The Braille Monitor

Vol. 30, No. 6                                                                                            June/July 1987

Kenneth Jernigan, Editor

Published in inkprint, Braille, on talking-book disc,
and cassette by

The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President

National Office
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
NFB Net BBS: (612) 696-1975
Web Page Address: http//

Letters to the president, address changes,
subscription requests, orders for NFB literature,
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should be sent to the National Office.

Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation about twenty-five dollars per year.
Members are invited, and non-members are requested, to cover
the subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to
National Federation of the Blind and sent to:

National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230


ISSN 0006-8829


         Vol. 30, No. 6                                                                         June/July 1987


by Kenneth Jernigan



by Gary Wunder

by Al Sanchez

by Kenneth Jernigan

by Ramona Walhof




by Richard Mettler

by Marc Maurer




by Marc Maurer

by Patti Gregory




Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1987



by Kenneth Jernigan

When I was a boy growing up in Tennessee, Braille was hard to come by. At the Tennessee School for the Blind (where I spent nine months of each year) Braille was rationed. In the first grade we were allowed to read a book only during certain hours of the day, and we were not permitted to take books to our rooms at night or on weekends. Looking back, I suppose the school didn't have many books, and they probably thought (perhaps correctly) that those they did have would be used more as missiles than instruments of learning if they let us take them out.

When we advanced to the second grade, we were allowed (yes, allowed) to come down for thirty minutes each night to study hall. This was what the "big boys" did. In the first grade we had been ignominiously sent to bed at seven o'clock while our elders (the second and third graders and those beyond) were permitted to go to that mysterious place called study hall. The first graders (the "little boys") had no such status or privilege.

When we got to the third grade, we were still not permitted to take books to our rooms, but we were allowed to increase our study hall time. We could actually spend a whole hour at it each night Monday through Friday. It was the pinnacle of status for the primary grades.

When we got to the "intermediate" department (the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades) we were really "growing up," and our status and prestige increased accordingly. We were allowed (I use the word advisedly--"allowed," not "forced") to go for an hour each night Monday through Friday to study hall, and during that time we could read books and magazines to our hearts' content. True, the choice was not great--but such as there was, we could read it. Of course, we could not take books to our rooms during the week, but on Friday night each boy (I presume the girls had the same privilege) could take one Braille volume to his room for the weekend.

Before I go further, perhaps I had better explain that comment about the girls. The girls sat on one side of the room, and the boys sat on the other; and woe to the member of one sex who tried to speak or write notes to a member of the other. Girls, like Braille books, were difficult to get at--and all the more desirable for the imagining. But back to the main thread.

As I say, each boy in the "intermediate" department could check out one Braille volume on Friday night. Now, as every good Braille reader knows, Braille is bulkier than print; and at least four or five Braille volumes (sometimes more) are required to make a book. It is also a matter of common knowledge that people in general and boys in particular (yes, and maybe girls, too) are constantly on the lookout to "beat the system." What system? Any system.

So on Friday nights we boys formed what would today be called a consortium. One of us would check out volume one of a book; the next, volume two; the next, volume three; et cetera. With our treasures hugged to our bosoms we would head to our rooms and begin reading. If you got volume three (the middle of the book), that's where you started. You would get to the beginning by and by. Now, girls and Braille books were not the only items that were strictly regulated in the environment I am describing. The hours of the day and night fell into the same category. Study hall ended at 8:00, and you were expected to be in your room and in bed by 9:40, the time when the "silence bell" rang. You were also expected to be trying to go to sleep, not reading.

But as I have said, people like to beat the system; and to us boys, starved for reading during the week, the hours between Friday night and Monday morning were not to be wasted. (Incidentally, I should say here that there were usually no radios around and that we were strictly forbidden--on pain of expulsion, and God knows what else--to leave the campus except for a brief period on Saturday afternoon--after we got big enough, that is, and assuming we had no violations on our record which required erasure by penalty.) In other words the campus of the Tennessee School for the Blind was what one might call a closed ecology. We found our entertainment where we could.

Well, back to Friday night and the problem of the books. Rules are rules, but Braille can be read under the cover as well as anywhere else; and when the lights are out and the sounds of approaching footsteps are easy to detect, it is virtually impossible to prohibit reading and make the prohibition stick. The night watchman was regular in his rounds and methodical in his movements. He came through the halls every sixty minutes on the hour, and we could tell the time by his measured tread. (I suppose I need not add that we had no clocks or watches.)

After the watchman had left our vicinity, we would meet in the bathroom (there was one for all twenty-six of us) and discuss what we had been reading. We also used the occasion to keep ourselves awake and exchange Braille volumes as we finished them.

It made for an interesting way to read a book, but we got there--and instead of feeling deprived or abused, we felt elated.

We were beating the system; we had books to read, something the little boys didn't have; and we were engaged in joint clandestine activity. Sometimes as the night advanced, one of us would go to sleep and fail to keep the hourly rendezvous, but these were minor aberrations--and the weekend was only beginning.

After breakfast on Saturday morning some of us (not all) would continue reading--usually aloud in a group. We kept at it as long as we could, nodding off when we couldn't take it any more. Then, we went at it again. Let me be clear. I am talking about a general pattern, not a rigid routine. It did not happen every weekend, and even when it did, the pace was not uniform or the schedule precise. We took time for such pleasantries as running, playing, and occasional rock fights. We also engaged in certain organized games, and as we grew older, we occasionally slipped off campus at night and prowled the town. Nevertheless, the reading pattern was a dominant theme.

Time, of course, is inexorable; and the day inevitably came when we outgrew the intermediate department and advanced to "high school"--seventh through twelfth grades. Again, it meant a change in status--a change in everything, of course, but especially reading. Not only could we come to study hall for an hour each night Monday through Friday and take a Braille volume to our room during weekends, but we could also check out Braille books whenever we liked, and (within reason) we could take as many as we wanted.

Let me now go back once more to the early childhood years. Before I was six, I had an isolated existence. My mother and father, my older brother, and I lived on a farm about fifty miles out of Nashville. We had no radio, no telephone, and no substantial contact with anybody except our immediate neighbors. My father had very little formal education, and my mother had left school just prior to graduating from the eighth grade. Books were not an important part of our family routine. Most of the time we did not have a newspaper. There were two reasons: Our orientation was not toward reading, and money was scarce. It was the early thirties. Hogs (when we had any) brought two cents a pound; and anything else we had to sell was priced proportionately.

I did a lot of thinking in those preschool days, and every time I could, I got somebody to read to me. Read what? Anything--anything I could get. I would nag and pester anybody I could find to read me anything that was available--the Bible, an agriculture yearbook, a part of a newspaper, or the Sears Roebuck catalog. It didn't matter. Reading was magic. It opened up new worlds.

I remember the joy--a joy which almost amounted to reverence and awe--which I felt during those times I was allowed to visit an aunt who had books in her home. It was from her daughter (my cousin) that I first heard the fairy stories from The Book of Knowledge--a treasure which many of today's children have unfortunately missed. My cousin loved to read and was long suffering and kind, but I know that I tried her patience with my insatiable appetite. It was not possible for me to get enough, and I always dreaded going home, finding every excuse I could to stay as long as my parents would let me. I loved my aunt; I was fascinated by the radio she had; and I delighted in her superb cooking-- but the key attraction was the reading. My aunt is long since dead, and of course I never told her. For that matter, maybe I never really sorted it out in my own mind, but there it was--no doubt about it.

As I have already said, I started school at six--and when I say six, I mean six. As you might imagine, I wanted to go as soon as I could, and I made no secret about it. I was six in November of 1932. However, school started in September, and six meant six. I was not allowed to begin until the next quarter--January of 1933.

You can understand that after I had been in school for a few weeks, I contemplated with mixed feelings the summer vacation which would be coming. I loved my family, but I had been away from home and found stimulation and new experiences. I did not look forward to three months of renewed confinement in the four-room farm house with nothing to do.

Then, I learned that I was going to be sent a Braille magazine during the summer months. Each month's issue was sixty Braille pages. I would get one in June, one in July, and one in August. What joy! I was six, but I had learned what boredom meant--and I had also learned to plan. So I rationed the Braille and read two pages each day. This gave me something new for tomorrow. Of course, I went back and read and re-read it again, but the two new pages were always there for tomorrow.

As the school years came and went I got other magazines, learned about the Library of Congress Braille and talking book collection, and got a talking book machine. By the time I was in the seventh grade I was receiving a number of Braille magazines and ordering books from three separate regional libraries during the summer. Often I would read twenty hours a day--not every day, of course, but often. I read Gone With the Wind, War and Peace, Zane Grey, Rafael Sabatini, James Oliver Curwood, and hundreds of others. I read whatever the libraries sent me, every word of it; and I often took notes. By then it was clear to me that books would be my release from the prison of the farm and inactivity. It was also clear to me that college was part of that program and that somehow I was going to get there. But it was not just escape from confinement or hope for a broader horizon or something to be gained. It was also a deep, ingrained love of reading.

The background I have described conditioned me. I did not feel about reading the way I see most people viewing it today. Many of today's children seem to have the attitude that they are "forced," not "permitted," to go to school--that they are "required," not "given the privilege and honor," to study. They are inundated with reading matter. It is not scarce but a veritable clutter, not something to strive for but to take for granted. I don't want children or the general public to be deprived of reading matter, but I sometimes think that a scald is as bad as a freeze. Is it worse to be deprived of books until you feel starved for them or to be so overwhelmed with them that you become blase about it? I don't know, and I don't know that it will do me any good to speculate. All I know is that I not only delight in reading but believe it to be a much neglected joy and a principal passport to success, perspective, civilization, and possibly the survival of the species. I am of that group which deplores the illiteracy which characterizes much of our society and distinguishes many of its would-be leaders and role models. I am extremely glad I have had the opportunity and incentive to read as broadly as I have, and I believe my life is so much better for the experience that it borders on the difference between living and existence.

It is interesting to contemplate how a particular train of thought can be set in motion. The memories and reflections I have been recounting were called to mind by a press release which recently crossed my desk. I want to share it with you and then make a few comments about it. Here it is:


Free Magazine For Blind Completes 80 Years

New York, March, 1987. With its March issue, The Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind completes eighty years as a free general interest magazine for blind and visually impaired persons. The Ziegler, as it is affectionately known by readers, was founded in 1907 by Electa Matilda Ziegler, wealthy widow of William Ziegler, founder of the Royal Baking Powder Company. The Ziegler has no print edition--its ten issues per year are in Braille and on recorded flexible disc.

Since one of the main difficulties faced by blind people is lack of easy access to the thousands of print magazines and books published every year, the Ziegler gives its readers an informative, stimulating, and entertaining selection from these print materials. It reprints articles from newspapers and magazines, and includes short stories, poetry, and humor. While the Ziegler is not about blindness, it does devote space to news and information of special interest to people with vision problems. In Readers Forum, readers have an opportunity to "sound off" on any subject and to discuss solutions to problems caused by lack of, or poor, sight. The Ziegler's highly popular Pen Pals section enables blind and visually impaired persons worldwide to get in touch.

It was a highly improbable sequence of events that led to the founding of the Ziegler. In 1906 Walter Holmes, a Tennessee newspaperman, was on a business trip to New York City, when he came across a newspaper description of a large bequest to charity. Irritated by the fact that no money was left to benefit blind people, he dashed off a note to the paper, pointing out how desperately blind people needed books that they could read with their fingers. Few books, he noted, were transcribed into a form that could be read by touch, and those few were far too expensive. The then popular Ben Hur, for example, cost only $1 in print, but an embossed version cost all of $30!

Walter Holmes' letter was published, and he received a response from one E.M. Ziegler, who asked to meet him. E.M. Ziegler turned out to be a woman, Electa Matilda Ziegler, and at their meeting she agreed to pay for a magazine for the blind, if Holmes would run it. To this serendipitous meeting the Ziegler Magazine traces its origins. Why was Mrs. Ziegler so interested in blind people? What was Mr. Holmes' interest? She had a blind son, and he had a blind brother.

True to her word, Mrs. Ziegler paid the expenses (some $20,000 per year) from her own pocket until 1928, when she set up an endowment. It is this carefully invested fund that has underwritten the magazine ever since.

The Ziegler's first issue in March, 1907, was greeted with enormous enthusiasm by blind and sighted people alike. Blind and deaf Helen Keller, then twenty-six years old, wrote to Mrs. Ziegler, "I must send you my glad thanks for the pleasure and the facilities which you have placed within our reach. I have waited many years for such a magazine."

Mark Twain wrote: "I think this is one of the noblest benefactions that has been conferred upon a worthy object by any purse during the long stretch of my seventy-one years." Eighty years later readers are still full of praise and gratitude for the magazine. One old lady who has been a reader since that first issue recently asked to have her subscription changed from Braille to recorded disc since, at her advanced age, she could no longer read Braille as quickly as she would like, but she did not want to miss a single issue.

To mark the completion of eighty years, the Ziegler asked its readers to submit essays to a contest on the subject, "An Unforgettable Journey." First prize was won by a reader in Jerusalem, Siranoosh A. Ketchejian, who described a 1909 journey as a small girl from her home in Armenia to a school for blind children in Jerusalem.

The second prize went to Virginia A. Reagan of Rogersville, Missouri. Her essay describes her continuing journey toward independence despite total blindness and orthopedic problems that oblige her to use a wheelchair. She points out, however, that her biggest battles were with the discouraging attitudes of doctors and others who believed she would never be capable of living independently.

James R. Stell of Glasgow, Kentucky, won third prize for his vivid recollection of a journey he made to New York City thirty years ago with the band of the Alabama School for the Blind. The band played at an international Lions convention.

These essays will be published in the Ziegler during 1987. A detailed history, titled "The Ziegler Magazine Story," was prepared for the 75th anniversary. Copies may be had on request. Any blind or visually impaired person who would like a free lifetime subscription should contact: Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, 20 West 17th Street, New York, New York 10011; (212) 242-0263.


By printing this press release I do not mean to imply that the Matilda Ziegler magazine is (or ever was) the greatest thing since sliced bread or even that I think it is unusually well done. I have not read or even seen a copy of it for years, and I have often heard it snidely called the "Lydia Pinkham" magazine--an epithet which may elude some of the members of the younger generation. Be that as it may, the Ziegler was one of those early Braille magazines that I had the opportunity to get my hands on when I was searching for anything that I could find to read. Along with The Search Light, The Weekly News, The Children's Friend, Discovery, The Reader's Digest, and a host of other Braille magazines, it provided me with both pleasure and information at a time when I most urgently needed them--and it was one of the first. I must confess that the Ziegler was not my favorite, but I read it--and I am not putting it down.

It was one of the early Braille magazines, which was freely made available to anybody who requested it, and I am sure that through the years it has brought countless hours of pleasure to a great many people. Because of the program of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the advent of the computer, the Braille and recorded magazines now available, the number of volunteer transcribers who are willing to produce material, and the accumulation of Braille and recorded books scattered throughout the country, the blind children and adults of today will hopefully never have to repeat the experiences I have described. Yet, the hunger for Braille, the isolation and loneliness, and the early magazines like the Ziegler are an important part of our heritage as blind people--a heritage we should not forget and from which we should continue to profit and learn.



(When does a situation become intolerable?)

Sacramento, California
March 20, 1987

Certified Mail: P-475-774-682

Mr. James Hartigan, President
United Airlines
Chicago, Illinois

Dear Mr. Hartigan:

This letter will address an incident which occurred in the Seattle-Tacoma Airport on January 18, 1987. As you will note, I have taken some time to write this letter (January 18th to March 20th) as I have given great consideration to the course of action that I should take. As a first step, I have chosen to write to you in an effort to provide you with an opportunity equitably to resolve the matter.

I am a businesswoman, who travels extensively throughout the United States. Because of my need to travel, I frequent the skies of United and other airlines and am a member of the United Airlines Mileage Plus Program and other similar "frequent flyer" programs.

As other passengers, I am accustomed to making my way to the gate assigned for my flight departure and, as other passengers, I am similarly accustomed to obtaining my boarding pass and boarding the plane in the usual manner when the flight is called.

Unlike most of the other passengers, I am blind, although blindness poses no problem for me.

On January 18, 1987, United Airlines officials made me the center of unwanted and unnecessary attention. I was a passenger on United Airlines Flight #1053, traveling from Seattle to Sacramento. Dick Gray, who identified himself as a gate agent for the flight, displayed outrageous conduct toward me both as a blind person and as a woman. (See the attached copy of my affidavit of January 23, 1987, which sets forth a detailed description of this incident.)

Mr. Gray apparently believes that when a blind person purchases a ticket on United Airlines, that blind person gives up all personal rights associated with passage aboard the aircraft and gives over one's body to the dominion and control of the airlines as an inanimate piece of baggage. And, if the blind person happens to be a woman, Mr. Gray apparently believes that the blindness diminishes his responsibility to behave as a gentleman.

Mr. Gray apparently believed that he had been given the right to push, shove, touch, and verbally abuse me, a blind woman-- conduct which I am certain he would not dare to levy on a sighted woman passenger who presented herself at Gate 6-North.

Mr. Hartigan, it may be appropriate for a gate agent to inquire of a blind passenger whether assistance is needed in the gate area and in the boarding process. It is definitely appropriate for a gate agent or other airline personnel to give directions, when requested by air travelers, including blind travelers. However, if any traveler, including a blind traveler, declines assistance in the gate area or in the boarding process, it should be assumed that the traveler can manage. It should be no more and no less for all travelers, be they sighted or blind.

It is definitely inappropriate for airline personnel to force unnecessary and unwanted assistance upon any traveler, including a blind traveler. Further, it is intolerable for airline personnel to push, shove, and otherwise invade the person of any traveler, including a blind traveler. Thus, it was inappropriate and intolerable for Mr. Gray to have pushed me, shoved me, and otherwise to have invaded my person by the touching of my breast.

Mr. Gray's extreme and outrageous conduct caused me severe emotional distress and has caused me to be apprehensive when encountering flight personnel and fearful of returning to Seattle by means of United Airlines.

Your attention to this matter and response to this letter is respectfully requested.

Very truly yours, Sharon Gold


Affidavit of Sharon Gold

I, Sharon Gold, hereby swear and depose:

1. My name is Sharon Gold.
2. I reside at 1233 47th Avenue, in the City of Sacramento, which is located in the County of Sacramento, California.
3. I am legally blind and at all times carry and use a long white cane.
4. I am a frequent flyer and participate in the United Airlines Mileage Plus Program.
5. On Sunday afternoon, January 18, 1987, I was a passenger on United Airlines Flight #1053 traveling from Seattle, Washington, to Sacramento, California.
6. At approximately 12:20 p.m., I arrived at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport by way of the Grayline Airport Bus.

7. Using my white cane, I traveled alone and independently from the front of the main terminal to the North Satellite by way of an escalator, the train, and hallways.

8. On or about 12:35 p.m., I walked to Gate N-3 and approached the check-in counter to check into the flight and to claim my seat assignment.

9. The gate agent offered me preboarding, which I declined by saying "no thank you, that won't be necessary."

10. The gate agent acknowledged my desire not to preboard by saying "that will be fine."

11. I asked the location of the jet way and the gate agent explained that I should turn to my left, go approximately 10 feet beyond the ticket counter and then turn to my right. I thanked the gate agent and stepped away from the counter.

12. Deciding that I was hungry, I left the gate area and went to a nearby cafeteria where I purchased a sandwich "to go."

13. Returning to the gate area, I observed that it was empty of passengers. Concluding that the flight had been called, I walked in front of the check-in counter following the directions previously given to me by the gate agent.

14. The gate agent suddenly appeared as I was passing in front of the check- in counter and grabbed me by the arm saying that he had procured a special assistant to walk down the jet way with me.

15. I took a step back from the gate agent and he released my arm. I explained that I did not require assistance in boarding the aircraft, thanked the agent, and continued walking toward the jet way. The agent fell in step at my side.

16. While walking toward the jet way with the agent beside me, he again told me that I would be assisted to the airplane. I thanked him again and repeated that it was not necessary for someone to walk with me down the jet way.

17. The agent said "we're liable for you and that jet way is treacherous". I replied that the airlines was no more liable for me than for any other passenger, that I was certain that the jet way was not treacherous, and that I have walked down many, many jet ways.

18. The gate agent again said that I could not walk alone and that the special assistant would walk with me.

19. I gave my boarding pass to a lady who was standing some distance from the entrance to the jet way and collecting boarding passes. I then turned toward the jet way.

20. The agent put his hand on my back, began pushing me on the back and shoulders, and said that the special assistant "would walk with me down the jet way whether I liked it or not."

21. The special assistant, who was standing at the opening of the jet way, began laughing and jeering at me because I believed that I, a blind person, could walk down the jet way unassisted.

22. I stepped to the left to break away from the agent's pushing and turned slightly toward the agent.

23. The gate agent verbally lashed out at me again. I don't remember his exact words but it was to the effect that I would do what United Airlines told me to do and that I could not decide for myself that I was capable of walking down the jet way alone.

24. The gate agent reached for me again, and then began pushing me on the right breast, apparently in an effort to turn me around and shove me toward the special assistant. In a quiet but firm voice, I told the agent "take your hands off of me."

25. I felt humiliated, embarrassed, and personally violated by the behavior of the gate agent and the special assistant.

26. I moved away from the gate agent and quickly proceeded to the opening of the jet way. The agent again stated that I would be accompanied to the plane whether I liked it or not.

27. I began to quickly walk down the jet way. I could hear the footsteps of at least one of the men, the agent and/or his assistant, as the man/men started chasing after me.

28. Frightened and not wanting to be again grabbed, touched, pushed, humiliated, or scorned by either of the men, I ran toward the plane. I just wanted to be left alone and allowed to board without grandeur.

29. One of the men yelled at me that I was going to "crash" and I replied that I would sooner trip or run over something if he continued to come after me than I would if he would leave me alone.

30. As I slowed a little to make the left turn toward the plane, I could still hear feet running behind me. I continued to run to the plane. I stepped into the cabin, turned to the right, and went directly down the aisle to my seat.

31. Realizing that I had entered the airplane under stress, Flight Attendant Barbara Mackland came immediately to my seat to inquire if I understood the safety features of the aircraft.

32. After awhile and before the plane left the gate, I got up out of my seat and went forward in the cabin to ask Flight Attendant Mackland the identity of the gate agent.

33. A man was shutting the door of the airplane. When I asked the flight attendant the identity of the gate agent, the man shutting the door spoke up and said that he had been the gate agent and that he was Dick Gray.

34. Mr. Gray turned from the door he had closed, faced me, and said that he was going to be riding on the plane. While the flight attendant was still present, I told Mr. Gray that I did not like the way that I had been treated at the gate. Mr. Gray replied "thank you".

35. While airborne, Flight Attendant Mackland came to my seat and I explained to her in detail what had happened to me in the process of boarding the airplane.

36. Upon landing in Sacramento, I left the plane unassisted and unbothered.

Sharon Gold


I, John W. Urda, a Notary Public in and for the State of California certify that Sharon Gold, personally known or satisfactorily proved to me to be the same, personally appeared before me and took oath in due form of law that the statements made in the foregoing affidavit are true and correct this 23rd day of January, 1987.



During the March on Washington in early February we talked with Senators and members of the House of Representatives about the airline problem. Overwhelmingly the reaction was positive. The Senators and Representatives promised to take action, and they are delivering on their promises. The following letter (signed by thirty-nine members of the House) is illustrative:


Washington, D.C.
February 27, 1987

Mrs. Elizabeth Hanford Dole
Secretary of Transportation
Washington, D.C.

Dear Madam Secretary:

We are writing regarding P.L. 99-435, The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 and existing DOT regulations published at 14 CFR part 382, non-discrimination on the basis of handicap in air travel. We are concerned that this law and existing regulations--and Congressional intent-- are not being followed.

We receive continual reports that blind air travelers suffer harassment and discriminatory treatment from some air carriers. The National Federation of the Blind has tried to alleviate the situation through the Department of Transportation, but to no avail. In three cases brought by the Federation, the Department ruled in favor of the airlines. This occurred despite strong evidence by the Federation that the airlines' arguments were based on faulty reasoning. Their concern seems well justified. We respectfully request answers to the following three questions.

Has the Department begun the regulatory negotiation process to implement P.L. 99-435?

Since this process is a lengthy one, will you use your informal powers as Secretary to urge airline officials to comply with the law and DOT's existing part 382 regulations?

Will you instruct DOT enforcement personnel to require airlines to comply strictly with 14 CFR part 382 as an interim step to carry out congressional intent expressed in enactment of P.L. 99-435? The enforcement strategy for part 382 should include acceptance and vigorous prosecution of complaints of discrimination which may be filed under part 382.

Thank you for your prompt and careful attention to this matter.

We look forward to your response to these important questions.


Gerry Sikorski, MC Ron Dellums, MC
Harley Staggers, MC Stephen Solarz, MC
Nick Rahall, MC Vic Fazio, MC
Larry J. Hopkins, MC Dante B. Fascell, MC
James H. Scheuer, MC
Kweisi Mfume, MC Barbara Boxer, MC
Billy Tauzin, MC Dan Daniel, MC
James A. Traficant, MC Barney Frank, MC
Jim Cooper, MC Howard Berman, MC
Hal Daub, MC Larry Smith, MC
Gerald D. Kleczka, MC Charles Rose, MC
Augustus Hawkins, MC Bill Schuette, MC
Doug Bosco, MC Byron Dorgan, MC
Thomas J. Tauke, MC Thomas M. Foglietta, MC
Robert A. Roe, MC Jim Slattery, MC
Robert J. Garcia, MC Mike Espy, MC
Elizabeth Patterson, MC Albert G. Bustamante, MC
Richard Stallings, MC John Conyers, MC
Peter H. Kostmayer, MC Tommy F. Robinson, MC
Bob Whittaker, MC Thomas C. McMillen, MC


by Gary Wunder

(This article appears in the February, 1987, Blind Missourian, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri.)

Several weeks ago I received a call from a friend who lives in my town. My friend is blind. I asked him if I could return his call since I was busy caring for my daughter. I said he had caught me at a bad time, and he replied that he seemed always to catch people at bad times.

I returned my friend's call about an hour later. He asked how I was, and we spoke for several minutes about me, and then I asked about him. He said he was okay. I asked what he had been doing, and he said "nothing." I asked what was exciting about his future, and he replied, "Well, we're going to get an easy listening station in about a month. That will be exciting." When I think about my friend, I'm reminded of the many persons I see who still live at the school for the blind in their dreams.

They believe they have no future. They have no accomplishments except the race they won some fifteen years ago as a freshman.

I write this because it is easy to become removed from those in our midst who desperately need our experience, strength, and hope. Loneliness can be a terrible thing. It is only through success in relationships that we build confidence. Let's make sure we are actively reaching out to provide those opportunities to our blind brothers and sisters. We can help them find a future.



by Al Sanchez

The following article is taken from the December-January, 1986/87, NFB Merchants Division Newsletter. It shows how one blind Federationist is achieving economic independence. With very little capital and no contacts in the city he picked, he systematically set about creating a business for himself. The key factors were a willingness to work as many hours as it took, a sensible plan of action, and a determination to satisfy his customers. In the case of this particular Federationist it is a piano business, but it could just as well be something else. The method, the planning, and the determination are what count. Here is the way Al Sanchez tells it:


In November, 1985, I moved to Spokane to begin a piano service business. I had just completed twenty months of training at the Emil Fries Piano Hospital in Vancouver, Washington. I chose Spokane because it had a good public transportation system and was a big enough city to offer good prospects for my business. I had an opportunity to learn more about the city when I attended the annual seminar of the Piano Technicians Guild, which was held in Spokane in April of 1985. At that time I met some people who were already engaged in the business here, and they assured me that business prospects continued to be good. After I got started, some of them referred me some business, which I appreciated very much.

It took a few weeks after my arrival for me to find a place to live and work. I needed and found a house on the city bus line with enough space for me to do some work at home. I also had to get the proper licenses and tax identification number.

I put up notices on bulletin boards everywhere they could be found: grocery stores, bowling alleys, laundromats, et cetera. I began to get some calls to work on pianos. I walked into Music City Spokane, which is the largest piano store in the area, and explained to them I would like to tune and repair pianos for them. Before long, they began to need me for a day a week, and now it is sometimes more than that. I contacted churches and got some contracts for one year, which generally means at least two service jobs. Now I am getting referrals from satisfied customers.

I feel good about the way my business is growing. The most pianos I can handle in one day should be four, although I have done as many as five by working into the evening. I am willing to work six days a week (fifty or sixty hours). Of course, I must have some time to do book work.

I hire a person to drive me four to five days a week. The best way to find such a person I have found is generally run an ad in the paper. That person drives, reads, and if not busy, does certain assigned tasks during the servicing of a piano. I do twenty to thirty percent of my work using public transportation and my white cane or dog guide. I do not think it is wise to take the dog into people's homes. You never know how they or their cats may feel about it. I do take the dog to the music store, to schools, and to churches. It is important to be flexible in one's ability to travel.

I am now tuning from two to three pianos a day. I have not done everything I might have done to get business, because I want to build right and keep my customers happy. The volume of calls continues to grow, and I believe I am keeping up with it. I am now beginning to see some profit over all expenses and can safely say that there is no question that it will continue to increase. It is a good business for me, because I do not like to be cooped up in the building all day long, and blindness has not been a major problem.



by Kenneth Jernigan

In the recent sorry history of the Iowa Commission for the Blind no episode has been more grubby than the story of Nancy Norman. When John Taylor was fired as director in 1982, the Governor's office and the Commission board made a great to-do about the fact that they were instituting a nationwide search to get the best possible candidate. After much fanfare and window dressing an unknown named Nancy Norman was given the nod. This was done despite the fact that there were qualified applicants and that Ms. Norman had no experience at all in the field of work with the blind.

As the full scenario began to be revealed, the story was even worse than it had first appeared. Ms. Norman's husband was the law partner of the man who was then chairman of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Moreover, her husband was also a heavy contributor to the war chest of Iowa's current Governor, who was at that time a candidate and running hard. So the much ballyhooed search was simply a disgusting charade, and the appointment was nothing more than a political payoff and (in view of the law partnership) a sort of secondhand nepotism. Under the circumstances it is not surprising that the results were a failure.

When Norman became director of the Commission, it was an independent department of government. Today it is a subdivision of a newly created department. When she took office, the Commission board made policy, and the head of the agency had director status. Now, the board supposedly has policy-making authority, but the Governor controls appointments. Moreover, the policy-making is more in name than reality.

During the 1986 legislative session the board instructed director Norman to fight to maintain the independent status of the agency. She disregarded their instructions, and the Commission became part of the newly created Department of Human Rights. In view of the fact that Norman was soon appointed head of the new department, some irreverently said that she was getting the customary payoff for her husband's political contributions. Of course, during all of this time the interests of the blind of the state (those for whom the program was presumably created in the first place) took a back seat.

Meanwhile Norman was not only made director of the new Department of Human Rights but was also retained as director (now downgraded to "administrator") of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. This was a violation of federal law, but nobody bothered about that--nobody, that is, except the blind of the state and the emasculated Commission board. The blind thought they had the right to a full-time director, even if a poor one; and the board seemed to think that it ought to have at least the pretense of some authority.

In the fall of 1986 the board, by formal vote, instructed Norman to choose one or the other--either be head of the new Department of Human Rights or be head of the Commission for the Blind, but not both. She didn't even bother to make a response. Then, when the board complained, she sent a breezy letter saying that the Governor wanted it the way it was and that she hoped to get around to resigning one or the other of the positions by the beginning of 1987. Then (under date of October 28, 1986) Dr. Russell Watt, who had apparently had enough, quit the Commission board with a blast (see Braille Monitor for March, 1987).

Next, the problem was apparently solved by a new rabbit pulled from the Governor's hat. He promoted Norman from head of the Department of Human Rights to head of the Department of Human Services. Does it sound like Alice in Wonderland?--well, maybe; but just wait. Ms. Norman's behavior in the new job was no more successful than in the two which preceded it.

There was a family named Cooper. The mother had mental problems and had allegedly abused her children, who were taken from her and placed in a foster home. Norman's department (Human Services, that is) handled the Cooper case in such a noteworthy way that it was featured in an unflattering expose on a recent nationwide 60 Minutes program.

When her name came up for confirmation in the Iowa Senate, the debate was stormy. Confirmation would have required thirty-four affirmative votes of the fifty-member Senate. Norman got twenty-three. Under her stewardship the Iowa Commission for the Blind had sunk so low that her mishandling of that program was not even a factor in the confirmation battle. The fight was over the Cooper case.

The tone of things can be judged by the newspaper stories and cartoons. One cartoon shows the Iowa Governor (rather boyish) cowering under his desk. The desk is loaded with papers, and a secretary is placing more mail on it. A large crate is sitting on the desk with someone peeping out of it. On the crate is written: "Return to Sender" and "Contents 1 Nancy Norman." The secretary is saying: "We have some more mail on the 60 Minutes piece about the Cooper kids, and a package from the legislature."

But what about services for the blind? The Governor's office, the Commission board, the state personnel department, the director of the Department of Human Rights--well, somebody--has announced that an impartial "nationwide search" is underway to find the "best qualified" person to be "administrator" (no longer director) of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. The list of applicants shows better than anything else could how the Commission is now regarded. If it were not so tragic and pathetic, it would be uproariously funny. Somehow it seems appropriate that a photographer and a tractor driver are among the candidates. Here is the list just as it was printed:


Applicants for the Position of Commission for the Blind
(In Alphabetical Order)

Clifton Alford, Jr., Charlottesville, Virginia, Administrative Manager, Thomas Jefferson Health District; Elaine Amber, West Des Moines, Iowa, Owner/Manager, Secretarial Services of Iowa; Richard Dean Arbuckle, Des Moines, Iowa, President, Econogy Corporation; Babak Ashayeri, Nashville, Tennessee, Holiday Inn Company; Vernon N. Bennett, Sr., Des Moines, Iowa, Management Consultant, Professional Advisory Company; C.L. "Vince" Caudle, Des Moines, Iowa, Private Insurance Broker; Terry M. Cunningham, Des Moines, Iowa, Vice President, Goodwill Industries; Dr. John E. Derby, Marshalltown, Iowa, Principal/Administrator, Sac and Fox Day School; Charles B. Evans, Baltimore, Maryland, Current Employment Unknown; Michael C. Flaherty, LeMars, Iowa, Executive Director, Plains Area Community Mental Health Center; Glen C. Geiger, Carlisle, Iowa, Retail Sales/Account Manager, Hockenberg-Rubin Company; B. Barry Hemphill, Austin, Texas, Tractor Operator, J.W. Wright Landscaping; Shirley Johnson, Des Moines, Iowa, Current Employment Unknown; Patricia G. Kallsen, Madison, Wisconsin, Acting Director, Supported Employment Project for Wisconsin; David T. Kennedy, III, Charleston, West Virginia, Current Employment Unknown; John M. Lewis, Charles City, Iowa, Current Employment Unknown; Dr. Steven D. Machalow, Des Moines, Iowa, Current Employment Unknown; Dr. J.L. Mahoney, Devils Lake, North Dakota, International Executive Director, American/Eastern; Edward J. McHugh, Wellesley, Massachusetts, Facilities Specialist, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission; Elizabeth G. Meyer, West Des Moines, Iowa, Current Employment Unknown; Darold L. Powers, Des Moines, Iowa, Library Associate, Iowa Commission for the Blind; R. Thomas Quick, Toledo, Iowa, Administrator, Bethesda Care Centers; R. Creig Slayton, Des Moines, Iowa, Acting Administrator, Iowa Commission for the Blind; Dale K. Travis, Warrens, Wisconsin, Photographer, World Photo, Inc.; Harvey J. Weiss, Atlanta, Georgia, General Manager, Servisco.


The Norman confirmation came before the Senate on March 16. Here are excerpts from the Des Moines Register account of what happened:


Tuesday, March 17, 1987

Senate Says No to Norman Appointment
Cooper Case Likened to "Miami Vice" Drug Raid

by Jane Norman

The Iowa Senate Monday rejected the confirmation of Nancy Norman as commissioner of the Department of Human Services, sharply criticizing the way her agency handled the foster care case involving the five Cooper children.

"It can only resemble a drug raid on 'Miami Vice,'" said Senator John Soorholtz, describing the way the five children were removed from their foster parents, Larry and Paula Mick of Kellogg, who live in his district.

"I don't even wean my pigs in this manner, nor do I separate them from their litter mates in a time of crisis," said Soorholtz, a Melbourne hog farmer and a Republican.

Norman's backers unsuccessfully argued that instead of blaming her, senators should change state foster care laws that require children to be reunited with their natural parents.

Third Rejection

"Let's seize upon this opportunity to correct what is wrong--let's not do it at the expense of Nancy Norman," said Senator Richard Vande Hoef. "Any other director would have to do and react in the same way."

Following a highly charged debate, senators voted 24-23 to not confirm Norman. Four Republicans voted against her, and eighteen Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Calvin Hultman changed his vote from an "aye" to a "no" so that he could file a motion to reconsider the vote....

Norman's opponents repeatedly cited the CBS television show "60 Minutes," which recently featured the case. Critics said Norman must be responsible for the department's actions, although she was appointed only a few days before the children were removed from the Micks' home.

The agency violated the children's rights, said Soorholtz, who said he questions the way the department has acted, and not the reason why.

Senator William Dieleman, a Pella Democrat, said he is "concerned about the image the state has gotten from the Cooper case." He said changes may be needed in state laws on foster care but he's not sure Norman would be the right person to make those changes.

Other opponents said they were unhappy with the way Norman was selected by Branstad. Branstad did not conduct a nationwide search for a director and did not consult the Human Services Council on her appointment.

Senator Jack Rife said he has voted for every appointment the Governor has ever sent to the Senate in the five years he has served, but he couldn't vote for Norman.

Rife, a Moscow Republican, said he knows Norman personally. "I like her.... However, I do not like the process that was used in selecting her."


This is what the Des Moines Register said on March 17, but it was not through. On March 18 it carried the following editorial:


A Well-Deserved Message

This is the message that the Department of Human Services should have received loud and clear: Placing the preservation of a bureaucracy's rules and procedures ahead of the interests of the five Cooper children was unacceptable.

Governor Terry Branstad, who is ultimately responsible for the department, should have received the same message, plus this one: Ineptitude in making major appointments in state government will catch up with you.

The Iowa Senate sent those messages bluntly when it refused to confirm Nancy Norman as director of the department.

Norman had entered the confirmation arena with a mark against her, thanks to Branstad's failure to consult with key legislators or with his own Council on Human Services before his surprise appointment of her in December.

Hackles were up in the Democratic-controlled Senate because Norman's husband was active in Republican Branstad's re-election campaign and because no nationwide search was conducted for the director of the largest division of state government.

Norman seems to have been qualified for the post, but her appointment was poisoned by Branstad's clumsy handling of it. Still, she might have won confirmation had it not been for her own clumsy handling of the Cooper case.

The case was a crisis that would have severely tested the most experienced department head. As a newcomer arriving on the job in the midst of the case, Norman was in a spot any administrator would dread.

She can't be blamed for a situation she inherited, but she can be judged on her performance since taking over. It has not been impressive.

The five Cooper children were separated and removed from a foster home where they had found love and security. The removal followed a Department of Human Services plan to eventually reunite the children with their mother, under whose care they had suffered abuse earlier.

The department has behaved like a bureaucracy hell-bent on having its way, upholding its procedures and punishing those who have dared to oppose the plan, regardless of any price the children may pay in the process.

Throughout, the department has refused to justify its actions, cloaking itself in secrecy.

Norman wasn't responsible for the department's actions, but as a new head of the department she would have demonstrated she was in charge by calling a halt and thoroughly reviewing an endeavor that was damaging the department as well as the lives of five children.

She didn't. Instead, she lay low as the bureaucracy ground relentlessly onward in the tragic case.

On the basis of such a weak performance, the Senate was justified in refusing to confirm her.


With all of this newspaper publicity and the rejection by the Iowa Senate the blind of the state cautiously hoped they had heard the last of Nancy Norman. Let the state play its games as it would. But there were those who feared that the Commission for the Blind was about to experience a second round--and this time with rejected merchandise. Unless the Iowa Senate decided to reconsider, Ms. Norman could not have the job as head of the Department of Human Services. Then, how about the position as director of the Department of Human Rights, one of the jobs she had just left? No, she couldn't have that one either. Someone else had already been appointed. Well, then maybe back to the Commission for the Blind. After all, the Governor was in the midst of another of those famous nationwide searches. Maybe he would find (much to his surprise) that right there under his nose had been the best candidate after all--none other than good old reliable, trustworthy, conscientious, knowledgeable, personable, modest, well-funded, properly connected Nancy Norman. Presumably her husband still had money, and one day there would be a race for the U. S. Senate. Who could tell? Maybe--just maybe-- After all, why go elsewhere and buy margarine when you have butter at home in your own ice box, and Iowa butter at that?

This is how matters stood on March 31, 1987, the day before April Fools' Day. The Norman confirmation came up for reconsideration during the morning session. There was a good deal of pulling and hauling, blustering and posturing--but it was clear that there had been a lot of behind-the-scenes work. It may be significant that a number of Senators kept protesting that no "deals" had been made. As the proceedings went forward, it seemed that Norman and the Governor might still be a vote short of the necessary two-thirds. Questions were raised as to whether the Governor might consider withdrawing the appointment, and there were indications that this could be a live option. There was also a proposal that perhaps a deal could be struck whereby Norman could be confirmed on a temporary basis while another of those famous "nationwide searches" was undertaken for a permanent director.

Then, the session ended and lunchtime came around; and the calls and cloakrooms buzzed. Late in the afternoon the matter came up again, and the deed was finally done. Nancy Norman squeaked through to confirmation--squeaked, but not squeaky clean. The rumors were as thick as snow in a mid-winter blizzard. Deals had been cut; the Democrats had decided that Norman would do such an incompetent job that the embarrassment to the Governor would be better for them than rejection--especially, after the mauling which Norman and the Governor had already taken. Norman would get her confirmation and soon quietly bow out. Pick your rumor, and you could find it.

All that can be said for certain is that the goings-on in Iowa in recent years have been a credit to no one. The state (a wonderful state with wonderful people) deserves better. So do the blind. There was a time when programs for the blind in Iowa were the envy of the nation and a model for the world. They are now a laughingstock and a source of shame. Perhaps something constructive can still come out of all of the recent shenanigans.

Perhaps the public (that ultimate arbiter of all decisions) will finally arouse itself and insist on a return to sanity and moral values--a thorough housecleaning, an orderly process of government, and a chance for blind people again to have meaningful programs and real opportunities. Not too long ago the blind were approaching true equality with the sighted and first-class citizenship, to a degree never before achieved in all of history. Maybe it is too much to hope that it can all be put together again and the journey to full status in society completed, but many still hope. A thing must be said before it can be believed, and believed before it can come true. In any case Nancy Norman will hopefully no longer be a factor in the lives of the blind. That stumbling block, at least, would appear to have been removed.



by Ramona Walhof

I first met the Barretts, Pat and Trudy, in 1980 or so, but I really got to know them after I came to live in Idaho in 1982. As the new director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, I called a staff meeting. Pat Barrett brought me one of my first surprises. He wanted to know if he should come to the staff meeting. I asked him if he was on the staff, to which he answered, "Well, I don't know." I assured him that if he got paid by the Commission and worked in the Building, he should consider himself a staff member and that we needed him to attend the staff meeting. His pleasure at this information was one of many indications that there was a great need for more teamwork. Since that time I have watched Pat take on more and more responsibility and do each job well. He served as state convention chairman and President of the Western Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho. He is now Second Vice President of the NFB of Idaho, Social Chairman of the Western Chapter, and Editor of our newsletter (Milestones).

Trudy in 1982 was by turns poised and angry. She had many things to be angry about, and she had things to be glad about. Through the years Trudy learned to accept the things that made her angry with more and more composure. The day I was fired for no stated reason as Commission for the Blind director over protests of board chairman Norm Gardner and many blind persons and Commission staff, Trudy was upset, as we all were. She totally lost her temper and then cried and cried from embarrassment and regret. Those of us with her loved her for her concern and shared her regret. But Trudy has continued to grow also. Poise has come to dominate her behavior, and she deserves to be commended for it. She has asked for no glory or honor, but she is always here when needed, reliable and ready.

Since I have known the two Barretts they have wanted to adopt a child. They made application and saved their money. They were first very impatient and a little angry because the adoption agency was not confident that a blind couple should have a child.

But they did exactly what they needed to do. They asked NFBI President Norm Gardner to help. He did. After talking with the appropriate people, he was assured that the Barretts were on the waiting list and should have a baby in less than a year.

It has been more than a year, but the Barretts' optimism has increased. Sure enough, in early February they got a call to come and pick up the baby--with only three hours' notice. Imagine trying to get a crib and clothes and formula and everything else ready in three hours. But they did it.

I first met RaeAnn a couple of days later. She was a little less than two months old, and Mama and Papa Barrett were learning new things about a tiny baby just as all new parents do. Blindness was not very significant when I sat in their living room with the three Barretts and both sets of grandparents. Grandma or I could make a suggestion to Mom or Dad, and they were not offended or threatened. But they really had things under control. Trudy found a bottle of medicine in the diaper bag. No one had told them the baby was taking medication. A call to the pharmacy to find out what the stuff was for.... It was Saturday night, so seeing a doctor for less than an emergency was not very practical. Dry skin on the fact and a yeast problem in the mouth were soon cleared up under Pat and Trudy's care. Trudy was better than Pat at changing diapers and giving baths. What's new about that? It was an altogether delightful evening. The second time I saw RaeAnn she was more alert and holding her head up better.

Today (early in March) Pat called to say that the natural parents have now released all claims to the baby. There is only the standard six-month (now five) waiting period for the adoption to be final. No one doubts that all is going well. I can't help thinking how much difference the Federation has made to the Barretts and to so many others. And how much one couple can do for the Federation. So now instead of two there are three Barretts, and the champion punster is forever Papa Barrett.



(Jim Moynihan is a long-time Federationist and dog guide user. He is a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri and an employee of the Federal Office for Civil Rights. The June, 1985, Braille Monitor carried an article entitled: "The Moynihan Case: What Happens When the Office for Civil Rights Engages in Discrimination.")

Kansas City, Missouri
March 7, 1987

Dear Dr. Jernigan:

With some annoyance I read the article entitled "A Stride Forward in the Dog Guide Movement" by Professor Edwin Eames and Ms. Tony Anne Gardiner, published in the February, 1987, Braille Monitor. In the article the authors refer to their self-described highly acclaimed best- seller "A Guide to Guide Dog Schools." Highly acclaimed by whom, and how many copies did the book sell?

There was a great deal of fanfare about this book for many months before it was finally published. Dog guide, or is it guide dog, schools were being consulted and input was being requested from dog guide users. During my talk with Professor Eames I mentioned that I received dogs from two schools--Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the Seeing Eye. Professor Eames said that he would like to know my feelings since I attended two schools.

I told Professor Eames that I received two good dog guides. However, I preferred Seeing Eye because Guiding Eyes was NAC-accredited and forced users to sign a contract in which the school kept legal ownership of the dog. I also said that Seeing Eye did a better job of stressing the fundamentals.

Professor Eames told me that these views were negative and that he was not looking for this type of comment. Although I am not a trained sociologist or psychologist, I believe that feelings may be negative or positive. After reading their book, I am reminded of Peggy Lee's song "Is That All There Is?"

The book was primarily intended for blind persons who are deciding whether to get a dog guide dog or are simply curious about the subject. To be fair, I realize that I am using my second dog and have done some reading on the subject. However, I did not find the book instructive. Its approach was shallow and superficial. Readers were informed that the user holds on to a harness with a u-shaped handle and that the dog responds to the commands "forward," "left," and "right." Puppies are raised by 4-H families and are then trained for three to four months. Students go to the school for three to four weeks of training after being accepted into class. The authors stop just short of telling us that the dogs have four legs, a head, and a tail. If you are suffering from insomnia, just read the cassette version of this book.

The most helpful part of the book is the Directory of Guide Dog Schools, but this information could be obtained by sending away to the schools. What happened to all the consumer input? There are a few self-serving references to the experiences of the authors, but what about the real-life experiences of consumers.

Why do people decide to leave home for three to four weeks to go to Pilot, Leader, San Rafael, et cetera? What is it like at school, and how do people react? Incidents range from funny to inspirational. I would bet that the authors had a gold mine of material if they would just let people share their feelings.

At Guiding Eyes at the end of training we were dropped off and not told where we were. We were expected to find our way back to school. One student was in a state of panic worrying about her trip that afternoon. My roommate, who was an ex-Vietnam veteran told me that they got their behinds shot off every day in Vietnam: That was something to worry about.

In New York students sat in the lounge waiting to go for subway training. One of the students fell asleep, and his dog got up and started walking out the door. The instructor returned the dog to him and asked if he was missing something.

Mr. Ramon Arenas, a wonderful human being and one of Seeing Eye's finest instructors, came to this country from Spain. When he first arrived, his knowledge of English was quite limited. He told us that one day he went to the store to buy a pack of cigarettes but did not know the word "cigarette." He became frustrated when the clerk did not comply with his request. He got down on all fours and made noises like a camel since he had heard of that brand of cigarette.

One student at Seeing Eye was involved in a serious auto accident. He and other members of his family were given last rights. The student recovered but became blind as a result of the accident. After years of depending on friends, he decided to become an independent traveler by getting a dog guide.

There was an executive at Xerox who was losing his sight. He thought of himself as visually impaired--canes, dog guides, and talking books were degrading and were for blind people. He finally got smart and got a dog guide. I would give Professor Eames and his colleagues a grade of "C" for their efforts. If a sequel is to be written, let's hear what consumers have to say.

The problem with the article in the February Monitor is that the general public and many users do not take dog guide ownership seriously.

No, I don't have much trouble getting my "large" dog out of the way on buses or under tables in restaurants. On the bus I use a seat facing forward rather than a seat facing the aisle. The dog is underneath the seat and is usually not seen until it is time to get off the bus. In restaurants I like to sit at a table, if possible with the dog under my chair. When I am sitting in a booth it only takes a few seconds to make sure that the dog's paws are not in the aisle. While carrying on normal conversation and activities, you should always be subconsciously aware of where your dog is and what he is doing.

Do I resent taking the dog out on cold winter mornings? This is not my favorite activity, but it is preferable to cleaning up a mess on my carpet. This becomes your responsibility just as grading papers is the responsibility of a professor. Yes, I would rather have a large dog that is strong enough to pull me out of danger and that can play with me and my kids when I return home from work.

People really have a thing about dog guides taking up so much room. Airline personnel want to put you in bulkhead seats or block off seats so that you have a whole row to yourself. Restaurant managers want to give you a booth or sit you in the corner so that the dog will be "out of the way." When I am going to ride in a car, a man will say that his wife can sit in the back so that there will be room for Dean and me up front. I explain that there is plenty of room for Dean and me in the back.

If I am riding with one person he or she will offer to let Dean ride on the back seat so he will have enough room.

It is my feeling that Professor Eames and Ms. Gardiner are indulging a private fantasy, which they have chosen to share with us. A small, unobtrusive, pocket poodle would be just the thing, just as a small, folding cane which you can put in your pocket is preferable to those long, inconvenient, and awkward fiberglass canes.

A stride forward, indeed. I would love to see how Morris Frank would have reacted to Professor Eames's article.

Sincerely, James Moynihan


Wherever there are NFB local chapters, things begin to happen--constructive, worthwhile things which make a difference in the lives of the blind. This is exemplified by what occurred earlier this year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Under date of March 10, 1987, the Milwaukee Journal carried an article headlined "Cable Specials: Warner Presents Shows for Blind, Deaf." In the article Robert Devine, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Access Telecommunications Authority (MATA), told how his organization and the Milwaukee Chapter of the Federation were teaming up to produce a television show:

"Cameras, sound equipment, and other technical production devices for the show, he said, will be operated by the blind. "'A few are partially sighted,' Devine said, 'but we've had totally blind people operating the cameras. I know that sounds incredible.'

"Devine said the telecommunications authority had made some minor adjustments to the studio equipment to allow the blind to use the devices more effectively...."

Under date of March 16, 1987, the Milwaukee Sentinel carried the following article:


Blind Woman Tackles Visual World of TV

by Robert Anthony

When Bonnie L. Peterson, who is legally blind, walked into the offices of Milwaukee Access Telecommunications Authority a few months ago and told the people there what she wanted to do, even the innovative folks at MATA seemed astounded.

In just more than a year, MATA has turned hundreds of novices into well-trained producers of public access programs aired on the city's cable television system. But the task laid before it by Peterson was obviously one that MATA hadn't expected.

Could it be that a team of legally blind people could produce their own television show?

Peterson said "yes," and she intended to prove it. "Blind Perspectives" will air at 6:30 p.m. March 24 as the state's only television show completely developed by blind people, said Peterson, the program's moderator and President of the Milwaukee Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin.

The first show will feature Thomas Kujawa, president and managing director of the Milwaukee County Transit System, and Bruce Colburn, president of Amalgamated Transit Workers Union Local 998. She said she would discuss the recent increase in transit fares and the services offered by the bus company and the union.

"Nobody particularly asks what services the union offers," she noted.

"They were just totally intrigued," said Peterson of her first encounters at MATA. "In the beginning they were walking on eggshells.... They were so tender."

She said that in case she forgets her questions, her notes will be available on a table in front of her in Braille. Other than the notes, the microphone, and the large screens attached to the cameras, the adaptations for the blind crew are few, she said. She said blind people often are hurt by people who make wide assumptions about them or try to infringe on their independence by not allowing them to attempt certain tasks.

"We're doing something that most people thought was impossible.

Something like this should help out all blind people. "We as a group knew that we had to gain access to the community," said Peterson, who said she felt a strong need to put on a well-produced show.


These articles in the Milwaukee press reflect the enthusiasm and cooperative spirit which characterize the joint effort by the Milwaukee Access Telecommunications Authority and the Federation.

In a press release issued prior to the program MATA officials said:


Wisconsin's First Blind T.V. Crew To Debut on Milwaukee's Community Access Channel

On Tuesday, March 24, 1987, at 6:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. the National Federation of the Blind will premiere the first of several programs planned for showing on Channels 14 and 46 (Warner Cable) through the Milwaukee Access Telecommunications Authority (MATA).

The program developed and produced by the National Federation of the Blind is called "Blind Perspectives."

It will be a Live Call-in show. Interested persons are asked to call MATA at 225-3560 during the last half of the program.

Bonnie Peterson, President of the Milwaukee Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, will moderate the program. Other functions such as directing, camera work, audio, character generator (video typewriter), phone screening, and talent coordination are all done by NFB members who are all legally blind.

Both MATA and the NFB are excited about this new kind of programming involving the blind community. Art Tyson, Vice President of the Milwaukee NFB, believes that through this opportunity individuals who are blind now have real access to the medium of television because "we produce, direct, and serve as the crew for the production." The NFB has another Blind Perspectives program in the planning stages, a parenting program to focus on the issues of raising and educating blind children.

For more information about Blind Perspectives contact Bonnie Peterson at 483-3336 or James Mosely at MATA, 225-3560.



To David and Loraine Stayer Federationism is important. Loraine (Lori to her friends) is an officer of the Writers Division, and those who have attended recent national conventions have delighted in David's clear tenor as he has delivered the invocation in song.

David is a quiet man, but he knows what he believes and does not waver in his principles. He is employed as a social worker at the Nassau County Medical Center in New York, and he is a past president of the New York affiliate.

Recently David wrote to Dr. Jernigan saying in part:

"This letter is being written to explain the enclosed two articles. There is a new publication on Long Island called "Challenge," which deals specifically with the disabled community. I was interviewed and am featured in their initial issue.... Several conventions ago you indicated that if any of us make the press, sharing is the thing to do. The second item is our Temple bulletin in which an article I wrote has been published. There is one point that should be clarified, and that is my blindness has existed since birth, but I did not realize it until age six...."

We thought Monitor readers might like to see David's article which appeared in the Temple bulletin:



by David R. Stayer

The time comes when I believe that everyone should search and reminisce regarding what has occurred in his life and where one is going. Review of my years shows me how my striving to be a better person has led me down the road to Judaism and Federationism--which are not inconsistent. Explanation requires traveling with me to my childhood and up to current activities.

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and learned about my blindness at approximately six. My parents learned earlier because of my being born prematurely. Most of my early education was spent at schools for the blind. Our religious instructions consisted of a Rabbi coming once a week. When I was studying for my Bar Mitzvah nothing was available in Hebrew Braille. Sunday was spent with a Rabbi at our local Synagogue, studying. The entire week would pass, and I had to keep reviewing in my mind the lessons learned.

In those days I was a boy Soprano and the envy of the girls. Our family was poor, and my Bar Mitzvah ceremony and party were small. I can still remember chanting my Haftorah.

While I was attending Brooklyn College, my first genuine contact with a group religious experience occurred at the Hillel Foundation. Some twenty of us or so studied together Sabbath weekends with the Rabbis. I spent many hours in joy and fellowship. Few books were available in Braille, and I had to have material read aloud to me. The Cassette recorder had not come into vogue yet. After completing studies at Brooklyn College I proceeded on to graduate school at New York University School of Social Work.

During graduate school I first learned about discrimination because of blindness. Social Work School requires two years of practical contact with clients at reputable agencies under supervision of Master's degree personnel. During my summer between the first and second year of graduate school I contacted thirty- nine hospitals before securing employment. At that time I did not know about, or belong to, the National Federation of the Blind. My battle was basically fought alone. My New York State Commission for the Blind counselor was of no assistance. After completing graduation I found a position with the city hospital where I had worked the previous summer. This was tinged with disappointment because New York City personnel indicated that if the hospital had not wanted me back, no job was available for a blind social worker.

Years passed, and I was married. My job had changed, and I had sought and found employment at the Nassau County Medical Center, where I am today. I joined the National Federation of the Blind and have been attending national conventions. The Federation has taught me that it is okay to be blind. I have also learned that, spiritually, a movement of brotherhood accomplishes many things. Because of the intervention of friends, the National Federation of the Blind no longer serves pork at its banquets.

Now, because of the National Federation of the Blind and agencies such as the Jewish Braille Institute of America, the Jewish blind youngsters can receive Hebrew material in Braille or on records or cassettes.

Let us travel the road to the present. Because of my activity within the Federation and my involvement with our congregation, Jewishness is important to me. This past September I received a letter from Dr. Jernigan, the immediate past president of the National Federation of the Blind. This letter was from a prisoner in New York, who is both blind and Jewish. This prisoner's letter cried out for help for himself and the other prisoners who are blind in the special unit at Eastern New York Correctional Facility. My decision was to act and spread the philosophy of the Federation regarding the positive attitude of blindness. In March of last year a friend and I visited the facility and spoke with the prisoners and the staff.... One specific prisoner, Ari Thomas McAvoy, asked us specifically for help in obtaining a job and housing. My family and I agreed that we would help him.... For three months he was with us, sharing in our family activities. This included attending Hebrew school graduation and services at our Synagogue. Additionally, we taught him how to travel with a cane. The Commission for the Blind, although acting fairly quickly to open his case, did not respond to the need for mobility. We spent many hours discussing blindness and what it means. Ari had no training, and his feelings about blindness were rather tragic. He is now attending Queens College and did work for VAST, assisting prisoners with legal problems. He hopes to be an attorney some day. Ari deserves credit for his persistence. His accomplishments have been many.... I am happy to have been given the opportunity to help affect another life positively. Ari has taught me the way to put on T'fillin, and I have discussed with him what life is about and how as a blind person he is as normal as anyone else.

I would like to have enhancements such as computers with talking features, but educating my daughters Jewishly is more important. I truly enjoy being Jewish and a member of the National Federation of the Blind. Spiritually I have grown.

Reflection has demonstrated that my life has been productive, and I pray that many years of achieving goals of helping others will be my privilege.



by Richard Mettler

(Richard Mettler is Public Information Specialist at the Nebraska Services for the Visually Impaired. His article will undoubtedly be controversial, but it should stimulate thought and discussion.)

For quite some time NSVI has considered the use of sleep shades to be indispensable in training people who have limited vision. Implicit in this practice is the understanding that the skillful use of remaining vision is a viable alternative technique. A well- trained client with remaining vision will have at his or her disposal a set of low vision alternative techniques as well as a set of non-visual alternative techniques which can be used independently or in combination. In this paper we explain how the cognitive model which is used in the training of non-visual techniques is extended to encompass systematic low vision training. So as to explain just how low vision training grows out of training in non-visual techniques a review of the agency's rationale behind the use of sleep shades is in order.

In "On the Use of the Blindfold"[1] Carl Olson explains that while training under sleep shades an individual is in a systematic and total immersion learning situation. The skillful use of non- visual techniques is learned best by factoring out vision altogether and so leaving the client to concentrate exclusively on the non-visual techniques. A client cannot therefore attribute failure or success at a task to the amount of vision which remains. As competence in the use of these techniques increases an individual becomes increasingly more confident in those techniques as a reasonable way to approach the world. Once a certain mastery of the techniques is achieved, this confidence is generated into a heightened sense of self-confidence. An individual trained in this way knows from personal experience that regardless of how well remaining vision may serve in a particular situation, there is a well-tested strategy of non-visual techniques with proven efficiency. Thus, the individual comes to understand that the limitations of visual functioning need not define the limits of functioning in the world.

Three more or less peripheral reasons often adduced for using sleep shades in training are: (1) that it assists people with limited vision to make better use of other sensory stimuli; (2) that it helps people with a progressive condition prepare for total blindness; and

(3) that it simulates night travel conditions for people with "night blindness." Reasons (2) and (3) have some validity in a small number of cases but are not primary even in those cases. Reason (1) comes closest to capturing the relevance of the agency's rationale to all clients with limited vision, but the rationale still goes much deeper. Toward developing a full account of the agency's rationale for sleep shade training it's useful to consider three reasons which have been advanced in opposition to the practice.

First, it's argued that sleep shade training deprives clients of training in the use of remaining vision. We can isolate three assumptions underlying this reason: Sleep shade training is incompatible with low vision training; specific training in interpreting and utilizing visual data is the only way to assist a client to make better use of remaining vision; and sleep shade training precludes training in low vision. The substance of this paper is a response to these assumptions.

A second reason advanced in opposition to sleep shade training is that since sleep shades commonly represent a client's greatest fear, viz. total blindness, the stress that sleep shade training induces in a client may be severe enough to cause that person to simply withdraw from the training program altogether. Our initial response to this kind of case is that the client's counselor has probably not been successful at fully explaining the rationale for the sleep shades and the benefits that the client can expect from training with them. Furthermore, the learning opportunities available through sleep shade training are an effective way for an individual to confront and overcome this stress by being disabused of the beliefs about vision loss which precipitate it. If all reasonable efforts at explanation and all opportunities at exploration prove unsuccessful, then the source of this resistance to sleep shades is likely too deep- seated to be resolved in a training program per se. Proceeding with training without the sleep shades will not promote effective skill training and will allow the client to manage this stress only through avoidance. But the stress and the personal issues behind it will still lurk just beneath the surface and will inevitably continue to impact on the individual's self-concept in the way of self-limiting beliefs.

This brings us to a third reason for not employing sleep shades. It's argued that by systematically training a client with limited vision with sleep shades the client is encouraged to accept "the life style of the totally blind." The client would thereby adopt a more restrictive life style than is necessary. Olson quotes from Samuel Genensky[2] in this regard: ". . . Partially sighted persons using their residual vision are able to do many things for themselves which are beyond the sensory capability of the functionally blind. . . for example, they are able to walk down even an unfamiliar street without bumping into trees, parking meters, fire hydrants, or parked cars."[3] Genensky also states that ". . . a resignation to 'blindness' implies the surrender of the valuable remaining powers of residual vision and the acceptance of a much more restricted life than is warranted."[4] An obvious assumption here is that the quality of one's style of life is at least partly a function of one's ability to approach the world visually. This view as with one of its consequences, that functionally blind people cannot do commonplace things such as ". . . walk down. . . an unfamiliar street without bumping into trees, parking meters, fire hydrants, or parked cars" is familiar to us all. But it's interesting to note that Genensky apparently is prepared to grant that having limited vision does impose a "restricted life" as well, albeit not as restricted as is the case with functional blindness.

With this we have the first move in establishing a hierarchy of vision. People with limited vision are presumed more capable and generally better off than the functionally blind because of the greater visual contact those with even limited vision have with the world. But the second move forces itself ineluctably. By the same reasoning we are forced to conclude that fully sighted people are more capable and generally better off than people with limited vision. The hierarchy of vision is established and maintained only by attaching a tremendous significance to the role of vision loss in human endeavor. We resist the hierarchy of vision at each move. We are no more prepared to agree that fully sighted people are ipso facto better able to function in the world competently and successfully than people with limited vision than we are to agree that people with limited vision are ipso facto better able to so function than those who are totally blind. Olson brings this out in the following:

"The blindfold enables the partially sighted client to experience success in the performance of many activities which are important to him--success which he cannot attribute to his ability to see. Through this experience he is compelled to recognize that there are other of his human capacities which bear more heavily than vision on his ability to get on in the world. He discovers that those capacities which are related to his worth as a human being--his ability to think and reason, his ability to learn and to master new skills, his ingenuity and creativity, his flexibility and adaptability--these remain intact."[5] (emphasis added)

Given this general assumption on the part of those who oppose sleep shade training, viz. that on the whole visual techniques are not just superior to non- visual ones but that visual techniques are the only way to do a great many important things, it's understandable that these individuals encourage people with limited vision to approach tasks visually whenever possible. But regardless of how much training and how many vision enhancement aids a client with limited vision receives, there will inevitably arise situations in which:

(1) a visual performance of a task is cumbersome, inefficient, and, at times, unsafe; or (2) simply impossible. For people with a great deal of remaining vision these recalcitrant situations may be relatively few and far between as well as relatively inconsequential. This subjective determination must be based upon what kinds of things one values the ability to do. In any case, it would not take long as we consider individuals with increasingly less amounts of remaining vision before we reached a point where an exclusively visual approach to the world is clearly and distinctly an imposition and restriction. It stands to reason that if one only knows how to approach the world visually the limits of remaining vision will define the limits of participation in the world. Training in non-visual techniques is typically introduced by these people only after it's determined that a visual performance of a task is not possible, and even then it's presented without enthusiasm-- considered as a desperate resort to something which is inherently inferior.

Olson provides another way of viewing the matter by developing a distinction between maximum use of remaining vision and optimum use of remaining vision. No one questions that exclusive training in low vision techniques can teach an individual to use remaining vision whenever it's possible to do so. However, maximum use of remaining vision is not a reasonable end in itself. The goal in rehabilitation ought to be optimum functioning, and this entails optimum use of all sensory data including remaining vision. Optimum use of remaining vision cashes out to the following:

(1) Tasks approached visually are done efficiently; (2) the individual has a firm foundation from which to objectively and from personal experience assess the relative effectiveness of this or that visually performed task; and (3) the individual is in a position to choose to not attempt a task visually if remaining vision is not sufficient to do so efficiently and, instead, to employ non-visual techniques with skill and efficiency.

Optimum use of remaining vision, considered as that which best promotes optimum functioning, may require a person with limited vision to use remaining vision extremely selectively. 'Maximum use of remaining vision' on the other hand turns out for many to mean exclusive use. The problem is that maximum use of remaining vision is not equivalent to optimum use and often is not compatible with optimum use. There are many circumstances in which it's possible to use vision (the job gets done) but at the expense of optimum efficiency. As visually approached tasks are found to be difficult to perform, the individual not trained in non- visual techniques predictably tends to withdraw from activities involving those tasks. For example, we know of people who avoid a full range of activities when there is low available lighting, such as independent travel at night, dining in dimly lit restaurants, attending concerts and plays, and so on. This tends not to be the case with individuals trained under sleep shades. The individual trained only in the use of low vision techniques, lacking the confident ability to approach the world non-visually, turns out on final analysis to be more prepared to accept a restricted life style than the individual trained in both kinds of techniques.

Having reviewed the agency's rationale as stated in Olson's paper, we now move on to a fuller account of what we mean by 'optimum use of remaining vision' and how this can be learned. While it's clear that there exists a natural inclination to use any remaining vision, it's equally clear from experience that the wise and skillful use of remaining vision does not always flow so naturally. This is not to say that low vision untrained is not useful. On the contrary, we know of many people who have used their remaining vision for a variety of tasks long before they ever considered rehabilitation training. The same can be said of self-taught non- visual functioning. The problem here is that this autodidactic approach can leave considerable gaps in both skills and understanding. Informal exploration and experimentation lacks the direction and the process to move most efficiently from a workable use of remaining vision to the use of low vision as a trained technique. As with any skill, the efficient use of remaining vision requires practice and purposive exploration and is learned best in an instructional setting. Without the development of the use of remaining vision as a skill (regardless of how successful the sleep shade training) early efforts at integrating the two types of technique can be attended with confusion and frustration and result in marginal utility.

Sleep shade training is highly structured and systematic, and as a result clients gather a good understanding of non-visual techniques. The numerous variables which affect any one person's remaining vision suggest that low vision training must be individualized. But this doesn't mean that it can't be approached systematically. Successful low vision training should assist clients in gathering an equally good understanding of their remaining vision. Only at this point in some cases will clients be able to make meaningful comparisons between the two types of technique and so be in a position to make an informed decision as to which technique promotes optimum efficiency in performing a given task. While the sleep shade training provides the foundation for these comparisons, low vision training can provide the personal knowledge to carry the comparisons through. Our goal with clients who have limited vision then is not just that they come to learn how to use their remaining vision skillfully but that they reach rational decisions about their remaining vision.

As clients acquire a deeper understanding of where and how their remaining vision factors usefully into their lives and, thereby, acquire a deeper understanding of where and how non- visual techniques so factor in, we can expect clients to realize three benefits. The obvious and immediate benefit will be the increased efficiency with which clients visually perform tasks for which their remaining vision is sufficient and the increased ease with which this ability is achieved. A related benefit should be the increased efficiency with which non-visual techniques are used. Having begun the process of deciding and generalizing when non-visual techniques work best, clients will begin to practice those techniques unambiguously and so avoid the approach to tasks as though a new decision had to be made each time. This can only facilitate the meaningful integration of the two types of technique not just with respect to one another but with respect to those "other human capacities" that Olson mentions. Since we're speaking so specifically about non-visual and low vision alternative techniques, it would be good to remind ourselves that regardless of the kind of technique taught, success is contingent on the student's capacity to learn, reason, adapt, and so on, and any skill training must build on these faculties.

Our training approach, described by Professor Allan Dodds as "structured discovery learning,"[6] is a vehicle through which clients systematically explore the environment as they build a model of the world which is useful in managing the world as it is revealed to them. The skillful use of remaining vision as an alternative technique is learned best through the same structured discovery approach. Consider a client's progress through sleep shade training.

Clients come to us with a familiar though imperfect visually dominated model of the world. While training under sleep shades they are placed in a foreign perceptual situation early on. The perceptual data impinging on them is typically described as confusing, if not overwhelming, and early efforts at approaching the world in this way tend to come with difficulty. Consistent use of the sleep shades immerses the client in this perceptual situation while skills relevant to working with the world as it thus occurs are learned and honed. Clients build a model of the world through a process of channeling, ordering, and interpreting the perceptual data available. This model of the world is built into a composite from auditory, tactile, olfactory and kinesthetic data which all converge in the awareness. But this stream of data comes with no inherent meaning. Structured discovery learning is an actively cognitive process as clients attach meaning to this data and develop relevant skills through exploration and reflection.

A good deal of perceptual data which comes to us is often irrelevant to the performance of a given task. Experience and understanding are required to filter out the irrelevant as one learns to identify and focus on the relevant. Clients are then able to discriminate and attend to just one sensory datum or on combinations of data as with the joint consideration of tactile, auditory, and kinesthetic information which is useful in, for example, cane traveling across a street. The feel of the ground surface beneath the feet, the shocks transmitted by the cane, the sense of the contour of the street surface, and the sounds of nearby vehicles combine to form a composite of relevant information while all other data is effectively ignored. The ability to identify and focus only on relevant data is as much a skill which is learned over time as is the exercise of technique.

This self-directed behavior is not strictly reducible to any set of objective rules; there's no simple formula which captures what's happening as the activity is carried out. The mere formulation of rules through objective analysis might describe in more or less detail the observed behavior without explaining how the behavior is learned or what the individual contributes as the behavior occurs. As example, there are non- cognitive formulations of what happens as one keeps balance while riding a bicycle.[7] But the physics and mathematics involved in these formulations are known as such to few cyclists indeed and in any case have nothing whatever to do with what the cyclist does to keep balanced on the bicycle. The cyclist directs his awareness toward other criteria. I suspect that few of us could advance a coherent objective formulation of the vast majority of activities in which we engage with skill even though we can discuss them, criticize them, practice so as to improve upon them, and teach them to others. This is true whether it be throwing a ball, measuring length of a board, cane traveling, or any other skill that you'd care to mention. This suggests that the things human beings do and the awareness that guides us as we practice a skill are a subject matter of a different kind than that which admits to objective analysis.

Seeing is yet another form of learned behavior; an acquired skill which admits to many levels of accomplishment. Consider the difference between a child's being aware of patches of different color and shape in its visual field (which occurs naturally) and learning how to manipulate objects (which comes after exploration and experimentation). Depth perception, scanning, distance approximation, and color discrimination are some of the discrete skills involved in what we, generally speaking, call "seeing" and also admit to levels of accomplishment. This continues into adulthood. The trained eye of a painter, craftsman, naturalist, or scientist can appreciate at a glance minute visual detail that comes with difficulty, if at all, for the rest of us. Although such visual astuteness is sometimes explained quasi-mystically as "a gift," it's more sensibly understood as an acquired skill which can be passed on from teacher to student.

It's important for people who are fully sighted to learn the limitations which attend their degree of skill. Few of us would presume to correct a Picasso on a point of proportion any more than we would correct a Mozart on a question of tone. Finally, we must appreciate the fact that the usefulness of vision has strict bounds regardless of skill levels. Vision is most useful in detecting objects which are middle-sized and middle-distanced.

Scientists must devise and employ alternative techniques to determine the presence of things such as a distant galaxy or a positively charged sub-atomic particle. In spite of its limitations vision finds its useful role as it's integrated with other sensory data and those "other human capacities." When we say that a task was performed visually, we aren't being strictly precise. Vision is a tool which is never used in isolation apart from all other faculties. An individual with less than complete vision is to that extent without the full use of one of the faculties that most human beings employ in managing the world; nothing less and nothing more.

There is no reason in principle or in practice to place the development of the skillful use of residual vision in any special category of understanding separate and distinct from the acquisition of other skills. As in the performance of other skillful activity, the use of remaining vision can be objectively formulated in various ways. But again, as in other skillful activity, these formulations fail by leaving out that which is contributed by the individual and which in reality distinguishes a mere series of movements in a process from what can meaningfully be treated as skillful human action. Because of this, efforts at understanding low vision must focus not on this or that detached scientific investigation but on the application of human faculties to solve a problem.

There is a marked tendency for people with limited vision to conflate "being able to see something" and in fact having usable, efficient remaining vision for the pursuit of a given task. As with other sensory data, visual data comes with no inherent meaning. Structured discovery learning vis-a-vis low vision training is a process through which clients come to cognize the environment using all the faculties which they employed during sleep shade training plus their remaining vision as they order and attach meaning to their vision. The way low vision clients come to cognize the environment will in part be a function of their degree of remaining vision, changing conditions in the environment and changing conditions within their physical state. As the environment is explored, clients can begin to determine for themselves the parameters of their efficient vision by pursuing a variety of tasks in which they have acquired a degree of expertise non-visually. We can expect cases where the non-visual approach prevails by comparison, cases where the visual approach prevails and, most importantly, cases where a clear preference is difficult to decide.

An example of this kind of case might be encountered during cane travel. On a cloudy day or when the internal state of a client renders remaining vision less useful, the most efficient street crossing may call for predominantly non- visual techniques. By the same token, a particularly noisy and confusing intersection on a windy day may detract enough from the quality of auditory data to render available visual information more reliable and so more useful for the occasion. This is one way in which the two types of technique can be integrated. Throughout this process of determining comparative efficiency clients can come to learn when and how to effectively ignore visual data if other data is more reliable for a given task or, conversely, when and how to effectively ignore certain non-visual data in favor of visual information.

But there is a deeper sense of 'integration.' In this sense visual data is assimilated into the store of other available sensory information and used interdependently just as modes of non-visual information are used interdependently during sleep shade training. The relationship of all modes of sensory data then is that of mutual supplementation. So in addition to tactile, auditory, and kinesthetic data, a composite of all data relevant to crossing a street might include various visually recognized landmarks such as the walk light, the walk lane, the curb and sidewalk on the other side, grass lines, vehicles, and so on, depending upon the client and other prevailing conditions.

Both of the above senses of 'integration' can be subsumed under a practical definition of blindness which was advanced by Kenneth Jernigan:

"One is blind to the extent that he must devise alternative techniques to do efficiently those things which he would do with sight if he had normal vision. An individual may properly be said to be 'blind' or a 'blind person' when he has to devise so many alternative techniques--that is, if he is to function efficiently--that his pattern of daily living is substantially altered."[8]

This definition leaves open the possibility that an individual can be blind and still have a degree of functional vision. Where vision fails, non-visual techniques are used in order to promote optimum functioning. An individual with a great deal of remaining vision may find that non-visual techniques are couched in the context of a predominantly visual approach to the world. But the situation is just reversed for the vast majority of people who seek rehabilitation training. In this case optimum functioning calls for visual techniques to be couched in the context of a predominantly non-visual approach to the world.

Consider how this cashes out functionally. An individual traveling to a shopping mall would use non-visual techniques such as cognitive mapping, cane technique, auditory orientation, and so on primarily but would periodically detect useful pieces of visual information as well. In the context of this predominantly non-visual approach, the visually recognized red 'S' in front of a building which is also perceived visually is indeed useful information. Along with relevant non-visual data and an understanding of that particular shopping mall, this visual information might confirm that Sears is just ahead. However, this visual information would be virtually useless if considered in isolation. As the individual approaches the store, automobiles in the parking lot might be seen clearly enough, but non-visual techniques might be required to negotiate between and around them. The sun or lights reflecting off the glass door might indicate the entrance while cane technique is required in order to locate the door handle. Once inside, this individual might visually detect people ascending on an escalator but use the cane to determine precisely where to stand. The sound of televisions on the second floor coupled with the glare detected from the screens and chrome components might suffice to identify the home entertainment section of the store. Given an existing knowledge of the layout of the store, the smell of baked goods indicating the bakery might be enough for the traveler to deduce that the home appliance center is further north. In the context of all this, the sight of what appears to be a refrigerator might alert the traveler that he or she is approaching the store's north exit which, in this case, might be more easily identified by attending to the common sounds of people entering and leaving a public place. Examples such as these, which can be generated indefinitely, capture what we understand as 'optimum use of remaining vision' as it's directed toward optimum functioning in the world.

The greatest variations in usable vision which are found among people with limited vision dictate that we not attempt to prescribe a detailed regimen for each client according to some profile generated out of that person's measured acuity, field, et cetera. Such a regimen would either be too general for use in functional comparisons or, if specific, would be cumbersome and in the end would simply outline what the client can discover on his or her own. In any event, there is a compelling reason for not simply prescribing to a client when and how to use remaining vision. While this prescriptive approach might be more efficient in teaching specific uses of vision (if it even makes sense to speak of "teaching" someone to use vision), it ultimately by-passes the entire point behind structured discovery learning.

Just as we don't presume to teach every non-visual technique that a person may have occasion to use, we cannot presume to structure for clients opportunities to learn every efficient application of their remaining vision. We teach enough non-visual techniques for clients to acquire a suitable foundation from which they can generalize to new cases on their own. So our intent is not so much to teach discrete techniques alone but to teach a method for developing techniques and related skills. Indeed, we realize that there is use for discrete non-visual techniques which are yet to be devised. It is our belief that this method, once firmly understood, will sustain our clients' independent management of the world as they encounter new situations. It's the teaching of a method for developing and practicing skills as opposed to the mere teaching of skills which at root distinguishes what we understand as 'structured discovery learning.'

Similarly, we aren't interested only in providing clients with limited vision with structured opportunities to learn specific uses of their remaining vision but in assisting them in learning a method for incorporating that remaining vision with all their other resources as they put their resources to optimum use. It's in the context of a well-confirmed method that the intelligence and experience are most productively directed as problems are encountered and overcome. Again, it is our belief that this method will suffice for clients to continue the process of integrating their remaining vision independently as they pursue the life plans that they've set for themselves.


1. Olson, C.W.; "On the Use of the Blindfold"; Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness; September 1982; Vol. 76 No. 7; pp. 281-285.

2. Genensky, S.M., S.H. Berry, T.H. Bikson, and T.K. Bikson; Visual Environmental Adaptation Problems of the Partially Sighted: Final Report; Santa Monica Hospital Medical Center, Center for the Partially Sighted; CPS- 100-HEW; January 1979.

3. Genensky, p. 162.

4. Genensky, p. vii.

5. Olson, p. 285.

6. The term 'structured discovery learning' as it occurs in this regard is carefully chosen and denotes an entire educational strategy. Professor Allan G. Dodds, research psychologist at the Blind Mobility Research Unit at the University of Nottingham, Nottingham, England, develops the meaning of this in a report to the Royal National Institute for the Blind entitled "A Visit to Nebraska Services for the Visually Impaired"; B.M.R.U. Report No. 138; December 1984. Dodds develops what amounts to the same thing in a two-part article entitled "Mobility: Blind Instructors?" in the May and July, 1985, publications of The New Beacon.

7. This example is borrowed from Michael Polanyi; Personal Knowledge; Harper and Row; New York; 1964; pp. 49-50.

8. Jernigan, Kenneth; "A Definition of Blindness"; The Braille Monitor; July, 1983; p. 234.



by Marc Maurer

Recently I received a letter from Judy Sanders, President of our Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, Metro Chapter. Judy described efforts of members of the National Federation of the Blind in Minnesota to participate in a blood plasma project. The blind were denied this opportunity for the usual tired old reason that has come to bedevil the lives of blind people throughout the nation--safety. As usual, the safety argument makes no sense. Again, as usual, this fact doesn't seem to matter.

The administrators of this blood plasma program, Plasma Alliance, simply mouth the word "safety" and expect the blind to obey, as if their excuse should magically end the matter. But the members of our Federation chapter aren't having any. This phony argument is all too familiar. As this article is being written, we are in the negotiating stage. Let us hope that the confrontation stage does not become necessary. But make no mistake, the blind will participate. Here is what Judy Sanders wrote:


National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota, Metro Chapter
Minneapolis, Minnesota
March 17, 1987

Mr. Tyrone Foster, Manager
Plasma Alliance
Knoxville, Tennessee

Dear Mr. Foster:

In November, 1986, Deborah Cornils and her brother Guy went to the St. Paul branch of Plasma Alliance to donate blood plasma. They were two adults who happened to be blind.

Yet, these two perfectly healthy, perfectly normal adults were turned away. They were informed that in the interest of "safety" it would be necessary for them to identify their signatures on the blood bags that would be returned to them. Obviously, because of their blindness, they would not be able to "read" their signatures. When they suggested that they could use Braille labels to identify their bags, they were told that Braille could not be used; it was not permitted by a Federal Food and Drug Administration regulation.

Determined to do something about this blatant discrimination against the blind, Deborah and Guy reported the problem to me and other members of the National Federation of the Blind.

I was able to secure a copy of the regulations pertaining to blood plasma facilities from the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Mr. Foster, I read those regulations thoroughly; and try as I might, I could not find a single provision which would substantiate the claim made to Deborah and Guy Cornils by the people at your St. Paul facility. There is no language that requires identification of the blood bag to be "visual." More to the point, nothing in the regulation prohibits the use of Braille as the means of identifying a blood bag. The only requirement is that blood plasma centers develop procedures to ensure the safety of plasma donors.

On February 14, 1987, Deborah Cornils, Curtis Chong and Tim Aune went to your St. Paul facility, thoroughly prepared with Braille writing and labeling equipment and armed with the knowledge that the denial of their rights was not supported, either implicitly or explicitly, by federal regulation. Again, your people practiced what can only be termed flagrant discrimination against the blind. Mr. Chong, Mr. Aune, and Ms. Cornils explained that they were as interested as Plasma Alliance in maintaining their safety--even more, perhaps, inasmuch as their lives were personally involved. They also explained that they were perfectly willing to provide their own Brailling and labeling equipment. Your people brought out your written procedures and repeatedly emphasized that in addition to one's own signature, a series of other identifying numbers had to be "read." In fact, the word "read" was used with emphasis; and it was clearly implied that the blind could not "read."

Your people were assured that the blind did indeed read, albeit with Braille. It was pointed out that nowhere in your procedures was it required that any identification be "visual." Your people conceded the point but stoically maintained that they did not have the power to change current practice. It was suggested that the matter be taken up with higher officials within the company, particularly with the manager of St. Paul Plasma Alliance and even with personnel in your home office.

Clearly, the blind were not going to be permitted to donate their plasma that day. Therefore, Mr. Chong, Mr. Aune and Ms. Cornils left your St. Paul facility.

Curtis Chong contacted the manager of St. Paul Plasma Alliance, Mr. Galen Merrill, by telephone. Mr. Merrill said that he had to communicate with someone from your home office in Knoxville. He indicated that he did not have the authority to alter the current practice which excluded blind people as plasma donors. Mr. Chong explained to Mr. Merrill that blind people were perfectly capable of using Braille as the means for identifying blood bags and suggested that Mr. Merrill pass this information along to his superiors in Knoxville.

On March 2, Dr. Fred Jenkins, your medical director, contacted Mr. Chong by telephone. Mr. Chong learned that Mr. Merrill had hardly passed along any information to Dr. Jenkins. In fact, Dr. Jenkins had never been informed about the ability of the blind to use Braille even though this information had been communicated repeatedly to numerous people at Plasma Alliance--including Mr. Merrill.

By this time, it was quite clear that the proverbial "buck" was being passed: from intake personnel at the St. Paul Plasma Alliance facility, to Mr. Merrill, and now on to Dr. Jenkins. True to form, Dr. Jenkins decided that he was not capable of dealing with the matter either and said that he had to confer with his superior--namely, you. However, Dr. Jenkins told Mr. Chong that you would not be able to consider the matter for two weeks.

It seems to me, Mr. Foster, that the solution to this problem is rather straightforward--assuming, of course, that you are willing to view the matter with an open mind. If a blind person wishes to donate blood plasma at one of your facilities, it should be taken for granted that Braille will be used as the means for identifying the blood bags-- particularly if the blind person does not read print. A slate and stylus (a blind person's pencil) can be used by the blind person to write any required names and numbers onto a piece of adhesive tape which can then be placed on the blood bags. The blind person can then read the Braille information back to the technician when the blood bags are returned.

This matter is important enough to warrant your personal attention, and I hope that you will see fit to handle it yourself instead of passing it on to a so-called higher authority. As far as I am concerned, the proverbial "buck" stops with you. Hopefully, you will have the good sense and the common courtesy to handle this matter directly and expeditiously.

Although we as blind people feel that Plasma Alliance is engaging in the most blatant form of discrimination by not permitting us to donate our plasma, and although we believe that your company is violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act by excluding the blind as plasma donors, we have tried over these many months to settle the matter peacefully. Plasma Alliance, on the other hand, has not done much to help us. Although Mr. Merrill and Dr. Jenkins made polite noises in support of our efforts for equal treatment of the blind by your company, their actions to date (characterized by an unwillingness to accept any responsibility for the problem) leave one with the distinct impression that they would be much happier if the blind would simply give up and go away.

I am sure that you will want to settle this matter to everyone's satisfaction. If you wish to communicate with us by telephone, it would be best for you to contact Mr. Curtis Chong. His number during the day is (612) 372-2185.

Yours sincerely, Judy Sanders, President
Metro Chapter, National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota

cc: Mr. Galen A. Merrill, Manger
St. Paul Plasma Alliance

Dr. Fred Jenkins, Medical Director
Plasma Alliance

The Honorable Gerry Sikorski
U.S. House of Representatives

Jayne Khalifa, Acting Commissioner
Minnesota Department of Human Rights

Hugh C. Cannon
Associate Commissioner of Legislative Affairs
U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Marc Maurer, President
National Federation of the Blind


Houston, Texas
March 17, 1987

Dear Mr. Maurer:

I have just read your article in the March issue of the Monitor entitled "The Truth About Rehab's Money: The Budget Hoax." I am truly disappointed and disgusted with you. This whole article implies how "wonderful" the Reagan Administration is. I have got news for you: Ronald Reagan is no friend of the blind. The only people Reagan wants to help are the rich criminals and the big military hot-shots. He, or anyone in his administration, doesn't give a damn about the welfare of the blind. I resent your printing such an article in the Monitor. You are certainly misleading your blind readers. I suppose that you will be happy to wake up some morning to discover that we blind people no longer have any freedom or equal rights. That is precisely what is going to happen if Ronald Reagan gets his way.

Yours sincerely,


Baltimore, Maryland
April 10, 1987

Dear -----:

I have read your letter of March 17, 1987, which comments about the article which appeared in the March, 1987, Braille Monitor entitled "The Truth About Rehab's Money: The Budget Hoax," and I think that you misunderstand what was said. The article was not written to further a political point of view or to praise President Reagan. It was written to expose for all to see the basic truth that despite the loud protestations of a number of officials in rehabilitation agencies, the budget for rehabilitation has not been cut, but substantially increased. Year after year there have been reports of rehabilitation personnel saying that they can't provide services because the budget is cut. While it may be true that these rehabilitation professionals are unable to provide services, this is not because they have less money. The truth is they have more. There may be bankruptcy in rehabilitation, but the bankruptcy is more moral than financial.

If a person lies to you about a matter of significance in your life, it is important that you know about the lie and the liar. Whether you like what the Reagan administration has done or not, and whether I like what the Reagan administration has done, does not speak to the lie. Indeed, federal rehabilitation officials have the same information that was published in the March Monitor. If these federal officials failed to make it clear that the budget has not been cut, it may be reasonable to say that they bear some responsibility for the dissemination of this misinformation.

You have your political view, and I have mine. You have as much right to yours as I have to mine. When it comes to matters dealing with the blind my viewpoint is simple. I will work with those who will help us gain greater independence for the blind. I will do it whether the person is conservative or liberal and regardless of my feelings about that person's political viewpoint on other matters. This seems to me to be the best way for us to further the interests of all blind people.

To begin with, we must determine what has really happened. Only then can we meaningfully discuss whether it is good or bad. Whether the current rehabilitation system is good or not is a fair question that deserves serious discussion. But there is no serious debate regarding its funding. The figures tell the tale even when rehab officials don't. Funding is definitely up.

In your letter your comments were frank and to the point. I have tried to respond in the same way. Think about what I have said, review the article in the March Monitor, and see if you still want to call me to task.

Marc Maurer, President
National Federation of the Blind


Houston, Texas
March 29, 1987

Dear Dr. Jernigan:

I just want you to know that I am in complete disagreement with you regarding the Playboy lawsuit issue. Please do not get the wrong impression. I am no fan of the American Council of the Blind. But when they do something right, we should acknowledge it. You state that this lawsuit will cause controversy. Since when did the National Federation of the Blind shun controversy? We have certainly faced a lot of controversy. I hope that there isn't going to be a change in the philosophy of the NFB in this regard. But in this case, the one who brought about all this controversy is Congressman Chalmers P. Wylie. He is the guilty party in this matter for adding such a stupid amendment to the budget bill.

I do not believe in censorship of any kind. I am afraid that we could lose our freedom by giving in to the censors bit by bit.

No nation has ever lost its freedom in one sweep. It is done little by little. This goes for everybody, blind and sighted. If Congressman Wylie had had his way, he, or someone else, would have sponsored more and more censorship amendments. There is no stopping the process once the censors get their way.

Best wishes to you.

Yours sincerely, -----


Baltimore, Maryland
April 9, 1987

Dear -----:

I have your letter of March 29, 1987, concerning my article on Playboy; and before I deal with your point about censorship, I think something else needs clearing up. You tell me that I say that the Playboy lawsuit will cause controversy, and you then ask: "Since when did the National Federation of the Blind shun controversy?" The answer is that we always try to avoid controversy, always have, and I hope always will. We have repeatedly and publicly said that any time you engage in war, you take casualties (even if you win) and that if you can achieve your objectives without war, you should do it. Our philosophy has always been that we consistently try to avoid combat, that we only engage in war if we must, and that when we are compelled to fight we never quit until we are successful or have made it so painful for our opponent that his or her future willingness to fight with us is greatly diminished.

Having said this, let me now deal with your point about censorship. I do not like censorship, and I agree that the liberties of a nation are threatened by it. But the Playboy lawsuit did not curtail or eliminate censorship, nor did it ever have the opportunity to do so. Because a thing is called by a given name, that does not mean that it is necessarily what it is called. I may, for instance, be a liberal, but that does not mean that I must support every kook who claims he is a liberal or every project that goes by the name of liberal. In fact, a great many anti-liberal actions, causes, and beliefs cloak themselves in the name "liberal" to attempt to hide their nakedness. Unfortunately they sometimes get away with it. I would go even further and say that one of the identifying trademarks of dictatorial repression is its twisting of words to an opposite meaning. Consider as a prime example George Orwell's 1984: The minister of war was called the minister of peace. The authorities used the word love when they really meant hate. And so it goes.

With this in mind I suggest that you read again my Playboy article. It does not support the Reagan Administration or oppose it. It only says that the issues raised in the lawsuit were phony and that as a result of the lawsuit our library programs are likely to be more subject to censorship than they would have been if the lawsuit had not been filed. Moreover, the article contends that the real beneficiaries of the lawsuit were the people at Playboy, not the blind--that the blind were had. Read it again, and see if that is not what I said.

While I am writing to you, let me comment about your recent letter to Mr. Maurer concerning his article about the rehabilitation budget. It seems to me that you permit your dislike of the Reagan Administration to get in the way of objectivity. As I see it, there are serious problems with the rehabilitation system, and what administration is in power has relatively little to do with it. The liberals seem to argue (and it appears to me that you are agreeing with them) that rehabilitation is fine and that all you need is more money, not just for rehab but for every other program that claims to be a project for human service. According to this logic, all you need do is take any program that calls itself a human service and pump more money into it. Nothing more is needed. Regardless of how poor the philosophy, how lazy or inept the administrators or employees, or how lacking in substance the program, it makes no difference. Just give it more money, and everything will be fine. Presumably if we turned on the printing press and gave every individual and program in the nation a billion dollars, we would be in utopia. But as you well know, it doesn't work that way. Specifically, in the case in point rehabilitation is doing a bad job, and I think more money has probably caused it to do a worse job by rewarding it for its misconduct.

When President Carter was in office, rehab was bad--and it got more money. With President Reagan in office rehab has been equally bad (maybe worse)--and it continues to get even greater amounts of money. So it is not a matter of money, and it is not a matter of liberal or conservative. The purpose of the Maurer article was to point out (with facts and not just emotion) that we are not likely to improve the rehabilitation system until we stop falling into the trap of believing there is a quick fix, like hating the current president or electing a new one.

In your letter to Mr. Maurer you do not deny the budgetary facts but only seem to be saying that we should conceal them, which is truly censorship, indeed--the very thing you say you are against. The articles in the Monitor are intended to stimulate thought and disseminate facts. Your letters would seem to indicate that the Monitor is doing a fair job in accomplishing these purposes.

I appreciate your writing to me, and I urge that (keeping all I have said in mind) you read once again the Monitor articles in question.

Sincerely, Kenneth Jernigan
Executive Director
National Federation of the Blind


The Internal Revenue Service of the United States has been hiring blind people in taxpayer service work for at least a decade and a half. It all started when IRS (the nation's tax collector) worked out an arrangement with Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind (AEB). Perhaps the arrangement--that is, who approached whom--worked the other way around. In other words, for reasons of its own self-interest, AEB may have been the instigator of the plan. However it happened, AEB was designated as the training agency for blind people seeking IRS taxpayer service employment.

Some regarded the IRS-AEB arrangement as a positive step forward for the federal government--and for the blind. No doubt AEB felt particularly blessed and happy with its role. Rehabilitation counselors from many states were anxious to send their clients to Arkansas for taxpayer service training, hoping that an easy rehabilitation closure would result. Under the arrangement, training for each blind person seeking IRS employment is paid for at state rehabilitation agency expense. But in some states (depending on the severity of the rehabilitation agency's "means test") the client might also pay some or all of the cost for training at AEB. The costs are not cheap.

Over the years the IRS-AEB arrangement has resulted in several hundred jobs for blind people. But the price has often been heavy in terms of custodial and discriminatory treatment. Like so many other efforts that seem to be unquestionably positive on the surface, this one has had mixed blessings. There is first of all the custodial nature of AEB's treatment of blind people. On that point there is almost universal agreement. Few would deny that AEB's policies are simply not in tune with the capacities and needs of responsible blind adults.

But more than being simply custodial, the IRS-AEB arrangement has promoted outright discrimination against the blind. The discrimination occurs like this: Sighted people apply to IRS by taking a competitive examination for taxpayer service employment.

Applicants who score high enough are interviewed for initial employment in career conditional positions. There is no requirement for advance training at the applicant's (or some agency's) expense. Employment begins before training begins. That is the policy and practice of IRS. It also means that sighted people (even during training) are federal employees. Therefore, they are paid throughout their training. If the training is unsuccessful, their positions may be terminated.

In the case of the IRS-AEB arrangement, however, the blind are not offered employment before their training. In fact, there is no guarantee of employment by IRS even after training, and even if the training is successful. That itself is discrimination. But more to the point, blind trainees at AEB are not paid during their training. Unlike the sighted trainees at IRS, the blind are expected to work for free.

These issues have been raised now and again with IRS. Because of its decentralized nature some regions of IRS have actually moved away from an exclusive use of the IRS-AEB arrangement for hiring the blind. The Chicago region, for example, has hired and trained several blind employees under non-discriminatory conditions. Advancements beyond taxpayer service work are also offered more regularly to the blind in that region. At some IRS district offices training is offered to blind persons who can see enough to read print. Most offices still resist training Braille users, however.

It should be emphasized that exclusive use of the IRS-AEB arrangement is not an ironclad IRS policy. Different decisions may be expected from different district offices. Still there is the preference for the AEB training arrangement, and this is often stated as an IRS requirement.

A recent incident in the Baltimore district office of IRS brings all of this to focus. Mary Freeman is a totally blind woman who possesses all of the blindness-related requisite skills that anyone could hope to find. She also has a pleasing personality, good interviewing skills, and the ability to do research--all of which are essential for a good taxpayer service representative to have in dealing routinely with the public.

Last fall Mary took the IRS taxpayer service competitive examination (just as any sighted applicant would) and, unlike many sighted applicants, passed it with flying colors. Had Mary been sighted she would have been given a job offer immediately, but that did not happen. Mary was told that IRS could not train her in the Baltimore district office. She would need to work with vocational rehabilitation and go to Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind for training. After she was done at AEB (including four months of training in Little Rock, Arkansas), the IRS would consider offering her a job--but no guarantees.

Mary Freeman wasn't buying it. There was no reason why she could not be trained in Baltimore. Besides, she (not vocational rehabilitation) would have to pay for the AEB training. Mary's husband is employed, so their income is too high for Mary to receive help from the Maryland state agency. That is the effect of the means test.

On February 3, 1987, Mary Freeman filed an informal complaint of discrimination with the Baltimore district office of IRS. She did so after consulting with the National Federation of the Blind to learn about her rights. Negotiations with IRS then ensued involving the Federation as Mary's representative. The outcome was announced in a letter of February 27, 1987, and a subsequent informal adjustment between Mary Freeman and IRS dated and signed in the IRS director's conference room in Baltimore on March 5, 1987.

On March 9, 1987, Mary Freeman reported for work at the Baltimore district office. She is now a full- fledged taxpayer service representative. She went on board with help from the Federation and certainly no help from AEB. In fact, AEB was actually a deterrent. Largely because of the IRS-AEB arrangement, IRS personnel in the Baltimore district office simply felt that they would not be qualified to train Mary Freeman or any other totally blind person. But when the issue was presented to them in terms of a complaint of discrimination, they quickly changed their minds. The training personnel in Baltimore are excited about working with other blind employees in the future. As the district director for the Baltimore office remarked about the settlement: In all of his experience of fourteen years as a manager with IRS, no one had ever challenged the IRS-AEB arrangement in terms of its discrimination against the blind. Now that the issue has been raised, the problem will be corrected, at least for the Baltimore office.

Beyond the circumstances and details of the Mary Freeman case, a more fundamental issue is raised. If there ever was value in the IRS-AEB arrangement, is that value now at an end? In fact, is the IRS-AEB arrangement now a hindrance, retarding the opportunities of the blind for full employment with IRS and other departments of the federal government?

Relevant correspondence and the informal adjustment agreement in the Mary Freeman case are reprinted here to give Monitor readers the fullest possible background concerning the resolution of this issue. The Baltimore case will not necessarily solve the problem nationwide, although the national office of IRS in Washington, D.C., did become involved.

Hardi Jones, Director of Equal Employment Opportunity for IRS (in the national office), spoke at our 1985 convention in Louisville. He attended the convention banquet. Those experiences and his other contacts with the Federation have made Hardi Jones a believer. His assistance in settling the Mary Freeman case was invaluable. This is a good example of why we have responsible government officials attending our conventions. In this instance Mr. Jones came and listened. He learned, and he acted. Mary Freeman and all of the blind are the beneficiaries. This is why we have the National Federation of the Blind. One case and one victory at a time, we are changing what it means to be blind.


Baltimore, Maryland
November 17, 1986

Mr. Thomas Keyes, Chief
Taxpayer Service Division
Internal Revenue Service
Baltimore District Office

Dear Mr. Keyes:

I am writing concerning the agency's policy on hiring blind persons as taxpayer service representatives. I wish clarification of this policy because my experience demonstrates that there are different procedures for applicants using Braille and those having enough vision to use print with visual aids. I would like to outline for you the steps I have taken in applying for a position with IRS.

In August I applied with the Office of Personnel Management to take the required competitive examination for taxpayer service representative, but due to a delay in obtaining the Braille test I was not tested until October 16. Therefore, my name does not appear on the OPM certificate you are now using.

In September I sent to Kim Sasajima an SF-171 and the necessary verification from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. This application was referred to your Division, and on November 7 I was interviewed by Cathy Rice. Ms. Rice informed me that I would be required to complete the training program at Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind. Since I have concerns about this requirement, I contacted Ms. Sasajima later that day to discuss them with her.

On November 13 Ms. Sasajima told me that she had conferred with individuals in your Division regarding this matter. I was informed that accommodations are available for persons who can read large print to attend the regular training class given by the IRS, but that as a blind person, i.e., one who uses Braille, I would be required to complete the program in Arkansas. Upon completion of this program I would then be considered for a temporary position. Why must I, a Braille user, attend a four-month training program without pay in Arkansas while my partially sighted peers attend a four- or five-week class with pay at home?

If Ms. Sasajima's explanation to me correctly states IRS policy, such policy discriminates against Braille users. I have the same capabilities as a sighted or partially sighted person, and there is no reason why I should not be able to participate in a training class with them. If IRS is capable of providing accommodation for partially sighted persons during the training period, blind persons using Braille should have the same rights.

Please respond to this request for a written copy of IRS policy on hiring blind persons as taxpayer service representatives within the ten-day stipulation under the Freedom of Information Act. Thank you for your cooperation, and I await your reply.

Sincerely, Mary Freeman

cc: Kim Sasajima
Mary Ellen Reihing
Job Opportunities for the Blind

Sharon Maneki, President
National Federation of the Blind of Maryland

Debbie Koester
Department of Vocational Rehabilitation


Baltimore, Maryland January 19, 1987

Mr. Hardi L. Lones
Assistant to the Commissioner
Equal Employment Opportunity
Internal Revenue Service
Washington, D.C.

Dear Hardi:

This letter confirms our telephone conversation of Tuesday, January 13, 1987. I am enclosing a copy of a letter that Mary Freeman wrote to Mr. Thomas Keyes, Chief, Taxpayer Service Division, Internal Revenue Service, Baltimore District Office. Her letter describes in great detail what she was told about an application for employment. Training at Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind would be required.

I very much appreciate your looking into this matter. It is not clear to me that training at Arkansas Enterprises (in advance of an offer of employment) would be a legal requirement. Nonblind individuals are hired by the Service prior to receiving specific training for their positions. Once employed, they are trained by IRS. As a matter of equal treatment, the same procedure should certainly extend to Mary Freeman. Once she was employed, IRS would presumably have the prerogative of choosing the training program which would best meet the needs of a new employee.

In any event, I deeply appreciate your looking into this and helping in some way to resolve it. It goes without saying that we can pursue the full extent of the EEO procedures if you think that course of action is most advisable. Otherwise, we would like to achieve a quicker and more satisfactory resolution through informal means. Thanks for your help.

Cordially yours, James Gashel
Director of Governmental Affairs
National Federation of the Blind


Internal Revenue Service
Baltimore, Maryland
February 27, 1987

Ms. Mary L. Freeman
Baltimore, Maryland

Dear Ms. Freeman:

This is to confirm your selection to the position of Seasonal Taxpayer Service Representative, GS-962-4. The base salary for this position is $6.36 per hour. Your appointment will be Career Conditional.

Please report to the Fallon Federal Building, Room 814, 31 Hopkins Plaza, Baltimore, Maryland, on Monday, March 9, 1987, at 8:30 a.m.

Enclosed you will find various forms which must be completed in full and returned to our Personnel Branch when you report for duty. It is of particular importance that you get the Form 85, Data for Nonsensitive or Noncritical Sensitive Position, typed and returned by the above date.

Congratulations on your selection and welcome to the Baltimore District Office of the Internal Revenue Service.

Yours very truly, Steven R. Savold
Chief, Personnel Branch


Settlement Agreement Between
The Internal Revenue Service Baltimore District And Mary Freeman

Settlement Agreement, Discrimination Complaint of Mary Freeman
Case No.: (Informal)

It is hereby agreed by the undersigned representatives for the Internal Revenue Service, Baltimore District, and Mary Freeman that the following constitutes a full and complete settlement of the administrative informal complaint of discrimination filed by complainant on February 3, 1987.

1. The Agency will:

Effective Monday, March 9, 1987, employ Mary Freeman in the position of a WAE (when actually employed) Taxpayer Service Representative, Series 962, Grade GS-4/Step 1.

Place Ms. Freeman into a training status beginning March 9, 1987, for purposes of successfully completing TSR Phase 1 training.

Provide Ms. Freeman with all necessary training materials, which are identical to the materials provided to the sighted student, such as course book, workshop exercises, tests, and research materials. These materials will be provided in all forms available, including Braille, voice cassette, and/or Versa- Braille.

Give Ms. Freeman up to six weeks' training time to complete the four-week TSR Phase 12 training course.

Provide Ms. Freeman classroom instructors, on-the-job trainers, and any other resource person deemed necessary by the Agency.

Provide Ms. Freeman sufficient time to complete each of the four mandatory tests. Normally, a two-hour time restriction is placed on each test. The Agency recognizes that Ms. Freeman may require more than the allowed time of two hours to complete each test.

2. In consideration for the Agency's proposed remedial action(s) in Paragraph 1, complainant agrees:

A. To withdraw the above-referenced complaint with prejudice;

B. Not to institute any further legal and/or administrative appeals on the specific issues resolved by this agreement;

C. Recognizes that a mandatory retention criteria for employment rests on the complainant's ability to successfully complete two of the four tests given in Phase 1 TSR training.

D. That this agreement does not constitute an admission by the Agency of any violation of applicable civil rights laws or of any other federal or state statute or regulations.

Both parties understand that if the agency fails to carry out the terms, complainant will not be bound by this agreement and may reinstate her complaint, in writing, at the next stage of processing.

Teddy R. Kern, District Director 

Mary Freeman, Complainant

Michele C. Lewis, District EEO Officer


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by Marc Maurer

In 1973 Congress adopted Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. This Section says that any company, group, or individual that contracts with the federal government for more than $2,500.00 must promise the government not to discriminate on the basis of handicap. The concept is good, but the promise far exceeds the reality. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) within the Department of Labor was charged with the responsibility of enforcing the non-discrimination provisions of federal contracts.

If a blind person felt that there was discrimination occurring in a plant operated by a federal contractor, that person could file a complaint with the OFCCP. However, as the complaints were filed and the cases heard, it became clear that the OFCCP was (at least in many instances) simply accepting as fact whatever lame excuses were made by employers for their discriminatory actions.

The case of Lola Pace and Roger Smart is a dramatic illustration. These two blind people worked for Halmet Turbine Corporation in Texas. Because of reorganization their jobs in the darkroom were eliminated. Everyone else who worked in the darkroom was retrained and reassigned and was continued on the payroll. Lola Pace and Roger Smart were terminated. The reason given for this action was that Pace and Smart are blind and that there was no job in the whole factory that a blind person could do.

When a complaint was filed with the OFCCP, the answer came back quickly and definitely. Pace and Smart were told that there was no discrimination because many of the jobs at Halmet involve (if one can believe it) machines with moving parts. An investigator had come to the home of Lola Pace to inquire about her treatment at Halmet. The main thing this investigator wanted to know was how much she could see. In fact, the investigator did a test. Lola Pace was asked to go and read the thermostat on her wall.

In a number of other cases similar misunderstandings and unwillingness to consider the capabilities of blind people were exhibited by the OFCCP. Blind people attempted to raise the matter in the federal court. Soon the cases developed into a standard pattern of decisions, which said that the only complaint process was with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance. If the OFCCP would not help the blind complainant, there was no help to be had from any other quarter.

With this most unpromising picture as a background, Dick McBee contacted the National Federation of the Blind in 1984. He said that he had once worked for the Mack Truck Corporation, that Mack Trucks had dismissed him because of blindness, that he had complained to the OFCCP, that the OFCCP had negotiated a settlement with Mack Trucks, and that Mack Trucks was now violating that negotiated settlement. Mack Trucks had promised to pay certain amounts of back pay and a certain monthly amount for a number of years as a settlement instead of going through with the complaint process. Mr. McBee was to receive several hundred dollars a month for several years. Instead of paying what they had agreed, Mack Trucks had reduced the sum of the monthly payment by an amount equal to any Social Security benefits that McBee could receive. This reduction was not authorized by the settlement agreement. With help from the Federation, suit was brought in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Mack Trucks defended on the grounds that there is no private right of action in the federal court for a violation of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. In response the court said that although the defendant is right in saying that there is no private right of action for a violation of Section 503, nevertheless the case will not be dismissed. Dick McBee is not seeking to enforce Section 503. Instead, he is asking the court to enforce a contract. The enforcement of a contract is entirely within the power of the federal court, and the case will be permitted to go forward to trial.



CIVIL NO. S 85-1379

Marc Maurer and Steve Keller, Maurer Law Firm, P.A., Baltimore, Maryland and Paul J. Schwab and Jonathan A. Azrael, Azrael, Gann and Granz, Towson, Maryland, for plaintiff.

Richard T. Sampson and Stephen M. Silvestri, Semmes, Bowen and Semmes, Baltimore, Maryland, for defendant.

Smalkin, District Judge.

Memorandum and Order Filed March 26, 1987

This is a case filed under the diversity jurisdiction of this Court, in which the plaintiff alleges that a conciliation agreement executed pursuant to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. Section 793 (1987 Supp.), between his employer, Mack Trucks, Inc., and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has been breached. The plaintiff claims, apparently, as a third-party beneficiary of that conciliation agreement, in which he is, inter alia, referred to as a beneficiary (Part I.6), and under which Mack Trucks agreed to reimburse or pay him specific amounts in back pay and front pay, and to provide educational and fringe benefits. Plaintiff alleges that Mack has not performed its undertakings as agreed.

The defendant has moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b) (6), arguing that, because there is no private right of action under Section 503, there can be no diversity-based action in a federal court to enforce a Section 503 conciliation agreement on a third-party beneficiary basis. As best the Court can understand defendant's theory, it is that, despite the apparently undoubted diverse citizenship of the parties, the claim is essentially a federal-rights based claim, under 28 U.S.C. Section 1331. If so, then, the fact that Section 503 pre-empts state-created third party beneficiary rights, see Howard v. Uniroyal, Inc., 719 F.2nd 1552 (11th Cir. 1983), pre-empts federal common-law third party beneficiary rights, see D'Amato v. Wisconsin Gas Co., 760 F.2nd 1474 7th Cir. 1985), and precludes an implied right of direct action, see Painter v. Horne Bros., Inc., 710 F.2nd 143 (4th Cir. 1983), means that there can be no claim for relief stated under federal law, and the complaint must therefore be dismissed.

The Court agrees almost completely with the defendant's arguments. The Court's disagreement, though small, is fatal to defendant's position on dismissal.

A close reading of the cases cited above, and those cited within them, holding that Section 503 pre-empts both federal and state common law claims based on a third party beneficiary theory discloses that, in all of them, the plaintiff was seeking to rely on such theory to create a contractual duty, running to him, on the part of his employer, not to discriminate. If recognized, such a duty could then be the subject of a cause of action, whether state-law or federally-based, for breach of contract. Howard and D'Amato both rejected, and quite correctly so, this approach to private enforcement of Section 503-mandated anti-discrimination provisions in federal contracts.

In this case, however, plaintiff seeks not to enforce the anti-discrimination clauses of the original federal contract with Mack, but to enforce the conciliation agreement. Thus, neither Howard nor D'Amato is apt. The concern of these cases with the strong policy reasons against interjecting common-law claims into the careful administrative compliance mechanism spun out under Section 503 is obviously of no further consequence after that mechanism has resulted in an undertaking by the employer, specific in terms, to the private benefit of a named, individual employee. See the discussion of Smith v. Evening News Ass'n., 371 U.S. 195 (1963), in D'Amato, 760 F.2d at 1480 n.5. This Court is of the opinion that no federal policies like those barring a third party's common law enforcement of Section 503 anti-discrimination clauses bars the present, remedial suit; its maintenance disturbs no delicate administrative process and is not in the least inconsistent with Section 503's overall scheme. In short, this is no more than a third-party beneficiary claim arising under state law, and, so long as there is diversity of citizenship, there is a claim stated within this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. Section 1332.

For the reasons stated, defendant's motion to dismiss is hereby denied.

Frederic N. Smalkin United States District Judge



by Patti Gregory

(This article appeared in the April, 1987, Insight, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota. An article about Patti Gregory entitled "Patti Will Ride" appeared in the May-June, 1986, Braille Monitor.)

Interviewing presents some unique twists, turns, and pitfalls for blind interviewees. I spent last summer working as a summer associate in a large law firm. This job was obtained as a result of one of approximately twenty-five on- campus interviews. Hopefully, my experiences and observations as a blind interviewee can help other blind students achieve similar success.

The interview system I experienced is typical. Students "sign up" with potential employers and leave their resumes. Thus, my resume proffered the sole introduction of me and my blindness. The process precluded interviewers from investigating candidates beyond reading their resumes. Since this process allowed me to control that knowledge an interviewer possessed regarding my blindness, I was forced to think long and hard about whether to indicate my blindness on my resume or not. Once I determined that my resume was the proper forum for introduction, I had to decide just how to address the topic.

Openness about blindness is essential in the entire interviewing process. The resume presents a good opportunity to introduce blindness in a positive way. I listed the National Federation of the Blind as an extracurricular activity on my resume and indicated that I hold offices in the NFB as well. This approach proved wise for several reasons: First, it provided a starting point for discussion about my blindness. Second, this technique avoided alienating potential employers who may feel "fooled" or "tricked" when a blind applicant waits until the face-to-face interview to divulge her or his blindness. Third, this approach set a healthy and positive tone for discussion early on, since it illustrated my attitudes toward blindness. Fourth and finally, by listing the NFB on my resume to indicate my blindness, I avoided overdramatization and put the issue in a proper perspective.

Determining how to address blindness during interviews was easy, since my resume acted as a stepping stone to the topic. My paramount goal, like that of my classmates, was to sell myself. The only difference was that my blindness interposed an extra step on the way to convincing employers to hire me. I needed to make my blindness and its effects on my work understood. I felt, and still feel, that if blindness was not addressed, employers would have hired a sighted candidate since they, like everyone else, seek familiarity. As the saying goes, I had to make myself a known quantity.

During interviews, I employed several different approaches for the introduction of the subject of blindness. None of them worked all the time, so I am outlining them here, along with their advantages and disadvantages:

1. Talking about the NFB usually worked well, but some people simply weren't interested. A few employers seemed to feel threatened by my activism. Maybe they feared a lawsuit.

2. Discussing adaptive techniques is a must for all interviews, but it can be limiting if utilized as an introduction to blindness generally. Some interviewers seemed confined to specific questions concerning the mechanics of how I perform specific tasks.

3. Waiting for interviewers to inquire about blindness is a dubious approach at best. Many interviewers failed to broach the issue entirely.

I suggest that you employ combinations of the approaches I have outlined to develop your own interviewing style. I feel compelled in summary, however, to reiterate my main point, i.e., that directness and openness are the order of the day.



(Editor's Comment: Recently I talked with Deane Blazie, former President and founder of Maryland Computer Services. Mr. Blazie has been involved in developing and producing technology for the blind for more than twenty years. In 1986 he formed Blazie Engineering, which is now bringing its first product (Braille Speak) to market. He says that he will be attending the NFB convention in Phoenix this summer and that he will be demonstrating Braille Speak at that time. Here, as Mr. Blazie provided it to me, is his description of Braille Talk.)

What is Braille Speak?

Braille Speak is a very small computer with a Braille keyboard.

It has enough memory inside to remember about 200 pages of Braille. It has a built-in speech synthesizer and is able to speak the Braille text stored in its memory. It also has a built-in clock/calendar and is able to speak the time and date. Braille Speak has two communications ports so you can hook it up to your personal computer or modem and use it as a computer terminal. It is battery-operated and never forgets what is in its memory, even if the battery dies or you turn it off. Braille Speak operates comfortably on a desk or in your lap. It goes where you go.

What Does Braille Speak Do?

Braille Speak is a computer and as such can be used in a variety of ways. It is excellent for taking notes, just like a Braille slate, only you read the notes by commanding Braille Speak to speak them. You can command it to search for notes, so you don't have to read everything you have already typed. You can make corrections to notes you have already typed. You can delete any part of the notes you have entered and can even command Braille Speak to print them onto a printer. Braille Speak will convert the Grade 2 Braille you enter into printable text. Write a letter in Grade 2 Braille and print it.

Braille Speak is more than just a slate and notes, though. It is much more organized. It has up to twenty file folders within its memory, and it lets you store whatever you want in these folders. One may be biology class notes. Another may contain a "things to do" list. A telephone directory in still another can be searched in seconds. Write a letter in another on your way home from work. The possibilities are limitless, and you haven't really begun to do all that Braille Speak can do.

Braille Speak is a perfect partner to your personal or business computer. It has two serial ports (two computer or printer connections).

Braille Speak is very small but very powerful. It is only about one-third the size of a sheet of stationery and less than one inch thick. But inside is a computer more versatile than most personal computers.

Specifications: 6Mhz 64180 Processor; two Serial Ports (one RS-232, one TTL); 196,000-character non volatile memory; 12/24-hour clock with calendar; ear phone jack tiny jack; battery charger; encased in durable Royalite; size: 8 by 4 by 3/4 inches; 7-key Braille keyboard; rechargable batteries; micro miniature surface-mount technology.

A battery charger and headset are included with every Braille Speak. Braille Speak comes with a one-year warranty. Fixed-cost repair available after the warranty period.

Braille Speak is: a talking Braille note taker, a speech synthesizer, a note organizer, a talking telephone directory, a talking computer terminal, a Braille-to-print transcriber, a talking calendar and clock, a word processor.

Braille Speak can be ordered from: Blazie Engineering, 2818 College View Drive, Churchville, Maryland 21028. Current U.S. list price is $895.00.



by Mary Beaven

(Mary Beaven is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky.)


1 small can chunk pineapple
1 small jar red maraschino cherries
1 small can sliced peaches
1 small can mandarin oranges
1 small package flaked or shredded coconut
1 small package slivered almonds
1/2 pint whipping cream, sweetened with 2 tablespoons sugar
1 small package Minute Rice

Drain all fruits, reserving syrup. Cook rice in syrup mixture until rice is tender. Drain rice and add to fruits which have been mixed. Stir in coconut, whipped cream, and sweetened sugar.

Fold whipped cream into fruit mixture. Top with slivered almonds.


2 cups crushed pretzels 1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 sticks margarine
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 cups Cool Whip, thawed
1 cup sugar
2 10-ounce packages frozen strawberries, thawed
2 cups pineapple juice
2 3-ounce packages strawberry Jell-O

Mix pretzels, sugar, and margarine together and press into nine- by thirteen-inch pan which has been sprayed with Pam. Mixture should only be on the bottom of pan. Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes and cool. Mix cream cheese, Cool Whip, and sugar and spread over pretzel layer. Dissolve Jell-O in pineapple juice which has been heated. Add strawberries and chill until slightly jelled. Spread over cream cheese mixture. Chill salad until serving.


4 eggs
1 box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup rum
small box instant vanilla pudding

1/4 cup water
1 stick butter
1/4 cup rum
1 cup granulated sugar

Mix cake ingredients and beat according to directions on box. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan which has been lined on bottom with 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty to thirty-five minutes. Combine sauce ingredients in small pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until mixture bubbles. Pour sauce onto hot cake while cake is still in the pan. Cover pan and let set several hours. Invert onto plate.


1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup corn syrup
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup Quick Oats
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked

Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in syrup and beaten eggs. Add oats and salt. Beat thoroughly and pour into pie shell. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees or until center is set.


1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2-1/2 cups fresh blueberries (1 pint)
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened, not melted

Combine sour cream, flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and salt. Beat five minutes on medium or until smooth. Fold in blueberries, which have been washed and drained. Pour into pie shell and bake twenty-five minutes at 400 degrees. Combine ingredients for topping with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of pie and bake ten minutes longer. Chill pie completely before serving.


1 package German chocolate cake mix
1/3 cup milk
1 14-ounce bag caramels
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts

Prepare cake mix according to directions. Pour half of the batter into a nine- by thirteen- by two-inch greased and floured pan. Bake for ten minutes at 350 degrees. Melt caramels in milk and spread evenly over cake. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts onto cake. Spread remaining batter and bake for twenty to thirty minutes longer in a 375 degree oven.


**Wins Recognition:

Virginia Reagan, a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri, won second place in an essay contest sponsored by the Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind. It appeared in the April, 1987, issue. Congratulations and best wishes!

**The Elbee Audio Players:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

"Interested in drama? Enjoy performing? Here's your chance! Calling men and women living in the New York City area. The Elbee Audio Players, an amateur troupe of blind and sighted repertory players, invites you to join. There is an active and exciting season of audio drama ahead. Now in its 25th season, Elbee performs live for the entire community. Like radio, their shows are meant to be heard instead of seen. Requirements: 1) No memorizing of lines. 2) No previous experience necessary. 3) Should be a competent Braille reader. 4) Should be able to travel independently to rehearsals. Performances: About 20 a season. Rehearsals: One evening a week. Interested: Call David Swerdlow (212) 874-5704.


In an article entitled "Braille Publisher Shows Way to a Wider World" (which appeared in the February 22, 1987, New York Times) Betty Niceley, President of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille, is quoted as saying:

"There is a reluctance of school systems to teach visually impaired students Braille. It's so much easier to give blind people material in recorded form."

The Times article features the National Braille Press and presents Braille in a positive light.


Charles Allen is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky. He was featured in the January 28, 1987, Buyers Guide, which is billed as "Central Kentucky's Newsweekly"). The front page article describes Mr. Allen's work as a vendor and talks about his philosophy of blindness.

**TSI Writes About Finances:

We have been asked to carry the following letter:

Mountain View, California
March 13, 1987

Dear Dr. Jernigan:

I would like to verify that the rumors you reported in the Braille Monitor regarding TSI's financial situation are totally false. The fact is that TSI is in a very strong financial position. TSI has no bank debt, a current ratio greater than 2, and an equity well over $2 million. Our growth has been high and we have recently expanded our building space by 30 percent. I believe TSI to be the financially strongest company in the field.

In the interest of communicating facts rather than rumor, please publish this letter in the next issue of the Braille Monitor.

James C. Bliss, Ph.D.
Telesensory Systems, Inc.

**Catherine Randall Announces Candidacy:

The following article appeared in the March 10, 1987, Jacksonville, Illinois, Journal Courier:

Cathy Randall promised a "straightforward and issues-oriented campaign" as she announced her Republican candidacy for Sixth Ward alderwoman Monday.

Mrs. Randall, 40, said she will view "the issues in a factual, straightforward manner" and "serve city government accordingly."

Mrs. Randall, a former school teacher and MacMurray College graduate, said, "I am honored at the encouragement of my friends and neighbors in seeking this office. And I pledge my fullest efforts to be an effective candidate and alderwoman."

Mrs. Randall, whose husband Bob is co-owner of Jacksonville Landscape Nursery, is President of the Jacksonville Theatre Guild, a member of the Jacksonville Symphony Chorale, and a past member of the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women. She is President of the Ferris Wheel Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind and First Vice President of the NFB's state organization.


We recently received the following announcement from the members of the Memphis Chapter:

"The Memphis Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee held its 1987 election on Saturday, January 17. Results: President, Mike Human; First Vice President, Willie Mae Northington; Second Vice President, Geraldine Jackson; Secretary, Mattie G. Seay; and Treasurer, Rosa Young. We the members congratulate this group of fine leaders and vow to support and work for and with them in educating the community."

**Focused Power:

Writing in the Voice of the Diabetic, the newsletter of the Diabetic Division of the National Federation of the Blind, President Maurer said:

"I receive letters almost daily complimenting us on the work we do in our Diabetic Division.

"The National Federation of the Blind is unique. It cares what happens to the blind, it believes that blind people can make a difference, and it plans specific action to make the difference come true. The work of the Diabetic Division and the newsletter we publish through this division demonstrate exactly how this works. Who knows more about the problems faced by blind diabetics than blind people with diabetes? Of course, the answer is that no one does.

"Recently I met a woman in New York who told me that her life had been changed because of our work in the Diabetic Division. She was ready to give up, but with our advice and assistance she changed her mind, rediscovered her own self-worth, and is now happily back at work. And this is only one example.

"There is power in collective action and focused activity. The Diabetic Division newsletter is but one year old. Already it has reached out and touched the lives of many blind people."

**Pizza Project:

Under date of March 6, 1987, Carol Wedrick writes:

Dear President Maurer:

This is a follow-up letter to let you know that our fundraising project with Round Table Pizza was a total success. We raised $2,207 during the period of 12-4-86 to 2-28-87. We are using part of this money to help everyone in the Clark County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington attend our national convention in Phoenix. We encourage other NFB chapters to use this means of fundraising, for it helps spread the word about the Federation.

Sincerely, Carol Wedrick
Clark County Chapter
NFB of Washington

**Dualenz Glasses:

Max Parker, long-time Federationist from Georgia, asks us to announce the availability of a newly designed set of Dualenz eyeglasses. Dualenz Low Vision Eyewear is designed to restore sight to people suffering from central retina damage caused by macular degeneration, optic nerve damage, histoplasmosis, degenerative cataracts, or other visual impairments. For more information contact Max Parker at Global Eye Care, Inc., 2125 Buffalo Road, Rochester, New York 14624; (800) 832-7700.


Bill McCaslin, husband of Cheryl Finley-McCaslin, died of congestive heart failure Friday, March 6, 1987. The McCaslins were active members of the NFB of Texas and the Dallas Chapter. Cheryl McCaslin is known to Federationists for her work with the Cultural Exchange and International Program Committee. She is a librarian and is currently employed as a teacher for the Dallas Independent School District. Cheryl Finley-McCaslin has served as a strong and dedicated Federationist for many years. Our hearts go out to her.

**Fishburne Braille:

Under date of March 25, 1987, Karen Mayry, President of the Diabetic Division of the National Federation of the Blind, writes to Fishburne Enterprises of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, as follows:

"Recently I became acquainted with the Fishburne Braille System. It seems to be an option for diabetics, especially, who have lost sensitivity in their fingers. Thus, I ask that you consider writing an article for our publication Voice of the Diabetic, which currently has a circulation of 8,000....

"Many, many diabetics who are members of the National Federation of the Blind Diabetic Division do not read Braille and may find your method useful...."


Scott Thomas, Secretary-Treasurer of the Cheyenne Chapter, National Federation of the Blind of Wyoming, writes:

On February 4, 1987, the following people were elected to office in the Chapter: Nancy Coffman, President; Allan Nichols, Vice President; Scott A. Thomas, Secretary-Treasurer; Ida Hernandez, Board Member; and Russell R. Wooten, Board Member.

**How About You:

Byron Sykes, one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina, sends the following:

The Difference

A winner says, "Let's find out." A loser says, "Nobody knows."
When a winner makes a mistake, he says, "I was wrong."
When a loser makes a mistake, he says, "It wasn't my fault."
A winner works harder than a loser and has more time.
A loser is always "too busy" to do what is necessary.
A winner goes through a problem.
A loser goes around it, and never gets past it.
A winner makes commitments. A loser makes promises
A winner says, "I'm good, but not as good as I ought to be."
A loser says, "I'm not as bad as a lot of other people."
A winner listens.
A loser just waits until it's his turn to talk.
A winner respects those who are superior to him and tries to learn something from them.
A loser resents those who are superior to him and tries to find chinks in their armor.
A winner explains.
A loser explains away.
A winner feels responsible for more than his job.
A loser says, "I only work here." A winner says, "There ought to be a better way to do it."
A loser says, "That's the way it's always been done here."
A winner paces himself.
A loser has only two speeds--hysterical and lethargic.

**Grandpa Gordon:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Many people around the Northwest have asked about (Grandpa) Gordon Bennett, the blind mechanic that used to live in Thorpe, Washington. Gordon would like to have this information conveyed to his many friends. Now at age 84, after open heart surgery in 1978, two broken hips, and losing his wife, Gordon now resides in the Royal Vista Care Center at Ellensburg, Washington, but is still very active. He is looking forward to his total hip replacement surgery in Yakima on March 31 and walking well again.

Gordon still plays a fiddle with the Kittitas Valley Fiddlers group every week at one of the county's three nursing homes and is again active in the recently organized blind group in Ellensburg.

Although the only completely blind person in the nursing home, Gordon jokes a lot and really gets a kick out of things that happen there: his room partner coming down the hall with his pants at his ankles, two senior citizens fighting in hand-to-hand combat for the right to use the bathroom, one lady going around at night with her jar gathering up everyone's false teeth and then trying to find who they belong to the next day, and then the fact that the nurses failed to write "Dr." in front of the doctor's name for Gordon's last heart check-up appointment, and everyone thought Gordon was seeing a "Preacher," actually the doctor's name. Besides enjoying his family and many visitors, Gordon has a phone and enjoys talking to all his many friends.

Gordon doesn't read Braille, so I really like the Braille Monitor--being able to read it to him. Anyone wishing to contact Gordon may do so by writing to me (Jeanne Gordon), Box 1163, Thorpe, Washington 98946.

Gordon Bennett's Daughter
Jeanne Gordon

**New Chapter:

Hazel Staley, President of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina, writes:

"On March 21, 1987, the Triangle Chapter of the National Federation of the blind was organized in Raleigh. Chapter officers are: President, Wayne Shevlin; Vice President, James Benton; Secretary, Sharon Benton; Treasurer, Linda Dean; and Board Member, Walter Allen. The President and Vice President of this chapter are members of the state board of directors, and several other members are knowledgeable about Federationism. There was a lot of enthusiasm and a general spirit of good will among the group at the organizational meeting. We believe that this chapter is going to be a great asset to our movement."

**Parents Meet:

On Saturday, February 28, 1987, the Northwest Parents of Blind Children, National Federation of the Blind, held its third annual seminar in Portland, Oregon. The Northwest Parents of Blind Children Chapter worked closely with the Oregon and Washington affiliates to put on what proved to be a very successful seminar.

Parents from throughout the Northwest attended.

Steve Rainey, the outgoing President, did an outstanding job of coordinating the event. There were activities planned for the children, including the riding of a horse.

Ruby Riles, a Federationist who teaches blind children in the Anchorage public schools, spoke eloquently about being a parent of a blind child, as well as being a teacher of blind children in a public school setting. Cathy Schneider, an orientation and mobility instructor for the Albuquerque public schools, made an excellent presentation concerning the outstanding Albuquerque program. The agenda also included items concerning the IEP process, the importance of Braille, and a comparison of the educational programs for the blind in the states of Oregon and Washington. There was also a panel of blind Federationists to discuss their experiences as blind children and adults.

The following persons were elected for one-year terms: President, Debbie Hamm of Roseburg, Oregon; First Vice President, Steve Rainey of Portland, Oregon; Second Vice President, Desiree Voegele of Battle Ground, Washington; Secretary, Denise Mackenstadt of Bothell, Washington; and Treasurer, Lissa Nash of Spokane, Washington.

Parents left recognizing that the Federation is the best hope for their children's future, and that through collective action, they are insuring that future.

**When You're Perfect in Every Way:

The Editor says: It seems to me there is a song which talks about humility. Sometimes we make mistakes, and when we do (assuming we know about them), we try to correct them. When we make two in the same issue, we try to correct two. In the April, 1987, issue we said in the "Monitor Miniatures" column that Ruth Goodwin is from Missouri. As most Federationists know, she isn't. She's from Massachusetts. Then, there was the caption on the picture dealing with Mrs. tenBroek's 75th birthday celebration. It read: "To celebrate the 75th birthday of Mrs. Hazel tenBroek the National Federation of the Blind of Washington planned and organized a gala dinner. Mrs. tenBroek is shown here holding an owl, which was presented to her during the ceremonies. From left to right she is standing with Sharon Gold, President of the National Federation of the Blind of California; Richard Edlund, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas and Treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon; Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind; and Gary Mackenstadt, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington." It should have read: "To celebrate the 75th birthday of Mrs. Hazel tenBroek the National Federation of the Blind of Washington planned and organized a gala dinner. Mrs. tenBroek is shown here holding an owl, which was presented to her during the ceremonies.

From left to right she is standing with Sharon Gold, President of the National Federation of the Blind of California; Richard Edlund, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas and Treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind; David Hyde, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon; Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind; and Gary Mackenstadt, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington."

**Items Available Without Cost to Nonprofit Organizations:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement, which may be of special interest to a number of state affiliates and local chapters:

"With nonprofit organizations suffering budget cutbacks and belt-tightening measures, membership in NAEIR is now more valuable than ever. NAEIR is the National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources, a ten-year-old gifts-in-kind association that provides useful supplies and equipment free to its 7,000 members across the United States.

"NAEIR solicits contributions of inventory from American industry then distributes it to schools and nonprofit agencies all over the country. If members take full advantage of the program, they can get a ten-to-one return on their investments.

"Members receive such things as office supplies, computer items, janitorial and maintenance supplies, plumbing and electrical fixtures, hand and power tools, furniture, piping and valves, vehicle parts, sporting goods, arts and crafts items, clothing, and books.

"Annual dues are $395, which entitles a member to request items from quarterly gift catalogs. The average member receives $4,500 worth of supplies and equipment a year--all of which is brand new. NAEIR does not accept used merchandise. Members pay only shipping and handling for the items they receive. The materials themselves are free.

"'Our latest NAEIR shipment contained items desperately needed by our new after-school Child Care Center,' said Robert C. Long, Executive Director of United Way of Sumter and Clarendon Counties, Sumter, North Carolina. 'Also included were construction and maintenance materials for use in our training facility for the Handicapped.

"'As government funds are being cut back and communities endeavor to pick up the slack, NAEIR will assume an ever greater role in our ability to provide needed human services.'

"NAEIR's new member guarantee means that there is absolutely no risk to new members: If, after the first year, the value of the material received as an NAEIR member was not worth at least twice the cost of the annual dues, NAEIR will either give a second year's membership at no cost or refund the dues.

"Membership is open to any nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization in the United States.

"For a complete, free information kit about NAEIR membership, write: NEAIR, Dept. NG-2, 560 McClure Street, P.O. Box 8076, Galesburg, Illinois 61402, or phone (309) 343-0704."*

**Writers Sell:

Nancy Scott, President of the Writers Division of the National Federation of the Blind, writes:

The NFB Writers Division has the following items for sale:

1. Highlights Tapes--a 90-minute cassette containing highlights from early issues of Slate and Style, which is the magazine of the Writers Division and is available for $2 per copy.

2. Writers Workshop--a seven 90-minute cassette series containing major presentations of the Division's Writers Workshop held in August, 1986. The set costs $12.50.

3. NLS Bibliography--a bibliography compiled by NLS containing books on various aspects of writing and publishing found in the Library's collection through the summer of 1986. The list is broadly based and contains book order numbers, titles and authors, and brief descriptions about each book. The thermoform Braille costs $5 and print is $1.50.

To order any of these items, or for further information about the Division, contact Nancy Scott, 1141 Washington Street, Easton, Pennsylvania 18042. Make all checks or money orders payable to NFB Writers Division.

**Request from Hungary:

We recently received the following request in the National Office:

"I like to ask you a big favour, if you please help me. I would be happy to open correspondence with somebody who is blind.

First of all Hungarians live in USA. In English is fine, too. Please publish my name and address in your magazine. Some words about my family. My wife and me, we belong to the Blind Peoples Club of Hungary. We have two girls. My wife working in the factory and I'm a telephone exchanger in a big firm, in Budapest.

We are interested in tourism, travels, music, and sport. We be happy to receive letter from somebody. If it is possible, please help me to start relationship. --Nandor Sirko, Budapest: Nagy Lajos Krt., 134. II/3. 1149."

**Science Fiction in the Family:

We have been asked to announce that Ed Meskys (RFD #1, Box 63, Center Harbor, New Hampshire 03226-9729) has been publishing an amateur print magazine about science fiction and fantasy for twenty- five years. It is available from him for $3 a sample copy or a four-issue subscription for $10. Ninety percent of the content is also available on an IBM formatted floppy disk for the same price. NIEKAS Publications also sells DRAGONSONG, a cassette that tells in music and narration the story of Anne McCaffrey's novels Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. Ed Meskys is not only an authority on science fiction but also an active and staunch Federationist, being one of the leaders of the NFB of New Hampshire.


As this issue goes to press, we have just learned that Dr. James Nyman, Director of the Nebraska State Services for the Visually Impaired, recently had abdominal surgery. He is now back at work and is apparently on the road to recovery.

**Birth Announcement:

John and Carol Smith of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, announce the birth of their daughter on March 30, 1987. Melody Joy Smith weighed six pounds, three ounces, and was nineteen inches long. John is President of the Berks County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania.

**Duran Dots:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

ACP, Inc., 145 Tremont Street, Suite 407, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, (617) 482-8248, has recently released a letter quality printer capable of Braille output. The Duran Dots printer sells for $1,695. It is a standard daisy wheel printer which can produce Braille by changing platens and removing the ribbon. The printer must be used with PC-Braille, a Braille translation program sold by the same company. This printer will not work with Braille paper. It uses the same paper for Braille production which is generally used in print printers.

It is not intended for producing permanent Braille copies.

**Recordings Available:

We have been asked to announce that Whorf Productions (25800 Northwestern Highway, P.O. Box 2165, Southfield, Michigan 48037; (313) 357-4800) has available for purchase tape recordings of educational materials. These recordings are made with voice and music and describe among other things "famous and infamous people and events."

**Paying for Equality:

Ruth Swenson, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona, recently wrote a letter to Bob Hockin, General Manager of the Phoenix Transit System. The policy of the bus company had been that the blind ride for free. Ruth Swenson pointed out that this is no way to treat blind bus riders and that blind people insist upon the rights to participate equally with the sighted on the bus or off.

Response to this letter is instructive. Because of the work of the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona, a new bus company policy was adopted. The blind have the right to ride and not be treated as charity cases. Here is the policy:

Bulletin #87-2-23-46

SUBJECT: Blind Passengers Requesting to Pay Their Fare

Effective immediately any blind patron who boards a Phoenix Transit bus wishing to pay their fare should be allowed to do so.

Please do not block the farebox prohibiting them to pay or creating an issue with the blind patron bringing attention to his/her handicap. The blind community has requested that we alert our operators of the uncomfortable situations they have been put in. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Safety Department


Karen Mayry writes:

"Persons needing wheelchair rentals during the 1987 national convention in Phoenix can obtain them from: Fogelson's, 100 W. Osborn Road, Phoenix, Arizona, Telephone (602) 274-3635. Fogelson's is two miles from the hotel. Rental is $10 a week for chair with standard foot rest and $15 per week for chair with elevated foot rest. Notify Angie at the above address in advance of arrival for reservations during the week of convention. The earlier she has notice, the better. They will deliver and pick up."

**National Church Conference:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Make plans to attend the National Church Conference of the Blind, July 26- 30, 1987, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the Hilton Inn. Special events include Bible studies, seminars, Christian concert artists, choir and talent time, youth emphasis, and fine fellowship. For additional information write: NCCB, P.O. Box 163, Denver, Colorado 80201, or call Frank Finkenbinder, (303) 455-3430.


Doug Trimble writes:

The following members were elected to office of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington, Clark County Chapter, at the December 20, 1986, meeting: President, Mike Freeman; Vice President, Carol Wedrick; Secretary, Doug Trimble; and Treasurer, Warren Scott.

**Parents at Convention:

Mary Wurtzel, who chairs the Committee on Parental Concerns, writes:

"Parents, it is once again time to make plans for our child care at convention. It is exciting to be a part of our new seminar impacting on family. We still need to know the number of children you plan to bring to convention and their ages. This is vital if you are bringing an infant needing a porta- crib. Please also plan to budget a donation for child care. We do not charge a set fee, but our expanding scope and quantity of service costs us money. Please contact Mary Wurtzel at 1918 Kingswood Drive, Lansing, Michigan 48912; (517) 485-0326."

**Mississippi Federation Leader Dies:

Albert Beasley, who was elected as the first President of the National Federation of the Blind of Mississippi when it was organized in 1972, died March 24, 1987. Albert and Louise Beasley were very well known in Mississippi, and their house was a gathering point for blind people from across the state. In 1958 Albert received the Employee of the Year Award, and in 1972 he was active in establishing the Federation in Mississippi. Albert Beasley helped bring many Federationists into the movement. He will be greatly missed.

**Union Newsletter on Tape:

Terry McManus, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania, reports that the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees is now making available its newsletter "The Public Employee" on tape for blind members. Marilyn Klein, a long-time member of the Philadelphia Chapter and a most hardworking Federationist, talked with the union and persuaded its leaders to make this material available to the blind. For information about this publication write: American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, 1625 "L" Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, Attention: Jordan Barab; or call (202) 452-4800.

**Idaho Convention:

Pat Barrett writes: The National Federation of the Blind of Idaho held its fifty-second annual convention April 10, 11, and 12 in Boise. We were honored to have our national President Marc Maurer with us. Dr. Norman Gardner was elected for a seventh term as our state president. Also elected to the NFB of Idaho board were: First Vice President, Ramona Walhof; Second Vice President, Whitney Johnson; Secretary, Mary Ellen Halverson; and Treasurer, Harry Gawith.


Richard Gaffney, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Rhode Island, writes:

"On Sunday, March 29, 1987, Richard Perreault, a long-time member of the Rhode Island affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, passed away. He was a very active member during our reorganization period in the early seventies. He served as our treasurer at that time, as well as helped to bring members to the meeting. He will surely be missed."