Yours truly," C. William Peterson, 889 Grand Avenue, St. Paul 5, Minnesota.
"Dear Mr. Card: First, may I say that it is with a great deal of interest and pleasure that I read the Monitor each month. There are so many things of interest to us in our country as well as the different areas that if it were not for the information given to us through the Monitor , we would never hear about.... Yours truly," Ralph Ferguson, Council Bluffs, Iowa.
"Dear Mr. Card: We wish to enter the following information in the April issue of the Monitor. The following remarks will concern all those planning to attend the coming national convention in Santa Fe.
"(1) Secure a registration card from your organization's president. Fill it out, enclose check or money order in payment of registration fee. Take care of this matter as promptly as possible. If there are persons who cannot, for any reason, obtain a registration card, write the registration chairman, Miss Ramona Salazar, Route 1, Box 210-G, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and you will be mailed one.
"(2) The management of the La Fonda suggests that there might be men or women who have made reservations for single rooms in the La Fonda, who might find It more economical, and more desirable to share with someone else, a double room with twin beds. These individuals should contact Joe A. Salazar, Route 1, Box 210-G, Santa Fe, New Mexico, as soon as they are able. This would make it possible for the La Fonda to accomodate well over three hundred of the convention delegates.
"(3) It has been suggested that standards or banners be used to identify the seating of the various state delegations in the convention hall. This plan is under study and as soon as this idea is clearly developed all chapters will receive the proper specifications.
"(4) Among the many services that will be provided for the convention delegates by the citizens of Santa Fe will be a crew of young ladies to escort persons through shops, etc. They will also assist in writing and mailing postcards.
"We wish again to advise the people attending the convention to make their reservation arrangements at the earliest possible time. Sincerely yours," Joe A. Salazar, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"I look for some pen pals in your country. I'm blind but having a little sight. I write the typewriter and the Braille and I know the contractions. I'm learning your speech and think it will help me if I have a correspondent. Hoping to have an answer very soon, Yours sincerely," Karl Aug. Michaelis, Dueren 3, Postfach, Western Germany.
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Dear Chick and Ken:
As a conscientious editor, I read the New Outlook each month from cover to cover. The January issue contained at least one article which I found interesting and stimulating. It is titled "The Trend Toward Integration" and is written by M. Roberta Townsend. I urge you both to read it--when the present legislative battles are over, if you cannot do so sooner.
I have found occasion in earlier issues of the Braille Monitor to pay tribute to the excellence of some of Miss Townsend's published material. I have not had the pleasure of meeting the lady as yet but her obvious honesty and sincerity, the clarity and terseness of her style and her penetrating intelligence are a most welcome relief from the tedious stuff that I often feel obliged to wade through. She scrupulously avoids the social work gobbledygook and the pompous poly-syllabic passages that most of us find so wearisome.
From my point of view, however, Miss Townsend does have certain definite limitations. As an agency-oriented professional, it seems to me that she does not see the picture whole. For example, she says that a blind person has only three alternatives: (1) to sell his soul to the agency; (2) to pull himself up by his own bootstraps; (3) to select such agency services as he wants, or thinks he needs, and to rely on his own efforts the rest of the way. Certainly there is at least one more alternative--the one taken by Jack Polston when he sought help from the organized blind-- and received it. As most Monitor readers will remember, Jack is now a superbly adjusted blind citizen, a member of the electricians union, drawing full union scale and handling competently the most difficult and complex installation and repair jobs.
I think Miss Townsend misses the point completely in another part of her discussion. She strongly implies that the reason many of us are opposed to mixed facilities for the handicapped, including the blind, is because we lack faith in the ability of blind people in a competitive situation. She says that, if a blind person cannot hold his own in a sheltered workshop where he must work alongside other handicapped clients, how can we expect him to be successful when performing his tasks alongside sighted workers? The truth is, of course, that our well-grounded apprehension arises from an entirely different consideration. We have learned through bitter experience, over and over again, that in a mixed workshop the blind constitute only a tiny fraction of the handicapped work force. As such, they do not, and cannot expect to receive the individual attention and the highly specialized type of instruction and training which is needed to equip them for competitive employment.
In spite of these shortcomings, however, I again strongly recommend that you keep this article around and read it. It may very well contain the inspiration for a tenBroek speech or a Jernigan essay.
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In the current issue of the New Beacon John Jarvis writes:
"If I were asked to award a prize to the expert who is producing the most stimulating and interesting writing these days on the subject of the education of blind children, I should unhesitatingly put forth the name of Dr. Pierre Henri, head teacher at the Institution Nationale des Jeunes Avegules in Paris. So far only his Life and Work of Louis Braille have been translated into English and then only in a Braille edition. His most recent work is not yet available in its entirety, even to the French reading public. I have seen enough of it, however, to be sure that it ought to be on the shelves of every serious student of blind education as well as on those of all reference libraries. I refer to the work which so deservedly earned its author a doctorate at the Sorbonne. It consists of a major thesis, The Blind and Society, still in the press, and a minor one, which has just been issued. The latter deals with the preparation of visually handicapped children for social and work life. It was only because I am reputed to be one of the speediest of Braille readers and have been known to win prizes in readirg competitions that I was permitted to borrow this minor thesis for one quick first reading.
"The central theme of Dr. Henri's discussion is what he rightly calls 'The Great Dilemma' of blind education. The fundamental one from which all the others are derived is this: should the school aim at the development of those sensory and mental processes in the blind child whose substitution for visual experience his blindness calls for, but which will not necessarily make of him a social being in relation to the seeing world? If so, one can certainly produce an individual man or woman with a fair degree of independence, but one whose behavior and whose very conception of life will be so 'peculiarly' blind that it will be difficult for him to establish adequate contact with all but the most discerning of his seeing relatives, friends and acquaintances. Or should the teacher concentrate only on preparing the child for an essentially seeing world? In that event he will be dissuaded, perhaps even restrained from making free and full use of his own means of investigating his surroundings and will not have been substantially trained to use them. The result, Dr. Henri thinks, would be a somewhat artificial and a somewhat dependent man or woman.
"Dr. Henri is far too keen an observer, both of his own students and of the outside world, to advocate either approach to the exclusion of the other. What he wants is that, from now on, all blind children should be purposefully and intensively trained to use every faculty they possess but that they should also be helped, with equal thoroughness, to acquire all the techniques and attitudes which the seeing will expect of them if they are to reach their maximum degree of integration. Limitations imposed by the fixed length of the working day and by human failings, both of teacher and pupil, make such an ideal combination rarely attainable. But the ideal is something which can be aimed at. The most rewarding section, of the book are those in which the author gives us a penetrating analysis of what one might call the means of education, both as they now exist and as they might be improved.
"This book will prove richly nourishing to all who are concerned for the best possible education of our blind children but heads of schools and their teaching staffs, in particular, should read it and ponder, and read it again and then think some more...."
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The National Blind Professional Association of America was the brain child of Dr. Michael Geffner, fugitive from the Hitler gas chamber, who sought and found asylum in New York. When he learned that the number of blind persons in the United States who have succeeded in attaining status in the so-called learned professions runs into the hundreds, (nobody knows the exact statistic) he became convinced that this group must certainly be composed of outstanding individuals because, even in this land of freedom and enlightenment, it is no simple and easy accomplishment for a blind person to smash his way through all the numerous roadblocks and barriers which superstition, misconceptions and prejudice have set up in his path. He felt that the members of his group must have a common bond and that there ought to be a way for them to be brought together.
There was, I believe, a very small group in the metropolitan New York area which was possessed of the same general idea. Dr. Geffner set to work to build up this little nucleus into a national organization. He had no lists to work on but he wrote to those of whom he knew and many of them sent him additional names. He began issuing a quarterly Braille journal of outstanding excellence to which Dr. tenBroek, among others, contributed some sterling articles. He was also able to enlist a limited amount of financial support.
His drive and enthusiasm appeared to be making real headway in the recruitment and organization of a genuinely effective organization, completely independent of agency control, but fate intervened and we were all shocked when the announcement reached us of the sudden death of Dr. Geffner.
With his departure most of the steam went out of the organizing effort and the Blind Professional Journal suspended publication. Sporadic efforts were made by a few to reinvigorate the languishing organization but to little avail. Finally, a few weeks ago, the Executive Board voted to call a general meeting to discuss dissolution.
This meeting took place on February 28. William Taylor, Jr. of Media, Pennsylvania (a former First Vice-President and a former member of the NFB Executive Committee) and the Monitor Editor were in attendance. Mr. Taylor suggested an ingenuous plan of re-organization and it was promptly adopted. I told the group that the basic reason why so little general interest had been evinced of late by blind people in the professions throughout the country was that the organization seemed unable to fix upon any really worthwhile project. I pointed out how, state by state and at the national level, the organized blind are fighting a desperate battle to get rid of statutory and administrative provisions which bar blind people from the teaching profession, from chiropractic and physiotherapy, from innumerable civil service positions and from many other avenues of professional advancement. I told them of the current struggle in New York state to open the teaching profession to competent blind persons and of what had been accomplished in California, Ohio and elsewhere in that area of professional employment.
I really believe that those present were electrified by the prospect of something concrete on which they could get to work. After having voted down unanimously a notion to disband, they began making plans for future activities with an eagerness and verve which was most inspiring. They had already voted to send Carl Weiss to Washington to testify on behalf of the Kennedy-Baring bill and they now voted to send him to Albany to appear in favor of our New York affiliate's education bill.
Carl Weiss, a psychiatric social worker, was elected national president. He does not work with blind people at the present time but has done so in the past and has no illusions about some of the New York agencies. I was deeply impressed by his sincerity and this impression was greatly strengthened when I heard his powerful testimony at Washington on March 9. A later issue of the Monitor will contain his statement verbatim.
I earnestly hope that a substantial number of blind persons engaged in professional work of all types will now throw the weight of their personal prestige into this movement. We may not be able to meet physically--or at least not very often--and we may not derive much immediate personal benefit from this organization but, through it, we can do something to help those of our fellow blind who have yet to gain a foothold and who greatly need our help. After all, what more worthy purpose can any organization have?
The membership dues are a nominal $3 a year. Write to Mr. Carl Weiss, 201 Hamilton Avenue, Staten Island 1, New York.
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The next meeting of the National Committee for Research in Ophthalmology and Blindness will be held at 10 A.M. on Monday, June 1, 1959, in the Park-Sheraton Hotel, New York City.
The Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc., Rhinebeck, New York, appropriated $225,000 for research in ophthalmology in 1957-58. This was given to a number of ophthalmic institutions to be used for the general support of ophthalmic research.
The National Society for the Prevention of Blindness estimates that there are 345,000 persons in the United States who either are totally blind or have impairment of vision to a degree that prevents the conduct of normal activities, according to the Metropolitan Life Statistical Bulletin. It estimates that fully fifty percent of these cases could have been prevented. Eight thousand children and young people are permanently blind because of retrolental fibroplasia.
President Eisenhower has asked Congress for $3,176,000,000 to run the Department of Health, Education and Welfare during fiscal 1960. This is 1.6 percent below the estimated spending for the current fiscal year. The budget takes a big slice out of Hill-Burton, from $186.2 million this year to $101.2 million. Secretary Flemming says this will be enough to take care of population growth and attrition but not enough to reduce the backlog of needed hospital construction. Grants for health research facilities are trimmed from $30 million to $20 million. President Eisenhower made no suggestions for changes in social security legislation.
The Denver Post containr a follow-up story concerning the resignation of Herman Kline, in which it is stated that the Governor will, in all probability, leave the post unfilled, at least for some time. The Governor is quoted as having said: "I think the division will be put in the rehabilitation section of the new State Institutions Department under legislation that is being drafted now." The Post goes on to explain that "he plans a vastly expanded institutions department headed by trained professional help. The blind rehabilitation division is operating under a deputy director who is a civil service employee".
From the OCB Bulletin: "On February 5, George Hill, of Cleveland, for ten years treasurer of the Ohio Council of the Blind, passed away at his home. George was 68 years old. Even after his health prevented him from attending meetings, he continued to study ways that the OCB could improve." ... "On February 6, the wife of W.G. Scarberry, Superintendent of the Ohio State School for the Blind, passed away, after about four years of illness. Those of us who knew Mrs. Scarberry admired her very much." "The OCB convention this year will be held in Cincinnati at the Sheraton-Gibson Hotel on September 18th, 19th and 20th." ... "On January 10th, representatives of most of the affiliates of the OCB met at the Southern Hotel at Columbus to learn more about the sale of box candy as a fund raising program. By now, most of the affiliates have indicated their intention of participating."... "There is no charge for a guide dog license in Ohio but there must be a license tag on collar or harness."... "The Education Committee has developed tentative plans for a Seminar next July."
As previously noted, the organized blind of Nevada are sponsoring legislation to provide aid to the permanently and totally disabled of that state. Our organizations have sometimes been criticized for selfishly ignoring the needs of other handicapped groups. There are now only five states which do not make specific provision for their permanently and totally disabled citizens--Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Iowa and Nevada.
A telegram from Pat Salazar on February 24 announces that all single rooms at the La Fonda Hotel, in Santa Fe, have now been reserved for the convention next June. A few double rooms remain but they may very well be gone by the time this issue reaches you.
Our Kansas affiliate suffered another great loss with the passing of Miss Lillian Blagg, who had been its recording secretary for more than 14 years. Miss Blagg was one of the first blind people to be employed in industry in Kansas.
Except for its two principal cities, Las Vegas and Reno, the population of Nevada is perhaps more sparse and scattered than in any other state. Nevertheless, of the approximately 300 known blind residents of that state, more than 50 percent are now members of the Nevada Federation of the Blind. As yet no other state can make this claim. It didn't just happen in Nevada, either. The energy and devotion of such leaders as Audrey Bascom, K.O. Knudson, and others, have made this wonderful showing possible.
From the S.C. Aurora Club Bulletin: "Recently an employee of the local broom shop fell and broke his leg during a blizzard.... Soon thereafter an official of the workshop contacted the Finance Chairman of the Columbia Chapter with the request that financial assistance be given this injured person by the chapter. This request was granted, although the injured person was not a member of our club.... We understand that sighted personnel of the shop, when off the job due to accident or illness, continue to receive their salaries. This... broom shop is supposedly in operation primarily for the benefit of the blind. It might be added that this same broom shop official has repeatedly tried to injure, or even destroy our organization....
Hats off to our small but tremendously energetic New Hampshire affiliate! It has now joined the growing list of state organizations which are issuing regular newsletters to members and friends. As I keep insisting, no other single activity does more to keep up interest within any state and to bring about a realization in the minds of individual members that they are a part of a great social movement, functioning at the local, state and national levels. If little Vermont and New Hampshire can do this, how about big Massachusetts?
From Viewpoint (British NFB):"... The State's refusal to act constructively in face of the appalling poverty disclosed by the Royal Commission (1885) stimulated the blind of our larger cities to such purpose that the National League of the Blind soon came into being. Its militant attitude provoked violent hostility in many circles, and its wholesale denunciation of everything and everybody connected with voluntary effort did reveal a certain narrowness of outlook; nevertheless it is to the courageous persistence of the League and its firm stand on matters of principle--often in the teeth of contemptuous abuse and patronizing complacency--that we owe the Blind Persons Act of 1920. The League's affiliation to the Trade Union Congress in 1902 was a significant step along the road to full citizenship for the blind worker which should not be underrated by a later generation...."
There is, of course, no complete registry of blind persons in the United States, and therefore no entirely reliable statistics on their numbers. Each year, However, both the American Foundation for the Blind and the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness issue estimates, based on their own independent research. These estimates have never differed by more than 5,000. This year they agree that the present United States blind population is somewhere between 345,000 and 350,000.
In its February Legislative Bulletin, the American Foundation for the Blind has this to say with respect to H. R. 14, (the Kennedy-Baring Bill); "The AFB continues to regard H. R. 14 and similar proposed legislation as extraneous issues which would serve to compound existing problems rather than to resolve them...."
Mrs. C. Frank Scott has taken office as Commissioner of the State Department of Public Welfare in Tennessee.
"When someone kicks you in the pant --that's a sign that you are out in front of them." (Bill Dwyer to John Taylor.)
From the Independent Forum (North Carolina): "Members who have taken advantage of the generosity of the May K. Houck Foundation, which provides free vacation motel facilities for the blind and their friends, bring back glowing reports of hospitality at its best. They tell of beautiful flower gardens filled with sweet-scented flowers and orchards hanging with citrus fruit where guests may roam and pick and eat at will. In fact, everything possible is done to make the vacationers comfortable and to make their stay in Sarasota as pleasant as possible.... For those who are more ambitious and energetic there are training classes for the blind in the operation of telephone switchboards...." "In February our credit union joined League Central, which is a credit union for credit unions...."
From Action (West Virginia):"... Much to our sorrow, we must report that the Board of Public Works of West Virginia has deemed it necessary to change its plans. There will be a new administration building constructed at the School at Romney instead of the much needed classrooms for blind children. This is a great disappointment, for it means that some blind children must continue to be turned away."... "According to Charlie Montradi of Wheeling: 'If you don't hear a pin drop--there's something wrong with your bowling'." ... "Guy Parks of the Progressive Blind of Clarksburg has just opened up his new office on 'Travel Information' in competition with the three A's. Guy's information is mostly for young lovers, as he excels in telling people the longest, instead of the shortest way home."
From the Industrial Home for the Blind Reporter , March, 1959: "Two of the largest airlines in Australia now give important concessions to blinded Australian veterans. One of the airlines charges the ex-serviceman full fare but allows his guide to travel free; the other charges both the veteran and his guide half-fare each...."
Lydia Harris, State Secretary of the Oregon Council of the Blind writes: "The Spring Seminar of the Oregon Council of the Blind was held March 7 in Portland. Legislation was the all important subject. Stanhope Pier, Chairman, is going all out to get the vital 'Aid to the Blind' bill enacted in this session of the legislature. Stan is really pouring everything he's got into getting this bill across...."
At the meeting of the NFB Executive Committee in Washington, D.C., on March 14, it was reported that Ozark Airlines had refused to transport unaccompanied blind passengers. Mr. Walter McDonald immediately wrote a strong letter of protest to Honorable James R. Durfee, Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board. This got quick results. Mr. Joseph H. Fitzgerald, General Manager, Ozark Airlines, wrote: "There is a rule in our tariff, common to all carriers, (J. B. Walker Tariff-C.A.B. 43, Rule 6) which permits us to refuse to carry a passenger whos£ physical condition renders him unable to care for himself without assistance, unless he is accompanied by an attendant. It is, however, our specific interpretation that this rule does not apply to a blind person who is not otherwise physically handicapped.... We are sending a circular to our stations reiterating company policy in this matter."
The Kansas Association for the Blind will hold its 1959 convention at Chanute, Kansas, at the VFW clubrooms on May 2, 1959.
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