PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN BROTHERHOOD FOR THE BLIND
A CHARITABLE AND EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION
2652 SHASTA ROAD BERKELEY 8, CALIF
AUGUST ISSUE 1961
FIRST EDITION - 1961
Includes May, June, July, August
BLIND AMERICAN INAUGURATES INKPRINT EDITION
With this issue The Blind American inaugurates its inkprint edition -- to be published monthly, with a duplicate table of contents, alongside the Braille edition.
The present issue embraces the contents of the first four months of the Braille Blind American -- covering the issues of May, June, July and August 1961. A few minor articles and news items originally appearing in those issues have been deleted.
In both inkprint and Braille, The Blind American is a publication of the American Brotherhood for the Blind, Inc. -- a non-profit, non-sectarian, educational and charitable foundation -- and is distributed free to the blind.
Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
THE BLIND AMERICAN
May, June, July, August 1961
Newel Perry, Famed Blind Leader, Memorialized
Around the World With Oscar
New Frontiers in the Classroom
Brothers. . . & Others
Contributors to this issue
Insert: Speech as reprinted in Congressional Record, in memoriam to Newel Perry: Teacher of Youth and Leader of Men.
Nevada Blind-Aid Program Remains Intact
American Foundation Attacks White Cane
"He Walks By a Faith Justified By Law. . ."
Self-Realization and the Right to Read
Brothers. . . & Others
Victory in California: Blind Win Right to Organize
People-to-People and Person-to-Person
National Federation of the Blind Convention Roundup
Washington Report: Progress on Blind Programs
Smashing Legislative Victories in California
New Advances in Oregon's Aid-to-Blind Law
The South Carolina Story: Five-Year Report of Aurora Club
Brothers. . . & Others
Arizona Welfare Chief Attacks Blind-Aid Income Provision
Organized Blind Spokesman Defends Increased Exemption
The Case for Liberal Income Exemption: California's Program
New Committee to Study Federal Welfare Programs
The Law of Crimes and the Law of Welfare (Insert)
John Nagle Honored by Columnist
Brothers. . . & Others
Blind Americans mourned the passing early this year of Dr. Newel Perry, pioneer leader and educator of the sightless and long-time officer of the American Brotherhood for the Blind.
Dr. Perry, who died in Berkeley, California, in February at the age of 87, had served successively as member of the board of directors, vice-president, and president of the American Brotherhood during the decade ending in 1945, when he resigned from formal office to become legislative editor of the Brotherhood's “All-Story Braille Magazine”.
A teacher and director of advanced studies at the California School for the Blind in Berkeley for more than a third of a century, Dr. Perry was the founder and first president of the California Council for the Blind from 1934 to 1953.
His long and fruitful career of service to the blind was memorialized on March 25 at a special convocation held at the California School for the Blind and attended by 250 of his former students, colleagues and comrades-in-arms within the organized blind movement.
The principal address of the meeting, "Newel Perry: Teacher of Youth and Leader of Men," was delivered by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, president of the American Brotherhood for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind. Dr. tenBroek, a former student and close associate of the late Dr. Perry, is a professor at the University of California and chairman of the California Board of Social Welfare.
The text of Dr. tenBroek’s address honoring Newel Perry has since been reprinted in full in the “Congressional Record" of April 12, 1961, at the motion of Congressman Jeffrey Cohelan of California. It is set forth at the conclusion of this issue of “The Blind American”.
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By Dr. Isabelle L. D. Grant
Oscar is my white cane. My students honored him with that complimentary name when Oscars first came into being. My claims to such a coveted award I never fully understood, but Oscar it was and has remained.
Oscar was my sole companion on my forty-thousand mile safari through 21 foreign countries over a period of 52 weeks. For me Oscar won friends and many acquaintances. As often as not, his function was misinterpreted; the behras or servants in the hostels did not stop to question. They grabbed him by the red tip and sallied forth along the uneven pavements to the rickshaw stand, with me hanging on to the leather thong, bringing up the rear, somewhat in the "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross" fashion. Others would, in true "gentilhomme" manner, carry the cane for me, using the cane to cleave their way through the crowd, as they dragged me, naughty-little-girl-wise, by the hand, I pulling backward in my restrained efforts to avoid collision with burkhas, babies, and hubble-bubble smokers along the footpath, alias sidewalk.
We scaled the storied ruins of the Acropolis together. We scuffed our way on huge carpet sandals over the parquet of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. We painfully walked the cobbled holy ground of the Via Dolorosa, up the Hill of Golgotha every inch of the way hallowed indeed, but unhallowed by the thin little arms of the children, fastening on to my arm, underfed, refugee, and too many of them blind. "For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven" had a new if perplexing significance for me.
The blind throughout Egypt are legion. My Bedouin guide described the blind children as "poor, with sore eyes, too many flies on eyes." Trachoma takes its toll of these little ones, in a rich beautiful city, topped by its Citadel, flanked by the broad Nile, and cherishing an abundance of superbly ornate mosques. But the government of the United Arab Republic is awake to the problem of its blind population. Blind men and women are being trained in the vast rehabilitation center on the banks of the river--trained to return to their villages to help in the training of the other hundreds of thousands of blind, in the making of baskets, sandals, beds, and so on. A strange anomaly of encouragement and discouragement, pointing towards hope for the future. The University of Cairo has at least two outstanding blind professors on its faculty.
The sub-continent, stretching from the snowy heights of Everest and Kunchingunga south to Ceylon and the equator numbers between two and three million blind persons among its three hundred million people. Mendicancy, their recognized occupation from the religious and social standpoint, is the accepted order. Blind persons are defeated before they start. The few rehabilitation centers are totally inadequate.
Dehradhun, near New Delhi, is good. The Phansa Project outside Bombay gives great promise of farm training, agriculture, and animal husbandry. The bicycle assembly plant in Madras had 20 blind workers--an excellent example, but little more than an oasis in a vast desert. The picture would be desolate, were it not that this mighty giant of India and the Far East is awakening, stirring--albeit somewhat ominously, for the shadow and fear of imperialism still overhang, and the spirit of self-determination is too new to be understood. The problem of the rehabilitation of the millions of blind persons does not loom too large or important in the face of famine, malnutrition and disease of the general population. The dawn, however, is breaking. Interest in blind welfare is slowly and surely growing. Willingness to experiment, and open-mindedness, is beginning to be evidenced. The young blind adult, the adolescent blind, and the blind children are the focus of interest. Not much can be done to improve the life of the older blind beggar. Resigned to receiving the largesse of his fellow men, his superiors because of their sight, he ekes out a bare subsistence for himself and his family. Hope for a new life, opportunity, work, acceptance, lies in the young blind. The governments are aware of this potential, but governments are slow to move. The way out to freedom, to equality, to opportunity is through education, and this fact they know.
The Malaya Federation of States is a bright spot where blind schools and rehabilitation centers are really functioning. The present enrollment is inadequate to meet the problem, but constructive efforts, planned programs, and trained leadership characterize the three blind schools and the two rehabilitation centers, all of them under whole or partial government supervision. The future holds in it the extension of both programs.
To by-pass the countries of Burma, Thailand, South Vietnam and the Philippines is admittedly unfair to these areas in which the odds are so much against a minority group such as the blind are, in spite of the noble but totally insufficient efforts in the field of rehabilitation and education. Where to begin is the one question. How much money the government can afford to spend on a program if any at all, is another; who is trained to conduct a suitable program, still another. In all fairness, be it said that all agree that the emancipation of blind persons from abject medievalism begins with the training and rehabilitation of the younger blind, and the education of blind children. To this end they are shaping their plans. We can help.
Rich, fertile, sparsely populated Australia and New Zealand have fascinating, well-developed programs for their comparatively few blind persons — about five thousand in all. The style is, of course, European. Organizations and agencies for the blind run parallel to but seem to outrun the organizations of the blind. The majority of children are in residential schools. Young blind persons are in workshops, sheltered centers doing subcontract work. Few are in open competitive industry. Physiotherapy is a coveted profession, for it necessitates residence in England and appropriate study there as a requirement for practice of the profession. By and large, the situation would be one of complete comfort, security, and of well-being were it not for the evidence of a growing desire, even urge, for more independence, for less complacency and more challenge, among the younger blind, many of whom have visited the United States and viewed the purposes, goals and activities of organizations of the blind.
By the time Fiji was reached, Oscar and partner were showing signs of fatigue, indifference to any more new experiences, and victims of a well-nigh depleted pocketbook. The luxury of Waikiki remained a dream--a dream quickly dispelled when contact was made with the blind folks in Oahu, building their successful vending stand businesses in the Post Office, at the airport, in the Judiciary Building, attending their meetings, participating in their discussions regarding welfare, placement, and coming legislation, to hear murmurs of affiliation with Federation, and finally to see both goals come all but accomplished--Statehood, and Federation affiliation.
Oscar, when do we go again?
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By Dr. Isabelle L. D. Grant
Mr. P. was appointed to the position of resource teacher for blind children in the public school. The appointment was confirmed by long distance telephone. "You'd better call back and tell them you are blind," suggested his wife. "It never occurred to me, " said he, "but perhaps I'd better." The answer came from the school authorities, "Yes, it might make a difference. You will be notified in due time." The following day brought the news. "If we on the Board see fit to educate our blind children with faith in their potential and in their future, we have faith in you as a teacher. We employ you on your merits as a teacher, blind or sighted."
Miss G. was interviewed by the personnel director of a large metropolitan school district. She held an A.B. degree, and a well-recommended teaching credential from the state, with marks of "Very promising" in her recently completed practice teaching. The state had some years previously withdrawn its visual acuity requirement for the teaching credential, but the local district doggedly maintained its stereotyped assumption of correlation between teaching ability and visual acuity. Miss G.'s application was turned down. (The California Administrative Code, item 12104 states: "No person otherwise qualified shall be denied the right to receive credentials from the State Board of Education on the ground he is totally or partially blind.")
Miss W. , blinded at age forty-five, frequently referred to as a "master teacher" in her subject, now well-oriented in mobility, efficient in tactual reading and writing after a brief period in an orientation center for the blind, now wonders why a personnel division could have been so shortsighted in urging her resignation, when successful, experienced teachers are at a premium, and recruitment slow.
But fortunately for education and for society, all the blinded teachers have not been relegated to the human scrap-heap as happened to Miss W. Some personnel boards and hiring agencies have asked for "good teachers," not for "20-40 in the better eye after correction," as a condition for employment. They have asked for ability to teach, adequate preparation, understanding and love of children, and "personality." These criteria do not remain the monopoly of the sighted. In fact, the goodly number of blind teachers employed in the public schools throughout the country--25 of them at present in California--through their superior effort, desire to "make good," willingness to go the extra mile in line of duty, and dedication to the job, are making a real contribution to the program of general education.
Indeed, signs are evident of a unique contribution to the field through the particular adaptations of the blind person to his own living, made necessary by his own blindness. A concept of classroom discipline makes of the teacher not a policeman but a counselor, a friend who can be severe when necessary, in the interests of the pupil--a concept which puts the responsibility of behavior on the pupil as a member of his own team. The blind geometry teacher is no "this and that" teacher in his board work. Identities are specifically stated, not pointed at. Arithmetic ceases to be a paper-and-pencil discipline; percentages are much more fun when worked out "mentally." It is also interesting to know that reading need not be always visual; it can also be aural and tactual.
Sharing a firm conviction that good teaching is measured by ability to teach and not by visual acuity, two California teachers last December co-sponsored a conference on "Exchange of Ideas and Devices for Blind Teachers" at the Grant Elementary School, San Lorenzo School District, San Lorenzo, California. Miss Onvia Ticer, a highly successful fourth grade teacher in the Grant School, carries on her work with her sighted class of some 35 children. For the last 12 years the other conference sponsor, Dr. Isabelle Grant, has been a resource teacher for blind children at the junior and senior high school levels in the city schools of Los Angeles.
Fifteen blind teachers employed throughout the state, and 15 blind teachers-in-training, together with a group of observers, participated in the conference with the counsel and assistance of Dr. Charles Lee, Assistant Superintendent of the San Lorenzo School District, and Mr. Omer Weston, Principal of the Grant Elementary School in San Lorenzo.
Miss Ticer led the discussion of the morning session's topic, "The Blind Teacher with the Sighted Class. " Since many of the participants had themselves been sighted during the previous part of their career, the consensus of the group was that there was an essential similarity in procedures. Classroom management was analyzed, and where necessary adaptations were suggested. Pupil discipline was interpreted as "discipline from within"--self-discipline--with a team approach involving pupil, teacher, peers, and parents, as the situation demanded--the pupil being held responsible for his cooperation with the group. Careful planning of all activities was the key to the smooth running of the classroom, and to the progress of the pupil. Clerical duties involving attendance, records, grading, report cards, home and office notes offered no problem. Chalk-board demonstrations demonstrated the use of some simple but ingenious devices, as did the giving of tests, both subject and standardized types. Playground activities were shown to call for detailed planning, variety of activities, and above all, an ability to identify in each child his abilities, attitudes, nature and disposition. In short, it was emphasized that the elements of good teaching are the same for the blind teacher as for the sighted one.
The topic of the afternoon discussion session, led by Dr. Grant, was "The Blind Teacher in the Resource Room." In order to qualify for a position as a resource teacher in California, it was pointed out, the instructor must have a special credential for the teaching of the visually handicapped, over and above his regular teaching credential. In the integrated program of education for blind children in the public schools, the resource teacher assists, teaches and counsels the blind pupil as the pupil takes his place in the regular classroom in open competition with his sighted peers. Ideas and devices in classroom management, clerical work obligations, discipline, and general procedures were said to be the same as in the regular classroom. Detection of mannerisms was discussed, as were mobility and orientation (though it was emphasized that the conference was not intended to be one on "Methods" which belong in teacher training. ) The distinctive contribution of the blind resource teacher in his particular situation with blind children, by his example and precept--as well as by his personal experience and knowledge of the social, psychological, vocational and educational implications of blindness--received the attention of the group. Teacher competence of the highest order was the desired standard.
Present hesitancy on the part of personnel directors in teacher placement stemmed, in the opinion of the conference group, from unwillingness to break with tradition and to consider the problem of placement of blind teachers on its merits. Some administrators, it was thought, feared a liability involvement in case of accident, a consideration which offered little justification in face of the fact that the blindness of the teacher and not negligence would have to be proved to be contributory to the accident.
A list of recommendations was drawn up for further study, among which are the following:
1. That boards of education or personnel directors be encouraged to continue in service, following a period of rehabilitation and orientation, those teachers who have lost their sight.
2. That boards of education and personnel directors be encouraged to hire duly qualified blind teachers, and be urged also to observe these young teachers particularly in practice teaching.
3. That research be conducted on possible legal problems in the employment of blind teachers.
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The Blind Professional Association of America, Inc. , was declared dissolved early this year following a poll of its members which offered the alternatives of disbandment or merger of the group with the National Federation of the Blind.
In an announcement dated February 5, Blind Professionals' President Carl Weiss revealed that of 25 respondents to the poll 13 had favored dissolution while 11 voted for integration with the N. F. B. He stated that funds remaining in the Association's treasury would be donated to Recordings for the Blind, Inc., of New York City.
New Threat to Vending Stands: Under the headline, "GSA Ruling Hits Blind Vendor," the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin recently gave prominent attention to the asserted policy of the General Services Administration in favor of removing blind-operated vending stands from the lobbies of federal buildings and confining them to rooms away from the public view. The newspaper account declared in part:
"Uncle Sam can do the darndest things!
"Like putting a small businessman right smack dab in the middle of a recession he wasn't in.
"Lon Sumner, 32, blind since birth, has operated the vending stand in the San Francisco Post Office, 7th and Mission Sts., for nearly four years.
"But the General Services Administration has caused a drop in Lon's business of 27 pet, as compared with an identical period last year. . . .
"His stand looked like hell in the corridor," explained Ray M. McNairy, chief of the Government's Building Management Division here.
"And it's also a policy of GSA. . . has been for years. . . to get stands, some of which are unsightly and a mess, out of corridors of public buildings and into rooms. . .
"Lon's is about the last stand of the blind vendors, who operate under the State Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, to get moved out of a Federal building corridor. Practically all are in rooms throughout the city's government buildings. ..."
Dr. T. Munford Boyd, member of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind and member-at-large of the Virginia Federation of the Blind, has obtained a leave of absence from his law professorship at the University of Virginia in order to run as a Democratic candidate for the office of Attorney General of Virginia, according to the "V. F. B. Newsletter" (published by the Virginia Federation). Dr. Boyd is no newcomer to politics; during World War II, he served in Washington on the legal staffs of the National Defense Advisory Committee, the Industrial Materials Division, the Office of Production Management and the War Production Board.
Politics at the Grass Roots: A true story with a very important (and practical) moral was related recently in a letter to Dr. Jacobus tenBroek from William S. Dwyer, head of New York's Tri-City Council of the Blind (an affiliate of the Empire State Association of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind). Here are excerpts:
"A lifelong friend of mine faced the prospect of being removed from his job on the New York Thruway. Jim Stephens worked for five years in the machine room of the Thruway Authority. Most of his time was spent operating an electronic computer. They were cutting back on the help, and two fellows with one year's service apiece had seniority on Jim because they are both veterans. Jim is a member of our chapter and being totally blind would have found it difficult if not impossible to transfer to another job if he was removed from his present one. . . .
"Being a resident of Rensselaer County, I induced our local Senator Berkowitz, who is chairman of the Civil Service Committee, to introduce our bill in the State Senate. Douglas Hudson, Assemblyman from Rensselaer County, introduced the bill in the Assembly."
The bill provides: "In Civil Service, any suspension or de-motion shall be made in the following order: 1) non-veterans; 2) non-disabled veterans; 3) disabled veterans and blind non-veterans; and any such suspension or demotion shall, in each such category, be made in the inverse order of the date of original appointment in the service."
"After the bills were introduced, I circulated throughout the state copies of a circular entitled, 'We Need Your Help' (I stole that from J. F. K.). We bombarded the two houses until they passed it. Then we did the same with a similar circular to get the governor to sign it, which he did. This is now Chapter 532, Laws of New York State. ... It is going to be a definite benefit to three fellows holding civil service jobs in this area.
"Without the National Federation of the Blind not one of us would have even guessed that we could fight for our rights or cause the law to be changed when it conflicted with our rights of self-sustenance."
The Iowa Association of the Blind will hold its annual state convention in Vinton from June 2 to June 4, according to word from President William Klontz. Featured speakers will include Kenneth Jernigan, director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, and John Nagle, Washington office chief of the National Federation of the Blind.
The Blind Child: Some notable additions have recently been made to the growing literature of professional and scientific information on the needs of blind children. "A Guide for Parents of a Pre-School Blind Child," an illustrated brochure, complete with bibliography and references, is available from the New York State Department of Social Welfare, State Commission for the Blind, 270 Broadway, New York, New York. . . . Also from New York is The Challenge of Educating the Blind Children in the Regular Classroom, an illustrated booklet describing in detail the operation and values of the integrated school program, published by the New York State Department of Education, Bureau for Handicapped Children. . . .
The University of Kansas' Bureau of Child Research has prepared Our Visually Handicapped Children, a pamphlet concerned with both blind and partially sighted children and dealing, among other things, with the issue of residential and integrated school programs. . . . "The Development Needs of Blind Children," by Jeanne R. Kenmore, appeared in the December 1960 issue of Exceptional Children. . . . Special Education of Physically Handicapped Children in Wes tern Europe, by Wallace and Isabelle Taylor, is a comprehensive study of pertinent education programs in 21 European countries; published by The International Society for the Welfare of Cripples, New York, 1960.
Joseph C. Cobb, president of the Maine Council of the Blind, died on February 22 at his home in Augusta, Maine. His death was the second blow suffered by the organized blind of Maine, who had lost their founder and president, Frank Baker, less than a year before. The new president of the Council is C. R. Gardiner of Waterville, who was formerly vice-president and delegate to the 1960 convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
Franklin DeRosa, member of the Rhode Island Federation of the Blind, died at his home in Warwick, Rhode Island on March 31 at the age of 34. Both he and his wife, Margaret, also blind, were graduates of the Brooklyn Lighthouse Institute.
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Dr. Isabelle L. D. Grant, a double contributor to our present publication ("Around the World with Oscar 111" and "New Frontiers in the Classroom"), is a veteran teacher and administrator in the Los Angeles public school system. Formerly a vice-principal, Dr. Grant became a teacher of integrated classes after losing her sight. On sabbatical leave in 1959, she embarked upon a year-long globe-circling tour accompanied only by her faithful companion, "Oscar" (see within). Dr. Grant is a member of the board of directors of the American Brotherhood for the Blind and also a member of the board of the National Federation of the Blind.
Dr. Jacobus tenBroek is the president of the National Federation of the Blind as well as the president of the American Brotherhood for the Blind. He has served since 1950 as a member of the California State Board of Social Welfare and became its chairman last year. Professor tenBroek is also chairman of his department at the University of California, Berkeley, and has authored numerous books and monographs in the fields of public welfare and constitutional law.
(Not printed at Government expense)
“Congressional Record United States of America"
PROCEEDINGS AND DEVATES OF THE 87TH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION
Newel Perry: Teacher of Youth and Leader of Men — Speech in Honor of Blind Leader
EXTENSION OF REMARKS OF HON. JEFFERY COHELAN OF CALIFORNIA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Wednesday, April 12, 1961
Mr. COHELAN. Mr. Speaker, on February 10, 1961, Dr. Newel Perry died in Berkeley, Calif., at the age of 87. He was thus full of years, and his years were full of accomplishment.
During most of his long life Dr. Perry lived and carried on his work in Berkeley. His career was that of a pioneer in the fields of public welfare and education of the blind. He was founder and first president of the California Council for the Blind. He was for 35 years director of advanced studies at the California School for the Blind in Berkeley. It was through his inspiration and leadership that the blind people of my State came to be welded into an organized democratic movement to improve their status and condition.
On March 25, 1961, a memorial convocation was held at the School for the Blind in Berkeley in honor of Dr. Perry. The main address was delivered by another noted Berkeleyan and leader of the blind, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, president of the National Federation of the Blind, chairman of the California Board of Social Welfare, and chairman of the Speech Department of the University of California. I believe that Dr. tenBroek's moving address deserves the attention of Members of Congress and of all citizens concerned with welfare and the public good.
The article follows:
Newel Perry: Teacher of Youth and Leader of Men
(Address by Prof. Jacobus tenBroek at a Memorial Convocation for Dr. Newel Perry at the California School for the Blind, Berkeley, March 25, 1961)
I come before you today — indeed we are all gathered here — to discharge a public duty and to honor a private debt. Newel Perry was a public figure. To us, he was also a personal friend. We can appraise his public contribution. We can only acknowledge our private obligation and personal attachment. We can detail his public record, define his influential role, itemize his accomplishments, recount his deeds, enumerate his statutes, specify his doctrines, disentangle the elements of his social philosophy, identify the general and the institutional fruits of his life's work, analyze and psychoanalyze the personality traits that made him a leader. Upon the life we shared, we can only dwell in memory, sifting through the loose meshes of the mind the hours, the days, the nights, the months, the years of our common experience; the fears, the travails, the aspirations, the laughter that were ours together.
We were his students, his family, his intimates, his comrades on a thousand battlefronts of a social movement. We slept in his house, ate at his table, learned geometry at his desk, walked the streets interminably by his side, moved forward on the strength of his optimism and confidence.
The boundless devotion to him of his wife Lillie (to whom he was married from 1912 until her death in 1935) spilled over onto us to balm our institution-starved spirits, to lighten with gentle affection the bewilderment of our eccentricity and the unnatural confinement of our segregation. Upon a later generation of us, after the death of Lillie the same bounty was conferred in her turn by his sister Emma Burnham, who lived with Doctor during the last 21 years of his life.
As a forward youngster of 12, who made so bold as to address him as "Doc," I was once thrown out of a class by Doctor with such a lecture as still rings in my ears. As a somewhat older youngster, still forward but now also bored by the slow pace and the unimaginative techniques of high school, I was expelled by him altogether for incorrigible recalcitrance. Eventually, despite these unpromising beginnings, I did graduate from high school. With plenty of ambition but no money, I prepared to enter the university. At that point I was denied State aid to the blind, a program then newly instituted as a result of Doctor's efforts in sponsoring a constitutional amendment and a comprehensive statute. The reason was not that my need was not great. It was that I intended to pursue a higher education while I was being supported by the State. That was too much for the administrative officials. Almost without discussion, Doctor immediately filled the gap. Just as Warring Wilkinson had earlier done for him, he supplied me with tuition and living expenses out of his own pocket for a semester while we all fought to reverse the decision of the State aid officials.
It was ever thus with Doctor. The key to his great influence with blind students was, first of all, the fact that he was blind and therefore understood their problems; and second, that he believed in them and made his faith manifest. He provided the only sure foundation of true rapport: knowledge on our part that he was genuinely interested in our welfare.
Aside from these immediate personal benefactions, there were three habits of life — one might almost say three elements of personality — which I formed out of his teaching and example when I was an adolescent in his charge. First, an attitude toward my blindness, a conception that it is basically unimportant in the important affairs of life. A physical nuisance, yes. A topic of unembarrassed conversation, a subject of loud questions by small children in the street as you pass, certainly, but not something which shapes one's nature, which determines his career, which affects his usefulness or happiness. Second, a basic assumption that sighted people generally have boundless good will toward the blind and an utterly false conception of the consequences of blindness. It is their misconception about its nature which creates the social and economic handicap of blindness. Third: public activity as a rule of life, a sense of responsibility to exert personal effort to improve the lot of others. While I was still a lad in my teens, I was attending meetings and doing work that Doctor assigned me in the blind movement. He was a social reformer. He made me one, too. Through participation with him, these attitudes and practices became habits of my life. So deeply instilled were they that they have remained ever after an almost automatic behavioral pattern — potent and often governing factors in my outlook and activity. Mature reflection in later years could only confirm through reason what his influence had so surely wrought in my youth.
It is altogether fitting that we should hold this memorial convocation at the California School for the Blind. It was here that Newel Perry came in 1883 as a 10-year-old boy — penniless, blind, his father dead, his home dissolved. Two years earlier, he had lost his sight and nearly his life as the result of a case of poison oak which caused his eyeballs to swell until they burst and which held him in a coma for a month. It was here at the school that Warring Wilkinson first met and took an interest in him, laying the basis for future years of intimate relationship and mutual endeavor. Warring Wilkinson was the first principal of the California State School for the Deaf and the Blind. He served in that capacity for 44 years, from 1865 to 1909. With his characteristic interest in his charges, he soon saw young Newel's full potentiality. He sent him from here to Berkeley High School to complete his secondary education. It was he who overcame the numerous obstacles to this arrangement, so fruitful in its understanding of education and of the needs of the blind. Newel continued to live here at the school while he attended the University of California from 1892 to 1896. Again admission had to be secured over strong resistance. Again Wilkinson was the path-finder; Newel his willing and anxious instrument. Wilkinson's role In Newel's life as a youth can hardly be overestimated: father, teacher, guide, supporter — in Newel's own words, "dear Governor."
As this institution was not only the school but the home of his boyhood and the foundation of his manhood, so 16 years later, in 1912, at the age of 39, Newel Perry returned here to take up his permanent career as a teacher. He remained in that post until 1947 — a third of a century. It was here that his life's work was accomplished. It was from this place as a base that he organized and conducted a movement for social reform. It was here that many of us first met him as his students. It was here that his impact upon us first made itself felt. It was here that our lifelong association with him began. How often in these halls have we heard his footsteps? How often In this chamber, his voice? The sound of those footsteps and that voice have now gone from the world as a physical reality. How often hereafter will they continue to sound in the halls and chambers of our lives?
In the years between departure from the school in 1896 and return to it in 1912, Newel Perry devoted himself to further education and to the search for an academic job. He took graduate work at the University of California, meanwhile serving successively as an unpaid teaching fellow, a paid assistant and finally as an instructor In the department of mathematics. In 1900, following a general custom of that day, he went to Europe to continue his studies. He did this for a time at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and then at the University of Munich in Germany. From the latter he secured the degree of doctor of philosophy in mathematics with highest honors in 1901. He lingered in Europe for a time traveling and writing an article on a mathematical topic which was published in a learned journal. He then returned to the United States in 1902, landing in New York where he was to remain until 1912. He had about $80 In capital, a first-class and highly specialized education, and all the physical, mental, and personal prerequisites for a productive career, save one, visual acuity.
During this period, he supported himself precariously as a private coach of university mathematics students. He applied himself, also, to the search for a university position. He had begun the process by mail from Europe even before he secured his Ph. D. He now continued the process on the ground in New York. He displayed the most relentless energy. He employed every imaginable technique. He wrote letters in profusion. In 1905, he wrote to 500 institutions of every size and character. He distributed his dissertation and published article. He haunted meetings of mathematicians. He visited his friends in the profession. He enlisted the aid of his teachers. He called on everybody and anybody having the remotest connection with his goal.
Everywhere, the outcome was the same. Only the form varied. Some expressed astonishment at what he had accomplished. Some expressed interest. One of these seemed genuine — he had a blind brother-in-law who, he said, was a whiz at math. Some showed indifference, now and then masked behind polite phrases. Some said there were no vacancies. Some said his application would be filed for future reference. One said for what — ironically, "as an encouragement to men who labor under dis advantages and who may learn from it how much may be accomplished through resolu tion and industry." Some averred that he probably could succeed in teaching at somebody else's college. Many said outright that they believed a blind man could not teach mathematics.
Many of these rejections were, of course, perfectly proper. Many were not. Their authors candidly gave the reason as blindness.
We know about this period of Newel Perry's life from reports of contemporaries or near contemporaries such as Hugh Buckingham, a student at the school from 1896 to 1900 during Doctor's absence, who has prepared a manuscript about Doctor's boy hood and youth. We know about it from what Doctor told many of us in later years. But we know about it in all its poignancy, desolation and bleakness, from Newel Perry's own intimate accounts written at the time to his old mentor and true friend, Warring Wilkinson. These accounts, with copies of many of the letters of rejection, have been preserved by the Wilkinson family through the intervening years. In the last 2 weeks, they have been opened to my inspection by Wilkinson's granddaughter, Florence Richardson Wyckoff, who is here with us today.
I have dwelt on this period and these experiences for several reasons. They reflect, they accurately portray, a phase of all of our lives as blind people. In fact, 35 years later. I personally received identical letters from many of these same institutions. It was almost as if a secretary had been set to copying Doctor's file, only changing the signa tures and the name of the addressee. Yet great progress has been made. Many of us are now teaching at colleges and universities around the country and filling many other jobs hitherto closed to us.
Doctor Perry's reaction to this decade of defeat and privation was remarkable. He did not break. He did not resign. He did not even become embittered. Discourage ment, frustration, a sense of wrong and in-justice, certainly these; but never collapse. He was not licked. We see in these bitter years of hunger and rejection the source of true knowledge about the real problems of the blind and an ineradicable determina tion to do something about them. Here was motivation to redirect public attitudes and actions toward the blind. To this was added the thrust of an active and restless disposition and the wit to perceive remedies and adapt them to the need.
Out of these elements of mind, personality, and experience were compounded the public career of Newel Perry; and out of these elements also were constructed the programs the initiation of which made that career publicly significant.
First of all, the distress of poverty must be relieved. The necessities of life must be available. The minimum essentials must be assured. So much in some way had been provided in the Anglo-American system for three centuries before Newel Perry faced near starvation and economic exclusion in New York City. The Elizabethan poor laws did it in one way. County direct relief, instituted in California in 1901, did it In another. The almshouse and the county hospital and poor farm did it in still other ways. At the very minimum, it had to be done better. It should be done by a system of cash grants, adequate in amount to maintain standards of decency and health, receiv able upon fixed and uniform standards of eligibility, made generally applicable by State participation and control, and expend- able by the recipient through a free exercise of self-management and consumption choice. To bring this about, however, prohibitions in the State constitution would have to be removed by the arduous process of a people's amendment, an organic statute would have to be lobbied through the State legislature, faithful administration would somehow have to be secured. Year by year and session by session into the indefinite future, the myriad minor corrections and major im provements made necessary by time and disclosed by experience would have to be worked through the legislature and the administration. And so indeed it came to pass in California.
Secondly, much more had to be done than merely relieve the distress of poverty. Sec
urity is a necessity. As an unmixed blessing, however, it is a stultifying concept. An indispensable ingredient of any welfare system is opportunity. One of the objects of
public aid must be to stimulate and enable people to become independent of it. Accordingly, their initiative must not be hemmed in. The means of productive activity
must not be withdrawn or denied. Independence of action and self-reliance must be
encouraged. Legal liability of relatives must be relaxed so as not to spread poverty, in
crease dependence and disrupt family life. Economic resources, reasonable amounts of real and personal property must be devotable to plans for self-support instead of being re
quired to be consumed in meeting daily needs. Incentive to earn must be constructed out of retention of the benefits of earning. And this too presently came to
pass in California. The new system took cognizance of the need of the blind for ad
justments on the social and psychological as well as the physical level. It permitted and
encouraged them to strive to render themselves self-supporting. It applied the dem
ocratic principle of individual dignity to an underprivileged class of American citizens.
It guaranteed them a fair measure of independence and self-respect in the conduct of
their lives. The California system, the Newel Perry system, was thus far in advance of its
time. It is still envied and emulated throughout the Nation.
Thirdly, the reintegration of the blind into society on a basis of full and equal member ship could only be achieved if they had a chance to earn their daily bread as others do in the community. Accordingly, action must be taken to eliminate restrictive barriers and legal discriminations. The main channels of opportunity must be swept clear of artificial and irrational obstructions. The public service, private employment, the common callings, the ordinary trades and occupations, the professions must be rescued from arbitrary exclusions based on blindness when blindness is not a factor bearing on competence and performance. Doctor was a prime mover in securing legal, constitutional and other provisions which protect the right of the blind to enter a number of professions; forbid arbitrary discriminations against us in the State civil service and in secondary teaching; enable blind college students to pursue their studies with the aid of sighted readers hired by the State; bring the blind in an ever-increasing stream into the colleges and universities of the State and thence into the higher callings.
These achievements — legal, social, economic and political — have been the fruits at once of Dr. Perry's leadership and of the collective self-organization of the blind which that leadership engendered. More than any other person, it was Doctor who implanted and nurtured among the blind of California the sense of common cause, the spirit of collaborative effort in seeking solutions to our problems. More than any other person, it was he who taught us that the blind can and must lead the blind and the sighted, too, when dealing with the problems of the blind. More than any other person, it was he who made us aware that to go on unorganized was to remain disorganized, that only through concerted action can the blind hope to convert and enlist the power of government and to defeat the thoughtless tyranny of public prejudice and opportune ignorance.
Newel Perry was a teacher: a teacher of subject matter and a teacher of men. He taught his specialty of mathematics and taught it very well indeed; but he taught his pupils even better. To be sure, not all the students who came his way during his 35 years on this campus were wholly inspired by him. His personality was vigorous and his standards rigorous. But for many of us who attended the school during those three and one-half decades it was Dr. Perry who furnished the impetus and incentive, the goad and the goal, that would light our later lives and nourish our careers. Our bond with him was not broken when our school-days ended. We went on to become his comrades and colleagues in the cause which was always his true vocation.
Newel Perry was, in short, both a teacher of youth and a leader of men. These two roles were not, however, quite separate. For the secret of his success in both of them lay in this: that his teaching was a kind of leadership, and his leadership a kind of teaching. In his pedagogical method as well as his social purpose Doctor was thoroughly Socratic. His classroom manner was essentially that of the platonic dialogue: dialectical. Inquiring, insistently logical, and incessantly prodding.
In this Socratic combination also lies, I think, the secret of Doctor's success as the leader of a social movement. Just as in the classroom he taught his students by leading them, so as the pioneer of the organized blind movement he led his followers by teaching them. His power, like that of all leaders, rested in the last analysis upon persuasion. His triumphs, however, were not the product of oratorical or literary skill, although he had a notable gift for trenchant and incisive phrasing, the epigrammatic thrust which distills the essence of a complex issue. His persuasive power was not that of the demagogy but of the pedagogy. And it was not only his followers who learned from him. He educated the blind people of the State to an awareness of their capabilities as individuals and of their powers as a group. He educated the legislators in the State capitol by dint of dogged, relentless, well-nigh incorrigible campaigns of persuasion carried on year after year and decade after decade. He educated the general public by his preachment and his example to regard the blind not in the traditional terms of charity and custody but in the realistic terms of normality and equality.
And most of all, in his role as leader, Newel Perry educated, indoctrinated, and persuaded a distinguished group of cohorts to join him in carrying on the struggle and carrying out its goals. Those whom Doctor gathered around him were other blind men and women, mostly former students, whose special talents and professional positions uniquely supplemented his.
Raymond Henderson: By profession an attorney, self-taught, by preoccupation a reformer, with poetry in his soul and literature in his stylus. Born in 1881, he attended this school from 1889 through high school and continued to live here until his graduation from the University of California in 1904. He practiced his profession in Bakersfield, Calif., from his admission to the bar until his death in 1945. Raymond came to the organized blind movement in his maturity from a long background of experience in other causes. He brought to it a notable array of personal abilities, a high degree of professional skill, a fine spirit of humanity, and the enrichment of wide and intensive activity.
Leslie Schlingheyde: also by profession an attorney, gentle and religious by disposition, practical rather than reflective in frame of mind, with a brilliant academic record and a liberal outlook. He was born in 1893, attended this school from 1906 to 1913, and thus came under Doctor's influence in the year of his graduation. He received a J.D. from the law school of the University of California in 1920 and from that time until his death in 1957 practiced his profession in Modesto, Calif., and served the blind movement all over the State.
It was Raymond Henderson and Leslie Schlingheyde who were primarily responsible for handling cases in court, for preparing innumerable legal briefs and arguments, for drafting projected bills and constitutional amendments, for continuous legal counsel during the insurgent and formative years. They were in a real sense the legal arm of the organized blind movement.
Ernest Crowley: again by profession an attorney but distinguished for his service in another arena. He kept a law office open in Fairfield-Suisun from the time of his graduation from the University of California Law School in 1923 until his death in 1952. To him, however, the law was only a necessary and not a particularly attractive means of earning a living. His law office was a cover for his real love and active life — the practice of politics. He was born in 1896 and attended this school from 1910 to 1916. He was thus under Doctor's tutelage as a student for 4 years. His significant contribution was made as a member of the State legislature from 1928 to 1952. It was he who introduced and skillfully maneuvered through to passage the memorable bills which are now the statutory landmarks of our movement. In a very real sense, he was the legislative spokesman and arm of the movement.
Perry Sundquist: social worker and public administrator by profession, bringing to his work a sympathetic personality, an unshakable faith in blind people and skillful management of administrative techniques and devices. He was born in 1904 and attended this school from 1918 to 1922. For exactly 20 years now he has been chief of the division for the blind in the State department of social welfare. During those two decades he has translated the principles of the organized blind movement into concrete administrative action, from legislative parchment into practical reality. Under his direction programs for the blind have multiplied and prospered, services have been expanded and their benefits spread. Most important of all, the working philosophy of the movement has been transformed into a working practice. In a very real sense, he has been the effective administrative arm of the movement.
Through the years this little band grew in numbers and evolved in formal structure. It formed the nucleus of the California Council for the Blind, which came into being in 1934 with Doctor Perry as its first president. For 19 productive years, until his retirement in 1953 at the age of 80, Doctor forged and shaped the council on the anvil of his own will into an instrument larger and more formidable but essentially similar to the informal group from which it originated.
Doctor's social vision in the field of blind welfare outdistanced his time and placed him in the advance guard of thought and planning. His liberality on these matters gains, rather than loses, in significance when it is placed alongside his broader attitudes toward politics and human affairs; for In matters unrelated to the blind. Doctor was fully an heir of the 19th century, conservative, even reactionary, by nature, often in- flexible and not without a touch of old-fashioned nationalist-imperialism. When it came to the cause to which he was most committed, he was far less a Victorian than a Utopian; less a standpatter than a restless progressive in search of new horizons.
How shall we sum up a man's life? How capture the essential quality of a human career? How convey the inward meaning, the imponderable and intangible qualities of will and heart and spirit? There are the vital statistics. But they are more statistical than vital. All that they can tell us of a man is that he was born, he lived, he loved, and he died. For Newel Perry we must amend the litany at least this much: he lived, and he brought new life to many; he loved, and he was beloved; he died, and he will not be forgotten.
On the day following the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Walter Lippmann wrote some words about him which might also stand as an epitaph to the leader and comrade whom we honor today: "The man must die in his appointed time. He must carry away with him the magic of his presence and that personal mastery of affairs which no man, however gifted by nature, can acquire except in the relentless struggle with evil and blind chance. Then comes the proof of whether his work will endure, and the test of how well he led his people. The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on."
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by Floyd W. Matson
The public welfare programs of Nevada, long recognized as among the best-conceived and best-administered in the nation, have survived a series of critical attacks aimed at removing the state welfare director and drastically curtailing the scope and effectiveness of services to the blind.
Largely as a result of alert action by the Nevada Federation of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind, the long-sustained threats to the state's existing welfare programs were completely smothered in the 1961 session of the state legislature.
Despite earlier predictions not one bill altering or curtailing services to the blind was introduced in either legislative chamber--while all budget recommendations of the Bureau of Services to the Blind were unanimously adopted in the Senate and House. Moreover, both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee issued firm expressions of confidence regarding the welfare programs and their administration.
At the same time, efforts to remove Mrs. Barbara Coughlan from her position as state welfare director were effectively turned back by a June ruling of the state's attorney general holding legislation for this purpose to be invalid on constitutional and other grounds.
The threats to Nevada's blind-aid services took shape late last fall through publication of a study by the Legislative Counsel Bureau which attacked existing services to the blind and recommended their absorption within a general agency for the handicapped. The bureau report also challenged the qualifications of the state welfare director and called for her removal.
Shortly after the release of this attack the organized blind of the state, acting through the Nevada Federation as well as the National Federation of the Blind, prepared and distributed a detailed analysis and criticism of the bureau's report, which declared in part:
"We, the blind men and women of Nevada, hope the Report and recommendations of the Legislative Counsel Bureau regarding the blind programs will be rejected. We want to keep our programs and improve them--not undermine and destroy them. . .
"The Bureau proposes changes which would seriously undermine the existing programs and hinder their future development along sound lines. The Report is founded upon an inadequate evaluation. It contains many errors of fact. Its legal interpretations are strained and faulty. Above all, it is based upon a lack of understanding of the needs and problems of the blind."
During December. Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, president of the NFB, together with leaders of the Nevada Federation, broadly publicized the views of the organized blind at a Reno news conference and on state-wide television as well as through regular press channels. Following the opening of the 1961 legislative session a substantial delegation of Nevada Federationists appeared at the state capitol to press their case directly.
Although this quick and concerted action of the state and national blind groups succeeded in forestalling any legislation aimed at the reduction of blind-aid programs, a bill was introduced and passed by both houses to remove the position of state welfare director from the personnel code and make it directly appointive by the governor. The measure if put into effect would have vacated on July 1 the office which has been held by Mrs. Coughlan since 1949.
The subsequent opinion of the state attorney general, requested by Governor Grant Sawyer following his signing of the bill, advised that the act could not be enforced "with retrospective effect to divest and deprive the incumbent Director of the State Welfare Department of the status and right to tenure possessed by her equally and to the same extent as all other State employees in the classified service, under applicable provisions of the Personnel Act. Any such retrospective application would be violative of 'due process' requirements under both United States and Nevada Constitution.
"It is, therefore, our considered opinion that the Act does not automatically and legally create any vacancy in the position of Director. . . nor is said Act effective, in any manner whatsoever, legally to 'impair' and 'diminish' such status and rights which the incumbent in said position possesses."
The attorney general's opinion also called attention to "the serious policy considerations involved in any 'whittling away' of the State's merit system, even on the part of the Legislature itself, by such means as that provided" in the newly enacted measure.
As a consequence of this vigorous opinion of the attorney general, Governor Sawyer has since indicated that he intends taking no further action with regard to the welfare directorship.
Thus the blind people of Nevada and their representatives in the state legislature have won a significant victory in the battle to preserve the state's model programs of welfare and rehabilitation. The importance of their triumph has been well-described in the concluding words of the Nevada Federation's reply to the report of the Legislative Counsel Bureau:
"It is true that even modern medical science can restore sight to only a very few blind persons, but sound laws wisely administered can help many sightless men and women to recover from blindness. This is what is happening in the State of Nevada today--and it should continue for the many tomorrows to come.
"Because Nevada is in the forefront in its aid and services to its blind citizens, what happens to this state's sightless also happens, in a very real sense, to all of the blind of our country.”
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by Lawrence Marcelino
The white cane--that famous symbol of mobility and legal equality on the part of the blind person--has found all but universal acceptance in public opinion and the laws of the land since its introduction a generation ago.
Today there are White Cane Laws on the books of 50 states and Puerto Rico. Nearly everywhere, as Dr. Jacobus tenBroek points out in his address reprinted below, the manifold values of this distinctive walking-stick—physical, psychological, functional, legal and symbolic--have come to be recognized, endorsed and established.
Nearly everywhere, that is, except in a few welfare agency circles--most notably and persistently, the American Foundation for the Blind.
In two separate articles appearing in the May, 1961 issue of its official journal, The New Outlook for the Blind, the AFB has systematically turned its guns upon the white cane, along with supporting legislation and programs of public education.
The first article, "Some Thoughts on White Cane Philosophy and Problems " is written by AFB staff members Carl T. Rodgers and Arthur L. Voorhees. The second appears in the form of a regular column, "Editorially Speaking, " under the byline of the New Outlook's managing editor, Howard M. Liechty.
In their scatter-gun attack upon every aspect of the white-cane movement, the authors of both articles fire freely from all directions--often trapping each other in the crossfire. Thus the white cane is condemned as under-visible and hence unsafe (Rodgers and Voorhees), and also as excessively conspicuous and hence "gratuitous" (Liechty). Again, on one hand the white cane is deprecated as a symbol of dependency and helplessness; on the other hand its users are cautioned not to entertain misguided notions of their travel independence but instead to rely upon "necessary and dependable assistance. . .from sighted fellow-pedestrians." (In the latter case the self-reliant right hand appears not to know what the custodial left hand is doing.)
Despite this seeming disregard of logical consistency or coherence, the writers of the two articles plainly share a common denominator. Both give major emphasis to the allegation that the white cane, its laws and its philosophy serve to intensify "an objectionable public image of blindness" (Liechty) by focusing upon "disabling and limiting factors" rather than upon "positive human values such as development of self-reliance, individual resourcefulness, ability to move from place to place at will, and the like" (Rodgers and Voorhees).
This is, of course, on its face an astonishing accusation to make against the white cane and its laws. Few aids or services yet devised for blind persons have accomplished as much to develop the qualities of self-reliance, resourcefulness, and (most obviously of all) "ability to move from place to place at will." The details of the truly remark able advance in legal equality, physical mobility and personal independence represented by the white-cane movement are graphically set forth in Dr. tenBroek's address, and need not be recapitulated here. It is sufficient to note that, in wiping out the automatic presumption of contributory negligence which once haunted the blind pedestrian, the White Cane Laws have gone far to erase the ancient stereotype of the blind person as incapable of self-navigation and self- management.
The curiously illogical (and curiously familiar) reasoning behind this frontal attack upon the White Cane Laws merits closer examination. Briefly, it is the argument that any program or service which draws attention to the "disabling and limiting factors of blindness" thereby necessarily reinforces the stereotype of the helpless blind. Since the white cane appears to call attention to such limiting factors, it is to be opposed and condemned as "a social disservice to persons who ate blind."
To appreciate the fallacy of this argument it is necessary only to reflect that all aids and services specifically addressed to blind people are, of course, "predicated on the handicaps and limitations resulting from loss of sight" (Rodgers and Voorhees). The test of any such service is not whether it is "predicated" on the limitations of blindness but whether it assists the blind individual to cope with and overcome them. The device of Braille, by the AFB's reasoning, must seem at least as great a "social disservice" as the white cane; its employment is a conspicuous symbol of the handicaps and limitations of loss of sight. Would the AFB then advocate the razing of the American Printing House for the Blind?
By the same token, such obvious reminders of the limitations of blindness as talking books, dark glasses, guide dogs, reader services, orientation and adjustment programs, even doctors who specialize in diseases of the eye--all are equally disservices to be deprecated and discontinued. Finally, if the American Foundation and the New Outlook are not compelled by their own logic to go out of business, surely they must at a minimum drastically overhaul their nomenclature. For what could be more in opposition to "the ideal of obliterating all public images of 'the blind 1" (Rodgers and Voorhees) than the titles "American Foundation for the Blind" and "New Outlook for the Blind"?
In their curious and persistent attempt to reject all generalizations about blindness and any classification of "the blind" whatsoever on the basis of common needs--an attitude which has led the AFB to attack legislation protecting the right of blind people to organize--these spokesmen seem clearly prepared to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Blindness does in point of fact entail "disabling and limiting factors" which cannot be swept under the rug. Accordingly there is positive need for enlightened programs and provisions which frankly confront their deprivation and seek to offset it by maximizing opportunities, equalizing conditions, and correcting misconceptions which block the path of the blind toward independence and integration.
Such a program is embodied in the white cane and White Cane Laws. It is earnestly to be hoped that the American Foundation for the Blind will reconsider its opposition and no longer remain a stumbling-block to the blind pedestrian.
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An Address by Professor Jacobus tenBroek
President, American Brotherhood for the Blind
Nearly a century ago, in a case that has become a landmark, the chief justice of a New York Court wrote as follows:
The streets and sidewalks are for the benefit of all conditions of people, and all have the right, in using them, to assume that they are in good condition, and to regulate their conduct upon that assumption. A person may walk or drive in the darkness of the night, relying upon the belief that the corporation has performed its duty and that the street or the walk is in a safe condition. He walks by a faith justified by law, and if his faith is unfounded, and he suffers an injury, the party in fault must respond in damages. So, one whose sight is dimmed by age, or a near-sighted person whose range of vision was always imperfect, or one whose sight has been injured by disease, is each entitled to the same rights, and may act upon the same assumption. Each is, however, bound to know that prudence and care in turn are required of him, and that, if he fails in this respect, any injury he may suffer is without redress. The blind have means of protection and sources of knowledge of which all are not aware.
This resounding opinion is notable today for two oddly different reasons. On the one side it stands as a monumental expression of the modern view that the infirm and the disabled have a right, like any others, freely to travel the public streets and sidewalks. On the other side it is a rather startling revelation of that pervasive prejudice of earlier times that the sightless are different from others not just in degree but in kind -- different even from those whose vision is "imperfect" or "injured." It must have been a comforting thought in those not-so-innocent days of charity -- a thought not unlike that of the "nobility of poverty"-- that the blind were gifted by a kindly Providence with wondrous powers which somehow magically balanced the ledger and made it unnecessary to be greatly concerned about their welfare.
But while this curious residue of unconscious prejudice blurs its message, the real significance of this judicial opinion lies in its straightforward rejection of an age-old discrimination against the visually handicapped. This was the assumption that the blind man's place is in the home or in the asylum, that he takes to the streets and public places at his own risk and peril, and that -- in the common legal parlance of the day before yesterday--he is automatically guilty of contributory negligence in any accident involving travel.
In effect, it was held by the courts that the blind were not only sight-less but legally without legs to stand on. If they could not see, then they should not attempt to walk. In the eyes of the law, they were immobilized. Their right to be in public places, often conceded as a matter of doctrine, was stillborn.
That was not only the case a century ago; it was also very generally the case, despite the judicial opinion quoted above, as recently as a generation ago. It was exactly 30 years ago, in 1930, that the first legislative step was taken to free the blind from the rocking-chair in which the law still kept them shackled. For while the New York jurist of 1867 had granted the blind the right to walk abroad with the expectation that the streets and sidewalks would be kept in shape, nothing had been done since the advent of the automobile to enable the blind to leave those sidewalks and to cross those streets. It was expressly to provide a new right to be abroad in the new conditions of modern motorized traffic, that the white cane was inaugurated as a travel aid for the blind. This year we are celebrating, not only the 30th anniversary of that first step onto the highway, but the virtual completion of the campaign which it inaugurated. Today White Cane Laws are on the books of every state in the Union -- and for the first time in modern history, everywhere in the land, the blind person truly "walks by a faith justified by law." The great and unique achievement of the White Cane Laws has been virtually to wipe out the automatic assumption of contributory negligence on the part of the blind pedestrian, and so to afford him a legal status in traffic, a protection not hitherto conferred.
The white cane is therefore a symbol of equality -- and still more clearly a sign of mobility. Nothing characterizes our streamlined modern civilization so much as its atmosphere of rapid transit and jet propulsion. More than ever, in urbanized and automobilized America, the race is to the swift -- until it almost seems that even the pursuit of happiness takes place on wheels. In the routines of daily living, as at a deeper social level, the keynote of our way of life is mobility: the capacity to get around, to move at a normal pace in step with the passing parade. In this race, until very recently, the blind were clearly lagging and falling ever farther behind. In terms of their physical mobility, as in the broader terms of economic and social mobility, this lag was long regarded as the permanent and inescapable handicap of blindness. But today the blind of America are catching up. Just as they are gaining social and economic mobility through the expansion of vocational horizons, so they are achieving a new freedom of physical mobility through the expansion of legal opportunities centering around the White Cane Laws.
For blind people everywhere, the white cane is not a badge of difference -- but a token of their equality and integration. For those who know its history and associations, the white cane is also something more: it is the tangible expression not only of mobility, but of a movement. It is indeed peculiarly appropriate that the organized movement of the National Federation of the Blind should have as its hallmark this symbol of the white cane. Nor does this take away in any degree from the vital and continuing contributions to the White Cane Laws of the Lions clubs of America. The Lions have been, and are, staunch allies in the movement of the blind and companions on the march which began a generation ago. During the decade following the introduction of the white cane, statewide organizations of the blind began to emerge in numbers across the country, in the first wave of a movement which was climaxed by the founding of the National Federation in 1940. Through the adoption of the White Cane Laws, the blind have gained the legal right to travel, the right of physical mobility. And at the same time, through the organization of their own national and state associations, the blind have gained the social right of movement and the rights of a social movement.
This is a striking parallel, and an instructive one. For the right to move about dependently within the states, which the White Cane Laws have steadily won for the blind in the courts, is intimately bound up with the right of free movement across state boundaries, which the organized blind are steadily achieving through the reduction or outright abolishment of the residence requirements governing state programs of Aid to the Blind. In short, it is no empty phrase of rhetoric to say that the blind are "on the move." Thanks to the White Cane Laws, they now move freely and confidently not just on the sidewalks but across the streets. Thanks to the legislative reforms instigated by the Federation, they are moving also more freely than ever from state to state, as need and opportunity dictate; they are moving upward, into new careers and callings; and they are moving forward, into the main channels and thoroughfares of community life. The blind of America walk by a faith ever more justified by law. . . .
I have said that the White Cane Laws enhance the freedom and confidence of the blind person by affording him a status of legal equality. But it is not, of course, the laws alone but the white cane itself which contributes to his confidence and self-sufficiency. This distinctive cane is several things at once: It is a tangible assist to the blind person in making his way; it is a visual signal to the sighted of the user's condition; and it is a symbol for all of a legal status and protection. Let us immediately concede, however, that the white cane is no magic wand or dowsing-rod, no substitute for sight and no guarantee of immunity against disaster. The cane cannot read signs or distinguish lights; it cannot traverse all areas immediately ahead and above, and even where it does it cannot make judgments for its user. In short, it is only a cane -- not a brain. And finally it is, of course, not always and universally recognized by the sighted as the legal device of a blind person although such recognition is already wide and rapidly increasing.
Despite all these necessary and obvious reservations, it is or should be indisputable that the white cane is an extremely effective aid to blind people in their daily movements. In fact, however, this conclusion is still disputed -- and not by the sighted only but even by a few who are blind. No less a personage than General Melvin Maas, president of the Blinded Veterans Association and head of the National Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped, has now seen fit to speak out sweepingly against the white cane and all its works -- including the White Cane Laws and the whole principle of White Cane Week. The white cane, says the general, is utterly valueless as a signaling device unless it is "elevated at least to the horizontal level," which "would present a real hazard to oncoming pedestrians." Apparently General Maas is suggesting that the blind person must point his cane horizontally ahead of him like a swordsman; what the laws provide, in terms of elevation, is rather that the cane be vertically raised and extended as far as arm's length. Again, according to the general, "the cane would need to be of such size and shape as to be readily discernible by drivers of vehicles." But this is surely no objection; obviously the cane ought to be as visible as possible consistent with its portability and convenience. General Maas indeed goes so far in his opposition as to argue that "many cane users do not now use white canes, but use collapsible metallic ones." What he does not say is that there is nothing about collapsible metal canes which prevents them from being colored white (like that which I am carrying today). Finally, the general "clinches" his case with the contention that "the volume and speed of traffic now makes dependence on the cane most hazardous." There is no doubt, certainly, that traffic hazards are greater today, for everyone, than ever before. But what is the inference? Should the blind then retreat once more to the rocking-chair and never venture forth? This is, to be sure, a viewpoint not yet dead among us; as witness the opinion of a Milwaukee district judge, just two years ago, that blind people should stay at home because they only endanger traffic by moving around by themselves. Would General Maas subscribe to that retrogressive doctrine? If, on the other hand; the blind are to be permitted to retain their hard-won right of independent travel, should they now be stripped of the paramount aid and legal protection they have gained?
There are two different questions to be settled here: one of fact and the other of right. The factual question is simply whether the white cane and White Cane Laws are, or are not, a genuine help to blind pedestrians and sighted motorists. On this score the evidence is clear and overwhelming. When, for example, the New York legislature was considering enactment of a state White Cane Law a few years ago, a questionnaire on the merits of the proposal was dispatched to several hundred chiefs of police, attorneys-general and safety officers in other states. A very high proportion took the trouble to answer, and the verdict was that White Cane Laws, when properly publicized and administered, are a definite and powerful help to blind and sighted alike. No one, of course, proposed them as a substitute for prudence and common sense on either side; but all agreed that in the presence of ordinary caution and the service of judgment the white cane is unmistakably a good thing.
Some of the efforts to improve the usefulness and efficiency of the white cane, and to define its proper handling, are fascinating (if not always edifying) to recount.
A Milwaukee city attorney, for example, has proposed that all white canes should fly a flag in traffic -- whether at full or half-mast is not revealed. A still more colorful suggestion has been made by a policeman who investigated the most recent traffic death involving a white cane. The carrier, he said, should be enabled upon entering traffic to press a button releasing a set of dangles, whose glitter would presumably attract the eye of the most inattentive motorist; when not in use, the dangles would politely recede into the shell of the cane. Still others have suggested that the white cane ought properly to be at least one and one-half inches thick to improve its visibility--a suggestion which will, no doubt, be happily received by all sightless weight-lifters.
Meanwhile legal minds have labored long and hard over the meaning of the term "raised or extended position" set forth as a requirement by the White Cane Laws of most states. Does "raised" mean, as one city attorney has proclaimed, "pointing upwards"? Does "extended" mean, as General Maas appears to suggest, pointing forward? And does the requirement involve both raising and extending the cane, simultaneously or alternately, in the manner of a drum-major? (If the cane in these circumstances also flies a flag and trails dangles, nearly all the elements of a one-man parade would appear to be present.)
There has been no less argument concerning the sanctions most profitably to be included in the White Cane Laws. Some states impose only civil sanctions, thus making it easier to secure the conviction of sighted offenders. Others make allowance for penal sanctions, including jail sentences; but this approach, while apparently more effective, automatically grants to defendants all the protections of criminal law, and by its very severity renders juries reluctant to bring in convictions against negligent drivers. Then, too, there is the question of the right-of-way to be accorded the blind user of a white cane. In at least one state his rights would appear to be virtually unlimited -- even by such normal barriers as traffic signals. Illinois provides that "Any blind person who is carrying in a raised or ex tended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red, or who is being guided by a dog, shall have the right of way in crossing any street or highway, whether or not traffic on such street or highway is controlled by traffic signals. The driver of every vehicle approaching the place where a blind person, so carrying such a cane or walking stick or being so guided, is crossing a street or highway shall bring his vehicle to a full stop and proceeding shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injury to the blind person."
At least six other states impose the full-stop requirement universally insisting that non-blind pedestrians, as well as drivers, must heed the approach of a blind white caner and come to a stop when approaching or coming into contact with him. Such provisions as these would seem to make the blind pedestrian virtually all-conquering.
It should be clear that the legal symbol and physical helpmate of the white cane has not magically solved all the ambulatory problems of the blind. It cannot at a gesture convert a crazed motorist into a sane one; it cannot make the sea of traffic part at its command; above all, it cannot absolve the blind pedestrian from his civilized responsibility to move with prudence and ordinary caution: to speak politely, while carrying a big stick. Let us claim no more for the white cane and the White Cane Laws than is their due. The paramount right which they confer upon the blind pedestrian is not so much a right-of-way (for that is limited and contingent), nor even a guarantee of safe conduct, but simply a right of passage -- the right to travel independently in public places, to move in the thick of things, with the confidence of legal status and the reasonable assurance of recognition. Before the era of the white cane, the blind man everywhere ventured forth at his peril and proceeded at his own risk; today "he walks by a faith justified by law."
Nearly a hundred years ago an American writer, Obadiah Milton Conover, composed a short poem which no blind person could then have read with conviction. This year, as we celebrate the anniversary of the white cane and the new-found independence which it signifies, each of us may affirm the poet's boast:
Alone I walk the peopled city,
Where each seems happy with his own;
O friends, I ask not for your pity --
I walk alone.
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by Professor Kingsley Price
(Editor's note: Dr. Price, Professor of Philosophy and Education at Johns Hopkins University, has also been a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nevada, Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Washington. The author of distinguished books and articles on philosophical topics, he is a member of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind and of the board of directors of the American Brotherhood for the Blind. The article which follows was first delivered as an address before the Jewish Braille Institute, New York City, on April 12, 1961.)
Part of the purpose of an anniversary celebration is to remind oneself of what he knows already--to consider the goal to which the organization is dedicated and the state of its accomplishment. If I may be so bold, I wish to try to do something of that sort now. We are all concerned with the problems from which the blind suffer; and, so far as possible, concerned to bring about a solution to them. What are these problems?
Let us begin by asking who the blind are. The answer is obvious. They are anybody and everybody. Among them we find people of both sexes and all ages; of every race, creed, and condition. They harbor as great a diversity of likes and dislikes, of capacities and incapacities, of needs and interests, as could any randomly selected group. Each is the center of a constellation of abilities and wishes, of hopes and fears which distinguishes him from every other person. For a blind person, as for anyone, it is being a center of a unique cluster of tendencies which makes him an individual. However like one another human beings are in some respects, what is ultimately important about each is this indi viduality, this unique self.
The general form of the problem which every human being faces in his life is how to realize his individual self. A blind person, like any other, faces a life problem of this general sort; and in relation to it, his blindness seems, at first sight, insignificant.
Yet it is not quite so. Like anyone at all, a blind person wants to make his own place in society, to earn his own living, to make his own peace with the world, to give a body and a substance to that unique pattern of dreams and aspirations in which he consists. The right to try to realize oneself is commonly granted to the sighted. The means for exercising this right differs from one modern civilized culture to another; and short of utopia, the degree of adequacy of the means differs likewise. But within each culture, the means to exercise the right is guaranteed to those who have sight. In our culture this means is embodied in the right to equality of opportunity, to freedom of speech, of thought, of conscience, and of action. Given these rights, one has the right to try to realize his individuality. These auxiliary rights are not, in fact, guaranteed to the blind. Unlike others, a blind person not only cannot try to be, he does not even possess the right to try to be himself.
Why do the blind not possess this right? The reason is clear. It is that they lack the means. They cannot exercise the right to equality of opportunity, to freedom of speech, of thought, of conscience, and of action; and one who cannot exercise these auxiliary rights does not possess them. Equality of opportunity in economic affairs implies a training in accord with capacities; one is unable to choose a way of livelihood if he cannot acquire appropriate training. The right to freedom of speech, of thought, of conscience, and of action implies access to those subjects upon which these activities may focus. What is re quired for a blind person to exercise these rights is different from what is required for the sighted. His training for a livelihood must be carried on in a different way. The way in which he can construct a foundation on which to exercise freedom of speech, of thought, of conscience, and of action is different. Lacking their foundation, he cannot exercise the freedoms, otherwise commonly guaranteed. A blind person, because he does not possess the rights to equality of opportunity, to freedom of speech, of thought, of conscience, and of action is denied the most fundamental of all human rights, the one which they make possible--the right to try to be himself.
Why are the blind denied the basis for exercising these auxiliary rights? Commonly, it is guaranteed to the sighted. Our schools, training institutions, museums, libraries, press, television, films--our entire way of life--is geared to providing for the sighted the means for vocational and professional training, for free access to subjects for speech and thought, for considering alternatives for conscientious allegiance and action in free association with others. There are, of course, imperfections; but generally, no one is denied, on the ground that he can see, the chance to exercise those rights necessary to the right to try to be himself. This is not the case for the blind. Roadside advertising, throw-aways, newspapers; pulps, slicks, learned journals; plays, novels, poems, painting, sculpture, architecture, music; natural and social sciences; politics, religion, and theology--access to all these is denied to the blind; for the reading materials in which they consist or are discussed are not available to them. More-over, they are often excluded from access to apartment buildings, hotels, and railroads. They are frequently denied admission to liberal arts, vocational, and professional schools; and even when they secure the training, they are frequently denied the opportunity to succeed or fail in a job. Our society denies to the blind, because they are blind, the materials and opportunities which are necessary for exercising those rights whose foundation and exercise it guarantees to others; and it does so because, influenced by the stereotype of the blind person's remoteness from society, it believes him incapable of playing any role in it, preferring to care for him as a dependent rather than to respect him as an equal. The blind require a different basis for the exercise of rights; and our society, failing to provide that basis deprives them of that exercise, and consequently of those rights.
The problems which the blind face are numerous; but in all cases, their form is expressed in the question: how can one provide for them the foundation for the auxiliary rights I have mentioned. The picture I have drawn of the present state of the foundation is exaggerated, but not much so. During the last thirty years, the blind have banded to gether to construct that foundation themselves; and through the efforts of their organization, the National Federation of the Blind, they have made some progress. The legislation it has sponsored recognizes their capacity and need for vocational and professional training; and once they possess it, their right to exercise at least some choice with respect to economic opportunities. As a result of the Federation's efforts, the use of public moneys to encourage the blind toward self- support, rather than to maintain them in a condition of passive and isolated dependence, is gradually being admitted as a guiding principle in social welfare work and legislation. Their right to organize for these purposes, also, may be on the way to legal recognition. The efforts of the Federation in these directions have been clearly understood and greatly assisted by the Jewish Braille Institute. They have been efforts, chiefly through legislation, to lay that part of the foun dation for the right to an equal opportunity in economic affairs which, though composed of a different stuff, supports a similar right for those who see. The importance of this reformation in thought concerning the basis for equality of economic opportunity cannot be over-emphasized; it is an essential part of that foundation for rights I have been discussing. But it is easy to forget that bread alone does not suffice, even if one earns it himself. And the rights to freedom of speech, of thought, of conscience, and of action cannot belong to one simply because he has a stomach filled with the fruits of his own labor. They must rest on a foundation of ideas about which to think or talk with others freely, on which to center loyalty at will, and for which to work from personal choice. This part of the foundation for rights is, for the blind, even more inadequate than it is for that of equality in economic opportunities, however meager this last may be.
Why is this part of the foundation so weak? I wish to direct your attention to one deficiency alone. The blind lack vision. This simple truism is of the greatest importance because it means that their experience of the world must occur in a different way. Vision is the quickest and easiest way to discover what things are; and lacking it, the blind must make many of their discoveries of things in a slower and more cumbersome way. To learn about the world, everyone relies, to some extent, upon descriptions of it. I imagine that all of us, here, know about Antarctica, not through having seen it, but through having read descriptions of it. But most of us learn about it by seeing those descriptions; and most of us can exercise the right to choose which of those visible descriptions he will read. The blind must rely more heavily than any on descriptions; but the great number of them available to those who see has no counterpart for those who do not. Actual and audible descriptions, those made with Braille and voice recording, are woefully inadequate in number and kind; and those who need most to learn about the world through symbols for it suffer from the greatest lack of them. Consequently, they have almost no choice of reading on any given subject.
Here, too, there has been some progress. A number of persons throughout the country devote much time to volunteer Braille transcription; and several organizations, including the Jewish Braille Institute, work with energy and devotion toward increasing the number of books available to the blind. Their work cannot be too much lauded. The Division for the Blind of the Library of Congress, the chief source of reading materials for the blind, spends a great deal of money each year and makes available a fair number of titles.
The progress, however, is small, and frequently in the wrong direction. The devoted Braille transcribers can, at best, make only single copies; and they not infrequently refuse to transcribe materials of whose style or subject matter they disapprove.
The Library of Congress makes available to the blind reader almost no book which is controversial, earnest, long, or capable of shocking any reader. I have been able to discover in its collection no serious book of non-fiction, popular or technical, which is pertinent to the Soviet Union, to China, to Africa, and for that matter, to any nation or culture, past or present. Greek and Latin literature in all its enormous variety is represented by Homer and three or four of the Greek dramas, that of the Church fathers, by St. Augustine's Confessions; that of Mediaeval times, by Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; that of the Renaissance, by nothing at all; that of subsequent times, by very little. The entire world, except for Europe and North America, has almost no representation whatever; and modern and contemporary times are represented by books selected almost exclusively from those written in the English language. The blind can find in the Library of Congress, Division for the Blind, almost no serious book on the arts, none on history and politics, one or two great books of philosophy, almost no book of significant poetry, none of science and theology. He can find two or three novels of Henry James, and one or two (those not his best) by Faulkner. It is not merely great or serious books which are missing; the most popular of contemporary authors (let alone those of the past) are totally unrepresented. There is nothing at all of Nobokov or Mickey Spillane. The books in its collection for the blind are those which it is easy and safe, easy and safe in every respect, for it to acquire. The collection is incredibly narrow, commonplace, superficial, trivial, banal, and sentimental.
Moreover, that large part of the Library's collection which is in voice recording suffers from two additional deficiencies. The first is that many of those who read for recording present to the listener not books, but performances of them. In dialogue, the male reader affects female voices for female roles. A sneeze, a groan, a laugh, a scream is presented to the reader not by the word, but by the thing itself. The neighbors frequently wonder what is going on. More important, it is extremely wearing to listen very long. It is as if you read a book in which different characters appeared in different colors and types of print, and as if the print for each were differently illuminated. Most important, the imagination of the listener is never allowed its own exercise; he cannot understand what he reads for himself. He does not read anything; he hears someone else giving a dramatic interpretation. Secondly, many of the recorders read extremely slowly. This deliberate inertia hampers the proper function of reading, that of broadening the experience of the reader--a function especially important for the blind.
No institution could make available to the blind all the literature, good, bad, and indifferent, which is available to the sighted public; but one could endeavor to represent each kind adequately. In its selection enormously favoring the indifferent, the Library of Congress makes no significant effort at adequate representation. It imposes a censor ship which prevents the blind from developing out of their reading those ideas about which they might freely talk and think, and toward which they might express their conscientious allegiance by acting freely in association with others. As the chief source of reading materials for the blind (fortunately not the only one), it is a major factor in narrowing the experience, stunting the imagination, frustrating the thought, and limiting the knowledge of all the blind throughout the country.
In our country, everyone has the right to read what anyone has the right to publish—everyone, that is, except the blind. What they can read is enormously limited, and enormously superficial. The importance of this limitation cannot be stressed too much. To be able to associate freely with others depends upon a community with them in knowledge and feeling; and this community is built up, in good measure, out of a common experience gained by all to some extent through reading, but to a much greater extent in that manner, by the blind. The right to choose one's occupation depends upon his knowledge of opportunities proffered, and upon his training; and here again, being able to read freely is essential to both. The ideas about which one may choose to speak or think to adopt and to act for, all depend largely upon what one reads. What one finds by reading is an important factor in that pattern of dreams and aspirations in which he consists. For what one aspires to do is determined by what he thinks he may do; and the decisions as to what he will do must be made on the basis of his conception of the world to which reading largely contributes. The right to read is essential to equality of opportunity, to freedom of speech, of thought, of conscience, and of action.
The Library of Congress, through censorship of its collection of books for the blind frustrates their right to read. In doing so, it devitalizes their experience, limits drastically the alternatives open to their aspiration, and precludes that individuality which is their own. It fails to provide an essential part of that foundation upon which the blind can exercise the right to freedom of speech, of thought, of conscience, and of action. Frustrating the blind person's right to read dispossesses him of his most fundamental right, the right to try to be himself. To solve the problems of the blind, one must make more representative the collection of books available to them; and an essential part of this problem is that of improving the collection of the Library of Congress upon which they all depend.
We must try to be ourselves; and the blind man's right to make that effort is one to which his right to read is as necessary as his right to earn a living. On assuring to every blind person the right to read and the right to try to be himself, the blind and all their friends must now center their attention.
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Blind American in Japan No "Ugly" American. Nyal D. McConoughey, a blind American civilian employed at the American airbase of Tachikawa in Japan, has been instrumental in the formation of the Tachikawa Council for the Betterment of the Japanese Blind.
Inaugurated last October, the nonprofit private group has as its primary objective "to promote voluntary interest in blind people who reside in the local Japanese community,” according to a Council Newsletter edited by Mr. McConoughey.
Working closely with local mayors and community agencies, the Tachikawa Council provides material and monetary assistance to the more than 1,000 underprivileged blind Japanese in the area surrounding the airbase.
"Eventually Japanese government welfare programs may be developed to meet some of the needs of the blind," McConoughey observes, "but today private donations offer the only means of progress in many aspects of the long-range goal: self-respect for each blind individual and satisfying integration with society.”
Five Braille typewriters have already been provided by the Council to organizations serving the blind, and plans are underway for a Talking Book program as well as the provision of Japanese-character type-writers for secretarial trainees and scholarships for blind persons interested in social-service careers.
McConoughey, the guiding spirit of the Tachikawa Council, presently serves as its secretary-treasurer. Lt. Col. John P. Remaklus is chairman and Mr. Claude Holeman, vice-chairman.
Montana's Model Summer School. An unusual summer school and orientation seminar for blind Montanans--decidedly worthy of copy by other state organizations of the blind--is currently being held from mid-June to mid-July at Bozeman, Montana.
A project of the Montana Association for the Blind, the five-week Annual Summer School for the Adult Blind makes use of classrooms, dormitory and other facilities of Montana State College.
"Here the visually handicapped are given the opportunity to learn some of the 'tricks' of being blind and to find their way toward a more independent and satisfactory way of dealing with their handicap," according to THE OBSERVER, official journal of the Montana Association.
"It is not a trade school. It is a place where a blind person will be introduced to devices and appliances specially designed for the use of blind people; to methods of reading and writing; to the means whereby he may travel about freely on the streets, in trains and buses; and to ways of handling himself easily at the table and in restaurants.
"He will have the satisfaction of making handsome and practical articles. He will be able to see for himself what other people with low vision or no sight at all have done about their problems and how he can himself gain confidence and a very large measure of independence — in other words, how he can get back into circulation," the Montana journal points out.
Operated principally for sightless adult residents of the state, the Montana Summer School accepts out-of-state blind applicants at nominal cost. For Montanans everything except personal expenses is furnished free--including meals, lodging, instruction, classroom supplies and transportation to and from the School. Inquiries should be addressed to Mr. Keith Denton, Chairman of the Summer School Committee, Box 22, Lakeside, Montana.
New Reading for Washingtonians. The Seattle Library for the Blind has recently added two more periodicals to its growing list of magazine literature for blind residents of the Pacific Northwest. "Readers who enjoy being transported into the realm of science-fiction will find entertaining reading by favorite authors in GALAXY MAGAZINE, available each month in Braille, “the Library reports.” Science-fiction fans who own tape players may borrow it in tape-recorder form, as it is also on tape.
"A monthly periodical devoted to the interests of older people makes its first appearance with the April issue on talking book records. SENIOR CITIZEN MAGAZINE, recorded at 33 1/3 r.p m., carries a selection of articles and stories of personal growth, inspiration, and community service that will appeal to the older reader. For information on either of these magazines please contact the Seattle Library for the Blind."
(Editor's note: We are indebted for this item to THE OBSERVER, regular publication of the Montana Association for the Blind, which also notes that readers outside the Seattle Library region should consult their own regional libraries concerning the availability of these and similar periodicals.)
S. Ruth Barrett, long-time leader in the work for the blind of the American Bible Society, died in March at the age of 62. A pioneer in the talking-book recording of scripture, she was awarded the Megel Medal in 1959 for distinguished service to the blind, and the previous year received the National Annual Achievement Award in Philadelphia for her contributions toward the education and rehabilitation of the sightless.
A Doctor's Foresight. The eyes of a Boston doctor may restore sight to a Negro store clerk and a German war bride in Florida, according to a report in the Nevada Federation of the Blind News Bulletin.
Five hours after his death in May, 1961, corneal tissue from the eyes of Dr. Edward C. Sweebe was flown to Jacksonville for twin transplant operations on an injury victim and a blind woman--both of whom were given excellent chances for recovery of sight.
Dr. Sweebe, who died at 32, had devoted his young medical career to saving the vision of others. He directed that his eyes be donated after his death to the eye bank of Massachusetts General Hospital Eye and Ear Infirmary.
Mrs. Alice Tanner of Los Angeles, vice president of Avis-Tanner Gray Line Corporations, was recently elected to the board of trustees of the Braille Institute of America, according to an announcement from Cecil L. Whitehead, president of the board. Mrs. Tanner has served as past president of the Women's Division of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and is a past president of the Women's Breakfast Club of
More Literature Available. The AMERICAN HERITAGE MAGAZINE is presently being reproduced on magnetic tape by the Library for the Blind, a division of the Free Library of Philadelphia. For information, write: Library for the Blind, 17th and Spring Garden Streets, Philadelphia 30, Pennsylvania. . . . Braille and talking-book copies of
the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. 's annual report are now available to blind persons upon request to the secretary of AT&T at 195 Broadway, New York, New York.
"Printing Without Ink.” (Excerpts from an article in THE PUB, journal of the National Publishing Company, February, 1961.) "For a century, Braille has been the true, if cumbersome, key to knowledge and independence for those who cannot see. Sadly, only one in four of America's 350,000 sightless citizens can read Braille. Most have become blind late in life and wrongly feel they are too old to learn. . .
"Adults of 65 can and do learn to read Braille, though seldom as fast as those who were taught as children. These folk often read with both hands simultaneously, sometimes 300 words a minute. As the right index finger finishes line one, the left reads into line two. The brain stores this information for a moment, and then drops it into place. . .
"The business world is reacting to this emancipation; not only by employing more blind workers. American Telephone & Telegraph Company prints a Braille edition of its annual report for an estimated 3,600 blind share owners. Sightless customers of Lloyds Bank, London, receive their statements in Braille.
"In a special field of private enterprise there's Frank Spagnuolo, blind, who was caught in Los Angeles last year booking horse race bets in Braille. The fine was still $100. . . .
"Today, from 30 libraries throughout the U.S., thousands of bestsellers, classics, poems, knitting patterns, cookbooks and textbooks, all in Braille, circulate to blind readers by mail, free.
"The American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, annually produces over 75,000 bound volumes, 35,000 pamphlets and around 70 regular magazines (best known: READER'S DIGEST, published in Braille by public donation since 1928).
"Over five thousand musical scores, to suit all tastes, also are printed each year. Blind musicians read music with one hand and practice with the other. Sightless pianist George Shearing memorizes Mozart--in bed."
Ron Warner, president of the Oregon Council of the Blind, has signed a contract to teach in the Public-School System of Eugene, Oregon. He will move to his new address in August, and reports that he is looking forward to being "closer to more of our O.C.B. members and being able to visit more of the Council's chapters."
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by Russell Kletzing
(Editor's note: Mr. Kletzing is president of the California Council of the Blind and secretary of the National Federation of the Blind.)
In every people's movement there are climactic episodes which contain all the drama and suspense of fiction. The historic struggle of the blind men and women of California to obtain legislative protection of their right to organize--a struggle which has finally been capped with victory--is such a story.
The narrative begins in June, 1957 with the introduction into Congress of a bill by Senator John F. Kennedy--proposing, for the first time in history, that the right of blind people to organize independently and voluntarily, and to be consulted in the administration of public policy concerning them, be backed by the protective guarantee of federal legislation.
The effect of Senator Kennedy's bill—duplicated by an identical House proposal on the part of Congressman Walter Baring--was instantaneous and electric. Blind people all over the nation responded with massive enthusiasm to the hope and prospect embodied in the Kennedy-Baring bill. Perhaps never before in the history of the organized blind movement has any measure been greeted with such universal excitement by the nation's blind--and never before has a proposal been fought more vigorously by powerful custodial interests who view themselves as guardians of the "helpless blind.”
Blind Californians responded to the challenge like those everywhere in the land. Despite the lack of effective leadership, they moved in significant numbers to interview their representatives and senators in Congress, to obtain pledges of support and the introduction of companion right-to-organize bills.
While letters by the hundreds of thousands poured into the mail baskets of congressmen, the desperate opposition of agency representatives, together with the heavy press of other legislative business, conspired to prevent a hearing on the Kennedy bill before the adjournment of Congress in the late summer of 1958.
But the blind had only begun to fight. Early in 1959, as the next session of Congress opened, Senator Kennedy and Congressman Baring reintroduced their right-to-organize bills--this time with even greater support in both houses. As a consequence, the House Committee on Labor held lengthy hearings in March--at which a score of witnesses from the National Federation of the Blind demonstrated vividly and emphatically the need for protection of their organizational rights, as well as the mutual benefits achieved where agencies were prepared to consult fully with independent associations of the blind.
The national fight for the Kennedy bill, however, ended inconclusively. No action was taken by Congress, although a full-scale study of problems of the handicapped was authorized and set in motion.
Meanwhile affairs in the California Council of the Blind--the Federation's state affiliate--had reached the boiling point and spilled over. A movement had developed to introduce more dynamic leadership, but in the fall of 1958 the incumbent administration won the presidential election by a scant two votes. However, it lost all but two of the elective seats on the Executive Committee. In the course of this struggle the Council president, Robert Campbell, had allied himself with the State Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation with the result that the employees of that agency had rallied behind him in his campaign for reelection.
Early in January, 1959, the Council's Executive Committee invoked the constitutional provision under which its members could call a special meeting. One of the chief items of business was the proposal that there be a state right-to-organize bill. All of the new members of the Executive Committee supported the state measure, but the presi dent and his supporter argued against it--apparently because it was opposed by the State Rehabilitation Bureau. The Executive Committee then directed the president to submit the measure to the Legislature. Six weeks later, when the president resigned under the pressure of a wave of popular indignation, he still had not secured the introduction of the right-to-organize bill, although some twenty other bills had already gone into the hopper. As first vice president of the California Council, I succeeded to the presidency following Campbell's departure. That was on March 1. On March 5 we obtained the introduction of S. 895, a right-to-organize and right-to-consult bill closely modeled after the Kennedy bill (and soon known throughout the State as the "Little Kennedy bill").
One of our first moves was to ask for and receive a hearing before the Legislative Committee of the Department of Education--where we sought their support of the Little Kennedy bill, but without success.
The career of the Little Kennedy bill was managed by Senator Richard Richards, one of the Legislature's ablest members. Its first hearing, unfortunately, was before a three-man subcommittee whose decisions were privately reached behind closed doors. The bill was killed behind those same closed doors. But within a matter of days it was alive again and kicking--reintroduced, this time in the Assembly, by another experienced legislator: Assemblyman Augustus F. Hawkins. In its new form it was divided into two bills--one covering the right to organize and one the right to consult.
Step by step, the right-to-organize bill (A. B. 2559) was fought through the California Legislature. (The bill guaranteeing rights of consultation was early referred to an interim committee.) On the last night of the 1959 session, following earlier passage by the Assembly, A.B. 2559 received Senate approval.
The battle was won in the Legislature--only to be lost on the Governor's desk. Governor Brown declined to sign the measure, owing primarily to the opposition of the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, and so it died the victim of a "pocket veto.” The Campbell faction in the Council had repaid well its political debt to the Rehabilitation Bureau by hurling a hate campaign of mail against our bill.
After this tremendous disappointment, we began laying the ground work still more carefully for a renewed effort. For example, support was obtained from key political groups. By early 1960, nine democratic clubs had endorsed the right to organize, along with three assembly district democratic councils and a congressional district democratic council. Moreover, the latter sponsored a similar resolution before the Fresno convention of the California Democratic Council in February; at that meeting the Council's president appeared before the Resolutions Committee, and the statement of support was carried without a dissenting vote.
The next step was the State Democratic Platform. Convening on one of Sacramento's hot summer nights, the State Democratic Convention unequivocally approved the right-to-organize legislation. Its platform states: "The right of the blind or other handicapped to organize for mutual protection and representation without interference from state or local employees shall not be denied.”
Another key group in our campaign was organized labor. In August, 1960, the AFL-CIO statewide convention adopted a resolution which recognized the similarity of labor's fight for organizational rights to that of the blind for the same goal.
In late 1959 the faction supporting Campbell had withdrawn from the California Council and formed their own separate organization. Freed of this internal resistance, members of the Council embarked upon a program of meetings with their legislators in home districts. The importance of the right to organize was explained to the lawmakers, and nearly all grasped the point and promised their support.
As a result of this spadework, the right-to-organize measure was one of the first bills introduced in the 1961 Legislature (as A.B. 169). Again it was skillfully handled by the veteran solon, Augustus Hawkins. A bill guaranteeing the right to consult was also introduced; but the Council did not bring this bill to a hearing, since consultation with most state agencies had meanwhile improved, due perhaps to the pendency of the legislation. Moreover, the strategy was to avoid confusing the two issues.
Although A.B. 169 was introduced early, the committee hearing was not held immediately. Several times it was set for hearing, and then postponed for a week or two. This tactic kept the opposition just a little off-balance and allowed time for the necessary ground work still to be laid.
In February, the Council Bulletin was issued with a full account of our legislation, including the right-to-organize bill. The names of the committee members were there also. Next, several of the committee members were interviewed by blind members from their home districts. In addition, legislative seminars were held by the Council, one in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles; our right-to-organize bill was reviewed again, and the support for it from the Council membership became a living force. Mail flowed into the Capitol in volume, supporting our cause.
The first real test came on the first Tuesday in April before the very liberal Assembly Social Welfare Committee. Jack Fletcher (our field director and legislative representative), Grace Petrie, and I appeared in support of the bill. Less than a dozen other Council members were in attendance.
The committee at the moment was faced with an extremely heavy agenda. For that reason, after Assemblyman Hawkins introduced the bill, Jack Fletcher and I kept our discussion to a minimum. We gave most of the time to Grace Petrie, President of the Blind Workers' Guild of Oakland. Grace was magnificent, relating clearly and concisely how fear and coercion had prevented organization of the Guild for more than 10 years and still hung like a pall over the Oakland shop.
It was apparent during committee sessions that A. E. (Tony) Septinelli had carefully organized the opposition to our bill. Espie White, legislative chairman of the splinter group, led off. Tony followed next, seeking to minimize his role as a representative of the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation and to emphasize his character as a blind person. Other opposition witnesses included Josephine Santirfo, her husband Bob, Phil Maddox, and Rev. Grover Roberson. Although the committee was seriously pressed for time, the parade of witnesses went on and on--each repeating the same song. The difficulty seemed to be that they had no real argument against the bill, except that it was unnecessary. When Phil Maddox, in desperation, suggested that there was something "communistic" about the bill, a wave of disgust swept the committee and broke with a thud like a wet dishrag. The vote was unanimous for the bill.
In the California Legislature it is virtually unheard-of for a committee recommendation to be reversed on the floor except for "headline" issues. Nonetheless, two years before, the rehabilitation agency had carried the fight against us to the floor--so we were prepared. Following is an eyewitness description of the floor action that followed:
"An aborted effort on the floor of the Assembly by a few opponents of the right to organize bill was ably handled by Assemblyman Hawkins,Bruce Allen and Phillip Burton. Mr. Hawkins introduced the bill on the Assembly floor and explained what the bill did and why it was needed. After his introduction, three or four members of the Assembly spoke in opposition to the bill. Two were concerned because of opposition by blind people, and two because the aged were included. Assembly-man Allen then took the floor and told what an upstanding organization the Council of the Blind was, and that we sponsored the bill. He also said that the greatest opponent to the bill was Tony Septinelli and the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, and that if the Department was going to oppose the bill, then the bill must be needed. He felt that opposition by any department that administered programs for the blind was incomprehensible, and he asked for a favorable vote. Mr. Burton then took the floor and also asked for a favorable vote. The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 58 to 7."
By now we were anxious for quick action--but A. B. 169 could not be scheduled on the crowded calendar of the Senate Social Welfare Committee until May 17. Again the mail flowed in from the grass roots to support us. Also, twelve Council stalwarts came to Sacramento and worked with Jack Fletcher to contact not only committee members but nearly all the members of the Senate.
The subsequent Senate hearing followed much the pattern of the previous one, but this time the committee fortunately had a light agenda. For the first time we were able to present a fully documented account of the infringements of our right to organize. On this occasion the room was crowded. More than 30 Council members had journeyed to Sacramento to watch the vital hearing on their right to organize.
Grace Petrie again was magnificent. Under her calm exterior was the bite of carefully controlled anger and unquestionable sincerity. George Callas, blind insurance broker from San Mateo, also testified in support of the bill—detailing a hair-raising series of attempts to prevent Manuel Urena from getting a job, the only possible reason being that Urena was active in the Council.
Among other documents presented to the committee was a letter from Edward J. Brown, Jr. who discussed the efforts of the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation to keep him from joining the California Council of the Blind.
In addition to our own testimony, this time we had an impressive array of supporters. Jack Fletcher quoted from a letter in which Attorney General Mosk authorized him to state that he supported the principles of our bill. Don Veile of the AFL-CIO threw labor's support behind the bill. The longshoremen and warehousemen's unions had previously informed committee members of its support. The disabled of San Mateo County were also represented. Apparently based on the testimony at the hearing, and as a complete surprise to us, Mr. Broadhurst registered the support of the County Supervisors' Association.
Again Tony Septinelli had the opposition carefully coached. Most of those who had previously opposed the bill were on hand, plus one or two more--but now a note of desperation had crept into their voices. Their testimony suggested that some veiled threat lay behind the bill; one even intimated that it was all a plot by George McLain, the old-age pension promoter, to take over the California Council of the Blind!
Despite these maneuvers the vote of the committee was 5 to 1, with only Senator Backstrand of Riverside dissenting. As it passed the Senate Committee, A.B. 169 would add the following section to the government code:
"8403. No officer or employee of the State or any county, city and county, city, or district who is concerned with the administration of any program for the aged, blind, or disabled shall in his official capacity attempt to coerce or coerce any aged, blind or disabled person to join or refrain from joining any organization of the aged, blind, or disabled."
For nearly three weeks thereafter the bill was on the Senate calendar, but was repeatedly postponed while the Senate rushed to meet its June 1 deadline for handling its own bills. Meanwhile we continued contacting senators and writing letters.
The day before our own Council convention, June 2, 40 delegates from throughout the state arrived early at the Capitol. They visited their senators and reminded them of our earnestness in seeking an affirmative vote on our bill. We later met with the Governor, who promised that he would either sign or veto the bill and indicated that he could see no reason for opposing it. The day following our convention, A.B. 169 passed the Senate by a vote of 22 to 2, with only Senators Backstrand of Riverside and Rodda of Sacramento voting no. A few days later, the Assembly concurred in the Senate amendments and the bill was sent to the Governor.
On July 12, 1961, Governor Pat Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 169, protecting the constitutional right of all blind persons to form or join organizations of their own choosing--free from coercion or interference by the agencies of their state government.
In this campaign of the organized blind of California, more than a state law has been won. History has been made--and a long forward step taken toward the eventual triumph of our right to organize throughout the nation at large.
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by Dr. Isabelle L. D. Grant
(Editor's note: Dr. Grant, a frequent contributor to these columns, is a member of the board of directors of The American Brotherhood for the Blind and also a member of the board of the National Federation of the Blind.)
Asad did not want to beg. His heart was heavy as he left his hut at daybreak, guided by the hand of his little nine-year-old son, to find a spot among the throng in the city of Lahore. Asad wanted to work to keep his wife and five children from starvation. He had been a kite maker, but the government had put a ban on the sale of the tissue paper he used to make kites. With bamboo and gaily-colored paper, Asad had made hundreds of kites and sold them for a little dime, eight anas, apiece. The children of Lahore loved to play with their kites, darting skillfully across the street to retrieve them, scampering recklessly down the back alleys, even scaling the roofs of the houses, and matching their prowess in a hotly contested game of patang. His trade at a standstill, Asad had gone to the social worker, to the can factory, to the bazaar, in search of work. He was blind, so he was rejected as useless, helpless, and hopeless. But the social worker had an idea. She would ask a blind friend who was visiting Lahore. In no time at all, the day came when thirty pounds of tissue paper arrived from the County Club of Adult Blind in Los Angeles, California. Asad was in business again, but more important, Asad was restored to himself.
A letter was read to the members of the California Council of the Blind telling how discarded spectacles could help persons with poor vision to see better. The lenses and frames were collected, measured, filed and then supplied free to needy persons whose vision was poor. The local ophthalmologists in Karachi have volunteered this help through their local Lions Club. Could the California group help? Would they help keep a "dersay" whose eyesight was failing, working at his sewing machine? Would they help a child see better if fitted with a pair of lenses? Foraging among their relatives, friends and acquaintances, these blind persons came up with thirteen thousand pairs of unwanted glasses, which through the help of CARE were quickly sent to Pakistan. A second consignment is already well ahead. How many needy persons will be helped back to work and happiness through a pair of glasses would be hard to estimate. In a "thank-you" letter from Pakistan, we are told that already over a hundred pairs a month are being fitted and distributed among the poor.
The image of the West looms large in the hearts and minds of the people of these emergent countries. They want to build their land just as we built ours. And they want to build it their way. Like us, too, they want to be master in their own house, free from foreign domination. They know they need some help, for much time has been lost. But help bought at the price of the freedom of their minds, of their ideals, they do not desire. They have created a self-image of independence, self-determination, a future. The young blind share in this newly-found dignity and purpose, for the blind student knows that only through education will come his emancipation.
But facilities are grossly lacking. The blind student asks for books: law books, text books in history, geography, science, and engineering. If with his fingers he can make baskets, his fingers can also be trained to handle machinery. He asks for writing tools, slate and stylus, Braille writers, Braille magazines and Braille paper (a scarce commodity in his country). Blind persons in California have already sent three Braille writers, two dozen slates and styluses, textbooks, books on the education of the blind, and music notation books. Blind persons in Colorado are assisting a blind school with ten young pupils in East Pakistan. A young blind man in Kerala, South India, wants to know about the employment of blind persons in the United States in order to get ideas for his own country. A young blind law student in Jordan would like to take a post-graduate year here in the United States in order to be better equipped for work in his own country. A young man in Amritsar, Punjab, India, wants to know how to provide education for more of the blind children, as schools for the blind are too expensive to run.
But most heartwarming of all are the letters exchanged--some Brailed, some dictated, some handwritten, others typewritten. Some are in schoolboy English; some, when the writer had attended a missionary school, are in flawless Oxford English. The letters tell about families and friends, about children and grandchildren, about births, marriages, celebrations and ceremonies. Person-to-person becomes friend-to-friend. Might the common bond of interest be blindness? Perhaps, and why not?
Would that we could find common bonds of friendship among all people; then we could say with the bard of Scotland, "Then man to man, the world o'er, would brothers be for a’ that.”
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by John Taylor
(Editor's note: Mr. Taylor is President of the National Federation of the Blind. The following report, complete except for social details, is the official convention roundup released in July from the N. F. B.’s National Headquarters, 329 Insurance Exchange Building, Des Moines 9, Iowa.)
More than 500 blind persons from 50 states journeyed to Kansas City, Missouri for the four-day annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind beginning July 4. The meeting, which signalized the Federation's 21st anniversary, also witnessed a series of important actions and decisions affecting the future of the national organization.
After 21 years as founder and as the continuously re-elected president of the National Federation, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek surprised and dismayed the convention by announcing his resignation from office on the first morning of the sessions. Dr. tenBroek's resignation, which came in the middle of his current two-year term of office, was prompted solely by the bitter factional strife which has gripped the NFB in recent years and had come to paralyze virtually all of its activities during the past 12 months. I cannot fully describe my own feelings as the new president of the organization which this man brought into being and has nurtured through a score of years. We have lost in Dr. tenBroek the greatest leader the organized blind have ever had or will have. His announcement struck dismay into the hearts of hundreds in the audience; at its conclusion there were few among us with eyes entirely dry. As founder of the Federation, as its only president for 21 years, as its leader and leading spirit, he built the Federation (against persistent external opposition during the whole life of the Federation and internal disruption in recent years) into an organization that is democratic, representative, and national. In a unique way and to a striking degree, its philosophy is his philosophy, its character is his character, and its accomplishments are his. In the hearts and gratitude of his fellows, he stands as the blind man of the century.
Emil Arndt, the NFB's treasurer since its founding in 1940, had earlier announced his resignation and made it effective as of July 7. Emil felt that the intense internecine strife in which the NFB had been engulfed posed too great a threat to his professional career to permit his continuance in office.
Elections and Continuations
Three new officers and four board members were elected by the convention. John Taylor of Iowa was elected president; Perry Sundquist of California became first vice-president, and Franklin VanVliet of New Hampshire was chosen to be treasurer. Two others elected at last year's convention continued in their offices: Donald Capps of South Carolina as second vice-president and Russell Kletzing of California as secretary.
The four elected members of the Board of Directors are: Anita O'Shea of Massachusetts who was named to succeed herself; Harold Reagan of Kentucky; T. F. Moody of Texas, and Frank Lugiano of Pennsylvania. The new members replace Don Cameron of Florida, Ray Penix of California and Victor Buttram of Illinois, whose terms had expired. Four other board members were continued in office: William Hogan of Connecticut, George Burke of New Jersey, Eulasee Hardenberg of Alabama, and Clyde Ross of Ohio. Clyde Ross also ran for the offices of president and first vice-president, but was defeated in both attempts. Although he had been an administration supporter for many years, Mr. Ross campaigned this year as an opponent.
A variety of decisions were made by the convention and the Executive Committee with regard to conditions of membership, reinstatement of suspended state affiliates, and the Code of Affiliate Standards.
1. A mutual and reciprocal release of all financial obligations was worked out between the NFB and the Illinois Federation of the Blind. The White Cane debt of slightly more than $3,000 owed by the Illinois affiliate to the NFB was reduced by the amount of last year's greeting-card disbursement, with Illinois paying the difference of $700. It was decided by vote of the convention to readmit the Illinois Federation to full membership when and if the National Executive Committee decides that the affiliate has complied with the conditions of membership and there is no further bar to reinstatement.
2. The Kansas Association for the Blind, which had previously declined to comply with the Code of Affiliate Standards and with a resolution of last year's national convention requiring a full accounting of its receipts and expenditures, met with the National Executive Committee and was directed to comply or to be treated as self- suspended. The Kansas affiliate's own executive committee then convened and rescinded its earlier decision, voting to supply the required financial statement. As a result of these actions, the Kansas Association was officially seated at the convention.
3. The convention decided, on the recommendation of the executive committee, to seat Dr. Rudolph Bjornseth as the official delegate of the North Dakota Association of the Blind. Lloyd Robertson was not seated because his election had been procured by nonresident members of the Association, including George Card. An illegal ballot attempted to be cast by Mrs. Card had been discovered and eliminated. In contrast, Bjornseth was the delegate selected by, and was representative of, the North Dakota blind themselves.
4. The Blind Brotherhood of Maryland, one of the six state affiliates suspended at last year's Miami convention, was readmitted to full membership after it had resolved various problems connected with financial disbursements and fully accepted the conditions for reinstatement issued by the National Executive Committee.
5. The convention decided against readmitting the four remaining suspended state affiliates unconditionally. The conditions which they were required to meet were those formulated and circulated by the National Executive Committee last November. The motion of the convention against unconditional readmission applied to the following four affiliates: Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. (One of the original six, Maryland, was readmitted; another, Louisiana, had earlier surrendered its charter of affiliation.)
6. The conditions of membership drawn up by the Executive Committee with respect to the suspended states were voted by the convention to be made part of the Code of Affiliate Standards and hence applicable to all affiliates now in membership or to be admitted in the future. Those conditions are:
a. The affiliate must commit itself by resolution, bylaw or constitutional provision not to engage in any conduct or allow its officers or members to engage in any conduct inconsistent with the constitution of the NFB, its code of affiliate standards, its existence, progress and well-being.
b. The affiliate must give assurance by resolution, bylaw or constitutional provision that it will comply with the majority decisions of the Federation, on all policy issues. The affiliate must give a similar assurance that it will participate affirmatively in carrying out such policy decisions in the manner established by the NFB convention or pursuant to the directives of the duly elected officers of the Federation. The affiliate must give further assurance that it or its members will not obstruct the execution of such policies in any way.
c. The affiliate must commit itself not to indulge in any efforts to alienate members of Congress or other public officials from the Federation or any of its duly established policies and programs.
d. The affiliate must commit itself not to indulge in attacks upon the officers, committeemen, leaders and members of the Federation or upon the organization itself outside of the organization, and must not allow its officers or members to indulge in such attacks. This commitment in no way interferes with the right of an affiliate or its officers or members to carry on a political campaign inside the Federation for election to office.
e. The affiliate must commit itself not to interfere with the organizing activities of the Federation or the affiliates of the Federation.
f. The affiliate must commit itself not to join or support, or allow its officers or members to join or support any permanent or temporary organization inside the Federation, which has not received the sanction and approval of the Federation. This general proposition means, for example, that the Free Press Association must be dissolved insofar as it is composed of or supported by affiliates of the Federation or officers or members of affiliates of the Federation.
g. Each suspended affiliate must submit such financial records as may be required by the Subcommittee on Budget and Finance.
7. Although the suspended state affiliates did not formally withdraw from the National Federation at Kansas City, immediately following the last vote on internal matters and at the beginning of the program part of the sessions they walked out of the convention and met at a neighboring hotel, where they formed a new national association to be called the American Council of the Blind. The policy of holding their meetings in absolute secrecy was continued, and numerous persons were ejected. The following news story subsequently appeared in the Kansas City Star:
"FORM NATIONAL GROUP -- Some Blind Persons Leave Federation -- Discord at Convention Here Led to Organization of Splinter Group.
"Disagreements during the convention of the National Federation of the Blind Tuesday to Friday at the Hotel Muehlebach led to the formation of a splinter organization.
"The new organization, the American Council of the Blind, was formed at meetings at the Alladin Hotel. Members from 21 states and the District of Columbia met Thursday and Friday.
"They agreed to adopt a permanent constitution at a convention to be held no later than September 15, 1962.
"After the group formed, the Braille Free Press Association voted to disband and to turn over its periodical and assets to the American Council, according to Mrs. Juliet Bindt, a director of the American Council.
"President of the new group is Ned Freeman, Conyers, Georgia. Other officers of the American Council: Dean Sumner, Watertown, S. D., and David Krause, Washington, vice-president; Mrs. Alma Murphy, St. Louis, secretary, and Ufemon Segura, New Orleans, treasurer."
8. At the meeting of the Executive Committee immediately following the convention, this resolution was adopted:
"Whereas, there are known violations of the Affiliate Standards of the NFB on the part of a number of affiliates, including California, North Dakota, Kansas, Maryland, Illinois, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and South Dakota; and
"Whereas, some of these violations have consisted of: supplying officers, members, and known supporters of the Free Press Association and the Braille Free Press; of providing financial contributions to the Free Press Association or to George Card in his year-long campaign of disruption, vilification, and character assassination; of attacks on the Federation's legislative program and the legislative programs of its affiliates made before members of Congress and state legislatures; of attacks on the officers and programs of the NFB outside the NFB;
"Now therefore be it resolved by the Executive Committee of the NFB, meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, July 7, 1961, that the secretary of the NFB (except in the case of California, in which case the president) be directed to communicate with these states and others so known to be violating the NFB Affiliate Standards, setting forth instances of activities or persons constituting the violations and requiring them to show cause why their charters should not be declared forfeit. Any assurances which may be found satisfactory by the Executive Committee must be provided by resolution or other action of a regular or special convention of the affiliate, said assurances to be sent to the Executive Committee on or before November 1, 1961. If cause is not shown by that date, the Executive Committee shall declare the affiliate's charter forfeit at its November meeting."
One of the liveliest activities of the convention program was a panel discussion on the new federal exempt-earnings provision under public assistance and the means of its implementation by the states. Members of the panel were Perry Sundquist (chairman), John Nagle, Earley (Cotton) Busby and Ed Hill (the latter two from Missouri). The group's discussion was followed by active interrogation and comment from the floor. About 50% of the states implemented the new exemption by July 1, 1961. The new provision becomes mandatory on July 1, 1962.
Dr. Isabelle Grant (851 West 40th Place, Los Angeles 37, California), our well-beloved "missionary of Federationism" from California, delivered a dramatic and enlightening account of her recent world-wide experiences under the title "Problems of the Blind--a Global View." She dwelt particularly upon efforts now underway to alleviate and prevent diseases of blindness, and toward rehabilitation of the sightless, in the emerging nations of Asia and Africa.
Dr. Jacob Freid, staunch friend and ally of the NFB who is executive director of the Jewish Braille Institute in New York City, addressed the convention on general problems of prejudice toward and among the handicapped as well as on internal dissension within voluntary organizations. He paid tribute in especially glowing terms to the leadership and welfare contributions of our retiring president, Dr. tenBroek.
Nyal McConnoughey, Secretary-Treasurer of the Tachikawa (Japan) Council for Betterment of the Japanese Blind, described the work of his voluntary group in assisting blind persons and welfare organizations in the Tokyo area. Mr. McConnoughey, who retained his civil service position with the Air Force some years ago as a result of efforts of the NFB, is the only blind person employed in a civil service position with the U. S. Government abroad.
Perrin McElroy, blind public administrator for Jackson County, Missouri, told the convention of his official activities and his success in administration of estates despite the handicap of lack of sight.
George Magers, well-known Federationist who was formerly the director of services to the blind in Nevada, and now with the Federal O. V. R., reported on the success of efforts by the NFB and the Nevada Federation of the Blind to defeat measures aimed at curtailing the state's welfare programs. He also brought the delegates the warm greetings of Mrs. Barbara Coughlan, Nevada welfare director and long-time friend of the Federation.
John Nagle, chief of the NFB's Washington office, reported in detail to the convention on the status of some 26 Federation- sponsored bills currently under consideration in both houses of Congress. At the top of Federation successes thus far, he said, is the Congressional enactment and presidential approval of an amendment to the public assistance provisions of the Social Security Act. The amendment raises the federal matching ceiling from $65 to $66, and changes the sharing formula so that the Federal Government pays four-fifths of the first $31 instead of the first $30. He pointed out that the victory was "the result of a high degree of cooperation between Senators Hartke of Indiana and Long of Louisiana in the Senate Finance Committee, and of Senators Long and Kerr of Oklahoma, along with Congressman King of California, who were conferees in the joint Senate-House committee."
Less concrete in accomplishment but scarcely less successful, Nagle said, were a series of conferences with members of President Kennedy's cabinet held last March by NFB President tenBroek, Tim Seward and John Nagle. Particularly congenial and productive were their conversations with Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Assistant Secretary of Labor Reynolds, he said. Markedly less fruitful was a meeting with HEW Secretary Ribicoff.
Nagle also noted that significant progress toward the Federation goal of statutory minimum-wage protection for sheltered workshop employees had been made in the current Congress through explicit recognition of the wage problem in a Senate report, as well as through the active cooperation of AFL-CIO representatives throughout the legislative campaign.
The Federation joined with others in securing the very substantial increases in benefit payments which Congress has just given to recipients of Old Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance.
He pointed out that some 14 of the Federation's bills, containing seven basic proposals, would amend title X of the Social Security Act toward conversion of the blind-aid programs into "genuine means for achieving self-support." Among other measures still in the hopper, Nagle reported, are the Humphrey-Baring "right to organize" bill; a "permanent solution" bill with respect to the Missouri-Pennsylvania programs, and bills to amend the vending stand law in the direction of more liberal administration and added protection.
In another convention report, James McGinnis informed the delegates of the California Council of the Blind's 1961 legislative successes -- which he termed "the most phenomenal in the history of that state and probably of any state in the nation." The successes include repeal of all responsible-relative provisions; the establishment of grants to meet actual needs up to $169 per month, with a floor of $119; automatic cost-of-living increases for aid grants; liberalization of property provisions, greatly increased medical benefits, and an extremely strong right-to-organize bill (signed by the Governor on July 12).
Other reports heard by the convention included: a detailed financial account, lasting well over an hour, by the NFB's treasurer and Sub-committee on Budget and Finance; the report of the Employability Committee, prepared by its chairman, Dr. Kingsley Price, and the report of the Endowment Committee, prepared by Chairman Bert Beldhuizen.
The Newel Perry Award of the National Federation, presented annually for outstanding service in advancing the welfare of the blind, was given this year to Congressman Thomas B. Curtis of Missouri. In his speech of presentation, John Nagle praised the Missouri Republican "for his attitude toward us and our aspirations, for his understanding of our goals and our objectives. “He pointed out that Representative Curtis "has labored in Congress after Congress to protect from federal extinction the constructive blind-aid programs of Missouri and Pennsylvania,” and that he has been among the staunchest congressional supporters of the Federation's right-to-organize bill.
Two new affiliates -- the Hawaii Association of the Adult Blind and the Capitol Chapter of the NFB in Washington, D.C. -- were presented with charters of affiliation at the banquet.
The late Dr. Newel Perry, founder of the California Council of the Blind and long-time teacher at the California School for the Blind, was honored in a memorial address by Perry Sundquist, newly elected First Vice-President of the NFB and chief of Aid to the Blind in the California Department of Social Welfare.
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by John Nagle
(Editor's note: Mr. Nagle is chief of the Washington Office of the National Federation of the Blind.)
Some 26 bills stimulated and supported by the organized blind have been introduced in the present session of Congress -- 15 in the House and 11 in the Senate. Not all have had smooth sailing or a clear "passage,” but the 87th Congress has seen a number of definite advances in programs affecting the blind, together with promise of still greater progress in the near future.
The most concrete single accomplishment gained by the blind this year has come in the form of the Hartke Amendment to the Social Security Act, increasing the federal matching ceiling under Aid to the Blind from $65 to $66 and altering the sharing formula to require that the Federal Government pay four-fifths of the first $31 -- instead of the first $30, as before.
This legislative victory has resulted from cooperative efforts by Senator Vance Hartke of Indiana (concerned with the welfare of the blind) and Senator Long of Louisiana, long-time advocate of old-age benefits -- assisted in their case by representatives of the organized blind, who furnished arguments, statistics and supporting information.
The new provision goes into effect on October 1, 1961, and (as presently stipulated) will expire June 30, 1962.
As finally adopted, the new aid provision is a partial realization of two NFB bills, one sponsored by Congressman Cecil King of California and the other by Senator Hartke, designed to raise the amount of federal participation to four-fifths of $35, and to raise to $75 the federal matching ceiling in state blind-aid programs. It is notable that our victory has been gained over the objections of the Administration and in a non- election year. In addition to Congressman King and Senators Long and Hartke, Senator Kerr of Oklahoma is to be commended for his support in meetings of the joint conference committee.
Minimum Wages in Sheltered Shops
Again in this Congress, as in the one preceding, the grossly inadequate wages received by sheltered workshop employees had the attention of NFB representatives and became a subject of congressional concern.
The incorporation of a provision into the Administration's minimum- wage bill to cover physically handicapped workers in the sheltered shops was the objective of an intensive campaign -- with both House and Senate committee staff indicating approval of such a provision if the support of organized labor and of the Administration could be obtained.
Not only did representatives of the AFL-CIO express support of the measure; they joined actively in the legislative struggle and worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the organized blind to secure Administration approval.
Discussions were held with officials of the Labor Department, with members of President Kennedy's White House staff and other Administration representatives. Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, president of the NFB, came to Washington for conferences with Assistant Secretary Reynolds to enlist support for the bills embodying our provision.
Throughout the entire minimum-wage campaign, Congressman Walter Baring of Nevada and his administrative assistant, Tim Seward, gave valuable and needed assistance. Congressman Baring introduced the key bill (H. R. 5772) containing the wage provision, and led the fight for its passage.
When the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare reported out a minimum-wage bill, its report called attention vigorously and at length to subminimum wage conditions in sheltered workshops. Noting that present procedures allowing such wage rates obviously permit ready abuse at the expense of handicapped workers, particularly in the absence of a vigorous investigation and enforcement program,” the committee report urged that "more satisfactory standards" be enforced through present administrative machinery but declared significantly that if this is not done” the committee would hope to explore and develop formal statutory standards to assure adequate minimum wage protection for all handicapped persons."
Thus, for the first time in an official public document of Congress there is recognition that a serious wage problem exists in sheltered workshops. Congress has made very clear its concern with this problem and has given notice that it will take legislative action if suitable reforms are not carried out by the Department of Labor.
During the Senate debate on the minimum-wage bill, Senator Curtis of Nebraska offered an amendment designed to exempt religious and charitable organizations from protective provisions of the Federal Wage and Hour Law. He specifically named the Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries and the Lighthouse for the Blind. The Curtis proposal provoked a lively discussion, during which the proposal was described as "retrogressive" and Senator MacNamara of Michigan asserted that employees of such organizations deserve to be paid a living wage. The Curtis amendment was overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate by a voice vote.
This refusal of the Senate to exclude charitable organizations from the minimum-wage law adds force to the declaration of the Senate committee report that whether or not handicapped workers are employed by charitable groups they are entitled to a living wage and to protection of the federal law if they are engaged in interstate commerce.
NFB Legislative Program Before Congress
Fourteen separate bills, containing seven basic proposals, have been introduced with NFB support for the purpose of improving aid-to-the-blind programs under social security.
In the effort to gain approval of the new presidential Administration for our programs, NFB President tenBroek joined with Tim Seward and myself last March for a series of conferences with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, HEW Secretary Abraham Ribicoff, and (in the absence of Secretary Goldberg) Assistant Secretary of Labor Reynolds. The Attorney General in particular evinced great interest in our various proposals -- especially the "right-to-organize" bill which had twice been introduced in the Senate by his brother.
Congressman King and Senator Hartke, who were so instrumental in gaining the earned- income exemption increase in the last congressional session have again joined forces on behalf of the blind and have introduced five separate measures in each house to improve public assistance programs for the blind.
At this date the fate of these social security proposals is still in doubt. But it is fair to state that their success or failure hinges upon the extent to which the blind people of America, organized and unorganized, make their wishes known through letters and other direct appeals to their Congressmen. The key bills are these:
H. R. 5014 and S. 904, establishing equal minimum monthly payments for blind aid recipients; H. R. 5015 and S. 905, prohibiting the requirement that a relative contribute to support of a blind recipient; H. R. 5017 and S. 907 barring the imposition of liens or other requirements of reimbursement for aid lawfully received; H. R. 5018 and S. 908, requiring a $3,000 property exemption in determination of need as well as additional amounts for individuals with approved plans for self-support.
H. R. 5018, introduced by Congressman Baring, and S. 787, sponsored by Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, would effectively eliminate residence requirements in aid-to-blind laws, and so permit aided individuals to travel freely in search of opportunity without the loss of grants.
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by Russell Kletzing
(Editor’s note: This is a report by Russell Kletzing, President of the California Council of the Blind, to the clubs and individuals affiliated with the Council. This is more than a local document. It may well point the way to organizations of the blind all over the country. We are therefore publishing it in The Blind American.)
With the signing by the Governor of the last bills contained in the Council's legislative program, the 1961 legislative session reached for us a successful climax. Many have said that it was the most successful legislative session in the history of the Council, and that it probably is the most successful legislative year that any state has ever had. The reason for this success was you -- all of you who worked to make it so.
Box Score: 14 measures introduced for the Council -- 10 passed, 4 lost. Four bills supported by the Council benefiting needy children and the totally disabled all passed. Five groups of proposals that would curtail the rights of the blind -- all opposed successfully.
Right to Organize
The greatest single victory of this Legislature is clearly the passage of, and the signing by the Governor on July 12, of A. B. 169, our right-to-organize bill. It is significant that it was passed over the relentless opposition of both the powerful Department of Education (it administers the expenditure of more State money than any other department) and over the fanatic opposition of the ABC splinter group. This, more than any other single thing, makes it clear that the Council's once faltering prestige has now been reestablished. Dr. Perry used to say that when blind people were on both sides of a proposal, the Legislature would not adopt it. We have shown, however, that when a measure is basically right and fair, and the great majority of the blind people of California tell their legislators that it is a needed measure, it can be passed even though a few blind people oppose it.
The right-to-organize bill that was passed is stronger than that which we introduced in the 1959 session of the Legislature and stronger, through committee amendments, than it started out in this session.
It now prohibits coercion or attempted coercion by state officials in relation to joining organizations, and it applies not only to the blind, but to the aged and disabled. As signed by the Governor, A. B. 169 has added Section 8403 to the Government Code to read as follows: "No officer or employee of the State or any county, city and county, city, or district who is concerned with the administration of any program for the aged, blind or disabled shall, in his official capacity, attempt to coerce or coerce any aged, blind, or disabled person to join or refrain from joining any organization of the aged, blind, or disabled." The question has been raised whether our right-to-organize bill means anything -- whether it can be enforced. Under the provisions of Penal Code, Section 177, and Government Code, Section 1222, as construed in Adler v. City Council of the City of Culver City, 184 Cal. App. 2d 763 (i960), it is made clear that willful violation by a state official of rights guaranteed to the blind by A. B. 169 constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
Responsible Relatives -- Provisions Repealed
Since the first meetings of the Council in 1934, repeal of the responsible relative’s provision of the blind aid laws has been one of the most cherished goals of our organization. Year after year this bill has been introduced in the Legislature only to be bottled up in committee. At last in the 1961 session, absolute and complete repeal of relatives- responsibility provisions in both Aid to the Needy Blind and Aid to the Potentially Self-supporting Blind has been achieved.
We are tremendously indebted to Assemblyman Phillip Burton (author of A. B. 729 and A. B. 730) and Senator Richard Richards (author of S. B. 136) for helping us to obtain this second great victory. Although a very substantial liberalization was obtained for the Old Age Assistance program, relatives responsibility was not repealed there.
The repeal of responsible—relatives provisions brings our aid to the blind program one very significant step closer to the goal of being ideally suited to the encouragement of rehabilitation and self-support of recipients. It removes once and for all the stigma, humiliation, and loss of self-respect involved in the investigation and family strife created in the enforcement of the responsibility of relatives provisions, and thus removes a significant obstacle to the development of the incentive and drive to achieve full self-support.
Amount of Aid Grant
The amount of the grant for aid to the blind is increased in two bills, A. B. 269 by Assemblyman Joseph M. Kennick; and A. B. 658 by Assemblyman Edward F. Gaffney. A. B. 269 eliminates the $11 differential between those with and without outside income -- a differential that crept into the law in 1957. Since its inception, it has been extremely confusing and frequently highly inequitable.
In addition, A. B. 269 contained a really striking innovation in the determination of the amount to be granted. For the first time in any state, aid payments will automatically increase as the cost of living increases. This means that it will not be necessary to wait until the Legislature convenes (every two years) in order to obtain an increase--an increase that usually is needed merely to catch up with the inflationary spiral. Under the new formula, it will be adjusted by the State Social Welfare Board based on the average of the cost of living indices for San Francisco and Los Angeles, as prepared by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The automatic cost of living increase will be at least $3 per month starting January 1, 1962. In addition, an increase obtained through the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind will result in adding another 80 cents to the grant. This means that the minimum grant of aid in California has been increased from $104 to $119 a month for some recipients and from $115 to $119 for the remainder. Since the most we had realistically hoped for was a $5 increase, this indeed was a significant advance, especially in view of the other benefits and increases that were also obtained.
The fourth smashing legislation victory that the Council obtained was the "actual needs" bill, A. B. 658. It provides that in addition to the basic grant of $119 per month, another $50 is available to meet the actual needs of those that cannot exist on the minimum grant. It would, therefore, allow the meeting of actual needs to a total of $169 per month. Also, as the basic grant goes up with the cost of living, the $169 maximum will also go up.
The principle that the grant of aid should be a floor rather than a ceiling, and the actual needs of recipients should be met if they are more than the floor was first embodied in the state legislature in Nevada in 1955. In 1957 and 1959, the Council introduced similar proposals in the California Legislature. It is interesting to note that A. B. 658 follows very closely the pattern and even much of the language of one of the Council's bills in an earlier session. The State Social Welfare Board is now making a review of the coverage of the actual needs proposal.
The provisions concerning the amounts of real and personal property that can be held by a recipient have been completely revised and liberalized under the provisions of A. B. 1808 by Phillip Burton. These changes bring the property exemptions for ANB much closer to those in APSB, although in some cases the federal law makes more stringent limits necessary for ANB. Briefly, the changes are as follows: (1) Property used as a home is entirely exempt from consideration. The previous exemption was limited to property with an assessed valuation of $5,000 whether held separately or jointly by a husband and wife. Under the new provisions, personal property is also exempted, including such items as trailers and house boats. The home may be held jointly and may be a part of a multiple dwelling unit, such as a duplex or a fourplex, if the income from the other units is used to meet the needs of the aid recipient. (2) The real property exemption of $5,000 assessed value is retained. The income from the property must be used to meet the needs of the aid recipient. (3) The previous provisions allowed for a $1,200 exemption for personal property, or $2,000 for a couple, both of whom are receiving aid. A. B. 1808 retains these same limits, but provides that it may consist of real or personal property held to meet contingencies. (4) All personal jewelry, personal effects and furniture or similar items necessary to maintain a home continue to remain exempt. (5) A new exemption is granted without limits "for equipment and materials which are necessary to implement a rehabilitation or self- care plan for the applicant.” This represents a significant forward step.
A. B. 1808 does not apply to APSB recipients, because APSB is more liberal than is permitted by federal law. However, the features of 1808 that were more liberal than APSB were made applicable to it by means of Assemblyman Burton's bill, A. B.73 0.
Greatly Increased Medical Care
It has been clear for several years that the medical care program for aid recipients was under-financed, and during part of the time severe cutbacks in its coverage were necessary. Two years ago, the Council unsuccessfully sought to increase the state payments for medical care for blind aid recipients. A. B. 1066 by Vernon Kilpatrick will make this program one of the best in the country. It increases the contribution to the medical care pool from $6 per month for each recipient to $15 per month, thus allowing a vastly expanded program. Payments will be made for doctors' visits and calls, for nearly all drugs, for all necessary dental work including dentures, and for glasses, artificial eyes or limbs, and other prosthetic devices. In short, this program covers virtually all medical services except hospitalization. Younger aid recipients must still rely exclusively on county hospitals.
The other major advance in the medical field is contained in S. B. 325 by Joseph A. Rattigan. It provides Medical Assistance for the Aged -- those over 65. The MAA program covers blind persons whether they are receiving aid or not if they meet the other qualifications. These are that they must come within the property and income limits that are applicable for old age assistance, although recipients of old age assistance are not eligible since they are covered by another program. In addition to blind aid recipients who are over 65, those receiving social security or other smaller pensions will be eligible.
The program is designed to furnish very complete medical care for those who are eligible. Initially, however, it will be limited primarily to hospitalization and nursing home care for those who need long periods of such service -- thirty days or more. If finances permit, it will be expanded later.
Among the highly desirable features of the MAA program are that county hospitals, in which hospitalization is primarily authorized, are prohibited from acquiring liens against the recipient's property. Also, there is no residence requirement for receiving benefits under this program.
All of the social welfare bills just discussed takes effect on January 1, 1962.
Of course, we were not successful with every bill, although the percentage was phenomenally high. A. B. 170, our right-to-consult bill, was never set for hearing because we did not want to confuse the clear issue in our right-to-organize effort. A. B. 1518 and 1519, providing for aid increases, was also dropped in view of provisions of other bills. The bills that we fought for and lost were as follows: A. B. 176, that would have provided for a member of the staff of the Personnel Board to work full time on the placement of blind and other handicapped persons in State Civil Service jobs; A. B. 1274, that would have provided a system of licensing for the salesmen of blind -made products to be financed through the sale of seals issued by a state licensing board; A. B. 1508, that would have provided that all proceeds from vending machines in state buildings would go for the benefit of blind operators of vending stands; and our proposal to increase the budget of the Department of Education so that five additional home teacher counselors could be employed. It goes without saying that we will renew the struggle for these measures in subsequent sessions.
Holding the Line
In every legislative session, efforts are made to destroy what we have won previously -- to turn the tide of progress backward. On five occasions, it was necessary to martial our resources to fight such reactionary trends. In several of these situations, the danger was apparent before any bills were introduced, and we were able to make ourselves heard early enough so that no legislation was ever offered. Even before the legislative session began, the Department of Finance, the all powerful watchdog of the State Government, issued a report proposing the elimination of the Division for the Blind of the State Department of Social Welfare, and the scrambling of its functions with those of other aid categories. We successfully urged the Governor to squelch these proposals, pointing out the tremendous strides that had been made in California under the Division for the Blind and that it allowed administration of aid to the blind so as to encourage as much as possible the goal of self-support. No legislation was ever introduced to carry out the proposal.
A number of bills were introduced providing, to a greater or lesser degree, for studies looking toward the elimination of the different categories of aid and the scrambling of the law and administration governing them. By negotiations and by supporting administration bills, all of these threats were eliminated. A very significant threat from an unexpected source was also turned back. At the instance of the Department of Social Welfare, the Governor's program, as it was introduced, did not include automatic cost of living increases or actual needs provisions for APSB. All of the strength of the Council was mobilized to protect this invaluable program and the legislators quickly amended A. B. 269 and A. B. 658 to include APSB fully.
Early in the session there was doubt as to whether there would be sufficient funds available to rebuild the Oakland Orientation Center after the building now housing it was torn down to make way for a new freeway. The Council worked closely with the administrative officials working on this problem. Some ill-advised individuals in the Council sought to organize a letter-writing campaign to protect the Orientation Center, even though at the time its appropriation was not in jeopardy. The problem was satisfactorily worked out by the setting aside of highway funds in an amount sufficient to build a new and much better Orientation Center.
A number of bills were introduced providing for subsidies to private sheltered work shops. The Council did not oppose this generally, since we felt we could not speak for all handicapped persons. We did, however, obtain amendments to these bills providing that there would be no state subsidies to private workshops for the blind. We felt that any additional state funds should be utilized in the state-owned shops of the California Industries for the Blind. Our efforts in this respect were entirely successful.
How and Who
How did this phenomenally successful legislation come about? Who was responsible for it? Among the legislators, the greatest credit must go to Assemblymen Phillip Burton and Augustus Hawkins and Senator Richard Richards. All of these men fought tirelessly for our legislation. Assemblyman Phillip Burton, as Chairman of the powerful Assembly Social Welfare Committee, guided and planned the program in this area, and was consulted by the Governor in formulating his program. Assemblyman Hawkins, of course, carried our fight for the right-to-organize to a successful conclusion. Senator Richards not only introduced one of the responsible -relatives repeal bills, but also skillfully handled our right-to-organize bill from the floor of the Senate.
Despite the invaluable assistance of these legislators, the real credit for this legislative victory must go to you -- to you the leaders and members of the Council. It was your talks with your legislators, your letters and wires, your visits to the Legislature that did the trick. Let me quote here a letter I received from Assemblyman Burton only a day or two ago: "Dear Russ: Thank you for the kind words contained in your letter of recent date with reference to my efforts in the developing of an effective Social Welfare program. I should like to take this time to extend my deepest congratulations to you and the officers and members of the California Council for their effort and effective leadership in the development of our Social Welfare Program for this year. It would have been impossible to achieve the results obtained in the 1961 session without the support of the Council and those that it represents.
"The rank and file support received by the Council and their communicating with my colleagues in the Legislature was in great measure responsible for our success this session. I should like to pay particular tribute to Jack Fletcher whose patience and untiring effort was invaluable in the days and nights when the success of the Welfare program hung in the balance.
“I am looking forward to working with the California Council building on the progress that we made this year and developing an even finer program in the future.”
Our work which resulted so successfully started long before the legislative session began. We designated three items of our program concerning which we would talk to the assemblymen and senators from our home districts. Although participation in this program was far from complete, the chapters that followed through on it found it extremely interesting and successful. The three items that we discussed with the legislators at home were the right-to-organize bills, the repeal of the responsible-relatives provisions, and actual needs for aid recipients -- all of which were adopted by the Legislature. The pattern for the future is clear.
At the same time, your Council officers met with the Department of Education and the Department of Social Welfare so as to develop common positions on legislation. As is now well known, this resulted in the inclusion of most of our legislative proposals in the Governor's welfare program and largely assisted in obtaining its passage.
A great deal of credit must go to Jack Fletcher for his extremely effective MDrk in the Legislature. Also, a dozen Council members spent at least one day and several spent two or three days meeting with legislators in Sacramento to discuss our bills. It is apparent, of course, that our meetings with the legislators on the day before the convention were extremely successful, and that this should be repeated in future years. Approximately 40 Council members visited the legislators from their home districts, and later all of us met with the Governor.
Although our success has been history-making in character, there is still much to do. We must begin work to obtain passage of the measures that failed in the last session. We must continue to be vigilant, so that our new-found gains are not taken from us by reactionary legislation in the future. We should devote our attention to repealing residence requirements for aid to the blind and new legislation that will make vocational rehabilitation a really effective program for placing blind people in self-supporting jobs. The battles in the future will no doubt be just as hard fought as those we have just experienced. With an informed and energetic membership, the Council will continue to obtain legislation to improve the welfare of the blind of our State.
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New and constructive improvements in the state's program of Aid to the Blind were enacted in the spring session of the Oregon Legislature and signed into law by Governor Mark Hatfield on May 31. Specific advances embodied in the legislation include:
1. Recognition by the Legislature that the needs of blind people differ in kind and degree from those of any other group, and therefore that consideration must be given in Aid to the Blind to the peculiar needs incident to blindness;
2. Reduction of the state residence requirement from five to three years.
3. Provision to exempt from "personal property" requirements such items as clothing, furniture, household equipment, motor vehicles necessary for transportation, and personal jewelry;
4. A limit of $500 set for personal property for a single recipient of aid, or $1, 000 for a recipient and his spouse;
5. No limit placed on the value of real or personal property used as a home by the blind person, together with the provision that proceeds from the sale of a home are exempt if the retained amount is utilized within one year to provide a home;
6. A floor of $85 per month to Aid to the Blind, with provision for paying all special needs above $85 without limit (as opposed to the present budgetary determination of need as decided by the Administrator).
SUMMARY OF NEW STATE AID PROVISIONS
(Editor's note: The following partial list of state legislative enactments and proposals affecting the blind -- which is far from complete in its coverage -- is adapted from the July, 1961 issue of Public Welfare, Journal of the American Public Welfare Association.)
Arizona. Proposals were defeated that would have removed grant plus income maximums for one- or two-person households and that would have made it possible for the department of public welfare to waive residence requirements in hardship cases.
Indiana. Claims against the estate of a deceased AB recipient, having priority over any other claim, shall include prior recorded encumbrances, taxes, costs of administration and funeral expenses of not more than $350, according to a new law. The welfare department was prohibited from collecting interest on voluntary repayments of AB from a living or former recipient. The AB residence requirement was reduced from five to three years.
Iowa. The law was altered to define clearly that a recipient of AB moving from one county to another must be in continuous residence for six months before his case is transferred. Applicants for AB were given the same right of appeal to the courts from decisions of the state board of social welfare as recipients of other forms of aid.
Kansas. Funds were provided for a substantial addition to the Kansas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind. Funds were made available for the first time to provide library services for talking-books users.
Nevada. It was made possible for blind persons to apply for services to the blind and receive medical treatment to preserve or restore vision without applying for AB, although they must meet all AB residence and economic requirements.
New Hampshire. State funds for educational assistance to the blind now can be expended by the Board of Public Welfare, without requiring approval of the governor and council.
New York. Blind workers in civil service positions were given the same rights and preferences for retention upon abolishment of their positions as disabled veterans have.
Puerto Rico. A Rehabilitation Center for the Blind was established. $15,000 was made available for scholarships to be administered by the Department of Education for training blind people in specialized institutions, and $15,000 was made available for the Department of Health to finance a contract with the World Research Center for the Blind for training blind children and adults.
South Dakota. A $10,000 revolving fund was established for home industries sponsored by the Service to the Blind. Increased appropriations for Service to the Blind will permit hiring a staff member on prevention of blindness and as a pre-school counselor. A law was approved that gives preference to the purchase of services and goods manufactured or sold by blind persons.
Vermont. Exemption of AB recipients from poll taxes was approved. A bill on relative responsibility in determining AB eligibility was withdrawn after it was scheduled to receive an adverse report from the house social security committee.
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by Marshall Tucker
(Editor's Note: The Five-Year Report of the South Carolina Aurora Club of the Blind, Inc., a state affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, was delivered by President Marshall Tucker at the annual convention of the Aurora Club in Charleston last April. Because of its broad interest and pertinence as a graphic illustration of organized achievement by blind people through their own voluntary associations, portions of President Tucker's report are herewith reprinted. )
The South Carolina Aurora Club of the Blind has indeed justified its five-year life, displaying an enviable record of accomplishment attained with a minimum of resources and means. The outstanding successes of the Club during the past five years have been due to the leadership and dedication of its leaders and to the cooperation and ambition of its rank-and-file members.
Prior to the formation of the SCACB, little or no collective effort was made to educate the public concerning the capabilities of the blind as well as their real limitations. The Club's efforts to improve the relationship and understanding between the sighted public and the blind has been concentrated in personal appearances of speakers, in conventions, and in various publications. Greater public acceptance of the blind as they really are is thus being achieved slowly but surely.
Leaders of the Club at its inception recognized the need of sponsoring and supporting worthwhile and helpful legislation. Accordingly, Club leaders have appeared before legislative bodies, presenting at first hand the views of the blind themselves. It is felt that the blind must act as their own spokesmen, and must themselves bring their aspirations to the attention of legislatures as well as of the wider public.
While the promotion of public education and legislation has met with appreciable success, the Club has not limited its efforts to these fields. Recognizing that some blind individuals, because of insecurity and economic instability, frequently experience difficulty in securing loans, a special personal loan fund was established. This is the only fund of its type in the state, making possible interest-free loans which have benefited many blind persons.
Shortly after the formation of the SCACB in 1956, the members voted to affiliate with the National Federation of the Blind, the only national organization of the civilian blind. The newly formed state organization felt the need for associating itself with the national body, just as local Lions Clubs all over the world make up Lions International.
Our state organization had a very modest if not humble beginning. In April, 1956, some 70 persons assembled in Columbia for the election of state officers and directors. The new state organization was in many respects on trial from the standpoint of the well-established institutions and agencies doing work for the blind. Acceptance was slow; but today we are proud to have become a full-fledged and respected member of this family.
In July of 1956, the new Aurora Club president, Donald Capps, represented us along with others at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind in San Francisco. During this convention our organization received its charter of affiliation with the NFB.
The year 1957 was a highly successful one for the Club. In January a new world opened up for Archie Nunnery because of the Club's efforts. Leaders and friends of the Club were successful in securing a long- sought location in the Richland County Courthouse in Columbia for a concession stand. The business venture was financed by a loan to the Club for Ways and Means for the Blind. Archie Nunnery, now in his fifth year at the stand, has operated it superbly. He has enjoyed being an independent businessman and has served the Club well as an ambassador of good will.
During the 1957 term of the State General Assembly, a bill sponsored by the Club was introduced which provided for an extra exemption for the blind on their state income taxes. This was the first legislative effort of the Club. Since the bill was introduced late in the session, it was not acted upon immediately. But in the following year the bill was given a hearing by the appropriate legislative committee, with Club leaders appearing in its behalf. In 1958, the measure was passed by both houses and signed into law by the governor.
In April, 1957, a most successful state convention was held in Charleston. It marked the first time in South Carolina that a state -wide organization of the blind had held a convention at a commercial hotel.
In May of that year the Club participated in National White Cane Week or the first time. The venture was a successful one, with the organization realizing $1, 000 in profits from its initial campaign.
1958 was another good year for the Aurora Club. It had now stabilized itself and was clearly on its way to becoming a real instrument of effective action for the blind citizens for the state. Among other things, the Club enjoyed another successful White Cane Week.
October, 1958 is a memorable month for many of us, but most especially for Lois Bolton; for it was the beginning of what was to become nationally known as the "Lois Bolton story.” After more than two years of planning, Lois decided to enter Braille switchboard training, and enrolled at the Minneapolis Society for the Blind.
Running true to form, Lois completed the training in record-breaking time. The Club made the arrangements for Lois to enter the Minneapolis school and assisted her financially. The climax of the story was deferred until the following year, when after six months of diligent preliminary work, Lois was employed as the state's first Braille switchboard operator, in a Columbia store.
Meanwhile, 1959 was to be a banner year for the Aurora Club on other fronts. During its first three years it had received considerable publicity through the news media, as well as through its own publications and national periodicals. Its prestige was growing by leaps and bounds. Perhaps our most successful convention was that held in Columbia in April, 1959, probably the largest gathering of the blind in the state's history. Ken Jernigan, director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind and then First Vice President of the NFB, was the convention banquet speaker. The Club's annual service award was presented to its real friend and ally, Dr. W. Laurens Walker, superintendent of the state school for the deaf and blind.
The Club again enjoyed legislative success in 1959, with the General Assembly approving a concurrent resolution to the effect that the state's vending- stand law is mandatory rather than permissive with respect to giving the blind first consideration for concession rights in all state-supported buildings and parks.
In July, 1959, our state president, Donald Capps, was elected Second Vice President of the NFB during the national convention at Santa Fe, New Mexico. During the convention, President Capps, acting on behalf of Hubert E. Smith of Ways and Means for the Blind, presented a $1,000 bond to the NFB's endowment fund.
The Club's year was closed out on a highly successful note. Just before the new year the Legislative Committee of the SCACB appeared before the Ways and Means Committee of the State House of Representatives, seeking an increased appropriation for aid to the needy blind. During the 1960 legislative term, our efforts were rewarded with an appropriation of $250,000 -- exactly $26,000 more than had been requested by the state director for aid to the blind. This was a clear-cut demonstration of the blind helping themselves, with the Aurora Club leading the way. The additional appropriation resulted in an increase to all recipients of aid to the needy blind.
Greenville was the site of our highly successful 1960 state convention. The banquet speaker was John W. Taylor, assistant director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind and formerly Washington representative of the NFB (subsequently to be elected as First Vice President). Marshall Tucker succeeded Donald Capps as president of the SCACB. As in previous years, the 1960 White Cane Week campaign was a resounding success, with profits again topping the $1,000 mark.
This brings us to the 1961 season, which has begun with a rush. January 31, 1961 was a red-letter day for the Club. On this date our Legislative Committee appeared before the Ways and Means Committee of the State House of Representatives to request an appropriation of $300,000 for aid to the needy blind. This amount was $50,000 in excess of what had been requested by State Director Arthur B. Rivers. Furthermore, we believe it is the largest amount ever requested by the South Carolina blind themselves. At this writing, much to our delight and pride, both the House and Senate have approved our request in full.
Hundreds, even thousands, of personal kindnesses and services of one member to another have had to be omitted from this report. However, these individual actions have been as effective as any other factor in the over-all success of our beloved organization. May we all work and strive for even greater success during the next five years and for all the years to come. With God's help and with our fine membership, we shall not fail.
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Aurora Club Presents Donald C. Capps Award: The first annual Donald C. Capps Award of South Carolina's Aurora Club (see "South Carolina Story," above) was presented this year to John L. Cooley of Spartanburg at ceremonies accompanying the annual state convention of the Aurora Club. As reported in the Palmetto Auroran (May 1961), Club President Marshall Tucker made the following significant remarks concerning the newly established award:
"I cannot say enough for the man for whom the award was named. During the four years in which Mr. Capps was president of the SCACB, an extremely high standard of leadership prevailed. . . The blind of South Carolina recognize fully the need of such vigorous and dedicated leadership, and it is indeed fitting that a man like Mr. Hubert E. Smith of Augusta, Georgia, should wish to honor the possessor of such characteristics.
"At the January meeting of our Executive Committee and Board of Directors, Mr. Marvin Derrick presented a most generous and timely offer. Mr. Hubert E. Smith, President of Ways and Means for the Blind of Augusta, Georgia, wanted to make available to the SCACB a cash gift of $50 for the purpose of giving an award to the most outstanding person in South Carolina doing work for the blind. Needless to say, the Board members accepted this offer with heartfelt gratitude. . .
"It is appropriate that Mr. John L. Cooley should receive the first annual Donald C. Capps award. Mr. Cooley's devotion to the Club is in itself most inspirational. He has missed only four meetings of the Spartanburg Chapter in ten years. Mr. Cooley is a veritable storehouse of information, and he has put this information to use in such activities as the chairmanship of the White Cane Week Committee, authorship of the pamphlet 'What is the SCACB,' and writing spot announcements concerning blindness for radio use. Space does not permit full information concerning Mr. Cooley's individual acts of kindness in behalf of his fellow blind, but they are indeed many ..."
1961 Social Security Amendments: President Kennedy has signed into law the Social Security Amendments of 1961, which include the following additions to the existing program: (1) Increase for nine months commencing October 1, 1961, Federal contribution to Aid to the Blind, Old Age Assistance and Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled. States paying average monthly benefits of $66 will receive an additional 80 cents per month per recipient on these programs. The Federal share of 4/5 will be increased one dollar to include the first $31. The matching ceiling was also raised one dollar to $66. (2) Liberalize the earned-income limitation of retired persons. Currently, a retired person may receive his full benefit if his income does not exceed $1,200. For the next $300 earned his benefit is reduced on a 50-50 basis. The amendment increases this to $500 before the dollar for dollar reduction ensues. (3) Extend for two years the election of coverage by state and local employees who did not elect coverage previously. (4) Advance to 1962 the increased tax rate of 1/8 of 1 per cent each for employees and employers and by 3/16 of 1 per cent for the self-employed.
Kennedy Cites Two Blind Students (from The Lutheran Companion, June 14, 1961):
"I just felt so humbly privileged to be sitting there, " said Cheryl Martin, a blind Lutheran college student, after receiving $500 from President John F. Kennedy.
"Miss Martin, 22, of Mansfield, Ohio, and Miss Helen Aareskjold, 22, of Brooklyn, New York, also Lutheran, were two of three blind graduating college students selected for the $500 awards given by Recordings for the Blind, Inc.
"They are excellent examples for all Americans," President Kennedy said, "and I am happy to have them here." . . .
"The award winners represented over 2,000 blind collegians and students in adult education throughout the nation who are aided in their studies by recorded textbooks provided free by the non-profit organization which records educational materials only.”
Blind Californian Routs Thief
(from the Oakland, California Tribune July 17, 1961):
"Stanley Zecker, 52, had the advantage over the burglar
"Darkness makes no difference to him. He is blind.
"Zecker was reading in bed early Sunday morning at 1110 Francisco St. He was reading Braille. No lights were on.
"When he heard a noise in his kitchen he got up to investigate. He bumped into a small desk and realized it had been moved from its accustomed place.
"Reaching out his hands he felt the head of a man who apparently had started in through a window.
"What are you doing here?" Zecker exclaimed.
"He hit the man on the head with his fist.
"The would-be burglar fled.”
State Welfare Board Scores Newburgh Plan. (The following item appeared in From the State Capitols, a journal of legislative analysis, issue of August 1, 1961)
New York: A resolution adopted by the New York State Board of Social Welfare, meeting in Saranac Lake, requested State Attorney General Louis J. Lefkowitz to take legal action seeking to prevent the city of Newburgh from enforcing its widely publicized new welfare code.
The board contended many provisions of the 13-point Newburgh program, ordered into effect July 15, are illegal. It expressed belief that their unchallenged application would endanger federal welfare grants of $200 million to New York State this year.
Under the Newburgh plan, unwed mothers who have additional children will be stricken from relief rolls. Relief recipients, except the disabled, blind and aged, will be limited to three months' aid per year. No family's relief check will be higher than the take-home pay of the lowest paid city employee with a similar-sized family.
The board earlier adopted another resolution approving action taken by its executive committee in directing Newburgh city officials not to put the code into effect. That directive was disregarded by Newburgh.
The board also issued a statement characterizing certain portions of the Newburgh code as "inhuman and indecent.” It said most of the 13 points were illegal and the rest unnecessary.
"We especially deplore," it said, "the spectacle of public officials' threatening to violate the laws they swore to administer and publicizing the program of violations they intend to carry out and the devices they propose to use to deny certain citizens their constitutional rights -- and receiving support from certain sources.
"The social welfare laws of this state have evolved over the years and reflect the cumulative wisdom and experience of successive legislatures and the wishes of the constituencies they represent. The legislative history of the law, with the annual amendments and changes suggested by this board and its department, illustrates our concern that the law be responsive to public demand for improvement.
"Every citizen has the right to seek changes in the law. No citizen, however, has the right to encourage or advocate breaking the law. "
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(Editor's note: The following article is reprinted in its entirety from the Arizona Republic, August 4, 196L)
The state welfare commissioner yesterday recommended that Arizona reject federal funds for the blind.
To continue getting the federal aid after June, 1962, Commissioner Fen Hildreth told the state welfare board, Arizona would have to comply with a federal requirement that increased federal-state welfare payments be extended to blind persons with substantial private income.
Hildreth's recommendation met immediate resistance from one welfare board member, Dix Price of Phoenix, and from Joseph R. Morrell, Jr., San Francisco, a regional representative of the U. S. Bureau of Public Assistance.
Morrell, an onlooker at the welfare board meeting, said: "We hate to see any regression in these programs.”
Price asserted that Hildreth's recommendation raised a delicate "philosophic point" likely to be seized upon by persons who would like to see all federal aid programs eliminated from Arizona.
Hildreth replied he is not opposed to all federal aid. He said he believes it has a proper place in some welfare programs, such as aid to dependent children and old age assistance.
But going along with the federal-aid program for the blind would cost Arizona an additional $60,000 to $70,000 a year, Hildreth estimated. He added that this would establish "a public assistance subsidy to a special class of employed handicapped citizens which is not extended to other handicapped citizens."
Heretofore, Hildreth explained, persons receiving aid to the blind have been allowed to earn up to $50 a month without a corresponding reduction in their welfare grants. Hildreth said this exemption of the first $50 of earned income is a worthwhile incentive to employment of the blind.
But recent federal legislation increased the exemption to the first $85 of earned income plus half of all additional earned income, Hildreth reported.
This would require Arizona to increase its present grants to some employed blind persons and extend grants to some self-supporting blind persons not now on welfare rolls, Hildreth said.
By rejecting federal funds for the blind, he added, Arizona could retain the $50 exemption and continue maximum monthly grants of $90 to aid to the blind cases. The additional annual cost to the state would be $30,000, compared with $60,000 to $70,000 under the federal program, Hildreth said.
He said the following steps, subject to enabling legislation, would be necessary.
1. Transfer of aid to the blind cases eligible for federal-aid old age assistance to old age assistance rolls, where their $80 monthly old age grants could be augmented with $10 a month in state money. (This would care for about 81 per cent of Arizona's 866 aid to the blind cases.)
2. Appropriation of straight state funds at a maximum rate of $90 a month for the remaining 19 per cent of Arizona aid to the blind cases not eligible for old age assistance.
The latter group includes 35 reservation Indians. If the legislature did not see fit to alter its present policy against extending straight state aid to reservation Indians, the 35 would have to seek support from the U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Hildreth said.
"The Bureau of Public Assistance would be quite unhappy to see even a small group disadvantaged,” said Morrell.
In reply to a statement by Hildreth that the blind are a well-organized special interest group which exerts heavy pressure on Congress and will do the same to state officials, Price said:
"I for one believe in supporting Congress once it has acted. . . Without federal aid, we won't have a welfare program."
On Price's motion, the welfare board agreed to confer with its advisory board on the blind before acting on Hildreth's recommendation.
Hildreth also told the welfare board he probably will recommend a slight increase in October in general relief grants direct from state funds, even at the risk of requiring a supplemental appropriation from the legislature.
Hildreth said April, May and June cuts in direct relief grants were not fully restored when the new fiscal year began July 1, and some hard-ship seems to have resulted.
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(Editor's note: In view of the disparaging statements made by Arizona's Commissioner of Welfare with reference to the newly enacted federal provision for increased exemptions of earned income--see article above--it should be of interest to compare these statements with the expressed opinion of the organized blind themselves. Following is an extract from testimony submitted at hearings of the United States Senate Finance Committee, June 30, 1960, by John Nagle, chief of the Washington office of the National Federation of the Blind.)
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is John F. Nagle. I am the representative of the National Federation of the Blind in Washington. According to figures contained in the May-June Social Security Bulletin, a publication of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, there were 108, 644 blind aid recipients in the United States in February of this year.
How many of these men and women, though blind, though able and willing to work, will be on public assistance the rest of their lives?
How many of them, physically able to work, filled with the overwhelming desire to work, must continue on the public aid rolls because they must eat, must feed their families, because they lack the opportunity to work, are denied the incentive and the encouragement to work?
We of the National Federation of the Blind believe that at least one quarter of these people and perhaps more could and should be working; could be and should be earning their living, supporting themselves and their families contributing by their tax paid dollars to assist in meeting the needs of those less fortunate than themselves -- those physically unable to work.
Mr. Chairman, the bill S. 3449 -- introduced into the Senate by Hon. Vance Hartke, of Indiana, a member of this committee, and cosponsored by Hon. Paul Douglas, of Illinois, also a member of this committee, and 15 other distinguished members of the Senate -- this bill, S. 3449,would amend title X of the Social Security Act so as to make of this title, the blind aid section of the social security law, a means by which those dependent upon public aid may work their way off public aid and into employment and economic self-sufficiency.
Although I urge that all provisions of this bill be adopted by your committee as amendments to the social security law, I particularly urge that you adopt the first portion of S. 3449 which would exempt $1,000 plus 50 percent of the yearly net earned income of a blind aid recipient from meeting his living expenses.
Why do this?
Why shouldn't every cent a blind aid recipient earns be used by him to live on, and if he doesn't have enough, then the difference be met by a public assistance grant?
Why treat needy blind persons different from other aid categories?
The answer is a simple one: Because blindness can strike at any time in a person's life, when he is old and infirmed or when he is young and vigorous and prepared to meet head on the challenges of life, because many blind persons have an employment potential, and if given the opportunity and the encouragement will transform this work potential into wages and salaries.
This very committee recognized the significance of this difference when it includes the exempt earnings concept in its amendments to title X of the Social Security Act in 1950.
Senator George, then chairman of this committee, recognized this difference by his stanch support of the exempt earnings principle in 1950 and because of this support, because of the enlightened leadership given by this man it became a part of the social security amendments enacted into law in that year, and this, in spite of the refusal of the House originally to accept this principle, in spite of the active and vigorous opposition of the administration to the inclusion of the exempt earnings principle into the law.
I would like to read briefly from the report of this committee made in 1950 with reference to H. R. 6000:
Under title X of the Social Security Act the States are required, in determining the need for assistance, to take into account the income and resources of claimants of aid to the blind. Your committee believes this requirement stifles incentive and discourages the needy blind from becoming self-supporting and that therefore it should be replaced by a requirement that would assist blind individuals in becoming self-supporting and that therefore it should be replaced by a requirement that would assist blind individuals in becoming useful and productive members of their communities. Accordingly the committee-approved bill would require all States administering federally approved aid to the blind programs to disregard earned income up to $50 per month of claimants of aid to the blind.
Aid to the needy blind, in the judgment of your committee, is not in the same category with assistance programs for other needy individuals. Opportunities for gainful employment for blind individuals are limited and their necessary expenditures are increased by the need for special books, for special medical treatment in some cases, and for guide service and readers. As with concessions and special provisions for the blind in other laws, the exemption of earnings up to $50 is not regarded by your committee as a precedent for similar treatment for individuals who are not blind.
For 10 years, the earned income concept has been in operation in the Federal-State aid to the blind programs -- but as the years have passed, as costs of living have soared higher and ever higher, the $50 monthly limit on exempt earned income has decreased in value as means by which a man may cross over from dependence to independence.
More and more this provision has become a tantalizing symbol of the good intentions of a day long since passed; it has become a symbol to the ambitious blind person of the futility of effort, a mockery of his struggle for economic self-sufficiency, and a steel-jawed trap for the profits of his labors -- for each dollar he earns above $12 a week reduced his aid grant by that amount.
Though he works steadily and tirelessly in a profession or business, trade, or common calling, to acquire stability and solvency in his endeavors, he is stifled by the restrictiveness of the $50 monthly limit placed upon his earnings -- and though he may work hard and long, though he may sacrifice, struggle, and strive, he is like a man on a treadmill, going round and round in the same small circle: If he earns more than $12 a week, his aid check is reduced by the amount of the excess; but to get established in his small variety store, in his backyard chicken business, he needs far more than $50 a month and to prosper in his small store or business he needs more than this amount.
Thus, however much he may try, he remains permanently on public assistance, courageously, stubbornly, trying to work his way off, but never quite succeeding, and finally he has no more heart for the uneven struggle and one more chance is lost to return a man to the normal productive channels of community life .
Mr. Chairman, I urge you and the members of this committee not to abandon the work so finely begun in 1950 -- the conversion of the aid to the blind title from a program offering bare subsistence, to a program by which men who are blind, who are in need of financial help, may receive help in their valiant efforts to rebuild their lives.
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by Perry Sundquist
(Editor's note: The best possible rebuttal to the foregoing attack by Arizona's welfare commissioner, in the opinion of many, is the strikingly successful record of California's special program of Aid to the Partially Self-Supporting Blind. A state-financed project marked by unusually liberal exemptions of income and property in the interest of full self-support, the California program furnishes concrete and irrefutable evidence of the fallacy contained in the argument of Commissioner Hildreth. Following is a statement submitted to the Senate Committee on Finance of the United States Congress (as printed in The Congressional Record, June 30, I960) by Perry Sundquist, Chief of the Division for the Blind, California Department of Social Welfare.)
I. Purpose of California's Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents Statute.
California has two public assistance programs for the blind -- Aid to Needy Blind and Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents. The Aid to Needy Blind program was enacted by the Legislature in 1929. In March 1960, there were 13,486 recipients receiving Aid to Needy Blind and the average grant was $100.32, excluding Medical Care.
The Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents statute was enacted by the Legislature effective July 1, 1941, and in March of 1960 the statewide caseload was 302 and the average grant was $114.41. This second program of public assistance for the blind in this state, which is distinct from the older category of Aid to Needy Blind, resulted clearly from recognition on the part of the Legislature of the fact that relief from the distress of poverty alone is not sufficient for those blind persons who wish to have an opportunity to achieve self-support.
The constructive purposes of the Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents law are eloquently set forth in Section 3400 of the Statute: "The purpose of this chapter is to provide a plan for this State whereby the blind residents of this State may be encouraged to take advantage of and to enlarge their economic opportunities, to the end that they may render themselves independent of public assistance and become entirely self-supporting. To achieve this objective, resources and income beyond the necessities of bare decency and subsistence are required. This chapter, by allowing the retention of necessary income and resources by those of the blind showing a reasonable probability of being able and willing to undertake the acquisition of resources and income necessary for self-support will encourage them in their efforts to become self-supporting." This program is financed entirely by the state and county government since the Federal Government will not participate because of the liberal provisions for exempt income and property in the statute. The rehabilitative aspects of the program, however, seemed ample recompense for loss of Federal funds.
In Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents the eligibility requirements are the same as for the federally-reimbursed Aid to Needy Blind program, except that: (1) a maximum of $1,200 a year of net income from all sources is allowed without deduction from the maximum monthly grant of $115 a month, plus 50% of all net income above 1,200; (2) a maximum of $5,000 in assessed value of real and/or personal property, less encumbrances, is allowed together with an additional $5,000 in such property if needed as an integral part of the plan for self-support; and (3) the recipient of Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents must have a reasonably adequate plan for self-support and must give evidence that he is attempting to carry out that plan through a sincere and sustained effort.
II. Operation and Results of the Program:
Since the Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents program began in 1941, the State Social Welfare Board has provided two criteria for eligibility in addition to the usual requirements with respect to property, income, degree of blindness, etc. The criteria are (1) a reasonably adequate plan which may lead to self-support; and (2) a sincere and sustained effort to further that plan. Evaluation of a plan for self-support by the county social worker is, of necessity, anticipatory in nature if the individual is just embarking on a plan the adequacy of which can only become apparent with the passage of time. However, reevaluation of a current plan for self-support is usually slanted toward its success as shown by progress made toward achieving self-support. Experience has indicated that even though originally a plan may have been subject to some question, the encouragement given the blind person often leads him to more satisfactory results than originally appeared possible. The amount of money earned by an individual is only one factor in determining adequacy of a plan. It is the probability of future earnings sufficient for self-support which is a more final determinant. It is important to consider the length of time a given plan has been in effect. However, a plan which requires a long period of preparation and training may be acceptable even though it may not produce immediate income, as for example, university training which experience has proved to be perhaps the best type of plan for self-support of all.
Whenever a blind person is a recipient of Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents, or applies for aid under the program, it is crucial that a very thorough and intensive and individual examination be made of his particular situation. It is, of course, up to the blind person himself -- with such help, consultation and advice as he can secure -- to determine his own plan which he hopes will lead him to self-support. But whether the plan is one which is likely to eventuate in complete self-support or not, is a matter of his judgment and the judgment of the county social worker and the employer. In order to make this judgment a sound one, it is indispensable that a very intensive examination be made of the individual situation. It is not simply enough to say, if a blind man wants to go into a certain occupation that that occupation is one in which few blind persons have succeeded. It very well could be an occupation in which that particular individual can succeed. This is the clear-cut illustration which is most sharply made by a case like that of Dr. Richard Wilburn. Dr. Wilburn is a blind man, totally blind, who is a successful experimental chemist. If he had offered as a plan for self-support going to a university and becoming a chemist, in all likelihood most persons might have said that this was not a plan likely to lead to self-support, but this would be a generalized conclusion about a plan and in this area it is extremely important to avoid generalized conclusions. As a matter of fact, someone who examined Dr. Wilburn's talents and his individual situation might very well have concluded that his was a good plan even before he demonstrated that it was by succeeding at it.
In 1955 the department prepared for and submitted to the Legislative Auditor a study of the Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents program. In that study a comparison was made of the caseload as of December 1950, June 1953, and September 1954. Since December 1950, an Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents program has been administered with increasing emphasis on demonstrated progress in the achievement of self-support by recipients and transfer to Aid to Needy Blind of those who did not meet this criterion, or who could not develop a more adequate plan. The result has been a progressive reduction in caseload, but also a caseload of much greater potentiality for eventual self-support.
This study also showed an increase in the number of students aided by the Aid to Partially Self-Supporting Blind Residents program, both numerically and proportionately. It should be noted again that this group of recipients (students) is known to have a much higher potential for eventual self-support than any other group.
The substantial success of this department and of the counties in weeding out recipients with low potential for self-support from the Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents program was made very apparent by the tabular material included in this study. The number of recipients with annual earnings of less than $100 declined from 21. 6% in December 1950 to 5. 3% in September 1954. The number with annual earnings of less than $600 declined from 71. 6% in December 1950 to 32. 6% in September 1954. On the other hand, only 5. 6% of the recipients had earnings of $1,000 or more in December 1950, compared to 25.7% in September 1954. Median earnings reported in December 1950 report were about $380, in June 1953 about $740, and in September 1954 about $820.
By December 31, 1947 -- six and one-half years after the program began --a total of 847 blind men and women had been granted aid under the Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents statute. There were 173 of these individuals, or approximately 20%, who had become self-supporting.
As of June 30, 1949 -- after eight years of operation of the program -- 933 different blind men and women had been granted aid under the program. There were 316 persons, or almost 32% of the total who had achieved self-support for periods of time varying from several months to permanent self-maintenance.
During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1953, almost 25% of all cases discontinued were due to income from earnings of the individual.
During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1954, a total of 173 recipients of Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents had their aid discontinued for various reasons, and 32% of these number were discontinued because of earnings.
During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1955 a total of 155 recipients of Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents were discontinued, 49.1% because of earnings.
During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1956, a total of 137 recipients were discontinued for all causes. Of this number, 33% were discontinued because of earnings. Stated in another way, there were 46 persons discontinued due to earnings. Since the state-wide caseload during that fiscal year was 391 cases, this means that almost 12% were discontinued because of earnings.
During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1957, 11.5% of all Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents cases became self-supporting for periods of time varying from several months to presumably complete self-maintenance. During the calendar year of 1958 a total of 174 recipients of Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents were discontinued for all causes. Of this total, 30% were discontinued because of earnings. Some of these will have their aid restored while others have achieved permanent self-support. The rehabilitative values of the Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents program can be seen by comparison with the results under Aid to Needy Blind. During this same period only 2% of all discontinuances were due to the earnings of the recipient.
In other words, during the calendar year of 1958 some 52 recipients of Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents were discontinued because of earnings. This means that over 17% of the caseload achieved self-support for varying periods of time. It should be noted that for every recipient under the program who achieves permanent self-maintenance, there is a saving in public funds of approximately $1,475 for every year. Thus, if 52 blind persons achieved full self- support during the calendar year 1958 (and some of these may have reapplied after several months) it would mean an annual saving in public assistance funds of over $76,000.
III. Summary and Conclusions
The number of recipients under Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents who have achieved full self-support during the past 19 years is most encouraging and constitutes a tribute to the courage of these blind persons. We do not feel that this happy result could possibly have been achieved under the small amounts of exempt income and property permitted under the Aid to Needy Blind program. This is particularly true in those many instances where the blind recipient moves gradually toward full self-support through the practice of a trade or profession or operation of a business or agricultural enterprise.
One of the basic objectives in the Social Welfare Programs for the Blind in California is to assist blind persons to decrease dependency in all of its many forms. Self-Support and self-care have recently been incorporated in Title X of the Federal Social Security Act as basic objectives of Aid to the Blind. The provision of liberal exemptions of earned income and property ownership under the Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind Residents statute have undoubtedly been powerful incentives to many blind men and women in their quest for economic independence since 1941. If the self-support objective of Title X is to become at all meaningful, far more liberal exemptions of income and property must be permitted by the Federal Government in the States' Aid to Needy Blind programs.
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(Editor's Note: The following account is adapted from the Washington Bulletin, August 7, 1961. It should be noted that the new Ad Hoc Committee on Welfare, presumably national in scope, contains no members whatsoever from the western two-thirds of the nation.)
Secretary of HEW Abraham Ribicoff has formally announced his appointment of the Ad Hoc Committee on Welfare whose function is "to appraise and make recommendations on all of the Welfare programs in the Department of HEW.
"This review in the Welfare field is part of a General Department Survey being made by the Secretary, previously reported in testimony before Congress and in speeches.
"All members of the Committee are persons of unusual experience and competence in the Welfare field. They are appointed as individuals and not for their affiliations."
Chairing the Committee is Sanford Solender, Executive Director of the National Jewish Welfare Board. The Committee has already had several meetings and has employed Wayne Vasey, Dean of the Graduate School of Social Work, Rutgers University to assist in the preparation of discussion materials. It is anticipated that a report will be made in the fall.
The Committee members are: Secretary: Mr. Harleigh Trecker, Dean, School of Social Work, University of Connecticut, Hartford; Mr. Joseph P. Anderson, Executive Director , National Assn. of Social Workers, New York; Mr. Philip Bernstein, Executive Director, Council of Jewish Federation & Welfare Funds, New York; Mr. Clark W. Blackburn, General Director, Family Service Assn. of America, New York; Mr. Robert Bondy, Director, National Social Welfare Assembly, New York; Mr. Rudolph T. Danstedt, Director, Washington Branch, National Assn. of Social Workers, Washington, D. C.; Mr. Fred DelliQuadri, Dean, New York School of Social Work, New York; Mr. James Dumpson, Comm. of Welfare, Department of Welfare, New York; Miss Loula Dunn, Director, American Public Welfare Assn. , Chicago; Mr. Fedele Fauri, Dean, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Very Rev. Msgr. Raymond Gallagher, Director of Youth Services, Diocesan Catholic Charities, Cleveland, Ohio; Miss Dorothy Haight, Y.W.C.A., New York; Mr. Raleigh C. Hobson, Director, City Dept. of Public Welfare, Richmond, Va.; Mrs. Trude Lash, Executive Director, Citizens' Committee for Children of New York City, New York; Mr. Norman V. Lourie, Deputy Sec'y, State Department of Public Welfare, Harrisburg, Pa.; Judge Justine W. Polier, 175 East 64th St., New York; Mr. Joseph H. Reid, Exec. Director, Child Welfare League of America, New York; Mrs. Pauline Ryman, Director, Social Service Dept. , Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit; Mr. John W. Tramburg, Commissioner, Dept. of Institutions and Agencies, Trenton, New Jersey; Dr. William J. Villaume, Exec. Director, Dept. of Social Welfare, National Council of Churches, New York; Dr. Ellen B. Winston, Commissioner, State Board of Public Welfare, Raleigh, N.C.; Dr. Ernest Witte, Exec. Director, Council
on Social Work Education, New York; Mr. Whitney Young , Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek
(Editor's Note: The following is taken from the Congressional Record, May 24, 1961. Dr. tenBroek's address, dealing with the increasing encroachment of the law of crimes on the field of welfare and the resulting dangers, is of interest to all blind people. Dr. tenBroek, who resigned as president of the National Federation of the Blind in July, 1961, has been president of the American Brotherhood for the Blind since 1945.)
(Not printed at Government expense)
United States of America
PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OE THE CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION
The Law of Crimes and the Law of Welfare
REMARKS OF HON. WALTER S. BARING OF NEVADA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Wednesday, May 24, 1961
Mr. BARING. Mr. Speaker, recently there has come to my attention an address entitled "The Law of Crimes and the Law of Welfare," delivered by Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, on February 7, 1961, before a meeting of region 2 of the California Social Welfare Workers Organization.
Dr. tenBroek, scholar and author, college administrator and college professor, nationally known authority both on constitutional law and social welfare — this man, though blind since the age of 14 — is not alone a distinguished citizen of California, he is truly a great and distinguished American.
With five earned degrees in the fields of political science and law, principal author of three major works — the most recent of which is "Hope Deferred, Public Welfare and the Blind" — and more than 60 monographs and articles on social and legal problems of our times, and for more than 10 years a member of California's Board of Social Welfare — Dr. tenBroek is eminently qualified to discuss the subject of his address: the law of crimes and the law of welfare.
It is my belief that the social welfare programs of California are the finest in the Nation due in no small measure to the contribution this man has made in the formulation of policies as a member, and now chairman, of the California Social Welfare Board.
Believing that programs of social welfare should provide not only for the merest bodily needs of society's disadvantaged citizens, but that such programs should offer means and a way toward helping these unfortunate people--circumstances beyond their control — to return to full and equal participation in the life of their community — this remarkable man has worked tirelessly to translate his enlightened social philosophy into laws, policies and programs not only in California but also throughout the Nation.
Dr. tenBroek's keen understanding and limitless labors have not been confined by the borders of our native State. Leader, and principal founder, of the National Federation of the Blind — the largest nationwide organization with a membership primarily of blind people — Dr. tenBroek, only president of the National Federation of the Blind since its founding in 1940, has appeared before legislative committees in many States, and, for the past 20 years, has become a familiar and highly respected witness before committees of the Congress as he has spoken in support of legislative proposals which would repudiate the social welfare concepts inherited from the Elizabethan poor laws and replace them with the enlightened social thinking of our own day and time.
The address follows:
The Law of Crimes and the Law of Welfare
(An address by Prof. Jacobus tenBroek, chairman, State social welfare board, before region 2, California Social Welfare Workers Organization, February 7, 1961)
Effective March 10, 1960, there appeared this language in the ordinance books of one of our California counties:
"The board of supervisors do ordain as follows:
"Sec. 1. No person shall resort to any office building, or to any room used or occupied in connection with or under the same management as any cafe, restaurant, soft drink parlor, liquor establishment, or similar business, or to any public park, or to any of the buildings therein, or to any vacant lot, or to any room, rooming house, lodging house, residence, apartment house, hotel, house trailer, street, or sidewalk for the purpose of having sexual intercourse with a person to whom he or she is not married."
The attached sanctions were a $500 fine and/or 6 months in jail.
The coverage of this ordinance is comprehensive. All conceivable places in town, city, and park is on the list of possible locations. Only the fields and irrigation ditches of the surrounding countryside are forgotten — and moving cars on the open highway. Equally engulfing are the elements of the crime. The city fathers were not content with prohibiting the commission of the act itself. Resorting to the specified places for the purpose of committing the act was made the crime. Nor need the purpose be shared by both parties. An intent in the mind of one of them is sufficient. In this county, it would appear, a gleam in the eye of youth, summer or winter, or the lightly turning fancy in the spring, is no mere topic of song, jest or poem. It is a heading on the arrest blotter of the district attorney's office.
Almost needless to say, the application of the ordinance is not so sweeping as its geography and psychology. Quite the contrary. Its application is selective and discriminatory. Only ANC mothers and those found with them know its penal sanctions. The methods of enforcement are those associated with the law of crimes. Investigation on nothing more than suspicion or gossip, detectives operating in teams, night raids, simultaneous approaches to the back and front of the house, guns conspicuously displayed on hips, unceremonious entry, inmates interrogated at length and notes taken, the entire house searched without any particular care to secure permission, men and sometimes ANC mothers arrested and hauled off to jail — all of this in the presence of the children to many of whom the episode must come as a frightening and even traumatic experience — all of this, too, in the presence of the constitutions of the State and the Nation providing for the rights of individuals, the equal protection of the laws, and the privacy and security of residents in their persons, houses, papers, and effects.
In another California county, the district attorney lodged fraud and theft charges against two ANC mothers, the one for having a man in her home while receiving aid and the other for not reporting accurately the address in Mexico of her common-law husband. The man in the home in the first case was also prosecuted for nonsupport of two of the children. After conviction or pleas of guilty, all three were placed on probation. They were ordered as a condition of probation not to indulge in extramarital relationships. All three were later jailed for violating this condition.
The district court of appeals, and later the State supreme court, held that one of the ANC mothers had been denied her constitutional right to counsel. The district court of appeals emphatically rejected the plea of the district attorney that the court should "tolerate * * * an undefined degree of laxity" in applying constitutional standards in these cases. "When essential constitutional rights are in issue," said the court, "the petty offender * * * is the equal of any other citizen, and entitled to the full protection of the Constitution, not Just to a part of that protection, grudgingly given and imperfectly applied * * *. The accused who stands before a justice court for sentencing does not thereby become a second-class citizen, entitled only to second-class justice."
These three persons whose private lives and intimate relationships received the searching scrutiny of penal officials and obsessed attention of the press and public were not only poor and uneducated, but they were members of a minority group. They were Mexican-Americans. Marriage is a conception of the law and mores. What is within or without wedlock, therefore, depends upon the law of marriage. In Mexico, free unions are legal marriages. They are the form of marriage of the poor, the rural, and the young. They account for one-fifth of Mexican marriages. When the crops improve, religious and civil ceremonies are often added.
This same district attorney has required an ANC mother to submit to a lie detector test regarding her relations with men. This he defined as a phase of the cooperation with law-enforcement officers prescribed by the welfare and institutions code. He thus made submission to the lie detector test a condition of eligibility for aid to needy children, despite the fact that no such condition is laid down in the statute or the rules and regulations established by the only agency authorized to do so — despite the fact, too, that the courts uniformly refuse to accept lie detector evidence coercively secured. The lie detector is a device of criminal law and criminal investigations. Mandatory submission to it is a clear invasion of the right to privacy.
Another California county has adopted a new plan of administration of the ANC program. Under it a special ANC review unit is installed in the office of the district attorney. The district attorney is assigned sweeping new powers. He is actually to determine eligibility for ANC. The director of public welfare must refer every aid applicant immediately to the district attorney, and must also submit for the district attorney's review all information gathered and decisions reached. The welfare de- partment is limited to tentative decisions even in areas completely and exclusively in its province. The director of public welfare must deny applications or terminate aid in all cases in which the district attorney considers that the client is not cooperating. Under this plan, in short, the administration of welfare in the county is effectually handed over to the district attorney, with the welfare director acting simply as a subordinate arm of his office. The State Department, being a department of social welfare and not a department of police, has declared this plan both illegal and violative of basic concepts of welfare.
Finally, in the same county, the district attorney developed another plan. He would charge ANC mothers, as well as fathers, with nonsupport of their children. If the mother pleaded not guilty, she would be convicted and Jailed. If she pleaded guilty, as the judge advised her to do, she would be placed on probation — on condition either that she receive no further aid or that she receive it on terms laid down by the judge. In one case, an ANC mother came into court not as a defendant but as a witness in her hus band's nonsupport trial. Then and there a charge of nonsupport was filed against her. She immediately entered a plea of guilty and was promptly sentenced, according to the transcript, "to serve 60 days in custody of the sheriff" of the county, which sentence was suspended on condition that defendant remove her two children from the relief rolls within 30 days. The husband, mean while, was released unconditionally.
In another case, an ANC mother was charged with nonsupport, pleaded guilty and waived time for sentencing on the same day. Sentence of 90 days was suspended on condition that she pay $56 a month to the county to remove one of her children from the relief rolls as long as the child's father carried out the order of the court to pay that amount to her for the child's support.
Thus a county district attorney and a municipal court judge have invoked the penal code and the sanctions of the law of crimes to solve at a stroke the human and social problems of welfare. Under pain of punishment and imprisonment they have forced eligible mothers to get off the relief rolls and go to work — without regard for conditions of health or ability to work, or the need of the children for the presence of their mother, or proper provision for the children's care, or any other consideration of welfare.
What is the proper relationship between the law of crimes and the law of welfare? Are they, as the foregoing illustrations would seem to suggest, one and the same? Or are they, as I shall seek to demonstrate, radically different in conception and purpose — so different as to be mutually exclusive?
What, to begin with, is a "crime"? However variously it has been defined by different cultures, or even by different schools within the same culture, a crime is regarded
as a harmful or injurious act knowingly
and deliberately committed. But this is not
quite enough. According to Blackstone, the
act must be more than injurious: it must
be "of a deeper and more atrocious dye." Sir Fitzjames Stephens emphasizes "the evil
tendency of such violation, as regards the
comimvnity at large." Not every intentional
offense or injury, then, is a crime. Many
deliberate and harmful acts are penalized
merely by civil sanctions, by reprimands,
fines or damages. Neither the nature of the
act itself, nor the presence of deliberate intent, suffices to give it the dimensions of a
crime. What makes an act a crime is the
punishment ordained for it. In effect the punishment is the crime. That the punishment should fit the crime, or that the crime
should justify its punishment, misses the
point. The social definition of a crime is the punishment prescribed.
The very concept of crime is indistinguishable from the idea of punishment. What follows from a criminal act, in any modern society, is organized pursuit and apprehension, arrest and investigation, trial and conviction, denial of freedom and suspension of rights — in short, the whole book of penal sanctions and retaliations.
I do not dispute this conventional code of crime-and-punishment. Whatever its specific weaknesses or actual barbarities, it is doubtless true that society has a right and obligation to protect itself and its members against injuriotis actions; and that the police force, with all its faults, is a necessary line of defense. In other words, there is a legitimate and proper field, however circumscribed, for the law of crimes and the stern machinery of enforcement which it carries in its train.
What then, on the other hand, is the law of public welfare? It is quite literally the recognition by society of a responsibility for the welfare of those of its citizens who are in need. The concept of "need" is relative and flexible, as well as ambiguous. In a time of disaster, all the citizens of a community may be in need. Even in a period of "normalcy" and general affluence, large numbers of our citizens are unmistakably in need: among them are the disabled and chronically ill. the penurious old and the orphaned young, the emotionally disturbed and the economically dislocated, those who are shut in and those who have been shut out. It is the fundamental postulate of the welfare creed that need is not a crime, and that the needy as such are neither sinners nor delinquents.
The law of welfare is closely intertwined with this developing concept of need. The modern welfare system which finds its central expression in our programs of social security acknowledges a responsibility not only for the elementary needs of food and shelter, of existence and subsistence. In its explicit commitment to self-support and self-care on the part of recipients of public assistance, its recognizes as of equal value the social, personal and family needs of self-sufficiency and self-respect, of economic opportunity and strengthened family life. It is aimed not only at helping people in need, but at helping them out of it. The law of welfare is geared in prin ciple to incentive and productivity, to personal rehabilitation and revival. It is in fact less a program of relief, although it is that too, than a program of recovery.
The modern law of public welfare is, to be sure, an outgrowth of the venerable tradition of private charity. But this historical derivation is not very enlightening. It is a little like saying that democracy is an outgrowth of the feudal system which preceded it. Between feudalism and democracy there intervened an age of enlightenment. Between the charity of the poor laws and the welfare of the Social Security Act there intervened a movement both humanitarian and equalitarian, in short, an age of democracy.
There was a time, almost within living memory, when the law of welfare, or more accurately of charity, and the law of crimes were indeed one and the same. Scarcely a century ago, in our land of Puritan theology and rugged individualism, poverty could still be regarded as a sin, and any abnormality, whether physical or mental, as pos session by the devil. The constitution of North Carolina in 1862 contained these words: "To know the right but still the wrong to pursue, proceeds from a perverse will brought about by the seductions of the evil one." There was in those days, as a recent author has reminded us, "no scientifically defined method of dealing with people in trouble." These individuals were reflecting the evil and sinfulness inherent in human nature, and the only way to remove evil and sinfulness was through pain and punishment."
Among the numerous and motley recipients of private aid. Ion? after the establishment of private aid in the charity organization societies, there were two distinct and carefully segregated classes: those who were deserving and those who were undeserving.
Among the undeserving were all who were the victims of their own vices — those who stood in need not so much of charity as of correction. The major organization in the field, well into our own century, was the National Board of Charities and Corrections. And corrected the victims were — most notoriously of all through the institution of the almshouse or workhouse, whose inmates at the turn of the century comprised, according to a classic description, a very heterogeneous mass, representing almost every kind of human distress. Old veterans of labor worn out by many years of ill-requited toil, alongside of wornout veterans of dissipation, the victims of their own vices; the crippled and the sick; the insane; the blind; deaf-mutes; feeble-minded and epileptic; people with all kinds of chronic diseases; unmarried mothers with their babies; short-term prisoners; thieves, no longer physically capable of crime; wornout prostitutes, etc.; and along with all these, little orphaned or deserted children, and a few people of better birth and breeding reduced to poverty in old age by some financial disaster, often through no fault of their own.
Thus was the law of welfare, in its infancy, all but indistinguishable from the law of crimes. All these social problems and human bondages which we now recognize to have been associated with the great impersonal forces of dislocation and depression, industrial revolution and urban movement, social conflict and race hatred — all of these were once perceived in the narrow focus of personal character, as evidences of weakness if not of wickedness, of irresponsibility if not outright corruption. In the eyes of the law — the criminal law — there were no problems of society to be solved but only individual wrongs to be righted, personal sins of commission to be expiated and corrected. And the proper corrective, In all cases, was some form of punishment.
A striking illustration of this punitive approach to problems of economic, social, and moral origin, is to be seen in the legal proscription of vagrancy — as historically applied to those with neither definite domicile nor visible means of support. At various times in the past (and in the present), as one modern authority tells us, "A wide variety of homeless and migratory persons were considered to be vagrants: prostitutes, streetwalkers, mendicants, beggars, pilgrims, wandering bards, scholars, itinerant tradesmen, mountebanks, street fakers, strangers, aliens, hoboes, tramps, bums, loiterers, blind, handicapped, and indigent persons, as well as drunk and disorderly individuals. "These," concludes our authority, "were the motley representatives of social displacement (uprooting) and mobility." They were, in short, the victims of upheaval, not the upheavers. The law of crimes, incapable of comprehending let alone of apprehending the real culprits, could only make scapegoats of its victims.
Nor was it only poverty and homelessness — the nomad and the vagabond — which were sought to be scourged from the earth by the punitive law of crimes. The apocalyptic Pour Horsemen themselves — famine, war, pestilence, and death — were somehow to be banished by coercive enactment and enforcement. Edward III. through the infamous Statute of Labourers, tried valiantly in the 14th century to reverse the effects of the Black Death and halt the tide of economic and social change. With the population of Europe nearly cut in half by the plague, the resulting shortage of labor threatened to bring about a decent wage; but the criminal law knew how to deal with such crimes. The Statute of Labourers, prodded by a landed nobility intent on returning to the static conditions of feudal vassalage, laid down the following injunctions: "Every person able in body under the age of 60 years, not having to live on, being required, shall be bound to serve him that doth require him, or else committed to the gaol, until he find surety to serve. .. If a workman or servant depart from service before the time agreed upon, he shall be imprisoned. . . . The old wages, and no more, shall be given to servants. ... If any artificer or workman take more wages than were wont to be paid, he shall be committed to the goal. . . . Victuals shall be sold at reasonable prices. . . . No person shall give any thing to a beggar that is able to labour [i.e., those] rather willing to beg in idleness, than by labour to get their living."
Thus the king and his lords saw vagrancy and movement, wages and prices, the shortage of labor and the surplusage of beggars, all as one problem, to be dealt with in one law and solved by one corrective: that of punishment. Of this classic effort to incriminate the forces of nature and history — to rein in the Four Horsemen at a single command — Bishop Stubbs was to comment some centuries later: "The great pestilence fell like a season of blight, but worse than the pestilence was the statute of labourers." Almost immediately the criminal statute was found impossible to enforce; and so another dose of punishment was prescribed the following year, in the form of a second Statute of Labourers. The upshot of the effort is history: rising unrest, resistance, and finally rebellion — in the shape of the Great Revolt of 1381.
Just as the law of crimes has failed through the centuries to deter the forces of social and economic change, so has it failed to correct and reform the moral conduct of men. Little need be said of the notorious excesses of the Puritan criminal code, through whose agency moral inhibitions were turned into sadistic exhibitions. But it is worth recalling that this sweeping effort to impose a rigid standard of conduct down to the last detail of private life and personal habit, on pain of the most cruel and unusual punishments — including the burning of deviant females at the stake — failed utterly in its aim. For a complete account of the success of the criminal law in suppressing fornication, I refer you to the two volumes of the Kinsey reports.
Against all these human ills and accidents of fortune — moral, social, and economic — the law of crimes has ever raised its arm. It has sought not to help but to chastise; not to cure but to suppress; not to understand but to punish. Until very recently it had the whole field exclusively to itself: poverty, immorality, abnormality, illegitimacy, transiency, nonconformity, all were the unchallenged subjects of the law of crimes.
And what has been the result? Have the crises of economic calamity, social change, and personal misery been stamped out by punitive legislation? Have the handicapped and indigent, the uprooted and rejected, the truant and vagrant, learned their lesson and been chastened in their ways? The record could not be more clear. By every index of psychic and social measurement, these problems have multiplied and worsened under the whip of penal sanctions and the threat of punishment. Men have not been, and cannot ever be, driven to their salvation — moral, social, or economic — by the exercise of the stocks, the pillory, the lash, the brand, the fetter, the gag, the whipping post, the wheelbarrow, the workhouse, nor the penitentiary.
Gradually over the past hundred years, another kind of law has arisen to contest the field with the law of crimes. The new law of welfare comes armed with the implements of science, the attributes of scholarship, and the spirit of democracy; but it still fights an uphill battle. The heritage of centuries under the old law of crime and punishment cannot be dissolved in a year or a generation. Nor is its erosion a steady and consistent process; for in periods of rapid change and instability, such as those we face today, the ancient attitudes are quickly activated — and the impulse to punish gains the ascendancy.
Thus it is today in our own State. The rising demand in California for punitive and repressive administration of the welfare laws — expressed in the increasing intervention of district attorneys and law-enforcement agencies — is to be understood largely as a defensive reflex. The State finds itself confronted with a welfare problem of mounting and acute proportions which springs from our exploding and shifting population, from the irregular and insecure employment of many of our industries, from the disproportionate increment of minority groups whose ways of life and patterns of behavior seem by the standards of conventional society rudely deviant and nonconformist. Accordingly we are faced with disorganized families and unadjusted persons, with rising illegitimacy and parental default, with all the bitter fruits of poverty and ignorance — and, most galling of all, to some, with resistance and ingratitude on the part of many who fall within the categories of our welfare programs.
In the face of so complex and troublesome a situation, it is a sore temptation to seek a scapegoat — to chastise those who slip and punish those who fall. The easiest way to dispose of the problem, when it arises in a specific case, appears to be not to call in the welfare worker but to call the police.
I have already cited a number of examples of the recent resurgence within the welfare field of the punitive law of crimes. It may be well to give some attention also to its theoretical side: to what may be called the theory of welfare crime and punishment. That theory has been given a very full and articulate expression in recent testimony before a factfinding committee of the State senate. The speaker was a county district attorney; the subject was "California's Aid to Needy Children" program.
To begin with, the district attorney found the prospects of this program quite discouraging, not because it was doing too little to aid needy children, but because it was doing too much. Nowhere in his lengthy testimony did this agent of law enforcement emphasize the needs of deprived children; instead he spoke of immorality, of crime, and of punishment. The whole public enterprise of welfare, and in particular of ANC was to him an exhibition of moral decline involving an active encouragement of illegitimacy and vice, the breakup of the family unit and the collapse of the character of the individual through handouts from the State. The district attorney saw the effort to aid needy children through their parents and relatives not as a humanitarian venture but as the provision of an unrestricted breeding-ground for the promiscuous and parasitic. Indeed, the program was described as "a social monster (threatening] the moral and financial well-being of the citizenry of this State." The way out of this "miasma of immorality" was forthrightly stated: "The legislature must immediately assume its responsibilities by curtailing the power of welfare administrative agencies, [by] the development of legislation adequate to permit solid enforcement, and finally [by providing] the investigative and prosecution facilities for effective control."
Here then is the legal theory of welfare crime and punishment. Not only are the recipients of aid as a group assumed to be unworthy, deceitful, and parasitic but the sins of the parents are to be visited upon the children, in the form of denial of relief. The very effort to assist the distressed and demoralized toward a constructive solution of their problems, to help repair broken homes and restore broken lives, is itself immoral and monstrous, as well as, of course, financially extravagant. The obvious remedy, the simple and classic solution, is to disarm and discredit the welfare worker and arm the prosecutor and policeman to the teeth: to arrest, to raid, to threaten, to crack down, to punish.
The modern law of welfare is the outgrowth of steady evolution both within the law itself and in the attitudes of society toward the perplexities of poverty and deprivation. There is more to ANC, as there is more to social security, than a stopgap effort to alleviate gross conditions of hunger and exposure. The constructive goal is to increase the opportunities of seriously disadvantaged children for something approaching a normal family life and for those ordinary actions and transactions which lead to maturity and responsibility.
The most striking and illuminating fact which emerges from the history of ANC in California is its direct and intimate relationship to unemployment. When unemployment rises, so does the caseload; when jobs are plentiful, the roster is accordingly reduced. The immediate problem which the program faces, then, is simply economic: it is a need for jobs. But that problem is not only economic but social and cultural as well. For another basic fact about the program is that Negro and Spanish-American recipients together account for 60 percent of the present caseload. An adequate program of welfare must confront the conditions which underlie these facts: conditions of inequality, of absence of skill and training, of social marginality and of psychological instability, of divergent cultural patterns and mores, and of foreclosed opportunities. These are the people affected first and worst by any drop in employment. They are commonly the least skilled and the least schooled. They are the prime targets of prejudice, discrimination, and alienation. And. finally, they are the inheritors of cultural patterns and styles of family life frequently at variance with the behavioral codes from which our laws are fashioned.
Given these basic and overriding facts, the wonder is not that there has been instances of delinquency and default on the part of welfare clients, but that there have been so few. Even where these derelictions have occurred, fewer still fall within the rigorous definition of fraud under the law of crimes. It goes without saying that where deliberate collusion and willful falsification to commit a fraud have taken place, the individuals responsible must answer for them act in the same manner and in the same degree as others in similar situations. But there are two sides to this constitutional coin: equal protection of the laws requires that welfare offenders and their children not be singled out for special punishments or made the victims of discriminatory ordinances designed and executed peculiarly for them.
Equal protection of the law. the right to privacy, the right of self-expression, of voluntary movement, of personal liberty, of human dignity — it is of these essential elements, these articles of democratic faith, that the modern philosophy of welfare is composed. In the end the commitment to welfare goals is no more than a rededication to those humane aspirations, that optimistic faith in the potential of man. which our Bill of Rights embodies. Viewed in the light of this honorable lineage, there is nothing obscure or mysterious about the conflict between the law of welfare and the law of crimes. For the latter, with its accouterments of power and psychology of coercion, has always been at odds with the spirit of liberal democracy. The great events in the history of the evolution of our form of Government have been the moments of successful challenge of the police power: the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the protection of habeas corpus, the presumption of innocence, the right of trial, the slow accretion of barriers against searches and seizures, arbitrary arrest and invasion of privacy. These are the cornerstones of the civilized structure we inhabit today — whose newest expression is the modern law of welfare. But the law of crimes has ever displayed an irresistible tendency to tear that structure down, or, failing that, to blight and stunt its further growth. The Constitution of the United States, and the constitutions of our several States, are replete with recognitions of this inveterate tendency of the police power, and with systematic efforts to limit its aggressive ambition.
Here are a few of the protections which our constitutions have interposed between the citizen and the coercive powers of the State: the freedoms of speech and the press, of religious belief, of petition and assembly; the right not to be deprived of life, liberty, without due process of law: the right to a speedy and fair trial: the right to counsel, and the right of immunity from compulsory self-incrimination; the right of habeas corpus; the right of immunity from peonage and slavery; the right to be immune from double jeopardy, and from bills of attainder; the right to inspect and use documents; the freedom from arbitrary arrest; the right to the aid of favorable witnesses and to confront opposing witnesses; the right to bail; the right of the people to be secure in their persons, papers, houses, and effects; the right of immunity from unreasonable searches and seizures; the right of immunity from cruel and unusual punish ments; the right of privacy.
These are the rights of all citizens: of the poor and troubled as well as the comfortable, of the petty offender as well as the corporation president. They are not to be relaxed. They are not to be grudgingly given and imperfectly applied with respect to any groups in our society. The accused who stands before a justice court for sentencing does not thereby become a second-class citizen entitled only to second-class justice.
Whenever these constitutional protections are relaxed — when the police become the State, or when the law of crimes supersedes the civil law and the law of welfare — we take a long step backward into that age of darkness and repression whose appropriate symbols are the debtors' prison and the Tower of London, Bedlam and Devils' Island, exile, deportation, and transportation. For the entire vast complex of human problems involved in poverty, bewilderment and vice, the law of crimes has ever prescribed the same corrective, varying only in degree : That of suppression and detention. The law of welfare prescribes the opposite: Liberation, opportunity, and incentive. In the modern perspective of welfare, there is no single or simple solution to all the ills that flesh is heir to, but there is a singular purpose and a common denominator. Economic problems of poverty and unemployment require economic measures, democratically devised and fairly executed. Social problems of inequality and instability require social planning and legislation, as specific or broad-scaled as the need to be met. Moral problems and problems of the mores require education and assimilation.
The common denominator which underlies all these diverse issues and methods
of treatment is to be seen in America's second proclamation of emancipation — issued a
generation ago by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
It consisted of "Four Freedoms: The first
is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world. The second is freedom
of every person to worship God in his own
way — everywhere in the world. The third
is freedom from want — everywhere in the
world. The fourth is freedom from fear — anywhere in the world."
That is the heart of the democratic creed, of the American spirit, and of the emerging law of welfare.
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John Nagle, chief of the Washington office of the National Federation of the Blind (and frequent contributor to The Blind American), was recently the subject of a laudatory full-length article by the nationally syndicated columnist, Holmes Alexander.
The Alexander column, published by daily newspapers across the country subscribing to the McNaught Syndicate, combined detailed biographical data on Nagle (who is himself blind) together with favorable description of major programs and objectives of the organized blind.
Following the appearance of the column honoring Nagle 's work, Alexander -- although politically a staunch conservative -- devoted his column to vigorous support of liberal Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, a strong friend of the organized blind, as "Senator of the Year." Among other reasons for his action, the columnist noted that Humphrey had "inserted into the Congressional Record a column of mine about John Nagle, the blind pusher of programs for the blind."
"Nagle is at war with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) and with all charitable groups which affect a custodial, poppa-knows-best attitude toward handicapped persons," Alexander wrote.
He noted that "Nagle has always fought, as he has lived, for the principle that handicapped persons should not batten on 'sheltered workshops' jobs and relief funds, but should use these as a springboard to rehabilitation, independence and self-chosen careers."
Recalling that the right-to-organize bill originally introduced four years ago by Senator John F. Kennedy and Congressman Walter S. Baring had failed of adoption, the columnist pointed out that the same measure has been reintroduced in the present session by Senator Hubert Humphrey, assistant Democratic floor leader.
"The American welfare state has reached the point when Congress must protect people from their would-be protectors, " Alexander observed with reference to the bill's requirements of consultation and protection from official interference.
"For years HEW and other public charity groups have used procedural stratagems to prevent handicapped persons from serving on advisory committees for the handicapped," he added.
Especially lengthy attention was given by the columnist to the efforts of Nagle and the organized blind to preserve the independent state-supported aid programs of Missouri and Pennsylvania.
"A pair of their congressmen, Tom Curtis (R., Mo.) and Bill Green (D., Penna.) have entered bills to preserve their states' systems and to permit other states to have independent programs for the blind.
"This is what is involved in Missouri," Alexander wrote: "The state has a wholly financed plan which exists side by side with the Federal- State program. The Missouri plan is that blind persons should be aided for bed, board and clothing, but should not be discouraged from attaining self-support and self-reliance.
"In Missouri a blind person can earn up to $3,000 a year, and own $10,000 in property, and still receive public assistance from the state at $65 a month," according to Alexander.
He declared that "the Federal plan begins to cut down on the public assistance to people who hit an income of $600 a year, which is far below a subsistence figure, and allows aided persons to have an average of about $600 only in property, which is not much on which to base a business or profession."
(The new federal amendments permit -- and in July, 1962 will require -- an exemption of $85 a month of earned income, plus 50 percent of earnings above that.)
"If Curtis and Green get their bills (H. R.'s 4580 and 4581 are identical) passed, a new States' Rights principle would be established, and a new barrier erected against Federal encroachment," the columnist concluded.
Alexander pointed to Nagle's own life story as the clue to his aggressive attitude on behalf of the rights and needs of blind people: "Kind people, trying to run his life for him, set him to basket-weaving and pot-making, but he was all thumbs and disliked the work anyhow.
"So he quit and worked his way for two years at the Boston University School of Journalism. After kindly editors had praised and sympathized with him, while declining to give him a summer reporting job, Nagle made a living copying Braille by day, and after five years earned a law degree at Northeastern University, subsequently pass ing the Massachusetts bar exams and being admitted to practice both in state and federal courts. He subsequently earned his B.A. in public affairs at the American International College."
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New Contribution by Ways and Means for the Blind (from the Palmetto Auroran, published by the South Carolina Aurora Club for the Blind, July, 1961): "Continuing to add to his incomparable list of contributions to organizations of the blind as well as to many blind individuals, Mr. Hubert E. Smith, the philanthropic president of Ways and Means for the Blind, has advised us that he desires to completely furnish and equip the office of the Columbia chapter's Recreational and Educational Center.
"In appreciation of this generous contribution to the Center, the Columbia chapter by resolution has designated this part of the Center as the 'Smith Memorial Office'. . . In addition, Ways and Means for the Blind will contribute a very fine tape recorder to the office to be en joyed by the blind.
"Wherever you go, whether it be to a distant state or to a national convention of the blind, the name of Hubert E. Smith is known and respected. . . "
Florida Blind Form Credit Union: F. F. B. Federal Credit Union, serving members of the Florida Federation of the Blind, Inc. , is the 12th organization formed in the United States. There is also a credit union serving the blind in Canada, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).
This new credit union, with headquarters in Tampa, has a potential membership of 300, Mrs. Louise Wheeler, treasurer, reports. All members of the state federation and its affiliated chapters and their families are eligible to join.
Credit unions are self-help economic betterment organizations formed by people with a common bond, such as belonging to the same association, for the purpose of promoting thrift and providing a source of low-cost credit.
Sightless But Not Voiceless (from The White Cane, publication of the Washington State Association of the Blind, July, 1961.):
A teen-age blind disk jockey with a wide knowledge of sports has built up a substantial following with the weekly program he conducts over an Evanstan, Illinois, radio station. He is Robert Greenberg, sixteen years old and blind since birth, whose Bob Greenberg Show has been aired from station WEAW each Saturday morning for nearly two and a half years.
Format for the 35 minute show includes a five minute sports cast followed by thirty minutes of music, chatter and interviews, mainly with sports personalities.
Commercials for broadcast during the show are prepared in Braille as are scores of sports events and other material needed during the course of the weekly program. The young dee jay ad libs much of the broadcast including the sports news which his mother reads to him before he goes on the air. He selects the records he plans to play and times the entire show himself beforehand to fit it into the 35 minute allottment.
Young Greenberg says he fell in love with radio when he was about three years old. Continuing his love for radio with his interest in sports, he developed the idea of the radio show which got its start in September, 1958. He was billed by the radio station as "America's only junior disk jockey who reads his script from Braille."
Noting that the University of Illinois has one of the most powerful non-commercial radio stations in the country, Greenberg says he hopes to enroll at that University when he graduates from high school. More immediate plans include trying to interest his high school principal in establishing an FM radio station.
Skilled Blind Machinist (from The San Diego Evening Tribune): "The 2,000 parts which go to make up most duplicating machines are literally at the tips of the sensitive fingers of Bob Cummings, 36, of 591 Cochran Street, Imperial Beach.
"Cummings has been sightless the last two years. . . Now he is a free lancer in repairing, reconditioning and rebuilding duplicating machines. His lack of sight in this work is no handicap, he says. . .
"'I heard about the excellent work Bob did, so I hired him to go over our machines, all of which were in bad shape,' William W. Dewgaw, chief clerk of the business office at the Education Center, said. "I'm sure no person with normal vision could do a better job than Bob does."
"Curamings depends upon his sensitive fingers and his knowledge of the machines with which he worked 15 years before becoming blind. 'I worked 12 years for the company which makes these machines, I got to know them pretty well,' Cummings said."
On July 1, 1961 at its special Communion breakfast, the Los Angeles
Catholic Guild of the Blind presented a check for one hundred dollars
to Monsignor Anthony Brouwers, Director of the Propagation of the
Faith. This donation will assist in the work for blind children conducted in Kisumu, Kenya Africa, by Bishop Frederick Hall. With 65,000
blind children in his diocese, Bishop Hall is raising funds for the building of a large modern school for the blind to help in their education.
Substantial sums have already been contributed by other interested groups in the United States.
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