PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN BROTHERHOOD FOR THE BLIND A CHARITABLE AND EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION
2652 SHASTA ROAD BERKELEY 8, CALIF.
MAY ISSUE -- 1962
Published monthly in Braille and inkprint and distributed free to the blind by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, President. National headquarters and editorial offices at 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
Editor: Floyd W. Matson
Executive Secretary: Anthony Mannino, 205 South Western Avenue, Room 206, Los Angeles 4, Calif.
VOLUME II MAY 1962 NO. 5
Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB) http://www.archive.org/details/blindamericanmay25amer
NFB CHALLENGES WORLD COUNCIL MANEUVER
SENATE HOLDS HEARINGS ON WELFARE PROGRAM
NATIONAL FEDERATION TESTIFIES ON BLIND AID
By John F. Nagle
SENATOR HARTKE QUIZZES NAGLE ON GOALS
"NEW OUTLOOK" ON SHELTERED SHOP STRIKE - An Editorial.
THE CHARACTER AND FUNCTION OF SHELTERED WORKSHOPS
By Dr. Jacobus tenBroek
ADMINISTRATION HITS VENDING STAND BILL
BROTHERS ... & OTHERS
Recent action by leaders of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind ousting the National Federation of the Blind (U.S.) from its seat on the Council's executive committee has been challenged by the National Federation of the Blind as a violation of the constitution and basic purposes of the global organization.
In a strongly worded letter to World Council for the Welfare of the Blind President E. A. Baker of Canada, National Federation of the Blind President Perry Sundquist last month described as "invalid" and "improper" a request by Colonel Baker to North American delegations for a vote to fill two alleged vacancies on the executive committee. Col. Baker's letter, dated April 10, asked the delegations "to vote by mail to fill two seats on the Executive Committee of WCWB, the composition of which permits the North American region to hold a total of five." During recent months, he continued, both Hulen Walker (of the American Association of Workers for the Blind) and George Card (formerly of the National Federation of the Blind) "have become ineligible to serve as North American representatives on the Executive Committee due to the fact of their having been replaced on the U. S. delegation to the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind."
Sundquist stated in his reply that the executive committee seat which had been occupied by Card as the National Federation of the Blind's representative "has not been vacated by any action taken by Mr. Card or by the National Federation of the Blind." He asserted that therefore the ballot requested by Col. Baker "was a nullity and the appointment of any person to fill the supposed but nonexistent vacancy is void."
Declaring that the National Federation of the Blind has continued and will continue its membership in the U.S. delegation and in the World Council, Sundquist said that its representative would attend the forthcoming meeting of the World Council executive committee in Hanover, Germany, "and will expect to occupy the seat to which he is entitled." He maintained that the Federation's interpretation of the situation was strictly in accord with the WCWB constitution as well as with the general principles of international organization, such as those governing membership and representation in the United Nations.
Sundquist pointed out that Card had held his seat on the Council's executive committee "not in any personal capacity but as a Representative. The World Council Constitution provides for both individual and representative members. . . . Mr. Card was one of the United States' delegates to the World Council and accordingly was a Representative member. In that capacity he was chosen to sit upon the . . . Executive Committee. So long as the National Federation of the Blind continues as a member of the United States delegation and in the World Council, its Representative must continue to sit upon the Executive Committee until the term expires for which Mr. Card as its Representative was elected," Sundquist said.
"Stripping the National Federation of the Blind, a large and influential organization of blind people in a large and influential nation of the world, of its seat on the Executive Committee can hardly be said to be in conformity with the constitutional mandate and the practical necessity," the National Federation of the Blind leader declared. He pointed out that the objectives of the World Council explicitly require the fullest possible representation of the blind people of all nations through their own organizations, but that the recognition has become widespread that organizations of the blind are under-represented while agencies for the blind are over- represented in the actual organization of the World Council.
With respect to U.S. representation on the international body, Sundquist asserted that "When the American delegation was originally composed and the organizations to be represented in it were selected a basic act of impropriety occurred. The blind people of the United States were grossly under-represented, the agencies for the blind of the United States were grossly over-represented. This no doubt occurred because the persons making the original distribution of the seats were themselves agency people."
Although Sundquist's letter makes no mention of it, NFB spokesmen privately have pointed in confirmation of their charge to a sentence inserted in the WCWB constitution in the 1959 meeting of its World Assembly in Rome. The sentence--found under Article III, Section2--reads: "All Representative Members should hold or have held responsible positions in the direction or administration of recognized agencies for the blind. " Moreover, that this statement makes such agency credentials not just desirable but virtually a requirement of eligibility is seen to be borne out by the next following sentence from the same section: "Providing the terms of this article are complied with , any individual . . . shall be eligible to serve ..." Leaders of organized blind groups point out that, if these terms were to be consistently complied with, the WCWB would be hard put to carry out its announced purpose of "providing the means of consultation between organizations of and for the blind in different countries."
These spokesmen also find noteworthy the quick rejection by the WCWB's resolutions committee in 1959 of a constitutional amendment proposed by the delegate from Poland. The rejected amendment stipulated with respect to membership: "It should be clearly stated that only such persons as are appointed by Organisations of the Blind or, where these Organisations do not exist, by Organisations for the Welfare of the Blind can act as Delegates."
Text of NFB President's letter
The full text of the letter from Sundquist to Colonel Baker, dated May 14, 1962 follows:
"Dear Colonel Baker:
"This will repeat and confirm our long distance telephone conversation of May 9, 1962.
"Reference should be made to your letter under date of April 10 sent to all American delegates to the World Council and soliciting a ballot from each of them to fill two vacancies from among the American delegation on the Executive Committee of the World Council. As I now understand that letter, one of the vacancies to be filled was that created by what you describe as the resignation of Mr, George Card.
"In the view of the National Federation of the Blind the position on the World Council Executive Committee occupied by Mr. George Card has not been vacated by any action taken by Mr. Card or by the National Federation of the Blind. Since there was no such vacancy to fill, the ballot taken pursuant to your letter of April 10 was a nullity and the appointment of any person to fill the supposed but non-existent vacancy is void.
"On behalf of the National Federation of the Blind, I ask that you take suitable action in the premises to declare the invalidity of the ballot and the retention by the National Federation of its position on the Executive Committee.
"May I set forth the situation as we see it. Mr. George Card occupied a seat upon the World Council Executive Committee not in any personal capacity but as a Representative. The World Council Constitution provides for both individual and representative members. Associate and Honorary members fall into the first class. Representatives of groups of nations fall into the second. Mr. Card was one of the United States' delegates to the World Council and accordingly was a Representative member. In that capacity he was chosen to sit upon the World Council Executive Committee. So long as the National Federation of the Blind continues a member of the United States delegation and in the World Council, its Representative must continue to sit upon the Executive Committee until the term expires for which Mr. Card as its Representative was elected. The National Federation of the Blind has continued and will continue its membership in the United States delegation and in the World Council. Its Representative will attend the forthcoming meeting of the World Council Executive Committee and will expect to occupy the seat to which he is entitled.
"The foregoing seems to me strictly in accord with the Constitution of the World Council. It is in accord, moreover, with the general principles of international organization. In the United Nations, for example, the United States would not be deprived of any of the positions it occupies in the Assembly, the Security Council, or other organs and agencies by virtue of the death or resignation of any of the particular persons sent at any given time to represent it. If Adlai Stevenson should be withdrawn as United States Ambassador there would be no question as to whether his successor would sit upon the Security Council and serve in turn as the President of that Council. Indeed, if Mr. Stevenson were withdrawn during the month he was acting as President of the Council, the new United States Representative would take over as President until the month was completed.
"Our basic position is that nothing has transpired to vacate the seat of the Executive Council of the United States Representative sent by the National Federation of the Blind. Therefore, neither in its original form nor as amended in 1959 does Article V, section 1 govern the present situation. The amendment says that 'In the event of the death or resignation of a member of the Executive Committee serving as an elected representative of the regional area, the representative membership of that regional area shall be requested to elect a replacement to serve until the next General Assembly. ' Mr. George Card has not died, nor has he resigned. Even were he to submit a personal document purporting to be a resignation, it would be utterly ineffective. He might submit a resignation to the National Federation of the Blind and this would have a bearing on whether the National Federation of the Blind would continue to have him serve as its representative in the United States delegation and thereby, in the Executive Committee in the World Council. Mr. Card has not submitted any resignation on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind to you as President of the World Council with respect to the representative position occupied by this organization upon the World Council Executive Committee. Moreover, the organization has not authorized him to take any such action nor has it at any time vested in him a general authority which would encompass such action. Pursuant to its own rules and internal procedures, the National Federation of the Blind has removed Mr. Card as its representative in the United States delegation and in the World Council and has assigned another of its members to occupy that position. Again the analogy of the Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations clarifies the point. Adlai Stevenson could not submit a personal resignation to the Security Council. If he wished to withdraw as a person, his resignation would properly be submitted to the President of the country he represents. If authorized to do so by the United States, he might submit the resignation of the United States from the United Nations. It therefore follows that the provisions of Article V, section 1 of the World Council Constitution are altogether irrelevant to the problem we are now discussing.
"The stand we take is basic and constitutional. However, your letter of April 10 has some by-products and some policy implications which cannot be ignored.
"The proposition is virtually self-evident that the blind people of the nations of the world should have full and ample representation upon an international organization designated the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind and devoted to the purpose of improving the welfare of the blind people of the world. The Constitution of the World Council gives recognition to this proposition. It declares that the method for improving the welfare of the blind is to provide 'the means of consultation between organizations of and for the blind in different countries. . . .
"By constitutional mandate, therefore, as well as by practical necessity, if the World Council is to accomplish its sweeping purpose, every effort must be made and every opportunity provided to see to it that the organizations of the blind themselves should be fully represented in the Assembly, upon the Executive Committee and in all the important organs and activities of the World Council.
"Stripping the National Federation of the Blind, a large and influential organization of blind people in a large and influential nation of the world, of its seat on the Executive Committee can hardly be said to be in conformity with the constitutional mandate and the practical necessity. Indeed, it is a frustration and a denial of both. This is true, quite regardless of the question I hear debated, whether the action in and pursuant to your letter of April 10 resulted from simple mistake, conscious design or political contrivance.
"Over the past number of years the National Federation of the Blind has received communications from a number of organizations of the blind in different nations expressing discouragement at the extent to which the World Council and particularly the Executive Committee represents agencies for the blind and does not represent the blind themselves. We have even received some proposals to establish a second world organization in which the blind people would have their say. Eliminating the National Federation of the Blind from the Executive Committee of the World Council will give strength to these laments and these proposals, a strength which will be redoubled by the impropriety and unconstitutionality of the methods chosen to effect the elimination.
"When the American delegation was originally composed and the organizations to be represented in it were selected a basic act of impropriety occurred. The blind people of the United States were grossly under-represented, the agencies for the blind of the United States were grossly over-represented. This no doubt occurred because the persons making the original distribution of the seats were themselves agency people.
"The National Federation of the Blind was of two minds whether to accept the proffer of one seat or to refuse even that much representation and contest the distribution. After serious deliberation the National Federation of the Blind decided upon the first alternative in view of its belief of the importance of getting a world organization going. Upon a suitable occasion in the near future we plan to challenge the distribution of votes in the United States delegation. Meanwhile, however, we call upon you to right the wrongful action just attempted so that the representative character of the World Council will not be further undermined, so that its constitution will not be violated and so that an injustice will not be done.
"Please understand that we are not in any way attacking the competence or qualifications of persons who may have been selected by the balloting under your letter of April 10. We contend only that the balloting itself was illegal and improper.
"Please note also that the ballot cast by the Representative of the National Federation of the Blind was cast as the result of a misunderstanding of some of the statements in your letter of April 10. That ballot is therefore withdrawn, rescinded and nullified. This is in a sense unnecessary action since all of the ballots cast are null and without effect.
Perry Sundquist, President"
BACK TO CONTENT
Long-awaited open hearings on H.R. 10606, the proposed Public Welfare Amendments of 1962, were held in mid-May by the Senate Finance Committee. Spokesmen for an unusual variety of interested groups--ranging from organized labor to the organized state chambers of commerce, from the Travelers Aid Association to the National Council of Churches of Christ--appeared to testify on the Administration's public assistance bill.
The measure has already been approved by the House of Representatives, with some amendments, following intensive hearings by the House Ways and Means Committee last February. Expectations are that H.R. 10606 valbe affirmatively reported out by the Finance Committee, possibly with further amendments, for Senate action at an early date.
One of the most significant developments of the four-day hearings was the emergence of apparent widespread opposition among testifying witnesses—led by HEW Secretary Ribicoff — to a House-added provision permitting the states under ADC to take virtually any action under state law deemed to be in the "best interest of the child," without loss of federal funds. In other words, the states could now utilize various types of indirect or nonmoney payments and thus limit the principle of cash payment to the recipient.
Secretary Ribicoff's detailed discussion of this proposal, in connection with "protective payments" under ADC, was one of the few instances in which his testimony differed from the earlier formal presentation of the Department's position before the House Ways and Means Committee. "I can foresee serious difficulties if the House-added language relating to 'any other action authorized under State law' becomes a part of the Federal law, " he declared. "This can lead to serious administrative difficulties and considerable friction in Federal-State relations."
The Secretary argued that the proposed wording "makes it possible for States to take undesirable and unsound action in dealing with suspected cases of mismanagement. Among the kinds of action States could take would be use of voucher payments directly to landlords, grocers, and other merchants. Each of these methods has been extensively used in the past in the administration of public assistance. They have been found unsound because they are humiliating, increase dependence instead of encourage independence, and are costly," he maintained.
Joining Secretary Ribicoff in his opposition to the new ADC provision were representatives of the National Urban League, Child Welfare League, Family Service Association, American Parents Committee, AFL-CIO, American Public Welfare Association, and other groups. Many of these spokesmen also viewed with alarm the House's action raising the limit for "protective payments" to five percent of the total caseload (as opposed to one-half of one percent set in the original bill) as opening the door to punitive and discriminatory crackdowns by the states upon ADC recipients.
(It need scarecely be pointed out that the move away from the traditional principle of unrestricted cash payments to recipients — a move now aimed only at the ADC program—might readily be extended to other categories if it is allowed to succeed in its present form. The rationalization behind the maneuver is that such custodial and protective action may be necessary where individual clients are adjudged "incompetent" to spend their money wisely. Apart from the temptation to social workers to seize this authority as a means of increasing their power over clients, no category of welfare recipients is perhaps more widely suspected of being "helplessly incompetent" than the blind.)
NFB's Nagle Testifies
The National Federation of the Blind was represented at the Senate hearings by its Washington office chief, John F. Nagle, who gave oral testimony and also submitted a lengthier written statement for the record. At the conclusion of his testimony, the Federationist drew the following accolade from Senator Vance Hartke of Indiana, a committee member and staunch advocate of the cause of the blind:
"Mr. Nagle, I want to thank you. I would like to say publicly, Mr. Chairman, of all the people I have worked with here outside of Government that I know of none who comes as thoroughly briefed upon his own matter and thoroughly qualified to discuss his proposals as Mr. Nagle. It certainly is a pleasure for me to work with him."
In his testimony, the NFB representative urged the adoption of the Federation's broad range of legislative objectives in the field of welfare—including more liberal incentive exemptions of income, abolition of state residence requirements, lien laws and responsible-relative provisions, permanent acceptance of the Missouri- Pennsylvania dual blind programs, direct pass-on by the states of additional federal funds to aid recipients, and others. He gave especially vigorous emphasis to the need to strike from the program the Administration proposal for a joint public assistance category (title XVI) lumping together the blind, aged and disabled.
Following his testimony, Nagle was subjected to intensive questioning by Senator Hartke with respect to various points raised in his statement. Among other things, the Indiana senator said the proposed joint category: "What in effect this does is to assume that the blind person should be placed where he is on the same footing as a totally and permanently disabled person who cannot be rehabilitated; it puts him in the same category as an aged person and assumes there is no hope for him to come out of it . . .1 thoroughly understand this and hope we can convince the committee that the administrative saving of a few dollars is not worth throwing blind people to the wolves."
Several of the arguments and proposals advanced by the NFB were echoed in the course of hearings by spokesmen for other and different interests. Nearly all witnesses, as in past hearings, were agreed upon the need to reduce or eliminate altogether the length-of-residence requirements imposed by the states as a condition of eligibility for public assistance. Among groups expressing this view were: the Travelers Aid Association, the American Public Welfare Association, the AFL- CIO, the Family Service Association, and the National Council of Churches of Christ. Other points of agreement with NFB positions included the following:
Two witnesses for chambers of commerce — the Council of State Chambers of Commerce, and the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce- voiced opposition to the proposed new category merging aid to the blind, aged and disabled. Their arguments, not unpredictably, tended to stress the additional costs involved in the projected extension of old-age medical services to the two other groups to be aided.
The American Public Welfare Association, through its spokesman (Marvin E. Larson), expressed strong reservations concerning the "work-training program" proposed under the bill for relatives of ADC recipients. It was pointed out that "in the first place, the number of employables receiving public assistance is not as great as the public apparently believes. Secondly, the over-all costs, including administration and supervision, the cost of materials and equipment, the preponderance of unskilled labor, and the high rate of work-force turnover, would increase the costs of assistance for a minimal return in civic benefit. And, finally, a basic question can be raised as to how far the proper functioning of public welfare extends to the solving of the problem of unemployment and the sponsorship and administration of public works."
In a characteristically blunt and colorful statement, George McLain of the California and National League of Senior Citizens hammered at a number of weaknesses pervading the public assistance programs of the states and the nation: "For 25 years, because of lack of Federal protection for the aged, the blind and totally disabled on Public Assistance, the States have individually imposed all of the vicious provisions of the Elizabethan Poor Laws, outmoded years ago in Great Britain. This lack of Federal protection has caused the 50 States to have a hodge-podge of Public Assistance programs, no two alike. Pauper's oaths, shame lists, unreasonable residence requirements, lien laws, deduction for home ownership, discrimination because of sex, strict limitation of real and personal property, responsible-relatives laws, over-zealous welfare workers, costly duplication of administration, and recipients prohibited from retaining even the smallest of earnings." McLain's specific recommendations, however, were mainly limited to proposals liberalizing welfare services and payments to old-age recipients.
Medics vs. Optometrists
Another controversial issue which burst into the open during the Senate hearings was one ranging the nation's optometrists against the medical profession--with respect to the qualifications of the former to conduct eye examinations under Aid to the Blind. (The law now stipulates that "in determining whether an individual is blind, there shall be an examination by a physician skilled in the diseases of the eye or by an optometrist, whichever the individual may select.")
Spokesmen for the American Medical Association and the National Medical Foundation for Eye Care argued that optometrists are incompetent to make the medical diagnoses required in such examinations. "We are certain," stated Dr. Ralph W. Ryan for the latter group, "that it was not the intent of Congress that the individual choose between the services of one qualified and those of one not qualified in disease. Yet such is the effect of the present law." He conceded that the optometrist has an acknowledged competence in the measurement of ocular refractive errors and their correction by glasses. The need for glasses, however, is never the cause of blindness. When there is blindness, there is disease," Dr. Ryan noted.
Defending the credentials of optometrists before the committee were representatives of the American Optometric Association and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, who struck back at the opposition of "medical and commercial" interests. "Organized medicine has the temerity to charge that optometrists are unable to detect symptoms of pathological conditions," declared Dr. Henry W. Hofstetter. "Yet this same organized medicine, by official resolution, has made it unprofessional conduct for any of its members to teach optometry students. How inconsistent and unjust can a situation like this be?" In a similar mood of counterattack, Dr. W. Judd Chapman, vice president of the American Optometric Association, pointed out that his profession was endeavoring to weed out its few incompetent members "by means of legislation, court proceedings, and post graduate education." He asserted that "in this we are constantly opposed, as might be expected, by the commercial interests, but what may seem more strange is that we are also opposed by the medical profession, particularly the AMA and its satellites. May I paraphrase an old adage which I am sure will be recognized by all of you - 'Economics makes strange bedfellows! "
BACK TO CONTENT
By John F. Nagle
(Editor's note: Following is the oral testimony presented by the chief of the Washington office of the National Federation of the Blind at hearings of the Senate Finance Committee on the Administration's welfare program, May 16, 1962.)
Throughout the 22-year history of our organization, we of the National Federation of the Blind have worked together to improve the circumstances of all who are blind in America--to secure fair and unrestricted opportunity for all who are without their sight.
Our goal has not been special privilege, but equal treatment; not cushioned and sheltered protection, not sterile and static security--but we have worked so that each person who is blind might have the chance to achieve fulfillment as an individual, to live an economically independent, socially inter-dependent life--unimpeded by preconceived notions about blindness as a condition of helplessness — allowed to reach his complete potential as an individual, limited in his attainments only by his own talents and abilities, his own capacities and capabilities.
Personally aware of the corrosive consequences of prolonged dependence upon public assistance, we have labored to make the federally supported state programs of aid tothe blind a process of rehabilitation, offering a means and a way of achieving normal life and regular livelihood to blind persons.
From the very beginning of our organized efforts, our spokesmen have appeared in Congress after Congress, pleading for changes in Title X of the Social Security Act—changes designed to encourage initiative, to stimulate and foster a will to strive for economic independence--changes which would be incentives to employment.
Finally, in 1950, this very Committee accepted our proposal to exempt a fixed amount of the net earned income of blind-aid recipients as just such an incentive to employment--and the $50-monthly-income-exemption proposal became a provision of federal law.
Again, when we advised this Committee that the fixed-amount exemption was not serving the purpose intended, that it was penalizing, not encouraging the ambitious, you accepted our proposal for a "sliding scale" exemption that would allow a gradual transition from dependence upon public support to self-dependence and self- support--and this exemption proposal, requiring that $85 plus 50 per cent of monthly earnings be disregarded in determining a blind-aid grant, is now a provision of federal law.
We are appearing before this Committee today in the hope that you will respond again to our urgings and give further and real meaning to the purposes of self-care, self-support, and strengthening of family life incorporated by the 1956 Amendments to the Social Security Act into the objectives to be served by the federally-supported Public Welfare programs for the nation's aged, blind, and disabled citizens.
Although the proclaimed goals of H.R. 10606 are rehabilitation and the attainment of self-support, we do not believe that all avenues have been explored which would make the full realization of these goals possible.
An individual who is economically disadvantaged by blindness, we think, should be given all possible encouragement to prepare and qualify for employment, to strive to secure a job, so that as a result he will be able to earn his own living, no longer dependent upon public assistance.
Not only should such a person be given positive and affirmative encouragement and assistance, but, we believe, all predictable bars which would obstruct his restoration road, all possible obstacles in his way which would retard his progress--or even prevent any progress at all--should be removed.
Title X of the Social Security Act should be amended so as to include all possible incentives to employment. None should be excluded which would assist and encourage the needy blind person to expend the efforts necessary to achieve his rehabilitation!
Title X should be amended to strike from the law and from the lives of willing, ambitious blind individual all possible disincentives to employment. The National Federation of the Blind recommends and urges, therefore, the following changes in H. R. 10606:
1. Adopt S. 908 so that all resources and all income of a blind-aid recipient may be available for his use for transforming an approved rehabilitation plan for achieving self-support into full economic independence and complete liberation from public support.
2. Adopt S. 908 to abolish the legally enforceable obligation of family members to contribute to the support of a needy blind person.
3. Amend Section 132 to require that the additional federal funds therein made available to the public assistance programs for the aged, blind, and the disabled be passed on by the states to the aid recipients, without diminishing the state's share in the cost of such programs.
The Committee report issued with reference to H.R. 10606 should contain a statement making it emphatically clear that the additional federal funds are being provided to raise the depressed living standards of welfare recipients and are not intended as a subsidy to the states to be used to reduce the state's share of welfare cost.
4. Amend Section 106 so that it will be absolutely certain and definite that Congress intends that state administering welfare agencies shall disregard the costs of earning income when determing the resources aid recipients have available to meet their needs.
The Committee report issued with reference to H.R. 10606 should define the term "net income" and should describe in detail the nature of the costs to be disregarded, specifying that at least these include: personal income withholding taxes; Social Security Taxes; food (cost of lunches or other meals purchased away from home); clothing (uniforms or extra clothing necessary for the job); laundry and cleaning service; transportation to and from the job; union dues, if paid; equipment and tools; maintenance of a guide dog (if required).
5. Adopt S. 907 to prohibit the states from requiring applicants for blind aid to accept a lien on their property as a condition for receiving assistance.
6. Restore the provisions of H.R. 10032 which would prohibit state residence requirements in federally-supported public assistance programs of more than one year in length, and adopt S. 787 to eliminate residence requirements entirely in programs of aid to the blind.
7. Retain Section 136 which makes permanent the temporary provisions of Title X of the Social Security Act, which are concerned with the state-financed blind-aid programs in Missouri and Pennsylvania.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, if you were to respond in full to each of my separate urging s, if your were to adopt every proposal which I have presented for your consideration and acceptance, but, at the same time, you were also to allow the proposed Title XVI to become law--then, every gain made for the blind of America would be lost, every statutory improvement intended to aid them in their struggle to live independently would be nullified by the enactment into law of the so-called optional combined state plan for the aged, the blind, and the disabled—for this proposal to consolidate the categories, this mechanism for merging the three separate titles--I, X, and XIV--into one title, would serve to dump all of the adult needs into one common welfare pot--however different and distinctive their particular needs and problems; however separate and categorical their individual requirements for specialized services and for specially trained and qualified social workers to provide these services--to help them with their needs, to help them solve their problems and their difficulties.
We protest against this retrogressive approach to social welfare! We condemn this method of treating the nation's welfare case load--its nearly 3 million disadvantaged and unfortunate citizens!
It is contended, and perhaps rightly so, that enactment of the optional combined state plan for the aged, blind, and disabled would simplify problems of welfare administration; that it would result in greater efficiency of operation. But bureaucratic convenience or administrative efficiency should not be sufficient reason to abandon the progress made over more than a century in social welfare.
As early as 1830, the state of Indiana enacted a measure to provide for the support of its needy blind residents. In 1935, when the Social Security Act was adopted by Congress, some 27 states already had adopted statutes establishing special programs of public assistance for the needy blind. At the present time, three-quarters of the states make separate and special provision for their blind citizens who require help in meeting their basic needs.
Mr. Chairman, these actions by the states are a recognition that the problems and the needs of the blind are different from those of others requiring aid--they are different and distinct from those of the aged, and they are different and distinct from those of the disabled. It is equally true that the needs and the problems of the aged differ from those of the blind--and the difficulties and the requirements of the disabled are also unique and need specialized and separate consideration and treatment.
The man who is 87--without a family and enfeebled; the man who is 23--physically fit, vigorous and healthy, but blind; the completely paralyzed and bedridden mother of three small children, whose husband is unskilled and earns little--each of these presents a distinct social problem requiring the assistance of experienced, wise, and well-trained personnel to solve.
If the aged, the blind, and the disabled are to be scrambled together in one general administrative heap--if a uniform budget is to be established for all aid applicants without regard for their special categorical needs--if agency rules and regulations are to be applied to all recipients alike as though they had similar needs and problems--if case loads are to be an indiscriminate mixture of the aged, the blind, and the disabled--and if case workers are required to be all things to all clients --then the high purposes of self-care and self-support will soon be smothered and stifled by generalized administrative treatment, rather than fostered by categorical consideration of the special needs of the blind, the aged, and the disabled. Public welfare for these people will cease to exist as we have known it--as we in America have known it with pride and satisfaction--and It will become merely a paymaster of public funds to public charges. Though they may be well provided for, though they will neither starve, go naked, or lack for shelter, they will not be rehabilitated and resume normal, independent, and self-supporting lives--but they will be, and they will remain, public charges.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, we of the National Federation of the Blind urge you to strike out the provisions of H.R. 10606 which would establish the proposed Title XVI--the optional combined state plan for the aged, blind, and disabled.
BACK TO CONTENT
Senator R. Vance Hartke of Indiana, author of numerous bills furthering the welfare of the blind, once again demonstrated his informed concern for the problems of blind Americans during May hearings of the Senate Finance Committee on the proposed public welfare amendments.
Immediately following the presentation of oral testimony by John Nagle on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind (see above), the Indiana lawmaker directed a series of nine trenchant questions to Nagle for the purpose of clarifying and reinforcing key points in his statement. In the course of the interrogation both the senator and the spokesman for the organized blind were enabled to spell out their welfare philosophy and program objectives in detail.
Among problems and proposals dealt with in the exchange were the increased income exemption set forth in Senator Hartke's bill, S. 908; the provision for elimination of enforced relatives' responsibility contained in another Hartke bill, S. 905; the necessity of a "pass-on" requirement with regard to additional federal money authorized under the public welfare amendments; the deterrent effect upon blind rehabilitation of existing state lien laws against the property of recipients; the defects and disadvantages of state length-of-residence statutes governing public assistance; the history and significance of the Missouri-Pennsylvania problem in blind aid and its relevance to the present hearings; and the effect upon the interests of blind people which would result from the combining of aid to the blind, the aged and the disabled under a single category (the proposed title XVI).
To the senator's final question--"You are not looking for a handout, are you, Mr. Nagle?"--the NFB's representative retorted that the contrary was true: "Our whole philosophy, our central argument, before this committee and this Congress, in all the times we have appeared here, is to increase employment opportunities for blind people." Nagle pointed out that "ours is a membership organization of blind people, and throughout the year as I travel to various state conventions and talk to blind people by the score, the complaint which I constantly encounter is one that arises from the frustration and bitterness and anger of qualified blind men and women who are not able to get workhouse because of this denial and exclusion are forced to remain of public assistance simply in order to survive.
"That is why we are here today urging not just that one or two incentives to employment be added to the bill, but that the whole necessary and constructive package be enacted, to give these deserving people the opportunity to provide for themselves."
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In mid-January this year an eight-week strike by blind employees of the St. Louis Lighthouse for the Blind--a private nonprofit enterprise—came to an end through mutual agreement of workers and management to the appointment of an arbitration board to review differences between them. The strike had been called by the blind workers in a final effort to gain recognition of the AFL-CIO Leathergoods, Plastics and Novelty Workers Union as their bargaining agent.
That there were two sides, and two legitimate viewpoints, to the warmly contested workshop strike was early made apparent in news coverage by the St. Louis POST-DISPATCH, the St. Louis GLOBE- DEMOCRAT, and such national publications as LISTEN (published by the Catholic Guild for the Blind). These journals gave attention not only to the managers' viewpoint but also to long-standing grievances on the part of the blind employees--which centered primarily around claims of low wages, inferior working conditions and insecurity of employment at the lighthouse workshop.
No such impartiality, however, is evident in belated reporting of the St. Louis strike by one of the most widely circulated periodicals in the field of work for the blind, THE NEW OUTLOOK, published by the American Foundation for the Blind.
In its April issue, under the headline "Blind Workers' Strike Settled," THE NEW OUTLOOK reports the dispute strictly from the standpoint of the workshop's management. Its coverage consists in full of a statement "authorized by the board of directors of The Lighthouse for the Blind, . . . received from Mrs. Lee Johnston, executive director, for publication in the NEW OUTLOOK."
The board's "authorized" statement, overflowing with partisanship and outraged paternalism, is presented by the AFB journal without further comment or balancing information from the workers' side of the controversy. The statement is herewith reprinted, with interpolations as required.
"On November 20, 1961, a group of workers at the Lighthouse for the Blind in St. Louis called a strike for recognition of a union. This was done by a minority of blind workers, others remaining at work throughout the strike, and several of those in the striking group came back to work after a short time." (According to LISTEN and the POST DISPATCH, the strike began on November 20 when "approximately half of the 80 employees did not report for work and established a picket line at the Lighthouse." The cause of the strike, left deliberately vague by the board's statement, stemmed from employee charges that the Lighthouse had "failed to establish a set wage scale and has made no provisions for seniority and orderly layoffs" despite efforts of a shop progress committee formed some three years earlier. Ralph Lewallen spokesperson for the striking group, was reported as claiming that the blind workers were in need of a bargaining agency since they had "little success" in gaining a hearing through discussions with the Lighthouse's board of directors. As for the board's assertion that some of the blind strikers "came back to work after a short time," is this evidence of their lack of conviction--or only of their lack of security?)
"The striking group had approached several unions who rejected their request, and were finally accepted by the Leather Goods, Plastics, and Novelty Workers Union. " (The inference would seem to be that labor unions generally are indifferent to the cause of sheltered workers. The truth is otherwise, as AFL-CIO spokesmen have repeatedly emphasized; but if the charge were true what a commentary it would be on the plight of disabled workshop employees--surely among the most insecure and dependent members of the labor force.)
"On November 17, 1961, when the Lighthouse board first heard of the possibility of the strike, they sent a letter to each worker explaining their position as trustees only, and their inability to delegate their responsibility to a union. In spite of this the strike was called, and the National Labor Relations Board refused jurisdiction." (The policy-making board, a primary arm of Lighthouse management, exposes in this remarkable declaration the arrogant self-image of many custodial agencies not merely as employers or management but as guardians or "trustees" acting solely in the interests of their blind "wards. " The assumption, of course, is that the blind are themselves helpless to understand or act upon their own interests. As for the position of the National Labor Relations Board, see the article by Dr. Jacobus ten Broek, "Character and Function of Sheltered Workshops," below)
"Father Leo Brown of St. Louis University, well known labor mediator, was asked to mediate and he met once with workers and board, but unfortunately had to leave to help mediate a strike in Washington, D.C., on which negotiations continued for weeks. Father Dismas Clark of Dismas House was asked by the strikers to help, and he met with board and strikers on December 18. He proposed the appointment of an arbitration board. This was accepted by the Lighthouse board but rejected by the strikers.
"Finally on January 15, 1962, it was agreed by both sides there could be no union, and the same proposition which had been accepted by the board on December 18, 1961, was accepted by the strikers." (Since the arbitration board was clearly proposed as a substitute for recognizing the union or accepting any of the workers' grievances, it is not surprising that the strikers initially rejected it. More noteworthy is the blithe assertion of the board that "there could be no union," implying either that such a union must be illegal or that it would be unnecessary since the board already adequately represents the workers! Neither implication is, of course, true. The truth is simply that the controlling board opposes any union organization of its employees. At one point during the strike, according to LISTEN, the board's president was quoted as saying: "To recognize the union would not accomplish a thing except to take money out of the workers' pockets for union dues." He was said later to have cited "problems involved in obtaining work contracts for blind persons" as a reason that "many of the group's wage demands cannot be met.")
"An arbitration board composed of leaders in industrial engineering, public relations, and management and labor will work closely with board and workers, and two top leaders in labor are being appointed to the Lighthouse board. So it is believed unrest will end. This has been a very costly experience, both for the Lighthouse and the strikers.
"From the first the board took the position that they would not reply publicly to charges made by the strikers as that would prolong the controversy and get one group of blind persons against another." This final sentence further reveals the attitude of the sheltered workshop board that the claims of their workers are unworthy of discussion or reply. The implication that the grievances of the striking group range them against their nonstriking fellow employees may be an effective rhetorical device; but even if it were true, which is unlikely, it would hardly be grounds for ignoring the substance of those arguments or treating them as beneath the dignity of public rejoinder.
The outstanding issues to be reviewed by the arbitration board, according to the St. Louis newspapers, include seniority, work standards, vacations and "other problems" such as wages. The official board statement published by the NEW OUTLOOK makes no mention of these problems, although most of them had previously been aired in press coverage of the strike.
What is perhaps most curious about the OUTLOOK' s presentation of the strike is that the editors waited so long to make mention of it. The dispute was settled on January 15, and the board's statement released shortly thereafter. (The statement was quoted and discussed in the February issue of LISTEN.) There was ample time for the OUTLOOK'S staff to get the facts and put them into perspective. Can it be that this one-sided presentation with its standard omission of the case for the striking blind workers, accurately reflects the position of the American Foundation for the Blind? If so, we respectfully suggest that Editors Barnett and Liechty correct an error of long standing in their nomenclature. The title of their periodical should read: THE OLD OUTLOOK OF THE AGENCIES.
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By Dr. Jacobus tenBroek
(Editor's note: The following article by the president of the American Brotherhood for the Blind is a greatly abridged version of a paper prepared two years ago under the title, "Character and Function of Sheltered Workshops for the Blind: A review of State Statutes." Inkprint copies of this important monograph are available on request to the American Brotherhood, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California. Among other omissions, all footnotes and their numbered references in the text have been eliminated from the present version. In addition to his Brotherhood activities, Dr. tenBroek is chairman of the California State Board of Social Welfare, a university professor in Berkeley, California, and founder and former president of the National Federation of the Blind.)
The institution of the sheltered workshop, for over a century an inconspicuous feature of the American welfare scene, has recently emerged from its obscurity to become the storm-center of one of the liveliest controversies in the entire field of social work and public welfare. At the heart of the controversy is a fundamental disagreement over the proper function and future role of the sheltered shop. One viewpoint holds that a proper role of the shops is that of providing work evaluation, determination of abilities, and the development of work tolerance on the part of disabled persons — along with vocational training itself--as part of the process of vocational rehabilitation. More recently, doctors and health officials have begun to campaign for the use of the workshop as a medical facility for restorative, adjustive and pre-vocational services centering around the principle of work therapy. Finally, the oldest and perhaps still the most widely held viewpoint is that which regards the workshop as a place of remunerative employment for disabled individuals.
Two of these approaches to the sheltered workshop find support for their arguments in federal law and administrative rulings. The proponents of the vocational adjustment and training function point out that, since the passage of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act in 1954, sheltered workshops have been recognized as a legitimate training adjunct of the federal-state vocational rehabilitation program; and in addition they may now cite the majority ruling of the National Labor Relations Board, handed down in March of this year, (1960), that rehabilitation is the essential function of the workshop.
The defenders of the employment status of the workshop may demonstrate that, even with the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, "sheltered workshop" is defined as primarily a place which provides remunerative employment, and that in fact rehabilitation administrators frequently regard the placement of their clients in such shops as sufficient to meet the remunerative placement requirements which are the ultimate objective of vocational rehabilitation programs. Moreover, the employment argument finds further support in the fact that the very exemption of sheltered workshops from the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act was granted on the premise that they are places of employment.
To some extent the issues raised by these differences of viewpoint are theoretical in nature, involving such questions as: What are the proper goals of workshops? What is their greatest usefulness as instruments of welfare?
To a larger extent, perhaps, the issues are practical: What in actual fact are the functions of such shops? What are the prevailing conditions of training, work, and release?
On both the theoretical and practical levels, disagreement is wide-spread and often acrimonious. Insofar as they are theoretical, the questions raised by the workshop can only be settled by reference to policies and goals. Insofar as they are practical, such questions can only be answered by reference to fact.
Unfortunately, some of those who are in a position to assemble and disseminate the facts have not done so. For example, the Sheltered Workshop Committee within the Department of Labor has not chosen to fulfill its duties in these areas.
One important source of information concerning sheltered workshops, however, is available to all. It consists of the statutes of the various states governing their publicly operated sheltered shops. Anyone with access to a law library can look at these statutes. No doubt they yield their information by means of complicated sentences and technical language, but they do yield it. That information is, in large measure, the content of the pages to follow.
In particular, we shall seek to identify the salient characteristics and purposes of the workshops as specified in these laws--with reference to the objectives they purport to serve, the nature of their opportunities and undertakings, the attitudes they reflect toward those who participate in them, and their working conditions and social atmosphere.
The principal question to keep in mind through these pages is: What light do they shed upon the basic issue of the proper role and function of sheltered workshops within a system of welfare? Do they distinguish between--or do they merely confuse and commingle--the separate functions of (1) a vocational evaluation, adjustment and training center, (2) a therapeutic facility, and (3) a place of remunerative employment?
Sheltered workshops, as such, first arose in America over a century ago as an outgrowth of the special schools for the blind whose curricula concentrated upon the provision of simple forms of vocational training--in such limited and manual skills as weaving, knitting, and chair caning, as well as in music and similar arts. At first it was the hope of the educators that "the blind, with proper instruction, will be able to maintain themselves free of charge from their friends or the State." Unfortunately, however, nothing had been done to persuade society of the capacities of these blind trainees; and before long, as one report put it, "Our graduates began to return to us, representing the embarrassment of their condition abroad, and soliciting employment at our hands." Thus were born the sheltered workshops--as segregated places of permanent employment for those regarded by society (if not by themselves and their protectors) as "unemployable."
Although sheltered workshops emerged in their modern form a century ago, their ancestry may be traced at least to the middle ages. It is possible to distinguish four separate historical associations from which the contemporary workshops derive: namely, those of the workhouse, the church, the hospital, and the school. Since the traces of this long and complicated heritage are still to be seen in many sheltered workshops of today, it is instructive to glance briefly at the sources and character of these various influences.
The oldest influence of all is that which had its origin in religious protection of the disabled. "Since the Church was the first charitable organization," a federal official has written, "inevitably some lines of the workshop movement have strong religious ties. When the indigent, the physically disabled and the mentally different were herded in the asylums of the 1700's, they were being brought together not to ameliorate their condition but simply to get them off the street. " A primary concern of the church for its disabled and indigent wards was with their souls as well as with their bodies--with spiritual redemption and moral uplift perhaps more than with vocational rehabilitation and physical restoration as understood today. Among many privately operated workshops today, such as those of the Salvation Army and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, these are still the principal goals of workshop activity. The Volunteers of America (an offshoot of the Salvation Army) currently sponsors at least 70 such workshops; while perhaps the most successful of all the mission or church-sponsored workshop chains is that of the Goodwill Industries, founded by a Methodist minister in 1905, which by 1957 controlled 120 shops throughout the country.
A corollary line of development from which the contemporary workshop has emerged is that of the medieval and early modern hospital which, like the asylum, was generally under church auspices, but may be distinguished in terms of its specific function. European hospitals of the early sixteenth century were described by one observer as "those places where the sick are fed and cared for, where a certain number of paupers is supported, where boys and girls are reared, where abandoned infants are nourished, where the insane are confined, and where the blind dwell." The purpose of the hospital was primarily to care for the sick and totally disabled, but in the bedlam created by its motley population there were also the rudiments of school, nursery, almshouse, and insane asylum. Those present-day workshops which incorporate the provision of medical and therapeutic services therefore may be seen as the outcome of a line of development reaching back to the medieval hospital and extending through the American county hospitals of more recent times-institutions which also sought to fulfill the "double function" of healing the sick and employing the handicapped.
Another significant precursor of the sheltered workshop was the workshouse, or almshouse, which evolved as an institution of work relief accompanying the poor laws of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For present purposes the chief importance of the workhouse was that it was designed, not primarily for the ill or handicapped, hit for the ablebodied poor. The workhouse provided an institutionalized form of poor-relief; and in keeping with Elizabethan assumptions of the characterological causes of poverty, it was made as disagreeable as possible and its wages held to a bare minimum above starvation so that not many would willingly seek admission or contentedly remain. The gospel of work as the means of salvation (and, conversely, of idleness as the route to damnation) virtually converted the almshouse into a forced-labor camp; indeed, the distinction between workhouse and jailhouse was often difficult to discern.
Finally, as indicated above, the sheltered workshops grew up as adjuncts of the special schools for the blind established in the nineteenth century. However, it is significant that these schools soon deliberately severed their connection with the shops they had themselves created, as it became apparent that the functions of education and employment could not feasibly be mixed within the same program. Thereafter, the workshops came to be operated independently of educational and custodial institutions.
The historical development of modern welfare philosophy has been one of increasing recognition of the necessary distinctions and incompatibilities among these several emphases and approaches to the problem of disability. Some among them--notably that of the workhouse and almshouse, and possibly also to some extent that of the religious mission--have come to be recognized as anachronisms. Others, such as the vocational training emphasis of the early schools and the sheltered employment conception which succeeded it, still retain some support in welfare theory and policy. But it is clear that the direction of progress has been completely away from the primitive notion of an encompassing "bedlam" in which all the sick and disabled, rejected and despised members of society would be thrown together--and in which the various and dissimilar functions of the church, the school, the factory, the hospital and the prison would be simultaneously carried on.
It remains to be seen whether the statutes of the states governing their publicly operated sheltered workshops have kept pace with this clear direction of progress.
Conditions of Labor.
State employees generally are excluded from compulsory coverage of unemployment compensation under the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. The Code also exempts charitable organizations, including privately operated workshops, from compulsory coverage. Such states as Oregon, California, Washington, and Wisconsin have taken legislative and administrative steps to extend the coverage of unemployment compensation to some or all of the workers in their state-operated sheltered workshops. With respect to privately operated workshops, Hawaii is the only one of 32 states having such shops to take legislative action changing their status. It did so by dropping the exemptions of charitable organizations from unemployment compensation coverage. In short, the vast majority of employees of sheltered workshops (both public and private) throughout the country are without the protection of unemployment compensation laws.
The workers in sheltered shops face an additional deprivation. The Labor Management Relations Act excludes the states and their political subdivisions from the definition of "employer" for purposes of collective bargaining. A recent ruling of the National Labor Relations Board withheld the collective bargaining provisions of the Act from privately operated sheltered shops. This ruling was handed down in the case of Sheltered Workshops of San Diego, Inc. vs. United Association of Handicapped. By a majority decision of three to two, the National Labor Relations Board refused to assert jurisdiction. The ground taken was that "the Workshop's purposes are directed entirely toward rehabilitation of unemployable persons" and that "its commercial activities should be viewed only as a means to that end. " The chief arguments against this ruling were forcefully stated by the dissenting opinion of the two minority members of the National Labor Relations Board: "Why then does the majority find that it would not effectuate the purposes of the Act to assert jurisdiction here? It does so because the Workshop's rehabilitation work benefits the entire community. We do not, of course, deny that this is so, but we reject the implicite corollary that a non-profit organization engaging in socially beneficial activities therefore owes its employees less than other employers do. The right of employees to select a representative and to bargain with their employer concerning their grievances and work conditions should not be so lightly disregarded. The majority has balanced the Workshop's commercial activities against its rehabilitation program and has decided that the latter outweighs the former. We would balance the Workshop's total program, commercial and rehabilitative, against the rights of these unfortunate and disabled employees, and would find that the latter is equally important."
The greatest deprivation to workers in sheltered workshops is the exemption of these shops from the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, With reference to the blind alone, at least 85 of the more than 100 sheltered shops primarily employing sightless workers hold certificates of exemption issued by the Department of Labor under Section 214 of the Act. The average minimum of such exemptions (1960) is 53 cents per hour--as opposed to the national minimum wage of $1.00 per hour for industrial labor. About 100 blind workers in sheltered shops receive a minimum wage below 40 cents per hour. Given the generally acknowledged fact that blind persons have special additional expenses incident to their blindness, exemption from minimum wage guarantees is thus a fact of vital significance to workers in sheltered shops.
It is such considerations as these which have led a special subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means--reporting in March of this year (1960) on the social security program of disability insurance--to question whether employment in sheltered workshops should properly be regarded as substantial gainful activity. The subcommittee concluded that wage conditions in the shops were generally so deplorable that it should be a rare case in which an employee of a sheltered workshop may be considered to be engaged in substantial gainful activity and thus held ineligible for disability insurance payments. (Administration of Social Security Disability Program, Preliminary Report to the Committee on Ways and Means, submitted by the Subcommittee on the Administration of the Social Security Laws, March 11, 1960, page 22.)
With but few exceptions, it may be said in summary, the employees of sheltered workshops, both publicly and privately operated, (1) do not possess the benefits of unemployment compensation; (2) they do not possess the benefits of workmen's compensation; (3) they do not possess the benefits of Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance under the Social Security Program; (4) the privileges of collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act are withheld from them; and (5) they are exempted from the minimum wage guarantees of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In such circumstances of enforced poverty, insecurity, and discriminatory withholding of privileges and denial of rights, can it be contended that the sheltered shops rehabilitate or supply remunerative employment for their disabled workers? . . .
Of the total of 389 workshops holding certificates of exemption from minimum wage laws, 85 primarily serve blind persons. According to the Department of Labor, there were in 1958 4,700 blind persons employed in these shops (in 1960 the Labor Department statement is "less than 5,000") who were subject to certificates of exemption; there were others who did earn the statutory minimum wage, but statistics relating to them are unavailable. Fifty-seven of these shops presently belong to the National Industries for the Blind, which employed 3,712 blind persons in 1956. The lowest minimum wage approved for these workers in 1958 was 10 cents an hour, the highest minimum wage was 80 cents per hour, and the average minimum wage 53 cents an hour. These figures represent the lowest wage permitted in such shops. In construing the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Department of Labor requires that every worker on piece rates be paid the same wage paid to workers in adjacent private industry for the same work. This is not a very valuable standard, since much of the work done in these shops is not carried on by any appreciable segment of private industry--and in any event is not enforced by the Labor Department. . ..
From this survey of the statutory provisions of the states governing their sheltered workshops, several conclusions clearly emerge. The three distinctive functions of sheltered shops--vocational rehabilitation, medical therapy, and remunerative employment--are rarely distinguished in the statutes. Instead the workshop is commonly conceived as a combination of two, or even all three, of these functions--in effect, as an all-purpose solution to the numerous and varied problems confronted by the blind. In what is perhaps their most characteristic form these statutes simply perpetuate a relic of the past a vague combination of the workhouse, the almshouse, the factory and the asylum, carefully segregated from "normal" competitive society and administered by a custodial staff armed with sweeping discretionary authority. In many cases their responsibility for the client of their services is so broad as to appear to embrace the functions of nearly all other community agencies and groups. in the administration of moral uplift and regeneration they assume in effect the role of the church; in the provision of intellectual instruction they exercise the function of the schools in the enforcement of discipline and the power of punishment they resemble a penal institution; and in their emphasis upon group activities of a social, recreational and cultural nature they take on the characteristics of a service club or voluntary association. Over and above these disparate if not conflicting responsibilities, the assumption of which is surely of doubtful propriety, the sheltered workshop typically furnishes some form of work experience to its participants, generally for wages and often directed toward the objective of self-support. But few state laws differentiate adequately or clearly among the purposes which these activities may be supposed to serve.
On the basis of our study it is not excessive to conclude that the sheltered workshop as it exists Within the states today is a welfare "catch-all" which means all things to all men, and therefore possesses no distinctive and specific characteristic upon which all may agree. Indeed, by their failure to distinguish among the three separate functions available to them, the workshops of the states must be adjudged to be failures in all three. The nature and extent of their failure with respect to each of these functions may be briefly states.
1. Vocational Rehabilitation. There are dangers and difficulties involved in the use of sheltered workshops in any program of rehabilitation. Most serious of all are those attending the support of workshops within the public program of vocational rehabilitation (Public Law 565). In their traditional, and still perhaps their most characteristic, role as permanent employment outlets for the disabled, the sheltered shops are incompatible with the purposes and goals of modern vocational rehabilitation. Under no circumstances should they be utilized as "dumping grounds" for clients of vocational rehabilitation, such as the blind, for whom normal job placement is a difficult but essential prerequisite to proper rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation agencies should be discouraged from regarding the option of sheltered employment as a "closure" for their clients, however convenient such a solution may be in terms of economy and rapid turnover of the caseload.
Because of their customary role as sheltered (i. e., segregated, covered and noncompetitive) employment retreats, the social and psychological environment of the workshops is often not conducive to the paramount objective of vocational rehabilitation: that of restoring the disabled person to a vocational status of normality and equality. Where "feasible" rehabilitants are thrown together with the "non-feasible"; where working facilities and methods are geared to outmoded and unproductive handicrafts such as a broom-making and chair-caning, and where the working atmosphere is commonly one of defeatism if not of despair, the overriding purposes of modern vocational rehabilitation cannot be served but only undermined.
Apart from psychological and social factors, the economics of sheltered workshops equally tend to militate against their successful adaptation, as presently constituted, to vocational rehabilitation goals. First, they are in most cases at least partially subsidized, and so removed from the normal incentives and competition of ordinary industry. Second, insofar as economic considerations enter, workshop managers are tempted to retain their ablest and most productive workers permanently rather than risk a financial loss by graduating them into normal employment. Finally, the economic and working conditions within sheltered shops are commonly far below those in normal industry. The existence of such conditions strongly argues against the public support of sheltered workshops, under any circumstances, as training centers for vocational rehabilitation clients.
Finally, the historic associations of sheltered workshops with the workhouse, almshouse, asylum and church of the middle ages have left conspicuous traces upon the majority of present-day shops, giving them often the character of agencies for moral redemption rather than that of means to the restoration of productive capacities. Institutions thus motivated are unlikely to be equally qualified or equipped in the mundane areas of vocational guidance, training, and selective placement.
2. Terminal Employment. With respect to the function of providing permanent (or "terminal") remunerative employment for the blind and severely disabled, sheltered workshops have failed to fulfill their responsibility to their employees. Indeed, they have for the most part sought to avoid the normal obligations of employers through exemption from the laws fixing minimum standards of employment and working conditions. Workers in sheltered shops deserve and require the same protection of their rights as do the workers in other industries: specifically, with respect to wages, hours, vacations, sick leave, labor-management relations, and the like. However, blind workshop employees have never received, and do not now receive, such protection. Not only do wages fail to meet the cost of living; they fail to meet the minimum requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, from which sheltered shops have in fact been explicitly exempted. Nor can blind workshop employees hope to improve conditions by their own efforts; for one thing, they are not organized into unions, and for another thing (as noted earlier) they have been denied the collective bargaining protection of the National Labor Relations Act. Finally, many of these employees do not have entitlement to workmen's compensation or social security privileges, and most are denied the benefits of unemployment compensation. In short, blind workers in sheltered employment are virtually in the position of wards, without legal rights or recourse, and reduced to an abject dependency upon the good will and discretion of their employers. In such circumstances, it is conservative understatement to say that sheltered workshops have failed to meet the conditions of employment to which American workers are entitled and accustomed.
3. Medical Therapy. On the basis of our survey of statutory provisions, the least plausible of all claims for sheltered workshops is that they have provided or can provide adequate facilities for medical and therapeutic assistance. For such facilities to be efficient, they should be completely divorced from considerations of remunerative employment on the one hand and of vocational training on the other. The purposes of therapy are, of course, not economic but medical and psychological in character. The very cases for whom such assistance is the primary need--i.e., the multiply and totally disabled--are those incapable of self-sufficient employment, let alone of vocational preparation for return to normal occupations. The statutes which we have examined plainly display the tendency of sheltered shops to become terminal places of employment in which so-called "unemployable s" may find a drudge's niche at the workbench. It goes without saying that something more than the stereotyped "blind trades" of weaving and chair caning is required to serve a genuine therapeutic purpose and furnish healthy incentives to personal adjustment. The clinging heritage of the alms-house and asylum, into which the supposed derelicts of society were dumped and forgotten, remains sufficiently in evidence in present-day workshops to vitiate the prospect of their constructive uses for medical and therapeutic purposes. What the severely disabled clients of such services most clearly and urgently need is a form of productive endeavor carefully adjusted to their unique individual circumstances and individually designed to make constructive use of their enforced leisure. Such a therapeutic enterprise must be in the fullest sense "client-centered" rather than geared to industrial markets, economic consideration, or the convenience of traditional trades and handicrafts.
This is not to say, of course, that the three separate functions which sheltered workshops have purported to serve--those of vocational rehabilitation, of employment, and of therapy--have no place in modern programs of health and welfare. For the blind and other disabled persons in the productive years of life, vocational rehabilitation is the essential and overriding need; but its purposes of occupational guidance, training, and competitive job placement cannot be met by the sheltered workshop. If, either within or outside the vocational rehabilitation process, there is need for "vocational adjustment" or therapeutic centers, that need should be met not by the sheltered shop but by special rehabilitation facilities such as those authorized by Public Law 565 (where they are carefully distinguished from workshops.) "Rehabilitation facility," the law states, "means a facility operated for the primary purpose of assisting in the rehabilitation of disabled persons--(l) which provides one or more of the following types of services: (A) testing, fitting, or training in the use of prostheyic devices; (B) prevocational or conditioning therapy; (C) physical or occupational therapy; (D) adjustment training; or (E) evaluation or control of special disabilities; or (2) through which is provided an integrated program of medical, psychological, social and vocational evaluation and services under competent professional supervision. ..." Finally, there is no doubt that a genuine need exists for permanent noncompetitive employment of certain categories of the severely handicapped, but that need also (as we have seen above) is not met by sheltered workshops of the type described by the governing statutes of the states.
In summary, the fundamental failure of sheltered workshops for the blind and disabled lies in their indiscriminate intermingling of functions and purposes which are demonstrably incompatible if not mutually exclusive. It is not too much to conclude, on the basis of the statutory evidence, that the sheltered workshop has become an anachronism which America, if it is to practice successfully the democratic welfare philosophy it professes, can ill afford to perpetuate.
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A bill now before Congress seeking to protect blind operators of vending stands from the encroachment of automatic vending machines--long a threat to the survival of the blind-run enterprises—has been sharply opposed by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and by the Bureau of the Budget in two communications sent to Senator John L. McClellan, chairman of the powerful Committee on Government Operations.
The bill, S. 394, was introduced by Senator Jennings Randolph, co-author of the Randolph-Sheppard Act which governs the vending stand program. The legislation has the active support of the National Federation of the Blind and other groups concerned with rehabilitation and economic independence for blind persons. It provides specially for the assignment of income from automatic vending machines on federal property exclusively to blind operators of vending stands in the same locations, as well as for establishment of a Presidentially-appointed statutory Appeals Board to enforce preferences accorded to blind operators under the program.
(THE BLIND AMERICAN joins with organizations of the blind in supporting S. 394 and invites its readers to voice their approval of this vital protection by writing to their senators and representatives in Congress, as well as to the Honorable John L. McClellan, Chairman, Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate, Washington 25, D.C.)
The negative views of the Executive Branch were directly expressed in a letter of April 23 to Senator McClellan from Wilbur J. Cohen, Assistant Secretary of HEW, who argued that existing regulations adequately provide for solution of the problems involved without need for special legislation or the appointment of a separate appeals board. He also maintained that "as a general matter the establishment of an Appeals Board outside the agency responsible for Federal property management would tend to weaken agency managerial responsibility particularly if decisions of said Board are mandatory on such agencies."
Significantly, however, the HEW official conceded that "on the other hand a review of existing circumstances indicates that State licensing agencies have had no recourse against agency decisions or determinations which in their opinion are inimical to the purposes of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. "But Cohen stated that the problems which have given rise to S. 394 could be met through administrative channels, and that "this approach is currently being explored."
The Administration rejection of the vending-stand bill was also contained in a letter signed by an assistant director of the Bureau of the Budget, Phillip S. Hughes, constituting a report on S. 394. While expressing sympathy for "proposals to deal with the difficulties that blind vending stand operators may encounter in establishing and operating stands on Federal property," the budget official went on to state that "we believe remedies such as those proposed by the bill should be considered only if the problems in this area cannot be dealt with appropriately by administrative action. In this connection, it should be noted that the provisions of the bill present a number of difficulties. Exclusive assignment of vending machine income to blind operators would be difficult to justify in those cases, for example, where such machines do not compete substantially with vending stands. A statutory Appeals Board would create administrative difficulties for agency heads and would dilute their responsibility for departmental management."
In lieu of an independent appeals board, the Budget Bureau spokesman expressed the usual preference of the Executive Branch for administrative (rather than statutory) changes "to establish effective appeals procedures within the agencies, and to require reporting of agency decisions to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare." It was not indicated what improvement, if any, such adjustments might be expected to bring to the precarious economic condition of blind vending-stand operators.
What is clearly indicated, however, in the two letters submitted by representatives of the Executive Branch is the deep and unmistakable concern of officials in the Federal Department and the Bureau of the Budget, if not for the rights and problems of their blind clientele under the Randolph-Sheppard Act, at least for the prerogatives and discretionary authority of the federal agencies and administrators. Thus the Budget Bureau's letter concluded with a recommendation to table the bill indefinitely:
"The determination as to whether regulations can be adequately revised to meet the problems of the blind operators, and even more important the testing of their adequacy once revised, will take considerable time. We expect to initiate administrative action with regard to this matter promptly. We believe that if administrative action will work, it would be decidedly preferable to the approach in S. 394. We therefore recommend deferring action on legislation such as S. 394."
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Statewide Meeting for South Carolinians. The new $35,000 Aurora Center, owned and operated by the Columbia Chapter of the South Carolina Aurora Club of the Blind, was the scene of its first statewide meeting last month. More than 100 persons were in attendance at the special one-day meeting, the theme of which was "Education and Its Relationship to Blindness."
Among the noted speakers who appeared on the program was Dr. Mary Calvert, an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of South Carolina, who discussed broad social and cultural connotations associated with blindness. Miss Sherry Barber, a sightless college freshman, spoke to the meeting concerning the problems which confront blind students at the college level. Miss Barber is herself a glowing example of how a blind individual can cope successfully with educational problems
Mrs. Lillian Trotter, teacher of a class of blind children in the Sumter (S. C.) public school system--which is, incidentally, the only class of its type in the state--proudly reported on the success of her class and the acceptance of the blind students throughout the school. State Superintendent of Education Dr. Jesse T. Anderson addressed the meeting on the need for educational improvements generally, with emphasis on the importance of heightened attention to the 62 legally blind children in the public schools of the state.
Highlight of the special Aurora Club conference was the evening banquet, featuring an address by David Baker, an attorney who was highly instrumental in securing funds for the erection of the new Aurora Center. A fascinating demonstration of the Center's Braille switchboard training facilities was given by Miss Lois Boltin, who is in charge of this important training program--the only program of its kind in South Carolina.
Dr. Robert T. Fletcher, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, died recently from the effects of smoke inhalation during a fire which consumed his home. Dr. Fletcher, who was 50, had been the president and dominant spirit in the Michigan Federation of the Blind and was long active in numerous organizations concerned with welfare of the blind.
Award to Blind College Student. From the San Francisco EXAMINER, May 16, 1962: "A blind Korean-American scholar at the University of California received a special present on his 27th birthday yesterday--the highest academic award the American Foundation for the Blind can bestow.
"Thomas Joe, maintaining an 'A' average while working toward his PhD. degree in Political Science, was given the Captain Brown Medal for Academic Achievement in a ceremony in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel's Empire Room.
"The famed Helen Keller was among judges who selected Joe for the award. Joe, born in Wisconsin, enrolled at U. C. in 1954 and received his B. A. degree in 1958. He won his M. A. degree in 1961.
"For the last year, he has been a Legislative intern in the Sacramento office of Assemblyman Phillip Burton. He is receiving a grant-in-aid from the Ford Foundation and the California Legislative Assembly and is studying at U.C. on an American Foundation for the Blind scholarship.
"The Foundation award is given annually to the best blind student in the United States."
Blind Students Found Equal. Blind college students achieve grades equal to those of students with sight, according to a research study completed recently by Recording for the Blind, Inc. The survey, aided by a grant from the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, involved hour-long interviews with 366 blind college students throughout the country.
As reported in the NEWSLETTER of Recording for the Blind, the study found that over 70 percent of the students had attained B average or better. "Those who had the higher averages were more likely to have been rated higher by interviewers in physical appearance, poise, diction, vocabulary, alertness, comprehension of questions, and adequacy of response, " according to the report. There were also found more likely to read heavily, to read more in recorded form, to take notes often, to own tape recorders, and to record sighted readers with the aid of tape recorders.
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