Vol. 58, No. 4 April 2015
Gary Wunder, Editor
Distributed by email, in inkprint, in Braille, and on USB flash drive (see below) by
The National Federation of the Blind
Mark Riccobono, President
telephone: (410) 659-9314
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
website address: http://www.nfb.org
NFB-NEWSLINE® information: (866) 504-7300
Like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/nationalfederationoftheblind
Follow us on Twitter: @NFB_Voice
Watch and share our videos: YouTube.com/NationsBlind
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@example.com.
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 KNOWS THAT BLINDNESS IS NOT THE CHARACTERISTIC THAT DEFINES YOU OR YOUR FUTURE. EVERY DAY WE RAISE THE EXPECTATIONS OF BLIND PEOPLE, BECAUSE LOW EXPECTATIONS CREATE OBSTACLES BETWEEN BLIND PEOPLE AND OUR DREAMS. YOU CAN LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT; BLINDNESS IS NOT WHAT HOLDS YOU BACK. THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR OURSELVES.
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 2015 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Orlando, Florida, July 5-10, 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 2015 room rates are singles, doubles, and twins, $82; and triples and quads, $89. 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 June 1, 2015. The other 50 percent is not refundable.
Rooms will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be made before June 1, 2015, assuming that rooms are still available. After that time the hotel will not hold our room block for the convention. 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 2015 convention is:
Sunday, July 5 Seminar Day
Monday, July 6 Registration Day
Tuesday, July 7 Board Meeting and Division Day
Wednesday, July 8 Opening Session
Thursday, July 9 Business Session
Friday, July 10 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. 58, No. 4 April 2015
Illustration: 2015 Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership Seminar
The Deaf-blind Dilemma
by Cathy Guillory Miller
Accessibility at Microsoft: More Challenges than Victories
by Curtis Chong
Service Animal Laws Challenged in Arizona
by Donald Porterfield
South Carolina: An Affiliate with Treasures, Traditions,
and Targets for Future Accomplishments
by Gary Wunder
Blind Bookie Caught in Braille Trap
Maurer Devotes Career to Serving Blind Americans
by Josh Stow
A Review of Friendships in the Dark: a Blind Woman’s Story of the People
and Pets Who Light up her World
by Donna W. Hill
Dr. Joanne Wilson Retires: Another Jernigan Pioneer Enters a New Phase of Life
by Jim Omvig
Window into 1957: Pima County Club of the Blind
by Anna Kresmer
Local Author to Be Featured in ABA Journal
The Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund
by Allen Harris
Copyright 2015 by the National Federation of the Blind
For a few years now staff members of our National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute have conducted Transformational Seminars that are designed to recalibrate the expectations community leaders have of the abilities of the blind. The goal is to empower these leaders with education and a positive perception of blind people, with the hope that they will go back and spread this mindset with others in their community. The primary participants in these seminars have come from the members of the Greater Baltimore LEADERship group, an annual leadership training program that boasts Dr. Betsy Zaborowski, Rosy Carranza, and President Mark Riccobono as past graduates, and Anil Lewis as a member of the current class.
The transformational experience begins with a human guide activity where the participants are led under sleep shades to the conference room where the seminar will take place. The goal of this is not to simulate blindness, but to make them understand that this activity can only give them the experience of losing sight, not the experience of living with the loss of sight. We briefly discuss their perceptions, their assumptions, their fears, and their altered self-concept.
This is where we begin the transformation, substituting their fears with our experience.
Over the next three hours participants are exposed to the training that would be essential for them to regain their independence: cane travel, Braille, access technology, home economics, and a simple woodshop experience. We stress that, in addition to skills development, our goal is to teach problem-solving skills and to build self-confidence. We describe our structured discovery and immersion approach to training and explain that our adult rehabilitation training programs usually last from six to nine months.
The cane travel, home economics, and woodshop activities are conducted under sleep shades to demonstrate that it is possible to perform these tasks without sight. We do not use sleep shades for the Braille and access technology activities because we want the participants to gain a true understanding of the effectiveness of these tools regardless of their finger sensitivity or keyboarding proficiency. Each activity is conducted in a different location throughout the Jernigan Institute, providing the participants an opportunity to tour our world-class facility.
Throughout the entire process we provide an education about the National Federation of the Blind, encourage candid conversations about blindness, and promote our philosophy of independence and full participation. We bring the experience to a close by providing lunch while facilitating a free flowing discussion about the experience and answering any questions they may have about blindness.
by Cathy Guillory Miller
From the Editor: In the October 2014 issue we ran an article of particular interest to people who are deaf blind about the service iCanConnect. In trying to edit that article, I found that there was much I did not know about the deaf blind. I consulted with Joe Naulty, and he recommended that I speak with Cathy Guillory Miller. I wanted to understand more about the conventions regarding the words deaf blind and the reason or reasons why the words were written differently. Sometimes they were written as two separate words, sometimes they were hyphenated, and sometimes they were written in upper case, lower case, or a mixture. Was it simply a matter of preference, style, or was there something more important for me to know as I edited the article? The letter Cathy wrote to me explained so much that I asked her permission to run it as an article in the Braille Monitor. She gave her permission, and I offer this with the hope that it will be as helpful to our readers as it has been to me. As you read it, I think certain parallels will become obvious. Here is what she says:
In the community we have a very rich history, including two distinct cultures which have been so severely separated from one another by their language that there doesn't seem to be any evidence they were even aware of one another's existence until sometime after the rise of the information age.
First there is the Deaf-blind, with a capital D. These are folks from the Deaf culture who, for one reason or another, have become blind. They may have been born into deaf families and later experienced the loss of vision. People who self-identify as Deaf with a capital D consider themselves part of a relatively isolated nondisabled community. They are isolated by their language from the community at large. They often are able to communicate with members of the hearing community through various adaptive means but choose to maintain close association among themselves.
Part of the reason for their choice to isolate themselves lies in the history of Deaf people in this country. At one time educators believed that using hand signs was a lower form of communication--not fit for humans. Hearing teachers at residential schools for the Deaf forced Deaf children to read lips and to practice using their voices. Deaf students spent long, weary hours working with speech therapists and were forbidden from using their language of choice. Because of this oppression, which continued for years, American Sign Language (ASL) was nearly extinguished. A whole generation of Deaf students kept the language alive by sneaking signs with each other at night in their dormitory rooms.
If a student had any amount of residual hearing, he or she was forced to wear hearing aids. Hearing aid technology was not very evolved during this time; the devices were not very useful, plus they were highly uncomfortable. It was a tradition among Deaf children upon completing school to throw away their hearing aids in celebration of their new freedom.
Because of all the oppression by the hearing educators, this generation of Deaf people learned to distrust the hearing community. That distrust continues today and is perpetuated by incidents such as the failure of institutions such as hospitals and the judicial system to hire qualified interpreters when serving a Deaf person, resulting in horror stories about wrongful incarceration, withheld medical treatment, etc. A common cruelty involves police officers restraining the wrists of a Deaf person, who then is unable to use his or her hands to communicate with an interpreter if one is present.
Such distrust and animosity between the Deaf and hearing cultures extends to blind folks who, for various reasons, have lost their hearing. This group of deaf-blind people [deaf-blind being hyphenated but in lower case] do not naturally self-identify as deaf-blind. They have likely started to come to terms with their blindness through association with groups such as the NFB. The tragedy here is that, in the past, the true model of the independent vanilla blind did not include anyone who had "something else wrong with them." If one had a hearing loss, one might as well remain in an institution or on the street corner holding out a hat. The "hearing" deaf-blind person was not likely to speak out and self-advocate. The deaf-blind from the hearing culture were not seen any differently from the hearing population in general in the eyes of the Deaf and Deaf-blind from the Deaf culture.
Furthermore, since the deaf-blind with a lower-case D did not learn to use ASL, communication between the two deaf-blind cultures was, for all intents and purposes, impossible. In rare circumstances, where the two groups were placed together, the result was extremely uncomfortable. Each group ignored the other. The act of ignoring was interpreted by the other group as snobbery.
I am a deaf-blind person who is from the hearing culture. My hearing loss was so severe that I made the choice to study at a total immersion facility for several months in order to learn sign language. All my teachers were Deaf. Upon completing my course of study, I had regained the ability to communicate; yet I could still not communicate with anyone I had known before I began my study. Hence I would need to choose the culture to which I would belong. Should I say good-bye to all my friends and family? They were not about to learn to sign.
I was very fortunate that, within two or three years of learning ASL, I was given the opportunity to qualify for cochlear implants. They were both successful, and I have my life back as a blind person. But most others are not so fortunate.
So now we have two different groups of DB [deaf blind] folks who can't communicate with each other. They have the same disability. Both have a combined vision and hearing loss, both can benefit from an SSP [Support Service Provider], and both can benefit from Braille. There are some DB folks who cross over the culture line. We see them at our DB Seminar during our NFB Convention. We cannot ignore them. They cannot ignore us. They need the NFB philosophy. We need them behind us and with us when we go to Capitol Hill someday to ask for a national SSP Program. When I go to one of their meetings, because they know me as one of their supporters, they provide me with a voice interpreter. The NFB has begun providing interpreters for DB attendees who use ASL. The DB Division is agonizing over the cost of ASL interpreters.But relationships between these two groups are very difficult to forge. These relationships must be developed over time, with patience enough to allow the formulation of trust. As Pam Allen has said to me regarding the differences that set us apart, the key is education. We will not overcome the damage that history has done unless we first understand what will be required to heal the wounds.
by Curtis Chong
From the Editor: Curtis Chong is the president of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, and in this capacity he is on the frontline when it comes to hearing about technical problems and being expected to offer some fix, work around, or political way to address problems that keep blind people from being as productive as they must in order to compete. Because most of the desktop and laptop market is dominated by Microsoft products, and because Microsoft has had more experience in dealing with accessibility issues than any other company, it is not surprising that the president of the computer science division hears frequently about user frustrations, lost jobs, and opportunities never pursued.
Although we are currently engaged with Microsoft in a dialogue expected to result in some advances in accessibility, this article is appropriate in expressing the frustration that members and nonmembers alike have when they try to use products that are essential at home, at school, and in the places they work. Here is what Curtis has to say:
There can be little doubt that Microsoft products are widely used today in almost every aspect of life. The majority of employers in this country require their employees to use programs from Microsoft (especially programs that are part of Microsoft Office) to accomplish the tasks they perform every day such as sending and receiving email, creating and editing documents, administering databases, managing projects, and so on. At home many people have personal computers that run the Microsoft Windows operating system and possibly Microsoft Office. At my doctor's office I cannot avoid the sound of the mouse clicking as my doctor reviews my medical chart using a computer powered by Microsoft Windows. While computers made by Apple arguably are gaining market share, Microsoft programs continue to maintain a highly visible presence in our lives. For those of us who are blind, access to Microsoft products is not just something that we would like to have. Rather, full nonvisual access to Microsoft products is essential if we are to have any hope of being able to compete in today's technology-driven labor market, let alone maintain parity with our sighted neighbors at home.
For more than two decades the Microsoft Corporation has had a team of individuals responsible for promoting and assuring the accessibility of its various products to people with disabilities, including the blind. You might assume, therefore, that after more than twenty years of effort, Microsoft would stand out as a leader in the world of accessible software and that all (or at least most) of the programs it sells would be accessible to and usable by the blind. If so, you would be wrong! After twenty years of effort, Microsoft's accessibility team is still unable to serve as a gatekeeper to prevent Microsoft from releasing blatantly inaccessible products.
The frustrating reality is that the accessibility effort within the Microsoft organization has not been given the power and influence it must have if the goal of ubiquitous accessibility is ever to be achieved. In other words a Microsoft product is accessible today—not because it is required to be so; it is accessible because the accessibility team was able to persuade a specific product group to do what is necessary to make its product work for people with disabilities.
Today only a small percentage of Microsoft products are regarded by the blind as comfortable and intuitive to use. Examples include Windows Explorer (referred to as File Explorer in Windows 8), most of the Microsoft Office Suite, Internet Explorer, and several (but not all) functions of the Windows operating system. Even for these supposedly accessible programs, accessibility and efficiency have deteriorated as newer versions of software are released. Consequently, whenever we who are blind hear about a new Microsoft product, we feel a certain amount of skepticism about the ability of that product to work with our screen-access technology and are pleasantly surprised if, in fact, the product turns out to work for us.
Below are seven examples of how Microsoft has fallen short of what seem like very realistic accessibility goals. As you consider these examples, bear in mind that this list represents a tiny fraction of the scope of the problem and that well over 80 percent of Microsoft products remain inaccessible to nonvisual users.
Year after year, the National Federation of the Blind and the Microsoft Accessibility Team engage in active and ongoing communication, and year after year, we have communicated our frustrations and concerns to this team. I and other leaders of the NFB in Computer Science have met at many national conventions with Rob Sinclair, the head of Microsoft's accessibility team. Although our meetings are very positive and our relationship with Mr. Sinclair extremely collegial, the reality is that we see far more accessibility challenges with Microsoft products than victories. Perhaps this is because, at Microsoft (as with too many other companies), accessibility continues to be a matter of education and persuasion and not something that everyone within the company is required to achieve. How different the situation would be if Microsoft had in place a policy which required accessibility instead of merely encouraging it.
As Microsoft products move from the desktop to the cloud and as its corporate customers move in this same direction, it is vital that nonvisual users be able to move with them; our jobs and our independence demand it. Now, the $64,000 question is, how can we get Microsoft to deliver ubiquitous accessibility and usability to everyone—including the blind?
by Donald Porterfield
From the Editor: Donald Porterfield is the first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona and serves as its legislative director. Recently he found out about a proposal to eliminate protections for service dogs, including guide dogs for the blind. Here is an email he distributed in late February, supplemented by an interview I had with him:
On Tuesday, February 17, 2015, the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona and other disability groups were alerted that an amended bill was scheduled for a committee hearing in the Arizona House of Representatives at 9:00 AM on the 19th. The bill (HB 2179) included a “Strike all” amendment, meaning that the original language of the bill would be replaced with new and unrelated language. If the bill were passed out of committee and subsequently passed into law, it would have fundamentally altered Arizona’s service animal law (A.R.S. §11-1024).
Proposed changes would have:
The National Federation of the Blind of Arizona (NFBA) and several other disability groups reacted quickly and organized an effective response to the proposed legislation. NFBA has an active legislative committee, and, along with members from the Tucson, Phoenix, and East Valley chapters, all of us appeared at the Arizona State Capitol building prior to the start of the meeting in order to register as many people as possible to speak against the bill in the committee hearing. In addition, the NFBA legislative committee appealed to affiliate members who could not personally attend the meeting and asked them to email the committee chair and other committee members urging them to vote against the legislation. We were able to send out approximately thirty emails before the committee hearing started.
During the hearing the committee chair made it clear that his intent was not to pass legislation that imposed greater restrictions on persons with disabilities who require the use of service animals. He said that he intended to craft a bill that punished “bad actors,” or those individuals who masquerade their pets as service animals for the sole purpose of taking them into places that prohibit pets. This intent was not evident in the wording of the bill. The impetus for this legislation, according to the representative, was a constituent recounting his visit to a restaurant where someone was accompanied by a small dog and the constituent’s family member was sneezing and alleging that he had an allergy to dogs. The representative never inquired about whether the dog was a service animal. The customer doing the sneezing never complained to the restaurant. The restaurant never questioned whether the animal it had admitted was a service animal. The representative admitted that it was not so much the specifics of this incident that caused him to act but his conjecture that this kind of abuse might be occurring somewhere in his state. Do we now base major changes in state law on hypotheticals and what ifs? Are we no longer motivated by the expressed concerns of our constituents but by our intuition that we should act on their behalf whether or not they have the good sense to ask us? Should we act on behalf of businesses we perceive to be aggrieved even though they have made no request of the Arizona General Assembly?
Many members of the NFBA and the other disability groups testified in opposition to the bill. All testimony given by the public indicated that the stated intent differed from that of the actual bill and that, as written, this bill violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Testimony suggested that, rather than advance a bad bill, a bill should be written that focused on the “bad actors” rather than persons with disabilities.
At one point during the hearing the process became so confused that the sponsor of the bill thought it had been passed by a vote of two to zero. So disturbed were committee members by the confusion and the supposed vote that the Speaker of the House entered the hearing room, talked with the chairman, and observed as the vote was once again taken.
Due to effective grassroots advocacy by the NFBA and other disability groups, this bill was defeated by a unanimous vote of eight to zero. The committee members who commented on their votes cited the testimony given by the public as strongly influencing their votes.
My thanks and gratitude go out to everyone who participated in the committee hearing, sent emails, and made phone calls. Sometimes we are asked why it is important to be a part of an organization of the blind and whether such organizations really have any influence in the halls of power. Both of these questions were answered at a House hearing in Arizona, and all of us, guide dog or cane users, are the better for our diligence, commitment, and ability to mobilize and articulate our position in a way that is both credible and understandable.
by Gary Wunder
From the Editor: President Riccobono mentioned on a recent release that we would like to highlight programs of our affiliates and asked that information be sent that we could use for this purpose. Here is the first in what we hope will be a series of miniatures and articles that bring to light affiliate treasures that should be shared nationally.
On Thursday, December 11, 2014, I had the pleasure of traveling to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit with members of the National Federation of the Blind. I was met at the airport by Parnell Diggs and his niece and within the hour met two strong Federationists, Frank and Shelley Coppel, who acted as my hosts while in Columbia.
What a pleasure it was to attend the Christmas party celebration of the Columbia Chapter. This was not a unique experience for me since I belong to the Columbia Chapter and have attended many a Christmas party, but my Columbia is in Missouri, and this one was farther south and has traditions that predate the chapter I love in the Middle West.
Not only do tremendous spirit, warmth, and love typify the Christmas season, but these three words accurately sum up what I found at the chapter meeting on this Thursday evening. I was privileged to sit at the head table with President Diggs and the former president of the South Carolina affiliate, Dr. Donald Capps. One cannot help being impressed with the work these two men have done. The record of Dr. Capps's longtime commitment to his affiliate and our Federation is evident in the Federation's Columbia office, in the Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind (RBRCCB), and in his tenure over many years on the board of the National Federation of the Blind.
Similarly one cannot but be impressed with the work of President Diggs, whose work to carry on in the tradition of his mentor and teacher is evident, as is his commitment to move the Federation forward in the twenty-first century. President Diggs is now a member of the national board, and his work in supporting the work of our national body philosophically, financially, and legislatively speaks for itself. Not only is this president gifted with political skills, but he is quite the musician, as all who were at the Christmas party can attest. Parnell had attended four chapter meetings in the week that witnessed our dinner meeting. This is all the more amazing given his role as husband, father, and head of his own law firm. No doubt his accomplishments mean that he practices what he preaches, that he is a man of action, and that he is living the life he wants.
But back to the meeting and the genuine love and warmth I felt there: Being a part of this gathering was certainly one of the highlights of my Christmas season and will be an event I will long remember.
On Friday morning members of three important boards were on the road to the RBRCCB. With a meal stop it took us about five hours to make the journey, but that time wasn't wasted in boredom or in counting the passing miles. All of us took turns asking questions about one another, expressing our views about the traditions of the Federation statewide and nationally, teaching one another little tips about our technology, and sharing some of our favorite music thanks to the magic of the internet and our iPhones. I had a captive audience while I shared some of my favorite folk singers and even got people to join with me in celebrating the life and music of Glen Campbell.
Going to Rocky Bottom is a test of one's faith in physics, engineering, and the design of the motor vehicle while van and luggage trailer first climb a mountain and then steeply descend into the valley. Whether this turbulent ride is due to the incline of the terrain or the bumpy ride one would expect in a time machine, I cannot say, but soon we are taken from the twenty-first century and the civilization familiar to those of us who work in the information age as our cell phones read zero bars, our phone service is gone, the internet belongs to the rest of the world, and the familiar chime that indicates a newly received text message goes silent. In their place we find ourselves in a time that permits us to enjoy the silence, engage in reflection, and revisit times in our lives when conversations between human beings sharing a parlor took center-stage and opinion and fact could be uttered without constantly trying to verify them through Bing or Google or by asking Jeeves. It was what my grandparent would have called a typical front porch evening, and it was fantastic.
Saturday morning began with some exercise as we walked from our cabin to the cafeteria. Those hills that tested our brakes the evening before now tested our leg muscles as we climbed our way to the first meal of the day. The volunteers who made our meals did us proud, and no one went away hungry.
Gathered around a conference table, coffee well within reach, we settled in for the first of three board meetings that would occur before the work was over and another party would begin. This meeting was for the board of directors of the Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind, and it was chaired by Former President Capps. The Rocky Bottom facility was secured by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina in 1978 and came as a direct result of a good turn by Dr. Capps for one of his company's insurance customers. This customer suffered a loss while at a mental hospital when someone shut his hand in a door. While technically his policy denied coverage when one was receiving medical care, Dr. Capps reasoned that the accident had nothing to do with being in this hospital and everything to do with an accident that could have happened anywhere. He authorized payment of the claim. He did write a letter noting that, according to the policy, the company assumed no liability but was paying the claim because it was the right thing to do.
Later that satisfied customer looked up Dr. Capps, expressed his admiration for what he had done, and offered him an opportunity to take his family to a place Capps had never heard of before, Rocky Bottom. Feeling it would be inappropriate for him to take advantage of a vacation opportunity that came from the settlement of a claim, Capps thanked the customer but said he could not ethically take advantage of the offer. Not easily dissuaded, the man went to the president of the company who, after hearing his story, not only told Capps he should take advantage of the vacation opportunity but commended him on his moral courage and decision-making as one of its senior officers.
Capps fell in love with the facility and visited it for more than a decade. But as fine as the countryside was, little effort was being made to maintain the facilities, and the county found itself on the verge of condemning the property. Seeing an opportunity for the Federation to start a project that would benefit the blind, Capps made a proposal to the county commissioner and later the full commission, committing to restore the buildings if the county would give the property to the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. This was done in 1978, and the Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center has been serving the blind ever since.
Following a splendid lunch, a meeting of the Federation Center of the Blind board was conducted by Chairman Frank Coppel. The center building is located in Columbia and traditionally was the property of the Columbia chapter. It has for some time been the state office of the Federation, so its board has now been expanded to include members in addition to those living in Columbia.
The Federation Center not only serves as the statewide office for the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, but is used for various meetings of the blind, including the Columbia Chapter. It also has a contract with the South Carolina Commission for the Blind for the teaching of technology.
Sometime ago the Federation Center for the Blind was damaged, when a vehicle driven by a drunk driver crashed through a wall and destroyed a significant part of the conference room. Some irreplaceable portraits were irreparably damaged and office chairs and tables were destroyed. A good inventory and the legal skills of President Diggs have resulted in a settlement that will cover those things that can be replaced, the loss of revenue in not being able to rent the building for other activities, and the Federation's cost in having to relocate its meetings to other facilities. Determining the true cost to the Federation also had to include the increased cost of utilities during the coldest months of the winter, given that the insulation and one of the walls were destroyed.
The last formal meeting of the day was held by the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. Much of the agenda was devoted to a discussion of activities surrounding our seventy-fifth anniversary convention and the efforts the affiliate would make to get people to Orlando. Issues to be covered at the Washington Seminar were discussed, as was our work on branding and the messages associated with it. Like every conscientious affiliate, the NFB of South Carolina is concentrating on building its membership, which involves reaching out to new people and then establishing the human connections that make them feel a part of what we do and cement their desire to remain involved.
Since these meetings fell in the middle of the holiday season and Christmas was close at hand, we concluded our evening with a banquet, and those who prepared the food received a rousing round of applause, and many thank-you messages found their way into the evening's festivities.
After three inspiring but long and tiring meetings, many in the group left the banquet and immediately fell into—no, not bed, but party mode. The comradery was wonderful.
No report concerning the NFB of South Carolina would be complete without mentioning the name of David Houck. He works for the affiliate and heads its office. He serves in several capacities on behalf of the Federation Center's board, manages the building, and oversees many of the fundraisers, grant applications, and publications that get distributed for all three entities discussed here. He has worked for the NFB of South Carolina for more than thirty years and, when asked about his job, says, "If I wore any more hats, I'd have to get a set of antlers."As Parnell Diggs wisely observes, his job as the president of the affiliate is to preserve the traditions that have made the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina what it is, while at the same time ensuring that it has the vision and exercises the judgment to meet the needs of the blind in the second decade of the twenty-first century. "We have many programs that other affiliates don't have, but we can't let this stop us from embracing new ones, especially national ones. We are enthusiastic about BELL, and we want to be a part of every national program sponsored or supported by the national body. Just as the Federation must be an agent for change in work with the blind, I must be an agent for change in our affiliate—treasuring our past, managing our present, and planning for the future—and I am honored that members of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina have entrusted me with leading our effort. I will do my best to make them proud in the tradition of those who have come before, and I will do my best to see that we remain as vibrant and as relevant as we were when we were founded. I know that, with the help of my brothers and sisters here in South Carolina and across our great nation, we will make life better for the blind than it has ever been before."
From the Editor: Last year we ran an April Fool’s joke about training hawks to serve the blind. It was received with mixed results. Some people thought it was innovative, some thought the Jernigan Institute had no right to start a new program without at least discussing it with the membership, some saw it for the gag it was, and many gingerly asked their friends “What was that thing about the hawk?” So here we are, April once again, and you are no doubt wondering what nod we will make to April fools. No doubt with a little creativity we could try to throw you Monitor readers another curve, but sometimes what they say about fact being funnier than fiction is true. See what you think. This article originally appeared in Inside News, Washington, DC, January 1967 and was reprinted in the April 1967 issue of the Braille Monitor:
The cops had been trying for three years to get the goods on Paul "Big Boy" Pugh, forty-eight, a suspected bookie who was blind. But though they raided his apartment several times over the years, they never found anything upon which to build a case.
Then an alert rookie cop discovered that Pugh—who has been blind since birth—was recording bets in Braille, the written language of the blind.
Arrested with Pugh in a raid on his New York apartment were twenty-eight-year-old Danny Brookes and thirty-year-old Bing Goff. Both of the men were charged as accomplices in what police say was a $100,000-a-year illegal betting operation.
Pugh, police charged, was the mastermind, kingpin, and top dog in the ring. He allegedly took bets on everything from horse races to elections to the weather. The cops had been onto him for years but, without definite physical proof, they were powerless to put him out of circulation. Each time they raided his apartment, all they found were several books with their pages punched in Braille. Thinking these were innocent reading matter, the cops ignored the books, turning the premises inside out in search of recognizable betting slips or other records which could be used as evidence in court. On each occasion, no luck.
Then, Patrolman Frank Stevens, twenty-three, joined the raiding party. Stevens, who had just become a member of the force a year ago, was told that the raid was just a routine harassment procedure. "This guy's too cagey to leave anything lying around," said a veteran officer, "so don't expect to find anything." While the blind bookie sat solemnly by, a sarcastic smile playing on his lips, the cops went through the motions of searching the place, knowing in their hearts they'd leave empty-handed. But this time, thanks to rookie Stevens, they were in for a pleasant surprise. Stevens, who had once been a volunteer worker at the local rehabilitation center for the blind, began rifling through one of the Braille books on Pugh's desk. And his trained fingers, which were able to read the Braille impressions, discovered that the books were full of betting records. Instead of keeping slips in the conventional manner, Pugh simply purchased bound books with blank pages. At the top of each page, in Braille, was the date of the entries. The bets themselves were recorded in Braille below.
Released after posting $5,000 bail, Pugh complained to reporters: "These cops are just picking on me because of my handicap. All I was trying to do was make a decent living. What did they expect me to do—spend the rest of my life selling pencils?"
by Josh Stow
From the Editor: This article about Immediate Past President Marc Maurer is reprinted with the kind permission of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. A link to their newsletter can be found at <http://my.nd.edu/s/1210/myND/interior-2col.aspx?sid=1210&gid=1&sitebuilder=1&pgid =23642>. Here is the well-deserved tribute:
How on earth was a blind young man going to grill burgers for his new friends?
That’s the question Marc Maurer (class of 1974) pondered after he was asked to cook after a meeting for blind people. He’d dealt with his lack of sight since birth, but he was about to learn just how little it limited him.
Kenneth Jernigan, who would become his mentor, showed him how to grill. First, Maurer learned to pour lighter fluid and drop a match on the coals. After they were hot, he pulled on a pair of fireproof gloves and gently stirred them to distribute the fire. Now he was ready to cook dinner.
“I found out there’s lots to blindness I didn’t know. The limitations are much less if you know how to handle them,” Maurer says, recalling how that moment with Jernigan changed his life. “He told me, ‘Lots of people will tell you that you can’t do things, but you’ll find out that you can, if you’ll just learn the techniques.’”
That moment cemented Maurer’s relationship with Jernigan, who would lead him to Notre Dame and help him grow into a leader who offered hope and opportunity to countless others as president of the National Federation of the Blind.
Maurer, who was born prematurely, became blind shortly after birth when he was overexposed to oxygen. He grew up in Boone, Iowa, in a family of six children, where money was tight, and he and his siblings held odd jobs to help make ends meet. He began by baking bread and selling it around the neighborhood, then opened a business selling garter belts designed to help pregnant women wear stockings more comfortably.
He became involved with the Iowa Commission for the Blind, where members encouraged Maurer to think about further education, even arranging for him to take the college entrance exam in Braille.
Grilling burgers was just the start of his hands-on, can-do education. In a group-sponsored shop class, he learned how to overhaul a car engine. “I did it because the guys at the program told me, ‘if you want to do something, we’ll help you learn how to do it,’” Maurer says.
He first considered attending St. John’s University in Minnesota after a parish priest urged him to visit. But Jernigan suggested he consider Notre Dame and helped him find a scholarship when he was accepted.
Maurer, who lived in Sorin Hall, was used to navigating city streets with a cane, but, after arriving on campus, he had to learn his way around all over again. “It was magnificent fun and also scary as all get-out,” he recalls. “I got some people to tell me where things were some of the time. I had to wander around quite a bit to figure out where I was going.”
Initially he planned to study mechanical engineering, but a talk with Jernigan after the first semester nudged him in another direction. “He told me, ‘You can be an engineer and you can build things and they’ll be good, but if you really want to change the course of society, you need to study the Great Books,’” Maurer says.
So Maurer enrolled in the General Program (now the Program of Liberal Studies), exploring a variety of academic fields with his classmates.
“The people in the program were fun, they were curious, they were challenging, many of them had read quite a bit,” he says, “and the books were of a wide enough range that you got the idea that one discipline isn’t enough, that you needed to develop a comprehensive view of the world.”
This perspective, he says, helped him believe that he could create change, paving the way for his work as a civil rights attorney and his role with the National Federation of the Blind.
After graduating from Notre Dame and earning a law degree at Indiana University, Maurer handled a variety of cases dealing with employment law, including some that dealt with discrimination based on blindness. The National Federation of the Blind sometimes hired him to handle cases, and Jernigan, who had become the organization’s leader, convinced him to join as legal counsel.
Over time Jernigan helped Maurer hone his leadership abilities and invited him to consider serving as president. He was elected in 1986 and set a record by leading the organization until 2014. During his tenure he oversaw construction of the Jernigan Institute, which offers education, services, and products for the blind. He tackled a variety of other initiatives such as putting a blind driver in a car on the Daytona Motor Speedway—memorable experiences in a long career of service. “When do you do something like that?” Maurer says. “You can’t try everything all at the same time, when do you need a new challenge, and how do you bring the resources together to make this challenge happen? These are the things you need to learn how to do if you’re going to run an organization.”
Beyond managing multiple projects and priorities, Maurer drew on the power of ideas to help drive change. “The president has to figure out how to put together dramatic, challenging texts that say to people, ‘there’s something you don’t know that we can do together to make the world a better place than it’s been so far, and here’s how we’ll get there,’” he says.
Now, as he reflects on his work to help the blind, Maurer credits Notre Dame with inspiring him to make a positive impact. “There were lots of us when we got to college who wanted to change the world. We wanted it to be different, we wanted it to be better,” he says. “In my life I’ve done that. The inspiration I got from the university was part of it. I learned not to give up on the notion that we can build a world that is more interesting and fun and accepting, and that includes a belief system that supports people.
“Blindness is often a hidden matter. People who become blind often don’t want to tell people. They don’t know what to do with their lives and what the future can be. Tell them to get in touch with us, because we can help them. We’re in the business of hope.”
One of the great satisfactions in life is having the opportunity to assist others. Consider making a gift to the National Federation of the Blind to continue turning our dreams into reality. A gift to the NFB is not merely a donation to an organization; it provides resources that will directly ensure a brighter future for all blind people.
The National Federation of the Blind has special giving opportunities that will benefit the giver as well as the NFB. Of course the largest benefit to the donor is the satisfaction of knowing that the gift is leaving a legacy of opportunity. However, gifts may be structured to provide more:
NFB programs are dynamic:
Your gift makes you a partner in the NFB dream. For further information or assistance, contact the NFB planned giving officer.
by Donna W. Hill
From the Editor: This book review was initially published on Goodreads and to Donna's blog at <http://donnawhill.com/2014/09/29/friendships-in-the-dark-by-phyllis-campbell-a-book-review/>. Donna Hill is a member of our affiliate in Pennsylvania, and Phyllis Campbell is a member in Virginia. Here is Donna’s review:
When you read the subtitle of Friendships in the Dark, what do you think you'll be getting? Stories about great people? Great animals? If so, you would be correct; this book has awesome dogs, cats, and people in spades. It's an excellent read on so many levels—not the least of which is that it gives us a glimpse into the world of America's "Greatest Generation" from the perspective of someone who witnessed its realities as a child.
Each chapter begins with a quote—always a crowd-pleaser for me. My favorites are: one, "No one ever gets far, unless he accomplishes the impossible at least once a day," by Elbert Hubbard. Two, "Hope against hope, and ask till you receive," by James Montgomery. Three, "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall," by Confucius.
If you stumbled over the part about a "blind woman," however, you may be wary, worried that you just don't want to read something that makes you feel sorry for someone's problems or that, whatever compensations that may have come into this woman's life, you would find small comfort in them. If that's the case, my sympathies, because you are woefully off base.
"I have never felt cheated of the rich beauty the world has to give," writes Campbell, who was born totally blind, "For as long as I can remember, I have reached out to the world around me, giving and taking all the good things life has to offer."
Friendships in the Dark is the story of exultant joy in the midst of life's challenges, the power of dedicated teachers, humor, and a casual honesty brought to life for the reader by a master writer. Campbell's prose is playful, happy without being sappy, poignant without being morose, a perfectly balanced view into the best of family, community, and the triumphant splendor of the human spirit.
Phyllis Campbell was a child living on a Virginia farm during WWII, the youngest of four children. It's a home filled with love, concern for a brother going off to war, and the determination of a mother that her girls were going to be successful and independent, despite what the neighbors think.
Yes, Phyllis wasn't the first blind kid in the family. Seven years her senior, Inez was also blind, and she teaches Phyllis Braille and awakens in her a love of reading that would guide her throughout her life.
When it's time for Phyllis to join her sister at Virginia's residential school for the blind, their older sister Fay gets a job there to be with them. Six-year-old Phyllis falls ill and experiences the problems that faced children needing procedures at a time when the doctors were overseas. Soon her father leaves the farm he loves and takes a job in town so the family can be closer. The cows and horses can't come, but can her parents bring young Phyllis's beloved dog and cat?
Campbell shows us dogs and cats like no one else can—how they interact differently with blind and deaf children, how they befriend mentally ill patients at the hospital where her father works, and how they purr and wag their way into even the most reluctant hearts.
This is the story of a young girl growing into a mature, loving, talented, and independent woman; the story of how music, flowers, and a dog bring that woman and the love of her life together; and the story of countless improbable but true ways that dogs and cats play vital roles in the lives of their people. It is also the story of how a guide dog named Leer gives a woman independence even as she loses sight of its true meaning.
There is sadness, but Phyllis is optimistic and confident from the beginning, largely protected from the humiliation, despair, and isolation many blind people experience. Her story is a reminder to those who have experienced it and an awakening to those who haven't of the incredible joy which is possible when we reach out to one another as equals, embrace family and community, and are reassured that, whether or not our prayers are answered, they are always heard.
Phyllis Campbell, a member of the NFB Writers' Division who writes two bi-monthly columns for the Our Special magazine (National Braille Press), serves as organist at Faith Lutheran Church in historic downtown Staunton, Virginia. She teaches piano and voice, specializing in Braille music.
Born in Amherst County, Virginia, Phyllis moved to Staunton at age seven. She is a graduate of the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind and went on to study at Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Dunsmore Business College in Staunton. She took further courses from the Hadley School for the Blind (Winnetka, Illinois). In 1989 she received their Lifelong Learning Award. She has worked as a music teacher, peer counselor, computer tutor, and as youth transition coordinator.
Phyllis has been writing since the 60s. Her first novel was Come Home My Heart (Avalon Books, 1986). Friendships in the Dark (Brett Books, 1996), her memoir about growing up blind, was picked up by St. Martin's Press (1997) and translated into Chinese (Sea Breeze, China, 1998). Who Will Hear Them Cry? and A Place to Belong were self-published in 2012.Her most recent release is the suspense novel Out of the Night (2014), available from Smashwords as electronic downloads in a variety of file types including .mobi (Kindle), .epub (Apple, Nook, Sony, etc.) and .rtf (accessible for readers with print disabilities): <https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/405450>. Or, find it on Amazon at <http://www.amazon.com/Out-The-Night-Phyllis-Campbell-ebook/dp/B00IA04IXW>. Come Home My Heart and Friendships in the Dark are available on BARD.
by Jim Omvig
From the Editor: Joanne Wilson is one of the finest Federationists I’ve ever known. She is friendly, outgoing, energetic, and inspirational. Her brains and her energy have served the Federation well, and it is fitting that a friend such as Jim Omvig take on the task of sharing a little about Joanne in these pages.
But before we get to Jim, the first memory I have of meeting Joanne was on a convention elevator. Almost every Federationist who attends a national convention has an elevator story, but the elevator Joanne and I shared stopped between floors, and one of the passengers was quite upset and scared. My job was to calm him down and to work on using the telephone in the elevator to get us help. Now I wasn’t the first Federationist to hold Joanne’s new baby (more about her in Jim’s article), but I bet I was the first person other than Joanne to hold her while on a stuck elevator. Such is my claim to fame. Here is what Jim has to say about a wonderful person who has blessed us with so much of her time, talent, energy, and enthusiasm:
Dr. Joanne Wilson of the Federation's National Center staff in Baltimore retired as of December 31, 2014. Newer members of the Federation, newer Monitor readers, newer chapter members, or newer state or national convention attendees are more than likely familiar with her recent life as a National Office staff member but probably not with her earlier years. Newer readers may not think of her as one of the Jernigan Pioneers.
She joined our national staff in March of 2005 and among other things has served as head of our Affiliate Action unit; as a leader of many seminars both in Baltimore and at national conventions; as a presenter about Federation philosophy and training at various functions around the country; as an advocate with US congressmen and senators at many of our Washington Seminars; and as one of our national representatives at many state conventions through the years. All would agree that she is a wonderful woman and a fine leader.
This all sounds terrific, doesn't it? But there's more, much more. So, now, as Paul Harvey used to say, "I want to tell you the rest of the story." This is what one might call a teachable moment. I urge those of you who are newly blind, parents of a blind child, or the friend of someone who has not adjusted effectively to his or her blindness, to dig in your mental heels and read and re-read this profile until you understand and believe.
Joanne Wilson was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 29, 1946. She was Joanne Zeihan (pronounced Zion). She tells me that, by the time she was three years old, it was clear to her parents and her doctor that she had a severe visual impairment. Her problem turned out to be retinitis pigmentosa (RP). For those who are not familiar with this eye disease, it causes a gradual narrowing of the field of vision (tunnel vision), a degeneration of the retina itself, and also what is commonly referred to as "night blindness." One who has RP can see fairly well outside in good daylight, but, when you come indoors, you are almost instantly totally blind. And of course it ultimately leads to total blindness.
Joanne's parents knew nothing about blindness. They wanted to help, but they didn't know what to do. They had originally come from Webster City, Iowa, and, after they learned about Joanne's poor eyes, they reasoned that a young visually impaired child would probably have a much better chance for decent help in rural Iowa than in the hustle and bustle of Chicago. So, when they got the chance, which was when Joanne was seven years old, they returned home to Iowa. What a fateful decision that turned out to be! Kenneth Jernigan would also come to Iowa only five years later.
Joanne describes her childhood as dreadful. She started school in a parochial school and attended it until the time came for high school. Her vision continued to deteriorate, but the school had no help for her. She read print very slowly and spent an inordinate number of hours reading each day just trying to keep up with her fellow students.
She confesses that, because of her tunnel vision and night blindness, she also developed an intense fear that she would trip and fall and either hurt herself or be embarrassed in front of others. And every time she had to go to an unfamiliar place, she worried whether there would be sufficient lighting for her. And also of course, as many of us with failing vision did, she faked sight whenever she thought she could get away with it.
This bleak pattern of life continued throughout her elementary, Catholic schooling, her attendance at Webster City Public High School, and another two years when she attended Webster City Junior College. But an Iowa Commission for the Blind Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Don Bell, began visiting her and trying to convince her that she should come to a new school for blind adults in Des Moines. This new school to which Bell referred was the new Orientation and Adjustment Center for Blind Adults that Kenneth Jernigan had established in 1960 as a part of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. But Joanne wouldn't come. She didn't want to be around those blind people. If she would be walking home from school and see Bell's car at her parents' home, she would go somewhere else and stay away until he was gone.
But finally in the fall of 1965 she relented and agreed to come to a one-day event at the Commission for the Blind in Des Moines, where this new commission director, Kenneth Jernigan, was holding what he called College Day for the commission-sponsored college students. This was the day when, at age nineteen, Joanne Wilson was introduced to a new philosophy of blindness and also learned about the National Federation of the Blind. This was the day when her life began to change completely and forever.
By this time Kenneth Jernigan had established what he called Commission for the Blind College Day each fall. He wanted to have the chance to prepare blind clients for their college years. But he also wanted to use the day to recruit current college students to the Orientation and Adjustment Center if they had not previously had the chance to attend it. Counselor Don Bell knew this and pressed hard to get Joanne to attend, which she finally did.
Joanne says, "The day was amazing. The commission's conference room was full of students. I had never had much of anything to be happy about, but these students were laughing and joking and teasing one another and having a great time. And Dr. Jernigan and other commission staff members were also a significant part of the fun."
Joanne also confesses this heartfelt emotion, "I found the students I met actually to be free inside, and they were not worried about their blindness. They were not all wadded up inside like I was."
A part of the custom of College Day also had to do with the evening meal. After the long, hard day of work and fun, Dr. Jernigan typically entertained the students for the evening meal at an elegant place called the Embassy Club. Counselor Don Bell arranged it so that Joanne Wilson sat next to Dr. Jernigan at dinner. Ingenious! I'm sure that some of you old timers have had the experience of being worked over for an hour or two by Dr. Jernigan. Think about it!
When the dinner was over, Joanne had one more major problem with which to deal. It was now totally dark, and, because of her night blindness, she couldn't see a thing. Somehow she had to get back to the commission, where she would sleep that night. What to do? She finally accepted an offer and took the arm of a totally blind student who was a trained cane user and let herself be led. The trained white cane user who had led the helpless, frightened Joanne was Federationist Ramona Walhof. After the entire day, and then after that last humbling experience with which to end it, Joanne began to think.
She tells me that that day she had also met and had instantly become friends with another untrained college student, Mary Ellen Halverson. Eventually they talked and made a pact: "If you will go to the Orientation Center, so will I. These students who have had the Jernigan training obviously have something, and we need it too. And this National Federation of the Blind that they all talk about really sounds neat."
So the decision was made. Joanne Wilson became a Kenneth Jernigan student at the Iowa Orientation Center in June of 1966, following the completion of her second year at Webster City Junior College. She continued to be a center student for the next nine months.
It would be impossible for me to detail those nine months of training in this article. Suffice it to say here that during those nine months of what later came to be called structured discovery learning, Joanne Wilson's life was changed completely and forever. She became personally empowered; she knew what it felt like to be free; and she also developed a passion for justice for the blind, and that deep passion continues to this day as evidenced by her many years of volunteer work in the National Federation of the Blind. It should also be noted that Joanne and Mary Ellen Halverson remain close friends to this day.
I will summarize the next forty-eight years of this blind woman's life. She graduated from the Iowa Center in March of 1967 and immediately enrolled at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. While she was a center student, she determined that she wanted to be a public school elementary teacher, and it was with this goal in mind that she entered Iowa State in March. (Iowa State operates on the quarter system, which explains college classes beginning then.)
The Jernigan alternative techniques worked splendidly for her, and that part of the college life was no problem. But there was another problem: a big one. When it came time for her to arrange for practice teaching, the dean of education said she could not do it. "Since you're blind, you won't ever be able to get a job anyway, so why go to the trouble?"
She finally settled him down to discuss the issue and asked, "If I find a school that will allow me to practice teach, will you send me?"
The Dean agreed that he would, so Joanne got hold of Dr. Jernigan for help in finding a school that would accept her. She knew that by this time he and the Iowa Commission for the Blind had become famous in Iowa, so she assumed that he could help.
What she didn't know was that he had also become an active Lion in the Des Moines Downtown Lions Club and that the superintendent of the Urbandale, Iowa School District was also a club member. Dr. Jernigan spoke with his club friend, and the practice teaching assignment was arranged.
And there is even more to this story. The Iowa State University Department of Education had tried for several years to get Urbandale to accept its education students for practice teaching assignments, since it was one of the finer schools in the state, but Urbandale would not agree. After it accepted Joanne Wilson and she performed splendidly, it also began routinely to accept sighted Iowa State students for their practice teaching assignments.
The year 1969 was a very big year in the life of our heroine. She successfully completed practice teaching; after many interviews she got that first teaching job — teaching second grade right there in Ames, Iowa; and she got married to Joseph Fernandes, an Iowa State professor. She taught second grade for two years, and then she switched to fourth for another two.
Joanne was the second blind Iowan to secure a public school teaching job in an elementary school. The first, also helped greatly by Kenneth Jernigan, was Judy Young. (For this entire story, see my article, "An Affectionate Validation," in the November 1995 issue of the Braille Monitor.)
Joanne says, "By this time I was having babies, so I needed to stay home and be a mom." She quit her fourth-grade teaching job. (A little later I'll touch briefly upon the fantastic story of the birth of the last, the fifth, baby.)
But even with busy motherhood, her passion for justice for the blind did not wane. She helped organize an Ames Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa and became its first president. She was also elected as one of the vice presidents of the NFB of Iowa. Through these years she did what she could to help other blind people and also to support Dr. Jernigan and the Iowa Commission.
In 1978 Joanne's then husband was offered a teaching position at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana, and the couple and their children moved South. Joanne went on to tell me what I and others like us had already experienced. She said, "Dr. Jernigan and others always told us that Iowa is different and better than other state rehab programs, but I'm not so sure I believed it. Since the Iowa Commission for the Blind was so fantastic, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that all state services these days would be just as good?"
But she learned when she got to Ruston that Louisiana services and conditions for the blind were absolutely atrocious. So, as Joanne would naturally have done, she involved herself immediately in the activities of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana. But what do you know: The Federation affiliate itself turned out to be no better than other programs for the blind in that state.
A lesser woman than Joanne might simply have given up and busied herself being a mom, but not our friend, colleague, and fellow Federationist. She thought, "I'm really needed here." So she joined the affiliate. Suffice it to say that she saw that both the affiliate itself and state services for the blind needed fixing, so she decided to do it. Think about it: She had worked on new membership and chapter-building for a couple of years "lying on her sofa" and talking on the phone for hours and hours, convincing people that they should join and participate. By the time of the 1982 state convention, her new recruits showed up, and she won the presidency. Yes, she won, but there were problems. She worked vigorously for the next two years building the affiliate and strengthening the membership. By the time of the 1984 national convention in Phoenix, she was able to set another record. She brought 149 Louisiana registrants to the convention—by far the largest registration Louisiana, or virtually any other state, had ever brought.
In 1984, when Joanne came to Phoenix, she was very pregnant with her fifth child. Actually, she probably shouldn't have come at all. During the night before opening session, she went into labor. Her fifth child, Jennica, was born at a Phoenix birthing center. But Joanne was so proud of all of the new members she had brought to the convention that she vowed to be present at opening session to introduce them. So she registered baby Jennica so that, when she proudly responded to the president's request for Louisiana in the Roll Call of States, the Louisiana affiliate record attendance that year was actually 150, not the 149 I mentioned earlier.
All five of Joanne's children attended conventions from birth to adulthood. What a record of pride and accomplishment! Also her first national convention was in 1966 when she was an Iowa Orientation Center student. Then, because of college and teaching and because her passion was not yet as intense as it ultimately became, her attendance at national conventions was sporadic before she moved to Ruston. But she has attended every national convention since that time. In the Federation we frequently speak almost religiously about dedication, commitment, and sacrifice. Here they are.
"I'm free! I know what it feels like to be free, and, if I can have this freedom, why shouldn't all blind people have the same chance as I?" Joanne hadn't been in Ruston long before she realized just how bad adult state services for the blind really were. So, as she worked on building the affiliate and other activities, she also began to dream. Before long, other things began to fall into place. Having been trained by Dr. Jernigan in Iowa, she knew what adjustment-to-blindness services could and should be. Her notion always was, "If I could receive such fantastic services, why shouldn't others have the same chance?" So she began thinking and dreaming about, not just repairing the disastrous existing state services, but actually trying to fix them.
She mused, "Why not establish a new, privately run orientation and adjustment center, based upon the Iowa model, right here in Ruston? I know what a center needs to be, and it could be managed and run by the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana."
In the spring of 1985, when Joanne was working with members in the Louisiana State Legislature to improve conditions for the blind in the state, she met a state representative named Mary Landrieu, who later became a US Senator. Joanne told Representative Landrieu of her dream, and she arranged a meeting with then Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. They met, talked, planned, and, when the meeting ended, Governor Edwards told Ms. Landrieu to put a line item in his budget for Joanne's center, and it was done.
Also in the spring of 1985, I was working hard at my desk in Anchorage, Alaska, one morning when my friend Joanne called and asked: "Jim, how do I set up a nonprofit corporation to run an orientation center?"
"Joanne," I replied, "You are truly in luck. I have just finished re-doing my articles of incorporation and my bylaws for the Alaska Center for Blind Adults. If you like, I'll send you copies," and I did. I gather she used them in Louisiana.
Then things moved rapidly. When Joanne was at the 1985 NFB National Convention in Louisville, she learned that the Louisiana Legislature had approved the governor's request for her funding. Using the NFB network of friends, she had already identified and spoken with some possible startup staff members. She had been referred to Jerry and Merilynn Whittle and Susanne Mitchell of South Carolina.
They talked. And Joanne says they were all willing to dream and to gamble. They knew Joanne had only a one-year budget, but they were Federationists with dreams and a lot of guts, and they were willing to take the risk. The result of the dream, the Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB), opened its doors on October 1, 1985. LCB started with a little rented house for offices and classrooms, and she also rented apartments for the students. That first teaching team was Joanne, Jerry Whittle, Merilynn Whittle, and Susanne Mitchell. How the world has changed since then.
Before long Joanne needed a student activity center. By this time the people and businesses of Ruston were so excited about the new Center for the Blind that they pitched in with dollars and the actual hands-on labor to build it. And LCB flourished. Two other Federation affiliates got excited about what Joanne had done in Louisiana, so private, nonprofit centers were established in Colorado and Minnesota, based on the Louisiana model.
Before very many years had passed, Joanne had purchased new buildings and new apartments for the Center, and also the staff was filled out completely with highly qualified Federationists from around the country. Joanne says, "I learned how to do it from those who had walked before me." In March of 1991 Joanne married Harold Wilson, and the two have worked together as a team ever since to make things better for the blind of America and the world. Part of that service was Joanne's presidency of the NFB of Louisiana for twenty-seven years and as a member of the national board of directors for fourteen years, a notable contribution.
Once the adult center itself was up and running well, Joanne began to think of expansion. She added kids programs for the summers: the Buddies Program for younger children, and the STEP program for youths of high school age. She then added an infants and toddlers program and a program for seniors.
Beginning as far back as the 1950s, university programs to train and educate future teachers of the blind were established around the country. But the sad truth is that they were all operated on the tired, old theory that the blind are helpless and pitiful creatures who mostly need to be taken care of and who can never truly expect to be independent or self-sufficient. And the follow-up sad truth is that, therefore, the people who graduated from those programs mostly hurt rather than helped blind people.
Ruston also has a fine college, Louisiana Tech University. So in the early 1990s Joanne began discussions with University officials about the possibility of starting a teacher training program for professionals in the blindness field right there at Tech. She reasoned that, if the Federation's positive philosophy about blindness worked so dramatically in adult orientation centers, why wouldn't it be equally effective in training future teachers of the blind? Those positive teachers could then pass on their understanding and beliefs about blindness to their students.
So by 1996 another of Joanne's dreams became a reality: she established the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech. She began with one major program: teaching what we call travel, what the professionals call orientation and mobility (O and M) to students from throughout the country. Her tech program was different from all of the others in the country in two critical respects. First, it used the truth about blindness as developed and proven by the National Federation of the Blind as its belief system. And, second, it accepted blind as well as sighted students into its program. Immediately it flourished.
And before long a research program was added. The Institute has been directed by such notables as Dr. Fred Schroeder and Ron Gardner and for the past many years Dr. Edward Bell. In recent times it has also established a program to train teachers of blind children and another to train rehabilitation teachers.
There were two major problems with the traditional professional certification program offered by AER (the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired). First, since the philosophy of the traditional schools was so poor and so negative, one certified by them could be expected to hurt rather than help blind students. And, second, since the philosophy about blindness of those running that certification was so negative, they refused to certify blind travel teachers at all.
Joanne, always determined to fix things, talked with Dr. Jernigan and other Federation leaders about the possibility of establishing our own professional certification. It took some time and some convincing, but by 2000 Joanne was able to persuade the Federation leadership to do it.
I recall well sitting at a meeting in Baltimore in Dr. Maurer's office in 2000 when we discussed the new certification and what we would call it. Finally Dr. Maurer said in the discussion, "What would you say we're going to do?"
Joanne answered, "It's simple: we're going to certify blindness professionals," so Dr. Maurer followed thoughtfully with "Then why don't we just call it the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB)?" and we did. I served as its president for the first several years to get it up and running and accepted in the states, and I happily continue as a board member to this day.
In 2001 Joanne Wilson received not one but two Presidential appointments. First, she was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as commissioner of the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration of the US Department of Education; and, second, she was appointed by President Bush for a five-year term to one of the fifteen positions on the President's Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled. So she resigned from the NFB of Louisiana presidency and the national board, and she and Harold left Ruston and moved to Washington.
Joanne worked it out so that Pam Allen, one of her former LCB students, became the second ever director of LCB. Pam has done a fabulous job since she assumed her duties. And Pam's husband Roland is also a valued member of the team.
As I began working on this article to honor Joanne, I asked Pam how many adult students have been trained at LCB in its nearly thirty years of existence. After doing some checking, Pam tells me that there have been more than eleven hundred students at the adult training center. Just think about the lives that have been dramatically touched by this remarkable institution and the hundreds more who have been touched by the programs for babies, children, teens, seniors, and university students. And it continues its fine work every day of every year.
Sometime during those Washington years, Joanne received two additional honors. First she was presented with an honorary doctorate from Menlo College in Atherton, California; and, a little later she was honored similarly by Louisiana Tech University.
In 2005 the now Dr. Joanne Wilson left her federal position in Washington and joined our National Center staff in Baltimore. And it was there that she performed her recent work for us.
Sometime in the 1970s, Dr. Jernigan began talking about "The Pioneers" when he was discussing his early Iowa Commission students, and we made brief recorded clips, which were sent to radio stations across the country. Then we were referred to as "The Pioneers," and Joanne was one of them.
As I write this article in early 2015, Joanne and Harold spend part of their time back in Ruston and part in Alexandria, Virginia. Harold continues to manage his Virginia vending facility. But they are not finished giving to the cause yet. The last I heard, they were working with others to create a new NFB of Virginia chapter in Alexandria.
And as I wrap up and think deeply about Joanne Wilson, I am reminded of a marvelous quotation about "Giving" penned in a work called The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. He writes:
You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
There are those who give little of the much which they have—and they give that for recognition; and their hidden desire makes these gifts unwholesome.
There are those who have little, and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor do they give with mindfulness of virtue; they give as in yonder valley the flower breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these, God speaks, and from behind their eyes, He smiles upon the earth.
For it is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding.
Joanne, thank you for your generosity of giving through understanding, and God bless you!
by Anna Kresmer
From the Editor: The following is another in our series of historical documents in the Jacobus tenBroek Library. Anna Kresmer is the librarian for the Jacobus tenBroek Library, and she provides an introduction and some historical context for this document:
The 1950s were a tumultuous time for the National Federation of the Blind. Not only would the decade see the Federation grow larger than it ever had before, with forty-seven state affiliates, it would also see the very foundations of the organization shaken by what would come to be known as the NFB Civil War. Perhaps the best example of both the highs and lows that the organized blind of America experienced in this decade can be found in the records for a comprehensive history of the NFB that never came to fruition.
Readers of the Braille Monitor may remember that back in January 2013, we highlighted a letter from Dr. Jacobus tenBroek in 1955 asking affiliate presidents to appoint a state historian and submit detailed histories of the organized blind movement in their states. It was his intention to compile and edit these documents into an extensive history to mark the occasion of the NFB’s twentieth anniversary. Unfortunately this appeal went out shortly before the internal struggles of the Civil War began to heat up. As a result this book was never written and, until recently, it was unclear whether any affiliate histories were ever submitted.
As so often seems to happen in the NFB archives, while looking for something else entirely, a cache of chapter histories sent to the president’s office in 1957 was discovered in the Jacobus tenBroek Collection. It appears that, instead of submitting histories at the state level, some affiliates chose to let their individual chapters speak for themselves. These documents provide a unique look at the formation and activities of the NFB at the local level in a time when the outlook of and expectations for the blind were very different from what they are today. Each story is different and yet very familiar.
Here is an example from the NFB of Arizona, known at the time as the Arizona Association of the Blind. Please note that writing styles have changed since 1957. To preserve the historical authenticity of the document, the text, including spelling errors, has been transcribed exactly as it appeared in the original:
December 1, 1957
PIMA COUNTY CLUB OF THE BLIND
HISTORY OF THE ORGANIZATION
The Pima County Club of the Blind grew out of the attempt on the part of a few blind people and a few sighted friends to provide social activity and to teach Braille and crafts to some other blind persons in the community. It grew rapidly at first, as it was about the only outlet for many blind people in the immediate area. It began in 1946 and has continued to the present. Its membership fluctuated considerably, but its average membership stays at approximately twenty-five.
In 1947 Arizona blind began to hear of the National Federation. The Tucson club, which by that time had adopted the name of Tucson Club of Adult Blind, became interested in the activities of the NFB, and we began reaching out to contact other blind people in the state with a view to forming a state organization which could then become affiliated with the NFB. Contact was made with a blind attorney in Prescott, Arizona, who, with the help of a sighted friend, Mrs. Jessie Griswold, had formed a small club in that town. Mr. Rush probably deserves more credit than any one [sic] in the state for the formation of the Arizona State Association of the Blind. He made numerous trips at his own expense to Tucson and Phoenix in an effort to interest people in a statewide organization. Richard Stotera was at that time the first president of the Tucson club and joined Mr. Rush in his organizational work in Phoenix. By 1947 three clubs were established and the state association was formed and affiliated with NFB. Since that time two more clubs have been added so that the Pima County Club of the Blind is one of five affiliated organizations. Unfortunately as the Tucson club became larger, it drew in people who were more interested in social activities than in any political or economic advancement. More recently, however, emphasis has again been placed on the more serious aspects--community and national life as it affects blind citizens. Richard Stotera, who had been out of the state for several years, returned in the summer of 1956 and was elected president of the club in January, 1957. The following month, February, the club, which had lapsed into a very loosely organized form of social club, was reorganized under the name of the Pima County Club of the Blind and given a constitution, a copy of which is enclosed.
A brief glance at the Constitution will indicate the aims of the present organization. Since January, 1957, the club has lost two members through serious illness but has gained three who promise to be active, and at this time another blind person is seeking membership. The total enrollment is now twenty-five. Members range in age from twenty to sixty-five or seventy. These are people who come from various walks of life and have varied interests. It is a representative group, a cross-section of the blind of the community, and a serious effort is being made to integrate blind people into community life and through the state and national organizations to interest them in assuming their places as self-respecting citizens.
The Pima County Club meets on the second Thursday of each month except July and August. Meetings usually open with a prayer by one of the members; the business meeting usually lasts an hour, during which time an effort is being made to acquaint all members with the activities of the NFB and any community movements in which the blind may take part; meetings usually close with a period of entertainment, consisting for the most part of musical programs provided by various sorority and high school groups.
A great deal of credit should be given to the Tucson Downtown Lions Club, which provides transportation to and from club meetings for those who need it and who are becoming increasingly amenable to the idea that working with the blind is far more beneficial to all concerned than working for the blind.
Richard Stotera, president
Pima County Club of the Blind
From the Editor: This article was originally published December 12, 2014, in the Wyoming County Press Examiner (Tunkhannock, PA) print edition:
The ABA Journal, the publication of the American Bar Association, did a photo shoot this past week in Auburn Township for an upcoming article featuring local author Donna W. Hill. Hill, author of the novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an advocate for the full inclusion of people with visual impairments in society. She visited Lackawanna Trail and Elk Lake High Schools earlier this fall and is a consultant to the law firm Disability Rights Advocates, which filed a suit against the electronic library Scribd on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind in July.
"Failing to make websites accessible to people with print disabilities is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Hill said, "But there's no remedy for digital access issues equivalent to building permits which ensure that new brick and mortar structures have wheelchair ramps and elevators. The only way the law is enforced is when someone files a complaint, so it's always after the fact, and it's harder for everyone that way."
Despite advances in technology making it possible for books, magazines, and other publications to be made available in formats that blind people can access with text-to-speech software (aka screen readers) and digital Braille displays, only 5 percent of books are available in accessible formats. This book famine, along with an increasing problem with website accessibility, is one of the major contributors to the high unemployment rate among otherwise able-bodied blind adults, most of whom have never had a full-time job.
Scribd boasts 40 million titles for a monthly subscription fee of $8. In contrast, only 80,000 titles are included in the Talking Book Program, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (a division of the Library of Congress). Learning Ally and Bookshare, which cater to students with print disabilities, have circa 80,000 and 300,000 titles, respectively.
Hill, who is not a plaintiff in the action due to the restrictions in Scribd's terms of service, tried to use the Scribd site to advance her writing career. The Heart of Applebutter Hill is carried by the electronic book aggregator Smashwords, and Smashwords placed it with Scribd, along with other titles included in Smashwords's extended distribution program. Hill, along with the other Smashwords authors, received a free one-year subscription to Scribd and was looking forward to networking with other authors by reading and reviewing their books on her website. Scribd, however, is inaccessible and has not responded to requests to fix the problems."It feels so unfair," Hill said, "Promoting a book is really difficult for anyone, but there are so many examples like this, where I can't even take advantage of the benefits other writers have, simply because so many websites don't bother using the series of ones and zeros that would make them accessible."
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 2015 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, 2015.
Your letter to Chairperson Allen Harris must cover these points:
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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 Tennessee.
Chocolate Chip Bars
by Wendy Bergman
Wendy Bergman is a member and supporter of the NFB. She is also the girlfriend of James Alan Boehn, the secretary of the Tennessee affiliate of the NFB as well as the president of the Tennessee Association of Guide Dog Users (TAGDU). She says about the recipe, “I hope you all enjoy these. I’ve been making them for my students and family for eleven years or so. There are no nuts in this recipe, for those who have allergies. I tell people, one way to show someone you love them is by using the best, Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips. People also like the butterscotch chips in them. Let me know how yours turn out, or if you come up with a fun variation.”
1 stick margarine (they turn out better when I use margarine instead of butter)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (do NOT forget this – it’s very important)
1 3/4 cups of flour
3/4 cup of milk chocolate chips (Ghirardelli blue bag is the best and sometimes on sale)
1/2 bag butterscotch chips (any brand is fine)
PAM® spray to grease the bottom of a 9-by-13 inch pan
Method: Take stick of margarine out of the refrigerator. Place margarine in microwavable mixing bowl and put into the microwave set on high for exactly twenty-two seconds to melt the margarine a bit. Afterwards, the margarine should be partially melted, but not fully liquid. If it melts too much, you may need to add more flour later. Add white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla to the margarine. Mix with a strong spoon, not an electric mixer. Add the egg, making sure it is mixed completely. Next stir in just 1/2 cup of the flour and the baking soda. Mix completely. The mixture should still be sticky. Now add another 1/2 cup of flour and keep stirring. Finally, add the last 3/4 cup of flour. Dough should be less sticky now. Finally, add most of the 3/4 bag of chocolate chips and the 1/2 bag of butterscotch chips. My Russian friends encouraged me to use my hands to mix these in, a way to put your heart and soul into your cooking (optional, of course). Please leave a handful of chocolate chips nearby in a little cup for later. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan with PAM spray, scoop batter into the pan, and then spray your fingertips with PAM in order to push down the mixture into the pan evenly. Scatter the last few handful(s) of chocolate chips on the top of the mixture in the pan evenly; gently push them onto the top of the cookie bar mix. This makes the bars have the same amount of chocolate and look perfect from the top. Bake for eighteen minutes, though you will want to check to see if they need a few extra minutes. Take them out when they are light brown on top if the top feels rather firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the bars plenty of time to cool before cutting. Cut into squares, size depending how many people you intend this to serve. For smaller kids or dipping into milk or coffee, longer rectangles instead of squares are easier to hold.
by Loretta Brown
Loretta Brown is an active member and supporter of the Stones River Chapter of the NFB.
2 cups self-rising cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1 tablespoon shortening (enough to grease the skillet)
Method: Mix all ingredients together except shortening. Use shortening to grease the skillet; get the skillet hot. Spoon the mixture out into hot skillet with a large spoon and form into circular patties. Fry each side until golden brown, flipping them like pancakes. Makes about eight patties.
by Brenda Johnson
Brenda Johnson is the wife of Dwight Johnson, the treasurer of the Stones River Chapter in Murfreesboro. She says that the hardest part of making this salad is getting your serving.
1 bag of clean spinach
Fresh strawberries (washed and quartered)
1 can of sugar-free mandarin oranges
1/4 cup poppy seed dressing (more if you want)
Method: Mix all ingredients together and eat up.
by Brenda Johnson
1 box of bowtie pasta, cooked according to package directions
Chopped chicken, cooked (amount to your preference)
1 can or so of pineapple pieces, drained
Grated onion to taste
Diced celery to taste
Slivered almonds or other nuts, if you like
2/3 cup white vinegar
2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons salt
Method: Toss all salad ingredients together. In a separate bowl, blend all dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over salad. It helps to blend in a little mayo; this makes the dressing stick to the pasta. Note the measurements are not precise. This allows for easy adjustments to suit your family’s preferences.
Ten Ways to Spice up Your Life
by April Meredith
April Meredith is the mother of three and the wife of David Meredith. She is a member and supporter of the Stones River Chapter in Murfreesboro.
Below I give you simple but creative ways to take your traditional menu favorites and kick them up a notch. After all, a little extra spice is nice!
by David Meredith
David Meredith is the father of three and the husband of April Meredith. He is a school teacher as well as a member and supporter of the Stones River Chapter of the NFB in Murfreesboro. Ramen is the quintessential college food, but here’s a way to make it a little more interesting:
1 package instant Ramen
1 tablespoon oil (I prefer grape seed or olive.)
Garlic powder to taste
Onion powder to taste
Method: Take a bag of instant Ramen and boil the noodles until they come apart; do not overcook. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok or frying pan. Drain noodles, then toss in wok with flavor packet, adding garlic or onion powder to taste. Toss noodles often to avoid sticking, but cook until thoroughly mixed. Serve on a plate and finish with sriracha sauce, an over easy fried egg, and a few leaves of romaine lettuce. (That's how I like it anyway.)
Savory Cashew Patties
by Lenora Norman
Lenora Norman is the wife of Steve Norman, who is the editor of The Tennessee Voice, the publication of the NFB of Tennessee. She has been a vegan for almost four years.
1 cup sea-salted cashews
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Chicken Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground flax seed
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion and bell pepper
1/4 cup oats
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Oil to cook them in
Accessibility of Common Core Assessments
As students participate in PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) and Smarter Balanced assessments this spring, we ask that parents, students, and teachers take time to complete the NFB’s Common Core assessment online survey. In particular we want to know when and where accessibility and accommodation failures happen so that we can help ensure that any problems are fixed. Please take time to complete this important survey.
To learn more about the Common Core State Standards, PARCC, Smarter Balanced, and the NFB’s efforts regarding each, see the NFB’s Common Core State Standards Testing Accessibility webpage, which can be found at <https://nfb.org/common-core-state-standards-testing-accessibility>.
Fair Wages Now:
Many readers will remember that at the 2013 convention of the National Federation of the Blind we heard from Harold and Shelia Leigland. Sheila was a former employee of Goodwill who decided she would not work for the low wages they paid. Harold wanted better wages but was still working for Goodwill.
Recently Joy Breslauer, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Montana, sent the following note to President Riccobono:
“I am writing to bring to your attention an email I received this morning from Sheila Leigland, one of the delegates from the National Federation of the Blind of Montana with whom you met on January 27. You may remember that her husband, who is blind, currently is employed by an entity which holds a special wage certificate allowing him to be paid subminimum wages.
Sheila gave me a few more background details to include in her email below. I send it to you with her permission.
‘My husband had a thirty-minute timing at work last July that raised his wages from $4.33 an hour to $7.61 an hour. He had a timing yesterday that took over four hours, and as a result of that timing he is now making $2.75 per hour for the next thirty days, a training wage. A committee of fourteen people revised the way the timing was done. The timing consisted of doing tasks that he does not normally do on his job. He has requested a new timing based on these results. In this timing he was to place five toys in each bag, and he was to find toys that have at least some way in which they were alike or could be matched together. There were items that he couldn't identify, and even some people with vision had no idea what they were. We believe the timing is discriminatory. I don't know of any nondisabled person who would accept this kind of treatment. He has requested another timing, and they have proposed doing a timing to see how many Beanie Babies he can place in bags in thirty minutes. If he doesn't receive an appropriate timing, he will be deciding what his next step will be. He only gets twelve hours at work as it is, and that barely covers his transportation costs, especially at $2.75 an hour. This is an excellent example of why Section 14(C) of the Fair Labor Standards Act needs to be totally abolished.’”
Sachin Dev Pavithran Elected Chair of the US Access Board:
The US Access Board unanimously elected Sachin Dev Pavithran as its new chair on March 11. Pavithran of Logan, Utah, is program director of the Utah Assistive Technology Program at Utah State University's Center for Persons with Disabilities. He was named to the Access Board by President Barack Obama in 2012.
"It is an honor to chair an agency that has done so much over the years to make equal access for people with disabilities a reality," Pavithran stated. "Our buildings, transit systems, and information and communication technologies are more accessible and inclusive because of the work of the Board and the guidelines and standards it has established."
In addition to his membership on the Access Board, Pavithran serves on the Association of Assistive Technology Act Program's national board, Senator Orrin Hatch's (President Pro Tempore) Disability Advisory Committee, the Research and Development Committee of the National Federation of the Blind, and the National Multicultural Council of the Association of University Centers for Disabilities.
The Board also elected as vice chair Sue Swenson, who serves as acting assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the US Department of Education. Board officers serve for a term of one year.
The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Half of its members are representatives from most of the federal departments. The other half is comprised of members of the public, appointed by the President.
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.
Computers for the Blind:
Computers for the Blind (CFTB) is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that strives to provide high-quality refurbished computers with accessibility software that will enable a person who is blind or has low vision to use his or her computer to complete the same tasks as sighted persons. We are celebrating twenty-five years of service to the blindness community and have shipped over 7,400 computers throughout the country.
Who qualifies? People with visual impairments that make it impossible to use computers unless they have screen readers or screen magnification installed qualify. They have to be committed to learning how to use the computer as well.
What kind of computers do you distribute? Depending on donations, we ship Pentium 4 or Dual-Core - 2GHz computers. The minimum configuration that is shipped is:
Do computers come with any screen-reading software? CFTB Computers have the following software included:
What is the cost to the blind person? The processing fee is as follows:
We accept purchase orders from state agencies that can purchase the computers for the price above.
Do you offer any training? We do our best to pair recipients with mentors or service providers if they believe they need training.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) administers a scholarship program for deserving students. Each year individuals who are legally blind can apply for financial awards to support their post-secondary education. Seven scholarships are offered through this program with a potential of eleven recipients. The application can be filled out online at <www.afb.org/scholarships.asp>. The 2015 scholarship program began on February 1 and will end on the deadline of May 31, 2015. If you have questions or comments, contact: Tara Annis by telephone at (800) 232-5463, or email at <email@example.com>.
The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.
For Sale or Trade:
I am selling a PAC Mate Omni QX400. I am asking $500 or would be open to trade for the right equipment. Things for which I would trade include a Braille Lite 40, an older Braille embosser, a netbook with carrying case, or a couple of Braille ’n Speaks with disk drive. Contact Melody Edwards or Charles Leanza by phone at (336) 293-7450, or by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Beginner Music Courses Taught Completely “By Ear”:
At Music for the Blind we have beginner courses for over a dozen musical instruments. These courses use no Braille, no print, no music, and no video. This format allows almost anyone to start playing a favorite musical instrument right away with only a standard CD player.
Come to our website to hear sample lessons from these courses and see how easy it is to learn this way <http://www.musicfortheblind.com>, or call us at (888) 778-1828.
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.