THE BLIND AMERICAN

  

MARCH ISSUE 1963

INKPRINT EDITION

PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN BROTHERHOOD FOR THE BLIND
A CHARITABLE AND EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION

2652 SHASTA ROAD BERKELEY 8, CALIF.

Published monthly in Braille and inkprint and distri-
buted 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.

VOLUME III NO. 3 March 1963

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PROJECT TOMMY: A BROTHERHOOD PILOT CASE
By Ruth Kletzing

CALIFORNIA SENATE COMMITTEE HITS WORKSHOPS

BLIND REHAB THREATENED IN NEW JERSEY
By Robert H. Owens

THE POST OFFICE THAT REFUSED TO DELIVER

NATIONAL FEDERATION CONVENTION BULLETIN

I.L.O. AIDS REHABILITATION OF DISABLED

THE MAIL BOX

BROTHERS ... & OTHERS

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http://www.archive.org/details/blindamericanmar33amer

 

PROJECT TOMMY: A BROTHERHOOD PILOT CASE

By Ruth Kletzing

(Editor's note: Mrs. Kletzing is a California social worker with experience in various welfare programs, including that of the Variety Club Blind Babies Foundation. She is the wife of Russell Kletzing, president of the National Federation of the Blind.)

Picture a five-year-old, mentally retarded, blind boy in an institution for the retarded. He is brought out to you and his counselor for a visit. He wanders rather aimlessly, saying some words, mostly repetitious words with no apparent meaning, and not related to questions or comments put to him. Sometimes he handles a toy; many he just throws in any direction. Outside he continues babbling, but shows a little more interest in surroundings and enjoyment of the outdoors as well as ability to get around on his own--the only really positive signs. Add to this the information from the hospital that this boy is a real problem: aggressive, prone to screaming and tantrums, and must be given tranquillizers much of the time. This was how I saw Tommy in September, 1961.

Today his story--one of which the American Brotherhood for the Blind can be very proud--is not of perfect adjustment, but of so great a change that it is hard to believe. Tommy now talks. He responds not only to the words people say to him but to the people. He no longer takes tranquillizers, and this seems to be a factor in his greater responsiveness. He has no more screaming tantrum spells. Now he wants--in fact demands--a goodnight kiss. Eight months ago he didn't even know what such a kiss was.

This is the picture now from Mrs. Bethany Harness, Tommy's counselor from the Variety Club Blind Babies Foundation (a counseling program with parents of pre-school blind children). It was her interest and faith in the child's real abilities which convinced me that this was a worthwhile pilot case for our American Brotherhood plan of placing blind children in "training homes."

The training home program had been proposed to the Brotherhood as a possible solution to the situation where parents were finding the problems of care for a blind child so overwhelming that the child was not developing as he should. The plan was to place such a child in a home with people who could accept a blind child as a normal child, thus giving him the freedom as well as the training so essential to normal development. The pre-school counselor would continue working with the parents to develop an understanding of how a blind child can function.

Although Tommy was in an institution rather than in a home setting, he was a boy who needed immediate help if he was to survive. In spite of the Brotherhood's willingness to move ahead fast, and the consent of the mother obtained and a fine home located, there was still "red tape" to go through and just plain waiting for proper approval. It was not until August 2, 1962, that Tommy was placed in his carefully selected "training home" where progress began almost immediately under the wise and able care of an understanding and loving couple.

Tommy has had only two tantrums since this time. Once was when a teacher from the institution visited; the other was when he had to go back to the hospital (connected with the institution) for a medical checkup. At this time the doctor was able quickly to quiet him by assuring him that he was not staying, but would be going home.

At first Tommy was not responsive to Mrs. Harness, the pre-school counselor, when she visited him in the training home, but now he is assured that she is his friend and is not there to return him to the institution. One morning he surprised his foster parents by dressing himself completely. He eats by himself now and takes care of his bathroom needs by himself. He responds to directions and goes looking for things, where before things were tossed away or just "got lost" and were forgotten. He is beginning to ask about school.

So, in a period of eight months we have seen some amazing progress in the development of this boy. Though he is certainly not up to the development of a child his age, Tommy has shown a strong uphill growth pattern and seems to be well on the way to normal behavior and possible placement in school within a year or two.

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CALIFORNIA SENATE COMMITTEE HITS WORKSHOPS

In a report remarkable both for its frankness and its extensive documentation, a fact-finding committee of the California State Senate has sharply challenged the widespread practice of using sheltered workshops as places of rehabilitation for the physically disabled.

The Fact Finding Committee on Governmental Administration, consisting of seven state senators, recently released a 48-page Final Report on "Rehabilitation Workshops for the Handicapped"--the product of several months of research, hearings and investigations.

"The committee's reservations about workshops as places of rehabilitation stem from the conclusion that the workshops' program offers a comfortable evasion of meeting responsibilities to a group of people more in need of jobs than of training,” the report asserted. "Furthermore, the essence of the concept 'rehabilitation' is a mockery unless the disabled person can realize placement in the competitive market."

On the basis of extensive evidence gathered from welfare agencies, community groups and workshop representatives, the state legislative committee drew these notable conclusions (among others):

"Evidence indicates that it is not the handicap, but attitudes about handicaps, which provide the major obstacle to employment";

"Full exploration of means to ease access to employment, educational and training facilities in public employment, private employment, and schools should precede and supersede efforts to establish separate training based on handicaps";

"Advocates of programs which recommend separate, special training facilities for the disabled implicitly accept that which has been consistently disproved--that the disabled as a group are less productive, more in need of skill, safety, and 'socialization' training than the rest of the working population. This all too often adds an unnecessary 'handicap' to the disability of those whom they are sincerely trying to help";

"Placement in productive employment should be the goal. All segments of society benefit from this. All segments of society have a stake and responsibility in this.”

In line with its conclusions, the report of the senatorial fact-finding committee strongly recommended that California's state government take the lead as a "model employer" in setting the pace and standards of employment of the handicapped, beginning with these specific steps:

--Adoption of regulations "assuring every applicant, regardless of apparent handicap, who is otherwise eligible the right to take examinations, oral interviews, and to be considered for positions within the state civil service";

--Recommendation "that the Department of Finance be instructed to develop a system of incentives by which firms doing business with the State of California shall be encouraged to employ handicapped workers on the same basis as other workers; and further ... that the Department of Finance establish a system of offering recognition and public commendation of those firms doing business with the State who do, in fact, employ handicapped workers on the same basis as other workers";

--Expansion of programs to hire the handicapped within state and local government agencies, and deletion of questions relating to mental illness from official application forms.

As these proposals make clear, the report of the California Senate's fact-finding committee has emphasized the values of integration and competitive participation of blind and disabled persons at all levels of training, schooling and employment--with corresponding criticism of any institutions such as sheltered workshops which tend to segregate the handicapped from normal activities and opportunities.

Focusing on the issue of workshops as rehabilitation centers, the committee's report specifically exempted from consideration the special problems posed by the mentally retarded and by "those so severely disabled that they can never expect to compete in the labor market."

The report declared that for the handicapped in general "what training is needed can and should be available through channels available to the entire population: public schools, apprenticeship programs, on-the-job training.

"These channels will be increasingly constricted for the handicapped as long as the handicapped are set aside as a group, with all the implied inferiority which accompanies 'separate but equal' avenues toward the ultimate goal--employment," it was said.

Pointing to the "abundant evidence" confirming that the medically disabled "show insignificant differences from other workers in productivity, attendance, reliability, and accident rates," the committee asserted that "it seems incongruous and cruel to expect them, as a group, to overcome the additional handicap of an implied inferiority which does not exist."

The report argued that this "implied inferiority" more than any other single factor bolsters the main obstacle to employment of the disabled--"unrealistic fears which exist in the minds of prospective employers."

As an example it was said that "a blind person is obviously medically disabled insofar as his vision is concerned, but more importantly, for the purposes of this report, is handicapped by society's blindness. This prevents him from gaining competitive employment and training through the channels ordinarily available to other persons.”

With respect to the use of workshops for rehabilitable handicapped persons, the fact-finding committee maintained that "attempts to combine the functions of providing work and of 'rehabilitating' are mutually contradictory and self-defeating when carried on together ... Segregated training centers, no matter what their standard or training may be, operate on a principle which, if carried to its logical extreme, is fundamentally inconsistent with the notion of rehabilitation.”

In support of its conclusion that placement in normal productive employment should be the goal of training, the California senatorial committee noted that "subcontracts from defense and industry are forming a larger part of the workshop program. This work is bid for in competition with other places of employment, and the same standards must be met. The question must be asked: If workshop employees can satisfactorily produce quality products of this kind in a workshop, why cannot they be doing the same work directly for a 'regular' employer who is not exempt from minimum wage provisions and whose employees have the right to organize and bargain collectively?"

The report observed that "among the most outspoken foes of workshops as a means of rehabilitation is Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, Chairman of the California State Welfare Board and President of the American Brotherhood for the Blind.” In support of its case against the workshops, the committee report quoted liberally from "the book, Hope Deferred, which Dr. tenBroek co-authored with Floyd W. Matson,” and indicated its agreement with the general philosophy of rehabilitation set forth in that study.

The report contrasted "two prevalent philosophies" toward employment of the handicapped. On one hand "many legislators, administrators, private businessmen, and welfare workers assume that handicapped persons are inherently less productive and capable than others, regardless of the task in question.” Identifying this attitude as "far and away the gravest obstacle to the employment of the handicapped," the committee observed that it is "so pervasive that many handicapped persons and many persons working with the handicapped share it"--with the result that efforts and expenditures come to be concentrated "in the area of sheltered employment for the unfortunates.”

In contrast, according to the report, "the foes of this position believe that handicapped persons have more similarities to other human beings than differences. All persons have limitations and they all have talents in varying degrees. The information compiled so far in this report would indicate that it is more fruitful to devote time and effort to exploit and develop the capacities of the handicapped rather than magnify differences which have been proved to be inconsequential in terms of ability to perform productively.”

In illustrating its central conclusion that the major barrier "is not the handicap but attitudes about the handicap,” the committee's report made this graphic analogy:

"Special training of people who, as a group, are no more in need of special training than the bulk of the population evades the problem. If a group of people think that goldfish are not good swimmers, their opinion will not be changed by giving goldfish swimming lessons. You are probably not going to make much better swimmers out of the fish, either. It is the faulty opinion which needs rehabilitation.”

Chairman of the fact-finding committee is Senator Stanley Arnold. Copies of the committee's report--formally entitled "Final Report on Rehabilitation Workshops for the Handicapped"--may be obtained by writing to the Chairman, Senate Fact Finding Committee on Governmental Administration, California State Senate, Sacramento, California.

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BLIND REHAB THREATENED IN NEW JERSEY

By Robert H. Owens

(Editor's note: Mr. Owens, a frequent contributor to these pages, is president of the Trenton Association of the Blind and an active leader in the statewide Associated Blind of New Jersey.)

A reliable crystal ball is hard to come by in New Jersey. But an adequate substitute--one that provides an ominous glimpse into the future of the state's blind vocational rehabilitation client--can be found in the recently published report of a special study committee named by Governor Richard J. Hughes.

Known as The Governor's Committee on Efficiency and Economy in State Government, and dubbed "The Little Hoover Committee,” the three business executives and three State Cabinet members appointed to the panel studied the executive operations in the state, from unemployment compensation to the management of concessions in state parks, and went back to the governor with more than fifty recommendations; among them the proposal that the state's three existing rehabilitation programs--including the one for the blind--be "unified in a single agency.”

Therein lies our crystal ball, our glimpse of what lies ahead for the blind vocational "rehab" client. The committee said the blind client should take his place in line with other categories of handicapped citizens.

We know where that place in line is likely to be; we know where it was before there was a special agency for the blind. The blind "rehab" clients' place in line is at the very end--after the crippled children, after those with heart disease, arthritis, asthma; after the mentally retarded; amputees, quadraplegics and paraplegics.

In New Jersey now, the rehabilitation program for the blind is in the Commission for the Blind (where it belongs); the program for crippled children is in the Crippled Children's Commission (where it belongs), and the program for other categories of handicapped adults is in the Rehabilitation Commission. The study committee, purportedly in the interest of efficiency and economy, says the three programs belong together. In essence, the committee says one long line, outside a single door, is more efficient and economical than three shorter lines, outside three separate doors.

At least one person in the Garden State is convinced the report and the recommendations of "The Little Hoover Committee" has no significance, but his views are tied closely to personal interests. A labor union official, he said a representative of labor should have served on the panel, otherwise the panel's recommendations are worthless.

The State Chamber of Commerce likes the report. So do many state officials. State employees, however, do not. Neither do some of the veterans' organizations. A State House news bureau chief called the report "a devastating little bombshell.” We, as has already been indicated, consider it a crystal ball.

While there may be wrangling over the importance of the report, there can be little doubt regarding the portentous significance of the recommendation to consolidate the "rehab" programs. There have been study committees before, followed by recommendations, followed by arguing and, ultimately, followed by action. Only three short months ago, the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Hughes "consolidated" the state's welfare programs, trimming the needy blind to fit a general administrative pattern, stripping them of gains made over the years.

Now the flame--small though it may be at present--has been lighted under a different melting pot and the blind "rehab" client, with the gains he made over the years, with his special needs, would be cast in the same mold with other categories of the handicapped.

While a comparatively small portion of the foundation of the Commission for the Blind was destroyed by the centralization of the welfare programs, it is likely the entire commission would topple if the "Little Hoover" proposal is followed.

Blind people--not only in New Jersey, but wherever threats to their progress are made--must fight to maintain their position near the front of the line; there, goals are within reach--while from the rear of the column, they are inaccessible and one is forced to eat the dust raised by the boots of those who march ahead.

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THE POST OFFICE THAT REFUSED TO DELIVER

(Editor's note: This is the story of a vending stand. More exactly, it is the true account of how a vending stand came to be approved for installation in the post office at Iowa City, Iowa. Despite its unusual length, we think it is an important story, for at least four reasons: First, it indicates to blind persons what the laws and regulations are which govern the vending stand program; second, it suggests ways and means of obtaining approval for such stands in federal buildings; third, it underlines the urgency of currently pending amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act under which the program operates; and fourth, it is a compelling story in itself.

(Our story has a happy ending--but it also contains the dramatic ingredients of frustration, conflict, evasion, and narrowly averted tragedy. It is presented here essentially as a "dialogue"--the written dialogue of an actual correspondence, carried on mainly by the two central characters of the story, with occasional interjections by others along the way. The two central figures are the director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, Mr. Kenneth Jernigan, and the regional director of the U. S. Post Office Department in St. Louis, Mr. John F. Dee.

(Besides these two antagonists, the vending stand drama has a cast of dozens--many performing behind the scenes. The letters which follow have been culled from a file of literally hundreds of communications--written over less than a year to and from such personages as U.S. senators, congressmen and federal officials at virtually every level from clerk to Postmaster General--all of them on the same theme.

(The scene is first set, and the background of the action explained, in the following letter of April 20, 1962, from Mr. Jernigan to Senator Jennings Randolph, author of the Randolph-Sheppard Act which governs the national program of vending stands for the blind.)

***************

... I am writing to you now because of recent problems we have been having with respect to the securing of vending stand locations. Your bill amending and strengthening the original Randolph-Sheppard Act is urgently needed, and if it were now law, the problems which we are having would never have occurred. I hope that by giving you this information concerning specific instances of the violation of the spirit and purpose of the Randolph-Sheppard Act I can help to provide the data needed to substantiate the necessity of your present amendments ....

The situation is this: The post office in Iowa City has enough traffic to support a profitable vending stand and to permit a blind person to earn his own living instead of living on public assistance. There is not now and there never has been a vending stand in this post office.

At Oxford, Iowa, a small town just outside of Iowa City, lives a young man in his middle twenties who was blinded in a gunshot accident three years ago. He is capable and alert and wishes to earn his own way in the world instead of being forced to live in idleness and at government expense. Almost a year ago we began to give this man training. We brought him to our Orientation and Adjustment Center in Des Moines and gave him intensive instruction in independent travel and other techniques. When he demonstrated interest in going into the vending stand business, we gave him a thorough course of training in our vending stand located in the Commission's building. In February of this year, he was completely ready to go. He was and is capable and well adjusted, eager and willing to work. The only thing remaining is whether he will receive an opportunity.

Late in February we contacted the Iowa City postmaster (I believe his name is Mr. Walter Barrow) to determine the feasibility of a vending stand in the post office. The postmaster received us cordially and indicated that he favored the vending stand. Before making formal, written application we made a space and traffic survey. We always do this in order to make certain that our requests are reasonable and that our proposed vending stand will not interfere with the regular operations going on in the building. There was plenty of room.

Accordingly, we submitted our formal application. It was returned to us rejected. We were greatly surprised by this, in view of the representations which the Iowa City postmaster had made to us, and so we went to see him again. This time he was polite but evasive, making some general talk about "not enough room" and "interfering with the operation of the post office.” We came away with the impression (although he never said so explicitly) that after our first visit he had thought the matter over and decided that our application should be rejected for a reason having nothing to do with a vending stand as such. He wants a new post office, and the impression was given that if he granted us space for a vending stand, the higher-ups in the post office would say, "If he has enough space to give a vending stand to a blind person, he doesn't need a new building.”

In subsequent contacts the postmaster attempted to blame the regional postal officials for the refusal, but his final position was that he was the boss, that he had made the decision, and that we could do nothing about it.

It would seem that if this situation cannot be reversed, it constitutes a flagrant violation of the spirit and the purpose of the legislation which bears your name ....

***************

(Letter of May 14, 1962, to the Honorable H.R. Gross, Congressman from Iowa, from John F. Dee.)

... We can appreciate your feelings in this matter as we, too, have the same consideration and feelings for helping the blind.

It is reported to me by the Acting Chief, Real Estate Branch, the official who disapproved the application for the vending stand, that every consideration was taken into account before the application was disapproved.

The foremost reason for rejecting this request is that our Postmaster and Regional officials definitely state we cannot give up the lobby space and that congestion developing from the establishment of a vending stand would seriously hamper our Postal operations and cause inconvenience to our patrons.

Another factor is that our space is so critically short we have asked the Department to abandon our present facility in the Federal Building to permit us to obtain leased space elsewhere. In the event this happens, the establishment of a vending stand would probably be an economic waste and unprofitable to the operator.

In view of the above statements, if the Commission for the Blind feel they want further consideration for the establishment of this vending stand, we will be glad to again investigate the matter to determine and reconsider approving a resubmitted application.

We do appreciate your interest in Postal affairs.

***************

(Letter of May 24, 1962, to Congressman Gross from Kenneth Jernigan.)

... I found Mr. Dee's letter quite interesting on two counts:

1. He virtually admits what I reported to you earlier--that is, that the application was not rejected on its own merits but as a maneuver in the larger game of attempting to get a new post office for Iowa City. I believe that this violates the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

2. I find it difficult to understand Mr. Dee's statement that he "cannot give up the lobby space and congestion developing from the establishment of a vending stand would seriously hamper our Postal operations and cause inconvenience to our patrons.” I find it difficult to understand this statement because it does not seem to accord with the facts. As I indicated in my earlier letter, we made a very careful space and traffic survey before making application for the stand. The space which we are requesting is not now being used for anything, and because of the way the lobby is constructed, we do not believe it would be possible for it to be used as part of the postal operation. Our proposed vending stand would in no way contribute to any congestion; and, far from inconveniencing patrons, it would offer a service to them. Other post offices of similar size and with smaller lobbies have been approved for vending stands which are now operating to the satisfaction of everybody, not to mention allowing additional blind persons to support themselves rather than live at public expense. The post office at Fort Dodge for instance (operated as a part of a GSA building) has a vending stand in its lobby, and the postal officials are very much pleased with the operation. We have measured both lobbies and the Fort Dodge lobby is quite a bit smaller than the one at Iowa City. Our studies of traffic count do not indicate that the number of people coming into the lobby of the Iowa City post office is enough greater than the number coming into the Fort Dodge lobby to make any substantial difference. Yet, the Iowa City lobby is the larger of the two by a good deal.

*************

(Letter of May 22, 1962, to the Honorable B.B. Hickenlooper, Senator from Iowa, from Joseph P. Doherty, Special Assistant to the Assistant Postmaster General.)

... The installation of vending stands and machines by the blind in post offices operated by the Department has been decentralized and we are taking the liberty of forwarding your letter and enclosure to our Regional Director, Plaza Station, St. Louis 99, Missouri, for appropriate attention and direct reply to you.

*************

(Letter of May 25, 1962, to Senator Hickenlooper from John F. Dee.)

... Regarding the installation of a vending stand for the blind in the Iowa City, Iowa, Federal Post Office Building, we have written many letters concerning this matter and we must strongly state that to grant approval for this installation will hinder and harm our Postal operations and will be an interference to our patrons.

In view of the stated known facts, however, we have written Mr. Kenneth Jernigan of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, to resubmit his application for the installation of the vending stand.

We are so short of space in our Iowa City, Iowa, Post Office Building that there is an active case for us to abandon the Federal Building and occupy leased quarters for the needs of our Postal operations. This could probably occur within the next three years.

We do appreciate your interest in Postal affairs.

*************

(Letter of May 25, 1962, to Kenneth Jernigan from John F. Dee.)

After your appeal to various members of Congress, we have been deluged with correspondence concerning our disapproval of the establishment of a vending stand to be operated by the blind in the lobby of the subject building.

We have written many letters concerning our reasons for rejecting the request, and we repeat here that to establish a vending stand will cause us hardship and intereference with our Postal service.

We are so critically short of space in our Iowa City, Iowa, Post Office that there is an active case for us to abandon our present quarters and to seek leased quarters which will accommodate our Postal needs.

This is brought to your attention because it could easily occur that we will vacate the present Federal Building sometime within the next three years.

In view of these facts, however disturbing they may be to us, we ask you to resubmit your application on Form 8-B1-1 (4th rev. 8-56), through your local Postmaster for forwarding to our office.

We will then consent to the establishment of a vending stand provided the stand is established in an area which will least interfere with the operations of our Postal affairs and inconvenience to our patrons.

When we receive your application and plans showing where the stand is to be erected, we will clear this matter through General Services Administration as to the proper installation of such a stand.

We will await your further advice.

*************

(Letter of July 6, 1962, to W.J. Barrow, Postmaster, Iowa City, Iowa, from Fred J. Schmidt, Jr., Chief, Real Estate Branch, St. Louis, Missouri.)

... As you know, this approval is given reluctantly, because we know it will interfere with our operations and postal patron service, due to the narrowness of our lobby, and already crowded conditions. In the course of the operation of this vending stand, we want you to keep us informed as to any serious interference with our operations.

This approval is given with the further understanding that the installation of the Blind Vending Stand will not cause any demand to be made for the profits now going to the Employee's Committee, from certain vending stands in the Post Office workroom and swing room areas.

The above facts are being made known to the Iowa Commission for the Blind from two reference copies of this advice, which you should forward to them with the two copies of the approved application.

*************

(Letter of July 11, 1962, to Kenneth Jernigan from W.J. Barrow, Postmaster, Iowa City.)

At the direction of Mr. Fred J. Schmidt, Chief, Real Estate Branch, Post Office Department, St. Louis, Missouri, I am sending you two approved copies of Application to Establish Vending Stand on Federal Property.

It is understood by my office that the installation of the Blind Vending Stand in the lobby of the Iowa City post office will not cause any demand to be made for the profits now going to the Employee's Committee from vending stands operated in the local Post Office workroom and swing room areas.

*************

(Letter of July 30, 1962, to W.J. Barrow from Kenneth Jernigan.)

... I wish to take this opportunity to thank you personally and the other postal officials involved for your approval of our application to establish a blind operated vending stand in the lobby of the Iowa City Post Office Building. I cannot fail, however, to take note of the general tone of Mr. Schmidt's letter and its implications for the future. In fact, two particular parts of his letter require comment:

1. Mr. Schmidt states: "As you know, this approval is given reluctantly, because we know it will interfere with our operations and postal patron service, due to the narrowness of our lobby, and already crowded conditions. In the course of the operation of this vending stand, we want you to keep us informed as to any serious interference with our operations.” I am sure that Mr. Schmidt does not mean to suggest that you begin to try to build a record with respect to our vending stand and that the record be written in such a way as to arrive at a predetermined conclusion, but there are those who might put such an interpretation upon his language, especially in view of the previous developments with regard to this matter. I would hope that the approval of our application is an approval in fact as well as in word. Let me hasten to add that I am sure it is and that all involved are acting in good faith.

2. Mr. Schmidt further says: "This approval is given with the further understanding that the installation of the Blind Vending Stand will not cause any demand to be made for the profits now going to the Employee's Committee, from certain vending stands in the Post Office workroom and swing room areas.” The Commission for the Blind, the State licensing agency under the Randolph-Sheppard Act, has no immediate plans to request assignment to the blind operator of income from vending machines operated by the Employee's Committee, but we are unable to concur in the stipulation that approval of our application precludes the possibility of considering this matter at a later date. We believe, moreover, that such a stipulation is contrary to the spirit of the Randolph-Sheppard Act and the spirit and the letter of your own regulations issued pursuant to that Act by the Post Office Department. We have reviewed the postal regulations governing the installation of vending stands and particularly the portions related to assignment of income from vending machines. Let me quote to you from these regulations:

"614.7 Assignment of Profits.

.71 To Blind Persons. The profits from all vending machines presently operated by the licensed blind operator of a lobby stand, either in conjunction with his stand or in other areas of the same building under control of the Post Office Department, shall be assigned to the blind operator. Where machines are being operated by an employees' committee in proximity to a stand or machines operated by a blind person and are in competition therewith, and where a blind operator is not receiving an adequate income, consideration shall be given to assigning the blind operator all or part of the profits from other vending machines in the same building, regardless of location. (Adequate income is construed as being the equivalent of the average income of the average employee at the installation.) Reassignment of profits shall be considered only upon request from a State licensing agency to a postmaster or other postal official in charge of an installation. The assignment of profits to the blind operator from other vending machines shall be determined by the postal official in charge and the State licensing agency on the basis of the following factors:

a. Proximity to and competition with the vending stand;

b. Amount of income which accrues to the operator from the stand operation; and

c. Amount of profits from vending machines not operated in connection with the stand.”

In light of this unequivocal language I would doubt that either Mr. Schmidt or we would want to (or, for that matter, could) make or accept such a stipulation. In view of the clearer intent expressed in the Regulations of the Post Office Department regarding the assignment of income from vending machines, I am requesting approval of our application without regard to the assignment of income from vending machines. After the vending stand which we plan to install in the post office lobby has been in operation for approximately one year, we will have available sufficient information to make a valid judgment regarding the desirability of requesting assignment of vending machine income to the blind vending stand operator.

All of us who have worked to secure this vending stand location have acted in good faith. We are certain that the postal officials involved have also acted in good faith. It would be unfortunate if anything occurred at this late date to cause a rehashing of the situation again.

*************

(Letter of October 30, 1962, to W.J. Barrow and Fred J. Schmidt from Kenneth Jernigan.)

On July 11, 1962, Mr. Barrow wrote a letter to me transmitting two copies of our approved form 8-B1-1 together with a copy of the July 6 advice from Mr. Fred J. Schmidt, Chief, Real Estate Branch. On July 30, 1962, I replied to this letter, sending a copy to Mr. Schmidt. In my letter I raised certain questions of law and propriety and requested a clarification. I raised these questions not as a private citizen but in my official capacity as head of a state licensing agency under the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

It is now October 30, 1962, and I still have not received any reply from either of you. In the meantime, even though we have from you an officially approved application for the location and style of our vending stand in the lobby of the Iowa City Post Office (accompanied as it was by unacceptable stipulations), indirect feelers have been put out to see whether we would be willing to accept a less desirable location in another part of the lobby.

For three more months a blind person has been prevented from having the opportunity to earn his own living and support himself because of these delays. Surely it is not in the public interest or in the interest of your own department for such a situation to have occurred: In my official capacity as head of the state licensing agency under the Randolph-Sheppard Act (an Act passed by the Congress of the United States) I once again ask that you respond specifically to the points raised in my letter of July 30 so that we may proceed with some dispatch to establish the vending stand in question.

*************

(Letter of November 1 1962 to Kenneth Jernigan from John F Dee.)

We were completely taken by surprise by your registered letter of October 30, 1962, sent to both Mr. WJ Barrow, Postmaster, and Mr. Fred J. Schmidt, Jr., Chief, Real Estate Branch.

Your letter of July 30, 1962, to the Postmaster, from our viewpoint, required no further answer. In the second to last paragraph of your letter and particularly the very last sentence, you answered yourself in your asserted "unequivocal language.” You also recited Postal Manual, Chapter 614.7. We are aware of this chapter and section.

You also have on hand the approved Form 8-B1-1, dated July 5, 1962. Following the issuance to you of the authority expressed in Form 8-B1-1, we sent the plans and a copy of this form to the Area Manager, General Services Administration, as they have to approve the placement and installation of the vending stand.

In further regard to our memorandum to the Postmaster dated July 6, 1962, we certainly do have the privilege to be informed as to how the vending stand is working out and whether it causes a conflict with our operation.

Everyone concerned, except you, has considered the vending stand approval and pending installation an established fact. Our file here and in our Bureau in Washington are completely documented. Why the hesitance in this matter on your part we do not know.

It is, however, incorrect for you to infer that the Post Office Department and Post Office officials are responsible for depriving, delaying, and preventing a blind person the opportunity to earn his own living.

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(Letter of November 9, 1962, to John F. Dee from Kenneth Jernigan.)

This will reply to your letter of November 1. In your advice of July 6, 1962, you said: "This approval is given with the further understanding that the installation of the Blind Vending Stand will not cause any demand to be made for the profits now going to the Employee's Committee, from certain vending stands in the Post Office workroom and swing room areas.” As I pointed out to you in my letter of July 30, 1962, this statement contradicts directly the postal regulations pertinent to the matter. Having heard nothing from you in answer to my letter, I wrote you again on October 30, 1962. You answered under date of November 1, 1962, dealing only indirectly and by implication with the points raised in my letter.

Even so, I gather from reading between the lines that you are now willing to retract the statement made in your advice of July 6 and that our application is approved with the understanding that we may apply for the income from the vending machines in question if such seems indicated. I shall send this letter to you by registered mail, and if I have not heard from you to the contrary within ten working days, I shall proceed on the assumption that my interpretation of your remarks is correct. In other words, we will proceed with the installation of the vending stand.

Mr. C.L. Kneale of GSA--who, incidentally, has always been most co-operative with our agency--has suggested that he would like for us to put our stand in a different location in the lobby from the one on the approved application. Since we wish to be co-operative in this matter and since the new location is, in our opinion, at least as desirable as the one on the approved application, we are agreeable to this change and have so advised Mr. Kneale. Accordingly, I am submitting drawings of the proposed new location, which would place our stand in the southeastern corner of the lobby. If I have not heard from you to the contrary within ten working days, I shall proceed on the assumption that this proposed new location meets with your approval.

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(Letter of November 15, 1962, to Kenneth Jernigan from John F. Dee.)

This is in response to your letter of November 9, 1962, concerning the installation of a vending stand for the blind in the Iowa City, Iowa, Post Office lobby in the Federal Building.

In direct contradiction to your misleading statements and assumptions in paragraphs one and two in your letter, quite to the contrary, we do not pledge or even expect you to ask for the income from the vending machines installed by the Employee's Committee in the workroom and swing room area. We cite to you advice received from our Department in Washington, as follows:

"As the vending machines operated by the postal employees at Iowa City are located in the swing rooms, the profits derived therefrom should revert to the employee committee to be used for the benefit and welfare of all employees of the Post Office, as provided in Sections 614.6 and 614.72 of the Postal Manual. If any question is raised by the State Commission for the Blind, this fact should be made very clear."

You seem to take as a predetermined fact that you are going to get the income from the Employee's Committee vending machines to bolster your wavering opinion that the stand should be established at all.

You have been authorized to establish the stand. Certainly, the Post Office Department, through our Postmaster and Postal Services Officer, has the right to direct the placement of the stand so that it will not interfere with our operations. We certainly also have the right to exercise our prerogative if the vending stand causes interference, confusion, or other operational difficulties.

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(Letter of November 27, 1962, to John F. Dee from Kenneth Jernigan.)

In view of the tone of your last letter I am not sure that there is any point in writing you at all, but I shall make another effort. Let me say to you bluntly that you seem incapable of giving direct answers to clearly worded inquiries. There are still two questions which you have not answered:

1) Will you please give me a yes or no answer to this simple inquiry: Is our application to establish a vending stand in the lobby of the Iowa City Post Office approved without the stipulation that we may not apply for the income from the vending machines in the Post Office which have been discussed. In connection with this question I wish to say again that we do not now know whether we will wish to apply for the income from the vending machines later. We simply wish the vending stand approval to be an approval in fact--that is, in accordance with your own regulations as quoted in my letter of July 30 of this year and the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

2). My last letter contained a drawing indicating a proposed location of the stand in the southeast corner of the Iowa City Post Office lobby. Do we have approval for that particular location? In your letter you made me a speech about your rights, but you did not answer the question.

As a matter of fact your whole tone throughout this entire affair has been one of injured dignity. You seem to feel that you are doing someone a favor and granting a special privilege by approving the establishment of a vending stand. The very opposite is true. You are carrying out the requirements of a Federal law. Petulance and snide remarks will not change that fact.

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(Letter of December 10, 1962, to Kenneth Jernigan from W.H. Halbert, Acting Regional Director, Post Office Department, St. Louis.)

This is in response to your letter of November 27, 1962, and previous correspondence and actions concerning the installation of a vending machine in the lobby of the Government-owned Post Office Building in Iowa City, Iowa.

Although we did not receive the plans showing the location in the southeast corner of the lobby, we talked to the Postmaster by long distance telephone and he approves of the location.

We therefore approve this location for the installation of the vending stand, under the direction, of course, of our Postmaster and Mr. C.L. Kneale of General Services Administration.

As you have the approval for the installation which is covered by Form 8-B1-1, under date of July 5, 1962, this closes our action in this matter.

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(Letter of December 18, 1962, to W.H. Halbert from Kenneth Jernigan.)

... Not only do I wish to thank you for giving a direct answer to one of the two questions which I put to Mr. Dee but also for the tone of your letter, which was refreshingly businesslike and unemotional.

We would very much like to proceed immediately with the installation of the vending stand in question, but before doing so we feel that we are entitled to a straightforward, unequivocal answer to the other question which I asked Mr. Dee in my letter of November 27. When one reviews the correspondence on this matter for the past few months, the conclusion is almost inescapable that Mr. Dee has deliberately tried to be evasive in dealing with the point raised. In July of this year we were given a conditional approval of our application to establish a vending stand in the Iowa City Post Office. At that time the language was certainly not vague or ambiguous. We were told that we might establish the stand with the condition that we would not ask for any income to be assigned to the stand from the vending machines in the Post Office being operated by the employees. It seemed to us that this violated the spirit and the letter of the Randolph-Sheppard Act and the specific provisions of the postal regulations. I raised these points with Mr. Dee in a letter under date of July 30.

Mr. Dee ignored my letter and made no reply at all until I wrote him again late in October. He did not deal at all with the point which had been raised but made a very evasive answer as if attempting to avoid the question altogether. I wrote to him again early in November and he made another evasive reply, this time quoting an advice which had apparently been received from your Central Office.

On November 27 I wrote once again to Mr. Dee to try to get a straightforward answer to my question ....

I repeat that I appreciate the tone and directness of your answer. However, as I have already said, we would like a direct answer to that part of my letter of November 27 which I have just quoted. Surely we have a right to expect a straightforward, unequivocal reply! Is the vending stand approved without the stipulation, or is it not?

The answer to this question goes far beyond the vending stand we are discussing. As I am sure you realize, it has far-flung implications. I hope you will understand our feeling in this situation. We will feel compelled to go to the Members of Congress, to the Postmaster General, to the National Federation of the Blind, and to all of the various media of publicity if we must in order to receive a forthright answer.

We are as anxious as you to conclude this matter, and I hope that you will feel that you can give an answer to the question I have raised.

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(Letter of January 10, 1963, to Kenneth Jernigan from John F. Dee.)

After review of correspondence relating to installation of vending stand in the lobby of the Post Office at Iowa City, Iowa, it has been concluded the installation can be made without any condition precedent concerning profits from the employee's organization vending machines. This condition precedent is rescinded and is not applicable.

The question of whether the Employee Committee at the Iowa City Post Office wishes to donate any portion of their vending machine funds to the operation of the proposed vending stand in the lobby can be given attention if submitted at a later date.

You may therefore proceed with the installation in accordance with previous agreement, coordinating with the General Services Administration Area Manager and the local Postmaster, to whom copies of this communication are being transmitted.

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(Letter of January 31, 1963, to Senators Jennings Randolph, B.B. Hickenlooper and Jack Miller; and Representatives Fred Schwengel and Walter Baring, from Kenneth Jernigan.)

... Now that the illegal condition has been rescinded I feel that we can proceed to establish the vending stand. As I think back on the long struggle which has taken place concerning this matter several things seem quite clear: In the first place, we would never have been successful in this matter if it had not been for the help you gave. Your persistence and willingness to stick with us in the face of bureaucratic evasion and obstruction saved the day. You have earned the gratitude of blind people throughout the nation for your action.

I am also moved to reflect that something is drastically wrong when a situation of this type can occur. I have in my office a folder which must be at least two inches thick filled exclusively with correspondence concerning this one vending stand. I have spent hours of my own time and have written seventy to eighty letters. Your offices have had to spend hours and hours of valuable time, and numerous postal officials have been involved in letter writing and conferring. The Federal and State governments have spent a pretty penny, all told, in time wasted and letters written and, for what? All of this effort has been spent to try to get Federal officials to carry out a Federal law. There are many Federal installations in Iowa and in other states, and we will be applying for approval to establish other vending stands in the future. I would not like and I am sure that you would not like to go through this sort of procedure on a regular basis. Beside all of this, what if we had been less persistent? There are undoubtedly many state administrators of programs for the blind who might not wish to get involved in this sort of dogged battle, being misquoted and accused of unreasonableness for standing up for their rights. Of course, the blind of the nation are the ones who suffer in the long run since they are deprived of opportunities which the Congress intended them to have.

Perhaps this matter should still be referred to the Justice Department to determine how the Randolph-Sheppard Act can be enforced. Perhaps the bill which is now pending in Congress to set up an appeals board is the answer.

In any case, I believe the Iowa Commission's battle is completely won, and I thank you again for helping us to win it. As a result of your efforts another blind person will have the opportunity to earn his own way in the world.

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(Letter of January 23, 1963, to Kenneth Jernigan from Tim Seward, Administrative Assistant to Congressman Walter J. Baring.)

... I understand from John Nagle that the two Senators from Iowa and Congressman Schwengel of the Iowa City District have combined in sending the complete file of the "Iowa City Post Office Case" to the Justice Department, with the recommendation that an investigation be conducted to determine whether such protracted efforts must be made to secure enforcement of the Federal law.

(Editor's postscript: So ends our tale--on a note of triumph for the Iowa Commission and the pro-vending stand forces. Not only has the contested stand been unconditionally approved for installation at Iowa City, but the entire case has been placed before the Justice Department for possible investigation of the alleged unresponsive behavior of post office officials.

(Unfortunately, the ending is made less happy by a single sour note. The young blind trainee for whom the Iowa City vending stand was originally sought was unable to wait until the long-drawn-out hassle could be successfully concluded; he was placed by the Iowa Commission some months ago in other, equally suitable, employment. The Commission under its director, Kenneth Jernigan, is currently proceeding with plans to install the controversial stand in Iowa City's post office--to be manned by another blind operator.)

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NATIONAL FEDERATION CONVENTION BULLETIN

Members and friends of the National Federation of the Blind are reminded that the organization's 23rd anniversary convention will be held from July 3 through July 6 at the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The hotel, one of the city's best, is centrally located at 1725 Pennsylvania Boulevard, Philadelphia. Rates for all rooms have been set at $7.00 per day, single, and $11.00 for double or twin-bed accommodations. Reservations may still be made by writing directly to the Sheraton, as soon as possible.

Convention arrangements, under the general management of NFB First Vice President Kenneth Jernigan, promise to include unusually interesting and informative tours along with a packed agenda of distinguished speakers, business activities and social events.

Located directly across from Philadelphia's railroad terminal, the Sheraton Hotel is surrounded by excellent and inexpensive restaurants. The hotel will provide free parking for conventioners in a connected garage, and has also arranged to fulfill all space needs including hospitality rooms, banquet facilities, auditorium and committee chambers.

The 1963 convention will follow the practice of recent years in commencing at 10:00 A.M. Wednesday, July 3, and adjourning at 5:00 P.M. Saturday, July 6. Assisting Ken Jernigan with arrangements are Frank Lugiano and Frank Rennard, state and local hosts of the Pennsylvania Federation, along with various cooperating groups and individuals in Philadelphia.

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I.L.O. AIDS REHABILITATION OF DISABLED

The large-scale work of the International Labor Office in the vocational rehabilitation of disabled persons--including studies and research, setting up of international standards, and operational activities--have been vividly reported in a photo-story appearing in the December, 1962, issue of the ILO NEWS.

The publication stated that some 28 countries "in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East have benefited, or are benefiting, from ILO assistance in the vocational rehabilitation of the disabled"--particularly of the blind and maimed.

"This assistance takes different forms--short-term exploratory or survey missions, fellowship grants for study abroad, and, in some cases, the provision of equipment," the periodical said. For one example, ILO experts reportedly advised the government of the United Arab Republic from 1953 to 1956 in establishing a vocational guidance and training center for the blind where a wide diversity of trades is now taught.

In Ceylon, an ILO specialist was said to have spent three years at Colombo advising on the development of facilities for the rehabilitation, vocational training and employment of the blind and deaf. Another ILO expert was sent last year on a mission to the Centre at Dehra Dun, India, where he organized vocational training courses for the blind to fit them for industrial employment.

In yet another instance, at the request of the Portuguese government, the ILO sent an expert, himself blind, to advise the Ministry of Health and Assistance and private institutions on the rehabilitation, vocational guidance and training, placement and employment of the blind. The ILO representative was said to have spent more than a year in Portugal.

Generally speaking, the ILO responds to requests from governments for help in such areas as: establishment of national vocational rehabilitation services; creation of programs aimed at the rehabilitation of particular categories of the disabled, such as the blind and deaf; establishment of pilot rehabilitation centers providing (in addition to medical care) social and vocational services for one or more categories of the disabled; development of efficient training programs for the disabled generally; creation of special placement services to operate within the framework of the national employment service, and the organization of sheltered employment projects for those disabled persons who cannot be made fit for ordinary competitive employment.

"All these activities have a common goal--to equip the disabled for a life no longer dependent solely on public or private philanthropy but rather fully integrated into the productive activities of the community,” the journal said.

"The application of modern techniques of vocational rehabilitation has, in fact, proved that disabled persons no longer need to be a burden on the community and that it is possible to restore to the majority of them not only their earning power but also a sense of human dignity.”

The International Labor Office was founded in 1919 to "advance the cause of social justice and, in so doing, to contribute to the establishment of universal and lasting peace.” In 1946 it became the first specialized agency to be associated with the United Nations; and today the number of ILO-affiliated countries totals 104.

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THE MAIL BOX

(Editor's note: THE BLIND AMERICAN welcomes correspondence from readers on all topics affecting the welfare and well-being of Americans, especially those blind or disadvantaged. Letters should be addressed to: Editor, THE BLIND AMERICAN, American Brotherhood for the Blind, Inc., 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California.)

 

To The Editor:

Following my letter in the November issue of THE BLIND AMERICAN magazine, I received several telephone calls and two letters from readers who had questions, and requested further information ....

One question: "We understand that more than one-half of California hotels refuse to admit blind persons as guests. Why is this?' Answer: It seems that about 25 years ago, one Fred Throux, a blind man, came to Los Angeles and put up at a hotel, and then fell down the stairs of the lobby. He brought suit against the hotel in a court of law, and was given a judgment against the chain of hotels operating this particular establishment, which was later upheld by the California State Supreme Court. Since that time the proprietor of some hotels, particularly the large chains, have been afraid to have blind tenants for fear of such suits. While the judgment was not large, only $350.00--and while Fred Throux has since passed away--the damage he has done for the cause of the blind lives long after.

We have been told that legislation should be proposed that would solve this problem, by a law absolving or exempting hotels from such suits. Inasmuch as the California Council of the Blind, in its regular convention in October, passed a resolution proposing legislation that would allow dogs in a hotel, I suggest that a resolution allowing blind people in a hotel and exempting hotels from liability would be more in order!

Another case of blind stupidity was called to my notice just yesterday, when the President of the Minneapolis Transit Company of Minneapolis called attention to the fact that his company was no longer granting free rides to blind persons. In a prepared statement to the press, the president of the company said: "It is only with extreme regret that we are withdrawing the privilege of free rides to blind persons, as three suits have been filed against the company by blind people riding free, totaling more than $100,000.00.” We feel that in none of these cases that we have mentioned were the blind persons entitled to anything, and that it was wrong for them to take advantage of legal technicalities to claim damages from such people.

I also hope that someone will come forward with the money and an idea or program for legislation that will build a home for the blind here in Southern California, as it has been proven that blind people can be happy and get along very well in a large hotel-style home, one with a good dining room and centrally located.

Yours for better homes for the blind,

Sincerely,

Will Bowman
Cordova Hotel
826 West 8th Street
Los Angeles, California

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BROTHERS ... & OTHERS

California Council Convenes. The Spring 1963 Convention of the California Council of the Blind will be held at the Hotel Senator, Sacramento, May 3, 4 and 5, according to announcement by Jim McGinnis, Council President.

A special feature of the Convention will be the banquet, to be held on the "Mansion Belle"--a steamer on the Sacramento River. The banquet will be a part of a four-hour boat excursion on Saturday, May 4, which will open with a social hour followed by the dinner, dancing and games.

The emphasis at the convention will be on the passage of Council legislation and the study of proposed changes in programs serving the blind administered by the Departments of Education and Social Welfare.

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Blind Readers Amendment. The following announcement with respect to the new legal provision for reader assistance in federal government employment has been issued by the United States Civil Service Commission (under date of March 19, 1963):

"As a result of the enactment of Public Law 87-614 dated August 29, 1962, which authorized the use of readers for the blind, the following statement is added to all civil service examination announcements currently open for receipt of applications: Blind applicants who otherwise meet the physical requirements may be considered for any position the duties of which can be satisfactorily performed with the assistance of a reader. Reading assistance for blind employees is not provided by the employing agency. Readers may be volunteers or may be paid by the employee or a non-profit private organization.”

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AT&T Reports for Blind. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company has again made its Annual Report available in Braille and on records for share owners who are blind. This is the fourth straight year AT&T has produced the special versions of its Annual Report.

Copies of the Braille and record versions are available on request to the Secretary, American Telephone and Telegraph Company, 195 Broadway, New York 7, New York. They are being distributed by the Telephone Pioneers of America, the organization of long-service telephone people who work with the blind as one of their community service activities. Both the records and Braille books were produced by the Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Dogs Aid Eye Research. Collies, a canine breed often affected by detachment of the retina, are aiding Stanford University scientists in their study of the visual condition which affects more and more Americans every year, according to a report in THE ASSOCIATED BLIND LEADER (publication of the Associated Blind of New Jersey).

Dr. Seymour R. Roberts and Dr. A.N. Delaporta of Stanford's Medical Center estimate that five percent of Americans, already blind, have detached retinas, the journal noted. The doctors expressed belief that the eye condition in collies may be hereditary, and that 30 percent of the breed in the U.S. have visual defects--with half of these probably fated to develop detachment with resulting blindness.

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Center for Disturbed Blind Children. A demonstration project establishing a mental health center for disturbed blind children is underway by the Jewish Guild for the Blind, a nonsectarian New York agency, with the help of a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (Department of Health, Education, and Welfare).

Covering a three-year period, the grant amounts to $40,000 for the first year and $77,000 for each of the subsequent two years, according to a report in THE NEW OUTLOOK FOR THE BLIND. The project will seek to make use of existing knowledge of the psychology of blind children in developing new educational, diagnostic and treatment methods.

Findings of the project will then be turned over to social agencies, schools and community clinics serving the disturbed blind children who cannot now be adequately taken care of in conventional schools and clinics. Mentally retarded and severely visually impaired youngsters up to 21 years of age may be referred from any state for diagnostic study by the Guild, the article pointed out.

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A Comic Strip for the Blind. A comic strip, or comic book, designed to be "seen" by the blind has been inaugurated by the creator of "Snuffy Smith," Fred Lasswell of Tampa, Florida, according to a feature story in the Jacksonville TIMES-UNION (October 24, 1962).

The newspaper article noted that Lasswell had long resolved to make some contribution toward the welfare of the blind as the result of a boyhood experience. Thirty-five years ago, as a boy of 11, he lost his sight for two weeks following a firecracker explosion.

Years later, as a successful cartoonist (chosen the outstanding newspaper artist of the year last November), Lasswell reportedly wrote to his old scoutmaster in Florida asking what he might do within his special field to help the blind. Surprised to learn there were no comics for blind persons, he set to work for two years in his spare time to create a new concept in artistry that might enable the blind to "visualize" the comics.

Among other helpers, Lasswell was said to have turned to an old Jesuit priest, noted for his braille work, for assistance on the pioneering cartoon project. The result of their labor is today on file at the Library of Congress under the title, "This is Charlie"--a sort of brailled picture code intended to be "seen" with the fingers.

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"Seeing Fingers." A biography of Louis Braille for the younger reader has been written by Etta de Gering under the title, Seeing Fingers: The Story of Louis Braille. Published in 1962 by David McKay of New York, the book reportedly represents a simplification of a more adult treatment, The Reading Fingers, Life of Louis Braille, by Jean Roblin.

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Talking Books Evaluated. THE NEW YORKER Magazine's "Reporter at Large" (Kevin Wallace) presented his views on the talking-book program of the Library of Congress in an article appearing in the November 3, 1962, issue of the magazine. His report covers interviews with librarians and officials involved in the program, along with a blind sculptress with whom the reporter listened to a recording of Marcel Proust's celebrated novel Swann's Way.

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Nebraska's Jack Swager Weds. Jack Swager, president of the Nebraska state affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, was married on December 8, 1962, to Miss Celia Cvitak. The couple reside at 6303 South 23rd Street, Omaha.

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VA Hires More Handicapped. A record number of handicapped employees has been reported presently on the rolls of the Veterans Administration--a total of 12,250. The VA also maintains that it employs a higher proportion of handicapped persons than any other federal agency.

Noting that hiring of the handicapped is steadily on the rise both in his agency and elsewhere, VA Administrator John S. Gleason, Jr, declared recently that the trend "proves statistically what we can see from production figures. We are hiring more handicapped workers because they are qualified and make efficient and productive employees.

"For example," he continued, "among the best typists in the entire VA are the blind girls who work in our central electronic transcribing section.”

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AFB Research Bulletin. The American Foundation for the Blind recently published the second in a series of research bulletins containing both original manuscripts and previously published articles bearing on problems of visual impairment. Compiled by the AFB's Division of Research and Statistics, the latest bulletin (dated December, 1962) is made up of nine separate papers involving scientific and social-science research methods. Among the titles are: "A Study of Braille Code Revisions,” by Gerald Francis Staack; "Personality and Attitudes of Blind Teen-Agers Learning Cane Travel,” by Rosanne Kramer; "The Relationship Among Intelligence, Emotional Stability and Auditory Cues by the Blind,” by David Winer, and "Psychosocial Research and Braille: The Need for a Program of Research and Development,” by Milton D. Graham.

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Asian Conference on Blind. The second Asian Conference on Work for the Blind will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, May 6-17, under the joint sponsorship of the American Foundation for Overseas Blind and the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, according to a report in THE NEW OUTLOOK. Twenty Asian nations will send two delegates apiece, one representing a governmental agency and the other a voluntary organization for the blind.

Theme of the Asian Conference reportedly is "The Blind of Asia--The Next Five Years." Among the subjects under discussion will be the admission of blind children into ordinary schools, provision for comprehensive adjustment and rehabilitation services, training the blind for modern-day employment, industrial workshops, resettlement of rural blind, and development of national and regional facilities for training qualified professional staff.

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Maryland Leader Cited. Clarice R. Arnold, president of the Maryland Council of the Blind, has received a citation from Maryland Governor Tawes for her notable contributions in work with the handicapped over the past several years. Wearing a white orchid given to her by co-workers on the medical consultant staff of the social security agency, she lunched with a representative of the Governor and was informed that, in addition to the state citation, her name has been submitted to the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped for possible further recognition.

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