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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 National Office for other suggested forms.














Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1979


The weekend of November 4-5 marked another step in the steady decline of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). The event was the annual membership and board meeting of NAC, held at the O'Hare Hilton at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. These board meetings have become annual occasions for the blind of the country to demonstrate to the public how we feel about this gang of shop managers and their hangers-on who hide their exploitation of blind persons under a blanket of "accreditation" and, with the suavity of Iago, talk about "quality services" and "consumer involvement."

The roles in the drama have been clear-cut for some years now; and there was little change this year. The NACsters tried a variety of subterfuges to exclude the blind from their meetings. Their spokesmen fell over themselves trying to explain to the press why the largest organization of the blind distrusts and despises the methods and philosophy of NAC. The blind were present in large numbers, as were the news media. All of this is familiar stuff. What was different was the notably increasing strength of the protest and the equally notable waning of NAC's will to resist. The NAC officers and staff seemed worn out and tired. They preached optimism; they claimed it was their best year yet. But all of it had the unconvincing cheeriness of the man who whistles as he passes a graveyard.

Monitor readers will remember (from the January 1978 issue) that at last year's NAC meeting, James Kesteloot of the NAC-accredited Chicago Lighthouse got up to pass along an invitation. He spoke as follows:

"I think everybody knows ACB's [the American Council of the Blind's] position in regard to NAC; it's a supporter and all of this. Yet I still see there also a lack of direct consumer involvement to stop the kind of harassment that NAC has had to contend with for the past four or five years. I have a hard time accepting the lack of this kind of involvement to stop the harassment."

Mr. Kesteloot went on to say that the ACB Illinois affiliate had invited NAC to hold its next meeting in Chicago. Mr. Kesteloot explained that the ACB affiliate had decided, as he said, to "hold its annual convention concurrently with the NAC meeting, so consumers would be in the same building at the same time, demonstrating their support for NAC."

These were strong words for an organization like the ACB, which generally follows whatever path will get it the most agency approval and the least amount of controversy. The words would have been stronger had they come from the ACB affiliate itself rather than an employee of the Lighthouse. Still, it sounded like the makings for an all-out battle. The Federation, of course, as always, was not only ready but eager. If threats from NACsters or their lackeys could frighten us away, we would have been gone long since.

When it came down to it, however, the ACB just didn't have the courage to show up. Maybe it was the general ACB tendency to avoid making waves. Maybe—as seems more likely—it was that the ACB support for NAC doesn't go much deeper than the national leaders of the organization. Whatever the reason, when we reached the street in front of the hotel with our leaflets and picket signs, we were alone. Not a single ACB member was in evidence. It turned out the ACB affiliate had changed the date of its convention to a date two weeks before the NAC meeting.

The Federation forces, on the other hand, turned out as never before. There were more than 400 of us that weekend. No matter what steps NAC takes to cripple us we come back in greater numbers and with greater determination to reform this misguided agency.

Our people arrived Friday night and gathered at a hotel about a mile from the O'Hare Hilton. On hand to coordinate the effort were Deputy President Ralph Sanders as well as board members Rami Rabby, Dick Edlund, E. U. Parker, Joyce Scanlan, Diane McGeorge, and Peggy Pinder. Late that night, when most people had arrived, there was a Federation planning session. After that a reconnaissance team drove over to the Hilton. This group rented a room as a field headquarters.

During the scouting trip, the first of NAC's evasive maneuvers came to light. Lying around the hotel were not one but two agendas for the meetings. There was the public agenda, listing the special show meetings put on for public observation. Then there was another agenda-this one listing the many secret meetings, at which—as usual—the real business of NAC would be carried on. The second agenda noted that a meeting of the NAC executive committee would be held the next morning at 9:00 a.m.

The next morning, some time before nine, about 30 Federationists were back at the Hilton, waiting patiently in front of the room where the executive committee was to meet. The door was locked, and despite repeated knocking, there was not a sound from within the room. Our people tried other rooms up and down the hall. All were locked and, apparently, empty.

At this point the hotel manager showed up, distressed to find a picket line inside his hotel. He tried to move us outside, claiming that the picket signs were a fire hazard. We agreed not to smoke on the line. Then the manager tried to throw us out since we were not guests in his hotel. We produced the room key and showed him otherwise. But while all of this was going on, suddenly the door on which we first knocked began to creep open and who should appear but Richard Bleecker, the executive director of NAC. Inside the room, sitting quietly as mice, were the other members of the NAC executive committee. They had been there all the time, apparently afraid even to answer our knocks.

We asked Mr. Bleecker to allow us to observe the meeting. He said no, that the public meeting was in the afternoon. E. U. Parker said that he was the official NFB observer and could he at least enter. No, said Dick Bleecker. The whole episode was a striking illustration of our traditional picket-line chant: "NAC Hides Behind Closed Doors."

Back at our hotel, there was a morning planning session, and then we spread out to picket and leaflet. We put a large group in front of the Hilton. We had others picketing O'Hare Airport itself and yet another group in the underground passage between the airport and the hotel. This widespread picketing was continued throughout the weekend, even after we had handed out every leaflet.

The NAC annual membership meeting was scheduled to begin at 1:30 Saturday afternoon. Before that, however, was scheduled a press conference. Purportedly it was being held by the Illinois Federation of the Blind (the ACB affiliate). A few of our people decided to attend; and a half dozen others positioned themselves outside the door with picket signs. The conference, as we expected, was dominated by officials of NAC, who were given no comfort by the questions asked by Federationists. (The press conference will reported more fully later in this issue.) Meanwhile, more of the press were outside talking to the picketers than were inside listening to NAC's double-talk. It was but one episode in a media battle that went badly against NAC.

This was the way the weekend went. We decided not to picket the NAC banquet Saturday night, but we were back in force for the board meeting Sunday morning. The meetings and the demonstration ended Sunday afternoon. Once more, NAC's efforts to escape the justified anger of the nation's blind had failed. Secret meetings, meetings changed at the last minute, meetings held in remote parts of the country, and now meetings planned so as to hide behind an ACB state convention—none of these tricks has worked. Each attempt has resulted in larger and better publicized demonstrations.

NAC tries to discredit the NFB by claiming we are welcome at all their important governing board meetings. They point to our presence at the charade membership and board meetings. But the confusion between the public meetings and the more substantive secret meetings is growing greater as time goes on. The confusion was demonstrated by the experience of a sighted woman attending the meetings. As the story was told to some of our members, this woman entered the Hilton lobby Sunday morning and asked where the board meeting was being held. The man at the desk asked which board meeting she meant. She replied in some surprise, "Is there more than one?" The hotel employee replied that there was the one upstairs and the one downstairs, but that the one upstairs was closed. Finally, it was straightened out that the woman wanted the NAC meeting and she was sent to the right room.

Once in the room, she began talking to Carl Augusto, the new assistant director of NAC; and she asked about the "other board meeting." Augusto acted bewildered and told her that the meeting she was in was the only one he knew about. She sat down and began listening to the meeting.

Suddenly Augusto was back at her side. He said he thought he knew what the confusion was. Another, unrelated group of the blind-the Affiliated Leadership League of and for the Blind of America—was meeting upstairs. The woman expressed surprise at the coincidence of two unrelated groups dealing with blindness meeting at the same hotel the same weekend. But Augusto assured her it was so and left her alone again.

Then he came back a third time. He wanted her to know, he said, that NAC and ALL had similar goals, but—and he stressed this—they did not have interlocking boards or anything like that. The poor woman didn't know what to think by then, but we were able to help her out. Robert McLean, the chairman of ALL, we told her, is on the NAC board. The treasurer of ALL, Joseph Larkin, is on the NAC board. The secretary of ALL, Elizabeth Lennon, is on the NAC board. Of the other ALL board members. Durward McDaniel, George Stocking, and Louis Rives are all on the NAC board and Rives is president of NAC. As someone said later, considering the degree of interlocking between the two boards, it's difficult to see how NAC and ALL could meet at the same time. It's a little hard to believe that Carl Augusto doesn't know this; and that he didn't even realize ALL was meeting that weekend.

It is worth taking a moment to consider Carl Augusto, NAC's new assistant director. He has been with NAC since 1975, working on what NAC calls "advancement of standards" (which, experience has taught us, means combatting the organized blind movement). He was elevated to assistant director last September, and this meeting was his first real emergence as a NAC spokesman. Carl Augusto is blind—this is an essential point to remember in understanding his role at NAC.

It is remarkable that NAC has taken so long to develop its own Uncle Tom—a blind man who will betray what his fellow blind people are striving for and who will attack them to the press and defend NAC and the practices of the agencies it accredits. Most NAC agencies have such a person, the most notable being Dennis Schreiber of the Chicago Lighthouse who created his own "consumer group" of Lighthouse staff members, so that he could speak as a consumer spokesman as well as a Lighthouse staff member. Another well-known example is Raymond Kempf. When the Minneapolis Society for the Blind was under attack for one of a string of illegal actions and the blind were demanding access to the Society board, the Society produced Kempf, put him on the board, and sent him out to meet the press. Shortly thereafter Mr. Kempf became a member of the NAC board.

A third and very striking example is Oral Miller, one of two blind board members of the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind in Washington, D.C. When, in 1977, the blind of the District, Virginia, and Maryland were picketing the Lighthouse in protest of its subminimum wages and other degrading work conditions, Miller was sent out to defend the agency to the television reporters. Oral Miller since then has been elected president of the ACB and, at this very NAC meeting, was elected to NAC's board.

Now there is Carl Augusto. Well turned out and articulate, Augusto seems to have no limit on the degree to which he will ignore facts and make up others to defend his employers. He takes his style from his boss, Dick Bleecker. Both adopt an over-weening condescension when answering members of the NFB, and both seem to lose their composure completely when faced with E. U. Parker. It was notable that, during the weekend, Dick Bleecker stayed largely in the background. Much of his time was spent standing silently in the hotel lobby staring silently at the pickets outside. To observers, he seemed to be lost in his own thoughts. It is not hard to imagine what those thoughts might be, as the NFB pickets marched back and forth with the patience of a people who have sought to reform NAC for a decade and have the determination to carry on until their point is carried; pickets, also, who grow in number year after year.

The Press Conference

The Saturday press conference was called by the Illinois Federation of the Blind, the ACB's state affiliate. The session began with statements from two members of the affiliate, Bob McCann and Ms. M. J. Smith. Mr. McCann introduced what was to be a major theme of the weekend—the crippling tragedy of blindness. It is by no means a new theme-it is the oldest around-but NACsters have resurrected it recently. They use it to imply that the NFB speaks only for blind persons who have extraordinary skills and no real understanding of the plight of the pathetic creatures NAC agencies must deal with. As

Mr. McCann stated:

"The Illinois Federation of the Blind, which has been active since 1934, feels that because of the serious handicap of blindness, we need services and good services that will assist the blind in becoming trained for jobs, help them through their education, and get them job placement, give assistance in employment, recreation, and social services. Because the National Accreditation Council sets up standards for these different agencies to improve their presentation of services, we support the National Accreditation Council."

Mr. McCann's theme—the serious handicap of blindness-was later taken up again and again. Ms. Smith contented herself with such platitudes as: "I just fail to understand how people could not feel that [NAC] is a growth and development process. It's the greatest thing that could have happened to services for the blind in the United States."

But when the probing questions began, the sham that this was an ACB press conference fell quickly away. Questions were fielded now by Otis Stephens, vice-president of ACB but speaking here as chairman of NAC's commission on accreditation, and Carl Augusto. Asked about the demonstration outside, Mr. Stephens replied, in part: "I think it's very unfortunate that this particular consumer group has chosen to voice its opposition to the concept of accreditation, because clearly it is a process which stands to widen their opportunities as well as the opportunities of other blind persons around the country." Needless to say, the NFB supports the "concept of accreditation"; indeed, it is because we do that we object to the travesty of accreditation practiced by NAC.

A question was raised about NAC's accreditation of agencies paying subminimum wages to blind workers. Jim Kesteloot of the Chicago Lighthouse was brought out to answer this, which he did by saying: "There are no agencies accredited by NAC that do not meet the regulations set forth by the United States Department of Labor under the Fair Labor Standards Act. And as part of accreditation, the accreditation team comes in and reviews the proper certification by the U.S. Department of Labor for each of the workshops which are going through the accreditation process."

Thus we begin once more to hear NAC's doubletalk about the minimum wage. There is a considerable difference between what is usually meant by "minimum wage" and what NAC means by it. To most people, the minimum wage is the hourly rate that must be paid to all nonhandicapped workers no matter what their level of productivity. But of course, the Fair Labor Standards Act contains a provision, passed in 1938, that allows blind workers to be paid as little as one-fourth the minimum wage if the shop can show that the worker is capable of only one-fourth normal production—whatever that may be. So that when NAC talks about the minimum wage, it means the special minimum wage for blind persons—or as little as 64 cents an hour at the time we are talking about (or 72 cents now that the minimum wage for everyone else has risen to $2.90 an hour).

The Fair Labor Standards Act was passed at a time when it was believed blind persons could not compete in regular jobs. Since then the provision has been protected by agencies like NAC and its accredited shops which benefit handsomely from it. When Mr. Kesteloot says that NAC "reviews the proper certification by the U.S. Department of Labor for each of the workshops which are going through the accreditation process," he apparently does not mean that NAC checks to see if that certification is correct and fair. An official of the Labor Department told us recently that of the shops investigated by the department, 80 percent of them had violations of the certification regulations. This was not news to us, since the case of Lawrence Kettner's treatment by the Minneapolis Society for the Blind is well known. It is also well known that the Labor Department cited the Minneapolis Society for its actions in the case, and that the NFB has brought the matter repeatedly to NAC's attention, but NAC has taken no action. All of this provides a revealing background for the further statements made at the conference. As Mr. Kesteloot continued:

"All of the workshops are in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. I would think that probably the best people to get more specific information on that would be the U.S. Department of Labor. However, most of the workshops are not private industry. They're regulated in a different way than private industry is regulated. They operate evaluation and job-training programs and frequently will deal with people whose ability to produce at competitive rates are impossible because of multiple handicaps involved. But again, all of the shops are certified and regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor."

Mr. Kesteloot later produced a real gem of circular logic. He said: "The workshop always pays a person what he earns under the law."

Then a question was asked about the cut-off of NAC's grant by the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Carl Augusto answered the question, in part, as follows:

"The Rehabilitation Services Administration funded our program for seven-and-a-half years, which was much longer than they initially planned to fund our organization, because they recognized how effective it had been in stimulating services for the blind. They terminated that funding back in 1975. In an official letter from the RSA, they commended us for a job well done and they indicated that since we had demonstrated that we are doing a good job and we have established ourselves as a viable organization, they'd no longer see the need to fund us in the initial innovation—demonstration and research grant."

Mr. Augusto is doing a little creative recollecting here. Perhaps the letter cutting off the grant was full of nice language. But when General Accounting Office investigators talked to the Project Grants Administration which awarded the grant, they were told the grant was being phased out early due to: "NAC's poor performance record; Low acceptance of NAC accreditation by blind agencies; [and] A low cost-benefit ratio."

Mr. Augusto was asked about the low acceptance of NAC by agencies in the field. He replied:

"The reason NAC was founded [was] because of the recognition by key blind people and leaders in the field that something needed to be done to stimulate improvements in services. And if we had all 365 or 400 agencies, or whatever it is, accredited in ten years after that kind of indictment against services for the blind, how valuable would be this accreditation system? I think about 18 or 19 percent right now of the estimated number of agencies that could apply for accreditation are accredited. And many of those organizations don't apply because they realize very readily that they can't qualify at this point because they can't meet the standards."

This last sentence recalls NAC's statement to the Des Moines Register implying that the NFB and the Iowa Commission for the Blind were hostile to NAC because the Commission knew it could never meet NAC standards. This is wishful thinking with a vengeance.

The questions then turned to NAC's "open meeting" policy. A television reporter asked: "When you talk about open participation, when the representatives of the largest organization for the blind in the country attempt to gain access to your meetings, we're told that you close your doors to them."

The dialogue then went as follows:

Otis Stephens: We have open meetings.

E. U. Parker: This morning—

Stephens: [cutting off E. U. Parker] We have open meetings. In fact, we're having one beginning at 1:30, to which the public is invited. And we hope that they will in fact participate.

Reporter: Okay, but obviously they're not referring to a public meeting. They're talking about a meeting where hard-nosed dollars-and-facts business is done.

Stephens: Our board meetings are also open, and these are where the policies of the organization are set.

Reporter: [referring to the locked-door executive committee meeting reported earlier] Why were the meetings that were just held closed to them?

Stephens: Which meetings are you referring to?

Reporter: One this morning, and apparently one yesterday.

Stephens: There was, as I understand, a committee meeting this morning. Is that right, Carl?

Carl Augusto: Yes, yes. You see our ultimate decision-making body is the membership and also the board of directors. There is no business-no official business-taking place outside of those meetings. Any time there is a committee meeting, we roll up our sleeves and talk about alternatives. The final action is taken by the board of directors. And we feel we're at the forefront of this openness because not all organizations-nonprofit organizations-even have their board meetings open. But we have them open to the public, and also we have our memberships open to the public. And we have actively welcomed and invited NFB to participate in our organization on an equal basis with the other national organizations of the blind. Instead—

Reporter: [breaking in] You don't think it would have been beneficial to have some of them in your committee meeting?

Augusto: We would love to, but they refused to become involved in our organization until we accede to their nonnegotiable demand.

Reporter: Such as?

Augusto: Now their nonnegotiable demand is that they select to our board ten members and that these ten members be accountable to the National Federation of the Blind and not to NAC. They also feel that the number of persons on our board from the other two national organizations of the blind should be reduced to two for the American Council of the Blind and one for the Blinded Veterans Association. Apparently we have about eight members of the ACB and three members of the BVA and what NFB is demanding as a condition for their participation is that the number of ACB members-American Council of the Blind members-be reduced to two, the number of BVA members be reduced to one, and that they select the ten board members.

Now this is not only unacceptable to our corporation, but it's contrary to the corporation laws of New York State under the fiduciary responsibilities of board members. Under those conditions, only the organization can choose its own board members. So National Federation of the Blind cannot choose board members for NAC. And secondly, the board members that are elected by the organization—such as the National Accreditation Council-can only be accountable to that organization and not from an outside organization. So what NFB essentially is saying is they will not become involved with you until you adopt this policy which is a violation of New York State law. So it's impossible for us to. We don't want to violate the law, and that's their nonnegotiable, conditional demand.

Mr. Augusto neglected to tell the reporter that the so-called "nonnegotiable demand" was in fact worked out in a meeting between NFB officers and an ad hoc committee of the NAC board of directors. Further, that when this compromise agreement was reached, a number of the members of the NAC group declared that they would resign if what they regarded as a reasonable compromise were not accepted by the full board. One of those who made this statement was Louis Rives. The NAC board rejected the agreement; and far from resigning, Mr. Rives is now president of NAC.

Mr. Augusto's talk about our "demand" that ten board members be accountable to the NFB is belied by NAC's own actions. It was never suggested, of course, that NAC change its bylaws to grant us a formal, legal right to place members on the NAC board or recall them at our whim. The arrangement was to be the one later adopted by NAC. As Louis Rives stated later during the meeting following the press conference, "[U]nder our bylaws, one third at least of the members elected in any election must be among those recommended by or who are members of an organization of blind persons." Under this policy, ACB suggests board members and (as far as can be told from what goes on at NAC's "public meetings") these suggestions are accepted without exception. As a result, NAC now has by our count nine ACB members on its board-just one short of the number in the NFB's so-called "nonnegotiable demand." Somehow this raises for NAC no questions about fiduciary responsibility or violating New York State law.

Why would NAC reject the compromise of its own ad hoc committee in relation to the NFB and then institute a mighty similar arrangement with the American Council of the Blind? NAC may be willing to allow one third of its board to be blind persons, but it was not about to allow those blind persons to be aggressive representatives of the interests of blind workers and rehabilitation clients. In NAC's "public meetings" at least, ACB has never asked a probing question about NAC's activities. Again and again, ACB has lent its name to defending the most oppressive agencies on NAC's list. ACB has worked with NAC to oppose minimum wages for blind workers; it has come out-with NAC-in opposition to our right to organize. Indeed, as the case of Oral Miller illustrates clearly, the ACB members on NAC's board are often there to represent the vested interests of agency management. In short, the proposed agreement worked out by the NFB and NAC's ad hoc committee would have resulted in the beginnings of real reform of NAC. This was what was unacceptable to NAC and its supporters, phony problems with state law notwithstanding.

The conference turned back to the matter of minimum wage with the following question from the audience and answer by Mr. Augusto. Note in this exchange the two uses of the term "minimum wage" and the reiteration of the notion that agencies avoiding NAC are doing so because they fear scrutiny. The question, put by a Federationist in the audience, was as follows: "Why are a number of the agencies which pay the minimum wage not accredited by NAC?"

Augusto replied: "I don't think that the fact that an agency provides its employees minimum wage is a sole criterion for achiev- accreditation. There're many, many more standards that an agency should be in substantial compliance with in order to achieve accreditation. Minimum wage is one of many standards that an agency must demonstrate that it's in compliance with. Why agencies don't apply for accreditation—there are certainly many reasons, one of which I alluded to earlier. Many of these agencies recognize readily that at this particular point in time they probably would not qualify easily for accreditation."

Do you suppose Mr. Augusto is talking about Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, the best publicized example of a shop that guarantees all workers the minimum wage? BISM was accredited by NAC in its pre-minimum-wage days and the accreditation did not prevent it from becoming a public scandal for mismanagement of funds. A new administration was brought in, and one of their first actions was to repudiate the NAC accreditation.

The discussion then turned to what action NAC takes against accredited agencies that are found to be violating the law. The initial question came from Sterling France, president of our New York affiliate, who raised the scandal of Industries for the Blind of New York State (reported in last month's Monitor). Industries for the Blind is the contracting agent for a group of New York workshops, the majority of which are accredited by NAC. Mr. France asked:

"If an individual audit of those agencies [contracting with Industries for the Blind] were done and it found that they were in fact in violation of laws and exploiting the blind in New York State, what would NAC's position be in that case?"

The dialogue then went as follows. (Note that when E. U. Parker began to ask embarrassing questions, Augusto responded by questioning his credentials. It was at this point that the NACsters and their ACB supporters lost their composure altogether, as will be readily seen in what follows.)

Augusto: If an agency demonstrated that it was no longer in substantial compliance with standards, then NAC can do one of two things. It would probably, I would think, Otis, put an agency on warning, give that agency an opportunity to respond to those charges. And if it continued to demonstrate that it was not in substantial compliance with standards, that agency's accreditation would be withdrawn.

E. U. Parker: In your history have you ever done that?

Otis Stephens: Yes, we have.

Parker: What did you do about the Mississippi agency, where you had seven major findings by an HEW audit including one saying that they had misspent one-and-a-half million dollars in two years?

Augusto: I'm not familiar with that particular situation. Is this a press person calling-speaking?

Parker: No, I beg your pardon—only the NFB newsletter of Mississippi.

Augusto: Oh, I see.

Voice from the room: I wonder if you shouldn't be aware of that which after all got national press coverage.

Augusto: I'm sure we are. I'm sure we are. You see, one of the problems here, and let me explain it to you. Our whole purpose for existence is to try to encourage agencies to improve its services. We are reaching out to non-accredited agencies across this country to encourage them to apply the standards, to use the standards to become better agencies and to seek accreditation. As is the case of voluntary accreditation systems throughout this country, they keep their relationship with accredited agencies in confidence. And the reason for this is they—we prefer not to disclose to the public an agency's self-study or on-site review at an early stage in the accrediting process of the existence of an accreditation agency, [sic] And this is to encourage agencies to undergo the process which is a rigorous one to seek accreditation in assurance that we're going to keep these—our relationship with these agencies in confidence. Certainly if an agency no longer remains in substantial compliance with standards, that agency's accreditation will be withdrawn, and that is made public.

Reporter: But you have an organization of 50,000 blind persons—

Augusto: [cutting him off] Alleged 50,000.

M. J. Smith: Allegedly.

Reporter: You have a large organization of blind persons saying that these agencies aren't doing the job they should—

Smith: [interrupting again] And there's another large organization of blind persons saying that it is.

Reporter: [trying to continue while Ms. Smith speaks] NAC is not doing the job it should— Excuse me, let me ask my question! They are extremely dissatisfied with your postures, philosophies, and policies. What are you doing to try and meet some kind of an agreement.

Augusto: Okay, let me put it this way. Let me ask—let me tell you what they have done

Reporter: [breaking in] Answer my question.

Augusto: —over the course of the last five years. We're welcoming them to make suggestions. They refuse to make suggestions. We have a complaint procedure. If any individual wishes to make a complaint concerning an accredited agency, we welcome that input. They have chosen never to use that complaints procedure.

Parker: [partly inaudible because Augusto continues speaking] Beg your pardon, sir. I have. I have [inaudible] with Mr. Bleecker.

Augusto: Not to my knowledge, sir; and I would know about things of that nature.

Well, as has been amply shown, there is apparently a good deal about NAC that is not in Mr. Augusto's knowledge. Mr. Augusto then launched into a lengthy discussion of NAC's trials at our hands, focusing in the midst of this on the General Accounting Office report mentioned earlier. He made one statement that shows just how selective his memory is. Augusto stated:

"This [GAO] study was conducted and the conclusions were that NAC was doing a commendable job and that the NFB allegations were lacking in substance. As a result, Congressman Brademas was so pleased with that GAO report, which is available to the public, incidentally, that he inserted into the Congressional Record an excerpt commending NAC on its programs."

The excerpt Mr. Augusto refers to, according to Congressman Brademas' office, was prepared by the NAC staff itself. And as Mr. Brademas himself wrote: "I am troubled to learn that my insertion of a report of NAC's programs has been construed as singling out for recognition of NAC's accreditation process. I intended my statement and the report of NAC's work to be included in the Congressional Record as information for those interested in standards for agencies that serve visually handicapped people."

Carl Augusto served his apprenticeship at NAC, according to the biography of him distributed by NAC, in "advancement of standards." This press conference shows fairly plainly what NAC means by the term. As outlined by Richard Bleecker at the 1977 NAC board meeting, "advancement of standards" was to include the following:

"Next, that additional funds be sought to enable the national committee (or commission) to go forward with an expanded public education program to tell the story of NAC and what it means to blind people, to the field, and the general public. . . . And that NAC let it be know that it would welcome the assistance of others in putting out to those outside NAC's constituency the various misstatements and violations of ethics and laws by the aggressors."

We have seen the result of this activity in the pages of the Des Moines Register. We know that it has been carried on much more broadly, according to the number of newspaper reporters in other cities who have come to us bewildered by the material sent them by NAC. This press conference was an opportunity to see "advancement of standards" firsthand. It is an enlightening experience.

The NAC Annual Membership Meeting

The press conference was broken off shortly after the point at which we stopped quoting Mr. Augusto, so that the afternoon NAC membership meeting could begin. That meeting had more to say about "advancement of standards." For one thing, the board amended NAC's bylaws to change the national committee for advancement of standards to a commission. Thus it is now coequal with NAC's two other commissions—the commission on accreditation and the commission on standards. Standards and accreditation are understandably major parts of an accreditation agency. This new commission, however, and the importance given to it, are surely unique to NAC. Another indication of the role "advancement of standards" plays in NAC was found in the annual report passed out at the meeting. According to the expense statement in the report, during fiscal 1978 NAC spent $82,427 on accreditation. It spent $82,260 on "advancement of standards"—or only $167 less than accreditation. Such a gross disproportion of priorities hardly needs comment.

(Another example of "advancement of standards" is discussed briefly in the article that follows this, concerning NAC and the Veterans Administration.)

At the membership meeting, the report of the commission on accreditation was delivered by Otis Stephens, chairman of that commission. He spoke, in part, as follows:

"Once again I am pleased to address NAC's membership and friends. This year it's a particular privilege to tell you about the commission's activities because 1978 was clearly a banner year. It has been one of the most active periods ever for NAC's accreditation function. We called upon more volunteers and conducted more on-site visits than in any other comparable period. The commission on accreditation considered an unprecedented number of applications. Twenty-four were received and acted upon for either accreditation or reaccreditation. I am pleased to welcome the following organizations which have achieved accreditation for the first time. They are the Department for Blind, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in Saint Augustine; the Foundation for Blind Children, Scottsdale, Arizona; Florida Association of Workers for the Blind ; the Georgia Factory for the Blind, in Bainbridge; the Georgia Academy for the Blind, in Macon; the Oklahoma Division of Visual Services, Oklahoma City; New York Institute for the Education of the Blind, Bronx; Alabama Adult Department of Blind and Deaf, in Talladega; and Industries for the Blind, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin-one of our hosts for these meetings this weekend.

"The agencies and schools that were re-accredited during 1978 include Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped, in Janesville—another host for our meetings; the Jewish Guild for the Blind, in New York City; Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, in Washington, D.C.; Sacramento Society for the Blind, California; Mississippi Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind, Jackson; the Department for the Visually Handicapped, Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind, in Tucson; Recording for the Blind, New York City ; Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, in Illinois—another host organization; the Evansville Association for the Blind, in Indiana; and South Dakota Division of Services to the Visually Impaired, in Pierre, South Dakota. As of the end of the last fiscal year, NAC's present membership reached a high of 75 agencies and schools. Effective August 1, there are now 74 accredited organizations, the accreditation of one having been withdrawn following a period of warning, due to changes in the agency's programs and administration which resulted in substantial departures from NAC standards."

You will note that, despite Carl Augusto's assurance that the names of agencies which lose their accreditation will be made public, when Mr. Stephens reached that point in his list, he suddenly stopped naming names. No other mention of this disaccredited agency occurred during NAC's public meetings.

What is all this NAC talk about having had a "banner year"? On the surface, there seems to be support for such a statement. The last decade has seen a dramatically waning of interest in NAC accreditation by agencies in the field. In 1970, the high point for NAC, 16 new agencies were accredited. Three years later, according to the GAO report, NAC confidently predicted it would have accredited 200 agencies by 1978. Of course, this was not to be. In fiscal 1975, NAC added four agencies; in 1976 it added five; and in 1977 only three. Now, in fiscal 1978, NAC has added nine new agencies—which seems to be a real turn-around.

Does this mean, as Huntington Harris stated during his report on the committee for the advancement of standards, that "organizations which in previous years have been reluctant to apply for accreditation due to fear of reprisals from those who oppose NAC have decided to stand up and be counted"? Even if Mr. Harris were correct, it would hardly be a tribute to the objectivity and professionalism of NAC. Another statement by Mr. Harris is closer to the mark. He said: "The development of the blind standards for special schools for the blind and for pre-school programs has also been a major contributing factor in stimulating organizations to pursue accreditation. Six of the thirteen agencies and schools that have applied for accreditation for the first time this past year used all or some of these proposed revisions for their self-studies and on-site reviews."

NAC seems to have accepted the fact that the majority of agencies in the field want nothing to do with NAC accreditation. Its support from the very beginning has come from agencies which share the American Foundation for the Blind's notion of what blind people should be and what the role of agencies should be in their lives. In other words, NAC agencies-in our view-are those which believe an agency should have virtually unrestricted control over the lives of its blind clients and that the blind should accept whatever they are offered—be it endless and degrading psychological evaluation or subminimum wages. In addition over the years, agencies that have come under fire for exploitative practices have joined NAC in order to have the approval of a supposedly objective professional group to hold up in their defense. But beyond this, the call for NAC's services has dried up almost completely.

NAC recognized this and set about to find new hunting grounds. The first major effort in this direction is the new initiative to accredit schools and pre-school programs. It was a smart tactic. After all, the children who attend schools for the blind are not in a position to do much when their schools start flirting with NAC. The same is even truer of blind children in pre-school programs. At last NAC has found a consumer population weak enough for its taste. If you subtract the schools and pre-school programs from NAC's "banner year" list, you find that the rate of new accreditations is right in line with the past. It is far from the new era that NAC pretends to see ahead.

Two things that occurred at the NAC board meeting on Sunday underline this. The first was a statement by Owen Pollard, chairman of NAC's long-range planning committee. He stated: "New applications for accreditation will continue to rise incrementally each year, and the number of accredited agencies will also witness increases over the five-year period. The committee realizes, however, that with 74 agencies and schools already accredited, we may need to review our thinking about the others. They include many smaller agencies that may have a very difficult time qualifying. And there might not be as many potentially accreditable agencies as we had thought there were previously."

This is quite a statement. For years NAC has been estimating what it calls its "universe" of agencies at about 400. And it confidently expected to have enlisted about 200 of them by last year. But since that has not happened and is likely never to happen, NAC has now decided maybe there never were 400 agencies; maybe there were only 74 all the time. We wonder if the next step is that NAC will claim it has accredited 100% of the field. Meanwhile, of course, it is moving on to schools and pre-school programs.

But this is not all. At the board meeting, a change in NAC's bylaws was considered and passed. (The exact wording of the change is not known, since it was not read aloud; the board was considering changes "as mailed" to the members.) But the effect of the change is clear. It is now possible for NAC to accredit not only agencies for the blind, but private profit-making corporations with some relation to blindness. One board member hopefully raised the possibility that technology firms might want the benefits of NAC accreditation. Why stop there? Why not extend the benefits of accreditation to vending stands? Or maybe NAC could accredit ACB affiliates-that, after all, is how the Affiliated Leadership League built up its roster.

None of these number games hides the truth, though. NAC accreditation is a drug on the market: The blind don't want it; very few agencies want it, and some of those who have sought it had no choice in the matter.

The Banquet

The NAC annual banquet, held Saturday night, was more interesting than usual. For one thing, the announced main speaker, Dr. Robert Winn, director of the Bureau for the Blind in HEW, didn't show up at all. There has been a restriction on travel funds in HEW, and Dr. Winn wisely decided that NAC was a good place to cut back. So his speech was made over the telephone. Dr. Winn is a man with a sense of humor. Political considerations dictate that a government bureaucrat move carefully in dealing with so vindictive an outfit as NAC, but Dr. Winn's opening remarks contain more than a note of sarcasm. Telephoning from his home outside Washington, D.C., he spoke, in part, as follows:

"You know, many years ago, during the Second World War, before we had jet planes and television hiring Presidents at that time. President Roosevelt had what he called his 'fireside chats.' And to those of you there, this is probably the first fireside chat. Now, in setting this precedent, I had some difficulty in that we have some three fireplaces. I began to think, you know, where is the most appropriate place? Certainly not the bedroom area. The family and living room area? Possibly. The only problem there is various noises such as appliances. So I decided that the large space in the family room where we have a nice arched fireplace—it's a massive-type fireplace with a large cavity on one side to store wood—would be the most appropriate room. And in addition, I'm sitting at a nice wet bar with a mirror behind it.

"But I guess really, in making my decision, it probably had to do with the telephone. My wife works at the telephone company-and by the way, I understand that we're going to get a reduction as a result of this advertisement. [Laughter from those listening in Chicago] We have three type telephones. In the bedroom area—the study area—we have the Celebrity. The only problem with the Celebrity-it's a very decorative phone, but it's awfully heavy to hold for 30 minutes. In the family and living area we have the Sculptura, which is like a round doughnut in which you lift off the top half. But unfortunately, it is rather difficult to hold in the hand because of its shape for 30 minutes. So really, I guess, one of the major decisions has to do with the telephone in this room where I am, with the fireplace, because for those who are familiar with the special AT&T phones, they have a Mickey Mouse phone; and that's what I'm sitting at at the bar. I think it's very appropriate in that I really feel personally that this is somewhat of a Mickey Mouse situation."

Dr. Winn hastened to explain that the cut-back on travel funds was the Mickey Mouse situation, but readers can put their own construction on his words.

Dr. Winn's speech was followed by one delivered by NAC president Louis Rives. The central part of his remarks harked back to the speech Mr. Rives gave at the 1977 NAC banquet—remarks notable for their uncontrolled rancor and bitterness against the NFB's philosophy of equality and independence for blind persons. The key portion of those 1977 remarks was as follows:

"I think one of the things to which we address ourselves as the conscience of the field is this deluding concept that has tried to be sold to so many blind persons. That concept is that blindness is a mere inconvenience. Not a serious handicap: it's just a little inconvenience. Coupled with the assertion and the philosophy that blind people don't need to learn to manage their blindness and to cope with the problems of blindness and to make the adjustments that are necessary—they don't need to change; it's up to the sighted public to change to meet the problems of the blindness. Now, I sincerely believe—and I've been blind as long as most of you—that any blind person who says that is either fooling himself, which is unfortunate, or what is more likely, trying to fool some other blind people in order to get them to follow a given philosophy. Because I believe that any thinking blind person who considers the matter objectively and reasonably knows that blindness is a severe disability because the whole world is predicated on seeing things."

Mr. Rives brought on himself a good deal of grief for these statements, particularly for his rousing conclusion-that the blind could achieve equality with the sighted only if the eyes of the sighted were plucked out. It was the grossest kind of distortion of our philosophy. The adjustments Mr. Rives considers necessary appear to be forfeiting our constitutional rights as citizens and our dignity as human beings.

But by this year, Mr. Rives was even more aggrieved. At a conference held in Arkansas, Federationist Harold Snider suggested that Mr. Rives' philosophy was inappropriate to his role as director of Arkansas' programs for the blind and called for his resignation. It was a suggestion heartily seconded by the blind of that state. So Mr. Rives came to Chicago eager to get his own back. He stated:

"We have what we think is a sound organizational structure. If there's a better one, we should change to meet that structure. The name is not important—the name NAC. What is important is what we stand for—the improvement of services, the assurance of quality services. It is the recognition, I think, of the fact that blindness is a severe handicap. Some few weeks ago, a representative of an organization who likes to harass me came to Little Rock to request my resignation on a variety of grounds all of which were incorrect except one. That gentleman's here tonight, and I want to reemphasize what I said in Phoenix a year ago. Because one of the basic reasons he felt that I should resign, lie down, and be trampled upon, is that I said that the only way you can make blind people and sighted people exactly alike is to pluck out the eyes of the sighted ones and to restore sight to the blind. I said that and I mean it and I say it again.

"Of course, we didn't go on and talk about the rest of what I said, but I want to say that just for the record, too. This difference in sight and no sight is the reason why we have to have specialized services. If there were no differences, we wouldn't need the specialized agencies. We wouldn't have needed all of the things that Dr. Winn spoke of tonight. Because if there are no problems arising from blindness, then you don't have to have anything special for blindness.

But I believe that blindness is a severe handicap, but that that severe handicap can be overcome. Sure, there are some people who can overcome it by themselves. There are a lot of people who think they've overcome it by themselves by impinging on the rights of others. What we try to do in professional services for blind people is to provide a quality of service that meets each of the needs for mobility, for communication, for understanding of the problems, for overcoming those problems so that there is no difference in the worth and the dignity and the ability and the accomplishment of people because they are blind or because they are sighted."

If Mr. Rives truly believed this last sentence, no one would be calling for his resignation. His distortion of the NFB philosophy, however, has increased in absurdity. We are now described as believing that blindness presents no problems whatever except maybe problems that can be dealt with by impinging on the rights of others. There is probably no point in commenting further on such gobbledygook. But running through and through Mr. Rives' remarks is the NAC-AFB belief that blindness is a tragedy, an insurmountable barrier to full lives and independence. This notion, and its enshrinement in agencies such as NAC and the AFB, is—let us say it once again-the real tragedy.

The Board Meeting

The NAC board meeting was held Sunday morning. As usual, the meeting was a formality. All of the real business of NAC is conducted in the secret executive committee meetings. This year's meeting had far less to observe than the one held in Phoenix. Perhaps it was because tape recorders were going and the NACsters could expect to read their words in the Monitor. Whatever the reason, the meeting was an empty one.

The board meeting put in perspective the statements by Otis Stephens and Carl Augusto at the previous day's press conference. Defending the practice of excluding observers from executive committee meetings, Augusto said: "There is no business-no official business—taking place outside of those [board] meetings. Any time there is a committee meeting, we roll up our sleeves and talk about alternatives. The final action is taken by the board of directors."

Contrast that statement with the agenda for the board meeting, which read in part: "Minutes of Executive Committee meetings of November 13, 1977 (as mailed January 10, 1978), March 9, 1978 (as mailed April 28, 1978), and July 25, 1978 (as mailed September 27, 1978)." When this part of the agenda was reached, there was no discussion This was the tenor of the whole day. Items were introduced and voted on "as mailed."

Beyond this, many decisions were simply referred by the board to the executive committee. One of the decisions was where and when the next board meeting would be held. William Coppage, reporting for the commission on advancement of standards, suggested the following: "We urge that the executive committee be flexible in arranging the time and location of NAC's annual membership meeting in order to meet with consumers, consumer groups."

The irony of this is that the 1978 meeting was arranged to coincide with an ACB state convention, and it had more to do with NAC's hope that ACB members would picket in its defense than with any desire for consumer input. But the ACB convention was switched and there were no counter-pickets. We wonder if NAC is now planning to desert its traditional fall meeting in order to meet in conjunction with the ACB national convention this July. That convention, after all, would be harder to switch at the last minute; and since it coincides in time with the NFB Convention, there would be the chance that Federationists would be otherwise occupied. This is speculation, but it is speculation informed by a decade's experience with NAC. Who knows? Perhaps the executive committee, at its next secret meeting, will decide to hold no board meetings in the future and carry on business entirely by mail.

The 1978 NAC meetings are now part of the record-a record as shabby as any in the history of blindness. NAC's attempts to hide from the blind failed once again. The members of the ACB preferred to avoid the confrontation-this is understandable. The Federation was present in greater numbers than ever before, and the NFB message was broadcast through the media to the Chicago area. Was 1978 a banner year for NAC? It was indeed. But we suggest that NAC take a look at those banners. They are carried by the blind of the nation, and they read: "NAC Hurts the Blind."  

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The so-called National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) has been up to its old tricks again, but more and more people are learning the score and refusing to be taken in. Several months ago, for instance, NAC made a move to invade the Veterans Administration. It wanted permission to accredit all of the VA blind rehabilitation centers in the country, and it also wanted to get a grant from the VA to (among other things) go around the nation and persuade the officials at the various VA centers that NAC accreditation would be a good thing. As the saying goes: "Nice work if you can get it." But NAC didn't get it.

Under date of August 18, 1978, Jim Gashel, NFB Washington representative, wrote to Ray Roberts, chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in the House of Representatives:

"Dear Representative Roberts: I would like to meet with you soon to discuss matters concerning the future direction of the Veterans Administration's blind rehabilitation programs. For quite some time the VA blind rehabilitation centers have been recognized for their leadership and excellence, but this status is now being threatened.

"The VA central office is studying the idea of using accreditation by the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) as the yardstick by which the quality of service to the blind will be measured. Blind people and most agencies serving the blind oppose NAC because it has reduced the quality of service and protected the poorest agencies. The idea that the VA should use NAC is not rooted in sound professional judgment-it is nothing short of a political power play by NAC's financial supporters and promoters.

"I am enclosing background information with the hope that you will help avert what could become a real tragedy for the VA blind centers. I would be glad to meet soon so that we can discuss the proper approach.


"James Gashel,
"Chief, Washington Office."

A summary of the background information we provided to Congressman Roberts reads in part as follows:


"The Veterans Administration would be mistaken if it were to rely on NAC approval to ensure that its VA blind rehabilitation centers are effective. These centers are already excellent, and the experience of the nation's blind with NAC indicates that such an arrangement would lower standards of service for the reasons listed below.

"(1) NAC's standards do not reflect generally accepted concepts of quality rehabilitation. They offer no assurances to blind clients that an accredited program will be helpful to them.

"(2) The great majority of agencies in the field have decided not to seek NAC accreditation. By NAC's own estimate of the field, only 67 agencies out of a possible total of 500 have been willing to be accredited after 10 years of efforts by NAC. Most of the 67 sought accreditation in NAC's early years, before NAC's reputation had sunk to its present state: and NAC's rate of growth has dwindled rapidly. In 1977, NAC's list grew by only three. A number of agencies have decided not to renew already granted accreditation. Most want nothing to do with NAC.

"(3) The nation's largest consumer organization of the blind, the National Federation of the Blind (with 10% of the blind population—four or five times larger than any other blind consumer group) regards NAC as a harmful influence in the field and believes its accreditation is achieved by sweetheart deals between agency administrators and NAC officials. Agencies seeking accreditation in recent years have done so because public exposure of their substandard programs has made them feel the need for a 'seal of approval.'

"(4) The only group of blind people to officially support NAC (the American Council of tile Blind) receives funds from the American Foundation for the Blind. The AFB founded NAC and provides 62% of NAC's funding. It is only because of the AFB's massive underwriting of NAC that it remains in existence at all.

"(5) NAC and the American Foundation for the Blind have made attacks on the personal reputations and livelihoods of persons who criticize NAC. When the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) withdrew support for NAC, NAC officials spurred a take-over attempt that was turned back by court order.

"(6) In 1975, the HEW Rehabilitation Services Administration stopped its grant funding of NAC, citing "NAC's poor performance: Low acceptance of NAC accreditation by blind agencies; A low cost-benefit ratio." All of these reasons may be cited far more strongly now, particularly as NAC has begun devoting a major part of its budget to attacking its critics, or to quote a NAC official, to 'dealing decisiviely with these hostile elements.'

"(7) Agencies accredited by NAC have, according to court decisions, Labor Department and Social Security Administration investigations, violated state and federal laws in ways that worked hardships on blind clients in order to benefit administrators. In several of these cases, the agencies had directors on the NAC or AFB boards. NAC took no action to suspend the agencies' accreditation. Indeed, a NAC official has publicly conceded that adherence to its standards is not a precondition to accreditation.

"(8) NAC has interfered in the internal affairs of agencies for the purpose of persuading them to seek accreditation. It has sought to coerce agencies reluctant to do so and conspired to punish those which resisted its pressures. Because there is little support for NAC in the field, and because it is having increasing difficulty gaining new agencies, NAC and the AFB now devote much of their efforts and funds to lobbying for laws and regulations requiring accreditation by NAC in order to receive state and federal funds.

"(9) The proposal that VA blind rehabilitation centers must be accredited by NAC is an example of the tactics mentioned in number 8. The proposal was generated by the American Foundation for the Blind and has been given consideration, we suspect, only because Loyal Apple, executive director of the AFB, formerly directed the VA rehabilitation center in Palo Alto.

"We believe the proposed requirement [that VA centers be accredited by NAC] would be a vast waste of tax money and would diminish the effectiveness of the centers."

This information was provided to other members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, and various discussions were held. Apparently the members of Congress and the VA thought about it and decided that NAC didn't have the knack. Under date of November 21, 1978, Congressman Roberts wrote to Jim Gashel:

"Dear MR. GASHEL: This is in further reference to your letter concerning accreditation of the Veterans Administration's blind rehabilitation program.

"I have recently received the enclosed letter from the Administrator of the Veterans' Affairs on this subject. You will note that he indicates in his response that the VA does not plan to contract for accreditation services at this time.

"I hope this will satisfactorily respond to your inquiry.


"Ray Roberts,

Congressman Roberts transmitted the following letter from Max Cleland, Administrator of the Veterans Administration:

"Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for your letter regarding Veterans Administration services to the blind.

"The Chief Medical Director and the Chief Benefits Director and members of their staffs have met with representatives of the Blinded Veterans Association and the American Foundation for the Blind to discuss the needs of blinded veterans and how the VA health care system can best serve them. Various options for accrediting blind services have been explored. As you may know, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals does not have special provisions or standards for blind services.

"The American Foundation for the Blind favors our contracting with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped. The National Federation of the Blind notified us of its opposition to such an arrangement. We do not anticipate contracting for accreditation services at this time.

"Please be assured that our only desire in this matter is to assure the high quality of our services to the blind. In no case would we take any action which was not in the best interests of the veterans we serve.

"Thank you for this opportunity to give you this information.


"Max Cleland,

This episode shows that it is still possible to secure justice by working within the system, that federal officials and members of Congress will listen to the views of consumers, and that there is a measure of sanity left in the world. For NAC and the Foundation this latest frustration in a long chain of failures must have sounded like the voice of doom. One is almost tempted to blend the lines of A. E. Housman and Samuel Hoffenstein and take liberties with both:

Along the street as NAC came by,
It lost its juicy federal pie.
As through the woods NA C took a stroll,
Consumers lopped its grant off whole.

There's never good, there's only ill
As NAC digests its bitter pill.
With each new sting on jaw or knee,
It feels again the NFB.  

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Federationists do not give up in their reach for independence, equality, and security. When they are thwarted or stumble, they pick themselves up and try again. Although many states fund college students through their rehabilitation agencies, some do better than others. College students can get some further aid through state and national NFB scholarships. College-bound students should contact their local chapters and state affiliate for more information.

The Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship, awarded by the National Federation of the Blind, is an annual grant of $1,200 presented each year at the NFB National Convention in July. Only students in certain fields of study are eligible because the donor of the scholarship wanted to encourage blind students to enter those fields. There are some other eligibility requirements, so read the instructions carefully. If you apply, be sure to provide all the required information and documents with your application.

The Charles Albert Kuchler Scholarship—This is a scholarship created by Mrs. Kuchler in honor of her husband, who was the first blind student graduated from Cornell University. Mr. Kuchler was also the father of Junerose Killian, a strong member of the NFB of Connecticut. The scholarship is a $500 grant awarded to a blind student enrolled in any field of study at Cornell. To obtain an application form for the Kuchler Scholarship, write to the Reverend Howard E. May, R.F.D. 2 - Clint Eldredge Road, West Willington, Connecticut 06279. The deadline for applications is June 1st.

Here then are the eligibility requirements and instructions for the Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship:


Nature of the scholarship-The Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship, administered by the National Federation of the Blind, is to be awarded each year to a legally blind university student studying for a professional degree as specified below. The scholarship was established by a bequest of Thomas E. Rickard in honor of his father, Howard Brown Rickard.

Who is eligible—Any legally blind university student in the professions of law, medicine, engineering, architecture, or the natural sciences, including undergraduates in these fields, is eligible to apply.

In order to be considered for the scholarship, you must: (a) be sponsored by the state affiliate where you are going to school or in the state where you make your home; and (b) attend the NFB Convention at which the scholarship is to be awarded.

How to apply—Application forms are available from Howard May, at the address given above, and from the NFB Washington Office. You must fill out the application completely and return it to the Reverend May by June 1, 1979.  

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Can you hike 10 or 15 miles? Can you ride your bike 25 or perhaps 40 miles? It's fun! Exercise is satisfying. And a hike-a-thon or bike-a-thon can accomplish two very important NFB goals in any community. (1) It can increase public awareness of our capabilities in a very visible and enjoyable fashion. Other groups and individuals can join you to go hiking or biking through the streets. (2) Each rider or hiker gets friends and neighbors to pledge to pay a dime, a quarter, a dollar per mile for hiking or biking. The money, of course, goes to the NFB treasury.

Why didn't we try it a long time ago? Well, some of us did; and we think the bigger and more widespread this event becomes, the better for all of us. Mississippi, Massachusetts, Iowa, and Texas are some of the states that have held either a hike-a-thon or a bike-a-thon. Dr. Jernigan has appointed a committee, chaired by Ramona Walhof, to develop new events of a similar type. The committee believes that the NFB can and should move toward one big event to be coordinated nationwide. The spring of 1980 will probably be the time for this.

In 1978 Massachusetts held a hike-a-thon and gave $350 of the money raised to the NFB. Iowa held a bike-a-thon and donated $2,000 to the national treasury. Other affiliates can, and plan to, do likewise.

It appears that the third weekend of May is a good time to hold a hike- or bike-a-thon in terms of weather. In addition, the third week of May is already designated National White Cane Fundraising Week—a time when we are working both on educating the public and on fundraising. At least 12 bike- or hike-a-thons will occur that weekend—some on Saturday and some on Sunday. A few more will occur in the fall of 1979. The committee can provide suggestions about how and when to get started—whom to contact, planning routes, etc.—and we can give lots of moral support. If you are interested, please contact Ramona Walhof as soon as possible. She or another member of the committee will be in touch with you very soon. Do not delay—lead time is very valuable in planning a hike- or bike-a-thon.

Hike-a-thons and bike-a-thons are very flexible and permit many variations. One chapter held a barbeque after its bike ride. Another chapter arranged with Pizza Huts to help sponsor its bike-a-thon. Chapter members challenged local disc jockeys to a pizza-eating contest following the ride. A third chapter held a hike-a-thon and arranged for the local civil defense unit to direct traffic and provide other support. Boy scouts and girl scouts, 4-H clubs, and other youth groups can be invited to participate. Their participation may be considered part of their service to the community. These groups may wish to compete with each other to see which can raise the most money. One NFB chapter plans to structure the event as a relay and charge a fee to each team that participates. They believe local businesses will compete. Ham radio groups and CB groups can be very helpful with communications during the hike or bike ride.

Monitor readers will want to know of one specific suggestion offered by Phil Oliver. He says that we all do a lot of walking during NAC demonstrations, and that is a kind of hike-a-thon. Demonstrators can get pledges for so much money for each hour spent marching. As Phil puts it: "When NAC meets, we make money." At least some good will come to the blind from those meetings.

The Hike-a-thon/Bike-a-thon Committee asks each NFB chapter to consider this matter carefully. Contact Ramona Walhof with comments, questions, or suggestions. Write to 4111 Fortieth Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50310, or telephone (515) 276-4430.  

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In early December, an article appeared in the Cleveland Press entitled "Blind Vendors Win Hearing on Grievances Here." It began as follows:

"Blind vendors whose $1 million federal suit against the Cleveland Society for the Blind was dismissed without a trial will get a hearing on their grievances after all. A federal appeals court has reversed Judge Robert P. Krupansky's 1975 decision dismissing the suit. The case was returned to Krupansky's court with instructions that the complaint be aired in administrative hearings, reviewed by arbitrators if necessary and, if still unresolved, taken to trial."

The decision referred to in the article is a major victory for the Federation, and it is one we have awaited for seven years. It reads as follows:

No. 76-1866


IRVIN FILLINGER, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
THE CLEVELAND SOCIETY FOR THE BLIND, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

On appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Decided and Filed November 28, 1978.

Before: CELEBREZZE, ENGEL, and MERRITT, Circuit Judges

MERRITT, Circuit Judge. Plaintiffs are blind persons who operate vending stands in Cleveland, Ohio, under the management of the Cleveland Society for the Blind. In 1971 the blind vendors filed suit against the Society, Cleo Dolan, its executive director, and the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission which supervises in Ohio a vending stand program established pursuant to federal law, the Randolph-Sheppard Act, Title 20, Chapter 6 A, United States Code (1976). Under the Act, the State Commission delegated to the Society authority to supervise and manage the blind vendor program in Cleveland.

The plaintiffs allege numerous abuses in the operation of the program. The gist of their suit is that for many years the Cleveland Society for the Blind, acting without the consent of the blind vendors, has collected a higher percentage of gross sales than is "reasonable" under the Act and has spent these funds for unauthorized purposes. Alleging that the Randolph-Sheppard Act gives them a private right of action against the defendants for the purposes of enforcing the Act, plaintiffs are essentially trying to recover from the state agency and the Society all money collected by the Society and used for purposes not authorized by the Act and not agreed to by the vendors.

The vendors also make two other claims. Alleging a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, plaintiffs state that various dress and conduct rules written and enforced by the Society are neither authorized by the Act nor constitutional. They also claim that the Society has received rebates from manufacturers on merchandise which the Society buys and supplies to the vendors and that the plaintiffs—rather than the Society-are entitled to these rebates. In addition to compensatory damages for the plaintiffs and "all other persons similarly situated," the complaint seeks a complete accounting by the defendants of all money collected from the plaintiffs, and declaratory and injunctive relief in regard to the Society's rules of conduct.

Holding that the Act does not directly or implicitly confer upon the plaintiffs a private right of action, the District Court dismissed plaintiffs' claims brought under the Act. The District Court dismissed plaintiffs' other claims for failure to state a claim. We reverse and remand for the reasons which follow.

After this suit was filed and while it was pending. Congress in 1974 amended the Randolph-Sheppard Act to provide that an aggrieved blind vendor may request a "full evidentiary hearing" before the state agency which supervises the program, 20 U.S.C. 107d-l(a), and, if still dissatisfied, "may file a complaint with the Secretary [of HEW] who shall convene a panel to arbitrate the dispute" in accordance with detailed standards outlined in the 1974 amendments. See 20 U.S.C. 107d-l, 107d-2. The 1974 amendments authorize the parties to obtain judicial review of the decision of the arbitrators under the Administrative Procedure Act, Title 5, Chapter 7, United States Code.

Congress' decision to provide administrative and arbitration remedies for aggrieved blind vendors clearly evidences a policy judgment that the federal courts should not be the tribunal of first resort for the resolution of such grievances. Rather congressional policy as reflected in the 1974 amendments is that blind vendors must exhaust their administrative and arbitration remedies before seeking review in the district courts.

Even though this suit was originally filed in district court prior to enactment of the 1974 amendments, we think that the provisions requiring exhaustion of administrative and arbitration remedies should apply. The general rule "is that an appellate court must apply the law in effect at the time it renders its decision." Thorpe v. Housing Authority, 393 U.S. 268, 281 (1968). "A change in the law between a nisi prius and an appellate decision requires the appellate court to apply the changed law." Ziffrin, Inc. v. United States, 318 U.S. 73, 78 (1943). For a closely analogous case, see Justice Holmes' opinion in Hallowell v. Commons, 239 U.S. 506 (1915).

In view of the substantial time period which elapsed from the time this case was originally filed in the district court until a decision was made by the district court dismissing the complaint for failure to state a cause of action, and in light of the intervening 1974 amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act, we believe that the fairest disposition of the case on appeal is to reverse the final order of the district court dismissing the complaint and remand the case to the district court with instructions to retain jurisdiction of the case and to stay all further proceedings until plaintiffs have had an opportunity to exhaust their administrative and arbitration remedies. After such remedies are exhausted, any party aggrieved by the administrator's decision may petition the district court under the Administrative Procedure Act for review. Accordingly, it is so ordered.

As the decision makes clear, we still have a long way to go before justice is gained for the 39 vendors who are plaintiffs in the suit. Ahead of us is the series of hearings and, probably, appeals which constitute what is called "exhausting the adminstrative and arbitration remedies." We can bank on the Cleveland Society's taking every action it can to delay this process even more. Indeed, the Society has already petitioned the court of appeals to reconsider its decision—a move that is probably futile since the decision was unanimous.

But we will have our day in court. If the administrative hearings are not decided in our favor, we are guaranteed the right to come back to the district court. After waiting seven years to come this far, who can doubt that we have the determination to see this case through to a successful conclusion.

Getting our day in court was what this appeals court decision was all about. As the decision noted, the lower court dismissed the suit for "failure to state a cause of action." This means the court believed that none of the grievances raised against the Society was sufficient to bring a lawsuit for damages. If that decision had stood, it would indicate just where we stand as blind people in this society, for the basis of the suit was a series of actions by the Cleveland Society that are as flagrant and degrading as any that have come to light in recent  years.

The article "The Blind Bite the Hand That Leads Them," reprinted from Cleveland Magazine in last month's Monitor, gave a good picture of the personalities involved and the harshly regressive atmosphere that exists at the Cleveland Society. The picture was of an agency bloated with charitable contributions and directed by an immensely arrogant and condescending staff. The Society is credited with having originated the vending stand program many years ago, but it has accomplished little since, and the vending program was left as its main reason for existence. The evidence compiled for the lawsuit tends to indicate, however, that the Society regarded the vendors not as independent businessmen but as milch cows to be drained at the whim of their supervisors.

The incidents that led to the lawsuit were reported fully in the Monitors for December 1972 and January, February, and June 1973. The Society action that turned out to be the straw that broke the vendors' backs was a demand that they contribute a percentage of their income to the local United Torch Service campaign, since the campaign then passed some of this money on to the Society. When the vendors objected, the Society sent out a memorandum listing the annual income of each vendor and noting: "Some of these incomes are more than that received by any of our administrative staff and they have devoted years to their education and experience at professional levels."

Cleo Dolan, the writer of the memorandum, seemed to assume that no one in the world would think it fair that a mere blind person should earn as much as a credentialed staff member. The memo contained statements that have gained fame for their contemptuous tone. Mr. Dolan stated:

"We are particularly appreciative of the information [that is, the complaints of the vendors] as it greatly aids us in arriving at some impressions that we believe warrant further evaluation by the board of trustees and the administrative staff related to several matters pertaining to the management of the food service division. We are concerned that we have undoubtedly not provided sufficient strong administrative guidelines and have attempted to involve those who are employed to a greater degree, which apparently has weakened our program. We are continually receiving negative attitudes in relation to 'action contemplated by the snack bar managers.' It is our belief that contrary to the apparent feeling of some of the snack bar managers, the food service division is part of the total agency's program, and the administration policies and related matters should be administered and stimulated in the best interest of the blind and visually handicapped as it relates to the total community, rather than for a few selected individuals who have been fortunate enough to benefit from this service."

In other words, says Mr. Dolan, you vendors don't know your place and are getting greedy. He concluded as follows:

"Again, I personally doubt that you failed to get the message that we were attempting to communicate, and I think your interpretation was correct. Namely, we do feel strongly about the support of the United Torch Services and we doubt that further elaboration on the reasons should be necessary to this particular group."

This incident may seem less than earth-shaking. After all, Mr. Dolan was simply insisting that independent businessmen contribute ½% of their gross profits, or roughly 2½ % of their take-home pay, to a charity that helped pay Mr. Dolan's salary. We will put to one side that this sort of demand could probably not have occurred outside the closed-in world of a custodial agency for the blind. But the occurrence was part of a pattern of exploitation of the vendors. It was, as we say, exploitation beyond anything we have heard of in the vending stand programs across the country.

The Cleveland Society was the nominee agency for a number of Randolph-Sheppard vending facilities in the Cleveland area. As such, it was limited in the amount of money it could draw off from the stands in order to cover administrative costs. The federal law at that time restricted such draw-offs, or "set-asides," to a "reasonable" amount and also restricted the purposes to which these set-asides could be devoted. The Society was limited by law to a three percent set-aside. Yet it charged another five percent, claiming that this was not a set-aside but a "service charge"—although there was no difference in the two charges. The Society, in short, was withholding eight percent of the vendors' gross profits. It is important to distinguish between gross and net profits. It is usual for a vendor to take home roughly 20 percent of gross profits as actual income—the rest goes for business expenses. If the Society withheld eight percent of the gross profits, therefore, it was in fact withholding nearly 40 percent of the vendor's take-home pay. This was one of the major complaints in the lawsuit, but it was just the beginning.

The vendors were required, as a condition of continued employment, to sign a contract that gave the Society the power to control their business and personal lives down to the last detail. This contract has also gained fame—or we should say infamy—in the blind community. The contract stated that a vendor could be dismissed for "instigating unfavorable public relations between the grantors and the administrative staff of the food service division." This was vague and discretionary enough in itself to give the Society the right to fire anyone it pleased. But another cause for dismissal was: "repeated violations of the operators agreement, and the rules and regulations contained in this manual."

What were the terms of the "operators agreement"? Parts of it (omitting the section numbers) read as follows:

"Together with these procedures, the snack bar manager should:

"Be courteous and well mannered at all times.

"Limit conversation with each customer and avoid topics of a debatable nature.

"Discourage customer loitering at the location, particularly if the bulk of the patronage is derived from employee population, and the grantor of the space is their employer.

"Conduct all business on a cash basis.

"Do not extend credit to customers.

"Do not take money from the cash drawer for the purpose of loaning same to a customer.

"Snack bar management or subordinate personnel may not borrow money from the cash drawer for personal use."

The agreement then went on to read:

"Physical fitness and personal hygiene are inseparable. The following serves as a guide to all managers and subordinate snack bar personnel.

"Have an annual physical checkup.

"Obtain dental care at least semi-annually.

"Assure yourself of a balanced diet.

"Obtain adequate rest commensurate with the hours to be worked at a snack bar.

"When ill remain at home for treatment.

"Bathe daily.

"Shampoo frequently.

"Clean hands and fingernails regularly.

"Use appropriate deodorants.

"Wear clean underclothing and uniforms.

"Wear comfortable shoes.

"Males must shave daily and are expected [to visit] barbershops routinely.

"Female employees must wear hairnets by law in the food industry."

The final requirement is the only one in this list that is proper. As President Jernigan said about this agreement: "I think that I ought to take a bath when I need one and that I ought to take care of myself generally, but I don't want anybody telling me as a condition of employment how much rest I ought to get, what kind of food I ought to eat, what kind of deodorant I ought to use, and how often I must change my underwear." And as the lawsuit stated:

"Plaintiffs say that these rules and regulations are unconstitutionally vague, and violate their right to due process of law, and further violate their right to equal protection of the laws by unlawfully discriminating against them solely by virtue of their handicap of blindness."

The discriminatory basis for the rules became obvious when attorney Steve Sindell questioned Cleo Dolan about the equally restrictive dress code in the agreement. Mr. Dolan replied: "Looking neat and clean is very important, much more so for a blind person and non-sighted person because they are held up to and expected to carry—the public for some reason expects more of them because they are isolated as individuals."

But still, this was just the tip of the iceberg. The vendors arranged for an independent audit of the Society's books. The auditor was a David Fredman. Here are some portions of the deposition taken by Steve Sindell:

Mr. Sindell: In connection with the investigation you made of the depreciation of fixed assets, did anything unusual occur to you in connection with your investigation?

Mr. Fredman: Yes, it did.

Sindell: Would you explain what that was?

Fredman: We were advised that sometime near the end of 1973 they had taken a physical inventory of their assets.

Sindell: They being whom?

Fredman: The Society, staff of the Cleveland Society for the Blind, and that based upon that inventory they set up the plant ledger which was here the other day, that book.

Sindell: Is this the ledger where they have each one specifically identified?

Fredman: Where they have a sheet for each asset.

Sindell: Which they never had before?

Fredman: They just set that up at the end of l973.

Sindell: Was that after the lawsuit was filed?

Fredman: I am not certain when the lawsuit was filed, but it was in late 1973.

Sindell: Was the lawsuit pending at that time?

Fredman: Yes, I believe so. Yes, it was.

Sindell: Go ahead.

Fredman: So they had set this up in late 1973. I have a copy of all of the items that constitute that plant ledger. We discovered that they made certain entries which I refer to in my report. . . .

Sindell: Go ahead. You were referring to the records.

Fredman: This was of an unusual nature. We found three asset ledger sheets which indicated, as an example, in I-A, machinery and equipment—nonexistent.

Sindell: What does that mean?

Fredman: It would mean to me that the asset did not exist. And then in the description column it says, "Forced." It would appear to me-and this is also what was borne out in our discussion with Mr. Haynes when they took the inventory of the assets and set up this ledger-the assets in their general ledger which I refer to were greater than the total of the assets that they were able to find when they made this, when they took this inventory. So in order to get the records in balance, they set these sheets up and marked them as forced, obviously meaning that they intended, that is how they intended to get their subsidiary records to agree with what they were carrying in their general ledger.

Sindell: Is there any particular amounts that we are referring to, or you are referring to, when you speak about that?

Fredman: Those specific sheets marked nonexistent forced, which totalled $245,441.76…

Sindell: What relationship did these amounts have—nonexistent assets that were written off the books-bear to the assets that were carried on the books at the time and appeared on the general ledger, not including purchases in 1973?

Fredman: At the end of 1972 there appears to be $482,982 in assets on the ledger. . . .

Sindell: Over half of the assets they were carrying in their general ledger were found to be nonexistent when they made a specific inquiry, is that your testimony?

Fredman: That's correct.

[The subject then turned to depreciation of assets, as follows:]

Sindell: Mr. Fredman, were the operators charged for the depreciation of these non-existent assets?

Fredman: Yes.

Sindell: In what amount were they charged, can you determine that?

Fredman: It would appear that they were charged $177,778.58 in depreciation on these assets. . .

Sindell: Now, Mr. Fredman, were you able to make a determination as to how long any of the assets were actually kept prior to disposition?

Fredman: No.

Sindell: Why not?

Fredman: Since the plant ledger was not in existence until late 1973 we could find no record of disposal of any assets and in fact this was borne out by other examination also of the working papers of Peat, Marwick & Mitchell.

Sindell: To what are you having reference specifically in that regard?

Fredman: I have reference to one specific note in the working papers. . . .

Sindell: Why don't you describe what a working paper is so that the jury will understand that?

Fredman: A working paper are the papers which the accountant accumulates in the examination of the records of the client. These are his property and it is a record of how he develops the figures that he submits on his report.

Sindell: Is Plaintiffs' Exhibit 62 a copy of the actual working papers of Peat, Marwick & Mitchell?

Fredman: It relates to this specific subject, yes.

Sindell: Go ahead.

Fredman: The note says, "Client does not maintain a fixed asset sub-ledger for food service fixed assets. Per J. Haynes, it was learned that sometime in 1972 client plans to prepare this sub-ledger. At the present client takes 20 percent of the net book value of its assets, 25 percent for autos, for depreciation during the year (1/2 year's depreciation in year of addition). Client indicated that to the best of their knowledge no fixed assets have been removed from the books when they are sold. An example of this is shown above. The $400 was received as a trade-in allowance for a 1967 truck being traded in on a 1971 truck. The $400 was merely credited to the asset account (reduce basis of new truck). However, since client maintained no fixed asset sub-ledger and could not locate the invoice for the purchase of the 1967 truck, Peat, Marwick & Mitchell was unable to determine what the net book value of the old truck was at the time of trade-in and thus if the total $400 should reduce the basis of the new truck or only a portion of it. It would appear that from the client's method of calculating depreciation the old truck was not yet fully depreciated. Neither the cost of this old truck nor the accumulated depreciation were removed from the books. Since client is planning to correct this situation in 1972, Peat, Marwick & Mitchell did not consider additional work necessary." That is what he said.

[After some discussion of the technical language used in the working paper, Mr. Fredman was asked what it all meant, as follows:]

Sindell: Now, would that be tantamount in effect to charging depreciation on an asset that did not exist as part of the Society?

Fredman: That could be a possibility, yes.

Mr. Wallace [attorney for the Society]: Objection as to what could be a possibility.

Sindell: If it had been disposed of and depreciation was continued to be charged on it, would that be tantamount to charging on an asset that was no longer in existence?

Fredman: Yes, it would.

[Further on, Mr. Fredman was asked about the Society's method of depreciation, as follows:]

Sindell: Mr. Fredman, in your experience as an accountant. Certified Public Accountant, do you have an opinion or view regarding the length of time that was used for depreciation of the type of assets that we have been referring to here?

Fredman: Yes.

Sindell: What is your view?

Fredman: It seems to me that a five-year life is rather a short period of time to depreciate such assets. . . .

Sindell: When you say such assets, do you have reference to any particular types of assets?

Fredman: Food service assets, office furniture and fixtures. I feel that five years is a rather conservative life to use. This would create a larger depreciation charge, a shorter life. However, if a company has an experience that five years is all that an asset is going to last because of the conditions relating to that specific industry or company, then of course they would have a right to use a short life. However, in the absence of a record of disposal of assets I wonder how they were able to calculate a five-year life on those assets.

[The questioning then turned to equipment purchased for the commissary of the Society, as follows:]

Sindell: Do you have any notation which you can convey to us at this time concerning the amount of those purchases?

Fredman: It appears that for the commissary $64,885.98 worth of assets were purchased. For the lunch room $15,702.53, and office furniture and fixtures $6,635.87.

Sindell: Now, what, if you know, was the source of the funds that was used to purchase these assets that you have just identified?

Fredman: Incidentally, there were about $10,000 worth of trucks purchased in that period, too.

Sindell: Was that in addition to what you have already indicated?

Fredman: Yes.

Sindell: What was the source of the funds that were used to purchase these particular assets?

Fredman: Some of the funds came from what was in the food service division, but a substantial portion of the assets—80 percent of that-came from the federal government based upon what they were able to determine. We traced certain specific purchases of assets to project reports which indicated on those reports, which indicated that 80 percent of those funds were from some sort of a federal grant.

Sindell: Are they talking about $50,000, $60,000 roughly?

Fredman: About $77,000.

Sindell: Now, Mr. Fredman, were the operators charged depreciation in the year 1973 on these assets 80 percent paid for with federal funds?

Fredman: It would appear that they were, based upon a journal entry here.

[To provide a context for this testimony, John Taylor, at that time assistant director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind and now its director, was called as a witness. Here are excerpts from his testimony:]

Sindell: Do you have any reason to believe, Mr. Taylor, based upon your review of the matters involved in this case, that there is any impropriety with respect to the eight percent service charge that we have just referred to?

Taylor: Yes.

Sindell: Would you please explain what you mean when you say there is such an impropriety?

Taylor: The charges exceed that which is approved by the State of Ohio by administration of the Randolph-Sheppard Act on federal and local property and by collection of the food service unit of rebates that are related to the purchases of individual locations. These are funds that properly belong to the individual locations and are related to the cost of goods they purchase.

[A question was asked about the operators agreement quoted earlier.]

Taylor: The imposition or the expectation that blind persons must be superior in a variety of characteristics to what they would be if they were sighted in order to have a job imposes an unreasonable requirement upon them, and it is a requirement that is not necessary for the conduct of the program, for efficient program management and growth and success.

[Then Mr. Taylor was asked about the Society's practice of charging the operators depreciation on equipment they had been charged for in the first place.]

Taylor: I was shocked when I read that.

Sindell: Why were you shocked when you read that?

Taylor: It is an occurrence that is so at variance with practices carried on in the program that it is hard to conceive of. It must indicate a rather careless system of record-keeping, but more specifically I found no authority in the law or regulations for charging off depreciation against funds collected as set aside to cover equipment already purchased from such funds. It appears to me to be a double charging.

Sindell: Mr. Taylor, I want you to assume that in the year 1973, $73,000 worth of new equipment was purchased by the Society for the commissary and the cafeteria, 80 percent of which was federally funded through a federal grant, and I want you to assume further that the journal entries of the Society indicated that depreciation was charged against the operators to the extent of in excess of $30,000 on that federally funded equipment—to the extent of 80 percent federally funded. To your knowledge, Mr. Taylor, is there anything whatsoever in your experience or in any of the laws, rules, regulations, or practices that you understand which would justify such a course of conduct by the Cleveland Society for the Blind?

Taylor: No, sir.

Sindell: Would you explain the reason for your answer to that question?

Taylor: Well, since the federal government furnished 80 percent of the funding to buy the equipment, and since presumably the remaining 20 percent was furnished by the snack bar operators in the program to match that money, the charging of 100 percent of depreciation against the operators is a most unusual occurrence and can only be regarded, I think, as an excessive charge not authorized by the Act.

There is a good deal more of this testimony—we have included only the more easily understandable instances of financial irregularity. Perhaps it is all a matter of interpretation, or perhaps the bookkeepers for the Society were merely naive and confused. But the fact remains that all of these instances had one result—they reduced the income of the blind vendors for whom the program was supposedly being operated. Indeed, when it was all added up, we estimated that $1 million had been illegally taken from the pockets of the blind and put into the seemingly bottomless pockets of the Cleveland Society for the Blind.

There are a number of conclusions to be drawn from the evidence of the practices of the Cleveland Society. One of the easiest to draw is that here again is an answer to question, Why the National Federation of the Blind? It was the Federation that provided the impetus for the snack bar operators to seek redress of their grievances. We have paid the legal expenses of the suit—expenses that have gone on now for six years and are certain to continue into the future.

Originally the lower court ruled that we had no basis to sue—despite the wealth and the strength of the evidence. As the decision of the appeals court made clear, the reversal of that position was based largely on the passage in 1974 of the amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act. The Federation was instrumental in making arbitration procedures part of those amendments—which indicates once again how our activity on one front strengthens our position on another front.

It has been a long road and a hard one. But how could we do otherwise than take on this battle and stay with it to the end? The abuses by the Cleveland Society were stark; they speak to an attitude toward the rights of the blind that is so regressive and demeaning that it is an affront to blind persons everywhere. It speaks to a system that has existed for decades and that felt itself above challenge. This system survives in agencies in every part of the country—although fortunately the instances are growing fewer and fewer as time goes on. The testimony of Mr. Fredman in particular makes it plain that the Cleveland Society never expected to be called to account on its mismanagement of the vending program. It never expected that the snack bar managers would get a chance to inspect the workings of a program which flourished, it seems, mainly at their expense—an expense, we believe, amounting literally to more than a million dollars.

This case also makes plain the answer to the question. Why the National Accreditation Council? The Cleveland Society for the Blind is one of the mainstays of the AFB-NAC combine. Cleo Dolan was in Chicago for the NAC annual meeting. He serves on NAC's program support committee. In past years he has been a board member of the American Foundation for the Blind.

The Cleveland Society is accredited by NAC. NAC believes that the Society upholds the very highest standards. It must believe this, since—as with the Minneapolis Society, the Chicago Lighthouse, Clovernook Home for the Blind (whose president was just added to the NAC board), and many others—we have brought the matter of the Cleveland Society to NAC again and again. We do it again now. But who will believe that NAC will take any action to make the Society reform its operation? If there were no other reason, the case of the Cleveland Society for the Blind is reason enough for us to rededicate ourselves to the reform of the National Accreditation Council and the degraded system it protects.  

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Note: Ramona Walhof is a member of the Des Moines Chapter of the NFB of Iowa.  



7 cups whole wheat flour (preferably stone-ground fine flour)
3 cups rye flour
3 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup powdered milk
1 tablespoon salt

Begin with a large mixing bowl. Measure into it 3 cups whole wheat flour and 3 cups rye flour. Add 3 cups of quite warm water and mix it into the flour to warm it. Then add 1 cup sourdough starter. (You can get it from a friend and keep it going, or you can start your own.) Mix the starter into the flour and water and cover the bowl tightly.

Keep this mixture warm and let it develop for 18 to 24 hours. At the end of this time it should be well-mixed, soft and sticky, and you can hear its activity. It should be kept above room temperature, but not above 110 degrees. Temperatures above 120 degrees will kill wild yeast. You can keep a bowl of boiling water along with the starter in the oven to keep a good temperature.  

At the end of 18 or 24 hours, add 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup honey, 2/3 cup powdered milk, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 cups whole wheat flour. Mix this together, then turn it out on a hard surface to knead. You will probably need to add another 2 cups of flour as you knead.  

When the dough has been kneaded, wash your large bowl and measure 2 tablespoons of oil into it. Place the kneaded dough in the bowl, turning it to be sure |that all sides are covered with oil. Cover it tightly and let it rise. Keep it warm as you did before. It will more than double in size and will probably fill a large tupperware mixing bowl. It will take from 2 to 5 hours.  

When the dough is ready, grease 2 large or 4 small loaf pans. Divide dough among the pans and form into loaves. Let rise in the pans until double in size (from 1 to 4 hours) and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes if using small pans, 30 to 35 minutes if large pans. The bread will sound hollow when tapped and pull away from the sides of the pans when it is done. Remove from pans and butter all sides of loaves.

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Braille calendars for 1979 are available free of charge from the American Brotherhood for the Blind. Anyone interested in receiving one or more of these should write to: Mrs. Jean Dyon Norris, Program Director, American Brotherhood for the Blind, 18440 Oxnard Street, Tarzana, California 91356.

On Saturday, November 11, 1978, the following were elected officers or directors of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut: Howard E. May, Jr., of West Willington, president; Peggy Pinder, of New Haven, first vice-president; Ruth Gordon, of Willington, second vice-president; Mary Brinoli, of Hartford, secretary; Arthur Johnson, of East Granby, treasurer; and as directors, Mrs. Shirley Lee, of Bridgeport, and Jackie Billey, of Manchester. Directors Mary Main, of Stamford, and Betty Pacelli, of Danbury remain on the board.

In November, the Henderson (Kentucky) County Council of the Blind held its election of officers, with the following results: Orville Phillips, president; Lloyd Agnew, vice-president; Geraldine King, recording secretary; Marie Scott, corresponding secretary; Joretta Agnew, treasurer; Mary Meuth, publicity chairman; and George Raber and Ewing Graham, board members at large.

Any legally blind couple who are unable to read conventional printed material and who, despite this, have been successful in selling Amway products or who have been successful in sponsoring others in the selling of Amway products are asked to contact Willis Gene and Mary Ann Saunders, 1509 Kanawha Street, Point Pleasant, West Virginia 25550, in Braille, open-reel or cassette tape. The Saunders are just starting in the business and would appreciate any help they can get.

The 1979-80 U.S. Blind Correspondence Chess Championship will begin in March 1979. If you are interested in competing, contact Gintautas Burba, 30 Snell Street, Brockton, Massachusetts 02401. Write in Braille.

The National Space Institute, a nonprofit educational organization concerned with informing the public about the current and potential constributions of space technology, is now making its monthly publication available to blind persons. Called Insight, it is a 16-page mini-magazine that includes commentaries and articles by prominent people on significant happenings in the space program. The magazine is recorded on one cassette and can be obtained by writing to: Recorded Publications, Mrs. Pat Boone, Program Director, 919 Walnut Street, 8th Floor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107. The annual subscription fee is twelve dollars. This fee entitles you only to the magazine, not to the other items that come with full membership in NSI. The main NSI address is: 1911 North Fort Myer Drive, Suite 408, Arlington, Virginia 22209.

Media Projects for the Blind is considering the publication of a Braille magazine exclusively devoted to poetry and therefore wishes to ascertain whether there is sufficient interest to warrant such a project. In order to do this, MPB is putting together a representative issue which readers may sample. The magazine will include a wide spectrum of current poetic literature and will seek to encourage blind poets to contribute their work. The sample issue is offered at cost. Those interested should send $1.50 to: Media Projects for the Blind, 80 North Moore Street, Apartment 4-K, New York, New York 10013. To speed your request, attach a Braille or typewritten note.

The A.R.E. library is a free service providing books and lectures on psychic phenomena and the occult in Braille and on open-reel and cassette tapes. Four weeks' reading time is allowed. For large-print catalogues of the books available, write to A.R.E. Braille Library, P.O. Box 595, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451.

The Seeing Eye, one of the best known dog guide schools in the country, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The following brief history is from the school's newsletter. The Seeing Eye Guide: "Although the school plans to celebrate its golden anniversary throughout 1979, its official birthday is January 29. It was on that day that the school was incorporated in Nashville, Tennessee, home of Morris S. Frank, Seeing Eye pioneer. Two dogs, brought over by Mrs. Dorothy Harrison Eustis (founder of the school) from her breeding station in Switzerland, were already being trained in Nashville and shortly thereafter the first class of two persons was being taught by Elliot H. (Jack) Humphrey (the first head instructor). The climate of Nashville proved unsuitable to dog guide training, however, and by 1931 the school was established on the Whippany Road near Morristown, New Jersey."

Later this year, a commemorative stamp will be issued by the U.S. Postal Service and a history of the school entitled Love in the Lead by Peter Brock Putnam, Seeing Eye graduate, will be published by E. P. Dutton and Company.

A one-year contract has been signed with Market Facts, a Washington, D.C., firm, to perform a nationwide survey of users of the Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). The purpose of the survey is to gather opinions about library service, information on reading interests, materials read, equipment used and preferred, and use of cooperating libraries. The resulting information will be used for future program planning at the national level.

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