JANUARY ISSUE 1965
VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the blind--it is the blind speaking for themselves
N. F.B. Headquarters 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
Published monthly in braille and distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind, President-Russell Kletzing, 2341 Cortez Lane, Sacramento 25, California.
Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California.
Acting Editor: Jacobus tenBroek
Assistant Editor: Floyd W. Matson
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California.
News items and changes of address should be sent to the Editor.
NFB PRE-CONVENTION BULLETIN
By Kenneth Jernigan
MAN AGAINST MACHINE: VENDOR COURT FIGHT
THE ROAD AHEAD IN KOREA
By Hee Yong Yang
THE LEGAL NEEDS OF THE POOR
By Elizabeth Wickenden
N. Y. BOARD HITS SPECIAL HOMES FOR BLIND
CALIFORNIA AID REFORMS HELD SUCCESSFUL
"THE HELPLESS BLIND": AL SPERBER
BORN A MAN
By Gary Goldsmith
A VICIOUS CIRCLE: POVERTY AND DISABILITY
THE TYRANNY OF GOODWILL
By Jesse M. Unruh
A LETTER TO MRS. ORTIZ
By Kenneth Jernigan
Like beat a path to the pad, man! The 1965 Convention at Washington, D.C. will be the most--the greatest.
The Convention will be headquartered at one of Washington's most comfortable and convenient hotels--the Mayflower. The opening session begins at 10:00 on Tuesday morning, July 6, and the final adjournment is at 5:00 on Friday, July 9. The Mayflower is a truly distinguished hotel where you can get beer by the yard (they bring a yard-long glass frothing with beer and place it on the floor before you), such succulent delicacies as roast duckling, and such robust fare as German sausage. The Rib Room--where you can get the tall thirst quencher, is a restaurant of true elegance and dignity. The scarlet and walnut fittings, the stained-glass windows, the massive fireplace, heraldic emblems, and the solicitous service fairly transport you to King Arthur's kingdom. The Town and Country Lounge is definitely geared to a man's taste--food of robust lip-smacking goodness--drinks to erase the biggest thirst. The Promenade Lounge is more chicly feminine, the Presidential Room is for more leisurely, stately dining, and the Coffee Deck is for practical and pleasing eating.
Come early or stay after the Convention and see some of our nation's capital sights. A tour service is located in the lobby to help you plan. At very low prices you can see Mount Vernon, Monticello, Williamsburg, the White House, and many other places which will help history come alive for you.
All of these, and prices--like low, man, low.' Single rooms, $7.00; twin, $11.00.
The banquet will be held on Thursday evening, July 8. The price (including tip and tax) will be only $4.95. A feast it will be with, among other things, fresh fruit au Kirsh, breast of capon on Kentucky ham, and Mayflower ice cream pie.
A tour is in the making. The plans are exciting, but are not yet finalized. Suffice it to say it will be in keeping with the grandeur of our seat of government.
These are only a few indications of the sizzling plans Vernon Butler and the other Washington people are making, so don't hesitate--combine the NFB Convention with an impressive vacation in Washington, D.C. Send your reservations now so that you will be sure of getting a room in the headquarters hotel. Send your request for reservations directly to: Reservations Manager, Mayflover Hotel, Washington, D.C. Tell your friends--let's all gather!
P.S. Holding our Convention in the nation's capital provides us with an unexcelled opportunity for Federationists to meet their Congressmen, and more particularly, their staunch friends and allies in the Senate and House, Various arrangements to this end are now being made, and further details will be forthcoming shortly.
P. P.S. By the way, plans are also in motion for the 1966 NFB Convention in Louisville, Kentucky,
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A Minnesota vending stand operator, who was blinded in the South Pacific during World War II, has gone into battle again or his life--or at least his livelihood,
L.J. Theisen, who operates a tobacco and candy shop and two soft-drink vending machines in the St. Paul main Post Office building, has filed a suit in Federal court seeking an injunccion prohibiting operation of competing automatic vending machines operated by an employees' committee of the postal department. According to St. Paul newspapers, Theisen also seeks $11,000 in damages for profits lost over the past decade.
The postal department's committee operates four soft-drink machines in the building, plus many others in substations. These coin-operated machines, according to the blind vending stand operator, "have eaten into my business like a cancer."
Theisen's suit seeks to test whether or not blind vending stand operators licensed under the Randolph-Sheppard Act are legally protected against the competition of automatic machines. In anticipation of such threats to blind vendors, a bill supported by the National Federation of the Blind has been introduced in Congress which would turn over revenues from competing machines to the licensed stand operators.
Urging support of the bill, C. Stanley Potter, director of Minnesota Services for the Blind, has written to Minnesota Congressmen that the local situation "is an indication of the general trend in Minnesota and nationally to install vending machines which compete with or direct customers away" from blind licensees.
"We feel," his letter continues, "that the matter is injurious to the operator and his income. It further discourages him in his efforts to build his business."
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By Hee Yong Yang
(Editor's note: The author, who is secretary and proofreader at the Braille Library in Seoul, Korea, delivered the following remarks at the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Phoenix last July. )
There are no accurate statistics, but it is estimated that there are 70,000 blind people in Korea today. The Korean blind are despised and abandoned by the public. Even many families are ashamed of their blind members and consign them to dark rooms. There is a ray of hope, however, from American programs being carried on in Korea; but these have just scratched the surface.
There are at present fourteen schools for the blind in Korea of which two are operated by the government and the others by private organizations. The total enrollment is 1,093, which is about ten percent of the estimated 10,000 school-aged blind children. There are not enough facilities to educate our blind, and in addition many families do not want to send their blind children to school. Either a larger governmental budget is needed to expand existing schools, or a program should be undertaken to integrate blind children into classes in normal public schools There are a limited number of blind students in colleges and universities, and several of these are doing outstanding work, comparing favorably with sighted students. High schools often refuse blind students, but some who have been accepted have received the highest grades.
Employment of the blind in most occupations in my country is very limited. There are about 16,000 blind fortune-tellers and about 4,000 masseurs. Approximately 30 blind persons have obtained jobs teaching in schools for the blind or in offices. The other 50,000 Korean blind depend on their families or on society.
Some years ago a vocational center was set up about 120 miles from Seoul. It taught broom-making to boys, and sewing and knitting to girls; How ever, few of the trainees could get jobs and earn a living.
In 1959 the Braille Library was established in Seoul. It now has 1,200 braille books. These have been transcribed by hand on a braille writer. We very much need a stereotyper and press to make a number of copies of books so that they can be furnished to more blind people. A monthly magazine, New Life, is published in braille, and about 200 copies are sent out. We have also started a tape library but not on a regular basis.
Concerning myself, I lost my sight at 19 in an accident while swimming at a beach. I received medical care for five years, but it was of no help. In despair I attempted several times to commit suicide. Fortunately, I received encouragement to study braille and entered the National School for the Blind. I then attended the University of Kon-Kuk and received a law degree last year. I hope to study law in the United States and return to Korea to be its first blind attorney.
If I had been able to receive medical treatment such as is available in America, I possibly would not have lost my sight. Medical treatment to prevent blindness is deficient in Korea.
There are a great many things that need to be done for the blind in Korea.
We need to improve teaching methods and the entire teaching system for the education of blind children, as well as to expand facilities so as to educate more of them, whether through the government or private agencies.
We need to set up a realistic vocational center for the blind to give training in vocational and professional fields.
We need to expand publishing facilites for braille books and magazines.
We need a program for sight conservation and prevention of blindness teaching people by radio, newspapers and pamphlets to take care of their children when they have measles, fever or eye diseases.
But most of all we must demonstrate to the government and to the public what blind persons can do. At the same time we should show what blind people are doing throughout the world in industry, business, and even in politics. That is why I came to your country- -to learn what you people are doing, and to apply those lessons in my own land, for the betterment of the Korean blind.
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By Elizabeth Wickenden
(Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from a paper delivered by Miss Wickenden, well-known social welfare authority, at the Conference on the Extension of Legal Services to the Poor, Washington, D.C., November 12, 1964, Under the title, "The Legal Needs of the Poor from the Point of View of Public Welfare Policy," Miss Wickenden presented a set of four "vastly oversimplified propositions" bearing upon relation- ships of poverty and welfare. The first three propositions are: (1) "The distinguishing characteristic of poverty in our time is that it is a minority problem"; (2) "In an affluent society laws and institutions are the essential weapons against poverty"; (3) "In the relationship of individuals to the society in which they live, dignity, freedom and security rest upon a maximum range of objectively defined rights and entitlements." Our excerpt, which constitutes the concluding section of the paper, begins with the statement of the fourth proposition.)
4. All individuals should ha ve access to legal service and devices of appeal against legislative enactments or bureaucratic decisions that threaten their constitutional rights . Only in this wav ran the freedomindividuals be protected in a highly organized society and governmental policy contained within limits that prevent excursions into the discriminatory or oppressive expediencies of majority or aggressive minority pressures. Just as we are coming to see that the vulnerabilities of modern society demand that medical service be available to all who need it (and who doesn't) so we are coming to see the professional role of the lawyer in our complex world in a somewhat different light. He is no longer considered a luxury reserved for the well-to-do. If Mr. Gideon grasped from reading the constitution in his prison library that lack of professional counsel denied him his constitutional right to due process, why too should not the mothers of Louisiana have demanded the right to counsel? I, for one, do not regard the starving of my children as a lesser penalty than imprisonment. When a child died across the river in Virginia because his parents had not resided in the state for a year, what "due process" protected him from being deprived of life itself?
There are, I think, three basic areas in which welfare recipients and others belonging to the "minority of the poor" need the help of lawyers. In the first place, they need help in securing equal and equitable access to the provisions of the law itself. Few people, for example, understand that the Federal Social Security Act requires the public welfare agency to receive and act promptly upon all applications for federally aided assistance. In other words, they have a right to apply. Aid cannot be denied, in another example, to a mother of an otherwise eligible child because her home is considered "unsuitable" unless some other provision is made for the child. Few understand how they can exercise their right of appeal. These and the many other provisions of federal and state law are complex and very hard for people dependent on them to understand. Even lawyers sometimes become lost in the maze, and I am hopeful, as more lawyers struggle to master this complexity, that they will be encouraged to lend a hand to people--like myself--who would like to see these laws and policies simplified so that people can better understand their entitlements.
In the second place many of the people who depend upon welfare owe their very poverty to an ineffectual functioning of legal process or inequitable laws. Perhaps as a woman I am unduly sensitive to the fact that the most despised and deprived group in the population today are the mothers struggling to raise children without the help of their fathers. I am not advocating that we turn the FBI loose to run down all the errant fathers of the nation but I do suggest that these women should have the protection of the law and the help of lawyers on problems related to support, separation, divorce, custody, etc. Problems of debt, of juvenile delinquency, of guardianship for the very old or incompetent, the borderline areas of mental illness or deficiency, are all well known to the welfare caseload.
But to my mind the most important of all challenges to the legal profession is protection of the poor, and most particularly the recipient of a public benefit, against a discriminatory application of law--whether the motive be punitive or beneficent in intention. Charles Reich stirred the welfare bureaucracy from one end of the country to another with his Yale Law Journal article suggesting that midnight searches of welfare households might well be unconstitutional. (And I don't for a moment mean to suggest that many welfare officials were not delighted, however startled, by a challenge from this unprecedented quarter. ) When Orisen Marden, Shad Poller, Lyle Carter and others challenged the federal government and the state of Louisiana in behalf of 23,000 children whose only crime was the circumstances of their birth this was legal advocacy in the great tradition. When Melvin Wulf of the American Civil Liberties Union pled the thirteenth amendment in defense of five New York welfare recipients put in jail for failure to cut brush in eight feet of snow, not only the judge but all of us New Yorkers were brought up short. We are simply not used to thinking of New York as a slave state] When the Legal Aid Society of Hartford challenged the right of Connecticut to deport the mother of an illegitimate child, when Marvin Fein challenged Milwaukee to prove its contention that illegitimacy on assistance was automatically tantamount to child neglect, when Edward Sparerchallenged the right of a caseworker to decide whether a legal resident of New York would be "better off" in North Carolina, when Mr. Bendich challenged the right of Alameda County in California to discharge a caseworker for refusing to make midnight raids on his clients--these lawyers were crusading for social justice in the highest tradition of the law. I pay them tribute by name--though there are many others--because I feel we in the welfare field need their help and 1 would like personally to pin a medal on every one of them. They are true and valiant heroes of the war on poverty.
The concepts and institutions of the law are man's noblest social invention with roots that go back to the beginnings of civilization itself. But it seems to me that in our own time we are groping toward a new pattern of inter-relationship between its component parts: the assurance of social order, the protection of individual freedom, and the extension of social entitlements. None of us--whether our specialty is the field of law, social welfare, or political organization--can, in my opinion, foresee the precise direction of this change but there is not a one of us who cannot contribute to its formation. This we can do through our knowledge of individual people and their problems, our efforts to help them solve those problems within the existing framework of law. and our influence in bringing about a better adaptation of the institutional structure itself. This is what the "war on poverty" means to me and I consider it the great challenge of our day.
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(Editor's note: A resolution opposing the establishment of new homes or institutions exclusively caring for the blind was adopted by the New York State Board of Social Welfare on November 16, 1964. According to Oscar Friedensohn, director of the State Commission for the Blind, the solution "aims at encouraging blind persons to remain in their own homes, or, when institutionalization is necessary, to be cared for in institutions not maintained exclusively for blind persons." The text of the Board's resolution follows. )
WHEREAS, among the responsibilities of the State Board of Social Welfare is the approval or disapproval of proposed certificates of membership corporations that would empower such corporations to establish or maintain homes or institutions for the care of blind persons, or to solicit contributions therefore and
WHEREAS, the experience of the existing institutions giving specialized services to blind people in recent years, had indicated that most blind persons do not wish and do not need to be cared for in such facilities, but prefer to remain in their own homes and to receive such special services as they may require from community based organizations; and
WHEREAS, experience has also shown that such institutions are more than adequate to accommodate the comparatively small number of blind persons who have need for and want care in such institutions; and
WHEREAS, the New York State Commission for the Blind and other leading specialized agencies for blind persons believe that it is in the best interests of blind people that they be encouraged to live in their own homes and to receive special services from community based organizations, and that when institutionalization becomes necessary for them they be cared for in institutions that are not maintained exclusively for the care of blind persons; and
WHEREAS, the New York State Commission for the Blind has unanimously recommended to this Board that a statement of policy be adopted reflecting and furthering the substance of the above; it is therefore
RESOLVED, that it be the policy of the New York State Board of Social Welfare to withhold its approval of any proposed certificate of a membership corporation that would empower such corporation to establish, construct or maintain a home or institution exclusively for the care of blind persons, or to solicit contributions therefor, unless the applicant agency demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Board that there is a special need for the proposed institution or home; and it is further
RESOLVED, that it be the policy of the State Board of Social Welfare to encourage community based organizations and institutions that are not maintained exclusively for the care of blind persons to acquaint blind people with their services and facilities; and it is further
RESOLVED, that it be the policy of the State Board of Social Welfare to encourage blind persons to receive such special services as they may require from community based organizations, and when institutionalization becomes necessary for them to best meet their total individual needs, to be cared for in institutions that are not maintained exclusively for the care of blind persons.
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Two recent advances in California's program of aid to the blind the elimination of residence requirements and the establishment of presumptive eligibility for immediate need cases were hailed as successes by a representative of the California Council of the Blind in a statement before a fact-finding committee of the state legislature.
Mrs. Beverly Gladden, field director for the CCB, reported on December 10 to the Senate Fact-Finding Committee on Labor and Welfare that the two provisions enacted in 1963 have already proved "a great advance in public assistance. . . . Both the elimination of a required period of residence and immediate presumptive eligibility for aid encourage the recipient to venture forth to seek a job whether the opportunity lies in California or in some other part of the country."
"The blind recipient knows that if his business is not successful or if his employment is terminated, he has the security of quick restoration of his aid grant," Mrs.Gladden said. "He need not risk the hardship of having no income for food, clothing or shelter."
The state legislature eliminated durational residence in aid to the blind effective January 1, 1964. Previously, those individuals who lost their sight before moving to California required five years of state residence during the preceding nine years, and one year of continuous residence immediately preceding the date of application.
Mrs. Gladden pointed out that "support for this change in the residence requirement was based on the belief that state durational residence was no longer in keeping with the freedom of movement which characterizes the American people; and also on the fact that the federal government was providing an increasingly large portion of the aid paid to recipients."
The California legislation (AB 59) containing the welfare advances already mentioned also eliminates the liens on real property of those who receive county hospitalization; allows attendant care or other special services to aid recipients to a maximum of $300 per month; increases the exempt income under the aid to the potentially self-supporting blind program from $1,200 to $1,500 per year, and improves medical care and hospitalization available to recipients of aid to the blind.
The California Council spokesman stated that these improvements already had significantly reinforced the motivation of recipients to achieve self-support. "Experience has shown that an aid recipient who is forced to live below the absolute minimum standards of our community will have his initiative stifled and will often not have the drive to seek independence," according to Mrs. Gladden. "The new law has done much to make the aid to the blind program a reasonably adequate one."
California's increase in exempt income for the potentially self-supporting blind was said to have paved the way for adoption of similar provisions, in less comprehensive form, "by the federal government under the public assistance provisions concerning the blind in the Social Security Act and even, in a limited measure, to public assistance for the aged.
"The exempt income principle has also been embodied in Title VII of the Economic Opportunity Act adopted earlier this year by Congress, popularly known as the Anti- Poverty Act. This is one of the many public assistance reforms that California has pioneered, and which has been accepted nationally."
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A New Yorker who has achieved a "double" success in business since losing his sight was the subject of a recent feature story by the nationally syndicated Associated Press columnist, Robert Peterson,
After suffering detached retinas in both eyes eight years ago, at the age of 40, Al Sperber lost his job as a department store buyer and decided to create a new career. But he found the existing agencies for the blind of little help in uncovering new pathways of opportunity.
"When I sought vocational advice from the various organizations for the blind, I found most of them still thinking along basket-weaving lines," Sperber was quoted as saying. Seeking more challenging vocations than those available through the traditional sheltered shops, he began "wondering why the telephone--which can be used as easily by the blind as the sighted--could not be the bridge to new employment."
He discovered that the American Telephone and Telegraph Company not only sanctions legitimate telephone sales methods but operates its own tele-marketing division which trains operators. "So I familiarized myself with approved techniques and started a small company in my home, specializing in contract telephone selling for major department stores in the New York City area. Within a year I was employing half a dozen other sightless persons in this work."
Not content with his success in the telephone marketing enterprise, Sperber has moved on to other frontiers. He's formed another company Convention Planner Inc. which contacts clubs and organizations with a view to taking over all arrangements for conventions--including such matters as "transportation, hotels, meeting rooms, parties, theater and sight-seeing trips, even chaperones and babysitters." Compensation for his firm comes from the commissions received from travel companies and servicessuppliers.
The AP column, which bears the regular title "Life Begins at 40," concluded that "Sperber's optimism and imagination despite loss of vision are inspiring. It is hoped other sightless persons will be encouraged to follow his example and find new, imaginative careers utilizing creative abilities and natural intelligence."
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By Gary Goldsmith Producer, Dimension Films
(Reprinted from the COUNCIL BULLETIN, publication of Jie California Council of the Blind.)
In mid-June I was a jet passenger, headed for Washington, D.C. and a meeting with the motion picture chiefs of the United States Informiation Agency. Carefully packed in my suitcase was the twenty-minute rough cut of the film they had commissioned me to do a few months earlier, a film on rehabilitation of the blind. The approach had been left up to me with only one limitation: the film must not exceed ten minutes in length.
I gladly paid a dollar to watch a bad English detective movie, hoping it would distract my thoughts from the unavoidable question" How can I possibly cut it in half?"
There was no one moment when this problem had come into focus it had been a gradual development throughout the project.
In the early weeks, I had simply devoured everything I could find on the subject. Since the original assignment was so unlimited my first problem was to narrow the field. I did know that the completed film would be shown in movie theatres to world-wide audiences, and that its general purpose was to encourage a favorable attitude toward our country. You know--"Americans are good guys with generous hearts''--as against, "Americans are heartless capitalist war-mongers."
But the sheer volume of information and impressions I was collecting was distressing. Thanks to the generous cooperation of people such as James Moxom, Dave Mendelson, James McGinnis and many others, I had gained first-hand knowledge of a whole range of agencies and individuals. And my response was quite uncertain. Perhaps I was just being innoculated with a mild form of the depression which hits most people on their first real exposure to blindness.
But my feelings about the project began to crystallize when I met Jack Polston. He was enthusiastic, challenging and spoke persuasively for a point of view on blindness which I felt was true and hopeful. Jack also told me about the Oakland Orientation Center and how it had helped him.
A visit to Oakland convinced me that this was the best basis for my film. For a while I considered filming the story of one of the current students. But it seemed more practical to ask a former student to reenact some of his experiences. This decision had the additional advantage of allowing me to show the student's post-Oakland job choice. The USIA accepted this idea. After seeing his photographs and hearing about his work as an electrician, they also agreed that Jack Polston should portray the student. They liked everything just so I could do it in ten minutes.
The final script was a composite of many things I had learned and the experiences of many people.
Titled "Born a Man" it opens in the hospital where Jack is recovering from the accident which caused his blindness. He learns his wife is pregnant. Although he is extremely anxious to find some kind of work, his rehab counselor points out that he is not ready to hold a job; he is completely dependent on other people to lead him around. The counselor arranges for Jack to go to the Orientation Center.
Suddenly in the Center his life as a newly blinded person changes from a slow slide downhill into a scramble upwards. He is prodded, provoked and challenged to take care of himself. The crux of the story is his travel training. Despite his fears and failures and his resentment at being thrown on his own resources--(even to the point of getting lost in the middle of a rush-hour intersection) he discovers that he can trust himself to solve his own problems.
His rehab counselor, when Jack returns home, suggests he return to his old trade. "That's impossible" is Jack's first reaction. But the attitude he learned in Oakland carries over and he decides to try. And because he is determined, ingenious and a skilled electrician, he is able to adjust his techniques and return to his trade.
The story concludes in the hospital, but this time with the birth of Jack's child (not the famous twins, but a lovely baby-girl stand-in). The narration comments that a baby is born in struggle and pain that only her mother can suffer; so a newly blinded man is re-born through struggle and pain that only he can suffer.
The greatest challenge in shooting the film was suggesting the point of view of a blind man through a visual medium. My general rule was to keep the audience exactly with the main character; they know just what he knows, nothing more or less, nothing sooner or later. They get the same information he gets.
So, early after his blindness, the camera keeps him sharp and large in the foreground. The food tray in front of him, the chair he sits in, his cane--these are seen clearly. But other things and people are in the background, indistinct as they are to him. A hallway is a shapeless, endless abyss. Cars are crunching wheels and thundering masses.
As the man progresses, the visuals become more organized and easily oriented. In this fashion, the visual line parallels the emotional line of the story.
"How long is it?" was the first question popped at me in the USIA screening room. "20 minutes," in a small voice. "Well, we'll have to do something about that."
Then we ran the picture. The first remark afterward--"well, it has to be 20 minutes."
After everybody finished congratulating everybody else, we began discussing narrators. The end result was the great good fortune of securing Edward G. Robinson.
The film will be finished in August. Because of legislation restricting circulation of USIA films, the picture will not be distributed in this country. But later this year it will be screening throughout the world, showing an American approach to blindness directly derived from our tradition of respect for the dignity of the individual.
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The pattern of poverty--little education and low job skill--shows up dramatically in a nationwide study of the Federal-State public assistance program of Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled (APTD).
The study was recently completed by the Bureau of Family Services, Welfare Administration. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. It consisted of a close examination of a sample of the APTD caseload, which now numbers over 500,000 nationwide.
The study showed, among other things, that:
--Sixth grade was the average education of the APTD recipients. Only seven percent had been graduated from high school, and less than one half of one percent finished college.
--Work experience of most recipients was in such unskilled or low-skilled occupations as laborer, farm hand or service worker. Only one percent had worked as professionals or semi-professionals.
Commenting on the findings, Fred H. Steininger, Director of the Bureau of Family Services, said: "The study shows that these disabled recipients tend to follow the usual pattern of poverty. While their disabilities make them dependent upon public assistance for their livelihoods, lack of education and low job skills play a large part in preventing their rehabilitation to self-support. What chance is there for a needy disabled person who has a sixth grade education and no technical skills?"
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By Jesse M. Unruh
(Editor's note: Following is a portion of an address by the Speaker of the California State Assembly delivered November 30, 1964, before a meeting of the Spastic Children's Foundation, Inglewood, California. Tom Joe, who is referred to in the speech, is an active member of the California Council of the Blind. )
A nation which has produced Telestar, has put men in orbit and has taken close-up pictures of the moon surely has the capacity to relieve the sheer physical dependence of most disabled children. If objects of metal and plastic can be fashioned which can see, hear and travel in space, certainly other objects could be made to see for blind children, hear for deaf children and move for those who are immobilized.
If data processing machines can play music, draw pictures and write poetry, we should be able to devise some method of allowing severely handicapped children to do these same things. Some work has already begun in the development of equipment to do just that. I feel some of this reserve of skill and know-how should be used in a systematic attack on the problems of the disabled. I recognize and I would like particularly to commend the Bendix Corporation and the Hughes Corporation among others which have given of their time and resources to help the Spastic Children's Foundation to take giant strides in this critical area. But I do not pretend that technology alone can solve the educational and other problems of the disabled. The achievement of social acceptance, of recognition as an individual and as a useful member of the community are as important as alleviating physical helplessness.
I believe that, for most of the children about whom we care, the greatest handicap they have is the handicap assigned by us--the burden of being considered too different--incapable of learning--the handicap of being excluded from the mainstream of society. I am afraid that we all are to some degree responsible for this practice of politely excluding disabled persons from the mainstream of activity, of isolating them from the movement and from the advantages--and disadvantages too--of modern everyday life. . . .
The 18th century English writer, Edmund Burke, described society as an organic body politic, with government at the head and voluntary associations jointed to complete the torso and limbs. In the present day, public and private have too often been separated and the organism of society has become disjointed.
The community at large has seemed to ignore severely disabled youngsters, or to look at them and say, "These are not children like other children, they are not part of us. " Then these youngsters are separated from the community and from others of their age, sequestered away in institutions, where they will not have to be thought about or assisted. And due to the separate paths followed by public and private, no major steps have been taken toward freeing severely disabled children from the confines of their situation.
Public officials and other private agencies should have an opportunity to know the stimulating and constructive program offered by the Spastic Children's Foundation, As a representative of the public, I would like to do what I can to help achieve the balance between public and private which I feel is necessary to educate severely and multiply disabled children.
First of all, good school programs cost money. Even with the generous assistance and contributions from supporters of a foundation such as this one, there is not enough money. Consequently, parents have to pay part of the cost. This seems an unfair burden to place on parents merely because there are no public school programs for their children. And the education of children cannot wait until public programs are developed.
I am, therefore, in agreement with a proposal of the Assembly Sub-committee on Special Education to make mandatory a law which is currently only permissive and which provides for payment of all local and state allowances for educating a handicapped child to parents who send him to a private school because of the lack of a public program. Private schools should be encouraged in every way possible, as long as they meet proper standards of education.
Shared responsibility between public and private spheres may appear somewhat unorthodox to those who do not recognize that the education of the severely disabled requires a community of interest. But this shared responsibility makes good sense, in terms of program, economies, and the salvaging of human resources.
There are other proposals coming out of the [Assembly] Subcommittee on Special Education, for which we need your support and your interest in this next legislative session. One very promising development, if the legislation is successful, will be the establishment of laboratory schools for exceptional children on our state college campuses.
Another important proposal will call for the establishment of mininium standards for special education programs and the provision of built-in methods of evaluation. The setting of such standards will protect public schools from charges that they are merely providing baby-sitting and will give parents a valid basis for comparison between public and private programs.
Finally, the whole burden of the most difficult task in special education should not be delegated entirely to private schools. Although the Legislature does not plan to go into the business of constructing additional state residential facilities, there are presently two residential schools for the deaf and one for the blind. Since public day classes for deaf and for blind children are well developed, we feel that the state residential schools should be reserved for deaf or blind children with other handicaps or those from remote areas. . . .
Beyond the provision of an educational program for children, the Spastic Children's Foundation is developing plans for severely disabled adults for whom no agency, public or private, has an organized program. . . .
Our Assembly staff plans to give attention to the needs of Severely disabled adults, but they will need to follow your lead and, to study your methods. While I am on the subject of Assembly Staff, I would like to pay special tribute to one member of that staff who has contributed vastly to my own understanding of this complex and vital subject.
He is Tom Joe, the Consultant to the Assembly Education Committee on problems of special education. Tom has helped us come a long way toward bringing order out of chaos in the legislative side of special education. For years, legislators were helpless before the onslaught of well meaning but emotional pleaders for special programs for the handicapped. No one in the Legislature understood the field and no one was willing to appear to be hard-hearted by saying "no." As a consequence, our state programs in this field became a patchwork of good intentions and bad law.
We are beginning to have in the legislature, and in large measure due to Tom Joe's brilliant efforts, an appreciation for the sound construction of programs which come to grips with the problems in a sympathetic and enlightened way.
If you are wondering what you can do, this is your answer. The most discouraging thing to a disabled person is to see his accomplishments overshadowed by stereotyped notions. When a disabled person is successful, we tend to look at his disability more than at what he has done.
As I mentioned earlier, our attitudes toward disabled children are important to their later adjustment. Concern and pity often cause us to be overly protective of disabled children, shielding them from mistakes and from learning from their mistakes.
In our zeal to protect handicapped youngsters from the curiosity and possible taunts of their agemates, we may keep them from ever developing friendships with normal children and we prevent normal children from knowing there are others different from themselves. Most successful and well-adjusted disabled persons will tell you that conquering a disability is often easier than conquering the tyranny of goodwill.
By tyranny of goodwill, I mean the well-motivated--but still devastating--efforts to deny educational, social and employment opportunities to disabled persons "for their own good." I am sure such thinking is partly responsible for the exclusion of severely disabled children from our public schools. The error of this point of view is demonstrated by the Foundation's success.
If there is a single concluding statement which would sum up what I have been trying to say, it is that we need to liberate our imaginations. We need to unfetter our thinking about what a disabled individual is and what he can do. We need to broaden our notions of education beyond the teaching of the 3 R's to ordinary, physically fit children. Finally, we must apply our technological skill to the mobility and communication problems of disabled persons.
Creativity has no boundaries, it is neither Republican nor Democrat, neither rich nor poor, neither governmental nor private. If we can agree on our goal, which is now within sight on many fronts, then let's reach for it. As a state, as a people, we cannot afford to wait. And if we divide our paths, we may fall short of full success.
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The Arkansas Federation of the Blind held its annual convention November 7 at Little Rock's LaFayette Hotel. The following officers were elected for the coming year: President, Richard Nelsen; first vice president, O. J. Butler; second vice president, Rev. Dale Townsend; secretary, Lucille Twitty; and treasurer, Gladys Nelsen. Writes Dick Nelsen: "We feel that everyone enjoyed the convention, and especially the fun and fellowship which everyone entered into. We have wonderful talent in the AFB, and they are all so enthusiastic that we always feel enriched after our get-together."
The Maryland Council of the Blind recently held its election of officers, with Harry Wilker of Baltimore chosen as president. Others elected are: vice president. William Appel; treasurer, Mrs. Thelma Pylant; sergeant-at-arms, Lloyd Pool. Executive board members are--William Appel, Albert Balducci, Ferdinand A. Faber, James Harrison Timothy Luber, Lois Parthree, Lloyd Pool, Thelma Pylant and Harry ' Wilker. Mrs. Clarice Arnold, outgoing president of the Maryland Council, was elected as the group's representative to work with Kenneth Jernigan and Vernon Butler on preparations for the 1965 NFB convention in Washington, D.C.
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(Editor's note: THE BRAILLE MONITOR published last month, under the heading "Two Brand New Federationists," a letter from Mrs. Patricia Snyder Ortiz of Seneca, New York, which described the difficulties she and her husband (both blind) had suffered at the hands of agencies for the blind. The following response has been written by Miss C. L. Corbin, 4705 West Harrison Street, Chicago, Illinois.)
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Ortiz:
Your letter in THE BRAILLE MONITOR does not surprise me at all. That is the way agencies for the blind always treat those over whom they have control. I am glad you have learned of the National Federation of the Blind. They are the only ones fighting for us. Dr. tenBroek has always been in the front line in Washington, before the Congress, and in many of the states.
I hope you do not allow the agency to wreck your marriage. Things in this state are bad, too. On the first of October, 1964, the public welfare agency issued to pharmacists a list of drugs which they would pay for. If a welfare recipient should present a prescription calling for a medicine which is not on the list, the welfare will not pay for it. In other words, they are telling the doctors what they should prescribe for their own patients. This happened in Illinois, not in Russia. Also they invade the homes of welfare recipients on Sunday mornings before eight o'clock.
When I told the caseworker that I had used my clothing money for the doctor and for cleaning services, he wanted to look through the closets and dresser drawers. I told him: "Over my dead body." He then said I could not have anything for clothing.
Our state budget is very low. Illinois has gone under the new Title XVI; now the aged, the blind and the disabled are in a single category, on a common standard, which is very low.
Some day the blind will wake up and learn that the National Federation of the Blind is the best friend they have. We hope to get some relief in the coming session of the legislature; our hope is to get a good minimum grant and cut out some of the red tape.
You spoke of fighting alone. Many of us have been fighting alone. I fought alone when the welfare stole my home. Few want to stand up and be counted. They prefer to go with hat in hand and pick up the crumbs from the tables of the agencies, I hope THE BRAILLE MONITOR will have space for this letter, I would like to hear from you and others who feel as we do.
Miss C. L. Corbin
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The Maryland Council of the Blind is pushing strongly for expansion of employment opportunities at the huge Social Security Records Center at Woodlawn. Although some blind dictaphone operators are employed there, opportunity is opening up for employment of the blind in more varied and responsible jobs. ... A friend of the Wyoming Association of the Blind has. as a hobby, developed a device which, added to a phonograph or talking book, allows the reader to go back quickly and reread the last 12 or 15 words, with no risk of harm to the record. The device, priced at $15.00, functions on the basis of compressed air and is activated by a bulb or button . It should be of great assistance in utilizing recipes, copying names and addresses, learning a foreign language, etc. Orders should be sent to: Daellenbach Manufacturing Company. 1304 East Fifth Street, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001,
Textured American flags, which make it easy to feel individual stars and stripes, are available from Mrs. R. M. Cavanaugh. Project Chairman. Oak Park-River Forest Delta Gamma Alumnae. 322 Linden Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois, and are priced at $15.00. Flags of other countries including Chile, France, West Germany. Denmark, Canada, and Australia are available at a price of $20.00. . . . The official rehabilitation center for the blind in Lisbon, Portugal, includes tutelage m the ancient art of fencing for its trainees during their 16-week residential stay.
Mrs. Clarice Arnold, longtime leader of the Maryland Council for the Blind, journeyed to Philadelphia in October to take part in the Pennsylvania Regional Governors' Committee conference on employment of the handicapped. ... Dr. Isabelle Grant, the NFB's peripatetic plenipotentiary and ambassador of good will, was the guest of honor at a luncheon of the San Diego Braille Club recently, where she enthralled the members with an account of her work for the blind in Pakistan. The club presented Dr. Grant with over a dozen slates, styluses and funds for the purchase of braille paper.
Information, Please. Do any of our readers know of any community which is now using audible traffic signals at pedestrian cross-walks? If so, does anyone know the cost of installing (1) new signal posts containing audible signals, or (2) audible signals into existing systems? Informed readers are requested to write Eugene E. Sibley (president of the Greenfield-Athol Association of the Blind), 231 Conway Street, Greenfield, Massachusetts. . . . The National Society for the Prevention of Blindness conducted its 11th annual statewide eye health screening program in New Jersey last September, offering week-long free eye checkups at some 70 hospitals and health centers throughout the state.
Dr. Floyd Matson, THE BRAILLE MONITOR'S assistant editor and University of California faculty member, was a participant in a November conference on humanistic psychology at Middletown, Connecticut, held under joint auspices of Wesleyan University and the Annerican Association for Humanistic Psychology. . . . During fiscal 1964, a total of just under $500,000 has been approved for training programs in the area of visual handicap, according to the AAIB FOUNTAINHEAD.
Guide Dog vs. Restaurant. A blind woman executive of New York City, Mrs. Thelina Ketlen, is waging a court battle to sustain her legal right to enter an eating place with a guide dog and be served. According to a report in THE NEW YORK TIMES (November 13, 1964), Mrs. Ketlen said that half the public places she visits refuse to let the dog enter and that only one-third of these relent when informed of the law permitting access to blind persons with dog guides.
A new drive to boost business in the nation's sheltered workshops has been put into practice by the General Services Administration, which will urge all business firms receiving GSA contracts for goods and services to give sheltered workshops in their cities "every opportunity to compete for subcontracts." .... Dr. A. P. Jarrell, director of the Georgia Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, took over as president of the National Rehabilitation Association at the NRA's November conference.
Tennessee's Governor Frank Clement has announced that state welfare recipients will share in an extra $3,343,000 in benefits during the rest of the current fiscal year--with monthly hikes ranging from $2.00 to $10.00 for persons receiving aid to the blind, aid to the disabled and old age assistance. . . . Helpful hints to volunteers aiding in the production of materials for visually handicapped persons are contained in two publications, "Tips on Taking" and "Teaching Braille to Sighted Potential Transcribers," available on request from Mrs. Florence Grannis, Librarian, Iowa Commission for the Blind, 4th and Keosauqua, Des Moines, Iowa 50309.
Blind on Horseback? The success achieved by two blind students who enrolled in a horseback riding class is described by Dr. David A. Field in an article entitled "Blind on Horseback? Why Not?" published in the July-August 1964 issue of the JOURNAL OF REHABILITATION. . . Predictions of a greater demand for rehabilitation centers were made recently by Miss Mary E. Switzer, Commissioner of Vocational Rehabilitation, in a speech pointing to the expected expansion of disabled "rehabilitees" far beyond the new high of nearly 120,000 rehabilitated in the year ending June 30, 1964.
The Melvin Jones-Lions Center for the Blind, a $200,000 orientation center in Phoenix, Arizona, was recently completed under the lead of 28 Lions Clubs of the region. The building includes facilities for teaching a variety of skills and crafts, along with broad recreational facilities. . . . The Department of Health, Education and Welfare has announced approval of substantial grants for rehabilitation research to Tufts University in Boston and Temple University in Philadelphia. Emphasis in both universities will be upon the teaching and demonstration of rehabilitation techniques for use with the disabled.
From the AAIB FOUNTAINHEAD: "A very helpful article entitled, "Developing Independence in the Visually Handicapped Child, " appeared in Today Builds Tomorrow, Winter 1963. The article stresses the needs of a visually handicapped child for responsibility for himself and his actions, to feel useful, to have time to be alone, to take an active part in social situations and other important items. Free copies are available by writing to Miss Mary J. Doane, ACSW, Supervising Consultant on Services for Blind Children, New York Department of Social Welfare, Commission for the Blind, 270 Broadway, New York, New York 10007.
Blindness on the Rise . Between 1940 and I960, while the general population of the United States rose by 36 percent, the blind population rose by some 67 percent, according to the 1963 annual report of Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc., of New York. The report pointed out that 20 years ago there were about 6,700 new cases of blindness a year in this country; by contrast, new cases currently total more than 30,000 per year. "Out of every 100 cases of blindness, only about five are caused by accidents and another four by poisoning," the report stated. "Most blindness is caused by diseases that science doesn't understand--doesn't yet know how to prevent and doesn't know how to cure."
The board of trustees of The Seeing Eye has approved a gift of $30,000 for ophthalmic research to the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. ... A $14 million expansion in the sale of blind-made products under the Skilcraft label is being planned by National Industries for the Blind, according to reports emanating from the NIB's fifth annual Sales Seminar held in Miami Beach. . . . The Wichita (Kansas) chapter of the Blind Bowlers of America recently received a solid gesture of support from the local Downtown Club: $600 to buy uniforms and organize operations.
Earl Nickerson, blind Massachusetts computer programmer and mathematician, was named the state's Handicapped Person of the Year during the National Employ the Handicapped Week. Nickerson, 48, holds a master's degree in math and is presently working toward his Ph.D. , while holding down a job with the Avco Corporation. . . . Richard K. Dennett, blind editor of the White Cane Column in the Disabled American Veterans Magazine, died in Long Beach, California, September 2 at the age of 42.
New Facility for Elderly Blind. A new center for visually handicapped senior citizens is being planned by Boston's Catholic Guild for All the Blind, according to LISTEN (October 1964). The facility, to be located at Newton, Massachusetts, will offer a two-week period of intensive evaluation and adjustment services for older men and women with severe visual loss. . . . Mary K. Bauman, counseling psychologist at Philadelphia's Personnel Research Center, is the author of a comprehensive study of the characteristics of more than 400 blind members of 30 professional occupations, entitled "Characteristics of Blind and Visually Handicapped People in Professional, Sales and Managerial Work." Copies may be obtained without charge upon request from: Norman M. Yoder, Commissioner, Office for the Blind, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
A 20-foot-wide mural, depicting blind children and adults seeing Christ and the Angels, has been presented to the Christian Record Braille Foundation by Hubert Smith, founder and president of Ways and Means for the Blind, Inc. The mural, painted by Joe Maniscalco, will be placed in the Foundation's new building in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Floyd S. Field, longtime leader of the Niagara Falls chapter of New York's Empire State Association of the Blind, was the subject of a lengthy biographical article as "personality of the week" in the Niagara Falls GAZETTE recently. The article emphasized Floyd's role as chairman of the ESAB's recent convention as well as his vigorous activity in rehabilitation and job finding for the sightless in the Buffalo and Syracuse areas.
The 80th Report of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, of Great Britain, emphasizes that "a major breakthrough has been made by the enormous technological advance in the production of multi-track tape Talking Books. Already a three-fold expansion, as compared with our long-playing disc library, has resulted. . . , Experiments are proceeding with a more compact cassette, capable of postage in an ordinary letter box, containing 15 hours of reading matter, and special appliances have been devised for the manually handicapped."
The recorded magazine for the blind formerly known as "The Talking Lion" has changed its name to "Dialogue," and will continue to be sponsored by Lions Clubs in 17 states. . . . "What Every Blind Person Should Known about Library Service for Blind Persons" is the title of a publication available from the American Foundation for the Blind, 15 West I6th Street, New York, New York 10011.
Mr. Roy J. Ward, Supervisor of Home Teachers in Virginia, was elected to a two-year term as president of the Eastern Conference of Home Teachers at its 1964 convention held last fall in New York City. . . . Fresh on the heels of its victory last year in repealing the set aside of income from vending stand operators, the South Carolina Aurora Club is seeking to improve services to the blind through legislation to establish a single agency to administer programs for the blind. Its opening gun is an attractive brochure dramatically and logically setting forth the reasons for the legislation.
The Blind Recreation Center in Oakland has been ordered by the Oakland (California) Commission of Public Charities to retract a statement that the blind of the area "have no other place to meet," according to the Oakland TRIBUNE. The retraction order was forced by the East Bay Center for the Blind, which was established approximately ten years ago when the independent blind people of the Bay Area withdrew from the Recreation Center and its expensive new building because of the breaking of promises that the blind themselves should manage the new center.
Bill Dwyer, president of the Tri-City Council of the Blind, was the winner of a $250 incentive award--the highest amount given this year by his employer, the Huyck Felt Company, for suggestions to improve operations. Bill is also the author of a chatty column in the company magazine, The Huyck Feltmaker, under the caption "This 'N' That". , . An AP dispatch credits blind lawyer David Murrell of Frankfort, Kentucky, with winning ten straight appellate cases since his appointment a year ago as Assistant Attorney General. ... In response to an inquiry from a Connecticut dark-room technician for suggestions from the National Federation of the Blind for avoiding exposure of X-ray film due to sighted people leaving the light burning, it was suggested that an audible timing device such as that used for a bathroom fan might be substituted for the light switch.
Old Watches Wanted. Isabelle Grant has come up with still another good idea for providing helpful appliances for blind people overseas. Braille watches that are no longer working can be repaired by watch- makers in Far Eastern countries for a dollar or less in American money, and passed on to blind persons who cannot afford such an item. Send your old braille watches to Isabelle at 851 West 40th Place, Los Angeles 37, California. . . . Californians are offering their felicitations to Onvia Ticer, who was married to William Tillinghast on November 7, in Modesto, California.
Blind Alabamans are still reaping benefits from the work of the Alabama Federation of the Blind in passing Act 574 at the 1963 state legislature, liberalizing the Aid to the Blind program. In a little over a year, average payments under the program have increased by more than $19--about a 40 percent increase over the old grant. . . . Diabetes is not the giant sight-killer it is commonly supposed to be, according to Dr. John Berg, California physician who reported survey findings to the fall convention of the California Council of the Blind. Describing recent advances in eye surgery techniques. Dr. Berg cited the increasingly higher percentage of successful operations resulting in "saves" from blindness.
Kenneth Russell, president of the Black Hawk County (Iowa) Association of the Blind, died November 7 of coronary trouble following a protracted illness. . . , Three chapters affiliated with the Iowa Association of the Blind held elections recently, with the following persons voted into presidential offices: Eldred Gerhold, Cedar Rapids Association of the Blind; Lawrence Schaefer, Black Hawk County Association of the Blind; Janet Onvig, Des Moines Association of the Blind.
Braille Teaching Project. The United States Office of Education (Department of Health, Education and Welfare) recently announced that it is financing a thirty-month project by San Francisco State College to improve the teaching of braille. ... A new regulation on rail and bus passes requires that blind persons traveling with a guide must pay a fee of one dollar; previously there had been no charge for blind persons who were accompanied by guides. . . . The Cleveland Society for the Blind announces that Bell Employees are working on three-dimensional Christmas, birthday and get-well cards for blind persons which will soon be ready for distribution.
The Board of the Montana Association for the Blind has voted in favor of joining the Montana Association for Rehabilitation as an associate member, beginning January 1, and to send a delegate to regular meetings of the M.A.R. . . . The MONTANA OBSERVER notes that, although there is no replacement for the old braille Baby Ben alarm clock, the Gilbert Company's Century alarm clock--sold at Montgomery Ward stores for $2.75--has raised numerals which can be read by touch, and the glass is easily removed.
Following the NFB convention in Phoenix last summer, where many of them were guests, representatives from Australia, Ceylon, Pakistan, Malaysia and Korea went to Des Moines for the express purpose of learning the Iowa Commission's philosophy and the techniques used in its program of training of the blind, so that when they returned to their respective countries, they might model their training methods for the blind after the Iowa program- -which has becorae recognized internationally as a leader in this field. ... A blind off-Broadway producer, Stella Holt, will bring the professional theater to Hawaii, states a recent theater column in the New York HERALD-TRIBUNE .
The first issue of an annual publication, Blindness 1964, has been released by the American Association of Workers for the Blind, Washington, D.C. The volume contains detailed articles on government-sponsored research, aging and blindness, social welfare trends, and other topics. .... The November, 1964 issue of WELFARE IN REVIEW, monthly publication of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, is devoted mainly to reporting the results of a comprehensive survey on the public assistance program of Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled--under the title, "The People Who Receive APTD."
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