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)
NFB OFFICERS AND BOARD MEMBERS
BLINDNESS--THE MYTH AND THE IMAGE
by Kenneth Jernigan
REPORT OF THE CORRESPONDENTS COMMITTEE
by Xena E. Johnson
STATE AND LOCAL AFFILIATES: VIEWPOINT OF AN ATTORNEY
by James Omvig
REPORT ON NATIONAL CENTER FOR DEAF-BLIND YOUTHS AND ADULTS
by Peter J. Salmon
MEET OUR STATE PRESIDENT--RUSSELL GETZ
AND OUR STATE AFFILIATE--INDIANA
BLIND DOCTOR HEADS BREA HOSPITAL
WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA CHAPTERS MEET
by William G. Corey
DENTAL INSURANCE MAY HAVE BIG GROWTH
by Patrick Young
BLIND WOMAN BEATS HANDICAP
by Sidney Gruber
SO THAT THE BLIND MAY COOK
by Pearl Ottenheimer
A THOUGHTFUL READER'S RESPONSE
A JOB THE HARD WAY
A TEACHER OF TEACHERS
by William M. Kapp
THE ROLE OF THE BLIND IN ZAMBIA
by Kapisha Kamangala
524 Fourth Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Donald C. Capps
Franklin Van Vliet
Dr. Mae Davidow
(Mrs.) Nellie Hargrove
(Miss) Anita O'Shea
Dr. Isabelle L.D. Grant
Dr. Jacob Freid
Back to Contents
The largest gathering concerned with blindness ever held in the world was the annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from July 4 to July 7, 1970. Let the record speak for itself! Even the weather cooperated with temperatures in the 70's. As with recent NFB National Conventions, People, Purpose, and Program combined to make of this year's conclave a truly outstanding event.
More than 1,250 men, women, and children converged on the Twin Cities from all parts of the United States and from foreign countries. This created problems, delightful ones—-with ever-expanding facilities being pressed into service to accommodate the crowds. However, the host affiliates, the Minnesota Organization of the Blind and the United Blind of Minnesota, were equal to the challenges. The delegates and their friends filled to capacity the huge Hall of States in the Leamington Hotel for the general business sessions. As usual most people arrived two days ahead of time and there was much jolly greeting of old friends and meeting of new ones.
A sense of unity, of community interest, pervaded all of the meetings--a quiet but obvious determination that nothing could or would stay the organized blind in their sure progress toward a better day for sightless persons everywhere.
The President's Report which has come to be a Convention highlight began with a silent tribute to those affiliate presidents and past presidents who died during the past twelve months. The sad roll included the names of Tom Gronning, immediate past president of the Washington State Association of the Blind; Alfonso Smith, president of the Ohio Council and a member of the Executive Committee of the NFB; Eulassee Hardenbergh, president of the Alabama affiliate and one-time secretary of the NFB; Francis Flanagan, president of the Connecticut affiliate; Bill Hogan, past president of the Connecticut group and a long-time member of the NFB Executive Committee; and Clyde Ross, formerly president of the Ohio Council and also a member of the Executive Committee for many years.
The President then reviewed in detail the action-packed preceding twelve months. On the fiscal front the organization achieved complete victory in the tax payment problem after a rigorous audit of its transactions by the Internal Revenue Service. The organization can continue to operate in its tax-exempt status since its income is related to its charitable purposes and all gifts made to it are tax-deductible. The FEDCO Corporation is now totally owned by the NFB, the purchase price of half a million dollars having been paid in full. Last fall the Board of Directors of FEDCO (which consists of the elected officers of the NFB) purchased a controlling interest in a plastics company, Nu-Mode, for $450,000. Already $200,000 has been paid of this purchase. This spring the new company, which will diversify to produce more income, survived in spite of the general economic woes which grip the country. Details of bequests from three estates, totaling some $66,000, were given and some $80,000 was added to the Jacobus tenBroek Endowment Fund.
The President reported on the continued phenomenal growth in the distribution of The Braille Monitor in each of its three editions--inkprint, Braille, and record. Additional copies of the twenty-nine-minute NFB film are now available from the Berkeley Office.
On the organizational front, two new State affiliates were brought into being, North Carolina and Oregon, and the Michigan affiliate was re-organized at its request. A variety of court actions were pursued in behalf of blind persons. A comprehensive Survey and Evaluation of Programs for the Blind in the State of Hawaii was carried out at the request of the State's House of Representatives and the Report was duly filed. Our Disability Insurance Bill for the Blind is moving. The International Federation of the Blind held its first full-scale convention last fall with participation by the NFB. John Nagle, Chief of the Washington Office, received the American Foundation for the Blind's Migel Medal. He has appeared in a variety of cases as attorney for blind persons as well as carrying on his regular activities.
The President concluded his report by stating that the year ahead will be difficult and will necessitate belt tightening. However, we are planning for a further expansion of the circulation of The Braille Monitor, the organization of new state affiliates, and other activities. The President stressed the urgency of maintaining the present momentum with its sense of purpose and dedication to the cause of self-organization of the blind.
Nine hundred and thirty persons--another new record--attended the banquet held on Sunday evening, July 6. John Taylor of Iowa served as the capable Master of Ceremonies. Guests included several members of the Minnesota Legislature. Congressman Clark MacGregor and Congressman Donald Fraser, both of Minnesota, addressed the multitude. Charters of affiliation were presented to the presidents of the Michigan, North Carolina, and Oregon affiliates. The Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship awards totaling $1,550 were presented by Mr. Allen Jenkins of California, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, to seven blind college students.
President Kenneth Jernigan delivered the banquet address. An enthusiastic standing ovation greeted his introduction. Mr. Jernigan's theme was that blindness should be recognized for what it is, a physical nuisance not an overwhelming tragedy. He said, "Everything which we are and which we have become rises up to give the lie to the disaster concept of blindness." "It is we who are demanding that we be called by our rightful and true names: names such as competent, normal and equal. We do not object to being known as blind, for that is what we are. What we protest is that we are not also known as people, for we are that, too." President Jernigan criticised some professionals who work with the blind and some members of the public for viewing blindness as a disaster. He cited many instances of people displaying condescending attitudes toward blind people and treating them as "patients". "How are we to reply to these prophets of gloom and doom, who cry havoc and have nothing to offer us but whistles in the dark? ... the simplest and most effective argument comes from our own experience as blind people.... We are now functioning in all of the various professions, trades and callings of the regular community." President Jernigan illustrated his speech by ridiculing advertisements for aids to the blind including that for an "emergency whistle" and one for a special "uniform" for blind persons. The mention of the advertisements brought laughter from the audience. The assumption of these advertisements was that the tragic plight of the blind is such that they can't do anything without the aid of mechanical devices. President Jernigan urged the Federation to push for integration and equality for blind people. "Blind people are normal people who can not see.... there are none so blind as those who will not see this simple truth." [The full text of the President's address is printed elsewhere in this issue of The Monitor.]
Hazel (Mrs. Jacobus) tenBroek gave the Report from the Berkeley Office. She received a standing ovation when she was introduced by the President. Mrs. tenBroek stated that the main function of the Berkeley Office was that of a communications center. She gave details of the huge volume of materials sent out by the NFB during the past year. To complicate the lives of those in the Berkeley Office, one-third of the thousands on the mailing lists move each year and, oddly enough, this fact is discovered in ninety percent of the cases by notification not from the individual concerned but from the post office. There were 189 presidential releases in 1969. Mrs. tenBroek pointed out that the NFB now has forty-four state affiliates in forty-three states, yet only sixteen have newsletters.
Dr. Jacob Freid, Executive Director of the Jewish Braille Institute of America, presented a paper on the Duty of the Blind Intellectual in a Time of Crisis. "All other men do what they may for freedom and against injustices," Dr. Freid said, "It is the supreme reward of the blind intellectual that he can transcend the conditions of passion and unreason. Given courage, therefore, he has the assurance of the ultimate victory. For, as no other man, he goes out to fight in the clear light of day. For the blind intellectual has, as all of us in the NFB have, the glory of being front-line soldiers in the liberation war for all humanity."
Equality of opportunity and the absolute right of achieved status was the subject of a paper by Dr. Clara Kanun, Director of Research at the University of Minnesota.
On Sunday afternoon Mr. Carl Schier, an attorney in Southfield, Michigan, reviewed three legal cases involving discrimination against blind persons and his efforts in the courts in their behalf. Two of these cases involve blind teachers who were dismissed by the school authorities before they could gain tenure, even though their work had been quite satisfactory during the probationary period. The third case involves a blind person who was refused the right to apply for a civil service position. With attorneys like Carl Schier, blind or sighted, at the legal barricades the way will be made easier for blind persons in their continuous struggle against prejudice.
Mr. M. Robert Barnett, Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind, said that the blind have been victims of bad advertising for 5,000 years. He urged all of us, as we approach die next century, to do what we can to change this. Barnett stated that many organizations purportedly serving the blind knowingly or otherwise perpetuate this bad advertising.
James Gashel, president of the National Federation of the Blind Student Division, told the Convention of the progress and plans of the more youthful segment of the movement.
President Kenneth Jernigan presented a paper which discussed the disturbing trend toward total obliteration of separate agencies for the blind and spelled out the necessity for vigorous action to try to stem this tide before we are all engulfed in super agencies. [The July issue of The Braille Monitor carried the full text of this most timely warning, entitled "The Separate Agency for the Blind--Why and Where".]
An interesting panel on the subject of organizing activities and new affiliates was presented. The panel was ably chaired by Don Capps of South Carolina and included Lawrence Marcelino of California, Clarence Collins, president of the North Carolina affiliate, Miss Evelyn Weckerly, president of the Michigan affiliate, and Harvey Twombley, president of the Oregon affiliate. The audience was given a graphic picture of the trials, tribulations, and successes of the NFB organizing teams.
One exciting aspect of Minnesota's programs for the blind was brought out on Monday morning by C. Stanley Potter, Director of Services for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, and three members of his staff. Details were given concerning Minnesota's innovative radio program. The agency sponsors some seventeen hours daily of broadcasting news, fiction, and educational materials over a special frequency on the FM band. A very high pitch is used and is picked up by blind persons equipped with special receivers supplied by the agency.
That session concluded with two papers on the status of workshops for the blind. Speakers were Robert D. Moran, Administrator of the Wage and Hour division of the U.S. Department of Labor, and Robert C. Goodpasture, Executive Vice-President of National Industries for the Blind. Mr. Moran stated that sheltered workshops presented a dismal picture with respect to violations of fair wage provisions and promised that the law will be vigorously enforced. Mr. Goodpasture believes that some scheme for wage supplement should be devised for those multiply-handicapped blind workers in sheltered shops.
"The Federation in the World" was the feature of Tuesday morning's session. The panel consisted of Dr. Isabelle L.D. Grant of the United States; Alemu Checole of Ethiopia; Nadia Pyndiah of the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean; and E.V. Joseph of India. Each of the foreign visitors spoke with concern about conditions of the blind in his or her country. In Ethiopia there are 1400 members of the Association of the Blind. The entire population of Mauritius is less than one million, so there are fewer blind persons but those have their problems. In India there are five million blind, one-third of the world's total blind population.
Peter Salmon, Director of the National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults, reviewed the new provisions being made for this group, and Robert Dantona, Coordinator for Centers and Services for deaf-blind children in the Department of HEW told of the progress being made to provide real help to these long-neglected people.
Tuesday morning's session concluded with a most interesting and practical presentation on the subject of financing an affiliate, presented by Phil Houghtelin, Chairman of the Special Committee on Finance, Minnesota Organization of the Blind. Mr. Houghtelin not only described in detail his successful plan of securing contributions from foundations, but actually prepared and gave to each state affiliate a brailled list of foundations in each state. This involved a tremendous amount of work and all who must deal with fundraising will be most grateful.
On Tuesday afternoon Jim Omvig, of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, presented an outstanding paper on "State and Local Affiliates: the Viewpoint of an Attorney". After sketching the activities of the NFB, Jim dealt with such things as incorporation of state and local affiliates; are they compelled to pay taxes; the dissolution clause; tax returns and tax-deductible contributions to organizations; and licensing of fundraising activities. This paper was so packed full of concrete suggestions and explanations that it is printed in full elsewhere in this issue.
Bonifacio Yturbide of California reported on the formal organization of the blind lawyers group of the NFB. He outlined a number of proposed projects designed to assist students and lawyers alike. The Convention went on record as giving full support to this effort.
Manuel Urena served as the chairman of a hard-working committee which did an excellent job in drafting some nine resolutions which were adopted by the Convention. Full texts of these resolutions will be found elsewhere in this issue of The Monitor.
Legislation in the 91st Congress
John Nagle, Chief of the Washington Office, gave his usual vigorous presentation of NFB-sponsored bills in the current Congress. A run-down of this pending legislation was printed in the June, 1970 issue of The Braille Monitor. John stressed the importance of pending amendments to the Wagner-O'Day Act concerning the purchase of blind-made products by the Government, and the proposed amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act governing vending stand operations. John discussed the House of Representatives' version of the NFB-sponsored Disability Insurance for the Blind bill. The House decided to eliminate the requirement of twenty out of the last forty quarters of covered employment for blind persons to be eligible for cash disability benefits. As a result, blind persons who are fully insured and who are not engaged in substantial gainful activity will be eligible for cash benefits. Nagle pointed out that the NFB would press hard in the Senate for provisions incorporating all of the features of the Burke Bill and spoke of the House action as giving us "crumbs". The President of the NFB reminded John that these were rather expensive "crumbs" since the Government estimates that some 30,000 blind persons will be made eligible for disability cash benefits costing some $25 million the first year. During the course of his report, Nagle asked Perry Sundquist to give the details of the pending Family Assistance Plan and the proposed 1970 Amendments to the Social Security Act. After John concluded, some 2,000 copies of the Presidential Proclamation on the White Cane were distributed. [The full text of this Proclamation is given elsewhere in this issue of The Monitor.]
This being the even year, elections were held for all of the officers and five members of the Executive Committee (the usual four plus the filling of a vacancy caused by the death of Al Smith of Ohio). The Nominating Committee held its meeting on Saturday evening, July 4, ably chaired by Marshall Tucker of South Carolina. Bob Whitehead of Kentucky, who has served as Chairman of the Nominating Committee for the past several years, was unable to come due to illness but he and his wife Lillian sent a telegram of greetings to the Convention. Each of the forty-three states named a representative to the committee. Eloquent testimony to the unity of purpose and determination to continue the NFB's sweep forward was given by the fact that the Nominating Committee unanimously endorsed candidates for each of the five positions of the officers. Kenneth Jernigan was nominated for President; Donald C. Capps of South Carolina for First Vice-President: Harold Reagan of Kentucky for Second Vice-President; Lawrence (Muzzy) Marcelino of California for Secretary; and Franklin Van Vliet of New Hampshire for Treasurer. Mae Davidow of Pennsylvania, Ned Graham of Maryland, and Manuel Urena of Iowa were nominated for re-election for two-year terms on the Executive Committee. William Dwyer of New York was nominated for the fourth two-year term and Anita O'Shea of Massachusetts was nominated to fill the unexpired term of the late Al Smith. The elections were held Sunday morning. Kenneth Jernigan of Iowa was elected by acclamation as were Don Capps, Harold Reagan, Lawrence Marcelino, Franklin Van Vliet, Anita O'Shea, Mae Davidow, and Ned Graham. Both Manuel Urena and Bill Dwyer were elected by overwhelming majorities. The Convention elected as members of the Board of Directors Dr. Jacob Freid, Executive Director of the Jewish Braille Institute of America and long known as an aggressive champion of the organized blind; James Gashel, president of the NFB Student Division and this past school year a successful teacher in Minnesota's public schools; and Dr. Isabelle L.D. Grant of California, the Ambassador-at-large of America's organized blind to the blind of other countries. President Jernigan was named delegate to the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind. The NFB is entitled to six votes in the International Federation of the Blind. Three delegates to the IFB were elected: Kenneth Jernigan, Dr. Isabelle Grant, and Anthony G. Mannino of California.
The FEDCO Corporation
The General Manager of FEDCO, the wholly-owned subsidiary of the NFB, Bernard Gerchen, addressed the Convention, giving in some detail facts concerning the operation of FEDCO during the past year. He was most enthusiastically received by the delegates.
Exhibits were displayed during the entire Convention and this year there was a greater variety which may account for the crowds which visited the display rooms. The new electric Perkins brailler, not yet on the market, was shown. Also there was a brand new radio and television receiver with braille markings on the dials and settings.
Devotional services were held preceding the general sessions on Santurday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings. These services were non-sectarian in nature and were well attended.
Revision of Constitution
Last fall the Executive Committee was appointed as a Constitutional Revision Committee and did a thorough job of examining every section of every article. The constitution had been amended several times in the past, usually in times of stress, but no over all consideration had been given to it. The Constitutional Revision Committee, through President Jernigan, made its report on Sunday morning and continued the discussion by starting the Monday morning session an hour early. There was broad discussion on the proposal with wide participation by the delegates. On Tuesday morning a roll call vote of the states was taken and the new constitution was adopted by an overwhelming vote. A substantive change was the incorporation into the constitution of pertinent portions of the Code of Affiliate Standards. Deleted was the provision that Robert's Rules of Order shall govern parliamentary procedure. Proxy voting is prohibited in state and local affiliates. Each state shall pay annual dues of $30 irrespective of its size. After a searching review, Article by Article, the Convention adopted the new constitution. The full text of the new document is printed in this issue of The Monitor.
The first major event of the Convention occurred on Friday morning, July 3, with the meeting of the Executive Committee. The meeting was open to all who cared to attend, and several hundred did. Convention arrangements were discussed and there was a general review of the past year's activities. Reports of the standing committees dealing with the financial condition of the Federation were presented to the Convention on Tuesday afternoon, July 7. Anthony C. Mannino, National White Cane Chairman, gave a brief but stimulating report on continued progress in this area of fundraising and education of the public. Lawrence Marcelino, Chairman of the Jacobus tenBroek Endowment Fund, reported that investments in the Fund had now surpassed the two hundred thousand dollar mark, being $211,664. Perry Sundquist, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Budget and Finance of the Executive Committee, detailed receipts and expenditures for the calendar year 1969 and for the first five months of 1970, indicating a continued rise in the steady financial climb of the Federation. He sounded a note of caution, however, pointing out that strikes, shortage of supplies, and the general economic slowdown would take their toll in income to the Federation in 1970.
The Membership Committee and the Correspondents Committee met Friday afternoon, July 3. The Student Division and the Blind Merchants met that evening. The Teachers' Meeting and the Blind Lawyers' Meeting were held Saturday evening. The White Cane Luncheon was held Sunday noon. All of these special interest groups are finding their meetings increasingly popular with those attending annual Conventions.
It is estimated that upward of three hundred door prizes were drawn, totaling several thousand dollars in value. The prizes ranged all the way from wallets and transistor radios, through grab bags filled with goodies, to $100 bills, an electric typewriter, and a hi-fi stereo set. Each morning's general session was opened with the drawing for a crisp $100 bill, so there was no problem in securing prompt and full attendance. Manuel Urena served as Master of Prizes, most capably assisted by his wife Patricia.
At the Columbia, South Carolina, Convention last year the delegates voted by a very narrow margin to hold the 1972 Convention in Hawaii. During the past year several had second thoughts on this decision. A full discussion was held as to the additional cost involved to those who wished to attend the 1972 Convention and it was regretfully voted to rescind the action. This left the site for 1972 open and Colorado was the overwhelming choice. Both the State of Washington and Illinois bid for the 1973 Convention and Illinois won by the close vote of 21 to 18.
Monday afternoon was "tour day". Being in the Twin Cities, it was appropriate that the delegates and their friends be offered a twin feature--either a visit to a play at the Old Log Theatre located by Lake Minnetonka, or a three-hour ride on the Mississippi River on a new stern-wheeler. While there was an absolute limit of 250 tickets to be sold for the boat ride, it proved so popular that our Minnesota Hosts quickly arranged for a second boat ride, thus meaning that 500 Convention guests were accommodated. The dedicated hard work of those Minnesotans showed up in many other ways. The Minnesota Hospitality Room was open Friday and Saturday evenings, and Sunday evening following the banquet, as well as on Monday evening following the return from the tours. In addition, a hospitality and open house reception were held by the President, Kenneth Jernigan; the First Vice-President, Don Capps; the Treasurer Franklin Van Vliet; and the host affiliates. Crowds could be found in these various places of good fellowship into the wee small hours. The members of the United Blind of Minnesota and the Minnesota Organization of the Blind were indeed gracious hosts and made all feel most welcome at the 30th annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
The first door prize of the Convention went to the wife of the NFB's First Vice-President. Betty Capps' name was drawn for one of the $100 bills contributed by the NFB's financial wizard, Bernie Gerchen. The Cappses' gain was Cecil Phillips' loss... The name of the Washington State Association of the Blind president was actually the first one drawn, but Cecil was not present in the Convention hall and missed out.
Jim Schleppergrell, president of the United Blind of Minnesota, registered his guide dog at the Convention, and this turned out to be a good investment. ... The dog won one of the door prizes!
The weather in the Twin Cities lived up to the Chamber of Commerce boasts... It was "Minnesota cool" during most of the Convention. The hotel's air conditioning also was cool, sometimes too much so.
The 500 Convention goers who took a boat ride on the Mississippi River were the most wide-awake people in the Twin Cities. They had to be--the ship's captain frequently let loose with ear-shattering blasts of the boat whistle.
The delicious chicken served at the Convention banquet must have been raised by Paul Bunyan. Few were able to eat all of the enormous portions, and one wag commented, "It's like at a Jewish wedding."
The Master-of-Ceremonies at the banquet--John Taylor--took note of the record-breaking and ever-increasing attendance at NFB Conventions. He suggested the next time the get together is held in Minneapolis, it will have to be scheduled for a time when the Minnesota Twins will be on a road trip and the 55,000 seat Metropolitan Stadium will be available.
Fortunately there was a twenty-four-hour restaurant one block from the Convention hotel. It was well frequented by partygoing Federationists who closed out each night's festivities with a dawn breakfast. Many Convention goers must have set a new record for sleeplessness, while others got as much as four or five hours of sleep per night!
Southern Minnesotans received liberal doses of the NFB's philosophy concerning blindness. Federationists were interviewed at various times by virtually all of the major TV and radio outlets in the Twin Cities, and superlative jobs were done by all.
The tele-Touch machine fascinated several Minnesota legislators attending the banquet. Mr. and Mrs. Gary Patterson of Des Moines performed yeoman service on the machine bringing the Convention proceedings to a fellow Iowan, Miss Margaret Warren, who is blind and deaf.
John Nagle slipped on the stairs going to the platform before the opening of the last day and took a tumble that resulted in a broken knee cap. John is doing his usual work, keeping his secretary busy, and visiting with Congressmen on our legislation by phone, all from a hospital bed.
Hazel tenBroek who won no prizes in all the years she has been attending National Conventions, this year won two.
Manuel Urena who last year had his cane swallowed up by a voracious revolving restaurant, this year had the management lose his room for some hours. Naturally, it took a fellow Iowan to come to his rescue and return him safely to his wife Pat in the early hours of the morning after Manuel had spent some hours wandering around the halls, knocking on the wrong doors, looking for her.
One blind lass found what seemed to be bubble bath in the bag of goodies given her when she registered and after having it confirmed by a friend, proceeded to prepare a bath. When she got into it, she discovered that she was sitting like a marshmallow in a tub full of cocoa.
Back to Contents
by Kenneth Jernigan
It is not only individual human beings who suffer from what the psychologists call an "identity crisis"--that is, a confusion and doubt as to who and what they are. So do groups of human beings—communities, associations, minorities, even whole nations. And so it is—in this year of space if not of grace--with the blind, organized and unorganized. We are, as I believe, in the midst of our own full-fledged identity crisis. For the first time in centuries--perhaps in a millennium--our collective identity is in question. For the first time in modern history there are anguish and argument, not only as to what we are, but as to what we may become. The traditional images and myths of blindness, which had been taken for granted and for gospel throughout the ages, both by the seeing and by the blind themselves, are now abruptly and astonishingly under attack.
Who is it that dares thus to disturb the peace and upset the applecart of traditional definitions? The aggressors are here in this room. They are you and I. They are the organized blind of the National Federation. It is we who have brought on our own identity crisis--by renouncing and repudiating our old mistaken identity as the "helpless blind." It is we who are demanding that we be called by our rightful and true names: names such as competent, normal, and equal. We do not object to being known as blind, for that is what we are. What we protest is that we are not also known as people, for we are that, too. What we ask of society is not a change of heart (our road to shelter has always been paved with good intentions), but a change of image--an exchange of old myths for new perspectives.
Of all the roadblocks in the path of the blind today, one rises up more formidably and threateningly than all others. It is the invisible barrier of ingrained social attitudes toward blindness and the blind--attitudes based on suspicion and superstition, on ignorance and error, which continue to hold sway in men's minds and to keep the blind in bondage.
But new attitudes about the blind have come into being. They exist side by side with the old and compete with them for public acceptance and belief. Between the two there is vast distance and no quarter. As an example consider the following quotation: "The real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight. The real problem is the misunderstanding and lack of information which exist. If a blind person has proper training and if he has opportunity, blindness is only a physical nuisance."1
That is a quotation from an administrator in the field of work with the blind. Here is another quotation from another official: "We must not perpetuate the myth that blindness is not a tragedy. For each person who has learned to live an active, fruitful life despite blindness, there are thousands whose lives have lost all meaning ... A blind person can't be rehabilitated as a crippled person may be. You can give a [crippled] man mobility, but there is no substitute for sight.”2
Those two quotations represent the considered judgements of two professionals in the field of services to the blind. The statements are squarely contradictory. If one of them is true, the other must be false. Which are we to believe? There is no doubt as to which of the two would win a public opinion poll. The more popular by far is the second--the one that repudiates as a shocking fiction the very idea that blindness is anything less than a total tragedy.
Let us take note in passing of the peculiar tone of finality and conviction in which this second statement--the "hard line" on blindness--is expressed. I believe there is a striking irony in it which all of us would do well to recognize, for it conveys the distinct impression that there is something cruel and unfair to blind people in the mere-nuisance concept of blindness, as opposed to the evidently kinder and fairer portrayal of the condition as an overwhelming disaster.
The difference between these two perspectives on blindness is not merely that one is optimistic and the other pessimistic. There is more to it than that. The crucial difference is that one view minimizes the consequences of the physical disability and actively rejects the notion that blind persons are somehow "different." Its emphasis is upon the normality of the blind, their similarity and common identity with others, their potential equality, and their right to free and full participation in all the regular pursuits and pastimes of their society. The accent here, in a word, is affirmative: it is upbeat, dynamic, rehabilitative. It makes much of opportunity and capacity and does not dwell on deprivation and disability.
By contrast the other point of view--which we might call the "disaster" concept--deliberately maximizes the effects of blindness: physically, psychologically, emotionally, and socially. Its emphasis is upon what is missing rather than what can be done--upon lacks and losses rather than upon capacities and strengths. Blindness, these spokesmen are inclined to tell us, is a kind of "dying;"3and those who are blind (so we are repeatedly informed) are abnormal--they are different--they are dependent--they are deprived-they are inferior--and above all, they are unfortunate. The accent here, in a word, is negative. It is downbeat, pessimistic, professionally condescending, frequently sanctimonious, and ultimately defeatist.
I submit that this disaster concept of blindness is not only a popular opinion among professionals and the public today. It is, with only a little updating and streamlining, the ancient myth of blindness--the classic image of the blind man as a tragic figure. Let me be clear about this use of the term "tragic." In its classical sense, tragedy is not mere unhappiness. It does not refer to accidental misfortune or limited harm, which can sensibly be overcome. Tragedy involves a sentence of doom, a dire destiny, which one can only confront in all its unalterable terror but can never hope to transcend. The sense of tragedy, in short, is the sense of calamity--to which the only appropriate response is resignation and despair. These words of Bertrand Russell convey the mood exactly: "On such a firm foundation of unyielding despair must the soul's habitation henceforth securely be built."
How does the tragic view of blindness find expression in modern society? I would answer that it takes two forms: among the public it takes one form, and among professionals another. On the public and popular side, it tends to be conveyed through images of total dependency and deprivation--images, that is, of the "helpless blind man." A typical recent example occurred on the well-known TV program, "Password," in which a number of contestants take turns guessing at secret words through synonyms and verbal associations. On one such show the key word to be guessed was "cup." The first cue word offered was "tin;" but the guesser failed to make the connection. The next cue word given was "blind"--which immediately brought the response "cup." There you have it: for all our rehabilitation, all our education, and all our progress, what comes to the mind of the man in the street when he thinks of a blind person is the tin cup of the beggar!
Not only to the man in the street--it also comes, with a slight twist, to the mind of the lady in the newspaper advice column. "Dear Ann Landers," read a recent letter to the well-known oracle and advisor by that name:
I lost my sight when I was eight and I have a wife and three children. It's very hard for a blind man to make a living because nobody wants to hire me. So I do the next best thing. I sit on the corner with a cup and sell pencils. We have moved to several different cities and have done all right. In this town two cops have told me that begging is against the law and to get moving. Why should there be a law against a man trying to make a living? My wife is writing this for me and we need a fast answer so please hurry. Signed, Tough Luck.
To which Ann Landers says: "No one needs to beg in America. There are countless welfare organizations who will help you. Write to American Foundation for the Blind. ..."
That seems at first glance to be a hopeful and constructive suggestion. But take another look: what the lady is suggesting is that the blind man go on welfare--that the only organizations that can help him are welfare agencies! Here is a man who, by his own word, is only trying to make a living. His problem is that no one has hired him and that he has apparently not had adequate training, encouragement, and orientation; so he is making a living the hard way. But, to the lady columnist, his blindness is the problem. It rules him out of the job market and onto the charity rolls. It never even occurs to her that he might seek rehabilitation, or that it might be available to him.
Ann Landers, of course, is not a professional counseling psychologist or social-work specialist. But she might as well be. As it happens, there is no clear line of demarcation between the popular stereotypes about blindness and the supposedly more learned conceptions of many professionals in work with the blind. A remarkable illustration of assumptions shared in both worlds is to be found in the unbelievable shenanigans of a fascinating philanthropic organization called the Stevens Brothers Foundation of St. Paul, Minnesota. In a circular letter sent to "all State Supervisors of the Blind" (note that wording), under recent date, the director of the Foundation wrote as follows:
Our activities for aid to the Blind for next year will consist of sending samples of some of the following items for which we have made application for Patents, Registered Copyrights and Trademarks.
Templet--Giant Embossed Telephone Dial for the Blind
E-Z-I Dropper and Washer for the Blind
Goldletring-Silverletring on Dark Background for the Industrial Blind
Emergency Whistle for the Blind (and to protect women in emergencies)
Nonskid Barrosette Icegrips for the Blind
Koffeemugg for the Blind
Solesatisfier for Aching Feet of the Blind
National Uniform for the Blind
Organization to Investigate the Attributes and Skills of Blind flying Bats Insofar as they may be applicable to the Blind
Rockerwheel Krutch for the Crippled, Lame and Blind
My Lord and Ladyships Personal Mechanical Valet for the Blind
Buttonon Necktie for the Blind
Children's Fabrique for Finger Etching—Entertainment--Commercial Toymakers for the Blind
Wraparound Overcoat Tails--Leg Warmers for the Blind [and]
Wraparound and Fastenup Muffler Warmer for the Blind.
Pervading this ludicrous if well-intentioned catalog of artificial aids and fantastic gimcracks is the assumption that at the tragic plight of the blind leaves them helpless to do anything at all for themselves without a battery of gadgets--not even tie their ties, handle the telephone, lift an ordinary coffee cup, appear in public without a special identifying uniform, walk on icy surfaces or without aching feet--or even walk without a "krutch," such as needed by the crippled and lame!
If any doubt remains concerning the attitude of the Stevens Brothers toward those whom they seek to help, it is set at rest by the concluding paragraph of their letter: "Our experience has been that we have found those patients who use their Signature and Envelope Addresser Cards learn very quickly how to use the Letteriter and we hope that you have the same success in training your Blind in using these Cards." Blind persons, it would seem, are to be regarded as "patients"--who, despite their dreadful infirmity, "learn very quickly" to operate simple gadgets--that is, “our blind" do so, and it is hoped that “your blind" may be trained to do likewise.
There may be those who would dismiss this rigmarole as merely the work of a harmless crank, not to be taken seriously by anyone in a position of authority or respectability. Would that it were so. But the most astonishing thing about the exploits of the Stevens Brothers of St. Paul is that they have been found acceptable by a high official of the Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. In fact, he recommends that the philanthropists send their materials to the American Foundation for the Blind and the American Printing House for the Blind. And this same official, coincidentally, has maintained on more than one occasion that blindness can not be regarded as an inconvenience but must be faced up to as an unmitigated disaster.
Yet, is it only coincidence that the man who rejects the nuisance-concept in favor of the disaster-concept of blindness should also be the man who finds acceptable the frivolous gimmicks of the Stevens Brothers? Perhaps; but I think not. I believe there is a direct connection between the philosophy and the practice, between the theory and the behavior. Feeling as he does that the blind are truly different--that they are, in the words of a recent article "socially isolated" from others and trapped forever in the tragedy of their dark fate--feeling this, what could be more natural than the idea of filling their empty and separate world with toys and games, with wraparound tails, and funny uniforms?
Nor does this government official stand alone in his acceptance of the work of the Stevens Brothers. A veritable flood of congratulatory letters came to the St. Paul philanthropists both from here and abroad in response to their overtures, and were immediately circulated by the hundreds and thousands to public agencies and government officials throughout the world to add respectability to what otherwise would have appeared as sheer nonsense or fantastic lunacy. Here is a typical letter from a state director of services to the blind:
We shall be very honored, indeed to act as your agent in distributing these aids to the blind persons in schools and institutions. Congratulations on your exploration into other possible aids and areas where some aid or benefit could result to lessen the handicap of blindness. Best wishes to you for continued success in your efforts, and may health and happiness be yours in great abundance.
Here is another, from the head of services to the blind in a different state: "We will be happy to participate in the distribution of the material for the blind which you have been sending us. ...We feel the material which you so generously are providing will be very beneficial to the blind."
Here is another, from a workshop for the blind in Bombay, India: "Words are inadequate to express our deep sense of gratitude for your generosity and willing assistance in promoting the cause of the welfare of the blind."
Here is yet another, from the director of the Nak-Tong Revival Home in Pusan, Korea:
Once again the Thanksgiving Season ushered out the Autumn and brings in the Winter, with the turkey steps forward. Furthermore, it's most richest season for us mankind, with poverty averting her head and will not spoil the feast of harvest. ... While we who lost touch love again and workers pause to pray, the children and adult patients of the Nak-Tong Revival Home should like to extend their sincere greetings to the benefactors like yourself for their goodwill during the past year.
There are many other letters besides; but none of them, I feel, can top that! Surely all of these professionals, who take such delight in the toys and gadgets of the Stevens Brothers, would subscribe to the philosophy of one of their colleagues, as uttered some years ago!
To dance and sing, to play and act, to swim, bowl and roller-skate, to work creatively in clay, wood, aluminum or tin, to make dresses, to join in group readings or discussions, to have entertainments and parties, to engage in many other activities of one's own choosing--this is to fill the life of any one with the things that make life worth living.4
Let me remind you of the way in which Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, then in his prime as president of the National Federation of the Blind, responded to that statement. In one of his great convention speeches, "Within the Grace of God," he quoted the passage and went on to say this:
Are these the things that make life worth living for you? Only the benevolent keeper of an asylum could make this remark--only a person who views blindness as a tragedy which can be somewhat mitigated by little touches of kindness and service to help pass the idle hours but which cannot be overcome. Some of these things may be suitable accessories to a life well filled with other things--a home, a job, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, for example.5
The point I am seeking to make now is the very same point that Dr. tenBroek was seeking to make then. There are two opposing conceptions of the nature of blindness at large in the world. One of them holds that it is a nuisance, and the other that it is a disaster. I think it is clear that the disaster concept is widespread alike in popular culture and in the learned culture of the professionals. Moreover, I would submit that the concept itself is the real disaster--the only real disaster that we as blind people have to live with--and that when we can overcome this monstrous misconception, we shall ring down the curtain forever on the fictional drama entitled "The Tragedy of Blindness."
In order to emphasize still further the full extent to which the disaster concept--the tragic sense of blindness--prevails among the professionals in our field, let me introduce in evidence another exhibit. It is a comment from overseas by an official of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland. This is what he says of the blind people of his country:
Although the exceptional and stubborn can learn a trade or pursue an education up to university level [note that "up to"] and follow successful careers, such cases are unusual. Since unemployment has always been a factor in our economy, there are not many posts available. We lack the industries with the necessary repetitive machinery on which the blind can safely work.
All that needs to be remarked about that dreary pronouncement is that it heavily reinforces the defeatist notion that blind persons in general (those who are not peculiarly stubborn and exceptional) should give up any idea of pursuing a normal trade or even of attaining an ordinary education, and should resign themselves to the prospect (itself not too likely) that society in its kindness may be willing to set aside enough repetitive and mechanical chores to take care of most of them, in penury and penitence.
If you think this dark picture reflects only the bogs and mists of old Ireland, consider this letter from the Dean of Admissions of Oral Roberts University, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, written not in the last century or even ten years ago but on May 27, 1970, to a blind applicant for admission:
We have received your application for admission and are very impressed with the academic record you have established in high school.
In checking your application I notice that you are blind. At this time, ORU does not have the facilities to accommodate blind students. There is a possibility that some type of program will be initiated in future years; however, at this time, I regret that we will be unable to admit you.
If you have any questions, please let me know. We will be praying with you that the Lord will guide and direct you.
There it is again. One's academic record is impressive, says the Dean; ordinarily it would constitute the sole and sufficient evidence of capability. But unfortunately it appears that one is blind; therefore the academic record, however impressive, is suddenly irrelevant, incompetent, and immaterial. For the university, says the Dean, does not have the "facilities" to accommodate blind students--whatever those facilities might be. Never mind that there are not, should not, and need not be any such facilities, any special aids or instruments, anywhere that blind college students matriculate. Someday, says the Dean, there might be "some type of program;" in the meantime, we shall pray that others may possess more faith, hope, and charity than we at Oral Roberts Christian University.
The life of a blind person, in this considered spiritual view, is therefore a life without meaning--just as it is in the secular view of the Stevens Brothers. Fill it with whistles and tricks, wraparound tails and funny uniforms--but do not undertake to enrich it with higher education or imbue it with serious purpose.
To the deans of small faith and their like-minded ilk, to the Landers sisters and the Stevens brothers and their relatives everywhere, we have not progressed at all beyond the outlook of the primitive Mediterranean society, thousands of years ago, among whom it was a common saying that "the blind man is as one dead."
How are we to reply to these prophets of gloom and doom, who cry havoc and have nothing to offer us but whistles in the dark? We might use logic or theory. We might use history or precept. But the simplest and most effective argument comes from our own experience as blind people. Everything which we are and which we have become rises up to give the lie to the disaster concept of blindness. We, the blind people of this country, are now working as farmers, lawyers, scientists and laborers; as teachers, mechanics, engineers and businessmen. We are now functioning in all of the various professions, trades and callings of the regular community. We do not regard our lives, as we live them on a day-to-day basis, as tragic or disastrous--and no amount of professional jargon or trumped-up theory can make us do so. We know that with training and opportunity we can compete on terms of equality with our sighted neighbors--and that blindness is merely a physical nuisance.
The blind people of yesterday, and the day before yesterday, had little choice but to accept the tragic view of the gloom-and-doom mongers--the prophets of despair. Their horizons were limited to the bounty of charity, and their world was bounded by the sheltered workhouse. At every turn they were reminded of their infirmity; on every occasion they were coaxed into immobility and dependency. It is no wonder that they fulfilled the prophecy of despair; believing it themselves, they made it come true.
But that was another time, another era, another world. We the blind people of today have carried out a revolution, and have won our independence. We have won it by finding our own voice, finding our own direction--and finding our own doctrine. That doctrine may be simply stated: it is that the blind are normal people who can not see. It is that blindness is not a dying--but a challenge to make a new life. It is also that there are none so blind as those who will not see this simple truth.
The blind people of today, in a word, were not born yesterday. We who are blind do not accept the tragic prophecies of a dire fate. We have a rendezvous with a different destiny. The destiny we go to meet is that of integration and equality--of high achievement and full participation--of free movement and unrestricted opportunity in a friendly land which is already beginning to accept us for what we are.
That is where the blind are leading the blind. Let those who would resist or deny that destiny remain behind, imprisoned in their own antique myths and images--while the rest of us move on to new adventure and higher ground.
1. Iowa Commission for the Blind, What Is The Iowa Commission For the Blind? Published by the State of Iowa, Des Moines, n.d.
2. Dr. Jules Stein, "Blindness Study Urged By Doctor" New York Times, November 19, 1967, Page 19.
3. Reverend Thomas J. Carroll, Blindness: What It Is, What It Does And How To Live with It (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1961).
4. Philip S. Platt, "Challenges of Voluntary Agencies for the Blind." Paper read at convention of the American Association of Workers for the Blind, June 26, 1951, Page 8.
5. Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, "Within The Grace Of God," An Address Delivered at the Banquet of the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind held in San Francisco, July 1, 1956.
Back to Contents
by Xena E. Johnson
The annual meeting of the Correspondents of The Braille Monitor, took place in the Minnesota Room with Lawrence Marcelino serving as the Chairman. Perry Sundquist, Editor and Hazel tenBroek, Associate Editor, the other two members of the committee, took turns making statements and answering questions. About seventy-five persons were present and look part in the discussions.
Mr. Sundquist, who stated that he and Mrs. tenBroek had been editing The Braille Monitor for the past two years, declared the thheme of the 1970 meeting was to be "What's Wrong or What's Right with Our Braille Monitor?” The purpose of The Braille Monitor is to promote the policies and beliefs of the National Federation of the Blind; to promote and strengthen the state affiliates by reporting on conventions, not only the annual national meeting but all state conventions; to report on the many activities of the NFB in all fields, particularly in the fields of fundraising and programs of the affiliates; and to relate stories of both successes and failures of blind people in their attempts at becoming self-sustaining citizens. Over the past two years sixteen "Do-It-Yourself” items have appeared in the pages of this mouthpiece of the National Federation. Just recently the Monitor carried a list of affiliates publishing some kind of magazine, newsletter or bulletin and in this way immediately found that one had been overlooked--Ohio's publication. The publication of the various means of communication of the states has already stimulated interest in other states beginning to ask "How" and at this meeting Evelyn Weckerly of Michigan said that her State is expecting to re-establish their publication and that right now they are running a contest to find a catchy name. Mr. Vinson of Houston, Texas, reported that the Blue Bonnet Federation is planning to discuss the establishment of a State publication at their fall State convention. Mr. Lev Williams of Memphis, Tennessee, said that although their organization is only one year old and finances are very important to them, they realize they do have to get a publication going. He asked many questions on how to get mailing done, what to put in such a publication, and he said that they must soon begin the publication of something for their members.
Mr. Sundquist had already stated that the Monitor was the most important means of distributing information between conventions and Mrs. tenBroek stated further, "It is ridiculous that we now have forty-three state affiliates and only seventeen publications of any kind." She said it is time the rest of the states get something started.
Editor Sundquist said it is the policy of the National Federation of the Blind that The Braille Monitor is the basic means of bringing people together and the Budget and Finance Committee considers this such an important function of the NFB that one-third of the budget is spent on publications including the Monitor and the presidential releases. He said he wanted each state to become interested enough to send in promptly the names and addresses of all new members and especially changes of officers. It was suggested from the audience that everyone thought the listing two years ago of all state presidents was important and that along with that a list of all National Federation officers with addresses, phone numbers and zip codes would be extremely helpful in the work of the affiliates. Both the editor and the associate editor stressed the importance of sending in the changes of address to the Berkeley office when a reader dies or discontinues using the Monitor for it is expensive to carry names when the publication is not read or passed on to someone who will read it.
A most interesting participant was E.V. Joseph, from Kerala State, India. He commented on the usefulness of The Braille Monitor but criticized the form of binding the inkprint edition. He suggested it should be bound together like other inkprint or slick magazines. The committee said this was a matter of economy and to bind it like other inkprint magazines would add considerable expense. He stated he had requested a copy from the Canadian Institute for the Blind but had not been successful and wanted to know the reason; whereupon it was reported that CIB had even requested having its name removed from the mailing list in recent years. The comment was made that a recent article, "What Welfare?" had been an exceptionally good article. Al Jenkins inquired about particular landmark articles which have appeared over the years in the Monitor and asked if thought had been given to compiling outstanding speeches of Dr. tenBroek and other documentary articles in one volume for convenience and for use in the years to come. The group was informed that at this time the NFB is in the process of taping the speeches of Dr. tenBroek.
Editor Sundquist again urged the various states to send in personal items as well as lists of officers and members. The matter of the "Monitor Miniatures" or Moni-Mins as he fondly called them was discussed and many persons said that they turn to that section first to see what has happened around the country. Several asked that the miniatures be increased when it was at all possible. The editor stated he reads most of the time and subscribes to a news service but finds it is not too successful or relative to our own interests.
Dr. Isabelle L.D. Grant stated there would soon appear The Braille International, the mouthpiece of the International Federation of the Blind but she wants publicly to thank The Braille Monitor for all the news and information it has published in behalf of the IFB.
It was stated from the audience that the Washington Report was soon to be published in braille. Mr. Sundquist said it would be too voluminous for most people to get much good out of. This, of course, would be a source of legislative news on the national front, but the audience was reminded of the many presidential releases and articles appearing in the Monitor which should be sufficient for all affiliates. The editor said that he would like to be kept informed of any important legislative accomplishments at the state level.
Mr. Marcelino said he is presently editing the California Council Bulletin, and he offered to exchange with any state affiliate and would appreciate it if all state affiliates would send him a copy of their publication. He will send the Council Bulletin to anyone requesting it.
It was stated that the Minnesota people had been publishing the Minnesota Bulletin since the year 1934 and are now getting out 185 to 190 copies of either "a feel-able" or "see-able" publication, which is now in its 36th volume. The editor is Archie Erickson. It is expensive but they find it helps in their fundraising, information services and is worth the outlay of both effort and funds, and, as far as his own compensation, he said he had a big fat pocket quite empty since he is not paid for his work.
Mr. and Mrs. Fillinger of Ohio said they make a nominal charge in Ohio for their State publication. Most persons present, especially those engaged in publishing any sort of report, from a two-page folder to larger ones, all felt it is better to spend money on this facet of their work and furnish the publication free to members. New adventurers in this field were told to get a mailing permit from their local post offices and find out all the rules from their local postal authorities before plunging into their project for large size print may be sent postage free under present mailing privileges (fourteen point type). North Carolina, a newly organized affiliate has already secured a large type typewriter and is mailing its newsletter as free reading matter for the blind. Since all their workers are volunteers, they are spending very little at present but are reaching a good many people with their message.
The possibility of putting a newsletter on cassettes was mentioned. The Virginia affiliate sends some newsletters in this manner. Many persons told how their legislative communications ran all the way from chain telephoning to mimeographed notices.
Mr. Sundquist stated that although both national and state conventions are exciting and something to look forward to, the real grass roots of the organized blind movement lies in the work done in individual chapters of each affiliate and that this is the news he would like to get.
Martha Seabrooks of Baltimore, Maryland repeated the announcement that the Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland 21235 will give all information to a blind person in braille, when requested to do so.
In conclusion, this reporter would summarize the theme of the 1970 Correspondents Committee meeting--not so much what is wrong with The Braille Monitor as what is right with it. It is a publication spreading the good news about the organized blind movement both at home and abroad!
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Adopted by the Convention
Assembled in Minneapolis, Minnesota
July 4-7, 1970
WHEREAS, The National Federation of the Blind has within its membership through its state affiliates throughout the nation a representative group of blind persons typical of the blind residents of each area served by many centers for the blind; and
WHEREAS, private agency centers for the blind are maintained by public funds specifically given to help blind persons; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 1970, in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization adopts the following statement concerning the operation of many centers for the blind in the United States:
Rehabilitation of the blind in its truest sense means the restoration of the individual to the highest potential of self-sufficiency of which he is capable, with the goal of full integration into society. Centers for the blind should gear their programs so as to provide that philosophy and those opportunities and services designed to assist their blind clients to make physical, social and economic adjustment in order to achieve that goal. Specifically, this involves five basic approaches:
First, centers should actively encourage and promote organization of the blind as the ultimately effective means to significant solutions to the problems of sightless persons in our land. To this end blind persons should be encouraged to become affiliated with independent organizations of the blind.
Second, all positions in connection with the operation of the centers, board and staff, should be open freely to qualified blind persons and because of their particular interest and knowledge of the problems incident to blindness, such persons should be given preference in filling such positions. Only a person who has actually experienced blindness can know fully the needs of his fellow blind and the most effective ways to meet those needs. A majority of the voting membership of each center, as well as at least a majority of its board of directors, should be comprised of visually handicapped persons and at least half of the paid staff should be blind persons. It is imperative that center policies be reached only after consultation with the organized blind in their areas. It is highly desirable if not essential to the attainment of these purposes that the staff members in such centers demonstrate their interest in and knowledge of the needs of the blind by their participation in the organized blind movement.
Third, centers should actively encourage and assist their clients to broaden their social contacts and interests by becoming active in groups in the larger sighted community other than the pursuit of economic interests. The maximum degree of mobility possible is essential in this connection.
Fourth, centers should maintain a rich program of educational and avocational courses, including mobility training, braille, typing and personal adjustment.
Fifth, all activities of these centers should be conducted in such a manner as will actively foster the independence and self-determination of their blind clients.
A basic program consisting of these essential elements will enable centers for the blind throughout the United States to more adequately serve the sightless citizens of their areas.
WHEREAS, it is recognized that a proper division of labor is the best indicator of a mature and healthy society; and
WHEREAS, specialization enables the gifted individual to develop and realize his genius and the average person to develop and realize his individuality; and
WHEREAS, it is also recognized that excessive specialization creates the purposeless technician, the machine tender and the effete academician--in short, the horde of cultural illiterates and expert ignoramuses; and
WHEREAS, work for the blind exemplifies this trend; and
WHEREAS, several universities offer the masters degree in "peripatology" and the doctorate in "special education--vision" and many college curricula offer such courses as "the psychology of blindness," all of which foster a public image of the blind that is incompatible with the integration of the sightless into society; and
WHEREAS, what most agencies would call specialization is in reality custodialization by another name; for example, in September, 1969, a qualified blind student was required to accept rehabilitation services from the State of Illinois in order to be admitted into the Graduate School of the University of Illinois and only avoided this big brotherly, bureaucratic usurpation of authority when he informed the University that he would seek legal redress; and
WHEREAS, such a condition is a serious infringement upon the freedom of choice of the disabled, since in all likelihood in the beginning disabled students would be requested to attend these universities and later would be required to enroll in them; and
WHEREAS, such a policy constitutes a violation of basic constitutional rights and defeats the very purpose of rehabilitation; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 1970, in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that the President be authorized to establish a committee for the purpose of developing a position paper on this and related matters, said committee to report to the National Convention in 1971.
WHEREAS, since the organization of our Student Division the National Federation of the Blind has come to recognize the vital role played by youth in the organized blind movement; and
WHEREAS, the future of our movement, national and international, depends upon attracting young people to our cause, and giving to them an opportunity for the kind of training and experience necessary to carry it on; and
WHEREAS, the International Federation of the Blind, though a very new organization, has already attracted considerable international attention, particularly among young people, even though it has not as yet established a youth division; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 1970, in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization recommends to the International Federation of the Blind that it seek to form an international youth division. This Federation pledges all possible assistance and support to the International Federation in this endeavor. We suggest that the following are among the goals to be given consideration:
1. To vitalize and strengthen the International Federation of the Blind by drawing into it new members and possibly new affiliate countries;
2. To provide leadership training for the young adults in the IFB;
3. To lead to international exchange of information concerning the economic, educational, social and cultural position and problems of the blind in various countries;
4. To enable greater international understanding and cooperation through correspondence between the young adult blind in various countries; and
5. To lead to cultural exchange of blind students and groups of young adults between countries.
WHEREAS, professional foreign exchange in the fields of law, education and social welfare as well as other professions enhances international understanding and broadens human relationships; and
WHEREAS, present practices in the field of foreign exchange among the professions tend to discriminate against blind persons strictly on the basis of their lack of sight, reflecting misconceptions about blindness; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 1970, in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization instructs its President to bring this matter to the attention of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State in order to urge that the Department of State commence exchanges of blind persons with their foreign counterparts, both sighted and blind; and be it further
RESOLVED that the President also negotiate with such agencies as the Bureau of African Affairs, and the Asia Foundation, to promote such exchanges; and be it further
RESOLVED that encouragement be given to such organizations as the American Friends Service Committee to promote the exchange of young blind persons as well.
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has established an Endowment Fund for the purpose of building capital to provide income to finance the work of the Federation; and
WHEREAS, it is vital to the blind of the nation that this Federation have sufficient funds to finance its great work for the blind, not only in the present day but through whatever uncertainties that may be found in the years to come; and
WHEREAS, it is fitting and proper that every blind person in the United States manifest his commitment to the National Federation; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 1970, in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this Federation urges all of its state affiliates, all of its affilate chapters, and all of its members actively to conduct a program of fundraising for the Jacobus tenBroek Endowment Fund of the National Federation of the Blind; and be it further
RESOLVED that at every convention of every affiliate pledges of donations be requested, donations be collected from individuals attending, and appropriations for the Jacobus tenBroek Endowment Fund be voted; and be it further
RESOLVED that all affiliates, all chapters, and all leaders in the organized blind movement assume and carry out the responsibility for making this undertaking successful.
WHEREAS, the blind of the nation continue to experience serious discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, public transportation, places of amusement and resort, and in access to other public programs and facilities; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 1970, in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this Federation seek to secure the adoption of the Model White Cane Law by the Congress of the United States.
WHEREAS, every blind and physically handicapped person in the country who uses library services has experienced difficulty and delay in the delivery of braille, recorded and large print materials from the Library of Congress and the various regional libraries; and
WHEREAS, the Library of Congress, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and the various regional libraries, have all experienced frequent difficulties in distributing materials that have been properly prepared and dispatched for mailing; and
WHEREAS, the redefinition of free mailing privileges has increased the volume of mail so classified, and whereas, at the same time, the efficiency of processing and delivery of such material has decreased; and
WHEREAS, the conditions of modern living depend on the expedient dissemination of information; and
WHEREAS, blind and physically handicapped citizens--students, professional workers, and the general reading public--and the libraries servicing them depend on the Post Office Department for the expeditious dissemination of such informational materials; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 1970, in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization directs its officers and staff to assist the Library of Congress, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, to negotiate with the Post Office Department to:
1. Increase the awareness of all postal employees as to the importance of prompt and accurate processing and delivery of all materials for the blind and physically handicapped;
2. Make any improvements in the identification of such materials which will facilitate prompt and accurate processing and delivery, including such devices as color coded labels or stamps;
3. Develop well defined systems and methods for prompt, regular pick-up of materials from libraries and individuals;
4. Recommend that Congress upgrade the mail classification of materials for blind and physically handicapped persons;
5. Take whatever other steps may be deemed necessary to bring mail service to blind and physically handicapped citizens up to the level of service enjoyed by other persons.
WHEREAS, The National Federation of the Blind has long sought through legislation and other means to extend to blind workers in sheltered workshops the minimum wage provisions now guaranteed to most other workers by the Fair Labor Standards Act; and
WHEREAS, the AFL-CIO and other groups of organized labor have pledged their support to these goals and have promised their assistance in achieving them; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 1970, in the city of Minneapolis! Minnesota, that this organization expresses its appreciation to organized labor; and be it further
RESOLVED that this Federation calls upon organized labor for their continued support in our effort to achieve the minimum wage for blind workers including financial support of those blind workers who find it necessary to strike in furtherance of their legitimate aims; and be it further
RESOLVED that the officers of this Federation explore with organized labor the possibility of establishing a fund for this purpose.
WHEREAS, the Wagner-O'Day Act was adopted by Congress in 1938 for the purpose of providing employment opportunities for blind people; and
WHEREAS, under this Congressionally created program, sheltered workshops for the blind are authorized to make products for the Federal government; and
WHEREAS, a committee on blind-made products functions to implement the provisions of the Wagner-O'Day Act; and
WHEREAS, the committee on blind-made products, acting by authority of the Wagner-O'Day Act, promulgated regulations, a section of which has been interpreted by said committee to the great disadvantage of blind people; and
WHEREAS, this interpretation declared that the 75% blind labor requirements on work done under the Wagner-O'Day Act does not mean there must be 75% blind labor on any, every, and each job done for the Federal government in blind-employing sheltered workshops but means 75% of the work done in the full business year in sheltered workshops must be blind labor; and
WHEREAS, as a result of this most restrictive interpretation, it is possible for a blind employee sheltered workshop doing work under the Wagner-O'Day Act to have only sighted workers perform all work on particular jobs, and, when business falls off, to lure sighted workers at the same time blind workers are being laid off for lack of work in the shop; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this 7th day of July, 1970, in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization deplores and condemns this unfair to blind people 75% blind-labor interpretation of the committee on blind-made products and directs its officers to take such actions as the President deems necessary to secure rescinding of this disastrous interpretation.
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by Jim Omvig
It has been observed that "the law is an ass." I suspect that those of us assembled here today ought not take so dim a view of the system of law under which we must live our lives and transact our daily affairs, but some other and less damning observations might be made about it.
The law is complicated and complex. It is highly structured and regimented. It often presents what attorneys refer to as "naughty problems," and, for those of us whose background and experience does not include legal training, it often becomes cumbersome and unwieldly and sometimes appears to be insurmountable. Nevertheless, we do live under this system and it can work for us particularly if we have some basic information with which to help it along.
It is with this in mind that President Jernigan asked me to speak to you here today. For not infrequently state and local leaders find themselves involved in legal affairs, and are confronted with such questions as: Must our organization incorporate? If we don't have to incorporate, would we realize some benefit if we were to do so anyway? Are we exempt from paying taxes? Can people who make contributions to us deduct those contributions from their income taxes? Do we have to have licenses in order to raise funds?
I believe that before we can answer any of these questions fairly we must first look briefly at what the National Federation of the Blind is, whether our responsibilities for answering these questions arise at the local, state, or national level.
So what is the National Federation of the Blind? It is a people's movement. It is the first and, today, is far and away the largest nation-wide organization "of” blind people in this country. It is a non-profit, charitable and educational organization created for the purpose of promoting the economic and social welfare of all the blind of this nation. We strive to gain independence for all who are blind by achieving equality, opportunity, and security for every blind American.
Our fundamental philosophy is not complicated. We who are blind are normal people. We are ordinary Americans who wish--nay demand--to gain the social, economic, and legal rights and responsibilities which flow from ordinary citizenship.
We recognize that our goal of full independence and equality for all who are blind will not be achieved easily or quickly, for we also recognize that when we promulgate our basic thesis of the normality of blind people we are challenging the prevailing public attitude of our entire civilization. For it is the public attitude about blindness rather than the physical loss of sight that is the real problem, the handicap of blindness. That is, the attitude held by most Americans, blind as well as sighted, is that he who is blind is, by reason of that blindness alone, physically helpless, mentally incompetent, emotionally unstable, and devoid of all reason and good sense.
This, then, is our reason for being. We who are blind have joined together to strive vigorously and unceasingly to eliminate these public misunderstandings and misconceptions, for because of these misunderstandings and misconceptions, massive economic, social, and legal discriminations are continually practiced against those of us who are blind.
So what can we as an organization do in order to solve our common problems and to improve and enrich the lives of blind Americans? Our functions and activities are many and varied. One of our most important functions is simply to come together, whether at the local, state, or national level. Here we as blind people discuss common problems and formulate programs and policies, for we know best the things which we need and also the things which we do not need.
Our meetings, themselves, can often have a rehabilitative effect. Consider the newly blind individual. He, as a member of the public at large, will ordinarily have a pretty low opinion of himself and of blind people generally. When he comes to our meetings he has the opportunity to meet capable, successful blind people. This kind of meeting can produce much-needed hope and stimulation in such individuals.
We are also engaged in a good deal of research into the problems of blindness and the needs of blind people and, upon request, make surveys of state service programs for the blind.
The information thus gained by us is then available for our massive education projects which, I submit to you, are perhaps our most important activities, for we who are blind must take the lead in developing new and constructive attitudes about blindness and in spreading those new concepts abroad in the land. We make speeches to civic and church groups or on radio or TV. We see to it that stories concerning successfully employed blind persons are printed in magazines and in the newspapers. We invite people to our meetings so that they can hear our views and see us in action. We supply non-partisan educational materials and information to lawmakers at all levels of government so that these individuals will have all the facts upon which to make sound, well-reasoned judgements as to whether to support or oppose particular bills affecting blind people. In this same connection we give testimony at public hearings involving proposed laws which would affect blind people. We also make our information available to state agencies established to serve the blind so that their services can be more accurately geared to the real needs of their consumers. Then, too, when we are confronted with clear-cut cases of discrimination we will go to court if necessary to secure and protect the rights of blind Americans.
With this background in mind let us turn to some of the questions involving legal transactions which I raised with you when I began. Must our state or local organizations incorporate? The answer is no. There is no legal requirement that anyone must incorporate.
Before turning to the question as to whether, although not required, it might be good business for us to incorporate, perhaps we should briefly discuss just what a corporation is. It is simply a "legal person." It can buy and sell property, enter into contract, and sue or be sued in the courts. It can also be put to death. Perhaps the only thing you cannot do to a corporation that you can do to a "real person" is that you cannot put a corporation in jail.
In the jargon of attorneys, the basic reason for the formation of a corporation is to avoid "individual liability." Put in plain English, this means that you as an individual member of a corporation are protected. If you as an individual have money or property but the corporation does not, and the corporation owes a large debt which it is unable to pay, the person to whom the debt is owed cannot sue you to take away your private money or property. He can only sue the corporation for whatever assets it has.
Under the modern law of voluntary associations which now exists in some states, this same kind of protection for individual members of unincorporated associations is available, unless a particular individual has participated in a transaction which was not authorized by the general membership.
I believe that as a general rule there is no good and compelling reason why a state or local organization should incorporate. We of the Federation have come together to improve conditions for blind people, not simply to set up high-flown legalistic social clubs and, therefore, it matters little as to the legal form our organizations take. Perhaps the strongest argument against incorporation is that it simply can become one of those aggravating situations which might better be avoided. The inevitable paper work is involved and, as we will see when we discuss tax exemption, the way in which you have prepared that paper work is crucial. On the other hand, for those few organizations which presently hold or contemplate holding real estate, it would probably be worthwhile to make the effort and to incorporate. You might first check in to the kind of law which exists in your state regarding voluntary associations.
In any event, if there is to be incorporation at all I believe that that corporation should be formed on the state level alone. Each local chapter can then operate under the general state charter as a branch or division of the central organization. In this way we can avoid the situation of having too many different people filling out too many forms with too many different answers.
Do we have to pay taxes? The answer is no. The Federation, whether operating at the local, state, or national level, is a non-profit, charitable and educational organization. However, tax-exempt status is not automatic. We must apply for and be granted exemption. This is true even though our activities clearly will fall within the definition of tax-exempt charitable and educational organizations.
We as an organization are exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This section covers non-profit organizations which are: charitable, religious, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, educational, or prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Our application for exemption must be made on Federal Tax Form 1023. The application must show that the organization is established and will be operated for one of the purposes which I have enumerated. We need not, of course, be corporations in order to apply for tax exemption.
There are three basic limitations upon the activities of an organization which seeks tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3). These are: (1) that no part of its net earnings will inure to the benefit of private shareholders or individuals: (2) that it will not, as a substantial part of its activities, issue propaganda or attempt to influence legislation; and (3) that it will not participate to any extent in a political campaign for or against any candidate for public office.
The Federation, whether at the local, state, or national level, clearly meets these limitations. In the first place, of course, we do not distribute any part of our net earnings to individuals. This does not mean, however, that we cannot pay salaries to employees. We, of course, do pay such salaries.
So far as legislation is concerned, we supply non-partisan educational materials to lawmakers at all levels of government and give testimony at public hearings so that these lawmakers will have all the available facts upon which to make sound, well-reasoned judgements in casting votes on issues affecting the blind; but we do not, as a substantial part of our activities, issue propaganda or attempt to influence legislation.
Then, finally, we do not get involved in political campaigns for or against candidates for public office.
In applying for tax exemption there is a good deal of room for legal entanglement. According to the tax law, our purposes must be clearly set forth in our "articles of organization." In our case, these articles of organization would be our constitutions or our articles of incorporation if we have incorporated. The stated purposes in these documents cannot be inconsistent with the purpose of a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3). Therefore, as I have previously indicated, it is crucial that our constitutions or articles of incorporation be completed carefully and accurately.
For example, when setting forth your purpose in your state or local constitution or articles of incorporation, you could simply state that your organization will be both organized and operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. Or, as most of us have done, you might state that your exclusive purpose is to promote the economic and social welfare of the blind.
In this same connection, the assets of your organization must be permanently dedicated to an exempt purpose. What this means is that there must be some provision in your constitution or articles of incorporation which will state clearly and unequivocally what will happen to your assets if your organization should ever go out of business, and it must be made clear that those assets will be turned over to some other tax-exempt organization.
You might add a "dissolution clause" as follows:
Upon the dissolution, liquidation or abandonment of this association, or upon the winding up of its affairs, all of the property or assets of this association shall go and be distributed to the National Federation of the Blind, a non-profit corporation chartered in the District of Columbia, so long as that organization then qualifies as an exempt organization under the provisions of Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and its regulations as they now exist or as they may hereinafter be amended, and, if the National Federation of the Blind does not then exist or is not so qualified under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and its regulations as they now exist or as they may hereinafter be amended, and, if the National Federation of the Blind does not then exist or is not so qualified under Section 501(c)(3), then the assets shall go to such non-profit fund, foundation, corporation or corporations as may be selected by the Board of Directors of this organization, provided that said fund, foundation or corporation is organized and operated for charitable and educational purposes which would then qualify it for exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code as it now exists or as it may then exist.
To apply for exemption, obtain Federal Internal Revenue Form 1023--Application for Exemption. Also be sure to get the informational pamphlet which is available. It gives full and complete information as to how to fill out the form. Study that pamphlet closely before ever touching a pen to the paper. Then, in your application, describe your purposes and activities.
One thing you will need and will not likely have is an "employer identification number." This is required whether or not your organization has or intends to have employees. Therefore, when you apply for exemption also complete Federal Form SS4--Application for Employer Identification Number.
An organization need not have been in existence for any particular period of time in order to apply for tax exemption. An exemption can be granted in advance of actual operation if your organization can describe its proposed activities and operations in sufficient detail to permit a conclusion that it will clearly meet the particular requirements of the Code Section 501(c)(3) under which exemption is claimed.
If the exemption is sought at some time after your organization has commenced its activities, the effective date of your exemption will be the date upon which your organization actually began its operations and activities if, during the period prior to your seeking exemption, your purposes and activities were those required by the law.
There are two main kinds of determination. For individual organizations the "ruling or determination letter" is sought. In addition, a central organization which has affiliates can seek a "group exemption letter." This group letter would cover a central organization and its affiliates through only one application for exemption. I submit to you that our state organizations should very strongly consider the alternative of seeking the group exemption letter. Again, there is a considerable amount of paper work involved in applying for tax exempt status, and, if we seek the group letter on a state-wide basis rather than individual local determinations, we can eliminate the problem of too many different people getting involved in filling out too many forms with too many different answers. In order to get the group exemption letter we must show that there is a certain amount of general control of the state organization over its local affiliates. The Federation at the national level does not have a group letter which would cover state affiliates.
You should also check your state law to determine whether or not you will be required to seek tax-exempt status on the state level. Some states require this and some do not. You should also check our state law concerning charitable organizations generally. In many states a charitable organization must be registered, even though there is no tax problem. For example, in California the charitable organization must obtain a tax exemption (similar to the Federal exemption) and also must report periodically to the charitable organization sections of the office of the Attorney General.
What about tax returns? We are required by the law to file them. The return in question is an information return and will be some version of Tax Return Form 990. Your determination letter or group exemption letter will inform you as to which informational returns you must file. If you have applied for and received a group exemption letter, each local chapter could still file its own information return. Therefore, the central organization would not have the responsibility of gathering all the financial data relevant to each local chapter. Your information return must be filed within five months of your organization's yearly close of business so your time for filing will depend on whether you operate on a calendar or fiscal year.
Can a person who makes a donation to us deduct that donation from his income tax? Yes he can, if we have secured tax-exempt status. If we are a tax-exempt organization he can then deduct the amount of his contribution as provided in Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code.
What about licenses for fundraising activities? Must we obtain them? There is no flat answer here. Some states require them and some do not. Each of you will simply have to check out this problem in your own state. If your state requires a license, again, there will be the inevitable forms for you to fill out and, again too, whether or not a license will be granted to you quickly and without complication will depend greatly upon how carefully and accurately you have drafted your constitution or articles of incorporation.
You should also check into city or county ordinances regarding fundraising drives. Some cities or counties will require licenses or permission while others will not. Where they exist these might be handled through local charities commissions.
These, then, are some of the legal transactions with which each of you may one day become involved. We have had situations recently where affiliates got so bogged down with this kind of activity that they scarcely had strength and energy remaining with which to perform their important and vital functions. I would urge each of you, if you are ever involved in these affairs, to be sure to obtain all available information regarding any particular transaction with which you are involved and to study that information thoroughly before setting a pen to the paper. And I would urge something else. Make use of the expert assistance which is available to you through the Federation. After you have completed your forms as carefully and as accurately as you can, send them to President Jernigan in Des Moines, Iowa, so that he can look them over before they are submitted to the particular agency with whom you are dealing. In this way you can avoid needless delay and aggravation.
There is much constructive work to be done and we cannot afford to spend our time needlessly and helplessly tangled in red tape. We of the Federation have begun our challenge to the old concept of the helpless, hopeless blind man. As President Jernigan recently stated, it is not yet the end of the beginning but it is the beginning of the beginning. There are many challenges ahead and it is in this area where our strength and energy must be expended--not in filling out legal forms. I believe that we of the Federation are equal to the challenge. We must dream dreams of things as they ought to be for every blind person in this country and then we must work with all that is in us to turn those dreams into realities. We of the Federation have the people; we have the personal strength and capability; and we have the organization; our organization has the resources and the strength; and we have something more. We have a cause and our cause is just. And I believe that ultimately we shall prevail.
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by Peter J. Salmon
Two years ago, I had the privilege of appearing before the Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. At that time, I paid tribute to the leadership and outstanding work in the development of the Federation of the late Dr. Jacobus tenBroek. It also afforded me an opportunity, which I grasped wholeheartedly, to thank President Kenneth Jernigan and John Nagle, plus all the members of the Federation for their highest cooperation and help, which was so vital in the development of legislation leading up to the establishment of the National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. This law was signed by President Johnson on October 3, 1967. Subsequently, we needed the help of the Federation with respect to the appropriation, and we received it.
I am pleased to be able to report to you that in the meantime many good things have happened relative to the establishment of the program and its development. The initial announcement of the establishment of the National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults came on June 24, 1969, on the occasion of a very large meeting, the National Citizens' Conference on Rehabilitation, held in Washington, D.C. Dr. Mary E. Switzer, Administrator of the Social and Rehabilitation Service, made the announcement of the award to The Industrial Home for the Blind to conduct the National Center, as a major part of her remarks on that occasion.
The Anne Sullivan Macy Service for Deaf-Blind Persons, which IHB had been conducting for seven years concluded on June 27, 1969, which was Helen Keller's birthday. On June 28 the new National Center program was begun, and IHB was able to go ahead immediately in the development of the program because it was possible to recruit a nucleus of the National Center service personnel from the Anne Sullivan Macy Service program.
Interestingly, within a few days the first cooperative effort was the establishment of a deaf-blind person in Texas who needed some additional mobility in order to be able to travel to a job opening for him at Goodwill Industries. This happy situation involved not only the National Center and Goodwill Industries, but also the Texas Commission for the Blind. We look at it as auguring well for services to deaf-blind persons over the United States, where combined efforts of the Center and other agencies will be of prime importance.
It took some months to have the permanent agreement signed with the Social and Rehabilitation Service of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and we were able to move immediately after that to obtain a temporary center for the operation of the program, located at 105 Fifth Avenue, New Hyde Park, New York. The temporary center made it possible for us to provide a number of services to deaf-blind persons, but until the permanent center is set up we will have to rely on the IHB facilities to provide any rehabilitation and other services to deaf-blind youths and adults.
We have been recruiting additional staff, and this is one of the vital areas still to be developed. It is contemplated that we will have four regional offices, the first of which has been established in California and is located at the Glendale Security Building, Suite 404-405, 102 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale, California. Mrs. Vera Schiller, who is a former IHB staff member who took a position in California, is the director. This is a very fortunate circumstance. We intend to open up another regional office in Atlanta, Georgia, in September of this year. Two other offices will be established, one in the Midwest and another in the East, within the next year.
Through a very fortunate situation involving the cooperation of the Regional Office of HEW in New York, we were able to contact the Office of Surplus Property Utilization of HEW, and after negotiations which took a minimum of time, were able to obtain twenty-five acres of property at Sands Point, Long Island, which is about thirty miles from New York City. This will be the site of the permanent National Center, and we have already appeared before the Appropriations Committee of the House with respect to the funding for this permanent facility in which we will carry forward the program of services to deaf-blind youths and adults.
We have written a report regarding the seven-year regional program which comprised the areas of Regions I, II, and III of HEW along the Eastern seaboard, in which we were able to demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of rehabilitation for deaf-blind youths and adults. This is a very interesting account which, in part, outlines the events leading up to the establishment of the National Center. It is entitled Out of the Shadows, and it is my privilege now to present a copy of this report to your President, Kenneth Jernigan. I have autographed it and again indicated our appreciation to the Federation for its magnificent support of the developments leading up to the establishment of the National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. I would also like to make twenty-five copies available to the Federation. In addition, may I say that through the kindness and thoughtfulness of Mr. Robert Bray and the Library of Congress, Out of the Shadows is being put into braille and will be distributed through the regional libraries.
If Helen Keller had lived until June 27, 1970, she would have been ninety-years old. She did live long enough to know that her dream of a lifetime was to become a reality, where a National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults, as well as a separate program for the training and education of deaf-blind children, would be established. In the past, when we have spoken of deaf-blind people, it has always been to plead that they might be taken out of their great isolation and brought into the stream of human relations. Now we can look forward with great hope and faith that, though the program may take time to develop, never again will deaf-blind persons be in the very untenable and inhuman situation in which they have lived in the past. This will not be a miracle program of service to deaf-blind persons, but one of dedication, labor, and faith, and gradually, thousands of deaf-blind persons will come out from the shadows into the light of participation with their family and community.
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Tragedy is not always the end of something; it can, with courage and faith, be a beginning. Such is the case in the tragedy of blindness. Blind people have their symbol of courage in the white cane.
The white cane is more than an instrument of self-help--it is a familiar reminder to those who can see that any tragedy can be transcended by faith and self-confidence.
It is, therefore, not only the blind who benefit from the white cane, but all men, for it is a symbol of courage and determination that is universal and that speaks to the heart of all mankind.
To make our citizens more fully aware of the significance of the white cane, and of the need for motorists to exercise caution and courtesy when approaching its bearer, the Congress, by a joint resolution, approved October 6, 1964 (78 Stat. 1003), has authorized the President to issue annually a proclamation designating October 15 as White Cane Safety Day.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICHARD NIXON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 15, 1970, as White Cane Safety Day.
I urge all Americans to observe this day by increasing their understanding of the problems of the blind, learning more about the accomplishments of the blind, and seeking ways in which the blind may add even more than they already have to their own personal fulfillment and to the progress of our nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 29th day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred ninety-fourth.
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Russell Getz was born December 16, 1918. It was discovered that he had glaucoma at the age of six, and unsuccessful eye surgery resulted in blindness. He graduated from the Indiana State School for the Blind and attended Goshen College and Indiana University where he prepared to be a social worker. A discriminatory requirement in Indiana that social workers be able to drive prevented him from finding the employment for which he was prepared and he became employed in a factory that manufactures automatic electronic controls. Russell Getz and his wife Mary are the parents of two girls. His hobby is the taping and exchanging of letters with correspondents.
In 1958 Russell Getz and his wife organized the Tri County Chapter of the Indiana Council of the Blind of which he was president. He was elected president of the Indiana Council of the Blind in 1959, and he was again elected to that office in 1967 and 1968.
The Indiana Council of the Blind was organized in 1954 and became an affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind with the presentation of its charter at Louisville the same year. Hugh McGuire worked for reinstatement into the Federation's ranks after the earlier State organization had been suspended for inactivity. Mr. John Miller of Lake County was the first president, followed by Russell Getz in 1959.
In 1964 there was an attempt to destroy the workshop at the Indiana State Agency for the Blind and to throw it into the hands of Goodwill Industries. This move was defeated by a statewide meeting as well as through effort and publicity. In the 1965 legislative session five bills were acted on favorably because of the Council's efforts. The residence requirement was reduced from three years to one year. Liens on the property of former welfare clients could be dropped after a five-year period off the rolls. A two thousand dollar exemption for blind real estate owners was voted, and perhaps most important, Ray Dinsmore was appointed to fill a seat on the State advisory board of the Indiana State Agency for the Blind as a representative of the Indiana Council of the Blind. This important measure is recognition of the right of the blind to organize and to be consulted in matters which concern them. The Governor has since refused to approve appointment of other qualified blind individuals to this committee.
The Council has sponsored bills to improve the vending stand programs of the State and it was instrumental in increasing the allowance for rehabilitation from seventy dollars a month to one hundred dollars a month. In 1969 the Indiana General Assembly passed the Model White Cane Law exactly as originally framed by Jacobus tenBroek and Russell Kletzing. In the same session a resolution was passed by the General Assembly asking the State colleges not to withhold recommendation of a blind person for a teaching certificate if the person is qualified. A recommendation from an institution of higher education is required of teachers in Indiana. Until this time, Indiana's blind public school teachers had been educated out of the state. The 1969 session passed a badly-needed aid to the blind increase, but this was later vetoed by the Governor.
Legislative plans in Indiana include the establishment of a commission for the blind, the transfer of blind schools from the Department of Institutions to the Department of Public Instruction, the establishment of an advisory committee on which blind people will serve based on geographical distribution, the development of a modern orientation center, and the encouragement of industry to hire the blind.
The Indiana Council's chapters are seven in number--Lake County, St. Joseph County, Tri County, Kass County, Allen County, Vandenburgh County, and Marion County. The Council looks forward to continued legislative effort and support of NFB programs.
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[Reprinted from the Fullerton, California News-Tribune]
Dr. Howard K.S. Brown, a Fullerton radiologist, who turned to psychiatry studies when his sight began to fail, has been named as chief-of-staff of Brea Hospital-Neuropsychiatric Center.
Brown talked with reporters about his unusual situation.
He explained that his sightlessness was the result of the same disease that afflicted comedian Bob Hope. Brown noted that Hope still has some vision in the eye which was affected. Treatment is now available through cyclotrons taking care of the pituitary gland. "Now, using early treatment forty percent can be saved," he said. The disease involves the deterioration of the arteries which are connected to the eyes.
Brown has practiced radiology and psychiatry in Fullerton since 1960. He formerly was located in San Diego. He entered psychiatric practice in 1967. Previously he had gone to medical school at Stanford University, graduating in 1949 and in 1953 took his internship at Veterans Administration Center in Los Angeles in radiology. His eyesight began to fail and he lost it completely in the 1960's.
Brown explained that he had four specialties when he was in medical school, one of which was in psychiatry, so it wasn't a new thing to him. He was offered a residency in psychiatry at Palo Alto at the time he took radiology. He decided on radiology instead, because he didn't want to divide his time between two cities in Northern California, since he had recently married. But he finally wound up returning to psychiatry because of his failing eyesight.
Having taken courses in both phases of medical science, the "concretistic" side of radiology helps the other side, psychiatry, he explains. Some young doctors can't understand this, but he explained one instance of how one subject helps the other.
Early in his psychiatric career a woman came to him with what had been diagnosed as psychosomatic pains in her back. The more she talked the more he felt the pains were the result of physical illness. As it turned out, he said, the woman had an incurable cancer of the pancreas. Although the results were tragic, his diagnosis was correct, based on his previous experience.
He said that at the end of his first year of psychiatry he completely lost his sight and he stopped for a month of "soul-searching" as he put it. Then he picked up again and continued.
"There are some advantages in not being able to see" in his profession, he said. "We have a great tendency to judge people by what they look like." He has to go by their voices and the way they shake his hand for instance, he added. Their dress does not matter.
He said that in the case of women patients, they can be more free to talk without blushing, he noted.
"In some ways it may be a handicap," he said. "People look at me and say 'you have worse problems than I have' and add that they must be very weak not to be able to cope with their own problems."
Then there are the visual cues, which he substitutes by using cues of touch and conversation. Brown said the first ten words usually can confirm a diagnosis.
He smiled as he said he had to get accustomed to "having a small phone book in my head," and proudly explained that he confounded some doctors by saying the coffee wasn't ready because he could hear attendants cleaning the percolator which had become empty.
Brown has a wife and seventeeen-year-old daughter who decided to follow in his footsteps by going to medical school specializing in pediatrics or dermatology.
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by William G. Corey
The Western Pennsylvania Chapters of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind held their 10th annual meeting Saturday, May 23rd, in the Roosevelt Hotel, Pittsburgh. Attendance at this year's conclave was the largest in the ten-year history of these meetings. The session opened shortly after 1 p.m. with the reading of the minutes of our 1969 meeting in Rochester.
Heading events of the afternoon was the discussion of library services and new programs being developed by Miss Mona Warrner, Head Librarian of the Regional Library for the Blind in Pittsburgh, followed by a short question and answer period. Next on the program was the first of two panel discussions relating to services for the blind and the relationship of the Federation to the agencies administering these services. Those participating in this panel discussion included Dr. Alton G. Kloss, Superintendent of Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, Pittsburgh; Dr. L. Leon Reid, Executive Director of the Greater Pittsburgh Guild for the blind; William James, Manager Pittsburgh office of the Bureau for the Visually and Physically Handicapped, Department of Public Welfare; Miss Warrner; and William H. Murray, Executive Director York County Center for the Blind. Moderator was Robert Morganstern, third vice president of the PFB. Luella Murray, chairman of the Liason Committee of the Federation, explained the purposes of this committee and its relationship to the agencies for the blind.
A panel discussion dealing with the Federation movement on the national, state, and local levels in Pennsylvania rounded out the afternoon meeting. Among participants in this discussion were John Nagle, Chief of the Washington Office of the NFB, Dr. Mae Davidow and many others. Jack Schumacher, organizer and president of the Mountain City Area Federation of the Blind in Altoona, was moderator for this panel.
A highlight of the evening was our annual banquet, with 102 people in attendance, and an inspiring talk by John Nagle on the Federation and what membership in the Federation could mean to all blind people. Other events included a drawing for many prizes and an excellent program of music presented by the Betty Dugan Chorale.
The Golden Triangle Federation of the Blind, Pittsburgh, was host chapter.
We sincerely believe that as a result of these meetings a new spirit of cooperation will effect a great improvement in quality of the services to the blind and visually handicappped in Pennsylvania.
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by Patrick Young
[The following article is reprinted from the National Observer.]
Dental insurance may be ready for its great leap forward.
Today, an estimated 6,500,000 Americans have dental coverage, similar to policies that help pay doctor and hospital bills. This is a small percentage of the population--only about 3 percent--when compared with the 85 percent that carries medical insurance. But the figure is up from 5,236,800 one year ago, and far above the 732,300 covered in 1960.
Insurance men see dental plans as a logical extension for employee demands in fringe benefits. Too, there is a growing awareness of dental disease as a health problem. Given these two factors, insurance men expect dental insurance to gain increasing favor across the nation.
Inflation gets the blame for the slower-than-expected growth, and it could forestall future expansion. Almost all dental insurance is a fringe benefit provided by employers; about half the people are covered as a result of contracts negotiated by labor unions. Soaring medical, hospital, and surgical costs have required additional money simply to maintain health care already provided in many policies.
"Because of that, we have not seen the input into dental care that we forecast," says Herbert C. Lassiter, executive vice president of the Delta Dental Plans Association, a trade group headquartered in Chicago for insurance plans sponsored by state dental associations. "We now have the impression that dental care is in the forefront of several big unions in their forthcoming contract negotiations."
Labor unions gave the initial impetus and provided the continued force for much of dental insurance's growth. The first plan was negotiated in 1954 by the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen's Union, on the West Coast. The Washington State Dental Association set up a dental-service corporation to administer the program. Today, nearly half the people covered by dental insurance reside in seven Western states. Dental benefits, however, interest unions across the country.
For many years it was gospel among commercial insurance companies that dental care wasn't insurable. "Something insurable is something that occurs relatively infrequently, but when it happens, it is usually expensive," says one insurance executive. Dental disease these days, however, is almost as sure as death and taxes.
Too, dental trouble is cumulative. Ignore a tiny spot of decay and it grows until the tooth goes, or worse. Thus, many insurance men worried that the influx of bills from people utilizing their insurance to repair years of neglect would prove too expensive. But with group policies, this problem has been largely overcome.
In the long run, it is cheaper for insurance carriers if people utilize their dental policies regularly. This is because once serious trouble is cured in the first year, the cost of maintaining a healthy mouth is comparatively low.
"We had one sizable contract where the first-year costs were high, but now they have stabilized and we have not had to raise our rates," reports Charles Drummey, director of group-insurance research for Connecticut General Life Insurance Company in Hartford, Connecticut.
Dental insurance encourages people to visit their dentists. Occidental Life Insurance Company of California in Los Angeles has documented this trend. "After dental insurance became effective in one group, utilization went up from 45 percent to 75 percent in the first year," says C. Donald Hankin, an Occidental vice president.
The vast majority of dental-insurance policies are group contracts. Six companies do write provisions for dental care into their regular medical policies for individuals. But such contracts cause considerable problems for carriers. "Any individual can tell so clearly what his dental needs are before applying for a policy," says Mr. Burton of Aetna.
Few people seem willing to take out policies on their own, unless they expect a considerable return. As a result, prices are high and public interest is low in individual dental insurance. "The need for individual coverage isn't as great as we anticipated," a spokesman for Mutual of Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska, acknowledges.
There are three basic groups now providing dental insurance: commercial insurance companies, state dental associations, and other health plans, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Dental-service plans sponsored by state dental associations--which the associations like to call "not-for-profit plans" to distinguish them, from profit-making commercial companies--now cover more than 2,000,000 persons. Twenty-seven states have such programs.
The nation's 74 Blue Shield and 75 Blue Cross plans, which provide medical coverage for about 45 percent of the population, are just entering the dental-insurance field. "We are really in the development stage," says William E. Ryan, a senior vice president of the National Association of Blue Shield Plans, headquartered in Chicago. "You had to wait until there was sufficient interest to give yourself a broad enough base."
The increasing demand for dental insurance generated the Blues interest in providing coverage. "Employers don't want to deal with 10 different agencies to put together a comprehensive health package," says H.G. Pearce, a senior vice president of the Blue Cross Association of Chicago. Adds Mr. Ryan: "The basic concern we have is that this benefit be available across the country."
The future for dental insurance, however, is clouded by the spiral of medical and dental costs. Inflation could deflate dental insurance's growth and the rosy future many insurance men now envision. "The only real deterrent is cost," says Mr. Burton of Aetna. "And that is a significant deterrent.
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by Sidney Gruber
[Reprinted from the Burbank Daily Review, Burbank, California]
Loss of sight is a tragic occurrence in the life of any human being, it can lead to desperation but it needn't have that result.
Such is the philosophy of Mrs. Charles (Nancy) Smalley, a blind housewife and mother of two children who is president of the Glendale-Burbank Area chapter of the California Council of the Blind.
Indeed, it was through the direct efforts of Mrs. Smalley that the local chapter has built itself up to form a vital branch of the statewide council. Organization and development of the local branch is Mrs. Smalley's main interest, and this is by no means an easy chore. "It's very difficult to find blind people for our organization," Mrs. Smalley said. "We're still interested in building up the group, and for me it's a matter of making frequent telephone calls. Our job really is to find new recruits and to show them that their handicap can be overcome. "We try to bring home to them the fact that there are blind people who are working and leading a normal family life."
This in fact is the stated function of the California Council of the Blind, an organization of sightless individuals begun in October, 1934, in Fresno, California. Its goals are to gain full independence, equality of opportunity and social acceptance for blind persons. Whether blind by birth, disease or natural damage, the council can serve as a genuine "arm" for such afflicted persons said Mrs. Smalley, herself the victim of an exploding dynamite cap at the age of twelve years.
The will to continue her education and lead a normal life could not be denied the young native of Joplin, Missouri. She completed grades six through eight at the Missouri School for the Blind in St. Louis before moving to the West Coast in 1952. After studying for three years at Los Angeles Polytechnic High School and graduating with her secondary credential in 1955, she attended UCLA for three years, then entered San Francisco State College, from which she graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1959.
Intending to embark on a teaching career, Mrs. Smalley commenced graduate study at San Francisco State but marriage "interrupted" a promising occupation in that field.
Today, the 34-year-old housewife is the mother of two youngsters, Jeffrey, four; and Kevin, seven months. Her husband, Charles, a native of Northern California, has been employed as a social worker for the County of Los Angeles for the past ten years.
Does being blind interfere with Mrs. Smalley's chores as a housewife and mother?
"That's a question I've been asked many times," she said. "As far as discipline with the kids, I handle them the way most people do.
"I go grocery shopping with the neighbors, but that's about the extent of their help."
Any housework that one would think troublesome to the sightless has been made easier with the aid of a few mechanical devices. The family's oven thermometer, for instance, is marked in Braille. A Braille clinical thermometer is available to check the health of the children.
Cooking recipes are also available in Braille and the determined householder is adept at doing her own laundry and ironing.
Mrs. Smalley comes to the position of president of the local chapter of California Council of the Blind with several years' experience in work for and with the blind, such activity being her chief interest outside the home.
As president, Mrs. Smalley will be required to preside at all chapter meetings, appoint committees and be ready to answer and assist the sightless with questions on job referrals and state welfare problems.
"One of the important things the council does," Mrs. Smalley said, "is provide scholarships for blind students. This is possible with the money obtained from fundraising projects. Last year $4,000 in such scholarships were awarded to needy students on a statewide basis. We here in the Burbank area intend to do our part again this year."
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by Pearl Ottenheimer
[Reprinted from the San Francisco (California) Sunday Examiner & Chronicle.]
The next time you are bored with cooking, provoked by its necessity and feel trapped, put an eye mask on, grope your way around the kitchen and cook a meal. Difficult? Of course. Yet "cooking with touch" is a necessity for the blind and near blind.
In a class at the Orientation Center for the Blind in Albany, California four teen-agers approach their cooking chores with enthusiasm. They come into the classroom dressed in zingy fashion--mini-skirted, high boots, swinging long, straight hair, laughing and chatting. Only the tap, tap of their canes made one aware of a handicap.
Students reside at the center approximately four to six months, not for vocational training but rather pre-vocational--learning to take care of themselves, preparing for productive lives in the world of the sighted. It is the only facility of its kind in the state, administered by the State Department of Rehabilitation and all of the blind or near blind students are high school graduates or at least eighteen years old, and for many this is the first time away from home.
"Learning to cook with touch increases their confidence," said home economics instructor Jane Teeter. "Many have lived sheltered lives; allowed, sometimes to wash dishes but never to approach a stove or prepare a meal."
The center has three modern, compact kitchens with an open section between so the instructor can observe the action in each work area. Containers, drawers and shelves are labeled in braille. Dials on the stove and oven are marked with blobs of glue indicating temperature stops
Preparation of potato salad, hamburgers and fresh apple pie was the lesson for the day. Each student used braille recipes.
As the novice cooks began, it was a great temptation to help--find a spoon, reach for a needed ingredient or turn the stove dials. But, observing Jane Teeter's kind and gentle manner of instructing, it is obvious that what each student most needs is to learn by application and gain confidence with each attempt.
Recipe sources are braille cookbooks and braille copies from newspapers, magazines and books. One helpful source is "The Co-op Low Cost Cookbook" which is particularly useful for students planning to live in apartments when they go to college. In the book you'll find numerous ways of preparing hamburger. This one is a little different, using ground lamb.
Syrian Meat Balls with Curry Sauce:
Combine 1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 1 egg, 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon salt. Mix thoroughly. Form into balls and brown in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet for 8 to 10 minutes. They should be well-browned on outside but medium rare in the center. While the meat balls are cooking, begin the sauce.
Melt 6 tablespoons margarine in a 2-quart pan. Add 2 stalks celery, chopped; 1 large onion, diced, and 1 large apple, peeled, cored and diced. Cook until celery softens. Add 1 tablespoon curry powder, 2 cups tomato paste; cook 10 minutes. Add the meat balls to sauce and reheat. Serve over rice or pilaff. Serves 6. Authentic Syrian meat balls would include 1/2 cup pine nuts which are expensive. Chopped walnuts may be substituted.
A dessert recipe the class is partial to is this easy one made of convenience foods.
Pour contents of 1 can pie cherry mix into lightly buttered 8-inch square pan. Smooth out. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle 1/2 package of yellow cake mix (dry) over top; smooth out. Sprinkle 1 cup chopped walnuts on top and drizzle 1/2 cup melted butter over all. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Serve plain or with cream.
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[The following letter is from Craig R. Anderson of St. Paul, Minnesota.]
To the Editor:
There appears in the May, 1970, Monitor an item describing Public Law 87-614, which enacted into the federal Civil Service law a provision permitting federal agencies to appoint reading assistants for their blind employees without the reading assistants' having to take civil service examinations. You indicate that this law is little-used for the obvious reason that there is rarely anyone willing or able to compensate such a reading assistant. Yet, this legislation is one of the few affirmative legal encouragements in existence for the employment of the blind.
The resulting lack of protection for prospective blind professionals seems to me to constitute more than a deterrent to their employment. It is, with exceptions (of which I suppose I am presently an example), a sweeping denial to the blind applicant of any chance to be employed in a professional capacity on an equal basis with his sighted counterparts. The blind should not be treated as second-class citizens, either on the job or elsewhere. However, to relegate a blind employee to a job which requires no reading in its performance is often to treat him in just this way.
Two currently popular methods of alleviating this problem are the use of unpaid volunteer readers and of vocational rehabilitation agencies. I would maintain that neither of these approaches is very satisfactory. In any event, neither has in fact worked very well. The job of a reading assistant requires a person of considerable ability and infinite patience. None could reasonably be expected to hold such a position for long without pay. Rehabilitiation agencies are, by definition, dedicated to rehabilitation and to little else. A blind applicant for a professional job presumably has already been rehabilitated, in the conventional sense of that term, or, having been blind all his life, has never had anything to be rehabilitated from. Moreover, the benevolent paternalism which seems to be the order of the day with most agencies for the blind seems ill-suited to meeting the needs of someone who wants only a fair chance to do a job.
The problem cannot be sloughed off onto the employer of the potential blind employee. An employer who may already be reluctant to hire someone who is blind will usually be made much more reluctant to do so by the prospect of having to pay out large sums for reading assistance if he is to expect a satisfactory job from that particular applicant.
H.R. 3782 would, if passed, undoubtedly embody a great step toward the solution of this problem. However, it may be asked whether even this proposal would go far enough. Special expenses for many new blind employees would be likely to exceed substantially anything they might receive under these proposed social security amendments. Perhaps a one hundred percent federal income tax credit for special legitimate employment-related expenses which a blind taxpayer incurred would prove helpful in this area. Whatever the ultimate solution, if, as some think, the proper social welfare function of the Government includes the furnishing of such financial assistance as is necessary to enable anyone to participate in society unhandicapped by factors over which he clearly has no control, then the Government should assure that no one who is blind is denied the status and dignity that go with a job commensurate with his inclination and ability simply because he cannot afford the job's expenses.
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Bill Straley graduated first in his class as a computer programmer at a technical school in December but he had difficulty finding a job in this supposedly wide-open field because he is blind. He received the same response from interviewers at more than one hundred companies in and around Washington, D.C., "We'll call you if anything comes up." Interviewers were reluctant to say that they would not hire him because of his blindness.
After attending Mercer County Community College and Monmouth College where he majored in sociology, Bill opened a television repair shop and fixed bad pictures by listening to the changes in pitch of the static on a radio. He operated repair shops in New Jersey until April, 1969, when he went back to school to learn computer programming on the advice of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind.
Bill felt that he made interviewers uncomfortable because of his blindness; he usually encountered a personnel director who had never had a blind person seek employment with his firm. He anticipated questions about his mobility by travelling to interviews in unfamiliar locations on the bus. This is an answer to the question, "How are you going to get back and forth to work?" Bill found he could not eliminate the interviewer's surprise at his blindness by telling him ahead of time on the telephone or in an application that he is blind.
He is one of four hundred blind people in the field of computer programming in the United States. This job involves the writing of instructions that will tell the machine how to manipulate the data inside it. Bill uses a special frame to line up the computer cards and he types the instructions on the cards.
Employment came to Bill Straley in an unexpected way. He was beginning to think the television ads saying that his field was crying for recruits were a lot of hot air. A local newspaper article about his difficulty in finding a job elicited an offer from the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America where he is now employed as a computer programmer.
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by William M. Kapp
[The following is reprinted from Performance, publication of the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.]
"One of my students said that I am a legend in my own time. To me, that means I might as well be dead. Well, I'm here to tell you that I am not." The competitive, tenacious manner in which this man works proves the truth of his own feelings about his student's expression. Completely blind since early childhood, James K. Martin teaches Air Force officers "how to teach." More specifically, he trains Air Training Command (ATC) instructors to teach fledgling aviators all of the many subjects these men must know in order to fly today's sophisticated aircraft. Martin is a Federal Civil Service employee with the ATC Instructor Training School, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
As a teacher of teachers, he helps Air Force officers learn to prepare and follow lesson plans, to recognize good teaching procedures, to adapt to behavior patterns of students so that learning difficulties can be dealt with properly, and to communicate verbally with their own students. He also teaches prospective teachers to select and manage suitable training aids. The fact that he is so successful in his duties is evidenced by his superior performance awards, his published articles in professional journals, and the testimony of his fellow instructors as well as his students.
Major Charles D. Burns, Chief of the Air Training Command Instructor's Training School, says of Mr. Martin, "His total value as a classroom instructor is impossible to measure against a given set of standards. The students he has taught in the past continue to praise him for the inspirational lift he gave them as instructor trainees."
Attainment of this success, though, has not been easy. The story of the struggles of this man and his family for the opportunity to use his abilities is truly a profile of courage and hard work.
Like many blind children in the 1930's, he received his early education at the Texas State School for the Blind in Austin. After high school he attended Texas A&M University where he studied pre-law. Finances, however, forced him to leave school after two years and take a job. The only employment opportunity for him was with the Lighthouse for the Blind in Ft. Worth, Texas, where he made mops for the Navy. Using music skills developed at the Texas State School for the Blind, he supplemented his income by playing the piano in dance bands in the Ft. Worth area. Those were hard years for Martin but they were only the first of many he was to experience.
After World War II in 1945 he had an opportunity under a Federal rehabilitation program for the blind to go to Texas A&M University to study poultry husbandry. He finished this training in one year and, with the help of his family, bought a twenty-seven-acre poultry farm near Ft. Worth. The Federal Farm-Home Administration helped finance the building of a farmhouse and four brooder houses, digging of a well, and the preparation of the farm. The following year he married Nelda Stephens. Mr. and Mrs. Martin operated their small poultry farm, and he supplemented the family income by working as a salesman for the Lighthouse for the Blind in Ft. Worth, as well as playing in a dance band. During the years the Martins operated their farm, he did chores in the morning and then hitchhiked thirty-five miles to Ft. Worth to do his sales work and play in the dance band. The day was completed with a long bus ride home each night.
In 1956 after several financially disastrous years on the farm the Martins came to realize they were just not getting ahead. They felt their hopes lay in more education. They sold everything they had, cleared their debts, and went back to Texas A&M to work on Martin's bachelor's degree. They arrived at the university with $250 for tuition, a promise of a job upon graduation and two small children to feed.
But he discovered promises are not always kept. The job didn't materialize. At least he had a part-time job at school and Nelda was working in a factory. They decided they literally had nothing to lose by staying another year to finish a master's degree. Once again he supplemented the family income by playing in dance bands. He also tuned and repaired pianos. A graduate assistantship helped keep the family fed.
He got his master's degree in general education but still didn't have a job. Although the Martins made more than 535 contacts among Federal and state governmental agencies, all offers were withdrawn when it was learned Martin was blind. Finally after fifteen discouraging months of unemployment and hardship, Air Force officials at Randolph AFB asked if he would like a teaching job with them.
Martin began working for Air Training Command six weeks later. All he needed was a chance. His success in this position is history.
Martin has become philosophical about his experiences "I suppose if there is any one thing I've learned it would be that a person probably can rarely do exactly what he wants to do when he wants to do it. If a handicapped person is going to be successful, he can't just wait for the job that is tailor-made for him to come along. He's got to get out and do everything he possibly can."
J.K. Martin has had many struggling years when, in spite of his efforts, doors to opportunity seemed locked. He emphasizes the fact that a handicapped person must try as best he can. But he also firmly feels that "people who are in positions to afford some other person a chance, have a moral obligation to allow that person the chance to prove his capabilities. I don't say give the handicapped person things free and gratis without his making the best effort he can. But I do say if there is a handicapped person who wants to try to do a job, he should at least have the chance to try it."
While most of J.K.'s goals have been met, he would still like to finish a Ph.D. in education. J.K. feels he not only should improve his own professional capabilities, but he also must continue to set an example for his children. Perhaps the piano and organ will once again provide that opportunity.
A legend in his own time? A legend of courage, faith, and tenacity.
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by Kapisha Kamangala
[Editor's Note: This speech on the welfare services in Zambia was to have been delivered at the NEB convention in July, but the author was forced to return home because of illness.]
I am sorry to say that, I can send this written speech to the conference instead of coming to represent my organization personally. However, as I had written to the president circumstances at home are so unavoidable that I have had no way out. These serious matters have called my attention for which case I have been forced to leave this training school even much earlier than the programme was intended.
In the first place I should like to state that, Zambia is a country in central Africa between Rhodesia, the democratic republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Angola and Mozambique. It is a country which was once under the British rule for a period of seventy years. We achieved independence in the year 1964 under the name of Zambia derived from one of our largest rivers in the country known as Zambezi.
The Zambia Council for the Blind and Handicapped was instituted in 1963 and has had two constitutions since then. The first constitution was very colonial and did not give rights to the blind to participate in their own affairs. This continued until 1969 in January when a new act was made and signed by the president giving the blind and other handicapped persons rights to represent their own interests. The executive head of this organization is himself blind together with his deputy. There are many sighted members of staff but generally speaking under the general collective leadership of the executive head. Under this organization are sub-committees such as a committee responsible for education of the blind and other handicapped children, another for braille and literature distribution as well as for finance. Other committees include those for agriculture, and staff appointments. We have the general council and an executive council responsible for discipline. We have offices at provincial and district levels.
We have a school which is now training blind and other handicapped persons in typing lasting one year. This dictaphone typing has provoked tremendous interest in our people both sighted and the handicapped and many have been trained and given jobs. The instructor is blind who was once sent to England for six months for this course. Many of our boys are working as telephone operators in towns and cities. The council through me trained many boys who began in turn to train others on my order. I told them that there was no time to waste, anyone who was taught should teach another and so it went on very successfully. I started to seek employment for them and very successfully placed a lot of them in jobs as telephone operators. These people proved reasonably well that many firms began asking me for more and more trained blind. Some handicapped people and deaf were employed as price markers and clerks. This was between 1966 and 1968. At the present moment, we have many handicapped people of all classes in commerce and industry mainly as telephonists. This is because we are generally lacking trained personnel.
For those who have not been to schools or who have had slight education, a sheltered workshop has been constructed where they are being trained in chair caning, basket, broom and brush making. We would like to put up as many such shops as possible for our people, but we have not sufficient funds to facilitate such kind of general acquisition of employment. Also, we have a training centre for rural agriculture where we are bringing many blind and handicapped who are not so seriously disabled to train in this sphere. These people are given a large piece of land where they are resettled as a general community with their families. We have clinics and schools for their children and health centres in case of emergency. We have provided transportation for each centre to carry the produce to the available markets from the farming centre. These people are employed by the council and paid monthly and all that they grow belongs to the council.
However, eighty percent of funds come from the government and once we have gone out of it, we often suffer a lot of pains. Our annual estimates always seem less than the general involvement because there are many blind, numbering to between 70-80,000. General survey of the blind and other handicapped people has not been adequate and therefore money is not given per capita head. Much we would like to do, but the problem lies with money, which has always been insufficient. Here I am currently studying ways and means of fundraising and how to make my nation and society understand and know where we are. Please do accept my inability to be present with you at that cordial and fruitful conference. Your sincere brother Kamangala.
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In 1967 Congress enacted a law which requires States to make upward adjustments to families with dependent children who qualify for aid. All States but California, Indiana, and Nebraska have complied. The deadline was July 1, 1969. Now, a year later and after protracted but fruitless negotiations with these three States, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has called public hearings to determine the next step. This is an orderly procedure within the rule of law. California, for instance, set a basic needs standard of $328 a month for a family of four but so far has refused to go beyond its actual payment of $221. As a result, benefits for these dependent children have dropped during the last two years from 91 percent to 67 percent of their actual needs as measured by that State's own standard of assistance. It is to be hoped that if California, Indiana, and Nebraska persist in their flagrant disregard of the law of the land, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare will not hesitate any longer to withhold all Federal funds from these States. This ultimate sanction will bring quick and desirable results.
Two researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore have reported that rats whose diets consisted exclusively of commercially prepared yogurt developed cataracts. It is unknown whether humans, if they ate nothing but yogurt for many years, would develop the same rare type of cataracts. The doctors implicated a naturally occurring sugar called galactose as the responsible ingredient. Doctors know that abnormal accumulations of galactose can cause a specific type of cataract in humans, but these are rare. Until 1960, doctors had reported finding just fifty such cases.
In June, 1970 the National Federation of the Blind Student Division published a revised edition of its Handbook for Blind College Students. This brochure contains helpful information for blind college students including tips on techniques, the role of the university in the education of the blind student, the use of rehabilitation services, the use of library services, and book producers and catalogs. The pamphlet also contains an article on the purposes and values of the organized blind movement. Appendixes include a listing of the regional libraries, the agencies distributing talking book machines in the states, the braille presses in the country, and a listing of the state presidents of the National Federation of the Blind. Those desiring copies of this brochure should write to Mrs. Judy Saunders, P.O. Box 656, Devils Lake, North Dakota 58301.
At a recent press conference, Governor Ronald Reagan of California raised the question as to whether he could qualify for Aid to the Blind. He isn't sure after a visit to his doctor to check on his eyesight. The doctor told Reagan that he was legally qualified under state law as blind. The Governor made the comment while describing and attacking what he believes are overly-liberal standards for welfare eligibility in his State. While California's Aid to Blind Law is relatively more adequate than most, and even though the Governor may be legally blind without glasses, if he applies for aid his own State Department will have to deny the application. His salary of S44,100 a year, plus his being a millionaire, would seem to disqualify the Governor on the basis of need.
Mrs. Helen Johnson, president of the Ohio Council of the Blind, calls our attention to the fact that, in the listing of publications of state affiliates in the May, 1970 issue of The Braille Monitor, we neglected to include the Ohio Council Bulletin. We are sorry for this oversight. However, one of the reasons for publishing the list was that if we inadvertently omitted any publication, we would be reminded. The Editor of the Ohio Council of the Blind Bulletin is Marie Shaffer, 24 North Prospect Street, Akron, Ohio 44304.
Mrs. Ceinwen Kingsmith of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has been denied a teaching job in the city schools. Mrs. Kingsmith, blind since birth, had applied for a job teaching Russian. She has taken her case to the U.S. District Court. She holds a master's degree from Harvard University and now teaches at a training center for hard-core unemployed in Pittsburgh.
The publication of the Virginia Commission for the Visually Handicapped reports that automation may be a boon to blind persons. Contrary to fears expressed by some people, automation is seen as a positive boon to blind manpower and other handicapped workers. Machines are leading to more, not fewer jobs for unskilled persons, according to many experts. In a recent speech, Dr. Russell A. Nixon, Associate Director of NYU's Center for Study of Unemployed, indicated that two-thirds of the jobs to be filled in the next decade would be of such nature that they could be filled by blind and handicapped persons.
At a dinner meeting held recently in Alexandria, Virginia, John Nagle, the Federation's Washington Office Chief, installed the following persons in offices of the Potomac Federation of the Blind: Marion McDonald, president; Ruth Smith, first vice-president; Robert McDonald, second vice-president; Mary Lee West, recording secretary; James Copeland, corresponding secretary; Olga Wright, treasurer; and Jerry Arsenault, Judy Duncan, and Bill Pettit as board members.
In a move of far-reaching significance, the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has issued a proposed regulation which would require state and local welfare agencies to make their program manuals and policies available to the public. These materials would include the agency's rules on need and eligibility for services, the type of services offered, and recipient rights and responsibilities. Such a rule has long been sought by the organized blind and will meet a real need.
The State Auditor's Office in Dover, Delaware has recently reported that inadequate accounting records of the Delaware Commission for the Blind make it virtually impossible to determine how much money is missing.
The Palmetto Auroran, official publication of the South Carolina Aurora Club of the Blind, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. The publication is printed on a quarterly basis and its issues over the past decade reflect the phenomenal progress and accomplishments of the Aurora Club of the Blind. The Braille Monitor salutes The Palmetto Auroran and its distinguished Editor, Donald C. Capps, on their accomplishments in behalf of the blind men, women, and children of South Carolina.
After the House of Representatives passed the President's Family Assistance Plan in April, this sweeping welfare reform measure ran into deep trouble in the hearings before the Senate Finance Committee. That Committee told the Administration, in effect, to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better bill. In June the President resubmitted to the Congress a revamped plan designed to meet the objections of conservatives on the Committee. The chief change is the proposal to replace Medicaid with a national health insurance program for the family poor. The President's Family Health Plan will not go to the Congress in legislative form until next January, at which time it is certain to generate a great deal of debate between the liberals who feel that the plan is too little and too late, and the conservatives who feel that it is too much, too soon. In the meantime, the Administration hopes that its original Family Assistance Plan will pass this year by writing in assurances that next year it will submit a Family Health Plan, fitting in such items as food stamps, medical care, and supplements to housing. The Family Assistance Plan may be enacted this calendar year--but don't bet on it.
The Fort Wayne (Indiana) Council of the Blind held its third annual banquet on May 2, 1970. Mr. B.A. Masoodi was the speaker. He is one of Indiana's four blind teachers in the public schools of the State. On May 29th Garold McGill, president of the Fort Wayne Council, testified at the Penn Central Railroad's hearing on its request to discontinue the remainder of its passenger trains. Many blind people do not like to fly or do not have the financial means to do so. Even though there are many blind persons working in just about every conceivable branch of employment, most of them fall into the middle income class of between five and ten thousand dollars a year. With the discontinuance of train service the only alternatives would be automobiles, which the blind cannot drive, interstate bus service, which is also being reduced, and travel by air. The railroad has generously granted travel books for the blind which give a two-for-one fare to allow for accompaniment by a sighted guide. McGill is hopeful that other blind persons who use the railroads will make their views known at any other public hearings which may be held in their sections of the country.
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ARTICLE I NAME
The name of this organization is The National Federation of the Blind.
ARTICLE II PURPOSE
The purpose of The National Federation of the Blind is to promote the security and social welfare of the blind.
ARTICLE III MEMBERSHIP
Section a. Membership of The National Federation of the Blind shall consist of the members of the state affiliates plus members at large in states, territories, and possessions of the United States not having affiliates, who shall have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities.
Under procedures to be established by the Executive Committee, any person denied admission by a state affiliate may be admitted as a member at large. The dues of members at large shall be one dollar per year.
Section b. Each state or territorial possession of the United States, including the District of Columbia, having an affiliate shall have one vote at the National Convention and shall be referred to hereinafter as state affiliates.
Section c. Affiliates shall be organizations of the blind, controlled by the blind.
Section d. The Executive Committee shall establish procedures for the admission of new state affiliates. There shall be only one affiliate in each state, except as hereinafter provided in this Article:
(1) More than one affiliate may continue to exist in states which have more than one affiliate at the time of the adoption of this Constitution.
(2) With the consent of the organizations involved, more than one affiliate may be admitted in a state or territorial possession under procedures to be established by the Executive Committee.
(3) If all of the organizations involved do not consent to the admission of more than one affiliate in a state, such action may not be taken except by an affirmative vote of at least three-fourths of the states present and voting at a National Convention.
(4) In any state having two or more affiliates the state shall be entitled to one vote cast as a unit. The dues and voting strength shall be apportioned among the affiliates according to mutual agreement. In the absence of such agreement the dues and voting strength shall be apportioned equally.
Section e. The Convention by a two-thirds vote may expel and by a simple majority vote suspend, or otherwise discipline, any member or affiliate for conduct inconsistent with this Constitution, or policies established by the Convention; provided that notice of the proposed action shall be announced to the Convention on the preceding day.
ARTICLE IV OFFICERS, EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE,
AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Section a. The officers of The National Federation of the Blind shall consist of (1) president, (2) first vice-president, (3) second vice-president, (4) secretary, and (5) treasurer. They shall be elected biennially.
Section b. The officers shall be elected by majority vote of the state affiliates present and voting at a National Convention.
Section c. The National Federation of the Blind shall have an Executive Committee, which shall be composed of the officers plus eight members selected in the same way, whose regular term shall be two years, all eight members to be elected under this system beginning in July, 1960, four for two years and four for one year.
Section d. There shall be, in addition, a Board of Directors, the duties of the said Board shall be advisory only. The membership of the Board of Directors shall be the officers of the Federation, the elected members of the Executive Committee, and other persons, not to exceed twelve in number, who may be appointed, from time to time, by the Executive Committee, subject to confirmation by the Federation at the next ensuing annual Convention. When so confirmed, such members of the Board of Directors shall serve for one year, or until their successors shall have been appointed by the Executive Committee.
Section e. Officers, Executive Committee members, and members of the Board of Directors may be removed or recalled by a majority vote of the Convention; provided that notice of the proposed action shall be announced to the Convention on the preceding day.
Section f. No person receiving regular substantial financial compensation from The National Federation of the Blind shall be an elected officer or Executive Committee member.
ARTICLE V POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE CONVENTION
THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, AND THE PRESIDENT
Section a. Powers and Duties of the Convention.
The Convention is the supreme authority of the Federation. It is the legislature of the Federation. As such, it has final authority with respect to all issues of policy. Its decisions shall be made after opportunity has been afforded for full and fair discussion. Delegates, members, and all blind persons in attendance may participate in all Convention discussions as a matter of right. Any member of the Federation may make or second motions, propose nominations, and serve on committees; and is eligible for election to office, except that only blind members may hold elective office. Voting and making motions by proxy are prohibited. The Convention shall (when possible) determine the time and place of its meetings. Consistent with the democratic character of the Federation, Convention meetings shall be so conducted as to prevent parliamentary maneuvers which would have the effect of interfering with the expression of the will of the majority on any question, or with the rights of the minority to full and fair presentation of their views. The Convention is not merely a gathering of representatives of separate state organizations. It is a meeting of the Federation at the national level in its character as a national organization. Committees of the Federation are committees of the national organization. The nominating committee shall consist of one member from each state affiliate represented at the Convention
Section b. Powers and Duties of the Executive Committee.
The function of the Executive Committee as the governing body of the Federation between Conventions is to make policies when necessary and not in conflict with the policies adopted by the Convention. Policy decisions which can reasonably be postponed until the next meeting of the National Convention shall not be made by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee shall serve as a credentials committee. In this capacity it shall deal with organizational problems presented to it by any affiliate, shall decide appeals regarding the validity of elections in state or local affiliates, and shall certify the credentials of delegates when questions concerning the validity of such credentials arise. At each meeting, the Executive Committee shall receive a report from the President on the operations of the Federation. There shall be a standing subcommittee of the Executive Committee which shall consist of three members. The committee shall be known as the Subcommittee on Budget and Finance. It shall, whenever it deems necessary, recommend to the Executive Committee principles of budgeting, accounting procedures, and methods of financing the Federation program; and shall consult with the President on major expenditures.
The Executive Committee shall meet at the time of each National Convention. It shall hold other meetings on the call of the President or on the written request of any five members.
Section c. Powers and Duties of the President.
The President is the principal administrative officer of the Federation. In this capacity his duties consist of: carrying out the policies adopted by the Convention; conducting the day-to-day management of the affairs of the Federation; authorizing expenditures from the Federation treasury in accordance with and in implementation of the policies established by the Convention; appointing all committees of the Federation except the Executive Committee; coordinating all activities of the Federation including the work of other officers and of committees; hiring, supervising and, when necessary, dismissing staff members and other employees of the Federation and determining their numbers and compensation; taking all administrative actions necessary and proper to put into effect the programs and accomplish the purposes of the Federation.
The implementation and administration of the interim policies adopted by the Executive Committee is the responsibility of the President as principal administrative officer of the Federation.
ARTICLE VI STATE AFFILIATES
Any organized group desiring to become a state affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind shall apply for affiliation by submitting to the President of the National Federation of the Blind a copy of its Constitution and a list of the names and addresses of its elected officers. Under procedures to be established by the Executive Committee action shall be taken on the application. If the action is affirmative, the National Federation of the Blind shall issue to the organization a charter of affiliation. Upon request of the national President the State affiliate shall, from time to time, provide to the national President the names and addresses of its members. Copies of all amendments to the Constitution and/or by-laws of an affiliate shall be sent without delay to the national President. No organization shall be accepted as an affiliate and no organization shall remain an affiliate unless at least a majority of its voting members are blind. The president, the vice-president (or vice-presidents) and at least a majority of the executive committee or board of directors of the State affiliate and of all of its local chapters must be blind. Affiliates must not merely be social organizations but must formulate programs and actively work to promote the economic and social betterment of the blind. Affiliates must comply with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federation. Policy decisions of the Federation are binding upon all affiliates, and the affiliate must participate affirmatively in carrying out such policy decisions.
A general convention of the membership of an affiliate or of the elected delegates of the membership must be held and its principal executive officers must be elected at least once every two years. There can be no closed membership. Proxy voting is prohibited in state and local affiliates. Each affiliate must have a written constitution or by-laws setting forth its structure, the authority of its officers, and the basic procedures which it will follow. No publicly contributed funds may be divided among the membership of an affiliate on the basis of membership, and (upon request from the national office) an affiliate must present an accounting of all of its receipts and expenditures. An affiliate which fails to be represented at three consecutive National Conventions may be considered to be inactive, and may be suspended as an affiliate by the Executive Committee. The affiliate must not indulge in attacks upon the officers, committeemen, leaders, or members of the Federation or upon the organization itself outside of the organization, and must not allow its officers or members to indulge in such attacks. This requirement shall not be interpreted to interfere with the right of an affiliate or its officers or members to carry on a political campaign inside the Federation for election to office or to achieve policy changes. No affiliate may join or support, or allow its officers or members to join or support, any temporary or permanent organization inside the Federation which has not received the sanction and approval of the Federation.
ARTICLE VII DUES
Each state affiliate shall pay an annual assessment of $30.00. Assessments shall be payable in advance on or before January 1.
Any state affiliate which is in arrears with its dues at the time of the National Convention shall be denied the right to vote.
ARTICLE VIII DISSOLUTION
In the event of dissolution, all assets of the organization shall be given to an organization with similar purposes which has received a 501.C3 certification by the Internal Revenue Service.
ARTICLE IX AMENDMENTS
This Constitution may be amended at any regular annual Convention of the Federation by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the states registered, present, and voting. Provided further: that the proposed amendment must be signed by five member states in good standing and that it must have been presented to the President the day
before final action by the Convention.
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