Vol. 57, No. 4 April 2014
Gary Wunder, Editor
Distributed by email, in inkprint, in Braille, and on USB flash drive (see below) by
The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President
200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
telephone: (410) 659-9314
email address: [email protected]
website address: https://www.nfb.org
NFB-NEWSLINE® information: (866) 504-7300
Letters to the president, address changes,
subscription requests, and orders for NFB literature
should be sent to the national office.
Articles for the Monitor and letters to the editor may also
be sent to the national office or may be emailed to [email protected].
Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation about forty dollars per year. Members are invited,
and nonmembers are requested, to cover the subscription cost. Donations should be
made payable to National Federation of the Blind and sent to:
National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Each issue is recorded on a thumb drive (also called a memory stick or USB flash drive). You can read this audio edition using a computer or a National Library Service digital player. The NLS machine has two slots--the familiar book-cartridge slot just above the retractable carrying handle and a second slot located on the right side near the headphone jack. This smaller slot is used to play thumb drives. Remove the protective rubber pad covering this slot and insert the thumb drive. It will insert only in one position. If you encounter resistance, flip the drive over and try again. (Note: If the cartridge slot is not empty when you insert the thumb drive, the digital player will ignore the thumb drive.) Once the thumb drive is inserted, the player buttons will function as usual for reading digital materials. If you remove the thumb drive to use the player for cartridges, when you insert it again, reading should resume at the point you stopped.
You can transfer the recording of each issue from the thumb drive to your computer or preserve it on the thumb drive. However, because thumb drives can be used hundreds of times, we would appreciate their return in order to stretch our funding. Please use the return label enclosed with the drive when you return the device.
The 2014 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Orlando, Florida, July 1-6, at the Rosen Centre Hotel at 9840 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819. Make your room reservation as soon as possible with the Rosen Centre staff only. Call (800) 204-7234.
The 2014 room rates are singles, doubles, and twins, $82; and triples and quads, $88. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at present is 13.5 percent. No charge will be made for children under seventeen in the room with parents as long as no extra bed is requested. The hotel is accepting reservations now. A $95-per-room deposit is required to make a reservation. Fifty percent of the deposit will be refunded if notice is given to the hotel of a reservation cancellation before May 28, 2014. The other 50 percent is not refundable.
Rooms will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until our block is filled or until May 28, whichever comes first. After our block is filled and/or after May 28, the hotel has no obligation to accept any further reservations, but may do so if it has rooms available. In other words, you should get your reservation in soon.
Guest-room amenities include cable television; in-room safe; coffeemaker; hairdryer; and, for a fee, high-speed Internet access. Guests can also enjoy a swimming pool, fitness center, and on-site spa. The Rosen Centre Hotel offers fine dining at Executive Chef Michael Rumplik’s award-winning Everglades Restaurant. In addition, there is an array of dining options from sushi to tapas to a 24-hour deli. The hotel has first-rate amenities and shuttle service to the Orlando airport.
The schedule for the 2014 convention is:
Tuesday, July 1 Seminar Day
Wednesday, July 2 Registration Day
Thursday, July 3 Board Meeting and Division Day
Friday, July 4 Opening Session
Saturday, July 5 Business Session
Sunday, July 6 Banquet Day and Adjournment
Please register online at <www.nfb.org/registration> or use this mail-in form. Print legibly, provide all requested information, and mail form and payment to:
National Federation of the Blind
Attn: Convention Registration
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
Please register only one person per registration form; however, one check or money order may cover multiple registrations. Check or money order (sorry, no credit cards) must be enclosed with registration(s).
Registrant Name ______________________________________________
City ______________________ State _____________ Zip ___________
Phone ____________ Email ____________________________________
___ I will pick up my registration packet at convention.
___ The following person will pick up my registration packet:
Pickup Name ______________________________________
Number of preregistrations x $25 = ____________
Number of pre-purchased banquet tickets x $55 = ____________
Total = ____________
Vol. 57, No. 4 April 2014
Illustration: New Service Animals for the Blind
Kernels Take Root
Crying Over Spilled Milk
by Parnell Diggs
Growing Up Blind
by Jan Bailey
by Angela Howard
True Integrity in Providing Wage Equity
by Rose Sloan
Standing On My Own
by Megan Bening
A Decade of Imaginative Investment in Our Future
by Mark Riccobono
Life Lessons From a Tree
by Cayte Mendez
When Santa Comes to School
by Jasmine Hunt
Economics of Leadership: Is Power Rival?
by Justin Salisbury
by Susan Povinelli
Self-Advocacy in Spain: Curiosity, Confidence, and Commitment
by Chelsey Duranleau
The Challenges in Going Blind and Learning to Live Again
by Kim Tindal
A Review of Close Your Eyes
by Grace Warn
Taking the Next Step: 2014 National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
(NOPBC) Conference for Families and Teachers
by Carlton Walker
NFB Camp Convention Adventures
The Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund
by Allen Harris
Copyright 2014 by the National Federation of the Blind
Some of you may have heard about the hawk that was loose in the atrium of the Jernigan Institute back in October. We at the Monitor just received permission to tell our readers all about it.
Meet Barton, a member of a new experimental guide animal program. We love our guide dogs, but in today's urban society, there can be some drawbacks: allergies in the family to dog dander, the difficulties finding an apartment you can afford with the space for a large dog, not to mention finding a park or similar place to exercise your canine companion.
With this in mind, trainers have been working with several new animals, looking for an alternative more suited to modern city living. Barton only requires a bit of room to stretch his wings from time to time and can ride on his owner's wrist or shoulder in crowds. He can often scavenge for his own food, so the owner has one less thing to pack on long trips.
Also in this program are George, a capuchin monkey, and Rocky, a raccoon. Both species are smaller, easier to exercise, and are highly intelligent. Capuchins live thirty to forty years, and raccoons in captivity can live up to twenty, meaning that they would have a much longer working lifespan, coming closer to the goal of giving a blind person a guide for life. As an added bonus, a monkey or raccoon would be trainable in such tasks as handing you your cell phone, house keys, or other small items.For more information about the program, or to volunteer to work with one of these new potential guide animals, contact Ms. April Phules by phone at (410) 111-1111, ext. 2473 (BIRD) or email her at <[email protected]>.
From the Editor: As we mentioned in the October 2013 issue of the Monitor, the NFB is creating a new Kernel Book to commemorate its seventy-fifth anniversary, and we need your stories. What are we looking for? To answer that question we are including three fine examples of stories that have appeared in our Kernel Books and have made them the treasures they are. Our hope is that these will encourage you to explore these gems on your own and inspire you to share with us the particular challenges blindness has posed in your life. How has our progress in creating better laws and the creation of better technology helped or hindered you? How has your involvement with the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind changed your life? What experiences and reflections can you contribute to help blind and sighted people alike come to better understand what blindness is and what it is not? Read, enjoy, reflect, and then write. The success of this work depends on you.
by Parnell Diggs
From the Editor: This is a powerful story in which good intentions collide with good sense and in which underestimation of a blind father results in the overturning of a glass. Here is how this story was introduced to Kernel Book readers in Freedom: We often say that the real problem of blindness is not the lack of eyesight but is the lack of understanding about it. The truth of that statement is borne out forcefully in this story by Parnell Diggs. Here is what he has to say:
My long white cane extended, I walked into a hotel restaurant one Thursday with my wife and nineteen-month-old son. I asked for a Braille menu, and Kim and I began talking. Our family was being observed (I soon learned) by two ladies at a nearby table.
Jordan played with his toys while we made decisions about lunch. Kim and Jordan were having the buffet, and Daddy (everybody knows I love a good sandwich) was instructed to put Jordan in his highchair as soon as I had ordered off of the menu.
From his highchair, Jordan was unable to disturb the drinks I had made certain were across the table beyond his reach. “I bet he wants his milk,” a lady from the nearby table said striding over and placing the Styrofoam cup in front of my son.
I grabbed the cup and gave Jordan a sip of milk. “Say thank you,” I prodded knowing the plastic lid and straw were not designed to prevent spills by toddlers. Moving the cup again out of harm’s way, I sat down and awaited Kim’s return from the buffet line.
The low-pitched thud against a container full of liquid, the soaked tablecloth, and the embarrassed laughter of the two ladies on the other side of the highchair created an awkwardness which could have been avoided if the two ladies had not been so well intentioned.
As a favor to me, they had gently placed Jordan’s cup in front of him a second time on their way out of the restaurant not realizing that I had deliberately placed it where he couldn’t reach it. I jumped up, “Yeah, pull him away from the table,” one of them said as I checked Jordan’s clothes which were still dry.
Could they have imagined that I am a self-employed attorney with a wife who works at home? In their wildest dreams, could they have realized that I was there to preside at a business meeting that weekend that would be attended by 350 persons?
Put a white cane in my hand, and I became a blind man who didn’t know that my son couldn’t reach his milk. “You may want to get help,” they suggested. “It’s running onto the floor.” I guess they figured out why I had put Jordan’s milk where he couldn’t reach it.
A sighted parent may have done the same thing as opposed simply to holding a child’s hands down. Without a “Sippy cup,” I made a judgment call, and they had made a judgment call too. They knew that I was blind.
Rather than assuming that I had put the cup out of reach on purpose because my nineteen-month-old son could not yet hold that type of cup, the ladies who had been observing us assumed that I, being blind, didn’t know where I had put it.
This spilled milk was definitely worth crying over, but not because we had to change tables and ask for more milk. In their minds, my life experience was irrelevant. Jordan (though still a toddler) had already exceeded the competence of his blind father.
The ladies who would give Jordan his milk so he could spill it would not give me a job so I could buy it.
The tears I shed are a result of the knowledge that my son will very soon come to know that people think his father is incapable of providing for himself, his family, and incapable even of doing something so fundamental as giving his son his milk.
Jordan will be told that he is less fortunate than other children are because his dad is blind—but thanks to the National Federation of the Blind he won’t believe it. Blindness is not a tragedy. With proper training and opportunity, blindness can be reduced to the level of a mere physical nuisance. I am determined that this is the message of blindness that my son will hear most.
by Jan Bailey
From the Editor: This wonderful story about growing up blind is a powerful illustration of the Federation’s philosophy and the good that can come when parents demand age-appropriate behavior and employ creative thinking to see that their blind child will have a chance to live a normal and productive life. Here is the way it was introduced in the first Kernel Book, What Color is the Sun?: Jan Bailey is a rehabilitation counselor in Minnesota. It is not difficult to see why she has grown up to be such a well-adjusted, sensible person. Her parents deserve much of the credit for employing practical good sense and acting on their conviction that their little daughter was, when all was said and done, a normal child:
I am the fourth of nine children, and prior to my birth, my parents had very little knowledge about or exposure to blind people. I once asked my mother how she learned that I was blind. She told me that she took me for a check-up when I was four or five months old and mentioned to the doctor that I did not appear to look at things. He examined my eyes and told her that I was blind.
Afterward, my mother got on the streetcar to go home and suddenly began to panic. She wondered what she would do. For a split second she considered putting me down on the seat and leaving me there. Then, she remembered a blind man she had known. He had led a very normal life. He was married, had children, and held a job. She decided that if that was possible for him, then it would be possible for me.
My mother's experience illustrates my belief that it is desperately important for parents of blind children to have contact with capable blind adults. We can be role models for your children and can help you as that blind man helped my mother. The National Federation of the Blind is an excellent resource for parents because our membership is made up of thousands of blind people who are leading normal lives.
Like many parents, mine went from doctor to doctor trying to have my sight restored. Finally, when I was about a year old, my parents took me to a renowned specialist in Salt Lake City, Utah. The doctor examined me and then told my parents, "Quit going to doctors. There is nothing that can be done for your daughter's eyes. She will always be blind. Take her home and treat her just like the rest of your children." To the best of their ability, they did just that.
One of the first discoveries my parents made was that I was afraid of a number of things. I disliked anything fuzzy, I did not like loud noises, and I was terrified of the grass. My mother just kept exposing me to fuzzy objects, and one good thing came out of the fear before I was cured of it.
I had developed a habit of throwing my empty bottle out of the crib every night. Since they were made of glass, each night the bottle broke. My mother decided to remedy this situation by wrapping my bottle in a diaper and putting rubber bands around it, but I would have nothing to do with it. I was now afraid of my fuzzy bottle, and I never drank from one again. My mother, however, was persistent and kept exposing me to soft, fuzzy objects, and I soon outgrew that fear.
My mother thought that some of my fears developed because I did not see others around me handling objects. She also concluded that when I went to new places and heard noises I had never heard before, I was frightened because I couldn't associate the sound with anything I recognized. She kept exposing me to the things I was afraid of, explaining them and making me touch as many of them as possible.
She made a point of taking me everywhere and making me do things. She says I would have been perfectly content to sit in a corner and play, but she would not allow me to do so. She, my father, or one of my brothers or sisters would make me play with them.
Once my father had accepted my blindness, he decided to order some literature about blind children. He received a book in the mail that said: "Put your blind child in a cardboard box in a dark room. Your blind child is very fragile. Let your child explore the box and then the room."
My father threw that book away and told my mother that if that was what the experts had to say on the subject, he figured he could manage on his own. He said common sense told him that was the worst piece of advice he had ever received. When I was two years old, I suddenly stopped talking. I had spoken a few words, but then I quit. After several days my father said that he'd had enough. He went over to the high chair where I was sitting, picked me up, and sat me down hard. "Say Mama," he said. I said it. Then he picked me up again and sat me down hard and said, "Say Dada." I said it, and from then on I had no more difficulty talking.
At around the same time, my father told me that he was going to show me where things were in the house. He said that I could not be running into them and that I must learn my way around. He took me through all of the rooms and showed me where everything was. Then he said, "Now, when I tell you `Keep your eyes open,' you'll know that I mean to keep your feelers working and your smeller working and your ears working. It would sound funny if I said that, so you'll know what I mean when I tell you to keep your eyes open."
A short time later I came running into the dining room from the kitchen where I had been playing. I hit my forehead hard on the dining room table, fell down, and began to cry. My mother jumped up to comfort me, but my father told her to let him handle it. He went over, picked me up, gave me a swat on my back end, and said "Now, don't you remember, I showed you where that table was. You can't be running into things. Next time, keep your eyes open." My mother told him she thought he was being too hard on me, but he said I had to learn.
I soon stopped crying and went back to playing. A few minutes later, I came running into the dining room again. My father said that you could hardly have put a hair between my forehead and that table before I swerved. I never ran into the table again.
As I mentioned earlier, I was terrified of the grass when I was a young child. Each time my mother went out to hang clothes, she took me with her and put me down on the lawn. I always crawled over onto the cement or gravel, preferring that to the grass.
Eventually my father told my mother that he was going to do something about the situation. He took me out to the back yard and proceeded to roll me around on the grass. I began to scream, and the neighbors came running. They told him that he was cruel, but he ignored them. He took me back into the house and told my mother not to say anything more about the grass. I pouted for a few days before coming to my mother one day and asking for my hat and coat. That meant I wanted to go outside to play. She helped me to put on my things and watched me as I went out.
I went over to the grass and cautiously extended my toe and touched it. I waited for a second and then explored it with my foot. Soon I was rolling around on the lawn and after that had no fear of grass.
My father has often told me that when I was small, I had some rather strange ideas. One day I handed him a chicken bone from which I had eaten all the meat and asked him to put some more chicken on it. Another day I asked him to lift me up so I could touch the sky.
On such occasions he tried to explain the true nature of things so that I would not continue to have misconceptions about my surroundings. He did have quite a time, though, making me understand that I couldn't touch the sky, because he always made a point of letting me touch things in order for me to learn about them.
Once I wanted to touch an elephant at the zoo. My father persuaded the zoo keeper to let me go into the cage and touch it. He didn't want to give me special treatment, so he persuaded the poor keeper to let my brothers and sisters go in also.
When I was quite young, a woman from the welfare department who had learned I was blind came to visit my mother. She showed my mother a large wooden shoe and some pieces of cloth with buttons, buttonholes, and snaps on them. She tried to persuade my mother that she needed to purchase these things to teach me to tie my shoes, button my dress, and snap snaps.
My mother told her that first, she didn't have the money to buy those things, and second, she didn't see any need for them. She said that when I needed to learn these things, she would teach me using my own clothing.
When I was ready to go to kindergarten, I announced that I wanted to learn how to zip my jacket. I told her that I didn't want to have to ask the teacher to do it for me. I was to go to kindergarten at noon, and I pestered her all morning until I finally learned how to zip that jacket.
In the first grade I began to learn to read. I was very anxious to master this skill because I had heard some talking books, and I wanted to read just like the readers on the records. One day, however, I came home from school in tears and told my parents that my teacher had said that I would not be allowed to check out library books while in first grade. My father could not understand this and so decided to phone the principal. Neither the principal nor the superintendent would overrule my teacher. So, my father called her directly. He tried calmly to persuade her that I should be allowed to check out library books. Finally in exasperation, he said, "Do you have any children?" "No," said the teacher. "Well," he replied, "I have six of them, and I know that when children are anxious to learn, you shouldn't discourage them." But the teacher wouldn't be moved, so my father told me to go and talk to the librarian. She asked me if I knew what a little white lie was. I told her I didn't. She said that it was a lie that wouldn't hurt anyone. She then told me to tuck a book under my coat and bring it back when I was finished reading it, and she would give me another one. I secretly read library books all during first grade.
Then there was the matter of my walking to school. I announced one day when I was six or seven years old that I thought I should be allowed to walk to school since my brothers and sisters could. Moreover, I wanted to walk by myself. I did not have a cane; back then children didn't use them.
My father said that he would show me the way to school, and I could go by myself. After a couple of weeks, I again announced one morning at breakfast that I wanted to walk to school by myself. My father replied that I had been doing so. "No, I haven't," I said. "You've been following me." He admitted that he had been, but he promised that that morning he would not. I could walk to school all by myself.
That night, I came home in tears and told my parents that the superintendent had come out to meet me at the driveway of the school when he saw that my father was not following me. That was not the end of it.
A few days later my father got a phone call. "Mr. Bailey," the superintendent said, "You are causing a problem in our school. You are allowing your daughter to walk to school by herself. She has told the other students about it, and now they want to do the same thing."
There were many other day students in town, and other parents were complaining. My father refused to comply with the request. He told the superintendent to tell those parents that they could raise their children the way they wanted to, and he would raise his the way he wanted.
At the age of seven or eight, I told my father I wanted to roller skate. He told me that he would take me out and put a pair of skates on me and take them off again, once. If I could get them back on, I could go skating. I don't suppose he thought I would be able to do it, but we went out and sat on the steps. He showed me one time how to clamp the skates on, how to use a skate key, and how to buckle the straps. After he removed the skates, I put them back on myself. Then he told me I had some boundaries. I could go around the block. If I wanted to roller skate, I had to stay within my boundaries. I skated for hours. That night, the neighbors complained about it. They told my father that it was dangerous and that I would hurt myself. They said it wasn't safe for me to go skating around the block by myself.
Again, my father ignored their advice. He told them that if I hurt myself too many times, I would give up roller skating. I did fall down repeatedly. In fact that first day, my legs were bleeding badly when I was through, but I persisted and soon rarely fell. I also rode my tricycle around the block, another thing the neighbors didn't approve of. Soon, however, I wanted a bicycle. I worked hard to master the skill, but I soon tired of falling off and gave it up. I guess my father's theory was right. When I hurt myself enough, I made my own choices about what I would and could do.
At age ten or eleven, I became a Campfire Girl. Each year after that my sister and I went door to door selling candy. She went down one block, and I went down another. One year we sold enough candy to earn a campship, which meant that since both of us planned to attend, our parents would have to pay half the cost for each of us. After we had successfully sold all of the candy, my Campfire leader told my parents that I would not be allowed to attend camp because I was blind. They pointed out that my sister could use the whole campship. My father would have none of it. He told the Campfire officials that if I was good enough to sell their candy, then I was good enough to go to their camp. He suggested that they let me come to their camp, and if I caused any problems, he would come and pick me up. I went off to camp and had a great time.
When I was twelve or thirteen years old, I told my mother I wanted her to teach me how to iron. She said that I could not do so because I might burn myself. I recognized that she believed my blindness prevented my learning. This made me angry. I went to my father and tried to get him to intervene, but this time he sided with my mother. One day when they had gone downtown, leaving my older sister in charge, I saw my opportunity. I told her that if she would show me how to iron, I would press all of her clothes. When my parents returned home, there I was, ironing. They never said another word about it.
We moved to Minnesota when I was twelve. There I attended the Minnesota Braille and Sight Saving School until I was a sophomore. That year I took half of my classes at the public high school. The next year I told my parents that I wanted to go to public school. Since we lived in Faribault, where the Braille School was located, the public school denied me entrance. They said that I would not be able to read the books in their library and that I would use all of my energy trying to find my way around the school. I would be too tired to study.
I wrote to my state senator and representative, my United States senator, and to the governor of the state. But they all wrote back to say that they were sorry but my problem was out of their jurisdiction. Since my parents had very little extra money, they could not afford to hire a lawyer. I wish I had known then about the National Federation of the Blind. When I was going through that struggle, I felt very alone. I didn't know that other blind people had similar problems. My parents heard that a Catholic school in Faribault (Bethelehem Academy) had enrolled deaf students since the public schools would not admit them either. My father and I went to Bethelehem Academy and persuaded the principal to admit me. My parents had eight children at the time and did not have the two hundred dollars for my tuition. That summer my mother went to work in the corn canning plant to earn enough for my tuition and uniform, and in the fall I entered Bethelehem Academy, where I was on the honor roll.
When I graduated from college, my rehabilitation counselor encouraged me to go to graduate school to become one myself. I resisted doing this because I wanted to get a job in social work, for which I had been trained. I think in the back of my mind I also wanted to know for a certainty that I could compete in something other than work with the blind.
Five years later I left Las Vegas where I had been working in a nursing home as a social worker and returned to Minnesota. I heard about a job opening in the Rochester district office of Minnesota State Services for the Blind, applied for it, and was hired. I decided to take that job because I knew that there are many blind people who have not had good opportunities and I wanted to help them have the chances I have had.
I realize that I was fortunate to have the parents I had, who taught me early in life that they had high expectations for me and that I could live a normal and productive life. That is my hope for all parents of blind children: that they will have high expectations for their children and that they will let them know they believe they can succeed.
by Angela Howard
From the Editor: There is nothing more rewarding than to help someone move from skepticism to faith when they think about the abilities of the blind. Angela’s story describes one such journey, and this is how it was introduced in the Kernel Book, To Reach for the Stars: A number of years ago Angela Howard was a winner of one of our scholarships. Today she is a graduate student in public policy at the University of Texas at Austin and active in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to change what it means to be blind. Her delightful story, Carol’s Compliment, shows that day-by-day we are making progress. Here is what she has to say:
As a blind person I have often been showered with compliments that, I have to admit, are not always deserved. My teachers, coworkers, and even family and friends do not always know much about the little tricks and techniques that blind people use to complete the tasks of everyday life; consequently I have too often been deemed amazing and wonderful for completing the simplest task. I do not take offense or respond negatively to these gestures, for I know that people mean well. However, I do have to take these exaggerated compliments with a grain of salt.
I was given a compliment a few years ago that I felt extremely proud to accept. I had taken yoga classes throughout college, and it became my favorite form of exercise. In fact I took the same yoga class with the same teacher for three years in college. I was comfortable with her teaching style, and she never seemed uneasy about having a blind person in her class.
So, when I spent a semester completing an internship in another city, I decided I would join a yoga class to help keep me in practice. I learned that a yoga studio was actually connected to my apartment building, and I immediately went down to the office to sign up for a thirteen-week course.
However, my first class proved to be quite a shock. I was not met with the same warmth that I had experienced in my college class. My new teacher Carol made it painfully clear that she would have preferred that I not be in her class. “I’m just really not sure how I can best teach you.” I assured her that I had taken yoga throughout college and that having me in the class would really not be a problem for her.
I gave her some tips for instructing me. For example, I told her that it would help if she used me as the example when she demonstrated a complicated pose to the class. This way I could learn the pose along with everyone else. I also encouraged her to give verbal descriptions as she taught so that I could get some of the information others were getting visually.
For the first few weeks it was apparent that Carol was still uncomfortable having me in the class. When we tried exercises in which we had to stand on one foot, she would insist that she stand next to me to make sure I didn’t fall. She clearly made a great distinction between the other students and me. But over the thirteen weeks of the class I noticed a gradual change in Carol’s attitude and behavior towards me.
She commented with surprise one day that my balance was no worse than anyone else’s in the class, and she no longer hovered over me as I completed poses that require balance. Slowly I felt that I was becoming just another member of the class. Toward the end of the course she paid so little attention to me that I sometimes had trouble flagging her down for assistance.
I still had one problem with which I usually needed assistance. Alignment is very important in yoga, and the other members of the class were taught to line themselves up using the squares outlined on the floor. However, there was no way for me to use this method. When doing poses, I would align myself as best I could, and Carol would nudge me in one direction or another if I were a little out of line.
One day, when I arrived at class, Carol met me with great excitement, “I have figured out a way for you to align yourself on the mat. I have put a strip of electrical tape along the middle of your mat that you can feel with your feet.” I thought this was a great idea, and I wished that I had been the one to suggest it at the start. Then she said, “Eventually I want you to be able to align yourself using only your own sense of space.” This seemed to be a rather high expectation, and I knew then that her attitude towards me had completely changed.
Carol stopped me as I was leaving on the last day of class. She said, “I have to admit that I was really reluctant to have you in my class. I just didn’t know what you would be able to do. I’m really sorry I felt that way because I think you could even be a yoga teacher one day, if you wanted to.” I responded that, because she had never known a blind person before, her feelings were understandable. Then she gave me one of the greatest compliments I have ever been given. She told me that she had researched blindness-related organizations on the Internet and asked me if I were a member of one. I told her that I am a member of the National Federation of the Blind. She said, “Yes, that was the one that stood out to me, and I thought it would be the one you would be a part of.”
My friends in the National Federation of the Blind continue to encourage me when I face misunderstanding about blindness. They hold higher expectations of me than anyone else in my life, and I try to live up to these expectations as best I can. I felt honored that someone could see the spirit of the National Federation of the Blind in me, and I hope that I will always live my life true to Carol’s compliment.
by Rose Sloan
From the Editor: We frequently find that people are surprised to learn that it is legal to pay blind people less than the minimum wage as we work to change this immoral and discriminatory practice. They are also surprised to learn that Goodwill, a not-for-profit they have trusted with many of their charitable gifts, takes advantage of this exemption and pays many of their workers below the federally guaranteed minimum. Interestingly, of the 165 Goodwill facilities that hire the disabled, 101 pay at least the minimum wage. The question we repeatedly ask is why sixty-four Goodwill workshops do not. We urge the facilities that are using the outdated practice of paying sub-minimum wages to follow the lead of Goodwill NNE as it strives to meet the needs of its disabled workers, while ensuring that each receives a fair wage. Here is its statement:
While we are a proud member of Goodwill Industries International, we make completely localized decisions, including the way Goodwill of Northern New England compensates all employees. Since 1996 it has been our policy and practice to always meet or exceed the minimum wage for our over 1,700 employees of all abilities in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
At Goodwill Industries of Northern New England (Goodwill NNE), our integrity revolves around how closely we adhere to our fundamental belief in the value of every human being and the ‘place’ where we live—the environment and the economy that brings structure to our communities.
As affirmed by Goodwill NNE’s Board of Directors in 2013, it is our policy and practice to always meet or exceed minimum wage for all our employees in Maine, New Hampshire, and northern Vermont. As we connect people who face diverse challenges to jobs in the marketplace, we ensure that they, too, are paid competitive wages, never less than the established minimum wage.
This practice is core to our principles–and is essential to the well-being of our employees and the communities where we all live.
We know that this is a local issue. Community-based organizations, including other Goodwills, practice based on their experiences and leadership. In 1996 Goodwill NNE ceased sub-minimum wage compensation within its employment opportunities.
This resolution formally affirms that Goodwill NNE supports public policy initiatives that align with our commitment to always meet or exceed minimum wage for all workers in our region.
by Megan Bening
From the Editor: This article is reprinted from the winter 2014 issue of the Minnesota Bulletin, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota. Many of us proudly credit our parents for helping us at critical times in our lives, but few have done so as articulately as Megan. I am uplifted by the quick thinking and creativity of her mother, and I am similarly moved by Megan’s written account and her thank you to her parents for helping and sometimes forcing her to be independent. Here is how this article was introduced by the editor of the Bulletin, Tom Scanlan:
Editor’s Note: This is the winner of the 2013 Metro Chapter essay contest. Megan and her parents are members of our Riverbend Chapter. Her mother, Jean Bening, is a board member of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, the parents division of the NFB. Here’s what Megan has to say:
In one of my earliest memories my mother is playing with me, pretending to chase me as I run back and forth across our lawn. Just as she is about to catch me for a kiss and a tickle, I veer crazily to avoid her grasp. I put on a burst of speed that I shouldn’t be capable of and lunge toward the door into the house. Before she can get to me or even shout a warning, I go sprawling face-first over my pedal car sitting next to the porch steps. Immediately she is there, holding me close as she kisses my face and dries my tears.
As soon as she has reassured herself that I am OK, she carries me to the middle of the yard and sets me back on my feet, giving me a gentle nudge forward to begin our game again. But something has been lost now: I have realized that I can’t see the obstacles in my path, and I am not about to let go of her. Gently, she puts her hands on my shoulders and tries to push me forward. But I am stubborn, and I know the dangers now. I am not about to be budged from the safety that her eyesight offers me.
As she continues to try to get me to play again, I begin to gear myself up for the mother of all tantrums. Before I can let out even one good scream, though, an odd smacking noise catches my attention. She is standing behind me, clapping her hands repeatedly. What can she be doing now? She takes my hands in hers and continues to clap them together as she gently but inexorably guides me first into a slow walk, then into a run. As I listen I begin to realize that I am hearing two claps: one as she guides my hands together and another as the sound comes echoing back to us. As she guides me back toward the house, I hear that the sound is changing. She takes the time to run me first toward and then away from obstacles, until I realize that, if I clap, I will hear the sounds around me and can avoid the obstacles without her intervention.
I am once again beginning to enjoy this game, starting to giggle as the tears dry on my face. Then, suddenly her hands are gone from my shoulders, and I am running on my own. I come to a stop, unsure how to proceed without her. She waits to see what I will do and then begins to clap her hands again. But she doesn’t reach out to me. And eventually, tentatively at first, I begin to run away from her.
At first she stays within arm’s reach of me, ready to grab me at the first sign of danger. But I have discovered the freedom of moving on my own with no fear, and I put more distance between us. She watches me giggle and run around her, always staying just out of her reach. She stands still and watches me move further away from her, confident for the first time in myself.
Years go by, and I am in first, then second, then third grade. One week my class has a substitute teacher. I am a good student and don’t cause any trouble, so she has no reason to single me out for any punishment. That is, until she gets a look at the class’s penmanship and assigns us some handwriting exercises. Without asking anyone, I decide that, because the class is using pencils and paper and I can’t see to do the exercises, I shouldn’t have to. The next morning when I show up for school empty-handed, the teacher sets me straight.
That night I come home crying to my parents, teacher’s note in hand. As usual, we don’t talk about the note until after we have eaten dinner. Finally, though, the moment of reckoning arrives.
“What is this about not being able to go out for recess because you didn’t do your homework?” Mom asks me. “Didn’t you tell us last night that you didn’t have any? You know you’re going to be grounded for this. You lied to us and you disobeyed your teacher, and that’s not OK. Do you have anything to say?”
Through my best wounded-martyr sniffles, I try to explain the situation. I cry about being absent-mindedly handed a printed sheet of paper and explain how the teacher didn’t take the time to make up a different assignment for me. I explain in my most logical grown-up tone of voice that I can’t possibly do an assignment when I can’t see the instructions and don’t know how to print. Righteously, convinced that I have won this round, I rest my case.
“Didn’t you tell me that you have a substitute this week?” Mom asks. I nod cautiously. “So she has never taught you before?” Another nod. “Then isn’t it safe to assume that she probably didn’t know you couldn’t do the assignment?” Grudgingly, this time I have to concede the point.
“Then it is your responsibility to tell her so. You have to work with your teacher to find another way to do the assignment. If you can’t figure out how to do that on your own, you ask your resource teacher or your Braillist to help you. But you do not get to choose to ignore an assignment without even trying to find a way to make the assignment accessible.”
I spend the rest of the night Brailling an apology letter to my teacher, which my mom then transcribes into print. Then, in glitter pen, she shows me how to print my signature at the bottom of the paper so that I can feel the lettering. The next morning I bring my finished letter to my teacher, along with the rest of my homework. She accepts my apology, and we go on with no hard feelings. I never see her again, but the lesson she and my parents taught me stays with me to this day. I grumbled about my homework incessantly, tried to avoid doing it whenever possible, but I never again tried to use my blindness as the excuse.
As I grow and become a young woman, we go through several more struggles. My parents and teachers take the time to coach me through fighting my own battles. I attend my Individual Education Plan meetings and my parents always, always make sure that I am given a say in my educational goals. I learn how to stand up for myself, how to respectfully contradict an authority figure when I know I am right, and how to appeal when I am unfairly punished. I also learn to refuse special treatment, to fight tooth and nail for every scrap of independence I can gain, and to relish a challenge and take pleasure in overcoming obstacles as they come my way.
Throughout high school I begin to look forward to going to college. In my mind it has become just another challenge to overcome. My parents take me to college fairs and chauffeur me around to check out different schools. I apply to two schools in Minnesota and to Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. I am surprised when I get into all three. Ultimately, I choose to stay close to home for my first year of school. My parents don’t say so at first, but I think they are vastly relieved.
Months pass in what seem like days, and before I know it, my parents are kissing me goodbye at the door of my dorm. They have given me everything I need to succeed in the world without them. I have the tools to face this challenge head-on and come out on top. I fought to get here, and I will continue to fight to stay here. I smile at them and blow them a kiss as I turn and walk away, stepping into the first day of the rest of my life.
Now, I realize how hard it must have been for my parents to raise me the way they did. Given the news that their child was permanently blind and offered no solutions to the endless questions in their minds, my parents could have easily given up hope. But instead, they actively sought the answers to their questions. They kept looking until they found someone who told them “Yes, she can!” They set me on my own two feet and stepped back, even when it meant I got some bumps and bruises on the way. They realized that I needed to find my own way in the world far more than I needed them to swoop me up and protect me from all harm.
Today, as I journey further into adulthood, I am more grateful with each passing day that my parents never let me take the easy way out. They loved me too much to see me settle for less than I was capable of. Today, I can look at a problem, and where others say, “She can’t,” I respond with, “Watch me!” And their skepticism drives me to work even harder to succeed. By allowing me to stand on my own and to grow as a person instead of smothering and protecting me at every turn, my parents gave me the greatest gift they could have—the gift of independence.
Making a charitable gift can be one of the most satisfying experiences in life. Each year millions of people contribute their time, talent, and treasure to charitable organizations. When you plan for a gift to the National Federation of the Blind, you are not just making a donation; you are leaving a legacy that insures a future for blind people throughout the country. Special giving programs are available through the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).
Points to Consider When Making a Gift to the National Federation of the Blind
Benefits of Making a Gift to the NFB
Your Gift Will Help Us
by Mark Riccobono
From the Editor: The tenth anniversary of the opening of the Jernigan Institute occurred on Thursday, January 30, 2014. Mark Riccobono wrote a piece to commemorate this milestone and published it in the blog that chronicles much of our work at the Jernigan Institute. Here is what he wrote:
In October 2003 I came to interview for a job with the NFB. I remember that my interview with NFB President Marc Maurer was on a Sunday because that was the only day I could come to Baltimore. It was quiet at the NFB offices. When we finished our formal discussion, Dr. Maurer asked if I would like to take a walk around the new part of the building—we referred to it as the Research and Training Institute at that time. Before our walk Dr. Maurer cautioned me that the building was still under construction.
I had been listening to leaders of the Federation talk about the programs we would establish in this new facility for almost five years by that point. In fact, very early into our capital campaign to raise the funds for our institute, I dove into the middle of the speculation about what we would do with this new resource. I graduated from college just before the fundraising began (1999) and immediately made a pledge, which I doubled after the first year as my understanding of the initiative grew. The August/September 2000 issue of the Braille Monitor recounts the presentations of a number of contributors to the capital campaign at that time. These remarks are documented in the article “Creating Our Own Future,” and my address is summed up by these lines: “[I] pointed out that the first step of this campaign of action is finished. It is the original conception of the Institute. We are now the army charged with building the facility. The tools we bring to the job are our minds and our pledges. The third step will be to dream up and execute the Institute programs that will accomplish what needs to be done to bring about the changes that must occur for blind people to reach full participation as first-class citizens.”
I had no part in the first, conceptual phase of the campaign. Those ideas were already being considered in one fashion or another when I came to be part of the Federation in 1996. I was right in the middle of the second phase and planned to do all that I could to make it a success. I had not really thought about the third phase and how I would contribute until that quiet day in October.
As Dr. Maurer led me through the partly finished interior of our new building—navigating around ladders, wires, and other construction-related debris that we did not take time to investigate—he described what parts of the building would be and how we might use them. The beautiful twelve-thousand-square-foot Members Hall was an echoing, bare, concrete-floor room that felt more warehouse than dynamic meeting space, but Dr. Maurer painted a verbal picture of what we might do to inspire the nation from that room. The third-floor space that now houses our Jacobus tenBroek Library and Independence Market seemed like a cold den of snakes, in the form of random wires hanging from the walls and sometimes underfoot. Yet Dr. Maurer described a library of our creation, telling the stories of the blind through the decades of the Federation and the untold accomplishments of the blind before that time. I had not understood how much capacity I had to contribute to that third phase of development until I took that walk around our still-unfinished building and heard our visionary leader describe his dreams for our new space.
Three months later we opened the doors to our new building. January 30, 2004, was an extremely cold day in Baltimore. The streets had just barely been cleared from a good snowfall earlier in the week. The new building radiated with warmth as members of the Federation and friends from around the world enjoyed the celebration of our transition into the execution phase of our Jernigan Institute. I can still feel the anticipation in the air and recall the exciting speculations that filled the conversations that evening. In many ways, even after ten years, the feeling has not waned, and the conversations are no less exciting.
Reflecting on a decade of execution in phase three of our plan to build our own future, I am amazed how fast it has gone and how much it has transformed our dreams. I also reflect on a question Dr. Maurer often puts to us after we have completed another project or launched another initiative—has it changed society more or has it changed us more?
As I remember where we started and observe where we are today, the relationship between the broader society and our own dreams and expectations as blind people is evident. I can say with confidence—about my own life and the blind people who have invested their energy, imagination, and resources to executing the transformation of our dreams—that we have changed more. Our expectations are raised, our determination has been strengthened, our imagination has broadened, and our energy to take on the next big challenge is renewed. In turn it is that spirit that influences the society around us and changes the nature of the way we are included in the fabric of our communities. If I have learned anything from our accomplishments during these ten years, it is that in fact you cannot change society without first being invested and prepared to change yourself. As they say, “I am all in!”
When I think about the next decade of our organization and the programs that will spring from our NFB Jernigan Institute, I recognize that our success is entirely dependent on our readiness to invest in our dreams. On this anniversary I am committing to reinvest my energy, imagination, and resources to the next decade of our work in the NFB. I am dreaming of what is next, and I am eager to hear the dreams of my blind brothers and sisters across the country.
While we pause to celebrate our tenth anniversary, I am reminded of the Wall of Honor that bears the names of the many contributors to the second phase of our Jernigan Institute—the fundraising phase to secure the resources necessary for construction. Although these words describe those who contributed to the second phase, I believe they are adequate to describe those contributing to the execution of our work today: the members of the NFB. As you consider the text from our Wall of Honor, I ask you to commit to invest in the building of our dreams and to share with us what your dreams are for our future as blind people.
Text from the NFB Jernigan Institute Wall of Honor:
Believing in ourselves, recognizing our capacity to construct our own future, accepting the responsibility to shape the destiny of the blind today and in the decades to come, forging a climate to foster the possibilities for true equality for the blind, understanding the need to collaborate with our blind and sighted colleagues in forming a future filled with opportunity: all of this is the dream embodied by the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute.
We offer possibilities to those who believed there were none; we give hope to those who are without it. The hands that have built this building have changed the nature of the future for us all.
by Cayte Mendez
From the Editor: This article is a great find and one it is my pleasure to reprint from the winter 2014 issue of Future Reflections. One question I get over and over again is whether blind people can really find jobs after completing their college education and particularly whether the blind can work in the teaching profession with sighted students. This article answers these questions quite satisfactorily. Here is how it was introduced to readers of Future Reflections: Cayte Mendez teaches a class of twenty-two first-grade students at a public school in the Bronx and serves as president of the National Organization of Blind Educators. She received her bachelor's degree in linguistics and Asian studies from Cornell and her master's degree in education from Pace University. At the 2012 NFB convention she was honored with the Distinguished Blind Educator of the Year Award. Here’s what Cayte has to say:
Even now, thirty years later, my mother likes to tell the story of the day I ran into the tree in the middle of our front yard. She and my father are legally blind, college-educated professionals, so when I was born with congenital cataracts and developed glaucoma at an early age, they had a pretty good idea of the challenges I would face. They made sure I received the best in terms of early intervention services, put a cane in my hand at age three, and waged an almighty battle with the district where I attended elementary school to ensure that I was given adequate Braille instruction. As a kid I went horseback riding, mountain climbing, canoeing, and go-cart driving (thanks to my little sister who rode behind me, shouting directions into my ear). But of all the stories of my early accomplishments and hijinks, the one about the tree is still my mother's favorite.
I was only two and a half when the incident occurred, and to be perfectly honest, I don't remember it at all. According to my mom, we had just arrived home from a walk-through of the house my parents had recently purchased. Mom lifted me out of the car and turned to speak to the friend who was driving. I took advantage of my momentary freedom to bolt across the lawn--and collided headlong with the trunk of a large maple tree! The way Mom tells it, I was running so fast that I literally bounced off the trunk and landed soundly on my rear. Mom expected me to start bawling, but I just sat there for a minute, looking stunned. Then I picked myself up and kept right on going. Mom always adds here that, as many times as I zoomed across the lawn after that, I never again crashed into that tree.
My mother loves to use this story as an example. She says it always reminds her that children don't enter life afraid to take risks or unwilling to try again when they fall down. She never wanted me to lose that resilience as I grew older. Even recalled secondhand, this incident has played a large part in shaping my approach to life in general and to my career in particular. As a young adult making my first major educational and social decisions, I was still that little girl tearing full-speed across the lawn. I studied abroad in England and Japan. I learned to ice skate and tandem bike ride with sighted friends. When it was time for me to look for a job, I chose to take the risk of moving several hundred miles away from my parents' home in the tiny suburb of a small city. I took up residence in the Bronx, where I became a kindergarten teacher in a school serving high-need students, over 90 percent of whom received free lunch every day due to economic hardship.
I didn't go to college with the idea of becoming a teacher. As a freshman at Cornell University, I started out taking political science courses along with my Japanese classes. My plan was eventually to seek work with the State Department. Then, midway through the year, I took a linguistics class, discovered the study of language for its own sake, and fell in love. For the next three years my goal was to get my PhD and become a professor.
Then, one afternoon in the spring of 2005, a pair of teachers made a brief presentation in my Philosophy of Language class. They were representatives of Teach for America (TFA), an organization that places college graduates with backgrounds in a range of disciplines as teachers in failing schools for a commitment of two years. The organization's mission is to help close the achievement gap in America's schools. I was so inspired by the motivation, dedication, and professionalism of these teachers that I decided to put my plans for a master’s degree and subsequent doctorate on hold. I would apply to have the opportunity to teach some of this nation's most at-risk kids.
TFA screens applicants through a rigorous process, and once accepted to the program, candidates have only a partial say in where they are placed throughout the country. I took care to include only big cities with comprehensive public transportation systems on my preference sheet. I was determined to be as independent as possible. I didn't want to end up in a place where I would be forced to take paratransit or hire a driver to get everywhere I wanted to go.
After graduation I received word that I would be joining the corps in New York City. I immediately began to go on job interviews. All that summer I traveled to school after school with my guide dog, Yogi, meeting with principals and hiring committees. Sometimes they asked me specific questions about how I could be an effective teacher as a blind person; sometimes they didn't. But as the other five hundred prospective teachers in my cohort were hired, I began to realize just how much of a liability my blindness was perceived to be by these potential employers, whether they acknowledged it or not. Could I manage a classroom and keep students safe on the playground? What about testing and keeping track of student data? How would it work having a dog in the classroom? What about all the aesthetic considerations—bulletin boards and charts and labels . . . the list of concerns was endless.
My life experiences up to this point had taught me to be confident in my strengths and resilient when facing challenges. By the end of August, however, after more than a dozen interviews, when I was the only new teacher out of my incoming group of over five hundred who still had not been placed in a school, I was ready to curl up in a ball and call it quits. What good were my Ivy League education, my proficiency in three languages, my various extracurricular successes, when no one believed I could do the work I had chosen to pursue? I even went so far as to start attending interviews without my guide dog in an attempt to appear "less blind" and to take at least that one consideration off the table. I had smacked hard into the solid obstacle that is the general misconception about what it means to be blind. I really wasn't sure I had it in me to keep pushing forward in an attempt to get past what seemed to be an impenetrable wall.
In early September two things happened pretty much simultaneously that forced me to pick myself up and keep going. First, my parents, who had been endlessly supportive during my previous three months of frustration and self-doubt, told me point-blank that moving back home and finding a filler job until I could go to graduate school wasn't going to be an option. I had chosen to make this two-year commitment, and I was going to see it through, no matter what. I know for a fact that this was not an easy stance for them to take, but they knew that the only way for me to restore my confidence and faith in my abilities was to keep pushing forward, not to turn tail and run home where it was safe. Second, one of the principals I had interviewed with earlier in the summer contacted the TFA placement coordinator who had been handling my interviews. He said he would be willing to take me on in a trial capacity, since I didn't have a site to report to on the first day of school. I was to be given a co-teacher position on a trial basis, until either he decided to take me on permanently, or I found another position elsewhere.
On the Tuesday after Labor Day I reported to a public school way out at the end of the #6 subway line and was told I would be teaching kindergarten with a thirty-year veteran named Mary. I was torn between humiliation at being forced into a co-teaching position, instead of being allowed to have my own classroom, and relief that at least I had found an opportunity to get my foot in the door. Now came a new set of challenges—convincing not only my principal, but also my new colleagues, and the parents of my students that I could be as effective a teacher as anybody else.
Luckily for me, Mary was supposed to be undertaking the role of English as a Second Language teacher at our school that year, and she didn't really want to be co-teaching either. With her help I quickly established my own routines, procedures, and practices, and by mid-October I had proven myself capable of taking charge of my own classroom. However, even this victory was limited. One morning my principal called me down to his office and informed me that, for legal and safety reasons, although I would be the undisputed classroom teacher, I was to be given an assistant, called a paraprofessional, as a reasonable accommodation. I could have protested this decision, could have asserted that this "accommodation" was neither reasonable nor necessary; but to be honest, at that point I was so grateful to have been given a classroom that I made the decision not to fight that particular battle. It helped that in New York City, where kindergarten class sizes reach twenty-five students or more, it is far from uncommon to have a paraprofessional working with the teacher, be she sighted or otherwise. I chose to view this development as a windfall. An extra pair of hands? Terrific! This would mean more support for my students, most of whom were entering school at an educational disadvantage, due to low literacy levels within the community and a lack of early learning support.
Nearly ten years have passed since my first day in the classroom, unsure, untried, and untrusted. I fulfilled my commitment to Teach for America in the spring of 2007. Long before that I had decided not to return to academia, which had been my original career plan. Instead, I chose to get a master's degree in education and remain in the Bronx, continuing to teach my kids. Once again, I was off and running, confident in my skills and unafraid of the obstacles that might arise to knock me flat. After eight years teaching kindergarten, this past spring I decided to try something new. In September I moved up with my most recent group of students, and I am now midway through my first year as a first-grade teacher.
What about all of the concerns voiced by that dozen or so principals who interviewed me? Exactly what does the classroom look like with me, a blind teacher, in charge? How do I teach kids to read print when I myself am a Braille reader? What about the data? What about the dog?
Managing a classroom as a blind person requires structure and discipline. But then again, I would argue that any kind of adequate classroom management requires these attributes. It helps immeasurably to put in time at the beginning of each school year establishing a classroom culture of mutual respect and consideration.
Assigning seats helps—this was true even in my kindergarten room, which had work tables instead of desks. Keeping students with personality conflicts or tendencies toward distraction separate improved the learning environment for everyone. At the same time it made it easier for me to pinpoint misbehavior, since I knew who was sitting where. When lining up to travel through the school building or on field trips, my students walk with partners in size-place order. This is a fairly standard practice for the lower grades at my school, and again, because I know where each student is in the line, I can easily pinpoint talkers or hear when shenanigans are going on. My ears are my best asset—when students are seated too far away for me to see them clearly, I constantly monitor their activity by listening in. I seldom sit down or stop moving around the room, unless I am either teaching a whole group lesson in the meeting area or am working with a small group. I have actually developed a reputation as one of the strongest managers at my school. On several occasions students who were having behavior challenges in other rooms have been switched into my class, with the idea that my classroom culture of orderly routines and well-established expectations would improve their behavior!
My guide dog, whom several prospective principals cited as a source of concern, turned out to be almost a non-issue. When we got to school each morning, he would lie down behind my easel and promptly go to sleep. I always kept him in harness as a visual reminder to my students that he was not a pet and therefore was not to be touched. He was out of their way, although they could see him. I don't think I ever had to speak to a student about trying to pet or distract him. I never made a big deal about it with the kids, and they never really seemed to take much notice. When walking around the school building, which for me was a familiar environment, I usually left him sleeping, and on field trip days I used a cane. This choice had more to do with the crowded conditions of the school buses and my need to have both hands free to carry materials than with any desire not to make my dog a factor in my classroom.
Handling the aspects of teaching related to visual displays of information proved more of a challenge than I had expected. As a person with very limited vision, I had never really understood how much information sighted people absorb by looking at environmental print. I had never been able to see the bulletin boards and charts in my classes at school, so it came as an unpleasant surprise when my principal called me out for not having the right kind of anchor charts and print resources on the walls in my room. The situation was complicated by the fact that, at our school, the expectation is that all charts and resources should be made by the teacher with the kids, the thought being that these materials will be more meaningful to student learning than store-bought paraphernalia.
Through trial and error and no small amount of frustration, I finally worked out a system that meets both my students' needs and my professional obligations. Most of the time I use the electronic white board in my classroom to help my students create anchor charts. Employing a screen reader and key commands, I can use Microsoft Word just as I do on my laptop. Everything I type is displayed on the board, where my students can see it and can contribute to the process. When the chart is complete, I print it out. Either I give the sheet to my paraprofessional to copy onto lined chart paper, or I take it upstairs to the poster-making machine on the third floor, which will enlarge the material to an appropriate size for a classroom display.
And then of course there is student data. Each year it seems that there are more tests, more benchmarks, more notes to take, and more numbers to crunch. When I started teaching, all of this information had to be recorded on paper, which caused me no end of frustration. Even using a CCTV, I simply couldn't work quickly enough in print to get everything filled out on time. It got so ridiculous that I was literally typing all my data into a table and giving it to my para to copy onto the approved forms provided by the school—a colossal waste of my time and hers. Within the past few years, though, the use of spreadsheets and other forms of electronic documentation has become more widespread. Also, for the purposes of reporting data within the school, my administration has given me the green light to create my own spreadsheets and data forms and to attach them to any inaccessible paper forms, as long as the format is comparable. These changes have made it significantly easier for me to collect and report the important data I need to track my students' progress throughout the school year.
As for teaching print-reading as a Braille user, there is really no one-size-fits-all solution. I have had to get a bit creative to figure out what works best. My residual vision is good for some things, but not for everything. As often as possible I buy, download, or create Braille copies of the books I read to my kids. Sometimes it can be a challenge to make sure that the page numbers match up with the corresponding print pages so that my students can see the pictures. I have made my CCTV a part of my classroom meeting area so that, if I need to, I can do a quick comparison. The CCTV is also useful when I can't obtain a Braille copy of the text. I can pop a print book under the CCTV and read it that way. This method has turned out to have an unexpected positive side effect. As I read the words enlarged on the screen, my students can read along with me, which gives them an additional print experience—and they can never have too many of those!
What about writing and math? I will admit that teaching in the lower grades to some extent makes the challenge of accessing student work easier for me, because they tend to write with large letters and numbers. But what's also great about young children—they don't balk at adaptation! One of the norms I set in place each September is that, from time to time, they may need to alter the way they do things to accommodate my blindness. If a student writes something I can't read or puts down a number I can't make out, I ask him or her to read it back letter by letter or digit by digit. Because I work hard to establish a culture of trust and respect in my classroom, students know that, when I ask them clarifying questions about their work, I am seeking to help them make it better, not trying to call them out or embarrass them.
Once again, it's the lesson of the maple tree. I work every day to help my students learn the value of perseverance, resilience, and flexibility. So you made a mistake. Great! First, how can you fix it? Now, what did you learn about how to avoid making this same mistake in the future? It's the academic equivalent of not bursting into tears when you fall on your backside in the grass. Get up, shake off the dirt, and keep on going.
Despite the challenges, I can't imagine wanting to do anything other than teach. There is absolutely no feeling in the world better than the one you get as you watch children learn and grow, knowing you were an integral part of the process. It has taken me years to establish myself as an equally respected member of my school community, but every day has been worth the fight against access issues and misconceptions about blindness. Last year my principal invited me to be the project manager of our school's data committee. Over the past few years she has also invited me to accompany her to several district-wide meetings to share some of the progressive work our early childhood classes are undertaking. And this fall, when my para was absent for two weeks due to medical concerns, my administration did not even consider hiring a sub! It was clear that I had established myself, and that finally, finally, there was no doubt about whether I could really be a teacher.To any young blind person considering a career in education, I would say this: expect to run headlong into misunderstandings, mistrust, and misgivings. You are almost certain to get knocked down emotionally at some point during the process of achieving your goal. But when that happens, as tempting as it may be to sit in the grass and cry, get up, brush yourself off, and keep on pursuing that classroom. It will all be worth it in the end.
by Jasmine Hunt
From the Editor: Jasmine Hunt is a member of the Keystone Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania and the coordinator of the NFB-NEWSLINE® service there. The Saint Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments is located in Philadelphia, and the Keystone Chapter works hard to see that the children from this school have good role models, extra-curricular activities, and some much-appreciated presents at Christmastime. Here’s what Jasmine has to say:
Keystone Chapter members of the NFB of Pennsylvania acted as Santa’s helpers, delivering loads of presents during the Christmas season to the campus of Saint Lucy Day School and Archbishop Ryan Academy for the Deaf in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Teachers and staff kept the gifts safe until the big day, scheduled for the last day of school before the students’ winter break. On that special December morning chapter members met at the large brick building and greeted the young students with smiles and merry Christmas wishes, some of the students being BELL participants and active chapter members. Meanwhile, students brought in doughnuts, cookies, and other treats to offer the NFB guests and share with friends. As the students filed into the chapel, caroling commenced and sounds of little drummer boys and red-nosed reindeers filled the air. With the guidance of the NFB volunteers, students from first grade and beyond maneuvered with their white canes and located their respective aisles and seats.
Then, coming down the hallway, there arose such a clatter, and the children all wondered what was the matter. Jingle bells rang as someone came quick, hushed whispers around the room swore it was Saint Nick! Santa entered with a “Ho, ho, ho!” And his huge, bulky bag (thanks to the NFB of Pennsylvania helpers) and excitement circled the room with all the students on the edge of their seats. Each listened with intense interest as Santa spoke about generosity and faith and the true meaning of Christmas.
Then, one-by-one, Santa called out all the names from his “nice” list—each student was handed a personalized gift chosen for them and donated by chapter members and local service agencies. Through such agencies, the NFB of Pennsylvania members help teach the public what gifts are sensible and functional for blind, deaf, and deaf-blind elementary school students.
Each student was instructed to wait patiently to open their gift until everyone had received their presents. The students returned to their seats, handling their presents with care and eagerly waiting for the instant they could rip open the wrapping paper. Finally, Santa announced that fateful moment, and the room erupted with exuberant paper tearing, shrieks of surprise, and fits of laughter. The teachers, staff, and Keystone members joined in with smiles and amusement, enjoying the benefits of a job well done at Santa’s workshop this year.
The longtime tradition of volunteerism, kindness, and educational support between both institutions and the NFB of Pennsylvania doesn’t stop with Christmas presents but continues with the Braille Carnival, promotion of the Braille Readers are Leaders contest, and a consistent flow of volunteers for tutoring in Braille, spelling, and cane usage. Each NFB of Pennsylvania member works hand-in-hand with both staff and students to promote awareness and independence.The NFB of Pennsylvania and both schools partner in several events throughout the year to support the children in understanding their common bond with blind adults as well as informing the public about the needs of blind students. It is the willingness of blind adults to help make this difference that brought Santa to school for these deserving children this Christmas.
by Justin Salisbury
From the Editor: Justin Salisbury is a doctoral student in Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from Connecticut, he earned his bachelor's degree at East Carolina University and then attended the Louisiana Center for the Blind. He has been active in our movement everywhere he has lived. Here’s what Justin has to say:
The science of economics is the allocation of scarce resources to achieve maximum well-being. All finite resources, including air and sunlight, are considered scarce. One characteristic in economics which helps define the type of good is whether or not the good is rival. If a good is rival, one person’s consumption of it restricts another person’s ability to consume it. For example, if I buy an NFB of New Jersey Whozit necktie, there is one fewer Whozit necktie available for you to buy. If I eat a banana, that banana is gone, and it is most unlikely that anyone else will ever be able to eat it.
At the banquet of the 2013 National Federation of the Blind Convention, President Marc Maurer said, “One misunderstanding about the nature of power is that this commodity is finite, limited in quantity, and shared only by the fortunate few. To get power it is (according to some) necessary to seize it from the hands of others.”
Someone with this misguided philosophy views power as rival. Such a person would say that, if I exercise power, there is less power available for you or your neighbor to exercise. If I exercise power, someone who views power as rival would view me as a threat to her own power.
In the National Federation of the Blind, we work together to enhance each other’s ability to exercise power and thus empower each other. Whenever I read an article or hear a speech delivered by another Federation leader, I am learning how to do better work myself. When Trevor Attenberg writes a brilliant letter, I get out my dictionary and absorb a masterly articulation of the capacity of blind people, or a new approach to conflict resolution. I can then use those techniques to enhance my power, and Trevor’s exercise of power actually adds to mine. It does not subtract from it. This experience provides a counterexample and argues that power is non-rival.
I now serve as legislative coordinator and first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin (NFBW) and president of our Dane County Chapter. NFBW President John Fritz always supports and encourages my efforts. His support and encouragement empower me further, and any power that I have adds to the power of our affiliate. As our affiliate grows more powerful, the power of each affiliate member in turn increases. When we empower each other, we empower ourselves, too.
By contrast, someone who views power as rival might think he has an incentive to try to undercut and undermine the potential for power in anyone else who might exercise it. Such a person could try to break apart every other power structure in his/her affiliate in order to keep all of the power around him/herself. Such a person would weaken the organization and therefore weaken him/herself.
Though power is not rival, titles frequently are. There is only one president of the Connecticut Association of Blind Students (CTABS). As long as I am CTABS President, nobody else can also be CTABS President.
There is often a view that power intrinsically lies within titles. Some believe that a president is powerful, at least in part, because she is president. She has acquired the rival title of president and is thus powerful. If this were true, then it would also mean that people without titles automatically have less power. If we accept this idea, then we are disempowering ourselves so long as we do not hold the top title in the organization in question. The less power we have, the less power the organization has, the less effective the organization will be, and the less power each member has. If we disempower ourselves, we disempower our presidents, executive directors, and the like.If we want our movement to be powerful, we need to recognize that we all have power as individuals and that power is non-rival. A transformational leader is an agent of change, so every Federationist is a transformational leader. A leader is powerful to the degree that he empowers others, so we must empower each other, titles or not, to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind.
by Susan Povinelli
From the Editor: This article is reprinted from the winter 2014 issue of The Focus, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama. This is an excellent review of an equally excellent application for the family of iOS products. Here is Susan’s article:
The Library of Congress released its BARD Mobile app last fall. For me it has simplified the downloading process and has become my favorite app. I can quickly search for books and download directly to my iPhone. No longer do I have to download the zipped files to my computer, unzip them, and upload them to my Victor Stream before I can read them. What a bother.
Here is some guidance on getting started. Once you have installed the app from the App Store and entered in your current password, you are ready to find books and read. There are four tabs at the bottom of your screen. They are (left to right): “Bookshelf,” “Get Books,” “Settings,” and “Now Reading.”
The first thing we need to do is to find a book to download. Double-tap on the “Get Books” tab. The choices inside that tab are “Wish list,” “Recently added titles,” “Audio books,” “Audio magazines,” “Braille books,” “Braille magazines,” “BARD website,” and “Browse BARD.” If you don’t have a book in mind, double-tap on “Recently added titles.” Then double-tap on audio books. This will bring up a list of books added in the last thirty days. You can move through the list by right-flicking. Following each title is a “More info” button; double-tap the “More info” button. It will display the book title, author, annotation, narrator, total time, book number, and a “Download” button. Double-tap the back button to go back to the book list if you don’t want this book.
Once you find the book you want, double-tap the “Download” button. The app will announce that it is downloading the book and the percentage of the download that has been completed. When downloading is complete, a chime will ring, and you must then dismiss the message by double-tapping on the “OK” button.
Double-tap the “Audio book back” button and return to the list to search for another book. If you know the title or the author, double-tap on “Browse BARD.” Right-flick to find the text field, double-tap in the text field to activate, then type your title, author, or subject. Double-tap the “Done” button. Double-tap the “Go” button. This will bring up the number of Braille and audio books that contain your search terms. Double-tap on audio books, and a list of books will appear. Right-flick until you find the book you want. Each book offers two choices. Right-flick to “Add to my wish list” for future reading, or to the “Download” button to download. Of course, flicking does not activate the button; you must do a double-tap to press it.
Now that you have downloaded the books you wish to read, it is time to read them. Double-tap “Bookshelf,” right-flick to “Audio books,” double-tap and a list of books will appear. Double-tap the book title you wish to read. You then will be on the “Now reading” page. Select the play button. You can stop reading by double-tapping on the “Stop” button.
Once you have completed the book, you can delete it by going to “Bookshelf,” double-tap the edit button, right-flick until you get to the desired book, flick upward. It will say “Delete.” Double-tap and the book will be selected for deleting. Double-tap on the “Done” button.
An excellent tutorial for using this app can be found on YouTube at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLzZvPdJ7dU>. I hope you find the time to read all the books you found. It seems I add more books to my bookshelf than I finish.
by Chelsey Duranleau
From the Editor: Following graduation from college, Chelsey Duranleau attended the adjustment to blindness program at BLIND, Inc., in Minneapolis. She decided to stay in Minneapolis upon completion of the program. She plans to obtain a graduate degree in social work and to work with Spanish-speaking clients. Chelsey is active with the Metro Chapter of the NFB of Minnesota and was recently elected secretary of the Minnesota Association of Blind Students. This article originally appeared in the winter 2013 issue of the Student Slate. Here is what Chelsey has to say:
On a cold, snowy night in January 2009, I fastened my seatbelt as instructed. The captain came over the loudspeaker, announcing in a pleasant English accent that all electronic devices needed to be powered down. After the last few cell phones had chimed and last-minute seatbelts had been clicked into place, we slowly pulled back down the runway. “It's really happening,” I thought. “I'm really going to a country that I have wanted to visit since I was in the sixth grade!” But this would be more than just a visit as a tourist—I would be living there, living and breathing the Spanish culture and lifestyle for almost four months.
As the runway disappeared beneath us, my mind became flooded with questions. How will I access my textbooks? Will I be able to get worksheets and assignments in the appropriate formats? How will I learn to navigate a strange city? What happens if I get lost?
Admittedly, the answers to the first three questions were still unclear. However, thanks to a fellow Federationist I met at the 2008 national convention, I knew the answer to question four. What if I get lost? He said, "It's okay to get lost, and you will get lost; it has happened to everyone. The trick is to take a step back, acknowledge that you are lost and that you need help, and then ask for it."
“Of course!” I thought. It really is that simple. That is self-advocacy. As blind people we want to be as independent as possible. We want to have the power to make decisions about our lives and about what is best for us. Part of this power is having the confidence to ask for assistance when necessary and to follow through with our commitment in order to get what we desire or to achieve a goal.
These concepts never rang so true for me as when I studied abroad in Seville, Spain. To sum it up in one phrase, Seville is the perfect city to get lost in—not to mention testing your mobility skills if you are a cane user. The streets are narrow and seem to flow into one another. There are plenty of parked cars, mopeds, and motorcycles lining side streets and sometimes blocking the Spanish equivalent of a sidewalk. My entire experience in Spain was a test of my self-advocacy skills.
I informed all of my professors at my school that I would need my textbooks and assignments in Microsoft Word so I could read them independently using JAWS. Since it was a small school and I was the only blind student, my professors and other faculty members were easily able to scan materials into a computer and convert them to Word so I could access them. It is much easier for me to read Spanish in Braille, so I contacted ONCE, a national organization made up of blind and sighted volunteers, to obtain a Braille copy of a novel I needed to read for a Spanish literature class. I contacted ONCE before I arrived in Spain, asking them if they would assist me. After signing some forms and providing copies of my passport and other necessary documents to the ONCE office, I was shown landmarks that I could use while navigating the central section of the city. If I wanted to go somewhere new, I asked my host family for directions if it was within walking distance. When I got lost, I remembered the advice I had received the previous summer. I stopped, calmed down, and asked someone for directions.
My curiosity seemed to have no bounds. Almost every time I walked anywhere I would get lost, but that didn't stop me. I was determined to go where I wanted to go and do what I needed and wanted to do.
When going into a store, I asked for assistance finding what I needed. The more I spoke up, the more comfortable I became speaking and thinking in Spanish. As my confidence and commitment to advocating for myself grew, so did my curiosity.
In April, during a week off from school, I decided to take a trip to Morocco with Discover Sevilla, a local travel agency for tourists that organizes group excursions. I was nervous, because at the time I didn't know anyone who was going, but I knew this would be the chance of a lifetime. For six days we drove across Morocco, stopping in Rabat, Fez, and other cities to explore and spend the day. The culmination of this trip was a ride by camel through the Sahara; we would sleep under the stars in an oasis.
I was more than a little excited, but one of our guides had some reservations about my riding a camel because of my blindness. "We'll just have you ride in the car," he said. "I think that would be easier and safer for you."
I laughed to myself and thought, “Have you ever met me? This girl doesn't limit herself because of society's misconceptions or because another option might be easier.” I insisted that I would be fine, and that something could happen to any other member of our group as well. Part of the reason I wanted to go on this trip was to ride a camel through the desert, and that was what I planned on doing. Eventually, the guide gave in, and I spent the next two hours getting pelted by sand as our caravans made their way to where we would spend the night.
After we arrived at the oasis, a bunch of us decided that it would be fun to climb a giant sand dune and do some sand boarding. After all, what else is there to do in the desert? It was a hard climb, but with a little determination and encouragement from a new friend, eventually I made it to the top. It felt incredible! At that moment, as I looked over the edge, covered in sand and sweat, I realized just how far I had come since leaving the US.
This was far from the end of my travels abroad. During the 2011-2012 school year, I returned to Spain to work as an assistant English teacher in an elementary school in Palma de Mallorca. Although working with fully-sighted children was challenging and frustrating at times, it allowed me to exercise my creativity. I tried to complement and reinforce what they were learning from their classroom teachers with fun and engaging activities such as playing games or incorporating popular songs into their lessons. Not only was I helping children improve their English, but I was also serving a very different and perhaps more significant purpose: that of a role model and a representative of the National Federation of the Blind, an organization that has helped me overcome my own negative attitudes and misconceptions surrounding blindness. I would not have had the courage to study abroad or return to Spain two years later if it hadn't been for the valuable encouragement and support I received from my NFB family. The most important lesson I have learned from my involvement with the NFB has been that my blindness is a small part of who I am, just like my eye or hair color; it does not define me or limit my dreams of an independent, happy, and fulfilling life.
As blind people we must be our own advocates and work together to break down negative attitudes and assumptions imposed on us by the sighted society in which we live. Remember, you are the best and most important advocate you have. You know yourself better than anyone else does. There will be obstacles as you walk through the narrow streets of life. There will be giant sand dunes, and you may fall on your way up. But keep going, keep climbing, and you will reach the top.
by Kim Tindal
From the Editor: Kim Tindal is a member of the East Hartford chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut. Before going blind Kim owned and directed a funeral home, and in this article she describes how traumatic she found going blind to be and how determined she was to find the independence she had lost. Here is her story:
Perhaps there is nothing more disorienting than losing your vision. The world is turned upside down. The independence once taken for granted is shattered and falls to the floor; one’s previous existence seems as distant as another life. The problem is that it isn't one or two things that need to be relearned; it’s everything. Going to the fridge to get a glass of milk used to be something I could do half asleep; after I lost my vision it became a multi-step process, and any error meant I found myself standing, lost in a house I'd lived in for years.
I felt like my opportunities had become extremely limited and that everything I wanted to do was made impossible because I could no longer see. Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like, I wondered?
When I lost my vision, I began to hear of blind people who were managing fine. At the time, imagining that I could be one of those people struck me as almost beyond belief. I've never been a person who would give up easily. When the loss had settled on me so that opening my eyes in the morning was no longer devastating, I realized what I needed was training in how to be blind. If there were independent blind people, I knew I could be one of those people. I wanted to be a productive member of society again. Before I lost my vision I'd worked my entire life. I didn't want to be one of those people who sat around feeling sorry for herself.
I went on the Internet, looking for the best training centers for the blind. The program that stood out to me was a comprehensive training program at the Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB) that lasted for nine months. I signed up because I knew I needed to learn a lot of new skills in a hurry, and, with a lot of hard work and great teachers, I did. The classes taught me how to shop by myself, how to read Braille, how to build useful items in the wood shop, how to use a washing machine and drier, how to travel safely by using a cane, how to ask for help if I became lost traveling, how to cook, how to use computers by employing adaptive computer skills using a screen reader, and how to become comfortable while doing public speaking. I was also shown how to apply makeup again.
The reason the program was valuable was that it prepared me for the rest of my life as a blind person. The LCB program didn't minimize the future challenges I'd be facing. We were expected to cook our own meals, wash our own clothes, and walk from our apartments to the LCB headquarters every morning for class.
When a person is confronted with low expectations, it’s all too easy for her to accept those expectations. However, when a person is expected and encouraged to succeed, she's inspired to work hard. My instructors told me that being blind wasn't the end of my life. Instead, it was a new beginning.
It’s hard to explain all that the LCB program did for me. I learned to read again, I relearned to cook my own meals. After I'd gotten familiar with the basics, I was challenged to cook a meal for forty people. I made chicken spaghetti and Texas Toast, with a Caesar salad as a starter and a lemon pound cake for dessert. For drinks I made sweetened and unsweetened iced tea.
My program wasn’t only about life skills. It had plenty of activities to challenge my notions about the limitations imposed by blindness and put them to rest with experiences I never thought it possible for a blind person to have. I went rock climbing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, ziplining, and even went to Mardi Gras. All these activities build up a strengthening sense that the world is not too complex for a blind person to deal with. If you can survive whitewater rapids, you can survive the checkout at Stop N Shop. Until I came to the LCB I'd never used a cane. Now I can't imagine traveling without one.
The biggest thing the LCB program gave me was confidence, and this was even more important than the skills I learned there. The LCB made me really believe that I had the skills it takes to live fully and independently back in the real world. When I graduated, I felt like I was starting the first day of the rest of my life. I’d rediscovered how to be independent!
The LCB program isn't truly finished on graduation day. The instructors running the program continue to pay attention to the students they have graduated and are always ready to provide advice, aid, and encouragement to us. Knowing I have that support if I need it means a lot to me.
On graduation day every blind student is given a small metal bell that says “Together we are changing what it means to be blind.” I like that statement because I know that the world has expectations that are far too low for blind people, and sometimes we have these same low expectations for ourselves. The statement makes me feel pride at what I am doing, not only for myself, but for all blind people, and I rejoice at being a part of an important social movement. My bell has a picture of an eagle on it, and this, too, is significant. I have always believed that a person gets out of life what they put into it, and I worked hard in the program. Wanting that bell and the eagle on it gave me the encouragement to believe that I could once again fly high like that proud bird, and, like that eagle, I am proud. I have once again found my independence.If anyone has recently lost his or her vision, knows he or she needs training, and is feeling worried and overwhelmed, I urge that he or she calls the LCB and asks about the training program that lasts for nine months. I have learned so much about how to be blind, but more importantly, I feel like I have rediscovered myself. On that note I’d like to personally thank Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind in Connecticut and my case worker Jeannette Rodriquez, Beth Rival, and Mrs. Pam Allen, all of whom helped me on my journey to LCB and in reaching my destination, where I once again feel normal and proud.
by Grace Warn
From the Editor: Grace Warn is an assistant who works for the Braille Monitor. She loves to watch television, as readers of the March issue will know, but she is also an active reader and offers this book review.
Close Your Eyes is told from the point of view of a normal little girl talking to the reader. She's explaining that she's normal and just like the children reading this book: "I'm like you, and you're like me, except that I just cannot see." She talks about things she likes to do, games she likes to play, and things she'd like to learn to do, just like her readers.
Like most children's books, the lines are in a rhyming pattern, creating a rhythm to the text as one reads it aloud. The pictures are colorful and simple, done in either color pencil or pastels. The real value in the book is the message it presents about blindness. The little girl emphasizes to her readers all the ways in which she is just like them and a few of the ways in which she is different. She also points out that the differences aren't all that significant.
The author, Michelle Friedman, was legally blind until age thirty-five, when she lost the remainder of her vision. She often speaks at schools, and she has written the book to serve as a bridge between disabled and nondisabled children. She says that although she wrote about blindness because of her personal experience, the book could have been about any disability.
At the beginning of the book Michelle has a note to parents, grandparents, and teachers. She expresses the hope that her book will spark a discussion that will help children realize that just because someone is disabled doesn't mean they can't be friends and do most of the activities other children do. She also includes a list of the most frequently asked questions she gets from children when she speaks at their schools, along with her answers and insights.I recommend this book to parents of blind children. Learning that blind children can ride bicycles and roller skate may help a timid child and may encourage other family members to be less protective. The book may also be one you will want to lend out to your child's teacher, scout troop leader, or the parent of a child your son or daughter meets at the park. This is also a book I would highly recommend any elementary school teacher add to their classroom or school library. Whether or not you currently have a blind student, the information given by Michelle Friedman will create understanding that will help future blind students and any students with disabilities.
by Carlton Walker
From the Editor: One activity that makes our convention unique is the annual program sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). No other conference in the world does as much to provide programming for blind children and their parents. Here is the list of activities they will enjoy this summer in Orlando:
No matter where you are in your journey as the parent (or guardian, relative, or family friend) of a blind/visually impaired child, you are on a journey. You have a past behind you that cannot be changed and a future ahead that can be.
The past can be incredibly valuable as a source of information and experience, but it can also be a source of regret. I often hear from parents of blind children who feel guilt over missed opportunities and wasted time. I completely understand these feelings, and I have felt them on many occasions (regarding my blind daughter as well as my sighted son and daughter).
My youngest child, Anna Catherine, lost a great deal of her vision in early infancy. However, my husband Stephen and I did not discover this for many months. An ophthalmologist told us that she was “legally blind,” but we didn’t begin to comprehend that her visual loss was having an impact on her life until we noticed that she was not keeping up with her peers in terms of independent and confident movement around our community.
In May 2005 when Anna Catherine was four years old, the three of us attended an amazing conference (sponsored by NOPBC and the National Federation of the Blind) at the NFB Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. There, we learned about the importance of blindness skills and met many successful blind adults and educators. We even took home a long white cane for travel—which we soon put in the closet.
You see, as a mom new to the world of blindness, I was petrified that I would do something wrong. I knew that I did not have the skills to teach my daughter what she needed to know. Even after attending the Baltimore conference, I didn’t trust myself to implement the lessons we learned there. I was so afraid of teaching her incorrectly that I made the biggest mistake I could—I failed to teach her at all.
Luckily, with the supportive persistence of NOPBC President Emerita Barbara Cheadle, our family attended the 2006 NFB National Convention in Dallas, Texas. Even though we had become stuck in our old ways for over a year, we knew we needed to take this next step toward getting Anna Catherine on the right track.
You might remember that back in 2006, air travel was quite different from what we experience today. Each individual holding a ticket was entitled to take two full-sized pieces of luggage plus a carry-on and a “personal” item. I have never been one to pack lightly, and I certainly did not do so when I had such a generous luggage allowance and when flying out to Dallas for a whole week. We arrived at the airport long-term parking lot with a small five-year-old Anna Catherine, six full-sized pieces of wheeled luggage, three large carry-on items, three “personal” items, and a long white cane. As Stephen and I struggled to empty this immense amount of baggage from our minivan, I pulled out that long white cane. Looking at it with frustration, I told Anna Catherine, “Here, you take this!”
To be honest, I paid no attention to the cane until we arrived at the Security Gate. As Stephen and I focused on getting our carry-on and “personal” items through security, a TSA agent asked Anna Catherine to place the long white cane on the conveyor belt. Suddenly, my genial five-year-old planted her feet on the floor and announced, “You CANNOT have my cane!” Stephen and I stared at each other quizzically. I stammered, “Well, I guess it’s a good thing we decided to pack the cane.”
I’d love to tell you that, at that moment, I “got it.” But I cannot. Instead of fully backing up our little girl’s attempt to stand up for her rights, we cajoled her into letting the cane go through the conveyor belt and walking through the metal detector without her cane. After all, she hadn’t had the cane for so long, how could it have become so important to her in the short trip from the airport parking lot to the security gate?
I didn’t get all of it then, but I did get some of it. My little girl demanded that she be allowed to keep her cane even though she had not had very much instruction in using it. Her technique was not perfect, but she understood that her cane provided her the independence that she had been missing. Once she had that taste of independence, she was not about to give it up without a fight. And, yes, I felt horrible about putting her cane in a closet for fourteen months—fourteen months of independence I could never give back to her, but I also began to see the independent future she could have ahead of her.
It can be tempting to relive the past. However, our greatest opportunity for growth occurs when we learn from the past and use this information to shape our journey into the future. On July 1, 2014, take the next step of your journey with us, the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), as we partner with Professionals in Blindness Education (PIBE) to present information, ideas, and inspiration through speakers, workshops, and fellowship with parents, professionals, and successful blind adults eager to walk with us on this important journey. I invite you to take your cane out of the closet and join us!
NOTE: NOPBC children’s activities will take place in NFB Child Care throughout the week. Be sure to register your child with child care! (NFB Child Care has separate registration and fees—see the next article in this issue.)
TUESDAY, JULY 1
Full-Day Seminar for Parents & Teachers
7:30 AM - 8:45 AM—Registration
9:00 AM - 10:45 AM—General Session
Welcome—Carlton Walker, president, NOPBC
Kid Talk with Dr. Marc Maurer—Kids get a chance to speak to the president of the National Federation of the Blind about anything on their minds
Taking the Next Step—Mark Riccobono, executive director, NFB Jernigan Institute
The Next Step—Adult and student voices from the NFB
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM—NOPBC Children’s Activity (ages 5-12, in NFB Child Care)
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM—NOPBC Youth Track Session (ages 12-18)
Children who would like to take part in the Kid Talk with Dr. Maurer and Youth Track participants will begin the day with us in the general session after which they will be escorted to child care or their activity.
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM—Concurrent Workshops—Parents & Teachers:
Independence in the Classroom
Tools, tips, and techniques for setting up the classroom and training the student for independent functioning. Instructor: Jackie Anderson, TBS
Independent Movement & Travel for Children with Additional Disabilities
Working toward maximum independence and self-determination for the child with additional disabilities. Instructor: Denise Mackenstadt, NOMC
Low Vision Toolbox
Useful items for low vision students and how to determine the most efficient method for the task. Instructor: TBA
Exploration and independent movement and travel in early childhood. Instructor: Mary Jo Hartle, NOMC, TBS
Using accessible technology for meaningful participation in school, at home, and in the community. Instructor: Eric Guillory, director, Youth Services, LA Center for the Blind
12:15 PM - 2:00 PM—Lunch on your own
Pick up your child from NFB Child Care promptly after your workshop session ends at 12:15.
2:00 PM - 5:00 PM—NFB Youth Track Sessions (ages 12-18)
2:00 PM—NOPBC Children’s Activity (ages 5-12, in NFB Child Care)
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM—Concurrent Workshops—Parents & Teachers:
Independence Skills at Home & in the Community
Teaching and supporting the development of independence skills for full participation in home and community life. Instructor: Mary Jo Hartle, NOMC, TBS
Honoring the child’s right to personal space and control over his/her body. Instructor: TBA
Independent Movement & Travel for the School-Age Student
High expectations, real-life goals, and how to achieve them in the area of independent movement and travel. Instructor: TBA
Tactile Graphics—The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly
The basics of creating a good tactile graphic that will really work for the blind child. Instructor: TBA
I Get Around
Getting around independently when you do not drive. Instructors: Pam Allen, director, LA Center for the Blind; Roland Allen, NOMC
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM—Concurrent Workshops—Parents & Teachers:
Low Vision Technology
From low tech to high tech, learn about the many options for the low vision student.
Instructor: Janet Bernhardt, owner, Low Vision, Etc.
Saying It My Way
Encouraging communication, learning, and play in children with communication needs. Instructor: TBA
Social Skills for the School-Age Child
Encouraging appropriate social interaction and play. Instructor: Sheena Manuel, outreach specialist, Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness
How to Set Up a Saturday School
Empowering families to learn and teach the skills of independence. Instructor: Jackie Anderson, TBS
College Checklist: Is Your Blind Child Ready? Are YOU Ready?
Preparing for heading off to college—what parents and students need to know, with a special visit from “the roommates from hell.” Instructors: Kim Cunningham, second vice president, NOPBC; Kayleigh Joiner, student; Arielle Silverman, PhD candidate; Debbie Kent Stein, editor, Future Reflections
5:00 PM - 5:45 PM—Youth Get-Together (ages 11- 18)
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM—NOPBC Family Hospitality
Relax, chat, meet new families, and connect with old friends. Veteran parents will be on hand to welcome you and provide information. Co-sponsored by PIBE.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 2
No NFB Child Care on this day
7:00 - 8:45 AM—NOPBC Board Meeting
8:45 - 10:30 AM—Cane Walk, Session I
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM—Cane Walk, Session II
Learn and experience the Discovery Method of travel at these special workshops. Parents, teachers, blind children, siblings welcome. Instructors: Jeff Altman, NOMC, and other cane travel instructors.
2:45 PM - 4:00 PM—NOPBC Youth Style Show
This is an opportunity for your aspiring model to take a walk down the runway in a favorite outfit from his or her closet. Contact Kim Cunningham at (713) 501-9659 or <[email protected]> to sign up and for further information.
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM—NFB Youth Track Session (ages 11-18)
THURSDAY, JULY 3
12:45 PM—NOPBC Children’s Activity (ages 5-12), Youth Track Activity (ages 12-18)
You may drop off your child early at child care on this afternoon so that you can attend the NOPBC Annual Meeting.
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM—NOPBC Annual Meeting: Options & Opportunities
Keynote address by the 2014 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children award winner, special guest speakers on accessible science, cutting-edge products and services, summer programs for our kids, Parent Power, and much more! Business meeting, elections.
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM—Braille Book Fair
A book lover's dream! Browse tables of new and used Braille and print/Braille books. Volunteers will box your books and the post office will deliver them to your home as Free Matter. Books are free; donations are encouraged to help support our Braille programs. Cosponsored by NOPBC & NAPUB. Coordinator: Krystal Guillory, TBS, NFBL BELL Coordinator
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM—Dads’ Night Out
All dads, sighted and blind, are welcome. Call Bill Cucco at (201) 602-6318 for location.
FRIDAY, JULY 4
7:00 AM - 9:00 AM—NOPBC Board Meeting
7:00 PM - 9:45 PM—NOPBC Concurrent Workshops—Parents & Teachers
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM—NOPBC Children’s Activity (ages 5-12)
Crafts & Games—For children whose parents are attending NOPBC evening workshops.
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM—Youth Track Activity (ages 12-18)
7:00 PM - 8:15 PM
Unified English Braille (UEB)
It's new. It's coming. What is it, how will the transition be made, and what will it mean to your child? Instructor: Casey Robertson, TBS
7:00 PM - 8:15 PM
IEP Basics for Parents of Blind/VI Students
The sections of the IEP, essential assessments, how assessment information is used, how to be an active and effective participant. Instructor: Carlton Walker, attorney, TBS
8:30 PM - 9:45 PM
IEP Development and Legal Process Overview
Dos & Don’ts for the IEP meeting; preparing for possible mediation, due process, appeal, etc; overview of the legal process; how to prepare for a due process hearing so you don’t have to have one! Instructor: Carlton Walker, attorney, TBS
NOPBC INSIDER INFORMATION
National convention is a complicated week of events. Here are a few tips to help you stay organized and take advantage of the many opportunities that will be available.
Activities for Children & Youth; Child Care Information:
Seminar Day Information
Other Activities Going on All Week Long
In addition to the special NOPBC activities for parents, children, and youth listed in this article, other activities that you and your child may be interested in attending will be going on all week. Often many activities are going on at the same time and you and your child will have to make choices! Here is a sampling:
Make check payable to NOPBC and mail with form to:
Pat Renfranz, NOPBC Treasurer
397 Middle Oak Lane, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Save money by preregistering! Preregistration must be postmarked by June 15.
After June 15, please register on-site in Orlando.
By June 15
On-site in Orlando
Family with 2 or more adults
Child/Youth (up to 18 years)
Adult Name ____________________________________________________
[ ] parent of blind child [ ] professional [ ] other____________________
Adult Name ____________________________________________________
[ ] parent of blind child [ ] professional [ ] other____________________
Please list additional adults on a separate sheet.
Address ______________________________ City _____________________
State _______ Zip _____________ Phone ___________________
E-mail _______________________________ Alt. phone ________________
Child/Youth 1—Name (first and last), age, brief description of vision and any additional disabilities: _____________________________________________
Child/Youth 2: ___________________________________________________
Please list additional children/youth on a separate sheet.
How many? Prereg. by June 15 On-site reg.
1 Adult _____ @ $30 = $______ or @ $40 = $______
2 or more Adults _____ @ $50 = $______ or @ $70 = $______
Child/Youth _____ FREE FREE = $__00__
Total enclosed: $_________
For parents/teachers of blind children:
___ I receive Future Reflections
___ This is my 1st national convention
If not, how many have you attended? _____
___ I am a member of my state NFB/POBC
PLEASE NOTE: Preregistrations postmarked after June 15 will be returned.
Also, remember that registrations for the NOPBC Conference and NFB Child Care are separate and must be mailed to different places. And to register for the 2014 NFB Annual Convention (again, a separate registration), go to <https://nfb.org/national-convention>.
by Carla McQuillan
If you are between the ages of six weeks and twelve years, NFB Camp is the place to be at national convention this year in Orlando. During meetings and general convention sessions, NFB Camp will be open for fun.
Our camp rooms are divided by age, with toys and activities appropriate to the ages served in each room. We have rooms for infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children. The infants and toddlers spend much of their time in the room, with occasional walks around the hotel and stories read from Braille books. The preschool group will enjoy Braille story time, arts and craft projects, and small group play on the hotel lawns. The school-age children will have special guest presentations on writing stories, science and technology, music and movement, and blind people employed in different professions. In addition, we will have daily excursions to the hotel lawns for outdoor games and water play.
Just down the street from the hotel is an indoor fun house called Monkey Joe’s. This air-conditioned party room has several giant inflatable structures with slides, obstacle courses, bounce houses, and ball pits. In addition there are several carnival and arcade games. We will be taking small groups of children to Monkey Joe’s several times throughout the week. The cost will be $10 per child, which includes transportation on the local shuttle that runs up and down International Drive and admission to all the attractions at Monkey Joe’s.
Children must be between the ages of five and twelve, and priority will be given to children enrolled in NFB Camp for the week. Look for sign-up sheets at the NFB Camp Registration Desk when you get to the convention.
NFB Campers will enjoy their own banquet night activities beginning with their meal.
NFB Camp is under the supervision of Carla McQuillan, president of the NFB of Oregon, and a longtime member of the Federation. Carla is the executive director of Main Street Montessori Association, operating three Montessori schools. She has directed NFB camp since 1996. Alison McQuillan serves as the activities and staff coordinator for camp. Alison monitors the daily programs, drop-off and pick-up, staff-to-child ratios, and ensuring that only parents and authorized adults are allowed into camp rooms. Each of the three camp rooms has a supervisor who is responsible for the activities of that age group. These leads are chosen because of their experience and demonstrated capacity to handle groups of children and workers. Other workers and camp volunteers are drawn from within the organization. We usually have a mix of blind and sighted teens and adults who work with the children.
Michelle Chacon is a certified orientation and mobility instructor and a teacher of blind children. She will be available throughout the week to consult with parents and staff, as well as provide some individualized instruction for our campers.
NFB Camp maintains a list of people who are interested in providing care outside of the scheduled hours for camp. The list is at the check-in desk for NFB Camp. Parents are welcome to review names on the list if they are in need of caregivers during off hours. NFB Camp and the National Federation of the Blind are not responsible for the actions and behavior of those on the babysitting list. We do not screen the people; we merely maintain a central list for the convenience of convention attendees.
Because of the limited space, we require that parents wishing to enroll their children in NFB Camp complete and return the registration form below no later than June 15, 2014. You may also email or call to reserve your child(ren)’s space: <[email protected]> or (541) 653-9153. Any questions can also be directed to Carla McQuillan at the same address, email, and phone.
Make checks payable to NFB Camp. Return form to NFB Camp, 5005 Main Street, Springfield, OR 97478; (541) 726-6924
NFB Camp will be open during general convention sessions, division and committee meeting day, and the evening of the banquet. The hours for NFB Camp are tentative. The actual hours will be based on the beginning and ending of sessions so that parents can drop off their children thirty minutes before the start of session and must pick up their children within thirty minutes of the end of session. On occasion the actual end or beginning of session may be earlier or later than the agenda indicates. We charge a $10 per quarter-hour per child late pick-up fee. NFB Camp provides morning and afternoon snacks. You must provide lunch for your children every day.
Date NFB Camp Hours
Tuesday, July 1st 8:30 AM–12:30 PM and 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
Wednesday, July 2nd Camp is closed.
Thursday, July 3rd 8:30 AM–12:30 PM and 1:30 PM–5:30 PM
Friday, July 4th 9:30 AM–12:30 PM and 1:30 PM–5:30 PM
Saturday, July 5th 8:30 AM–12:30 PM and 1:30 PM–5:30 PM
Sunday, July 6th 8:30 AM–12:30 PM and 1:30 PM–5:30 PM
Banquet 6:30 PM–30 minutes after adjournment.
Additional forms (emergency info, waivers, etc.) will be due when we receive the registration form.
Completed form and fees must be received on or before June 15, 2014
City__________ State___________ Zip______ Phone _______________
Cell Phone _______________ Cell Phone _______________
______________________________ Age_____ Date of Birth___________
______________________________ Age_____ Date of Birth___________
______________________________ Age_____ Date of Birth___________
Include description of any disabilities or allergies we should know about:
Who, other than parents, is allowed to pick up your child(ren)?__________
Per Week (Does not include banquet): $100 first child, $75 siblings
$100 (1st child) plus # of siblings_____ x $75 = $________
Per Day (Does not include banquet): $25 per child per day. (Circle) T Th F Sa Su
$25 x ___#child(ren) = $_____ x ___ Days = $_________
Banquet: $25 per child.
_____#Turkey sandwich _____#Cheese sandwich
# of children _____ x $25 = $_________
We understand that NFB Camp is being provided as a service to make our convention more enjoyable for both parents and children. We will pick up children immediately following sessions. We understand that, if our child(ren) does not follow the rules or if for any reason staff are unable to care for our child(ren), further access to childcare will be denied.Parent’s Signature _____________________________________ Date ______________
by Allen Harris
From the Editor: Allen Harris is the chairman of the Kenneth Jernigan Fund Committee and was one of the people who came up with the idea of honoring our former president and longtime leader by establishing a program to promote attendance at the national convention, where so much inspiration and learning occur. Here is Allen’s announcement about the 2014 Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund Program:
Have you always wanted to attend an NFB annual convention but have not done so because of the lack of funds? The Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund invites you to make an application for a scholarship grant. Perhaps this July you too can be in the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida, enjoying the many pleasures and learning opportunities at the largest and most important yearly convention of blind people in the world.
The three biggest ticket items you need to cover when attending an NFB national convention are the roundtrip transportation, the hotel room for a week, and the food (which tends to be higher priced than at home). We attempt to award additional funds to families, but, whether a family or an individual is granted a scholarship, this fund can only help; it won’t pay all the costs. Last year most of the sixty grants were in the range of $400 to $500 per individual.
We recommend that you find an NFB member as your personal convention mentor, someone who has been to many national conventions and is able to share money-saving tips with you and tips on navigating the extensive agenda in the big hotel. Your mentor will help you get the most out of the amazing experience that is convention week.
Who is eligible?
Active NFB members, blind or sighted, who have not yet attended an NFB national convention because of lack of funding are eligible to apply.
How do I apply for funding assistance?
1. You write a letter giving your contact information, and your local NFB information, your specific amount requested, and then explain why this is a good investment for the NFB. The points to cover are listed below.
2. You contact your state president in person or by phone to request his or her help in obtaining funding. Be sure to tell the president when to expect your request letter by email, and mention the deadline.
3. You (or a friend) send your letter by email to your state president. He or she must add a president’s recommendation and then email both letters directly to the Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund Committee. Your president must forward the two letters no later than April 15, 2014.
Your letter to Chairperson Allen Harris must cover these points:
Explain how much money you need from this fund to make this trip possible for you. We suggest you consult with other members to make a rough budget for yourself.
The body of your letter should answer these questions:
How do you currently participate in the Federation? Why do you want to attend a national convention? What would you receive; what can you share or give? You can include in your letter to the committee any special circumstances you hope they will take into consideration.
When will I be notified that I am a winner?
If you are chosen to receive this scholarship, you will receive a letter with convention details which should answer most of your questions. The committee makes every effort to notify scholarship winners by May 15, but you must do several things before that to be prepared to attend if you are chosen.
1. Make your own hotel reservation. If something prevents you from attending, you can cancel the reservation. (Yes, you may arrange for roommates of your own to reduce the cost.)
2. Register online for the entire convention, including the banquet, by May 31.
3. Find someone in your chapter or affiliate who has been to many conventions and can answer your questions as a friend and advisor.
4. If you do not hear from the committee by May 15, then you did not win a grant this year.
How will I receive my convention scholarship?
At convention you will be given a debit card or credit card loaded with the amount of your award. The times and locations to pick up your card will be listed in the letter we sent you. The committee is not able to provide funds before the convention, so work with your chapter and state affiliate to assist you by obtaining an agreement to advance funds if you win a scholarship and to pay your treasury back after you receive your debit or credit card.
What if I have more questions? For additional information email the chairman, Allen Harris, at <[email protected]> or call his Baltimore, Maryland, office at (410) 659-9314, x2415.
Above all, please use this opportunity to attend your first convention on the national level and join several thousand active Federationists in the most important meeting of the blind in the world. We hope to see you in Orlando.
This month’s recipes come from members of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina.
[PHOTO CAPTION: Gary Ray]
by Gary Ray
Gary Ray is the affiliate president in North Carolina. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina and is a member of the Buncombe County Chapter.
1 Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Deluxe Dinner
1 small jar olives, chopped
3/4 cup celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Method: Prepare macaroni dinner according to instructions on box. Add olives, celery, mustard, and mayonnaise; mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled.
Gary Ray’s Famous Cookie Recipe
by Gary Ray
1/2 cup butter
6 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Quaker oats (uncooked)
1 6-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate pieces
Raisins, walnuts, pecans, or extra chocolate chips (optional)
Method: Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy. In a glass beat the egg with a fork and add to butter and sugar mixture. Sift flour and add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Stir in oats, chocolate pieces, and any other desired additions. Drop by rounded teaspoons-full on well-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for eight to ten minutes.
by Gary Ray
1 box Yellow Butter Recipe Cake Mix
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups pecans (divided)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
Method: Grease and flour 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cake mix, butter, and 3/4 cup of nuts. Press mixture in baking dish. Mix cream cheese and brown sugar. Spread cream cheese mixture on top of packed cake mixture in baking dish. Top with remaining 3/4 cup chopped nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for twenty-five to thirty minutes. When done, edges should be starting to turn slightly brown. Let cool before cutting. Keep refrigerated.
Baked Chicken Salsa
by Sharon Weddington
Sharon Weddington is the secretary of the NFB of North Carolina. She belongs to the South Iredell Chapter and has been a longtime Federationist.
1 chicken breast
1/2 cup salsa
3 jalapeno peppers, sliced
6 small black olives
Method: Cut a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the chicken breast. Place the chicken breast on the foil and pour salsa over it. Place peppers and olives on top.
Fold the foil around the chicken and crimp the ends together tightly. Place in an oven-safe casserole dish. Bake at 400 degrees for sixty minutes.
Banana Split Surprise
by Sharon Weddington
1 large container Cool Whip
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can crushed pineapple, drained
1 can cherry pie filling
3 large bananas, sliced
1/2 cup pecan pieces
Method: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and chill before serving.
by Sharon Weddington
3 cups self-rising flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups cooking oil
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups bannas (about 4 medium bananas), sliced
1 cup nuts
Method: Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and stir, do not beat. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and ten minutes. Cool in pan. Loosen edges and remove from pan.
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1-pound box powdered sugar
Method: Cream cheese, butter, and sugar together. Add vanilla. Frost sides and top of cake.
Frosted Strawberry Squares
by Sharon Weddington
Ingredients for Crumbs:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine, melted
Method: Mix the above ingredients together and pack into a 13-by-9-inch pan. Bake at 300 degrees for twenty minutes. Remove from oven and stir to make crumbles.
2 egg whites
1 10-ounce package frozen strawberries
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup Cool Whip or whipped cream
Method: Combine egg whites with strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Beat at high speed until it forms stiff peaks. Fold in Cool Whip. Place 3/4 crumble mixture in bottom of new 13-by-9-inch pan. Add strawberry mixture and smooth, then top with remaining crumbles. Freeze. After frozen, cut into squares and serve.
by Sharon Weddington
1/2 gallon orange juice
64 ounces apple juice
48 ounces pineapple juice
1 bag Red Hots candy
Method: Stir juices together in large pot. Heat on low until flavors blend; do not boil. Add candy and stir until candy is dissolved. May serve hot or cold.
by Judy Davis
Judy Davis is from Asheville, North Carolina, and is a friend of Gary Ray.
3 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
3 cups cranberry juice (or cranberry blend)
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
1/3 cups brown sugar
1 coffee percolator
Assistive Listening Project 2014 Convention Announcement:
At the 2014 national convention the National Federation of the Blind Amateur Radio Division and the National Federation of the Blind Deaf-Blind Division will again offer special arrangements for severely hearing-impaired people attending convention sessions and the banquet. This will consist of transmission of the public address system signal over a special short-range radio transmitter for the severely hearing-impaired. Spanish-language translation of convention proceedings in general sessions and the banquet will also be provided using a similar arrangement. The special receivers required for these services will also be provided.
In cooperation with several state affiliates (notably Colorado, Utah, and Virginia), the NFB will provide special receivers for these transmissions to those needing them. The receiver-lending will be managed by the Amateur Radio Division and will be operated from a table just outside the meeting room. A deposit of $40, cash only, will be required of anyone wishing to check out one of the Federation's receivers. The deposit will be returned if the receiver is checked in at the checkout table in good condition by the end of the banquet or within thirty minutes of adjournment of the last convention session that the borrower plans to attend. Batteries for the receiver will be provided. Anyone checking out a Federation receiver will be given upon request a miniature earbud-type earphone to use with the receiver.
Along with explaining what will be available, it is important that we explain what will not be available. The miniature earbud loudspeaker-type earphone will be the only kind of earphone offered. If you would like to use your own earphone(s), silhouette, neck loop, or other device or adapter cable to get the signal from the receiver we provide to your ear, you must ensure that the cable connection between your device and our receiver is one that will fit the audio jack found on electronic devices such as talking book and MP3 players, laptops, or mobile devices like iPhones and note takers. In technical terms, this is referred to as a 3.5 mm (formerly called 1/8-inch) earphone plug. You are advised to arrange for such things well ahead of arriving at the convention. Other than the earphone jack on the receiver, no means of connection to a hearing aid will be available from the checkout table. The receiver does not have a built-in loudspeaker. While earphones, and even neck loops, are sometimes available in the exhibit hall, you cannot be certain of getting one there.
Many severely hearing-impaired people already use radio systems that employ FM radio signals to carry the voice from a transmitter held by the person speaking to a receiver in the hearing aid. Some of these hearing aid systems can be tuned to receive the Federation's special transmitters. In this case the hearing-impaired person may simply tune his or her own receiver to receive the Federation's transmitter and will not need to check out a Federation receiver.
Some audiologists and rehabilitation agencies are now buying digital and other FM hearing aids that cannot be tuned to the Federation's frequency. If you have one of these or if you have any other type of hearing aid, you should obtain from your audiologist an adapter cable to connect from your hearing aid to a monaural 3.5 mm earphone jack. This will allow you to plug the cable from your hearing aid directly into a receiver you check out from our table. This will allow you to hear as well as anyone else using one of our receivers.
The transmitter for the hearing impaired will be connected to the public address system so that the signals from the head table and the aisle microphones will be transmitted on channel thirty-six (74.775 MHz narrow band FM). People must not operate their personal transmitters on channel thirty-six or on channel thirty-eight, because that would interfere with the reception by others. This means that folks wishing to use their own receivers (rather than checking out one of the Federation's receivers) need to have their personal receivers arranged so that they can switch between their personal channels and channel thirty-six. Some people may need to purchase replacement or additional receivers. Caution your audiologist that there is more than one channel thirty-six, and he or she must also verify that your frequency matches our frequency.
This announcement is published now to allow as much time as possible for those interested to make the necessary arrangements before convention. It contains this amount of detail so that any audiologist who works with this type of equipment should be able to know by reading this article exactly what capabilities a person's hearing system must have to work with the Federation's system at convention.
Even if your hearing aid is not of the FM type, you may be able to purchase a silhouette, a neck loop, or an adapter cable to couple the signal from a Federation receiver directly to your hearing aid. Your audiologist should also be able to help you with this. The NFB Deaf-Blind division has offered to provide feedback on their members' experiences with these types of devices to interested convention attendees. Contact Joe Naulty, 3924 South Wind Drive, West Melbourne, Florida 32904, (321) 768-9500 or <[email protected]> for inquiries. Please always remember to consult your audiologist when considering any additions to your hearing aid setup.
The service for Spanish speakers will be similar, except that a live Spanish translator will speak over a separate transmitter on channel thirty-eight (75.275 MHz narrow band FM). We do not expect that people will bring their own receivers for the Spanish-translation service, unless they are also hearing impaired and use an FM hearing aid system. Spanish speakers may, however, wish to bring their own earphones. See above for a description of the type of plug needed.
Norm Gardner from Utah will be coordinating the Spanish language interpreters, and he would appreciate hearing from anyone willing to volunteer to interpret. Please call him before convention at (801) 224-6969, or send him email at <[email protected]>.
If other state affiliates or chapters are interested in purchasing this type of equipment for use in state and local meetings, they are encouraged to purchase equipment that is compatible with that which we are using and to allow it to be used in the pool of equipment that the Amateur Radio Division administers at national convention. Tony Olivero would like to help you choose equipment that is compatible with that which the NFB is using. You may contact him at (765) 977-1683 or at <[email protected]>. The Federation is pleased to offer these services to our severely hearing-impaired and Spanish-speaking colleagues, and we hope and believe that it will again significantly improve their convention experience.
Finally, we would like to take a moment and thank Curtis Willoughby for his many years of dedicated leadership of the NFB Amateur Radio Division. Curtis's efforts have contributed significantly to the ability of those with hearing loss and those who are primarily Spanish speakers to participate in convention sessions. Curtis, we thank you for all the time and effort you have put forth over the years.
Braille Book Fair 2014:
Calling all Braille readers, teachers, and parents! It’s that time again: time to sort through all those boxes of Braille books and donate gently used but no longer needed Braille books to the 2014 Braille Book Fair sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Our primary goal is to get more Braille books into the hands of children, youth, and beginning adult readers, so here’s what we need most: books in good condition, print-Braille picture storybooks, leisure reading (fiction or nonfiction) books, cookbooks, and books about sports.
Children are so hungry for their very own books that every year, despite generous donations of books, most of our books for young children are gone in less than an hour. So begin your search through the boxes in your basement and spare room and get those books shipped to: UPS, Braille Book Fair, Attention: Elainna Moore, C/O 2014 NFB Convention Braille Book Fair, 8901 Atlantic Ave, Orlando FL 32824.
This year's coordinator is Krystal Guillory. If you have any questions, contact Krystal Guillory at (318) 245-8955 or <[email protected]>. This year's event is slated to take place on Wednesday, July 3, 2014, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. Please check the convention agenda for location.
As always we need volunteers to help with this project. If you can help unpack, shelve, assist children in finding books, or participate in the cleanup, please contact Krystal by writing to her at <[email protected]>. We promise that you’ll come away from this event feeling uplifted and glad you were able to help so many happy children.
Louisiana Center for the Blind to Perform Jerry Whittle Play at Convention:
We are doing a play again this year written by the esteemed playwright Jerry Whittle.
It is called Passing the Torch and was originally performed in 1986. Like last year we will have one performance, the price will be $5 per ticket, and the proceeds will benefit youth summer programs.
The play tells the story of several students who are in training at a training center.
In addition to gaining skills and confidence, they learn about the importance of having a positive philosophy about blindness.
Join the NFB Senior Division for Conference Call Discussions Coming Soon Nationwide:
The National Federation of the Blind Senior Division is proud to spotlight topics of vital interest to those losing vision later in life by hosting three conference calls to address specific issues. The conference call number is (712) 432-1500 and the access number is 75963# for all participants. A tone should signal that you are connected.
The conference calls will take place at the following times and dates:
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
All calls will be at 3:00 eastern standard time, 2:00 central standard time, 1:00 mountain time, and 12:00 pacific time.
The first conference call with the topic, “Financial Management after Blindness” will be held Thursday, May 1. Mr. Robert Burns, attorney and financial advisor for more than twenty-five years will host the call. After losing vision Mr. Burns became an investment advisor and has wide experience in the field. He currently resides in Omaha, Nebraska.
The second conference call will be held Thursday, May 8, with the topic: “Blindness: A Family Dynamic” hosted by Ms. Fatos Floyd. Ms. Floyd has a master’s degree in counseling and has CRC and CVRCB credentials. She is a longtime Federationist who has served in many capacities. Currently she works as the Braille instructor at the Nebraska Rehabilitation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The third conference call will be held Wednesday, June 4. Jennifer Wenzel will facilitate this conference call on the topic, “Cooking by Touch.” Jennifer is a blind mother raising three sighted children and has worked almost twenty years teaching independence through daily living skills to all ages from blind toddlers to school-age children and seniors. She attended BLIND Inc. and worked in their Buddy Program before moving to Colorado to teach at the Colorado Center in a number of capacities, including supervising and teaching students as the residential apartment manager. Recently she has been employed by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) as an independent living instructor teaching newly blind adults nonvisual daily living skills.
What Are We Going to Wear?
You’ve heard all the adages before: “Dress for success,” “maximize your message,” and “put your best foot forward.” They are more than just tired old clichés; they are time-proven strategies leading to success. The appropriate attire can boost your confidence and show the world that you are part of an important team.
Imagine the positive impression your chapter, division, or affiliate can make at educational events, public meetings, and fundraisers if all your members and supporters are dressed in new, sharp, high-quality polo shirts. The National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) can help you make that positive impression.
Each short-sleeved polo shirt is embroidered on the upper left chest with the National Federation of the Blind logo, including Whozit depicted in full color, along with a full-color Whozit on the right sleeve. These shirts can be customized to include the name of your chapter or division and/or state affiliate at no extra charge. Select a color that is unique to your chapter, division, or affiliate, and really stand out in the crowd at state and national conventions. What an immediate and graphic reminder of the exciting opportunity we have to be proud members of the National Federation of the Blind, the largest and most dynamic consumer organization of the blind in the world.
Ordering is easy; each chapter submits a prepaid order for shirts for its membership. Shirts will be shipped to the ordering chapter in about three weeks. Shirts are available in adult men’s and ladies’ styles sizes XS to XXXXL. We can process orders for twelve or more shirts, and your cost is an amazingly low $25 per shirt for sizes XS to XL, $26.50 for XXL, $29.50 for XXXL, and $31.50 for XXXXL. These prices include shipping and handling. Available shirt colors are white, black, leaf green, dark green, navy blue, royal blue, light pink, maroon, red, & soft orange.
Order right away to ensure you have the shirts before our 2014 National Convention in Orlando from July 1 to July 6. Orders may be placed and paid for online by visiting <http://www.flairetc.com/collections/nagdu>. Those interested in more information or placing a telephone order should have a representative contact the National Association of Guide Dog Users at <[email protected]> or call (813) 626-2789
Are you interested in other colors, long-sleeved shirts, other styles, caps, tote bags, or other NFB branded items? Ask for a quote on those too.
New Publications Available on NFB-NEWSLINE:
We are pleased to announce the addition of three new publications to the service. First is Investor's Business Daily, which is published Monday through Friday and contains articles covering international business, finance, and the global economy. According to its website, since 1984 Investor's Business Daily (IBD) has been helping ordinary people achieve extraordinary results. This is done with a unique step-by-step investing strategy anyone can use to systematically achieve financial freedom over time. Interested readers can find this publication under the National Newspapers category, which is accessed by selecting option five from the main menu and then choosing option two.
Next is the Japan Times, a daily newspaper from Tokyo, which was first published on March 22, 1897. It contains domestic, world, and business news, in addition to opinion/editorials, lifestyle, entertainment, and sports. Subscribers can find this newspaper under the International category, which is located under option five off the main menu. Select option six.
Third is a new magazine named Condé Nast Traveler. This is a luxury and lifestyle travel magazine published monthly by Condé Nast, which provides several other magazines currently offered on the service such as Vanity Fair and Wired. The magazine has won twenty-five National Magazine Awards. You can find this new offering in the Magazines category, which is option seven off the main menu. It is then further classified in the General Interest category.
We hope that you enjoy these new publications. Stay tuned for more exciting new additions over the next few months. Happy Reading from your NFB-NEWSLINE Team!
Petition to Encourage Appliance Accessibility
The Show-Me chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri, with the assistance of one of its founding members, Gene Fleeman, has started a petition on change.org. The petition is directed to manufacturers of stoves, ovens, and other household appliances. It asks them to design these so that they can be used nonvisually by incorporating tactile buttons, tactile markings, providing audio cues, or by any other methods that will give the blind the ability to use them independently. Those wishing to read the petition or sign it are encouraged to visit <http://www.change.org/petitions/association-of-home-appliance-manufacturers-incorporate-voice-technology-audio-queues-and-or-tactile-buttons-into-your-flat-panel-appliances-to-make-them-accessible-to-the-blind-and-those-with-low-vision>.
Contest for Braille Readers:
The Onkyo Braille essay contest is administered by the National Federation of the Blind for the North America/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union. Essays must be written in Braille and in English or their author's native language and must be completely original. Entries should be no fewer than eight hundred words and no more than one thousand words.
The contest is divided into two groups of competitors--one junior group, aged twenty-five and under; and one senior group, aged twenty-six and above. Prizes range from $500 to $2,000. All essays must be received by April 30, 2014. Visit <http://www.nfb.org/onkyo-braille-essay-contest> for more information and an application.
Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.
Parents and Teachers Needed for Studies to Increase Literacy:
Literacy is the most important skill a child can obtain. At the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University, we believe in every blind and/or visually impaired child having access to literacy. That is one of the principal purposes of the institute—to conduct research that deepens and broadens our understanding of blindness and the best educational practices to help those who are blind to function better in society.
For this reason we are embarking on two separate but related studies. The first is aimed at collecting information from teachers of the blind/visually impaired about their training and experiences with vision loss. Secondly, we are launching a separate survey that is aimed at parents who have children in K-12 education. What follows is more information on how teachers and parents can help. Your assistance in spreading the word about these studies is very much appreciated. Parents and teachers can help us evaluate the services and educational experiences of blind and/or visually impaired youth in grades K-12. By filling out a quick survey, you can help us examine and better understand the educational experiences of blind and/or visually impaired youth. Your feedback will improve future policies and practices that will be used to prepare soon-to-be teachers. Participation in this study allows us to gain a much richer and more robust understanding of factors that impact service options and academic performance of blind and/or visually impaired youth.
If you are a teacher, you must meet the following criteria: a) Currently be a certified teacher of visual impairment TVI/TBS; b) Have a case load of one or more students with low vision or blindness as his or her primary diagnosed disability on his/her Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Teachers may access the survey at <https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/pdribt>.
For a parent or guardian to participate in this study, your child must meet the following criteria: a) Be between the ages of five and twenty-two and be enrolled in a school in the United States in grades K-12; b) Visual impairment must be listed as his or her primary diagnosed disability on his or her IEP; c) English is his or her primary spoken language. Parents may access the survey at <https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/pdribp>.
Your participation is greatly appreciated. If you have questions about either study or want to know about ways in which you can help, you can contact the principal researchers for this study. Edward Bell, PhD, is the principal investigator and can be reached by phone at (318) 257-4554 or by email at <[email protected]>. Casey Robertson, research associate, is the lead person for questions about teachers or parents, and she can be contacted by email at <[email protected]>. We at the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness thank you for your attention and assistance in this important research.
Updated Braille Contractions:
The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults has produced an updated version of the Handbook of Braille Contractions. The update does not contain the UEB changes. These changes will be available in the next update. The handbook is available from the NFB Independence Market in a Twin Vision format and in Braille. The cost is five dollars with a $4.75 handling fee on all orders up to fifty dollars.
For the first time the Braille file can be downloaded from the Action Fund website at <www.actionfund.org>.
2014 Annual Bible Conference:
The National Church Conference of the Blind will hold its 2014 Annual Bible Conference August 2 through August 8, 2014. The 2014 conference will be held at The Grand Vista Hotel, 2790 Crossroads Boulevard at Horizon Drive, Grand Junction, Colorado 81506. For reservations call (800) 800-7796 or call the hotel directly at (970) 241-8411. The hotel room rate is $79 per night (tax exempt) with up to four people in a room. For answers to questions regarding the conference and information about registration, please contact Rheba Dunn, the NCCB membership secretary at (970) 895-2352. Visit the NCCB Website at <http://www.thenccb.com/>.
I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.