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 Gerald Kass




by Jim Gashel

by Harold Snider


by Kenneth Jernigan

by Jim Omvig


by Julie Vogt


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


The Presidential Report is always one of the high points of the NFB convention. This year was no exception. As usual, the Presidential Report was the first item on the agenda for Tuesday afternoon. President Jernigan spoke as follows: What a year it has been! Since the last convention the National Center for the Blind (our National Headquarters) was paid for. We computerized and did a great deal of remodeling. For the second year in a row, we ended slightly in the black financially. The difference was the effort of the members. Sure, we had mail campaigns (and there were those who tried to interfere with them), but the contributions from the membership overwhelmingly made the difference. Later in the week you will hear a financial report in detail, but for the present let me say to you that the protection that you have on the finances of the organization runs like this: The Board of Directors of this organization, which constitutes the collective leadership, goes over in detail the expenses of the organization—it plans and budgets. Every check that is signed is prepared by our accountant. Every check is reviewed by our Treasurer, Dick Edlund. Every check that is over $500 or that is unusual (and if there is a question, it's unusual) is checked by me. Every check is checked by Mrs. Anderson, and she signs them—except when they are signed by the Treasurer, and they always are if they involve any expense accounts either for Mrs. Anderson or for me. Therefore, you have an accountant, Dick Edlund, Mrs. Anderson, and me all involved, as well as the Board of Directors. Beyond that, an independent firm of certified public accountants audits the books. It independently verifies with banks and suppliers what our books say. I think we can be proud of our system of bookkeeping and financial controls.

If we will all do our part in the year ahead, we can not only come out in the black again but we can begin to do some of the other things we need to do. Remodeling needs to be done at the Center. The unassigned area needs to be made into rooms where we can house seminars, board meetings, individual blind persons who come there to stay, and attorneys who come to work on civil rights matters. We need to raise money for that. How much? If we did the full amount of remodeling that needs to be done, probably $370,000 or $380,000. Does it have to be done now? No, because the Center is free and clear and paid for, and we don't have to pay rent for our space in it. It's in pretty good shape as you'll see when you go down there. But that's something we ought to do when we can. Also, it would be well if we changed the sprinkler system down there. How much would it cost? Close to $100,000. Why do we need to change it? Because we want to get out of the oil heating business and to have the tenants provide their own heat. If we do that, somebody is going to decide to economize on heat and the temperature in the rented quarters will get down and it will freeze. When it freezes, the sprinkler will go off, and we will have trouble all over the building. We need a dry sprinkler system that has compressed air in it instead of water, and we really need to upgrade the sprinkler system. About 100,000 bucks would do that. Does it have to be done now? No. Windows need to be finished. We have several hundred in the building, and they need to have Lexan put on them to be vandal proof. We have already done a good deal of that, and we need to do more of it. If we do all of the glasswork in the building and put aluminum wrap on the wooden parts of the windows, you're talking about close to another $100,000. If we were to put in a brand new heating system (which we ought to) electrical & heat pump and the rest, you're probably talking about three-hundred and fifty or sixty thousand. If we did outside brick work and some outside concrete work you're probably talking about (enough to finish the job up to the totality of all I said) close to a million dollars. Does that mean we have to do all of that this year? No. Next year? No, we don't. The building is paid for; the whole block is ours; it's free and clear; we've got no mortgage on it; and we could live in it very nicely until we can get it done. But it's something as a goal to work towards. We already have something that we can take tremendous pride in, and it's ours.

Our public relations effort this year has been extremely successful. Perhaps the high point of that came last month when we had a chance for three hours on the Larry King Program. That program brought us an unusually heavy response. We got more in a week in the way of calls from JOB applicants than we have had generally in the course of a month before that. It has been tremendously helpful. Inquiries have come in. That program is estimated to have a listening audience in excess of six million people. We got our message out. Certain items have been sent out this year from the national office that you ought to know about. In the area of literature and materials (print, Braille, discs) we sent out from the national office several hundred thousand items. In addition, we sent out thousands and thousands of aids and appliances to blind persons including 1,887 talking clocks. Of course, we sent out all sorts of things besides that.

I can tell you that we have engaged in other things. Namely, we have had calls from Seattle, from Royal Maid which is a workshop in Mississippi owned by National Industries for the Blind, and from Mississippi Industries for the Blind. They were asking us to help get them organized with the Teamsters. We are working on it. In addition, we've had a matter in Arkansas at the Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind. Forty-five of the forty-eight workers there signed cards saying that they wanted an election. The NLRB has now sanctioned hearings and ordered an election. Dick Edlund went down there and who do you suppose was there to testify against giving the blind the right to have an election? Well, you wouldn't be surprised that Lou Reeves, the former head of NAC, was there. You wouldn't be surprised that Roy Kumpe, former head of Arkansas Enterprises was there. These are people who say they're for the blind. They all appeared opposing it. The judge finally had to silence Roy Kumpe and tell him enough was enough. Four hundred pages of transcript was taken. It started at ten o'clock in the morning and went until nine that night. Dick Edlund, as I have said, was there, and he has the transcript here with him.

In Iowa, the Commission for the Blind has turned into one of the more repressive agencies. You know about the Hester Brunner case. I would say to you that a man who's here and a member of the Federation, Joe Van Lent, has been courageous in what he's done. You can talk about standing tall; he has stood tall. Joe Van Lent has a vending machine; it's seven years old: it's broken. Sylvester Nemmers had a vending machine over in his vending stand which was only a year old and working fine; it was replaced by the Commission for the Blind with a brand new machine. Joe's was not fixed. Joe Van Lent put a sign up on his machine and said: "This machine is seven years old and has not been replaced. One over in Sylvester Nemmers' operation in the other building was a year old and was replaced. If you think this is unfair or if you want some pop out of this machine, contact the governor's office or contact the Chairman of the Board of the Commission for the Blind." Federationists don't frighten.

Elsie Grove, who is here and is a staff member of the Commission for the Blind, was accused of stealing information out of the files (although people said they had no evidence of it), and it was said she was not demoted, she was "transferred" out of field operations over into the Library. We helped her with an appeal on that matter, and if necessary we'll help her to go to court on the matter. There are people on the Commission staff who had the guts to stand up and give testimony in that case on her side. Some of those people are here today. We are strong in Iowa, and we are going to be a lot stronger. The Commission for the Blind in Iowa has (and I know, for I got the Attorney General's rulings) the power to permit people (it was a policy voted by the Board) to come to NFB conventions without being charged vacation time. John Taylor refused to let them do that. The matter was taken to the Commission Board. The Board told him he had to look into it. It created some ruckus. I think one or two got to come that way this year, but he objected to it.

Blind Iowans went to look at public records in the Commission. They were charged $9.50 an hour for the right to look at those records on the grounds that a supervisor had to be there. These are public records like Commission minutes. This happened, even though they were in a room with just those materials. The Attorney General's office said for newspaper publication that no other office that he knew of made charges for letting people see public records. Yet, I am asked sometimes if the place has changed.

There are other things. Since last year when we met in Minneapolis, one Jesse Rosten is no longer the Executive Director of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind. I think we assisted in that. As I understand it, he now works in a synagogue, a proper place for meditation about one's behavior.

We have had seminars during the last year, and lots of them. We have had four since last convention, and they were good ones.

I told you earlier that we would (if we could get them) sell calculators for $100 each, the Panasonic Talking Calculators. Mr. Gallagher will be speaking later. I do not know whether the Foundation plans to sell those. I was told that they were planning to sell them at a higher price, but I don't know that. I was also told that the Foundation had met with Panasonic people and that they had negotiated and had requested that we not be given calculators. But let me say this: I do not know that to be true, and I do not want to state it as truth. Mr. Gallagher can comment on it if he cares to. I would hope that that is not the case.

We have new publications. In fact, we are beginning to get a large number of publications that are really, truly professional in the best meaning of that term What do I mean by the publications? You know many of them, and you ought to go out into the exhibit room and get acquainted with the ones you don't know about. But here are some of the new ones: The booklet called Rising Expectations—Status Report 1980 has some very good articles in it and is available for sale. I believe you will find it a good thing to get into the libraries in your area. Encounter has been published. This was done by staff members at the Nebraska Agency for the Blind. We were granted permission to reproduce it in mass and distribute it. It's an excellent publication. Many of those Nebraska staff members are members of this organization. We have worked closely with that agency. We have a second edition of Your School Includes a Blind Student by Doris Willoughby, which will be coming out in August. It is updated and revised. I think it will be even more useful. We have another book which will be coming out in August and will be useful for any blind college student or any blind person planning a career. It is entitled Postsecondary Education and Career Development—A Resource Guide for the Blind. Visually Impaired, and Physically Handicapped.

Speaking of jobs, JOB opened in December of 1979 (which has been about a year and a half), and we had to have time to gear up. Nevertheless, we have assisted one hundred and thirteen people to find competitive employment, and I mean competitive. We have registered well over eleven hundred people. We are dealing now with thousands of employers. We have held something like twelve workshops since the last convention. We are working with the Bell System telephone companies (Dick Edlund has done that, Mrs. Walhof, and others) in trying to get blind persons the chance to operate the TSPS and other telephone equipment.

Also, we have civil rights cases we have engaged in in the last year. I'd like to talk to you about some of those. I think you'll be pleased. Let me quickly review them with you. Geraldine Jackson: This is a blind vendor grievance against the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. Al Evans served as a member of the federal arbitration panel, and Jim Gashel provided testimony. The issue involves interpretation of a state rule and the Massachusetts Commission's conduct of the vending facility program. The decision has just been released and it's not what we had hoped for. We may be called on to take this case on appeal, and we will.

Betty Moffit is one of our newest members in Tennessee. Last fall she filed for arbitration of a dispute with the Tennessee agency. She is a blind vendor. Nothing happened federally on her request for arbitration until she sought Federation help. The case is now moving, and the arbitration panel will be convened. We will continue to be a part of it.

Tony James: This is a dispute with the Alaska agency. Tony James is a blind vendor up there. We are helping with an appeal over the denial of a promotion. A local attorney is working on that case, and that's with our assistance.

Hester Brunner—you know something about this case. This case was in Iowa. You would have read about it in the Monitor. She operates a cafeteria in the Iowa Department of Job Service headquarters building in Des Moines. She is at this convention, so you can talk to her about it. She became the operator in July, 1980, when the Commission for the Blind was granted permission to have that cafeteria in its Business Enterprises Program. From the beginning Mrs. Brunner had problems with Commission officials. In one incident, the BEP supervisor, Mr. Robinson, threw a plate full of eggs into the grease trap by the grill in the kitchen because he was angry with Mrs. Brunner. This morning Mr. Nemmers said it didn't happen. Ask her whether it happened. Mr. Robinson didn't deny it. In October when some employees at the Job Service building made complaints, Mrs. Brunner was placed on probation by the Commission. At this point, we intervened by filing a complaint of our own against the Commission. In April we brought the matter to a final and totally satisfactory conclusion. The Commission backed down just days before the hearing. They didn't want the embarrassment of defeat. The settlement is everything Mrs. Brunner wanted: authority to run her own business, and to do it in a way that is with dignity and will give her protection. Ask her.

Joseph Minter: In 1980 we filed a complaint on Joe Minter's behalf with the Department of Labor. The state of West Virginia discriminated against him by hiring sighted persons to work in a cafeteria at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy at Beckley, West Virginia. The cafeteria was being operated under the Randolph-Sheppard Act, and Joe Minter applied for a job as a kitchen helper. The West Virginia Society for the Blind and Severely Disabled said they were not sure what kind of work a blind person could do in a cafeteria. Earlier this year the Department of Labor finished its investigation. It issued a report which said that no discrimination occurred. We're appealing that decision. In the meantime, Joe Minter has had part-time work in the cafeteria. It shows you what happens if we don't apply pressure—and what happens if (when circumstances demand) we do apply pressure.

Marie Thaler and Billy Godsey: two blind vendors in Tennessee. Last year they were in a situation where their vending facilities were directly competing with one another—Marie had a small canteen, and Billy had vending machines. Together these facilities would do enough business for one vendor, but Tennessee Business Enterprises had a practice of placing as many blind vendors as possible in locations, never mind how lucrative. We helped Marie and Billy file a grievance charge that this was against the Randolph-Sheppard Act. There was an administrative review and a full evidentiary hearing. In the process, Billy Godsey was moved to another location elsewhere in Tennessee, and Marie was allowed to operate both the canteen and the vending machines. That was first a temporary arrangement, but it has now been made permanent. It took a request for federal arbitration to do it, but when Tennessee officials found that we were serious, they backed down. Both vendors now have their own locations, and the competition between them has been eliminated.

Willie Mae Northington: Another Tennessee vendor. In this case we found that Willie Mae was not receiving vending machine income to which she was entitled as a blind vendor at the U.S. Army Defense Depot in Memphis. As we looked into the matter, we found that the Army was paying the vending machine proceeds to the Tennessee Business Enterprises, as the law provides, but the TBE was not paying Willie Mae. We protested this, and Willie Mae Northington has received over $1,000 of the money owed her. We are now trying to find out if she should receive more.

Tennessee vendors committee: We have responded to a request from the Committee of Blind Vendors in Tennessee to help them in negotiating changes in their state rules for vending facilities. Major changes have already been made, and it is likely that more will come. Jim Gashel has been in Tennessee several times to work on these rules. Negotiation sessions have been tough, but the outcome has been worth the effort. The most important thing gained is that the Committee of Blind Vendors and the individual vendors themselves now have a greater voice in the program. Promotions are now based on seniority, not agency preference. The vendors maintain the seniority list and the agency must select the most senior of the managers requesting promotion when there is an opportunity. Committee representatives are involved in negotiation and selecting of vending facility sites. Most far reaching of all, repair of the equipment is to be performed by the state agency within 48 hours, and if it isn't the vendors are authorized to withhold their administrative fees (or their set asides) until the equipment is fixed. I say to you that when we can go down and get that worked out, have negotiations with the state agency, and get it done—that tells you something. Durward McDaniel was down there. He worked away and advised the Tennessee vendors. (They're here. Ask them.) He advised them to cave in and go right along with what the agency wanted them to do to begin with. They didn't. Jim Gashel stayed. We negotiated, and we prevailed. We have a new Chattanooga chapter. Curtis Shepherd, who is president of that chapter, is also president of the whole Tennessee vendors organization. There are prospects for several more chapters in Tennessee. I believe we are going to continue to move right along there and increase what we've already got.

Julie Vogt: Social Security disability appeal. There was a termination of SSDI benefits because the state vocational rehabilitation agency said that Julie was refusing to accept rehabilitation as required under the Social Security Act. She was not refusing rehabilitation. She was only refusing to do what the state agency wanted her to do in the way of employment. She was willing to be rehabilitated, but she wanted to have some say about what she was going to be rehabilitated to do. There is a difference. We helped with that appeal, and the effort was successful. Julie was awarded SSDI benefits, and she was paid for the months when they had been withheld from her.

John Lemair: This is another Social Security appeal involving the amount of disability insurance. The issue involves a special disability freeze for the blind and which quarters of work can be counted. We've given advice and assistance to a local attorney. The outcome may be less than we want. If it is, we'll make further appeal as necessary. We'll fight right on until we get it done because we are right.

Lisa Swann: This is an SSI appeal, which illustrates the problem many blind people have in not being given correct information about the law. In 1979 Lisa Swann's SSI checks were cut off when she went to work. She sought advice and help from the Federation, and we appealed the decision by the Social Security Administration. Remember, this is the Social Security Administration themselves. They listened to the appeal; they gave a decision. They were wrong, and we proved it. We went right on with our appeal, pointed out to them that they were wrong, and she has now been reinstated and will be paid for all the months when the checks were illegally withheld. Again, as in so many cases, the special rules (which apply only to the blind and which we were responsible for getting) made that difference. It pays to know the law, and it pays to be a part of this organization as well.

Solomon Green: This is a case involving  employment discrimination in the civilian work force of the United States Army. Solomon Green was terminated from his job. He appealed; we backed him. He has now received an offer for reinstatement at the GS-7 level.

Al Saille: Employment discrimination; U.S. Department of Labor. Blindness was illegally used as a barrier to advancement. This was the ruling in an administrative hearing. We helped to secure legal counsel, and we helped with guidance. You have read in the Monitor what happened. We were successful in that case.

David Dillon: Laid off last fall from his job as a newscaster in Des Moines. In some of his news stories he had been critical of the Iowa Commission for the Blind and its director, John Taylor. Needing rehabilitation assistance to find a job and to meet living expenses while doing so, he applied to the Commission for help. It took an appeal involving direct intervention by the Federation, but he got the services to which he was entitled. The issue involved outright denial of assistance, which is normally provided to others without question or controversy. But we did prevail.

Lola Pace and Roger Smart: This involves discimination against two blind employees who were terminated from their employment with the Defense contractor in Texas. There is an admission from the company that both employees would have been retained were they not blind. We're helping with the Section 503 complaint.

Here are two cases that go, I think, to the hearts of us all; but they also go to basic rights. Debbie Thomas lives in the state of Washington. Sandra Breeden in the state of Florida. We've dealt with both of these cases in the last year. I was at the Illinois convention when I was called and asked, "Can the Federation help? We've got a woman whose children have been taken away from her because she is blind. Is there any way to help?" I said, yes, there is a way to help. We'll find a way. In Florida Sandra Breeden has two children. She is a fine, normal, active, intelligent human being. Somebody trying to be helpful thought that maybe she (because she was blind) needed assistance. They didn't know where else to go, so they called child abuse in the state Department of Social Services. A social worker came and listened outside the door. We know this because there is testimony to it. She heard Sandra Breeden say to one of the small children: You're driving me crazy! Well, whose parents have not said that to them at one time or another? They took her children from her. We got involved in the case at that time. But the order had already been issued, and the children were taken. I am pleased to tell you that some of your PAC money and your other contributions (the money you heard discussed this morning) went to help fight these cases, and both women have their children back. I can also tell you that I don't believe that they would have got them back, had we not entered these cases-but we did.

Sandy Streeter applied for a job as Equal Opportunity Specialist in the regional office of the Social Security Administration in Dallas. This was in 1980. She was not hired. Statements were made, which indicated prejudice by the hiring officials, saying, "Oh, can a blind person do this job?" and "We can't afford to buy all of the equipment it would take." Complaints were filed with the Department of Health and Human Services, and we have asked for a hearing to be conducted by a hearing examiner from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Texas Commission for the Blind said they wondered if blind people could do this job. They said that totals probably couldn't do it. The Social Security Administration says in its documents that it is just doing what the Texas Commission for the Blind advised. Well, we disagree. We've entered the case, and we're going to fight that through.

Jessie Nash: You know about the Jessie Nash case. One would have thought that would have been settled by now. Arbitration occurred. The arbitration panel found in our favor. Jessie Nash was denied the right to continue her vending operation at the Marine Corps base in Georgia. The panel ordered that she get back pay. We appeared before that panel. We gave testimony and legal help. They ordered that she get back pay and costs for the legal action. In August of 1980 the state of Georgia appealed the arbitration panel's decision to the federal courts, naming as defendants the Secretary of the Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Education, the Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration, and Jessie Nash. Briefs have now been filed by the parties. We're backing Mrs. Nash. We filed a motion for summary judgment. The disturbing thing is that we have every indication that the Department of Education is trying to wiggle out of it and sort of go over to the Georgia side. We won't let that happen if we can help it. We'll fight it all the way through. They, the U.S. Department of Education, say that they are not bound by arbitration decisions in Randolph-Sheppard cases. That's a basic question facing every vendor in this country. We'll fight that through to the end.

Jim Mitchell: Late in 1980 we filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Education on behalf of Jim Mitchell. The issue was that he had been terminated from the doctoral program in the Department of Zoology at the University of Michigan. The termination was discriminatory. We are seeking to have him reinstated in the doctoral program in zoology. The investigation has been done, but there is no report of findings to date.

Ken Gould: This case continues. Ken Gould is a blind chemist at Exxon in New Jersey. In this case the Department of Labor has already found that Exxon has violated Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. But the Department of Labor has been dragging its feet about proceeding further with the case. It is not popular to fight a big company, you know. In cases of this type the Secretary of Labor has the power to block government contracts with a company which violates Section 503. The problem is getting this enforcement underway. Exxon is a large government contractor, and Ken Gould is just one blind chemist. We may have to go to court with it. If we do, we will.

Robert Rehahn: In this case we are challenging the Bell System's unwillingness to hire blind persons for telephone operator positions. There is equipment available to modify some of the newer type of telephone operator boards, but most of the telephone companies still follow the old practice of telling blind people there's really nothing they can do. Robert Rehahn has challenged this. Since the telephone company (Michigan Bell) is a federal contractor, a Section 503 complaint has been filed, and the Department of Labor is beginning to investigate. We are actively working on this.

Naydene Hackett: You will remember that case from last year. I can tell you that after we pushed it and pushed it, Firestone finally paid Naydene $25,000 and settled the case.

Paul Richardson: Last year we assisted Paul Richardson of Texas in filing a Section 504 complaint against the Federal Department of Education. The University there refused to hire him for a teaching assistant position in Mathematics, even though he was well-qualified and had done the same work in another university. From the statements made by the professors at the university, it was clear that the reason for denying the position to Paul was blindness. Thus, the complaint was filed. Faced with a federal civil rights investigation, the university backed down only days before the investigators were to be on the campus. Paul was hired for the second semester.

Yet, there are people who ask me what this outfit does! That's what we do!

Joanne Walker: In June of 1980 we filed a Federal civil rights complaint on behalf of Joanne Walker. Joanne Walker is here. Talk to her about it. She's a blind teacher at West Bend, Wisconsin public schools. At that time Joanne had been placed on probation by the school district. It was clear that she would likely be terminated from employment at the end of the 1980-81 school year. We don't take cases indiscriminately. She's a good teacher. That action has now been reversed. Joanne Walker will teach in West Bend during the coming school year. She has already signed the contract. The probation is over. The contract is free of discriminatory provisions, and all of this happened as the civil rights investigators were starting to prepare to investigate the West Bend school district. In this case (and I think this is important) there is a difference from some of the others we have settled in the past. We have not agreed to forget the past with the school district. Even though the Department of Education made no findings as to past discrimination, and the school district did not admit to any, and Joanne settled—we didn't agree to absolve the school district from past wrong doing. If we can muster up the money and the resources, this is a good enough case that we think we'll take them to court anyway.

Arie Gamliel: This case involves employment discrimination against Arie Gamliel by the Federation Employee and Guidance Service of New York. We have helped by filing a Section 503 complaint, which charges that Arie Gamliel was discriminated against in termination from employment. The investigation is now beginning. Arie Gamliel was employed as a rehab counselor.

Pat Comorato has charged the Federal Department of HUD with employment discrimination for their refusal to hire him as a Civil Rights Equal Opportunity Investigator. The refusal was based partly on the concern for Pat's blindness, such as: How would he be able to travel and make hotel reservations? We've been involved in providing testimony and advice, and we'll go forward with it.

I've not given you, by any means, all of the cases we've worked on. Just consider the variety and number of cases. We, as an organization, couldn't have done this 20 years, 10 years ago, even 5 years ago or 3. We are beginning to move with a momentum of the kind we've never had. Just consider the cases: Jessie Nash, Julie Vogt, Joe Minter, Solomon Green, Jim Mitchell, Ken Gould, Joanne Walker, Robert Rehahn, Marie Thaler, Billy Godsey, Nay dene Hackett, Paul Richardson, Lisa Swann, Geraldine Jackson, Arie Gamliel, Tennessee Vendors Committee, Debbie Thomas, Sandra Breeden, Al Saille, Willie Mae Northington, Sandra Streeter, John Lemair, Hester Brunner, Pat Comorato, Dave Dillon, Betty Moffit, and there are others. Lola Pace, Tony James. Consider all of those! That's what we've done during the last year, and it's a record that the blind of this country can be proud of.

One civil rights case requires special attention, for you would not believe it if you did not hear some of it. I want you to hear something which ought to shock and outrage every blind person in this country. I want you to hear it because it involves the basic rights of blind people, and it goes to the question of whether we support unconditionally agencies for the blind. We support them when they should be supported. We don't when they shouldn't. I want you to hear this.

In February of this year the Monitor came out. It talked about the audit of the Utah Agency for the Blind. When it came out, the Utah officials went down, and first the secretary was abusive to Primo Foianini, our local president who works in the shop there at less than the minimum wage. Then, a high official of the agency came. I'm going to let you hear the tape, for Primo has become worldly wise. He keeps on his broom machine a tape recorder. Everybody knows it's there. It's out in plain sight. Every time anybody comes up from that agency and starts talking to Primo, he turns the recorder on. So an employee of the shop came up and spoke to Primo (you will hear him in a minute). And Primo taped it. Then, a high agency official came with the other employee and said, "I'll help Myron." You will hear it on the tape. I want you to hear what he said.

Myron Gill, agency janitor; You'd better keep those goddamn, son of a bitchin' federationists off that goddamn radio and out of that goddamn newspaper, or you're really gonna be in a goddamn lot of hot water one of these days. You goddamn sons of bitches!

Primo Foianini: Any more to say?

Myron Gill: You're goddamn right. Now I want to know exactly where I can see the goddamn books for that son of a bitchin' federation.

Primo Foianini: Which books?

Myron Gill: The son of a bitches that says where that goddamn money from that fundraiser goes. And I want to know when I can see the sons of bitches.

Primo Foianini: Well, I'll tell you what. Here's a number. Call him.

Myron Gill: You're goddamn right I will. And the son of a bitch better have some answers, too. That cocksucker better have some good ones. And the next time that I see one of those son of a bitches on that goddamn radio or in that newspaper, by God, there's really gonna be hell to pay.

Primo Foianini: Okay.

Myron Gill: You keep those cock-suckers off the radio and out of the goddamn newspaper, or I'll personally take care of the sons of bitches.

Primo Foianini: That's the number. Call him.

Myron Gill: I will.

Gordon Clegg, high agency management official: I'll help Myron.

Dr. Jernigan continued: How do you like that for a public official coming down and talking to one of our members or a blind person anywhere and a high agency official standing there and saying, "I'll help Myron." Is that the kind of thing we're asked to support unanimously and give our unconditional backing to? No. So what did I do when I got word of that? I immediately dispatched Dick Edlund and attorneys out there. We played this tape to the news media. We went to the Governor of Utah, and we went to the Attorney General. That was in February. Did they fire the man? No. And they didn't fire the high official. One month later in March that same janitor came down and hit Primo Foianini in the back with a broom handle with such force that he broke the broom handle on him. Later that first day he beat Primo in the restroom. In March he broke the broom handle over him, and Primo had to be absent from work and have treatment for contusions of the spine. Even after Myron Gill was convicted in the Salt Lake City courts on a charge of criminal assault, he still, so far as I know, works in that agency with our tax dollars paying him for his "service" to the blind. Is that the kind of thing that we are asked to support? We won't do it. I am ashamed to play that kind of language before an audience. But as long as that kind of thing exists in this country, then there is a need for this organization.

Dr. Jernigan next talked about conversations which representatives of the Federation have been having during the past few months with William Gallagher, Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind, and other members of the Foundation staff. Dr. Jernigan also talked about a meeting which he held in May with Otis Stephens, President of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). (These meetings, along with related correspondence, are detailed in the August, 1981, Monitor.) Mr. Gallagher was on the platform while the Presidential Report was being given.

Dr. Jernigan continued: I want to conclude my report by saying this to you. I believe (as I have told you in the past) that there is a bond between the president and the other leaders of this organization and the membership. Regardless of what people who are not part of this movement may say, I believe that we understand each other. I believe I have an obligation and a commitment to you. That obligation is this: Regardless of what it may do to me personally; regardless of whether it may cost me effort, time, trouble, problem; regardless of what it may do to reputation or finance or health—if I am going to be president of this outfit and assume the responsibilities of the leader, I am obligated to be willing to take the risks and stand out in front and be on the cutting edge and lead. You, on the other hand, as members are obligated (as I see it) if you choose me as your leader and your president—as long as you choose to have me continue in that position—you are obligated to give me support and to help me, to stand by me when the attacks come, as they invariably will. This is so if I lead as I should lead in a people's movement. I pledge to you that I will work not only vigorously, but that I will work with each of you (not only the leaders, but the members) with love, with all the understanding and ah the wisdom I possess. And I hope to receive from you love and understanding. If that is done, I believe that we of the movement will be (as we have in the past), not only unstoppable and unbeatable, but that we will move to new heights which the blind of this country have never known. I pledge to be part of that and to do what I can, and I ask you to work with me to do it. This statement was followed by prolonged applause, cheering, and singing by the audience.

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An Address by
Gerald M. Kass
Executive Vice President
The Jewish Braille Institute of America, Inc.

Delivered at the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind
Baltimore, Maryland, July 10, 1981

Let me congratulate each and everyone here on having made it—not in the usual sense of becoming rich or famous—but in the extraordinary sense—of having gotten up in time to be here at this morning's session after last night's festivities. I bring you the good wishes of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Braille Institute of America and our President, Dr. Jane Evans.

Because it is the morning after and words can easily send you back to sleep which would be devastating to the speaker's self-esteem, I'm going to turn to music and ask you to "name that tune"—are you ready?

(Overture from William Tell)

Ah Ha—The William Tell Overture! Now one might assume that all those who answered correctly are serious students of classical music. Or could it be that some of us, in deep recesses of our souls, are secret admirers of the masked rider of the west who, atop his trusted horse Silver, riding along side his faithful companion Tonto blazed trails for law and order in the old west.

Perhaps the Lone Ranger is the archtype hero of western yesteryear rivaled only by such illustrious figures as Wild Bill, Buffalo Bill, Jim Bowie, and Marshal Dillon. For, in history, it matters little which of these men were real and which were created out of imagination since all contributed significantly—accurately or inaccurately—to our image and knowledge of the Golden West.

Meanwhile back to the Lone Ranger. Let us think together trying to discover why he is the archtype hero—since, it seems that he, as other figures subject to public scrutiny—may emerge as a mixed bag when judged by a broad array of standards.

1. In race relations he'd score a minus zero—think of it—"his faithful companion Tonto"—it makes the fellow sound like a cross between Rin-tin-tin and Ed McMahon. There is no hint of our masked rider thinking of Tonto as ever having the potential of being an equal. In fact we are left with the message that Tonto, an inferior Indian, is redeemed through his loyalty to the great white semi-god whom he honors with the exotic title of kimosabby. And the Lone Ranger loves every minute of it.

2. His credentials would never get by the women's movement. He won't even talk to a woman unless she is a damsel in distress and even then she has to be found in a runaway stage coach, a burning ranch house or tied to the stake in a village of unfriendly Indians about to be barbecued.

3. I don't remember our arch-hero ever being in an episode in which any of the characters were blind. Perhaps he never was. However, the result would be predictable—after all—if Tonto's hearing is nothing short of miraculous by virtue of his Indian birth—can you imagine how he'd characterize a blind person's senses. I'm sure, before riding into the distance with a high ho Silver, he might even tell a blind character how he "admired his courage," "marvelled at his inner vision" and "how he was an inspiration to us all." He might even appoint him to a "blue ribbon panel."

Yet despite all his imperfection, our masked rider of the plains remains a box office draw and classic folk hero. This probing of his shortcomings pales to insignificance and trivia because it is inappropriate. The Lone Ranger never promised to be a civil rights advocate championing the cause of native Americans; he never presented himself as a foe of sexism nor was he a declared ally of blind persons seeking equal opportunity. His only promise, his sole commitment was to fight lawlessness wherever it reared its ugly head—and this commitment he's honored 100% of the time. He met this obligation whatever the personal risks—even when threatened by death. He fulfilled this pledge once a week—every week for twenty-two years-on radio and later for a number of years on television. America's children of all ages grew up with him, adored him and trusted him. He was the genuine article. Consciously we know he never existed but we draw our image of the old west from his adventures and our respect for basic American values from his integrity. History has made him real. The admiration held for him by generations of children integrating his values as their own wove him into the American fabric. Why is it appropriate now, in July 1981 in the City of Baltimore, for nearly 2,000 delegates and friends at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind to reflect on a childhood hero? Isn't it, in a way, a step backwards, especially on the heels of an historic rally on the steps of the Capitol?

The point is basic. Blind persons are in the process of re-writing history and the Federation is authoring the text. We know that what has been written before is a sad tale and for many the cruelest of self-fulfilled prophecies. But the myths did have the force of historical fact because they were believed not only by the sighted but by blind persons who, without a Federation, had no resource to counter them. The re-writing of history has certain necessary ingredients and I think it does us well to consider them.

Like the masked rider we enter history with a message that is simple. His message was "good will triumph over evil"—easy enough to understand—never would the script author allow it to be confused. The Federation enters history with a message equally as simple—Blind persons are normal persons. The message is all inclusive and its implications become the day to day issues. Those who accept it and believe it and abide by it are members and cherished allies. Those who have trouble understanding it become the goal of our evangelism. Those who say by word or act that it is not true are adversaries. Re-writing history requires that our adversaries become converted or obscured. All is governed by the goal of having that basic statement integrated into the mentality of humankind. If it becomes history we have succeeded—if it does not, we have failed. No other issues, causes, beliefs or values can rival this message for center stage. Even though members of the Federation might show great concern for other causes, our success will not be judged by the success of those causes, but only by our own. The integration of the basic statement as a given of the society is the only goal by which all is judged, it is the raison d'etre.

Not too long ago a decision had to be made at the Jewish Braille Institute that brought many of our interests into conflict. We all remember the articles in the Wall Street Journal disclosing deplorable conditions in sheltered workshops. One of the organizations brought to criticism in those articles was another Jewish communal agency located in New York which is the home city of the Jewish Braille Institute. As part of our Jewish Braille Institute program we publish periodicals which include reprints of selected articles. It is a long standing policy to include any article of significance on a topic that affects the lives of blind people. The question arose regarding the wisdom of our reproducing the Wall Street Journal articles in our publications in view of their sharp criticism of another Jewish agency. Those of you who read the Jewish Braille Review or listen to the JBI Voice know that those articles were reproduced in full and circulated—because the subject did bear on the central issue of the normality of blind people and their desire to exercise that normality. The phones rang, some voices were raised, but the articles appeared. It is gratifying to inform you that this month, after 18 months of planning, our Hebrew language cassette—magazine for the blind of Israel has been published—edited by Rami Rabby and myself. Dr. Jernigan, you've been translated into Hebrew and your words are now heard from the Galilee to the Negev, from the shore of Tel Aviv to the Hills of Jerusalem.

A second component in the re-writing of history is repetition. This is only logical since the new history will replace the old history only when its statement becomes more frequent than the other. And here is the real strength of Federationism—50,000 members setting a new style in every town, city and state in which they live. The question is often raised as to who helped the civil rights movement in its early days more—the NAACP or Jackie Robinson. Isn't it silly to choose between them. The answer is obvious—both. What does this mean to us—even though the National Office does a bang up job—we've got to help by hitting our own home runs each and every day.

One Tuesday night, Paul Kay of the D.C. chapter and I went to dinner here in Baltimore. The restaurant manager wanted Paul to leave his dog-guide outside. He didn't drop the issue even after he was seated with dog and finished the meal. I doubt whether any other blind person will encounter a similar situation in that restaurant with that manager again. Paul hit a home run for all of us. He repeated the message politely, yet firmly and it was received.

Just weeks ago a blind woman with whom I was speaking on the phone told me of someone saying to her, "I admire you people, I marvel at your accomplishments, how do you ever find your mouths to put food into them to eat." My friend's answer was appropriate, "A lot easier than you find your mouth to take your foot out of it"—Another home run. But the real grand slammers continue to be the abundant achievements of blind persons that demonstrate the high competence that was missing from the public image for centuries. No longer can the blind attorney be admired as "the exception to the rule" and the blind parent bring up a child as "nothing short of a miracle." It is the Federation and the Federation-minded that have brought these abilities to the surface and encouraged blind persons to use them. I am pleased to report to you that just 8 weeks ago Michael Levy of Asbury Park, New Jersey, became the first person blind from birth to be ordained as a rabbi and that this was done at a conservative theological seminary. In addressing the JBI Board last month he pointed out that the anticipated problems were only in peoples' minds. However, he says that he did have a real image problem with many young people who question his mental agility because of their preconceived notion of organized religion. But, back to the Lone Ranger—organized religion is not our issue.

The third component to re-writing history is durability. Only when time is viewed as an ally and compromise becomes less frequent does real progress take place. Some say that this is belligerence, looking for a fight. Though that might not be entirely true, it certainly isn't ducking. The foes of those who will not compromise call them unreasonable and dictatorial. Does that sound familiar. Let us remember the definition of a political boss—he's the elected leader of the opposition party. It's only where you're sitting that keeps that person from being a hero. Dr. Jernigan, you are a hero. You define our issue, repeat it, and never compromise it. You lead us in the re-writing of history. You remind me of another hero of mine—Prime Minister Begin of Israel who is attacked because of his loyalty to cause. Both of you have faced atomic reactors and prevailed.

Frazer's "Golden Bow" tells of the old order—the king who must each year take his sword in hand and defend his crown from younger challengers. As the years go by the king ages, he becomes weary, the sword more difficult to raise. It is only a matter of time and finally he falls. The old order is going—that is a matter of time too. Let us re-write well and together because it will be our story and we will want to read it to our children.

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George Conn, Commissioner designate of the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the Department of Education, spoke to the NFB convention on Thursday morning, July 9, about the viewpoint of the Reagan Administration and implications for the future: "Good morning. I have to get myself adjusted. I'm a T-11 paraplegic, and my vision is slowly going on me. I broke a pair of glasses down in Puerto Rico last weekend representing the government at the Fourth of July Celebration for the International Year of Disabled Persons, so I'm wearing my dark glasses. Actually it's all a setup. I wanted to look like a member of the National Federation of the Blind. Dr. Jernigan, thank you very much. I did not realize when I came up here this morning that I would be standing next to an old and friendly adversary from the state of Illinois, Rami Rabby. We were sorry to lose him to New York. He performed many, many vital functions in the state of Illinois and kept everybody on their toes. He asked the difficult questions, which are the most important questions of all. I hope he continues to do that. It's a pleasure for me to be here this morning with the oldest and largest organization of blind people in the United States. While conversing with Dr. Jernigan on the phone yesterday, I told him that I was not going to come with a prepared text. Being a fellow consumer of services for disabled persons and now working as a professional in the field, I felt that it was more important to talk to you directly a little bit about myself and my philosophy and some of the administrative goals that I have in the Reagan Administration. I also was advised by Dr. Jernigan to respond to his speech that he gave yesterday down at the Capitol. Having read the speech, I wish to do exactly that. I believe some critical points were raised which must be addressed.

"Yesterday Dr. Jernigan talked about change, and it is evident to all of us that there is change afoot. My personal experience is that change is the only constant that we live with. There are continual opportunities presented within the context of change to go forward and provide better services and improve opportunities for disabled persons in the United States. We, the disabled persons of the United States, have always lived with changing conditions. It is the nature of our lives. However, all of us know all too well that rarely is it our disabling condition that limits us. Rather, it is our environment which is our primary disabling condition. The fact that we are blind or we have a deafness problem or that we are mobility disabled is more or less irrelevant. It is the environment around us that limits us.

"Though I presently and in the past have represented government, I have witnessed and participated in the effort on the part of my fellow disabled citizens to remove environmental and attitudinal restrictions. It's my conviction that disabled persons have been the prime motive factor in this effort. All too often persons in bureaucracies or elected officials receive an endless number of plaques or congratulatory messages for the actions they take on behalf of us, the disabled citizens of America. However, without our constant goading, pushing, shoving, articulating, massaging egoes, etc., none of it would occur. As a representative of this Administration and as a Commission designee of Rehabilitation Services Administration, I pledge to you a continued effort in that position to move forward in that context.

"Some of my efforts will be directed at reducing government interference and its constriction of opportunity with regard to the potential and the needs and problems of disabled people, including blind persons. Also, specifically responding to Dr. Jernigan 's remarks, I too share his conviction that bureaucracies have grown too large, that there's been entirely too much empire building which does not work to provide better services to disabled people, and in the last analysis results in the diversion of funding for the purposes of retaining people in the high administrative posts and accomplishing little of anything else. I would much rather see the funds go directly to the field for the purpose of providing sensitive services to people where they are needed.

"Among our other objectives is to modernize the rehabilitation process. We all have our own individual stories about that process and what it has meant to us or what it has not meant to us. And we will be working very hard on that.

"Yesterday Dr. Jernigan talked about the oversimplification of the relation of citizens to agencies of government. Some put it in an either/or fashion: That there must be more money for bigger bureaucracies and a reduction of services or the opposite. I am convinced that equal opportunity does not equate with budget levels, nor does the vice versa prevail. Certainly in the voluntary field and the not-for-profit field, organizations like the National Federation of the Blind have demonstrated adequately that opportunities for blind people do not necessarily act as a function of budget levels. This Administration is committed to the reduction of fraud, waste and abuse in government and the reduction of funding levels and allocated monies to people in the field for those services.

"In reading Dr. Jernigan's text on page two, I was apprised of some of the things I am going to have to deal with as Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration. The situation in Salt Lake City—the behavior of any professional person or technical person or clerical person with regard to such treatment of disabled people to me is totally unacceptable. With regard to the situation of blind food operators in Cleveland, I can recall all too well when I was going through rehabilitation at Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Illinois. On occasion a nurse would come in to me and say: 'It's time to brush our teeth.' That type of condescending and patronizing behavior, too, is unacceptable to me. In Michigan if a blind man is capable of scoring 96 on a test that should be his score. The arbitrary and capricious reduction of scores based on one's disability for purposes of administrative actions is something that I just simply cannot understand. I won't tolerate it in RSA, and I won't be the least bit reluctant to convey that message to any of the people who have similar responsibilities at the state level.

"I am the parent of four children, all of whom have developmental disabilities of one sort or another, all of whom are store-bought kids, (adopted). We tell them that they were picked up at Sears or Montgomery Ward or J.C. Penney and they all want to know which one got the short end of the stick by being picked up at J.C. Penney. In each one of the cases, caseworkers had the audacity to declare that I was unfit to be a father. My rejoinder to them was: If you have children and you become disabled, would you want your children taken from you on the grounds that you were unfit to be a parent? I'm pleased to say that two of the caseworkers retired early, and one was fired.

"Dr. Jernigan states (and I quote): 'Many of the government agencies and the people who run those agencies are well suited to the newness in the land. We will work to help them get funding, and we believe that our Congress and our President will want them to have it. We will work with equal vigor to see that those agencies which live in the past and try to custodialize and control our lives are either reformed or restructured or put out of business.' I cannot speak for the Congress, but I can speak for the Administration. It is the opinion of this Administration that if agencies are not doing their job properly—if they are outmoded or obsolete, then certainly we will review them for purposes of terminating their obsolescence or restructuring them.

"In 1970 the state of Illinois rewrote its entire State Constitution for the first time in a hundred years. In 1870 that Constitution had been written primarily to provide right-of-ways for many railroads that were emanating from the city of Chicago. We worked very hard on a Constitutional article in the main body in that constitution—and Rami Rabby,one of your leaders, was a leader in that effort. We were successful in getting the enabling statutes to support that particular constitutional article. As a result of my role in that activity, I was asked to come out and work at RSA in 1972. So there are two things I want to tell you about that experience: One. Fifty percent of my time was spent translating the elements of the constitutional article and the enabling statute to Title V of the Rehabilitation Act. To the extent that it is possible and appropriate, this Administration has deemed fit to retain certain portions of that Title, and in other cases it will be modified, not with the aims of diverting the aims of creating equal opportunity for handicapped people, but with the aim of making sure that we have a sound statute and sound regulations that are not flawed so that they will be questioned in the courts of the land. The other thing that I would like to tell you is: because I did work on the staff at the Rehabilitation Services Administration. I have some advantage in that I know who the people are, what their motivations are on the staff, what the problems and issues are of that particular agency. In some quarters of the agency I am viewed as the fox who has entered the chicken coop. I am not uncomfortable with that kind of a situation at all. I look forward to working with Dr. Jernigan and Mr. Gashel and any members of your committees who you wish to direct in RSA's direction. We will be as cooperative and as flexible and as helpful as possible. I cannot promise you that I will be meeting with you every time, but certainly we will make a sincere effort to make sure that the appropriate staff person meets with you, one who understands and knows where you are coming from. With that so you can get to lunch and get on with your questions, I will conclude my remarks, and I thank you very much for your invitation today."

Jim Gashel asked the first question: "The Randolph-Sheppard Act provides that blind persons have the right to state hearings and if necessary federal arbitration of disputes (when they arise) with the state licensing agency. That law also says that the arbitration is binding, except that the losing party obviously can appeal in federal court. What we're facing is a policy question with RSA and with the Department of Education. It is one which I would like you to address. The question is: Does the Rehabilitation Services Administration intend to stand behind the decisions of arbitration panels, no matter what they are? Whether it likes those decisions or not, does it intend to uphold them?"

Mr. Conn said: "I would have to review the result of the panel, of course. I see no reason why we wouldn't stand ready to stand behind the decision of that panel. I'm very concerned about the manner in which the Randolph-Sheppard Act is administered. I am going to, perhaps, give you a different kind of answer so you will get some idea about my thinking about Randolph-Sheppard, blind people in general, etc. When I first came on board (which was about eight months ago), I found that for a period of about seven or eight years the staffing levels for implementing the provisions of the Randolph-Sheppard Act had been ignored by Commissioners of Rehabilitation Services Administration for one reason or another. Several plaintiffs took it upon themselves to bring a suit (Miller versus Bell) against the Department of Education. The first week I was on the job I got a call from the U.S. Attorney asking me what I intended to do about this. I'm very happy to say that the staffing levels have been increased to twelve, and I wanted to go to thirteen as soon as possible. This is a combination of both central and regional office personnel for the purposes of implementing the Randolph-Sheppard Act, including arbitration activities. However, I am concerned that (perhaps as part of a new approach) we should be looking not so much at tremendous amounts of money being spent for arbitration, but there will be a legitimate effort made to reduce those amounts and to increase the participation of state agencies and federal agencies to establish vending stands without the need for arbitration wherever possible. We have increased the staffing level. We want to see better implementation of the vending stand program. We want to really work at something that RSA has never dedicated itself to in its entire sixty-year history: that is the activity of creating job opportunities and having sound placement programs and follow-up programs in place. Rehabilitation without the potential of a job is meaningless, as far as I am concerned. Vending stand programs are fine, and I will support them to the extent that I possibly can. On the other hand, I don't see any reason why persons who have had vending stand experience who wish to go beyond that through one of our other programs such as Projects with Industry shouldn't have an opportunity to do so. Certainly, having operated a vending stand, there must be opportunities available to blind persons in the service industries throughout the United States, food service, etc. We plan to look into the private sector and develop some partnership programs which will allow those vending stand operators who wish to move up to a higher economic level and greater management responsibilities to do so."

Dr. Jernigan said: "Some agencies have too much staff and some have too little. Just increasing staff isn't going to cut it, as I'm sure you'd agree. It has to do with the way that staff performs. We want to see the maximum dollar out there in vending stand equipment, in blind persons having an opportunity for training. We don't want it all to be spent on supervisors and conferences and things of that kind."

Mr. Conn said: "You said it more succinctly than I, but that is exactly what I was referring to. I concur with you. The conferences that are held (at least the ones I have witnessed) very seldom reach closure on any point that raises a critical issue for disabled people. I simply want to put that sort of thing to a stop."

Dr. Jernigan then told of the following situation: "In the state of Georgia Jessie Nash was put out of her vending stand because the state of Georgia did not abide by the principles of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. She appealed. The agency denied the appeal. We had to take it up a time or two to the Education Department. Ultimately, we had an appeal, and the Education Department convened the panel as it was supposed to and financed it. Testimony was taken. It was concluded that the state of Georgia had violated the Randolph-Sheppard Act, and the panel ordered that remedial action be taken. The state of Georgia said it didn't care what the panel ordered. It intended to appeal the matter to court. As we see it, the Education Department is now trying to play footsie with the state of Georgia and wiggle out of the findings of the panel and sell out. You now are going to inherit the situation. We are going to go to court and fight, but the Education Department ought to be defending what that panel did. If it doesn't, then we'll not only bring suit against the state of Georgia but ultimately against the Federal Education Department as well."

Mr. Conn said: "OK, now I hear you. The way the question was put to me at first by Jim . . . you guys are very clever. I was afraid you might be setting me up, because the question was put so vaguely. I was wondering whether you wanted me to support the Department of Education or disabled people. I want to assure that in every case where a decision goes against disabled people, I will encourage an appeal. In every case where a decision favors disabled people, I will support that decision."

Dr. Jernigan continued: "Then, I hope you will take action in the Nash case. The arbitration panel found in her favor. The state of Georgia didn't want to abide by the law, so it appealed. Now, the Education Department is trying to follow suit and worm out of the situation. We are going in on the side of the disabled person (Jessie Nash), and we want help."

Mr. Conn said: "I have to make this comment. I hope you will understand it in the manner in which I am presenting it. As Commissioner, you have certain opportunities and you have certain limitations. It's that thing called the layering of bureaucratic managing that occurs in government. In my role as Commissioner as representing disabled people in the United States, I will give them every possible support that I can. On the other hand, I have to deal with an Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and a Secretary of Education, and I cannot speak for them. At my level, I will do the very best that I can for disabled people any time I can."

Dr. Jernigan: "Mr. Gashel, this will be handled at his level, won't it?"

Mr. Gashel said: "It actually will be handled at his level, and he will be a party in the litigation. He is a party in the litigation."

Dr. Jernigan said: "He is a party in the litigation, and the state of Georgia is currently suing him, whether he knows it or not. Therefore, we want him to stand up there and help us out."

Mr. Conn said: "I'm glad you told me, but please don't tell my wife."

Steve Machalow spoke as follows: "I understand from reports in the newspaper that the budget for the RSA is no longer to be included in the block grant for the Health and Human Services Department. I have also heard rumors that plans are underway for there to be a separate block grant for the Rehabilitation Services Administration. If this is to be the case, would the funds that are now sent to the states under the provisions of Section 110, the Direct Funds for Direct Services for Blind and Other Disabled People, be included in the block? If they are, would that mean the various state agencies would have a choice as to what percentage of their funds would be used for direct services as opposed to administrative overhead, building, and whatever else?"

Mr. Conn: "You are correct in understanding that rehabilitation services and special education have been removed from the consolidated block grant, those in the Department of Health and Human Services and in the Department of Education. There is a draft of a bill which has gone through six or seven revisions on the Senate side under Senator Hatch's Committee on Labor and Human Resources which we have not been to as yet. We don't know the elements of what it contains, whether or not it is a targeted block grant or exactly what it is. As a result of the congressional action taken recently, we are looking at alternatives in-House—in rehabilitation services and in the office of the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. In answer to the second part of your question regarding Section 1 Title 110 monies, that is something we cannot foresee yet. That is under consideration by the Congress. Whether or not they will put a cap on administrative costs at the state level is something they are discussing right now. I cannot give you an accurate answer to that question right now."

Dr. Jernigan said: "I wouldn't want to leave the wrong impression. We would not want people to feel that the present law designates a certain amount of money for services. Under 110 of the present law, you could spend it all for administration if you could talk your federal regional representatives into not caring. There is no limit on how much you can spend for administration as opposed to how much you can spend for services. I hope that Congress and the Reagan team put an administrative cap into the law so that the money will have to be spent for services."

Harold Snider said: "I want to ask George Conn to clarify a matter which is of vital importance to this organization. There is a non-profit organization in New York City called the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) that for the last few years has claimed to accredit agencies for the blind. Most of those agencies receive money from RSA. Many of those agencies operate workshops which pay less than minimum wage. I would ask you a double-barrelled question. How do you feel about the accreditation of agencies for the blind? Do you know anything about NAC accreditation, or are we in a position to educate you? And how do you feel about the fact that many of those NAC-accredited agencies pay blind people as little as 50 or 60 cents an hour for work in those sheltered workshops?"

George Conn said: "The answer to the first part of your question is that I wish to be educated by you and your organization. In answer to the second part of your question, I am going to be reviewing the status of sheltered workshops. I am deeply concerned, if not offended, by the term sheltered workshop to begin with. I do not believe that people in so-called sheltered workshops should have that as an experience which becomes terminal—especially if the decision to make the experience terminal is arbitrary. Simply because an individual becomes a good employee for a workshop, that is no justification to retain that person in the workshop, rather than see them go on to a job for which they are more qualified. We are going to be looking at such things as perhaps even the potential of private industry entering this area. We are talking with industry representatives right now to see whether or not such workshops could become fully-owned divisions or subsidiaries of industries and, thereby, greatly improve the status of the workers in those workshops."

Dr. Jernigan said: "Let me say to you with respect to NAC: Under previous Administrations the National Accreditation Council at one time made great headway and was moving toward a requirement that all agencies be accredited by it. It was a terrible business and still is. Then your predecessor, Andy Adams, cut off the funding for NAC-largely at our suggestion. We showed him the evidence of what they are. They accredit the worst agencies in the country in the field of work with the blind. They are restrictive and repressive. We want to give you material on NAC and show you what it is. If the day should ever come that RSA should again give NAC funding, we will fight to the last person of this organization to prevent it. Whatever else happened and regardless of what other good things you might do, we would be engaged in war. Once you know about this group, we don't believe that you would for a moment consider restoring their funds; although, they have tried to get it done."

Mr. Conn said: "Whereas I need to be educated about NAC, Dr. Jernigan, I don't need to be educated about NFB. If you think I want a blizzard of white canes in my office, you're crazy."

Dr. Jernigan: "We're a gentle and peaceful organization."

Mr. Conn said: "I know better. I was Planning Director of the White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals, and I saw what happened there."

Dr. Jernigan said: "A splendid time was had by all!"

A question was next posed by David Dillon: "Concerning the 1980 NFB of Iowa convention, I received a letter from Fred Sachs (your predecessor as Acting Commissioner of RSA) stating that there would be an investigation of abuses by the Iowa Commission for the Blind. To my knowledge, no staff people have yet gone to Iowa to look into that. And there are follow-up problems as well. Will you give the travel money and get the investigators on the road?"

Mr. Conn said: "I don't know about the situation. I will look into it. If it is appropriate, the travel monies will be provided, yes."

Ron Metenyi said: "I'm all for a maximum of money being spent for services and an absolute minimum being held to make administration efficient and accountable to consumers. The only concern that I have with the block grant concept is that in situations where rehabilitation services for the blind have had to compete with other rehabilitation services in the states, we have usually come out on the short end of the stick. I am hoping that we will not be put in a situation where there will now be a greater competition. Everybody wants funds and thinks that their funds are the most important in the world. The problems of the blind are so often misunderstood that we tend to get lost in the shuffle."

Dr. Jernigan said: "Mr. Metenyi, let me say to you that if rehab goes as a block grant, and if only rehab, then it would be the same as we now have where the blind have to contend with the general rehab agencies. What I would hope we could work out is a system where we could work with the federal government (surveys indicate that it would give more efficient service anyway) so that we could have some separate programs for the blind encouraged by the federal office."

Mr. Conn said: "I would like to have an opportunity to respond to that. First of all, rehabilitation is out of the block grant for the time being, at least until the reauthorization year of 1982. So we are just continuing business as usual while we plan for the future. What the future will bring I don't know at this time. That's a matter for the Congress to begin to chew on and also for the Administration to do contingency planning with regard to. My experience at the state level and the local level tells me this: There are an awful lot of lobbyists who are making a great deal of money in Washington, D.C., accessing the Congress which is remote from most people in the United States. It may be that what we will wind up with is a targeted block grant, although there is no guarantee that that will be the case. If that does come to pass, then the responsibility of administering the majority of the funds for rehabilitation purposes will lie with the states. When you say the states, it is important to understand that the chief operating officer of the state is the governor, who responds to the state assembly. Too often in the field of rehabilitation when we say that the responsibility will be the state's, we're talking about the state directors of blind agencies or general rehabilitation agencies. That is not the case. I'm not totally convinced that handicapped people across the United States would not be better served by having more direct access for lobbying purposes to their governor to request that a substantial amount of funds for rehabilitation be provided at that level and a minimum amount be put on administrative costs. I would just hope that you keep that in mind as we go through the next year or two of discussion and debate on the issue in the Congress."

Dr. Jernigan: "Mr. Conn, we've had a situation where very often the federal rehabilitation people have, at least covertly, applied pressure to try to combine services to the blind with others. We want that reversed if we can get it reversed."

Steven Henry said: 'it seems to me today that very often the agency that is supposed to serve the blind is working against the blind person who is seeking employment. What can be done by your office to rectify this problem?"

Mr. Conn said: "A major policy position of this Administration will be on jobs for disabled people and a sound placement program which includes follow-up. I am not satisfied with bringing a disabled person to the point of eligibility for employment and then casting that person into the community. Since we have refocused the emphasis on services to disabled people, to seriously disabled people as a result of the Rehab Act of 1973 and its subsequent amendments, I agree with that thrust, service to severely disabled people, and I feel that there must be a placement division within both the state and federal government programs that would have sound follow-up procedures."

Dr. Jernigan said: "Mr. Conn, we look forward to working with you in the years ahead. We appreciate your coming here this morning. We believe that enough money has to be found to finance truly needed services to blind people. We hope and believe that you share that goal with us. We want to eliminate some of the abuses to blind people that have occurred on the part of some of the agencies. We also believe you will share that objective with us. If you do that, we will work with you, and work with you closely. We want input. Of course, if you don't do the things we have outlined, then we won't be working with you—but we believe you will."

Mr. Conn concluded by saying: "Thank you very much for your fine welcome, and I look forward to working with you."

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At this year's national convention in Baltimore, one of the speakers on Thursday morning, July 9, was Frank Kurt Cylke, Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress. Excerpts from Mr. Cylke's remarks are as follows: "During the past year nearly half a million people borrowed nearly seventeen million books. Have we got problems? Yes we do. The problem is one of quality. We make every effort to keep the quality high. Anything that is made by human hands can have problems. But I'm here to assure you that we make every effort to keep the quality high. One of the people who works very diligently in that area is a member of your group, Lloyd Rasmussen.

"When I attended yesterday's ceremonies at the Capitol (that was my day to sit on the side) I heard the Library song, and I appreciated your frustration. I noticed that Lloyd was parading with the DC delegation. I think that's super on Lloyd's part. We encourage members of the staff in doing anything that they would like. I just want you to know that you have a fellow who is, not only competent as an electrical engineer, but who is dedicated to seeing that your materials are super materials."

After this beginning, Mr. Cylke said that the National Library Service has recently completed a users study and a non-users study and that the information gathered is helpful to NLS staff.

Mr. Cylke said that Federation members have participated in several NLS activities, including book selection, drawing up specifications, surveying regional and subregional libraries, etc. He then said:

"I'm delighted to say that where the NFB has been represented, we have received good solid input."

On another topic Mr. Cylke said: "When I've been here before Muzzy Marcelino and others have said: Why don't you put out a listing of the books that are available to sighted people? I kept saying: We'll try. Really, it was a matter of volume and format. Just recently (and if you have not heard about this, I urge you to contact your libraries and participate) we issued the Books of the Times. What that is is a collection of the book reviews that appear in the New York Times on a daily basis for the preceding month. In addition to that, there is a list of the best sellers. You can check up on us and see whether we are, indeed, doing the best sellers or not. This magazine Books of the Times is available to you both in Braille and on disc.

"We are working on producing an indexed recorded dictionary. It will be the American Heritage Dictionary. We have gotten as far as the letter "C," which is up to forty percent of the content of the dictionary. Within a year to a year and a half, you should have an indexed English language dictionary that you can use, not on unique equipment, but on the cassette player that we provide to you. I would hope that this is a first step in making reference books available. Some of you are familiar with the cookbooks that we have done and with the Access National Parks. That was an effort to experiment and see if we could, indeed, index on cassettes. We found we could, so a dictionary will be coming down the ramp."

Mr. Cylke said that the combination cassette/disc playback machine was on display in the exhibit room, and he urged people to go look at it. Further, he said that the 1980 cassette playback machine being produced by NLS will have a feature which has been requested by many people—a variable speed control with pitch restoration. Mr. Cylke concluded by saying: "I repeat that it is good to be home again, and please ask any questions you may like."

Dr. Jernigan then spoke to Mr. Cylke as follows: "As I indicated earlier, we recognize that the Library is important to blind people. We feel that the relation with the Library has been at times more stormy than it need be. Who can tell whether diplomacy on which side might have made it better. There is no point in talking about what might have been. It has also been at times very productive and very constructive. Let me say to you before this audience one of the things that is a bother to us. There is no point in talking about specific things, except as they have broad application. We are here. We are facts of life. We believe we are going to be increasingly powerful in the decades ahead. You (that is, the Library Service) are also here, and you (again, the Library Service) will be here for decades to come. At least, we hope so. If you try to get us to do certain things, we're going to have trouble, and we're not going to do them ordinarily. On the other hand, in candor, there are certain things that you won't do if we try to get you to do them. If we enter into war with each other, we can probably cause you more trouble than you can cause us—but to what purpose? After all, in any such war we will take some casualties ourselves. We know that. Everybody is better off if we can work together. So, what am I getting to? There are times when you ask us to be subparts of larger groups to do something, study something, or make recommendations about something that we regard as a waste of time. My purpose in telling you that is not to see if I can annoy you, but to try to cut through niceties to get to the meat of things. When I got from you not long ago a great long set of standards which talked to me about the method of placing tapes into containers and how many straps they ought to have on them, and you wanted us to fill out a questionnaire or something and regarded that as our participation—I said to somebody: That's a waste of our time. I don't mean to be insulting by that. What I would say is this: We don't object to your engaging in some of that sort of thing. We would hope that you would understand if we feel that a given project in which you want our participation is tangential and not central to our concerns. We hope that you would feel some restraint in how you deal with our non-participation. In turn, we ought to show some restraint in dealing with you as long as there is good faith on both sides. What we really want in the way of participation from you and with you is this: We would like some mechanism (not as part of a larger group and not as something which would require a great amount of your time) for people that we designate to meet with you. You promised us long ago that you would do this, and I'm not saying that you have broken your word about the matter; but I am now bringing it up again. We would like to be able to have from time to time committees of this organization sit down with you on a one to one basis and talk about problems that we perceive. That is not to say that we won't participate in other activities that you may designate and wish us to participate in. If we can do what I have just said, that is the kind of participation we want. I wonder if you would care to respond to what I've said and see if it makes sense to you and how you feel about it."

Mr. Cylke replied: "We certainly will act with the NFB, and you as the leader of the NFB in good faith. I would also say that I am sympathetic to your receiving the standards. Many of the items in there are housekeeping items I'd like to put into perspective. In order to get a handle and to measure the output, we have to measure input. So we have to worry about the educational levels, the qualities, the qualifications of the workers, and such things as straps. The National Federation of the Blind need concern itself with that only if you wish to. What you should measure us by is output. Is the material of a high quality and acceptable to you? Your specific point of sitting down together on a one to one basis, we absolutely agree with. We can work out the details later, and I assure you that I will be in contact with you within three weeks to set it up. We can do that on a regularly scheduled monthly or quarterly basis or we can do it as either one of us finds it important. We would be delighted to sit down with you and with anyone you designate to work for the production of better materials and a broader comprehensive collection than we have now."

Dr. Jernigan said: "We have had a chance to measure each other as organizations and as men and women—you as an administrator, and we as a Federation. We have had the opportunity each to test the other in a variety of situations. We're trying to tidy things up with this meeting with respect to the Library. We want more than formal cooperation with the Library as an institution. What we really want is to establish with you an era of understanding and good will. We don't need a pledge on your part that you're always going to agree with everything we say. You aren't, and we don't expect you to do that. Nor are we always going to agree with everything you say, and you don't expect us to do that. We know each other far too well to expect it. In the coming decade budgets will be tight. You will need consumer support (our support) and we will need the library services which you can provide. Our interests should be complementary not competitive or opposite. That's not true with respect to our relations with many agencies. I'm trying to say to you publicly in the presence of this large audience that the Federation would like to enter into an era of the best feeling and good will and the closest relationship in a mature, give-and-take, understanding way that we've ever had."

Mr. Cylke said: "I certainly concur with your wish. We wish to work at all levels through the organization."

It was agreed that Dr. Jernigan and Mr. Cylke would set up committees, that they personally would be on the committees, that there would be a meeting for a day or a day and a half once or twice a year to discuss library services. It was clear that this proposal carried with it the possibility of extremely positive developments in the programs of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

Perhaps the best way to end this article is by quoting an exchange which took place between Dr. Jernigan and Mr. Cylke toward the end of the discussion concerning the committee:

Dr. Jernigan: "Let's try to see if we can't have the kind of partnership and harmony which will bring to the blind of this nation the type of library service which they have never been able to get. That's what I'd like to see us do."

Mr. Cylke: "I agree. I'd say let's start from here, and if you are kind enough to invite me to next year's meeting—"

Dr. Jernigan: "You are herewith invited."

Mr. Cylke: "Thank you. You can take my measure at that point and you can judge on a regular basis as to whether we, indeed, are pursuing this kind of goal."

Dr. Jernigan: "Don't say I've never surprised you, Mr. Cylke. Sometimes I treat you better than you expect—and sometimes worse."

Mr. Cylke: "Well, it would probably be an understatement to say that. Yes, I am indeed surprised."

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By Felicity Barringer
Washington Post Staff Writer

(Reprinted from the Washington Post August 7, 1981.)

Reversing a Carter administration position, the Labor Department has decided that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 does not give handicapped people the right to take job discrimination complaints against federal contractors to court, its top lawyer said yesterday.

That is the Labor Department's job, Solicitor of Labor T. Timothy Ryan, Jr. said.

"If someone's been discriminated against under that statute, it's our business to enforce it and we're going to enforce it to the very letter of the law," Ryan said.

But, he added, the statute does not give a handicapped person the right to go to court on his own; the Labor Department must handle the case for him, if department attorneys believe the case has merit.

It is ultimately up to the solicitor general in the Justice Department to determine the government's position on an individual's right to sue.

David Rose, a Justice attorney specializing in civil rights enforcement, said yesterday that Ryan's opinion did not bind the Justice Department, but would probably be given considerable weight.

But the courts would eventually determine whether an individual has the right to sue under the statute.

One section of the rehabilitation act gives Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs the task of handling handicapped job discrimination complaints.

But both federal courts and attorneys in various government agencies have disagreed over whether handicapped people can also go to court with their complaints. Individuals would have to bear the cost of the suit if they sue; otherwise the department would be the one to pay.

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by Jim Gashel

Ever since 1969, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has had a program to hire and train blind persons as telephone service representatives. This program has been effective and, as a result, more than 200 blind persons have been hired. However, as Federationists know, special programs often result in special problems. Once you concentrate too much upon "jobs the blind can do" you often exclude other opportunities.

The usual promotional opportunity from Service Representative is the position of Claims Representative. A Claims Representative interviews the public, takes applications, and authorizes payments to beneficiaries.

Through the years, an unwritten policy evolved at SSA which said that blind people could not be Claims Representatives. It was said that blind employees couldn't complete the forms and that the public would not be "comfortable" in an interview with a blind person. Therefore, the blind Service Representatives became locked in at a GS-7 position with no promotional opportunity.

Ever since 1977, the NFB has been working to right this wrong. Resolutions have been passed, meetings have been held, and letters have been written. In 1978 Jim Omvig left his position in Iowa to work on this and other problems at SSA.

Finally, in December of 1980, Mr. Omvig convened a "study committee" to address the problem. As you would suspect, the study committee concluded that blind persons can do the job.

On Thursday, July 8, 1981, Mr. Paul Simmons, Deputy Commissioner for External Affairs of SSA, announced to the NFB convention that the SSA Commissioner would sign the policy statement. The policy statement saying that blind persons could be promoted to full fledged Claims Representative status: to GS-9 and then to GS-10, equal access to the next steps on the career ladder. The policy statement was signed by the Commissioner on July 31. I was present, and so was Mr. Omvig, along with other SSA officials.

The following memo was sent by the Commissioner (I suspect Mr. Omvig wrote it) to all SSA executive staff:




To: All Executive Staff

Date: July 31, 1981

Refer To: SCC

From: John A. Svahn
Commissioner of Social Security

Subject: SSA Policy on Blind Persons as GS-10 Claims Representatives—ACTION

Today, I wish to announce a clarification of the policy which affects employment and promotional opportunity for otherwise qualified partially and totally blind SSA employees. I have determined that there are no significant factors which make it impossible for blind persons to perform the full range of the GS-10 claims representative (CR) position. Therefore, it is SSA policy that otherwise qualified partially or totally blind individuals may be promoted to the journeyman GS-10 CR position within the standard CR position description.

OPM revised the X-118 Standards of the Federal Personnel Manual in 1979 eliminating physical requirements unless they are specifically related to the duty to be performed. We are in compliance with this policy, and we will take an affirmative role in carrying it out.

During the summer of 1980, Herb Doggette, Deputy Commissioner, Operations, and Commissioner Driver had several fruitful meetings with the SSA Handicapped Employees Committee. Among other important issues, the Committee asked that SSA convene a "Study Committee" to "review and evaluate the duties and functions of the claims representative journeyman GS-10 position," . . . "to determine if there are barriers within the position which might prevent blind persons from functioning at the GS-10 level, and whether solutions can be found if barriers exist."

The Study Committee, which met in Baltimore from December 2 through December 5, reached the following conclusion:

"After careful consideration of all relevant factors, the Study Committee determined that lack of vision in itself does not affect the ability of an otherwise qualified individual to successfully perform the duties of a journeyman GS-10 CR. There are no insurmountable barriers which would prevent partially or totally blind CR's from functioning at the GS-10 journeyman level. With reasonable accommodations, partially or totally blind CR's can perform efficiently and competitively, either as teleclaims or face-to-face interviewers. It is program knowledge and the ability to make proper judgments and decisions about claims, not sight, which are the essential prerequisites to successful job performance for the journeyman GS-10 CR."

I am pleased that the Study Committee was able to provide me with recommendations to bring this issue to a satisfactory conclusion. I am committed not only to providing equal employment opportunity for blind persons, but for all qualified handicapped individuals.

In 1978, the Atlanta Region conducted a pilot project to train and place successful blind service representatives as CR's. I would like to commend the Atlanta Region for taking aggressive steps so that qualified blind employees will have promotional opportunities. Seven blind employees are currently working as CR's as a result of this project. The Atlanta Region is exploring a process to make the GS-9 blind CR's eligible for consideration for the standard GS-10 position.

Some regions have placed partially blind persons in CR positions under the standard position description. This includes Atlanta which has 11 partially blind persons in such positions. I am encouraging all of you to act as quickly as possible to make sure that no qualified partially or totally blind person is prevented from having the opportunity to be trained and placed in the standard CR position because of his/her blindness.

John A. Svahn

Commissioner Svahn, by establishing a formal policy that blind persons may move up the career ladder, gives one more meaningful answer to the question, "Why the National Federation of the Blind?" This cooperative effort between the Federation and the Social Security Administration means more opportunity and better lives for the blind of this country in the years and the decades ahead. It was just that, a cooperative effort. The NFB could not have done it alone, and it is fair to say that the Social Security Administration would not have done it alone. Perhaps we could even go further and say that, because of the social attitudes which permeate our culture, the Social Security Administration could not have done it alone.

Be that as it may, the step has been taken; the policy has been established; and it was a cooperative effort. Of course, the job is not finished. We will have to be vigilant to see that the commitments are kept and that the policy is actually put into effect on a day-to-day basis. But the promise is bright, and the Social Security Administration is working with us with good spirit and we believe) good faith. Our momentum continues to increase.

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by Harold Snider

Harold Snider is the President of the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped. In this capacity he recently wrote an editorial which appeared in the Newsline, the publication of the Travel Industry Association of America. This is the trade association which represents the travel and tourism industry in Washington. Its newsletter is one of the two major travel publications in the country and reaches all sectors of the travel industry. Mr. Snider 's editorial and prefatory note appearing in the newsletter are as follow:


Harold W. Snider is currently an independent consultant and president of the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped, based in Washington, DC. Snider, who is blind, served for six years as coordinator of programs for the handicapped at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. He received his doctoral degree from Oxford University and his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.

There are approximately thirty-five million Americans who are handicapped. They look forward to enjoying the same opportunities for travel and leisure activities as everyone else. Are you prepared to meet the challenge of handicapped travelers in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons?

As an executive in the travel industry, you might well ask yourself why you and your organization should serve the handicapped travel market, and what benefits you might get from promoting travel opportunities for handicapped people? The profit margin for the handicapped travel market can be as high as it is in any other market. In fact, many companies in the industry have overlooked the financial opportunities in serving the handicapped market because they believed that it was somehow not nice to make a profit from handicapped people.

Handicapped travelers want the same service and treatment as other travelers yet they may need some special assistance. This assistance is usually simple and costs staff time rather than capital expenditure. Therefore, profit margins are rarely reduced.

When most travel executives consider handicapped travel, an assumption is made that all handicapped people require those facilities which are needed by persons in wheelchairs. The assumption that architectural accessibility is the primary requirement for handicapped travelers is a false one. Out of the thirty-five million handicapped persons in the United States, about five hundred thousand use wheelchairs either permanently or from time to time. So the vast majority of handicapped persons never use wheelchairs, and do not need ramps, special elevators, special bathrooms, or lowered telephones and water fountains. Also, since so many new facilities are being built and many others renovated, the cost of incorporating architectural modifications while construction is under way becomes nominal.

When the issue of architectural accessibility is no longer the primary issue in promoting travel opportunities for handicapped persons, the remaining issues are attitude and prejudice. So few of us in the travel industry have taken advantage of the handicapped travel market by training our personnel to work with handicapped travelers, or by promoting travel opportunities through local, state, and national organizations of handicapped persons. It is important to promote travel opportunities directly to handicapped persons themselves, or through consumer organizations of handicapped persons. It has been my experience that charities and welfare organizations for handicapped people do not pay for most travel by handicapped persons, whereas consumer organizations of handicapped persons have frequent state and national conventions and offer our industry the greatest opportunity to reach the handicapped market directly. For instance, the National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest consumer organization of blind people, held its week-long national convention in Baltimore this July, with over 2,000 blind persons in attendance. Just imagine the commissions and profit for airlines, hotels, bus companies, and attractions!

The Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped and its members will enable you to learn more about the handicapped travel market through educational seminars and conferences. SATH and its members can provide you and your company with individual help and advice such as training staff members to work with handicapped persons, and marketing your product to the handicapped community. SATH is the only travel industry organization which concerns itself specifically with promoting travel opportunities for handicapped persons, and encourages the employment of handicapped persons in the travel industry. It is a nonprofit, tax exempt, educational charitable organization.

If promoting travel opportunities for handicapped persons is of interest to you, please write or call me for more information. Contact either our New York City or Washington, D.C. office at the following address: Mr. Harold W. Snider, President, Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped, 26 Court Street, Brooklyn, New York 11242, (212) 858-5483; or Suite 803, 1012 Fourteenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, (202)783-1134-35.

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In past issues of the Monitor we have reported on misuse of rehabilitation funds and mismanagement of programs in the state of Alabama: Carlice Flowers, the workshop official who stole funds (Braille Monitor, March, 1980); George Hudson, the state director of rehabilitation who extorted automobiles and federal funds from recipients of grants (Braille Monitor, February, 1981); Tandy Culpepper, the traveling psychologist who double-dipped and got caught in the cookie jar (Braille Monitor, June, 1981) etc., etc. But there is more, much more! Apparently the iceberg is big, and the tip which we have so far seen is small.

Yet, there are still those who say that giving money to state agencies (never mind how or under what circumstances) necessarily means helping blind people. Giving money to an agency can, of course, mean (in effect) giving it to the intended blind recipients, but it can also mean the exact opposite. How did the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars extorted in Alabama help the clients of the agency involved? Does it not make sense for us to take this opportunity to try to restructure and reform the agencies?

If we give across-the-board support to the agencies, regardless of what they do—if, out of fear of losing such services as we now have, we raise no protest when programs are bad and funds misused—if we do not support and oppose agencies selectively on the basis of their merit (see Resolution 81-01, Braille Monitor, September, 1981)—if, in this time of reevaluation, we do not experiment with new ideas and think for ourselves—then, do we not insure the total breakdown of the system? If we do not call attention to the top heavy bureaucracy, the lack of responsiveness to blind consumers, the ineffectiveness of many of the programs, and (in at least some cases) the downright theft and misappropriation of the money intended for our use, how can we blame others if we do not get the opportunities and assistance we need and are entitled to receive?

Our interests are not necessarily those of many of the agencies. In fact, the interests of the progressive agencies in the field are not the same as the interests of agencies of the type described in the following article.

That article (headlined: DA Says Immunity Hampers Elks Center Probe) appeared in the Montgomery Advertiser of June 13, 1981. It reads as follows:

District Attorney Jimmy Evans said Thursday his office is investigating what an audit has said is a misuse of Elks Memorial Center funds, but is hampered by the immunity given a witness in a federal case.

The audit, which was issued in April by the Inspector General's Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, states that employees of the Elks Memorial Center, 312 Chisholm Street, misused some $470,000 in federal funds for, among other things, clothing, furniture, interior decorating items and cars.

The Elks Memorial Center is a non-profit facility designed to provide a home and services for the physically and mentally handicapped.

In a telephone interview early this week, Conrad Flores, the executive administrator of the Elks Center during the period the audit was conducted, denied knowledge of any misuse of funds during his tenure at the center.

"Of course not," Flores said, when asked if he was aware of any misrepresentation of federal funds.

When asked if he was disagreeing with the findings of the federal audit, Flores said "No, I am not saying anything. I have fooled around with federal auditors for too damn long. I am not going to say anything."

On April 16, 1980, a federal grand jury issued an indictment against George Hudson, former director of the state Department of Education's Rehabilitation and Crippled Children Service Division.

Among the 11 counts listed in the indictment was a charge that Hudson extorted Flores to buy him a 1977 Oldsmobile Delta 88 "through the wrongful use of fear of economic and financial harm to the Elks Center . . . ."

It was in Flores' best interest as administrator of the Elks Center, which receives the majority of its funding through the Rehabilitation and Crippled Children Service Division, to keep the director of that division satisfied, Teague said.

Hudson pleaded guilty to the extortion charge the day his case was scheduled to go to trial and received a three-year sentence. He was to serve five months at the federal prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base with the remainder to be served on probation.

The investigation that led to Hudson's indictment consisted of testimony against Hudson by Flores, said Teague.

It was testimony, Teague said, that "made it a certain indictment against Hudson."

"We saw Flores as the weak link in Hudson's past," said Teague.

In return for testimony leading to the indictment of Hudson, "Conrad Flores was given a letter of immunity by this office. He was also required to make a ($11,931) sum of restitution to the center because of some questionable expenditures and he was required to resign from his position," Teague said.

Teague said the letter of immunity was issued in February 1980. Teague said Flores paid the restitution by personal check at that time.

As a state official, federal attention was focused on Hudson, said Teague.

Evans said the federal action is making a state investigation into the Elks Center difficult.

Once federal immunity is granted, state prosecutors are prohibited from acting on information federal investigators have declared immune, Evans said Thursday.

"The District Attorney's Office is working with certain legal incumbrances arising out of the federal prosecution, but we have the matter under investigation and have for some time," said Evans.

In accordance with his immunity agreement, Flores resigned as executive administrator on Sept. 30, 1980, after 21 years with the Elks Center.

On that day, Flores received an Elks check payable to himself in the amount of $13,500 as a loan, according to John Earl Moore, certified public accountant for the Elks Foundation.

Powell Blair, Elks Foundation chairman, said Thursday the loan was approved by several members of the Elks Foundation Executive Committee.

"He was given a loan," Blair said, "but it is to be paid back."

Blair said the loan did not come out of the Elks Memorial Center account, but was paid for with Elks funds—"contributions from the Elks of Alabama."

Moore said the check was taken from a "convention account" or a non-operating account, which consists of charitable donations, "mostly from the Elks' annual Cadillac raffle."

Moore said no federal money ever enters the convention account, but the donations are usually sent "back to the Elks Memorial Center at the end of the year to make up any operating deficit for the center."

Flores refused to comment Friday morning.

By Marty Lou Ellis
Journal Staff Writer

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by Kenneth Jernigan

There are always new answers to the old question "Why the National Federation of the Blind." Eileen O'Brien of Illinois and Karen Mayry, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota, have just added another to the list. Both are severe diabetics; both have received kidney transplants; and both are active, on-the-move Federationists. The following correspondence is self-explanatory. It underlines and emphasizes the many ways in which our movement touches the lives of the blind—and cares:

Rapid City, South Dakota
August 11, 1981

Mr. Kenneth Jernigan
National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

Dear Mr. Jernigan:

During the 1980 National Federation of the Blind convention, I met Eileen O'Brien from Elmhurst, Illinois. Since then, she has received a kidney transplant and is doing very well. While we chatted in Baltimore, she told me of an idea that she felt would benefit diabetics who are experiencing retinopathy and kidney failure. She suggests a network of individuals who would be willing to call potential transplant patients and offer support to them. I felt it was a fine idea and ought to be pursued.

Within a matter of days after returning home from Baltimore, I received a call from a woman who was trying to decide whether she ought to attempt a transplant or die. She refused to use a dialysis machine as a way of life. The network had begun. I contacted Eileen plus two other NFB members—one a recent transplant and one potential with a positive attitude—who in turn called to help_____ make a positive decision. Enclosed is a copy of a letter from her father to me.

In that we will have our convention in Minneapolis next summer, we would like to ask Dr. John Najarian from the University of Minnesota Hospital to address the diabetics. We feel that he is the leading authority in the field and many of our members would benefit from meeting him. What is your opinion? And, how should we go about it? My preference is that you invite him. He is, by the way, an associate member.

I shall await your thoughts on our "network" idea.

Very truly yours,
Karen S. Mayry, President

Rapid City, South Dakota
August 11, 1981

To Eileen O'Brien, Elmhurst, Illinois

Dear Eileen:

How glad I am that you called _____in Rochester last month! It really helped her to make a positive decision about having a transplant. I am enclosing a copy of the letter that I received from her father so that you can see how effective the "network" can be. Your idea is great and I am glad to see that it has already been helpful.

I mentioned to Mrs. Anderson that you had thought it might be possible to have Dr. Najarian speak to the diabetics at the convention next year.

Enclosed you will find a couple of names of individuals to add to the list of contacts around the country. Hopefully, we will be adding more and more names and will be distributing them to state presidents or a key person in each state. I am really excited about your plan and know that it will be most beneficial to many persons.

It was great to see you in Baltimore and learn that you are doing so well.

Very truly yours,
Karen S. Mayry, President

Brookings, South Dakota
July 23, 1981

Dear Mrs. Mayry:

I am the father of _____. We returned from Rochester on Tuesday, and ______is recouping here at home. She is weak, and I am sure when she feels able she will be writing to you.

I would like to thank you so much for the encouragement and hope that you gave _____in your telephone conversation with her. The week at Rochester was a difficult week for all of us, another in the series of many that_____ has had in her 23 years as a diabetic. Frankly she was about willing to throw in the sponge and call it quits. Your call followed by one from Sioux Falls and one from Illinois helped her to see there was some light ahead.

We return the 3rd of August when she may have her spleen removed and learn more as to whether I am a compatible donor.

Again I can only say thank you, thank you, thank you, her mother and I do so much appreciate all you did.


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by Jim Omvig

The annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia was held in Bridgeport, West Virginia on the weekend of August 7 - 9, 1981. The membership was enthusiastic and displayed a commitment to our single, national movement.

There were two major highlights in addition to the banquet. First, three state legislators made a panel presentation on the legislative process in order to better prepare Federationists for a forthcoming fight over a Commission bill. Secondly, in his presidential report, President Dick Porter delivered a stirring call to the membership—any Federationist would have been proud to have heard it.

West Virginia Governor Jay Rockefeller was the principal banquet speaker, and I was scheduled to deliver remarks before his speech. An account of the banquet is contained in the following newspaper article from the Clarksburg, West Virginia Telegram of August 10:


The National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia is "seeking a partnership" with this state and its people.

"They say there is no discrimination! They say we are not a minority! But we know who we are, and we will never go back! ... We know the truth about blindness and ourselves and that truth shall set us free," said James (Jim) Omvig, representing the national office of the federation during the 28th annual convention of the state group, which concluded here Sunday at the Holiday Inn.

Omvig and Governor John D. Rockefeller IV were speakers during the Saturday night banquet.

After hearing Omvig's address, the governor digressed from his prepared notes and spoke extemporaneously to the 150 persons crowded into the inn's West Virginia Room.

Omvig, the governor and Omvig's wife, Sharon, had chatted informally for some time before the meal was served, and later, Rockefeller said:

"It was an extraordinary conversation. We first reminisced about Iowa, where Jim originally came from, and then, in strong, blunt and compassionate terms, he began to talk about what the state is and is not doing for its 3,500 blind. He made me wonder—Are we really doing all we can for the blind? I suspect the answer is no.

"After talking with him, I realize that I need to know a great deal more about the blind. My conversation with Jim Omvig is probably one of the most important I've had in my years as governor," Rockefeller declared.

Said the governor, "I'm beginning to understand—my ears are hearing better. I'm learning and growing and I commit to you a new and full participation in your program."

Omvig told the audience that he was encouraged by the governor's commitment and pointed out that, earlier in the day, his remarks of criticism were directed at the system (society) for its negative attitude toward the blind rather than at any individual.

"It is society that holds us down and keeps us out of the mainstream, not any individual," Omvig declared.

R. L. (Dick) Porter of Beckley, president of the state federation, in remarks following the addresses, noted that Rockefeller is the first governor of West Virginia to become an associate member of the NFBWV and that he would soon receive a certificate making him a life member.

Today, there are six agencies which the blind must turn to if they need help from the state government. It is the goal of the organized group to consolidate these bodies into one central organization (commission) so that a blind person need not hunt throughout the government in order to find the proper program.

Said Omvig in his banquet address, "I urge the State of West Virginia to establish a separate agency for the blind ; one agency which includes all programs for the blind, so that tile blind in West Virginia can have superior service and can go to only one source to find it. I also urge the State to work in a partnership with the blind."

Omvig, who became blind as a teenager, was admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois in 1966 and the U. S. Supreme Court in 1980. He has had an outstanding career in service to the blind and is currently the Handicapped Employment Program Manager, Office of Civil Rights, Office of Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity, Baltimore.

In summing up the plight of the blind, Omvig declared: "We do not need sympathy, we need understanding! We do not need charity, we need opportunity! We do not need to be kept out, we need to be let in."

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On Friday, April 3, 1981, people from all across Virginia began to gather at the Holiday Inn East in Winchester to make ready for the 23rd annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia.

Friday night was given over to hospitality, which was arranged by our hosts and hostesses of the Winchester Chapter and its able President, Amy Barnes.

Saturday morning featured reports by Jim Omvig, who represented the National Office of the Federation, and Charles Brown, NFBV President. Among other things, Mr. Brown reported on our attempts to improve conditions at the Richmond workshop operated by the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped.

Employment was the primary theme during the Saturday afternoon session. James Nelson, our corresponding secretary, reported on his work as the Virginia coordinator of our JOB program—Job Opportunities for the Blind. There was also a panel on employment, as well as a report from Ellen Miles, Handicapped Coordinator for the Washington, D.C. office of the Office of Personnel Management. Those on the panel were: Lois Everline, Teacher's Aide, Frederick Douglas Elementary School in Winchester; Dr. Andrew Allen, Associate Professor of English, Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville; and Dawnelle Cruze, Case Worker, American Red Cross in Norfolk. A report was given by Seville Allen, Chairperson of the Services Advisory Committee of the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped. She explained the Committee efforts to bring about needed reforms m services delivered by our state agency.

Undoubtedly, the high point of our convention was the Saturday night banquet. Mr. Omvig delivered the address. He spoke about the history of our movement and about what it has meant in his personal life experience. A local radio station recorded Mr. Omvig's address and the speech received good coverage in other media as well.

At the Sunday morning business session Charlie Brown was elected delegate to the 1981 national convention in Baltimore, and Nancy Hoover was elected alternate delegate.

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By Julie Vogt

(Note: Julie Vogt is a Federationist who lives in Minneapolis. She has been working to break into the recording world. She donated copies of her religious record as prizes, both at this year's and last year's convention.)



3 sticks butter
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla or lemon extract (or whatever flavor you like)
½ tsp. salt
3 cups flour
¾ cup 7-Up (You can even use diet 7-Up if you want to)

Method: Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Add flavoring. Sift flour and salt and add a little at a time while you beat until all flour has been added. Add 7-Up all at once. Stir well. Add rapidly, but do not beat. Bake in a 10-inch tube pan at 350 degrees for one hour or until brown.

Adaptation for baking in a Rival Crock Pot: Grease a 3-quart coffee can and a piece of aluminum foil large enough to fit over the can. Pour your batter into the coffee can. Put about one cup of water into your 3-quart crock pot. Secure the greased foil on top. Do not use the plastic lid to your coffee can unless you are planning to send a strange cake icing to a museum. Place your lid on the crock pot. Patience is a virtue which we all must cultivate. It takes a good four hours on high; then a good five hours on low. Remove the cake from the crock pot to cool for about an hour. Slide a knife around the edges of the coffee can, and tip it upside down on some foil. At long last, you have your cake for however long it lasts.

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New Publication:

Rami Rabby announces that he has written a how-to booklet entitled Employing the Disabled: What are Self-Help Groups and What Assistance Can They Offer the Employer. Concerning the booklet, Mr. Rabby says: "Self-help organizations of the disabled are rapidly growing in strength and numbers and should be used as a valuable resource by all employers who are committed to sound human resources management, in general, and to effective management of people with disabilities, in particular." The narrative text is followed by two appendices listing over 100 disabled self-help organizations (complete with up-to-date addresses and telephone numbers), the vast majority of which are national in scope and have well-developed regional and local chapters. The booklet sells for $5.00 plus $.50 for postage and handling. Contact: Rami Rabby, 136 East 55th Street, No. 8E, New York, New York 10022, (212) 371-7766.

From the American Brotherhood for the Blind:

Among its other services, the American Brotherhood for the blind provides in Braille to the deaf-blind a bi-weekly summary of the news. Rocky Spicer, who is the volunteer editor of "Hot Line," was recently honored by receiving a George Washington medal from Freedoms Foundation. Mr. Spicer has been editing "Hot Line" for more than fifteen years and has given many hours of time to the work. He is a man of talent and ability, and the honor is well deserved.

From West Virginia:

At the convention of the NFB of West Virginia in August a Blind Merchants Division was organized. Art Segal, President of the National Blind Merchants Division, was present for the occasion. The following officers and board members were elected: Donna Munck, President; Joe Minter, First Vice President; Victor Milner, Second Vice President; Linda Ripley, Secretary; Bill Munck, Treasurer. Board members: Jack Mclntire, Joe Smith, and George Papas.

Regarding Members-at-large and Associates:

Carl Conner of Arkansas, who has consistently done an outstanding job in recruiting Associates, recently signed up Congressman Ed Bethune as a Federation Member-at-large. We welcome Congressman Bethune to membership, and we congratulate Carl on his enterprise and effort.

From the National Braille Press:

"The National Braille Press Board of Directors has named Albert Gayzagian as its President. Mr. Gayzagian is a planning executive for John Hancock Life Insurance Company, with which he has been associated since 1952. He has been a member of the board nine years and has long been a user of National Braille Press.

"The National Braille Press was founded in Boston in 1927 by a blind reader of Braille, Francis Ierardi. Today at facilities at 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, the Press prints a Braille edition of the New York Times Large Type Weekly, the National Geographic in Braille, a free monthly woman's magazine in Braille, Our Special, as well as books for blind adults and children.

"Recently the National Braille Press has installed computer equipment for automatic Braille transcription that greatly increases production of Braille and cuts training time of operators from two years to six weeks at the most."

From John Duffy:

A seminar of the NFB Merchants Division will be held at the Downtown Holiday Inn, 1450 Glenarm Place, Denver, Colorado, February 12 - 14, 1982. Rooms (both singles and doubles) are $35.00 per day. For further information contact: Art Segal, President, Blind Merchants Division, Apt. 813 Carlton House, 1801 JFK Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103, (215) 567-6283.

New NFB Publication:

Postsecondary Education and Career Development—A Resource Guide for the Blind. Visually Impaired, and Physically Handicapped is available at a cost of $4.95 from the National Center for the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. The first part of this book contains much of the information that was formerly included in the Handbook for Blind College Students, but much more has been added. Part II is "An Interpretation of the Provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as Amended as Applied to Postsecondary Education," and Part III is "Career Planning and Development for Disabled Students." We believe this new book will be as valuable to the field as any we have produced.

Your School Includes a Blind Student  (Second Edition):

The first edition of Your School Includes a Blind Student by Doris Willoughby was published by the National Federation of the Blind in 1973. It has provided extremely valuable perspective, philosophy, and practical hints to thousands of teachers and others working with blind children throughout the country and abroad. Mrs. Willoughby has now revised her book and brought it up-to-date. The second edition is available from the National Center for the Blind at a cost of $3.75.

Kurzweil Opens West Coast Office:

Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc. announces the opening of a new office in Santa Ana, California. Mike Hingson, sales executive and a well-known Federationist, will manage the office and coordinate sales activities of data entry equipment on the west coast. Equipment available from Kurzweil Computer Products includes communication omni font scanning equipment, and the Kurzweil Reading Machine for the blind. The west coast office opened in mid-October and Mr. Hingson invites individuals seeking information and potential customers to contact him.

Monitor readers have long been familiar with the Cambridge office in Massachusettes.

Organizing in Maine:

During the week of August 9 a team headed by Diane McGeorge did organizing in Maine. The effort appears to have been a great success. The Maine convention was held August 15, and Bill Higgins (former President of the New Hampshire affiliate) was elected President. Pat Estes (immediate past President of the Main affiliate) was elected Vice President.

Organizing in Alabama:

During the week of August 16 a team covered the state of Alabama in an intensive recruiting and organizing campaign. As with Maine, the results were resoundingly positive. The state convention was held in Montgomery August 22, and the attendance was encouragingly high. There was good representation from throughout the state, and it would seem that we are likely to have a stronger and more representative affiliate than we have ever had before in Alabama. Thelma Blount of Birmingham was elected President. Joe Schuyler of Talladega was elected First Vice President, and Charlie Hutchinson of Montgomery was elected Second Vice President. Mr. Hutchinson is Statewide Complaints Coordinator for the Food Stamp program for the state of Alabama.

Another Federationist Arrives:

James Leroy Willows, III made his appearance in the world Wednesday, August 26, 1981. His father, Jim, is First Vice President of the California affiliate. His mother, Mary, is a member of the Board of the California affiliate. James Leroy was 20 inches long and weighed 7 pounds 10 ounces. At last report both father and mother were doing well—so was James Leroy, III.

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