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, California.

Editor: Floyd W. Matson
Executive Secretary: Anthony Mannino, 205 South
Western Avenue, Room 206, Los Angeles 4, California.

Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

VOLUME III NO. 2 February 1963




By Anthony Mannino








The full extent of the destructive blow about to be dealth to blind recipients of public assistance by the new joint category known technically as "title XVI" has now been officially disclosed through issuance of a series of "questions and answers" by the federal administrators to state agencies.

The tersely worded ultimatum--incorporated in a State Letter (No. 616) distributed in January from the Bureau of Family Services--confronts blind Americans with the "moment of truth" regarding their distinctive aid program under the new order inaugurated by the 1962 amendments.

The disastrous consequences for the blind of this so-called "optional" provision for a combined state plan of aid to the blind, the aged and the disabled were accurately defined last October in a legislative bulletin of the National Federation of the Blind, published by THE BLIND AMERICAN under the title, "'Snare 16': The Worse Comes to the Worst." But in its January directive to the states, the federal agency has gone much farther in spelling out the details of the impending disaster.

All the spurious pretenses of protection and consideration for the blind and other client groups, which formerly veiled the true nature of the combined aid title under a layer of soothing syrup, have been stripped away as the federal officials have gained confidence in their power to impose this categorical bedlam upon the states and upon their needy clients of welfare.

The new state letter makes clear that a "common standard" governing need and payment under title XVI will be definitely enforced across the board--with the certain result that in numerous states Aid to the Blind cash grants will be drastically reduced.

But the bulldozer of the common standard will wreak its leveling effects far beyond the area of "need and payment." It will impose on all alike the same standard of "resources that can be held" (such as a home, cash reserves and so on)--which means that in states where separate and higher standards have been achieved by the blind (e.g., in Minnesota and Nevada among many others) these gains will be cancelled and abolished, and numbers of blind recipients may find themselves suddenly cut off from aid.

Residence requirements also must be identical for all groups of recipients under the catch-all title--as must provisions for relatives' responsibility, for liens or recovery of property, for allocation of income to dependents, and for other factors once treated separately and regarded as variable according to the distinctive characteristics of the three aided groups.

The supposed "legal basis" for this punitive and discriminatory requirement of a common standard, as cited by the official letter, is nothing more nor less than a provision in the law calling for "reasonable standards, consistent with the objectives of this title, for determining eligibility for and the extent of aid or assistance under the plan"--along with a vague reference to other unspecified requirements mainly concerned with "equitable treatment."

Since on the face of it a common standard is both unreasonable and inequitable with respect to the blind, and moreover is inconsistent with the self-support objectives of the title, it is evident that there is neither "legal basis" nor reasonable justification for this deliberate retreat into a welfare bedlam--in which "the lame, the halt, and the blind" are indiscriminately confined and confused.

Among other things the official question-and-answer bulletin discloses that:

-- A State which once decides to try out title XVI is committed to it forever; it can never terminate that plan and resume operation of a separate plan or plans under title I, X, or XIV.

-- Additional allowances to the blind for such things as clothing and grooming, necessitated by the special needs of blindness, will in effect be disallowed in the interest of "uniformity" (unless they are to be extended equally to the aged and disabled, which by definition they cannot be).

-- The four states which have a separate agency or commission administering aid to the blind are exempted from the common-standard requirement for blind recipients under title XVI--which produces the conclusion that blind people in these four states have distinctive needs and requirements of their own, but blind people in the other 46 states do not.

The question-and-answer portion of the State Letter is as follows:


Questions and Answers

A. The New Plan

1. What plan requirements must the State include in filing a State plan for its new program under title XVI?

Answer. --All plan requirements and other provisions in title XVI must be included in the new State plan. Some of the effective dates in title XVI are different from those in the other titles. In developing its new plan the State will need to check carefully with the provisions of the new title.

2. If a State has a program of MAA and wishes to continue it with Federal financial participation, must it be included in the title XVI plan?

Answer. --Yes.

3. If a State has no MAA program or APTD, must it be initiated in order to have an approvable plan under title XVI?

Answer. --No. It a State does not have an approved plan for a program under one of the separate titles, such program does not have to be established in order to receive a grant under title XVI. If the State wishes to receive a Federal grant for a program under one of the other adult titles it must be brought within the plan approved under title XVI. Thus, the State's decision to receive a grant under title XVI precludes it from initiating an adult program under the separate titles. A State may at any time drop one of the adult groups included under title XVI, but it can only receive Federal grants for those included under that title.

B. Administration and Fiscal

1. May a State plan under title XVI provide for variation in State-local sharing of the non-Federal share of costs by types of aid?

Answer. --If it is necessary for a State to propose variation in the State-local sharing in costs for specified groups under a new title XVI plan, each such plan will be examined on its own merits. It is recognized that some States will need legislation to simplify the State-local sharing of the non-Federal share of costs of assistance and/or administration, which now differ from program to program. The fact that there may be a different basis for State-local financing for groups of needy individuals cannot be permitted to affect adversely those aspects necessary to equitable administration of the program, such as State-wide operation under a plan that is mandatory on all political subdivisions of the State, use of State funds to pay a substantial part of the total costs of assistance and administration, and administration under standards, policies and methods subject to rules and regulations of the State agency.

2. Does the present restriction on Federal financial participation for assistance provided concurrently under OAA and MAA still apply under title XVI?

Answer. --Yes. In addition, under title XVI the restriction extends to all recipients of the new adult category as well as to aid to families with dependent children. That is, an MAA payment cannot be claimed for Federal participation if it was for medical services rendered when an individual was a recipient of aid to the aged, blind, or disabled or of aid to families with dependent children.

3. With respect to computing Federal participation, are recipients and payments under MAA combined with all other recipients and payments in the title XVI plan?

Answer. --No. Federal participation for MAA is computed separately based on the amount of such payments without regard to a recipient count and average maximum payment.

4. May a State, which has received payments under title XVI with respect to a period of operation of its title XVI plan, subsequently terminate that plan and resume operation of a plan under title I, X, or XIV?

Answer. --No. Section 141(b) of P.L. 87-543 makes it clear that the State's decision to use the combined title is irrevocable since it precludes Federal grants to the State under any of the assistance titles (other than title IV) for any period after a period for which the State was paid under title XVI.

5. What fiscal effect would result if the State's plan under title XVI is initiated, and the State's plan under title I, X, or XIV is terminated, at a time other than the beginning of a calendar month?

Answer. --Section 141(b) of P.L. 87-543 also prohibits payments to a State under title I, X, or XIV for any period (month) for which the State receives any payments under title XVI. To prevent loss of Federal matching, therefore, a State should terminate its programs under titles I, X, and XIV at the end of a month (e.g., the close of November 30) and begin its title XVI program at the beginning of the next month (e.g., December 1).

Need and Payment

1. What is the legal basis for requiring a "common standard" of determining need and payment except for MAA, under title XVI, as interpreted in State Letter No. 582, page M-3?

Answer. --The provision in Section 1602(a) (13), requiring "reasonable standards, consistent with the objectives of this title, for determining eligibility for and the extent of aid or assistance under the plan, " and several of the other plan requirements in title XVI are designed to assure equitable treatment and uniform standards for all needy persons covered by the plan. Similar requirements under the separate titles have assured such equity and uniformity only within the individual categories but not between them. To carry out the legislative purpose of combining the adult categories, it is necessary to assure that the same equity and uniformity be extended to all the assistance groups included in the new plan. See also, F. 1, Liens and Recoveries, below.

2. Under the requirement for a "common standard" of determining need and payment under title XVI, does the State have the option to cite its need materials, including resources policies, now included in one or more of the present separate State plans?

Answer. --Yes, if the State has evaluated its standards under the separate titles to ensure that that they are "common" when all titles are combined, and that the new standards "fully meet Federal requirements." See State Letter No. 582, page M-2.

3. Can the State have different money amounts for an item for different persons (other than those receiving MAA) who are eligible under the new title; for example, more for food for an aged man than an aged woman, more for a blind adult than a blind child, more for a disabled young adult than for a disabled aged adult, etc.?

Answer. --Yes, if the State feels it necessary to make these distinctions and has objectively supported the differences between individuals. Thus, factors that would make a significant difference in assistance needed can be reflected in the new common standard so long as they apply "across the board" in the new plan for all persons, other than those in MAA, with like characteristics.

4. Can a State agency carry over into the new program additional allowances for clothing and grooming formerly included at a higher amount for blind persons only, on the rationale that the handicap of blindness resulted in additional costs?

Answer. --Yes, so long as the additional allowances are also included for any other individuals, except those under MAA, for whom the handicap of age or disability is likely to result in the same need.

5. Must the State's standard of resources that can be held (i.e., the home, cash reserves, etc.) be the same for all individuals, whether aged (other than MAA), blind or disabled?

Answer. --Yes, except those necessary for a "self support" plan of a blind individual, see below, question 9. The resources policies governing MAA, however, may be different.

6. Must the same policies governing (a) who is included in the assistance plan, (b) allocation of income to dependents, and (c) support from responsible relatives, apply to all persons, other than recipients of MAA, eligible under the new program?

Answer. --Yes. These policies are part of the "common standard" that governs, except for MAA.

7. Must the four States (Delaware, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Virginia) that have a separate agency administering or supervising the plan for the blind have a "common standard" of determining need and payment under title XVI?

Answer. --No. The plan for the blind may have its own standard where it is administered or supervised by a separate agency since the law specifies that the part of the plan administered or supervised by the blind agency shall be regarded as a separate plan from the rest of the plan for the aged and disabled. As stated in C. 1, however, there must be a common standard under the separate new plan for the aged and disabled.

8. Is there exemption of earned income for all persons eligible under a new plan?

Answer. --No. There is a statutory exemption of earned income for blind individuals of the first $85 per month plus one-half the earned income in excess of $85 per month. This is mandatory on the States. There is a different exemption of earned income for "any other" individual "who has attained age 65." This is optional with the States. This exemption governs the first $50 of earned income for that group. The State may after December 31, 1962, disregard not more than the first $10 thereof plus one-half of the remainder. A disabled person eligible under title XVI would not be entitled to any exemption of earned income unless he is blind or age 65 or over.

9. Does the provision for also disregarding for a blind individual "for a period not in excess of twelve months, such additional amounts of other income and resources, in the case of an individual who has a plan for achieving self-support approved by the State agency, as may be necessary for the fulfillment of such plan" also apply to the blind under a new title XVI plan?

Answer. --Yes. Although this provision does not become effective until July 1, 1963 under title X, it is effective with the approval of the State's plan under title XVI.

10. What exemption of income is an individual aged 65 (other than one receiving MAA) and blind entitled to after December 31, 1962, in a State that elects the option of earned income exemption for persons 65 years of age and over, and also elects a plan under title XVI?

Answer. --For an individual who is blind and aged 65 with earned income, under title XVI the State agency shall disregard the first $85 per month of earned income plus one-half of earned income in excess of $85 per month, and any additional income and resources, for a period of twelve months, necessary to fulfill a plan for achieving self support.

11. Must the new plan under title XVI provide for taking into consideration "any expenses reasonably attributable to the earning of any such income"?

Answer. --Yes. This plan requirement is effective with the approval of the State's plan. The plan will need to encompass work expenses for all employed recipients, except for recipients of MAA.

12. Can the State's plan have different maximums on the money payment or other different methods of payment reduction (i.e., different percentages of deficit or of requirements) for one group of recipients, for example, the disabled, and not for the aged or blind?

Answer. --No. This is part of the State's "common standard" that governs the determination of need and payment under the single program, except in MAA.

D. Medical Care

1. Must the content of medical care covered by the vendor payment be the same for aged (other than MAA), blind and disabled persons eligible under the new plan?

Answer. --Yes.

2. Must the medical services available to recipients of MAA under title XVI be identical with those for other recipients under the new plan?

Answer. --As is true under title I, it remains optional with the State under title XVI to determine whether, and to what extent, it will provide assistance in the form of medical care under its title XVI plan.

3. Since the content of care must be identical for aged (except for MAA), blind or disabled individuals, must the State's fees to physicians, rates for nursing homes, etc., be identical for the same service to an aged (except MAA), blind or disabled person?

Answer. --Yes.

4. Can a title XVI plan which includes MAA be approved if the plan allows MAA to be furnished an individual for a period for which such individual is also a recipient of aid to families with dependent children under the State's title IV program?

Answer. --No. Title XVI makes it a plan requirement that MAA under this title will not be furnished concurrently with AFDC. Such a plan requirement is not applicable where the State does not operate a title XVI program.

5. In a State which initiates an approvable title XVI plan, say on April 1, 1963, are vendor payments made on or after April 1, 1963 for medical services rendered to recipients under title I, (including MAA), X, or XIV prior to April 1, 1963, claimable under title XVI or under title I, X, or XIV?

Answer. --Such payments must be claimed under title XVI as assistance expenditures for the month in which the payments are made and recipients in whose behalf such payments (excluding MAA) are made may be included in the recipient count for such month if such recipients have not otherwise been counted as recipients under title XVI for such month.

6. If a State initiates a title XVI plan, what accounting is required with respect to pooled funds maintained for title I, X, or XIV at the time of initiation of the title XVI plan?

Answer. --The pooled fund for title I must be charged with payments for medical services rendered to covered individuals during the period prior to initiation of the title XVI plan. The same is true for a pooled fund under title X or title XIV. Adjustment of prior premium amounts, and of any Federal share thereof, is required if a fund balance exceeds or falls short of the amount required to pay all bills chargeable to the fund. These procedures affecting the separate funds must be followed even though a State elects to initiate a new pooled fund under the new title XVI.

7. If a State which initiates a title XVI plan wishes to operate a pooled fund covering the individuals eligible under the new program (exclusive of MAA), what conditions govern?

Answer. --In general, the conditions now governing a pooled fund for an assistance program, as set forth in Handbook IV- 569 3, would also apply to a pooled fund established for recipients under title XVI (exclusive of MAA). Premiums should, of course, be reasonably related to the cost of providing medical services to the groups in the new program.

E. Residence

1. Must any residence requirement be the same for aged persons (other than MAA), blind and disabled persons under the new title XVI plan?

Answer. --Yes, except that the new plan may provide for residence requirements of shorter duration for persons in special circumstances, such as persons who have lost their sight within the State, or have become permanently and totally disabled as a result of an accident. Many states now have identical residence requirements for all individuals who come under any of the existing adult categories. States that propose different requirements for any of the group must offer a rationale showing circumstances that lead to such differences. The fact that a State now provides a different residence requirement for one category, e.g., title X, as compared with another category, e.g., title XIV, will not be a sufficient reason for the State to continue the distinction between these groups under the combined plan. MAA may not have any durational requirement under the title XVI plan.

F. Liens and Recoveries

1. Can a State's plan under title XVI contain a recovery or lien provision that applies only to aged individuals?

Answer. --No. If a lien or recovery provision is included in the plan, it must apply in the same way to all individuals, whether aged, blind or disabled. As in title I, however, there are separate rules governing liens in MAA.

2. May a State have a law that places a lien on the property of aged recipients and an identical regulation for a lien on the property of blind or disabled recipients?

Answer. --Yes, so long as the State has the authority to meet the requirements of a "common standard" under title XVI, no question would be raised because some provisions rest on specific provision of law and some on regulation permitted by law.

G. Social Services and Training

1. Is it necessary for a State to provide social services to have its plan under title XVI approved?

Answer. --No. It is not necessary for a State to provide social services, just as it is not necessary for a State to provide such services under title I, X, or XIV.

2. What social services may be included for 75 percent matching under title XVI?

Answer. --The social services with 75 percent Federal sharing in the cost would, until July 1, 1963, be any of the services specified in the attachment to State Letter No. 587, applicable to title I, X, and XIV. Beginning July 1, 1963, the States will need to provide the social services prescribed by the Secretary--the minimum package--which will also apply to titles I, X, and XIV.

3. May a State claim 75 percent Federal matching in the cost of an approved staff development program under title XVI?

Answer. --For the period before July 1, 1963, a State may receive the 75 percent Federal matching in the cost of such a program; beginning July 1, 1963, the 75 percent matching will continue if the State is providing the minimum content of social services prescribed by the Secretary.

H. Reporting

1. Will the number of recipients and amount of assistance expenditures under a new plan be reported separately for aged recipients, blind recipients and disabled recipients?

Answer. --Yes, at least for some period of time. Such data will be needed for program planning, for developing legislative proposals and replies to Congressional inquiries and for public interpretation.

2. What reporting requirements will be specified for the new program?

Answer. --For the Monthly FS-204, the combined totals will be reported for title XVI for all items pertaining to applications, cases, recipients, and payments that were formerly reported as old-age assistance, aid to the blind, and aid to the permanently and totally disabled. Separate reporting on all items will be required monthly for MAA. In addition, the breakdown of the combined totals for title XVI into separate data for the aged, for the blind, and for the disabled will be required monthly for items on total cases receiving assistance, total amount of assistance payments, amount of money payments, amount of any non-medical vendor payments, and amount of vendor medical payments; and for the county data on recipients and payments reported for June and December of each year. For other periodic reports, the need for breakdowns of data for the separate groups of aged, blind, or disabled is being reviewed. Decisions on requirements about such breakdowns will vary with reports, depending upon the degree to which program services and operations reported on can be significantly different among these three groups.

Back to Contents


By Anthony Mannino

(Editor's note: Mr. Mannino is the executive secretary of the American Brotherhood for the Blind.)

Late in 1962, at the Iowa state budget hearings held by the newly-elected governor, one agency head presented the reports and estimates of his department so convincingly that on the following day his presentation was prominently featured by news reporters who had attended the hearings. The official who had so impressed his listeners was Kenneth Jernigan, director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, delivering the annual report and budget proposals of the commission. The achievements and plans to which he had given such forceful expression were the climax of a concentrated effort in accomplishing the formidable task accepted by this blind leader in the field of rehabilitation.

On May 6, 1958, a blind man was asked to assume direction of the programs for the blind of an entire state. After many years of efforts by the organized blind to gain consultation and a voice in programs for the blind, it fell to Ken Jernigan to face the double test of proving his own ability as well as the soundness of the philosophy of the organized blind with respect to rehabilitation and related services.

When Ken stepped into the job, Iowa was dead last in the nation in rehabilitation of the blind. Today it stands in the front ranks of the states in this essential work--a leap forward accomplished in just four years under Ken's direction. His philosophy proclaims that the real problem of blindness is not loss of eyesight, but rather the misunderstanding and lack of information which accompany it. If a blind person has proper training and an opportunity to make use of it, blindness for him is only a physical nuisance. On the basis of his firm belief in these guiding precepts, Jernigan has rapidly built a state program geared to independence rather than dependency, to rehabilitation rather than resignation--and dedicated to the proposition that blind people are inherently normal, potentially equal, and thoroughly competent to lead their own lives and make their own way in competitive society.

And he has proved his case, with resounding success.

To understand the success of this bold program, and the man responsible for it, we must go back a generation--into the hills of Tennessee. The Jernigan family had lived in Tennessee for years; but the time came in the 1920's when economic pressures drove many of the back-country farmers into the cities. Kenneth's father was one of those who sought work in the factories in order to earn enough to return to his farm. He chose the automobile industry of Detroit; and it was there Ken was born in 1926.

The new baby had scarcely been made comfortable in his crib when the family moved back to the farm in Tennessee. Somehow, modern conveniences and motorized farm machinery had not found their way to this edge of the Cumberland plateau, which was only fifty miles southeast of Nashville and almost completely inhabited by Anglo-Saxon people. They still clung to their ancient culture and their more or less primitive dwellings. Even today, the mule-drawn plow has not entirely left the scene. Corn, hay and milk were the chief agricultural products which gave this industrious folk their livelihood. Generation followed generation in the same pattern of life and endeavor.

But little Kenneth was different from the other folk. He had been born blind. However, this did not seem to create any great problem or concern in the Jernigan household. The child received a typical upbringing, and as he grew older he assumed a few of the many chores which had to be done about the farm. Some of the heavier tasks he shared with his older brother; but bringing in wood for the stove and fireplaces, and stacking board-lumber which his father had shaped, were among his earliest prideful accomplishments. Playmates were few, besides his brother, but they all included Kenneth in their games. He recalls that some of the games were modified a little so that he could join the fun.

In January 1933, at six years of age, Kenneth was taken to Nashville to be enrolled at the Tennessee School for the Blind. It was like going into another world--suddenly faced with what seemed gigantic buildings, strange foods, mysterious steam heat and electricity. Accustomed to getting up early, the youngster wandered away from the sleeping quarters on the very first morning and proceeded to get utterly lost. Unable to find his way back to the dormitory, he finally gave up and stretched out on the floor of one of the rooms he had wandered into--to wait until someone found him. It was a miserable beginning for a boy fresh from a comfortable home environment.

But Ken liked school and the world it opened up for his growing mind. Now he could read books, books and more books, all by himself. In preschool years, he had always enjoyed having books read to him; and his first expressed desire at the school was to learn to read and write. He was not aware that it would have to be in braille, and his first efforts to cope with the strange system were discouraging. In spite of his intense eagerness for reading and writing, Ken failed both of these subjects that first year. After that, he never failed either of them again. Today he is one of the fastest braille readers in the country; and his love for books and reading burns as brightly as ever.

There is one phase of Ken's education at the T.S.B. which he now wishes might have been different--or might not have been at all. That was the emphasis placed on the study of music. From his own experience as well as his adult observation, he holds the firm opinion that musical training should not be imposed upon students who show little interest or talent for it. But the tradition at the school in his day, as at most other schools for the blind even today, demanded that every student be drilled in some form of music, whatever his lack of talent or interest.

Tradition must be served; and Ken found himself spending long hours of tedious study with the violin, beginning with the second grade. After three years, he "graduated" into the band with a trombone; and yet was stuck with the violin for another two years. In the band he soon forsook the "tailgate" (trombone) in favor of the alto horn, then (in desperate hope) the cornet, then the baritone horn--and finally a disastrous fling at the drums. He was quickly relegated back to the brass section--on the assumption, apparently, that he might have little talent but possessed plenty of brass. At long last, recognizing his profound lack of aptitude, Kenneth resigned from the band. As he recalls the event today, it was a great relief not only to him but also to B.P. "Cap" Rice, the bandleader!

Meanwhile, he had dropped the violin lessons and shifted to the piano. Here, again, the effort turned out to be a waste of time because he was more interested in the mechanics of the piano than in its musical potential. When he resorted to taking the big instrument apart instead of playing it, the teacher was truly convinced that Ken would never be a musician.

The world had lost another hornblower--but it gained a craftsman. In 1944, while still in high school, Ken started to make and sell furniture. Using the money he earned on his father's farm during summers, he bought tools and hardware. The logs were on the farm and the sawmill nearby, so this was a practical venture for an ambitious young man. He proceeded to manufacture tables, smoking-stands and floor lamps of original design. But he dared not attempt to do the staining and varnishing, because he had been led to believe that a blind person could not manage such delicate work. Only later did Ken learn that he could indeed do this work himself, and do it well.

This experience furnished further proof to Ken Jernigan that the blind individual must avoid the pitfalls of premature acceptance of "realistic" advice as to the limitations of his abilities and capabilities. He firmly believes that orientation centers for the blind can render a most important service if they will teach and practice the basic truth that, given the opportunity, the average blind person can hold the average job in the average business or industry.

Young Mr. Jernigan graduated from high school in 1945 and immediately petitioned the state rehabilitation service for the chance to prepare himself for a career in law. He was advised against it. That fall, after a rugged six-week bout with appendicitis, he matriculated at Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in Cookesville. He did not find there all the encouragement he needed and hoped for; but the now strong and independent young man, who had already taken a whirl at professional wrestling, was not to be talked into negative horizons or limited objectives. His hunger for knowledge was altogether too compelling and his love of books too deep. His scholastic ability soon produced high grades, and the pattern of his college life was formed.

But it was not all study and lessons. Throwing himself into campus activities from the outset, Ken was soon elected to office in his class organization and to important positions in other student clubs. The college debating team especially attracted his attention, and he took part in some 25 intercollegiate debates. He became president of the Speech Activities Club and a member of Pi Kappa Delta speech fraternity. In 1948, at the Southeastern Conference of the Pi Kappa Delta competition held at the University of South Carolina, Ken won first prize in extemporaneous speaking and original oratory.

In his junior year he was nominated as one of two candidates for student-body president. He lost in a very close election, but the very next year regained his political prestige by backing his room-mate for a campus-wide office and winning. In his senior year at Tennessee Poly, he was named to the honored list of "Who's Who in Colleges and Universities."

During his undergraduate days Ken started a vending business by selling candy, cigarettes and chewing-gum out of his room. Later on he purchased a vending machine and, with permission gained from the college president, installed it in the science building. Before finishing college he had expanded the business to an impressive string of vending machines placed in other buildings. Upon graduation, Ken sold this profitable business to a fellow student, an ambitious sophomore named John Taylor--today the director of rehabilitation with the Iowa Commission for the Blind and a past president of the National Federation of the Blind.

After receiving his B.A. in social science with a minor in English, from T.P.I., Ken went directly for graduate work to Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville. There he majored in English and minored in history. This time his campus activities were centered upon the literary magazines. He accomplished a great deal of writing of articles and editorials, and became editor of a new literary publication. Meanwhile, he received his Master of Arts degree in the winter quarter of 1949, but remained to finish the school year with further studies.

The following fall young Jernigan returned to the Tennessee School for the Blind, this time as a teacher in the high school English department. The renewed personal contact with blind students, their aspirations and problems, stirred his determination to give them counseling to the best of his ability--and toward bringing out the best of their abilities. Although he had achieved success with his own education, it was not in the field he really wanted to pursue. He could not forget that before entering college his deep desire to become an attorney had been smashed as not "feasible" by a traditionally minded rehabilitation officer. Ken discovered later--too late--that the rehabilitation man had been far from correct in his stand. Blind persons were then studying law; others were already lawyers, and the field of law was not closed but wide open to trained blind individuals.

Ken vows today that he will never make this mistake in giving counsel to blind students. "We in rehabilitation have no right to make the choice for anybody as to what his vocation should be, when that person is eager and motivated to try in a field of his choice," he maintains.

After he had mastered the routines of teaching and settled into various school activities, Ken became interested in organizational work with the blind. He joined the Nashville chapter of the then Tennessee Association for the Blind (which later became the Tennessee Federation of the Blind). He was elected to the vice presidency of the state affiliate in 1950, and to the presidency in 1951. Though he was extremely busy, Ken found time for several courses at summer school and later branched out into selling life insurance. This latter endeavor proved to be as profitable as teaching and soon became a rewarding part-time job. Meanwhile, through his participation in organizations of the blind, Ken began to have his first contacts with national figures in the organized blind movement. Outstanding among these was Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, founder and president of the National Federation of the Blind.

While Ken enjoyed teaching at the Tennessee School, he wanted to do more in this expanding field. In 1953 he left the school to accept a position at the Oakland Orientation Center in California. His work, especially in counseling and guidance, became more intensified through the closer contact with persons trying to regain their rightful place in society. His interest in the National Federation was also sharpened by the many projects undertaken for that organization. One of the major projects in which he played an important role while in California was the campaign to gain recognition and the right to credentials for blind teachers in that state. Stemming from this great initial effort, there are now almost 50 blind teachers employed in the California schools. The lives of many blind Californians were enriched through the teachings, guidance, advice and encouragement received from Kenneth Jernigan. When he left Oakland to accept the leadership of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, the people who knew him were confident that he would fulfill that challenging assignment with outstanding success.

With the zest of a crusader, Ken plunged into the task of building up the Iowa programs for the blind. He found the commission housed in small and poorly equipped quarters, with a budget of only twenty thousand dollars. The entire staff consisted of six people. It was in all respects a dismal picture and a bleak prospect. But it did not remain so for long. Step by step, Ken skillfully planned and expanded the program, services, staff and budget of the commission. He argued up and down the state, and won growing support for his programs. Today the commission is housed in a fully equipped six-story building, serving more than four thousand blind Iowans. A budget of $400,000 is financing programs of rehabilitation, orientation, home teaching, home industries, vending stands, braille library and many other related services. Each of these programs is characterized by the efficient organization, procedures and service concepts promoted by the dynamic director.

In a way, with each year of experience in work for the blind, Ken gained as much as he gave. With each passing year he has become more convinced that blindness need not serve as a hindrance in virtually any vocation. Admitting that sight is an advantage, he hastens to point out that there are numerous alternative techniques which, learned and utilized property, provide the blind person with the "equalizer."

Kenneth Jernigan has worked for what he believes in--and his preachment has been practiced with driving energy. Speaking with firm conviction, he declares: "If I were asked to sum up my philosophy of blindness in one sentence, I would say--it is respectable to be blind. Few people would deny this in the abstract, but when we analyze what they really believe we find that most of them are at first ashamed of blindness."

This blind leader is convinced that the dominant attitudes of society toward blindness place unwarranted limitations upon the blind person. Since social attitudes, unlike the physical fact of blindness, are open to change, he maintains that one of our principal functions should be to encourage proper attitudes toward blindness and the blind. Adequate knowledge, understanding and recognition of talents must be brought to supplant traditional preconceptions, prejudices and generalizations about the blind. From a climate of healthy social attitudes will emerge the opportunities and full rights of citizenship which should be the birthright of the blind. And they, in turn, will then carry their full and proper share of the responsibility of free and independent citizens in our democratic society.

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(Editor's note: We believe that our readers will be interested in the following correspondence between Russell Kletzing, President of the National Federation of the Blind, and the Honorable Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, bearing on proposed appeals machinery to aid blind vending stand operators in solving the problems of harassment and interference threatening their operations.)

January 22, 1963

Honorable Stewart L. Udall
Secretary of the Interior
Washington 25, D.C.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

"I have studied with much interest your proposal, appearing at page 74 in the January 3, 1963 issue of the Federal Register, to establish within the Department of the Interior, an appeals procedure for the consideration of differences and disputes arising out of the operation of the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Stand Act.

"In behalf of the National Federation of the Blind, I congratulate you on the action you have taken to further the objectives of this federal law.

"The Randolph-Sheppard Vending Stand Act was passed by Congress in 1936 'for the purpose of providing blind persons with remunerative employment, enlarging the economic opportunities of the blind, and stimulating the blind to greater efforts in striving to make themselves self-supporting...'

"We of the organized blind, men and women from all walks of American life and from all parts of the country, are joined together in the National Federation of the Blind to secure for all blind persons a better life and increased opportunities for a decent livelihood.

"We have looked hopefully to the Randolph-Sheppard Act to provide many blind persons with an opportunity for employment.

"However, we have grown increasingly concerned in recent years as federal departments and agencies have with increasing consistency disregarded the purposes of the Randolph-Sheppard Act and have too often acted to thwart the objectives intended to be served by this federal law. As a result, not only have relatively few vending stands been established in federal locations under the Vending Stand Program during the past 26 years, but vending stands located in federal buildings and on federal property are, in many instances, threatened with extinction. Trained and qualified blind persons employed in these stands are subjected to harassments, making continued operations of the stands difficult, and perhaps even doubtful.

"Therefore, on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind, I commend you on the action you have taken to protect and further the purposes of the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

"Certainly an appeals mechanism which will help to make possible the realization of these objectives has long been needed. However, we should like to take advantage of the invitation contained in the Federal Register announcement to suggest a change in your proposed appeals procedure.

"The regulations propose that final appeal authority within the Department of the Interior shall vest in the Secretary of the Interior or in a person designated by him. It is our belief that such an appellate authority, exercised by an official of one of the contending parties to the dispute under consideration would have the appearance of lacking impartiality.

"This, we think, would be most unfortunate and most unsatisfactory.

"The appeals procedure culminating in one departmental officer might make decisions which would be binding upon the disputants, but we are sure it would utterly fail to settle disputes.

"It is our view that under this system it would be very difficult to convince a state vending stand official that a decision against his complaint had been objectively arrived at, and that, in fact, the cards had not been stacked against him from the start by the very nature of the appeals mechanism.

"We suggest that in substitution for the one-man appeals authority contained in the proposed regulations, such authority should be vested in and exercised by a three-man appeals board. The membership of this board should be the Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (or their designees), and a third person chosen by the first two. The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare is an appropriate member of such an appeals board since he administers the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

"We believe that such a three-man board consisting of the recommended membership would be a more disinterested body, capable of impartial determinations, and it would tend to give such strength and force to its decisions that, not only would differences be settled, but disputes would be resolved in a spirit of cooperation and good will.

"It is our earnest hope that, after carefully considering the change we have suggested in the proposed appeals procedure, you will accept it and incorporate it.

"If you will do this, we believe, the mechanism to adjudicate differences and disputes arising out of the operation of the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Stand Act will prove more effective--and, because of this, more employment opportunities will be available to trained blind persons to earn their living from vending stands located in federal buildings or on federal property.

"Again let me thank you, Mr. Secretary, on behalf of all blind people for the efforts you are making to help them with the kind of help they need most and desire most--a better chance to help themselves through their own labors, by earning their own living through constructive, gainful activity.

"Should you wish to discuss any aspect of the proposed departmental appeals procedure, or, in fact, any other matter relating to the operations of vending stands within your department, our Washington representative, John F. Nagle, 1908 Que Street, N.W., would be pleased to meet with you and members of your staff and give such advice and assistance as he can."

Cordially yours,

Russell Kletzing


February 20, 1963

Dear Mr. Kletzing:

"Your letter of January 22 congratulating Secretary Udall for Interior's action to further the objectives of the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Stand Act is most appreciated.

"However, we believe your proposal to create a three-man board to review appeals arising under the Act would be no more effective than our plan to have such appeals adjudicated by the Secretary of the Interior or his designee. The language in our proposed regulations is intended to apply to matters for which this Department is responsible, and it has been our experience in other types of appeal procedures that final authority is best vested in one individual."

Sincerely yours,

D. Otis Beasley

Administrative Assistant Secretary
United States Department of the
Office of the Secretary
Washington 25, D.C.

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"In bold letters both in Urdu script and in English the motto of the Seminar on the Education of Blind Youth--'Bukhshish, No; Education, Yes'--meets the glance of the student or visitor to this very unique but extremely significant class in the Lady Maclagan Training College, Lahore."

Thus begins an article by Dr. Isabelle L.D. Grant, veteran leader and teacher of the American blind, recently circulated by the United States Information Service from its branch office in Lahore, Pakistan.

Dr. Grant, a member of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind and of the California Council of the Blind, returned to Pakistan last fall under a Fulbright scholarship to continue educational and rehabilitation work begun there during an earlier one-year stay. Her article describes a highly promising teaching venture which she herself inspired and now guides.

"Mindful of the fact that one cannot teach children, blind or sighted, without teachers, the purpose of the seminar is to train teachers of the blind for the various localities throughout the country. These participants will in turn be leaders in setting up programs of education for blind children in their respective districts," Dr. Grant writes.

Sponsored by the Department of Education of Pakistan, the project has drawn 35 participants from all parts of the country. "Some participants are blind, a fact that does not come under discussion as long as a participant is assuming his responsibilities as a member of the seminar, and fulfilling his obligations in the group."

The seminar is scheduled to last for approximately 10 weeks, with workshops in the morning and lecture periods during the afternoons. Both Urdu braille and English braille are to be covered in the lectures, and a beginning will be made on writing much-needed textbooks in Urdu braille, the article points out.

Attention will be focused on analysis of the concept of blindness itself, as well as on cultural patterns of blindness (particularly in Pakistan), local incidence of blindness, and parental and community attitudes toward blind people. Introductory discussion and definition will be given to such key terms as residential school, training center, rehabilitation center, sheltered workshop, visual acuity, mobility, and others.

"Five possible schemes for the education of blind children, including the residential school, the braille class, the integrated program and the itinerant program will be critically analyzed in terms of needs of the community and available support," Dr. Grant observes. In addition, demonstrations and field trips pertaining to education of blind youth are integral parts of the course. "Psychological, physiological, philosophic, vocational and economic aspects of this national problem will be given due consideration" by the seminar.

The Lahore Lions Club, long concerned with the welfare of blind persons, has come forward with several scholarships in an effort to stimulate interest in the project. The college is providing materials and space, and local libraries have assisted in the compilation of wide braille bibliography for use of the participants.

"All in all, as a first step in a plan for 'More Education for More Blind Children,' the results of the seminar will be that 'forward step' in a program which, as with other developments in education, will require time," according to Dr. Grant. "The seeds planted will have to be nurtured towards maturity. The blind child has a right to look forward to a life of independence, of self-support and to a worthy place in his community. With this enthusiastic, capable and interested group of Pakistani teachers, each in his or her individual area teaching other teachers and at the same time teaching blind children in their communities either in residential schools or in government schools, a new era and a new chance in life will be opened up for blind children.

"As one participant said: There isn't much difference between the teaching of blind children and of sighted children, they are all children. The blind child reads with his fingers, the sighted with his eyes. They both read and write in their individual ways. Blindness is no deterrent to learning; the deterrent is lack of opportunity. There is no excuse for another generation of blind beggars; Pakistan does not wish nor deserve that. So, Bukhshish, No; Education, Yes! This is the Pakistani way."

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The New York City newspaper strike, presently in its third month of idle presses and stalemated negotiations, has affected few segments of Manhattan residents more severely than the city's 200 blind news dealers.

The plight of the self-employed blind newsstand operators was chronicled recently in an Associated Press dispatch published by the Berkeley (California) GAZETTE.

Most of the blind dealers have been forced to close their stands as a result of the newspaper shutdown, the article said. They cannot collect unemployment compensation because they are self-employed; nor do they have a union to which they may turn for benefits.

Although they had been without income for almost two months, only 12 percent of these blind businessmen had gone on relief in late January--preferring to wait out the strike rather than apply for welfare benefits, according to the dispatch.

Typical of those caught in the middle by the labor dispute is Victor Kakis, who worked at his stand daily from before noon to midnight for an average of $40 per week--and whose only wish now is to reopen his street-corner business and resume the sale of papers again.

"I don't want any help," Kakis was reported as saying. "I just want to make a living like everyone else. I don't want to be a dead weight to anyone.

"I only want my papers back, and I'll be happy. I don't care how long I have to work. All the blind dealers will tell you the same. They only want to start selling papers again."

Kakis, 61, had been a captain of waiters at New York hotels before his sight began to fail. Later the state and private agencies helped him to obtain his newsstand, which he has operated for six years.

Another dealer whose situation is much the same is Robert Irving, 41, who became blind in 1949 and has had a Harlem newsstand for eight years, the A.P. story said.

Irving formerly arose at two in the morning and made his way two miles to the stand, where he worked until 4 P.M. for an average of $65 to $70 a week. He had $500 in savings when the strike began, but today is almost penniless and yet resists applying for relief along with his wife, Sadie, also blind.

"A few of the other blind dealers are so discouraged they say they might just as well give up and go on relief all the time, " Irving reportedly said. "They wouldn't make as much, but they wouldn't have to worry about strikes. I don't want to ever have to do that. I want to be independent."

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Liberalization of Wisconsin's program of aid to the blind to bring it into conformity with changes in the federal law has been recommended by the State Board of Public Welfare. Under existing state law, a needy blind person may receive up to $75 per month in public assistance with an exemption of $85 of earned income. The board's proposal would exempt the blind recipient's total earnings for a 12-month period when he is engaged in an acceptable plan for rehabilitation.

In Arkansas, both houses of the state legislature are reported to have approved a proposal to increase maximum monthly welfare payments to the blind and to the aged from $65 to $85 a month.

Counterbalancing these constructive trends within the states is the appearance in Illinois of renewed efforts to lengthen the state's one-year residence requirement governing eligibility to all categories of public assistance. Two bills have been introduced in the state legislature to make the requirement more stringent--one calling for a residence regulation of three years during the nine years preceding application, the other imposing a two-year residence limitation.

In New York, meanwhile, an 11-member commission named by Governor Rockefeller to investigate welfare administration has called for a "social diagnosis" of all applicants for public assistance, for the purpose of determining the applicant's ability to respond to restorative services. The commission also recommended salary increases for professional welfare staff; appointment of citizen advisory committees to improve public understanding of welfare, and a general modernization of long-standing state welfare codes and practices.

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News from Arizona. Three chairmen were named to posts with the Arizona Federation of the Blind at the group's recent board meeting: Miss Margaret Pekarek, chosen as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; Marvin G. Hoff, as publicity chairman, and Richard Stotera as chairman of awards and scholarships.

Some 35 blind workers in the state have reached the halfway point in their civil defense project of preparing 150,000 sanitation kits to be distributed to fallout shelters, according to word from Publicity Chairman Hoff. He adds: "Now that the blind workers are hitting their production stride they are turning out more than it had been thought sighted workers could do. A small taste of economic independence has stimulated these workers to hope that other contracts will be forthcoming and that the project may continue indefinitely."


Braille Music Magazine. A new musical magazine, on the order of a "Music Readers' Digest," is planned by New York City's Lighthouse for the Blind. Cost of the braille publication will be $1.50 per year, and persons interested in subscribing are requested to write to the Lighthouse at 11 East 59th Street, New York City. Articles for the magazine will be selected from such authoritative sources as MUSICAL AMERICA, THE MUSICIAN and MUSICAL REVIEW, among other leading musical periodicals.


Inspirational Book on Disability. Henry Viscardi, Jr., founder and president of Abilities Inc., as well as of its educational and research affiliate, Human Resources Foundation, has written a book on problems of the physically disabled entitled A Letter to Jimmy. The volume is described as "an exceedingly warm and down-to-earth book of hope and encouragement about youth, 'disabled' or not--for parents, teachers and all of us who are concerned about the future generations. ..."Publisher is Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 119 West 57th Street, New York 19, New York.

Viscardi, who was born legless in 1912, is the founder as well as president of his Long Island concern, which is made up entirely of severely disabled persons. Awarded honorary degrees for his contributions to rehabilitation by Fordham University and Manhattanville College, he has also been cited by the American Medical Association and the National Management Association. He is the author of two previous books, Give Us the Tools and A Laughter in the Lonely Night.

Blind Girl Explorer. The first blind person ever to win laurels as an expert "speleologist" (explorer of caves) is a 27-year-old French girl named Colette Richard, according to an article in the BOSTON SUNDAY GLOBE. Sightless since birth, Miss Richard is said to have made 23 major underground explorations, climaxing her adventures by spending a night in the caverns of Saint-Gaudens, France.

Described by fellow explorers as "one of our aces," the young French woman also excels as a mountain climber, golfer, swimmer and horseback rider, according to the newspaper. In describing her cave explorations, she has pointed out that "inside the earth eyes become less important" and that "one need not see to sense danger."

LISTEN bows to BLIND AMERICAN. An article published in THE BLIND AMERICAN last October--"LISTEN Eavesdrops--With Partial Hearing"--has been reprinted in full in the October 1962 issue of LISTEN, bi-monthly periodical of the Catholic Guild for the Blind of Boston. LISTEN's courtesy in circulating our article to its large readership is the more commendable in view of the fact that the article criticized the Catholic publication's reporting of the continuing controversy surrounding the ouster of the National Federation of the Blind from its elective seat on the Executive Committee of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind.


D.A.V. Heralded. The work of the Disabled American Veterans was praised recently by Senator John A. Carroll of Colorado in a statement published in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD (Appendix). Senator Carroll cited the following principles as governing the activities of the 30-year-old service organization on behalf of the war-disabled:

"1. Proper medical care and treatment of veterans for disabilities incurred in or aggravated by military service.

"2. Adequate compensation for the degree of disablement caused by such disabilities.

"3. Training and/or education to restore employability of the wartime disabled into gainful employment.

"4. Adequate compensation to the widows, minor children, and dependent parents of veterans who die as the result of a service-incurred disability."


New Telegraph Rate. James B. Garfield, secretary of the California Council of the Blind, points out in a communication to this journal that a new reduced rate is now in effect for sending telegrams to our elected federal officials. A flat rate of seventy-five cents for fifteen words may be sent to Washington, D.C., from any point in the continental United States.

"The new service is called Personal Opinion Message and may be addressed to any member of Congress, the President, or other elected representatives. In it you may express your personal opinion on pending legislation or any governmental problem. Personalities are naturally excluded, and you are limited only by the dictates of decency and good taste," Mr. Garfield concludes.

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