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BOX 11185

If you or a friend would like 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."

If your wishes are more complex, you may have your attorney communicate with the Washington Office for other suggested forms.

















Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1978


On the afternoon of Friday, September 1, John McCraw died of a heart attack. He had been attending a staff luncheon marking the end of the summer program for senior citizens and the handicapped which he directed, and he was looking forward to the Labor Day weekend ahead; but it was not to be. The news of John's death was a shock to Federationists around the country who knew and loved him. The memory of his participation at this year's Convention in Baltimore was still fresh.

That Convention was a triumph for John McCraw. Holding the Convention in Baltimore was a way of symbolizing that Maryland has become a center of the organized blind movement. Much of the credit for this goes to the leadership of John McCraw. He built the NFB of Maryland into one of the strongest affiliates in the country. As chairman of the board of Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, he was responsible for bringing Ralph Sanders in as president of BISM and providing the support necessary to change that scandal-ridden agency into a model for other workshops for the blind.

John worked with the blind of the state to create a friendly climate for the Federation's new national programs. He lived to see his dreams turned into tangible reality. By a twist of fate, earlier on the very afternoon John died, President Jernigan had signed the papers finalizing the purchase of the building that will house the National Office of the Federation and our new National Center for the Blind. Enormous work is ahead of us still, but the beginning has been made. And that beginning and what will be built are a memorial to John McCraw.

Six days later, on September 7, nearly 400 people—friends of the Mc Craws from Baltimore and Federationists from around the country—gathered for a memorial service. It was held in a church outside the city on an evening when the summer heat was intense. Still, John's friends came to pay their respects to him and to his wife, Connie, and his sons, Franklin and Paul. It was a sad night for Federationists who had not expected to see each other again so soon, nor in such circumstances. At the service, eulogies were delivered not only by Kenneth Jernigan and Ralph Sanders, but by community leaders and a state senator. John was active in projects besides the Federation, and his colleagues in other areas mourned his passing as strongly as we do.

When Dr. Jernigan delivered his short eulogy, he spoke softly and with real sorrow. The congregation grew quiet as he went on, as he spoke for all Federationists in praise of one of the best of us. His remarks follow:


September 7, 1978
Baltimore, Maryland

John McCraw was a man of great gentleness. He was also a man of great strength and power. He was my brother in the movement to liberate the blind. He was my close, dear friend.

No person who has attended a recent convention of the National Federation of the Blind will ever think of John McCraw without recalling the rumble of that deep voice answering the rollcall of the states. It usually brought applause. It always brought an audible murmur of affection, a feeling that can only be described as a surge of love reaching from all parts of the room to touch him. In fact, if one had to describe in a single word the feeling of the blind of the nation for John McCraw, that word would be love. He gave it; he received it; he lived it. And the blind of the nation and the world have better lives as a result.

And it was not just at national conventions or on special occasions. John was the same every day—at home or in other states, with friends or with strangers, in crowds or in groups of two or three.

When I moved to Maryland a few months ago, John and Connie made it their business to let me know that they wanted to do anything they could to be of service to me. (As it was with John, so was it and so it is with Connie. She worked with John, sharing his activities, his problems, and his triumphs. She belongs to all of us who are blind, and she always will.)

John's trademark was service—and not just occasionally or in major things but on a daily basis—thoughtfully, courteously, and lovingly. During the last week of his life John performed two services for me. He arranged to have some kitchen knives sharpened, and he took a newspaper editor to task who had attacked me. In fact, his handling of the editor was typical of his way of doing business.

When he called to tell me about it, he played the whole thing down and merely said that he thought he had set the man straight on some facts and that we would see better articles in the future. A few days later I learned from a person who was in the room at the time the phone call was being made that John's language and tone were so blunt and earthy that the editor will probably never write another story without making an effort to learn the facts. True to John's prediction, the article of retraction came, and it showed all of the impact of the chastening which had been given.

John did not want credit. He wanted results. He took more pleasure in seeing the rest of us praised than having praise for himself.

In every situation he was an asset. If you were going to a conference, John was a good man to give you level-headed advice. If you were going to a party, John was a good man to help you celebrate. If you were going to a fight, John was a good man to have at your side. He never weasled; he never chickened out; and he never deserted a friend or a cause. He stuck to the end. He did not try to find a way out by pretending that he was confused or did not understand the issues or had concerns that he could not resolve. He was staunch and steadfast. He was John McCraw.

John, old friend, dear brother, you have made the world a better place for all of us who are blind. You have shown us that gentleness need not be weakness and that love is a natural component of courage, not of cowardice or fear. You have lived your beliefs, and they are reflected in the lives of us all.

Your spirit will march with us in our continuing campaign for the freedom of the blind. Your dedication will strengthen us. Your love will sustain us. When we suffer defeats (and there will be some) or when we achieve victories (and there will be many), we will think of you and make your memory part of our mourning and our rejoicing. No history of the battle of the blind for liberation and first-class citizenship will ever be complete without your name. No story of our journey to independence will fail to include you. Rest in peace! We will keep the movement strong. We will build it and make it reach new heights of achievement and solidarity. We will always remember your deep voice, your abiding dedication, and your great capacity for love. We will keep the faith. 

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We came to Baltimore wondering what kind of Convention it would be. The past year had been one of tremendous change in the movement. For the first time in a decade a new President would be at the podium. The National Office, rumor had it, was leaving Des Moines. Our constant and accelerating strides over the last years had begun to produce a backlash—not only in the general public but in the long-established custodial agencies which had mounted what looked like a last, concerted effort to destroy the organized blind movement. And it looked as if they had had some success; we had sustained major casualties in Iowa and other states.

But it had also been a year when we had made stunning breakthroughs. Our achievements in Congress and in the state legislatures were great; our lawsuits produced victory after victory. We had made an important alliance with the nation's strongest labor union and at last begun to make progress in the reform of the sheltered workshop system.

Many wondered what the combined effect of all these things would be on the spirit of the Federation as we gathered for our 38th annual Convention. The answer was clear soon enough: We had come to Baltimore strong and united—tempered rather than weakened by the blows we had suffered—and ready to meet the challenges ahead. Before the week was over, the Federation had broadcast this determination to the world; we had reached more people than ever before with our message that the blind are ready for first-class citizenship and ready to smash any obstacles set in our path.

During the week we voiced our concerns to heads of federal agencies (including a member of the Carter cabinet); we joyously welcomed back Kenneth Jernigan as NFB President. One thousand of us traveled to Washington, D.C., to confront the Federal Aviation Administration in a demonstration that reached an estimated 60 million Americans through the news media. And as always, we wrangled and celebrated and experienced the special atmosphere that builds up when the blind of America come together in national Convention.

Sunday and Monday, July 2 and 3, were taken up with meetings of NFB special divisions and committees. On Monday morning was the traditional public meeting of the NFB Executive Committee. (As you will read later, this was the last meeting of the Executive Committee under this name—it is now the NFB Board of Directors.)

At that meeting the closing of the Des Moines Office was discussed. The National Office has traditionally followed the President, and both Ralph Sanders (President for the last year and now deputy President) and Kenneth Jernigan reside in Baltimore. There are other reasons for the move. The Randolph Hotel Building has served us well for many years. We have gradually taken over most of the space in the building, renovating it for our own uses and paying a fraction of the usual cost for office space. But the building is not sound. The plumbing in particular has deteriorated to the point where our materials were being lost to almost daily floods from drainage pipes. As will be discussed later in the issue, we now have a fine new building that is our own and that will serve our purposes better than the Randolph ever could.

It was announced at the Executive Committee meeting and in last month's Monitor that no orders for materials could be filled before November. But the schedule for the move has been delayed. Therefore, until further notice, orders may still be sent to Des Moines. The address to use is the old familiar one: National Federation of the Blind, 218 Randolph Hotel Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50309.

The usual roar filled the hall as President Sanders gaveled the first general session to order on Tuesday morning. The first major item following the opening ceremonies was a keynote address by Dr. Jacob Freid, long-time member of the NFB Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Jewish Braille Institute of America. Dr. Freid put into perspective our present status as a movement. He discussed our history and goals and compared our progress to that of other minority groups. Dr. Freid was a close friend of Jacobus tenBroek and has been part of our movement as long as we have existed. Although the restructuring of the board means that for the first time in many years he will not be sitting on it as an advisor, it is certain that his role in the organization will continue to be a major one. We would not have it any other way.

The morning concluded with the rollcall of states. The delegates shared with the Convention the achievements made on the state level during the last year. Some of these will be discussed in the reports on later sessions of the Convention and others will be reported in future issues of the Monitor. After the noon break, President Sanders reported on the activities of the national movement during the past year. Here are excerpts from that report, which was interrupted often by applause:

Presidential Report

President Sanders: The next item on the agenda is my report to you concerning the past year. Our presence here—the number of hotel rooms we've used, the numbers of us who are taking part in this Convention—I think is in one sense a testimony to the last year and the continued growth of the organized blind movement. I have had the pleasure to travel in better than 30 states during the year and to visit with Federationists—to take part in the activities of the organization. And it's been exciting to see the response of the membership. The organized blind movement is on the move and is going forward; and let anyone who doubts that go anywhere in this country, and they'll find now—wherever they want to deal with us-an able, aggressive organization of blind people determined to find our own way to first-class citizenship.

One excellent example of the kind of growth we've seen, the kind of activity, took place a couple of months ago. I had the pleasure of going to visit with our Rhode Island affiliate. They had organized a special reception in the state capitol. That reception took place in the rotunda of the state capitol. The state senate adjourned its session to come out and take part in that reception. I had the pleasure to go with Ed Beck and Havis Woolf and other members of the Rhode Island affiliate to a meeting with the Governor of Rhode Island the following morning, where I was presented with a presentation, a proclamation from the Governor clearly stating the support of Governor Garrahy for the organized blind movement. You should know that the Governor of Rhode Island was a charter member of the National Federation of the Blind of Rhode Island.

That afternoon I was pleased to go and take part in the session of the senate where again a resolution was passed commending the organized blind movement and its contributions to blind persons both in Rhode Island and across the nation. That kind of experience is indicative of the success we have achieved as blind persons. And what was evident in Rhode Island I have found in state after state.

I want to talk to you a moment about developments in agencies for the blind. It is important that we as a movement continue our efforts to convince agencies and their officials and staff members to be at one with us in philosophy and purpose and in support of the abilities of blind persons, and to see that more and more blind persons take their rightful place in the mainstream of the community. This year has been an important year in the development of our relations with agencies serving the blind. You have doubtless noted in the Monitor and in presidential releases that our South Carolina affiliate had waged a courageous battle to get the South Carolina Commission back on track and in line with the blind of South Carolina. Don Capps was personally abused in the press by Henry Watts who had served for a time as Director of the South Carolina Commission. Because of the efforts of our South Carolina affiliate, the sacrifices of blind persons in that state, the South Carolina Commission for the Blind today has a new Director.

You heard this morning in the rollcall of states the discussion concerning the reform of the Oregon Commission for the Blind. Our affiliate there, against a large Council affiliate, against opposition from the agency, fought a long and brave fight in the legislature and finally last year won victory and brought about the recreation of the board of the Oregon Commission. We are pleased that Terry Carney, who is with us this year as he was last, was selected to serve as Director of the Oregon Commission for the Blind.

At last year's Convention we were aware of the successful efforts of the Federationists in Washington State in gaining the adoption of a Commission for the Blind there. We are pleased to be able to come to this year's Convention and have among us as head of the Washington delegation Ed Foscue, who serves as chairman of the board of the Washington Commission for the Blind—which is now a reality.

And as you also noted this morning, Federationists can be proud that a few days ago the Michigan legislature by unanimous vote established a Michigan Commission for the Blind, which is now signed into law. Al Harris brought with him copies of that legislation signed by the Governor of Michigan. When Al Harris called me to tell me about the Michigan victory, he said: "You know, first our friends grew weary and left us alone at the legislature. And months went by, and our enemies grew weary, and they left us alone. But the organized blind movement stayed, and it passed." That's the way we've always done business; that's the way we've continued to win.

I want to review with you some of the lawsuits that we have been engaged in during the past year. It seems that, like poverty, lawsuits will always be with us. Let me talk first about the legal activities involving the Federal Aviation Administration, since we discussed that earlier today. As you will note from the presidential release that went out last—which was done at the end of the dinner in Des Moines honoring Dr. Jernigan—we had reached the point with the airlines by May 20 that some action had to take place. Our guys were subjected—blind people coming from throughout the country had to face harassment and mostly at the hands of United Airlines. On Sunday, the 21st of May, we had many discussion with officials of United and found that no two officials of United had the same understanding about any issue.

We got back to Maryland and filed a lawsuit in the Baltimore Circuit Court against United Airlines to enjoin it from enforcing the policy of seizing the canes of blind travelers on takeoffs and landings. The reason for filing it here was that we had to find a jurisdiction that we could move in as quickly as possible. We felt we could move first, then, under the Maryland white cane act, although we recognized that in the long run that wasn't where we really wanted to be. But it would give immediate relief.

We got an injunction. United Airlines came into court claiming that it was a federal regulation. Ultimately, four days after the suit was filed, the FAA came into the Baltimore court and said in effect that it was in fact a federal regulation, whereupon the circuit court suit—the state suit—had to be dropped. The injunction was dissolved, and we moved on to the Maryland District federal court.

On the fifth day in, on Friday, the chief judge of the Maryland bench for the federal court issued an injunction restricting not only United Airlines but all commerical air carriers in the country and the FAA from enforcing the policy of taking canes of blind persons. It's interesting to note—some of us submitted affidavits in the federal case saying that the only airline on which we had really experienced any problem with having our canes seized was United Airlines. The FAA came into the courtroom and said, in effect, that our affidavits were not correct—well, in effect, they pretty much said we were liars. They said that all airlines were enforcing the policy and had been doing so since 1972. We told the judge that we thought we knew something about how blind people were treated in this country and how we were treated by airlines since we were the ones out there flying on them.

Unfortunately, the injunction was dissolved, although the suit was not affected. The judge simply took the position of saying, "Okay, you tell me that nobody but United is enforcing it. Therefore the federal court is reluctant to use the awesome power of a restraining order in such a situation." We were obviously too convincing in our position that no one else was enforcing the rule. United Airlines told us during that week that the publicity surrounding the confrontation in Chicago and Des Moines and Los Angeles and other places on the weekend of May 20 had cost them a quarter of a million dollars in public relations. After their response of last weekend, I can only say to United Airlines—and I think you'll agree with me—that before we're done it's going to cost them a lot more than that in public image.

The lawsuit then changed courts again. Since the FAA has moved for dismissal of the suit filed in the Maryland District Court—the federal court—on jurisdictional grounds, we didn't want to lose time and run the risk of losing that. It's a technical argument. We then filed a whole new case in the District Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. That is the court that would have jurisdiction over all federal agencies and rules and regulations promulgated by those agencies.

Some two weeks ago we went into that court. In this case we will not be having oral arguments in front of a judge; the arguments are presented in writing and are judged by a three-judge panel. The panel was prepared, the materials were submitted, and the court accepted our case. It will rule on the issues and has granted an ex parte injunction that affects folding canes on airplanes. That was a decision the court made based on its own research; it does not rule out further actions by the court. In fact, we feel extremely positive that the court accepted the case and is willing to rule on the issues.

The case is an extremely important one, with ramifications far beyond the issue of the right to keep your cane at your seat on takeoffs and landings. The case involves some fundamental constitutional issues. What we have said to the court, in effect, is that blind people, like all Americans, have been guaranteed the right to freedom of movement around this country. And that part of that exercise of freedom is to use commercial airliners on a basis of equality. And that the seizure of our canes violates our ability to enjoy that constitutional guarantee. The FAA wants to claim that a white cane is no different from any other piece of luggage. We contend that it is necessary to our ability to travel independently and to protect ourselves in the event of an air emergency and an emergency evacuation of an aircraft.

We've gone further than that, asking the court to declare blind persons a suspect class. That doesn't mean what it sounds like. What it means is, there are three groups in this country that have been declared suspect classes by the court system—blacks, aliens, and illegitimates. And it means that those groups have been so systematically denied their constitutional rights that any government law, rule, or regulation adopted at any level has to be look at with two views: (1) on the face of the law, rule, or regulation, does it directly violate someone's rights within the class; and (2) does it simply provide a vehicle for arriving at a discriminatory practice although on the face of it it may appear to do something else. For instance, the FAA rule, which claims on its face to be a safety regulation, would have to be looked at secondarily to see if it was in another way violating our constitutional freedoms.

If we can get the courts to rule in our favor and declare us a suspect class, we'll have a tool that we can use in every aspect of our lives in this country—including congressionally and state-adopted vocational rehabilition laws. Let United Airlines say what they will, let the FAA say what they will, we intend to stay in this until we have the right—protected in the court, protected on the airliners, protected in the minds of the American public—to move freely about this country as equal American citizens.

I am pleased to tell you that we have now raised from contributions today so far some $3,384 to support the [FAA demonstration ] tomorrow afternoon....

During the past year we've been actively involved in two important legal matters concerning the 1974 amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act. You have read in the Monitor much about the Jessie Nash case in Georgia. Jessie Nash operated a vending facility at the Marine Supply Depot in Albany, Georgia. That vending facility was closed, and a snackbar operated by a private contractor was opened by the Marines. We filed a complaint under the hearing procedures available to vendors under the 1974 amendments. After all the arguments were completed, we found a number of issues involving the performance of the licensing agency in Georgia. Principal among them, however, was their argument that the Marines had operated under the law since they had gone to the agency and said that they wanted hot food; and not Jessie Nash but the Georgia licensing agency had declined to operate a facility as requested by the Marines. And therefore the hearing officer ruled that the decision by the Marines was proper.

That decision—with a solid case record built against the licensing agency for its behavior in this business—has now been appealed to the Secretary of the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and is now awaiting arbitration. Jessie Nash has named her representatives to the arbitration panel. Under the law, on the final appeal, the vendor has the right to name a representative, the agency names a representative, and those two parties then get together and name a third member of the panel. And the three-person panel decides the issues. The lawyers tell us that the briefs developed in the hearing at the state level are solid, that this ought to result in a positive resolution, and that the Georgia agency ought to be found wanting under its requirements and responsibilities under the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

In keeping with what we found in the hearing process, currently the factor delaying the arbitration panel is the refusal of the Georgia agency to name its participant in the panel. You know, we find this in case after case.

The second important case filed under the 1974 amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act involves Billie Ruth Schlank, a vendor in the District of Columbia vending facilities program. Specifically, the issue involved was the distribution of vending machine income as prescribed under the 1974 amendmemts to the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Billie Ruth's vending stand is in the State Department building. There are two vending facilities in that building with very little vending machine income going to the vending facility managers, and there are something in excess of 100 vending machines.

Courts and lawyers are an interesting business to deal with. We filed for a hearing—Billie Ruth filed for a hearing; and testimony was given, evidence was submitted. We found that the District had not pursued getting the General Services Administration to relinquish the funds. In this case, we won the hearing at the District level. Now, that's a great victory for blind guys, except the licensing agency in the District of Columbia is refusing to implement the decision. The problem is that since we won the hearing, Billie Ruth can't appeal to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. So we won a victory and are slowed down in the process. And while the agency is dragging its feet and we are filing further actions to gain enforcement of that decision, the money being taken from the vending machines is being spent by the General Services Admininistration through Government Services, Incorporated, that operates the vending machines in that building.

There are a number of legal matters that yet have to be discussed in trying to get adjudication of those issues. You know, there's a lot of discussion about which organizations of the blind are concerned about vendors. Time and time again the record proves that the National Federation of the Blind is there when vendors have problems. The Nash and Schlank cases together will test most of the provisions of the 1974 amendments.

Some time ago, Steven Henry, a blind man in New Orleans, Louisiana, got a job in the New Orleans Post Office. He faced cutbacks in his hours, faced lack of responsiveness on the part of his employer in providing him with job opportunities, was eventually reduced to no hours, filed a claim of discrimination, and finally—some months ago—we filed a claim with the National Labor Relations Board. The United States Postal Service is a major employer. Victory in the Steven Henry case promises the potential of many jobs for blind persons around the country in the postal service. I am pleased to tell you that some three weeks ago, in a landmark decision, the National Labor Relations Board issued a 28-page decision that said firmly that there had been direct discrimination. Steven Henry has been restored to his job and has been given full back pay.

As you have heard, the case involving the Minneapolis Society for the Blind was won at the initial court level. The courts ruled that the Minneapolis Society for the Blind had to open itself up again for memberships, as its original bylaws had required—making blind persons or American citizens throughout the country eligible to become members. As Joyce Scanlan was discussing with concerned citizens their help in reforming the Minneapolis Society for the Blind, of course the Minneapolis Society for the Blind appealed the decision. It's now waiting for a decision at the appellate level. We are confident of victory. The case goes on; it's been there for several years. It'll continue on until the blind of Minnesota have a fair chance to bring about reform of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind.

The Cleveland Society for the Blind case, which you've read about in the Monitor—I'm not going to spend any length of time dealing with it—is still on appeal, again is in the courts, and again will stay there until we win.

For years, we have fought for the rights of blind workers in sheltered workshops. For years, we have attempted to get the adoption of federal legislation to protect production employees in sheltered workshops. For the last several years we have worked toward assisting blind production employees in sheltered workshops for the blind to achieve the right to have a union represent them in relations with their employer. Following the Convention last year, we started a concerted action to develop a relationship with the Teamsters Union. The reason is simple: We needed to win—blind people needed the right to organize and to be protected, to be part of unions; and the union with the best winning record in organizing efforts in this country is the Teamsters Union. We met with high-ranking officials of the Teamsters International at their Washington headquarters.

In Cincinnati, the employees of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind had already begun to work toward a union, working closely with the Cincinnati chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. The Teamsters Union Local 100 got involved in the organizing effort. The Cincinnati Association for the Blind—relying on a National Labor Relations Board decision involving a Goodwill shop in San Diego—blocked the election; and the case went up on appeal to the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. In effect, the victory we had won in the Chicago Lighthouse with the National Labor Relations Board had been offset by the San Diego decision. This time we argued strongly that sheltered workshops for the blind are distinctly different from any other workshops, and that virtually all of them are engaged in mainstream commercial activity.

In May of this year, the National Labor Relations Board agreed with us and called for an election on June 7 at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind. As many of you know already, on June 7, the production employees at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind voted 44 to 35 to have the Teamsters Union Local 100 represent them in bargaining negotiations with the Cincinnati Association for the Blind. I believe that we ought to recognize what that decision means, and recognize it clearly. Let National Industries for the Blind and the other workshops for the blind in this country make no mistake about it—the days of subminimum wages and substandard working conditions are fast going from this country.

What the workers have done in Cincinnati sets an example for the rest of us. Out of this Convention, I believe, will come plans for organizing activities in many other locations around the country. Let the message go forth: We intend to have our rights; we intend to be treated as the decent, normal people we are. The solutions to our problems will come in many forms, and one of them is going to come at the bargaining table with a union representative.

You've heard a considerable amount of discussion around the country concerning our fundraising status and reports of all sorts of groups who get involved in charitable solicitations. Let me say to you these things about our fundraising posture currently in the country. (1) I think that we ought to recognize that we continue to face the need for membership support of the organization. The need for PAC contributions and for development of the Associates program, and for carrying out the other programs that we've developed, is important. To help facilitate that, we have expanded greatly the number of fundraising committees that we have. E. U. Parker now serves as chairman of an Affiliate Support Committee. That committee is made up of the chairmen of a variety of other committees involved with fundraising. You've heard announcements about their meetings. There's an Associates Committee, a Pre-Authorized Check Plan Committee, a Candle Committee, a Candy Committee. We have a Deferred Giving Committee. We have a Bikeathon-Hikeathon Committee. The list goes on. We'll develop ways to increase the support of members through financial contributions at all levels to the national treasury. It's important.

Again, when our enemies stepped up their attack against us, one of the places they found us vulnerable was in the charitable solicitation offices around this country. You know, it's no mystery as to why we've had trouble. You read the list of charities that aren't approved, and it's an extensive list depending on which group you look at. Most of them do things that we did and aren't harassed. You ask the question then, why did we run into trouble in so many states. Our attorneys went off to a conference last fall in San Diego, California, sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General on charitable solicitation. Charitable solicitation's gotten to be big business in the states-it's one of the largest departments now in the office of virtually every attorney general in this country.

At that conference, one of the attorneys general was talking about the National Federation of the Blind. And one of our attorneys said to him, "Yes, we know where you got that complaint; you got it from the American Foundation for the Blind." And the attorney general looked shocked and amazed and said, "Well, how did you know that?" And they said, "We've got some experience in this business." To paraphrase an expression we've come to use: We know who our enemies are, and they won't go back either.

We've worked hard at achieving registration in the states that have laws. We've spent a lot of time filing documents and reports. I'm pleased to be able to tell you today that we have currently problems remaining in only three states—New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The best estimation is that the problems in all of those three states will be resolved within the next few months. In all of the other states that have laws, we are either registered or lack registration because of technical problems. For example, in the states of Virginia and Tennessee, we are currently not registered because those states had laws go into effect on July 1 of this year, and neither state had developed forms so that you could file under those laws until a few days ago. We see no problem; we'd been approved in those states before. We have no problems there; it's a matter of getting the material submitted in the form that those states want it.

It's been a process that has been expensive for us, and it's been a difficult one for us in many ways. Fortunately, we have had responsiveness from the membership. Membership contributions account for a substantial portion now of the income of this organization. It's a process, as I said before, we've got to continue. But we're now in a position to do business differently. Let anybody tell you that the National Federation of the Blind is suspect in its fundraising; and you can say with pride that we are the most recognized, registered, and reputable fundraiser in the blind community in this country.

I would tell you that during the past several days, there's been another meeting going on in this country. The Affiliated Leadership League of and for the Blind—it proudly calls itself—has been holding a seminar on fundraising ethics in San Antonio, Texas, addressed by such outstanding "ethical" Americans as Cleo Dolan of the Cleveland Society and Richard Bleecker of NAC.

I am told that there were 35 persons who attended the conference. You can decide for yourself who's representative. Fifty people showed up for the banquet; and among the other notable steps they took in proclaiming their "ethical" behavior toward blind people was the decision to vote to not support the minimum wage proposal of the NFB for blind workers in sheltered workshops. We'll be able to print in the Monitor some of the comments of some of the people who took part in those discussions. I understand that we were one of the general topics of discussion. We know something about ethics and about their ethics, and history will tell the tale.

But as I say, we are now recognized by more states, we're registered in more states than any other organization—the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, NAC, any of the other groups. They cannot claim as much recognition for approval as we currently have. So you can take that message home with pride.

We've begun moving now in fundraising. Let me tell you of some of the spring's activity. We started in May mailing for public support. We are not using unordered merchandise. We have a straightforward appeal that says very directly what we are, what we are about, what our purpose is. We conducted something upwards of 15 tests, and I am pleased to report to you that most of those tests have proven successful. In the summer we will go back into the mail in a major way. Let me say to you these comments, however: We should not be buoyed by false optimism and therefore let down on the need for membership support. Two factors confront us: One is the percentage of the cost that must be maintained in any fundraising program to maintain the state recognition. One of the things that is helping us greatly in our current percentages is the level of support by members. I am pleased to report to you that the fundraising costs for the NFB during 1977 were 14%. You won't find many that can beat it. . . .

President Sanders discussed briefly our legislative initatives in the Congress, which have been discussed comprehensively in recent issues of the Monitor. He concluded with these words:

"As I said at the beginning, it's been a year of trial, but it's been a year of many triumphs. Those who question the strength, the vitality of the organized blind movement had better rethink their position and reconsider us. And let them come to Baltimore in 1978 and see for themselves. The organized blind movement is on the move and marching forward."

Social Security Panel

The Presidential Report was followed by a panel discussion of amendments to the Social Security program, particularly the Disability Insurance program. The panel consisted of Dr. Jernigan and Jim Gashel, Chief of the NFB Washington Office, along with Donald Wortman, the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. Jim Gashel discussed the improvements in the Disability Insurance program we won in Congress this year. We gained an increase in the earnings limitation, or the amount a blind worker may earn before disability benefits are cut off. The earnings limitation for the blind has now been linked to that of retired persons. This year it has been raised to $333.33 per month. Next year the limit will be $375 per month; in 1980, it will be $416.67; in 1981, it will be $458.33; and $500 per month, or $6,000 per year, in 1982. Jim Gashel also talked about the possibility of further liberalizations of the earnings limitation later this year.

Mr. Wortman was pessimistic about this trend, citing the public uproar about taxes, particularly Social Security taxes. He had more positive remarks when the subject turned to the employment of blind persons by the Social Security Administration. Some years ago Social Security broke ground by employing blind persons as teleservice representatives. Since then, however, these people have been unable to move upward in their jobs. Social Security has maintained that blind persons would be unable to carry out the authentication of documents necessary to fulfill the duties of a claims representative, and this point has been discussed repeatedly at recent NFB Conventions. This year, Mr. Wortman had the following announcement:

"We have employed over 200 people who are blind as service representatives in our teleservice centers in our district offices and in our branch offices. We now are undertaking attempts—especially in our Atlanta Region to expand horizons for these people into what we call our claims representative. Between our service representative position and our claims representative position we have what you might call the front line of our organization. Our organization today in America numbers 80,000 people in 1,300 district and branch offices and in 30 teleservice centers across the nation. The front line of our contact with the public are our teleservice center representatives—our service representatives—and claims representatives in our district offices. At the same time that we have some initial efforts going on in our Atlanta Region to open pathways for the blind in the claims representative position, we are hiring in our central operations office a person I think some of you know—Jim Omvig—to help work with us in trying to find more career opportunities for the blind."

Jim Gashel later added another point that makes it likely blind persons will find expanded opportunities within the Social Service Administration. He said:

"The Civil Service Commission in April ruled that federal agencies have to conduct their employment and advancement activities on a nondiscriminatory basis and now given blind and handicapped people access to the complaint procedures which have been available to women and minorities. And in those rules it requires job restructuring if necessary to preclude discriminating against blind or handicapped persons. I would say that if the situation is the authentication of documents and if it is figured that blind people can't do that, and ultimately shown that they can't, that the Social Security Administration would be required to engage in job restructuring. And maybe that's what Mr. Wortman has in mind in the Atlanta project and by hiring a guy like Mr. Omvig."

Report by Dr. Jernigan

The next item on the agenda was the report by Kenneth Jernigan, who talked about financing and a number of other issues. His remarks were as follows:

Dr. Jernigan: I would like to report to you on some things, and I'll try to make them as brief as I can. These are things that I think you will want to be informed about.

First, I want to talk to you briefly about what has occurred in Des Moines, Iowa, with respect not only to me but the organized blind movement. I said to this Convention in 1968 when I became President of the organization that I was prepared to make whatever sacrifices needed making in order to lead as I thought the movement ought to be led and in order to be on the cutting edge of change with respect to the condition of the blind in this country. I said to you at that time that whatever sacrifice was required, I would be willing—if I was going to accept the presidency—to undertake that. I would think it is not unfair to say that in Iowa in 1968 my position politically was as strong as that of any person who has been Governer of that state. It was an exceedingly strong position. I was offered party nomination for state treasurer by one of the major parties and was approached by the other party to see whether I'd be interested in running for state office on their ticket.

Over the years we have had battles with the American Foundation for the Blind, and I have never hesitated to speak out on those. I have never felt that there was any difference as to whether I said I was working for the Iowa Commission for the Blind or for the National Federation of the blind as long as I was working to try to improve the condition of blind people.

Now, with that statement in mind, I say to you it was clear as far back as over a year ago that I could not continue to carry the load of the directorship of the Iowa Commission for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind as we were expanding as a movement and do real justice to both, especially in view of the attacks that were beginning to be focused. Our opponents, of course, should a long time ago, from their point of view, have tried to attack us in Iowa. They made some attempts along that line, but they never really got together their act.

At the NAC meeting last fall, we know that people were asked to go home and to make attacks in Maryland and in Iowa on the leadership of this organization: contact the Governor, contact others. Somewhere down the line, starting in—I guess—October, we began to get an increasing and an ever-increasing barrage of attacks from the Des Moines Register, which had always before that time been friendly to us; attacks in the legislature; and attacks otherwise. Those attacks turned out to be nothing short of astounding, as you go down the line and collect all the newspaper articles. You are driven finally to conclude the people who wrote those articles—and particularly one reporter on that newspaper is either in somebody's employ, or has no scruples at all, or has gone mad, or something. I can't say the why; I don't know why. I do know that it's strange that he sent me word once that he was not a paid agent of my enemies, which is a strange kind of word to send somebody.

In any case, what I would say to you is this: I believe that there is no question that if I had been willing to lower my profile in the Federation and stopped fighting so vigorously for the rights of blind people—in other words, to mind my business and stay home in Iowa—I think there is no doubt that I would have had the best job in work with the blind during the rest of my working life and no problems. I was not willing to do that. And as I've looked back on it, I think the choice was the right choice to make.

A great many things have happened besides the newspaper articles. All kinds of wild charges—that we had an arsenal in the Commission for the Blind of all kinds of automatic weapons. I've never seen a sub-machine gun in my life. That the public address system—which is a regular schoolhouse public address system—was a surveillance device. And by the way, the speakers were only in the halls, in the public areas. If you're really going to set up a surveillance device, you'll put it in people's bedrooms or offices. Federal officials also began to ask to see the books of the National Federation of the Blind and other organizations. That's fine; our books will stand examination. I'm not troubled about that.

I recognize that people can be framed, and so do you. I recognize that all kinds of charges can be made. I have enough faith in the justice of this country's legal system to feel that it's one thing to make charges and another thing to prove those charges.

I think that the time clearly had come when I needed to step aside as Director of the Commission for the Blind in Iowa and devote my time more fully to the organized blind movement or else I was going to have to lower my profile completely in the organized blind movement and first deal with those guys who were attacking me. I suppose they would have been willing to stop, as a matter of fact, if I had been willing to stop my activities in the organized blind movement and then go that road. I wasn't willing to do that; I'm not willing to do that. Therefore, in April of this year, I left employment with the Iowa Commission for the Blind.

I accepted a position in late May of this year as the Executive Director of the American Brotherhood for the Blind. That organization now has offices in Baltimore here. I think that what has happened to us in Iowa—and it is what has happened to us, because they weren't attacking me as an individual, they were attacking the organized blind movement. For instance, we know that Jesse Rosten of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind, that some of the people who are in the Cleveland Society for the Blind, that the American Foundation for the Blind, NAC people—we know that they've been making these attacks. So it's not because they're concerned about me as an individual; they're concerned about the organized blind movement as an entity.

Okay. I no longer am connected with a government agency. My hands have been untied. And I intend now to devote my full efforts and my full energies to trying to advance the good of blind people in this country and doing it not in government service. I intend to spend a great deal of time working in behalf of the National Federation of the Blind. I've always done that, but I think I can spend even more time doing that now. And there is no restriction now, so that I have to try to make justifications and explanations.

Let me say that, with respect to the Iowa situation, in a sense it is a testimonial to the strength of this movement. Because with all of the pounding that we took in the newspaper in Iowa, and all of the attacks that have been made on us, if that had occurred 15 years ago in this movement, I think we'd have been in serious trouble. As it is, it did not slow our progress. Sure, I know, they've sent around the newspaper articles of attack—and they didn't find one thing to attack; if you really read through those articles, it's the biggest bunch of nothing you've ever seen—but they sent around the newspaper articles; I know that. But we have won some of our biggest victories in the face of those very attacks-the Cincinnati organizing and some of the other things. It hasn't stopped us at all, and it won't.

Now also, it is significant that in spite of all of the attacks that were made and the real inducements that were offered by the press and some state officials for the Iowa Commission for the Blind staff and board to become lukewarm toward the Federation, that's not what happened. As a matter of fact, you know that all three of the board members of the Iowa Commission for the Blind are here at this Convention this year, and many staff members. Because after all, this is where the blind are; this is where the action is in the country with respect to blind people.

Also, I would say to you that you can measure our progress in other ways. During the past year we sent out more material from the Des Moines Office than we have ever sent out in a single year. In the previous year—we always take these from June 1 through May 31—in the previous year it was something over 226,000 items, I believe. This year, we sent out 246,196 items of recorded, printed, brailled, and filmed material from the Des Moines Office throughout the country to blind and sighted people. That shows a growth.

Now, let me talk to you a little bit about what I see in the year ahead, what we are planning. Last year we talked about the Jacobus tenBroek Memorial Fund, as we have on succeeding years, at each succeeding Convention. We have also talked in the past about trying to find a building for the Federation and for our movement. As a matter of fact, as long ago as 1971 a resolution was passed by the Convention that the President try to find a suitable building. We never did that because in Des Moines the Randolph was not suitable. We were getting space at a good price, but also it simply didn't seem that that building was suitable for us. We have now found a building—in fact, a whole city block in Baltimore-which is suitable. I want to tell you about that city block and see if it doesn't make you feel as excited and as enthusiastic as it has me.

The block is located about 17 blocks south of here, close to the harbor, in an area which the city is pumping a lot of money into and which it's building up a lot. It's already a good area. On one side of it is a park—Riverside Park. On the other sides are modestly priced but neat houses—homes, private homes. This block has three buildings on it. These buildings combine to a total of about 200,000 square feet. The Iowa Commission for the Blind building—some of you have visited it, many of you—has about 93,000 square feet in it and no ground around it; it goes right to the edge of the property. These buildings are a whole city block and there is some ground inside the complex.

The main building is four stories—the bottom two are 42,500, the top two are 40,000 square feet. Much of the building is currently rented. The first floor of the main building is rented by a furniture distributor; the second floor by an advertising products office specialities company; the third floor by an umbrella company. The smaller buildings primarily are rented by an air freshener manufacturer. The total rent—the fourth floor, by the way, is vacant; and it is the floor—it's 40,000 square feet—it is the floor which will be rented from the Jacobus tenBroek Memorial Fund by the Federation, the Brotherhood, and perhaps some other organizations of the blind.

The current rentals coming in are about $140,000 per year. The current operating costs of the building are estimated by the people who are selling to us at about $85,000 per year. You can see that this means that we would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $55,000 in profit if the same costs obtain. We would have to put some money into remodeling that fourth floor area, for it's simply large open space now. This gives us the maximum possibility of doing with it what we want to.

It has a brick exterior; it is a good building. It has a boiler in it which is only five years old. It has wiring that is up to code and ample electrical service coming in. Some of the leases are up next year, and some of them have been in existence for ten years and there will be increases due. Also, the space which we're having for the Federation and the Brotherhood should be looked at as something we'd have to pay for if we did not have it available to us. In Des Moines right now, as of August 31st, our rent goes to $41,000 or $42,000 for the 16,000 square feet that we are currently renting. This is 40,000 square feet we're talking about which will be available to us. So that has to be added.

We bargained long and hard for this building. The cost of the building to us will be $532,000. That includes land and the buildings—the whole works. We, however, will not pay all of that in cash to begin with. We will pay $10,000 down, and we will then divide the payments over a three-year period in equal payments. We have made arrangements with a bank and with the sellers of the property to us. We will pay them a simple 6% interest, but we have made arrangements with a bank whereby we will get 8 ½ % interest on our money which will be held to pay them and there'll be no penalties for withdrawal. This means, of course, that we'll be getting—well, you'd love to borrow all the money in the world at that rate, if you could, because it will mean that we are not truly paying any interest at all. As a matter of fact, we are getting interest while we pay. The cost of the building will thus be reduced almost down to $500,000.

The building, I think, offers us the possibility of doing many things. We will move all of our materials from Des Moines; we will close our office there. We will establish offices here. Seminars—it is planned—will be conducted from this office. We are also getting prepared, if we can, to do some work as a national Braille library. We are trying to see whether we can arrange to set up recording studios in this building and to begin to do our own recording. We will see how much training we can do of people there. And it is possible—I don't know yet—it is possible that we can build up in such a way as to begin to train—at first on a limited basis, as an extension of seminars to other things—to train blind persons in that building. I don't know yet. But the point is that we will have now a building of our own—as a matter of fact, a whole city block. And we will have it at a price which makes it most advantageous to us. The land will increase in value. We are getting it at a price so that the income itself from the very beginning will be better than we'd probably get otherwise. And it seems to me that this is a real forward step for our movement.

There will be a number of staff coming with me to Baltimore. Mrs. Omvig will become my secretary. Mrs. Gueblaoui and Mr. Thompson, who now work in the Des Moines Office, will transfer to this office. And I think that we will have a good working team here.

The Federation during the past year has, of course, had its financial problems—the President has touched on those. I don't have time to go into all of that now. Later in the week we'll be dealing with some of those items in detail. But I would say this to you: We started the year with something over $540,000 in the Federation's asset account. And we ended the year with something over $480,000. That is to be expected in view of the fact that we were not doing fundraising except getting the remainder of the mailings of the year before and except from our own individual members and except as people saw fit to give donations and bequests. The donations and bequests from members and from affiliates were sizable. What I’ve given you here was the general fund, not the restricted—the research fund for the Kurzweil Machine and things of that type, that we'll deal with in the report later; but that's not money that was generally available to us.

We had income of almost $600,000 this past year in money and we had donated services—which is a new accounting thing that has been put in to make us conform to the Industry Audit Guide, as it's called—of $831,000+. A lot of that was in radio and television time—continued by the stations themselves—as to what that would have cost if they had sold us the time.

Now I think that it has been—with all of its problems—probably the best year we have had in Federation history. We are a more mature movement than we were. We are battle-hardened. We know where we're going. We know what we need as blind people. We have withstood the counterattacks of people who in this field want to go back to yesterday, let alone dealing with tomorrow. And we're going to keep doing that. I have no doubt of that at all. I think the future is bright with promise for us. And I think, with all of the financial and propaganda resources that our opponents could muster, they really couldn't slow our progress in this year. And if that's the truth, I think that we need not worry about years to come.

It is true that because of the Des Moines situation and other things that have happened this year, a few people outside the movement and even fewer inside apparently felt that the time had come when this organization was going to be on the slide. That is not the case, of course. And I think that will be demonstrated—it has already been demonstrated.

As President Sanders introduced Dr. Jernigan to make this report, he announced another addition to the Federation staff in Baltimore. Mary Ellen Anderson, who has for years been Deputy Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, is now a staff member of the Federation. For some time she has handled most of the logistical details of our National Conventions as well as administrative details during the rest of the year. As a staff member, she will assist the President with the day-to-day responsibilities that would otherwise occupy a great deal of his time.

Tuesday ended with a reception at which Federationists could meet and talk with the national officers and Executive Committee, followed by a dance.

Oregon and Washington

The first agenda item on Wednesday was a discussion of our progress in creating separate agencies for the blind in the states. Two of the real victories in this area have come in the Northwest—in Washington State, which has a new commission for the blind on the Iowa model, and in Oregon, where the already-existing Commission has been restructured. Representing the Oregon Commission was Terry Carney, its Director. Representing the Washington Commission was Ed Foscue, chairman of the Commission board.

Mr. Carney began the session by tracing the history of the Oregon Commission for the Blind. He spoke, in part, as follows:

"The Commission trudged through many years of goals ill-defined and rarely met. It was an agency with no real precedent for its philosophy or its services, and it failed to solicit these things from its clientele. Its effective operation was muddied by poor organization, poor funding, poor communication, poor attitude, and poor politics. There seemed to be no end to the carnival of leaders with varying degrees of ability and understanding. The Commission [board] in the past was made up largely of individuals who had no interest in blind people or in blindness and were certainly not inclined to be advocates. Some Commissioners were even representing other state departments competing with the Commission for the Blind for state and federal dollars. . . .

"In January of 1977 the legislation was passed to reduce the number of Commissioners from 9 to 5. The new law also provided that these five members be representative of the public at large and of consumer organizations. Three of the newly appointed Commissioners who took office in September of 1977 are blind persons, including one member of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon, and one representative of employers and one ophthalmologist. These people, in my opinion, are very dedicated to the cause of independence and equality for blind persons. These changes took place primarily through the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon.

"I was hired by the newly appointed board in January of this year to give new direction to the Commission. When I took up this new challenge, there were many things that disturbed me. I found that there was no philosophical base for our services or for the development of programs. One of my first priorities was to establish such a base. Not to serve the "helpless blind man," but to serve as an instrument for all blind persons to use in learning how to help themselves and how to achieve their own goals and often more.

"At the Commission I am faced with varying degrees of traditional thought and some stubbornness amongst our workers and within the pattern of services. My top priority therefore has been to set up this philosophical base, to evaluate the staffs attitudes about blindness, to reorganize and to reorient each person, and to begin the work of pulling the Commission through the fog.

"Presently there are several traditional programs within the Commission for the Blind, including an orientation center, a vocational rehabilitation program, an industries program. We have a summer employment program employing 30 individuals this summer in varying kinds of jobs. We're on the move and change is taking place. . . .We are making changes in all these programs. One change that we're making is that we're planning a comprehensive services center to be located in Portland to combine services to improve the flow of services in Oregon. We are moving away from routine testing to a respect for the individual and his rights.

"But more important than these specifics is the movement toward consumerism. Most of the programs may not sound new to most of you. The point of this dissertation on the Oregon Commission for the Blind is not that our format is innovative, not that our numbers are extraordinary, or not that our ideas are so outstanding. The important thing about us is that we're making a move."

Past issues of the Monitor have discussed the struggle of our Washington affiliate to achieve a commission. Ed Foscue talked about the progress since the creation of the Washington Commission. The board appointed by the Governor had two members of the NFB of Washington, one member of the Washington Council of the Blind, and two sighted persons unaffiliated with either group. Their first action was to select Ken Hopkins as Director. As Ed noted: "With our Commission, that's probably the only time we'll ever have a unanimous vote."

Ed then discussed the difficulties of bringing the board to support the Director in implementing his goals and philosophies. He used the following example:

"The Washington Council sent to the Commission a copy of their resolution number 77-01, which claimed the Commission was funding agencies that hired unqualified people to teach mobility and orientation. And, as they said, some them were even blind. Our Commission was established so that blind people regardless of affiliation or lack of affiliation would be fairly heard. Therefore I decided on the following procedures, which were carried out. At the first meeting we would have the resolution read to the public and we would ask the Council to have someone talk for 5 minutes at the following Commission meeting. We would also have a 5-minute talk by somebody opposing the resolution. At every meeting we allow time for the general public to express their views, which should have given everybody an opportunity to say what they wanted to say at that time. Then at the third meeting, the Commission would decide whether to accept or reject the Council resolution as Commission policy.

"Apparently the Council could not find anyone from Washington to speak for them, because they had to ask Ken Wiley, head of veterans training in Palo Alto, California. He said the first thing that he did when a blind man came to get training in mobility was to take his cane away for an extended period, and then the blind man would learn how to be guided by a sighted person. As I recall it, when I was losing my sight, my wife found a folder on how to guide a blind person and away we went. It really wasn't that tough. Bill Gannon from the Commission spoke very competently on the lack of need for a master's degree in peripatology to teach mobility and orientation. And he should know-he's got that degree.

"The Council also presented the Commissioners with a two-inch-thick book of 'facts' about peripatologists. And just when we were in the midst of a process that was as fair as it could possibly be made, they handed us a supercritical press release which they had previously given to the press regarding blind and other 'unqualified' instructors working under the Commission. Does that sort of sound like something you've heard before? In spite of the efforts of the Council, at the third meeting a vote was called for to support the Council resolution; the motion went down to a smashing defeat with one affirmative vote.

"This is typical of the problems our Commission expects to face. It is not a solid NFB Commission. But as Dr. Jernigan has said, eternal vigilance is the price of independence. The Governor is with us; and we have earned many good friends by working closely with the legislators. The NFB of Washington is pledged to eternal vigilance."

The questions following these presentations brought out a number of points that can be used in persuading legislatures that a separate agency for the blind has real advantages. Both speakers were asked what the most effective argument in favor of a commission had been. Mr. Carney replied:

"My understanding of any initial commission fight is that what we're talking about is access to the Governor's office and direct access to the legislature so that we do not have funding problems. And that was, of course, part of the problem in Oregon in that we had some state officials on the Oregon Commission who were in essence sharing funds with us. And they weren't about to give up a dollar."

Mr. Foscue replied to the same question as follows:

"I would say that probably the very poor services that the blind in the state of Washington were receiving, and the constant comparison which we gave between the services available in Washington for blind people and those available in Iowa was very, very important. This was particularly brought out at one joint senate-house hearing where John Taylor was present. He appeared, of course, and walked directly to the podium. We learned very quickly; we walked directly to the podium without aid. Everyone speaking for State Services for the Blind, including the Director, had to be led by hand up to the podium so that they could make their announcements. I think that demonstration in itself was a big factor."

Another question concerned replies to the argument that a commission is more expensive than other service structures. To this Mr. Foscue replied:

"We are operating on the same budget that State Services for the Blind had operated on, with the transfer of some of the operations that the Department of Health and Social Services had been doing for us—State Services. We have received that transfer of funds and no other; and we're operating far better. We're expanding; we're getting service to more blind people; we're getting better service to more blind people at no extra cost."

Mr. Carney added the following: "Well, I just have to agree with Ed that there is no additional cost whatever in the establishment of a commission for the blind. I think the argument is usually based upon the establishment of separate legal counsel, separate data processing systems, and those kinds of things. And the state agency is going to have to pay for those service regardless of whether it's in an umbrella agency or whether it's in a commission for the blind."

At this point, President Sanders carried the discussion further. He said:

"I think there are some possible confusions that come out of that discussion. It depends on what you mean by the question of costing more. One of the reasons that a commission for the blind is a better structural approach is that they tend to have better budgets than agencies that are made subordinate under large agencies. For example, the average share of the federal vocational rehabilitation money that goes to the program for the blind in states throughout the country is 13.8%. Without much variation those states that have commissions for the blind or separate, identifiable state plans for the blind are the ones that are above the 13.8% average and bring the level up. The ones that have sublimated programs are the ones that run below—in some cases, for instance, in Maryland, Arkansas, and some other states, as low as approximately 6%—that bring the average down. The truth is that commissions for the blind are generally funded better. It doesn't mean that it costs necessarily more; it means that with a separate, identifiable program the blind are able to get their fair share of the money so that they can have decent programs. The American Council of the Blind came into the Maryland Legislature last time and said of the commission for the blind bill, 'Well, you ought to look out because Iowa spends more money on rehabilitation of the blind than any other state.' And we said, 'What a great thing it would be if Maryland could join them.'"

In answer to the question whether it cost a great deal of money to accomplish the administrative changeover to a commission, Ed Foscue replied: "We did not find any great expense. We didn't have any extra money to spend. They didn't allow us any money to make the changeover, so we had to do it under the same budget."

Technology and Communications

In introducing the panel on technology and communications, President Sanders said the following:

"In the last several years, there has been so very much that has happened in technology—some that promises to enslave, and some that promises to be an alternative technique assisting us in our freedom. We need to be involved in that. We have had considerable involvement in a variety of the projects in the past couple of years. We felt it important to have a major agenda time devoted to technology."

The panel included representatives of a number of the firms involved in the most important advances in technology and communication. First to speak was Ray Kurzweil, inventor of the Kurzweil Reading Machine. The Federation has just completed an extended testing and evaluation of this machine, and Mr. Kurzweil discussed the outcome of this project. He spoke, in part, as follows:

"Three years ago there was one Kurzweil Reading Machine .... Today there are nearly 50 machines manufactured for use in a wide variety of settings across the country-rehab centers, schools, libraries, work settings. There are over 500 trained regular users using these machines. Starting this September we will manufacture a machine every other day; we expect to increase this level to one every day by next summer.

"Most importantly, the NFB's project on the Kurzweil Reading Machine, directed by Mike Hingson, has fostered a major new advance in reading technology—one we feel is as significant as the introduction of the reading machine itself three years ago. The new desktop model of the Kurzweil Reading Machine is the result of the guidance and very detailed input of the Federation program. Mike and the many others who participated worked with us on a daily basis. Mike probably knows our technical staff as well as I do. The result of this intense involvement was over 100 specific recommendations for making the machine as responsive as possible to the real reading needs of blind consumers. The new model has implemented all of this input from the NFB."

Mr. Kurzweil also discussed a new project, a talking computer terminal that has the possibility of opening many new jobs to blind persons. It is estimated that the new device will cost under $2,000. Finally, Mr. Kurzweil discussed the progress his company has made in hiring blind persons and in familiarizing his staff with the philosophy of the Federation. Ten Kurzweil employees were present at the Convention.

Next on the program was Dr. James Bliss, president of Telesensory Systems, Incorporated, (TSI). Dr. Bliss began his talk by emphasizing TSI's support for Braille, a matter that caused concern at last year's Convention. A number of TSI products ready for marketing or being developed were discussed. One of these is the Sagem page embossing terminal. As Dr. Bliss described it:

"The Sagem Braille embosser is a desk-top model about the size of an electric typewriter. It produces Braille from electrical signals which can come from many sources, such as keyboard switches, a paper-tape reader, or a computer. It is useful in the transcription and reproduction of Braille, especially in the automatic translation to grade 2 Braille and applications for blind computer programmers, applications for blind information service representatives, and applications for blind users of radio station wire services."

Dr. Bliss discussed TSFs work on developing a paperless Braille system, which will contain a Braille keyboard and a Braille display panel driven by cassette tapes. The unit will also be able to be connected to other equipment, such as calculators, typewriters. Braille embossers, and computers.

The TSI project to allow blind persons to handle the TSPS board used in long-distance telephone calls has advanced considerably. The Pacific Telephone Company has completed a six-month trial period during which two blind operators showed the job could be accomplished within the phone company's performance standards. The original project involved translating the TSPS signals into synthetic speech. In the meantime, Dr. Bliss said, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed another system which used Braille signals. Now TSI has worked with MIT to create a machine that gives the blind operator the choice of synthetic speech or Braille. This new machine will require some additional testing, but already the phone company is working on ways to spread its use throughout the Bell system and to hire blind persons.

TSI is also involved in adapting the Optacon so that it can produce Braille or synthetic speech. Prototypes of this may be available next year. Finally, Dr. Bliss announced the introduction of a new model of the Optacon, called the R-l-D. As he said: "The R-l-D takes advantage of many of the most recent advances in micro-circuit design and may be considered a culmination of over 300 internal improvements made in the Optacon since its introduction in 1971." The improvements, he explained, will make the Optacon more reliable and easier to service.

Next on the program was Dr. Oleg Tretiakoff, president of Elinfa, Incorporated, the firm that markets the Digicassette paperless Braille machine. Developed in France, the Digicassette is presently available in this country and was on display at the Convention. The machine, which sells for around $2,000, stores Braille on cassette tapes. The tapes drive a panel which displays the Braille by means of movable metal rods. After you have read one line, the next appears.

Dr. Tretiakoff discussed other developments, as follows: "Since 1977, last year's NFB Convention, we have introduced, besides the basic Braille recorder, many very important and useful accessories, like the typewriter connection to the Braille device which allows a person to type at the same time a print letter on the typewriter and a Braille copy of it on the cassette. We have introduced calculators of the portable pocket type which can be connected to the Braille Elinfa recorder and allow everybody to make any kind of calculations using any available pocket calculator presently on the market. . . . Finally, we have made available what we call the Elinfa Computer Interface. This unit does convert the Braille Elinfa recorder into an interactive computer terminal which can be used by any person knowing Braille in exactly the same way as a sighted person would use the conventional CRT [computer] terminal."

Dr. Tretiakoff looked forward to the day that blind persons will be able to buy cassetted Braille copies of books at the same time the print copies are made available. This is surely some years away, but the advances in Braille technology are increasing rapidly.

Advances in producing traditional Braille were discussed by the next speaker, Richard Bechtel of Volunteer Services for the Blind, of Philadelphia. Volunteer Services is one of the leaders in developing computerized Braille production. Mr. Bechtel discussed his work in a fairly technical way, but the effect of the work being done is simple enough. Volunteer Services has devised ways so that typists unskilled in Braille can use typewriters that will then, with the aid of a computer, produce plates for printing Braille. The computer is being further refined to produce grade 2 Braille from the same tapes used by computerized systems for printing inkprint books. This will make it possible to produce Braille with no additional inputting, simply using the tapes prepared by publishers for the inkprint copies.

The last speaker on the panel was Dr. Larry Scadden, Director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Center at Smith-Kettlewell Institute in San Francisco. He explained his work as follows:

"In the very comprehensive 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the Rehabilitation Services Administration was mandated to establish rehabilitation engineering centers—facilities located in medical centers that would have both training and engineering capability—to have an interdisciplinary approach to the development and application of technology to the needs of handicapped people. Five centers were established immediately, all dealing with physical disabilities. Three years ago this month the first one for sensory disabilities—and that happened to be mine—was established to deal with the problems of blind people. We have just begun our fourth year. We are involved in basic research studying the capacity of individuals to use other sense—auditory and tactual and kinesthetic sense—to obtain information from the environment. We're involved in the development of new devices, and we're involved in evaluation.

"One of the other primary activities we provide is one of being a resource of information. I am continually contacted by people in a particular area. I believe that our staff is as knowledgeable as any staff in the country in what does exist in our area of sensory aids for the blind. Part of the reason is that we have blind people, including myself, and I have a blind engineer on my staff. We travel a lot; we know the people, and we know the devices. So we can provide the information when contacted.

"In the area of research, we are primarily geared up for the development of devices to assist in expanding employment for blind people. When contacted by a blind person or rehabilitation counselor, placement specialists, or industry, we will either prescribe or recommend a device. We will recommend modification of a work station, or we will recommend no device when that is the case—which is often the case—or we will engage in a development project of our own and carry through with the installation and evaluation of the device in the work situation."

Dr. Scadden discussed some of the criteria he uses in evaluating devices, including the necessity for input from the organized blind. He concluded with the following remarks, which were an excellent summary of technology for the blind. He said:

"You know, my reputation centers around technology; but my comment, my observation is that the rehabilitation and independent activity of blind people does not rest on technology. It rests in the capacity of the blind person. As blind people, obviously we know this; blind people do function independently in most activities of daily life without external sighted assistance and without the products of modern technology. Technology is there not to be a crutch but to be a supplement. We who are involved in technology and in the proliferation of new devices must guard against having blind people use technology as a crutch and, I guess, having sighted people say that the availability of the technology is what makes blind people independent. It is our responsibility as scientists to safeguard this very important point; and it is the obligation of the organized blind to keep us in line."

The F.A.A. Demonstration

Just before the panel on technology on Wednesday morning, Dr. Jernigan took the floor. What he said then is a fitting introduction to the events of Wednesday afternoon. He spoke as follows:

"Once before in the history of this organization we took to the streets to deal with a problem that was so compelling that we felt we had to do something about it. We tried every other way we could. We tried negotiating, and we tried talking to the people involved over the conference table, and it didn't do any good. So in New York City, if you will remember, in 1973, we went to NAC and we spoke to them in the only way they would let us speak to them. We spoke to them in the presence of the television cameras and to the background of the street noises and the traffic.

"It is an historic occasion when we feel compelled in our numbers to take to the streets and deal with something of the kind that we are with FAA. Make no mistake about it. What we're dealing with today is not simply whether you carry a cane on an airplane or whether you can have your dog at a given place on an airplane. What we're dealing with is the broader question of whether or not blind people have the same rights as other people. What we're dealing with is the same question the blacks dealt with as to whether they sat in the back of the bus or the middle or the front.

"It really wasn't that it made any difference whether a black person sat in the back seat or the middle seat; it was that somebody made of that a stigma and made of that a means of putting down the individual. That was what it was all about. And I believe it was John McCraw who said—or at least I heard this secondhand, he can confirm or deny it—that when they said that handicapped people had to sit in the front of certain buses, that he'd never expected to insist on his right to sit in the back of the bus.

"Now I have always in the past, when I've gone on a plane, not particularly cared whether I kept my cane about me. I figured it was probably going to crash anyway, and I wouldn't have a chance to get out, so I never have kept my cane. But I can tell you, after what's happened to Joyce Scanlan and the other people, and after what I heard when I was meek and mild and peaceful on that plane going to—[laughter] well, I was!—going to Chicago, and when the pilot kept coming on and making all kinds of nasty comments about President Sanders and me and others—You know, as far as I'm concerned, the time has now come when as a matter of principle, I simply won't give up my cane any more. I won't do it.

"Now, it's foolishness to talk about the fact that the cane is a flying projectile and so forth. It's no more a flying projectile than purses or some other things—eyeglasses that are of certain types and so forth—that may be on that plane. And also people are allowed to keep their briefcases and all kinds of things if they put them down on the floor under a seat. You can do the same thing with a cane. We're not really dealing with that. We're dealing with whether or not we have the right as people to travel like others with the technology and the means that we have to help us travel and to help make us able to move with freedom of mobility.

"I don't want to belabor the point, but I want to say to you that this afternoon when we go to the FAA, I think that we ought to go in as many numbers as we can, and I think that we ought to be clear in our minds about what we're going for, and I think we ought to make it count on the streets of Washington, D.C."

The events leading up to this declaration of war have been discussed in past issues of the Monitor and in President Sanders' report printed earlier in this issue. But there were new incidents that compelled us to take action or give up thinking of ourselves as having the rights and dignity of American citizens. Dr. Jernigan referred to the incident with six Minnesotans on their way to Baltimore. What happened was this:

On the Thursday before the Convention, United Airlines—the only airline that has been militantly demanding the surrender of canes—issued a new directive for its employees. Noting that a "convention for the blind" was scheduled for Baltimore, the directive stated: "Though the vast majority of our blind passengers appreciate the safety regulations applicable to their travel, there is a small minority who through misunderstanding may resist compliance with the established safety requirements." The condescension and hostility of this are hard to miss. The directive later states:

"Prior to boarding, should a blind person indicate their intent to refuse to comply with the requirement to relinquish their cane, they are to be refused boarding. This is consistent with FAR 121.586, Authority to Refuse Transportation." The directive discusses the stowage of canes that are surrendered, and then states:

"Every reasonable effort, other than physical force or the use of law enforcement officers, will be made to obtain the voluntary surrender of canes from blind persons. In the event that, in spite of these efforts, a blind person refuses to surrender a cane prior to takeoff or landing, the following action should be taken: The blind person will be specifically advised that the refusal constitutes a failure to comply with the federal regulations requiring the proper stowage of carry-on articles, and is contrary to federal law prohibiting interference with flight crew members and flight attendants in the performance of their duties. The passenger should be told that the violation could subject them to civil and criminal penalties and that United must report the incident to federal government authorities. Then, the flight attendant should instruct the passenger to place the cane along the side wall of the aircraft (between outboard seat and fuselage), or under seats in front of them, or on the floor pushed up against the seats forward of the passenger (not protruding into the aisle)."

A more motley combination of obfuscation and intimidation would be hard to imagine. The FAA regulation it cites states that the airlines may enforce procedures filed and approved by the FAA. It is obvious this was not done, since the directive was issued three days before the Convention. Since the Convention, United has issued two more directives on the same subject, each slightly different.

The gist of the directive seems to be that if a blind person can get on board the plane with his cane, he or she will not be thrown off for refusing to surrender it. But if the flight crew is certain the cane will not be surrendered before the blind person gets on board, he or she will be kept off. Once on the plane, however, "every reasonable effort" will be made to get the cane. What this meant in practice was learned as the Minnesota delegation set out for Baltimore via United Airlines.

On the first leg of the trip, from Minneapolis to Cleveland, the six Federationists got on board. Then the flight crew appeared and began their "reasonable efforts." The crew used threats of federal agents and broken laws, as suggested by the directive. They went much further, however, subjecting the Minnesotans to insults delivered in anger and with contempt. This harassment went way beyond anything we had experienced before. But the Federationists were allowed to stay on board. You see. United had already figured out the next step, and that was taken when the Minnesotans had to leave the plane in Cleveland to transfer to the Baltimore flight.

The United personnel felt these blind people had given evidence of "their intent to refuse to comply with the requirement to relinquish their canes." Consequently, they were not allowed to continue their journey. Despite their having reservations and tickets, the Federationists had to take a bus to Baltimore, adding half a day and considerable expense to their trip.

The vindictiveness of this was clear. The latter part of the United directive indicates that United knew there were a number of ways to stow the canes safely. It indicated further that the airline was interested mainly in protecting itself, not in enforcing any FAA regulation. That directive could be interpreted any way the flight personnel wanted to. As the hundreds of other blind persons traveling on United that weekend could testify, most flight crews paid no attention to it.

We directed our protest not at United (though they were remembered on our picket signs and in the interviews we gave) but at the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA, as President Sanders reported, has gone to bat for United, protecting them and allowing them the license to deny our rights and treat us as sub-citizens. In the weeks prior to the Convention, the FAA had ridiculed our position and attempted to undermine our credibility in the press and in public meetings specifically set up for that purpose. (In one of the most flagrant instances, the FAA arranged a public hearing to which they invited not simply the NFB, but what they called "all" groups of the blind. To them this meant not simply the NFB, the ACB, and the BVA, but the AFB, the Columbia Lighthouse, and Volunteers for the Visually Handicapped—a local Washington group of sighted people who sell folding canes.)

The decision to demonstrate was made late Monday afternoon. In some ways, it seemed an impossible project to arrange in two days—particularly since the next day was a national holiday, the 4th of July. As happened at the White House Conference a year earlier, there were those who would not believe we had not made our plans weeks in advance—they couldn't imagine an organization of blind people with the resources to put together a major demonstration in under two days. The U.S. Park Police later told us they had never seen so well organized and orderly a demonstration in Washington.

At the end of the Wednesday morning Convention session, 23 buses pulled up to the side of the Convention Center. Federationists filed directly from the hall into the buses, being handed box lunches as they boarded. We had arranged for more than 300 picket signs to be printed. Most of them stated: "FAA Unfair to Blind Travelers" or "Fly Me—Cane and All." There were others reading: "The Skies of United Are Unfriendly to the Blind."

We drove to Washington and unloaded in front of the Department of Transportation on Independence Avenue, a few blocks from the Capitol. We formed a long circle in the plaza in front of the Transportation Department building, and for the next two hours marched and chanted. The weather was perfect, the arrangements went smoothly, and our spirits had never been higher.

There was another element to the demonstration that added enormously to its effect. The NFB press committee, under the leadership of Sterling France and with the advice of President Sanders (whose professional background is in this field), had made a major effort to alert the news media. They turned out in force. There were at least 50 reporters and cameramen waiting for us in Washington. They represented national and local television and radio, the wire services, and the Washington bureaus of the leading national papers. A camera crew from a Baltimore television station even drove to D.C. with us.

Another aspect of our movement became clear that afternoon. Our opponents try to picture the Federation as a mass of mindless pawns led by forceful leaders. Forceful leaders we certainly have, but the rest is a myth. The reporters each wanted to interview somebody. So the press committee simply invited them to talk to anyone they could find. Reporters from out-of-town newspapers wanted to talk to somebody from their own part of the country. The committee tried to find such a person, and there was no effort made to locate anyone in particular. We were justified by the results. All of the Federationists interviewed that day were thoroughly aware of the issues involved and they did us proud. The reporters were impressed by this a good deal.

Near the end of the demonstration, President Sanders spoke from the steps of the Transportation Department building. The picket line broke up and the one thousand Federationists massed around him. After President Sanders had spoken for a few minutes, the crowd began to roar. We shouted our message in a way that could be heard for blocks. It could be heard in the upper-floor offices where the officials of the FAA had scurried as we approached the steps. It could be heard in the congressional offices on Capitol Hill. It was a day when federal bureaucrats learned that the blind are no longer a submissive, invisible minority willing to be ignored in order to suit administrative convenience.

When the demonstration was being set up, we wondered what sort of response we would get from the U.S. Park Police, who are responsible for protecting federal property. For the previous three days, they had been battling Yippies in front of the White House who were daring the police to arrest them. The police understood the difference between the two demonstrations immediately. We were there to peacefully but firmly protest the denial of our rights. We did not obstruct traffic, and we policed ourselves. Shortly after we arrived, the Park Police set up watering troughs for the dogs in the picket line. When the protest ended, they watched in amazement as a team of Federationists carrying plastic garbage bags began scouring the area for softdrink cans and other rubbish.

The impression we made that afternoon was uniformly positive. It showed us as a unified minority group, knowing what we want, and able to articulate it clearly. The message was delivered far beyond Washington, D.C. That evening, films of the demonstration and interviews with Federationists were shown on the evening news shows of all three national networks. In Baltimore, Washington, and New York City we were on the local television news both at dinner-time and at eleven that night. The next morning, our demonstration was on the front page of the New York Times, the Philadelphia Enquirer, and the Boston Globe, and it was on the front page of the Metro section of the Washington Post. The major wire services carried photos and stories about us that were printed by hundreds of papers across the country. In all, some 60 million Americans got our message that day.

This was just part of the coverage we received, however. On Friday morning, the CBS Morning News carried a long segment on the Convention. Both Dr. Jernigan and Jim Gashel were interviewed in the Convention hall and they discussed not only the cane issue but our campaign to reform the sheltered workshop system. An hour later, on NBC, Jim Gashel was a guest on the Today Show in a segment that began with films of the demonstration.

Never before in our history have the news media concentrated attention on the Federation to this extent. In the past we have had reason to complain that the public was unready to consider us a legitimate minority. We still have a long way to go, but the experience of this week indicated that we have already made enormous progress in bringing our cause to public attention. And it was clear that we are ready for that attention.

Insurance Discrimination

The first agenda item on Thursday morning concerned insurance discrimination against the blind. This is an area in which we have made tremendous progress in the last two years. A month before the Convention, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), meeting in Washington, D.C., adopted a model regulation barring discrimination against the blind in the sale of insurance. The NAIC is made up of the insurance commissioners from each of the 50 states; and when they determine that a situation requires correction, they draft a model regulation that the commissioners can use in their own states. The model regulation adopted this June reads as follows:


Section I. Authority. This regulation is promulgated pursuant to the authority granted by Section 12 of the Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Section II. Purpose. The purpose of this regulation is to identify specific acts or practices which are prohibited by Section 4(7) of the Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Section III. Unfairly Discriminatory Acts or Practices. The following are hereby identified as acts or practices which constitute unfair discrimination between individuals of the same class: Refusing to insure, or refusing to continue to insure, or limiting the amount, extent or kind of coverage available to an individual, or charging an individual a different rate for the same coverage solely because of blindness or partial blindness, except where the refusal, limitation or rate differential is based on sound actuarial principles or is related to actual or reasonably anticipated experience.

Jim Omvig, who more than any other person has been responsible for dealing with this issue on the Federation's behalf and who was on the NAIC task force that studied the issue, was the first speaker on the insurance panel. He reviewed some of the history of the problem and the rationale for this model regulation. (His articles on the subject have appeared in the Monitor during the last year.) Mr. Omvig then spoke as follows:

"In a very broad way, let me simply say this—that in Iowa, the National Federation of the Blind called this problem to the attention of the Iowa Insurance Commissioner. He looked; he said, 'Yes, there is a tremendous problem here.' He was willing to take action and put forward a regulation in the state of Iowa which barred discrimination against the blind, the partially blind, and the physically disabled. He came under some heat and attack, incidentally, for taking that posture; but he put the regulation in anyway. So we have that in Iowa.

"Then Commissioner Anderson said to me: 'I belong to an organization, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It's a private group. It does many things, but among which it discusses problems, sets up task—force groups to study—it examines the problem. If it decides that there's a real problem, it will either draft a model law or a model regulation as a group, and then it will take back the model regulation, and the commissioners are under some obligation to put those things into effect."

Mr. Omvig then turned the floor over to Herbert Anderson, Iowa Commissioner of Insurance. Mr. Anderson discussed where we go now that we have the model regulation. He spoke, in part, as follows:

"Almost every one of the states has a law which provides that it is an unfair trade practice—which subjects an insurer to some rather severe penalties—to unfairly discriminate among persons of the same class. When, through your organization, the problems that you were having in obtaining adequate insurance were brought to my attention, it occurred to me that the proper reaction, when a law is in place and is not being observed, is to promulgate a regulation; and this is the process in almost every one of the states. The law is there, but the law is not understood, so we adopt a regulation to make it very clear to the people who are affected by the law what we perceive the law to mean. The regulation that we adopted in Iowa did that; the regulation that we adopted at the NAIC meeting in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago did that. Jim has read to you the regulation, so I won't go into the details of it again. That's very, very briefly what has happened up to this point.

"I think the important thing for everyone to recognize is that the mere adopting of a law or a regulation doesn't provide you the relief you want and need. What you have to do is to pursue it and be sure that it is implemented. As I say, almost every one of the states has in place in the law the statutory base for the adoption of the regulation that has been adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The thing that must be done now is to get that regulation adopted by every one of the states which does not presently have an adequate regulation or an adequate law dealing specifically with discrimination against persons who are blind. The thing that you must do, and the thing that I'm sure your organization is seeing to it that you will do, is to bring about the adoption of that regulation in each one of your states.

"And then, where we go from there is that you must do as your organization has done in Iowa; and that is, bring to the attention of the insurance regulators in your state those violations of that law and that regulation that come to your attention, because it is based upon complaints that we receive that we are able to get the insurance industry to understand what the law is and what is required for them to do under that law. Now, I want to say that the insurance industry is not monolithic, any more than the blind people of this country are all of one group. There are those in the industry who are very responsible and who have acted in a responsible manner through the years without the need for regulation. There are those in the industry who are not very responsible, who do not understand, and who are governed by beliefs that have no place in the insurance business in this day. It is those people that we have to get at, and it is you who have to make us do it. I think the day is very soon upon us in insurance regulation in this country where we will say to you. We know who you are, and we know you won't go back."

The final speaker on the panel was John Snore, vice-president of the Prudential Insurance Company of America. Mr. Snore headed the NAIC task force investigating the need for a model regulation, and he spoke, in part, as follows:

"I'll be frank with you. When I first began to assemble my notes for my remarks today, my immediate reaction was that I might only be in the position of defending insurance practices. Yet on further reflection and examination, I realized that I was really wrong to feel this way. And that's because for many years my company, for example, has been providing its services to many of you, and there are other companies in the industry, as Herb indicated, who have been, too. Really what we've been pulling toward is the same result, the same objective; and that's fairness in the availability to all of you of various kinds of insurance being offered by our companies. I really think that any differences of opinion that you and I might have over what I've just said may well be because many of you have not been familiar with what has been available to you in the marketplace. But I will admit that you might have had to look for it. Thus, it's my hope that what I have to say today may enlighten you a little bit about our industry, what it is doing, and the scope of individual health and life insurance coverage already available to you. I should stress that my remarks apply primarily to individual policies, not coverage provided by group policies.

"As Jim mentioned, last December the National Association of Insurance Commissioners appointed a task force to study whether or not the industry had been discriminating unfairly in making life and health insurance coverages available to the blind. Even before its first meeting, the task force asked the advisory committee to conduct a survey among its 12 members to determine if there was evidence that the blind may be unfairly discriminated against. Based on the results of this study, the task force did conclude, and I believe rightly so, that there is evidence of some unfair discrimination against the blind in the availability of health and life insurance.

"I'd like to tell you, though, about the results of the study a little bit, because I think it backs up my earlier statement that life and health insurance coverages have been available to you, even though there may have been some companies that did not make it so, and even though you might have been required to search the marketplace to find it. Five different kinds of coverages were surveyed—basic life insurance, the waiver of premium benefit in conjunction with life insurance, accidental death insurance, disability income insurance, and health care insurance. The results of the survey indicated that for insurance coverage—and this is true if blindness was due to congenital disorders or traumas—10 of the 12 companies in the survey will issue standard life insurance to blind people. For waiver of premium coverage, 5 of the 12 companies would issue standard; for accidental death, 7 of the 12; for disability insurance, a disappointing 4 of the 11; but for health care coverages, of 10 companies providing it, 7 would issue it on a standard basis. Now, I think the results of the survey indicate—and although the survey was only 12 companies, it did include some of the most prominent companies in the industry—that standard life and health insurance for the blind is far from unavailable."

Mr. Snore went on to emphasize what adoption of the model regulation will not accomplish. Blind persons will, of course, still have to accept the limitations on insurance applied to the sighted. He concluded by saying:

"Now, where do we go from here? From the survey I just quoted, you saw that there are still some companies who are not offering coverages to the blind. However, even before states begin to adopt the model regulation, I think we will see these companies begin to expand the types and degrees of coverages available to you. Thus, those of you who have—may have—encountered difficulties in obtaining insurance in the past should find it more easily available in the future. Why do I say this? I say it because I think it's merely good business for these companies to make this coverage available to you."

Jim Omvig carried Mr. Snore's remarks further. He spoke as follows:

"I want to simply reemphasize what Mr. Snore said, and that is this: Do not go home from this Convention believing that this regulation—once we get these adopted in the various states—will mean that any blind person can buy any insurance that he would like to have regardless of any other physical problem which he might have. The case is simply not that. Be aware of that. We're talking of the opposite, where simply the fact of blindness itself cannot be used. But other things that deal with health conditions where there is justifiable raising or rejection, that'll continue. So this is not any special insurance so all blind guys can go out and get it period. It's not like that."

Mr. Omvig also added the following:

"Again this is an area where the National Federation of the Blind has taken the lead and ultimately, I believe, in a way that will help other disability groups in this country also. Because of our task force activity with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the model regulation which we have now in our hand, a new task force was established a couple of weeks ago at the Washington meeting—purely coming out of our situation—to now take a look at whether there is in fact unfair discrimination being practiced against other handicapped persons. I believe that the answer is clearly yes, there's no question about it; so in another six months or a year, there's going to be another model regulation forbidding discrimination against other handicapped people in the country. And that again will be purely because of the Federation's activity."

Next, Dr. Jernigan responded to Mr. Snore's remarks, as follows:

"Mr. Snore, my question is in the nature really of a comment and one that I'd like for you to respond to, if you will. The thing that troubles me about what you said is a concept. You said, if I heard you correctly: After all, you may not have known what was available to you. Although you may have had to search in the marketplace, nevertheless 10 out of 12, or 6 out of 9, or something else, would sell you insurance.

"With us it's not just a matter of insurance. It's that, but it's something else. We're not asking for charity; we're asking for justice. When a black person tried to enter a particular university in this country, and the people in that university said: 'Why create all the trouble? There are hundreds of colleges that will take you in if you'll just search a little in the marketplace. It won't take you long; you can find all kinds of people that'll take you in. But we won't.' The blacks said, 'As long as a single black person who is qualified is denied entrance into a single institution of higher learning, then no black person is totally free.'

"What I'm really saying to you is this: We are telling you and the insurance industry that unless you have actuarial data to show that blindness makes us a greater risk than other people—and the burden of proof is on you, not us—unless you have such evidence, we will not be content until blind persons may not be classified at all separate from others by any insurance company in the whole country.

"And this in conclusion: I know that sometimes blind people have other physical problems. That is irrelevant, because if you have a blind person who has a physical condition, fine; rate him up the way you do sighted people who have that condition. Blindness has nothing to do with it. We are not asking for insurance at equal rates unless we are equal risks. We believe we are; we do not believe that blindness causes any greater risk. And therefore, what I'm saying to you and to the whole insurance industry, and what we the blind of this country are saying is: We don't want to talk about the irrelevancies that blind persons may have other physical conditions. Yes indeed, some people who are farmers also have heart conditions; but you don't pick all people who are farmers and say, 'Some of you have heart conditions and we think that's relevant.' It's not relevant. I would say to you, therefore, that we want—it's just as simple as this—equal treatment. And if we're greater risks, fine; we're willing to be treated accordingly. But if we aren't, then we aren't willing to be treated differently and then have the insurance industry tell us that we really ought to be glad and grateful because they've done us a favor. It's no favor. So I'd like you to comment on that."

Mr. Snore replied: "My comments are brief. I couldn't agree with you more. But I would add that your statement indicates the need for your members to get behind this model regulation in the various states, as Commissioner Anderson suggested, and work for its adoption in those states which have not yet adopted it."

Due to space limitations, the sessions that occupied the rest of Thursday and Friday will be reported on in the next issue of the Monitor. They were important and cannot be dealt with briefly. We heard presentations from Dr. Edwin Martin of the federal Bureau of Education for the Handicapped; and we had exchanges of views with the new Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Robert Humphreys. We also talked with Dr. Robert Winn, the new Director of the Bureau for the Blind and Visually Handicapped in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The U.S. Secretary of Labor, F. Ray Marshall, spoke to us and gave his support to our minimum-wage legislation and to the right of workers in sheltered workshops to organize. We also heard from David Tatel, Director of the Office for Civil Rights in HEW.

We had a long session with Frank Kurt Cylke, Chief of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in the Library of Congress, and we heard an address by the Honorable Francis Burch, Attorney General of the State of Maryland. There was a significant session on the progress in our campaign to reform the sheltered workshop system and to organize the workers in shops; this included a rousing talk by a representative from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. There were panels on dog guides, on arts for the handicapped, on our involvement with the blind of other countries, and on funding the movement. All of these sessions will be discussed in the November Monitor.

As always, the banquet on Thursday night was a highpoint of the Convention. NFB First Vice-President Donald C. Capps was master of ceremonies, a job he handled with wit and skill. President Sanders' stirring banquet address was received with a standing ovation. The address is reprinted elsewhere in this issue. At the banquet a charter was presented to the National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia, formerly the West Virginia Federation of the Blind. It is the 48th state affiliate to change its name to emphasize the oneness of the national movement. The first to change was the NFB of Tennessee in 1969.

The Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship was won this year by Jim Mitchell of California. Jim's field is biology, and he is now studying for his doctorate in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Jacobus tenBroek Award was presented to NFB Secretary Lawrence (Muzzy) Marcelino. The presentation remarks by Diane McGeorge and Muzzy’s response are reported in a separate article in this issue.

Even this incomplete report supports the statement—often made, but just as often true—that this was our best Convention yet. By adjournment Friday afternoon, we were pretty well exhausted by the excitement of the week, but we were ready to go home and work to bring the Federation to new heights in the coming year. At the end of Friday afternoon, Dr. Jernigan—once more President of the National Federation of the Blind—took the floor to announce some details about next year's Convention and to make a few other remarks. He spoke as follows:

"You know, I was out as President for a year and am now back as President. I'm reminded of a four-line poem. Let me say it to you; it goes like this: 'Oh, when I was in love with you, then I was clean and brave; and miles around the wonder grew, how well did I behave. But now the fancy passes by, nothing will remain'—and this is it—'And miles around they'll say that I am quite myself again.' [Cheers and laughter] Anyway, we had a great Convention, and Miami Beach, Florida, we're going to next year.

The Convention hotels are the Deauville and the Carillon, and they're right on Miami Beach. They're good hotels. We'll be sending you out data on them in a presidential release. We don't have time to talk about it very much, but please get those reservations in early. We always have people who don't do it until June. And all I've got to say is, I've been elected President, yes. I've already told you I'm going to have Ralph Sanders as the Deputy President, doing about as much as he's ever done and delegating more to him than ever. And I'm going to need all of your help for the next year. We've got battles ahead. And all I've got to say is. Join me and we'll sic 'em."

[Caption] John and Connie McCraw

[Caption] Banquet of the 38th Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind

[Caption] Above The FAA Demonstration Below: President Sanders

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On July 6, 1978, at the banquet of the 38th Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, Lawrence (Muzzy) Marcelino became the third recipient of the Jacobus tenBroek Award. In presenting the award, NFB Board member Diane McGeorge made the following remarks:

"Our presence here tonight is, in one sense, a signal recognition of the dedication, commitment, and stamina exemplified in the life of our beloved founding leader. Dr. Jacobus tenBroek. He was an orator noted for his eloquence, a thinker noted for his wisdom, and a leader noted for his contributions.

"His dedication, commitment, and stamina were the powerful torches that brought light into the dim world of the blind 38 years ago and showed the way for the founding of the organized blind movement.

"The personal characteristics which distinguished Dr. tenBroek from his colleagues in his private, professional, and public life provided the foundation for the Federation lifestyle which we live each day throughout this nation.

"We have been extremely fortunate throughout the history of the organized blind movement to be blessed with leadership possessing these characteristics. Dr. Jernigan, like Dr. tenBroek before him, has taken up the torch and led the blind of America into a brighter era marked by self-reliance and carried forward by self-determination. In Dr. Jernigan's life, we find the recurrent theme—dedication, commitment, stamina, eloquence, wisdom, and contribution.

"It was in recognition of the powerful impact of Dr. tenBroek's life on all of us that we established the Jacobus tenBroek Award. It is intended only for Federationists, for front-line soldiers in the movement, who through dedication, commitment, and stamina have made a substantial contribution to the progress of the blind toward first-class citizenship. It is to be presented only as often as a Federationist merits it by exemplifying, through his or her lifestyle, the characteristics that distinguished Dr. tenBroek. The 1978 recipient of the Jacobus tenBroek Award is such a leader. It would be difficult to find a Federationist who has demonstrated more public spirit, more zeal for the cause, or more unselfish dedication to the movement than has been shown by this long-time leader of the Federation.

"His life has been distinguished by the three characteristics—dedication, commitment, and stamina-which symbolize the life and leadership of Dr. tenBroek. Both in the movement and out, he has been a leader with capacity, a citizen with conviction, and a fighter championing the cause of blind people.

"From the very beginning of the movement he has been steadfast in his support of our philosophy and in his leadership in carrying the fight to the barricades.

"He has served in virtually every position in which Federation leaders can be asked to serve—a leading advocate in the state legislature; a state president; chairman of local, state, and national committees; and a member of the national Executive Committee. He has never failed to answer when we have asked him to serve.

"As a social worker, a rehabilitation counselor, and an investment broker, he has always put the march of the blind toward freedom as his principal concern.

"It is an honor-indeed, a privilege—to present the 1978 Jacobus tenBroek Award to a front-line soldier in the movement, to our distinguished colleague and our friend, the Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind, Lawrence (Muzzy) Marcelino."

The applause following this presentation was long and heartfelt. Muzzy's thanks were brief and characterized by his usual modesty. He said simply: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you profoundly. I think you're making a mistake here. Really, I thank you. I am deeply touched and very, very highly honored—that's all I can say."

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National Federation of the Blind

Baltimore, Maryland, July 6, 1978

It has happened before.
Men put up a city and got a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women to warble:
We are the greatest city, the greatest nation, nothing like us ever was.

And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened
and paid the singers well. . . ,
there were rats and lizards who listened….

And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
And the only listeners now are... the rats. . . and the lizards.

And the wind shifts
and the dust on a doorsill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.

The woman named Tomorrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens at last the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.

The poet Sandburg said it more than half a century ago, but it might have been yesterday in our own field. We have seen it happen before—you and I and the blind of past generations. We have known its degradation and its dominion over our lives. A small group of socially concerned, but misdirected citizens, led by the power-seekers and the politically expedient, have put up institutions and got policies together to control our lives. And they paid singers to sing. They chanted about the American Foundation for the Blind, National Industries for the Blind, the workshops, and other custodial agencies for the blind.

And the power-seekers and the politically expedient got the National Accreditation Council together, and they paid singers to sing: NAC is the greatest agency, the greatest council—nothing like it ever was. Well, what of it? Our grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.

And while the power-seekers and the politically expedient were getting NAC together, we the blind of America came and asked to be let in as partners and equals. But they turned us away, and they paid their singers to sing: NAC is the greatest agency, the greatest council—nothing like it ever was.

Yes, we have heard the song. We heard it when we were there waiting to be permitted in. We heard it when we were there asking to be accepted as equals—as free people with dignity and self-respect. But when we were treated as partisans, not partners, we found strength in community of purpose and concerted action. But they have paid their singers so very well that the message has permeated the news media and been deeply stamped in the public mind.

A recent newspaper article, which was broadly distributed, heralded the work of a retired United Airlines pilot who now trains volunteer instructors for blind skiers. The article quotes him as saying:

"Skiing is challenging enough even when you can see where you are going. Now, try to imagine what it might be like to ski without your sight. Take the simple but vital matter of balance. We rely on our eyes to stay upright more than most of us realize. If you doubt that, try this simple test: Stand up, close your eyes, and lift one foot well off the floor. Time yourself to see how long you can remain in the same spot without your other foot touching the floor. Chances are you will lose your balance in less than 30 seconds. If it is hard to keep your balance just standing on one foot, imagine what it must be like skiing down a steep and bumpy mountainside you cannot see."

So says the retired United Airlines pilot; but, of course, there is an obvious flaw in the logic. A more meaningful test might be for the sighted person to stand on one foot with eyes closed, then with eyes open, to see whether there is any difference in duration. This is the way it always is with one-footed logic. They pay their singers well, and what a song it is! They say we lose our balance. They say we are doomed to charity. They say we are dependent on planned recreation. They say you can count us out.

Well, what of it? Our grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.

They pay their singers to sing a song of pity, of helplessness, of the poor unfortunate blind. And the tone has been bleak, indeed, permeating the whole fabric of society. It was Helen Keller and the American Foundation for the Blind that first got the Lions Clubs to adopt blindness as their principal cause. Of course, much good has been done by the Lions, and none would deny it; but the message has not always been constructive or helpful. A recent fundraising letter sent by a local Lions Club is exemplary of the traditional image of blind people which has customarily been conveyed to the public. It reads:

"Do you agree with us that blindness is one of the all-time tragedies? Certainly your answer would be yes because life with all vision shut out is a chilling thought.

"Yet much can be done and is being done in the field of sight-conservation and training of the blind. The local Lions Club is proud of the contribution it makes each year in this phase of its activities.

"We can't do it alone, however. Our various other charitable fundraising events are not sufficient to carry on our program. So we are appealing to you to help us to help those who are in such need. Your contribution, via voluntary payment for the enclosed 'Be Thankful You Can See' stamps, will help us.... Please make checks payable to 'Blind Seals.'"

(Let me inject parenthetically that the phrase "Blind Seals" seems particularly appropriate and possessed of an unintended double meaning. One gets the impression that the blind seals are trained—well trained—for performance upon command. Let me return to the text of the letter. It goes on to say:)

"Please give what you can and 'be thankful you can see.'"

Well, what of it? Our grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.

Yes, indeed. Let us be thankful we can see. So that we will not lose our balance. But if we are unbalanced, I hope we are not also unhinged.

A recent ad in a chemical magazine is titled "What our fragrance chemicals have to do with why people close their eyes when they kiss."

"Why," the ad asks, "do people close their eyes when they kiss? Because by cutting off one sense, they heighten the other four. They are completely immersed in the taste, smell, sound, and touch of the kiss.

"In our labs," the ad goes on, "we believe this same principle can be applied to our fine fragrance chemicals. That's why our entire panel of quality controllers is blind. Four men and two women chosen for their handicap, not in spite of it. Because, out of necessity, they have the most highly attuned sense of smell possessed by man."

In other words, if we lose one sense, the others are automatically strengthened. This is the oldest of all the myths, and it is not complimentary. What a song. Let the sighted be thankful they can see so that they won't be unbalanced, and let the blind be grateful that they are gifted with the most highly attuned sense of smell possessed by man.

National Industries for the Blind pays the singers very well. NIB draws its income from a percentage of the sales of products and services produced by workshops for the blind. In recent years NIB has begun to encourage workshops for the blind to employ blind persons in non-production areas, and to praise them for doing so. NIB has a staff of more than 80. Their salaries are financed by the millions of dollars produced by the labor of blind shopworkers. It is interesting to note that National Industries for the Blind has not one single blind person on its staff.

In the spring of 1978 National Industries for the Blind published a promotional pamphlet designed to increase the distribution of what it calls "Skilcraft" (in other words, blind-made) products. The cover of the pamphlet proudly proclaims: "A broom is a broom is a broom—or is it?" The copy reads:

"These two brooms look identical . . . they're both good products. They'll both do the job. Yet there is a tremendous difference between them ... It lies in the word Skilcraft on the broom with the label.

"Skilcraft is the registered trademark of National Industries for the Blind. When you buy the broom with the Skilcraft label, you're doing business with 5,300 blind persons who are earning their living, working in 94 industrial factories associated with National Industries for the Blind. Because you're buying their broom—(and many other Skilcraft products, from ball-point pens to garden tools) 5,300 blind persons know the joy of being productive."

The pamphlet continues: "Skilcraft products are purchased because they are quality products at competitive prices. Blind-made is a fringe benefit."

The back cover boldly declares: "A broom is a broom is a broom—or is it? The broom was one of the first products to be handmade by blind craftsmen and was an important source of income to them. And that was only the beginning—"

To which we reply, then: "Indeed it was only the beginning." The connotation of the label "Skilcraft" in the context and the circumstances is invidiously insulting, but the subtlety of it all is doubtless lost on NIB officials, which only points up the problem. When they speak of "competitive," they neglect to mention the subminimum wages, the sweatshop conditions, and the desperate fight to keep the workers from organizing. They hope for broomcorn as usual—no disturbance, no organizing the workers, and no interference.

"Skilcraft!" What a bitter irony to the name and the implication.

Well, what of it? Our grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.

A broom is a broom is a broom—we know it well, for we are the blind of America. We are the blind who made (and far too often still make) the brooms in the workshops. We know what it has done to our lives to work in these so-called "modern factories" with their subminimum wages and their substandard conditions. We have been evaluated, tested, and analyzed. Our lives have been measured to the dull beat of a piece-rate production standard worked out on broken-down, worn-out equipment. We have been told what we cannot do and what we are incapable of producing. We know, first-hand, the painful power of the workshop bosses, and the crushing degradation of the massive welfare system.

And what have our labors brought us? While we have lived on subminimum wages, in substandard conditions, subservient to subminimum masters, our names (indeed our very lives) have been exploited to justify the agency establishment, with its big budgets and big staffs—well-paid staffs, I might add.

We asked only for a chance, not charity; for an opportunity to participate in the economic mainstream—an opportunity to be taxpayers, not tax users. Many of us have left the workshops to find careers in competitive industry and in diverse trades and professions. But for many thousands of blind Americans, employment in the workshops is still a reality. We asked to be treated as equals, and we were turned away. Now, we ask no more. We insist.

Blind workers at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind set the pace for all of us when they voted less than a month ago* to be represented by Teamsters Local 100. It was a precedent-setting, classic case. NAC standards were squarely on the line, and the blind workers rejected them, recognizing that they were not standards but sub-standards. It was an unmistakable message—a declaration that we are not wards and that we are not serfs; that we are not unbalanced and we are not unproductive. In short, we are normal people capable of leading normal lives. We are determined that the standards by which we live shall be set at the bargaining table, not in the board rooms of the social service agencies or on the psychiatrist's couch. All of this is inherent in the vote by the blind shopworkers in Cincinnati. Let the agencies heed its message.

The American Foundation for the Blind, National Industries for the Blind, the work-shops, the other custodial agencies, and the National Accreditation Council have put up institutions and got policies together to control our lives. And they have paid their singers to sing: NAC is the greatest agency, the greatest council—nothing like it ever was. And their song tells of our dependence and our deprivation, of our innocence and our inability, of our helplessness and our hopelessness—indeed, of our utter worthlessness. It is a pitiful, tragic message that speaks directly to how we are perceived by most (I emphasize most, not all) of the agencies established to help us solve our problems. Is it any wonder that the public at large does not know us—know our capacities and our worth? How could they know us when so many of the so-called educators and professionals in the field do not know us and are not willing to know us?

Well, what of it? Our grandmother, Yesterday, is gone. Gone and (for the most part) good riddance! We are not unproductive, nor are we unbalanced. We are not helpless, and we are not hopeless. Our great leader, Dr. Jernigan, has said it as eloquently as it can be said: "Yet, they tell us that there is no discrimination—that the blind are not a minority. But we know who we are, and we will never go back."

We are the blind of America. We know that an increasing number of the governmental and private agencies are marching with us in our fight for freedom. Our cause has become their cause; our battles have become their battles. They are staffed by knowledgeable men and women who treat us with dignity and who treat us as human beings. For these agencies and these professionals we have only respect and good will. They are an important element in our climb to first-class citizenship.

But unfortunately these agencies are still not fully dominant in the field. There are the American Foundation for the Blind, National Industries for the Blind, the majority of the workshops, the other custodial agencies, and especially the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped. They pay their singers well, and we know the monotonous refrain: NAC is the greatest agency, the greatest council—nothing like it ever was.

We know the blind of this nation, for we are the blind. We know our capabilities, and we know our character. We know our rightful expectations, and we know what we have suffered.

The power-seekers and the politically expedient have paid their singers well, but our lives have provided the coin. It is the coin of needless evaluation, exploitation, custodialism, and ward status. They have turned us out and held us in-by withholding meaningful training and needed opportunity. They have virtually denied our very humanity. But they have never been able to quench that spark of hope and belief which has now become the mighty roaring flame of our determination to be first-class citizens in a first-class society—our right to experience the frustrations and dream the dreams of other normal human beings.

A broom is a broom is a broom! Or is it? We know far more about brooms than the managers at National Industries for the Blind, the American Foundation for the Blind, or the National Accreditation Council. We have learned through years of pain and bitter experience. We have learned through common purpose and collective action—and we have learned something else: A new broom sweeps clean. And we intend that the house shall be clean—thoroughly clean. In its full maturity, the organized blind movement is a new broom, and we intend to sweep clean. The National Federation of the Blind was founded at a time of desperate need in the lives of the blind. It was 1940—almost four decades ago. The Federation gained strength through the dedication and determination of the blind of America. It was founded on the principle that we are capable of equality—and, for that matter, excellence. It is the expression of our hope and the embodiment of our dreams. We asked for equality, and we were turned away. In our common need we found strength. We set our course and moved toward our destiny. Yet, they tell us that there is no discrimination—that the blind are not a minority. But we know who we are, and we will never go back.

For too long the power-seekers and the politically expedient have exploited our lives, giving us only promises and poverty. But we shall be exploited no longer. The promises shall be our own, made to ourselves and kept by our own determination. The poverty will go with the second-class status and the system that bred it.

There is no blind person in this country whose life has not been positively affected by the leadership of Dr. tenBroek and Dr. Jernigan. There is not a blind American who has not benefited from the sacrifice and hard work of the tens of thousands of blind men and women who founded the organized blind movement and have fostered its growth and development through the years. The history of our first 38 years is written. Repeatedly we have been tested in adversity and found ready to meet the challenge.

The chronicles of the organized blind movement are filled with both trial and triumph. We were there in the 1940's when reform of the Social Security system was at its most basic beginnings. We were there in the 1950's when blind persons asked for entrance into the federal Civil Service system and were denied. Only now is that battle coming to a successful end. We were challenged, and we met the challenge.

And in the late 1950's, when the survival of the movement was threatened by the attacks of the power-seekers and the politically expedient, we did not falter. Against heavy opposition from the governmental and private agencies, we did not win the specific legislation, but we won the battle and firmly established the right to freedom of organization and self-expression.

And in those days when a minority of the blind (a small band of our members) responded to promises of power and position by trying to destroy the movement from within by civil war, we met the challenge with courage and conviction in the certain knowledge that freedom could come only from concerted action.

During the late I960's and throughout the 1970's we have completed the transition from promise to performance. Wherever the rights of the blind have been threatened, we have been there not merely as passive spectators, but, more important, determined activists.

History, of course, does not stand still. During the past year, the organized blind movement has faced a new challenge. Our leader, Dr. Jernigan, has been confronted with the combined powers of all those forces in American society which have aligned themselves against the progress of the blind in general and our movement in particular. The power-seekers and the politically expedient have attacked the organized blind movement with a combination of financial resources, hate-filled propaganda, and character assassination never before witnessed in the field of work with the blind. Their purpose is clear. They have sought (and, for that matter, still seek) to destroy the organized blind movement through the political assassination of Dr. Jernigan. The very fury and desperation of the attacks are a testimonial to the success and significance of our movement.

This year the old question which each generation must face anew was raised once more: Were we now to be turned back to the days of custody and second-class citizenship? Would we falter and fail in the face of this new confrontation? The best answer to that question can be seen in this gathering tonight. We have been challenged by those who would destroy our movement and we have countered. We have countered in the streets with the NAC demonstrations and we have countered in the workshops and custodial agencies. We have countered in the public press and we have countered in the courts. There have been those who have misread the lessons of history—those who hoped for our helplessness, boasted of our supposed bankruptcy, and chortled at our expected demise. The prophets of doom spoke too soon.

Let those who doubt our strength and our steadfastness of purpose consult the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and National Industries for the Blind. Let them read the lesson of the Steven Henry case. Let them consult with the Federal Aviation Administration. The doors of the custodial system are twisted and broken on their hinges, and soon the writing of the rat footprints will tell us nothing—nothing at all about the greatest agency, the greatest council. The power-seekers and the politically expedient may still search for singers, and they may combine to offer to pay the singers well. But our lives shall never again be used for payment. From this day forward we the blind shall write the music and we shall sing the song.

However difficult our past may have been, we have demonstrated through our actions that we are destined for freedom. To think otherwise would be to deny the lessons of history and desecrate our own achievements. At last society is beginning to hear our message, and tomorrow is filled with promise. They hear our song and they find it true and clear—free of dependence and filled with hope. We cannot turn back or tarry with yesterday. We have come too far and paid too much to permit it. The course we must follow is unmistakable, and our future is equally unmistakable. But no one can give us that future. We must take it for ourselves.

The embodiment of our hopes and our dreams, the substance of our movement—our very essence as a people—can be found in a single line. It symbolizes all that we are and all that we have become. It reminds us of the past; it sustains us in the present; and it shows the way to the future. You know that line as well as I do. Let us affirm it once again as a people: We know who we are, and we will never go back.  

*June 7, 1978.

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Resolutions adopted by the Convention are the basis for Federation policy. They are the marching orders for the officers and staff not only for the following year but until the actions called for have been carried out. To the greatest extent possible, NFB resolutions are the consensus of this nation's blind population—a fact that increasingly is being recognized by the Congress and the agencies of the federal government.

This year, the Convention considered 34 resolutions. Printed in full, they would occupy as much space as a full issue of the Monitor. Since we are faced with severe financial constraints, only summaries of the resolutions passed will be published. However, the full texts of the resolutions are available in inkprint and Braille from the offices of the Federation in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Although resolutions determine the direction of the efforts of the Federation on the national level, it requires the effort of every Federationist to achieve their implementation. We urge you, therefore, to study them and then to pitch in.

Resolution 78-01 concerns H.R. 12467, the House version of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1978. The bill would transfer responsibility for settling whole categories of complaints brought under section 504 out of the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of HEW. Complaints dealing with architectural, transportation, and communication barriers would (if this bill were passed) be handled by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. We see this as an example of the tendency of federal officials to view section 504 as a matter for rehabilitation specialists rather than as a civil rights law for the handicapped. Our rights are no different from those of other citizens, and it is important for the Office for Civil Rights to gain expertise in the sorts of discrimination practiced against the handicapped. This will never happen if section 504 compliance is gradually farmed out to other agencies. We oppose the provision in H.R. 12467 that would begin this transfer process.

Resolution 78-02 concerns the Department of HEW's refusal to enforce the sole-state-agency requirement in the Rehabilitation Act. This requires that, to receive federal rehabilitation funds, states must administer certain types of service through a single state agency charged solely with carrying out that service, rather than through a conglomerate agency providing many other (and often unrelated) services. Some years ago Florida violated this sole-state-agency requirement—scrambling all its services into a single agency and setting up field offices that dealt with virtually every social need of the population. (Through the action of the NFB of Florida, programs for the blind were kept out of this reorganization.) The courts declared Florida's reorganization a violation of the sole-state-agency requirement. Yet the Department of HEW has taken no action to force compliance. Although services for the blind in Florida are not involved, this non-action by HEW is being taken by other states as a sign that they may do the same as Florida did and get away with it. The resolution calls on HEW to enforce the law before programs for the blind all over the country are scrambled into conglomerate agencies.

Resolution 78-03 concerns S. 2600, the Senate version of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1978. Title IV of the bill contains a number of groundbreaking new programs—written by the NFB—that will provide expanded reading services to blind persons and rehabilitation services to those blind persons who need them but who are not eligible for them under the present vocational rehabilitation programs—young blind people, retired blind people, and those who are already employed. The Carter Administration has opposed title IV, not on the ground that it is too expensive—for it will require an insignificant amount of federal money—but because it will be too complicated to administer new categorical programs. The resolution opposes such narrow institutional thinking.

Resolution 78-04 concerns S. 1494, introduced by Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island. The bill is titled a Bill of Rights of the Blind Act, and is a federal version of the Federation's Model White Cane Law, now law in roughly 30 states. Passage of the bill would protect the civil rights of the blind in every state. Among other things, it would deal with the sort of discriminatory policies presently being imposed on the blind by the Federal Aviation Administration and the airlines. The resolution praises Senator Pell and calls on Congress to take action on the bill.

Resolution 78-05 praises Senator Jennings Randolph, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped, and sponsor and champion of title IV of S. 2600 discussed in resolution 78-03. We recognize Senator Randolph for a lifetime of work in behalf of the blind—beginning with the Randolph-Sheppard vending stand program first passed in 1936 and guarded and expanded by him over the years. The resolution declares him a "Friend of the Blind" and states that he deserves this title more than any other legislator in our country's history.

Resolution 78-06 was withdrawn.

Resolution 78-07 concerns the Carter Administration's welfare reform package, the so-called "Better Jobs and Income Act." We state that, far from being a reform, the package is a retreat from modern enlightened concepts of public assistance. It contains such regressive features as relatives' responsibility, scrambling of categorical programs, wiping out of work incentives, restrictions on assets, an actual reduction in grants, and the placing of the handicapped in a broad category called "those who cannot work." We note that the 1972 Supplemental Security Income program achieved the purported goals of the Carter program to the maximum desirable extent, and the resolution opposes this new "reform."

Resolution 78-08 concerns enforcement of section 503—the statute requiring federal contractors to employ the handicapped. Until now the federal efforts to enforce section 503 have been unfocused and ineffective. There are roughly 2,000 personnel spread throughout the federal agencies who are charged with enforcing all affirmative action laws, including those for the handicapped. However, the only unit specifically concerned and knowledgeable about section 503 is the 75-person Veterans and Handicapped Operations in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in the Department of Labor. A reorganization has now been proposed that would bring the 2,000 enforcement personnel into OFCCP. The 75-person Veterans and Handicapped Operations unit would be shuffled into this general enforcement effort. A four-person Veterans and Handicapped Policy Unit would be retained.

This reorganization has some good points but also a major problem. Although concentrating civil rights enforcement in a single unit—the OFCCP—could upgrade enforcement efforts, the 2,000 OFCCP staff members will be spread throughout the Labor Department's regional offices. The director of OFCCP is far down in the bureaucratic structure and would have no direct authority over his staff in the regional offices; the director's role will be that of an advisor. The resolution calls on the Secretary of Labor to elevate the director of OFCCP to the rank of Assistant Secretary of Labor so the entire enforcement effort can be effectively managed and focused.

Resolution 78-09 deals with another problem growing out of the tendency of the public to regard civil rights for the handicapped not as civil rights but as rehabilitation. Section 504 outlaws discrimination against the handicapped in programs receiving federal financial assistance. Since a traditional excuse for excluding the handicapped from educational and other programs has been architectural or communication barriers, more for other disability groups than for the blind, the enforcement of section 504 has tended to focus on removing these barriers. The problem with this is that rehabilitation officials at both the federal and state level have argued that universities and other recipients of federal aid are now responsible for the transcription of books into Braille or sound recordings and the provision of reader services or adapted devices to the blind—services, in other words, until now provided by state rehabilitation agencies. If this occurs, every school and university will be setting up its own services without having any experience in this area. The result will be enormous confusion and duplication of effort. The resolution condemns this interpretation of section 504 and calls on the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration to issue a clear policy directive stating that rehabilitation agencies must retain the responsibility for seeing that their clients receive the services mandated by the Rehabilitation Act.

Resolution 78-10 concerns the arbitration procedures in the 1974 amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act. These guarantee blind vendors the chance to have their grievances heard by an objective arbitration panel. However, the Rehabilitation Services Administration has developed procedures to govern this process that allow the federal Bureau for the Blind and Visually Handicapped to dismiss complaints if they are viewed as "frivolous" or if they do not meet certain procedural requirements set up by RSA. None of this is authorized by the law, and the resolution calls for changes in the RSA procedures so that vendors will have the arbitration rights guaranteed in the 1974 amendments.

Resolution 78-11 concerns a rule being misapplied to blind recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The rule requires blind persons to apply for any funds available from other assistance programs. The Social Security Administration has interpreted this to mean that when blind persons reach age 62, they must apply for Social Security retirement benefits. However, if you apply for retirement benefits at age 62 rather than waiting until you are 65, the benefits are reduced by 20% and they stay at this lower level for the rest of your life. This is a real hardship, and the resolution calls on the rulemaking officials in Social Security to remedy the situation. If that is not done, the resolution states that the NFB will take the problem to Congress and seek a change in the law.

Resolutions 78-12 and 78-13 were withdrawn.

Resolution 78-14 condemns a policy recommended by the Banking Administration Institute of Park Ridge, Illinois, and adopted by many banks across the country. The policy is that a blind person who wishes to rent a safety-deposit box must do so with a sighted co-renter who must be present each time the box is opened. The policy is demeaning and based on the premise that blind people are incapable of managing their own affairs, and the resolution calls for an end to this policy.

Resolution 78-15 was not passed by the convention.

Resolution 78-16 decries the fact that the blind are not included in the affirmative action rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Not only are the blind discriminated against by radio and television stations when they seek work, but the stations use the FCC rules as justification for the discrimination. Beyond this, the FCC still places restrictions on the commercial licenses issued to blind persons. The resolution calls on the FCC to include the blind in its equal employment opportunity regulations and give them full minority status. Further, we call for the restrictions to be removed from the licenses of blind persons and ask that all references to blindness be removed from application forms for licenses.

Resolution 78-17 expresses concern about a problem arising from the increased availability of federal funds for rehabilitation-connected projects. Consumer organizations of the disabled may be awarded grants to carry out these projects. The problem is that the grants are often monitored or even awarded directly by state rehabilitation agencies. The resolution states our fear that consumer organizations will lose their ability to speak independently if their funding is controlled by state agencies. We call for such funds to be awarded through a direct congressional or legislative award system that will guarantee the independence of the organizations receiving such grants.

Resolution 78-18 discusses section 501, which requires federal agencies to establish affirmative action programs for the handicapped. We note that, far from carrying out the mandate of section 501, many federal agencies actually have a lower proportion of handicapped employees today than before section 501 was passed. Although the Civil Service Commission has now allowed handicapped employees access to nondiscrimination complaint procedures, the Commission has not yet issued government-wide affirmative action rules. The resolution calls on the Civil Service Commission to issue such rules and to enforce section 501.

Resolution 78-19 deplores the attitude of a number of federal departments—particularly the Department of Defense—toward the Randolph-Sheppard program. The Defense Department has not only failed to carry out the program, but has attacked it in the Congress and in the press in warlike language. (For instance, one general stated: "Each dollar turned over to the blind will be one dollar less available for the support of our troops.") The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which is responsible for enforcing the Randolph-Sheppard Act, has been far from forceful in dealing with the situation. The resolution calls on HEW to take a firmer stand and calls on Congress to hold oversight hearings to expose the resistence of agencies such as the Defense Department to obeying the law.

Resolution 78-20 was carried over for consideration at next year's convention.

Resolutions 78-21 and 78-22 deal with the milestone union election at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind (reported in the August-September Monitor). Resolution 78-21 commends the officers and members of Teamsters Local 100 for their active support and cooperation in this victory and states that we look forward to a close relationship with the Teamsters in future union campaigns. Resolution 78-22 salutes the blind employees in Cincinnati for being willing to stand up for their rights. We further pledge our whole-hearted support to other groups of shopworkers seeking the benefits of union membership.

Resolution 78-23 puts on record our position that blind persons have the right to keep their canes with them at all times during airline flights. We resolve to take any steps necessary to change the unsupported position of the Federal Aviation Administration that seeks to abridge this right, and we call on airlines that agree with our position to make their agreement known to the FAA.

Resolution 78-24 notes that the blind have suffered denials of their civil rights at least to the same extent as any other minority group. Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended (that is, sections 501, 503, and 504) are a first step toward redressing this problem; but what is needed is to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include the blind and disabled. We call on the Congress to make these amendments, including guaranteeing to the handicapped private rights of action and the recovery of monetary damages for violations of civil rights.

Resolution 78-25 discusses our recent major victory in moving toward eliminating discrimination in the sale of insurance to the blind. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), acting at the instigation of the NEB, has found that there has been such discrimination and has adopted a model regulation outlawing the practice. We commend the NAIC and urge that its members (state insurance commissioners) adopt the regulation in their states.

Resolution 78-26 concerns the case of a blind woman who was abducted, raped, and brutally beaten. Her injuries included savage damage to her eyes. The jury trying the case found the defendants guilty of kidnapping and rape but not of bodily harm—very likely because the woman was blind. The resolution condemns this prejudicial finding and encourages state NFB affiliates to seek greater protection against the physical abuse of blind women.

Resolution 78-27 expresses a problem that many blind parents have with regional libraries for the blind. The libraries often are reluctant to lend recorded editions of children's books to blind adults. Since blind parents often have no other method of exposing their children to juvenile literature, this policy works a hardship on them. We urge the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to adopt a policy that will correct this problem.

Resolution 78-28 discusses the lack of reasonably priced aids and appliances used by blind persons in place of sight. One of the major suppliers of such aids is the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB); but buying aids from the AFB means dealing with its arrogant and inefficient staff and paying exorbitant prices. Beyond which, the profits generated by sales are not used to produce better products but to sponsor warfare on the organized blind movement. The resolution determines that we will seek other sources of aids and urge companies to produce better aids with the input of blind consumers and market them at reasonable prices.

Resolution 78-29 deplores the fact that some publishers of inkprint books refuse permission to have their books reproduced in forms usable by the blind. We call on publishers to grant reproduction permission routinely and we call for changes in the copyright law so that such permission would be granted automatically.

Resolution 78-30 was withdrawn.

Resolution 78-31 discusses the importance of public transportation to blind persons. In particular, we express concern at the proposed cutbacks in the Amtrak system. We call both for expansion of the system and increased public funding for rail passenger service in this country.

Resolution 78-32 condemns a new effort by the American Foundation for the Blind to bolster the sagging reputation of the National Accreditation Council. The AFB has been trying to persuade the Veterans' Administration to require its blind rehabilitation centers to seek NAC accreditation. We point out that these centers are highly successful and that accreditation by NAC can only diminish their effectiveness. The executive director of the AFB, Loyal Apple, is a former director of a VA blind center; and reportedly it is on this basis that the VA is considering such a step at all.

Resolution 78-33 concerns the problems blind persons have in gaining access to art museums. Museum directors have tended to focus their efforts on special, segregated exhibits for the blind rather than on full participation with the sighted public in regular museum programs. The National Endowment for the Arts has issued regulations implementing section 504, and the resolution commends these and recommends that they be followed by all museums in the country.

Resolution 78-34 dicusses disturbing trends in the International Federation of the Blind. The IFB was founded by the National Federation of the Blind as an extension of the principles underlying the NFB. It was to be a forum for the blind themselves, speaking through national organizations of the blind, rather than a puppet of agencies for the blind. The present leaders of the IFB seem to have lost sight of this purpose, even going so far as to allow the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, an organization of agencies for the blind, to speak for the IFB. The resolution deplores this subversion of the true purpose of the International Federation of the Blind.

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The Convention this year adopted three amendments to the NFB Constitution. The first changed section A of article III, which concerns membership. Before the amendment, section A provided that in states where there was no NFB affiliate, persons could join as members at large and pay $1 per year in dues to the national organization. If there were an affiliate in a state but it denied membership to a person, that person could be admitted as a member at large by the national Executive Committee. Since every state now has an affiliate and since the affiliates do not have closed memberships, these provisions are no longer relevant.

The Constitution has been amended so that the member-at-large category will now be used for sighted friends of the movement who want to have a closer, more formal relationship with the NFB than simply contributing money. These are parents of Federationists, their families, adult children, and friends and co-workers. We are offering these people full-fledged membership in the National Federation of the Blind. The amended section A reads:

"The membership of the National Federation of the Blind shall consist of the members of the state affiliates plus members at large. Members at large shall have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities in the National Federation of the Blind as those exercised by members of state affiliates. The Board of Directors shall establish procedures for admission of members at large, determine how many classes of such members shall be established, and determine the annual dues to be paid by members of each class."

There are some limits on membership at large because of the nature of the organization—this was brought out during the Convention discussion. Officers at every level of the Federation must be blind, and national officers and policy are determined by votes of the affiliates. But members at large have the right to participate in the movement—to speak at Conventions, to serve on national committees. They will receive newsletters several times a year reporting on the NFB's progress in less detail than the Monitor. Members at large are also eligible to join the new NFB group life and hospitalization insurance plan (which will be discussed in detail in the November Monitor). There is one category of members at large; they pay a dollar per year in dues.

Thus, there are now two categories of members. The "regular" members (who belong to state and local affiliates) primarily are blind. The members at large will be sighted; they are people strongly committed to the movement but not to the point of active chapter participation. Of course, sighted persons may join as regular members.

The year-old Associates program still exists, but at a different level. It is a program solely for members at large. It is their means of participating in our project to finance the NFB from within the movement.

Regular members, who receive year-round services such as the Monitor, the cassette releases, and the benefits of NFB lawsuits and work with Congress, are encouraged to give in many ways. The Pre-Authorized Check plan is a major way—it allows members to contribute regularly, month by month. The PAC plan is not restricted to regular members. It is appropriate for family and friends of Federationists—some of the same people who are good candidates for membership at large. Even non-members may belong to the PAC plan, and some do. The Associates program, though, will be an appropriate method of support for most members at large. It is a yearly contribution.

A member at large who contributes $10 becomes an Associate. One who donates $25 becomes a Contributing Associate; $50, a Supporting Associate; $100, a Sponsoring Associate; $500, a Sustaining Associate; and $1,000, a Member of the President's Club. These are the same ranks as before. The form to enroll a member at large is the same as the one to sign up an Associate. (A copy of the new form appears in the back of the inkprint edition of this issue.)

The second amendment creates new sections C and D in article IV. One part of this is technical: In the past, the governing board of the NFB has been called the Executive Committee. There was also a Board of Directors which was made up of the Executive Committee plus several others who had an advisory role only. This arrangement has caused some confusion over the years, since in most organizations the board of directors is the governing board. This is now true of the NFB as well. What was formerly the Executive Committee is now the Board of Directors, and all of its members are voting members. This group has been expanded by two persons. One is an ordinary board member, elected to two-year terms like other board members. In addition, the immediate past President of the Federation becomes a voting board member. Since Kenneth Jernigan is now NFB President, the immediate past President, Ralph Sanders, becomes a board member. Ralph will stay on the board until a new President is elected, at which point Dr. Jernigan will replace Ralph on the board. A rider to this amendment ordered that wherever the words "Executive Committee" appear in the Constitution, they be changed to "Board of Directors."

The second constitutional amendment also created a new body known as the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board will have no governing power. Our intention is to recruit a group of well-known and influential people who can advise us on fundraising and other matters. The composition and duties of the Advisory Board will be determined by the NFB Board of Directors.

The final amendment is a technical one. It concerns article VII, which was formerly titled "Dues." Before this amendment, the article discussed the $30 assessment each state affiliate must pay to the national organization once a year; but as it stood, this $30 was referred to in two places as an "assessment" and in two other places as "dues." The Constitution now refers to this payment only as an assessment. The change was made because affiliates do not pay dues, and members (except for members at large) pay dues to the state affiliate, not the national organization. Jerry Szumski of the Des Moines Register became confused when he tried to figure out the number of NFB members from the amount paid to the National Office by state affiliates. The clearing up of the language in the Constitution should make the matter plain even to those with Mr. Szumski's limited desire to understand.

The entire NFB Constitution as amended this summer appears in this issue of the Monitor.


The election of officers and board members took place on Friday morning of the Convention. As already announced, Dr. Kenneth Jernigan was elected President of the Federation. All of the other officers were nominated and reelected for another term. They are: First Vice-President, Donald Capps of South Carolina ; Second Vice-President, Rami Rabby of New York; Secretary, Lawrence Marcelino of California; and Treasurer, Richard Edlund of Kansas.

Four members of the Executive Committee ended their terms this year, and all four were nominated and elected to two-year terms on the new Board of Directors. They are: Elizabeth Bowen of Florida, Robert Eschbach of Ohio, Diane McGeorge of Colorado, and Joyce Scanlan of Minnesota. The amendment to the Constitution created one new board position; and Peggy Pinder, president of the NFB Student Division, was elected to this spot. Finally, as immediate past President, Ralph Sanders automatically joins the board.

The other four members of the board are those who were elected to the Executive Committee in 1977. They are Sue Ammeter of Washington, Jonathan May of Connecticut, John McCraw of Maryland, and E. U. Parker of Mississippi. Since John McCraw's death on September 1, there has been an empty seat on the NFB Board.  

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The name of this organization is The National Federation of the Blind.


The purpose of The National Federation of the Blind is to promote the security and social welfare of the blind.


Section A. The membership of The National Federation of the Blind shall consist of the members of the state affiliates plus members at large. Members at large shall have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities in The National Federation of the Blind as those exercised by members of state affiliates.

The Board of Directors shall establish procedures for admission of members at large, determine how many classes of such members shall be established, and determine the annual dues to be paid by members of each class.

Section B. Each state or territorial possession of the United States, including the District of Columbia, having an affiliate shall have one vote at the National Convention and shall be referred to hereinafter as state affiliates.

Section C. Affiliates shall be organizations of the blind, controlled by the blind.

Section D. The Board of Directors shall establish procedures for the admission of new state affiliates. There shall be only one affiliate in each state.

Section E. The Convention by a two-thirds vote may expel and by a simple majority vote suspend, or otherwise discipline, any member or affiliate for conduct inconsistent with this Constitution, or policies established by the Convention; provided that notice of the proposed action shall be announced to the Convention on the preceding day.


Section A. The officers of The National Federation of the Blind shall consist of (1) President, (2) First Vice-President, (3) Second Vice-President, (4) Secretary, and (5) Treasurer. They shall be elected biennially.

Section B. The officers shall be elected by majority vote of the state affiliates present and voting at a National Convention.

Section C. The National Federation of the Blind shall have a Board of Directors, which shall be composed of the five officers, the immediate past President, and nine additional members, five of whom shall be elected at the annual Convention in 1978 and four of whom shall be those elected to the Board of Directors for two-year terms at the annual Convention in 1977. With the exception of the immediate past President, members of the Board of Directors shall serve for two-year terms. The terms of the Board members elected in 1977 shall expire in 1979; and the terms of those elected in 1978 shall expire in 1980.

Section D. The Board of Directors may in its discretion create an Advisory Board, National Federation of the Blind, and determine the composition, duties, and qualifications of the members of the Advisory Board.

Section E. Officers and members of the Board of Directors may be removed or recalled by a majority vote of the Convention; provided that notice of the proposed action shall be announced to the Convention on the preceding day.

Section F. No person receiving regular substantial financial compensation from The National Federation of the Blind shall be an elected officer or member of the Board of Directors.


Section A. Powers and Duties of the Convention. The Convention is the supreme authority of the Federation. It is the legislature of the Federation. As such, it has final authority with respect to all issues of policy. Its decisions shall be made after opportunity has been afforded for full and fair discussion. Delegates, members, and all blind persons in attendance may participate in all Convention discussions as a matter of right. Any member of the Federation may make or second motions, propose nominations, and serve on committees; and is eligible for election to office, except that only blind members may hold elective office. Voting and making motions by proxy are prohibited. Consistent with the democratic character of the Federation, Convention meetings shall be so conducted as to prevent parliamentary maneuvers which would have the effect of interfering with the expression of the will of the majority on any question, or with the rights of the minority to full and fair presentation of their views. The Convention is not merely a gathering of representatives of separate state organizations. It is a meeting of the Federation at the national level in its character as a national organization. Committees of the Federation are committees of the national organization. The nominating committee shall consist of one member from each state affiliate represented at the Convention.

Section B. Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors. The function of the Board of Directors as the governing body of the Federation between Conventions is to make policies when necessary and not in conflict with the policies adopted by the Convention. Policy decisions which can reasonably be postponed until the next meeting of the National Convention shall not be made by the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors shall serve as a credentials committee. It shall have the power to deal with organizational problems presented to it by any member or affiliate, shall decide appeals regarding the validity of elections in state or local affiliates, and shall certify the credentials of delegates when questions regarding the validity of such credentials arise. At each meeting, the Board of Directors shall receive a report from the President on the operations of the Federation. There shall be a standing subcommittee of the Board of Directors which shall consist of three members. The committee shall be known as the Subcommittee on Budget and Finance. It shall, whenever it deems necessary, recommend to the Board of Directors principles of budgeting, accounting procedures, and methods of financing the Federation program; and shall consult with the President on major expenditures.

The Board of Directors shall meet at the time of each National Convention. It shall hold other meetings on the call of the President or on the written request of any five members.

Section C. Powers and Duties of the President. The President is the principal administrative officer of the Federation. In this capacity his duties consist of: carrying out the policies adopted by the Convention; conducting the day-to-day management of the affairs of the Federation; authorizing expenditures from the Federation treasury in accordance with and in implementation of the policies established by the Convention; appointing all committees of the Federation except the Board of Directors; coordinating all activities of the Federation including the work of other officers and of committees; hiring, supervising, and when necessary, dismissing staff members and other employees of the Federation, and determining their numbers and compensation; taking ail administrative actions necessary and proper to put into effect the programs and accomplish the purposes of the Federation.

The implementation and administration of the interim policies adopted by the Board of Directors is the responsibility of the President as principal administrative officer of the Federation.


Any organized group desiring to become a state affiliate of The National Federation of the Blind shall apply for affiliation by submitting to the President of The National Federation of the Blind a copy of its constitution and a list of the names and addresses of its elected officers. Under procedures to be established by the Board of Directors, action shall be taken on the application. If the action is affirmative, The National Federation of the Blind shall issue to the organization a charter of affiliation. Upon request of the national President the state affiliate shall, from time to time, provide to the national President the names and addresses of its members. Copies of all amendments to the constitution and/or bylaws of an affiliate shall be sent without delay to the national President. No organization shall be accepted as an affiliate and no organization shall remain an affiliate unless at least a majority of its voting members are blind. The president, vice-president (or vice-presidents), and at least a majority of the executive committee or board of directors of the state affiliate and of all of its local chapters must be blind. Affiliates must not merely be social organizations but must formulate programs and actively work to promote the economic and social betterment of the blind. Affiliates must comply with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federation. Policy decisions of the Federation are binding upon all affiliates, and the affiliate must participate affirmatively in carrying out such policy decisions. The name National Federation of the Blind, Federation of the Blind, or any variant thereof is the property of The National Federation of the Blind; and any affiliate, or local chapter of an affiliate, which ceases to be part of The National Federation of the Blind (for whatever reason) shall forthwith forfeit the right to use the name National Federation of the Blind, Federation of the Blind, or any variant thereof.

A general convention of the membership of an affiliate or of the elected delegates of the membership must be held and its principal executive officers must be elected at least once every two years. There can be no closed membership. Proxy voting is prohibited in state and local affiliates. Each affiliate must have a written constitution or bylaws setting forth its structure, the authority of its officers, and the basic procedures which it will follow. No publicly contributed funds may be divided among the membership of an affiliate on the basis of membership, and (upon request from the National Office) an affiliate must present an accounting of all of its receipts and expenditures. An affiliate which fails to be represented at three consecutive National Conventions may be considered to be inactive, and may be suspended as an affiliate by the Board of Directors. The affiliate must not indulge in attacks upon the officers, Board members, leaders, or members of the Federation or upon the organization itself outside of the organization, and must not allow its officers or members to indulge in such attacks. This requirement shall not be interpreted to interfere with the right of an affiliate or its officers or members to carry on a political campaign inside the Federation for election to office or to achieve policy changes. No affiliate may join or support, or allow its officers or members to join or support, any temporary or permanent organization inside the Federation which has not received the sanction and approval of the Federation.


Each state affiliate shall pay an annual assessment of $30. Assessments shall be payable in advance on or before January 1.  

Any state affiliate which is in arrears with its assessment at the time of the National Convention shall be denied the right to vote.


In the event of dissolution, all assets of the organization shall be given to an organization with similar purposes which has received a 501(c)(3) certification by the Internal Revenue Service.


This Constitution may be amended at any regular annual Convention of the Federation by an affirmative vote of two thirds of the states registered, present, and voting. Provided further: that the proposed amendment must be signed by five member states in good standing and that it must have been presented to the President the day before final action by the Convention. 

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Chairwoman, NFB Committee on Associates

Hear ye! Hear ye! The NFB Committee on Associates announces a great contest to be held among all chapters and all members of the NFB. Whichever member enrolls the most new Associates between October 1, 1978, and May 15, 1979, will receive a $300 prize at next year's Convention in Miami. The second- and third-place prizes are $200 and $100. A second competition will be held among NFB chapters. The chapter that enrolls the largest number of Associates between October 1 and May 15 will receive free banquet tickets in Miami for all chapter members present at the Convention. The Monitor will print an article about the winning chapter. To be counted in the competition, the forms enrolling Associates must reach Dick Edlund by May 15, 1979.

The Associate form is part of the application for membership at large. Remember that only those who have joined the NFB as members at large are eligible to become Associates. Chapters have many projects to raise money from the public. This competition is different. We naturally welcome public support in any form; but the enlisting of members at large is a means of creating a group of loyal and informed sighted members of the public. It is for people who have heard enough about us to want to know more and who are willing to be counted in our number.

A competition to enroll Associates is, at this stage of the program, a campaign to increase the number of members at large. This involves doing what most Federationists are doing much of the time anyway—talking to people about the Federation, about what it has meant to them, and what it is doing to change the lives of blind people. Talk to the person on the bus who wants to know about cane travel. Talk to your co-workers, acquaintances, and family who have been hearing about the NFB for years. Invite your reader to become a member at large. Talk to the person who repairs your furnace and is curious about your Braille books. The people who see and work with you every day, once they hear about what we are doing, will want to be part of our movement. Once you have introduced people to the NFB, their interest will be sustained and their information about us will grow through the newsletters sent to members at large. There is no better way to build an informed base of public support.

Many people (including many people on the Committee on Associates) think that enrolling Associates is more painful than getting their teeth pulled, because you are asking for money. Here are our relatively painless, sure-fire, and cost-effective ideas on methods for extracting Associate pledges.

(1) This method was suggested by Anna Katherine Jernigan, who is more industrious in her letter-writing than most of us. When you send your Christmas or Channukah cards this year, enclose a letter describing the NFB and an Associate form signed by yourself. The Committee on Associates has prepared several letters as models; they are aimed at people with various interests and outlooks. You may use any of the letters as is, placing your own name or chapter at the top, or use them as a model for a letter of your own. The material we have prepared is educational—it discusses the issues and concerns of blind people and talks about why the NFB makes a difference.

(2) Every time a chapter member speaks about the NFB at a church or community group, pass out some Associate literature. If you conduct a seminar or conference on blindness, mail a letter and form to those who attended. Do this within several weeks, while the NFB is still fresh in their minds. People like this will already have a good idea of who we are, and they will be ready to learn more.

Many Braille transcribers with a lifetime interest in the blind have turned out to be eager to become Associates. There are many others who only need to hear about the program. Lions Clubs and Federated Women's Clubs in your local area would be glad to have you come to a meeting and talk about the Federation. These people would make excellent members at large. In many parts of the country, Lions Clubs and Federated Women's Clubs are our strongest allies.

Many community groups will want to know: "Does our money benefit blind people in this state?" This is not hard to answer. It does in very direct ways. When there is a state effort to change or improve state programs for the blind, NFB leaders are willing to come to give expert testimony. Blind persons meeting discrimination will have the help of blind persons who have met the same discrimination—their help as witnesses and their financial help in the form of legal assistance. The Monitor and the literature in Braille, ink, and talking book are sent to blind people in every state. The Blindness Information Center is available free in every state. Beyond this, the work of the NFB on the national level has very direct impact on blind persons in the states. Our work to gain a model regulation on insurance sales will smoothe the way to instituting the rule in every state. The addition of work incentives to the Social Security Act, the gaining of services for older blind persons in the Rehabilitation Act, the breakthroughs in reforming labor laws and conditions—all of these affect blind people in every state in a tangible way.

(3) If every Federationist invited her or his parents or adult children to become members at large and Associates, this alone would raise half a million dollars. Ten dollars (the minimum to become an Associate) times 50,000 parents equals $500,000 for 1978-1979. These are people who already know very clearly why the NFB is needed; all they are waiting for is to be asked to help with our work. Family members in particular will appreciate the newsletter sent to Associates. How many chapter members have invited their parents or adult children to join as members at large?

(4) Always carry a supply of Associate forms with you! Even if this sounds embarrassing at first, you will find times to use them. You will discover that the person in your carpool who converses with you at length would like to become an Associate. If you express your pride in belonging to the NFB, people will simply want to become Associates. You might try some role-playing at your chapter meeting. Set up mock situations and practice what you would say.

(5) Mail Associate letters in your local area. The material is not simply a request for donations, it is educational. It will also spread the word about your chapter and bring in new contacts and members. How can you get a mailing list? Any member who belongs to the Jaycees or a Lions Club or a church can suggest that it would be a worthy service project to send out NFB materials to the people on the organization's mailing list. You might do this in conjunction with the showing of one of the NFB films. We are now preparing material specifically for use in working with churches and synagogues. Another method is to compile a list of potential members at large who are known to chapter members.

Do not hesitate to ask people to become Associates simply because they have little money. Some Federationists who live on Social Security donate $10 or $15 a month to the NFB because it is the one organization that is having an impact on blind people's lives. Your younger brother or son who makes $10 a month from babysitting might feel proud to be asked to be part of something so important to you. If he can contribute only $5, perhaps his sister can make up the other half.

If these methods sound awkward or wearisome, or if they sound fine but you know that your chapter won't get around to doing them, brainstorm to find methods that fit your chapter's unique interests and resources. Share your ideas with the Monitor. Appoint people in the chapter to be leg and idea people, who will order forms and materials, who will bring forms to every meeting.

For information or materials, write in Braille or print to Trish Miller, 1911 East-West Highway, Apartment 202, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910. Do not order forms and material unless you will use them. Completed Associate forms should be sent to Richard Edlund, Treasurer, National Federation of the Blind, Box 11185, Kansas City, Kansas 66111.

In order for us to judge the competition, we must know what chapter should get credit for Associates. On each form you send in, be sure to include your chapter name as well as your own name. Members at large who join after October 1, 1978, will be considered to have joined for the year 1979. This Associates competition has the potential for spreading the message of the Federation as well as bringing in much-needed financial support to carry on our work.  

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Note: As winter approaches, and the NAC-tracking season along with it, we pass  on this traditional Vermont recipe for hot buttered rum.


Place two jiggers of dark rum (only use dark rum) and two tablespoons of maple syrup in a large crockery mug. Add boiling water and a tablespoon of butter.  Sprinkle nutmeg on top. This hits the spot after a hard day's picketing.  

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The family of John McCraw has asked that those wishing to remember him do so by making memorial contributions to the National Federation of the Blind. Indicate that your donations are in memory of John McCraw and send them to NFB Treasurer Richard Edlund.

Several weeks ago, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski of Baltimore rose in the House of Representatives to insert a tribute to John McCraw in the Congressional Record.

Federationist Lou Corbin of Florida has been a county court judge for some years. He recently resigned his post to run for circuit court judge. Although he had two opponents in the election, Judge Corbin won 61% of the votes.

The NFB of Connecticut will hold its annual convention on November 11, 1978, at the Greenwich Civic Center, Harding Road, Old Greenwich, Connecticut. There will be discussions of many topics, including an insurance regulation for the state, and the establishment of a radio information service. For further information, contact Mrs. Mary Main, Old Mill Lane, Stamford, Connecticut 06902 or the Reverend Howard May, RFD 2, Clint Eldredge Road, West Willington, Connecticut 06279.

The NFB of Massachusetts invites all Federationists to attend a testimonial dinner for Congressman James Burke of Massachusetts. Mr. Burke is chairman of the Subcommittee on Social Security of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives. He has received the Federation's Newel Perry Award for his strong support for liberalizing eligibility conditions for the Social Security Disability Insurance program; and much of our success in improving that program has been due to him. Mr. Burke is retiring from Congress at the end of this year, which will be a real loss to the blind. He has pledged his continuing help, however, and has recently joined the NFB of Massachusetts. The dinner will be held Saturday, November 11, at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, 64 Arlington Street, beginning with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 7:30. The tickets are $17 per person and can be purchased from the NFB of Massachusetts, Box 36 - Flint Station, Fall River, Massachusetts 02723. For more information, contact Gene Raschi, 20 Winslow Avenue, Somerville, Massachusetts 02144; phone 617-625-5554.

The NFB of Florida is planning post-Convention tours for next July. They need to have some idea of how much interest there will be in order to make definite plans. Two tours are presently under consideration. (1) This is a 3-day cruise to Nassau and the outlying islands, leaving Monday night after the Convention and returning Thursday morning. The cruise ship will be your hotel, with all meals provided on board. The cost per person (with double occupancy of the cabins—there are no singles) would be $240. (2) This is a trip to Disney World, outside of Orlando. It is a 3-day trip including transportation by plane, one day at Disney World plus optional side tours, or spending the whole three days at Disney World. If you were to take this trip, you would want to arrange to have your flight home leave from Orlando rather than Miami. The trip would leave Saturday or Sunday after the Convention. No price can be stated for this trip—it depends on how many are interested. If you want to be part of either of these trips, contact Beth Bowen, 8880 Old Kings Road South, Apartment 35-W, Jacksonville, Florida 32217.

In the past few years, there has been increasing interest in the problems faced by women who are blind. Federationists throughout the country are beginning to define and discuss these issues. If you would like to participate in this, call or write Marj Schneider, 1615 South Fourth Street, Apartment 2506, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454; phone 612-341-3114.

Diabetes Forecast, the bimonthly magazine of the American Diabetes Association, is available on recorded flexible disc as a part of Encore, a bimonthly recorded magazine composed of several publications dealing with blindness or physical disabilities. The entire contents of Diabetes Forecast is included in Encore except for advertisements and articles dealing with the structure and activities of the American Diabetes Association and its affiliates. Persons wishing to subscribe to Encore should contact their local library for the blind and physically handicapped.

The NFB of Northern Kentucky is sorry to announce the death of Annabelle Lord, who died suddenly on August 2nd. She was a booster member of the chapter and had been a hard and willing worker.

If you are interested in adopting a Korean child, you should contact Terri Bacall, Children's Home Society of Minnesota, 2230 Como Avenue, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108. Her work phone is 612-246-6393. Her home phone is 612-825-5932.

Hand-screened NFB club jackets are available from E. M. Taylor. If you are interested, contact Taylor Enterprises, 1 Colby Terrace Lane, Danbury, Connecticut 06810.  



The National Federation of the Blind has chapters in all fifty states and in almost every local community in the nation. The Federation has more than 50,000 members and is working to help the blind to have full and meaningful lives. It is not financed by the government but depends for support on contributions from its Members and its friends.

I support the National Federation of the Blind and herewith pay one dollar for Membership-at-large in the organization. As a Member-at-large I wish to make a tax-deductible contribution for the year _________ in the amount of:

□ Associate — $10
□ Contributing Associate — $25
□ Supporting Associate — $50
□ Sponsoring Associate — $100
□ Sustaining Associate — $500
□ Member of the President's Club — $1,000
□ Other

Name _______________________________________________

Address _______________________________________________

Telephone ____________________ Date _____________________

Local representative of the National Federation of the Blind:
This application and accompanying check made payable to National Federation of the Blind should be sent to:

Richard Edlund, Treasurer
National Federation of the Blind
Box 11185
Kansas City, Kansas 66111


Received of ____________________________________________
the amount of__________________ dollars.     Date____________
Signature of local representative of the National Federation of the Blind

(All contributions to the National Federation of the Blind are tax-deductible.)

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