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.
SEPTEMBER ISSUE 1960
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in Braille and distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind, 329 Insurance Exchange Building, Des Moines 9, Iowa.
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: KENNETH JERNIGAN, 329 Insurance Exchange Building, Des Moines 9, Iowa.
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)
Suspension of State Affiliates Reviewed
by Jacobus tenBroek
Convention Aftermath: Notes on Minority Agitation
Welcome Home, Isabelle
by Russell Kletzing
1960 BVA Convention
by John Nagle
Federation Staff and Administrative Changes
by Jacobus tenBroek
From the Cyril White Diary
The Helpless Blind
Here and There
From Our Readers
NFB Wins Major Legislative Victory
This issue of the Monitor was prepared at the Berkeley office of the NFB. This issue was held up to include an article on national legislative developments in the short session of Congress.
by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek
President, National Federation of the Blind
The decision of the 1960 NFB convention to suspend six state affiliates for "activities detrimental to the purposes, nature and continued existence" of the Federation was reviewed in some detail in the August Braille Monitor. Despite this factual report, however, systematic efforts have been set in motion in various quarters to misrepresent the character and import of this decision democratically adopted by over-whelming vote of the national convention.
Perhaps the most widely circulated of these misrepresentations is the charge that grounds for the suspension were never given and are still unknown--and therefore that no such grounds exist. A related misrepresentation is that the convention's action bore the character of a criminal prosecution for past crimes, rather than what it was in fact: a corrective measure designed to save the Federation from future ruin. Still a third misrepresentation stems from the resolution adopted by the convention that the suspended states be notified "immediately" by the executive committee of the steps necessary for their readmission to membership in good standing. Let us look more closely at each of these nnisrepresentations.
The answer to the first of the charges (and indirectly to the second as well) is, of course, that the grounds for suspension were not only set forth categorically and at length when the motions were presented, but that they have in fact been thoroughly familiar to Federationists for the past three years. They have been reviewed, discussed and debated at three national conventions; in the pages of the Braille Monitor and the Free Press, in bulletins and circulars, in public gatherings and semi-public correspondence--indeed, virtually wherever and whenever Federationists have come together. Nevertheless, in order to clear up genuine misunderstandings as well as to refute willful distortions, it may be well to repeat the main points of the statement which I made to the convention in introducing the motion to suspend five states.
Through calculated activities on various fronts, these states have critically endangered our vital source of fundraising; they have opposed our basic legislative programs , and thus have jeopardized our warmest relationships in and with Congress; they have obstructed and fought against our organizational efforts within the states themselves; they have plotted assiduously to impugn the reputations of our elected officers and to block their appointments to positions in public service, and they have cast suspicion upon our integrity and fundamental purposes as an organization of the blind. They have done these things deliberately, actively, and vigorously. Moreover, they have formed the spearhead of a permanent hostile organization within the National Federation, the so-called "Free Press Association," openly dedicated to a policy of rule or ruin. All six states have contributed through specific actions and concerted agitation to the condition of alarming instability which has come to characterize our organization in the eyes of growing numbers of friends, foes, and the public alike. The harm which has already been done to the Federation and its cause is incalculable. The harm which would be done in the future if this condition were permitted to continue is, however, not incalculable: it would, quite simply, be fatal.
The facts are, in general, well known and thoroughly hashed over. What is of immediate and primary concern to us all is that the opposition to Federation policies and programs carried on consistently outside the organization brought the movement of the organized blind to the brink of ruin. At the same time it demonstrated the willful refusal of a rebellious minority to abide by the will of the majority as democratically determined and decided. In short, our concern is not merely with particular actions, but with the motives and purposes of those actions--and most of all with their practical consequences.
This brings us to the second deliberate misrepresentation mentioned above--which seeks to portray the action of the convention as a kind of criminal prosecution for past offenses rather than as a preventive measure designed to rescue the organization from destruction in the future. The decision of the delegates was not to expel, but to suspend, the six states. The intent of the convention was not to punish a dissident few, but to preserve the Federation as an effective instrument of the vast majority. The suspension, in each and every case, can be swiftly and easily lifted. Nothing more is required for full reinstatement of an affiliate than a demonstration of good faith, made in good faith--a promise to cease the conduct of activities plainly detrimental to the purposes, policies and very survival of the Federation--and a proof of willingness to accept the normal and minimal responsibilities of membership in any democratic society. The foremost of these responsibilities is, of course, the agreement to abide by and to support objectives and programs reflective of the majority will. Any individuals or groups who decline to accept these elennentary and essential obligations of democratic life may freely depart from our ranks; their presence is patently in contradiction to the conditions of active work and continued existence of the National Federation of the Blind.
The third misrepresentation referred to above, which finds refuge in the word "immediately" contained in the resolution of notification to the suspended states, is merely a harassment. Literally interpreted, immediate action would have required the executive committee to leave the convention floor as soon as the resolution was passed, and then and there to start issuing conditions in writing--without deliberation, preparation, or consultation. Since "immediate" could not in this context mean "then and there," what does it mean? Surely it means that the executive committee will proceed in this matter as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances and with the object in view. It means, to adopt a phrase of the United States Supreme Court in a famous decision, to proceed "with all deliberate speed."
Accordingly, the executive committee has proceeded as fast as it reasonably can. It has directed the appointment of a subcommittee. That subcommittee has been appointed and is at work preparing a draft proposal, to be circulated to the members of the full committee when the work is completed. At that tinne the affected states will be notified of the conditions under which reinstatement will be granted. It is perfectly clear, of course, that much of the demand for instantaneous release of the notification is spurious, and that it is part of an effort to pave the way for disaffiliation regardless of the grounds presented or their validity.
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The decisive protective measures adopted by the National Federation at its Miami convention, centering upon the suspension of six state affiliates, began last month to have predictable repercussions--notably among those suspended. The possibility of disaffiliation from the NFB was a subject of discussion in the conventions of two states (Georgia and Idaho) and the executive board meeting of a third (Louisiana). Meanwhile, a concerted move toward disaffiliation on the part of the minority McDaniel faction was presaged by the announced plan of the "Free Press" group to meet at Nashville, Tennessee, early in September for the purpose of forming a separate organization in competition with the NFB.
The Georgia convention, held in Atlanta August 5 and 6, was characterized throughout by the calculated attempt of its president, Walter McDonald, and his followers to discredit the fundraising and legislative programs of the National Federation, to distort the actions of the Miami convention, and to pave the way for Georgia's eventual disaffiliation or expulsion. The sole guest speaker at the convention banquet was David Krause, deposed NFB executive committeeman and McDaniel factionist, who loosed an embittered tirade against the Federation and all its recent works (including specifically his own election defeat). No representative of the NFB itself had been invited to the convention; our first vice president, John Taylor, nevertheless attended and took part in program discussions, but was denied an opportunity at the banquet to reply to Krause's sweeping accusations against himself and other national officers. When a Georgia member rose to protest that only one side had been heard and that Taylor should be permitted to present the other. President McDonald refused the request and adjourned the banquet.
On its second day the convention was devoted almost exclusively to a succession of organized attacks on the NFB by Walter McDonald and various members of the Georgia delegation to the Miami convention. Although he was forced to ask for it, John Taylor was finally granted a period of six minutes to answer the charges against the Federation and its officers which had marked the entire discussion. Despite some heckling during his presentation, when Taylor's few minutes had expired there was considerable demand that he be given more time; this demand also was ignored by the president. A Georgia member not associated with the McDonald group, Elmer Estes, then requested the floor but was countered by efforts to prevent him from speaking. After protests from numerous members, the president granted Estes three minutes in which to counteract the lengthy discussion which had preceded him. Estes urged the appointment of a committee to work out the terms of Georgia's reinstatennent with the National Federation; but this effort toward reconciliation was abruptly rejected by the leadership, which thereby made clear its complete disinclination to comply with the terms of readmission indicated earlier by the NFB convention.
Among the pertinent resolutions adopted, with virtually no discussion, by the Georgia convention was one which announced the forth-coming meeting of the "Free Press" faction in Nashville and authorized President McDonald to appoint a three-member committee to attend the conclave empowered to arrange affiliation with the new group. Although a plainly audible chorus of "no's" prevented the chairman from forcing this resolution through unanimously, it was ruled that only a single "no" had been heard. Another resolution called for implementation of the NFB's convention motion that the suspended states be notified of the conditions for their readmission. In a further resolution the convention bitterly opposed the NFB's greeting card program and included the text of an advertisement which it said will be inserted in all Georgia news-papers if NFB greeting cards continue to be mailed into the state. According to the resolution, the ad will include a statement that no part of the funds received benefit the blind of Georgia. A related resolution commended Walter McDonald for his leadership and authorized him and the executive board to take steps to raise funds for the organization.
The following list of names was submitted to the convention by the nominating committee for election: President, Walter McDonald; first vice president, Jerry Pye; second vice president, Ned Freeman; third vice president, Roy Bradley; secretary, Larry Carpenter ; treasurer, Mary Sue Phillips; two-year member of the executive committee, Mrs. Faye Glass; three-year member of the executive committee, Ed Starr. In reporting the name of Faye Glass, the nominating committee stated that the position held by Inez Steele had been declared vacant because she had not attended meetings and was presumed to have resigned. Inez Steele had been elected to the executive committee the previous year from the floor, in opposition to the McDonald slate. At this point Miss Steele, who was in attendance, warmly denied having ever resigned her office, observing that she had attended one executive committee meeting but had never received notice of others. In the face of protests against its high-handed tactic, the nominating committee relented and Miss Steele was permitted to remain in her elective post on the executive committee. Thereafter the entire slate was elected by acclamation.
In another important action, the Georgia convention adopted a motion to contribute $300 to the Braille Free Press. In discussion of the motion, David Krause stated that on July 23 the Oklahoma Federation had contributed $500 to the Free Press.
In the course of convention discussions, Walter McDonald broadened his diatribe against the NFB to include both its campaign for the right-to-organize bill and the state surveys which it has conducted with marked success over recent years. Although these attacks and other actions of the convention make clear the fundamental opposition of the Georgia leadership to the paramount objectives and programs of the NFB, the ruling group also maintained that its intention was not immediately to disaffiliate voluntarily.
Idaho Rejects Anti-Federation Move.
The annual convention of the Gem State Blind (the NFB's Idaho affiliate) was held at the Hotel Boise in Boise, Idaho, from Thursday, August 11, through Sunday, August 14. Shortly before the convention Frank Collins, a member of the McDaniel faction within the NFB, had submitted his resignation as president of the Gem State Blind. His letter of resignation indicated that he had taken this action because of his affiliation with the McDaniel faction, and closed with the significant sentence: "I cannot lead a group that is not with me." In view of Collins' resignation, Uldine Gartin, first vice president of the state organization and its delegate to the NFB convention, was selected to fill the unexpired term as president of the Gem State Blind.
The Idaho convention voted without dissent to continue its affiliation with the National Federation. The convention was informed that the Idaho Falls chapter, run by Frank and Mary Collins, had voted 16-6 to disaffiliate with the Gem State Blind if it should not dissolve its affiliation with the NFB. Both the Collins letter of resignation and the Collins notification of his chapter's withdrawal were read to the convention. The delegates also heard a full report on the NFB's Miami convention from Miss Gartin.
Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, president of the NFB, was the principal banquet speaker of the state convention, and also presented a report on the national convention covering the reasons for the suspension of six state affiliates as well as other matters. The Idaho convention attendance was better than in many years, with a near-record 100 members present at the banquet. Among other actions, the delegates amended the Gem State Blind by-laws to admit individual mennbers from all over the state.
Louisiana Board Votes to Disaffiliate.
The executive board of the suspended Louisiana Federation of the Blind, meeting in Alexandria on August 9, voted its approval of a so-called "set of principles" climaxed by a call for surrender of the LFB's charter of affiliation with the National Federation. The motion to disaffiliate has since been circulated to state chapters for the necessary ratification.
Reports from the meeting indicate that the actions of the board were thoroughly prepared and controlled by the ruling group of Ufemon Segura, L.E. Roy, and Dr. Gordon W. Slemons. The board was informed by Segura that an "interim committee" made up of the leaders of the six suspended state affiliates had already been organized and a chairman elected, although the identity of the latter was not divulged to the members.
Free Press "Convention" Barred to NFB President.
The following telegram was sent on August 10, 1960, by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, NFB president, to Floyd Quails, president of the Braille Free Press Association:
President, Braille Free Press Association
3111 North 7th Street
Am informed that the Free Press Association, has called a meeting of various NFB affiliates and others at Nashville, Tennessee, on Labor Day weekend. Will I, as president of NFB, or my representative be permitted to attend this meeting? Will I or my representative be permitted to tape record the proceedings as Free Press people were allowed to tape proceedings at Miami and other NFB conventions?
Jacobus tenBroek, President
National Federation of the Blind"
Some two weeks later, Dr. tenBroek received a letter (dated August 22) from Mr. Quails answering both questions in the negative.
Though the leaders of the Free Press Association describe their group as consisting of federationists interested, as they say, in "reforming" the Federation, the president of the Federation, acting in his official capacity, was denied permission to attend the Nashville gathering.
The Labor Day gathering of the Free Press faction was described by President Quails as a "membership meeting" open only to registered factionalists, from which all outsiders (and their tape recorders) are to be barred. Once more the irony of that curious title, "Free Press Association," has been exposed. Although the National Federation of the Blind--against whose alleged "tyranny" and supression of speech the McDaniel faction has ranged itself--has always held open conventions freely attended and recorded by all factions, the "Free Press Association" prefers to retain the familiar character of a closed and secret society.
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by Russell Kletzing
Monitor readers will remember the exciting, thought-provoking accounts of her activities that Dr. Isabelle Grant has sent back to us from all parts of the world--from Syria, from Egypt, from Pakistan, from the Philippines, and many more places. These were completed in the course of a year's sabbatical leave from her Los Angeles resource teacher's job, which started out as a study of work for the blind and ended up with Isabelle working with teachers and top educators all over the Far and Middle East. But Isabelle is back home--and very welcome indeed.
The California Council welcomed Isabelle back last month in two of the most outstanding events that I have ever attended. The Los Angeles County Club of Adult Blind, led by President Tony Mannino, held an evening reception and President Onvia Ticer of the Alameda County Chapter (Oakland) sponsored an afternoon tea. Both events were immensely successful, with more than 550 attending.
Dr. Grant, who is a member of the board of directors of the California Council and also of the NFB, told of her fascinating experiences and of the work she accomplished. She helped form the Pakistan Federation of the Blind. She gave four or five different courses and seminars for those teaching blind children in Pakistan, India, and the Philippines. She did things that even she had not dreamt of when she started.
Her adventures were nothing short of incredible. She traveled alone with only a suitcase, a white cane, a portable brailler, and a tiny "sky-writer" portable typewriter. These last she carried in order to keep under the 44 pound luggage limit on the planes. Her travels took her to the Taj Mahal, to the blind beggars colony of Karachi where she had tea with the group's leader, with ants running across her ankles; to fabulous ruins in Siam; and to the room where Anna and the King worked.
Dr. Grant's work is not done, however--it is only beginning. Support from us in the Federation can bring new hope to the blind of under-developed countries all over the world where she has visited. Within the next few weeks, many of you will be contacted to make arrangements to send your Braille Monitor to somebody with a similar occupation in Asia. As a tribute to the valuable work she has done and in order to throw the weight of the Federation behind her further work. Dr. Grant was unanimously elected to the board of directors of the Federation at Miami. The board of directors is the Federation's advisory body, composed of the executive committee plus three additional elective positions.
I would like to repeat one short story that Isabelle tells on herself. Her first class of teachers in Karachi contained four or five who were blind. One morning she found the following braille note: "You said yesterday that blind have no sex sense. I am blind and I have plenty sex." Of course, what Isabelle had been discussing was the sixth sense! In Isabelle's case, it may not be a sixth sense on her part that made her trip so successful, but there is certainly a warmth and ability to understand people that gives her a free entree to their hearts, hopes, and dreams.
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by John Nagle
"Beware of the lovers of the blind who would give you gifts," declared Father Thomas J. Carroll, National Chaplain of the Blinded Veterans Association, during the organization's fifteenth annual convention held August 3-6 at the Somerset Hotel, Boston--scene of the 1958 NFB convention. Father Carroll, founder of the St. Paul's Rehabilitation Center, Newton, Massachusetts, and well known for his other services to the blind of New England and of the nation, warned his audience of more than 200 blinded veterans against those who, presumably motivated by a spirit of kindness, would take from them their hard-won independence and self-respect.
Another feature of the convention was a panel discussion on the subject: "The Impact of the Blinded Veterans on Rehabilitation and Social Welfare." The discussion, moderated by Miss Kathryn Gruber of the American Foundation for the Blind, featured the following panelists: Allen W. Sherman of the New York Association for the Blind; H. Dwight York of the Veterans Administration; C. Warren Bledsoe of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (whose paper was read in his absence); Walter S. Stromer of Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa; Chester Perkins, Indianapolis, Indiana, and John F. Nagle of the NFB's Washington office.
The panelists presented differing views with regard to the effects the blinded veterans have had in the fields of rehabilitation and social welfare, both as to the services provided all disabled persons, but particularly in the field of work for the blind. However, all panel members were agreed that the government compensation granted blinded veterans had not destroyed their incentive or initiative, their will to work, or desire to participate in competitive society--conclusively refuting social welfare concepts dating far back into Elizabethan history. Rather, with adequate minimum financial security assured, the blinded veterans have been able "to take the time needed to survey the situation, to explore and inquire, to examine and experiment. ..."
Nagle concluded his prepared statement with the questions: "Why have the blinded veterans failed to identify themselves with the civilian blind? Why have they failed to join with the civilian blind in their efforts to improve the services provided to all blind persons, to increase employment opportunities for all blind persons--to participate as an integral part of a comnnon assault on the prejudices and misconceptions about blindness and blind people--not just civilian blind people, but all blind people? "
During the course of the annual business meeting, several resolutions were adopted establishing policy for future action by the BVA; the organization's by-laws were carefully considered and changes in them were made; and the city of Los Angeles was selected as the site for the 1961 BVA convention.
The following persons were elected to office for the ensuing term: President, Melvin J. Maas; vice president, William Hughes; secretary, Carl Bacon; treasurer, Durham D. Hail; judge advocate, Harrison Gilpin; chaplain, Father Thomas Carroll; sergeant-at-arms, James Butler; board members, George M. Gillespie and Kenneth C. Clark.
The convention concluded with a banquet, during which two blinded veterans were given highest achievement certificates and cash awards. Those honored were Dr. Walter Stromer, assistant professor and head of the speech department at Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa, and Kenneth C. Clark, social case worker with the Traveler's Aid in Miami, Florida.
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by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek
President, National Federation of the Blind
In discharging my constitutional duties as principal administrative officer of the Federation, and particularly in carrying out my specific constitutional functions in connection with Federation staff, I have reached a number of decisions touching upon the status, work assignments and headquarters location of various staff members. These have already been communicated to the staff members concerned and are herewith announced to Federationists generally.
1. The first of these decisions relates to George Card. Despite a seriously deteriorating health condition over several years, which he has been too proud to reveal in its full extent even to friends, George carried on a schedule of work which would sap the energies of three ordinary men. For some time he served simultaneously as the Federation's finance director, in full charge of the handling of our greeting card mail; as editor of the Braille Monitor; as chairman of White Cane Week; as the NFB's representative on the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind; as a member of our Endowment Fund Committee, and as a roving ambassador and organizer for the Federation. During the past two or three years, however, his physical condition has become greatly weakened; he has had to combat, among other things, partial paralysis and recurrent illness. Understandably and unavoidably, these factors have limited his productivity and affected both his work and his relationships. This has been particularly true in recent months, as medical reports and his own statements have revealed additional deterioration. As a consequence of these factors, George was released some time ago from those of his assignments requiring arduous travel and organizing; moreover, beginning last January, I began to take over a large part of the editorial obligations of the Monitor. It has now become mandatory to relieve George still further of the heavy work-load he has borne.
Accordingly, George has been placed on semi-retirement and released from certain of his more burdensome duties. So long as he is able and willing to do so, he will continue to carry on his regular functions as chairman of White Cane Week, as Federation representative on the World Council, and as a member of the Endowment Fund Committee. These assignments may be augmented or lightened as his health and effectiveness, and the welfare of the organization, require.
2. The greeting card reception point has been shifted from Madison, Wisconsin, to Des Moines, Iowa. Arrangements have been completed and a contract entered into with a Des Moines bank to manage the entire operation of receiving, opening and processing the greeting card mail. The terms of the contract are extremely favorable from our viewpoint, by comparison either with the Federation's own past operations or with those of other fund-raising organizations. It is anticipated that an annual savings of several thousands of dollars, at least, will be effected by this improvement in our operations. Neither Federation officers nor staff will have any contact with the money. All greeting card mail will be claimed by the bank at the Des Moines post office; the Federation will not have access even to the locked box.
The contract has been entered into between the National Federation and the bank. Federated Industries, our fundraiser, has agreed to be bound by the provisions of the contract, and has moreover agreed that when and if questions arise concerning the processing of the mail, the bank is to refer them solely to the NFB for decision, with Federated Industries accepting the decision as binding. Under the arrangement completed, the bank may not cancel the contract or increase charges under it without at least 12 months' notice to the Federation; while, on the other hand, we retain the right to cancel on 30 days' notice.
Mail will be processed by the bank only in a special chamber set aside for that exclusive purpose. Only persons properly bonded will come into contact with it, and at least two such persons will be present at all times during the processing. In short, the greeting card operation will be placed permanently on a business-like, professional basis.
All letters received in the greeting card mail related to programs and problems of the blind will be forwarded by the bank to our first vice president, John Taylor.
3. A Federation Central States Office has been established in Des Moines, under the direction of the first vice president. The address is 329 Insurance Exchange Building, Des Moines 9.
4. In connection with this move, Paul Kirton has been transferred from Madison to the new Central States Office in Des Moines, where he will work under the supervision of first vice president John Taylor.
5. At the same time, the Braille Monitor has been placed under new editorship. We are fortunate that Kenneth Jernigan has consented to undertake this function on a volunteer basis. The September (and possibly the October) issues of the Monitor will again be prepared in the Federation's Berkeley headquarters, but as soon as possible the new editor will take over this responsibility. Therefore all items or material intended for the Monitor should be sent in future to Mr. Jernigan at 329 Insurance Exchange Building, Des Moines 9, Iowa.
All changes of address, additions to or deletions from the Braille or ink print mailing list should be sent to the Berkeley headquarters, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California.
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(Editor's note: Mr. White, who is president of the Dominion Association of the Blind, New Zealand, attended the Rome meeting of the World Council last summer and then continued on around the world, visiting England, Canada, the United States, Hawaii, and finally returning to his home in Auckland. Readers may remember the account of his week in Wisconsin (where he and his wife were guests of George Card) and his stopover in San Francisco, where he met Dr. tenBroek. His 32-page report to his organization and to the New Zealand governmental agency makes very interesting reading. Here are excerpts dealing with the United States and Canada.)
"...In Boston I called at a very good supply house of pianoforte tuning tools and equipment, where I obtained a few samples of American tools which are far superior to those we get from England.... We spent 3 days at Perkins School for the Blind. This is one of the largest and one of the best schools for the blind in the world and is richly endowed.... It has a number of special programs and any person going overseas to study the education of blind children should certainly go to Perkins. Their deaf-blind program is one of the largest and best in the world and uses every kind of modern aid, including a cunningly contrived floor which vibrates for teaching deaf-blind students to dance. They have the largest reference library of its kind in the world with more than 13,000 separate items indexed. ...Braille, typing and music are recognized as fundamental to the proper education of the blind and tuition in these subjects is of a very high standard. This is true in all the schools I visited in the United States and Canada... Associated with the Perkins School is the Howe Printing Press, where the famous Perkins upward Braillewriter was designed and is manufactured. This is undoubtedly the best Braillewriter in the world at present.... An outstanding feature is that the operator's individual pressure on the keys has no bearing on the strength of the dots. Each key merely activates its own stylus and then another mechanism takes over and applies the correct pressure... Thus the dots are perfectly even and of a very satisfactory size.... Orders are pouring in from all parts of the world and are filled in strict rotation. ..."
Next came Toronto and an intensive investigation of the activities of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. The Whites also met representatives of both the Canadian Council of the Blind and the Canadian Federation of the Blind. From Toronto they flew directly to Madison, Wisconsin; their visit there was described in an earlier issue.
"...We addressed several groups of blind people in Wisconsin and had our best look at the vending stand program. I visited several of these stands and even spent a couple of hours or so serving behind the counter at one of them. My wife has a movie film showing the operation of this particular stand and I made a tape recording of the banter which takes place between the very congenial proprietor, Jimmy Sletten, and his many customers. This is one of the best examples I have seen of a stand which is independently owned and operated by a totally blind man, with the assistance of a partially sighted partner....
"At San Francisco our time was as fully and as profitably occupied as it was everywhere else on the tour. There we spent a most enjoyable Sunday with Dr. and Mrs. Jacobus tenBroek. Dr. tenBroek has been the great leader of the National Federation of the Blind of America since its inception about 20 years ago. Educated as a totally blind person, he is now head of a large faculty of professors at the famous University of California, in Berkeley. He is an author of world repute. His latest book, 'Hope Deferred,' is a most valuable treatise on public welfare and its application to the blind. A renowned orator and debater, a veritable giant--both in physique and in intellect--Dr. tenBroek is an outstanding figure in the United States, not only among the blind but among the sighted as well.... This great man found time to travel more than 50 miles to take us to his home, where we spent the day talking with him and with a placement officer.... Another interesting day was spent at the Oakland Orientation Center for the Blind, under the very able leadership of Mr. Allan Jenkins, another totally blind, highly qualified and very versatile personality. This center is undoubtedly among the best of its kind in the world. In addition to the usual courses in Braille, typing, social adjustment, home economics, handcrafts, etc., an outstanding feature at the Center is sewing with power machines. My wife and I saw a totally blind girl fit and sew a collar and 2 darts to a frock, unaided. This is a difficult and advanced operation even for a person with sight, but she performed it with remarkable skill and deftness. Mr. Jenkins is a keen exponent and advocate of the 'Long Cane Technique' for traveling, which he explained and demonstrated to me in great detail. He is also an audio and electronics engineer, a keen boatman and an enthusiastic member of the National Federation of the Blind....
"We spent one day at Honolulu on the last stage of our homeward journey. We met Mrs. Vivien Castro (sighted), head of services to the blind, and had lunch with her at the Willows, a charming restaurant in a typical Hawaiian setting. In the afternoon we met Miss Eva Smyth, totally blind, who had retired after teaching 40 years at the Diamond Head School for the Blind. She now spends her time and energy organizing a Hawaiian affiliate for the U.S. National Federation of the Blind, and acting as advisor to the various agencies working for the blind. Last year the Lions' Organization honored her by making her the First Lady of Hawaii for 1959. In the Chief Post Office and at the International Airport we again saw very good examples of the vending stand program. There are about 24 of these stands throughout the 8 islands of Hawaii, and the one at the airport, which is open for 24 hours daily, provides a very good living for 5 blind men and their families.
"On November 17th a long, hard day's flying brought us back to Auckland, with the feeling that we had made pretty good use of the 126 days of our tour.... Without the help of Alice's eyes and her keen powers of observation, however, I could not have done more than a fraction of what has been mentioned in this report."
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From The Courser Mail, Brisbane, Australia:
"Bob Aland of Wooloowin, a 29-year-old blinded ex-motor mechanic, will demonstrate before crowds this week his skill in 'surface recognition.' In the 12 months since a retinal hemorrhage robbed him at once of his sight and his career, Aland has learned Braille and touch-typing and gained a job with a toolmaking firm.... Aland will take part in the annual display by engineering students of the University of Queensland. He has been acquiring the ability to recognize and measure texture and dimensions of metal surfaces, work which has hitherto been done only by delicate and expensive machines. 'Surface recognition,' his instructor says, 'is a relatively new idea. I know of no other attempt anywhere in the world to train blind persons for this skill.'..."
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Here is the list of conventions scheduled during October by our state affiliates: Alabama, at the Cawthorne Hotel, Mobile, October 15-16; Arkansas, Lafayette Hotel, Little Rock, October 14-16; Illinois, Hotel Pere Marquette, Peoria, October 14-15; New England States Seminar, Providence, Rhode Island, October 9; New Jersey, Roger Smith Hotel, New Brunswick, October 8-9; Ohio, Barr Hotel, Lima, October 13-15; Oregon, Portland, October 15; Wyoming, Cheyenne, October 22; Vermont, Hotel Bardwell, Rutland, October 22; Indiana, Hotel Severin, Indianapolis, October 7-9; New Hampshire, Nashua, October 8.
Telegram from E. Vachon states the New Hampshire convention will be held at the Junior High School Auditorium, Spring Street, Nashua. Out-of-towners should make reservations at the Leighton Hotel, Canal Street, Nashua. Dr. tenBroek will be the banquet speaker. Banquet reservations should be sent to E. Vachon, 393 Amherst Street, Manchester, New Hampshire, prior to October 3.
From Listen (Boston); "Following the lead of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, New Jersey will now have a program for mentally retarded and emotionally disturbed blind children. The new plan calls for the establishment of two special classes at St. Joseph's School for the Blind, a residential school in Jersey City. ... A part of the change in policy will bring about the inauguration of integrated day school classes and itinerant teaching for non-retarded blind children. Under the new overall program, which will get underway in September, blind children now attending St. Joseph's School for the Blind will continue to study Braille and other special subjects there but will receive the rest of their schooling at a nearby parochial school.... The 8 [fully sighted] pioneers who make up the first class in the new Boston College course for mobility instructors of the blind began their classes on June 27. [The course is now being called "peripatology," which Listen defines as "the science and art of developing the remaining senses in blind persons in order to achieve optimum orientation and mobility."] ...James E. Hannon of Lee, Massachusetts, a blind attorney and former member of the state legislature, who attended Perkins and graduated from Boston University Law School magna cum laude, and who has been in active practice for 25 years, has been appointed a special justice of the Lee District Court by Governor Furcolo.... The New York Guild for the Jewish Blind has changed its name to 'The Jewish Guild for the Blind' because the geographical scope of the Guild now extends beyond New York City.... Nelson Coon, Librarian at Perkins School for the Blind since 1949, and his wife, Vesta, a teacher of Spanish, Latin and commercial subjects there, are retiring from the Perkins faculty this month.... Mr. and Mrs. Coon will reside in Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard.... Mary E. Switzer, Director of OVR, received two honorary degrees in June. Boston University awarded her the degree of Doctor of Humanities and Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania conferred upon her the degree of Doctor of Medical Science.... King Paul of Greece recently underwent a cataract operation which saved his sight.... Announcement has been made in New York of the formation of 'Research to Prevent Blindness,' an organization to 'stimulate and finance increased basic research into the causes of blindness.' The new agency has already made 11 unrequested grants of $5,000 each to medical schools and other institutions with active programs of research in ophthalmology. Chairman of the board of trustees is Jules C. Stein, who is also chairman of the board of the Music Corporation of America and a former practicing ophthalmologist.... He said that by next year the new organization expects to be backing blindness research with at least $500,000 annually.... He quotes a statement by Dr. Howard A. Rusk, of the NYU-Bellevue Medical Center: 'At present Federal, state and local expenditures for the aid of those who are already blind outweigh government and non-government funds for research to prevent blindness by 18 to 1.' ... Some 700 blind or partially sighted bowlers took part in the thirteenth annual national tournament of the American Blind Bowling Association, held in New York City in May.... One of the features of the fourth annual Public Relations Workshop conducted by the American Foundation on May 17-19 was a panel discussion on the topic 'The Public Image of Blindness in the U.S. Today--Is It Bad, Good or Merely Blurred? ' The Reverend Thomas J. Carroll maintained that it is bad; Hulen Walker insisted that it is good, and Allen W. Sherman argued that it is only blurred."
It has just been learned that the Wisconsin Council of the Blind will receive a substantial share of the estate of Mrs. Charles Morrison, Madison, Wisconsin. The estate is valued at $1,350,000, of which the Council will receive 6% on the death of certain annuitants. The 6% is now worth $81,000 and bound to increase. This is a dividend from White Cane Week mailings.
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"The Maine Council of the Blind lost a good friend on May 13. Frank C. Baker was the motive power that made the Council run. He did more to educate the people of Maine to the needs and feelings of the blind than anyone ever has. He had no thought of personal gain but only wanted to make life more livable for others who were blind. His energies were always used to further the cause of blind people. He visited other blind, talked before Lions, Rotary, PTA groups and Granges. He never turned down a chance to tell others that the blind were people with human dignity. He was instrumental in the forming of several Glaucoma Clinics in Maine and in having textbooks for students transcribed into Braille at the Maine State Prison. Frank's keen, active mind was alert and aware of all that was going on in the world and he didn't sit back and let the other guy do it. He led in everything he did. We of the Maine Council are going to try hard to carry on his great work." Mrs. Martin Meader, Augusta, Maine.
"...Your review of the greeting card program in the March Monitor was an excellent idea. It provides us with a good fill-in and should also checkmate some of the propaganda now being circulated by our enemies. The inclusion of the NFB constitution was also a good idea.... One of my most gratifying experiences came a few years ago during a National Labor Relations election. When I told the election official that I had selected a friend to help me with the ballot, he said, 'that will not be necessary because I can show you how you can do it alone.' He folded the ballot in thirds, showed me where each square was, handed me a pencil and left the room. This made me feel so good that I decided to work on a simple, foolproof voting set-up for all blind people. The symbols for candidates or questions can be cubes, marbles, jacks, cylinders, etc., which can be placed in inexpensive change purses, then deposited in a ballot box. Any purse containing more than the required number of symbols would be void, the same as any improperly marked paper ballot. The purse should be the single-compartment type.... The item about the Los Angeles workshop and the one about the 28 agencies for the blind in the Philadelphia area are glaring examples of how much inefficiency exists in work for the blind in this country. We not only have too many agencies top-heavy with personnel receiving substantial salaries--who produce tons of paper work and little else--but we add insult to injury by tying up with unscrupulous sales outfits that are permitted to increase the price of blind-made articles to whatever amount the word 'blind' can wring from the sympathetic and exploited customer. Their salesmen often make a practice of soliciting contributions in lieu of sales and never report these. ... It is no secret that educated incompetents who cannot make good on their own or in competitive employment are flocking to welfare employment, where accountability and productivity are not important and anything goes as long as there is enough money left for administrative salaries. ... I am happy to read that the NFB is taking an active interest in credit union matters and that the idea is catching on in so many of our states. ..." Mike Sofka, Newark, New Jersey.
"...I regret to report that The Eye Opener has come to an end, through discontinuance of support hitherto furnished by the Lions. ..." Sandford Allerton, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
"...The Cass County Blind Association is the newest chapter in the Indiana Council, joining in July. The president of the new chapter is John R. Mader, 800 West Linden, Logansport. There are 35 official members and 40 associate members. ..." Russell Getz, Goshen, Indiana.
"...We have recently returned from our first NFB convention. When one hears about these conventions the imagination tries vainly to envision so many blind people congregated together at the same time and place but one must actually experience it to get a true picture.... Enclosed you will find our check for $50. We feel this is just a very small token for what we all receive from reading the Monitor every month. ..." Merton Gooder, Treasurer, Michigan Council of the Blind, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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The National Federation of the Blind has achieved a major legislative victory--in fact, three such victories--through the passage of new social security amendments in the closing session of the 86th Congress.
1. Exempt earnings: The new figure will be $85 per month plus 50% of earned income above this amount, for all recipients of Aid to the Blind under title X--as compared with the old figure of $50 per month exempted from earned income.
2. Missouri-Pennsylvania cutoff date: The new date is June 30, 1964--a three-year extension of these separate blind-aid programs, which had been threatened with extinction as of June 30, 1961.
3. Age limitation for disability insurance: The 50-year age limitation upon eligibility for disability cash benefits has been eliminated.
The Federation's persistent campaign for these three concrete improvements in social security aid to the blind was finally rewarded in late August with their incorporation in the omnibus annending bill reported out by a joint conference committee of both congressional houses.
The existing $50 monthly exemption of earned income under Aid to the Blind, which Congress placed in the federal-state program in 1950 as a result of the single-handed campaign of the NFB, is proving itself more and more inadequate to provide ambitious blind-aid recipients with the opportunity to work their way off public assistance into economic independence. Despite its progressive intention of stimulating initiative, inflation and other factors have fast cancelled out the gains achieved through this breakthrough in the concept of public aid. As all of our members know, the Federation has consequently sought in the congresses after 1950 to increase the earned-income exemption to the point where it might realistically fulfill its purpose--that of converting the aid programs of the states from the provision of mere animal subsistence to projects geared to rehabilitation and the return of the blind to normal living standards.
Early in the present Congress, the Honorable Cecil R. King of California introduced H, R, 1923 into the House of Representatives. The bill was the most recent of Congressman King's several efforts to liberalize social security provisions dealing with the blind. One of its prominent features sought to increase the exempt-earnings of a blind aid recipient from $50 per month to $1,000 per year, plus 50% of his earnings above this amount. During executive sessions of the House Ways and Means Committee, in which the King bill came under consideration, officials of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare presented vigorously hostile oral and written testimony against the bill, concentrating their attention in particular upon its provision to increase the earned-income exemption. As a direct result of this opposition, the King bill was not approved by the committee.
Undaunted by this defeat in the House, our Washington representative, John Nagle, thereupon went to the Senate with the King bill, in the remote chance of securing more favorable action in the upper chamber. In making the rounds of Senate offices to find a senator willing to introduce the King bill, Nagle called upon the Honorable Vance Hartke of Indiana. As John tells it, a brief explanation of the bill's provisions was sufficient to enlist the enthusiastic agreement of Senator Hartke not only to introduce the legislation but to work in the Finance Committee (of which he is a member) and, if necessary, on the floor of the Senate as well to secure its adoption. Nagle then continued his rounds of Senate offices until he had called upon all 100 of the senators and had persuaded 16 others to co-sponsor the introduction of the bill into the Senate.
As Nagle met and discussed prospects with members of Senator Hartke's staff concerning the King-Hartke bill, it seemed the wiser course to separate the earned-income exemption provision from other aspects of the bill and to work for the adoption of this one major feature. Accordingly, when John testified before the Senate Finance Coinmittee on June 30, he stressed the rehabilitative character of the exemption provision and the urgent need for its enactment. The Senate Finance Committee subsequently adopted the Hartke amendment (providing for the increase in earned-income exemption), and stated in its committee report:
"The committee was impressed with the evidence presented during its hearings that people receiving assistance through aid-to-the-blind programs desire an increase in the present earnings exemption so that they will have a greater opportunity to work toward self-support. Accordingly, the committee added to the House bill a provision which liberalizes this provision of present law by providing that the first $1,000 of earnings in a year would be disregarded, and then half of all subsequent earnings in the year would also be disregarded. This exemption would be optional with the States beginning with the calendar quarter that starts after the date of enactment and would be compulsory beginning July 1, 1961."
On August 23, the Senate voted adoption of the social security amending bill which contained the Hartke amendment as one of its provisions. Conferees from the House and Senate immediately set to work to iron out differences between the Senate and House-passed social security bills. During these sessions the officials from HEW put up a last-ditch effort against the provision to increase the earned-income exemption for the blind. Among other things, they contended that the proposed exemption of $1,000 plus 50% of annual earnings above this amount could not possibly be administered on an annual basis. Congressman King, one of the House conferees, defended the provision successfully against all but this attack; and it was finally decided that, since aid to the blind payments are made on a monthly rather than annual basis, the earned-income exemption should be computed on a monthly basis as well.
Thus the earned-income exemption increase provision, as it now officially appears in the Social Security Amendments of 1960, reads as follows;
"Aid to the Blind
"sec. 710 (a) Effective for the period beginning with the first day of the calendar quarter which begins after the date of enactment of this Act, and ending with the close of June 30, 1962, clause (8) of section 1002 (a) of the Social Security Act is amended to read as follows: '(8) provide that the State agency shall, in determining need, take into consideration any other income and resources of the individual claiming aid to the blind; except that, in making such determination, the State agency shall disregard either (i) the first $50 per month of earned income, or (ii) the first $85 per month of earned income, plus one-half of earned income in excess of $85 per month;'
"(b) Effective July 1, 1962, clause (8) of such section 1002 (a) is amended to read as follows: '(8) provide that the State agency shall, in determining need, take into consideration any other income and resources of the individual claiming aid to the blind; except that, in making such determination, the State agency shall disregard the first $85 per month of earned income, plus one-half of earned income in excess of $85 per month; '
Since the adoption of this new $85 plus 50% exemption does not become mandatory upon the states until July 1, 1962, there is offered to many of our state affiliates the challenge and opportunity to persuade their state legislatures and/or state administering agencies to put the provision into effect immediately. In some states, such as California and Nevada, there is already a clause automatically accepting federal increases in exempt earnings. In other states, new legislation will have to be secured from the state legislature. In still others, the matter will rest within the discretion of welfare officials. Each affiliate of the National Federation should review the situation in its own state, and plan a course of vigorous action to secure the full benefit of the new federal provision at the earliest possible moment.
The blind people of the nation owe a great debt to the two men primarily responsible for the final incorporation of this provision within the social security law: Congressman King and Senator Hartke. Acknowledgment should also be given to the support of the American Association of Workers for the Blind and the Blinded Veterans Association, who formed a common front with the NFB during the present Congress in the battle for the King bill and thus removed a source of opposition which had existed in earlier years.
That common front has not, unfortunately, included the American Foundation for the Blind. It had earlier been tacitly understood that the Foundation, despite serious doubts concerning the King bill, would not express opposition to it. At the last minute, however, the executive director of the Foundation, M, Robert Barnett, chose to publish an adverse and critical statement in the form of an article in the magazine Listen. (The Barnett statement, together with a reply by Dr. tenBroek, will be reprinted in the October Braille Monitor.)
At every stage of the congressional battle for the exempt earnings provision, the Federation encountered the strenuous hostility of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. That hostility found expression in a formal report against the whole of the King bill, as well as in oral testimony by department officials before the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the joint Senate-House conference committee. As noted above, these officials were successful only in altering the original proposal for an exemption of $1,000 of annual income plus 50% in favor of an exemption of $85 of monthly income plus 50%. The change was made on the argument of HEW officials that this was the only way that the provision could be administered--California's successful administration of a similar provision to the contrary notwithstanding.
The thanks of the organized blind are also due to the Honorable Thomas B. Curtis, Representative from Missouri, who once again in the present Congress joined forces with the Federation to save the Missouri-Pennsylvania programs of state aid to the blind. The result is that these programs have received a new lease on life with the extension of the "cutoff" date from June 30, 1961, to June 30, 1964.
On a third front, the Federation merged its efforts with those of others to bring about a much-needed change in the disability insurance program of the Social Security Act: namely, the elimination of the 50-year age requirement for the establishment of eligibility to receive disability insurance cash benefits. In this regard, the report of the Senate Finance Committee states:
"1. Benefits for disabled workers under age 50 and their families:
"Under present law, the disability freeze is applicable to disabled workers at any age but benefits are payable only to workers between the age of 50 and 65 and their qualified dependents. Although the age 50 restriction was appropriate as part of the conservative approach used when disability benefits were first provided, the committee believes that sufficient experience has now been gained with the administration of the program to warrant the elimination of the age 50 requirement as it is recommending.
"An estimated 125,000 disabled workers and an equal number of their dependents would qualify for benefits immediately upon removal of the age 50 restriction.
"The need of younger disabled workers and their families for disability protection is, in some respects, greater than that of older workers. They are more likely to have families dependent upon them than are workers aged 50 and over. Many who would be eligible for disability benefits except for the age limitation are now receiving payments under the public assistance programs. With insurance benefits available to them and their dependents, some of these individuals would no longer need assistance payments. As a result, the first-year saving in public assistance funds is estimated at $28 million and it is expected that more would be saved in later years. More important, as time goes on fewer people who become disabled before age 50 will need to have recourse to assistance. Benefits through the insurance program will be based on the person's work and earnings and paid without investigation of his financial situation."
With the elimination of the age 50 limitation upon the disability insurance cash benefits program, it now becomes possible for any disabled persons (including the blind) who meet the other conditions of eligibility to apply for and receive disability insurance cash benefits whenever and at whatever age disability occurs.
It is scarcely necessary to underline for members of the NFB the broad significance of the threefold victory we have won in the present session of Congress. First of all, of course, there are the specific and material gains themselves. But barely less important and encouraging is the solid proof which this achievement furnishes that the Federation's persistence in its basic legislative campaigns has been wholly justified and worthwhile--and that, whatever the opposition and however loud its outcry, the voice of the organized blind is strong enough to be heard and to be respected in the councils of the national government.
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