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.
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in inkprint, Braille, and on talking book discs Distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind President; Kenneth Jernigan, 524 Fourth Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309
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.
Printed at 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708
Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
CONGRESS CONFRONTS LIGHTHOUSE
by Donald L. Roberts
T.A. BENHAM--KENNETH JERNIGAN CORRESPONDENCE
MISSILE BASE HIRES THE BLIND
THE BLIND TEACHER, DISCRIMINATION AND THE LAW
by Dr. Max Rafferty
NEW MEXICO CONVENTION
by Sharon Bailey
NO USELESS ACT FOR HIM
MEET OUR STATE PRESIDENT--WILLIAM DWYER
AND OUR STATE AFFILIATE--NEW YORK
FARMER LOOKS PAST DISABILITY TO SUCCESS
NFB OVERSEAS BOOK PROGRAM
by Creig Slayton
THE RIGHT OF THE BLIND TO WORK
by Dr. Horst Geissler
BLIND SHOP WORKERS IN MARYLAND PROTEST
by Joshua Watson
by Judy Wilkinson
AN EDITORIAL FROM THE GEM STATE
by Frank H. Smith
COACH REPAYS FAITH
by Harvey Patton
by Dr. Isabelle L.D. Grant
THE BLIND LEADING THE SIGHTED
by Clark Redfield
by Dr. Jacob Freid
FROM ANNOUNCEMENT TO ACCOMPLISHMENT
by Samuel K. Wolff
BLIND GROUPS WILL FIGHT MV VENDING MACHINE PLAN
by Sam Earle
THE CONCEPT OF REHABILITATION--THE BLIND
by Captain H.J.M. Desai
Due to time limitations, September will be the Convention issue.
Back to Contents
by Donald L. Roberts
Illinois is where the action is--or, so say members of the Illinois Congress of the Blind. Recently the ICB became embroiled in a philosophical controversy with one of the best known charities in Chicago, namely the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind.
It all started innocently enough. In November of 1969 the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind in conjunction with National Industries for the Blind was holding a sale in the auditorium of St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago. Such items as dolls, door mats, and Rigs, etc. were being sold at inflated prices, the proceeds of which purportedly benefited the blind. I was approached by one of my co-workers who requested a few more specifics as to how this type of operation benefited the blind. I told her that the majority of persons who work in sheltered workshops make far less than the national minimum wage and that only a quite small percentage of the proceeds wind up in the pockets of the blind wage earners. As luck would have it, my co-worker was quite well acquainted with a news reporter from the National Broadcasting Company. My friend stated that she felt that this information might be of interest to her reporter friend and said that she would discuss the matter with him. A few days later, I was contacted by telephone by Mr. Russ Ewing of NBC who requested more information on this matter. He then went to his superiors from whom he obtained an authorization of funds to be used in the investigation of the operations of the sheltered workshop facility of the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. Soon thereafter, several investigators went to the Chicago Lighthouse to examine the operations of the facility. After the preliminary investigations, camera crews were sent out to film an interview with Mr. William O. McGill, Executive Director of the Chicago Lighthouse. Mr. McGill initially declined to go on camera; however, he reluctantly consented when told that material would be televised regarding the Lighthouse and that NBC wanted him to present the facts from the point of view of the Chicago Lighthouse. The camera crews also walked through the Lighthouse shop taking pictures of workers going about their daily routine. These pictures were subsequently shown during the program while various interviews were in progress.
The investigation culminated in a thirty-minute program which was televised on Sunday, February 1, 1970. This program exposed intolerable wages, shocking conditions, and a wholly outdated philosophy of blindness as well as a 19th-century attitude toward the handicapped in general and the blind in particular. In addition to the discussion with Mr. McGill, the program also featured interviews with Don Roberts and Bill Myers, first and second Vice-Presidents respectively of the Illinois Congress of the Blind, Illinois affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind. Also interviewed was Mr. Donald Barrett, a blind medical transcriptionist and member of the Illinois Congress of the Blind. The three blind persons interviewed recognized that some of the Lighthouse's programs and projects are technically of exceptionally high quality; however, this should present no excuse whatsoever for the insufferable conditions in the workshop and the deficient philosophy underlying the operations of the Lighthouse. Mr. McGill rationalized the extremely low wages paid to the majority of the workshop employees by stating that the majority of these workshop employees are paid according to piece rates. These piece rates are based on the amount of work which a physically able-bodied worker can produce in an hour's time. Thus, if a blind person can produce only fifty percent of the piece rate, he is paid only fifty percent of the hourly wage for that job. Mr. McGill emphasized the contention that many of the workshop employees are multiply handicapped and therefore unable to obtain work in competitive industry. A small but significant portion of the program was devoted to an interview with Mr. Robert Bader who holds an administrative position with the Western Electric Company from whom the Chicago Lighthouse has a subcontract to make parts for Bell Telephones. Mr. Bader said that the work done by the blind workers was of high quality and met all of the Western Electric specifications. And yet when told on camera for the first time that some Lighthouse shop workers were being paid at the rate of 40 cents per hour, he stated that one must consider the total program of the Lighthouse rather than the amount of money earned by the shop employees. The thrust of the discussion was that work to the blind was more of a therapeutic nature than a means of earning a living.
The response to the NBC program was immediate. The NBC switchboard was deluged with hundreds of calls expressing indignation over the pitifully poor wages and deceptive practices of the Chicago Lighthouse. Many letters were also received by NBC regarding the program, the majority of which were highly critical of the Chicago Lighthouse.
On Wednesday, February 4, the Lighthouse held a press conference in which it denied the charges made by NBC and itself charged the network with presenting a distorted picture of the Lighthouse--this despite the fact that the program was never billed as a total picture of the Lighthouse but in fact focused on the sheltered shop work facility. This press conference was attended by three officers of the Illinois Congress of the Blind. Following the reading of the prepared statement, reporters' questions were fielded by Mr. McGill and by Mr. Donald H. Palmer, President of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. Mr. Palmer and Mr. McGill seemed to feel that because of some worthwhile programs being carried out by the Lighthouse and because of the many years for which the Lighthouse has been in existence that the Lighthouse was therefore immune from criticism. When asked if he would agree to discuss the policies of the Chicago Lighthouse with elected representatives of the blind community, and more specifically a representative from the Illinois Congress of the Blind, Mr. McGill stated that the leaders of the ICB were not mature and had not established themselves in the community. During the press conference, Mr. McGill alleged that the shop had lost some $16,000 last year and that it was therefore fiscally impossible for the Lighthouse to pay its workers the national minimum wage Furthermore, he inferred that the regulations governing payment of handicapped workers would preclude payment of the national minimum wage. Throughout the press conference, it was quite apparent that the Chicago Lighthouse did not feel that the average blind person's work was worth a day's pay.
On that same evening, the ICB Board of Directors decided that in view of some of the assertions made and some of the attitudes expressed by the Lighthouse at their press conference, further action was imperative. Therefore, on the afternoon of Friday, February 6, some forty members of the Illinois Congress of the Blind held a demonstration outside of the Lighthouse and delivered to Mr. McGill a list of three demands:
a. That the Lighthouse cease suppressing any attempt at unionization in the workshop as has been done for many years past.
b. That the Lighthouse authorities begin raising all wage levels in the workshop to equal the federally guaranteed national minimum wage for the able-bodied. And,
c. That the Lighthouse Board of Directors currently comprised solely of seeing persons immediately elect to its membership at least three blind persons not employed in any way by the Lighthouse from among the elected leaders of organizations of blind persons in Illinois which have no agency ties.
Mr. McGill emerged from the Lighthouse and promised the demonstrators that the demands would be discussed by the Lighthouse Board of Directors at its meeting of Tuesday, February 10, and that a reply would be given in writing. When no reply had been received by Tuesday, February 17, Rami Rabby, President of the Illinois Congress of the Blind, contacted Mr. McGill by telephone only to learn that the demands had not even been placed on the agenda. "Our first priority," said Mr. McGill, "is to deal with NBC."
On Monday, February 23, it became apparent that the Lighthouse had hired a firm of private detectives who began descending upon the homes of various blind persons in Chicago and pestering them with telephone calls and questions in an attempt admitted by these detectives to elicit from these blind persons statements to the effect that NBC television had goaded the Illinois Congress of the Blind into embarking upon this campaign to hold the demonstration.
Also on Monday, February 23, Mr. Fred Bixby and Mr. Donald Vogel, both of whom are board members of the Illinois Congress of the Blind, participated in a local radio talk program hosted by Mr. Stan Dale during which the issues surrounding the Lighthouse controversy were discussed. Listeners were invited to participate by telephoning in questions and comments regarding the controversy. This was indeed a golden opportunity for the ICB to present its case and also to discuss blindness in very practical terms rather than on the emotional level at which it is discussed on many such programs.
With each passing day, it became increasingly more apparent that the Chicago Lighthouse would prefer to let the issue die. Therefore, at a board meeting held on Sunday, March 7, it was decided that further action ought to be taken. The ICB therefore held a press conference on Wednesday, April 10, in the Ascott Hotel. At this press conference, the ICB called for the resignation of Mr. William O. McGill, Executive Director of the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind because of his archaic philosophy about blindness and about blind people, and, because of his insensitivity to the desires of the Lighthouse's constituents.
On Friday, March 10, we again had an opportunity to discuss this matter in the media as three representatives of the Illinois Congress of the Blind were invited to discuss the matter on the Night Line program hosted by Mr. Dave Baum. This segment of the program was scheduled to last for only an hour: however, the discussion generated such intense interest that the ICB representatives were invited to return on Sunday, to continue the discussion. It should be mentioned that Mr. William McGill had been invited to appear on this same program to present his point of view; however, he declined. He chose instead to appear on the Night Line Program three days later, at which time he had with him Mr. Donald H. Palmer, President of the Lighthouse Board of Directors. In answering the charges made by the Illinois Congress of the Blind, Mr. McGill stressed the fact that the rehabilitation of blind persons was primarily a problem of achieving proper psychological adjustment on the part of the blind client. He further stated that the wages paid to the workshop employees were of secondary importance.
At the time of this writing, the Illinois Congress of the Blind has recently received correspondence from Mr. William McGill proposing a meeting of representatives of the Illinois Congress of the Blind and of the Chicago Lighthouse to discuss matters of mutual concern and more specifically "the demands." The ICB is determined to make every effort to attain for the Lighthouse workshop employees a decent standard of living and good working conditions. It is our sincere hope that the proposed meeting will achieve these goals. However, we reserve the right to criticize where criticism is warranted; and we further assert our determination to discuss these matters in the media and to utilize whatever means are necessary in attaining these just goals.
Back to Contents
June 3, 1970
Mr. T. A. Benham, President
221 Rock Hill Road
Bala-Cynwyd, Pennsylvania 19004
I have your letter commenting upon that portion of the Hawaii Survey which deals with Taben equipment, and I think the points you make should be presented to the audience that received the survey. In fact, unless you object to my doing so, I shall ask the Monitor Editor to print the full text of your letter and my answer in our August issue. Since that particular issue will contain an account of this year's convention, it will receive wide distribution and will be thoroughly read.
When a team is appointed to study programs for the blind in a state, the members of that team must have the freedom to call the shots as they see them. This will mean that some people will be happy and some will be unhappy with all or part of the report. I did not participate in writing the report, but I did appoint the team, and I know that they are people of competence and integrity. They reported the situation as they saw it.
This does not mean that their judgment is infallible on every technical point, especially such matters as what brands of recording equipment hold up well under stress. Under the circumstances, I think that the fair thing to do is to present in full your remarks on the subject.
Let me conclude by saying one more thing. I have a great deal of respect for you and the work you have done to better the condition of the blind. I know that you are dedicated and that you are competent. Whatever you would say concerning technical or scientific matter, I would give considerable weight. The fact that someone else might have a different view on a particular item is neither a reflection upon you nor the person involved.
I want to thank you for calling this matter to my attention. I hope that you will feel that the action I propose to take will set the situation in proper perspective.
Kenneth Jernigan, President
May 28, 1970
Mr. Kenneth Jernigan
524 Fourth Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
I was very much disturbed to read in The Braille Monitor for May, 1970 the following comment on page 61: "A TABEN tape duplicator (with a reputation for breaking down continuously)." this statement appears on page 61 of the report on Hawaii.
TABEN equipment has over the years been subject to such off-the-cuff statements and my reputation and business have suffered because of it. I would like to point out the following and suggest that you might print it in order to counteract somewhat the rash statement which appeared in the Monitor.
The duplicator which the state of Hawaii purchased from TABEN Recordings cost less than $500. This price should be compared with Ampex (which is the equipment with which my duplicators are often compared). After all, if performance is to be compared, price should be compared also.
I gather from the report that the duplicator has been left mainly in the hands of volunteers. No specialized piece of equipment (unless it is absolutely fool proof, and therefore expensive) will survive very well with a number of inexperienced people handling it. We have used TABEN duplicating equipment at Science for the Blind for years and have found for the SFB budget that it is entirely satisfactory. We could invest several times as much money in Ampex equipment and have fewer problems, but we, like many others, happen not to have several times as much money.
We have had reports of other TABEN equipment in the field being used in library situations which has held up exceedingly well and given good performance. I must admit that in these instances the personnel using the machine has been reasonably consistent and fairly knowledgable in tape and tape equipment handling.
I have tried to design and produce inexpensive equipment for use by organizations with limited budgets. This equipment is sold at a low mark up which would not even cover normal overhead (overhead is kept minimal by sharing space and personnel with other organizations or by using part time help). I can appreciate the fact that some libararies are without adequate personnel for doing their tape work. I regret, however, that such places find it necessary to blame TABEN equipment for their failure rather than place the blame where it belongs.
I might point out also that other equipment in the tape duplicating field will also give problems if it is not maintained adequately.
Just an example to indicate the problems which TABEN Recordings has: we sold one of our more expensive machines ($2300) to a local duplicating facility. We have been called in on several occasions because of complaints that the equipment was not working properly. We were confronted each time by the machine absolutely encrusted in dirt; when the dirt had been cleaned off, the machine worked perfectly. We tried on each occasion to instruct the personnel operating the machine in proper cleaning maintenance including the cleaning of heads, pinch wheels, capstans, etc. Unfortunately, the lessons did not help.
I wonder if Hawaii can state categorically that it is the TABEN duplicator which is at fault and not their personnel. If so, I would suggest that they return it to us for proper maintenance. We have heard no complaints from Hawaii and we feel that it is unjust for their complaints to be aired in print when we have not been notified. I feel that TABEN Recordings deserves an apology from either the state of Hawaii or the writer of the report--or both.
Very truly yours,
T.A. Benham, President
P.S. Hawaii's duplicator is now six years old and we have not heard from them since 1965.
Back to Contents
[Reprinted from The Missile, PMR Headquarters, Point Mugu, California.]
Rear Admiral H.S. Moore, Commander, Pacific Missile Range, was commended at a ceremony at Point Mugu last week for the efforts of the command in providing employment opportunities for the blind.
According to Anthony G. Mannino, president of the California Council of the Blind, this was the first official recognition of a military organization in California for its assistance to the blind.
Mr. Mannino presented the merit award to Rear Adm. Moore in a ceremony at PMR Headquarters last Thursday. In addition, the Admiral received a letter from California Governor Ronald Reagan congratulating PMR for its work in the training and employment of the blind.
The merit award from Mannino stated: "Merit award to Commander Pacific Missile Range in recognition and appreciation of the important services by the headquarters in the training and employment of blind persons, thus implementing our philosophy of equality, opportunity and security for persons without sight."
Governor Reagan's letter to Rear Adm. Moore said: "I am pleased to extend my congratulations to the officers and staff of the Pacific Missile Range for the award you are receiving for your work in the training and employment of the blind. This program is a shining example of what can be accomplished by men and women with purpose and determination.
"All the citizens of this great state have some talent and ability to contribute for the betterment of our society. They must, however, be given the opportunity to develop that ability and put it to use. The placement of blind persons in jobs at this base not only provides a needed service, but also gives these handicapped people an opportunity to be self-sufficient. My best wishes to you of the Pacific Missile Range and to the California Council of the Blind, Inc., for their recognition of your fine efforts."
The governor's letter was delivered to Rear Adm. Moore by Ralph Bennett, Ventura County supervisor.
A proclamation from the City of Oxnard for the efforts put forth by the Civilian Personnel office in the hiring and training of the blind was presented to the Admiral by R.H. Roussey, Mayor Pro-Tem of Oxnard.
Robert Hogan, civilian personnel officer, was also honored. He received a scroll from the Ventura County Chapter of the California Council of the Blind.
PMR naval commands presently have five totally blind and two partially blind civilian employees. Most of them have worked here for over ten years, since the start of the program to gainfully employ handicapped peopled based on their ability to do the job. Positions held by the blind are electrician (telephone), bicycle repairman, carpenter, machine operator, checker, upholsterer, and mess attendant.
Others in attendance included blind and sighted members of the Council of the Blind: Roussey, and Don Livingston, Camarillo Chamber of Commerce; Thomas Laubacher, County Supervisor; and Leslie Maland, representing the city of Santa Paula.
Rear Adm. Moore expressed his appreciation for receiving the honor, stating that the award would be prominently displayed at the headquarters.
Back to Contents
by Dr. Max Rafferty
California Superintendent of Public Instruction
It is always fascinating to be given a topic to discuss before a professional group such as this Tenth Annual Conference of Blind Teachers. Although my topic this afternoon, "The Blind Teacher, Discrimination and the Law" is encased in the somewhat comforting theme of the conference (A Decade of Success), it does prod one to ask certain questions: How many blind teachers are there employed in the public schools of California? Where are they employed? What do they teach? What does the law say about hiring teachers who are visually impaired? Does discrimination in hiring the visually handicapped occur? If so, what are the factors of this discrimination? What can be done? Who is involved? And, there are more questions.
A review of available data and materials within the Department of Education has produced some answers to these questions. As we pause to reflect on the success of the past decade, it would be wise to review the facts.
1. There are about one hundred blind teachers reported as employed in the public schools of California.
NUMBER OF BLIND TEACHERS
IDENTIFIED AS EMPLOYED IN THE
PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF CALIFORNIA, 1960-1970
1969-70 100+ (estimated)
2. During the 1968-69 school year, there were eighty-five (85) blind teachers employed in California's public schools. These teachers were teaching in elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools and at higher levels.
DISTRIBUTION OF BLIND TEACHERS
BY EDUCATIONAL LEVELS IN
CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
FOR THE 1968-69 SCHOOL YEAR
Level NumberElementary 29
3. Of the total number of visually handicapped teachers reported in the school year 1968-69, forty-one were identified as totally blind. This is progress! This is real success!
4. Subjects taught to children in the public schools of this State by teachers who were totally blind or partially seeing ranged impressively from music, coaching, foreign language, mathematics, history, government, psychology, sociology, to political science, English, geography, and English as a second language. And those at the elementary level, we understand, taught everything!
Substance! This is a long, long way from arts and crafts for the blind!
5. Where are blind teachers employed in the State? The 1968-69 roster is interesting. A fully illustrated demographic breakdown isn't necessary; however, there were at least two blind teachers employed in each of fourteen counties of the State of California. Five counties had as many as five blind teachers employed during the previous school year.
6. And, the blind do not just teach the blind in California. It is particularly important to note that during the 1968-69 school year 54 blind teachers (63.5 percent of the total group) taught classes of normally sighted pupils.
7. Let me add, for the record, that I am pleased to have blind teachers, administrators, and consultants employed as professional staff of the Department of Education. Why did I employ them? Because they were the best qualified professional persons we could hire for the positions!
This highlights the employment picture of blind teachers in California. What about the law?
A study of blind teachers conducted by the Senate resulted in SB 989 which was passed and became law in 1965:
Section 13125. No person otherwise qualified shall be denied the right to receive credentials from the State Board of Education, to receive training for the purpose of becoming a teacher, or to engage in practice teaching in any school, on the grounds he is totally or partially blind; nor shall any school district refuse to engage a teacher on such grounds, provided that such blind teacher is able to carry out the duties of the position for which he applies in the school district.
The governing board of a school district may request the commission established pursuant to Section 363 for advice and assistance for purposes of this section, and it shall be the duty of the commission, upon such request, to render advice and assistance.
Health standards required of applicants for credentials authorizing public school service in California specifically state that "total or partial blindness is not a disability defect." There are provisions for appeal should a person be denied a credential on the basis of health standards. These provisions are set forth in the Administrative Code, Title 5.
The only instances when the physical or health characteristics of the teacher should be considered are: (1) when such impairs his ability to help children learn and (2) when some health condition would be inimical to the welfare of the children and others.
Prior to the enactment of SB 989, the Code was silent on the issue of employing a blind person in a certificated position. That is, the law did not prohibit the employment of a blind person prior to 1965.
The Governor's Code of Fair Practices is very explicit in relation to employment practices. I cite two statements from Article V dealing with State Employment Services:
All state agencies, including educational institutions, which provide employment referrals or placement services to public or private employers shall accept job orders only on a nondiscriminatory basis...
... In addition, the Department of Employment shall fully utilize its knowledge of the labor market, and contacts with job applicants, employers and unions for promotion of equal employment opportunities.
As early as 1963, there existed an authority for the State Board of Education to establish in the Department of Education a Commission on Employment Discrimination. Section 363 of the Education Code says, in part:
Section 363: Commission on Employment Discrimination. The State Board of Education may, upon recommendation of the Director of Education, establish in the Department of Education a commission to assist and advise local school districts in problems relating to racial, religious or other discrimination in connection with the employment of certificated employees...
The State Board of Education, pursuant to Section 363 has established the Commission on Equal Opportunities in Education and has appointed 15 members to serve for four-year terms.
There is recourse and assistance by the Commission whenever there is a problem concerning discrimination because of a person's visual impairment.
But is that really the crux of the problem? I think not.
Probably the greatest barrier for employment facing a blind person is ignorance on the part of the general public, some school principals, superintendents and personnel officers. Combating discriminatory hiring practices against blind persons being employed as teachers took a giant step forward with the enactment of SB 989. That progress was a landmark for California and serves as a guide for other states. If that were all there is to the problem, there would be no further mission. There is more.
It seems to me that the target of the mission for the 70's is to combat misunderstandings and erroneous notions about blind teachers. We need to wage a vigorous campaign to demonstrate that a blind person can be an effective instrument in the learning process of children. The fact that a blind teacher can teach and that the children in his class learn is unquestionably the primary criterion for hiring or retaining a teacher.
There may be a fringe group who believe they should be hired to teach because they are blind. You will want to control this element within your ranks as best you can. Teachers are not hired because they are blind. Teachers are hired because they can teach. Teachers are hired because they are capable and have the skills we seek. We want teachers who can do the job! A wise man said it for us: "The world seldom notices who teachers are; but civilization depends on what they do."
It is incumbent upon all of us to bring understanding to this problem area. You have a large stake in this concern. It is right and necessary that you give a measure of leadership, both as individuals and as a professional group, to dispel the notion that a person is unable to teach simply because he does not see.
From the dawn of time man has feared and backed away from that which he does not understand. Plato said that double ignorance is when a man is ignorant of his ignorance. I suspect that in a good many instances what happens is that a principal or a personnel officer is simply astounded when someone who is blind applies for a teaching position. He may say, "Well, Mr. Doe, we never have had an applicant who was blind before. Where would we place you?" That's an easy question. If prepared to teach English at the high school level you reply: "In the English Department in one of the high schools. I am prepared to teach English." Perhaps well-meaning questions will be asked as to how you will get to and from school. How you, or any other teacher for that matter, gets to and from school is irrelevant to the issue of effective teaching. And, I suppose there are other examples of how personnel officers might react. The point is that principals and personnel officers have never had to pose the questions. You have the answers!
Whether seeking employment as a teacher of normal sighted pupils or as a teacher of visually handicapped pupils or in other areas in education, you should be fully aware that to speak of the problem of employment among yourselves or to members of the Department of Education is probably like beating the proverbial "dead horse." We know your potential capabilities. We are convinced. You must address yourselves to the general public, to principals, superintendents, and personnel officers. We understand; but do they?
California has long been without an adequate supply of qualified teachers. California nor any other state can afford to overlook qualified classroom teachers. Related to this teacher supply problem, I am advised by my staff that the area of the visually handicapped is one of the special education categories in crucial need of teachers. It would seem that some blind teachers may be qualified and well-suited to teach blind and partially seeing pupils. Some of you teach in this area now.
We strive in our programs of special education to bring each handicapped person to his level of highest productive capacity. We devote millions of dollars to this goal in California special education programs. Special education in California is viewed as exemplary across the nation. Should we refute this commitment by refusing to employ a qualified teacher who is blind because he is blind? Certainly not! He is the "living proof of the special education goal. To refuse him employment as a teacher when otherwise qualified is a tragic twist of reason. We dare not waste such a useful human resource. It is an era of focusing on the resources of this state and nation. Certainly, we would be fools among men of all time to ignore the productive capabilities of handicapped persons in fields of technical and professional endeavors. Let the success of the decade of the 60's be a direction for the decade of the 70's. Let the epilogue be but a prologue.
Back to Contents
by Sharon Bailey
On Saturday, May 18th, 1970, the annual convention of the New Mexico Federation of the Blind was held in Santa Fe. Among the registrants were an active new local chapter and another in the process of formation. Included in the program were committee reports, guests from Pilot Guide Dogs, Inc., and from the New Mexico eye bank, the Mayor of Santa Fe, a representative to the New Mexico Legislature, and special guests Don Capps and his wife Betty. President Sam Chavez had much to do with the convention's great success.
Walter Doran, director of the training department of Pilot Guide Dogs Inc., explained the service his organization provides to blind people. The newly elected president of the ophthalmological association in Santa Fe spoke on the eye bank in New Mexico. Special emphasis was given to corneal transplants and the role of the blind as donors. There was a good question and answer period. A representative to the New Mexico State Legislature reviewed the laws pertaining to the blind of New Mexico.
NFB First Vice President Don Capps brought enthusiastic suggestions to the convention for the establishment of a state commission for the blind in New Mexico. This discussion generated great interest as evidenced by the convention resolution which was adopted to work for a commission until it is adopted by the legislature. As always it is invigorating to have the Cappses attend our convention.
Much discussion was given to the recent actions at the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped, and the implications of these actions for the blind of New Mexico and the New Mexico Federation of the Blind. Nine teachers were fired, including two Federation members and seven visually handicapped people. A resolution was passed to push for fair treatment for the nine teachers with a board review of each case.
Senator Joseph Montoya was commended for all he had done to benefit the blind of New Mexico.
The following officers were elected: President, Richard Edgar; Vice President, Pauline Gomez; Recording Secretary, Sharon Bailey; Corresponding Secretary, Bill Gideon; Treasurer, Ruth Ihnat; Trustees, Sam Chavez, Albert Gonzales and Tony Garcia. The president from each local chapter and four other state Federation members will be assisted by grants from the state organization to attend the NFB Convention in Minnesota in July. Their return should bring the stimulation of new ideas.
Back to Contents
April 9, 1970
Municipal Court Los Angeles Judicial District
11 North Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90012
Dear Mr. Lathrop:
From time to time I have received a notification similar to the enclosed form of notice for jury duty from your department. This time I am not going to bother filling out the form because I feel that I would not be telling the truth if I claim to be incapable of serving as a juror because I am blind.
The fact that I am blind has certainly not deprived me of my intellect, powers of reasoning, judgment or mental stability. I feel as qualified as any juror who ever has served or will serve on any jury. Yet, I am fully aware of the fact that I will be categorically disqualified to serve as a juror because of my blindness. I believe this is definitely discrimination and factually depriving me of my rights as a citizen of the United States of America and the State of California. I do know that in other states blind persons are being permitted to serve on juries. I hope that some day those in authority in California will open their minds to the capabilities of qualified blind persons.
If you believe that I will be accepted as a juror and that all discriminatory barriers will be removed, please return the enclosed form and I will gladly fill it out and return it to you.
Anthony G. Mannino, President
California Council of the Blind, Inc.
Back to Contents
Bill Dwyer was born and raised in Albany, New York. He was educated at Blessed Sacrament Institute, Cathedral Academy and Albany Business College, graduating in 1943. At fifteen Bill met his future wife, Alice Harvie. They now have three daughters and three grandsons.
After a year of diminishing sight caused by the deterioration of the blood vessels behind the eyes, Bill became totally blind in 1950. He was unable to do the desk job he had at the Huyck Felt Company in Rensselaer without sight. The company, which manufactures the huge belts used by paper mills, was willing to give Bill any job a blind person could do, but there was difficulty in locating one. Vocational Rehabilitation Services were requested to make a survey of the mill which was done in two hours after a delay of six months. The mill is three stories high and covers an entire city block; it employed twelve hundred persons at the time. The counselor told Bill that there was no job that he could do and that he would tell the personnel director so on Monday. Bill called the personnel director first and told him that the counselor was sure he could qualify as a teasel setter. Then Bill called the counselor and told him that Huycks wanted him to try the teasel job in spite of the findings of the survey. The teasel is a thistlelike, dried flower head used to raise the nap on papermaker's felt. Until his retirement in 1967, Bill drilled holes through two thousand teasels a day with an electric drill press, mixed the glue which holds the flower heads on the spindle, and aligned the teasels with the burrs going the same way. He also kept the teasels working by feeling broken ones and replacing them. Bill surpassed his sighted competition in a job for which sight was previously thought indispensable.
Bill was elected an officer in the United Textile Workers of America and he was elected shop steward several times to represent the fifty men in his department. He joined the organized blind movement in the mid-fifties when the NFB had a recruitment drive in New York State. He was elected president of the newly-organized Tri-City Council of the Blind and was re-elected many times. He served the Empire State Association of the Blind as second and as first vice president and in September 1969 was elected president. He has been chairman of the legislative committee since he joined the ESAB.
Bill owns his own home in Rensselaer and does most of the repairs on his property himself, including the building of a retaining wall in his back yard. Bill is active in local civic affairs and the Holy Name Society of his church. He has an average over 100 points in the Capital District Blind Bowlers League and he plays blind golf, at which he humorously considers himself to be the national left-handed champion.
The most important legislative efforts of the ESAB have been directed towards the acceptance of blind teachers in the state teachers colleges and the abolition of the clause denying blind persons a certificate to teach. When it was passed ten years ago the City of New York managed a last minute amendment which excluded it from the act. It was not until 1967 that the fight to have the state overrule New York City was won. Because computers threatened the positions of newly hired civil service employees, a bill was rushed through the Legislature giving blind civil service employees the same status as disabled veterans. Other successes were in preventing bills detrimental to the blind from becoming law. The ESAB is now working to add a few clauses from the Model White Cane Law to the New York law. The ESAB has improved the vending stand program in New York State, obtained housing for blind persons going through VRS evaluation, improved programs for blind students at advanced levels and has earned a number of welfare cases.
In 1961, because of internal dissension, the ESAB voluntarily accepted suspension from the NFB. William Dwyer paid his dues and remained a member-at-large. He worked most actively for the reinstatement which was accomplished in 1963. The ESAB has continued to grow in strength since that time.
Back to Contents
[Reprinted from the Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee.]
"Anybody who's willing to work can make a living." Those words take on added significance coming from fifty-year-old Raymond E. Allison. Although almost totally blind, he operates a sixty-cow Grade A dairy in the Stonewall community about eight miles southeast of here with the aid of only one paid, part-time helper.
The three Allison sons still living at home--ranging in age from seven to fifteen--also help "quite a bit" with his dairy operation, Mr. Allison said. And, he hires machine labor to do the pasture work--including clipping, fertilizing and planting--because he can't see well enough to operate farm machinery.
With the help of a cane, he makes his way unassisted around his dairy setup throughout his long workday which often begins at 3:30 a.m.--'milking time'. He handles the milking chores three days a week and "the boys doing it the rest of the week because a lot of my time is taken up with raising calves," Mr. Allison said.
DeSoto County agent Ross C. Robison thinks highly of Mr. Allison. "Those remarks of his about anybody willing to work being able to make a living summarize his philosophy of life," Mr. Robison said. "Many people with a handicap such as his would be willing to just fold their hands and wait for a handout--but not him. He's always wanted to make his own way. And you don't find many blind farmers."
Mr. Robison and Mr. Allison's wife, Louise, chuckle when they discuss Mr. Allison and his modern pipeline milking equipment, installed eighteen months ago as a solution to the labor shortage. This equipment draws the milk directly from cows through pipelines into a storage tank in another room. Mr. Allison says it accomplishes the milking easier and quicker, doing all the jobs from washing udders to cleaning up the milking machines and pipelines.
"Some pretty complicated instructions come with the equipment," said Mr. Robison. "Most folks foul it up at first, even with the written instructions, and the folks who install the equipment have to come back and help them get straightened out. But Raymond got the folks installing it to put his hands on all those buttons and switches and everything else about it while they were instructing him in its operation. They never had to come back, because he never had any trouble operating it."
"You should have seen how he even felt of everything about the equipment while they were installing it," Mrs. Allison said. "That wasn't just to find out about how it worked. I wanted to be sure I was getting my money's worth," Mr. Allison said.
Mr. Robison is also amazed that Mr. Allison manages artificial breeding of his cows rather than employing sighted persons to do the work.
"It's pretty complicated," Mr. Robison said. But he attended a three-day school and learned to do it.
Back to Contents
by Creig Slayton
The National Federation of the Blind Student Division appreciates your support of its Overseas Books for the Blind program. Through this program thousands of books have been mailed to schools and libraries on three continents. The growth of this project has been beyond our fondest hopes. However, this overwhelming expansion has not been without its ensuing difficulties and with your forbearance and help we would like to now make a few minor changes.
Because of a lack of storage and facilities in Iowa City, we would appreciate it greatly if you can from this date forth mail Braille books and magazines to Mr. Ray McGeorge, Denver Area Association of the Blind, 901 E. 17th Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80218. Mr. McGeorge is president of the Denver Area Association of the Blind and has been mailing books overseas for several years.
We would also ask that no large print books be mailed to us. While there is a need for this type of material overseas, the Student Division does not currently have the resources to enable it to carry on a mailing of large print books. We would suggest that you check with a local CARE office or with your state library in order to find someone who may be interested in this type of material.
The National Federation of the Blind Student Division requests your continued support in the Overseas Books for the Blind project and at the same time thanks you for your support in the past. We would greatly appreciate your passing the information regarding large print books and change of address on to any acquaintances who may be planning to mail books to us.
Back to Contents
by Dr. Horst Geissler, Vice President
Deutscher Blindenverband E.V.
A Report of the Committee on Employment of the Blind
[Editor's Note: The Committee on Employment of the Blind of the International Federation of the Blind grew out of a two-year study.]
Rehabilitation programs introduced thus far in nearly all of the countries over the world are only reasonable if there are enough employment opportunities for the disabled after finishing their rehabilitation training. One of the most useful instruments for resettling disabled persons is the enactment of appropriate legislation governing their employment.
The universal declaration of human rights adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, states in Article 23, Paragraph 1, that "everyone has a right to work, to a free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment".
The European Social Charter adopted by the member nations of the Council of Europe on October 18, 1961, has codified the right of the disabled to work. The first sentence of Part 1 states that everyone must be given the opportunity to earn his living by means of an occupation chosen freely. Article 15 of Part 2 deals with "the right of physically or mentally disabled persons to vocational training, rehabilitation and social resettlement".
It reads: "With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right of the physically or mentally disabled to vocational training, rehabilitation and resettlement, the contracting parties undertake:
"to take adequate measures for the provision of training facilities, including, where necessary, specialized institutions, public or private;
"to take adequate measures for the placing of disabled persons in employment, such as specialized placing services, facilities for sheltered employment and measures to encourage employers to admit disabled persons to employment."
The European Social Fund was established in 1960 by the member nations of the European Economic Community. According to Article 123 of the EEC-Contract of Rome it aims at "promoting employment facilities and the geographical and occupational mobility of workers within the Community". Out of this Fund the EEC member nations and the public bodies receive contributions for the vocational rehabilitation of handicapped persons.
The problem of procuring work for the disabled has received the greatest interest and attention on a worldwide basis by the International Labour Organization, the ILO. The ILO recommendation No. 99 of 1955 deals with the vocational rehabilitaton of the disabled. Article III of the recommendation discussed the "Principles and Methods of Vocational Guidance, Vocational Training and Placement of Disabled Persons". With a view to placement it mentions three main methods of promoting the employment of disabled persons:
1. The quota system
2. Reservation of certain designated occupations for disabled persons
3. Preference in certain occupations to seriously and multiply handicapped persons
As a fourth means, the ILO recommends the creation of cooperatives managed by the disabled persons or their organizations.
Legal measures of this kind have been introduced thus far in many countries over the world. There are, however, a number of arguments for and against such legislation.
The following are in favor of such legislation:
a. It provides evidence that the government supports the employment of the disabled as a matter of principle and by its legislation it encourages the efforts made by the disabled themselves as well as those made by their employers.
b. It necessarily provides a means of introducing employers to the idea of employing disabled persons who then have the chance to demonstrate their productivity. In most of the cases the employers then become more inclined to engage further disabled persons and to acknowledge their work as equal to that of their other employees.
c. Reserving specific occupations or jobs for the disabled which are particularly suited for them is advantageous for certain disabled persons who are able to perform certain simpler tasks and would probably remain permanently unemployed were it not for this legislation.
The following arguments may be used against legislation:
a. Compulsion is wrong as a matter of principle.
b. Disabled persons placed in this manner may be considered to be less productive than the other workers.
c. They may have the feeling that undue attention is being focused upon them
d. Should a dire state of affairs arise the law will not prevent the employer from dismissing the disabled person.
There are hardly any specific laws governing the placement of blind persons and the problem is generally dealt with within the framework of the legislation covering the employment of the disabled.
1. The Quota System
Every employer, either public or private, having more than a fixed number of employees is required to employ a fixed minimum number or percentage of disabled persons. Besides this, such laws often contain regulations governing their dismissal and make provision for additional vacation time for the disabled. According to some of the laws, the employment of the blind is facilitated by the regulation that a blind person is counted as two instead of one towards the employer's quota obligations. This is true for Austria (Law on the Placement of Invalids) and Germany (Disabled Persons Employment Act). To our knowledge compulsory employment measures according to the quota system also exist in Belgium (Act on the Resettlement of Handicapped Persons of April 16, 1963), Brazil (Ordinance No. 7270 of January 25, 1945), Cyprus (Law of 1963), France (Law of November 23, 1967), Great Britain (Disabled Persons Act of 1944) and in Greece, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands and Turkey.
In spite of the introduction of such legislation, the placement of the blind remains very difficult in some countries. For example in Japan, where in 1960 the Law No. 123 "Physically Handicapped Persons Law, Promotion and Employment" was enacted which requires private employers to employ a fixed percentage of disabled persons among their workers. Nevertheless, Hideyuki Iwahashi wrote in his pamphlet "Welfare and Education for the Blind in Japan" in 1968: "To get a blind man employed in Japan is considered to be the hardest of all. At first we have to beseech charitable sympathy on the part of an employer, who may be moved into employing the blind man from a feeling of self-sacrifice. Here springs a charitable deed, which will be praised by newspapers and magazines, emphasizing it as if to be the true spirit of charitable service."
Therefore, even if we have a great number of countries in which compulsory employment measures have been enacted, we must not forget the fact that many of these laws only exist on paper and thus do not benefit the blind. This is also true for Brazil, Greece and Turkey, countries having appropriate employment laws but in which there are still numerous unemployed blind persons whose placement meets with the greatest difficulties.
2. Regulations Concerning Certain Types of Work for the Disabled
Measures of this kind are based on the premise that certain kinds of work are especially suited for the disabled and should be reserved for them. Some difficulties may arise, however, if such occupations are to be found mainly in only one industrial sphere so that the branches concerned would have to employ substantially more disabled persons than those in other areas.
In Argentina, Act No. 13926 aims at promoting the employment of the blind as craftsmen, tradesmen (newsstand operators) and as public servants. In Italy, Law No. 686 of July 21, 1961, requires that all of the hospitals having more than 200 beds employ a blind physiotherapist, and Law No. 155 of March 5, 1965, requires all of the public and private concerns to employ a blind telephone operator. This decree has its roots in Law No. 549 of July 17, 1957. Whereas the age limit for engaging telephone operators was originally set at 40 years, the law of 1965 raised this to 50 years. Thus, the blind telephone operators in Italy have no difficulties at all in finding a place to work. The same is true for Tunisia where official decrees regulate the privileged placement of blind telephone operators.
Besides the quota system which applies to all business concerns and all kinds of occupations. Great Britain also has the "Designated Employment System" which reserves vacant posts as elevator operators and parking lot attendants for disabled persons.
In other countries--particularly in the socialistic countries like Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia--special committees inspect the individual plants in order to find jobs especially suited for the disabled. A plan is then made up showing all of these positions and checks are made regularly to verify its accuracy. As soon as a vacancy occurs this has to be reported to the committee or to the office for occupational placement and it then remains reserved for a disabled person.
3. Cooperatives Under the Direction of the Central Organizations of the Blind
Although Poland belongs to those countries in which the concerns are required by law to reserve suitable posts for the disabled, the majority of the blind are employed in cooperatives supported and run by the central organization of the blind. They are united in the Union of Cooperatives of the Blind in Warsaw. The situation is similar in the Soviet Union where the All-Russian Society for the Blind is the main employer of the blind. The society runs a number of larger and smaller production plants which act in part as contractors for larger industrial firms or produce ready-made articles. They are completely independent of the state authorities and operate with respectable revenues. Every blind pupil knows where he will work and which job he shall have even before he leaves school, having received the appropriate training dining his schooling. Everyone having an official certification of blindness is immediately admitted to the Society for the Blind which then takes charge of all further developments. Persons who lost their sight as adults are retrained and rehabilitated in one of the 252 training-production centers. More than one half of these centers employ between 200 and 500 persons, ten percent up to 1,000 persons. As a rule about sixty percent of the employees in these centers are blind. Excepting the special equipment adapted for the blind, these centers are absolutely normal production plants. Multiply handicapped blind persons receive commissions for work at home from the centers.
The same case holds true for Spain where the "Organizacion Nacional de Ciegos" is an important employer of the Blind. It runs two factories making candy in which fifty percent of the personnel is blind. About 13,000 blind persons sell lottery tickets for the Organizacion. Since all of the schools for the blind, the Braille printing houses, Braille libraries and hostels for the blind are also under the control of this organization, the society employs a great deal of administrative, teaching and other qualified blind personnel so that specific legislation relating to the employment of the blind is considered to be unnecessary in this country.
4. General Measures Relating to Assistance
There are a number of countries not having specific employment legislation relating to the blind, but in which the government takes certain measures to assist in the training and placement of the blind. Some of the states in the U.S.A. have laws prohibiting discrimination against blind white collar workers in public service and against blind teachers at normal schools. The "Vocational Rehabilitation Act" of 1954 is the federal basis for a rehabilitation program conducted by the "Vocational Rehabilitation Administration" and it includes all of the measures for the training and vocational placement of the blind. Roughly 200 private agencies are active in realizing this program. Compulsory employment measures for the employers are not in force as the principle is followed that the employer should be convinced of the productivity of the blind and thus employ them voluntarily.
According to Article 46 of its consitution, the Indian government has to conduct certain measures to promote the education and rehabilitation of disabled persons. It is within the scope of these measures--the establishment of special placement offices for the disabled also belong here--that the blind are also situated in commerce and industry.
The National Association for the Blind in Bombay runs its own employment office with four full-time workers who are continually on the road visiting factories and commercial firms in order to find suitable jobs for the blind.
In Canada the Workmen's Compensation Act makes provisions for compensation payments to industrial firms employing blind persons. Prerequisite to the payments of such compensation is that the blind person was hired with the help of a placement officer belonging to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and that the Workmen's Compensation Board certify the loss arising from the employment of the blind person.
In the Scandinavian countries, in Switzerland, New Zealand and in many countries in the Near and Far East and in South America there is no legislation in existence regulating the occupational reintegration of the blind. In some of the highly developed industrial countries the well-trained blind are generally able to find a job either on their own or with the help of their associations. Various associations of the blind have employment of the disabled: the chances of the blind finding work are exceptionally small, especially since the number of unemployed amongst the sighted and healthy persons is generally also high in these countries.
To round off this survey it should be mentioned that there are "sheltered workshops" in many countries not only for the blind but also for the other disabled persons, which concern themselves mainly with their employment and less with their reintegration into the labor market. For this reason I do not deem it essential to go into this matter more closely in this paper, although I am well aware of the necessity and significance of these institutes.
However, as I come from Germany, you may be curious about the situation in the Federal Republic of Germany and for the particular reason that the German Disabled Persons Employment Act has found a resonance far beyond the German borders.
The Act pertaining to the employment of disabled persons of 1953 was drawn up with the intent of securing jobs for persons with a severe handicap or other disabilities resulting in a reduced capacity for earning a living but still able to work, and on the other hand as an act of insurance for those jobs already held.
Various categories of disabled persons--but particularly the war blind and those blinded through an accident--fall under this act as long as the disability is not only temporarily more than fifty percent. According to this act the civilian blind also belong to the disabled persons category However, by means of an application at the State Welfare Office those persons whose physical disability has reduced their capacity for earning a living less than fifty percent, but remaining above the thirty percent level can be put into the above category. This is particularly true in the case of the partially sighted. On the basis of the Disabled Persons Employment Act, the blind are entitled to many advantages in their occupational life:
1. Preferential Placement
Public service authorities must reserve at least ten percent, and public and private concerns at least six percent, of the jobs available for disabled persons, and an appropriate number of blind persons have to be among these. The blind are counted as two, perhaps even as three, toward the number of obligatory disabled persons to be employed. Should the employer not meet these requirements he is then bound by section 9 to make compensation either financially or by other means (provision of housing, placing orders with firms run by disabled persons or with workshops run by the blind, and the like).
2. Equipping the Working Area
The employer must equip the working area and any machines used by the disabled person in such a way that the danger of accidents is reduced to an absolute minimum and that the blind person can pursue his work without any undue difficulties. Furthermore, the employer is obliged to equip the working area with the necessary technical aids including such things as additional appliances, machines and helpers. The disabled person should be employed in such a manner that he may use his abilities and knowledges to the fullest extent possible and continue to develop them. Employers are assisted by the Welfare Offices and the State Labor Offices in carrying out these measures.
3. Occupational and Social Protection
The State Welfare Offices are responsible for measures insuring maintenance and restoration of the work capacity and for measures concerning occupational promotion, and they take care of housing and family welfare problems. They must take all measures necessary to insure that the disabled person be economically independent. They should work towards maintaining the social position of the persons concerned, towards keeping them within the realms of their occupation, if at all possible, and towards overcoming any difficulties which may arise in the pursuance of their occupation. The State Welfare Offices are responsible for equipping the disabled with artificial limbs as well as orthopedic and other aids necessary for their job, but not provided for by any other laws.
4. Protection Against Dismissal
The dismissal of a disabled person by an employer must be approved by the State Welfare Office.
5. Additional Vacation Time
Disabled persons are entitled to an additional six days of paid vacation each year.
This sketch of the situation regarding the right to work and the conditions pertaining to its realization is by all means incomplete. However, it does show that the individual circumstances vary a great deal. The right of the blind to work is also recognized in principle in many countries and by many institutions. I am of the opinion that we should not under-estimate this fact while continuing our efforts to have the right recognized in those countries which have not, as yet, been able to decide to recognize this formally. In any case, our efforts should not cease at that point where the legal status has obtained a binding character, but they should be continued until the time when the public feeling for justice has been developed so far that the blind wanting to work are also granted the claim to work. I am aware that this meets with a number of difficulties in many countries for reasons easily understood, even though the good will may be present. However, these difficulties should not prevent us from espousing the right to work--which belongs to the elementary human rights--from confronting the objections intellectually and drawing attention to the humane aspects of this claim. And on the other hand, even if the right to work is generally accepted publically, there is still no assurance that it will be realized in practice. Experience has shown that this assurance may be present in the form of legislation, organization or in the common morals. It is without a doubt the most desirable form when the common morals have reached such a high standard that every employer would consider it to be an honorary obligation to employ the blind according to their ability, propensity and training at a suitable job, to treat them socially as well as economically in the same way as the other employees and to integrate them into the working community. Then the blind will also be willing to undergo the best possible training in accordance with their abilities and to utilize without reserve their full potential on the job.
Under these circumstances the rest of their fellow workers will finally come to stand up for their blind colleagues and the workers' associations and unions will reveal an understanding for the blind and support their special needs. Unfortunately, the situation is not this ideal in many countries, and for this reason the common morals have to be supported by legislation or organization. In any case, it still depends upon the morals to a great extent. The best laws and organizations have but little effect if they do not correspond to the general sense of justice. Please accept the word of a jurist that the authority of the law only goes so far as people are willing to support it and adhere to its observance.
The same holds true for organizations which--just like the laws--are not natural phenomena, but the work of men. In spite of this they can be very useful in removing hindrances and difficulties in individual cases.
Another factor is that the very occupation with the question of a fair and suitable regulation contributes in no mean way to a deepening and intensification of the sense of justice for the needs of the blind. For this reason we should demand concrete regulations in individual countries--as far as these are not now in force in order to obtain a guarantee for the realization of this right--referring to the recognition of the right to work and its public sanction. The regulation called for in an individual case depends upon the circumstances in the specific country concerned and, therefore, one can make no general statements valid for all of the cases. An exchange of opinions and experiences is, however, of utmost importance since it may help to find the appropriate regulation for a particular country. But, apart from this, we must strive--by means of accomplishments and enlightment--to bring about a much more accurate and comprehensive image of the blind in the public mind while attempting to abolish the prejudices against, and embarrassment felt toward the blind--both of which are still very prevalent. We ourselves can contribute a great deal by our behavior and appearance. Even today the importance of the public image of the blind for their position in society may be clearly demonstrated by a comparison of the occupations pursued preferentially by the blind in various countries. The result of this is that occupations considered to be particularly suitable for the blind in one country are, on the other hand, held to be absolutely unfit for the blind in another. This is naturally not due to the nature of the handicap--which is the same in all cases--but solely to the differing conceptions of a blind person to be found not only among the sighted but of course also among the blind as well. Unfortunately there are also examples of prejudice being transmitted from one country to another. Therefore, it is all the more important that we pay heed to such doings and attempt to counter them.
The realization of the right to work is an indication of the degree in which the blind are actually integrated into a specific society. This, however, must be, and remain, our ever-present goal.
Back to Contents
by Joshua Watson
[Reprinted from The Baltimore Afro-American]
Federal efforts to cut down inflation have apparently resulted in unemployment for many blind workers in Baltimore. The workers, in an exclusive interview with the Afro, recently put the blame on the Maryland Workshop for the Blind. Present and former employees of the workshop blasted the organization with charges of discrimination and "unfair" employment practices.
Officials of the organization, however, say the layoffs and wage cuts are due to insufficient funds.
All of the blind persons interviewed stated that they were "laid off” by the Maryland Workshop for the Blind for various reasons and that there are dozens more suffering the same conditions.
"You don't get any employment compensation when you are laid off," said Mrs. Margaret Thompson, an employee of 30 years with the workshop. Mrs. Thompson sews mailing bags, government aprons, and medical drapes at the workshop. She claims her work week was reduced to three days with a recurring loss in wages.
"After 30 years of working, there is no security at all," said Mrs. Thompson.
Her husband, Ralph Thompson, was laid off on February 13, and he was an employee for over 20 years. A hard worker, Mr. Thompson stated that he worked on his own time doing chair caning, and the supervisors at the workshop didn't want to give him the money made while chair caning. "They gave me training money," said Mr. Thompson, "but they didn't want to pay me for the money made on my own time. "I made more money on my own time than I made in training time and, to compromise, they took some of my training hours away and this reduced my salary."
Mr. Thompson's co-worker, Sylvester Brown, is considered a top-notch chair caner whom supervisors constantly ask questions concerning the trade. Yet, it was learned from Mr. Brown, that "chair caning is all I know" and that the employee of 23 years (Mr. Brown) was laid off recently when no work in chair caning was found for him. They won't let me learn another trade," Mr. Brown claimed.
Since 1937 Mrs. Louise Root had been employed by the MWFB and, on the Friday before Christmas, she too was laid off. Mrs. Root, said "I think it is unfair that sighted workers at the workshop get 10 paid holidays a year, yet the workshop can't afford to subsidize the blind."
Alfred Stebbins, a worker for the MWFB for the past 20 years, also said his wages were cut from $66 per week to $36 per week recently. They made me a working foreman, but they didn't treat me equal," said Mr. Stebbins. Recalling his plight, Mr. Stebbins said, "In January, they 'raised' my salary $15, but they reduced my working days to three days a week, which amounted to a salary of $24 weekly. Under such wages, I had to sign up for disability." Afterwards Mr. Stebbins remembers that his salary was raised to $60 and his work week lengthened to five days. This occurred a few days after his pastor, the Rev. John Scott, pastor at West Baltimore Baptist Church, had a meeting with George Park, executive vice president of MWFB, Bill McKeown, a stand operator for 27 years at MWFB, said that he was laid off in December, 1969 because his supervisors felt he wasn't doing his job adequately. "I was taken off the candy stand," said Mr. McKeown, "because the vending department felt that people were stealing from me because I am blind. They claimed they were losing money." Mr. McKeown said he has also been denied admission to the workshop to talk to former co-workers.
A partial list of the complaints against the MWFB are:
1. The Workshop is hiring a large percentage of sighted persons (over and above the necessary inspectors) to do work that the blind could do.
2. There are also sighted, non-handicapped persons working in the sewing room and other departments; blind workers, who are not so easily employable, have been laid off.
3. There are otherwise handicapped people employed there, mentally retarded, etc., when they have workshops of their own. The Workshop for the Blind is State-aided mainly to help the blind.
4. The salary cuts have been so severe that it is all but impossible to live on such a low wage.
5. It is felt that there are too many supervisors. They and other workers suspect that the ratio is probably 3 workers to 1 supervisor.
Still another worker, Mrs. Dorothy Stebbins, Mr. Stebbins' wife, showed the Afro a letter from the U.S. Department of Labor which said that the MWFB owed her back pay of $143.89. Mrs. Thompson had a similar letter with figures of $142.60 and Mr. McKeown had another letter showing a total of $832.04 owed in pay. "I know of one employee whom the MWFB owes $1,000 back pay." said George Cooper, a former employee at the workshop who now works at St. Agnes Hospital.
Citing another problem in the hiring of mentally retarded personnel, Mr. Cooper stated that the "mentally retarded won't protest and this is the reason they are hired. I know one mentally retarded worker who is making 40 cents an hour at the workshop. The Maryland Workshop for the Blind would rather fire three blind persons and hire one sighted."
Furthermore, Mrs. Isabella McKeown, a blind medical typist for St. Agnes Hospital and Mr. McKeown's wife, reported that even though the workshop had closed the broom shop, mop-making shop and the chair caning department, the Baltimore shop has been sending work to employees in Cumberland and Salisbury. "Pretty soon blind workers in Baltimore will need a cup and a corner to beg on," said Mrs. McKeown. The situation is bad." Mrs. McKeown stated that the blind workers will "even picket the Maryland Workshop for the Blind, if necessary."
On the other hand, George Park, executive vice president of the MWFB, said that "we do have a problem. Most of the work we do is for the federal government, and we just don't have the job orders to fill at the present time. I suppose the government is attempting to cut down on inflation and is limiting its contracts to the workshop."
Commenting on the layoffs of blind personnel, Mr. Park stated, "We try to keep as many blind people working as possible, but there are days when we don't have the work. Most of the jobs are done on a piece work basis, and it is just that the jobs are not here."
Speaking of work that is being transferred to workshops in Cumberland and Salisbury, Mr. Park said that the "jobs couldn't be done here."
Mr. Park, responding to the issue of back pay to the blind workers, said 'we have had a record keeping problem, but that wasn't done willfully, and the workers are being paid."
Free State Federation of the blind
P.O. Box 1084
Baltimore, Maryland 21203
Mr. Robert Moran, Administrator
Division of Wages, Hours
and Public Contracts
Department of Labor
Dear Mr. Moran:
Per the enclosed article, the strikingly apparent gravity of the grievances expressed by the current and former employees of the Maryland Workshop for the Blind, and the even more obviously apparent, and I may add, offhanded and callously uninformative manner in which these grievances are treated by the administrators of the Maryland Workshop for the Blind, furnish ample reason or cause for an investigation in depth of the whole "unallowable situation" as it now exists.
If you agree that such an investigation is sorely needed in bringing into the light the true status re: employer-employee relationships at the Maryland Workshop for the Blind, we the officers and members of the Free State Federation of the Blind, respectfully urge you to make it an exhaustive investigation with full participation as witnesses of all parties concerned.
Since this is a bread and butter, subsisting and survival, as well as personal dignity and poignant discrimination matter, your attending to this matter with decisive promptness will be sincerely appreciated.
Very truly yours,
John T. McCraw, President
Free State Federation of the Blind
Back to Contents
by Judy Wilkinson
Blind people often dislike motels because the wide open spaces and complicated grounds sometimes make traveling about quite difficult. The lovely Holiday Inn proved a delightful exception to the rule; only the room numbering system remained a mystery, and no one accidentally wound up in the swimming pool.
By early Friday evening at the Holiday Inn at Stockton, the bustle accompanying all Council conventions had begun. Those attending the White Cane Week and Fundraising Committee meeting learned that White Cane Week activities are well underway and that the candy sale went according to expectations. Later in the evening, the Resolutions Committee met to consider several resolutions; some loyal souls stayed from beginning to end while others, including ever-increasing numbers of new arrivals put in appearances throughout the evening. Perhaps the only people not attending the open Resolutions Committee hearing were the hard workers serving on the Credentials Committee as it met to prepare the official list of voting delegates
I’m told--(I should get up so early)--that the Executive Committee's breakfast meeting was as popular as ever among those Council members with strong stomachs and weak hangovers.
Even I was in the room, if somewhat less than fully awake, when Saturday's general session began. Following the invocation, flag salute, opening announcements and roll call of delegates, President Tony Mannino gave an account of the Council's difficulties with the San Bernardino Chapter. Because of the activities of a few people, the Council was receiving a bad name in the area; however, efforts are already underway to reconstitute the local chapter in order to overcome the present situation.
For the rest of the morning state politics was in the air. At 10:30 we welcomed Stockton's State Senator Allen Short, a long-time friend of the blind in California. He showed he truly was a friend in that he didn't feel nervously obligated--as our guest speakers often do--to relate everything he said to the blind. He showed how varied his work is by discussing a whole range of current bills representing interests not only of his own constituents, but of Californians in general.
The next speaker realized that though blind, many of us were registered voters. Consequently, Mr. Charles O'Brien, Assistant Attorney General, State of California, who is running for the office of attorney general, spoke out strongly on the topical issues of law and order in this state. Unlike many today, he remembers that the law should be the servant rather than the master of the people.
Following adjournment, Orientation Center for the Blind and California School for the Blind Alumni held their usual luncheon meetings. If the OCB luncheon was anything like CSB Alumni's, the business meeting was so far down on the agenda that we never really got around to it.
The afternoon's festivities began with a discussion of current happenings in Washington, D.C., presented by Perry Sundquist--editor of some magazine or other.
As the weekend continued, all of us became better informed citizens and, hopefully, better human beings because of some of the fine speeches we heard. Every Californian should be aware of the serious situation in the State's correctional institutions, and thanks to Mr. Edwin Nelson, Supervisor of Counseling at the Reception Guidance Center, Chino, we were brought up to date concerning some of the developments in this area.
Sylvia Siegal, Director of the Association of California Consumers, gave a down-to-earth talk urging us to join the organized consumers movement.
The session closed with a speech delivered by one of the most distinguished and honored guests attending the convention: Mr. Rienzi Alagiyawanna, President of the International Federation of the Blind, told of the IFB around the world, reminding us that only through a united, sustained effort could interests of the blind throughout the world be promoted. Twenty nations are represented in the International Federation of the Blind.
For a number of people, the business of the day was not yet over. Credit union members attended an important meeting at which officers were elected, while students attended a meeting to discuss the extent and nature of services and facilities for students in the State, information being gathered for a NFB Student Division survey. As might be expected, the favorite topic of the meeting was the Department of Rehabilitation.
The business of the evening took the form of pleasure; an outdoor bar served drinks during the balmy early evening, and the dinner which followed was excellent. At the banquet, Mr. George Callas, former Council member, awarded $250 scholarships on behalf of the San Bruno Lions Club to four students. Responding to the President's call, donations on behalf of chapters and individuals as well were made to the Newel Perry Scholarship fund.
Then Master-of-Ceremonies Al Chastain introduced the speaker of the evening, Mr. Thomas Brigham, Dean, School of Social Welfare, Fresno State College. Two years ago, this articulate gentleman delivered one of the finest speeches I have ever heard. It is difficult to equal such a speech, but we were certainly not disappointed. He reminded us of the points he had made in that earlier speech and indicated that welfare conditions, if anything, are worse today because of an insensitive State Administration. He said the danger of the possible enactment of inhumane, repressive measures has never been greater. However, with such spirited men as Mr. Brigham fighting for the rights of welfare recipients and workers, and working to change misconceptions and erroneous ideas held by the majority, we may weather even this storm.
Convention Sunday is a real challenge in that everyone is so tired, the activities must be super interesting to keep everyone awake. On this particular Sunday, the challenge was more than met! Charles Smalley, Chairman of the Resolutions Committee, read the resolutions which the delegates then adopted.
The highpoint of the morning was a speech given by Mr. Bonifacio Yturbide, Attorney-at-law, in which he reviewed the history of the case, initiated by the Council on behalf of all the adult aid categories, against the State Welfare Department for its intention to compute the cost-of-living increase based on arbitrarily-established elements of the cost-of-living index. Mr. Yturbide, the lawyer for the four representative adults, reminded us that although this battle had been won, he felt it would be only the first in a long series, considering the conservative nature of the Governor and the electorate. Thus three speakers, Senator Short, Dean Brigham and Mr. Yturbide suggested that the atmosphere in the State is somber indeed where social welfare is concerned.
Following the lunch break, we heard about another victory for the blind: the IFB was somewhat richer because of fatter and unfatter blind people who participated in the miss-a-meal contest instituted last fall. Prizes were awarded to Mr.-a-meal, Sid Urena, Mrs.-a-meal, Mildred Woods, and finally to Miss-a-meal herself, Lynda Bardis.
After Sybil Westbrook gave her treasurer's report, President Mannino announced after many years of service, Sybil had submitted her resignation. At this time, the Council passed its final resolution commending Sybil for the job she had done. The membership then elected Charles Smalley, Treasurer.
Muzzy Marcelino, who is Chairman of the NFB Endowment Fund Committee, held the floor for a time soliciting pledges and contributions to the Endowment Fund. About $125.00 was pledged! about $130.00 was collected then and there; and the Council President also pledged in behalf of the Council the sum of $250.00, all of which will be given to the Endowment Fund. Anyone who plans to attend subsequent conventions of the Council should come prepared to contribute to this great cause.
Elections continued as Mr. Anthony Mannino was chosen delegate and Mr. Henry Negrete alternate delegate to the NFB Convention in Minneapolis.
Thus another convention, filled with busy activity, speeches and discussions, and renewed friendships came to an end.
Back to Contents
by Frank H. Smith
[Editor's Note: The following special editorial is reprinted from the Gem State (Idaho) News Letter.]
The word "militant" has of late become somewhat of a profane expression among Americans. Because of the actions of a few and the focusing upon these few by the mass media, many persons have come to see militancy as a threat to their person, their property and their constitutional rights. As a reaction to this connotation of the word militant many persons have vowed to become anti-militant: to shun the word, to shun any act that might be construed as militant and to work to neutralize any militancy around them. However, any movement toward organized or active reaction against militancy is in itself militant.
We are militant. How are we militant? We are militant in that we belong to the organized blind, the Gem State Blind and the National Federation of the Blind.
In fact, we are militant even if we do not consider our membership in these groups. To be exact we are militant whenever we dare to think that blind people can actually be anything but shut-ins or can do anything but vegetate in seclusion and live off the charity of the society around us. We are militant in that we are going against the concept of blindness that has existed for thousands of years. We are trying to change minds about what blindness is and what blind people can do. Every time we step outside our door into the sunshine, every time we pick up a white cane, every time we go to work and draw a pay check we are taking part in militant action. The challenging of the accepted way and substituting something new or at least different is militant.
As the organized blind we are militant because of the methods we use to achieve our goals. The violence that has turned so many ears away from anything that even sounds like the word militant is not what is meant here. Definitely not. Rather, it is the active seeking for change by legal, moral and constructive means. We are militant because we write to and talk to our legislative representatives, agency executives and any others who make decisions affecting the blind. We challenge in the courts those who would discriminate against us or would rob us of our chance to make an honest living. We even introduce the work for passage of laws that would help us secure better opportunity, more security and true equality for ourselves. Yes, we are militant and the growing amount of success that blind people are enjoying now in our state is a result of this militant approach.
We are now, as we have been in the past and will probably continue to be for many years to come, threatened. Yes, threatened by those who would seek to take from us our hard won rights and relegate us further into second-class citizenship. Those in high places have sown the seeds and left the harvest to anyone who would imprison the blind in the abyss from which the blind were able to finally remove themselves only a few short months ago.
Although we have not yet been mentioned by name in writing, we are dangerously close to being included in the plan some men are supporting which would put almost all social and rehabilitative services under the control of one department and possibly one man. It is desperately hoped that this fight will never come to a head as far as the blind are concerned. We hope that in the future someone can say truthfully that we are only crying "wolf”. However, we must be prepared at all times to defend what has proved to be of such great help in dealing with the nuisance called blindness. We must be prepared to use the tools of militancy in the style of the Gem State Blind and the National Federation of the Blind. We must be continually aware, communicating well and carefully informed as to what is going on within the domed cubicles at Boise and be ready to put our militancy to work on those who represent us there.
Back to Contents
by Harvey Patton
[Reprinted from the Detroit (Michigan) News.]
Allen C. Harris is considered an excellent sociology teacher and a valuable assistant wrestling coach at Dearborn High. This information would not be newsworthy if it weren't for the fact that Harris, 23, is blind and uses a dog to guide him through the school building.
Receiving his teaching certificate from the School of Education at Wayne State University in 1966, where he later earned a master's degree in the social sciences, Harris threads his way to classes at Dearborn with the aid of Prince, mostly labrador.
"He teaches five classes in sociology and is regarded as excellent by the students, with whom he has great rapport," said Thomas McLennan, assistant principal.
"He is also a fine wrestling coach," said Jack Johnson, Dearborn athletic director. Harris received three letters for wrestling at Wayne State at 191 pounds despite the fact he was out half his junior year and most of his senior with eye trouble and then because of practice teaching.
"I had to drop wrestling to concentrate on a practice teaching job at Oak Park while still a student," Harris said.
Principal Leonard Mazur at Dearborn hired him after Harris taught a summer session in 1968.
"I had trouble catching on because of my handicap, but Mr. Mazur had faith in me," Harris explained. "The Detroit public schools would not hire a blind teacher."
It was in 1962 that Harris went blind due to a congenital eye condition. He attended the Michigan School for the Blind and won the state Class B title at 157 pounds in 1963. "We were the smallest school at the state meet while I was at Lansing," Harris said "We drew our wrestling talent from about 100 students in grades nine through twelve, but we won the Class B title two out of the three years I competed."
Bob Hurley, Wayne State wrestling coach, is a good friend of Harris. They attended the state Class A meet at East Lansing together last year.
"Al can understand what is happening on the mat with only a few words from a companion who can see," Hurley said. "He is quick and seems to know what a wrestler is doing. That is why he can coach. He often wrestles with the boys,"
"I believe I would be a better wrestler now," Harris said. "The rules were changed in 1968. A wrestler has to keep in contact with his opponent by touching hands. Previously opponents could take advantage of the blind by slipping behind."
Dearborn's head wrestling coach is Ed Lanzi, whose team qualified four athletes for the Class A regional Saturday at Ann Arbor Pioneer by taking four seconds in a district meet last weekend. Harris is enthusiastic over their chances to qualify for the state championships.
The blind teacher is driven to work by his wife, Sue, who teaches business education and mathematics at Murray-Wright High in Detroit.
Back to Contents
by Dr. Isabelle L.D. Grant
The day was a scorcher! The air was heavy with sand, sunshine and smells. New Delhi was not at its best even though it was the fall of the year. The air-conditioned interior of the conference hall offered a welcome relief. A world conference to discuss problems relating to the welfare of the blind was in session.
"Memsab," said the student usherette to me, "Memsab, there's a hunger-strike of blind people outside on the street. Many blind people are there."
It required but a few minutes to run downstairs with the help of the handrail, and out into the street where, sure enough, about forty blind persons had gathered in protest to the existing conditions and attitudes regarding the millions of blind persons in India today.
The leader of the hunger-strikers, a young blind man in his late twenties, was obviously the main spokesman, though when once the frigidity of new conversation with strangers was broken, questions and answers went flying thick and fast. The English of the first spokesman was inordinately good. Those with a lesser command of the language had their Punjabi and Hindi translated by their more loquacious friends.
"Madam, what are you doing here?"
"I am attending the conference for the welfare of the blind."
This telling question nonplussed me. After all I thought, what welfare is emanating from such conferences held under the aegis of sighted people claiming to understand the problems of blind people in a sighted society.
"Why are you hunger-striking, Mr. Dasgupta?"
"Because in this country, the blind are not given justice, not even a chance. People on the streets are afraid to touch us. You see, we are blind."
"Yes, Mr. Dasgupta, but I too am blind," I said with my hand on his shoulder. "But I still do not understand why you are hunger-striking! What good can you do our fellow blind if you are weak from hunger?" I asked. "Demonstrating as you are doing is one thing," I said, "but sapping your energy through hunger is another."
“No, Madam, you wouldn't understand," Mr. Dasgupta said. "This is our Indian way of telling people of the injustices meted out to us blind people."
"Tell me more about yourself Mr. Dasgupta," I urged.
"Well, you see. Madam, I have attended the Delhi University. I have a Ph.D. degree. I have studied with success for eight years; completed all the work prescribed; received the degree and there's nothing for me but beggary!"
"But your country needs your training, your ability, for the children in your country as in mine need teachers."
"Ah! Lady, but you see I am blind!"
"But can't you write letters anywhere and everywhere to state your case and ask for interviews?"
“Madam, I have written to every person I can think of! Any normally seeing person would, after the completion of a doctorate degree, have been assured a job. The hundreds of job applications I have submitted have been thrown into the dustbin. You see I am blind! One university agreed to employ me, but they added the rider that a supernumerary would have to be employed to sit with me in the classroom." I shuddered as the young man spoke. I was familiar with all he said.
"Well, Memsab, the university would not do that for it would cost them too much money," he said.
My hand still rested on his shoulder. By now the crowd was growing. I was afraid the police might come and disband the group, and I had not yet had enough of Dr. Dasgupta's story. I stumbled against the charpai, the little cot where the leader slept during the nights of the hunger-strike, since there were many cots around, and flat places under the trees on the roadside where sleeping would be possible. I edged closer to Dr. Dasgupta, feeling the shade of the tree on my arm, when my other arm was forcibly shaken by another of the hunger-strikers.
"And who are you?" he asked in an excited, vibrant, friendly voice.
"My name is Isabelle Grant and I have come from Los Angeles, California."
"Isabelle L.D. Grant, 851 West 40th Place, Los Angeles, California, 90037!" he screamed almost beside himself.
It was K.K. Sharma. He had been one of my correspondents for the last three years. What a strange, but happy coincidence! It was like a family reunion. Even Dr. Dasgupta laughed. But as time was passing and the hunger-strike continuing we decided that hunger was not a weapon blind persons should use to make their voice heard, and their needs known.
By this time, an official from the conference upstairs had arrived on the scene. When, I did not know. Exchanging addresses, and promises to write, the party was over!
Three letters have arrived since my return and it is but three months since our conference of the blind, in which only blind people participated, and spoke their piece. According to one of his letters, Dr. Dasgupta is now a lecturer in one of the local colleges without a supernumerary. He can attend to his own clerical duties as part of his job; that is his responsibility. And slowly but steadily people in positions of management of human resources and job placement are beginning to shed their traditional ignorance of automatic rejection of blind persons on the basis of blindness alone.
Back to Contents
by Clark Redfield
[Reprinted courtesy of the New York News.]
Sharp had had one of the busier, more grinding days of his busy, grinding trade. He worked for a radio station, writing news, one of those stations whose news broadcasts are always preceded by blaring, musical fanfares and delivered by those who read aloud what Sharp put on paper, in a tone close to a shout, no matter how big or little the news item might be.
The stories had come hard and fast that day, one on top of the other, the news editor grabbing the takes and ripping them out of the typewriters as fast as Sharp and the other writers could get the words down. The station had become what New York's afternoon newspapers had been when there were so many of them, and no radio or TV. Rush, rush, rush! Get it done, fast, and get it right the first time! What are we paying you for?
One of his last stories before he left his office that afternoon had been about a water main break that had shut down the BMT subway from 14th Street south far into Brooklyn, where, of course, he was headed when he left, because he took the subway to the Brooklyn terminal of the Long Island Railroad, which eventually led to home and peace, surcease from rush and deadline.
His office was downtown, in the financial district. When he stepped into the street, he saw the brown, foul river gushing from the mouth of the BMT station and the men with the suctioning hoses working frantically to get the water out. The IRT line to Brooklyn was a block away and uphill and when he left there had been no word that there was anything wrong with the IRT. He took that subway.
The IRT platform had a flood of its own. It was spilling over with confused people, refugees from the stricken BMT, who kept bumping into regular IRT users and asking if this train went to Brooklyn. Yes, it did; did you stay on for Atlantic Avenue? Yes, you stayed on for Atlantic Avenue. Did you stay on for Pacific Street? No you changed at Atlantic for Pacific Street. He managed to get on a train that had some standing room.
Two miniskirted girls got on with him and as the car began to move, its lights dimmed and they saw something on the floor and one of them squealed in fright.
Sharp looked. Other men and women looked. On the floor, its head between its paws, its eyes wary, was a dog. The dog had its rear quarters next to a young woman's legs. Sharp looked at the woman and understood at once. So did other riders. A man next to him reached out and tapped the girl who had squealed.
"Miss, the lady is blind. That's her dog," the man said.
"That's a seeing-eye dog. Haven't you ever seen a seeing-eye dog before?" Sharp said. People who panicked easily in situations like this always annoyed him. Some of his annoyance got into the tone of his voice; the girl looked back at him as though he were a masher, sniffed and began talking to her friend.
The train ground into the Brooklyn tunnel. People were trying to read their newspapers but the lights kept dimming and blinking and most of the riders gave up trying to read.
But the blind girl was reading a Braille book, and she went on reading in the gloom, her fingers gliding across the raised lines, fingers sensitive as a snake seeking prey in the grass; fingers that would stop, occasionally, perhaps at a difficult word or, as he noticed by watching her face, a phrase that touched her. Sometimes, when she paused, the flicker of a smile would cross the unseeing face. She read on and the train kept going.
At the Borough Hall station in Brooklyn, most of the riders, perhaps fearful of a total power failure farther down the line, got off. There was a seat clear, next to the blind girl. Sharp looked at one of the miniskirted girls and gestured toward the seat; the girl looked away. He took the seat.
The dog glanced up at him. It was not a shepherd, as those dogs usually were. It was black and shaggy and looked like an attenuated, black Irish wolfhound. Satisfied that Sharp meant no harm to its mistress, the dog rested its head between its paws again. But the animal kept looking up and around and, for a mad instant, Sharp wondered if the dog knew what stations they were passing and would nudge its mistress to get up at the right one.
The girl's reading fascinated Sharp. He had, like many news writers who were not hacks, sold short stories to magazines and some had been published in anthologies of Best Stories of the Year. He wondered, again madly, if she might be reading something of his.
The left hand held the upper corner of the page as the right glided over the Braille. The right hand would feel the bottom of the page, perhaps for a folio number, and when she turned the page the left hand would check the top of the next page before she read on.
The train ground on, past Hoyt Street, where it faltered and the lights dimmed lower. Then it bucked and started again and rumbled into Nevins Street, the stop before Atlantic. It went all the way into the station.
"Nevins Street," the car's P.A. system grated, and then the voice slowed down into a dying bass like a record running down on an old, spring-operated gramophone: " A-A-t-1-a-n-t-i-c n-e-e-ex ..." and stopped, and there was a blinding blue-white flash and a noise like a clap of thunder after lightning, and the train and the station were plunged into total, inky black.
A girl screamed.
A man shouted: "Stop that! Don't panic!"
"My God! Where are we?"
"Quiet! Don't panic!"
Sharp felt the dog rise. Seeking its mistress, its body touched Sharp's legs; the animal was trembling. People were rushing back and forth in the car, crashing into each other, falling, shouting, screaming.
"The doors are half open! We can get out!" a woman called from somewhere in the dark. Sharp felt concerned for the blind girl.
"Do you know where you are, miss?" he said touching her arm.
"Yes," she said, astonishingly calm in the maelstrom of fear about her. "Nevins Street. This is where I get off."
"Can you get out of the station all right?"
"Of course," she said. "What's happening?"
And it came to him. Of course she couldn't know what had happened! The darkness meant nothing to her. Everyone else in the car was blind, but being already blind, she was not.
"All the power's failed. We can't see our hands in front of our faces," Sharp said.
"I thought it might be something like that. She's scared," the girl said.
"My dog. She wants to lead me and now she can't," the girl said. "I only took her along today because I was going shopping in Manhattan and I didn't know the neighborhood."
Magically, at the sound of her voice, at what she was saying, the panic in the car was evaporating. They were all listening to her.
"Could you ... could you lead us out, then?" Sharp said.
"Certainly," she said, getting up. "Here. Take my hand." He did so.
"Listen, everybody!" Sharp called out into the ink. "The blind lady is going to lead us out. She knows the way. I'll take her hand; somebody else take my hand and somebody else take that person's hand, and we'll get out of here."
There was some shuffling in the dark and then he felt a small, soft hand touch his. He held it firmly. "All right, miss?" Sharp said.
"Come on. Follow me," the blind girl said. "Look out for the door, and platform. There's a space you have to step over." They began leaving the car, a queer, midnight caravan of souls, the blind leading the blind.
The blind girl guided them to the platform and past the benches on it, slowly, carefully, passing warnings of what lay ahead via Sharp. "Here are the stairs. There are 14 of them. Then you turn right and there are 12 more. Then we turn to the right again," she would say. The line went through the station, up the stairs and finally got to the turnstiles.
"This is the exit," she said. She went through and Sharp went through, feeling the turnstile strike his legs and give. Now there was a dim light from above; the last stairway, to the street.
People going by on the street above stopped and watched open-mouthed as the strange line came out, led by a girl with a dog. Finally, they were all out. Cops were rushing up from everywhere.
After the nothingness of the hole below the street, the daylight was dazzling. Sharp found that the other hand holding his was attached to one of the miniskirted girls, the one who had looked insulted when he had told her the girl was blind.
The miniskirted girl smiled at him.
"Thanks, mister," she said.
"Don't thank me. Thank her," Sharp said. He turned. "Are you all ri ..." but the blind girl and her dog had vanished into the crowd. Now, why had he let her do that? This was a hell of a story. And he didn't have her name! He ran to a phone booth and called the radio station.
Sure enough, the news editor agreed that it was a good story. And sure enough, he bawled Sharp out for not getting the blind girl's name; what kind of a reporter was he, anyway?
Back to Contents
by Dr. Jacob Freid
[Editor's Note: The following Editor's Letter is reprinted from the March, 1970 issue of the Jewish Braille Review, publication of the Jewish Braille Institute of America of which Dr. Freid is Executive Director.]
The quarter century since World War II has been among the most critical and climactic in the history of man since it first began to be written in cuneiform in Sumer and in hieroglyphics in the Nile Valley millenia ago. In the history of the blind, since Jacobus tenBroek of blessed memory became the Moses leading the blind from bondage towards the Promised Land of equality of opportunity, education and employment, it marks the period of greatest progress.
These were the years of the great explosion in technology, civil rights, health and welfare, population, corporation growth, culture, education, level of living, crime, violence, drugs and environmental pollution. Today we are a science and space oriented culture which still holds out to many the promise of freedom and a better life. Emma Lazarus in her poem "The New Colossus," said:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shores.
Send these, the homeless tempest-tos't to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
And so the United States represented to the downtrodden and the persecuted of the old world a new land of the second chance, where the old deprivations gave way to new opportunities. The agencies for the blind were analogous to the old world fiefdoms and baronetcies--bless the squire and his relations and keep us in our proper stations. The blind were the subjects of benevolent paternalism--they were not accorded the equal status of participant first-class citizens with a voice in determining the decisions, policies and programs that affected their lives so critically. To the blind the National Federation of the Blind was the road to the second chance and the new opportunities to the good life. Robert Scott's book, The Making of Blind Men, emphasizes the problems that still remain to be overcome.
Despite its ills, this nation has improved the conditions of life for a higher percentage of its population than almost any other nation despite the remaining blots of poverty, racism and lack of socialized medicine. Material well-being is not the only criterion. In its compound of general freedoms, available opportunities, protection of the individual and philanthropic impulse, this nation leads the world.
And yet it is also a country with a Mafia crypto government of crime syndicates, a country engaged in a colonialist, imperialist war, a country that has to be forced inch by inch to preserve its natural beauties, clean its air, purify its lakes, improve its schools, raze its slums. Our youth are often alienated either intellectually or criminally. The promise of the racial outlook is presently menaced by an administration that is turning its back on integration and is discounting the Negro vote in favor of the votes of Southerners and George Wallace supporters. To a Martian it must look odd.
Historical accident, natural resources and sheer luck, plus tremendous initiative, inventiveness, ingenuity and application in exploiting these matters have catapulted us all, sighted and blind, into the Great Leap. But it is not yet finished and we do not know where we will land or even where we want to land.
The historical bridge and the moral limits of the experience of this generation were defined in World War II. Totalitarianism, freedom, genocide, courage, passion, decency, most of our conceptions of idealism--and its opposite, cynicism--date from that war. It was a time of conformity when everyone looked and acted alike or tried to. The Chick tenBroek radical type was a maverick pilloried and anathematized as a threat to things as they are by the agencies for the blind and their supporters. He was a boat rocker. The sum of hope was to be adjusted and popular. The blind were "clients" of the agencies who took what was given unquestioningly and thankfully without a why or wherefore and did as they were told to do.
It was a time when telephones, subways, Western Union, electric power and the U.S. mails worked. John Kennedy was the youngest President and when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," the youthful idealists responded and flocked to the Peace Corps in large numbers. Since his martyrdom in 1963, the bombs dropped on the villages, the cops began beating the kids on the head while the kids threw bottles at the cops. The Rudd Guards sprang up drawing its radicalism from the "System's" violence in Vietnam and then claimed to be driven to revolutionary violence of its own, and as an act of revolution, turned upon the liberal universities.
Ours was the first group to experience the end of the just war against the scourge of Hitler Nazism as a romantic possibility. There are no justifications for group violence in this country--no outlets for idealistic courage, and the decent human war. And there aren't likely to be any. Atomic weaponry technology has made the stakes too high. The Vietnam colonial, imperialist war was a complete break in moral terms. The Establishment lifted the vocabulary of the just war in the name of the free world to Vietnam and was caught in a lie that could not work despite Johnson's Wax. Radicalism lifted the same vocabulary and turned it in the name of revolution against the System, where it does not work either. The nihilists who throw bombs and plant explosives are destroyers and makers of shambles; they are wreckers, not creators.
Still when a term like violence mutates from 1945 Auschwitz to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, from 1945 A-bombing in Hiroshima to 1970 napalm in Danang, the System has improved. Terribly and with stumbling, but improved. And there were those like Chick tenBroek who pushed themselves and their Hazels to the uttermost physical and cerebral limits for every inch of that improvement. They didn't throw bombs. They didn't lake over the agencies. They organized themselves as free men in a democratic society of the blind, by the blind, for the blind, to determine their own destiny and to fight for their right as free men to achieve equality and first class citizenship and to lead normal lives that give fulfillment to talents, abilities and personalities.
Now as we face the future under continuing able and dedicated leadership, we address ourselves to the unfinished tasks before us to bequeath to our posterity in the third millenium A.D. a better world for all and particularly for the full rights of the blind to achieve the American promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Back to Contents
by Samuel K. Wolff
The New York City Triboro Chapter of the NFB solves problems it can deal with practically, for it must take into account the full time employment of most of its members. One member was refused entrance into the city's private and public swimming pools because she could not see. This was a direct violation of the law passed by Mayor John V. Lindsay's administration in January of 1969 which made discrimination against the disabled illegal. The chapter made a test case of the issue and decided, by forcing it to its logical conclusion, to open the pools in New York City to the blind.
Exercising his right of access to public information, the president of the chapter obtained a copy of the law from the Mayor's office; from the Department of Health he obtained a list of parties responsible for running swimming pools in the city. It was hoped that the following letter, addressed to the president of the discriminatory corporation, would force him to take a favorable position.
October 19, 1969
Dear Mr. F ____:
I asked a manager at your health club for an application for membership, and questioned him as to the costs of belonging to your public facility. I was denied information as to the costs and denied an application I presume because I am blind.
For your information, I am enclosing a copy of the New York City Code, as amended, which indicates that there was an illegal withholding of membership to a citizen of New York City, where such discrimination against the blind is now illegal.
I am certain, after reading the law and being made aware of this illegal behavior on the part of your corporation, you will forward a membership application and not flagrantly violate the City Code and perpetrate a discriminatory practice.
I look forward to receipt of a membership application to your club, with equal status of all other members within seven business days, in order to avoid the unpleasantness of a public disclosure and formal action to protect my civil rights.
Samuel K. Wolff, President
N.Y.C. Chapter, NFB
The pool manager was more willing to give out information regarding membership when he had received instruction from the owner of the pool. With an icy reception that was shot full of sarcasm, the manager produced a contract identical in content with any other member's. With the passage of time the manager and staff became less hostile and less anxious as to how a blind person can function. This precedent established by the New York City Chapter of the NFB helped educate the public about the blind and made blind New Yorkers free to use city and private pools when they desire to swim.
Back to Contents
by Sam Earle
[Reprinted from The Trentonian, (Trenton, New Jersey).]
The coffee shop in the New Jersey Motor Vehicle building will soon be replaced by vending machines on every floor, and the space it now occupies will be taken up by a new computer, according to Ronald Heymann, division director. But the move will meet some stiff opposition from the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind, according to Robert Owens, who works for the concession and its manager, Arthur Linsinbigler. Both men are blind--Owens can see up to 20 feet, which means he is "legally blind." Linsinbigler is totally blind.
Heyman said neither would be out of a job but did not give details.
The concession was negotiated for and set up by the state commission, a state and federally funded organization, then turned over to Linsinbigler. Owens is not buying the computer story, and neither is Edward Sierzega, commission director in charge of vending stands, who met with Heymann Wednesday. The computer--an IBM 360-40--has been in storage for a year, Heymann said. Plans reportedly also are in the works for a new motor vehicle building within a year. "They haven't been using it (the computer) for a year," Sierzega said, "why can't they wait? ... Or why can't they find other space?"
Heymann claimed the building at 25 South Montgomery Street is designed to hold 500 employees and is now occupied by some 950 persons. "That's the way things are everywhere," Sierzega jabbed.
Owens said he has been hearing rumors for more than a year to the effect his coffee shop was to be eliminated. He said he had tried at least three times to make an appointment with Heymann to "discuss the rumors but was headed off” by the director's personal secretary. Heymann, however, claimed he has always had an "open door policy ... I'd be happy to talk with him."
Owens had more to say about vending machines--aside from losing his job. The shop now sells coffee, doughnuts, fresh sandwiches, cold drinks, milk, ice cream, potato chips, pretzels, candy, cookies, other pastries and cigarettes. Carts are wheeled from office to office, he said, and customers also come into the first floor shop. "Everybody knows what you get out of a machine," Owens said. To match the variety he now provides, Owens estimated it would take at least eight machines. Heymann said he planned to have "full-line" vending on every floor. There are seven floors. This means, according to Owen's figures, some 56 vending machines would have to be installed. New wiring, which Owens estimated would cost $4,000, would have to be put in to handle the electrical load, he said. Owens and Linsinbigler also serve the division of Pensions building next door. Heymann did not mention any plans for that building.
So far, Sierzga said, "there is no formal threat to the business."
When there is, he predicted, "We'll answer it fast enough... and you can believe it will be negatively."
Back to Contents
by Captain H.J.M. Desai
Hon. Secretary, National Association for the Blind
[Editor's Note: The following article reflects current attitudes in Indian rehabilitation and was published in Blind Welfare, the publication of the National Association for the Blind, Bombay, India.]
The concept of rehabilitation is of comparatively recent origin. The concept mainly developed during World War II. When the war was at its peak, hospitals were saddled with large numbers of more severely disabled people requiring prolonged medical attention. However, the physical condition of these patients was such that simultaneously with medical treatment, they could be usefully trained and helped in their rehabilitation. The minimum time required for hospitalization was also fruitfully utilised in evaluating the patient, assessing his medical and rehabilitation needs and initiating him in training aimed to lead to his ultimate and total rehabilitation. Thus while treatment was continuing, the patient was adjusted to his disability and assisted to regain normalcy. This approach of developing rehabilitation services simultaneously with medical treatment soon caught the eye and began to be increasingly resorted to.
The tremendous social and economic costs of disability as a major cause of dependency were increasingly recognised. The miracles of modern rehabilitation were before the people. It was known that by modern methods of rehabilitation, the total needs of the disabled would be met and they could be substantially assisted in regaining their rightful place and status in the general community life. Thus, World War II provided tremendous impetus to the rehabilitation movement.
For pioneering work in developing programs of physical treatment and rehabilitation as understood now, great credit goes to Dr. Howard A. Rusk and Dr. Henry H. Kessler. They mainly demonstrated two things. Firstly, how excellent results could be achieved through comprehensive individualised services. Secondly, that few men are so disabled that they cannot learn to use their remaining capacities in some kind of work.
TYPES OF CENTRES
In the initial stages, most of the Centres were essentially medically oriented. The experiment of introducing vocational rehabilitation during the medical treatment period succeeded so well that gradually comprehensive vocationally oriented centres developed. A little later, the community rehabilitation centres, with emphasis on specialised services for specialised needs, developed.
NEED FOR REHABILITATION:
It is accepted that the basic needs of the disabled as regards food, clothing, shelter, education, employment and normal family and social life are the same as those of the seeing.
Since the basic needs do not differ, it is essential that they are developed physically, mentally, vocationally and socially to take their rightful place in society.
Hitherto, the attitude of society towards the disabled was mainly negative; attitudes of pity, charity and misguided sympathy. For example, in the case of the blind, it was believed that with the loss of vision, all avenues of acquiring knowledge were lost. The negative attitude of the family members and the society generally were supplemented by the equally negative attitude of some of the clients themselves. This worsened the position. It is imperative that the clients are, from the earliest stages, guided to adopt correct attitudes and approaches towards their own disability. Unless we motivate them to develop very positive attitudes, not much can come of rehabilitation training. Success in motivating the clients and developing in them positive attitudes means half the battle won at the very initial stage itself.
The objective should therefore be to restore the client to the fullest normalcy and ability. All programs are geared to assist the client to develop his total personality. Not only is the physical disability treated, but everything possible is done to treat the emotional, mental or social handicaps, if any. With wise guidance and counselling and with proper training, he regains his rightful place in society, both economically and socially.
To make the disabled person normal and productive is the main objective of rehabilitation. With this view in mind, the immediate and long term objectives should be clearly defined. The immediate objective of the rehabilitation centre is to assist the client in adjusting to his handicap and restoring his shattered confidence. In this process, acquiring proficiency in self care, especially in the techniques of daily living, is the most important. The ultimate objective is to provide open and remunerative employment and a normal family and social life.
In the process, limitations imposed by the disability have got to be accepted fully. Every endeavor is made to develop the residual abilities. In the case of the blind, for example, the residual abilities are developed through the remaining senses of touch, smell, hearing, taste and by developing the client's memory and concentration.
METHODOLOGY IN REHABILITATION OF THE BLIND:
Loss of vision is not the only loss consequent to blindness. The loss of independence, the loss of mobility, the loss of skills of communications, the loss of skills in the techniques of daily living, the loss of total personality, all have to be fully accepted and overcome by modern rehabilitation training.
The rehabilitation process not only shows the way for gradually overcoming the losses referred to, but builds up the shattered confidence of the clients.
From the referral and the intake stage to the final "follow on" visits and ultimate resettlement, all stages are most important and need sympathetic understanding and scientific treatment.
Wise guidance and counselling at the very initial stage is of the utmost importance. The client has to be made fully aware of his own abilities and disabilities and made to recognise and accept his handicap.
Initial scientific evaluation and assessment helps in planning the immediate rehabilitation as also the ultimate resettlement of the client. Modern methods encourage joint planning and evaluation with representatives of a very wide variety of community agencies.
In rehabilitation, the individualised training of clients as also planning their immediate and long term training and resettlement has to be given the greatest importance. Each individual's problem and goals are different. It is accepted that every individual is a unique person with a unique problem. Generalising has, therefore, to be discarded in favour of specialised and individualised planning and training.
The team concept whereby the multidisciplinary approach is furthered has to be adopted. Medical, psychological, social and vocational treatment and training have all to receive equal importance. If one is emphasised in preference to another, the treatment of the client as a whole will not be successful. It is therefore imperative that integrated and individualised services are developed with a view to developing the total personality of the client.
The human dignity of the blind individual has always to be borne in mind. The earlier the client is motivated to better efforts and guided to correct attitudes and approaches, the earlier will he achieve total and satisfying rehabilitation.
The medical authorities, the psychologists and the psychiatrists, the professional social workers, the vocational guidance counselors and the client himself, all have very major and vital roles to play in the total psycho-social and economic rehabilitation of the client.
It is to be recognised that the client will always come up with new emotional as also other problems. "Follow on" services, keeping in close touch with the client are, therefore, a must.
The goal should not be only economic resettlement, but the happy resettlement of the client in normal family social life. With this view in mind, it is essential to solve their housing and other problems satisfactorily.
Once the client clearly recognises his own abilities and disabilities, accepts his handicap, knows the limitations imposed by the handicap, develops right attitudes and approaches, is motivated in the right direction and assists the expert rehabilitation team, success is assured. The principles and methods employed in rehabilitation programs have been embodied at India's first full-fledged Rehabilitation Centre for the Blind at Mt. Abu. This is the Pheroze and Noshir Merwanji Rehabilitation Centre for the Blind.
Back to Contents
In March of this year the House Ways and Means Committee reported out its version of the President's proposed Family Assistance Program and the House passed the bill on April 16 as H.R. 16311. It was then sent to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. After just three days of hearings, and in an unprecedented action, the Senate Finance Committee referred the bill back to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to devise an overall plan for welfare reform which would recognize the contributions made by other aid programs such as public housing, food stamps, rent supplements, and so on. It was also the view of the Committee that monetary incentives for able-bodied individuals to reduce or quit gainful employment in order to qualify for larger welfare benefits should be ended. The Committee felt that the Family Assistance Plan continued these disincentives to self-help. It is expected that the Secretary of HEW will report back to the Committee in about thirty days, at which time hearings will be continued. It looks as though this proposed legislation may be debated for a long time by the Congress.
Assembly Bill 347 was introduced into the California Legislature to exempt the purchase price for white canes from the State sales tax. The United States flag was incorporated into the bill as another exemption from the sales tax; then the bill was still further amended to exempt Bibles and Mother’s Day cards from the levy.
Recently a blind student at London's Royal National Institute for the Blind demonstrated the use of a pair of ultrasonic spectacles which he claimed helped him 'see' by bouncing echoes off of objects. The student walked rapidly along a crowded street and was able to distinguish an iron fence from a walk, and a lamp post from a mailbox through differences in sound.
Nearly four out of five states are in apparent violation of Federal Welfare requirements, according to a report released by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Some thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have apparent violations or unresolved issues concerning compliance with Federal regulations, acts of Congress, or Supreme Court decisions. Issues involved range from states failing to adjust payment standards as required by law to more minor questions as to practices. An additional ten states have issues involving other social and rehabilitation programs. West Virginia was the only State with no questions about compliance in any of its social and rehabilitation programs.
Mrs. Marcelle Cowburn, former Rehabilitation Officer of the World Veterans Federation, has been appointed Secretary-General of the W.C.W.B. She succeeds John Jarvis, who has been Secretary-General since 1959 and recently resigned to devote full time to his work at the Royal National Institute for the Blind.
The Library of Congress, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, has recently issued an informative brochure entitled That All May Read. It discusses in clear language such pertinent subjects as eligibility for the service, certification, regional libraries, selection, talking book records, magnetic tape, Braille, music, volunteers, technical improvements, and publications and information. Copies may be obtained from the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20542.
Public demand for Food Stamps has grown tremendously as the result of new, more generous tables of issuance which provide each household with a larger amount of Food Stamps at a lower cost. Persons approved for public assistance automatically receive Food Stamp authorization cards.
The South Carolina Aurora Club of the Blind successfully sponsored an amendment to the appropriations bill for the South Carolina Department of Public Welfare which provides specifically that the amount appropriated for Aid to the Blind shall not be diverted or otherwise transferred and used for any other purpose. The Club also secured passage of a new law which provides that the spouse of a blind individual may render assistance in voting. If no spouse is available, the blind person can be assisted by one of the managers of the precinct and a bystander.
Drugs ordinarily used to treat cancer have been used to subdue serious eye inflammations after other treatments have failed, according to a senior investigator for the National Institutes of Health. Some of the results have been dramatic in cases of severe and prolonged inflammation. The drugs have also been able to control rejection of corneal transplants.
James T. Walsh reports that the Liberty Alliance (formerly called the Liberty Chapter) of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind recently held its second seminar. The topic was: "Should Pennsylvania Have a Commission for the Blind to Serve the Blind People of the Commonwealth?" Speakers included William Murray, Director of the Blind Center in York County, Pennsylvania; Dr. Leon Read, Director of the Greater Pittsburg Guild for the Blind; John Mungovan, Director of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind; Ralph Beistline, Consultant in the present State agency for the blind and physically handicapped. The NFB Washington representative, the "Patrick Henry" of the movement, John Nagle, deplored fragmentation of services and vividly described the benefits that could accrue to blind Pennsylvanians under a Commission. After the speakers, the audience participated in a lively discussion. The Seminar concluded with Pennsylvania Federationists giving a resounding approval to a resolution to pursue the creation of a Commission for the Blind in the Commonwealth.
Some 34,000 Americans become blind each year, estimates the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness. There already are almost half a million blind persons in our nation today. Cataract and glaucoma are the leading causes of blindness. There are an estimated 22,636,000 preschool-age children in the United States today and one in every twenty is affected by some serious vision problem which usually can be corrected if discovered and treated before school age. An estimated 12,670,000 school children are in need of some form of eye care.
Rubella is a relatively mild disease of children, but a serious problem for women who contract the disease during early pregnancy. The rubella epidemic of 1964 is estimated to have caused 50,000 abnormal pregnancies, with some 20,000 babies born with birth defects. More than seven million children have been vaccinated against rubella since June of 1969. It is estimated by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare that by the fall of this year one-half of the target population of forty million children will have been reached.
States with Medicaid plans will soon be required to set up regular programs under which medical teams will review the appropriateness and adequacy of care being given Medicaid patients in nursing homes and mental hospitals and ascertain the need for continuing such care. The proposed regulations will require that patients receive complete medical evaluations before they are admitted to nursing homes or mental hospitals under Medicaid or, if they are already there, before Medicaid payments are authorized. These imminent requirements are part of an effort on the part of the Federal Government to find ways to stop the spiraling costs of the program, a subject in which the Congress is also deeply interested and will soon enact legislation tightening up the whole program.
Four years ago Robert G. Porter was denied service in a restaurant because of his guide dog. The blind man won a superior court suit against the restaurant. Tiny Naylor-Virgil's, a restaurant in Los Angeles, was ordered to pay the forty-one-year-old Porter $250 for violation of his civil rights. Porter testified that late on the night of October 19, 1966, he was ordered out of the restaurant by employees who were not acquainted with the guide dog exception to the California health law barring dogs from restaurants.
The Illinois Congress of the Blind has announced the publication of a new monthly newsletter which was begun in January of this year. It is called The Month's News and its editor is Rami Rabby. News items should be sent to the editor, 1611 Chicago Avenue. Evanston, Illinois 60201.
Mrs. Lucille Hitt writes that Compoz, a preparation for nerves and composure, contains a warning on its label which might be ignored because of the small print. The warning says that the product is dangerous for those with glaucoma, a condition which often exists for some time before it is detected. The warning is not included in the frequently aired television commercial.
Cosmetic workshops for the blind, developed by the American Foundation for the Blind and Helena Rubenstein and designed to teach blind women to put on makeup correctly, have been held in Dallas, Little Rock, Daytona Beach, and Chicago this spring. "Although a woman can't see," said Miss Mavis Shickell, chief makeup technician for Helena Rubenstein and workshop leader, "she responds to beauty and enjoys feeling beautiful. It is equally important for blind women, as for sighted, to have the confidence that comes from a nice appearance. With training and practice there is no reason a blind woman can't pluck her own eyebrows, apply mascara and even don false eyelashes." Miss Shickell calls the method "facial touch geography" and it involves learning by touch the contours, textures and basic cleansing patterns for the face. Careful organization is one of the elements of this method, including the arrangement of the cosmetics in a fixed order to which they are returned after use. Products such as squeeze bottles and powders in sticks are chosen for their mildness and ease of application. A blind woman should never use loose powder. Miss Shickell notes. "This cosmetic routine gives blind women the joy of independence," she says. "It's a wonderful morale booster for women who have never been able to use cosmetics without help from others."
For the first time it rained during the serving of the annual barbecue supper of the Columbia Chapter of the South Carolina Aurora Club. However, the rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of well over two thousand Columbians who visited the Aurora Center of the Blind on Thursday, March 19. Tickets were distributed at the Columbia Chapter's Valentine party and 2707 tickets were sold. The club's net profit was $2010.05, which assures an excellent financial basis for the club's activities during the coming year. The chapter voted $800 of these funds to the Aurora Center's expansion program. Because the barbecue supper is a membership effort the entire club has had a part in the Center's expansion program. The participating public received club literature detailing the ways the proceeds are used in the club's work.
Back to Contents