VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the blind--it is the blind speaking for themselves
Monitor Headquarters 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708
Published monthly in braille and distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind, President: Russell Kletzing, 4604 Briarwood Drive, Sacramento, California, 95821
Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708
Acting Editor: Jacobus tenBroek
Assistant Editor: Floyd W. Matson
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708
News items and changes of address should be sent to the Editor.
COMSTAC--NOTE ON AUTHORS
COMSTAC ON AGENCY FUNCTION AND STRUCTURE
VICTOR JOHNSON RETIRES
TWIN VISION ACTIVITIES GROW
ONE MAN'S CONCEPT OF THE VOLUNTARY AGENCY
By Stanford E, Allerton
BLIND MAN-WIFE OWNER TEAM RACES HORSES AT GEORGETOWN
By Al Cartwright
CALIFORNIA'S VENDING STAND AND BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAMS
By Lawrence Marcelino
WHERE THE DISABLED MANUFA CTURE UMBRELLAS
By Jacob Freid
NEWLY FORMED IOWA CITY ORGANIZATION OF THE BLIND
By Susan Willoughby
RESEARCH "IGNORES" BLINDNESS, DOCTOR SAYS
COMSTAC--STANDARDS FOR PHYSICAL FACILITIES
BLIND HOUSEWIFE OPERATES COMPUTERS BY BRAILLE
PARENTS ASK MORE TUTORS FOR DEA F CHILDREN
By Bernard Bard
HEW RELEASE ON NEW WELFARE MONEY AND BENEFITS
DEAF AND BLIND EXECUTIVE NAMED HANDICAPPED AMERICAN OF YEAR
SIXTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF BLIND TEACHERS IN CALIFORNIA
By Isabelle L. D. Grant
MISERABLE WHILE ON JOB? DON'T FEEL ALONE
By Ken McKenna
REPORT ON NEW SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
BLIND BOOK "DISCUSSERS" -- MARYLAND STYLE!
By John Nagle
C.I.B. IN LOS ANGELES IS BOOMING - A REPORT
By Howard Porter
BLIND ASK FASTER "TALKING BOOKS"
By Martin Weil
SPECIAL QUALITY TO HIS VOICE
By James J. Fisher
COMSTAC--STUMBLING BLOCKS TO INDEPENDENT TRAVEL FOR THE BLIND
HAWAII BLIND HOLD 40TH ANNIVERSARY DINNER
By Eva Smyth
REGISTERING OF CHARITIES DEBATED
By Henry Beckett
BLIND DIET--AND THE IFB IS ENRICHED!
APWA SETS NEW WELFARE GOALS
In this issue we are publishing three articles on COMSTAC, Commission on Standards and Accreditation of Services to the Blind, At this point the editors would like to include biographical data about the authors. They, however, shall remain anonymous. All three are agency employees, currently actively at work in the programs they discuss, and earnestly desirous of continuing in that work. The articles are candidly critical. Since career prospects may be affected, the authors believe (and the editors agree) that it may well be wise not to provide the appropriate by-lines.
Back to Contents
Early in 1963 the American Foundation for the Blind called together a group to be called the Commission on Standards and Accreditation of Services to the Blind (COMSTAC), for the purpose of setting up standards in all areas of service, leading to accreditation of Agencies for the Blind, much as high schools, universities, hospitals, etc., are accredited. The Commission set up twelve committees intended to develop standards in twelve areas. One of these was the area of Function and Structure. This committee was charged with defining the purpose of an Agency for the Blind; how it is formed and how it is administered. To use the committee's own definition: "By 'structure' is meant the 'domicile' or the arrangement of parts within which 'function' takes place." To add one further definition; for the purpose of this paper "function" means "what the agency does."
The report on Agency Function and Structure is divided into four parts: 1) The Agency's Functions and Structure, 2) Structure of the Advisory or Governing body, 3) Function of the Advisory or Governing Body and 4) Functions of the Administrator. All but the section on the Function of the Advisory or Governing body are preceded by an introduction, and the Preliminary Statement of Responsibility of the Committee on Standards of Agency Function and Structure is included as the final exhibit.
It is only after several readings of these standards that one can bring himself to believe that they really mean what they say. Then, like Don Quixote, they ". . . climb on their horse and gallop off in all directions," primarily toward destruction of useful service to the blind.
In the introduction one is faced with a delineation of high principle, expecting to find standards of a meaningful nature. In summary it says that you cannot work without a structure that makes for efficiency, works in the community and cares for the entire life of the client. And what a life is envisioned on later pages! It states that the agency must recognize its accountability to the community. The agency must be able to render the service it claims to render. An agency for the blind must work with other agencies. The structure must be flexible. And finally, it must be led by an administrator who is capable and dedicated.
But what a slow-burning, insidious and infinitely subtle shock greets the reader when reading the standards themselves! There is a science-fiction story that tells of a sudden rise in the termite population of the United States. It seems annoying, but people are not too concerned because all of the important office and government buildings in this country are of steel and concrete construction. The last lines of the story tell of the appearance of a slightly larger termite, differently colored, crossing the lobby of a gigantic skyscraper with tiny flecks of bright metal on its jaws! So it is with these standards. They appear straightforward and innocent, . . until you recognize the shiny metal on their jaws that could lead to destruction of all the progress so painfully gained in meaningful work with the blind.
How is this done? Standard 1.3: "The agency renders a needed and a valid service, " which seems innocent enough, contains the original subtle loading. Who is to judge whether a service is "already and satisfactorily" provided by some other agency as Standard 1.3.2 requires? Are they, for instance, speaking of a general agency combining, let us say, rehabilitation and similar services to the blind with services to other handicapped groups -- a concept long advocated by the American Foundation for the Blind, many general rehabilitation agencies, and a substantial number of federal officials -- a system which usually leaves the blind shortchanged and receiving service in name only? Standard 1.5 emphasizes use of the general rehabilitation agency for all problems of the blind other than". . . a) mobility and orientation, b) methods of communication and c) self-care. " Standard 1.6. 1 requires that "the agency undertakes to provide a program of education and consultation on the special problems of blindness to the staff and boards of general agencies in order to enable such general agencies to provide effective services to those blind and visually handicapped persons who can benefit from them. " Standard 1.6 requires that in refferal cases the blind agency further acquaints the general agency of special problems of blindness. Standard 1.8 requires that the agency maintain working relationships with other agencies in order to assure a coordinated program for the blind. Standard 1.9 reinforces this with the further demand that the blind agency". . . encourages and cooperates with other agencies, voluntary and public. . . " toward developing blind programs. The Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare has said often enough that blind agencies should be part of the general agencies and not separate entities. How much more power would rest with the American Foundation for the Blind if all services to the blind were part of general rehabilitation agencies? The A.F.B. could then be the only agency (or one of very few specialized agencies) in this nation! Fantastic? Perhaps.
Another direction. Standard 1.3.6: "The agency employs adequate numbers of qualified personnel to provide its services. " Who is to define what is adequate? And who is to determine who is qualified? Standard 1.3.7: "The agency provides, through appropriate staff, the necessary administrative machinery and activities to support the services called for by its purposes and objectives. " What is an appropriate staff? What is the necessary administrative machinery? Who is to judge? The all-powerful committee which holds the key to life and death for agencies and groups through the medium of "accreditation"?
Standards for the Structure and Function of the Governing or Advisory Body detail first the requirements set for the Board of Directors for a private agency and the Advisory board of a public agency. They require that every agency should have a group of civic-minded citizens who speak for the community, and to some extent speak to the community. The standards committee has separated these differently functioning boards into two categories because of the difference in the accountability; i.e. , the public agency is a function of the state, while the private agency is not so directly accountable to the body politic. The structure outlined for the private agencies as requirements are to be found in any good handbook of corporate structure. One might at first simply question whether this part of the standards was necessary. The requirements for a public agency are descriptive of an overblown commission form of agency which is in existence in several states.
The insidious misdirection regarding the makeup of such a corporate or advisory structure is the careful dealing with the constitution of these structures. These governing or advisory bodies must: 1) include responsible, devoted citizens who represent a variety of "...community, social, cultural, ethnic and economic interests." 2) Members may not be ". . . paid staff personnel of the agency or any other agencies in the same field. " 3) Membership in these bodies "is large enough to assure adequate representation of various elements in the community, but not so large as to hamper active participation m meetings by all members. " All important qualities are enumerated. All except that not one mention is made about any of the members being blind! This is hardly accidental. Again we see the paternalistic attitude of the framers at work. One can almost hear the thinking of the committee: "Since we are serving the helpless blind, we must do it by caring for them. We must gather board members from all segments of the community. We must be certain that they are devoted. But we must be equally certain that they are not blind, since how can they serve themselves?"
Provisions are made in this section for all the various functions of the governing or advisory board -- except finding out what the needs of the clients may be. No provision is made for consultation with the blind themselves, organized or not. From the dim days of the fights over the Kennedy-Baring Bill comes the feeling of the organizations behind COMSTAC that the blind are not capable of knowing what is best for them. Here again the resolve that only "professional" workers for the blind (and in this case not even professional, but "devoted members of the community") can have any knowledge of the problems of blindness. For no matter how thoroughly you organize any controlling or advisory body, of what use is this organization if there is no communication and advice with the people who know most intimately the problems, the needs, the aspirations of the blind -- those who live with the problems?
Even the qualifications for the Director of the agency to be hired by this governing or advisory board are lacking this one important qualification. There is no mention that the director should be (or even could be) a blind person. Rather the implication is made that the Director should not be blind when the standard for his selection and qualifications reads: "and has had a number of years of experience as a practitioner and/ or in an adminstrative capacity in a comparable agency." Comparable does not necessarily mean another blind agency. And under today's conditions in what other type of health and welfare agency would a blind person likely have "a number of years experience"?
Great mention is made in the introduction to this section regarding the "accountability" of the governing board to the community. No mention is made of the accountability to the clients, accountability to the other blind persons of the state, or, for that matter, to the whole blind segment of the community. It seems that while these committees make much of the "improvement of the lot of the blind," along with this improvement goes no equality of the blind. No matter how wealthy, mobile, important in the community a blind person may be, he is still inferior.
The final portion of this report deals with the functions of the Administrator or Director. Many of these standards are skeleton standards with references to several other Committee reports (Standards for: Physical Facilities, Fiscal and Service Accounting and Personnel Administration). Nonetheless they delineate the duties of the Director in such a way as to make time for creative leadership of the agency almost nonexistent. He must conduct the entire program, assist the governing or advisory board in its acitivities, create a continuing statement of history, philosophy, budget, etc. He hires all personnel and keeps charge of the employment files on them. He supervises the duties, education and responsibilities of all staff. He conducts the public relations program of the agency. He establishes and maintains the system of client records. He gathers the statistics to use in guiding policy. And he makes sure the physical facilities are maintained.
This is the most basic of all the committee reports. From this well-spring comes the basis for philosophy, direction and organization. It is the Agency's function and structure that will determine the validity and benefits of all services to the blind. If the subtle and covert omissions and commissions of this report are allowed to become the basis of accreditation for agencies for the blind the good work of many years will be slowly but surely overturned. It is likely that the accreditation built around this structure and performing the functions that naturally follow will see a return to a paternalism the like of which has rarely been seen in this country.
Back to Contents
(From St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 28, 1965)
After 28-1/2 years as operator and owner of the concession stand in the Federal Building at 1114 Market St., Victor C. Johnson has decided to retire.
"I have decided it is time to do some of the things in life I just have not found time for recently," said Mr. Johnson, 67, of 4739 Ridgewood Avenue.
Mr. Johnson said he and his wife are going to build a little home in the country and enjoy life. "I would like to enjoy some outdoor life like horseback riding." Mr. Johnson said.
Horseback riding might not sound like much to many, but to Mr. Johnson it would be an accomplishment because he has been blind all his life. He was a salesman before taking over the concession stand in the Federal Building in 1937.
Mrs. Johnson comes to the shop with him each day at 6:30 a.m. and works a few hours before leaving to take care of her household chores.
"My wife's name is Xena. Make sure you spell that with an X not a Z," Mr. Johnson said.
Mr. Johnson's shop was in the lobby of the building, at first, and he had only about $70 worth of merchandise on hand. Today, he has a special room, and his inventory averages about $2,000. "We sell about everything," Mr. Johnson said.
Rock' n' roll music was coming from a radio in the shop. "That music is for my helpers," Mr. Johnson said. "I have a stereo record player and just love to listen to classical music, but here my helpers like rock' n' roll so the music is to keep them happy."
Mr. Johnson has two employees, a young lady to help wait on the customers and a porter.
Mr. Johnson is active in the welfare of blind persons. He is a director of the National Federation of the Blind, he served four terms as president of the United Workers for the Blind in Missouri and is a former president of the Alumni Association of the Missouri School for the blind.
Back to Contents
Twin Vision, the unique publishing enterprise developed by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, is continuing to expand its activities in an effort to bring graphic reading materials to blind children and adults.
A mid-November rummage sale in Tarzana, California, netted the group a total $520 to help defray publishing expenses, according to Jean Dyon Norris, Twin Vision director.
At the same time the Tarzana REPORTER, a weekly newspaper serving several Southern California communities, devoted its front page to a picture of the local Twin Vision Action Committee at work assembling braille type and running the organization's braille printing press. The photo was backed up by a feature article describing the work of the Brotherhood's publishing division.
"Twin Vision is a process of interleaving children's books with braille pages so that both sighted and sightless might read together, " the newspaper reported. "The Action Committee was formed in February of 1964 to help Twin Vision with raising funds and office services. So far over 9,000 Twin Vision books have been sent to State Schools for the Blind and Regional Braille Libraries of Congress throughout the United Sates as well as Canada, England, India, Pakistan, Kenya and Australia.
"A breakthrough in the field of educating the blind came through the combined efforts of Mrs. Norris and volunteer worker Mrs. Robert Neel of Tarzana, with a process developed by Mrs. Neel of embossing pictures in plastic."
The article pointed out that "Other services of Twin Vision include a training program for the blind, a new writing course designed for the blind, and a new concept in music for the blind." The two photographs accompanying the article featured Miss Lynn Curtis, a blind participant in the program, being assisted by several volunteer workers including Mrs. William Pluth, Mrs. George Dyer and Mrs. Warren P. Leonard of Tarzana,. The Twin Vision Action Committee is headed by Mrs. Charles F. Rowley.
Back to Contents
By Sanford E, Allerton
From time to time, we have some glimpses of the guiding philosophy behind agency organizations. A case in point is an article in the October issue of The New Outlook for the Blind, house organ of the A.F.B.; the article is entitled "A Call to Service", and the author, Robert N. Hilkert, is first Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, a lecturer, former faculty member of Temple University, and a man with considerable experience on welfare boards. With all this background he would seem to be an established authority on agencies. As he himself suggests, however, there may be differences of opinion on academic matters.
Hilkert sets up in this article what he regards as the ideal philosophy and structure of a Board governing the Voluntary Agency. It is a call to the wealthy for obligatory service to the underprivileged; the "haves", the "privileged", the "earned advantaged" have amoral responsibility to help those less fortunate. Mr. Hilkert sums it all up grandly as follows:
"There is always war to eliminate injustice--not necessarily a shooting war, but war in terms of the highest moral equivalents that we can find.
"The basic issue should not be construed as that of eliminating all differences. There are earned differences between the haves and have-nots that must be recognized as not only just, but as essential fruits of a free society. Democracy succeeds only when there is a driving force which permits, encourages, and enables the common man to become an uncommon man. While we must work for equal opportunity, we must grant the right to succeed, including the right to gain material success. We must preserve the right to aspire and to fulfill honest hopes and ambitions."
There seems to be more concern here for maintaining certain rights and privileges rather than for real social advancement. Mr. Hilkert talks about "planes" of responsibility, for example, the good Samaritan motive. "We are in fact our brother's keeper." He calls to the banker class for leadership in these ringing words:
"When we acquire advantage we become privileged individuals of our society. Privilege does not lessen social responsibility; it increases it. If the obligations acquired through becoming privileged, however justly earned, are not fulfilled, then society eventually turns to ideas, methods, and programs which threaten to eliminate the rights of men to earn advantage."
There follows some further comment about the "privileged", their obligation to "serve" and the crying need of the agencies for this "service." On the one hand, he states that problems cannot be left to the agencies alone, but on the other hand, he so structures the agency Board that all actual activities are confined to it. He concedes that the Board should include some individuals outside of "the power structure" (doctors, lawyers, merchant chiefs). Especially needed are "young comers" (whoever they may be) of the community. But selection must not be haphazard: "Agency boards, like all businesses, must be concerned with management succession. As in business, the young comers must be carefully chosen, carefully oriented, trained, and given responsibility, " It is these individuals who, after due care of selection and training, are to contribute original ideas of progress, etc. All very democratic, it would seem, but then note this revealing tidbit:
"A Board needs a few members whose principal contribution is that of influencing key individuals and groups in behalf of the agency and its work. A few words strategically directed can often do more for the agency than hours of labor spent with a project subcommittee. A well directed, well timed statement from him or her can eliminate once and for all a misunderstanding about the agency--a misunderstanding that could smoulder or fester and break out into a conflagration of criticism or an epidemic of unfounded misgiving."
As Hilkert sees it, the business of the Board is to keep informed so that it may choose its director and establish policy for which the Board is responsible. But there is no adequate communication between Board members, no free discussion. Once the Board is established, its President and the director take over, in fact. The executive director of a voluntary agency becomes a kind of superman, like the President of General Motors. Let Mr. Hilkert put it in his own words:
"Consider briefly the types of administrative responsibility he has, and make a mental comparison with the tasks of any business executive. The executive director must recruit, select, train, and supervise an organization. . . " "He must engage in budgetary gymnastics which would floor the typical business executive."
"The executive director must have a rare degree of social skill in dealing with individuals and groups. He has daily relationships with top level professionals, which is more like a college president dealing with a faculty than a boss dealing with subordinates."
"The executive sells, he persuades, he defends, he negotiates, he paves the way, he handles the backwash, he writes, he speaks, he stays out of the act when he would like to be in, and gets into the act when he would prefer to stay out."
This concept of absolute professional know-how is extended to the Board President, Mr. Hilkert' s superman number 2. The President knows all the little fellows, the programs and policy, and is part of the Executive Committee. But he must back his chief, the director, Again, to quote Hilkert:
"But the work of the agency from day to day raises many problems. The executive director is not always sure of the best decision to make, one the Board would fully approve. General policies do not fit every situation or issue that can arise. Sometimes situations are hot, delicate, or 'sticky' and the President must be accessible. After such consultation with his President, the executive director must feel free to move on the basis of their decision without fear of Board disapproval. It is the President's responsibility to handle the Board. If the executive director can't find the President and he must act, then he should act and the President should support him."
Now there are other statements in this article, reprinted from a pamphlet, of equal significance and perhaps more on the positive side. But in general, it's the usual businessman's concept of an agency board under strict control.
The salient question is: how does this concept workout in practice? Some of us who have served on this type of Board have a good idea from personal experience.
There is no provision in Mr. Hilkert's theory for minority group representation on the Board. If he should find it helpful to improve his status in the community, he may appoint representatives of one or another supporting group, but he has the power to easily replace these by others once the agency is established. Representatives of the organized blind, for example, are easily displaced if they become too articulate in their criticisms. The director may even go so far as to publicly advise the blind about which organizations "for" the blind they should join, and can at will turn against groups which have given him a sustaining hand. So we see in practice what becomes of Hilkert's ideal of professional ethics.
If one expects progress via an influx of young newcomers on the Board, the outlook is none too bright, because of Hilkert's insistance on "careful selection and training. " In fact, communication between Board members is stifled. Information trickles down from the top to Board members through verbose technical reports more confusing than enlightening. Monthly Board meetings become social events, luncheons and banquets, in which the Board is effectively converted into a booster's club. Indeed, the whole operation has strong overtones of Babbittry.
The biggest joke of all, the Achilles heel of this system, lies in the selection of the director himself. Since the leaders of the "haves" and their business associates generally know little about blind affairs, they are apt to form an executive committee trusting exclusively to the "professional know-how" of an accredited agency. Any possibility of a blind representative taking part in this very "sticky" situation is quite remote. For the sake of "professional ethics" there may be a review of applicants for the directorship, and in these interviews a blind representative might feel rather strongly about his choice. But ultimately it is the all-wise professional agency which picks its man, and the Board quickly approves. All this, of course, is in line with Mr. Hilkert's ideals.
Thus it is that the agency establishes itself, chooses its director, all nicely under the aegis of accreditation. The director then selects his staff, promulgates his own programs at leisure, and issues his own reports, uninspiring and highly technical. We read about three-year plans, five-year plans, and other activities which are just about to happen in the distant future!
The frustrated blind person may attempt to learn just how the enterprise is actually working in his community. He hears about lots of phone calls, applications filled out by the blind, referrals to other agencies, a little action on peripatology, gadget displays, a home teacher here or there: but of real jobs for the blind, he may hear nothing. He seeks to find out about blind people in new jobs, but in vain. Scratching his head, he is likely to think that all this referral business is so much "passing of the buck. " His criticisms go unheeded, and he learns that the director is off traveling to conventions on accreditation (to increase his wisdom), busy with good will lectures, or private counseling with state agencies. At all times, it seems the paper work of the agency is staggering, the phone is busy, staff are staffing, and bills to the community are growing.
The conclusion is obvious that the threat of agency bureaucracy has become more real every year, as urban communities follow Mr. Hilkert's ideas. The only corrective may lie in adequate legislation controlling agencies of this kind.
After all, the agency is not, strictly speaking, a private institution. With the United Fund drive, may contributions come to the agency from middle class individuals and small enterprises, and not entirely from the privileged "haves." The agency is therefore a public responsibility. Furthermore, where such agencies participate in federal and state programs and attempt to work with other state organizations, possibly to influence legislation itself, the involvement with the tax dollar and responsibility to the public is particularly clear.
No one can categorically deny that the voluntary agencies do some good. The staff people are usually hard workers who make contacts with blind people who may have fundamental needs of adjustment or information. I recognize these facts, and I have no doubt of the fundamentally good intentions of Mr. Hilkert, who is interested in having the agency be an efficient, productive organization. But in this age when the "have-nots" and minority groups are demonstrating their interest in, and ability to contribute to, the instruments of social welfare, the outlook of Mr. Hilkert appears rather antiquated. Organizations of the blind, in particular, need recognition of their rights and privileges as American citizens, and by legal statute. Otherwise they may never become "advantaged."
Back to Contents
By Al Cartwright
(From Evening Journal, Wilmington, Del., December 27, 1965)
Georgetown -- Everett and Beulah Brown are a couple of harness-horse owners with a couple of horses.
They go from track to track in the minor leagues of trotting and pacing with Highland Pat and Swift Song.
This is how they make their living.
It is risky enough living for normal people who depend on it.
This plain, good-humored man and wife from Hicksville, Ohio, now are sending their animals to the races at Georgetown Raceway, which operates mostly at night.
It is always night for the Browns.
They do not see their horses in competition, nor their names in the programs of the newspapers.
The Browns are blind.
Everett is legally blind, which is a way of saying that he can see the grandstand.
His wife is totally blind.
If you want to see the Browns, you go to the stable area. This is where they live, in a "tack room" that is maybe eight feet square, and it is at the end of a row of stalls in a horse barn. Highland Pat and Swift Song are stabled halfway up the row.
"I'm kind of proud of this room, " Everett said as he opened the door. The warmth from a little electric heater felt good after the stinging cold of the raceway grounds. "There was a pile of scrap lumber around the corner. I bought a quarter's worth of nails, borrowed a hammer and a saw and went to work.
He reached in a refrigerator for a couple of beers. The room was nice and warm and the beer was nice and cold and Everett was relaxed.
His wife sat at a table that had a portable typewriter on it. She said she had written some letters, and had to get them in the mail. Her Pilot dog, Mitzi, jumped up on the bed and relaxed, too. Mitzi is a brown, white and sociable boxer.
Brown, 51, is one of eight children. Seven were stricken with chorioretinitis and were legally blind by the time they were 14. The only one with normal vision. Dale, is back home training another horse by telephone. The Browns' driver, Otis Crawford, coaches him long-distance.
"My parents had normal vision, " Brown said. "Nobody knows why us kids were hit with this. We took tests at the University of Michigan and they went back into the family tree and looked for diabetes and TB and never found anything. Outside of the youngest, who became a municipal judge, we grew up to be farmers and laborers."
Two years ago, Everett was interested in buying a farm. Dale went with them.
"This guy had four horses in his barn, and instead of buying the farm we wound up with a horse -- Swift Song -- for $600, " Brown said. "Just an urge, neither of us knew anything about racing. Beulah and I ran a teen-age hangout. We folded that and hit the road. We still have a house in Hicksville.
"I like the racing business -- I'm afraid. It hasn't been very rewarding financially. We're doing pretty good now. though. We've had our best luck at Harrington and Georgetown. Made enough to pay some debts and buy a little beer. But we have to cash some bets, in addition to the purses, to get by. The tracks we go to, the best purse we've hit is $500."
Highland Pat won here the other night and paid $49.50. The Browns had $6 across the board on her.
"Swift Song was in a $300 double at Harrington," Brown said. "That sort of thing helps."
The Browns live for free in their little room, buying only food. Everett works as his own groom -- "I can see the horse in the stall. I go to the paddock with them, and I collect the checks -- when there is one."
Of necessity, they are never away from the horses. They travel with them. They rode from Jackson, Mich., to Phoenix, Ariz., in a van with nine horses. Not in the cab of the van -- but with the horses.
"There is a six-foot space right in the middle of these big vans," Brown said. "They keep hay and straw in it. That's where we rode and where we slept -- what little we slept. "
The Browns have been married for 23 years. They met at a skating party when both were attending the Ohio School for the Blind in Columbus, Beulah has done some teaching in a state adult program for the blind.
Everett doesn't use a cane. "I just blunder my way along."
Not really, though. The way he walks up the cluttered aisle of the barn, you wouldn't think he was a blind man.
Beulah has Mitzi. They'll go to the grandstand area and Beulah will depend on the speaker system for her information.
"She does the betting," her husband said, "but I never have figured out how. We get along pretty good. The worst part is coming to a strange track. I usually come in two weeks ahead of Beulah, to iron things out. We have to establish our handicap every place we go. I sort of pave the way. Once we get acquainted, everything is fine.
The tracks are as cooperative as they can be. Phoenix doesn't allow women to stay on the grounds over night, but they sort of shut their eyes.
The Browns plan to stay through the extended Georgetown meeting.
"It would be nice to go down to Pompano and race in that Florida weather," Brown said, "but I'm not sure we have that kind of stock. We've learned fast -- you go to the tracks where your stock fits in, when you're trying to make a living."
As far as they know, the Browns are the only blind people so actively engaged in harness racing.
"We've met no other blind folks, " Beulah said, and then she brightened: "But I did meet a lady with a hearing aid the other night."
Back to Contents
By Lawrence Marcelino
[Editor's Note: This commentary on California's vending stand and Business Enterprise programs was presented by Lawrence Marcelino before the Assembly Interim Committee on Social Welfare at San Diego, California, December 21, 1965. Since California's program is one of the largest in the nation and since the problems of that program are here analyzed in a thoughtful and straightforward way, this discussion will be of interest to the organized blind throughout the country, not just those in vending stand programs. Lawrence "Muzzy" Marcelino, well-known in Federation circles for a quarter of a century, is one of the legislative representatives of the California Council of the Blind. It was in that capacity that he spoke before the Social Welfare Committee.]
The Council's Concern with the BEP. California's Business Enterprise Program for the Blind has been one of the major areas of concern of the California Council of the Blind since the formal establishment of our organization 31 years ago. The Council is a Statewide nonprofit organization of blind persons with 41 chapters. Its members include blind operators of vending stands as well as applicants for stands and prospective operators. In the 1941, 1943, and 1945 General
Sessions of the State Legislature, the California Council of the Blind had bills introduced to authorize the installation and operation of vending stands in State, county, and municipal buildings to be operated by-licensed blind persons. It was solely through the Council's efforts in 1945, that a measure was finally enacted which is popularly known as the Crowley Act, Credit for California's vending stand law belongs to the California Council of the Blind. Various aspects of the BEP are frequently the subject matter of resolutions brought to our semi-annual conventions by the delegates from our chapters, and are often the subjects for panel discussions at these conventions and at our regional legislative seminars.
The Council has continuously and actively sought the improvement and expansion of the program in the interest of the blind and the public at large. We are grateful therefore to the State Legislature and to your Honorable Committee that this study has been undertaken. We respectfully submit the following recommendations for improvement of the program. We feel that they are urgently needed:
1. The Service Fee. No increase whatsoever in the so called service fee should be authorized. The substantial increase in Federal matching funds available for the program plus the State's appropriation provide ample funds for the construction and installation of new vending stands. This was corroborated by the Statement to your Committee by Mr. Mendelsohn at the hearing in Los Angeles on the afternoon of November 22nd.
We feel that the fee should be based on the net income of the operator rather than upon his gross sales. This would reduce the inequities that now prevail in low profit stands, as compared to others whose profits are. higher because they sell coffee or other high profit goods. Such an inequity can be illustrated by the example of two stands, each grossing $1,000 per month. Both operators now pay the same amount as service fee, but one operator nets only 10 per cent of gross and the other nets 20 percent. The State of Missouri has just announced to its blind operators that their set-aside fee will be based on net income rather than on gross sales.
The statute should provide that the rules for determining net income should be those used for determining net income for the Federal income tax and should prohibit the Department from imposing additional ones.
The statute should be amended to prohibit the use of service fee funds for the installation of new vending stands or cafeterias and should limit their use for the repair and maintenance of existing stands and for the purchase of equipment for such existing stands.
The schedule of fees, based on net income, should be set forth in the governing statute and not left to the discretion of the Department nor subject to its change without legislative authorization.
No operator of a sub-marginal stand, i.e., whose net income is less than $250.00 per month should be required to pay a service fee.
We have heard unconfirmed rumors that an official of the Department has advocated special levies so as to limit the amount of profits that blind vending stand or cafeteria operators might derive. Presumably the funds from these levies would be allocated to the operators of unprofitable locations. I wish to reiterate that these rumors have not been confirmed, and we hope that they are not true. The Council will strongly oppose any such attempt to limit the income of blind operators of cafeterias or vending stands. We feel that it would constitute a wrongful discrimination against the blind and would establish a harmful precedent to employers for paying lower wages and salaries on the grounds of blindness. It has not been proposed to limit the income of Manning's, nor that of Foster's or other food service entrepreneurs. No proposal has been made to limit the income of the non-blind operator of the cafeteria in the State Office Building in San Francisco nor was it even proposed to increase his fee to the State when the Administration sought to increase the fee of blind operators to as much as 10 per cent. Limiting the income of blind operators would remove the most effective incentive for good service to their customers. It would also encourage the Department to install more sub-marginal stands and thereby misuse the public funds allocated for stand construction and installation.
2. Placement and Location . The Department should be prohibited from installing vending stands in locations that do not yield sufficient business to render the operator self-supporting. Such stands are wasteful of the tax money spent in their construction and installation and tax funds expended on their supervision and they are wasteful of the other operators' service fee money expended for their maintenance and repair. It is specious to argue in their justification that they provide experience for their operators. The only experience derived from operating sub-marginal stands is a sad experience and a useless one. We deplore the fact that such a sub-marginal cigar stand has been installed in the cafeteria of the State Department of Agriculture in Sacramento, for example. There are other such pathetic situations in this State. They should all be phased out and their operators assigned to better locations or placed in self-supporting jobs.
We urge that the Department follow the example of Mannings' Incorporated and other food service entrepreneurs who operate food services for employees in office buildings, hospitals, industrial plants, etc. at no cost whatsoever to such entrepreneurs. No location is accepted by them if it does not guarantee a specified minimum to the manager of the cafeteria plus a net percentage to the food service corporation.
We recommend that the Department train blind persons for employment in such private food service establishments as helpers and as managers.
3. Training. At our conventions and at our chapter meetings, it is frequently stated that the training which is given to operators of cigar stands, snack bars, and cafeterias is not adequate. Some, who were supposedly trained for managers of food service establishments, say that their training consisted of little more than washing dishes or cashiering.
We recommend that funds be allocated to the Department for the employment of instructors in its staff whose responsibility would be to provide step by step training to blind trainees on all phases of the work. Whether the individual is to be trained for work as a dish washer, a counter attendant, or a manager, his training should be of such thoroughness as to qualify him for employment in private business.
Dissatisfaction has been voiced concerning the present system of providing training through contract with a licensed operator who in turn employs an instructor. It is charged that this instructor feels that his primary responsibility is to help the licensed operator rather than teach the trainee. He generally lacks confidence in the capability of blind persons to perform the various tasks, and he has not acquired a body of knowledge regarding techniques for blind persons. Moreover, in order to justify payment of the training fee to the licensed operator, more blind trainees are fed into the training program than are placed each year. In contrast to this. Manning's trains only as many managers as it will require for its forthcoming locations or for replacements.
We recommend that advanced training by made available for operators who desire to advance to more profitable enterprises. At present, many cigar stand operators complain that they cannot secure training for cafeterias but are forced to remain in stands with little or no likelihood of advancing to more worthwhile locations.
We recommend that as soon as a trainee is contributing to the productivity of a stand or cafeteria, he be paid for his services. In private business, employees in training are paid for their services.
On numerous occasions, operators of cafeterias and cigar stands tell us that they are unable to obtain qualified blind or otherwise disabled helpers from the Department of Rehabilitation. For example, a manager recently reported that he wanted to employ a cook for his cafeteria. When he pointed out to the referring counselor that he wanted an experienced cook and not merely a disabled person, he was told that, "After all, you shouldn't expect too much." We feel that blind cafeteria operators have the right to expect the Department to refer to them well trained, well qualified cooks and helpers for employment. We feel, in like manner, that these blind and otherwise disabled employees should be paid decent wages.
Gentlemen, if you will permit me, I should like to insert in this statement, a word or two of admonition to our fellow blind who are managers or operators of cafeterias, snack bars and vending stands. The best way to avert the mounting pressure to limit the income of operators, is to have the public see a substantial number of blind persons working in your places of business. Please know that there are not only mounting pressures from the public generally that you be compelled to employ blind persons in your cafeterias, but there is no little resentment among the blind themselves who want jobs but cannot secure them. The California Council of the Blind defends your rights as employers and businessmen, but it feels that you have a moral obligation, at least, to hire a substantial number of blind persons, and advises that if you do not, you and the Council will find ourselves faced with compulsory and restrictive proposals.
4. Selection and Promotion. Widespread and intense criticism is voiced among the blind with the procedures and method of selecting operators. Selection committees include social workers and businessmen who have no confidence in the ability or capacity of blind people to work, especially of the totally blind. It is pointed out that the Department prepares the dociers, appoints the selection committees, and dodges responsibility for the selections. Contrary to popular belief, there is no system of promotion in effect and this has caused a great deal of discouragement and demoralization among operators who have been in the program for many years.
We feel that drastic reforms are in order. Selection should be a function of the Department staff with responsibility therefor. Selection should be based on objective ratings of relevant factors. Ratings should be known to the operator and subject to his challenge.
A system of promotion should be adopted based on objective relevant factors.
Iron clad rules for evaluating applicants for stands and their ratings should be established and strictly observed. Transcripts of the proceedings should be available to the applicant and subject to appeal.
5. Policy and Appeals Board . There is urgent need for an independent board in the Division for the Blind, to formulate broad policy and hear appeals. Such a board is needed not only with respect to the BEP, but for the protection of all other applicants for, and recipients of vocational rehabilitation services for the blind.
Positive measures are needed to protect the rights of blind persons, be they stand operators, sheltered workshop employees, or other clients of the Department, to join and participate in organizations of the blind and their right to criticize the department without fear of punishment, reprisal, or disadvantage therefor. Because the Department affects their lives and their livelihoods so vitally, safeguards for their rights are as imperative for the blind as are the safeguards for the rights of teachers and civil service workers, even more so, we find.
In conclusion, I wish to emphasize that the California Council of the Blind earnestly desires to cooperate with the Department, consult with it, and assist in improving all of its programs for the rehabilitation of the blind and otherwise disabled. We feel that most of the problems that exist in the rehabilitation program for the blind could be solved and that hundreds of blind persons would be rehabilitated into self-supporting jobs if an atmosphere of genuine cooperation would develop and thrive between the Council and the Department. We stand ready for this.
Back to Contents
(From ILO Panorama, November, 1965)
Private associations and government agencies have been set up the world over to assist those whom nature, accident or war has deprived of a part of their physical capacities. But charity sometimes assumes a condescending air, and between remunerated idleness and simple begging the physically handicapped often find little room for choice. More even than money, a disabled person needs a sense of his own dignity; he needs a useful place in society on which to ground confidence in himself and in the world. This is what vocational rehabilitation aims to provide.
The sight that meets the eye when one enters the umbrella factory established at Addis Ababa for the vocational rehabilitation of the disabled is not without a certain poignant beauty. It is the sight of deaf, blind and crippled people at work. Action even when imperfect has a purifying effect, and daily effort restores a lost nobility to awkward motions, weakened bodies, misshapen limbs.
First put forward by an expert of the International Labour Organization, the idea of establishing an umbrella factory to be operated solely by disabled persons was taken up by the Haile Selassie I Foundation. Together with the Fund for the Disabled and the A.mha Desta School for the Deaf, the Foundation formed the United Abilities Company -- "United" because the three agencies were cooperating in the scheme and "Abilities" because they wanted to put the accent on ability rather than disability.
The choice of umbrellas as an appropriate article to be produced by disabled workers was based on two considerations, the first being that umbrellas, although in strong demand throughout the country, were wholly imported from overseas at the cost of precious foreign currancy. The second consideration was that umbrellas could be made with relative ease by disabled workers after a short period of training.
Buildings were altered and renovated to house the new factory, and three international experts -- Macato Akabane and Naoyuki Niwano of Japan and Edgar Marl and of Wales -- undertook to plan and supervise production and to train the disabled employees. Mr. Marland and Mr. Niwano were sent by the ILO; Mr. Akabane was sent by the Japanese Government.
In September 1964, the first disabled were introduced to training and within two months a total of 27 disabled -- four blind, five deaf and 18 crippled--had become proficient in various phases of umbrella production. The entire staff of the factory including clerks and cleaners was, in fact, made up of disabled. The only able-bodied employee in the factory was Haddis Kitaw, a young Ethiopian who spent four months in Japan under a Japanese Government grant to study umbrella manufacture.
By November 1964 the training period could be considered finished and the disabled employees were placed on a full 48-hour working week.
The umbrellas produced by the factory are of good quality and are sold at reasonable prices. They are of two kinds--a man's black cotton umbrella with an imitation leather handle, and a lady's umbrella of silicone-waterproof cloth, available in eight colours, and with a variety of handles.
By the end of the second month production had reached 2,000 umbrellas a month; it has since risen to more than 12,000 a month. The number of workers now stands at 45 -- 10 blind, five deaf, 29 crippled (19 with leg disabilities, two with back disabilities, eight with arm disabilities) and one mentally retarded.
Mr. Marland (the only international expert associated with the factory since the departure of the two Japanese experts some months ago) reports that the Company hopes to expand to 200 disabled employees within a year and to manufacture all the thousands of umbrellas needed in Ethiopia annually.
According to Mr. Marland, "only lack of capital prevents this Most of the disabled employees were either beggars or welfare cases before joining the factory staff. Their wages, which increase as their output improves, have enabled them gradually to provide for themselves. In the space of a few months, their lives have been completely changed. Thus seven of the disabled employees have moved out of a municipal centre for the destitute and now live together in a house of their own.
To achieve the desired result, a number of social welfare problems had to be overcome, among them problems of housing, transport and medical care. These problems, arising outside the factory, were dealt with by the welfare officers of the sponsoring agencies.
Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia has from the start taken a keen interest in the project, which owes much to his generosity. It was he who, on the occasion of the first of his several visits to the factory, suggested that the umbrellas produced there should be sold under the brand name of "Giraffe."
The factory has also received a visit from David A. Morse, the ILO Director-General, who travelled to Addis Ababa in November 1964 in his capacity as Secretary-General of the Second African Regional Conference of the International Labour Organization. Mr. Morse was accompanied on his visit to the factory by several delegates to the Conference.
The factory has in fact aroused considerable interest among persons concerned with social and labour questions and with problems of vocational rehabilitation. And no wonder, for it is the first of its type in Ethiopia and possibly in Africa where virtually the entire staff is composed of disabled persons working under factory conditions in fully productive jobs.
The future of the United Abilities Company does not necessarily lie solely in the production of umbrellas. The possibility of producing other articles, particularly those that can be made by blind workers, is already being explored.
But the success of "Giraffe" umbrellas has already proved once again that the disabled are able to reach a high level of productivity and to ensure for themselves a reasonable standard of living. Above all, it has proved that a physical handicap does not necessarily prevent a man from taking an active part in the life of his country and from contributing to its progress.
Back to Contents
By Jacob Freid
(From Jewish Braille Review, December 1965)
We come to the end of another year and contemplate the future with both hope and fear, as over Viet Nam and humanity hovers a cloud--its shape a mushroom--and in this season of peace on earth there is no peace.
Coming closer to home, the stirrings of hope are abroad in the land, and in other lands as well. The founding of the International Federation of the Blind on the one hand and the giving up of a meal and the contribution of its cost to the IFB on the other, strike just the right note in the comradeship of the blind that knows neither race, nor religion, nor nationality as stigma or barrier to brotherhood in our common cause.
That word "stigma" is interesting, and I particularly call our readers' attention to the piece by Russell Kletzing in this issue, reprinted from the Braille Monitor. As you will see, Mr. Olshansky hits an exposed nerve when he speaks of staffs who consider their clients stigmatized -- a condition of our agencies which our blind know only too well.
How do you overcome this? At the agency which your editor directs it is a cardinal principle that a blind person is a V.I. P. He is the purpose for our existence. In our relations he is considered to be a normal person who does not see, but who has every right to a normal life that fulfills talent, personality and aspiration, and to the services, publications and materials necessary to him because of blindness that will help him achieve that fulfillment. We will not have anyone on the staff of the Jewish Braille Institute of America who in any way, by attitude or action reacts to the blind as not on a par with the sighted.
This is a standard of behavior and staff attitude to which every social welfare agency should conform -- and agencies for the blind in particular.
COMSTAC - The Commission on Standards and Accreditation held a vital national meeting recently sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind to set standards for our profession, its personnel and agencies. This is a major step forward and a crucially essential task if we are to raise the quality of our efforts in work concerning the blind. The one great difficulty I felt was the missing blind who represent the blind. While there was a sprinkling of the blind present its troops were too sparse even to cover all the meetings at the same time.
This is a Gordian knot which must be cut if we are to progress in a validly democratic fashion. Otherwise no matter how well-meaning, we are guilty of negating the self-determination of the blind to be centrally implicated in the setting of standards that so directly affect them. This may be benevolent paternalism but it is not democratic.
We would not think of staging Hamlet without including the tragic Prince of Denmark in the cast, but in decision-making in the country of the blind the central figure and our entire raison d'etre, is too often the man who isn't there.
Indeed there is a parallel situation in the new theology, which the Re constructionist magazine points out should be called "atheology" -- that is, religion without God. Among the Jews there is as yet only one atheologian. Rabbi Sherwin Wine of Birmingham, Michigan. You can no more have religion without "God" than music without harmony, literature without words, Judaism without Jews, or standards in work for the blind without the blind. Remember, there was a time when "equality" did not include women or Negros.
Agreed that the intention of the atheologians is to make religion relevant, and the intention of COMSTAC is to make work for the blind relevant, professional and high quality. Accepting this laudable intent the question still remains relevant for whom and for what? The only logical, rational answer is for the blind -- to help realize the potentiality, the aspiration, the talent of the blind person so that he may fulfill himself though he cannot see. In fostering this end the blind must be subjects not objects -- they must be directly and primarily involved in setting the dimensions of their universe, the rules and methods which determine its modus operandi, and the means and ends to try to achieve within it.
Back to Contents
By Susan Willoughby
The Iowa City Association of the Blind was organized on October 2, 1965. At our first meeting we adopted a very concise constitution, the preamble of which reads as follows:
"The cause of promoting the general well-being of all blind persons will best be served by the concerted efforts of the blind themselves. To achieve this end the Iowa City Association of the Blind is hereby formed. . ."
The officers of the organization, elected at that meeting are: Kenneth Hopkins, President; Raymond Halverson, Vice President; and Susan Willoughby, Secretary-Treasurer. The majority of our members are students at the State University of Iowa, though students from other nearby colleges and persons who are able to commute for our meetings are more than welcome. To date we have fifteen members, but at each of our meetings several other interested parties have been present.
Our organization is a study group of sorts. We have begun work on several projects, which, after they are completed, should be of interest to many blind persons. We have begun a study of those school systems in Iowa which have resource programs for blind children. We hope to determine whether they compare favorably with facilities available to the sighted youngster in the state. We will also be doing an investigation of books, particularly those used in the social sciences, which are used in the elementary and secondary schools of Iowa. As you know, many books discuss blindness in such a way that children adopt untrue stereotypes about us and our capabilities. We hope to find such books which are in use in Iowa, and then to apply pressure for their discontinuation or modification.
These are examples of the work that we intend to do as an organization of blind people. We are excited about the prospects for our organization and for all blind people throughout the nation.
Back to Contents
(From The Indianapolis Star, November 7, 1965)
Washington -- Total or partial blindness constitutes a world-wide plague, yet the potential victims have been virtually abandoned by modern medical science, a spokesman for a voluntary health organization said yesterday.
Dr. Jules C. Stein, board chairman for Research to Prevent Blindness Inc. (RPB), declared "The great and growing number of blind persons is the result of their excommunication from the benefits of the current science explosion. "
In the United States alone, he said, the problem constitutes a truly horrifying situation in which "this nation, heedlessly and needlessly, is drifting into a growing sea of blindness."
Estimates are that there are 10 million totally blind persons world-wide and about 1 million Americans totally or partially blind -- with 90 million more Americans having some kind of eye trouble.
Dr. Stein, a one-time practicing eye specialist, who helped found RPB in 1960 to increase support for research in eye diseases, made the statements in a speech prepared for the opening of a special seminar for science writers sponsored by his organization.
Declaring that visual disorders constitute America's leading cause of disability, Stein released highlights of a special Gallup Poll -- conducted for RPB -- which showed that, next to cancer, the affliction most feared by the American people is blindness.
"Despite the alarming increase in the incidence of eye diseases, ' he said, despite the public's expressed desire that our burgeoning rank of researchers turn more of their attention to this situation, and despite the fact that 80 per cent of all blindness results from diseases whose causes are unknown to science, very little is being done about it.
"Of the billions of dollars now being spent on disease-centered research, on space exploration and other scientific objectives, only about $10 million are invested each year in the attempt to find causes, preventives and controls for diseases that destroy sight."
And that $10 million for eye research, he added, "is approximately the cost of the one Agena rocket that was lost in the Atlantic ocean two weeks ago."
"For some unfathomable reason, we prefer to practice the foolish economy of laying out more than $1 billion each year to care for the blind (in the U. S.) rather than spend a small fraction of that sum to finance research leading to the prevention and cure of blinding diseases."
Back to Contents
As most workers with the blind and many of the blind themselves know, the Commission on Standards and Accreditation of Services for the Blind (COMSTAC) divided itself into 12 groups to formulate standards in various areas of work with the blind. One of the 12 committees was the Committee on Standards for Physical Facilities. The report presented by this committee at the National Conference on Standards between October 31 and November 3, 1965, was interesting chiefly because of its lack of standards involving work with the blind.
This report is primarily concerned with the physical facilities required for a complete program of service to the blind. To quote the Committee's own introduction, "Nevertheless, there is a core of physical features which is essential in all settings, regardless of services given or the individuals served. Properly identified, these may be regarded as both generic to all physical facilities and enduringly valid in the face of current and future change." This report attempts to be all things to all facilities.
Swamped by the variation in programs, attitudes and solvency of the numerous agencies for the blind of the country, this report succeeds in making sweeping generalizations on the need for complete service, the need for fostering independence of the blind, the continually changing needs of facilities to serve not only the blind but everybody, and the need for sanitation.
The attitude of the committee is the standard belief that the blind are basically helpless. Token references are made to "respect for their potentials for productive participation in society;" but this is conditioned a short time later by the standard calling for a special crosswalk or stop light for "those blind able to travel independently" on a crowded street near the facility.
One is tempted to summarize the entire set of standards by a paraphrase of the Boy Scout Law: A facility for the blind is suitable, convenient, pleasant, organized, safe, clean and there. The standards are perhaps notable chiefly in that they are so vague and minimal as to be equally applicable to office buildings, nursing homes or universities by the simple substitution of the names of these other facilities. They set forth requirements that are standard to any medium size city's basic health and safety codes, leaving any special reference to the function of a facility for the blind to such statements as: "special requirements related to visual limitations" with no definition of those requirements, no specification as to what these limitations may be.
Perhaps a brief rundown of the standards themselves would serve as the best and most complete illustration (headings theirs).
1. Overall Suitability -- The total facility is constructed to best serve the needs of the particular agency. It will adequately serve everyone concerned. It will meet the requirements of its governing body, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and the city building code. The physical facilities will be helpful to the program.
2. Location -- The Facility is located where it can easily be reached by staff, clients and others who need to use it. The facility should be close to shopping and other community interests. The location is reasonably safe, with hazards minimized.
3. Grounds -- The grounds will be large enough to allow for future expansion. They will be pleasant ("free of undue nuisances and hazards"), with parking areas and roadways. Signs will be posted to help people locate the proper areas.
4. Activity Area -- The layout of the facility will be efficient. The facility will be designed for the planned activities, will be large enough and well organized (reception rooms next to entries, work areas together, etc.), Sufficient maintenance will be provided for.
5. Privacy -- People will have as much privacy as individual cases call for. Confidentiality will be maintained.
6. Health and Safety -- The health and safety codes of the community will be met. Sufficient heat and light will be provided. Sanitary conditions will be as good as possible. Suitable entries will be provided for wheelchairs, etc. Safety features will be related to the level of competence of the occupants, the activities undertaken and the equipment used. Adequate first aid facilities are provided,
7. Fire and Disaster Protection -- All buildings will be so designed and equipped as to minimize the danger of fire. The buildings will be inspected by local authorities and/or independent authorities and records of inspection kept. Smoking areas are clearly specified. Proper protection shall be provided the occupants of the facility to minimize danger should fire or disaster occur. Suitable fire extingishers will be provided Fire alarms will be installed as to be heard through-out the facility. Fire drills will be held irregularly Special provision will be made for fire warnings to deaf-blind.
8. Maintenance -- "The condition of the physical facility gives evidence of planful and effective maintenance and housekeeping,"
9. Remodeling -- When remodeling is undertaken, it should be to best suit the needs of the program.
The preceding is an inclusive summary! One can imagine the breadth of interpretation that can result from application of these standards. One can also imagine the range of individual whim and axe-grinding, not to say blackmail and favoritism, that can enter into the proposed accreditation of Agencies for the Blind based on such vague and capricious requirements. The danger to be constantly anticipated is the possibility of varying application of standards to friends and foes when "accrediting" agencies. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the Committee on Standards for Physical Facilities is the gathering, at the rear of the report, of a three page bibliography of information and sources available to architects and planners.
One is tempted to dismiss this entire report of "Standards for Physical Facilities" with the single word, "Blah!" But more intensive study indicates otherwise. Tucked away among the platitudes and the generalities are the age-old misconceptions and stereotypes.
What, for instance, is meant by the requirement that a facility for the blind be located near to shopping and other community interests, and that it be in a location reasonably safe, with hazards minimized? The exact words of the committee are "Where undue hazards cannot be avoided, proper measures are instituted to assure the safety of all persons coming to the agency (For example, where an agency is on a street with heavy traffic, a light, or crosswalk or other means is available for safe crossing by blind persons.)."
If this standard is simply meant to express the general pious platitude that everybody ought to be as safe as possible, then what a farcical and pathetic waste of time and money to assemble a committee to spell out what everybody already knows. On the other hand, if the standard means to imply that the blind are not able to live and compete among the ordinary hazards of the regular workaday world and that they need more shelter and care than others, the implications are not only false but they are insidiously vicious.
Of a similar character is the committee's statement that the grounds must "provide pleasant and appropriate surroundings, and be free of undue nuisances and hazards. " Surely we do not need a special commission on Standards and Accreditation to tell us that people should live in pleasant surroundings that are free of undue hazards, if this is all that is meant. If, however, the committee is saying that the blind require surroundings that are more "pleasant" and "free from hazards" than the surroundings required by other people, one cannot help but be unhappily reminded of the 19th Century concept that the blind should be entertained and provided with recreation, that they should be helped in every way possible to "live with their misfortune."
If this type of analysis seems blunt, one can only reply that this is no time for nice words and mousey phrases. The Commission on Standards and its various committees hold themselves out to the public at large as the qualified experts, the people who have the right to make standards and grant or refuse accreditation to all and sundry. These are not children indulging in the innocent games of childhood. They are adults, playing with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. One can only repeat that the Standards for Physical Facilities would seem, in some of their aspects, to be burdened down with all of the ancient misconceptions and myths which have through all of the centuries bedeviled the path of the blind and that in the remainder they are astoundingly insipid and meaningless.
Back to Contents
(From The Springfield Union, November 12, 1965)
Bowling Green, O. -- Jackie Cummings operates a computer by braille.
Her part-time job at Bowling Green State University's computer center consists of programming instructions for computers. She does it by writing the computer programs in braille. Then she key punches them from it.
To check if her work is correct the young housewife has a program card that translates the computer's alphabetic information back into braille.
Jackie says she has few problems with her job. But one she had to tackle when she went to work was learning her way around the center. Several times she got off on the wrong floor A hand-sized light probe helps solve some of the mechanical problems. Because computers give many instructions with lights, Jackie uses the probe to convert light waves into buzzing sounds. This way she knows if the lights are on or off.
Computers are not her only specialty. She runs a card sorter, key punch machine and a variety of accounting devices.
"Jackie won the job over other applicants because of her training, and after only a few days of office orientation she began working as efficiently as other employees," says Richard C. Neumann, center director.
She took extensive training at the University of Cincinnati's Medical Computer Center before she got the job at Bowling Green.
Jackie says she likes the extra money that helps at home because her husband, James, a full-time university student, is blind too. He lost his sight when he was 13.
Back to Contents
By Bernard Bard
(From New York Post, December 13, 1965)
Fitted with a hearing aid, a young deaf child can enjoy a siren from a toy fire engine, follow the music of a little carousel and hear a teacher's voice.
The Board of Education sends two specially trained teachers to four clinics to administer instruction to 34 deaf or hard-of-hearing children from 1 to 3 years old. An additional 15 are on waiting lists, and there are estimates that hundreds more could be helped if the program could be expanded.
Parents of children at the clinics, located at Kings County, Bellevue and Jacobs Hospital and Hunter College, will go to City Hall today to ask the City Planning Commission to approve Board of Education requests for two more teachers.
John D. Harrington, principal of the School for the Deaf at PS 158, 1458 York Avenue, has asked for a doubling of the Infant Auditory Training Program staff for the past several years, but each time the request has been cut from the budget.
"If you start with a child at 1, you can familiarize him with language and introduce him to noises in a structured way," says Mrs. Eric P. Kane, of 1115 Willmohr Street, Brooklyn, mother of a 15-month-old in the program.
"But if you wait until he's 3 or 4, you may not be successful at all because for all these years he's managed to get what he wants through other means than talking, with his hands or by gestures."
In the program, the infant is fitted with an aid and then the teacher talks to him while using manipulative toys such as rings and pegs, animals that walk down an inclined plane, animals that squeak, and records.
"He hears people say words and begins to imitate and to speak more correctly than if not attuned to sound," says Harrington. "A baby first listens before he looks. Therefore lip-reading is not appropriate for these infants."
Back to Contents
The Nation's public assistance programs received significant boosts in benefits from the Federal Government starting January 1, 1966.
Dr. Ellen Winston, U.S. Commissioner of Welfare, said that three key features of the 1965 Amendments to the Social Security Act took effect on the first of the year.
A new public welfare medical care program (Title XIX of the Social Security Act) was available to States, seven of whom indicated plans to start January 1.
Increased Federal sharing in the public assistance programs for the aged, blind, disabled, and families with needy children will send an additional $150 million per year to the States.
Federal financial sharing began in public assistance payments for persons in mental and tuberculosis institutions.
Beginning a new public welfare medical care program on January 1 are Illinois, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico. This new program extends the Kerr Mills medical assistance for the aged program to other public assistance recipients -- the aged, blind, disabled, and families with needy children -- encourages expansion of services to other medically needy groups, and makes a number of administrative improvements.
"Under the new Title XIX medical care program. States will be able to provide better, broader, and more equitable medical care services for all the medically needy of the State," Dr. Winston said. "States also will receive more Federal matching funds under the new program, amounting to an estimated $238 million per year."
The increased Federal share of the Federal-State public assistance grants will result in more funds for the various programs of aid to needy people to meet their basic costs of living -- food, shelter, and clothing. The Welfare Administration reports that some States plan to pass this new benefit on directly to the recipients in the form of larger monthly assistance grants. Other States will use the new funds to improve their programs by providing better services, more staff, or improved facilities.
Funds totalling $75 million per year after January 1 will be available to States to pay the Federal share of the cost of public assistance for patients in mental or tuberculosis institutions. Previously, Federal sharing in these expenses was prohibited by law. The new money will be conditioned upon States providing high-standard care plus attention to returning patients from the institutions to their home communities whenever feasible.
Back to Contents
(From the Los Angeles Times, December 26, 1965)
New York -- There was a time, Robert Smithdas says, when he would have felt he alone deserved to be named "Handicapped American of the Year."
Saturday he was singled out for that honor by the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, and the choice left him embarrassed.
"You know, 10 years ago I would have felt I was the one person in the world who deserved this honor," said the deaf and blind 40-year-old social agency executive.
"But not so today -- I realize so much that has yet to be done in the field of the handicapped that today I'm completely humbled by the award," he said.
The President's Committee found much in the accomplishments of Smithdas to rate him as "the person who surmounted his or her handicap to become a useful citizen and has helped to encourage, inspire or facilitate employment of other handicapped persons.
Among other things, Smithdas ranks with the famous Helen Keller in the field of academic achievement. Both have earned college degrees -- Smithdas a bachelor of arts and a masters degree in education -- despite their physical handicaps.
A native of Pittsburgh Smithdas was stricken with meningitis at the age of 5. The disease left him blind; he lost his hearing two years later.
With the deterioration of those two senses, his power of speech soon disappeared.
Since then Smithdas has learned to speak well enough to give lectures on the needs of the handicapped and has risen from a patient to a top executive in the Industrial Home for the Blind in Brooklyn.
He currently is director of the agency's deaf-blind program which now has 60 persons on its rehabilitation program rolls.
A bachelor, Smithdas maintains a highly active daily routine with the aid of a sighted male secretary companion. He has a gift for improvising devices to make his life simpler.
One such device is a fan system designed to alert him to the ring of his apartment doorbell or telephone.
Both instruments are so rigged that when either rings, it sets an electric fan spinning. The breeze from the fan alerts Smithdas to a caller.
If it is the telephone, he tells the caller he can't hear and instructs the caller to tap out any message he might have in Morse Code on the telephone mouthpiece.
If the caller knows the code, he taps out a message, Smithdas gets it by feeling the vibrations on a special disc attached to the telephone and then answers by voice.
New York Telephone Co. engineers are designing a special vibration device which will enable Smithdas and others like him to sense through feel a caller at their door or on their telephone.
Smithdas tucks a special alarm clock under his pillow at night and the vibration of the alarm awakens him in the morning. "He hasn't been late for work one day in the last 10 years," says Peter J. Salmon, executive director of the Industrial Home for the Blind.
Salmon feels Smithdas' sense of humor played a major role in his overcoming handicaps.
"One day recently someone in the office noticed that he was wearing one brown and one green sock," Salmon said. "They told him about it and he was quick to reply: 'Isn't that funny -- I have another pair just like this at home.
During his years or undergraduate work at St. John's University and graduate work at New York University, a sighted companion was assigned to him under funds provided by the federal government.
"He burned the midnight oil plenty in order to keep up with his studies and graduate magna cum laude from St. John's--no mean feat even for a person who can see and hear, " Salmon said.
Like Helen Keller and others so afflicted, he communicates with others by the manual alphabet -- a system whereby words are transmitted through touch.
"If a person who does not know the method wants to talk with him all he has to do is inscribe letters with his fingers on Smithdas' palm and he gets the message," said Salmon.
Over the years Smithdas has composed poetry, much of which has been published in national magazines. A book of his collected poems will be published next year. In 1958, his autobiography was published by Doubleday and Co., entitled "Life at My Fingertips."
"His winning the award is the greatest Christmas present our organization could ever get," Salmon said. "It not only means that this extremely rare man has been recognized for what he has done but it also means more doors will be opened to the handicapped in the future."
Smithdas said he hopes to meet President Johnson when the award is presented to him April 28 at a dinner in Washington.
Back to Contents
By Isabelle L. D. Grant
With "Progress and Prospects of Blind Teachers in the Profession" as the theme, seventy-five educators, blind and sighted, met in Pepperdine College, Los Angeles, California on December 4th, 1965 for a one day seminar. Discussions were lively, constructive and forthright with full participation from the audience. Mr. Arturo Baca, teacher, San Rafael, Calif., chaired the conference, while Mr. Jack Swanson, teacher. Intermediate School, Hawthorne, Calif., was general manager.
The invocation and address of welcome were delivered by Dr. Don Gradner, Vice President, Pepperdine College, who referred to the fine record in teaching at present being made by several graduates of Pepperdine, who were blind. Dr. Isabelle Grant, in her keynote address, called attention to the progress in the State of California, there being now fifty four blind teachers in the public schools, teaching either regular classes or resource classes. The findings of the Grunsky Report bore evidence of the outstanding work being performed by these teachers. Progress was, however, not undiluted, for prejudice, conservatism, and suspicion still stalked both suburban and metropolitan boards of education when forward-looking programs like O.E.O., Headstart, NDEA were challenging the imagination and educational know-how of the nation. Outlining the history of the movement in California she called for a national '13125', the bill sponsored by the California Council of the Blind which banned discrimination against the blind teacher in California in the areas of college entrance, practice teaching, and job application.
With NFB President Russell Kletzing as moderator, a panel consisting of representatives of local teacher training institutions, teacher organizations and personnel departments, evoked spirited debate with not infrequent difference of opinion, as a result of personal experience on the part of blind teachers, during the question period which followed the panel presentations.
Dr. Homer Hurst, dean of the School of Education, Whittier College, Whittier, California expressed due pride in the accomplishment of several blind teachers, graduates of Whittier College. Dr. Liv Eklund, Professor of Education, University of California, Los Angeles Campus, discussed the difficulties of placement of the blind teacher in practice teaching situations and problems in classroom management due to blindness. Mr. Frank O. Mclntyre, Director, Office of Public Relations, California Teachers Association, Southern Section, Los Angeles, made a very positive statement on the point that visual acuity was not the measure of good teaching, but training, abilities and personality were essential factors in the teacher, blind or sighted. Dr. Ross Hancock, Training Consultant, Personnel Division, Los Angeles City Schools, spoke of the present policy of the Los Angeles city schools in placing handicapped teachers on restricted assignments, for example, remedial reading where class enrollment would be limited to five or ten pupils, this on the assumption that blindness connoted incapacity to handle discipline. Very searching and relevant questions were put to the members of the panel by the many blind teachers and teachers-in-training eliciting reconsideration of some present policies and opinions.
"The Teacher on the Job" was the topic assigned to a quartette of young blind teachers, moderated by Miss Alice Samaniego, teacher, Temple City High School, Temple City, California, Miss Mari Bull, teacher, Claremont High School, Mr. Ralph Day, teacher, MariCosta High School, Manhattan Beach, California, and Mrs. Rose Reed, teacher. Fair Avenue Elementary School, North Hollywood, supported their presentations with highly revealing experiences in pupil, faculty and community relationships. To these four young teachers, all of them blind, discipline, classroom management, administrative and extra-curricular assignments were a challenge to their imagination and ability, with results that made of each of them a good teacher -- happy and successful.
The afternoon panel, "Overseas Prospects" stirred the interests of the assembly, pointing to possibilites beyond the walls of the home classroom. Miss Ruth Stewart, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria analyzed procedures for entering the Peace Corps, and the rich experience to be drawn from such a period of service. Dr. Grant enumerated blind students at present teaching abroad with first hand reports from these teachers. Mr. Arturo Baca excited the group by his vivid recounting of the Amigos Anonimos project, in which he and Mrs. Baca, together with students from the University of California at Berkeley, have been active during the last three summer vacations. Art's blindness was no deterrent to active leadership of the project, which was centered in a small village outside Mexico City, Mexico.
A fitting climax to an already satisfying day was the talk by Miss Clarice Manshardt, Professor of Education, California State College at Los Angeles, on "Progress and Prospects in Teacher Preparation and Training." Firmly convinced that blindness did not make or mar a good teacher, Miss Manshardt interpreted to the group the characteristics of any good teacher, placing love of and respect for children at the top of the list. Miss Manshardt, who was in a wheel chair as a result of an automobile accident, was most refreshing in her genuine understanding of human beings and in teachers in particular.
Mr. Jack Swanson concluded the sessions with appropriate thanks and called on Mrs. Onvia Tillinghast for a short preview of the next conference to be held in northern California a year hence.
Proceedings of the seminar will be compiled and distributed nation-wide, to personnel directors, national teacher organizations, rehabilitation officers, and blind teachers throughout the country. Copies of the report may be obtained from Dr. I. L. D. Grant, 851 W. 40th Place, Los Angeles, California, 90037, or from Mrs. Onvia Tillinghast, 63 Button Avenue, San Leandro, California, after mid January, 1966.
Back to Contents
By Ken McKenna
(From The Miami Herald, November 28, 1965)
[Editor's Note: For Dr. Greenberg's background and his views on blindness and the need for organized activity among the blind see the story elsewhere in the last issue entitled The Role of the Current Revolution -- The Blind as Another Minority]
New York -- All right everybody, are you happy in your work?
If the answer is no, there is little need t o feel lonely. You are merely one of the tens of thousands who number among the mis-employed--men and women working at jobs for which they are completely unsuited.
So runs the theory of Dr. Herbert Greenberg, a psychologist whose specialty is spotting and relocating industry's misplaced individuals.
"We know from our experience in testing more than 28,000 salesmen and managers that amazingly few people do the kinds of work they could perform with most productivity and personal reward."
As president of Marketing Survey & Research Corp., he and his staff have encountered more miserable employees than there were sad investors the last time the market dropped.
In one company, he found an accountant who was constantly losing his temper and hitting a fellow worker. A test showed that, though he was a competent accountant, his temperament did not react well to an office atmosphere. He was made a salesman and hasn't landed a blow since.
In its 28,000 tests run over several years, the research concern concluded that more than 50 per cent of the employed salesmen involved would not be recommended for the job if they were applying for a job today.
This non-productive half was just not suited to their jobs, he commented. One survey of a 1,000-man sales force in the U. S., Canada and England yielded the information that 80 per cent of the company's volume came from 20 per cent of its personnel. Reversed, that meant that 800 of the 1,000 salesmen produced only 20 per cent of its volume.
"Everyone has his ability but the question is where. No one is a dud in everything," Greenberg believes.
He recalled the time a Detroit automobile manufacturer paid a series of personnel tests among the salesmen of a Georgia dealer. One man copped an unusual "A" rating but a marketing survey official got only laughs when he called in the report to Georgia.
It seemed that the dealer, evidently not thinking too much of the tests, gave one to a casual drifter who was hanging around the showroom in torn tennis shoes, a polo shirt and sporting a three-day beard. "He didn't even smell good," the dealer said. But he took a top rating.
The research official advised him to clean the man up and hire him. The psychologist was not surprised when the stranger quickly became a star.
Job troubles for many individuals begin early, often with the first job, A youth graduates from high school, answers a want ad and lands his first pay check. The idea was to find work, not what the work involved.
The years pass, and he gets a few raises and a chance at a pension plan. The job is adequate and it becomes difficult to make the break, to gamble when family responsibilities surround him. He's trapped.
"With college graduates, maybe it's even worse," Greenberg asserted. "If he's a liberal arts graduate, what has he got. He's nothing. At least, if he goes on to a master's degree he has a specialty, and he has made a choice self-consciously to prepare himself for an occupation. A BA doesn't know what to do, and might end up anywhere."
Greenberg has another kind of test that anyone can administer. Look at the faces in the commuter trains some morning or evening. Study them, and make a count of how many people seem genuinely glad to be going to work.
"Here they are spending 50 hours a week, with travel, three fourths of their lives. What a waste," he said.
The psychologist called for "a rethinking of traditional approaches to matching people with occupations." On one hand, he said, "it is incumbent upon each individual to think through his own vocation and determine whether or not this kind of work is really right for him. On the other, business and industry must go beyond the fallacies of accepting or rejecting job applicants on the mere basis of time-honored superficial reasons."
Back to Contents
"Social security benefits in 1965 amounted to a record $18.3 billion, $2. 1 billion more than the year before," Robert M. Ball, Commissioner of Social Security, reported today.
"The main reason for the jump was the 7 percent increase in benefits, enacted in July but retroactive to January 1965," he said. The benefit increase accounted for $1.2 billion of the additional $2.1 billion paid out in 1965.
On September 15, retroactive checks totalling $885 million were mailed to the 20 million social security beneficiaries then on the rolls. Other major amendments made 1,112,000 persons newly eligible for benefits and added a program of health insurance for people 65 or over which will go into effect beginning July 1, 1966.
Among those made newly eligible for social security cash benefits were 295,000 children of retired, disabled, or deceased workers, who can now be paid benefits until 22 while attending school. This change in the law, Ball said, was also retroactive to January, 1965.
Under other changes, effective September 1, 1965, reduced benefits were made available to 185,000 widows aged 60 to 62; special benefits were provided to disabled workers whose disabilities have lasted or are expected to last at least 12 months, rather than indefinitely, as provided in previous law.
September 1 was also the opening date for application for Medicare, Ball noted.
Informing the Public About Medicare
Through direct mailing to people 65 or over on the social security, railroad retirement, and Federal civil service retirement rolls, and to those who have social security numbers but have not yet applied for benefits, the Social Security Administration is getting information into the hands of over 17 million of the 19 million older people who will be eligible for Medicare benefits when the program goes into effect next July. Another 1 million -- those receiving old-age assistance -- will be reached through local welfare agencies.
To reach the remaining 600,000 people who cannot be informed by these means, special projects are being undertaken, such as neighborhood meetings sponsored by the Office of Economic Opportunity cooperative projects with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the AFL-CIO, and with senior citizens groups, and the preparation of informational materials in 22 foreign languages.
Those now 65 or older have only until March 31 to sign up for the medical insurance part of the program if they want to be protected when the program begins July 1.
You Get More -- You Pay More
To finance the changes in the program, Ball continued, the schedule of tax contributions in the law is increased effective January 1st. The rate for employees and employers is increased from 3-5/8 percent to 4.2 percent each, and from 5.4 percent to 6.15 percent for self-employed people. The new rate includes a separate contribution for hospital insurance under Medicare, and will apply to the first $6,600 of annual earnings (up from $4,800).
The hospital insurance contribution is the same for employees, employers, and self-employed people: .35 percent (or 35 cents out of each $100.) These rates will increase gradually until 1987, when the total contribution rate will reach 5.65 percent for employees and employers and 7.8 percent for self-employed people.
The highest amount of earnings which is subject to taxes and can be counted for benefits under the social security program goes up from $4,800 a year to $6,600 starting 1966. This new $6,600 amount means that although in the future people will make larger contributions, they will also get much larger benefits than are payable now. These increased amounts will go into effect rather quickly for disability and survivor beneficiaries; more gradually for retirement beneficiaries. A worker who retires at age 65 in 1970 with earnings of $6,600 a year will get a benefit of about $143 a month -- about $215 a month for a couple. Ultimately with $6,600 a year counted toward benefits, the maximum benefit will be $168 a month -- or about $252 a couple. This larger amount is in addition to paid-up hospital insurance under medicare.
Mr. Ball pointed out that the voluntary supplementary medical insurance provided as part of Medicare will not be financed by payroll contributions. People over 65 who enroll in the plan will pay a monthly premium ($3 in 1966 and 1967) which will be matched by the Federal Government. The premiums will not be due until the medical insurance coverage begins.
"Two important coverage changes go into effect on January 1st, too, " Ball continued. "Starting with that date, income from tips and the earnings of self-employed physicians will count toward social security benefits. The first of these changes means that such workers as waiters, cab drivers, and beauticians will get higher social security benefits when they retire or if they become disabled, and their families will get more each month if they should die. The coverage of physicians' earnings means that now they and their families have the same basic protection other working Americans have."
Another provision, effective January 1st, is the increase in the amount a social security beneficiary may earn and still receive all of his benefits for the year. Beginning in 1966, the amount that a person may earn without losing any benefits for the year is increased from $1,200 to $1,500. Also, the law now provides for withholding $1 in benefits for each $2 in earnings above $1,500 and up to $2,700, and for withholding $1 in benefits for each $1 in earnings above $2,700, Previously, the $1 for $2 adjustment applied between $1,200 and $1,700, and the $1 for $1 adjustment applied on earnings above $1,700.
Back to Contents
By John Nagle
"It's not enough to just read a book," declared Mrs. Carol Fales, President of Maryland Association for the Visually Handicapped. "If you like a book, you want to talk about it with someone else who has read it. If you don't like a book -- why, you want to talk about it with someone even more."
And because President Fales believed this, and because she acted upon her belief, two groups of a dozen blind men and women each meet monthly to discuss books.
A particular title is selected for each meeting, and the only restriction upon choice is that it be available in braille, on Talking Book records or on tape.
The blind book "discussers" meet in the room specially set apart for the use of the blind and partially sighted in the Davis Memorial Library, Bethesda, Maryland.
Originally, there was only one group that met monthly to talk about books, but it soon was apparent that some members preferred weighty subjects, while others preferred the lighter variety.
So, two groups now meet once a month and talk about books -- style, content, characters -- and often times, excited discussion will develop on matters suggested by a book, but far beyond the author's remotest imaginings.
Titles recently considered were George Orwell's "Animal Farm", Saul Bellows' "Hertzog", and Morris West's "The Ambassador".
As for coming events -- Congressman Richard Boiling, Missouri, has agreed to attend the January meeting of one of the groups to discuss his book "A House Out of Order", and Mrs. Ellen Proxmire, wife of the Senior Senator from Wisconsin, will be at a March meeting to talk about her book, "One Foot in Washington".
Both of the "Talking Book" groups -- as they describe themselves -- are ably and enthusiastically led by Mrs. Ellen Drucker, blind, who scurries around and hounds regional librarians in the Washington, D. C. area, to make sure that each member of each group has a braille or recorded copy of the book to be discussed at each meeting -- and as the groups grow in numbers, so do Ellen's challenging difficulties increase proportionately.
Transportation is provided by sighted members of the Maryland Association for the Visually Handicapped, sponsor of the book discussion meeting -- and some who have come as drivers have remained as book "discussers".
"For after all, " asserts Mrs. Fales, "the joy of sharing a book is not measured by visual acuity!"
Back to Contents
By Howard Porter
(17 Years of Seniority in the Los Angeles Facility of C.I.B.)
"The show is over," By 3 P.M. Tuesday, November 23 last, this five syllable refrain was being bandied all around the work shop on Santee Street in Los Angeles. For several of the workers in the plant on this day, lack of materials, loss, delay or cancellation of orders were forgotten.
To wit; staple brush machines were in temporary operation; the mop crew had been called up from the drapery department where they had been on leave to work on some pieces of extra yarn; the mattress department was in fairly full swing; the drapery and sewing departments were in regular full production.
No worker was aware that State Legislators were among the several out-of-town visitors. No worker was questioned or even spoken to by a single visitor. Yet this open house tour was officially known as "an impressive success". Shades of Rasputin's chaperoning of Catherine the Great down the river Volga. History records the fate of the great Russian Empire. And history may not require a five-quarter century to reckon with this great bureaucratic empire mushrooming across this nation.
Let us do a retake of this tour through this same Plant. Let this tour be in the form of a word's-eye-view picture--a picture a bit more realistic but not at all distorted nor unduly slanted. Let us start on the sixth floor. Here the Tuesday visitors saw two staple brush machines in operation. As soon as the delegation passed on, one of those machines processing floor brushes was shut down until December 7. Palmyra Fibre, used in the manufacture of street brooms, had not been in stock for some two months. This is not an isolated instance of shortage of materials.
Come along next to the hand-drawn brush line. For some eight years the hand-drawn product has been one of the most consistent items in the factory. Then almost abruptly this type brush has dropped in production from over 150 per day to less than 100 with no prospect of its revival. Is this due to a changing, waning market or to a want of sales promotion? Now, proceeding along still on the sixth floor, the Tuesday visitors saw a full crew stationed in the mop section. By 3. P.M. that crew was sent back down to the drapery department to resume trimming a backlog of materials. Again this slow mop production was due to lack of materials--yarn, bolts and other hardware. While one type of mop is being discontinued, another type is being introduced. Piece rates in the staple made brush are well above the minimum wage; but this was the operation that was proudly exhibited to the legislators. However, it was not pointed out that as soon as the show was over, these workers would be transferred to the less remunerative operations of the hand-drawn brush and mops.
A new type of pillow covering is being brought in as a substitute for workers in the mop line. There are two sewings and a turning of these pillow covers which pays 2-1/4 cents for all three operations. If a daily production of 500 can be reached, it can readily be seen that 2-1/4 times 500 will fall short of a desirable wage when divided among at least three workers. Here, as with many other items throughout the shop, wage adjustments and wage increases are long overdue.
Now we drop down to the fifth floor where draperies are being made. Here there is a full contingent of employees. Draperies is the pet project of management and staff. It has been touted by management as a project of great promise. Yet in the year and a half since its introduction, this department has experienced a very large turnover of workers. Its failure has been due to bungling and to gross mismanagement primarily due to poor hiring practices. The supervisors of sewing and drapery departments have been interchanged and this may make for improvement. Again, time studies and piece rates are in order. Their goal is 1,000 drapes a day which was met once, but there is too great a fluctuation here.
Down next to the fourth floor where the Tuesday delegation saw mattresses in full production. This is the best paying business in the entire shop--that is, when there is work. Yet the mattress workers draw more unemployment funds than any other department in this center.
The next was and will be the third floor. The thirty-foot-long tables, the many sewing machines, the stacks of pillow cases, ironing board covers, dish cloths, and towels must have indeed been an impressive sight to the Tuesday visitors. Some of the piece rates in this department are well under the minimum wage rates. One such operation is the folding of pillow cases which are tied in bundles of one dozen each, forced into a rather small poly bag and then sealed. All are paid at 94 cents per 100. The fastest worker cannot complete the 100 in one hour. Larger poly bags would greatly facilitate this otherwise arduous task.
So much for the two tours, the one physical, the other verbal. The scant attendance of the Interim Committee at this performance testifies eloquently to the vindication of the suspicion that the show was a staged performance, designed by the Department to conceal the wretched state of affairs at the shop.
The true record of accounts and of production are not to be found on office desk tops. Such records can be found only in desk drawers or in cabinet files. It is possible that the tour fooled some committee members but most of them stayed away, no doubt, because they knew well the deception that such tours perpetrate and let it be known to the world at large and especially to the taxpayers of California that the C.I.B. show in Los Angeles was phony.
Let us speak briefly of attitudes -- attitudes of some members of management and general staff toward the workers of C.I.B. These attitudes could apply to some legislators and to a large sector of the public. Thus in 1959 the California legislature enacted provisions which declared that C.I.B. workers were henceforth not classed as wards of the state, but were in fact employees of the state entitled to the privileges of social security and unemployment insurance. Yet just two weeks ago the Board of the Blind Workers Guild was told that in some respects the workers are considered to be inmates since C.I.B. is an institution. Some ten years ago an agreement between management and Guild members was set up providing for seniority rights. Yet we are told that this agreement has little or no meaning. A girl mentioned to management that her work area was so cluttered that she could not move from one location to another a few feet distant. She was advised that if she did not like it, she was at liberty to go home. A worker snipped off the end of a finger on a cutter. After his second visit to the doctor he was refused further transportation assistance even though the week's rain held up taxicabs and his appointment had to be cancelled. A common practice in state employment would dictate flexibility in such a situation. This blind workers was not accorded the consideration that the Civil Service workers receive even for trivial mishaps.
We cannot say that the management is inclined to be callous or harsh but it is most definitely disinclined to help the workers advance and it is especially loath to consult with the workers; to strive for better working conditions, and to uphold the dignity of the men and women who labor at the shop.
During the past year one shop worker has been placed in private industry. It is claimed that he falls within the classification of "industrially blind" but yet he can see well enough to drive an automobile. What a deception it is for the Department to claim his employment as the rehabilitation of a blind person.
It is only reasonable that the Department of Rehabilitation, if only in its own interests, would like to show tangible improvements in all its vast domain. With the prodding help of the organized blind and with the good judgment of state legislators, this may hopefully come to pass.
Back to Contents
By Martin Weil
(From Washington Post, January 3, 1966)
The Library of Congress is trying to squeeze more words per minute onto its "talking books," the records it sends to the blind.
Blind students and professional people have become increasingly impatient with the present records, which talk no faster than 160 words per minute, the rate of normal speech.
They have been petitioning the Library for something to help them match the 300 word per minute reading rate of many sighted people.
The simplest way to get more words across per minute would seem to be speeding up the phonograph. But, as one Library official says, "try it and out comes Donald Duck."
So the Library has turned to "compressed speech," an electronic technique for taking words spoken at a normal rate, and putting them onto a record at a higher rate.
The Library still supplies books in Braille, the old standby for blind readers.
Braille though, is too slow. Even after long practice it is hard to read more than 90 Braille words per minute, and the talking books have become more popular.
Using compressed speech, 700 words per minute could be crammed onto a record.
But understanding words spoken at this rate would require special training and possibly special aptitude, says Robert S. Bray, chief of the Library's blind division.
So trials are being made at a more modest and easily comprehended 250 words per minute.
According to Charles Gallozzi, assistant chief of the division, tests at this rate have evoked favorable response from blind listeners.
Speech compressed and recorded at 250 words per minute is easy to understand, but seemingly tense and breathless. As Gallozzi said, "It's not for poetry, it's for textbooks mainly."
Compressed speech is now being developed in several communications research laboratories. One of the compression techniques involves making a rapid sampling of speech sounds rather than a complete transcription.
The sampling captures enough salient characteristics of each spoken vowel and consonant to make all the spoken words recognizable. But it eliminates the speech noises that, being unnecessary for comprehension, only waste time.
Thus, although the speaker talks at his normal unhurried pace, on the final record his words contain only essential sounds, and so are packed into a shorter time interval than he actually uses.
Phonographs and records are supplied free to the Library's approximately 84,000 talking book users. So are Braille books to the Library's 13,000 blind borrowers.
The talking books, pressed onto permanent records, are relatively expensive to produce, and so require the services of professional readers.
Being less expensive, tapes can be entrusted to amateur readers. But not. Library officials emphasize, to just any amateur. About 85 per cent are rejected for being too monotonous.
Back to Contents
By James J. Fisher
(From The Kansas City Times, December 2, 1965)
Ben Blagg is a young man of 22 whose voice can be heard between 10 o'clock in the morning and 6 o'clock at night over radio station KAL 736.
Not many persons listen to KAL 736. That is the transmission station of the Riverside police department.
And not many except the 19 regular and reserve police officers of the city know that Ben Blagg, the link on his shift between the report of any offense and the sending of a police officer to handle it, is blind,
Blagg has been blind since birth. He perceives light and dark, that is all. His retinas and optical nerves are damaged.
"We hired him over two sighted applicants for the job as dispatcher," said Douglas Seneker, Riverside chief of police. "One reason was that when I interviewed him, I forgot that he was blind. I'd like to have 10 more like him."
On his own, Blagg, classified a civilian employee, has gone through a police familiarization course. Off-duty officers read to him so he could learn the reading material of the course. The lectures were no problem.
Other officers have taken Blagg to the police pistol range.
"He hits the target when you tell him where it is," Seneker said. "And watch out if there is a sound out by the target. He's right on those sounds."
No special equipment has been provided Blagg. He brings a Braille note -taking device and typewriter to work with him. If he needs to leave a message, he writes it on a conventional typewriter.
"I've had no problems," Blagg said. "There are two other dispatchers and I use the same equipment they do."
Blagg, who lives at 6260 Ann Street, Wyandotte County, is a graduate of the Emporia State college. He majored in broadcasting. He was hired in July.
Does he like his work?
"I love it," he said. "With the calls, the people we get in here, and the people I'm around all day, well, it's like a course in applied sociology."
Seneker said he has one problem, Blagg has expressed an interest to ride one of the department's motorcycles.
"That would be going a little too far," Seneker said,
Blagg said he would still like to ride one of the machines.
'It's the challenge," he said.
Back to Contents
The Commission on Standards and Accreditation of Services for the Blind, known as COMSTAC, came into being in 1963 at the instigation of the American Foundation for the Blind. COMSTAC established twelve committees to study different areas in work for the blind and to develop sets of standards which could be applied to programs for the blind on a national basis through a system of accreditation. The preliminary draft report of one of the twelve committees -- the Committee on Standards for Orientation and Mobility Services -- is the subject of this review.
The intent of this Committee's report is avowed to be the establishment of standards to which the agencies for the blind can repair in furthering the development of travel training programs. The result of the report is clearly disappointing to those who have taken part in the development of some of the existing programs which already go far beyond the proposed standards, and, indeed, have developed a much more positive approach.
The direction taken in the report is essentially regressive The tone of the report is permeated by explicit and implicit references to an age-old concept that the blind man is, after all, part of the sighted man's burden. That his lot, after all, is limited. That his condition should be ameliorated for him, not by him. The direction and tone of the report are readily recognizable in the standards themselves, and are further established by the Committee's choice of terminology and by the very structure of the report itself.
The Janus-faced nature this report presents is made instantly noticeable. The introduction states: "When an individual loses sight, he loses, among other things, the ability to move safely from one place to another." The positive qualities of this statement are startling only by their absence. One wonders how conducive to making progress in travel programs this approach can be. Aside from its unfortunate connotations, this statement is not literally true. A blind person does not lose ability to move safely. That is still present -- all he needs is to develop alternative techniques to procure the information he formerly obtained by visual means.
The introductory portion of the report also has some comments about dog guide programs that are worthy of note. For instance, it is stated that: "The basic objectives of both cane and dog mobility programs are the same." From, there the Committee goes on to list what are probably considered to be rather inconsequential differences between the two, including that "there is a surplus of facilities for dog guide programs" while there are not sufficient cane programs. Unfortunately, there is no explanation given for the existence of the surplus, and neither is there any suggestion as to how this surplus could be put to use to fill the existing inadequacies of travel programs.
However, what is of most importance is that the Committee does introduce the idea that cane travel and dog guide programs really are going the same way albeit by slightly different roads. Then, in almost the next breath, the Committee begins to do an about face by stating: "A special consideration in writing standards for dog guide training grows out of the program's uniquely dramatic appeal. . . " This indicates that some difficulty might exist in trying to bring these two programs under the same roof. Indeed, viewing the report in toto, one can hardly conclude that both the cane section and the dog section were written by the same Committee. Or, perhaps, this is a case where the left hand of the Committee did not know what the right hand was doing. Or perhaps, as seems more likely the qualitative differences between the two programs are really so marked as to preclude their being considered as two parts of the same whole.
As evidence of the above it is notable that when the same standards could be applied to instructors in both fields (i.e. health, personality and academic standards) no attempt is made to do so. In fact, some rather anomalous differences are allowed to appear. For instance, the cane travel instructor needs a master's degree while the dog guide trainer (who, as the Committee itself observed, has two living organisms to deal with) is required only to have at least a high school education with one or more years of college being helpful. There is another error of omission. The cane section lists different things to be taught, ranging from use of sighted guide, auditory, olfactory, tactual and kinesthetic sensory training to visualization and spatial relations. None of these things is even mentioned in the dog guide section. This omission might lead the non-professional observer to accept the general public's notion that the dog does handle these details for his master. The "uniquely dramatic appeal" of the dog guide referred to by the Committee unquestionably arises from just that type of thinking.
Also included in the introduction of the report is a list of seven basic assumptions supposedly pertinent to travel. The first is a repeat of the notion that a blind person suffers a major loss of mobility. The next five say nothing that is not readily obvious, and they are capped by the final inanity of assumption No. 7 which states: "That orientation and mobility teaching should be available." The inclusion of this type of space and time wasting material (and there are many more instances of such throughout the report), besides being an insult to the intelligence of the average reader, leads one to question whether the Committee might not have been a little more concerned with quantity than they were with quality.
Through a somewhat labored effort the report attempts to justify the use of the term "orientation and mobility. " In fact, a glossary is appended which defines these two words separately. It is obvious that mobility must of necessity involve orientation. By the Committee's own definition mobility is "the act of moving, facilitated by awareness of factors in the environment. . ." Orientation is defined as "knowledge of the environment which enables persons to react, move, and travel. . ." Since orientation, in and of its own definition is a part of mobility, one wonders why there is the effort expended to utilize the cumbersome, supererogatory combination of "orientation and mobility."
There has long been in general use the simple term "travel", which encompasses all the meanings of orientation and mobility as defined by the Committee. In fact, the report lapses into use of this word "travel" several times. And in every case of its usage it is obviously the most feasible, easily comprehensible term. Perhaps its biggest drawback is that it doesn't sound as professionally important as "orientation and mobility."
The body of the report has one section on cane travel, one on travel programs for children, and one on dog guide travel. The structure of the cane section has some interesting implications. It was stated earlier in the report that "the writing of standards for programs led naturally from personnel requirements to standards describing the qualified teacher of orientation and mobility; and from there, to standards relating to programs that prepare qualified teachers." Notice that no mention is made of the subject matter to be taught. The report almost carries through with this omission. The cane section begins by listing the different personnel required, the organization of the staff, the number of teaching hours (six) per day, the number of trainees per teacher (one for one in active travel), and the part played by the personnel in the application processes of each trainee. There are eleven pages in this section of the report. The last five are taken up with "Standards Related to Teachers of Orientation and Travel" and "Standards Related to Training of Teachers of Orientation and Mobility. " Sandwiched in between the opening and closing portions of this section is the part dealing with what should be taught. This, which is close to the heart of the matter, receives the least attention.
Logical, natural order -- contrary to what the report states -- would seem to require the establishment first of what needs to be taught, and then the establishment of standards pertinent to the teaching personnel. Once again, the reader is faced with the almost inescapable conclusion that the Committee was more concerned with carving for the travel teacher a niche in the ranks of professionalism than it was in trying to improve the quality and scope of travel programs.
On the face of it, the listing of what should be taught in a travel program by the report might seem fairly comprehensive. But whatever promise there is of extensiveness of independent travel for the individual is carefully fenced off and denied the promise of fruition. The first evidence that this is to be the case is the proposal that a course plan be developed for each individual as a part of his application processing. What can this mean other than that the blind person is to be sized up as it were, by his superiors who then decide what can be done for him, and a program, which implicitly has to be limited for some-- if not most--is then given him. The Committee does suggest that this program should be "reviewed and revised by the staff as the course progresses. " But, what has to be inherent in the setting up of a preconceived program for each individual is that the program will be limited. Why adopt this negative approach? Why not, instead, construct a program which encompasses all the techniques, skills and attitudes necessary to independent travel, and then offer this program to all? Each person should go as far as his abilities and desires would carry him, and he would not be faced with limiting barriers preconstructed for him by others.
The Committee carries its negative approach so far, indeed, that one wonders if it is not using the term "independent travel" with tongue-in-cheek. The report not only advocates preconceived individual programs but goes on to establish different categories in which to catalogue the trainees. Training time schedules are posited for "Three classifications of totally blind and recently blinded adults, who are in good physical and mental condition..." This statement gives rise to several questions. "Totally blind" and "recently blind" could conceivably preclude from consideration the great majority of blind persons. What about the partials and the long-time blind? Are they to be excluded from cane travel programs? Or did the Committee simply fail to carry through with the cataloguing it had begun. Further, what about the individuals who are totally blind and recently blinded adults but are not in good physical or mental condition? The travel ability of sighted people is not premised on their being in good physical or mental condition--why should it be so for the blind?
Leaving these questions aside--as the Committee so perfunctorily does--one turns with amazement at the temerity of the Committee in setting up the three arbitrary classifications. Bear in mind that the people involved "are in good physical and mental condition. " Category one includes: "Those for whom limited travel within a controlled familiar environment (home) is the goal. . ." These people would get "between 60 and 80 hours of active travel teaching. . ." Category 2: "Those who are judged capable of unrestricted travel in familiar environment (neighborhood) receive between 80 and 100 hours of active travel teaching. . . " Category 3: "Those who are judged capable of unrestricted travel anywhere receive between 120 and 200 hours of active travel teaching. . ."
The absurdity of the situtation thus proposed is so enormous as almost to confound understanding. If this is what is proposed for those in good physical and mental health, beware to the blind person with a health problem. And why should anyone in good physical or mental health be allowed or led to believe that he'd be safe inside his home but not to venture out. What we have here actually is a blatant reversion to custodialism. Figure out the right place for the blind and put them there. To propose this in one breath and to speak of independent mobility in the next could be characterized as hypocrisy rampant on a field of pseudo-professionalism.
The error of the three categories is unfortunately compounded by the statement immediately proceeding from them in the report, to wit: "Throughout the training and on discharge, each trainee is made aware of his travel limitations and the necessity to observe those limitations when he travels." Here, the facts of the matter are laid on the line. It is not, after all, independent travel the Committee is concerned with. We have here the formal recognition of the Committee's belief that a blind person's travel ability is really hedged in and circumscribed, and that he must be told not to exceed his limitations. Most blind persons who come into training centers are already convinced that they are seriously limited. And a basic necessity in any travel program is that the individual gain confidence and believe that he can travel easily, efficiently and comfortably. How this can be done by reinforcing his notions of his limitations instead of trying to erase them defies all psychology and educational theory, good and bad alike.
One must ask at this juncture just where, or how, or even why does the travel teacher obtain this omnipotence, this infallibility that permits him to say just how far, where and when a blind man can walk by himself. Biology teaches us that movement is a characteristic of life. It is one of those things with which living organisms are inherently endowed. Generally, the only people whose movements are limited by others, are incarcerated in security institutions. Daily experience teaches that blindness, per se, does not preclude independent travel. Why then should the teachers of the blind attempt to do so?
The physical and academic standards proposed for teachers of cane travel are somewhat unrealistic. Consider the proposals that the teacher have 20/20 vision and that he have ophthalmologic al, otological, and general physical examinations every two years. What happens if his vision drops below 20/20? Can it decrease at all without his being drummed out of the profession? Just how good does his health have to be to permit his continuing as a teacher? One would think that a general statement that the individual be sighted (if indeed such a requirement is necessary) and in good general health would have sufficed.
The requirement that travel teachers be graduated from a graduate level program specifically designed for them is something else. Walking, after all, is a very natural thing to do. Why should a graduate program be necessary to train someone to teach how it can be done without sight? This is potently a case of over-complicating something which could be kept on an ordinary, regular natural basis. The curriculum content of such a graduate program as proposed by the report smacks of a considerable amount of redundancy, if nothing else. Such items are included as: "A study of complications which develop out of visual and accompanying sensory impairments. " This, by the way, indicates that blindness may really be more than the physical loss of sight. We are not told what accompanying sensory impairments are, but the implication is still there that there must be complicating side effects other than inability to see. This has been a recurring theme in the field of work with the blind although there has been no real evidence adduced to support the supposition. The curriculum also includes: Course work and experiences which reveal the dynamics and objectives of education, rehabilitation, and other services of special benefit to those who have visual impairments or are blind. " It is strange that this report should speak favorably of the dynamics of education in light of the limited structures it proposes for programs for the blind.
Past and present experiences also indicate the unrealistic nature of the proposed academic standards. Individuals with good general academic backgrounds, sound personal characteristics, and some concern for the personal integrity of their fellow man, can, when given in-service, on-the-job training in existing programs, do a very good job of teaching independent travel. Such a person is no more nor less professional than if he had taken a graduate program in travel teaching. The teacher knows, after all, that his professionalism really exists only to the extent that he does teach people to travel independently and as a matter of course.
Section II of the report is concerned with travel programs for children. It points out that while the use of basic orientation and travel standards are valid for adult and child alike there are some additional standards necessary for programs for children. Now, either the Committee only assumed that there were additional standards without good reason or it didn't labor very diligently to find them. It came up with one page of additional standards which really aren't additional at all. It mentions that educational programs for children should include orientation and mobility services; that the instruction plan should be so arranged that "new material is taught in specified periods or blocks of lessons close enough together to allow carry-over from one lesson to the next;" that other people working with children should be acquainted with orientation and travel, and that "qualified personnel are available to counsel with the family of the child and teach orientation and contributory skills.." None of this varies much from procedures followed in programs for adults.
The final section of the report takes up standard s for dog guide services. By far the longest single part of the study, it consumes thirty pages of the fifty-seven page report. However, a great deal of the material presented is irrelevant to a consideration of travel from any point of view. It seems as though the entire structure and organization of a dog guide school is included. Consequently, we are treated to material ranging from election of trustees, the banning of nepotism in hiring policies and the reading of mail to the students-- to the provision of facilities for kitchen, dining room, etc. Why all these items are included is not made very clear.
It has been noted earlier that certain discrepancies existed between the standards proposed for cane travel programs and for dog guide programs. One more may be mentioned here. The cane travel teacher has to have 20/20 vision in each eye. The dog guide trainer needs 20/20 only in the better eye. Actually, the standards for dog guide instructors appear to be more realistic than those for cane travel instructors. In any case, the question of why these standards
couldn't be uniform remains unanswered.
There is one area in which the dog guide section of the Committee's report and the cane travel section seem to agree. This is in the manner in which they consider the people they serve. The dog guide section is also paternalistic in its approach. Two of the proposed standards validate this point. One states: "Mail addressed to students in training are (sic) opened with their permission, in their presence and read to them privately by the appropriate professional staff member. ." Now, one should be able to assume that a blind person not only can handle the question of getting his mail read but may very well want to select his own reader. This may seem like a minor point, but once again we are up against the treating of a blind person as though he were a small child. A second statement notes: "Graduates who allegedly misuse, abuse or beg with their dogs are requested to make full reports and appropriate remedial action shall be taken." Probably no one in the field of work with the blind is anxious to defend mendicancy. Nonetheless, if a blind man decides to be a beggar, one wonders if the school that trained him in use of a dog guide has any right to punish him for the evil of his ways. How did the school gain this moral authority over its graduates?
In sum, from introduction to appendices, the over-all effect of this report must be discouraging to those who have looked for better days in the field of travel training. In recent years there has been a great deal of emphasis placed on establishing and improving independent travel programs. This seemed all to the good, and one could have hoped that a real breakthrough was occuring. Now we are confronted by a Committee of experts in the field who seem to be giving only so much lip-service to the idea of independent travel.
For the report herein reviewed, instead of encouraging meaningful travel programs, allows itself to become bogged down in fringe issues. It is an almost foregone conclusion that the authors of this report spent most of their time and effort in trying to establish a profession of orientation and mobility instruction. The amount of effort expended on standards for teachers and the emphasis given to developing a professional jargon are evidence that they would have us believe that it is a highly complex, demanding profession. The average person confronted with this barrage of complexity could hardly help but conclude that walking for a blind person is really something difficult to achieve, and that it is surely something more than just a natural function. Pseudo-professionalism may not be too strong a term to explain what has been done in this report.
The intention here is not to criticize professionalism. What is being criticized is the attempt to establish professionalism for the sake of professionalism, while ignoring the real problems that the professionals should be solving. This Committee's report, instead of being concerned with finding the best travel service to provide, instead of encouraging the development of programs truly intent on furthering independent travel for all blind persons--period--takes a stand for limitations. Indeed, it takes a stand for the imposition of artificial limitations on top of those most blind persons already believe they have. What a strangely unprofessional position to hold. Finally, one wonders when the agencies, commissions and committees for the blind are going to show less concern for their own standing and more concern for the people they are supposed to serve.
Back to Contents
By Eva Smyth
President, Hawaii Association of the Adult Blind
The annual Christmas Dinner of the Hawaii Association of the Adult Blind, always a highlight of the year's activities, was more festive than ever this season as 49 members and friends gathered in downtown Honolulu on December 9 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the organized blind movement in the islands.
A spirited program of vocal and instrumental performances with an international flavor was presented by blind members under the leadership of Ah Lai Luke, himself an accomplished pianist. Christmas carols were sung alternately in English and Hawaiian, and popular ballads were interspersed with traditional Oriental melodies. Two members who brought down the house with their abundant talent were vocal duetists Madeline Park and Violet Feary.
Among the guests of the Association were Professor and Mrs. Floyd Matson, new arrivals to the islands. Dr. Matson, assistant editor of THE BRAILLE MONITOR and currently visiting professor at the University of Hawaii, conveyed Aloha messages to the group from National Federation of the Blind President Russell Kletzing and President Emeritus Jacobus tenBroek.
Eva Smyth spoke to the banqueters on the 40 year history of independent blind organization in Hawaii.
The Oahu Association of the Adult Blind, predecessor of the present-day Hawaii Association, was brought to life on December 5, 1925, at the Territorial School of the Deaf and Blind (now the Diamond Head School) with a total charter membership of one sighted and seven blind persons. Two of the Association's original officers -- Johnny Almeida, president, and Eva Smyth, corresponding and recording secretary--are still active in the movement today. A majority of the seven charter members were musicians trained by Johnny, who is famed throughout the islands as a performer and as the composer of many popular Hawaiian songs. It was therefore natural that the Association should give a benefit concert, which it did with resounding success in 1926.
From the beginning the central purpose of our organization was to make the public aware that blind people can become independent and productive members of society if adequate training and opportunity are made available. At first our efforts were limited to proving that items produced in the school's workshop--such as hula skirts, bead chains and brushes--were competitively marketable. In 1928, we gained the cooperation of The Lions and other civic clubs in successfully pressing for legislation to establish a sheltered workshop where somewhat better training and a wider range of manufactures could be developed. In 1935 the Bureau of Sight Conservation came into existence to take over this work, and more recently it has become the responsibility of the Division of Social Services.
Not content with sheltered employment for the productive blind, the Hawaii Association has continued to work toward the goal of competitive placement. We now have a center at Hoopena, where all the adult blind receive vocational rehabilitation training and orientation. In the near future it is hoped that many of those now at work in sheltered occupations will be redirected into the mainstream where they will gain the benefits of higher wages, union security, and individual dignity.
In 1935 I was named a delegate from Hawaii to attend the AAWB convention in Louisville, Kentucky. At that time the red-and-white canes were being used by blind persons throughout the states; I brought such a cane back to the islands with me and enlisted the help of various organizations in passing a territorial white cane law in the early 1940's.
In addition to its persistent efforts toward improvement of Hawaii's welfare laws and programs, the Association has pioneered in various special areas of importance to blind persons. One such is the use of guide dogs. Formerly blind men and women wishing this service were forced to travel to the mainland for guide dog training; and because of Hawaii's lengthy quarantine period for all entering animals, their dogs had to be retrained here after extended confinement. In 1954 the "Eye of the Pacific" was founded to train guide dogs locally, and a law was passed to establish the kennels and training school. Through the interest of then Governor King and others, several acres of land were set aside for this purpose, and the program has subsequently grown in size and effectiveness.
Our independent Association already has a considerable history -- but we believe it will have a more considerable future, as we succeed in our long-range aim of establishing chapters and rounding up new members not only on the main island of Oahu but on all the neighbor isles as well. In the end our "Aloha spirit" is bound to prevail!
Back to Contents
By Henry Beckett
(From New York Post, December 22, 1965)
A move by Attorney General Lefkowitz for laws requiring registration and supervision of charitable organizations in the state received general endorsement today at a public hearing in the State Building at 80 Centre Street.
Some voices were raised against the proposed law, but there was support for the proposal from many organizations, including the Ford Foundation and the United Jewish Appeal.
Objections were raised by former Court of Appeals Judge Charles W. Froesel on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America and the Grand Lodge of Masons.
Froesel said his groups would like more time to study the proposal and also thought they should be exempt. As the proposed law now reads, only educational and religious charitable organizations would be exempt.
A spokesman for the United Community Fund said such exemptions raise "odious implications" that college and religious groups do a better job than private charitableb organizations. He indicated that the reverse might be true.
The state does not now have any official registry for charitable groups, Lefkowitz said in opening remarks. He said his office has "no way to know of the existence, much less of the administration of many of these organizations."
Back to Contents
Because the organized blind of the Nation's Capital became "meal-missers", the IFB is now $76.77 richer! (Later, an additional contribution was received so that the check for the IFB amounted to $80.)
This report was given at the regular monthly meeting of the NFB's affiliate in the District of Columbia, held December 10, at the Presidential Arms Restaurant, in Washington.
The "Miss-a-Meal" Project had been adopted by the D.C. Blind in furtherance of a resolution of the recent NFB convention.
Each member agreed to forego a meal--and to ask his friends to forego a meal-and contribute the price of the meal to the IFB--
"This is real Federationism in action, " declared Vernon Butler, president of the Washington blind group. "We blind Americans are very fortunate compared to the blind of the rest of the world. And we are willing to share our good fortune with the blind of other nations who need our help so much."
Tom Bickford, Chairman of the "Miss-a-Meal" project was not satisfied with the results achieved this year--
"We should have done much better," asserted Chairman Tom, "and next year we will! With better planning, better organization, we should be able to double the amount of the check we are sending President tenBroek of the IFB this year."
When asked to explain the odd cents in the IFB check, Bickford said he thought some people who gave the price of a meal, added on the amount they would have had to pay as sales tax.
Similar contributions and reactions are coming in from elsewhere in the country. The White Canes of Ashland, Kentucky, sent a check for $25 along with an expression of continuing activity from Bob Whitehead, president of the Kentucky Federation.
North Dakota forwarded a check in the amount of $18. Art and Ella Strom wrote: "It did not seem possible to organize any project for a collective effort to raise money since our membership is so scattered over the State but as this project and its purpose becomes better known and established, there should be more cooperation on the part of a good many. " Members of the Potomac Federation, Virginia,sent $15. "It is not a very sizable contribution," wrote Treasurer Marion McDonald, "but it does show that we are concerned about the world organization and hope every success for its leaders and purposes.
Back to Contents
"A nationally syndicated columnist recently said: 'Indeed it is because of the weakness of these old-line (welfare) agencies that a new poverty program had to be developed.' . . .If the war on poverty has done nothing else it has created an awareness that social ills have deep roots, and that a new order of services and resources for individuals and families and communities must be brought into being."
With this ambitious declaration as a basis, the American Public Welfare Association recently presented a lengthy and detailed statement of goals and purposes to the official Advisory Council on Public Welfare. The APWA statement, submitted on August 12, 1965, is significant for the broad sweep of its recommendations and for their generally (but not uniformly) progressive character.
In particular the report embodies for the first time an acceptance by the professional organization of public welfare workers of the principle of a floor to relief--a fixed minimum grant of assistance to all who are in need, regardless of categories. Thus item number one in the APWA Federal Legislative Objectives states: "The consequences of economic dependency and social disaster are not restricted to persons in arbitrarily established categories. The comprehensive nature of public welfare responsibility should therefore be recognized through federal grants-in-aid for assistance for all needy persons. This should include federal financial participation in general assistance."
The acceptance of a floor to relief represents the latest step--large enough to be termed a jump--in the piecemeal progress of the welfare profession toward recognition of the full range of principles and objectives championed by the organized blind movement for a quarter of a century. One by one the NFB's basic programs--once scorned by the professionals as radical and unrealistic--have won open or tacit endorsement in the philosophy of the national leadership.
Among the specific principles which have gained acceptance over the years are: the abolition of responsible relatives' and durational residence requirements; the provision of exempt earnings; the drastic curtailment and eventual elimination of the means test, and the right of recipient groups to participate in the design and administration of welfare programs.
The latest advance, giving professional sanction to the principle of the minimum grant, brings the APWA into line with a fundamental policy of the organized blind pursued for more than a generation through innumerable bills introduced into state and national legislatures. Unsuccessful in their immediate political effects, these efforts have proved eminently successful in their long-range educational effects--and hence ultimately in the political and legal spheres as well.
Unfortunately the present APWA policy statement is a mixture of negative as well as positive features. Foremost among its dubious proposals is the standard agency call for "elimination of the categories"--that is, the breakdown of separate titles governing public assistance respectively for the blind, the aged, the permanently and totally disabled, and families with needy children. This appeal, issued in the name of administrative simplification and expediency, graphically illustrates the long-standing collision of perspectives between those who dispense and those who receive welfare services. That the adoption of a single catch-all category for all recipient groups would ease the burden of administrators and bookkeepers, while debatable, may be condeded. But this has never been the purpose of the public welfare system; if it were, it would be served best by eliminating the system. What cannot be conceded -- what must be emphatically challenged--is that the junking of the careful distinctions symbolized by the categorical titles of public assistance can ever be in the interest of those on the receiving end. For the welfare needs of each group are different, however alike may be their human (or political or social) needs. It is the peculiar set of conditions incident to blindness that characterizes the specific need of blind persons--just as it is the conditions incident to advanced age that constitute the deprivation of OAA recipients. It cannot be too often pointed out that the entire course of development of modern welfare philosophy has been away from the homogeneous melting-pot of Bedlam and the almshouse toward the increasing specification and differentiation of client groups. Indeed, as additional groups of needy Americans are "discovered" and brought within the welfare system, the demand to maintain distinctions among them--to respect the identity of each group--will surely increase rather than diminish. On the issue of categories, in short, the watchword should be: hold the line!
Along with the professional tendency to seek simpler administrative burdens, exhibited in the APWA report, goes the inclination to give primary emphasis to services in the totality of welfare functions and responsibilities. This "occupational bias" of the social worker is wholly legitimate and desirable so long as it does not overbalance the basic commitment of the welfare programs to provide adequate levels of assistance for all clients. Such a disproportionate stress on the concept of "services" as against direct financial aid was plainly in evidence in the Public Assistance Amendments of 1962. Fortunately there are signs that the APWA is aware to some extent at least of the necessity to strike a balance between the direct meeting of need and the provision of other services. Thus its principal recommendation is for "the re-casting of the federal grant-in-aid welfare program into three integrated functions, as follows:
"I - Financial assistance for all needy persons, including the coverage of the present categories, plus general assistance, and foster care for children.
"II - Medical assistance, substantially along the lines of new title XIX, but broadened to include all medically needy persons.
"III - Comprehensive community-wide social services, including services to individuals and families, children and youth, and community organization."
It is not important that agency administrators and caseworkers, desiring simplified routines as well as effective programs, should have their welfare cake and eat it too. What is essential is that the client of public assistance should have his daily bread and eat it too.
Because of its general significance for blind Americans as a signpost of future developments in welfare, the full text of the APWA statement is reproduced in this issue.
Back to Contents
Statement Submitted to
THE ADVISORY COUNCIL ON PUBLIC WELFARE
San Francisco, California
August 12, 1965
It has often been said that the more we change our environment the less we understand it. Today, more than ever before, the sustained pace of social and economic change uncovers new and unexpected problems which grow before our eyes while we still seek solutions for the old. But now, more than ever before, there is also a new sense of urgency that ways must be found to assure all people of an opportunity to develop their capacities to participate in the fruits of our progress. And ways must be found to maintain in decency and dignity those who are not able to provide for their own care and support.
Along with other established institutions the field of public welfare is faced with new opportunities and new challenges to give further definition to its role and to demonstrate its capabilities.
Simply stated, the choice for public welfare is whether it will move forward with a mature vitality in response to the imperative needs of the day, or continue within narrower limits while responsibility for the broader functions devolves to others more ready to assume it. Decisions taken now, whether by positive action or by default, will influence the substance and direction of public welfare programs for years to come.
The expiration of the 1962 federal welfare amendments will provide the occasion for a thorough evaluation and review of the federal, state, and local programs and their underlying legislative base. It will not be sufficient at that time to show a record of solid achievement over the past five years. It will also be necessary to present credible proposals for the next period.
The newly established programs of the Office of Economic Opportunity are still in the process of formulation. They present a unique opportunity for coordinated effort, and for the strengthening of public welfare programs. They also have the capability for developing independently.
A nationally syndicated columnist recently said: "Indeed it is because of the weakness of these old-line (welfare) agencies that a new poverty program had to be developed." We may question the fairness of this statement, but the challenge is there. If the war on poverty has done nothing else it has created an awareness that social ills have deep roots, and that a new order of services and resources for individuals and families and communities must be brought into being.
The findings and recommendations of the Advisory Council will, therefore, constitute a most timely and significant contribution to the future course of public welfare.
The American Public Welfare Association assumes that states have an inherent public welfare responsibility which they may carry out directly or delegate in part to local jurisdictions. The maintenance of an adequate public welfare program, however, has become a matter of overriding national concern, and thus requires substantial federal leadership and support. To a large degree the form and content of public welfare programs will therefore be determined by federal legislation. In recognition of this fact the Association has developed a detailed statement of Federal Legislative Objectives from which are derived the following general propositions:
1. The federal-state grant-in-aid principle is basically sound, and should be retained.
2. Every effort should be made, by both federal and state governments, to bring assistance payments to an adequate level.
3. Separate categories for public assistance should be eliminated.
4. The federal government should participate financially under a single matching formula in the total range of welfare programs, including general assistance, foster care for children, and specialized services for children and youth.
5. The social service function of public welfare agencies should be more broadly defined in federal law, and should not derive its authority solely from the public assistance titles.
One issue deserving of the Council's attention in charting the future course of public welfare is whether the present federal, state, and local partnership should be preserved or whether these programs should be fully financed and administered by the federal government. There are telling points to be made either way. The inadequate assistance standards that prevail in too many states and the uneven development of services give good cause for impatience and discouragement. Seen against this background the solution of federalization has a strong appeal. Standards of assistance could be set by central authority for the entire country, and slow-moving and understaffed state and county agencies would no longer stand in the way of progress.
On the other hand it might be anticipated that the problems under a federalized system, although different, would be as difficult, and it is by no means certain that the ultimate objectives would be any better served. Moreover if such a drastic step as federalization were to be considered there should be no objection to giving a fair trial first to those less disruptive measures that have long been recognized as needed to realize the potentialities of the present system.
If public welfare were to be federalized there is no assurance as to what form it would take. It could simply mean full federal financing of the present categories, without general assistance, without any better support for child welfare services, and without community-wide social services. There would still be the same shortages of qualified personnel, and there would still be the national, regional, and local pressures as to proper levels of assistance. Does anyone believe it would be easier to obtain from Congress an annual appropriation that would not only absorb the present state share, but also permit such a substantial overall increase that adequate assistance standards could be maintained in all jurisdictions? That would probably call for a federal appropriation of the order of $7 billion as a minimum, as against the present $3.25 billion--every dollar of which would have to be fought for and defended each year, since there would no longer be the shelter of the open-end authorization. Anyone needing further persuasion is referred to the recent annual reports of the Congressional appropriations committees, which regularly reduce the Department's requests for PA grants to states, because they "cannot believe that the cost of this program needs to continue going up, especially in view of the 1962 amendments which were supposed to reduce these costs...."
Whatever the shortcomings of the present public welfare system may be, it does provide a better basis for sound development than anything that might be devised to replace it. An established, functioning agency exists in every local jurisdiction. A corps of experienced personnel has been built up, who, though in numbers and in skills may fall short of our best hopes, are capable of doing better, and who, in any case, would most likely constitute the staff of any superseding organization.
Under a federalized system we would lose to a great extent the understanding and support that is now forthcoming from the various legislative bodies, agency boards, and citizen organizations. Although they all too often do not come forth with the kind of understanding and support we would like to have, there are genuine values for welfare agencies in having local roots. State and local groups and interests are not as likely to rise to the defense of a nationalized program as of one they consider their own.
There are two alternative approaches for seeking the best assurance that an adequate level of assistance will be maintained in all states. One is through federalization, with the hazards that have been noted. The other is through federal grants to states, with all possible encouragement that can be brought to bear for good standards. The official position of the Association does not call explicitly for a federal regulation establishing minimum state standards for assistance, It is our impression, however, that this authority is inherent in the existing statutes.
The Association's Federal Legislative Objectives state that: "The federal government has the obligation to develop nationwide goals, guides and standards for program content and to use its constitutional taxing power to equalize the financing of public welfare so that its benefits may be available on an equitable basisthroughout the country." These objectives also state that: "It is essentail to the well-being and security of the nation that increased emphasis be placed upon all measure to prevent povery, especially in families whose income is inadequate for the needs of their children...."
There may be honest differences as to what components should be included in the definition of public welfare. But there is no question in any quarter that, if public welfare has any function at all, it most surely includes financial assistance to people in need. If this responsibility is not properly discharged the program is inadequate, regardless of what other combination of services might be maintained. Failure in this will not only bring deprivation to those whom the agencies were created to serve, but will call into question the validity of the programs as now established.
But standards of assistance, at whatever level, mean nothing to those who are not covered at all. Item number one in the APWA Federal Legislative Objectives states that: "The consequences of economic dependency and social disaster are not restricted to persons in arbitrarily established categories. The comprehensive nature of public welfare responsibility should therefore be recognized through federal grants-in-aid for assistance for all needy persons. This should include federal financial participation in general assistance."
The time has come for the federal government and the states to move beyond the piecemeal categorical approach and join in a true partnership for a comprehensive program of assistance and services that will meet the present needs of the nation. What is needed now and for the future is a unified and comprehensive program of assistance and medical care for all needy persons, including those who are under-employed. A single matching formula, equalized to allow for the varying fiscal capacities of the individual states, should apply across the board, and the federal share should be sufficient to assure that levels of assistance can be adequately maintained in all jurisdictions.
Such an approach would also establish the necessary conditions for the long-sought bonus of administrative simplification. Too often the legislative improvements of the past have had the effect of adding further administrative complexities, Now, with the high rate of staff turnover, it is difficult to see how most caseworkers can even learn how to determine eligibility before they leave the job. It is less wonder that the general public is baffled by the vagaries of the public welfare program.
These proposed measures will still fall short of their objectives, however, if the agencies must continue in their preoccupation with rigid accountability for trivialities. In any case, the maintenance of adequate levels of assistance would seem to warrant a higher priority than checking nickels and dimes on budgets that are based on a fraction of established need.
But accountability does not necessarily involve only nickels and dimes. It can also extend to services, which, in turn, means still more reports and paperwork. Unquestionably many of the present paperwork requirements are brought about by the same provisions, in state as well as in federal statutes and regulations, that contribute to the burdensome administrative complexities. But beyond that there is a genuine question among state and local agencies as to whether their efforts to develop services under the authority of the 1962 amendments are not being hampered by the amount of reporting that is required.
We recall with some bemusement the enumeration of areas identified for special attention that was presented by Secretary Ribicoff to a meeting of state welfare administrators in Washington in 1962. The first point in the Secretary s list was.
We want to eliminate all unnecessary paperwork. Our services to troubled people must expand. But the staff available to perform these services is in serious short supply. Until we have more such staff we must take every conceivable step to put what we have to the most constructive use. This effort is tangled too frequently in an administrative underbrush of forms and pieces of paper.
This is all wrong. There is too much paperwork in Government. It stifles new ideas. It eats up time. It frightens away topnotch workers; it leaves their tasks to the pedantic and unimaginative.
The social welfare worker especially must deal with people, not percentages. He cannot waste his time with irrelevant pencil pushing and envelope stuffing. He must have energy and hours to devote to those who need him.
The consolidation and unification of medical assistance under the new title XIX holds promise of being the most significant single step toward administrative simplification in the 30-year history of the Social Security Act, as well as for laying the foundation for a truly adequate program of medical care for the needy. We find further encouragement in the intent of Congress as expressed in the report of the Ways and Means Committee:
Under provisions of your committee bill, the State plan must include such safeguards as may be necessary to assure that eligibility for care and services under the plan will be determined, and that such care and services will be provided, in a manner consistent with simplicity of administration and the best interests of the recipient. This provision was included in order to provide some assurance that the States will not use unduly complicated methods of determining eligibility which have the effect of delaying in an unwarranted fashion the decision on eligibility for medical assistance or that the States will not administer the provisions for services in a way which adversely affects the availability or the quality of the care to be provided. Your committee expects that under this provision, the States will be eliminating unrewarding and unproductive policies and methods of investigation.
So, while the number one task of public welfare today, as it has been from the beginning of the present federal-state system, is to maintain an adequate standard of assistance for those who are in need, the second task, which is being pushed into the forefront by the tide of events, is to develop a broad-based, community -wide program of social services. In this respect the 1962 service amendments stand as the great milestone, and impressive strides forward have been made since that time. The liberal and constructive interpretation which has been given to the intent and authority of this legislation has further enhanced its potentialities, and the opportunities presented teach far beyond the program levels attained thus far by any public welfare agency. The states are being constantly encouraged and urged forward, and it may be expected that significant progress will continue to be made under the present law.
Having said this much, it may appear incongruous to raise questions with respect to the adequacy of this legislation, or what has been accomplished under it. The fact remains, however, that, regardless of the latitude of administrative interpretation, the only authority for federal financial participation in state and local public welfare services (except for child welfare services) is found in the public assistance titles. All service costs, whether subject to federal reimbursement at 50 or 75 percent, are identified under one of the public assistance categories. And, regardless of how liberal an interpretation might be given to the term "services," it still derives from the central purpose (as in AFDC) of providing "financial assistance and rehabilitation and other services. . .to needy dependent children and the parents or relatives with whom they are living...."
A fundamental question can thus be raised as to whether the 1962 welfare amendments constitute an adequate base for a comprehensive, service-oriented public welfare program. Whether they do or not, the federal agencies, and in turn the entire field, have gotten themselves in the awkward position of justifying services on what is at best a dubious premise--namely, that increased expenditures for services will result in decreased expenditures for assistance. Congress was left with that implication when the amendments were enacted, and is now asking embarrassing but not unanticipated questions.
This is somewhat comparable to the situation in the field of mental health some years ago when state legislatures were being advised to expand services in mental hospitals on the grounds that this would ultimately result in an overall reduction in expenditures. The fortuitous appearance of tranquilizers has no doubt contributed to the peace of mind of those who made these promises as well as of the hospital patients. But no such timely rescue from this dilemma is in prospect for public welfare, though some perverse comfort might be taken in reflecting upon the savings resulting from mental hospital discharges that are counterbalanced by increased public welfare expenditures for these same patients in the form of old-age assistance and nursing home care, and more tranquilizers.
In supporting the 1962 amendments the American Public Welfare Association witness stated that:
It is not possible to predict how many public welfare recipients will be enabled to leave the assistance rolls through increased services, and it may be that results can never be precisely measured. It is known, however, that skilled counseling service is often effective in keeping families together, and in restoring families after a parent has deserted.
A program that provides a broad range of services simply because they are needed by the individuals and the community will in all probability be more effective in preventing dependency than one that is narrowly focused on that objective.
The point is that there is a larger and more fundamental justification for an adequate and comprehensive program of public welfare services than the promise of a demonstrable reduction in public assistance expenditures. But it is doubtful that this concept can be made to stand out clearly as long as services are established as a function of assistance.
The level of services currently maintained should by no means be minimized. Great advances have been made, and even under the existing authority, continuing progress is assured. In one place or another examples can be found today of an impressive array of imaginative and successful public welfare services. Moreover, leaders at all levels are well aware of further improvements that need to be made, and are prepared to move ahead as support becomes available. The publications and conferences of APWA give encouraging evidence of the growing vitality and competence of the field. The recent series of "shirtsleeve" meetings conducted by the
Association brought forth a richness of ideas and proposals and revealed a depth of public understanding and support on the part of the top-level citizen leadership
that had not been fully appreciated.
The fact remains, however, that public welfare programs are established and defined by law. What is needed now is the further perfection of what is a basically sound legal framework. It should reflect the experience that has been gained in the administration of existing programs, and it should be designed to enable the public welfare agencies to attain their true potential for meeting the assistance and service needs of individuals and families and communities.
In most respects our recommendations represent a composite of the various official objectives of the Association. While we urge that the service component of public welfare be given a stronger identity in its own right, we do not propose the fragmentation of the service and assistance features of the public welfare programs or agencies. We believe that internal unity and coordination are necessary. It is also essential that federal financial participation in services be retained as a part of the open-end matching authorization. But we suggest that the service authorization in federal law be more explicitly set forth, perhaps as a separate title. Something of the flexibility of the child welfare service grant program should be devised. The CWS grants have never been large enough to support adequate services, and have not represented a fair share of the true national interest in maintaining a sound child welfare program. Yet, in spite of their relatively small amounts, these grants to states have had a profound effect, out of all proportion to their size, in the development of the quality and coverage of public welfare services for children. In fact, with the recent emphasis on services through public assistance, many states have had to turn to their child welfare divisions for their personnel and expertise.
We commend for the consideration of your Council the re-casting of the federal grant-in-aid welfare program into three integrated functions, as follows:
I - Financial assistance for all needy persons, including the coverage of the present categories, plus general assistance, and foster care for children.
II - Medical assistance, substantially along the lines of new title XIX, but broadened to include all medically needy persons.
III - Comprehensive community-wide social services, including services to individuals and families, children and youth, and community organization.
The public welfare system that was established thirty years ago had many shortcomings, but it was a greater single step than any other taken before or since. One of its virtues is that it is flexible, and capable of being improved. Coverage has been expanded through the addition and enlargement of categories, and through the authorization of vendor payments for medical care. Levels of assistance, despite their unevenness, have risen significantly.
Services have developed more slowly, but it must be remembered that public assistance was not initially intended to be anything but assistance. True, there were some social workers who felt otherwise, and there was talk about the determination of eligibility being a service. Actually some services have been provided from the beginning, but in a sense they were brought in through the back door. Congress, and the state legislatures, and most administrators, regarded it as strictly assistance.
It might be said that the advances that have been made in coverage and levels of assistance, and in the development of services, were in response to changing
conditions. It might be said, but it would not be entirely true. Because neither the authorizations nor the implementations have kept up with changing conditions.
The proposals we put forth today are not in response to conditions that have just now come into being. In some instances the conditions have been there from the
beginning and we have known all along what was needed to be done.
For years APWA has urged the elimination of durational residence requirements, either by voluntary state action, or by federal prohibition. Similarly the Association has called for the elimination of categories, at least to the extent of giving states the option of combining all categories. The Association has recommended federal financial participation in general assistance, greater support in the professional training of personnel, and the expansion of services.
Regardless of what the state or federal laws of the moment might be, or who carries the responsibility, there is a broad area that is generally regarded as coming under the heading of public welfare. The American Public Welfare Association was established five years before the passage of the Social Security Act. And there were state and local departments of welfare before that. What the federal government has done up to now is to designate a few segments of the field in which it will participate. But nowhere throughout the several steps in the progression of the enlargement of the federal role in public welfare has there been the concept of a federal-state partnership in the total range of public welfare activities. That is the fundamental decision that should be made now, and all the other parts would then fall into place.
Such an arrangement would bring special gains to programs for children and youth. The federal child welfare grant authorization has loosely defined this area of service, but the funds have never been sufficient in amount to carry the program forward to the point of adequately discharging these defined responsibilities. We
are aware that these federal grants were not intended to carry the burden of services for children and youth, but rather to stimulate state action. In proportion to the amount of money involved this has been one of the most eminently successful programs of grants to states ever undertaken by the federal government. But the level of financial support from all sources has generally fallen far short of what is needed to maintain the state and local programs on an adequate basis. As a consequence these programs have been forced to spend much of their efforts on matters of the most immediate urgency such as placing children for foster care and adoption, and too little in such areas as community organization and long-range planning. The real misfortune lies in the unrealized potential of this program. With proper support in the past it could have served as the nucleus and coordinator for many of the scattered services that are now developing in such special areas as delinquency, school attendance, and community planning.
Under the concept of a true federal-state partnership in the overall field of public welfare, services for children and youth would receive solid support on the same footing as other programs.
We recognize that the children and youth services are apprehensive that such a consolidation could result in a loss of identity and a dilution of their professional competences and standards. A mechanism for adequate financing, however, should not constitute a blueprint for the internal organization of state services. Moreover, it might be expected that the flexibility and freedom for innovation of the child welfare field would serve as a prototype for the development of public welfare services in general.
It is becoming increasingly clear that in one way or another an adequate public welfare program must be maintained in all jurisdictions. While a federal-state-local partnership offers the best potential for the attainment of that objective, the ultimate fulfillment does not automatically follow. To a major degree the outcome depends on the performance of the state and local agencies, and if they fall too short the groundwork will be laid for federalization.
Much remains to be done by state and local agencies if they are to carry out their part of the bargain. In many ways they have made significant progress toward the implementation of the 1962 welfare amendments. Casework staffs have been enlarged, and there is a renewed dedication to the development of effective services. But there has not been a commensurate strengthening of top-level administrative and supervisory staff. Too many agencies are attempting to incorporate the features of the 1962 amendments into their programs with the same management personnel they had before 1962, which was probably too thin even at that time. They will fall even farther behind with the new demands of the 1965 legislation. In such circumstances the agencies are not free to do the kind of planning and innovating that is required to give genuine meaning to their new program commitments.
Moreover, if public welfare services are to have genuine meaning they must draw upon the best available competence. In the contemporary world that means a
professionally qualified staff working in a professionally oriented environment. This will not be attained by a pro forma compliance with the requirements for 75 percent federal matching. It takes more than a few extra caseworkers to give an agency professional tone. It is not suggested that all caseworkers must have formal professional qualifications. But if a professional orientation prevails the total staff contributes to a professional objective. A program that is purely mechanical requires detailed mechanical controls, but in a professionally oriented program there is room for professional judgment. The greatest career satisfaction is to be found in the free exercise of the highest skill and judgment in the pursuit of optimum results. The agency that serves best is the one that reduces to a minimum the obstacles to that goal.
As a nation we can no longer afford a system of public welfare under which the adequacy and availability of services and assistance are determined by arbitrarily defined categories or accidents of geography. People in need of assistance should be able to get it whether their age is 64 or 65, and whether they live on one side of a line or the other. And those who need help to maintain or regain their self-sufficiency should be given all possible opportunity and encouragement.
But the public welfare agency has the capacity and the responsibility to carry a larger role as a dynamic force in the community. It must be a place to which the poor and the disadvantaged and the troubled can turn for counsel and compassion as well as for the determination of eligibility. It must be a place from which the community can expect leadership that will alert citizens to needs and problems as they arise, and guidance and help in devising ways to overcome them.
All the elaborate federal and state machinery exists to facilitate and support the local program. The performance of the local agency is the final test of all our efforts.
Back to Contents
From Performance, December 1965. Governor Scranton of Pennsylvania signed into law Act 235 which requires that "all buildings of assembly, educational institutions, and office buildings constructed in whole or part with State funds shall be accessible to and usable by the physically handicapped. The law became effective immediately and will be enforced by the (state) Department of Labor and Industry. Under the new law, buildings would have to be constructed with at
least one level entrance; curbs in at least one parking lot would have to be ramped; and doors would have to be wide enough for wheelchairs. Other provisions would make facilities of a building available to the handicapped. Pennsylvania thus becomes the 21st state to pass architectural barriers legislation.
On January 19, 1966, the following ad appeared in the Oakland California Tribune: Ladies. Handicapped People Only. National Company manufacturing and distributing electrical products has opening in local offices in chemical, sales and credit departments. All positions salaried and permanent. Contact Oakland 536-5308; Walnut Creek 932-2808.
From the State Capitals : Governor Love declared that Colorado's state government ultimately would assume the county share of welfare program costs. Addressing the Colorado County Commissioners Association convention in Denver, the Governor said the state is moving "and will continue to move toward a state-administered welfare program. "
A unique solution for a unique problem. -- Since the establishment of the World Fund for the Blind by the spontaneous contributions of federationists and their chapters, President Russ Kletzing has had a problem trying to induce Dr. Isabella Grant to submit bills and accept reimbursements for her many personal expenditures in aiding blind schools and people throughout the world. After recent reconfirmation that Dr. Grant was financing the great bulk of this from her own teacher's retirement, President Kletzing decided to make her regular reimbursements at the rate of $20.00 per month. Showing her thrifty Scotch, Dr. Grant agreed but suggested payments be made in the form of a salary. In time she could obtain social security coverage, and later have more funds to devote to the blind of the world.
From the State Capitals. A comprehensive welfare study-report urging that the state take over all public welfare functions in Massachusetts and that local welfare boards be abolished was given preliminary approval by the Massachusetts Committee on Children and Youth and the United Community Service.
Recently James M. Copeland, Jr. of Alexandria, Virginia, who returned from Federal Service at the close of 1962 as chief of a branch of the National Office of Vital Statistics, prepared a lecture for a group of International students. The students are in this country under the AID program studying our systems and methods of collecting and processing data contained in records of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. Mr. Copeland is President of the Potomac Federation of the Blind, and Treasurer of the Virginia Federation of the Blind.
S. V. Staras -- importer and distributor of Montres braille watches supplied the following information about his product.
Ref, F. 1011 8.3/4" Chrom/Steelback $32.50
F. 3011 " 20M-GFP. /Steelback $36.00
Ref. J. 1011 10.1/2" Chrom/Steelback $31.00
J. 3011 " 20M-GFP. /Steelback $37.00
Ref, M. 1211 11.1/2" Chrom/Steelback AUTOMATIC $44.00
M, 3211 " 20M-GFP, /Steelback $49.00
Ref. R. 1011 16.1/2" Pocket watch Chrom $35.00
All movements lever, 17 jewels, incabloc, glucydur Balance and full Hy. Moser quality; with leather straps and boxes. Dials "Cadina" white with black figures and high dots.
From the State Capitals: A reassessment of the roles of the state and local governments in welfare programs in Wisconsin was called for by Governor Knowles in addressing an organizational meeting of a special task force appointed by the governor to work out legislation to implement new federal Social Security laws . . . The
governor said a tax study comnnittee had said that assumption by the state of the cost and administration of public assistance programs was desirable because local property taxpayers would be granted relief.
Highlight of the D. C, Capital Chapter December meeting--four more new members were unanimously accepted into the group.
"This makes eleven who have joined our organization since the NFB Washington convention in July," said President Butler.
"Our membership has almost doubled since the Mayflower gathering," Butler said, "and most of our new members first heard of the Federation through radio reports of our national convention. They attended the convention, decided they wanted to become a part of our movement--and they now are!"
Two 16-year-old Olympia youths were held in Thurston County Juvenile Detention Home in connection with the brazen theft of $74 from Alf Swanson, blind concessions operator in the State Public Lands Building,
Lawmen say the episode began shortly before noon Tuesday when one of the youths cashed a pay check at Swanson's stand. After the blind man cashed the check, one of the youths distracted him while his partner reached in and lifted $74 from the cash box, said Tag Frazier, county juvenile officer.
Deputy sheriffs learned of the incident about two hours after it occurred. By tracing the cashed check, Frazier learned that the second lad had boarded a bus bound for California.
A call from lawmen here alerted police in Longview, who apprehended the young suspect when the bus stopped there about three-twenty o'clock. He was returned to Thurston County.
All the stolen money was recovered, Frazier said.
Back to Contents