The Braille Monitor

Vol. 33, No. 6                                                                                                   June 1990

Barbara Pierce, Editor


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


THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT

National Office
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Baltimore, Maryland 21230
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Web Page Address: http//www.nfb.org


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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

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES

ISSN 0006-8829


Vol. 33, No. 6                                                                                          June 1990

 

CALIFORNIA STATE OFFICIALS BEGIN OVERDUE HOUSE CLEANING
IN THE BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM

by Barbara Pierce

THE BLIND DON'T NEED PAMPERING AT YALE
by Brian McCall

FROM THE MAIL BASKET: PERSPECTIVE ON ALABAMA INSTITUTE FOR DEAF AND BLIND

"HOSTAGE TO TAX POLITICS": ADVOCATE FOR BLIND SEES PRESSURE FROM ADMINISTRATION
by Dominic Slowey

COMMENTS ON RECORDING FOR THE BLIND

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, SIMPLE SIMON, AND THE THREE BLIND MICE:
MEMBERS OF A VANISHING BREED

by Barbara Pierce

REACTION TO A CARTOON

I MAY NOT BE A MOUNTAIN CLIMBER, BUT...
by Nancy Scott

THE VALUE OF DEBATE
by Stephen Benson

SOME THOUGHTS ON TECHNICAL SUPPORT
by Curtis Chong

WHAT WENT WRONG WITH DOING GOOD?
by C. Edwin Vaughan

I WAS A YOUNG MOTHER BEING STIFLED BY BLINDNESS
by Barbara Pierce

BLIND RAPE VICTIM BELIEVED

RECIPES

MONITOR MINIATURES

Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1990

 

CALIFORNIA STATE OFFICIALS BEGIN OVERDUE HOUSE CLEANINGIN THE BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM

by Barbara Pierce

In the January, 1990, issue of the Braille Monitor we published a story ( Sweeping Up the Krums ), which documented the rot pervading California's Business Enterprise Program (BEP). We reported that on September 1, 1989, the state police actually escorted four BEP officials, including Roger Herman Krum, chief of the Business Enterprise Program, off state property. All four men were subsequently placed on administrative leave (with pay) until the police investigation was completed. It is still going on, and one police official suggests that we may only have seen the tip of the iceberg.

Enough is now known, however, to force the California Department of Rehabilitation to act. On March 23, 1990, therefore, Hao Lam, Deputy Director of the Department of Rehabilitation in charge of the Business Enterprise Program, was transferred to the Health and Welfare Agency, and Notices of Adverse Action (four dismissals and one suspension for thirty days) were issued against BEP officials. The Tuesday, March 27 edition of The Sacramento Bee printed the following story on page 1 of Section B, summarizing the action:

State Lists Reasons in Firings: Dishonesty Alleged in Rehab Program
by Steve Gibson, Staff Writer

Five officials who administered the state Department of Rehabilitation's Business Enterprise Program were accused of dishonesty, negligence, inefficiency, and incompetency in documents made public Monday by the State Personnel Board. Four of the officials have been fired, and the fifth suspended for 30 days for alleged irregularities in operations of the Business Enterprise Program, which oversees and supplies the newsstands and snack bars operated by disabled people in state buildings. In addition, $1.5 million in state equipment is missing, the documents said.

The most serious charges were leveled against Roger Herman Krum, chief of the Business Enterprise Program. Krum also serves as paid director of the Sacramento Dixieland Jazz Jubilee. As a direct result of your failure to provide adequate supervision over the property survey process, $1.5 million worth of (state) equipment is unaccounted for and currently missing, said Krum's dismissal notice.

Reached at home Monday night, Krum declined comment. Each official's notice was signed by department Director P. Cecie Fontanoza.

Krum and his four subordinates in the Business Enterprise Program were placed on administrative leave September 1, 1989, in the wake of an audit that disclosed irregularities in an equipment inventory.

They were served with state notices of adverse action dismissal and suspension notices last Friday.

A California State Police official said Monday night that a criminal investigation into misappropriation of Business Enterprise Program equipment began last year, and it isn't over yet. Evidence in the case has been turned over to the Sacramento County district attorney's office for possible prosecution, and one law enforcement official said: This may be just the tip of the iceberg. Krum, who joined the Department of Rehabilitation in 1966, was also accused in his dismissal notice of, among other things, gross mismanagement and repeated and consistent manipulation of records to hide loss of property. Krum also was accused of conflict of interest because he hired as his secretary in the department Linda Layne, a member of the board of directors of the jazz society, which employed him full time starting in November, 1988.

After Krum became a full-time paid employee of the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society in 1988, he received numerous phone calls relating to (his) Jazz Society employment at the Department of Rehabilitation, according to his dismissal notice. Your secretary...also received numerous Jazz Society phone calls at the department, the dismissal notice said. By working full time for the Jazz Festival from November, 1988, until you were placed on administrative leave on September 1, 1989, you failed to devote your full time, attention, and efforts to your state job during your hours of duty as a state employee. Krum also was accused of failing to properly supervise Layne, who in turn, his dismissal notice says, failed to properly supervise and train nine Business Enterprise Program clerical workers in field offices. By failing to supervise the clericals adequately so as to insure that (program) invoices were processed promptly, the department frequently lost discounts allowed by vendors for prompt payment, Krum's dismissal notice said. In some cases invoices were not paid for several months.

Also dismissed was Joseph Edward Parilo, a business enterprise consultant who joined the Department of Rehabilitation 17-1/2 years ago. He declined comment Monday night.

Others dismissed were Anthony Budmark, a management services technician who joined the department 15-1/2 years ago, and James C. Flint, Krum's assistant administrator, who joined the department 16-1/2 years ago. Neither could be reached for comment Monday night.

Howard Edward Mackey, a business enterprise consultant who joined the department 25 years ago, was suspended for 30 days. According to Parilo's dismissal notice, in April auditors found more than $300,000 worth of equipment in his records missing. When the Business Enterprise Program was audited in July, 1989, your inventory records of Sacramento warehouse were completely incredible, Parilo's dismissal notice said.

The notice also said that when Parilo was placed on administrative leave in September, the Sacramento warehouse was in a shambles. Everything was extremely disorganized and dirty. There were piles of trash. There were cobwebs on the equipment. According to Budmark's dismissal notice, the state lost $1.5 million worth of equipment as a direct consequence of your actions. Furthermore, the notice said, you were dishonest in that you used (state) charge cards to pay your father's taxi company...for pickup and delivery of materials on a recurring basis, in order to avoid (state) contract requirements. Flint's dismissal notice accused him of, among other things, supervising warehouse inventories which turned out to be grossly deficient, with more than $1 million worth of equipment unaccounted for.

In addition, the notice accused Flint of being dishonest, incompetent, inefficient, and inexcusably neglectful...in that you violated department requirements by failing to report property which appeared to have been stolen. For example, Flint's dismissal notice said he failed to notify the proper state officials of the probable theft of a missing utility refrigerator that was discovered in the possession of a Ventura restaurant equipment dealer in December, 1988. Mackey's suspension notice said he failed to properly supervise warehouse and vending stand inventories. The notice said his inventory records were completely incredible and listed 240 items in one warehouse when, in fact, there were only 60 items, with about $250,000 worth of equipment missing. Flint and Parilo declined comment. Mackey and Budmark couldn't be reached.

That is what The Sacramento Bee had to say, and if anything, it was an understatement of the facts. The documents from which the reporter drew his story were damning beyond the capacity of the general public either to wade through or to comprehend. But the vendors of California live their professional lives at the beck and call of the Business Enterprise Program's officials, and they are the ones who have suffered financial losses and constant frustration because of the mismanagement that has now been exposed in terrifying detail.

On April 2, 1990, Sharon Gold, President of the National Federation of the Blind of California, wrote a letter to the vendors across the state, telling them what was happening and providing them with copies of all five Notices of Adverse Action.

Here is the text of her letter:

TO: Vendors in the California Business Enterprise Program

FROM: Sharon Gold, President, National Federation of the Blind of California

DATE: April 2, 1990

On March 26, 1990, the State Personnel Board released to the public 5 Notices of Adverse Action. Each notice was signed by P. Cecie Fontanoza, Director of the Department of Rehabilitation and was filed with the State Personnel Board and the Office of the California Attorney General. A Notice of Adverse Action was issued to each of the following: Roger Herman Krum, Chief of the Business Enterprise Program; James Carleton Flint, Assistant Administrator of BEP; Joseph Edward Parilo, Business Enterprise Consultant II; Anthony Budmark, Management Services Technician for the Business Enterprise Program; and Howard Edward Mackey, Business Enterprise Consultant II. References to each of the five Notices of Adverse Action were made in The Sacramento Bee articles which I distributed on cassette tape Tuesday, March 27. Messrs. Krum, Flint, Parilo, and Budmark each received notices of dismissal from their positions within the Business Enterprise Program, effective at the close of business on March 30, 1990. Mr. Mackey received a notice of a 30-day suspension from the Department of Rehabilitation, effective at the close of business on March 30, 1990.

In an effort to strengthen the laws of the state of California, Senator Mello is carrying Senate Bill 2759 under the sponsorship of the California Vendors' Policy Committee. The intent of this legislation is to place in the California statutes such checks and balances as may prevent the kind of abuse to the Business Enterprise Program that has taken place during the past year. More information on SB 2759 will be forthcoming.

____________________

That was the cover letter that accompanied printed and cassette versions of the five notices of Adverse Action. The recording required the better part of two tapes to complete, and the printed material was 107 pages in length. Each document began in the same way and included the professional history of the individual concerned, together with a list of the charges against him. Then, in outline form, the evidence supporting each charge was laid out in exhaustive detail. Because Roger Krum was BEP chief and, therefore, ultimately responsible for the actions of his four subordinates, we have undertaken to reprint a much-abbreviated summary of his notice of dismissal. Here it is:

State of California

Health and Welfare Agency

George Deukmejian, Governor

Department of Rehabilitation

Sacramento, California

NOTICE OF ADVERSE ACTION

Roger Herman Krum, Chief

Business Enterprise Program

I. YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that you are dismissed from your position as Chief, Business Enterprise Program, Sacramento, with the Department of Rehabilitation, effective at the close of business March 30, 1990.

II. This action is being taken against you for causes specified in the following subsections of Government Code Section 19572:

(b) Incompetency

Inefficiency

(d) Inexcusable neglect of duty

(e) Insubordination

(f) Dishonesty

(o) Willful disobedience

(q) Violation of this part or board rule 172

Violations of the prohibitions set forth in Section 19990.

III. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

A. The Business Enterprise Program (BEP) subsidizes blind persons in their operation of vending stands and food service facilities in government and private office buildings throughout the State. Blind persons are selected and trained to operate cafeterias and vending stands. The BEP uses federal and state funds, as well as significant amounts from fees paid by blind vendors into trust fund accounts, to secure and set up cafeterias and vending stand locations, to provide cafeteria and vending stand equipment, to assist in the selection of trained operators to run the facilities, and to provide ongoing support.

The State has a fiduciary responsibility to the Blind Vendors' Trust Fund, which pays for a portion of the equipment. Improper disposal and maintenance of equipment and records place the Department in a vulnerable position for failure to adequately administer the Trust Fund and expose the Department unnecessarily to criticism.

B. You started working for the Department of Rehabilitation on May 2, 1966, as a Vocational Rehabilitation Trainee. On June 8, 1976, you were promoted to Program Administrator II, Business Enterprise Program (BEP). On July 1, 1979, your position was reclassified as Chief, BEP.

According to the State Personnel Board specifications, the Chief, BEP plans, organizes, develops, and administers the statewide program of establishment and supervision of the operation of facilities and vending stands by the blind and visually impaired and participates in the formulation, development, implementation, and evaluation of Departmental policies as they relate to BEP. As Chief, you supervised the Assistant Administrator, Jim Flint, who was responsible for the inventory function. Jim Flint supervised Tony Budmark, who oversaw the statewide inventory process. As Chief, you directly supervised the Supervising Business Enterprise Consultants (SBECs), who were responsible for the vending stand equipment in their respective geographic areas.

IV. ACTS AND OMISSIONS

The causes of action listed in paragraph III above are based upon the following omissions:

A. During fiscal year 1988/89 you grossly mismanaged the inventory and equipment accountability function in BEP. You failed to adhere to Management, State and Departmental directives and policies on equipment accountability, and corrective memos from your supervisor, Hao Lam, Deputy Director, Program Management and Support Division.

B. During Fiscal Year 1988/89 you were incompetent, inefficient, and inexcusably neglected your duties in that you permitted the repeated and consistent manipulation of records to hide loss of property.

C. During Fiscal Year 1988/89 you were incompetent, inefficient, and inexcusably neglected your duty in that you failed to ensure that warehouse inventories were properly taken.

D. During Fiscal Year 1988/89 you were inefficient, incompetent, and inexcusably neglected your duties in that you allowed your staff to engage in such deficient tagging of equipment that significant amounts of equipment were never designated as equipment belonging to BEP.

E. During fiscal year 1988/89 you were inefficient, incompetent, and neglectful of duty in that you failed to ensure that the BEP Property Manager performed the inventory aspects of his job competently.

F. During fiscal year 1988/89 you were incompetent, inefficient, and neglectful of your duties in failing to insure that Tony Budmark, the Property Manager, was properly supervised in his non-inventory and non-survey duties, as well.

G. During fiscal year 1988/89 you were incompetent, inefficient, and inexcusably neglected your duty in that you failed to supervise Flint and Budmark properly so as to insure that controls over BEP's Central Office Imprest Cash Fund were adequate to safeguard the cash.

H. During fiscal year 1988/89 you were dishonest, incompetent, inefficient, and inexcusably neglectful of your duties in that you failed to report suspected theft of blind vendor property, specifically, an unsurveyed utility refrigerator that was discovered at a Ventura restaurant equipment dealer in December, 1988. As a result, action could not be taken by the proper control agencies.

I. On or about March 13, 1989, you were dishonest in that you permitted your Assistant Administrator to initiate Property Survey Reports for over $63,000 worth of equipment as stolen. He certified that he supervised the disposal of the equipment and had two clericals sign for the Property Survey Boards in violation of departmental requirements. You failed to notify the Accounting Section, the Audit Section, General Services, and the Department of Finance of the purported theft; nor did you file a proper police report.

J. During August, 1989, you were incompetent, inefficient, and inexcusably neglectful of your duties in that you failed to supervise the re-taking of an inventory to insure that it was accurate and properly carried out.

1. Prior to the issuance of the August, 1989, Audit Report, you were notified of its findings that BEP property was being grossly mismanaged. You were instructed that a special statewide re-inventory would be taken, that all BEP staff were expected to give it top priority, and that BEP would be held accountable for its accuracy.

2. In spite of your having been instructed on numerous occasions about the critical necessity of conducting an accurate inventory of BEP equipment and final reconciliation, the Department's October 30, 1989, Audit Report disclosed that the re-inventory taken by BEP staff under your leadership was not credible and was grossly inaccurate.

3. Although you were instructed that your re-inventory be reconciled with the property record and that all adjustments be made or all supporting documents be attached for pending adjustments, your re- inventory was so incompetent that a large number of serious inaccuracies and discrepancies remained. As of October 30, 1989, after you were placed on administrative leave, the number of known missing equipment items was discovered to have increased from 1,282 to 1,420, and the value of the missing equipment increased from $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

K. During Fiscal Year 1988/1989 you were incompetent, inefficient, and inexcusably neglected your duties in that you failed to provide adequate supervision over the statewide equipment survey process.

1. As early as 1987, you were aware of the importance of insuring that proper records are maintained regarding property that is disposed of. You knew that General Services approval was required before equipment could be released. You were aware that a signed receipt should be obtained from the non-profit recipient of surplus equipment, and that the record should contain a notation of how the scrapped equipment was disposed of. Throughout 1987 and 1988, you were repeatedly instructed that equipment would not be disposed of without prior clearance. You constantly assured management that you were complying. As Chief, BEP, you were responsible for insuring that the Property Survey requirements of the Inventory Procedures Manual were being complied with.

L. During Fiscal Year 1988/89 you were inefficient, incompetent, and inexcusably neglected your duty in that you failed to supervise the Property Manager adequately in order to maintain document accountability and to obtain the proper approvals for transfers of vending stand equipment to other State agencies, as required by the BEP Inventory Procedures Manual and Department and State policies and guidelines.

1. In the first ten months of Fiscal Year 1988/89 $300,000 worth of equipment, out of a total surveyed amount of $700,000, was transferred to other State agencies. You failed to ensure that all transfer-of-location documents, Std. Form 158s, were numbered, accounted for, and logged. As a result it was impossible to link all the transfer-of-location documents with the equipment, or to insure that the transferred property was in fact transferred to another state agency.

M. During the period from December, 1988, to August, 1989, you were dishonest, insubordinate, wilfully disobedient, incompetent, inefficient, and inexcusably neglected your duty in that you failed to properly supervise Jim Flint, your Assistant Administrator, and attempted to deceive your superiors regarding Flint's actions. You allowed Flint to assign management responsibilities in the Los Angeles area to a volunteer, Max Rincover. Mr. Rincover was a former BEP employee who had been found to be 100% permanently disabled from performing the same job to which he was assigned by your Assistant Administrator. Mr. Rincover had also been found to require lifetime medical care for his disability.

N. On or about May, 1989, you allowed your staff to circumvent State and Departmental Contract requirements by entering into an agreement with Captron Assembly Services, without the review and approval of the Department's Contract Officer or anyone in the Contracts and Regulations Section, in violation of RAM Sections 7101 and 7102. Your Assistant Administrator employed an improper procedure to use the Imprest Cash Fund for payment.

O. During the period from March, 1987, to September 1, 1989, you violated the provisions of Government Code Section 19990(g) by failing to devote your full time, attention, and efforts to your state employment during your hours of duty as an employee.

1. On or about November, 1988, you became a full-time paid employee of the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society. You received numerous phone calls relating to your Jazz Society employment at the Department of Rehabilitation. Your secretary, Linda Layne, also received numerous Jazz Society phone calls at the Department of Rehabilitation. By working full time for the Jazz Festival during November, 1988, until you were placed on administrative leave on September 1, 1989, you failed to devote your full time, attention, and efforts to your state job during your hours of duty as a state employee. This is especially significant because as Chief, BEP, you had a fiduciary responsibility to the Blind Vendors to safeguard the vendors' trust fund account.

2. Your secretary, Ms. Layne, was on the Board of Directors of the Jazz Festival which employed you. Your hiring of Ms. Layne as a secretary also constitutes a conflict of interest.

P. From February 1, 1988, until September 1, 1989, you were inefficient, incompetent, and inexcusably neglectful of duty in that you failed to supervise your secretary, Linda Layne, properly.

Q. During 1988 and 1989 you were incompetent, inefficient, and inexcusably neglected your duty in that you failed to establish an adequate statewide system for keeping track of vending machine income to insure that vending machine income accruing by law to blind vendors was collected and properly distributed.

1. You failed to maintain a central listing of all vending machines for which income should be collected and failed to take appropriate steps to monitor and enforce its responsibilities to collect such income.

2. Subsequent to your being placed on administrative leave on September 1, the Department received a check for $90,000 from vending machine income from Mare Island which had not been collected for over a year.

Of this $90,000, approximately $70,000 belonged to the vendors' retirement fund and the balance to the previous and existing vendors who operated a facility on the property.

3. On or about March, 1988, the Audit Section directed BEP to maintain vending machine accountability information by number, type, and location. Although Jim Flint represented to the Audit Section Chief that such information would be forthcoming, with your knowledge, it was never provided.

R. In May, 1988, you were dishonest in that you manipulated paperwork to hide the loss of property.

1. You permitted the transfer (on paper only) of 23 items of equipment, totaling $26,474, to a vending stand location which had been closed in December, 1987, without having any idea where the equipment was located.

2. You violated BEP Policies and Procedures Manual by failing to insure that two approval signatures required for bulk purchases for the warehouse were obtained.

S. On or about March 2, 1989, you were dishonest in that you reported to the Deputy Director, Administrative Services that from July, 1987, through March 2, 1989, BEP did not have much activity in the area of surveying, whereas in fact, 221 surveys had been completed during that time period.

1. On or about October, 1987, after you discovered that the Deputy Director, Administrative Services, was having auditors check the Property Survey Reports and equipment before authorizing disposal of BEP equipment by his signature, you stopped submitting the Property Survey Reports to him.

2. Thus, you circumvented proper survey procedures and prevented auditors and anyone from outside the BEP from reviewing the Property Survey Reports before the equipment was disposed of.

V. CONCLUSION

As the Chief of the Business Enterprise Program, you failed to act in a responsible manner commensurate with your duties, to protect BEP property purchased in part with blind vendors' trust funds, and to exercise reasonable and prudent care to prevent such equipment under your control from vanishing. You were blatantly and willfully derelict in your duty. Your misconduct is significant because as Chief, BEP, you had a fiduciary responsibility to the Blind Vendors to safeguard the vendors' trust fund account.

VI. According to State Personnel Board Rule 61, you have the right to review the materials upon which this action is based and to respond to this Notice of Adverse Action either in writing or orally prior to the close of business on March 30, 1990, the effective date of the notice. If you wish to respond orally by phone or set up a meeting to respond, please call Barbara Hooker, Chief Deputy Director, 322-6606. You have the right to representation at this meeting. If you wish to respond in writing, please direct your response to Department of Rehabilitation, 830 K Street Mall, Room 322, Sacramento, CA 95814. Regardless of whether you choose to respond to this Notice, you may appeal this adverse action to the State Personnel Board. Such an appeal must be filed in writing within 20 calendar days of receipt of this Notice of Adverse Action. The appeal should be sent to:

State Personnel Board
Attn: Administrative Law Judge
801 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814

Date: 3/23/90

P. CECIE FONTANOZA, Director

cc: Elizabeth Solstad, Chief Counsel

Marjory Winston Parker, Deputy Attorney General Chief Hearing Officer, State Personnel Board Personnel (3)

There you have the skeleton of Krum's Notice of Adverse Action. In a statement issued through his attorney, Krum announced that I categorically deny committing any acts to justify my being dismissed. Further, I am mad as hell that they have accused me of being dishonest. It is difficult, however, for a person reading the public documents to escape the impression that such safeguards as did exist were willfully ignored or flagrantly violated. The kindest construction that can be put on the situation is that management was not managing. People a good number of people had to have been looking the other way for $1.5 million worth of equipment to dissolve into thin air.

The other four Notices of Adverse Action are only less dismaying than Krum's because the officials' duties were less wide-ranging. The casual reader of such material might be forgiven for thinking that the Business Enterprise Program in California and the entire Department of Rehabilitation are now, at last, in a position to get on with the job of assisting blind people. But as is clear from even the most cursory study of the history of California's Business Enterprise Program, the problems uncovered in the current investigation began long before Roger Krum and company arrived on the scene, and so far there is little objective evidence that they will depart with him.

The fact that Hao Lam has been transferred from his position as Department of Rehabilitation deputy director for Program Management and Support to the Health and Welfare Agency is a hopeful sign, and sources close to the Sacramento County District Attorney's office suggest that plans are being made for several criminal prosecutions. If these do occur, they may strengthen such bureaucratic impulse as there may be to establish sensible, effective policies and procedures in the Business Enterprise Program and remove those officials who are unwilling or unable to comply with them.

According to a source close to the BEP, it was clear from the beginning of this latest crisis in the Program that Hao Lam's first concern has always been to protect himself by finding a scapegoat to take all the blame. Shortly before the California State Police swooped down on September 1, 1989, to escort Krum and company off state property and change the locks on the BEP warehouses, Lam placed a confidential letter in the files which purports to blow the whistle on Krum and his subordinates. The California vendors committee subsequently circulated a copy of this letter to vendors across the state, many of whom reject the idea that Lam only learned of the malfeasance in August of 1989. Lam had frequently told vendors that Krum never signed any document or made any decision without his knowledge and approval. Furthermore, the alleged whistle-blower was described to the Braille Monitor as Krum's hatchet man as guilty of wrong-doing as any of the others.

After Krum's removal in September, Lam assumed direct responsibility for the Business Enterprise Program and called in two experienced officials: Bill Lamb, to replace Roger Krum, and Don Edmons, to replace Jim Flint. Lamb took a sixty-day leave from his job to assist in revitalizing the BEP and has now returned to his former post. Don Edmons has lost the possibility of returning to his old job, though rumor has it that he would like to do so. Both officials have been very cautious in their statements for attribution, but one source close to the situation reports administrative dismay at Lam's habit of scolding staff in the presence of their subordinates and his dictatorial ways (It is Lam's way or no way).

Observers report that Edmons is a good man but that his efforts to develop and consistently implement a master plan before determining whom to fire did not meet with Lam's approval, so he began countermanding Edmons' orders.

Hao Lam's transfer has taken some by surprise. Many in the Business Enterprise Program believed that his political connections were too strong to permit his removal. They are relieved and cautiously optimistic that this move may mean state officials are really serious this time about straightening out the mess in the Business Enterprise Program. The fact that the U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration has also begun expressing more than a little curiosity about what happened to $1.5 million worth of equipment may also encourage California officials to deal decisively with this scandal. On April 3, 1990, The Sacramento Bee reported this aspect of the BEP mess. Here is the portion of the article that deals directly with the federal inquiry:

U.S. Probes Rehab Agency on Inventory

by Steve Gibson, Staff Writer

Despite repeated requests, the California Department of Rehabilitation has failed to provide the federal government with an itemized inventory of equipment purchased with millions of dollars in U.S. funds, an official said Monday. We've asked for (an inventory) many times, the official, Way Hew, director of management for Region 9 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration, said in a telephone interview from his San Francisco office.

What we're trying to get a handle on, Hew said, is how much they've been buying under (federal grant) programs. Hundreds of small non-profit agencies that provide independent living services to the disabled in California receive U.S. money administered by the state Department of Rehabilitation. Correspondence obtained by The Bee shows that U.S. officials found major weaknesses in property management and poor record-keeping at agencies that are supposed to be overseen by the state Department of Rehabilitation.

That is what The Sacramento Bee had to say on April 3, and it is clear that this story is far from over. As this article is being written in early April, first-page stories are appearing every day in the Sacramento newspapers. The District Attorney has not yet announced his plans, and the management problems in the Business Enterprise Program are far from resolved. But the State Legislature is now looking hard at the situation, and the vendors in the BEP are gradually becoming more unified in their efforts to see that their rights and their livelihood are protected. The National Federation of the Blind continues to advise and assist the vendors wherever and whenever we can. The California affiliate is working with legislators and members of Congress to impose the safeguards that have never before been placed on the Business Enterprise Program. The state NFB office continues to help vendors communicate with one another so that they can all understand what is happening. The blind across the state and the nation have joined together to insist that arrogant and self-serving officials no longer feather their own nests at our expense. The blind are a minority, and like every other minority, we have frequently found that people presume it is acceptable to take advantage of us. But we are not stupid, and we know what is going on. We are no longer willing to accept the consequences of such behavior as our due.

The California Department of Rehabilitation has begun some overdue spring housecleaning. Many other state agencies would do well to consider engaging in the same housewifely activity. A taste for fresh air and sunshine is contagious, and corruption is all the more visible in the strong light of day. The blind everywhere are watching the California Department of Rehabilitation and learning from its example.

THE BLIND DON'T NEED PAMPERING AT YALE

by Brian McCall

From the Associate Editor: Federationists will remember that Brian McCall was a 1989 National Federation of the Blind scholarship winner. He has just completed his junior year at Yale University. Our philosophy of independence and our insistence on the importance of good alternative techniques for blind people struck a responsive chord in Brian when he first met competent blind people at the 1989 national convention.

When he returned to Yale in the fall, he discovered that one member of the freshman class was blind and did not have effective alternative skills, good cane technique in particular. His method of accomplishing his access goals was to make accusations of insufficient services in university publications and to petition rather publicly for special permission to do things his own way.

My son, who was a Yale senior at the time, mentioned to me with some annoyance early in the academic year that a blind freshman was doing a good bit of damage to the image of blind people by making silly statements to the press, but he didn't see that there was much he could do to help.

Brian McCall, however, was in a somewhat different position. He knew of at least three blind students at the university whose lives were at risk of substantial inconvenience if people began to believe that this freshman was an accurate representative of the capacities of all blind people. There was also some danger that pressure would be placed on the Resource Office to become more intrusive in the lives of blind students if this one man's inappropriate complaints were taken seriously. So Brian McCall wrote an article for the student newspaper, presenting his position on what was at the time the latest flap caused by the freshman. The text of this column was reprinted in the Winter/Spring edition of The Student Slate, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind Student Division. Here it is:

A recent article appearing in the October, 1989, issue of New Journal focused attention on several issues regarding the Resource Office for Disabled Students, and it highlighted some more general concerns about attitudes toward handicapped people. The New Journal article, entitled No Easy Access, focused more specifically on the beliefs of Mathew Weed, one of four blind students at Yale. I would like to overview here the feelings of the three other blind students, including me, that the article failed to mention.

I will address specifically the relationship between the Resource Office and the blind community at Yale. I do not speak for students with disabilities who claim the need for modification of the physical environment (such as wheelchair users), for the blind require no modifications of the sort. These other students may have legitimate claims against the University, but blind people share very little in common with them and their access problems.

We merely need the freedom to use alternative techniques such as tape recorded texts, live readers, oral exams, and Braille materials. Thus, when Equal Access for Students at Yale (EASY) confronts the University, they should not claim to represent the interests of the blind.

I would like to comment on the controversy over Weed's inability to cross the corner at College and Grove Streets. (Weed claimed he had difficulty crossing at the corner crosswalk because he wandered into traffic. He asked for permission to cross at Hillhouse but was denied.) First, blind people do not have to ask permission to travel anywhere.

With the proper training, a blind person can cross any street independently at any location as safely as other people. As to Weed's difficulty in crossing at the corner crosswalk, if he had received proper mobility training, he could cross at the corner crosswalk as I have been doing for a year and a half and as the two blind graduate students have been doing since September.

In light of Weed's insufficient training, I can understand the administration's ruling that he would have to cross at the intersection with a guide and would not be permitted to cross at Hillhouse. However, I hope the administration realizes that Weed does not represent all blind individuals. For too long untrained blind people have, through their inability to master travel skills, led people to believe that the blind need assistance in crossing streets or riding buses. Although like every institution the Resource Office is in need of minor modification, it is currently satisfying the legitimate needs of the blind: housing some useful equipment and providing the funds for live readers. This is really all the blind need from a university. It is the responsibility of the blind to learn the alternative techniques that make it possible to function at Yale, just as it will be our responsibility to work side by side with sighted colleagues after graduation.

The blind, when using alternate methods, can perform the same tasks under the same constraints as their sighted peers, and they can do so efficiently. Therefore the blind at Yale are not in need of an office that provides services which the blind can take care of themselves. If the blind are taught to be dependent on this pampering, they will be unable to function efficiently in their careers.

The Resource Office should provide the appropriated funds for readers and be a source of equipment. Any expansion beyond these functions does not help but rather hinders us in our mission to reduce blindness to a mere characteristic and to compete effectively in the sighted world.

 

FROM THE MAIL BASKET: PERSPECTIVE ON
ALABAMA INSTITUTE FOR DEAF AND BLIND

From the Associate Editor: Hundreds of letters pour into the National Center for the Blind each week. Many of these have to do in one way or another with the Braille Monitor. Most of the correspondence deals with the mailing list address or format changes or additions to the list itself. But many, many letters are written about the content of the magazine. The topics and ideas discussed in the Monitor are so wide-ranging that they are bound to evoke a variety of responses.

Recently we received a letter that served as a powerful reminder of what we are all about as an organization and as a publication. We are the blind speaking for ourselves, and we are changing what it means to be blind.

Barbara Corner, a blind attorney and mother of three, now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her psychiatrist husband and their sons, aged twelve, nine, and seven.

While the family was living in Alabama, Mrs. Corner lost all of her remaining sight in a period of about six weeks and was left to cope with the problem of trying to learn how to take care of herself, her three young children, and her home with only the support of her husband, who was a medical student at the time. Because of her family's efforts to exert pressure wherever they could, she eventually received more hours of travel training (according to her mobility instructor) than any student had ever before received in the state. He also told her that Presidential aides from the White House called him repeatedly to make certain that she was getting what she needed.

Mrs. Corner knows firsthand how dreary the services for the blind are in Alabama. She was able to circumvent the worst of those shortcomings, but she worries about the people who are trapped in the state with no possibility of pulling strings to get what is their due. We worry about them too, and we remember that there are thousands of blind people in every state who need good training and sensible help. That is why the Braille Monitor published Of Chandeliers and Shoddy Practice in Alabama. Here is Mrs. Corner's letter:

Cincinnati, Ohio

February 21, 1990

Dear Mr. Jernigan:

Congratulations to you and Ms. Pierce on your recent article [February, 1990] about the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind and its former President Mr. Hawkins. It is about time that the truth about Alabama came out. I have decided to join the NFB because of your bold approaches to the Alabama and Florida schools for the blind and deaf and their problems. My check for membership has been sent to the NFB in a separate envelope. I was particularly impressed with your article about Alabama because at the time I became totally blind and needed rehabilitation services, I lived there. I was one of the lucky ones. As a child growing up with partial sight in Brooklyn, New York, I met and became friends with several people who were totally blind. They all traveled independently, read Braille, and lived normal and fulfilling lives. At the time I found out that my sight was totally and permanently gone, although I felt devastated, I knew that I could adjust once I had acquired the necessary skills. Getting those skills in Alabama was a struggle. I was able to get the needed mobility skills because my sister wrote a series of letters to everyone she could think of who might help, and I was eventually taught by a dedicated mobility instructor, who tailored his lessons to my particular needs like going to the grocery store and taking my preschoolers to school. However, I was unable to receive adequate instruction in other skills I needed to resume my duties as the wife of a busy medical student and the mother of three active boys aged two, four, and seven. (I didn't worry about the skills I might need to practice law again, since I needed to be able to take care of myself and my family first.) My situation reached a crisis in which I became extremely depressed and my family was suffering from not having a functioning wife and mother. Something had to be done. I felt I needed to go to a residential rehabilitation center, where I would not need to worry about my family but could concentrate on learning the skills that would enable me to be a whole person again. I was told not to go to the facility in Talladega, Alabama, because as an attractive young woman I wouldn't be safe there.

As I said, I was lucky. My sister and my husband's family had enough money to pay for me to go away to a rehab center in Pittsburgh. There, although it was hard, I spent eleven weeks learning as much as I could and returned to my family a changed person. I now had the confidence and will to take on any challenge I faced. Although we have since moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where my husband is doing his residency, I still have deep concerns about the blind who remain in Alabama and aren't as lucky as I was. This is why I applaud your bold approach to exposing the inadequacy of the schools in Alabama and Florida. I want you to know that I believe that Braille should be taught to all visually impaired children. I had partial vision when I attended school in Brooklyn. My vision varied most times I could read normal print, but there were extended periods when I could only read large print and almost a year when I couldn't read print at all. No one suggested that I be taught Braille. It never even occurred to me because I felt that my vision would improve and that I wasn't really blind. Had I learned Braille then, it would have spared me much agony when I lost my sight. Moreover it would have enabled me to do lots more reading without struggling while I was partially sighted. I would have been able to read at night, and the lighting of the room would not have affected my ability to read. It would have made it much easier to argue in court, since Braille notes would have been easier to read than large print notes written in a Flair pen that I could only read at a certain distance, etc. At present, although I use Braille for lists, addresses, and labels, my reading speed is not good enough to read books for pleasure or read aloud to my children. I do not have the time to improve my reading speed because of my time-consuming responsibilities as a mother and wife. Again, let me thank you for your article about the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind.

Sincerely,

Barbara Corner

HOSTAGE TO TAX POLITICS : ADVOCATE FOR BLIND SEES PRESSURE FROM ADMINISTRATION

by Dominic Slowey

This article appeared in the March 7, 1990, Middlesex [Massachusetts] News.

BOSTON--The head of the local chapter of the blind feels the Dukakis administration is trying to pressure him into supporting new taxes by threatening to cut programs for the blind. Dennis Polselli, president of the MetroWest Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, joined a Statehouse rally Tuesday against proposed cutbacks in programs for the blind, but did not join in the call for new taxes.

They try to box me into a tax corner, but I don't go for that, Polselli, a Framingham resident, said. These are areas that ought not to be held hostage to any tax politics at all. Those are the basic needs, necessities, period. It ought not even to be a question of whether there ought to be revenues or not. You ought to decide if that's a priority.

Polselli is a rarity at the Statehouse these days: someone in need of state services threatened by cuts who is not pushing for new taxes. The governor zero-funded money for library services, threatening the closing of the only talking book library in the state. Dukakis also proposed eliminating the state supplement to Social Security benefits, cutting benefits to $184 a month. Speakers at the rally, including several legislators and House Speaker George Keverian, D-Everett, urged the crowd to lobby local legislators and insist on new taxes to salvage the programs.

But Polselli said realigning budget priorities within the Commission for the Blind would free money for essential services. The ideal thing is that if people are opposed to taxes or if they're in favor of taxes, that's irrelevant, Polselli said. The thing is there are basic services that blind people need that really ought not to be held hostage to any revenue raising. Polselli added he's getting lobbied from everywhere, as a blind consumer, and as an employee of (the state's) higher education system. He works as a staff assistant at Framingham State College. If you have to prioritize, you have to come down on the side of human services, Polselli said. If I'm absolutely boxed into a corner, I have to come down on the side of cuts, make some choices.

But Charles Crawford, the head of the commission, said that over the last three years the agency has consolidated functions and cut personnel and administrative costs, reducing administration to bare essentials. He said the agency has sent back $4 million to the state treasury in the last three years in the form of reversions.

I would challenge anybody to make a more scrutinous set of decisions with respect to spending priorities than has the commission in this past year, Crawford said. At some point you reach the level where the infrastructure of the agency is threatened by further cuts. Crawford said changing priorities would not do the trick. You've got to believe somebody sometime, Crawford said. We can demonstrate with the documents that we have and printouts of the computer screen showing where the money was reverted, showing the reductions in personnel. But the reality is that anybody can refuse to believe anything for as long as they want to.

Polselli said the commission should not act as the distribution center for Social Security and Medicaid benefits for blind people.

 

COMMENTS ON RECORDING FOR THE BLIND

From the Editor: I first met Cherie Heppe when she lived in Northern Nevada. Later she moved to Connecticut, where she became one of the leaders of the NFB in that state. She is now studying at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic.

She has had a considerable amount of trouble in getting the Connecticut state agency for the blind to give her financial help in pursuing her career goal. As will be seen from the following letter, she is also experiencing problems with Recording for the Blind.

In last month's issue of the Braille Monitor we carried an article about Recording for the Blind which presents a different view from the one expressed by Cherie Heppe. Here is her letter, along with the one she received from Recording for the Blind:

Whittier, California

March 9, 1990

Governor George Deukmejian
Sacramento, California

Dear Governor Deukmejian:

In the past I, as well as many other blind people, have utilized the services of Recording for the Blind. As I understood it, Recording for the Blind's original mandate was to provide texts and other otherwise unavailable materials for blind college students, graduate students, and professionals. Acquisition of the inkprint books is expensive; and this notwithstanding, Recording for the Blind now requires blind persons to purchase two copies of each text to be recorded. They say it enhances and insures the accuracy of their reading for copyright purposes. Have copyright laws changed? This was not previously a requirement, but it represents a financial hardship for blind would-be users of Recording for the Blind's services. Even with this extra copy, we blind recipients often do not receive our texts until well into the term or at the end of the term of study.

I am currently attending the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic. I am funding myself with government loans because the agency for the blind will not assist me, although I qualify both for the agency assistance and the schooling. I purchased the required texts for second term ahead of time. I sent them to Recording for the Blind, expecting to receive confirmation of receipt of these texts and production of these books. I have been a long-time borrower at Recording for the Blind, yet I received no advanced notice of RFB's change of policy. I also received no assistance from the Los Angeles unit of Recording for the Blind when I made my initial inquiry about having these books recorded. Recording for the Blind has refused to record my texts, saying they do not fall into the purview of their educational program. Recording for the Blind tends to eclipse or absorb smaller, independent recording organizations, thereby limiting blind people's access to recording options for texts and other materials. Recording for the Blind raises money and puts itself out to the public as providing comprehensive services to blind borrowers. Now, I need access to text transcription, either in recorded form or in Braille. I am not familiar with organizations who do this work who have the necessary readers or equipment to handle these medically and scientifically oriented materials. I need my texts read and have had limited success finding readers from among the students on campus. I have very limited financial resources and have very little to spend on reader fees. This refusal of service by Recording for the Blind jeopardizes my options for acquisition of texts and my success in the upcoming term. I need to find financial assistance to either hire readers, funds to send books to places to be Brailled or recorded, or hire people to read the books to me. It is difficult to know where I am expected to find these resources when the very agencies claiming to serve the blind refuse to provide assistance. There are other blind people planning to attend the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic who will also need these materials. In a broader view there are other blind people who have attended and no doubt will attend other chiropractic and professional schools which require the use of specialized texts. Currently I wonder where such texts will be reproduced. I cannot help but think that such agencies as Recording for the Blind delude both the blind and the public, from whom they solicit financial support. Please contact me if you have suggestions for tangible help or resources. I may be reached through Student Services at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic or at (213) 947-6555. I would very much appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Cherie Heppe

___________________

Princeton, New Jersey

February 27, 1990

Dear Borrower:

Clinical and Functional Correlations in Embryology, Tran @OUTDENT = A Guide to Microbiology Laboratory, Skanavis (L. A. College)

Introduction to Human Histology, Goubran @OUTDENT = Neurology Outlined: A Guide to the Lectures, Tran @OUTDENT = Lecture Outline for General Anatomy II Carr (L. A. College)

Neurology Study Guide, Tran

Clinical Neurology Outlined, Tran, Tuan A. (L. A. College of Chiropractic).

We have received your request for recording of the above titled books.

Recording for the Blind is currently re-evaluating the types of books it will accept for the permanent library. We have reviewed your book(s) and after careful consideration we have determined that your material does not fall within the educational scope of our program.

We are therefore returning both copies and hope that we can be of service to you with other requests in the future. RFB does not record material produced for an individual class or school.

Sincerely,

Book Assignment Coordinator

Borrower Services Department

 

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, SIMPLE SIMON, AND THE THREE BLIND MICE: MEMBERS OF A VANISHING BREED

by Barbara Pierce

When I was a child, one of my favorite stories was Little Black Sambo. Tigers were among the monsters that inhabited the dark corners of my world, so any story in which they were turned into a river of melted butter to pour over a stack of piping hot pancakes was bound to be a favorite. Moreover, Sambo's brightly colored clothing was something that I could actually picture. Totally absent from my child's consciousness was any sense that the depiction of rich fabrics and primary colors in a black child's clothing was a demeaning caricature of the taste and maturity of an entire race. I liked those colors, and I liked the way in which Black Sambo vanquished the tigers and got a pancake breakfast for his trouble, and that was all there was to it. When I recited the nursery rhyme Simple Simon, I had no idea that the word simple meant mentally retarded. I knew only that Simple Simon was pretty stupid, and for that reason I didn't like the rhyme. I had been taught that you didn't call attention to the mental shortcomings of children who weren't very bright, and I can remember being appalled when I first learned that Simon wasn't just dumb. He and the morons who populated jokes (Why did the moron tiptoe past the medicine chest? He didn't want to wake up the sleeping pills.) were people who had something wrong with the way their minds worked. Their heads and my eyes set us all apart, and I wanted nothing to do with humor at their expense or at my own.

Strangely enough, I had no such intuition about the Three Blind Mice. Now they were dumb so dumb that they ran toward the farmer's wife instead of away, which anybody knew you could do whether or not you could see where you were going. I knew that from playing tag at twilight when I had to steer clear of the person who was it on sound alone. My conclusion was that blindness meant both that you couldn't see at all and that you were stupid. I couldn't help noticing that the penalty for being blind was (if you were a mouse) getting your tail cut off, so the song provided me with all sorts of reinforcement for stressing to myself and everyone else that I was not blind.

Did the creators of these childhood classics set out to damage whole classes of people? Of course not. At the time all three were written I feel sure that the creators didn't even recognize what they were doing. The stereotypes of the three groups in question (Blacks, the mentally retarded, and the blind) were so deeply entrenched in the public consciousness that they weren't even questioned. But that fact does not alter the response of those who have come to recognize the harm being done by the impression made on young minds. An entire restaurant chain (Sambo's) was forced to confront the outcry. It actually changed its name but eventually went out of business anyway.

I got to thinking about the impact of childhood images on adult misconceptions because of a set of letters passed on to me by Barbara Cheadle, President of the National Federation of the Blind's Parents of Blind Children Division and Editor of our quarterly magazine, Future Reflections . A couple, members of the Division and parents of a blind seven-year-old, wrote to the editor of OURS Magazine , published by Adoptive Families of America. They found a cartoon in the January/February, 1990, issue to be offensive. It depicted the three blind mice, all holding white canes and hanging on to each other's shoulders for guidance.

The editor wrote back a thoughtful letter pointing out that the canes were intended to indicate to people that these were the mice of song and legend, and they were hanging on to each other to indicate the problems that everyone gets into when the blind lead the blind in this case adoption agencies and parents. The editor is clearly a thoughtful and compassionate person, who had no intention of hurting anyone, except perhaps the agencies who mishandle and obfuscate adoption procedures.

She points out that the word blind has a wide range of colorful and graphic uses. It would be a shame to deny these to speakers and writers just because some of them offend the sensibilities of a relative few. In fact, she might have pointed out that some images are positive. Since ancient times, Justice has been portrayed as blind, not because the image evokes a picture of decisions being made in the absence of information, but because we believe that justice should be absolutely impartial, unswayed by superficial visual detail. The goddess Fortune and her modern, rather washed-out counterpart, Lady Luck, also are blindfolded, in order, one supposes, to illustrate impartiality. There are, of course, neutral expressions in the language which use the word blind and the implied analogy to not seeing or there being nothing to see. Flying blind and blind alley come to mind. Such expressions strike me as accurate and lively. There is nothing demeaning about their employment of the word blind. To be blind is in fact not to see, and when everyday life confronts one with situations in which vision cannot be used, it is appropriate to use the word blind to describe them.

This leaves those expressions which may be pungent and pithy, but which are also destructive, demeaning, and frequently untrue. The Biblical admonition that when the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch is an obvious example. The truth of this adage unfortunately still seems obvious to most sighted people, and at the time of its writing, it may well have been an accurate assessment of the travel skills of many blind people. But it is certainly no longer true, and the damage its repetition does to public attitudes and the self-confidence of many uninformed blind people would be hard to overstate.

Take another proverbial comment: even a blind hog finds a few acorns. I know nothing about pigs, blind or otherwise, but I assume perhaps incorrectly that a blind hog would be at some disadvantage in a contest for acorn-locating. I do know that when my children were small, they always found more acorns than I, partly because they tried harder, but partly, no doubt, because vision is an advantage in such a search. It's the application of this proverb that is so damaging.

It is used to demonstrate that even the least competent and most pitiable can expect to gather a few crumbs fallen from society's table. There the blind are again grubbing around in the dirt, busy about their almost profitless occupations, and coming up now and again with a morsel or two in compensation. The nursery song, Three Blind Mice, falls into this category of shared cultural experience that today has little or nothing to recommend it. Can the blind survive and, in fact, progress in our struggle to obtain first-class citizenship with all the rights and responsibilities associated with it despite such musical attacks?

Of course we can; we have done so for the past fifty years. We cannot be stopped by proverbs, aphorisms, and degrading songs. But the English language is a constantly changing tapestry of expression. Every minority group has endured pejoratives and verbal slurs as it has begun to be a force to reckon with. And as the general public has come to recognize the justice of each new demand for equality and respect, the language has slowly undergone a change. In polite (today one would say politically correct) circles such references have quietly disappeared. The terms survive as a collection of disgusting phrases with some shock value, but everyone comes to recognize that they constitute an insult.

Is the language poorer for the loss of imaginative verbal shorthand or lively similes? Strictly speaking, it is, but human-kind has never been found wanting in its capacity to create new analogies and expressions. It is not too much to ask that thoughtful people consider the impact of their use of our language. Heaven knows they are quick enough to avoid perfectly appropriate terms like look and see when addressing a blind person, for fear of insulting him or her. If such misplaced sensitivity could be applied instead to steering clear of detrimental and degrading uses of the word blind, we would all be healthier and a good bit nearer to an accurate understanding of the abilities of blind people. Here is the exchange of letters between Carol Barker-Keir and the editor of OURS Magazine:

San Diego, California

February 7, 1990

Anne Welsbacher

Editor, OURS Magazine

Adoptive Families of America, Inc.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Dear Editor:

Overall, we have found your magazine to be well balanced in presenting articles on the adoption process and issues of the adoption triangle (adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth parents) as well as issues of helping to build self-esteem and pride in the children.

Being adoptive parents of two children (one domestic, one international) who are both transracial and special needs, we have tried to instill in our children positive feelings about themselves. We are in the process of adopting our third child, who will also be transracial and special needs. With interest and agreement, we read in the January/February, 1990, issue of OURS , President Elliott's article on transracial adoption and the letters section containing Disney Responds to Parents. Turning to pages 10-11, we read the article, Murphy's Law Lives, enjoying the anecdotes. However, we were perplexed and chagrined by the caricature of the three blind mice by Rany Buckingham on both that page and the following one, as well as in the Table of Contents. Our just-turned-seven-year-old son's special need is blindness. Since his adoption at age two, we have searched to find positive statements, education, and role models for ourselves and him. We have found a group, the National Federation of the Blind, which seeks to help blind individuals feel good about themselves and their capabilities. They also battle to break down the public's stereotyped image of the blind like that expressed in the children's song, Three Blind Mice.

The white cane, pictured in the cartoon so that people would know that these mice were blind, represents and permits freedom of movement for a blind individual. With proper mobility training, a blind person does very well with a white cane without having to grab onto the shoulder of either a sighted or another blind person. The white cane symbolizes independence; it is not a sign of helplessness.

Usually we overlook ignorant blunders, as we did when we saw the movie Cheetah with our children (yes, blind children go to the movies). But when a group like yours seems to be stressing sensitivity towards those that are different, and also lists a Some Kids Wait column which includes blind children needing permanent homes, we strongly feel the need to call this example of insensitivity to your attention.

As you are aware, it is difficult at times not to succumb to the biases, prejudices, and stereotypes of society. Seeing that Adoptive Families of America strives to educate its readers and correct their misconceptions about adoption issues, we felt we needed to call to your attention this stereotype of the blind as helpless and incompetent. It is not, we believe, really what you want to convey to the public, prospective parents, and blind children. May we share with your organization an article from the December, 1989, issue of the National Federation of the Blind's magazine, the Braille Monitor . We hope it will help educate and sensitize you to these issues in the future. It is called, Educate the Educated by Bill Isaacs, a special needs adoptive parent of four transracial children.

Sincerely yours,

Mr. and Mrs. Keir

cc: Mrs. B. Cheadle

________________________

Minneapolis, Minnesota

February 14, 1990

Mr. and Mrs. Keir:

Thank you for your letter...to which I have given much thought and which I would like to respond to personally, although we also will include it in a future Letters to the Editor department of OURS magazine.

I apologize for any offense that our illustration may have caused you. It certainly was not our intention, and we do apologize if you were offended.

I am a little puzzled at the charge. Your primary concern seems to be that we mixed metaphors by portraying the mice with canes but also holding each other's shoulders. We were going for recognition of both 3 Blind Mice and the blind leading the blind, both well-known fables in the American vernacular. The canes were used to identify them as blind, and the shoulder grasping was an image of the agencies-leading-the- parents, issues that the stories dealt with. We believed both were necessary symbols for this illustration.

I certainly am aware that blind people don't hold each others' shoulders to move about, nor do I imagine anybody else believes this, either. For that matter, there is nothing strictly accurate about an earlier illustration in our magazine, in which prospective adoptive parents are literally swimming in a huge pile of papers surrounding an agency worker's desk, and I would hope people realize that agencies don't require their clients to swim in paper to reach their desks. Both illustrations are examples of exaggeration and irony to make a point. I think this is a fine point in a debate that is more aesthetic than civic.

But to the underlying, and more pervasive, point of your letter: using the word blind in a negative connotation, as in blind leading the blind or as a synonym for clumsy or careless. This is the aspect of the issue that I have thought about quite a lot, and will continue to ponder. Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines blind (adv.) as: 1) blindly; specifically, so as to be blind, insensible, etc. 2) recklessly. 3) in aeronautics, by the use of instruments alone; as, to fly blind. 4) sight unseen, as, to buy a thing blind. Under blindness, Webster's says the state of being without sight; also, a lack of discernment. Quite a wide variety of definitions, there, and not all favorable.

I hesitate to endorse removing references to blindness from all literature or manners of speech the Biblical passage you quoted in the article enclosed with your letter, lines from Shakespeare, and many simple colloquialisms are lovely uses of the English language and I am loathe to say they should be stricken from the record.

Just strike the negative ones from the record, but keep the positive ones, you say? That strikes me as a fairly major disparity without much justification to support it. Still, your letter has made me think hard about something I never considered before, and I certainly have looked at Rany's illustration in a different way since reading it.... I am still not entirely in agreement with you on some of your points, but I do recognize the potential for offense where I had not before seen any. And I agree with you that a magazine such as OURS must maintain a very careful scrutiny over any possible innuendoes that may be inferred from its pages.

Thank you for sending along your letter and the article. I appreciate being informed about this particular issue. And again, my apologies for any offense taken from Rany's illustration.

Sincerely,

Anne Welsbacher

Editor, OURS Magazine

cc: Rany Buckingham

 

REACTION TO A CARTOON

From the Editor: As we have often said in the Braille Monitor and elsewhere, the final victory in the struggle of the blind for equality will not be achieved by the acts of a few leaders alone, regardless of how capable or dedicated those leaders may be. It will be achieved by the daily vigilance and behavior of thousands of blind men and women and sighted friends throughout the country. The widespread misunderstandings and misconceptions can only be countered by a widespread response.

As Federationists know, Hazel Staley is the capable and energetic President of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina. On Friday, March 2, 1990, an objectionable cartoon appeared in her local newspaper, the Charlotte Observer. That same day she called the cartoonist and, getting no satisfaction from him, transferred her attention to his boss, the editor of the paper's editorial pages. The result was an editorial, which appeared without delay, being printed on Monday, March 5. Here it is:

Editorial Notebook

Why Do We Publish Cartoons?

Why do we publish editorial cartoons? Some days I wonder. Editorial cartoons are unlike anything else on the editorial pages. In our editorials and columns, we state our opinions strongly but also try to explain our reasoning. We know that on many issues, people we disagree with may be just as knowledgeable, well-motivated, and honest as we are. When you call to complain about an editorial or a column, I can explain it. If you like, we can argue about it. And then there are cartoons.

Cartoons are two-dimensional views of the world. They are black and white. They often deal with extremes, not norms. And what you see is what you see, regardless of what the cartoonist meant. Cartoons are not illustrations. They are not true. They are metaphors. They provoke. They oversimplify. They exaggerate. They issue a challenge: Hey! Look at it this way! Cartoons are, I suppose, an intellectual medium's nod to the emotions. No doubt that's why when readers disagree with an editorial, they tend to formulate rebuttals. When they disagree with a cartoon, they tend to get mad.

So when Kevin Siers, our cartoonist, portrays a USAir plane skimming over the landscape with a caption suggesting confusion in the cockpit, dozens of furious USAir employees call me. Not funny, they say. Not accurate.

Not funny? I agree. Cartoons often make serious points. Not accurate? The essential elements of the cartoon had been reported in our news columns. But it was the cartoon that provoked outrage. That's not surprising: A cartoon, in its stark simplicity, packs more punch. Kevin touched off another deluge of phone calls with his cartoon Friday about N.C. State basketball coach Jim Valvano. The cartoon showed a pair of dark glasses, a white cane, and a dead seeing eye dog. The caption read, The three things you need to manage a basketball program as successfully as Jim Valvano. Guess who complained?

Not N.C. State fans (at least not yet). The complaints came from blind people.

One caller was Ruth Hazel Staley of Charlotte, president of the N.C. chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. Mrs. Staley, blind since age 2, considered the cartoon very demeaning, though she doubted that Siers meant it that way. The general public has a tendency to view us as not being quite with it anyway, she said. Anything like this adds fuel to the fire.

Blind people, says Mrs. Staley, are just normal people who happen not to be able to see.

No one proves Mrs. Staley's point better than Mrs. Staley herself. She has a master's degree in psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill. Before her marriage she was a social worker in 10 counties in northwestern North Carolina. As state president, she heads an organization with 14 chapters and some 500 members. You made your point, Mrs. Staley. I don't know how you'd do as a basketball strategist. But I'll bet if you'd been in charge at N.C. State, players would have gone to class, wouldn't have peddled tickets and shoes, and wouldn't have dreamed they could get away with taking a dime from anybody for anything.

Ed Williams, Editor of the Editorial Pages

 

I MAY NOT BE A MOUNTAIN CLIMBER, BUT...

by Nancy Scott

Nancy Scott is an active member of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania and is the Secretary of the Writers' Division of the National Federation of the Blind. This article first appeared in the February, 1990, edition of The Blind Activist, the Newsletter of the NFB of Pennsylvania.

Too many people in our culture focus on negatives the things you can't do, the house you don't own, the designer suit you aren't wearing, etc. Living a full life, whether blind or sighted, should mean that you focus on living and not on any one characteristic.

No matter who you are, you will need to use alternative techniques to help you in daily life. Everyone needs them. If you are a short person, you may need a step-stool, and the things you want close at hand won't be stored on the highest shelves of your house. If you can't do car repairs, you will have to find a trustworthy mechanic. If you can't afford new designer suits, you will have to watch for clearance sales or seek out second-hand shops and yard sales in the better part of town. As I said, everyone uses alternative techniques.

The trick is knowing what you can and cannot do yourself. You are strong enough to lift the salad bowl, but you aren't tall enough to reach it. You have to look good for that job interview, but you only have $20 to spend on a new outfit. Knowing what you want, what you can do, and what is possible is the first step in living.

People's perceptions of blindness, and sometimes your own perceptions, can get in the way of your knowing what is possible for you. It happens to all of us. Here is one example. Last summer I went on a church hike in a rural setting. It was supposed to be a brief, two-mile stroll over flat, unimposing terrain, but it turned out to be much more difficult than any of us had planned. I took the arm of another walker and we set off. I used my cane to judge clearances and find the occasional rock. These were alternative techniques, and they worked quite well. Everything went fine until the sighted people in front of us took a wrong turn and landed us on a trail marked Danger Ahead. Suddenly, there were rocks, logs, and tree stumps everywhere.

The slope became very steep and just wide enough for one person at a time to walk safely. There were little streams to step across, lots of mud, poor footing, and startling drops to the river below. My alternative techniques (getting verbal directions and using my cane and common sense) worked just fine. I did switch companions for this part of the hike, however, since the woman I had been walking with was having some difficulty herself. (I wonder if this qualifies as an alternative technique for meeting good-looking young guys.)

All of us eventually made it back to the picnic area, and none had more to contend with than muddy sneakers and big appetites. The point of the story is that, if I had known what the hike was actually going to involve, I wouldn't have gone, figuring that my blindness would have been a problem. It wasn't. We all discovered that we were better hikers than we knew. We were challenged in different ways, but we all came back exhilarated from the experience. I may not be a mountain climber, but who knows? If I focus on living and not on blindness, life may give me the opportunity to find out just how much I can do.

 

THE VALUE OF DEBATE

by Stephen Benson

As Monitor readers know, Steve Benson is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind and the energetic President of the NFB of Illinois. This article is reprinted from the Spring edition of the Student Slate, the newsletter of the Student Division of the National Federation of the Blind.

Blind residents of Illinois have long been aware that being a client of the Department of Rehabilitation Services is at least an adventure. The perception abroad in the Land of Lincoln is that the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), erects at least as many barriers to full participation in society as it removes. It may well erect more.

Doug Lee won an $1,800 NFB Merit Scholarship in 1986. Lee, a computer engineering student at the University of Illinois, was notified by DORS that the scholarship was regarded as a similar benefit and that, therefore, he must repay DORS $1,800 of the funds the agency had previously advanced for his education. Further, Lee's counselor at the University accused him of trying to build a financial empire while a student, despite the fact that Lee's gross income that year was $2,900. As one might expect, Lee appealed.

The appeal process dragged on for almost a year. The DORS director upheld the counselor's position and ordered Lee to pay the $1,800. The cost to DORS of the entire procedure was more than the $1,800 the agency tried to squeeze out of Lee. In the summer of 1987, Federation representatives met with the director of services to the blind within DORS and urged that the decision be reversed. After all the scholarship could not be a similar benefit since it was awarded on the basis of academic merit as part of a competition with several hundred other students while financial assistance provided by DORS was based only on the condition of blindness. The NFB representatives argued further that DORS' position was unreasonable, shameful, intolerable, and punitive. Beyond that, DORS was the only agency in the nation that was taking this position, and it seemed to us that the media would like to know about it. The director of DORS reversed her decision, but only because of the intervention of the NFB and the likelihood that negative and damaging publicity would result. In light of this scenario, what happened to Ali Nizamuddin was no surprise.

In 1987 Ali Nizamuddin entered Northern Illinois University (NIU) as a political science major and communications minor after completing high school in three years. A native of India, Nizamuddin arrived in this country at the age of nine, unable to speak English. Be that as it may, at the end of his sophomore year at NIU he had earned a 3.48 GPA on a 4-point scale. As of this writing, early January, 1990, Nizamuddin has completed his first semester at Northwestern University, having raised his GPA to 3.75 on a 4-point scale.

At the beginning of the 1988-89 academic year, Nizamuddin joined the NIU debate team. He regarded debate as essential to his vocational objective university teaching or politics. He saw it as an excellent experience that would sharpen both his thinking and his research techniques. On his resume it might also make a significant difference when competing for a job. During the Christmas holiday of 1988-89, Nizamuddin used reader services to prepare for a debate. He submitted a reimbursement request to DORS. His counselor denied the request on the grounds that debate is not a credit course leading to a degree. Nizamuddin appealed the decision. Members of the Federation represented Nizamuddin at the fair hearing. (It should be noted that all members of the hearing panel were DORS employees.) During the hearing I made the following remarks: ...the steady grind of academia is made richer by campus activities that have direct impact on what the student does or is able to become after graduation. For a student with aspirations to enter journalism, it is critical for him or her to work on a university or college newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, or other publication.... For a law student, having a perfect academic record is a ticket to a solid career, no question about it. A law student with less than a perfect record, but who has edited the law review or contributed substantially to it, or a student who has won recognition in moot court competition, will have opportunities that a good student with no activities can never hope to have. For a student majoring in political science and minoring in communications with ambitions for teaching at the university level or entering politics, participation in debate is as critical as the law review and moot court are for a law student, or as critical as newspaper or year book is for a journalism major.... The alleged policy regarding extra-curricular activities is blatantly discriminatory against blind students and works as a disincentive to campus involvement. Further, it denies Nizamuddin an opportunity to hone skills he will use in teaching. At one point I commented to Nizamuddin's counselor that debate is not something frivolous like bowling. I asked whether he saw the difference between bowling and debate. After some waffling, he acknowledged that debate might have some value, but he rigidly adhered to the Department's policy of not covering the cost of extra-curricular activities.

When the DORS Director, Philip Bradley, upheld the denial of Nizamuddin's reimbursement request, I once again urged the Director of Services for the Blind to take all steps necessary toward the reversal of the decision. The message I conveyed to him was the same as that conveyed at the hearing and the same as that conveyed regarding Doug Lee: the Department's position was shameful, intolerable, unreasonable, and punitive. In addition I pointed out that the entire dispute could have been avoided if Nizamuddin could have continued working with a counselor from the Bureau for the Blind rather than with a general counselor at the University, who clearly had no knowledge of the needs of the blind students. Under date of December 14, 1989, Director Bradley wrote the following to Ali Nizamuddin:

Dear Mr. Nizamuddin:

At the request of Stephen Benson, President of the NFB of Illinois, I have reversed my decision regarding payment of reader services during December of 1988.

This review disclosed some factors which were not addressed during the fair hearing. Reference was made in your case file record to the fact that English was not your original language and that experiences to familiarize you with relating with individuals of a different cultural background than your own would be an important part of your vocational training. Although extracurricular activities are not normally covered in an Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan [IWRP], participating in a debating team would, in this context, seem to be important in furthering your experience and confidence and should contribute to your success in reaching your vocational objective.

Sincerely,

Philip Bradley

The DORS Director reversed his decision; however, attitudes and policies reflecting a narrow view of extracurricular activities and the use of readers for those activities remain rigidly in place. The Illinois DORS, like most agencies for the blind in this country, lacks the creativity, commitment, and will to do those things that will make a substantial difference to the lives of blind people. They claim they must be accountable to and responsive to the bottom line. In Nizamuddin's case, the Department would rather have spent $1,000 or more in defense of its position than under $200 on reader fees for a college student with tremendous potential for competitive employment someone who could serve as a role model for other blind people and for DORS staff. In view of the current 70% unemployment rate among working age blind people, wouldn't anybody with good sense want to encourage and support student involvement in those activities that would give blind people a competitive edge? If the NFB had not intervened in the Nizamuddin and Lee cases, their resolutions would have been much different. Other similar cases exist in Illinois and every other state. They will continue to occur until and unless the rehabilitation system makes wide-ranging, dramatic changes. Until that happens, the NFB will continue to advocate for all blind people and, thereby, provide the answer to the question: Why the National Federation of the Blind?

 

SOME THOUGHTS ON TECHNICAL SUPPORT

by Curtis Chong

From the Associate Editor: As Monitor readers know, Curtis Chong is President of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science. To those who firmly believe that computer is a four-letter word and steer clear of the electronic monsters as a matter of principle, this fact may have little more than theoretical interest. To those who are so sophisticated in their approach to computers that they read documentation for the fun of the thing, Curtis's expertise means only that he is an interesting companion in elevators or at parties full of shop talk. But for those of us who with trepidation have inched our way into something approaching computer literacy, Curtis and the other members of our Computer Science Division have probably stood between us and raving insanity. If you conclude from the forgoing comments that Curtis Chong has rescued me from more than one misadventure with computer software, you are absolutely correct.

The following article is reprinted from the Spring, 1990, Computer Science Update, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science. As I read it, I had the niggling feeling that he was speaking directly to me. Since I am convinced that his point is very well taken, I thought that other semi-literate computer cowards might well think about it as well. Here is what Curtis Chong has to say:

As more and more computers find their way into the workplace and as these computers are being used by blind people employed in a growing variety of jobs, it occurred to me to wonder, Who provides the technical support for these systems? A lot of people who use computers in today's work environment have absolutely no concept of how or why they work. These users follow a written set of procedures in order to get what they want out of the computer, and when it doesn't behave as expected, they call in the technical support specialist.

In the case of the blind computer user, there is an additional dimension namely, the technical support for the screen reading hardware and software that make independent access to the company's computing system possible. This dimension becomes even more significant if an extensive amount of customization needs to be done to the screen reading system to make the blind person more productive. Consider the IBM Screen Reader, for example. Along with this screen reading program for the PS/2 (and now for the traditional IBM PC), IBM has developed something called Profile Access Language or PAL. Using PAL, a user can theoretically create profiles for a variety of computer applications. However, most users aren't programmers, and PAL very much resembles a programming language. Therefore, the development of unique Screen Reader profiles for such applications as WordPerfect and Dbase is often left to the friendly folks at IBM or to someone else charged with providing technical support to the blind user, whoever that person may be.

Other screen reading programs such as JAWS, Flipper, and the Verbal Operating System (VOS) can be used with key macros. These enable a single keystroke to trigger a series of screen reading functions. Using a key macro program, the user can read selected parts of the screen with one key stroke. Properly used, key macro programs enable the blind computer user to have spoken only the information on the screen absolutely necessary to perform the tasks for each unique application. However, like PAL, defining key macros is a lot like programming; and the typical computer user has neither the inclination nor the expertise to set up the macros uniquely required for his or her application.

With the increased use of internal speech synthesizers, the blind computer user also needs to be concerned with the insertion and removal of circuit cards into one or more of the computer's expansion slots. Ordinarily, a first-time user will not know how to open up the computer, not to mention putting in a new speech card. Whose responsibility is it, then, to ensure that the blind computer user is provided with adequate technical assistance to deal with screen reading hardware and software? In this day and age computers are still not user friendly. That is, the computer does not, out of the goodness of its metallic heart, tell you how to run your word processor or communications program. You are still required to do a whole lot of reading and studying just to figure out how to get the computer up and running. This is as true for the blind as it is for the sighted. And, like the sighted, our capacity to cope with this unfriendly piece of technology ranges from total inability to 100% sophistication and understanding. Blind folks who fall into this latter category probably don't need much technical help at all. On the other hand, those people who find the computer difficult, recalcitrant, and incomprehensible require more than a little in the way of technical help.

In many states the blind person who needs a computer system on the job will turn to the rehabilitation agency to acquire the necessary hardware and software. If the agency is devoting any resources to technology, it will have a technology specialist on its staff who goes out to each work site, installs the adaptive hardware and software, and performs any required analysis and customization. At first glance this would appear to be a workable arrangement. After all, a technology specialist working for an agency for the blind is supposedly experienced with so-called adaptive technology, having already installed systems for many clients. Moreover, the blind computer user may not want to invest a whole lot of time to learn about the Disk Operating System, screen reading program configuration, software installation, etc. But is relying upon a technology specialist provided by the rehabilitation system really the most beneficial option in the long run? Do we want to spend the rest of our technical lives, so to speak, dependent upon a technology specialist from a rehabilitation agency to bail us out of any problems we may be experiencing with our adaptive equipment?

I submit that, unlike sighted users, we blind computer users cannot afford the luxury of depending upon a technology specialist (in our case employed by the rehabilitation agency) to provide technical support for the adaptive technology that we must use in order to access our computers independently on the job. Although using a rehabilitation technology specialist can get you up and running in a hurry, the penalty you pay in the long run may be far worse than any initial delay you may experience trying to learn about all of this stuff yourself. What happens if, a few years down the road, your employer decides to change the layout of all the computer screens screens whose formats may have been tightly coupled to whatever customization was performed by the rehabilitation technology specialist? What happens if your employer decides to acquire a brand new and totally different computer system? Must the blind computer user go back to the rehabilitation agency, with all of its bureaucratic red tape, just so that the technology specialist can come into the work site, perform technical research, and re-customize the system?

Make no mistake about what I am saying. With respect to technical support for any regular computing equipment we may be using on the job, I fully expect that the employer would provide it, just as he or she does for sighted computer users. If your job requires you to use an IBM Personal Computer (PC), for example, the odds are that your coworkers are already using PC's. Therefore, your employer can provide technical support for you as readily as for your sighted coworkers. The problem has to do with the so-called adaptive technology: the screen reading software or hardware, the Braille embosser, or the paperless Braille equipment.

I don't believe that we have to go begging to the rehabilitation agency for technical support for our talking or Braille equipment. For one thing, the vendors of speech or Braille hardware do provide some over-the-phone technical assistance that we can all use. For another, the experience of a lot of blind computer users demonstrates that you can learn a good bit about your equipment if you believe you can. Certainly there is nothing inherent in blindness itself which would prevent you from doing so. Simply think of your adaptive technology as another challenge to be mastered, just like all other challenges in life. Contrary to popular opinion, computers are not so complicated that you need a math degree or a Ph.D. to use them. The average person can learn enough about adaptive technology to make it work and keep it running. At the very least the average computer user can learn whom to call if an insurmountable problem arises with the equipment. As active members of the National Federation of the Blind, we have always placed a high premium on the ability of the blind to take control of our own destinies; to deal with problems independently; and to lead normal, productive lives. We can learn about our adaptive software and hardware. We can learn to understand the vagaries of our computer. Above all we can certainly help each other. Those of us who possess knowledge and expertise about computers can surely provide some help to those people who don't. Certainly, if you want to be in control of your own destiny, and if your particular situation requires that you use a computer, you must take responsibility for your own situation. But never forget the thousands of blind men and women in the National Federation of the Blind, marching alongside you toward first-class citizenship, promoting opportunity, equality, and security for all blind people. In the end we will help each other.

 

WHAT WENT WRONG WITH DOING GOOD?

by C. Edwin Vaughan

C. Edwin Vaughan, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Missouri in Columbia. As a sociologist and member of the National Federation of the Blind, he has thought much about the role of consumer organizations in the field of social service and welfare programs. Something clearly has gone wrong between the high-minded intentions of those who sought to do good and the establishment of the programs and services they created. Here is Ed Vaughan's brief analysis:

Many of us have observed defensive, caustic, and even angry behavior displayed by some professionals and some agency personnel when confronted with consumer criticism or demands for increased consumer participation. Critics are frequently dismissed as misguided and certainly ungrateful for the contributions rehabilitation efforts have made in the lives of blind people. With so many professional organizations of workers for the blind, special programs informed by scientific research, and continual support from government and the public, how could anyone question the beneficence of these efforts? Isn't doing good always desirable? How can beneficence be mischievous or even harmful? David Rothman, a social historian at Columbia University, analyzes social programs that developed in the Progressive era in this country. Beginning around 1900, public energy and public money were organized to deal with a wide array of social problems. In the history of American attitudes and practices toward the dependent, no group more energetically or consistently attempted to translate the biological model of the caring parent into a program for social action than the Progressives (Rothman, 1978, p. 69). We will utilize his idea of benevolence as disguised power and draw examples from his analysis of several welfare programs to clarify the reason why many consumers resist efforts by those who would do them good.

In the first two decades of this century, the needs of the poor and dependent were widely noted. As Rothman observes, the state as parent had much to accomplish. Everyone would benefit. There was a presumed unity of interests between the state and the several different types of needy citizens.

Agents of the welfare state were so committed to a paternalistic model that they never concerned themselves with the potential of their programs to be as coercive as they were liberating. In their eagerness to play parent to the child, they did not pause to ask whether the dependent had to be protected against their own well-meaning interventions. It was as if the benevolence of their motives, together with their clear recognition of the wretchedness of lower-class social conditions, guaranteed that ameliorative efforts would unambiguously benefit the poor (ibid., p. 72).

As Rothman notes, there was consensus around the values of scholars and reformers alike. Schools, settlement houses, and a wide array of social programs would bring the poor and immigrants into the mainstream of middle-class American life. Between 1900 and 1920 many of our contemporary social welfare programs had their origins, including child support, juvenile courts, and of course new and expanded programs to benefit blind people. The American Association of Workers for the Blind (AAWB) was organized in 1905 with a broad agenda which included employment, the welfare of elderly blind persons, boarding homes and other housing arrangements for blind adults, nurseries for blind babies, home teaching services for adults, and industrial education. The AAWB and the American Association of Instructors of the Blind (AAIB) grew, both in size and mutual concerns, and by 1921 jointly created the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) as a new national resource for advancing their programs.

What went wrong with the well-intentioned efforts of reformers to improve the lot of the poor, the widowed, the delinquent, the untutored immigrant, and the disabled? Since the aim of the state was to help the disadvantaged, there seemed no need to limit the power utilized for doing good.

In each instance, therefore, enabling legislation and agency practice enhanced the prerogatives of state officials and reduced and almost eliminated legal protections and rights for those coming under their authority. To call the acts widow pensions was really a misnomer. The widows did not receive their allowance as a matter of right, the way a pensioner received his. Rather, the widow had to apply for her stipend, demonstrate her qualifications, her economic need, and her moral worth, and then trust to the decision of the welfare board. At their pleasure, and by their reckoning, she then obtained or did not obtain help. By the same token the juvenile court proceedings gave no standing to the whole panoply of rights that offenders typically enjoyed from a trial by jury, to assistance from counsel, to protections against self-incrimination. There was nothing atypical about the juvenile court judge who openly admitted that in his Minnesota courtroom the laws of evidence are sometimes forgotten or overlooked. So, too, probation officers were not bound by any of the restrictions that might fetter the work of police officers. They did not need a search warrant to enter a probationer's home, for as another juvenile court judge explained: With the great right arm and force of the law, the probation officer can go into the home and demand to know the cause of the dependency or the delinquency of a child. He becomes practically a member of the family and teaches them lessons of cleanliness and decency, of truth and integrity. So caught up were reformers with this image of officer as family member that they gave no heed to the coercive character of their programs. To the contrary, they frankly declared that threats may be necessary in some instances to enforce the learning of the lessons that he teaches, but whether by threats or cajolery, by appealing to their fear of the law or by rousing the ambition that lies latent in each human soul, he teaches the lesson and transforms the entire family into individuals which the state need never again hesitate to own as citizens. With the state eager and able to accomplish so beneficent a goal, there appeared no reason to restrict its actions.

The prevalence of such judgments among Progressives practically blinded them to the realities that followed on the enactment of their proposals. Not only did they fail to see the many inadequacies that quickly emerged in day-to-day operations; worse yet, they could not begin to understand that the programs might be administered in the best interests of officials, not clients (ibid., pp. 78-79).

One might say about many administrators of these programs that whatever else they did, they looked after the interests of their agencies and careers. Commenting on the history of original missionary families in Hawaii, wags have observed that they came to do good and stayed to do well. We now observe widespread cynicism about the claims of self-appointed caregivers. Do-gooders are suspect. To quote Rothman again, Whereas once historians and policy analysts were prone to label some movements reforms, thereby assuming their humanitarian aspects, they [the scholars] are presently far more comfortable with a designation of social control, thereby assuming their coercive quality.

Power and social control operate, in part, through organizational procedures and administrative discretion. We live in an age of regulations. Countless agency conferences are held to interpret the regs. Administrators and their subordinates control resources and apply rules. Clients, patients, or students have few alternatives. Power relationships are one-sided. Even our government has recognized this condition by funding protection and advocacy programs to give independent legal assistance and other support to individuals challenging their treatment at the hands of the rehabilitation system. Fair hearing officers are now used to hear client appeals in several states. We have an acute distrust of discretionary authority.

With the civil rights movement of the 1960s Rothman describes a trend evidenced in several different branches of the welfare rights movement. The perspective is not the perspective of common welfare but the needs of the particular group. The intellectual premises are not unity but conflict. It is `us' versus `them' (p. 90). Control and benevolent oversight have been self-consciously rejected and replaced with concerns about autonomy and civil rights. Do not deprive us of competitive employment; equal pay for equal work; opportunities for economic mobility because we are women, black, needing some medical intervention, poor, or blind. From the perspective of this liberty and human rights concern, rehabilitation or other programs that block freedom of choice must be removed and are, indeed, not solutions but parts of the problem.

Expanding the liberty perspective, as Rothman notes, will not solve all of the problems of various minority interest groups. Legitimate needs remain. Appropriate education and opportunities for competitive employment are still essential elements of equal opportunity for blind people. Our concern, obviously, is not to promote neglect or to legitimate cruelty and suffering in the name of rights. How can we access opportunities and utilize the resources of publicly funded programs and yet avoid domineering, demeaning, dependency-creating relationships with agents of rehabilitation? How can the power imbalance be redressed? How can we avoid throwing away the baby with the bath water? How can we limit discretionary and arbitrary authority associated with publicly supported programs?

To this end, advocates of the liberty model are far more comfortable with an adversarial approach, an open admission of conflict of interest, than with an equality model with its presumption of harmony of interests (p. 92). Would this human rights, liberty model be compatible with service and educational arrangements provided by experts, professionals, and public officials?

Whenever publicly supported programs are needed, the recipients of benevolence must have a determinative voice in policy making and evaluation. If you will do good to me, it will have to be on my terms or we must at least achieve agreement and mutual respect. Equitable service delivery requires full consumer participation. Such participation will not come from agency-selected individuals or self-appointed guardians of blind people, but from broadly-based, democratically elected representatives of organizations of blind people. By now you know the last sentence: That is why we have formed the National Federation of the Blind.

References:

Rothman, David

The State as Parent, Doing Good , by Willard Gaylin, et al. Pantheon Books, New York, NY, 1978.

 

I WAS A YOUNG MOTHER BEING STIFLED BY BLINDNESS

by Barbara Pierce

From the Editor: Readers of Good Housekeeping magazine will remember the feature My Problem. Women across the country are invited to submit manuscripts about personal problems which they have solved. Barbara Pierce (Associate Editor of the Braille Monitor, as well as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio and Chair of the Federation's Public Relations Committee) tried her hand at this task, thinking that it would be great publicity for the Federation if she could get a story published. Unfortunately, Good Housekeeping editors seem to have seen through her plan and rejected the piece. We thought that it was interesting and that Monitor readers would agree with us. The article is reprinted from the Spring, 1990, Buckeye Bulletin, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio. Here it is:

In 1973 I was twenty-eight years old and a faculty wife living in a small mid-west town with my loving husband and three small children. Said like that, it sounds idyllic, and that was the portrait I clung to, avoiding any thought of the future and refusing to deal with the growing dissatisfactions of the present.

The main complication in my life was my blindness. My vision had deteriorated since childhood, and even though I had been introduced to Braille and the white cane as a teenager, I could still use my vision for some things, so I told myself I was not really blind. Since college, though, I had had to admit that my eyes now provided me with almost no useful information except which lights were on.

Despite the profound handicap of vision loss, I grew up in a happy family with a younger brother who was understanding of the extra time my parents spent working with me. They were truly amazing people. Dad was easy-going and positive. Lots of homework? No problem; we'd dig our way through it no regret at sacrificing his quiet evening. As an engineer he had no difficulty with the science and math, but German and diagramming sentences presented challenges to us both.

In the fifties there was little academic support for families whose blind children attended public schools. We were on our own to devise alternative methods of doing my work. So I diagrammed sentences in the air for Dad to transcribe onto paper and learned to do complex algebra in my head.

My mother was far more distressed about my blindness. Being a mother, she worried. Having an active conscience, she wondered if she were somehow responsible for my condition. I was dimly aware of her pain, but she never let it stand in the way of my growing up. I went camping with the Girl Scouts, learned to cook and iron, and did my share of household chores. She never communicated her anxiety about my safety. She taught me about colors, make-up, and doing my hair. She saw to it that I learned to dress appropriately even though I couldn't tell what other people were wearing, and she suffered with me when the boys I liked ignored me or treated me like a sister. My senior year she first rejoiced with me and then began worrying again when I fell in love.

Thanks to my parents' support, I graduated second in my suburban high school class. I entered Oberlin College the following September and for the first time in my life had to face the prospect of getting my work done without a full-time reader/secretary at my disposal.

I learned quickly about hiring and supervising readers, and I worked hard. But I played hard too, taking part in college organizations and dating, though my heart was still entangled with my high school flame, attending a college far away. The college campus was small and easy to memorize. I used a folding cane that I could make vanish whenever someone presented her (or preferably) himself to walk with me to my destination. I wouldn't allow friends to go out of their way for me, so I often didn't do social things or run errands I would have wanted to because I couldn't find anyone who was going that direction. All that changed my senior year when I began to date my Milton professor. It was one of those whirlwind romances that are the talk of small, close-knit communities. I graduated from Oberlin with high honors in June and became a faculty wife that September. I felt like a fairy-tale princess.

By 1973 Bob and I had bought a thirteen-room house that had originally been a dormitory. It was close enough to campus for him to walk to his office and for me to walk downtown and to the pediatrician, where I was going frequently by this time because we had three children: Steven, five; Anne, two; and Margaret, born two months prematurely that August. I taught Lamaze pre-natal classes one evening a week and pretended that my life was satisfying.

The things I was doing I could do well. My children were happy, my home was as orderly as any with three small children, my husband's classes met often in our living room and ate home-baked cookies, and my students thought I was a good childbirth teacher. But I was beginning to experience the nagging worries and dissatisfactions of many young mothers in the seventies. Conversing with young children was not intellectually challenging. Collecting new recipes from the recorded edition of Good Housekeeping was fun, but how many chicken casseroles does one woman need? I wanted an identity of my own not as someone's wife or mother, but as myself. None of this was unusual, but my options seemed much more restricted than those facing most women. I could not drive. I could not read print. I couldn't even read Braille very well because no one had ever encouraged me to work on building my reading speed when I was young. I hated my cane and used it as little as possible. It seemed to shriek to people of my blindness, and everyone knew that blind people couldn't do much. They made brooms in sheltered workshops or tuned pianos. They stood on street corners and sold pencils or, if they were musical, played the accordion. I was not like that. But what was I like? What could I do with myself? It was a question that I could put off a little longer because the children were still small enough for me to pretend that I didn't yet want to go back to work.

Never during my struggles did I consider that other blind people might be able to help me. Everyone had always told me that I was not like other blind people. Since I had never known a blind person, I assumed that my friends and family were right. I told myself that I was really a sighted person who couldn't see. I was normal, and nothing that blind people could say would have much relevance to me because, even though my world was limited to the distance I could walk and the information I could glean from my recorded books and what my dear husband had time to read to me, I was not a shuffling, passive, doggedly cheerful blind puppet to be dragged around and handed whatever other people no longer wanted.

Then, in January of 1974, someone brought me a stack of recordings produced by the National Federation of the Blind. He said I might be interested in listening to them. I smiled politely and put them aside with no intention of wasting my time on such twaddle. But very soon thereafter my husband had to be away for a weekend, and the baby came down with her first cold. To complete my misery, I had read and returned every one of the recorded books lent to me by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. I faced the prospect of two days of walking a fussy baby and talking to two toddlers while having nothing to read. I remembered the stack of records and decided that they were better than nothing.

When Bob came home Sunday afternoon, expecting to find a frantic, ill-tempered wife, he found instead a woman who had been transformed. Poor man, he had to listen to the pent-up flood of discoveries that I had made. He is patient, and he paid close attention as I explained that I had discovered fifty thousand people who believed that blindness didn't have to consign one to poverty and helplessness. I had learned that as a member of the general public, I had been brainwashed like everyone else about blindness. I realized that my dislike of my cane was really rejection and denial of blindness. I had been working hard at doing things as well as sighted people not because blindness need not be more than a nuisance in my life, but because I didn't want anyone to think of me as blind. Dimly I had begun to understand that if I were ever to step beyond the confines of my current narrow life, it would be because I had come to terms with myself as I was a blind woman with energy and dreams and the capacity to fulfill them.

No profound insight can remake a person overnight, but it is accurate to say that from then on I was a different person. I organized a local chapter of the Federation in my county. As I did so, I discovered that I could help other blind people who hadn't yet learned even the little I knew about coming to accept themselves and being proud of who they were. I also discovered just how many blind people had suffered real discrimination at society's hands. I learned that I have been incredibly lucky. No one had tried to take my children away from me because I was a blind parent. This still happens to blind parents today despite the overwhelming evidence that blindness does not prevent a person from being a good parent. Each time I have looked for a job, I have found one. I learned that blind people face a 70% unemployment rate not because only 30% of us are capable of holding down good jobs, but because employers don't believe that we can.

As I became active in the National Federation of the Blind, I met blind people who simply did not recognize the boundaries I had always lived with. They traveled all over the country and the world independently, getting to their departure, retrieving their luggage, and coping with ground transportation without thinking twice about the task. I discovered that I could do these things as well, and I cannot express the sensation of freedom I had packing for a plane trip and feeling no anxiety about the logistics of getting where I needed to go.

I discovered blind people who read Braille at 400 words a minute. Though I had been cheated as a child by not being forced to master the Braille code thoroughly, I could begin as an adult to rectify the situation.

The Federation also gave me personal fulfillment and a circle of wonderful friends who knew and loved me for who I was. They were interested in my husband and children, but they did not define me by those relationships.

I had work to do and battles for equality to win. I learned new skills writing, giving interviews to the press, teaching other Federationists how to do the public education that is so important if the blind are ever to take our rightful place in society. As a result of these new skills and the self-confidence I have learned from the NFB, I applied for a job as a college administrator at Oberlin and got it. There I had a chance to educate many people about the abilities of the blind.

I also had plenty of opportunities to learn to juggle husband, children, home, full-time job, and volunteer work. I have moved on now to magazine editing. My children are almost grown, and my new job requires that I travel frequently. I can hardly remember the days when airports made my stomach turn inside out. Blindness is one of the characteristics that define me. It means that I can't drive a car or read print. It also means that I am organized and have a well-trained mind two characteristics that most of my friends would give a great deal to possess. I still have room to grow. None of us has ever become all that we can. I frequently discover little pockets of cowardice and insecurity in myself, but by and large, I am free thanks to the National Federation of the Blind.

 

BLIND RAPE VICTIM BELIEVED

Historically, blind crime victims have found it almost impossible to identify their assailants to the satisfaction of the police. A local chapter president in Ohio, for example, has repeatedly identified the thieves who stole property from her, only to have the police refuse to bring the suspects in for questioning. Their excuse is that she is legally blind, and therefore her identification cannot be relied upon. The January 22 edition of the Indianapolis Star printed a United Press International story that should hearten all of us. It is clear from the article that the Chicago police were skeptical about the victim's identification, but she was consistent and absolutely certain, and eventually she was believed. Here is what happened:  

Blind Rape Victim Identifies Attacker Through Cologne

CHICAGO--A legally blind woman was able to identify a 14-year-old as the youth who raped her by smelling his cologne and feeling his hands, authorities said Sunday.

The 24-year-old woman whose eyesight is so poor she can distinguish only between light and dark was raped in the laundry room of her North Side apartment building Saturday night, police Lt. Lee Hamilton said.

Hamilton said the victim told him she noticed that a door was open in the hallway as she walked to the laundry room. A person emerged from that apartment and followed her to the laundry room, where he approached her from behind and raped her, Hamilton said.

Hamilton said the woman identified the youth three different times, once at his apartment and twice in police lineups. Police accompanied the woman to the apartment where she had noticed the open door, and the 14-year-old came to the door, Hamilton said.

The woman immediately identified the youth as her assailant, recognizing his cologne, he said. She identified him two other times when he was in a police lineup with four other men. I didn't think she could do it. But she went over to each man carefully, taking her time, and she picked him out. She said there was no mistake about it, Hamilton said. The woman told police she could positively identify the person who attacked her because during the attack she had grabbed his hand. It's unique. This is the first time this has ever happened from what I know, Hamilton said.

The alleged rapist ran away after the attack, leaving behind a used condom, police said. Police intend to run genetic tests on its contents, Hamilton said.

RECIPES

From the Associate Editor: My friends have resigned themselves to the fact that I am a hopeless Anglophile. I was an English major in college, and my husband is a professor of Shakespeare. In addition, we have lived for a total of more than two years in London, and our older daughter was born there. So when June comes, I remember with mingled nostalgia and amusement how things come to a halt in England for the tennis matches at Wimbledon. Early summer is also the time for those interminable cricket matches, which can and do often go on for days. The one thing that both these institutions of English sporting and social life stop for is afternoon tea. In England this is more than a light meal; it is in itself an institution. For those who don't dine at 8 (or later), it is the evening meal, often referred to as high tea. In this form it includes an egg or meat dish as well as bread and cake. But at Ascot, Wimbledon, or Lords and certainly at the Dorchester and Savoy Hotels or Buckingham Palace, the repast is more elegant if not lighter. In June strawberries and very heavy cream are a mainstay of afternoon tea, but usually fruit (except as jam or preserves) does not figure prominently in the meal. Thinly sliced bread and butter with all traces of the crusts removed, of course, is very popular. Crumpets (the English muffin is the closest we Americans get to this rather thin, round variety of yeast bread) are split, buttered, and toasted. Scones, a slightly sweet version of American biscuits, are served straight from the oven if possible with butter, jam, and (for the very thin or very daring) clotted cream.

Assorted tea sandwiches are frequently provided as a sop to those who believe that every meal should have some nutritional value. These danty morsels are cut very thin and spread lightly with filling. Cucumber, watercress, patŠ, tongue, and smoked salmon are the most characteristically English of the ones that come to mind. The first and last of this group are my favorites. It would almost be worth coming to an untimely end because of over-indulgence at the tea table to encounter smoked salmon every afternoon at 4.

Having disposed of the nourishing portion of the meal, one can move on to the sweet with a clear conscience. Here the choices are almost endless: Scottish shortbread, chocolate biscuits, iced cakes, pound cake, filled cakes and pastries of every description, and tarts. These last can be individual, filled with cream, custard, fruit, or jam; or the hostess may serve one large tart, which is cut like an American pie and eaten with a fork.

This entire feast is eaten while drinking what the English refer to as lashings of tea. There are many varieties, most of which are now available in the U.S. One must be sure, however, to make it correctly. This means scalding the pot first by pouring boiling water into it for a moment before making the tea. When the pot is quite hot, it is emptied quickly and the tea made with fresh boiling water and loose tea none of these American tea bags will do for the pure in principle. Most English drink their tea either white (with lots of hot milk added) or black (which means no milk and is a commentary on the preferred strength of the beverage). Sugar, often lots of it, is acceptable, and some people do use lemon. But don't make the mistake of trying both milk and lemon simultaneously. The lemon juice curdles the milk, and the resulting mess is undrinkable.

If you feel moved by the season to observe the tea time tradition this month, here are some recipes that will give you a head start.

ENGLISH SCONES AND CLOTTED CREAM
by Barbara Pierce and her Neighbor in London

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

cup shortening

cup milk

2 beaten eggs

1-1/4 cup rinsed, drained currants

cup strawberry jam

Method: Sift together dry ingredients and cut in shortening using pastry blender or two knives held scissor-fashion. Toss currants thoroughly with this mixture. Combine beaten eggs and milk and pour over currant mixture, stirring with a fork just until all flour is moistened. You can roll the scones out on a floured board and cut into circles or triangles to bake on a greased cookie sheet at 425 degrees until browned (about 15 minutes). You can also pat half the mixture across the bottom of a generously greased 8-inch round cake pan and up the sides. Spread the center with strawberry jam and put the rest of the scone dough across the top of the pan to seal the jam in. Bake this pan at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes. Cut scones in wedges.

To make the clotted cream that turns these scones into a dish fit for the gods, shake 2 cups of heavy cream with 5 teaspoons buttermilk for 1 minute in a screw top jar. Set this in a warm place (80 degrees) for 24 hours. Skim off the froth and refrigerate it until it is very cold. This will keep for up to a month. An electric yogurt maker is ideal for maintaining the 80 degree temperature an entire day.

SCOTTISH SHORTBREAD
by Peg Benson

Peg Benson is an attorney, practicing in Chicago. She is also an active Federationist. Her husband Steve is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind and President of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter or margarine

cup white, brown, or confectionery sugar

2 cups flour

teaspoon salt

Method: Cream the butter and sugar until light. Then beat in the flour and salt. Spread this stiff dough in an ungreased 9x9-inch pan and press edges down. Prick dough every half inch with a fork. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven 25 to 30 minutes. Cut in squares while still warm.

SHRIMP AND PARSLEY TEA SANDWICHES

by Peg Benson Ingredients:

pound cleaned, deveined shrimp

cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon dry sherry

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1/8 teaspoon peeled, grated ginger root

8 very thin buttered slices, whole wheat bread with crusts

removed

Method: Bring shrimp to boil in 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon dry sherry. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 1 minute, until shrimp are tender; Drain and chop. Then mix with mayonnaise, parsley, and ginger. Spread six of the slices of bread with the shrimp mixture and stack three of these together, shrimp salad-side up. Top with one of the buttered slices, butter-side down. Repeat with remaining four slices of bread. Press each stack firmly together, then place both in an 8x8 inch pan, lined with damp paper towels. Cover with more damp paper towels and plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To serve, cut each stack into 6-1/2-inch slices and then cut each of these in half crosswise. Makes about 24 tea sandwiches.

BLUEBERRY TEA CAKE

by Peg Benson Ingredients:

1 egg, beaten

2/3 cup sugar

1-1/2 cups sifted cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

teaspoon salt

teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

2 tablespoons sugar

Method: Beat the egg with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Add the sugar and beat well. Sift the dry ingredients together and add alternately with the milk, beating after each addition. Beat in the melted butter or margarine and vanilla. Fold in the blueberries and pour into a greased and floured 1-1/2 quart shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, until center springs back when pressed lightly with a finger. Serve warm with butter. This will feed 8 generously more at tea time when there are other goodies.

SPECIAL POUND CAKE

by Tami Jones

Tami Jones is the President of the Lansing Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. Her pound cakes bring astronomical prices at NFB auctions. They are worth every penny.

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) very soft real butter

1-2/3 cups granulated sugar

5 large eggs

2 cups cake flour

teaspoon salt

Method: Place slightly melted butter in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and beat until mixture is soft and light. Add eggs one at a time, stirring until mixture is uniformly moist and creamy. Sift together flour and salt. Add dry ingredients to the other mixture and stir by hand until batter is stiff and evenly mixed. Scrape the sides of the bowl at intervals, making sure that all flour is folded into the batter. Pour mixture into a greased and lightly floured tube pan or five-by-nine-inch bread pan. Bake at 300 degrees for one and half hours. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake slightly before removing from pan.

 

MONITOR MINIATURES

Fallen on Evil Days:

Time was when the Minneapolis Society for the Blind loomed large and rode high but no more. After losing its battle with the NFB of Minnesota, and then losing most of its programs, the Minneapolis Society for the Blind (known of late simply as MSB) has now had to merge with another organization, having no executive director of its own but sharing the one which the other organization had and continues to have. Here is the report from the February 10, 1990, St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch :

Blind Societies Name One Director

The St. Paul and Minneapolis Societies for the Blind have formed a joint administration of the two organizations. Stephen Fisher, 44, has been named executive director of both agencies, effective February 1. Fisher had held that position with the St. Paul organization for the past 17 years. Both societies will maintain separate identities and facilities, with one person directing the two. According to the boards of directors, this should assure better use of common resources, including leadership, staff, technical expertise, and volunteers.

**Elected:

At its first anniversary celebration on Saturday, April 7, 1990, the Kankakee Heartland Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois elected the following officers: Bill Isaacs, President; Mary Malone, Vice President; Beverly Coan, Secretary;

Ruth Isaacs, Treasurer; and board members Robert Sowell, Nora Bell, and Audrey Larocque.

**Buy and Sell:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Wanted VersaBraille II or II+ for reasonable price. For sale Bank Street Braille Writer in excellent condition, $150 or best offer; AM and FM BIT Talkman, reads Library of Congress books on 4 tracks, instruction manual on tape, $110 or best offer. Contact: Isaac Obie, 55 Waverley Avenue, Apartment 210, Watertown, Massachusetts 02172; (617) 923-3050.

**Without Our Sighted Members:

The following item appeared in the February 7, 1990, St. Louis Post-Dispatch :

Blind of Central Missouri

The Blind of Central Missouri, Inc., is an affiliate of the Missouri Council of the Blind, St. Louis, and the American Council for the Blind.

It is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations and fund raisers for its income.

Our purpose is to help the blind and partially sighted to remain mobile, independent, and productive, a report from the group says.

Among activities members participate in are Bingo, carry-in dinners, parties, and making Easter baskets for nursing homes. We try to help people in many ways and if we can't, we try to put them in touch with someone who can. This year we are helping a local Lions club with glasses for people in need.... We help teach Braille and make Braille labels for clothing and canned goods. We read mail and order talking book machines and cassettes for reading enjoyment. Without our sighted members, this would not be possible, the report says. **Mask:

Cherie Heppe, who is studying at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, writes:

I have discovered a place called Talk, Inc., where people can obtain steno or dictation masks for use in note-taking during lectures. A blind chiropractor, Jackie Booker, told me about them, and they will give a ten percent discount to blind students. The mask allows spoken note-taking, so just the critical material and not the entire lecture need be retained. It costs about $190, and the company needs to know the type of recorder being used in order to adapt the mask to it. Contact Talk, Inc., 455 Union Avenue, Westbury, New York 11590; (516) 333-1451.

**Pen Pal Wanted:

Noel Newby writes: Please send me the names and addresses of some blind people who would like pen pals in Grade 2 Braille. I am a sighted person who has learned Grade 2 Braille and am interested in using this knowledge. My address is: Northwest Nazarene College, Box 2381, Nampa, Idaho 83686.

**Voice Dialer:

A number of years ago (the Editor is either too busy or too lazy to look up the exact time you decide which) we carried an article on the Voice Dialer Telephone. It is our understanding that the corporation which developed and at that time was marketing the Voice Dialer went out of business. The Voice Dialer is apparently being marketed again, and by a new corporation. We do not know whether any of the principals of the original group are involved with the present group, nor do we know (since we have not seen one) whether any changes have been made to the instrument. Be that as it may, we have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Speaking Devices Corporation currently offers the Voice Dialer, which is a speech recognition telephone with the following features: Voice Dialing Simply speak a preprogrammed name into the handset to speed-dial a number. Voice Directory The telephone enunciates the name and telephone number for a prestored name. Security Modes Choose between the following three modes: free use of the telephone, preventing programming/erasing of the telephone memory, and blocking all out-going calls except for emergency numbers. Speaking Devices currently offers four versions of the Voice Dialer: 100 name capacity, $199; 75 name capacity, $174; 50 name capacity, $149; and 25 name capacity, $124. VISA and MasterCard accepted; there is an additional charge of $7 for shipping and handling and $3 charge for COD shipments. California residents add 7.25 percent sales tax. Speaking Devices Corporation, 2086-C Walsh Avenue, Santa Clara, California 95050; phone: (408) 727-5571; FAX: (408) 727-9351.

**Elected:

Gail Bryant, Secretary of the Columbia Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri, writes to say that on December 10, 1989, the chapter conducted elections. New officers are: Eugene Coulter, President; Tom Stevens, Vice President; Gail Bryant, Secretary; Sue Wunder, Treasurer; and Helen Stevens, Historian.

**Print Version Now Available:

In the February, 1990, issue we ran a Miniature announcing the publication (on tape only) of Parent Tips: The Challenge Years by Janiece Betker. A full description of the material covered in this second volume of Parent Tips appears in that notice. The text is now available in print as well as on cassette. The cost is $12.95, and orders for the print edition should be accompanied by an additional $2.00 to cover handling. The first volume of Parent Tips is still available in print and cassette and also costs $12.95 in either format. The $2.00 handling fee will cover the postage cost for both print volumes. Checks should be made payable to Janiece Betker and sent to 1886 29th Avenue N.W., New Brighton, Minnesota 55112, phone: (612) 639-1435.

**Correspondence Committee Meeting:

Pat Munson, Co-Chair of the National Federation of the Blind Correspondence Committee, writes as follows: Committee members and all other interested persons are invited to attend the NFB Correspondence Committee Meeting Monday, July 2, at 8 p.m., at the 1990 NFB convention in Dallas, Texas. All aspects of newsletter production will be discussed. Learn what you can do for a chapter newsletter, a state publication, etc.

**Organized:

Sharon Gold, President of the National Federation of the Blind of California, notifies us that on Saturday, February 10, 1990, a new chapter was organized in Tracy, California. Matthew Millspaugh, a past NFB scholarship winner, has worked hard to prepare the groundwork for this chapter since he moved to Tracy in December of 1989. The newly elected officers are: Matthew Millspaugh, President; Shirley Rodriguez, Vice President; Marie Frazier, Secretary; and Robert Weinberg, Treasurer.

**Hospitalized:

On Tuesday, April 24, 1990, Harold Snider (President of the D.C. affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind) was taken to the hospital because of severe chest pains. He spent the next two days in the intensive care unit for tests and observation. Apparently there was no heart attack but a problem with medication for blood pressure. He was released from the hospital Friday, April 27, and is now back at work, seemingly none the worse for the experience.

**Sell:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement: For sale, a slightly used JAWS computer program in excellent condition. $450. Contact Charlene Groves, 1899 Washington Valley Road, Martinsville, New Jersey 08836.