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.


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


by Kenneth Jernigan

by Rami Rabby

by John F. Smith

by Kay Apley



by Susan Ford


by Marta Robinet

by Joanna Spence




by Sharon Bailey

by Natalie Matthews

by David E. Weddle

by Rosemary Varey


by Ethlyn Missroon

by Carl Gcrsuny and Mark Lefton



by Kenneth Jernigan

For more than a year the NFB has been negotiating with the Federal Communications Commission on a matter of far-reaching importance to the blind. Early in 1970 Mary Jane Keener, a young blind Iowan, applied to the FCC to take the examination for a First Class Radio License. She already held a Third Class License (though it was made less valuable to her by unreasonable restrictions attached to it).

She had just completed a two-year course of study from the DeVry Institute and was considered by them qualified for the radio First Class License. Other blind persons had taken the examination in past years and had been granted the First Class License.

Even so, Miss Keener was denied the right even to take the tests. It developed that the FCC had changed its policy in 1967, without so much as a notice or a by-your-leave. It had not thought the matter of enough importance to announce a notice of rulemaking procedure.

Miss Keener came to the NFB for help. We tried every reasonable approach. Persuasion and argument were attempted. All administrative remedies were exhausted. She was still denied the right even to take the tests.

Then, in March of 1971, the FCC announced a notice of rulemaking concerning the blind and their right to receive radio operator's licenses. You will observe, in the documentation which follows, that the FCC states the case in an extremely prejudicial manner. They even have the effrontery to state that their 1967 action was an attempt to "help the blind." Such help we could do without.

As you will also observe from the documentation, we have now taken the matter to Federal court. We will do everything we can to see that justice prevails. Neither money nor effort will be spared to see that Miss Keener and other blind people receive equal treatment under the law. This battle may be expensive and it may be drawn out in the courts, but we must not compromise and we must not retreat. Too much is at stake.

When one of us (regardless of particular locality or circumstance) is the victim of discrimination, all blind people suffer. When we submit passively or accept second class citizenship meekly, we reinforce the stereotypes which have kept us down and have kept us out through the centuries. By this action, and by others like it which we are now taking and which we intend to take, we serve notice that the blind have entered a new era. Let all of those who believe in freedom come and join us. Let those who would stand in our way prevail if they can. We will never quit, and we will never again return to the custodialism and denials of the past. This is the clear message of the Mary Jane Keener case. The following documentation will paint the picture and put the matter in context. I urge you to read it carefully and reflect upon its implications.


Before the
Washington, D.C. 20554

FCC 71-295

In the Matter of

Amendment of the Commission's Rules to Provide for the Issuance of Radio Telephone Licenses to Blind Persons

DOCKET NO. 19182


Adopted: March 24, 1971; Released: March 30, 1971

By the Commission: Commissioners Bartley and Wells dissenting; Commissioner Robert E. Lee absent.

1. Although no formal petition for rule making has been filed, the Commission is of the view that it would be appropriate at this time to examine its rules applicable to the issuance of licenses to persons who are sightless. Prompting this action is the overall concern of extending employment opportunities to the handicapped person, the advancement in technologies in the field of radio electronics, experiences gained over the past several years through the actual employment of blind operators performing functions in accordance with an appropriately endorsed Radiotelephone Third Class Operator Permit, as well as the basic contentions urged in support of requests for waiver of the existing rules.

2. The question of blind persons holding radiotelephone operator licenses is not new. Eyesight is and has been generally considered essential for the performance of most operator duties at a broadcast station as it is normally constructed. By Order released June 23, 1967 (FCC 67-749, 8 FCC 2d 696) the Commission amended Section 13.5(c)(2) of the Rules to permit an applicant afflicted with blindness to be issued a Radiotelephone Third Class Permit with an appropriate endorsement in those instances where the written examination requirements had been waived to permit oral examination and the applicant qualified for the license. It was believed at that time that sufficient adaptations could be made to the equipment to permit a blind person to perform with reasonable accuracy, the required duties. However, based on the differences in privileges and responsibilities imposed under the first or second class licenses, and because of the hazards involved in the higher class operator permit, it was determined at that time that it was not feasible to find the sightless person to be eligible for first or second class licenses.

3. At the present time there are usually two types of operators at a radio station. One is the "duty" operator who is employed for a certain number of hours each day. His responsibilities arc the routine operation of the transmitter which includes turning it on or off, reading the meters, making periodic adjustments to maintain operation within authorized limits, and maintaining required operating and program logs. Adjustments are made by manipulating the external panel controls only, and the operator is not exposed to high voltages or other hazards. The second type is the "maintenance" operator who is more technically oriented. He makes internal transmitter adjustments and repairs to the transmitter, and in doing his work is exposed to high voltage circuits. Eyesight is considered mandatory as some adjustments must be made while the transmitter is operating. The maintenance operator is required to hold a first class license but the present rules provide that a third class operator may be employed as the "duty" operator at certain stations. Actually he may be employed on a full-time or part-time basis at 81% of the AM and 99% of the FM broadcast stations. The "duty" operator is usually the announcer as well, and in those cases in which a blind person is the duty operator, special equipment must be installed by the station licensee to permit accurate reading of the meters and corresponding adjustments as needed.

4. The instant proceeding is intended to offer interested persons the opportunity to comment upon the feasibility of extending to the blind person the opportunity to qualify for a higher type of license. It seeks essentially to inquire into the sightless person's ability to maintain as well as operate the radio station as required of a higher class operator and the available technologies which would permit the sightless person's ability to best be utilized. It possible, comments should be addressed with some specificity to the following points:

(a) Should the matter of personal safety from the shock hazards from lethal voltages used in broadcast transmitters be a matter of consideration between the holder of an operator license and the station licensee and not a matter of licensing consideration by the Federal Communications Commission?

(b) Are safety devices available for transmitter maintenance by a sightless operator which would assure the safety of life of the licensed operator considering the high lethal voltages commonly used in broadcast transmitters?

(c) What restrictions if any, would be appropriate to place on a first or second class license if the same were found to be appropriate for issuance to the blind person?

(d) Should the maintenance function included as part of the higher classification be deleted from any blind operator classification?

(e) Subject to the necessary restrictions, what factors, other than operating or maintaining radio transmitters, would render the first or second class license desirable or advantageous, such as the fact that certain electronic equipment manufacturers or users require the employee to hold a particular operator license either for hiring or promotion?

(f) Should the blind operator be classified in an "ungraded" type of classification identified only by the highest number element examination passed, and thus be permitted the opportunity to seek employment in the broadcast field commensurate with his own physical and mental abilities?

In this connection, it must be recognized that the effectiveness of the sightless person as operators and maintainers of radio broadcast transmitters will in all probability vary with either the degree of sightlessness and/or the time in his life when the affliction occurred-whether at birth or later on. The Commission, apart from the examining function, lacks both the compentence and staff to make a selective determination concerning the radio operating or radio technician capabilities of the sightless persons.

(g) Should Radiotelephone First or Second Class Operator Licenses be issued to blind persons with appropriate restrictions? If so, what should the restrictions be?

If a First or Second Class License, with restrictions, is to be issued to sightless persons, what are the advantages gained over the Third Class license which allows either full or part-time operation of approximately 80% of the broadcast transmitters in existence?

5. In view of the general nature of the inquiry of this proceeding, no specific rule modifications are proposed at this time. However, we have dually labeled this a Notice of Proposed Rule Making as well as a Notice of Inquiry, so that all persons will be aware of the possibility of appropriate rule changes, and have a full opportunity to comment accordingly. If the comments herein warrant, and the public interest would best be served thereby, the Rules will be amended or modified as appears appropriate without the issuance of a further notice. If on the other hand, the changes are not deemed reasonably simple matters, they may be made the subject of further proceedings.

6. Authority of the proposed amendments is contained in Sections 4(i) and 303(1) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.

7. All interested persons are invited to file written comments on or before May 24, 1971, and reply comments on or before June 8, 1971. In reaching its determination on this matter, the Commission may also take into account any other relevant information before it, in addition to the comments invited by this Notice.

8. Persons wishing to submit views for consideration are directed to furnish an original and fourteen (14) copies of all comments, replies, pleadings, briefs or other documents filed in this proceeding with the Commission.


Ben F. Waple


670 36th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50312
May 3, 1971

Mr. Ben F. Waple, Secretary
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554

Dear Mr. Waple:

The following comments are relevant to: Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rule Making in the Matter of Amendment of the Commission's Rules to Provide for the Issuance of Radio Telephone Licenses to Blind Persons, Docket No. 19182.

1. In the fall of 1942, 1 made application to the Kansas City District Office of the Federal Communications Commission for a Radio Telephone First-Class Commercial License. In early October, I took the examination by dictating my answers to a reader. I passed the examination and received my Radio Telephone First-Class Commercial License. It carried no endorsements. I was subsequently employed by radio station KSCJ in Sioux City, Iowa, a 5,000 watt, night-time directional station, at the time owned and operated by Perkins Brothers, Company. I was legally blind at the time I took the examination. This license was renewed in 1947, and again in 1952. Early in 1951, I became totally blind. By my own choice, I left my employment at KSCJ, but continued in the electronics field in the radio-television service industry. Early in 1964, I found it desirable to once more have a Radio Telephone First-Class Commercial License. Since I had allowed my previous license to lapse, it was necessary for me to reapply and once more be examined at the Kansas City District Office. I once again dictated my answers to a reader when I took the test and again I qualified for and received my Radio Telephone First-Class Commercial License. However, this time it carried the following endorsement: "This permit is not valid for the operation of any station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, which is required directly or indirectly, by any treaty, statute or rule, or regulation pursuant to statute, to be provided for safety purposes." While holding this license, I installed, maintained, adjusted, and repaired radio equipment in different classes of two-way communications. I also was acting chief engineer for radio station KDVR, an FM station in Sioux City, Iowa.

2. While employed at KSCJ, I was assigned maintenance duty as well as operator duty. I had no vision in my right eye and the central visual acuity in my left eye was 10/200. Due to the nature of my eye disorder (glaucoma) I, for all practical purposes, had no peripheral vision. With the use of strong magnifying glasses and a flashlight, I was able to read the meters accurately. However, in performing maintenance functions where these glasses were not used, I employed the techniques of a blind person. I used the same safety practices that a sighted person would use. The transmitters were, by law, equipped with interlocks so that opening the doors that gave access to circuitry with lethal high voltages disconnected the power source developing these voltages. A grounding prod was used to discharge high voltage condensers that may still have contained some residual charge or had sufficient time to redevelop voltage. When it was necessary to make measurements or adjustments in the circuitry contained herein, different methods were employed, depending upon the nature of the problems encountered. Some adjustments were approximated, then rechecked under normal operating conditions. Where this could not be done, adjustments were made with long insulated tools, either available through regular suppliers or specially fabricated by us for the specific need. If it was necessary to make measurements in this circuitry while it was energized, test equipment was clipped onto it in a non-operative condition. There was no need to come near any lethal high voltages. This practice was followed, not only by me, but by all my co-workers. It is never desirable to jumper interlocks, and seldom, if ever, should it be necessary to do so. Safety is not a matter of sight, it is a matter of judgment.

3. It is customary and desirable that regulatory agencies of government have an interest in the general safety of the employees of the industries over which they have jurisdiction. The Federal Communications Commission should establish regulations that will allow the employees of radio stations the opportunity to perform their duties in a safe manner. However, these rules should not be established arbitrarily. The employees (or their representatives) to be affected and served by these rules, should be consulted so that their needs can best be met. One would wonder what type of safety devices would be necessary for a blind person other than those used by a sighted person. We are dealing with equipment where all components are secured and in a definite place. Once an operator becomes oriented to the equipment, good judgment should dictate the manner in which he conducts himself when working around such equipment. It is necessary that a maintenance operator have a thorough knowledge of electronics as well as good safety practices, but after all, that is the purpose of the written examination which is required of all Radio Telephone First- or Second-Class Commercial License holders. The maintenance function should not be deleted for a blind person. There have been many misconceptions about blindness and the ability of blind people to conduct themselves in a safe manner. Many insurance companies in the past would not insure blind people and those that did, required them to pay a much higher premium rate. However, in recent years, common sense is prevailing over superstition, and many insurance companies are now offering policies to blind persons on the same basis as they are offered to their sighted peers. There are many blind persons today doing jobs in industry that were once considered "hazardous for blind people." Blind people are working safely as: drill press operators, sheet metal fabricators, metal lathe operators, electricians, electrical engineers--to name only a few. There is a vast difference between a sighted person performing a task under poor lighting conditions, or with no light at all, and a blind person doing the same job using alternative techniques. Experience has proved that a blind person, properly trained, equipped and oriented, can do the average job in the average place of business and do it as well as his sighted neighbor.

4. Section 4, Paragraph F. of the Notice of Inquiry to which these comments are directed, states in part: ". . . In this connection, it must be recognized that the effectiveness of the sightless person as operators and maintainers of radio broadcast transmitters, will in all probability, vary with either the degree of sightlessness and/or the time in his life when the affliction occurred-whether at birth or later on." At this point, it would seem that some general discussion concerning blindness might be in order. Let me begin with this observation. The real problem facing blind persons in our society is not the physical loss of sight. Rather, the overriding problem--the handicap, if you will--is to be found in the misconceptions and mistaken attitudes which have for so long existed concerning blindness and blind people. Generally, this mistaken concept of blindness would hold that, by reason of his blindness, the blind individual is somehow unable to think, to perform ordinary tasks which require normal physical ability, or to demonstrate reason or good sense. In short, blind people are thought to be helpless, needing to be treated as children. Although this whole concept has now been proved to be false, it is still the prevailing public attitude concerning blindness. I say all these things since the quotation above would appear to be based in large part upon this very kind of misconception. It is said that the effectiveness of a blind person will be governed by the amount of remaining vision which he has. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What is relevant, is the background, the training, the experience, or the good judgment that he has. Further, is he thorough or haphazard? Is he conscientious or irresponsible? Is he ambitious or lazy? Is he bright or dull? These are the things which must determine whether or not a particular human being--blind or sighted--will be a competent employee. Similarly, the quote suggests an old misconception that the ability of a human being who happens to be blind is in some way governed by the time in life at which the individual has gone blind. Again, this is only a myth and has no basis in fact. What is fact, is that the person who is totally blind simply must learn different techniques--blind techniques--in order to do without sight what the sighted person does with it. In short, blindness is simply a characteristic, as is mental ability, training, experience, motiviation, judgment, temperament, and common sense. The individual who is being considered for employment must be considered on all these bases. Whether an individual will be a successful employee will depend on how well he has learned to function considering all the limitations which he has as a complex human person. When a blind person has learned to be resourceful in developing his alternative techniques, blindness need be nothing more than a nuisance to him, and he can certainly function successfully in competitive employment.

5. Why should blind people want to hold a Radio Telephone First- or Second-Class Commercial License? Although a duty operator who is blind and holds a Third-Class License may be employed in a high percentage of the AM and FM stations, these are the jobs requiring little or no technical ability. A blind person whose interest lies in the technical area would want to be able to advance to the higher positions not available to him with the Third-Class License. If he has the knowledge and ability to perform the tasks and be entrusted with the responsibilities requisite to the higher positions and his employers are willing to advance him, the Federal Communications Commission's regulations should not be a stumbling block. The two-way communications field is now closed to technically qualified blind persons because at least a Second-Class Radio Telephone License is required to maintain and repair transmitters of fixed or mobile stations, where such repairs would alter the frequency, output power, or percentage of modulation. In addition, certain electronics manufacturers or users require the employee to hold a particular operator license, either for hiring or promotion. These are some of the reasons why blind persons should be allowed to be examined for and hold a Radio Telephone First- or Second-Class Commercial License.

6. I believe that other blind persons who are technically qualified, should be allowed to hold a Radio Telephone First-Class Commercial License, the same license that I first held in 1942, which was again issued to me in 1964, and which I hold today. I believe the license should be issued without limiting endorsements. The public attitudes toward blindness of themselves are far more limiting than any endorsements the Federal Communications Commission can place upon it, and these endorsements serve only to adversely influence public attitudes. With the development of alternative techniques and special adaptations on measuring equipment, it is impossible to determine to what extent the commercial radio field may be opened up for the employment of blind persons. It is not likely that employers would entrust to blind people assignments that they thought them incapable of successfully performing. The reverse is usually true. Often blind persons do not have the opportunity to function at their full capacity. The idea of an ungraded license allowing a blind person to pass the highest element in the examination he can, and seek employment in the broadcast field commensurate with his own physical and mental abilities, is unworkable and would serve no practical purpose other than to point out that the holder of such a license is blind, a fact that is self-evident when he applies for a job.

If a blind person is to be allowed to seek employment in the communications field, commensurate with his physical and mental abilities, it would seem to me that the public interest would best be served by issuing him the class of license for which he qualifies by examination. In all probability, no further rule making would be required to allow blind persons to be examined for and receive a Radio Telephone First- or Second-Class Commercial License without limiting endorsements. It would merely require abolishing the arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, unreasonable policy adopted in 1967, a policy concerning blind persons and licenses that was made without consulting the people who were affected, namely, the blind themselves. After all, my experience has proved that blind persons were licensed as First-Class operators prior to 1967, and I know of several other blind persons who are so licensed.

I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the issues at hand, and I am requesting that the Federal Communications Commission adopt policies and procedures designed to foster and encourage blind persons to enter fields of endeavor covered by Radio Telephone First- or Second-Class Commercial Licenses. I am also requesting that I be advised of any hearings or other opportunities to comment on these matters.

Sincerely yours,

Sylvester N. Nemmers
Radio Telephone First-Class
License Pl-17-7787
Expiration Date April 2, 1975


Exhibit A

The United States of America          P3-17-5387


(Restricted Radiotelephone Certificate)

This certifies that * MARY JANE KEENER *

FM      5ft 3 in          105        BROWN                  BROWN            August 26, 1949
is a licensed radio operator, authorized, subject to any special endorsement placed hereon, to operate the classes of licensed radio stations for which this class of license is valid under the orders, rules and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission, any statute of the United States and any treaty to which the United States is a party.

This license is granted under the authority of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and the terms and conditions thereof and of all legislative acts, executive orders, and treaties to which the United States is signatory, and all orders, rules and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission which are binding upon radio operators, are made a part hereof as though specifically set out in full herein.

Neither this license nor the rights certified to herein shall be assigned or otherwise transferred to any other person.

Place and date of issuance: KANSAS CITY. MISSOURI JULY 30, 1969

Date and time of expiration _________ at three o'clock A.M., E.S.T.


Federal Communications Commission

/s/ Mary Jane Keener           /s/ Paul F. Hampton     /s/ Ben F. Waple
(Licensee)                 (Issuing Officer)         (Secretary)



NUMBER: P 3 -17 -5 387


This permit is not valid for the operation of any station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission which is required, directly or indirectly, by any treaty, statute of Rule or Regulation pursuant to statute to be provided for safety purposes.

This license is not valid for the operation of any station licensed by the Commission unless the station has been adapted for operation by a blind person and the equipment to be used in such station for that purpose is capable of providing for operation in compliance with the Commission's Rules.

Limited operation of Broadcast Station authorized pursuant to Rules of the Commission. (Refer to endorsement 2 above)

JUL 30 1969            /s/ Paul F.Hampton             Kansas City, Mo.
DATE                    ISSUING OFFICER                      CITY



July 7, 1970

Mr. Harold Samer
2505 Woodson Road
Overland, Missouri 63114

Dear Mr. Sarner:

I have been asked to handle your request concerning Miss Mary J. Keener. I'll be happy to be of assistance.

Miss Keener at the present time has completed 67 lessons in our communications program. The first 41 lessons are involved with the fundamentals of electronics and the other lessons were advanced lessons in the field of communications. This program is designed to give the student information to pass the examination given by the Federal Communications Commission for a First Class License. Her progress to this point can only be described as excellent. For the most part the grades she has received on the examinations are 100%. There is one exam for each lesson completed.

In addition to the written portion of the training, there is also 16 shipments of laboratory work of which Miss Keener has completed 13 shipments. She has constructed a transistorized voltmeter and oscilloscope as well as performed a number of experiments on various circuits used in electronics.

I trust the above will be of assistance to you and if there is any further information necessary, don't hesitate to contact me.


L. L. Reich
Consultation Department


Exhibit D

United States of America


1. _______ Your recent FCC Application Form 756 is being returned to you for completion.

Complete the following items and return the application to this office: (If filing fee has been received on this application, the application must be returned to receive credit for the payment.) Items:__________________________

2. _______ Your FCC Application Form 756 is being returned to you. Attach the required filing fee and return the application to this office. (See Section 1.1117 of the Commission's Rules which appears on the reverse side of the form)

3. _______ Enclosed are two copies of FCC Application Form 756 and a copy of FCC Form 756-B. One copy of Form 756 and Form 756-B should be returned to this office with the appropriate filing fee. (See Sections 1.1117 and 13.72 and the excerpts from Section 13.11(a) of the Commission's Rules which appear on the reverse side of this form)

4. _______ Your license and verification card, if any, must accompany your application for a renewal license. If either is lost, mutilated, or destroyed, complete the pertinent sections of Item 11 on the Application Form 756 and submit an explanation. (If filing fee has been received on this application, the application must be returned to receive credit for the payment.)

5._______ You do not qualify for renewal of your Commercial Radio Operator License since the application was not filed during the allowable renewal period. You may apply for renewal under the Commission's Rules not later than one year after expiration of the license. (See the excerpt from Section 13.11(a) of the Commission's Rules which appears on the reverse side of this form)

6. XXX We are returning your application and fee to you because according to the FCC Rules and Regulations (See Section 13.5) a First Class Radio Telephone License may not be issued to a blind person.

/s/ Paul Hampton
Engineer in Charge
1703 Federal Building
601 East 12th Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64106

Mary Jane Keener
Rural Route 2, Box 111
Cascade, Iowa 52033


Exhibit E


July 20, 1970

Mr. Curtis B. Plummer
Chief, Field Engineering Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554

Dear Mr. Plummer:

FCC Rule 13.22, 47 CFR 13.22 reads as follows:

Applicants for original licenses will be required to pass examinations as follows:

(b) Radiotelephone First-Class Operator License:

(1) Ability to transmit and receive spoken messages in English.

(2) Written examination elements: 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Pursuant to FCC Rule 13, 47 CFR 1.3, as representative of Mary Jane Keener, I hereby request that the Commission modify its above Rule 13.22 to provide Miss Keener the opportunity to lake the written examination through the use of either a reader, Braille materials, or a tape recording.

Mary Jane Keener is a graduate of the DeVry Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, where she studied Radiotelephonic Communications, while compiling an impressive student record. On July 30, 1969 she was issued by the FCC, a Radiotelephone Third Class Operator Permit (See attached Exhibit A). More recently, Miss Keener applied for employment at Radio Station WMT, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At that time she was told that that station wanted to interview her and that should her qualifications meet WMT standards, the station would be willing to make substantial investments to adapt its equipment for her use. Nevertheless, she was further told that that station could not even consider hiring her until she had obtained a Radiotelephone First Class Operator License. These points were reiterated to me orally and partially summarized in a letter sent to me by Mr. Ross Wilson, Chief Engineer at Station WMT (See attached Exhibit B). On May 14, 1970, Miss Keener applied to the Kansas City Regional Office for a Radiotelephone First Class Operator License. That office returned Miss Keener's application thereby refusing her the opportunity to be examined "because according to FCC Rules and Regulations (See Section 13.5) a First Class Radio Telephone License may not be issued to a blind person" (See attached Exhibit C).

This request that Rule 13.22 be modified is based on the following considerations which taken together, and in the context of Miss Keener's situation, constitute "good cause":

A. Miss Keener seeks no special favor from the Commission. All she seeks is the same opportunity to prove her qualifications as is granted sighted persons in her position. Miss Keener seeks an opportunity to pursue a livelihood in the area of Radiotelephonic Communications; Station WMT is willing to provide her this opportunity and will adapt its equipment in order to insure both the safety of Miss Keener and the interest of the public. The Commission's rule for which modification is herein sought, stand in the way.

B. The Commission has expressed the concern that since First Class Operator duties generally relate to such maintenance duties as the installation, service, and testing of transmitters and the determination of data concerning circuit conditions and since those duties require the use of written materials and the working with lethal voltages and currents, it is in best interests of all concerned, especially the public, that First Class Licenses not be issued to blind persons (See attached Exhibit D). It is suggested that the Commission in all its concern has overlooked the availability of Braille materials, tape recordings and auditory measuring and testing equipment which enable the blind operator to perform any and all operating and maintenance tasks with high degrees of accuracy and safety (See attached Exhibit E). For these reasons, the restrictions applicable to blind persons seem unreasonable as well as discriminatory and are thus, of questionable validity under Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Especially is this true where, as in the instant case, a radio station has indicated a willingness to make the needed equipment adaptations.

C. Finally, under FCC Rules and Regulations, there is some doubt as to the validity of any blanket prohibition against issuance of First Class Operator Licenses to blind persons. FCC Rule 13.5 (b), 47 CFR 13.5 (b), reads as follows:

Notwithstanding any other provisions of the Commission's rules, no person otherwise eligible shall be deemed to be eligible to be examined for or to receive a commercial radio operator license of any class, (1) (not applicable), (2) (not applicable), or (3) who is afflicted with complete deafness or complete muteness or complete inability for any other reason to transmit correctly and to receive correctly by telephone spoken messages in English.

Miss Keener is neither deaf nor mute nor is her ability to correctly transmit and receive spoken messages in English questioned. Blindness, of course, is never necessarily related to any of these conditions. Thus, it would seem that Rule 13.22 is totally inconsistent with FCC Rule 13.5 (c), 47 CFR 13.5 (c) which reads:


No applicant who is eligible to apply for any commercial radio operator license shall, by reason of any physical handicap other than as set forth in paragraph (b) of this section, be denied the privilege of applying and being permitted to attempt to prove his qualifications (by examination if examination is required) for such commercial radio operator license in accordance with established procedure ....


For the above reasons, it is requested that the Commission modify Rule 13.22 and allow Miss Keener the Opportunity to apply and be examined for such license. Again, I repeat that Miss Keener requests no special treatment, merely the same opportunity to prove her qualifications as is normally granted sighted persons.

Respectfully submitted,

Harold L. Sarner, Esq.
2505 Woodson Rd.
Overland, Missouri 63114

cc: Federal Communications Commission
Office of General Counsel
Washington, D.C. 20554
Attn: Mr. William Jensen


Exhibit F

10360 Forest Brook Lane
St. Louis, Missouri 63141

October 21, 1970

Mr. Curtis B. Plummer
Chief Field Engineering Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D. C. 20554

Dear Mr. Plummer,

On July 20, 1970, I submitted to you a request for modification of Rule 13.22 in order that Miss Mary Jane Keener be allowed an opportunity to take the written examination for a Radiotelephone First-Class Operator License through the use of either a reader. Braille materials, or a tape recording as provided by FCC Rule 0.311 (10), 47 CFR 0.311 (10).

Nearly three months have passed yet all I have received from your bureau is an acknowledgement of receipt of that request (your file No. 1420). During this time, Miss Keener, a well-qualified graduated student of radiotelephonic communications, has been unemployed as a result of her inability to take the above-mentioned examination. Although I have been informed that your department is suffering from a chronic staff shortage, I cannot understand how disposition of the present matter can take any substantial amount of time at all.

Simply stated, the issue before you now is this: Can the Commission deny an otherwise qualified individual the privilege and opportunity of taking an examination for a Radiotelephone First-Class Operator License solely on the basis that the individual in question is blind It is imperative that you understand that at this point all that is involved is the taking of the examination itself. Commission Rules with respect to this point are clear. Rule 13.5 (c), 47 CFR 13.5 (c) states;


No applicant who is eligible to apply for any commercial radio operator license shall by reason of any physical handicap, other than as set forth in paragraph (b) of this section, be denied the privilege of applying and being permitted to attempt to prove his qualifications. . . for such commercial radio operator license in accordance with established procedure . . .


Denying Miss Keener the privilege of applying and attempting to prove her qualifications then, in this situation would amount to a violation of the FCC's own rules. Furthermore, since eyesight or lack thereof, is in no way related to the skills and abilities which are tested by means of the FCC examination, to deny Miss Keener the opportunity to take the examination simply because she cannot take it in its written form would amount to an invidious discrimination on the basis of blindness and thus, a denial of both the equal protection of law and due process.

Miss Keener can wait no longer for your decision on this relatively simple matter and has instructed me to seek judicial relief if your bureau continues postponement of her request. As you know a suit for declaratory and injunctive relief would entail considerable effort and substantial money both on my part and on the part of the Commission. Although I certainly am not anxious to force the issue to litigation, nevertheless, my duty to Miss Keener dictates such a course of action if relief is not forthcoming within fourteen days of receipt of this letter.


Harold L. Sarner, Esq.


Exhibit G

Washington, D.C. 20554

November 10, 1970

Mr. Harold L. Sarner
2505 Woodson Road
Overland, Missouri 63114

Dear Mr. Sarner:

This is in response to your request that the applicable Commission Rules be waived in order that Miss Mary Jane Keener, who is blind, may take the examination for a Radiotelephone First Class Operator License through the use of either a reader. Braille materials, or a tape recording. You urge essentially that Miss Keener seeks only an opportunity to pursue a livelihood in the area of radiotelephonic communications; that the restrictions applicable to blind persons seem unreasonable as well as discriminatory; and that in any event some doubt appears to exist with respect to the validity of any blanket prohibition against issuance of the Radiotelephone First Class Operator Licenses to blind persons in light of the applicable Commission Rules.

Eyesight has always been considered essential for the proper performance of operator duties at a broadcast station as it is normally constructed, and impairment viewed as a physical handicap which could prevent the performance of the duties of the operator under emergency conditions. Hence, the blind person was not per se considered to be a qualified applicant for an operator's license. However, with the advancement in technologies, adaptions were designed (as for example special metering equipment) permitting a blind person to determine with reasonable accuracy that the station was operating in accordance with the Commission's regulations. On this basis, blind persons were considered eligible for the routine day-by-day operation involving the normal operation of the transmitter, including reading meters, adjusting the transmitter, and keeping the necessary logs. The Commission rules were therefore amended to afford applicants afflicted with blindness an opportunity to qualify for a Radiotelephone Third Class Operator Permit, and be issued a license appropriately endorsed for broadcast operations. Miss Keener holds such a permit and is eligible for the type of employment associated with a third class license.

At the time the Commission amended its rules, it carefully considered the advisability of permitting blind persons the right to hold the higher class license. In view of the hazards associated with the duties and privileges of the first and second class permits, it was concluded that the issuance thereof to a sightless person was not feasible. Hence no comparable provision with respect to the higher class license was made. The Commission is cognizant of advancements in technologies and believes that a reexamination of the rules is appropriate at this time. A Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rule Making will be issued shortly looking toward the possible and feasible changes in standards and rule requirements for all classes of operating permits as the same affect the blind person. You will be advised as soon as this Notice is issued.

However, after careful consideration of all of the information presently available, it has been determined that a change in Commission policy at this time is not warranted, and that a grant of the request for waiver of the Commission's applicable rules in this instance would not be in the public interest. Miss Keener's request is therefore denied.

Very truly yours,

Ben F. Waple


Back to Contents


by Rami Rabby

[Editor's Note: The following is testimony presented by Rami Rabby on behalf of the Illinois Congress of the Blind before the Illinois Legislature.]

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee: the Illinois Congress of the Blind is a statewide organization of blind persons affiliated to the National Federation of the Blind and dedicated to the achievement, through legislation, litigation, public education and self-education, of greater security, equality and opportunity for the blind of Illinois, in all areas of human endeavor.

This is not the first time that the organized blind of Illinois have sent their representatives to Springfield, to present their case before a committee of the General Assembly. In March, 1969, we appeared before both the House and Senate Welfare Committees to press for the passage of the White Cane Law, a veritable "Bill of Rights" for the blind of Illinois. The White Cane legislation, enacted by the Governor on August 6, 1969 laid the primary emphasis on the right of our blind citizens and our otherwise physically handicapped citizens to equality of opportunity, namely, the opportunity to gain access to, and make use of, all public places and facilities, and the opportunity to be hired, if otherwise qualified, into employment in any position, within the public sector.

However, the right of Illinois' handicapped to equality of opportunity presupposes the existence of an even more essential need and an even more basic right, that is, the need for, and the right to, equality of security, for without the firm foundation of security, the handicapped person has no means with which he might venture out into the world and, with independence and self-direction, live out his role as a potentially productive and fully contributing member of his community. Unfortunately, this presupposed equality of security is still withheld from us, and it is in search of it that we come before you today.

The Illinois Congress of the Blind would like to commend the authors and sponsors of House Bill No. 3 for their wisdom in seeking to establish in Illinois a State minimum wage rate of one dollar and sixty cents per hour to equal the federally legislated minimum wage of one dollar and sixty cents per hour. However, the Illinois Congress of the Blind condemns and repudiates the notion, embodied in Section 5 and Section 10 Subsection B of the bill, excluding the handicapped as unfit for coverage by the provisions of a State minimum law. Yet, even this exclusion of the handicapped, even this deliberate deprivation and wilful withholding of protection for the handicapped, would not be so tragic were it not for the unabashedly dishonest and shamelessly cruel argument which is used in its defense. Are we really to believe that by excluding the handicapped, the aged, and the injured from coverage by the provisions of this bill we shall "prevent curtailment of opportunities for employment" and "avoid undue hardship" for handicapped, aged and injured employees? Or are we rather to believe that by excluding the handicapped, aged, and injured from coverage by the provisions of this bill we shall prevent the curtailment of profits and avoid undue costs for the employers and work-givers of Illinois? During these times of spiralling inflation and reduced profit margins, in all honesty, which of these two arguments sounds more plausible?

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee: the Illinois Congress of the Blind appeals to you to strike out from this bill Section 5, as well as any reference to handicapped workers in Section 10 Subsection B.

It is our belief, corroborated by the life histories of countless blind men and women and numerous otherwise physically handicapped men and women, throughout Illinois and throughout the nation, that the handicapped person, when offered the proper training and when afforded the opportunity by the able-bodied society, can and does achieve complete economic independence and a rate of productivity equal to that of his able-bodied peer. On the other hand, ranged against the incontestable and wholesome truth of this belief, we see, in House Bill No. 3, the ugly manifestations of the traditional image of the handicapped person not only as inherently and automatically unproductive but also, thereby, as unfit to be granted society's protection from unfair exploitation and guaranteed the dignity and self-respect which derive from a decent living.

The Illinois Congress of the Blind believes that, if a handicapped person is able to perform a specified job or can be trained on-the-job to do so, as is his able-bodied peer, he should be afforded the same rights and the same protection as his able-bodied peer. On the other hand, if he has not yet completed the process of rehabilitation, and if normal productivity in an open, competitive environment is not yet a realistic goal for him, he should, under no circumstances, be employed. Only such a policy as this can effectively safeguard the right of the handicapped to equal treatment in our State's labor market, and insure them against the temptation of profiteering business and industrial interests to create out of them a low cost, though productive, pool of labor, under the shameful guise of charitable intent. Let us eliminate from House Bill No. 3 the whole of Section 5 and the reference to handicapped workers in Section 10 Subsection B.

There now remains, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, the problem of guaranteeing the right to a decent living wage to those of our blind and otherwise physically handicapped citizens who, because of an unusually lengthy rehabilitation process and a prolonged period of restoration to normal life, are obliged to accept employment in a sheltered, non-competitive environment. We refer, here, to the handicapped men and women who daily complete the cycle of poverty and, in lieu of pennies, eke out a frustrating, unrewarding and hopeless life in the sheltered workshops of Illinois: the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, Goodwill Industries, and the like. The Illinois Congress of the Blind appeals to you to blaze a new trail for these forgotten people, and insert in House Bill No. 3 a strong and positive statement extending the coverage of its provisions to sheltered workshops and affording the protection of the State minimum wage rate to their employees.

For the past year, the organized blind of Illinois have been engaged in a battle of ideas with the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind over the human rights of employees in its sheltered workshop. The avowed purpose of Chicago Lighthouse management, as it is of all other workshop managements, is the rehabilitation and training of handicapped men and women, and their preparation for competitive employment in open industry. Yet, upon investigation, we find that in 1969, the average wage paid to Lighthouse workshop employees was a meager one dollar and thirty cents per hour, that many employees were receiving less than one dollar per hour, and that some employees were actually receiving as little as forty cents per hour.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee: to a blind or otherwise physically handicapped person, who is embarking upon the road to self-reconstruction in the face of largely socially imposed limitations, rehabilitation is not only vocational, but social and psychological, too. It does not begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m., as Lighthouse and other sheltered workshop authorities would have you believe, but should continue for the remaining sixteen hours of the handicapped person's day. Forty cents, eighty cents, or one dollar and twenty cents per hour are indeed a poor foundation upon which one may even begin to think about rebuilding a life and recreating normality out of physical disadvantage. To quote Somerset Maugham from his book appropriately entitled OF HUMAN BONDAGE; "there is nothing so degrading as the constant anxiety about one's means of livelihood. Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five." How much truer is this statement when applied to those for whom money is only a fifth sense, or even a fourth or a third?

No doubt, the Chicago Lighthouse and other sheltered workshops would claim, as they always have done, that they are permitted by the U.S. Department of Labor to pay their employees at below minimum wage rates, and indeed they are. But the question is: are we going to continue to allow autocratic workshop managements to use this legal loophole as a means of perpetuating and intensifying economic dependency and helplessness? No doubt, the Chicago Lighthouse and other sheltered workshops would claim, as they always have done, that they would be compelled to go out of business if they were brought under the coverage of a minimum wage law. But the question is: have the Chicago Lighthouse and other workshops in Illinois recently attempted to modernize their management techniques and replace hand-tool and handicraft operations with machine and assembly line operations so that they might be able to reduce costs, increase productivity and so genuinely prepare their employees for equal competition with the able-bodied in the mainstream of industry? The answer, unfortunately, is no, and the losing battle for rehabilitation of workshop employees continues. No doubt, the Chicago Lighthouse and other sheltered workshops would claim, as they always have done, that, if employees were paid the minimum wage rate, they would be deprived of their Aid to the Blind checks, which would leave them in an even worse financial condition. What a monumental deception is this! Due to the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind, the first eighty- five dollars of income earned by public assistance recipients is exempt and causes no reduction whatsoever in public assistance, while every additional dollar earned causes only a fifty-cent reduction until full self-support is achieved. There is, then, no conceivable way by which employees of the Chicago Lighthouse, Goodwill Industries and other workshops could be hurt by earning decent wages. We appeal to you to declare sheltered workshops in Illinois covered by the provisions of House Bill No. 3, requiring the minimum payment of one dollar and sixty cents per hour.

Finally, the Illinois Congress of the Blind requests that the House Industry and Labor Relations Committee stipulate, in its committee report, that, prior to the issuance of any regulation concerning employer treatment of blind and otherwise physically handicapped employees, the Director of the State Department of Labor conduct consultations with the appropriate State organizations of the handicapped which represent and speak for the handicapped themselves.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee: the Illinois Congress of the Blind has argued for the drastic revision of House Bill No. 3. From the perspective of the handicapped citizens of Illinois, House Bill No. 3, as it now stands, is economically unsound, rationally defenseless, and morally reprehensible Let us place equality for the handicapped before charity for the handicapped; let us bring enlightenment to the Lighthouse; let us put good action where there was only goodwill before. By striking out Section 5 and the reference to handicapped workers in Section 10 Subsection B, by extending the coverage of the State minimum wage rate to sheltered workshops, and by providing for the participation by the handicapped in the planning of regulations concerned with the handicapped, you will help us attain first-class citizenship in Illinois and realize a dream.

Back to Contents


by John F. Smith

The recently concluded session of the Nebraska Legislature saw the enactment of two profoundly significant measures for the benefit of the blind. First, after years of unrelenting effort by the blind, joined along the way by other groups, the Legislature repealed the nefarious Lien Law with respect to all welfare recipients.

Near the end of the session, after a narrow escape from burial beneath a monumental legislative logjam, the Model White Cane Law was rescued and adopted without a dissenting vote.

It should go without saying, that the NFB of Nebraska worked actively and effectively in behalf of both these measures, and actually sponsored the Model White Cane Law. At the same time, we gratefully acknowledge the unstinting support and cooperation of all the other State and local organizations of the blind. Surely, the spirit of unity displayed in this legislative campaign can hold only abundant promise for the future of Nebraska's blind.

Back to Contents


by Kay Apley

[Reprinted by courtesy of the Salem (Oregon) Oregon Statesman.]

March marked the twenty-fourth wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Delbert Chrisman. Being a housewife, a mother of three, holding a full-time job and enjoying life to its fullest with family and friends is all in the day's routine to Mrs. Chrisman. The fact that she is totally blind seems to be of no consequence whatsoever to this quiet, unassuming woman.

“It really doesn't raise any problems," Says Billie, as she is called by her many friends. "I was never one to say I can't do something just because I can't see . . . that isn't the way I feel. I think you can do anything you want to. People in general are rather skeptical about what a blind person can do, so you just go along until they can see you are just as efficient and do the job as well as a sighted person," says Billie.

Five years ago, Billie started to work as a relief operator in the various cafeterias run by the State of Oregon. "It was a sort of training program," says Billie. "In Salem there are now four State-operated cafeterias using the vision-handicapped . . . I'm the only totally sightless one. I got my job through the Blind Commission." Two years ago, Billie became the full-time manager of the cafeteria in the Agriculture Building. She has two women working with her, Mrs. Dorothy Hippe and Mrs. Dot Ellison, "We've a wonderful group of regular customers here in this building, and by now I recognize most of them by voice. Some I can even tell by their footsteps," says Billie.

Billie's vision loss was due to glaucoma in infancy.

Billie studied dictaphone and ediphone at a Portland business college and got her first job with the War Assets Administration in the advertising mailing department.

"I would come home from Portland on weekends to my folks' farm between Stayton and Scio. That's when I met Delbert ... his folks lived about a mile from us. We became engaged after about three months," smiles Billie. Delbert, her husband, has been with Salem Setworks, a division of Salem Equipment, Inc. for the past nineteen years. He is in the electrical department of the firm which builds sawmill equipment.

Their three children are Cheryl, twenty-three, taking student teaching at the Academy of Hair Design; Lionel, eighteen, a student at Oregon College of Education; and Lajuana, eight, a third-grader at Morningside School. "The kids grew up just like normal children," says Billie, who could barely see her first-born and has never seen the other two. "No matter what comes along, they just say 'Mama can do it'. They have to get in and do around the house just like anyone else's children . . . that's the only way they learn."

The Chrisman family are enthusiastic vacationers and each year plan a trip somewhere. They have been to Canada, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Glacier National Park, and "all the high spots in California, such as Disneyland," smiles Billie. "We have a little camper trailer we take with us . . . last summer we went to Lake Tahoe for a week. Any place there is to go, I'm ready to go there! I love to swim and do anything of interest to the family with some fun attached."

Billie receives many comments and questions on her happy attitude towards what to many would be a severe handicap. Her answer is "To me, I'm just a plain ordinary person . . . nothing outstanding. I can't see any sense sitting around being glum and gloomy. It's too much fun being the other way!"

Back to Contents


Readers of The Monitor will recall Kenneth Jernigan's article in the July, 1970 issue entitled "The Separate Agency for the Blind--Why and Where." The first paragraph of President Jernigan's article pinpoints the problem:

"A very disturbing trend is becoming increasingly apparent throughout the country with respect to the organizational and placement structure of programs for the blind--a trend which may be more ominous than anything we have seen in the past twenty years. It is nothing less than the total obliteration of separate agencies for the blind by combining them into larger catch-all departments of government."

The trend in State after State in recent years has been to create super agencies of government, thus swallowing up separate agencies for the blind. Perhaps the trend to downgrade the separate problems incident to blindness (which can only be served adequately by separate agencies for the blind) really began in 1935 with the beginning of the Social Security system. The then Social Security Board, encouraged and even abetted by the American Public Welfare Association, sought unsuccessfully to submerge the blind into a general category with aid to other adults. This effort persisted, however, and in 1962 the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare succeeded in establishing an optional combined category of aid to the aged, blind, and disabled under title XVI of the Social Security Act. Only some seventeen States were interested, even with Federal medical care money as the "carrot" used to lure them into the thing. Perhaps HEW will finally make it with the proposed title XX of the Social Security Act Amendments of 1971.

As a concurrent and more recent development in other areas of services to the blind, the same ominous trend not only continues but is accelerating. Let's take the toll. In 1963 when California established a separate Department of Rehabilitation, the California Council of the Blind tried to secure a statutory provision for a separate Division for the Blind but had to settle for an administrative designation. Thus, it was no great surprise when the Division was abolished in 1970.

State after State has witnessed the watering down of its services for the blind by such devices as "For the Blind and Physically Handicapped" And on the national front we are faring no better. The Library of Congress has a Division serving not only the blind but the physically handicapped, and the Wagner-O'Day Act may be amended this year to do the same thing.

In 1969 separate agencies for the blind were abolished in Florida and Maine, and in 1970 Wisconsin and Delaware succumbed. Thus far in 1971 Vermont and Indiana went down. Will Virginia be next? It looks so.

Let's look for a minute at the latest victim, Indiana. A bill in the Legislature transfers the State Agency for the Blind from the jurisdiction of the Board of Health to a new seven-member commission which will oversee services for all handicapped and disadvantaged generally. The blind feared, with great justification, that their interests would be lost in a huge, new consolidated agency. In particular, they are concerned that this action will result in the closing of the sheltered workshop for the blind, the loss of vending stand licenses, and their eventual resort to the welfare rolls. One of the veteran leaders of the organized blind movement in Indiana writes:

"I appeared at the House and Senate hearings on the bill, but it was apparent from the start that the skids had been well greased from Washington on the matter. Such agencies as Goodwill Industries, Cross Roads Rehab, the Board of Education, the United Auto Workers, and general rehab were all for it, of course. We did not have a chance. There was a general demand for a demonstration so we had one on March 26th. We had to secure a permit to demonstrate in the State House so when they learned we were coming they pushed the bill ahead of all others and held the Senate in session during the noon hour. They were voting on the measure while we were demonstrating. It passed thirty-five to five. We had good press and television coverage and did let them know we were alive and we hope this will give us some negotiating powers in the administration of the new agency, when it becomes operative in July. During the hearings in the House and Senate committees, they employed the tactic of using an unknown and recently blinded insurance agent from up State to appear for the bill."

Perhaps the most brazen effort of all to submerge the blind was taken by the Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare when, on December 29, 1970 the Division for the Blind and Visually Handicapped was abolished and the blind dumped into a general pot called "Special Populations." However, as a result of vigorous protests from national, State, and local organizations of and for the blind, HEW has capitulated and agreed to re-establish services for the blind at the divisional level. This is most encouraging, along with the epic and thus far successful struggles of the organized blind of Idaho and Oregon to save their separate agencies.

Let us quote from President Jernigan's article, referred to earlier:

"In this new crisis which now faces the blind and their programs, the first requirement is information and perspective. It is essential that the organizations of the blind and the friends of the blind understand what is happening and where the trend is leading. There is too often the tendency to view changes in a given State as an isolated instance instead of part of a total pattern.

"There is also the need to close ranks and stand together. Even if the separate agency in a particular State has not provided good service, the answer is not destruction but reform. Once the agency is absorbed into the super-department, the blind will get a smaller percentage of the tax dollar, less specialized know-how, and less flexibility to meet their unique problems.

"Over the years work with the blind in this country has made notable achievements. With all of its faults and shortcomings, it has brought improvement to the lives of tens of thousands of blind persons. As the blind themselves grow stronger in their organizations, there is every reason to believe that the various agencies will become increasingly effective in their performance and responsive in their behavior. Whatever else occurs, the blind cannot and must not permit the wholesale destruction of their agencies. In the name of trash burning, arson must not be committed, nor must vandalism be sanctioned in the name of reform."  

Suffice it to say that if this ominous trend is to be stopped, it will be stopped largely because of the unremitting opposition of the organized blind. If it is not stopped, then don't ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee, and me.

Back to Contents


[Editor's Note: The following memorandum, issued by Mr. John D. Twiname, Administrator of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, HEW, is self-explanatory. However, it should be pointed out that this memorandum was issued only after protracted conversations by Federation representatives and others. Had these conversations not occurred, there can be no question that the separate division for the blind would have been abolished. Despite the language of the memo, many of us feel that services for the blind would have been seriously downgraded if the confrontation had not taken place.]

By this time, you are aware of plans of the Rehabilitation Services Administration to reorganize administratively on more functional lines in order to achieve both its short and long-range goals. In this regard, one of the new divisions listed in the Federal Register describing the proposed reorganization was that of Special Populations, which listed a number of disability categories. It was possible in looking at this list to draw the wrong conclusions about the position of services to the blind and visually handicapped within the new organization.

As a result, representatives of national organizations of and for the blind requested a meeting in my office on February 4, in order to obtain clarification about the new role and function of services to the blind as it appeared in the Register. Another meeting was held on February 25, at which time both Commissioner Newman of Rehabilitation Services Administration and I were pleased to have the opportunity to clarify the language that appeared and to make additions to it as a result of the meeting.

Let me assure you that I am keenly aware of the special needs of the blind and the unique position that services for the blind in our organization have held during the past quarter century. We have no intention of permitting any administrative arrangement to lessen our continuing deep interest in these services. On the contrary, our aim is to build upon the many gains which have been achieved in the past by the former Division for the Blind and Visually Handicapped. We want to take this opportunity to give you some preliminary information of our plans to provide more comprehensive services to the blind and visually handicapped in the future.

We are creating a new Office for the Blind and Visually Handicapped which will have full divisional status within the Rehabilitation Services Administration. This change has been effected, and will be published in the Federal Register. The "office" designation means (1) carrying on the regular operating responsibilities of the current division within the Rehabilitation Services Administration and (2) the opportunity for the new office to provide increased leadership and advocacy for the Nation's blind and visually handicapped.

This second goal will be accomplished by designating the head of the new office as a Special Assistant to the Administrator of Social and Rehabilitation Service to provide consultation in expanding services and generating new programs for blind persons. This designation will extend the responsibility of this position to include, in addition to rehabilitation, representation for the blind in policy and program development in community services, Medicaid, and other SRS programs, plus opening a new avenue for advocacy and leadership on behalf of this target group for the entire Department.

Both Dr. Newman and I think it would also be beneficial to establish a small advisory group made up of leaders and consumers representing the blind and visually handicapped. This group would meet with us from time to time to advise and discuss mutual concerns and forge a stronger communication link with the field. Appropriate steps in this regard will be taken in the very near future.

It is my hope that with these new and expanded arrangements we can work more closely together in support of our goals for all blind and visually handicapped persons in this country.

Back to Contents


by Susan Ford

Two bills of importance to blind Montanans have recently been passed by the Montana State Legislature. Though neither bill is all that we might, ideally, have hoped for, both provide definite improvements in the Montana statute books.

The first bill which is now Montana law concerns itself with permitting the Highway Patrol Board to issue identification cards to persons over the age of eighteen years not holding valid Montana drivers licenses. There is very little in the bill to instruct the Highway Patrol Board as to how to go about issuing such cards. Nor do we know for certain that there is appropriation available to implement the program. After its initiation the bill intends that the fees for issuing the identification cards will finance their issuance. In order to be assured that the program goes into effect, the Montana Association for the Blind will probably have to do some talking with the Highway Patrol Board. We hope that the passage of this bill will be the beginning of easy legal identification for blind people and others who do not drive. In Butte, specifically, some people have run into considerable problems in cashing checks at one of the shopping centers, since no other identification is permitted except a drivers license of the person who wishes to cash a check.

The other bill which has now become Montana law is a rather scrambled version of the Model White Cane Law. Although some important features of the model law are missing in our statute, the contributory negligence savings clause and the section on fair housing for the blind, a few steps have been taken in the right direction. Section 6 of the model law relating to equal job opportunity, was written into our law exactly as it appears in the model. The new law guarantees guide dog users the right to use ail public facilities, accommodations, and conveyances, though it unfortunately says nothing about such right for users of white canes.

More of our members became involved in this year's legislative effort than ever before; we hope that the experience gained will make our work a bit easier in two years when the next regular Montana legislative assembly meets.

Back to Contents


[Editor's Note: The following is taken from the IAB Bulletin, publication of the Iowa Association of the Blind.]

For those who feel that the millenium has come to Iowa with respect to the blind, perhaps the following correspondence between Don Morris, President of the Orientation Alumni Association, and the Amana Society will give pause for deeper reflection.

Ox Yoke Inn
Amana Colonies
Amana, Iowa 52203

Dear Sir:

The Iowa Commission for the Blind is the State agency charged with the responsibility of providing a variety of services to the more than six thousand blind citizens residing within the borders of the State. Paramount among the constellation of services is rehabilitation which provides the means by which the disabled are restored to productive, useful lives. In ten short years public assistance to the blind has been dramatically reduced, and sightless individuals employed in the professions, trades and other sectors of the economy have correspondingly increased. It is not necessary to detail here the millions of dollars that have been gained for the State with the transformation of the visually disabled from tax consumers to tax producers. The sightless population feels that they are entitled to all the rights and privileges normally accorded other people; particularly, when it can be amply demonstrated that as a group they bear their fair share of the tax burden and discharge all the duties and obligations imposed upon citizens with equanimity. It is well to keep these ideas in mind in light of the discussion which follows.

The Commission for the Blind operates an Adult Orientation Center as an integral part of its rehabilitation program. For eleven years visually impaired adults living in Iowa have been coming to Des Moines, where the Center is located, to receive training. This training enables the blind to cope efficiently with the countless situations which arise daily. From the very start it was recognized that if the rehabilitation effort of the Commission was to be effective, and more specifically, the Center program was to be really meaningful, it would be necessary to expose Center clientele to as many typical activities as possible. Consequently, with this objective in mind, the Center has incorporated as an indispensable part of its curriculum, tours and visits to all kinds of private and public facilities: parks, factories, State and Federal institutions, recreational areas--only to mention a few. Naturally, since the Amana Colonies invite the public to visit its many interesting and educational facilities, the student body of the Iowa Adult Orientation Center wrote and arranged for a tour.

Let me begin this narrative of the visit by stating that for the most part the trip was enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable to everyone. The guide was courteous and in every way mindful to every need and request. Only one slight happening marred the visit, and while it is the cause for this letter, it should not be allowed to cloud the rest of the trip. Nevertheless, although the magnitude of the incident is small, the principle at stake is great; and, therefore, fundamental among the relations of men. On October 28, 1970, about 4:00 p.m. after spending time in the woolen shop, the students from the Center prepared for the next stop--the woolen mill itself. Imagine the consternation and surprise when first the tour guide then the instructors were informed that this group would not be permitted to take the mill portion of the tour. Later Mr. Urena, Assistant Director of the Commission in charge of the Adult Orientation Center, attempted to discuss the matter with the individual in charge. The only explanation offered was that the mill refused to be responsible for the individuals on the tour. It was explained that these persons were adults, trained in mobility, fully responsible, and accompanied by sighted and blind university-trained personnel. The answer given: It was "their" plant and they did not have to permit anybody to visit. All efforts to make clear the fact that this action was in direct contravention of the law (S.F. 608, copy attached) only succeeded m arousing more anger and hostility. Further attempts to secure the barring in writing, and even to discover the name of the person causing the difficulty proved fruitless and met stubborn refusal. Later it was brought to the attention of the Assistant Director that the person involved was the mill supervisor. Although this fact cannot be fully substantiated, positive identification is sure, for there were several people present to witness the entire episode.

This letter and accompanying enclosures are being sent with the hope that the individuals responsible for the rules and regulations governing public tours review the matter and reverse the policy. A good deal of time purposely has been allowed to elapse in order that the issue may be considered with wisdom rather than heat. Today, several sightless Iowans are employed in such manufacturing firms as John Deere and Collins Radio. These blind employees maneuver about these respective plants without fuss or commotion. In modem life literally every day thousands of sightless men and women venture into buildings and outdoor areas where stairs, moving machinery, uneven terrain, and innumerable obstacles must be successfully handled. Indeed, if one is to live a vigorous, productive existence, how could it be otherwise?

This refusal seems more incredible when one considers that in 1960 and again in 1963, the student body from the Center made the full tour without any difficulty whatsoever. If you will look in your files, perhaps you may find the exchange of correspondence surrounding the trip the students took in 1965. The matter was dropped because it was felt that perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, and therefore every effort was made to handle the matter with maturity and responsibility. In the instance under consideration there can be no mistake. The refusal was clear cut. It was made solely on the basis of blindness. As competent sightless individuals we regard the act as discriminatory and therefore cannot permit this action to go unchallenged. Reasonable men may differ. If indeed reason prevails, judicious men may properly settle their differences through discussion and negotiation. We sincerely hope this will be the course adopted. However, as clearly indicated by the resolution adopted (copy attached) by the Alumni Association of the Center, we are prepared to move the issue into another arena if it should unfortunately prove necessary.

Let me close with only this additional observation. The White Cane has become the hallmark of the blind, a symbol of equality, independence, and mobility of the blind which enables them to cut a path to the main stream of society. The emphasis of recent years by State and Federal Governments has been on developing as much independence for each person as is feasible so that disabled people can be integrated into society.

To foster this program the blind secured a joint resolution by Congress requesting the President to proclaim October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day. You will observe that the visually disabled individuals of Iowa secured a similar gubernatorial proclamation with the passage of S.F. 608. These campaigns are not limited to conveying word about the White Cane laws. They are generally designed to inform the public about the social and economic conditions among the blind, and the aspirations they have for full and useful lives. The disabled, too, have a right to be "on the streets, the highways, the byways, in public buildings and other public places, in the schools and colleges, in public service and private callings, in the factories, shops and offices, in short, in all the places where men are, go, live, work, and play" The policy of the law should be by negative ban and positive fostering, to permit, enable, and encourage men to be a part of their communities to the full extent of their physical capacities. The White Cane Law was adopted by the State Legislature with this objective in view.


Don Morris, President
Iowa Orientation Alumni Association


January 13, 1971

Mr. Don Morris, President
Iowa Orientation Alumni Association
1214 Lewis
Des Moines, Iowa

Dear Mr. Morris:

We are in receipt of your correspondence dated December 29, 1970 regarding an incident which allegedly took place on the premises of the Amana Society's Woolen Mill Department.

It appears to us as if this incident was taken out of context by some of the parties involved and the actions of our people greatly misinterpreted. It is the writer's personal opinion that a tour throughout Woolen Mill, and especially through the weaving department, involves a certain amount of risk for a person in possession of all of his endowed facilities. The fabric in the automatic looms is woven by means of thread-filled bobbins encased in shuttles which closely resemble a large caliber shell or bullet. Occasionally, through mechanically produced misalignment one of these shuttles may actually play the part of a projectile sailing through the air for a considerable distance. A sighted person with ordinary reflexes can, under normal conditions, avoid these shuttles by taking evasive action. A sightless person, on the other hand, might be extremely vulnerable to personal injury because the time lapse would not be great enough to allow for the conveying of any message of impending danger.

It was because of this concern for the safety of those involved that the tour was not allowed.

We herewith offer our apologies if it is your feeling that apologies are in order, but we would once again re-affirm our position that our concern was only for the safety of those involved and no discrimination of any kind was intended.

Very truly yours,

Don Shoup, Secretary


Resolution Passed by the Iowa Adult Orientation Alumni Association


Amana Colonies

WHEREAS, we the graduates of the Iowa Adult Orientation Center for the Blind give living testimony of the significance the Center has played in transforming many otherwise dependent and unfulfilled individuals into productive citizens with meaningful constructive lives making it possible for the State to realize an asset instead of a burdensome liability, and

WHEREAS, as former students and now as active contributing Iowans, we fully recognize the relevance of the rehabilitation program of the Commission for the Blind and especially the instrumental role of the Center in the achievement of successful orientation and integration of the blind into the main thoroughfare of community and State activity, and

WHEREAS, in a single decade programs for the blind in Iowa have advanced from the worst to the best in the country, receiving national acclaim in a Presidential Citation of Merit and each year many foreign visitors come to Des Moines to learn about services for the blind in Iowa with a view of establishing parallel programs in their respective countries clearly evincing the high esteem for the Commission concept of services within the international community in work for the blind, and

WHEREAS, S.F. 608 (Model White Cane Law) enacted into law by the Iowa Legislature in 1967 guarantees to the blind the freedom to be abroad in the land explicitly designates public places as equally accessible to the blind. Sections 1, 3, 4, and 7 declare:

Section 1. It is the policy of this State to encourage and enable the blind, the partially blind and the physically disabled to participate fully in the social and economic life of the State and to engage in remunerative employment.

Section 3. The blind, the partially blind and the physically disabled have the same right as the able-bodied to the full and free use of the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways, public buildings, public elevators, public facilities and other public places.

Section 4. The blind, the partially blind and the physically disabled are entitled to full and equal accommodations, facilities, and privileges of all common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, street cars, boats, other public conveyances or modes of transportation, hotels, lodging places, eating places, places of public accommodation, amusement, or resort, and other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons.

Section 7. Any person, firm, or corporation, or the agent of any person, firm, or corporation, who denies or interferes with the rights of any person under this Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred (200) dollars.


WHEREAS, on October 28, 1970, the student body of the Iowa Adult Orientation Center was denied a tour of the Amana Woolen Mill solely on the basis of blindness, the officers in charge maintaining that visually disabled people were incapable of maneuvering safely through the mill, and

WHEREAS, this act is not only in direct contravention of the law but is a gross misconception about the abilities of the blind. Every day many disabled individuals encounter similar problems without undue commotion, therefore let it be

RESOLVED, By the Iowa Adult Orientation Alumni Association in regular meeting assembled in the city of Des Moines this 14th day of November, 1970, that this Association express its displeasure with the Amana Colonies regarding this unwarranted act of discrimination and be it further

RESOLVED, That every effort be made to move the Amana Colonies' personnel to alter the present policy through negotiation, discussion and any other amicable means, and be it further

RESOLVED, That if all friendly overtures fail, the officers of this Association are authorized to take whatever steps are necessary to rectify the situation.

Back to Contents


by Marta Robinet

[Editor's Note: Reprinted by courtesy of the Philadelphia, (Pennsylvania) Bulletin Dr. Davidow is not only President of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind but is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Federation of the Blind.]

If you're still counting on your fingers to figure the price of ham, try the abacus.

"I'd like to influence math teachers everywhere to teach the abacus method to elementary school youngsters," said Dr. Mae E. Davidow, a teacher at Overbrook School for the Blind and president of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind.

She believes that sighted children as well as the unsighted become better students of mathematics when they've learned how to compute with the abacus.

The fingers keep active on the "counters," which are strung on the bars or in the grooves of the abacus. The process promises challenge rather than the boredom of trying to do sums in your head.

Five years ago Dr. Davidow published a book called ABACUS MADE EASY. It has been translated into French, Lebanese, Indian, Spanish, Japanese, and other languages.

Dr. Davidow has sponsored the construction of a very large but easily handled abacus for use of sighted teachers who work with cerebral palsy children.

"Their hands can't work with the smaller counters," she said. "On this big abacus they can count all the way to a billion."

Dr. Davidow's fingers move quickly up and down, left to right, as she demonstrates how easy the abacus is.

You ask, "Add 692 and 47."

The counters move up and down. Quick as an adding machine she's got it: 739.

She adds, subtracts, multiplies, divides. She computes fractions, decimals and extracts square roots.

"This is good for all children," she said. "A slow learner catches on faster. A fast learner learns faster. I don't say 'bright student' because I don't like the word 'bright.'"

Dr. Davidow's spirit is more than bright--it's radiant. She laughts a lot. Her gray eyes confront her blindness in peace and good humor.

Mae Davidow was ten years old when she suffered a mastoid operation and following it, the loss of her sight.

The daughter of attorney Joshua Davidow and wife Eva, she came to Philadelphia from the Davidows' farm home in Cumberland County to attend the Overbrook School for the Blind.

Dr. Davidow is a graduate of Overbrook School, Douglass College and Temple University, where she received her master's degree and her doctorate.

Mathematics is her favorite educational subject but after her teaching hours she holds sessions for developing the social skills of blind students.

She has pushed tea parties and rap sessions in order to discuss posture, table manners, conversational ease, the control of objectionable mannerisms, good grooming, and all subjects that help them stride forward in social competency and emotional balance.

As president of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind (PFB), she works long hours to help activate its program:

"We foster self-help programs to encourage the best possible adjustment to blindness and to find more satisfying ways for the blind to live in a sighted world.

"We work for better community relations.

"We want liaison with private and governmental services for the blind to help bring improvements in the social and economic status of the blind."

Back to Contents


by Joanna Spence

The Delaware Federation of the Blind held its second annual convention on April 24th in Wilmington, Delaware. As a young and growing affiliate, we had set our goals at educating the blind in Delaware as to what neighboring States were doing in the way of programs for the blind.

President Joseph Spence called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The Reverend Gerald A. Foster, pastor of the Union Methodist Church in Wilmington, gave the invocation. Following this the president gave an account of what has taken place in Delaware recently.

A brief business meeting, which included the election of two board members, was held. Mrs. Marie Munis was re-elected by acclamation for the wonderful job she has done as chairman of the Liaison Committee. Mr. Charles Cannon, a vending stand operator, was elected to fill the expired term of Reverend Otis Herring.

John Taylor, assistant director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, gave a short talk on social security benefits and the amount of earned income allowed to be declared and how a shopworker earning a subsidy is allowed to deduct the subsidy from his earned income.

The first annual Francis J. Cummings Scholarship Award made by the Delaware Federation of the Blind was announced by Scholarship Committee Chairman, William Driver. This year's award went to Miss Beverly Whiteside, a junior at Gettysburg College. Beverly is majoring in music but plans to work in some form of social work or in government work as an interpreter. Since Beverly was unable to be with us, the award was accepted in her behalf by her mother, Mrs. Betty Whiteside.

Mr. John Hiland, Director of the Social Services Division of the Department of Health and Social Services gave an account of the progress being made in the State in the field of programs for the blind. Mr. Hiland meets monthly with an advisory committee from the Delaware Federation and states that he found these meetings to be most stimulating and helpful to all concerned. He gave thanks to the Delaware Federation for its effort in helping to secure an Eyemobile to be used in the State. Mr. Hiland gave a brief account of the progress of the Bureau for the Visually Impaired which was further elaborated upon by Mr. Howard Jones, bureau chief.

Mr. George Burck, president of the New Jersey Council of the Blind, gave an account of the history of the agencies for the blind in New Jersey and the part the Federation has played in the building of the programs.

The afternoon session was led off by a plan offered by Mr. Paul Di Eleuterio, manager of the Wilmington branch of the inspection lanes of the Department of Motor Vehicles, for identification cards for the visually impaired. A committee will meet with Mr. Di Eleuterio to set up the first date for issuance of these ED cards. Mr. Di Eleuterio has further aided the blind by recently hiring one of our partially sighted members, Mrs. Mildred Stokes, as a receptionist in the Motor Vehicle Department.

A panel discussion moderated by John Taylor, covered the fields of education and training programs in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Since our agency has been sending some of our instructors to New Jersey for orientation in their work, we were especially pleased to have Mr. Coker Stogner, supervisor of instruction of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind. Dr. Mae Davidow, president of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind, and chairman of the Mathematics Department of the Overbrook School for the Blind; Mr. Norman Balot, deputy director of the Delaware Bureau for the Visually Impaired; and Mrs. Jean Kelley, itinerant teacher for Delaware, also participated in the panel. One of the primary discussions covered the resident school versus public school training for blind children. Mrs. Kelley reported that since the work of an itinerant teacher has begun in the public schools in Delaware, many additional visually impaired children, previously not known to the Bureau, have been discovered.

The afternoon was topped off by a report of Federationism at the national level by John Taylor. It is hoped that more from Delaware would be able to go to the national Convention this year.

One of the highlights of the day was a resolution submitted to the body to be forwarded to the Governor that in the appointment of the next member of the Advisory Council on the Blind, of the Bureau for the Visually Impaired, that he consider the appointment of another blind person and that the Federation submit a list of three names. These included Joseph Spence, president; Mrs. Marie Munis, board member; and Mr. Edward Stokes, vice-president.

The day ended with a banquet at which our guests were Mr. and Mrs. John Hiland; Mr. Herb Lesher, State representative and chairman of the Joint Finance Committee of the Delaware General Assembly; and last but not least, John Taylor. Since Mr. Lesher was unable to be with us on the program, he was put on the spot to give a talk at dinner.

John Taylor added the final touches to a wonderful day with his stirring talk on the capabilities of blind people. As always, it was a pleasure to have John with us.

As of this writing and since the convention, we have had introduced into the General Assembly the Model White Cane Law and are now awaiting the passage of this bill.

Back to Contents


I was born in the farm country of Arkansas, near Batesville. After completing ninth grade m public school, my eyesight forced me to remain out of school. I was determined to finish high school and, after a four-year absence from academic endeavor, I entered the Arkansas School for the Blind. Upon graduation I remained in Little Rock to work in a vending stand. Later I went to work at the Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind where I met and married Russell Ennis. We moved to his home in Carthage, Arkansas and during our eight years of marriage we were blessed with a son and a daughter. After his death, I chose to remain in Carthage, while the children were small. Seeking better educational opportunities for them, I returned to Little Rock in 1961. There I went back to work at the Lighthouse until the opportunity presented itself for me to enter the vending stand program. I am presently retired but work on occasion as a vending stand operator.

Elected president of the Arkansas Federation of the Blind in 1970, I am trying to fill the shoes of our beloved Federationist Dick Nelsen. The AFB presently consists of only the one chapter in Little Rock. We are working diligently to encourage the formation of new chapters throughout the State. In the past the AFB has sponsored candy drives, cake sales, and numerous other activities to raise funds. Our main fundraising project now is the sale of ashtrays. Our chapter, following a successful candy sale, took as its special project the purchase of shoes for needy children at the Arkansas School for the Blind.

Our Arkansas affiliate has a thrilling history. Some eighteen years ago a representative of the National Federation of the Blind called on Dr. Ray Penix to talk with him about the NFB. Ray had established the Arkansas Braille Club, a group whose membership was by invitation. In the fall of 1953 Dr. Jacobus tenBroek met with Ray's group and in the spring of 1954 the Arkansas Federation of the Blind was founded, with Dr. Penix as its first president.

In 1955 the Governor of the State, at the urging of the AFB, requested the NFB to make a survey of services for the blind in Arkansas. The Report of the Survey was one of the most thorough and well-publicized of any done. As a result of the publicity which the Report received, blind persons from neighboring States began visiting the AFB and provided stimulation for further growth. In 1956 annual State conventions were started, meeting at the Lafayette Hotel in Little Rock (which hospitable hostelry has ever since provided a room for the monthly meetings of the group.)

The biggest single accomplishment of the AFB was the organization of the blind of the State in spite of much opposition. Attendance at the national Conventions of the NFB served as a recurring source of inspiration.

It is the desire of the AFB to build our organization and its influence to a position of importance in the formulation of policies affecting the welfare of the blind of Arkansas, thus making the voice of the organized blind a vital one in Arkansas and its government.

Back to Contents


[Reprinted by permission from the Washington Afro-American (Washington D.C.)]

The Negro Bibliographic and Research Center, Inc., 117 R Street, NW, is under direction of Miss Beatrice M. Murphy.

Beatrice M. Murphy (Mrs. Beatrice Murphy Campbell) was born in Monessen, Pennsylvania. She moved to and was educated in the District of Columbia schools. She started writing in high school.

She was for a time feature and children's editor of the old Washington Tribune. Under the title of the "Bookworm," she initiated and conducted a book review column for the Afro American Newspapers She also did book reviews for The New York Times.

She conducted syndicated book reviews and poetry columns for the Associated Negro Press and other papers throughout the country.

She has won many awards for her poetry, articles, and stories.

She is the author of: NEGRO VOICES: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY NEGRO VERSE; LOVE IS A TERRIBLE THING, a book of original poetry; EBONY RHYTHM, an anthology by young colored poets; Pamphlet, "Catching the Editor's Eye," a "how to" for writers; THE ROCKS CRY OUT, original verse she co-authored with Nancy Amez; and TODAY'S NEGRO VOICES, an anthology of today's poets under thirty.

She retired from the Federal Government on disability in 1959 but came out of retirement to establish in 1965 the non-profit Negro Bibliographic and Research Center, Inc., and to serve as managing editor for its publication: BIBLIOGRAPHlC SURVEY: THE NEGRO IN PRINT.

This has been her consuming life work. In 1967 she began to lose her sight, but with the help of her friend, Mrs. Nerissa Long Milton, who reads manuscripts to her and serves as her editorial assistant, she has been able to carry on as director and managing editor.

Today, after several eye operations, she has lost completely the sight in one eye and faces the ultimate loss of the other. In the meantime, she is preparing for the future by learning Braille, joining blind book discussion groups and doing what she always did at the Center.

The Center is still a busy place with subscribers here and abroad, new publications being added and big plans for the future.

Neither the director nor the staff has been unduly discouraged by the Center's inability to obtain funding. Miss Murphy says, "we feel that we are performing an important service. We hope that some day the money will come."

Back to Contents


On May 17, 1971 the House Ways and Means Committee recommended sweeping changes in both the insurance and public assistance programs, to be known as the Social Security Amendments of 1971. The bill will probably pass the House of Representatives. If history is any criterion, the Senate, as usual, will add many liberalizing amendments--and, also as usual, in the conference committee the Senate conferees will timidly accept the House bill. Following is a list of the pertinent provisions of that measure:

1. The bill would remove the test of recent attachment to covered work for blind people insofar as disability benefits are concerned. Thus, instead of the usual twenty quarters out of the last forty which is normally required for a fully insured status, a blind person would be insured for disability benefits if he had as many quarters of coverage as the number of calendar years that elapsed after 1950 (or the year he reached age 21, if later) and up to the year in which he became disabled, except that he could not be insured with less than six quarters of coverage. It is estimated that 30,000 blind persons would become immediately eligible for disability benefits in January, 1972 at a cost of twenty-nine million dollars. (This is at least a beginning on the NFB Disability Insurance for the Blind measure.)

2. There would be a five percent increase in Social Security benefits effective June 1, 1972.

3. Social Security benefits would be automatically increased according to the rise in the cost of living. Increases could occur only once a year provided that the Consumer Price Index increased by at least three percent.

4. A widow (or widower) would be entitled to a benefit equal to one hundred percent of the amount her deceased husband would be receiving if he were still living.

5. The amount that a beneficiary under age seventy-two may earn in a year and still be paid full benefits would be increased from the present $1,680 to $2,000.

6. Health insurance benefits would be extended to persons entitled to disability benefits after they have been entitled to such benefits for at least two years. (This is another victory for the NFB which vigorously and repeatedly supported such a provision).

7. The Secretary of HEW could impose fee schedules for providers of service under Medicare and Medicaid.

8. The existing Federal-State programs of aid to the aged, blind, and disabled would be repealed effective July 1, 1972, and a new, totally Federal program would be effective on that date. The new program would be administered by the Social Security Administration. The eligibility requirements of the new program are as follows:

(a) Individuals or couples would be eligible when their monthly income is less than the full monthly payment. The monthly benefits for a single person would be one hundred thirty dollars for fiscal year 1973; one hundred forty dollars for fiscal year 1974; and one hundred fifty dollars thereafter. Full monthly benefits for an individual with an eligible spouse would be one hundred ninety-five dollars for fiscal year 1973; and two hundred dollars for fiscal years 1974 and thereafter. In determining an individual's eligibility and the amount of the benefits, both his earned and unearned income would have to be taken into consideration. However, the following items would be excluded from income:

(1) Earnings of a student regularly attending school.

(2) Irregular earned income of an individual of thirty dollars or less in a quarter and irregular unearned income of sixty dollars or less in a quarter.

(3) The first eighty-five dollars of earnings per month and one-half above that for the blind and disabled (plus work expenses for the blind). The first sixty dollars of earnings per month and one-third above that for the aged. (The eighty-five dollar a month exemption of earned income is the provision which the NFB won for the blind in 1960.)

(4) The tuition part of scholarships and fellowships.

(5) Home produce.

(b) Individuals cannot be eligible for payments if they have resources in excess of $1,500. The following items would be excluded from resources:

(1) The home to the extent that its value does not exceed a reasonable amount.

(2) Household goods and personal effects not in excess of a reasonable amount.

(3) Other property which is essential to the individual's support (within reasonable value limitations).

(4) Life insurance policies (if their total face value is $1,500 or less). Other insurance policies would be counted only to the extent of their cash surrender value.

(5) Income and resources of a spouse living with an eligible individual will be taken into account in determining the benefit amount of the individual, whether or not the income and resources are available to him. Income and resources of a parent may count as income of a disabled or blind child under twenty-one.

(c) Disabled and blind beneficiaries would be referred to State agencies for vocational rehabilitation services. A beneficiary who refused without good cause any vocational rehabilitation services offered would not be eligible for benefits.

9. A State may supplement the Federal payment and could have the Federal Government make the supplemental payments, in which case the Federal Government would pay all administrative costs.

10. Provision is made for a fair hearing if an individual disagrees with determinations of the Secretary of HEW.

11. The States would be required to enter into agreements with the Federal Government to administer the Federal benefits during a transitional period.

12. The present program of Aid to Families with Dependent Children would be repealed, effective July 1, 1972 and two new totally Federal programs would take effect then. Families in which at least one person is employable would be enrolled in the Opportunities for Families Program, administered by the Department of Labor. Families with no employable persons would be enrolled in the Family Assistance Plan administered by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The bill contains specifics with respect to each plan. Briefly, they are as follows:

(a) Under the Opportunities for Families Program, every member who is available for work (in the Secretary's opinion) would be required to register for manpower services, training, and employment. An incentive allowance of thirty dollars a month would be paid to each registrant for manpower training. Family members who are incapacitated would be required to sign up with vocational rehabilitation and would be required to accept services that are made available by the rehabilitation agency. An allowance of thirty dollars would be paid while such person receives such services.

(b) Under the Family Assistance Plan, family members who are unemployable because of incapacity would also be referred to vocational rehabilitation agencies and would be required to accept their services. An allowance of thirty dollars would be paid while they receive such services.

(c) Under both Plans, family benefits would be computed at the rate of eight hundred dollars per year for the first two members, four hundred dollars for the next three members, three hundred dollars for the next two members, and two hundred dollars for the next member. Thus, it would provide $2,400 for a family of four and the maximum amount which any family could receive would be $3,600. A family would not be eligible unless it had countable resources of $1,500 or less. The first seven hundred twenty dollars a year of earned income plus one-third of the remainder would be exempt, with the exclusions from resources as listed in the adult program.

13. States would be guaranteed that for the first five years of the new programs (both Adult and Family) they would have to pay no more than the amount they paid for cash payments during the calendar year 1971, based on payment standards in effect in January, 1971. Adults and families receiving assistance under the new programs would be excluded from participation in the food stamp program.

This would, indeed, seem to be the shape of things to come in the form of the 1971 Amendments to the Social Security Act.

Back to Contents


by Sharon Bailey

The National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico held its annual convention on June 5, 1971 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The 1970-71 year was one of action and accomplishment, and the lively convention reflected our success. Our vice-president, Pauline Gomez, reviewed the years activities, including the reinstatement of nine teachers at the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped and replacement of the school administration, the work against House Bill No. 367 transferring the Services for the Blind Section to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Department of Education, and the organization of two new local chapters, one in Las Graces and one in Albuquerque. Our convention program included speakers from the Services for the Blind Section, the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped, the State library division for the blind, and the volunteer transcribing program in New Mexico, plus two panels composed of our own members on House Bill No. 367 and teacher discrimination in New Mexico. Many questions were asked which pointed up the tremendous amount of work yet to be done in programs for the blind here.

We were lucky to have the NFB secretary, Muzzy Marcelino, as our guest. He added not only life and enthusiasm to our convention, but gave us much food for thought by his ideas and questions. His thought-provoking speech at our noon banquet made us ready to work harder that afternoon in planning our work for the 1971-72 year. Friday night an enthusiastic group of early arrivers worked with the resolutions committee. The learning done that night was worth the long trip to Albuquerque for all of us. A record thirteen resolutions were passed by the convention including the following: raising the amount of reader service money available for college students, a survey of the education for blind children in New Mexico, tenure for the teachers at the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped, steps to end teacher discrimination in New Mexico public schools, the revision of the advisory committee to Services for the Blind to make it more representative of the views of the blind, the introduction of a Commission for the Blind bill, improvements in the vending stand program, working to get State funding for the State library for the blind, better tape and Braille transcription service, elimination of the economic need determination in providing rehabilitation service to blind adults, making social security benefits available to shop workers and giving them rights accorded other workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The following officers were elected to lead us through our next year: Pauline Gomez, president; Charlie Maes, first vice-president; Barbara Innis, second vice-president; Sharon Bailey, secretary; Ruth Ihnat, treasurer; chapter representatives, Ventura Garcia, Joe Maes, Tony Garcia, and Albert Gonzales. The New Mexico Federation has lots of work ahead, but we know our president, Pauline, is a hard worker and will give us all plenty of work to do to accomplish the goals set forth by our resolutions.

Back to Contents


by Natalie Matthews

[Natalie Matthews wrote the following letter reporting legislative success to President Kenneth Jernigan.]

Dear Ken:

On behalf of the Officers and Members of the Maine Council of the Blind and the Vending Stand Operators of Maine, it gives me great pleasure to inform you that today our Vending Stand Bill was signed by our Governor Kenneth Curtis of Maine.

I am equally as pleased to tell you that on March third. Governor Curtis signed the Model White Cane Law. Thus, ninety days after the final adjournment of the one hundred and fifth Legislature the above will become laws of the State of Maine, and the future of many of its blind citizens will be affected by them.

The Maine Council of the Blind was fortunate to have Representative Louis Jalbert as sponsor of the Vending Stand Bill and Senator Greeley the sponsor of the Model White Cane Bill. We welcomed the support given us by the Maine Fraternal Organization of the Blind of Portland as well as the support of the Division of Eye Care. Both the Director of Eye Care, Mr. Paul Rourke and Mr. Maurice Strand, Supervisor of Vending Stands, spoke on their behalf.

The blind of Maine will step forward as they open the doors of opportunity.

We are proud of our success and hopeful that The Monitor will make note of it.

Those of us who can make it, are looking forward to meeting with you and the other Federationists in Houston.


Natalie Matthews

Back to Contents


by David E. Weddle

To the editor:

In the June issue of The Monitor there appeared a series of letters regarding my safety deposit box at a Los Angeles branch of Security-Pacific National Bank. I am happy to report that due to the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind through its California affiliate, the California Council of the Blind, another victory has been won for blind people.

I have recently been informed that the restriction placed on me due to my lack of sight has been removed. Not only that, but the bank is in the process of changing its operation procedure so that the same problem does not occur in the future with some other blind person.

This whole affair points out the advantage, not only the advantage but the necessity, of the organized blind movement. When I speak of the organized blind, I am of course referring to the National Federation of the Blind. While there are other organizations which purport to work for the benefit of the blind, this is not actually their goal. Not only do they not benefit the blind, but they, in fact, many times are a detriment to the goals of security, opportunity, and equality.

I am personally grateful that there is a National Federation of the Blind which together with its State affiliates works unceasingly to promote better social, economic and educational conditions for all blind persons throughout the country. I, myself, certainly feel indebted to the Federation and the California Council for helping me fight my battle. I only hope that my small battle will be helpful in winning the war.


David E. Weddle

Back to Contents


by Rosemary Varey

One of Minnesota's NFB affiliates recently concluded its fifty-first year of history with its regular annual convention on May 21st and 22nd. This statewide organization familiarly known to many of you simply as MO of B was shown to be in sound solvent condition, although our income has been down appreciably for the past six months due largely to the recent illness and death of our "Fundraiser Extraordinary," Mr. Phil Houghtelin, which naturally came as quite a blow to our organization. Our annual financial audit, which is always submitted to the assembly for examination and questions, further revealed an approximate $5000.00 deficit in the area of the operation of our Home and Center, so you see it is not exactly all sunshine and roses with us even though our funding situation seems quite affluent on the surface.

From the viewpoint of legislative progress this past session, we fear that we have nothing but bad news to report. In spite of the countless grueling hours of time and effort over at the capitol by our joint relentless Educational Committee, both the Commission bill and the Anti-Discrimination bill appear to be hopelessly lost at this time. You see, we had a peculiarly unfortunate Legislature this year whose Senate had a conservative majority of one. Add to this the fact that "the agencies" were plying their devious ways behind the scenes to defeat our legislation, it ought to be quite obvious why it lost.

In addition to the reading of several committee reports during the Friday evening segment of our convention, considerable time was also devoted to a lively discussion of the Minneapolis £md St. Paul agencies and their sheltered shop practices which came under fire throughout the convention from time to time. Along this vein of thinking, three resolutions were presented regarding our local agency situation which were adopted: No. 1, encouraging the sheltered shop workers to assert themselves and organize for their own protection; No. 2, to assist in providing strike funds should a strike ever be necessary; No. 3, urging NFB at its upcoming Convention to set up a division of sheltered shop workers on a national basis. In the field of human relations there was another resolution to press for the removal of the State commissioner for employing the handicapped because of his discriminatory practices and his lack of constructive action.

Another resolution, adopted, called for the reactivation of the old Arrowhead Chapter of the MO of B centered in Duluth. Speaking of chapters, president Jim Schleppegrell and Andy Virden received commendations for their recent efforts in opening a new one in St. Cloud.

Obeying a generous impulse the assembly voted two hundred dollars to the Jacobus tenBroek Memorial Fund, together with a one hundred dollar contribution to the Good Cheer Magazine for the Deaf-Blind.

About one hundred thirty members and friends stayed around the Home and Center for the Blind to take in the final events, the concluding banquet and dance, and, of course, for those special trimmings of every annual convention, those election returns. The ballot committee announced the election of Bob Hanson of Winona as new director; Rosemary Varey, re-elected secretary for another two-year term; and for president, Archie B. Erickson, for the past five years editor of the Minnesota Bulletin, and for the past forty years in the active service of the organization. Now we trust you will agree, we are moving ahead in the Gopher State, the North Star State of Minnesota.

Back to Contents


An ominous development started at the "Western White House" in San Clemente, California. On April 3, 1971 an agreement was reached in a so-called “summit meeting on welfare." participated in by President Nixon, Governor Ronald Reagan of California, and HEW Secretary Elliot Richardson. The gist of the scheme worked out there is to grant Federal waivers to California to enable Reagan to put into effect on a State-wide basis many of his so-called "welfare reforms," under the alleged provisions of a relatively obscure provision of the Social Security Act known as Section 1115. This Section was adopted by Congress in 1962 to make it possible by specific authorization of the Secretary of HEW for a State to carry on small demonstration projects outside the otherwise limiting Federal laws and regulations.

Congressional history clearly shows that it was the intent of Section 1115 merely to authorize demonstration projects in a limited area of a State to determine if new approaches were worth while and advanced the objectives of the programs, not to permit the entire State to escape from the requirements of Federal laws and regulations governing public assistance programs. Nevertheless, it is reported in the press that Secretary Richardson has already tentatively approved some thirty-nine of Governor Reagan's welfare reforms for Federal waivers. This is a most dangerous precedent and means that we can go back to the old Poor Laws by way of Section 1115. It could rewrite the whole Social Security Act by "waiver" rather than by Congressional action! For instance, the mandatory provision in title X that every State must exempt eighty five dollars a month of earned income, plus one-half of such income in excess of eighty-five dollars in determining the grant of Aid to the Blind could be "waived" away at any Governor's request and with Mr. Richardson's concurrence. The legality of this scheme will be challenged in the Federal courts--but that takes time, and we no longer have the Warren Court.

Under this plan any State could ask the Federal Government to approve as a "waiver" any procedure it had in mind which would otherwise violate Federal law and procedures, but which would thus become an experimental or pilot program. At the present time the Governor of California is reported to be seeking a waiver to circumvent the provision of the 1967 Amendments to the Social Security Act requiring States to disregard the first thirty dollars a month in earnings and one-third of the remainder in determining the AFDC grant. The Governor of New York is currently seeking a waiver to permit his State to grant a lower standard of assistance for those AFDC families considered to include an employable member. This is contrary to a recent court decision holding that a State must provide equal treatment to all persons. If the proposals of California and New York are approved, there is a precedent for executive repeal of any statutory requirement which a particular Governor may not like.

However, fortunately Congressional auditors are now looking into charges by Senator Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut (himself a former Secretary of HEW) that the Nixon Administration may commit "possible violations of Federal law" by pursuing the waiver route. The probe is being conducted by the General Accounting Office, which acts as Congress' fiscal watchdog. Congressman John E. Moss of California is also demanding that HEW make public all requests for waivers. Thus the glare of publicity, stemming from the halls of Congress, may thwart this scheme.

Back to Contents


by Ethlyn Missroon

[Reprinted by courtesy of the Georgetown (South Carolina) Times. ]

A high-point of the Canadian-American Days--as far as Georgetown is concerned would be a small select pre-Easter house party that took place last weekend at Pawleys. It would have been the meeting of a Georgetown girl and a Canadian young man who have been pen-pals for the past two years or more.

The principals in this exchange of American-Canadian acquaintanceship and views were Miss Ann Cribb, the daughter of Mrs. Frances Cribb of Georgetown and Tom Dekker of Brantford, Ontario. Ann, well-known in the Georgetown Community, is a student at the Cedar Springs School for the Blind in Spartanburg.

Tom, the son of an attractive pair of parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Dekker, who accompanied him here from their Brantford hometown, is a student of the Brantford Collegiate High School for the Blind there. The old adage "Youth Will Be Served" was aptly substantiated in the manner in which the two young people--separated by so many miles, yet joined by a common bond--got to know each other.

One day--Ann, reading a magazine written in Braille, came across a pen-pal column in which Tom invited those wishing to hear about Canada, to correspond with him. This sounded interesting, so Ann wrote--telling him about her school, her work in music, and her hope of becoming a medical transcriptionist later on.

Of course, the letter was answered and about three such messages were exchanged before Tom, an electronics buff, recorded a tape--the first of many that have made the 1,000 mile trip between Georgetown and Spartanburg and Brantford, Ontario.

Through this media, the young folks got to know each other pretty well--that Ann is a little shy, intelligent, interested in music and sports; that Tom, a husky near-six-footer, likes rock music, is a twelfth grade student in a school that carries a thirteenth grade, the equivalent of the freshman year of college, likes to ski and hopes to enter the University of Ontario upon graduation where he will be a language major.

Just recently, though, the thought struck Tom that it would be pretty nice to meet Ann and her family in person.

"Impossible," his dad, a lieutenant in the Brantford Fire Department, said before he considered all the angles. But he wangled twelve days off--"and here we are." he laughed.

The family stopped off by Ann's school where Supervisor Keith Amans figured she was a good enough student to have a few days absence in which to be hostess to the Canadian friends.

Sitting in the living room of the Pawleys Island place Mrs. Cribb chose for the house party, the Dekker's appeared quite at home and said that they'd thoroughly enjoyed their trip.

"We feel like we've known Ann for a long time," the Dekkers said "because we've heard her talking--that southern accent--in next-rooms for a long time."

Actually--the southern accent is not as pronounced as one would have heard and the Canadian accent is not so different as one might have suspected--so there was no language differential to overcome.

Tommy waterskis at St. Joseph Lake where the Canadian National Institute for the Blind sponsors recreational camps for all stratas of the non-sighted--ranging from pre-school youngsters through those in the upper sixties, the family said.

“Tom skied behind a one-hundred-horse-power motor there last summer," his dad said--"and some of it on one ski."

The Dekkers were amazed at the change in weather-although at that time it was both windy and cold on the beach at Pawleys.

"We left snow on the ground in Canada," they said, "and drove right into spring; back there in Pennsylvania they were advertising perfect skiing weather--snow skiing, that is--and here, we're having trouble keeping Tom out of water-skiing."

Mr. Dekker said that he could understand why many who visit the Lowcountry during the winter, might like to come and make homes here in relatively mild weather.

"But if we did such a thing," he said, "I'd bring my old snow shovel and put it up as a mail box--just so I wouldn't forget the years of snow shovelling I've done."

This weekend was a memorable occasion for the young people for whom the trip was planned and Tom's parting words to Ann before they left were--"Y'all Come."

Back to Contents


by Carl Gersuny and Mark Lefton

[Reproduced with permission of the National Association of Social Workers, from Social Work. Vol. 15, No. 2 (July, 1970) pp. 74-811.]

The rationale for the operation of sheltered workshops is benefit to the client through provision of an opportunity to earn money and feel useful. However, the broad scope of agency intervention in clients' lives and the refusal of agencies to bargain collectively with their clients suggest that despite the ideology of service an element of servitude is present. The authors present evidence for this thesis through an examination of the literature by and about sheltered workshops and a survey of agency personnel.

Sheltered workshops are important vocational rehabilitation and training facilities that provide a variety of work experiences for handicapped clients. One of the problem areas for these organizations is the degree of congruence they achieve between the condition of being a client and the ideology of the management--the former contains elements of the servitude of clients, while the latter stresses service to clients.

Sheltered workshops provide paid industrial activity geared to the needs of vocationally handicapped individuals who cannot compete in a normal employment situation. The principle on which they are founded is that "rehabilitation can best occur in a situation of 'real work' with a degree of protection from some of the stresses of an actual work situation."1 In addition to remunerative employment the sheltered workshop may provide a variety of services in the areas of diagnosis, therapy, education, welfare, and recreation.

In effect the sheltered workshop is a half-way house between medical care and competitive employment. The client role is intermediate between sick role and work role and contains elements of both. The client is expected to benefit from (1) an opportunity to earn money and feel useful, (2) learning work skills, (3) acquiring such elements of a "work personality” as time patterns, cooperativeness, acceptance of authority, and suitable attitudes toward the job, fellow workers, and earnings, and (4) gaining a sense of acceptance in an economic organization and coming into contact with "social reality."2

The definition of sheltered workshop used in the study reported here is a legal one. The term is applied to any agency that pays handicapped clients for any kind of work so long as the agency has a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor exempting it from the provisions of the minimum wage law. Such certificates are issued when paid work is done by persons whose productive capacity is so impaired that they cannot earn the existing minimum wage.

There were about nine hundred such workshops in the United States in 1966, with over 48,000 clients.3 The fastest growing sector in this field is workshops for the retarded. Other important types are general workshops serving clients with a variety of handicaps and workshops for the blind.

The data reported here were obtained through (1) examination of the literature published by and about sheltered workshops, including publications provided by over fifty affiliates of the National Association of Sheltered Workshops and the National Industries for the Blind, and (2) a survey in which staff members from two such agencies completed questionnaires probing agency-client relations.

Servile labor is subjected to functionally diffuse subordination on the basis of status, while free labor is subjected to functionally specific subordination on the basis of contract. Servitude represents a state of degrading and burdensome subjection in which the incumbent is largely deprived of autonomy.

Simmel distinguished between the subordination of the total individual in servitude and employment in modern industry in which the element of personal subordination is reduced to a specific role under an "objective economic procedure.”4 The main distinction between employment and servitude is that the former involves a narrower and the latter a broader incursion into the subordinate's life space. The person in a servile position may be enjoined to display such qualities as "Humility and Lowliness, Meekness and Gentleness, good temper and fearfulness, respectfulness and submissiveness."5 It may be argued that servility suppresses self-respect and is degrading to the person subjected to it.

Clients of service organizations are characterized by some defined need that the organization purports to fill. The more salient the defined need, the more dependent the client will be. The client's dependency becomes a lever of organizational control over his life, introducing an element of servitude into the social relations of service organizations.

Such organizations need clients in order to justify their existence and to provide a livelihood for their staff members. There is thus an element of interdependence between organizations and clients as there is between masters and servants. Sometimes, perhaps inadvertently, this is indicated in references to an organization's "catchment area," implying a need to "catch" clients with the appropriate disability, without whom the agency would have to close down. In this sense there is a similarity between recruitment of a servile labor force and the recruitment of clients for service organizations. The disparity of power between organizations dispensing a service and clients dependent on receiving that service is such that servitude enters into the situation. The greater the client's disability, the greater his dependency and therefore the more servile his status.

The broader an agency's interest in a client's life space, the greater is the element of servitude in clienthood--and some sheltered workshops take a broad interest indeed. While the rationale for these vocational training and rehabilitation agencies is the concept of providing "real work," some facets of client life that such agencies attempt to influence are nowhere susceptible to managerial control in the case of a free contractual work force. The scope of this intervention is indicated by the diverse aspects of client life that engage agency staffs.

Religion. Several hundred sheltered workshops in the United States are affiliates of religious organizations. The largest of these, Goodwill Industries, originated as part of the missionary activities of the Methodist Church. The Salvation Army, Volunteers of America, and St. Vincent de Paul Society are other large religious associations in the workshop field. In many workshops operated by these societies, clients are urged to attend chapel services. One client handbook states:


Chapel services, usually lasting about thirty minutes, may be held each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 8:05. Religious leaders from various faiths are invited to take part. Attendance is not compulsory, but it is strongly encouraged. Religious faith is an important part of your rehabilitation.


The distinction between compulsory and "strongly encouraged" attendance is problematic, and at least one report by an ex-client defines this part of the program as humiliating and degrading:


We began our day of work with church services. I have nothing against religious services, but we were all preached at as though we had something to be ashamed of because of our handicaps--that because of our afflictions we were sinners. I might add that, unless we attended these services, we were docked one-half hour on the pay check.6


Personal hygiene. Many sheltered workshops issue instructions to their clients about cleanliness and grooming. These are independent concerns of free men and organizational concerns only when subordinates are in a servile status.

One workshop rule enjoins clients in this manner.

You are expected to be clean and bathe regularly using deordorant to prevent becoming offensive. Attention should be given to cleaning of teeth. Men will be clean shaven each morning.


Another specifies:

Clients must be neat and clean. They must bathe frequently, use a deordorant, keep hands and nails clean, shampoo hair as needed and wear clean and appropriate clothing.

Personal relationships. The scope of agency intervention in the life of clients and their corresponding lack of autonomy are also evidenced by numerous directives, such as the following:

Thefts, pregnancy, marriage, provocative behavior and use of uncouth language will require immediate dismissal.

It is not anticipated that the worker is entirely self-supporting. Therefore, the sheltered worker may not marry while in this status. Appropriate guidance will be given to sheltered workers in their boy-girl relationships....


These are regulations of workshops for the mentally retarded and the authors do not intend to enter the moral thicket that surrounds the issue of whether retardates who are not self-supporting should be free to marry. Nevertheless this is clear evidence of clienthood as a servile status. It is also clear that this servitude stems not from the iniquity of power-holders but from the severity of client disability.

Another interesting workshop rule admonishes clients: "Don't loan money to others, don't borrow money from others." This advice, whether from Polonius to Laertes or from workshop staff to clients, is of a sort that signifies a relationship of status rather than contract, in the former case a relationship of kinship while in the latter, servitude.

Clienthood is thus seen to involve intervention in the life of the person receiving a service from the agency in ways that greatly encroach on his autonomy. Father Thomas J. Carroll suggests, in the case of agencies for the blind, that there is a tendency on the part of service organizations to enlarge the scope of their intervention:


Like any enterprise caught between a spirit of expansion and the prospect of a narrowing field, this one has turned to more intensive cultivation of its field. With practically all blind people already clients and streams of newcomers thinning qualitatively if not quantitatively, those who were being served had to be better served. This called for more activities in which the blind could participate under agency supervision, more "programs." And this in turn required that the clients . . . use the programs more frequently. People who seldom came near the agencies had to be encouraged to come more often. Once a person applies to most agencies, even if it is only for a course in Braille, he is a "case" with his casebook always open.7

This points up the fact that client servitude may be a function not only of diagnosed disabilities, but also of organizational needs as emergent interests distinct from those of the client.

tenBroek, in an incisive analysis of the legal foundations of American sheltered workshops, suggests that they are an anachronism:


A vague combination of the workhouse, the almshouse, the factory and the asylum, carefully segregated from “normal" competitive society and administered by a custodial staff armed with sweeping discretionary authority....8


This sweeping authority over servile client populations is explained and justified in a highly developed ideology.

The content of ideology, according to Bergmann, consists of a "value judgment disguised as, or mistaken for, a statement of fact."9 The purpose of ideological statements, says Sutton, "is to influence the sentiments and actions of others."10 Dibble conceptualizes a distinction between ecumenical and parochial ideologies related to rank in structure of differential rewards and authority. While he applies this distinction to occupations, it appears equally applicable to different positions within organizations. Higher ranking groups are more likely to have highly developed ecumenical ideologies than lower ranking groups. An ecumenical ideology must "include ideas which are relevant to the concerns of laymen," while a parochial ideology is mainly relevant to the group entertaining it.11 The higher participants in an organization utilize ideology to persuade lower organizational participants and the public.

As Bendix points out, wherever there are organizations, authority is established and the few obtain compliance from the many.

The few, however, have seldom been satisfied to command without higher justification . . . and the many have seldom been docile enough not to provoke such justification.12


The purpose of such managerial ideologies is to reduce resistance to authority and to minimize conflict between those who command and those whose lot it is to obey.

Two ideologies converge in the sheltered workshop movement-one of service to clients and another of service to business. The former stresses rehabilitation of clients as the central goal of the organization, while the latter advertises the economic benefits that accrue to customers who purchase the goods and services produced by the clients.

The rehabilitation ideology of the sheltered workshop is a variant of the work ethic that pervades the life of Western societies. It is a call for salvation from sloth, representing as a statement of fact a value judgment about work. Many sheltered workshops are "focused on moral, social or spiritual uplift. These missionary efforts rest upon charitable principles for both support and service.13

The rehabilitation ideology is phrased in such expressions as these excerpts from agency brochures:


Today even the grievously disabled can be made functional, even the acutely retarded can be given pride and dignity through workshop programs.

The workshop offers the client a realistic, happy, functioning life within the limits of his disability.

We look to the whole human being--his freedom from pain, his peace of mind, his ability to do the things he must do in order to earn a living and have a happy home.


The business ideology of service to customers is expressed in solicitations for sub-contracts and other business promotion activities. Some of the statements in this type of message are as follows:


Careful attention by skilled workers assures fine quality work.

We have the equipment, facilities, skilled workers and supervisors to produce quality products at competitive prices.

At the heart of __________'s industrial service are the skilled people who are carefully selected for your particular job.

The record shows that there are many jobs in the industry that can be done to your complete satisfaction by skilled blind workers.


That these are expressions of ideology rather than statements of fact is suggested by the selective use made of this theme. It is addressed to the local business community for the purpose of influencing the attitudes and behavior of its members. However, when workshop clients fail to conform to agency expectations of servile demeanor and try to behave in the manner of free contractual labor, the "skilled worker" theme is filed away. In two cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) involving attempts of sheltered workshop clients to obtain collective bargaining rights, the workshop involved contended that the clients were not employees at all but dependent wards.

In the case of Sheltered Workshops of San Diego, Inc., the NLRB declared:

The workshop presented testimony in support of its contention that it is not an "employer" in relation to its clients. Among other things it pointed out its objective of placement and training, the criterion of unemployability which it used in selecting participants in its program . . . and the absence of compulsion or direction over the participants by creating an atmosphere in which they will voluntarily agree to perform whatever work is assigned to them as part of their rehabilitation program.14

The St. Louis Lighthouse for the Blind was also supported by the NLRB in its contention that it was not an employer with respect to its clients and therefore did not have to bargain with a union representing them. In this case the NLRB held that the workshop was essentially a custodial agency and that it exists only "because members of the community are willing to donate their time, services, and money so that a helping hand may be extended to those in need. ..." The end results sought by it are philanthropic in nature and the social need for its existence must not be jeopardized by subjecting it to the full scope of the Labor-Management rules applicable to private industry.15

Management in the sheltered workshop justifies its power over the client by recourse to a broadly ecumenical service ideology, which asserts that the client is subjected to treatment in a servile condition for his own good and for the good of the community. For some specified public groups the emphasis is on the fiction of superior workmanship, but for most purposes the dependency of the client is stressed.

Ideology is an important organizational variable and the extent to which various participants in an enterprise give credence to various expressions of ideology is relevant to the study of service organizations. Reported here are some empirical findings from a survey of sheltered workshop personnel.16

The dimension of credence-skepticism was measured by asking respondents to rate ideological statements as realistic or unrealistic along a scale on which zero represented "unrealistic" and ten, "fully realistic." Variations in belief in organizational ideology were found within agency staffs and between the staffs of different agencies. One may also expect differences on this issue among clients and other groups in contact with sheltered workshops.

Client disability. A comparison was made between a workshop for the blind and a general workshop serving persons with all disabilities except blindness. Staff definitions of both the rehabilitation ideology and the business ideology tended toward a greater degree of credence in the general workshop as compared with the workshop for the blind. In both agencies there was more skepticism about the business ideology than about the rehabilitation ideology. (See Table 1.)

A possible explanation for the greater skepticism among those working with the blind is the custodial nature of the agency--few clients leave the shop for placement in competitive industry--while in the general workshop most clients leave after a fixed term, many to enter competitive or sheltered employment.

Client definitions. One of the key dimensions examined was the staff respondents' definition of the client along a continuum ranging from "real worker" to "patient or ward." Those who defined the client as less dependent were more skeptical about the rehabilitation ideology than those who viewed the client as more dependent. Conversely, those who defined the client as more dependent displayed greater skepticism about the business ideology than those who considered the clients to resemble "real workers," i.e., as less dependent. (See Table 1.)

Evidently a view of the client as an object of charity or professional treatment was more consistent with giving credence to the rehabilitation ideology than a view of the client as an incumbent in a worklike role. However, those who viewed the client as more dependent could not at the same time give credence to the claim that the agency was run on a businesslike basis.


TABLE 1. Variations of Credence in Sheltered Workshop Ideologies (N=44)


Workshop Type

Definition of Client Dependency


For the Blind

All Handicaps
Except Blindness





















Low credence









High credence


















Low credence









High credence









a "Today even the grievously disabled can be made functional, even the acutely retarded can be given pride and dignity through workshop programs."

b "The Shop is operated on a completely business like basis."


Other comparisons on the degree of credence in workshop ideology indicate that with respect to the rehabilitation creed the staff categories of administrators, production supervisors, and rehabilitation professionals vary in the degree of skepticism in the order given--that is, the administrators are most inclined to define this creed as unrealistic and the professionals are most inclined to define it as realistic. This reflects on whose occupational ideology is expressed. Conversely, the administrative staff gives the greatest degree of credence to the business ideology and the rehabilitation staff the least. The administrators are most directly involved in expressing this business creed to customers, trustees, and other groups and thus tend to believe in it more than is the case with other staff sectors.

Given the prevailing ideology--based on the Puritan work ethic--which defines as deviant those who do not fill an occupational role, sheltered workshops seek out these deviants and endeavor to put them to work. In the process these vocationally handicapped persons are subjected to a condition of servitude based on their lack of alternative opportunities. Being handicapped entails a lack of autonomy, which places the client in a servile position. Servile labor declined among able-bodied persons because alternative opportunities arose during industrialization and because the factory system required a free, mobile labor force. Servile labor persists in sheltered workshops because of their clients' truncated opportunity structure and the agencies' refusal to bargain with client organizations.

Sheltered workshops, in a dilemma of their own making, try to expand in areas of unskilled labor that are declining in the competitive job market and do so with clients whose productivity is so impaired that their participation in the economy is altogether problematic. In the words of Terrence Carroll:


. . . the confrontation of what can be termed the "ideology of work," and the increasing numbers of individuals for whom it lacks relevance, has particular importance for sheltered workshops, for this ideology reaches its zenith in the sheltered workshop movement, and particularly in the rationale of terminal . . . workshops whose principal justification would seem to be that "idle hands are the Devil's workshop."

. . . Certainly the need for expansion of terminal workshops might not be either as urgent or as necessary as we frequently hear if we changed some of our attitudes toward the intrinsic honorific value and virtue of work and stopped looking for a twentieth century model of the seventeenth century workhouse.17


Basically the explanation of servitude as an aspect of clienthood evokes a physical model: when a powerful service organization establishes a connection with powerless clients, the power of the former rushes into the power vacuum among the latter in the ways illustrated. Since they lack other resources, the clients of such agencies could improve their power position only by forming coalitions with their peers.18 Through such coalitions they could bargain with various service organizations and change clienthood from a status relationship to a contractual relationship. The refusal of sheltered workshop managements to bargain with unions representing their clients serves to perpetuate servitude as a characteristic of clienthood.

"When the poor engage in successful social action," Haggstrom suggests, "they gain power even when their incomes remains unchanged."19  For the working population in the United States, the right to "organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing" was established in Section VII-a of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933. With a growing population for whom competitive employment has little relevance and for whom dependency is compounded with powerlessness, a right patterned after Section VII-a would reduce the element of servitude that clienthood in different organizations entails.

Carl Gersuny, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island. Mark Lefton, Ph.D., is Professor, Department of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. This investigation was supported in part by a fellowship from the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration.

1 Elizabeth Maloney, "Intake Policies for a Sheltered Workshop," The Crippled Child, Vol. 28, No. 2 (August 1950), p. 13.

2 Simon Olshansky. "The Transitional Sheltered Workshop," Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 16, No. 2 (May 1960), p. 34

3 U.S. Department of Labor, "Sheltered Workshops," Manpower Research Bulletin No. 15 (March 1967), p. 27.

4 Georg Simmel, THE SOCIOLOGY OF GEORG SIMMEL, Kurt Wolff, trans. (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1950), p. 263.

(London, England: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1956), p. 73.

6 Quoted in Jacobus tenBroek, "Sheltered Workshops for the Physically Disabled," Journal of Urban Law, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Fall 1966), p. 50.

7 Thomas J. Carroll, BLINDNESS (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1961), p. 245.

8 Op. cit. p. 66.

9 Gustav Bergmann, "Ideology," Ethics, Vol. 61, No. 3 (April 1951), p. 215.

10 Francix X. Sutton et al., THE AMERICAN BUSINESS IDEOLOGY (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1956), p. 2.

11 Vernon K. Dibble, "Occupations and Ideologies," American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 68, No. 2 (September 1962), p. 230.

12 Reinhard Bendix, WORK AND AUTHORITY IN INDUSTRY (New York: John Wiley & sons, 1956), p. 1.

13 Nellie Z. Thompson, ed., THE ROLE OF THE WORKSHOP IN REHABILITATION (Washington, D.C.: National Association of Sheltered Workshops and Homebound Programs, 1958), p. 26.

14 U.S. National Labor Relations Board, 126 NLRB 119 (March 4, 1960), p. 3. (Mimeographed.)

15 Quoted in tenBroek, op. cit., p. 63.

16 Carl Gersuny, "Sheltered Workshops and Differential Client Characteristics." Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. Case Western Reserve University, 1968.

17 Quoted in tenBroek, op. cit., p. 19.

18 Warren C. Haggstrom, "The Power of the Poor," in Frank Riessman et al., eds., MENTAL HEALTH OF THE POOR (New York Free Press, 1964), p. 218.

19 Ibid.

Back to Contents


Bright and early Saturday, May 1, 1971, in Idaho over 100 energetic persons began a twenty-mile trek for the March of Dimes "Walkathon." Each participant secured a sponsor who pledged to the March of Dimes a certain amount per mile walked. Pledges ranged from 10 cents to $1300 per mile. Idaho's Governor Cecil Andrus and Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa led the group.

Included were four members of the Gem State Blind, Inc. Phil Nickel of Ash ton, Idaho, and Vern Whittaker, Marsing, Idaho, walked the full twenty miles and collected a few blisters as well as money for their efforts. Sister Joyce Green, Boise, Idaho, completed twelve of the twenty miles. Dick Jones covered six miles and had craftily obtained two sponsors as a blister preventative measure. These four participants with their white canes earned a total of $150 for the March of Dimes.


John Ford, president of the Montana Association for the Blind, was recently appointed to serve on the Montana State Advisory Council which advises the State Library Commission. John was also the captain of the bowling team which won the league championship this year. It is interesting to note that the team for which he bowled represents an insurance company which refuses to insure blind persons. John, the one blind man on the team, had the highest average. Funny, how things work out sometimes.

Not to be outdone, Susan, John's wife, was awarded a fellowship to study for the next school year at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. She will be completing her master's degree work in the education of blind children.


John Nagle claims that a blind man told him this story in the NFB's Washington Office: a blind man was standing in a hospital corridor waiting while his wife was having tests. An ophthalmologist came along the hall, saw the man with the long white cane and, apparently professionally curious, asked the blind man if he minded if he looked into his eyes. The blind man said no, and the doctor looked. "I don't see anything wrong with your eyes," said the doctor. "Hardly likely," said the blind man, "they're artificial." The embryo ophthalmologist continued on his way without further comment.


A unanimous opinion by the California Supreme Court held that general welfare assistance cannot be denied the jobless merely because they are considered "employable." The high court thus struck down what has been called the "employable single man rule" which has been in existence for some time in at least fourteen California counties. Ruling in another case involving welfare eligibility, the same court unanimously upheld the right of two families to sue for resulting damages after local officials ordered their children to harvest grapes, in violation of child labor laws, or lose benefits. In the "employability" case, the Court said that while a man may be "employable," that doesn't assure his employment.


The Eyecatcher, publication of the Empire State Association of the Blind, reports that there are fifty-eight blind teachers working in New York State at the present time. This includes eight full time teachers in the City of New York. In addition there are from eight to eleven blind teachers working as substitutes in the City of New York and they receive $40.00 per day. All of this has resulted from the efforts of the ESAB which secured an amendment to the Education Code in the late fifties.


The blind who lead the blind recently showed how it's done at California's first Blind Expo in Stockton. Booths, displays and demonstrations illustrated the theme, "Situation: Out of Sight." More than fifty blind persons from twenty-six California communities engaged in vocational, professional, business and homemaking tasks.


A Federal hearing examiner has recommended that Missouri be found out of compliance with Federal welfare law on the following points: Contrary to Federal law, the State reduced the amount of medical care and service provided under its medical assistance plan, without a certification by the Governor to the Secretary of HEW that the State's total expenditures for medical assistance will not fall below the previous year's level; the State's medical assistance plan fails to include home health services for persons who, under the plan, are entitled to skilled nursing home services; and the State does not furnish public assistance with reasonable promptness to all eligible persons, within the required time standards of thirty days for the aged, blind, families with dependent children, and medical assistance programs, and sixty days for the aid to disabled program.


One recommendation made in the Virginia Governor's Management Study Report, reports the Newsletter of the Virginia Commission for the Visually Handicapped, is that the two residential schools for deaf and blind children be reorganized, resulting in a school for the blind being located on one campus and a school for the deaf on the other. The report further envisions the school for the blind being administered by the Virginia Commission for the Visually Handicapped. If the contention that a special agency for the blind can best cope with the problems of blind people is a valid one, and we believe it is, then how can an exception be made for educational needs?


In a significant release from the White House Conference on Aging, answers were given to a national questionnaire sent to older Americans. More than half who filled out the query said they don't have enough money to make ends meet. Fifty-five percent said they can't afford to buy the food they like. More than half said that to get by, they must spend less than $200 a month. Twenty percent said they are limited to less than $100 a month. Perhaps the saddest of all was the 17.4 percent who answered the question "Do you sometimes feel that you have nothing to live for?" with a yes. The many and complex problems relating to income are the most important concern of older citizens. The preliminary tabulation of the 200,00 answers revealed that 71.9 percent of the aged depend on Social Security payments alone for income while 16.9 percent also rely on earnings. Only five percent said they got money from relatives. Almost fifty percent said they own their homes. Of the 35.3 percent who live alone, women outnumbered men three to one. Next to income and health, transportation problems are of increasing concern, one-third reporting travel problems. A surprising and sad 22.2 percent of the older Americans said they "sometimes feel they are just not wanted."


On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed into law the Pratt-Smoot Act which authorized the Library of Congress to provide Braille books, in substantial quantities, so that any blind adult in the country could have a free library service, no matter where he lived. Unfortunately, however, most blind persons did not have a sufficient mastery of Braille to be able to benefit from that service. Within three years technical development made it possible to record fifteen minutes of text on one side of a twelve-inch record so that a book of about three hundred pages could be produced on about twenty records, reports the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress. Technical improvements have made recorded books far more compact and lighter in weight than they were in 1934. Over the years there have been many amendments to the Pratt-Smoot Act, but it all began forty years ago.


Carl Larson, president of the United Blind of Minnesota, reports that one of his board members, Ivan Roelofs of Minneapolis was recently awarded one of the prized Rose and Jay Phillips Awards, for three years of self-sustaining employment. Roelofs, age thirty-six, is a computer programmer for the Minnesota Life Insurance Company.


HEW's Office of Education reports that today there are an estimated six million school-age and one million pre-school age children who are handicapped. Only forty percent of these children receive any special education at all. As many as half of them could develop in regular educational classrooms if they had the support of part-time special education services, one of the top priority goals of the Office of Education.


Ned L. Graham, Legislative Chairman of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, reports that Maryland moves again! On May 6, 1971, Governor Marvin Mandel signed into law the complete Model White Cane Law, including the provisions regarding fair housing. This is decidedly a step forward for your State, Ned, and we congratulate you!


Mr. Louis DeFelice of Rhode Island says that he has succeeded in having buzzers added to light signals at a very busy intersection in Providence making it easier for blind and sighted people to cross the streets.


[The following editorial is reprinted by courtesy of the Washington (D.C.) Post.] Already consigned to the outer edges of visual awareness, the 430,000 blind people in America often suffer more than just lack of eyesight. Many can't find jobs, others never recover the drain of money on medical expenses that led to blindness, some cannot locate or afford professional rehabilitation services. Perhaps the most shackling burden however, is to be both blind and old, a fate that affects more people than may be generally realized. The National Society for the Prevention of Blindness estimates that seventy-five percent of the blind population is forty years or older. Of the 40,000 who become blind each year, some 30,000 of these are forty or older.

The combination of blindness and age has obvious pains. At best, most people must adjust to an automatic fifty or sixty percent drop in income upon retirement. Consider, in addition to that, the ordeal of adjusting to eating, cooking, walking, or doing any of a number of other things in constant darkness after forty, fifty, sixty or more years performing them without special effort. With these problems, and others, in mind, a bill was introduced earlier this month by Sen. Jennings Randolph and forty-eight bipartisan cosponsors, to provide for a federal grant-in-aid program to the states for rehabilitation services for the elderly blind.

The program, which would come as an amendment to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act and authorize ten million dollars for the first year ending June 30, 1972, is needed. As Sen. Randolph said, except in limited cases under the present act, "no other federal program--medicare, medicaid, public assistance . . . the Older Americans Act, the Public Health Service Act--covers non-medical rehabilitation services for older blind persons." With excellent intentions, and often excellent results, public and private agencies have given great interest to the needs of blind children and blind adults of employable age, but comparatively little has been done for the elderly blind. Even if the latter was not the largest group in this afflicted population, there would still be no excuse for ignoring their needs. The proposed legislation would help make up for both lost time and lost concern.


Leslie K. Hutchings, twenty-one, graduated from the University of Utah with a B. A. degree in French--and a Phi Beta Kappa key. She is blind. Born with an inoperable eye condition, Miss Hutchings suffered deterioration of the retina, and as early as the fourth grade had to use large print books in school. After the sixth grade she entered the Utah State School for the Blind and for four years prepared for the inevitable total blindness, learning Braille and other skills she would need. She took a full load at the University and did most of her homework from tapes, records and Braille. She took class notes with a slate and stylus, and wrote papers with a six-key Braille typewriter. For an honors thesis she analyzed Andre Gide's La Symphonie Pastorale a classic novel about a blind girl. She said she would like to teach high school French and has applied to several small school districts.


[From Twilight Times, publication of the University of Maryland] That the blind may know their way ... is one of several new concepts about maps and mapping in the Geography Department. Sometime lecturer for University College Joseph W. Wiedel is one of the earliest developers of these "maps you can feel." His method is to relate landmarks average eyes see around them to symbols that can be felt on a plastic matrix by people without normal sight. These symbols bear a simplified relationship to the actual feature or construction and are modified to the situation and the scale necessary to convey relative distances and sizes of terrain features. The design of tactual maps is a challenge--even for a cartographer, Wiedel will admit. One problem is the lack of any reference material. "Existing map sources," he explains, "are designed not only for the sighted, but for the motorist as well-not the pedestrian. Consequently, we must personally walk any area to be mapped and by 'thinking blind', note the features that serve as landmarks for the blind." Professor Wiedel, who was graduated from the University in 1958 and received his MA at Maryland in 1963, works closely in the Geography Department with Dr. Paul A. Groves, who has also taught for University College. Recently Wiedel has been appointed to join the joint effort of three major associations for the blind in the Braille Codes Pilot project, funded by Social Rehabilitation Service (HEW). He will serve as a member of the Maps-Charts-Diagrams Committee.


Ross Curry, blind student at California State College, Fullerton, is running for a seat on the Community College District of North Orange County board of trustees, reports Bob Sanders of the Long Beach (California) Press-Telegram. The district has 18,000 registered voters.


We are now sending out in Braille, inkprint, and on record, approximately 10,000 copies of THE MONITOR each month. It costs us approximately $125,000 per year to do this. THE MONITOR is, by far, the largest single item in the NFB budget. THE MONITOR is also the most important means of communication available to the blind of the nation. We do not make any charge for THE MONITOR and we have no intention of doing so. However, money is hard to come by and the continued financing of THE MONITOR is a major item. From the above figures it will be clear that it costs about $12.50 per year to publish and distribute each individual subscription to THE MONITOR. If readers or affiliates are in a financial position to do so and care to contribute toward the publication of THE MONITOR, donations will be gratefully received. Checks should be made payable to the National Federation of the Blind and sent to Franklin VanVliet, Treasurer, National Federation of the Blind, 207 Fisherville Road, Penacook, New Hampshire 03301.

Back to Contents