The Braille Monitor                                                                              August/September, 2003

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The 2003 Awards

Presented by the National Federation of the Blind

Dr. Norman Gardner displays his plaque.
Dr. Norman Gardner displays his plaque.

From the Editor: National Federation of the Blind awards are not bestowed lightly. If an appropriate recipient does not emerge from the pool of candidates for a particular award, it is simply not presented. At this year's convention three presentations were made by the National Federation of the Blind and one by the National Blindness Professional Certification Board, Inc. The first presentation took place during the board of directors meeting Monday morning, June 30. In the absence of Steve Benson, who chairs the Blind Educator of the Year Selection Committee but who was ill, Sheila Koenig, president of the National Organization of Blind Educators, made the presentation, with an assist from committee member Ramona Walhof. This is what they said, first Sheila Koenig:

Blind Educator of the Year Award

Thank you, President Maurer, and, on behalf of Steve Benson, thank you to those who served on the selection committee--Judy Sanders, Adelmo Vigil, and Ramona Walhof--for participating in committee deliberations. The 2003 recipient of the Blind Educator of the Year Award is one whose talent, teaching skills, contributions to the field of education, and leadership in the community and in the National Federation of the Blind merit singular recognition.

This year's honoree will receive a check for $1,000 and a plaque which reads:

National Federation of the Blind

Blind Educator of the Year

presented to

_______________

in recognition of outstanding accomplishments
in the teaching profession

You enhance the present
you inspire your colleagues
you build the future.

June 30, 2003

This year's award recipient has taken seriously lessons learned from Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, and President Maurer:

        Blindness is a characteristic, not a handicap.

        Blind people can and do compete on terms of equality with sighted people.

        Mastery of the skills of blindness and self-confidence is an essential ingredient for success.

        It is respectable to be blind.

Dr. tenBroek, founder of our movement, set high standards for himself and his students. He was acknowledged by both faculty and students at the University of California at Berkeley to be an outstanding teacher. His classes were always full.

The 2003 winner of the Blind Educator of the Year Award has emulated Dr. tenBroek, and the result can be seen in nominating letters for this award. One letter says: "The students find his classes very challenging, and they feel that what he teaches will be of value to them. . . ." The letter further says this year's honoree is "considered by the students and the faculty to be an excellent teacher." While it is significant that this teacher has received specific recognition and honor from students and from colleagues, it is more laudable that the quality of his work in and out of the classroom has been consistently high throughout his career.

The Blind Educator of the Year for 2003 is Dr. Norman Gardner. While he is making his way to the platform, I will ask Ramona Walhof, who knows him well, to describe his background and accomplishments.

Mrs. Walhof: Dr. Gardner earned bachelor and master of business degrees at Brigham Young University in 1966 and 1968. He earned a Ph.D. in business administration at the University of Utah in 1974, with concentrations in finance, managerial accounting, and quantitative methods.

He held tenure as an associate professor of finance at Boise State University and is currently a full professor of finance at Utah Valley State College, where he has taught finance, corporate finance, investment management, and statistics. Dr. Gardner has developed and taught seminars for upper-level management teams of large corporations. He has also designed and conducted ten special workshops on international business and Mexican history and culture. Each of these included three weeks of study and travel in Mexico. Dr. Gardner has also served as consultant for Boise Cascade and Idaho First National Bank on employment issues and in developing a credit scoring model for screening credit card applications.

Norman Gardner has served as a member and chairman of the Idaho Commission for the Blind board. He has served as affiliate president in Idaho and as a member of the NFB board of directors. In 1998 he formed and serves as executive director of the Braille Resource and Literacy Center, an organization dedicated to enhancing the availability of Braille. The Center has produced over 100 titles, story books in uncontracted Braille for blind children just beginning to read.

Since 1999 he has worked with the Centro Integral Para Ciegora, a school for the blind in Villahermosa, Mexico, providing philosophical direction for program development and financial assistance for the school to acquire needed supplies and equipment.

Ms. Koenig: Dr. Gardner, here is a check for $1,000 as well as a plaque in recognition of your accomplishments.

Norman Gardner: Fellow Federationists, I am deeply honored and humbled and touched by this recognition. When I first joined an institution of higher learning, it was in Boise, Idaho, and Boise State University. Within a few months I met the National Federation of the Blind and came under the influence of some of the great educators this world has known, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek and Dr. Kenneth Jernigan. They have profoundly affected my life and my desire to be an educator who means something in the lives of people. I learned that it enhances the efforts of an educator to feel and care for his students. I have tried to follow the example of these great educators. I am honored to be associated with this organization.

Our current president continues the great example of our former leaders. In the larger sense we are all in the business of educating ourselves, the public at large, and the new generation of blind children that will come forward to take our place as we help them to avoid the pitfalls that we have found and have tried to fill in along the way. Thank you very much.

Jacobus tenBroek Award

At the banquet on Thursday evening, July 3, Ramona Walhof came to the podium to make the following presentation:

Ramona Walhof presents a plaque to Betty Woodward while her husband Bruce and Fred Schroeder look on.
Ramona Walhof (left) presents a plaque to Betty Woodward while her husband Bruce (standing) and Fred Schroeder look on.

In 1974 the National Federation of the Blind created an award in honor of our esteemed founder, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek. This award is to be presented as often as somebody in the organization has earned exceptional recognition from his or her colleagues for work in and for the movement. We have bestowed this recognition only twenty times in our history to people from thirteen states. It is my pleasure to present the Jacobus tenBroek Award again tonight.

In 1981, I think, I was working at our national headquarters in Baltimore. One assignment I was given from time to time was to call leaders on behalf of the president to invite them to a seminar. I remember one particular Monday morning when Dr. Jernigan came to my office and said with joy in his voice, "I have more people for you to add to the calling list for the next seminar." He gave me the names of the two people who are being honored tonight. Dr. Jernigan had attended a state convention the weekend before, and I knew from his manner that he was delighted to have discovered people in that state whom he had not known well before. Later I and others understood. The couple we are honoring tonight are quiet, hard-working people who became acquainted in the organization and, after working together for several years, were married in 1987. Betty and Bruce Woodward, would you make your way to the front please?

Betty lost her vision in 1963, and Bruce has retinitis pigmentosa, so it's hard to tell when he lost his. Both joined the NFB in 1971, when we reorganized the NFB of Connecticut. Betty has often told us that her mother advised her to grow a garden. So that's what she did. She raised five children and now has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. After her children were grown, she continued to teach what she knows to new members of the Federation. Bruce retired from a full-time career working with computers for Travelers Insurance. Bruce has served as treasurer of the NFB of Connecticut for well over twenty years. Betty has held several different positions, including secretary for more than a decade. She was first elected president of the NFB of Connecticut in 1998 and continues to hold that position. She has worked in the outreach office of the NFB of Connecticut, calling for donations and answering questions about blindness and the Federation, day after day after day.

Bruce has often chaired the NFB of Connecticut scholarship committee. Now this has not meant simply choosing the winners; he also had the task of finding the funds to make the awards. Together Betty and Bruce Woodward have edited the newsletter of the NFB of Connecticut longer than I know. They have led many Connecticut groups to the legislative seminar in Washington, D.C. Throughout the nineties Betty served as legislative chairman of the NFB of Connecticut.

This year the blind of Connecticut and the blind of the nation faced serious threats in Connecticut to government services for the blind. There have been efforts to close the industries program in Connecticut and to reorganize the rehabilitation services for the blind into an umbrella agency. These threats continued month after month, but Betty and Bruce have been tough and persistent. They have kept themselves and others informed of each new development. They have worked with individual legislators and committees. They have provided leadership when others grew discouraged and tired.

Yet when President Maurer telephoned Betty to get an update on what was happening in Connecticut, the first words Betty had to say were, "Thank you for all the other people who have helped." This embodies the spirit of Betty and Bruce Woodward. They have had to carry the heaviest responsibility, but their expression is thanks to others. It appears that separate services for the blind in Connecticut are saved, at least for the time being. We all appreciate the work of the many people, especially of Betty and Bruce. Thus we come to honor these two tonight, two of our finest, for their spirit, their diligence, their ability, and their leadership. Betty and Bruce, we value you for your work, and we love and honor you both for what you are and what you do.

Now I'm going to give you this plaque, and I'll read what it says.

JACOBUS tenBROEK AWARD

National Federation of the Blind

presented to

Betty and Bruce Woodward

for your dedication,
sacrifice, and commitment
on behalf of the blind of this nation.

Your contribution is measured
not in steps, but in miles,
not by individual experiences,
but by your impact on the lives
of the blind of the nation.

Whenever we have asked,
you answered.

We call you our colleagues with respect;
we call you our friends with love.

July 3, 2003

The Woodwards came to the stage and responded as follows:

Betty Woodward: Dr. Maurer called me this morning because I had asked for a meeting with him tomorrow. I wanted to meet with him to thank him. We probably would have been quiet. Now I can thank him in front of all of our family for all that he and this Federation of ours have done for Connecticut and for my life. Thank you.

Bruce Woodward: This is just wonderful. The Federation brought Betty and me together in 1982-83. We got to know each other, and in 1987 we were married. We are a family in ourselves and also part of the Federation family. I want to echo what Betty was just saying about what the national organization means to the state of Connecticut. We embarked on a battle last fall in several different areas, primarily on the legislative side to preserve the state agency in Connecticut. The support we received from the national has just been fantastic, both from the standpoint of offering assistance and teaching us how to work with the legislature. It's been a learning experience for us; we are anxious to continue to get to know our legislators and work with them and to make them aware of the issues concerning the blind.

People like Fred Schroeder, Alan Harris, and so many others--Jim Gashel came to Connecticut a year ago. Don Morris came to visit and work with us on issues concerning the Randolph-Sheppard Act. There has been fantastic support from the national. We so much appreciate it.

Betty: Bruce left out one name--someone whom we spent a lot of time with and we got to know very well. That's Jason Ewell. He's been a wonderful help.

The Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award

Late Friday morning Sharon Maneki came to the podium to present the 2003 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award. This ceremony usually takes place during the board meeting, but this year's recipient was welcoming her son home from Iraq early in the week, so she did not arrive at the convention until the board meeting was over. Our busy agenda meant that Friday was the first opportunity President Maurer could find for this presentation. Here is what Sharon Maneki said:

Dr. Sheila Amato shakes hands with Sharon Maneki at the podium.
Dr. Sheila Amato (left) shakes hands with Sharon Maneki at the podium.

This is a lady who has been teaching for thirty-one years, and that of course is a tremendous accomplishment. This lady also has a Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York, which is a substantial achievement. But she is being recognized this morning for her commitment, for her creativity, and for her dedication to blind students.

As Dr. Sheila Amato makes her way to the stage, let me tell you about her. Dr. Sheila Amato has been working in all aspects of vision education. She made it possible for a student who is deaf-blind to participate in an integrated setting, and she made sure that he had all of his materials. Many people would say that a deaf-blind student couldn't be in that setting, but she made it happen.

One example of her creativity is that she created a new program called Braille Goes to High School. In this program she teaches sighted students Braille, and many of those students go on to become transcribers so that we have enough material. Two of these students have been with us throughout the convention. Dr. Amato also wants to make sure that those who teach our students in the classroom are informed and educated themselves. She teaches in two teacher-training programs: one at Columbia University and one at the Dominican College in New York.

Dr. Amato, it is my pleasure to present you first with a check for $1,000 and now a plaque. Here is the text:

The National Federation of the Blind

Honors

Dr. Sheila Amato

Distinguished Educator of Blind Children

For your skill in teaching Braille and
other alternative techniques of blindness,
for generously devoting extra time to meet
the needs of your students, and for
inspiring your students to perform beyond their expectations.

You champion our movement,
you strengthen our hopes,
you share our dreams.

July 2003

Congratulations, Dr. Amato.

Sheila Amato then delivered a lively, warm, personal reflection on her lifelong commitment to Braille and effective Braille instruction. Here is her comment before beginning to read her paper:

Dr. Maurer and Federationists, I would like to express my appreciation for your support of my family and especially for my son Anthony, a United States Marine, who returned to the United States this last Saturday from Iraq. [cheers and applause] It is a daunting task to schedule activities for such a large convention. I threw in the proverbial monkey wrench with my late arrival. I would like to thank you all for responding with such flexibility, smiles, and love. God bless all our servicemen and women across the United States and in other countries, and God bless America.

Fredric K. Schroeder Award

On Tuesday afternoon, July 1, James Omvig, president of the National Blindness Professional Certification Board, came to the microphone to make a presentation before the entire convention. Here are his remarks:

Doug Boone responds to the award presentation while Jim Omvig listens.
Doug Boone responds to the award presentation while Jim Omvig listens.

The directors of the National Blindness Professional Certification Board are pleased to present the second Fredric K. Schroeder Award for outstanding contributions to the field of travel training for the blind. No name holds more weight or lends more prestige and credibility to an award in the field of Orientation and Mobility (O and M) than that of Dr. Fredric Schroeder. Therefore it is particularly fitting that this prestigious recognition be named after him.

Dr. Schroeder's background and record of achievement set a high standard of excellence for this award. Fred was the very first blind American to be accepted in and graduate from a master's degree program at one of the old-line O and M university programs. It is not, of course, remarkable at all that Fred graduated with high marks, earning a master's in O and M. He is extremely intelligent and highly motivated. Especially remarkable are the facts and circumstances surrounding his matriculation into the O and M program at San Francisco State University and his subsequent efforts to become certified in the profession.

Since professional certification was completely closed to all blind candidates at the time of his graduation, Fred never received AAWB/AER certification, but I would like to say here for the record that Dr. Fred Schroeder is now a certified O and M instructor. It seemed particularly fitting that he receive the very first National Orientation and Mobility Certification (NOMC) presented by the National Blindness Professional Certification Board.

With this bit of history as a backdrop, we turn to our new award and the 2003 recipient. He is a National Orientation and Mobility Certificant. Interestingly, our winner was trained in O and M and structured discovery techniques by no less a personage than Dr. Schroeder himself. Although he has traveled and worked far and wide, his current residence is in Pennsylvania. Our 2003 winner is Mr. Doug Boone, NOMC.

In case you don't already know it, Doug is sighted. His story demonstrates poignantly the truth that it is not eyesight--or the lack of it--which defines a true professional in work with the blind. What distinguishes the real professional from the rest of the pack is a profound belief in the normality of the blind as a group, together with the concomitant high expectations for success which necessarily follow.

Doug Boone entered the field of work with the blind in Nebraska in 1976. He had graduated from Wayne State University with a major in industrial arts and was hired by Nebraska Services for the Blind to teach shop in its relatively new Orientation and Adjustment Center. While Doug was working in Nebraska, he first met Fred Schroeder, took travel training from Fred, and also learned the early concepts of nonvisual instruction and structured discovery learning.

Since entering the field, Doug has taught both shop and travel in Nebraska; worked in Oregon both as a rehabilitation counselor and rehabilitation teacher; served the newly created New Mexico Commission for the Blind, both as an acting orientation center director and as human resources director; briefly headed the Pennsylvania state agency for the blind; and has recently done some of his finest work operating D. Boone Consultants. In his consultant capacity Doug contracts with schools, state agencies, or other entities to teach travel, structured discovery learning, and healthy attitudes about blindness to their professional personnel. He delivers his brand of instruction in a nonthreatening way to those who are just learning the truth about blindness. Those taught by him are said to be "Boone-trained," and he is the best of the best when it comes to professional trainers. Although he is sighted, Doug exhibits a fierce passion for justice for the blind, and he exemplifies the personal dedication, teaching skills, and professional excellence that are the hallmarks of the National Blindness Professional Certification Board. His services will have a profound, positive, and lasting impact upon future blind consumers of services.

Doug, in order to memorialize this special occasion, I am pleased to present you with this engraved walnut plaque. It reads:

FREDRIC K. SCHROEDER AWARD

presented to

Doug Boone, NOMC

For excellence in teaching
the structured discovery strategy
of travel training to
future instructors of the blind.

Because of your pioneering, dedicated,
and exemplary contributions
to the field of orientation and mobility,
the blind of tomorrow
will be enabled to walk independently
through life with faith justified
by self-confidence;
they will be masters of their own destinies!

National Blindness Professional Certification Board, Inc.

Louisville, Kentucky

July 1, 2003

After receiving the award, Doug Boone said:

Thank you, fellow Federationists. It is indeed a great honor that I receive this plaque today; it means a lot. You know, in 1958 when Dr. Jernigan started the Iowa Commission, he didn't throw a pebble into the lake, he threw a huge mountain. The ripples are still going on. Hopefully, as I go through the years of my life, I can contribute a small portion of payback for the information and patience that I have received from so many blind folks in this room. The Federation is great. Thank you very much.

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