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

JULY 1969


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.

If you or a friend wish to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND, a District of Columbia non-profit corporation, the sum of $_________ (or, "_______percent of my net estate", or "the following stocks and bonds: ___________") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons and to be held and administered by direction of its Executive Committee."

If your wishes are more complex, you may have your attorney communicate with the Berkeley Office for other suggested forms.




by Kenneth Jernigan

by Rosamond M Critchley

by Donald C. Capps





by Jesse Anderson


by Sam Chavez


by Bev Mitchell




by LaDonna M. Olson





by Harold L. Reagan

by Cheryl Rexford

by Jean Scott Neel



by Kenneth Jernigan



JACOBUS tenBROEK, 1911-1968


[Editor's Note: On May 15, Kenneth Jernigan, President of the NFB testified before the subcommittee on Labor and HEW of the House Appropriations Committee on Vocational Rehabilitation Act funding. Congressman Neal Smith of Iowa was in the chair and his introduction was most flattering.

President Jernigan's clear-cut statement brought many details into focus for the members of the committee. The impact of the testimony can be seen by the kinds of questions put and the comments made by the members of the committee which appear after the formal testimony set out below. Rehabilitation in its best connotation was given a big lift by one of the few real experts in this field. That is a strong assertion but the proof is in the placements—not in the articifical, mocking, make-believe of the sheltered shop but rehabilitation for placement in, and ability to cope with the realities of, a competitive society.]

My name is Kenneth Jernigan. I am the President of the National Federation of the Blind and the Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. The National Federation of the Blind is a nationwide organization of blind persons, consisting of affiliated state organizations of the blind in most of the states with approximately 40,000 members. The Iowa Commission for the Blind is the state agency responsible for rehabilitation of the blind in Iowa. Therefore, I am here to speak in a dual capacity concerning appropriations for the Rehabilitation Services Administration and the effect those appropriations will have upon the lives of the nation's blind citizens.

We of the National Federation of the Blind feel that vocational rehabilitation should truly be vocational in nature. That is, we think its function should be to find disabled persons, give them training, and help them find jobs in competitive employment. Accordingly, we were concerned about the emphasis given in the 1968 Amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act to studies, planning, and similar peripheral matters. We feel that the purpose of rehabilitation is to rehabilitate and that the techniques are known and available.

Even though we were disappointed with some parts of the 1968 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act, we were greatly encouraged by those provisions of the Amendments which raised the federal matching ratio under Section 2 of the Act from 75 to 80 percent and which set the authorization of federal funds under Section 2 at 600 million dollars for fiscal 1970. This seemed a clear commitment by the Congress and a mandate to the states to move with speed and initiative to get the job done. The states responded accordingly and have made commitments and geared up for the task.

The previous Administration recommended that only 524 million dollars of the 600 million dollar authorization under Section 2 of the Act be appropriated. This was bad enough. However, the present Administration recommends Section 2 appropriations of only 471 million dollars with a cut in the authorization itself from 600 million dollars to 500 million dollars. If this recommendation should be accepted by the Congress, it would cause real hardship in the lives of many blind persons who need rehabilitation, and it would constitute a waste of resources and effort with respect to the gearing up and commitments which have already been made by the states pursuant to the clear commitment of the Congress in 1968. We would strongly urge that the authorization be kept at 600 million and that at least 540 million dollars be appropriated. The 540 million figure will probably be adequate to match the state funds which will apparently be available for the purpose.

In support of these recommendations I would like to say a few words to you concerning our experience in the state of Iowa. In 1958 we launched a new program for the rehabilitation of the blind. Every year from the 1930's, when the federal state grant-in-aid welfare programs went into effect, until 1958 there were more blind Iowans drawing public assistance than the year before. There was no exception. In 1958 approximately fourteen hundred ninety blind Iowans were receiving average payments of approximately $100 per month. Every year since 1958 fewer blind Iowans have received welfare than the year before. Again, there is no exception. Today only slightly more than a thousand blind persons are on the rolls. This means that in the past eleven years we have reduced the welfare rolls in our state by almost one third.

The financial difference to society when one blind person is rehabilitated is surprisingly great. If, for instance, a blind person in Iowa begins to draw Public Assistance at the age of 21 (some begin sooner) and if he continues to age 65 (some continue longer, and some stop before), he will draw, according to present averages, approximately $107 per month for twelve months each year for forty-four years—or $56,496. If, on the other hand, he goes down the road of rehabilitation and self-support, the result will be quite different. Any self-supporting person in our society today will pay at least $600 a year in taxes—and I think I am being conservative in the figure. Thus, from age 21 to age 65 (forty-four years) at least $26,400 will be paid in taxes.

When this $26,400 is added to the $56,496 not drawn in Public Assistance, it makes a total difference of at least $82,896 to society. This still does not tell the whole story, for it fails to take into account the value of the added productivity which the person's labor gives to the community and the nation. It also fails to take into account the effect upon the children of seeing their parent supporting the family and earning his own way instead of merely vegetating at home. And, finally, it fails to take into account the effect upon the individual himself of being able to earn his daily bread, which I guess is a moral as well as an economic necessity.

I repeat that in our state we have, during the past eleven years, reduced our blind welfare rolls by more than four hundred and fifty, not to mention the increases which likely would have occurred if the trend had not been reversed. If our goal is truly to combat inflation and increase productivity—if it is to cut down on dependency and strengthen our national fiber, then surely there ought not to be any de-emphasis of rehabilitation. I have talked to you in terms of figures and statistics, but let me speak now in individual human terms. In Des Moines as you know, Congressman Smith, the Iowa Commission for the Blind operates a rehabilitation training center. In the recreation room of the center we have a large fireplace. Undoubtedly, we could get someone to give us the wood for the fireplace if we tried. We could certainly hire it cut and have it brought to us more cheaply than the way we get it. Our students go cut it with two man, crosscut saws and axes. Each student generation bums the wood which it has cut, and we find reasons to avoid going for more in the summer. We do not want this to be too easy. When falls begins to turn to winter and the students want to sit by the fireplace, we go for wood.

Late in 1963 I became acquainted with a seventeen year old boy who was a junior in high school. He was 6 ft. 3 in., weighed less than 140 pounds, and had just become totally blind. For years there had been problems with his eyes, with the likelihood that his retinas would detach. Any lifting of weight (even 25 pounds) or any bump on the head might cause the detachment. You can imagine how often his parents must have said to him, "Don't do that!" He must have lived in a constant hell, fearing blindness as the end of the road. Now blindness had come, and he and his parents were desperate.

He came to our center on January 7, 1964. We did not begin by giving him aptitude tests, psychological tests, or any other kind of tests. He probably already felt like a specimen as it was. Instead, on January 8 he found himself in a woodlot near Des Moines with a light snow falling and blind people all around him with axes and saws cutting down trees. He was on one end of a crosscut saw, and he worked. I know, for 1 was on the other end of that saw—and I worked him until I thought he might literally drop.

I would just say this: you can't feel sorry for yourself on one end of a crosscut saw. When that boy came back to the center that night, he did not go to bed to worry about blindness, but to sleep. The next morning we had him up at 6 o'clock and down in the gym lifting weights. (The retinas were detached now, so there was no reason why he couldn't lift.)

In the fall of 1964 he went back into his regular high school, weighing over 165 pounds—muscular, optimistic, alert, and happy. He participated fully in high school life and went on to college. He is just now finishing, and I know we will find him a job in fully competitive, productive employment. While he was at our center he learned Braille, typing, how to travel independently, how to use power tools, and a variety of other things; but I believe the wood cutting had something to do with his change of attitude and outlook, and finally rehabilitation.

This is not an isolated case. In 1965 a blind person, under our sponsorship, graduated from Iowa State University as an electrical engineer. He was hired by Collins Radio and has worked there ever since. This year we have another blind person graduating from Iowa State in electrical engineering. Incidentally, he has been totally blind since birth. Although we had considerable difficulty in placing the first engineer, the story was different with the second. This spring he had offers from both the telephone company and Collins Radio. He will start to work in June at more than $9,000 per year.

During the past few years we have placed fifteen blind secretaries, several blind teachers in the public schools, a number of machinists, several farmers, a number of turret lathe and drill press operators, a grader of meat in a packing plant, and a builder of jail cells. In fact, we are now training and placing blind persons in almost every kind of job which you could name. If our program can continue to have the funds to operate, I believe we can now (at this very time, not in some future decade) place any blind person in our state, who is not severely and I emphasize the "severely" multiply handicapped and who is willing to take training, in fully competitive employment; and I recognize the implications of that statement.

This brings me back to the matter of the appropriations to fund Section 2 of the Rehabilitation Act for the coming year. I have talked with blind persons throughout the country. They are deeply concerned that opportunity not be closed to them just as they are beginning to find hope. As to my own state, the federal appropriations are critical. In anticipation of the federal funds our Legislature has given us the money to carry on our program of rehabilitation—to sponsor blind persons in college, to help them get technical training, and to provide the whole range of services leading to competitive employment. We must add classrooms and book shelving to our facility, and we must have the staff to find and work with the people who need our services. By the time we get to the specific amounts available to our agency for the blind in the state of Iowa, we are not talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, but a fraction of that amount. If the present recommendations stand and Section 2 appropriations are reduced to 471 million dollars for the coming year, we will lose more than a hundred thousand dollars in our agency. It is not a great lot of money but I can tell you it is a lot to us. This will necessarily mean that we cannot give service to many of the people who need it. It will mean the likelihood that some of those people will live on public welfare instead of having the privilege and opportunity of supporting themselves. The same will undoubtedly be true in every other state in the country.

Our proposal that the full appropriation for rehabilitation be granted is not inflationary. Quite the contrary. It puts more people into productive employment and thus makes more goods and services available to meet the demands of purchasing power. By taking people off of the welfare rolls it reduces, in a tangible and immediate way, government expenditures. It is an investment in the disabled of the nation—an investment which will pay dividends in dollars as well as in human terms. We of the National Federation of the Blind hope that the Congress will see fit to retain the 600 million dollar authorization for Section 2 of the Rehabilitation Act and appropriate at least 540 million for fiscal 1970. We also hope that you will see to it that the vocational rehabilitation program remains true to its original, legitimate goal of training and finding jobs for the disabled. In other words, we do not want the "vocational" taken out of rehabilitation so that the program degenerates into a mish mash of elaborate studies, planning, evaluation, jargon and nothingness.

I think, Mr. Chairman, that is all that I have to say unless there are questions.

Mr. Smith. You certainly covered the subject very well. I especially appreciate your pointing out specifically, which is important in the this Appropriation Committee, the connection between section 2 of the Rehabilitation Act and other welfare programs.

In other words, it is just not a matter of you cut off a dollar one place and you do not have to make it up someplace else.

I do know for a fact that you have done a good job in Iowa as indicated by the figures you gave us. And more than that, it is the spirit and the difference in the people themselves that are involved in this program that you have there in Iowa.

Mr. Michel. Mr. Jernigan, we know of your dedication to your job and to this whole field activity and are most appreciative of your testimony here today. It is very eloquently said and done. We have a sympathetic ear across the table. We are under some certain restraint not only in this past year but this coming year, too.

While budget figures are designed to be somewhat of a bench mark for this committee, they are not altogether sancrosanct and we have on occasion worked our own individual will here as individual members of the committee and collectively as the subcommittee.

Mr. Smith says we are most appreciative of what you have told us here today and we will do our best for your people and for all of those who will be so affected by this program.

Mr. Jernigan. Mr. Michel, I would like to say this to the committee: I recognize that when Congress is dealing with hundreds of millions and with billions of dollars, it is hard to sort out what it ought to do and what it ought not to do with the money.

I recognize there are claims and needs all over. In our own programs I would hope that if there have to be cuts they would not be in the operating areas. As I have tried to imply in my statement, I believe that the techniques of rehabilitation are right now known and available if they are used. I am not as much impressed by one more study or one more plan and one more valuation as I am by finding people and giving them training we now know how to do, and placing them in jobs.

If you are able to give us the money under section 2, in our own state I am willing to see our program stand or fall on whether we give results. I hope you will see it is like that all over the country.

Mr. Michel. Your results have been pretty dramatic.

Mr. Casey. I was impressed by the closing statement that you made, like the witnesses preceding you here, concerning counseling. They start another program and cut the counseling money completely out and put in a program of school dropout which is aimed at more studies and more projects when, as you say, they have got a proven program. Like this counseling, you have a proven program of rehabilitation and I do not think it should suffer to have, as you say, more studies and more evaluations. I think the story you tell in Iowa is probably repeated throughout the country, is it not?

Mr. Jernigan. I believe so.

Mr. Casey. In your position as president of the National Federation, I am sure you have knowledge this is working in other sections of the country just like your programs are?

Mr. Jernigan. Sir, in work with the blind I believe we do not need any more studies. I believe we need action. I believe we know how to carry on the action. I think there is a natural temptation when the studies are proposed and they are funded—I am not trying to knock something else, but I am simply saying as far as I am concerned, in the emphasis that ought to be given in at least programs for the blind, I think there ought to be action emphasis and there ought to be a demand for results.

Mr. Casey. I appreciate your statement and I think your confidence shows in the challenge you made there, rise or fall on the results of your activities.

Mr. Shriver. I want to commend you too on your statement. I was most impressed and especially with your closing remarks. You have a lot of friends on this committee for the work of rehabilitation.

Mrs. Reid. I would certainly like to join my colleagues in commending you on your statement. I was particularly impressed with your emphasis on going ahead, rather than planning, into programs that really bring results of jobs and a way of life for people who need this help, making useful lives for themselves rather than being on welfare rolls.

I think you presented the case very well.

Mr. Jernigan. As you will observe, I did not make the plea with you on some sections of the Act.

Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, Mr. Jernigan. That was a very forceful and effective statement.

Back to Contents

- - - - - - - - - -

That blindness is a tragedy is known to all men. That courage and determination can help the blind to transcend that tragedy is not nearly as well known.

A symbol of the blind person's determination to help himself and to live a normal life is the white cane. More than a traveling aid for blind people, the familiar white cane has become—to those who can see—a reminder of the tremendous strides which have been made by the blind in adjusting to the world of sight.

A blind man or woman using a white cane can travel with greater confidence and safety on the Nation's streets. This confidence is reflected in other activities, such as education and employment, where the blind can make needed and highly valued contributions. Thus, the white cane helps the blind person to help himself by increasing the range of his activities.

To make our citizens more fully aware of the significance of the white cane, and of the need for motorists to exercise caution and courtesy when approaching its bearer, the Congress, by a joint resolution, approved October 6, 1964 (78 Stat. 1003), has authorized the President to issue annually a proclamation designating October 15 as White Cane Safety Day.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICHARD NIXON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 15, 1969, as White Cane Safety Day.

I urge all Americans to observe this day by increasing their understanding of the problems of the blind, learning more about the accomplishments of the blind, and seeking ways in which the blind may add even more than they already have to their own personal fulfillment and to the progress of our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 20th day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and ninety-third.


Back to Contents


by Kenneth Jernigan

Saturday, June 7, 1969, was a great occasion for the blind of Tennessee and of the nation. It was on that day that the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee came into being as the forty-first affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind. And what an affiliate it is! One of our very best!

It all started several months ago with preliminary preparation and planning by local blind persons in Tennessee. Last Labor Day weekend I went to Chattanooga to attend the convention of our former affiliate, the Tennessee Federation of the Blind. Among other things, my principal purpose in going was to determine whether the Tennessee Federation was the type of organization we would now want to try to bring back in as an affiliate. Also, I wanted to lay the groundwork for a strong affiliate, regardless of whether it was the old Tennessee Federation or an entirely new organization. My Labor Day weekend observations made it perfectly clear that a totally new organization should be formed. Accordingly, plans were made and preliminary contacts commenced.

On Friday, May 30, John Taylor, Ramona Walhof, and Allen Merritt went to Nashville to begin the organizing. Both Ramona and Allen (as most Federationists know) are members of the Idaho affiliate. The first job of the organizing team was to go to the alumni meeting then in session at the Tennessee School for the Blind. J. M. Warren, (one of the most respected members of the organized blind movement in the state) is president of the Alumni Association. At his request, John Taylor spoke to the group and outlined the plans for the new affiliate.

On Sunday, June 1, three more members of the organizing team arrived in Nashville. They were Jim Gashel, president of the NFB Student Division; Loren Schmidt, a 1969 graduate of the University of Iowa; and Shirley Lansing, currently doing undergraduate work at the University of Iowa. The organizing team, now numbering six, began to canvass the state. Ramona and Allen went to Knoxville, while Jim and Loren went to Chattanooga. Shirley and John Taylor remained in the middle Tennessee area.

On Wednesday, June 4, Glen Sterling and I left Des Moines by car to head for the scene of action. It was the usual kind of drive—that is to say we covered 600 miles to Louisville by late mid-afternoon at somewhat more than the normal speed limits. The only mishap occurred some fifteen miles from our destination when we were trying (as a sporting gesture) to add another fraction of a mile per hour to our average and waited too long to stop for gasoline. Fortunately there was a filling station about two miles down the road, so I stayed with the car while Glen went foraging for fuel. We made it without further mishap into Louisville and I gave a call to Bob Whitehead while there. The next day we drove into Tennessee and joined the fun.

The organization meeting was set for Saturday, June 7, at 10:00 o'clock in the morning at the Andrew Jackson Hotel in Nashville. Contingents from throughout the state began to arrive on Friday evening and several of us got together for planning a discussion. Throughout the week it had been clear that we would have a large turnout and a tremendously successful meeting. The meeting started on schedule at 10:00 on Saturday morning. We discussed Federation happenings throughout the country, took a break for lunch, adopted a constitution, elected officers and delegates to the NFB convention, and adjourned by 4:00 o'clock. We then held a meeting of the new board and laid plans for future action. It was an invigorating and enthusiastic occasion.

Indeed, the officers and board members of our new Tennessee affiliate are people of whom we may be proud. The president is Mrs. Nellie Hargrove, 1508 Corder Drive, Nashville, 37209. Nellie was a student of mine when I taught English at the Tennessee School for the Blind—and a good one I might add. She is now the assistant to the Building Supervisor, Tennessee Department of Public Works. She is active in the Tennessee Young Democrats, P.T.A., and the American Legion Auxiliary. She is also a member of the Baptist Young Women's League. She attended the Nashville Business College and has a teen-aged daughter. I am convinced that Nellie will be one of our most effective and energetic presidents. She will be the Tennessee delegate to the NFB convention.

The rest of the board are also of high caliber. The first vice president is Mr. Lev Williams of Memphis. He is an itinerant teacher with the Memphis Board of Education and a graduate of Tennessee A & I University. He holds a Masters degree from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

The second vice president needs no introduction to Federationists. He is Mr. J. M. Warren of Nashville. His voice was one of the most enthusiastic to be heard in the meeting as he expressed his gratification at Tennessee's action in forming an affiliate. Mr. Warren, a former state legislator is (as already noted) currently president of the Tennessee School for the Blind Alumni Association. Although one would never guess it from his vigorous round of daily activities (he is at his vending stand every morning by 7:00, in addition to conducting widespread business activities in real estate, contracting, etc.), Mr. Warren is the proud possessor of five great grandchildren.

The secretary of the new affiliate is Mrs. Maggie Warrick of Memphis. Mrs. Warrick has been one of the leading figures in the establishment of the new Memphis Federation of the Blind (which will undoubtedly be a local affiliate of the NFB of Tennessee). She was for twelve years a senior stenographer with the State Department of Welfare, quitting that position to become a housewife. She now has a nineteen year old son and a delightful seven year old daughter, Promela. As a matter of fact, I became great friends with Promela the afternoon before our meeting, as I explained to her that she was getting old at a faster rate than I. Last year she was six and I was forty-one. Therefore, I was almost seven times older than she. This year I am only six times older. Next year I will be only somewhat more than five times older.

The treasurer is Mr. Ed Walker. Ed, also a former student of mine, is a piano technician. He conducts weekend classes in paino tuning at the Tennessee School for the Blind, has a dance band, and is about to begin teaching classes at the Nashville Area Vocational School. He has two children, boys aged five and nine. He is vice president of the Alumni Association of the Tennessee School for the Blind.

In addition to the officers, six members were elected to the Board of Directors. For two year terms: Gordon Stevens, multiple spindle drill press operator with International Harvester, president of the Memphis Federation of the Blind, and 1962 recipient of the Tennessee Handicapped Citizen of the Year Award; Mrs. Willie May Northington of Memphis, housewife; and Mr. Lilmon Esters, Church of Christ minister, grocery store operator, and father of nine children. Mr. Esters is president of the Progress Movement of the Blind of Nashville. For one year terms: Johnson Bradshaw, former legislator, vending stand operator and member of the Civitan Group; and Elbert Haynes, employment counselor, MAP South, War on Poverty Program, and a graduate of LeMoyne College, Memphis; and LeRoy Duff, home teacher, State Services for the Blind, and a graduate of Tennessee A & I University, who has also done graduate work at Peabody College, and Vanderbuilt University. He was listed in "Who's Who Among Students in Colleges and Universities" for 1963.

As I say, it is a board of which we can all be proud, and the same will be true of our new affiliate. I have rarely seen more determination and enthusiasm shown at an organizational meeting. Incidentally, we had 116 charter members.

Don and Betty Capps (along with son Craig) joined us on Friday evening and made valuable contributions to the effort. Don participated in discussions and extended a personal welcome to all present to attend the upcoming NFB convention. By the way, Don brought me an astonishing report concerning the number of room reservations. Our convention last year had almost 1000 people present, with 730 attending the banquet. We used 350 hotel rooms, not counting suites. It was our largest to date. This year Don tells me there are already more than 450 room reservations with more coming every day. Where will we put them all? What a delightful problem with which to be faced.

But back to the story: On Saturday night, we celbrated the day's triumph and prepared to head for home on the morrow. John Taylor and Loren Schmidt rode home with Glen Sterling and me, and we were up and away by 6:30 on Sunday morning. All I need say about the return trip is that we made the 800 miles to Des Moines before sundown with only one ticket—a slight mishap which occurred in Indiana when the officer murmured something about speeds of 95 miles an hour. It was a great day.

This is our fourth affiliate since our last convention, and the pattern for the future is becoming clearer. We are on the move in force, and the spirit and purpose of our cause are unstoppable. Hail to the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee and to the new affiliates soon to follow!

Back to Contents


by Rosamond M. Critchley

On March 15, 1969, at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts, Charles W. Little announced that as of that date, he was retiring as legislative chairman of that organization, after an outstanding career in this and other offices. Having just passed his eightieth birthday, he felt that the burden he had been carrying should now be passed on to someone else.

As Charlie Little and I sat together in my apartment on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in early May, he transported me back over many years during which he had devoted himself to serving the organized blind at local, state and national levels.

"As I look back over the years," he said, "there seem to be two eras in my life. During the first fifty years I was active in lines of endeavor seeming to have no relation to that which followed. My career was that of a professional musician. After fifty, though I did some public performances, my major concern was with the organized blind movement."

Born February 27, 1889, Charles Little attended public grammar and high schools in Brockton, Massachusetts. He commenced the study of music at the age of ten, and later became a violin pupil of the eminent teacher Felix Winternitz of the New England Conservatory of Music. He began to play in orchestras in his late teens, and when he was twenty, signed a contract to lead a winter resort orchestra in Pinehurst, North Carolina. This engagement covered two seasons, and during two summers he was leader and manager of a hotel orchestra in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

During the following fall and winter he was playing at Waltham, Massachusetts. It was at this time, when he was twenty-three, that he became blind. However, he did not allow this inconvenience to interrupt his career. Within the next year lie put together a solo violin vaudeville act, and under the professional name Lorelle, was booked for the ensuing three years over several circuits.

At the age of twenty-seven Mr. Little returned to Boston to enter what was then known as Perkins Institution for the Blind, where he spent a year acquiring proficiency in the use of Braille and other skills. He then went back to Brockton, and remained there for several years, teaching violin and appearing as soloist on numerous occasions. He also bought and operated a variety store, but eventually sold it and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Here he spent the next six years, filling hotel engagements for a time during winter seasons, and spending the rest of the time selling insurance.

Again returning to his home state, he continued to sell life insurance for the next thirteen years. For over two years he appeared in a weekly program on radio station W.B.Z. in Boston, where he presented light classical violin selections.

Although not a charter member of the Associated Blind of Massachusetts, which was founded in 1940, Charlie joined the organization the following year, and has been a moving spirit among its members ever since. Until 1948 the A.B.M. consisted of one chapter, located in Boston, but in April of that year a second chapter was formed in Worcester. Later in 1948 Charlie was approached by Newton E. Ottone of Springfield, who had heard of the organization and wondered if it would be possible to start a chapter in his area. This was the beginning of a collaboration which eventually resulted in chapters being organized not only in Springfield, but also in Holyoke and Westfield.

While continuing to work toward statewide expansion of the A.B.M., Charlie was elected to various offices in his local chapter and in the state organization. At first the chapters were rather loosely combined, with a governing body known as a State Council, composed of delegates from the local groups, of which Charlie served as secretary. When a more effective form of government was established under a new state constitution, he was elected its first president.

However, his most outstanding contributions have been in the field of legislation. In 1943 the average recipient of Aid to the Blind in Massachusetts had a monthly check of $27. It was largely through Mr. Little's efforts that a start was made toward improving this situation. He filed the first "white cane" bill in the state, the first vending stand bill, and the first bill providing for a tax exemption on homes owned by blind residents. In 1953, when Governor Herter made it known that he did not plan to reappoint John F. Mungovan to a new term as Director of the Massachusetts Division of the Blind, Charlie Little, as chairman of a committee of five, organized a publicity campaign which clearly demonstrated opposition to this act, on the part of blind people throughout the state. Mr. Mungovan was reappointed. Then in 1965 the Department of Education, of which the Division of the Blind was a part, underwent a complete revision which threatened to reduce the Division to the status of a subordinate bureau, no longer able to formulate its own policies. Again Charlie went into action, and a bill was filed to establish an autonomous Commission for the Blind which would be directly responsible to the Governor. There was opposition on the part of a private agency, but when the bill came up for a hearing, the large auditorium in the State House was packed with blind people from all over the state, and the bill passed with flying colors.

In 1951, at the N.F.B. Convention in Oklahoma City, Massachusetts was officially represented for the first time, with Charlie Little as its delegate. From then onward the National Federation also became a part of his life, and he has seldom missed a national convention since that time. At Louisville in 1954 he was elected N.F.B. secretary, and served in this office for the next four years. He became a close friend and loyal supporter of the late Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, and is proud to count other N.F.B. leaders in his circle of friends and associates. Of the many greetings which came to him on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, the one which he treasures most was a telegram from Hazel tenBroek, congratulating him on his outstanding record of dedicated service to the organized blind, and expressing the wish that he might continue with us for eighty years more.

I asked Charlie what it feels like to be eighty years old. This is what he told me:

"I would say, looking back over the years, one cannot help but think that eighty years, after all, is a rapid development of time, and the years, as I recall them, seem to be, at times, somewhat elusive. I always had the feeling that there was much to do and not enough time to do it. One can always have memories, and many of them can be very happy memories that we may recall with pleasure. My life has been a full one, of varied experiences, and I am very thankful for the constant changes and challenges which have been presented to me. Life has taught us many lessons. We cannot help but think how much better we could have done—how much better we could have met these challenges. Perhaps most of all, I am thankful for the many true friends I have made. Now, at this period in my life, it is good to view life as a spectator, but still to be always ready to serve in any capacity within my capability."

Back to Contents


by Donald C. Capps

[Editor's Note: Donald C. Capps, Editor of the Palmetto Auroran and First Vice-President of the National Federation of the Blind, wrote the following editorial in a recent issue of the Palmetto Auroran:]

Nineteen hundred sixty-nine represents the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Aurora Club. This may seem hardly possible to many of us but it's true as, Dr. Sam Lawton and others in the Spartanburg area organized the first chapter of the Aurora Club there in 1944. Some of us were still in high school at that time and still other Aurorans were not even born. How grateful we are to Doctor Lawton, as well as to his beloved wife, both of whom felt that the blind needed an organization for self-expression and self-development. It has truly been a quarter of a century of service unselfishly rendered by blind persons in all walks of life. The Aurora Club has caused services to be rendered to man, community, state, nation and to God. At all times Aurora services have been commensurate with its resources and means. To be sure Aurora services have been far from adequate but nevertheless, these services have made life for the blind of the state a better life. Those of us who were present in the Aurora beginning, as well as those of us who later cast our lot with the Aurora, have always had one thing utmost in our lives, that of making the Aurora Club the best organization of the blind in the country. Many of us think it is just that. It is no easy assignment to mold persons with all levels of social, intellectual and economic capacities into a harmonious and effective group but with patience and hard work, this has been accomplished in the Aurora Club during this twenty-five year period of history. Its effectiveness is well known. The Aurora organization has sought to vigorously support those programs which it considers to be wholesome and in the best interest of the state's blind. Conversely, the Aurora Club has opposed what it felt to be detrimental to the wellbeing of the blind. In taking such a stand the club has inevitably incurred some liabilities and wrath, but history shows that benefits for the blind far outweigh any scattered liability that may have been incurred. The club has sought to bring into the fold both blind and sighted persons who are capable and interested in doing the best thing for the blind. There are many new and worthwhile programs in effect today which are products of Aurora planning and performance. On the other hand the club feels that it is not in the interest of the blind to support any individual in a responsible place of service to the blind who is not capable or genuinely interested in upgrading the lot of blind people in South Carolina. Aurora leaders feel that this is a reasonable and proper position to be taken by the club and it will continue to pursue such a policy. The Aurora Club feels that it is a part of a team effort on behalf of blind persons. There are many in the state who are a part of the team and who are putting forth their maximum effort and for this, Aurora leaders are grateful. There is no position on this team for any obstructionist or anyone who would actually stand in the way of progress. The Aurora Club is proud to be a part of this team effort and we invite others to join this winning team, which is scoring points for the blind in rapid succession. And with the dawning of a new year, we challenge all Aurorans to be better Aurorans in 1969. Why not increase your club participation and help to make it an even better organization? Whatever your present percentage of participation might be, let's increase it in 1969. Do it for two reason's: one it offers you an opportunity to not only work for the blind, but also with the blind and two, you will be glad you did.

Back to Contents


A panel on "Employment Opportunities for the Blind", was the outstanding feature of the 11th Annual Convention of the Virginia Federation of the Blind, held this year, April 25-27, at the George Mason Hotel, Alexandria, Virginia, with 111 enthusiastic participants. Long years ago in Virginia convention planning, the Old Dominion State blind leaders felt there was a need to actually demonstrate that blind people in Virginia and environs were employed and operating successfully in the competative sighted world. The best way to show this, it was decided, was to include already-working blind men and women in the convention program, and to have them briefly talk about themselves—to tell how much sight they have, at what age they lost their sight, their education, special preparation for their job, how they got their job and how they do their job. So the "Employment" panel has become an annual event in Virginia conventions and each year, all present agree that it is the convention high-point—and this was particularly true this year.

This Year's "Employment" panel was moderated by John Nagle, the Federation's Washington Office Chief, and had as panelists: Chester Avery, Educational Specialist, Program Planning and Evaluation, Office of Education, HEW; John T. McCraw, Senior Recreation Leader, Handicapped Division, City of Baltimore Bureau of Recreation; Wesley Williams, dictaphone-typist, Children's Hospital, Washington, D.C.; William Reckert, Steno-mask stenographer, Department of Justice; and Gerard Arsenault, Rehabilitation Teacher, Virginia Commission for the Visually Handicapped.

Other program features were: A Federal legislative report by John Nagle; "What's on Your Mind?", with James Nelson and Don Capps answering questions about everything and anything about blindness and of concern and interest to blind people; "How the School Is Preparing Me for Life", a prize winning essay, was read by the author, Richard Barry, Senior High School student at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind, Staunton, Virginia; "The Blind in Korean Society", was discussed by James C. Hostetler, Director of Operations for Data Processing for the Christian Children's Fund, Inc. and former Director of CCF work in Korea; "Social Security Disability Benefits" was presented by Stanley B. Earl, District Manager of the Alexandria, Virginia Social Security Office.

More than one hundred Federationists and their families and friends were convention banquet attendants and listened to Don Capps, NFB First Vice President, give the evening's address.

Much organizational business was transacted at the Virginia 11th Annual Convention—only one resolution, but an important one, was considered and adopted; reports on organized blind matters were read, talked about and approved; James Nelson was named Virginia State Legislative Chairman, Lydia Stupples was elected Corresponding Secretary to fill a vacancy, Rufus Benton was elected as a two-year board member, and Richmond was chosen as the site for the 1970 VFB Convention; Dorothea Foulkrod and Robert McDonald, VFB President and First Vice President, will represent the organized blind of Virginia at the NFB Convention in Columbia, South Carolina later this year.

Back to Contents


With the untiring efforts of its legislative chairman, Sylvester Nemmers, the Iowa Association of the Blind had the best legislative year in its history. Victories were recorded in the passage of a Little Randolph-Sheppard Act, in the raising of presumed minimum need in aid to the blind to $ 140 per month, and in the abolition of the lien law.

The Little Randolph-Sheppard Act is the strongest state bill of its kind in the country. The Act gives the Commission for the Blind the right to maintain food service operations in all the usual state, county, and municipal buildings, and makes provisions for negotiating for such service in the not so usual places such as schools and hospitals. Because of its importance, the bill is set out in its entirety at the end of this summary. The proposed act was sponsored primarily by the conservatives in the legislature. As is true so many times, our legislative advances are more likely to come from open-minded conservatives than from doctrinaire liberals. First take a look at section one—the policy section, and keep it in mind when you read section 3. Section 2 defines public buildings. These include not only the usual city or town halls and courthouses but "all buildings used primarily for governmental offices of the state or any county, city, or town." This, of course, enlarges the scope considerably. While section 2 excludes public schools or buildings as institutions under the administration of the state board of regents or the state department of social services, yet, section 4 allows consideration and discussion "by the governmental agency in charge" of such operation with the Commission for the Blind. The opportunities here set forth are not only obvious but obviously limitless. Section 4 says that the agency shall discuss such operation with the Commission for the Blind "upon its request", leaving initiation for negotiation thereby open to either side by way of ambiguity. Section 3 puts the responsibility upon the governmental agency to work with the Commission for the Blind for supply of such services unless the "governmental agency determines in good faith that the Commission for the Blind is not willing to or cannot satisfactorily provide such food service." That will be the day! The last clause of that section provides that the act "shall not impair any valid contract existing" and shall "not preclude renegotiation of such contract on the same terms and with the same parties." These clauses debar any other contracts of like nature or with different parties. Since only two such contracts now exist, and since they must be renegotiated in the same terms with the same parties, they pose no threat to the new program. This whole section is, of course, governed by the policy statement set out in section one.

H.F. 658 deals with the grant in aid to the blind. This act established a minimum presumed need for recipients of $140 per month or $1600 per year. It allows personal property of $1500 for a single person and $2000 for a married couple to be disregarded. Also excluded from consideration are food, household furnishings, and a motor vehicle necessary for transportation. This is an overall increase in the aid grant of eleven percent.

The Department of Social Services thought it saw a number of flaws in the proposed act: It would certainly cost the state additional money, indeed approximately $85,000 more per biennium than the anticipated budget. If the $1600 per year were to hold firm, the state would then be out of conformity with the medical assistance act which says that those with an income of more than $1600 are not eligible for full care and would be liable to pay a portion of their own medical bills. Since federal law prohibits requiring public assistance recipients to pay for their medical attention, the annual aid would have to be kept under the $1600 figure. And they certainly didn't like the property limitations set forth in the bill. These objections were written into a memorandum which was presented to the Chairman of the Social Welfare Committee in the Senate, and, as a result, he introduced an amendment to the bill incorporating language to meet the objections. If implemented, the amendment would have the effect of reducing the grant from $140 to $133 per month.

When the Director of the Commission for the Blind discovered the amendment, he talked with the state's Attorney General. The Director pointed out that he thought the rule did not apply to the aid grant as income but that it did apply to income other than the grant. The Attorney General decided that this was certainly so. When the Director received permission to quote the Attorney General on this point, he went to the Department of Social Services and told them that their memorandum issued to the Senate committee was not accurate. The Director then also informed the chairman of the Social Services Committee in the Senate of the facts and asked him to withdraw the amendment. He did so, and the bill as originally proposed was passed without amendment.

H.F. 657 which repeals the lien law speaks for itself: "This bill would repeal a section of the law pertaining to aid to the blind which requires that claims be filed against the estates of certain deceased blind persons who received aid to the blind. The amount of money recovered is inconsequential, and the cost of administering the section probably exceeds the amount of money recovered. This provision of law discourages blind persons who are rehabilitated from owning homes and accumulating assets after they have ceased receiving aid to the blind."

And the topper to the whole package is the fact that of all the hundreds of agencies in the state, including the Executive Department, the Commission for the Blind was the only one to receive everything it asked for budget wise.

Again the value of a team such as the Commission for the Blind and an organization of the blind working together looms large. It vividly demonstrates what can be achieved when a skillful Director and a hardworking legislative chairman backed by a cooperative organization join their efforts.



Section 1. It is the policy of this state to provide maximum opportunities for training blind persons, helping them to become self-supporting and demonstrating their capabilities. This Act shall be construed to carry out this policy.

Section 2. For the purpose of this Act:

  1. "Public office building" means the state capitol, all county courthouses, all city or town halls, and all buildings used primarily for governmental offices of the state or any county, city, or town. It does not include public schools or buildings at institutions of the state board of regents or the state department of social services.
  2. "Food Service" includes restaurant, cafeteria, snack bar, vending machines for food and beverages, and goods and services customarily offered in connection with any of the foregoing. It does not include goods and services offered by a veteran's newsstand under section nineteen point sixteen (19.16) or section three hundred thirty-two point five (332.5) of the Code.

Section 3. A governmental agency which proposes to operate or continue a food service in a public office building shall first attempt in good faith to make an agreement for the commission for the blind to operate the food service without payment of rent. The governmental agency shall not offer or grant to any other party a contract or concession to operate such food service unless the governmental agency determines in good faith that the commission for the blind is not willing to or cannot satisfactorily provide such food service. This Act shall not impair any valid contract existing on the effective date of this Act, and shall not preclude renegotation of such contract on the same terms and with the same parties.

Section 4. With respect to all state, county, municipal, and school buildings which are not subject to section three (3) of this Act, the governmental agency in charge of the building shall consider allowing the commission for the blind to operate any existing or proposed food service in the building, and shall discuss such operation with the commission for the blind upon its request.

Back to Contents


[Editor's Note: The following remarks are reprinted from the Congressional Record as made by Congressman Burke of Massachusetts and by the Honorable John McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Burke) is recognized for 10 minutes.

Mr. BURKE. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Members of the House if any one of them ever believed so firmly in a bill that they visited the office of every other Member to obtain support for the bill?

I must admit I have never done this myself, nor have I ever heard of any other Member doing it.

But this phenomenal feat has just been performed.

It has been performed by John Nagle, and John Nagle is totally blind!

Traveling entirely alone, swinging his long cane from side to side before him, Nagle went from office to office in the three House Office Buildings, somehow managing to find his way through the labyrinthian corridors that are such a confusing maze to we who are sighted.

Says Nagle:

When I first started operating on the Hill, I often got lost. When someone came along, I would hesitantly and apologetically ask for help—


Laughed this blind man—
everybody would reply that they had worked in the building 6 months or 6 years, and still got lost!

So "getting lost" to Nagle proves he is just like everyone else.

John Nagle's recent journey through all of the House was undertaken to explain a bill I had introduced at the request of the National Federation of the Blind, the organization for which John Nagle speaks.

This bill, H.R. 3782, would make certain most necessary changes in the Federal disability insurance law for blind people.

But Nagle did more than just explain H.R. 3782 and answer questions about its provisions.

He also asked that each Member introduce a bill identical to my disability insurance for the blind measure.

Nagle's goal was to demonstrate that H.R. 3782 has substantial House support, and he certainly achieved this goal.

For as of yesterday, 90 bills identical to H.R. 3782 have been introduced in the House—the greatest number of like-bills, I believe, introduced so far in the first session of the 91st Congress.

Mr. Speaker, I know that you and many of our colleagues are already well acquainted with this amazing person, John Nagle, but since there are those present who have not had the inspiring experience of knowing this man, I would like to briefly describe a few facts about him.

John was born in Springfield, Mass. He lost his sight at the age of 13 and grew up into adulthood as a totally blind person.

John attended the Perkins School for the Blind in Waterstown, Mass., where he learned the skills of blindness, and in 1934, obtained a high school diploma.

John says he understood early in life that if a blind person was to get anywhere in life, he would only be able to do so through an adequate education. So he was determined to get one.

John recalls:

Besides, I really didn't have any other choice. The accepted employments for the blind were not open to me. Work with my hands was not for me, for I'm clumsy and inept with my hands.

After studying journalism at Boston University for 2 years and discovering that newspaper editors were not at all interested in hiring a self-confident but blind journalist, Nagle decided to become a lawyer.

The 9 years, from 1937 to 1946, were busy ones for this ambitious blind man.

For 5 years he attended law classes at night and worked days on a WPA project.

During World War II, Nagle was a subassembler at the Springfield Armory, and he was in his newly opened law office when not in the factory, or not attending classes nights at a local college—"to earn the rest of my A.B. degree," reports Nagle.

For 15 years, John was engaged in the general practice of law in his home city of Springfield, and was a most active member of the community, with memberships in many organizations, a staunch and vocal supporter of many causes.

But the one cause that increasingly absorbed Nagle's time and concern was that of his fellow blind.

He held various offices in the Greater Springfield Association of the Blind of Massachusetts, and, in December 1958 he was invited to work in the Washington office of the National Federation of the Blind.

For the past 10 years, John Nagle has become a familiar sight on Capitol Hill.

He has presented testimony in nearly 100 congressional hearings, always reading well-thought-out and forcefully presented arguments from a braille text.

John Nagle has become a Capitol Hill legend—always moving surely and swiftly to a congressional office or hearing room, always purposeful, well informed, and sober—yet with a sobriety that quickly brightens into a beaming smile.

When Nagle speaks of the organization for which he works, he speaks with a fervor of a zealot:

The National Federation of the Blind is a nation-wide organization of blind men and women joined together and working together to improve conditions and equalize opportunities for all blind people everywhere—everywhere in the United States, everywhere in the world!

John is convinced he has the best of all possible jobs.

Nagle states:

I'm always arguing and working on the side of the angels.

As the Washington spokesman of the organized blind, I work for equality of opportunity, not protective and preferential consideration, for blind people.

I work to abate injustice and discrimination, prejudice and bigotry.

I ask, we of the National Federation of the Blind only ask, that blind people be judged for themselves, on their individual merits and demonstrated record of capabilities and accomplishments.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I expect all here will agree that John Nagle is truly a most distinguished and exemplary person.

But Nagle, himself, dissents from this offer of a hero's laurels.

I'm just an ordinary guy working for a living, supporting myself and my family, paying taxes, functioning as millions of other Americans are functioning.

But, Mr. Speaker, I am sure you will agree that when this blind man deprecates his achievements, he speaks as a minority of one.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I wish to say that I have told this story of John Nagle, for I believe, it is a story that needs to be told.

For John Nagle is but one of more than 400,000 blind Americans who are striving to live without sight in a sight-structured society, who are trying to compete successfully for jobs in a sight-geared economy.

Surely no one could remain indifferent and unmoved as they listen to John Nagle, chief of the Washington office of the National Federation of the Blind, as he proclaims the magnificent philosophy of the blind people that he so ably represents:

We reject sterile security and static shelter.

We assert the right, we demand the right, to live as others live, to work as others work, to share equally with our sighted fellows in all of the hazards and responsibilities, as well as all of the rights, privileges and opportunities available to all others.

My bill, H.R. 3782, would help blind people in their determined and courageous struggle to live normal lives, to engage successfully in competitive livelihoods.

For H.R. 3782, would make disability insurance payments available more readily to more people who are blind.

It would make possible the continued receipt of disability insurance payments by blind people to meet the costs of sight, for whatever a blind person does he needs the help of sight to do it.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all Members of the House who have not yet introduced a bill identical to H.R. 3782 to do so promptly.

It is my belief that this measure has the overwhelming support of the House.

Let that support be expressed by an avalanche of disability insurance for the blind bills pouring into the House "hopper"'.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would ask this question: Are the blind helpless?

The life of John Nagle gives an emphatic "No" to this question ....

Mr. McCORMACK. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Burke), is certainly correct. I have been acquainted with John Nagle for more than 10 years. And as I have become more familiar with this blind man's spirit, his determination, and his accomplishments, my admiration for him has grown.

I am not at all surprised to learn of Nagle's latest accomplishment, of visiting, alone, all offices in the House.

Knowing this astonishing blind man, I have come to expect such phenomenal efforts by him.

In my years in the House, I believe I have never encountered a person who better represents the group for whom he speaks, as John Nagle represents and speaks for the blind.

As for Mr. Burke's bill to liberalize disability insurance for blind people—I understand a major ground swell of support for this most necessary and most worthwile measure is building in the House.

I sincerely believe that no body of our citizens has tried to do more—and has done more—to help themselves than have our blind people.

H.R. 3782 would give these courageous people, faced by overwhelming disadvantages because of lack of sight, a more equal chance to live and work as self-dependent members of the community and of the Nation.

Self-dependence is the goal of our blind fellow Americans, and since H.R. 3782 would greatly aid them to reach this most worthy goal, I am pleased to join the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Burke) in speaking in support of H.R. 3782, the disability insurance for the blind bill.

Back to Contents


[Editor's Note: The following is reprinted from The Eye Catcher, the quarterly publication of the Empire State Association of the Blind.]

The following report is submitted to the New York State Civil Service Commission by the Vocational Rehabilitation Service Survey Committee of the Empire State Association of the Blind, an affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind. Mr. Stanley Kolen, Deputy Administrator of the New York State Civil Service Commission, invited the Survey Committee members to make a survey and report of the jobs described in the New York State Civil Service Job Specifications after members of the Committee expressed the opinion that there are many State Civil Service jobs which could be effectively performed by qualified blind persons.

The Survey Committee members are: Miss Myrna Schmidt, an elementary school music instructor in Schenectady; Edwin R. Lewinson, an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Seton Hall University; James Omvig, an Attorney and Field Investigator with the Brooklyn office of the National Labor Relations Board; and the Committee's Chairman, Hollis Moffitt, a medical secretary at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. Each of these individuals is totally blind.

At the outset, we cannot emphasize too strongly that this job survey and report is in no way intended to set forth specific guidelines as to which Civil Service positions can or cannot be filled successfully by blind New Yorkers. Rather, our purpose is to point out that vast numbers of Civil Service positions in which blind persons are not presently employed can be performed on a competitive basis by qualified blind persons.

We submit that it would be impossible for anyone to make valid pre-judgments as to the employment potential for blind persons of all jobs. In the last analysis the controlling factor as to whether a particular blind person can perform effectively in a given position must necessarily be the individual himself with his unique combination of human characteristics such as inate mental capacity, background, experience, education, initiative and ingenuity. This is so because blind people are a cross-section of society, and as such, possess the wide range of human characteristics common throughout society. In addition, they share the common desire to be useful and productive citizens.

Accordingly, while this report specifies particular Civil Service positions which we believe can effectively be performed by qualified blind persons, we specify them only to suggest potential areas of employment which our collective experience tells us are areas in which blind persons can obviously function. More vital to our report than a mere listing of job classifications is an enunciation of the fundamental philosophy upon which we rely in drawing our conclusions.

Our thesis is this: Blind people are ordinary people and, given the proper training and the opportunity, the average blind person can perform the average job in the average community and he can do it as well as his sighted counterpart.

Fundamental to our philosophy is a basic and accurate understanding of blindness itself. Blindness is simply a physical characteristic—the lack of vision—like hundreds of other human characteristics such as being short, being tall, being fat, being thin, being old, being young, having an education, lacking education, or being a genius or of average intelligence.

We do not contend that, even if given the opportunity, every blind person could perform effectively in every area of employment. To make such a contention would be to disregard the truth. Similarly, one would be less than truthful if he were to contend that all sighted people could perform effectively in all areas of employment. The simple truth is that each human characteristic carries with it its built-in limitation or limitations. Because these characteristics impose limitations they often become nuisances to those possessing them. Each individual must acknowledge the limitations imposed by his particular combination of characteristics and must concentrate his efforts in those areas where he is not limited.

To illustrate: the obese man need not long pursue a desire to be a jocky—he is limited because of his size; the man under age of 35 will waste his time if he actively campaigns for the Presidency of the United States—he is limited because of his youth; the man without a college degree need not apply for a position which requires one—lack of education limits him; and the blind man who fancies himself a pilot might well re-evaluate his understanding of the "actual" limitations imposed by blindness—his lack of vision limits him from flying a plane or operating a motor vehicle.

The difficulty with the characteristic of blindness is that for centuries there has been widespread public misunderstanding and misconception about the nature of blindness and the extent of the limitations which it "actually" imposes. It was generally believed that the mere fact of blindness somehow stripped away a man's ability to perform any but the most menial tasks and that, therefore, the blind person could not be independent and self sufficient but was condemned to the care and custody of charity.

In recent years, however, these mistaken and harmful attitudes about blindness have slowly been giving way to the enlightened attitudes discussed above. Rehabilitation centers whose purpose is to prepare blind persons for competitive employment have come into existence. A wide range of "alternative techniques" have been developed which enable blind persons to compete successfully in a sighted world. These "alternative techniques" provide alternative methods for performing routine tasks and include the use of such things as Braille, typing, paid or volunteer sighted readers, white canes or guide dogs for independent travel, and various electronics devices such as tape recorders and dictating machines.

The result of this development of alternative methods of performing routine functions has been the realization that the number of "actual" limitations imposed by blindness is relatively small for, by comparison, few jobs by their very nature require that the person performing them must himself have vision.

Another interesting difficulty which often arises when a blind person seeks employment is that the prospective employer never reaches the question of the qualifications of the applicant. It often happens that the employer concentrates his thinking on practical questions such as: "How will this man get to work?" "Will I have to take him?" "Will he be able to move freely in my place of business or will he need a guide?' "Or, will his presence in my place of business so distract my other employees that I will not receive a fair days work from them?" Once the prospective employer is made aware of the alternative techniques discussed above such questions should be answered for him.

We submit that when qualified blind persons are given the opportunity, experience will show that there are more jobs blind persons can fill than there are blind persons to fill them.

From what we have said it does not follow, and we most surely do not intend to infer, that every blind person who is given an opportunity will necessarily be a success. Such a result would be neither logical nor normal. No one would seriously contend that every sighted person who enters employment must succeed and, as noted above, blind people are simply a cross-section of society. Their abilities are as varied as those of sighted persons. Accordingly, most will succeed but some will fail. The crucial thing is that an opportunity be given.

Equally important is the proposition that blind people must be judged as individuals rather than as a class. Therefore, as is the case with sighted persons, the mere fact that one blind person may fail in a particular area of employment should in no way be construed as foreclosing that area of employment to every blind person.

Finally, if the facts ever show that every blind person entering employment is successful, then it will be clear to us that blind people are not making sufficient effort in new areas of employment to accurately test the "actual" limitation imposed by blindness.

In this connection we note that blind persons are presently performing in such diverse areas as chemistry, engineering, farming and business. There are blind automobile mechanics, automatic transmission repairmen, newspaper reporters, electricians, computor programmers, public school teachers, physicists and telephone operators. In addition, blind college students are presently preparing for employment in such areas as agronomy, wild-life management, dairy production, architecture, chemistry, engineering, physical education, physical therapy and physics.

Turning our attention to the job survey itself, members of the Survey Committee spent a substantial number of hours in carefully considering the potential for blind persons of the jobs described in the New York State Civil Service Job Specifications.

In addition to the fundamental philosophy outlined above, certain broad principles were considered in reaching our conclusions.

Perhaps the broadest of these is the very practical proposition that the more paper work a particular job involved, the more difficult it may be for a blind person to perform. Conversely, jobs which tend to require personal contact, writing, mechanical ability, decision making, or the supervision of others may be more easily handled. However, as pointed out above, the use of sighted readers is always an alternative method of performing jobs which require paperwork and, accordingly, we do not mean to suggest that the blind person who has the will and the ingenuity should be denied the opportunity to work in a paperwork-type position because it might be difficult.

It must also be borne in mind that the term "blind" includes totally blind and partially sighted individuals, that is, persons having less than a 20 over 200 visual acuity or less than a ten degree field of vision are "legally" blind. Accordingly, while some jobs may require vision it is possible that the "legally blind" but partially sighted individual could function successfully.

In addition, there may be situations where an individual has worked in a particular position as a sighted person and has subsequently lost his sight. Two possibilities might then arise. First, if this person becomes skilled in the use of the alternative techniques necessary for a blind person to function successfully, he can return to his former position. On the other hand, if the position actually requires vision on the part of the employee performing the work, it is possible that, by reason of his prior experience and skill, the newly blinded person might be retained in a supervisory capacity.

Further, many job descriptions do not lend themselves to evaluation by us, or are of such a nature that it would be impossible to make judgments as to their potential. In fact, there will be many situations where the blind person seeking the position will not be able to determine in advance all the methods he will employ to handle the job. However, if he is given the opportunity he will be able to devise such methods.

To illustrate, a blind attorney recently asked a blind chemist how he handled his job. The attorney said, "I just can't imagine how you can be a chemist. It seems to me that everything you do must require vision." The chemist replied, "And I can't imagine how a blind man can possibly be an attorney. It seems to me that everything you need to know is in books and that requires reading."

The lesson is plain. Each individual must learn to develop the techniques necessary for him to function successfully in his chosen field of endeavor. It is often not possible, nor would it be wise, for another person to attempt to devise such methods.

In conclusion, we would like to briefly indicate the hiring practices presently used by the Federal Civil Service Commission regarding the hiring of the handicappped. The Federal Civil Service Commission has a Director of Employment Programs for the Handicapped whose function is to see to it that qualified handicapped persons are afforded equal opportunity in Federal employment.

The "six cardinal principles" of the Federal Civil Service policy regarding the hiring of the handicapped are as follows: "Point 1—establishing the firm principle of equality of employment opportunity; point 2—not merely allowing such equal opportunity but insisting upon it; point 3—making positive efforts to encourage those who seek federal employment to compete for it; point 4—making certain that the handicappped not only have equality in competition but also receive equal consideration when eligible for appointment and get equal treatment after they are employed; point 5—requiring the employed handicapped to perform their duties with the same degree of efficiency as other employees; and point 6—making the Federal Service a showcase of progress in the gainful employment of the handicapped."

Further, as stated by John W. Macy, then Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, "We in the Civil Service Commission believe that the Federal Government as the Nation's largest employer, has an obligation to set an example to other employers in providing equality of employment opportunity to all qualified citizens. One of our most urgent concerns at present is a vigorous effort to wipe out all forms of unfair discrimination in employment and advancement throughout the Federal Service."

Macy continues that at one point the absurd situation had arisen where handicapped persons were barred from employment not because they were incapable of handling jobs, but because the Civil Service testing methods used, kept handicapped persons from entering the competition. He points out that recently this situation has been alleviated. The Civil Service Commission has devised "alternative" methods of testing. The person taking the test must meet the same standard of efficiency as others—merely the method of testing is altered. For example, the blind person taking the typing test listens to recordings while the test was originally set up so that the person being tested read from print.

Macy then continues, "You will notice that I keep repeating the words equal employment opportunity. I do so deliberately because this is the essence of the government's program. Not special favors, not handouts, but an opportunity for every citizen to prove himself in genuinely equal competition."

We strongly urge the New York State Civil Service Commission to adopt hiring practices similar to those of the Federal Government.

Back to Contents


by Jesse Anderson
Chairman Legislative Committee
Utah Association for the Blind

1969 was a very good year for the blind of Utah as far as the legislature was concerned. Excellent team work, plus good organization, patient persistence, and good friends in both the House of Representatives and the Senate culminated in the enactment of a slightly modified Model White Cane law, a minimum of $100 for Aid to the blind recipients, and two appropriations for a new workshop in Salt Lake City and the remodeling of the Ogden Center for the Blind. These were remarkable achievements when one realizes that this legislature was dominated by conservative members—especially the House of Representatives.

The planning began last summer when Katherine Thompson, our state President, named Vic Spencer, Merlin Petersen, Tessie Jones and me as members of the Legislative Committee. Early in November, we met in Salt Lake City to plan an agenda for the 1969 session. It was decided to concentrate our efforts on the following items: welfare, the Model White Cane law, securing funds to be matched with Federal money to remodel the Ogden Center for the Blind, and action regarding the establishment of a home for the elderly blind. It was later decided to drop some items and concentrate on the $100 welfare minimum, the Model White Cane law, the funds for remodeling the Ogden Center and an investigation of Nursing Home regulations and standards in Utah. Certain legislators later recommended that this investigation be initiated through the Governor's office.

Just before the legislative session commenced, we were contacted by Senator Edward Beck who was interested in a law which would contain provisions for guide dogs and broaden our present White Cane law. We arranged a conference with him at the Murray B. Allen Center in Salt Lake City and combined our ideas with his. He consented to be our main sponsor and this culminated in the introduction of Senate Bill 158 by Beck, Bullen, and Buckner. This bill was introduced rather early in the session and we thought we were off to a good start. I found, however, when checking with Senator Beck that some peculiar sentences and thoughts had been intruded into the bill such as: "The blind, visually handicapped, and the otherwise physically disabled, ought to be counseled" and insisted that the bill be rewritten. This was done and a hearing was held at which a friend with a guide dog and I appeared Senator Beck made a splendid presentation and his friend and I also made statements. Again we thought all was going well, but the chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee dallied and although our bill came out with a favorable unanimous report, SB 158 landed in the Sifting Committee where most bills die and are buried. I took our case to the President of the Senate, and he told the Sifting Committee chairman to release it for Senate consideration. This was all well and good except that the bill was placed way down the list. This happened on a Friday and according to the Senate rules, the calendar is swept clean at the end of the day and the Sifting Committee starts all over again from scratch the following day. President Barlow of the Senate was certainly with us because he instructed the clerk to leave all of the bills on the board. This occurred again on Monday and so, on Tuesday, the Senators finally got down to 158. Senator Beck again made an excellent presentation on the floor of the Senate and I was also permitted to speak to the Senate and answer questions. There were some questions which had to be resolved and so I spent my lunch hour with one of the legislative attorneys amending the bill and it was passed unanimously during the afternoon session.

In the House of Representatives, SB 158 was referred to their Sifting Committee because of the lateness of the session so we had to go through the process of getting it out of that Committee. Fortunately, the chairman of this Committee was a personal friend along with some of his colleagues, and so we were able to bring the bill to the floor. It was hoped that it could be passed without too much debate, but some of the members became intrigued and befogged with some interesting points. One Representative felt that it would be very expensive and unfair if hotel and motel owners would have to supply guide dogs for their blind guests when they stayed at such places. Another representative was deeply concerned at the thought that this bill would force blind people to have to go to strange places and this would make them unhappy and uncomfortable. This same Representative prides himself for taking blind students from the school in Ogden to his ranch once or twice during the school year. After a half hour of this kind of debate the bill finally passed with twelve members voting against it. This is interesting when one considers that our welfare bill which all of us felt would never get to the floor, received only seven negative votes.

I was part of the delegation who went to the Governor's office when SB 158 was signed, and it was a real pleasure to hear Governor Calvin Rampton praise the merits of this bill as he signed it.

Because of space limitations, I have told the story of only one of our bills. The struggle for our welfare legislation and the securing of funds for the Ogden Center for the blind are even more dramatic.

Without the help of wonderful friends in both Houses of the legislature, the team work of all of the members of our Legislative Committee, the invaluable counsel and help of Donald W. Perry, State Supervisor of Services for the Visually Handicapped who served as our consultant, the unity and cooperation of all of the blind throughout the state, we would never have been able to achieve our goals. I feel especially indebted to my good wife who served as my guide through 23 days in the Legislature. She always got me to the right places at the right time and helped me find the right men. We owe a special debt to Perry Sundquist who gave us much needed counsel when it was most necessary.

Yes, 1969 was an especially good year for the blind of Utah so far as the Legislature was concerned. Our Association has a wonderful opportunity to build upon the things we have achieved and we should be able to do so with the dynamic leadership of our President, Katherine Thompson.

Back to Contents


At the age of 24 I became a naturalized citizen of the United States, and settled down in Seattle, Washington. It was here that I met and married Agnes Simonsen, and our marriage was blessed with a daughter, Helen, now the wife of Vincent M. McCrohan of Mercer Island, Washington. I had learned a trade and was employed as an outside machinist installing machinery on submarines, freighters, and cruisers in various shipyards and at the Puget Sound Naval Yard.

During these roaming days I had been convinced that this was not the work for a man afflicted with night blindness. I went to work for a firm that manufactured canning machinery. This was more to my liking, and during my 27 years in their employment I was promoted to shop foreman and service representative, and transferred to plants in California and back to Seattle. During the last ten years of my employment several adjustments had to be made due to a restricted visual field and the advance of retinitis-pigmentosis. After my retirement in 1953 I took a course in Braille and typing from a state home teacher.

In 1956 I joined the White Cane Foundation, a local affiliate of the Washington State Association of the Blind and served as its president for three years, and another term of two years after its merger with the King County Association of the Blind. During my ten years as a member of the board of trustees of the W.S.A.B., I served as a member of the Legislative Committee, chairman of Public Relations, Vice President, and this is my second year as president of that organization.

The Braille Monitor of July 1966 has the story of the beginning of the organized blind movement in this state. The story relates how the organized blind have been in the forefront to establish guidelines to equality and opportunity for the blind. They sponsored the first pension bill that passed in the early thirties, assisted in the establishment of the Lighthouse for the Blind, the Social Center for the Blind, and the Regional Rehabilitation Center for the Blind. And last, but not least, they sponsored the White Cane Law that passed the legislature this year.

At present and for the immediate future, the W.S A.B. is waging a campaign against discrimination in its publication, The White Cane. We are cooperating with the NFB and the Library for the Blind to make the Monitor available for all blind through the Talking Book Program, and to all members a copy of their own if they so desire. Uppermost in our minds is an idea to organize an affiliate of blind and visually handicapped young people within the meaning of our aims and purpose, perhaps the formation of a state group of students and rehabilitated young persons during the state convention in Yakima in August. We wish to foster a closer relationship between the organized blind and the Lions Clubs of the district in fundraising projects by mutual agreement and participation.

We have affiliates in the state of Washington in the following cities: Aberdeen, Bellingham, Everett, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Toppenish, Vancouver, the Yakima County Association and the White Cane Club both in the city of Yakima. There is the beginning of a movement in Longview and an independent group of about 40 organized in Bremerton. We have invited these groups to affiliate with our State Association.

Big things are in the offing. May we have the strength and fortitude to carry them out.

Back to Contents


by Sam Chavez

The NMFB convention was held at La Posada, Santa Fe, New Mexico on Saturday, May the 10th, 1969. The convention was called to order by the state president, Sam Chavez. The guest speaker at the morning session was Governor Cargo who spoke not only on programs for the blind, but discussed the medicare program. He agreed to a resolution requesting that he welcome a survey by the NFB. Manuel Urena took part in the discussions with the Governor during which he noted that the NMFB really has a friend in Governor Cargo.

The President's report was followed by those of all standing committees. With the convention adjourned for lunch, the State Board held a short meeting.

Mr. Ferington and Miss Ross spoke on library services for the blind during the afternoon session. A special program from the Seeing Eye was shown on channel 13 which is a CBS station. Albert Gonzales spoke briefly on the Seeing Eye followed by the state president who gave his story when he saved the lives of eleven people.

The resolutions committee reported and the following resolutions were passed:

1. To conduct an extensive campaign in support of the Disability Insurance Bill.

2. To work for creation of a State Commission for the Blind.

3. To take the necessary steps to have Estepheny Romero continue her education at the School for the Visually Handicapped.

4. To contribute $25.00 to the Doctor Jacobus tenBroek Memorial Fund annually.

5. To establish a similar policy as that of the national Executive Committee requesting all persons given financial assistance to file with the state treasurer an expense account.

6. To take steps to strengthen our organization.

7. To obtain more publicity on NMFB.

8. To seek legislation giving blind persons a two thousand dollar property exemption.

9. To request Governor Cargo to welcome a survey by the NFB.

Following the nominating committee's report, the following officers were elected: state president, Sam Chavez, Chimayo; vice president, Albert Gonsalez, Santa Fe; first trustee, Tony Garcia, Albuquerque; second trustee, Eujenio Montoya, Santa Fe; third trustee Pauline Gomez, Santa Fe; recording secretary, Ambrocio Velarde from Velarde; corresponding secretary, Efren Griego, Albuquerque; treasurer, Ruth Ihnat, Fairview; official delegate to the NFB, the state president. A membership drive committee was appointed.

Banquet speakers were: Mayor George Gonsalez and Manuel Urena representing the NFB who spoke on, "Progressive Blind".

Back to Contents


Vocational rehabilitation and other special services to blind persons are now being administered in most states by a unit in the welfare department. These services are usually provided in seven major areas-vocational rehabilitation, the vending stand program, maintenance of a register of blind persons, home teaching, orientation and adjustment' library services, and a program for prevention of blindness. Sometimes a special program for the education of blind children is included. Since each of these services is designed to meet needs which blend into the others and requires specialized attention, these programs should be brought together into a separate state agency rather than being a mere fragment of the welfare department or of the rehabilitation department.

When services to blind persons are lumped together with services and programs for other disabled or disadvantaged persons in a general administrative state agency or department, the special and uniquely different needs and requirements of blind persons are not adequately met and the caliber of such services is not high.

The blind of the nation know from discouraging and disillusioning experience that they can only be sure that their particular needs resulting from blindness will be fully satisfied and met under programs when those services are administered separate and apart from those provided to other physically impaired and socially and economically disadvantaged persons. The needs of blind people are lost sight of in the generalized administrative shuffle of large departments of state government, their special needs ignored and disregarded in the generalized approach, their peculiar problems and perplexities unrecognized, their needs unmet, their hopes and expectations unfulfilled.

Dumping all disabled persons, all socially and economically disadvantaged persons, into one common administrative pot called the department of welfare or the department of rehabilitation may be urged in the guise of administrative simplification, but these programs for the blind were established and are maintained by the state and federal governments to meet certain economic and social needs of blind men and women and children unable otherwise to cope with the disaster of their condition and circumstances. To make administrative simplification a determining factor in the planning or placing of programs is, so far as blind persons are concerned, to negate the very purposes of the programs.

The blind person needs—and must have if he is to live again as a self-supporting, independent person—intelligent and informed guidance and assistance from those familiar with the problems of blindness, with a belief in the potentialities of blind persons. When blind men and women and children are not given these specialized helps and services by qualified persons in properly oriented programs situated in an administrative structure which is conducive to their development, then they are not served in their needs and they remain dependent when they might have lived self-dependent lives.

A commission for the blind would be far better equipped to provide services which more adequately meet the needs of blind persons than is a large state department. This is an area in which most of the states can learn from the experiences and practices of about a third of the states with commissions.

The Directory of Agencies Serving Blind Persons in the United States, published by the American Foundation for the Blind, reveals that vocational rehabilitation and other special services for the blind are now administered by commissions for the blind in sixteen states; are administered by separate units for the blind in the department of public welfare in twenty-one states; and are administered by the general rehabilitation agency in only eleven states. (See following listing.)

The theory and practice of a commission for the blind is that rehabilitation of the blind has more in common with other services for the blind than it does with rehabilitation or care of other groups. In work with the blind, as with anything else, patterns of organization and theories change—hopefully for the better. Thirty or forty years ago quite a number of states had commissions for the blind. These were not at all like the present-day versions but were better than what had gone before. Then work with the blind moved into an era of trying to "integrate". Rehabilitation and other programs tended to be located in departments of welfare and departments of education or institutions. There was some attempt to combine rehabilitation of the blind and rehabilitation of other groups. The newest trend (and the most hopeful) has been evident for the past seven or eight years. It is now gaining momentum. It is toward the establishment of a commission for the blind in each state, with all services for the blind being administered by it. It should be noted that both South Carolina and Massachusetts established their commissions in 1966 and that Idaho did so in 1967. In each of these states, services for the blind were extracted from a larger department. It should also be noted that a great number of other states are now in the process of considering similar action.

Yet in most states today programs for the blind remain fragmented. This fragmentation is not lessened, but rather increased, by putting most of the services for the blind into a small unit in a large welfare department which, in turn, is placed in a super-agency usually called Health and Welfare. What is needed is common sense rather than theory and neatness of organizational charts by the governmental "analysts". Services for the blind should complement each other and form one unique and separate entity. They are only very slightly and incidentally related to services for other handicapped groups, despite the similarity of terminology.

The persons who administer services for the blind should be able to administer the entire package and should not be distracted by other duties and a multiplicity of other programs and demands. They should not be responsible to persons who have many other interests and demands and who do, as a consequence, subordinate the interests of a program for the blind to other considerations. At the same time, the professional administrator should be responsible to some authority as a check and balance and a testing ground for his judgment. This response should be lodged with a lay board, preferably one containing a number of blind persons themselves—people who know first-hand what the services are like and should be. If the administrator of programs for the blind is responsible to the head of a super-agency or directly to the Governor he is not really responsible to anyone, for these persons are not knowledgeable and are extremely busy with other matters. Thus, a commission for the blind would seem best able to meet the requirements for a good program.

An examination of federal statistics proves this point rather conclusively. Those states which have separate agencies for the blind uniformly rehabilitate more people in proportion to their population than those states which have combined agencies. It is not hard to see why this is so. Rehabilitation of the blind has more in common with home teaching of the blind, library services for the blind, and similar programs, than it does with the rehabilitation of other segments of the disabled population.

Perhaps nowhere in the country are the advantages of a separate agency for services for the blind so dramatically demonstrated as in the State of Iowa. The Iowa Commission for the Blind has set new and impressive records for ten consecutive years in vocational rehabilitation and other special services for the blind.

If most of our states are to forge ahead in this important area of governmental concern, it will require the creation of commissions for the blind. It is important to stress that full federal financial participation, to the maximum extent possible, is being received for those services for the blind in that growing number of states having separate commissions for the blind. Indeed, rehabilitation services for the blind have long been provided in three-fourths of the states by agencies other than the general rehabilitation service.

Agencies Administering Vocational Rehabilitation and Other Special Services for the Blind in the Several States
Commissions for the Blind Separate Division or
Unit in Public Welfare
General Rehabilitation
Connecticut Arizona Alabama
Delaware Hawaii Alaska
Florida Illinois Arkansas
Idaho Louisiana California
Indiana Maine Colorado
Iowa Michigan Georgia
Maryland Minnesota Kentucky
Massachusetts Mississippi North Dakota
New Jersey Missouri Oklahoma
New York Montana Utah
North Carolina Nebraska West Virgina
Oregon Nevada  
South Carolina New Hampshire  
South Dakota Ohio  
Texas Pennsylvania  
Virginia Rhode Island  

Back to Contents


by Bev Mitchell

[Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from the Oakland (California) Tribune.]

Dr. George Jackson is 40 years old, he is assistant director of the Newark Manpower Training Skills Center in New Jersey, and he teaches psychology at New York University. He has been a professional saxophone player, a prison psychologist and has done special research in narcotic addiction. He is a black man, and he is blind.

During a brief interview during Dr. Jackson's recent three-day stay as "scholar in residence" at Merritt College, blindness is the one facet of this background that simply did not emerge in conversation. The warmth of the man, and his breadth of knowledge, quickly bridged any curiosity gap about a purely physical problem. Because blackness in this society is more than a physical characteristic, Dr. Jackson is determined that he will continue working "in a black community with black people, my major interest and concern as a black psychologist."

Though he feels personally committed to ghetto problems, Dr. Jackson warns that social disorders such as drugs "aren't confinable" to any one segment of the population. Recalling that not many years ago the average person at Lexington (a federal drug study center) was a middle class white, he said it is only in recent years that addiction has become identified as a ghetto problem.

"Now it is moving out again ... I think it behooves us all to consider it as our concern. I think the use of 'pot' has gone up tremendously in the last few years. The use of narcotics perhaps hasn't risen so much, but there has been change in terms of the kinds of people who use it. We find a more and more disturbed population," Dr. Jackson says. Increased publicity about narcotic use means "you don't get accidentally hooked" any more.

Most students at Merritt College wanted to talk with Dr. Jackson about social disorders, and ways they can effect changes they would like to see in society and in education. "Only one class wanted to talk about grass and LSD, and whether minds can function better with it. My answer, of course, was no," the psychologist said. He explained they were talking about better functioning in dealing with social problems, and he told them, "If you want mind drugs, revolutions are going to occur only in your mind . . . people on drugs tend to drop out and watch life go by. I spent a great deal of time in the Afro-American studies department. We talked about sensitivity, the whole business of black liberation and some problems inherent in it.

"There is one theme I keep repeating to the faculty. The academic community must give up any thought of isolation and be instruments for change." He said other colleges he has visited are only making a "pass" at developing a black studies curriculum, and "for me, it was a very positive experience to find a college where they are developing a genuine program."

Dr. Jackson's seven years as psychologist at the Essex County Penitentiary began as "sort of an accident," he says. "I used to play with bands, and on one occasion we played in the prison. A prisoner asked me to talk about musicians and the use of narcotics, and the warden overhead us and said he'd like to give me the job as prison psychologist because he said he had noticed the rapport I had with the inmates. "Then I was working towards my doctorate, but only had a master's degree. I thought about it, and decided to accept."

He calls those years "basically a learning experience. There isn't terribly much a psychologist can do in terms of contemporary prisons. The administration mouths creative rehabilitation, but they do everything to prevent it." Dr. Jackson found it "heartbreaking" when a number of guards he had been training to work as counselors were "physically punitive" toward prisoners after a riot at the prison. He believes that "if administrators were really rehabilitative, guards would be."

The psychologist found that if he counted alcoholism and narcotic addiction together, fully 60 percent of the prison population could be considered addictive. "If we additionally think of addiction as compulsive behavior, including sexual deviation," the percentage would be higher still, he says. "But this is not to say that the culture isn't at fault."

As a Skills Center psychologist, Dr. Jackson still finds music useful in developing rapport with trainees. Last February he helped develop a show, "Evolution of Jazz", that involved teachers, trainees and the community.

The Newark center teaches 24 occupations and has as many as 1,000 trainees enrolled at one time. One of the largest in the nation, it is also considered a model center. But Dr. Jackson says, "I think the program, like most programs, is designed to fail . . . consciously, or unconsciously. Our administration recognizes this, and consequently has found ways to deal with the inadequacies." As an example of his criticism, he cites a program planned to take nine months to train a machine operator. "Suddenly the government says he must do it in five months. That means a man must be taught to read, write and operate a machine in that brief period. These trainees aren't stupid, they know it's impossible. It's like taking water and pouring it through a funnel or into a bucket."

The Center has a 90 percent placement rate, and a follow-up study showed that after three years, 66 percent were still working at the jobs for which they had been trained. "As a psychologist, I am not so concerned that they be trained in a special occupation as with the possibility that they can learn to deal with negative conditions and make an adjustment," he says.

Interest in the psychology of music and concern for fellow musicians who were drug addicts helped spark Dr. Jackson's original choice of a career. But a discussion with a famous educator tipped the scale between a choice of law and the social sciences. "He talked about the importance of trying to change people instead of institutions. Now I'm not so sure he was right. Institutions change people," Dr. Jackson concludes.

Back to Contents


[Editor's Note: James Gashel is President of the Student Division of the National Federation of the Blind and a member of the NFB Board of Directors. Upon his graduation from the University of Northern Iowa this year he changes roles—from student to teacher. But Jim tells his own story in a recent letter to the Editor.]

My most recent good fortune is in a broader sense, an accomplishment for the blind as a whole. On April 24th I signed a contract with the Public Schools of Pipestone, Minnesota. I will be assigned three seventh grade English classes, one ninth grade speech class, one high school speech class, and will direct the extra-curricular debate program for high school students. Pipestone has a fine school system with progressive leadership and a young and energetic staff.

Lest one become too complacent over the difficulties of blind teacher placement however, let me relate my experience—which, by the way, is better than the norm for most prospective blind teachers. For a solid two months I interviewed with school after school as their representatives visited the University. Almost without exception every school official praised me for my "gallant achievements" and gave me an application for employment. In addition, I requested applications from many other schools who had openings on file in the placement bureau. In the space of these two months, I completed and returned somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty to thirty-five applications to school systems in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, Arizona, and Minnesota—there were no openings in my field at any school in Iowa, although I have noticed three since I signed.

In the case of Pipestone, I was most fortunate to run into school officials who were very much predisposed toward hiring a person with a physical disability. Indeed, they indicated that they would not have asked for an interview with me if they had doubts about the general competence of the blind. Indicative of this attitude was the fact that blindness was a topic of discussion for approximately five minutes of a two and one half hour interview, and their questions were not the typical simple ones with answers that everyone knows if they just think a bit.

Indeed, I think this may be the heart of the matter. Thirty-four school administrators didn't bother to think about the competence of the blind when they received my application, or as is probably more accurate, their thinking led to the traditional answer that the blind are dependent, incompetent, and therefore, cannot teach. Until we can change the minds of these school administrators, and countless others like them across the country, the entrance of the blind into the teaching profession will continue to be made in slow and painful steps.

Back to Contents


The second annual state convention of the Hawaii Federation of the Blind—dedicated to the memory of the late Eva H. Smyth and graced by the presence of Manuel Urena—was held on March 22, 1969, at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Waikiki.

Urena, board member of the National Federation and assistant director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, was the principal banquet speaker and also addressed the convention during its morning session.

Miss Smyth, veteran leader and teacher of the Hawaii blind who died on February 19 at the age of 77, also gave her name to the newly established Eva H. Smyth Award, to be presented annually by the Hawaii Federation for distinguished service to the blind people of the state. The first recipient of the award, presented with an engraved plaque in banquet ceremonies, was Dr. Floyd Matson, long-time associate of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek who is now a University of Hawaii professor.

Among prominent guest speakers during the all-day meeting were Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi; Tadao Beppu, Speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives; State Senator John Landrum; State Librarian James Hunt; and a panel of representatives of the Hawaii rehabilitation service for the blind: Mrs. Elizabeth Morrison, director; Mrs. Mary Chang, adjustment section, and Mrs. Yasuko Takemoto, counseling section. The lively panel discussion, moderated by Floyd Matson, also was joined by Manuel Urena.

Officers elected to lead the Hawaii Federation for the coming year are: Warren Toyama, president; Donald Thomson, vice president; Amelia Cetrone, recording secretary, Ann Itoh, corresponding secretary, and Maxine Tyau, treasurer. Board members are Jean Toyama, Toshiyuki Takano, Valerie Marino, and Floyd Matson.

Other highlights of the successful meeting, attended by upwards of 100 blind persons from all major islands of the Hawaii chain, included a talk on development of a statewide Public school program for the blind by Dr. Hatsuko Kawahara, director of the special education branch of the State Department of Education; and a report on recent Amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act by Valerie Lloyd Marino, social worker and active Federationist.

Back to Contents


[Editor's Note: Congressman James G. O'Hara of Michigan has introduced in the Congress H.R. 9453 which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to secure to physically handicapped workers employed in sheltered workshops the right to organize and bargain collectively. The measure is being sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind. Representative O'Hara recently wrote the following letter to John Nagle, Chief of the NFB's Washington Office.]

On March 25, 1 reintroduced my proposal to secure for workers employed in sheltered workshops the right to organize labor unions and bargain collectively with their employers.

The National Labor Relations Act guarantees these rights to most American workingmen, but they have been denied to handicapped workers by a 1960 decision of the National Labor Relations Board.

The authors of our labor laws realized that only by united action could the working men and women of this country gain sufficient strength to deal with management on a basis of equality. I see absolutely no reason why this same right should not be extended as well to handicapped workers.

The people who are employed in sheltered workshops are good workers and good people. I firmly believe that they are entitled to the same rights and privileges guaranteed to most other American workers.

You can count on me to do all I can to obtain prompt consideration of this very important measure.

Back to Contents


by LaDonna M. Olson [From the Mankato Free Press as reprinted in the Minnesota Bulletin.]

Over 65? Retired? Sitting around the house twiddling your thumbs? It happens to some senior citizens who enter into a dimension of life they can't come to grips with. But not one well-known North Mankatoan . . . W. G. "Bill" Fenger. He's a senior citizen, as a matter of fact, 74. He has not only found something to do with a portion of his time, but provides something vital to enable another person to work. "He's my eyes," said Ralph Hilgendorf.

Hilgendorf, blind since he was 17, is a Counselor with the State Department of Public Welfare Services for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, with offices at 700 S. Front St. He has a caseload of 165 persons. Fenger reads all of Hilgendorf's written communications with other agencies and all case files which enable him to "hold down a job", he says. "He's done an awful lot", emphasized Hilgendorf, adding "there is no way possible we could justify that much time for a secretary." Fenger, who is considered "one of the staff", comes to the office a half day each week and sometimes two half days a week, to be Hilgendorf s eyes. In the top drawer of Hilgendorf's desk, a divider separates the "in" mail from the "out" mail and to the left are his case files which Fenger reads. Grateful for the North Mankatoan's volunteer services, Hilgendorf claims Fenger derives personal satisfaction from the job too. "I think he lives for it. He has coffee breaks with us—comes out with his usual jokes—we sorta consider him staff. He's always on time."

Fenger has read for Hilgendorf without remuneration the past 2 1/2 years. The Services for the Blind office opened in August of 1966, when both Hilgendorf and Fenger began work there. Before that, Hilgendorf, employed at the Rehabilitation Center, had Mrs. Cora Ekle as a volunteer reader for four years. Hilgendorf attributes his success in no small way to these two persons. They, acting as his eyes, are essential in his dark work, said Hilgendorf, because correspondence and records are part of it. His work basically involves counseling children with visual handicaps or who are blind, working with their parents and assisting with education.

Another aspect of Hilgendorf s work is going into the homes of blind homemakers, counseling them and getting them back to useful lives through rehabilitation. In the area Hilgendorf covers, basically the south and western sections of Minnesota, he expects 20 such homemaker cases this year. Last year, he assisted in rehabilitation of 22 homemakers. To take Hilgendorf on his various case calls is volunteer driver Harold Sosinski, a handicapped person, who has been with him the past 2 l /i years. Sosinski, like Fenger, receives no pay although Hilgendorf turns over his travel expense allotment to him and also buys his meals when they are on the road.

About one night each week, they stay over in some community because the trip back to Mankato would be uncalled for, said Hilgendorf. Of both Fenger and Sosinski, his eyes on the road and his eyes in the office, Hilgendorf said, "we are sorta meeting each other's needs."

Hilgendorf urged other senior citizens that a need exists for more of this type of volunteer service, either now or in the future. The supervisor at the office is also blind. "He needs volunteer readers from time to time," said Hilgendorf. When the blind counselor is not in his office, the sightless world in which he lives doesn't appear to bother him. "Not that I enjoy being blind . . . it's here so I make the most of it." "I have a general concept of what girls look like. I do know why boys whistle at them," he laughed. Hilgendorf relies mostly on the city buses to transport him to work. Living on Black Eagle Drive, he said it is easier since the routes have been changed. "Now I don't have to walk five blocks." At other times, he said, he gets a lift from a co-worker who lives near his home. In addition to his job, Hilgendorf goes to night school taking a rehabilitation counselor's course at Mankato State College. In addition to Hilgendorf's 165 cases at the office, two other full-time counselors carry caseloads numbering between 80 and 90 persons each. All are persons who have visual handicaps or are totally blind. Basic services provided for are prevention of blindness for children whose parents cannot financially meet the medical help; detailing education programs for those with visual handicaps or the blind; providing vocational rehabilitation to the blind; vocational planning and self care for the geriatric blind.

Back to Contents


There are those who still talk about the evils of the white cane and the white cane laws. They are those who insist on remaining nonbelievers—about everything concerning the blind. They will not believe that a blind person is capable of independence in any form. They will not believe that the blind person can make a decision or judgment on his own. they will not believe that the blind person is capable of independent action and especially is he not able to travel about on his own. They will not believe that the white cane is a protective device and an aid to independence but see it and white cane laws as instruments of discrimination and segregation. They do believe that the blind person should see like other people in traffic—or stay off the streets since he cannot.

They will not believe that drivers, and pedestrians, whatever their physical condition, have obligations and duties toward each other by custom and by law. They will not believe that if these laws are not obeyed punishment follows. They will not believe that these same rules apply to the blind and sighted alike.

The nonbelievers prove themselves to be nonreaders as well. One might hope that those who publish arguments against the white cane and white cane laws would at least have read the relevant literature. One writer recently thought he saw dangers and paradoxes in the use and the law. A reading of his editorial reveals that the dangers are in his lack of knowledge and the paradox in his occupation. The editorial reveals an illogical mixture of misstatement and myth. Perhaps the following, if these nonbelievers can be persuaded to read, may help to clarify the situation.

Certainly the Model White Cane Law was not written and does not exist in a vacuum. It is not the work of sighted workers for the blind worried that their blind charges might venture out from under their sheltering dependence. Nor is it the work of sincere peripatologiests doing all they are able to keep the blind from veering off the path of protection. It is the product of thorough, scholarly research and analysis by experts in the law who brought to the work their own practical experience as blind people living very active, mobile lives in a sighted world. It is hard to make these nonbelievers see that the blind, too, have "a right to live in the world". [See tenBroek, The Right to Live in the World: the Disabled in the Law of Torts, 54 California Law Review 841, reprinted in the Braille Monitor August-December, 1966, January 1967.]

As was said in that article, all people have a right to use the streets and highways. They have this right whether on foot or in automobiles and they can exercise this right without distinction as to time or place. When exercising this right to the use of the streets and highways, pedestrians and drivers alike are under an obligation to proceed in a safe and careful fashion so as not to infringe the equal rights of others or to injure them. Drivers and pedestrians alike must proceed with due care even when they have the right of way. When they do not have the right of way, they may still proceed but must do so with the care appropriate in the circumstances including the circumstance that others have the right of way.

The disabled have the same right to the use of the streets and highways as other people do. When they exercise the right, they too must proceed with due care in the circumstances, including the circumstance of their disability. In 1960 the New Hampshire Supreme Court held in the case of Bernard v. Russell that "The reasonable man standard has been flexible enough in the case of the aged and physically disabled persons to bend with the practical experiences of everyday life. The law does not demand that the blind shall see, or the deaf shall hear, or that the aged shall maintain the traffic ability of the young." As Professor tenBroek pointed out, the reasonable man standard does require that the disabled make greater use of their remaining senses and faculties: that the blind listen more carefully, the deaf look more closely, and the aged or lame allow more space and time. When should the driver know that the pedestrian is disabled? The crutches or wheelchair of the lame are obvious notice to him. Hearing aids, on the other hand, are very inconspicuous. Uncertain step and irregular progress are not obvious signs of blindness in the pedestrian although they may call for further observation by the motorist. The guide dog and the cane are important as devices of notice to the driver, whatever their usefullness as travel aids to the pedestrian.

"However the white cane laws have affected the legal status of the blind and partially blind, they have as a matter of fact greatly contributed to their safety. Knowledge that the white cane and dog are symbols of the blind is yet far from universal but is becoming fairly well diffused. To the extent that this knowledge does exist, the cane and the dog provide effective notice and inspire efforts on the part of drivers to avoid their users and on the part of pedestrians and others to assist them. The very reasons for the success of the white cane, ironically, are given by opponents of the statutes as arguments against them: They call attention to the blind and in fact make them a conspicuous class, advertising their helplessness, arousing public sympathy, and serving as a badge of their difference and limitations. According to this view, the more the knowledge of the significance of the white cane spreads, the worse the situation becomes for the blind. The response of one blind man is that he would rather be conspicuous and alive than inconspicuous and dead. Organizations of the blind take the position, that far from being a badge of their separate unequal and dependent status, the white cane is a symbol of the equality, independence and mobility of the blind."

If all men were equally prudent and reasonable we would not need traffic lights or even traffic laws. Why do we have them? The reasons are obvious. The white cane and the guide dog serve the same purpose. If every state would adopt the provisions of the model law, there would be no problem with such irrelevancies as trying to define terms such as carrying the cane in "a raised position". Existing white cane and guide dog laws which no longer serve, can be amended. The fact that they do exist, and that they are bad, does not mean that all white cane laws are useless. It only means that the citizens of the states which have inadequate white cane laws, must work together to pass the model.

Back to Contents


A group of enthusiastic members of the Utah State Association for the Blind met for their annual convention at the Murray B. Allen Center for the Blind in Salt Lake City on May 24th. The sessions were ably chaired by Mrs. Kathryn Thompson, President.

The morning session was highlighted by a panel discussion on "Employment of the Blind in Utah" in which representatives of the Employment Security Department, the Hill Air Force Base, the Department of Rehabilitation, and the employed blind participated. There was also an address by the Assistant Director of the State Department of Welfare in which he explained how lack of funds would prevent his Department from implementing fully the new welfare legislation for the blind just enacted by the Legislature.

The afternoon session featured a panel discussion on "Student Problems and Suggestions", moderated by Charles Walhof of the staff of the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Vice President of the Student Division of the NFB.

Positions of officers to be filled were those of Vice President and Secretary. Norma Spencer of Salt Lake City was re-elected Vice President and Grace Smith of Provo was elected Secretary.

Two honored guests at the convention were Kenneth Hopkins, Director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, and his charming wife Mary. A student of the Commission also attended.

Almost 100 persons gathered for the evening banquet at which several awards were made for outstanding service to the blind. The Editor of the Braille Monitor, representing the President of the National Federation of the Blind, spoke of the aims and achievements of the NFB.

The most exhilarating impression one gamed from attending the convention was the clearly evident spirit of resurgence and rededication to Federationism which characterized all activities of the gathering.

Back to Contents


[An HEW Release]

The Federal Government employs more than 200,000 handicapped workers, of which a large percentage are sightless. Several Federal agencies, as employers of a large number of blind individuals, are interested in increasing the productivity and responsibility of their sightless employees. The new typewriters are truly a blessing for them.

A case in point is the Social Security Administration, which recently became the first Federal executive agency to install an IBM braille electric typewriter. Patrick Tallaro, Coordinator for Handicapped Employees at Social Security's national headquarters in Woodlawn, Maryland, states that among people directly working with his agency's blind employees, it was generally conceded that their biggest problem was the time-consuming nature of converting much of the work into brailled notes.

"We knew what the problem was,' Tallaro said, "we just couldn't come up with a practical solution. Now we have it in one neat package," he continued with an obvious reference to the recently acquired machine.

At the Social Security Headquarters, just outside of Baltimore, the Braille electric typewriter is put to exceptionally good use. Housed in the agency's Secretarial Services Unit, it is being utilized in conjunction with a bank of dictating equipment. If an employee wants something typed in braille, all that he has to do is dial "D" on the telephone, dictate the material, and specify that it is to by typed in braille. Miss Martha Seabrooks, a blind typist, transcribes the material from the dictating equipment and types it on the braille machine. For the first time in her typing career, Miss Seabrooks can proofread her own work. Later that same day, a messenger takes the final copies to the requesting party.

The agency also uses the machine to provide blind claimants with a brailled response to their inquiries, if they so desire. On the disability beneficiary rolls alone, there are more than 30,000 blind persons; on the old-age benefit rolls, there are considerably more. Providing claimants and beneficiaries with brailled replies is certain to help them better understand the Administration's programs and provide them with a continuous reference source.

Commenting on how Social Security's management feels toward the revolutionary typewriter, Jack S. Futterman, Assistant Commissioner for Administration, said: "The machine will provide new channels of communication for our sightless employees and enable them to assume greater responsibilities. Our blind employees have done an outstanding job, but we know that they have abilities that are untapped, not because of any unwillingness to do so, but rather because of difficulties that have stood in their way. The braille electric typewriter will help us to eliminate many of those difficulties."

Back to Contents


[Editor's Note: The following appeared in the Hartford (Connecticut) Times.]

Pretty 15-year-old Jeanette Smith looks like all the other skiers wedeling their way down the Tote Road Trail at Maine's Sugarloaf Mountain. But you know something is different. Then the tinkle of a tiny bell on the instructor's ski pole tingles one's curiosity. This frail girl in a powder-blue parka, linking tight turns down a steep pitch is part of an epical drama being quietly enacted on the mountainside.

Jeanette has been blind since birth. The family interest in this sport prompted Jeanette to face what most might think is an impossible challenge. But praise is modestly brushed aside by the family of this courageous girl.

Sharing the family's praise is Harry Baxter, now general manager at Sugarloaf. He opened the world of skiing to Jeanette. He held Jeanette up as she became accustomed to the heavy ski boots. He held her hand up the novice slope. In a remarkably short time, Baxter had Jeanette snowplowing down the hill. He would ski backwards in front of her, tinkling the little bell to give her direction.

Toughest part of Jeanette's course was riding the T-bar lift. She made the mistake of most beginners. She relaxed on the T-bar and tried to sit on the bar instead of letting it push her along. She made that mistake only once. Now she has learned the spacing of the bars on the cable. By sound, she can time the bar around the wheel and is ready for it. She is so familiar with the three T-bars at Sugarloaf s lower slopes that she counts the towers by ear on the way up and knows exactly when to unload.

"She only started skiing last winter," Baxter said. "Already she is doing stem Christies and wide-track parallel." Baxter rates Jeanette as a D Class student and skiing as well as most intermediates. She has good control. She never falls. And she has skied all of the lower trails at Sugarloaf. The only problem is on windy days. "The wind carried the sound of my voice away," Baxter explained. "At first, Jeanette followed these sounds away from me but we've learned to compensate for this."

Jeanette tips the scales at 115 pounds, has studied modern dance and done some ice skating. She proves that no handicap is so great it cannot be overcome.

Back to Contents


by Harold L. Reagan

The spring business meeting of the Louisville Association of the Blind was held at the Kentucky Hotel on April 19, 1969. The morning session was devoted to vending stands. There was a lengthy discussion of the various problems arising from the use of automated equipment since the Kentucky Business Enterprises Program is greatly increasing the use of vending machines in then vending facilities. John Taylor, representing the NEB, presented much valuable information concerning the Iowa Vending Program. T. V. Cranmer and Robert E. Lawrence of the Kentucky Program, were on hand to assist in the discussion.

In the afternoon session, R. E. Whitehead reported on the new Lion's Lodge for the Blind. T. V. Cranmer presented information about the new library for the blind in Frankfurt and other information concerning rehabilitation work for the blind in the state. John Taylor outlined current NFB legislation in Congress. A motion was unanimously approved to ask the president to write to Kentucky Congressmen John C. Watts and Eugene Snyder to co-sponsor the disability bill. The assembly approved a resolution to urge state and local governments in Kentucky to utilize the available skills of competent blind persons as government employees. The following officers were elected to serve for the coming year: Harold Reagan, President; Glen Shoulders, Vice President; Helen McDaniel, Recording Secretary; Eloise Becker, Corresponding Secretary; and Betty Jean Nicely, Treasurer.

The afternoon session was followed at 5:30 P.M. by an excellent banquet. The banquet speaker was John Taylor who presented a wonderful address, which was a great conclusion to a grand day for the organized blind of Louisville and a demonstration of the strengthening of Federationism in the Louisville area.

Back to Contents


[Reprinted from the Arizona Republic]

A blind Phoenix couple were barred from entering the Palace West Theater because they were accompanied by a seeing eye dog.

Former Air Force Captain Jack Redding, and Bette Shea were out for their first date-dinner and the show, "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown." But the sophisticated downtown theater unstylishly shut the door when the manager saw the dog.

When the ex-jet pilot and the blind switchboard operator for the Youth Opportunity Center arrived to pick up their $4-a-seat tickets, they found no welcome from theater manager Edwin DeRocher.

DeRocher said he told them flatly: "The fire department won't let us let anyone in with a dog. Someone might trip over him in the dark or be bitten and then we would have a lawsuit on our hands. "It would be too dangerous in case of fire," DeRocher said. "If a blind person wants to come and see a performance, we encourage him to come with a sighted person, not a dog," he told The Arizona Republic yesterday. But, said Fire Chief Robert Ross: "That is no regulation of ours. I have never heard of a guide dog not being able to go anywhere with a blind person."

Redding, who was discharged from the Air Force in 1963 following a flying accident in Reno which left him totally blind and crippled in the right leg, said he called to reserve the tickets and told the ticket girl he was bringing his dog Heidi, a 2-year-old German shepherd. "I told her we would like to sit someplace where the dog wouldn't bother anyone and I assured her she was well trained and quiet," said Redding. However, when The Republic questioned DeRocher about this yesterday, he said: "The girl asked me about it because she thought it was some kind of a gag. She was going to call him back but he (Redding) had told her they were on their way and had hung up."

After the abrupt dismissal at the theater, Redding said he asked DeRocher: "Where can a blind person go for entertainment in this city?" Redding said DeRocher didn't answer him. Redding said he had never been ousted from a restaurant or nightclub in Phoenix until this incident. At the Luke AFB Officers Club, he and Heidi are always welcome. "In fact," he said, "sometimes the guys are happier to see her than me."

Back to Contents


by Jean Scott Neel

[Editor's Note: One of the most recent publications of The Twin Vision Publishing Division of the American Brotherhood for the Blind is the delightful history of the white cane and its predecessors.]


THE WHITE CANE STORY is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, blind scholar, educator, author and leader of the blind. He was the inspirational and moving force in the struggle to gain security, equality and opportunity for the blind of the world.


To Every Blind Person Who Is About to Undertake the Adventure of Cane Travel:

If you have not already been introduced to your White Cane, no doubt you soon will be. Your White cane will become a part of your life. It will be your constant companion, your guide, your passport to independence. Of all your personal possessions, your White Cane will be the one most closely associated with you throughout your life, throughout the world. We want you to know more about your White Cane, and about other kinds of canes, too.

Alone I walk the peopled city,
     Where each seems happy with his own;
O friends, I ask not for your pity—
     I walk alone.

—Obadiah Milton Conover


Did you know that there are probably more than three million canes in everyday use in the United States alone? There are many kinds of canes, used for many different purposes—from the cane used for added support by the lame or those whose steps are no longer certain, to the many canes, plain and fancy, used simply because they are jaunty and fashionable, to the White Cane used by the blind as a bumper, probe, and extension of the senses.

In the dim, distant, unrecorded history of the human race, the Cave Man carried a rough club. He used it to kill the game he ate, to fend off wild animals that endangered him, and to fend off his human enemies, too. A step beyond the short club was the long club, or "staff". The Cave Man could use a staff, five or six feet long, to ease his way over rough ground and up mountain sides, or to support himself when a leg was injured.

Even then infants were born blind, and children and adults became blind through disease or accident. In those days the fierce struggle for survival often dictated that those who became helpless because of the loss of sight, or for any other reason, were killed or left to the mercy of nature or their enemies. But man is endowed with an indomitable will to live, and some of those who became blind must have had the courage to fight for their own survival. They found that long, reasonably straight branches from trees, stripped of their small twigs, could be used both for protection and as a probe into the unknown around them. Thus, perhaps, the first "White Cane" was born.

Time passed—hundreds of thousands of years. Man became increasingly able to cope with his problems, to control his environment and thus his own fate. The cave Man's crude staff evolved and became specialized. In addition to the staff carried by the blind to detect his surroundings, there was the shepherd's staff, for guiding sheep; the pastoral staff, borne as an emblem of authority; the pilgrim's staff, with a knob in the middle for the grip; the quarter-staff, an old English weapon; the alpenstock, for mountain climbing; and the simple walking cane, sometimes useful, sometimes only an adornment.

Throughout ancient literature many instances are recorded of the blind traveling alone with the aid of nothing more than a cane. People were so impressed by the accomplishments of the blind with only the aid of a cane that the cane became a miraculous gift of God and was handed down as an article of faith.

From ancient China we read of blind beggars and actors who traveled in groups through the country with the aid of "sticks and gongs". Seneca wrote of the blind "leaning on their staves" in Rome during the first century of the Christian era. The Greek historian of the fifth century, A.D., Herodotus, noted that the blind guided travelers across the desert sands of Egypt with uncanny ease and sureness.

In every age of ancient history, although most of the blind were reduced to conditions of poverty, slavery, or beggary, instances are recorded of a few blind individuals who rose to positions of prominence and power—as philosophers, teachers, mathematicians, musicians or authors. Democritus, the Greek philosopher of the fourth century, B.C., is said to have blinded himself so that vision would not impair his "mental eye". In the first century, B.C., Cicero had a blind tutor named Diodotus the Stoic who taught him philosophy and geometry. Homer was probably ancient history's greatest blind genius. He is thought to have become completely blind before writing his two great epic works, the "Iliad" and "Odyssey". Only John Milton, who lived in the 1600's, ranks with Homer as an author of great epic poetry. Milton's greatest works, "Paradise Lost", "Paradise Regained" and "Sansome Agonistes" were all written after he became blind.

We do not know if all these ancients carried canes, but from more modern history we have detailed accounts of such persons as John Metcalf, whose fame spread all over England during the 1700's. He was blinded by smallpox at the age of six, and six months later was exploring the nearby streets without a guide. By nine he was going all over town alone, and by fourteen was diving, swimming and taking mad gallops on his father's horse. At nineteen, with a stout thorn stick in one hand and a fiddle in the other, he started walking through England—once covering 200 miles in six days. He became famous as a road builder and contractor, living a spirited, robust life to the age of 93.

About the time that John Metcalf died, Louis Braille was born in the French village of Coupvray. Shortly before his fourth birthday he lost the sight of one eye when he accidentally jabbed an awl into it. The other eye was lost from infection. At first the newly blinded child just sat on a bench in his house. By degrees he learned to do things for himself. Then his father gave him a small stick, and with this he began to explore the outside world. Soon he became a familiar figure on the stony lanes of Coupvray. Louis Braille was to grow up to be a musician and teacher of the blind, and to be immortalized by devising the remarkable system of raised-dot writing which you are now reading—braille.

Historial references show that even blind people had different ideas concerning the use of their canes. Some thought its chief use was to chase off dogs and other animals. Others used it to make loud noises, warning people that a blind person was coming so everybody could scamper out of his way. Some thought the cane was simply a support against falling, and still others considered it a means of clearing the path of stones and other hazards that might be stumbled over.

The modern White Cane dates from World War I, when it first came to be used in France and England. Historically, there is some dispute over which country can lay claim to the first use of the white cane! In any event, it became customary for a white-painted cane, often with a red tip or red stripe, to indicate that the bearer was blind. Its use spread from Europe to North America.

The first special city ordinances regarding the use of the White Cane were adopted in this country in 1930. The White Cane campaign then became national in scope, and today all of the fifty states have White Cane laws. White Cane laws, in general, give the blind bearer of a White Cane, or the blind person led by a guide dog, the right-of-way over other pedestrian and vehicular traffic. It must be noted, however, that carrying a White Cane, or being led by a guide dog, does not free the blind person from using reasonable caution and responsibility as he travels, or from observing pedestrian traffic regulations. His cane or his dog indicate to others that he is blind and is to be extended reasonable courtesy and caution—but does not free him from responsible action on his own part.

The National Federation of the Blind, an organization of blind persons themselves, spearheaded the adoption of White Cane laws, and the adoption by Congress of every October 15 as White Cane Safety Day. White Cane Safety Day is a reminder to all Americans, blind and sighted alike, that the White Cane is a symbol of safety to the blind, to be observed by all citizens. It is also a means of reminding all citizens of the right of the blind to enjoy the greatest possible measure of personal independence—the right to move about.

It was not until World War II that an intensive study of canes and cane travel was made with any considerable number of blind persons. Experiments had been made with various materials in an attempt to find the best kind of cane—with blackthorn, bamboo, rattan, ash, gum, oak, steel alloys and many other materials. Even umbrellas were tried as canes for the blind because their steel tips gave a sharp reverberating sound, and, when opened, umbrellas were a good indicator of wind currents. But the most frequently used cane was the short, wooden cane with a crooked handle, patterned after the 19th century walking stick. It was too heavy and too awkward. It became obvious that blinded veterans of World War II needed an adequate cane along with a system of training that would teach them to use their canes in a fairly short period of time.

A series of studies resulted in the development ot the most widely used cane today—the long, thin, straight fiberglass cane. Its length gives the user two steps notice of a change in terrain or an obstacle in his path. The material of which it is made is more flexible than other materials and reverberates better against objects it encounters. It is equipped with a tip consisting of a ring of steel clamped around rubber, which increases the sensitivity of the cane. Other widely used and very satisfactory tips are made of plastic.

The collapsible cane, made of a series of tubular metal sections usually held together by strong nylon elastic, can be quickly folded or unfolded. It is very useful when traveling in an area where the user may wish to store it in a small space—under a chair, alongside him on a seat or in his pocket. Metal telescoping canes, made of tubular sections which slide inside one another, are also available. There is also a cane which runs along the ground on two small wheels. It is useful as a surface guide, but difficult to use as an above-the-ground probe.

Experiments are being conducted to discover and perfect new kinds of canes. For example, one "cane", which has been the object of experiments for some years, uses radar. Echoes bounce back from an object to a cone-shaped, flashlight-sized instrument which emits tones that become lower as the user comes nearer to an object. This instrument only detects objects directly in front of the beam, still leaving the hazard of overhanging objects and surface changes.

You will be taught to use your cane correctly. Avoid forming bad habits that are hard to undo. The cane can be used efficiently or inefficiently, gracefully or awkwardly. Of special importance—you will be taught to carry your cane and yourself in such a way that you stand tall and dignified and at ease.

Using the cane is a skill—it doesn't come naturally. Its chief use is the avoidance of danger. You will learn to survey curbs and steps and walkways in such a way that your cane becomes a special sense to you. You will learn, with a great deal of practice, that the tap of your cane sets up auditory vibrations from which you can judge distances, and even shape, location and quality of objects near you. To a degree, you will, in time, develop your own kind of radar. Bats are blind and are able to avoid objects in their paths by vibrations from those objects.

When you have mastered cane travel, you will have gained your independence. You are protected by law when you travel on any public thoroughfare and in any public place when you are accompanied by your cane, providing you use reasonable caution. It may seem easier to be guided by holding the arm of a sighted person, but it is unrealistic to think of going through life with only this kind of guidance—or that you will want to.

So you are about to join some three million Americans who carry canes of one kind or another. Your cane will serve you well. It is a very special kind of cane—it is your badge of independence, equality, and mobility. Your White Cane is your passport to the world.


Kenneth Jernigan, President
American Brotherhood for the Blind

Security, equality and opportunity—the White Cane has become the symbol of these precious rights to the blind. Its history has been that of all great social reforms—from a challenge to be met, to experimentation, to custom, to passage of laws of varying effectiveness in the various states, culminating today in the enactment into statute in many states of the Model White Cane Law.

Hailed as a civil rights law for the blind, the visually handicapped, and the otherwise physically disabled, the measure makes it the policy of the state that these persons shall be encouraged and enabled to participate fully in the social and economic life of the state.

Calling for the cessation of discrimination on the grounds of disability, the statute declares that the blind and disabled have the same right as the able-bodied to "full and free" use of public streets, sidewalks, conveyances, public facilities and places of public accommodation.

The state calls upon the general citizenry to expect to see blind and disabled persons abroad in the community going to and from the places of their work and recreation, and to take all necessary precautions to secure their safety.

Motorists are required to yield the right-of-way to totally or partially blind persons carrying a predominantly white cane or using a guide dog, and the "driver of any vehicle approaching such pedestrian who fails to yield the right-of-way or to take all reasonably necessary precautions to avoid injury to such blind pedestrian is guilty of a misdemeanor."

One of the most significant features of the Model White Cane Law is the provision declaring that it shall be the policy of the state that blind persons, visually handicapped, and otherwise disabled persons shall be employed in the service of the state and its political subdivisions, in the public schools and in all other employment supported in whole or in part by public funds on the same terms and conditions as the able-bodied. The enactment of the Model White Cane Law should encourage employers to modernize and make their hiring practices equitable.

The Model White Cane Law, conceived by the late Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, revered past president of the American Brotherhood for the Blind, has already been enacted by 13 states, bringing them into the twentieth century with respect to the right of the blind and disabled to live in the world. This is, indeed, a fitting climax to the long and glorious history of the White Cane.

—August, 1968


Chevigny, Hector and Braverman, Sydell: "Adjustment of the Blind." Yale University Press, 1950.

Ross, Ishbel: "Journey into Light." Appleton-Dentury-Crofts, Inc., 1951.

Burtscher, William J.: "Romance Behind Walking Canes." Dorrance and Co., 1945.

tenBroek, Jacobus: "The Right to Live in the World—The Disabled in the Law of Torts." California Law Review, 1966.

tenBroek Jacobus: "He Walks by Faith Justified by Law." An address.

Zahl, Paul A., Editor: "Blindness." Princeton University Press, 1950.

DeGering, Etta: "Seeing Fingers." David McKay Co., Inc., 1962.

Back to Contents


Dr. Arnold E. Schaefer, director of a survey ordered by Congress in late 1967 to see if hunger in the United States really exists, says "it does." "Scientifically," he explained, "it must be described as malnutrition, undernutrition, and hidden hunger—where a person fills his belly but his tissues still hunger for essential nutrients." In these terms, the study of 12,000 mainly poor persons in Texas, Louisiana, New York State, and Kentucky showed 15 to 20 percent suffering so much malnutrition they are candidates for immediate medical treatment.

This shocked and surprised Dr. Schaefer and other experts, he said as he gave the United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs a preliminary status report on the survey. He said the survey, which is continuing on a random sample basis, has turned up few cases of outright starvation but showed wide evidence of malnutrition and growth retardation so serious they must also affect mental ability. Ninety percent of brain cell growth occurs between ages one and three, he said, and infants deprived of proper nutrition never recover. For example, he added, a child with anemia caused by malnutrition isn't a good candidate for education.

The survey found that a fifth of the 12,000 persons, and a third of the children under six, are anemic. The children examined are below average in height and growth rate—six to nine months slower in growth in Texas, for instance—and 3.5 percent show retarded bone development. Thirteen percent at all ages and 33 percent of those under six suffer vitamin A deficiency. Twelve to 16 percent show vitamin C deficiency. Nearly 4 percent of children up to age six show vitamin D deficiency—easily preventable, Schaefer said, if they drank vitamin D irradiate milk, that should cost no more than other milk.

Eighteen percent of those 10 and older have severe dental problems commonly associated with poor nutrition. Many had lost permanent teeth by age 12. Five percent at all ages showed evidence of goiter—enlarged thyroid gland—associated with low iodine intake. This is easily corrected in goiter-prone areas by using iodized salt, but in Texas 40 percent of markets don't stock it although it costs no more than other salt.

Four to Five percent at all ages show protruding shoulder blades and potbelly, findings associated with protein and caloric malnutrition. The study showed many other physical marks: skin and muscle problems, bowed legs, 18 cases of rickets (result of vitamin D deficiency) and seven severe cases described by medical terms like Kwashiorkor and Marasmus—common in Biafra today but not the United States. He had not expected to find any such cases, Schaefer said.

He said studies are also to be made in California, New York City, Michigan, West Virginia, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Washington State. In each, state health officials and medical schools direct the study in a representative sample of census tracts. Of the first 1,100 Texas families studied, 50 percent had family incomes under $3,000; 80 percent, under $5,000. Half were Mexican-American, 35 percent Negro, and 15 percent Caucasian.

Back to Contents


April 21st
Santa Cruz

National Federation of the Blind
Des Moines, Iowa
Kenneth Jernigan, President

Dear Kenneth Jernigan,

Thank you very much for the weekly reports from your office. The progress reports are welcomed by our Santa Cruz Chapter of the blind, and read at each meeting. Everyone here says to keep up the good work, and we in turn will continue to write letters. One of our members has written five letters and intends writing more. I think Senator Mills, of the Ways and Means Committee, will be on the receiving end of some mail from our members here. Including of course, letters to others whom you have mentioned. We are all with you one hundred percent and certainly appreciate all your efforts on behalf of the blind everywhere, and on this Disability Insurance Bill in particular.

Many of us have also contacted friends and relatives regarding the important bill, and we hope they too will write letters to members of our U.S. Congress.

We are a small group as yet, but very active both with our NFB, and our California Council here. We are also quite new, with all but one of our members never having belonged to any organized blind group of any sort. I have been more fortunate since my blindness, from the second world war. I've managed a Community Center for the Blind, presided as president of a blind club and, of course, as chairman of our new Chapter here. I feel very fortunate for past experience as this will help us to grow and to become a very active and productive group. At least that is my sincere hope and I shall work towards that end.

Very truly yours,

Ken Kelley

Back to Contents


by Kenneth Jernigan

I herewith enclose a newspaper article concerning tax exemptions which you may Find of interest. In fact, I gather that a great deal of radio, t.v., and newspaper publicity has resulted from the actions of the Iowa affiliate concerning our state income tax exemption.

The key word here is "state". In Iowa a blind person may now get a state income tax exemption which will save him $15 in tax per year. Unless he has at least S3000 in net, taxable income, he does not pay any tax at all in our state, whether he is blind or sighted. Our legislature just passed a bill giving the blind a minimum presumed need of $140 per month for welfare. It also gave us other benefits (See the July Monitor). We have another legislative session in a few months and will be asking for additional benefits.

In addition to philosophical justification, it was obviously good political strategy for the blind of our state to ask the legislature to repeal the exemption—which, as I have already said, amounted to only $15 per year—and even then, helped only those with fairly substantial incomes. By the time this action got into the news media, it got mixed up with the federal income tax exemption, which was not involved at all in our resolution.

Most things have a great deal of good in them if one only looks for it. The present instance is a case in point. I believe the national publicity which we have received has caused and will cause a good deal of favorable public reaction. I think, for instance, that it may give us a substantial boost in passing our disability insurance bill. Incidentally, I do not anticipate that any resolution will be introduced at the upcoming NFB convention to ask Congress to repeal the double federal income tax exemption. It might be noted, however, in passing, that the double federal exemption is not as valuable financially to the blind person as many people think. At most, it is worth only about $10 per month.

In any case, I thought you would like to know the background in view of the quotations ascribed to me throughout the nation by the news media concerning the federal exemption. Perhaps it shows that we are becoming increasingly newsworthy as we progress in the world.

This is the way it really happened:


[Des Moines Tribune]

The Iowa Association of the Blind has passed a resolution instructing its officers to work toward repeal of the extra state income tax exemption for blind persons in the next session of the Legislature.

The resolution says the exemption does not "substantially benefit" blind persons who take it, but "serves to reinforce the misconception of the inferiority of the blind . . . ."

An officer of the organization, which had its convention over the weekend at Vinton, said: "We will seek our rights, but we must also acknowledge our responsibilities."

State Senator David Stanley (Rep., Muscatine), who attended the convention banquet Saturday, said this was the first time in his 11 years as a legislator he had heard of a group asking for removal of its own tax exemption.

Kenneth Jernigan, president of the National Federation of the Blind and director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, gave the main banquet address at the convention.

"The truth is," he said, "that we the blind are not doomed to dependency, but due for independence; not consigned to isolation, but prepared for integration; not condemned to frustration and futility, but capable of fulfillment."

Back to Contents


Marjorie Gallien, corresponding secretary of the Colorado Federation reports: "There will be no Model White Cane Law in Colorado. Although our bill passed the Senate unanimously, there were delays on the calendar so that by the time it reached the House, legislators were in a mood only to drop everything and go home. Despite all our efforts, it and many another bill never left the House Committee. It's true we aren't as exciting as horseracing, as stimulating as narcotics, nor as intriguing as pornography, but I do wish our lives could be half as important as fish. Yet I do feel we made gains in public relations. Several Senators, as well as the Director of Social Services and the Director of Welfare came to know us and now never miss an opportunity to speak. As one Senator wrote: 'You people at the Colorado Federation of the Blind don't riot or demonstrate or make outrageous demands. No, you work quietly and steadily for those things which are important to you. It's very satisfying and it's a real pleasure to work with people like you.' "

* * * * * *

Thirty-five Federationists and their friends attended a banquet held at the Salvation Army Community Center, Alexandria, Virginia, May 22, in celebration of the founding, eleven years ago, of the Potomac Federation of the Blind, Northern Virginia Chapter of the Virginia Federation of the Blind. Committee Chairmen gave annual reports which evidenced a mixture of successes achieved and goals unmet. In reporting on Federal legislation, member of the PFB John Nagle told the banquet attendants that their Congressman, Joel T. Broyhill, had become a co-sponsor of the Burke-NFB Disability Insurance for the Blind bill—"a most important action," stated Nagle, since Congressman Broyhill was the First Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee to endorse H.R. 3782 by the introduction of a companion to it. The following officers, elected at the April PFB meeting, assumed Chapter office: A. J. Pettit, President; Jean Miller, First Vice President; Naomi Thomas, Second Vice President; Marion McDonald, Treasurer; Mary Lee West, Recording Secretary; Mary Catherine Ebert, Corresponding Secretary; and Louise Probst, C.L. Nash, and Robert McDonald, board members. John Nagle spoke briefly, following the installation of officers, and discussed the functions of a local organized blind unit in the community.

* * * * * *

Sanford Allerton writes that Lawrence Welch of Kalamazoo, Michigan died of a heart attack on April 29. He was the founder and first president of the Michigan Council of the Blind in 1949. At that time there were only twenty charter members. With tireless energy and by dint of quarterly meetings which were held all over the state, he built up the group into a statewide organization of considerable size. Chapters and affiliation with the NFB came about in 1957. Larry served on the Board of the Council in various capacities until his death and was president of the Kalamazoo chapter for many years. He never raised objections to any work assignment as a Board member and he was practical and wise in policy making. Nobody understood the needs of the blind better than he. Few had as many friends among the rank and file of blind people. His life was a struggle for jobs and adequate living. In the end, it was an achievement to acquire the twenty quarters of work, necessary for social security. None of us will forget his jovial manner and sincerity. He never hesitated to talk with legislators or agency personnel when Council business was in order, and he expended much time in travel to do so, often at his own expense.

* * * * * *

Thirty-seven members and friends of the Fort Wayne Council of the Blind attended the Annual Chapter Banquet held this year at the Ranch House Restaurant. Garold McGill, President of the organized blind local, served capably as Master of Ceremonies, a barber shop quartet provided entertainment, and John Nagle, NFB Washington Office Chief, discussed the Federation's long-time sponsored and all-out supported Disability Insurance for the Blind bill, answering questions on this and other subjects of concern and interest to the Hoosier Federationists.

* * * * * *

Student speaks for handicapped: Ed Roberts, a student of political science at the University of California at Berkeley, flew to Washington, D.C., to tell the federal government how it can help the handicapped attend college. Roberts has some special knowledge on the subject. He is a polio victim and must spend 16 hours a day in an iron lung. An admiring U.S. Bureau of Higher Education asked him to fly to the capital to help its staff draw guidelines for helping other handicapped persons to receive an education, under the Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended last year. Only one problem stood between the 30-year-old Roberts and his first airplane flight. He could make the trip easily enough with a portable breathing device, but he needed an iron lung for his two-day stay at the other end. This was promptly arranged by the Eastbay chapter of the March of Dimes, which located a lung and had it shipped to Washington.

Twenty students in wheelchairs now attend U.C., including eleven with severe involvements who stay at Cowell Hospital on the campus with Roberts. "It's almost like being set free," he said of his first flight. Roberts will have a number of things to tell the education planners. "Unnecessary steps and narrow doors deny us an education just as effectively as lack of money," he said. "There are double doors at U.C. that require two people to hold open so a wheelchair can go through. Others are impossible—simply because nobody thought a wheelchair patient would ever go to college. Roberts expects to get his doctorate next year. After that, he is aiming for a teaching job at the university level. [Reprinted from the Oakland (California) Tribune.]

* * * * * *

Twenty-five-year-old Betty Rasberry, who overcame blindness to get her college degree, doesn't have to iron other people's clothes any more to make money. As she sat proudly in the audience, the Summit County Community Action Council (CAC) voted to hire her as a $520-a-month social worker in their Head Start program. This is a pre-school program that prepares under-privileged children for formal schooling.

Since she graduated from Akron U last June Betty has tried unsuccessfully to make employers recognize her BA degree in sociology and overlook her blindness. In October she worked briefly as an employment counselor but when she got sick someone else was hired to fill her job. Since then she has had to fill her time with ironing for others, crocheting and rugmaking. "What I really want," she had said, "is time to work at something more than ironing shirts."

According to CAC director Allen Jackson, Betty will have lots to do now. "We're delighted to have her," said Jackson, "she comes very highly recommended." Jackson said Betty will be in charge of Head Start's five social work aides. She will also recruit children for the program and counsel their parents. "I think the job's going to be very rewarding," said Betty. "I'm so very happy."

Betty has been blind since glaucoma—a disease in which excessive pressure inside the eye destroys the optic disk—took away her sight at the age of three. Her parents sent her to the Ohio School for the Blind in Columbus for 12 years. Then she returned to Akron, where she attended Akron U and the Firestone Conservatory of Music off and on for six years.

* * * * * *

Rienzi Alagiyawanna, President of the International Federation of the Blind, is doing everything possible to make the Ceylon Convention of the IFB "a grand triumph for the Ceylon blind and an eternal prestige to the Asian blind." He is arranging for Ceylon mementos for all of the delegates who attend—big packets of tea, ivory elephants, etc. Even a real elephant ride is in store for all of the delegates.

* * * * * *

Turn to a map before you meet the Arkansas Valley Association of the Blind. Note that the Arkansas Valley lies right in the heart of Colorado, and the Association now stands on that map as a brand new affiliate of the Colorado Federation of the Blind. It is so lively and eager it plans to reach right into the mountains or wherever blind people live. Darold Glenn is the President. Although blinded only three years ago, Darold is a champion bowler and has just been elected Junior Governor of a Moose Lodge. At the state hospital, where he operates a vending stand, Darold helps the rehabilitation effort by employing convalescent mental patients. With enthusiasm running so high, we know that the Arkansas Valley Association of the Blind will contribute much to the community, to the Colorado Federation, and to the NFB.

* * * * * *

John Taylor, Assistant Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, spoke recently at the spring meeting of the Louisville Association of the Blind. The next day he was in Sacramento, lending a helping hand to the California Council of the Blind in its effort to secure a California Commission for the Blind. You're a busy man, John—keep up the good work!

* * * * * *

A three-judge Federal court ruled unconstitutional Connecticut's "stepfather" statute dealing with Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Under the Connecticut law, the State Welfare Department had considered the income of a stepfather as being available for the support of a stepchild with whom he lives. But the three judges held it would be unconstitutional to deprive a needy child of AFDC payments on this basis since there is no state law that makes it mandatory for a stepfather to support his stepchild. "Where the support of a child is at stake," the court ruled, "the only relevant circumstance which may relieve the state of its duty to provide AFDC support for a needy child is whether its stepfather did in fact support the child."

* * * * * *

Susan Ford of Bozeman, Montana passes on the good news that Dorothy Dunn, a blind student who will graduate this year from Montana State University has obtained a teaching position in elementary music with the Butte school system. She is the first blind person who has landed a teaching job in Montana. This is a real accomplishment. By the way, Susan Ford is herself interviewing for a teaching job for the coming school year. Wouldn't it be nice if Montana could claim two new blind teachers in one year? Good luck, Susan, and congratulations, Dorothy!

* * * * * *

An early morning blaze destroyed Atlanta's (Georgia) huge library for the blind. About 14,000 of the 20,000 Braille books and large-print books were lost. Only 40 percent of the library's holdings came from printing houses for the blind from which new copies can be ordered. The remainder of the Braille books were transcribed by Atlanta housewives who contributed 2,000 hours a year to the work.

* * * * * *

William F. Johns, who headed Guide Dogs for the Blind of San Rafael, California recently passed away. Mr. Johns was head of the organization since 1945 and was a former director of the Army's World War II Canine Corps where he supervised the training of thousands of reconnaissance dogs.

* * * * * *

It is estimated that some 30 percent of the American people need to wear glasses because of refractive problems. By the age of 45, nearly all Americans should be wearing glasses.

* * * * * *

A special session of the New Mexico Legislature to vote more money for medical care of recipients was urged by the State Board of Health and Social Services. The action was taken by the Board after it voted to withdraw the state from the Medicaid program as of April 30, 1969. Withdrawal from Medicaid was in accordance with directives of the 1969 State Legislature due to lack of funds. The state may not re-enter the Medicaid program on a reduced scale, as also was directed by the Legislature, since officials of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare held this would be contrary to federal regulations.

* * * * * *

Former Federal Drug Administrator James L. Goddard says that Mace (used at times to break up riots) can cause permanent blindness by scarring the cornea and other serious injuries to the eyes such as conjunctivitis and dermatitis.

* * * * * *

Teachers and other educational personnel who work with handicapped children in regular classrooms will receive special training under a program of grants announced by the U. S. Office of Education. The projects will be in 27 states and the District of Columbia. Although attention to the education of the handicapped is increasing, an Office of Education study indicates that approximately 60 percent of all handicapped children between five and seventeen years of age are not receiving the kind of specialized services that educators now know how to provide.

* * * * * *

Workers at California Industries for the Blind in San Diego were recently honored by the Defense Department for outstanding workmanship in filling military contracts. The thirty-five blind workers earned the Defense Department's Zero-Defects Award, the first achieved by a workshop for the blind. Over the past year the workers produced 550,000 belts for the Navy without one reject.

* * * * * *

Renewed efforts to open up all levels of the teaching profession to qualified blind persons in Massachusetts got underway recently when the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind conducted a seminar on the employment of blind persons to teach sighted students. The meeting was attended by school administrators and blind college students interested in careers in the teaching field. There are currently only three blind persons teaching in public schools in Massachusetts. California, Michigan and New York are leaders in the number of blind teachers in public schools, both elementary and secondary, and in the diversity of subjects taught by these teachers.

* * * * * *

Eddie Motter, a blind gymnast, was a member of the gym team of the University of California at Los Angeles and held the enviable title of high-point man for the four-year period of his undergraduate work. He ranked in the first three Pacific Coast Conference gymnasts and has gained national recognition. Both judges and spectators are constantly amazed by the difficult feats of skill and power exercised by Motter with professional finesse.

* * * * * *

Recently more than 150 employees of the California Department of Social Welfare gathered to mark the Golden Anniversary of Aid to the Blind in that State. The fifty years of program development have been featured by such highlights as a floor to relief in 1937, a separate program of Aid to Potentially Self-Supporting Blind in 1941, exempt income in 1950, repeal of responsibility of relatives provisions in 1961 and the repeal of durational state residence in 1963.

* * * * * *

The Annual Report of the Pakistan Association of the Blind recounts the progress made by that organization in the ten short years of its existence. The Association's activities include scholarships, reader help, books in Braille, transcription service, a counseling and guidance center, and job placement. The remarkable achievements in so short a time are due, in large measure, to the leadership of the President, Dr. Fatima Shah, and to the unstinting encouragement and support given by Dr. Isabelle Grant.

* * * * * *

Blind shareholders of American Telephone and Telegraph Company stock may now read their firm's annual report which has been printed in Braille. Or they may hear the report and the financial condition of the giant corporation on record.

* * * * * *

German measles (rubella) is a threat to susceptible pregnant women at any time, but the threat increases significantly during epidemic years. One of the most tragic and disastrous epidemics to hit the United States in modern times was the German measles epidemic of 1964-1965. This resulted in about 50,000 abnormal pregnancies. About 20,000 infants were born with such crippling defects as mental retardation, heart disease, blindness and deafness. The remaining 30,000 pregnancies terminated in miscarriage or stillbirth. The disease reaches epidemic proportions about every six or seven years. Fortunately, a vaccine against rubella has been developed and is being licensed. Already more than 30,000 susceptible children have received the new vaccine in field investigations in the United States with almost no untoward reactions.

* * * * * *

Representative Paul Findley, a Republican from Illinois, recently told the House of Representatives that the poor in 425 U. S. counties are "deliberately excluded" from federal food programs while farm production is aided by federal subsidies. "What makes this practice truly astonishing," said Findley, "is that it is so extensive in the very counties which bar poor people from access to free or low cost food. Plainly, the political leadership of these counties find federal handouts to wealthy farmers something they can live with, but federal handouts to hard-core poor something else."

* * * * * *

Dr. Jerome R. Dunham was recently appointed Chief of Services for the Blind in the State of Washington. Dunham, who lost his sight while still in high school, will be headquartered in Seattle. He has been Administrator of the Rehabilitation Center in Seattle since 1961. Previously Dr. Dunham worked in Florida, Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas. He has taught evening classes in psychology at the University of Washington.

* * * * * *

In the April, 1969 issue of the Monitor there was printed a list of some of the occupations in the Federal Service filled by blind persons. We now learn from CHOOSE, Inc., of New York City that Raymond Peter Reynolds is an import specialist (customs examiner). Mr. Reynolds was awarded the Outstanding Citizenship Award of 1969 for his work with CHOOSE in promoting the numerous job potentials available for blind job applicants. Mr Reynolds has recently joined the Tri-boro Chapter of the Empire State Association of the Blind. He writes: "I offer encouragement to anyone who wishes to enter a new field as a pioneer, since it took me six years to obtain my job with the federal government, and I did it!"

* * * * * *

Jim has done it again! Recently James B.. Garfield of Los Angeles, California—well-known blind author, lecturer and radio personality was the recipient of a much-coveted honor from Mayor Sam Yorty of Los Angeles. He was one of six senior citizens to receive an Oscar. Jim's honor was given in recognition of his work for the blind in the community. The Oscar is suitably inscribed: "Congratulations, Jim. You have done it again!"

* * * * * *

Representative Wilbur Mills of Arkansas, the powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, finally sees the need for increasing social security benefits for those retired workers caught in the inflationary spiral. He is supporting, after long opposition, action by Congress to raise benefits by at least 10 percent and to extend Medicare's benefits of hospitalization to disabled persons under 65 years of age. Unfortunately, these actions are not slated to take effect before next year. The NFB-sponsored bill, S. 1477 by Senator Hartke, provides for the inclusion of disabled workers under Medicare. It is hoped that another NFB-sponsored bill, S. 1476 also by Senator Hartke, will be passed so that all increases in social security payments will be exempt as income in determining public assistance grants.

* * * * * *

The Annual Convention of the West Virginia Federation of the Blind will be held in Morgantown August 15th through 17th. The highlight of this year's convention will be the banquet speaker, Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, NFB President who will also participate in other parts of the program. The President of the West Virginia Federation extends a cordial invitation to attend to all NFB members and friends.

* * * * * *

Mrs. Uldine Thelander of Boise, Idaho—a member of the NFB Executive Committee—was recently reappointed a member of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, this time for a full three-year term. The Monitor congratulates both Uldine and the Idaho Commission.

* * * * * *

The Greater Lawrence (Massachusetts) Association of the Blind held an antique car rally recently as a feature of its White Cane fundraising drive. Freeman Downing, nationally known for his work with racing cars, served as general chairman.

* * * * * *

The Gate City Chapter (Nashua, New Hampshire) recently held a memorial service for four deceased members, one of which was the late President of the Chapter, Mrs. Lina King who was the first President of the Chapter and was re-elected last year. Francis LaMontagne, also of Nashua, was elected to succeed Mrs. King as second vice-president of the New Hampshire State Federation of the Blind.

* * * * * *

On Friday, May 9, 1969, the Associated Blind of Greater Cumberland received its Charter of Affiliation from the Free State Federation of the Blind. You may recall that this is the chapter we organized in Western Maryland in October of last year.

Little did we know when we organized this group that they would grow in membership and strength so quickly. This group started with 15 members and they now have 27, most of whom are hard workers and will make strong Federationists. They are fast becoming aware of their rights as blind citizens, and as a group they are making their presence known in the city. In other words they are becoming aware of things they should request from the City officials to help themselves. The Mayor has invited the secretary of the organization to attend a luncheon at which time, some of the civic problems of the area will be discussed.

Cumberland has a population of a little over 30,000 people, and the Associated Blind of Cumberland easily had $7,000 to $10,000 worth of publicity at their chapter banquet. The banquet received newspaper and radio coverage and the Mayor and members of the City Council were in attendance. They also had representatives from the House of Delegates. The meal was deliciously prepared by the women of the Moose with second helpings available, and they gave away 45 door prizes.

Walter Lackey, a blind professor of Political Science from Frostburg College was the speaker of the evening. The charter was presented by John McCraw, President of the Free State Federation. He spoke to those present about the formation of the Free State and the purpose and goals of the National Federation of the Blind. They had about 80 persons in attendance.

* * * * * *

The Ohio Council of the Blind Bulletin reports on an interesting experiment it is conducting this spring—holding four regional meetings. The first OCB regional meeting was held in Cleveland, with Bob Whitehead of Kentucky and James Omvig of New York as special guests from the NFB. The second regional meeting was held in Dayton, the third in Dover, and the fourth in Fostoria.

* * * * * *

Mr. Walter L. Smith has been retained as Librarian by the Florida Council for the Blind to direct its regional library for the blind and physically handicapped. Last December he became the first totally blind person ever to complete successfully and unconditionally an accredited graduate Library Science training program, fulfilling all requirements for the Master of Library Science degree at the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences of the University of Pittsburgh.

Back to Contents


The afternoon of March 23, 1969 was warm and clear. The heavy rains of winter brought a lush green look to the foothills where Rolling Hills Memorial Park is located. A group of fifty or so friends, colleagues, and family of the late Professor Jacobus tenBroek had gathered from up and down the state for a simple service of remembrance and the unveiling of the grave marker. The bronze plaque says simply "Jacobus tenBroek 1911-1968." A bas-relief replica of a torch decorates each side. There is a space between the year of birth and that of death which is occupied by a small bronze plate which carries the same legend in braille. The metal for the braille was supplied from the fonts used in the Twin Vision Division of the American Brotherhood for the Blind. Rabbi Bernard J. Robinson, a former student of Dr. tenBroek's officiated, and Kenneth Jernigan, President of the National Federation of the Blind spoke some most thoughtful and appropriate words.

Most of the group returned to the tenBroek home. Gathered in that famous large living room they spoke of their current interests. The University group discussed the many problems facing them—and missed his fine analytical mind which often was able to state the problems clearly and point the way to solution. The Federationists spoke of their activities—and missed his leadership. The family with its varied concerns and perplexities—missed his compassionate guiding hand.

It was, however, not a sad occasion because he was not a sad person. The zest he had for living and his belief in his fellowman pervaded the proceedings. It brought not only comfort but a renewed determination to carry on the work laid out for those with the will to see it through.

Letters continue to come to Mrs. tenBroek. Articles of commemoration and praise continue to be published. A few are reproduced here so that they may be shared with all of you.

Back to Contents

JACOBUS tenBROEK, 1911-1968

[Reprinted from University of California In Memoriam, May 1969]

. . .¬†Jacobus—Chick—graduated from the University of California with highest honors in History in 1934. He earned a Master's degree in Political Science and two graduate degrees from Boalt Hall of Law—and LL.B. in 1938 and a J.S.D. in 1940. He was on the staff of the California Law Review and was a member of the Order of the Coif. The following year he received the Brandeis Research Fellowship at Harvard Law School and he earned an S.J.D. He was appointed a member of the Faculty of Law at the Chicago Law School where he remained until he returned to Berkeley. During his academic career Professor tenBroek published more than fifty articles and monographs, and he served on the California Social Welfare Board for thirteen years, appointed by Earl Warren, then Governor.

Jacobus tenBroek was a man of towering intellectual eminence. No greater testimony can be made to a man's originality than the fact that his work consistently predates the attention that other scholars devote to important subjects. It is not too much to say that his works on family law, public assistance, and the law of the poor laid the intellectual foundations for the recent mass intrusion of the courts into the field of welfare. His work represents not only the most important scholarly contributions to these subjects, but also had enormous significance in raising the status of the deprived.

The book, The Antislavery Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment, recently republished under the title, Equal Under Law, shows that tenBroek sought out and rediscovered unknown or forgotten origins of the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Published in 1951, this book foreshadowed the tremendous development in the use and interpretation of the 13th and 14th Amendments by the Supreme Court which has actually occurred since that time. The book was heavily relied upon by Thurgood Marshall in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, and has been regularly cited by the Justice Department for important propositions about the Amendments in question. Another book, Prejudice, War and the Constitution, received a Woodrow Wilson Award as a definitive study of the Japanese-American detention in World War II and its significance for democratic practice. The five articles that tenBroek wrote in the late 1930's on Extrinsic Aids in Constitutional Construction are just now coming into their own as pathbreaking work on the interpretation of basic documents of government. There must be few political scientists who can lay claim to a combination of such intellectual distinction and social impact for their work.

In a life of indefatigable effort, Professor tenBroek's organizational achievements loom large. In 1934, with a handful of other blind persons, he organized the California Council of the Blind. In 1940 tenBroek began organizing the National Federation of the Blind. In the intervening twenty-seven years he built that organization from a small group of seven state affiliates to a powerful nationwide organization of thirty-seven states, with individual members in all states of the Union. For most of that time tenBroek was successively elected as president for two-year periods. In 1964 tenBroek began a similar effort with respect to an International Federation of the Blind.

A good example of Jacobus tenBroek's combination of scholarship and action can be seen in his monograph entitled The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled in the Law of Torts. Here tenBroek analyzes the origins and present status of the relevant doctrines in the law of torts and proposes a theory of their readaptation to meet modern demands for the integration of the disabled into the mainstream of society and productive endeavor. Indeed, this theme and objective run throughout tenBroek's scholarly works and activities—to find ways to take care of those in need but, at the same time, find ways to stimulate them to achieve a contributing role in society.

In his twenty-five years of service to the University of California at Berkeley, Jacobus tenBroek made outstanding contributions to the leadership of the Speech and Political Science Departments and to the Academic Senate. He was an eloquent and persuasive man, whether writing resolutions for the Academic Senate or organizing a marvelously heterogeneous coalititon to defeat bad constitutional amendments in the state welfare field. Few have rarely known a man who was more consistenly productive of good advice.

Those who were privileged to share his friendship—his incredible clarity of mind, his courage, gaiety and deep human concern—are left with a personal grief whose desolation is softened only by the memories of his overpowering life force. The Political Science profession can have no better exemplar. He was the best among us. . . .

Professor Charles Aikin
Professor Victor Jones
Professor J. Tussman
Professor Aaron Wildavsky,
  Chairman, Department of Political Science

Back to Contents


[Reprinted from The California Law Review, May 1968]

There are, in the course of academic life, so very few whom one may regard as master—in a traditionally scholastic sense. Especially is this true in an institution such as the University of Berkeley, where distance between professor and student is almost inevitable, and a close relationship of teacher and student is the product of art. Jacobus tenBroek was master—teacher if one would rather—to successive generations of students in just this way. His life touched so many of us who later went on to law school that there are "tenBroek alumni" in enough law schools and to such a number that he might well have claimed ex officio faculty rank in any of a dozen institutions.

When I came to the University ten years ago, he taught a class in "prelegal" Speech. Then, as (I believe) now, the Speech Department was really a liberal arts college in microcosm, and (largely by Professor tenBroek's influence) most courses were taught by the Socratic method of inquiry. The "prelegal" class differed from other freshman courses partly in the nature of the material considered—questions of man and authority, of equal protection, of freedom of expression. More than that, however, it differed because of Professor tenBroek. Promptly at ten minutes after eight o'clock three mornings each week, he strode in, placed his cane in the chalk tray, took roll from Braille cards, and began with a challenge to one or more of us. Can you reconcile the seeming antinomy of Plato's Apology and Crito? What did de Tocqueville mean in saying that a society which seeks equality will find liberty to be endangered? Out of the Supreme Court's words justifying the World War II restrictions on the Japanese, what were the central assumptions which had to be made to reconcile such an interference with the constitutional guarantees of freedom of movement, freedom from arbitrary arrest, and equal protection of the laws? As students, we wrestled with these questions, and also with those posed by Milton's Aeropagitica and Mill's On Liberty, by the Smith Act cases, and by Alexander Meiklejohn's theory of free speech. The rewards for our persistence were more questions, and increasing pressure for deeper levels of insight. Are you sure of that reading? Haven't you overlooked the language two pages farther on? And we students were persistent, although perhaps (in reflection) not nearly so wise as we thought. Woven through the memory of our labor, however, is the voice and tone of Jacobus tenBroek, questioning, arguing, challenging, nettling.

In the years that followed, I came to know him better. He had founded and militantly led an organization of the blind in their struggle for equal acces to places of public accommodation and for elemental dignity in the relation of the disabled to those institutions of the state designed to aid them. He was for years chairman of the State Board of Social Welfare, challenging arbitrary administration of public assistance. He had written, with Joseph Tussman, the leading analytical article on the meaning of equal protection of the laws. He had written on the origins of the Civil War Amendments—of their great and, to this day, unredeemed promise of freedom to black America. He published pioneer work on the system of welfare law, forcing it to confront its discreditable origin as Elizabethan contempt for the destitute and vagabond, and inveighing against its implacable tendency to ravage the privacy and dignity of those subject to it. And all the while, in the life of the University, he fought for viable principles of freedom and fairness to govern its dealings with faculty and students.

His writing and his struggle were as much a part of his teaching as what he did in the classroom, especially for those of us who knew him as master, compatriot, and friend. The whole of his personality, and the force of his conviction, is the measure of our loss, just as our commitment to the struggle for dignity and freedom, and to the use of our insight in that struggle, measures whether we are worthy of his memory.

Michael E. Tigar

Back to Contents


[Editor's Note: This letter from Dr. Hugo Ernesto Garcia Garcilazo of Argentina whom many of you have met at NFB conventions expresses the sentiments of many received from around the world.]

Last Friday 12th July we received a letter from Russ in which he informs us of the sad news of Dr. tenBroek's death. Evidently, Russ assumed that I already knew about it, but I did not, because nothing is mentioned in the April edition of the Braille Monitor, which is the latest one I've got. The news shocked Maria Clara and me so deeply that the words were replaced by tears, especially as we immediately remembered it was at this time of the year, but last year, that we were in Berkeley.

Just a week ago we were discussing the possibilities of having him here in Argentina. We can well imagine your pain for we learned how to love him through correspondence and during those unforgettable three weeks we spent in Los Angeles and San Francisco last year.

He was not only the Father of his family but the Father Honoris Causa of all the blind of the world who, because of his ideals put into practice, are enjoying a new philosophy and getting more and more benefits on the basis of their own faith in themselves, independence, organization and work. Now this unexpected lack of the Father seems to make us feel lost. But that would only be possible if he had been an overprotective, custodian Father. On the contrary, his everyday battles were in favour of independence and self-confidence. So I am sure that all of us will react from this misfortune to take an active place in defending the flag that he raised and holds for ever.

The Argentianian blind and their friends send to you and children our word of consolation. Maria Clara sends her regards.

Back to Contents


[Reprinted from Listen, April 1968]

[Editor's Note: This article came to us too late to be included in the 1968 Memorial Issue. While it reviews facts familiar to most, those who have just come into the movement may find it informative.]

Dr. Jacobus tenBroek of Berkeley, California, founder of the National Federation of the Blind and its president for all but five of its twenty-eight years of existence, died of cancer in a San Francisco hospital on March 27. The brilliant and colorful leader of the organized blind movement was fifty-six years old.

While widely known for his leadership of the Federation and his continuous efforts to bring independence and equality of opportunity to all blind people, Dr. tenBroek was equally renowned as a Constitutional scholar, an author, professor and an authority on social welfare. At the University of California, where he had been a member of the faculty since 1942, he was considered "one of the brightest stars in the academic firmament", and was recognized as a strong and vocal defender of academic freedom.

Born in Alberta, Canada, the son of a prairie homesteader, Jacobus tenBroek was partially blinded in a bow and arrow accident when he was seven. By the time he was fourteen, his remaining sight had gone and he was totally blind. While still a young child, he came to the United States to attend the California School for the Blind. He became a naturalized citizen in 1927.

He studied political science, speech and law at the University of California in Berkeley, winning three degrees with highest honors—a bachelor's, master's, and a doctorate in the science of jurisprudence. He later received another doctorate in jurisprudence from Harvard University Law School where he was a Brandeis Fellow for a year. For a short period he was a member of the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School.

During most of his teaching career at the University of California, Dr.tenBroek was a member of the speech department and was its chairman from 1956 to 1961. In 1963, he transferred to the political science department and held the post of political science professor at the time of his death.

In 1950, Dr. tenBroek was named to the California State Board of Social Welfare by Governor Earl Warren. He was reappointed three times and served as chairman of the board from 1960-1963. His ideas and contributions to welfare programs earned widespread acclaim from prominent persons in the state and the nation.

The tenBroek dream of a nationwide organization of blind persons who would join together "to help each other" in the struggle for self-expression and independence became a reality in 1940 with the establishment of the National Federation of the Blind. From small beginnings the organization has grown steadily over the years to include official affiliates in thirty-seven states. Chiefly under the leadership of its founder, the NFB became an effective voice in legislation for blind persons and in many parts of the country its activities have stimulated marked improvements in services to the blind.

Elected president when the Federation was formed, Dr. tenBroek was re-elected to the post annually for twenty-one years. In 1961, however, he resigned in order, he said, to reestablish harmony in the growing organization which had been experiencing internal strife and discord for a time. Because of the difficulties and attacks upon the administration, he announced, a great deal of damage had been done to him "personally and in non-Federation functions and capacities as well as in Federation work".

Five years after his dramatic resignation, the well-loved leader was re-elected to the top NFB position by unanimous vote of delegates to the 1966 national convention.

A talented and prolific writer, Dr. tenBroek was the author of several books and of numerous articles in his professional field as well as in work for the blind. The widely-recognized "Hope Deferred", considered by many a classic presentation, has the subtitle "Public Welfare and the Blind". In 1955, his "Prejudice, War and the Constitution", a study of the evacuation of the Japanese from the Pacific coast in World War II, earned the Woodrow Wilson Award of the American Political Science Association as the best book on government and democracy. "Antislavery Origins of the 14th Amendment", published in 1951, is said to have been a source for the school desegregation decision of the Supreme Court in 1954.

Among the many tributes to Dr tenBroek published at the time of his death, the following was by Dr. Clark Kerr, former president of the University of California:

"Professor tenBroek was an inspiring teacher who served as a model for many students through his obvious triumph over a handicap which he never permitted to interfere with a full and active public scholarly career. I think it was not his blindness, but rather his profound respect for his students and for the art of teaching that impelled him to listen—really listen—to what his students had to say and to communicate so attentively to each of them as individuals. They and I will miss him deeply."

Many of Dr. tenBroek's colleagues mentioned his stance during the free speech controversy on the Berkeley campus in 1964 during which he sided with the rebellious students and spearheaded a drive among faculty members to unite in seeking dismissal of criminal charges against those arrested in the sit-ins.

Charles W. Little, a former president of the Association Blind of Massachusetts and secretary of the National Federation of the Blind from 1954-1958, was a long-time friend of the late Federation president. In an interview with LISTEN, he said:

"Dr. Jacobus tenBroek was one of those rare personalities whose achievements and services to the blind made it possible for them to fulfill their ambitions and live productive, richer lives. His own life was one magnificant contribution. By his death a void has been created which seems at this time impossible to fill. His loss is inestimable. He will be greatly missed not only by blind persons but by all with whom he came in contact."

In another LISTEN interview, Commissioner John F. Mungovan of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind said:

"I considered Dr. tenBroek to be a good personal friend and one of the most eminent authorities on welfare law in this country. I have been very much influenced by his studies and his writings on welfare administration in formulating policies for the administration of Aid to the Blind in Massachusetts. He was one of the few people in the United States who realized that ancient poor law concepts keep blind people in a state of second-class citizenship."

In addition to the National Federation, Dr. tenBroek was active in other groups concerned with the blind. He was the Federation's delegate to the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, was president of the American Brotherhood of the Blind and was co-founder and first president of the International Federation of the Blind organized in 1964.

He was also a member of the American Political Science Association and the American Speech Association and served on numerous advisory committees and state and federal study commissions concerned with social welfare.

Back to Contents