AUGUST, 1981








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."






by Kenneth Jernigan

by Kenneth Jernigan



by Nell Carney

by Kenneth Jernigan



by Kenneth Jernigan




by Sharon Gold

by Rick Belz

by Dave Hyde

by Nell Carney


Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1981



One day last fall as I sat in my office, the telephone rang. It was not one of my usual callers. It was William Gallagher, Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind.

He told me that he understood there were to be pickets at the American Foundation for the Blind the next day and that he wondered whether they were from Baltimore or locally inspired. I told him (in about as unresponsive an answer as anybody ever gave) that they probably thought they ought to be there. He asked me whether I knew of any way to call them off. I told him I didn't. He said that it all seemed so negative. I told him that the people involved probably thought it was extremely positive—in fact, the most positive thing they could do in the circumstances.

In this context Mr. Gallagher then said that he would like to get together with me to see whether we could resolve some of the problems which seemed to exist in the field.

As Federationists know, that meeting occurred. It took place at my office in Baltimore in December. I pointed out to Mr. Gallagher that the NAC people (if they were to be consistent and honest) would surely frown upon his action in visiting me in view of their so-called "Policy Statement" adopted late in 1979. It will be remembered that they said in part: "NAC does not recognize the present national NFB leadership as a responsible influence in the provision of quality services." Yet, here was Mr. Gallagher, the leader of the agency which provides (and which has provided for more than a decade and a half more than 50% of NAC's budget, sitting in my office and suggesting that the Federation and the Foundation make an alliance. He said that the very fact that he had come was evidence of his good faith. I told him that there was another way to look at it. He might be feeling desperate because of the problems (financial, moral, and legal) facing so many of the agencies. He might feel that the Foundation's leadership among the agencies was slipping and that the Federation had become so strong that he needed to try to make alliances.

Of course, he could try to work it both ways: If I had refused to meet with him, he could then have said that he had gone the extra mile and that the Federation leaders (in their usual irresponsible way) would not even agree to talk with him. He said he hoped I had more faith in his integrity than that. I responded that I had complete and absolute faith in his integrity—which is to say, I didn't think he had any at all.

In such a promising atmosphere and on such a happy note our conversation continued. I pointed out to Mr. Gallagher that NAC had repeatedly said that we were opposed to quality services for blind people and that we did not favor high standards for the agencies. I told him that he knew this was not the truth, and he agreed that he did. I further told him that we were not willing to discuss areas of possible agreement until we could deal with some of the activities on the part of many of the NAC-accredited agencies which border upon criminal (or very nearly criminal) behavior. I pointed to recent Monitor exposés and said that some of the actions set forth (actions very often carried on by NAC-accredited agencies) were not in the realm of ordinary negotiation or mere differences of opinion.

We talked for several hours and agreed that we would meet again in January. We did, this time each of us bringing one other person along. The meeting occurred at Mr. Gallagher's office in New York. Then, we held a larger meeting in Baltimore. Eight Foundation staff members and eight Federation leaders met for a day and a half March 20-21, 1981.

At the March meeting I chaired during the first half day, and Mr. Gallagher chaired in the afternoon. Since the AFB-NAC people are often fond of saying that Federationists take all of their cues from one leader and cannot act independently, I thought it might be interesting to put the matter to the test. After some preliminary remarks I announced that we were going to divide up and go into separate rooms for an hour on a one to one basis, one Foundation representative and one Federation representative. I thought it might be worthwhile to let Foundation staff members have a chance to talk privately and individually with Federationists and to see which group functioned best in the absence of its chief spokesman. I think the experiment was productive and worthwhile.

In the afternoon some of the Foundation representatives began by trying to talk about the misdeeds of the Federation, while others wanted to put aside points of disagreement and see whether we could find areas for concerted action. We brought them back to our original points—namely, that we were simply not willing to discuss such matters as block grants, funding of residential schools, positive publicity, and similar matters unless we could have assurances that the Foundation would help us work to eliminate the criminal and near criminal acts now being perpetrated by a number of agencies in the field. Particularly, we pointed that the Foundation provides more than 50"7o of NAC's budget each year and that NAG has engaged in such unethical and unprofessional conduct that the Foundation cannot avoid some responsibility in the matter—as long, that is, as it continues to give financial and moral support to NAG. We said that if NAG could be taken out of the political arena or (since it was so tarnished) if it could be completely eliminated and we could start over with accreditation, we would be glad to try to reach cooperative agreements and working relationships across the board. We said we were not then (and that we never had been) interested in war or hostility. We would prefer peace and joint effort. However, it would have to be on terms of equality, not with the blind as wards or mere instruments for carrying out agency policy.

One almost got the feeling that, perhaps for the first time ever, some of the Foundation staff began to see our point. The Foundation representatives said that they would like to spend the evening talking among themselves to consider what we had said. We agreed to meet the following morning, which we did.

There was further talk of the type which had taken place the day before, but there seemed some relaxation and reaching out for understanding. We agreed that Mr. Gallagher would make a sincere effort to get NAG out of the political arena. We agreed that Federation literature would be sent to Foundation staff members and that they would be encouraged to read it. We agreed that the Foundation would send us literature and that we would encourage its reading. We agreed that Mr. Gallagher and I would each write an article and send it to the other for publication. So that no one would have an advantage, each of us would mail our article to the other on Friday, May 15. His article would be published in the Monitor without change, and mine would be published without change in the Foundation Newsletter.

We of the Federation left the meeting hoping that progress might be made. The Foundation staff seemed to us to be divided, part of it wanting to maintain the old negative, hard line, and the other part beginning to have new perspectives. As a final agreement, we said we would meet again some time early in August for further discussions.

During the next week Mr. Gallagher was in Washington and called me. He said that he had talked to the NAC leaders and that they had indicated a willingness to begin to de-politicize their activities. Later in this issue of the Monitor you can see what all of this meant. Further, Mr. Gallagher said that he would like to have me meet with Otis Stephens, the President of NAC. I told him I was willing to do this. Again, the results of that meeting will become apparent when you read the documentation which follows.

Certain other things concerning the meetings with the Foundation deserve comment: Under date of March 9, 1981, Mr. Gallagher distributed what he called a memorandum "to the field." Since my contacts are fairly widespread, I received Mr. Gallagher's memo just about as soon as anybody else got it, but I did not receive it from him. When I mentioned this at our March 20 meeting, he said (and another Foundation staff member backed him up) that he had certainly sent me the memo and was sorry if I had not received it. I did, indeed, receive it from Mr. Gallagher—but only after the meeting was over. The postmark was March 18, long after others (including me) had copies in hand. The postmark and the timing speak for themselves.

Under date of March 23, 1981, Mr. Gallagher sent another memorandum "to the field." It contained interesting admissions—more, perhaps, than Mr. Gallagher realized—things which we had been saying for years and the Foundation had been denying. The memorandum is as follows:

March 23, 1981

TO:  The Field

FROM: William F. Gallagher
              Executive Director


As was announced in my memorandum of March 9, a team of eight American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) staff persons and eight representatives (staff and leaders) of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) met on March 20 and 21, 1981. The broad purpose of these meetings was to continue a dialogue begun last December between the two organizations, which would open direct communications designed to result in a more cooperative and eventually a collaborative relationship. I stated in my March 9 memorandum that I would keep the field informed as to the results of these meetings. I am pleased to say that after a full day and one-half of frank and open discussion the following agreements took place during our meeting on the morning of Saturday, March 21.

1. Both groups recognized the potential for greater quality services for blind and visually impaired persons in the United States through an alliance between consumer-based organizations and agencies which serve blind persons.

2. Both groups recognized each other's leadership in these respective areas.

3. Both groups agreed to take steps to open communications between themselves, including an exchange of published materials.

4. Both groups agreed that efforts will be made to defuse the volatile atmosphere which exists within the field.

5. Both groups agreed to meet again in early August to review what has taken place between now and then and continue our dialogue regarding further cooperation.

I believe we have made a positive beginning and there is reason to have cautious optimism for ultimate success in uniting the field of blindness towards the common goal of providing quality services for all blind and visually impaired persons in the United States.

Note particularly number two in Mr. Gallagher's list of items. He declares that the Foundation leads the agency coalition, and he admits that the Federation is the leader in the consumer field. We have always said that the Foundation owns NAC and the ACB, as well as that strange creature called the Affiliated Leadership League of and for the Blind, plus an assortment of other leading agencies throughout the country. The Foundation has reacted variously to these charges, claiming leadership or denying it as expedience has seemed to dictate. The Foundation and its allies have usually denied our pre-eminence in the field of consumerism—in other words, that we are "the organized blind movement." But here it is in Mr. Gallagher's own words.

In conclusion the question logically arises, "Where do we go from here, and what has been accomplished by it all?" There can be no doubt that the exchange with the Foundation has been productive. If they do not follow through on their commitments or cannot break out of their traditional mold of custodialism and negative attitudes, then they will stand exposed for all to see. This will be a positive good, a final putting to rest of the claims the Foundation has made. On the other hand, if the Foundation can really chart a new course—if it can really bring itself to see the blind as equals and partners—if it can build a relationship of cooperation and trust with the organized blind movement and work with us, there is no end to the good which can result. It will mean understanding and flexibility on both sides. It will mean the end of NAC (at least, as we have known NAC). It will mean new thinking, new alignments, new opportunities. But it will also mean new hope and better lives for the blind than we have ever seen. I would only say this as a final comment: We would like to believe it can happen, and we will gladly accept it if it does; but the developments since the March 20-21 meeting are less promising than one could wish. We will do our part and keep our commitments. In the meantime we shall judge the actions of the Foundation and its allies realistically and act accordingly.

June 9, 1981


Dear Colleagues:

As most of you know, meetings have been taking place between the American Foundation for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind. Bill Gallagher, Executive Director of the Foundation, and I met at my office in Baltimore December 11, 1980. Mrs. Mary Ellen Anderson, who is the Assistant to the President of the National Federation of the Blind, and I met with Mr. Gallagher and his top assistant in January at the offices of the Foundation in New York. Mr. Gallagher and seven other members from the staff of the Foundation met with me and seven other leaders of the Federation March 20-21, 1981, at the National Federation of the Blind offices in Baltimore. Dr. Otis Stephens, who is President of NAC; Mr. Gallagher; and I met at my office May 13, 1981.

Dr. Stephens sent me a Braille letter (print copy attached) dated May 15, 1981. He enclosed a memorandum (copy attached) which he had sent to the NAC Board under date of May 1, 1981. I wrote to Dr. Stephens (copy attached) under date of June 5, 1981.

As will be seen from the correspondence, the question is whether NAC can really change its long-standing behavioral pattern of unethical conduct and attempted maneuver and political shenanigans. In an upcoming issue of the Braille Monitor I hope to give a full report of the meetings with the NAC and Foundation representatives. In the meantime I would say that the memo from Dr. Stephens, the unprofessional and unethical behavior of Dr. Bleecker in visiting the Labor Department (especially, while at that very time Mr. Gallagher was assuring me that nothing of the sort was occurring, or would be occurring), the failure by Mr. Gallagher to meet his commitment to send a statement for publication on May 15, the failure by Mr. Gallagher and Dr. Stephens to disclose to the NAC Board members and others the real tone and substance of our conversations, the denial by Dr. Stephens and Mr. Gallagher that they were aware of Dr. Bleecker's visit to the Labor Department to try to cut off funds for Job Opportunities for the Blind, and the failure by Dr. Stephens to follow up with a report of his promised investigation into Dr. Bleecker's conduct are not hopeful omens. However, the National Federation of the Blind will continue to do what it can to try to work with any group that wants to bring constructive changes in the field. We seek to improve the quality of services to the blind and to have the agencies in the field meet high standards. Our only purpose is to help blind persons have better lives, and we will put forth every possible effort to that end.

Very truly yours,
Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind

Knoxville, Tennessee
May 15, 1981

Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind

Dear Dr. Jernigan:

It was a pleasure to meet with you in Baltimore last Wednesday. I believe that we had a productive discussion of principal issues of which we disagree regarding NAC. However wide our differences may be with respect to the role that NAC plays in the field of services to blind persons, discussions of this kind are helpful in resolving problems and in identifying areas in which cooperative efforts may be undertaken.

I look forward to our resumption of this discussion at the University in the near future. May 1 suggest the week following Labor Day, September 7-11 as a possible time during which to hold the second meeting. This period, just before the beginning of Fall Quarter, is a particularly convenient time for me. But my schedule is sufficiently flexible to permit an alternative date should you have a conflict during the week of September 7. In any event, I look forward to meeting with you on the University of Tennessee campus in late summer or early fall. This invitation extends, of course, to Mrs. Anderson and any other members of the Federation whom you may wish to include in the discussion.

By way of sharing additional information with you, I am enclosing a copy of the memorandum that I distributed to the NAC Board and Presidents Council prior to our May 13 meeting. As you can see from this memorandum, I do not regard any NAC policy, including the position on the "National Federation of the Blind leadership," as written in stone. I am prepared to work with you in good faith toward a fair resolution of our differences.

Otis Stephens, President
National Accreditation Council

May 1, 1981

TO:  Board of Directors
         Presidents Council

FROM: Otis H. Stephens

SUBJECT: Peace Initiative with NFB

At the Annual Dinner of our Corporate Membership in Minneapolis on November 15, 1980, our special guest was the executive director of the American Foundation for the Blind, William F. Gallagher. In his remarks, Mr. Gallagher told us of his plan to meet with NFB president Kenneth Jernigan in an attempt to achieve unity in the field of service to blind and visually handicapped people.

I told Bill that I would cooperate in every way possible with his or any other initiative that held reasonable prospects of reducing the NFB national leadership's opposition to NAC, and of increasing recognition of the importance of standards and accreditation.

Since then, Bill has kept us informed of the progress of his peace initiative with NFB. On March 9 he told the field of a meeting he held in December with Jernigan in Baltimore and a follow-up meeting held in January in New York. He said "It has been my feeling for some time, that the adversary relationship which has developed between AFB and NFB has had a negative impact on the lives of blind persons ... I am fully aware that there are basic philosophical differences between the Federation and the Foundation regarding blindness, its impact upon individuals, and how to deal with it. I believe, however, that our broader purpose . . . demands that we as national representatives of the field and of blind persons, seek a more cooperative relationship. This is especially urgent in light of the effect of our eroding economy on the resources which support services for blind persons . . . The need for cooperation and unity within the field of blindness. . .has never been greater."

In a memo dated March 23, Bill advised us of the progress that had occurred during a March 20-21 meeting of eight AFB and eight NFB participants, pointing out that both groups:

"1. Recognized the potential for greater quality services . . . through an alliance between consumer-based organizations and agencies which serve blind persons.

"2. Recognized each other's leadership in these respective areas.

"3. Agreed to take steps to open communications between themselves, including an exchange of published materials.

"4. Agreed that efforts will be made to defuse the volatile atmosphere which exists within the field.

"5. Agree to meet again in early August to review what has taken place between now and then and continue our dialogue regarding further cooperation."

Recently, Bill advised me that he believes enough progress has been made to warrant a two-part "summit" conference between Mr. Jernigan and myself. Specifically, he has requested that I attend a meeting on May 13 in Baltimore, and a later meeting at a site of my choosing. This proposal is an important component in Bill's broader search for harmony within the field; and he has shared with me his belief that the conference—which he will moderate—will be useful and productive. Accordingly, I've accepted his invitation.

I see the summit conference as an exploratory discussion that could pave the way for a more responsible attitude toward NAC by the NFB leadership. I will give you a report on what transpires after each of the two meetings.

My job as I see it will be to listen, and explain NAC's policies in the most constructive manner possible. Our policies were developed through careful deliberation, such as our special corporate membership meeting in 1974 which led to our basic positions on consumer participation, and our board of directors meeting in 1979 which produced our position on the NFB national leadership. If during the conference it appears to me that a change in any of these policies might advance our cause, I would of course bring my recommendations to you for your consideration.

It has been the lot of every NAC president before me—Arthur Brandon, Peter Salmon, Daniel Robinson, Louis Rives—to seek a fair and just accommodation with NFB. Now, by supporting AFB's peace initiative, that duty has come to me. I ask the board to be as understanding and supportive of my efforts as it was of my predecessors? And I pledge that my search for a satisfactory resolution of our differences with NFB will be diligent, but that I will never compromise NAC's integrity or vital interests.

Baltimore, Maryland
June 5, 1981

Dr. Otis Stephens, President
National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped

Dear Dr. Stephens:

This will reply to your letter of May 15, 1981, regarding the meeting we held in my office here in Baltimore May 13. So far as I now know, the week after Labor Day is a satisfactory time for us to try to get together for further discussion. As I indicated when you were here, I am agreeable to meeting at the University of Tennessee.

Each time that I try to work up a few positive feelings about NAC, I seem to find something else happening which makes me question whether NAC is dealing in good faith. Let me give you the most recent instance: When we met, you failed to mention that you had written (under date of May 1, 1981) a memorandum to the NAC Board regarding our meeting. That memorandum contains statements which I believe are false, and if I had been aware of its contents at the time of our meeting, I would have made it the subject of discussion.

In the first place I would hardly call the recent discussions between the American Foundation for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind a "peace initiative by Bill Gallagher." In the context this is simply not the truth. It is factual to say that Bill Gallagher called me first, but it is equally factual to say that his purpose was not a pure and selfless search for peace and harmony. He was trying to see whether he could maneuver me into persuading local blind people in New York to refrain from picketing the American Foundation for the Blind the following day. From that discussion came an agreement to meet. To write as you did and to fail to make this disclosure borders upon the kind of half truth which we have come routinely to expect from NAC, which has destroyed NAC's credibility, and which I had hoped you were renouncing.

Further, your memorandum has other problems. You say: "This proposal is an important component in Bill's broader search for harmony within the field; and he has shared with me his belief that the conference—which he will moderate—will be useful and productive. Accordingly, I've accepted his invitation." As you well know, Mr. Gallagher did not "moderate" the conference which we held, and there was never any indication on anyone's part that he would.

You go on to say: "I see the summit conference as an exploratory discussion that could pave the way for a more responsible attitude toward NAC by the NFB leadership." In view of the facts which you had in your possession at the time you wrote your memo, the foregoing sentence comes dangerously close to dishonesty and deception.

You knew (for Mr. Gallagher told me in your presence that he had told you) that the meeting between the National Federation of the Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind in March had primarily dealt, not with an attempt to get NFB leaders to be responsible in dealing with NAC but the very opposite. It dealt with possible illegal actions on the part of certain segments of the NAC establishment. We said that we simply would not discuss other matters with the Foundation until some of these points could be cleared up, and the Foundation representatives agreed to that requirement. We talked about unethical and unprofessional (in some instances criminal) behavior on the part of a number of agencies, several of whom are part of NAC. We said that we simply would not talk with NAC or the Foundation about possible areas of agreement until we could clear up some of these basic questions concerning violation of human rights.

As you know, Mr. Gallagher left our March 20-21 meeting promising to try to get NAC to de-politicize itself. We agreed that while the Federation (as a consumer group) has not only a right but a responsibility to engage in political and social action, this is not a proper function of NAC, the purpose of which should be to deal with standards and accreditation. Yet, time after time during the past decade NAC has engaged in the most blatant form of organizational politics.

Mr. Gallagher's excuse has seemed to be that "they probably feel that they have to take such action since they may feel that their existence is threatened." I told him that if this is the only standard, the actions of Adolph Hitler could be justified. After all, Hitler's existence and that of his Third Reich were jeopardized by the allies during the Second World War.

Your memo still tries to keep up the fiction that the NFB leadership is not truly representative of the membership and that the Federation is one thing while the leadership is another. This is insulting; it is not the way things are; and it is not likely to get you any positive results.

You will also remember that when we met on May 13, both you and Mr. Gallagher told me that you were aware of no political attacks on the Federation by NAC leaders since the March 20 meeting between the Foundation and the Federation. I then pointed out to you that Dr. Bleecker had gone to the Federal Labor Department on March 26 and had vehemently and stridently tried to get the Department to cancel our program of Job Opportunities for the Blind. I told you that his attacks upon the Federation in general and upon me in particular were extremely intemperate, and I pointed out that this was occurring at the same time Mr. Gallagher was calling to tell me that he had been assured by the NAC leaders that they were interested in working peacefully with us and in ceasing their political activities. Both you and Mr. Gallagher said that you were unaware of Dr. Bleecker's visit to the Labor Department, and you promised to look into the matter and give me a report. Almost a month has now passed. You have not given me a report.

At the March 20-21 meeting Mr. Gallagher and I (in the presence of fourteen witnesses) agreed that we would each write a statement to be published and circulated by the other. My statement would appear in the Newsletter of the American Foundation for the Blind, and Mr. Gallagher's would appear in the Braille Monitor. So that neither of us would have unfair advantage, we would both mail our statements to each other (as evidenced by postmark) on Friday, May 15. At our May 13 meeting Mr. Gallagher said that he was not prepared to meet his commitment. He gave no reason and set no future time at which he was prepared to make such an exchange of statements.

At our meeting you were personally very cordial and pleasant, and I regret the necessity of having to bring these matters to your attention. However, if any further meetings are to be held and if they are to be anything more than exercises in futility, then NAC and its allies simply must learn to deal in an ethical, straightforward, truthful manner. As long as NAC (because of pride, the desire to dominate, or some similar unproductive motive) keeps insisting that its actions have been (and still are) ethical and that it does not need to change its tactics and goals, it is hard to see how any progress can be made.

I told you when we met (and I now repeat) that we of the National Federation of the Blind would like nothing better than to have harmony and peace prevail in matters concerning the blind. If there was ever the need for concerted action, that need is now; but I also told you that I thought NAC and its allies were a major part of the problem. I would appreciate it if you would think about what I have said and give me some direct answer. Otherwise, all of the pleasant and chatty meetings in the world will not improve the situation in the slightest but will only serve as a further irritant and cause of conflict.

Very truly yours,
Kenneth Jernigan, President

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Today (June 8, 1981) as I sat in my office, the telephone rang. It was not one of my usual callers. It was William Gallagher, Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind. Déjà vu—at least, that is the way I believe those who consider themselves among the upper crust of the intellectual and the literate would put it. In other words, I had the feeling that I had been there before. I kept thinking about burned children fearing fires—and other such.

Mr. Gallagher said that he had been thinking about the exchange of statements we intended to make for publication. He wondered whether June 29 might be a good target date—or, perhaps, maybe even June 22. I told him I would think about it and get back to him. The idea kept rattling around in my head, "If you violated your solemn agreement (made in the presence of witnesses) to exchange statements May 15, and if you waited until May 13 to tell me about it—if you did all of this with no explanation, why the call a month later to schedule a new date? How can we be sure that the June 29 (or 22) commitment will be any more binding than the one of May 15?"

Mr. Gallagher said that perhaps we could publish each other's statements in the August issues of the Braille Monitor and the American Foundation Newsletter—but he knew from our earlier conversations that the August deadline for the Monitor would long since be past by June 29.

And what about the letter I had written to Dr. Stephens under date of June 5, 1981? Should I mail it? Should I change it? Should I hold it for two or three weeks to see whether there were further developments? Should I publish the whole business in the Monitor? Should I read parts of it to the national convention? If only NAC and the Foundation would ever deal in a straightforward, unequivocal manner, such questions would never arise—or, if they did, the answers would be simple.

On another subject: I reminded him of the commitment he and Dr. Stephens had made to investigate Dr. Bleecker's violation of NAC-AFB policy by visiting the Labor Department March 26 to try to destroy the program of Job Opportunities for the Blind. He said that he and Dr. Stephens had scheduled a meeting for that purpose with Dr. Bleecker this very night (June 8, 1981). I asked him if he would give me a report of his findings. He said that he would.

After we finished the phone call I asked myself several questions: Is it really believable that Dr. Bleecker went to the Labor Department without the knowledge of Mr. Gallagher and Dr. Stephens? If so, would they wait almost a month to bring the matter up with him? Is such a delay (even assuming it would be believable) consistent with good faith? What about Mr. Gallagher's scheduled appearance at the NFB convention, and what constructive results can we expect from later meetings with the Foundation or NAC?

Well, whatever else we are, we are persistent—and we keep our commitments. If NAC and the Foundation still want to meet, we will do it, and we will make every effort to find a way to make something worthwhile out of it.

The American Foundation for the Blind (if it only would) could be one of the most positive forces in the world today for helping blind persons achieve better lives. It can also be one of the most negative. Unfortunately this latter pattern has usually prevailed. We must still hope that the pattern can change, and we must do all that we can to help that change occur.


Today (Friday, June 12, 1981) Mr. Gallagher called me again. He reminded me that in our last call we had agreed (which we hadn't) that he would call me today to see how I felt about exchanging articles on June 29. He neglected to mention anything about the meeting he had told me that he and Dr. Stephens were having with Dr. Bleecker on June 8 to probe into his reasons for trying to destroy Job Opportunities for the Blind. He gave me no report about the matter at all. In view of the circumstances I thought I would wait and see whether he would voluntarily bring it up. He didn't, so neither did I.

However, this determined my response concerning the exchange of articles. I suggested to Mr. Gallagher that we wait and discuss the matter at the NFB convention in July. It also helped me reach another decision. I shall wait until early July and then mail to every agency in the country my exchange of correspondence with Dr. Stephens. Surely this round of negotiations with NAC and the Foundation will be conclusive. It will either lead to a breakthrough in keeping commitments and standards of conduct or it will build such a record that all who are truly interested in decent behavior and good programs will be able to see what the future holds.

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Arie Gamliel is a long-time Federationist. He has studied the philosophy well and understands its implications. No incident of discrimination can be viewed in isolation. As we educate the public and raise the level of our own consciousness—in other words, as we change what it means to be blind—we must think in terms of patterns, trends, and the total picture. We must do it even at the circus.

Arie Gamliel recently had the opportunity to put the theory into practice, to bring us one step closer to full equality and equal treatment. Here is the letter he wrote to Mr. John Baldo, Director of Security, Madison Square Garden, New York City:

May 4, 1981

Dear Mr. Baldo:

You have asked me to write to you concerning the details of an unfortunate incident which took place at the entrance to Madison Square Garden on the night of April 2, 1981.

On that night, clients and staff of the Institute of Applied Human Dynamics, a non-profit agency serving the severely retarded and multiply handicapped people, had been invited to attend a special performance of Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus. I am a member of the clinical staff of our agency.

As we were about to ascend an escalator in order to approach our seats, my group was accosted by one of your security people who informed us that I was not to be permitted to use the escalator with my party of people. Rather I was ordered to walk across the lobby and use an elevator. When I protested at this arbitrary behavior and decision making, your agent was strident and boisterously insulting: among other things he seemed to be quite taken aback that I would dare to question his judgment on a matter that was, after all, for my own good. All reasoning with this individual was fruitless, and it was only after your intervention that I was permitted to mount the escalator. At this point, I wish to stress that you were reasonable and constructive and I am grateful to you for helping me to expedite the situation. Nevertheless, in order to prevent such occurrences from happening in the future, I wish to restate to you why I feel that all blind people in general, and I in particular, must speak out against the sort of treatment which I encountered.

First and foremost, I am deeply concerned with the notion that it is possible, indeed reasonable, to make a sweeping generalization about an individual's abilities or lack thereof, based on an individual's blindness. Your security guard had never met me before, and had no idea about what my abilities might or might not be. He assumed, without even bothering to ask, that since I was blind I could not under any circumstances use an escalator. At the very least, this is discourteous.

Of course it is much more than that. Your agent surely has no knowledge of blindness and the alternative techniques which blind people use in order to function as normal people. I told the gentleman that I regarded his treatment as discriminatory, and he could not understand what I was talking about. In fact it is quite simple. When someone tells me that I will not be allowed to engage in an activity in a public building and that exclusion is based on a preconceived stereotyped notion of what I can or cannot do, that is discrimination. I wish to stress as strongly as possible, that there is nothing about blindness which prevents an individual from using a moving escalator. I know, I use them daily without batting an eyelash. The idea that your escalators are so different from all others that they require the exclusion of blind people is preposterous. Having finally been permitted to use them, I wish to reassure you that the escalators in the Garden are easy and convenient to use, for the blind as well as the sighted.

Perhaps the crudest cut of all in this whole ridiculous affair is your agent's assertion that he had my best interests in mind. You should know that blind people have been excluded from all walks of life and all normal pursuits for centuries, because people felt that it was in their best interests to be excluded. Even today we the blind are not permitted to hold down jobs, sleep in hotels, ride on airliners, are denied housing, denied insurance, denied education, and kept off escalators when we wish to go to the circus at Madison Square Garden. This is the reason why we have organized, to fight such attempts by people to pave our road to hell with their good intentions. It is for these reasons that I took the time to make a fuss out of what, on the surface, seems to be a trivial exclusion.

I hereby request that the agent in question (I believe his name is Rodgers) be apprised of the contents of this letter and that he be duly reprimanded. I also earnestly request that an undertaking be given that blind people will not be subjected to this sort of embarrassing treatment upon their entry into Madison Square Garden.

Sincerely Yours,

Arie Gamliel
IAHD Social Worker & President
National Federation of the Blind
New York City Chapter

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Professor Charles Hallenbeck is blind. He teaches at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. He is also a member of the National Federation of the Blind.

As usually happens with people who become active in the Federation, Professor Hallenbeck not only gives attention to the implications of what he observes but he also speaks out to try to educate and change attitudes. Recently the Student Assistance Center at the University began a new "service." It compiled a special list of blind people in the University community and began sending them "warnings," "watches," and "alerts" about open manholes, ditches, construction activities, barriers, and other such appearing on the campus.

Professor Hallenbeck thought this was inappropriate. He was not rude or hostile about it, but he let his opinions be known—and he did it logically, fluently, and firmly. His letter is one more testimonial to the rising expectations and increasing level of consciousness on the part of blind people throughout the country. Here it is:

April 17, 1981

Robert Turvey
Student Assistance Center,

Dear Bob,

I would like to request that my name be removed from the list of names of blind persons on our campus who have recently been notified by mail of areas on campus where telephone installers will be working. I would like to explain why I am making this request, and I would hope that you would give some thought to the continuation of the practice adopted by your office about a month ago.

There is a striking analogy between your recent practice and another more widely known information service, that provided by the National Weather Service Severe Storms Forecast Center in Kansas City. As you know, that service notifies the general public about impending dangerous conditions in the form of Severe Storm watches, severe storm warnings, and severe storm alerts. The same three levels of alarm are issued for tornados. Doubtless many lives and much property have been saved by this service, and by the high regard in which it is held by residents of this part of the country.

The differences between your new service and that of the National Weather Service are important to note. First, all citizens are equally vulnerable to the effects of severe storms and tornados, and little can be done to alter their course or prevent their occurrence. Preparation and timely warning are the only means for the public's protection. Second, the National Weather Service, so far as I know, has issued an "all clear" for each "watch", "warning", or "alert" it has issued. Third, the function they perform is the primary function for which they were established; they are not providing that function in lieu of other primary charges which they bear.

In the case of the service your office has undertaken to provide for some members of the university community (I note that blind staff members have been omitted from the list, as well as other blind members of the community who frequent our campus on a daily basis), there are several observations to be made. First, you have apparently regarded blind persons to be especially vulnerable to open manholes and telephone company work-site hazards. I argue that this is not so. First of all, work crews are well aware of the risk, to all persons, of open manholes and newly opened ditches. They take great pains, as you surely must know, to erect barriers for the protection of the ordinary citizen (and eventually themselves). Such safeguards are adequate to meet the needs of the blind pedestrian as well as the sighted. Second, the effect of your series of memos on myself, and perhaps on others, has been rather intimidating. I note with alarm that you seem to be developing a list of unsafe neighborhoods on our campus, and that the list appears only to be growing, not diminishing. You never sound the "all clear". The implication, apparently, is that we are being advised, gently to be sure, to stay away from one area of campus after another, "for our own protection and safety". This is a form of patronizing custodialism which is unworthy of a major agency of this or any other university. Third, there are surely more pressing tasks with which your office is charged which would further the daily lives of members of the university community who have disabilities, rather than this specious service which singles out the blind as especially helpless and in need of "severe barrier" watches, warnings, and alerts.

The persons to whom your notices have been circulated include one person who was hospitalized throughout the period covered by the memos, and at least one, perhaps two others, whose visual acuity permits them to travel unaided in most environments; in one case, a "mo-ped" is that person's preferred method of transportation. To my knowledge, none of the participants has any customary need to visit the areas in question, and if they did, their mobility skills are entirely adequate to permit them to cope with the barriers you seem to be worried about. I should point out to you that between approximately April and September, there is another whole class of barriers about which you appear not to be worried. The large revolving lawn sprinklers which our groundskeepers move systematically around the campus serve as especially humiliating barriers for blind pedestrians. It takes keen senses and quick reflexes to avoid an embarrassing drenching when these activities are in progress, and the randomly rotating location makes them impossible to avoid. The sight of a blind person caught in a watery deluge has provided amusement and pity for numerous observers on our campus, and I daresay that no one has seen a blind person stumble through a wooden barrier and plunge into an open manhole. Those kinds of things happen only in Mr. McGoo cartoons. Those cartoons are not an appropriate source of information about the common hazards or typical concerns of the blind.

Please be assured that I do not attribute mischievous intent with respect to the previously mentioned notifications of construction sites. I do, however, insist that the negative consequences of your practice are independent of the intentions with which they are invested .... The opinions I express are only my own and perhaps are not held by anyone else on your mailing list. Therefore, I only ask that you please remove my name from the distribution, and that you use other criteria to determine how, if at all, to continue your notification program.

Charles Hallenbeck

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Enthusiasm was the order of the day as blind Washingtonians crowded a meeting room at the Loyal Motor Inn in Seattle on April 11, to attend a meeting of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington. The meeting was the result of work by Dr. Kenneth Jernigan and other Federationists to expand and strengthen the Washington affiliate.

A group representative of the blind population of Washington was present to hear Dr. Jernigan discuss the activities of the national organization, national legislation, and other issues of interest, although there had been an organized effort to keep people away from the meeting. Despite harassment and threats, students, teachers, vendors, workshop workers, housewives, and professionals came and participated in the activities of the conference.

Dr. Jernigan talked about the role of the Washington affiliate in the national movement. He said that the time had come to expand the affiliate to a larger, more viable organization. He said that after talking with members of the United Blind of Washington State, he was certain that many members of that organization were sincere in their wishes to become a part of the NFB movement; giving life to his certainty, members of UBWS from Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia were present and joined NFB of Washington.

Hazel tenBroek addressed the conference sharing some of Dr. tenBroek's insights with the assembly. Dr. Norman Gardner, president of the NFB of Idaho and member of the NFB Board of Directors, also addressed the conference reaffirming his commitment to Federationism and his belief in NFB leadership.

The conference adopted two constitutional amendments. One amendment deleted wording from the article dealing with local chapters, and the other added an article establishing a Board of Directors for NFB of Washington. The conference also adopted a resolution establishing the Wesley Osborne Award.

Officers and Members of the Board of Directors were elected for one-year terms. Gary Mackenstadt was elected President. Nell Carney, resigning president of UBWS, was elected First Vice President. The position of Second Vice President was filled by George West who is Chairman of the Washington Vendor's Committee. Marci Carpenter, a student at the University of Washington, was elected Secretary. Ben Prows, well known in the organized blind movement in the State of Washington, was elected Treasurer. Peggy Osborne, a dedicated Federationist from Tacoma, accepted a position on the Board of Directors. The remaining board position was filled by Hazel tenBroek who graciously agreed to serve although she has never before served in an elected office with the NFB. Ben Prows was elected delegate to the national convention in Baltimore, and Nell Carney and Richard Packett were elected as first and second alternates.

Spontaneous fundraising broke out when Dr. Jernigan challenged Federationists to match a $100 donation to the NFB of Washington treasury. Almost before we knew what was happening, one thousand dollars had been raised for NFB of Washington. While we were at it, we raised Washington's PAC Plan pledges to a standing in the national ratings of which we can be proud.

Washingtonians were pleased to have Patti and Mike Bullis of Portland, Oregon attend the convention. Chuck Young, Director of the Oregon Commission for the Blind, was also present.

Armed with single-minded purpose, commitment, and optimism, Federationists left the meeting to begin a new era in the State of Washington. We now have the opportunity to make real progress toward a better quality of life for blind Washingtonians through a national movement.

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When I went to Washington early in April, I hoped we could emerge from the state convention with an expanded and strengthened affiliate. This was accomplished, but the continuing progress has been greater than anyone could have hoped.

I am writing this article in early June, not quite two months after the April 11 state convention. Here are only a few things which have occurred. The NFB of Washington is now actively represented on the Board of Trustees of the Washington State School for the Blind. Nell Carney, NFBW First Vice President, has been appointed to the Advisory Committee to the project to study education of the deaf and blind which was mandated by a resolution passed by the state legislature. Two new chapters are slated to join the NFBW within the next few days.

But this is not all: On May 29, 1981, Gary Mackenstadt, President; Nell Carney, First Vice President; George West, Second Vice President; and other leaders of the affiliate went to Olympia, where they met and had pictures taken with the Governor, who then issued what is probably the strongest gubernatorial proclamation of support of the Federation ever made by the chief executive of a state. The proclamation, which is receiving wide public notice, reads as follows:


WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has, since 1940, worked to integrate blind and visually impaired persons into American society so they are seen as normal, participating citizens; and

WHEREAS, it is commendable that the blind and visually impaired are speaking for themselves with a positive voice through the National Federation of the Blind; and

WHEREAS, the blind and visually impaired, if given the opportunity, become loyal, dedicated employees who are an asset to any employer; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is working throughout the State of Washington to help blind and visually impaired persons secure gainful employment, for their benefit and that of the state as a whole; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind needs and deserves public recognition and material assistance to carry out its mission in the State of Washington;

NOW THEREFORE, I, JOHN SPELLMAN, Governor of the State of Washington, do hereby proclaim the month of June of this year and each year hereafter as NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND MONTH FOR THE STATE OF WASHINGTON and urge all citizens and employers in the state to support the work of the National Federation of the Blind.

Governor of The State of Washington

Such proclamations are not issued lightly. It is clear that the NFB of Washington is well on its way to becoming one of our strongest and most active affiliates. The months and years ahead look promising, indeed, for the blind of the state.

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Arkansas Department of Human Services
Division of Rehabilitation Services
Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Little Rock, Arkansas

April 3, 1981

Mr. Jim Hudson
Little Rock, Ark.

Dear Jim:

NAC's on-site review team will visit the OBVI in early May. The consumer conference with the review team will be conducted at OBVI's 411 Victory Street office at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, May 4.

I would like to invite you as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Arkansas to participate in this conference if you would like to do so. Please let me know whether or not you wish to attend the consumer conference.

Sincerely yours,
Dick Seifert, General Chairman
OBVI Accreditation Committee

The National Federation of the Blind of Arkansas
April 21, 1981

Mr. Dick Seifert, General Chairman
OBVI Accreditation Committee
Office For The Blind and Visually Impaired

Dear Mr. Seifert:

This is to acknowledge my receipt of your letter, dated April 3, 1981. In your letter you have requested my participation as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Arkansas in the NAC Accreditation on-site review, Monday, May 4th at 1:00 p.m. I would like for you to recall two recent developments relative to NAC that have happened in Arkansas.

First, I would have you recall the last meeting of the OBVI Advisory Committee. In that meeting, Mr. Joe Register, a member of the NFB, attempted to discuss whether NAC accreditation was meaningful to the blind of Arkansas. Instead of the committee discussing Mr. Register's concerns, certain members chose to discuss the integrity of the National Federation of the Blind. Also certain members chose to discuss the integrity of both our state and national leaders.

Secondly, the Board of the Business Enterprise Program in their last meeting almost passed a resolution indicating their disfavor of NAC. With this information in mind and further information about the OBVI's recent experience in federal court relative to hiring practices, I as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Arkansas, decline to meet with the NAC team.

Further, as President of the NFB, I ask you to strongly reconsider whether NAC accreditation is in the best interest of blind consumers in Arkansas. As far as I am concerned, NAC is not in the best interest of the blind, and it will not result in increased job opportunities nor will it enhance the quality of services to blind consumers. If you have any questions about this communication, please contact me.

James C. Hudson


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(This article is reprinted from the April, 1981, issue of News From Blind Nebraskans, which is the official publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska.)

During the first week in March, there was a spirit of conspiratorial anticipation throughout the NFB-N. People spoke in hushed voices about a "surprise", and calls were made throughout the state urging members to report to the Misty III restaurant in Lincoln at 6:30 on the seventh.

The only member who apparently wasn't privy to the conspiracy was Barbara Walker. On the evening of the seventh, however, she, too, appeared at Misty III. She was under the illusion that she would be buying a steak dinner for her husband, Jim, because Nebraska had unfortunately fallen behind Michigan in this year's football ratings.

Barbara did not buy that steak—at least, not that night. As she and Jim entered the Nebraska Room (appropriately enough) at Misty's, they were treated to a rousing chorus of "Glory, Glory Federation." Suddenly, Barbara found herself in the midst of over fifty fellow Federationists—all of them clapping and cheering and enjoying their secret immensely.

What was the reason for all the celebrating? It was, so to speak, "an affair of honor."

Since 1973, Barbara has been employed by the Nebraska Services for the Visually Impaired. She served first in a contractual position with the agency; her first full-time position was that of the Braille instructor in the orientation and adjustment center. She then became the supervisor of that center. Earlier this year, she decided that, since she and Jim were expecting a baby soon, she would resign that position. It was because of that resignation—and because of the outstanding service she has given to blind Nebraskans while working at SVI—that the NFB-N decided to give a testimonial dinner for her.

The entire evening was undeniably successful. John Cheadle was the Master of Ceremonies, and after he had made a few introductory remarks, he introduced John W. Smith, who gave the invocation. After an excellent dinner of roast beef, several people paid tribute to Barbara for such qualities as her genuineness, receptiveness, determination and patient understanding. Among the speakers were Jane Doty, John W. Smith, Jim Walker, John Cheadle, and Peggy Pinder. Several guests from Iowa were also in attendance, and Charles Erickson wished Barbara "all the best" from the Federationists in that state.

After the speakers had finished, Barbara was presented with an award which reads:

Presented to Barbara Walker by the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska, March 7, 1981. A woman who knows the struggle to the top of the stairs, and has unselfishly helped the rest of us toward that goal.

The award consists of a series of stairsteps. The first step holds the word "security"; the second, "equality"; and the third, "opportunity"; and upon the fourth step is the Lamp of Knowledge, and a plaque engraved with the words "First-class Citizenship."

There were also a couple of very special touches, provided by guests who were unable to attend, except in spirit. The first was a letter written by Rob Williamson, who is the husband of our immediate past President. This letter read:

Dear Barbara:

I wish I could be there to share this evening with you, and to once again let everyone know that you have big ears!

But seriously, to show my love for you and Jim, and all that you have meant to me.

I read a poem once which I thought described Marsha very well; it also applies to you, as you possess the same qualities. It reads:

"People are like stained-glass windows. They shine and sparkle when the sun is bright. But when the sun goes down, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."

I have never attempted to speak for Marsha, and I won't start now, for I think it is common knowledge that she, too, loved and admired you very much. You were more her sister than her friend.

Barbara, I wish you the best of luck in everything you do. I also expect to be one of the first persons to receive a picture of your newest addition when he or she arrives.

Love, Bob

The second special touch was a letter written by our national President, Dr. Kenneth Jernigan. It reads:

Barbara, I wish that I could be at the dinner tonight, with your other friends. But since I can't, this letter will have to do.

I love and respect you, and wish you well. But of course you know that already. You also know that I believe you are one of the true leaders of the organized blind movement, having made contributions which reach far beyond the borders of Nebraska. Your work at the Nebraska agency and in the Federation has been quietly determined and purposeful; it is the kind of thing that changes people's lives—the kind of thing that lasts. You have done as much as anybody I know to make it possible for the blind of Nebraska to have opportunity and hope and belief.

I know of no greater compliment to pay you than this: You are a true Federationist, with all that the term implies. It is a good thing that this dinner is being held; I'm glad to be able to add my voice to the others who do you honor on this occasion. You're as good as we have.

I look forward to working with you in the years ahead—as a colleague, as a Federationist and as a dear friend. There is much work still to be done; in fact, we are only at the threshold. And we—we of the Federation—are the ones who must do it.

Barbara, congratulations! And thank you for being the fine, wonderful person you are. And—oh yes—don't forget to be good to Laurie!

The highlight of the evening, however, came for most of us when Barbara herself got up to speak. Here is the speech, just as it was given at the banquet.

I feel like I should say something to all of you. I'm not sure that I've ever been so surprised by anything before. I really think that whatever I've been able to do for any or all of you I've received much more from all of you than you may ever know.

I guess for those of you with whom I have worked, and those of you who were students in the past, and to those of you who are students now, I really would like to say that, as you have heard several times this evening, there have been a lot of things I've been wrong about. And I hope that all of you will recognize that there's nothing wrong with being wrong, in and of itself. You must pay attention, and be able to acknowledge it, and then go on from there.

When I first came to work at the agency in 1973, I knew that there was a lot wrong with what was happening with blind people in the state of Nebraska and everywhere else. I had no idea what to do about it. I was surprised that I even wanted a job working with the blind. I had been told for several years throughout college that I really ought to work with the blind. I thought at the time that people were telling me that because they wanted to keep me with my own kind. They wanted to keep me in a position where I would have a sense of equality, but not the real thing.

At that time, I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I knew that I had always been frightened and made to feel very aloof in a group; obviously, I'm not over that yet, but I thought that I wanted to teach in a public school system.

When I was doing my student teaching, I discovered that that wasn't really where I wanted to be. It wasn't that I didn't want to work with kids; that I didn't have the ability to do so. It was just that trying to work with that many people at a time was not something that I felt I could do my best with.

I got some job interviews for teaching positions, and to my horror, I was always glad when I didn't get the job. I began to wonder about that, and at about that time, there was a possibility to work at the agency for the blind on contract.

For the first time since I had been trying to find a job, I was interested. I went down and talked to people—some of whom had been counselors with whom I had struggled and argued for years. But in spite of all of that, it seemed to me that perhaps there was something that I could do that might really be worthwhile by working in the agency.

When I first started to work there, a lot of things that we did seemed absolutely ridiculous to me. I remember the time in early 1974 when we had an open house, and one of the things that we were to do to prove to the world that blind people were using whatever kinds of abilities they had was that everything needed to be Brailled. I went through six rolls of Dymo-tape Brailling everything in the place—drawers, counters, bottles of catsup, and I knew somehow that that was not the way things should be done.

At the time of the open house, I was assigned to the third floor, where most people never got to, because there was not any kind of direction given to anybody. I was very naive when I started working at the agency. I was being paid less than other people; I thought the reason for that was that there were specific positions open for specific things and because there wasn't an opening for a teacher that I was getting less money. The third-floor assignment and having to Braille all those things—you know, started mounting up. The day that the Director called me into his office and had me Braille some material for him and then had me read them back, and said in amazement, "That's exactly what I told you to write!" was one of the last straws. I began to realize that things really weren't as they should be.

In May of 1974, I went to California to learn how to use a reading machine, in hopes that that would not only allow me to read some print things, but also maybe make somebody want to hire me for something that would be paid better. During the time that I was gone, the directorship at the agency changed. Somebody from the Federation was going to be in there. I was extremely worried at the time that I came back, because although I'd heard a lot about the Federation, and the Federation had reorganized in Nebraska in 1971, I had read some things out of "The Monitor" since then. And by and large, "The Monitor" disturbed me to the point that I would generally not read all of it; I would maybe throw it away so that I wouldn't have to think about it. And now, I was going to have to deal with someone from the Federation in the agency.

I had a lot of misconceptions about the Federation. I thought that we were all going to have to have Master's degrees in order to do our jobs, which I know now is basically what a lot of the other people think. When Sylvia Johnson came in September, I was desperate as far as what we needed to do to change things. But I wasn't sure that I wanted those radicals from the Federation to be the ones who were giving me some kind of input as to how to change them.

In December, 1974, I went over to the Iowa Commission for the Blind, mostly because I was beginning to realize that unless something changed, I was not going to be able to work very much longer at the agency; I did not see that we were doing that much that was really effective. I remember missing a bus on the way because one was too full, and when I walked into the hotel—tired and disgusted—I said, "This Commission better be good."

I remember talking with people, going on tour, asking a lot of questions. I think one of the things I remember most, though, was my discussion with Mr. Jernigan on the last day that I was at the Commission. I had gone into his office—afraid to speak up, as usual—having some real questions and concerns. I didn't understand a lot of things about what was going on there; but one of my big problems was that I didn't think that the Federation was doing all that much—especially in Lincoln, Nebraska. I knew that people gathered and had a social event now and then and yelled about how terrible each other was and gossiped behind each other's back; or at least, I thought that's what they were doing, and I told him that. I said, "You know, that's what the organization seems to be like in Lincoln. I just don't see that it's doing anything very productive." And his response to me was: "What are you doing about that?"

That was a very good question; obviously, what I had just done was to undermine the organization in front of the national President. I really couldn't take a whole lot of pride in that, and we discussed several other kinds of things. He gave me some material to read; among it was "Why the National Federation of the Blind?" He said that if I had questions about it, he sincerely hoped I would write or call or whatever, and ask them.

I came back here knowing that it was possible for an agency for the blind to be more than ours was. I also knew that it was possible for an orientation center to function in a way that would genuinely help people.

I never really liked being in up-front, conspicuous types of leadership positions, but it seemed to me that there was a lot that needed to be done. And since I had gone and found out some things (I don't believe in getting something for nothing), I didn't believe that I had the privilege of getting that information for nothing.

So I decided that what I needed to do was to try my best to work with people who didn't mind being in conspicuous positions, and maybe take a few of them myself if it came to that, in order to try to get things to improve. There are a lot of things which I have done that I still wonder why I ever did, but I think that's true of anyone. I guess that one of the things that I have found out is that if a person really does care about what's happening, it is possible to make changes; it is possible for all of us to grow and become the kind of people we want to become.

There was a time when I felt that it would absolutely not make sense, or be fair, or any number of things, for me to even consider everyday, ordinary things like getting married, owning a home—anything like that. Obviously, a lot of that has changed.

It has changed because of you people. I've gotten to know people who are doing everyday, ordinary things, doing them successfully, doing them as blind people.

I guess it always strikes me as odd whenever anyone refers to me as a leader, because actually, all I'm doing is following your lead, and you guys are good teachers!

I think that it's important for us to think about where we are, and where we're going, and all the kinds of things that we need to do. It wasn't an easy decision for me to make to leave the agency. But I think that in a lot of ways, the reason that I am leaving is partly a selfish one. I've learned a lot of things; maybe my training was just longer than most students there need. But I've learned that I can do the kinds of things that I think are necessary in order to have a fulfilling life. And although, right to the very end of my work with the agency, each new student presented new challenges for me—new interests—and all kinds of things that were beneficial, I did come to the realization that my service in that particular capacity needed to end—that I needed to take the risk of, in some ways, the kind of insecurity of not having paid employment. I would also be taking a number of other risks, too, in order to continue to grow.

But that in no way means leaving in spirit the kinds of things which I think an agency for the blind needs to do. Or leaving in reality the work that we need to do in order to help many other blind people to have the same kind of chances of opportunities that you people have helped to make for me. We will continue to work together; we will continue to make changes; we will continue to struggle; and we will prevail.

Thank you—all of you!

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As Federationists know, Mrs. Jeannette Eyerly was a member of the Board of Directors of the Iowa Commission for the Blind when that agency exemplified the philosophy that blind persons could compete on terms of equality in society. She made valuable contributions to the development of the Commission's programs, and she came to know many blind persons as they lived on a daily basis. She is both sensitive and observant.

Mrs. Eyerly is a woman of diversified interests and numerous accomplishments. Among other things, she is a widely published author of children's books. Now, she has written a story about blindness—and it is first-rate! It is not sensational, not melodramatic, not drippy or sentimental—none of these. It is simply factual and interesting and down to earth. But this takes nothing away from its effectiveness. It is entitled Seeing Summer, and it deals with the experiences of a young blind girl moving into a new neighborhood. Published by J. B. Lippincott, New York, Seeing Summer will be in the book stores soon.

In a very real sense Seeing Summer by Jeannette Eyerly is a professional book dealing with blindness, for it provides knowledge and information which every professional in the field (rehabilitation counselor, rehabilitation teacher, librarian, teacher of blind children, and administrator) should have. It is also a textbook on psychology, for it contains insights into human behavior and motivation which are unique and instructive. In addition, it is a textbook on sociology, for it shows how individuals relate to each other and to groups. To say all of these things does not detract one bit from the fact that the book is a delightful and entertaining story for children. Indeed, the value of the book as a serious work is enhanced by its readability and unpretentious style. It may well be one of the most valuable contributions yet made to a real understanding of what blindness is—and what it isn't. Regardless of all of this, Seeing Summer is worth reading—if for nothing else, just because it's fun. Perhaps it goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) its appeal is not limited to children. It is a must for those who want to increase their understanding of blindness, or for those who simply want to read a well-written children's book.

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The National Federation of the Blind, Western Division (our California affiliate) is not only alert to detect violations of the rights of the blind but it is also quick to take action when such violations occur. On April 9, 1981, Linda O'Neal (a blind person) was prevented from boarding a United Airlines flight from Monterey, California, to Los Angeles. This discriminatory action was taken because of her blindness and the fact that she was accompanied by her dog guide.

As is happening throughout the country, the Federation was ready to come up to the line and do something about it. A resolution was passed at the NFB Western Division convention April 12, 1981. It was sent, along with an appropriate cover letter, to the President of United Airlines. It was also sent to the Attorney General of California.

Of course, the resolution cannot turn back the clock and make it possible for Linda O'Neal to board her flight on April 9—which leads some people to ask the following question: Since the incident has already occurred, what is the good of passing resolutions and writing letters about it? The answer is simple: Public attitudes are not changed in one dramatic, all encompassing action. They were not created that way. They were created day after day and year after year, one incident, one action, and one occurrence at a time. They are the accumulation of the misconceptions and the misunderstandings of the centuries.

They must be changed in the same way they were created: one incident, one letter, and one resolution at a time. We must amass enough individual attempts of constructive action to change the balances. It must be done by evolution—by alertness, by persistence, and by belief. It must be done on a day to day basis—a consistent and continuing pattern of tugging at the public conscience, of inspiring new ways of thought, changing public misconceptions, and reinforcing one's own understanding and belief. It is that easy—and that difficult.

Here is the letter which Sharon Gold (the able and energetic President of our California affiliate) sent to Richard Ferris.

May 5, 1981

Richard Ferris
Chief Executive Director
United Airlines, Inc.
Chicago, IL

Dear Mr. Ferris:

On April 9, 1981, Ms. Linda O'Neal, who was traveling from Monterey, California to Los Angeles, was refused passage aboard United Airlines Flight #343, solely because she was accompanied by a dog guide. Ms. O'Neal was told by United Airline officials that United Airlines' policies prevented them from allowing her and her dog guide aboard the aircraft unless a bulkhead seat was available and, although there were other seats available on Flight #343, the bulkhead seats were filled. Ms. O'Neal explained that bulkhead seating was not necessary as her dog guide was accustomed to curling up under the seat in front of her. Still, she was not allowed to board and Flight #343 left without her, causing her to miss an important afternoon meeting in Los Angeles.

Failure to allow Ms. O'Neal and her dog guide to board Flight #343 and sit in a seat of her choice (restricted only by availability) is in direct violation of California law which provides that blind persons shall be entitled to full and equal access to all common carriers including airplanes and further provides that these same blind persons may be accompanied by dog guides. During the 1981 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, Western Division, Resolution 81-12 was adopted and is enclosed together with a copy of the California statutes relating to the blind and disabled as compiled and published in 1980 by the National Federation of the Blind, Western Division.

Your attention to this matter and an immediate response will be appreciated.

Very truly yours,
Sharon Gold, President
National Federation of the Blind, Western Division


Culver City, California, April 12, 1981


WHEREAS, the Federal Aviation Administration has not issued rules and regulations pertaining to specific seating requirements for blind persons accompanied by dog guides; and

WHEREAS, United Airlines has adopted a policy which requires the seating of blind persons with dog guides in bulkhead rows on all aircraft; and

WHEREAS, blind persons accompanied by dog guides have occupied non-bulkhead seats on other airlines without causing any discomfort or inconvenience to other passengers; and

WHEREAS, non-bulkhead seating is more comfortable both for the dog and surrounding passengers; and

WHEREAS, a blind passenger accompanied by a dog guide was denied passage on United Airlines Flight #343 from Monterey to Los Angeles on April 9, 1981, because of a lack of seating space in the bulkhead even though seating was available elsewhere in the aircraft; and

WHEREAS, the arbitrary and unnecessary denial of boarding by the United Airlines personnel caused the blind passenger to miss an important business meeting; and

WHEREAS, United Airlines' aforementioned policy is in direct violation of Sections 54.1 and 54.2 of the California Civil Code: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind, Western Division, in Convention assembled in Culver City this twelfth day of April, 1981 , that this organization deplore and condemn the actions of the Monterey, California, United Airlines ground crew which caused the unnecessary delay in travel of the aforementioned blind passenger; and

BE IF FURTHER RESOLVED that we find the policy of United Airlines to require blind persons accompanied by dog guides to sit in bulkhead seating discriminatory, paternalistic, unnecessary, and unlawful; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent to the President of United Airlines and concerned public officials requesting that the aforementioned discriminatory policy be changed.

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It is not only United which demonstrates lack of understanding concerning the ability and rights of blind persons. Others do it too. In the present instance, as you will see, the problem involves Delta.

Paul Kay is a lawyer, a very articulate lawyer. He is also blind and a long-time Federationist. He might have taken the easy way out—submitted meekly and shrugged it off. Or still, he might have failed even to recognize the incident for the second-class treatment which it was. But he did none of these things. He made his voice heard. He spoke out. He did his bit to help erode the general misconceptions about blindness. He added one more chapter to the story of public education which more and more blind Americans are compiling.

He wrote to the President of Delta, with copies to a variety of other people. The response which he received was, to say the least, not responsive. Does that mean that his letter was wasted? Not at all. It will be remembered. It will contribute to the change in public attitudes which we are bringing about.

Here is Paul Kay's letter and the answer he received:

April 14, 1981

Mr. David Garrett, Jr.
President Delta Airlines
Hartsfield International Airport
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Mr. Garrett:

The purpose of this letter is to protest the rude and discriminatory treatment I endured at the hands of your Atlanta Airport supervising agent James Quinn, and your Boston based crew, namely Captain Kenneth Horn and flight attendant Donna Phillips on flight number 412, Atlanta to Kansas City, December 30, 1980. I shall be extremely detailed so that you will understand fully what transpired on the evening of December 30, 1980.

I am blind and use a guide dog. On many occasions I have travelled with Delta Airlines and have been treated always most courteously and given the seat of my choice. An exception did, however, take place during my preparation for boarding and deplaning the above captioned flight.

On the evening of December 30, 1980, I departed Daytona Beach, Florida for Kansas City on Delta's flight 746 connecting to Delta's flight 412 with a three hour layover in Atlanta. I arrived in Atlanta and approached the Delta Agent, Tom Price, meeting my flight and asked him two questions; the first was from which gate flight 412 would be departing, the second was where was a restaurant at which I could have dinner. Mr. Price informed me that flight 412 would be leaving from gate A-33 and that the best restaurant, "Passport 2," was located in the main terminal.

I asked for directions to the main terminal. Mr. Price then was of the opinion that I would be unable to find the restaurant by myself and that he believed I needed assistance. I responded "I'll be fine, just tell me how to get to the restaurant, please." Mr. Price responded with "you have to go down an escalator and get on a train, let me get someone to assist you." Implicit in Mr. Price's comments was that due to my blindness and use of a guide dog I would be automatically incompetent to travel and that I would be unable to ride an escalator or board a train unassisted.

Mr. Price did however, give me explicit directions as to how to get to the restaurant. I repeated those directions in order to make sure that I could find the restaurant independently. This I accomplished without any difficulty by proceeding from gate A-33 down the carpeted corrider to the concrete, making a right turn, continuing to ride the escalator and train, and arrived at the main terminal as easily as any other passenger. I located the restaurant and enjoyed a leisurely dinner.

Approximately two hours later I returned to gate A-33 via the same route. I took my place at the check-in line and followed along to the ticket counter in order to receive my seat assignment and boarding pass for flight 412. While I was in line, Mr. Price recognized me and said, "Did you ever get to eat? I replied, "Yes." Mr. Price then asked in a tone of amazement, "You found the restaurant all by yourself?" Again I replied "Yes." Mr. Price said then, "You're amazing. I have people thirty and forty years old who can't get from one gate to the other. And you're going all over the airport." I responded saying "I get around easily; and my blindness is nothing more than a physical nuisance, and doesn't prevent me from travelling." Here again Mr. Price is conveying the attitude that my blindness makes me an incompetent traveller and that I am unable to move about independently.

When I reached the counter the agent, Walter Tate, asked "Are you the man with the seeing eye dog?" I answered, "Yes, why?" Mr. Tate said, "I want to be sure you have the right seat." I responded, "Why don't you just give me the seat I asked for?" Mr. Tate continued, "Well, we usually like to put you up front." I said, "I prefer not to sit up front. I've travelled all over this country, and I've sat in other seats. Why don't you just give me a regular seat a few rows back, please?" Mr. Tate acquiesced and assigned me to seat 16-aisle. I located a seat in the lounge, and waited for boarding.

A few moments later flight attendant Donna Phillips approached me and said "I am the flight attendant on this flight, we have a rule that you have to sit in the bulkhead seat with your dog." I replied, "There's no such rule and I don't like the bulkhead seat. Ms. Phillips asked "Why?" I answered "because there is more room in a regular seat." Ms. Phillips then said, in an indignant tone of voice "there's more room in the bulkhead seat." I replied in a similar tone "You know nothing about the training of guide dogs and where they can fit on a plane." The reason for my tone of voice was that by this time I had become disgusted with the treatment I was receiving. I just wanted to complete my trip in a normal manner as on other occasions travelling throughout this country with several air carriers, including Delta, until the evening of December 30, 1980. Ms. Phillips said, "I'm going to check into this," and proceeded to walk away.

I sat patiently waiting for a decision from Ms. Phillips, and for boarding to commence. Then supervising agent James Quinn approached. Mr. Quinn informed me that I would not be permitted to sit in seat 16-aisle because I was travelling with a guide dog. He told me, "You can't sit in the aisle, and we have two seats up in first class in the bulkhead and we have reserved them for you."

By this time I had become extremely frustrated with the situation and I replied, "I don't wish to sit in the bulkhead seat. I have a bonafide boarding pass for seat 16-aisle, and I would like to sit there. Mr. Quinn stated that it was for him to determine where I should sit and that I could not sit on the aisle because sitting there with my dog would obstruct the free passage of the other passengers in that row, exiting the aircraft in an emergency." My response was, "With all due respect to you, you know nothing about the training of guide dogs and how they fit under seats. And you know nothing about my ability to leave the plane in an emergency. In the event of an emergency, I will give my dog a command which will get me off the plane so fast the other passengers won't know what hit them." Mr. Quinn then said, "I have to be concerned about the other passengers and your sitting in the aisle will obstruct them."

Mr. Quinn's attitude was filled with prejudice and said a great deal. One, that my blindness makes me an incompetent traveller. Two, that my ability to exit the plane in the event of an emergency is less than another passengers (without considering that another passenger might panic, that another passenger might have another handicap, and that another passenger might have had one too many drinks, that we were flying at night and the possibility of total darkness or smoke on the aircraft would not pose a problem to me but would to other passengers and for these reasons others might encounter greater difficulty than I leaving the plane.) Three, that the life of the passenger in an inboard seat is more valuable than mine, and that that passenger must be afforded conditions of safety superior to mine, and four, that as an air passenger I have less right than others to choose my seat and therefore I may be treated as a second class citizen.

If I pay my fare I have a right to choose my seat, for my money is as valuable and negotiable as anyone else's and I labor as hard for it as other people. Thus, I expect to be treated as equally and fairly as any other passenger.

Mr. Quinn then stated that he would allow me to sit in the aisle seat if he could exchange the seats of the passengers sitting next to me in row 16, thereby leaving those two seats empty. I informed Mr. Quinn that this was discriminatory. To which he responded: "This will resolve the problem and you will be able to sit in the aisle seat." I retorted with: "It's not a resolution at all," and began to say "you know an entire civil rights movement got started because a woman refused to sit at the back of the bus in Selma, Alabama." Mr. Quinn abuptly interrupted me in the middle of the sentence with, "we're not going to go into that," put his hand on my knee and boosted himself from his crouched position and rudely walked away. The other passengers in row 16 were paged and their seats were exchanged. Mr. Quinn returned and said, "We have resolved the problem and left the entire row empty, you'll be able to sit in the aisle seat." He acted as if he were granting me a great privilege.

I continued to press for my rights and said "What you are doing to me is isolating me from other people," and then I finished the sentence he had interrupted which began, "You know an entire civil rights movement got started...." Mr. Quinn denied isolating me and insisted that he was accommodating me and was arrogant in the process. Mr. Quinn then presented me with an ultimatum that I either accept his decision that I sit alone in row 16 or in the bulkhead or not be permitted to board the plane. I stated to Mr. Quinn "Look, you've got me over a barrel, I have to get to Kansas City and if you insist that I sit in a particular seat on this plane or not be permitted to board, I will sit there. But, I will also take your name and write a strong letter of protest to Delta Airlines." Mr. Quinn said, "That's fine," in a tone that exhibited that he could care less about my letter writing. Mr. Quinn then wrote his name on my ticket envelope. Mr. Garrett, this is that strong letter of protest.

Mr. Quinn asked for my name because he said he would have to submit a report also. I said "my name is Paul Kay." Mr. Quinn informed me that he thought my behavior was unreasonable which I disputed then and take issue with now. I was merely standing up for my rights as a free American citizen, expecting the same treatment accorded to other passengers.

I requested to speak to the Captain, to which Mr. Quinn replied, "you've already spoken to the highest authority." I asked "what is the Captain's name." Mr. Quinn said, "I don't know but I'll find out." I said "O.K. and please get me the name of the flight attendant also." Mr. Quinn left, reappeared and said, "I have some additional names for you," and added the aforementioned names of the Captain, the flight attendant and the two other agents to the envelope.

Mr. Quinn then informed me that he would be submitting his report and that several people in the lounge had contacted him expressing their view that my conduct was unbecoming. In the first place, no one said anything to me about my behavior and in the second place, based on Mr. Quinn's behavior, I would question his statement's veracity. The statements of the people who allegedly complained reveal an attitude that; as blind people, so long as we stay in our place, we are reasonable, when we assert our rights we are unreasonable and ill-mannered. This is similar to the struggle that blacks experienced in this country in the 1920's and 30's.

If fighting for my rights is unbecoming conduct according to the people who complained to Mr. Quinn then it is they not I who need a reeducation as to etiquette and an education as to how blind people function and how they should behave when they are discriminated against. I was acting quite reasonably. Discrimination is discrimination and it must cease. We as blind people must fight discrimination each time we experience it and must and will stand up for our rights as first-class citizens.

Just prior to boarding I asked Mr. Quinn why he had greater authority than the Captain in determining where I would sit on the plane. He answered that, "The Captain has already made that decision as to where you should sit." I asked, "why didn't the Captain come and talk to me about it?" To which Mr. Quinn responded arrogantly, "The Captain doesn't have to consult you in order to make a decision. Mr. Quinn and I parted and then boarding commenced.

I located seat 16-aisle and sat there all by myself from Atlanta to Kansas City. As I told Mr. Quinn, I was being isolated, which certainly occurred. I enjoy flying and meeting people. I have met some very interesting people as a result of sitting next to them on airplanes. A pleasant conversation with a fellow passenger can lead to many relationships, both business and social and because of Mr. Quinn's and Captain Horn's actions I was denied such a benefit which may take place during air travel.

While in flight to Kansas City I made a request of the flight attendant to speak to the Captain. I was informed by the flight attendant that the Captain could not leave the cockpit (which I doubted, since I have heard of instances where Captains have left their cockpits in order to talk to passengers during flight.) If I would wait, however, until we landed in Kansas City, the Captain would be glad to speak to me after all the passengers had deplaned." I agreed. This was another form of harrassment. The Captain surely could have spoken to me prior to everyone's disembarking. Friends were meeting me at the airport and the delay caused anxiety in my friends. It placed a doubt in their minds as to whether I had made the flight.

The plane landed in Kansas City on schedule and I waited patiently at my seat until all the passengers had deplaned in order to talk to the Captain. While I was waiting I overheard a conversation between a flight attendant and a passenger which indicated that the passenger was suffering from a sprained ankle. This passenger was seated in the rear of the aircraft and was deplaning through the front door and a wheel chair had been provided her at the gate for transportation. I would be willing to wager that this passenger's seat was not restricted even though she was not completely ambulatory. Also, I would be willing to wager that no one was concerned about her ability to evacuate the plane in an emergency or whether she was obstructing another passenger from evacuating safely. But because I am blind and use a guide dog my abilities to travel were questioned and my seat was restricted. What an attitude exhibited by Delta Airlines. It was pure discrimination against the blind. Such discrimination must cease.

The Captain found me at my seat and said, raising his voice in an abrupt, arrogant and patronizing tone, "You wanted to talk to me?" I responded, "Are you the Captain?" He answered, "Yes." I asked "What is your name?" He replied, "I believe you got it before—Horn, H-O-R-N." I said, "I'd like to get your version of the story as to how I was treated back in Atlanta." He replied, in the exact tone as previously and continued to speak so during the entire conversation, "I believe you were treated very cooperatively," I replied, "I disagree" and asked, "Did you say that I couldn't sit in the aisle seat?" The Captain said, "The company regulation, I interrupted with, "Did you say I couldn't sit in the aisle seat or not." The Captain put his hand on my left shoulder and tapping it repeatedly, said, "Don't play lawyer with me." I replied, "I am a lawyer, please don't touch me and please don't yell at me." The Captain insisted that this was his normal tone of voice, though he immediately lowered it and he continued to be extremely rude. Further, I informed the Captain that his touching me and Agent Quinn's touching me in Atlanta constituted an assault and battery. Of course the Captain denied ever touching me which was a bold faced lie. The Captain never read me any regulation pertaining to where a blind person with a guide dog must sit on the airplane nor for that matter did any other employee of Delta Airlines read me any such regulation. I must presume, therefore, that no such regulation exists and that it was invented by the Captain.

I then deplaned and was greeted by my friends meeting me at the airport. They said "Hi Paul, you had a problem?," to which I responded in a disgusted tone, "Yes." My disgust resulted from being upset. My only wish was to be treated like a human being with the same dignity accorded others. I asked my friends, "How do you know what happened? They replied, "A flight attendant said you were obstructing a seat." This was a lie as well as a slander.

Due to the incident I have described I suffered considerable emotional distress; that is from the initial hassling by the agents in Atlanta, to that of the flight crew to Kansas City. It took me several hours to calm down and to make matters worse I encountered great difficulty in sleeping.

On my return trip home I travelled on Trans World Airlines (TWA), Kansas City to Washington's National Airport with an intermediate stop in Chicago. I was treated with the utmost courtesy and dignity, a normal human being who happens to be blind and using a guide dog, travelling half the way across the country. I approached the ticket counter and was simply asked by the agent, "smoking or nonsmoking, Mr. Kay? I replied, "nonsmoking a few rows back, please." The agent responded a moment later, "I only have middle seats smoking." I said, "That's fine," and sat there from Kansas City to Chicago. I deplaned in Chicago and attempted to change to a non-smoking seat; none was available and I remained in the middle seat for the Chicago to Washington leg of the flight. During the two legs of the flight both the window and aisle seats were occupied by passengers.

No TWA employee was concerned as to where I would sit with my guide dog nor whether I would be obstructing a passenger's access to the aisle in the case of an emergency. No one at TWA questioned my ability to travel independently. TWA was extremely accommodating and I enjoyed thoroughly my flight from Kansas City to Washington.

I have deliberated at length as to what remedies I might pursue to prevent a recurrence of the incident I have described. As I see it there are several, both short and long range. Some short range remedies are; one, a personal boycott of Delta Airlines, as well as encouraging my friends to do likewise. In fact, I have recently travelled again to Kansas City and I specifically chose to fly on TWA because of the dignified manner in which I was treated by that airline on my return flight from Kansas City to Washington on January 4, 1981. I shall continue to do so as long as Delta Airlines maintains its discriminatory policies namely, requiring blind people with guide dogs to sit in the bulkhead seat or prohibiting blind people from sitting in aisle seats unless the entire row is left vacant and thereby isolating the blind person from the public.

Two, an attempt to have this letter published in the press, including airline publications.

Three, a demand that I be furnished a copy of the regulation to which Captain Horn referred, pertaining to the seating of blind passengers accompanied by guide dogs on Delta Airlines. If it exists a demand that it be rescinded and withdrawn from circulation by Delta and that blind passengers accompanied by guide dogs be permitted to sit anywhere on the aircraft, and, further that proof be furnished to me that all agents and crew personnel of Delta Airlines have been notified of such a rescission. Furthermore, I demand that supervising agent Quinn, agent Tate and members of the flight crew Captain Horn and Ms. Phillips be reprimanded for their insulting, demeaning, dehumanising behavior toward me and that I be compensated by Delta Airlines for the emotional distress I suffered caused by Delta employees.

If these demands are not granted I shall consider pursuing a long range remedy. One such remedy, often used in cases of discrimination, is legal action, and I have been contemplating bringing an individual lawsuit, as well as a class action, in the Courts.

If in fact Delta Airlines has promulgated a regulation restricting the seating of blind passengers accompanied by guide dogs then it is clearly without merit when you consider what I have said earlier, which bears repeating here. My ability to exit a plane in the event of an emergency is no less than another passenger's. Another passenger might panic. Another passenger, might have another handicap, such as the woman on flight 412 with a sprained ankle who was greeted by a wheelchair waiting for her at the end of the jetway. Another passenger might have had one too many drinks limiting that passenger from exiting the plane expeditiously in the event of an emergency. We were flying at night with the possibility that darkness or smoke might obscure the aircraft's interior in the event of an accident. A sighted passenger would probably have difficulty handling such a situation, which would not phase me at all.

If Delta Airlines would take across the board safety measures in seating assignments, rather than singling out the seating of blind passengers accompanied by guide dogs, perhaps I would believe that the airline was acting in good faith. Notice I have said perhaps, because my experiences have taught me that such across the board safety measures are not the case.

Blind people lead normal, useful and productive lives and it is high time the airlines recognize that we are normal people who cannot see. It is also high time that the airlines realize that we as blind people live our lives in the same manner as others and function as contributing members of society. We must be and we demand to be treated by the Airlines as first class citizens because we are simply no longer willing to be second class citizens.

The kind of discrimination which I suffered on flight 412 on the evening of December 30, 1980, must cease at once so that henceforth blind people accompanied by guide dogs travelling on airlines will be treated with the same dignity accorded other passengers.

I look forward to your response.

Very truly yours,

Attorney At Law

cc: Mr. Edward Meyers, President
Trans World Airlines

Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, President
National Federation of the Blind

Senator Paula Hawkins

The Braille Monitor

John Golden, Director
Bureau of Compliance & Commerce Protection
Civil Aeronautics Board

Mr. Edward Faberman, Esq.
Assistant Chief Counsel
Regulations & Enforcement
Federal Aviation Administration

Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law

Aviation Week & Space Technology

Aviation Daily

The Washington Post

The Washington Star

The Blind Missourian

Fromer Travel Service

April 24, 1981

Mr. Paul E. Kay
Attorney at Law
Silver Spring, Maryland

Dear Mr. Kay:

I was sorry to learn from your letter of April 14 about the misunderstanding that occurred on your flight of December 30 from Atlanta to Kansas City.

Delta accepts blind passengers without restriction. While we want to offer assistance to the visually impaired if requested, we certainly expect our people to respect the wishes of our passengers in this regard.

When blind passengers are accompanied by a seeing eye dog, we permit the dog in the passenger cabin at no charge. We have found, however, that in order to provide maximum comfort for the passenger and the dog and in consideration of other passengers who may occupy the same seat row, we do prefer that passengers with seeing eye dogs be seated next to the window in a row immediately behind a bulkhead where there is extra leg room. This view is supported by THE SEEING EYE, INC. of Morristown, New Jersey, who in a pamphlet prepared especially for airline personnel mentions that a window seat is the preferred location so that seat-mates will not have to step over the dog to reach the aisle. A copy of the pamphlet is enclosed for your information.

As a common carrier, and additionally as an equal opportunity employer, we are responsible for ensuring identical treatment for all our customers. Delta has been particularly diligent in trying to avoid any taint or prejudice for or against any person or group, and deliberate discourtesy would result in immediate disciplinary action.

Please accept my apology for any appearance of excessive concern by our people for your comfort and the comfort of our other passengers. You may be sure that your comments will be carefully reviewed with the personnel involved in order to bring about improved performance in the future.

Again, thank you for writing. Constructive letters from our valued customers are one of the best ways we have to know which areas need additional attention. We would appreciate the opportunity to serve you again soon so that we may regain your confidence.


David C. Garrett, Jr.

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The National Federation of the Blind

Date: May 5, 1981
From: Hazel tenBroek
Re: What now in Rehabilitation?

The current Administration has exhibited a decided penchant for solving social problems by giving block grants to the states. What are the implications for programs for the blind in general and the NFB in particular? Briefly:

Do block grants mean the end of rehab development by the Feds? Perhaps that is worth thinking about: Is Rehab as currently conceived worth saving? Given our advances, the area of postsecondary education needs special attention. The implementation of the "similar benefits review" project and the forced uses of college financial aid criteria to obtain rehab services makes continued use of rehabilitation departments highly questionable.

What now with the 504 superstructure? What is worth saving? Is there going to be a renewed effort to get the blind into the Civil Rights Act? What happens to the important work of the OCR?

General protection of constitutional rights is a growing problem and carries, as you are well aware, a considerable financial burden. These problems can but increase which will raise the need for more funds.

What to do? The obvious answer—go back to the private sector. I say "back" since in the old days efforts by the blind were supported by philanthropic groups. Today, the blind have the organization, the power, the knowledge, and the experience to get their own funding from business and industry. I am sure you are cooking something.

"Opportunities for the Blind" may come to life yet. While those ideas are now some thirty years old, the files may yield something helpful.

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Section 504--When are Accommodations Unreasonable


Last week I received the following newspaper article from my uncle. It appeared in the May 11, 1981, edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Since receiving this article, I have been aware that this case is receiving much publicity in the newspapers and on radio and television newscasts. Some reports contain more details than does the enclosed article. If the circumstances concerning Ms. King-Smith's case against the Pittsburgh School District are correctly set forth in this news release, I believe this case could have far reaching and devastating consequences regarding the employment of blind teachers.

As I understand it, Ms. King-Smith, a blind math teacher, has been dismissed from the Pittsburgh School District following such discipline problems as the students throwing paper wads, putting gum in her hair, and even tying her shoes together. According to one report, Ms. King-Smith began teaching in a Pittsburgh high school and was transferred to a middle school when she had difficulty coping with the high school students. Following her transfer to the middle school, it is reported that she continued to have discipline problems within her classroom. She was subsequently suspended and the school district now intends to hold a hearing on the matter.

Apparently, Ms. King-Smith's lawyer, Harry Gruener, intends to base the case on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and to argue that Ms. King-Smith should be reinstated and provided with a classroom aide as a reasonable accommodation. Mr. Gruener is quoted as saying that "a reasonable accommodation for a blind person is a pair of eyes, just like ramps are for someone in a wheelchair." If Mr. Gruener's arguments should prevail and Ms. King-Smith is reinstated by the Pittsburgh School District and provided with a classroom aide, a precedent will be set which could affect the employment of all blind teachers. This would be "preferential treatment" which I believe we do not want and can not afford.

In the past decade, many school districts have come to employ some classroom aides to promote a trend in education toward more individualized instruction of students. Blind and sighted teachers alike utilize such classroom aides, not as disciplinarians, but as paraprofessionals who work under the supervision and direction of the teacher in the instruction of one or more students. Not all school districts have aides and even those school districts that do, do not have aides for all classrooms. With the current trend toward budget cuts, school districts are feeling the "crunch," too, and funding for classroom aides is disappearing. As I am sure we agree, classroom management and discipline are interrelated. Further, if one school district is required to provide an aide for the district's blind teacher, it will soon be said by school districts that to employ a blind teacher is to be required to hire an aide.

One more point should be made. We of the NFB have always said that we seek first-class citizenship with all of the responsibilities which that implies. As a part of this, we have pressed for the employment of qualified blind persons. Not all sighted persons succeed as teachers, nor are they expected to do so. Similarily, not all blind persons succeed as teachers. If the kinds of disciplinary problems described in the news release concerning Ms. King-Smith's teaching experiences are indeed factual, one is left to wonder whether she is suited for the teaching profession.


PITTSBURGH (UPI)--A blind math teacher is fighting to keep her job after being suspended because public school students pelted her with paper balls, tied her shoes together, and stole money from her purse.

The Pittsburgh school district hopes to dismiss Ceinwen King-Smith, 35, because of disciplinary problems in her class.

The teacher, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University and has a master's degree from Harvard, wants the district to reinstate her and provide a full-time aide to help her control the students.

"A reasonable accommodation for a blind person is a pair of eyes, just like ramps are for someone in a wheelchair," said her attorney, Harry Gruener. She has been suspended with pay pending a hearing next month.

THE TROUBLES for Mrs. King-Smith began when she took a job teaching math at Brashear High School in March, 1980. A transfer to Latimer Middle School provided no relief.

Students threw 60 paper balls at her during one period. They stole money from her purse. Her shoes were tied together when she got close to a student's desk. She has spent hours removing chewing gum wads from her long black hair.

The school district contends if Mrs. King-Smith cannot handle her students, she has no place teaching. Persifor Oliver, assistant solicitor for the Pittsburgh schools, said: "Discipline is primarily the responsibility of the teacher and we feel a full-time aide to discipline students is not required by law."

MRS. KING-SMITH, who uses a Braille seating chart to memorize the names and voices of 150 students in her five classes, had spent 10 years teaching in private schools. She went through a federal court discrimination suit and out-of-court settlement to get her Pittsburgh job. She said she wants to stay in public schools now because it's where she feels most useful.

"I see a lot of really good teachers who leave the system because of discipline problems," Mrs. King-Smith said. "So who stays? The policemen. . .and they are not all good teachers."

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Reprinted with permission from the Baltimore Sun Sunday, April 26, 1981.

(Note: Dr. Al Maneki is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. In the fall of 1980 he raised more than $2,500 in the Federation's Walk-A-Thon for the Blind held in Baltimore, which is more than twice as much as anyone else raised. He also was the top money raiser for the Walk-A-Thon in 1979. He is also among the top recruiters of Associates.)

Al Maneki admits he has "caught the racing bug" after competing in his first foot-race March 28. Such an admission would be normal for an average 38-year-old Columbia resident, and indeed Mr. Maneki considers himself "just an average guy." But the fact is, he is legally blind.

"Blind people have been handicapped by society's belief that blindness is more limiting than it really is," said Mr. Maneki, who has been running alone for 15 years, ever since he entered graduate school in mathematics at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he earned a doctorate degree. "Blind people cannot do all of the same things the sighted can do. I cannot drive a car. But life can be meaningful and productive for the blind person. We can be employed and develop interests. One of my interests is running."

His racing debut took place in the Irish Spring 5-kilometer sponsored by the Westminster Road Runners, and for the 3.1—mile course he averaged about 10 minutes per mile. That is not as fast as he would like to run, but now that the bug has caught him, anything could happen. "I plan to run in Clyde's 10-kilometer (May 3 in Columbia), and I hope to run in a few others."

He runs five or six, times a week during spring and fall for periods of half an hour to two hours and a 10-mile distance is well within his range.

"I usually run alone over several courses that I feel comfortable on, where the streets are wide, where you don't have to cross traffic, and where I know the potholes."

Before running the Irish Spring, a course he was unfamiliar with, two friends, Tony and Sue Sager, went over a map with him so that he had as much information as possible beforehand. Sue Sager, who runs about as fast as Mr. Maneki, ran with him to help point out the upcoming obstacles. He also ran holding a walking stick.

Ramona Walhof, spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, which has its national headquarters in Baltimore, was not surprised by the accomplishments of Mr. Maneki, a federation member.

"It is not unique. Blind people do run. But it is unusual," she said. "Using a cane helps, but it slows you down. The best blind runners use a walkie-talkie. Someone will drive along the route to tell them the course, and that way they don't have to worry about running with someone."

Mr. Maneki, who is employed at the Defense Department at Fort Meade, has no role model to follow as a blind athlete, but when we was growing up in Hawaii in the late Forties and Fifties no professional role models existed.

"To become an engineer seemed impossible, so I was told to think of becoming a mathematician. Now, although blind kids still do not have all the role models they need, there are blind lawyers, blind chemists, blind computer specialists and even blind engineers," said Mr. Maneki, who has been blind since birth, although not totally.

His parents were farmers, but they had a Japanese ancestry that valued hard work and a good education.

"My parents did not know what chances a blind person would have, but I was fortunate that they valued education," Mr. Maneki said.

He taught for six years at North Dakota State University before landing the Defense Department job in 1974. He chose Columbia in which to live because it was "well laid out, although the public transportation system is inadequate."

During the summer he keeps in shape by swimming laps in the neighborhood pool.

He has tried cross-country skiing and even downhill skiing once.

"You need someone behind you to tell you the course. I did downhill once on the beginners slope and thought it was enough." He participates in the walkathon in the fall.

Concerning the upcoming Clyde's race May 3, Mr. Maneki thinks that the 6.2-mile distance will be "nothing."

"I've run 10 to 11 miles on occasion this year. I don't like crowds, but I am looking forward to it because I've never been in a race that big." Clyde's 10-kilometer is expected to draw 2,000 runners this year.

Only one of them will be blind.

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The National Federation of the Blind of Oregon met March 13 to 15, 1981 at the Ramada Inn Springfield. We were joined by guests from Washington, California and Idaho, as well as special guests Ralph Sanders from our National Office, and Mrs. Hazel tenBroek.

Saturday morning saw discussion with Peter Murphy of the Reagan Transition Committee, as well as representatives of Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield, and Congressman James Weaver's offices. The director of the Oregon Commission for the Blind reported on the movement of services of rehabilitation from the Oregon Orientation Center in Salem, to a new center in Portland. Ralph Sanders reported on our National activities, and discussed our relations with the 97th congress.

Following in the afternoon, the Insurance commission, the Oregon Civil Rights Commission (discussing why cases were taking over a year to process) as well as a panel on education in public schools. Special note should be given to Rich Pimentel, of the Governors Steering Committee on the Handicapped, for a rousing discussion of jobs and rehab. His novel suggestion of dismissing all Job Development staff on Christmas, and only re-hiring them when they brought back ten jobs for the clients, warmed the hearts of our unemployed.

Saturday evening, Ralph Sanders inspired us with his key-note address, and a charter was presented to the Lane County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.

Sunday morning was occupied by discussion of a proposed project for braille street signs, and serves as an indicator of how far we still have to go.

Elected officers for the next year are:

Dave Hyde, president
Karen Cox, first vice-president
Mike Bullis, second vice-president
Patti Bullis, secretary
Stan Cox, treasurer
Board Members:
Carl Reid
Judy Schnieder
Gwenneth VanFrank
and Ron Knepper

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In large mixing bowl pour 1 3/4 C boiling water over 1 C quick Quaker oates. Let stand 10 minutes.  

Stir in
1 C Sugar 
1 C lightly packed brown sugar 
½ C soft margarine 
Add 2 large or 3 medium eggs. Mix well.  

Sift together
1¾ C flour  
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt  
1 T cocoa
Add to above mixture.

Stir in ½ package (12 oz. size) chocolate chips. Pour into greased and floured 9" x 13" pan. Spread remainder of chocolate chips and ¾ c chopped nuts on top of batter. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.

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Pat Gormley, Federation member from Maryland, is playing the trumpet this summer in the new Italian Pavilion at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Italian Pavilion has only been open for a few months. Pat says this is the opportunity he has been waiting for.

The decade of the baby continues. A card from Larry and Sandy Streeter announces:

Name: Jennifer Kylean
Born at: Dallas, Texas
On: May 9, 1981
Time: 8:29 AM
Weight: 8 lbs., 15½ oz.
Parents: Larry and Sandy Streeter

Ray Graber, a long-time member of the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas, works as a turret lathe operator for Fairbanks Morse Pump Division. He is not just another worker but a man of creativity and imagination. Recently he invented a device as an attachment to the turret lathe he operates which will increase productivity for everyone using the machine. Ray wrote me as follows: "I designed this fixture and had it manufactured outside the plant. The company is very impressed with it; and I've already had lunch with the president and other company executives. This fixture will help everyone who runs this machine; and will allow the operator to set up exact tolerance and maintain it consistently. The reason I designed this fixture—the machine would only operate to 20 inches of shaft length; and I am running shaft up to 40 inches plus. Without this fixture, it would be necessary to take long stock out of the machine; measure to correct length; mark it; put it back into the machine; and line it up exactly with cut-off tool. My projection is that productivity will increase from 50-75%."

From Health Sports, Inc.:

The eighth annual Ski for Light International will be held in the Black Hills of South Dakota, February 7-14, 1982. Ski for Light International, sponsored by HEALTHsports, Inc. in cooperation with the Sons of Norway and the Black Hills Ski for Light Regional Committee, is a week long program designed to introduce visually impaired and other physically disabled adults to cross-country skiing.

Visually or mobility impaired adults may request participant applications from Grethe Twiford, Screening Coordinator, P.O. Box 2971, Reston, Virginia 22091. The approximate cost is $175.00 for first-timers and $225.00 for repeaters. This cost covers room and board based on double occupancy. Stipends are available for first time participants based on need. Application deadline is November 15, 1981.

From William H. Porter, 3705 North Lewis Avenue, Zion, Illinois 60099:

"I have a two-year-old APOLLO Model 4A Electronic Visual Aid Read/Write Machine for sale. It is a 'piggy-back' unit where the 17-inch monitor sits atop the camera stand. This takes up much less desk space. However, the monitor may be used on the desk instead of on top of the camera. The unit includes an X/Y table, 60 to 1 zoom lens, spare bulbs, instruction manual, and is in excellent working order. I am asking $1,300—about one thousand to twelve hundred dollars less than a new machine and well worth it. I would, of course, pay all UPS shipping costs if the unit had to be sent any distance. I can no longer use the unit because my sight continues to deteriorate."

From West Virginia:

In January of this year Dick Porter, the hardworking President of the NFB of West Virginia, received both an honor and a responsibility. He was appointed by Governor John D. Rockefeller IV to a four-year term on the Governor's Committee on Disabled Persons.

From Chicago:

On April 11, 1981, the Chicago Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois held elections. The results were: Michael Cramer, President; Peter Grunwald. First Vice President; Cecilia Ross, Second Vice President; David Meyer, Secretary; and Donald Gillmore, Treasurer. The following people were elected to the Board: Tony Burda, Rick Canode, Mary Grunwald, and Jean Elliott.

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