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.
LET'S SUPPORT OUR LEGISLATION
By Russell Kletzing
COMSTAC ON SHELTERED SHOPS
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON GIFT HARD-EARNED
OPERATION BIG CITY
INTEGRATED VERSUS SPECIALIZED SERVICES
BLIND MAN HOBBLES 2 MILES TO SEW FOR GI'S
By Nina McCain
WELFARE APPEAL TO H.E.W.
HELP WANTED -- FOR NEW AIDS CATALOG
By Florence Grannis
COMSTAC'S REHAB CENTER
By Rosamond M. Critchley
AFL-CIO REHAB RESOLUTIONS
By Natalie Jaffe
COMSTAC -- THE TIMID PERSUADER
ANOTHER FORM OF IFB CONTRIBUTIONS
Al Wesling Letter
NEW WELFARE CHIEF SWORN IN NEW YORK
NFB'S JOHN NAGLE LAUDED
MORSE CODE OPENS UP NEW WORLD FOR HANDICAPPED
By Noel Lieberman
COMSTAC ON LIBRARY SERVICES.
JOB ROAD OPENS
BLIND WELFARE IN SWEDEN
CONFERENCE ON LAW OF THE POOR
CITY HOSPITALS CHECKING PATIENTS' FINANCES
By Abel Silver and Richard Montague
MINIMUM FAMILY INCOME IS URGED
BLIND ENLISTED IN DRUG FIGHT
COMSTAC--THE CLIENT'S BIG BROTHER
AUSTRALIAN BLIND GROUP REPORTS
BIRTH PILLS MAY HELP PREVENT BLINDNESS, TOO
By Russell Kletzing
Now that we are several weeks into the Second Session of the 89th Congress it is time again to call for your active and vigorous support of our NFB federal legislative program and efforts.
In the last session of Congress the Federation played a minor, but we hope significant, role in bringing about some sweeping legislation. Medicare is now on the books providing hospital and medical assistance to persons over 65 -- Public Law 89-97. Title XIX of the Social Security Act is also on the books providing medical care for the medically indigent. Such a measure for the blind was a long-range proposal of our King-Hartke bill. Also on the books is an increase in the federal matching money in Aid to the Blind payments, and even a sort of "pass -on" requirement -- timid, inadequate, but still there.
Also on the books is our Federation-sponsored measure to eliminate the "needs" test from Vocational Rehabilitation. This principle was incorporated in the new Vocational Rehabilitation Act Amendments -- Public Law 89-333 -- but this provision only removes "economic need" as a federal requirement. Now it is up to the states to remove or retain the economic needs test. All affiliates of the National Federation of the Blind should exert their utmost efforts to persuade their state administrators of vocational rehabilitation, or, if necessary, their legislatures, to remove the pauperizing "needs" test from state vocational rehabilitation programs.
Federal attention and efforts in the present congressional session will be focused on the following matters:
H.R. 9549, introduced by Congressman Robert J. Corbett, Pennsylvania, to provide federal financial sharing in the cost of distributing braille and recorded books. It is our hope that the House Subcommittee on the Library will hold public hearings on this bill. Letters and telegrams in support of H.R. 9549 should be sent to Congressman Robert J. Corbett and to Chairman Paul Jones, Subcommittee on the Library, Committee on House Administration, and communications to these individuals should be addressed to the House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
H.R. 9550, introduced by Congressman Robert J. Corbett, Pennsylvania, will improve the postal laws for blind persons by allowing free mailing of heavier and larger braille and recorded book packages; the free mailing o£ magazines for the blind for which a subscription is charged, if the charge is less than the production cost; free mailing of special appliances and educational devices and materials for the blind; and free mailing of correspondence from blind persons when braille, tapes, disks, and large type print are used. Your letters and telegrams should be sent to Congressman Robert J. Corbett, and the Chairman Tom Murray, Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, addressed to the House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
H.R. 8093 and S. 2210, identical bills introduced by Congressman John H. Dent, Pennsylvania, and Senator Wayne Morse, Oregon.
Under the leadership of its new chairman, John Dent, and with the addition of two new members. Congressman Philip Burton, California, and Congressman Patsy Mink, Hawaii, the General Labor Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Labor, will undertake to develop a bill to broaden the coverage of the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and, perhaps, to increase the federal hourly minimum wage from its present level of $1.25.
Your support of our minimum wage in sheltered workshops bills is most urgently needed to offset the avalanche of opposition communications received by the General Labor Subcommittee on our moderate and ameliorative proposals.
Letters and telegrams should be sent to Congressman John Dent, Committee on Education and Labor, House Office Building, and to Senator Wayne Morse, Senate Office Building, both, of course, located in Washington D.C.
H.R. 8093 - S. 2210 would raise the wages of handicapped persons employed in sheltered workshops to the prevailing federal hourly minimum wage in three stages spread over a 3-year length of time, prohibit the reduction of wages of those handicapped workers receiving pay in excess of the prescribed minimums, authorize payment of less than the prescribed minimums to handicapped workers being given training or evaluation services in a sheltered workshop where work is incidental, to such services, and to individuals so severely disabled they are unable to engage in regular competitive employment outside the workshops, establish an absolute floor of 50 percent of the prevailing minimum wage for all handicapped persons in workshops, including those engaged in training and evaluation programs, establish a category of facility in the law to be known as "work activity centers" for handicapped persons whose productive capacity is inconsequential, authorize the Secretary of Labor to conduct a study to determine equitable rates of compensation. for handicapped persons who work in work activity centers, and provide for annual certification by state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies for persons to be paid less than the minimum wage and for those in work activity centers.
Other Federation-sponsored and supported proposals are pending before the 89th Congress, but since no action is expected in the areas involved, I have not listed them.
Other new and far-reaching measures, however, are now under consideration, and as they develop into introduced congressional bills, you will be told of them, and your support asked for them.
Letters and telegrams from you to your representatives and senators in Washington, in support of our legislative proposals for bettering the lives and improving the opportunities for all blind persons, determine success or failure of our legislative efforts before Congress.
The active support of state and chapter presidents and legislative chairmen is not enough!
All Federationists, their families and friends must make known their views in Washington!
As Speaker McCormack said at our 25th Anniversary Convention, Congressmen and Senators will only know of the real needs of blind people if they hear from blind people!
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For many years the peaceful slumbers of the workshops lay undisturbed, ignored because of their segregative nature and because energies were expended in developing new frontiers in welfare. Within the last fifteen years this dormant condition suddenly erupted with volcanic fury, resulting in a national controversy centering around the purposes and role of the sheltered workshops. Consequently, many welcomed the announcement of a national conference, the purposes of which would be to promulgate standards for the workshops. It was hoped that such a conference would unravel the confusion created by years of pamphleteering, layoffs, strikes. National Labor Relations
Board decisions, legislative studies, and a host of similar activities. The timing of the meeting seemed particularly appropriate (the intensity of the struggle having temporarily subsided) and, unquestionably, if the conference produced enlightened guidelines, termination of the conflict would have been a foregone conclusion.
The fruits of the conference have been made public. Alas! It is clear that all expectations of wise planning and concrete proposals leading to a settlement of the issues outstanding prove to have been built upon sand. As this review will demonstrate, the labors of this committee are at best confusing, misleading and full of meaningless platitudes. At worst, the committee chose to turn a deaf ear to the unrest of the last decade. Undoubtedly the impact of that fact alone can only serve to rekindle the embers of discontent for the conflict to be joined once more.
In broad terms, the COMSTAC report is equally striking on two counts -- for the issues discussed, and, what is of greater import, for the areas in which it maintains a discreet silence. With a few minor exceptions, the standards endeavor to lay down guidelines which fortify and reaffirm the control and limitless prerogatives of management. The sins of omission in the main consist in completely ignoring the rights and proposals of the workers--or "clients" as COMSTAC prefers. It will be apparent that the products of the committee may have a different coloration, but once the verbal camouflaging has been removed it will not be difficult to see that the tree still has the same old roots and that it will continue to bear the same bitter fruit.
In retrospect it is inconceivable for COMSTAC to have formulated standards that would embrace any of the aspirations of those whom the shops are supposed to serve. Glancing at the makeup of the committee on sheltered workshop standards, it is immediately revealed that the outcome could not have been any different. Consider the composition of the committee: no less than five "executive directors" of workshops were joined in deliberation by workshop personnel with such titles as "assistant executive director", "director" and "general manager". Also participating were representatives of the Federal Departments of Labor and HEW and a state "commissioner." Conspicuously absent were representatives of the organized blind as blind shop workers. It is evident that COMSTAC wished only to incorporate
into the body of the standards the views of management. It goes without saying that this flagrant disregard for the opinions of the blind manifests gross intolerance and irresponsibility. Surely, in any project designed to set up standards, all interested parties deserve the right of consultation and are entitled to make their views known and considered.
The formal report begins with a brief and inadequate introduction surrounding the history of the workshops. By omitting any reference to the origins of the workshops which included the separate but related medieval institutions of the asylum, the early hospital, the missionary church and the Elizabethan alms house, it makes the task of understanding the evolution of the multi-purpose workshop doubly difficult to comprehend. The committee could have shed considerable light on the controversy raging about the shops if it had sketched the ancestral roots. Noteworthy is the fact that the committee recognizes that the principal reason forcing the blind schools to establish sheltered workshops lay in furnishing employment to their graduates. ". . . the workshops for the blind remained primarily preoccupied with sheltered employment and only secondarily with the provision of other services. " This recognition is significant because, as this review will illustrate, the standards indicate that those in sheltered workshops are there for a multitude of reasons, the least of which is permanent employment. Suffice it to mention at this juncture that nowhere in the pages of the standards are the individuals working in the centers referred to as workers . The reason for this nomenclature is not too difficult to discern: by referring to such persons as "clients", "trainees", or "rehabilitants", COMSTAC avoids any confrontation with the rights of workers -- e.g., insurance programs and protection against exploitation.
A sheltered workshop for the blind is defined as "a non-profit organization public or voluntary, operated for the purpose of providing work training and employment to blind persons who are unable to meet the requirements of regular competitive employment or for whom such employment is not available." "For providing work training and employment"--what exactly does this mean in the context of the role and character of the sheltered shop? Does it mean work training for some and permanent employment for others? Does it mean work training, then sheltered employment? Does it mean work training for three weeks, eight months, ten years, or an indefinite period? Does it mean permanent employment--if so, why does COMSTAC always refer to these individuals as"clients"? Surely, the employee of General Motors or the American Foundation for the Blind would question the merit of any company program which referred to him as a client". COMSTAC would have rendered a worthwhile service if it had spelled out these standards. As it is, the workshop still means all things to all men.
Whatever "work training and employment" ultimately mean, we know that COMSTAC endorses the proposition that both are legitimate functions of the workshop. Moreover, since the workshop could not very practically divide its time conducting work training for six months and furnishing employment for the other half of the year, it follows that these activities are to be carried on simultaneously.
A special committee of the California legislature in 1963 drew most revealing conclusions about sheltered workshops conducting conflicting multiple activities simultaneously. "The committee's reservations about workshops as places of rehabilitation stem from the conclusion that the workshop's program offers a comfortable evasion of meeting responsibilities to a group of people more in need of jobs than of training. . . Furthermore, the essence of the concept 'rehabilitation' is a mockery unless the disabled person can realize placement in the competitive market. . . Full exploration of means to ease access to employment, education and training facilities in public employment, private employment, and school should precede and supercede efforts to establish separate training based on handicaps . . . Advocates of programs which recommend separate, special training facilities for the disabled implicitly accept that which has been consistently disproved --that the disabled as a group are less productive, more in need of skill, safety and 'socialization' training than the rest of the working population. This all too often adds an unnecessary 'handicap' to the disability of those whom they are sincerely trying to help. " Concentrating on the issue of workshops as rehabilitation centers the California committee's report specifically exempted from consideration the special problems posed by the mentally retarded and by "those so severely disabled that they can never expect to compete in the labor market. " The California report declared that for the handicapped in general "what training is needed can and should be available through channels available to the entire population: public schools, apprenticeship programs, on-the-job training. These channels will be increasingly constricted for the handicapped as long as the handicapped are set aside as a group with all the implied inferiority which accompanies 'separate but equal' avenues toward the ultimate goal, employment. " The California study concludes that workshops should either be places of employment, or places of rehabilitation, but not both.
Expanding the sheltered workshops to embrace rehabilitation and other ancillary services inevitably leads to confusion. In recent years several government agencies and boards have been wrestling with the problem of exactly, what is a workshop? And, what is the status of those working within its confines with respect to certain rights and privileges? Are they workers in the ordinary, accepted meaning of that term, free to join unions and receive fringe benefits that most Americans now take for granted? Are they clients , receiving manifold rehabilitation services calculated to lead to eventual placement in competitive industry? Or are they wards under the care of a special agency, forever set aside with makeshift work designed principally to occupy otherwise empty hours? These questions are serious and relevant. They should have been answered to avoid the danger that always comes through inaction. However, it may be that COMSTAC deliberately sidestepped these issues, feeling that the courts, the NLRB, and other such governmental bodies have shown reticence to become greatly involved. Nonetheless signs that the NLRB is not completely unresponsive to these vital issues may be gleaned from the minority opinion given in a ruling involving a San Diego, California workshop: "[We reject the notion] that a non-profit organization engaging in socially beneficial activities therefore owes its employees less than other employers do. The right of employees to select a representative and to bargain with their employer concerning their grievances and work conditions should not be so lightly disregarded. " COMSTAC, by refusing to clear away the chaos indicates that its basic intent is to maintain the status quo--a status quo which is disadvantageous to both the prospective rehabilitant and the permanent employee.
COMSTAC would have everyone believe that the workshop is the logical institution to provide work training and employment to blind persons who are unable to meet the requirements of regular , competitive employment or for whom such employment is not available. Thus COMSTAC seriously expects responsible men and women to adopt the view that in an atmosphere inherently negative an individual will be able to learn and "meet the requirements" of regular competitive employment. In a workshop, most likely, feasible and non-feasible rehabilitants would be thrown together. Moreover, working conditions and facilities are often, if not usually, geared to outmoded and unproductive handicrafts such as broommaking. Finally, the environment of the workshop is one of defeatism and despair. All these conditions work to frustrate the ultimate objective. Yet COMSTAC envisions such a place as "most fitting" for rehabilition. This situation would be analogous to sending an alcoholic to the corner tavern in order to cure his illness. The principal objective of rehabilitation "that of restoring the disabled to a vocational status of norinality and equality" cannot be enhanced but only undermined within the walls of a sheltered shop.
The objective of a sheltered shop as put forward by COMSTAC may be any one or a combination of the following: a) to utilize work for rehabilitation purposes related to employment; b) to help develop employability for placement in competitive employment; and c) to provide extended remunerative employment. These objectives leave no doubt but that they seek to firmly establish--in their own words -- the "multiservice shop. " This is not the time and place to enter into a protracted discussion concerning the merits of the multiservice workshop vis-a-vis the restricted one. But once again we are left to determine what exactly is meant by such terms as "to utilize work for rehabilitation purposes. " Does it mean time tests and motion studies to see how many brooms can be turned out efficiently in a given time span? Does it mean that products turned out by a client might be utilized somehow in the placement process? How long will this work be utilized -- for two weeks, four months, or indefinitely? The second objective, that of "developing employability for placement in regular employment", as previously discussed, is dubious on the face of it. The third objective, "to provide extended remunerative employment" is left vague and clouded.
It is true that Section 22 of the COMSTAC standards provides: "The workshop provides fringe benefits consistent with good personnel practice in regular industry. 22. 1 At least three of the following four fringe benefits are provided to clients: a) Old Age Survivors and disability benefits; b) Workmen's Compensation Insurance or its equivalent; c) minimum of ten days full pay for vacation and/or holidays; d) minimum of five days paid sick leave per year. " But the report is completely silent concerning any form of collective bargaining for the workers regarding working conditions and level of wages. ,COMSTAC talks about "at least" yearly meetings "(a) to inform all of its clients about those aspects of its operations and plans which bear on their welfare and (b) to receive suggestions and answer questions from the clients. The purpose of these meetings is to enlist the clients' informed cooperation toward the end of achieving efficient use of the resources of the workshop in their best interest. " (Italics added) In other words, the professional staff will condescend to look down from Olympian heights in order to let the clients know how best the workshop can help them. This, indeed, is a far cry from proud employees having pride in their work and in themselves. Contrary to other labor management relations there is a complete lack of mutual respect. It is crystal clear that if sheltered shop workers, "clients", "trainees", or whatever, are to gain the dignity, protection, rights and privileges which organized labor and similar associations have won for ordinary American men and women, the workers will have to do it by themselves.
The standards provide that the sheltered workshops comply with governmental wage and hour regulations. However, with the very next breath COMSTAC qualifies this plank and leaves the determination at the discretion of the shop staff: Section 18. 1 provides, "Where applicable, the workshop has certificates from the Wage and Hours Divisions, U.S. Department of Labor, and from the appropriate state agency authorizing client wages less than the statutory minimum. " It is clear that if COMSTAC has its way, there is not going to be any significant change in the structure, form and miserliness of wages in sheltered workshops. Individuals who toil in them are cast adrift at the tender mercies of their employer; for it is only when he deems it applicable that even the minimum wage is received.
Section 19 states, "The workshop pays wage rates commensurate with those paid for similar types and amounts of work by local commercial and industrial establishments maintaining approved labor standards. " This provision of comparable wage rates is cruel and deceptive. Many of these shops are performing work with antiquated machinery and, more to the point, much of the production carried on in the shops is not handled to any great extent in regular industry. Again we see COMSTAC carelessly overlooking the real hard core problems of the present day workshop. It would have been profitable if this committee had studied the report issued by the Special Subcommittee of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee in 1960. The Subcommittee observed, "that wage conditions in the sheltered shops were generally so deplorable that it should be a rare case in which an employee of a sheltered workshop should be considered to be employed in substantial gainful activity. " Referring to the records of the clients maintained by those administering the shops, COMSTAC would require that "if there has been no increase in [the client's work performance] within the past two years, there is an explanation. " It is possible for twenty-three months to elapse before some explanation is required to explain the stagnation of wages. Presumably, if the explanation is accepted, and no criterion is given to determine what constitutes a satisfactory explanation, a client could receive fixed wages indefinitely. Surely, if the free enterprise system has any fundamental principle, it is that individuals respond when provided with adequate incentives. If this concept has any worth and the United States is locked in a world-wife struggle proclaiming that it does, then certainly this precept would have application in sheltered workshops.
This review of the COMSTAC Standards is not intended to be exhaustive, A good deal more might be said about such matters as: boards of directors in private shops or the designated authorities in public shops who are responsible for policy formulation and general supervision; the ratio of staff to "clients"; the breakdown of financial records; the workshop as part of the "total rehabilitation program encompassing a variety of related services;" and, finally, does the workshop "client" really get a vacation? From this preliminary study of COMSTAC sheltered workshop standards sufficient evidence has been outlined to make clear the direction COMSTAC is following.
The composition of the Committee leaves no doubt that COMSTAC intends to establish sheltered workshop standards without the benefits of consultation with shop employees and organizations of the blind. Plainly, if COMSTAC succeeds in implementing these standards the prerogatives of management will be fortified and strengthened. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. Namely, that the employees will find themselves in an impossible position without substantial protection and at the mercy of a custodial employer. Too, COMSTAC wishes to put forward and make sheltered workshops an integral part of rehabilitation. They will become multipurpose institutions having vocational rehabilitation, medical therapy and remunerative terminal employment facets.
This conglomeration of activities cannot but redound to the disadvantage of all those who toil within the workshop. It is a lamentable fact that COMSTAC did not profit by the early experience of schools for the blind when they found that education and sheltered shop activity do not mix. Now COMSTAC endorses the idea that sheltered workshops have a good deal to contribute in the rehabilitative process.
The commingling of these programs serves to frustrate the aims of the employees. Confused by the multipurpose functions of the shop, governmental bodies have found it difficult to define shop employee status. Obviously if anything constructive is to come about in the foreseeable future with respect to sheltered workshops, COMSTAC is not the fountain of wisdom. It is clearly evident that before any just and fair standards can be developed all interested parties must be given adequate opportunities to express their views and fair representation in any group formulating criteria relevant to a workshop.
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(From The Seattle Times, Saturday, January 29, 1966)
The University of Washington has received larger gifts than the one it got yesterday but perhaps none was collected more laboriously nor with such a purpose in mind.
A check for $629. 88 for the Washington State Association of the Blind Education Fund will go to help needy and worthy blind students.
Two funds were combined in the gift. The education fund originally was begun from memorials to deceased blind persons. There was a total of $188, 75 in this fund.
A scholarship fund, established by the deduction of ten per cent from the net profits of the association's magazine, White Cane, totaled $441.13.
"The intent of the two funds was the same, so we combined them, " Tom Gronning, trustee for the fund, told Alvin E. Ulbrickson, U. W. assistant dean of men, and Larry MacKay, assistant director of student financial aid.
Gronning said it took the group almost four years to raise the funds.
There are no strings attached to the gift other than it go to "worthy and needy blind students, or as a scholarship to one student, if the university deems it more desirable. "
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Big city public welfare agencies in this country are engaged in a battle against large caseloads, numerous emergencies, complex urban operating problems, and serious personnel shortages, according to a special report released this week by the U. S. Welfare Administration.
The report stems from a review last August and September of six metropolitan public welfare departments serving the people of Atlanta, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and Philadelphia.
Dubbed "Operation Big City", the review was directed by Dr. Ellen Winston, U. S. Welfare Commissioner, to learn more about the special problems of urban public welfare agencies and how effectively they are dealing with the poor. State and city agencies affected by the study cooperated fully with the Federal reviewers.
The report states three general conclusions:
Public welfare agencies in big cities are by far the major
resource for needy people.
Federal and State eligibility requirements exclude a substantial proportion of needy people from significant help.
Certain legal and fiscal limitations handicap city agencies in meeting such emergencies as eviction and lack of food and in providing protective services to children, the mentally ill, and others when they need such aid.
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In an article entitled "Non-Categorical Services for Blind Persons" appearing in the New Outlook for the Blind, December, 1965, Mr. Benjamin Wolf points out that there is a definite trend toward including the blind in what he chooses to call the "mainstream" of generalized education, welfare, and rehabilitation services. He regards this trend as desirable.
That such a trend exists is undeniable. The so-called "Service Amendments" to the Social Security Act in 1962 provide an integrated approach. Also, Title XVI of the Social Security Act, the combined state plan for aged, blind, and disabled, fostered integration by holding out the "carrot" of federal participation in medical costs. However, that this is a sound approach is subject to grave question.
Mr. Wolf supports his notion that integrated services are a good thing by first stating that a blind person is essentially like other persons despite his disability rather than essentially different because of his disability. One can readily agree to this proposition and still ask: what has this to do with integrated versus specialized services? A blind person's needs are as broad as the effects of his blindness and these needs can only adequately be met by services geared to blind persons--not by those geared to the needs of dependent children or the aged or the totally disabled.
Mr. Wolf advances as his second factor favoring integrated services the observation that the wide range of potentials of blind persons is becoming increasingly apparent to the public. Again, one can agree with this proposition but is bewildered by its relevancy to the question of integrated versus specialized services. After all, those very potentials were brought to fruition by organizations and agencies which devoted themselves to meeting the specific needs of blind persons.
The argument advanced by those proponents of integration of services is simplification resulting in greater ease of administration. Is this the purpose of programs -- or is it to meet the needs of the groups served? Enlightened administrators have joined with organizations of the blind in boldly and repeatedly stating their conviction that the purpose of programs of a social nature is to help meet the needs of disadvantage persons unable to provide adequately for themselves. The nature of blindness is such that the needs of persons without sight -- their difficulties and problems -- are different, separate and distinct from the needs, problems and difficulties of dependent children, or of older persons, or permanently and totally disabled persons. This being so, specialized services are required to meet those needs, problems and difficulties.
In the evolutionary development of welfare agencies in America, these group differences have long been recognized and programs of services have been based upon this categorical recognition. Why, then, almost two-thirds the way through the twentieth century, should there suddenly appear-what may be termed a reversal of this sound development? Why this inordinate desire, bordering on a compulsion, to dump all needy persons into one common welfare pot?
The answer, of course, lies in the 1962 Amendments to the Social Security Act, characterized by the emphasis upon "services" and safeguards aimed at reducing the public assistance rolls. Behind this emphasis and its specific formulations lay the Federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare's sensitized reaction to the outcry against supposed abuses and failures in the Aid to Families with Dependant Children program. One of its direct consequences was the stringent definition of- recipient fraud. Another was the revival of the poor-law requirement of the "work test, " in essentially the same form notoriously brought to life in Newburgh, New York. Still another reflection of this emphasis was the renaming of the federal bureau formerly known as the Bureau of Public Assistance to the Bureau of Family services.
In short, what the Department of Health, Education and Welfare had uppermost in mind in its 1962 welfare proposals was the correction of the distressing and embarrassing situation in the AFDC program. Much the greater part of its services and other provisions were expressly geared to meet this special problem. The almost hysterical reaction of the federal agency to congressional criticism, and that of the public, thus resulted directly from the well-known controversies peculiar to the AFDC program. The establishment of the optional adult category under Title XVI represented an over-reaction to the demands for "simplification" in welfare administration.
Now that three years have intervened since the 1962 Amendments, one can anticipate that the day of reckoning draws nigh when the federal agency will be asked bluntly just how well its panaceas for AFDC have worked out -- how many families and adults have left the aid rolls through the mandatory use of casework services; how much latent recipient fraud has been uncovered and punished; and how much simpler has the administration of welfare programs become? The insistent demand for definitive answers to these pertinent questions may well cause the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare far more embarrassment than it sought to overcome by its ill-conceived proposals of 1962. In any case, it is high time that organizations of the blind insist that agencies get back to the business of providing specialized services which will effectively help their blind clients to effect physical, social and economic adjustments to the end that they may become fully integrated members of their communities.
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By Nina McCain
(From New York World-Telegram and Sun, January 11, 1966)
Charles Lester is blind and partially paralyzed. He has a job in the sewing workshop at the Jewish Guild for the Blind, but he didn't go to work the first part of last week, heeding Mayor Lindsay's pleas that non-essential persons stay home.
On Friday, Lester decided he was essential. He had been sewing hems on bed sheets for the soldiers in Viet Nam, and he thought the boys over there might need those sheets.
So Lester, 33, walked, on crutches, from his home on W. 99th St. to the Guild workshop at 62nd St. and Broadway.
While none of the other agencies that work with the blind , had a story to match Lester's, they all reported that the blind are suffering severe hardships because of the transit strike.
Some of the organizations that run workshops, rehabilitation or recreation programs for the blind have set up car pools to help their workers get in, but they have all been hard hit by lack of public transportation.
"Very few are coming in," according to Lesley Sprague, director of the Lighthouse for the Blind at 59th St. and Park Ave. "Some are walking long distances, but it's especially hard on the old-timers. They have a beaten path, and it's difficult when they get off of it."
The huge number of cars pouring into the city also presents an additional hazard to the blind.
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A new and promising avenue to bring the U. S. Constitution to the poor is contained in a recent effort to secure a public hearing by the Department of H. E. W. on public assistance plans in Arkansas and Georgia.
The appeal was filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, with Ed Sparer, director of the Law and Welfare Project at the Columbia University Social Welfare School, participating as counsel.
The immediate focus of the petition is the "substitute parent" provision of Arkansas and Georgia (and indirectly of 14 other states) by which Aid to Families with Dependent Children is to be denied if the mother is cohabiting with a man to whom she is not married.
The complaint and petition declares these provisions to be violative of the Fourteenth Amendment forbidding any state to deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, or to deny to any person the equal protection of the laws.
The complaint alleges that the states "deny aid to otherwise eligible families on the basis of arbitrary and irrational 'substitute parent' policies and [that they] deny fundamental rights of privacy and human dignity to needy citizens as a consequence of their 'substitute parent' policies."
The argument of the petition runs as follows: "It is elementary that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution demands a . . . . justification of classifications in state programs of financial assistance. Where a state chooses to grant assistance to some needy citizens and not to others, there must be a reasonable and not arbitrary basis for distinguishing each class of citizens. Further, there must be reason- able and not arbitrary standards for determining which individual falls within each class , . . The 'substitute parent' policies of Arkansas and Georgia create precisely the kind of arbitrary limitations on eligibility, unrelated to the purposes of the AFDC programs, which are condemned .... by the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
Not only do the provisions of the Arkansas and Georgia laws violate the provisions of the U. S. Constitution, according to the complaint, but they are also in violation of the Social Security Act. They "arbitrarily deny AFDC to families and children whom the provisions of Title IV were intended to protect."
These "substitute parent" provisions of Arkansas and Georgia were also said to "force needy mothers whose husbands are dead or have deserted to either abandon their right to privacy and dignity in social relations or to maintain social relations with male friends in a secret and socially destructive manner."
If upon the public hearing these allegations are found to be true, H.E.W. is then asked to require that the state plans be brought into conformity with the federal act and Constitution.
The technique thus employed is seen as opening up new possibilities for subjecting the plans of public assistance in the various states to tests from which they have largely been immune in the past, and to invoke the machinery of public hearings as a method of stimulating federal officials to enforce the provisions of the Social Security Act.
If successful in this case, the technique will doubtless have wide application in many other areas.
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By Florence Grannis
Librarian, Iowa Commission for the Blind
The Iowa Commission for the Blind is compiling a comprehensive catalog, to be distributed nation-wide, of all aids and devices for the use of the blind. We feel that there are many devices on the market besides those listed in the regular catalogs which you have found useful in your daily lives and that you would like to share these with other blind persons. Please send your "pet ideas" to us and we will act as a clearing house in passing them on to others.
Anything you have found helpful in writing, cooking, teaching, traveling, tools, or what have you, commercial or otherwise, please send to us for this project. Be sure to tell us where the item can be purchased, or maybe you have made your own; we'd like to know about those also. We would even like to hear about a need for which no known aid exists; perhaps someone else will tell us how they solved a similar problem and we can pass the information on to you. Help us, so that we can help you!
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One of COMSTAC'S twelve committees concerned itself with developing Standards for Rehabilitation Centers, Its report begins with a history of the development of rehab centers which attempts to show that the present COMSTAC efforts to develop uniform standards are but a natural culminating effect of the efforts expended by the people in the forefront of rehab center development in the United States. This committee believes, in effect, that its study is a continuation of a series of conferences, seminars and workshops which have dealt with the problems of center growth during the last two decades.
The committee points out that rehabilitation centers in this country have their roots in the establishment by the federal government of centers for men blinded in World Wars I and II. Evergreen, in Baltimore, Maryland existed as a training center for blind veterans from 1918 to 1925. In 1944 the Old Farms Convalescent Hospital at Avon, Connecticut became a facility for the war blinded of World War II. When it was closed in 1947, the VA Hospital at Hines, Illinois took over the rehabilitation center functions for blind service men.
Rehabilitation centers for civilians started to come into being in 1945. By 1951, the American Foundation for the Blind adopted a posture of step-parental concern over the nature of these centers and with the office of Vocational Rehabilitation arranged for the Spring Mill Conference to bring together people from the various centers for the purpose of arriving "at as much unanimity as possible on optimum procedures and techniques." In 1956, apparently still concerned because of the variety in modus operandi of various centers, the AFB and OVR sponsored another national meeting, the New Orleans Seminar. COMSTAC'S center committee states that at the New Orleans Seminar "four basic areas of service (i.e. for rehab centers) were identified--medical services, psychological services, social services
and vocational services--..." In I960, the Conference of Administrators was held in Washington, D. C. Again sponsored by the AFB and the OVR, and still concerned over a lack of uniformity in center operations, this conference "recommended adoption of an accreditation system. " In April 1965 COMSTAC'S committee on rehab centers held a seminar of rehab centers personnel in Chicago. It is this meeting, sponsored by the AFB and founded by the VRA, which COMSTAC'S committee considers to be one of the series that began at Spring Mill. This seminar "devoted itself to a critical examination of proposed standards."
This background of historical material is very relevant to a consideration of COMSTAC'S proposals on standards for rehab centers. For there are three striking characteristics in this ancestral heritage of the proposed standards which lead one to question their legitimacy. First, of course, is the emphasis on medical and psychological services, which perhaps derives partially from the fact that the facilities for blinded veterans have always been hospital based or connected. Secondly, one is confronted with the demand, throughout the series of seminars and workshops that have been held, for uniformity and standardization. This must mean that early in the story some of the most outspoken leaders in the development of centers decided that what they were doing was right and that all other centers should be formed in the same image. The only real variation from this view is the third striking characteristic. The report of the New Orleans Seminar took positions in two or three areas which seemed very healthy but have since been abrogated by the latest proposed standards for centers.
The New Orleans Seminar held as one of its basic concepts: "That the social climate provided by the staff of such a center is a fundamental aspect of the rehabilitation process, especially important in effecting attitudinal change not alone on the part of the trainee but also of his family and of the community into which the trainee will proceed when his reoganization period is completed.
This comment, which reflects a belief that the real handicap of blindness lies not in the overcoming of the physical disability through the learning of skills but rather in the attitudes of the blind person and those around him, gets at the heart of the major problem a center must deal with. However, this approach has been sacrificed on the altar of "professional growth." Rather than use the statement of the New Orleans Seminar, COMSTAC'S committee states in its definition of a rehab center that it (the center) "Provides a combination of services in one setting resulting in a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts and the dynamics of which result from the constant interplay between clients, clients and staff, and various professional disciplines around the needs of the client." What a cold, sterile center, ignoring the need for a good social atmosphere and containing only emphasis on skills taught in a "professional" climate. This approach gets at the disability aspect of blindness as a surgical team gets at an amputation, but it fails to recognize the root existence of the handicap, which lies in the prevailing misconceptions about blindness.
The change in thinking is further illustrated by what the New Orleans Seminar said about a shop course, and how COMSTAC ignores the same. The New Orleans statement is: "A shop course [to include use of hand and power tools] is included in a center program for the purpose of making touch and kinesthetic sense knowledge more meaningful, for giving a sense of accomplishment to the trainee; and for restoring confidence in the remaining senses. " In other words, the skill was not to be taught for the sake of the skill but to develop attitudinal change. COMSTAC substitutes for the simple and clearly defined shop course a large and blurry entity called Personal Management Services which includes everything from brushing your teeth to electrical wiring, from personal hygiene to home mechanics--all to be conducted by "professionals'' and all to be labeled as "therapy." Ah, for the simplicity of the plain old "shop course." COMSTAC says that "Personal management services as provided in the rehabilitation center setting are defined as those activities of a personal, self-care and home management nature which are designed to contribute to the total life adjustment of the individual. They include personal hygiene and grooming, cooking, homemaking duties and home repair services." Here again the emphasis is on the skills--ignoring the fact that it has been demonstrated over and over again that if a blind person learns in a shop course that he can utilize all kinds of equipment and build a creditable piece of furniture he also is likely to learn that he can go ahead and be a creditable lawyer, or schoolteacher, or businessman, or technician or farmer.
Reference has already been made to the emphasis on medical and psychological services in rehab centers. COMSTAC'S committee states that the basic services provided in a center are: 1. Communication skills 2. Medical, 3. Orientation and Mobility, 4. Personal Management, 5. Psychological, 6. Recreational, 7. Social Work, 8. Vocational. That these services are listed as they are is indicative of the fact that medical services are as much an integral part of the program as communication skills; that psychological services are as much a part as personal management. The committee' s report explicitly states this to be the case.
It is, perhaps, unfortunate that the centers for blind veterans have had such a close relationship with the hospital setting. Perhaps if this had not been the case the developers of programs for blind civilians would not have incorporated into their programs this emphasis on medical and psychological services. In any case this emphasis must be called into question as unnecessary and, indeed, downright harmful.
The justification given for the emphasis beg certain questions. COMSTAC'S committee says: "The development and maintenance of general health is vital to the overall reorganization and adjustment of all disabled persons. The elimination or minimizing of concurrent or associated disabilities assumes even greater importance in the individual who has suffered the impairment of such a major function as sight. " Now, is not the development and maintenance of general health vital to everyone? Some sighted people need medical attention from time to time--some do not. So it is with blind people. And what are the "concurrent or associated disabilities" referred to? Blindness does not necessarily bring with it concurrent or associated disabilities. Some blind people are healthy--some are not. Some blue-eyed people are healthy--some are not. All this is not to say that a residential center does not need medical consultants. Surely a relationship can be established between the center and various medical facilities in the community for ease of referral and consultation when needed. What this is to say, however, is that medical service is not an integral part of a center program, on a par with the teaching of Braille, and that the center does not need on its staff a "center medical director" as COMSTAC suggests. Perhaps the point can best be made by considering another phase of human needs. It is unquestionably true that blind people, like others, ought to be properly shod. But how much specialized and differentiated emphasis does this point require? To meet this need we might include on the' staff a shoe and foot expert (or, as the jargon would probably have it, a "director of podiatric therapy"). Or, trainees at the center when in need of proper footwear might simply go to the local shoe store, talk to the salesman and buy a pair of shoes. Surely, there are enough real needs to be met by the center without playing games in order to appear to be "professional.
Much of the same argument is applicable in the area of psychological services. COMSTAC'S committee states: "Psychological services are an integral part of a rehabilitation center program. The center staff would include a psychologist, and there would be testing, counseling, and consulting on the part of the psychologist with other staff members. Instead of the center providing an atmosphere peopled by staff members with good attitudes about blindness who are making consistent efforts to develop attitudinal changes in the student by working with him on a human being to human being basis, we get another sterile, clinically proper and jargonized approach. Once again, this is not to say that an occasional student will not need psychological or psychiatric care. But when the need arises it can be met by referral
to community resources. Can we not scrap the mistaken notion that there is something about blindness that automatically requires psychiatric consultation?
What must be recognized is that the provision of medical and psychological services as integral parts of the center program tends to discourage rather than to promote the development of good attitudes by the people served. The presence of these services in the day to day functioning of a center must only convince the blind person that there is something about blindness that makes him unwell physically and mentally, and that he is not a normal individual-- else why should he receive this treatment. The giving to the blind person of services he does not need can only further convince him that there is some continuing unhealthiness about his physical loss of sight when such is generally not the case at all.
The committee's recommendation that there be a formal provision of recreation services under the supervision of a staff director of recreation is clearly a case of carrying a bad thing too far. This formal provision of recreation must result in planned, stereotyped recreation. Cannot the instructional staff members handle the recreational needs on an informal basis? Is there some reason why the teachers of typing, travel, of Home Economics--of what have you--cannot lead the way in encouraging center students to use the community and center resources for recreation? Or would it be unprofessional of them to go swimming or water skiing or bowling with students? Is not the center's function here to instill in its students the belief that recreation is just as much a run-of-the-mill thing for a blind person as it is for a sighted person? The best way to do this is to have recreation on a casual, take-it-for-granted basis.
Actually, the entire outlay of the program of a center as envisaged by COMSTAC'S committee leads one to believe that the committee, somewhere along the line, lost sight of the people centers are meant to serve, and concentrated all their efforts on making the outward appearance of the center seem to be properly "professional." An examination of the requirements for personnel in the eight service areas mentioned above illustrates the point. Communication skills teachers should have a Master's degree in Education or a Bachelor's degree in Education and at least five years of professional experience in their field. The committee doesn't list requirements for travel teachers, but it adheres to Standards on Orientation and Mobility Services, so undoubtedly a Master's degree would be required. The personal management services are under the control of a person holding a Master's degree or a Bachelor's degree and three to five years experience in teaching the blind. The staff psychologist needs at least a Master's in Psychology. Recreation services require a Master's degree in recreation or social group work, or a Bachelor's degree and five years professional experience. The social worker has a Master's degree. Vocational services requires a Master's in Rehabilitation or Vocational Counseling or a Bachelor's degree with five years experience in Industrial Arts, Industrial Engineering, or Occupational Therapy. One wonders, incidentally, why the list is limited in this last case to the three areas mentioned. A graduate in Industrial Arts may be no more qualified to do vocational counseling with a man who wants to be a lawyer, than a lawyer would be with a man who wants to be a machinist. As a matter of fact both might do well-so that there really is no good reason for limiting the backgrounds to Industrial Arts, Industrial Engineering, or Occupational Therapy.
In any case, one can see that the center of the future will be staffed with a group of specialists ("therapists" if you will) each highly trained in his own narrow field. The question now becomes just how is a center supposed to do what its definition, as given by the committee, demands that it do. Part of the definition states that a center: "Provides integrated and coordinated rehabilitative services to assist visually-handicapped persons by stimulating them to use these services for meeting their individual needs," and "Provides its services through a program of multidisciplinary collaboration." Further on in its report the committee also states that "Services in a rehabilitation center cannot be provided in a vacuum, but must be continuously interrelated with other center services." Then the committee cites as examples of
how this is to be done some illustrations that really indicate that it won't be done. It says: "For example, each professional staff member accepts and understands the client's feelings about his medical problems, but for counseling and decision making refer him to the staff physician. Each professional staff member accepts and understands the client's feelings about his occupational future, but for counseling and decision making refer him to the staff vocational counselor." And on and on. Now each specialist's sticking to his field and refusing to deal with each student as a whole being surely comes close to operating in a vacuum. To speak of integrated and coordinated services and of multidisciplinary collaboration, in this situation, is simply to throw out a barrage of meaningless jargon.
The sterility of concept so obvious in the proposed program is reflected by the limited nature of the goal it hopes to achieve. The committee states: ". . . at the end of a period of time (at a center) a visually handicapped person may return to his community in better control of himself in his environment. " It is not said that a blind person can come to understand that he can be a contribuing, self-respecting member of society--that he can operate on the basis of the equality which is his right inherently as a human being. No--this committee would have him believe only that he can be in "better" control of himself; this committee would have him accept limitations which arise not from his physical lose of sight but from society's misconceptions.
There are other aspects of this committee report which indicate that concern for the establishment of "professionalism" tended to overshadow concern for the people who are to receive the "professional" services. Here, as in some of the other COMSTAC reports, are some exercises in "professional" vocabulary building such as the term "multidisciplinary collaboration" in lieu of teamwork, and the substitution of the term "visually handicapped" for the word blind. It is noteworthy that in this report, once one reads through the short history section, the word blind is never used at all. This can hardly be an accident. One wonders if the American Foundation for the Blind, of ancient and honorable name, may not take a cue from its offspring and start calling itself the American Foundation for the Visually-Handicapped. An old literary adage could be changed to read that in the kingdom of the visually handicapped the man visually handicapped in only one eye might be king.
The regrettable conclusion is that this COMSTAC committee never really tried to discover what a rehabilitation center should be in terms of what it must do for the people who come to it for services. This committee's emphasis is placed altogether on the exterior trappings of a center. It assumes that the tangible skill areas are the essence of the center, and that only if these are handled by people highly educated in their respective fields can the rehabilitation function be carried out. It fails to recognize that the most skillful blind person can never hope to take his rightful place in society if he accepts the misconceptions which form the prevailing social attitudes toward blindness.
This committee does not see that a center must be a place where a blind person can come to find out how and why he can be the kind of member of society he wants to be. Where he can learn the skills he needs and wants, but above all where he can have the time and opportunity to examine his and the public's attitudes about blindness. Where he can come to grips with this problem-the real handicap. A center is a place where he associates with staff members who are fellow human beings with the intellectual ability to develop good attitudes about blindness and to help him develop a like approach.
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By Rosamond M. Critchley
Job discrimination against the blind was the subject of a panel discussion, open to the general public, held on January 26th, in the Worcester Public Library, Worcester, Mass., under the auspices of the local chapter of the Medical Committee for Human Rights.
The Associated Blind of Massachusetts was officially represented by its president, Manuel Rubin, who was in the audience as an observer, along with a number of members from various chapters of the organization.
The affair was unique in that it was sponsored by a group of sighted persons with no vested interest in work for or with the blind. Dr. Robert Baker, Dean of Men at Clark University, who is president of the Committee's Worcester Chapter, acted as chairman and moderator of the discussion. In opening the meeting, he explained that the Medical Committee for Human Rights is a national organization which was founded in response to medical and other needs of civil rights workers. From this beginning it has been expanded and broadened to encompass human needs in general.
Members of the panel were: Miss Helen M. Cleary, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association for the Adult Blind; Dr. Herbert M. Greenberg, president of the Marketing Survey and Research Corp., New York City; the Hon. Gregory B. Khachadoorian, only legally blind member of the Massachusetts State Legislature; and Mr.Robert Freelander of Come Play Products -- a Worcester concern where a number of handicapped people are employed.
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(From Labor Rehabilitation Report, January-February, 1966)
Two resolutions adopted by the AFL-CIO at its Sixth Biennial Convention, held in San Francisco on December 6-15, urged federal and state action to improve workmen's compensation laws, and renewed labor's support of comprehensive rehabilitation programs for the handicapped.
The Convention found that many state programs of workmen's compensation -- "the oldest form of social insurance" -- have failed to meet "obligations to injured workers." The Department of Labor was urged to show more leadership in efforts to improve state laws "and to support vigorously federal minimum standards of benefits."
The resolution protested that labor has been "too long in the fight to secure adequate protection for injured workers and their families. Too often those who should be in the forefront of the fight to secure improved workmen's compensation legislation have avoided the duty of leadership to accept the easy road of inaction. "
The Convention's rehabilitation resolution applauded the progress that has been made in recent years by both public and voluntary rehabilitation agencies in rehabilitating the increasing numbers of handicapped inviduals in our society.
It particularly commended the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration and its Commissioner, Mary E. Switzer, for the leadership provided in the rehabilitation field.
The resolution specifically urged state and local central union bodies to press their state legislatures to make full use of the matching grants provision of the federal law for vocational rehabilitation programs.
In calling for labor's active participation in programs to help job placement of disabled workers and to support community rehabilitation programs, the resolution stated the experience garnered by such labor rehabilitation projects as that of the Sidney Hillman Health Center in New York City, the New York Central Labor Council and the Iowa Federation of Labor should be widely disseminated, and emphasized that affiliated bodies should work closely with the National Institutes on Rehabilitation and Health Services and the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration in order to initiate and organize similar projects wherever feasible.
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By Natalie Jaffe (From New York Times, February 7, 1966)
Far-reaching Medical Aid Promises to Set Style for all Public Welfare . This year's most-used addition to the cryptic argot of health and welfare bureaucrats is "Title 19." It is pronounced with mingled dread and missionary fervor both by officials and the few citizens who know what it means.
Title 19 refers to what most public welfare experts consider a truly revolutionary section of the double-barrelled Medicare act -- the part that has nothing to do with insurance or Social Security, and only partly to do with the aged. It will extend Federal help to most Americans who cannot pay their medical bills. Title 18 of Medicare -- the section that provides medical insurance for the aged under Social Security--had the biggest reaction when the law was passed.
But Title 19, officials say, is the opening shot of a revolution--the beginning of a new style for the nation's medical services and, indeed, of all public assistance.
On the option of the states -- and most are expected to take it up to get extra dollars from Washington -- Title 19 provides Federal aid for free or very low-cost medical care for anyone now receiving welfare to which the United States contributes. These are the indigent, aged, blind, disabled and dependent children. They do not include people on home relief.
Title 19 will also provide medical care for the so-called "medically indigent" -- dependent children, the aged, blind and disabled, who cannot afford to pay for medical care in addition to other bills.
As one New York State health official put it, "If you're old enough. Title 18 provides medical care so that you don't wind up poor. And if you're poor enough. Title 19 pays for your medical care, giving you a chance to grow old."
Medical care for the aged under Social Security will, in effect, allow the state to use the money they used to spend for medical assistance for the aged for other purposes.
If the states agree to spend this money -- estimated at $50 million a year --on the medically indigent the Federal Government will pay 50 to 83 per cent of the cost.
Although the program is designed to come into effect in stages, first steps can be taken as soon as legislation is passed and the states' plans are approved by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare. At that point, many provisions will be retroactive to last January 1. . . .
The only persons between the ages of 21 and 65 to be covered by the provisions of Title 19 will be the blind, the disabled and mothers of children eligible for the Aid to Dependent Children program. But Washington hopes that the states themselves will expand their health services to all the needy with the money they save on those eligible for Federal help.
The largest number of immediate beneficiaries will be children. United States Welfare Commissioner Ellen Winston estimates that at least 18 million children living with their families or in foster homes and institutions will be helped. Until Title 19, the Federal Government did not have a direct share in the health care of needy children.
Another revolutionary part of Title 19 is in the strict medical and administrative conditions the Federal Government imposes on the states if they are to be eligible for checks from Washington.
The medical conditions include an arrangement for the Health Department to set standards for the quality of care and to audit the actual performance of hospitals, clinics and doctors.
Although Title 19 was defined as a welfare program in Washington-, a controversy flared over whether welfare departments were competent to run medical services. . . .
The revolution in welfare administration is presaged by Title 19's other conditions. They include putting an end to residence requirements, limiting the responsibility of relatives, simplifying the application procedure, and requiring extensive social services.
New York is one of the few states that has no residence requirement, but is strict in denying assistance to any person suspected of coming to New York just to get welfare.
The limitation of relative responsibility means that only a spouse or the parent of a child under 21 can be held responsible for bills. Adult children will not be required to pay for their parents.
Joseph H. Loucheim, former [New York] City Welfare Commissioner and new state Deputy Commissioner for City Affairs, said this condition would save thousands of investigation hours and encourage more old people to apply for assistance. "They didn't want to have their kids badgered when the kids could barely afford to support their own children," he explained.
Applying for medical assistance under Title 19 will require only the signing of an affidavit, instead of the lengthy, expensive investigation now required for applicants for public assistance.
"All in all, you'll have one standard for the medically indigent and another for welfare recipients," Mr. Loucheim said. "It can't make sense for long, having two standards."
In other words if certain conditions are applicable for medical assistance, officials say, there is no reason why they should not be applicable to all kinds of welfare aid.
Both Washington and Albany are bracing themselves for the Pandora's Box that Title 19 promises to open. Commissioner Wyman [of New York] said in a recent interview:
"Believe me, Medicare will be peanuts compared to this -- both in problems and promise."
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Although Fund Raising and Public Relations were billed as a single area, the COMSTAC committee dealt with them as separate items, including a report on each in a single booklet. The common introduction states that "Public relations and fund-raising are closely inter-related." It goes on to say that the success of one affects the other, and that the techniques used are markedly similar. They then separate and consider the specifics of each. The present article will consider only public relations. The standards have a glaring fault: a cringing, hat-in-hand approach to the subject. Even when they are making bold statements to the effect that these are vital parts of the function of any agency, the emphasis (the attitudes of custodialism are hard to break even when the content changes) is on the care and treatment of the fickle public, not on the ways to make the public stand up and take notice. The emphasis is entirely on how to make the agency as the public wants it not how the agency knows it should be, and how to bring the public along. Nothing is said about how to show the public the true nature of blindness. The attitude is a destructive plea for tolerance for the helpless blind rather than a constructive notion of correcting and enhancing public knowledge of the capabilities of the blind.
The second major fault with the Standards on Public Relations (a fault, indeed, which tends to run through all the COMSTAC reports) is that they contain a sketchy discussion of the function involved followed by detailed instructions in the organization of the department. A whimsically rigid structure is imposed on a milquetoast function. There must be a standing public relations committee in the governing board complete with chairman. There must be a standing fund raising committee in the governing board, also complete with chariman. These committees make a formal budget, policies (in writing, it is imagined, but not stated), and an annual review and evaluation. The director assumes staff responsibility for implementing the programs, aided by the qualified staff. The staff conducts the programs "within the framework of the policies established by the board. " The final standard gives the qualifications for the respective staff person or people. As has been observed in other standards proposed by COMSTAC committees, the detailed qualifications for these staff people are entirely academic, with no consideration of understanding, drive or dedication to the field of work with the blind.
The opening statement of the introduction sets the tone: "Public relations is the function of agency management that identifies the policies and programs of an organization with the public interest and carries out a plan of action to earn understanding and support." Which might be paraphrased: Public relations is the function of agency management that goes meekly to the public and says "Please understand that we are trying to do a good job. Help us help the helpless blind." What has happened to such words as "influence", "change", or "create?" The purpose of public relations is more than a passive attempt to gain understanding and get the public to allow an agency to work. It should be, rather, an attempt to influence the public, to change its belief in the helplessness of the blind, and create the proper image of the blind as able to compete on terms of full equality with their sighted neighbors. The committee report perpetuates the notion of the inequality of the blind.
Later in the introduction it is stated: "An agency must strive to be understandable and supportable . . . public attitudes and public opinions must be taken into consideration. " Taken into consideration, yes. But in light of the former statement, this can only be interpreted to mean ". . . and kowtowed to." Rather, current public opinion can only be taken into consideration as the starting point for any public relations effort. It is vital accurately to assess the current status of public opinion to know where to begin changing public opinion, but not where to begin accepting it when it is wrong.
On reading, the reason for the timid attitude of the public relations committee becomes obvious. It is revealed throughout the standards by small words and phrases, such as this in Standard 2.2: "... the positive, hopeful and constructive aspects related to blind persons ... are emphasized." What is meant by hopeful? Hope that the blind persons can be trained to take care of themselves? Again in Standard 2.5, speaking of dramatization of stories about blind persons: ". . . blind persons are not portrayed as wholly helpless and dependent. " What a negative statement in positive clothing Yet it seems that the COMSTAC framers can write no other way. Throughout their entire complex of standards the attitude is the same, one of codification of the non-essential structures and the discouragement of constructive work with the blind, based on their own disbelief, all protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. Take only the word "wholly " from the COMSTAC sentence and what a difference it makes!
Yet they could not bring themselves to do it. And these are the standards for "improvement of Agencies for the Blind.
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Al Wesling Letter
Dear Dr. tenBroek:
Instead of exchanging small gifts amongst the members of the Inland Empire Chapter of C. C. B. this past Christmas, we decided to collect the money instead and donate it to the new International Federation.
This should have been sent in weeks ago but our treasurer wasn't able to attend our last few meetings -- she was busy getting ready to have another baby. They have elected me to take her place for the coming year. Having established new banking facilities our chapter can now write checks again.
The enclosed check is for $30.50. Twenty dollars and fifty cents of this amount was collected from our members. The other ten dollars is another donation in the name of Alan Dean, who was killed in a small plane crash in Oklahoma just a few days before Thanksgiving.
Alan happened to be an Uncle to my daughters and he had met some of our members here. Consider this contribution as coming from my two daughters, Barbara and Nancy Wesling.
Inland Empire Chapter
California Council of the Blind
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By Charles G. Bennett
(From New York Times, February 15, 1966)
The city's new Welfare Commissioner indicated yesterday that he might consider requiring relief recipients to perform some service for the city.
Mitchell Irving Ginsberg, until a few days ago associate dean of the Columbia University School of Social Work, was sworn into his new post yesterday morning by Mayor Lindsay.
The ceremony in the high-ceilinged chamber of The Board of Estimate was a combination swearing-in and news conference, with the new Commissioner subjected to a barrage of questions from newsmen banked in the front pew -like seats. He had a direct answer to about every query.
Mr. Ginsberg said he was determined to see that some changes were made in the Welfare Department and in "welfare generally," although he had no "blueprint" yet. Changes in the department, he said, are long overdue.
On another controversial welfare issue, that of requiring local residence for a minimum period to qualify for relief, Mr. Ginsberg asserted: "I am unalterably opposed to a residency requirement."
Asked for his reason, the Commissioner shot back: "People in this country have a right to move from one place to another."
When asked if he would consider putting people to work in return for their welfare allotments, Mr. Ginsberg replied: "My conception of this job is that there isn't anything I wouldn't consider. I am willing to test out all kinds of solutions."
The city of Newburgh, N.Y., became the center of a nationwide controversy a few years ago when its City Manager sought several reforms, including one requiring welfare clients to perform menial tasks in exchange for public aid.
Mr. Ginsberg's interim predecessor, Acting Welfare Commissioner Philip Sokol, reported last Jan. 17 that only about 13 per cent of the 500,000 persons on relief rolls here were employable. Children mike up 60 percent of those on relief and many of the others are elderly, physically handicapped or emotionally disturbed.
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John F. Nagle, chief of the Washington office of the National Federation of the Blind, was the subject of a lengthy feature article published in the Springfield (Massachusetts) SUNDAY REPUBLICAN, February 6, 1966.
The article displayed a photo of Nagle accepting a pen from President Johnson on the occasion of the President's signing of the White Cane Safety Day Proclamation.
"Among the many who labored on the passage of the Medicare Bill was a former Springfield Lawyer possessed of that farsighted vision which is a necessary attribute to men who attain to that higher goal of life: helping their fellow men," the newspaper stated.
It was pointed out that Nagle, in his capacity as NFB Washington representative, "has been instrumental in the preparation and presentation to Congress of a great amount of the constructive legislation affecting the welfare of the blind enacted in recent years."
A friend from Nagle's college days. Judge Socartes Geanacopoulos, recalled that John "was famous at the school (Northeastern College) as a walking encyclopedia on baseball. You could fire a question at him and the answer was always ready. As I remember him in those days, his spirit, his enthusiasm, and his
outlook on life were always of the highest order."
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By Noel Lieberman
(From Oakland Tribune, February 20, 1966)
Communication is the spice of making lasting friendships.
But David can't communicate.
He has a severe case of cerebral palsy.
He can't talk or walk or feed or care for himself. And he is unable to move his arms or legs.
Only after a strenuous effort and intense concentration can he move his head to indicate "yes" or "no."
Until recently, David, 22, had missed out on the everyday thrill of exchanging ideas to cement close relationships. But now he's learning how to communicate -- and he, too, is making fast friends.
He's learning through a Morse Code "ham" radio class set up two months ago at the Recreation Center for the Handicapped in San Francisco's Fleishhacker Pool Building. He communicates by laboriously tapping his chin against a telegraph key attached to a board in front of him.
He eventually hopes to send Morse Code messages over the air to persons with similar handicaps.
And all this has made him exuberant.
"It seems to have changed his whole outlook on life," said Gary Standiford, 26, a center aide who originated the idea for the class.
"He used to be a very ingoing person," Standiford said. "But he's coming out of his shell now and showing he has very definite feelings and ideas.
"He had never talked in his entire life. But now he has real things to say. We are discovering that he has a very active mind inside his non-functional body and that he wants to talk to people.
"Every time he comes out to the center he spends four to five hours studying Morse Code. He has also brought some of the books home with him and he's learning very rapidly."
Through the course, David already has made close friends with Al, 24, a basically outgoing type who also is unable to speak because of cerebral palsy. Despite the difference in their personalities, their friendship has become a "natural," based on a common handicap -- and the ability to communicate.
Al, the center's best chess player, has to be strapped into his wheelchair. But he cheerfully pokes a telegraph key on a neckpiece with his chin to "talk" to his pal. . . .
Right now, Standiford is teaching 23 teen-agers and 23 adults with various handicaps Morse Code through the use of huge rote cards. After this process, he will switch over to a tape recorder to increase speed of understanding.
The next step will be to teach the students how to transmit over the air. . . .
Standiford, who learned Morse Code in the Army, eventually plans to establish an international handicappers network in which those participating can communicate with handicapped "hams" all over the nation and world. It would be the first such network to emanate from any recreation center and the first one from Northern California. . . .
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The Library report (labeled "Preliminary Draft, August, 1965") contains thirty-seven pages and consists of an introduction; principles underlying the federal level of service standards for various types of agencies; and standards relating to equipment and building.
There are three principal problems with these standards -- they reflect a negative philosophy; they are excessively rigid; they involve local and state libraries in ways that are inappropriate and would weaken and dilute library service for blind people.
The negative philosophy is all pervasive. One is forced to the conclusion that the Committee does not believe in the capabilities of blind people; that it does not believe they can function as independent self-supporting members of the community: that it does not believe they are just people
Some of the philosophical implications of the report are by no means overt, being delicate and, no doubt, unconscious nuances.
Consider this: sentence II of the introduction states, "these needs [needs which reading can satisfy] exist in even greater degree for the blind reader because he is deprived of a faculty which is basic to communication between him and his world in many ways besides reading." Can this assumption be verified? How can the blind possibly have a greater need for reading than that possessed by the sighted? Reading is basic to the existence of civilization. The implication is extremely significant. It is that the blind are not able to compete and communicate on equal terms with others in the regular work-a-day world; that reading can be used as a substitute and a sublimation.
These are not isolated instances. At the beginning of page 2 appears the statement, "although many blind people travel as freely as sighted people, it must be recognized that for others, blindness imposes some restrictions on physical mobility." Do all sighted people travel with equal facility? Of course not. Some are athletic and muscular; others are feeble with age; still others are victims of polio and walk with braces. Some cannot walk at all. In any case, the fact that a number of blind people have poor mobility has no relevance in the development of library service. The tone of this statement has negative not positive implications, and its total effect is to create faults instead of a true impression. If we are to have library standards for the blind at all, their tenor should be positive; and emphasis constructive and their philosophy true.
If one might be accused of being "picky" in exposing the weaknesses of the philosophy of the library standards, he would certainly not be subject to the same accusation in pointing out the inadequacy of the requirements concerning duties of staff and patterns of staffing. The Committee's report is so rigid and arbitrary that it
must almost be read to be believed. For example, on page 21, under staffing pattern, the report specifies, "6. Every state of regional library has at least one Secretary for the Administrative Librarian for the Blind. This secretary: 6.1 Handles the work load of mail and telephone calls. 6.2 Is responsible for correspondence and other files." Why outline precisely what the secretary should do? What if some particular library should find it more efficient to have one "clerk" (she might be called that instead of secretary) handle mail and another answer the phone? It is laughable to require that "Every state or regional library shall have a Custodian who, besides his usual duties, is responsible for vacuuming the braille and tape collection." And what, one might ask, of the talking books? Suppose some method other than vacuuming should be used. Suppose someone other than the custodian can be better employed in keeping the books clean. Surely such straight-jacket requirements service no good purpose! In this connection it is interesting to note that standards for public libraries do not have specific job patterns outlined and if it should be objected that the standards really do not mean what they say, one can only reply that such an admission would be equally damning.
Finally, one cannot help but view with amazement the sections dealing with state and local libraries. The Committee would inject the state libraries into the program for the blind. In some instances this is an excellent arrangement. But again the rigidity seems obstructive and pointless. There is certainly a need for the Division for the Blind of the Library of Congress, and there is also a need for the regional libraries for the blind throughout the country. But the regional library need not be connected with the state library. In some instances the regional library may function as a part of rehabilitation or another agency for the blind. Such in fact is now the case in more than one part of the country. In other instances the regional library may function as part of a city library system, as is now the case in Philadelphia, Seattle, New York, etc. In all of these instances it could only add bureaucracy and confusion to inject the state library into the picture as any sort of link or liaison between the regional library and the Division for the Blind of the Library of Congress.
It is even more difficult to understand why the Committee would want to inject local libraries into the picture. It would have each local library involve itself in the program for the blind, providing a variety of services and having a good deal of specialized equipment and material, especially in towns or cities of any size. Not only would this lead to inefficiency of service, but it would utilize available resources in needless and pointless duplication, leaving less money available to build the book collections and enhance the resources of the regional libraries.
Perhaps one cannot emphasize enough the statement by Gerald W. Johnson in the introduction to Public Library Service: "It is the business of the . . . [library] to keep the door open and to see that no stumbling block lies in the way of those who would enter. Anything that contributes to this end is good library practice; anything that blocks is bad ..." It can only be regretted that the Committee did not spend part of its time reflecting upon these words instead of writing detailed job descriptions. It might have portended a brighter future for the blind of the nation and libraries established to serve them.
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(From Daily Journal, January 18, 1966)
Colonia -- After waiting more than a year and a half, James B. Gibbons III, 24, is being given the chance to prove he can be a useful member of society.
Unable to get a job since graduating in June 1964 from Rutgers University as an electrical engineer because of his blindness, he starts working tomorrow at the Eclipse Pioneer Division of Bendix Corp. in Teterboro.
He will have the title of junior project engineer, a starting salary of $650 a month and most important of all, do the work for which he was trained.
With little hope of getting to do what he wanted, James enrolled in November in the Electronic Computer Programming Institute in Hartford, Conn., for which only a high school diploma was required.
A story about James in T he Daily Journal last month struck a responsive chord in Mrs. William Kraynak of Clark who set about collecting hundreds of signatures to a letter she presented to Rep. Florence P. Dwyer of Elizabeth, asking for her help.
A friend of James', Arthur Lawler of Colonia, had arranged an interview at Bendix. Nothing definite came of it but James was called in for a second interview and then a third was lined up. Knowing of this Mrs. Dwyer pointed out President Johnson's interest in finding employment for the physically handicapped.
James landed the job, Mrs. Dwyer reported, "strictly on the basis of his qualifications" and she commended management for showing the interest James was unable to stimulate elsewhere.
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The Swedish Association of the Blind (DBF), an organization of the blind themselves, is the center of a broad variety of welfare and employment activities for Sweden's 15,000 blind people, according to a recent DBF publication, Founded in 1889, the nationwide organization is the oldest group dealing with thehandicapped in Sweden. Its principal aim is "to eliminate misunderstanding of the blind by the sighted through information, education, and by means of technical aids. Practical suggestions of all kinds to guide the authorities are the main tasks and a great number of important initiatives have been taken in the course of the years."
The DBF publication declares that "Today the aim of blind welfare is rehabilitation in all respects." The main facilities for rehabilitation are said to be centered in four schools for visually handicapped adults in four major cities. "The school subjects include rehabilitation (cane technique, mastering various situations that involve problems for the blind as for example ordinary table manners, personal hygiene, etc.), learning braille, typing, hygiene, and social science. . . . The rehabilitation course may last up to nine months. There are further vocational training possibilities for metal workers, brush-binders, basket-makers, weavers, piano tuners, clerks, etc."
Conceding that "public blind welfare still leaves much to be desired," the DBF publication describes the operation of its own sheltered workshop, the Technical Factory of the Blind located near Stockholm. The 30 blind persons at work in the factory "are union organized and their wages paid according to contract," and the firm operates without public support as a competitive commerical enterprise. Its products, manufactured through modern, largely automatic mechanical facilities, "include 50 floor washing and cleansing agents" sold directly to major stores and firms throughout the country.
Among other major activities carried on by the Swedish Association of the Blind are the publication of numerous journals and periodicals in its own braille printing plant and in inkprint; the operation of a braille and talking book library, organized consultant activities with blind persons and organizations, and a variety of educational and informational services. The organization operates a number of recreational and therapeutic vacation resorts for the blind across the country.
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A unique and influential symposium of scholars and experts on the law of the poor was held at the University of California in Berkeley February 17 through 19, 1966. Organized and chaired by Professor Jacobus tenBroek of the U.C. political science department, the conference brought together nearly 40 persons from the fields of law, social science and public welfare to discuss 18 separate monographs dealing with various aspects of poverty and the law.
The conference was jointly sponsored by the University of California's Center for the Study of Law and Society; the California State Department of Social Welfare, and the National Federation of the Blind.
Among the papers presented to the conference was a lengthy analysis of "The Legal and Constitutional Status of the Physically Disabled," jointly written by Professor tenBroek and Professor Floyd Matson of the University of Hawaii. Dr. tenBroek is the founder and president emeritus of the National Federation of the Blind, and now president of the International Federation of the Blind.
The Berkeley conference was the outgrowth of recent developments indicating a new awareness on the part of government and of learned professions of the social problems of poverty and dependency. Following on the heels of large-scale meetings held by the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, the Berkeley symposium was called to conduct a critical review of present rules, procedures and practices of the law of the poor as these are found in welfare laws and public programs.
During the three-day sessions, conference participants ranged widely over such issues as unconstitutional conditions in welfare; the constitutionality of residence tests; the connections of race and poverty; public housing; the right of privacy; vagrancy concepts in welfare; the status of the mentally handicapped; the legal relations of landlord and tenant as they apply to the poor, and others.
The conference proceedings -- to be published in the May 1966 issue of the California Law Review and subsequently as a paperbound book by the Chandler Publishing Company -- are expected to bring increased awareness of the importance of the law of the poor as a new field of study to the legal profession, law schools and social scientists generally. It is also hoped that the discussions may provide a foundation of systematic analysis and scholarship for use of lawyers and the courts in deciding cases in the field, and also for the use of legislators and welfare administrators in the conduct of public policy.
Participants in the Berkeley conference who contributed papers for discussion are: Mr. Albert M. Bendich, University of California; Professor Woodrow W. Borah, University of California; Professor Joseph Scott Briar, University of California; Professor Bernard L. Diamond, University of California; Mr. Forest Dill, University of California; Professor Albert A. Ehrenzweig, University of California; Professor Lawrence M. Friedman, University of Wisconsin; Professor Joel F. Handler,University of Wisconsin; Professor Bernard E. Harvith, New York University; Professor Herma H. Kay, University of California; Professor Thomas P. Lewis, University of Minnesota; Professor Robert J. Levy, University of Minnesota; Professor Floyd Matson, University of Hawaii; The Honorable Loren Miller, Judge of Municipal Court, Los Angeles, California; Professor Robert O'Neil, University of California; Professor Monrad Paulsen, Columbia University; Dr. Irving Phillips, University of California School of Medicine; Professor Margaret K. Rosenheim, University of Chicago; Mr. Carl Schier, University of Detroit; Professor Jacobus tenBroek, University of California; Mr. John Wedemeyer, California State Department of Social Welfare; Professor Henry Weihofen, University of New Mexico; Professor Sherburne F. Cook, University of California.
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By Abel Silver and Richard Montague
(From New York Post, February 6, 1966)
Even though they may be carrying Blue Cross or other hospital insurance, persons seeking admission to city hospitals are now subject to a "means test" of their financial status, the New York Post learned Saturday.
The test requires prospective patients to prove they are "medically indigent" -- that is, that they would be unable to pay unexpected, heavily burdensome medical expenses which insurance might not cover. They need not be paupers, but merely unable to pay "catastrophic" medical expenses.
The Welfare Department, whose investigators are making the financial checks, insists they are necessary to comply with federal law; specifically, the Social Security Act, under which federal grants are now made to states to pay hospital costs for indigent persons.
But welfare case workers and hospital aides already view the check as "humiliating" and "degrading."
Moreover, they say, the state has not yet set up plans to administer the new grants -- under Title 19 of Social Security. They say the "means test" is only a Welfare Department plan to make certain the city receives reimbursement for giving indigents care.
Under the policy, welfare source said, prospective city hospital patients must undergo investigation even if their hospital insurance is adequate to cover any bills.
Voluntary and private hospitals do not require such a checkup.
It was learned that Mayor Lindsay has asked both the hospitals and Welfare Department to submit reports on the "means test."
As a result of the Social Security changes, which took effect about a month ago, the Welfare Department took over from hospitals the job of determining financial eligibility. Formerly, only nonresidents of New York and those over 65 were required to certify that they were "medically indigent."
Last year, more than $12,000,000 of the $103,000,000 collected by the city for treatment of 261,527 patients was covered by Blue Cross or other hospital insurance.
On Friday, more than 500 welfare workers picketed the Welfare Department to protest the proposed transfer of 250 case-workers from welfare centers to the Bureau of Hospital Care Services, which will handle applications for medical assistance under new state and federal programs for the medically indigent.
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(From New York Times, February 4, 1966)
Washington -- A Presidential commission on automation issued a final report . . . that in effect called for the Government to guarantee every family at least a poverty-level income.
The 14-member commission made this recommendation in a report that concluded that changing technology presented no basic threat to employment if the proper programs were followed to spur economic growth.
It also proposed that the Government finance public service jobs for those still unable to find work.
The commission coupled its program . . . with a call for expansionary policies, emphasizing Government spending and tax cuts, to provide as much employment as possible.
The report was sent to President Johnson and Congress by the National Commission on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress.
The commission was set up by Congress 17 months ago to study the impact of technological change, define areas of need that would benefit from the application of technology, and assess the means for channeling technology in promising directions.
The report's recommendations were in broad terms and the commission did not offer specific legislative proposals. Garth L. Mangum, its executive secretary, said he did not know if the report would lead to new legislation. The White House said only that President Johnson was studying it.
In calling for tax cuts and more Government spending, the committee acknowledged that the Vietnam war "may temporarily drain" resources, but that if it did not, "major attention should be given to public expenditures."
The commission also urged strong efforts to reduce unemployment to at least 3.5 per cent by the start of 1967, despite the inflationary pressures from the Vietnam war and a tighter labor market. . . .
The commission estimated that the Government could logically provide work at the minimum wage for 5.3 million unemployed in such fields as medical care, education, conservation, welfare, public protection, urban renewal and sanitation.
It proposed an initial five-year program, costing an estimated total of $2 billion, to provide 500,000 such jobs.
The commission called for labor and management to equalize fringe benefits among salaried and hourly workers and to pay all workers on a weekly or monthly salary rather than by the hour.
It also proposed a nationwide computerized network to match jobless workers with job vacancies.
The commission called for a vast expansion of community college and education programs, 14 years of free public schooling, funds to make college training available to all qualified students and improved social insurance programs.
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(From Star Ledger, N.J. 1. January 17, 1966)
A booklet about narcotic addiction will soon be available to blind persons in New Jersey.
The booklet, "How You Can Help Prevent Narcotics Addiction was issued several years ago for distribution to sighted persons by the office of Essex County Sheriff LeRoy J. D'Aloia. Through the help of the Motor Club of America, 900,000 copies were distributed.
Lt. Thomas Mueller, author of the booklet and head of the sheriff's narcotics squad, felt that blind persons could also benefit from the document.
Mueller consulted Msgr. Richard M. McGuinness, director of the Mount Carmel Guild for the Blind, and he offer his cooperation.
Mueller sought aid from Jimmy Sofka, a blind man who runs a food concession at the Essex County Court House. Sofka directed him to Newark Councilman Joseph Melillo, who also is blind.
Melillo steered Mueller to the Ironbound Lion's Club where he obtained an immediate donation of $100 and the project was underway.
The booklet itself describes characteristics of various narcotics and their cost. It describes the physical effects of such drugs.
It also discusses the various type of "goofballs" and the effects they have on users and lists symptoms of drug addiction.
Mueller said the money will cover the cost of printing 50 copies of the booklet in Braille.
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Of all the documents which emerged from the Conference of the Committee on Standards and Accreditation of Services for the Blind (COMSTAC) held in New York in November, 1965, none is more dangerous or deceptive than the report produced by the Committee on Standards for Vocational Services. This Committee alleges that the day when most blind workers were relegated to the sheltered shop is over. It raises a voice in opposition to the portrayal of the blind as "broom makers and chair caners. " And it deplores that: "There is still a tendency toward this kind of stereotyping today."
However, while it condemns such short-sighted views, the Committee proposes a regimen of vocational services which not only retains the sheltered shop for employment and training purposes, but which is tailored to fit blind persons who are to be "treated," "trained," and "placed," by properly qualified "professionals." This regimen is cut from the same kind of stereotype cloth that produces the "broom maker-chair caner" concept. At best it is a jump from the fire to the frying pan. The reader of COMSTAC'S report looks in vain for a clear-cut break from the old misconceptions. He looks in vain for some recognition of the concept that blind people are persons who should enjoy the same opportunities as their sighted fellows rather than being objects to be "treated," "trained" and "placed."
The Committee points out that when, in this century, it became obvious that blind persons were employable outside of sheltered shops the "professional workers were charged to think in terms of preparing and placing clients according to each individual's constellation of interests, aptitudes and abilities." At first glance this would seem an improvement, but when one considers that the emphasis is on the professional's doing the preparing and placing, and when one sees the context of that preparing and placing as recommended by COMSTAC'S committee, the program proposed as an improvement over the past holds little promise for the future.
The Committee proposes separate sets of standards for several areas within the category of vocational services, including: vocational counseling, vocational evaluation, pre-vocational training, vocational training, and placement services.
An examination of the standards proposed for vocational evaluation, for pre-vocational and vocational training illustrates the sin of commission on the part of this COMSTAC committee. These standards are replete with references to the notion that the blind person needing these services is some kind of a helpless being, incapable of tying his shoes, or dialing a telephone, and obviously not competent to make his own decisions about his own future . The Committee's apparent unconcern for blind persons entering the professions can be understood when reviewed against the background of the type of vocational services offered. Apparently, blind people must be such a helpless lot that only a very few will escape to the higher reaches, and there is no place for them in the types of programs proposed. Maybe we should establish a separate category for the "exceptional" blind.
Some of the things included in the initial evaluation are: medical diagnosis, psychological, social and educational evaluation, vocational skills and knowledge, independent living skills, mobility evaluation, and basic communication skills evaluation. It is apparent that for the psychological evaluation the victim must undergo a battery of tests so that, as standard 12.1 states: "The record indicates that the clinical appraisal of the client's emotional make up, particularly his self-image, was based on sufficient data. " Why every normal individual who needs vocational services should have a clinical appraisal of his emotional make-up is not explained. In any case, undergoing such a clinical appraisal will do little to convince the client that he can be a regular, competing member of society.
Independent living skills are also assessed in the initial evaluation. This could include everything from tying shoes, changing diapers, slurping soup, going to a movie, to talking a clerk or waiter. Or, as the Committee says, ". . . the demands of everyday living including grooming and personal hygiene, table etiquette, homemaking, housekeeping and shopping, family and social relationships, rearing children, leisure time activities, and personal deportment in public, " That all of these things could be observed--let alone that they should be observed--for the initial evaluation of everyone looking for vocational services before any decision is made regarding prevocational training seems totally infeasible and impractical.
The mobility of the individual and his basic communications skills are also evaluated. One could note here that all of these evaluations are performed by what the Committee calls "professionally qualified personnel," and that the evaluations are put in the case record. In fact, the words "case record contains" occur so often in this report that one has difficulty conceiving of a file large enough to contain all the information this Committee proposes the "case record contains." Since there are so many observations, evaluations, test results and professional recommendations made concerning the client, it should be fairly obvious that what the client himself thinks or wants is going to be smothered under the weight of the "professionals" conclusions.
Apparently, once the initial evaluation is made and a rather large, bulky file has been developed, a decision is made concerning whether the client is to receive prevocational training or whether he can bypass that and go directly to vocational training. Heaven help the individual who goes into prevocational training. At worst he will wind up being evaluated on the job in a sheltered shop--at best he will learn how to be an efficient telephone dialer.
The Committee had difficulty separating the services of initial evaluation from the services of pre-vocational training--as well they might--since most of the items assessed in the initial evaluation are included in prevocational programs. The Committee recognized its difficulty and attempted to develop a way around it. The report says; "Perhaps a distinction between prevocational training and evaluation can actually be made, ..." Vocational evaluation can be conceived of as the initial assessment of the client. Subsequently, in all services rendered, while each have concomitant evaluative aspects, the main goal is "treatment" or "training" or "employment. " The Committee had also said: "Many techniques, such as job try-out, use of standardized samples and work conditioning are employed for diagnostic as well as treatment purposes. " Whether the Committee succeeded in separating prevocational services from initial evaluation is really inconsequential. What is of concern is the language and phraseology employed in the attempt: diagnosis and treatment, doctors and nurses, clinicians and patients. The definition of vocational service must be changing. It formerly had to do with helping individuals find and enjoy employment opportunities. Now it has taken over the "treatment" of those "diagnosed" as defective--in the case of the blind.
The Committee obviously allowed for a great deal of variation in the quality and character of pre-vocational training programs. It says; "Pre-vocational training is carried on in a variety of settings--in sheltered workshops, rehabilitation centers, in a number of experimental and demonstration projects for the handicapped (...) and in secondary and vocational schools. For the blind it is likely to be given in a facility which provides a broad range of services, particularly those of an evaluative or diagnostic nature. " One must note here that this could allow for the lumping of the blind with people having other disabilities, such as the paraplegics, and the deaf. This situation is not at all conducive to successful training for the blind. Also, why does the Committee recognize sheltered workshops as fit places for prevocational training. There is a recognized world of difference in the atmosphere of a sheltered workshop as compared to that of a rehab center. The one is the end of the road; the other is a promise of a beginning. And, since what the Committee proposes as a pre-vocational program is essentially contained in the programs of rehab centers, the Committee could simply have referred to COMSTAC'S report on rehab centers. To that it might have added whatever was needed for emphasis on the vocational aspect--such as training in a variety of job-oriented-skills -- if indeed such need be a part of pre-vocational training.
This Committee says of a pre-vocational program that it ". . . provides training in any or all of the following areas: sensory-motor skills, communication skills, adaptation to job settings, routines and disciplines; and familiarity with a diversified range of work skills and occupations. " It comes up with some real gems in its specific recommendations. To wit, standard 18 says: "The program for developing the effective use of the sense of touch includes training in the identification of size, shape, texture, flexibility, pliability, temperature and other physical characteristics of objects, materials, tools and so on. " Standard 19 relates: "The program for exposure to and developing the effective use of the sense of smell includes training in the recognition of solvents, re-agents, odors associated with stages of food preparation, ingredients in an industrial process, odors associated with work environment and work processes, etc."
It is difficult to conceive of any training being more trivial than this. Picture a group of adults, some of whom may have been or want to be machinists, businessmen, lawyers, typists, housewives or teachers. They sit in a classroom and guess whether a board is 12 inches or 6 inches long, whether the room temperature is 70 or 75 degrees, whether the object in their hands is rectangular or square, whether it is plastic or elastic. They sniff around and detect a difference between cooked cabbage and pumpkin pies, between printer's ink and gasoline, between horse sweat and saddle soap. The reaction to this nonsense by the majority of the "patients" undergoing "treatment" will likely be that they must be pretty helpless, after all, if their highly trained and educated "professional" teacher-doctors really think it necessary to "prescribe" such drivel. Of course, their teachers will have Master's degrees. One wonders, incidentally, if these teachers underwent this nonsense themselves on their way to becoming proper "professionals."
The communications skills training advocated is almost as bad. Standard 23 states: "Training in braille emphasizes shop or business language, job terminology, tools, equipment, processes, etc. " Why should anyone learning braille be limited to so narrow an area as this? People learn to read and to write and then apply these skills in different areas. The blind person who is going to be a machinist might use braille more for his avocation of reading mystery novels. Or--more to the point--the person learning braille in a pre-vocational program may be on the verge of deciding to be an English teacher. Emphasis on business language, job terminology, tools, etc., wouldn't do him much good. Conversely, it could help to limit his confidence in himself to the point where he might start to think that a sheltered shop would be the most appropriate place for him anyway. The Committee recommends the restoration of the handwriting skill as fully as possible. Obviously it would be a lot better to learn how to type! But still worse is standard 27, which states: "A systematic method of using dial and push button telephones is taught." Standard 27. 1 continues with: "Live telephones are used for practice." Imagine a person of average age, of average intelligence and possessed of an average amount of common sense--for such must the average blind person be--sitting in a classroom, being taught by someone with a master's degree in special education how to dial a telephone. What a waste of talent--what an insult to the blind person's intelligence.
There are three types of vocational training proposed in the report. One is institutional or classroom training, one is on-the-job training, and one is a combination of the other two. The Committee recognizes that there are already in existence all kinds of rules, regulations and standards applicable to classroom vocational training and it proposes only to supplement these with a few standards applicable to the blind. These supplemental standards are generally inocuous enough, although they tend to portray the blind person as a kind of babe in the woods. For example, standard 3 says: "Orientation is provided to the buildings, shops . . . etc." Standard 2.3 notes: "When necessary, the staff helps blind persons to arrange for reader services. " Number 4 remarks: "Necessary modifications in the training plans are made in consultation with persons knowledgeable in the training methods for the blind." This type of useless material is actually harmful to the extend that it illustrates that the blind person is being considered as a completely incapable person to be "trained," instead of just another fellow receiving training in a vocational program of his choice, who can make whatever arrangements he needs to make because of his blindness.
In its consideration of on-the-job training-apprenticeship, the Committee also found that there are in existence sufficient apprenticeship standards to which it might append some things applicable to blind persons. These appendages repeat the business of "necessary modifications" and "orientation is provided" in the same words we've quoted earlier, except that now they are listed as standards 10.2 and 10.3 instead of standards 3 and 4.
There is a considerable amount of redundancy in the standards for placement, as there is throughout the entire report. Unfortunately, most of the repetition emphasizes the importance of the "professional's" part in placement. Little thought is given to the idea that the blind person should have some say about what is right for him. Standard 2, for example, says: "Job placement is in conformity with a written plan cooperatively developed by the client and a professional staff member of an agency. " Standard 2. 1 continues with: "The plan is formulated after a comprehensive and ongoing study of that client." Standard 5.2 reads: "The clients case record contains information clearly specifying any agreements made between the placement worker and the employer relative to the client's employment." We can only conclude from these comments that the blind person is treated as a kind of guinea pig to be studied by a "professional" who then decides what category in which to place his client. The emphasis is even on agreement between the placement worker and the employer rather than an agreement between employer and employee.
Can COMSTAC not realize that much of what it recommends is irrelevant to the average person? Very few people in the job market find it necessary to undergo all this intensive diagnostic and evaluative procedure. Most people learn these things just as an ordinary part of living. Why then are these procedures considered necessary and proper in the training and placement services for blind persons.
We can conclude this review by outlining the program that might be followed by the blind person who comes to COMSTAC for vocational help. He will undergo an initial vocational evaluation. He will be tested, measured, analyzed and finally categorized; If he is fortunate he will go on to vocational training which might be given him in anything from a sheltered shop to a two year technical program at a junior college. If he is unfortunate enough to be assigned to prevocational training he will learn how to smell, touch, comb his hair and dial a telephone. Then he too may move on to a sheltered shop (in fact he might have his prevocational training in the sheltered shop or one floor up from it). If he goes to a sheltered shop the atmosphere there will probably snuff out whatever notions he may have had about the blind being competitively employable. He will find the wages minimal and the supervision custodial. Or, he may be exceptional enough to take his vocational training in a regular, competitive atmosphere. Even so he won't be one of the regular fellows, for his file will continue to grow, and he will be diagnosed and treated for whatever ailments his "professional" teachers decide he has. Having survived his vocational training the poor fellow may either be graduated to a permanent job in the sheltered shop or he may be placed in competitive employment on the basis of some agreement made between his counselor and employer. In any case, whatever treatment he receives will be properly "professional, " and he can rest assured that it will be recorded in written form in his case record forever.
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The Association of Blind Citizens and Club of New South Wales, numbering 500 blind men and women spread over the Australian state, marked its 55th anniversary recently with an annual report detailing its activities and future objectives.
Noting that "those days of 1910 were days of great oppression of blind people and of little hope of better things to come, " the report observed that the Association was formed by a small group of blind persons "drawn together by common fundamental needs, by a burning desire to rescue blind people from this sorry state and to make a better way of life for succeeding generations. They also wanted this organization to belong to and represent blind people."
Among the achievements of the organization was listed the passage of a flat pension without means test: "With kindred organizations throughout the Commonwealth we urged the government to accept the premise that the pension should be a compensation for our handicap and should not be subject to the means test which was destructive to the blind person's initiative and left him economically worse off than his fellow workers, as it costs a blind person more to live than other people. After many years the government acknowledged these facts and abolished the means test, thus relieving the economic position of many blind people."
With respect to education, the report of the Australian blind group voiced strong support for "government control of the education of blind children in preference to charitable institutions " Pointing to a school for deaf and blind children under the control of a charitable board, the publication asserted: "Charitable institutions committed to the raising of large sums of money to maintain these schools live to use means to win public support. There is grave danger here that the child's rights will become subservient to his blindness which is paraded. Thus, his education seems to be less his right, and more an act of public charity. The government has the responsibility to see that blind children, the future citizens of this state, are not sacrificed in this way, and should be able to exercise some restraint over those bodies which follow this line of deliberate intent."
The report singled out the popular attitudes and prejudices of Australians toward blindness as a major obstacle to improvement of the condition of the blind. "Our Australian cultural concept of blindness and blind people, is charged with fear, bewilderment and with an almost endless array of deliberately cultivated misconceptions, varying from the possession of magical gifts, such as sixth sense,... to a lengthy catalogue of myths, some of what declare that blindness and musical gifts are contingent; that blind people count their steps when traveling; that they live in perpetual darkness; that they must be separated from their fellow men because they 'are different' and live under a different social system to their fellow countrymen. . . they must be socially segregated.
"So grotesque has the public image of blind people become that their 'moral nature' or the human personality is lost to view and hence their rights are likewise withdrawn as 'no longer applicable," the report declared.
The Association's publication described the operations of its own rehabilitation center, Shirley House, located in a suburb of Sydney, where 60 blind adults attend classes in typing, plastic weaving, knitting and leather work.
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(From New York World-Telegram and Sun. February 10, 1966)
Washington -- Birth-control pills may turn out to prevent blindness as well as pregnancy, four Boston doctors reported today.
In tests on 20 men and women, age 56 to 78, the doctors found "suggestive but not conclusive evidence" that such pills "may prove of therapeutic value in some cases of open-angle glaucoma."
This is a simple, chronic hardening of the eyeball which many persons past 40 develop. Unless controlled, it can lead to blindness.
The doctors at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary emphasized it is too soon to claim anything. But, they said, their studies indicate that birth-control pills may help reduce dangerous tension in the eyeball and might even permit some serious glaucoma cases to escape surgery.
In their tests the doctors prescribed the birth-control pills, Enovid and Enovid-E, to the patients daily for two to 12 weeks.
The doctors said the eyeball tension seems to start easing after a patient has been on the pill for two or three weeks.
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The Ohio Council Bulletin reports that Joe Sullivan, a blind Ohioan, has been promoted to Supervisor of Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind in the Toledo District.
The Jewish Braille Review reports a story from the New York Times that a Philadelphia Museum has established a Tactile Learning Center for students at Overbrook and others. The Center contains three-dimensional objects of science, industry, and plant and human life. Some of these, such as a model of a spider web, constructed from heavy thread, have been developed by its curator, Mrs. Elizabeth Freund. Even President Johnson participated in obtaining a stuffed armadillo (a native of Texas) from the Smithsonian Institute for the Center. Although some other museums have developed similar exhibits, we feel that these should be expanded and that much of the time and money that goes into fragrance gardens would be wisely used for such projects.
The convention of the Virginia Federation of the Blind is scheduled for April 22 to 24 at the Holiday Inn at Harrisonburg.
The spring convention of the California Council of the Blind is set for May 6 to 8 in Oakland at the Hotel Leamington.
Pauline Gomez, former president of New Mexico Federation, was recently installed as President of Nells Girls Service Club of Santa Fe.
We are indebted to the Montana Observer for an account of the best selling books of Children's Poems written by Miss Mabel Wenslick, a blind Montana resident of Polston. Her book, written under the pen name of Virginia Jameson, is entitled "True Christmas Poems for Children" and sells for $1.00.
From the AP, Phoenix, Ariz., February 17, 1966: By state law, up to $100 may be paid from the state welfare funds for "reasonable funeral expenses" of those on old age or blind assistance.
The Iowa Association of the Blind will hold its annual convention at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, Iowa, on June 3 to 5. First meal will be served on Thursday evening, June 2. Rates are $2.25 a day plus $2.00 dues. This is an election year so a good crowd is desired. The banquet will be held on Saturday evening, June 4 at Cedar Rapids, with tickets at $3.25. Transportation to the banquet will be free.
The National Church Conference of the Blind will hold its annual meeting at the St. Nicholas Hotel in Springfield, 111, July 25 through 28. Rates are single rooms $7.50, double $9.00, Twins $10.50. Dr. W. L, Muncy of St. Louis, Mo., will be the Bible teacher. Due to a donation, room rates will be about $1.00 a night cheaper than quoted by the hotel.
From the I. A. B. Bulletin: Randall Koepp, who graduated from I. B. S. S. S, in 1958, a licensed apprentice embalmer, has joined the Steine Funeral Home as a funeral director in his home town of Decorah. He studied two years at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, and one year at the Wisconsin Institute of Mortuary Science in Milwaukee, where he graduated last July 23.
Some quotable quotes from the I. A. B. Bulletin: "He who has a sharp tongue cuts his own throat. "Mud thrown is ground lost."
"A tree never hits a car except in self-defense. ""Only the one who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat. "
From the Assoc. Blind (N.J. ) Advance: A resolution asking Governor Richard Hughes, and Mercer County legislators, to scale any proposed state income tax so it will not impose a financial burden on blind and other low income workers, is being readied by the Trenton Association of the Blind.
From Alice Johnson, Colorado Federation of the Blind: In a recent issue of the Rocky Mountain News there was a very good picture of our president, Ray McGeorge, presenting the new Thermo Form Machine purchased by the Denver Area Association of the Blind to Mrs. Helen Hubman of the Mile High Chapter of the Red Cross.
At our January meeting Mrs. Hubman gave us a summation of her braille transcribing and teaching.
Helen Hubman is Chairman of Braille services of the Mile High Chapter of the Red Cross as well as the secretary of Braille services of this group. Within the last two years the Denver Area Association purchased a braille writer for her.
Mrs. Hubman and her transcribers are doing an important job reparing text books for the many blind students attending our public schools.
The course in transcribing takes nine months and only about two out of ten finish to become certified transcribers. Quite often it seems the road to becoming a certified transcriber is paved with good intentions rather than with braille pages.
From the UPI, Cambridge, Mass., January 5, 1966. A blind Cambridge man with a gun he didn't know was loaded was found guilty Tuesday of illegal possession of a firearm and fined $10 by District Court Judge M. Edward Viola.
The defendent, Larry Van Waters, 34, who appeared in court with a seeing-eye dog, had pleaded innocent.
Cambridge Patrolmen Joseph McCarthy and Arthur Yetman said they arrested Van Waters after a tussle on a landing outside his apartment early Christmas Day.
Van Waters said he had been annoyed by knocks on his door and didn't realize McCarthy and Yetman were police when they grappled with him.
A few months ago, the members of the Jewish Blind Societies of France and England met in Bournemouth, England. These young adults spent a long week-end in discussions and social acitivities which improved their understanding of the problems of the blind in both countries.
Kenneth N. Hopkins of Iowa City, Iowa, has been appointed Director of the 1966 Summer School for the Adult Blind conducted by the Montana Association for the Blind.
The Montana Observer also reports that President Persha and Delos Kelley were elected to be MAB's delegates to this summer's Louisville Convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
Keith Denton has been appointed state legislative chairman of the MAB.
A Concurrent Resolution: Expressing the sympathy of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina to the family of the late James Boyd (Jack) Morrison upon his recent passing.
Whereas, The General Assembly has learned with deep sorrow of the passing of James Boyd (Jack) Morrison; and
Whereas, the citizens of this State have lost a person truly dedicated to helping the blind as was evidenced by his many activities in this field, which included past presidency of The Aurora Club of the Blind and former membership on the Board of Directors of the Association of the Blind; and
Whereas, the members of the General Assembly fondly recall their past relationships with Mr. Morrison and his charming wife, Catherine, when they operated a refreshment stand in the Statehouse. Now, Therefore,
Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:
That the General Assembly expresses its deep regret upon the passing of James Boyd (Jack) Morrison and its sincere sympathy to his wife, Catherine, and the other members of his family.
Be it Further Resolved that a copy of this Resolution be forwarded to Mrs. Catherine Barton Morrison.
State of South Carolina In the House of Representatives Columbia, South Carolina February 16th, 1966
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