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BOX 11185

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

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto National Federation of the Blind, a District of Columbia nonprofit 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.









by James Gashel

by James Omvig

by James Omvig



by James Omvig


by Ramona Walhof

by Jonathan Kwitny and Jerry Landauer

STATE CONVENTIONS (Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania)

by Howard May

by Anna Katherine Jernigan


Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1980


Association of Flight Attendants
September 11, 1979

Dear Dr. Jernigan,

The National Air Safety Committee of the Association of Flight Attendants, is charged with the responsibilities of research, evaluation, and recommendation of various in-cabin safety problems inherent in the flight attendants' daily work.

One specific project our Committee considered investigating was the possible availability of braille safety information cards on board commercial aircraft.

A member of our Committee, Ms. Lucinda Soha, contacted the Blind Industries in Seattle and was advised that braille safety information cards would be costly as well as probably unnecessary due to the fact that most blind people do not read braille.

A similar opinion is expressed by Mr. James Gashel, Chief, National Federation of the Blind, Washington office, in a letter to Ms. Lynda Fleming, then Piedmont Airlines Central Safety Chairperson, AFA. He states, "The braille edition (Frontier Airlines example) says nothing that is not announced over the loud speaker. If it is abbreviated over the print card, my question would be why?"

As you probably know, flight attendants are required by the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) to brief, individually, blind or handicapped passengers; however, particular policies vary between airlines.

The National Air Safety Committee would like to know if, in your opinion, the idea of a braille card has any merit, were it to be developed in cooperation with the National Federation of the Blind.


Patricia S. Vane,
National Air Safety Committee

National Federation of the Blind
October 2, 1979

Ms. Patricia S. Vane, Chairperson
National Air Safety Committee
Association of Flight Attendants
Washington, D.C.

Dear Ms. Vane,

This will reply to and thank you for your letter of September 11, 1979, concerning a Braille safety card to be given to blind airline passengers. There are many things that the Association of Flight Attendants might do which would make a constructive and meaningful contribution to the advancement of the blind, and we of the National Federation of the Blind would be happy to work with you to that end. Although some blind persons might find a Braille safety card helpful, I doubt that it is worthwhile on balance. Only about ten percent of the blind read Braille, and the briefings given by the flight attendants are quite thorough and adequate. Even so, if you decide to proceed with the idea of the Braille card, the National Federation of the Blind will cooperate with you in producing it.

The major problem which we as blind persons have in flying these days has to do with the attempt to confiscate our canes during take-off and landing. Since the canes are of light plastic and weigh only three or four ounces, since they can be strapped under the seatbelt, and since other passengers are allowed to keep objects that weigh a great deal more, we find it hard to understand why some of the airlines persist in the policy of confiscation. As I have already indicated, the argument that the cane might be a flying missile during times of emergency will not stand examination. Moreover, the experience of many of us would indicate that at least some airline personnel believe that the cane would not really be of help to us in an emergency. Finally, (and I must admit that this is the most troublesome and disagreeable part of the whole business) more and more of us are being forced to conclude that the wish to confiscate canes has root causes that go far deeper than the people involved in the confiscating realize.

Let me explain: All of us wish to feel superior to someone. It is a basic trait of human nature. It can lead to acts of nobility, to self-sacrifice, and humane endeavor; but it can also lead to far less worthy objectives. Traditionally the blind have been regarded as objects of charity and pity. When we stay in our places and are very grateful (in other words, when we act the expected part and let ourselves be pushed around—when we let ourselves be coddled and admired and taken care of, then everyone is happy; but when we insist upon doing for ourselves,—when we talk about our rights and want the same treatment that others get—then we often find hostile reactions. An individual will sooner forgive you for stealing money or a lover than for taking away his or her charity. This is why every group that goes from second-class status to full equality must pass through a period of hostility. It happened a generation ago to the blacks, and it is now happening to the blind. In short, I think the issue concerning canes involves something far more basic than air safety or flying missiles. It deals with the wish of the blind to be free and with the need of the average sighted person to compensate for feelings of insecurity.

As I have already indicated, we of the National Federation of the Blind will be happy to cooperate with you in any way that we can to achieve mutually desirable and worthwhile goals.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth Jernigan, President

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People presumed to be blind may receive supplemental security income (SSI) payments while waiting for medical evidence to be processed if they qualify for SSI in all other respects.

People whose vision is 20/200 or worse with glasses, or who have a visual field of 20 degrees or less are considered blind under the SSI program.

Social security offices can authorize SSI payments to presumptively blind applicants for up to 3 months. The payments are made to help people meet their day-to-day needs while the formal decision on their application is pending.

If SSI payments are made on the basis of presumptive blindness and the application is later denied because the medical evidence does not support the claim, the payments do not have to be repaid and are not considered an overpayment.

However, if payments are later denied because the applicant gave erroneous or false information, the payments will be considered overpayments and may have to be repaid.

New regulations protecting the rights of people who may be eligible for supplemental security income (SSI) payments went into effect July 2, 1979. Under the new regulations, people who ask at a social security office whether they are eligible for SSI but do not file an application will be sent a notice in the mail. The notice will inform them that a formal decision on their SSI eligibility will be made only if they file an application within 60 days. If they do file within that time, the date of their oral inquiry will serve as their application date.

In the past, people who inquired orally and were advised that they were ineligible for SSI could not claim retroactive benefits even if it was later determined that they were misinformed.

The new regulations, by establishing the date of the oral inquiry as the application date, enable people to claim retroactive benefits if they are later found eligible.

Also under the new regulations, people applying for social security benefits will be told about SSI benefits and requirements. Those who do not then apply for SSI will be sent a notice in the mail. The notice will tell them that if they apply for SSI within 60 days, the date of their social security application will be taken as their SSI application date.

Previously, the time limit for establishing an SSI application date based on a written inquiry was 30 days. The new regulations increase this time limit to 60 days, the same as for oral inquiries.

The new regulations were published in the Federal Register on July 2, 1979.

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Accreditation, we have often been told, is a "voluntary" process undertaken by an agency, acting on its own, without pressure, and with the purest of motives—the honest desire and firm commitment to work toward upgrading the quality of its services to the blind. This all sounds very nice; just ask a NACster, he will be glad to tell you. He will throw back his head, stick out his chest, and begin to discourse in high-tone rhetoric praising no doubt the virtue of standards, expounding on the value of consensus, assuring you of his deep commitment to ethics and objectivity, and expressing his personal pride that so many fine people and agencies have joined hands voluntarily to improve the lives of the blind through the important work of NAC.

This is the primary message of NAC, and anyone who attends even a portion of a NAC meeting hears so much of this pompous talk that the whole affair appears to be (and actually is) quite phoney. There is so much talk about "ethics," everybody is so "professional," and there is so much dedication to "high-principle." But the blind, who know NAC best, have not been fooled by this facade of professionalism and ethics, and the real truth of NAC as a ward-healing type of machine. The tool of the would-be political bosses has long since been revealed and spread upon the public record.

There are numerous examples of NAC's back-door arm-twisting approach. For one thing, while accreditation was originally said to be "voluntary," the NACsters (as we have come to call them) have been caught several times trying to secure an iron clad requirement that Federal funding for agencies serving the blind be conditioned upon NAC accreditation. Of course, the Congress and Federal officials have consistently declined to accept this proposition, "But never mind that," say the people at NAC, "We can still say they are considering it." Another instance of NAC's back-room politics occurred in California when state rehabilitation officials turned thumbs-down on the proposal that only NAC accredited private agencies be awarded vocational rehabilitation funds for providing services to the blind. Since this professional judgement was apparently not in accord with NAC's so-called standards of ethics, a campaign was launched (including contacts with the governor) to override the decision through the good old-fashioned political process. More recently, Gene Apple, Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind (NAC's principal source of funding) sought to use his personal influence and contacts at the Veteran's Administration to secure a requirement that all of the VA blind centers would have to be accredited by NAC. Apple is the former director of a VA blind rehabilitation center in Palo Alto, California.

The record is so filled with these and similar incidents that any action of NAC must now be seen in the context of the politics of accreditation. Whether it knowingly and deliberately set-out on this course or not, NAC has now become the creature of political ambition, and the primary instrument of "bossism" in the field of work with the blind. It is true that in the earlier days of NAC the persuasion may have been more genteel—agencies were actually "encouraged" and "invited" to become a part of NAC—but as NAC has failed to offer the political bosses the degree of control they had hoped to achieve, the tactics which have been employed have become considerably more crude. In fact it would be hard to believe that anything, anything at all, is actually too low for NAC.

Bearing this in mind we come then to the case of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind (MAB). MAB was one of NAC's charter agencies, having been among the original group of three agencies corralled into the NAC system ten years ago. But this was in the early days of NAC, and there were still some honest professionals around who believed the NACsters' party-line, that services could be improved through accreditation, and that this was actually NAC's high-purpose. It is often the case, though, that time and experience are our greatest teachers, and so it was with MAB. 1979 proved to be a year of reassessment and decision culminating in MAB's repudiation of its NAC accreditation after a lengthy but open evaluation process. The circumstances surrounding this review and events which occurred thereafter should be studied and considered by all.

Early in the year, and even somewhat before, discussions of the NAC question began to occur as MAB's officials expressed their honest concern over the lack of consumer support for the agency's programs. It is worth noting in this connection that MAB is an agency which in more recent years has thrived on seeking guidance from the people it serves, and to prove it the agency established an all-Consumer Advisory Committee. Late in 1978 the Committee decided to initiate an evaluation of the values of NAC accreditation so that it would later be in a position to make recommendations to MAB's Board of Directors, and as part of this evaluation, information was solicited from the NFB state affiliate in Massachusetts as well as from NAC. The Committee's request under date of December 15, 1978, was as follows:

December 15, 1978

Mr. Al Evans
National Federation of the Blind
Winthrop, Ma.

Dear Mr. Evans,

I am writing to you in behalf of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind's Consumer Advisory Council. As you are perhaps aware, our agency is now in the process of considering what our future status should be with regard to the National Accreditation Council. Being in an advisory role to the M.A.B. Board of Directors, we wish to better inform ourselves as to the issues that surround the present controversy over N.A.C., before making any recommendation to the board.

You are no doubt conscious of the recent discussions which have been taking place over M.A.B.'s future course. In order to best address all of the major viewpoints and philosophical positions on this matter, we are respectfully inquiring as to your willingness to take part in an open, frank and complete debate of the issues surrounding the present controversy. We would wish for you to fully air your position, and to field relevant questions concerning your statements. Much has been made of the opposing viewpoints, but we sincerely think that this discussion would greatly help in understanding the problem as you see it, and clear up some of the confusion and misconception now clouding the subject. We are inviting you, or a qualified representative, along with representatives of the National Accreditation Council. Please be assured that we seek only a fair honest airing of thoughts and ideas and not an unruly one sided event. Pursuant to your response, we shall contact you concerning a place and possible times for this presentation. We know that you share with us a desire for enlightenment and illumination of the issues involved. M.A.B.'s services are utilized by many, and our goal is that these services will grow in quality and quantity. Please share with us your response as soon as possible so that we may initiate our plans.

With thanks for your attention.


Paul Parravano
Brookline, Ma.

Of course, the leaders of our state affiliate in Massachusetts responded affirmatively to the Consumer Advisory Committee's request for the facts concerning NAC, for we are prepared at any time to participate in a thoroughgoing evaluation of how the accreditation process actually works. Whenever this has occurred before, we have always welcomed an open and thorough airing of the facts, but the group which has come to be known as the NAC, AFB, ACB combine has often been afraid to face us before a board or committee over which it does not already exercise political control. It seems that there is no end of lame excuses and attempts to wiggle out.

For example, under date of January 17, 1979, Richard Bleecker, NAC's Executive Director, responded to the Consumer Advisory Committee's request, in the characteristically pompous manner which so ill becomes him, as follows:

National Accreditation Council
January 17, 1979

Mr. Paul Parravano
Brookline, Massachusetts

Dear Mr. Parravano,

Thank you for your recent letter extending an invitation on behalf of MAB's Consumer Advisory Council to NAC, to participate in a debate of the issues surrounding the present controversy over NAC. We assume you are referring to the opposition of the National Federation of the Blind to NAC.

We appreciate your interest in gathering facts directly from NAC. We always are willing to provide information to help clear-up confusion and set-straight misconceptions about this issue. I am enclosing for your information, some materials that should be helpful. They include, an annual report, our latest issue of the "Standard Bearer" and accredited members list, also an information sheet, "Facts About the NAC, NFB Relationship," which discusses the controversy, should be of interest to the Committee. If you would like additional copies of these materials, I would be only too happy to furnish them to Committee members upon request. Incidentally, we can make most of them available on flexible disc, if that would be more convenient.

In addition to the enclosed materials, I believe that most of the Committee's questions about accreditation could be answered by Mr. James Ryder, MAB's Executive Director. As head of a NAC accredited agency, Mr. Ryder is familiar with NAC and is well aware of the benefits of the accreditation process, (you will note that I have taken the liberty of sending him a copy of this letter).

If the Committee finds that additional information is necessary, we will be pleased to arrange for a representative from NAC to meet with the members of the Committee to discuss the issues further. We would expect, of course, that the expenses of our representative will be met by MAB or the Advisory Committee. Thanks again for your inquiry, we look forward to hearing from you.


Richard Bleecker, Ed. D.

This letter is a NAC classic through and through; note Dr. Bleecker's "assumption" that any time questions are raised concerning NAC, the NFB lurks somewhere in the background. Somehow he fails to comprehend that a Consumer Advisory Panel might raise legitimate questions concerning the value of NAC, and then there is the arrogant presumption that the consumers (or MAB) will ante-up and pay the expenses for NAC to come forward to explain itself. Note also the assumption that an Executive Director of a NAC accredited agency could be expected to step forward to answer any questions concerning the "benefits" of NAC accreditation. Did it ever occur to Dr. Bleecker that these alleged benefits might be so obscure that an Executive Director of a NAC accredited agency might have trouble explaining them, and besides, if these "benefits" are so substantial, why wouldn't they be apparent to consumers, especially an officially constituted Consumer Advisory Committee. Perhaps this is just another example of how it takes "professional" expertise to "interpret" (or more accurately, "filter") certain types of information for blind consumers.

Beyond a doubt there are some executive directors of NAC accredited agencies who are willing to do NAC's bidding, choosing to spend their own political margins by fronting for NAC, but MAB's Director was not controlled by the machine-type politics of the NACsters. From the beginning he made his position plain that NAC itself would simply have to face up to the tough questions through an open evaluation by consumers. He felt that if NAC was really what it purported to be, it could easily stand the test, and if it was not, it was something MAB could well do without; so the Consumer Advisory Committee review proceeded.

Early in February the Committee made its recommendation to MAB's Board of Directors. Then, on February 21, the Board, having received the Consumer Advisory Committee's report, formally established the course of action which would be taken with respect to the agency's NAC accredited status. That policy was set forth succinctly in a letter from MAB's Executive Director (James Ryder) to NAC, as follows:

Massachusetts Association for the Blind
February 21, 1979

Dr. Richard Bleecker, Executive Director
National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped
New York, New York

Dear Dr. Bleecker,

At its board meeting today, MAB's Board received a recommendation from its Consumer Advisory Committee, not to re-accredit with the National Accreditation Council. The Board voted to postpone the reaccreditation process for three months and therefore delay the April 30, 1979 dues payment of $600. The Board has seriously considered this question and awaits your response.


James Ryder,
Executive Director

It goes without saying that this letter did not contain exactly the kind of news the NACsters wanted to hear; after all, this man Ryder was expected to have the consumers under control, but something had obviously gone wrong; a new strategy would have to be employed.

Enter, the big boss, the American Foundation for the Blind. AFB's first effort to bring MAB back into line occurred in early April when William Gallagher, Associate Director for Advocacy, met with the MAB Board. While a face-to-face confrontation in front of MAB's consumers was apparently odious to the NACsters, they were happy to meet privately with the agency's Board of Directors; certainly befitting NAC's brand of consumer participation. But the MAB Board was not to be used by the NACsters as an instrument of their ward-healing brand of politics. The process for a consumer-led evaluation had been established, and it was going to be followed. So the NACsters were invited to make their case through the conventional, democratic process of an open confrontation and not by means of their more typical form of back-room arm twisting. Furthermore, AFB was told that since it would probably come up with the funds to finance the participation of NAC representatives in a fair hearing to be scheduled for early May, fairness would call for an equal courtesy to be extended to representatives from NFB. It goes without saying that this advice was declined.

So, despite these and a few back-door maneuvers by the NACsters, the evaluation proceeded in accordance with the commitment of MAB's Board and the Consumer Advisory Committee to conduct the review of NAC through an orderly and open process. This included a hearing before a Joint Committee of consumers and Board members, held on May 5. Rami Rabby (NFB Second Vice-President) and Al Evans (President of our Massachusetts affiliate) represented the Federation, while Dick Bleecker and Bill Gallagher came forward to defend the pro-NAC position. There was also an ACB representative who, of course, spoke up weakly and meekly for NAC. The hearing was quite similar to several previous confrontations of this type—the script has long been written, and the lines are well rehearsed. The questions for the NACsters are always tough, and somehow they never seem to be able to provide straight answers, seeking cover in the tired old attacks on NFB and its leaders, especially Dr. Jernigan. The NACsters brought out the usual Des Moines Register slanders (being unable to explain, of course, what all of this had to do with whether NAC accreditation could give better services to the blind). However, this time around there were the articles from the Wall Street Journal, which had been put onto tape and supplied to all of the Committee members. The NAC representatives were unable to explain how it could be that accreditation could be so valuable in improving the quality of services to the blind when so many agencies criticized by the Journal's reporters were NAC accredited.

This fact and the other well-known examples of how NAC has not served to improve services to the blind were considered as persuasive evidence that continued accreditation after ten years was of no value whatsoever to MAB. Accordingly, on June 20, the agency's Board determined that it would continue to search for alternatives to NAC and not proceed with the reaccreditation procedures at all. The payment of 1979 annual dues to NAC was specifically withheld by the Board; the NACsters had already begun pouring on the pressure to secure the payment of annual dues, employing the ultimate threat that MAB's accreditation might be "withdrawn" were the dues not to be forthcoming. But the MAB Board would not be bullied into submission. The following letter from Otis Stephens, Chairman on NAC's Commission on Accreditation, is characteristic of the threats employed by the NACsters:

National Accreditation Council
June 28, 1979

Mr. James Ryder,
Executive Director
Massachusetts Association for the Blind
Brookline, Massachusetts

Dear Mr. Ryder,

At its meeting on June 25, the Commission on Accreditation gave careful attention to the accreditation of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and has placed the Association on warning through July 31. The Commission's decision was based upon the Association's failure to fulfill its membership obligation to pay annual dues to NAC.

Specifically, the agency has failed to pay its membership dues for fiscal year 1979, which were due by April 30, 1979. The Commission also noted that the Association had requested a three month delay until July 31, in submitting its completed self-reassessment report, which was originally due by April 30. This report, an integral component of the reaccreditation process, is required of all members every five years in order to assess whether the organization continues to merit recognition of accreditation.

The warning means that the accreditation of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind will be withdrawn if the membership dues and the completed self-reassessment report are not received by July 31. The Council's policies pertaining to warning, withdrawal of accreditation, and due process have been furnished previously to the Association.

If, during the period of warning, the Association demonstrates that it intends to meet NAC's membership obligation by paying its dues in full and submitting a completed self-reassessment report or requesting a second short delay in order to finish the report, the warning will be withdrawn and the agency will remain a member of NAC in-good-standing. In this case, it would be mutually understood that MAB is committed to proceed expeditiously with the reassessment process leading to consideration for reaccreditation.

The Council will give no publicity to its decision to place the Association on warning, however, we encourage you to make all possible constructive use of our decision. We regret that the Association has not fulfilled its membership obligation and thus has placed in jeopardy its right to remain accredited. We invite the Association to reaffirm its ten year commitment to NAC accreditation and to demonstrate that it desires and deserves to retain this recognition.


Otis Stephens, Chairman
Commission on Accreditation

This is another NAC exclusive, as Otis Stephens proves that he is Bleecker's equal when it comes to issuing pious pronouncements or in demonstrating his capacity for arrogance. Could it really be that MAB, like a naughty child, had acted so irresponsibly in failing to pay its dues that it would have to be "warned" about what this would mean? The letter is noteworthy in that it fails to recognize the events which had transpired over the previous several months, and it conveniently ignores altogether the fact that NAC knew of MAB's intent to study the question of accreditation and to arrive at a reasoned decision after weighing all of the evidence. But when were reason and fairness ever important considerations for the machine politicians who operate behind the scenes at NAC where the slick maneuver and the shifty dodge are more often the tools of persuasion?

While it cannot be disputed that some agencies lack stamina to confront NAC's steamroller tactics, MAB's Board of Directors was not about to be bludgeoned. The course of evaluating NAC after ten years of accredited status had been deliberately determined after reasoned discussion and debate. That NAC had so far failed to come up with convincing answers was something which the Board was simply not prepared to ignore. So, the agency's position concerning its future with NAC became firm. In effect, the MAB Board said: "Punish us with technicalities if you can or will, but after ten years of accreditation we will not be bullied into making a hasty decision which many believe would be harmful to our programs." MAB officials might also have considered that NAC's primary concern was really the payment of annual dues (not the agency's compliance with, or failure to meet, NAC's standards). Without question Dr. Stephen's letter revealed that it was actually the dues, not the standards, which became primarily important to NAC; in other words: "Pay your dues, and stay in the club." There was also the back-handed suggestion that actual withdrawal of MAB's accreditation by NAC might be accompanied with appropriate publicity, while MAB could be assured that the "warning" would not. With these factors in mind, MAB's Executive Director responded to Dr. Stephens in a letter under date of July 19. His words were carefully chosen, and his message was brief:

Massachusetts Association for the Blind
July 19, 1979

Mr. Otis Stephens, Chairman
Commission on Accreditation
National Accreditation Council
New York, New York

Dear Otis,

Thank you for your June 28 letter. It's unfortunate that the Commission on Accreditation feels the way it does. MAB's Executive Committee on June 20, 1979, reaffirmed its decision to continue its study to weigh alternatives.



Given NAC's high-handed arrogance, this was probably more than Dr. Stephens deserved, but it placed on the record forever MAB's conscious decision to repudiate NAC accreditation after ten years of accredited status and a thoroughgoing review extending over a period of more than six months. Whether the political bosses who control NAC were simply unprepared to face up to this reality or whether they honestly believed that one last-ditch, all-out maneuver would bring MAB officials to their knees, we cannot say, but their behavior as the finality of MAB's decision closed in upon them speaks to their true purpose, illustrating their lust for power at any cost. NAC has always been unflinching in its refusal to face the truth, and its response to MAB was characteristic; the style was arrogant. No lofty talk or professionalism nor lordly claims of unblemished ethics will ever explain away NAC's behavior.

Under date of September 4, a press-release was sent from NAC headquarters in New York to local news media throughout the State of Massachusetts. In view of the events which had transpired, the release can only be described in kindest terms as blatantly deceptive, while some have said that it borders on fraud. However it can be characterized, the attempt to smear and damage is plain on its face. This was not constructive standard setting aimed at improving the quality of services to the blind, it was inspired by old-fashioned political bossism, where if you want to survive at all, you are ordered either to "get into line or pay the price!" No positive motive can be offered to explain the circulation of this release; it only sought to punish and to provide an example for other agencies which might dare to consider following MAB's lead; NAC's machine-like politics had failed, and NAC must somehow now save face. The full text of the press-release was as follows:

For Immediate Release

September 4, 1979

National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped
New York, NY
For more information contact:
Dr. Richard W. Bleecker

The National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) announced today in New York the withdrawal of the accreditation of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, located in Brookline.

Dr. Otis H. Stephens, chairman of NAC's Commission on Accreditation, who made the announcement, explained that the Massachusetts Association for the Blind had not fulfilled its membership responsibilities to NAC: the Association did not submit its self-evaluation as part of the process of demonstrating continuing public accountability for the provision of quality services and responsible management. The Association also failed to meet its membership dues obligation for the year.

"The Massachusetts Association for the Blind was an early charter member of the Council," Dr. Stephens added. "It had been accredited for almost eleven years, since 1968."

NAC is the standard-setting and accrediting body for agencies and schools that specialize in serving blind and visually handicapped persons. 77 agencies and schools throughout the United States are presently accredited by the Council, including the Perkins Schools for the Blind in Watertown.

Whatever advantage the NACsters may have sought by issuing this release, they had to be dissappointed, for the news media had no desire to be used as one more player in this obvious game of political skullduggery. Only one reporter even bothered to call MAB, and upon learning the facts, the story was not pursued. Of course, NAC will continue to tell the world that MAB's accreditation was actually withdrawn, but the record of events reveals this shabby flim-flam, and none of NAC's rhetoric will ever change that, nor can it change the increasing realization that a growing number of agencies serving the blind are simply no longer willing to front for a system whose real purposes of control and domination are becoming increasingly obvious to all. Let anyone who ever thought that NAC was an honest, open, and aboveboard accrediting body read the case of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind; the behavior leaves no doubt, there is no room for exception, "you either get in or you pay the price"—never mind the constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of speech and dissent.

Speaking of which, the record of NAC's performance in the case of Massachusetts Association for the Blind will also reveal that the reprisals and smear tactics were not limited to the attempts to discredit MAB on the repudiation of its NAC accredited status. Rami Rabby, too, came in for his share of abuse in the form of two letters sent by the Executive Directors of both AFB and NAC to his employer, Citibank Incorporated. The letters are reprinted in full below; they speak for themselves, and they speak for a system and its leaders who have become so degenerate that they will carry forever the stench of corruption. If a blind person dares to express the opinion that an agency should not associate itself with NAC, then NAC and the American Foundation for the Blind will try to ruin him professionally—damage his career—jeopardize his job. This is "quality services!" "Ethical behavior!" "High standards!"

And speaking of such things, attention should be called to one word in the June 22 letter from Loyal E. Apple. That word appears in the second sentence of the letter. It sums up the entire NAC system of morality. It is undeniable. It is damning. NAC cannot escape it or explain it away. The word is "application." Did the committee really meet to discuss "MAB's application for re-accreditation?"

As a final word we are also reprinting the response from Citibank together with this concluding observation: "Touche, Dr. Bleecker, it was about what you deserved."

American Foundation for the Blind, Inc.
June 22, 1979

Mr. Walter B. Wriston
Chairman of the Board
City Bank of North America
New York, New York

Dear Mr. Wriston,

It has been brought to my attention by Mr. William F. Gallagher, Associate Director for Advocacy, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), that Avraham (Rami) Rabby, Affirmative Action Specialist for Citibank, was a speaker at a committee meeting of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind (MAB), 200 Ivy Street, Brookline, Massachusetts, on Saturday, May 5. This Committee, which was composed of MAB Board members and a Consumer Council, met to discuss MAB's application for re-accreditation by the National Accreditation Council of Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC).

Mr. Gallagher was invited to discuss with the Committee the value of accreditation as a method of ensuring quality services to blind and visually handicapped clients.

Mr. Rabby, who is President of the New York City Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), was ostensibly representing the interests of that organization when making misleading and downgrading statements about NAC and recommending that MAB not apply for re-accreditation.

The principle on which NAC was founded and which has guided NAC since 1967 has been the generation of management and service standards for accreditation and the voluntary application of these standards by agencies serving the blind and visually impaired persons with an ultimate goal of improved and more appropriate services for these individuals. As is the case with Affirmative Action, Standards for Accreditation attempt to improve the quality and availability of life opportunities for blind and visually impaired persons.

Although Mr. Rabby in criticizing NAC is probably speaking for the NFB, I would appreciate it if you would inform us whether his position opposing Standards for Accreditation of educational and rehabilitation services for blind and visually impaired persons reflects the view of Citibank in its Affirmative Action program.

Criticizing and downgrading a nationally recognized accrediting agency, NAC, whose sole purpose is the improvement of services offered by agencies to blind and visually handicapped people in this country does, it seems to me, pose a serious conflict of interest with the general concept of Affirmative Action.

Attached is a pamphlet describing the programs of the Foundation, which has been the central agency in work for the blind in this country for the past fifty-eight years.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Loyal E. Apple
Executive Director

National Accreditation Council
July 11, 1979

Mr. Walter B. Wriston
Chairman of the Board
New York, New York

Dear Mr. Wriston,

On June 2, 1978, I wrote to you to express my concern that Mr. Avraham Rabby apparently had been permitted to use his status as a Citibank employee to pursue his personal political goals. Miss Janet Robinson of your staff looked into it, and sent me a reply on June 9th, which I acknowledged almost one year ago, on July 19th.

I regret that Mr. Rabby's conduct once again compels me to contact you and request an explanation of Citibank's policy.

Mr. Rabby participated during normal business hours on May 21, 1979, in a "press conference" in front of the Jewish Guild for the Blind in this city. The purpose of the conference was to release a report which contained numerous factual inaccuracies and faulty conclusions strongly critical of the Jewish Guild and other reputable agencies that serve the blind in this State. We cannot understand why he was authorized to engage in such conduct during banking hours, unless he was representing Citibank's point of view in this matter.

We would defend Mr. Rabby's right to express his own opinions about these agencies even when his views are inaccurate and in marked contrast with readily obtainable facts. But we thought you should know that his querulous extracurricular conduct during the normal banking day could be detrimental to the reputation enjoyed by Citibank.

We hope to receive your assurance that Mr. Rabby has not been authorized in any way to exploit his status with your respected organization to further the expression of his personal opinions.


Richard W. Bleecker, Ed.D.

Richard W. Bleecker, Ed.D.
National Accreditation Council
New York, New York
July 19, 1979

Dear Dr. Bleecker,

Mr. Wriston asked me to respond to your recent letter concerning Mr. Rabby's comments at the May 21 Conference.

Citicorp encourages staff members to participate in community affairs. We believe such participation is a responsibility of every citizen. By encouraging our staff to become involved in these activities, we help to fulfill our responsibility as a corporate citizen.

Citibank staff members who engage in outside civic activities do so as individual citizens, not as Citicorp representative. Under the circumstances, any remarks by Mr. Rabby reflect his own views and not necessarily those of Citicorp. Although Mr. Rabby is aware of your letter and concurs with this response, he feels your repeated letters on the same subject smack of harassment. Since we've tried to make our policy clear to you in the past, I tend to agree.

I hope I've succeeded in clarifying the situation to your satisfaction.


Joseph A. Fernandez

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The world is full of apples—red ones and green ones, sweet ones and sour;
Nutritious and delicious, just right to devour.

Some apples are ripe, others are rotten;
There are good ones and bad ones, and some best forgotten.

That some apples have worms there is no doubt;
And then there are apples we could well do without.

There are apples a-plenty just ripe for the feedin';
But then there was the apple in the Garden of Eden.

Adam and Eve as the good book does state
Brought sin to the world with the apple they ate.

Which brings to my mind a letter you'll find
From an Apple who's name is well known to the blind.

This Apple's upset, I'm sure you'll agree;
Most likely because he heads-up AFB.

This Apple's not ripe and not even green;
He's a mighty strange apple, his friends call him Gene.

Now this Apple is an apple right down to the core;
And the blind know his message, we've heard it before.

His parents named him Loyal, and Loyal is he;
But he dwells in the muck of the AFB.

There are apples that are polished and taken to the teacher;
But did you ever know an apple who tried to be a preacher?

This particular Apple has nerve as a token.
The blind will observe his sly little curve;
In the mixed-up words he has spoken.

Now on with the best, here's the Apple's request;
He tries to be more than a token.

But if an apple a day keeps the doctor away;
Will it also keep you from chokin'?

American Foundation for the Blind, Inc.
September 28, 1979

Dear Dr. Jernigan,

The enclosed statement will appear in the next edition of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Newsletter which will be published in October 1979. It deals with our response to the accusation which appeared in the September issue of the Monitor that AFB, as part of a "combine" opposes "Minimum Wage for the Blind". It further denies another statement in that same issue that Fred McDonald has been hired by AFB to conduct a series of seminars "to teach agency personnel how to counter proposals by blind workers that they be treated with dignity and respect and that their rights as workers be recognized". It also states the true purpose of Mr. McDonald's employment as a part-time consultant for AFB.

I respectfully request that this statement be printed in the Monitor at the earliest possible opportunity so that your readers will have a true understanding of our opposition to the NFB petition before the Department of Labor concerning the amending of Regulation 29 C.F.R., parts 524-525, as well as the true nature of Mr. McDonald's employment with AFB.

Sincerely yours,
L. E. Apple
Executive Director

Well, Mr. Apple, stand forth in your glory;
And show us the faults in the MONITOR story.

You don't oppose minimum wages; of that there's no doubt.
You're just against the Federation's efforts to bring it about.

You're in favor of dignity and worth for the blind
But you have to oppose them just now. Your reasons? Never mind.

Sing on, oh Apple; sing the agency song;
But remember that since Eden,
We've known right from wrong.

To eat from the apple, whether dumpling or sauce;
Can sour the stomach and bring about loss.

It can also be wholesome and bring great delight.
It all depends on the biter and the bite.

It all depends on the cut and the slice;
And a shopworker once bitten is cautious twice.

Did you support, or did you fight
The battle of the blind for a bigger bite?

Did you want more pay for the blind in the shops—
Or more of the same, with a few extra mops?

But speak for yourself, and tell us in what way
You tried to help the blind get more pay:

The September issue of the Braille Monitor (a bi-monthly publication of the National Federation of the Blind) devoted a considerable amount of space to the subject of sheltered workshop employment of blind persons. On February 2, 1979 the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) filed a petition with the Department of Labor (DOL) to amend Regulation 29 C.F.R., parts 524 and 525 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. They requested that blind workers in sheltered workshops covered under Section 14(c) of the FLSA be paid "the applicable minimum wage provided in Section 6 of the Act, regardless of their productive capacity."

A hearing was held by the DOL on June 5, 1979 regarding this petition. In recounting the proceedings at this hearing, the Monitor described the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), as part of a "combine", opposing "Minimum Wage for the Blind."

In another article in the same issue entitled "Field Report" written by Tom Bozikis, the Monitor stated that Mr. Fred McDonald has been hired by AFB as a consultant. It further stated that Mr. McDonald is conducting a series of seminars ". . . to teach agency personnel how to counter proposals by blind workers that they be treated with dignity and respect and that their rights as workers be recognized." It further described the seminars as a "new service" of AFB.

Dealing first with the statement that AFB opposes "Minimum Wage for the Blind", I would say that on no occasion that I know of has any representative of this agency made that statement and, furthermore, it does not represent our position. Moreover, we support blind and visually impaired persons receiving the highest possible wage or salary for any employment in which they engage. And, we will encourage and promote any effort to expand employment opportunities for all blind and visually impaired persons.

What AFB opposed (along with others) at the June 5th hearing was the specific petition by NFB which was under consideration by the DOL at that time. In no way can our opposition be construed as an overall opposition to a minimum wage for blind people. Our reasons for opposing the petition were clearly stated by Mr. Irvin P. Schloss, Director of our Governmental relations office in Washington, D.C. They are as follows:

". . . 1. Granting the petitioner's request would clearly result in curtailment of employment opportunities for some blind and visually handicapped persons.

"2. A substantial number of blind and visually handicapped persons who would be affected by the petitioner's request do not have the productive capacity to earn the applicable minimum wage under Section 6 of the FLSA.

"3. Substantial altering of the regulations implementing Section 14(c) of the FLSA without prior action by the Congress is inadvisable in view of past and recent legislative history." (i.e., In the 95th Congress Bill HR 8104 was introduced which would have accomplished the same objectives of the NFB petition. Although hearings were held, Congress did not act on the bill).

"4. Any change of the magnitude requested by the petitioner should apply to all handicapped workers covered by Section 14(c) and should be preceded by a clear-cut Congressional mandate. . ." (Due to space limitation, we cannot reprint Mr. Schloss' entire statement in this publication but anyone wishing a complete copy may write to me at our New York office and it will be forwarded to you. Please specify if you would prefer print or braille).

Regarding the so-called "new service" of AFB, i.e., the conducting of seminars "to teach agency personnel how to counter proposals by the blind workers that they be treated with dignity and respect and that their rights as workers be recognized", I find it difficult to follow the logic of this conclusion.

Yes, Mr. McDonald has been hired by AFB as a part-time consultant but that is where the truth of his relationship with AFB ends in the Monitor story. Mr. McDonald was hired for one year to coordinate the planning and conducting a four-day Institute which was held September 11 - 14, 1979 in Chicago. The Institute brought together a representative sampling of directors and rehabilitation personnel of state and private agencies for the blind in the United States for the broad purpose of "enhancing the skills of rehabilitation and placement personnel in opening up more employment opportunities for blind and visually impaired persons in the primary job market." (See story on page  ).

Another major consideration that the Institute dealt with was the retention of individuals in primary jobs (middle and upper management) who become blind or severely visually impaired while employed. The Institute was funded under a grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

There was a strong indication from the participants in the Institute of the need to replicate this program at the local level for the training of rehabilitation personnel. Another of Mr. McDonald's functions, along with other appropriate AFB staff, is to develop a model program from the experience of the Chicago Institute which could be presented locally. Under the terms of the grant, Mr. McDonald's employment as a consultant to the project will conclude in January following his submission of a final report.

In no way did the subject matter of this Institute or the responsibilities of Mr. McDonald involve any consideration of sheltered workshops.

EDITORS NOTE: AFB has written to the Monitor requesting that a retraction of their statement that AFB opposes "Minimum Wage for Blind", be printed at the earliest opportunity and, that they further print the text of this editorial which clarifies AFB's position on minimum wage as well as the nature and function of Fred McDonald's employment as a part-time AFB consultant.

Now you've heard from the Apple, and isn't it sad;
How he tries and denies that he's ever been bad.

But at the same time with every new bite;
He tells us much more than he wishes he might.

Remember that in Eden the snake had his way;
Through the use of an apple on that long ago day.

The message is clear: In whatever part;
The apple must be eaten with care in the heart.

Old McDonald had a farm;
With blighted plants and twisted arm.

And McDonald is not burger but rather is Fred;
And he works where he works whatever was said.

So we have printed your statement without hook or grapple;
And have tried to become a teacher for the Apple.

But remember the statement of Eugene Field;
And seek for the moral within it concealed:

"No matter what conditions Dyspeptic come to feaze.
The best of all physicians is apple pie and cheese!"

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In every civil rights movement there is always tremendous progress, but there are also inevitable setbacks. The Federation suffered such a setback this year when, on October 8, 1979, Herbert Anderson died suddenly of a massive heart attack.

I had met Commissioner Anderson informally on several occasions in the early 1970's, but met him officially in July of 1976 when I filed a discrimination complaint with the Iowa Insurance Department against Mutual of Omaha over its practices in the area of flight insurance. Commissioner Anderson was a man of great perception and also one deeply committed to consumer protection. He studied the issues involved with his keen mind, weighed all sides carefully, made a rational judgment that our cause was just, and then took swift and decisive action. He was not alarmed about political repercussions which might come from the powerful insurance lobby.

He promulgated a regulation in Iowa in the fall of 1976 to prohibit unfair insurance discrimination against the blind and, soon after, made it possible for the NFB to appear before the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to work toward the development of a model anti-discrimination regulation which could be adopted throughout the country. This goal, too, was accomplished in June of 1978.

Commissioner Anderson's understanding of and interest in the organized blind movement rapidly broadened beyond the area of insurance discrimination and soon he became our colleague and beloved friend. Our cause was his cause. Our friends were his friends. Our enemies were his enemies. In spite of the vicious attempts to destroy the movement in the last 2½ years, he remained loyal and steadfast to the end.

The first newsletter of the Insurance Department of Iowa which was issued after Commissioner Anderson's death reveals much about the nature of the man. In the area of consumerism one employee wrote,

"He was also quite a guy as our Commissioner and leader. We find that the Department was challenged and sued more times under Herb's administration, singly, than under all of the previous administrations collectively."

This fact clearly demonstrates Commissioner Anderson's commitment to carry out the job for which he was appointed with conviction and dedication; that is, he was relentless in his protection of the public including the blind.

Another employee wrote:

"There are men
Who have walked among us
With tasks they set forth to do.
Using judgment and wisdom discreetly.
Making their dreams come true.

"There are men
With a common concern for
The bettering of their fellow man.
Offering themselves to the utmost.
Fulfilling ideals, and a plan.

"There are men
Of stature and grace
With achievements, they fought to attain.
Proving this earth, a much better place.
They lived, and they died, not in vain,”

In 1977, for his work with us, Commissioner Anderson received the highest award of the NFB of Iowa. The newsletter quotes the text as follows:

In recognition of dedicated service
To the blind of Iowa and the nation
The National Federation of the Blind of Iowa
Bestows its ALTIG AWARD upon
Herbert W. Anderson
He took time to understand
He had the courage to act
Because of him the blind have a better life.
May 1977

Even though our loss is profound, we must all celebrate in the fact that he lived and we had the opportunity to know him. As an anonymous staff member wrote on the blackboard in the Insurance Department on the day of his funeral, "Herb, we miss you."

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For many years, those of us who are blind have faced massive discrimination by the insurance industry. Many of us are now aware of this situation and are doing all that we can to correct it. Although it is unfortunate, many of our blind brothers and sisters continue to accept marked up rates and outright rejections and fail to recognize that discrimination has been practiced against them at all. They would simply accept the treatment and say, "I guess that's how it is for those of us who are blind."

In recent years the NFB has been aware of the problem and has moved vigorously to eliminate it. In the early 1970's a few states passed various laws which addressed part of the problem. In 1976 the Iowa Insurance Commissioner adopted a regulation prohibiting all forms of insurance discrimination against the blind in the state. Commissioner Anderson then made arrangements for us to present our case to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in June of 1978 with a view toward the adoption of a model regulation which could be implemented in the various states. This was done, and many states have adopted the model.

In other states Federationists approached state legislatures to secure the passage of laws. At the present time our best information is that the following states have either laws or regulations prohibiting discrimination in insurance against the blind:

Arizona (Reg.)
Colorado (Law)
Connecticut (Law-NAIC Model)
Delaware (Law)
Florida (Law)
Hawaii (Reg.-NAIC Model)
Iowa (Reg.)
Kansas (Law)
Maine (Law)
Maryland (Law)
Massachusetts (Law)
Michigan (Law)
Minnesota (Law)
Mississippi (Reg.)
Missouri (Reg.)
Montana (Reg.-NAIC Model)
Nebraska (Reg.-NAIC Model)
New Jersey (Reg.-NAIC Model)
North Carolina (Reg.-NAIC Model)
North Dakota (Reg.-NAIC Model)
Ohio (Law)
Oregon (Reg.-NAIC Model)
Rhode Island (Law)
South Carolina (Reg.-NAIC Model)
Utah (Reg.-NAIC Model)
Vermont (Law-NAIC Model)
Virginia (Law-NAIC Model)
Washington (Law)

The first legal challenge to our right to purchase insurance on an equal basis with others occurred in Iowa in 1977. A blind person was refused waiver of premium insurance coverage by the Kemper Company. A complaint was filed, a hearing was held, Commissioner Anderson found Kemper to be in violation of the law, and a fine was imposed. Kemper appealed this decision to the courts.

In an astonishing decision an Iowa District Court did several things. First, it took "judicial notice" of the "fact" that a person lacking one of the five senses is different and is automatically a poor risk. Then, it concluded that Commissioner Anderson had no authority to prohibit unfair discrimination against the blind. Finally, the Court concluded that, even if the Iowa regulation were valid, Kemper did not violate the law since its refusal to sell insurance was based solely on blindness. Therefore, the Court reversed Commissioner Anderson's decision.

This case is now on appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court. Kemper argues that the regulation is invalid or, if not, that the law authorizing the regulation is unconstitutional. Kemper also takes the novel approach that it is the responsibility of the Insurance Commission to prove that the blind are equal risks, rather than that the industry demonstrate that we are poor risks. Time will tell.

As has so often been the case in the past, when the NFB achieves real progress for the blind, the handicapped receive a spin off type of benefit. This is true in the area of insurance discrimination. After our model regulation prohibiting unfair discrimination on the basis of blindness was adopted in 1978, the NAIC established a task force to look into the problems of the handicapped and, if discrimination were found, to develop another model regulation or law to protect this group. Since I had served as a representative of the NFB on the blindness regulation, I was asked to continue as an advisor on the second one. We conducted a survey, found discrimination, held a variety of meetings, and prepared new language which was adopted by the NAIC in June of 1979. It will now be the principal responsibility of organizations of the handicapped to press for the adoption of either the model regulation or law.

The texts of the model regulation and law are as follows:

Model Regulation on Unfair Discrimination In Life and Health Insurance on the Basis of Physical or Mental Impairment

Section I. Authority

This regulation is promulgated pursuant to the authority granted by Section 12 of the NAIC Model Act Relating to Unfair Methods of Competition and Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices in the Business of Insurance.

Drafting Note: The proposed Model Regulation On Unfair Discrimination In Life and Health Insurance On The Basis Of Physical Or Mental Impairment is designed to implement Section 4(7) of the Model Unfair Trade Practices Act. This section prohibits "any unfair discrimination between individuals of the same class and equal expectation of life in . . . any contract of life insurance or of life annuity" and "any unfair discrimination between individuals of the same class and essentially same hazard in . . . any policy or contract of health insurance ..."

Section II. Purpose

The purpose of this regulation is to identify specific acts or practices in life and health insurance which are prohibited by Section 4(7)(a)&(b) of the Unfair Trade Practices Act cited in Section I of this regulation.

Drafting Note: The need for a Model regulation has arisen because of questions as to whether life and health insurers are, in all cases, making fair determinations of which individuals are "of the same class and equal expectation of life" (or "essentially the same hazard"). The main purpose of the proposed Model regulation is to make clear that life and health insurers cannot classify individuals arbitrarily—without a rational basis for each decision.

Section III. Unfairly Discriminatory Acts or Practices

The following are hereby identified as acts or practices in life and health insurance which constitute unfair discrimination between individuals of the same class: Refusing to insure, or refusing to continue to insure, or limiting the amount, extent or kind of coverage available to an individual, or charging a different rate for the same coverage solely because of a physical or mental impairment, except where the refusal, limitation or rate differential is based on sound actuarial principles or is related to actual or reasonably anticipated experience.

Drafting Note: This Model regulation sets forth standards which require that life and health insurers be objective and fair in placing individuals with physical or mental impairments in various risk classifications.

The Model regulation does not restrict a life or health insurer's choice of the number and size of rating classes which it will use. Many life and health insurers have a number of extra premium classes. Some life and health insurers, however, have relatively simple underwriting procedures and only two risk classes: accept and reject. In group insurance elaborate underwriting procedures and a multiplicity of rating classes are not available because this is not consistent with the overall aim of group insurance of providing insurance to many people at low administrative cost. Similar simplicity is desirable in some other marketing situations (e.g., individual policy pension plans and direct mail business).

The regulation is not intended to mandate the inclusion of particular coverages, such as benefits for normal pregnancy, or of levels of benefits such as for mental illness, in a company's policies or contracts. In virtually every state, mandates of any coverages or benefits are the subject of separate legislation. The model unfair trade practices act has never been interpreted to provide the basis for such mandates but rather to assure that such coverage and benefits as are offered by insurers are provided on a basis which is not unfairly discriminatory among individuals of the same class.

To make life and health insurance available to as many individuals as possible, the regulation does not restrict the use of riders ("waivers") which exclude from coverage risks related to impairments which existed prior to the date on which the individual's coverage became effective. Also, it does not restrict the use of pre-existing condition limitations in health insurance contracts.

Amendment to the NAIC Model Act Relating to Unfair Methods of Competition and Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices in the Business of Insurance

(Prohibiting Certain Acts by Insurers Solely Because of Mental or Physical Impairments)

Sec. 4(7)(E) To terminate, or to modify coverage or to refuse to issue or refuse to renew any property or casualty policy or contract of insurance solely because the applicant or insured or any employee of either is mentally or physically impaired; Provided that this subsection shall not apply to Accident and Health insurance sold by a casualty insurer and, Provided further, that this subsection shall not be interpreted to modify any other provision of law relating to the termination, modification, issuance or renewal of any insurance policy or contract.

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October 11, 1979

Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind
Baltimore, Maryland

Dear Mr. President,

This week Federationists are celebrating a victory in Chicago.

The sign on the door of the large south-side restaurant and lounge reads, "Closed for remodeling." Inside, however, waitresses have been telling familiar customers, "We will be closed from October 10th through the 15th because of that blind lady and her dog." Strangers may read the sign and drive on to another restaurant, but neighbors and regulars can read the writing on Louise's wall.

Last February, on a frigid, slippery winter night, the blind lady and her dog, with the lady's husband, ventured out into the wintery blast for a bit of relief from the relentless snows, not of Chicago's yester-year, but of Chicago's every year. Louise's was near at hand. "All Dr. Browne wanted was a bite to eat," the newspaper said, but she'd have to go to court before she would get anything but abuse at Louise's.

So she did! And, although eight long months have passed, we have come to a resolution of what Louise's proprietor's attorney called a frivolous affair in a last minute, desperate phone call to the blind lady.

Steadfast in the knowledge that an impressive national organization stood behind her, she had waited until the hearing before the Chicago Liquor Commission on the 5th of September this year, when Mr. Paholke, Louise's proprietor appeared to plead guilty and to offer the blind lady, whose name he apparently never learned, a public apology in hopes of mitigating any possible penalty. Dr. Browne rose, with Steve Benson, NFB of Illinois president, at her side, with full TV and press coverage, to accept his apology, not for herself but in behalf of the blind community. "This is a victory for us today," she said and sat back to await Mayor Byrne's action.

Mayor Byrne's order was delivered to Louise's last week—a five day suspension of Mr. Paholke's liquor license. We rejoice at the firmness of the lady Mayor's action, and of the blind lady's stand.

We've come a long way, most of us alone and without anyone's support, and we still have a long, long way to go. We are not seeking unearned bread but simply a slice from the whole loaf of everyday justice and mutual respect that everyone in this land deserves. "People just don't do things like that any more!" is the first thing that people say when they hear about this incident. But they do—all too often. So, this week in Chicago we celebrate another small step in the path toward equal treatment.

Mr. Jernigan, I hope we can make all members of the NFB, and all blind people, aware of this victory, so that it will encourage them to take similar action whenever incidents of this kind occur.

Warmly yours,

Elizabeth Browne

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(Editor's note: 1. The following articles appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and are reprinted with permission. 2. "We have some concerns." 3. Our latest information indicates that Sue Ammeter, the former president of our Washington affiliate, is employed as part of the administrative team of the Washington State Commission for the Blind, her title being Assistant/Director Administrative Services.)

Commission for Blind a 'Front'



A profit-making company has been using the State Commission for the Blind as a front while "leasing" thousands of dollars worth of state equipment and a warehouse—free of charge.

Kenneth Hopkins, commission director, admitted to The Post-Intelligencer yesterday that he let the private firm use state-owned restaurant equipment and that the state has not collected any money from it.

The P-I has learned that the firm. Evergreen Food, Sales, Vending and Management Inc., has been storing its products in a warehouse at the Fircrest School for the Handicapped for at least four months while the state paid the bill.

The commission is currently leasing the warehouse from Fircrest for $74.80 a month—far lower than commercial warehouses charge for comparable space.

Xavier F. Timmer, the key officer in the company—who claims to be blind but who has a Washington State drivers' license with no visual restrictions—was a longtime employee of the commission and used to supervise the program from which his company is now benefitting.

Hopkins said he ordered the company out of the warehouse this week after P-I inquiries and "because I found out it's probably illegal."

Yet it was Hopkins who approved the free warehouse use by Evergreen and signed an August 14 agreement with Timmer, allowing Timmer's company to use enough state equipment to operate a full-fledged cafeteria.

The agreement provides Timmer's company with such equipment as steam tables, coffee urns and refrigerated display cases for $20 a month.

Timmer has yet to pay a cent for the equipment, Hopkins said.

"Just because I signed it doesn't mean I initiated it," said Hopkins. "This whole thing is a mess that will have to be investigated."

The commission also received, a bill for $858.95 from the Coca-Cola Co. for paper cafeteria cups the company says it shipped to Timmer's company address in the U.S. Post Office at 2445 Third Ave. S. The Coca-Cola Co. sent the cups in response to a blind commission purchase order.

The bill has yet to be paid, and Hopkins said he knew "nothing about it."

State law prohibits state agencies from transferring their equipment to a private, profit-making company unless the recipient is "infirm or needy" or is a state vocational rehabilitation client.

Timmer, who is running for mayor of Algona in south King County, operates a cafeteria in the U.S. Post Office at Third Ave. S. and Lander St. He set up the Evergreen Corp. last spring with capital raised from the sale of 50,000 shares of stock in his new company.

He told a meeting of blind vendors in September that all stock in the company had been sold.

Before operating the cafeteria, Timmer worked for the blind agency as supervisor of the Business Enterprise Program.

In that position, his duties included supervising and regulating blind vendors throughout the state.

His company now sells wholesale food products to several blind vendors, including vendors who operate the cafeteria at the blind commission headquarters in Rainier Valley.

The P-I contacted Timmer several times yesterday and repeatedly offered him the opportunity to comment on any of The P-l's findings.

He was asked to respond to specific, documented findings as well as general allegations.

He refused any comment, saying, "I'll wait and read it in the paper."

The P-I has also learned that the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle is investigating a federal audit report that says commission property is unaccounted for.

Auditors are also looking into various business dealings of the commission.

A spokesman for the federal attorney conducting the investigation refused to confirm or deny that a grand jury is looking into the commission's problems.

About 80 percent of the commission's money comes from the federal government. Because the commission is a state agency, the state attorney general's office also is investigating. The P-I has learned.

While Hopkins says he has turned "everything" over to the state for its investigation, the state attorney general responsible for the investigation says he doesn't have the resources to conduct the probe.

"All I know is I've had to clean up some of his (Timmer's) mess," said Dave Minikel of the state Attorney General's office in Olympia.

"We'll have to call in an auditor and ask for a full and thorough investigation," Minikel said.

The state has already been conducting an audit of the agency and the report was supposed to be released last month.

Minikel said "by appearance," it's a conflict of interest for the commission to be doing any business with Timmer.

Evergreen was told to move out of the Fircrest warehouse after Minikel checked state law, he said.

"I told him (Hopkins) to move it out," Minikel said.

When asked why the state hadn't investigated the matter earlier—when it was brought to Minikel's attention by a commission employee who was suspended after questioning Evergreen's operations—Minikel said, "I'm not trying to protect anyone. It's very difficult to figure out what's going on."

"We're talking about possible criminal activity," Minikel said. "We don't have the authority to prosecute. That will have to be referred to someone else."

The employee who was suspended for questioning Evergreen's business arrangement with the commission asked Hopkins about the legality of the warehouse arrangement last spring, the director said.

"I said I had no problem with it if it was OK with Fircrest," Hopkins said.

But Fircrest never approved the agreement letting Evergreen use the warehouse leased by the commission, according to Larry Brandon, Fircrest accountant.

"It's against our policy to lease to profit companies," he said.

Hopkins said an inventory is now in progress on all equipment at the Fircrest warehouse.

However, Hopkins refused to make public that inventory or an inventory of equipment when Evergreen first moved into Fircrest.

"Clearly, if I had the information I have now, I would not have taken those actions (letting Evergreen use equipment and the warehouse)," Hopkins said.

He says he never meant to give Timmer, his former employee, a "special deal," adding that he has no financial interest in Timmer's company.



The state Commission for the Blind is barely two years old and its director, Kenneth Hopkins, contends that the troubled agency is merely suffering from growing pains.

But a federal audit completed last month concluded that the commission program could not be evaluated because the most basic information about blind clients and the equipment furnished by the program is missing.

The commission system was introduced by special legislation passed in May of 1977 and the Commission for the Blind became a separate state agency on October 1, 1977.

Before that, state services to the blind were a part of the Department of Social and Health Services, sharing the DSHS budget for the office of vocational rehabilitation.

Since the program has separated from DSHS, its budget has increased from about $2.9 million a year to almost $3.7 million and Hopkins says the number of clients served has almost doubled.

Under the commission system, the director, Hopkins, is hired by a five-member board of laymen that elects its own chairman.

The commissioners are paid $25 a day plus a per diem rate for commission meetings. The commissioners were appointed by Gov. Dixy Lee Ray.

There are 60 staff members employed by Hopkins to run the agency and only four of them administer the Business Enterprises Program that is made up of food concessions managed by blind vendors.

Hopkins says this is the smallest part of the agency's responsibilities, with vocational rehabilitation demanding most of the resources and energies of the commission staff and budget.

The commission is charged with licensing vending stands, canteens and cafeterias operated by visually impaired persons, under the provisions of the Randolph-Sheppard Act, passed by Congress and amended in 1974.

This act provides for the free use of federal buildings, sites and other government facilities as locations for food concessions operated by the blind.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides for federal grants to pay for the state to services for handicapped persons so disabled as to be substantially hampered from finding employment. Almost 80 percent of the state funds for the blind are federal vocational rehabilitation money.

Hopkins conceded in an interview with The Post-Intelligencer yesterday that it is his responsibility as director of the blind agency to serve as an advocate for the blind vendors and to investigate any questionable business practices engaged in by vendors.

He contended that after he received written allegations of illegal and improper activity by blind vendors who are officers of the Evergreen, he asked Assistant State Attorney General Dave to look into the matter.

He said the written allegations were made by the supervisor of the Business Enterprises Program, Lori Engles.

Hopkins suspended Engles after she reported apparent irregularities in the Evergreen Corp. and its officers, Xavier Timmer and Roy Gappert, to him.

He told The P-I yesterday that he did not suspend her for making inquiries on behalf of the blind vendors she serves as head of the Business Enterprises Program, but for the "way she did it."

He declined to offer details, citing his obligation to keep personnel matters confidential.

Although he removed Engles from her job as supervisor of the blind vendors, he said he cannot remove Timmer or Gappert from their jobs as managers of the cafeteria in the post office annex at Third Ave. S. and Lander St. and the canteen in the U.S. Public Health Hospital. He said "they are independent businessmen" and are not on his staff.

However, Hopkins said he has the power to dismiss the vendors if a state investigation into the matter uncovers evidence that they have violated the law.



(From The SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, November 2, 1979)

The state agency for the blind was used to obtain an insurance policy for a private teen club closed by police for serving as a cover for teenage prostitution, The Post-Intelligencer has learned.

The $300,000 policy issued in the state's name for the club was set up by Xavier F. Timmer—one of four financial backers of the club—while he was working for the state Services for the Blind in 1977 as business enterprises supervisor.

The public liability insurance policy—created through the state for blind vendors—covered a club called The Association, operated at 1334½ Second Ave., Seattle, by Peter LeGrow.

Timmer, who is currently running for mayor of Algona in South King County, wrote a letter to Allstate Insurance Co., one of the state's carriers, asking it to include LeGrow's operation "to our public liability insurance."

The letter was written on state Department of Social and Health Services stationery on May 16, 1977.

Allstate issued the policy, Number 07 737 296 GA, effective 12:01 a.m. on the day Timmer wrote the letter.

It provided $300,000 worth of coverage for bodily injury on the premises and covered property damage up to $100,000.

But by late 1977, The Association was closed down by the Seattle Police Vice Squad and LeGrow was convicted of two counts of promoting prostitution out of the club. The conviction later was overturned on technical grounds.

Legislation changing the operation of the agency from the state Department of Social and Health Services was passed in May, 1977, and the Commission for the Blind became a separate state agency on October 1, 1977.

Timmer resigned as supervisor of the new commission's Business Enterprises Program soon after the commission came into existence, but he maintained close ties with the agency through his privately owned food vending and cafeteria corporation as a blind vendor managing the cafeteria in the downtown Seattle Post Office Annex.

At his trial, LeGrow testified that The Association provided "young male escorts" but not for prostitution.

His conviction was overturned two months later when a Superior Court judge ruled that the state prostitution law was "constitutionally vague."

Vice detectives have told federal investigators that they believe furniture found at The Association belonged to the state blind commission.

Missing furniture and appliances were detailed in a recent federal audit, which showed that 13 percent—or $33,700 worth—of all property under the blind business enterprise program is missing.

The audit covered the fall of 1977 through the spring of 1978.

"It may be just because of poor accounting and is not actually stolen," said Kenneth Hopkins, director of the troubled commission.

Calling The Association insurance policy "clearly illegal," commission spokesman Jack Fischer said yesterday commission officials were "shocked" after they found the policy yesterday following a P-I request for the document.

Timmer said:

"If I did it, I assume I thought it was legal. The state didn't pay for it."

Timmer refused to discuss any other aspects of a P-I investigation covering the commission and hung up on a reporter when asked further questions.

Yesterday, the P-I disclosed how Timmer's newly formed company—Evergreen Food, Sales, Vending and Management Inc.—"leased" thousands of dollars of state equipment and a warehouse from the commission without having paid for it.

Even though the lease agreement—contrary to state law, according to the state Attorney General's office—called for Evergreen to pay the commission $20 a month for the equipment, Hopkins said Tuesday the state had yet to receive any money for it.

However, yesterday a spokesman for the commission called The P-I to say the commission had just received a check for $300, covering five months rent on the warehouse that the commission leases from the Fircrest School for the Handicapped.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney's office—conducting an investigation based on findings of the federal audit and other allegations—confirmed some aspects of the federal investigation into the commission.

"We're looking to see whether or not there has been theft and whether one or more individuals are responsible," said Bob Westinghouse of the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle.

Most of the missing property was last seen at the commission's warehouse in Fircrest, The P-I has learned.

Though it was first reported missing in mid-1977, the property has yet to be found.

"We hold the administration (of the commission) responsible," said Dick Corbridge, assistant to the regional director of the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Corbridge said HEW has ordered the commission—which receives about 80 percent of its money from the federal government—to "propose a course for corrective action. There is growing concern for operation there."

In his letter to Allstate requesting the insurance policy, Timmer said The Association's gross—though he did not name the operation—was "approximately $4,000 per month."

City records show that The Association never paid any business and occupation taxes. The club's business license was canceled after one day in April, 1977, city records show.

Dean Sargent, an attorney representing Timmer, said last night "I'm not prepared to comment at this time."



Revelations of how state facilities and equipment were used to benefit a private, profit-making corporation published yesterday in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer triggered a flurry of action including:

Scott H. Lewis, president of the National Federation of the Blind's Washington affiliate, sent the telegram calling for the removal of Hopkins to Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, who appointed the commissioners, and to the commission chairman, Edward S. Foscue.

Lori Engles, director of the commission Business Enterprise Program, was suspended without pay for one week by Hopkins after she began inquiring into business practices of the Evergreen Corporation, a private business operated by two blind vendors that has been receiving goods and services free from the commission.

Engles was also handed her second "personal conduct report," a disciplinary citation alleging that she made unauthorized statements to commission employees about the agency problems.

Minikel corrected a misinterpretation in yesterday's P-I story about the questionable business activities of Xavier Timmer, Evergreen Corporation's key officer and a blind vendor, by explaining that Minikel has not been required to "clean up Timmer's mess."

Minikel said that quote referred to the firing of a counselor by the blind commission director and not to Timmer.

"I wasn't having anything to do with cleaning up his mess—if he has a mess," Minikel clarified.

Engles said she has notified her lawyer that she intends to appeal her suspension from work without pay and the second "personal conduct report" she received from Hopkins yesterday to the state Personnel Board. She charged commission officials with harassing her and impeding her ability to perform her job as supervisor of the state's blind vendor program.

The memos ordered all agency staff to transfer all calls coming in to Engles to him "until further notice" and assigned her to her office "until further notice," forbidding her to leave the building during working hours without written authorization from Hopkins. The telegram to the governor from the state branch of the National Federation of the Blind demanded that Hopkins be suspended immediately, pending a full investigation of the allegations against him. "We have no confidence in Mr. Hopkins," the message continued. "Actions of the commission over the past year have proven to be decidedly contrary to the best interests of the blind. . . . our members who are participants in the commission's Business Enterprises Program have reported commission intimidation of vendors who support the NFB . . . We will not be surprised if further reports of commission wrongdoing are forthcoming."




The chairman of the state Commission for the Blind was accused of "an apparent conflict of interest" yesterday by the head of the state affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind.

Scott Lewis, president of the state chapter of the federation, said that Commission Chairman Edward S. Foscue may be in conflict of interest because he administers a college program that receives its funds through the commission he heads.

As a result, Lewis said, Foscue "may be inhibited in initiating actions to suspend, demote or fire" the commission's director, Kenneth Hopkins.

"Hopkins could cut that funding and Foscue would lose his job," Lewis charged.

Lewis said that Foscue also may hesitate to take disciplinary action against Hopkins because Hopkins' wife works for Foscue as his top assistant.

Foscue, who is the $21,000-a-year administrator of the Seattle Central Community College Program For The Blind, called Lewis' charges "rather ridiculous."

He said that as chairman of the Commission for the Blind, "I couldn't hire or fire Ken Hopkins" without approval of a majority of the four other commissioners.

"I would vote only in case of a tie vote," Foscue said.

He said that all federal funds to programs for the blind in the state—including the program he administers—are funneled through the commission.

The college program he administers receives "under $100,000 a year," he said.

Foscue said that Hopkins' wife, Mary Jacoby, receives "around $19,000 a year" as manager of the college Program For The Blind.

He said that he took over as administrator of the program in December, 1976, and that Jacoby was hired under "standard procedures before I joined."

He said her employment began in January, 1977, after she responded to an advertisement placed by the college's personnel department.

She was selected from among the three top candidates for the job by the former director of the program for the handicapped at the college, Stan Traxler, Foscue said.

"She happens to be highly qualified for the job," Foscue said.

Pressure from Jacoby and her husband and the threat of lost program funding could compromise Foscue's obligations as commission chairman, Lewis said.

As one of the five commissioners, Foscue receives a $25 per diem and expenses from the state for attending commission meetings.

Neither Jacoby nor Hopkins was available for comment on Lewis' charges.

Jack Fischer, public relations spokesman for the commission, said Foscue's job with the college program was examined during confirmation hearings for his appointment as commission chairman by the state Senate Committee on Social and Health Services.

He said the committee "was satisfied there was no conflict of interest."

The commission members were appointed by Gov. Dixy Lee Ray.




Many of the state's blind food vendors have accused Xavier F. Timmer, key officer of Evergreen Food, Sales, Vending and Management Inc., of misrepresenting his relationship with them to get special deals for his private profit-making company.

For instance, vendors allege that Timmer, who has a state-licensed blind vendor operation in addition to his private food services company, lied about his company's relationship with other vendors to get low-cost group health insurance for the company.

Timmer, who holds a Washington state driver's license with no medical restrictions, once headed the Business Enterprises Program of the state Commission for the Blind that supervises the state's blind vendors.

Early in September, the blind vendors of the state received a letter from Timmer telling them that he had obtained a group health insurance policy for them with King County Medical Blue Shield.

There was only one problem with the deal—the blind vendors, all operators of their own businesses, would have to say falsely that they were employed by Timmer's private company, Evergreen Inc., to be eligible for the group coverage.

"I don't work for Evergreen and I'm not going to lie about it in order to get insurance," declared George West, the blind vendor who manages the King County Administration building cafeteria.

The group policy Timmer obtained for his Evergreen corporation, Blue Shield policy Number 15790, is described by the insurance company's Donna Merrill as "the Cadillac of our group health plans."

"It is a group policy only and to qualify you have to have more than five employees," Merrill said.

Blue Shield sales representative Orin Peterson said the policy issued to Evergreen covers six persons, "supposedly all employees of Evergreen Inc."

Peterson added, "If we were to find out that someone misrepresented their connection to Evergreen Inc. to us we would cancel the policy."

The P-I has learned that two of the six "employees" covered by Evergreen's group policy are independent blind vendors and not employees of Evergreen.

The two insured vendors, Dick and Janet Sage, said they were assured that they didn't have to be employees of Evergreen Inc. to qualify for the group insurance.

Peterson told The P-I yesterday that Blue Shield is not authorized to negotiate a statewide contract for group health coverage.

"If Timmer invited all the blind vendors in the state to enroll in the policy, that's not legitimate. Furthermore, if he intended to enroll some 40 persons, that would change the requirement as to percentage of membership.

"His policy requires about 75 percent of his eligible employees. For 40 vendors, that's a lot more than six," Peterson said.

Confronted by blind vendors complaining that they were refused coverage unless they lied about being employed by Evergreen, Timmer defended his action by saying the insurance company officials told him they require only "a loose association" of persons.

Timmer offered to hire the blind vendors for $1 a month to correct the misrepresentation, but they angrily declined.

Timmer defended his action in obtaining the group insurance for his private company by using the blind vendors as a membership base by saying King County Medical Blue Shield officials told him they required only "a loose association" of persons who use "a single booking system."

All of the state's blind vendors are self-employed. They hire their own workers and support themselves from the profits of cafeterias, snack stands or canteens.

They are permitted to use the facilities of the government for their food vending locations, usually free of charge. The equipment for their restaurants is furnished by the state Commission for the Blind.

Timmer manages one of the largest blind vendor concessions in the state, the cafeteria in the downtown Post Office Annex at Third Avenue S. and Lander St.

Some of the state's blind vendors have asked the state Commission for the Blind to investigate Timmer's efforts to negotiate vendor's agreements with large companies because they suspect he has been using the vendor's group as a springboard for obtaining lucrative contracts for Evergreen Inc.

A blind vendor in Richland who tried to participate in a special wholesale offer on cups for his canteen in the federal building said he was advised by the cup company that he'd have to buy cups through Timmer.

"I feel that if Timmer is negotiating under the Vendors Corporation and using all the vending stands to obtain a buying price, that is wrong and Ken (Hopkins) should do something about it," declared Keith McMullen, the Richland vendor.

Hopkins, director of the Commission for the Blind, is under investigation by the state auditor, the U.S. Attorney General, and the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare for questionable business practices of the agency, thousands of dollars of missing vendor equipment and unexplained use of agency funds.

Hopkins contends the problems can be explained as mistakes by a new staff trying to organize a commission that became an independent state agency only two years ago.

However, state officials told The P-I that Hopkins has been director of the state's blind services for the past four years, beginning on April 15, 1975, when the agency was a part of the Department of Social and Health Services.

Timmer's letter to the blind vendors of the state notified them that Evergreen Inc. had negotiated a vendor's agreement and distributorships with several large soft drink and restaurant supply firms.

"We have also secured a group health insurance policy with King County Medical which provides lower insurance rates to all our vendors," the letter said.

Timmer mailed the vendors a copy of his agreement with Pepsi-Cola-Seven-Up Bottling Company of Seattle stating clearly that to qualify for concession prices each vendor "Must have a minimum of seven (7) different locations."

Blind vendor George West told The P-I that the state commission does not allow blind vendors to have more than one vending location each.

"To participate in this deal we'd have to lie about how many locations we have," West protested.

Economics Laboratory Inc., a national distributor of cleaning products with headquarters in St. Paul, Minn., which Timmer said had licensed him as a distributor, wrote an open letter dated September 12, 1979, disavowing any agreement with Timmer.

When confronted by vendors at an Issaquah vendors convention in September with the Economics Laboratory disclaimer, Timmer promised to mail out a letter correcting his false claim.

Neither Timmer nor his attorney, Dean Sargent, were available for comment on Timmer's actions in connection with the Blue Shield policy or the reported agreements with soft drink, paper products and cleaning products companies.

Many blind vendors, angered at what they interpret as an effort by one of their own to exploit them for personal gain, have demanded that the commission take action against Evergreen Inc.

Instead, the director of the commission's Business Enterprises Program, Lori Engles, was suspended without pay for a week by Hopkins for making inquiries on behalf of blind vendors into the business practices of Evergreen Inc.

Engles has hired a lawyer and filed a grievance with the State Personnel Board.


Legislative hearings on the State Commission for the Blind will be held in Olympia, probably within a month.

Rep. Joe Taller, R-Seattle, co-chairman of the House State Government Committee, said yesterday that committee staff investigators are assembling information on the commission's operations.

"We don't have a date set for the public hearings, but we hope to hold them within a month," Taller said.

House Co-Speaker Duane Berentson requested the hearings in the wake of disclosures by The Post-Intelligencer that state property controlled by the commission was used by a private company run by a former director of the commission's Business Enterprises Program.

The P-I also disclosed that the former director, Xavier F. Timmer, obtained a state liability insurance policy intended for blind vendors for a private teen club in which he had a financial interest.

The club was closed by Seattle vice investigators as a cover for prostitution.

Co-chairman of the State Government Committee is Rep. Wayne Ehlers, D-Yakima.

Investigations into the commission's operations reportedly are also being conducted by the U.S. attorney, the state auditor and the state attorney general's office.

The P-I investigation also is continuing.



(From The SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, November 13, 1979)

State auditors have reported that the director of the state's blind vendor program two years ago gave himself a loan of $3,000, more than triple the size of loans given to blind vendors.

The auditors said that such a loan by the custodian of the fund to himself appears to be a conflict of interest.

A spokesman for the state Commission for the Blind told The Post-Intelligencer that the director of the program, Xavier F. Timmer, was not in conflict of interest because he dated a letter of resignation one day before he received the loan, Sept. 14, 1977.

But a check with the state Department of Personnel indicates that Timmer resigned Oct. 7, 1977, three weeks after he received the big loan from the fund he administered.

Timmer's attorney, Dean Sargent, conceded the audit report gives "the appearance of being in conflict of interest, but I suspect he (Timmer) was planning on leaving the program and had bid on a vendor's concession."

"There were no misconduct reports on Timmer as a result of this audit," Sargent said.

The auditors, in a confidential report on the first examination of the books of the Business Enterprises Program last year, criticized the Timmer loan for being in arrears at the time of the audit.

Nine months after Timmer received the money, the six-month loan of $3,000 was only slightly more than half paid.

Furthermore, the auditors said, "with one exception, all the other operator loans were for less than $1,000."

Jack Fischer, spokesman for the commission, told The P-I, "We feel the amount is in keeping with the funds required to open such a large operation."

Timmer became manager of the cafeteria in the federal Post Office Annex at Third Ave. S. and Lander St. when he left the commission as director of the BEP.

Start-up loans to blind vendors are routine, Fischer said. Timmer, now a blind vendor, holds a Washington State driver's license with no medical restrictions.

Timmer fell behind in his payments when early business in the cafeteria wasn't up to expectations, Fischer said.

Fischer said a repayment plan for Timmer was established and he was given an extension on the loan of five months.

Sargent declined to comment about the unusual size of the loan state auditors said Timmer made to himself, but Sargent pointed out that it is not uncommon for someone to be unable to make loan payments on time.

Lori Engles, who succeeded Timmer as supervisor of the BEP, said the money was recovered by the BEP by deducing quarterly payments from vending machine income sent from the Post Office Annex directly to the BEP before that machine income was redistributed to the blind vendor.

Asked why that procedure wasn't used sooner to keep Timmer's loan account up to date, Engles said:

"I don't know. I wasn't employed there at the time. As soon as that audit was made I notified everyone who owed us money and set up a regular system of collection. Before that I didn't have the bookkeeping help to bring it to my attention and I wasn't aware of it."

She said that during her first five months as supervisor of the BEP, she doubled as a field counselor for the blind vendors. "We were extremely short of help," she said.

The auditors also charged that between October 1, 1974, and June 30, 1977, the program supervisor made several personal loans to vendors and paid some travel expenses and payroll charges from the vendor's revolving fund.

Xavier Timmer was fund custodian as supervisor of BEP from October 25, 1976, to October 7, 1977, according to state personnel records.

The auditors noted that using state money to make personal loans is a violation of the state Constitution. They said the $528.38 paid out in payroll and expense charges was a violation of state law.

The Commission for the Blind conceded the impropriety of both practices and promised to pay the fund back.

However, when the auditors criticized payment of contract labor out of the vendor's fund, the commission defended the action because the money was used to pay for repairs of vending machines.

The auditors strongly recommended that the commission's accounting unit take over the operation of the blind vendor's revolving fund which was being administered by the BEP, which had no accountant. Fischer told The P-I this recommendation has been acted upon. "That has been done. While, basically, they (BEP) still write the checks, they have to clear it with our financial officer," Fischer said.

But Engles, who administers the BEP funds, challenged that statement.

"We divide the duties of writing checks, receipts, recording disbursements and reconciling bank statements between members of the BEP staff and we still don't have an accountant," she said.

"The whole thing should be transferred to the commission accountant, but Hopkins(Kenneth Hopkins, director of the commission) simply hasn't responded to this recommendation, although I have repeatedly asked for it.

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Those of us who listen to very much radio or television these days have been inundated with the popular refrain, "Fly the Friendly Skies of United." Most American air travelers are probably caught up in the upbeat words and music and assume the refrain to be true.

I wonder, though, how many air travelers would regard it as particularly friendly if, at the beginning of each flight, an attendant, speaking in a cheery and friendly voice, were to announce something to this effect:

"Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen. As you know, in the interest of safety, FAA regulations require that all carry-on items must be stowed during takeoff and landing. Therefore, since our only concern is for your welfare and the welfare of your fellow passengers, the eye glasses of all who wear them must be taken away by us, since they might become "flying missiles" in case of a crash. The handbags of all women must be taken, since they, too, might become missiles. Any wigs and hairpieces must be taken. Bibles must be taken from the laps of ministers and books and magazines must be taken from those who have them. Hearing aids must be taken from those with impaired hearing since they will become missiles, too. Thank you for your cooperation. Remember, our only concern is for your welfare. Have a pleasant flight."

Ridiculous? Absolutely! Reasonable? Absolutely not! A far-fetched analogy? Not really! What is the difference between these ludicrous examples of "good safety practices," and United's recently-established practice of confiscating the white canes of blind air travelers? I submit that there is none!

As most Federationists know, for approximately the past year and one-half United has, with varying degrees of consistency, been confiscating (or attempting to confiscate) our canes. Sometimes the flight crews have buckled, and sometimes we have knuckled under. We have been subjected to harassment, humiliation, verbal abuse, removal from flights, refusal to board flights and general inconvenience. Beneath it all, however, our constitutional right to travel as first-class citizens with all the dignity and respect which that implies has been denied us.

As with other critical civil rights issues in which we are involved, there comes a time when a firm stand must be made, no matter how unpleasant, no matter how embarrassing or costly the experience might be.

On Sunday evening, September 16, Jim Gashel and I had the opportunity to take such a stand and, as a result. United Airlines had us arrested for insisting that we had the right to carry our canes.

It went like this: Mrs. Omvig, Mr. Gashel and I had traveled to Columbus, Ohio that weekend to attend a meeting of blind vendors. The Sunday meeting was successful, and we headed for home. In the boarding area, pre-boarding was offered and we declined. We were told that "the regular folks" would board a little later. Mr. Gashel allowed as how we'd be glad to board with "the regular folks."

Once on the plane, the real hassle began. We were fed the usual line, "It is federal law that your canes must be taken from you." We told the attendants we knew the federal law, and we also knew of United's policy which is, threaten us, shame us, scare us, brow beat us (my words, not theirs), and then leave us alone. Ultimately the pilot said he didn't care about rules, that "he" made the rules on that plane, and that we would either give him our canes, get off the plane, or he wouldn't fly.

To cut a long dialogue short, we didn't, and he didn't. Therefore, he called the local police onto the plane and had us placed under arrest. (I should add here that the police officers were most reluctant to obey the pilot's command.) Nevertheless, we were arrested, given our rights, booked, had our FBI records checked, and detained for about 2½ hours. We waited in vain for the FBI to come. Then, we were told that United had failed to file formal federal charges, and we were released.

I suppose that United Airlines regrets the actions of its pilot, and is hoping against hope that this deplorable action can simply be ignored and that the problem will go away. If so, United is dead wrong. At the time of the writing of this article a major lawsuit against United Airlines is being prepared. Our D.C. affiliate president, Paul Kay, is well acquainted with a high official of the Edward Bennett Williams law firm of Washington, D.C. This firm is regarded as one of the most prestigious in America. We will bring the suit on the basis of personal injuries such as false arrest, false imprisonment as well as on the basis of our constitutional right to travel, and I am confident we will win. United's own policy is to threaten, to harass—to do everything short of arrest or physically removing us from planes—in an attempt to seize our canes.

As I said, there comes a time when we must all stand firm on critical issues if we are to achieve our goal of first-class citizenship, and we did stand firm. This case affords us the best possible circumstances upon which to base our right to travel unhampered.

The oldest line in the world which is used in an effort to rationalize discrimination is, "our only concern is for your welfare." Brick by brick and millstone by millstone we shall tear down this false logic, and we shall never go back.

P.S. Another blind person just happened to be on that same flight. He was pre-boarded, we were not. He was placed in a bulkhead seat, we chose to sit where we wished. He meekly surrendered his cane, we did not. Therefore, he rode, we were arrested. And who could this blind person be? Who else but Durwood McDaniel of the American Council of the Blind. A former ACB president once said, "I shall never ask you to join me on the barricades." Although one can only feel pity for the maker of such a statement and the philosophy which it implies, how true it is, how true it is.

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As most people who care about such things know, the magazine Psychology Today is now available in Braille through the National Library Service. Usually it has very little to say about the disabled—particularly, the blind. When it does, our problems are rarely treated as those of a minority. Rather, they are handled in terms of the clinic or the couch.

Exception occurred in the August, 1979 issue. Two articles appeared under the collective title "Handicapped Lib." Kathleen Hagen (an active Federationist from Minnesota and a person particularly interested in women's issues, as well as a broad spectrum of other social concerns) read and took note. In an October 2, 1979, letter to me, she said:

"I was rather insulted by such cavalier handling of the subject, so I wrote them a letter. It's interesting that now that disabled people are willing to admit, at least on some level, that disabled people are speaking out for their rights, that they now lump us under one category and assume we all have the same needs. I guess it just proves our work isn't done yet."

Ms. Hagen 's letter to Psychology Today points up again the increasing involvement of Federationists in matters affecting them, and their readiness to speak out:

Minneapolis, Minnesota
September 19, 1979

To the Editor
Psychology Today
New York, New York

Dear Psychology Today,

I am writing in response to the two articles lumped together in the August issue of Psychology Today under the flippant and rather discounting title: "Handicapped Lib." John Gliedman brings up many excellent points in his article, but he lists a whole variety of physical handicaps and talks about a whole variety of problems having nothing to do with wheelchairs under the subtitle: "The Wheelchair Rebellion." I also objected to Gliedman's assumption that the "disabled rebellion" was new with the 1970's.

I am totally blind and belong to an organization which now consists of well over fifty thousand activist blind consumers. Our organization is entitled The National Federation of the Blind, and we have been around organizing, protesting, educating, and raising public awareness of the rights and capabilities of blind people since the early 1950's.

One of the main problems that all groups of disabled people face is the uniform silence, at least until recently, imposed by the press on our struggles for independence. The press seems to feel that stories about the poor, helpless handicapped as victims of society make much better copy than stories of capable handicapped women and men fighting for their own rights and dignity. Your own magazine represents a good case in point.

Two years ago I did some research and wrote a paper for a psychology class on the kind of literature available to disabled women concerning their sexuality, and the attitudes of rehabilitation professionals concerning their sexuality. The psychology professor was impressed with my paper and my research and he suggested that I get it published. I revised the paper into an article, and Psychology Today was the first magazine I submitted it to. The answer from your editorial department was that it was very interesting reading, but that it would only have appeal for a "special audience" and would not interest your general readership. You suggested that I submit it to a magazine more specialized in the area of rehabilitation and the disabled. I followed your advice and submitted it to a magazine which publishes the latest research dealing with rehabilitation.

Their response was very revealing. They said that they would only publish articles which would be of help to experts in the field of rehabilitation. This answer implies, along with most of my research by the way, that the sexuality of disabled women is of negligible concern to professionals and public alike, if indeed they believe that such sexuality exists at all.

And now that Psychology Today has decided to give some space to "the rebellion of the disabled", you've come to some rather extraordinary conclusions. You assume that most of the work of the disabled is done in coalition. While this is true of such major issues as Supplemental Security Income, which affect a major proportion of the disabled population, there are many issues within each disability which are quite different and specific. The reason that these problems cannot simply be handled under one conglomerate can best be explained by pointing to another example from Kleinfeld's article in your own magazine. It is unfortunately true that while we deal with the attitudes of the public-at-large that the disabled are helpless, we also have to deal with our own attitudes about disabilities that we don't happen to have. The example Kleinfeld quoted about the blind man applying to be a janitor is a case in point. The first reaction of the placement counsellor, disabled herself but not blind, was that there was no way that he could do the job because he would have no way of knowing whether the floor was clean or not. Probably, if you had asked her about her own disability, she could have cited you alternative ways to do the job, but when faced with another disability her first thought was that the job was impossible. Conversely, blind people would be far less apt to see insurmountable problems concerning janitorial work and the blind, whereas that same blind person might have trouble conceiving of that job being done by a person in a wheelchair.

It is then, in the best interests of blind people to work on issues that are important to them because they are blind. We can certainly give support to such issues as accessible housing, but this is not a problem of direct concern to blind persons because our barriers are mainly not physical ones. Our barriers are mainly attitudinal ones put up by the public who insist on defining our limitations in their own terms.

While you talked about the fact that the Washington, D.C. transit system is accessible, it was not mentioned that this is mainly true because a group of disabled people chained themselves and their wheelchairs to the construction site while the system was being built. This happened after the city planners initially refused to make allowances for an accessible transit system in their budget.

While it was mentioned that the F.A.A. passed legislation in 1977 to halt refusals by some airlines to fly disabled passengers, it was not mentioned that one airline in particular has consistently discriminated against blind people who fly using long canes which do not fold. These canes can be easily stored underneath the passenger's seat, but flight attendants with United Airlines are consistently instructed to take these canes away during take-offs and landings, the times when most emergency landings would take place and when we might need them the most. You did not mention the mass demonstration in front of the F.A.A. building in Washington. D.C. on July 4, 1978, by more than a thousand blind persons protesting such practices.

Such large omissions in articles concerned with "handicapped lib", as you call it, only point out this continued attitude, even by the liberal press, that we only make strides for independence through the benign and compassionate concern of people who want to help us.

I just want to point out in closing, that many points in your articles were excellent. While I am glad that you have finally decided to take notice of the issue at all, it is just a very small step in the right direction, and we all have a long way to go.

By the way, you would have received this Letter to the Editor much earlier, but the braille issue of Psychology Today is consistently a month behind schedule. This, of course, means that we often cannot be included in your survey samples regarding the issues that you send questionnaires out about. If we complain of this slowness to the Library of Congress, (the main place from which all braille magazines come), we would be told that we should be grateful to be receiving the magazine at all. Just a small sample of the problems we face every day in obtaining our independence.


Kathleen Hagen

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(Editor's Note: Mrs. Walhof chairs the National Hike-A-Thon/Bike-A-Thon Committee.)

Could the National Federation of the Blind hold hike-a-thons and bike-a-thons in 50 or more cities throughout the country all on the same day? The evidence would indicate that this is possible. The benefits to us from such an event are exciting indeed. A hike-a-thon or bike-a-thon is blind people, working together with friends and neighbors in their own communities, raising money and helping everyone—young and old—learn the truth about blindness; a project of fun and teamwork for all. Sore feet, sunburns, weeks of planning, publicity for the organization, raising funds and everything else that go into hike-a-thons and bike-a-thons pay off and help others remember the National Federation of the Blind as an organization that speaks and works for itself.

The National Federation of the Blind Treasury is beginning to receive contributions sent by states as a result of bike-a-thons and hike-a-thons they held. During 1979, at least seven state affiliates held an event of this kind and all are planning to do it again. The people who were involved in planning and carrying out hike/bike-a-thons are all agreed on one thing: It was worthwhile. All believe they will do a better job the next time around.

I asked members of the state affiliates that held hike-a-thons and bike-a-thons to write down the highlights of what they did and send them to me. I believe that MONITOR readers want to know our experiences throughout the country. Several other states have expressed interest in hiking and billing and can build on the experience of the pioneers of 1979.



The second annual Bike-A-Thon of the Des Moines Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind occurred on Sunday, May 20th. Pizza Hut Restaurants served as check points and served free cold drinks to riders and workers. Our Bike-A-Thon began and ended at the State Capital and consisted of three loops in different parts of the City. The total route was 45 miles, but riders could ride one, two or three loops as they chose and as long as they lasted.

The YMCA cycle club participated in this Bike-A-Thon, also. Many of the hardiest riders were cycle club members.

Other NFBI Chapters sent riders to Des Moines to ride. We found that this was an effective way of involving the entire state affiliate in our Bike-A-Thon.

One Chapter decided to do it's own Walk-A-Thon later in the summer and raised several hundred dollars, with only a few members walking.

Iowans have had a lot of things to do this year. We are still excited about the possibilities of our Bike-A-Thon, both as a fund raiser and for public education and community awareness. Many of our members are enthusiastic cyclists themselves and we have found that a dozen or so tandem bicycles with blind folks on the back and sighted folks in front add a special dimension to our Bike-A-Thon.

We are making a sizeable contribution to the National Treasury as a result of our Bike-A-Thon, and we invite other Chapters to join us in 1980. It's easier the second time around, and we are already making plans for our third annual Bike-A-Thon.


One Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts has held walk-a-thons annually for several years and has much experience to share. This year Massachusetts expanded its Walk-A-Thon. This is what Phil Oliver wrote:

Seven Chapters of the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts worked together on three separate Hike-A-Thons which occurred Saturday, September 29. Each of these Hike-A-Thons was developed separately in the cities of Fitchburg, Springfield and Boston. The three complimented one another, yet they differed in many ways.

Two Mayors in the Fitchburg area proclaimed September 29 as National Federation of the Blind day. The Boston Red Sox network and other media gave excellent press coverage before and on September 29.

People who plan hike-a-thons must deal with weather problems. This year it rained torrents on September 29, but we hiked anyway. We know the rain hurt our Hike-A-Thons. Nothing could destroy them. Our turn-out was small, but more than 120 people were tough enough to hike through sheets of rain.

Two of the routes were circular; the third was not. In one city local civil defense units helped. Various groups assisted us in the three cities. All of the seven Chapters that participated are enthusiastic about what occurred (in spite of the rain) and believe that in 1980 our Hike-A-Thons will be bigger and better than ever.

At the time of the writing of this article, we do not yet know the exact amount of money we will be able to send to the National Treasury, but it will be a substantial contribution.



The Denver Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind held a Bike-A-Thon on May 20th along the Piatt River bike trail. About 25 cyclists rode 10 miles and back again along the scenic and peaceful route. National Federation of the Blind merchants served refreshments at check points including 7UP which was donated by the company.

We think we learned a lot. The 1979 Bike-A-Thon was not a big money-maker for us, although we did all right. We have already begun plans for 1980 and feel we know a great deal more about what to do than we did last year at this time. One of the most important things we plan to do better is recruit riders. We want as many as possible. We had good cooperation from bike shops, the 7UP Company and a great many others. We believe it's impossible to reach too many people. And all are eager to learn about a bike-a-thon planned by the blind.



The Kansas City Community College in Kansas City, Kansas, was the location of a Bike-A-Thon held by the Kansas City, Kansas Chapter of the NFB on May 20, 1979. Riders rode back and forth on the mile long route as many times as they could. Our group of riders was small, about twenty-five. Nevertheless, we felt our Bike-A-Thon was a big success. It was, because every member of the Kansas affiliate is now eager and enthusiastic to enlarge the effort in 1980.

At the NFB Convention in July, our Chapter contributed $500 raised by our Bike-A-Thon to the NFB Treasury. Next year we feel certain the amount will be much greater.

On Saturday, July 16, we had an awards dinner and presented trophies to riders. The youngest rider, the oldest rider, the rider who raised the most money, the rider who rode the farthest and the rider who got the most sponsors each were presented with a trophy. Of course, this was an excellent time to begin the groundwork for a Bike-A-Thon in Kansas City, Kansas in Spring.



On May 19, 1979, the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan held its first annual Hike-A-Thon. It was, by any standard, the most successful and most ambitious fund raising project we have ever attempted.

In December, 1978, Larry Posont and other Federationists from throughout the nation gathered in Baltimore to begin learning the procedural aspects of organization for a hike-a-thon. The mere logistics of planning and hosting a hike-a-thon seemed complex; but, like most other things, once we had become determined to hold a hike-a-thon, there would be a way to succeed. The first major item was to get the support of a well-known business, which would be interested in sponsoring the hike-a-thon with our affiliate.

We approached Pizza Hut as they had been working with some NFB affiliates in other states. We were delighted to find that Pizza Hut was not only willing but most anxious to sponsor our Hike-A-Thon. Pizza Hut paid virtually all printing costs and incidental expenses related to the distribution of literature and the publicity. In addition, Pizza Hut held a party for all Hike-A-Thon participants following the day's activities.

There were many dimensions to holding our first Hike-A-Thon. Some things we did quite well, while others were less than outstanding. On the whole, we are pleased with the outcome and have learned sufficiently to avoid many of our mistakes and oversights. One of the things we did well was raise more than $3,500.00, about 85% of the pledges. We decided on a single location for the state where local chapters would all participate together. Significantly, Pizza Hut is a business found throughout Michigan, and therefore chapters from all cities can get the benefit of cooperation from their local franchises. This is an excellent opportunity for public education, and what could be better than to involve people directly in both a fund raiser and a public awareness event.

Our State Hike-A-Thon Chairman, Larry Posont, held an organizational meeting the third weekend in November. We have set our date for May 18, 1980, which is during White Cane Safety Week, and have already begun to make plans with Pizza Hut for the Hike-A-Thon. We look forward to a bigger and better Hike-A-Thon in 1980, and years to come. We look forward to sending larger contributions to the National Treasury as a result of each annual event.



The National Federation of the Blind of Lorain County Ohio is a small Chapter which serves an area with several small and medium-sized cities with lots of farmland between. Our 1979 Bike-A-Thon on May 20 had 25 and 50 kilometer alternative routes, which took riders into the countryside on a beautiful spring day. The riders enjoyed the trip. Although only eleven people rode in this Bike-A-Thon, we were able to send a check in the amount of $500 to the National Treasury as a result of our Bike-A-Thon. We think this is a good beginning.

We established a good working relationship with four local Lions clubs. For the first time in their long years of "helping" the blind, they were working with blind people, doing what we need to have them do, and seeing that we were able to organize and carry out our plans. We also got a good bit of PR mileage out of the project. One large newspaper gave us good coverage, and one radio station gave us a half hour interview to talk about our programs and philosophy. We talked to lots of high school students who were entranced with our movement.

But we will do some things differently in 1980. We will have one 25 kilometer loop which people will be encouraged to to ride twice if they think they are up to a 50 kilometer trip. This will enable us to staff all checkpoints ourselves and leave driving the route and running messages to the Lions. This will enable us to have more blind people riding bikes.

We will also try to hand more of our brochures to people personally, rather than counting on having them picked up. We will do more talking to groups and start sooner so that they know that our Bike-A-Thon is coming up. Our competition is strong here, but we will do better in 1980. The whole project was lots of fun and an easy way to give the public a good idea of what we stand for.



Johnny Unitas was the Honorary Chairman of the Walk-A-Thon held on October 21st, by the Baltimore Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. He, Arlene Gashel and Bob Gibson (representing Gino's Restaurants) made a handsome trio in the picture on the front of the Walk-A-Thon brochures. More than a hundred people walked the 18 kilometers (11 miles) and went home with tired feet to collect the money pledged by friends and neighbors.

Gino's Restaurants served free soda pop to walkers and workers and three of our check points were located at Gino's locations. The many Gino's Restaurants in the Baltimore area helped distribute Walk-A-Thon brochures prior to the day of the walk.

The Headquarters of the Maryland Historical Society also served as a check point on the route of the Walk-A-Thon and this organization was helpful to us in many other ways.

The Walk-A-Thon began and ended at the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore. Micky Fin, of WFBR Radio, volunteered his time as MC for the day. He distributed prizes to some walkers who finished and provided entertainment. Many walkers and workers found that they were looking at themselves on TV that evening and in the newspaper the next day. At least three television channels and two newspapers covered the event.

The route was laid out like a crooked figure eight, one loop circled through downtown Baltimore, the other passed by the new National Center for the Blind and Fort McHenry. The Steering Committee Chaired by Bill Munck dealt with 15 departments of city government and 5 separate police districts. We received compliments from the City on the day of the Walk-A-Thon because everything moved smoothly and people conducted themselves so well.

Preparing for this event was a lot of work, but the committee feels that work was very productive. The first year is the hardest. In time the Baltimore Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind plans to raise thousands of dollars with this event. Already a great many people have learned much about us.

The Hike/Bike-A-Thon Committee wants your suggestions, recommendations and help. You have just read about the experiences of seven states in hiking and biking. If you have specific questions or have faced problems with this type of event, do not hesitate to write me, Ramona Walhof, at NFB Headquarters, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. If your Chapter or State affiliate is making plans for a hike-a-thon or bike-a-thon, please let me know about your plans and the results of the event.

1979 was the beginning, and a small beginning at that. In 1980 we must decide what we want to do with hike-a-thons and bike-a-thons. If we decide to work toward a national event, there is reason to believe we can do it. If we decide that each Chapter should continue to do it's own thing, nothing is lost.

We must now decide whether or not to proceed in this direction. I have confidence in the National Federation of the Blind. No other organization that I know has the kind of commitment among its members that we have. No other organization of any kind is moving ahead as rapidly and effectively as we are. If any membership organization has the capacity and the need to structure a national event of this kind, it is the National Federation of the Blind.

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Reprinted with permission of the WALL STREET JOURNAL, copyright Dow Jones Company, Inc., 1979, All rights reserved.




(From The WALL STREET JOURNAL, October 17, 1979)

In its sponsors' eyes, the Winter Glow Ball each December in the wealthy seaside community of Rumson, N.J., is "the most glamorous event of the season." No doubt one of the pleasures of attending, besides sampling the well-stocked bar, dancing to an excellent orchestra and observing the elegant ball gowns, is the warm glow that comes from the knowledge that one's dollars are going to a worthy cause—in this case the Monmouth Association for Retarded Citizens.

But after the ball is over and the fun-seekers go home, the association returns to running a serious business, with a net worth of $1.3 million, including $579,000 cash on hand. Management sustains this successful operation by working hard to hold down costs. Perhaps too hard.

Treatment of blind workers in some "sheltered workshops" was discussed in two articles in January. This article deals with the working conditions and low wages of other handicapped workers at some other workshops.

One of the association's principal activities is running the Work Opportunity Center in Long Branch, N.J., where 150 mentally or emotionally handicapped men and women toil on an assembly line turning out automobile parts, toys and other goods, which the association sells to private industry. Wages at the center start at 10 cents an hour, and in 1978 (the latest figures available) about half the workers were getting less than 40 cents an hour—just about enough to cover their bus fare and a modest lunch.

There isn't any doubt many of these handicapped workers would have a difficult time selling their services on the open market. But at the Long Branch workshop management apparently took pains to hold down their wages even more by deliberately setting unrealistically high productivity standards on which pay scales are based, according to present and former supervisors at the workshop. (Bruce Koeningsberg, the executive director, wouldn't answer questions of reporters or allow them in the plant.)

Paying wages below the $2.90-an-hour minimum is perfectly legal in this case. So-called sheltered workshops were authorized by Congress to help create jobs for the handicapped. Under the law, a handicapped worker's productivity is supposed to be measured against the average output of "normal" workers, and his pay is set commensurately. Thus, if nonhandicapped workers earning $5 an hour could regularly turn out 100 widgets an hour, and a handicapped worker could only turn out 50, the handicapped worker's pay should be $2.50 an hour. Any less would be illegal.

But some supervisors say the Long Branch facility misused the formula by inflating the standard of "normal" output for its handicapped work force to compete against. They say that before the Labor Department inspectors came to check, a contest was held among the supervisors to see who could do the prescribed work fastest; the winners were chosen to perform for the government men.

"Watched Like Hawks"

"See who can do the most—go as fast as you can," Debbie Schnell, a social worker at Long Branch, says she was told. Elaine Johnson, a production supervisor there until last August, says, "It was all a secret from the Labor people. Our bosses would stand over us . . . and watch us like hawks as we did it (the assigned work) for, say, 10 minutes—as fast as we possibly could." By multiplying this rate, the workshop derived the average hourly productivity for a "normal" worker, she says.

The tactic apparently worked, for Long Branch's Work Opportunity Center still is in good standing with the Labor Department, and at last report it was still receiving the more than $500,000 a year it has been receiving all along from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, part of the growing taxpayer contribution of $200 million a year to workshops across the country.

As for the 150 handicapped workers, the center paid them a total of $52,706 in fiscal 1978, according to the association's annual filing with the New Jersey attorney general's office. That is less than the $57,043 expense budget for the Winter Glow Ball, which brought the association a net of $108,921. The association, which is raising money for a new rehabilitation center, also pays as much as $10,000 a year to reimburse expenses of its chairwoman. Countess Roberta Buxhoeveden, of czarist nobility.

Productivity Principle

But perhaps one shouldn't judge the Long Branch factory too harshly. Such zeal in holding down wages of the handicapped is widespread in this little-known but fast-growing field.

Some 200,000 handicapped Americans, five times the number a decade ago, are currently at work at 3,500 farms, factories and shops that have been certified to pay disabled workers according to productivity only. Some are private businesses run for profit, but most are at least nominally non-profit organizations. Many operators obviously are committed to helping the handicapped and are doing their best with limited resources.

And Labor Secretary Ray Marshall attributes much of the wage problem in workshops to an influx in recent years of mentally disabled people, who are generally less productive than those with physical handicaps.

Workshop managers themselves have long asserted that efforts to rehabilitate large numbers of minimally productive workers are a drag on wages. But that doesn't account for the pervasive pattern of illegally low wages across the country. "In many cases having a workshop certificate is interpreted as a license to pay workers whatever you want to pay," one HEW official contends.

In interviews, Labor Department officials say they don't know how many workshops pay illegally low wages, because the department has manpower enough to inspect only 3% to 5% of the sites each year. But officials say the department finds substantial wage violations at half to two-thirds of the sites it does inspect, and compliance officers in the field say that the frequency of violations is even higher. Many sites have never been inspected at all.

Donald Elisburg, assistant secretary of labor for employment standards, says that as a result of information recently brought to his attention, he is going to give the workshop industry a greater share of the 80,000 inspections his office can make each year (under various laws, it regulates five million businesses).

"I was surprised at the extent to which there are violations, and I think we need to put more resources into the sheltered-workshop side of it," he says. "I am not comfortable with that kind of compliance level with establishments that are supposed to be assisting workers who need special help. It's been too long since they've had a close look."

Many people in the workshop industry agree that wage violations are widespread, though few concede that the violations are deliberate. "We're dealing with a very complex maze of (Labor Department) regulations that make it hard to follow the letter of the law," says Harry Clements, who served nearly four years as executive vice president of National Industries for the Severely Handicapped, a five-year-old organization designated by the government to help workshop obtain government contracts. "I doubt that you'll find a large number of cases where there is intentional exploitation," Mr. Clements adds.

When the Labor Department finds violations, it occasionally requires an employer to pay some retroactive wages. Sometimes it merely settles for a promise of future compliance. Penalties aren't ever assessed, and certificates have never been revoked. Moreover, many disturbing situations apparently don't even constitute violations.

Disparity in Pay

At Goodwill Industries in Atlanta, an epileptic assembles cardboard boxes under a subcontract from Mead Corp. He can make 1,000 boxes a day and gets 1¾ cents a box, or about $2.19 an hour. Alongside him, nonhandicapped workers under the Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) produce only about 300 boxes a day, but get $2.90 an hour.

Goodwill says CETA wages come from special federal subsidies, and so it pays them without the output standards that apply to the handicapped.

At Custom Manufacturing Services in Louisville, a stroke victim in her 20s began boxing hardware parts for 10 cents an hour in an "evaluation and training" program. In two years she worked her way up to 86 cents an hour. Last year, she and others were laid off in a budget cut. But they were told they could keep their jobs if they would go back to "evaluation and training" at 10 cents an hour.

(This would benefit Custom Manufacturing, which gets a state subsidy only for workers in "evaluation and training" for up to 18 months. Custom Manufacturing says the evaluation and training program is considered entirely separate from the "regular" workshop, that it takes in the best-suited people and that their wages might improve quickly if they produce well.)

Declines a Pay Cut

The young stroke victim, who moves around on leg braces, declined the pay cut. So Custom hired other "trainees," and she is out of work. But she says she has overcome troubles before. "People kept telling me they didn't think I would ever walk," she says. "I showed them."

The Kentucky Council for Retarded Citizens Inc., which runs Custom Manufacturing, also sells the services of handicapped workers to various contractors, charging far more than it pays the laborers. For example, Jefferson County (which includes Louisville) pays the council $30,000 a year for a mentally handicapped janitorial crew. The council pays the crew a total of $12,000 a year in wages. It pays the supervisor, Charles Hammond, $7,000 a year. It keeps the rest. Until recently, the crew had six men who averaged $2,000 each, working six-hour days.

After inquiries by this newspaper and other complaints, the average was raised to $3,000 by lopping two men off the crew and increasing the workload of the others. But Mr. Hammond and Harvey Lacey, the assistant building manager for the county, both say the handicapped workers perform "every bit as well" as the $7,600-a-year regular county janitors.

If much of the sheltered workshops' money doesn't go to the workers, where does it go? Sometimes it is used to provide services for other handicapped persons who don't work in the shops. Sometimes it is rebated to the businesses buying the products, in the form of low prices that can't be matched by other suppliers or by in-house employees. Sometimes it goes to build charity empires that enhance the prestige of socialite sponsors.

A Firetrap in Brooklyn

Many handicapped workers, meantime, have to put up with filthy and hazardous work sites in addition to sweatshop wages. A retired New York City fire captain says one big workshop in Brooklyn is a firetrap where hundreds could die; handicapped workers on the second and third floors must negotiate steep wooden stairs and passageways littered with cartons. Leonard Weitzman, president of the vocational rehabilitation center in Pittsburgh, says he has visited some "terrible physical plants." At one Iowa plant, he says, he told the directors, "I dare you to use that bathroom!" None did.

One manufacturer of wood products in Leona, Texas, Robert J. Dyer, got a workshop certificate as a nonprofit organization without ever qualifying as such with the Internal Revenue Service, as required by law. Mr. Dyer mostly employed mentally handicapped black youths, some no older than nine or 10. Morris Jennings, a Labor Department inspector, visited the factory last year.

"The hours shown on pay records were falsified and bore no relation to the actual hours worked," Mr. Jennings found. "There are indications that many of the young employees have been injured while illegally employed," he observed. "One witness will even testify that the boys were hit with a board when they refused to work," he reported. And Mr. Jennings heard one shop superintendent vow, "I'll make those niggers produce."

In short, according to compliance officer Jennings, "This is not actually a sheltered workshop. This is simply a pallet manufacturing plant with a built-in source of cheap labor." Ultimately, Mr. Dyer's workshop closed—not by action of the Labor Department but after a federal judge ordered children off the place.

Operator Disputes Findings

Mr. Dyer disputes the compliance officer's findings of mistreatment, but acknowledges that he operated for three years without qualifying for nonprofit status, as the law requires. He also says that he chartered buses to take the children home at Christmas and that he let them make long-distance calls to parents or relatives. He adds that he tried to provide a healthy environment for the handicapped children and to instill good work habits. He claims that the government harassed him but that parents of the children didn't complain.

Nancy D. is a retardate in her 20s who assembles ballpoint pens for 20 cents an hour at the Staten Island, N.Y., Rehabilitation Center. Her father, a corporate sales manager, says, "It would take me some time to be as adept at it as she is. She doesn't count well, but with her fingers she's very quick." He says the wages are unfair—but he still sends his daughter to the workshop every morning. Otherwise, he says, she couldn't work at all. For many poorer workers, who often are referred to workshops by state agencies, the only alternative would be commitment to an institution.

Mental disability, of course, doesn't necessarily prevent people from performing certain jobs just as well as nonhandicapped people. Mrs. Johnson of the Long Branch work center remembers supervising workers who packaged felt letters to be ironed onto bowling shirts. "It's fairly complicated," she says. The workers had to select the proper letters, insert instruction cards and tag and staple the bags. Mrs. Johnson estimates that she could turn out 200 bags a day. Some experienced handicapped workers could produce 300 on their best days, she says. The piece rate, she says, was one cent a bag.

Handicapped workers have proven themselves particularly adept at artificially inseminating turkeys. A successful private company, known variously as Hill Country Farms and Henry's Turkey Services, employs 170 emotionally or mentally handicapped people in six Midwestern and Southern states to catch turkeys, extract sperm from the males and inject it into the females. By company figures, the disabled workers have a role in producing a major share of the nation's turkey crop.

Chasing Turkeys

"I don't know if you have ever chased turkeys, but it's quite an undertaking," reported William Henderson, a member of the Labor Department's Advisory Committee on Sheltered Workshops in 1977 (the committee has since been abolished to save money). But, he said, "retarded individuals, once they have achieved the physical conditioning necessary, do an admirable job of running the turkey down and catching it."

The workers, who do general farm contract labor as well, live in bunkbed dorms formerly occupied by braceros. After fees for room and board are deducted, they often get less than $10 a week, much of which they spend at the company store. One worker, there 16 years and entrusted to drive a tractor, says he gets $65 a month.

According to the transcript of the 1977 advisory committee meeting, Dean B. Settle, executive director of the Kansas Elks Training Center for the Retarded, in Wichita, concluded that the employment of disturbed people to artificially inseminate turkeys is "one of the all-time questionable activities." But Arthur H. Korn, a senior Labor Department official at the meeting, said the department found nothing illegal in the turkey operation. And to a reporter, the workers appeared happier and healthier than many he had seen at factory jobs.

Thurman Johnson, manager and 49% owner of the operation, says he thinks it should serve as an example for other businessmen of how the handicapped can be profitably employed while saving the taxpayers the cost of institutionalizing them.

With their low wages, the shops attract plenty of contracts from the government and from private industry. Often the only close bidding competition comes from other sheltered workshops. Some unscrupulous businessmen help keep wages low by playing off one workshop against another.

Shopping for Cheap Labor

Bert S. Hendricks, a retired lumber manufacturer who heads an association of workshops in the Northwest, says some contractors "will go from shop to shop to try to get the price beat down." Many workshop directors lack the business sense to stop them, he says. He emphasizes that many large corporations, such as Boeing Co., deal fairly.

Competitive suppliers in private industry—some employing the handicapped at the minimum wage or better—obviously have to charge more, and they therefore lose contracts.

Private companies that have complained to the government about this include: Rose Wiping Cloths Inc. of Columbus, Ohio; Community Window Shade Co. of New York City; John Schwimmer & Co., a Raleigh, N.C., pillow manufacturer; Barrier Industries Inc., a Port Jervis, N.Y., floor-wax concern; Mill Sanitary Wiping Cloth Corp. of New York City, and dozens more. But their complaints have been to no avail.

There are two noteworthy ways that workshops keep the pay low, using the Labor Department's own formulas. One is to set normal productivity impossibly high, as supervisors allege in the Long Branch instance. The other way is to estimate the commensurate wage in private industry unrealistically low.

Workshops are supposed to survey their areas to document the commensurate wage for each job. Often, however, they simply adopt the $2.90-an-hour minimum as a competitive criterion instead of the $5 or $6 an hour that private employers are actually paying for such work. A labor official says that one workshop administrator had a friend at the state employment service who routinely certified that the minimum wage was the prevailing wage for any job. Other workshops are said to get wage-rate confirmations from the same businesses that buy their products and thus profit from the low-priced labor.

Arbiters of Fairness

The fairness of piece rates is often certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. A majority of CARF's board members are rehabilitation administrators, some of them connected with workshops. CARF's opinion often is accepted by federal and state agencies to qualify shops for government programs that provide both money and handicapped workers.

Alan Toppel, executive director, says CARF wouldn't approve a workshop if illegal pay were indicated. But he acknowledges that CARF relies on the "honor system" and accepts the workshops' own studies without verifying them.

The honor system isn't very honorable, says Roy E. Sutz of Greenwood-Sutz Associates, Glenview, Ill., a consulting firm that has studied more than 100 workshops in the Midwest. "It's a matter of record and a whispered joke among workshops," he says, "that CARF approves workshops even though they are in flagrant violation of Department of Labor regulations." Mr. Sutz says he can cite examples of his visiting workshops "approved by CARF only to find jobs rated at 1,200 to 1,500 pieces per hour, where it would be impossible for Superman himself to do more than 250."

Mr. Toppel replies, "I don't even know the gentleman. I don't know what his problem is. We would never approve a program that is in violation of any law."

Administrators' Performance

Last winter, blind workers struck California Industries for the Blind, of Monterey Park, Calif., forcing administrators to finish a job for a private defense contractor. While handicapped workers had to assemble 120 bomb parts an hour to earn $2.90, sources say, the fastest administrator, an accountant, could assemble only 75.

Minnesota is one of the best-paying states for workshop employees, but when Marijo Olson, assistant commissioner of the Department of Economic Security, posed as a mental patient last year to see what the shops were like, she averaged less than $2 an hour boxing egg decorators. More impressive, she says, was seeing the effect of these wages on the co-workers she befriended. "If you cashed out all the worldly goods they have, you wouldn't have $100," Miss Olson says. "They have a few outfits to wear, occasionally a radio, a few nickel-or-dime store things to put on the shelf." The Department of Economic Security says it now is negotiating with workshops over new rules to improve conditions.

Stirred by complaints from officers in the field, the Labor Department last year sent a senior official, Victor Trunzo, on a six-city inspection trip. It won't release his findings. But this June it did finally send Congress a 351-page report prepared in 1977 based on interviews in 1976 at 600 workshops.

Labor Department Report

Among the findings:

—About 12% of the workers had disabilities that didn't interfere at all with their work performance, yet they averaged only $1.37 an hour—40% less than the minimum wage at the time. Another 21% were hampered only "slightly," and yet they averaged only 96 cents an hour.

—Average employee earnings in the workshops increased only an indicated 6.5% from 1968 to 1976, despite inflation and a 44% increase in the minimum wage.

—More than one-fourth of the better-functioning workers' evidently were being paid less than the law requires, based on the workshops' own productivity ratings for each worker.

When government agencies do act, they often seem to be at cross-purposes, from the workers' standpoint. For example, Labor Department officials help justify extremely low wages by usually referring to the workers the way the workshops do—not as employees but as "clients" or "patients," who are receiving a small stipend while undergoing rehabilitation. This also helps cover the industry's frequent failure to pay workmen's compensation or Social Security benefits.

HEW's Standards

But the Department of Health, Education and Welfare insists that the workshop employees be treated just like any other employees for aid purposes. Therefore, they may lose the supplemental Social Security income that many handicapped persons are entitled to.

In almost every state, this loss automatically triggers a cutoff of other benefits, most importantly Medicaid, which handicapped persons need badly due to their unusually high medical bills. HEW says it cuts off benefits when a person earns $189.40 a month ($1.09 an hour), or $284.10 a month for a couple (82 cents an hour for each spouse). Accordingly, workshop administrators often contend that a pay raise would only hurt the worker.

Meanwhile, the $200 million that HEW contributes in "training fees" and grants to the workshops every year serves to fatten the workshops' budgets but rarely the workers' pay envelopes. The same could be said for loan money from the Small Business Administration. For example, the Union County Vocational Workshop in Monroe, N.C., got a new building with such money although recently more than half the work force was getting less than 20 cents an hour in wages.

In Mississippi last year, an HEW audit found that a state agency that channeled federal money to workshops was taking kickbacks from them of up to 40%. The agency then was using this money as 20% matching funds to parlay its total of federal cash. The audit didn't identify the workshops involved.

The Committee for Purchase From the Blind and Other Severely Handicapped, the federal agency that presides over $80 million a year in government purchases from the workshops, says it doesn't regulate them. And unions have been thwarted in attempts to organize the shops.

Charity donors can't do much policing, either. But the United Way of Clallam County, Wash., recently knocked the local workshop, Diversified Industries Rehabilitation Services, off its gift list. It said that the officially nonprofit organization was making a substantial profit, paid less than the minimum wage and was guilty of what United Way president Mary Lee Long calls "many other questionable practices" concerning finances. Diversified, which recently was listed as the seventh largest employer in the county, denies its practices are questionable.

Many of the profits accumulated by workshops around the country clearly are spent in good faith on projects designed to help other handicapped persons who don't work in the workshops—which doesn't make things any better for those who do.

In Long Branch, for example, profits are being accumulated to build a new rehabilitation center along the Garden State Parkway in Wayside, N.J. (HEW also is being called on to chip in taxpayer dollars.) But the new site is inaccessible by public transportation, and thus, critics say, worse for the workers than the present one. Says Barbara Wardell, president of the Monmouth Federation of Teachers, which represents social workers at the association, "We would rather see the workshop improved and the clients paid something decent and honorable."

Workshops for Blind Now Receiving More Attention


Since two Wall Street Journal articles on "sheltered workshops" for the blind appeared in January, the workshops have drawn increasing attention in newspapers and on television.

Also, the National Federation of the Blind, citing the Journal articles, petitioned Labor Secretary Ray Marshall to guarantee blind workers the federal minimum wage. The department held hearings in June, and a decision is expected this fall.

In New York, State Sen. Franz S. Leichter investigated workshops mentioned in the Journal articles and said he "confirmed a serious pattern of exploitation and abuse." His bill, calling for a minimum wage for most blind workers, is currently before the legislature.

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The Massachusetts affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind held its 26th annual convention during the weekend of October 5 through 7, and all present agreed that it was a spirited and important convention.

Spirited it was because of the very large attendance with 234 people registering and more than 280 at the Saturday night banquet. Reports of chapter growth, not only in numbers but in depth of commitment as well, and Dr. Jernigan's accounting of progress at the national level and his banquet address renewed our enthusiasm and concern for the organization.

The importance of this convention for the Massachusetts affiliate derived from the actions taken by the organization and the reactions to them. Several resolutions were passed, including an emergency resolution concerning the upgrading of library services in the Commonwealth. The affiliate was able to increase its PAC contribution by more than one hundred dollars per month, and a great deal of time and energy was devoted to the Minneapolis Society for the Blind confrontation. Elections were held and the following constitutional officers were sworn in by Dr. Jernigan: President, Al Evans; First Vice President, Phil Oliver; Second Vice President, Priscilla Ferris; Recording Secretary, Sharon Strzalkowski; Corresponding Secretary, Cecile Paice; Treasurer, Edward Murphy; Legislative Officer, Mike Hingson; and Sergeant-at-arms, Ray Wayrynen.

We were especially honored by the presence of Governor Edward J. King on Saturday evening. This was a first in Massachusetts and surely a sign that the National Federation of the Blind has grown in credibility and power, and is beginning to be recognized as the voice of the blind in this Commonwealth.



Wisconsin's fifth annual convention brought Federationists from Minnesota and Wisconsin to Madison October 12-14. Our national representative, Jim Gashel, contributed much to the weekend's success. Early arrivers saw old friends and made new ones Friday evening.

Saturday's full agenda began with Jim Gashel's national report about court progress in vending issues and other current matters. A panel on employment made up of the DVR-Bureau for the Blind employment specialist, a rehabilitation counselor, and two employed Federationists stimulated much discussion.

In the afternoon Carl Williams gave an overview of the programs of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation—Bureau for the Blind. State regional librarian, Mary Leon Miller, informed us of new NLS developments and Wisconsin's computerized record keeping. Steve and Nadine Jacobson of Minneapolis, discussed the background of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind situation. Many Wisconsinites made PAC pledges over the weekend. Jim Gashel's banquet speech inspired us to deeper commitment to the movement. The banquet concluded with an exciting, fund-raising auction for the state treasury.

Sunday morning after chapter reports, a resolution supporting a separate agency for the blind was passed. NAC-tracking in Oklahoma City was discussed, followed by elections. Officers are: President, Sister Sue Micich, Milwaukee; First Vice President, Kathleen Sullivan, La Crosse; Second Vice President, Kathleen Crowley, Milwaukee; Secretary, Sue Breunig, Madison; Treasurer, Carolyn Northrup, Milwaukee; and Board Members, Bob Raisbeck, Wausau; Cindy Lien, Madison; Pete Howe, Green Bay; and Bernadette Krajewski, La Crosse. Without a doubt, this was Wisconsin's most enthusiastic, successful convention yet!



The convention was held on October 5, 6, and 7, at the Holiday Inn in Hempstead, N.Y. Friday evening we were treated to a wonderful Hospitality room by the Greater Long Island chapter—our hosts.

On Saturday we welcomed James Omvig who gave us an excellent report on National legislation that was in process for the benefits of the blind. We also participated in a panel discussion on the library services available to us in the State of New York. We welcomed Ms. Audrey Smith, Acting Associate Librarian, from the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in our State Capitol, Albany, N.Y. She, along with three other librarians from the local New York City area pledged continued support and improved service.

The bulk of Saturday afternoon was taken up with panel discussion related to the poor wages paid to the blind in sheltered shops. State legislation which is needed to remedy this situation, and a discussion with Martin O'Connell from the New York State Commission for the Blind on needed services for the blind.

James Omvig was the speaker at our banquet and as always spoke with enthusiasm which left us inspired to work harder to build our organization.

On Sunday morning we had an election of State officers. Our President Sterling France was voted in for a second term. We now have David Stayer as First Vice-President. David Walker continues as Second Vice-President. Rita Chernow continues as our Treasurer. Ellen Robertson was voted in as our new secretary. Mr. France and Mr. Stayer were elected to serve as delegate and alternate delegate to our National Convention respectively.

Our Convention ended Sunday afternoon after discussions on our Resolutions, the Legislative and Treasurer's reports, and final business. I assure all it was a most enjoyable and informational experience for all those who attended.


The National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania had its annual convention at the Host Town Hotel in Lancaster, during the weekend of October 20, 1979. The fact of our ever-growing strength as an affiliate was demonstrated by the media coverage over the weekend. Not only did we have several television and radio interviews prior to the convention but we had radio and newspaper coverage throughout.

We began on Friday evening with statewide committees meeting throughout the Hotel.

The general session began following an early morning hospitality meeting in the President's Suite. Welcoming remarks by local dignitaries including the Mayor of Lancaster and state senator Richard Sneyder preceded a report from our national representative and chief of our Washington office, Jim Gashel. Jim summarized the progress of our national movement during the last year in the areas of human rights and legislation including the progress of our minimum wage legislation. Before the noon adjournment, Mr. Ralph Beisline, Commissioner of the state office of the Visually Handicapped spoke on the current funding of the department and the level of services. Despite Mr. Beisline's somewhat glowing report, discussion following Mr. Beisline's comments revealed that services are declining in quantity and quality and that the Office for the Visually Handicapped has not complied with Section 504. In light of this information, a resolution was then passed to look into the non-compliance. The afternoon session on Saturday began with the election of state officers and board members. The officers elected were: President—Arthur Segal from Philadelphia; First Vice President—William James Hairston from Philadelphia; Second Vice President—Joe Phillips from Erie; Secretary—Terry McManus from Pittsburgh; Treasurer—Wayne Kerstetter from Lancaster. Board Members elected to serve a two-year term were: Earl Jackson from Pittsburgh and Mildred Kochik from Indiana, Pa. Elected to a one-year term was Ethel Siegal from Philadelphia. Completing the Board is Shirley Trexler from Philadelphia, currently serving a two-year term.

Following the elections, a discussion of a recently won court case sponsored by the NFBP regarding benefits for those living in Pennsylvania and receiving SSI was held.

Pat Comorato concluded the afternoon session with a discussion and update of the Section 504 laws and how they should be implemented.

The Saturday evening banquet found some 150 participants enjoying a Pennsylvania Dutch banquet. Highlighting the evening's activities was a stimulating and informative talk given by Jim Gashel. A charter of affiliation was given to Carl Kochik, President of our new Indiana Chapter. PAC plan pledges were increased and donations were received.

The Sunday morning session was devoted to a business session.

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Federationists do not give up in their reach for independence, equality, and security. Although many states fund college students through their rehabilitation agencies, some do better than others. College students can get aid through state and national NFB scholarships. College-bound students should contact their local chapters and state affiliates for more information.

This year (in addition to the Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship and the Charles Albert Kuchler Scholarship) something new is being added. In her will Dr. Isabelle Grant left $35,000 to the NFB as a perpetual scholarship fund. The will states: "The interest from said sum shall be used for annual scholarships for blind female students for education at the college level, said fund to be known as the Hermoine Grant Calhoun Scholarship.'' Interest rates being what they are, two very excellent scholarships can be offered at next summer's convention. Each scholarship will be in the amount of $2,500. To be eligible for consideration, the applicant must be female and must be attending (or planning to attend) a college or university.

The Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship, awarded by the National Federation of the Blind, is an annual grant of $1,200 presented at the NFB National Convention. 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 any of these scholarships, 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 are the eligibility requirements and instructions for the Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship:


The scholarship 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 scholarships that have been discussed in this article, you must: (a) be sponsored by the state affiliate where you are going to school or 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. You must fill out the application completely and return it to the Reverend May by June 1, 1980.

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1 cup flour
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp curry
1 tsp old bay
1 ½ cups oil
25 pieces of chicken

Soak chicken over night in salt water (using 1 tbsp salt to 1 cup water). Drain chicken. Mix flour and seasonings. Heat oil to 350°. Dip chicken into flour and cover each piece. Place chicken into hot oil. Cook about 30 minutes. Turn as needed.

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The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) of the Library of Congress is looking for braille readers to help determine the usefulness of grade 1 (uncontracted) braille.

Beginning January 1980, NLS will conduct an experiment in grade 1 braille by producing the monthly magazines National Geographic and Children's Digest in uncontracted braille. Grade 2 braille editions of these two magazines will continue to be distributed.

The grade 1 editions of the magazines will be circulated free to all participants in the experiment. Those wishing to participate should contact their braille lending library or Processing Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Washington, D.C. 20542.

Robert Hunt, who has ably served for many years as President of the NFB of West Virginia, did not seek reelection at the 1979 West Virginia convention. He was replaced by Richard Porter, who gives promise of being an active and energetic leader. Bob Hunt has made many contributions to the movement and will doubtless continue to do so in the years ahead. At the 1978 Kentucky convention Betty Niceley, one of the long time leaders of the affiliate, succeeded Jack Duncanson as President. Jack has served with dedication for the past year. Betty will be an energetic and active President. At the time of this writing (late October) both Betty Niceley and Dick Porter are scheduled to attend a leadership seminar which is about to begin at National Headquarters.

The price of the Handbook for Blind College Students was incorrectly printed in a recent issue of the Monitor. The price was listed at $2.00; the correct price is $2.25.

From: Dr. David Ticchi
90 Elery Street, #11
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Dear Editor:

Enclosed is an abstract of my doctoral project, completed in 1976 at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. I would appreciate it if it could be reviewed or mentioned in an issue of the Braille Monitor. One of the major goals of the project was to make the information available to blind people; a notice in the Monitor could be of great help in this regard.

From Dr. Ticchi's Abstract:

Can a blind teacher successfully function in a classroom as a teacher of sighted students in a public school? Since I am myself blind and a teacher in a public school, this question has a clear personal and professional relevance to me. Both my personal experience and a variety of printed and statistical information indicate that the answer to this question is, in fact, yes. The purpose of this project is to produce an answer to the question in a medium that will reach a broad audience. . .

Despite progress in gaining acceptance as teachers and in overcoming legal barriers to their entrance into education, the blind still remain a human resource which is not being fully utilized by the educational system.

In an attempt to solve this problem, I produced a 23-minute 16mm. color film. This film shows my teaching and functioning in the classroom at Day Junior High in Newton, Massachusetts. It demonstrates the ability of a trained and competent blind individual to perform the tasks required of a teacher in a public school classroom. By making such a film and then by showing that film to administrators, I hope to convince them that blind individuals should be considered as valid candidates for teaching positions and should be evaluated on the basis of their training and competence, not on the basis of their blindness.

The short-term evaluation of the film was accomplished by showing it to a group of public school principals and by administering a brief questionnaire which probed their attitudes toward the feasibility of public school teaching as a career option for blind individuals, based on the experience of viewing the film. Their responses indicated that the film did convince them that the blind can function in the public school classroom. In the long run, the value of this project can be determined only by the degree to which it reaches a broad audience and convinces them of this fact.

The thesis is now available in print, Braille, and cassette. Print copies, including a complete transcript of the sound track of the film, are available from:

University Microfilm
300 North Zeeb Road
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106

Cassette recordings, including the sound track of the film, are available from:
Massachusetts Association for the Blind
Communications Center
200 Ivy Street
Brookline, Massachusetts 02146

Braille copies, when completed, will be listed in Braille Book Review and will be available from the National Library Service of the Library of Congress. The film is available for sale, rental, or preview, in 16mm. or video cassette, from:

International Film Bureau, Inc.
332 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60604

The Catholic Universe Bulletin, Cleveland, reports in its September 28, 1979, issue:

"Two blind young men are enrolled in classes at Borromeo and St. Mary seminaries. Pat Nicolino is a first-year student at St. Mary, and Greg Chinn is a third-year student at Borromeo Seminary College."

John Knall who sent the article writes:

"The Catholic church has a number of priests who have become blind. We believe these are the two first blind men to be enrolled in Catholic Seminary."

An announcement from IBM:

On November 2, 1979, the IBM Corporation announced the Audio Typing Unit which is a voice output for the IBM Mag Card II, Mag Card/A and Memory Typewriters. For the first time, a blind person can be certain that the typed material is error-free and letter-perfect. No longer will the blind need sighted assistance in proof-reading, revising or performing any of the special formats of a typed document, thereby enabling the blind secretary to become totally independent and self-sufficient.

When proofreading, the voice output will pronounce in words everything that has been typed into memory, giving spelling and punctuation. It will facilitate statistical typing by telling you the numbers at which the margins and tabs are set. It will let you know how much information will fit on the page and when it is at the end of a ribbon.

If you choose, you can set the machine in the Keyboard On mode in which it will say every letter that is stroked, being very beneficial to a new typist. When revising or typing rough drafts or confidential material, you can depress the Print Off key and not use any paper. You can depress the Print On key when you are ready to play out the final copy.

Utilizing this device will create many hiring opportunities for the blind secretary. If you are presently employed and using any of the above IBM typewriters, please contact your local IBM Office Products Sales Office for further information in either New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Austin, or San Francisco. In New York, you can call 212-223-3527.

From David Robinson

The NFB of Pennsylvania has captured the spirit of the Federation in song and is making it available to all Federationists throughout the country. Members of the Pennsylvania affiliate have recorded 18 well-known songs and have them available in a stereo album or on mono cassettes. Having initially made this recording available at the National Convention in Miami, we would like to continue the spreading of this recording throughout the country so that each Federation member has an opportunity to have this record in his or her home.

Songs that you are very familiar with such as the "Battle Song of the NFB," "We're the NFB," "Don't Take Our Long White Canes," "Bringing in the Thieves," "Old MacDonald Had a Shop," and the ever-popular "Workshop Blues." The reverse side of the album cover tells the story.

Albums and cassettes may be ordered by contacting the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania, 1701 Walnut Street, Suite 702, Philadelphia, PA 19103 or by calling 215/963-9666. Stereo albums are $5.00 each while mono cassettes are $6.00 each. Each order should be accompanied by payment plus $1.00 for shipping and handling. State or chapter presidents may inquire about selling albums and/or cassettes on consignment.

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