JUNE 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, California 95825
Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708
Acting Editor: Jacobus tenBroek
Assistant Editor: Floyd W. Matson
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708
News items and changes of address should be sent to the Editor.
LAST CALL FOR NFB CONVENTION
NEVADA FIGHTS TO HOLD GAINS
By Catherine G. Callahan
CALIFORNIA ORIENTATION CHIEF IN NEWS
A LETTER FROM CEYLON'S BLIND LEADER RIENZI ALAGIYAWANNA
MAIL BREAK FOR BRAILLE USERS
NFB MINIMUM WAGE BILL GAINS SUPPORT -- HR 8093
HECTOR CHEVIGNY, BLIND AUTHOR, DIES
CALIFORNIA COUNCIL CONVENTION
WELFARE LAWS AND WEST GERMAN BLIND
MICHIGAN BLIND PLAN SUMMER CAMP
REPORT ON VIRGINIA CONVENTION
CALIFORNIA BACKS BLIND TEACHERS
NAGLE TESTIFIES ON DISABILITY BILL
TEXAS STUDY OF BLIND PROGRAMS
KIRCHNER CASE JUSTICE HONORED
A BRITISH PLAN TO STREAMLINE WORKSHOPS
AMERICAN FOUNDATION DISPUTE AIRED
STATE WELFARE HIT BY TENBROEK
PARRISH CASE IN NEW APPEAL
NEW REHAB BILL WILL REMOVE NEEDS TEST
NAGLE TESTIFIES ON WORKSHOPS IN REHAB
FEDS BAR MINNESOTA PROPERTY BILL
NFB ANNOUNCES SCHOLARSHIP AWARD
Members and friends of the National Federation of the Blind are reminded that there is still time to make plans and reservations for the Federation's silver anniversary convention to be held July 6 through July 9 at the Mayflower Hotel in the nation's capitol. Requests for reservations should be addressed to: Reservations Manager, Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C. with an indication that you are attending the NFB convention.
The convention will open at 10:00 Tuesday morning, July 6, and will adjourn at 5 p.m. Friday, July 9. Single rooms at the Mayflower are priced at $7, with twins at $11. The banquet will be held on Thursday, July 8, at $4.95 per person (including tip and tax).
The convention program is expected to be more than usually packed with speeches and panel discussions featuring top-level federal officials and members of Congress -- along with tours of the capitol city and a wealth of social activities.
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By Catherine G. Callahan
(Editor's note: The following article by Catherine G. Callahan, a veteran leader of the Nevada Federation of the Blind, relates the dramatic uphill struggle of the group which culminated this year in the reestablishment of a separate division of services for the blind. The MONITOR regrets, however, its error in reporting in the May issue that the state had repealed its residence requirement in aid to the blind. Efforts on the part of the state's organized blind toward that end have been temporarily defeated.)
Many Federationists will remember the struggle we had in Nevada to have the Services to the Blind removed from rehabilitation and set up in a separate bureau under the Department of Welfare.
In 1963 we sponsored a bill in the legislature which provided that the Bureau would maintain its divisional status. This bill was passed and signed by the Governor. However, in the last days of the legislature, a reorganization bill was rushed through, and in the mad scramble no one realized that the Bureau of Services had been included in the reorganization and was demoted to a sub-divisional status. The Nevada Federation had thought that its position in this case was secure in the bill which was already passed. Actually, the new reorganization called for a Department of Health and Welfare under which there was a Division of Welfare and the Bureau of Services was placed under the Division of Welfare.
In this situation, trouble soon arose. Under regulations written by the Division of Welfare, the services were more and more restricted by red tape and regulations. The services became almost completely bound to the Aid program, although in our state approximately one-fourth of the blind population are on Aid and the remaining three-quarters are not.
When our 1965 legislature opened, we sponsored a bill to restore the Bureau of Services to the Blind to the status of a division, placing it on an equal basis with the Division of Welfare but separating its budget and policies. As soon as the bill was introduced, the Federation sent letters explaining our position on the bill and why we requested this change to all the members of the State Legislature. In addition, individual members wrote letters supporting the bill and urged their friends and service clubs and other organizations to do the same.
In the meantime, the Director of the Department of Health and Welfare, Chuck Munson, had indicated that he would oppose any change. In view of this fact, Governor Sawyer invited the State Federation's president, Audrey Tait, to bring a delegation of Federation members to a conference with him and Mr. Munson to discuss the matter. We had also asked for a hearing before the Assembly Committee on Social Welfare; and we had asked Russell Kletzing, National Federation President, to testify on our behalf.
So on February 22, our delegation arrived at the state capital. In the conference with the governor, Mr. Munson claimed that to set the Bureau up as a Division would entail a great deal of additional expense. He also stated his hope that, given time, things could be worked out to bring the services back to their former efficiency. Both these propositions were quickly set aside, under questioning by the Governor. The claim of additional expense was disproved by the fact that the Bureau already had its own offices, staff and operating budget. The only additional expenses would be minor items such as a telephone switchboard, some accounting expenses, etc. At the end of the discussion, the Governor said he did not see why it could not work out, and endorsed our proposal.
From the governor's office we went into the hearings and there excellent testimony was given by Russell Kletzing, K. O. Knudson and Audrey Tait. At the conclusion, the general feeling of the committee, as expressed by the chairman, seemed to be favorable. We all came home feeling optimistic about the chances of passage.
Following this meeting, those of us who had members on the committee from our districts, contacted them individually with further explanations of the urgency and importance of this legislation. Three weeks passed in this way, and still the bill had not come out of committee. Upon calling the chairman of the committee, we were told that it didn't look as if the bill would come out of committee at all, and when asked the reason, he said that the question of expense had come up. We couldn't understand this, because the question had been settled both before the Governor and in the committee hearings.
We then started what might be called a pincers movement. K. O. and Audrey from Las Vegas bombarded the governor's office and their local representatives; and Catherine, from Reno, did the same with all the members of the committee she could get hold of. Five days later we received word that the committee had unanimously passed the bill out with a "do-pass" recommendation. On the same day, however, another bill was introduced, setting up a new department of vocational rehabilitation, and the Bureau of Services to the Blind was included in this bill. After all our work in 1957 to get out from under general rehabilitation, we certainly didn't want to be put back in there. Immediately we asked for hearings on this new bill and started writing letters opposing it.
Again our delegation gathered on March 24, and descended upon the capitol where we started in buttonholing legislators and talking fast. We learned that although our bill had been passed by the committee, it had not been put out on the floor of the assembly -- although a bill that is passed by a committee is supposed to be put out on the floor in the next twenty-four hours. The chairman had said he didn't see why it should be put out, as the new bill would supersede it. If we had not already been in fighting trim, that would have done it -- with the legislative session already running into overtime, and much talk of it drawing to a close within a few days.
At the hearings, the administrator of the present Division of Vocational Rehabilitation got up and talked about what he "envisioned" under a new Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. The Federationists got up and talked facts. K. O. Knudson presented our case in opposition to the rehabilitation bill, backed up by specific instances given by Audrey and Catherine. There were neither questions nor remarks from the committee, so we left without knowing exactly what might be the outcome. Our own bill came out in the assembly and was passed unanimously! From there it went on to the Senate without any further trouble, although we kept on the alert right up to the last day of the legislature.
An outstanding lesson gained from this experience is to be seen in the example provided by Carl Clontz, our state board director from Hawthorne, Nevada, because it shows what just one member can do in one of the smaller counties in a state. Ever since joining the Federation, in 1961, Carl has kept in touch with his State Assemblyman and Senator, explaining to them the philosophy, problems and aspirations of the blind -- and both of them backed us to the hilt when the chips were down. In a state like ours this is very important, because, except for the two heavily populated areas of Reno and Las Vegas, the remainder of the population
is very thinly scattered.
If we had just one member in each county who could keep their representatives thus informed, it would require less of a crash program each time the legislature is in session, as each representative would be aware of the issues in advance. In the smaller communities it is easier to maintain this relationship, as the assemblyman or senator is probably a next-door neighbor.
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Allen Jenkins, director of the California Orientation Center for the Blind, made headlines twice in recent weeks. The first time was in connection with opening ceremonies of the Center's new Albany location. The second occasion drew the headline: "Blind Aide Says He Was Tricked in Theft of Statue."
It seems that Allen was changing an automobile tire at his home on the property of the old Oakland site of the center when a man approached him and asked to borrow a ladder.
"I believe he said something about wanting to examine the carvings on one of the buildings, " Jenkins was quoted by the OAKLAND TRIBUNE as saying. "In any event, he was welcome to borrow ray ladder."
About an hour later Oakland police returned to the Jenkins home with four persons in custody, the newspaper reported. "The statue of the Greek goddess of love plus an assortment of ornamental cherubs and dolphins had been found in the trunk of their car, "
The four alleged thieves of love are presently on trial in an Oak- land court -- but not, it seems, for alienation of affections.
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Ceylon Federation of the Blind,
National Federation of the Blind
Dear Russell Kletzing:
We send your our heartiest good wishes for a successful convention in Washington. We are perfectly confident that under your guidance and the inspiration of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the Washington convention will be another memorable milestone on the highroad leading to the independence of the blind. We are personally interested in your achievements, since you are blazing the trail, not only for the blind of the U.S.A. but for all the blind people of the world. The N.F.B. convention, in Phoenix, was an eye-opener to the whole world; and since then the Asian blind in particular have become more conscious of their rights than ever before. As president of the Ceylon Federation of the Blind, let me assure you of our whole-hearted support of all your plans for the progress of the blind, both national and international.
Although I cannot be with you in Washington this year, I feel that I am more intimately among you than at Phoenix July last. It was the first international convention that I had ever attended, and the experience of being introduced to hundreds of blind comrades was extremely interesting. In fact it was the first international assembly of the blind that the world had ever seen and everything was so thrilling, that I was only able to become intimately acquainted with Isabelle and Chick. Immediately after the convention, I was overwhelmed by the friendliness of Gwen and George, who invited me to be their guest in Kansas City. During the long train journey back home to Missouri, I made friends with all the members of the N. F. B. delegation who travelled with me in the same compartment. I participated not only in their joys but also in their sorrow, when Miss Maye suddenly passed away. The warm reception and generous hospitality I received at the hands of the Rittgers, will always remain one of the happiest memories of my visit to the U.S.A.
I spent two weeks in the Commission for the Blind in Iowa, and I was deeply impressed by the achievements of Mr. Kenneth Jernigan. What he has already accomplished in Des Moines, will remain for us in Asia, a high target which we are trying hard to fulfill. Although I left Iowa and the U.S.A. with a heavy heart, I consoled myself with the thought that by corresponding with my friends, I could identify myself closely with the hopes and aspirations of the N.F.B. THE BRAILLE
MONITOR, which I receive regularly, has completely fulfilled my expectations in this direction. Through the MONITOR I have become aware of the currents and undercurrents, not only in the life of the U.S. blind, but also the shape of things to come in our part of the world. It has helped to bring you all closer to me and unite our aspirations so intimately that I feel more with you in spirit today than ever before.
Your declaration of the rights of the blind has already had good effects in many distant lands. The torch of Federationism that you set ablaze a year ago has already begun to dispel the darkness of ignorance and prejudice throughout the world. Last year only seven of us were with you, but this year many hundreds of us are following your deliberations closely, and wish you all success.
Very sincerely yours,
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"The U.S. Post Office is to a blind person what a rope is to a mountain climber. It's a life line that brings books, records and communication with others."
So began a recent newspaper feature story by Lucille Eddinger, of the Copley News Service, datelined Washington, D.C. The story related efforts being made by the National Federation to extend and improve free mailing privileges for the blind.
Noting that Congress has long recognized the importance to the sightless of free mailing privileges for books, the article observed that "with many devices such as tape recorders now on the market, the National Federation of the Blind favors widening the mailing privilege.
"Now being considered is a bill that would extend free mailing to include embossed maps and other devices specifically designed for use by blind persons. It would also include magazines, letters in Braille and recordings," the writer said.
"John Nagle, of the National Federation of the Blind, explained what the bill would do for blind persons. . . . He said that a trade magazine for the blind man is mailed to him free, but his wife has to pay for her special Braille edition of a woman's magazine because it does not fit into the present free mailing category."
It was pointed out that the new bill would include all braille magazines and would permit the sending of letters and reading material to or from the blind without charge.
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The single-handed struggle of the National Federation to secure minimum wage legislation for sheltered shop workers -- carried on year after year against formidable opposition -- has recently gained some agency support.
Speaking May 12 on the House floor, Congressman Dent declared that "The bills I introduced in prior Congresses to improve Section 14 of the Fair Labor Standards Act for handicapped workers in sheltered workshops have consistently had the support of the National Federation of the Blind. I am pleased to say that the bill I am introducing today has the support of that organization and two additional major organizations in the field of work for the blind persons of this nation -- the American
Association of Workers for the Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind. With this added support, I am hopeful that the 89th Congress will take favorable action on it."
The Dent bill would amend Section 14 of the Fair Labor Standards Act to do the following:
1. Increase the wages paid handicapped workers in sheltered workshops to 50 percent of the prevailing minimum wage effective January 1, 1966; 75 percent of the prevailing minimum wage effective January 1, 1967; and the prevailing minimum wage effective January 1, 1968.
2. Prohibit reduction of wages for handicapped workers who are receiving pay in excess of the prescribed minimum.
3. Authorize payment of less than the prescribed minimums to handicapped workers being provided training or evaluation services in a workshop where work is incidental to the services, and to those individuals so severely disabled they are unable to engage in regular competitive employment outside the workshop.
4. Establish an absolute floor of 50 percent of the prevailing minimum wage for all handicapped persons in workshops, including those engaged in training and evaluation programs.
5. Establish a category of facility in the law to be known as Work Activity Centers for handicapped individuals whose productivity is inconsequential.
6. Authorize a study by the Secretary of Labor to determine rates of compensation for individuals in Work Activity Centers.
7. Provide for annual certification by state vocational rehabilitation agencies for individuals to be paid less than the minimum wage and for those in Work Activity Centers.
The Congressman noted that wages currently paid handicapped workers in sheltered workshops are frequently as low as 50 cents, 25 cents, and even 10 cents an hour. He added that actual practice decisions on wages and working conditions in sheltered workshops are made solely by the workshop management without consulting with the handicapped workers or their representatives.
Dent commended the bill to the House as a "just and fair measure designed to improve the lot of handicapped workers in sheltered workshops in the same way the wage structure has been improved for non-handicapped workers over the years. " He added that his bill would help these handicapped workers secure a greater measure of financial security amid economic uncertainty, to work without fear for fair compensation, and to secure a better opportunity for themselves and their families to live with decency and dignity.
The Federation's president, Russell Kletzing, and Washington office chief, John Nagle, urge all Federationists to send letters to the members of the House subcommittee considering the bill. It is emphasized that a strong volume of mail favoring the measure will be needed to gain affirmative action, in view of the powerful opposition anticipated from the sheltered workshop lobby. Last year the mail against the Federation's bill was reportedly far greater than the number of letters supporting it. In the words of one Congressman, "It was the most intensive mail campaign I have ever seen. " This year the organized agitation against the wage measure is expected to be still more formidable.
The members of the General Subcommittee on Labor of the Committee on Education and Labor (House Office Building, Washington, D.C.) are: James Roosevelt (California); John Dent (Pennsylvania); Roman Pucinski (Illinois); Dominic C. Daniels (New Jersey); Augustus Hawkins (California); Edith Greene (Oregon); Alonso Bell (California); Charles Goodell (New York); Dave Martin (Nebraska).
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Hector Chevigny, well-known blind novelist and historian, died of a heart attack on April 30 at his New York City home. He was the author of two widely read books on blindness: My Eyes Have a Cold Nose, an autobiographical account of his experiences after becoming blind, and The Adjustment of the Blind, a scholarly study co-authored with psychiatrist Sydell Braverman. He also was co-inventor of the Braverman-Chevigny auditory projective test.
A former national president of the Radio Writers Guild, Chevigny wrote two historical novels about Alaska, Lost Empire and Lord of Alaska, and authored a history of early Alaska entitled Russian America. He also wrote Woman of the Rock, a novel about a feminine evangelist.
Although he composed both serious and popular works on subjects related to blindness, Chevigny never became active in work for the blind or in causes espoused by organizations of blind people.
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Dr. Arnold Cook, blind professor of economics at the University of West Australia in Perth, was the banquet speaker at the spring convention of the California Council of the Blind, held in Sacramento May 7-9. The convention was preceded by a day of legislative work in which Council members from throughout the state discussed the Council's legislative program with their senators and assemblymen. The social highlight of the convention was a pizza party at the Kletzing residence sponsored by the Alumni Association of the California School for the Blind, which netted $33. 00 for the International Federation of the Blind.
Program items included a panel discussion led by Professor tenBroek concerning the Kirchner case, and a panel discussion of the state-operated workshops moderated by James McGinnis. Other speakers included Dr. Everett Wilcox, the new superintendent of the California School for the Blind; Warren Thompson, director of the State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, and a representative of the Economic Opportunity Program.
The IFB reaped a second bonanza of $179.00 at the banquet when charm-bracelet-sized ebony elephants were sold at $1.00 a piece. The chief huckster was none but Dr. tenBroek. James McGinnis was elected delegate to the NFB Washington Convention, and Muzzy Marcelino was elected alternate.
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Two four-year-old laws governing the welfare of blind persons in West Germany characterized by many as very advanced legislation -- the Disabled Persons Act and the Federal Social Assistance Act -- have been described in a recent letter by Dr. Alphonse Gottwald, head of the Deut- scher Blindenverband E. V. (German Association of the Blind).
A key provision of the Disabled Persons Act requires public and private employers to hire a minimum percentage of disabled persons -- 10 percent for public agencies and 6 percent for private firms--of which a "reasonable proportion" must be blind. The act further states that "an employer shall employ disabled persons in such a manner that they can use and develop their abilities and knowledge to the fullest extent possible."
For the purposes of the Act, a person is defined as blind "if he has such poor sight that he is unable to find his way about in unfamiliar surroundings without the help of another person."
Two principal methods of enforcement are provided: Employers who fail to fill their quotas are required to pay a monthly equalization sum of 50 DM for each post in the quota not filled; the employment office is authorized to name employees and fix the date of employment if the employer does not fulfill its obligation. A contract of employment is then automatically put in force.
In establishments employing five or more disabled persons, "such persons shall elect a representative and at least one deputy representative, who shall both normally be disabled persons, to represent their interests." The employer "shall defray all necessary expenses relating to the duties of the disabled persons' representative."
Under the Federal Social Assistance Act, "Blind persons who have reached the age of 6 years shall be granted assistance to offset the additional expense incurred by reason of their blindness . . . Such assistance shall be payable at the rate of 250 DM [about $50] a month to blind persons who have reached the age of 18 years, and at the rate of 100 DM a month to blind persons who are under 18 years of age." In most parts of West Germany eligibility is limited to those with incomes of $250 or less per month; but in five areas of the country (Bavaria, Berlin, Hesse, Lower Saxony and the Saar) the assistance grant is extended to all blind persons without any limitations as to income and property.
A blind person who refuses to do work that can be reasonably expected of him or to be given training, further training or retraining for an appropriate occupation or other suitable activity shall not be entitled to such assistance.
The text of Dr. Gottwald's letter follows.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
At the General Meeting of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind in New York the German delegation was asked to communicate to their foreign friends the text of our Disabled Persons Act as well as the Federal Social Assistance Act. I hereby send you the two Acts in question, permitting myself to add the following remarks:
1. The "Deutscher Blindenverband" has always considered it one of its principal tasks to cooperate with the government in the field of social legislation. The sections concerning the blind in the Disabled Persons Act and the Federal Social Assistance Act must be regarded as a result of this activity.
2. According to the Disabled Persons Act the definition of "disabled person" comprises war-blinded as well as civil-blinded persons [Section 1(2)]. According to Section 3 public authorities and institutions are obliged to employ not less than 10 percent disabled persons; in the case of private employers this percentage is limited to 6. According to Section 4 a reasonable proportion of the disabled employees shall be war-blinded and civil-blinded persons.
By Section 14 disabled persons are protected against arbitrary dismissal. The dismissal becomes lawful only by the authorization of the main assistance office. Consequently no blind person can be dismissed without this authorization.
In the Federal Republic the leave of employees is regulated by the Federal Leave Act as well as by wage agreements. According to Section 34 of the Disabled Persons Act disabled persons are entitled to six working days' additional leave with pay per year.
3. The Federal Social Assistance Act constitutes an Assistance to Blind Persons and an Assistance in Connection with the Resettlement of Handicapped Persons.
According to Section 67, blind persons are granted an assistance of 200 DM [approximately $50] a month, which amount is going to be raised up to 240 DM per month in the near future.
Every blind person has a legal claim to the Assistance to Blind People. There exist two exceptions to this:
a) In case of the blind person's monthly net income exceeding 1000 DM, he is not entitled to such assistance [Section 81 (2)]; this limit is advanced by 100 DM each for his wife and each of his minor children.
b) Owners of larger property have no claim to the Assistance [Section 88].
These two exceptions do not apply in the territory of Bavaria, Berlin, Hesse, Lower-Saxony and the Saar: in those Laender the assistance is paid irrespective of income and property. For the war-blinded and those blinded by work accidents there exist special regulations.
Sections 39 and 40 deal with the Assistance in Connection with the Resettlement of Handicapped Persons. From Section 39 clearly follows that this assistance is also granted to blind persons. Section 40 deals with the various forms of assistance in connection with the resettlement of handicapped persons.
Section 40(1), 2 is of particular interest for blind persons. According to this regulation the government grants blind persons the necessary appliances. A special order has been issued on this--in Section 9 of this same order there figures the following list of necessary appliances; (a) typewriters; (b) communication-sets for deaf-and-blind persons; (c) type-writers for Braille sheets; (d) watches for blind people; (e) tape recorders; (f) guide dogs. Besides the regular assistance money the owner of a guide dog is paid a sum of 45 DM per month for dog food.
The "Deutscher Blindenverband" is constantly endeavouring to improve these laws in the general interest of the blind.
Dr. Alphonse Gottwald
Deutscher Blindenverband E. V.
Mozartstrasse 18, Fernruf 62058
532 Bad Godesberg, Germany
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A summer camp for blind persons and their families is being planned by the South Oakland County (Michigan) Chapter of the Blind for the week of August 6 to 13 at Camp Echo, Lakeville, Michigan, according to information from Mrs. Bessie M. Fowler. Located about 20 miles northeast of Pontiac, the camp is operated by the Salvation Army.
Reservations (to be limited to 100) should be sent to Mrs. Hagan Hamby, 27859 Dartmouth, Madison Heights, Michigan 48071 accompanied by cash. Total price for the week-long camp will be $10.50 per adult, with children 15 and under attending free when accompanied by parents. Living quarters are in the form of duplex housing, with extra beds available for youngsters.
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"No!" was the emphatic reply of William Coppage, newly appointed director of Viginia Commission for the Visually Handicapped, in response to a question by NFB President Russell Kletzing whether he would object to any of the Commission's employees, sheltered shop workers or vending stand operators, joining the Virginia Federation of the Blind.
Coppage's answer, which seemed to mark the inception of a new era of cooperation between the organized blind of Virginia and the state agency for the blind, was the high point of the seventh annual convention of the Virginia Federation of the Blind, held in Richmond, April 30 to May 2. The exchange occurred in a program feature called "What's on Your Mind?", during which the Virginia agency director answered questions from convention attendants.
Other program items were a talk by Russell Kletzing entitled "The NFB -- Its Weaknesses and Strengths"; a federal legislative report by John Nagle, and a panel on employment opportunities for the blind.
The convention banquet, attended by more than 100 Federationists and friends, was climaxed by an address given by Russell Kletzing. Robert McDonald, president of the Virginia Federation, was elected delegate to the NFB convention, with James Copeland, VFB treasurer, as alternate delegate.
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(Editor's note: The California Senate on May 17 gave unanimous approval to a bill prohibiting discrimination against the blind in teacher training, practice teaching, and the hiring of teachers. Introduced by Senator Donald Grunsky, chairman of the Fact Finding Committee on Education, the bill was supported by a survey of the attitudes of school principals on the performance of blind instructors. The findings of the committee's survey, preceded by a summation of the results by Senator Grunsky, are reprinted here as they appeared in the California Legislature's SENATE DAILY JOURNAL, May 17, 1965, p. 2381.)
Prior to the introduction of SB 989, which would prohibit discrimination against the blind in teacher training, practice teaching, and in the hiring of teachers, a confidential survey was carried out of the principals of schools now employing blind teachers. The principals of 45 of 50 schools in which blind teachers are employed returned the questionnaires. The results indicate a level of satisfaction of blind teachers far above that which could be expected from a random sampling of sighted teachers.
Thirty-two of the forty-five teachers have been employed for three years or more, and therefore, have obtained tenure. All of the blind teachers were rated at average or better, and more than 90% were rated either good, excellent, or superior.
To the question "What kind of class control does he or she maintain?", only one of the teachers was rated as poor -- the rest being rated as average or better. 80% were held to be above average in this factor.
Of all of the principals polled, only three indicated that they would not employ a blind teacher if they had the decision to make again with their present knowledge.
The fact that the questionnaire represented frank expression was borne out by the fact that approximately half of the principals had encountered some special problems with their blind teachers. These included such items as difficulty with yard duty, transportation, etc. Apparently the overall performance was adequate to compensate for any special arrangements that had to be made as indicated by the overwhelmingly favorable answers to the questions.
It must be concluded from the answers to the questionnaire that virtually all the blind teachers teaching in the public schools of California have been successful in their chosen field. A tabulation of the results of the questionnaire follows.
RESULTS OF QUESTIONNAIRE CONCERNING SUCCESS OF OR LACK OF SUCCESS OF BLIND TEACHERS
Number of Questionnaires Sent Out - 50
Number of Questionnaires Returned - 45
BREAKDOWN OF QUESTIONNAIRES RETURNED - BY GRADE LEVEL
Junior College 4
High School 11
Junior High 4
1. HOW LONG HAS THIS TEACHER BEEN ON YOUR STAFF?
1 Year 7
2 Years 5
3 Years 8
4 Years or Longer 24
2. HOW DO YOU RATE HIS OR HER GENERAL PERFORMANCE?
3. WHAT KIND OF CLASS CONTROL DOES HE OR SHE MAINTAIN?
Teacher Has Another Teacher Present 1
Teacher Has Limited Number of Students 2
Teacher Has Handicapped Students Only 6
The Students Show Exceptional Respect for Blind Teacher 2
Teacher Has Good Control Over Class All Times 5
Teacher Has A Significant Discipline Problem 2
4. WHAT SPECIAL PROBLEMS, IF ANY, HAVE YOU OR YOUR STAFF ENCOUNTERED BECAUSE YOU HAVE A BLIND TEACHER ON YOUR
STAFF? PLEASE EXPLAIN YOUR ANSWER BRIEFLY.
No Problems 22
Can't Handle Yard Duty, Lunchroom, etc. 9
Can't Supervise Extracurricular Activities 3
Needs More Clerical Help 5
Needs Proctor Present 3
Has Trouble Presenting Material Effectively 1
Students Take Advantage of Teacher 5
Teacher Needs Transportation to and from Work 2
Other Teacher's Lack of Understanding 1
5. IS VISUAL ACUITY, IN YOUR OPINION, A REASONABLE QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENT FOR TEACHERS AT ANY GRADE LEVEL? PLEASE EXPLAIN YOUR ANSWER BRIEFLY.
Yes, Definitely 20
No, Definitely 22
For Limited Subjects Only Yes 0 No 5
Yes, for These Respective Grade Levels
Junior College 1
High School 1
Junior High 2
In Specialized Areas*
Yes 3 No 2
No, But Depending on Individual 1
6. IF YOU HAD THE DECISION TO MAKE AGAIN, AND KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW, WOULD YOU HIRE A BLIND TEACHER (ALL OTHER QUALIFIACTION REQUIREMENTS BEING MET)?
If All Other Qualifications are Met
Yes 37 No 3
For Certain Subject Matter
Yes 4 No 0
* The YESES relate to hazardous courses such as shop or chemistry. The NOES relate to special education for the blind such as Braille, or such courses as individual music instruction, etc.
Eleven of the Principals answering the questionnaire considered the blind teachers employed by their respective school district to be exceptional people.
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(Editor's Note: For an account of the introduction of S. 1787, readers should see the story in the Braille Monitor for May 1965. The bill defines blindness in the standard terms of 20/200, allows blind persons so defined to become eligible for disability insurance payments if they have worked in covered employment for six quarters, and permits such blind persons to continue to draw disability payments irrespective of their income or earnings. )
"This bill would be of immeasurable help to the worker suddenly confronted by the devastating effects of blindness -- the discouragements of protracted unemployment, the despair of an expected lifetime of unemployment, the shocking loss of independence, the hurts and humiliations of dependency."
So spoke John F. Nagle, chief of the Washington Office of the National Federation of the Blind, in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee on May 17. Nagle urged the committee to incorporate the provisions of S. 1787, liberalizing disability cash benefits for blind persons, within the pending medical-care amendments to the Social Security Act.
Introduced at the behest of the N. F.B. by Senator Vance Hartke and 41 co-sponsors, on April 13, 1965, S. 1787 represents the current version of the "Humphrey Amendment" unanimously adopted by the Senate last fall, which failed to become law when Congress delayed action on the social security medical-care amendments to which it was attached.
He declared that "it is the economic consequences -- the abrupt termination of weekly wages, the diminished earning power, the drastically curtailed employment opportunities open to the recently blinded person, or to the person who has lived a lifetime without sight -- these, and not the physical absence of sight, convert the physical disability of blindness into the economic handicap of blindness."
The National Federation's spokesman described the Hartke bill as providing "a floor of minimum financial security for those who must learn to live again, to function without sight in a world of sight."
Nagle was joined in his supporting testimony by Irvin P. Schloss, representing the American Foundation for the Blind and the American Association of Workers for the Blind.
Schloss argued that enactment of S. 1787 "will definitely serve to spur the rehabilitation of blind persons. By providing blind persons with an economic floor from which lo operate in rehabilitating themselves, the Congress will give them an opportunity to experiment with various vocations without the risk of losing their benefits should they fail in one endeavor and find it necessary to try something else."
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A comprehensive report on "Services for and Rehabiliation of the Blind" -- containing a number of significant proposals for change in the state's programs for the blind -- has been completed by a study committee of the authoritative Texas Legislative Council.
Among the Council's specific recommendations are the following: Aid to the Blind. The report notes that Texas is one of only nine states and territories which do not have a vendor medical payment program for blind aid recipients, despite earlier passage of a state constitutional amendment for the purpose. It is proposed (with the inclusion of a draft bill for the purpose) "that enabling legislation be passed and that an appropriation be made to activate the vendor medical program for Aid to the
Blind recipients at the earliest feasible time."
The report also calls on the legislature to "consider liberalizing residence requirements for the Aid to the Blind program in Texas . . . in view of the vastly increased mobility of the population of the United States and probable impending amendments to the federal Social Security laws to liberalize residence requirements for all public assistance programs. "
Vending Stand program. The Council report suggest that the present scale of set-aside fees charged against operators -- which ranges from $1 per month to a maximum of $60 for stands grossing over $1,875 per month -- be "periodically reviewed and revised." But the report takes definite issue with recommendations of the unofficial Texas Research League for sharply graduated fees which would fall heavily upon successful stand operators. Asserting that such a plan "would tend to destroy operator initiative, " the Council suggests that fee schedule revisions be made "on an equitable basis, " taking care that changes are designed "to preserve individual initiative of stand operators."
Noting that "considerable success has been reported in Cleveland and other cities with locally owned and locally supervised vending stand operators" as against state ownership, the Council recommends that "experimental investigations" be made to determine whether local ownership and supervision of vending stands may be feasible in Texas.
With respect to competition from vending machines, the Legislative Council recommends legislation giving "first priority" to vending stands and vending machines operated by the blind in all new state buildings.
In a chapter headed "National and State Organizations With Programs for the Blind," the report gives first attention among all groups to the National Federation of the Blind, whose functions and purposes are set forth in detail with emphasis on the N.F.B.'s program activities and basic philosophical objectives.
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Justice B. Rey Schauer, author of the now-famous Kirchner decision striking down the doctrine of relatives' responsibility for support of mental patients in public institutions, was presented recently with the Annual Achievement Award Citation of the California Social Workers Organization.
Justice Schauer, who wrote both of the California Supreme Court opinions and who returned to the Bench after retirement to write the second, was honored at a Los Angeles luncheon on April 25. The occasion has been described by one participant in the following words:
"Justice Schauer 's friendly dignity, his modesty and his obvious appreciation of the Award won everyone at the award luncheon. He made a short speech in which ... he spoke in the first person plural, giving much credit to his fellow justices and implying that he was merely their scribe.
"He touched on how greatly honored he felt to be the recipient of the Award, and then . . . turned the compliment back on the group by saying, "You who give your lives to the service of others are more richly deserving of recognition than am I." A standing ovation came from the luncheon guests and there was more than one damp eye as he left to catch his plane."
The text of the Award Citation follows:
Justice B. Rey Schauer's life long interest in social welfare, and his concern to apply the Constitution to social welfare laws, have found their fulfillment in the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of California in Kirchner vs the State Department of Mental Hygiene. As author of this decision Justice Schauer has made a highly significant contribution to the effort to free California social welfare laws from the clanking chains of Elizabethan Poor Law tradition.
Basing the opinion on California's constitutional guarantees of equal protection for all citizens under its laws, the Kirchner decision struck down that section of the Welfare and Institutions Code which held certain relatives responsible for the support of persons cared for by the Department of Mental Hygiene
The Court found it to be a proper function of the state to enact and administer laws for the treatment of persons in appropriate state institutions and, therefore, the costs should be borne by the state. It said such costs cannot be charged arbitrarily to one class of society; and declared a law which selects a particular class of persons to be liable for a special tax, with no rational basis for the classification, violates the equal protection clause.
Justice Schauer wrote in the Kirchner decision, . . . .we need not blind ourselves to the social evolution which has been developing during the past half century". The decision is indeed touched with vision -- and with courage -- for it implies the means, yet to be explored, to further free California's social welfare laws from the bondage of the ancient past and thus to extend constitutional guarantees to all poor or afflicted persons.
April 25, 1965
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A plan for modernizing and generally reforming the operations of sheltered workshops has been set in motion in England, according to a report in the British journal THE NEW BEACON.
The plan has involved the creation of an independent nonprofit corporation, staffed by industrial and professional experts, to advise national officials and local authorities on ways and means of bringing sheltered shops into line with modern methods of production and distribution.
Although the firm, entitled Industrial Advisors to the Blind, is barely a year old and only beginning its tasks of inspection and study, it represents a deliberate effort toward solving the multiple problems of obsolescence and inefficiency which beset sheltered workshop industries everywhere. At the least the British program bears careful watching by all Americans concerned for the future of the workshops and of their blind and handicapped employees.
Writing in the April, 1965, NEW BEACON under the title "Planning for the Future of the Workshops for the Blind," IAB managing director R. Isbell-Carpenter observed that his company began from scratch a year ago, "with the twin targets of marrying its industrial experience with the workshop and welfare experience of local authorities and voluntary agencies, and of helping all to strive towards a break-even point.
"The board of directors numbers nine, all part-time save the managing director; three of them bring experience of the local authority-world, and the remainder that of business and industry at director level. We have four departments, the functions represented being marketing, production, personnel and finance," he wrote.
"In all we are, or will be, 18 people: a mobile group which has inherited an immense mass of work requiring many problems to be thought through, contacts to be made, facts to be assembled, priorities to be set: and with no magic answer available. "
In Britain, 3,800 blind people work in 65 workshops, ranging in size from only four to 300 workers. The local government authorities are responsible for the shops. They run half of them themselves and the other half through voluntary agencies. The workers take home 11 pounds odd weekly, roughly $30.80; with the whole operation costing 2,500,000 pounds a year and rising, roughly $7,000,000.
According to Isbell-Carpenter "all except a handful of blind workshops are still making the 'traditional' -- baskets, mats, brushes, knitting, and chaircaning, using craft methods.
The proposal to establish Industrial Advisors to the Blind was advanced by a Department of Labor working party set up to study the problem of the shops and which made its report in 1962.
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A bitter personality clash within the American Foundation for the Blind, occasioned by the firing of Miss Kathern F. Gruber by Executive Director Robert F. Barnett, has been aired in an extensive "Special Report to Membership" by the Blinded Veterans Association. The report appears in the April, 1965, issue of the BVA BULLETIN.
The BVA's discussion centers around two recent letters by Miss Gruber and by Jansen Noyes, Jr., president of the American Foundation, written in reply to requests by BVA officers for information on the firing, which occurred in November, 1963. The two letters express sharply conflicting views as to the basis for, and handling of, the AFB's dismissal of its veteran senior administrator.
In her letter (dated February 2, 1965), Miss Gruber stated that she has "no interest in returning to the Foundation or in being associated with any of its projects while it continues under the present leadership." She maintained that she had been fired "because I challenged the procedures under which the Foundation was reorganized," and that her separation was conducted arbitrarily and without adequate hearing.
"If charges were to be made against me, they should have been made in a professionally conducted hearing at which I would have been present and could have learned what they were and who made them. There was no such hearing," Miss Gruber wrote.
"All trustees are held responsible for the public trust they undertake when they permit their names to be used on the letterhead of an organization, particularly one that solicits funds from the public. The procedures followed by the Executive Director in firing me and by the Board of Trustees in upholding his action seem to me to have made a mockery of that form of organizational government," her letter concluded.
In a lengthy statement on the conflict, a special two-man committee appointed by the BVA's board of directors summarizes the division of opinion and presents the official interpretation of the veterans' organization. After paying tribute to the contributions of Miss Gruber as an advisor to the BVA over many years, the committee statement continues:
"With these feelings and sense of obligation and gratitude, it is not surprising that we were shocked and unhappy at learning, in November, 1963, that Miss Gruber and the Foundation had parted company suddenly, and not on the best of terms. As so often happens in such cases, there were conflicting reports, rumors and statements about what had occurred and why.
"Dismayed by the rupture, members of the BVA decided to wait and see, in the hope that the situation would be remedied. But, last August the BVA, at its annual convention, decided that this was not going to happen and, accordingly, passed a resolution expressing regret at Miss Gruber's separation from the Foundation and requesting' . . . the National Officers and Directors of the BVA to ascertain all possible facts concerning this matter and transmit them to the Association's membership and Presidents of the Regional Groups, and be published in the BVA BULLETIN at the earliest possible date."...
"The BVA has a natural reluctance about passing judgment on the internal actions of another organization. The differing contentions of the parties here underscore the basic wisdom of such an approach in this case.
"Miss Gruber's contention is that she was summarily fired without being accorded any of the procedural safeguards of due process, such as notice of the charges against her and a fair hearing with an adequate opportunity to refute such charges. This is a position that is not only reflected in her present letter, but one which she seems to have taken consistently since her separation from the Foundation. Certainly, a member of an organization like the Foundation, who has served ably and with dedication for many years, should not be subjected to summary and involuntary dismissal for unspecified reasons.
"Miss Gruber's contention is clearly at odds with a key assertion in Mr. Noyes' letter that she refused to accept an approved plan for reorganization of the Foundation and that 'her dismissal was, in effect, at her own request.' There can, of course, be no question of the right of an organization to insist, as a condition of continuing employment, that its staff accept decisions made or ratified by responsible officials even though the nature of particular decisions or the manner in which they were reached is objectionable to individual members of the staff."
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By Donovan Bess
(From the San Francisco Chronicle, May 24, 1965.)
A noted constitutional scholar, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, charged yesterday that California's poor families have been deprived of basic citizenship rights as a result of going on relief.
He asserted they are being exploited as a class under a prejudicial law system about 350 years out of date.
He called on the Legislature and the courts to wipe out the antiquated legal system which, at the moment, is applied to nearly 500,000 men, women and children carried as family cases by the State Department of Social Welfare.
Dr. tenBroek is a professor of political science at the University of California and a former chairman of the State Social Welfare Board.
He made his charges in a 100,000-word, three-part series in the current issue of the Stanford University Law Review. This is the longest work ever published by that periodical.
In the article, tenBroek said the California law, as enacted by the Legislature, and department regulations, force the poor families to sacrifice "equal protection" rights under the 14th Amendment.
He asserted that while under the criminal code a man is presumed innocent until proved guilty, under California's "family poor law," a man is presumed to be both incompetent and irresponsible. He noted California has a system providing "separate, different and unequal" treatment of its poor families.
In an interview, tenBroek said this system probably costs more in money, in the long run, because "the only way to get people off the relief rolls is by helping them to get up, not by kicking them down."
Such discrimination, the law-review article said, is generating among the relief recipients "a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone."
Under the California system, tenBroek wrote, a zealous social worker even can perform an ad-hoc marriage ceremony merely by discovering a "man in the house" and designating him as the husband.
The law-review article also described night raids by county investigators detailed to catch men on the premises of mothers getting dependent children aid. The raiders even quiz children about whether a man has been hanging around.
The legality of such intrusions is now being weighed by the District Court of Appeals. tenBroek said yesterday he feels the searches violate both the Fourth and the 14th amendments.
"It is hardly a way to give the children a sense of the dignity of the law," he said.
The article asserted that "welfare, like education, or the provisions of police and fire protection, is a basic public function benefitting all who live in the community."
The lengthy article was written from three years of meticulous research by the U.C. constitutional lawyer and political scientist.
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The case of Benny Parrish against the Civil Service Commission of Alameda County, California -- which began when the blind Alameda County social worker was fired more than two years ago for refusing to participate in pre-dawn raids upon the homes of welfare recipients -- has been carried to the District Court of Appeal after an adverse Superior Court decision handed down last year.
In their opening brief on behalf of Parrish, submitted in mid-May, attorneys Albert Bendich and Coleman Blease argued (1) that Alameda County's "bed-check raid" violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; (2) that the raid also violated the Constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process of law, and (3) that Parrish's "refusal to violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments did not constitute insubordination justifying his dismissal."
Parrish was fired from his social worker post with the Alameda County Department of Welfare in January, 1963, on a charge of insubordination based on his refusal to obey an order to take part in a mass early-morning search, without warrants, of some 400 homes of Aid to Needy Children recipients -- twenty of whom were to be selected by him at random from his caseload. He appealed to the county Civil Service Commission, which upheld the dismissal. Subsequently his petition for reinstatement was denied by the county Superior Court, which again affirmed the dismissal.
Attorney Bendich, principal author of the current brief who has defended Parrish from the beginning, will be remembered by Federationists as a guest speaker at last year's Phoenix convention where he discussed the progress and significance of the blind social worker's continuing legal struggle.
The brief as presented before the District Court of Appeal opened with these words:
"This is a case peculiarly of our time. It concerns the twenty percent of our people who, in former Attorney General Kennedy's phrase, are 'serving a life sentence of poverty."
"It concerns the dangers of insensitive and cynical bureaucracies. It concerns the meaning of our constitutional guarantees of liberty and equality and justice for all.
"Finally, it concerns each of us as members of a society now dedicated not merely to the enlargement of the quantity of things in our lives but, as President Johnson has said, to improving the quality of our lives. It is for us to judge and determine whether the qualities we wish to encourage include dedication to the great principle of liberty and justice for all; to an increase of sensitivity to the rights of others; to greater independence of mind and spirit, or whether the bureaucratic souls, the servile spirits, the followers of commands, the 'cowed and meek, who see the world's great anguish and its wrong arid dare not speak,' shall be the models we affirm."
Following a summation of facts and events surrounding the Parrish case, the brief continues: "This case, therefore, presents some profoundly significant issues:
"Are all Americans, regardless of wealth, entitled to the presumption of innocence?
"Are all Americans, regardless of wealth, entitled to the same Constitutional guarantees of privacy, of freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, of liberty, of equal protection of the law?
"May public servants be compelled, upon pain of dismissal, to violate the Constitution?
"We shall argue that the guarantees of equality, fairness, and freedom which protect the dignity of all Americans, require -- particularly today, when our society is becoming increasingly aware of and sensitive to the need to overcome poverty and other forms of social blight, that the mere fact of poverty, like the mere fact of race, must be considered a constitutional irrelevance.
"We, as a people, are on the way to that 'great society' where men will be united in brotherhood, not divided by fear and suspicion; where poverty, illness, and misery, not the poor, the sick or the miserable will be kept without the gates. This case is an important step on that road."
In their closely documented argument that the "bed-check" raids in which Parrish refused to take part were themselves in violation of the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable intrusions upon the privacy of the individual, the authors of the brief declared:
"The great lessons and precedents of history are peculiarly inseparable from this case. When, in that chill pre-dawn of Sunday, January 13, 1963, there was a synchronized knock on the doors of Alameda's poor, the Constitution reverberated to the sound, and the corridors of history echoed."
Paralleling the argument against the raids on Fourth Amendment grounds, the brief maintained that these actions of the county welfare department also violated Constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process of law. Asserting that the "bed check" operation was discriminatory because the selection of homes to be raided was based on the "impermissible classificatory characteristic of poverty," the brief continued:
"The underlying official premise of the intrusion upon the privacy of the ANC recipients . . . was that they were untrustworthy; that they were liars, cheats, frauds and probably criminals. This was the official message which Alameda's order for the 'bed-check' communicated to the public, to the caseworkers, and to the recipients.
"If they were to obey this order Benny Parrish and all other caseworkers were inescapably required to misrepresent themselves to their clients as either believing that they were liars, cheats and frauds when they did not believe that, or as believing that the recipients were entitled to be treated the same as other law-abiding citizens while treating them as if they were liars, cheats and frauds. . . .
"The question, therefore, is whether persons can consitutionally be classified as untrustworthy, as liars, as probable criminals; deprived of the presumption of innocence; subject to public humiliation and degradation; trespassed upon; frightened; asked to subject themselves to a predawn ransacking of their houses upon pain of forfeiture of the very basis of their existence simply because they are poor?"
In their conclusion, the authors of the Parrish brief referred to the "recent monumental study of the historical development of legal attitudes toward the poor: by Professor Jacobus tenBroek, entitled "California's Dual System of Family Law: Its Origin, Development, and Present Status. " A lengthy quotation from the tenBroek study was set forth in the text to support the general contention of the brief that the Parrish case presents "a great opportunity to right a fundamental injustice.. . . by
making it unavoidably clear that the Fourth Amendment protects the poor as well as the comfortable; that the presumption of innocence applies to all regardless of wealth; that the privacy and dignity of all our people is to be protected, . . . that poverty is not an acceptable basis for invidiously discriminatory classifications . . . that civil servants may not be forced to choose between respecting constitutional principles and keeping their jobs; that public employment can not be conditioned upon obedience to unconstitutional commands."
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A break-through for the blind and all other recipients of vocational rehabilitation services seems possible in Congess as a result of favorable committee action on H. R. 8310, the Vocational' Rehabilitation Amendments of 1965 which will eliminate economic need as a federal requirement of eligibility for such services.
The provision is the result of persistent campaigning by the National Federation of the Blind, which alone has carried the fight for across-the-board elimination of the needs test requirement in all phases of the rehab program.
H. R. 8310 is now expected to gain passage in both the House of Representatives and the Senate following approval in May by the House Committee on Education and earlier by its special subcommittee on education.
The Federation's campaign received initial impetus in the present Congress with the introduction of its bill, H.R. 7373 by Congressman Carlton Sickles of Maryland. Congressman Sickles, a member of the sub-committee on education, was subsequently instrumental in gaining the inclusion of his proposal within the overall rehabilitation bill.
Testifying at hearings of the subcommittee April 28, the Federation's "man in Washington," John F. Nagle, hammered forcefully at the need for complete elimination of the economic test as a condition of receiving rehab services. After noting that the general bill called for the removal of reader service for the blind and interpreter service for the deaf from the category of aids requiring a means test, Nagle asserted:
"This proposal, though necessary and commendable, is but a timid half- step when a courageous full and firm stride is needed. Since dollars spent to restore disabled workers to the labor force result in the return of many more dollars in taxes paid and welfare costs saved, why not eliminate the 'means' test from vocational rehabilitation altogether?
"When a disabled and dependent person is helped by vocational rehabilitation to become independent, not only is there a gain for this restored individual, but there is a gain for the entire community -- for as each person in our nation is able to function to the fullest extent of his capacities, so is the entire nation enriched and strengthened by his contribution."
(For other details of Nagle's testimony on rehabilitation and sheltered shop legislation, see story below.)
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Strong opposition to pending efforts to broaden the role of sheltered workshops within the vocational rehabilitation program was voiced by the National Federation of the Blind in recent hearings on the omnibus rehabilitation bill held by a special House subcommittee on education.
In oral and written testimony covering various phases of the proposed amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, the Federation's John Nagle also urged the committee to give attention to the threat posed by vending machines to the livelihood of blind stand operators under the Randolph-Sheppard Act.
Nagle further warned against provisions in the pending bill to "water down" the purposes of vocational rehabilitation by including categories of disabled persons lacking the potential for restoration to productive employment.
With respect to sheltered workshops, the NFB's Washington office chief maintained that "It is not possible to 'improve' these shops because their basic and underlying concept is segregative and exclusionary.
"By its very nature, the sheltered shop is removed from the regular life and activities of the community," Nagle said. "It is a retreat from regular economic endeavor and a refuge from normal cooperative life. The very designation of the workshop as 'sheltered' clearly indicates its unfitness to prepare disabled people for competitive employment."
Under questioning by Congresswoman Edith Greene of Oregon, chairman of the subcommittee, as to wages paid in the sheltered shops, Nagle produced exact figures indicating the numbers of workers receiving subminimum wages ranging from under 25 cents an hour to 50 cents, 75 cents and a dollar an hour.
Following Nagle's testimony, Congressman Hugh L. Carey of the subcommittee commended him for "taking a most forthright stand to deal with an area in which you certainly are a better-informed person than any of us -- the employment of blind people."
The congressman expressed agreement with testimony provided both by the National Federation and by representatives of organized deaf groups "that our present minimum-wage exceptions are working in some cases so that unscrupulous employers are now seeking out handicapped persons to get the benefits of low-wage patterns even though these handicapped persons possess equal or in some cases superior skills to those whom they would have employed had it not been for the refuge of the. exemption. "
Congressman Carey continued: "Since this committee will be considering, I hope, new minimum-wage standards in all provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, I think it would be most appropriate for us to follow this line as far as we can and determine if we are setting up an improper program for the handicapped of the country, inadvertently, by giving greater protection of the minimum-wage statutes than needed."
Others testifying on April 28 before the subcommittee included Irvin P. Schloss, legislative analyst for the American Foundation for the Blind; John C. Harmon, director of Special Services and legislative counsel for Goodwill Industries of America, and Antonio C. Suazo, executive director of the National Association of Sheltered Workshops and Homebound Programs.
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Efforts by the legislature and the organized blind of Minnesota to liberalize personal property exemptions for recipients of aid to the blind have run up against the familiar wall of opposition from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
The Minnesota experience presents a lesson in the handling of such legislation which should be of value to other states seeking improvements in the conditions surrounding exemption of personal property (including cash, other liquid assets, and the cash surrender value of insurance) for purposes of public assistance.
Among the bills introduced in the current legislative session, at the behest of the Minnesota Legislative Committee of the Blind, was a measure (5, F. 503 and H. F. 512) increasing the cash assets allowed so that an applicant or recipient of aid to the blind may have or accumulate $1,000 (single person) or $1,500 (married couple), amounts which the bill described as "more in line with today's economy in order that emergencies can be met and further create incentive for recipient's efforts toward self- support."
The Minnesota bill also sought to increase the cash surrender value of life insurance from $500 to $1,000 for a single person and from $750 to $1,500 for a married couple.
The negative response of the federal agency to this legislative effort was summarized in a letter to Minnesota's Commission of Welfare, Morris Hursh, from the regional representative of the Bureau of Family Services (HEW), Alfred E. Poe. His communication reads in part:
"In substance, the reply from the Washington office states that while the states have the latitude to develop their real and personal property provisions in relation to the purposes which seem appropriate to the state for needy people to retain certain resources, it has nevertheless been necessary to apply a 'rule of reason' both to the purposes and to amounts held. Over a period of time, certain precedents have been established out of the problem raised by different states regarding specific proposals as to real and personal property provisions. The outer limit on personal property provisions as established in precedent by the approval of state plan provisions is $1,500. (In this context the term, personal property, includes cash surrender value of life insurance.)
"It appears essential, therefore, that before enactment, the provisions of House File No. 512 be changed so as to limit to $1,500 the amount of 'personal property' plus cash surrender value of life insurance that a recipient of Aid to the Blind may own."
While Minnesota must accordingly modify its proposals to conform with federal requirements, the State may still improve its existing law with respect to personal property exemptions -- and so may other states faced with a similar problem. One effective way in which the states may take full advantage of the opportunities presently available is the method followed by California. Essentially that method involves two provisions:
(1) -- A section providing that the maximum exemption permitted by the federal government, now or in the future, will be the amount allowed by the state. The wording of this provision in California's Welfare and Institutions Code is such that any federal liberalization of exemptions, whether of income or property, will automatically bring about a corresponding adjustment of state regulations -- up to and including the total exemption of all income and property of the recipient. The California wording follows:
"... earnings or other income of an applicant shall not be considered, and shall not be deducted from the amount of aid to which the applicant would otherwise be entitled. The property of the applicant shall not be considered in determining his eligibility for aid.
"This section shall become operative if and when amendments to the federal statutes or rules and regulations of the Federal Security Agency take effect permitting this State to give effect to this section without there-by rendering this State ineligible to receive federal grants-in-aid for assistance or aid to the blind of this State, and to the extent to which those statutes or rules and regulations permit it to be given effect. " (Emphasis added.)
(2) -- The second provision is a section specifically excluding items not to be counted in determining the value of personal property held by the applicant or recipient. The list of items should be as extensive as permitted by the federal authority. For example, the relevant section in California's Welfare and Institutions Code reads as follows:
"The value of the following property shall be excluded in determining eligibility under this chapter:
"1. Personal jewelry, personal effects, home furnishings and other property used to provide, equip and maintain a home for the applicant.
"2. Equipment and material which is necessary to implement a rehabilitation or self-care plan for the applicant.
"3. Motor vehicle needed for transportation.
"4. Any property right which is essential to land use or which is not available for the use of or expenditure by or in behalf of the applicant to meet a current or future need of said applicant."
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The Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship, administered by the National Federation of the Blind, will be given annually to legally blind university students working toward professional degrees (graduate and undergraduate) in law, medicine, engineering, architecture and the natural sciences, according to an announcement by the NFB.
The scholarship, established by a bequest of Thomas E. Rickard in honor of his father Howard Brown Rickard, carries payments varying from $250 to $1,250 per year.
Applications for the coming academic year (1965-1966) were closed as of June 15, 1965. Information concerning future applications may be obtained from the National Federation of the Blind, 2341 Cortez Lane, Sacramento, California 95825.
Thomas E. Rickard, a long-time Federationist, died two years ago. He practiced law in Lander, Wyoming. The income from this practice plus interests which he acquired in mines constituted the basis for the bequest. Rickard attended the California State School for the Blind along with NFB President Russell Kletzing and was a student of Professor tenBroek at the University of California.
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The 1965 convention of the Empire State Association of the Blind will be held on the Labor Day weekend, September 3 through September 6, at the Hotel Utica, Utica, New York. ... A bill that would raise welfare payments up to four dollars a month has been enacted by the Oklahoma legislature. The measure reportedly will make possible a two-dollar raise October 1 and a second two dollars the following April 1. Winfield S. Rumsey, executive director of the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind since 1959 and a 15-year veteran in work for the blind, died of a heart attack at his California home last February 22 at the age of 47.
The Tennessee legislature has passed a bill to make it possible for a recipient of aid to the blind who moves out of the state to continue receiving assistance for a period of one year or until he meets the residence requirement of the state to which he has moved. . . . From the British journal THE NEW BEACON comes word that John Haley, who had successfully sued the London Electricity Board for damages totalling 5,750 pounds for injuries received in falling into a trench, will now get 10,000 pounds as a result of action by the Appeal Court. Lord Denning, Master of the Rolls, is quoted as saying: "It is a very difficult question, but I think the trial judge gave him far too little."
Perry Sundquist, Chief of Services for the Blind in California, was the main banquet speaker at the annual convention of the Iowa Association of the Blind held June 3 through June 5 at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton. . . . That blindness does not prevent success in the selling field has been proved by an Ashville, North Carolina, blinded veteran, Hilliard F. Kirby, who recently retired after 29 years as a top salesman with a wholesale plumbing supply firm, Hajoca, Inc. . . . Dr. Isabelle Grant, member of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind, was the keynote speaker at the conference of the National Braille Association (formerly the National Braille Club), held May 12-15 at the Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim, California.
A former president of the American Association of Workers for the Blind, Calvin S. Glover of Cincinnati, died in March at the age of 76. He had been executive secretary of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind for 40 years until his retirement in 1958. . . . Guide dog owners in the United Kingdom now number nearly 1,000, according to THE NEW BEACON. . . . The third annual convention of the Associated Blind of New Jersey was held June 13 in Atlantic City. ... A team of United States blind golfing stars led by former international champion Joe Lazaro of Waltham, Massachusetts, won the ninth annual international blind golfers' championship in April by defeating a Canadian blind foursome.
The fiftieth anniversary of St. Dunstan's, the British organization for blinded veterans, was celebrated in March when Queen Elizabeth held a reception at St. James' Palace for 300 members -- 150 from each of the two world wars -- who gathered from all parts of the United Kingdom and from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. . . . "A little retrospect reveals that the benefits of federation have contributed much to the well-being of the blind," according to President L. E. Gotto of the Federated Blind of North Dakota, writing in THE RETINA. "We are a branch of a sturdy, living, growing tree -- the National Federation of the Blind. Our number is not great but may we be much in quality." .... The Ohio Council of the Blind announces that its 1965 convention will be held October 15 through 17 at the Sheraton Dayton Hotel in Dayton.
The State of Washington has reduced its residence requirement for blind aid recipients to six months as a result of action in the current session of the legislature. The former residence clause required a stay of five years, according to Wesley M. Osborne, president of the Washington State Association of the Blind, writing in THE WHITE CANE. . . . A blind professor of literature at Notre Dame University, Stephen J. Rogers, is the subject of an article in a recent issue of WITNESS, a magazine for youngsters published in Dayton, Ohio. . . . Some 60,000 Bantu children attending over 100 schools in South Africa's Transvaal have been treated for trachoma over the past two years by the National Council for the Blind, according to an item in LISTEN -- with resultant reduction of the disease's incidence from 35.3 percent to 5 percent of the population.
From THE NEW BEACON: "An air fare rebate of 50 percent is granted by BKS Air Transport Ltd. to blind passengers on all the company's domestic air routes (in England). The blind passenger must be accompanied by a guide, who also qualifies for the rebate; must be travelling for business, medical, training, educational orrehabilitation purposes, and must be certified as a blind person." The journal had earlier reported a similar fare concession by British European Airways, covering domestic journeys with a guide. . . . Two instructional events for professional personnel interested in the pre-school blind child and his family will be held this summer by the University of Pittsburgh as part of its program in special education and rehabilitation. For information write to: Ralph L. Peabody, Special Education and Rehabilitation, 920 Schenley Hall, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213.
The Buffalo Eye Bank and Research Society, New York, celebrated its twentieth anniversary in May .... Forty colleges and universities across the country are participating in a program through which the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration offers free traineeships for graduate study leading to a master's or doctor's degree in the field of vocational rehab counseling. Grants are from $1,000 to $3,400 plus tuition. Applications should be made directly to the cooperating university; a list of these can be obtained from the Division of Training, Vocational Rehabilitation Administration, Department of HEW, Washington, D.C. 20201.
If I May Share is the title of a second volume of verse by the blind British poet Anthony Naumann (published by Collins of London, England, 1964). . . . His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Spellman, conducted the blessing and dedication of new buildings of the Lavelle School for the Blind in New York City last month. The expanded school now has 20 classrooms, 12 music rooms, and a variety of new structures. . . . "Go Talk to a Blind Man," an article by Gregor Ziemer in the March issue of the LION Magazine, features photos of Norbert Cifelli, president of the Associated Blind of New Jersey. . . . The American Association of Instructors of the Blind announces a competition contest involving musical compositions for solo instrument or voice, with cash awards ranging downward from a first prize of $100. For information write: Mr. Edward Jenkins, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, Massachusetts 02172.
The Minnesota Bulletin of May, 1965 states that C. E. Ronayne has been appointed the sixth superintendent of the Minnesota Braille and Sightsaving School at Faribault. Ronayne will assume his official duties July 1. He is currently employed in the Department of Special Education in the State of Colorado. He will replace J. F. Lysen who is retiring after 31 years of service as superintendent. . . . Howard Hawkins, who tunes pianos for the Chicago schools, was on the bus on his way home from work. His tuning case was on the floor between his feet. A boy, getting off the bus, grabbed it and was gone before anyone realized what had happened.
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