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 Florence Grannis

by June McManus

by Perry Sundquist


by James Omvig


by John Taylor


by John Nagle


by Harvey Lauer


Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from National Federation of the Blind (NFB)


The 1972 NFB Convention will convene at the Palmer House in Chicago, Illinois, not at the Sherman House as previously reported.



[Editor's Note: James M. Hahn, Assistant Chief for Reader Services, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, had accepted the invitation of the National Federation of the Blind to address its annual Convention in Houston on July 8, 1971. He failed to appear and investigation proved that he was at his desk in Washington, D.C., and had not bothered to inform the officers of the NFB that he was not going to meet his commitment. The Convention adopted a strong resolution urging that Mr. Hahn be reprimanded by his superiors for his casual indifference to the largest assemblage of consumers ever to occur. The resolution, in addition, instructed the President of the NFB to send the resolution, with a covering letter, to the President of the United States, the Librarian of Congress, and to the members of the United States Congress. The letter and resolution are set forth below. Many Congressmen have responded and a number have asked Congressman Wayne Hays, Chairman, and Senator B. Everett Jordan, Vice Chairman, of the Joint Committee on the Library, to look into the matter. Others have contacted L. Quincy Mumford, the Librarian of Congress. Some of this correspondence is set forth below.]

July 26, 1971

The Honorable Richard M. Nixon
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write this letter to call to your attention a matter involving the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress and its behavior toward the organized blind citizens of this Nation. Mr. Robert Bray, chief of that division, has repeatedly demonstrated during the past few years an attitude of disrespect and contempt for the very people he is employed to serve. The tone he sets has pervaded his staff to such an extent that silence and passive submission are no longer possible.

The enclosed resolution adopted unanimously by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled in Houston, Texas is self-explanatory. We call your attention to this matter in the hope and belief that you will take action to remedy this situation.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind



WHEREAS, James Hahn, Assistant Chief for Reader Services, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, was extended an invitation to appear and speak at the Houston Convention of the National Federation of the Blind; and

WHEREAS, James Hahn (with the full knowledge and approval of his superior, Robert S. Bray, Chief of the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress) accepted such invitation and agreed in discussion with President Kenneth Jernigan on the day and hour for his Convention presentation (as witness the enclosed correspondence); and

WHEREAS, said day and time came and passed without the presence or any word at all from James Hahn in the Convention hall or in the Convention hotel or in the city of Houston, Texas; and

WHEREAS, James Hahn, when reminded of his commitment to speak to the Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, said (with great and shameful indifference) that he intended to send a telegram and was most offensively casual about his discourteous neglect to honor his pledged appearance before the largest gathering of blind persons ever held in this nation and in the world; and

WHEREAS, James Hahn's action exemplifies the attitude generally encountered in other and directing personnel of the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress in their dealings toward the blind to whom they owe accountability for their stewardship for the manner in which they function in administering services to blind people; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this 8th day of July, 1971, in the city of Houston, Texas, that this organization is most justifiably indignant at the treatment accorded the members of the National Federation of the Blind by the insulting and boorish manner and actions of James Hahn; and the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress; and be it further

RESOLVED that this organization directs its officers to take all actions necessary, including the forwarding of this resolution to President Richard M. Nixon, L. Quincy Mumford, Librarian of the Library of Congress, Robert S. Bray, Chief of the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress, James Hahn, Assistant Chief for Reader Service, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress, all members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and to any and all others deemed by the President of the National Federation of the Blind to be among those who should be apprised of the conduct and behavior of a Federal public servant to the segment of the public whom he is hired to serve; and be it further

RESOLVED that appropriate officials be asked to reprimand James Hahn and Robert S. Bray for their failure to act with responsibility toward the persons they are engaged to serve and that the members of the National Federation of the Blind fully expect and are entitled to a full explanation and apology for their reprehensible behavior; and be it further

RESOLVED that the President of this organization is directed to take all steps required to assure that employees of the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress, hired only for the purpose of serving the blind and the physically handicapped, do serve the blind and the physically handicapped, and to do all things necessary and reasonable to see that such employees act in all ways required of them as public servants toward the blind and physically handicapped whom they are engaged and paid to serve. Adopted unanimously.


Washington, D.C. 20540

August 3, 1971

Dear Mr. Jernigan:

I regret the disappointment caused by the failure of Mr. James Hahn to appear at the National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind held in Houston in early July. I am sure you appreciate that emergencies can occur, in this instance an illegal intrusion into Mr. Hahn's rural home that prevented him from leaving the Washington area. It is unfortunate, of course, that his efforts to communicate the emergency were not successful, but the Library's interest in the National Federation and its Convention was certainly demonstrated by the three other staff members who were there.

I am concerned, however, at the apparent disparity between the tone and contents of the resolution and the facts. This is the first time that any communication addressed to me from the Federation or any of its officers has expressed or implied any criticism of the Library of Congress or its Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Sentiments expressed in the past in a considerable volume of correspondence have typically praised the program.

I do most certainly express the Library's official regret for Mr. Hahn's absence. As you know, it has long been our policy and practice to cooperate in an appropriate manner with all organizations engaged in pursuing the objective of providing for the reading needs of the blind and physically handicapped.

Sincerely yours,

L. Quincy Mumford
Librarian of Congress


August 5, 1971

Mr. L. Quincy Mumford
Librarian of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20540

Dear Mr. Mumford:

I have your letter of August 3, and I thank you for it. To the best of my knowledge, you are correct when you say that this is the first time any communication has been sent to you from officials of the National Federation of the Blind criticizing the Library of Congress or Mr. Bray's Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. In fact, I myself seven or eight years ago (in my capacity' as Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind--and, therefore, the Iowa library for the blind) wrote a letter to Congressmen and Senators from our state praising Mr. Bray for his good work and cooperative spirit. What I said at that time was Que. It is no longer true.

Whether Mr. Bray's sense of self-importance has gotten the best of him, whether he cannot stand compliment or praise, whether he has simply settled into a routine and begun to neglect service to blind people, or whether something else is the cause, I express no opinion. However, the facts are that more and more blind people throughout the country are finding Mr. Bray's attitudes high-handed and arrogant, not to say condescending, and are finding the service from his Division increasingly poor to the point of disappearing altogether.

Although officials of the National Federation of the Blind have not communicated directly with you (as Mr. Bray's superior) to express dissatisfaction with his behavior and the behavior of his Division during the past few years, the dissatisfaction has existed. We wished to be cooperative and positive, not picky or negative. However, Mr. Bray is aware of the concern we have felt because of the deteriorating service from his Division. If you wish me to do so, I can document the situation. On more than one occasion during the past few years resolutions adopted by the National Federation of the Blind Convention and by state affiliates of the Federation have expressed concern and have urged improvement. These resolutions have been sent to Mr. Bray--who, I assume from your comments, did not communicate them to you.

With respect to the circumstances surrounding the incident occasioning the resolution passed by the recent Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, which I sent you and to which you responded, 1 would like to make comment. You say in your letter of August 3 that you are "concerned. ... at the apparent disparity between the tone and contents of the resolution and the facts."

I believe a dispassionate examination of what occurred will show that there is no disparity at all. Mr. Hahn was invited to attend the NFB Convention several months ago, and he accepted that invitation in writing, as I documented to you. He did not come to the Convention. When he was contacted, he showed no concern about the matter whatever. Apparently he alleges that a prowler broke into his house, which I am sure is true; but this alleged break-in occurred several days before his scheduled appearance in Houston. Further, it requires a considerable amount of charity, not to mention a lively exercise of the imagination, to believe that he was unable to communicate with us to tell us that he would not come. This is true because the National Federation of the Blind maintained an information desk with a telephone linked to the hotel switchboard during the entire time of the Convention. This information desk was manned from 8 o'clock in the morning until after 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Further, a receptionist was on official duty in the NFB headquarters suite beginning at 7 o'clock in the morning. The suite was manned until late at night. Surely one should not be asked to believe that Mr. Hahn could not have contacted Federation officials by telephone to inform us of his inability' to attend. In view of these facts I believe the resolution puts the situation into precisely the proper light.

Some 1,500 blind consumers were present in Convention and had been assured that the Library of Congress would send a representative to talk to them about services. These 1,500 were not merely there as individuals but were delegates from organizations of blind people throughout the nation. They felt that the treatment they received was, to say the least, casual, if not cavalier.

With all of this in mind you will, I hope, look into the conduct of Mr. Bray's Division since what that Division does greatly affects the lives of tens of thousands of blind people. We wish to cooperate with Mr. Bray and other officials of the Library of Congress, but we also wish to be treated with reasonable courtesy and respect.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind


August 9, 1971

Mr. L. Quincy Mumford
Librarian of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20540

Dear Mr. Mumford:

On August 5, 1971, I responded to your letter to me dated August 3, 1971. I have now been asked by a member of Congress to comment on that portion of your August 3 letter which reads: "[T]he Library's interest in the National Federation and its Convention was certainly demonstrated by the three other staff members who were there."

I think this portion of your letter creates a false impression. Mr. Hahn's failure to attend our Convention in Houston and his failure even to do us the courtesy of calling to say that he would not come are not mitigated by the circumstance you cite. Two of the staff members of the Library who attended our Convention did not come in their capacity as Library employees but as blind people, who are members of the Federation.

These people do not hold policy positions in Mr. Bray's Division. Consequently, they could not and did not speak for that Division. In fact, it has been reliably reported to me that Mr. Bray has said on more than one occasion that a blind person would not be able to hold a professional position in his Division. Whether these reports are accurate I cannot say for an absolute certainty, but the fact remains that no blind person does hold such a position.

The third Library staff member who came to Houston is the head of student services in the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and she did not attend our Convention sessions at all; nor was she available for any discussions with our delegates. Rather, she came one day before our Convention sessions began to meet with our Student Division. Her coming was appreciated but, in no sense, did it substitute for Mr. Hahn's appearance--which was slated for a full Convention session for discussion of overall Library services with the delegates.

In any case, I think the record should remain unclouded. The Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress committed itself to be present at our Convention to explain its services to and to discuss them with the representatives of the nation's organized blind. That commitment was not kept. We were not even give the courtesy of a telephone call despite the fact that nothing would have been easier, as I explained in my August 5 letter. Instead of a forthright apology and attempt to make amends, the Library has simply responded defensively and evasively since the time of the Convention. This is surely unusual conduct in the circumstances.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind


August 6, 1971

The Honorable Wayne Hays
Chairman, House Administration Committee
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

Dear Congressman Hays:

In a recent letter I informed you of problems which we have had with the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress. I am now in receipt of a letter (copy attached) from Mr. Mumford, Librarian of Congress--which letter, in my opinion, does not accurately portray the situation. You will observe that 1 have replied to Mr. Mumford (copy attached).

I realize that, as a Congressman and the Chairman of an important Committee of Congress, you are extremely busy. Thus, I regret the necessity for asking you to take time to look into the matter. However, it seems to me that the principle at stake is important and that the service (or lack thereof) from Mr. Bray's Division vitally affects the lives of many thousands of blind Americans. As the elected President of the largest organized group of blind citizens in the nation I now request that you do what you can to see that Mr. Bray's Division behaves in a more responsible and responsive manner toward the people the Congress has directed that the Division serve.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind


August 4, 1971

Mr. L. Quincy Mumford
The Librarian of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20540

Dear Mr. Mumford:

Thank you very much for sending me a copy of your August 3 letter to Mr. Kenneth Jernigan, in response to my referral of the National Federation of the Blind Resolution.

I regard your explanation of Mr. Hahn's failure to appear at the National Convention to be satisfactory. I wonder, however, at what the unstated "efforts to communicate" were.

More importantly, I am somewhat disturbed by the first sentence of the second paragraph of your letter, wherein you comment on the "apparent disparity between the resolution and the facts". But the only fact you cite in support of that statement is that the Federation has not complained before. Wouldn't it have been more appropriate for you to ask for documentation of these complaints, of which you were previously unaware? While waiting for such documentation, would it not be suitable for a public servant to apologize for any such failings that may have occurred? I should appreciate your further consideration of this matter and an early response. I am sending a copy of this letter to Mr. Jernigan.

With warmest regards.


Walter F. Mondale


Washington, D.C. 20540

August 12, 1971

Dear Mr. Jernigan:

I thank you for your letter of August 5 and the further information you provide regarding the problem of the relationship between your organization and the Library's Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. You are correct that I have not been aware of the earlier resolutions of the National Federation and its state affiliates. While I do not like to trouble you for the documentation you offer, perhaps it would be useful to me in reviewing the total record. Until I have had an opportunity to review this record, I would prefer to withhold judgment on your comments about Mr. Bray and the Division's services.

With regard to the specific incident, I share your incredulity about Mr. Hahn's failure to communicate, since my own investigation left me unsatisfied on this point. I cannot explain it, but I am convinced it was not intended as a negative reflection upon the Federation and its work. That the Library and the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped failed to honor a commitment certainly justifies an official apology to the National Federation of the Blind.

On the other hand, I believe our record of cooperation with a large number of organizations cannot be ignored. It was this record of service and cooperation that I had in mind in expressing concern for the tone and contents of the recent resolution. It is certainly my intention that reasonable courtesy and respect should govern the activities of the Library's staff. Our mutual objectives with regard to serving the Nation's blind citizens are too important to suffer from an incident of this kind, serious though it may be. I shall write you again when I have had an opportunity for further investigation.

Sincerely yours,

L. Quincy Mumford
Librarian of Congress


Washington, D.C. 20540

August 16, 1971

Dear Mr. Jernigan:

This is in response to your letter of August 9.

My letter of August 12, replying to yours of August 5, contains some comments germane to your August 9 letter, particularly a second apology and an admission of my concern about the failure of Mr. Hahn to communicate to the Federation's Convention by telephone.

Your facts about the attendance of the three Library staff members are not entirely accurate. All three attended as part of their official Government duties. It is true that Mr. Bickford and Mrs. Conard are members of the National Federation, but they attended as Library staff members. It is also true that Miss Peaco attended only part of the Convention, but she was in fact there. All three can "speak for" the Division in matters relating to their assigned responsibilities, although you note correctly that Mr. Bickford and Mrs. Conard were not scheduled speakers.

As I mentioned in my August 12 letter, I shall withhold comments on Mr. Bray and other matters of Divisional policy pending further investigation.

Sincerely yours,

L. Quincy Mumford
Librarian of Congress


August 23, 1971

Mr. L. Quincy Mumford
Librarian of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20540

Dear Mr. Mumford:

This will reply to and thank you for your letters of August 12 and August 16, 1971. I thank you for the concern you have expressed in resolving the current problem, and I especially thank you for the tone of your communications.

Along with this letter, I am sending you correspondence which I have had with Mr. Hahn. It seems to me that his letter exemplifies the attitudes of Mr. Bray's Division. He purports to send an apology but only succeeds in being petulant and insulting. This, however, is perhaps beside the point.

The real question now does not involve die specifics of the Houston incident but the quality of services and the future conduct of Mr. Bray's Division. You have asked that I provide you with documentation concerning the performance of the Division. The documentation is abundant and conclusive. It will be forthcoming in a few days.

Not wishing to create problems or unpleasantness, we of the organized blind have not brought difficulties concerning Mr. Bray's Division to you in the past. Perhaps this was a mistake. Such difficulties have been and are serious. They have also increased steadily during the past few years.

The library service is important to the blind of the nation. It represents one of our principal resources. We hope and believe that you will investigate the conduct of Mr. Bray's Division and take remedial steps.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind


Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Washington, D.C. 20542

August 9, 1971

Reference Department
1291 Taylor Street, N. W.
Area Code 202-882-5500

Dear Mr. Jernigan:

I have received a copy of the National Federation of the Blind's Resolution 71-21. I had hoped to be enlightened as to the reasons for your calling me "insulting and boorish" and the basis for your allegation that it was with "great and shameful indifference" that I supposedly said "I had intended to send a telegram." However, the resolution lacked the specifics which were also absent from newspaper accounts of your remarks.

"Insulting" and "boorish" are subjective value judgments and if you chose to make and state them without review, it of course, is your prerogative. As for my being indifferent about not being able to make my commitment, nothing could be further from the truth.

It was a lack of indifference rather than the indifference of which you have accused me that led to the late notice of my inability to be in Houston. The inability itself, as you had been informed prior to making your statement, was beyond my control. I can only assume that the message I gave to Mr. Tom Bickford was compressed and thereby given an, I am sure, unintentional change in tenor in its passage to you.

You have asked for a full explanation. Because of your name calling in response to the message I gave to Mr. Bickford, I am not quite sure what you mean by a full explanation. The following is a resume of the incidents leading up to my inability to appear at the meeting and late notice provided you.

On the afternoon of Monday, July 6, my family and I returned to our farm from a visit to a neighbor's house. Upon entering my home which is in an isolated, rural setting, my wife and two eldest daughters went to the second floor where they encountered a stranger who had entered the house during our absence. Their screams alerted me to the problem, the intruder was detained and turned over to the police.

The hysterical fear engendered among my wife and five daughters by this incident became apparent that night. Although the circumstances did not appear favorable for my attendance in Houston, I had been looking forward to speaking to the Federation and decided to delay any decision until Tuesday night hoping the effects would have subsided by then.

On Tuesday morning I discussed the problem and its ramifications with Mr. Bray. Understanding the dangers of leaving my family before they were ready for it, he gave me permission to not attend the conference if I felt it necessary to remain in the area. Tuesday evening showed no lessening in the tensions at home.

On Wednesday a telegram (copy attached) addressed to you stating, "Emergency at home prevents me from being in Houston to speak to the Federation. Please extend my apology to the group. Best wishes for a fruitful meeting." was prepared and sent from our building to the Central Services Division at the Main Building of the Library of Congress for dispatching. On the morning of Thursday, July 8, it was returned to me because Western Union was on strike and the message could not be sent. I then attempted to get a message to you by teletype but discovered that the Shamrock Hilton does not have a TWX terminal. I then attempted to telephone. Before the connection was completed, Mr. Thomas Bickford, one of my staff who is a Federation member and was in attendance at the conference, telephoned from Houston to see why I was not there. I explained the situation, recounted my attempts to send a message and read the message I had been trying to send. He, as I understand it, relayed my message to you. Your request for an apology implies you did not receive the one I asked Mr. Bickford to relay to the members. I assume he did so. I gladly apologize again and am truly sorry that I could not attend.

As for your allegation that my action, which I feel you have totally misconstrued, "exemplifies the attitude generally encountered in other and directing personnel of the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress in their dealings toward the blind" both Mr. Bray and I would appreciate seeing any documentation supporting this statement. The Division's files, including a number of letters signed by you, indicate the exact opposite.


James M. Hahn
Assistant Chief for Reader Services


Sending Blank





August 23, 1971

Mr. James M. Hahn, Assistant Chief for Reader Services, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
The Library of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20542

Dear Mr. Hahn:

I am in receipt of your letter of August 9, 1971, which presumably purports to be an apology for your failure to attend the Convention of the National Federation of the Blind and the circumstances surrounding that failure. If your letter is, indeed, meant to be an apology, it is unique in that genre, to say the least. At the very beginning of your August 9 letter you say that you had hoped to be enlightened as to the reasons for my calling you "insulting and boorish." In the first place I did not call you anything. A formal resolution adopted by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled characterized your conduct as such. Attempting to personalize the language as mine will not remedy the situation. However, if you are in doubt as to why the language is appropriate, I suggest that you read your own letter of August 9 to see whether the characterization might not be apt.

Let me review with you what you yourself say occurred regarding your failure to keep your commitment. You say that an intruder entered your house on Monday, July 6, frightening your wife and daughters. (Incidentally, Monday was not July 6 but July 5. However, I presume in the context of your letter, you mean Monday.)

You say that your interest in attending our Convention kept you from notifying us at once that you might not be able to come. This language clearly indicates that you thought, as early as Tuesday morning when you went to work, that you might not attend. In view of your interest in our Convention and the fact that the Library of Congress has a WATS line (so that you could have called without any cost whatever to you or the government), would it not have been considerate to have called me on Tuesday, July 6, to say that you might not be able to come so that I might have arranged for an alternative program item?

There would have been no problem in reaching me. A receptionist was on duty in the Presidential Suite beginning at 7 o'clock each morning and continuing until late at night. Further, the Federation had a telephone on its information desk connected directly to the hotel switchboard. This telephone was manned from 8:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, as well as other days of the Convention.

You say that on Wednesday, when you realized that the fears of your family would make your attendance at our Convention inadvisable, you tried to send a telegram. Even though you had a WATS line which could have been used without cost, you resorted to the telegram. Of course, Western Union was on strike, a fact which had been widely publicized throughout the nation. However, you did not know of this fact until Thursday, at which time your telegram was returned to you. Thursday morning, incidentally, was the time your appearance was scheduled. Even then, the WATS line did not present itself as a possibility. You turned next to the teletype but learned that the Shamrock Hilton had no such facility. At this stage you sought to call but before the connection could be completed a call reached you from Houston to inquire why you were not present.

It is, perhaps, worth noting that the call from Houston was not placed until after the time for your scheduled appearance, after your name had been called from the platform and public wonder had been expressed as to whether an accident might have befallen you or where you might be. Your own statement would indicate that it was at about this time that you were attempting to call to say that you would not be able to be present.

In view of all of this history perhaps it is not surprising that the members of the Federation have had difficulty in understanding the rationale of your conduct. Apparently Mr. Mumford, the Librarian of Congress, has also had difficulty in understanding your conduct in view of the statement in his letter to me of August 12, 1971. He says: "With regard to the specific incident, I share your incredulity about Mr. Hahn's failure to communicate, since my own investigation left me unsatisfied on this point."

Mr. Hahn, I think this matter has been pretty thoroughly reviewed. By your own statement you discussed whether you should come to our Convention with your Chief, Mr. Robert Bray, on Tuesday morning, July 6. You took the action which you took. Your letter of apology is no apology at all. In fact it is of a piece with your behavior concerning the Convention. You tell me that you and Mr. Bray would like to see documentation concerning the attitudes and behavior of the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress. The documentation is easy to come by. It is abundant. It will be forthcoming.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind

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WHEREAS, the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress has the responsibility for providing reading matter to the blind of this nation; and

WHEREAS, the blind (like any other group of citizens) wish to have some voice in and to be consulted about matters affecting their lives--especially a matter as vitally important as the books available to them and how these books are procured and made available; and

WHEREAS, the policies of Mr. Robert Bray, the Chief of the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress, are regressive and inefficient to the point of retarding provision of good library services to the blind of the nation--such policies being characterized by needless red tape, wasteful and inefficient reissuance of books already available in abundant supply, poor book selection procedures, and promotion of a negative philosophy (in his own division and the regional libraries) that the blind are not capable of accepting ordinary responsibility and behaving as maturely as sighted library borrowers similarly situated; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Bray's negative attitudes toward the blind are exemplified by the arrogant and highhanded behavior which he consistently exhibits towards individual blind citizens and organizations of the blind; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Bray's behavior and attitudes can no longer go unchallenged and unnoticed;

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Gem State Blind in convention assembled, m the city of Boise, Idaho, this 14th day of August, 1971, that Mr. Bray's conduct and attitudes be brought to the attention of our Senators and Congressmen with the request that they contact Mr. L. Quincy Mumford, the Librarian of Congress, to initiate corrective action; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be sent to Mr. Mumford, other public officials, and the news media; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, individually and collectively, the members of this organization do all that they can to see that a change of attitude and policy occurs in the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped with a view to making that division more responsive than it now is to the legitimate needs and wishes of the nation's blind citizens.

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by Florence Grannis

Let's look at the basic philosophy a library is built upon--the borrowers of a library for the blind should have the same library service they would have if they were not blind and lived in a good library area. What does this mean? That each person have the books and information he wants when he wants them. In other words, a library for the blind is a public library using--mostly--other media than regular print. In one way a library for the blind has an edge on an ordinary public library--the library for the blind can and should produce special material to order. If a reader needs four references on the manufacture of glass and the library has only one, it can Braille, tape or large type three others. If he needs to write a history of Standard Oil and the most diligent search locates only a brief magazine article on it in the library's collection, there will be undoubtedly some good print information in an institution nearby which can be quickly transcribed into the desired medium.

Someone wishes to pass his high school equivalency tests--where does the library come in? There are very effective print books designed to help achieve this goal. A library for the blind should have all these books in Braille, tape, large type, and, in addition, math books, spelling books, vocabulary books, etc., should be available in all media to help him strengthen his areas of weakness. Down the line the library should be a resource for each blind person in his community. Someone is studying restaurant management. He should know the facts relating to wines and how to serve them--the library can supply these facts. He should know how to keep books--the library can help him here.

The blind home-maker belongs to a women's club and needs to read the books on the club's reading list. The library should be able to supply them on the desired time schedule. When she takes her turn giving the club program the library can give her books on the topic she has chosen, or provide suggestions for a topic. It can also give her books which will guide her in giving a good speech. When it is her turn to provide refreshments for the other ladies in the group, her library can send her cookbooks and any hints she may desire about proper procedures.

Historically, libraries are said to be the people's universities. A good library for the blind has an ideal opportunity to fill this function. Through telephone, personal, or letter conference all sorts of courses of study can be planned and through on-going communication they can be adhered to or deviated from as the readers desire. The library can provide bibliographies on virtually any subject. It can answer questions on practically any topic.

Agencies that simply select books supplied by the Library of Congress for borrowers and ship them to them are not libraries and are not filling a library function. What is more patronizing than for someone in a remote library office to decide the books the library patrons should read? Can I know what Mary Williams in Peru wants to read because I know she is forty-five years old and a high school graduate? Even if I have talked to her on the phone or had a few personal contacts with her, can I know? Just because she has filled in a form that says she wants to read romance, can I know whether she wants GONE WITH THE WIND, DAVID COPPERFIELD or COUPLES? Surely, it takes more time to send Mrs. Williams the exact books she has asked for, just when she wants them, but every library exists only to give service! If Mrs. Williams has no way of preparing a list we can phone her and discuss books, or send a volunteer or paid staff member so that she can get the books she wants, when she wants them.

Fewer than half the people eligible for services from the libraries for the blind use them. Why? Some people simply don't want to read and they have every right not to, but there are undoubtedly people who simply don't use the services because they find nothing they want. Maybe their wants are "way out"--science fiction, the Greek classics, THE SENSUOUS WOMAN, THE SENSUOUS MAN. But the libraries should have the "way out" books and be in a position to serve well the borrowers they may have as well as those already registered.

The talk among the people of the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is that a library for the blind cannot have a balanced collection because books in their media cannot be expected to last more than five years. This is partly because they believe books will be worn out in this time (that is, blind people cannot be expected to be careful of them so that they will last), it is also because the libraries are generally counseled to simply send books out to borrowers, not to register which books go out to which borrowers--that is, not to check them out and to check them in according to regular library procedure. The implication is clear that blind people cannot be expected to behave as regular responsible citizens. Since the Division operates on the premise that the books cannot last more than five years, it sends some of their three million dollars of our tax money down the tubes each year to reproduce some books that should still be in good condition in each library. For example, we have a fine collection of recorded Christmas stories which are read moderately at Christmas time only. They should surely be in the collection but inevitably they sit on the shelf except at Christmas time and our six copies are complete and in excellent condition. But the Division issued this book again and this means one more new book we can't have. Similarly in Braille we have pristine copies of DuJardin's DOUBLE DATE which goes out now and again, but is never on reserve-along come new copies we neither want nor need, and we have to hand Braille WAR AND PEACE!

I could go on and on. The Division by itself can by no means make a regional library a good one. It might almost be said that a library for the blind can be good only in spite of the Division.

To summarize: An agency that simply selects books supplied by the Library of Congress and sends them to borrowers is not truly a library. A library for the blind should supply present borrowers and potential borrowers the books and information they want when they want them. To do this the library should avail itself of all possible national and international resources for Braille, large type and recorded material. It should have an ample core of volunteers with high standards to produce needed material. Above all, a good library for the blind must demonstrate that it exists only to give service.

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by June McManus

[Editor's Note: This writeup is about the youngest member of the Oregon Federation. It is reprinted by permission of The Observer, Le Grande, Oregon, where it appeared under the heading "Blindness Overtakes Teresa Voetberg."]

Born blind, then enough sight to read and write, then blind again. So it happened to this lovely high school girl, Teresa Voetberg, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Voetberg of Route 2, La Grande.

Nearly run down by cars twice because someone didn't recognize that a white cane means "blind" Teresa says, "just treat me like anyone else. I can do anything anyone else can do if you will just give me a chance."

First place winner in the annual Ability Counts writing contest, sponsored by the Governor's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, Teresa attended the annual meeting of the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped in April with her mother in Washington D.C. Expenses of the trip were paid for by the Oregon AFL-CIO. Her winning report is automatically entered in the national contest where she is eligible for other cash prizes.

Teresa was born blind but her eyesight improved so that she could see light and dark and read regular print. From the eighth to the ninth grade vision started failing.

She could see large type, but in her junior year she has had to resort to using a magnifying glass and for the past two years could read only large type. But the last half of the year she lost her sight completely. She has been studying Braille, can read through grade two now and soon hopes to be able to read some books.

It was a painful time when she realized that her sight would not improve through prayers or science. The loving understanding of her advisors, her teachers, and her family and friends made it possible for her to face the harsh reality of life without the vision she had barely won.

Teresa would like to go into social work. She will use her $300 scholarship she won in the Ability Counts Writing Contest to attend college. She is considering Eastern Oregon College or Oregon College of Education at Monmouth.

"If people would only realize that handicapped people are normal people and want to lead normal lives. I would love to have people speak to me on the street so I could be aware of people passing. It would be great," Teresa said.

"I'm an average doer around the house and have two sisters, one older and one younger than myself. Karen is nineteen and in college at Eastern Oregon, Martha is sixteen and in high school. I like to hike, play the piano, arrange and compose music. I am terribly involved in the rehabilitation program and ecology and want to do all I can," she said.

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by Perry Sundquist

[The following paper was presented at the 1971 National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, held in Houston, Texas.]

Section 1002 (a) (4) of title X of the Social Security Act states as one of the requirements on all States that they must provide for granting an opportunity for a fair hearing before the State agency to any individual whose claim for aid to the blind is denied or is not acted upon with reasonable promptness. Perhaps nowhere in the long history of governmental administrative procedures has any requirement been refined as an instrument to protect the blind recipient as has this concept of the fair hearing. Let us review briefly the Federal requirements surrounding this right to a fair hearing.

The State agency shall determine whether the issue is one of fact or judgment or of State agency policy; that assistance will continue until such determination is made; and--where the issue is one of fact or judgment--until a fair hearing decision is reached. A minimum advance period of fifteen days is required to be given to the recipient before action is taken regardless of the nature of the issue. The State has the option of continuing assistance regardless of the nature of the issue, and even if the request for a hearing is made after expiration of the advance notice period.

Every claimant must be informed in writing at the time of application and at the time of any action affecting his claim of his right to a fair hearing; of the method by which he may obtain a hearing; that he may be represented by legal counsel, or by a relative, friend, or other spokesman or he may represent himself; and of any provision for payment of legal fees by the agency.

An opportunity for a fair hearing before the State agency will be granted to any individual requesting a hearing because his claim for financial or medical assistance is denied, or is not acted upon with reasonable promptness, or because he is aggrieved by any other agency action affecting receipt, suspension, reduction, or termination of such assistance or by agency policy as it affects his situation. Under this requirement a request for a hearing is defined as any clear expression (oral or written) by the claimant (or person acting for him, such as his legal representative, relative or friend) to the effect that he wants the opportunity to present his case to higher authority. The freedom to make such a request must not be limited or interfered with in any way, and agency emphasis must be on helping the claimant to submit and process his request and in preparing his case, if needed. The claimant must be provided reasonable time in which to appeal an agency action. The fair hearing shall include consideration of any agency action, or failure to act with reasonable promptness, on a claim for financial or medical assistance which includes undue delay in reaching a decision on eligibility or in making a payment, refusal to consider a request for or undue delay in making an adjustment in payment, and suspension or discontinuance of such assistance in whole or in part. The agency is responsible for explaining the reasonableness of the law and the reasonableness and equitableness of the policies promulgated under the law, if the claimant is aggrieved by their application to his situation.

Hearing procedures will be issued and publicized by the State agency for the guidance of all concerned. In cases of any proposed action to terminate, suspend or reduce assistance, the State or local agency will give timely and adequate advance notice detailing the reasons for the proposed action. Under this requirement "timely" means that the notice is mailed at least fifteen days before the action is to be taken. "Adequate advance notice" means a written notice that includes details of reasons for the proposed agency action, explanation of the individual's right to conference, his right to request a fair hearing, and the circumstances under which assistance is continued if a fair hearing is requested. If, within the advance notice period, the individual responds by indicating his wish for an agency conference, an opportunity is provided for the recipient (or his representative) to discuss his situation with agency staff, obtain an explanation of the reasons for the proposed action, and present information to show that the proposed action is incorrect. Under this requirement the recipient is given the opportunity to speak for himself or be represented by legal counsel or by a friend or other spokesman. The opportunity for a conference does not in any way diminish the recipient's right to a fair hearing.

In cases in which there is a request for a fair hearing within the advance notice period, assistance is continued until the fair hearing decision is rendered and through a period consistent with the State's established policies for issuance of payments, unless determination is made by the State agency that the issue is one of State agency policy and not one of fact or judgment relating to the individual case, including a question of whether the State agency rules or policies were correctly applied to the facts of the particular case. The agency will promptly inform the claimant in writing if assistance will be discontinued, based on the State agency's determination. Alternatively, the State may provide for continuing assistance in all cases.

In cases in which a fair hearing is requested after expiration of the advance notice period, the State may provide for an additional period during which time the request for a hearing will result in reinstatement of assistance to be continued until the fair hearing decision. Information and referral services are provided to help claimants make use of any legal services available in the community that can provide legal representation at the healing.

The hearing will be conducted at a time, date, and place convenient to the claimant, and adequate preliminary written notice will be given. The hearing will be conducted by an impartial official of the State agency. Under this requirement, the hearing officer must not have been involved in any way with the action in question. When the hearing involves medical issues such as those concerning a diagnosis, or an examining physician's report, or the medical review team's decision, a medical assessment other than that of the person involved in making the original decision will be obtained at agency expense from a source satisfactory to the claimant and made part of the record if the hearing officer or the appellant considers it necessary. The claimant or his representative will have adequate opportunity to examine all documents and records used at the hearing at a reasonable time before the date of the hearing as well as during the hearing. At the claimant's option he may present his case himself or with the aid of others; to bring witnesses; to establish all pertinent facts and circumstances; to advance any arguments without undue interference; to question or refute any testimony or evidence, including opportunity to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses.

Prompt, definitive, and final administrative action will be taken within sixty days from the date of the request for a fair hearing except where the claimant requests a delay in the hearing. The claimant will be notified of the decision, in writing, in the name of the State agency and, to the extent it is available to him, of his right to judicial review.

And now, let us review those policy standards or aspects of eligibility for Aid to the Blind which can be the subject of a dispute between the blind person and the State public assistance agency.

Exempt income--eighty-five dollars a month of net earned income plus one-half in excess of eighty-five dollars. Four dollars of any income, including Social Security payments and, optional with the States, up to an additional seven dollars and fifty cents a month of income from any source.

Degree of blindness--20/200 visual acuity or less in the better eye, with the best possible correcting glass, or a field of vision limited to not more than twenty degrees.

Real and personal property limitations--these vary widely from State to State.

Residence--no period of durational residence can be imposed by order of the U.S. Supreme Court. Residence is usually determined by the union of act and intent.

Processing of applications for aid promptly--if eligible, not more than thirty days can elapse between the date of application and the date the check is mailed.

Liens and recoveries--varies according to the individual laws in each State.

Amount of the grant of assistance--varies from State to State according to their individual standards of assistance.

Discontinuances and reductions in aid--at least fifteen days notice must be given.

Social services--optional with the States, but practically all provide them.

Contributions from responsible relatives--varies from State to State.

Confidentiality of records--the use of information concerning applicants and recipients is limited to purposes directly connected with the administration of the program. Publication of the names of recipients is prohibited.

In conclusion let me say that even though ample safeguards surrounding the concept of a fair hearing in public assistance are clearly spelled out in Federal requirements binding on all of the States, it is true that no administrative procedures are any better than their enforcement-and the only sure way to guarantee full compliance is through the alert, aggressive, and knowledgeable attention and action of the organized blind movement, acting in behalf of individual blind persons who feel that they have been aggrieved by any action or inaction of the public assistance agency. To achieve this, we earnestly recommend that every State affiliate establish an active Social Welfare Committee, as well as having its counterpart in the larger chapters.

It is estimated that during calendar year 1970 more than 50,000 requests for fair hearings were filed in the U.S. Yet, when one considers that there are are 13.5 million recipients of public assistance, this is a small percentage.

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[Reprinted from The Towers, publication of The Overbrook School for the Blind, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mae Davidow is President of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind and is also a member of the Executive Committee of the National Federation of the Blind. We all wish for Mae a great many years of happy retirement from her school chores, though she will be even busier with her organizational activities.]

It's not goodbye.

Just a change of scene, from a school classroom to a world classroom of helping prepare the blind for satisfying lives in the sighted world.

Mae Davidow is not leaving Overbrook, really.

Wherever she goes, some of Overbrook will go, too.

She came to Overbrook at the age of ten years and graduated as valedictorian of her class. She then entered the New Jersey College for Women (now Douglass College) from which she was graduated in 1935, and that same year returned to Overbrook as teacher, receptionist and switchboard operator.

In 1945 she became a full-time teacher and enrolled in the graduate school at Temple University to work toward a Master's Degree. This she received in 1949, and in 1960 was one of the few blind women in the United States to be awarded a Doctorate.

While she gave teaching top priority through these years, Mae was constantly involved with other things: rehabilitation for blind veterans; writing books about the abacus for teaching math; acquainting teachers with its effectiveness; starting her manual on guides for daily living skills; curriculum revisions; summer workshops for teachers; summer teaching stints in colleges and universities; and volunteer work in a long list of organizations and agencies benefiting the blind which led to her election as first woman president of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind in 1969.

A month ago she wrote briefly of future plans m her letter of resignation to Mr. Olson and Overbrook's Board of Managers: How, as Federation President, she hopes to: (1) Foster self-help programs, and encourage the best possible adjustment to blindness; (2) Strive for improved educational and employment opportunities and more satisfying ways for the blind to live in the sighted world; (3) Enlighten Society, collectively and individually, how to relate to blind individuals and to understand their need to live self-reliantly; (4) and. Work toward a liaison with private and governmental agencies for the blind, to help improve the social and economic status of the blind.

Any one of these objectives could involve a lifetime.

But not for Mae Davidow! She's set her sights--she'll accomplish them, and there will be more! For instance, next year she plans to complete the second edition of her book, THE ABACUS MADE EASY; and will finish a Guide for Social Competencies which she has been working on, in cooperation with Mary K. Bauman of the Overbrook staff.

Overbrook School, its staff, faculty, and students are proud to have been a part of her distinguished career.

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by James Omvig

On the weekend of May 28th through 30th the Roosevelt Motor Hotel in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was the scene of the largest and finest convention ever held by the organized blind of Iowa. Enthusiasm, cordiality, and unity of purpose were everywhere present.

Although taken out of chronological order, the first thing which should be discussed is a constitutional amendment. For some time, there has been considerable discussion as to whether we should change our name from the Iowa Association of the Blind to the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa. At the Friday night board meeting, it was decided to bring the question up before the convention at the Saturday meeting. The question was raised in the form of a proposed amendment, and ultimately the amendment passed unanimously. This fact gives a real indication as to the kind of unity which our organization now enjoys. It was decided that our legal name will continue to be Iowa Association of the Blind. However, henceforth, we will do business under the trade name of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa.

Our weekend's activities got under way on Friday evening, with the board meeting previously discussed, registration, and plenty of hospitality. The host affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Association of the Blind, did an excellent job in planning and running the Hospitality Room.

The first major item on the Saturday morning's agenda, after the preliminaries were completed, was a report on chapter affiliations. Two new chapters applied for and were ultimately accepted into membership. They are the Golden Star Association of the Blind of the Iowa Falls area, and the Black Hawk Association of the Blind of Waterloo. New affiliates, we welcome you.

A little later, Mr. Ray Halverson, Chairman of Publicity, reported that again this year, we will be making spot radio announcements concerning blindness, blind people, and the Federation. He also reported that the White Cane Proclamation, signed by Governor Robert D. Ray last fall, received wide distribution. He pointed out that copies of the proclamation, together with pictures of Governor Ray presenting it to State President Sylvester Nemmers, were sent to newspapers throughout the State. In addition, copies of the proclamation, together with tape recordings of the Governor reading it, were sent to radio and television stations throughout the State. Reports indicate that the proclamation received wide exposure.

The highlight of the Saturday morning session was the NFB Report, which was given by our national President, Mr. Kenneth Jernigan. Mr. Jernigan first reported on the continuing growth of the Federation throughout the country. He then discussed some of the many battles in which the Federation is involved in our continuing effort to secure and protect the rights of blind Americans. He pointed out how important it is for blind persons all throughout the country to join in the organized blind movement and to really become active in it.

The morning session was concluded with a speech by Mr. Robert L. Walton, Des Moines area manager of the United States Civil Service System. He spoke on "Employment Opportunities in the Federal Service." He pointed out that those opportunities are growing rapidly and are now much broader than they were only a few years ago. Mr. Walton indicated a real awareness that the coordinator system, which was set up to help find suitable employment for disabled persons, has not been as effective as it might be. He indicated that efforts are going forward to make the system truly effective. Perhaps the most important news which Mr. Walton had to give to blind persons was his announcement that a blind person who wishes to take the Federal Civil Service Exam can now use his own reader. In the past, a blind individual had to use whatever reader was provided to him. This development is very recent, and it is a point for which the Federation has been fighting for many years.

The afternoon session began with a legislative report which was presented by Mr. Don Morris, chairman, John Taylor, and State president Sylvester Nemmers. Three important items were discussed. First, two years ago, through the vigorous efforts of the Iowa Association of the Blind and the Iowa Commission for the Blind, a presumed minimum need of one hundred forty dollars per month was established by law for Aid to the Blind recipients in this State. This year, there was a move in the Iowa Legislature to abolish the presumed minimum need and to lower Aid to the Blind substantially so that it would be more in line with grants to the other adult aid categories. Immediately upon learning of this attempted backward move. Commission Director Jernigan and NFB of Iowa president Nemmers, began making contacts in an effort to block the proposed legislation. Best estimates are that if the legislation had gone through, approximately $350,000 would have been taken from the pockets of blind Iowans. Ultimately, Mr. Jernigan, Mr. Nemmers, and others appeared before a joint Senate-House Sub-Committee on Finance. A few days later, when the committee vote came up, several other blind persons were present. The committee voted to reject the proposed change in the law and to continue the Aid to the Blind program as it now stands. (Shortly after the convention, the legislature appropriated sufficient money to continue the Aid to the Blind program as it now exists.)

The other two pieces of legislation dealt specifically with the Commission for the Blind. First, this year there has been a move in the State Legislature to set up a Central Purchasing Agency, through which all State purchases would be made. Readers can readily see the tremendous problems which this would present for a rehabilitation agency which is continually striving to provide unique and prompt service. Accordingly, again the Commission and the Federation joined forces in an effort to have the Commission excluded from the coverage of the new law. (Shortly after the convention, the legislature passed the Central Purchasing Bill. Only the Commission for the Blind and two other State agencies were excluded from its coverage.)

The Commission's budget was our third major effort. It was discussed, but we had no final word at the time of convention. (Shortly after the convention, the Commission's budget was approved as recommended by the Governor. The amount appropriated was only slightly less than that originally requested by the Commission. In this respect the Commission fared far better than most State agencies.)

The next item was an excellent presentation concerning Iowa's Aid to the Blind program--rules, standards, and procedures--delivered by Mr. Dover Donnelly, Chief, Division of Income Maintenance, State Department of Social Services. Mr. Donnelly was the logical one to make such a presentation, since he is the individual who wrote the manual which contains the Aid to the Blind rules and regulations.

A major item on the afternoon program was the Commission report. First, Mr. Jernigan made general remarks. Then, Mrs. Florence Grannis, Assistant Director in Charge of Library and Social Services, Mr. John Taylor, Assistant Director in Charge of Field Operations, and Mr. Manuel Urena, Assistant Director in Charge of Orientation, gave reports on their particular areas of responsibility. The programming for the blind in this State continues to grow and improve. The library is now larger than ever. More blind Iowans were rehabilitated last year than in any previous year.

There is no doubt in the mind of any individual who attended the convention as to which session was the highlight. It was our Saturday evening banquet, which was attended by some two hundred seventy-five persons. The main address of the evening was delivered by Mr. Allen Jenkins, Director of the California Orientation Center for the Blind. Mr. Jenkins, who mixes subtle humor with deadly seriousness, did an outstanding job in presenting the history of the social movement of blind persons from Medieval times to the present. He pointed out that our real hope for continued improvement and success is through the organized blind movement.

Then came award time. The Palmer Memorial Award, which is presented annually to a most deserving graduate of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, was presented by Mr. Howard Winter to Miss Patricia McPhail. The Dr. H. F. Schluntz College Student's Award, which goes annually to the most deserving college graduate, was presented by NFB of Iowa treasurer, H. E. (Bud) Stutters, to Miss Shirley Lansing of Mason City. Those who have any knowledge of the organized blind movement in Iowa are aware that, in addition to earning fine marks as a mathematics major at the University of Iowa, Shirley has served well as the State College Student Division president. Bulletin editor, and National Student Division officer. (Incidentally, a few days after the close of the convention, Shirley signed a contract to teach mathematics in the Urbandale Iowa School System.)

The presentation of the Altig Award, our highest award, was the basis for the most emotion-packed convention item. This award is given annually to the person who has done the most to improve the well-being of blind Iowans. Its recipient this year was Commission Director, Kenneth Jernigan.

In the past, we have perhaps been remiss. For several years now, the blind of Iowa have admired, respected and loved Mr. Jernigan. We have thanked him for the new opportunity he has helped to create for us. However, we have never done so formally. Rather, perhaps we have come to take him somewhat for granted, secure in the knowledge that he will continue fighting the good fight. This year, we decided the time had come for us to formalize our sincere thanks.

The presentation speech delivered by Mr. Neil Butler, immediate past president of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, is so appropriate and so right, that it bears repeating in full here:

"Tonight the Iowa Association of the Blind is again bestowing its highest Honor--the Altig Award--to that person who has promoted our cause in extraordinary ways. This award is bestowed each year to that individual who has especially worked with the blind of Iowa to achieve our true goals of equality, security, and opportunity. The first recipient in 1966 was Governor (and now Senator) Harold Hughes. Subsequent to that the recipients were Secretary of State, Melvin Synhorst; William Everline of the Associated Press; Mr. Otis Selindh, vice president of Northwestern Bell Telephone Company; and last year Mr. Warren Coleman, executive secretary-treasurer of the Iowa Lions Sight Conservation Foundation. This is a distinguished list of important people who have worked to promote our cause, and the Iowa Association of the Blind is truly honored by and deeply appreciative of their efforts.

"I know that these former recipients who have so richly deserved this award will not feel slighted if I say that no person has ever so merited the Altig Award as the person who receives it tonight. In fact, I believe it is true to say (as much as we all value the giving of the Altig Award) that this person can only give greater honor to the award itself by receiving it. The members of the Iowa Association of the Blind not only respect and revere this man, we deeply love him.

"Before we came to know him, many of us wandered haphazardly with notions of wrongs we endured, but with no definite plan to erase them. We often talked of our equality, but many of us suffered nagging doubts of it ourselves. He believed in himself and, therefore, in us. And that belief was infectious. We began to believe too--as did the rest of Iowa.

"It has been more than ten years ago now since this man began working with us. He brought to us a philosophy of blindness that made sense, that worked. His clear understanding of the social structure and his incisive statements about our place in it were together the focal point of our own attitudes about ourselves, our problems, our assets, and our future. With his ideas as a base, his belief as a goal, and his persistence as a prod, the Iowa Association of the Blind soon found itself launched as never before upon a positive plan of action. We were, so to speak, armed and massed on the field of positivism--not an exactly easy field, but the battle for achievement was at least well under way. A few of us perhaps felt safer in the oddly secure back waters of mere existence, but most of us saw a day of dignity about to dawn. A few setbacks came, but mostly there were victories. And soon we knew, as he always did, that the final victory was inevitable.

"I remember him in our early days of the Association's new push toward equality sitting with me at lunch at a rickety card table in the building then recently purchased to be our long awaited training enter. There were almost more jackhammers than students in those days, and the hamburgers were often seasoned heavily with plaster dust. But this man did not see even then the ripped out walls, the multitude of inconveniences, or any of the daily problems--such as a $100,000 fire that would have closed most buildings. He talked instead of the progress being made, the jobs we could have, the productive lives we could lead--in short, about a glorious future. And as I said, his talk was infectious, and suddenly we all began to lead the kind of life he told us was possible.

"We achieved jobs and positions, organizational direction, legislative stature with success in voting laws, better training facilities, welfare reform, our own huge library and our Bill of Rights--The White Cane Law. This array alone is so impressive and wide sweeping that--on reflection--one tends to forget what we had (or didn't have) only a little more than a decade ago.

"This man alone did not bring us this success but we all know how much he has done to help us achieve it. What is more important, does anyone doubt where we would have been today without him! Would we have so dreamed, would we have worked at so many jobs, would we have had the spark that fires our lives? We all know that we would not.

"The Iowa Association of the Blind this year for the first time is giving the Altig Award to one of its own members, and it does so after great reflection. We must be careful about giving the award to one of our own, for blind people ought to help themselves and their cause as a duty. This man's labors, however, surpass what any of us (regardless of what definition we use) could attribute to the call of duty. In many ways, he symbolizes our achievements of yesterday and today and our dreams of tomorrow. And what is our legacy from this man? It is more than the massive accomplishments already gained. It is that we can never return to our former state of unfocused, half formed hope and often dependent despair. It no longer matters how great our victories or how frequent our defeats, for our hope has a goal which we know to be reachable and our spirit has a fire which is unquenchable. If we had this hope and this spirit before knowing him, it was ill defined and usually directionless but that hope and that spirit are an indestructible part of us now, and no one can ever take them away. Whatever our former state, we will as an organization and as individuals forever hold ourselves honestly straight and equal to all.

"What does one say to a man who has this--a man whom all of you know by now as that one person who has brought us our true belief, our faith in ourselves, our path to destiny. The Iowa Association of the Blind gives gratefully the 1971 Altig Award as a visible sign of its thanks and devotion. What we cannot display by plaque or paper is the love and honor we have for this man. I hope that this 1971 Altig Award will be for him a visible sign that we have joined him on the barricades. Ladies and gentlemen, the recipient is Mr. Kenneth Jernigan."

Mr. Jernigan was presented with a rare, antique chiming pocket watch as a concrete and lasting symbol of our appreciation.

The first major item on Sunday morning's agenda involved a discussion of the word "blind." Mrs. Kim Peterson, Library Assistant of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, made the presentation. In two recent issues of Talking Book Topics, the publication of the Library of Congress, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the question has been raised as to whether the word "blind" should be eliminated from the title of the Division. A reader has apparently suggested that the word "sightless" should be substituted since she feels that the word "blind" is blunt and ugly. Mrs. Peterson read several articles and letters on the subject. We ultimately took the position that it would be folly to eliminate the word "blind" from the title, for that is what we are. We believe that rather, we must continue to work hard to change the public attitudes concerning blindness to the end that it becomes completely respectable to be blind.

The morning session was concluded with a discussion of the education of blind children in public schools. Miss Mary Medema and Mrs. Curtis Willoughby, both resource teachers, appeared on a panel together with Mr. James Gashel.

The next item on the agenda was the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School's progress report. Superintendent Rocco was invited to speak to the convention, but he indicated that he was unable to attend. As his official representative, he sent Mr. Joe Klosterman, a long-time teacher at Vinton. Mr. Klosterman discussed proposed changes and new programs at the school.

An interesting part of every convention in recent years has been a panel on new employment opportunities for the blind. This year was no exception. Mr. John Taylor moderated the panel. Appearing with him were Mr. Gary Patterson, a newly employed computer programmer; Mr. Dick Glaza, the manager of a toy store; and Mr. Don Morris, a communications consultant who is presently establishing his own business.

Several other important items rounded out the convention. Miss Mary Keener reported upon her continuing struggle with the Federal Communications Commission. Iowa Federation's Credit Union continues to grow. We now have assets in the neighborhood of $72,000 and currently have some two hundred members. A motion was passed which directs President Nemmers to write letters of commendation to the Department of Adult Education of the Des Moines Public School System and the Commission for the Blind, thanking them for their recent experiment with a radio talking book service, and urging them to continue this service on a permanent and statewide basis.

All in all, the convention was a tremendous success. The deep sense of purpose of our membership has never been greater. Then, too, our Federation continues to grow. Near the end of the convention, it was reported that our membership now exceeds six hundred sixty, and we are still growing. As we continue to grow and to work vigorously, we continue to move toward our goal of equality, opportunity, and security for every blind Iowan, and for blind persons everywhere.

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The members attending the re-organizational meeting for the National Federation of the Blind of Rhode Island, last December, wisely chose as their first president, Kenneth Brackett. The meeting was conducted by Mr. John Taylor, after a week of recruiting and arrangements made by Mrs. Mary Ellen Anderson. The re-organization was deemed necessary because attempts to revitalize the prior affiliate, the Rhode Island Council, failed primarily because of its remote geographic location in relation to the main body of the State. Ken Brackett had been the vice president of the Rhode Island Council and was the logical choice for president of the new organization.

Ken was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1919, and has been legally blind since childhood. Growing up in an era when there were but two alternatives open for his education-institutionalized, or attending public school, which had no provisions for visually handicapped children, his parents chose to have him attend public school. Despite his handicap, lack of visual aids, special instruction, hnd the competition of sighted children. Ken completed his education and found employment in the textile industry. He has been continuously employed by several large firms since the 1930's, including his present job with Decorator Fabrics Inc., which he has held for eight years. The complete fulfillment of his life was marriage to his wife Grace, and the birth of son Bill, and daughter Susan. He became involved in the blind movement in 1941, when he joined the Rhode Island Federation of the Blind and soon rose to the position of president. The increased pressure of raising a young family necessitated his retirement temporarily in 1955. When the Rhode Island Federation was beset with financial difficulties in the '60's, it was dissolved and the affiliation was assumed by the Rhode Island Council of the Blind, Ken then joined this organization. He was subsequently elected vice president of the Rhode Island Council--the position he held until elected president of the new organization. Besides his full-time employment, Ken is deeply involved with the missionary work in his church, totally dedicated to the National Federation of the Blind and, for relaxation, enjoys working in his garden. He lays claim to having a green thumb, and if the growth of the NFB of Rhode Island is an example of his ability to make things grow, we are inclined to agree.

The first order of business confronting Ken upon assuming the presidency was to promote the passage of the Model White Cane Law in Rhode Island. With his persistence, persuasion, and hard work the bill was introduced into this session of the General Assembly. It was subsequently passed by the Senate on March 25, by the House of Representatives on April 30, and signed into law by Governor Licht on May 5. I dare say this is a remarkable achievement for a new president of a new affiliate in so short a period of time. The next concern was the growth of the organization. To this end, Ken persuaded Mr. D'Andrea, Administrator of State Services for the Blind, to mail a copy of a brochure and applications prepared by the NFB of Rhode Island to all the clients on his register. Applications for membership are still coming in, and the number is expected to increase substantially. Mr. D'Andrea was invited to speak to our group, which he did at our April meeting. He expressed a desire to work with our organization for the betterment of all the blind in the State, and to make himself and his service available to us in the future.

Ken is an able administrator, who conducts the meetings efficiently and delegates authority effectively. He is presently making arrangements for our State convention in October.

This is Kenneth Brackett, a man who understands the problems and difficulties of the blind through his own experience and his long association with the National Federation of the Blind; a man whose positive thinking and decisive action are dedicated to improving the welfare of the blind through a united movement by the blind; a man who will continue to work to attain the aims and goals of the National Federation of the Blind of Rhode Island for many years to come.

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by John Taylor

[Editor's Note: This paper was presented at the NFB Convention in Houston, Texas. It covered basic eligibility factors, reconsideration of decisions, fair hearings, and judicial review. In introducing Mr. Taylor, President Jernigan said, in part, "Mr. Taylor is one of the most knowledgeable people I know in the field of Federal law and regulations on social programs. Very often when I want to know if a thing is or is not according to Federal regulations in rehabilitation or social security or public welfare I go to him and ask him. Sometimes indeed he doesn't know and sometimes indeed he tells me that I presume too much on his knowledge. I think he's wrong in those instances. I rarely do that with him. He is knowledgeable m this area and therefore when you have questions around the Convention concerning especially social security and rehabilitation regulations and legislation, you can do no better than to go to him to ask him. He, of course, is a valuable worker in the NFB and a valuable worker for us at the Iowa Commission for the Blind."]

Thank you Mr. President and fellow Federationists. In 1935 when this nation was in the throes of its most catastrophic depression, Congress passed and President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act. The adoption of this Act marked a milestone in this nation for the development of social legislation. The Act was designed to meet a variety of needs. Among them it was designed to meet some of the catastrophic economic problems which had been forced upon members of our society who had experienced the change from an agrarian to an industrialized nation. The Social Security Act is not today as it was in 1935. It has been an evolving program. It has undergone many, many changes. It is fair to say that this organization has played a major role in the development of the Social Security Act and in the adoption of the changes which have occurred to improve it. It is fair to say as well that we're not finished with that process. The Social Security Act is divided into a number of titles and perhaps it may be helpful to understand the Act itself if we review briefly what those titles are and what kind of programs they cover.

There are four public assistance titles: I, Old Age Assistance; title IV, Aid to Families with Dependent Children; title X, Aid to the Blind; title XW, Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled; title XVI, which IS the well-known scrambling title in which you put everybody in the same basket, treat everybody alike, irrespective of whether their needs are similar or different; and title XIX is the Medical Assistance Program made available to individuals who are receiving income from one of the public assistance titles and in some States to persons who do not qualify for assistance but do qualify for medical assistance.

Now, to back up a bit, title II of the Social Security Act is that title which provides old age survivors and disability insurance benefits. That is the title to which your payroll contributions from employment go. That is the title that affects far and away the largest number of persons in the United States. That title is long and varied. It has a number of complexities. Now title XVIII is related to title II. Title XVIII is the title under which the Medicare program operates. It provides medical services to persons who are eligible for retirement benefits under the Social Security Act and that is to persons who are sixty-five years of age and older and who have worked to some extent, in Social Security-covered employment.

This afternoon let us address ourselves particularly to the provisions of title II of the Social Security Act which have to do with the payment of disability benefits to blind persons and to dependents of blind persons. We must think of this in terms of two areas: first, the disability freeze and, second, disability cash monthly benefits. Some blind persons may qualify for the disability freeze without being able to qualify for disability benefits. No person can qualify for disability benefits without qualifying for the disability freeze automatically. In some instances disability benefits may be terminated after having originally been established but the disability freeze may continue for a relatively indefinite period of time. The application procedure for disability benefits and for disability freeze is the same, and the forms are the same. When a person applies for disability benefits he fills out the necessary applications at the social security office, and authorizes the Social Security Administration to secure appropriate medical data to establish that the individual is disabled. That material is then forwarded to what is called in each State a disability determination unit, and in the abbreviation parlance of Federalese, that's DDU. Generally speaking, the disability determination unit is located in the general vocational rehabilitation agency of the State, although there are a few exceptions to that locational scheme. The information which has been provided to the disability determination unit is evaluated in terms of what it indicates medically, in terms of what the vocational prospects of the individual may be, but primarily it is a medical evaluation. Now, if the person is determined eligible for benefits the DDU or the disability determination unit will send in a report with its determination to the Social Security Administration in Baltimore. That will then be normally reviewed, if a review is deemed appropriate by the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration. If benefits are allowed, the individual is automatically eligible for the disability freeze. This means that the period of time during which he is eligible for the freeze is blocked out completely in any future computation or recomputation of benefits, either disability benefits or retirement benefits. The law provides that whenever it will be advantageous to the interest of the disabled person for the freeze to be lifted it will be done automatically. As long as the person qualifies for the freeze it will remain in effect if that would be beneficial to the disabled person. There are instances when an individual, prior to becoming disabled, had very substantial earnings and coverage under the Social Security Act. Subsequent to his becoming disabled he still has earnings which may make him ineligible for disability benefits, but which nevertheless are low enough that his ultimate retirement record would be greater if this period of time is blocked out. Therefore the freeze would remain in effect even though disability benefits might be terminated.

Now, let us look at the requirements for disability benefits and the types of benefits. First of all there are three categories under which an individual might be eligible to receive disability benefits. If an individual became disabled prior to the attainment of age eighteen and if the wage earner--the father or mother--is either deceased, retired, or disabled and therefore is drawing benefits, or would have been able to draw benefits, then it is possible for the disabled child to draw benefits after the attainment of age eighteen for as long as he or she lives and remains under the disability, provided he or she doesn't marry. Now there's apparently an assumption that if one marries, one is not disabled under this provision of the law. You can figure that out for yourself.

Now the procedure in this instance is that the individual draws benefits from the disability trust fund based on the earnings record of the wage earner in that family rather than upon his own earnings record. Now, another area in which a person may be eligible to draw disability benefits is the case of a disabled widow sixty years of age or older. This is a benefit made available to widows but not widowers. Women's Lib, take note!

Now, the most important area about which there is the greatest concern, and where there is more likely to be a request for reconsideration for fair hearing or for judicial review, is in the Social Security Disability Benefits Program. If a wage earner who has worked in Social Security covered employment, becomes disabled within the meaning of that term in the Social Security Act, applies for disability benefits and has a determination made that he is eligible or is not, or receives disability benefits and subsequently has his benefits terminated, he may wash to have a review of that termination.

In the Social Security Act, as a result of the efforts of this organization, the standard definition of blindness is one part, but only one part, of the definition of disability; that is 20/200 in the better eye with best correction; or a limitation in the field of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than twenty degrees. Either of those definitions will qualify a person if the individual also meets the other qualifications. And it is these other qualifications with which we will need to deal in a substantial and understanding way.

No person can be determined to be under a disability under the Social Security Act until he or she has first met tire earnings requirement. Hence, a person who became blind prior to the time that he acquired his minimum coverage under the Social Security Act is not under a disability within the meaning of that definition in the Social Security Act. Second, the Social Security definition of disability is two-fold. It involves, as the Act states, the existence of a mental or physical impairment which is severe enough to prevent the individual from engaging in substantial gainful activity. This means that not only must the person in our case be blind, but he must, as a result of that blindness, be unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity. Generally speaking, the measure of substantial gainful activity is earning more than one hundred forty dollars per month. But there are some qualifications on that. For example, if an individual deliberately holds his earnings below one hundred forty dollars per month in order to continue his eligibility for disability benefits and that becomes known to the Social Security Administration, his holding earnings below that level is evidence which can be used to terminate benefits, since it was not his disability which held them below that level.

In order to meet the coverage requirement, a person must have worked for a minimum of six quarters in Social Security-covered employment. And that applies only to people who become disabled at a specific age.

An individual who becomes, in this case, blind, must have two quarters of coverage for each year that has lapsed since the attainment of his twenty-first birthday. Roughly then this means that a person twenty-three or twenty-four years of age can qualify for Social Security disability benefits if he has worked for a year and a half in Social Security-covered employment. But, as a person grows older, the minimum number of quarters of coverage will be two out of each year which has elapsed since the attainment of the twenty-first birthday up to twenty. Once a person has met the twenty quarters coverage requirement, then he is eligible for disability benefits provided the twenty quarters coverage occur within the forty quarter period preceding the onset of disability. Now we get a number of inquiries from people regarding this. Someone here at the Convention said to me "I've been blind for years, but I have just been notified that I could not qualify for disability benefits because I've had some coverage in the past year or so. Why do I have to wait six months, that is the statutory waiting period, since I've been blind for years?" Well the reason and the answer for that is this individual was not blind, was not under disability, within the meaning of the Social Security Act until she also met the coverage requirement.

Now, let's talk a bit about how this one hundred-forty-dollar per month definition of substantial gainful activity generally is interpreted. There are specific provisions which apply to a number of people. Those persons who are employed in sheltered employment may be able to earn more than one hundred forty dollars per month and still qualify for disability benefits if it can be determined that a part of the income which they received is a subsidy. Perhaps it is income to the workshop, a United Fund or from the State Legislature or from other sources. In any event, a person may earn two hundred and fifty dollars per month but may be able to get the workshop to say that a hundred ten dollars per month of that is subsidy, therefore the person can continue to qualify for disability benefits.

Or take, for example, vending stand operators. It is possible for a vending stand operator who has two hundred and fifty or three hundred dollars a month, in some circumstances to show that he also receives free space in a public building which, if he had to pay for that space-on its square footage-might be worth as much as a hundred and fifty dollars a month. For social security purposes, this can be deducted from the amount of actual earnings in order to bring the individual's income down below the one-hundred-forty-dollar per month definition of substantial gainful activity. There are other persons who are engaged in other types of occupations and professions where a similar principle can be involved. That is, if it can be shown that there is anything which would constitute a subsidy, then the individual might be able to qualify for continuance of his disability benefits even though his earnings might be substantially above one hundred forty dollars a month. This is a matter which can get rather complex and it's a matter on which, generally speaking, additional information must be collected and supplied either to the Social Security Administration or to the disability determination unit at the time it is making the determination of eligibility or is making what is called a redetermination which occurs periodically in the case of most persons receiving disability benefits whether or not they are aware of that redetermination.

Now, let us talk very briefly about what happens in the event an individual is dissatisfied with the determination in his case. If we assume that the individual has met the earnings requirement but fails to meet one of the other requirements in the Act for a favorable determination, the person has three steps through which he may need to go. The first step is an administrative review of the initial determination which will be done upon request of the individual. For that administrative review which is called reconsideration, in the Social Security Act, the individual may submit, or may have submitted on his behalf, any additional information which he feels or someone else feels may be pertinent to the fair consideration of his application for disability benefits. That decision is made by the Social Security Administration itself, and the individual will be notified of that decision and of his right to a fair hearing. In the event the decision involved in the reconsideration is still not satisfactory to the individual, and the individual wishes to have a fair hearing, he notifies the Social Security Administration on the form provided by the Administration or in a letter of the conditions under which he would like to have that hearing. Now, let me say at this stage that it is not necessary that an individual have a lawyer to handle his request for reconsideration nor for a fair hearing. He may represent himself; he may have a friend, associate, or colleague--a Federationist preferably--represent him in securing and presenting the information needed for a redetermination of his application and if this is a fair hearing. The fair hearing is not a judicial review. Generally speaking it operates in this manner. The applicant and any persons which he wishes to have present at the hearing will meet with a hearing officer of the Social Security Administration and with a stenotypist or someone who uses recording equipment. It may be that the hearing will involve only the applicant, the hearing officer, and a secretary, someone who makes notes and has the records available. This is an informal hearing. Normally the witness or witnesses are sworn, but one may stop the proceeding at any time he wishes, ask questions of the hearing officer, or otherwise request information which may be helpful to him or to anyone who is helping to represent him and more fairly and accurately and fully present the case of the applicant.

Once the fair hearing has been concluded and any additional evidence which the individual wishes to have considered presented, then the hearing officer makes the decision based on the record in the hearing. If the individual applicant when advised of that decision, is still dissatisfied with the decision, he may take that decision to the Federal District Court, and in that case he will need a lawyer, because that will be tried in accordance with the regular Federal Civil procedures in the Courts, and a lawyer is necessary or at least desirable.

Now, let me go back just a minute to talk a bit about the reconsideration and the fair hearing in another light. There are good and valid reasons why an individual ought to ask for a reconsideration if he has any reason to believe that the determination made in his case may not be a proper one. It doesn't cost him anything to ask for the reconsideration or for the fair hearing. It may cost him something if he goes for judicial review. The hearing officers who hear the case, when one asks for a fair hearing, are people who do not play any part in the determination of eligibility or ineligibility of Social Security applicants otherwise. They are full time hearing examiners, and hear only appeals from the decisions involved in the reconsideration.

Now, finally, we move along and say that the Social Security Act also provides for the payment of the cost of vocational rehabilitation services provided to selected Social Security disability beneficiaries. Under this program State rehabilitation agencies receive approximately two percent each year of the money paid out in Social Security disability benefits for the payment of the cost of rehabilitation services. And this results in a substantial increase in the funds made available to the State rehabilitation agencies to meet the cost of providing services. The State agency makes the determination of who will be selected for this program based on criteria established by Federal regulations. Generally speaking this is that the money saved by rehabilitating the person will be more than the cost of continuing to pay benefits for the rest of the person's life. There are no dollar limits on how much can be spent to pay for the cost of rehabilitation services in a given case, provided one can reasonably show this will result in a saving to the Social Security trust fund by helping the person become self-sustaining and eliminating the necessity for the continuance of disability benefits.

There is one other important provision, however. If Social Security trust fund money is to be used to pay for the cost of vocational rehabilitation services for a disability beneficiary, there may be no economic need standard applied in the provision of those services; except that Social Security trust fund money may not be used to pay maintenance for the individual unless it is necessary for the individual to reside away from his normal home and this residing away from home results in his incurring additional obligations or expenses. However, State rehabilitation agencies can pay maintenance to such a person out of what are called the regular Section 2 funds, that is non-Social Security trust fund money.

Now, if you have reason to believe, or you know someone who has reason to believe, that the cost of his services are being paid for from the trust fund, then it is important in those States which have economic need determinations, especially the stringent ones, to know that the person may well be entitled to substantially more in the way of benefits than are other clients of that rehabilitation agency.

Let me go back then to review very briefly and conclude. The Social Security Disability Benefit Program is an extremely important program to blind persons. If we can secure the adoption of our Disability Benefits for the Blind Bill, it will be even far more important. It is possible to qualify for disability benefits even though a person may not be blind, since the Act covers other types of disability as well. For most blind persons, however, the easiest and most advantageous way of qualifying for disability benefits is on the basis of blindness, if the individual is in fact blind. With respect to the disability freeze, although I have not done it, it is possible for me to apply for the disability freeze now, although I obviously am not eligible for disability benefits. One advantage which could accrue to me, and which may be of some concern to you, is that I worked in State employment for about five years--1950 to 1955--when I was not covered by Social Security. I was covered by a State retirement program. If I could apply and should apply and establish the onset of my disability, which I might be able to do because of some war-time employment, it is possible that I could establish the disability freeze and block out from my record entirely that five-year period which at the time of my retirement may have a very small effect on the level of my retirement benefits, or if I become disabled, on the level of my disability benefits.

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On May 22, 1971, a dream of a group of individuals was realized as plans, many months in the making culminated in the highly successful horse show held for the benefit of the White Cane Chapter, Ashland, Kentucky.

The idea began in 1970 from a discussion between Mrs. Theron L. Budesheim, and Mrs. Arthur S. Emmons, Jr., an active civic leader and avid horse show exhibitor. Plans were very shortly set in motion, leasing showgrounds, setting a show date, and appointing committees to carry through the necessary side-line functions that are necessitated when the public becomes involved.

When the Boyd County Horse Club was approached for a lease of the show grounds for this particular show, the members of this organization immediately not only set a specific show date, but volunteered all services needed on an individual basis to insure the success of the show.

Mr. and Mrs. Almon Dixon and their son, Almon Dixon, Jr. who is an exhibitor of the Walking Horse and the 1970 show chairman for the Club, volunteered their services and completely took over, supervised and successfully managed the concession stands, and thus contributed to the show one of the largest profits made in some while. (Even homemade white beans and homemade cornbread were available at this stand.)

Almon Dixon, Jr., acting show chairman, set up the program of classes, notified exhibitors from the whole of the tri-State region of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio, and fitted into place every intricate portion of each piece that brought forth the final picture.

Each class was sponsored by an area merchant which meant that these area merchants paid for all trophies and ribbons for each separate class, thus freeing all entry money for the classes as profit for the White Cane Chapter.

The culmination of the careful planning of many individuals came to a head as show time approached and trailer after trailer filled the show grounds with some of the most beautiful horses this part of the country had to offer. Money was not offered as a prize. These exhibitors came, knowing full well they would not receive any compensation for their time and trouble. They came, they showed in various classes, re-entering classes suitable for them, and, with one of the happiest spirits seen in a long time, exhibited to the many, many spectators who had come out on a very cool evening to contribute their part to the show, that those of the horse world are quite aware of the needs of others.

The ring announcer for the show was Edwin D. Rice, an attorney in the Ashland, Kentucky area, and a person regarded as one who is available for service where others might benefit. Arnold Nethercutt, a much-sought-after and highly respected judge in the area, cancelled other bookings to serve as judge for the show, donating a good portion of his expense reimbursement to the organization.

Mrs. Carl Stephens of the Stephens Stables of Grayson, Kentucky served as ringmistress and Mrs. Theron L. Budesheim, aided by her husband, gave out the trophies and ribbons to the winners in each class.

As a result, many items needed by the White Cane Chapter but otherwise lacking because of needed revenue, will be met. Another show is being planned for 1972, which should contribute even more to a most worthy organization.

The members of the Boyd County Horse Club, the area merchants who financially assisted the show, and the exhibitors who traveled long distances to attend the show, wish to thank the White Cane Chapter for so ably helping us to see the true meaning behind the words spoken over 1900 years ago when the greatest Teacher of all times taught, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

It will be considered a privilege for those who took part in this successful show to expend their efforts in forthcoming years to stretch out a helping hand to a group of people who have taught to many of us that out of a world of darkness shines the brightest of light--that of brotherhood where each man can stand as a brother to another.

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[Editor's Note: Following is the testimony offered in behalf of the National Federation of the Blind by John F. Nagle, Chief of the NFB's Washington Office, before the Special Subcommittee on Education of the House of Representatives.]

Madame Chairman, the National Federation of the Blind is appearing here, today, to offer an amendment to the Higher Education Act to require that blind or other severely visually impaired applicants for admission to college or university study be judged on their individual merits, to prohibit their exclusion from any course or curriculum by reason only that they are blind or severely visually impaired.

Provided with a sound and sensible understanding, not only of the restrictions of his disability, but of the possibilities of achievement still available to him in spite of his disability; provided with adequate training in the skills that have been devised to substantially reduce or even entirely eliminate the limitations of his disability; and along with this most necessary and basic preparation, provided with the same opportunity for general education offered to others, followed by further education in a specialized field of interest and aptitude; provided with all this, Madame Chairman, the blind person, today, is equipped to live a successful, constructive, and self-dependent life.

Denied all this, or any of this, Madame Chairman, denied a sound and sensible understanding of his impairment, its restrictions and limitations, the problems and perplexities it imposes upon him, the limitless possibilities of achievement still open to him; denied this restored belief in himself, this philosophic orientation, the blind person will stagnate and smother beneath the fallacies and fictions of the past--and of the present--and he will become as helpless and as hopeless as he believes he is.

Untrained in the techniques of independent travel--the blind person is chained for life to a chair or to the arm of his sighted family and friends. Untrained in the competent use of Braille--the blind person is illiterate, and cannot even record a telephone number or write down a street address. Denied the chance to share in the educational opportunities afforded to others--the blind person remains ignorant of the wisdom and the knowledge and the experience of the ages, his intellect is untapped, his abilities and talents undeveloped, his possibilities of securing gainful and challenging employment, of living a worthwhile life, are unrealized and unrealizable.

Today, Madame Chairman, properly trained and equipped, wisely and well-prepared, the blind person has a more nearly equal chance to function fully and productively in our society. But even today, Madame Chairman, improperly trained, inadequately equipped, poorly or unwisely prepared, or not trained or equipped or prepared at all the blind person is a non-participating spectator of life, a witness to the activities and accomplishments of others, just as he was five hundred years ago.

Today, by the incontestable evidence of doing, by the conclusive proof of performance, blind men and women are demonstrating that a person without sight can function successfully in a sight-directed society, can compete successfully in a sight-geared economy. Madame chairman, blind persons, today, are functioning in every imaginable employment, in the common callings and occupations, in the ancient and die new professions, as self-employed persons in a great diversity of business and profitable endeavors.

Yet, Madame Chairman, far too often, when a blind person applies to a college or university to undertake a particular course of study, he is refused admission because he is blind.

Knowing little or nothing about the demonstrated competencies of blind persons; totally uninformed on the skills and techniques of blindness; deliberately ignoring the offered record of the personal triumphs of the individual blind applicant, admission officials of colleges and universities far too often refuse entry to their institutions to the blind applicant.

And these refusals are couched in differing forms:

The authoritative--"You couldn't possibly manage to do the work!"

The benevolent--"It's best for you not to try, it would be too much for you!"

The practical--"After you obtained your education, no one would hire you!"

What rash presumption for a person abysmally uninformed on matters concerned with blindness and the established history of the accomplishments of blind people, or of the determination or abilities of a particular blind person, to assert an authoritative knowledge he does not possess.

And what of the college admissions official who hides personal fear and professional doubt behind a false facade of kindliness, who would protect the misguided blind person from his own folly, who would shield the blind person from his mistaken belief that he can gain a normal life, that he can function and compete successfully, though blind, surrounded by sight.

And as to the "practical" college admissions official--although he is given the names of places already employing blind persons, although he is told of blind persons already working in the chosen field of study--as proof that this field is "practical" for the particular blind person; although the blind applicant for admission to college or to university graduate study assures the admissions official he will obtain his own employment, knowing full well the inability of the college placement office to help him break down the barriers of prejudice that will bar his way into employment; the "practical" college admissions official will reject enlightenment and release of the college from its job placement obligation, and he will deny admission to the blind applicant, but he will not tell his private thoughts: "Since I wouldn't hire you myself, I am certain no one else will!"

So, Madame Chairman, the blind applicant for college, prepared and willing to assume the heavy and extra burdens that securing higher education will place upon him because he must gain without sight and with much difficulty what others gain with sight and with relative ease, this blind applicant to college is denied far more than admission to college when he is refused entry because he is blind. He is refused the chance to follow his chosen destiny. He is denied the chance to develop his talents for his and the nation's good. He is denied, not just the chance for advanced education, he is denied the chance to live and prosper in accordance with his abilities and expended efforts.

No, Madame Chairman, the National Federation of the Blind does not say to you that any blind person should be admitted to any college or university simply because he is blind. We do say to you that any blind person who is scholastically qualified, should be admitted to any college or university to pursue any course of study he chooses. He should not be denied admission to any college or to any university to study any course offered to anyone else--always assuming scholastic requirements are satisfactorily complied with.

Nor do we believe that the presence of a blind student at a college or a university should in any way be burdensome to school authorities. Apart from arrangements that must be made to allow a blind person to take tests and examinations, we believe a blind student should not seek or receive any other concession from college personnel. The blind student should learn his way about the college campus and buildings, he should be able to go, alone, wherever he needs to go. He should procure his own readers, arrange himself for taping and Brailling, and not expect school officials to do such things for him. The blind student should be held accountable to meet the same standards of performance as sighted students. He should expect no "breaks" because he is blind and he should be given no "breaks" because he is blind,

Madame Chairman, it is our belief, and we think our belief to be based upon firm foundations of American tradition, that a blind person should be given a full and fair opportunity to succeed or fail as others have this opportunity, that assured success should not be required of the blind man, that he should not be protected from possible--or even probable--failure. The opportunity to succeed or fail, we believe, is the kind of equality that should be available to blind persons as it is available to sighted persons. And this equal opportunity must be recognized as a right offered to all, a right denied to none because of his lack of sight.

Perhaps, Madame Chairman, you are skeptical of the declaration of the National Federation of the Blind that any blind person who meets scholastic requirements, should be permitted to follow any college or university course of study he chooses, however generally held is the opinion that a person without sight couldn't possibly master such a course; however generally held is the opinion that a blind person couldn't possibly secure employment in the field of his choice.

I would advise you that, today, there are substantial numbers of blind persons who are gainfully and competently engaged in fields of economic endeavor once thought by everyone--except by certain blind persons--to be permanently closed as sources of employment for blind persons.

Chemistry, physics, civil and electrical engineering, theology, law, education, history, psychology--these are but a few fields in which blind persons are successfully employed. Yet, when these people sought entry into the preparatory courses of colleges and universities, they had to batter down doors that were barricaded against them, barricaded by myths and misconceptions, by ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination, by misdirected kindness and sight superiority.

But in spite of proof-by-doing success story after success story, blind people still encounter roadblocks to their ambition. When they seek to enter the physical science field, invariably they are told: "A blind person can't do the laboratory work."

When they seek to enter the social science field, invariably they are told: "A blind person can't do the amount of reading required."

Therefore, Madame Chairman, to open up college and university doors and courses and classrooms to otherwise qualified blind persons, we offer the following amendment and urge that it be approved and included at some appropriate place in the Higher Education Act:

"It is declared to be the policy of the United States that no college or university or similar institution of higher learning which receives public funds authorized and appropriated under this Act shall deny admission to any course of study to any blind or severely visually impaired person who meets all scholastic requirements for such course of study."

In conclusion, Madame Chairman, Members of the Committee, I would remind you: Because of generally held and well-established attitudes in our society, that blindness is a condition of utter helplessness, that to be without sight is to be without hope, that sightlessness is synonomous with complete dependency; because of these and similar attitudes based upon misconceptions and misbeliefs authenticated by their acceptance for centuries; no blind person needs to do a thing to try to help himself.

Since little or nothing is expected of him, he can try little and do nothing, and no one would think to condemn him for it, for he would be only acting as tradition dictates, he would be doing only what a blind person is believed capable of doing. Safe from the hazards of street traffic, secure from competition of employment, removed from the struggle of upward social movement, the blind man could resign himself to a sterile, empty existence. He could accept a sheltered corner in a home provided and maintained by others. He could be completely freed from any responsibility for himself or from sharing with others the responsibility for determining society's decisions and directions.

But, Madame Chairman, you know very well the extent to which the overwhelming majority of blind people reject the protected and custodialized life. You are fully familiar with the demand of blind people for the opportunity to live normally, to work in the regular employments, to share equally with their sighted fellows, not alone the rights and privileges available to others, but with equal insistence they demand full participation in the risks and uncertainties of everyday living.

Today, Madame Chairman, the person who enters the job market without specialized preparation is at a great disadvantage. This is true of the man with sight. It is even more true of the man without sight. Without training and developed skills, without professional or other vocation qualifications, the sighted man and the sightless may find it increasingly more difficult to get the chance to earn a living.

Therefore, Madame Chairman, to refuse a blind man admission to undergraduate college or university graduate school is to refuse him the chance to prepare properly to provide for himself. To deny a blind person specialized education and training is not just to compel him to seek less exalted kinds of employment; to seek and do repetitive work in a factory when he is qualified for much more; to seek and accept employment in a sheltered workshop when he has the ability to compete in the open economy.

And if the blind man is unable to obtain employment at all, if he is unable to obtain factory or sheltered shop or similar kinds of unskilled work, he will be doomed to a lifetime on public welfare--a lifetime lived at the expense of others, when he had so much to contribute toward the welfare and well-being of others.

Madame Chairman and Members of the Committee: I urge you to consider carefully the issues raised by the NFB. We urge you to adopt the amendment we have offered. This amendment as Federal law will not assure the blind applicant for admission to college that he will no longer encounter obstacles because he is blind and only because he is blind. But it will give him a weapon to combat such obstacles.

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[Reprinted by courtesy of Penney News, publication of the J. C. Penney Company. Ruth Drummond is the very capable Editor of the Virginia Federation of the Blind's Newsletter.]

In the last ten years Mrs. Ruth Drummond, receptionist/typist at Penney's in Alexandria, Virginia has made working with the blind her number one hobby.

Ruth and her husband, George, became interested in helping the blind after starting a friendship with a blind couple who lived nearby. "We just decided to visit these neighbors one day. We discovered we had the same interests and both families hit it off right away," said Ruth, who's the mother of two grown children. "It never seemed to matter that this family was blind." Since that first friendship Ruth and George have made hundreds of friends with the blind in Virginia and throughout the world.

Ruth's main service to the blind community is her work as editor of the Virginia Federation of the Blind Newsletter, sent to some two hundred fifty blind people each month. It is Ruth's job to gather all the news from the reporters and put it together for the four-page paper. "All the material is sent to me by blind reporters. . . ." Ruth, who was chosen by the blind to serve as editor, is the first sighted person to hold the job. Her blind associate editor approves all material for publication, makes cassette tapes of the paper for those subscribers who have no one to read to them and addresses and stamps the envelopes for mailing.

Although Ruth's editorial duties are very time-consuming she also manages to squeeze a variety of other tasks into her limited spare time. She is a captain for the March of Dimes, does publicity writing for the Virginia Federation of the Blind, has personally written hundreds of letters to government officials to help win more rights for the blind, entertains her blind friends at her home whenever possible, serves as a driver for the local blind group and recently has become a score-keeper for the blind bowlers tournament. "The blind use guard rails to help them bowl. These are aluminum bars that are placed between the alleys so they can be used by either right or left-handed persons to locate the center of the lane. Last month about one hundred sixty-four leagues held a tournament and our local team was one of the high scorers," she said.

Vacations in the Drummond household usually mean a trip to the annual National Federation of the Blind Convention. "The blind from all over the world attend. For one week they enjoy fellowship, hash out problems and generally do the same things that sighted people do at conventions. I think in ten years that George and I have been members of the group we've only missed this Convention twice," Ruth said.

If Ruth ever manages to find a few spare hours in her hectic schedule, she's already got activities planned to fill them. "I want to work toward getting a local center for the visually impaired. It would be a separate building where the blind could have a phone number in their own name, a full tape library, and a group of volunteers who would provide transportation, reading, and writing services and serve as shopping guides when needed," she said. "And I would like to study Braille so that I could transcribe writing for my blind friends."

To fellow associates and friends Ruth's ability to handle so many activities is amazing and a little perplexing. But to Ruth it's just a matter of filling a need. "I create my own pressure system," she said. "And I just sincerely hope the day never comes when someone asks for my help and I have to say, 'I'm sorry. I'm just too busy.' I just can't imagine being too busy to aid those who are in need of help."

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by Harvey Lauer

[Editor's Note: Mr. Lauer is Electronic Reading Specialist at the Central Rehabilitation Section for Visually Impaired and Blinded Veterans, Hines, Illinois.]

During the past four years in which my work has been teaching, testing, and demonstrating reading appliances for the U. S. Veterans Administration, the following questions were often put to me:

Which reading tasks can be done with the Visotoner? How does the Visotoner "see the print?" What training facilities exist? Are there reading appliances with tactile outputs? Are any reading appliances ready for the market? What is new in VA reading machine research? These questions form the outline for the present article on reading machine research.

A later article will be entitled, "Sensory Aids for the Blind: Are they an automatic bonus or needed tools?" Besides the issue posed in its title, the article will consider the question of what blind people and our friends can do to bring sensory aids through the laboratories, factories, and classrooms, and into our homes and offices.

Which reading tasks can be done with the Visotoner?

In 1964, I began learning to use the Veterans Administration's Battelle optophone. (An optophone is a reading machine which presents the shapes of printed characters to the ear as patterns of tones at several pitches.) Later, I used the first Visotoner, an optophone-style device developed at Mauch Laboratories. At first, I could check my own typing. Then reading typed correspondence, bank statements and utility bills became feasible. The list of reading tasks grew along with a greater feeling of independence because the reading machine added to the value of Braille, typing, and language skills. However, because of the need for technical improvements, enthusiasm for teaching this skill was not generated at that time.

Then in 1967, the Visotoner was redesigned by its manufacturer Mauch Laboratories, Inc., of Dayton, Ohio.2 The Visotoner was developed under a research contract with the Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service of the Veterans Administration. The new machine gave greater operating ease and access to a wider range of available print including dictionaries and some kinds of printed instructions.

My first student was Margaret Butow of the Hadley School for the Blind, She uses the instrument to read her world-wide typed correspondence, check her typing and correct errors. Other blind students, most of whom are veterans, came to Hines Hospital for several weeks of training with the Visotoner. We then made use of regular correspondence and telephone instruction to help them complete the course of training at home. Many of them are identifying currency, reading their typed or printed mail and occasional magazine articles. Dictionaries and encyclopedias "come alive" to some of us, and a few advanced students read package directions and ads. Reading handwriting is not feasible for us, but we can check the function of writing instruments and the legibility of our own handwriting. There are now nineteen persons using Visotoners. Most of us feel that we have acquired a bit of synthetic eyesight.

Reading speeds for the first year of practice and use have been fifteen words per minute or less. After that, higher speeds are possible depending on individual ability and the uses made of the machine; that is, continued use usually increases speed and the number of tasks for which one would prefer to use the appliance. My reading speed with the Visotoner on high-grade typing or printing is forty words per minute. When detecting the size of print and when reading low-grade or very unusual print styles, I may read several words during the first minute. I find the lower speeds suitable for identification purposes.

How does the Visotoner "see the print?"

The Visotoner contains a vertical column of nine photocells, an optical system, and the electronic circuits to generate a different audible tone for each photocell while it is "seeing black." The instrument has magnification and lamp controls for adjusting to the size and contrast of print. We cannot say that the machine reads--rather, it presents the letter shapes as tone patterns. As it is moved along a line of print, the nine-tone output is usually heard in an earphone. Each printed symbol has its characteristic tone pattern. When the two lowest tones are heard, it means that the letter extends below the line. Each of the five middle tones responds to its assigned band of print encompassing the middle body or "x" height of the letter. When the two highest tones sound, it means there is print extending above the "x" height. For example, reading a hyphen results in a steady tone. The letter "i" consists largely of a chord, and the letter "v" makes a ripply sound.

The user must learn to interpret these tone patterns as letters and words on the printed page. The long learning process is similar to the experience of a sighted child learning to read inkprint. In teaching this skill, we used a two hundred-hour training course developed at Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio. The course consists of ordinary printed text to which we have added tape recordings of the Visotoner.

The transistorized Visotoner with its battery and ear phone are carried in a leather case the size of a hard-cover text book. The instrument may be used alone or with its tracking aid which Mauch Laboratories has named the Colineator. A specially designed attache case holds everything including a spare battery and battery charger.

What training facilities exist?

Miss Margaret Butow, my first Visotoner student, designed and teaches the Hadley Visotoner Screening Course. The course was developed under VA contract with the Hadley School for the Blind, 700 Elm Street, Winnetka, Illinois 60093. This twenty-five -lesson home study course is offered without charge to those who consider themselves potential candidates for learning and/or teaching the skill. The course yields a measure of a candidate's ability to learn the Visotoner code, and it provides a head start in learning that code via tape recordings.

Upon completion of the screening course, several blind veterans and non-veteran potential teachers were trained by me here at the Veterans Administration Hospital, Hines, Illinois. They now use Visotoners in their homes. One of the veterans, Richard Bennett, is now beginning work similar to mine. He will teach and test reading appliances at the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center, Veterans Administration Hospital, Palo Alto, California. Greater availability of the Visotoner will depend on further evaluation, interest, and support.

We feel that a blind person should first avail himself of training given at rehabilitation centers or by home services. Then he may consider a machine like the Visotoner as a supplement to basic skills.

Are there reading appliances with tactile outputs?

The Visotactor, built by Mauch Laboratories, is like the Visotoner in every way except that instead of an audible output it uses vibrators felt by four fingers of the right hand. There are currently three blind persons who are reading with Visotactors.

Dr. James C. Bliss and others at Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, California have developed a machine with a tactile output using many vibrators all of which are felt by one finger. There are several users of the Stanford Reading Machine which has been named the Optacon. (Information may be obtained about their encouraging results from the developers of the Optacon.3)

I wish to emphasize here that we need several outputs of reading appliances in order to match the capacities and meet the needs of blind people. It should then be possible to select the output a person will use according to his ability and preference. For example, users of the Visotoner must possess the ability to distinguish various tone patterns presented, but they do not need all the auditory abilities of musicians. Users of a machine with a tactile output must possess appropriate tactual abilities. Several equipment designs making use of residual vision are being proposed and tested.

Are any reading appliances ready for the market?

From an engineering standpoint, the Visotoner is ready to be produced in a quantity of one hundred or two hundred copies, and there is some interest in doing this. There is also interest, both here and abroad, in further evaluation of the usefulness of the machine and the selection of potential candidates.

We understand that a production run of one hundred or two hundred units would cost about $2,000 each, including accessories. We anticipate that the cost of equipment and training would be borne by agencies and organizations as is now usually the case in other training programs. The blind user would contribute his time and effort which amounts to two hundred or more hours of practice. In return for this, he should have the use of a reading machine upon successful completion of the course. The Optacon is at the same stage of development.

What is new in VA reading machine research?

Under its research contract with the Veterans Administration, Mauch Laboratories is developing the Cognodictor.2 Three prototypes, each the size of a portable typewriter, have been built and are being tested in Dayton and here at Hines VA Hospital. The machine spells words audibly; a Braille output could later be devised. Mrs. Bonnie Deal of Dayton, Ohio, is the first blind person to read with the Cognodictor. The machine "identifies" upper and lower-case letters in many common type fonts, so it should permit more rapid reading at speeds of eighty or more words per minute. A visotactor or Visotoner is part of the Cognodictor and is needed to locate the print, size it up, and track exactly on the line. Only then will the Cognodictor spell words. The smaller machine must also be used to read numerals and other symbols which the Cognodictor cannot "recognize." This is why skill in the use of one of the smaller machines described earlier will be necessary in order to use the Cognodictor. Of course, the small machine is detachable from the Cognodictor for use in remote locations.

The eventual cost of the Cognodictor will be several thousands of dollars. Its price can be put into proper perspective as one considers other rehabilitation services which also offer life-long returns on similarly large investments.

We need the smaller machines like the Visotoner for their low eventual cost (several hundred dollars, including accessories) and for their high degree of versatility. For example, they can be used to read italicized print, numerals, and other symbols and characters used in foreign languages but not found in the English alphabet.

It seems possible that the Cognodictor will be to the Visotactor and Visotoner what the typewriter is to the pen. For example, you would need a machine like the Visotoner to read the figures on your bank statement or to "see" the lines on a printed check or form you fill out. Such tasks are normally accomplished by slow, accurate reading. Then when you turn to a magazine article, the Cognodictor with its electronic logic circuitry and spelled-speech vocabulary would take over and permit higher reading speeds.

As noted, the Cognodictor identifies alphabetic characters in common type styles. The day when a personal reading machine will do much more than this is still far off. Industry's million-dollar computer-assisted reading machines can "read" rapidly and accurately. They should prove useful in improving library services, but they are not as versatile as a skilled Visotoner or Optacon user in coping with the vagaries of print.

In summary to this point, we have discussed two families or levels of reading appliances. Reading machines like the Visotoner, Visotactor, Optacon, and others not mentioned here are called direct translating machines because they convert optical information gained from the printed page quite directly into another form in which this information is presented to the user. Such machines use no logic circuitry. They have a minimum of electronic components and require a maximum of user skill.

The second level of reading machines we call Optical Character Readers, because they use computer-like logic circuitry to identify characters. Industry has big, expensive ones, and we hope for the Cognodictor as a personal reading machine. The fact that printed characters are found in so many shapes and qualities means that it is more difficult to develop a low-cost optical character reader than an expensive one. The high research costs of such a project for blind people make it necessary to seek wider support and deeper commitments. At the present level of support, equipment design and components become obsolete before they can be built and evaluated. This fact is somewhat true of the other reading machines discussed here. However, it has been our experience that the skill in using this equipment does not become obsolete. When better reading machines have been made available to users, the old skills were applicable to the new equipment.

There is a third level of VA-sponsored reading machine research at Haskins Laboratories in Connecticut.4 Haskins Laboratories is working on high speed outputs for computer-assisted library services. The output of the Haskins equipment is English sentences. Another future use for the Haskins work is reading by means of a very large, time-shared computer system over the phone. It is hoped that this kind of "over-your-shoulder" reading by a computer may become feasible if and when computer terminals become commonplace in many homes. Such computer services would, for example, operate household appliances, etc. My opinion is that although such computer-assisted reading of materials "on location" may be a long way off, computer-assisted library services rendered by mail or by phone should be near at hand. The first of such services should use computer time only to select, duplicate, and mail pre-recorded and pre-Brailled texts. The borrower should also be able to stipulate the rate of compression desired. Researchers at MIT and at Stanford Research Institute are also working on various modes of computer-assisted reading.

Those interested in the technical aspects of the VA Sensory Aids Research Program or in availability of training and equipment should write to Dr. Eugene F. Murphy, Chief, Research and Development Division, Prosthetic and  Sensory Aids Service, Veterans Administration 252 7th Avenue, New York, New York 10001.


In concluding this article, it should be pointed out that persons who want to use present reading appliances usually have many reading needs of the types listed above and limited resources for meeting these needs. Potential users are also usually among the minority of those who prefer friends to helpers; that is, they value the time of others as much as they value their own. The question now facing us can be stated in three relevant ways.

1. If we improve the capability and availability of appliances, will the minority of potential users grow to include a majority of blind people?

2. Does our need for sensory aids grow as industry puts more and more essential information into print and under the glass covers of meters and dials?

3. To raise the question as it is put in the title of my second article: are sensory aids for the blind an automatic bonus or are they needed tools?

This three-part question can be answered only in dialogue between blind people and our friends. In my opinion, we need this dialogue because many of our friends among whom are legislators, administrators, and philanthropists consider sensory aids bonuses of the affluent society. If blind people feel the need for sensory aids we have not expressed it very well because we think sensory aids are inevitable benefits of the technological Utopia for which we think we must patiently wait. If my analysis is correct, then unless those misunderstandings are cleared up, we cannot expect to see much action. I have therefore written a second article in an attempt to spark dialogue between blind people and our friends who are researchers, administrators, taxpayers, and so on.

Technology often makes old ideas feasible. Jet propulsion and magnetic recording were curiosities of the nineteenth century. Fifty years ago, Mary Jameson of Britain, read with the first Optophone at a speed of one word per minute.5 Today, she is still aiding in the evaluation of the equipment. Her examples of foresight and dedication are still inspiring us.


1. Coffey, J. L., "The Development and Evaluation of the Battelle Oral Reading Device," Proceedings of the International Congress on Technology and Blindness, the American Foundation for the Blind, New York, 1: pp. 343-360, 1963.

2. Smith, G. C, "The Development of Recognition and Direct Translation Reading Machines for the Blind," Proceedings of the International Conference on Sensory Devices for the Blind, St. Dunstan's, London, pp. 367-387, June 1966.

3. Bliss, J. C. and Crane, H. D., "Touch as a Means of Communication," Journal of the Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, California, Feature Issue 5, pp. 2-15, January 1969.

4. Gaitenby, J. H., "The Machine Conversion of Print to Speech," two papers, New Outlook for the Blind, the American Foundation for the Blind, New York, Volume 63: No. 4, pp. 114-126, April 1969.

5. Jameson, M., "The Optophone: Its Beginning and Development," Bulletin of Prosthetics Research, BPR 10-5, pp. 25-28, Spring 1966 (for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. 20402, Price: sixty-five cents.)

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The Minnesota Bulletin, publication of the Minnesota Organization of Blind, reports the formation of a new chapter located in the St. Cloud area. A good cross-section of blind persons of all ages attended the organization meeting, including a number of area students. The program of the NFB and of the Minnesota Organization was explained. Andy Virden was elected temporary chairman and the group will be known as the Central Minnesota Chapter.


The U. S. Supreme Court held two years ago that residence laws for purposes of receiving public assistance were unconstitutional unless a "compelling state interest" was shown for their enactment. Using this possible loophole, the following States have taken action: a bill to impose a one-year residence requirement for welfare recipients was passed by the Rhode Island Senate; a bill setting a one-year residence requirement was enacted by the Illinois Legislature; a similar bill was passed by the Michigan Senate; and in Ohio the same type of measure has been introduced.


Britain's blind have been given a three-dollar discount on the annual fourteen dollars and forty cents television license fee. The idea, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, was to help blind people who listen to TV or who have families who watch it.


World Contact is the title of a new bi-monthly magazine of international scope to be published both in Braille and inkprint, beginning in the autumn of 1971, by International Publications for the Blind, London, England. The aims of the new publication are to provide an international link for blind people throughout the English-speaking world and to promote original writing by blind men and women. Further information may be had by addressing International Publications for the Blind, 30 Baker Street, London, W. I., United Kingdom.


The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, after a detailed study, has exploded the myth that the welfare system is being grossly abused by fraudulent welfare recipients. HEW discovered that less than one percent of all the welfare recipients in Federally assisted welfare programs were charged with fraud, the actual figure being seven-tenths of one percent. The whole report simply destroys (we hope, once and for all) the phony charge about the nation's needy who are forced to turn to public assistance for reasons beyond their control.


Congressman John R. Rarick of Louisiana has introduced H.R. 9102 to provide that all paper money issued by the United States shall carry a designation in Braille indicating the denomination. Apparently such a procedure is being used in the Netherlands.


The United Blind of Syracuse, New York is encouraging more blind persons to join a mountain-hiking club, The Adirondack Mountain Club. It's an interesting and enjoyable activity for those for whom the trail calls. Besides, the reason most often given by the initiated for climbing a mountain is just because it's there.


When States are unable to meet need as determined under their own standards of assistance, they reduce payments on a percentage basis. This usually occurs when a State has a fixed or "closed end" appropriation--when the appropriated sum runs low, grants are reduced to make the remainder last for the balance of the fiscal year. Percentage reductions usually have the effect of lowering payments to most or all recipients to a level below that of determined need. In October, 1970 reports HEW, percentage reductions were being applied to monthly payments by nineteen States. In October, 1970 four States and jurisdictions had such ratable reductions in effect for Aid to the Blind: the District of Columbia paying seventy-five percent of need; Texas ninety-five percent; West Virginia fifty-two percent; and Puerto Rico only forty percent.


According to statistics for January, 1971 there were 80,900 recipients of Aid to the Blind in the country, with an average monthly grant of one hundred four dollars. Only four States paid a grant of more than one hundred twenty-five dollars--Alaska, one hundred seventy-eight dollars and seventy-five cents; California, one hundred sixty dollars and seventy cents; Massachusetts, one hundred fifty-one dollars and twenty cents; and New Hampshire, one hundred sixty-nine dollars and seventy cents.


A group of Arlington, Texas youngsters, indignant because a blind girl was not allowed to take part in Girls State, a mock government program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, has written to the auxiliary president urging the group to reconsider. "She is being denied her participation in Girls State because she happens to be blind," said the letter, written by elementary school children. "It is our feeling that our government is one created for service to all people. Need we remind the auxiliary that President Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, Charles Steinmetz, and Peter Stuyvesant were all handicapped persons who made contributions to this country. Perhaps they did because no one restricted their rights to do so."


The Penney News, publication of the J. C. Penney Company, reports that a blind seventeen-year old high school senior in Redwood City, California landed her first job with the J. C. Penney Company. She is a part-time receptionist and was hired as part of the local high school district's program for the visually handicapped. The girl did such a fine job that she earned her first raise and paved the way for the store to hire an additional blind student. The store manager said that having "broken the ice" in hiring these blind students that perhaps others in the community will see how productive these young folks can be and follow suit.


The Month's News, published by the Illinois Congress of the Blind, reports: "A new organization has come upon us, in Illinois, surprisingly dubbed PAR, meaning Political Action for Rehabilitation. It is made up largely of our 'professional' friends, the self-appointed custodians of the handicapped who would zealously protect us against all evil. PAR's stated aim was to strengthen, through legislation, the relatively painless provision in the new Illinois constitution prohibiting discrimination against the handicapped in employment and housing. PAR sought financial support from ICB and other organizations of handicapped persons, and, without consulting these organizations, prepared H.B. 2296. This bill, far from protecting the handicapped, protects the discriminating employer by deliberately excusing him, as our White Cane law does not, from a requirement to actually prove and demonstrate that the would-be handicapped employee cannot perform the work. Moreover, as if to add insult to injury, the bill goes on to state, in black and white, that the law would be inapplicable in cases where considerations of safety would make it impractical to employ a handicapped person. How often have we seen this kind of supposedly protective legislation totally emasculated by its sponsors in order to accomodate the employer's traditional assumption of disability regarding the handicapped! Only drastic surgery on this bill will succeed in remedying the weakness of Section 19 of the new Bill of Rights, and block the escape hatch which it offers to discriminating employers. It is ironic that when Rami Rabby pointed out to Linda Mayer, PAR's paid lobbyist, the serious shortcomings in the bill, and complained of the lack of prior consultation with the handicapped themselves, she replied that this kind of insistence by the handicapped on consultation was 'paranoid'; (par)anoid?"


Dewey Cummings of the Toledo (Ohio) Federation of the Blind reports that some State rehabilitation agencies provide reader service funds for college students under their program and this is the case in Ohio. Even though the State has money to pay readers who read for blind college students, there is still a problem of delayed payment. It takes six to eight weeks for the reader to receive a check from the State. A reader facing this delay soon begins to feel that this reading job is a drag and the blind student is then faced with finding a new reader. The Toledo Federation feels that it has come up with a solution to this problem. The Federation has set aside money in a special revolving account. At the end of each month the reader sends her bills to the Federation and the check is mailed within a week. One large bill is then sent to the State, covering all bills of readers, and the Federation is reimbursed in six to eight weeks.


According to HEW, for the last fiscal year it cost $14,643,000 for administration, services, and training for the Aid to the Blind program, of which Federal funds paid 56.9 percent, State funds 30.4 percent, and local funds 12.7 percent. Since more than $92 million was paid out to blind recipients, this means an administrative cost of some 15 percent.


After twenty-six years of dedicated work for the Oregon Commission for the Blind, and a number of years previously as a teacher of the blind, Mrs. Vera Thompson of Portland recently retired. At the retirement ceremony Colonel Robert E. Emmens, U. S. A. F. Ret. and now a Red Cross volunteer for service to the blind, presented Mrs. Thompson with a cassette copy of his book, "Guests of the Kremlin." The book is about his internment in Russia and escape to Iran during World War II after he had participated in the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo. Colonel and Mrs. Emmens have served as drivers for Mrs. Thompson during her visits in the area. Vera Thompson is a member-at-large of the NFB in Oregon. We wish for you. Vera, many years of happy retirement filled brimful of activity.


The United Blind of Minnesota has just published its first edition of its publication The U. Bee Hi-Lites. In this publication it is reported that considerable legislative progress was made in the 1971 session of the Legislature: the broadening and strengthening of the Minnesota White Cane Law; the strengthening of State civil service examination requirements in favor of blind applicants; and the tightening up of a Minnesota traffic law in favor of the blind when crossing intersections. The legislative report makes the observation that "It is quite ironic that the greatest opposition to the passive of legislation beneficial to the blind comes from the agencies who supposedly are dedicated to the rehabilitation, education, and employment of the blind. One may ask, 'who or what needs rehabilitation?'"


The Month's News, publication of our Illinois affiliate, for July, 1971 contains the following item:

Saturday, June 26, is a date which ICB will long remember with very great pleasure. It was on that day that Dennis and Jackie Schreiber pulled off single-handedly a magnificent fundraising happening for ICB's benefit. Alone they threw a party on the lawn of a church near their home, on the Southwest side of Chicago, and invited many of their friends and acquaintances at five dollars a person. By the end of the evening a profit of no less than six hundred and twenty-six dollars was made, which Dennis promptly requested be used for the purchase of a Braille thermoform machine for ICB. Arrangements are already being made for the purchase of this machine which will allow us, among other things, to print our own Braille copies of this newsletter at lower cost, and mail them to you at greater speed. We are indeed grateful to Dennis and Jackie for giving so unstintingly of themselves, and to all their friends for recognizing a good cause. Again, on the fundraising front, the news from Rockford is that the Rockford Congress of the Blind raised seventy dollars at its May 22 bake sale in Belvidere.


The Kansas City Kansan for June 3, 1971 reports that "Jose Luis Gutierrez, eighteen, says he does not consider the fact he is blind as a handicap, but rather as a challenge.

"Jose has been meeting the challenge of blindness all his life, but since he entered a public high school for the first time this year he has been facing some new challenges, including running for a junior class office. . . .

"He was elected to lead as governor the 1,142 young men attending the American Legion Boys' State, in its 34th year at the University of Kansas in June.

"The son of Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Gutierrez, 438 N. 29th, Jose had attended the Kansas State School for the Visually Handicapped until entering Rosedale High School last fall. At that time he said his decision to attend a public school was based on a desire to learn in a more natural environment. He said he felt attending a public school would allow him to acquire a greater feeling of independence.

"Jose had some light and image perception until two years ago when he had to have his second eye removed because of a disease which began when he was an infant. He had lost the other eye several years earlier.

"But he always has depended on Braille to read. He used Braille textbooks and tapes to study and was assisted by a special education consultant with the school district. At first, he said, he tried to avoid the school halls when they were most crowded. A lot of other students did not realize he was blind, Jose said.

"Jose will return to Rosedale next year as a senior and then plans to attend Community Junior College before enrolling in a college or university.

"He was one of eleven boys from here sponsored to Boys' State by Armourdale American Legion Post 188.

"Lieutenant Governor Reynold Schulz, R-Lawrence, installed the new officers. There also are ninety-seven former Boys' Staters serving as counselors at this year's session."


If you are interested in helping with a survey directed to "selected secondary school students, secondary school teachers, and teacher college students, who are visually impaired, to identify problems of instruction. . . and determine their suggestions for improvement of instruction and changes in secondary curriculum; and to give implications these changes might have for future teacher training programs," write to Richard Gulizia, 9418 Himebaugh Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68134. This material would be used in his dissertation.


Every blind person in the State of Florida is cordially invited to attend the first annual convention of the Florida Association of the Blind which will be held on the weekend of November 12th and 13th at the Downtowner Hotel in Orlando, Florida.

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