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.
MARCH ISSUE 1960
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in Braille and distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind, 605 South Few Street, Madison 3, Wisconsin.
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 Archive
in 2010 with funding from
National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Key Bills before Congress Affecting the Blind
by John Nagle
Report on "Independent Living" Rehabilitation Bills
by Jacobus tenBroek
Signs of Progress in the Advisory Council Report
by George Card
Exempt Earnings: A Federation Principle Gaining Acceptance
by Jacobus tenBroek
New Gains in Sight Conservation in California
Nevada Taxpayers' Association Attacks Aid Law
State Legislation in 1959
Still Another Version
Thirtieth Anniversary of Introduction of White Cane
by William Taylor, Jr.
Dr. Boyd on the Need for Consultation
Talking Book Reading Speed
First 1960 State Convention
by Kitty Weaver and David Ronecker
The Trend in Placement
News from Iowa
Blind Center in Detroit
by Ray Wuenschel, Russ Werneken and Stanley Oliver
From Our Readers
Here and There
The Greeting Card Program in Review
by George Card
Elliott Workshops and Hearings in the West
by Floyd Matson
President tenBroek Reappointed to California Social Welfare Board
by Floyd Matson
by John Nagle
As the 86th Congress moved into its second session at the beginning of the new year, numerous bills affecting the welfare and rehabilitation of blind persons were newly presented or reactivated for consideration by the legislators. Among these pending measures were several which have the full support of the National Federation of the Blind.
Brief reports on the content of each of these progressive bills follow:
H. R. 1923, introduced by Representative Cecil R. King of California, would amend Title X of the Social Security Act; all of the provisions of this bill have long been supported by the NFB.
H. R. 1923 provides: Section 1. That the states may, before June 30th, 1961, and must, after that date, disregard in determining need, the first $1,000 of net earned income, plus one-half of such income in excess of $1,000, plus not less than $3,000 of assessed valuation (less all encumbrances) of real and personal property. It further permits before, and requires after, June 30th, 1961, that the states disregard, in the case of an individual who has an approved plan for achieving self-support, such additional amounts of other income and resources as may be necessary for the fulfillment of the plan.
Section 2. That a state's plan must provide for equal minimum payments for all recipients of Aid to the Blind; that relatives will not be required to provide support for Aid to the Blind recipients; that the state will not impose liens or other requirements of reimbursement for aid received.
Section 3. The bill changes the matching formula which determines the Federal and state share of Aid to the Blind payments so as to require the Federal Government to pay $30 of the first $35 paid on the average to Blind Aid recipients, and from 50% to 65% of the amount from $35 to $75.
H. R. 7984, introduced by Representative Thomas B. Curtis of Missouri, would amend Title X of the Social Security Act to provide that without an increase in the Federal participating funds, a state plan for Aid to the Blind may utilize a more liberal needs test than that presently allowed by the Federal administrator. This bill, if adopted, would permit Missouri and Pennsylvania to continue their liberal, completely state-financed programs of Aid to the Blind, and would allow other states to establish similar programs.
H. R. 7984 provides that the states in determining need would be permitted: (1) to disregard amounts of income in excess of the $50 per month of earned income permitted under the Federal law; and/ or (2) to disregard property owned by a recipient in excess of that permitted by Federal standards; and/or (3) to pay all eligible persons a flat monthly grant.
H. R. 8218 and H. R. 8219, companion bills introduced respectively by Representative Victor L.. Anfuso and Representative Albert H. Bosch, both of New York, propose: To eliminate age fifty as a requirement for eligibility to the disability freeze and disability insurance benefits; to alter the definition of blindness in the disability freeze section of Title II to the 20/200 visual acuity definition; to add blindness under this definition to the disability insurance benefits section; to require only one quarter of coverage for entitlement to these benefits, and to remove the penalty provision for refusal to accept vocational rehabilitation--all for the blind only. The bills would require that disability insurance benefits be made available as an absolute right, without regard to age, income or employment status, to persons who fall within the above definition of blindness.
H. R. 14, introduced by Representative Walter S. Baring of Nevada, and S. 1093, introduced by Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, identical measures which have become famous as the Kennedy-Baring bill, have as their express purpose "to protect the right of the blind to self-expression through organizations of the blind." This is the justly celebrated right-to-organize legislation which was first introduced in 1957 and became the subject of lengthy congressional hearings last year. It would do two things. First, it would direct the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to consult and advise with representatives of the organized blind in the formulation and administration of programs for the blind, and would encourage state agencies to do likewise. Second, the bill would forbid any Federal official connected with blind welfare to exert the influence of his office against the right of blind persons to join organizations of the blind, and would effectively eliminate such interference on the part of state welfare officials sharing in the use of Federal funds.
H. R. 30, introduced by Representative Walter S. Baring, would amend Title X of the Social Security Act so as to prohibit the establishment by the states of any residence requirements for eligibility to receive Aid to the Blind.
H. R. 9801, also introduced by Representative Baring, would 2 establish a minimum wage for blind workers in sheltered workshops. The minimum provided for in this bill would be 40 percent of the Federal minimum wage, beginning January 1, 1961, and would increase each year to 80 percent beginning January 1, 1965.
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by Jacobus tenBroek
Proposed legislation before Congress which is of immediate concern to all blind persons is that contained in the so-called "independent living" rehabilitation bills--S. 772, introduced by Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, and H. R. 3465, introduced by Representative Carl Elliott of Alabama. The bills would add three additional titles to the existing Vocational Rehabilitation Act, which in essence would provide for, or increase, Federal participation in the programs: (1) to rehabilitate individuals for whom a vocational objective cannot be determined in order to make them capable of "independent living" and to promote self-care; (2) to provide for increased emphasis on sheltered workshops and vocationally oriented rehabilitation facilities; and (3) to provide for the establishment of evaluation services which might more accurately determine an individual's potential for vocational rehabilitation.
The position of the National Federation of the Blind with respect to the "independent living" measures was first publicly announced in a resolution adopted at the national convention in 1959. The resolution follows:
Resolution 59-02: "WHEREAS, S. 772, introduced by Senator Hill, reaffirms and expands the outmoded and retrograde policy of using sheltered workshops as instruments of rehabilitation; and
"WHEREAS, S. 772 would continue in effect and stimulate further development of so-called 'rehabilitation facilities' which are largely medical and restorative in character, placing such facilities under the administration of rehabilitation agencies rather than under the supervision of appropriate health agencies, and thus submerging the primary function of the rehabilitation program--that of training and securing competitive employment for the disabled; and
"WHEREAS, a number of services designated as 'independent living rehabilitation services', designed to eliminate or reduce the need for institutional or home attendant care, would be added to the responsibility of rehabilitation agencies, thus further diverting attention from the proper function of these agencies by requiring them to administer services of an almost entirely social assistance or palliative character; and
"WHEREAS, 'independent living services' duplicate services already authorized under the self-care and self-support provisions of the 1956 amendments to Titles I, IV, X and XIV of the Social Security Act, which amendments quite properly place these services under the administration of public welfare agencies; and
"WHEREAS, when taken in its entirety, S. 772 implies that restoration is the only hope and tends to perpetuate the stereotype of disability; and "WHEREAS, by the emphasis placed upon both restoration of function and sheltered employment, S. 772 goes far toward establishing the traditional stereotype approach to disability as the public policy of the United States;
"NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind, in Convention assembled at Santa Fe, New Mexico, this 29th day of June, 1959,
"THAT, this Convention strongly opposes the philosophy embodied in S. 772 which would create sheltered workshops and improperly place medical care and self-help functions within the scope of vocational rehabilitation programs; and
"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind would favor the expansion of rehabilitation facilities and the providing of 'independent living rehabilitation' if these services were to be placed under the jurisdiction of the appropriate medical and welfare agencies."
The broad objective sought by the enactment of "independent living" legislation is, when placed in its proper perspective, both valuable and constructive. Unfortunately, if the present bills (S. 772 and H. R. 3465) are permitted to become law without adequate safe-guards, the disadvantages to the blind would far outweigh the gains which might be realized.
For more than a year the controversy concerning the "independent living" bill has raged throughout the country. Blind persons have more at stake in the contest over this proposal than perhaps any other group, for "independent living" legislation as a part of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act would not only affect the unemployable blind person but virtually every blind client of rehabilitation services. There are many services to the blind that are not now considered as falling within the scope of vocational rehabilitation. This means that home teachers, for example, must be paid entirely from state funds, except in those instances where the home teacher works with a vocational rehabilitation client. The time spent in such work can be charged against rehabilitation case service funds, but the "red tape" involved is so cumbersome that many states simply do not take the trouble to claim the Federal reimbursement. The result is that salaries and standards in the field of home teaching are far below those in vocational rehabilitation. It is not difficult to perceive why this should be the case. If a state acquires two Federal dollars for every state dollar that it puts into the salary of a vocational rehabilitation counselor, it can pay that counselor $5100 for a total investment of $1700 of state money. Thus, it will cost the state more to hire a home teacher at $3,000 than a rehabilitation counselor at $6,000. If the "independent living" proposal were to become law, home teaching salaries would undoubtedly come within the scope of the legislation. Both salaries and standards would improve, and a broader program of services would be made available to the blind. This would constitute a clear gain, and is accordingly to be desired.
On the other hand, as it now stands, the "independent living" bill would seriously complicate and confuse vocational rehabilitation services for the blind. It would in all likelihood mean that fewer blind persons would be placed in competitive employment. For it would continue and reinforce a trend which was begun in 1954, with amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act which placed heavy emphasis on physical restoration and on what has been called "medical rehabilitation" at the expense of the earlier objective of placing disabled persons in competitive employment. Agencies for the blind would, by virtue of the "independent living" measure, be encouraged further to de-emphasize their job-hunting and placement activities and to spend still more time testing, giving physical restoration services, counseling, doing diagnostic work, and (most especially) helping the blind client to achieve "independent living"--but not to achieve a job.
The proposed bills, like the 1954 amendments to which they are related, point up the important differences which are involved in rehabilitation of the blind and rehabilitation of other disabled individuals. For the average disabled person, rehabilitation usually means medical treatment or therapy of some type; in short, the accent is on physical restoration and improvement of function. Since 1954 increasing stress has been placed upon such measures; the disabled client of vocational rehabilitation services is more and more regarded as a "patient."
Justified as such emphasis may be for other forms of disability, for the typical blind client it is misplaced and misconceived. The average blind person in need of rehabilitation is not sick; he is not a health problem; he is not in search or in need of physical restoration. Lenses will not help him; he cannot be taught new techniques for using his eyes. His needs, in short, are not those of the "patient" but of the active and potentially productive client. He requires help in adjusting to his blindness. He must come to a realization of the fact that lack of sight need not prevent him from doing the things he has always done. He must have training in skills and techniques--independent travel, Braille and typing, and the like. Above all, he must have help in finding a job. The average blind man, like the average sighted man, is not a trained salesman; he needs a rehabilitation placement specialist to help him convince an employer that he can do a job. Considered in these terms, the 1954 amendments did not advance vocational rehabilitation of the blind; nor, as presently drawn, would the "independent living" bills now before Congress. Medical help and physical restoration services are, of course, of vital importance to the blind as well as to other disabled groups. The question is not their importance, but by whom they should be administered, the degree of emphasis they should receive, and their proper relationship to vocational rehabilitation.
There is a further consideration which militates against the "independent living" proposal as it now stands. That is its emphasis (in keeping with the 1954 amendments) upon the development and use of sheltered workshops as instruments of vocational rehabilitation. The attitude of the National Federation toward the institution of sheltered employment is long-established. Even as a place of terminal employment for the so-called "unrehabilitable," the workshop as generally constituted has serious if not fatal drawbacks. But what is of most immediate concern is the growing tendency in recent years to shirk the paramount objective of vocational rehabilitation--that of placement of the client in normal competitive employment--by utilizing such "blind-alley" outlets of segregated and noncompetitive employment as adequate solutions to the problem of placement.
In the light of these comments, the National Federation is presenting the following proposals with respect to the "independent living" rehabilitation bills:
1. Public Law 565, the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, should be amended so as to provide for Federal matching funds as grants in aid to the states for home teaching programs for the blind, regardless of what department of state government administers such programs. The Federal share of the cost of the home teaching program should be the same as the Federal share for the state under Section 2 of Public Law 565.
2. If the "independent living" bills or similar legislation comes to be enacted, any agency of state government should be permitted to administer the independent living program. If the independent living program for the blind is administered by a state agency which also administers the program of vocational rehabilitation for the blind, the personnel (other than administrative) engaged in the day-to-day operation of one program should not work in the other program.
3. Public Law 565 should be amended to require changes in the reporting systems of the state agencies carrying out rehabilitation of the blind, and in the reporting system of the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation; a more realistic definition of "remunerative employment" should be established and a clear differentiation should be made between types of vocational rehabilitation closures.
4. The services contemplated under the "independent living" legislation are greatly needed to promote the general welfare of the blind, but they should be regarded more as health, welfare, and medical services than as vocational rehabilitation--and they should be so planned and administered as not to weaken the basic program of assisting the blind to achieve regular, competitive employment.
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by George Card
The report to Congress of the Public Assistance Advisory Council--the general contents of which were summarized in the February issue--contains other features indicative of growing acceptance of the modern welfare philosophy urged and supported by the organized blind.
(It should be noted, however, that not all recommendations and attitudes of the Council are in accord with Federation policies--most notably perhaps the Council's proposal for the elimination of separate categories under public assistance and consequent merger of all aided groups. Analyses of this and other recommendations of the report will appear in subsequent issues of the Braille Monitor.)
Fully in line with the principles of the Federation is the Council's criticism of some traditional welfare attitudes descended from the Elizabethan Poor Laws: "State policies and practices concerning evaluation of recipients' resources sometimes result in some real need not being met, ...or resources may be figured on such a pinch-penny basis that initiative may be discouraged.... Too often poverty is perpetuated and the efforts of people to maintain a constructive life and move toward self-support are thwarted."
Especially forthright and unequivocal is the report's disavowal of state requirements of residence: "Most of us regard residence requirements as an anachronism, and see no reason why a needy person should be precluded from getting essential aid solely because he is caught in the technicalities of residence laws. We find no evidence that people move solely to qualify for public assistance.... We think that state residence requirements are inconsistent with the high degree of national interest reflected by the extent of Federal participation in the public assistance programs."
On the issue of maximum aid grants to individuals, the Advisory Council asserted flatly that "We consider arbitrary maximums undesirable. In our ever-changing economy with its fluctuating prices and time-and-place employment opportunities, maximums need to be not only adequate but also flexible."
Similarly, the Council pointed out that "any estimates of basic requirements for the low-income groups aided by public assistance are likely to understate the amount required if they are related to low-cost food plans.... We expect assistance recipients to be better buyers, better planners, more ingenious cooks, and more knowledgeable about nutrition requirements than most of the rest of us are.... Many low-income families are handicapped by unusual lack of education and knowledge, yet the low-cost food plans allow for less wastage than the moderate and liberal plans which are considered to be applicable to higher -income groups."
The report declared further that "estimates related to living requirements of recipients late in 1958 indicate that the states, as a group, failed to meet need, as they themselves defined it, by substantial amounts.... When the figures for estimated increases in medical care expenditures are added to the amounts of unmet need for other requirements, the total of needed increases in assistance expenditures, of course, goes even higher."
Equally encouraging is the Council's attitude toward the provision of medical care under the public assistance programs: "Differences among states in the amounts and kinds of medical needs are being met in some places. Not many states provide assistance for comprehensive medical care. Some pay only for a single item. In a state that pays only for hospitalization, a needy diabetic on public assistance, for example, may not be helped to get insulin. But if, as a result, his diabetes worsens and his leg becomes gangrenous and must be amputated, public assistance will foot the hospital bill.... Low income and poor health work in a vicious circle. Malnutrition, untreated physical handicaps, debilitating chronic conditions, and the like, do not make for vigorous self-supporting people."
Another positive emphasis of the Advisory Council Report is upon the importance of strengthening the social insurance programs. For example, the report approves several of the proposed liberalizing amendments in the area of disability insurance, such as elimination of the age restriction, reduction of the number of quarters required for coverage, increasing payments to widows and adjusting upward all payments to compensate for increased living costs due to rising prices.
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by Jacobus tenBroek
Encouraging indications that the Federation principle of exempt earnings is gaining approval in other quarters are to be found in the recent Report to Congress of the Public Assistance Advisory Council. (For other signs of progress in the Council's report, see the article by George Card above.)
In a discussion of the pros and cons of extension of the exempt-earnings principle to the program of Aid to Dependent Children, the Advisory Council clearly revealed its tacit acceptance of the principle in Aid to the Blind
--the single public-assistance category to which it now applies.
Although it made no specific recommendation, the Council's report concluded: "...some of us think that for a specified trial period--say five years--the Federal law ought to be amended to give states the option of such an exemption [of earnings in ADC], and that the experience thus acquired should be evaluated by the Bureau of Public Assistance in terms of incentives to self-support, strengthening family life, and the principle of similar treatment of needy people in similar circumstances."
The implicit approval given to the exempt-earnings principle by the official Advisory Council--which consists of twelve members appointed by the Secretary of HEW and chaired by the Commissioner of Social Security-- signifies that the idea of exempting reasonable amounts of earned income in the determination of eligibility and the amount of the grant of public aid no longer arouses the automatic and undying hostility of Federal social security authorities as it has for so many years. The new atmosphere of tolerance demonstrates that the sustained campaign of the National Federation over nearly two decades has begun to bear fruit in the form of altered attitudes and the erosion of traditional lines of resistance.
It will be recalled that the Federation had secured the introduction of exempt-earnings bills as far back as the early 1940's. Finally, in 1948, the Federation's proposal was unanimously adopted by Congress only to be vetoed by President Truman at the instigation of Federal Security Agency officials. Two years later, the principle was firmly incorporated into the law through legislation exempting the first $50 of monthly earnings on the part of recipients of Aid to the Blind. This time the president did not veto it because it was part of a larger social security measure. During the decade since that important date, NFB representatives in numerous appearances before Congress and else-where have continued to underscore the need for liberalized exemption provisions as well as to defend the principle itself.
Significantly, the treatment of the issue by the Advisory Council is limited strictly to its plausibility in the single program of ADC. "From time to time," the report states, "there have been proposals--particularly in the Aid to Dependent Children program--that recipients be allowed to retain a portion of their earnings for their personal use." The report makes no mention of the fact that proposals to extend the principle of exempt earnings have much more often and more prominently been addressed to Old Age Assistance than to ADC. Bills embodying such proposals have frequently been introduced in the Senate (for example, by Senators Long and Douglas), and on one occasion passed the Senate only to be defeated in joint conference committee.
The arguments in favor of extending the exempt-earnings principle to ADC are briefly summarized by the Advisory Council Report as follows: "The 'pro' arguments are that a child would not only be helped to learn to hold a job and to take adult responsibility for managing money but also get satisfaction from his work; that encouraging both children and adults to work is consistent with the objective of self-support and self-care."
On the other side of the ledger, the negative case is presented in rather more detail: "The 'con' arguments are that disregarding income is contrary to the basic concept that public assistance is a means test program supplemental to the applicant's other resources; that it tends to confuse public assistance with social insurance; that it discriminates against persons without earnings, usually the elderly and the sick, who need the most help; and that it might well delay any substantial improvement in a state's standards of assistance. Where children specifically are concerned, there is danger that virtually forcing them into employment tends to depress wages and working conditions, for children are usually hired because they are cheap and will put up with conditions adults would not accept; that they are likely to be employed when unemployed adults are available; and that bright youngsters, perhaps potential scientists, might become bogged down in blind-alley jobs."
It will be immediately apparent that these 'con' arguments fall into two distinct groups--those directed against the principle of exempt earnings in general, and those addressed specifically to its proposed extension to ADC. With respect to the latter, there are doubtless a variety of problems and difficulties which must be taken into account in considering the application of the principle to youthful recipients of ADC--although it seems unlikely that the frustration of "potential scientists" is one of them.
It is the former set of arguments, listed in the first quoted sentence above, which questions the validity of the exempt-earnings principle with respect to the other categories of aid recipients not presently covered: (i.e., Old Age Assistance and Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled) and which therefore warrants analysis. It is notable that these charges are nothing more than a restatement of the familiar refrain of opponents of the principle with regard to the blind--a refrain long since effectively refuted if not silenced in our successful fight for exempt earnings in Aid to the Blind.
Since the principle is now firmly established with respect to the blind--and tacitly accepted by the Advisory Council itself--it is academic to argue that "disregarding income is contrary to the basic concept" of public assistance as a means test program. For the blind, at least, the exemption of earnings is now as basic a part of the concept of aid as the means test itself--if not, indeed, more basic in light of the modern objectives of self-support and self-care. The refusal to extend the principle to other categories of recipients can no longer be justified on grounds of a theoretical contradiction which has long since been proved nonexistent.
As for the charge of "discrimination against persons without earnings," presumably the argument is that these people are discriminated against because they are unable to make earnings. But to prevent those on the relief rolls from having the advantage of exempt earnings on the grounds that others cannot acquire them is, in fact, to discriminate against all those who are capable of earnings. The argument goes back to the basic fallacy that would require all aid recipients to be reduced to the same level of poverty.
Although these familiar charges against the principle of exempt earnings have long since been exposed for what they are, their reiteration in the Report of the Advisory Council demonstrates that they are not yet fully laid to rest. But what is of more significance is the unmistakable, if implicit, acceptance by the Advisory Council of the exempt- earnings principle for blind-aid recipients, along with its explicit willingness to consider the extension of this modern welfare precept to other categories of public assistance clients.
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Significant gains in the restoration and conservation of sight through surgical measures are reflected in a recently published report on the Prevention of Blindness program of the California Department of Social Welfare.
The annual report of the Department's Division for the Blind, covering the fiscal year 1958-1959, notes that of 245 cataract surgeries performed during that period 226 (92 percent) resulted in improved vision and 212 (87 percent) "were so successful that the patients were no longer eligible for Aid to the Blind."
The single corneal transplant surgery performed under the program resulted in the improvement of the patient's vision in the operated eye from 20/200 to 20/30, "enabling him to return to full-time employment."
Noting that 227 of the total of 260 persons undergoing all types of eye surgery during the year were improved to the extent of becoming ineligible for Aid to the Blind--and that such aid was actually discontinued in 167 cases--the official report emphasized that, apart from the substantial saving of public funds thus effected, "the physical and social values resulting from restored vision are tremendous both to the individual and to his family."
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A broad-gauged attack upon nearly all liberal and progressive features of public assistance has been made by the Taxpayers' Association of Nevada, as the result of a recent voluntary study of Welfare Department programs in that state.
The Association's negative attitude toward Aid to the Blind and other recipient groups was set forth in a series of "recommendations concerning Welfare Department policy" contained in its report.
In view of the close ties linking taxpayers' associations in the various states, the attitudes and action of the Nevada association are of concern to blind people throughout the country. The most pertinent and significant of the group's recommendations follow:
"Assistance grants should continue to be computed upon the basis of need by applying recipients' available resources against a minimum decent standard of living....
"Study should be given toward making the administration and enforcement of the relative responsibility law more effective.... Perhaps more emphasis should be placed upon state enforcement of the responsble relatives' law....
"The [living] standards should be uniform for all three public assistance programs....
"There should be a limitation on a value of a home that an OAA, AB or ADC applicant may own or may be buying and still be eligible for public assistance. Presently there is no maximum value. The amount could also be set by legislation. It is the Department's belief that the maximum amount allowed for shelter will prohibit the recipient from ownership of an excessively costly residence. However, there appears to be no provision to prevent the recipient from paying the entire maximum shelter allowance of $55 for taxes and neglecting the up-keep and insurance....
"A limitation should be imposed upon the maximum value of property other than a home that a public assistance applicant may own. The only present limitation is that the property produce a reasonable income which must be used to reduce his needs....
"It is therefore proposed that a realistic limit be placed upon the property owned by a recipient and that real property below the limit must continue to earn six percent yearly income, which must be applied to augment needs."
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Some of my correspondents have gained the impression that little or no legislative headway was made last year at the state level. The February New Outlook contains a survey of new laws affecting the blind. Many of these have already been reported in the Braille Monitor but here is a portion of the summary, prepared by Helga Lende:
"...Special provisions have been made in three states--Connecticut, Kansas and North Dakota--for the education of deaf-blind children when facilities for such education do not exist in the state. ... A number of states have increased the maximum monthly amount which may be granted in aid to blind persons; Arizona, from $80 to $90, California, basic grant from $99 to $104, and Vermont, from $65 to $75.... Missouri raised the amount of pension for the blind and State-Federal aid to the blind from $60 to $65 per month and increased the income permitted from $2,100 to $3,000 per annum for both blind pension and aid to the blind recipients. In Nevada the minimum presumed need was increased from $90 to $100 per month. In Ohio and South Dakota the maximums were removed. ... A trend toward liberalization of residence requirements is evident. Iowa and Maine have changed residence requirements from five years to one year and Ohio from five years to three years. ... A number of states have made radical changes in their organizational set-up. Colorado created a department of rehabilitation, describing its functions, powers and duties and transferring thereto certain other services to the blind.... Illinois completely revised and modernized the statutes regarding the state's service program for blind persons.... California spells out the duties of home teachers. Unemployment insurance coverage is extended to all handicapped workers in that state's workshops. The state's vending stand law now permits construction and installation of snack bars and cafeterias for operation by blind persons, in addition to vending stands, in buildings owned or occupied by the state. New York permits the Commissioner of Standards and Purchases to grant rent- free space in state public buildings for blind-operated vending stands.... Iowa, Maine and Washington now provide heavy penalties for a refusal to permit a blind person accompanied by a guide dog the full use and enjoyment of public conveyances, public amusements, and places of public accommodations, and prohibit an extra charge for the guide dog.... Four states--Nevada, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Rhode Island--have increased tax exemptions in the cases of blind property owners. ..."
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From the Nevada News Bulletin: "Some members are like wheel-barrows--no good unless pushed. Some members are like trailers--no good unless pulled. Some are like canoes--they need to be paddled. Some are like kites--if you don't keep a string on them they will blow away. Some are like footballs--you can't tell which way they will bounce. Some are like balloons--full of wind and likely to blow up unless handled carefully."
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By William Taylor, Jr.
This autumn will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the introduction of the white cane by Mr. F. M. Bonham of the Peoria, Illinois Lions Club. It is planned to celebrate this significant occurrence by appropriate ceremonies during the convention of the Illinois Federation of the Blind in mid-October at Peoria. Many of us feel strongly that it should be more than a local affair and should be expanded to nation-wide proportions, with coverage by the press services, radio and TV networks. We anticipate that the thousands of Lions clubs throughout the country would be pleased by an expression of appreciation on the part of the blind, and relations between the Federation and the Lions would be strengthened. Even more important, however, from our point of view--this anniversary could provide a tremendous opportunity to publicize the white cane traffic laws and the meaning of the white cane. Complaints keep coming in from readers about the lack of awareness of and respect for the canes on the part of drivers. But this lack is really because of our own failure to drive hard and ceaselessly to educate the motoring public. What in my opinion is needed and needed immediately is an extensive, intensive and never-slackening publicity campaign. This anniversary would give us an opening so that we could go to our local Lions clubs as well as to the Lions International Head-quarters. If you agree that this affair should be national in scope and that worthwhile safety publicity will result, please help by doing some or all of the following: (1) Write a brief letter to the Lions International Headquarters, 209 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, telling why you hope they will endorse and support the proposed celebration. (2) Tell your story to your local Lions clubs and ask them to write to their Chicago office. This will at least afford an opportunity for you to acquaint the local club with the existence and aims of your local Federation and should get some white cane publicity in your home community. (3) Write to the Lions district governors in your state along the same line. (4) Only a few states include questions about white canes among those to be answered by applicants for drivers' licenses. A letter of inquiry to the Bureau of Motor Safety at your state capitol should elicit detailed information as to what they are doing, or are neglecting to do, to keep drivers constantly aware of the meaning of the white cane. What you learn about efforts not being made to promote the safety of blind pedestrians might serve as material upon which to base your talks to Lions clubs, the appeal to the Lions International and for releases to your local newspapers and radio stations. Incidentally, those who ascertain that effective efforts are being made in their state could be of great help if they would write it up and mail their report to the Braille Monitor, 605 South Few Street, Madison 3, Wisconsin.
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(Editor's note: The following excerpts are taken from the testimony prepared for delivery by Dr. Munford Boyd of Virginia, during the regional hearings called by the Frampton Committee for the Southern states.)
"...It goes without saying that the very meaning of the principle of consultation, as embodied in both the legislative and administrative branches of government, is that individuals and groups affected by public programs have the right to be heard in the formulation and execution of those programs. Thus, it is not only our legislators who are to be regarded as representatives of the people, although their democratic election makes them preminent in that respect. Representative government extends as well to the executive and administrative agencies responsible for the performance of the programs approved by Congress. It is especially within the field of public administration that the representative device of consultation finds its most direct and forceful application....
"The multiple values of consultation in the administrative process have, of course, long been recognized by the Federal Government. For a typical example, the 1941 report of the Attorney General's Committee on Administrative Procedure contains a detailed account of the development and function of consultative practices: 'As economic and other groups in the community became organized and vocal,' the report states, 'and as legislation affecting them came more and more into existence, administrators in contact with those upon whom their authority bore turned to them for information and their point of view. Participation by these groups in the rule-making process is essential in order to permit administrative agencies to inform themselves and to afford adequate safeguards to private interests. ..." Professional and scholarly authorities in the fields of law and public administration are unanimously agreed that there are few features of democratic government more nearly indispensable than that of active participation by interested citizen groups through systematic procedures of consultation.... Says Professor Avery Leiserson, 'It is perfectly clear that in the sense of the right to be heard, to be consulted, and to be informed in advance of the tentative basis of emerging policy declaration, group participation is a fundamental feature of democratic legislation and administration.'
"...Unfortunately, in the administration of public programs of vocational rehabilitation (including sheltered workshops), as well as those of public assistance, the principle of consultation has in the past been honored more often in the breach than in the observance. Particularly with reference to programs directly addressed to our blind population, the need of the clients to be heard and consulted has been for the most part ignored by administrators, both of Federal agencies and of state agencies participating in the use of Federal funds. In fact, spokesmen for some agencies for the blind have gone so far as to deny, not only the need and desirability of such consultation on the part of blind clients, but even their right as citizens to be consulted. Thus a national association of agency workers for the blind has declared publicly that any legislation aimed at protecting the consultative right of blind groups 'is not only unnecessary and unjustified but...embodies a completely unsound and retrogressive concept of the responsibilities and privileges of blind persons as citizens.'
"In view of this and similar denials of the right of our blind people to be heard on the policies governing their welfare, it is pertinent to note that only if blind persons are regarded as less than citizens and less even than alien residents--only if they are to be classified together with convicted criminals and the mentally ill--can such a constitutional deprivation be upheld. For the right of all others to be heard and consulted on matters affecting them is embodied no less plainly within the guarantees of the First Amendment than their right to speak upon public issues. The right of free speech has always been recognized as carrying with it the corollary right to be heard; it is for this reason that the First Amendment explicitly protects not only the freedom of speech and assembly but the freedom of petition as well.
"However, even where the constitutional right of consultation is granted to the blind, there are those who assert that they are 'professionaly unqualified' to exercise that right. The most frequent argument against consultation with organizations of the blind is that such argument against consultation with organizations of the blind is that such groups are unprofessional and, hence, incompetent to make a meaningful contribution to the development of public policy. Aside from the simple untruth of this contention, there can be little doubt that the original source of the attitude which it expresses is the crumbling tradition of custodialism and dependency in which the blind have been held for centuries by charitable institutions entrusted with their welfare....
"In the programs of vocational rehabilitation and employment, including those of workshops and vending stands, the broad goal of restoring the productive powers of blind men and women--together with the specific tasks of training, counseling, guidance and placement--can obviously be facilitated through the active participation of organizations of the blind themselves. Without such consultation, indeed, there is little to counterbalance the regressive tendency of program administrators to limit the preparation of blind clients to those routine and stereotyped occupational channels which represent the path of least resistance. The modern objective of full integration of the blind within society on a basis of normality and essential equality is not likely to reach fruition until the blind themselves are permitted to contribute their accumulated experience and insight through systematic participation--which is to say, through regularly established methods of consultation by officials with representatives of the organized blind.
"Although the custodial attitudes of condescension and contempt toward the blind still operate on various levels of administration to hamper effective consultation on a basis of mutual confidence and trust, I do not wish to give the impression that such attitudes are universal. On the contrary, in many states the close working relationships between agency administrators and organizations of the blind are highly productive and rewarding to both sides. It is no coincidence that these are also the states in which public programs of aid and rehabilitation for the blind are most enlightened and successful.
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The lead article in the February New Outlook is based on the doctoral dissertation of Mitat E. Enc, which, in turn, is based on a series of experiments carried on at the Illinois residential school at Jacksonville to determine whether fast or slow reading is more effective for blind children when a Talking Book recording is being utilized. The tests showed rather conclusively that blind children learn more quickly and retain more accurately the material which is read to them at a relatively high speed. This tends to re-enforce the notion I have held for a long time--that nearly all Talking Book recordings are read much too slowly for the average blind adult. Personally, I enjoy the staccato speed with which the recorded version of Newsweek magazine is now being read each week.
Incidentally, Mr. Enc, who is now a professor at Gazi Technical Teachers College, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, represented Turkey at the Paris meetings of the World Council in 1954 and we became quite well acquainted.
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By Kitty Weaver and David Ronecker
The Lone Star State Federation of the Blind held its fourth annual convention at the Gunter Hotel, San Antonio, January 23-24, preceded by the annual meeting of our credit union on January 22. President Roberson opened the first session with a report of progress since the Fort Worth convention a year ago. State Senator Henry B. Gonzalez told of his valiant but unsuccessful attempts to get our pension bill through the legislature. (In her version, Mrs. Weaver commented: "It was the most exciting report on no progress in legislation that I have ever heard.") Dr. Robert Bottenberg, president of the Blinded Veterans Association, pledged cooperation with the National Federation. A representative from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc., showed a movie of the training course offered at San Rafael, California. M. Robert Barnett, of the American Foundation for the Blind, was next on the program and what he said was largely non-controversial. John N. Taylor, of Iowa, summarized the bills before Congress which the NFB is supporting. Durward McDaniel, of Oklahoma, was the banquet speaker.
At the business meeting a resolution to return 15% of the current greeting card allocation to the NFB treasury was adopted, as was one directing the Miami delegates to give full support to Dr. tenBroek, and a third condemned all forms of mendicancy.
The newly elected officers are as follows: President, Charles Garrett, 1226 Sacramento, San Antonio; first vice president, Tom Moody, Houston; second vice president, Coyla Prosser, Amarillo; third vice president, John Sledd, Houston; corresponding secretary, Marcus Roberson, San Antonio; recording secretary, Mrs. Leon Payne, San Antonio; treasurer, Martha Creed, Fort Worth; finance director, Mrs. Berthina Brooks, Dallas; public relations director, Mrs. D. F. Weaver, Dallas. President Garrett and Bowie Taylor, of Houston, will be official delegates. The 1961 convention will be held at Amarillo, the third week in January.
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Dr. Herbert Rusalem, writing in The New Outlook and reviewing a recent study in the area of employer's practices and policies in the hiring of physically impaired workers, has these comments:
"...In the forward thrust to improve direct services to blind persons, placement activity apparently has failed to keep pace. If this is true, some hypotheses can be offered which seem associated with the trend:
"1. The old-line placement officer who was a product of industry and who allied himself with industrial concepts and movements has given way, to some degree, to the college-trained counselor. These newer products of graduate programs in rehabilitation counseling bring much-needed strengths into the vocational counseling process but neither their orientation nor their experience have their origins in the world of work. In fact, they tend to perceive placement as subsidiary to counseling. For many of them, the sole-eroding, back-breaking, leg-tiring placement job is less desirable than their desk functions.
"2. Placement work has received relatively little professional attention. Basically, the placement counselor's functions are ill-defined. In some cases these functions have been 'integrated' into rehabilitation counseling. With tremendous caseloads confronting him and with selective placement demanding large blocks of time, the rehabilitation counselor tends to rely upon other resources for placement activity. Furthermore, there is no general agreement about the personal qualifications and training required for placement work. At the moment there seems to be no educational resource through which an individual, otherwise qualified, may prepare himself for placement counseling, per se...."
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From the Iowa Association of the Blind Bulletin:
"The big news during the last three months has concerned the Orientation Center. At the time our last issue went to press things were somewhat at a standstill. Then in November the Governor came out with a statement charging that the state executive committee was using delaying tactics and hindering all progress toward an Orientation Center for the Blind. Shortly after this the state executive council passed several resolutions which really put things in motion. In short these resolutions did the following: (1) The Iowa Commission for the Blind is to have full use of the old YMCA building as an Orientation Center. (2) An architect is to be employed to draw up plans for the remodeling of the building. (3) Because the legislature appropriated only $50,000 for this work (which is entirely inadequate), the Interim Committee will be asked for $195,000 to remodel and furnish the building. The architect has been secured and will have his report ready in March. Then application will be made to the Interim Committee for the money and if this is secured the work should be completed before the end of the year and the entire Commission will be in new quarters. Then an active program of rehabilitation will finally go into operation in Iowa. Two new members have been added to the staff of the Commission. They are Mr. John Taylor, of the NFB staff, Washington, D.C., and Manuel Urena of California....
"Late in December Mrs. Smith, chairman of the State Board of Social Welfare, announced that there will be an increase of 15 percent in the maximum allowed for shelter in the program for the blind, and also an increase in the amount for water, electricity and fuel.... We were rather disappointed that there was no adjustment of the food budgets.... Many of our readers will be saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. C. S. Olson, who was a teacher for many years at the school in Vinton.... Mr. Charles Brammer, who had been with the Iowa Commission for the Blind a little over a year, resigned late in November.... Tom Jantzen of Grinnell went to the hospital the day after Thanksgiving and has not shown much improvement since. Because of his health he has felt it necessary to resign from the legislative and advisory committees."
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By Ray Wuenschel, Russ Werneken and Stanley Oliver
In less than two years of corporate existence, the Detroit chapter of the Michigan Council of the Blind has made considerable progress in laying the groundwork for a long-overdue improvement in the situation of Detroit's blind population. The two principal achievements of the group are: persuading the city's largest non-governmental social service agency, the United Community Services, to institute a comprehensive survey of the needs of Detroit's blind and of the current facilities to meet those needs, and the establishment of the city's first organization solely and specifically concerned with the total welfare of the blind. The study of needs and resources will begin in April and is expected to take about four months.... The new organization became a non-profit Michigan corporation last August under the name Blind Service Center of Metropolitan Detroit, Inc. Its purposes are: to determine the needs of the blind of metropolitan Detroit; to organize community resources to meet those needs, and to administer needed services that no other facility is able or inclined to furnish. Though BSC's three top officers are blind leaders of the Detroit chapter and have been active members of the National Federation of the Blind for many years, BSC will function independently of the organization that brought it into being....
Many months of intensive exploratory work preceded the first meetings that the Detroit chapter held with the executive director of United Community Services and the United Foundation. It is believed that the findings of the chapter's own preliminary study of blind needs in Detroit--a study documented by many letters from top rehabilitation executives--was a chief factor in persuading United Community Services that the Detroit situation deserved the concentrated attention of a full-scale survey. A primary emphasis of the Blind Service Center will be an aggressive program of public education.... While recognizing the need for interim services, the new organization believes that the ultimate aim of all programs of service for the blind should be to help blind citizens realize their full potential as productive and self-reliant members of a society operating on the principles of equal opportunity and free competition. The group will not promote the concepts of sheltered work-shops and other retrogressive traditions.
Though the Blind Service Center is an independent agency, there is to be continuing consultation between the Center and the Detroit chapter of the MCB to make sure that the viewpoints of the blind themselves are thoroughly understood and never overlooked.
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"...Enclosed you will find our check in the amount of $200. At the Council's quarterly meeting yesterday it was voted to make this contribution to the NFB. Though we hope it may help to sustain the Braille Monitor, the executive committee may do as it sees fit with this money.
"Some of our members are worried about the resolution of the NFB executive committee of November 14, in which it is proposed that state affiliates should have to obtain permission to engage in fundraising by mail, except for White Cane Week. We deplored by resolution the campaign by one affiliate last year to raise money through a seemingly nationwide unordered merchandise campaign, but our members feel that in our own state we should have autonomy. If the restriction were limited to unordered merchandise campaigns, I believe there would be no objection, but if it is to apply to every attempt to raise money through the mail, the traditional fundraising of some of our member organizations might be impaired. ..." J. Henry Kruse, Jr., Chatham, New Jersey.
In the course of discussing possible ways of increasing the exchange of reading matter for the blind between the United Kingdom and the United States, John Jarvis suggested that we explore the possibility of having Braille books put in the United States Information Centers throughout the world. I did nothing with this excellent idea for eighteen months and almost forgot it, but when I received an announcement of a meeting of some world organization for the handicapped to be held this autumn and that Mary Switzer of OVR was co-chairman, I wrote her. She replied:
" 'Thank you for your thoughtful and stimulating letter of January 12. The idea of making Braille books available overseas is certainly interesting and exciting. I will follow this up with the United States Information Service and the People to People program. I am confident that we can work something out and shall let you know of our progress.'
"John Jarvis's idea conceivably could click and result in some great good, and without too much added cost, for I understand that it is comparatively cheap to print additional copies once the plates have been made...." William Taylor, Jr., Media, Pennsylvania.
"I very much enjoy reading the Braille Monitor...Many of us in this country are most fervent admirers of your wonderful organization in America, and it is most interesting to read of your activities." Miss M. C. Bedwell, General Secretary, NFB of the United Kingdom, London, England.
"Recordings for the Blind, Inc., 745 Fifth Avenue, New York 22, New York, is processing Hope Deferred in disc form. The book has already been read onto eight 1200-foot reels at their Detroit branch.... Presumably now the disc editions are being readied at the New York headquarters. ... It might be a good idea if a few of our people write, suggesting a number of copies be made. It is my impression that their latest equipment permits simultaneous production of around twenty discs from a master tape.... The book has received considerable attention and should have many hundreds if not thousands of readers in the next few years. Unless the current discs are of much improved nature, they stand up for only a dozen or so good playbacks. ..." Stanley Oliver, Detroit, Michigan.
Due to the short session of our legislature this year, I can look for no appreciable gains. In fact, we are on the defensive. A bill has been introduced which reads, in part: 'The State Department shall have the right to recover from the estate of any recipient of aid to the blind at his death.' This may also apply to former recipients. It will take all our time to oppose this bill. ..." Rosario Epsora, Baltimore, Maryland.
"January 21 was a red letter day for Susan Kramer, our state secretary, who has been working like a trooper to organize a new chapter in Pittsburgh. It is called the Golden Triangle chapter. I had the pleasure and privilege of installing the new officers. They are: President, Susan Kramer; vice-president, William Corey; recording secretary, Ruth Greenlee; corresponding secretary, Clara Kochem, and treasurer, Clarence McCreary. There were thirty-seven on hand. A number of others who had joined could not be present because of illness....
"I am leaving for Philly in a few minutes to visit our chapters there and to try to get another one started. We have the ball rolling in a half dozen places--hope we'll score some hits. I will be in Lancaster to form a new chapter February 10; in Williamsport April 2; in New Castle April 23, and in Erie April 24. ..." Frank Lugiano, Wilkes- Barre, Pennsylvania.
"...I don't see why the blind quibble about the use of a cane or a dog; the main thing is to be able to get around independently. For me, a guide dog is freedom, joy and a fuller life. ... I am ashamed that I have neglected so long to write you just how much I, as well as Pete, and the two Cromwell brothers who live with us, enjoy the Monitor. I read it from cover to cover and enjoy every page of it. You are doing a tremendous job of editing. Your selection of material is superb and I am so sorry that it is necessary to cut its size. I hope the Monitor will continue as it is and not have short stories. ..." Hazel Moore, Nashville, Tennessee.
"...I always take time to read the Braille Monitor from cover to cover. I deeply regret the limitation of funds allotted to this publication.... The Federation needs the Monitor.... The enclosed contribution cannot begin to equal the value I have received from it.
"Two weeks ago I moved from Atlanta to Anniston and I am now sales manager for the Forestlawn Gardens Cemetery.... Most--rather, too many blind and partially blind, are selling themselves short. The sales field is wide open for anyone, blind or sighted, who is willing to work. In this field one does not need to contend with the prejudice against blindness. ... In the sales field a man is his own competitor. Determination is the chief factor. Blindness is secondary.... Most employers in this field would give a visually handicapped person an opportunity as long as he displays a willingness to work. What do they have to lose? ...Most of the highest paid jobs held by the blind are in selling....
"My resignation from the board of directors of the Georgia Federation and from the vice-presidency of the Atlanta chapter was a tremendous sacrifice. I hope that in the near future Anniston may have its own chapter. ..." Jack C. Lewis, Anniston, Alabama.
"I was pleased to read in the Braille Monitor that the Wisconsin affiliate is taking care of Abed Budair for his education at the University of Damascus. I also note that there is another Jordanian blind boy who needs help for his education at the Bethlehem School for the Blind. I had put aside some money and I would like to give it toward helping this boy. The money amounts to $65. Would you be willing for me to send it to you and could you see that it is placed for his use? If you can help by taking care of this I shall appreciate it very much. Should you include this letter in the Monitor, please do not use my name." ...Milford, Pennsylvania.
"The Houck Foundation has been exploring the possibility of getting blind people started in telephone answering services, and would have initiated such an undertaking somewhere in this area except for the fact that we didn't find any area blind who were interested in such a project. [FFB please note!] Our studies lead us to believe that it would be entirely feasible for couples, one of whom is blind, or for several blind people, to operate such services... My purpose in writing you is with the thought that possibly you would consider this a subject to be a basis for discussion through the medium of the Monitor. In any event the May K. Houck Foundation would welcome letters from your readers telling of any project of this kind already in operation, as well as any constructive suggestions for the Foundation to consider....
"Perhaps it would be of interest to your readers to know that the May K. Houck Foundation, which began offering free motel accomodations to blind people for vacation periods in 1956, has now become so popular that our free facilities have been largely occupied by blind people this season and we are now scheduling into May of this year and have requests for reservations for other months beyond that." Frank W. Moffett, Trustee, May K. Houck Foundation, 1896 Bahia Vista Street, Sarasota, Florida.
"Some of your readers may be interested to learn that the National Association of the Deaf-Blind is now an organization in being. Additional members are being sought. Write to Mr. William Stark, 25 17645 Joy Road, Detroit 28, Michigan--if possible in Braille.
"I should like to thank, on behalf of all the deaf-blind, those states which have allocated contributions of money to Good Cheer, 712 Madison Street, Topeka, Kansas. Thanks also for the Monitor, which keeps us informed of what is going on. We never had such a source before and we are grateful for it." Miss Helen L. Reid, Box 43, Bloomingburg, Ohio.
"The Pontiac League of the Blind has voted to come into the Council as a chapter. Better still, the old MCB chapter is uniting with them. They have sent me a copy of the constitution and made application to the board. It was both a difficult and delicate situation and it took quite a while, but the result is that we will have a good chapter of thirty members in Pontiac. ..." Sandford Allerton, Kalamazoo.. Michigan.
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The Blind Brotherhood of Maryland, Inc., will hold a one-day state convention at the Lord Baltimore Hotel, Baltimore, on Saturday, May 28. A cordial invitation is extended to all the blind throughout the country who can attend.
The December issue of The Lion contains an account of the rehabilitation center in Kerrville, Texas, which operates from September through May. The staff consists of ten, half of them blind. Among recent enrollees have been private secretaries, merchants, an architect, a former county clerk, a department store owner, a doctor, an auditor and a football coach. The long cane technique is taught to all, even to those who plan later to use a guide dog. There were 52 in the orientation course last year and sixty-one this year. The facilities used are those of the Texas Lions Camp for crippled children from all parts of Texas and the camp reverts to this purpose during the three summer months.
The December issue of the International Teamster, a monthly magazine with a 2,000,000 circulation, contains an article by Paul Kirton, pp. 27-29. Paul outlines the problem faced by the organized blind and makes clear that our situation is in many ways analagous to that of organized labor. Among the illustrations are photographs of Paul, of Richard Wilburn (blind research scientist) and of Dr. tenBroek.
The West Virginia Federation of the Blind has just completed a successful raffle which netted $640. The Progressive Blind of Beckley has become the newest chapter (the seventh) in the West Virginia Federation of the Blind. It was organized largely through the efforts of President C.C. Cerone of Wheeling, and Kay Howard of Huntington. Robert Holdren is its first president.
From Performance (published by the President's Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped): "During 1959 a special ad hoc committee on vending stands for the blind continued its efforts to make more effective the provisions of the Randolph-Sheppard Act.... It has been found in the past that in many instances the provisions of the act were not being complied with to the letter... Widespread development of the co-ordinator system in the Federal service also was accomplished during 1959. Originating with a directive issued by the Civil Service Commission, co-ordinators whose duty it is to take the responsibility for the welfare and interests of handicapped workers in the Federal establishment were first set up in every major Federal agency or bureau in Washington, D.C. Subsequently, the co-ordinator system was extended to Federal field establishments in every state and territory. First indications are that this program... has produced big dividends in efficiency and morale."
Some readers may wish to write to Congressman William H. Ayres, House Office Building, Washington, D.C., in support of a bill which would change the present period with respect to service-connected blindness from one to three years after discharge.
The Tucson Daily Citizen reports that there are now eight legally blind students in the University of Arizona, including Jerry Fields, president of the Pima County chapter and secretary of the Arizona Association of the Blind.
The Braille Monitor hails the Rhode Island Federation of the Blind as the latest affiliate to begin publication of a regular newsletter For the present it is a quarterly, titled The Rooster Call, with Elena Landi and Martha Goff as editors. The first issue chronicles the installation of the fifteenth blind-operated vending stand. In proportion to its size, Rhode Island is far ahead of many larger states in this particular respect.
Dates for the 1960 AAWB convention have been changed. The new ones are August 28 to September 2, Saxony Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida.
John Janssen, of South Bend, Indiana, is perhaps the only blind person in the United States actively engaged in officially sponsored pigeon racing. He has participated for fifty years, at least fifteen without sight. He possesses several trophies.
NFB affiliates should be on their guard against two men, by name Wiley Wallace and John T. Davis, who approached the Florida Federation with a fundraising proposal but, it is reported, soon afterward vanished from the scene, leaving an enormous unpaid telephone bill. It would perhaps be a good routine practice to check with the Madison, Wisconsin, office of the NFB concerning any fundraising proposals received from promoters. As the character in the Mikado put it "I have a little list" and I have access to others.
The Oregon Council of the Blind will hold its third annual seminar at the Washington Hotel, Portland, March 26.
The National Federation has just been advised that it will receive a bequest in the amount of $2,000 from the estate of the late Mrs. Florence W. Ailing, New Haven, Connecticut. The estate will also pay the tax on this gift so that the $2,000 will be net.
Contributions of $100 and of $250 from Nebraska and Kentucky respectively did not appear in the final report of the National White Cane Week Committee (January issue) because they were sent directly to the NFB treasurer in Springfield, Illinois, and word of their receipt did not reach the WCW headquarters until the two states called our attention to the omission.
Gregory Khachadoorian, blind member of the Massachusetts legislature, is introducing a bill forbidding discrimination against blind teachers in his state.
In the course of his Budget Message to Congress, President Eisenhower said: "... Public assistance has long been recognized as primarily a responsibility of the state and local governments. ... I am particularly concerned about the growing Federal share, especially because it tends to weaken this sense of state and local responsibility."
The Voice of America has inaugurated a series of broadcasts in the international language, Esperanto. Henry Kruse, secretary of our New Jersey affiliate, has been asked to discuss the life and situation of the blind in this country on one of these programs.
John Nagle has been appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Division of Blind Services in the District of Columbia. In his letter of acceptance John wrote: "...We of the National Federation of the Blind are not only willing but eager to cooperate with agencies for the blind in assisting them to improve their programs of services to the blind. ..."
In the current Eyecatcher (New York), Mary Jane Hills reports on the regional Frampton hearings in Brooklyn at which she represented the ESAB last October. She tells her readers that she filed a minority report on a recommendation which had been adopted, although there were seven votes in opposition. It would authorize the state rehabilitation agencies to farm out additional counseling and placement work to private agencies. "This practice," she writes, "would make the client more of a chattel than ever and would minimize the necessity for the state counselors to do placement work." In his valedictory as ESAB president, Peter Roidl summarizes the achievements of his two-year term with respect to legislation. He writes: "In the legislation field we must never be so naive as to expect quick and easy success, for there is always the strong influence of those working to maintain the status quo in virtually every service for the blind." And from Albany: "Bill Dwyer, president of the Tri-City chapter, has just become president of the Mid-Atlantic Blind Golf Association."... "On November 18-19 seventy blind vending stand operators attended the Merchandising Training Program Workshop in New York City."
From the New Outlook for the Blind: "Hugh Kenneth McCollam was appointed executive secretary of the Connecticut Board of Education of the Blind last November, succeeding Albert N. Sherberg, who resigned earlier last year.... Magnetic tape recordings are now being circulated to 540 readers throughout the United States by a department of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Novels, plays and lectures are among the kinds of material loaned free of charge to persons who own tape machines. Part of the library's commercial record collection has been converted to tape. For lists of titles on tape and additional information, write to the Library for the Blind, 17th and Spring Garden Streets, Philadelphia 30, Pennsylvania.... The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Washington, D.C., is planning to publish a new bimonthly magazine, Rehabilitation Record. Every phase of the rehabilitation program will be dealt with. ... A position is opened for a Braille teacher for the public schools in Brevard County, Florida. Salary and travel allowance. Write William J. McEntee, Director, Pupil Personnel Services, 428 Delamnay Avenue, Cocoa, Florida."
In the same issue Edward J. Waterhouse, director of the Perkins School for the Blind, gives his impressions of "The Miracle Worker," a new Broadway play based on the early life of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. His article is one of the finest and most sensitive bits of writing I have come across in some time.
The Nevada News Bulletin announces the marriage January 26 of Gar Orcutt of Reno, who is well known in Federation circles because of his frequent attendance at national conventions. The maiden name of his bride was not mentioned.
For the benefit of its rather substantial number of blind stock-holders, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company announced on February 9 that this year its annual report will be available in Braille and on Talking Book records. Apply to Mr. S. Whitney Landon, Secretary, American Telephone and Telegraph Company, 195 Broadway, New York, 7, New York.
The current issue of The Eyeopener (Michigan) reports that blood donations from persons suffering from a physical disability, including blindness, are being rejected unless the donor can establish that the cause of the disability did not involve a possibly transmissible condition.
An addition to the growing list of blind disc-jockeys is Bob Greenberg, who is associated with a radio station in Evanston, Illinois, and who solicits his own sponsors.
From Hoosier Star-Light (Indiana): "Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, has become the second hospital in Indiana to purchase and put into use a special new X-ray machine, called X-O-Matic. To operate this very complex piece of equipment which processes X-ray film at a very rapid rate, Methodist Hospital has employed a young blind woman. Hospital authorities are very pleased with her performance to date and have her instructing sighted persons in the operation of the equipment.... Hugh McGuire, counselor, says that a forty-one year-old blind man has been placed in the Indiana State Highway Garage, cleaning and washing motor heads and blocks. The garage superintendent stated that he would like to employ other blind persons who would show the same willingness, desire and ability."
From The Journal of the American Medical Association, December 12, 1959: "A five-year study on screening and diagnosing glaucoma has been launched with the financial support of the National Institute of Health. Techniques currently applied to the detection and identification of glaucoma are now being evaluated at four research centers in this country through grants expected to total approximately $115,000 a year. The grants have been awarded to the Wilmer Institute, Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland; Moffitt Eye Hospital, University of California Medical School, San Francisco; Department of Ophthalmology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, and the Department of Ophthalmology, State University of Iowa, Iowa City. The study has four major aims: (1) To define glaucoma in its earliest clinical stages; (2) to develop methods of detecting glaucoma earlier than present diagnostic methods permit; (3) to understand the relation to measurable eye abnormalities, such as increased ocular tension, to the disease, and (4) to evaluate the efficiency of present diagnostic techniques. Since glaucoma seems to be a disease of families, a large proportion of the persons studied will be the children of glaucoma patients."
"Mr. K.O. Knudson was unanimously selected as vice-chairman of the Nevada Advisory Committee on Services to the Blind. The Advisory Committee also passed a motion enlarging the membership to fifteen.
From From the State Capitols:
Arkansas: Welfare grants for most recipients in Arkansas will be increased $5 a month effective with the March check, according to an announcement by State Welfare Commissioner Carl Adams. The increase would go to aged, blind, disabled and some families in the ADC program. Those drawing old age assistance will be eligible for the boost if they were drawing below a maximum $60 a month. Those within $5 of the $60 limit will receive enough to bring them up to the maximum. This also will apply to the blind.
Delaware: Announcing detailed plans for the creation of a new State Department of Health and Welfare, Delaware Governor Boggs said the new department would merge the state's activities in the fields of public health, welfare and services to the aging. He said it also would assume responsibility for assistance to the blind.
New York: A measure introduced by Senator Henry A. Wise of Watertown and Assemblyman Butler would insure the right of newsmen to inspect records relating to welfare spending anywhere in the state. The sponsors said the legislation is sought by the state society of news-paper editors to resolve an apparent conflict between the state social welfare law and the general municipal law. "The general municipal law," the society said, "supposedly makes all records in the offices of municipal officials open to inspection by any taxpayer. But in some places a section of the social welfare law has been interpreted as denying newsmen access to welfare records that include the names of relief recipients." The proposed legislation would be an amendment to the social welfare law. It would restrict the disclosure of names of relief clients unless they were persons charged with crimes or violations of the welfare laws.
Virginia: An end to minimum residence requirements for public welfare assistance was asked by a committee of the Richmond Area Community Council. The public assistance committee of the Council's family and child welfare division declared in a report that "all who are in need have a right to apply for public aid wherever they are, whenever they might apply." The group said that a Virginia law, requiring an applicant for aid to have been a resident of his locality from one to three years, is unfair, expensive and unnecessary.
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By George Card
From the many inquiries and requests for clarification which my mail contains, it seems evident that there are many thousands of our members who have only the vaguest notion of the scope and operational technique of the greeting card program and of the contractual obligations which are involved. Since the income from this project now supplies the very life blood of our program, at both the national and state levels, it seems highly appropriate at this time to attempt a reasonably complete description. Those who attended the New Orleans convention in 1957 heard a paper prepared by our legal counsel which covered every angle of the project in exhaustive detail, but only a few hundred were present at that convention and it seems important that the entire membership of the Federation should have a better understanding of the subject. This is especially true in view of the sniping and uninformed criticism which has lately emanated from certain disgruntled elements, who apparently would not hesitate to cripple or even destroy this program if they could thereby embarrass the administration.
The members of certain minority groups, such as our own, have found through long and painful experience that they can accomplish little or nothing through individual efforts to improve the situation of their group. Down through the centuries unorganized labor was exploited mercilessly. The blind were pitied, despised and neglected, save for an occasional coin dropped into the tin cup as a sop to a guilty conscience. We have at long last learned that we can make real headway only by organizing and carrying on a vigorous program.
How perfectly lovely it would be if such a program could be conducted without money! But if we could do that, the millenium would already be here and we would not have to bestir ourselves. The millenium is not yet with us and so we have to be realistic, by necessity.
Those who organized the NFB had no illusions on this point. From the first it was fully realized that some method of raising funds would have to be found if we were to make even an effective beginning toward the achievement of our goals. The receipts from membership dues were scarcely sufficient to cover postage and stationery. It has been known for quite some time now that blood cannot be extracted from turnips.
In the early days our leaders did all they could in the way of travel and field work at their own expense, but all of them had to earn livings and all of them had slender purses. Holding a national convention, even on a very small scale, involved a severe financial headache.
At the Des Moines convention in 1942 it was decided to risk our tiny treasury on an experimental solicitation appeal directed to organized labor. It was felt that our situation was so closely parallel to that of the labor movement that union people might be moved to come to our assistance. Miss Edna Schmidt of Milwaukee, totally blind, undertook this work and for the balance of that decade she did a heroic job, traveling alone from one end of the country to the other, addressing union meetings almost nightly--sometimes more than one in a night. For several years her efforts brought in from $16,000 to $18,000 a year and our movement began to pick up momentum. It became possible to send a legislative representative to Washington during a part of each session. There was enough money to pay the travel and maintenance expenses of volunteer organizers and an occasional Federation speaker could be sent to a state convention. We were able to extend some financial help to the All Story Braille Magazine and to take over a section in each issue to keep Braille readers informed of our legislative aims. A few informational bulletins could be sent out from the California office.
At the St. Louis convention in 1946, Ross M. Koen of Madison, Wisconsin, who had been a successful contractor before his own vision failed, offered to put his whole personal fortune on the line if the Federation would put up $1,000 to try out a plan of mail solicitation. The following year he sent out the first large-scale national White Cane Week mailing and was able to persuade a few states to do the same. The results were indecisive but he learned a great deal and began passing on what he had learned in the form of White Cane Week bulletins sent to all state organizations. In 1948 he mailed half a million appeal letters nationally and Wisconsin sent out the same number. Missouri sent out 100,000. Again the returns were not too encouraging but there was a small profit. The real dividend from the 1948 mailing, however, was a splendid contributor list, which has assured a highly dependable annual income ever since. The great advantage of the mail appeal is that it offers an opportunity to get across at least part of our story to the general public each year. But a substantial mailing involves an enormous amount of work and only a few state affiliates have had the necessary manpower. Since 1952 the net returns to the NFB from White Cane Week has varied between $20,000 and $27,000 a year.
But by that time Edna Schmidt had found that her strength was no longer equal to the gruelling and exhausting field work she had been doing for so long. After she ceased to travel, she continued labor solicitations by mail but the returns inevitably dwindled until at last they amounted to only a few hundred dollars a year.
During our first dozen years of national existence we were approached by innumerable promoters, each of whom had a wonderful plan to offer us. But every one of them proposed that we risk our own money. Then, in 1952, came a quite different proposal. A small business group in St. Louis offered to finance an experimental approval mailing of greeting cards on our behalf. We were to put up no money and to assume no risks. Our profit was to come "off the top" and we would receive it regardless of whether the mailing contractor made a profit for himself or lost money.
Dr. tenBroek polled the executive committee and the vote was in favor of sponsoring a small mailing to see what would happen. That first mailing went out in the spring of 1953. At the Milwaukee convention that year it was decided that whatever was received from this source should be divided into two equal parts, half to be distributed equally to the state organizations and the other half to be devoted to the support of our program at the national level.
That first mailing brought in enough so that each state received a check for $200. For some of them this was the most money they had ever had in their treasuries at one time. But there was no profit for the mailing contractors and they were naturally quite hesitant about continuing the program. One of them, however, Mr. Bernard Gerchen, after considerable soul-searching, finally decided to risk another mailing on his own. Again the returns to us were sufficient for each state to receive another $200 and this time the contractor almost broke even. The second mailing, of course, had had the benefit of the purchaser list which had resulted from the first one. Mr. Gerchen and his associates were sufficiently encouraged by the improvement so they felt justified in risking a substantial sum on a much larger mailing in the spring of 1954.
By that time we had hammered out a five-year contract. Under its terms the Federation would receive fifteen cents on each box sold regardless of whether the mailing as a whole resulted in any profit to the mailing contractor. This was later raised to eighteen cents a box. The basic terms of the contract were, and remain, as follows:
1. We write or approve all of the literature.
2. We designate states into which the merchandise is mailed.
3. We receive and process the monies sent by the public.
4. We retain all donations contributed by the public.
5. We approve the merchandise.
6. We are assured of a profit on every sale.
7. We risk none of the Federation's money.
Other important elements of the contract were and are that Federated Industries (mailing contractor) agreed not to undertake any fundraising campaign for any other organization of or for the blind or for any agency purporting to serve the blind. The Federation agreed not to employ any other fundraiser and not itself to engage in any form of mail appeal other than as part of White Cane Week. The Federation was guaranteed a minimum annual profit.
Beginning in 1953, two mailings have been made each year, each consisting of from 500,000 to 600,000 units. In the fall season Christmas cards are offered. In the spring an all-occasion assortment is sent out. Since there are more than 50 million families in the United States, only one family out of 100 receives a box of our greeting cards. This makes it impossible that any local merchant or salesman can be hurt. Before each mailing is begun, the assortment to be sent out is appraised by disinterested experts to make certain that the public is offered full value for its money.
We feel strongly that our greeting card program is eminently fair to the general public because it offers an item which is in general demand and which would be purchased from some other source if we did not supply it. Many of us feel that merchandising has distinct advantages over outright solicitation. When one sends in a contribution in response to a charitable appeal, he can never be sure that even one penny of his dollar will be used for the purposes for which he contributed it. This is inescapably true because it is always possible that the cost of the mailing may entirely eat up the receipts. But the purchaser of a box of our greeting cards can be absolutely sure that we receive our stipulated profit. And he can be sure, also, that he is getting a fair value for his money.
Some idea of what the greeting card program has meant to the Federation can be derived from the following figures. Since the inception of the program, we have received a net total of $773,322.51 through December 31, 1959. Each state which has been in the program since the beginning will have received approximately $9,827.00. It is certainly not necessary at this time to dwell on the enormous impetus which the receipt of this money has given to our total program.
Mr. Bernard Gerchen, the moving spirit of Federated Industries, has been anything but a typical, grasping, greedy promoter. He has become deeply interested in our activities and completely imbued with our philosophy. Almost from the first our relations with him have been on a warm, human basis. In 1954, after only a few months acquaintance with us and with our problems, he made a special trip to England, entirely at his own expense, to investigate at first hand the manner in which the British meet the problems of the multiple-handicapped blind child. He spent almost a week at Condover Hall, where these children are trained and educated under ideal conditions and by a truly consecrated group of teachers. He became convinced that the United Kingdom is the only country which has met its responsibility in this particular area. He returned full of enthusiasm for a pilot project comparable to Condover Hall to be established in the United States and sponsored by the NFB.
Mr. Gerchen has become so completely identified with the Federation--even to the point of emotional involvement --that he follows every development with the keenest interest and the deepest concern. He has made several trips to California to consult with our chief during emergencies. Several years ago he made a personal contribution of $1,000 in order to increase the size of the scholarships offered that year by the Wisconsin Council of the Blind. He has done many other things for us which he refuses to have publicized.
Some of our people have been disturbed over the fact that our greeting card program has been consistently condemned by Better Business Bureaus and similar groups. It should be kept in mind, however, that the support of these groups comes almost exclusively from retail merchants. In order to protect this group, these business organizations are relentlessly hostile to all projects involving approval or "unordered" merchandise. We began by supplying the BBB with a detailed financial statement but discontinued this when we realized that our figures were being twisted in order to convey an entirely misleading picture to the public. Reports of our fundraising were interspersed by slurring comments designed to cast doubt on both our integrity and our veracity.
There has been only one incident in the history of our Greeting Card mailings which, for a time, threatened to result in its discontinuance. The traditional enemies of the Federation and its philosophy took an active part in a postal investigation which was launched against Federated Industries and the National Federation. The Post Office De- partment spent many months in tracking down many allegations, accusations, distortions and outright lies made about the Federation by those who would like to see the National Federation destroyed. In the end truth prevailed. An examination, on the Washington level, of the mailing contract, the literature and the books and records of Federated Industries and the National Federation revealed nothing improper. Minor changes were made in some of the literature and in the contract and the case was closed.
One other extremely important asset in this mailing campaign deserves to be mentioned. The public education and public relation benefit that is derived from this mailing campaign is of the highest importance to the National Federation and all of the affiliates. Along with the sales letter each box of Greeting Cards contains additional literature telling about the Federation's work, its aims, its goals and philosophy. An example of how this benefits the Federation as well as the public is the fact that many teachers have written in asking for additional "Braille rulers" and also for additional copies of the "Stop, He's on His Way" folder which gives the ten rules of courtesy.
In conclusion, we are proud of our Greeting Card mailing and of our mailing contractor. Prospects appear bright for the continued success of our joint project.
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By Floyd Matson
A Western Advisory Committee, representing eleven coastal and Rocky Mountain states plus Alaska and Hawaii, was formed early in February for the purpose of furnishing counsel to the Elliott subcommittee in its program of hearings and workshops. Among those named to the new committee was our own president, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek. Participating in the February 5-6 meeting of the Advisory Committee in San Francisco were from two to four representatives from each of the thirteen states, including professional workers in the areas of rehabilitation and special education as well as a number of academic specialists from universities offering programs in these fields.
In the course of the meeting, the Western Advisory Committee completed plans for a regional subdivision of its thirteen-state territory for purposes of conducting three workshop sessions. The first, to be held in Denver on March 31 and April 1, will bring together representatives from the five Rocky Mountain states (New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Montana). A second workshop for the northwest area--comprising Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska--will convene in Portland on April 8-9. The third workshop, including the states of Arizona, Nevada, California and Hawaii, will meet in San Francisco on March 28 and 29.
The workshops will then report their findings at public hearings of the Elliott Committee in Portland on April 11-12 and in Los Angeles on April 13-14.
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by Floyd Matson
Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, long-time president of the National Federation of the Blind, was recently reappointed by California Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown to a four-year term as a member of the State Board of Social Welfare.
tenBroek's reappointment, which at this writing awaits official confirmation by the State Senate, comes at the conclusion of a decade of continuous service with the Social Welfare Board, following his original appointment by Governor Earl Warren in 1950. He was subsequently reappointed twice, both by Governor Warren and by his successor, Governor Goodwin Knight, and on each occasion was confirmed by the State Senate. During much of his career on the Board, tenBroek served as chairman of its policy committee.
The California Board of Social Welfare is empowered to formulate the rules and regulations governing the state's public welfare programs--representing an over-all expenditure of half a billion dollars annually--and to act as an appeals board for aggrieved recipients of welfare services.
The reappointment of the NFB's president to the Social Welfare Board was made by Governor Brown despite bitter opposition from a single source--the California Association for the Blind. Strong support for his reappointment came from a wide variety of groups and individuals throughout the state.
Shortly following his reappointment, tenBroek was elected chairman of the Board of Social Welfare by his fellow members at a meeting of the group held February 26.
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