Voice of the
National Federation of the Blind


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


Published monthly in inkprint, Braille, and on talking book discs
Distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind
President: Kenneth Jernigan, 524 Fourth Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309

EDITOR: Perry Sundquist, 4651 Mead Avenue Sacramento, California 95822

Associate Editor: Hazel tenBroek, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708

News items should be sent to the Editor

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

If you or a friend wish to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND, a District of Columbia non-profit corporation, the sum of $_____ (or, "_____ percent of my net estate", or "the following stocks and bonds:_____”) to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf’ of blind persons and to be held and administered by direction of its Executive Committee."

If your wishes are more complex, you may have your attorney communicate with the Berkeley Office for other suggested forms. Printed at 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley, California 94708




by Kenneth Jernigan



by Sumner Whittier

by Corbett Reedy


by Dr. Richard B. Wilson



by Ralph Sanders

by Don Brown

by Nancy Smalley


by Shirley Lebowitz


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








A thunderous roar, alive with excitement and anticipation, greeted the pounding of the gavel as President Jernigan called to order the thirty-third Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Its vigor and strength gave voice to the organization's great growth in size, stature, and unity. The two thousand voices sounded as many more. The great Grand Ballroom of the Statler-Hilton Hotel was packed from floor to rafters as the main floor and the balconies filled with eager Federationists, their families, and their friends. One of the more apparent phenomena in our growth is the spread of Federationism from members to their families—parents, children, aunts, uncles, inlaws. They came not as spectators but as ardent believers and active participants.

Facts and figures of this Convention gathering are interesting in themselves. The first day of registration, Sunday, July 1, when 928 people registered, exceeded anything that had gone before. In the end, this largest of all NFB Conventions registered 1506 people, although, as is usual, upward of a third of those who attend our conventions did not, for whatever reasons, register. At the banquet, 1427 diners were served, and many who could not be accommodated in the Grand Ballroom participated in the proceedings by means of sound piped into an adjoining hall.

Forty-eight affiliates answered the dramatic opening rollcall of the States. They came from the warm Pacific Islands of Hawaii, the cold reaches of Alaska, the heart of Texas, the cool mountains of Maine, the sunny shores of Florida and everywhere between. Every State in the Union and the District of Columbia had delegates present, save Vermont. Eleven States chartered buses, but Federationists arrived by all means of transportation, including shanks' mare and hitchhiking, airplanes, trains, cars, and campers. No one wanted to miss this Convention. Everyone wanted to be a part of it. The eager Wisconsinites wanted to form an affiliate on the spot.

This was a Convention at which Federationists took the battle for consumer recognition and representation to NAC's very doorstep. This was a Convention at which Federationists could point with pride and recount success in achieving many long-sought goals, set forth in H.R. 1 and subsequent Social Security legislation. This was the Convention at which the guidelines for future action were clearly set down for all to see.

It all happened in midtown Manhattan and on the sidewalks of New York for seven action-packed days. The ingredients which made this the greatest of all NFB Conventions were people, progress, program, picketing, and a seminar. But the dominant theme was the battle against NAC.

Social Activities

This Convention, like most of the others, was not all work and no play. A reception, held in the Terrace Ballroom on Tuesday evening, July 3, gave delegates and friends an opportunity to shake hands with all the National Federation officers. Executive Committeemen, Board Members, Staff, and their spouses; and the president of the host affiliate, Laura Herman, and her husband.

Other New York members were in the room to greet the guests. The importance of this event can best be judged by the fact that it took two solid hours for everyone to get through the reception line.

On Wednesday evening the New York affiliate showed everyone else how it was done when it played host to the whole Convention at a cabaret dance in the Terrace Ballroom. The combo was good; the company of the best; the dancers were obviously having fun; the nondancers didn't seem to mind a bit; and the refreshments were free. To say the least, if numbers are a register of success, this affair topped them all.

The Terrace Ballroom was the popular gathering place every evening from about 7:00 p.m. until midnight; and on Thursday, after the banquet. There were always refreshments and on-the-spot entertainment, with sing-alongs a popular diversion.

The tours were bound to be outstanding in this particular city, and the State and local affiliates had gone all out to see that they were. There were free tickets to a Yankee doubleheader baseball game, a tour of the United Nations, a cruise around Manhattan Island-all the landmark places to see, including the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center, and performances at Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall, and New York's famous theaters, to say nothing of Greenwich Village, Times Square, and Fifth Avenue.

But the President gave up the tours to meet and talk with many State delegations who needed to consult with him. And others gave up tours in order to work, including those involved in making all things ready for the Friday march to NAC. Led by Don Morris, who was probably the busiest person outside of the President all during this Convention, and Ralph Sanders, a good many conventioners were busy on Wednesday afternoon forming an assembly line of picket sign makers in the lobby to the Ballroom. It would seem that they had as much fun as those who did go on the tours.

Executive Committee Meeting

Unlike NAC, the Federation's Executive Committee meetings are open to anyone who cares to come. This one was so well attended that one might have mistaken it for a regular Convention session.

President Jernigan traced the progress made during the past year and dealt with the problems which lie ahead. Following are excerpts from that meeting.

President JERNIGAN. Following past custom, we will hold this meeting of the Executive Committee in the open and in the presence of all the Convention. Also following past custom, we do not have microphones on the floor and the reason for that is that this is not a general Convention session. It is a session of the Executive Committee and, therefore, we have it so that it is moderately difficult but not impossible for somebody from the floor to talk if he feels so inclined.


I think that we should not allow this occasion to pass without taking some definitive action about our friends at NAC and, therefore, I want to talk with you about the possibility of shifting the Friday agenda. I want first to talk with you about where we are with NAC—some recent developments. ... I guess the first thing I want to do is read you a letter. This letter is from Ralph Sanders, who is the president of our Arkansas affiliate, and is of June 25, 1973, and goes as follows. This is to Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company. They are one of the big eight accounting firms in the Nation. They have headquarters offices here in New York but they have branch offices throughout the country. Ralph Sanders writes: "Dear Mr. Anthony—" For those of you who are old enough to know, it is not the Mr. Anthony you used to hear on the radio. It's a different one. [Laughter.] That's an "in" joke for those of us who are senior citizens. [Laughter.]

DEAR MR. ANTHONY: Concept-three Incorporated, [that's the name of Ralph Sanders' advertising agency] will discontinue the accounting services provided by Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company, effective July 1, 1973. We have been extremely pleased with the services which have been provided by Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company. The decision to discontinue the services was based on my urging, as a protest against the actions of Mr. Dan Robinson, a partner in the firm, in its New York office. Mr. Robinson now serves as president of the National Accreditation Council (NAC) for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped. I am a member of the National Federation of the Blind and have taken part in attempts to reform NAC. It is our position that NAC hurts blind people throughout the country. It does this by holding closed meetings, though it has received more than $600,000 in Federal funds and though the agencies it accredits, in most instances, are supported in part or in whole by State and/or Federal tax dollars.

NAC refuses to discuss meaningful participation in its policy decisions by consumer representatives. In fact, I had occasion to personally discuss the definition of "consumer" with Mr. Robinson at NAC's annual meeting, held in Chicago on June 20-21, and found him evasive. The National Federation of the Blind is the oldest and largest organization of blind people in the country with more than fifty thousand members in all States. We do not seek to control NAC nor do we seek to be the only group taking part in NAC. We seek open meetings and we seek participation by a reasonable number of consumer representatives in policy decisions by NAC. Instead of discussing these issues seriously, NAC, now under the direction of Mr. Robinson, continues to attempt to operate with closed meetings and to ignore the issue of consumer representation.

I feel, and my partners agree, that as an independent individual, I am left with no other recourse than to recommend such actions as these. In fact, Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company, I believe, can anticipate a nationwide boycott by all blind businessmen and their friends in the business community. There is nothing personal intended in this toward anyone with whom Concept-three has worked or, for that matter, Mr. Robinson. But perhaps by this action Mr. Robinson and Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company will learn a real, meaningful definition of what constitutes a consumer. Mr. Robinson stated during NAC's annual meeting that the word "consumerism" had become so bastardized as to become meaningless. I, and tens of thousands of other blind Americans, think he is wrong. I hope that Mr. Robinson's associates at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company will encourage him to dissociate from NAC so that all of us who will take part in this action may again return to using the services provided by Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company.

Sincerely yours,

President JERNIGAN [continuing]. I think there are several things that need saying about this. We are in a critical and crucial year, I believe, in the Federation. Before another year is out either NAC will have begun to give way before us and to make reforms, or the likelihood is that our own momentum will be blunted. The latter must not and will not occur. [Applause.] Therefore, we must take positive and decisive action. I don't know how many of you saw the eleven o'clock news last night, but we got very wide NBC coverage concerning this issue, a very good report. It would be my proposal to you that we do something which we've almost never done in the Federation. On Friday we should move our program forward so that the program can be rearranged. This would be done in order that we can go out at midday—peacefully and in good order and yet firmly, carrying signs and marching, demonstrating our opposition to NAC and telling people throughout the country that NAC is doing us harm. I think we can get nationwide news coverage on this.

If we do this we're going to have to organize it carefully. We're going to have to walk a careful line between firmness on the one hand, and order and dignity on the other. We did that, I think, to perfection in Chicago. I was extremely proud of the way the Federation behaved. I think that was for many of us a unique experience. I happen to be a kind of reactionary, or right wing reactionary, and I had never in my life walked a picket line or carried a picket sign or participated in a demonstration. Many of my colleagues had not either; but I did then, for I'm not going to ask other people to do what I won't do. I was pleased to see a great number of other people doing that.


We are sending a message to NAC and they are going to hear that message long and loud. [Cheers and applause.]

I would like to get a consensus of the group. Are you willing to start the Friday meeting at eight o'clock in the morning and then break somewhere in the ten-thirty area, that we come back somewhere in the neighborhood of two and that we have a demonstration concerning NAC with all that has been implied by what has been said. [The membership was asked if it was willing to make the change. There was a roar of "aye" followed by loud cheers and applause. The Executive Committee was then asked if it was willing to make the alteration in the agenda. Mr. VanVliet so moved and the motion was seconded by Mrs. Lebowitz and Mr. Couts and adopted to more vigorous applause.]

Let me talk to you about another matter. A Social Security seminar will be held on Saturday. Let me tell you how that came about. I received a call from John Nagle telling me that the Social Security Administration wished to have a seminar in June of this year in Baltimore and wished to have present State and local representatives of ACB, State and local representatives of NFB, and regional or district representatives throughout the country of the American Foundation for the Blind. I said, "We won't come. They can have their meeting if they want to but we are not going to meet with the ACB." He got back to the Social Security people and told them this.

Then I got a call from a member of the staff at Social Security who said-in fact it was a man who was going to work on this meeting—and he said, "We've already arranged the meeting." And I said, "I'm sorry, we simply won't meet with that group." And he said, "Can you tell me why?" And I said, "Yes, I'll tell you why. We'll meet with the American Foundation because nobody really thinks of them as representative and they don't really claim to be representative of anybody except themselves and their own reactionary viewpoint. [Laughter.] We'll meet with them, but we won't meet with the ACB because they have behaved, in our opinion, dishonorably. They are not the kind of group we care to associate with; we simply won't meet with them." And he said, "But I don't understand why." And I said, "Well, I just told you why. We won't do it." And he said, "Well, we feel that we have to have the Federation present." And I said, "Okay. But we're not going to be there." So he said he'd get back to his superiors.

I then got a call from a special assistant to the Director of Social Security saying, "I don't understand." I said, "Look. It's not difficult to understand. The AFL—CIO said a number of years ago that it wouldn't meet on the same platform with the Teamsters. You don't have to agree with the AFL—CIO or the Teamsters but it's not hard to understand what they were saying. We're not going to meet with the ACB and that's all there is to it." And this person said, "But what are we going to do." And I replied, "Well, you called me." This individual said, "But we feel that unless we have the Federation present the meeting won't be a success and we need to get this out and we need your publication." And I said, "Well, if you really want to reach the blind you don't want to do it through the ACB because they don't have much contact and our publication reaches many thousands of people and they don't." The person said, "But we've already set the meeting. What are we going to do?" And I said. "Well, I don't know. But we can't be there."

Well, anyway, without dragging this out, what happened is this: I said, "As a counter proposal would you like to come the day after our Convention closes and hold an all-day seminar for the Federation?" And this person said, "Let me get to the Director and I'll come back to you." Then he came back and said, "We would like, if you're willing, to have an all-day seminar. We'll bring five or six of our top people in Social Security who will talk about all aspects of the rights of blind people under H.R. 1 and the new Social Security legislation-what it means; we'll answer specific questions if you would like to have such a meeting." And I said we would like to have such a meeting and so they will be here on Saturday.


Next, Sam Lentine (a Federationist and a physicist) was introduced to discuss research he is conducting, which may have far-reaching implications for the blind. Mr. Lentine, (who is a teacher and researcher and lives in Buffalo, New York) has developed a machine which gives some indication of permitting blind persons to tell colors by skin reaction: particularly in the area of the hands and forehead. It was stressed that the research is still inconclusive and that no claims are being made concerning final results. Mr. Lentine indicated that he would be glad to demonstrate his machine to those who wished to try it, and a great deal of interest was shown. Mr. Lentine said that if the machine proved of value, he would like to make an arrangement for the Federation to be the sole distributor.

Perry Sundquist renominated, most eloquently, the three present members of the NFB Board for additional one-year terms. They are Dr. Jacob Freid, Dr. Isabella L. D. Grant, and Marc Maurer, president of the NFB Student Division. The nominations were seconded by Mrs. Lebowitz and approved by the Executive Committee for recommendation to the Convention.

The President then presented the NFB of Georgia, our forty-seventh State, for formal admission. Richard Webb is president and Anderson Frazer, vice-president. Mr. Graham moved, and Mr. Capps seconded the motion that the NFB of Georgia be admitted. The vote was unanimous.

President JERNIGAN. Two other items. Resolutions may come to the floor of the Convention in one of two ways. If an individual has a resolution which he wishes to present, he may take it to the Resolutions Committee. The Resolutions Committee then may either recommend that the resolution pass and send it to the floor, or it may send it out to the floor with the recommendation that it not pass. It may ask the sponsor to withdraw it, which he may or may not consent to do; if he does not, it may come to the floor anyway. The Committee may alter the resolution with the consent of the sponsor: or, if the sponsor does not consent, the Resolutions Committee may alter it anyway, and present its version of it. But in that case, the version which the individual has presented still may come to the floor if he wishes. In other words, no resolution is bottled up or altered by the Resolutions Committee without the consent of the maker of the resolution. Now, there is a second way that resolutions may come to the floor of the Convention and that is through the Executive Committee. Generally this route is reserved for resolutions which members of the Executive Committee may wish to present, and, particularly, very often that the President may wish to present. Nevertheless, they come through the Executive Committee. I suppose that the same system would follow if some member of the Executive Committee sent a resolution through the Executive Committee and the committee won't buy it; I suppose he has a right to take it to the floor. We've never had that situation occur. It could, I presume, be ruled that he would have to take it to the Resolutions Committee for consideration.

I have two resolutions to offer to the Executive Committee for consideration. They will not be up now for audience discussion. They are presented now in the presence of the Convention membership so that the members will have time to think about them and discuss them; then they will be acted on tomorrow afternoon at the time of the Presidential Report.

Motion Number One. It is the sense of the Convention that the Newel Perry Award shall be continued and shall be given from time to time to people outside of the movement. The Jacobus tenBroek Award should be established and be given from time to time to people in the movement who have made outstanding contributions to the cause. Are you willing to have that motion adopted? [Moved; seconded. Voice vote—aye; no "no."]

Motion Number Two. It is the sense of the Convention that in the discretion of the President, and as funds will permit, an' annual essay contest be established. Any person, sighted or blind, should be eligible to enter. The subject should be "The Impact Which the Organized Blind Movement Has Had Upon the Lives of Blind People, Is Having, and Will Have." However, the particular topic for each year's essay shall be chosen and publicized to fit within this framework. The National Office of the Federation shall furnish background material and information to enable applicants to do necessary research to write essays, and cash prizes large enough to create real incentive shall be given. We talked in the Executive Committee about the possibility of $1500 as a first prize and, perhaps, $1000 as a second prize, and we talked about the possibility of maybe $500 as a third prize, and four or five smaller prizes. In other words, we really want some research—people knowing about our movement. Do you want to discuss this? I've got a motion and a second. We'll follow the same procedure. We'll see if you need to have a rollcall on it. All those in favor say "aye." [Adopted.]


There was general agreement that the essay contest was a good idea. The Executive Committee felt that it would be good for public relations, that it might bring a higher level of understanding and information about the blind and the National Federation of the Blind, and that, incidentally, some good work might come out of it.

President JERNIGAN. I want to speak a word to you about sponges. We have a fiat, compressed sponge. The Executive Committee talked about this as a possible fundraising device for States. Sponges are available for you to examine and you can take one with you. The sponges look like a piece of cardboard and when put into water they immediately expand into a full-fledged sponge. A real nifty gadget. They have on them the emblem of the NFB and the words National Federation of the Blind, and then there's a blank space for the name of the State if it is wanted. Any State wishing to order any of these sponges in lots of five thousand or more may do so at 12 ½ cents each. There is a ten-dollar charge if you want the name of your State on them. You may want to try these for fundraising, or you may not. If you do not, we've had an interesting souvenir at the Convention. But keep in mind that if we were to use these in any kind of mass way in a State, you've got a good way to remind people of our name. At 12 ½ cents apiece you ought to be able to at least get a quarter out of them and maybe even get more if you use them as a means of inducing contributions to the State or local organization.

We have out in the exhibit area a number of items which you will find of interest—some for sale and some to take with you without cost. NFB jewelry, sterling silver as well as gold. Each person can proclaim to the world that he is a Federationist. We will probably have coasters until the year 2000; they are a valuable asset but one which we would like to begin to reduce. Will you please try to do some fundraising by using coasters. Otherwise the Executive Committee will have to be browbeaten into taking them back to their States each year and selling them forever. It may be harder and harder to get people on the Committee. Coasters may be bought in lots of one hundred at fifty cents per box sold at one dollar. We also have our Christmas records, at two dollars, and past Conventions on record and tape, for sale. There are new thirty-second TV spots—three of them—and new radio spots. Then there are new five-minute programs, made from the interviews last year in Chicago, called "The Pioneers." There's a set of records of those, with forty programs on it. Those are available to you. If you don't spread them around the country, the movement suffers accordingly. If you do the job you should, our publicity will be predominant all over the Nation; and some other publicity, which perhaps it would be just as well not to be so prominently featured, won't be.
So it's up to you. [Applause.]

We are all agreed that we should make a sizable allocation for our struggle against NAC. But we can't make a bigger effort than we have money to make an effort with, and that means that if people will get the publicity out, and if people will help raise money through white cane and other means to help get funds into the national treasury, you can spend them.

Mr. CAPPS. I'd like to see each State affiliate at its own expense send a delegation from their home States, make appointments with their Congressional delegation, organize it well, and discuss this matter in detail with every member of the House and Senate from their respective States. I think that if we do this and coordinate it and have all State affiliates commited to it—perhaps we could pass a resolution or discuss it during the Convention. But I believe this would be an effective road to take.

President JERNIGAN. I think you should know that I was called by Dialogue magazine and asked if they would be permitted to have somebody at this Convention monitoring, and taking notes, and preparing to write an article. I said that all of our meetings were open. We have said in the past that Dialogue has not written objective articles, that they have been biased in their presentations and I told the man that—with as much courtesy and forthrightness as I could. I believe that perhaps Mr. Kimbrough is here. I don't know. I haven't seen him. But I would say that when he was in Chicago many of our people told me that at the NAC demonstration his conduct and his comments were anything other than unbiased or objective. I don't know whether we'll get an unbiased article out of him or not—or any article. I think we should talk to him, let him be in any of our sessions, that we should listen to whatever he wants to say—in other words that we ought to have interchange with him. Frankly, I have pretty much given up on Dialogue's being fair or objective with us, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't have a right to come and visit and see what we do, and that they shouldn't have a right to talk with any of us and make their judgments, because they have a right to be wrong. [Laughter.] If you are here, Mr. Kimbrough, we're glad to have you here. We're probably going to disagree with you most profoundly, but more power to you.

Mr. NAGLE. Every Congressman and every Senator has at least one office—and some have several—in their districts in the State, and they are available. Oftentimes the Senators and Congressmen are there weekends. Staff people are on duty at all times. They could be seen by local chapters and by State delegations at little expense to the State organization or the local chapter. It's not necessary to refrain from doing something because it would be extremely expensive. It can be done on a local basis and perhaps better than if you went to Washington and weren't able to see them.

President JERNIGAN. That's a good idea. I think that we ought to do these things. I think first our own members should read the material available and become informed in depth so that they can't be bamboozled and outargued. There's enough material now and you can't go and argue about what you don't understand. So our people ought to read the NAC material and know what we are talking about. That's the first thing. Second, I think that our people ought to go, in as large numbers as they can, to the local offices of Congressmen and Senators in their home States and make representations that they want those Congressmen and Senators to see that NAC's money is cut off through HEW and to see that HEW withdraws its recognition of NAC as an accrediting agency through the office of Education, also to see that HEW does not give any official sanction or recognition at all to NAC. In addition, we ought to go to State legislators, and to newspapers, and to the public in general in our own States, and make representations that the tax money and the United Fund money which should go to serve blind people is going instead to pay NAC dues and NAC on-site inspections.

Let me give you these figures. Before an agency is accredited by NAC it must make an application, and there's one hundred dollars—or approximately that—for incidental expenses, and then they must pay for the on-site review team to come and study them after they've made their own study of themselves. The on-site review team comes at the expense of the agency. Some of the schools for the blind have told me that nine, ten, or eleven people have come to study them and it's cost the institution anywhere from $1200 to $2000 and up; then, in addition to that, each year the agency must pay fifty dollars per one hundred thousand of its total budget. So that if an agency has one million dollars in budget it would pay five hundred dollars a year dues to NAC, and so on down—it can't pay less than fifty dollars or more than five hundred dollars. Then, in addition to that, at least every five years the on-site review team must come back and you've got another one or two thousand dollars to pay. You can reach your legislators and your public by saying that all this money is supposedly helping the blind, but it's really hurting us, and they're taking our tax dollars—which you appropriated—and you think are going to help us—and those tax dollars are really going to support NAC. That will be effective. You, the local Federation members, must assume the responsibility for going to the homes of NAC people and going to the businesses of NAC people and making representations to them. If that doesn't work, picketing and visible demonstrations must be tried. I think, beyond all of that, letters should be written to the Washington offices of Congressmen and Senators. Finally, I think, as we can, and as funds will permit, the National Office if it must, and the State Federation affiliates if they can, ought to pool resources and we ought to have a great turnout sometime next year in Washington and go and speak to Congress as a body.
[Loud cheers and applause.]


A variety of other business was discussed by the President and the Executive Committee. Many of these matters are reported more fully in the Presidential Report or in actions taken by the Convention.

The President introduced a number of guests. Prominent among those were Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Bonnell. Mrs. Bonnell is a Commissioner of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Also a Commissioner for that agency is Federationist Elwyn Hemkin, who was, of course, taking an active part in all the proceedings. Our guests from overseas, at least those who had arrived by this time, were also introduced.

President JERNIGAN. I want to say a few words to you about an overview of our financing during the past year. The Federation during the past year had higher expenditures than it has ever had. This is to be expected in view of the program and the level of activity. We were able, however, to bring in the necessary money. But keep in mind that the results of our mail campaign in the fall very often are not known until January or February of the following year; and, therefore, we're dealing with expenditures for '72, but we're dealing with receipts partly from '71 and '72. Since we had some problems in some of our mail campaigns last fall, there is some distortion in these figures. You will be getting a full financial report later, but just let me say to you that none of us should figure that we're flush and can afford to be lax with our money. This is money that we raise with great effort on the part of many individual members as well as hard work in our campaigns; and we should, therefore, act accordingly. Every penny we spend should give us at least a penny's worth of return, and maybe two. We were able to add a little more to our reserve fund than last year, so we're beginning to build some cushion against problems.


The President reviewed other matters, such as the expansion of office facilities and the moving of mail-opening operations. The President then went into a discussion of our problems with NAC and reported in full on the NAC confrontation in Chicago. (See the report printed elsewhere in this issue.) After talking about what the National Office and the State affiliates might do in their contacts with State legislators, the Congress, and the public generally, he then went on:

President JERNIGAN. I want to show you one letter that I know of, and let you hear that. We had a member of NAC's board in Des Moines, one Robert Buckley. He is no longer a member of the board. He told me that he wrote a letter to Alexander Handel because he was concerned. He tried to get information. Mr. Handel wrote back and gave him doubletalk, and Buckley said he wasn't going to be part of an outfit that did that. But when I asked Mr. Buckley if he would give me the letter so that we could use it he said that he didn't want to get into controversy. Yet, he'd got into controversy before. Many people will back away. Let me let you hear, under date of April 23, 1973, a letter from Patty Schaaf, who is president of the local Federation chapter in Des Moines. This is the kind of approach which might be considered by those of you who have a NAC Board member in your area.

DEAR MR. BUCKLEY: I wrote you on April 12, and you replied on April 17. The tone and substance of your letter are of such a nature that I must now put aside subtleties and speak to you directly.

You have been on the NAC Board for many months. Your repeated statements that you are not really well informed are not becoming. They are not signs of modesty. Rather, they smack of evasion and an unwillingness to face responsibility. If you are not informed about what NAC is doing after all of these months, what right have you to sit on the board and make decisions affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of blind people?

A number of blind people talked to you in December. That is all they got—talk. Since that time I have talked with you, and we have exchanged phone calls and letters. Nothing has happened, and apparently you are now tired of even talking. In the meantime NAC continues (with you as part of it) to hurt blind people. Not only have you failed to do anything about it during all of these months but you now tell us that no purpose can be served in even talking about it until you decide to make up your mind.

What right have you to say that no purpose can be served by holding a meeting with the blind of this area? This may be your opinion, but surely it is not reasonable for you to have the sole power to make the decision. NAC is a tiny part of your total activities, but it is a major factor in determining whether we have opportunity and a chance for a good life. Under the circumstances we have more at stake than you do, and it is hard to see how you can morally justify your refusal to meet with us. You say that you will have made up your mind by the time the NAC meeting is over in July, but we want some input in the making of that decision.

If you have a Friday meeting that occurs every week and is of such major importance that you can't miss it even once for a meeting with us, then pick a time of your own choosing for a meeting with our chapter, and we will try to accommodate you. Yes, I realize that we do not have the physical force to make you do what you ought to do, but I hope your own conscience will do the job.

Let me settle this business about picketing your home and your local place of business. It is my understanding that you indicated at the December meeting with the local blind that you would find it most unpleasant if such picketing were done but that you believed this would be more effective than picketing at the national meetings of NAC. We agree with you.

Please realize the importance of NAC in our lives, and do not force us into actions which will hurt and embarrass us as well as you. We mean what we say, and if you put us to the test, you can prove whether I am telling you the truth. Probably more than a hundred blind people can and will picket and demonstrate at both your home and your office on a continuing basis if necessary. We absolutely must find some way to get you to deal seriously with a problem which is vital in our lives as blind people and which partly centers on you.

We are asking you to meet with our full local membership: We are asking you to hear us and to talk with us about NAC. We believe you have a moral responsibility to do this. We believe your letter is condescending and patronizing.

Please let me know by letter whether you will meet with us, and please try to understand the importance of this matter to us and the urgency we feel about it. The NAC question has to be solved, and we cannot wait longer to begin the solution.

Yours very truly,


During the next year I believe we face a critical time with NAC. I believe that by that time NAC will have begun to give way before us or that our momentum will have begun to blunt. We must not let the blunting occur.

Let me move quickly on to some other items. The Iowa lawsuit, you remember, we discussed last year at Convention time. Then it had just been filed. People were trying to get at the Federation through me and through my position as Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. We won in the lower courts; our opponents appealed to the Supreme Court; they did not meet their time deadlines on briefs; the Supreme Court gave them some extra time; we're now facing them in the Supreme Court of Iowa. My guess is they will lose in the Supreme Court. If they do lose that's the end of the line for them; if they win we simply go back and continue the trial. I can assure you that whatever it takes, we will not falter and we will not in any sense back up in the matter. But I think that the Iowa lawsuit is well on the way to solution. [Applause.]

We have had other lawsuits in the past year. You have heard from Evelyn Weckerly, today. We won that lawsuit and that's laid to rest. Margaret Barlow is a teacher in the Cleveland area. She was unjustly fired, we believe, and that case is in the courts. The National Office is helping her. We are engaged, as you know, in a struggle with the Cleveland Society for the Blind. You can read about that in The Monitor. It will cost us many thousands of dollars before we're through; but it's money we must spend because we cannot let matters of that type go unchallenged.

You will be interested in knowing—and you will hear more about it later—that we have launched a lawsuit in the Denver area, squarely on a constitutional issue. Denver has guidelines which make it impossible for a blind person or a visually impaired person to teach in their schools. We're challenging the school district on the constitutional issue in the Federal courts and asking that the school be ordered to take affirmative action by hiring a blind teacher. We have such a teacher. Again, it will cost money. But if we win that case—and win it we must, and win it we will—if we do that then we will have made some interesting and good and productive, useful Federal case law for ourselves.

The National Federation of the Blind of Missouri lawsuit is still in progress. That one is not settled yet. It is on appeal in the courts. I told you last year that we were in the midst of fighting some cases in one State where two blind women (by coincidence in the same county and in the same court) were denied the right to keep their children. Blindness was a factor in both cases. This matter has been fought in the State courts and I am sorry to tell you that at the present time we have lost in that case. We're not through with such cases. I think this is terrible. There are some other factors involved but there can be no question that blindness played a major part in the court's decision that these blind women could not have their children. Yet, Mr. Barnett of the Foundation says that blind people are not the victims of discrimination. [Groans.]

I also must tell you that we are fighting in the Minneapolis Society case. You can see a summation in the June Monitor. We are, again, still in the courts and the matter is not settled. The National Office, to the extent of its resources and capacity, will help in that case; and we are helping in it. I will also tell you that there is a case in Kansas where a man was denied the right to have insurance when he wanted to travel on a public carrier. We are in the midst of trying to do something about that case and we hope to settle it satisfactorily.

Some of our cases did not have to come to court. Those of you who are Monitor readers will observe and remember that one Mr. Kramer tried to get insurance from Travelers to ride on a bus-Travelers Insurance. I wrote to them and told them I thought it was discrimination and asked them on what basis they made the decision denying insurance. They wrote back and said that they had examined their conscience and their records and couldn't find any good reason, and they were changing the policy of the company. [Cheers and applause.]

The Braille Monitor is our most influential organ of communication and our bond of cohesion. The Monitor costs us in the neighborhood of $150,000 a year. But I think it's worth it. It's by far the most influential publication in the field. [Applause.] My information is that the New Outlook for the Blind, which is the publication of the American Foundation for the Blind, has a total publication of about 3200. You will hear later what the circulation of The Monitor is. It's many times that much.


You remember that we had quite a bit of discussion last year about whether we should train lawyers to help blind people. I said at that time that already the authority existed to do it and that we would do a good deal of that in the coming year. We did. As a matter of fact there are several. A man named John Wellman who is blind and in the private practice of law and who lived in Connecticut, and currently lives in Iowa—we have been giving him some help and training in our specific case material, and he's been helping with some of the cases. But then there are some others. There is a man from Ohio, named Mark Frost. Mr. Frost is here. He contacted me about a case he's involved in where a blind person was the victim of discrimination. He's handling that case. He's a young lawyer. I told him to come to the Convention, that we'd pay his way here, and work with him because we wanted to train him up and use him in other cases in that area and in this part of the country. Mr. Frost will be here for the whole week. [Applause.] The two lawyers from Cleveland who are handling our Cleveland Society vending-stand case came and spent several days with me in Des Moines working in our files. Again we handled costs on that. The lawyer from Denver who's handling the case there came and spent several days at National Office expense and we worked on that. And then I've worked with a parcel of local lawyers in Iowa trying to get them involved in our material. So we're beginning to train up a bunch of lawyers. [Applause.] We're not training them in the law; we're training them in the business of our philosophy and what we're doing.

I could talk to you about legislation but John Nagle will do that later. But I will just say that the Disability Insurance bill is introduced and a landmark was reached when we got Wilbur Mills as a co-sponsor this time. [Applause.] Ralph Sanders of Arkansas helped to do that and deserves credit for it. I did what I could. We went and talked to Wilbur Mills. I said to him, "Congressman, if you would just help us co-sponsor this we could pass it." And he surprised me, and very pleasantly, when he said, "I don't know whether my name will help pass it, but we'll see. I'll do it."

I have been invited to go to the American Association of Workers for the Blind Convention later this month and to speak on "Work With the Blind: Who Are the Consumers, and What Do They Want?" I was invited by Mr. Whitstock, who is the president-elect. Cleo Dolan, who is head of the Cleveland Society for the Blind, is president of AAWB. I'm sure that he was not aware at the time that I was invited, that I was; and I don't know how he'll feel about it, but I intend when I go there, firmly with calmness and reason, to talk -among other things-about the Cleveland Society lawsuit. [Cheers and

I want to talk to you for a moment about a few other items that I think are important. I would like to talk a little bit about the presidency of the NFB, and about what I see as the problems ahead and about what I see about where we go as an organization. Some people say that I spend all my time working for the Federation. That is not true as the Iowans can tell you. I certainly spend more than forty hours a week working as Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind but I also spend more than forty hours a week working for the Federation. And I do that by working every night until close to ten o'clock and then working all day Saturday and all day Sunday, every Saturday and Sunday. I'm not telling you that because I feel like a martyr. I chose to do it, and you chose to have me do it, and I'm happy with it, so I'm not complaining about it. I'm telling you because I want you to help me make the job possible. It is a volunteer job; it is something that I can only do with your help; and I can't do it otherwise. I had somebody write to me last year and say, "Will you please write up scripts for our TV announcements." My answer was: "You've got the TV public service spots and I helped make them. Get a sixteen-millimeter projector, listen to the sound track, and copy the scripts for yourself." [Applause.] I write many letters a week for the Federation and some of them require research. That's a job. So you can help me greatly by remembering this: If you write me a letter and it does not require an answer, say so. Write on the bottom of your letter: "There is no need to reply to this letter." Otherwise courtesy and consideration for you will tend to make me acknowledge your letter, even if it does not seem to require an answer. Don't send me cassettes or tapes because they take about ten times longer to read than regular letters. I can tell you that you can send them and I won't complain about it, but I won't listen to them. There is simply no way. The time is not there. Somebody not long ago sent me a cassette and put a print letter inside the package. By the time I got around to the cassette, which I ultimately did several months later, there was the letter. That's a good way not to get the letter looked at. And you can see why.

Don't feel that I have to come to your State convention or, that if I don't, I've insulted you. I can't go to every State convention; it's not possible. I'll send people as I can, and as manpower and money will permit. In this connection State affiliates should do what they reasonably can to contribute toward expenses of a National representative coming to their conventions or meetings.

Some other things that you can do to help. When you write for literature, let us know what form you want it in—Braille, print, or record. When you send me a list of officers send that list to Mrs. tenBroek and tell me that you've sent it and then I won't have to send a copy to her. Send materials directly to Perry Sundquist, Editor of The Monitor, and send me a copy and tell me that it is a copy so that I won't have to wonder if you have already sent it to Perry. One person wrote a letter last year and said that he had placed an order for material at the Chicago Convention but we found that in reality the order had been placed in the name of somebody else. So be specific when you're writing to me. Some people write and ask if I'll do research in The Monitor for them to find out where certain things are; and the answer usually is "No, I won't." I can't.

I want to show you another kind of letter. Usually the letters I get from Federationists are pleasant and are fun. Sometimes they're not. Let me give you an example of one. I got a letter not long ago from a man who had written me two weeks before. I'd already answered his letter but I got a registered letter this time. It was just in June of this year saying:

DEAR MR. JERNIGAN: This registered letter follows by approximately two weeks my letter of May 21. A few members of your ------- chapter so expressed their trust and confidence in the work I am attempting to do for them that I'm certain that they would be very much grateful to have the Federation showing some support and interest for them by simple acknowledgement of my letter. I realize that a decision regarding the implementation of benefit plans for your members [this is a guy that wants to sell some insurance to us] will be a long time forthcoming. This is the usual case. But at least your answer to my first letter would definitely prove to your members here in this area that you are truly considering the problem. Please advise. If you have already made a reply to my first letter and I haven't received it due to the normal Post Office delay, then please disregard this letter. [Laughter.]

So I wrote him back and told him that I had already written concerning his first letter and that I didn't need him to tell me about the relationship I ought to have with the local Federation members, that we'd handle that ourselves. [Applause.] I also told him that he ought to take a course in salesmanship if he wanted to sell us some insurance. [Cheers.] But what I'm really saying to you is that there are problems sometimes with getting a letter answered. I answer them as quickly as I can. I get letters, also, that are heartwarming and touching and they're what balance the others.

Let me not take much more time, now, but let me just say these other things. Don't wait until time for your convention and then ask for literature from the National Office. It means that we have to send it by air freight and that's expensive. So don't do that. Let me know ahead of time, if you can. Don't, as one man did, call me at midnight my time, and ask me to send you literature. [Laughter.] These are all don'ts. But, as I say, there are more plusses than minuses in this. I have people write to other people and tell them I'll be glad to write them letters about one thing and another and sometimes I have time and sometimes I don't.

Let me conclude in this manner. I think that the presidency of the Federation, as I indicated this morning in another context, belongs to the membership. I believe that I have obligations and that I assumed those by taking the presidency. I am willing to use myself up in your service as much as I can. I only urge that you use me wisely because there's only so much of me to use. I say to you that some people talk about how we behave in the Federation and I'm not concerned much about what people outside of our movement say. I am concerned only about how we feel inside the movement about the relationship. With respect to that, I believe that you did not elect me simply to be a chairman of a group devoid of a program. I believe that you elected me to lead. In that connection let me say a few words about politicking: I wish to make it perfectly clear that I engage in internal politics in the Federation. So when somebody once said to me that he believed an election was railroaded, I said, of course it was railroaded if you mean by railroaded that the administration took some part in suggesting, working, and politicking about it, because I believe that the head of a political action group is expected to be the political head of that group and I didn't lose my rights of citizenship by becoming President of the Federation. I'm going to go out and try to persuade people to vote the way I think they ought to vote on issues, and if anybody disagrees he can go out and try to persuade them his way. That's perfectly fair and proper. [Applause.] I'll take my chances in the political process and he'll have to take his. My concept of the presidency is that I'm not just a chairman and without a program. I have said to you, and I say again, that I think you elected me to lead. I will not in any sense duck the fire. I will not in any sense back up. I won't ask you to do what I won't do. As long as I'm President of this outfit, I'm going to lead it. [Loud cheers and prolonged applause.] Thank you very much.

I have these other things. To show you some volume in the office and something of where we're getting in our movement, I wonder if you have any idea how much in the way of materials we're now sending from the Des Moines Office to blind people throughout the country, and in our general public relations program. Well, let me tell you this. During the time from July—that is, last year's Convention—up through May 31 of this year, we sent from the Des Moines Office 196,049 pieces of material, for a daily average of 891. [Applause.] Let me now quickly read you these two motions. You heard them most of you at the Executive Committee yesterday.

[The President presented for consideration and vote of the Convention the motions adopted by the Executive Committee: one dealing with the Newel Perry and Jacobus tenBroek Awards, and the other with the establishment of an essay contest. Both were unanimously adopted by the Convention.]

I feel that it is my job as President to be on the cutting edge of the movement—to lead and do the best I can to try to get equal rights and opportunities for blind persons and not to count the costs. This I am willing to do. I believe you have an obligation to support me in that and help me do it: give assistance everywhere you can and to stand as solid as a rock with me. If we do that, I have no doubt that whatever comes we absolutely will prevail, and that's what I think we have to do in our obligations to each other. If you are willing to accept this report, I would like a motion on that. If that is done I will understand that you approve the things that I have outlined here to do and that you are willing that I should try to do them. [Moved and seconded to approve the report.] Is there any discussion of given items that you would like to see changed in this report, or things you want done or not done? [The report approved unanimously.]


The President brought a number of other matters to the attention of the Convention—among them the absence of two State affiliate presidents, Robert Lancaster of Indiana and Richard Parker of Nebraska. Bob Lancaster had what appeared to be a mild stroke just a week before the national Convention and reports say that he will make a complete recovery. He has been a vital force in the development of our Indiana affiliate. During his two years in office the Indiana affiliate has developed three new chapters and instituted a State series of presidential releases to keep its members informed of State Federation activities. Plans are also going ahead for a State newsletter.

Right after putting together a most successful State convention in early June, Dick Parker suffered a series of heart attacks. Vera Auen, secretary of the NFB of Nebraska reported later in the month:

As I write this my heart is full of appreciation for God's great power and I have a great feeling of deep humility for all that has happened since our convention .... The reason for humility and thanks to God? President Parker planned this convention with the help of his good wife, Barbara. He knew what he wanted and so he plunged on, whipping together a very successful session. Then on the next afternoon, June 3, he suffered a massive heart attack and was confined in the cardiac intensive-care unit at an Omaha hospital.

This attack was followed by two more severe attacks in ten days, plus a bout with pneumonia. We all prayed and asked our friends to pray. Thanks to God, Dick went home to recuperate on June 26. His activities are greatly limited and he had the disappointment of giving up his trip to New York for the NFB Convention. Dick struggled for his life many hours and at no time did his dedication to his NFB work falter. This was evidenced by the few words he was able to utter as he gained consciousness periodically. . . . Contrary to the impression those of you who do not know Dick Parker may have formed, he isn't ready for all this scarey business—Dick is twenty-eight years old.

Messages went from the Convention to both State presidents.

At another point in the proceedings, the NFB President read a round of correspondence between himself and an ardent Federationist in New York.

President JERNIGAN. Here's a letter I want you to hear. See if you think that it is relevant to what we're doing in this Convention. I do. It's from Frieda Wolff of New York to me, last fall. She says:

A small group of us is trying to help the sheltered shop employees in New York City. After hearing about our project somebody said to me: "I suppose you got nowhere in this task." I said to her that as long as we're taking a step, as long as we're trying, this means that we've got somewhere. It's a first step; a beginning. A friend of mine and I were trying to help [she mentions a name] and we spoke with this person at our New York City convention in September. Not only are we trying to help her but we're also trying to help many other persons in this city in sheltered shops who earn so little money; that is, when they're not laid off. Some people have said that we should quit right now; that we can't do anything for those morons." I think differently. I don't believe in quitting when I do something. I don't believe in treating anybody like a moron because he hasn't had the opportunity he should have had. I believe we must keep trying. I feel that we have made a start.

I responded to her in this manner:

DEAR FRIEDA: I have your letter and it is heartwarming. You are right. The very fact that we try to do something is a first step. In fact, it is the most important step we will ever take. Freedom begins in the heart of the individual. It does not begin in large meetings and with massive resources. These things come later after the battle is well on the way to being won. They are visible manifestations of the hope and determination which can only begin with the individual. Don't let anybody discourage you from continuing to do what you are doing. Fight for the rights of [I mention the name of the person] and others like her in your city and throughout the country. Fight for those who are being paid subminimum wages in the sheltered shops and being denied the rights of other workers. Fight for the rights of blind people everywhere, and never, never let anybody convince you that the struggle is useless or that your efforts, though small, are unimportant. The forces arrayed against us have power. They have money. They also have tradition and custom. They have the ancient fear which man has always felt for the dark and the symbolism which we have come to associate with light. Even so they are bound to lose. We have right and we have justice on our side and we have guts and unshakeable determination. Once the fires of freedom have been kindled in the human heart nothing can ever snuff them out again. There will be discouragements and setbacks, heartaches and troubles and bitter disappointments but the future is ours. I feel as certain of that as I do of the innate normality and competence of the average blind person. So, Frieda, continue to fight the good fight. Continue to believe in the sacred character and worthwhileness of what you are doing. I will stand with you in the battle as will tens of thousands of Federationists throughout the country. We will fight for our cause and each other until hell freezes over and then, if necessary, we will chop a hole in the ice.

Program Summary

Among other interesting facts about the workings of the Berkeley Office, Hazel tenBroek brought to light one which illustrates the Federation's great growth in size and influence—in the last five years ten thousand readers have been added to The Monitor lists. She made her annual plea for more timely arrival on the Editor's desk of State convention reports and other news items for printing in The Monitor; and reminded us that the deadline for articles is the twentieth of the month, two months before publication. For example, the deadline for the November Monitor is September 20. If articles from newspapers are sent for publication, it would save time if permission to reprint, in writing, came along with the clippings. Otherwise Editor Sundquist must write a letter asking for permission to reprint the article and then must wait for the reply before the news item can appear in The Monitor. Mrs. tenBroek noted with some satisfaction the growing number of State publications. Some are only one-page mimeographed sheets but they serve to keep members informed of what is going on in the State and national organizations and make members realize that they belong to both and that both belong to them. Editor Perry Sundquist and Associate Editor Hazel tenBroek would appreciate being on the mailing list of each State publication.

Dr. Jacob Freid, Executive Director of the Jewish Braille Institute of America, gave an inspiring review of his agency—one which is of, by, and for the blind-and its relationship to the NFB, about which you will find more in this issue.

Developments during the past year in the Optacon were discussed by Vito Proscia, one of the vice-presidents of Telesensory Systems. He gave details about new accessories, new applications, and new opportunities afforded by this instrument.

Larry McKeever, president of Lariam Associates and the well-known voice of the talking-book edition of The Monitor, introduced us to "The Pioneers" and some other new radio and television spots which he has prepared for the NFB. "The Pioneers" are Federationists, engaged in a variety of occupations, whom Mr. McKeever interviewed at last year's Convention. This series of forty five-minute programs is designed to inform the public about the abilities of the blind.

Georgia, our newest affiliate—how it was organized, how it is functioning, and how it plans for the future—was the subject of a panel discussion by those who participated in its formation. First Vice-President Donald Capps served as chairman of this panel and the participants were Richard Webb, the new affiliate's president: and its vice-president, Anderson Frazer; Kim Peterson, Peggy Pinder, and Patricia Schaaf, all of Iowa; Marshall Tucker of South Carolina; and Harvey Webb of Louisiana.

"Action in the States: Federationism in Depth" brought two very interesting reports to the membership: One was a report of the mobilization of New York shopworkers under the leadership of Rita Chernow, president of the New York City Chapter of the NFB of New York State, and Frieda Wolff, secretary of the NFB Sheltered Shop Employees Division. The other was the story of North Carolina's efforts to revitalize its State agency through the fine and vigorous efforts of the NFB of North Carolina led by its president, Hazel Staley.

Carl Jarvis, president of the NFB of Washington, reported in depth on the efforts of his affiliate, through grass roots involvement, to escape the umbrella-like structure of government.

A featured panel discussion on the program was one dealing with "Employment for the Blind: New Careers, New Perspectives." It was chaired with his usual aplomb by President Jernigan, and the participants were blind persons in unusual occupations. The panel members were Larry Powell, Amway Distributor of Pontiac, Michigan; Ralph Sanders, owner of Concept-three, an advertising, public relations, and marketing firm, of little Rock, Arkansas; James Wantz, who is a meteorologist with the National Weather Bureau in Kansas City, Missouri; and Walter Weber, a tax consultant with the Internal Revenue Service in Richmond, Virginia.

Judy Miller eloquently traced the history of the struggle in her State of Colorado to break down the so-called "guidelines" of the Denver School System which effectively bar the hiring of any blind person as a teacher, under the heading "On the Barricades in the Denver School System: Discrimination in Hiring." She was assisted in her report by Lyle Neff, president of the NFB of Colorado.

One of the notable evidences of growth in the NFB was the number of young people attending this Convention. Marc Maurer, president of the Student Division, recounted the efforts and reported on the strong surge of organization among our young members in the cause of Federationism, when he addressed the Convention on "The Student Division: Dynamics of Action."

All the NFB division chairmen and/or presidents reported their activities during the past year and outlined plans for the future in a panel discussion chaired by Teachers Division President Robert Acosta. Participants were: James Lewis, Blind Lawyers Division; Anita O'Shea, National Association of Blind Secretaries and Transcribers; Janiece Peterson, Music Divison; Robert Ray, National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science; James Ryan, Blind Merchants Division; Ysidro Urena, Sheltered Shop Employees Division.

"The Federation in the World," a panel discussion which brought us reports of past and current activities by the NFB's Cultural Exchange and International Program Committee (CEIP), was chaired by Robert Hunt of West Virginia and Dr. Isabelle L. D. Grant, Treasurer of the International Federation of the Blind and Editor of the Braille International. Our distinguished guests from abroad were presented to the Convention. The list of foreign visitors (some of whom arrived later in the week) included: Mr. and Mrs. John Broadley, of Edinburgh, Scotland (Mr. Broadley is manager and editor of the Scottish Braille Press); Fred Kemara and Mr. K. Khallone, of Sierra Leone; Paul Kasanzu, of Kenya; John Rae, Mr. and Mrs. Wolanski, and Mr. and Mrs. Monk, all from Canada.

Other program events and papers are dealt with separately in this issue. Some will probably be held for the October Monitor.


The Convention heard a number of quite remarkable addresses during the regular sessions. They were led off by President Jernigan's delightful, witty comparison of the inconveniences of left-handedness and blindness: "A Left-handed Dissertation: Open Letter to a Federationist" [published in the July 1973 issue of The Braille Monitor]. The familiar cry of "right on" was changed to "left on" by the many "lefties" present, and even to "left and right on" for the duration of our stay, and probably forever where Federationists gather.

HEW had promised Congress that it would appoint an independent team to do an on-site review of NAC's activities. The atrocious, self-serving attempt by HEW to save its face and that of NAC by the use of a hand-picked and hand-packed "independent" review team was revealed in a devastatingly cool, incisive analysis by Dr. Richard B. Wilson, professor of political science at the University of Colorado, who served as a member of that on-site team. [See "NAC—Rationalization of Tokenism" elsewhere in this issue.]

Sumner Whittier from the Social Security Administration [whose address on the Social Security Amendments of 1972 is printed elsewhere in this issue] listed the many longtime goals of the Federation which became solid achievements in the terms of H.R. 1 and the subsequent social-security legislation just adopted by Congress and signed by the President. He said: "When we list many of the things that the bill achieves, as you intended, I think that you feel, with a sense of immense pride, what organization can do, what a united strong voice can do. You have made long progress, great progress toward your long-held goals." And he listed nationalization of payments; payments under Social Security instead of welfare to remove the stigma of the latter program; receipt of assistance as a right, not a privilege; no more liens; no more responsibility of relatives; the flat grant; the protection of special needs; and incentive earned income, among others.

Mr. E. B. Whitten, executive director of the National Rehabilitation Association, headquartered in Washington, D.C., spoke to us on "NRA Takes a Look at Consumerism." He pointed out quite frankly that:

It is a relatively small proportion of NRA's membership that gives priority to this subject sufficiently high to have moved the association in the direction it is going. On the other hand, it is encouraging that NRA has met minimum resistance in its membership in the steps that it has taken.

It is fair to state that the present leadership of the National Rehabilitation Association, which includes, of course, its staff and its board of directors, believes that consumerism is an important area of concern for all of us. It has demonstrated this feeling in a practical way by electing a nonvoting member of the board of directors who represents an organization of consumers. This was because we didn't get what we called a representative of consumers through the normal election processes.

I do believe that NRA recognizes some of the problems at least that confront consumers in dealing with rehabilitative institutions, whether this be the State rehabilitation agency or a rehabilitation facility or a workshop. NRA would like to understand the real nature of the problems that are confronting handicapped people as they deal with these institutions. NRA would like to be a force in the solutions of the problems that we are sure are there.

Now I've observed the National Federation of the Blind over a period of twenty-five years. In my judgment it has been a real leader in consumerism as related to handicapped individuals. ... I frequently point out to other organized groups of handicapped people that they could very well study the history and methods of the National Federation of the Blind as they chart their own courses.

He then pointed out that while his organization, NRA, and the NFB have not always agreed, there have been many more areas of cooperation than otherwise and that each organization has respect for the opinions of the other. "There is much room for cooperation between our organizations and I am heartily looking forward to a much more effective and productive relationship in the future."

Dr. Jacob Freid, whose subject was "The Jewish Braille Institute of America—An Agency Of, By, and For the Blind," reviewed the founding and history of his organization. It is an organization dedicated to the integration of not only the Jewish blind, but all blind people, into the mainstream of society. It did not take either Dr. Freid or the Institute long to join hands with the National Federation of the Blind to forward their common goals. He wound up his presentation as follows:

Let me sum up our combined philosophy—the JBI and the NFB. We're serving notice, we are putting on our war paint. On Friday we will sally forth to do battle with those who deny the blind the democratic right to determine their own destiny and future. There is here in this hall a sense of vigor, fervor, determination, dedicated willingness, and able intelligence to unite behind the efforts to have a vital role in bettering the conditions under which the blind live and of fulfilling the promise of the American dream: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of all, the blind no less than the sighted. We know there are vital issues at stake whose handling will affect our lives for a generation. These issues involve burning questions and answers: How do we take the reins of power, or at least become co-equal drivers with the people of power who dominate the boards of our agencies? How also do we unmask the company unions of the blind who sell their freedom birthright for a mess of agency pottage, or our blind Uncle Toms who betray their fellows for the establishment's thirty pieces of silver, and finally, how do we force the establishment to share its power with the blind? Further we ask, should the United States Government, through its Health, Education, and Welfare Department, continue to subsidize an undemocratic agency like NAC? Since this is what we believe, it is no wonder that we have anathemas flung at the leaders of the blind. . . . We don't play according to the Emily Post rules; we want to revolutionize the established order as it relates to and affects the blind. They are right. We have seen their self-righteous powers deny us our equal right to participation and decision in determining the circumstances that influence our lives. . . . The battle is joined. We know that liberty is the courage to resist. We are determined to overcome and achieve a more just and equal status for the blind and the right to be the primary voice in setting forth and attaining equality, security, and opportunity. . . .

We've come a long way. We still have a distance to go. But our fate is in our own hands to insist upon having a proper decision in determining our own destiny and-through equality of education, training, and opportunity—to merit God's grace by our own talents and abilities. In that goal we are joined with you, now and forever. [Loud cheers and applause.]

Internal Business

Elections this year were for Executive Committee Board positions only. Reelected for two-year terms were Kenneth Hopkins of Idaho, Shirley Lebowitz of Connecticut, and Perry Sundquist of California. Elected to a two-year term was Ralph Sanders of Arkansas. Elected to a one-year term, to complete the term of Manuel Urena, was "Colonel" Bob Whitehead of Kentucky.

Anthony Mannino, National White Cane Chairman; Lawrence Marcelino, chairman of the Jacobus tenBroek Memorial Fund; and Perry Sundquist, chairman of the Subcommittee on Budget and Finance gave very full accounts of the Federation business entrusted to their charge.


John Nagle, Chief of the NFB's Washington Office, ably assisted by Perry Sundquist, reviewed and reported upon the latest legislative developments in social security. This included, of course, the current status of our Disability Insurance for the Blind bill. The most significant amendments made this year to the Social Security Act were a requirement that all States supplement the Federal grant of $130 a month, effective January 1, 1974, in sufficient amounts so that no blind, aged, or disabled person shall receive less than he did in December 1973; and a 5.6 percent increase in all Social Security benefits, effective in July 1974.

The legislative program of the National Federation of the Blind, including the matters mentioned above, will be treated more fully in the October issue of The Monitor.

Rickard Scholarship Committee

The Reverend Howard May, chairman of the NFB Scholarship Committee, submitted the following report:

The choice of the Scholarship Committee to receive the Rickard Scholarship for 1973 was John Barrie, of Schenectady, New York. The Scholarship will help Mr. Barrie to complete his master's degree in physics at Rensselaer Institute in Troy, New York. In 1961, Mr. Barrie enrolled as a freshman at Rensselaer. During his first year, he was involved in an accident in a chemistry laboratory, which cost him his sight and right hand. Over the past years, Mr. Barrie has received rehabilitation training and completed his bachelor's degree with great determination and effort. He has worked for General Electric Company in the engineering field, and has confidence that after securing his master's degree he will be qualified for work in physics. We are pleased to have a part in aiding Mr. Barrie to finish his education.

The Scholarship Committee met at the national Convention in New York City. Since there was a limited number of applicants this past year, the committee believes that information about and applications for the Rickard Scholarship must be more widely distributed. We are surprised that few college students seem to know about the NFB and the Rickard Scholarship, and we call upon our State affiliates and local chapters to seek out college students for membership, and as applicants. The Student Division, under President Marc Maurer, has agreed to aid the NFB in promoting its Rickard Scholarship program. Finally, because the Rickard Scholarship has limited eligibility as to fields of study, we feel that a parallel scholarship should be established for those students in the fields of the humanities and social sciences.

This first year as chairman of the Rickard Scholarship Committee has proved interesting, instructive, and revealing to the chairman. I have enjoyed the responsibility and privilege of serving as chairman.

The Banquet

The NFB banquets, the highpoint of all our Conventions, have always been festive affairs. But this year it is hard to find the superlatives to describe the event. The hall was jampacked, the food was superb and was served with an efficiency never before experienced, the crowd was eagerly expectant. Snatches of songs, State cheers, prize-drawing went along with the meal-John Taylor performing his difficult job of master of ceremonies with amazing equanimity.

Many distinguished guests were introduced, and some spoke. Mrs. Norma Levitt, president of the Jewish Braille Institute of America was one of those. Mrs. Levitt is also president of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, and serves as nonappointed delegate to the United Nations. That lovely lady not only pledged the support of her organization toward the integration of the blind into society, and its aid to the National Federation of the Blind, but proved her sincerity by appearing in the front ranks of the marchers on NAC.

The excitement and expectation built to a tremendous pitch and the President was greeted by a great ovation when he rose to speak. This year's banquet address exhibited the President's versatility, for this speech was a complete change of pace from his former ones. In a beautiful literary address, the President, in his lucid and polished style, recounted the rich historical heritage of the blind. And this was no accounting of mendicants and musicians—the traditional role of the blind in the usual historian's view—but a history of men from ancient times to this very day who were and are leaders by virtue of the fact that they were either crusaders or warriors. [This address is reprinted in full elsewhere in this issue.]

John Barrie, a graduate student in physics at Renssalaer Institute, Troy, New York, was the recipient of the 1973 Rickard Scholarship. The presentation was made by the Reverand Howard May, chairman of the NFB Scholarship committee.

Then, in one of the best-kept secrets in the whole of the NFB's existence, the President conferred the Newel Perry Award, which has not been given since 1969, upon that great Federationist, Bernard Gerchen. [The presentation by the President is printed in full elsewhere in this issue.] Mr. Gerchen, who was obviously very touched, replied with his usual graciousness and humor.

To add some frosting to the cake, the President announced just before the evening program came to a close, that he would appear on one of the most widely viewed television shows in the country—the New York Today show—the next morning.

Since the Friday session was to begin at eight o'clock (to make room for program items which would be cut out of their assigned time by the march on NAC) the President's appearance on the Today show meant that he was not the only one who had a short night. Everyone arose early, and sent out to the delicatessen or called room service for breakfast, to make sure that the program would not be missed. It was, as might be expected, just great. It was seen subsequently all around the country, since it is taped for later viewing, as the sun makes its rounds, at the same time—that is, between seven and nine o'clock in the morning—in each separate time zone. Though alternative plans had been made, when we all rushed to the Convention hall to make sure that we would not miss the usual one-hundred-dollar drawing, President Jernigan was ready, gavel in hand, to call the meeting to order. We never did discover how he did that, even though the elevators at the Statler-Hilton are notoriously slow.

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President, National Federation of the Blind
New York City, July 5, 1973

Experts in the field, as well as members of the general public, have differed greatly as to what the future may hold for the blind. Some, seeking to tell it like it is, see us blundering on forever in roles of economic dependency and second-class citizenship. Others, more hopefully, predict a slow but steady progress toward independence, equality, and full membership in society. My own view is that this is not a matter for prediction at all, but for decision. I believe that neither of these possible outcomes is certain or foreseeable, for the simple reason that the choices we make and the actions we take are themselves factors in the determination of the future. In short, we the blind (like all people) confront alternative futures: one future in which we will live our own lives, or another future in which our lives will be lived for us.

But if the future is open and contingent, surely the past is closed and final. Whatever disputes men may have about the shape of things to come, there can be no doubt about the shape of things gone by—the permanent record of history. Or can there? Is there such a thing as an alternative past?

We all know what the historical record tells us. It tells us that, until only yesterday, blind people were completely excluded from the ranks of the normal community. In early societies they were reputedly abandoned, exterminated, or left to fend for themselves as beggars on the lunatic fringe of the community. In the late Middle Ages, so we are told, provision began to be made for their care and protection in almshouses and other sheltered institutions. Only lately, it would seem, have blind people begun stealthily to emerge from the shadows, and to move in the direction of independence and self-sufficiency.

That is what history tells us—or, rather, that is what histories and the historians have told us. And the lesson commonly derived from these histories is that the blind have always been dependent upon the wills and the mercies of others. We have been the people things were done to—and, occasionally, the people things were done for—but never the people who did for themselves. In effect, according to this account, we have no history of our own—no record of active participation or adventure or accomplishment, but only (until almost our own day) an empty and unbroken continuum of desolation and dependency. It would seem that the blind have moved through time and the world not only sightless but faceless—a people without distinguishing features, anonymous and insignificant—not so much as rippling the stream of history.

Nonsense! That is not fact but fable. That is not truth but a lie. In reality the accomplishments of blind people through the centuries have been out of all proportion to their numbers. There are genius, and fame, and adventure, and enormous versatility of achievement-not just once in a great while but again and again, over and over. To be sure, there is misery also—poverty and suffering and misfortune aplenty—just as there is in the general history of mankind. But this truth is only a half-truth—and, therefore, not really a truth at all. The real truth, the whole truth, reveals a chronicle of courage and conquest, of greatness, and even glory on the part of blind people, which has been suppressed and misrepresented by sighted historians—not because these historians have been people of bad faith or malicious intent but because they have been people, with run-of-the-mill prejudice and ordinary misunderstandings. Historians, too, are human; and when facts violate their preconceptions, they tend to ignore those facts.

Now, we are at a point in time when the story of the blind (the true and real story) must be told. For too long the blind have been (not unwept, for there has been much too much of that) but unhonored and unsung. Let us, at long last, redress the balance and right the wrong. Let us now praise our famous men and celebrate the exploits of blind heroes. Rediscovering our true history, we shall, in our turn, be better able to make history; for when people (seeing or blind) come to know the truth, the truth will set them free.

Let us begin with Zisca; patriotic leader of Bohemia in the early fifteenth century, one of history's military geniuses, who defended his homeland in a brilliant campaign against invading armies of overwhelming numerical superiority. Zisca was, in the hour of his triumph, totally blind. The chronicle of his magnificent military effort—which preserved the political independence and religious freedom of his country, and which led to his being offered the crown of Bohemia—is worth relating in some detail. Need I add that this episode is not to be found, except in barest outline, in the standard histories? Fortunately it has been recorded by two historians of the last century—James Wilson, an Englishman writing in 1820, and William Artman, an American writing seventy years later. What do you suppose these two historians have in common, apart from their occupation? You are right: Both were blind. The account of the career of Zisca which follows has been drawn substantially from their eloquent and forceful narratives.

The Council of Constance, which was convened by the Pope in the year 1414 for the purpose of rooting out heresy in the Church-and which commanded John Huss and Jerome of Prague to be burned at the stake—"sent terror and consternation throughout Bohemia . . . ."1 In self-defense the Bohemian people took up arms against the Pope and the emperor. They chose as their commanding general the professional soldier John de Turcznow—better known as Zisca, meaning "one-eyed," for he had lost the sight of an eye in the course of earlier battles. At the head of a force of 40,000 citizen-soldiers—a force not unlike the ragged army that would follow General Washington in another patriotic struggle three centuries later—Zisca marched into combat, only to be suddenly blinded in his remaining eye by an arrow from the enemy.

Here is where our story properly begins. For Zisca, upon his recovery from the injury, flatly refused to play the role of the helpless blind man. "... His friends were surprised to hear him talk of setting out for the army, and did what was in their power to dissuade him from it, but he continued resolute. 'I have yet,' said he, 'to shed my blood for the liberties of Bohemia. She is enslaved; her sons are deprived of their natural rights, and are the victims of a system of spiritual tyranny as degrading to the character of man as it is destructive of every moral principle; therefore, Bohemia must and shall be free.'"2

And so the blind general resumed his command, to the great joy of his troops. When the news came to the Emperor Sigismund "he called a convention of all the states in his empire . . . and entreated them, for the sake of their sovereign, for the honor of their empire, and for the cause of their religion, to put themselves in arms. . . . The news came to Zisca that two large armies were in readiness to march against him. . . . The former was to invade Bohemia on the west, the latter on the east; they were to meet in the center, and as they expressed it, crush this [rebel] between them."3

By all the rules of warfare, by all conventional standards of armament and power, that should have been the end of Zisca and his rabble army. "After some delay the emperor entered Bohemia at the head of his army, the flower of which was fifteen thousand Hungarians, deemed at that time the best cavalry in Europe. . . . The infantry, which consisted of 25,000 men, were equally fine, and well commanded. This force spread terror throughout all the east of Bohemia."4 The stage was set for the fateful climax—the final confrontation and certain obliteration of the upstart rebel forces. "On the 11th of January, 1422, the two armies met on a large plain. . . . Zisca appeared in the center of his front line [accompanied] by a horseman on each side, armed with a poleax. His troops, having sung a hymn, . . . drew their swords and waited for the signal. Zisca stood not long in view of the enemy, and when his officers had informed him that the ranks were well closed, waved his saber over his head, which was the signal of battle, and never was there an onset more mighty and irresistible. As dash a thousand waves against the rock-bound shore, so Zisca rolled his steel-fronted legions upon the foe. The imperial infantry hardly made a stand, and in the space of a few minutes they were disordered beyond the possibility of being rallied. The cavalry made a desperate effort to maintain the field, but finding themselves unsupported, wheeled round and fled ...toward . . . Moravia . . . ."5

It was a total rout and an unconditional victory, but, ". . . Zisca's labors were not yet ended. The emperor, exasperated by his defeat, raised new armies, which he sent against Zisca the following spring. . . . But the blind general, determined that his country should not be enslaved while he had strength to wield a sword, gathered his brave army" and met the enemy yet again, despite fearsome disadvantages in numbers and equipment. "An engagement ensued, in which the [enemy] were utterly routed, leaving no less than nine thousand of their number dead on the field."6

The remaining branch of the grand imperial army, under the command of Sigismund himself, next met a similar fate, and the mighty emperor was compelled to sue for peace at the hands of the blind general. Then there occurred the final magnificent gesture of this extraordinary human being. As the historian Wilson recounts the episode: "Our blind hero, having taken up arms only to secure peace, was glad for an opportunity to lay them down. When his grateful countrymen requested him to accept the crown of Bohemia, as a reward for his eminent services, he respectfully declined."7 And this is what Zisca said: "While you find me of service to your designs, you may freely command both my counsels and my sword, but I will never accept any established authority; on the contrary, my most earnest advice to you is, when the perverseness of your enemies allows you peace, to trust yourselves no longer in the hands of kings, but to form yourselves into a republic, which species of government only can secure your liberties."8

That is the true story of Zisca—military genius, patriot, freedom fighter, statesman, and blind man. Extraordinary as his heroism was, it exceeds only in degree the story of yet another blind Bohemian—King John, the blind monarch who fell in the historic Battle of Cressy, which engaged the energies and cost the lives of many of Europe's nobility. This king had been blind for many years. When he heard the clang of arms, he turned to his lords and said: "I only now desire this last piece of service from you, that you would bring me forward so near to these Englishmen that I may deal among them one good stroke with my sword." In order not to be separated, the king and his attendants tied the reins of their horses one to another, and went into battle. There this valiant old hero had his desire, and came boldly up to the Prince of Wales, and gave more than "one good stroke" with his sword. He fought courageously, as did all his lords, and others about him; but they engaged themselves so far that all were slain, and next day found dead, their horses' bridles still tied together.

In the country of the blind, it has foolishly been said, the one-eyed man will inevitably be king. This, of course, is nonsense. In fact, the very opposite has often been true. History reveals that in the realm of the sighted it is not at all remarkable for a blind man to be king. Thus, in 1851, George Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, first cousin to Queen Victoria, ascended the throne of Hanover under the royal title of George the Fifth. That this blind king of Hanover was no imcompetent, but distinctly superior to the ordinary run of monarchs, is shown by the words of a contemporary historian, who said: "Though laboring under the deprivation of sight, this Prince is as efficient in his public, as he is beloved in his private, character; a patron of the arts and sciences, and a promoter of agricultural interests ... he has acquired a perfect knowledge of six different languages."9

A strikingly similar account has been handed down to us of the blind Prince Hitoyasu, who reigned as a provincial governor in Japan over a thousand years ago and "whose influence set a pattern for the sightless which differed from that in any other country and saved his land from the scourge of beggary."10 Thoroughly trained in both Japanese and Chinese literature, Prince Hitoyasu introduced blind people into society and the life of the court. In ninth century Japan, when the blind led the blind, they did not fall into a ditch, but rose out of it together.

Let us turn now from the records of royalty to the annals of adventure. Perhaps the most persistent and destructive myth concerning the blind is the assumption of our relative inactivity and immobility—the image of the blind person glued to his rocking chair and, at best, sadly dependent on others to guide or transport him on his routine daily rounds. "Mobility," we are led to believe, is a modern term, which has just begun to have meaning for the blind. To be sure, many blind persons have been cowed by the myth of helplessness into remaining in their sheltered corners. But there have always been others-Uke James Holman, Esquire, a solitary traveler of a century and a half ago, who gained the great distinction of being labeled by the Russians as "the blind spy." Yes, it really happened! This intrepid Englishman, traveling alone across the steppes of Greater Russia all the way to Siberia, was so close an observer of all about him that he was arrested as a spy by the Czar's police and conducted to the borders of Austria, where he was ceremoniously expelled.

Here is how it happened. Holman lost his sight at the age of twenty-five, after a brief career as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy; but his urge to travel, instead of declining, grew stronger. He soon embarked upon a series of voyages—first through France and Italy, then (at one fell swoop) through Poland, Austria, Saxony, Prussia, Hanover, Russia, and Siberia. His real intention, as he later wrote, was to "make a circuit of the whole world," entirely on his own and unaccompanied—an ambition he might well have fulfilled had it not been for the Czar's police and the Russian spy charges. He later published a two-volume account of his travels and observations, and his own reflections upon his Russian adventure are worth repeating: "My situation," he wrote, "was now one of extreme novelty and my feelings corresponded with its peculiarity. I was engaged ... in a solitary journey of a thousand miles, through a country, perhaps the wildest on the face of the earth, whose inhabitants were scarcely yet accounted within the pale of civilization, with no other attendant than a rude Tartar postillion, to whose language my ear was wholly unaccustomed; and yet, I was supported by a feeling of happy confidence ..."11

As Federationists know, there have been other blind travelers in our own time quite as intrepid as James Holman. Yet Holman's story—the case of the "blind spy"—is important for its demonstration that blind people could wear such seven-league boots almost two centuries ago—before Braille or the long cane, before residential schools or vocational rehabilitation, before even the American Foundation for the Blind and its 239-page book on personal management for the blind.

But there is a more basic side to mobility, of course, than the opportunity and capacity for long-distance traveling. There is the simple ability to get about, to walk and run, to mount a horse or ride a bicycle—in short, to be physically independent. The number of blind persons who have mastered these skills of travel is countless, but no one has ever proved the point or shown the way with more flair than a stalwart Englishman of the eighteenth century named John Metcalf. Indeed, this brash fellow not only defied convention, but the world. Totally blind from childhood, he was (among other things) a successful builder of roads and bridges; racehorse rider; bare-knuckle fighter; card shark; stagecoach driver; and, on occasion, guide to sighted tourists through the local countryside. Here is an account of some of his many enterprises:

"In 1751 he commenced a new employment; he set up a stage wagon betwixt York and Knaresborough, being the first on the road, and drove it himself, twice a week in summer, and once in winter. This business, with the occasional conveyence of army baggage, employed his attention till the period of his first contracting for the making of roads, which engagement suiting him better, he relinquished every other pursuit. . . . The first piece of road he made was about three miles . . . , and the materials for the whole were to be produced from one gravel pit; he therefore provided deal boards, and erected a temporary house at the pit; took a dozen horses to the place; fixed racks and mangers, and hired a house for his men, at Minskip. He often walked to Knaresborough in the morning, with four or five stones of meal on his shoulders, and joined his men by six o'clock. He completed the road much sooner than was expected, to the entire satisfaction of the surveyor and trustees. ..."12

The story of "Blind Jack" Metcalf, for all its individuality, is far from unique. Rather, it underscores what even we as Federationists sometimes forget, and what most of the sighted have never learned at all—namely, that the blind can compete on terms of absolute equality with others—that we are really, literally, the equals of the sighted. We have been kept down by the myths and false beliefs about our inferiority, by the self-fulfilling prophecies of the custodial system which has conditioned the sighted and the blind alike to believe we are helpless, but not by any innate lacks or losses inherent in our blindness.

Metcalf's accomplishments in applied science were probably matched by those of a French army officer more than a century before. Blaise Francoise, Comte de Pagan, was blinded in the course of military service, shortly before he was to be promoted to the rank of field marshal. He then turned his attention to the science of fortifications, wrote the definitive work on the subject, and subsequently published a variety of scientific works, among which was one entitled "An Historical and Geographical Account of the River of the Amazons" (which included a chart drawn up by this military genius after he became blind)!

Like the sighted, the blind have had their share of solid citizens, namby-pambies, strong-minded individualists, squares, oddballs, eggheads, and eccentrics. The sixteenth-century German scholar James Shegkins, for instance, refused to undergo an operation which was virtually guaranteed to restore his sight: "in order," as he said, "not to be obliged to see many things that might appear odious and ridiculous."13 Shegkins, a truly absent-minded professor, taught philosophy and medicine over many years with great success, and left behind him influential monographs on a dozen scientific subjects.

The success story of Dr. Nicholas Bacon, a blind lawyer of eighteenth-century France, somewhat resembles that of our own beloved founder. Dr. Jacobus tenBroek. Both were blinded in childhood by bow-and-arrow accidents, and both went on to high academic achievement in law and related studies. The strenuous exertions which Bacon was forced to go through at each stage of his climb are indicated by the following account:

"When he recovered his health, which had suffered from the accident, he continued the same plan of education which he had before commenced.... But his friends treated his intention with ridicule, and even the professors themselves were not far from the same sentiment; for they admitted him into their schools, rather under an impression that he might amuse them, than that they should be able to communicate much information to him." However, he obtained "the first place among his fellow students. They then said that such rapid advances might be made in the preliminary branches of education, but not ... in studies of a more profound nature; and when ... it became necessary to study the art of poetry, it was declared by the general voice that all was over. . . . But here he likewise disproved their prejudices. ... He applied himself to law, and took his degree in that science at Brussels."14

Years earlier—in the fourth century after Christ—another blind man made an even steeper ascent to learning. He was Didymus of Alexandria, who became one of the celebrated scholars of the early church. He carved out of wood an alphabet of letters and laboriously taught himself to form them into words, and shape the words into sentences. Later, when he could afford to hire readers, he is said to have worn them out one after another in his insatiable quest for knowledge. He became the greatest teacher of his age. He mastered philosophy and theology, and then went on to geometry and astrology. He was regarded by his students, some of whom like St. Jerome became church fathers, with "a touch of awe" because of his vast learning and intellect.

Didymus was not the only blind theologian to gain eminence within the church. In the middle of the seventeenth century, at almost the same moment Milton was composing Paradise Lost, a blind priest named Prospero Fagnani was writing a commentary on church law, which was to bring him fame as one of the outstanding theorists of the Roman faith. At the precocious age of 21, Fagnani had already earned the degree of doctor of civil and canon law, and in the very next year, he was appointed Secretary of the Congregation of the Council. His celebrated Commentary, published in six quarto volumes, won high praise from Pope Benedict XIV and caused its author to become identified throughout Europe by a Latin title which in translation signifies "the blind yet farseeing doctor."

These few biographical sketches plucked from the annals of the blind are no more than samples. They are not even the most illustrious instances I could have given. I have said nothing at all about the best known of history's blind celebrities—Homer, Milton, and Helen Keller. There is good reason for that omission. Not only are those resounding names well enough known already but they have come to represent—each in its own sentimentalized, storybook form—not the abilities and possibilities of people who are blind but the exact opposite. Supposedly these giants are the exceptions that prove the rule—the rule, that is, that the blind are incompetent. Each celebrated case is explained away to keep the stereotype intact: Thus, Homer (we are repeatedly told) probably never existed at all-being not a man but a committee! As for Milton, he is dismissed as a sighted poet, who happened to become blind in later life. And Helen Keller, they say, was the peculiarly gifted and just plain lucky beneficiary of a lot of money and a "miracle worker" (her tutor and companion, Anne Sullivan).

Don't you believe it! These justly famous cases of accomplishment are not mysterious, unexplainable exceptions—they are only remarkable. Homer, who almost certainly did exist and who was clearly blind, accomplished just a little better what other blind persons after him have accomplished by the thousands: that is, he was a good writer. Milton composed great works while he was sighted, and greater ones (including Paradise Lost) after he became blind. His example, if it proves anything, proves only that blindness makes no difference in ability. As for Helen Keller, her life demonstrates dramatically what great resources of character and will and intellect may live in a human being beyond the faculties of sight and sound—which is not to take anything at all away from Anne Sullivan.

In the modern world it is not the poets or the humanists, but the scientists, who have held the center of the stage. As would be expected, the stereotyped view has consistently been that the blind cannot compete in these areas. How does this square with the truth?

Consider the case of Nicholas Saunderson—totally blind from infancy—who succeeded Sir Isaac Newton in the chair of mathematics at Cambridge University, despite the fact that he had earlier been refused admission to the same university and was never permitted to earn a degree! It was the great Newton himself who pressed Saunderson's appointment upon the reluctant Cambridge dons; and it was no less a personage than Queen Anne of England who made it possible by conferring the necessary degree upon Saunderson. Later he received a Doctor of Laws degree from King George II, a symbol of the renown he had gained as a mathematician. Among Saunderson's best subjects, by the way, was the science of optics—at which he was so successful that the eminent Lord Chesterfield was led to remark on "the miracle of a man who had not the use of his own sight teaching others how to use theirs."15

For another example, consider John Gough, a blind English biologist of the eighteenth century, who became a master at classification of plants and animals by substituting the sense of touch for that of sight. Or consider Leonard Euler, a great mathematician of the same century, who (after becoming blind) won two research prizes from the Parisian Academy of Sciences, wrote a major work translated into every European language, and devised an astronomical theory which "has been deemed by astronomers, in exactness of computation, one of the most remarkable achievements of the human intellect."16 Or, for a final illustration, consider Francois Huber, blind Swiss zoologist, who gained recognition as the pre-eminent authority of the eighteenth century on the behavior of bees. The famous writer Maurice Maeterlinck said of Huber that he was "the master and classic of contemporary apiarian science."17

Even after all of this evidence, there will be many (some of them, regrettably, our own blind Uncle Toms) who will try to deny and explain it all away—who will attempt to keep intact their outworn notions about the helplessness of the blind as a class. So let me nail down a couple of points: In the first place, is all of this talk about history and the success of blind individuals really valid? Isn't it true that most blind people throughout the ages have lived humdrum lives, achieving neither fame nor glory, and soon forgotten? Yes, it is true—but for the sighted as well as for the blind. For the overwhelming majority of mankind (the blind and the sighted alike) life has been squalor and hard knocks and anonymity from as far back as anybody knows. There were doubtless blind peasants, blind housewives, blind shoemakers, blind businessmen, blind thieves, blind prostitutes, and blind holy men who performed as competently or as incompetently (and are now as forgotten) as their sighted contemporaries.

"Even so," the doubter may say, "I'm still not convinced. Don't you think the track record for the blind is worse than the track record for the sighted? Don't you think a larger percentage of the blind have failed?"

Again, the answer is yes—just as with other minorities. That's what it's all about. Year after year, decade after decade, century after century, age after age we the blind were told that we were helpless—that we were inferior—and we believed it and acted accordingly. But no more! As with other minorities, we have tended to see ourselves as others have seen us. We have accepted the public view of our limitations, and thus have done much to make those limitations a reality. When our true history conflicted with popular prejudice, the truth was altered or conveniently forgotten. We have been ashamed of our blindness and ignorant of our heritage, but never again! We will never go back to the ward status of second-class citizens. There is simply no way. There are blind people aplenty-and sighted allies,too—(many of them in this room tonight) who will take to the streets and fight with their bare hands if they must before they will let it happen.

And this, too, is history—our meeting, our movement, our new spirit of self-awareness and self-realization. In our own time and in our own day we have found leaders as courageous as Zisca, and as willing to go into battle to resist tyranny. But we are no longer to be counted by ones and twos, or by handfuls or hundreds. We are now a movement, with tens of thousands in the ranks. Napoleon is supposed to have said that history is a legend agreed upon. If this is true, then we the blind are in the process of negotiating a new agreement, with a legend conforming more nearly to the truth and the spirit of the dignity of man.

And what do you think future historians will say of us-of you and me? What legends will they agree upon concerning the blind of the mid-twentieth century? How will they deal with our movement—with the National Federation of the Blind? Will they record that we fell back into the faceless anonymity of the ages, or that we met the challenges and survived as a free people? It all depends on what we do and how we act; for future historians will write the record, but we will make it. Our lives will provide the raw materials from which their legends will emerge to be agreed upon.

And, while no man can predict the future, I feel absolute confidence as to what the historians will say. They will tell of a system of governmental and private agencies established to serve the blind, which became so custodial and so repressive that reaction was inevitable. They will tell that the blind ("their time come 'round at last") began to acquire a new self-image, along with rising expectations, and that they determined to organize and speak for themselves. And they will tell of Jacobus tenBroek—of how he, as a young college professor, (blind and brilliant) stood forth to lead the movement like Zisca of old.

They will tell how the agencies first tried to ignore us, then resented us, then feared us, and finally came to hate us—with the emotion and false logic and cruel desperation which dying systems always feel toward the new about to replace them.

They will tell of the growth of our movement through the forties and fifties, and of our civil war—which resulted in the small group that splintered away to become puppets of the most reactionary of the agencies, a company union: our counterfeit dwarf image, the American Council of the Blind. They will tell how we emerged from our civil war into the sixties, stronger and more vital than we had ever been; and how more and more of the agencies began to make common cause with us for the betterment of the blind. They will tell of our court cases, our legislative efforts, and our organizational struggles—and they will record the sorrow and mourning of the blind at the death of their great leader, Jacobus tenBroek.

They will also record the events of today—of the 1970's—when the reactionaries among the agencies became even more so, and the blind of the second generation of the NFB stood forth to meet them. They will talk of the American Foundation for the Blind and its attempt (through its tool, NAC) to control all work with the blind, and our lives. They will tell how NAC and the American Foundation and the other reactionary agencies gradually lost ground and gave way before us. They will tell of new and better agencies rising to work in partnership with the blind, and of harmony and progress as the century draws to an end. They will relate how the blind passed from second-class citizenship through a period of hostility to equality and first-class status in society.

But future historians will only record these events if we make them come true. They can help us be remembered, but they cannot help us dream. That we must do for ourselves. They can give us acclaim, but not guts and courage. They can give us recognition and appreciation, but not determination or compassion or good judgment. We must either find those things for ourselves, or not have them at all.

We have come a long way together in this movement. Some of us are veterans, going back to the forties; others are new recruits, fresh to the ranks. Some are young; some are old. Some are educated, others not. It makes no difference. In everything that matters we are one; we are the movement; we are the blind.

Just as in 1940, when the National Federation of the Blind was formed, the fog rolls in through the Golden Gate. The eucalyptus trees give forth their pungent smell, and the Berkeley hills look down at the bay. The house still stands in those hills, and the planes still rise from San Francisco to span the world. But Jacobus tenBroek comes from the house no more, nor rides the planes to carry the word.

But the word is carried, and his spirit goes with it. He it was who founded this movement, and he it is whose dreams are still entwined in the depths of its being. Likewise, our dreams (our hopes and our visions) are part of the fabric, going forward to the next generation as a heritage and a challenge. History is not against us: The past proclaims it; the present confirms it; and the future demands it. If we falter or dishonor our heritage, we will betray not only ourselves but those who went before us and those who come after. But, of course, we will not fail. Whatever the cost, we shall pay it. Whatever the sacrifice, we shall make it. We cannot turn back, or stand still. Instead, we must go forward. We shall prevail—and history will record it. The future is ours. Come! Join me on the barricades, and we will make it come true.

1 William Artman, Beauties and Achievements of the Blind (Auburn: Published for the Author, 1890), p. 265.
2 James Wilson, Biography of the Blind (Birmingham, England: Printed by J.W. Showell, Fourth Edition, 1838), p. 110.
3 Artman, op. cit., p. 265.
4 Ibid, p. 266.
5 Ibid, p. 261.
6 Ibid, p. 268.
7 Ibid, pp. 268-9.
8 Wilson, op. cit., p. 115.
9 Mrs. Hippolyte Van Landeghem, Exile and Home: The Advantages of Social Education of the Blind (London: Printed by W. Clowes & Sons, 1865), p. 95.
10 Gabriel Farrell, The Story of Blindness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956), p. 7.
11 Wilson, op. cit., p. 262.
12 Ibid., pp. 100-101.
13 Artman, op. cit., p. 220.
14 Wilson, op. cit., p. 243.
15 Farrell, op. cit., p. 11.
16 Artman, op. cit., p. 226.
17 Farrell, op. cit., pp. 12-13.

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[Editor's Note.— Remarks made by Kenneth Jernigan, President, National Federation of the Blind, in presentation of the Newel Perry Award to Bernard Gerchen, at the annual banquet of the Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, at the Statler-Hilton Hotel in New York City, July 5, 1973.]

Like the Nobel Peace Prize, the Newel Perry Award is granted only as often as distinguished accomplishment merits. It is given to those who have made outstanding contributions toward the progress and independence of the blind. Being the highest honor which the organized blind of this country can bestow, it is treated accordingly. It is given sparingly and with appropriate care and selectivity. The last presentation was made in 1969—and, before that, in 1966.

The 1969 recipient was Congressman James Burke of Massachusetts, who received it for his efforts in behalf of our Disability Insurance Bill. Earlier recipients include two United States Senators and the late Governor Ed Johnson of Colorado. Of course, the award is not limited to public figures. It may be given to private citizens, leaders in the field of work with the blind, or anybody else. All are eligible for consideration, and all must meet the same exacting test: What have they done to make the lives of blind people better? What have they done to increase public understanding, to expand opportunity, and to promote equal status for the blind in society? The Newel Perry Award has usually been presented to distinguished persons from outside our movement, but on a few occasions we have honored one of our own, recognizing particular contributions and outstanding service.

Tonight the time has again come for a Newel Perry presentation. Our recipient is worthy to take his place among the most distinguished of those we have ever honored. His service in our cause has been surpassed by none. Although sighted, he is a Ferationist to the core. He is one of our own if anybody ever was. He is none other than our longtime friend and comrade in arms Bernard Gerchen.

There are many things I could say about Bernie. He is a veteran of twenty years in our movement. I first met him at the Milwaukee Convention in 1953. Both of us were a good deal younger then, and neither of us could have predicted the events of the two action-packed decades which have brought us to the present occasion.

I will not try to recreate or relive those decades or the many circumstances which have led to the presentation of the Newel Perry Award to Bernie. I will only say this: When he came to us, we had barely enough money to hold a convention each year and wonder about the next, to keep a part-time staff member in Washington and pay his postage. Now, we have the funds to carry our message to every corner of the Nation and to reach the blind wherever they are—the means to put our philosophy into action and our dreams into visible form. More than any other factor in this financial transformation has been the genius and wisdom and industry of a single man, Bernie Gerchen.

Yet, this is not the reason we give him the Newel Perry Award, great though his financial help has been. If it were the whole story, then we could say: "It has been a fine business relationship, mutually beneficial, and there's an end to the matter." But it is not the whole story, not by a long ways. It never has been.

From the very beginning Bernie was interested in us as people. He took the time to understand; and, understanding, he became a thorough-going Federationist. In the days of our civil war in the late 1950's he stood shoulder to shoulder with us and did what he could to counsel and plan and advise. He was worried not just about the financial end of things but about what would happen to blind people. He was interested in our "right to organize" bill and our efforts to improve the situation of sheltered shop workers, not just next season's mail campaign.

He helped us plan and rebuild in the 1960's, and he sat with me at Dr. tenBroek's funeral in 1968. Afterward, we had a long talk (both of us sorrowing), and he promised that he would help me in every way he could as I assumed the burdens of the presidency of the Federation. He has kept that promise, and we have all benefited as a result.

Bernie has always maintained a low profile in the Federation, neither demanding nor wanting recognition or acclaim; but his interest and involvement have been unvaryingly intense. He is a member of our crusade, a co-worker who joins with us in our struggle to gain independence and dignity. No story of the rise of the blind from the ward status of second-class citizenship to full membership in society can ever be complete unless it includes the name of Bernie Gerchen.

Bernie, it is for these reasons that we the blind (your colleagues and fellow-workers in the NFB) honor you tonight-and we honor you not as an outsider or merely a close friend but as one of our own. For what you are, for what you have done to help all blind people we present you our Newel Perry Award. I give you now this engraved brass plaque mounted on walnut. It reads:




July, 1973

[These excerpts are from the August 1973 issue of the Palmetto Auroran, publication of the South Carolina Aurora Club of the Blind. They are from a series of short articles on the recent NFB Convention in New York from the point of view of first-time Convention-goers.]

[Donald League:] As almost every Auroran knows, this year's Convention was held at the Statler-Hilton Hotel in New York City from July 1 to 6. The bus left from Columbia (S.C.) this year on Saturday, June 30, at about 10:00 a.m. We did not arrive in New York until about 1:00 a.m. the following day. Despite the lengthiness of the trip, I enjoyed it immensely both going and coming. The geography as well as the many radio stations that I was able to observe along the way interested me a great deal.

[Eileen Welch:] It was a thrill for me, a sighted member, to participate in the largest meeting of the blind in the history of mankind. At last the blind are organizing to show the world that they have the same intelligence that seeing persons have. They are proving that they have the capabilities to operate computerized machines and to earn college degrees in all the arts and sciences, in competition with the sighted.

That which probably appealed to me the most was to see the large number of young people present. They were not afraid to speak up about issues and they also lent a freshness of approach to ideas. Perhaps my only criticism of the Convention was that there was very little time to see the exhibits unless one wanted to skip meals. I could see with my eyes and hear with my ears that the blind need no longer be pushed into a comer. All they want is to show what they can do—and they can do it!

[Barbara Mattson:] The NFB Convention, for me, was a time when the blind of all the State affiliates came together and shared ideas of how to organize new affiliates as well as how to move forward as a whole. I received information on what public as well as private sources are doing for the nationwide blind.

The only element of the Convention which I found frustrating was the constant conflict I experienced with wanting to go to two and sometimes three nighttime activities at once. I therefore found plenty to keep me busy and for this I was glad. Next year I do not expect a schedule conflict, so I am looking forward to my second NFB Convention—to see all the people I met and, as one student put it, "to fill up with gas to go on until the next Convention."

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July 4, 1973


[Editor's Note. —This was read by the President of the NFB and adopted by the Convention as official NFB policy.]

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for blind people to dissolve the bands which have connected them with certain social agencies established to provide services to the blind and to assume the equal station to which a democratic society entitles them, they should declare the causes which impel them to achieve a more just and equal status and the right to attain the equality, security, and opportunity that are the requisites of first-class citizenship in a free society.

We the blind of the United States hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men, the blind no less than the sighted, are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights the National Federation of the Blind has been instituted among the blind, deriving its just power from the consent of the governed who are its members; that whenever any agency for the blind becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the blind through their own organization of the blind and by the blind to alter or to abolish it, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence dictates that authorities long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and the experience of the blind has shown that they are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations reduces them under despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such dictatorship.

The history of the blind and their struggle to be integrated into the majority world of the sighted as sightless, but no less normal human beings and no different from others in merit and ability, has been constrained and denied by those who control the gateways to educational, social, political, and economic equality for them.

Because of ignorance and subconscious, but no less malevolent prejudice, the blind have been the victims of discrimination—of employment ostracism, personnel directors and employers who have prejudged them on their disability, not their ability to do the job on a par with the sighted and who have denied them the opportunity to earn a livelihood in accordance with their professional and vocational education and training and developed talents and aptitudes; they have been denied equality of educational opportunity as students; they have been denied equality of housing, access to public accommodations, the right to serve on juries, to participate socially, politically, and meaningfully in society, et cetera and et cetera.

But before equal status for the blind can be achieved in the world at large, it must be achieved in the inside world of the blind itself. Here too the agencies with rare exceptions are for, rather than of and by the blind. And this is the crux of the problem of the blind as consumers of agency services—the status of the blind in their relations with those who serve the blind and also set the standards for those who serve the blind. Equality like charity begins at home, and equality is impossible without equal participation to attain it.

We the blind, therefore, here and now declare that we take our stand with the philosophers of democracy who proclaimed that free men had the potential to govern themselves, that given equality of opportunity to achieve their potential educationally, socially, and economically they would choose their own leaders and govern themselves wisely.

In individual and collective degree, the quality of life as lived by men and women in relation to others of their species has been determined largely by the relationship of leaders to the led in different ages and nations throughout the history of man's sojourn on earth. In the record of government and politics these relationships have been variously nomenclatured as dictatorship, autocracy, tyranny, oligarchy, monarchy, republic, democracy. Throughout history the blind have been the disfranchised have nots, and even now they are too often the docile, obedient wards of benevolent paternalistic agencies whose leaders are as supreme as any tyrant, king, emperor, or fuehrer. Too often has our destiny been determined by the dictatorial agency and its professional satraps and our lives been at the mercy and whim of their bidding and desires. The glory of democracy is the victory of the many in defiance of the few to take control of their own lives through representatives of their own choosing. Anytime this is transgressed it is a subversion and denial of democracy by those who self-select themselves to determine the rules for others to follow.

We the blind therefore declare that we cannot and will not accept accreditation standards that dictate the conditions that determine the direction of blind people's lives without their democratic participation in that determination. Else what we have is not democracy, but tyranny; not a democracy of equal free men, but of despots and helots, tyrants and slaves, autocrats and serfs. Even at its best it is benevolent paternalism and an anomaly, an anachronism, a contradiction, and an excrescence in a free society because it denies freedom and equality which are the democratic heritage and right of citizens and reduces them from free men to subjects whose ability to control their own destinies is aborted into the mute and abject acquiescence of emasculated wards deprived of the manhood which should be theirs as free men.

Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison, the political philosophers of the Founding Fathers, understood this against the background of history. To insure the conditions of freedom they and their fellows structured a Constitution and a Bill of Rights to guarantee the liberty of themselves and their posterity. That is why the right to be governed by representatives of their choice is a sine qua non of democracy.

The free light of day, equal and full participation are thus the necessities of the decision process of free men in a democratic community. To deny these primal essentials is to deny the tenets of liberty and freedom and the rights of free men, and to consign them to being wards or slaves.

The National Federation of the Blind declares that blind people are normal human beings—that blindness in itself is only a physical lack which can be met and mastered, not an impairment of mental powers or psychological stability. Therefore all arbitrary barriers and discriminations—legal, economic, and social—based on the false assumption that the blind are somehow different from those with sight must be abolished in favor of equality of opportunity for all who are blind. Because of their intimate firsthand experience with the problems of blindness—and because they too have the constitutional right to organize, to speak for themselves, and to be heard-the blind themselves are best qualified to lead the way in solving their own problems. But we ask our fellow Americans of the general public to be aware of these problems and to participate in their solution. These are the fundamental beliefs upon which the National Federation of the Blind bases its philosophy and programs.

We, therefore, the representatives of the organized blind of the United States of America, in general congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions do, in the name, and by authority of the blind people of this Nation, solemnly publish, and declare, that these blind are, and of right ought to be, equal and free citizens; that the blind have equal participatory power and partnership with the sighted public and the social agencies working with the blind to determine their own fate and to insist upon the equality of education, training, and opportunity—free from prejudice and discrimination for loss of sight—to merit God's grace and to rise in society by their own talents and abilities. And for the support of this declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

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[Editor's Note. —Sumner Whittier is Director of the Aged, Blind, and Disabled Assistance Planning Office of the Social Security Administration.]

Mr. Jernigan, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It's certainly really an exciting opportunity to be before this great meeting of some 1500 people here in New York City.

Now, Miss Bader and the group from Social Security are going to be here and they're going to go down deep and answer all the specific questions. I'm really going to address myself to the question that Mr. Jernigan asked me at lunch, and that is, "Will Social Security have, as far as this Federation and the blind of America are concerned, an open-door policy?" And I said, "Sir, I have a blister on my hand because just before I came I took the door off, and the hinges and the screws are lying on the floor."

But I came because I wanted to indicate to you a special responsiveness to and for the blind. It is true that the law combines aged, disabled, and blind. We are aware of your special concerns and we hope we can react in terms of those factors which are unique to you and which you represent, and I wrote that before I heard of your Resolution. There should be a special responsiveness from you to us. And if this text, which I wrote before I came, answers any questions, it's Mr. Jernigan's question and that is "How much do we need one another?" And I think we need you far more than you need us. We share your goal of complete integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality. [Applause and cheers.] And equality is a key word in the legislation. Mr. Jernigan, I think, has a tremendous sense of organization. In Iowa, of course, he has done a splendid job for the blind. On the national scene he has been both informed and tremendously influential. There is no agency of government that does not listen to him. [Applause and cheers.]

But more, you are articulate. In the long years since the Federation's founding, in 1940, on the eve of World War II, you have worked and crusaded on behalf of better treatment and greater assistance to those without sight.

It is most appropriate that you hold this assembly during the Independence Day week. For no group has tried harder or spoken out more loudly in an effort to end dependency and to have all men stand erect in the pursuit of life, liberty, happiness, and dignity. [Cheers and applause.] (I do wish my wife were here to see the response I'm getting; this is the liveliest group. [Laughter.] Mr. Jernigan, you built them up well.)

It was your vocal declaration of independence before the committees of the Congress that played a major role in bringing the Supplemental Security Income program into being. You have played your part in the process of democracy.

[Applause.] The road was long and hard. H.R. 1, of which Supplemental Security Income was a part, was debated for several years. Finally, after the long pulling and hauling, the bill reached the President's desk, the sum total of many opinions and views. The President signed it on October 30, 1972. We of the Social Security Administration were given until January 1, 1974, to put it in place; to guarantee that those six and a half million checks would be delivered timely. If we fail in any way, my heavens, what a rebellion there'll be across this land. [Laughter.]

We are working on it and I'm very conscious of the fact—very conscious of the fact that that's less than six months from now. And we're very conscious of the fact that if people move from State or local welfare offices to the Social Security offices, we don't want them to get lost.

Now, your officials were very clear when they expressed your views to the Congress. You said to the congressional committee chairman on this subject:

Mr. Chairman, anticipating by some thirty-one years the intent and purpose of H.R. 1, the National Federation of the Blind has argued consistently and worked constantly toward the goal of enabling and encouraging and assisting blind persons on public welfare to get off relief and into employment. We have always [you said] refused to accept the far too generally held view that blindness is synonomous with helplessness and dependency.

[You continued:] We have always refused to accept the far too generally held view that blind people must all look to public welfare support, and that once receiving aid, they will continue on the aid rolls for all their lives.

Now, I understood your viewpoint and the effectiveness of the organization in speaking out. For before I took this job I was the executive director of a similar organization, the National Easter Seal Society for Crippled Children and Adults. . . .

Now your organization spoke out for what you wanted. And many of your recommendations, in fact almost all of them, are key parts of the new law. You said what you wanted. The National Federation of the Blind particularly approves the proposals of H.R. 1 that extend health care coverage to disability insurance beneficiaries. This was a long-sought-after-goal of the organized blind, you said, as we worked and testified in succeeding Congresses in pursuit of this newly realized objective.

It is in the law. You won.

You said, again, the National Federation of the Blind strongly supports the federalization (that is, the Social Security in the Federal Government) of the public welfare program for it should result in providing needy people with more adequate income, an income available to them under less harassing and humiliating conditions.

Well, you won again.

The new program is federalized. The stigma of welfare is removed. The program is not to be referred to as welfare, the President says. The interviews will be held in the offices of Social Security and not in welfare offices run by State or county or city.

We certainly approved the provisions you declared before the committees of Congress that eliminate liens and the recovery and responsibility-of-relative practices in public assistance and from the lives of persons requiring publicly given financial aid. Well, in this law there is no lien requirement. People don't have to give up their homes in order to get the payment from the Government and their children are not going to be dunned in order to recapture that money. What you recommended is in the law.

When we list many of the things that the bill achieves as you intended, I think that you can feel, with a sense of immense pride, what organization can do, what a united strong voice can do. You have made long progress, great progress toward your long-held goals. Let me tell you what this bill does.

The Supplemental Security Income will almost double the number of aged, blind, and disabled persons now drawing benefits: from 3.3 million people to approximately 6.2 million individuals next January. It will increase benefits for nearly one and a half million people who are now receiving benefits. It will provide medicaid coverage to many who are now denied it. It will cover handicapped children who have not previously been covered. It will increase the amount of money spent on the aged, blind, and disabled by an estimated two billons of dollars of new Federal money, a total in all—State-Federal combined—of six billons of dollars. And more and more, it will place the money directly into the hands of the recipients and not to some second or third party. Those with the greatest need will receive the largest amount. [Applause.]

It will cause millions of dollars of additional funds to flow into each State, money over and above what States now receive.

Now, under the new law the Federal Government provides a basic monthly level, all different levels across the country. Twenty-six States were below what this pays; probably more than that under what's newly voted.

Now, in January the amount will be $130 for a single individual—or, if he has other earned income, whatever it takes to bring him up to $130 ($195 for a couple). That amount is going to increase on July 1 of next year from $130 a month to $140 a month. And for the couples it's going from $195 to $210. So the amounts that Mr. Jernigan and I were talking about are already moving in the right direction.

The new law, the federalization that you supported-for your leaders fully understood this critical point—moved a good part of that payment base from sales and property taxes to the Federal income tax. And that's important, for sales taxes have reached a saturation point and real estate taxes have reached a place where many people with small incomes are threatened with the loss of their homes on which they've paid for much of their lives.

Now I said that twenty-six States paid less to their needy than the Federal basic amount. But what about New York, and Massachusetts, and Illinois, and Michigan, and other States which pay far above that Federal amount of $130? That basic Federal amount is only a floor. It's called a floor because a floor is something on which you build, something to which you add. The Law expects each State to supplement, to add to that amount. Let's say that a State now is paying a single person with no other income two hundred dollars a month. The Federal Government is only going to pay him a hundred and thirty. Is he going to lose seventy? No, it was expected that the State would add seventy dollars if the recipient were not to lose any income in the future.

Now in all truth, Governor after Governor has come out in support of the aged, the blind, and the disabled; and they have said in their States that no person would be disadvantaged. However, there was some doubt. Mr. Jernigan was concerned. What about Delaware where they have a tax problem? What about some States where there were real problems and the States were having difficulty? You need not be concerned about this point. The blind already on the rolls will automatically be grandfathered in, even without the new amendments. That is, the income and resource exclusions under which the State judged them eligible will continue to apply even if these are more liberal than the new Federal exclusions.

In effect what that means is that the blind who are now on the rolls will continue on the rolls automatically under the original legislation. The law will exclude from countable income for the blind any work expenses essential under an approved plan for self-support. But even with that grandfathering there were still concerns. Would someone somewhere who had special services in essential persons drop through the floor? A blind person who was eligible might be on, but what about his wife who might not be eligible under these terms? She would lose, perhaps, her benefits. And so, questions were raised, even with the grandfathering. This is what you said: "While in general the National Federation of the Blind endorses and supports monthly amounts of aid, we believe the provision should be amended to require—to make it mandatory—to force those States having high assistance standards to maintain such higher standards." And so the law that's just been passed by the Congress and is resting now on the President's desk, for his signature, does require exactly what you asked. [Applause.]

The law passed in October did not make it mandatory for a State to vote such protection. Now the Congress, having had second thoughts, has passed the bill that does make it so. A State must keep those now on the rolls, at the same level of payment.

I told you the Federal Government would now cover the full cost of the basic payment, pouring millions of dollars of new money into the States; and the States would pay for that supplement on top of it. The Federal Government will pay for more than that. If we're going to double the rolls from over three million to over six million and the States were to have to pay for all of that—the amount above $130 a month—it would be a huge sum. So, the law provides that once a State spends totally for the aged, blind, and disabled in 1974 as once the Federal floor comes in, Massachusetts spends forty million in '74—then the Federal Government will pick up almost all of the cost above that amount. So the Federal Government will pay the cost of the floor-the $130 or $195 as of January 1974 and the $140 or $210 as of July 1, 1974. Then, everything above the first floor that the State has to add in the second and third floors, the Federal Government will pick up. The Federal Government is going to pay all administrative costs as well. In the State of California, for example, those administrative costs are some forty millions of dollars.

Now, a State, if it chooses, can continue to administer its own program. It doesn't have to join the Federal program. And, incidentally, the Federal Government will accept many medicaid applications and make eligibility determinations.

Now, existing programs include special needs. They figure out their basic needs and then they add special needs, which are a real concern to you. But the new law was moving to a flat grant, just $130. What about those special needs? You said to the Congress: The National Federation of the Blind believes the law should be amended so as to assure that the special needs of recipients of aid are met when such needs are due to special circumstances which make the total dollar amount of need greater than the flat amount provided for in the pending bill. Secretary Weinberger did, by administrative decision, first, permit States to choose varying payment levels in up to three geographical locations for each state, depending on the cost of living. If it costs more to live in New York City than it does upstate in Plattsburg, then the State could have a varying amount. He also permitted differing payment levels depending upon living arrangements.

Now, Congress has just voted, the President will sign, full protection of the special need totals. So that whatever you're getting for special needs now will be protected for the blind, and for all of those now on the rolls. [Applause.]

Another of the recent amendments is of great interest to you. It has to do with the coverage of essential persons: individuals who would not be eligible for assistance in their own right under the law signed in October. A man qualifies for supplemental security payments because he's blind. His wife is under sixty-five years of age and is neither blind nor disabled. Although she does not meet the standard for eligibility, she can now be covered as an essential person—essential to him-both for cash benefits and for medicaid under the law on the President's desk. [Applause.]

I told you you could take considerable pride in getting what you wanted, and it's obvious that much of it you have.

Now the law is part of a comprehensive plan to assist those who have limited incomes. The first line of defense in America against loss of income in retirement is the private pension system. But it is not adequate. Only half the working force in America is covered by private pensions: and of that, half gets only one thousand dollars. I, for twenty years of service to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—I have a magnificent pension; it gives me two thousand dollars a year. If you change your job, you lose your pension. If Studebaker goes out, as they did in Detroit, the employees lose their pensions. Now, the second line of defense is social security. And, incidentally, both the President and the Congress have a number of recommendations pending at the present time to improve the private pension system, but social security is the second line of defense. In spite of all that social security has done—it's been a fine act, it's been a meaningful act—but in spite of the private pensions and in spite of social security, there are still millions of people below the poverty level in this Nation. That's why the Congress voted—and that's why you supported—and that's why the President signed—a third line of defense. Supplemental Security for the aged, blind, and disabled. It is well named. It is a supplement to other income, earned or unearned. A supplement to private pensions and to Social Security payments. The need for it was very obvious. That's why it was totally supported. The President recommended it and signed it. The House Ways and Means Committee, under Wilbur Mills; the Senate Finance Committee, under Senator Russell Long; and the House and Senate on roll call of all those present and voting, save one, approved it; so it is the law.

The Supplemental Security law intends to encourage those who wish to work to do so. I happen to be on the President's Committee for the Employment of the Handicapped, and I know firsthand how many of the disabled desire the dignity of work. I know how many have found meaning in making contributions. And, incidentally, many blind are employed by the Veterans Administration and some by Social Security.

A single individual can earn up to $65 a month and still draw his full benefit: $130 plus the $20 plus the $65. So it is possible to get $215, and $10 more to be added in July. But beyond that, one dollar out of every two dollars earned will not reduce the SSI payment. You can keep one dollar of every two beyond the $65, and the $20.

Disability will be determined by the States as it is now under the Social Security program. Each person will be referred for vocational rehabilitation under auspices of the State—and I'm sure it will be well done in Iowa. The Federal Government will reimburse the State for these services.

A person may have resources up to $1500; a couple up to $2250; in addition he may have a home, a car, household goods, and personal effects of reasonable value—all will be noncountable. And incidently, I'll let you tell me what the "reasonable value" of a car and a house is. That advisory committee would come in very handy right now. . . .

Now, let's talk about that advisory committee. I would be delighted to have all the advice and counsel we can get. We've already talked with you, invited you, had meetings; and what I suggested was this, because of the conditions under the law: The Government had any number of advisory committees and the Congress grew very concerned about conflict of interest; they were concerned about costs; they were concerned that frequently under Senator Russell Long; and the House and Senate on rollcall of all those present and have some problems with that. But this is what Mr. Jernigan and I discussed and this is what I said to him. We had discussed it. The reason I know those details is that I explored it before I came because I suspected that you would desire to move in this direction, and so do I. So do we both. We do need one another very much. And I suggested to him that he appoint his group, and that he make a request of us that we would meet with him and your representatives regularly. We would listen to you and we would do the best we could to carry out the desires of this Federation and the blind people across America. [Cheers and applause.] And I said something more-the reason-you are something more than recipients or potential recipients who belong to this Federation; you are spokesmen, not just for the thousands who do belong to your organization, but for the thousands upon thousands beyond the Federation's ever expanding limits.

The blind of America need a strong, clear voice speaking in their behalf, a voice belonging to someone who understands them and their needs. That isn't always Federal officials; it is those of you who are in the communities of the Nation. You can work and speak actively and frankly as you have done. My very appearance here, describing the provisions of the new law which your crusade helped bring into being, is witness to your accomplishment for blind persons everywhere across America.

But in great causes the work is never done. You also have a major role in communications. Someone has to carry the message. Many will hear about Supplemental Security by word of mouth; some may see newspaper accounts, or be told about them. Others may read the thousands of pamphlets we distribute. Others may see or hear television spots or radio announcements. We in Social Security have conducted experiments to seek out those who would receive benefits. We've used elderly people to ring doorbells. Of course, county, municipal, and State welfare offices will make constant referrals. But after all of that is done, I share with you a deep concern. Somewhere in a great city, sitting lonely in a fourth-floor flat, in desperate need, will be some blind individual who will not hear that radio, who will not know that there is help available from his government. Somewhere in an isolated farmhouse in Dakota, sitting in an old rocking chair, is someone in the need of help; and we may not find him. We may talk of billions of dollars expended, and we may talk of great systems and immense computers, but these are not our aim. Our goal is to make those systems work for people. "Soul over systems" be our motto. And we must be concerned about the one individual in need as well as the millions. You have a vital part in dealing with individuals. This is a partnership of government and people, of Social Security and the National Federation of the Blind and all the other voluntary groups in the land from which I came to this position I now hold. By virtue of membership in this organization, and by virtue of your role as citizens, you are messengers and missionaries to carry the word—to help us find every deserving individual in this land.

There is no question that some among your membership will need assistance and support. Some may not. But we need all of you to help because of those that you are able to reach. We need each other. That's what Mr. Jernigan said at lunch. We need each other, joined in a partnership if this program is to be what the Congress of America intended, if it is to be what the President declared it to be when he signed the bill, saying: "This legislation once again provides dramatic and heart-warming evidence that America is the country that cares and translates that humanitarian care into a better life for those who need and deserve the support of their fellow citizens."

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[Editor's Note.—Corbett Reedy is Acting Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.]

I am greatly honored to be invited to speak to the annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. I am told that it is the largest organization of blind persons in the country. It has been a thrilling experience to me to attend your sessions yesterday, to be present at your banquet yesterday evening, and now to see such a large assemblage of blind persons here today. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the present status of vocational rehabilitation with you and to share with you some of our hopes for the future.

I bring you greetings from James S. Dwight, the new Administrator of the Social and Rehabilitation Services of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Vocational rehabilitation is an important part of the Social and Rehabilitation Service. Mr. Dwight has now been confirmed by the Senate and will today assume the full duties of his new office as SRS Administrator. In fact, I should try to be back to Washington at four o'clock this afternoon because the formal swearing-in of Mr. Dwight will take place in the departmental auditorium at that time.

We believe that SRS has some of the most important programs of the Department. We have lost two of our six service bureaus: Aging and Juvenile Delinquency. They have moved to the new office of Human Development under an Assistant Secretary. However, there remain four important programs in SRS which are closely related in their goals and purposes and which are very important to the blind. Two of these are service programs: the Vocational Rehabilitation program and the Social Services program. Two are concerned with financial assistance to the needy: the Assistance Payments program and the Medical Services program. Mr. Dwight is determined that these services will make their maximum impact on those they are designed to serve: the disabled, the dependent, the sick, and people in trouble. I have been impressed to hear so frequently here references to the value of work and self-support to the blind. That is just what vocational rehabilitation is all about. I would like to give you a general picture of vocational rehabilitation and then follow with some more specific reference to our present and future plans for work with the blind.

The 1973 Fiscal Year, which closed on June 30, has been a very good year in rehabilitating the disabled. Despite many handicaps and diversions during the year, we have established over the Nation new goals and new accomplishments in outreach and service. For the first time in the history of the public rehabilitation program, more than one million disabled persons have entered the system and have received service in a single year. Our national goal of 350,000 persons rehabilitated will be exceeded by fifteen thousand. We expect the number of blind persons to exceed nine thousand this year—a substantial increase over 1972. These national program achievements take on added significance when we realize that the States and their cooperating agencies have had to carry on with a level of funding the same as in 1972, and without an extension of basic rehabilitation legislation. I therefore wish to pay tribute to those in the State rehabilitation programs and those serving the blind and the general population of the disabled for such a fine year.

We are not interested simply in numbers, but we do have great interest in increasing the outreach of the rehabilitation program to serve a higher proportion of the huge backlog of disabled people. You will recall that the Congress and the President in 1965 set the goal of an adequate program that could serve all of the persons needing rehabilitation, by 1975. While we will not meet this goal, we are showing substantial progress and substantial momentum in that direction. I want to speak just briefly about funding and legislation. These have been two very important subjects in rehabilitation this year. We are now in a new year and our prospects are excellent for making an even more significant gain in 1974. The Administration's budget for vocational rehabilitation in the new year is a very sound one. It includes the following major provisions: $610 million section 2 funds, an increase of $50 million over 1973; $70 million from the Social Security Trust Fund Rehabilitation Program, up $25 million; $40 million in Supplementary Security Income funds, a new item; $40 million in service projects; $21 million for research and demonstrations; and $17 million for training.

Our total grants to States, which we feel is our most important fund, will increase $115 million to a total of $720 million. $110 million of this amount is in one hundred percent Federal funds.

I had hoped to report to you today that new rehabilitation legislation had been enacted. It is nearing the point of completion. The House has acted on a bill and the Senate has reported a bill-and an excellent bill-out of committee. The Senate is expected to take final action on the new rehabilitation legislation by the middle of July and we will then, after two years of waiting and a great deal of difficult work, have a bill. This new legislation will provide a sound legislative base for the continuation of the Nation's vocational rehabilitation program.

I made reference earlier to the funding of a new Suplementary Security Income rehabilitation program in the amount of forty million dollars in the new Fiscal Year. This program has great significance for the blind and I therefore wish to expand my remarks upon it. Sumner Whittier yesterday referred to this program very briefly. On January 1, 1974, the Social Security Administration under the Welfare Reform Amendments of 1973, will take over the administration of assistance payments programs for the aged, blind, and disabled, and the important provision of these new Amendments of the Social Security Act is that every blind and disabled applicant must be referred to the appropriate rehabilitation agency for careful study of their needs for rehabilitation. The Act authorizes the Secretary to pay for the necessary costs of rehabilitation evaluation and services to those who can become employable.

I know that you join in the feeling that we should use this new resource as constructively as possible to assist a maximum number of blind persons to achieve greater financial security through their own earnings. This is a good time to point out that our number one priority in the rehabilitation program, from this time forward and for the next several years, will be to seek out and serve steadily increasing numbers of the severely disabled. The blind are included in this group. This objective has been improved within SRS and by Secretary Weinberger. It is a mandate in the new rehabilitation legislation to which I refer. We welcome this change because it directs our rehabilitation efforts to those who need such services most. In my opinion, it will bring about profound changes in our national rehabilitation system because it will require major changes and adjustments in that system in order to accommodate the needs of additional thousands of blind and severely disabled persons.

Along with this objective is a parallel goal of improving the access of the blind and severely disabled to better paying jobs. This is the real payoff of rehabilitation. I am particularly pleased to note the number of new jobs that have been opened to blind persons in the past few years and have been very proud of the leadership of our office of the blind in assessing and bringing about new opportunities. For example, the number of persons now employed throughout the country as tax service representatives for the Internal Revenue Service, as teleservice representatives with the Social Security Administration and information specialists with the Civil Service Commission, are [in] new areas of employment for the blind in the Federal Government, and it promises to provide hundreds of additional jobs. [Applause.] We believe very firmly that if the Federal Rehabilitation program seeks to expand employment for the blind, that it should set the example. [Applause.]

Another major field in which we see great opportunities for the blind and severely disabled is the computer and information industry, the most rapidly growing segment of the American business scene. These and other opportunities which we hope to uncover will ultimately lead to the opening of vast employment opportunities in good paying jobs for the blind. This added emphasis on opening up new jobs in the private sector of business and industry does not mean a lessening of efforts in the rehabilitation program for professional preparation and employment of the blind. There are now in excess of 3500 blind persons attending more than four hundred colleges and universities throughout the Nation. This number can greatly be expanded. Almost all of these students are receiving assistance through the State-Federal vocational rehabilitation program. Achievements in this area are gratifying. It was a thrilling experience for me recently to be present at a dinner sponsored by the Recording Services for the Blind, Inc., in which four blind college seniors were given special recognition. Each was taking a very demanding college course and each had achieved superlative marks in their courses. These demonstrations serve to renew one's conviction about the potentialities of our young people who, despite loss of vision, compete side by side with the non-disabled. [Applause.]

The vocational rehabilitation of blind persons will be influenced by another development growing out of the new title XVI legislation. I refer to the impact of social services on the blind and their families. With a clear-cut separation of payments from services, the way should now be easier to get on with the task of imroving social services in each community. The primary goal of the new social services program is to promote self-sufficiency, improve self-care, improve mobility; and the ability to move toward self-support lies at the core of the objectives of these services. You can see how closely related are these goals to vocational rehabilitation. It is our challenge to make these programs mutually self-supporting so that they will be of maximum benefit to the aged, the blind, the disabled, and the needy. I have noted your concern about the new social service regulations and your Resolution on that subject. I consider that that is a most constructive Resolution. [Applause.]

I would like to comment here also on a concern of growing significance throughout the country: the reorganization of the human services into a single agency at State and community levels. We do not oppose this idea when it leads to improved services and improved coordination of services. We are concerned, however, that services for the blind and other disabled persons retain their identity and effectiveness. [Applause.] These are highly specialized services developed by decades of effort toward their present level of refinement. Drawing on my experience at both State and Federal levels, it is difficult for me to see either administrators or legislators submerging a viable, productive program for the blind and the severely disabled as long as it demonstrates its efficiency.

The State-Federal relationship in the vocational rehabilitation program is a unique one. It gives unusual flexibility and option to the States as to how they will carry on their programs. Our success in the fifty-three years of the program demonstrates that this is a workable system. We have termed it a State-Federal partnership. Our chief link with the States is through our ten Regional Offices. Increasingly we are moving greater responsibility and authority to the regions, feeling that being close to the scene they can best serve the needs of the States. I look forward to the day when we can rebuild each Regional Office so that it will be adequately staffed and will have the special capability for serving the blind and assisting agencies for serving the blind that we believe they deserve. [Applause.]

This is really an exciting time to be working for and with individuals and families who need the services we can create. Our society is at a point in its development when many of us feel that at last there is the chance to overcome some of man's age-old enemies: suffering, deprivation, disability, disadvantage, and disease. As we sense this possibility growing stronger, our patience gets shorter. We insist that more financial resources and manpower be poured into the fight to shorten the span between dream and accomplishment. Rehabilitation has been regarded in the past as an option. We rehabilitate some today, others will have to wait. Perhaps we saved money this way in the past. Today the situation has changed drastically. We have developed an extensive and expensive system of care in this country. This care will cost an increasing amount, even generating more costs. I refer to the giant expansions that are taking place in the medical care costs, support payments, social security costs, and the like.

Vocational rehabilitation of the disabled has shown that it has the potential, through treatment and training, to help the disabled become workers. This great desire of the handicapped to be rehabilitated, to be self-sufficient, is beautifully stated in a pamphlet that I received recently from a good friend who himself is severely disabled, who I'm sure you've heard of many times. His name is Henry Viscardi and he is president of Abilities, Inc., on Long Island, and in this pamphlet, which was entitled The Sweet Dignity of a Productive Life, Henry Viscardi states as follows:

Neither pensions, parades, nor pity can substitute for the sweet dignity of a productive life. I seek opportunity, not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dull by having the State look after me. I want to take the calculated risk, to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence. [Applause.]

It is with this note of challenge that I end my message to you today. To all of you, whether consumer or professional worker, we welcome your ideas and your help in making the public vocational rehabilitation program a fully effective one. Thank you very much.

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President JERNIGAN. Mr. Reedy, there are many things we could talk about -time is fairly short and we won't have the opportunity to do some of that—but there's one question that is overwhelmingly important to us, that I want to put to you. I want to begin by making these remarks about it. We believe that the commitment of HEW—and I would think your commitment, from talking with you and from what I know of you—we believe that the commitment is strong enough, that Federal money will be made available for rehabilitation; and we believe that, in general, there will be training and the other things. There are lots of things we could find to discuss in detail, but right now, as far as we the blind of this country are concerned, there's one overwhelming question that has to be settled. Your particular Rehabilitation Services Administration, in HEW, has pumped over $600,000 into the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped, and when we have tried to talk with HEW officials, usually we've got a speech. We've got that, nothing else. We have brought up facts; those facts have been received; we've been thanked politely for presenting them; and nothing's been done. A so-called "independent" on-site review team was appointed by HEW. It was not independent. You read Dr. Wilson's report, for I gave it to you last night, and you told me that you did read it. So you know at least what one political scientist says. You also saw, for you told me you did, Peter Salmon's telegram to me saying that our observers would be readmitted—or permitted to come, rather—to the NAC meeting because they were afraid of violence if they didn't; when for months ahead of that, HEW officials had been telling Congress that the meetings were open. Dr. MacFarland told me himself, although he's a member of the NAC Board, and although he is a key figure in whether or not NAC gets HEW funding, as we all know, that he didn't know that the decision had been made to exclude Federation observers from the board meeting until after I learned it from Peter Salmon. Now, I don't want to engage in subtleties and I don't want to-I'm sure you don't—want to engage in evasion, and I'm sure you won't. So if I ask you what HEW is prepared to do, you may well tell me you don't know, or you've got to go back and consult your chief, or you've got to think about it, or something else. I know that you're not going to be at the Rehabilitation Services Administration for many more months—I'm fully aware of that in asking the question. I want to ask you what I regard as a fairly simple question. Your answer to that question may be "nothing," and if it is, I hope you'll be direct enough with me, and fair enough with this organization to say that. I want to know, in view of all that you know about NAC, and in view of what you know of the concern of the blind about it, I want to know what you, as an individual, are prepared to do to help us reform NAC. Will you answer that for us?

Mr. REEDY. I really find that there is no simple yes or no answer to this question. My acquaintance with this problem reveals that there are two sets of deep convictions about this whole NAC problem. As I have sat through your sessions today, and in some contact prior to this, I can certainly see that the whole NAC issue is no trivial subject as far as the National Federation of the Blind is concerned. [Applause.] Now, without being defensive, or making excuses, I want you to know that there is a whole new set of leaders in the Department, and in SRS, who will have the final voice as to whether or not there will be continued Federal support to NAC. I can assure you that this is being looked at very carefully, and in my mind, impartially, to see what will be the future position of HEW on the subject. I find, for example, that we are engaged in four-not one, but four-accreditation projects from the standpoint of assisting in financing. There is NAC, which you are well acquainted with, dealing with services for the blind and visually handicapped. There is the Council for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. There is the Council on Rehabilitation Education Accreditation Programs. There is the Standards for Mental Retardation Facilities Accreditation Program. Now, the common aim which the Department pursues, whether successfully or unsuccessfully, in those is to improve quality of services by establishing standards, by evaluation and accreditation. Now, interesting to me, the only one around in which there is much interest or any issues is NAC. In fact, the others are so quiet I don't know whether anybody's interested in them or not. So all I can say. President Jernigan, is that both Mr. Dwight, who will have the major voice in determining future support, and those who are assisting him in looking at this, expect to do a careful, impartial job. Now, there was reference made to the study of NAC recently. That study was initiated in March and we have not yet officially received that study yet. I received here, after I came, a copy of the recommendations and they have not been delivered to us in Washington. I have read the interesting comments of Dr. Wilson on tills subject, and I mean to see that others of my collegues who must give attention to this also see Dr. Wilson's report. President Jernigan, this is the longest yes or no answer you ever heard. [Laughter.]

President JERNIGAN. Mr. Reedy, it is a fairly long yes or no answer. Unfortunately I realize that there are problems in getting people to deal directly with issues because nowadays the difficulty is people tend to be more concerned sometimes with whether they follow the right protocol than with whether what they did was right or wrong. I am not suggesting you do, but let me ask you this. I understand what you're saying, that Mr. Dwight and other people will take a look. I have so far heard you say that there is one thing you pledged to do. With no discourtesy meant to you, and no discredit, it is a thing we could have done ourselves. That is, I can see that everybody in HEW gets Dr. Wilson's report. I can do that because I'm going to send a copy to every Member of Congress and, since it's going to go to every Member of Congress, the Secretary will get it ultimately, and he may not get it; he'll refer it on down—it's interesting reading—and so people will get it. But I appreciate your willingness—and we do, as an organization—to carry this report back. Am I to understand that, as far as you are concerned, that all you are prepared to say that you as a person will do now, is to carry back Dr. Wilson's report and see that your colleagues see it? And I ask you that because we're dealing not with somebody else, not with what somebody else may do, and really not with further information you may get, because you have seen, if you cared to see, and I'm sure you have, what NAC has said and what we have said, probably to tiresome infinity. You have seen all of our letters, backwards and forwards, and so forth. Now at this stage, am I correct in my understanding that what we can expect of you is that you will take back Dr. Wilson's report, and see that it is circulated to your colleagues, and that you will do nothing more than that? Is that an accurate statement?

Mr. REEDY. I mean to say more. I mean to say that insofar as I am expected to participate in this, I am going to continue, with those persons with whom I work, in the study of this issue, and when I have reached the point that the course of action is definitely clear, I will take my stand at that time.

President JERNIGAN. All right. Now what further material, Mr. Reedy, do you think you're going to need in order to make up your mind? Could I ask? That is, what kinds of material?

Mr. REEDY. Yes, that is really a helpful question.

President JERNIGAN, Okay.

Mr. REEDY. Because I share with Mr. Dwight-and we have exchanged some discussions on this subject as late as yesterday—this basic question which I believe you can help to clarify—if not now, we would like clarification eventually. We wonder whether the position of the National Federation of the Blind in regard to NAC grows out of your opposition to the basic concept of accreditation as set forth in that project, or is your main question on the organization of NAC and the methods under which they operate?

President JERNIGAN. Well let me tell you that now. That's simple enough. It has been stated publicly, it has been sent to your office, it has been sent to Dr. Salmon, it has been circulated to all Members of the Congress: We are not opposed to accreditation. NAC says we're lying about that: that we really are and just won't admit it. Well, we're not; we're not opposed to accreditation. I'll say it for you again: we're not opposed to accreditation. We are opposed to the way NAC is structured. We think NAC is undemocratic, we think it's done a disservice to blind people, we think it's hurting blind people. We are opposed to what it is doing, not to the generalized concept of accreditation. That's clear. [Cheers.] May I ask what other material you may need for decision-making?

Mr. REEDY. I'm sorry, I missed the question.

President JERNIGAN. You said that that was one thing you needed in order to make up your mind on what your stand would be, and I said is there anything else we could tell you now, or provide, that would be helpful.

Mr. REEDY. Well, I could not tell you anything just immediately, but I'm sure we will need your help in the coming days and weeks as this is studied, and I will not hesitate to be in touch with you.


[The following editorial by Jack Nelson appeared in the May-June 1973 issue of the Minnesota Bulletin, publication of the NFB of Minnesota. The title of the editorial is "Will we pay the price?"]

I'm sure no one of us can seriously question the NFB's goals of security, equality, and opportunity for all visually handicapped people.

Let's look for a moment at some of the things currently under consideration—like the proposed changes in the Social Security Act? the nationwide push for elimination of discrimination? the drive to make the blind person's right to conduct business in public buildings not only a matter of law, but a matter of fact? . . .

Just the three items mentioned would mean millions, yes, even billions of dollars to the blind of this Nation. But how do we get them enacted?

I think it must start on a very personal level. The local NFB organization is the key. The person who collects tickets at a banquet: the person who sells donation tickets in his neighborhood; the person who unselfishly donates his time and talents on important and not so important committees-these are the backbone of our organization. They may not get the headlines or be given honorary memberships, but they are what makes it work.

But the sad part of it is that these jobs go begging. In an organization that exists solely to benefit not only its own members, but all blind people, this is a shame on us all. It is a shame, of course, on those who choose not to serve. But also a shame on those who do, because they fail to pass on their dedication to others.

If by now you feel the urge to serve, won't you please contact your elected officials and inform them of your desires. The very future of our organization and the future of all blind depend on this type of dedication.

And God help the day when widespread volunteerism ceases to exist in our organization. Of course, our organization itself would continue, but it would be controlled by fewer and fewer persons. And then personal egos get more important than organizational goals. And professionalism replaces dedication. And we have the start of another nonclient-centered blind agency.

So volunteer—your future depends on it!

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Professor of Political Science
University of Colorado
July 1973

If our forefathers were persuaded that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, our contemporaries are convinced that the price of vigilance is group solidarity and organizational strength. This is so, quite simply, because the forces which most seriously threaten our independence and our personal freedom are themselves impressively organized, effectively interrelated, and awesomely financed. They are, moreover, religiously committed to surveillance of and control over the most intimate details of our lives and lifestyles. I refer, of course, to the elaborate bureaucratic extensions—public, quasipublic, and private—of what we have come to call the Social Service State.

It matters not that the men and women who compose these institutions are professionally trained, benevolently motivated, and industriously involved. What does matter is the coordinated and pervasive power of this system to define for us our lives and futures, to ignore our demands for
self-determination, and to exclude us from the decision-making process. What matters even more is the hard political fact that such organizational power can be controlled and domesticated only by means of an equally effective and devoted organizational effort on the part of all of us who are the objects of manipulation and custodialization.

It is for these reasons that groups such as the NFB must exist, must continue to prosper and to grow, and above all, must penetrate to the vital center of the bureaucratic machine in order to assume a major representative role in the decision-making process. This imperative, of course, is perceived by the official establishment as a mortal threat to its power and autonomy, and so the legitimate demands of organizations representing the consumer are resisted tenaciously, guilefully, and vindictively.

Nowhere is this simple truth better illustrated than in the structure and operation of the American welfare establishment. An establishment composed of many mutually reinforcing parts—Federal, State, and private agencies, organizations of professional practitioners, individual career administrators; an establishment possessing a life of its own, transcending the mortality of individual participants, and professing a rigid and unchanging orthodoxy.

And perhaps the most dramatic and in many ways the most horrifying manifestation of this establishment in action is NAC—the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped. In March of this year I was invited by the Director of Social and Rehabilitation Service, HEW, to serve on a site-visit team which, in his words, was to conduct a special, independent review of NAC for the specific purpose of evaluating the serious and detailed charges which had been leveled against that organization by the NFB. As an independent, professional, and I hope somewhat objective political scientist. I expected to be joined on the proposed team by other impartial investigators who, having familiarized themselves with the essence of the Federation's contentions, would pursue an agenda organized around those contentions. After all, correspondence between SRS and such congressional leaders as Senators Goldwater and Pastore clearly established our site-visit project as a response to congressional, and hence public, suspicions that NAC is the embodiment of irresponsibility, indifference, and client manipulation.

Alas, the reality bore little relationship to the expectation. Like Alice's visit to Wonderland, my expedition into NAC-land became "curiouser and curiouser" as it unfolded. The first of these curiosities concerned the character and background of my team colleagues. All but myself were employees of Federal agencies. While three of the team members were themselves blind, only one of those, Mr. Hefner from the Postal Service, possessed any previous concern for or sympathy with organizations of the blind. Moreover, three members, Mr. Reed, Mr. Rives, and Mr. Profitt, were employed by HEW, the very agency whose judgment was in serious question for providing over half of NAC's financing from its inception. Further, these three, along with a fourth, Mr. Arthur Korn from the Labor Department, had been deeply involved in the organization and operation of COMSTAC, NAC's parent organization. All were confirmed and comfortable members of the Nation's welfare establishment, and thus the professional reputations of all had long been committed to the successful operation of NAC.

But the curiosities do not end here. Upon convening, Mr. Reed informed us that his superior, the Director of SRS, had designated Mr. James Hyde of the OMB to act as our chairman; no one, you will note, even suggested that we elect our own chairman. Further, the Director had authorized his own subordinate. Mr. Reed, to draft the report, the findings, and the recommendations emerging from our "investigation," taking into account (to what extent was not specified) the oral views of other team members. We were assured, however, that Mr. Reed's account would not constitute the final product. Rather, that would be produced by the Director of SRS himself, who, in his absolute discretion, would include or reject any of the views contained in Mr. Reed's draft, or more significantly, any of the views of other team members as expressed in minority reports.

The objectivity, independence, and impartiality of the site-visit team and its procedures having thus been firmly established, the ground rules of the investigation were revealed unto us. Our proceedings, it seems, were to be confidential and secret. Neither the identities nor the contributions of the participants were to be made public, nor were the conclusions and judgments of any member of the team to go beyond the Director of SRS. Solemn warnings against "leaks" were issued, although Mr. Reed, after persistent questioning, could not give us a persuasive legal reason for his apparent belief that the First Amendment had been repealed. Needless to say, I refused to participate in such a Watergate-type concealment operation and gave no assurance that I would observe these outrageous proposals to hide the public's business from the public.

Thus, the site-visit team was dominated by individuals with deep prior commitments to the prevailing goals and philosophy of NAC; the procedures to be followed were carefully designed to obscure and to eliminate criticism of or disagreement with NAC's activities and accomplishments. Even so, I retained some hope that our investigation could produce useful results. After all, the basic purpose of our enquiry had been clearly stated in the correspondence between SRS and influential members of the Senate and the House of Representatives; that correspondence explicitly contained a promise and a commitment that the site-visit team could concentrate its efforts on, and would explore in depth, the many serious charges which had been leveled against NAC by the blind and their organizations.

My hopes began immediately to fade as I reviewed the agenda presented to us by Mr. Reed on behalf of SRS. Of the ten items listed for consideration, only one specifically referred to the NFB's charges against NAC; two others referred to issues that had, at one time or another, been raised by the NFB. The bulk of the agenda, however, pertained to the history, structure, financing, and procedures of NAC and presumably encompassed descriptive materials with which the site-team members were, or should have been, familiar.

The agenda, however, did not provide an accurate guide to what transpired. To be sure, the site-visit team was treated to a lengthy and tedious narrative of NAC's structure, functions, and procedures. But that narrative was intended to, and in fact did function, as a propaganda vehicle by means of which the NAC staff and some of its board members mounted a direct attack on the blind citizens of this country, their representative organizations in general, and the NFB in particular.

We had been appointed by a public agency to investigate a recipient of public funds in order to protect the public interest. Instead, NAC officials sought to treat us as a captive audience to be indoctrinated with the precepts of welfare orthodoxy. More shocking, however, NAC witnesses on several occasions sought to investigate us. For example, during the course of our day-and-a-half visit, Mr. Alexander Handel, NAC's executive director, frequently demanded that I explain the reasons and motivations for the questions which I put to him and his staff. On other occasions he insisted that I communicate to those present my own philosophy of services to the blind and my own evaluation of the NFB and the charges which it has directed at NAC. That I refused to cooperate in such an outrageous reversal of roles is not the point to be emphasized here. Rather, I would direct your attention to the arrogance, the self-righteousness, and the sense of divine mission by the entire NAC establishment which emerges from these efforts on the part of the interrogated to become the interrogators.

But, if this was the thrust and temper of our so-called investigative efforts, what of the specifics?

The warp threads around which NAC wove its fabric of rationalization and self-justification were prominent and easily identified. First, we were told that professional training and technical expertise are the necessary and sufficient qualifications for persons working with and for the blind. From this it follows that persons with such qualifications may justifiably claim a monopoly in this field of endeavor. Second, it is the major purpose of NAC to promote, protect, and legitimatize that claimed monopoly. Third, and closely related to the first two, since most consumers of agency services—the blind themselves—do not possess the requisite professional and technical competence, they must be excluded from significant participation in agency functions and policy-making. Fourth, if the blind have no participatory role at the agency level, then equally they have none at the supervisory level where agency standards are formulated and applied. Fifth, if the blind as consumers are to be excluded from participation on both of these levels, then they have no need for complete information about the results of decision-making at either level, hence the meetings of NAC boards and commissions may be closed to them as well as to other "nonprofessionals." Sixth, and finally, since NAC's staff and board regard all of the foregoing propositions as the revealed truth and beyond dispute, it follows that anyone who challenges these propositions is necessarily a power-seeker who can be motivated only by such ignoble considerations as self-interest and personal aggrandizement. Hence, the NFB and its officers, who do indeed dispute these propositions, can be dismissed as either irrelevant or as venal agitators.

Now obviously, these basic premises were not bluntly and clearly communicated to us in logical order by NAC's staff and board members. Rather they had to be extracted, bit by bit, through a painful process of interrogation. Our witnesses engaged in considerable fencing and evasion before they were willing to spell out with any precision the fundamental assumptions underlying their philosophy and outlook. Take, for example, the question of consumer representation on NAC boards and commissions and consumer participation in NAC decision-making processes. Consumers, we were told, are already "represented" on the NAC Board since six of its twenty-nine members are themselves blind. Further, it was alleged that consumers presently do "participate" in NAC policy-making since all blind persons and groups are free to communicate their views to NAC boards, commissions, and accrediting teams—in fact, they are encouraged to do so.

Of course, a few of us on the site-visit team pointed out that Mr. Handel, Mr. Brandon, and Mr. Robinson were referring here not to representation and participation, but to tokenism and advisory consultation. It cannot be disputed that throughout the history of American interest groups— representation in agriculture, labor, business, the professions—persons entitled to be called representatives were selected by and are solely responsible to the particular group whose interests they seek to protect. The Administration does not and may not select for the citizens of any congressional district who is to represent us in Congress; we determine that through our political parties for ourselves. General Motors does not designate for its employees who is to represent them in collective bargaining; workers determine that through their unions. The same principle must apply to consumer-protection groups, including of course, consumers of blind services. For a decision-making body such as NAC to unilaterally decide who is to join its board as a spokesman for the Nation's blind citizens constitutes a flat repudiation of the principle of representation.

Similar comment may be made about NAC's peculiar definition of the term "participation." Every decision-making process involves a wide range of "inputs": consultation, advice, petition, directed research, et cetera. The information yielded by these techniques is accepted, rejected, or modified at the absolute discretion of the decision-makers. An advisor or a consultant may or may not influence a decision; but by definition, he does not participate in making the decision. Hence, meaningful participation by the blind in the affairs of NAC can only be defined as voting membership on the NAC Board, its commissions, and accrediting teams by persons who are genuine representatives of the blind.

Since these simple propositions are semantically obvious, our NAC witnesses retreated, albeit with ill grace, to a second line of defense. If we were going to be so unmannerly as to insist upon an accurate definition of terms, then we would simply have to realize that true representation of and participation by blind consumers is not appropriate or relevant to NAC's structure and purposes. First, we were informed, the consumers of NAC services are not blind clients themselves, but rather the four hundred or so public and private agencies which provide services for the blind. Hence, true consumer representation and participation in NAC's functions must be limited to agency representatives. But even Mr. Handel was forced to abandon this position when it was pointed out to him that a majority of NAC's present board are not themselves agency people, and indeed, have no contact with particular agencies. Greater weight was then placed on a second argument. As a general principle, we were told, consumers have never participated in the accreditation process, nor should they. After all, students in our public schools do not participate in educational accreditation and they are not equipped to do so. Similarly, sick people—patients, if you will—are not involved in the process of licensing physicians or hospitals.

Throughout the course of our deliberation, NAC spokesmen clung to these specious and silly analogies with an unshakeable tenacity. The implications of equating mature citizens who happen to be sightless with the dependent juvenile and the permanently or temporarily disabled sick person appeared to escape our witness entirely. The child and the patient are, for a time at least, necessarily wards of and are dependent upon the teacher and the physician. A blind person, however, like any other responsible citizen, is one who seeks certain services and help in order to pursue his own independently determined life goals. NAC's reliance upon this analogy starkly reveals its basic commitment to a policy of custodialization. If analogical argument is to be employed here, it would be far more accurate to equate blind persons seeking agency services with blacks or chicanes seeking to vindicate their civil rights or with workers seeking to improve their incomes and working conditions. Finally, the exclusion of blind consumers from participation in NAC's accrediting activities constitutes a much greater restraint on their freedom than is the case when children or their parents and sick people are excluded from participation in educational or medical accreditation. This is so because the child, along with his parents, and the patient both have a vast range of choice in selecting the teachers and schools or the doctors and hospitals which are best suited to their independently determined purposes. Blind consumers, however, and particularly impecunious ones, have virtually no choice in determining which agencies will serve them or what services will be provided. Clearly, an unrepresentative monopoly of the accreditation function has vastly different consequences in the education and health fields than it does in the area of blind services.

Although our NAC witnesses refused to abandon this spurious analogy, they sought to reinforce their case against consumer representation and participation by advancing yet a third argument—the assumptions of which are more fundamental and more devastating in their implications than are any of those we have so far examined. I refer here particularly to the remarks of Mr. Daniel D. Robinson who, I understand, has just become the new president of NAC's board of directors. Less inclined than his NAC colleagues to engage in devious rhetoric and diversionary analogies, Mr. Robinson put his case with ominous candor. The vast majority of the blind, he bluntly informed us, are unable intelligently to plan their lives and their futures, are incapable of determining the kinds of services they need for improving the quality of their lives, and above all, are ill-equipped to evaluate the results or to measure the success of the agencies which serve them. Only the trained professional is competent to set agency standards, to apply those standards and to weigh the final output. Expertise, technical sophistication, professionalization—these he alleged to be the true measures of agency improvement, and not vague feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction as reported by blind clients.

To be sure, he conceded, both NAC and the agencies it accredits could do a better job in soliciting the reactions of blind consumers to the quality of the services they receive. But caution is required here. In the first place, it is inordinately expensive and time-consuming to identify, locate, and interview blind consumers who have previously received agency services. NAC accrediting teams are staffed by volunteers who even now have insufficient time to inspect the really important aspects of agency operation—purpose, structure, procedures, staffing, accounting methods, et cetera. In the second place, even the trained professional lacks the tools and the knowledge accurately to measure the end results of agency services. If the expert cannot determine whether the consumer has been benefited or disadvantaged, certainly the consumer himself is in no position to make such a judgment.

Now this is a mind-boggling proposition. Only the trained professional knows how to do it, but neither he nor anybody else knows what he has done, or whether it is any good, after he has finished doing it. When asked how one can have any confidence in a process that is directed toward an unknown and unknowable end product, Mr. Robinson was only temporarily discomfited. The dilemma is a universal one, he assured us. It is always easier to measure and evaluate processes and procedures than it is to judge the quality and soundness of the end result. And besides, he assured us, NAC is working on the problem of how to determine whether what the agencies have done was worth doing in the first place.

It was next suggested that organizations of the blind, such as the NFB, might be able to tell NAC and its accredited agencies whether consumers were being ill-served or well-served. Reaction to this heretical proposition was uniform, startling, and explosive. I learned, to my dismay, that the National Federation of the Blind is composed of well-meaning but confused blind people who have been duped, deceived, misled, and hypnotized by a small group of venal and power-hungry officers. The devil's true name, I discovered, is really not Satan, but Jernigan. I can seriously tell you that never in my professional career have I observed supposedly educated men descend to such levels of vituperation and hysteria. No effort was made by Alexander Handel, Peter Salmon, or Daniel Robinson to conceal their scornful, contemptuous, and derisive attitudes towards the officers of this Federation. Your President, Mr. Jernigan, was accused of deceit and trickery. His sole motive, it was alleged, is either to capture control of NAC in order to feed his insatiable desire for personal power, or else to destroy NAC completely.

It is my considered judgment that by their excessive and hysterical attack upon the officers of the NFB, those members of the NAC staff and board whom we interviewed have revealed themselves to be emotionally unfit and intellectually incapable of exercising the leadership roles to which they pretend. Immobilized by personal vindictiveness and locked into a discredited and discreditable welfare philosophy, these men are constitutionally incapable of either understanding or coping with the serious substantive charges which the NFB has leveled against them and their organization.

From this brief summary of our site-visit it is clear that the experience was a sobering and an ominous one. The results that have thus far emerged from it are equally disturbing. Although the initial draft of Mr. Reed's report to the Director of SRS was supposed to have been circulated among the site-team members by mid-April, I received a copy of it just five days ago. The heart of that report consists of eight recommendations for improving NAC's performance. In substance, these recommendations are pallid, vague, ambiguous, incomplete, often irrelevant, and disastrously inadequate. Services for the blind, it is asserted, need to be strengthened; and in order to accomplish this the accreditation process must be strengthened. But why and in what ways are present services inadequate? Why and in what ways are existing NAC standards inadequate? What specific remedies are required? How are needed remedies to be initiated and implemented? There is not a single reference in the draft report to these absolutely crucial issues.

The report further recommends that membership on NAC boards, commissions, and committees should be "representative." But who is to be represented? Specifically, (and I quote), "consumer agencies, individual consumers, and persons with experience in various areas of concern." Conspicuously absent here is any reference to the insistent and legitimate demands of organizations of the blind for a representative, participatory voice in NAC's operations.

How are persons representing agencies, individual consumers, and "those with expertise" to be selected? The report tells us that although suggestions are to be solicited from a variety of sources, "final selection remains the responsibility of the board of directors." Clearly, these selectees will owe their ultimate allegiance and responsibility to NAC's board and not to the groups from which they are drawn. In no meaningful sense, then, will they be representatives of those groups.

The report makes yet another gesture in the direction of participatory democracy by urging the establishment of a "consumer council" which will include two types of consumers: "consumer agencies who utilize accreditation services" and "individual consumers" who utilize agency services. Again, organizations controlled by and responsible to consumers themselves are conspicuously excluded. Of greater moment, the proposed consumer council is clearly intended as an advisory and not a participatory body.

And how is NAC's discreditable practice of secrecy and closed meetings to be handled? The report suggests that NAC Board meetings "be made accessible," that there be "open hearings before the council." and that Board decisions be "publicly disclosed." But what, exactly is the meaning of that grandly vague term, "accessible?" Are representatives of consumer organizations to be allowed to attend any and all decision-making sessions conducted by any and all of NAC's structural components? To require anything less is to fatally compromise the principles of disclosure and openness. And which specific deliberations on what specific issues are to be subject to the "open hearings" requirement? Does the requirement extend to the initiation of new standards or to the revision of old ones? To evaluations of the quality and scope of agency services? To personnel decisions? The report is specific only with respect to the accreditation process itself. "Accreditation review," it states "should continue as an 'executive session' activity of the NAC Board."

Finally, while there is a recommendation for public disclosure of board decisions, critical and vitally necessary information about the grounds and reasons for those decisions is apparently to remain secret.

The general thrust of the draft report, then, is consistent with the atmosphere and flavor of the investigation which produced it. Both the report and the investigation reflect NAC's self-perception as the high-priesthood of the community of those who serve the blind. Both the report and the investigation reveal the almost religious fervor of NAC's commitment to an unconscionable and indefensible philosophy of blind services. Both the report and the investigation confirm my reluctant conviction that NAC's staff and board will never willingly respond to, nor will they ever seek effectively to implement, the pervasive and indispensable changes which are so imperatively required to liberate the Nation's blind from their prison of custodialization.

You, as representatives of the blind community, must now assume responsibility for confronting and overcoming the conditions and the consequences revealed by this investigation and the initial draft report which emerged from it. For my part, I shall undertake two further tasks. First, I shall file with the Director of SRS the strongest dissenting opinion of which I am capable. Neither you nor I, however, can have much hope that such a dissent will significantly affect the final outcome. Second, I shall deliver to your President, Mr. Jernigan, copies of the remarks I have made here this morning, as well as copies of the minority report which I intend to submit to the Director of SRS. I shall, however, impose a condition on the use which Mr. Jernigan makes of these materials. It is a basic premise of the Washington bureaucracy that, in the interest of secrecy and confidentiality, important documents should be transmitted only to those "who need to know." Presumably, those who "need to know" are those whose official duties and responsibilities are in some way related to the papers and documents they receive. Therefore, I hereby advise and warn Mr. Jernigan that he is to disseminate the materials which I give him only to those "who need to know," and I further instruct him that the only persons "who need to know" are the citizens of the United States—both sighted and blind—whose official duties and responsibilities pertain to the business of governing themselves.

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As Monitor readers know, the National Accreditation Council (NAC) for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped tried to avoid confrontation with the blind by shifting its summer 1973 meeting from downtown Cleveland in July, to the out-of-the-way O'Hare Inn in Des Plaines, Illinois, June 20-21. According to NAC's president, Dr. Peter Salmon, the decision to shift the time and place of the meeting was made by the NAC Executive Committee April 25. As usual, the NAC Executive Committee met in closed, secret session. At that time it apparently also decided to exclude observers from its summer meeting. All of this contradicted NAC statements in recent months concerning "openness" and a wish to work with the blind in partnership.

Some three hundred blind people from throughout the Nation went to Chicago in June to confront NAC. The condition and location of the O'Hare Inn underscored the fact that NAC was literally trying to "hide" from the blind. Construction was taking place at the inn, and there was virtually no area for pedestrian traffic at all. Nevertheless, the blind found NAC.

Many of the demonstrators arrived Tuesday afternoon, June 19. The rest came Wednesday morning. The first activity was a press coference held by the NFB President at 10:00 o'clock Wednesday morning at the LaSalle Hotel. A formal statement was read (reprinted elsewhere in this issue), and questions were answered.

Next, the blind demonstrated and marched at Chicago's Civic Center. Signs were carried containing such messages as: "NAC Unfair to Blind"; "No Accreditation Without Representation"; and "Fifty Thousand Blind People Cannot Be Wrong." The demonstrators were so orderly and dignified in their behavior as to attract comment from observers.

In the meantime action was taking place at the O'Hare Inn. As the NAC Board members arrived, they were met by hundreds of blind people carrying signs and asking for reform of NAC. The message was conveyed, and the impact was felt. Kelly Girls had been hired by NAC and were stationed in the doorway to carry out surveillance of the demonstration. Miss Ann New (NAC staff member) stated that the Kelly Girls were there to do typing for NAC—a truly remarkable statement in view of the fact that there were no desks or typewriters in the doorway. The Kelly Girls were there hour after hour, and they talked with many of the blind demonstrators. Presumably they were paid partially from Federal funds. Surely the Congress did not intend tax dollars to be spent in such a manner.

Two Federation observers were allowed to attend the NAC Board meeting Thursday morning, but they were not permitted to speak. The NFB President had prepared a brief memorandum to be distributed to the NAC board members. The text of the memorandum is as follows:

The National Federation of the Blind asks that copies of the minutes of the NAC Board meeting being held today, and of all future board meetings, be sent to the Federation so that the blind of the Nation may have an official record of your proceedings. Further, the events of the past few months make it clear that the NAC Executive Committee makes policy decisions, often in direct contravention of actions taken by the NAC Board. Therefore, we also ask that we be notified of the time and place of all future meetings of the NAC Executive Committee and that we be permitted to have observers at those meetings. We would also suggest that our observers be allowed a reasonable amount of time (both at NAC Executive Committee meetings and NAC Board meetings) to bring to NAC matters of concern to the blind.

The NFB observers were told by the NAC president that the memorandum would be distributed before the meeting was ended. When it became clear that this promise was not going to be kept, one of our observers rose and reminded the NAC president of his promise. The NAC president replied that the NAC Executive Committee had decided distribution of the memorandum would not be appropriate. It goes without saying that the Federation observers were not permitted to speak. Thus, NAC broke another promise and failed to live up to another commitment. It added one more page to its shameful record of arrogance, condescension, and betrayal.

There was a considerable amount of television and newspaper coverage of the demonstration. Perhaps the best coverage occurred early Thursday morning when the NFB President was interviewed on the Chicago Today television program. (Excerpts from that interview appear elsewhere in this issue.)

A number of the demonstrators wrote statements concerning their observations and impressions. Some of these comments are reprinted in this issue.

Undoubtedly, the Chicago confrontation was a milestone in the progress of the blind. Perhaps its greatest value lay in its effect upon the blind demonstrators themselves. Many of them had never met NAC members or seen them before. It is one thing to read or hear about condescension and arrogance. It is something else entirely to see it firsthand. There was plenty to see. Mr. Dan Robinson (the newly elected president of NAC and a New York partner in the firm of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company) is a very excitable man. He is, as the saying goes, "short fused." He raised his voice and became red in the face. He did not want to talk with the blind at all. He told the press that it was all "a power struggle."

Presumably he thought this was a devastating charge. But in a very real sense he is right in saying it is all a power struggle. Any time the members of a minority group try to gain control of their own lives and have some say in their own destinies, it necessarily means that the custodians must give up some of their power. Yes, we are in a power struggle.

Not only was the meeting important for its impact upon the blind but it was also important for its impact upon the NAC members. They saw, and they got the message—regardless of how hard they try to deny it, even to themselves. They know that the blind are on the move and that more is to come.

Finally, the Chicago confrontation was important because of its impact upon the public. Once the public really becomes aware of the facts, no power on earth can save NAC. Let NAC try to hide and equivocate and bluster and misrepresent. It will make no difference. NAC's days are numbered.

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BOB HALE. Good Morning. This is Today in Chicago. It is Thursday. June 21st, and I'm Bob Hale. We welcome you to our friendly little gathering for this morning. . . . What do you think of when you mention the title—the name blind person? Well, to some people it's the man walking across the street with a white cane and a dog, while to others it may be Ray Charles. Well, there are some people who aren't happy with that image. Mr. Kenneth Jernigan, who is the President of the National Federation of the Blind, is our guest this morning. We're going to talk to him in just a few minutes about a protest his organization held here in Chicago. Against whom and why: that will be the subject of a conversation in a moment.

Mr. Kenneth Jernigan is our guest—the President of the National Federation of the Blind. Yesterday the NFB conducted a protest here in Chicago. To find out against whom that protest was held and why, we've invited Mr. Jernigan to be with us. First of all, who is the National Federation of the Blind? What is your organization, Mr. Jernigan?

President JERNIGAN. Well the National Federation of the Blind is the largest national organization of blind people in this country. We have affiliated chapters in almost every State, and we have about fifty thousand members. And we are the blind speaking for themselves, as opposed to a social, charitable agency or something of that sort which is not a membership group.

BOB HALE. Well, now you mentioned that you had a protest yesterday. You came to Chicago to protest the meeting of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped; N-A-C is their title. Who are they?

President JERNIGAN. Well, the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped—or, as we call it. NAC—is the organization—it's a private, unofficial group—sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind, which receives a good deal of Federal money out of Health, Education, and Welfare—which is, we think, hurting the lives of blind people and which has set itself up as a self-appointed spokesman for the blind. We think we ought to be able to speak for ourselves. It wants to determine which agencies doing work in the field will be accredited and which will not, and we think this is harmful. Even if it were doing the right thing in accreditation, even if it were accrediting on good standards—which it isn't, in our judgment—then still we wouldn't like it. We wouldn't because it goes on the assumption that we as blind people should not have any input to it, that we have no right to a voice in it. They, as a matter of fact, were supposed to meet in Cleveland in July according to their own Board of Directors' vote, and they found we were going to come and protest—and we've been peaceful about it—and so they did a switch all of a sudden, shifted their meeting to Chicago, out at the O'Hare Inn to try to hide from us, but we found them. We were also here at the Civic Center yesterday talking about them.

BOB HALE. Well—if I may—were you perhaps overstating the case or were they really hiding from you?

President JERNIGAN. No, I think they were literally hiding from us. Look at it like this. They had announced twice publicly that they were meeting in Cleveland in a downtown area—their own board had voted to do that. Then they changed, by action of their executive committee, their meeting from a downtown area to Des Plaines, and at the O'Hare Inn. There's construction going on there now; there's very little pedestrian traffic or area there. I think they were literally hiding from us.

BOB HALE. Well, what is the rub? You mentioned before you don't like the standards they use for accrediting agencies which are going to serve the blind. What's wrong with their accreditation standards?

President JERNIGAN. Well, I'd say there are two things wrong with them. In the first place, the standards themselves aren't good and in the second place their method of doing it is not good. Now let's talk first about the standards themselves. They, for instance, will accredit an agency doing work for the blind, let us say a sheltered workshop. There are some shops in the country that are specifically set up for the blind, and whether that is a good thing or not they exist, and many of those shops pay subminimum wages. You have one right here in Chicago, the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. It pays very often as little as a dollar an hour to people and sometimes less. NAC will accredit agencies, and has accredited this one, regardless of that. This is not much of a consideration with them. Well, we think that when they say this is an accredited agency and put their stamp of approval on it, that the public is likely then to think that this agency is operating in a standard rather than a substandard way, and it is misleading, and that tends to hurt blind people. This is an example of the kind of thing that gives us problems with their standards. But now, beyond that is the more basic question: If you had a standard set up, or standard-setting group for, let us say, blacks, and you did not have representatives of black organizations on it, regardless of what kind of standards they set up, then the black people are going to resent that. If you had somebody set up to establish standards for farmers and you do not have farm representatives on it and the Agriculture Department said, "Well, we know what's best—as a matter of fact we have a farmer or two in the Agriculture Department—so we are going to set the standards." The answer is, "no way." You are not going to set the standards for us if we are a democratic group. We are going to set our own standards.

BOB HALE. You're saying then that NAC does not have any blind people working with them.

President JERNIGAN. Now, sir, they have some blind people. They have tokenism. The blacks are very familiar with that term and there are Uncle Toms in the blind movement as well as the black movement. But the fact that a guy is blind doesn't mean he can speak for blind people unless someone elected him to do just that. I'm not saying that all the blind people who are on NAC have been bought and paid for, but I am telling you this: that blind people are just as susceptible to selling out as sighted people are. We are just human beings, and so the fact that you've got a blind person on a board doesn't mean that he can speak for the blind. We've got tokenism aplenty and it is reinforced by the stereotypes. Let me give you one example. You know, people used to think of all blacks as watermelon-eating, feet-shuffling, rhythm people. All right now, those who recognize the stereotypes now are sure some black people like watermelon and so do some white people. Nothing wrong with it. Now, on the other hand, we have people who come around to some of the meetings dealing with blind persons, and they think of blind persons as people who are very gentle, who need a lot of help, who are musically inclined (we also have the music stereotype; most second-class groups do, you know); and so these people think in terms like this. Yesterday we had a protest here, and we passed out leaflets, and we carried signs, and there were over three hundred of us from all over the Nation protesting the use of Federal tax dollars to support this group called NAC which we think is hurting the lives of blind people. Now I say all of that to show how strong the stereotype is. See, that doesn't fit the notion of what blind people are—these gentle, musical people who need the help of social agencies; and, therefore, what does the Chicago Tribune have in its early morning edition concerning blindness? Two stories; and they fit the stereotype beautifully. I'm not knocking either story; but one of them says, "Blind, He Teaches Music in the City Schools"; and the other one says, "Busy Blind Man Finds Time to Help Children." Well, you know, fine; bully for the music; and the children; and the busy blind man; no objection. All I am saying is, it fits the stereotype beautifully, so of course it gets printed. But when we are dealing with something affecting the lives of all the blind people in this country and we are trying our best to take that story to the public, it doesn't fit the stereotype of the Wind man, and, therefore, it doesn't get printed.

BOB HALE. What would you Uke to see happen? Most protests also have a positive suggestion, not only negative. What is your positive suggestion?

President JERNIGAN. Well, one of the most positive suggestions we can have is for the National Accreditation Council Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped to go out of business. But let's put that aside, and talk about what we have asked these people to do. We have asked these people to let us have some consumer representatives on their board—not just blind people, let me make it clear, but blind people responsible to a constituency. That's one thing. We've also asked them to hold their meetings in public, not in secret. As an example, they not only tried to hide from us—by meeting here in Chicago when they had announced they would meet somewhere else—but they told us they wouldn't permit us to have observers in their meetings even though they are financed with Federal tax money and have spent over $600,000 of it. They told us that we might not be permitted to have any observers even sit in their meeting. We've had Congressmen work on them, and so forth. Now, they have then said, with bad temper and ill grace: all right, we will let you have some observers because we fear violence from you. Well, you know, that also violates the stereotype of blind people. We are not about to have violence with them, but what we are about to do is to let enough of the public know—one way or another despite the stereotypes and the music and the rest—we are going to let enough of the public know that they'll have to operate openly, and they will have to let blind people and the representatives of blind people have some chance to participate in their decisions.

BOB HALE. Have they made any suggestions or have they made any overtures to invite blind people to join their organization?

President JERNIGAN. They suggested that we were hurting all blind people by calling this to the attention of the public and that we go home and let them operate in peace, which is a fine thing. When some of the news media last December called up the NAC office and said, "Tell us, why shouldn't blind people have some input to this—that is, consumer representatives." Their answer was, "After all, we know what they want. Do you ask patients in a hospital?" Our answer is: we are not patients in a hospital, and we are not children, and we are not wards, and we are going to be heard.

BOB HALE. What is your next move?

President JERNIGAN. By the way, we're out there again at the O'Hare Inn this morning, about three hundred of us, carrying signs and peacefully demonstrating. We have two observers in the NAC meeting because NAC said it was afraid we would be violent if it didn't let them in. They ought to feel that way. It is a guilt complex on their part.

BOB HALE. Well, do you feel that if anyone from NAC is watching this morning at the O'Hare Inn that the relationship between the two organizations would improve, or do you feel it might be a little more strained?

President JERNIGAN. Look, they are not interested in having improved relations. They have made it perfectly clear they don't want any consumer participation and they have also said, "This is a power struggle." And my answer is: partly perhaps a power struggle, in the sense that any time an establishment thinks it has power and tries to keep a minority from expressing itself, of course it has to do with its balances of power. So we accept that. That's fine. But what we are going to do is to urge every member of the public possible to write their Congressmen to ask that the National Accreditation Council be investigated. We're going to ask that the public put pressure every way it can, to see that the blind get an input. We're going to inform people and we're going to keep at it until these people become responsive.

BOB HALE. Mr. Kenneth Jernigan has been our guest. He is the President of the National Federation of the Blind. As you know and can tell, a most articulate man. We thank you for coming, Mr. Jernigan; and I wish you well in your struggles, sir.

President JERNIGAN. Thank you for having us.

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On the Barricades in Chicago: A Preface

I had arrived in Chicago early Tuesday morning to serve, along with John Taylor, as an official observer during the NAC meetings on June 20-21. I was also there to work on the demonstrations by more than three hundred Federationists who had come, by every means imaginable, from throughout the country to let the members of NAC's Board know just how the blind of this country feel about their kind of "accreditation without representation."

Tuesday was hectic. We were busily preparing for a press conference for Dr. Jernigan for early Wednesday morning. When the busload of Federationists from California arrived, they all pitched in. As others arrived, things began to fall into place. Finally, Don Morris and I braved the late afternoon Chicago traffic and the outrageously expensive cab fares to venture downtown to finish arrangements for the press conference.

When we returned, materials and signs were ready.

The first feeling of great excitement was apparent when those present met in Don's suite in mid-evening. Following the meeting, a few of us who had not had time earlier sought dinner. As a foreshadowing of the next two days, this was hardly finished when we learned that the Iowans, more than seventy strong, had arrived at the hotel. Again, we met to outline plans.

The next morning, Wednesday, we left a good-sized contingent at the O'Hare Inn to picket as NAC Board members arrived, and the rest of us ventured downtown.

The press conference went very well. With Dr. Kenneth Jernigan speaking on behalf of the blind of this country, our position was articulately expressed.

By the time those of us who had attended the press conference arrived at Chicago's Civic Center, picket lines were up on all sides. The public of Chicago heard and read our message. With little time to spare, we finally boarded buses and cars and headed for the O'Hare Inn.

When I disappeared to take up my post as an official observer, I was comforted knowing that some three hundred blind persons manned the barricades in front of the hotel and in the central courtyard.

The Girl Scouts Do It! Why Not NAC?

With the moral support gained from knowing that the boards of directors of such groups as the American Red Cross and the Girl Scouts of America hold closed board meetings, the board of directors of NAC, meeting in Chicago on June 21, 1973, reaffirmed their policy of "openness" with closed meetings.

McCallister Upshaw, board member from Detroit, moved the resolution. Although, in the future, any guests attending a board meeting will have to be there on special invitation from the board of directors, Mr. Upshaw said he didn't feel that the two observers from the NFB should be asked to leave. (One has to wonder what position he would have taken if a representative from Dialogue magazine had not also been in attendance.)

The only dissention against the resolution came from our beloved "Uncle Bob," Bob Barnett, from the AFB. No, he wasn't opposing the idea of closed meetings. He simply felt the whole discussion was a waste of time and that NAC ought to get on with the serious items on its agenda. Based on the quick, unanimous vote in favor of the resolution, one can assume that all of the board members thought consumer participation a waste of time.

A provision of this resolution would allow any group or person who wishes to present to the board a matter dealing with NAC to do so. It is important to note this section of the resolution for it was less than three hours later that NAC, keeping to its true colors, went against its own resolution.

John Taylor had given Peter Salmon copies of a memo from Dr. Jernigan which asked for the minutes of the NAC meeting and asked that the organized blind be permitted two observers at future meetings of the executive committee. John Taylor requested that Mr. Salmon read the memo and distribute copies, which we provided, to the members of the board. Mr. Salmon said that he would do this. Keep in mind that this occurred prior to the adoption of the resolution.

As the NAC meeting was nearing its end, with the members of the board nervously trying to get out to their planes to be jetted home to their agencies and corporations, and the memo still not having been announced, John Taylor addressed the Chair to ask that it be done.

Peter Salmon replied, as my notes reflect, that he had discussed the matter with the NAC executive committee; and that it was felt that it was not an appropriate time to present the matter. A number of items in Mr. Salmon's message should raise the blood pressure of the blind of this country: This action contradicted, if not the letter then at least the professed intent of, the provision of the resolution adopted earlier by the NAC Board allowing presentations to the board. In addition, there had been no mention of any meeting of the executive committee (perhaps Mr. Salmon gauged the sense of the executive committee by consulting with Uncle Bob). Finally, the sequence of events concerning the NFB memo makes it clear that the resolution barring observers from board meetings only formalized what has been the NAC policy all along—claiming "openness" while operating in secrecy.

These actions should provide final proof to any blind person still having questions about it that NAC intends to continue on its merry way, adopting "professional standards" and methods of self-evaluation despite what the blind themselves think. After all, the members of the Board of NAC have devoted years to helping the blind, why shouldn't they know what the blind need?

The annual meeting of NAC took place the previous afternoon, Wednesday, June 20, at Chicago's O'Hare Inn. This was an open membership meeting attended by representatives of agencies accredited by NAC, agencies seeking accreditation, NAC sponsors, NAC Board members, and most anyone else who happened along.

The most serious business conducted at this session was the election of board members to fill vacancies created because of deaths or resignations of current board members, and because some board members were rotating off and could not, for one reason or another, stand for reelection.

Those elected to the board were: Howard Bleakly, formerly of Pennsylvania, now residing in Illinois, apparently appointed because of personal wealth; William T. Coppage, head of the Virginia State agency for the blind; Dr. John Craner, professor of educational psychology at Brigham Young University; Floyd Hammond, coowner of a lumber company in Phoenix, Arizona, also apparently appointed because of his wealth; Howard Hanson, director of the South Dakota State agency for the blind; George Henderson, Jr., vice-president of Burlington Industries, Atlanta, Georgia, again, apparently only for his wealth; [?] Morris, member of the Connecticut State Legislature; Bob Riley, Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas; and Lou Rives, Jr., of the Federal Department of HEW, Civil Rights Division.

Following election of board members, there was a report regarding the revaluation of agencies which had been accredited by NAC. This discussion led to one regarding how an agency might determine its effectiveness.

Dan Robinson, the newly elected president of NAC and a CPA with the acocunting firm of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company, offered the thought that this depended in large measure on the objectives set by the agency. One must assume that, by Mr. Robinson's standards, if a rehabilitation agency sets as its goal the placement of job-hungry blind persons in a sheltered workshop, and if after a year it is determined that all job placements, regardless of skills, have been made in a workshop, then the agency is highly successful.

At 5:00 p.m. the same day there was a cocktail reception at which John Taylor and I divided in an attempt to visit personally with as many members of NAC's board as possible.

I got an opportunity to talk with many of them, including such notables as Dan Robinson and Morton Pepper. I asked Mr. Robinson to define consumer. He had barely gotten into some sort of unintelligible definition (it went something like this: a client is not necessarily a consumer of an agency, nor does a consumer have to be a client) when he announced that his boss, presumably from Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company, had arrived, and he danced out of earshot.

I had the distinct pleasure of dining with Fred Storey, a millionaire NAC Board member from Atlanta, Georgia, with whom all Monitor readers should be familiar for his previous outlandish behavior. True to form, he was just as insulting as ever toward our President, and toward the integrity of our movement. Present with us were a number of other board members including Dr. Gerry Scholl, from the University of Michigan; and George Henderson, a new board member from Atlanta. There were others there, but memory fails me.

They were generally as discourteous as they thought they could be, which I assured them was fine. Had I come to Chicago simply to enjoy the company, I would most certainly have been out on the picket lines and not in the lions' den. As with Daniel, God was kind to me, and the dinner session ended early.

The meeting of the board of directors of NAC began at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday. I have already referred to some actions taken by the board. Most of the time was devoted to nice, friendly remarks from Peter Salmon, Dan Robinson, and others, complimenting other members of the board who had either assisted in getting financial gifts from somewhere or who were leaving the board.

I think that there would be general interest in the financial report, however.

It was reported that NAC had started this year with a projected budget of $293,000 but that the budget was now reduced to $278,000—this, it was alleged, because of sound fiscal management by NAC's staff. It was further reported that by June 21, $102,000 had already been spent. Also, an additional $30,000 would have to be raised to reach the $278,000 now projected. The contribution by the Department of HEW has been dropped from $100,000 to $90,000. It was quite obvious from many comments that NAC anticipates this being the last year that Federal support is offered. Perhaps they anticipated the power of the Federationists marching outside.

Great attention was given to a donation of approximately $12,000 from a Mrs. Moses and $100,000 from the Goldman Foundation, or some such group. (John Taylor and I did not receive printed copies of the materials that everyone else had before them, so we must rely on our notes.) There was much concern expressed about future sources of financing.

Keep in mind the amount of money NAC needs to operate, and consider that in 1972 fourteen agencies applied for, and eight received, accreditation. Also, remember that the agency seeking accreditation bears a great deal of the cost.

It was reported that NAC has now accredited some fifty agencies. If this sounds impressive, remember that there are more than five hundred agencies in this country.

Other weighty matters discussed included changing NAC's fiscal year from January 1 through December 31 to July 1 through June 30.

The other interesting action taken by the board was the decision to allow the executive committee to determine the time and place of the next NAC meeting.

Sitting through the NAC meetings, I kept asking myself just which of the actions they took did they not want the public to know about? Just what warranted closed, secret meetings? From what are they cowering? Apparently something must have gone on in Chicago that John Taylor and I did not attend and which they wish to keep secret.

They likened themselves unto the Red Cross and the Girl Scouts. It probably never occurred to them that both these organizations operate entirely on private funds, seeking no money from Washington, and that neither of these groups take actions which determine policies for agencies funded by State and Federal tax dollars. But then, they don't care, I'm convinced, about the public's dollars. To them it is simply a question of "professional standards."

I went to Chicago hoping that reason might prevail; that these "distinguished" gentlemen might still be able to appreciate the real importance of consumer participation.

Sitting on the DC-9, winging my way back to Arkansas, homeland of J. M. Woolley and the new NAC Board member, Lieutenant Governor Bob Riley, I recalled the events of June 20 and 21 in Chicago. It is not that these people disagree with us, it is that we speak different languages. Picture Dan Robinson's remark: the word consumerism has become so bastardized as to be meaningless. They really don't appreciate what most blind Americans face as a part of daily life. To them a blind American is Peter Salmon, who took occasion to talk about his chauffeur. No, NAC is not going to have a change of heart and reconsider consumer participation.

Each of them will try to forget that there were several hundred blind men and women outside, protesting their actions. This they cannot do, however, for they were too aware of our presence. Little was said to acknowledge the demonstration—openly, at least—but you could read in their reactions that they were afraid: afraid that things wouldn't be as they had been in the days when the sheltered workshop was considered kind and the agencies' services weren't questioned. A number of them, I am certain, were questioning their participation in NAC. They will do a great deal of thinking in the weeks to come. One should not be too surprised to see a number of resignations in coming months.

It is interesting to note that at least one NAC Board member. Bob Buckley, from Iowa, resigned prior to the board meeting. What is particularly enlightening is the fact that neither his name nor his resignation were mentioned during any of the meetings to which John Taylor and I were invited. They are scared: scared of what can happen when a board member copes with personal integrity, and scared to acknowledge resignations. The question we must answer is how scared they will become. The answer lies in our hands.

Following the end of the board meeting, John Taylor and I found our friends in force in the central courtyard, where a dialogue was underway between Don Morris, our ever present and always energetic chairman, and Bob Barnett, "Uncle Bob." But all we got was more evidence that we apparently speak different languages—we English and they NACanese. Barnett was finally saved from his embarrassment when two of his friends dragged him from our midst. It seems that Mr. Barnett was about to miss his lunch. Oh well—

It was extremely reassuring to sit in the meetings knowing that hundreds of blind friends were outside, braving the sun and fatigue to express the feelings of tens of thousands of blind people from throughout the country, loudly, but peacefully. Our honor, in contrast to NAC's deception, must stand as a symbol: something for all of us to follow in the coming months as we pursue the reformation or disappearance of NAC. Let history record just who it was that failed to meet the issues. NAC, the dirt is on your hands, not on the hands of the Red Cross, the Girl Scouts, or the blind of this country.

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Glory, glory, Federation;
NAC needs some alteration.
Start with representation—
Our cause goes marching on.

This song, spontaneously created and sung on the Chicago picket lines, captures the spirit and mood of the three hundred Federationists who came from all over this Nation to demonstrate their concern and protest their grievances to the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped. Despite NAC's efforts to keep the time and location of their summer board meeting a secret from the National Federation of the Blind until the last moment; and despite NAC's choice of the O'Hare Inn for their meeting place, a hotel hidden away from the mainstream of Chicago's activity in the airport complex; and despite the choice of the meeting time, June 20th and 21st, in the middle of a work week; the National Federation of the Blind demonstrations against NAC can only be judged an overwhelming success.

I arrived in Chicago in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, June 19th, the day before the first NAC meeting, and found a large group of Federationists from several States already busily at work putting together picket signs in the NFB demonstration headquarters located in the O'Hare Inn. The work went cheerfully and quickly, perhaps because we are becoming more proficient in sign assembly with each passing NAC demonstration. The first briefing session took place at 9:00 o'clock that evening. Don Morris urged a standing-room-only crowd that flowed into and down the hall to keep their cool during the demonstrations and to be on our guard against whatever NAC might throw at us. Don pointed out that, based on previous experience, we could expect almost anything from NAC, and he pointed out that we had to maintain restraint at all times.

The next morning, Wednesday, June 20th, Federationists clambered aboard two Greyhound buses; and, leaving a large delegation of demonstrators behind to man picket lines at the front of the hotel, we headed for the downtown-Chicago Civic Center. We were greeted there by a large delegation of Illinois Federationists swelling our ranks to well over one hundred enthusiastic demonstrators. We stationed ourselves on the four corners of the block, at the doorways to the civic center, with the remainder of us circling the block. All of us carried signs and handed out thousands of handbills to the public. Deep concern and indignation were often expressed by those Chicagoans we had the opportunity to reach that morning. Later that morning President Jernigan arrived from a successful press conference and joined us "at the barricades." Carrying a picket sign, President Jernigan marched around the block. The number and enthusiasm of the Federationists at the civic center that morning can be measured by the number of Federationists who attempted to give President Jernigan and each other handbills. President Jernigan spoke to an interested public by microphone from a platform, eloquently expressing our cause and what they, as concerned citizens, could do to help create an atmosphere in which NAC would be responsive to the needs of the blind.

At noon we boarded the Greyhound buses for the bumper-to-bumper trip back to the O'Hare Inn. Three picket lines were maintained throughout the afternoon and evening of June 20 and the morning of June 21. Two picket lines were at the front of the hotel, one on either side of the hotel's front entrance, while a third group maintained a vigil around the hotel swimming pool. The NAC Board meeting room was adjacent to this courtyard area. We walked for hours, singing songs, chanting slogans, and talking to hotel guests.

The Chicago press was on the scene throughout Wednesday afternoon. Newspaper reporters talked to Federationists from all over the country while newspaper photographers captured on film the number of demonstrators for their reading public. Television cameras and microphones were in view that afternoon recording the action and enthusiasm of the festive but disciplined singing and chanting marchers.

The picket lines were disbanded at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday evening, and we returned to the NFB demonstration headquarters for a briefing session at which Don Morris commended the gathered Federationists for their enthusiasm, hard work, and self-discipline.

The next morning at 8:00 a.m. a Greyhound bus carried a group to the airport terminal where they carried signs and gave handbills to the passing public. Thursday morning the press evidenced their interest by their presence, many staying on the scene longer than some of the NAC Board members themselves. The bulk of the Federationists were on the three hotel picket lines by 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning. By midmorning the bus had returned from the airport complex and the largest group of Federation demonstrators of the two-day meeting began a vigil for the emergence of the NAC Board members from their meeting. We all gathered in the inner courtyard adjacent to the NAC Board meeting room and softly sang and chanted songs, quietly standing and holding our signs. The NAC Board meeting dispersed at 12:30 and the successful National Federation of the Blind demonstration ended at 1:00 p.m. We returned to the NFB demonstration headquarters where we were briefed on the closed NAC Board meeting by our two NFB observers.

By any measure, the demonstration was a success. One is moved by the dedication of Federationists who traveled thousands of miles at tremendous personal expense and inconvenience, either individually or in groups, as the NFB of California and the NFB of Iowa did by chartered bus. The solidarity of the group, its self-discipline and enthusiasm were an impressive testimony to those who participated. The impact that we had on Chicago can be measured by the extensive and favorable press coverage that we were given by the local news media. The impact that we had on NAC can be measured by the open hostility that we encountered in many NAC Board and staff members. This hostility is witness to our effectiveness for it accurately reflects the feeling of many NACsters that their position of credibility in the eyes of Congress, the blind, and the public has been shaken, and that they are on the run, and that they know that the National Federation of the Blind will continue to track NAC.

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Where does a Freedom Bus go? What is a "NACster"? On June 17, 1973, thirty-one California Federationists boarded their bus and left for Chicago. This Freedom Bus was chartered by the NFB of California and was financed largely through donations from California's fifty local affiliates. The enthusiastic travelers paid for the rest of the trip out of their own pockets.

The destination of this bus was Chicago's O'Hare Inn, or "NAC-land." NAC, the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped, was holding its semiannual conference, and Federationists from all over the Nation wanted to be present to voice their disapproval of NAC's acts. Giving NAC accreditation to sheltered workshops which pay far below minimum wage standards, for example, is not met with a great deal of acceptance by most blind people. The organized blind have no voice in this so-called accreditation although they are most assuredly affected by it. However, once an agency receives this accreditation it is eligible for Federal funds from the Department of HEW. Approximately $600,000 of taxpayers' money has been used to date. Blind people feel that if they, the consumers of the services of these agencies, can voice no opinions regarding these services, then Federal funds should not be used for such a program. Thus, hundreds of Federationists felt compelled to personally protest the activities of NAC.

The California Freedom Bus, with its load of weary travelers, pulled into Chicago Tuesday morning, June 19. But these Californians had come to work; and, after a shower, a change of clothes, and a bite to eat, they were busy at work assembling picket signs in the headquarters suite. Phones were capably handled by Judy Boyle [who is multihandicapped] during most of the Chicago stay. The picket sign assembly line went on into the evening, but finally the last one was completed and stored for easy availability. That night a briefing session was held relating to events for the following day. Californians greeted and mingled with Federationists from other States. Don Brown and Arthur Eick had flown in and joined the group. Mr. Eick, in his eighties, proved there was no generation gap in this high-spirited group which was composed of college students and right on up the ladder of accumulating years.

Wednesday morning found our group back on the Freedom Bus, but this time only to take the short trip into Chicago's Civic Center Plaza. Hundreds of Federationists carried picket signs and passed out handbills all morning at the plaza. To further interest and educate the public, Dr. Jernigan and other blind leaders used the Plaza's public-address system to explain our cause. Around noon, picketers, picket signs, and handbills were back on the bus heading toward "NAC-land" where "NACsters" had gathered.

Bob Acosta, ably assisted by Don Brown, was our committee member from California to help coordinate the demonstration. Organized picketing continued throughout Wednesday afternoon and on into late evening while the NAC banquet was in progress. This degree of organization could not have been accomplished without a great deal of hard work on the part of many people. Don Morris, of Iowa, and Ralph Sanders, of Arkansas, were on top of the situation at all times. Dr. Jernigan himself was seen with a picket sign in his hand. Bob received complete cooperation from the Californians and Bob's own voice could often be heard leading our people in the chant, "NAC No! Blind Rights Yes!"

While a majority of people were at the Plaza Wednesday morning, a group remained to cover the O'Hare Inn. This group was most ably organized and overseen by Kathy Northridge and Mary Catalano.

When Thursday morning rolled around the rather tired picketers were back in line, picket signs and handbills in hand, but still enthusiastically singing and chanting. By now most of our people had sunburned faces and blistered feet. Marching on a picket line is no easy task. Braving the elements such as the sun and wind take a lot of strong will and fortitude.

Federationists were on hand until the final NAC meeting adjourned. But NAC would not talk to us, with the exception of Mr. Talbert who met briefly with the Californians. John Taylor was not allowed to give his short statement. John and Ralph Sanders surely attended those meetings as silent observers. Bob Barnett, from the American Foundation for the Blind, talked briefly with some of us as he left the meeting but refused to see the seriousness of the matter. Were all our efforts going down the drain? Was NAC completely unfazed by our presence? I think not. They were, indeed, aware of our presence; and they must have realized we are not about to give up the fight. The NFB is going to pursue this matter to the finish.

Thursday afternoon, June 21, the Californians once again boarded their Freedom Bus and braced themselves for the long trip back to Los Angeles. Would there be a letdown on the return trip after all the events of the past week? No indeed; there was not. This hearty crew has just begun to fight. Earl Carlson was a mass of bandaids covering the blisters on his feet that he received while acting as messenger throughout the large complex of the O'Hare Inn. Ed Crespin was another who covered the area, assisting people and substituting for picketers needing a break.

A feeling of happiness, success, and togetherness existed throughout the group. Repeated choruses of "Glory, Glory, Federation" could be heard sporadically during the trip. Although the trip was long and tiring, it was relieved with jokes and stories, courtesy of Al Gil and others, singing, and a general good time until the final stop where we parted company.

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The Federation's most historic event, aside from its founding, occurred most appropriately on Dr. tenBroek's birthday, Friday, July 6. At about mid-morning a foundation-shaking (American Foundation shaking—American Foundation for the Blind shaking) rollcall took place. As the President of the National Federation of the Blind called the names of the States, the delegates arose and made their way to their appointed places, secured State standards and picket signs, and marched the half mile, two-by-two, and four-by-four, on "the sidewalks of New York" with dignity, pride, and great decorum, to fill busy Madison Avenue between 27th and 28th Streets, curb to curb, chanting "fifty thousand blind people can't be wrong," and "we can speak for ourselves." There, before the building which houses NAC, the President of the NFB presided over the hanging of NAC in effigy and its burial in a huge wooden coffin (which had been carried in the line of march by some of the Federation's finest and "heaviest") with such pomp and circumstance as the occasion deserved. President Jernigan addressed the crowd and delivered the following Eulogy.


They came, they said, to help the blind—the poor unfortunate blind. They came, they said, to help the agencies—the many agencies who help the blind. They came, they said, to establish standards to improve the services provided to the blind, the poor unfortunate blind.

Instead, they came and they hurt the blind. They came, and they gave sanction to agencies which provide sub-standard services to the blind. They came, but they came with repression, with bad faith, and with attempts at political control of the blind.

In the beginning there was the American Foundation for the Blind. And the American Foundation begat COMSTAC. And COMSTAC begat NAC. They came from the welfare establishment, and they came from the dens of political power. They came, and they gave us NAC—NAC, which was conceived in sin and born of corruption.

And when we, the blind, saw this NAC and learned of its ways, we came saying, "NAC is not competent to speak for us—at best, it can speak with us."

But they would not listen. NAC would not listen. The American Foundation for the Blind would not listen. When we said, "Let us take part," they closed their doors. When we said, "Let us speak for ourselves," they closed their ears.

Finally we came marching—marching to take part, marching to be heard, marching to be free, marching to be treated like human beings. And when we came marching, they closed their eyes. They locked us out, and they turned us out, but we are here today—because they cannot turn us off. We have tried every channel of communication to bring about reform of NAC. It is not that NAC cannot hear us: They don't want to hear us.

But they will hear us. They will know we are here today—in the largest gathering of blind people ever assembled in the history of the world. And whenever and wherever NAC meets again, we will be there.

NAC is not alone in the harm it has done to the blind, for some of the blame must be shared by officials of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, who have given NAC over $600,000 of the taxpayers' money.

We have come too far to forget the American Foundation for the Blind and its role in creating NAC. We have come too far to forget the role of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company and other wealthy corporations in supporting NAC. We have come too far to forget, for the hurt to blind people has been great.

We have come today to confront NAC. We have come to confront its secrecy and its refusal to talk with us. We have come seeking redress of our grievances and the righting of our wrongs. If NAC will not listen to us, then the Congress will listen; and the public will listen. Our cause is just.

We have come to assert our independence. Hear us, NAC. Hear us clearly. We shall determine our own destinies and be free from you and ail that you represent. We have come here to put NAC aside. We have come to put away that which has hurt us and replace it with our own freedom.

The communications media were there in force and in all their forms. The ubiquitous Miss New, NAC's all-around "coverup girl," came as usual to dissuade the press, radio, and TV people from listening to us with her familiar phrase "but it is all a misunderstanding"—on the part of the blind, of course. It would seem that the blind don't appreciate NAC's efforts to run their lives for them. There were many on-the-spot interviews with President Jernigan and other Federationists.

The ceremonies over, most of the marchers returned to the Convention. However, several hundred boarded waiting buses for the ride uptown to the headquarter offices of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company. The huge building on Park Avenue is set well back from the street. It was noon hour, the weather was pleasant, and many people were out on the building's large plaza.

It was obvious that our group was expected. The first Federationists off the bus were greeted by a well-groomed young man who asked seemingly innocent questions spurred by curiosity as he walked the picket line with the marchers. Groups of men in twos or threes approached others with questions about the reason for the picketing, who the marchers were, whom they represented, what the Federation had against NAC, what had Dan Robinson done, and such like. All were answered, politely and in full.

While the pickets marched and chanted in front of the building, a delegation of Federationists, led by Don Morris of Iowa and Ralph Sanders of Arkansas, went up to the offices of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Company to see Mr. Robinson. Needless to say, they were not received by NAC's new president, and his emissary was anything but polite: in fact, he was rude and threatening. But whether there was direct communication or not, NAC got the message.

This great effort to carry our case to NAC and the public would not have been possible without the complete cooperation of New York's public officials and especially its fine police force. The Convention expressed its feelings by unanimously adopting the following Resolution:


WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind conducted the largest demonstration of blind people in the history of the world to protest against the harmful actions of the National Accreditation Council: and

WHEREAS, this protest demonstration involved the movement of upwards of two thousand demonstrators across midtown Manhattan with attendant disruption of traffic; and

WHEREAS, the complete assistance of the New York City Police Department was rendered with utmost courtesy, efficiency, and friendliness: Now therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this 6th day of July, 1973, in the City of New York, that this organization instructs its President to convey our heartfelt gratitude and deep appreciation for the invaluable services rendered by the Police Department of the City of New York; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a special message of thanks be given to Captain Wiener of the New York Police Department who showed more devotion and understanding in two hours than NAC has shown during its entire existence; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution be delivered to the Honorable John V. Lindsay, Mayor of the City of New York.

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The first time I ever carried a picket sign was in December 1972 when the NAC Board of Directors held a meeting at the Prince George Hotel in New York City. I joined a small but determined group of Federationists to demonstrate for meaningful consumer representation on the policy-making board of NAC. In spite of the cold, strong, winter winds, we did not put down our picket signs, give up and go home. We spoke then, but NAC did not listen.

Six-and-a-half months later we organized another demonstration. This time there was a longer line of marchers at the O'Hare Inn in Des Plaines, Illinois, and in spite of the blazing hot summer sun, we did not put down our picket signs, give up, and go home. Because of the lack of pedestrian traffic at the O'Hare Inn, we could not speak to the "man on the street" but we came to be heard by NAC, and they did hear us, but once again, they did not listen.

Two weeks later on July 6, 1973, an army of Federationists from every State affiliate joined us as we moved the barricades to the door-step of the NAC offices at 79 Madison Avenue, New York. Once again, we were seen and heard, and, just as before, NAC did not listen. "When will they ever learn?"

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