THE BRAILLE MONITOR

VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the blind—it is the blind speaking for themselves.

Printed at 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708

SEPTEMBER 1969

THE BRAILLE MONITOR

Published Monthly in braille and distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind. President: Kenneth Jernigan, 524 Fourth Street, Des Moines, Iowa, 50309.

Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind.

EDITOR: Perry Sundquist, 4651 Mead Avenue, Sacramento, California, 95822. Associate Editor: Hazel tenBroek, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California, 94708.

News items should be sent to the Editor.

Address changes should be sent to 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California, 94708.

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.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

FALL CONVENTIONS

A HARD DAY'S WORK
by Ed Sheppard

NFB STUDENT SEMINAR: ROUNDUP
by James Gashel

TEACHER DISCRIMINATION DOWNED IN LOS ANGELES

A LAW THAT HURTS A BLIND MAN

A LETTER TO THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

A UNIQUE RECREATIONIST
by Doris Samuels

IRS FINDS JOBS FOR THE BLIND
by Bill Rutherford

BLIND MAN LEADING THE BLIND TO STOP JOB LOSS TO MACHINES
by Gael Hummel

MEET CHARLES FERER

IOWA—WHERE THE BLAND DO NOT LEAD THE BLIND
by Manuel Urena

NELLIE CARDWELL HARGROVE—NEW NFB BOARD MEMBER

MINNESOTA CONVENTION
Rosemary Varey

BILLIE'S DARK WORLD NO LONGER HANDICAP
by Judy Palcic

EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN
by Mrs. R. C. Khan

CRACKDOWN ON MEDICAID

MEET OUR STATE PRESIDENT—RAMI RABBY AND OUR STATE AFFILIATE—ILLINOIS

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST BLIND UNJUST
by Jeannie Campos

VICTORY FOR INDIAN FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

NO LITTLE BLIND SCHOOL FOR SACRAMENTO
by Henry Negrete

ALFONSO SMITH—NEW NFB BOARD MEMBER

THE DEGREE DOGMA
by Lawrence Marcelino

BLIND MAN BUILDS RACING CARS
by Ed Broomhead

LIFE IS A FEAST FOR THE BARON
by Joan McKinney

AFFILIATE NUMBER 10
by Laura Workman

MONITOR MINIATURES

FALL CONVENTIONS

Michigan Council of the Blind
Lansing, Michigan
September 2

Empire State Association of the Blind
Rochester, New York
September 2

Connecticut Federation of the Blind
New Haven, Connecticut
September 6

Alabama Association of the Blind
Birmingham, Alabama
September 20

New Hampshire Federation of the Blind
Berlin, New Hampshire
September 27

Associated Blind of Massachusetts
Dedham, Massachusetts
October 3-4-5

Indiana Council of the Blind
Gary, Indiana
October 3-4-5

Free State Federation of the Blind
Baltimore, Maryland
October 10-11-12

Ohio Council of the Blind
Cincinnati, Ohio
October 10-11-12

Maine Council of the Blind
Portland, Maine
October 25

New Jersey Council of the Blind
Asbury Park, New Jersey
October 25-26

California Council of the Blind
Hollywood, California
October 31-November 1-2

Colorado Federation of the Blind
Colorado Springs, Colorado
November 9

Sunflower Federation of the Blind
Topeka, Kansas
November 15

Back to Contents

A HARD DAY'S WORK

by Ed Sheppard

NFB President Kenneth Jernigan gained a first-class sunburn and a flat tire while losing several gallons of perspiration when he went on a physical fitness bicycle jaunt in mid-July.

A man of his word, Jernigan honored a prior invitation extended by the Des Moines Y.M.C.A. Cycle Club, despite temperatures in the mid-90's.

The midsummer madness stemmed from an inquiry late last winter, while Iowa was still in the deep freeze. Members of the Cycle Club had asked Jernigan if students at the Commission for the Blind might be interested in joining them on tandem bike rides.

Not realizing the folly this would ultimately lead to, the Commission director obtained a tandem bicycle after several students indicated their interest. After the snow cleared away, he tried out the bicycle-built-for-two by riding with members of the Cycle Club for seven or eight miles around a local park.

The trial run was "great fun" and a large number of students showed up the following week to take turns riding. With interest firmly established two more bikes were obtained.

Then came the word from the Cycle Club: "Olympic Champ Bob Richards will be stopping over in Des Moines on his transcontinental bicycling-jogging tour some of us are going to meet him out at the interstate highway and cycle with him into the city why don't you join us?"

The NFB President replied that he didn't know if there would be enough time to build up sufficient stamina for such a long ride. But the cyclists insisted: "You did so well on that eight-mile ride, this will be duck soup!'

And that's what July 14th was like as hot and wet as duck soup! The day was cloudless and breezeless. As Jernigan put it: "It was 95 degrees out there and it must've been 100% humidity, but I said 'sure, let's go!' "

This, despite the fact he had been suffering from a prolonged case of flu since the NFB convention in Columbia.

To compound matters, the club members changed their plan and decided to cycle from the assembly point to the interstate, rather than ride in cars. It was—as the NFB President described it—"a circuitous route of eight or nine miles and we were running a solid stream of sweat."

The profuse perspiration was not an indication of lack of stamina. As many long-time Federationists are aware, the President was a wrestler in between his college academic years.

Thus, it was no more than fitting that he greet Bob Richards, a two-time Olympic Pole Vaulting Champion traveling cross-country on a promotion for Wheaties and the Bob Richards Fitness Crusade. Huffing and puffing, Jernigan and the other cyclists arrived at the interstate highway and waited in the meager shade of a nearby vacant service station, accompanied by an escort of Highway Patrolmen.

Richards had started out early that morning from Bethany, Missouri, about 100 miles away, accompanied by a caravan of air-conditioned cars.

This led Jemigan to quip: "For all I know, he may have snitched a ride in one of them to save energy so he could show up the locals!"

After a round of greetings and considerable coverage by news reporters, Richards and the other cyclists headed toward the city. The first part of the route is mostly uphill. In Jernigan's words: "We were averaging something like 20 miles an hour. I tell you, I was really pumping and pushing to make it."

"And then it happened ... the confounded tire went flat! But what added insult to injury was the fact that it happened just when we were getting to the downhill part!"

So the NFB President and his co-driver left the other cyclists, stored the tandem in one of the caravan trucks, and gratefully got into an air-conditioned car.

And finally: "I came back home to air-conditioning, much Fresca, and thoughts of the Boston Marathon!"

Back to Contents

NFB STUDENT SEMINAR: ROUNDUP

by James Gashel

For nearly one hundred national convention goers, this year's NFB Convention in Columbia, South Carolina did not end with the pounding of the gavel at five P.M. on Friday, July 4. For these hearty delegates the Convention ended with the words, "Let's go home", spoken by James Gashel at 4:45 P.M., Saturday, July 5. This was the close of the second NFB Student Seminar.

The program began shortly after 9:30 A.M. with a panel on "Blind Student Needs and Services to Meet Them"— Kenneth Hopkins, Director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind was its chairman. Members of the panel were Paul Kay, newly elected Second Vice President, NFB Student Division; Camille Myers, President, Illinois Congress of the Blind Student Division; Dennis Byrum, newly elected Secretary, NFB Student Division; John Taylor, Assistant Director in charge of Field Operations, Iowa Commission for the Blind; and John Nagle, Chief, NFB Washington Office. This group, consisting of three students and three experts in rehabilitation services, made for a lively and interesting discussion on the kinds of services blind students can receive for university training and on the barriers posed by state agencies, lacking either the knowledge or the will to provide adequate services to meet the needs of blind students. John Nagle gave an excellent summary statement together with a strong urge for immediate and decisive action by the National Federation to rectify the serious deficiencies in services to blind students in most states.

The next two items on the program concerned the treatment of blindness in various forms of literature. NFB President, Kenneth Jemigan, gave an overview of this topic with some thoughts on the treatment of the blind in classical literature, modern literature, text book literature, and the literature of rehabilitation agencies and training programs. President Jernigan's basic conclusion was that literature tends to reflect the common stereotypes and misconceptions about the blind that are so much a part of real life.

Carrying this theme in somewhat more specific terms, was the presentation of an interim report of a survey on children's text books by the University Federation of the Blind in Idaho. The report pointed to a number of texts which do little but help to perpetuate the ancient notions about the blind and concluded that much work is needed in the area of educating publishers and instructors who use the books.

After a forty-five minute break for lunch, the afternoon session began with a panel on Iowa's programs for the education of blind children. James Gashel, chairman, introduced the topic by giving a brief summary of the progress during the past three years leading toward meaningful improvements at Iowa's residential school. He then turned the program over to Manuel Urena, Loren Schmitt, and Curtis Willoughby who discussed in tum various phases of the action by the organized blind, including conducting an initial survey, taking follow-up action toward implementation of the recommended changes and working politically to give the blind a greater voice in the operation of the school. The panel concluded that great strides had been made in the past year and that more are forthcoming to bring Iowa's program for the education of blind children into line with the excellence of its services to the adult blind.

The second item on the afternoon program dealt with "Employment for the Professionally Trained Blind". With Rami Rabbi as its able chairman, the panel discussion touched on a wide range of topics including employment under Federal Civil Service and in private industry. Joining Rami were James Omvig, Attorney for the National Labor Relations Board (now on the staff of the Iowa Commission for the Blind); Allen Schlank, computer programmer with the Federal Government; and Lloyd Rasmussen, electrical engineer, Collins Radio, Incorporated.

Immediately following this general discussion of professional employment opportunities came a panel discussion of "Prospects and Possibilities for the Blind in the Teaching Profession". Chaired by Judy Young Saunders, this panel sought to draw together the wisdom of a number of blind persons successfully engaging in the teaching profession. Judy opened the panel by telling some of her experiences in getting a position teaching fourth grade in Iowa and of the difficulties she had in obtaining a position for the coming year in her new home state. Paul Flynn, an eight year veteran in the teaching world talked about how he came by the position he currently holds and about some of the technics he uses in teaching high school English. James Gashel, recently hired for his first teaching assignment, told of his experiences as a college senior, student teaching, and finding a job. Roger Petersen, professor of psychology, provided information for the prospects for the blind in college teaching. And finally Bob Accosta told about the great strides being made to open the doors for the blind in the teaching profession in California.

Continuing the theme of the blind in teaching, Evelyn Weckerley, President of the Michigan Council of the Blind, presented the latest information on her tenure case. Evelyn also reported on another case concerning a blind teacher in Michigan, and from all appearances we are faced with a similar instance of discriminatory treatment by a Michigan school board.

The next item on the program concerned a growing problem faced by the increasing numbers of blind students attending graduate school. In recent months at least two students have had significant difficulties in procuring standard graduate exams from the Educational Testing Service of Princeton. Because of this condition, Gerald Neufeld, a graduate student in psycholinguistics at Berkeley, was appointed to look into this difficulty. He reported that this is a very thorny business, but progress should be forthcoming through contacts within the Testing Service.

The final item on the program was a brief discussion on the opportunities for the blind in summer employment. Again, Rami Rabbi served as chairman. The panel members were Charles Walhof, Counselor, Idaho Commission for the Blind; Jana Simms, graduate student, University of Missouri at Kansas City; Shirley Lansing, student, University of Iowa; and Loren Schmitt, graduate student, University of Illinois. In broad terms the panel considered some of the benefits of having summer employment and some of the methods of obtaining it. The overriding consideration was the benefit to a blind person's record of experience which summer employment inevitably provides.

And so the second NFB Student Seminar came to a close. In any article like this it is difficult to communicate the value such meetings have for all present, but all is not lost. Thanks to Don Capps, who loaned us his tape recorder, and Curt Willoughby, and Lloyd Rasmussen who connected and operated it, the verbal part of the program has been preserved for all to hear. The entire program takes nearly two full seven inch reels at 3-3/4 inches per second. Copies are available from the library of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Address your request to Mrs. Florence Grannis, Librarian, Iowa State Commission for the Blind, 524 Fourth Street, Des Momes, Iowa 50309. Three copies are being made available on a loan basis only. Copies for purchase, at the rate of $4.00 per copy, may be procured by writing to Mrs. Grannis.

Back to Contents

TEACHER DISCRIMINATION DOWNED IN LOS ANGELES

A smashing victory for the Federation over the Los Angeles City School System has been achieved, Robert Acosta has been hired as a probationary teacher in the Los Angeles City School System.

This success story is the result of a team effort by the California Council of the Blind, the American Federation of Teachers and a school principal who stood courageously behind her blind teacher. All were encouraged and assisted by a former school principal who believes in the capabilities of blind teachers—Dr. Isabelle L. D. Grant.

The story began in the summer of 1967 when Robert Acosta, a Social Studies teacher, was asked to become the first test case to crack the barrier of discrimination against blind teachers as practiced by the Los Angeles City School System. It was Robert's good fortune to link up with the American Federation of Teachers and its Executive Secretary, Mr. Roger Segure. Mr. Segure put Bob in contact with Dr. Gjertrud Smith, principal of Chatsworth High School. She was willing to take the gamble and Bob was signed on as a day-to-day long term substitute, which would not count toward teacher tenure.

Under this agreement, Bob would only receive five sixths of his deserved salary, but he was willing to take the chance.

For two years, based on his strong teaching record, Bob and the Federation kept the pressure on for his right to take the probationary examination in his major field of endeavor. Finally, on June 25, 1969, Bob was allowed to take the exam which he successfully passed. Bob is now a probationary teacher in the district, the first totally blind teacher to achieve such a feat.

Bob does not merely consider this his victory, but a victory for all of the blind and physically handicapped throughout the nation. As he puts it, his triumph against almost impossible odds is just another reason why the blind can only be strong through concerted action within the organized blind movement, namely, the National Federation of the Blind.

"Through the Federation, we dared to dream the impossible dream. We can move mountains, even the Los Angeles City School System."

Back to Contents

A LAW THAT HURTS A BLIND MAN

[Editor's Note: the following story is from the San Francisco (California) Chronicle. Copyright Chronicle Publishing Co. 1969, reprinted by permission.]

A State law designed to prevent right-wing militants from threatening the academic freedom of teachers is keeping a blind Hayward veteran from completing his education.

Robert Lundy, forty-five, a social science major at Chabot College who was partially blinded by an explosion in World War II, said he has to drop two courses because the instructors forbade him to use his tape recorder to take notes. Dr. Reed Buffington, college president, confirmed Lundy's charge, but he said there is nothing he can do. "There is a State law which gives the instructor in the classroom authority to determine whether a tape recorder may be used in class or not," Dr. Buffington said.

The president referred to a law passed by the State Legislature after a teacher in the Paradise Union High School District in Butte county was accused by right wingers of teaching sex and communism in the schools. One student used a hidden tape recorder to gather "evidence". The teacher, Virginia Franklin, last year won a libel suit against members of the American Legion and others who made the accusations.

Lundy, however, said he had no intention of using the tape recorder "to condemn the teacher" and noted that he had asked permission to use it. "It's the only way I have of taking notes," he said. Lundy, who has such little sight left in both eyes that he is considered legally blind, said teachers apparently felt nervous about their every word being recorded.

Back to Contents

A LETTER TO THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

April 15, 1969

Mr. Arnold Ordman, General Counsel
National Labor Relations Board
1717 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D. C.

Dear Mr. Ordman:

Enclosed please find a copy of a newspaper article from the Long Island Press of November 10, 1968, regarding the discharge of Mr. George P. Filbert by Abilities, Inc., and the charge which Mr. Filbert has filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

This clipping was recently brought to my attention and the case discussed therein is of vital concern both to me and to the National Federation of the Blind. The Federation is an organization whose purpose it is to improve the lot of all blind persons in America through legislation, the courts, and through public education, to the end that all blind persons are afforded an equal opportunity in competitive employment and the right to live in the world as ordinary citizens.

I am aware that in the past the National Labor Relations Board has refused to take jurisdiction over sheltered workshops. Furthermore, I understand that Abilities, Inc. is such a sheltered workshop. Our concern is that, as a simple fact of life, more often than not blind and otherwise handicapped persons have no employment opportunities open to them other than that provided by sheltered shops. This is so not because these people are incapable of performing under ordinary employment conditions. Rather it is because they are denied the opportunity to prove themselves under ordinary conditions because of wide-spread misunderstandings, and misconceptions about the "actual" limitations imposed by disabilities such as blindness.

These mistaken notions about blindness are slowly giving way to the more enlightened thinking that blind persons can and ought to be employed side by side with other members of the community. However, the fact remains that many blind persons presently have no alternative but to accept employment in a sheltered shop. For this reason our hope is that these employees will have the same federal protection as other employees if they attempt to improve their working conditions by selecting a union to do their bargaining for them.

I would greatly appreciate any information you can give me both as to the outcome of Mr. Filbert's case and as to how the National Labor Relations Board might receive future cases brought by other sheltered workshops employees.

Cordially,

Kenneth Jernigan. President
National Federation of the Blind

Back to Contents

A UNIQUE RECREATIONIST

by Doris Samuels

[Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from Parks & Recreation, official publication of the National Recreation and Park Association. John T. McCraw, the subject of the article, is President of the Free State Federation of the Blind, the NFB affiliate in Maryland.]

John T. McCraw is unique to recreation—he is blind. He is also a professional musician and a dedicated and gifted professional recreation leader.

He is the only blind recreationist working in Baltimore City. Hundreds of children know "Mr. John" as the "big man" who plays the piano, conducts physical exercise, teaches games and accompanies them on trips. Handicapped adults look forward to talk sessions, card games and song fests with John; retarded teens and adults look to him for fun and counsel and sing and dance to his music. Handicapped senior citizens relate to his dignity, gentleness and humor.

McCraw brings to his work the innate qualities of the humanist and the polished skills and disciplined knowledge of the well-educated leader. He works with pre-school-aged children, school children, teens, adults, humanity labelled "handicapped"—the crippled, the blind, those with impaired hearing, the mentally ill and the retarded. He has a keen awareness of the intrinsic value of all people and the insight and ability to recognize the special needs of each person. His genuine warmth and uncontrived humor are magnetic.

He meets challenges head-on, breaks down walls and steps over obstacles. He is blind, but he employs no guide, refuses a seeing-eye dog and seeks no preferential treatment. His work day begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 2:00 a.m. During the course of his work he travels to many areas of a sprawling city and he arrives each morning by public transportation. A typical day's work schedule begins when he arrives at a center to meet groups of two to five-year-old children and implements the program he has planned for them; salute to the flag, song, marching, running, skipping, "flying", a brief rest period and then games, singing and crafts. After lunch older children attending schools dedicated to teaching the handicapped look forward to a two-hour program of games and physical exercise modified to meet their needs, singing, crafts and trips when the weather permits. This is followed by an evening program for blind adults: choral singing, discussion groups and braille games chess, checkers, scrabble, cards).

At 9:30 each night, McCraw changes hats and enters the world of show business. He is musical director for a well known after dark club and leads the John McCraw Combo. He has been widely acclaimed as a leading exponent of jazz and a top-flight pianist.

Last summer he worked at Camp Variety, the Baltimore City Bureau of Recreation's day camp for handicapped children. His title was "Music Specialist"; his job description was "to plan and implement musical programs designed to meet the needs of all campers." The camp was located on 42 acres of fields, streams, hills and woodland. McCraw met and established a solid relationship with most of the 104 staff and 1,200 children. He acted as trouble-shooter ex officio, advisor, counselor to counselors and indispensable aid to the camp director. He plans to work at camp again this year, this time as the program director. In this capacity he will plan and direct programs for 1,500 children.

He is most interested in the progress of recreation, the teaching and training of recreationists and the public image of the profession. He acted as co-chairman of a series of seminars incorporated in the Governor's Conference on Recreation held in May. These seminars dealt, in depth, with recreation for the handicapped, and McCraw served in a dual capacity as panelist as well as moderator.

His outstanding leadership ability is attested to by the confidence placed in him by his peers. He is the current president of the Free State Federation of the Blind and past president of the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the Blind. These organizations are local affiliates of the National Federation of the Blind. This summer he will travel to South Carolina to head the State of Maryland convention delegation.

McCraw is versatile and he recognizes the fact that recreation has many facets it is play, it is learning, it is relaxing and it can be taxing. It offers achievement, friendship and new horizons. Professional recreationists should be versatile, sensitive, warm; they should be people who love people. John McCraw has all these qualities, plus empathy, the intelligence and skill to plan good programs, and the stamina to follow his plans through. He can't select the color of his shirt, nor does he know if a rose is red or perhaps pink; but he can tell stories and sing songs and play music that delights the hearts of children, their parents and older people. He can invent games, teach them, play them; he can counsel teens and lead a teen club he is a good recreationist.

He has unlocked a closed door; he is the first blind person to be employed by the Baltimore City Bureau of Recreation. You might call him a pioneer in a field that has long needed an updated approach. Recreation is indeed a profession, and professional recreationists recognize that this is the age of specialization. Each year our colleges and universities graduate many hundreds of young people. Some will be good doctors or teachers or recreationists. Some can draw, some cannot; some can sing, some cannot;some are athletes, some are not; some can run, some cannot even walk; some can see, and some cannot. Each has something to offer, a talent sharpened, a skill well polished the knowledge needed to enhance the daily living of someone or a group of people. Recreation needs these talents, skills and knowledge; needs the trained leader, director, specialist, even if he is tagged with the misnomer "handicapped".

John McCraw bears the label "handicapped". The people with whom he works refute this label; they know that he cannot see but that he is not handicapped. His supervisor knows it and looks to him for the fine program he never fails to produce. His co-workers know it and share with him close, good comradeship. Adult program participants know it, seek his counsel and smile with him over a bit of subtle humor. And the many children who wait for him each day know it.

He received his formal training in Baltimore, at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, as a Dale Carnegie Scholarship student. He attended Morgan State College as the recipient of four full scholarships. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree as an education major, with emphasis on English and music.

Each of us is endowed with talent, with strength; all of us are in some way handicapped. John T. McCraw is indeed unique—he has proven, successfully, that a handicap can be overcome.

Back to Contents

IRS FINDS JOBS FOR THE BLIND

by Bill Rutherford

[Editor's Note: The following story appeared in the Washington (D. C.) Post.]

At Internal Revenue Service offices in a dozen American cities, thirteen specially trained Federal employees are helping thousands of taxpayers overcome the complexities and the fine print involved in filing their income tax.

In most cases, these special Taxpayer Service Representatives never have seen the familiar and sometimes befuddling Form 1040. Nine of the TSR's, as the Revenue Service calls them, have no vision, and the four others, although they may be able to distinguish some characteristics of the forms, also are legally blind.

In a pilot project begun by the Federal Government in cooperation with the nonprofit Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind, blind Taxpayer Service Representatives are being trained for IRS offices all over the United States. Federal officials hope to eventually have one or more blind TSR's in each state.

The IRS Publication 17, the Federal bible that sets down the do's and don'ts of reporting, deducting and filing the Federal income tax in print, consumes about 150 pages; in Braille, it requires 13 volumes.

Duplicated as nearly as possible was the Centiphone system used by the IRS to take calls on direct lines from major cities in a state.

After five months. Jack O. McSpadden, twenty-seven, passed every test the IRS could give him and went to work in the district office at Little Rock. Like all blind TSR's, McSpadden uses a circular light-sensitive device about the size of a dime to scour the telephone console mounted in his desk. It is connected by two wires to a metal "Band-Aid" container that holds simple instrumentation to transform the light energy of the flashing telephone button to sound. An incoming call results in a steady squeal that is perceptible only to the person using the device. A call that is on "hold" produces a rhythmic beep, beep.

The device was made by a local ham radio operator and cost about $8.

McSpadden's job is typical of the blind TSR at work in an IRS office today. He receives 100 to 150 calls a day from taxpayers, answers questions from businessman and farmer alike, and types memos and orders to sighted employees to mail out forms or booklets to people who call in and ask for them. He has memorized certain difficult Federal forms and types them out by remembering where each line and block is located.

Working now as a GSR, McSpadden spends much of his spare time encouraging others who are going through the program.

Back to Contents

BLIND MAN LEADING THE BLIND TO STOP JOB LOSS TO MACHINES

by Gael Hummel

[Editor's Note: The following story appeared in the Staten Island (New York) Advance.]

At the U. S. Public Health Service Hospital in Clifton the age-old battle of men against machines is being waged. Only this time the men are blind or visually handicapped.

There are seven blind or partially blind men and seven sighted women and girls involved in the fight, including Norman Decker, their manager. They work in the hospitals canteen which has been a source of employment to the blind for more than twenty years.

The men staff the dry goods section of the canteen, selling magazines and newspapers, cigars, shaving goods, candy and the like, and the girls, frequently aided by the partially-sighted canteen employees, service the cafeteria section.

"No matter how the state Commission for the Bhnd glosses over the fact, even a blind man can see that this move to replace the cafeteria with food and beverage vending machines is going to put these people out of work," Decker said yesterday.

Decker, a Port Richmond resident, lost his sight in a ship explosion during World War II while working for the Bethlehem Steel Corp. He became manager of the canteen in February, shortly after losing his business concession following a fire in the Morgan Post Office Manhattan last December 15. His assistant, partially-sighted Gilbert J. McMahon of Brooklyn, said that Decker has "increased the profits, the efficiency, the caliber of service and, most important, the morale of the patients, hospital personnel, doctors, nurses and visitors who patronize the canteen.

"When a petition was circulated protesting the installation of vending machines, more than 400 signatures were collected from our patrons at the hospital," McMahon said. "Their chief objection was that 'machines can't talk,' " he added. Decker said that machines "can't make fresh, good-tasting food, or carry coffee over to ailing patients or smile and cheer them up, either."

The hospital' administrator, Thomas E. O'Rourke, said yesterday that the canteen's conversion should be completed in June.

"It will be operated by the state Commission for the Blind, and any profits realized will go to the commission and the persons they employ. According to the commission, only the food service operation will be affected; the dry goods counter will be enlarged and, I understand the manager (Decker) will remain. The commission seems to feel that there will be enough customers among the patients, personnel and visitors, presently averaging 2,000 a day to make the enlargement profitable for the blind employees."

O'Rourke also said that he did not think the blind employees would lose their jobs. He said that sighted employees had been assured by the hospital that hospital jobs were available to them "if they chose to work on the shifts available."

The reason for the conversion, he said, was to speed service and increase the volume of business. Remodeling work, O'Rourke said, would make room for thirty more seats, increasing the capacity to one hundred. The machine-offered products would be available around the clock. Decker said, "We could more than double our volume with renovations and efficient planning with the present food service system. The food would be better-tasting and less expensive. People who visit our canteen know they can get good food. Now, they'll buy their lunches and the treats for patients they're visiting from the outside. This machine idea is going to cost more in maintenance, guarding and vending contracts than the improvement of the present food serving system ever would. It will put people out of work who have no desire to go on the welfare roles; people with families to support; intelligent, capable people who have far too few employment opportunities. I'm not worried for myself, I'm worried for them. I know what I pay them and it's not too much more than public assistance doles."

O'Rourke said, "To my knowledge, no contract has been awarded or signed for the vending operation. The renovation and remodeling work would be done by our own maintenance force. "It should cost about $1,000 or $2,000 and won't come out of any special federal fund, but out of the hospital's operational budget. Any profits will go to the Commission for the Blind." O'Rourke placed the responsibility of employment for blind workers squarely on the Commission for the Blind. A spokesman for the state commission for the blind said the person who offers a job to the blind has the choice of what the work will be and can terminate the job at will.

According to Alexander Samuels, chief of the technical rehabilitation service of the commission, the possibility exists at the hospital for retaining the blind workers by enlargement of the dry goods section.

Back to Contents

MEET CHARLES FERER

[Editor's Note: The following story appeared in The White Cane, official magazine of the Washington State Association of the Blind.]

When asked, "How did you succeed in teaching", Charles Ferer, Junior High School teacher for the past fifteen years replied: "Take the knowledge and skills that you have and keep improving them to the best of your ability. After all, everyone is handicapped in one form or another in meeting all situations. And, cooperation has been and always will be the only way that handicaps can be overcome."

Mr. Charles Ferer was a design engineer for Boeing Aircraft at the time of a severe automobile accident which left him blind. This could have been a personal calamity or a struggle for success in becoming an active, participating member of society. He chose not to give up and just accept anything that was offered. Newly married, and with his wife's encouragement and his own wits, Charles Ferer determined to return to college and retrain himself for a position in which he could contribute and through which he might make his own way.

It took considerable persuasion to convince the administration of the University of Idaho, but he did, and succeeded in graduating with a degree in Political Science and an Education minor. He received high commendations in his practice teaching. Since then he has taught in three separate school systems and has taught from the elementary level through high school.

As he relates his experiences it is amply discernable that many well meaning, albeit misguided people, placed many obstacles in his way. "Yes, it has been difficult if not impossible for me to even be considered for some positions, not out of ability, but because several employers felt that handicapped members of society cannot compete in the modern employment world. If I can't convince them that their prejudice is unfounded, I must find others who would listen and who would have a greater sense of individual worth than these prejudiced few. The encouragement of my family and my friends not only has allowed me to be in gainful employment, but also to add many other activities that I enjoy," he said.

Classes in U. S. History and World Geography give Mr. Ferer a real challenge as he wins the respect of his students and his fellow faculty members. He is fully capable of doing board work, walking to all parts of the building, and handling the study problems of his students. He is one of the founders of the Grays Harbor Chapter of the Washington State Association of the Blind, and represents the Chapter on the State Executive Board.

Back to Contents

IOWA—WHERE THE BLAND DO NOT LEAD THE BLIND

by Manuel Urena

[An Address delivered at the Ninth Annual Iowa Orientation Alumni Association Banquet in 1968 by Manuel Urena, who is Assistant Director, of the Iowa Commission for the blind.]

Seldom is it possible to isolate an act for a moment in time in a given sphere and predict with certainty that either will have a profound significance for all history. Therefore, when I say to you that the subject upon which I focus attention tonight falls within such a category, some may conclude that such a statement on my part may be a bit presumptuous. Nevertheless, the achievements of the last decade in services for the blind in the state of Iowa are destined to have a telling impact in work for the blind. The fact that the program has received international acclaim is secondary in importance. The truly revolutionary accomplishment is that a peoples' movement was on trial, and not only did it survive the ordeal, but it did so in a remarkable fashion.

In a real sense, every blind man and woman shared in the enterprise. Each one of us has had a rendezvous with destiny. This is so because when a Federation leader assumed the directorship of a state program for the blind, the entire organization stood to lose or gain decisively. In case any doubt remained, it was soon dissipated when other well-known Federationists followed our First Vice President, Kenneth Jemigan, to Des Moines. In short, no one could deny that the Iowa program became a manifestation of Federationism and that the prestige of the organized blind was on the line. Therefore, it would be valid to say all would have suffered had the Iowa program failed. It is equally true to declare that since the undertaking has come through in grand style, all may properly share in the glory of victory.

From its inception, the organized blind movement has said that programs for the blind were still in the dark ages. We said that with creative leadership appropriations could be obtained from generous legislatures which would make it possible to hire competent personnel. Again and again, we declared that with high-quality programs offering relevant training, the blind were fully capable of laboring in most callings. However, in order for this happy day to become a reality it was necessary for rehabilitation agencies to spend their energies in persuading the public and potential employers about the abilities of the blind rather than concentrating their efforts in counseling their blind clients how to live with their handicap or adjust to the limitations of their disability.

The shortcomings of society are not original error but uncorrected obsolescence. The obsolescense has occurred because what was convenient has become sacrosanct. Anyone who attacks such ideas must seem to be a trifle self-confident or aggressive. The man who makes his entry by leaning against an infirm door gets an unjustified reputation for violence; something is to be attributed to the poor state of the door. But these are days when even the mildly critical individual is likely to seem like a lion in contrast to the general mood. These are the days when men of all social disciplines, all political faiths, seek the comfortable and the accepted, when the man of controversy is characterized as a disturbing influence, when originality is taken to be a mark of instability, and when in a minor modification of the scriptural parable "the bland lead the bland."

In Iowa we have proven that such a condition need not be inevitable. Soon we shall duplicate that venture in all the states. We have shown that sightless men and women can construct productive programs. The task ahead is for the blind to wrest leadership or control from the bland whenever and wherever necessary.

With the advent of November, 1968, the Center arrived at its ninth birthday. In nine years of operation more than 250 students have matriculated through it. There are a number of ways to measure success. One method is to measure it in terms of plant enlargement. Another yardstick for assessing improvements is to examine budgetary appropriations. Some would approach this problem from the standpoint of staff expansion, administrative organization, or number and adequacy of services rendered. Still, the most reliable measurement would be to take a look at the lives of graduates and glean from them whether the Center experience has been meaningful, or more precisely, has it attained the high purpose for which it was established.

No matter the criteria, the results are impressive and the real returns are just beginning. Looking at plant enlargement alone, the product has exceeded our fondest expectations. In November, 1959, when the Center opened its doors, three small delapidated rooms awaited the five students that were destined to comprise the first student body. Earlier this year when we first had a full staff complement, 31 students attended classes in a modern, completely air-conditioned 7-story structure that is universally recognized as one of the best plants of its kind in the country. The fantastic improvement in plant facilities has not hidden from sight the cardinal principles we have always known-bricks and mortar may substantially assist, but the real orientation process may occur almost anywhere under the most adverse circumstances. Proof of this proposition is illustrated by several of the early graduates who are day after day adding new chapters to this unending story. There are many students who endured the rigors of infancy including: fires, remodeling construction, itinerant classes, and other obstacles. Still, the indispensable ingredient was always present—a vision that success was not only possible but probable—as long as we stood together; improvised to cope with new conditions; and organized to provide a forum to reform public and employer attitudes.

It did not take long for us to discover that a cause needs more than dedication or zeal; it must have sustenance. So we marched together to the legislature, to public officials, to civic groups, in fact to anyone who would listen to our plea and whose support we could enlist. What were the results? We found anew what the blind have always contended: the public possesses a seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of good will toward the sightless. If this force could be channeled wisely and energetically, the horizons could be extended infinitely. Checking budgetary growth reveals that nine years ago the Commission's financial base was slightly under $100,000. This year our revenue approximates the one million dollar mark. The augmentation to our capital accelerated program development.

With respect to staff expansion, administrative organization, and services rendered, here too the gains have been substantial. Staff additions have made it possible to multiply the quantity and quality of services. Increasingly, clients are receiving more and better attention to their needs. In all likelihood, the administrative structure is as responsible as any single factor for making the program unique and the showcase of the nation. The unity of purpose, the satisfaction of concrete achievement, the sense of forward movement, and the feeling of participation all combine and account for the phenomenal success registered. Recognizing that all the yardsticks mentioned are significant, yet they assume a subsidiary status when compared with the real objectives for creating the Center; for that matter, the entire Commission—to improve the lot of the visually impaired. Let us take a rather intensive look and determine precisely the impact the Orientation Center has had on the lives and fortunes of its graduates. Particularly, we wish to focus attention in the employment sector, since we have always believed that the problems of blindness are mostly economical rather than psychological and that they are soluble provided the blind receive adequate training and equal opportunity.

We have sent 70 students to universities or vocational schools. This yet-to-be-tapped resource bodes well for the future. It promises new frontiers to conquer. This crop of graduates is our tangible investment in tomorrow. In all probability, the dividends will surpass the best prognostication. However bright the future, the fact remains that we live in the present; it is to an evaluation of today regarding employment that I now wish to move this discussion.

We have often said that the critical, valid test of any agency in work for the blind ought to be and must be the number of jobs procured for the people served. In recent years, staff members and a number of students have journeyed to other states in order to better judge the caliber of our own efforts. How often have we heard exorbitant claims accompanied with astronomical figures regarding the placement of the blind in competitive vocations—only to discover exactly the reverse. In one state, just to cite a single typical example, the rehabilitation officials alleged 1500 closures for 1967-68 year alone and 1200 for the preceding 12-month period. It does not require a genius to surmise that if such were actually the case, it would not be long before every blind individual in that state would be working. Unfortunately, such is not the situation, but it does represent a deliberate manipulation of statistics cruelly calculated to mislead and misinform the public. Is it any wonder that the blind are restive or that they refer to these acts as the numbers racket? If it were not such a malevolent hoax, it might be ignored. But, regrettably, many of us know through our own bitter experience the severe hardship this practice imposes. We must, therefore, do whatever we can to irradicate this evil. Unless we are able to find the solution and stop this type of activity, the blind will never receive any semblance of opportunity or justice. We have repeatedly proclaimed that the placements in Iowa are real and that unlike many other areas, these blind people can be located. In order to remove any doubt whatsoever, I prepared a list of representative jobs currently held by our graduates. In many instances, I have secured permission and shall therefore mention names and businesses so that we all are better informed and can take pride in our collective accomplishments.

Iowa nationally has acquired the deserved reputation of being among the leaders in agriculture. So it is fitting that we commence with this category. To date six farmers have attended the Center. Four are still in full operation; one is deceased and the other has retired to a small acreage. Many Federationists are aware of the magnificent deeds of Iowa's sightless farmers, Elwin Hemkin and Virgil Ashland. These two men indisputably are proving that farming is not a closed career to the blind. The initiative, skills and imagination shown by these men contributed significantly to build a more receptive social climate. We are all in their debt.

In the field of social work, progress started slowly. Lately, prospects have improved tremendously. Our agency, properly, is at the forefront. It would be inconsistent for us to urge other concerns to hire Center graduates and for the Commission to lag behind. Accordingly, the Commission has dipped into the graduate pool and in recent years has employed four of them. Field Operations has had the lion's share with two counselors and one home teacher. The optimism which Jim Glaza, Creig Slayton and Revanne Jenks Duckett brought to their work made them valuable additions to the staff. This year the Orientation department was able to share the wealth. Ramona Willoughby Walhof gave the Center vitality and originality.

Other agencies both within and beyond the state's borders are constantly learning about this source of capable personnel and are starting to tap it with regularity. Earlier this year Barbara Templeton Vecre and Tony Balik joined the Scott and Linn County Welfare Departments respectively, the former as an intake social worker and the latter in child welfare. Both of them represent significant breakthroughs and will pave the road for future graduates. Gladys McBee is currently pioneering in foster care work. This advance is important, for it was not too long ago that visually disabled people were flatly prohibited from adoption and foster care employment. Space limits the mentioning of only three more workers in this sphere, all out of state. Ken Hopkins is presently directing services to the blind in Idaho. Bob Nesler works as a rehabilitation counselor in California, and Janet Omvig is a home teacher counselor in Idaho. The implications of these three people working outside the state are very clear. We are not stand-patters content with the status quo. Ours is a cause, a movement. We cannot rest or be indifferent to the plight of our blind brothers simply because they happen to reside across state lines. We must and we shall export ideas; but equally important, people to implement them. Surely no one seriously doubts that we are on our way.

Masseur work has proven to be an excellent avenue to employment. Today no less than nine former students support themselves and their families through this occupation. Geographically our former students in masseur work are carrying on careers from distances as far as Denver, Colorado and Indianapolis, Indiana. Two manage the total operation and the rest are salaried employees. Center graduates have found rewarding work in sales and as entrepreneurs running small businesses. These include such diverse enterprises as Leo Gallager, owner and proprietor of the laundromat in the Strawberry Point area, and Ray Sorder, owner and manager of a local electrical contracting business. These examples and others which I have not cataloged serve to remind everyone that lack of vision need not be a barrier to a business career.

Exciting developments have been occurring in professional work, especially teaching. No less than eleven graduates have entered the professional realm. I am positive that many Federationists are acutely aware of the Judy Young struggle to secure her present position as a fourth grade teacher in the Urbandale School District. I say that because in one way or another it was a maximum group effort. This is a success story that should teach us a valuable lesson. Organized, we have strength. There is little that we cannot achieve. Without it, prospects dim and accomplishments diminish in direct proportion to our disunity and disillusion.

Other graduates are busily building careers in different professions. Jim Omvig is making steady progress as an attorney with the National Labor Relations Board in New York City. Our alumni president, Curtis Willoughby, just by going to work every day is proving how short sighted and unimaginative those so-called experts can be who have steadily maintained that there is no place for the blind in the world of engineering. Incidentally, recently Lloyd Rasmussen became the second electrical engineer who formerly attended the Center. Once again must it be said that if professional workers in the field of work for the blind only had a particle of the faith that the blind have in themselves, job potentialities would be sharply enhanced. In recapitulating the professional field, it is impossible to omit the name of William Fuller. What Bill, a guidance counselor in Milton, Iowa, together with his wife, are doing to change the image of the blind in their community, cannot be truly comprehended without witnessing it. They are proving, contrary to what others have said, that the Orientation Center is not an institution for the blind segregated from the rest of society but rather gives the confidence to become fully assimilated into the community. I cannot leave this individual without making an additional observation. We took over after another state agency declared that Bill was unrehabilitable. Bill reappraised the situation. He refused to be discouraged and came to the Center. What we have proved together is that the other state agency is not only unrehabilitable but unredeemable. There are, of course, others that could be mentioned such as Ruth Ann Holkesvik who recently launched a career as a music therapist. However, the issue is plain for those who care to see; the blind have countless opportunities in the professions.

Stenographic and telephone related work have become lucrative sources of employment. Our latest placement deserves special recognition. Julie Vogt, rejected by another state agency as unfeasible for competitive employment, was offered a chance to receive on-the-job training and work experience in the local sheltered workshop. Where have we heard this before? Rather than acquiesce, she turned down this golden opportunity and moved to Iowa; and is today competitively employed at National Traveler's Life Insurance Company. Is it any wonder that in the Presidential Citation Award this year to the Commission, the congratulatory message read in part: "If an individual must be blind, it is better to be blind in Iowa."

Telephone-related jobs have been a constant source of employment. Unquestionably, this is to a large extent attributable to the enlightened policies of Northwestern Bell. It is hard for many of us to recapture the anxiety and recall the toughness of the negotiations that transpired to open the door for our first candidate, Karen Claussen Bodard. One of the newer traditions of the Center is to read the Commission Minutes. Every year I am always surprised to be reminded that it took approximately three years of prolonged conversations to secure the first CAMA job—Central Automatic Mechanized Accounting. Throughout the interminable proceedings, none lost faith or considered quitting. That is not the way of pioneers. Let it be said for the record that unlike many other employers. Northwestern Bell was convinced, at least in the CAMA area, in placements such as Arlene Hill Gashel, and others followed with no strife.

A very noteworthy event occurred at the end of the 1968 summer. On August 1, Don Morris resumed his position as personal representative with the Telephone Company. This is significant for two reasons: firstly, because it opens new jobs within the Bell System; and secondly, because if we succeed in this instance, we may be able to create parallel situations with other industries. This job requires the ability to evaluate accurately the telephone needs of a facility and to keep meticulous records. Above all, the individual in this line of work must possess a goodly measure of salesmanship. In the long run it is the capacity to produce, in this case sell communications equipment, which is uppermoost in the mind of the employer. From all indications, everything seems to be going smoothly.

Many students are working in industrial plants. The jobs range from deburrers at Collins involving the use of power tools to remove rough surfaces from metal to assemblers with Vermeer, manufacturers of ditch digging and stump cutting equipment and a host of other machinery. The gamut extends from Don Gagne with Dubuque Pack necessitating skill in sorting, lacing and grading of veal and lamb carcasses to Dennis Sabo employed by Electrical Maintenance and Engineering Company of Waterloo, one of two firms producing jail cell equipment in the U.S.A. The list covers from Herb Schneider at Sheil Bantom in Nashua assembling brake shoes to Ted Hart with John Deere operating a multiple spindle drill press machine. Finally, the range includes Ray Benson and Richard Bevington running turret lathes with American Tool and Dye Company, locally, to Bob Brach operating a bailing machine with Sanitary Wiping Cloth Company of Des Moines, and Roger Vecre with Montgomery Elevator Company of Moline, Illinois, working with hydraulic pumps. The list could be further extended, but the point is evident, is it not? If blind people are able to find and keep competitive factory jobs in Iowa, a state not particularly known for great manufacturing complexes, what possible excuse can exist for more industrialized states to build a similar record? The answer is starkly obvious. There is no acceptable alibi.

We come now to the Vending Stand Program, an achievement that can rightfully be designated as truly revolutionary in concept and in execution. Those of us who were connected as planners, participants, or just spectators are still able to recall the qualms and trepidations that plagued us when the Commission Grill venture was launched in 1961. Fortunately for the blind of the state, the Center had in the student body a man who proved to be uniquely qualified to assume stewardship. Neil Butler has moved on, but what he demonstrated in those early days beyond a shadow of a doubt was that a sightless person could operate a food business of a new scope. It is for that frontier deed that we all owe Neil a debt of gratitude. Everyone learned quickly and by the time the Commission was charged with a responsibility of administering the state food concession businesses in late 1965, there was not any question about the enterprise being a huge success. Three years later, it can be stated unequivocally that the faith shown to the blind by the Governor and Executive Council by entrusting the food business to us was fully justified. Through the efforts of such graduates as Monte Rathbun, John Anastasi, Phil Parks, and many others, the stand enterprises have come of age. Together we have written an historic chapter, one that embodies the spirit of the Randolph-Sheppard Act of the '30's, and a vending stand effort which wall serve as a model for the visually disabled to emulate in other states. The process of preparing legislation is under way; hopefully, it will prod other agencies to move progressively and with dispatch in the food merchandising sphere. We must do all we can to assist the rest of the country to follow our example and bring the stand program into the twentieth century.

Before terminating this catalogue of occupations, I briefly want to refer to the computer programming field. As many know. Bill Graves is the first Center graduate to work with computers. From all I am able to gather, everything is going splendidly. I know that you will rejoice with me to learn that Richard Mincey became the second candidate to enter the field. He is currently employed by the State Department of Revenue. We wish them both prosperity and success. The computer area is relatively new and we must remain alert, adaptable, and imaginative to take full advantage of the innovations that are bound to emerge.

These deeds speak for themselves. All of us, both collectively and individually, feel a keen sense of pride in the record compiled in the nine short years that have elapsed since we started controlling programs for the blind in Iowa. Notwithstanding the preeminence of our position, we are cognizant that we could not afford to linger or remain idle. We know only too well that a peoples' movement never is static. It is either moving forward, stagnating, or sliding backwards. The fact that we are assembled here tonight gives ample testimony that we do not intend to decline or to preside over the liquidation of our accomplishments. We have not labored this long to surrender meekly; nor to be lulled into inaction by the initial fruits of victory. In fact, our purpose here is exactly the opposite. We meet annually together to rededicate ourselves to the struggle, to rekindle our hope inspired by one another's achievements; and lastly, we convene to re-energize the momentum of our cause. Each year we pledge ourselves afresh to carry the fight into whatever quarter necessary in order to gain the day when blind people shall have equality, security, and opportunity.

We do not have to look far to find injustice. I shall conclude by citing only two of several obstacles that loom immediately ahead. The first is not new. It has been with us a long while. I refer to the problem of obtaining insurance. We now have a commitment from an insurance firm that it will not discriminate on the basis of blindness. It is ready to do business. We perceive that this rift in the forces amassed against us is only a breach; nevertheless, if properly nurtured, it may yet prove to be the Achilles heel in the conflict.

The second hurdle is also an old nemesis, a variation on a very familiar theme. Any blind man who has foresaken his rocking chair has confronted a situation where his right to be abroad in the land was infringed. How many of us have been refused travel insurance, lodging in hotels, accommodations on public carriers, rides in public amusement parks, and a variety of other difficulties too numerous to mention? In October, the students at the Center went on a field trip. Yesterday I mailed a letter that is self-explanatory and that I will now read to you:

Dear Mr. Busch:

On Monday, October 21, 1968, sixteen students and four instructors from the Iowa Orientation Center for the Blind visited the Anheuser-Busch facility in St. Louis, Missouri. This group of men and women are all adults, many of them with families of their own, and otherwise holding responsible positions. Students enrolled at the Center represent a cross-section of the population in terms of education, community participation, and in overall competence and ability. It is important to keep these facts in mind in light of the discussion which follows regarding our experience in your establishment.

Originally it was my intention to write you a letter of commendation for your progressive and enlightened attitude respecting the general competence of the blind. This is so because only three years ago I was in St. Louis, and I attempted to tour your plant. At that time the refusal was complete and absolute—I was not permitted to venture beyond the receptionist's desk. This time the results were considerably better, but short of what they ought to be.

The fact that our group received an abbreviated tour raises significant constitutional questions concerning the rights of citizens where the public is invited. However, more important than these issues are the attitudes and misconceptions about blind people that are involved in the formulation of such policies. The ramifications of such practices are disastrous to the welfare of sightless citizens. Permit me to make my meaning clear.

Consider the facts surrounding the reasons for denying the full tour to our group. The position taken by Mr. Boettecher, our guide, was that we would be required to : 1) walk a considerable distance; 2) negotiate seven flights of stairs; 3) pass near heated tanks; and 4) there were moving objects in the plant. Let us examine each of these items in turn.

The business about walking lengthy distances may be disposed of easily. Surely no one legitimately doubts that blind adults have the capacity to perambulate equal to that of the sighted. The fact that a man's eyes do not function cannot have any relevance concerning the performance of his feet. I think this is self-evident. However, consider the implications that inevitably ensue if this view persists. If the visually impaired would not be allowed to go on long walks, how might they accomplish innumerable tasks? How might they proceed to the store, school, church, work, and so forth? Indeed, since vision is required for driving. It could be reasonably argued that blind people out of sheer necessity do more walking than the sighted because there is not always an automobile at their disposal.

The situation is identical in the second instance. Allowing the view that blind people are unable to negotiate stairs to go unchallenged is fraught with serious consequences. Every time a visually disabled person approaches a structure where stairs might be confronted he would be barred from entering. In today's economy that would embrace every kind of building imaginable. What schools, churches, factories, or places of public business or entertainment could blind people visit where they would not expect to encounter stairs? Again, any kind of thoughtful reflection must inescapably reach the judgment that sightless persons must possess the ability to handle stairs. Otherwise life in this day and time would be literally impossible.

The third problem raised, though more subtle, presents perilous implications for those individuals lacking vision; for what is essentially at stake here is the proposition that blind men and women ought to be permitted to travel without restrictions only in an environment absolutely free from hazards. This notion is tantamount to house arrest, or something worse, considering that homes very often are scenes of accident and certainly very few are completely free of hazards. More significantly, this is an environment that can never be created for the blind—or anyone else, for that matter—since risks are an accompaniment to the existence of mankind.

This third point deserves special attention. Of course, everybody wants and ought to take every reasonable precaution to insure safe passage for all citizens, sighted and blind alike. Of course, the average individual feels especially concerned for the well-being of the disabled, and particularly the blind. Of course, every business firm is properly worried about accidents, potential insurance difficulties, and other costs. Lastly, of course, the extra caution was taken for our protection and security. All these factors are known and understood. Furthermore, the underlying motive is sincerely appreciated. Nevertheless, the road of the blind to inferior status and second class citizenship has too often been paved with the good intentions of others. Let us judge the merits of the question generally and specifically.

Governments at all levels and their respective political subdivisions hire thousands of employees, build hundreds of facilities, pay millions of dollars for all kinds of services, publicity, training, etc., for the avowed purpose of rehabilitating the disabled, among whom are several hundred thousand blind. Every year countless individuals and innumerable business establishments are asked to pay taxes to support governmental programs—which include rehabilitation. Businessmen are constantly asked to donate much of their valuable time and energy to take part in promoting activities such as "Employ the Handicapped Week", or to join the President's, (Governor's), Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped. In these and in many other ways persons in the business community sponsor, back, lend their names and prestige—all to develop a public climate to improve job opportunities for the disabled. Undoubtedly, your firm and many of its executives and employees have contributed significantly to such campaigns.

Speaking candidly, much of this commotion sounds like empty rhetoric to the disabled when they face the realities of the situation. Reflect for a moment. Are the disabled ever going to find jobs where no dangers exist? Is there ever going to be a day when a blind man leaves his home, sets off for work, crosses unvehicled streets, travels on sidewalks free from constructions, excavations, and other impedimenta; and arrives at the place of his employment which is 100 percent accident proof? No moving machinery, no steps, hot or cold receptacles, no dangerous wires, and a total lack of a myriad of other objects? Indeed, the situation is ludicrous on the face of it. Fortunately, the disabled do not want or require such protective custody.

Let us turn to the specifics. The steps in question were equipped with handrails. From every indication they appeared to be in excellent condition. The heated tanks were a safe distance from the stairs. Blind people do not burn or receive injury from objects in different proximity than do the sighted. With respect to moving machinery the stairs were not involved, for two reasons: the safety of the general public, and efficiency of operation. Again one is forced to surmise that such exertions in our behalf are unwarranted, unnecessary, obstructive, and fly in the face of public policy. Today, countless blind men and women are performing in factories and office buildings where there are stairs and dangerous machines. How could it be otherwise?

The fourth issue to a large extent has already been covered. These additional comments might shed more light on the subject. There is a commonly accepted misconception about the blind which holds, in effect, that they ought to be put or confined in safe places away from where they might receive injury due to moving objects. Again, the visually impaired automatically would be precluded from participation or involvement in everything from games, such as: tag, marbles, or baseball; to such necessities as: buildings, factories, or places of habitation; for in all these areas movement occurs. Life under these circumstances is not only impossible but repugnant to the human spirit.

Let me conclude with a few final comments. The students are receiving training at a nationally and internationally acclaimed program of rehabilitation for the blind. All the students had long canes with them and were skilled in their use. The students were accompanied by university trained sighted and blind instructors. The students' only disability is sight; the remaining mental and physical faculties are functioning perfectly. I reiterate that all the persons there were adults who had no previous record of irresponsible or impetuous conduct. In light of all these facts it is safe to conclude that no extraordinary precautions were needed. Your firm ran no greater risks with our group than it does every day with countless other organizations.

In classical times the notion emerged that man is a social animal. Today, modem sociologists would agree, but would hasten to add that he is a mobile creature, too. In the present rapid transportation and communication culture, nothing is more essential to personality, social existence, economic opportunity—in short, to individual well-being and integration into the life of a community—than the physical capacity, the public approval, and the legal right to be abroad in the land. What the blind need and must have if they are to be contributing members of society is liberation into public activity, not isolation from it; integration, not separation; acceptance, not rejection; exposure, not shelter; and most important of all, a realistic understanding of what blindness constitutes. Personal liberty in the sense of the right not to be unjustly or causelessly detained is an indispensable natural and civil right. Public places or those to which the citizenry is invited are for the beggar in his rags as well as the millionaire in his limousine.

I hope you give careful consideration to the foregoing remarks. I have spoken frankly but not angrily. If this letter in any way seems impertinent, please accept my apologies in advance, for such was not my intention. It is because the issues are vital that I presented the case in this fashion. My purpose was to permit truth to prevail over tradition, reason over prejudice, and realism over fantasy. If you care to reply, I shall be most happy to answer to the best of my ability any questions you wish to raise. If all proceeds according to plan, we shall be in St. Louis sometime next year. We want to include your plant on our itinerary.

Sincerely,

Manuel Urena

These illustrations make plain the fact that the blind have yet to merge completely from the dismal traditions of the alms house, the workshops, and similar institutions. The lesson of the St. Louis confrontation is real and immediate. In the words of Dr.tenBroek, unless we establish our right to be abroad in the world absolutely, "every trip to the mailbox or store, every stroll in the sun, every congregation with one's neighbors, every catching of a bus to go to school or work—all the ordinary and routine transactions of daily life safely conducted by the rest of the community in public places as a matter of course—would be conducted by the disabled at great hazard, in fact as to encourage if not make necessary their custodialization."

Most of the recent upheavals and protests around the world have been triggered by one singular need—the need for human dignity. This is true in countries where the most unbelievable poverty exists, where whole families never see more than $200 a year in hard money, and where sanitary conditions are as primitive as they were in the tenth century. Yet in every case the appeal is not for material comfort alone but rather for status as human beings. Their need is for acceptance as part of the open society of mankind as equals. The blind ask, no, demand nothing less!

Back to Contents

NELLIE CARDWELL HARGROVE—NEW NFB BOARD MEMBER

Mrs. Hargrove has been employed by the State of Tennessee in the Department of Public Works for the past eleven years. She says, "With this job, I find myself doing a variety of things. I am acting assistant to the Building Supervisor, and in his absence have complete charge of the State Office Building and it's maintenance staff. I find myself doing such chores as supervising the maids, acting as general receptionist, running the elevator, and managing the Building Supervisor's office. Occasionally I am called upon to act as receptionist to the office of the Director of Public Works." Even though this is a full time job, Nellie has another full time job which she considers equally as important: she is a housewife and the mother of a lively fifteen year old daughter. Nellie confesses this is the job she likes best and takes most seriously.

Nellie is the President of The National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee which, of course, is the NFB affiliate in that state. Being President of the Tennessee affiliate is in itself almost a full time job. The rapidly growing membership, along with numerous programs being started in the Tennessee affiliate, keep Nellie very busy along with all the routine duties that go with the presidency. The most outstanding program in the Tennessee affiliate this year is a strong fight by Nellie and her board of directors to pass a bill in the Tennessee legislature for a Commission for the Blind.

In 1959 and 1960 Nellie served as treasurer in the Nashville Chapter of the Tennessee Affiliate. She is an active member of the Alumni Assocation of the Tennessee School for the Blind.

Nellie is a member of Tennessee Young Democrats and for many years has been active in local politics. She enjoys working in local Mayor's races, senatorial campaigns, and she thinks the local city counsel race is always interesting.

In the past Nellie has been very active in the PTA, American Legion, and church activities. In her "spare" time she likes to bowl, hike, and swim. Her favorite hobby is cooking and her husband Robert says she is a real artist in the kitchen. Nellie finds time to read quite a bit. Her favorite writer is Kahlil Gibran.

As the result of a congenital eye defect, Nellie has been legally blind since the age of thirteen. She was born June 28, 1935 in East Tennessee. She is the daughter of The Reverand Thomas Cardwell and the late Mrs. Mazie Cardwell.

At the age of ten Nellie entered the Tennessee School for the Blind in Nashville. She remained in school there through the eleventh grade. While at the school for the blind, Nellie was a student of Kenneth Jemigan. She cites Mr. Jernigan as the single person having the greatest influence in her life. Among other things, Nellie says of Dr. Jernigan: "He opened doors for me that would have otherwise remained forever closed. It was Dr. Jernigan who told me about and caused me to be interested in the NFB."

Nellie attended Watkin's Institute in Nashville her senior year of high school. There, she was on the honor roll and was validictorian of the class of '56. In 1957 and 1958, Nellie attended Nashville Business College. She was employed briefly by Tennessee Aircraft Corporation before going to work for the state.

With all the other activities, the Hargroves entertain quite a bit. A New Year's Eve Party is an annual "happening" at their home. Nellie is a great hostess with all the traditional "southern hospitality".

"While I would not take anything for the sight which I have, I believe partial blindness to be a greater physical inconvenience than total blindness. It is more difficult to find a place in society, and it is really more difficult for a partially blind person to accept his handicap. A partially blind person frequently finds himself being looked upon as a snob, one under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or even a down-right fool because he shows none of the obvious signs of blindness, yet, he may stumble on the steps, fail to walk when the light changes, or neglect to speak to an acquaintance on the street because he does not recognize him." However, she feels that as a partially blind person she has become socially adjusted. She enjoys her work, gets along excellently with her sighted fellow workers, she has a wonderful home and community life, and she thoroughly enjoys her activities in the NFB.

Back to Contents

MINNESOTA CONVENTION

by Rosemary Varey

[Editor's Note: The following account of the Convention was reprinted from the Minnesota Bulletin, publication of the Minnesota Organization of the Blind.]

The 49th Annual Convention of the Minnesota Organization of the Blind, Inc., held its opening session on Friday evening, May 23rd 1969 at the Minnesota Home and Center.... President James Schleppegrell called the convention to order by calling for a standing quorum count which showed forty-five regular and five life members present making a total of fifty members.

The President then asked the Secretary Rosemary Varey to read the minutes of the Semi-Annual meeting and the special meeting of February 22nd, 1969. These were duly read and approved with one correction.

The President then appointed the Proxy Committee consisting of Art Houghtelin, Chairman, Bob Hanson and Roy Halldeen, and Election Ballot Committee with Jack Hicken, Chairman, Val Houghtelin, Mildred Phillips, Alfred Pierce and George Whitteker.

The chair then called on Maxine Bystedt, Chairman of the Resolutions Committee to make her report. She stated that there were a total of sixteen written resolutions in her possession for the first reading on which action would be taken during the Saturday morning and afternoon sessions....

The meeting turned its attention to hearing most of the oral and written reports such as Public Relations, Bulletin, Housing, Archives, the Arrowhead Chapter, the Minnesota Council of the Blind, Entertainment, etc.

To conclude this session, the President gave a brief report regarding announcements on the forthcoming State Fair booth to appear on the "Radio Talking Book" regarding the luncheon which was held in honor of the volunteers of the transcription unit, regarding Jim and Marie's scheduled appearance with Jane Johnston on her TV show in the interest of White Cane Drive publicity. The President briefly sketched legislative progress, especially pointing up the important part played by Senator John Tracy Anderson and Representative Robert Christensen during the recent legislative session. The convention then adjourned until 9 o'clock Saturday morning having transacted a good deal of business for one session to everyone's satisfaction....

The financial audit was submitted at two o'clock Saturday afternoon. This comprehensive report was most ably read by "Senator" Roy Halldeen upon the Secretary's request. Although the audit showed expenditures were up considerably over previous years due to greatly increased repairs and improvements at the Home and Center, it also showed the Organization to be in very sound and solvent condition, thanks in large measure to the generosity of Mrs. Bush and thanks to some real effective results by the Special Committee on Finance again this past year, Phil Houghtelin Chairman.

To lend variety and interest the remaining reports were sprinkled through the program such as the Women's Guild, Special Committee on Finance, Legislative Committee presented by Warren Becker, Welfare, Sales Service, Library and finally Membership given by Marie Schleppegrell. Marie was asked to call the roll after which she made her membership report, showing 286 regulars, 25 associates and 6 life members on the rolls. According to Marie's roll count at the afternoon meeting, 82 regulars and all 6 life members answered "present", a most gratifying turnout everyone agreed.

Another interesting innovation on the agenda was a lively discussion panel during the morning session on ways and means of fundraising to replace White Cane Days, should it become necessary to phase out this old reliable method of fundraising of 28 years long standing. Our seeming inability to recruit sufficient interested white cane workers was pointed out as one reason why the White Cane Days might soon have to be replaced by some other ways and means. Principal participants on the panel were: Clarence Johnson, speaking on a proposed mailing solicitation, Marie Schleppegrell on a Twin City-wide candy sales project, Phil Houghtelin on expanding his type of funding operation by enlarging the list of contacts and subscribers and Torger Lien on house to house type of solicitation. Ralph Aune, Finance Committee Chairman, Marie Westlund and others added much fuel to the fires of discussion on the subject of fundraising policies....

Under new business the Convention voted a hundred dollar contribution to the Radio Talking Book Network jointly sponsored by the State Services, Hamm Foundation and Transcription Unit, in view of the fact that as an Organization we stand to gain a good deal of educational publicity through this new medium.

A very good meal at a very good price followed by a not too long but good program presided over by a mighty good toast master would adequately describe our convention banquet. Ray Carlson, as the witty emcee, called on Rev. John Erickson for the invocation and then Ray in due time presented Lavonne Johnson and her accompanist for two excellent vocal numbers, after which he introduced Phil Houghtelin, chairman of the "Merits and Awards Committee" to make three citations of service recognition, namely: one to Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Larson for their outstanding beautification work of the Home grounds connected with the development of the fragrance garden; one each to Senator John Tracy Anderson and to Representative Robert Christensen for their active and effective sponsorship of all our bills in the past session of the legislature. However, due to the eleventh hour pressure of the closing legislature neither law-maker was able to be present to accept their special citations.

Since election returns are a traditional feature of these banquet events, the Emcee called Jack Hicken, Election Committee Chairman, to the microphone to give us the final count. Jack relieved the suspense by announcing the score gleaned from the 182 ballots. The results were: James Schleppegrell, President; Rosemary Varey, Secretary; Armond LaBerge, Director and Archie Enckson, Council Member for a three-year term.

Back to Contents

BILLIE'S DARK WORLD NO LONGER HANDICAP

by Judy Palcic

[Editor's Note: The following article appeared in Spotlight, the publication of Group Hospitalization Insurance of Washington, D. C.]

"Blindness is merely a physical disability, not a handicap," says Billie Schlank, computer programmer in the Data Processing Department.

Billie, a lively brunette who started working for GHI some seven months ago, proved that determination can be the key to success despite any obstacle. Blind since her birth in Arizona, Billie contends that the only two things that make her different from anyone else is that she can't pick up and readjust any book at any time, nor is it possible to get in a car and drive off when she gets the whim. "Other than that, I don't think there are any problems," says she.

An elementary and secondary education in special schools enabled her to adapt to her environment.... "I wanted to go to a public high school," Billie remembers, "but my mother wouldn't let me." Many blind students now attend public high schools and Billie thinks they should. "You may as well stop being protected and start competing with the rest of the world as soon as possible," she affirms. "Children miss out on a lot of skills that they can develop when they don't have a peer group to push them along."

Even without a push, Billie kept moving and learning. After a year in a liberal arts curriculum at Arizona State, she came to Washington and Georgetown University where she selected a two year program of intensified study in the language of her choice. She concentrated on German, taking notes with her slate and stylus.... If she could be noisy, she used a braille writer. And there were always tape recorders and "talking book" records, merely records that "read to you", for her use. Billie said that for taking notes she preferred braille to tapes because one can easily flip back to refer to something that's written in braille.

"I learned one important thing when I first came to Washington," Billie said in a serious tone. "Comparing myself to the 45 students at Georgetown's School for the Blind, I found that I wasn't using my full potential." She said that she saw how independent her peer group really was. "It was a good learning experience for me," Billie remarked.

With that learning experience, Billie's life story began to unfold. She met her husband in Georgetown while he was a commuting student at the School for the Blind in Washington. Already holding an undergraduate degree and a master's degree in psychology and Spanish, husband Allen decided not long ago to go on to school for his doctorate. "A friend of ours said to him, 'Don't get your Ph.D.; I'll bet you'd really like programming,' " Billie recalls.

In a flood of enthusiasm both Billie and her husband enrolled, only three months apart, at the Lear Sieglar Institute in Brentwood, Maryland. "He wouldn't let me start in his class—husband and wife competition, you know," she laughed. So it wasn't her command of German that got Billie her job with GHI, but a completed course in computer programming. "I'm really excited about this," she exclaimed. "After being a housewife for nearly five years, it's a boost to be making a real salary."

Her lack of sight seems to prove no obstacle in her work. Using the slate and stylus, she can read IBM cards by locating and counting the holes, much like a computer does. Jim Shannon in Data Processing wrote a program that prints out braille on the computer. Billie's now awaiting IBM-promised tapes that will enable the computer to print out in braille all IBM manuals that she uses. If she needs to research something or have it read to her, she calls the Division for the Blind in the Library of Congress which daily offers student and professional services to blind persons.

In the meantime, Billie continues to be active in the local branch chapters of the National Federation of the Blind where she has served as president for the past two years. She helps with job placement of people like herself, and works to "get them acclimated to their environment while maintaining their same personalities." Presently, she's helping fight for legislation to prevent a ceiling on the amount of income a blind person can make before his social security disability insurance is cut off.

Life for Billie Schlank is rarely dull.

Back to Contents

EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN

by Mrs. R. C. Kahn

[Editor's Note: Mrs. R. C. Khan operates a private school in Karachi, Pakistan, in which blind and sighted children attend integrated classes. She also personally obtained the grant of land from the government on which the school stands and supervised the design and construction of the school building. Mrs. Khan is the vice-president of the Pakistan Association of the Blind, an affiliate of The International Federation of the Blind.]

Education, providing for the proper mental and psychological development of a man enables him to live a normal life as a useful citizen. Education is a birth right of every person in advanced countries.

The Government of Pakistan has planned to provide free primary education for children both in the urban and rural areas, but this only includes educational facilities for normal children.

As regards education of the blind and handicapped children nothing substantial has been so far planned and provided. With conscious awakening of the blind all over the world, it is confirmed that blindness is a physical nuisance and not a handicap, provided the blind children are given proper educational facilities and psychological treatment and training. This is proved by the conditions of life of the blind in advanced countries where they live and work on competitive basis with sighted people. But this cannot be achieved unless the uplift of the blind is organized on proper lines. The blind not only need academic training but they also need special training to adapt themselves for employment in industry, trades and professions.

Several organisations in Pakistan interested in the welfare of the blind have provided training for some blind persons and then had them employed in industrial units. The output of these persons engaged in some industries shows that they are better than their sighted co-workers.

According to the census of 1961 the number of blind people is recorded as 5 lacs (500,000). But the actual number is much greater as a large proportion of the blind population have not enlisted themselves due to social and other prejudices. As compared to the adult blind, the number of partially or totally blind children is estimated at 1 lac. What are the facilities provided for the education of these children by the Government or other social organisations working in this field? Under the present social and economic structure nothing substantial has yet been achieved and the blind are left to their fate. Except for a few well-to-do the blind are thrown on the road, living on peoples' charity. Most of them are practically living on begging. This is mainly due to the blindness of the public towards the blind, who are condemned as a negative economic unit. But research on the lives of the blind has proved that blind persons have more potentialities, and given proper treatment, they can be trained and helped to live like normal men. So the primary problem is the education of the blind and the reforming of the public attitude towards them. We deal here with the education of blind children. According to the rough estimate as mentioned above we have a large number of blind children groping in psychic darkness rather than physical. It is not possible to establish schools for the education of the blind children as this would be very expensive. Besides this, isolation of the blind children from the normal sighted ones could lead to several complexes. The normal course is to introduce integrated educational institutions where the blind and sighted can be trained together. But before a blind child is introduced into a normal school he needs to undergo some primary adjustment. First and foremost it is necessary to make a blind child believe that the physical handicap can be overcome by courage and determination to enable him to combat the battle of life. Secondly it is necessary to change the attitude of the parents and teachers towards the initial helplessness of the blind which can be removed by a short training. The blind can be taught independent mobility to find their way around. This ability to move about gives them independence and the courage to mix with sighted children. At the same time the sighted children with whom the blind ones are associated must be sympathetic and considerate. To educate the blind in reading and writing the "BRAILLE SYSTEM" is universally accepted. This is quite easy to grasp and once the children develop the sense of touch they progress quite fast and in a year a child can do both reading and calculating numbers. There are special slates for arithmetic and algebra. As regards geography braille maps are available. Even the world globe is brailled. Braille literature is rapidly growing and regular supplies of school text books, magazines and newspapers are produced. Properly equipped the blind student can progress remarkably and there are many students who have achieved high academic qualifications in Pakistan.

The integrated programme where the blind and sighted study together will solve many problems both for the Government and the public. It will be more economical to run such institutions than those purely for the blind. Secondly it will teach the sighted children to accept the blind as a normal course. Thirdly the blind children will learn how to cope with the sighted ones.

At present there are about 14 educational institutions interested in the education of the blind both in the East and West Wings of the country. The intake is very low as they are not properly organized. Most of these are vocational centres which are suitable for adults rather than children. The total attendance in these institutions is estimated at 300 only. Even this is not regularly maintained as some of the students go back dissatisfied either with the mode of education or other facilities. Thus out of every one thousand blind children, only three children have the chance to educate themselves. This is pathetic compared to our large population. Something revolutionary has to be done to solve this problem and both the Government and the public can help this large multiple of children bereft of the hope of education. Both the Government and public schools must open their doors for these children and make the lives and futures of the blind bright and purposeful.

Back to Contents

CRACKDOWN ON MEDICAID

Readers of the January, 1969 issue of The Monitor will recall the prediction that medicaid was in deep trouble. Now this is coming to pass. Under the provisions of Title XIX of the Social Security Act, the federal government shares in the costs to the states of providing medical care, the federal share ranging from 50 percent to 83 percent, depending on the per capita income of a given state. The program now pays for medical care not only for recipients of public assistance, but for the medically indigent—those persons too poor to afford good medical care but not poor enough to qualify for public assistance.

A report recently issued by President Nixon was highly critical of the medicaid program, citing the rapid expansion of public expenditures for health care in this country, creating a demand for these services far in excess of the capacity of America's health system to respond. For instance, the rate of hospital care per day has gone from $44 in 1965 to $70 as a current average. At the present rate of inflation it is estimated by officials of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare that the daily hospital rate will climb to $80 in 1970 and probably to $100 a day within three years.

The Administration is recommending to the Congress a series of proposals designed to curb the rising costs of the program. These include elimination of allowances to hospitals and nursing homes for unidentified costs and stricter regulations to limit payment to individual practitioners; increased reviews of drug utilization, pricing, efficacy and safety; a directive to the Public Health Service to promote alternative medical care facilities; and other drastic changes.

And now the American Medical Association (AMA) is getting into the act, being on the verge of mounting an all-out campaign in behalf of its income tax credit health plan which, if enacted, would kill medicaid outright. The irony is that medicaid would not be a program at all if it had not been for the AMA which supported the old Kerr-Mills medical assistance for the aged in a vain effort to head off medicare under the Social Security Act. Under the AMA plan the cost of purchasing health insurance coverage would be a credit against income tax owed, applied on a graduated basis. The government would reimburse taxpayers for costs that exceed the income tax owed. The cost of the plan would be borne by the insured to the fullest extent possible, and by government to the extent absolutely necessary. For public assistance recipients the cost of health insurance would be paid by federal, state, and local governments. The only thing that is holding the AMA back a bit in its efforts to kill medicaid is the fear that its already tarnished image will become even more stained in the public mind as a result of its long history of opposition to decent medical care for the American people, financed when necessary by the government.

Back to Contents

MEET OUR STATE PRESIDENT—RAMI RABBY AND OUR STATE AFFILIATE—ILLINOIS

The establishment, on the 10th of August, 1968, of the Illinois Congress of the Blind ushered in a new era of progress in the history of the National Federation of the Blind, an era of expansion and, in accordance with the mood of the times, an era of radical action aimed at implementing social change. On that day, at Chicago's Sherman House, there was a distinct feeling that history was being enacted, as some seventy people delivered their founding dues and invested in freedom, equality, and opportunity.

Rami Rabby was elected president of the new affiliate. Born in Israel, in 1942, Rami Rabby lost his sight at the age of eight. In 1952, he traveled to England to continue his school career. He spent ten years in residential schools for the blind, and in 1962, went to Oxford University to study for a B.A. honours degree in French and Spanish. In 1966, upon graduating from Oxford, he was offered a management traineeship in personnel by the Ford Motor Company of Britain. In the fall of 1967, he was fortunate enough to be granted a fellowship by the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business to come to the United States and study for a Master's degree in Business Administration. He hopes to complete his studies, in the summer of this year, and is at present hunting for a position in American industry.

The I.C.B. came to Illinois like a breath of fresh air, and it seemed as if, once more, the spirit of Lincoln was in the land. On the legislative front, our principal project for this first year has been the passage of the Model White Cane Law through the Illinois Legislature. At the time of writing, complete passage of the bill intact is considered a mere formality. Through our involvement in the legislative field, we have made many good friends among Illinois's legislators who will be willing to fight for us, in future actions. We also made contact with several other Illinois organisations of physically handicapped persons with which we shall be developing friendly and mutually useful relationships. In the field of litigation, we have also made our mark, this lime in Cook County. The case in question involved one of our members who had qualified for a case-worker's job with the Cook County Public Aid Department, but was then refused the job on grounds of blindness. The I.C.B. fought on his behalf, at Civil Service Commission hearings, and we hope our effort will have helped instill in the Cook County governmental structure a fresher attitude towards the employment of blind persons.

Our Women's Division has proved to be one of our most successful sub-groups. They demonstrated their resourcefulness by obtaining funds from a large food manufacturer for the purpose of producing in braille booklets of package directions for the preparation of various mixes. That's what we call good business. Nor has our Student Division been standing still: in March, it organised a panel discussion about summer employment for blind students in which the principal participants were the executive director of the Governor's Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped and a counsellor from the Illinois State Employment Service.

However, by far the most publicised venture of the I.C.B., this year, took place, one freezing February Sunday morning, when a number of our members occupied the sidewalk, in front of a North Side church, and passed out explanatory leaflets to the entering flock of worshippers whose devout shepherds had, the day before, cancelled a meeting of our Women's Division which was to take place in their quarters, on grounds of excessive insurance risk.

Clearly, very little of the above activity could have taken place without the strenuous fundraising efforts made, throughout the last eight months, efforts which we hope to redouble, during National White Cane Week. Clearly, too, very little would have been accomplished without the whole-hearted and dedicated commitment of an increasingly expanding membership which has proved that Illinois is "where it's at".

Back to Contents

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST BLIND UNJUST

by Jeannie Campos

[Editor's Note: Jeannie Campos is a student at the University of Washington, Seattle, who likes to get nvolved. She tutored a fourth-grader under a neighborhood house program last year. She is studying with the American Friends Service Committee to be a draft counselor; and she recently spent a Saturday ironing to raise $10 for a special education program which provides funds for disadvantaged students. Jeannie has been blind since she was seven years old. Following is Jeannie's delightful letter to the Editor and her article.]

Hi,

I'm Jeannie Campos; I'll be starting my third year in editorial journalism at the University of Washington next fall; and, at least lately, I seem to have a knack for pestering people.

You might say that I unwittingly started off my journalistic career in March of this year when I submitted a rather indignant letter concerning my being refused an apartment because of the few stairs it was necessary to climb in order to reach it to both of the local newspapers. As it happened, only the one for which I was then working as a carrier printed the letter, but I did get a reaction. Al Fisher, editor of The White Cane, the WSAB publication, contacted my fiance and me, interviewed the manager involved, and wrote the story up in the magazine. Aside from a lot of teasing comments from friends and so on, the whole episode turned out for the best. Although I had found another place to live, I think that at least some understanding was established between the landlady and me. More important, I discovered the N.F.B. and found that it wasn't entirely useless to sound off.

It was after an attempt of some questionable success to organize a state student chapter of the N.F.B. that I became acquainted with the cases which inspired me to write my second letter to the previously silent Seattle Times. This is the one to which you have referred.

At present, not being able to find a summer job, I am working as a volunteer for the Seattle Rumor Center (an agency concerned with preventing and curbing rumors phoned in by interested persons) and looking into the possibilities of the Part-Time Unpaid Citizens' Corps (a division of VISTA). In my spare time—of which I now have a lot—I am talking to people and finding out what they are thinking, as well as thinking a lot myself.

I have to admit I'm rather stumped as to what you mean by ' more cases of discrimination against the blind in Seattle". I cannot pretend to know all the visually impaired in Seattle nor all of their problems. Most of the problems that have been floating around are either on their way to being settled or are lost in the shuffle. However, there are some which never lose their timeliness, and perhaps I can crank out a semblance of a halfway decent article.

Thank you for your interest, and God bless and keep you always. Peace be with you.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

I used to think that a university community, being exposed to so many different kinds of people, would be more liberal in its acceptance of blind persons than most other locales. However, no matter where one goes, he will find people who have never come in contact with the visually handicapped and thus do not know how to respond.

This, in itself, is understandable, since most people cannot imagine getting along without their eyes—unless, of course, they have done so—and have no real inkling of how they would want to be treated in such a situation. The outcomes of this misunderstanding, however, can be annoying and, at best, amusing. This one basic factor, along with the ways in which it manifests itself, often presents an obstacle in the way of comfortable social relationships between blind persons and their sighted peers. It seems also to be the foundation of a prospective employer's or landlord's unnecessary concern for one's safety.

I'm certain that few of the visually impaired have not experienced an encounter in which they had the feeling that the person with whom they were interacting treated them as though they had some other limitation—physical or mental—besides their blindness. I haven't quite figured out the basis for such an assumption and thus won't pretend to know the answer. However, with odds such as these, it's easy to understand why everything would not always be smooth sailing for the blind person leading a "normal" life. And, unfortunately, Seattle, with at least three institutions of higher learning within its city limits, is not exempted from these misconceptions.

One rather amusing mistake which is often made is mistaken identity. Very often someone will become acquainted with one blind student and assume afterwards that all blind students he encounters are that one.

I once frightened a prospective landlord out of his wits when he discovered I was blind. I could almost hear him gulp before he asked the crucial question "Are you blind?" He then asked some questions about my ability to take care of myself and didn't appear too convinced by my answers. After that, his manner was rather discouraging, and I decided I'd better not push the issue, especially if somebody was likely to have a heart attack every time I turned on the hot plate or ran up and down the stairs.

That was all right for me; but one of my girlfriends decided to try the same place about a month later, unaware of the fact that I'd been there. We look absolutely nothing alike, but the landlord's wife—who hadn't seen me when I was there—insisted that she was I and was sure she had been there before. Neither of us, I suppose because we considered it an insult to our individuality, was too pleased about the mix-up, and my girlfriend decided to look elsewhere, too.

I would like to know where some churches get the notion that all blind persons are poverty-stricken and cannot possibly afford to put anything in the offering plate. I'm sure I'm not the first who has had the plate passed over me, but I think that if this one episode doesn't top them all, it comes close.

I had the pleasure once of sitting next to a very nice, helpful lady in church, who showed me where to sign the attendance slip, etc. Everything went fine until the offering was being taken. The usher came to the end of our pew and was about to take the plate directly from the lady. She told him to wait a minute and asked me if I wanted to put anything in. To which the usher said, "She—doesn't see" and zipped off with the plate. At that time I could only sit there openmouthed, but now I have to laugh at the embarrassed delicacy with which some people "cope" with limitations in others. Perhaps the church considers itself the guardian of the visually impaired?

I realize that I could be writing about more aggravating cases of discrimination against the blind, but I feel that the ridiculous come from the same seed as the unjust and thus feel that one is as important as the other.

A young couple I know was once refused an apartment unless they would put a child's gate at the top of the stairs so that the girl would not fall. Many others have met with conflicting opinions on their ability to climb stairs, and one friend of mine was even refused because she didn't have anyone to read her mail. Whenever I think of landladies' qualms over climbing stairs, I think of an old lady groping her way down the stairs and not looking where she's going. Perhaps in the oldentimes when Grandmother was a girl this type of fear might be justified, but this is the age of liberation—both from outside and inside hangups. This type of discrimination is something that no law will truly remedy. (I'd like to see a law prohibiting passing the offering plate over a blind person.) I think our main channel now for communication should be through public relations, not lobbying. Perhaps then we'll have an ex-prospective employer or landlord lobbying for us!

Back to Contents

VICTORY FOR INDIAN FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

[Editor's Note: The Convenor of the Indian Federation of the Blind has been engaged on a number of fronts in the struggle to improve the condition of the blind in his country. A four year fight was brought to a successful conclusion and a real breakthrough in the professional field recently accomplished. The results are set out in the correspondence below. The Convenor has been an avid reader of the Monitor over the years and a constant correspondent. That he has also developed into an ardent Federationist is apparent.]

June 24, 1969

University Grants Commission
Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
New Delhi-1, INDIA

Gentlemen:

I have received from A. N. Venkatasubramanian, Convenor, Indian Federation of the blind, notification of your action recognizing the desirability of employing qualified blind persons as teachers in the regular schools. We of the National Federation of the Blind of the United States of America and of the International Federation of the Blind commend you for this constructive action and urge that it be implemented by the actual appointment of qualified blind persons to teaching positions. We would further urge that the University Grants Commission go even farther than it has and recognize the fact that discipline in classrooms and similar details of classroom routine pose no real problem for competent blind persons and that the blind are not especially gifted in music, crafts, etc. Our experience has taught us that, with training and opportunity, the average blind person can do the average job in the average place of business and that he can do it as well as his sighted neighbor. If such training and opportunity exist, then blindness can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance. It need not be the great tragedy it has been always thought to be.

Let me repeat our commendation and congratulations on this first step which you have taken toward the recognition of the innate potential of the blind. I feel sure that you will be taking other steps along this road in the months and years ahead.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth Jernigan
President

- - - - - - - - - - - -

University Grants Commission
Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
New Delhi-1
June, 1969

To: The Convenor
The Indian Federation of the Blind
Taruvai P. O.,
Tirunelveli-5,
(Tamil Nadu),

Subject: Utilization of service of adequately qualified blind persons.

Sir,

With reference to your letter dated 23rd May, 1969 on the subject mentioned above, I am directed to say that the University Grants Commission had appointed a Committee to consider the question of utilization of services of blind (but otherwise qualified) persons in Universities and Colleges. The recommendations of the Committee which were generally approved by the UGC have been circulated to the Universities vide Commission's letter of even number dated 7th May, 1969 (copy enclosed).

Yours faithfully,

L.R. Mal for Secretary

- - - - - - - - - - - -

University Grants Commission
Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
New Delhi-1
7th May, 1969

To: The Registar

Sir,

Subject: Utilization of services of adequately qualified blind persons in Universities and Colleges.

The University Grants Commission had appointed a Committee to consider the question of utilisation of services of blind (but otherwise qualified) persons in Universities and Colleges. At its meeting held on 2nd April, 1969, the Commission generally approved the recommendations made by the Committee, and desired that these be circulated to the Universities.

A copy of the report of the Committee is sent herewith for information of the University. It is requested that the recommendations of the Committee may be brought to the notice of Colleges affiliated to the University.

Yours faithfully,

L.R. Mal
for Secretary

Annexure to Item No. 9

UNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION

The meeting of the Committee appointed by the Commission to consider the general question of utilization of services of adequately qualified blind persons in universities and colleges was held on 27th January, 1969, in the U.G.C. The following were present:

1. Prof. M.N. Srinivas,
Head of the Department of Sociology,
Delhi University.

2. Dr. I. C. Shastri,
Formerly in the Department of Sanskrit
Institute of Postgraduate Studies
Delhi University.

3. Dewan Hari Krishan Dass,
President
Blind Social Welfare Society,
New Delhi.

4. Sri Paroshotam Das,
Principal,
Blind School,
New Delhi.

5. Shri R. K. Chhabra,
Joint Secretary,
U.G.C.

6. Shri L. R. Mal,
Education Officer,
U.G.C.

Shri S. N. Ranade, Principal, Delhi School of Social Work could not attend the meeting.

The Committee was informed that the Commission had received some representations from qualified blind persons who had not been able to secure suitable teaching jobs in universities and colleges. The Commission had accordingly decided that the question of the utilization of the services of adequately qualified blind persons may be considered by a Committee.

It was pointed out that the employment of blind persons in universities and colleges was likely to pose two problems: (1) discipline in classroom specially at the undergraduate level, and (2) the inadequacy of material in braille for teaching, especially at the postgraduate level and for research purposes. It was felt that blind persons may not be in a position to keep discipline in classes especially at the undergraduate level where the number of students was generally large and that this might place the blind teachers in a very difficult position. It was pointed out in this connection that such difficulties were not likely to arise in the case of outstanding teachers as disconnection with the outer world increases concentration and depth of thought; and even in the case of ordinary ones students were likely to be considerable towards blind teachers. The difficulty of keeping abreast of the latest literature in the subject could also be met by giving each blind teacher employed helper who would read the required material, make notes and take dictations.

After considerable discussion, the Committee felt that wherever there were suitably qualified blind persons for appointment to teaching posts in universities and colleges they should not be ruled out simply because they happened to be blind. They could be employed for tutorial work in certain subjects, or even for postgraduate teaching where the enrollment was small. As braille facilities were not fully developed in the country, the Committee was of the view that provision would have to be made for providing an assistant to such person to help him. However, for certain subjects, like music where the blind persons had shown remarkable proficiency, they could be appointed straightaway without a helper, and other things being equal, a blind person be given preference for appointments in teaching music in universities and colleges. The appointment of blind persons for tutorial work and postgraduate classes in certain subjects could be tried on an experimental basis, and in the light of the experience this could even be extended to the other subjects and classes.

The Committee also felt that where the blind students had shown good results in research work they could be provided with suitable fellowships in universities and colleges to enable them to continue their research work. The U.G.C. might institute some special fellowships of a suitable amount which might also include the cost of a helper, to be awarded to blind research scholars.

Back to Contents

NO LITTLE BLIND SCHOOL FOR SACRAMENTO

by Henry Negrete

[Editor's Note: Henry Negrete is the President of the Capitol Chapter, California Council of the Blind, which serves the Sacramento area.]

On a hot June night this year, the School Board of the Sacramento City Unified School District was confronted by a dismayed contingent of parents and citizens. More then twenty-five people representing the Capitol Chapter of the California Council of the Blind, the Capitol Association of Blind Students, and parents of blind children in the district, had come to learn why the school administration and the School Board had decided to do away with the Resource Program at the elementary level. The Board proposed instead to segregate the blind students from the rest of their classmates and place the sixteen children who benefit from the program in two separate classrooms, each to be taught all courses by a single teacher.

The Resource Program has developed in California over the last fifteen years, and has been in effect in Sacramento for thirteen years. Under this program, the visually handicapped child gets his schooling in a regular classroom with his sighted peers and goes to the resource teacher only for braille reading and writing, typing, and training in other skills necessary for success in school. Each child spends an average of one hour a day in the resource room.

The proposed change would place the entire burden of teaching all subjects as well as the special skills on two teachers—one for the first through third grades, the other fourth through sixth. Obviously the academic curriculum would be inferior to what had been offered in the integrated program. Having to accept being separated from former classmates because of blindness would have been a cruel psychological burden to add to those already put upon blind students.

The educational prospects for next year, academically, psychologically, and socially was abysmal. Although the entire Board felt various degrees of sympathy for the program, they were faced with a woefully inadequate budget for planning anything but the barest essentials in education for next year. This was only one of many cutbacks made.

It can be anticipated that this kind of problem will become more common as the issue of property taxes and school bonds continues to meet with disfavor at the polls. The organized blind throughout the nation should be alert to their local educational problems and be prepared to stand and fight for what they have and not let regressive educational policies such as the above proposal lead us to little one room school houses for the blind.

For the time being, at least, there will be no little blind school in California's capital city's Unified School District!

Back to Contents

ALFONSO SMITH—NEW NFB BOARD MEMBER

Al Smith, President of the Ohio Council of the Blind, knows his organizations from the ground up. He was a charter member and one of the organizers of the Youngstown Council of the Blind, an Ohio Council affiliate and served it in all of its offices except that of secretary. He was elected its president five times. Al has also done yeoman service in the state organization. He served on its legislative committee for seven years; was its second vice president for two years; its first vice president for two years; and is now in his second term as president. It would be hard for any officer to complain to him about the burdens of his assignment, elective or otherwise.

Al was born November 1, 1913 in Coosa County, Alabama but was raised and had his schooling in Youngstown, Ohio where the family settled in 1917. He graduated from Rayen High School in 1933. A bout with scarlet fever at the age of thirteen left him with weakened vision. It slowly deteriorated and by the time he was twenty-six there wasn't much left. He spent the next few years working for construction companies.

In 1945 he went for rehabilitation to the Ohio Commission for the Blind, now the Bureau of Services for the Blind, and learned his trade of broom making. As an independent businessman, he owned and operated the Steel City Broom Company for thirteen years. The Youngstown Society for the Blind hired him as supervisor to train men in his trade eleven years ago. His success is based m his philosophy. He is a strong believer in personal dignity and self-reliance which can be fully realized only if one is given the opportunity to develop his abilities.

Al Smith's activities stretch to other community service. He serves on the board of trustees of the McGuffey Center and is a member of the Ohio Chapter of the AAWB.

His family does get a portion of his time. He married Amanda Wallace in June of 1938. Their three daughters and two grandsons have helped to make his a well rounded life.

Back to Contents

THE DEGREE DOGMA

by Lawrence Marcelino

If a blind man is to develop and contribute to his society, if he is to earn and enjoy the fruits of his labor, if he is to live his life as a full-fledged human being, he must make many adaptations. Among these adaptations, and important among them, is the development of a means of independent travel. Without them he must have the resources to employ a guide or carriers to transport him in a sudan chair in the manner of the chieftains of old. Throughout the centuries it is clear that some blind people have learned how to travel, though most did not. Those who did learn, generally learned through trial and error or were taught by other blind people. As a matter of fact, blind people are still learning to travel by trial and error and are being taught by other blind people, and, of course, still today most blind people do not travel, or do not travel independently. Indeed, people do not generally expect the blind to travel and when the blind do travel, regard it as mysterious, if not miraculous.

Even though the general view is still that the blind person is helpless and immobile, there is an increasing acceptance of the fact that some blind people do indeed travel. There is even an increasing recognition of the RIGHT of the blind to travel, and it is within this context that more emphasis is being given to mobility training, an emphasis which is often misplaced and sometimes harmful. I do not wish to be misunderstood on this point. It is not bad that blind people are learning to get about—quite the contrary is so. No one can be more pleased than the author to note that probably more blind people are traveling independently now than ever before. Misplaced emphasis and the danger lie elsewhere, and we shall now turn to an exploration of this emphasis and of this danger.

In the United States there are now five universities that offer training leading to a Masters Degree in Peripaiology or Orientation and Mobility. (Despite these high flown names, it is still "Travel") To qualify for the degree, candidates learn how to travel with a cane, and a good vision requirement is imposed. Schools and other agencies which hire people to teach travel to the blind more often than not are requiring the Masters Degree as a condition of employment. The automatic result of such programs is, first of all, to exclude the blind from teaching other blind people how to travel, and this means that many excellent teachers are excluded from teaching. More significant than this, the exclusion represents the lack of confidence and the philosophy of defeatism held by the institutions running the Masters programs aimed, supposedly, at assisting the blind. This perhaps is the most important and ironic weakness in the Masters Degree program, but there are other serious weaknesses as well. What is involved in a blind man's getting about with a cane? A little courage, a little desire, some understanding of a method to be applied, and a great deal of practice. These would seem to be the elements. The general theory of cane travel can be learned in a very short time, perhaps in the course of a Sunday afternoon when one doesn't have something more interesting to do. Cane travel is a little like typing, water skiing or doing the high hurdles. It is not the concept, but the execution; not the principle, but the performance which requires time, effort and practice. If the content can be mastered with the principle understood in the matter of an afternoon, a day or even a week, it is remarkable, to say the least, that five universities already are issuing higher degrees in a field so lacking in subject matter. But who knows, perhaps there will sometime be a Masters in Rest and a doctors in Tiddledy Winks. On the other hand, if it is the performance that counts rather than a principle to be understood, then certainly many blind people, as a matter of fact all those who have a proficiency in getting about alone should at once be awarded a degree at least at the Masters level. What is more, the Masters ought not to be limited to travel or peripatology, but rather should be awarded in every field in which the practice of a technique is required for a person to gain proficiency in that technique.

Of course, it might be argued that one should ignore the fact that there is no content which merits the issuance of Masters Degrees in this field, that we should be grateful that more and more people are learning how to teach travel to the blind and, as a consequence, increasing numbers of blind people are learning how to get about. Our immediate answer to this is, of course, that more blind people are learning to get about because it is more generally accepted that they can travel, and not because universities are of a sudden awarding Masters Degrees in Peripatology. As a matter of fact, good students tend to pursue programs which have some real content, while poor students tend to gravitate into programs with little content, It would follow, then, that the awarding of the Masters Degree in Peripatology would tend to drive promising students away from working with the blind, while at the same time inducing poor students to come into this field. The result is, of course, that the imaginative and gifted person is much less likely to be put in a position in which he will make contributions to the solution of the problems of the blind. And this is not all. The problem is that we are not just missing contributions from the good, but that we are getting contributions from the bad. There will tend to grow a mass of misinformation, a quagmire of sloppy thinking, a slushpool of inadequate scholarship which will tend to interfere with progress toward the solution of problems. It is in this way that form comes to be mistaken for substance. As a matter of fact, it may well be that the rate at which form is substituted for substance varies inversely with the amount of substance there is. Thus, in those fields lacking in content the expert can speak with greater certainty and have his pronouncements more widely accepted. Whether we have happened on to a new general principle, whether we have made a discovery with universal application, is a determination which is as yet premature. It would appear, however, that this generalization will stand up under scrutiny in work for the blind. In this field the penpatologist is rapidly coming to be looked upon as a repository of all knowledge, as the discoverer of new truth; and as the dispenser of all wisdom. This trend has apparently gained momemtum in universities in direct ratio to the awarding of the Masters Degree in Peripatology. Along with this trend, and as a derivative of it, there seems to emerge a second general principle: namely, that when one's studies are deficient in content the student is enabled to speak early in his career not only in the field which he is studying but in other fields as well. Thus the peripatologist issues his pronouncements on subject matter ranging from diseases of the eye to the psychology of the blind, from the education of the blind child to the listing of occupations suitable for the blind adult. [This whole subject, perhaps, is deserving of further exploration.] This Academic Aiemia will tend to foster and accept as truth a body of hocus-pocus which, like other incantations, may be impressive to some in its ceremonial aspects, but possess little magic.

Still another weakness in this Masters Degree system is that individuals who might have a great deal to contribute but who, for whatever reason, have failed to secure approval to practice the RITE, are automatically excluded from the field.

These are some of the weaknesses which are inherent in the present Masters Degree system, and unfortunately these weaknesses cannot be overcome, the objectives put to rest, by making changes in the requirements for the Masters Degree, since the whole approach is wrong. There is no one skill or no combination of skills which can readily be imparted that mean very much in solving the problems of the blind, because our problems don't he in whether we can get about or whether we can read and write Braille. They lie, rather, in the general attitudes and conceptions held by society and shared by us in the consequences of these conceptions and attitudes. In selecting personnel to work with the blind, whether in teaching travel or in whatever field, the key to success lies in that individual's belief in and attitude toward the blind persons with whom he will be working, and not in whether he is good at travel, Braille, typing, or Tiddledy Winks. Given understanding and breadth of attitude, the particular skill to be taught can be readily learned by the teacher.

We do not here condemn, nor wish to be understood to be condemning of those Masters in Peripatology who are now teaching the blind to travel. We understand that many of these people are fine people and are doing good work, not because of what was required in their Masters Degree training, but because, rather, they are the kind of people they are.

There is one other aspect to this problem to which we would like to call your attention. About a quarter of a century ago, when the techniques by which a blind man can travel first began to be systematized, most professionals pooh poohed the whole idea. They in general regarded it as absurd to attempt to develop a methodology, and quite as absurd to attempt to impart that methodology to another person. However, after travel had been taught successfully to many people over the ensuing few years, professionals almost universally began to acclaim mobility as the key to the solution of all of the blind man's problems. Never mind his general education, his attitudes, his self-appraisal, his skill and his competence, the big question now is whether he can travel. This whole attitude is contributed to and compounded by the Masters Degree programs in this field, and now another danger is that mobility will be emphasized to the point of excluding other and, indeed, critical concerns. After all, while it is nice to be able to move about, people normally move about for some purpose other than the sheer joy which one may have in the moving. In general, travel is a means to an end, and so must it be with the blind. Let us not fall into the fallacy of believing we have solved the problems of the blind when we have provided each blind person with a certain number of hours of mobility training. We implore agencies for the blind and institutions of higher learning to take notice of our caution in this matter. We don't hope for a complete reversal of this trend between now and the publication of the next issue of the MONITOR. We do hope, however, that individuals in the field will be stimulated to give some thought to this problem, and not dogmatically persist in pursuing what we regard as error. Of course, we recognize that there may be in them what likely they will say of us, that "man's best friend is his dogma".

Back to Contents

BLIND MAN BUILDS RACING CARS

by Ed Broomhead

[Editor's Note: The following story appeared in the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Bulletin.]

Building race cars is a difficult task at best. Building racing engines while totally blind almost borders on the impossible. Blindness, however, has not stopped Norm Smizer. He sometimes spends morethan twelve hours a day rebuilding the intricate little motors for three-quarter midget racing cars in a garage underneath his home.

The fifty-eight year old mechanic is now in the process of building a slick little midget and says there is just not enough hours in the day for him to accomplish his work. "Sometimes the work is more than hard, but if I can't drive then the next best thing is working on cars." Smizer, who will be remembered by old time racing fans for his skillful driving at such tracks as the old Yellow Jacket Speedway, Pottstown, Nutley and Pitman, has been around cars practically all his life and has no regrets.

"This is my life and I just love it. The only trouble now is help is hard to find so I have to do most of the work myself and we're now in the midst of a crash program." Norm has Doug Craig, of Levittown, Pennsylvania, an industrial contractor, who drives three-quarter midgets as a hobby, helping out but many days he is alone. Craig has been driving Smizer-built cars for the past five years and says he always feels safe and he knows the perfect work that has gone into his mounts.

"Norm knows his business", Craig said after last week's race at Atlantic City where he finished third. "I wouldn't feel safe if Norman wasn't in the pits directing the crew. I don't know what it is but he knows the instant the motor turns over whether it is running properly or not." Norm has been blind for nearly two years. He developed a detached retina following a cataract operation ten years ago on the right eye and last May while at Indianapolis, where he holds a master mechanics license, developed a cold throughout his body. The medication he received after returning home was too strong (he was bordering on pneumonia) and it resulted in a detached retina on the other eye which caused total blindness.

One of Smizer's amazing accomplishments is that he makes the parts for his cars and does not purchase any. With Craig's help Norm tools his own in his workshop where he has six and twenty-four-inch lathes, milling machines, band saws, gear cutters and drill presses. He also has a vertical boring machine. He does all his fine measuring with a braille micrometer.

Most of the racing motors in the three-quarter midgets are powered by Crosley and Chevy II engines, he said, although he's now working on a Volks engine. He buys them second hand and then rebuilds them from top to bottom. The engines are rebored with rebored valves, special pistons which he purchases from the West Coast. He builds up the intake and makes it ready for speed racing. When he purchases the engines they have a bore of 2.50 with a stroke of 2.250 and an 8-1 compression ratio. When he installs them into the shell of the race car they have a 2.580 bore, 2.250 stroke and a 12-1 compression. They have bigger valves along with a magneto and a special camshaft. He said it takes about $1,000 to put a three-quarter midget engine into racing form and is worth about $4,600 when completely built, including tires, body and paint. The Crosley engine usually develops twenty-six horse power when first purchased from the manufacturer, but when Smizer's magic touch gets through, it develops more than eighty-five horses.

Norm started his racing career on motorcycles, racing from 1932 to 1935. "The regular midgets came in back in '35 and quickly put the cycles out of business." Norm asserted. "That's when I switched to midgets and sprints." Norm is proud of some of the drivers who have raced in his cars including such greats as Len Duncan, Charley Breslin, Mike Joseph and now Craig and a half dozen others. Smizer rates Craig as the best three-quarter midget driver in the sport.

He also is proud of Mickey Rupp's sixth place finish in the Indianapolis 500 in the Central Excavating Special entry four years ago. He was the car's chief mechanic. Last year, before going completely blind, he handled the wrenches on another Excavating Special entry, but Don Thomas, a West Coast driver, failed to make the field.

Norm cannot say enough about his accomplishments during the Atlantic City Convention Hall meet. "Six of the cars in the twenty-four car field last week had my motors in them," he said with a broad smile. "And I could tell every one of them by the sound they made while whirling around the track. They just can't get along without me at Atlantic city."

"Yes, I'm a good mechanic, but the greatest ambition is to just be able to get behind the wheel of one of these three-quarter midgets."

Back to Contents

LIFE IS A FEAST FOR THE BARON

by Joan McKinney

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

"I see the world quite clearly. You, for instance, I can see perfectly. It may be more beautiful than you really are, but I can see you." Now this is pretty heady stuff, coming from a gentleman of courtly manner, imposing stature and more than any one person's fair share of charm. In fact, after a few minutes' conversation with the Baron Roy Andries de Groot, one appreciates the reaction of Esquire magazine editors upon reading their food and wine writer's description of a visit to Lyons: "We had to keep reminding ourselves that the guy is blind."

Actually Baron de Groot, here on assignment from Esquire to do a survey of Bay Area restaurants and to cover the 200th anniversary of the California wine industry, has not one but three pairs of eyes. There are his own, which still radiate life though the right one was blinded by a bomb during the London blitz, and the left failed seven years ago. "The doctors said it might go any time," he said, "but it lasted twenty years. And do you know that the hardest thing was waiting for the other shoe to drop? Since I have been blind, my work has been better, and I am having a marvelous time roaming the world in search of gastronomic experiences." There are the gentle blue eyes of his wife of more than thirty years, who made her own name as Katherine Hynes on the London and New York stage and played San Francisco in "My Fair Lady" and "The Applecart". And there are the eyes of La Nusta "The Chosen Princess" in the language of the Incas, the Seeing Eye dog who accompanies de Groot almost everywhere.....

In an era when the word "cosmopolitan" is admittedly overworked, the ebullient Baron of Bleeker Street in New York's Greenwich Village truly merits the description. His father was Mauritz de Groot, a Dutch painter of note who traveled to London early in the century to study under Augustus John, there met a young Frenchwoman, Charlotte Schubert, married her and settled in Chelsea.

"I don't mind saying it—they didn't get along at all," said the couple's only off-spring. They parted when he was two, his father using the advent of World War I as a patriotic excuse for his return to Holland, where he remained thenceforth. As a result, the boy's childhood was divided between the Chelsea studio, his mother's other apartment in Paris and his father's house in the Dutch village of Blancum, where the artist Mondrian was one of his closest friends and neighbors.

"My mother", he recalled, "was a semi-social, snobby type who went from country to country visiting friends, and took me with her because she thought something like a trip to Hungary was far more important than school." This life engendered both a fluency in languages ("Though I'm not so strong on Dutch") and a burgeoning tast for good food and wine. At Oxford the young man studied the former and began a wine and food society to advance the latter interest.

His multi-faceted career began in the BBC, where he was "a rather famous announcer" and met his bride, a member of the radio repertory company headed by Sir John Gielgud. Following their marriage in 1935 he became a director for Pathe films, and at the outbreak of World War II joined the British ministry of Information.

"I had sent Katherine with our daughter Christina to New Hampshire, where our second daughter, Fiona, was born," he said, "and then, when I was doing a recording in the streets of London, I got altogether too close to a bomb." After nine months in a hospital, the Baron was flown to the United States to rejoin his wife, and underwent a series of operations at Massachusetts General Hospital that restored the sight in his left eye. And so he became an American resident, and worked for the balance of the war for the State Department as a radio propaganda specialist. Then came a three-year stint with the New York Times as special assistant to Nicholas Roosevelt ("The finest boss I ever had"), building the European edition, and finally "graduation" to freelance writing with an ever-increasing emphasis on gastronomy.

Tragedy struck the de Groot family when Christina died of a heart ailment at age twenty-six. "We had had such a marvelous life, the four of us, centered around the kitchen," said her father, "that I longed to write about it in a book." And so he did. "Feasts for All Seasons" was published by Alfred Knopf in 1966, issued in a special edition by the Doubleday Cookbook Guild and now has been bought by the Book of the Month Club. "what has been the thrilling thing has been the marvelous response of parents, who seem especially to enjoy the family aspect", said the Baron. Producing the book had been a traumatic time. Both Christina and his mother had died, and in 1962 his left eye finally "blew up".

But Roy de Groot is not lightly to be overcome. "I decided in the hospital that there could be no better career for a blind man than as a taster of food and wine," he said. "And since then, I have never looked back."

Back to Contents

AFFILIATE NUMBER 10

by Laura Workman

On May 17, 1969, at 2:00 P.M. in the Matney Hall, 112 Park Avenue, Princeton, the "Four-County Federation of the Blind, Affiliate 10", the tenth affiliate of the W.V.F.B. was born with twelve active members, eight legally blind and four sighted. State President, Robert L. Hunt, and wife, Ruth, became associate members.

President Hunt spoke to the membership concerning the many facets of the W.V.F.B. expressing his gratitude toward both myself and the evident interest of the members present.

I presided unofficially over the meeting. A constitution was adopted by the members. Officers were elected as follows: Harry Colliers of Bluefield, President; Lucile Hitt of Bluefield, Vice-President; Ida Eller of Princeton, Secretary; William D. Lambert of Princeton, Treasurer; and James O. Martin of Bluefield, Chaplain. Harry Colliers was selected to serve on the State Board of Directors, and Lucile Hitt was chosen to represent the affiliate as delegate to the State Convention.

Other members attending the meeting were Ora Rumburg of Princeton, Howard Vanweb of McDowel, Anita Albert and Jean Albert of Princeton, Byrthol Gay of Princeton, Jac Hatcher of Princeton, and yours truly.

The membership decided to continue meeting on the third Saturday afternoon of each month.

For several days I searched my mind for a name for our new affiliate, repeating numerous times the names of other affiliates. Then I happened to read an article in the Braille Monitor written by the National President, Kenneth Jernigan, urging that all branches of the N.F.B. give their organizations like names. The "Four-County" means simply that our membership is from four counties: Mercer, McDowel, Monroe, and Summers. "Federation of the Blind" is in conformity with the "West Virginia Federation of the Blind, Inc." The entire membership agreed upon this name.

We have high hopes for our new affiliate. With hard work we will succeed.

Back to Contents

MONITOR MINIATURES

Colorado rides again—this time into the thriving college town of Ft. Collins to form another new affiliate, the third in the last six months. On July 18 an enthusiastic group met to adopt by-laws and elect Larry Mendoza President. Larry Mendoza is something of a celebrity in Ft. Collins. His wit in conducting his own radio program has so charmed listeners that many don't know he's blind. But they soon will know, for he now plans to use his program to broadcast the Federation as far as air waves will reach. In his spare time Larry will start teaching this fall, instructing in Spanish and English. And that's not all for Colorado. The Ft. Collins Chapter came into being the same day the Denver Area Association of the Blind realized its long-established dream of purchasing a building of its own to serve as a center of activities for all the blind of Colorado. Originally ereceted as a church, this building has two large auditoriums as well as numerous smaller rooms that will house both the Denver Area and the Colorado Federation of the Blind. The center is located at 901 E. 17th Avenue, Denver.

* * * * * *

A Boston physician reports that contact lenses are now being glued to the eyeballs of patients with corneal disease. At medical centers in Boston patients who cannot tolerate ordinary contact lenses or cannot benefit from spectacles have had the lenses glued to their eyes.

* * * * * *

The Omaha Home for the Blind recently opened. The Home has 143 units or apartments which are now nearly all occupied. Meals are served in the dining room or residents may cook in their own apartments as they wish.

* * * * * *

A special phone for the deaf-blind is being developed by Bell Laboratories and Western Electric. The special set, connected to a conventional telephone, will allow the deaf-blind to "feel" phone messages in vibrations of a finger pad, and the deaf to "see" messages in coded flashes of light.

* * * * * *

Three high school students in Seattle wanted to help the blind "see" the University of Washington's native plant walk booklet. They spent hours making 100 Braille copies of the booklet. The three students are all blind.

* * * * * *

Bill Dwyer of the Empire State Association of the Blind reports that the Appellate Division of the New York State courts recently set aside a jury's award of $10,000 to a woman who fell over a leash of a seeing-eye dog in a bank building. The appellate court held that it was not reasonably forseeable that a normally sighted patron would fall over the leash of a seeing eye dog quietly standing at the owner's side and that the bank could not be held responsible for negligence in permitting a blind woman with a guide dog to enter its premises.

* * * * * *

Miss Rita Drill, Editor of the Pennsylvania Federation's "We The Blind" requests that all affiliates who have publications put her on their mailing list, preferably for the Braille version. She will be glad to reciprocate. Send to Miss Rita Drill, 4738 N. 12th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19141.

* * * * * *

Harold Snider of Washington, D. C. is believed to be the first blind graduate of the School of Foreign Service. Harold is proficient in four foreign languages and has traveled in Africa and Latin America. He founded and was the first President of Hillel, the Jewish student organization, at Georgetown University in the Nation's Capital. Harold wanted to enter the diplomatic corps but found out in his sophomore year that the Foreign Service says no to blind persons as career officers. Instead he left recently for London where he will study for a Ph.D. degree in Imperial Commonwealth history at King's College, the University of London. His goal now is to become a college professor.

* * * * * *

A new class of institution, called intermediate care facility, is now eligible to receive Federal contributions for the care of public assistance recipients. Before passage of the 1967 Amendments to the Social Security Act, vendor payments could be made with Federal sharing only in behalf of persons in medical facilities such as skilled nursing homes. There was no Federal vendor payment matching for persons who needed institutional care between that provided in a boarding house and the comprehensive services of skilled nursing homes. To be eligible for residence in intermediate care facilities, persons must be entitled to receive public assistance, must require living arrangements and care available only in an institution, and must not have an illness or other condition that requires care and treatment available only in a skilled nursing home or hospital.

* * * * * *

That Social Security benefits do not begin to cover retirement living costs is shown by a recent report of the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on a study of actual expenditures of retired couples in the fall of 1968. Using Cedar Rapids, Iowa as an example, the report shows that that area needed $4,100 a year to provide a moderate standard of living (Living costs in most large cities on either coast are higher than in Cedar Rapids.) Of the $4,100 retirement budget, 94 percent went for goods and services, 6 percent for gifts to the family, church or other charities. Food costs $1,033; housing, the largest expense, costs $1,384; transportation took $370; clothing took $234; $141 was spent for personal care; and medical care cost $281 which included the amount spent for Medicare. Other expenditures were $113 for recreation, $46 for reading materials, $71 for tobacco, and $54 for alcoholic beverages. Contrasted with this, the maximum monthly Social Security benefit a man who reaches 65 in 1969 can expect to receive is $160.25. If his wife should also attain 65 this year she could receive $80.30, which would provide them with a monthly benefit of $240.80, or nearly $2,880 a year. This amount is $1,220 short of meeting the $4,100 budget, which is only a "moderate" budget based on actual expenses, not on the needs and wants based on health, income and personal preferences.

* * * * * *

The Ohio Council of the Blind Bulletin reports the formation of a Student Division of the OCB. The young people elected temporary officers and appointed a Constitution Committee. Lorretta Loshuk of Struthers is President.

* * * * * *

A letter from Rashid Ahmed, Librarian of the Pak Institute for the Blind, 64-Jinnah Colony, Lyallpur, West Pakistan, states that the Library is newly established and is short of books and other facilities. They require all types of Braille books, two talking book machines, and six Perkins' Braillers. Gifts of these articles will be thankfully accepted.

* * * * * *

In Illinois there is a Mandatory Education Act which requires that special educational facilities be established in the public schools for all handicapped children. However, out of Chicago's 100,000 handicapped youngsters, less than one-third will be served this fall, according to the Chicago Board of Education estimates.

* * * * * *

What problems do blind persons face when they decide to attend college? What kind of facilities does a college provide for handicapped students? And how does a blind student fit into the college picture? These are some of the questions being asked of colleges in California by the state college chancellor in response to a State Senate resolution recommending provisions for early registration of blind students at the State's colleges and universities. One blind college student has supplied his own answers. One problem that he does encounter is getting accepted as a person, not as a stereotype—that a blind student should be regarded as a handicapped person, not as a totally disabled individual, and this will help blind students to see themselves as human beings. This same young man may have summed up the desires of blind students when he says students feel they would rather not have special facilities but rather be treated as ordinary individuals.

* * * * * *

The Food Stamp Program is now using the new tables of issuance, benefiting those in the lowest income brackets. For example, a one-person family having an income of less than $20 a month formerly received food stamps worth $13.50 for 50 cents. Under the new tables this person will receive food stamps worth $17.50 for the same 50 cents.

* * * * * *

A number of bills have been introduced in the 91st Congress to liberalize various provisions of the Social Security Act including Medicare. There are a number which would provide Medicare coverage to persons entitled to receive disability insurance benefits, irrespective of their age. Other measures would make it possible for prescription drugs to be covered under the supplementary insurance plan. Senator Birch Bayh and 21 other Senators are sponsoring a bill which would make it possible for individuals to be admitted to extended care facilities under the Medicare program on the basis of outpatient hospital diagnostic findings, without the prerequisite of three days of hospitalization presently in the law. Bills providing for new approaches to improve income maintenance and income supplementation programs have been introduced in both the House and Senate. H.R. 1010 by Philip Burton of California provides for a minimum income for aged, blind, and disabled persons determined by the difference between their net income from all sources and the minimum wage, to be administered by the Social Security Administration. Another approach is provided for in H.R. 6612 by Hugh Carey of New York and 25 additional congressmen. This bill authorizes the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to establish minimum standards for aid and assistance, taking into account special needs of the various categories of assistance recipients as well as variations of costs in different geographical areas. The difference between present formula grants per recipient and the minimum need established by the Secretary would be granted to the states to cover the additional cost of this program. Yet another measure, by Senator Bayh of Indiana and Senator Lee Metcalf of Montana calls for a less strict definition of disability under the Social Security Act. The bill would make a person eligible for Social Security disability benefits if he cannot find a job because of chronic poor health or injury. The existing definition makes a disabled person ineligible for benefits if he could perform any job "which exists anywhere in the national economy."

* * * * * *

Thirty youngsters at the California School for the Blind have set out to swim 50 miles. The swimming will be done during their spare time and at their own pace, the incentive being to earn a "Fifty Mile Swim" certificate from the Red Cross under its "Swim to Stay Fit" program.

* * * * * *

A resolution given final approval by the New York Legislature urges Congress to set uniform minimum standards for welfare payments throughout the country; that aid to the aged, blind and disabled be completely funded and administered by the Social Security Administration of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare; and that a nationwide public assistance program be inaugurated, to be based solely upon need, replacing the present categories of assistance.

* * * * * *

In and around the Convention—at the recent NFB National Convention in Columbia, South Carolina, Indiana again claimed the youngest Federationist. It was the third NFB Convention for five-year old George Hockinstead. The Hawaiians put on the most intensive campaign ever to attract the Convention to their State in 1972. Frequently people were lined up down the hall past several neighboring rooms. In fact, at one point Warren Toyama himself couldn't get into his own room where he was hosting the Hawaiian reception.

* * * * * *

David Swerdlow writes of Hollis Moffitt: "Let those who remember, mourn. Let those who mourn, always remember." Somewhere in my reading over the years, I came across those lines. I cannot recall who wrote them but there is an undeniable truth in them. It concerns an experience all too familiar to all of us—the loss of a close friend. You want to mourn. As for Hollis Moffitt, I am sure, he would not want to be mourned so much as to be remembered in an age in which it is all too easy to forget.

Here I will try to say a few things about the man I knew and yet didn't quite know. Who can penetrate into the inner core of a man? We are often caught up in our own activities; we frequently march to the tune of different drums. There is so little time. Only when a friend is gone do we suddenly realize that there should have been more time to understand what makes a man dream and yearn and work and hope.

One of the dreams that Hollis had, along with many others, to be sure, was that he fervently wanted to improve the conditions among the blind. He thought of all the blind—those who are young and are seeking jobs, independence and a place in the sun; the older blind, whose problems are somewhat different, but nevertheless real and urgent; and the minority within a minority, the Negro and Puerto Rican blind.

Hollis knew that one individual blind person could not possibly be as strong as many fully organized in a group of their own. His work during the past few years in building up the New York Chapter, "Empire State Association of the Blind", was remarkable. As its Secretary, at first, and then its President, he worked tirelessly to keep the group going in a sound and efficient manner. He chaired most of its regular monthly meetings; drew up numerous questionnaires and surveys analyzing services for the blind. He was the editor of THE EYE CATCHER, its publication and in general was exceedingly active in Federation activities. Almost up to the last minute, he was working, planning.

Most of us who knew him remember that he was a quiet, studious reserved man. In a time of dissonant noises, harangues, acrimonious debates, he had one rare quality. He actually listened to your point of view-even when he didn't quite agree. He conceded that there might be something he could learn from you just as you could learn from him. Once he said to me: "People like to talk, don't they? To argue. They always seem impelled to hammer their own ideas across, regardless. But they don't listen. That's too bad."

Courage he had in abundance. If there is any one message he could leave to his wife Marcia and his two daughters, Dawn and Dianne, it would be that one must go on with life, steadfastly and courageously. As for those whose number has come up in this lottery we call life, let those who mourn, remember the kind of man he was and what he stood for.

The book is never quite closed on the memory of a man like Hollis Moffitt.

* * * * * *

A release by the Stanford University (Palo Alto, California) News Service says that a "reading machine for the blind is being developed by Prof. John G. Linvill, head of Stanford University's Electrical Engineering Department, with the help of his blind 12-year-old daughter, Candace, and engineers at Stanford Research Institute in work supported by the Office of Naval Research. "Candy" demonstrates her reading speed of about 25 words per minute with her left hand resting on a "keyboard" of 196 reed tips which produce a vibrating outline of the moving letters shown on the enlarged screen at right. The screen enables the engineers to check her accuracy. This experimental keyboard is computer-controlled for studies of design and other aspects of the device. The finished machine envisioned by Prof. Linvill would be a pocket-sized, photocell-controlled, battery-powered device that a blind person could carry with him for direct reading of printed material."

* * * * * *

Dr. Isabelle L. D. Grant wrote the following tribute to Arthur L. Strom:

Federationists rise to all occasions, and are at their best when confronted with an emergency. Such was the situation in North Dakota on the conflict of dates between the funeral rites of a revered member of the Federated Blind of North Dakota, and the opening session of the 1969 convention of the North Dakota affiliate.

Art, as he was known to his many friends and fellow Federationists, had been an ardent worker in the organized blind movement for over thirty years of his lifetime of seventy-four. Many of us have seen him in action at national conventions. Art brought to his efforts, his happy temperament, his love of music, his ease in making and keeping friends, and a genuine respect for his fellow man. He served, and served well.

The funeral rites were most impressive, for they emphasized Art's contribution to the organized movement in North Dakota. Among the some two hundred participants in the services were the members of the Federated Blind, who came to attend the convention. The opening of the convention was postponed until the afternoon, to allow maximum attendance at the funeral. President Lorge Gotto made suitable announcement in the local press, and himself headed up the membership in attendance. Dr. Rudolph J. Bjomseth, another staunch Federationist was one of the pall bearers. Dr. Isabelle L. D. grant, represented the National Federation.

As part of the afternoon proceedings of the convention, a simple but moving memorial tribute was prepared and conducted by Mrs. Grace Bonner, with appropriate recognition made to the widow of Art Strom, Ella Strom, also a devoted worker for the organization.

* * * * * *

The following appeared in the Guymon (Oklahoma) Herald: It has often been repeated "A man's best friend is a dog." One Guymon family is rewording that phrase into "A girl's best friend could be a dog." For it has been one week since Roxanne Fields, a junior at Guymon High School and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Fields, welcomed a hearing-ear dog into their home. The dog was first learned about through another news media article and seemed Uke an answer to prayer. The story could be Roxanne's story and is published here in the hope it might bring help to another.

"It was two and a half years ago, a young girl in Denver, Colorado, chose for a pet a pure-bred female German shepherd whom she named Skippy. Thus began a girl-and-her-dog friendship that may affect many lives. The girl is deaf. She wears two hearing aids during waking hours, and is a self-reliant, successful high school senior. But after bedtime when her hearing aids are removed she can't be left alone without special precautions against dangers signaled by sounds; the step of an intruder, the fire alarm. For a teenager, too old for a sitter and needing to feel independent, the problem is acute. Skippy solved the problem for the girl. At four months, she was already aware of the girl's handicap and took the initiative in pawing at her when the telephone or doorbell rang. Moved by the dog's sensitivity, the parents enrolled Skippy with Mrs. Sally Terroux of Denver, who adapted standard reliability training to give the dog special "hearing-ear" skills. She was trained for eight weeks and later earned the American Kennel Club Companion Dog Degree. Now the Internal Revenue Service, in a precedent-setting action, has granted these people income tax deductions for Skippy similar to those for a "Seeing-Eye" dog. This may pave the way for public acceptance of hearing ear dogs."

It was this article that prompted the Fields family to investigate further and finally come home with a German shepherd four month old puppy who has been trained by Mrs. Terroux. In the few nights since they have had the dog a remarkable change has taken place in their daughter, Roxanne, a "successful high school junior" who here-to-fore has felt insecure and frightened. The local family has had the dog one week and it has been named Sandy. Though the papers have not yet arrived on the dog it is from the same blood line as the dog in the story and will receive further training in twelve months.

Back to Contents