by Dick Davis
From the Editor: In the January 2018 issue President Riccobono called on all of us to express our feelings about the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired’s (AER) decision to join forces with the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services (NAC). A number of us have written using email, Twitter, and Facebook. One of those is himself a member of AER, and makes clear his irritation at the direction the organization has taken and its association with a body which he believes harmful to the blind and harmful to AER. Here is what Dick Davis, a person who has made his forty-seven-year career in working with the blind of America, has to say to his colleagues in AER:
Dear Members of the AER:
I was disappointed to hear that the AER has chosen to breathe life back into NAC. My history with that organization began in 1971 after Dr. Kenneth Jernigan resigned from its board and decided to take our issues to the government, press, and general public. I have picketed NAC through the years, the last time being in 2002. I was an NFB official observer in that meeting, along with Dr. Harold Snider, a blind person. As a sighted person, I was introduced by the NAC president as “Dr. Snider’s attendant.” Not “assistant” or “co-observer,” but “attendant.” And all because I was sighted and he was blind. After thirty years of being picketed, they still hadn’t learned anything.
Carl Augusto, head of the American Foundation for the Blind, attended the 2002 NAC meeting as an invited guest. For a number of years, Carl was associate director of NAC. By 2002, he knew it and its history better than anyone. Our members were picketing the NAC meeting at the time. When the members asked Carl what the organization could do to bring the NFB around, Carl said something like this: “They don’t want to work with you. They want you to go out of business. That’s what they have been telling you for years.”
The NAC members, of course, ignored Carl. They went on to elect as NAC president the superintendent of a school for the blind that had come under investigation for student deaths on campus. That is the way NAC does business. Its reputation has been destroyed, mostly by its own craven lack of ethics. You should know better than to resurrect it. The NFB has, for many years, worked cooperatively with the AER and other organizations and agencies serving the blind. But it doesn’t have to. You are heading down the wrong road and might want to reconsider tying yourselves to NAC.
If not, I guess we will have to introduce the new generation to picketing.
Richard C. (Dick) Davis