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
Printed at 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in braille and distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind. President: Kenneth Jernigan, 524 Fourth Street, Des Moines, Iowa, 50309.
Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind.
EDITOR: Perry Sundquist, 4651 Mead Avenue, Sacramento, California, 95822. Associate Editor: Hazel tenBroek, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California, 94708.
News items should be sent to the Editor.
Address changes should be sent to 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California, 94708.
AID TO THE BLIND--A LOOK AHEAD
by Perry Sundquist
ALONG THE WELFARE FRONT
CITIZENS GROUP URGES WELFARE ASSISTANCE BE FEDERALLY DIRECTED
TRENDS OF THE TIMES IN WELFARE
by Thomas M. Brigham
A COMMON STANDARD OF NEED
LIEN PROVISIONS IN AID TO THE BLIND
by Evelyn Weckerly
1969 BRAILLE CALENDARS
BAY STATE CONVENTION
GO, MAN, GO
PROGRESS REPORT: THE NFB AND THE 90TH CONGRESS
HAIL TO TALKING BOOK MONITOR
THREE AURORANS ELECTED TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE ASSOCIATION OF THE BLIND OF SOUTH CAROLINA
NEW HAMPSHIRE CONVENTION
MEET OUR STATE PRESIDENT--KELLY SMITH AND OUR STATE AFFILIATE--ALASKA
by George A. Lafleur
NFB PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON "NEW JOBS"
STUDENT GROUP FORMED IN NEW YORK
PROPOSED VENDING STAND PROVISIONS--A POINT OF VIEW WHICH SHOULD BE HEARD
NFB STUDENT DIVISION IN OHIO
TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATED BY ORGANIZED BLIND OF SPRINGFIELD
HAZEL tenBROEK HONORED
DEADLINE FOR CAMPBELL AWARD NOMINATIONS
NO BLIND JURORS FOR NEW YORKMONITOR MINIATURES
by Perry Sundquist
Today the American people are engaged in an all-out war on poverty. This war really started some thirty-two years ago with the enactment of the Social Security Act. This act is still the chief defense against abject poverty for some 20 million Americans who are receiving Social Security payments. The last line of defense is, of course, Public Assistance, of whom there are some 8 million recipients. Over half of those persons receiving Old Age Assistance in some states also receive some Social Security benefits because the latter are so meager as to make it necessary to supplement these payments with Public Assistance grants.
Today, the war on poverty is refreshing in that it boldly defines poverty in terms of dollar amounts of income. A single person with less than $2,000 annual income is considered impoverished. Of the 350,000 blind persons in the United States, perhaps fully 75 percent would fall in this category.
Before we take a look ahead insofar as Aid to the Blind is concerned, let us take a brief look at the history of this program.
The English Poor Relief System, transplanted to America by the Colonists, was based on the Elizabethan Poor Laws enacted in 1572 and 1601. These old Poor Laws were enacted and administered with two objects in view: The prevention of actual starvation, and a "grim intent to deter vagabondage and dependency through punitive measures." The latter of the two objects was stressed by the overseers of the poor, the theory being that if relief were made sufficiently disagreeable to the recipient, he would, somehow, cease to remain a public charge. The many shameful devices used in caring for the poor led Blackstone, in his celebrated Commentaries, to speak about the "miserable shifts and lame expedients" used in caring for disadvantaged persons. The blind were, of course, part of "the poor."
The breakup of the old Poor Laws was gradually brought about by the withdrawal of various groups of persons from the category of "the poor" and the establishment of a series of public assistance programs enacted to provide more adequate care to these groups of individuals, such as dependent children, the aged, and the blind. Thus, the rise of special categories of aid was attributable directly to the revulsion of the general public against the harshness of the old Poor Laws.
As early as 1830 Indiana enacted a measure "to provide for the support of the indigent blind of this State." Four other states--Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts and Wisconsin--passed similar laws between 1830 and 1909. Six more states entered this field of legislation by 1920, and eleven additional states by 1930. By 1935, when the Social Security Act became law, some twenty-seven states already had enacted special programs of public assistance for their needy blind residents. Today all states have such programs. This cursory glance at the history of public assistance for the blind indicates that the problem of making special economic provisions, of one kind or another, for sightless persons was recognized, if not adequately solved, by many preceding generations.
Tremendous progress has been made through the efforts of the organized blind themselves in perfecting a more adequate program of Aid to the Blind. These advances have come only after long and difficult struggles. Yet it is fair to say that the blind have been the ones to blaze new frontiers in public assistance toward which others are even now but slowly groping. Let us recall these outstanding achievements in terms of forward-looking principles which now form a part of Aid to the Blind programs in one or more of our states, and each marking a step away from the old Poor Laws and some even away from the means test:
1. The theory of a presumed minimum need has been translated into practice through a "floor" to relief below which aid plus non-exempt income cannot go. This has meant a fixed amount to cover basic or minimum needs with provision for an additional grant to meet any special needs a recipient might have.
2. The principle of exempt earned income as an incentive toward self-support.
3. The repeal of residence and lien laws and financial responsibility of relatives.
4. The exemption of property and other resources to provide an initial zone of security as well as further incentive for those able to work toward self-support.
5. An automatic annual increase in the basic amount of aid to reflect increases in the cost of living.
6. Prompt processing of applications for aid and equally prompt payment of aid to those determined eligible.
7. Such humane and traditionally American principles as confidentiality of records, the right to a fair hearing, liberal construction of the statutes, the provision that no one shall dictate how a recipient shall spend the money granted him, no recipient shall be designated a pauper, and that all applicants and recipients have the right to inspect all records relative to their cases.
These basic principles have gone far toward fashioning Aid to the Blind programs into instruments which not only assure a minimum standard of aid but help blind persons to decrease dependency--physical, social, and economic.
Yet we still have for the most part the old means test, the necessity of counting each penny unto the third or fourth generation. How does this holdover from the Elizabethan Poor Laws square with our war on poverty in 1968? It doesn't. Yet today over 82,800 needy blind persons in the United States are under this means test and yet, even after going through its rigors, receive a monthly average grant of only $89.35 in public assistance.
Let's now look closely at some significant material concerning Aid to the Blind in the Nation as a whole.
Except for a period of decline during World War II, the number of recipients of aid increased slowly but rather steadily from the start of the program in 1935 to the end of 1958. Since then there has been a downward movement in the caseload. The total caseload today is about 82,800.
Of all recipients for which age at time of loss of sight was reported, 16 percent were blind at birth and 7 percent lost their sight during the first six years of life. Fifty-five percent lost their sight at some time after their 35th birthday, including 17 percent who were 65 or over when they lost it.
At least one chronic physical or mental condition was reported for 45 percent of the recipients. Most common conditions: heart or artery disease, 13 percent; diabetes, 16 percent; arthritis or rheumatism, 6 percent; mental deficiency or retardation, 5 percent. In addition to blindness, 9 percent of the recipients were reported to be deaf or have a serious hearing impairment; and 8 percent had a defect of limbs, back, spine, or trunk.
The median age of all recipients was 61. 3 years. Forty percent were 65 years of age or over, and only 14 percent were under 40 years of age.
Only 10 percent of all recipients with schooling had graduated from high school; nearly two-thirds had not completed the eighth grade, and 44 percent had fewer than five years of schooling in their life.
Only 8 percent of all recipients of Aid to the Blind are currently employed, which means an unemployment rate of 92 percent!
Some 62 percent of recipients were born in the State in which they draw aid; 23 percent moved into the State in which they are living ten years or more before first receiving public assistance; 7 percent had lived in the State five years or more; 4 percent had lived in the State less than five years. Almost one-third of all recipients have received aid continuously for ten years or more.
Of all Aid to the Blind recipients, only 6.7 percent had some exempt earned income, averaging $57.00 per month for recipients with such income. Recipients across the Nation had an average of only $15.00 of monthly non-exempt income to apply against budgeted requirements. Only 2 percent of all recipients earned in excess of the allowable amount of exempt earned income.
Thus we see that in the Nation the heavy hand of the old Elizabethan Poor Laws concepts bears down hard on the blind recipient of public assistance even in 1968. The core of this system is the so-called means test. What a fertile field, and a desperately needy one, to wage a relentless war against poverty!
The means test has fallen into general disrepute with almost everyone--applicants and recipients, social workers, legislators, the press and the general public. Yet we still cling in public welfare to the costly and slow procedures for determining initial and continuing eligibility by means of office interviews, collateral calls and letters and other types of investigation, home visits, the minute search for income and resources on a case-by-case basis. In fact, most of the time of social welfare staffs is devoted to this elaborate and precise eligibility investigation. Obviously, there is very little time left to provide needed services. And, of course, the one overwhelming by-product of this "eligibility mill" is the demeaning impact which it has on clients, no matter how kind and considerate the workers themselves might be in approaching this process.
Why shouldn't the organized blind of the United States continue to open new frontiers and use their efforts as practical architects in public welfare planning, and practiced artisans in achieving new and forward-looking principles, in public welfare administration--to the possibility of a grant program which might be called an "Allowance for the Blind."
Public interest in the situation of the poor--the Economic Opportunity Act, the awareness of the needs of the poor for services--have led to a new look at our public assistance programs, and whole system, in fact. If some 30 million persons are suffering from poverty in this country, why are only 7 or 8 million Americans receiving public assistance? The answer is the means test, plus the very low standard of assistance worked out for most recipients of public assistance by most of the states. The sound provisions barring durational state residence and setting very limited responsibility of relatives provisions under Title XIX of the Social Security Act (establishing medical care programs for public assistance recipients) are halting steps away from some of the harshest features of the means test.
Congressman Philip Burton of California introduced H. R. 335 in the 90th Congress on January 10, 1967. This bill would amend the Social Security Act to establish a national system of minimum retirement payments for all blind persons aged sixteen and over, all persons sixty-two years of age and older, and all permanently and totally disabled persons eighteen years of age and older. Each of these individuals would receive a guaranteed monthly income equal to the federal minimum wage. At present the Fair Labor Standards Act sets the minimum wage at $1.60 per hour. Based on the current rate of $1.60 an hour, this would mean that were Mr. Burton's bill to be enacted, each blind or disabled or older person would be paid $275 a month less any net income which he was receiving from any source. Payments would be made through the Social Security Administration.
The guaranteed minimum income proposal has several variants. However, all of the plans seek to supplement an individual's income up to a given minimum amount. Another proposal is the so-called "negative income tax," sponsored by a number of leading economists, among them Milton Friedman, President of the American Economic Association. The proposal assumes that a family with three children needs at least $3,000 annually to survive in the United States. Those earning less than $3,000 should receive a payment from the Federal Government, a "negative tax." President Johnson and his Economic Advisors are studying such a plan to replace the present inadequate and varied patterns of relief and welfare payments to the poverty stricken now in existence in this country.
In fact, on January 2, 1968, President Johnson appointed a commission to explore whether, how, and when every American should be provided with a guaranteed income.
The idea was propelled into the spotlight by the report of the Commission on Civil Disorders, released on March 2, 1968. It urged that a federal system of income supplementation be made available to all needy persons.
Also on March 2, the President's Commission on Income Maintenance Programs held its first meeting, unannounced. It named Robert Harris, Economist and former IBM Corporation official, as Executive Director. It directed him to form his staff and go to work.
The guaranteed income idea was generally considered radical or visionary until big city riots and looting spurred the search for solutions to slum tensions and distress. Recently, it has gained a measure of respectability through the endorsements of research groups and business leaders.
This new commission is headed by Ben W. Heineman, Board Chairman of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. The commission hopes to recruit staff rapidly from among the growing number of scholars interested in guaranteed-income proposals. Much work will be done by universities and foundations.
Seventeen of the nineteen commission members attended the first meeting. An array of proposals awaits the commission's analysis of which the "negative income tax" has had greatest attention. Mr. Arjay Miller, Vice Chairman of Ford Motor Company, recently endorsed it in an address to the National Industrial Conference Board in New York.
Mr. Miller's version of the negative income tax would go something like this--a family with no income would receive a basic allowance based on the size of the family. If a family member begins to earn income, the allowance would be reduced automatically by an off-setting tax. But the tax would take away less than the amount earned, so that there always would be an incentive to work and earn. Thus, a family with a member working would always be better working than a family with no bread winner.
Other proposals range from the making of uniform payments to every family, as a matter of right, to payments of so much per child whether the family be rich or poor.
Be it said to the everlasting credit and far-sightedness of the National Federation of the Blind, that this organization sponsored more than twenty years ago the McNary and Angell Bills which would have provided for a national annuity to all blind persons. This is very much the pattern of the Burton Bill. It is obvious that the Burton Bill will not pass the 90th Congress. It probably will not pass the 91st Congress. It falls into the category of a long-range aspiration.
However, it has been the practical policy of the NFB to press for immediate and realizable gains while still keeping in mind long-range aspirations. The organization is sponsoring a series of bills that will bring about some improvement of the lot of the blind. One of those bills is our social security measure which would provide a disability payment for every blind person under sixty-five years of age who had a minimum of six quarters of coverage under social security and who met the commonly accepted definition of economic blindness. This measure passed the United States Senate several times by overwhelming majorities and so obviously it is within reach. True, it will not help all the blind; it will not help some of the most destitute, but it will help many blind and especially, in the future, it will help aged blind.
The NFB does not stop with this social insurance bill. It also has a public assistance bill. That bill would increase the grant and do away with many of the onerous restrictions of the public assistance programs such as responsibility of relatives, residence requirements, the tougher phases of the means test, and so on. Here again, we have a good chance to get some improvements while at the same time still keeping in mind our long-range aspirations such as those embodied in the Burton Bill.
In the field of public assistance or maintenance of income, the NFB is frankly seeking to effect a pincers movement. On the one hand, we are trying to get more and more blind persons included in the social insurances, such as our disability bill would do. On the other hand, we are trying to improve public assistance as it exists today so that it will have many of the desirable features of the social insurances. At some point in time these two lines of attack will meet and we will then have something akin to the Burton Bill.
Let us suggest a modest beginning--since those responsible for leading our current war on poverty have themselves set an annual income of $2,000 for an individual as necessary, this would mean that each blind person who qualifies would receive a flat monthly allowance of about $167. In addition, there should be retained the incentives inherent in the provision of up to $1,500 a year in exempt income from any source, plus the exemption of 50 percent of all income in excess of $1,500. The monthly allowance of $167 less non-exempt income would be automatically increased each year to reflect increases in the cost of living as determined by data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. There should also be provision for over-all adjustments each ten years to reflect changes in standards of living.
A simplified application and investigative procedure should be adopted. The application for aid should contain pertinent data including income and property, and be accompanied by an eye examination report as evidence of economic blindness. The statements contained in both the initial application and the annual reaffirmation of eligibility would constitute prima facie evidence as to the correctness of the statements. These applications and reaffirmations could be filed with the state or county agency just as we now file income tax returns or applications for Social Security payments.
If a person owned property other than his home, this would be expected to yield an income to him of six percent on the market value and that amount would be exempt, together with other income up to the limits specified.
An allowance for the blind, coupled with the provision for any needed medical care, could well be the shape of things to come for all recipients of public assistance, irrespective of the cause of their dependency. Let the organized blind blaze the way, even as they have in the past. Others will follow--and once again, in the broad field of social planning the blind will be the architects of a structure better built to with-stand the ill winds of poverty.
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There is a yeasty character to the bubbling dissatisfactions with present provisions and policies of public welfare which extends across the land. Let's look at some of this ferment--
First, the new Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is urging a broad revision of the whole public welfare system, as follows:
1. A gradually federalized welfare program in which the Federal Government would assume all welfare payments which are now on a federal-state sharing basis.
2. Greatly expanded family planning services.
3. Training and work for those on welfare capable of working.
4. Increased Social Security benefits.
5. A locally-run pre-school program that would start at age four and drop to age three.
Next, there was a furore because Michigan didn't send aid to families with dependent children checks to mothers who participated in the Poor People's March on Washington.
Last January President Johnson stated that the nation's welfare system "pleases no one," and last month Vice President Humphrey said that the next Congress should tackle the problems of income maintenance.
Recently in Chicago the mayors of the nation's large cities urged the Congress to enact a national guaranteed minimum income law. The National Welfare Rights Organization wants a minimum of $4,400 a year for every American family of four, with $500 a year added for each additional member.
In Washington a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee feels that a Federal take-over of the nation's relief programs may be the way to stop the states from shackling the poor to poverty. The Committee member, Martha W. Griffiths of Michigan, believes that the present system is so bad that any change would have to be an improvement. Her Subcommittee finds it hard to locate a single economist or social worker who is opposed to some form of a Federal income-maintenance program.
Wilbur J. Cohen, Secretary of the Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is quoted as saying: "Everybody is agreed that the present welfare system is unsatisfactory; the clients who get the assistance, the people who administer it, the Federal legislators, the state legislators who put up part of the money, the social workers who have a role to play." Mr. Cohen sees as the first step the establishment of a floor to relief. (We wonder if the Secretary is aware that this very proposal has been one of the key legislative proposals of the National Federation of the Blind in Congress after Congress.) Cohen wants more equitable payments among the states, to be set by the Federal Government.
Several witnesses before congressional committees have testified this past summer that the elaborate job-training programs, primarily for those receiving aid to families with dependent children, are a "dead end" street because there are no jobs at the end of the training. There is a growing recognition of the need for some sort of government program of work with the Federal Government being the employer of last resort. This need has long been recognized by the leaders of disadvantaged groups but is now being accepted, albeit reluctantly, by the authorities in public welfare administration.
Before the United Nations Building in New York welfare clients protested, calling the State of New York's "guaranteed income system" a "farce". They demanded the continuance of special grants to meet emergencies, and a 25 percent increase in basic allotments. The welfare groups argued that all of New York City's 840,000 welfare clients must be brought up to minimum standards before any flat-grant system goes into effect.
In New Jersey, at a meeting of the League of Women Voters, it was asserted that there are about 9 million persons receiving public assistance but that there are another 9 million who should be on welfare but are not because of too rigid eligibility requirements imposed by the various states. Outmoded welfare regulations were blamed for breaking up homes and that too many of the menial jobs available to welfare clients are too far away from those forced to live in the ghettos of our cities.
Late in June the Federal Government ordered nineteen states to drop their "man in the home" regulations which denied welfare aid to children because of their mothers' sexual involvements. A new^ regulation also requires the states to notify all families rejected or cut off from aid during the past two years under this rule that they now be eligible for welfare benefits. The regulation implements a U. S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Alabama "man in the home" rule.
Legal aid groups from coast to coast are battling in the courts the efforts of many states to restrict the number eligible for medicaid and the scope of benefits available to the needy.
In California the Council of the Blind successfully led the fight in the legislature against imposition of lien laws and various schemes for reducing grants of aid under the pretext of securing "equitable treatment" and "simplification".
The U. S. Supreme Court has played a growing role in its sweeping decisions to assure fairness in public welfare programs affecting the poor. The next decade may well see a veritable revolution in this field of court interpretation. The welfare system needs complete revision and the courts are beginning to move in those areas where the Congress has failed to act.
The twenty senators on the Special Committee on Aging of the U. S. Senate warn that, as more Americans retire earlier and live longer, they are making a retirement revolution which will compel changes in many public programs — housing, public assistance, health and Social Security benefits.
Thus goes it along the welfare front. The idea of a guaranteed minimum annual income will not be enacted into law this year or even, perhaps, by the next Congress — but don't bet beyond that. In the meantime, we can confidently expect either the Congress or the courts to establish a minimum floor below which public assistance grants cannot sink. There are about 30 million Americans living in poverty today and only 9 million of these are receiving public assistance, inadequate though it be. The most hopeful thing is the ferment which is going on across this broad land--a seething dissatisfaction which will make for progress, not by mincing steps, but through giant strides forward.
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[From the Wall Street Journal, October 14, 1968]
A family of four on welfare in Mississippi receives an average monthly payment of $35, whereas a similar family in New York gets $241.15 a month, a new report on the national welfare problem says.
Such disparity between welfare payments in different states is "an important consideration" in the migration of the unskilled poor to Northern cities from the rural South, according to the Citizens Budget Commission Inc., a New York businessman's group.
It was one of several conclusions in a commission report calling for national standardization of welfare assistance under the direction of the Federal government.
The report notes that the Mississippi family of four could travel from Jackson, Mississippi to New York City by bus for $172--"substantially less" than the difference between Mississippi's payments for one month and New York's payments, which are the highest in the nation.
The commission also concluded that the disparities in levels of welfare assistance among various states is shifting an increasing proportion of the welfare burden to the high-paying states. The ten states with the lowest levels of welfare decreased their share of the National Aid to Dependent Children Program to 19.2 percent last year from 30. 3 percent in 1959, the report said. Conversely, the ten states with the highest assistance levels increased their share of the national welfare payments to 30.1 percent last year from 21.2 percent in 1959.
For example, the report said. New Jersey, which pays $228.65 a month to a family of four, the second highest level in the nation, has experienced a 288 percent increase in its aid-to-dependent-children burden in the past ten years. New York's burden in the period has climbed 197 percent. These two states showed the highest percentage increases in their welfare load.
South Carolina, on the other hand, which ranks 48th in its welfare payments with a $67.55 monthly outlays for a family of four, enjoyed a 31 percent decrease for the same ten-year period in its burden of payments under Aid to Dependent Children.
"Because of these disparities and significant differences in the administration of welfare among the states, there is a critical need for Federalization of welfare standards," the commission's report concluded.
It recommended Congress legislate the amount of welfare payments that each state must make "with due allowance for differences in living costs."
If a state failed to pay welfare assistance at the Federally specified level, or failed "to administer the program without discrimination," then the Government would take over the administration of welfare within that state, according to the commission recommendation.
"Ways would have to be found," the commission said, to make a noncooperating state bear its share of national welfare costs.
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by Thomas M. Brigham
[Editor's Note: The following address was given by Dr. Brigham, Dean of the Graduate School of Social Work at Fresno State College, before the Spring Convention of the California Council of the Blind.]
In the last few weeks two giants have fallen, much to the sorrow of humanity. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Jacobus tenBroek were leaders of world-wide stature. Both were greatly concerned and involved with disadvantaged people and their welfare. Both have left us a legacy of light for the darkness of our times. I stand before you to address this meeting in humility, in reverence to their memories, and with the plea that all of us left will keep up the fight they fought so well.
In the publication Social Work, The Journal of the National Association of Social Workers, current issue. Vol. 13, No. 2, April, 1968, there is a very short article entitled, "Up the Down Escalator with Welfare." This apt title is meant to characterize the recent social security legislation passed by Congress and labeled, incidentally, by Mitchell Ginsberg, human resources administrator of New York City, "The worst welfare bill in history." The same phrase can be used, in general, to characterize one trend which seems evident in Washington and in Sacramento these days, a trend which involved slashing attacks on welfare, health, mental health, corrections, rehabilitation, and education, in short, all people-oriented programs under the guise of saving money and increasing the independence of people. And, not without calculated purpose, in both Washington and Sacramento there has been an attempt to convey the impression that there are, in fact, advances or movements forward in some of this proposed and/or passed legislation.
Since I have a firm conviction that the enemies of welfare will joyfully use the tactic of divide and conquer, I must try to impress upon you the simple fact that attacks on any single program, or any part of one program must be resisted strenuously. Anything that effects AFDC or OAS negatively is to be fought because it will ultimately affect the program for the blind as well.
Let us look briefly at the new federal legislation for clues as to the trend. Two major elements of the bill are a provision setting a ceiling on federal reimbursement to states for assistance payments to children after July 1, 1968 (federal contribution will not exceed that for children carried on the rolls on January 1, 1968) and establishment of work and training programs for AFDC parents along with day care centers for the children. Now this second item looks all right on the surface, but it includes the provision that states determine which adults get training or jobs. Thus, if a mother claims she is not an "appropriate" candidate for work or training, she may be denied welfare benefits. Think of the implications in farm labor areas, especially of the South, when growers need cheap labor. President Johnson, who did not lift a finger to stop this legislation, declared it should be administered with "compassionate safeguards." Hah!
The journal article mentions double standards in viewing the new legislation. For one thing, social security benefits were requested to be increased in minimum payments from $44 to $70 and an increase of 13 percent across-the-board. The bill raised minimums to only $50 but upped the across-the-board increase to 15 percent, thereby once again doing the least for the very poor and giving more to the not-so-poor. The other context in which "double standard" is used is the point that the "worst welfare bill in history" passed "without a public whimper" but the proposal to tax foreign travel resulted in a great explosion and much hue and cry that hasn't diminished yet. Travel agents, airlines, and the rich clearly make more noise than poor people and their friends, if any.
To this audience it should not be necessary to detail the attacks of the present state administration on people programs. Welfare, rehabilitation, mental hospitals, community mental health programs, corrections, education, and medical have all been hit by the cut, squeeze and trim philosophy. On top of direct and indirect approaches have come a series of fraud hearings further focussed on the most disadvantaged groups in our society. I have testified at one of those hearings, read much of the testimony given at some of the others, and have carefully sought out information about fraud in welfare in this state, in other states, and in the country as a whole. The charge of welfare fraud is freely made by ambitious politicians from local supervisors and district attorneys to gubernatorial candidates. The suggestion of fraud, wanton wastrels or worse slopping at the public trough at the taxpayers' expense, is enough to send our respectable middle class citizenry, raised with its rigid puritanical backgrounds, into paroxysms of rage and foaming at the mouth. It has won elections. It has aroused grand juries, newspapers, and district attorneys. But it has never been proven to exist in anything more than minute percentages which are far less than the percentages of people who cheat at their income tax returns.
Who are the most frequent objects of fraud attacks? Is it mere coincidence that the group most often attacked for fraud is the same group which is supported the least well financially by welfare, the same group attacked by the new federal legislation, the same group victimized by local judicial hearings most frequently? We are talking, of course, about dependent children and their mothers. They don't vote and they can't talk back. As the late, great Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, frequently stated, California has two sets of laws, one for welfare people and one for the general public. And, as he pointed out, offenses committed under welfare laws (which may specify a misdemeanor) are frequently tried under criminal law and treated as felonies. Dr. tenBroek pointed out that one county had a law prohibiting sexual intercourse between unmarried people, but it had never been applied to anyone except AFDC mothers and those found with them.
Speaking of double standards as we were a few minutes ago, I would like to mention one more example of this kind of thing. In Fresno County last year over $5 million was paid out to only fourteen ranchers for not growing cotton (one rancher alone received over $2 million). This was welfare, although not called by that name and although no taxpayers' association or politicians were shouting, "Fraud!"
One clear lession of the all-too-successful assaults on the AFDC program is that people who can't vote and can't talk back can get clobbered. Many years ago in California George McLain taught us the lesson of organization and political action to achieve results in welfare programs. We may or may not agree with McLain's purposes and procedures, but he proved organization and political action work.
Returning to trends in California, I do not propose to discuss legislation in any detail with you, because I am not qualified to do so and because your program provides for a proper report on legislation later. Let me simply say that A. B. 361 which would presumably simplify, streamline, and otherwise benefit welfare procedures in California would of course knock out all the hard-fought-for gains of blind people in California. This legislation has been supported by Reagan who also states he will seek administrative ways to "improve" the system of welfare. (Watch out when he wants to improve!) Interestingly, in his speech he mentions that one such administrative effort is the establishment of a special project called Focus in Fresno which will coordinate all federal, state, and local agencies to serve people. This is especially interesting because he wants to establish Focus in Fresno where one year ago he did away with the multi-service center which had just been opened to do the job of coordinating services.
There are additional negative pieces of proposed legislation, several authored by Senator Schmitz of San Diego, about which you will hear more at this program. You will also hear about the legislation to be supported including, notably SB 369, the Model White Cane Law, which would be one of many memorials to Dr. tenBroek in that it would comprise a beginning response to his outstanding article, "The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled in the Law of Torts. " Theme: Integrationism. Let us consider this theme for a few moments and its relation to the civil rights and urban crisis problems.
Before concluding, I would like to mention in passing some additional emerging themes or trends which I see nationally in the field of welfare. One of these is the clear-cut move towards a guaranteed annual income supported, ironically, by both liberal and extremely conservative economists. The current (April 30, 1968) issue of Look magazine contains an excellent article on this subject. I was delighted to receive by pure chance this week notice of a new publication, 851 Blinded Veterans: A Success Story (published by American Foundation for the Blind) which gives some interesting research findings related to this area, namely that, "A guaranteed annual income does not keep blinded veterans from working; rather it seems to offer security that allows them to work and function more effectively."
Another item beginning to emerge more clearly has to do with medical and health care. Non-candidate Rockefeller has just called for compulsory national health insurance. New Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Wilbur Cohen has expressed concern over rising costs of medical care and suggested voluntary restraint with the indication of possible federal action.
But whatever trends may be appearing, one theme is apparent and it is expressed by the official theme of the National Conference of Social Welfare to be held this year in San Francisco at the end of May, "An Action Program for Human Welfare". To create the trends we want, to support the trends which support our views, to fight the anti-welfare trends, we need social and political action. This really is the whole idea of Black Power--that black people need to operate from a position of strength. We may or may not agree with how this is proposed to be done, but the necessity for organized action is clear. Blind people have effectively utilized "blind power" in the past and presumably will continue to do so for all human welfare endeavors.
As social work educators, we have moved from the concept of "enabling" through the concept of "intervention" and towards a (borrowed from the legal profession) concept of "advocacy". To advocate means to support and fight for; this is exactly what needs to be done today. In the words of Edmund Burke, "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
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[Editor's Note: This article, reprinted from the California Council of the Blind's Bulletin, spells out with clarity the imminent dangers confronting the Aid to the Blind programs in every state. For the past several years public welfare groups have been striving with increased vigor to "scramble" all of the adult categorical aids — Aid to the Blind, Old Age Assistance, and Aid to the Disabled, Apparently ease of administration is more important to them than meeting the specific needs of different disadvantaged groups. Also, they are now upgrading so-called "social services" and downgrading the vital importance of a reasonably adequate cash grant for needy persons. In Congress after Congress the National Federation of the Blind has waged a battle to prevent this very thing from happening. The struggle continues and the battle lines are laid out clearly in the following article.]
Since the founding of the California Council of the Blind in 1934, we have sought to make the state programs of aid to the blind a force for rehabilitation in the lives of needy blind persons. In legislature after legislature, we have supported proposals which would reconstitute these programs so that they would offer, not mere subsistence and survival, but a means of achieving restoration to normal, self-sufficient life. Our goal has been rehabilitation, not relief; our purpose has been the encouragement of incentive and initiative, not the smothering of it; the stimulation of the desire for independence and self-help, not the stifling of it.
We blind men and women reject emphatically and unequivocally that dependence upon public assistance is a permanent way of life for many blind persons; given hope, help, and opportunity, not just food, clothing, and shelter, they resume their places as contributors in the community.
On the other hand, to establish a common standard of need in which the aged, blind, and the disabled would be scrambled together into one agency, where the personnel would be all things to all clients; where the distinctive needs of the aged, the blind, and the disabled would be disregarded; where their unique problems could receive little, if any, specialized assistance toward their solution--this would be tragic, indeed.
The problems of the aged are different from those of the blind, and the problems of the disabled are different from both. Each group needs separate and categorical consideration. Each group needs separate and specially trained personnel, informed on the nature of their difficulties and particularly qualified to help toward their solution.
We believe that, if rehabilitation is to be the goal of public assistance--and we firmly believe it should be--then the categorical approach must be retained and strengthened--not abandoned or weakened.
Over the years, as we of the California Council of the Blind have sought by legislative proposals to change Title X of the Social Security Act into a mechanism which would encourage and promote self-help and independence, we have had the constant and concerned help of Congressman Cecil R. King of California, and others. Aware of the benefits which have resulted to blind people in his own state from the liberal, rehabilitatively oriented blind-aid programs. Congressman King has joined with our organization to make these gains available to all the blind of America.
Let's face it! Those who advocate a common standard of assistance this year regard this as a first step toward achieving a single adult category of aid next year.
If a common standard of assistance or a single adult category were to become law--then, every gain made for the blind would be lost. Every statutory improvement intended to aid them in their struggle to live independently would be nullified. The enactment into law of this proposal would serve to dump all of the adult needs into one common welfare pot--and this, however different and distinctive their particular needs and problems; however separate and categorical their individual requirements for specialized services--for specially trained and qualified social workers to provide these services--to help them with their needs, to help them solve their problems and their difficulties.
We protest against this retrogressive approach to social welfare!
It is contended, and perhaps rightly so, that a common standard of assistance, or even of a single adult category, would simplify problems of welfare administration; that it would result in greater efficiency of operation. Bureaucratic convenience or administrative efficiency should not be sufficient reason to abandon the progress made over more than a century in social welfare.
As early as 1830, the state of Indiana enacted a measure to provide for the support of its needy blind residents. In 1935, when the Social Security Act was adopted by Congress, some twenty-seven states already had adopted statutes establishing special programs of public assistance for the needy blind, including California in 1929.
At the present time, three-quarters of the states make separate and special provision for their blind citizens who require help in meeting their basic needs.
These actions by the states are a recognition that the problems and the needs of the blind are different from those of others requiring aid--they are different and distinct from those of the aged, and they are different and distinct from those of the disabled. It is equally true that the needs and the problems of the aged differ from those of the blind — and the difficulties and the requirements of the disabled are also unique and need specialized and separate consideration and treatment.
The man who is eighty-seven without a family and enfeebled; the man who is twenty-three physically fit, vigorous and healthy but blind; the completely paralyzed and bedridden mother of three small children, whose husband is unskilled and earns little--each of these presents a distinct social problem requiring the assistance of experienced, wise, and well-trained personnel to solve.
If the aged, the blind, and the disabled are to be scrambled together in one general administrative heap--if a uniform budget is to be established for all aid applicants without regard for their special categorical needs--if agency rules and regulations are to be applied to all recipients alike as though they had similar needs and problems --if caseloads are to be an indiscriminate mixture of the aged, the blind, and the disabled--and if caseworkers are required to be all things to all clients--then, the high purposes of self-care and self-support will soon be smothered and stifled by generalized administrative treatment, rather than fostered by categorical consideration of the special needs of the blind, the aged, and the disabled. Public welfare for these people will cease to exist as we have known it--as we in California have known it with pride and satisfaction--and it will become merely a paymaster of public funds to public charges--and, though they may be well provided for, though they will neither starve, go naked, nor lack for shelter, they will not be rehabilitated and resume normal, independent, and self-supporting lives--but they will be and they will remain public charges.
If self-support and self-care are to be the attainable goals of public assistance for the blind, then the present categorical approach should be strengthened, not weakened. Adequately meeting the needs of particular groups of disadvantaged persons should be the one major consideration, not simplification of administration which really means uniformity to make the job easier for the administrators!
This proposed scrambling of recipients of Aid to the Blind with recipients of Old Age Security and Aid to the Disabled would mean that the needs of blind persons would largely be lost sight of, making it virtually impossible to carry out the Congressional objectives of Title X of the Social Security Act, and the purpose clauses of Aid to the Blind in California. The argument for the proposal is one of bureaucratic convenience under the name of "simplification", but the assumption which lies behind it is the fallacious one that needy blind men and women are not sufficiently distinct from other disadvantaged groups to be treated separately, in terms of their unique problems and specific needs.
A blind person's needs are as broad as the effects of his blindness and these needs differ significantly in many respects from the needs of other disadvantaged groups. Are the needs of blind persons still in the productive years of life the needs of older citizens who have progressed beyond those years? If so, the objectives of rehabilitation, of retraining, and of economic contribution are pointless. Are the blind to be treated in the same way as the permanently and totally disabled? If so, their hopes for escape from dependency, for the achievement of self-support and competitive acceptance are surely doomed--for their rehabilitation problems are quite different.
Only when there is an opportunity in the administration of Aid to the Blind to deal with the unique needs of blind persons separately can the program objectives be advanced. The immediate and long-range social and economic gains which result from gearing the administration of Aid to the Blind to the reduction of physical, social, and economic dependency certainly far outweigh any considerations with respect to ease of administration or bureaucratic "simplification".
In the evolutionary development of public welfare in America, the special needs of the blind, the aged, and the disabled, their group differences and categorical characteristics, have long been recognized, and the administration of public assistance to these people has been based upon this group or categorical recognition.
Now, however, it is claimed by welfare officials that it is "equitable treatment" to wipe out and utterly disregard the developed experience of public welfare, to ignore the group needs, the categorical differences of the blind, aged, and disabled.
It is now claimed that equity requires that aid to the needy blind, aged, and totally and permanently disabled be administered as though the needs of these distinct groups of people are identical, as though each group has no needs differing from the needs of the other group.
But is efficiency of administration more important than providing people in need with the help they require? Is ease of administration more important than adequacy and suitability of services provided?
We would remind all that the federally-supported state public assistance programs were established, and they are maintained at a cost of billions of dollars annually--not for the convenience of the program administrators. They were established and are maintained at great public expense in order that people who are unable to provide for their own wants will not starve, go naked, or be without shelter in America.
In the categorical programs of aid to the blind, the aged, and the disabled, operated under titles I, X, and XIV of the Social Security Act, it is not only possible, it is usual to recognize and allow for special needs common to a group disability.
The blind may be allowed an additional amount in their aid grant for clothing and grooming, or guide money, or a telephone in the home may be considered essential for them; disabled recipients of aid may be granted an additional allowance for attendant care; the aged may be allowed an amount substantially in excess of the grant to the blind and the disabled that they may be provided with needed special care in a nursing home.
In this state there are ten disabled and twenty-five aged recipients on public assistance for each blind person receiving aid. So, if this state wishes, under a combined plan, to meet the special needs of one blind-aid recipient, it must make the same allowances available to thirty-five aged and disabled recipients. We believe that the cost of this requirement would be so high that the special needs of the blind, aged, and disabled needy would not be met.
Thus, the "common standards" plan will not make special allowances available to all, but will result in denying special allowances to those who, welfare experience has shown over the years, have need for them.
Certainly the leveling effect of the "common standards" plan will not bring up the payments of the aged and disabled to the higher amount available to the blind--but, we believe, the result will be much the reverse--it will result in the reduction of the amount received by the blind.
How is it possible to describe this leveling process--this bulldozer by interpretation--as "equitable treatment"?
Over the years, this state has developed different laws, differing policies and practices, concerned with its three programs of aid for its adult needy--the blind, aged, and disabled.
Not only have there been differing standards of need and payment, of eligibility requirements and extent of payment, but there have developed differences as to resources that can be held (such as a home and cash reserves). Residence qualifications have varied from group to group within the state as have provisions for relatives' responsibility--for allocation of income to dependents. These and other factors have been regarded and treated separately as variable according to the distinctive characteristics of the three aided groups.
The welfare officials contend further, however, that the "common standards" scheme is made necessary to assure "equitable treatment" and "uniformity" for all needy blind, aged, and disabled persons.
But the "common standards" gimmick in the law will not bring about fairness through enforced uniformity; it will only result in stultifying standardization. It will not bring about "equitable treatment" but will only result in the deliberate disregard of the special group needs, the differing and distinctive group needs of the blind, aged, and disabled--needs which are unique to each group and shared by each group because of the very nature of their shared disability.
In the existing categorical programs of aid to the blind, aged, and disabled, operated under titles I, X, and XIV of the Social Security Act, it is not only possible, it is usual to recognize and allow for special needs common to a group disability.
According to the "common standards" theory, however, the blind, aged, and disabled are to be judged in their need for assistance as though their needs were identical--as though their physical, social, and economic requirements and difficulties are the same: The blind person of twenty- three--vigorous, trained and educated, able to work and support himself; the person of eighty-seven--worn in body and wandering in mind; the totally and permanently disabled person--immobilized, unemployable, the father of several small children.
Average Total Need (as of February 1, 1968) in California was as follows among the adult categories:
AB - $ 32.66 - average income
137.99 - average grant
$170.65 - average total need
OAS - $ 48.00 - average income
105.20 - average grant
$153.20 - average total need
ATD - $ 25.35 - average income
113. 85 - average grant
$139.20 - average total need
States Having A Combined Adult Category:
Title XVI was effective October 1, 1962--yet, five years later only seventeen of the fifty states have seen fit to adopt the plan and of the seventeen, only one adopted the plan after Medical Assistance became available under Title XIX. In other words, sixteen of the seventeen states rushed in to secure for their ATD and AB caseloads federal financial participation in vendor medical payments (half up to $15) between October 1962 and October 1965, when Title XIX made the provision meaningless.
States' Implementation of Title XVI--Aid to the Aged, Blind, or Disabled as of September 1967--
Programs in Operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Jurisdictions
(17 States and Puerto Rico)
State Effective date of program
Alaska July 1, 1963
Arkansas April 1, 1966
Florida July 1, 1963
Georgia July 1, 1965
Hawaii October 1, 1962
Illinois November 1, 1963
Kansas July 1, 1963
Kentucky October 1, 1962
Maine July 1, 1963
Maryland July 1, 1963
Nebraska September 1, 1965
New Mexico June 1, 1963
New York October 1, 1962
North Dakota July 1, 1963
Oklahoma October 1, 1962
Puerto Rico October 1, 1963
Rhode Island June 1, 1963
Vermont October 1, 1963
Average Grants (February 1967), Title XVI States:
State OAS AB ATD
Arkansas $ 60.30 $ 71.05 $ 64.50
Georgia 47.50 57.30 55.70
Hawaii 78.65 89.65 104.65
Illinois 63.50 75.90 77.50
Kansas 80.05 89.30 107.10
Kentucky 55.95 70.25 69.65
Maine 55.80 75.60 74.55
Maryland 57.05 73.75 73.00
Nebraska 47.50 64.60 60.20
New Mexico 57.90 73.25 70.25
New York 52.10 100.50 93.00
North Dakota 88.25 86.20 87.10
Oklahoma 75.20 105.45 95.40
Rhode Island 57.05 74.90 76.75
Vermont 64.55 72.90 76.50
California $101.70 $131.85 $113.35
In conclusion, the California Council of the Blind is unalterably opposed to a common standard of assistance. It believes that if the same standardized needs requirements are to be applied to the blind, aged, and disabled alike, in total disregard of their separate, different, and distinctive categorical needs, then all will be reduced to the same low level of deprivation and destitution.
The effects of the plan for a common standard of assistance will be disastrous for the state's needy and dependent persons; the effects will be particularly disastrous for the state's needy blind citizens. It would remove the most important single feature of the Aid to the Blind laws--the minimum guaranteed amount of income and aid, or the "floor to relief". If the great human and economic values stemming from the reduction of dependency are to be realized. Aid to the Blind must not be lumped with other categories of public assistance. Should the Aid to the Blind programs be scrambled with the other adult categories, public assistance for the blind in California would lose the gains it has made in thirty-nine years of program development.
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The National Federation of the Blind has long sought, through sponsoring proposed amendments to the Social Security Act, to prohibit any state agency from requiring Aid to the Blind recipients to subject their property to liens or transfers to such agency as a condition of receiving aid. The NFB has also encouraged its state affiliates to seek removal of the lien provisions from Aid to the Blind in their state legislatures.
To permit states to require the encumbering of the small amounts of property held by some recipients deprives these individuals of any ability to use their own resources for self-care and self-support. It is not possible to help the blind person to return to productive and useful living if his very future is to be mortgaged or his property is to be taken from him merely because he receives assistance in time of need.
Liens on the homes of needy blind persons bring in a nominal amount of revenue to state treasuries. Also, and this is undoubtedly one of the major reasons why the antiquated lien law still persists in some states, the necessity to give a lien on a small piece of property raises such a fear in the mind of the older blind person that often he refuses to apply for public assistance and remains in dire need. As any person, sighted or blind, grows older he develops an increasingly deep fear of encumbering any modest home he may possess.
Of the fifty states, thirty do not now have any provision for recoveries, liens, and assignments against the property of the recipient of Aid to the Blind for the assistance given, or make any claim against his estate for the amount of aid granted. However, some twenty states still persist in this practice, so reminiscent of the old Elizabethan Poor Laws of mediaeval England. The usual provision is to the effect that the total amount of assistance paid to a needy blind person constitutes a lien on the estate of the recipient and all property he may have or later acquire is subject to lien provisions. Usually the lien is not enforced against real property used as a home by the surviving spouse until his death.
Undoubtedly many of the NFB affiliates in these states still having lien laws will continue to seek relief from this onerous provision by requesting their legislatures to remove the imposition of liens as a requirement for Aid to the Blind. Some such statutory provision as follows would be all that would be required:
Amend the Claim for Assistance Section of the state Aid to Blind law to read as follows:
"No Claim for Assistance. The cost of any goods or services furnished by the state or by any political subdivision of the state to a recipient of aid to the blind shall not constitute a lien against real or personal property of such recipient and no lien shall be taken therefor. The amount of assistance paid to a recipient shall not constitute a claim against the recipient or his estate."
It is significant that, in enacting medical aid for the needy under the provisions of Title XIX of the Social Security Act in 1965, the Congress prohibited any state which wished to receive federal financial participation in its medical care program for the needy from imposing any lien requirement on the beneficiaries of the program. We can hope that this same provision will, in the not too distant future, be applied also to those receiving public assistance under the provisions of the Social Security Act.
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by Evelyn Weckerly
The Michigan Council of the Blind held its 1968 convention at the Downtowner Motor Inn, Muskegon. The host chapter was the Muskegon Council of the Blind.
A board meeting was held on Saturday morning, the main purpose of which was to work out details for our candy sale this year with a representative from Sanders Candy. We are anticipating good results, partly because of the reputation of high quality of the product, and also because of the 45 percent we will gross.
The first regular session of the convention opened at 2 P. M. with the invocation by Rev. E. Lawrence Quaderer, St. Mary's Catholic Church, followed by words of welcome from the Mayor of Muskegon, the Honorable Donald E. Johnson.
The first program item was a panel discussion of the role of the sheltered shop in rehabilitation, ably chaired by NFB President Kenneth Jernigan. The other participants were C. Philip Daniels, Rehabilitation Services Coordinator, Good-Will Industries, Muskegon; Robert Wisner, Superintendent, Michigan Industries for the Blind, Saginaw; and Irving Wright, a darkroom technician, Lakeview General Hospital, Battle Creek. Mr. Jernigan began by summing up the three purposes of sheltered shops--training for competitive employment, terminal employment, and diagnosis of work potential- -and the reasons for these goals. He concluded that sheltered shops kill initiative and become excuses for placements by poor counselors and agencies. Mr. Daniels began by agreeing with this summation and then went on to state emphatically that for him there was no such thing as terminal employment and that he moves every worker out as quickly as the worker is ready. Throughout the entire discussion, there was much lively communication between Mr. Daniels and Mr. Jernigan. Mr. Wisner stated that blind persons generally need not only more counseling, but also more evaluative work-try-out experiences because it was more important for them than for the sighted that they and their counselors know what they can do. When pushed to it, he finally indicated that he would recommend the establishment of more sheltered shops for the blind in Michigan. This is especially important to us at this time because Michigan Industries for the Blind, as it presently exists, is to be closed within the next two years.
Mr. Wright then told his own story of the dead-end sheltered shop route. After graduating from high school, he went to Saginaw for evaluation, but conditions were poor for such purposes. For example, evaluation was based on the number of items completed, the workers often lost precious time because they ran out of materials. Furthermore, the living conditions were bad. After this came an experience with Good-Will and then placement in a competitive job in a factory, which soon ended because of a layoff. After a year at home, he was sent to Minnesota for experiences with both their sheltered shop and occupational therapy shop. The state agency then decided that he was ready for a specific field of work so it was back to Good-Will, this time for chair caning, which ended in another lay-off three months later. Four years after this the state agency wanted to know why he did not come up with some ideas of what he wanted to do. Finally, he got into Lakeview General Hospital through a friend, and when the agency people discovered six months later that he was working, they tried to take credit for the placement.
Mr. Jernigan concluded the panel by stating that, although some do need sheltered shops, the blind are hurt far more than they are helped; for they take the right of decision-making out of the blind person's hands and help to reinforce the traditional image of the blind as less able than the sighted.
The second speaker was William Sponable of Battle Creek, who told of losing his vending stand. He had had one in the Post Office, but when a new building was erected, no provision was made for a stand. He was told that the postal employee's union wanted all the vending receipts and that little could be done because the building was a leased one. It is bad enough that at this writing, the state agency has done nothing to rectify the situation. But far worse is the fact that those who are supposed to be dedicated to the promotion of the welfare and employment of blind persons took no determined stand in the matter.
The final speaker was Jim Gashel, NFB Student Division president. He talked about why college students should want to be active in the Federation and used as illustrations the cases of the student refused admission to Standford's graduate school because he was blind and the blind applicant who would have been refused opportunity to student teach if it had not been for the activities of Iowa's blind college students and the Iowa Commission for the Blind. He concluded with the challenge to us to go out and get these young people in our state involved in the movement.
Evelyn Weckerly was mistress of ceremonies for the banquet, which began with an invocation by Rev. Charles Stickley, of the East Long Reformed Church. After some community singing ably led by Anita Walker, a new charter was presented to Battle Creek, which had changed its chapter name. The Honorable Francis Beedon, a member of the State House of Representatives, talked of several matters, the most important of which, because of its implications for other welfare programs, was a furor over AFDC which had been going on for several weeks in the state.
The high point of the evening was the main address by Kenneth Jernigan, entitled "Is It Really Hard to See?". In it he explained how his own background influenced his decision to go into work with the blind and his quickly becoming an active NFB leader. He then made the point that it really ought not to be difficult to understand why the blind must organize, based as it is on our very democratic foundations as a nation and on the need to shape the kinds of programs for the blind which will really meet our needs and problems. We left that banquet room inspired and determined to build a strong, truly effective NFB affiliate in Michigan.
The Sunday session was taken up with business. Two resolutions were passed. One condemned the kind of action which occurred in Bill's vending stand case and pledged MCB determination to do everything possible to halt such practices. The other called on the organization to do everything possible to prevent the establishment of further sheltered shops for the blind in Michigan. Two amendments to the constitution and bylaws were passed. The first entitles each chapter to one vote at conventions and does away with a rather vaguely worded section about the ratio of votes to the number of members in the chapter. The other changes the beginning of the new term of office from January first to immediately after the convention. The delegate to the 1969 NFB convention will be the president, with each of the other officers following in order as alternates.
The next state convention will be held in Lansing, where we soon hope to have a chapter. We decided to write a new constitution because the present one is out-dated and has been amended too often.
The convention ended with the election of officers, who are as follows: Evelyn Weckerly, president; Irving Wright, first vice president; Mary Louise Gooder, second vice president; Dennis Byrumi, secretary; and Dorothy Steers, treasurer.
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Your 1969 braille calendar, compliments of the American Brotherhood for the Blind, is enclosed with this Braille issue of the MONITOR. If you would like an additional copy, or if you have friends who do not receive the MONITOR but would like to have a calendar, they are available free of charge upon request. Write to Twin Vision Publishing Division, American Brotherhood for the Blind, 18440 Topham Street, Tarzana, California 91356.
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"I've been to all of them and I've never seen so many people at our State Convention before!" "It's the best convention I've ever attended!" These and similar enthusiastic comments could be heard as the members of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts concluded their fifteenth annual convention, held at the Holiday Inn Motel, Brockton, Massachusetts, October 5-6.
Program talks, resolutions, committee reports--all provoked lively, and sometimes, tumultuous floor discussion. One old-time Massachusetts Federationist said: "I've never before seen so many people take part in discussion. There are some who spoke this weekend that have been coming to conventions for years, but have never opened their mouths before!"
The convention opened with a stirring key note address: "Why I Am a Federationist", by Manuel J. Rubin, immediate past president of the ABM and current president of the Brockton host chapter--an autobiographical account of how "Manny" Rubin, blind man, developed from indifference to the problems of other blind people and antagonism to association with them, to leadership in the Massachusetts and nation-wide organized blind movements.
An address given by John F. Nagle, NFB Washington representative, described the accomplishments of the National Federation of the Blind over its twenty-eight year history.
"Sometimes, whether at the national or state level, we have gained successes alone. Sometimes we have worked with others who have shared our views and aspirations. But whether we have worked alone or with others, whether we have worked on the national or state level, we have achieved alterations in public law and public policy, in public attitude and public practice, so fundamental in nature and so broad in scope that we have touched the lives of every blind child and every blind adult now living and who will live and be blind in the future in this nation. We have touched them by the results of our efforts, and our touching has brought benefits, help and hope into their lives."
Dynamic and determined, Barbara Leavitt, blind and wheel-chair confined President of the Brockton Cultural Center of the Blind, told of cooking and dancing classes, travel training, and other activities conducted at the Center. Dr. H. MacKenzie Freeman, of the Retina Foundation, reported on research advances in the impaired vision field. State Senator James F. Burke, spoke knowledgeably of problems and potentialities of blind people. "Obstacles Are Things to be Overcome", was the topic of the convention panel, and Manuel Rubin was moderator with panelists: Irving MacShawson, insurance broker; Dr. John Morrison, NASA Electronics Research Center; Domenic J. Marinello, vending stand operator. The discussion was concluded by Dr. Samuel McLellan, psychiatrist, with thoughtful, intelligent comments on blindness and blind people.
Nearly 250 attended the banquet and listened attentatively to Franklin VanVliet, NFB treasurer, talk about federationism and the attitudes and forces with which we federationists must contend. The Dr. Jacobus tenBroek Award was presented to the Greater Springfield Association of the Blind for "Outstanding Service to Blind People", and the beautifully simple plaque was accepted by Anita M. O'Shea, GSAB President in an eloquently moving address.
Two organized luncheons were held: For the ABM Constitutional Officers, and convention speakers; and for the ABM President and Local Chapter Presidents. During the convention business sessions, reports were considered and approved, ten resolutions were discussed, debated, amended, and adopted. Charles W. Little gave a State legislative report, and John Nagle talked about NFB activities and achievements in the 90th Congress.
When it was announced that the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind--created as the result of the fine work of the organized blind of Massachusetts--was threatened with dismemberment and curtailment of its effectiveness, a resolution urging continuation of the autonomous status of the Commission for the Blind was unanimously adopted and plans were considered and approved to implement this resolution with vigorous action by the organized blind.
In 1969, the ABM convention will be held in Watertown, and in 1970, in Boston.
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2430 Pennsylvania Avenue N. W.
Washington, D. C. 20037
13 October 1968
Mr. Kenneth Jernigan
Iowa Commission for the Blind
Des Moines, Iowa
As Vice President in charge of membership in the D. C. chapter NFB I have been listening to these tapes gleaned from the high points of tenBroek speeches. I am listening for viable reasons why blind people in the District should join our chapter. I join too easily myself but have to search for motivations to seduce some of my "put" friends into joining. It seems as though we all want increased membership but nobody can say why in one sentence. They can't even give one good reason why they themselves come.
Any information you can furnish in this regard we will put to good use.
Best regards from those of us whose names here mean anything to those there.
Here is the answer:
October 21, 1968
Mr. Robert Anderson
2430 Pennsylvania Ave., N. W.
Washington, D. C. 20037
The problem in answering your letter is not a difficulty in setting forth reasons why blind people should join the NFB but the exact opposite. I do not have time or space to make anything like a complete catalogue.
It would take a large book.
Let me begin by this simple observation: Even animals in the jungle have sense enough to hunt in packs. The blind ought to be at least as intelligent. Unfortunately, such has not always been the case. If we do not come together to work on common problems, why should we expect others to solve them for us? If it makes sense for workers to join Unions, businessmen to join the NAM, farmers to join the Farm Bureau, doctors to join the Medical Association and lawyers to join the Bar Association, then it makes sense ( and for the same reasons) for the blind to join the NFB.
Many of the agencies doing work with the blind profess great difficulty in understanding our motives. Some of them say that they have blind directors or employees and that they can, therefore, speak for the blind. Also, many agencies say something to this effect: "After all, we are all working for the same thing, so why can't we all get together? There is no real difference in the agencies and the blind themselves." What strange reasoning. Suppose I should go to England and present myself at the Foreign Office, saying, "I am here to speak for America." Further suppose that the Foreign Office officials should ask me who had elected or designated me to speak for the Americans, and I should reply: "I have a perfect right to speak for them. After all, I am an American."
In other words, the fact that an agency director or employee is blind does not give him the right to speak for blind people. He can do so only if the blind elect him to that position.
Likewise, even though the Government has an Agricultural Department, its interests are not always synonymous with those of farmers, and farmers have found it necessary to organize to speak for themselves. The same is true of the State and Federal Labor Departments and labor unions, of the U.S. Commerce Department and organizations of businessmen, of the office of the Surgeon General and medical associations, and of a hundred other government agencies and private organizations. Why, then, should there be such a great mystery concerning the reasons why the blind should organize and the distinctive role which the organized blind movement must play.
At the state and local level (that is, at chapter meetings and state conventions) there may be some recreational and social activities. Blood Banks may be established for the membership, and ideas may be exchanged about new techniques and innovations. Many similar activities and projects may be undertaken. My ideas on these subjects are outlined pretty exhaustively in my article on "Local Organizations of the Blind" (both Braille and print copies are available on request.)
All of these projects and activities, however, are (in a sense) frosting on the cake. The central purpose of the Federation--at whatever level, local, state or national--is to provide a forum through which the blind can speak for themselves, with a common voice and effectively.
Should the disability insurance bill pass; and for that matter, what is it? Should the blind have two-for-one airfare? Is there really a need to change public attitudes about the blind? If so, how can it be done? Is there really discrimination against the blind? If so, how can it be identified and reduced or eliminated? How can it be separated from legitimate limitations and distinctions inherent in blindness? Is there a need for more or fewer services for blind persons of the type now available through governmental and private agencies, and is there a need for alteration of the nature or emphasis of any of these services? These, and a thousand similar questions are being dealt with by the organized blind movement, and any blind person who does not participate is failing to be represented. As a single individual he can do relatively little about these matters, and if he does not join the movement he is still necessarily represented by it and affected by its action or lack of action. By not expressing his views and not voting, he gives added weight to opposing points of view, thus helping to bring about the very things he would be against.
Every blind person in this nation has benefited by the activities of the National Federation of the Blind even if he has never heard of the organization. Whether we like it or not, each of us is judged by other blind persons, just as are the members of other conspicuously visible minority groups.
The best proof of the fact that the blind are a normal cross section of society can, I think, be found in their attitudes toward the movement. They are as lazy and selfish as others, as stupid, as willing to take without giving, as anxious to postpone, as unable to see their own self-interest, and as self-centered and determined to have their way. They are also as bright, as capable, as altruistic, as willing to make self-sacrifices, and as able to see and work for long range goals. In other words, the blind are just people. This is why some of them readily see the value of joining the movement and do it; why others talk big and do little; and why still others wait to be begged, petted, and urged--or never join at all.
The Federation is the most vital and vibrant force in the affairs of the blind today. It is enthusiastic and vigorous. It is alive and moving. Over the long haul it is absolutely unstoppable and unbeatable. It is eminently worthwhile and most rewarding. Therefore, go out and bring in the membersi Go, man, go!
Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind
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"You'd think these people had been running conventions for fifteen or twenty years, judging from the expert way this one has been managed!"
This comment of a many-times convention-goer expresses the enthusiastic appraisal of the second annual convention of the Free State Federation of the Blind, held October 11-13, at the downtown Holiday Inn, Baltimore, Maryland. All speakers were stimulating and provocative! All follow-up question-and-answer periods were not long enough and ended with audience clamorings for more time.
Bernard Poppick, Director, Disability Insurance Bureau, Social Security Administration, discussed the overall Federal Disability Insurance Program and then gave a detailed explanation of the special provisions under the program affecting blind people. "Services for the Blind of Maryland", was a panel subject. Donald C. Capps, First Vice President of both the National Federation of the Blind and its South Carolina affiliate, acted as moderator, with panelists: George Park, Maryland Workshop for the Blind; Frank Levine, Maryland Library for the Blind; Mrs. Anne L. Reed, Maryland Department of Social Services; and George W. Keller, Maryland Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Blind. Don Capps described the long and greatly opposed labors of the South Carolina Aurora Club of the Blind which resulted in establishing a State Legislature-authorized Commission for the Blind of South Carolina. This was followed by convention adoption by unanimous vote of a resolution calling for the creation of a similar Commission for the Blind in the State of Maryland.
"Employment Opportunities for the Blind in Maryland," was the subject of another panel, again with Don Capps acting as moderator, and with panelists: Paul Flynn, Blind Teacher of English to sighted children in a Catholic high school; Ann Robinson, Blind Teacher of sighted first graders in a Delaware public school; Roger Petersen, blind college professor of Psychology; Doris Samuels, sighted supervisor of public recreation programs and recent employer of a blind recreationist; Willie Thompson, blind industrial worker; Charles See, blind public office holder. Legislative reports were given by Ned Graham, state, and John Nagle, federal.
Nearly 150 Free State Federationists, their families and friends attended the convention banquet and listened to Don Capps' address.
Elections were held with the following results: John McCraw, President; Ned Grahain, First Vice President; Winifred Bond, Second Vice President, Alan Schlank, Treasurer ; and Roger Petersen, Secretary. Board members elected were: Marjorie Flack, Sharon Bailey, Willie Thompson, and Paul Flynn. John McCraw was elected delegate to represent the organized blind of Maryland at the 1969 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, and Paul Flynn was chosen alternate delegate.
The Greater Baltimore Chapter will host the '69 Free State Federation of the Blind Convention with the State Executive Committee deciding the when, where and other details.
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As one congress has succeeded another congress over the years, the National Federation of the Blind has increased its legislative activities, and in the recently concluded 90th Congress, the organized blind were heard on many and diverse proposals--and some of these proposals are now Federal Law!
During the 90th Congress, nine bills were introduced in the House of Representatives and eight in the United States Senate at the request of the National Federation of the Blind, and these bills, seven of which were identical in House and Senate versions, contained twenty-five separate proposals for changes in Federal law. The Federation appeared and presented views on pending measures in twenty-three Congressional Hearings and seventeen presentations were made by Federation spokesmen, while six statements were offered for the printed records of the hearings.
And with all of this Congressional testifying, both oral and printed, certain major results were obtained, certain substantial gains were achieved for blind persons and for other physically impaired persons.
One-third of the long-time NFB sponsored and supported DISABILITY INSURANCE FOR THE BLIND bill is now Federal Law!
For the third time in the last five years, the National Federation of the Blind succeeded in getting our Disability Insurance for the Blind bill through the United States Senate. Senator Vance Hartke was again sponsor and vigorous proponent for this measure, and fifty-seven other Senators were co-sponsors upon introduction of the bill in the Senate, including eight members of the Committee on Finance, which has jurisdiction over Social Security amending bills in the Senate. The Finance Committee, by voice vote, approved our Disability bill and so did the full Senate.
Despite this doubly favorable action on our Disability for the Blind bill, however, we again lost out and failed to secure acceptance of our total bill in the House-Senate Conference which met to work out differences between House-and-Senate-passed versions of H. R. 12080, the Social Security Act Amendments of 1967. The conference did, though, adopt the first provision of our bill, making the generally accepted ophthalmological standard of blindness (20/200, etc.) the standard for disabling visual loss under the Federal Disability Insurance program. As a result of this Congressional action, a larger number of persons who become blind before the age of thirty-one or after the age of fifty-five will be able to qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits under the special provisions for the blind adopted by Congress in 1965.
The ARCHITECTURAL BARRIERS bill is now Federal Law!
A bill to require the General Services Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to establish standards which will make new Federal offices and certain residential construction accessible to and usable by physically impaired persons, had the support of the NFB and other organizations in the disability field.
The NATIONAL EYE INSTITUTE bill is now Federal Law!
A bill to establish a National Eye Institute in the National Institutes of Health system, to conduct research itself and to finance the research of others, into the basic causes of vision-impairing diseases, had the support of various organizations and individuals, including the organized blind.
The PRE-SCHOOL AND EARLY EDUCATION FOR HANDICAPPED CHILDREN bill is now Federal Law!
A bill authorizing the Federally-financed creation of 100 centers to provide educational and other specialized helps and aids to handicapped children from birth to the age of elementary school entry and to their parents was strongly and successfully supported by the NFB and other organizations in the special education for mentally and physically disabled children field.
The MANDATORY REPORTING AND BLIND REGISTER FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA bill is now Federal Law!
Because it serves to bring together blind persons in need of specially provided assistance and services with agencies established and maintained for the sole purpose of meeting such needs, the NFB supported a bill to require all professional persons, agencies, institutions, and organizations in the District of Columbia who encounter blindness in their dealings with individuals to report such persons.
The Administration's Bill to Amend the RANDOLPH-SHEPPARD VENDING STAND ACT is NOT Federal law today, because of the successful efforts of the National Federation of the Blind!
It contained provisions:
Which would have further weakened the position of the vending stand in its competition with vending machines;
Which would have further handicapped the blind vending stand operator in his already loosing struggle with employee associations;
Which would have reinforced the practice of assessing vending stand income for program operating funds and allowed such funds to be used virtually without statutory or other regularized controls;
Which would have legitimatized the "share the wealth" concept already established as proper procedure in some state vending stand programs--putting two or more licensed vending stand operators in one stand, instead of increasing the number of vending stands so that each operator might have his own!
Because of these and other disastrously and most detrimentally directed proposals, the President of the NFB, Kenneth Jernigan and John Nagle appeared before the majority and minority counsels of the House Select Subcommittee on Education and presented testimony of such persuasive reasonableness that the Administration's Vending Stand bill, originally expected by its agency-originators and supporters to slip through Congress quietly without public hearings, died without further action or attention in the 90th Congress!
In the ten years following enactment of the VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION AMENDMENTS in 1954, Congress was offered, but did not approve, additional amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act on several different occasions. But the floodgates were finally pried loose, and since 1965, Congress has adopted three bills amending the Vocational Rehabilitation Act--in 1965, in 1967, and in 1968.
The two Vocational Rehabilitation Amending bills adopted in the 90th Congress were a mixture of both good and bad, with the bad far-out weighing the good in the most recent enactment.
The Vocational Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1967 contained two provisions of particular interest and concern to blind persons: Residence as an eligibility requirement for any V. R. service was abolished, effective July 1, 1969.
A National Center for deaf-blind youths and adults was authorized to be established--and during the waning days of the second session of the 90th Congress, the sum of $600,000 was made available for this center in fiscal year 1969.
As to the 1968 AMENDMENTS TO THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ACT.
The greatest accomplishment of the NFB in the 90th Congress can- not be found in enacted public law, and it cannot be found there because of the opposing arguments of the NFB in its testimony before the House Select Subcommittee with reference to an Administration proposal to delete "vocational" from the Vocational Rehabilitation Law, thus converting these services-toward-employment for the handicapped program into a rehabilitation program providing services only intended to make the handicapped more comfortable with their disabilities.
So telling were the objections of the Federation to this obviously disastrous for employable handicapped people proposal, that the House Committee rejected it, and the Federal-State Vocational Rehabilitation programs remain vocationally oriented and employment-purposed.
The Vocational Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1968 which are now Federal law, contain several valuable and progressive provisions:
The Federal funds in state vocational rehabilitation programs were increased from 75 percent to 80 percent for vocational rehabilitation case services.
The Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare is authorized to enter into contracts with business and industry to establish on-the-job training programs for handicapped persons. The National Federation of the Blind has urged just such action for years, rejecting the too generally held view that only sheltered workshops can properly prepare handicapped people for competitive employment.
Disabled persons are to be recruited, trained and placed in public service positions at all levels, professional, skilled, and semi-skilled under another provision of the rehab, amending law.
Then, there are the newly-enacted provisions of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act which the Federation unsuccessfully opposed or failed to modify acceptably:
Up to 10 percent of V. R. case service funds now can be used toward the construction of rehabilitation facilities--this will, of course, diminish already insufficient case services money.
Sheltered workshops are redesignated "Rehabilitation Facilities "--a misnomer if there ever was one!
State-wide planning, originally authorized in the '65 V.R.A. amendments, will continue under the 1968 amendments. Funds and personnel time and effort needed in the actual rehabilitation of disabled people will continue to be wasted with administrators continuing to talk about rehabilitating disabled people while far too many remain unrehabilitated.
Another provision of the 1968 V. R. A. amendments allows state vocational rehabilitation agencies to combine with other state agencies, there-by losing their separateness and identity and making low-caliber services all the more difficult to correct because of fragmented responsibilities and hard-to-get-at accountability.
Finally, the '68 V. R. amendments authorized provision of vocational rehabilitation evaluation and work adjustment services to disadvantaged as well as to disabled persons. Believing that educationally, socially, culturally, and otherwise disadvantaged, but physically and mentally fit men and women would benefit from the experience of vocational rehabilitation agencies, the National Federation of the Blind supported this proposal. But we urged that separate administrative personnel handle the disabled and disadvantaged caseloads, and that separate statistics be kept.
Our separate personnel proposal was turned down by the Committee, because, we were told, there just aren't enough qualified people to handle two separately administered rehabilitation programs. And although the House Committee did not adopt our amendment requiring that separate statistics be kept for the disabled and disadvantaged, the Committee report did urge the separation of statistics, and incorporated Federation testimony on this point into the Committee's Report.
The ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT Amendments of 1967, which were passed on the final day of the first session of the 90th Congress, not only provide for futher extension of Federal participation in state programs of education for all types of disabled children but also contain a provision authorizing the establishment of a national center for deaf-blind children.
During Senate hearings the Federation offered an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which would prohibit discrimination by reason of physical impairment for employment in any position, teaching or supportive, in any program or activity administered under the Act. Although the amendment was not adopted, it represented the first effort of the National Federation of the Blind in Congress to assure equal opportunities for physically disabled persons in the field of public school education.
When the MILITARY DRAFT ACT was being re-examined in Congressional Hearings, the National Federation of the Blind appeared before both Senate and House Committees and argued that continued exclusion of blind persons from military service was discriminatory and un-justified, since many of the activities and functions of the military establishment are being performed successfully by blind persons in civilian occupations and professions. The Federal Draft Law was not amended to meet the Federation's objections, but the response to our position was most favorable and we were commended in Congress and throughout the nation for our contention that equality to us means not only sharing in rights and privileges but also means sharing in responsibilities, hazards, and inconveniences.
The FREE MAILING PRIVILEGE originally for braille and recorded books intended solely for the use of the blind, was extended by the 90th Congress to include other persons whose physical impairment prevents their use of conventionally printed matter. This was in implementation of a previous Congressional enactment which brought this new category of disabled persons into the Federal Books for the Blind program.
The 90th Congress also extended the postage-free privilege to tools and devices especially made or adapted for the blind and physically impaired, and further provided that such persons may send Braille, large print, and recorded correspondence through the mail without charge.
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The Alabama Association of the Blind held its second annual meeting Saturday, October 5, at the Bankhead Hotel in Birmingham. Some fifty persons including special guests and friends of the organization attended the Saturday evening banquet. Enthusiasm and unity of purpose were prevalent throughout the meeting. Several interesting speeches and reports were given.
Following the invocation by Rev, M, Pierre Burne, pastor of Ensley Presbyterian Church, a hearty welcome was extended by Dr. John E. Bryan, City Councilman, representing the Mayor's office. Dr. Bryan is Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Alabama Association of the Blind. The meeting was addressed by Mrs. J. W. Teal, resource teacher of the blind at Powell School where blind students attend classes with the sighted. Honorable J. Paul Meeks, Sr., Jefferson County Probate Judge, and Co-Chairman of the Alabama Association of the Blind Advisory Board, briefly discussed the existing White Cane Law, which he introduced in the State Legislature some years ago. In observance of White Cane Safety Day, October 15, the meeting heard from Mr. Phil Henson, Administrative Assistant of the City Traffic Engineering Department. Mr. Henson stressed safety in his address.
The banquet was honored by the presence of Congressman John A. Buchanan, who briefly addressed the group. Governor Albert Brewer was represented by his administrative assistant, Mr. William M. Nettles, who spoke on the State's progress. The principal banquet speaker was Donald Capps, First Vice President, National Federation of the Blind. His speech was well received by both the members and many distinguished guests who were present.
Officers elected for the incoming year are: President, Mrs. Eulasee S. Hardenbergh; First Vice-President, Carl H. Freeman; Second Vice-President, Mrs. Cornie S. Johnson; Secretary, Rev. John Edward Holstein; Treasurer, Mrs. Burlie K. Dutton.
Special entertainment featured an orchestra and dance which followed the banquet. The membership of the Alabama Association of the Blind was inspired and encouraged by this successful meeting, and plans are already in the making for an expanded program with growth of the newly organized group a certainty.
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October 7, 1968
Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind
524 Fourth Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Congratulations are much in order to the NFB for the September Talking Book addition to the Braille Monitor. It is a great forward stride in communication between the NFB and the membership of the State and Local Affiliates.
The three records are of an excellent quality by the best known readers in the business. The mailing container is neat, sturdy and well designed. The individual jackets are grade A and will withstand handling for a long time, if the records are to be passed to others or if kept for future references. For this purpose, may I make the following suggestion:
Cut off one of the outside flaps at the first bend, leaving one end open, glue the other flap to the two side flaps and Braille one outside edge with the month and the year, or any special subject that you wish to refer to. For easier access to these records, you may cut out a small segment at the top of the opening of the cardboard container.
The Monitor on records, is hailed with great enthusiasm here in the Pacific Northwest. We have discussed this idea for years, but evidently, we didn't follow it up by the proper explanations. Perhaps it was not feasible at an earlier date.
Tom Gronning, President
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Pursuant to court action which lead to the admission to membership of any legally blind resident of South Carolina to the Association of the Blind of South Carolina, augmented by legislation in the form of an amendment to the Appropriations Bill, which reads as follows: "Provided that the amount appropriated in this section for 'Association of the Blind' shall be conditioned upon the Association admitting to membership any S. C. resident meeting the definition of legally blind, and who is otherwise qualified" the Board of Directors of the Association of the Blind scheduled the annual meeting of the Association's membership on August 22, 1968.
For a number of years the Association (Broom Shop) had been receiving an annual appropriation of $25,000.00 from the State. A record breaking number of blind South Carolinians applied for membership in the Association, Even though the Board of Directors of the Association scheduled the business meeting for 10:00 A.M., Thursday, August 22, making it difficult and inconvenient for a number of blind persons who found it necessary to miss a day's work, the attendance at the meeting was very good, with well over 100 persons being present. Prior business meetings of the Association had been held on a Saturday, except in 1966 when the business meeting was held on a Friday, at which time several blind South Carolinians were out of State attending the Louisville Convention of the NFB. The meeting was held in the Broom Shop of the Association, which is not air-conditioned and the heat was so intense that many delegates were virtually overcome as the meeting lasted for some five hours without a break. The President of the Association, Mr. A. D. Croft, presided over the meeting. An overwhelming majority of the delegates present voted to immediately consider an amendment to the constitution of the Association, which would, in effect, permit the membership to vote on all twelve Board members. The amendment read: "Notwithstanding, any provision in the Bylaws to the contrary, all Directors shall be elected for a term of one year and each one shall stand for re-election at each annual Convention, commencing with the 1968 Annual Convention." Some years earlier the Association had amended the Constitution making it impossible for the membership to remove more than three members from the Board of Directors at any one Annual meeting. The motion to take up the amendment to the Constitution passed by a three to one majority. However, the Chair ruled that the amendment was out of order, stating that the Amendment had been proposed to the bylaws rather than to the constitution and that the provision relative to the election of the Board members was in the Constitution--not the Bylaws. It is felt that the ruling by the Chair was overly technical and had the effect of thwarting the will of the majority. However, in view of the ruling the membership was permitted to remove only three persons from the old Board of Directors. Long time State leader, Marshall Tucker, ran against President A. D. Croft, and won handily by a three to one majority. Bob Oglesby, President of the Spartanburg Aurora Club, ran against Mr. Frank Meeks, long time Treasurer of the Association, and he too won easily with a three to one majority. John Raybourne of Charleston, who is second Vice President of the S. C. Aurora Club of the Blind, won easily over Mr. W. C. Outz of Columbia, long time member of the Association's Board. Both Mr. Meeks and Mr. Outz are sighted.
The next meeting of the Board of Directors is scheduled for October, at which time there will be a re-organization of the Administration of the Association. The sole purpose for the present interest and intervention into the affairs of the Association of the Blind is to up-grade the operation of the Sheltered Workshop. The Association loses thousands of dollars annually in its operation and the majority of the some thirty blind employees receive a salary of only $32 weekly. The buildings are in bad need of repair and the morale of the employees is poor. Even though Mr. Croft and the membership of the Association sponsored legislation in 1952 to create a Commission for the Blind, when the Aurora Club sponsored this same legislation in 1965, Mr. Croft and the Board of Directors, which had a sighted majority at the time, voted to oppose the Commission Bill.
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They converged on Nashua, delegates to this 11th annual Convention of the New Hampshire Federation of the Blind, more than half a hundred strong. Guests included Francis Flanagan, President of the Connecticut affiliate, and Natalie Matthews, President of the Maine Council of the Blind. Also present were several members of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts.
The morning session was given over largely to annual reports by the Merrimac Valley Chapter (serving the Concord area) and by the Gate City Chapter (serving the Nashua area); as well as the President's report given by Albert Beckwith. President Beckwith went into detail concerning the vending stand shenanigans in the state; the report of the Governor's commission studying vocational rehabilitation; and the Federation's proposal for the establishment of a commission for the blind.
In the afternoon Dr. Edwardo Lopez, an ophthalmologist from Nashua, spoke on the two leading causes of blindness, cataracts and glaucoma. He stressed the need for being conservative in the approach to eye surgery. United States Senator Thomas Mclntyre addressed the Convention, discussing the problems still facing the country and enumerating the valuable legislation enacted by the 90th Congress, especially in the fields of conservation and protection of consumers.
A panel discussion on the values of a commission for the blind was participated in by Albert Beckwith, Franklin VanVliet, and Perry Sundquist who was present as the representative of the President of the National Federation of the Blind. Next came a presentation of the purposes of the Community Action Program who invited the blind to participate by enlisting cap's help in job-training and employment for blind persons. President Beckwith appointed Eddie Vachon as the Federation's liaison to work closely with the Community Action Program.
More than 160 persons gathered for the banquet. In his address Perry Sundquist listed specific ways in which the state could improve its Aid to Blind law and then dwelt at length on the improvements needed in other state services for the blind and suggested the establishment of a commission for the blind.
One of the highlights of the Convention was the presentation to Franklin VanVliet, National Treasurer, of the Henry J. VanVliet Memorial Award for distinguished service in behalf of the blind men and women of New Hampshire.
The following officers were elected for the ensuing two-year term: Alfred Beckwith of Lebanon, President; Franklin VanVliet of Penacook, First Vice-President; Lina King of Nashua, Second Vice-President; Hollis Little of Concord, Secretary; and Annette Lamontagne of Nashua, Treaserer. Eddie Vachon of Manchester was elected a member of the Board for a two-year term.
All who attended felt that this 11th annual Convention of the New Hampshire Federation of the Blind was indeed a successful conclave. The 1969 Convention will be held in Berlin, New Hampshire.
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[Editor's Note: The Braille Monitor plans to run a series of articles featuring our State Presidents and Affiliates. We begin this series with Alaska.]
I was born April 5, 1918 on a homestead fifteen miles out in the country commonly known as Okanogan County, Washington.
As my mother was the local school teacher in Okanogan, I went the first two years of school to her.
I migrated with my parents and two older brothers to Sequim, Washington in the Port Angeles area in 1926 in the family's 1922 touring car. I lived in Sequim until 1936 when I graduated from Sequim High School.
Between 1936-1940 I did a total of thirty-three months in the depression-spawned Civilian Conservation Corps, did farm labor, rode a freight train to Arizona where I found work as an electrician until shortly after Pearl Harbor, then hurried to Seattle, Washington to build airplanes, war ships and anything that would come to hand until 1949 when I became virtually blind, very painlessly and undramatically. The cause was final hemorrhaging of the retinal arteries which is often a stage of congenital, progressive retinitis pigmentosa.
I was married to Miss Evelyn Nelson in 1943 and by 1952, two daughters, Janet Yvonne and Kris Kelleen and a son Thomas Allen had come to bless us.
In 1952, after a couple of insufferably degrading experiences where-in the family was reduced to accepting a blind pension from the local welfare fund, I went to the Broadmoor College of Massage in Seattle. Things picked up a little but not good enough to suit, so in 1957 the family migrated to Anchorage, Alaska where it was still rough but always a little better and we never had to be on welfare again. We now have our own massage and steam bath business, a wholesale company and apartments that we rent.
In 1960 a braille copy of The Braille Monitor fell into my hands and I was utterly delighted to read of Doctor tenBroek and the National Federation of the Blind, which was the only organization I had ever heard of that was of rather than for the blind. I had had a big, big bellyfull of the for-type that seemed to exist only that the staff could do something for themselves with the pretext of doing something for blind people. Since then I have come to realize that this is over-exaggeration and these organizations are both good and bad; some of them, indeed, are a terrific boon to the blind.
Some time later, it became my happy delight to read a speech given by Chick, which, while talking about the plight of blind people employed the term baldheaded people, which when savoured by someone a long time blind and with an independent nature to boot, was heady and full of zest. Indeed, it seems that to this point in my life my fingers had never caressed such provocative words. I knew that come what might, I must some day meet this man Jacobus tenBroek whose written words had awakened in me something half dormant--quickly awakened at this perusal.
I wrote expressing my desire to start an Alaskan Affiliate. One thing led to another until finally in April of I960, Russell Kletzing arrived and attended our organization meeting. He made me M. C. the affair in spite of my protestations, but it was all made easy because Russ was there like a rock of Gibralter standing for and believing in all of these things that permitted blind people to proceed with confidence and dignity rather than second-rate incompetants.
I was voted the first president and; but for two years, have been and still am the president of the Alaska Federation of the Blind. Because of the tremendous distance of Juneau, our state capital, from Anchorage, our legislative accomplishments are not staggering. Almost every member of our small group is intensily busy earning a living. This and the distance to Juneau are deterrents for us as it makes it difficult for anyone to lobby our bills.
Two years ago, we started participating in The White Cane campaign which involves a mailing of from 40-50 thousand. This has been moderately successful with some upgrading this second year of our endeavor.
Recently, in fact September 14, 1968 we sponsored a dinner dance at a local supper club and netted almost six hundred dollars, as our share after promotion. I have seen many leaks that can be plugged and from now on this will be an institution that will in the future be held on the closest Saturday night to White Cane Day which is October 15th.
For the past several years, we have sponsored Bingo for public participation and enjoyment. This is our steady and most substantial fund raiser.
For two years we were with the Community Chest, but one thing led to another until finally we were forced to withdraw from the benefit.
For three years we sponsored a little magazine called the Alaska Federation of the Blind Year Book in which we sold advertising and then filled it fifty percent full of modern blind type philosophy. This was too difficult to administer so we finally dropped it. Its remuneration was to say the most, minuscule.
Last year besides donating several braille writers, typewriters, tape recorders, and many small items we arranged talks throughout all the Anchorage schools to educate the children on proper thinking about the blind and try to make them not afraid when approaching a blind person.
We also sponsored surgery for a member, that was a great success and restored her vision to 20/20 with corrective glasses. This person had been totally blind for five years. She is now driving a car.
We feel that we are doing good considering what money we have to work with and if we could just conquer this legislation, then all would be rosy indeed.
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by George A. Lafleur
During the last five years there has been an increased trend on the part of the young blind to enter university. Where the blind person is university material this is all to the good. However, unfortunately little has been done for the student who if sighted would have entered a technical school. This article is written to offer some suggestions for this group.
IBM punch-card equipment is ideal for the blind to operate, if we do not attempt to prepare the cards. This requires reading data, and though it could be put on a Dictaphone, this is not the most efficient way to do it.
The IBM sorter would be the best place for such a program to begin; this machine seems almost to have been designed with us in mind. Since the cards always have one corner cut off we cannot put them in the machine up side down. When making a sort the operator simply cranks the machine back to zero, and then counts the turns of the crank corresponding to each column. The only limitation of the blind operator is that he or she cannot work with cards that have been in circulation among the public, such as postal money orders or family allowance cheques. The same would go for social security cheques in the United States. The reason for this is that these cards are frequently damaged, and will be likely to cause jams in the machine. The sighted operator can see the start of a jam and shut off the machine without damaging cards; we could not do this. However, where the cards are used within the firm we are as good as any operator.
Though blind people have been successful as computer programmers, there are three operators needed for every programmer. Of course the computer would have to be modified in order to make it possible for the blind operator to function satisfactorily.
Though blind people are known to be good typists, their use has been restricted by the fact that they cannot correct their work. However, if the blind typist is working on a Flexwriter this obvious difficulty is overcome. The Flexwriter gives a page copy, and a punched tape. This tape can be read by the use of a simple reader. The blind operator can learn the code in a matter of a few days. The Flexwriter is used in letter houses which specialize in sending out form letters which look like individually typed letters.
The cost of this machine is much greater than that of the regular electric typewriter, but over a long period it would more than pay for itself if regarded as a rehabilitation project.
The tape recorder has done more to improve the lot of the blind than any other technological development, yet its potentialities have only been scratched. This tool can afford the blind many opportunities. First there is the recording industry, where records are dubbed from tape. With a simple modulation indicator the blind person can be perfectly at home.
Also there is the broadcast industry, every network employs a large number of tape editors, and here again the blind can function with complete satisfaction, after a little training.
While we are speaking of the radio broadcasting field, the control room with today's automatic equipment offers another ideal field, if we use a special level meter which can be plugged in parallel with the regular meters. This means that the control panel is not interfered with for the sighted operator.
I have mentioned electronic jobs, because this is my line, but this is not the only field a blind person could hope to enter. There is no reason why they could not work in a telegraph company phone room. They could record the spoken word as it came in and play it back to check the accuracy, or they could repeat it which ever sounded the most natural over the line. They could also take the messages down on the IBM Braille type-writer and read them back, although this would necessitate retyping for the transmitting operator.
The blind person could also learn shorthand and, by using the braille typewriter, do a good job. This would mean working in conjunction with a Televoice system, or some other interoffice dictating system.
Blind people could also work in brokerage offices as customer's men, though this would require more assistance for them to function.
Writing is another field in which the blind person could make a good living, though much care should be taken when choosing the subject. For instance, a person blind from birth should have a minimum of descriptions in his writing, especially where colors are concerned. Otherwise the results will be an unsalable manuscript. I have sold some, so know the things to avoid. Fiction is the best for us, as it requires almost no research so we do not need to employ readers. As far as I know, there is no journalism course given with us in mind, but it would be a good idea. Newspaper work is out, with the exception of the rewrite desk, and here we could do an admirable job, since mobility is not required in this position. Where photographers and reporters work as a team, such as on interview assignments, a blind person could also function, but this is not usually the case.
These are just a few suggestions which I would like to submit for the consideration of other blind people. I expect some of them have al- ready been given a try and found to have problems, but if so they can be discarded. I would be happy to answer any letters from blind people requiring more information on the suggestions covered. I work in the Air Traffic Control, at Headquarters, and as you might suspect, work with the tape recordings.
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October 7, 1968
Mr. George A. Lafleur
25 Queen Mary Street
Ottawa 7, Ontario, Canada
Dear Mr. Lafleur:
I was pleased to have your letter and I will pass it on to Perry Sundquist, the Editor of the Braille Monitor. He will use this material, I am sure, if he can work it in. I found your article most interesting and constructive, but I would like to comment on one or two items. You say that a blind person cannot correct his own work in typing. We at the Iowa Commission for the Blind have not found this to be the case. With proper training the blind person can use carbons, fill out forms, and handle erasers. The proof of this statement can be found in the fact that we have placed something like a dozen secretaries in the last few years, all of whom are doing the things I talk about and functioning well enough to hold a job in the process.
Likewise, I would like to comment on your statement that, "if he sticks to rewrite work, a blind person can function in the newspaper business." The implication is that a blind person cannot function as a regular reporter, traveling wherever he wishes and handling the wide range of interviews and observations which form an essential part of the job. Three or four years back we helped a blind person get a job with a large city newspaper. He began (as do most new reporters with that particular paper) by working the police beat and handling light functions. There was no problem in mobility and no problem in getting data and details. Incidentally, he went through the school of journalism at the University of Iowa, passing the same courses as others and neither requiring nor wanting a specialized segregated journalism course for the blind.
As a matter of fact, I think the greatest problem we face is not our lack of eyesight but the misunderstanding and misconceptions which exist concerning the blind--misconceptions on the part of the public, misconceptions on our own part. Very often, without even knowing it, we sell ourselves short, thinking all the while that we are exemplifying progressive faith in the capacities of the blind. The agencies established to serve the blind are often the worst offenders in this area. Even so, we are making real progress, and there is much more enlightenment now than a decade ago.
Very truly yours,
Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind
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On September 28, 1968, a group of blind students and professional persons gathered in New York City to form the New York State section of the Student Division of the NFB.
The following officers were elected: President, Miss Myrna Schmidt; Vice President, Hollis S. Moffitt; Secretary, Mr. Robert Rodriguez, 3647 Broadway, New York, New York 10031; Treasurer, Dr. Edwin R. Lewinson.
The group selected as its first project for study the method by which New York State compensates the readers to blind college students.
All college students and professional personnel are urged to communicate with the secretary of the student group as regular meetings will be arranged.
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October 10, 1968
Kenneth Jernigan, Director
Commission for the Blind
4th and Keosauqua
Des Moines, Iowa
Dear Mr. Jernigan:
Identical bills to amend the Randolph-Sheppard Act have been introduced in the U. S. Senate (S. 3743) and in the House of Representatives (H. R. 18410). These bills, introduced in July, 1968, are now pending in the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare and in the House Committee on Education and Labor.
Seven specific changes to the Act are proposed. The Division of Rehabilitation for the Visually Impaired (DRVI) has analysed these provisions carefully, and finds that most are meritorious and should be enacted. However, two proposed changes, if enacted, would have a harmful effect upon blind vending stand operators.
DRVI is actively opposed to these two proposals, and is seeking to prevent their enactment. The purpose of this letter is to discuss these two proposals and inform you of the reasons for DRVI's position.
1. The Act as amended presently states, in Section 1, in part: ". . .blind persons. . . shall be authorized to operate vending stands on any Federal property where such vending stands may be properly and satisfactorily operated by blind persons. . . preference shall be given ... to blind persons licensed by a State agency. . . the head of each department or agency in control of the maintenance, operation, and protection of Federal property shall. . .with the approval of the President, prescribe regulations designed to assure such preference (including assignment of vending machine income to achieve and protect such preference) for such licensed blind persons without unduly inconveniencing such departments and agencies or adversely affecting the interests of the United States."
The above-cited provision clearly establishes that any federal department regulations concerning income from vending machines--regardless of whether vending machines are in competition with vending stands--must give preference to the blind operator in assigning such income. One of the proposed changes to the Act, however, would add the following language to Section 2:
"The head of each department or agency prescribing regulations . . . shall provide in such regulations, among other things, that revenue from vending machines which are located within a reasonable proximity to, and which are in direct competition with, a vending stand shall be treated as proceeds of the vending stand. Such department or agency head. . . shall by regulations specify the criteria for determining when a vending machine is so located and in such competition."
Its proponents defend this provision by pointing out that this would clearly establish criteria defining when a vending machine is in competition with a vending stand. When such competition is found to exist, in accordance with the criteria, the revenue from the vending machine would accrue to the blind operator.
DRVI's opposition to this provision is based upon the fact that, for the first time, each federal department would be able to legally deny vending machine revenue to the blind operator simply by declaring that the vending machines were not in competitive proximity to the vending stand. This provision, if adopted, would give to federal agencies legal authority which they do not presently have, namely, the right to create their own regulations governing this disposition of income from vending machines on federal property. The threat to blind-operated vending stands on federal property, should this proposal be enacted, cannot be overestimated.
2. The second proposal which DRVI opposes adds to the definition of a vending stand in Section 6 by requiring that at each such stand:
"(1) At least 40 percent of the physical duties necessary to operate such stand or facility can be performed by blind persons efficiently and in accordance with applicable health regulations, and (2) 50 percent of the blind persons employed in the operation of such stand or facility are persons to whom the appropriate State Licensing agency has issued a license. . . "
The proponents of this provision argue that by requiring a clear demonstration that 40 percent of the physical work can be performed by a blind person, federal agencies will be aided in determining whether a vending stand should be located in federal property. It is contended, further, that this provision would assure an equitable share of the proceeds of the vending stand among all qualified blind persons.
DRVI is opposed to this provision. The first clause would exclude blind vending stands from federal property whenever it is determined that 40 percent of the physical duties cannot be performed efficiently by blind persons.
The absurdities of this clause are self-evident: (a) no reference is made to the managerial, supervisory and other important responsibilities of a vending stand operator; (b) the assumption that all blind persons' physical capabilities are comparable is a discriminatory and archaic stereotype; (c) the assumption that such measurement could actually be made with any consistent accuracy is erroneous and arbitrary.
The second clause, requiring that 50 percent of the blind persons employed at a vending stand be licensed, seriously undermines the management function and creates major difficulties in providing meaningful supervision to vending stands. Partnerships of the sort proposed are invariably thwarted with suspicions and other complications. Further, anyone opposed to this provision, in any event, could effectively circumvent it by hiring sighted--rather than blind--assistants!
While DRVI strongly agrees that subordinate employees at vending stands should receive adequate compensation, this proposed amendment to the Act is not a proper means of bringing this about.
DRVI is taking steps to make known its concerns. Many other individuals and organizations have joined in this effort. At the time of this writing, it is very probable that the proposed amendments will not be enacted during this session of Congress. With continued public awareness, hopefully such proposals will never become law.
Meanwhile the search for satisfactory alternatives continues. Present practices of certain federal agencies are now being tested in the courts. As stated at the beginning of this letter, a number of the proposed amendments to the Act appear forward-looking and should be given favorable consideration and support.
As one practical alternative, DRVI is concerned with the manner by which the President's authority to approve regulations of federal agencies under the Randolph-Sheppard Act (an authority which has been delegated to the Director of the Bureau of the Budget) is being implemented. Certain regulations relating to the operation of vending stands on federal property which clearly are discordant with the intent of the Act have been approved under this authority. If the President's approval-responsibilities under the present law were effectively discharged, it appears that many of the problems now confronting the vending stand program would be corrected.
Finally, specifying a salary structure for subordinate employees (whether blind or sighted) at a vending stand based upon a percentage of the prevailing legal minimum wage would appear to represent a constructive alternative in assuring a more equitable distribution of earnings among employees of a vending stand.
Richard W. Bleecker, Director Division of Rehabilitation for the Visually Impaired
Here is the reply:
October 15, 1968
Mr. Richard W. Bleecker, Director
Division of Rehabilitation for the Visually Impaired
Department of Public Welfare
State Office Building
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Dear Mr. Bleecker:
I am in receipt of your letter of October 10 concerning the Amendments to the Vending Stand Act. I agree with what you have said and I am doing all that I can to see that these ideas prevail. If you are willing, I would like to circulate your letters to others. I think it contains a point of view that should be heard.
Very truly yours,
Kenneth Jernigan, Director
Iowa Commission for the Blind
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The 1968 Convention of the Maine Council of the Blind was held October 26, at the 138-year-old, tradition encrusted Augusta House, Augusta, Maine.
Under the skillful leadership of President Natalie Matthews much organizational business was transacted. Reports of officers and committee chairmen were given, considered, and approved. Plans for the coming Council year were discussed and agreed upon. And Portland was unanimously selected as the city-site for the 1969 organized blind convention in the Pine Tree State.
The outstanding program feature was a panel: "Employment Opportunities for the Blind, " with NFB Treasurer Franklin VanVliet of New Hampshire as moderator and with panelists: Jane Hutchinson, vending stand operator, Augusta Federal Building; Edward Vachon, Manchester, New Hampshire, piano tuner and technician; and Don Mailloux, blind teacher of sighted junior and senior high school chemistry students in the BeKast, Maine public schools. He is also an amateur meterologist with two daily weather radio broadcasts, Maine Ski Director and Referee of State high school skiing tournaments.
Walter Zientara, Augusta Civil Defense and Public Safety Director, discussed civil defense and the blind. Rosamund Chritchley and Eva Gilbert of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts, honored guests at the Maine convention, gave a report on the NFB Des Moines convention. And John Nagle, NFB representative in Washington, gave a report on the NFB in the 90th Congress. The convention concluded with a banquet emceed by Franklin VanVliet with Eddie Vachon acting as singing director.
John Nagle delivered an address on the accomplishments of the National Federation of the Blind over its 28-year history, and Lawrence La Pointe, of the Governor's Rehabilitation Planning study, gave a report of the recommendations of the study of particular interest to the blind banqueteers.
PHOTO/CAPTION: Natalie Matthews, newly elected President of the Maine Council of the Blind, being congratulated by John Nagle (left) and Franklin VanVliet.
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[Editor's Note: Miss Loretta Loshuk reported to the Ohio Council of the Blind Convention on the NFB Student Division Seminar. Following are excerpts from that report.]
I'd like to make a few comments about the national convention first. It's such an inspiring experience that I don't think anyone can fully understand how stimulating it really is until he has attended one himself. No matter how active you are in connection with the blind, it still makes you feel as though you can never do enough. After attending my first national convention, I returned home confident that no matter what obstacles got in my way, that I could overcome them; and it was really one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Since the Student Division is a part of the NFB, the first requirement for membership is that you must belong to a state affiliate and one of its local chapters or the members at large.
The one-day seminar of the Student Division of the NFB was held at the Iowa Commission for the Blind on July 6, 1968. Approximately 125 people were in attendance, including students, a number of professors, and state affiliate presidents.
The afternoon session consisted of an address by Kenneth Jernigan, which as usual was very inspiring as all his speeches truly are; and a panel of people who have organized or are in the process of organizing student chapters in their own states. As far as I was concerned, this was probably the most important part of the entire day; learning how to bring more students into the organization. States such as California, Iowa, and Idaho already have student chapters and I feel that since Ohio is one of the most outstanding states in this country, that we also should be among the ranks of these states with student organizations.
One of the many ideas presented by the panel, which I liked best, was to send letters to the registrars of the various colleges and universities in the state asking them to send names and addresses of all students, alumni, or faculty members who are blind, or to agree to forward mail sent to them to these people. I know that it will take more than one person to try to organize an Ohio chapter, and there are probably people present here who could be of great assistance. I feel that this is something that could be one of the most meaningful assets of the OCB since we have so few young people in our Council. In the not too distant future, we will need younger people to carry on the work of the OCB; and it would be extremely helpful to have people who are knowledgeable in various phases of life and of the world around us. As we are so often reminded, "the youth of today are the future of tomorrow."
I am planning to write to 89 of the colleges and universities in Ohio, of which I got the names and addresses from the Bluebook of Colleges, at the library, and ask for information about blind students, alumni, and faculty members as suggested by the panel at the seminar.
This will then give me an opportunity to confront them with the idea of young blind people organizing. I told the officials of the NFB Student Division that it is my goal to have at least 25 people in the Ohio Council of the Blind Student Division by national convention time next year; and I'm sure with the aid of OCB members that this goal can not only be attained, but surpassed.
I hope that what I have said has been of some meaning and value to all of you.
In closing, I'd like to make a request now for financial backing of this project from the Ohio Council of the Blind. Remember, that the reason that we are all here is to help to make the future of blind people become more meaningful and promising.
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The twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Greater Springfield Association of the Blind, Connecticut Valley Chapter of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts, was celebrated October 19, by a banquet--with more than a hundred in attendance, including a distinguished gathering of local, state, and national figures.
The high point of the evening program was the recognition given to the twenty-four charter-chapter members who met on October 12, 1948, to organize the Greater Springfield Association of the Blind. The twelve living charter members were acknowledged by Anita O'Shea, President of the GSAB and known throughout the National Federation of the Blind as an able and outstanding member of the National Executive Committee. She honored them for their long-ago foresight and courage and for their continuing and constant services in the organized blind movement in Massachusetts and in the nation. Twelve deceased founding fathers were eloquently eulogized by Anita.
Hon. Edward P. Bolland, member of Congress from the Springfield area of the Bay State, paid fine and glowing tribute to the members of the local NFB unit.
For John Nagle, Chief of the Federation's Washington Office, and featured speaker of the gala event, it was a returning to his beginnings in Federationism. Springfield is John's home town, the Greater Springfield Association of the Blind his original contact with the National Federation of the Blind — and John was one of the twenty-four who had organized the GSAB just twenty years ago.
Recalling the past, John said: "A small group of blind residents of Springfield and environs gathered together and learned about the organized blind movement from Charles W. Little, a blind man of Boston.
"After much discussion, questionings, doubtings, hopings, an organization was formed. Newton E. Ottone was chosen President and he assumed a leadership that was the greatest strength of this new and developing chapter, and Newt's abilities became known and accepted throughout this state and the entire nation, and his contributions to our cause and to our movement were many and great, even though Newt was severely deaf as well as totally blind."
John discussed the importance of a local chapter in the National Federation of the Blind organizational structure.
"The NFB is a tri-level organization, national, state, and local. And it is the chapter, the local unit of our organization, that is the rock-foundation of our movement. It is upon the chapter-foundation that the state and national structure is based. As the chapters are strong, the state organization is able to accomplish results for blind people. As chapters are active, the NFB is an influential force and effective instrument in the lives of blind people."
Then, John talked about the contributions of the GSAB to federationism and to the blind of western Massachusetts, naming off a specific list of chapter accomplishments, concluding with:
"And this very building in which we're meeting, the chapter house of the GSAB, is a monument to the diligence and the dedication of so many chapter members who, year after year, worked tirelessly to accumulate the large sums needed to change a dream into this fine and fitting structure. Your efforts created this building, but fine as it is, it is only stone and cement and steel.
"Of far greater substance and worth has been the structure of this chapter of the NFB that you have created from your lives, from your hopes and hurts, from your successes and failures. For in building this chapter, you have created a force for good and goodness in the lives of despairing and fearful men, and you have given them hope when they were without hope, and you have helped them achieve their own salvation. You have done this for many blind people. You have done this for each other. You have done this for me. I thank you."
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Hazel tenBroek, widow of the late Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, was the guest of honor at the banquet of the California Council of the Blind Convention. More than 250 guests attended and there were forty more who couldn't get seats. The banquet was held at the Hollywood-Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood on October 5th.
The Citation of the Council for distinguished service to the blind is awarded from time to time to a person who has performed outstanding service. The Citation was awarded to Hazel tenBroek and presented by the Council's President, Anthony Mannino, in recognition of her great contributions to the welfare of the blind of California, of the Nation, and of the World--contributions which have extended over a period of more than thirty years.
In 1937 Hazel and Chick tenBroek were married and thus began her epochal work as Chick's most able collaborator in the work of the California Council of the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind, and the International Federation of the Blind. She helped her husband found and nurture to maturity a democratic movement in which blind men and women could take the lead in their own cause and thus point the way to a new age of individual independence and social integration for all blind persons everywhere.
The Council's Citation, in the form of a beautiful plaque, reads: "California Council of the Blind citation for distinguished service to the blind, 1968 citation awarded to Hazel tenBroek for immeasurable contributions to the organized blind movement of California, the nation and the world."
Five of the proudest guests at the touching ceremony were Hazel's three children--Jacobus Zivnuska "Dutch", Anna Carlotta, now Mrs. Steven Hammond, Nicolaas Perry--and Dutch's wife, Cathie, and Anna's husband, Steve.
The Braille Monitor joins the California Council of the Blind in its well-merited salute to this gallant lady. Congratulations, Hazel--it couldn't have happened to a nicer or more deserving gall
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January 15, 1969 has been set as the deadline to receive nominations for the 1969 Francis Joseph Campbell Award, presented annually by the American Library Association's Round Table on Library Service to the Blind "to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of library service to blind persons."
Nominations will be welcomed from all interested persons and should be addressed to: Robert S. Bray, Chairman, Campbell Award Jury, c/o Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. 20542.
Named for Sir Francis Joseph Campbell, American-born pioneer worker for the blind, and consisting of a Citation and a bronze Medal designed by the noted sculptor Bruce Moore, the Award has been presented annually since 1966 by the Round Table on Library Service to the Blind at a luncheon during the ALA Summer Conference. The contribution for which the Award is given may take the form of an imaginative and constructive program in a particular library; a recognized contribution to the national library program for blind persons; creative participation in library associations or blind organizations which advance reading for blind persons; a significant publication or writing in the field; imaginative contribution to library administration, reference, circulation, selections, acquisitions, or technical services; or any other activity of recognizable importance.
Recipients of the Award in previous years have been: 1966, Howard Haycraft, author and Chairman of the H. W. Wilson Company, publishers; 1967, Kenneth Jernigan, Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind; and 1968, Robert S. Bray, Chief, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. 20542. Mr. Bray has consented to serve as Chairman of the Campbell Award Jury for 1969, and all nominations and correspondence should be sent to him at the address shown.
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[From The New York Times, October 14, 1968]
The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a blind university professor who sought to require New York State to permit him to serve as a juror.
Edwin R. Lewinson, a 37-year-old Brooklyn man who has been blind since birth, was called to jury duty in Brooklyn in 1965, but was rejected because of his blindness.
Dr. Lewinson, who teaches history and political science at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, challenged his disqualification, contending that he had overcome his handicap. The New York courts had ruled that a blind person's inability to observe the evidence and the demeanor of witnesses precluded him from serving effectively as a juror.
The Supreme Court refused to accept the appeal, saying Dr. Lewinson had not presented a substantial Federal question.
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A chance to "see" the Michigan State-Syracuse football game was recently offered to fifty-two blind students from the Michigan School for the Blind. Several Lions Clubs sponsored the event. Club members described the plays to the blind youngsters in the stands.
The famous singer-guitar player, Jose Feliciano, was born totally blind from congenital glaucoma. He is now only twenty-two years of age. In 1950 the Feliciano family moved from their native Puerto Rico to New York City where he taught himself to play the guitar. He is now one of RCA Victor's top recording artists.
The following telegram was recently received in the offices of the National Federation of the Blind: "Congratulations. At 5:30 P.M. 9/30/68 President Johnson signed the bill for pre-school and early education programs for handicapped children. Your participation in the testimony presented to the U. S. Congress helped to make this historic breakthrough possible. Passage of this bill will offer meaningful educational aid to handicapped pre-school children and new hope for their parents." (Signed by Dr. James J. Gallagher, Associate Commissioner of Education for the Handicapped, U. S. Office of Education.)
The Oregon Governor's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped awarded five citations to outstanding handicapped workers and employers. One of those cited was Leonard L. Kokel of Silverton, Oregon, a self-employed blind cabinet maker who runs his own shop.
The American Brotherhood for the Blind, through its Twin Vision Publishing Division, has just published three new books which combine print and Braille so that blind and sighted can read together and which are written especially for blind children. One is entitled "At the Table", describing table utensils for small children, with raised illustrations of the utensils. Another is called "Where Does an Apple Come From?" and describes the apple and the way in which this fruit is grown. The third book, "Coins", contains raised illustrations and interesting information concerning the coins minted by the United States.
The National Society for the Prevention of Blindness is again urging parents to have their pre-school children's eyes examined so that, when they enter school for the first time, they will be able to cope with the new experience. Since 80 percent of school work is based on good vision in both eyes, it is essential to have adequate eye examinations. Vision problems in pre-school children are usually easy to correct. It is estimated that lazy-eye, crossed eyes, farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism affect one in every twenty pre-school children in the nation.
Wayne Barrett, twenty-eight, of Albany, New York recently telephoned his wife at the hospital to find out about her condition and that of their newborn son. Barrett's wife was not able to make it to the hospital in time and her husband delivered the child. Barrett is totally blind and it was his first experience as a midwife.
Governor Warren E. Hearnes of Missouri, in his proclamation of White Cane Safety Day, said: "Every citizen should be cognizant it is our public policy that blind and other disabled people should be free to move in the streets, buildings, and other public places, to participate fully in the economic and social life in our state, and to engage in remunerative employment. Every citizen should be aware of the presence of disabled persons in the community and of the importance of keeping the streets, highways, parks, buildings and other public places in a safe condition, of observing due care when driving to avoid injury to disabled persons, and to offer assistance to disabled persons in traveling on appropriate occasions."
William N. (Nick) Groesbeck was recently appointed Chief of the Division for the Blind in the California State Department of Social Welfare, succeeding Perry Sundquist who retired after holding the position for twenty-seven years. Nick attended the University of Utah where he received his Master's Degree in Social Work. He served in the U. S. Army Air Corps in World War II, retiring with the rank of Major. Groesbeck has had some thirteen years of experience as a member of the staff of the Department, the last four as Assistant to the Chief of the Division for the Blind. Nick has a real feeling for the social welfare programs of the blind in California, is proud of their achievements over the past thirty-nine years, and will do his best to further their development in the years ahead. Congratulations, Nick--and good luck!
Petitions bearing at least 100,000 citizen signatures for assured job opportunities and a guaranteed minimum income were presented to the Platform Committees at the recent national political conventions, through the efforts of the National Association of Social Work. Both Republicans and Democrats were asked to recognize in their platforms that while one out of six Americans today lives in dire poverty, the world's richest nation has the resources to stamp out poverty through provision of job opportunities for the employable and an assurance of a minimum basic income for those unable to avoid poverty through their own labor.
Representative Gregory B. Khachadoorian, blind lawyer, recently announced his candidacy for reelection to the General Court in Massachusetts.
In a recent editorial, the Ohio Council of the Blind Bulletin states: "What have the blind done for themselves? In many areas, the blind have organized. This, in itself, is an accomplishment. An organization without a purpose will not live long. An organization with a single purpose will live only slightly longer. The combined thinking of the organized blind produced many changes to their advantage. For instance: It was blind people who first conceived a school for the blind. It was blind people who pressed for better aid to the blind grants, for better social security provisions, for better jobs. Vocational rehabilitation for the blind was the result of pressure being applied by the organized blind; pressure is still being applied by the blind to make the vocational rehabilitation program more practical. It was the organized blind who insisted that blind persons be certified to teach in our public schools; that they be allowed to work in civil service jobs, to practice law, and so on. The organized blind have taken their place in the community, showing not only the desire, but the ability to help themselves and others. These are just a few things that the organized blind have done. Those blind, who sit outside and cry or complain about what the blind people do not have, can take no credit for the benefits that the organized blind have brought them. We may be small in the percentage of population. Through organization, we can accomplish much. "
The District of Columbia Department of Vocational Rehabilitation's latest issue of its publication reports that Helen Dunne, blind DVR client, was selected in a special competition to choose a person to represent the 200,000 successful rehabilitants. Miss Dunne's selection typified real "grass roots" rehabilitation. A high school drop-out who worked as a baby sitter and a waitress until she became blind. Helen was trained in mobility, sent to the Light House for the Blind and finally through the assistance of the DVR job specialists selected a career of training. Trained as a masseuse at the Watergate Health Club, her talents were such that after she had completed her training she was asked to remain on as a full-time employee.
Mrs. Eulasee Hardenburgh, President of the Alabama Association of the Blind, was recently appointed by Governor Albert P. Brewer to the Governor's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped. Congratulations, Eulasee! This gubernatorial appointment is a well-merited honor for you and also reflects credit upon our Alabama affiliate.
Washington, D. C., will be the scene next February 27-March 1 of the National Citizens Conference on Rehabilitation of the Disabled and Disadvantaged. Gathering for the three-day meeting will be representatives of organizations who provide rehabilitation services and those who receive them, such as the aged, blind and deaf, mentally retarded, welfare recipients, American Indians, Mexican Americans, ghetto youth, and crippled children. The conference was planned to bring out into the open the problems and situations that prevent needy citizens from getting the service they need and to find ways to solve the situation. The Social and Rehabilitation Service (SRS), Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is the sponsor of the Conference, but representatives of non-governmental groups of disabled and disadvantaged people are planning the content based on their direct experience at the local level. The conference grew out of recommendations by the National Citizens Advisory Committee [which includes the NFB], of which Dr. Howard Rusk was chairman.
Who Are the Blind Who Lead the Blind is now available in ink and braille and may be had by writing to the NFB Berkeley Office, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708.
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