The Braille Monitor
Vol. 33, No. 11 October/November 1990
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint, Braille, on talking-book disc, and cassette by
FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
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THE BRAILLE MONITOR PUBLICATION OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
Vol. 33, No. 11 October/November 1990
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND: FIVE DECADES OF PROGRESS
NEWSLINE, AN EXCITING DEVELOPMENT
MORE TROUBLE AT THE IOWA
DEPARTMENT FOR THE BLIND
by Kenneth Jernigan
THE REHABILITATION SERVICES
ITS RELATIONSHIP TO BLINDNESS AND CONSUMERISM
by Nell Carney
BUDGET RENT A CAR SEES THE LIGHT
WATCH YOUR PENNIES
by Marc Maurer
LAUGHTER ABOUT BLINDNESS:
A DIFFERENT VIEW
by H. G. Jim Burns
BRAILLE: A SURVIVAL SKILL
FOR ALL BLIND PEOPLE
by Dawnelle Cruze
OUT IN BERWYN, ILLINOIS: DIALOGUE MAGAZINE GOES
by Barbara Pierce
UPDATE ON RECORDING FOR THE BLIND
BRAILLE READERS ARE LEADERS CONTEST, 1991
POVERTY AND PROGRESS IN
by Barbara Pierce
REPORT ON POLAND
by James Sanders
by Barbara Pierce
Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1990
[LEAD PHOTOS. PHOTO #1: Jacobus tenBroek standing a podium microphone at 1965 convention, Washington, D.C. CAPTION: The National Federation of the Blind has a rich and varied history. The twenty-fifth anniversary convention held in 1965 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., was one of our most memorable. Dr. Jacobus tenBroek (above) took an active part in the conduct of convention sessions. PHOTO #2: Audience seated during 1965 convention session. CAPTION: Below, conventioneers wait for a general session to be gaveled to order. Those with long memories or good powers of observation may recognize several of those pictured here.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Participants in the Five Decades of Progress panelstanding (left to right): Michael Baillif, Barbara Walker, Ruby Ryles, Marc Maurer, Ramona Walhof, and Barbara Pierce; seated (left to right): Tim Cranmer, Donald Capps, Joe DeBeer, Hazel tenBroek, and Kenneth Jernigan.]
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION
OF THE BLIND:
FIVE DECADES OF PROGRESS
From the Associate Editor: On Wednesday morning, July 4, delegates to the 1990 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind had a chance to reflect upon the fifty years of history that the organization celebrated throughout the week. A panel of ten participated by contributing their personal recollections. Dr. Jernigan, who chaired this agenda item, announced that every chapter, state affiliate, and national division was invited to place one item or small packet of material in a time capsule being prepared by the organization for examination in the year 2040. One of the first contributions will be a videotape of the July 4 general convention session. The retrospective segment of the morning's activities began with a twenty-six-minute-long cassette recording recently prepared by Dr. Jernigan and Ronald Meyer, which captures a number of exciting moments in the Federation's history. The tape was played for the audience, which sat transfixed while voices and moments from the past came to life again. The tape is available from the Materials Center at the National Center for the Blind for $2.00. The tape began with an introduction by Dr. Jernigan as follows:
It has been said that the conventions of the National Federation of the Blind resemble nothing quite so much as the gathering of the Scottish clans. We come together to renew friendships, show off our children, engage in feasting (and a little carousing), pray together and have fellowship, celebrate our victories, plan wars, lament our losses, welcome new members to the family, mourn for the departed, make foreign alliances, discuss business, contemplate the future, and remember the past. At our fiftieth anniversary it is especially appropriate that we remember the past.
Following this introductory paragraph, the cassette presented recordings of the call to order of representative Federation conventions back through the years, beginning with President Maurer's opening of the Denver convention in 1989. Then followed recordings of Dr. Jernigan's call to order of the conventions of 1984, 1976, and 1970. Next came Dr. tenBroek's opening of the 1967 convention in Los Angeles and the 1957 convention in New Orleans. Then came recordings from the 1950s.
Dr. Jernigan said:
"In 1956 we met at the Bellevue Hotel in San Francisco. It was the first time we had held a convention on the West Coast. We were in a period of growthand the hotel could not hold us. We met in the auditorium of the Masonic Lodge, and Dr. tenBroek called the meeting to order."
Next on the cassette were representative excerpts from significant banquet addresses back through the decades.
Dr. Jernigan: The focal point of our National Convention is usually the banquet. Last year in Denver there were so many of us that we not only filled the ballroom but overflowed into the lobby. President Maurer gave the principal address. He said:
"Our words, our thoughts, and our dreams reach for a tomorrow which is bright with promise, and the heart of that promise is the individual determination of each of us and the unshakable power of our vehicle for collective actionthe National Federation of the Blind."
Dr. Jernigan then continued: The 1987 convention marked the end of the first year of the Maurer presidency. In his banquet address, he talked of his experiences as a former federal employee. He said:
"Whether it was an airline, an employer, a department of government, or a service agency for the blind, what they said about blindness was always just about the same. I felt right at home. It was exactly like being back at Notre Dame. The blind are courageous; they will get a good grade; no need to work; and plenty of meaningless assignments. But since 1940 there has been a new element, a new force which has changed the balances. You know what it is as well as I do. It is the National Federation of the Blind."
Dr. Jernigan: 1986 was my final convention as President. We were meeting in Kansas City, and the banquet was one of our best. In concluding my banquet addresss I said: "At this convention we have elected a new president. Marc Maurer will make a good president. He will lead the movement with a firm hand, and he will lead with love and maturity. My brothers and my sisters, come! Let us move together into the third generation of our movement."
Dr. Jernigan: In 1981 we met in Baltimore. The National Center for the Blind had been established three years earlier and the delegates toured the facilities with pride. The downpour of rain did nothing whatever to lessen the enthusiasm. In fact, when we went to Washington to meet in our thousands on the Capitol steps, some of us wished for its cooling effects. The banquet was the climax of the convention. I said in the banquet address:
"Among times there is a time that turns a corner, and everything this side of it is new. Times do not go backward. For the blind the corner has been turned, and the time is now. To paraphrase the Biblical statement: Upon the rock of Federationism we have built our movement, and the very gates of hell shall not prevail against it!"
Dr. Jernigan: In 1976 we were meeting once more on the West Coastin Los Angeles. The banquet was symbolic of the mood of the delegates: reflective and determined. I said in the banquet address: "The road stretches on for decades ahead, and it stretches backward to the nightmare past of slavery and pain. Yes, I say slavery, and I mean exactly what I say. I use the word deliberately, for no black was ever forced with more absolute finality to the sweat of the cane fields or driven with more terrible rigor to the heat of the cotton rows than we have been forced to the broom shops and the backwaters and driven to the rocking chairs and the asylums. Never mind that the custody was kindly meant and that more often than not the lash was pity instead of a whip. It was still a lash, and it still broke the heart and bruised the spirit. It shriveled the soul and killed the hope and destroyed the dream. Make no mistake! It was slaverycruel, degrading, unmitigated slavery. It cut as deep as the overseer's whip and ground as hard as the owner's boot. But that was the pastanother time and another era. This is a new day!"
Dr. Jernigan: In 1973 the Federation met in New York City. We were at the height of our confrontation with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC), and we marched to NAC headquarters carrying a coffin for NAC's burial. At the banquet, we talked of the role of the blind in history. This is what I said:
"We've come a long way together in this movement. Some of us are veterans, going back to the forties; others are new recruits, fresh to the ranks. Some are young; some are old. Some are educated; others not. It makes no difference. In everything that matters, we're one; we are the movement; we are the blind.
"Just as in 1940, when the National Federation of the Blind was formed, the fog rolls in through the Golden Gate. The eucalyptus trees give forth their pungent smell, and the Berkeley hills look down at the bay. The house still stands in those hills, and the planes still rise from San Francisco to span the world. But Jacobus tenBroek comes from the house no more, nor rides the planes to carry the word.
"But the word is carried, and his spirit goes with it. He it was who founded this movement, and he it is whose dreams are still entwined in the depths of its being. Likewise, our dreams (our hopes and our visions) are part of the fabric, going forward to the next generation as a heritage and a challenge. History is not against us: The past proclaims it; the present confirms it; and the future demands it."
Dr. Jernigan: In 1990 we have published a history of our first fifty years. Its title is Walking Alone and Marching Together, the concluding lines of the 1968 banquet address. It was the year of Dr. tenBroek's death, and my first year as National President. This is how it went:
"In this time of transition, in this changing of the guard in the affairs of the blind, we might articulate our prospect and our vision by paraphrasing some words from the inaugural address of a recent President of the United States:
"Let the word go out from this place and this moment that the torch has been passed to a new generation of blind Americans, a generation born in this century and fully belonging to it, a generation committed to the belief that all men (seeing or blind) are capable of independence and self-direction, of attaining equality and pursuing happiness in their own way, of serving each other and helping themselvesof walking alone and of marching together. And march together we will!"
Dr. Jernigan: When we met in Los Angeles in 1967, all of us--including Dr. tenBroekknew that it would be his last convention. He delivered the banquet address. Here is how it ended:
"Through all the years and decades of our existence as an organized movement, for all our splendid success in gaining allies and winning public support, we have faced the persistent opposition of those whom we may rightfully call the "hard-core" custodians. The main thrust of their attack upon us has always been, and is today, that the blind people are not ready for equalitynot prepared for the burdens of freedomnot strong enough to stand upright and walk alone down the main streets of society. To this denial of equality by the agencies, the organized blind reply: we are not only equal to youbut we're also equal to your challenge."
Dr. Jernigan: In 1965 we met in the nation's capital, and more than a hundred members of Congress attended the banquet. Dr. tenBroek talked of our first twenty-five years. Here is what he said:
"So this is the twenty-fifth anniversary. It's a long time, and it's a great organization. Twenty-five yearsa quarter of a centuryhow much time is that? In the biography of a social movement, based on justice and equality, it is a measurable segment. In the life of a mansay, from his thirtieth to his fifty-fifth yearit encompasses the best years, the very prime, when experience, energy, intellect mingle in their most favorable proportions, before which he is too young, and after which (pardon me for saying it) he is too old. As a man who spent those twenty-five best years of life in and with the Federation, I have few regrets, immense pride, and boundless hope for the future."
Dr. Jernigan: In 1961 the Federation was torn asunder by civil war. Although the great majority of the members wanted Dr. tenBroek to continue as President, he was sick at heart as he contemplated the internal strife. He came to the podium to report to the members, and his message brought tears to most of those who were present. He said:
"In the past few years I've been called many things and compared to many people. In the February Free Press a new comparison bobbed up: I was compared this time to Julius Caesar. We all know what happened to Caesar. He was assassinated, and it was not just in character. In Shakespeare's version, Marc Antony came to bury him. Today, my friends, I play the role of Marc Antony. I come to bury Caesar. Today, in a few moments, I shall turn over the gavel. When I do, my resignation shall be complete and effective."
Dr. Jernigan: The highpoint of the 1956 convention in San Francisco was Dr. tenBroek's banquet address, "Within the Grace of God." We were in the opening stages of our battle for the right of the blind to organize. None of those who were present will ever forget the memorable climax of Dr. tenBroek's address.
"In the sixteenth century, John Bradford made a famous remark which has ever since been held up to us as a model of Christian humility and correct charity. Seeing a beggar in his rags groping along a wall through a flash of lightning in a stormy night, Bradford said: "But for the grace of God, there go I." Compassion was shown; pity was shown; charity was shown; humility was shown; there was even an acknowledgement that the relative positions of the two could and might have been switched. Yet despite the compassion, despite the pity, despite the charity, despite the humility, how insufferably arrogant! There was still an unbridgeable gulf between Bradford and the beggar. They were not one but two. How much more consistent with the facts of individual and social life, how much more a part of a true humanity, to say instead: `There, within the grace of God, do go I.'
Dr. Jernigan: In July of 1952 the Federation met in Nashville. It was my first national convention. It was also the first time that we had ever had an address by our President on nationwide radio. Dr. tenBroek spoke on the NBC network:
Announcer: "Blind men and women from all over the nation are gathering today in Nashville, Tennessee, for a four-day convention of their organization, the National Federation of the Blind. In our studios is the President of the National Federation of the Blind, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, of Berkeley, California. The National Federation of the Blind is the organization of the blind themselves. It is dedicated to the presentation of the problems of blindness as the blind see them, and to the solutions of those problems as the blind have worked them out.
"Dr. tenBroek has been blind since the age of seven. He holds doctoral degrees from the Universities of Harvard and California. He has taught law at the Universities of Chicago and Colorado. For the past ten years he has been a member of the faculty of the University of California and is presently also a member of the California State Social Welfare Board.
"Dr. tenBroek will speak on `The Role of the Blind in a Democratic Society.' NBC takes pleasure in presenting Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, President of the National Federation of the Blind, speaking by transcription from the studios of WSM in Nashville."
Dr. tenBroek: "I should like to ask you to join with me in seeking the answer to what may seem an easy question: Have the blind a right to a place in the sunor only to a shelter?
"In more convention terms, the subject I shall discuss with you this afternoon is the role of the blind in a democratic society. No doubt that sounds like a simple and straightforward issue, clear enough in its meaning if not in its solution. But I fear that the appearance of simplicity may be greatly misleading; and so before proceeding further I shall ask you to bear with me while I attempt to clarify the principal terms involvedthe big word, `democracy,' and that other term, `the blind.'"
Dr. Jernigan: The first recording of Dr. tenBroek's voice that we have was made at the 1952 national convention in Nashville. The banquet was held at the Andrew Jackson Hotel, and Tennessee's Governor Gordon Browning was present to introduce Dr. tenBroek. I was also at that banquet as master of ceremonies. Dr. tenBroek spoke on a familiar theme. This is what he said:
"It is thus no accident that, in the twelve years since the National Federation of the Blind was founded, significant gains have been made in the public assistance field, in vocational rehabilitation, and in other social services which improve the economic lot and cultural integration of the blind. The principles on which the National Federation of the Blind is founded reflect a positive determination to finish the process that has been begun and to effect a complete transformation of the social role of the blind, from helpless, pauperized, and segregated wards, held in social custody, to full and equal members in society as first-class citizens."
Dr. Jernigan: These have been the sounds of the first fifty years of the National Federation of the Blind. When the members gather to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the movement, perhaps they will remember and once again recall these voices from the past. If so, let this be our message to you of that generation:
We of the first fifty years worked to create a climate of public opinion and opportunity which would permit you to have equal treatment and full citizenship. We leave you a proud heritage and a strong vehicle for collective action. Take this heritage, this vehicle, this National Federation of the Blind. Use it. Cherish it. And never forget your link with those of us who went before you, or your obligation to those who will follow. Remember that no one can give you freedom: You must either take it for yourself, or not have it. This is a lesson which each generation must learn again.
We speak to you from the convention of the fiftieth year, and we send you our loveand our bond of union to last through the centuries.
Following the playing of this tape, Dr. Jernigan introduced the members of the panel, whose job it was to discuss their recollections of the Federation during the decade in which each of them joined the movement. Dr. Jernigan said:
Of course, it would be only appropriate to begin such a presentation by having words from the sole person, so far as I know, who is still alive and who attended the 1940 convention. That person is Hazel tenBroek. Before I put Mrs. tenBroek on, I want to say just a few things to you. You will recall that in a memorable passage in that twenty-fifth anniversary banquet speech, which you just heard, Dr. tenBroek said this: "The Federation was not born with a silver spoon in its mouth. The workers were few, and the cupboard was bare. Each month, if I may be personal for a moment, as we received our none-too-bountiful salary as a young instructor at the University of Chicago Law School, Hazel and I would distribute it among the necessities of life: food, clothing, rent, Federation stamps, mimeograph ink, and other supplies. So did we share our one-room apartment. The mimeograph paper took far more space in our closet than did our clothes. We had to move the mimeograph machine before we could let down the wall bed to retire at night." Now, lest any of you think that the mimeograph machine was merely a legend, let me tell you what the files from the Federation say:
May 12, 1941
The Young Office Equipment
210 North Adams Street
(I don't know whether it's still there or not.)
Attn.: Mr. R. E. Hoover
Dear Mr. Hoover:
Enclosed please find check number 16 in the amount of $67.94, payment in full on 78A mimeograph machine number 41601 as per contract dated May 7, 1941.
Thank you for your courtesy.
That's what the files say.
I could not pretend to do justice in introducing Mrs.tenBroek. Hazel tenBroek symbolizes the best in us all. She truly deserved to be the first of the first ladies. I have worked closely with her through the years, and she is everything that the legends say she is. Here is Hazel tenBroek. I'm going to hold the clock rigorously on the other members of this panel, but she can talk as long as she wants to.
This is a joyous time and a difficult time. We begin playing old records, and old memories begin to flood through one's mind. It's hard to sort things out.
I thought I might beginsince I just had permissionto let my mind wander a little more and settle a few old questions that everyone keeps asking.
Why was he called "Chick"? Mr. Riggs, an old gentleman who had been to the blind school with my husband, wrote me a couple of years ago. "We called him Chick because we thought his name was Chicobus." Other people had other ideas, but that is the one that seems to have stuck. It took time for a few of them to realize that he wasn't called Jake. His name was not Jacob but simply the Latin for James. Somehow he never did become Jim.
One amusing result of the James and Jacobus routine was that, when he received his doctorate from Harvardit was of course all in Latinhis name was properly written, Jacobus tenBroek. It was signed by Jacobus Conant, Jim Conant, who was the president of Harvard at that time. But the amusing thing is that it came addressed to James tenBroek.
Other things sort of wander through the mind at a time like this. There's the story I told to Dr. Jernigan the other morning about historians and history. We all look back through our own tunnels. A couple of friends of mine were discussing this fact. One was a highly renowned specialist in classic Spanish literature, and the other a respected Latin American historian with a world-wide reputation, and the classicist said to the historian, "But Woodrow, it's like this. Historians write the best fiction."
But back to the Federation. The National Federation of the Blind was born of historical necessity, but the birth was no surprise, given the events and the personalities involved. The 1939 amendments to the Social Security Act of 1936 imposed rigidly uniform application of federally dictated requirements on state clients for the Relief of the Poor. In many states these requirements removed more generous provisions than those contained in the federal law. States were thus forced to choose between receiving federal funding and going it alone. In California, for example, retention of certain funds for rehabilitative purposes would have to be sacrificed. Missouri and Pennsylvania, among others, faced similar choices. It was obvious that solutions could no longer be sought only in state houses. Answers would have to be found in the nation's capitol. It was equally obvious that a strong, unified voice of the blind, speaking together through their own democratically chosen representatives, was imperative.
The times were equally fortuitous for those who were to have a hand in forming the instrument to carry out the necessary mandates. Here is a little about the personalities in those times. Wherever he taught, students sought out Jacobus tenBroek for advice, whether he was their assigned advisor or not. These students instinctively knew that he cared. Life seemed to get out of hand for a number of them during the course of any semester, and Professor tenBroek would set them back on course. The most frequent query from these tortured souls was: "Why was I born?" The reply, however gently put, was always the same. "That is not a relevant question. The real question is, now that you're here, what are you going to do about it?" Jacobus tenBroek had been doing something about it all his life.
For the course titled "Do Something About It," Jacobus tenBroek had the most talented, knowledgeable, and brilliant teacher of this century. He was a man well versed in adversity, discrimination, and professional and intellectual rejection. There was no one who could do something about it as well as Dr. Newel Perry. Dr. Perry early realized the value of acting in concert. Soon after the turn of the century, Dr. Perry returned from an extensive sojourn in Europe and settled in New York City. He discovered that the conditions for work and education of the blind were deplorable. It was not long before he organized a group of blind persons to take action. By 1907 the Governor had signed a bill written, introduced, and nursed through the legislature by Dr. Perry and his group. It provided a state scholarship to cover readers for blind students who maintained good grades.
By 1940 Jacobus tenBroek, apt pupil of Dr. Perry, had had his bouts with adversity, discrimination, and intellectual and professional rejection. But he had arrived where he was by doing something about it. The representatives of the seven states gathered in Wilkes-Barre were all ready to do something. It is interesting to note what problems beset the general blind population during the ten years ensuing and how the NFB grew and took on those problems by doing something about them. In 1940 the organization was worried about amendments to the Social Security Act to enable states with more generous programs to retain the federal contribution. From the August 9, 1941, convention minutes, we note that states newly joined were Nebraska, Iowa, Louisiana, Washington, and Colorado. A number of others were announced as on the way.
In 1941 legislation was proposed to strike the clause authorizing the state agency to consider other income and resources of the recipient. Also introduced was legislation to strike the word "needy" from the Social Security Act and set a minimum pension of thirty dollars. There was a report of the finance committee, talk about ways to increase membership, and discussions of the need for representation in Washington, D.C. By August of 1941 there were resolutions about vending stands; employment policy; placement in employment and gainful employment; and, of course, exempt income. Later in the decade civil service, special needs, responsibility of relatives, discrimination, and wages in sheltered shops were added to the list. If you look at that list, you can see that was quite an agenda for the first decade.
In 1948 the minutes note, "After much discussion the president was instructed to find means to establish a monthly Braille or print publication of the NFB." It went on, "Also stated was the fact that states should support `the All Story legislative supplement,'" which Dr. Perry had convinced the American Brotherhood for the Blind to let him do. In the Federation it's always been communicate or perish. In the Federation, too, we must look to the past only for such strength as it gives us to go forward in the work we must all do. Let's go do that, and let's go do something about it.
Dr. Jernigan: Now we move to the next representative from the forties. Joe DeBeer was not present at the 1940 convention. Mrs. DeBeer was. Joe was unable to attend, but very shortly he was not only present at the convention but an officer in this organization. Many things happened in those early days. Before introducing Joe DeBeer to you, I want to give you some flavor of it. I have, as you will gather, dug through the files. I cannot speak from personal knowledge about the early forties. I joined this organization in 1949 and attended my first national convention in 1952. However, I have, as I say, dug into the files.
During 1990 we've worked with the National Library Service and others, attempting to institute a system insuring that teachers of blind children will know how to read and write Braille and requiring proof that teachers really possess that skill. I didn't sit through all of the Resolutions Committee meeting, so I don't know whether we have a resolution on Braille competence or not; but, if we don't, we might have done oneoh, something like this:
WHEREAS, many teachers have been given positions teaching the blind without a knowledge of Braille:
BE IT RESOLVED, by the National Federation of the Blind in annual convention assembled that we strongly recommend that no person be appointed in any school to teach the blind who has not successfully passed a rigid examination in the arts of writing and reading Braille Grade II and that this provision be made a statute in the several states.
We might write such a resolution, or perhaps we could just dig out the one that was passed in Baltimore in 1948, which is what I just read you. So the problem and the commitment have been with us for a long time.
In 1941 the files tell me that there were 104 persons present at the convention in Milwaukee. I believe that was Joe DeBeer's first convention. The files tell me that our best estimates as an organization were that in the entire United States only 5,000 blind people were actually employed in any waysheltered, whateverthat's all there were.
With that as a background, Joe DeBeer is from Minnesota. I want to introduce him to you now to talk about the Federation as he saw it in the early days. One of the early pioneers, here is Joe DeBeer of Minnesota.
Dr. Jernigan, President Maurer, members of the Board, and Federationists: I would like to mention a few things about the changes that took place in the first ten years of the National Federation of the Blind.
In 1939 we had a new governor in the state of Minnesota. He recommended that the blind get $21 a month for board and room. We went in to the governor and told him that was a cut in what we were receiving, and no person could live on it. He said, "I have no time for working with a bunch of blind people." So he told us to get out of the office. His secretary told him that was no way to do. So three days afterwards, we were there picketing the capitol for three days. We had papers printed saying exactly what the blind were receiving and what the governor recommended. In a few days someone told him that he'd better call in the blind because we had called the Associated Press, United Press, and all the radio stations we could get hold of. So he called and said, "Tell Mr. DeBeer we are ready for the committee." In the meantime, I had talked to the League of Women Voters. So we came with one hundred ladies of the League, twenty from organized labor, and seventy-five blind. They said, "How many are on your committee?" I said three hundred, so they had to open the sliding doors. It took a little longer to get the meeting started. The result was that, instead of getting a cut of ten dollars, we got a raise of twelve dollars.
In the beginning we worked very hard to get a White Cane Law passed. When companies were working on the sewer system, they never had barricades on the sidewalks. Several injuries resulted. It was the National Federation of the Blind that saw to it that they were compensated for their injuries. After that all the companies put up barricades when they were working on sidewalks because there was a great deal of publicity about it.
In the beginning it was very difficult to get an apartment because the sighted public had an idea that blind people were a fire hazard. So in big cities they would buy a hotel (an old, unfireproof building) that would house the blind. To the surprise of the public, no fires resulted, and in a short time you never heard any more that blind people are more of a fire hazard than the sighted public.
There was very little reading material available. Everything was Grade One or Grade One-and-a-half. Grade Two Braille was entirely too complicated for blind people to learn. The blind did not agree. So in the late 1940s some Federationists and other people wrote in that they wanted more Grade Two Braille inserted in the magazine. It was the Matilda Ziegler Magazine, I believe, that was the first magazine in Braille; and I have been a subscriber to it for over sixty years. Today, everything is in Grade Two Braille.
Then came the first recorder. It recorded on a spool of wire a little thicker than a human hair; and, when that got tangled, it really was a big mess. I had a spool of wire one time that got tangled, and it took me two hours to straighten it out. The wire recorder didn't stay on the market too long. Then we got the first tape recorder. It played automatically. It had a little crank with it that you could insert in the cassette so you could rewind it by hand. Shortly after that a fully automatic recorder came on the marketa great improvement. Now, of course, the American Printing House for the Blind recorder plays six hours on a cassette, and the voices are very natural. The greatest improvement is the amount of material that is available from the Library of Congress. For the first time the blind have almost the same opportunity that the sighted have had for years.
I interviewed some of the blinda new organization. I think they went into the investment business. Some Federationists are very successful at it. I play at it a little bit once in a while. I believe that the younger blind have much more of an opportunity to get into the mainstream of life than we had fifty years ago. Thank you, Dr. Jernigan.
Dr. Jernigan: I want to let you hear something that Joe DeBeer may not remember. Joe, the 1944 convention in Cleveland, if you will remember, was recorded in the way that we recorded things in those daysthat is, you had a court reporter there who took it down word for word. I want to read you a paragraph, Joe, that is titled Joe DeBeer Statement. Here's what you said in 1944. It's a fine statement. It shows you something of the mettle and the caliber of the people who set this outfit up.
"Mr. Chairman," he said, "we had several restaurants in Minnesota where they didn't allow guide dogs, and we asked about it and were told that they said, unless it was public property, they paid their taxes, and they owned the building. If they didn't want the dogs in there, they could keep them out. But we got around it by giving them publicity. The only way to do it there was to make it miserable for them." And his final sentence, "They didn't like the publicity, so they allowed the dogs to come in."
We're going to move on through the decades. Let me go back a little bit, though, to the records for you. This is our heritage. We ought to know about it.
Dr. Newel Perry was really quite an individualist and a rugged one. He would need to have been in those days. May 14, 1941, he wrote a letter to Dr. tenBroek, one sentence of which said, "a ship load of blinded soldiers, returning home from Europe, would stimulate our cause a good deal."
That's May 14 of 1941, you see.
April 12 of 1941, he said this to Dr. tenBroek. This was when Dr. tenBroek was getting some criticism from certain blind people about forming the Federation. So we were formed November 15 and 16, 1940. As of April 12, Dr. Perry said in his own terse way, "Waste no time in arguing with blind cranks. Thank them all graciously and ignore their criticism."
As I say, such is the caliber of the people who set this outfit up. I'll let you hear some other data, and then we'll go to the next decade. At the 1941 convention, as I say, there were 104 persons present. In 1942 the record says, "This committee estimates that the necessary budget of the National Federation of the Blind for the coming year will be $5,500." Signed, Dr. Newel Perry; Frank W. Hall (Minnesota); Emil Arndt (Wisconsin), the first treasurer.
1943. This is one you'll find interesting. You will observe, in one of the appendices in our book, that there were no conventions listed for 1943 or 1945. "Federation Executive Committee votes to comply (this is '43) with government request to postpone the 1943 convention. The Office of Defense Transportation has requested (this is a letter that Dr. tenBroek sent out to the members) the National Federation of the Blind and all other associations to hold no conventions this year unless such conventions are deemed necessary to promote the war effort. The Office of Defense Transportation has left it up to each organization to decide whether its meeting is essential in the war effort. President tenBroek has polled the members of our Executive Committee, and the Committee almost unanimously voted to postpone our 1943 convention." So this was postponed.
1946. "Gross income, National Federation of the Blind: (See if this sounds familiar to you) Gross income, $6,156.41. Gross expenses, $6,276.35. Deficit, $119.40." We've always been fighting to have enough money to survive on.
1946. "The banquet will be held Thursday evening (still Thursday there) at seven o'clock. Reservations, $1.50 per plate," it said. On the other hand, a dime then would buy you more than a dollar will now.
1947. "The rates for rooms at the hotel are as follows:
Single rooms run from $3 to $5.25 (we, by the way, are doing better than inflation on that one) with the majority in the $3 class and the $3.25. Double rooms are $4.50 to $6.75 with the majority posted at $4.50. Twin bedrooms run from $5.25 to $7.25. Banquet tickets (remember, we were in 1947, and inflation is setting in) Banquet tickets will cost $2."
1949. "Single rooms (this was in Denver'46, of course, was St. Louis; '47, Minneapolis; '48, Baltimore; '49 would have been Denver; and '50, Chicago) Single rooms, $3.50 in 1949 to $6. Double rooms, $6 to $8 (double bed), double rooms, $7 to $9 (twin beds)."
For whatever it's worth, in 1946, Kansas became the twenty-third affiliate; 1948, Kentucky became the twenty-seventh affiliate. By 1952 there were thirty-one affiliates.
1949. I want to give you just quickly the 1949 attendance by state to let you see how your state ranks nowadays with what you were in '49. Alabama, three people attended. Arizona, one person. California, sixteen people. Colorado (remember, we were in Denver, so this is the host affiliate), twenty-nine. Illinois, eighteen people. Iowa, two people. Kansas, three people. Kentucky, two. Maryland, one. Michigan, eleven. Minnesota, one of the big seven, the first ones starting it, seventeen. Missouri, also one of those seven, (so was California, of course) ten. New York, five. New Jersey, one. Ohio, in 1949 you had three people. Oklahoma, you had three. Oregon, you had two. Pennsylvania, you were one of the first seven; (it's different today) you had one person in attendance in Denver. Tennessee had four. Wisconsin had twenty. And Vancouver had one. Totaling 153, I'm told here. I didn't take time to count them. I assume those additions are correct. That gives you something of the color of the forties. The heritage is one of which we can be proud.
Let us now move to the fifties. How many of you, by the way, attended your first NFB convention in the forties, say aye. [scatter of single voices] How many of you attended first in the fifties, say aye. [small but enthusiastic chorus] I'll tell you, so did I. Our ranks are becoming thinner. How many of you in the sixties, say aye. [shout from many voices] The seventies. [louder shout from many more people] The eighties. [roaring noise] The nineties. [a shout comparable to that for the seventies] Okay, the future is secure. [cheers, laughter, and applause]
All right, here we come to the 1950's. I first met this man early in that decade. In fact, I had (we wouldn't have called it dinner) I had supper at his home early on in that decade. He's now the esteemed chairman of our Research and Development Committee. From Kentucky, I want to introduce to you next Tim Cranmer.
Let me tell you, this assignment is fraught with danger. I have no idea what he may pull out of the hator the records. Oh heavenshe threatens me. He has quotes from me.
Dr. Jernigan called some weeks ago and asked if I would participate in some reminiscing about the fifties. And I guess my only qualification is the fact that I was there. My memory is not as good as I would like. However, looking back on it, I can say to you that there were three factors that have lasted in my memory, probably cherished more each year. It was during the fifties that I met the people of the Federationthe people that brought it together, that made it work, and that had the greatest impact on my life. I will only mention three, and those three only briefly.
Dr. tenBroek was the first national leader that I had the privilege of meeting. You already know what a powerful orator and charismatic leader he was. I knew that when I first met him. What I didn't realize was how he worked on you in person, one on one or in a small group. And so it was the days just before the convention in Louisville that we met with Dr. tenBroek and went to dinner. He told jokes like ordinary human beings, and he laughed. You know, he had a physical condition that set him apart from all other peoplehe wore a goatee. We had much fun with him about that. But it was during those off hours and those off moments that I acquired a dedication and a love for this man who founded our movement. Throughout his life he continued to have a profound impact upon me.
There are two Kentuckians who were present at the first convention and, I think, at all the conventions of the fifties. They will be remembered by you, but not so well, I'm sure, and not with the same dedication that I have. Harold Reagan was our state president and a member of our National Board and certainly a leader long to be remembered. He is still quoted in Kentucky. He is still referred to frequently as the authority on the history and the philosophy of the Federation and as the mentor of all of us. The only other person from Kentucky that I would mention is Bob Whitehead. He came on in the late fifties in a leadership role, and he became our state president and served on our National Board. He, too, continues to be an inspiration to all of us.
There were issues in the fifties, and they were not too different from the issues of today. Basically they were issues of discrimination. The one that affected me most dealt with employment. We were trying to open the federal register for civil service examinations so that blind men and women could seek and compete for federal employment. That was the year I first entered state work as a placement counselor. Every day I was going out, facing the employers and trying to persuade them to hire blind people, trying to demonstrate their competence. Among the employers that I was calling on were the federal agencies. So, when the national convention came to our city and was talking about the issue of breaking into the federal register, I was a ready supporter and was there with them.
On the less political side, I want to say to you that the experience of the first convention has stayed with me today, and it is manifested in my walking and in my carrying proudly my white cane. Because it wasn't until that year at that convention, the first convention of my experience, that I realized it was okay to be blind.
That's the main thing I learned. In closing, I want to make just one other observation. I'm asked often by interviewers for one kind of quote or another: What was the most important thing in the last twenty or thirty or forty years in the lives of the blind? What's the most important technology today? What can we look for in the future as the most important thing? And I would say to you that I have three answers to that. The most important thing in my past was the National Federation of the Blind. The most important thing in my present life is the National Federation of the Blind. And you can help me answer, what is the most important thing in our future? The National Federation of the Blind! Thank you, Dr. Jernigan.
Dr. Jernigan: Thank you, Tim. We will have to move. I see that we're moving in on time very sharply, but we have more people to hear from.
Also in the fifties, a man that I met mid-decade, from South Carolina, the senior member of the National Board at the present time (I believe his first convention was 1956, a memorable convention). When I think of Don Capps, I think of integrity. Don Capps is a member, a Board Member, a leader of this organization whom we can be proud of. Don has reminiscences, I'm sure, of the fifties. I want to introduce him now. Here's Donald Capps.
Dr. Jernigan, President Maurer, Mrs. tenBroek, fellow Federationists: It's a signal honor for me to have this tremendous opportunity to participate in this golden anniversary convention of the National Federation of the Blind and to discuss the decade of the fifties. I like to think of it as the fabulous fifties. They really were in many respects.
This is the thirty-fifth consecutive annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind that I have attended. Incidentally, in thinking about the centennial anniversary convention, I see no reason why I shouldn't join Dr. Jernigan. And, Dr. Jernigan, I'm prepared to sign a pact with you to be present in 2040 for that convention if it's agreeable with you.
There were four of us in 1956 from South Carolina, attending the national convention in San Francisco. Of course there was Betty, who's always been at my side, and then there was Lois Bolden Tucker and her sister, Lucille Townshend. Incidentally, At the 1956 convention Lois Bolden Tucker saw a PBX Braille switchboard for the first time in her life. She was fascinated. For some years Lois had struggled in a low-paying vending facility and wanted a career change. When she returned to South Carolina, arrangements were made for her to have that training, and she secured a job through the assistance of the Federation. There was no Job Opportunities for the Blind program in 1956, but I believe that that was an early JOB success. It has made a tremendous difference in her life. She served as a Braille switchboard operator for more than thirty years and has recently retired.
Betty and I, along with Lois and Lucille, made the long, 3,000-mile trip across the country from South Carolina to California in a 1954 Chevrolet that was mortgaged to the hilt. There was no air conditioning in that fifty-four Chevroletnot many automobiles in 1954 had air conditioning. And it got hot; it got mighty hot before we arrived in California. It took about a week to go across the country.
In 1956 I met the two real mental giants in this beautiful movement you and I know today as the National Federation of the Blind: Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, our distinguished founder, and Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, our long-time leader.
I recall very clearly the magnificent banquet address Dr. tenBroek delivered at the 1956 convention entitled "Within the Grace of God." It really made a tremendous impression on me. I was so fascinated and interested in that speech that, when I returned home to Columbia, I went to the radio station, and I persuaded them to broadcast it. Dr. Jernigan, I suppose that was one of the first public service announcements, lasting more than thirty minutes.
I was fortunate enough to be invited as a state leader to a seminar at the University of California immediately following the 1956 convention. We discussed many things pertaining to blindness and programs for the blind and about state and federal laws affecting those programs. That seminar had a tremendous impact upon me. I recall very clearly the woeful inadequacies of programs for the blind. These revelations disturbed my soul so deeply that I declared that, once I returned to South Carolina, I would do my very best to change the situation.
I learned other things in 1956 of equal value. Like Tim Cranmer, for the first time I truly accepted the concept fostered by the NFB that it is respectable to be blind.
I also learned another important truth in 1956--that as Federationists we must put service above self. You cannot be a complete Federationist if you do not put service above self. As a matter of fact, the 1956 convention breathed new life into me as a blind person.
In 1955 there were thirty-three state affiliates. In 1956 nine new state affiliates joined the National Federation of the Blind, and our ranks became forty-two. Soon there would be forty-eight, then fifty, and ultimately fifty-one with the District of Columbia. As you can see, long before many of us, people were out there on the barricades, recruiting members and state affiliates, and we owe a debt of gratitude to them.
As our ranks grew, so did our prestige, influence, and power to the extent that they troubled the established blindness system in those days. Many sheltered workshop managers and agency directors resented the power and positions which we took concerning what was best for the blind of the nation. Soon it became apparent that we needed to do something about intimidation and reprisals. If blind sheltered workshop employees and blind staff members of agencies throughout the country dared to join the National Federation of the Blind in the fifties, they were intimidated; threatened with reprisals; and, in some cases, dismissed. It was in 1957 that the Right to Organize bill was introduced into the Senate by then Senator John F. Kennedy and into the House by Congressman Walter Baring from Nevada. That legislation had two cardinal provisions. One, the blind have the right to organize without interference and harassment by administrators of programs for the blind. Two, the blind have the right to speak and be heard. While that legislation never became law, it received such widespread coverage and endorsement that the concept expressed in the legislation became a reality.
In any large organization which develops tremendous influence, there are times when there are family problems. There were difficulties in the 1950s, ultimately referred to as our Civil War. At the New Orleans convention in 1957, when I was still a rookie, I was invited to the suite of one Durward McDaniel, who developed into one of the key players in the coming strife. Although I was inexperienced and without a great deal of knowledge about the internal workings of the National Federation of the Blindafter all, I had been a member for only one yearMr. McDaniel discussed with me the merits of amending the national constitution. He spoke of making it more democratic in character, of limiting the times and terms of officers. It sounded sensible to me at that time, but I soon learned that it wasn't that he was concerned about the democratic process, but that he had lost the nomination for second vice president a year earlier.
I recall, as the civil war developed and more and more of us were becoming concerned about the effectiveness of the National Federation of the Blind, there was a very important convention in 1959 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The nominating committee got under way at about midnight, following a long day's convention. That nominating committee meeting lasted until three a.m. My colleague that year, Mildred Kirkland of Charleston, served on the nominating committee, so I got much more sleep than Mildred and some others got. The next morning, as the elections came up, Mildred punched me and said, "Oh, by the way, Don, you were nominated for Second Vice President last night."
The NFB survived the internal strife and the civil war. We came out of that unfortunate period much stronger and more united. We were strengthened in character, spirit, and soul.
Despite strife and civil war, the National Federation of the Blind in the fifties began to receive recognition from various state and federal officials. Several governors invited the NFB to send in teams to evaluate their programs. I had the privilege of participating in a 1958 survey of the West Virginia agency for the blind. Betty and I were assigned the opportunity and privilege of calling on blind persons who were recipients of what was referred to then as ANByou guessed it, Aid to the Needy Blind. Now that has been made more sophisticated in recent years because they refer to it as SSI today. But I recall very clearly more than thirty years ago that Betty and I would complete the day's work and return to our hotel room to reflect upon the plight of the blind of West Virginia. And if I needed anything to inspire me to go forward, West Virginia certainly helped. In that year our son Craig was three years old, and our daughter Beth was three months old, and there was scarcely money for travel, much less for personal needs. We had to scrape up the money to pay for a baby sitter to take care of the kids while we were gone for a week. So we have progressed, and we have a strong and viable heritage. I would challenge you to do the following: There is nothing more rewarding than to recruit a new member for your chapter, your state, and for the National Federation of the Blind. When you leave this golden anniversary convention, go back home and get to work on it. Thank you.
Dr. Jernigan: Now, we have six people left. I'm going to hold the clock tightly on you. The first four have been indulged by the chair because it's a proper thing to do. We're coming down now to recent times, coming to the sixties. And so you're going to get somewhere between four and five minutes, and not one second more. Therefore, time yourselves if you will.
The first one of those is a current member of the National Board. She attended her first convention in the 1960's. She has made many contributions to this organization and is one of the most vibrant of the leaders at the present time. I want to introduce to you the president of the NFB of Idaho, Ramona Walhof.
Dr. Jernigan came to Iowa in 1958 as Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. He regarded it as a Federation job. I graduated from high school in 1962 and became one of Dr. Jernigan's students. I heard about the Federation but did not join and was not urged to go to the national convention in Detroit that year. Later I asked Dr. Jernigan why that was. And he explained that the last several conventions had been so terribly difficult that there was real concern about inviting new people until it was certain that the bitter squabbling was completely over.
Dr. tenBroek visited us in Des Moines on his way to California from Europe. He had been attending the meeting of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind. Dr. tenBroek's visit was impressive and a bit flattering, but I had no desire to get involved in another group of blind people right then.
Dr. Jernigan used to maneuver me into doing things I would rather not have done. I suggested that there should be a sewing class at the Iowa Commission for the Blind, and I was told to go and buy sewing machines. I had no desire to go on this trip, and I didn't know how to buy sewing machines. But I went, and we got the job done, as Ruth Schroeder (the home ec teacher) will tell you.
I went to college in Washington, D.C., and in 1965 the convention came to me. Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Robert Kennedy both made appearances at that convention. Nearly one hundred Congressmen and Senators attended the banquet.
Dr. tenBroek's banquet address was "The Federation at Twenty-Five." I learned two important things at that convention. One was that the Federation needed me, and the other was that I needed the Federation. And that's what surprised me. The Federation needed me. Those two things are still the most important for everyone of us in the organization.
In 1965 I met Gysbertus Veldhuizen from Wisconsin. I had learned the Iowa lessons of independent cane travel and self-confidence. Mr. Veldhuizen taught me about other techniques. I had never considered them. He said, "I have been encouraged to learn independent travel and would like very much to do so, but I haven't had time, and I can hire all the help I need." He paid a full-time guide to accompany him to the convention and ran a very successful business. It was the first time I had ever met a blind person who was rich.
Gysbertus Veldhuizen also told me about when he and his family moved to the United States from the Netherlands. He was five years old at the time. The family was retained on Ellis Island for several days. Why? Because Gysbertus was blind. That made a deep impression on me and caused me again to want to do what I could for the Federation and the blind.
At the convention in Los Angeles in 1967 we formed the Student Division of the NFB. It is hard to believe now but from outside of Iowa there were only three blind college students at the convention.
During the next year the Student Division wrote the first NFB book, The Handbook for Blind College Students. We were learning everything from scratch. We had to learn about printing and binding and distributing. We ordered 500 copies of the Handbook and wondered what we would ever do with them all. Almost immediately the Library of Congress ordered 500 copies of the Handbook, and we had to print some more. No one was as amazed as the officers in the Student Division.
Shortly after the 1967 convention Jim Gashel and I (Jim Gashel was the president of the Student Division and I was the secretary) went to Montreal to do some work. After we returned home, Dr. Jernigan phoned Dr. tenBroek so we could tell him about the trip. Dr. tenBroek was warm and enthusiastic. He asked what country we were planning to do next. We told him we were considering some organizing of members in Illinois, where there was no affiliate. His answer was immediate. He said, "Well, that's a foreign country."
The NFB had affiliates in fewer than forty states in 1967. Members of the Student Division helped to organize many during the next six years. Sometimes it was like going to a foreign country. We talked to people who were thrilled and happy to meet with us and others who were hostile and angry. There were still deep scars left from the NFB civil war.
I myself helped to organize in Illinois, Kansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Michigan, and Washington State during 1968 and '69. Some individuals who attended those conventions and those organizing meetings are very well known today. They are Rami Rabby, Steve Benson, Allen Harris, and Hazel Staley.
I first met President Maurer in 1969--you guessed itat an organizing meeting, this time in Michigan. Also in 1967 the NFB of Idaho succeeded in getting the legislature to create the Idaho Commission for the Blind. It was an impressive accomplishment, and there were only two or three members from Idaho at the national convention. It was hard to understand how they had succeeded. One of them was Chuck Walhof, who later became my husband. He told me how it worked. Ten or fifteen blind people without training or much sophistication went to the legislature every single day until the bill passed late in the session. They sat in the House and the Senate galleries, and they talked to the Senators and Representatives every chance they got. They believed it was persistence that worked.
This gave the Federation the opportunity to make a huge improvement in another state agency for the blind. I was fortunate enough to be in Idaho soon after it all got started. The 1960s were an exciting time to be in the Federation. We knew that what we were doing affected blind people, and we ourselves were learning and gaining confidence every step of the way. In many ways the Federation really hasn't changed since then.
Dr. Jernigan: Okay, we're moving along through the decades. The next person I'm going to introduce really needs no introduction from me. He serves as President of this organization, and, Mr. President, you have four minutes, and no more.
Thank you, Sir. One thing I wonder about as I come to this particular meeting of the Federation. When I joined the organization, I used to listen at night to the words of Dr. tenBroek, and they encouraged me. I wonder what he listened to.
I joined the National Federation of the Blind in 1969. The first convention I attended occurred in Columbia, South Carolina, at the Wade Hampton hotel. In some senses the Federation of that day no longer exists, but the underlying urgency for self-organization, the goals to be achieved, and the spirit of our movement are the same today as they were then. I was just out of high school and wondering what my life would be like. I had imagined working in a carpenter's shop. The convention was a revelation. I had not known that blind people could be engaged in such a wide variety of occupations. This revelation occurs again and again. The wonder I felt at my first Federation banquet is a part of me today. I sat in the banquet hall with my blind brothers and sisters and heard Dr. Jernigan proclaim for all of us our intention to gain independence, to achieve genuine productivity, to secure our freedom.
When I was growing up, I don't remember anybody's telling me that blind people were second-rate. But even without hearing it directly, I got the idea. My teachers believed that my performance in school, while they said it was impressive enough, wasn't really very important. I was a blind student. You could expect high achievement from some students but not from the blind. My future, according to them, was circumscribed by a very limited set of opportunities. Although I would not have admitted it, I felt the same way.
I swam a great deal as a boy. A mile was no problem. It took only time. One afternoon, I came to the pool I had been using for years. A lifeguard who didn't know me well asked me to stay out of the deep water. He said that as a blind person I would be more difficult to watch. I thought the request was odd. But I complied. I didn't know any better.
Today I ask myself, what made it so difficult? Blind people are not harder to spot in the water, they are not more transparent, and they are not smaller. Yet I accepted his explanation and swam in the shallow water.
But those were the sixties, and these are the nineties. When I came to the national convention, the whole atmosphere was different. Sometimes the message was driven home directly. You can be productive and you had better work hard to insure that you are. Sometimes the behavior of the people involved was more significant than the words they used. I had never before been asked to take an active part in an enterprise of such far flung objectives, such combined resources, and so many members. My opinion counted. The Federation leadership and members said to me, "Come, help us make the lives of the blind better," and they meant it. Although there were several hundred people at the convention in 1969, the voice of Dr. Jernigan spoke specifically and directly to me. The Federation was personal. It still is. Hundreds of us at that wonderful meeting felt that the problems we faced were those of the Federation, and those of the Federation were ours. We still feel that way.
Today our movement is bigger than it was when I joined. In 1969 our National Office consisted of a few small rooms at the Randolph Hotel Building in Des Moines. A few more than 700 people attended the banquet that year. The convention agenda was less than half the length of the one we are now using. There were only half a dozen committees and three divisions. Twenty-five committees and sixteen divisions accomplish much of the integrated work of the organization in 1990. Our National Office is the largest facility of its kind in the nation. We number our convention participants in the thousands, not the hundreds.
But with all of our expansion, with all of our growth and progress, and with all of the changes we have made, the National Federation of the Blind is still the same organization that I joyfully met in the sixties.
Shortly after becoming a member, I began my studies at the university. One day a letter intended to persuade students not to smoke was delivered. It said that smoking was largely a visual pleasure. Blind people, the writer believed, didn't smoke as much as the sighted because they didn't have the enjoyment of watching the smoke rings. After reading this letter, I was glad that the National Federation of the Blind had been established, that it was alive and well, and that I was a part of it. The problems we as blind people faced were too great to be solved by a single individual or a small group. They still are. But with collective action there isn't any difficulty we can't resolve. This is what I felt in 1969. That feeling is still with me, and there are many thousands of Federation members who share this determination. Our increased size and diversification have not dampened our enthusiasm. In fact, the very opposite has occurred. With the experience of the years we have gained fervor and determination. The wonderful fellowship of the Federation and the objectives for which we are striving have not changed. There is a song. It is called "The Wheeler Dealers." The last line says, "As long as we've got money, that's enough."
It isn't, but there's another thing that it brings to mind. As long as we're the National Federation of the Blind, that's enough.
Dr. Jernigan: Thank you very much. We now move to the next decade. I have first urged, then cajoled, and now I will wield the gavel strongly and firmly.
The seventies. The two Barbaras are going to talk to us for the seventies. And they're both fine people, as you know as well as I. They are both state presidents. One of them, the first, is my esteemed colleague, who is Associate Editor of the Braille Monitor and who also handles our public relations at these conventions. I first met her quite a number of years ago. She can tell you about that if she wants to or anything else in four minutes. Barbara Pierce.
Luckily, President Maurer has just said a good bit of what I intended to say, which will help me with my four minutes. Because I think it's important. As I trace for you what I saw happen in the seventies, you will see the kind of growth that took place during that decade.
At the beginning of 1974, I had only vaguely heard of the National Federation of the Blind. I had read some publications by the American Foundation for the Blind, and I knew that there was a gaggle of hysterical fanatics out there on the edge of rational human activity, known as the National Federation of the Blind, and that's about all I knew. Then someone brought a stack of literature to my home, and it was the most amazing phenomenon I have ever experiencedthat weekend that I spent reading and being converted to Federationism.
I should tell you that Dr. Jernigan informs me that at that time, the Braille Monitor had a circulation of roughly three thousand. Today that circulation is thirty thousand. Just a zero's difference. I can tell you that I waited every month for that magazine to get to my door. I consider that I was extremely lucky to be one of the three thousand who were reading it at that point.
These are the kinds of things that I was learning about. I didn't know anything about blind people. I had stayed away from them. But I began to learn about these things. The Cleveland Society for the BlindI live thirty miles from the Cleveland Society, which was telling blind vendors when to change their underwear. The Minneapolis Society for the Blind was making people like Lawrence Kettner sign waivers on their minimum wages because the staff had arranged things so that they couldn't work efficiently in the sheltered workshop, so they went out by themselves and found competitive employment at significantly higher wages with the help of the National Federation of the Blind. Dr. Jernigan had just finally thrown in the sponge after a period of martyrdom, serving as the only voice of rationality on the NAC board, the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped.
By the end of the seventies, we were beginning what we called then the cane wars. We began to have our troubles with the airlines in the seventies. Those were the issues that we were struggling with at that time. And how were we financing our work? Well, those of you who were around in the seventies will remember the Ludwig Candy Company. Remember that name? You all think that you have a lot of candy surrounding you now with the M & M's (which Ohio is selling) and the other candy for sale, but I'm telling you the entire National Federation of the Blind was selling Ludwig candy in the mid-seventies.
We've progressed further. The seventies also saw the beginning of the PAC Plan, the Pre-Authorized Check Plan. That's when we started to get serious about how we were going to raise money to allow this movement to have an annual budget of over the $5,500 a year that Dr. Jernigan referred to earlier.
We began the leadership training seminars in the seventies. The first of those took place in 1973. These were long weekends in which people got together with Dr. Jernigan and learned as much as we could, like little sponges sopping up what our history has to teach us and how this organization functions, so that we could go out and be leaders across this nation. And that program has made a profound difference.
The Washington Seminars began in the seventies. We began going to Washington in an organized way and having an effect on Congress. And we began NAC-Tracking in the seventies: traipsing around after NAC and standing outside, telling the public what was going on.
We had our troubles in the seventies, too. There were a few people who thought they'd try a rerun of the civil war, and we simply dealt them out in a big fat hurry and went on with our work.
The end of the seventies, I think, says it all. We started with a readership of 3,000 or so on the Braille Monitor. We ended with the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland. It was quite a decade, brothers and sisters. Thank you very much.
Dr. Jernigan: A heritage indeed to be proud of. Now, for the other representative of the decade of the seventies. She is a person, again, who is quiet, unassuming, but steady and firm. President of the NFB of Nebraska, here's Barbara Walker.
It was December 4, 1974. I sat in Dr. Jernigan's office at the Iowa Commission for the Blind. I had spent the two previous days observing the Commission's programs for the purpose professionally of broadening my education and getting some direction as a rehabilitation teacher of the blind.
But I had personal reasons for being there also. I had heard much about the Commission and the Federation. I wanted to know if the Commission really was all that it was cracked up to be and wanted to know why Federationists from Iowa kept coming to Nebraska to deal with legislative and other matters which I presumed were none of their business. I had also wondered why Nebraska Federationists seemed to welcome what I saw as interference from these Iowans.
I went to Dr. Jernigan's office that day with a list of questions: "Why are Federation convention rates so low?"; "What is meant by ACB-type groups?"; "Why does dual membership seem to be all right with the ACB but not with the NFB?"; "Don't Federationists use sighted people for what they need and then sometimes claim to have done the things themselves?"; "Why just the blind? What about other handicaps?"
After dealing straightforwardly with these issues, we came to the real crux of the matter. I acknowledged that the Federation seemed to be working well in Iowa. People were really pulling together to make a positive difference for the blind. But it was different in Nebraska. Folks got together in the chapter in Lincoln (my home town), I said, and had cake and coffee, socialized some, maybe even agreed to work on something; but then went home and, likely as not, complained about what had been decided and backbit one another about it.
Dr. Jernigan listened patiently to what I now know, having been around awhile, may have been the millionth time he may have heard such things. Then he calmly asked me, without judgment or malice, "And what are you doing about it?"
I sat for a moment reflecting on what I had just done. I had just told the national president of an organization to which I didn't belong what was wrong with a local component of that organization, where I could be (but hadn't been) doing something about it. Having already discovered during that visit that I had many misconceptions about the Federation and its workings, I decided that the very least I could do was to go back to my job and the Lincoln chapter of the Federation and look upon both with the love and respect I had been shown, and with the new understanding of the Federation's approach to issues which I was gaining.
I left that meeting personally exhilarated by the growing conviction that I had found the key to improving my life and the lives of other blind people. I was also keenly aware that what I was about to do was not going to be easy. It was not without some flak that I joined the Federation in January of 1975. Many of my friends and associates thought I was grasping for pie in the sky and abandoning loyalties. There were snubs, confrontations, and some hard feelings. But the issues have become clearer to me, and I discovered there was much I could do.
Within a month after I joined, I was elected president of the Lincoln chapter. I found myself dealing immediately with controversy over a pamphlet put out by our National Office. I once again received patient and respectful guidance from President Jernigan. In May of that year I watched our national representative, Mrs. tenBroek, lovingly turn a frustrated crowd into a working body during one of our state convention sessions. And in July of that year I experienced the magic of my first national convention. That was where I became inextricably a part of the Federation family. It was there I committed myself to involvement in NAC demonstrations; improvements in Nebraska's school, agency, and library for the blind, etc.; and other issues facing us as blind people no matter how controversial things might become, because I believe in the rightness of doing so.
But as I have worked over the years in various capacities in this organization, I have remained convinced that it is not what we do that makes us so strong, important as that is. Our real strength lies in our love, respect, and commitment to one another.
As many of you know, my husband Jim, himself a staunch Federationist, died suddenly of a heart attack a year ago June 19. This past year I have tried to fulfill the pledge I made to you at our convention in Denver to continue the cause to which he dedicated his life. As some of you know, grieving is itself very hard work, and there have been times when it has threatened to consume me. But the presence and strength of God's, Jim's, and your love have not allowed that to happen.
Time does not permit me to elaborate on the specifics of what President Maurer, Dr. Jernigan, and others of you too numerous to mention have done for me. Perhaps the lyrics of a song I gave Jim on our eleventh and final wedding anniversary can best express the kind of love which I believe is the foundation of our Federation. The song is from a Glenn Yarbrough tape Jim purchased at one of our Community Outreach concerts. With a couple of minor modifications, it says:
Something very special,
Stronger than the granite in the hills, We are a family;
Willows in the windstorm.
Bending, always standing, is our love.
Something very precious,
Woven with fragile threads of silk,
We are the fabric
Filled with brilliant colors.
Delicate and shining is our love.
We haven't just been lucky.
You and I have earned this love we share.
Sometimes it's magic!
Comfortable and gentle,
Strong, and yet so tender, is our love.
And after all the trees have fallen,
And stars no longer shine,
All we share together
Will outlast even time.
And forever I will love you.
That's the kind of love Jim and I shared, and it's the kind of love that undergirds this Federation. When I joined, I did it because I felt the need to deal with certain issues concerning the blind, and the Federation offered both the vehicle and the philosophy through which positive change could be made, and dignity and respect maintained. I continue to dedicate much of my time and energy to the Federation because of the real lives of the real people which those issues affect. It is, I believe, a worthwhile struggle.
In closing, I would like to ask each of you, particularly when times are tough and you're tempted to quit working or to complain about other Federationists, to listen, as I do, for that quiet yet compelling voice asking: "And what are you doing about it?" And to try to find answers which will preserve our foundation of love and respect.
Dr. Jernigan: The 1980s we now come to. As often happens with the junior members of families, you get the last of the shortest. We're going to cut each of you to about three to four minutes. It'll be closer to three. It is appropriate, by the way, that we have for the 1980s a student and a parent. We're going to begin with the president of the Student Division. He is a worthy part of the membership and leadership team of this organization. He's Michael Baillif. Michael started out in an uncomplicated way being a Californian, and I'm not sure where Michael says he's from now. Anyway, here is the president of the Student Division. Michael, demonstrate to me that you've got discipline as a student. You've got between three and four minutes, closer to three. Here's Michael Baillif.
Thank you Dr. Jernigan. It was 1984. I was seventeen years old. The NFB was forty-four years old. I was a very young and inexperienced scholarship winner. Very early one morning, I recall standing outside a Phoenix, Arizona, Hyatt Regency thinking, wondering who these people were. What was this organization all about? Everyone was wearing suits and making speeches. Particularly puzzling to me was this "Glory, Glory Federation" stuff everyone was always singing about. Well, then an event happened which seemed small but made a great impact upon me. Blind people began to walk out of the hotel. One by one, hundreds and hundreds of blind people began to issue forth from that hotel. Some were going to breakfast; some were going to the convention session early. All were traveling independently, laughing, talking about the convention and the day's events. I had just an inkling of the kind of incredible people's movement the NFB really was. Later that same morning I sat in the convention sessions and listened to the agenda items. I was struck by an amazing thought that had never occurred to me. There really was discrimination out there. As a blind person, I was a member of a minority group. And the National Federation of the Blind was the best, probably the only, way in which to address discrimination and move toward first-class citizenship.
I learned something else a couple of days later. One morning Sharon Gold, Sheryl Pickering, and I were walking to a session. I happened to be using a very short cane at the time and not doing it very well. So I bumped my head on a tree, cut my forehead open, and started bleeding all over the place. It was quite an event. But there was no hysteria. I didn't even get much sympathy. Sharon and Sheryl simply helped me find a Band-Aid for my forehead and suggested that in the future I might want to try using an NFB cane. We walked into the convention session just in time for the call to order.
These three perceptions of my first conventionthat the NFB is a people's movement, that this organization is the only way in which we can move toward first-class citizenship, and that we are a community of people who truly teach and really care about one anotherhave been subsequently reinforced and re-emphasized over the years. To me the Federation decade of the eighties has symbolized an ever growing power and prestige and an ever increasing ability and commitment decisively to address the issues that face us as blind peoplenot only in the coming decade, but in the next century. I can't wait to attend our seventy-fifth and our one-hundredth conventionsnot just to see the triumphs which we will achieve, and not just to see the challenges which will face us over the years, but also to perceive the glory that we contemplate when we sing our song:
"Glory, Glory Federation."
Dr. Jernigan: Well, Michael, you show a proper discipline and some command of the language. So thank you very much. I see why you got elected.
Finally, we come to a person who sometimes is known because of her son, Dan Ryles, and sometimes Dan is known because of her. You know, it's a two-way street. A parent, a teacher, somebody who is as much a part of this Federation as if she herself were blind. And this is Ruby Ryles. Ruby.
The eighties saw the organization of the Parents of Blind Children Division (POBC). We're the parents of the blind who will stand on this platform and lead the centennial celebration of the National Federation of the Blind. Our children will be the first generation to grow up under the strength, the power, and the guidance of an NFB family. They are learning early in life the power of the organized blind, the necessity of adult role models, and the value of having parents taught well by the adult blind in advocacy, attitude, and skill training. From Carbondale, Illinois, to Carthage, Texas, to Spokane, Washington, to Catonsville, Maryland, POBC parents are making noise in their local school districts; and the reverberations have been heard in state legislatures across the United States. Watch for our influence in Washington, D.C. in the nineties because POBC parents are fast learners. And my fellow Federationists, we've been taught advocacy by the best.
The eighties saw the phenomenal growth of state chapters of POBC. Our annual business meeting on Monday saw twenty-five states represented this year with other states organized but not in attendance. Among other activities, these chapters have produced exciting parent-training seminars, giving the benefit of their experience of the National Federation of the Blind's knowledge and training in advocacy to parents. As a parent and a teacher, I've been privileged to speak to POBC seminars around the country, and I'm always overwhelmed by the hunger of parents for our message. Parents of blind children around the United States are outraged with educational systems that will not provide our children with basic academic and travel skills. They are exasperated with professional jargon, reams of paperwork, negative, condescending attitudes regarding our children, and endless meaningless, intrusive testing. We are incensed by professionals in the field who do not understand that a young partially blind child needs a cane early in life. We are weary of listening to the insipid excuses for not teaching our children to read in Braille. Currently a child who is blind or partially blind in all probability will be functionally illiterate at high school graduation, due to the lack of specialized skill trainingspecifically, Braille. Enough, we say. Our children grow up so quickly. We cannot wait for professionals, agencies, and school districts to get their acts together. We want that appropriate education guaranteed to our children by Public Law 94-142, and our children need it now! Our state president, Ben Prows, echoed other Washington Federationists at our POBC parent training seminar when he stated, "Professionals, if you want to listen to us and work with us, we want to work with you. If not, get out of our way."
The National Federation of the Blind's Parents Division was born in the eighties, and it is a force to be reckoned with in the nineties. We're changing what it means to grow up blind. National Federation of the Blind's Parents of Blind Children Division, POBC, remember our name. You'll hear from us in the nineties. Thank you.
Dr. Jernigan: Very shortly now, we'll bring this segment of the program to a conclusion. I remind you that the time capsule is being prepared for the hundredth anniversary. I also remind you that each chapter and each state affiliate is invited to send an item to the National Office for inclusion in the time capsule. You can send it either sealed or not, and mark it for the 2040 convention.
You have heard this morning the heritage, the fifty-year review of the Federation's growth, presented worthily.
As we noted at the beginning of the article, this panel presentation took place on Wednesday morning, July 4, Independence Day. It seemed fitting somehow that the story of the evolving emancipation of the blind should have been recalled on such a day. Ours is a history in which we can all take pride.
In 1940 freedom was a distant dream that only the boldest of the blind dared to strive for. Today, because of the National Federation of the Blind, it is a reality within the grasp of many. We have grown in strength as we have struggled to win that freedom, and we have deepened our commitment to continue the battle until every blind person with the courage to stand and fight for the right will also be free. Having built our history with integrity, let us go forward to build our future with hope.
[PHOTO: Portrait of David Andrews. CAPTION: David Andrews, Director of NEWSLINE for the Blind.]
NEWSLINE, AN EXCITING DEVELOPMENT
From the Editor: Sometimes we are asked why the National Federation of the Blind has such vitality and such dedicated support. One answer can be found in the following article. Wherever the Federation goes, the quality of life for the blind improves. Federation strength is equivalent to enthusiasm and positive action.
As Monitor readers know, Fred Schroeder (the Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind) is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind. Arthur Schreiber and David Andrews are Federation members and leaders. A news release issued August 10, 1990, tells of exciting developments in the state of New Mexico and once again answers the question why the National Federation of the Blind. Here is the text of the release:
Daily Newspaper Now Available To Blind New Mexicans
For the first time, blind New Mexicans are able to read a daily newspaper, whenever and however they want, thanks to a new service being provided by the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. The new service, which is called NEWSLINE for the Blind, went on-line officially on Wednesday, August 1, 1990
NEWSLINE users access the service via a standard touchtone telephone. By using the buttons on the phone, they are then able to choose the section of the paper they wish to read and decide to read, skim, or skip individual stories. Fred Schroeder, Executive Director of the Commission for the Blind said, "Blind people cannot truly be fully integrated into their communities until they have equal access to information. NEWSLINE for the Blind is an important step in providing blind New Mexicans with that equal access."
The NEWSLINE for the Blind service enables its users to read virtually the entire newspaper seven days a week. The paper being offered is the Albuquerque Journal. There are approximately 15 hours of reading each day, Monday through Saturday and 25 hours on Sundays. The only things not read at this time are some of the legal notices and the classified ads. NEWSLINE Director David Andrews said, "We plan on reading at least some of the help wanted ads from the Sunday paper later this year."
All NEWSLINE users must sign up and receive an authorization number from the Commission, to avoid copyright liability problems. Once an authorized user has signed onto the system correctly, he/she is presented with a menu of categories to choose from. Choices are made with a two-digit code. The categories include Local News, State News, National News, World News, Sports, TV Listings, Movies, Area Events, Entertainment News, Weather, Horoscopes, Editorials, Columns, Obituaries, Grocery Ads, Department Store Ads, Drug and Sundry Ads, Sunday Magazine, Features, the Travel Section and Comics.
Once a listener has chosen a category he/she is automatically presented with the first story in that section. He/she can listen to it, skip to the next story, start that story over again, or jump ahead or back in ten second increments. He/she can also immediately exit that category to choose another. All the reading is done by a group of over 75 specially trained volunteers.
NEWSLINE for the Blind works by turning the volunteers' voices into numbers, or digitizing them for storage on a computer hard disk. The computer system is hooked up to a number of phone lines and when listeners call, the volunteers' voices are turned back into audio and fed down the proper phone line. Thus, the caller hears the actual voice of the volunteer. The system presently has eight incoming phone lines but can support up to 24 lines.
The idea of "telephone reading for the blind" originated with Jim Doherty, a radio newsman from Flint, Michigan. His "Talking Newspaper" went on-line in February of 1987. Doherty came up with the idea and worked with computer programmers to bring the concept to fruition. He was supported and aided in large part by Allen Harris and the other members of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. Doherty has said, "It is the belief and support of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan that kept me going at times." NEWSLINE for the Blind is the third telephone reading service to go on-line. The second is in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota and is sponsored by their State Services for the Blind.
The service in New Mexico was made possible in large part thanks to the efforts of Arthur Schreiber who is General Manager of KKOB Radio in Albuquerque and Chairman of the Commission for the Blind's Board. Schreiber, who is blind himself, was first introduced to the talking newspaper concept when he attended a convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan with Fred Schroeder. He met and talked to Jim Doherty while there. Schreiber then came home and spearheaded the lobbying efforts in the New Mexico state legislature that led to the appropriation to fund NEWSLINE for the Blind. Schreiber said "I have spent the majority of my career working in the area of radio news, so I understand the importance of blind persons' having access to current-in-depth news sources.
NEWSLINE was dedicated in public ceremonies on Wednesday, August 1, 1990. The ceremonies were emceed by Arthur Schreiber and speakers included New Mexico Governor Garrey Carruthers as well as gubernatorial candidates Frank Bond and Bruce King. The ceremonies were followed by a reception which was sponsored by the Albuquerque Journal.
While NEWSLINE is free to New Mexico residents, there will be a charge for out-of-state subscribers. There are a small number of these subscriptions available at a cost of $8.50 per month, which is the same as a regular subscription to the newspaper. The caller of course would also have to pick up the cost of any long distance telephone charges he/she would incur. For subscription information, contact: NEWSLINE for the Blind, New Mexico Commission for the Blind; 2200 Yale Boulevard, S.E.;
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106 or call (505) 841-8862.
If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:
"I give, devise, and bequeath unto National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, the sum of $_____" (or "_____ percent of my net estate" or "The following stocks and bonds: _____") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."
[PHOTO: Portrait of Kenneth Jernigan. CAPTION: Kenneth Jernigan, Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind from 1958-1978.]
MORE TROUBLE FOR THE IOWA DEPARTMENT FOR THE BLIND
by Kenneth Jernigan
The Iowa Department for the Blind, which was formerly known as the Iowa Commission for the Blind, has had a series of ongoing problems during recent years. Once the envy of the nation and a recognized political power in the state, the Iowa Department for the Blind now finds itself fighting for its very existence. Earlier this year (see Braille Monitor for January and February, 1990) an official of the Department was convicted of stealing state and federal funds.
Now a new commotion has occurred and been publicized by the media. Gregory Phelps, one of the Department's rehabilitation counselors, has been arrested for soliciting sex while using a state car. Here is how the July 26, 1990, Des Moines Register reported the matter:
Prostitution Bust Nets State Employee
An employee of the Iowa Department for the Blind was arrested last week in a Des Moines prostitution crackdown, and the state car he was driving was towed away, police say.
Gregory Phelps, 46, of Cedar Rapids, a vocational rehabilitation counselor with the Department for the Blind, was accused of soliciting a woman for sex. Police arrested Phelps near Eighth Street and Forest Avenue about 8:20 p.m. July 19.
The station wagon was towed to an impound lot, where it was later retrieved by Phelps.
A trial date on the misdemeanor charge was set for August 20.
The Braille Monitor takes no satisfaction in reporting this incident, and personally I discuss it with heavy heart. Mr. Phelps is generally recognized as being the best counselor that the Iowa Department for the Blind has on its staff, and he seems to be widely respected by the blind of the state. Whether this unfortunate occurrence will do such damage to his reputation that he can no longer function effectively as a counselor is yet to be seen, but it will necessarily reflect adversely on the Department.
I know Phelps well, having employed him during the 1970s when I was Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. He was conscientious; he believed in the capabilities of the blind; he cared about his clients; and he worked with dedicationand from what I can hear, these traits have not changed.
Yet, he finds himself in a situation where he is arrested for soliciting sex while driving a state car, and one has to wonder why. As you might imagine, I have asked myself whether this could have happened during the happier days of the Iowa Commission for the Blindand the answer, of course, is that I can't be sure. It didn't happen, and in some ways that is the bottom line. If I had to try to find an explanation for the fact that such an event has occurred now and probably would not have occurred then, I think it would revolve around the commitment we felt to what we were doing, our loyalty to each other, and our pride in the agency. We thought we counted for something, that the blind counted for something. We thought it mattered what we didand we were right. I do not believe that this spirit still exists (or, for that matter, could still exist) at the Iowa Department for the Blind, and all of us are poorer for itthe blind of Iowa, the general public of Iowa, and the blind of the nation. No, there is no satisfaction in discussing this unfortunate occurrence, but we have a responsibility to report what happens in the field of blindnessand we try to meet our responsibilities whether we like them or not.
[PHOTO: Nell Carney standing at podium microphone. CAPTION: Nell Carney, Commissioner of the United States Rehabilitation Services Administration.]
THE REHABILITATION SERVICES ADMINISTRATION: ITS RELATIONSHIP TO BLINDNESS AND CONSUMERISM
by Nell Carney
On Thursday afternoon, July 5, 1990, Nell Carney, the newly-appointed Commissioner of the United States Rehabilitation Services Administration, addressed the convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Because this was Mrs. Carney's first opportunity to meet as RSA Director with the organized blind of America, this was an historic occasion, and in retrospect it would appear to have been an auspicious one. This is the way it happened from Dr. Jernigan's introduction to the final question and comment:
Dr. Jernigan: Mr. President, it will be observed that the first item on the afternoon agenda is listed as "The Rehabilitation Services Administration: Its Relationship to Blindness and Consumerism." The person to deliver that is Nell Carney, who is the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration from Washington, D.C. I introduce Nell Carney, although to many in this organization she requires no introduction. I have known her for a long time. At one time she was a student of mine in high school; that was in Tennessee. At another time she was President of the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee. That would have been in the late sixties and early seventies. She has been part of the organized blind movement and has had long acquaintance with many of us. I've always had a very productive and pleasant relationship with her, and I'm particularly pleased that she has come today to talk with us. I met with her earlier this year to talk about common problemsproblems that were matters of concern to rehabilitation and also to us as blind people. She will take questions afterward. Now, I want to present to you the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Nell Carney.
Nell Carney: Thank you, Dr. Jernigan. It's a special honor to have you, Sir, my former teacher, my mentor, and my lifetime friend, introduce me to this audience in which for many years I was a participant. President Maurer and ladies and gentlemen of the Federation, I am informed that you have registered twenty-two hundred people and that your attendance is close to three thousand. I further am informed that that's probably the largest gathering of blind people anywhere in the world in recent history. I'd like to congratulate you on that, Sir.
I am especially honored to be here this afternoon on this fiftieth anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind, an organization which certainly made a difference in my life as a blind person and made a difference in the kind of services that I received as a client of vocational rehabilitation and, in any way that we can think about, influenced the paths that my career has taken.
I'm also pleased to be here to bring you greetings from President Bush, who appointed me to this position; from Vice President Quayle; from the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Lauro Cavazos; from the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education, Dr. Robert Davila, who is in charge of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services; and from my own staff at the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Specifically, this afternoon in the audience, I am pleased to tell you that Dr. Harold Viaille, who is the Commissioner in Region VI here in Dallas, is here; and accompanying Dr. Viaille is Loerance Deaver, who is the state representative in a number of the states in this region; and finally, Mr. Lane is present also in the audience.
The Rehabilitation Services Administration exists within the U.S. Department of Education and exists for one purpose only, and that is to administer those authorities entrusted to the organization by the United States Congress, including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its subsequent amendments through 1986 and the Randolph-Sheppard authorities. This past year, 1989, the appropriation for our program budget, exclusive of our salaries and expenses, was $1.6 billion. Of that $1.6 billion the majority of the money, approximately 97%, was designated for the state/federal vocational rehabilitation program, the programs which provide vocational rehabilitation services in all of the states, in some states through separate agencies for the blind, as you all know. The formula for that program, and I'm sure you know this also, is 80% federal money and 20% state match. The grants themselves are based on a per capita and population formula, which I am told by the authors of the legislation was designed specifically to address the needs in those states where there was economic depression. Besides the state/federal vocational rehabilitation program, we also administer Title VII of the Act, which is the independent living services program (parts A, B, and C). As you know, part C of the independent living program is specifically designated to provide independent living services to the older blind population. In addition under title VI, part C, we administer a supported employment program. This program is further enhanced through discretionary moneys which support community-based Supported Employment projects as well as systems change grants in twenty-seven of the fifty-one states.
Section 130 of title I of the Rehabilitation Act allows us to provide services to Native Americans residing on reservations through a discretionary grant program. In addition, under title I we are allowed to provide vocational rehabilitation services to migrant farm workers through a discretionary process. The Randolph-Sheppard program is fifty years old, and in that fifty years it has employed approximately 20,000 blind individuals. I know that you know, because that program is of great concern to you, that it was designed to offer employment opportunities to individuals who are blindindividuals who are trained and licensed by a state licensing agency. We think of the Randolph-Sheppard program now as being a big business program. The gross sales in the Randolph-Sheppard program in 1989 were 376.2 million dollars. That figure puts the Randolph-Sheppard program among the top fifty food-production companies in this country, so we can do no less than regard it as a big business.
All of the programs I have described to you, with the exception, of course, of the independent living program, are programs which are focused on employmentthe number one need of individuals with disabilities in this country. Recently I was attending the 1990 conference of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, and Patricia Neal, who as many of you know is a film and stage star and a person who suffered a disabilityin her presentation she said that to return to work after a disability is the ultimate affirmation of life. That has sort of become our philosophy at the Rehabilitation Services Administration. We're very aware that no matter what else we provide to the disabled population, jobs are still the number one need of this special population we exist to serve.
When I arrived at RSA, we took a look around and tried to determine what the most serious deficit areas were and from that drew four broad priorities which would be our focus of concern for at least the next year, and probably throughout this administration. The first of these is related to the reason that we existto administer the Rehabilitation Act and the Randolph-Sheppard program. We had to examine very carefully our attempts to do that administration and, more importantly, to do it responsibly.
So our first priority became the responsible implementation of the Rehabilitation Act and the Randolph-Sheppard Act in their entirety. To carry out that goal, this year we have placed somewhere in the clearance stream four regulatory packages which directly address our services programs. The first of these is deregulation of the "361" regulations, or the [Section] 110 VR program. The second is the development of a deregulation package for the supported employment program. The third is deregulation of title VII Part A, and the fourth is the much-debated indicators for the independent living program, Title VII Part B.
In addition, we've examined Title III of the Act, which provides a strong infrastructure for all the programs in RSA. One of the programs in Title III is the 31 million-dollar training program, which is designed to prepare new personnel in the field of rehabilitation and to upgrade the skills and knowledge of existing rehabilitation staff. In the past seven months we have implemented a nationwide training needs assessment for this program. We believe that the information we have gathered from the grassroots sector across the country will allow us to determine more accurately the training needs and establish the priorities for the program in 1991.
A second area of concern for us at RSA is policy reform. It may not surprise you when I say that when I arrived, I asked the staff for the policy file, and everybody started looking at everybody else. There was no policy file in RSA in the central office. We were recently cited by a GAO report as having been remiss in the development of appropriate policies to provide program guidelines to the grantees for RSA. Our initiative in policy reform has involved the consumers and the other program constituencies, such as state agency personnel, rehabilitation facilities personnel, and the advocacy groups.
A third broad area of concern to us at RSA has been the internal management. When I arrived, there were forty-nine vacant positions in the agency, many of which were very key positions. To date, we have hired and put into place thirty-two positions. I'm pleased to announce that the other positions which were vacant are somewhere in the process of being filled. They're either recruited or are about to be recruited. By this time, at the end of December, there will be no vacant positions at RSA. Other activities in order to firm up and stabilize the management in the organization have included the installation of a strategic management process, which has resulted already in a 1990 work plan and will result further in a long-range strategic management plan, which will carry us forward with a blueprint for the next five years.
Our fourth area of concern and focus has been to reconnect ourselves with the constituency, and by that we mean not only the consumer organizations but the service providers across the country, who have an interest in and a concern about the program in the Rehabilitation Services Administration. To that end I have visited all ten regions and held constituency meetings, in which we have invited anyone who has a concern of any nature to speak with us and to state those concerns. In addition to the ten regional constituency meetings, I have visited a number of other conferences and organizations. When I was hired for this position, my charge was to go out and prove to the people that government still works and works for the people it exists to assist. Our constituency development initiative has been directed in that manner. The future of rehabilitation is dependent upon many things. As we face this new decade in this country and think about the challenges that are ahead of us, certainly we are going to have to give consideration to services to the under-served populations which have been ignored for a number of years. Examples of that are minorities with disabilities who cannot access our programs because of cultural variances. Another example is disabled individuals who reside in rural America. For seventy years we have practiced urban vocational rehabilitation in this country and not paid very much attention about how to deliver rehabilitation services to those individuals who reside in rural areas.
Other under-served and unserved populations include individuals with autism, with learning disabilities, individuals who are disabled as a result of illness such as AIDS, individuals who are disabled as a result of drug abuse. I think another challenge in the 1990s is going to be the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act in 1991. What do you the consumerwhat do we disabled Americanswant this landmark legislation to say in order to be able to provide the services to future generations of Americans with disabilities? The implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act will be a challenge for all the rehabilitation network in this country in the 1990s and will also be a challenge to the consumer organizations. We must inform individuals about their rights and, at the same time, assure protection of their rights.
The last section of my speech I would like to direct to some of my personal observations about my training as a blind person and finally to talk to you about consumerism and its value to the rehabilitation programs as they exist in this country. I have often been quoted, and it's an accurate quote, that I would not be where I am today if it had not been for vocational rehabilitation. I have certainly said that. The other half of my rehabilitation story, however, is the existence of a consumer organization when I was seeking services from a state vocational rehabilitation agency and when I was seeking to integrate myself as a blind person in my community and to maneuver my way socially through the community. Without the support and the backing of the National Federation of the Blind and without the existence of this organization to assist me, without its presence being there behind me to assure that my rights were protected through the state vocational rehabilitation agency, I certainly would not be here today. I had a very positive rehabilitation experience, and part of the reason I had that experience was, of course, because I had the backing of the National Federation of the Blind.
I had some of the same experiences that you have had. I remember once my reader services were cut off. There was a shortfall in the agency budget, and they decided that the thing that blind people could do without was reader service. Because I was in the Federation at the time, I contacted the leadership and was told what to do; and the very fact that I was a member of the Federation carried some clout in negotiating back the reader services. That's one example of the importance I place on consumerism in this country and the impact that I believe that you can have on the services that are provided through the various programs which are funded through the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
Dr. Jernigan and President Maurer, last evening I was preparing for this presentation. Over the years I have collected a number of the agendas of the National Federation of the Blind, and starting about fifteen years ago, I started to notice a slow but sure trend away from dealing with the rehabilitation professionals in the country and the rehabilitation community and toward other burning social issues in the community and in the nation. One of my purposes for wanting to come here today is to plead with you to reconsider your position and to think about the impact that you as an organization, a consumer organization for and of the blind, can have on the services that are provided to blind people in this country. As long as the Rehabilitation Act exists in its present form, as long as our network of services are provided in their present form, there will be people who are blind who will seek services from the public agencies. In order to assure that those individuals have the same opportunities that I have had and that other successful blind people in this country have had, I believe that you need to be there to take us to task.
I would be the first to admit to you that the Rehabilitation Services Administration has been unresponsiveto put it mildly to the needs of consumers in this country. I would like to ask that you reconsider and give us a chance to prove that we can be responsive, we can be responsible, and we can attend to the needs of special populations that we do exist to serve. As you know, in the Rehabilitation Services Administration there is an Office for the Blind, which in recent years has become not much more than the overseer of the Randolph-Sheppard program and the various arbitrations that go on around the country. It is my hope and my plan that we will reinvigorate that office to give national leadership to the separate agencies for the blind, but more importantly, to those agencies where services for the blind are integrated, to assure that the population of blind individuals seeking services through state VR agencies will get optimal opportunity for services. I ask that you join me and support me and support RSA and our staff in expanding this program and bringing it back to the state at which I believe it once functioned.
Mary Switzer, who was for more than two decades a leader in rehabilitation and served in the same position that I hold today, once said that life is faith and love; but most of all, she said, it's hope. And I believe that consumer organizations, and specifically the National Federation of the Blind, represent hope for the young blind people in this country as it did for me when I was a young woman growing up in Tennessee and seeking services. And I ask that you think about that and think about the words of Mary Switzer. Certainly the faith and the love and the enthusiasm that existed here in this organization fifteen years ago I have felt again today. I would ask that you reconsider your position with rehabilitation. Make us do our job. Take us back to where we used to be. Thank you very much.
As I've indicated to Dr. Jernigan and President Maurer, I would be happy to take questions.
Dr. Jernigan: I am tempted to respond to Commissioner Carney. She said, you will remember, had it not been for vocational rehabilitation, she would not have been here today. Is that what you said? Well, you know, that's true with me too. I'd have been a lawyer. I might have been here; I don't know. Of course she might too. I want to respond for a moment, and then I'll recognize you, Jim Gashel. You didn't get the first shot this morning. Then I'm going to throw it open to a free-for-all for a while and see if anyone wants to ask questions.
I want to say to Commissioner Carney this: You're exactly right. I counted up, and in 1988 we spent, I think, only about two percent of our program on rehabilitation. We did because we thought the system had become irrelevant to blind people. It is not, as some people thought, because we were simply by nature radicals who don't like things, or because we didn't like the personnel involved. As you may know, in 1981 when the Reagan administration came in, I was called by a Member of Congress and asked if I would like to come over and testify about the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act and budgets for it. I said, "If you can assure me there'll be some reform in the program, the answer is yes. If not, the answer is no." He said with some surprise, "Well, wouldn't you rather have the program as it is with all of its weaknesses and problems than not to have it at all?" And I said, "Well, whether you're surprised by the answer or not, the answer is, no, I wouldn't." That seemed to surprise him. I think the program can do a great deal. I have hopes that under Commissioner Carney it will do a great deal. I know that she knows the philosophy of independence. She is herself a blind person. She has gone through the system. So sure, it's still new in this administration. It still remains to be seen what she'll do fully. But I have hopes that we will be able to rethink our position on rehabilitation, and I can assure you that, if rehabilitation is willing truly to be responsive to the needs of the consumers and to listennot just to the people it picks to listen to, but to the representatives of organizations of the blind, chosen by themthen we'll meet rehabilitation halfway and then some. That at least we will do.
Now, Jim Gashel, go.
Jim Gashel: Yes, sir. Thank you very much.
Commissioner, I just want to say that I'm really glad that you're here. You know, you and I and others of us in this movement have fought together side by side and shoulder to shoulder. I will always remember coming to Tennessee several times and working with you on a number of policies. I want to talk with you about what I see as one of the major problems of rehabilitation and something that I think the Rehabilitation Services Administration can help on. And if you do, we're likely to be in a better position to respond in the way that you were suggesting. It's this: Almost every time I talk to people about rehabilitation, it comes down to individual planning versus state policies that say you can or cannot do something. Now the Rehabilitation Act sort of gives you something on one hand and sort of takes it away on the other. Section 102 of the Rehabilitation Act says there's going to be an individualized written rehabilitation program (IWRP) for everybody coming into the program. That implies that we're going to take account of everybody's needs, and we're going to try to do our best to serve those needs. There are innumerable other sections of the Rehabilitation Act that are interpreted to say almost exactly the opposite. Those sections allow state agencies to place limits on reader service, as you were suggesting, or to say that they're going to take account of similar benefits in particular ways or to deny services provided by some agency in another state, or to do a lot of things that undercut individualized planning.
Now, either the Rehabilitation Act means individualized planning, or it doesn't. What I want to know is either in the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act or in regulations or in something, will you work on this problem with us to see to it that individualized planning takes priority over state policies that say we can't get anything out of rehabilitation?
Mrs. Carney: Yes, sir, I think individualized planning means individualized planning, and I believe that that is one of the things in the Rehabilitation Act that we absolutely must assure the integrity of. And we're not doing that. I know specifically of one situation that you and I have talked about that you must have in mind today. I do believe that at RSA the leadership has been remiss in giving adequate guidance and direction to states in the plan development. You know each state plan exists for the purpose of saying what that state organization will do for the disabled population in that stateit's a contract between the state and the federal government. This year, in fact in just the past few weeks, I have sent out a directive to state agencies saying that any change in their plan must be taken to public hearing. We're getting feedback about it. The state agencies don't like that very much, but that has to be. That's just one tiny step toward assuring you, the consumers, of input where it's important, because in the state plan the breadth and scope of services are projected for that state agency, and you need to be there and you need to be aware of what the state plan says. But back to your issue about individualized servicesit certainly does say in the Rehabilitation Act that the IWRP is designed to develop individualized services with input from the client or the individual seeking services. To me that means that the client has some choice about what the vocational goal is going to be. You see, Dr. Jernigan, if this were a long time ago, you could have said you wanted to be an attorney. Maybe you did, and maybe somebody didn't listen to you.
Dr. Jernigan: They told me, if I wanted to be an attorney, I could go pay for it myself. If I wanted to be something else, I could go and they'd help me. I didn't have any money.
Mrs. Carney: I understand that. To me, the individualized services program is a unique quality of rehabilitation as we practice it in this country, and to meI'm almost hesitant to use the wordit's almost sacred. It is a property of the system that we absolutely must protect. And yes, Jim, I will certainly work toward regulation or statutory change or whatever is necessary to assure us that individualized planning and execution of a program are protected.
Peggy Pinder: Good afternoon, Commissioner Carney. We don't necessarily want to go back. I think what we want to do is find the right future to go to. I don't think the National Federation of the Blind has ever been criticized for failing to state its position strongly. And that is true when a positive thing happens as well as when something with which we don't agree takes place. I want to thank you publicly, Commissioner Carney, for something you did earlier this year. The Federation through its scholarship program has given a lot of money and a lot of encouragement to a lot of blind students around this country. And we have over the years had continual trench warfare with rehab counselors who, as soon as we give the money, try to take it away. When this issue was brought directly to your attention, Commissioner Carney, you sat down and wrote it and put it out. It's a policy memorandum from your office with your signature that says when a blind student earns a scholarship and the earning is based on merit, then the blind student gets to keep it. I want to thank you for that.
Dr. Jernigan: That is praise well deserved.
Mrs. Carney: Dr. Jernigan, may I respond to Peggynot about the scholarshipI did it because it was the right thing to do. But I should know better than to come to this organization and talk about going back to where we were. I agree with you that we need to look to a brighter future.
Diane McGeorge: Commissioner, I wanted to thank you for coming to Colorado, and visiting all of the different regions. That has been very valuable. You stated there and you've gone on record over and over that you do believe in choice, that people should have choices in where they receive their rehabilitation services. My question is what is RSA doing to implement that choice right now? You know that we have established some good centers for rehabilitation training throughout the country. Yet if there's a state that has its own center and a student wants to come to another state center, it's a big battle. It can go to an appeal process, sure. If the client loses the appeal process, what do we do? So my question is really what is RSA doing now to implement choice for people who wish to go to other states to receive rehabilitation?
Mrs. Carney: We are giving guidance to state agencies, which says that, as a matter of principle, the development of the IWRP is designed to provide choices to the disabled individual seeking services. There are some states in which the state director is very willing to allow services purchased from some other state and some others where it isn't. We need to work together on those states where it is a problem; but, Diane, things didn't get the way they are at RSA overnight. The whole notion of choices in rehabilitation is very new to a lot of people who practice rehabilitation in this country. We have to keep saying it over and over and meaning it and saying it from the leadership of RSA until it catches on, and I do think it's catching on.
Dr. Jernigan: I would say that I personally asked Commissioner Carney some time ago to consider what could be done within the context of federal law and policy. If a blind person in one state feels that the training there does not meet his or her particular needs and that a program in another state meets those needs better, then the first state should not be permitted to block that individual's going to the second state by cutting off the individual's rehabilitation funds. I just want to be clear that Commissioner Carney agrees with that in principle and is doing what she can to see that atmosphere and program implemented in the country. Is that a correct statement?
Mrs. Carney: That's correct, sir. One of the things I think we've been remiss at RSA in doing is providing adequate technical assistance to state agencies in the development of the program to assure that the rights of individuals are protected in the development of those plans and that the concept of choice is included in the development of the state plan.
Diane McGeorge: I understand that, but you see, they all say that we give the same kind of services that the other centers offer. That just is not true. Our centers offer their students the most important thingbelief in themselves as blind people.
Dr. Jernigan: But Diane, even if it were true that state A gives exactly the kind of services as state B gives, and a blind person in state A really feels that his or her needs are best met by going to state B, then I should think that what we want to see established is that that blind person has the right to make that choice; and what Commissioner Carney was talking about will do more toward it than anything else I know. It keeps everybody on their toes. That means if state A is not responsive, there's always state B as an alternative. And I have hope and belief that Commissioner Carney will give the technical assistance, the nudges ultimatelythat RSA will insist, if it must as a last resort, that states follow that kind of choice policy.
Mrs. Carney: Dr. Jernigan, that isn't different from ten or fifteen years ago; we had to make these service providers understand and see that we had to have choices in vocational goals. So we've come a way since then. This is another step in the choices process.
Dr. Jernigan: That's true.
Michael Baillif: Commissioner Carney, blind students in this country face a terrible problem which RSA can solve. Currently very often we go to our state agency and ask for basic academic support services, technology support, and reader services. We're told that we need to go to our colleges instead because they have something like it and there is this concept known as similar benefits. We go to our colleges, and the services there are inadequate at best. We go back to the state agency, and they say, "Sorry, our hands are tied by similar benefits." Very often blind students spend more time seeking a source for and trying to acquire services than we do studying. It's a real problem. RSA can solve it if it will simply step forward and establish itself as the primary service provider, responsible for seeing that blind students receive adequate academic support services. Will RSA do it? That worked with the blind population, and both times we went through the same scenario. We placed people on jobs, and we tell the employer that you have to provide reasonable accommodation, and the end result of that was, of course, that the employer didn't pay the blind person. We tried that with colleges. The state vocational rehabilitation agency, which serves you as your primary service provider. It is your public service provider. It is responsible for carrying out your program or seeing that the financial resources are available somewhere in the community to carry out your rehabilitation program. And yes, of course, one of the problems I think is that over the years we haven't given very much leadership and direction to the service providers in the country. That's going to change, and it is changing.
Eileen Rivera: Commissioner, I would like to underscore the need to transfer benefits and go where you need to to get training. I administer a vision rehabilitation center at Johns Hopkins University, and in Maryland we have no place for our patients to get any good training, whatsoever. We in good conscience can't even recommend that they go anywhere in state. They sit around at home, and they get discouraged, and we try to fight with the rehabilitation agency to get them out of state. Right now we've got a number of people who are waiting and waiting and fighting the system, and they just can't take it anymore. It's very urgent. It's a very important problem.
Dr. Jernigan: Okay, I think she has responded to that.
Jim Omvig: Thank you, Sir. Commissioner, two very quick questions. as you know, I come from a background in a state where the agency for the blind eagerly looked for blind people and gave service to encourage people into training and opportunity. I now live in Arizona, a state that doesn't offer that. In fact, it is probably the worst program for blind people I have ever seen.
Two kinds of things I want to address to you. First, the state says you have to understand that the rules have changed since you were in rehab. We can't really go out and help people to get the kind of training they need. It's very complex and cumbersome now, and that seems to be the defense they use. The rules are different, and they can't aggressively seek to help people. Connected to that I have two questions: (1) Is there any mechanism through your office where we can deal directly with some of the problems in the states? (2) (Diane McGeorge's question made me think of this) Arizona has the notion that orientation training is not needed at all by blind people in the new era. A blind person is just supposed to go blind and magically go on with life without training, period. And the state fights. We have to appeal every time we want orientation training for a blind person from Arizona. I'm wondering if you can also issue any kind of policy guidance on that kind of thing?
Mrs. Carney: I think we can offer leadership at the national level, but again I would emphasize the value of the consumer organization at the state level. Sometimes it's a question of philosophy. It sounds like what you're saying is going on in Arizona, but the consumer involvement at the state level will always need to be there, no matter what we do at the national level. (Well, consumer involvement at the national level of course is important too.) But no matter what kind of guidance or leadership we provide, it's going to take all of us working togetherthe consumer and the leadership at RSA and your national organizationbeing very active in order to be sure that whatever guidance we give at the national level is implemented at the local level, and to be sure always and forever that the rights and opportunities of the blind individual are protected.
Dr. Jernigan: Now I want to thank you, Commissioner Carney, for coming. (She will be here for the banquet and for the rest of this afternoon's program.) I want to tell you publicly that we appreciate your coming here, but even more we appreciate the direct manner in which you've dealt with questions. Obviously, it's one thing to say things, and it's another to do them. But I believe you will do what you said you will do, and if you do, it opens the prospect of an entire new era in the relationship between the organized blind in this country and the Rehabilitation Services Administration. I think that there are many things that past rehabilitation commissioners could have done if they had been aware and if they had thought it was in their best interest to do so. I believe that you are aware and believe also that you believe it's in the best interest of everybody to do these things. Time, of course, will tell. You were at one time, as I say, a state president of this organization. You were at one time a member of the National Board. You know what this organization is. You know what its goals and objectives are; and, therefore, you know what its reactions will be to the kind of treatment it gets. We appreciate your coming, I tell you again, and we look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead. If you meet us halfway, we will do likewise, and we will be your strongest support.
Mrs. Carney: Thank you, Sir.
Dr. Jernigan: If you do not, of course, then we'll treat you differently, but you know that before I tell you.
Mrs. Carney: Yes, Sir.
[PHOTO: Portrait of Larry and Sandy Streeter.]
BUDGET RENT A CAR SEES THE LIGHT
In the July, 1990, issue of the Braille Monitor Larry Streeter, a Federation leader living in Omaha, Nebraska, reported on his battle with the staff at the Omaha Airport Budget car rental agency to hire a mini-van for a weekend trip during which a friend intended to drive. The inflexible folks at this Budget car rental counter insisted that the driver and the owner of the credit card must be the same person. They stoutly maintained this position despite Mr. Streeter's insistence both that he had rented cars previously from Budget with no such stipulation and that this policy almost certainly violated the Nebraska White Cane Law. Eventually the Streeters rented a van at a much better price from one of Budget's competitors, but they did not abandon the dispute.
Mr. Streeter wrote to the President of Budget, explaining the situation, and on May 18 Melinda M. Harre, Operations Manager, responded with a thoroughly satisfying letter. Budget Rent a Car Employees in Nebraska will now have no excuse for flouting the provisions of the state's White Cane Law, and we can be pretty sure that the ones at the Omaha Airport office will not soon forget the Budget Rent a Car policy concerning blind customers. Here is the letter that Larry Streeter received:
May 18, 1990
Dear Mr. Streeter:
Please accept our sincere apologies for the problems you encountered with your recent attempt to make a reservation. Thank you for taking the time to let us know about it. It's through the comments of our customers that we can identify our strengths and weaknesses so we can provide the kind of service you deserve from Budget Rent a Car.
Many people, I'm sure, are not aware of the Nebraska White Cane Law. I have posted a copy of this law at our rental counters to prevent this from happening again. I am sorry for any inconvenience our error may have caused you.
The normal procedure for this situation is to have you initial that your driver would be doing all of the driving. We would also need the proper identification from your driver and your credit card with the proper secured authorization.
Mr. Streeter, your business is very important to us. I would like to offer you the complimentary use of a van or car for a weekend of your choice. Please call me when you are ready, and I'll make the necessary arrangements.
We will make every effort to serve your future needs in a manner more consistent with your expectations and our standards.
Very truly yours,
Melinda M. Harre
cc: Joyce H. Roehrich
Special Assistant to President
[PHOTO: Marc Maurer sitting at table reading Braille document. CAPTION: Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.]
WATCH YOUR PENNIES
by Marc Maurer
The old expression (sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin) goes something like this: "Watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves." If expenditures take a lot of money, we tend to think about them. Those which cost less are sometimes made without much real consideration. Therefore, keep track of the inexpensive purchasesthey are the ones that will cause bankruptcy in the long run.
A few years ago we established a committee in the National Federation of the Blind to consider ways of soliciting deferred gifts. A deferred gift comes to the organization some time in the future. The most common form of this gift is one which is made by will. However, there are others. Some organizations raise most of their money by asking people to make gifts in their wills. We in the Federation receive some money from wills, but it is not a major portion of our income. The amount we receive each year fluctuates very greatly. Sometimes it is almost nothing.
When we established the Committee on Deferred Giving, somebody commented that the money we get from wills comes most often from people who have not been members of the organization. Gifts by will come primarily from outside the organization.
Shortly after our 1990 convention, a man came to my office to tell me about programs to encourage deferred giving. He wanted to show me that such a program contained elements that I hadn't thought of. He started with a dramatic example. This is how it went. If a person owns a vacation home that is to be sold to provide money for retirement, that person can sell it directly. If it is sold by the owner, however, income taxes must be paid. Therefore, it should not be sold. Instead, it should be given to the Federation with the understanding that the donor will retain the right to receive income. The Federation can sell the property and keep the proceeds in a bank. Part of the money can be paid to the person who made the gift. There are no taxes to pay on the sale. Consequently, the Federation gets more money, and the person who made the gift gets more.
I told the man in my office that the National Federation of the Blind would be willing to assist donors by participating in such an advantageous relationship. He responded by telling me that his task would be to write the papers. My task (he said) would be to supply the names of people with the vacation homes that they wanted to give away. At this point, it seemed to me that the usefulness of continued conversation had about come to an end. I made pleasant conversation for a short time and sent the man away.
However, I was to hear from him again. His letter arrived in my mailbox in mid-August. It listed several ways to establish a deferred giving program. It reminded me that laborious, constant effort almost always produces results. His letter said that many people make excuses for not having a deferred giving program. It urged me to concentrate effort not on the multi-million dollar bequest but on donors with more modest contributions to make.
I thought about the letter and decided that some of its points were worthwhile. I do not have a multi-million dollar bequest that I can make. Nevertheless, I do have some money. I suspect that many other Federation members are in the same position. I have a family to consider. If I die before those in my immediate family do, I want them to be provided for. Nevertheless, I can make a gift by will to the National Federation of the Blind, and I should make it. As I write this article, my will is made. It was written to provide for the needs of my family. Of course, part of my family is the Federation. Consequently, the Federation appears there. I urge you to think about making gifts by will to support our organization. I also urge you to get others to follow your example. There are many ways to do it. If you think that you might want to make a gift to the organization, but you don't know precisely what the possibilities are, please call me at the National Office. We will try to find a way to help achieve the goals you have in mind. Here are some suggestions about deferred giving.
Gifts may be made by will or revocable living trust. There are several ways to make a gift by will. The person making the will can give a specific amount, a percentage of all the property owned, a specified piece of property, or all that is left after certain gifts have been made to others. A donor may also make a gift through a gift annuity. This means that money or property is transferred to the Federation with the understanding that income will be paid to the donor each year. When the donor dies, the remaining property belongs to the Federation.
I have read many novels about people who owned estates. I understand that when rich people die, there is an estate to worry about. I have never thought of myself as a person with an estate. However, I suspect that, when I die, there will be some money left. This means that I will have an estate. Somebody will have the pleasure of spending it. I have put a very substantial part of my life into the National Federation of the Blind. I want our wonderful organization to thrive. Therefore, I shall try to make a gift in my will to the National Federation of the Blind. I urge you to do the same.
LAUGHTER ABOUT BLINDNESS: A DIFFERENT VIEW
by H. G. Jim Burns
From the Editor: Jim Burns, who lives in Los Angeles, is a retired psychology professor. I have known him for more than thirty-five years, during all of which time he has been a member of the Federation. He does not totally disagree with what Chris Kuczynski says in his article about laughing about our blindness which appeared in the April, 1990, Monitor; but as you will observe, he has a slightly different point of view.
Are we, the organized blind, taking ourselves too seriously? Sometimes organizations do when their cause is not won, and both bravery and determination are still needed to deal with ignorance and misunderstanding about blindness.
In the April, 1990, Monitor, attorney Chris Kuczynski argues cogently in his article "The Child's Laughter and the Adult's Responsibility," that as we mature, our laughter about blindness--even among our blind comradesis unacceptable, because it damages the image we feel the blind should present to the sighted public. I fully agree that this image should show blindness is respectable and that blind people are entitled to equal opportunity to live in society. But he says it is not respectable to be blind and yet laugh among ourselves about blindness and the funny things we do as blind people.
He's probably right. But remember that laughter relieves tension. Not to laugh about our blunders and slip-ups due to blindness implies the creation of a thin-skinned, dour-faced people you can't have any fun with. We make ourselves different from others who do laugh about their foibles and failings. Now, above all things, except for our blindness, we do not want to appear different from others. This produces an attitude of strained tolerance toward the delicate blind around whom you have to walk on eggs and wear kid gloves.
Of course, chronic joking about blindness becomes a bore. Also, there is no need to construct the stereotypes of the plucky, ever-smiling blind person who makes everybody laugh just to keep from crying. But a little laughter does ease the strain. We blind receive far more sympathy than we are entitled to. The sighted public will be more likely to improve in its attitude toward blindness from behavioral example ("Who Are the Blind Who Lead the Blind," Braille Monitor, September, 1989) and occasional laughter about the blind among themselves, than they will by too much philosophy and too much manifesto.
When I taught psychology a few years ago, I attacked the misplaced sympathy notion by asking if anyone knew any jokes about blind people. Nobody could supply one. Then I would ask for jokes about the deaf and about stutterers. These were not hard to come by. Finally one student came up with a blind joke. When I encouraged him to share with the class, he proposed a "miracle cure," a nostrum in a cup. He said, "Take tea and see." Mild amusement was experienced, but the ice was broken concerning the "precious" blind.
People often ask how you can possibly learn to read Braille. The question is put less out of curiosity than it is from a mixture of astonishment and sympathy. I usually reply that it was slow going sometimes, but it was worth it even though it drove me dotty. The questioners enjoy suddenly catching on.
One joke I should like to leave you with assures the blind have equal consumer advantages with the sighted as regards ladies of the evening.
There was a young lady named Gail, Whose blouse wore the price of her sale.
And tacked on behind
For the sake of the blind
Was the same information in Braille.
A little laughter (especially shared laughter) hardly gives rise to the fear of disrespect.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Portrait of Dawnelle Cruze.]
BRAILLE: A SURVIVAL SKILL FOR ALL BLIND PEOPLE
by Dawnelle Cruze
From the Editor: Dawnelle Cruze is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. She recently wrote me as follows:
"It was suggested by Charlie Brown and Seville Allen that I send in the attached transcript of remarks I made at a public hearing held in Richmond, Virginia, on July 10, 1990. This hearing was called by a joint study commission composed of members of the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped, the Virginia Department of Education, and a couple of state legislators, whose purpose is to determine whether Braille should be taught to all blind and partially blind students in the Virginia public school system. This, of course, is an issue that is close to the heart of every concerned blind person who cares about the training of the next generation. While there are many areas of disagreement about how blind children should be educated, I think almost every Federationist agrees that Braille is a linchpin in the educational program of every blind child."
This is what Dawnelle wrote me. Here is what she said to the study commission:
Braillethe six-dot system of literacyis the only viable language of learning which affords blind and partially blind people the opportunity to compete on terms of equality in our society today. Without competency in Braille, blind people cannot expect to maximize their potential in the world of work. The truth is that Braille is a crucial survival skill which all blind and partially-blind students must master. Therefore, it is imperative that Braille be taught to every blind student in the school system of the Old Dominion.
I remember the days when learning Braille was a respectable accomplishment. Braille was a staple in the education of both blind and partially blind students. When I was in third grade, my teacher asked me to assist her in providing Braille instruction to a partially blind boy whose primary form of literacy was large print. This classmate ultimately discovered that Braille was his medium of choice in taking notes and in performing other daily tasks which required writing or the immediate retrieval of information. As far as I know, this man is still utilizing his Braille skills in his business today even though he still reads large print.
Conversely, I met a high school student two years ago who was woefully lacking in the survival skill of Braille. This high school senior was a product of the public school system in Virginia and had won a collegiate scholarship from the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. In discussion with him concerning his use of the alternative techniques of blindness, the student revealed that he had skated by during his public school career without ever achieving fluency in Braille. Rather than using Braille, he had been encouraged to rely on tapes and oral presentation. His spelling and writing skills were thus neglected. I would also venture to guess that his grades were not as high as they might have been if this student had been fully literate in Braille. I shudder to think what happened to this boy when he entered college and discovered the true meaning of functional illiteracy! How much more might he have achieved if he had been schooled in the most basic language of literacy for every blind person, Braille?
The question comes to mind: Why isn't Braille accorded its proper place in the curricula of blind and partially-blind students? How and why has Braille lost its status over the years as the primary literacy tool in every blind student's education? Perhaps its fall from grace is partially due to the innate negative attitudes about blindness which are held by the very professionals who are tasked to train blind students in the skills they will need if they are to assume their place in society. Those same negative attitudes are also held by those educators who instruct these professionals in the alternative techniques of blindness which will be passed on to their charges.
Contrary to the popular belief among these educators, there is no reason to use visual acuity as a yardstick to determine whether or not a partially-blind person should be expected to master the skills of Braille.
Unfortunately, it is my observation that the trend has been to turn away from Braille as the basic means of written communication among blind and partially blind students in this age of talking computers and visual magnifiers. The order of the day in the instruction of partially blind students seems to be to camouflage their blindness as much as possible in an effort to help them blend in with the mainstream. Partially-blind students are forced to accept print as their literacy medium in spite of the eyestrain or inefficiency which might ensue. After allfor the most partit is easier for the sighted itinerant and resource teachers to teach reading and writing of print because most of these teachers are not proficient in the use of Braille. Let me note here that this is not totally the fault of those teachers. College programs in special education are not requiring them to learn Braille, and many are lucky if they even receive one semester of Braille instruction. In any case, isn't it easier for the partially blind student to haul around a visual television magnifier? Can't the student use his speech-equipped computer in class instead of that small slate and stylus which would fit so easily into purse or pocket? Finallyand most pertinent to the issue in questionwho wants to look blind anyway?
It would appear that some professional educators have sought to cut Braille out of the standard curriculum of alternative techniques taught to blind children having some useful residual vision. Furthermore, totally blind children have not been pushed to attain real proficiency in reading and writing Braille. Thus, an alarming rate of functional illiteracy has been fostered which is rampant among blind students throughout this nation.
Part of the blame for this deplorable state of affairs must be pinned on the community of blind adults who have not been more vocal about the loss of status for Braille in the individualized education plans for blind students and who have not been more vigilant in reaching out to the parents of blind children to educate them as to the importance of Braille instruction. Too many parents have been left ignorant regarding the fact that Braille is the language of literacy for their blind and partially blind sons and daughters. Because these parents were not aware of the benefits of Braille instructionparticularly in the case of every partially blind childthese parents unquestioningly swallowed the myth sold to them by sighted professionals concerning Braille. That is, they believed that blind children who still possessed some residual vision couldn't possibly be blind and didn't need to gain facility in Braille. Furthermore, these parents were told that their children couldn't possibly be forced to learn Braille as long as they could still read print with their classmates. Trusting parents never took the time to analyze this thinking. If they had, they would have realized that their children had no choice in the other subjects which they were expected to learn in school in their basic educational curriculum. Was any fourth-grader ever asked if he wished to study Virginia History? Was any high-schooler given a choice about learning basic English composition? Can an academically-oriented child opt out when it comes to studying Algebra? Of course not! Like English or Algebra, Braille must be a required subject among blind and partially blind students. These children must be required to master this vital language of literacy before they are allowed to graduate from high school!
Blind peoplesuch as members of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginiaare waking up and accepting the challenge of insuring that Braille will be taught to all blind and partially blind students in this country. We are redoubling our efforts to educate parents of blind children regarding the absolute necessity of including Braille instruction in the curriculum of their blind sons and daughters. We are attending meetings such as this one to rally around the cause of Braille. We are demanding that those professionals in the education and rehabilitation systems who claim to be supporters of Braille come out of the closet and join in the fight to restore Braille to its rightful place in the education of blind children.
This issue is too critical to the success of blind and partially blind students to be buried in professional jargon or opinion. Let us learn from the experiences of blind and partially blind people everywhere and accept Braille as one of the most necessary, basic alternative techniques of blindness. Let us go forward to re-institute Braille as a foundational survival skill in the individualized educational plan for every blind child. Let us give Braille the same respect accorded to ink print and acknowledge it as the medium of literacy for blind and partially blind children.
By doing these things, we will help all blind children along their way toward obtaining first-class citizenship in today's society. We will have given them one of the most basic keys to security, equality, and opportunity. With Braille as their primary language of literacy, the next generation of blind children will be better prepared to assume their places among their sighted peers. Having mastered Braille as one of their major survival skills, these children will be literate enough to maximize their potential and will reach for heights as yet not gained by their blind compatriots. Braille will have given them the information they need to grasp their own success.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Portrait of Barbara Pierce.]
DOWN AND OUT IN BERWYN, ILLINOIS: DIALOGUE MAGAZINE GOES UNDER
by Barbara Pierce
On Monday evening, August 13, 1990, the Board of Trustees of Dialogue Publications, Inc. gathered sadly for what several have characterized as an inevitable meetingthe one at which by an all but unanimous decision they determined to end Dialogue's misery. For twenty-nine years the organization produced a quarterly magazine for blind readers and prided itself on its refusal to take controversial stands, calling the resulting fence-sitting objectivity (see the June, 1989, Braille Monitor). Early this past summer the Board contacted the magazine's readers and friends with an appeal for help. No one reading that letter or the column in the summer issue of Dialogue that reprinted it could avoid the conclusion that, unless some immediate source of funding were found, Dialogue would be at the end of its tether.
Clement Stone, the Chicago financier, had several times in the past come through at the eleventh hour with enough money to keep the enterprise afloat for a while; but, though Mr. Stone apparently never himself rebuffed Dialogue's recent overtures, according to one source he buffered himself with so many layers of staff that the publication's fund-raiser could not get through.
It is now pretty generally agreed that Wally Adams was hired in 1987 as director of development primarily because of his contacts with Clement Stone. From the beginning Federationists have gone on record as being dismayed at the poor quality of the writing and worse attitudes about blindness displayed in the fund-raising materials prepared by Mr. Adams. During the intervening years, more than one Dialogue staff member has complained bitterly in private about his appointment and has commented with grimly perverse satisfaction on the ineffectiveness of his campaigns and materials.
During the months preceding their resignations from the Dialogue Board of Trustees in early 1988, the two Federation representatives repeatedly urged that the fund-raising materials be rewritten and the campaign be reconceived. As one of those two representatives, I can testify that most of our board colleagues seemed to have no idea what we meant when we pointed out that the materials were, at best, semi-literate and filled with condescension toward the blind. Adams was a former member of the board, he was a Lion, and he had some contacts with the Stone organization. Therefore, he was the perfect man for the job, and no Jonny-come-lately board members (blind or not, experienced with non-profit fund raising or no) could possibly have anything significant to contribute to the discussion. Though Jerry Novak, president of the Board of Trustees at the time, suggests that he was not happy with the notion of hiring Adams, the board embraced the idea with no hesitation expressed by anyone in a leadership position. Some on the editorial staff say now that it was Novak's responsibility to find a way of scuttling the plan to hire Adams before it ever got to the board.
About the first thing Adams did was to formulate a plan to raise five million dollars in (as I remember it) five years. It seemed likely to me that the scheme would never raise much money; and when I recently asked Dan Finch, Dialogue's managing editor at the time of its demise, how successful this development program had been, Finch commented, "When we were two and a half years into the plan and two years and five months behind schedule, we began to suspect that something was wrong." With all this as background it is not surprising, then, that the day following the August 13 board meeting, Wally Adams was sent packing, but not before the damage was done.
Friday, August 18, 1990, was the last day of work for Dan Finch and Deborah Blank, the two editors; and other staff members will be released as their tasks are completed. It is never pleasant to watch people being thrown out of work; but, when those folks have written competently and shared themselves with their audience, it is like helplessly watching the suffering of friends. Bonnie Miller, who until last winter was editorial director, seems to have read the handwriting on the wall and found another job before the crash. We can only hope that Finch and Blank will be as lucky.
One is left to ponder the question of why Dialogue did go under. As I have spoken with staff members in the last several weeks, I have been told both that there weren't enough blind people in influential positions and that, because blind people had been allowed to run things for so long, not enough business principles had been applied to the operation. It seems fairly clear that Dialogue Publications, Inc. has not had the opportunity to benefit much from the application of sound business practice, but I am certain that this has nothing to do with whether or not the managers and members of the Board of Trustees through the years have been blind.
Jerry Novak (since spring of 1989, executive director of Dialogue, while continuing as president of the board) has concluded, as he said in interviews with the Braille Monitor, that there is no longer a place for a publication like Dialogue. He maintains both that the general public is no longer interested in contributing to such a magazine and that the blind no longer depend on Dialogue because they can now get much of the same information from other sources.
As a result, he has spent much time in the last year exploring possible alternatives that might have allowed the organization to branch out in new directions and still publish the magazine, perhaps in fewer formats. He reports that none of these efforts succeeded in the time Dialogue turned out to have left. Staffers were hopeful at one point, according to Novak, that Hadley School for the Blind might take over the publication and keep it going, but he reports that Hadley eventually decided against such a financial investment, and discussions broke off.
So why did Dialogue go under? Obviously blind people are not willing to pay even the production costs for themselves. The $20 a year requested for subscriptions did not begin to cover this cost and was not paid by a long list of readers anyway. People may argue that blind readers are too poor or too used to handouts to bother paying for what they want, or that Dialogue's let's-not-offend-anybody-by-taking-a-stand-on-anything policy no longer holds the appeal that it may once have done. In any case, it seems pretty clear to everyone that the general public really is no longer interested in contributing to a charity that promises only to provide a quarterly informational magazine to blind people.
Perhaps this is attributable to the proliferation of disability organizations, all trying to raise money to support their programs. Maybe it is actually that the NFB's efforts to educate the public are taking hold. Maybe people are coming to understand the real injustices that face blind people and to recognize that we truly are competent and able to compete if we are given the chance to prove ourselves. Those who are persuaded by such arguments are likely to find that helping us to change the status quo is more constructive than providing blind folks with an occasional magazine to read.
Dan Finch disagrees with those who have argued that Dialogue Publications could have succeeded only if it expanded into new areas. He believes that it might have survived if the staff had been willing to make some hard decisions that would have resulted in the magazine's shrinking. He maintains that Dialogue has continued to straddle the fence, providing some technical material and some non-technical features, allowing those interested exclusively in either area to complain bitterly about the presence of the other material. Finch thinks that if Dialogue could have decided which sort of publication it should become, it might have found a niche.
Although spasmodic efforts are still being made to find a wealthy individual or organization to take over, it really does look as though Dialogue has produced its last issue. Novak says that he and the board committee, appointed to oversee the dissolution, are making an effort to wind up the operation with dignity and responsibility. He is not prepared to say how long this will take.
Perhaps the most sensible epitaph for Dialogue was spoken by Mary Borden, director of business affairs for the magazine and a loyal and dedicated employee for many years. Jerry Novak reported to me that Mary had pointed out that all things must die and that, when an organization has outlived its usefulness, the time has come to let it go. No matter how personally sorry employees or readers may be to watch the ending of an era, "To everything there is a season"; and for Dialogue this would appear to be the season of endings.
Postscript: As this issue goes to press in late September, rumors continue to circulate that Dialogue may yet rise from the dead. Several organizations have apparently expressed interest in purchasing Dialogue equipment, but the name of Lifeprints Magazine pops up time and again in whispers about takeover. Carol McCarl, Editor of Lifeprints, accused the Braille Monitor of attempting to "publish rumors" when the Associate Editor asked her directly if Lifeprints was considering the acquisition of Dialogue. With some heat she said that Lifeprints had only $6,000 in its treasury, and she had to maintain another full-time job to keep food on the table. By implication at least, she certainly suggested that she could not take on Dialogue in addition to her other responsibilities.
On September 18 Novak insisted that no decision had (as of late September) been made by the special committee or rubberstamped by the Dialogue Board. When pressed for a time table, he did say that he thought that a final decision would be made during the next month. It begins to seem certain that Dialogue as a fixture in Berwyn, Illinois, and the darling of the Illinois Lions Clubs is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, but whether, phoenix-like, it will rise from its own ashes somewhere else is still not clear as we go to press. An even greater mystery is the question of how a newly resuscitated Dialogue would bankroll itself. As the radio commentators used to say, "Tune in again for the next exciting episode."
UPDATE ON RECORDING FOR THE BLIND
From the Editor: Monitor readers will remember that we carried articles about Recording for the Blind in the May and June issues this year. The first of these (by Adrienne Asch) was generally favorable, and the second (by Cherie Heppe) was, by and large, critical. John Kelly, the head of borrower services for RFB, attended our fiftieth anniversary convention in Dallas and spoke to our Student Division.
He spent most of the week at the convention, and I had several conversations with him while he was there. He said that Recording for the Blind had severed its ties with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) and that RFB would like to participate more broadly than it had in the past in the affairs of the blind. Kelly was open and amiable and seemed to make a favorable impression.
He told me that Ritchie Geisel, RFB's President, would like to come to the National Center for the Blind to talk with me; and, indeed, upon my return to Baltimore a letter from Geisel was waiting for me. He came to the National Center for the Blind late in July, and we talked at some length about a broad range of topics. With respect to NAC, Geisel said that RFB had simply quietly severed the connection, stopped using the NAC logo, and dropped its accreditation. He said that RFB did not feel that further association with NAC served any useful purpose but that the withdrawal had been made without fanfare to avoid so far as possible any controversy. I replied that if NAC is as destructive as many of us say, all organizations of good will in the field should take a public stand and not simply remain silent, leaving others to clean up the mess.
Geisel and I reminisced about RFB's past. There was a time when the organization was relatively insignificant and of little account. When it first started (in the late forties as I remember), its books were recorded on soundscriber discs and contained more scratch and static than literary substance. But those days are gone. RFB is now a sizable, well-established organization providing important and meaningful services to the blind of the nation, and it clearly wants to take its place as a major player in the field. The severing of relations with NAC is obviously a step on that road, for how many agencies of any consequence continue to allow themselves to be tarred with the NAC brush? As part of our interchange Geisel talked with me about the articles we carried earlier this year concerning RFB (see May and June, 1990, editions of the Braille Monitor). Quite naturally he was pleased with the first article and unhappy with the second. He said he would like to make a statement to Monitor readers, and I told him we would print what he had to say. If RFB chooses to do so, it can make an increasingly important contribution to the betterment of the lives of the blind of the nation, not just by the provision of reading matter and textbooks but by other means as well. Here are Mr. Geisel's comments:
Princeton, New Jersey
June 28, 1990
Dr. Kenneth Jernigan
The Braille Monitor
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
As president of Recording for the Blind, I would like to respond to the two recent articles about our organization that appeared in recent issues of the Braille Monitor.
Adrienne Asch's description of RFB (May, 1990) was accurate and comprehensive, and we are delighted that she took the opportunity to share her RFB knowledge and experience with Monitor readers. As a long-time borrower, Ms. Asch provides significant insights, and the two suggestions she offers at the close of her articlefor obtaining input from borrowers and for the employment of blind individuals at RFBare particularly timely. This spring RFB formed a Consumer Advisory Council composed of borrowers, parents of borrowers, and service providers, and our first extensive borrower survey is scheduled for this fall. Also, although RFB has employed blind people for some time, we are presently exploring and purchasing adaptive equipment to employ people in a wider variety of positions in a cross section of our departments.
Cherie Heppe's article (June, 1990), however, contained a number of misstatements about the mission, scope, and policies of RFB, which I would like to clarify for readers of the Monitor:
1) The two print copies that RFB requires of books we record are not for copyright purposes, but rather (as Ms. Asch had correctly noted in her article) to insure quality in the recording process. (One copy is read by the reader, who sits in a soundproof recording booth and the other by the monitor, who "proofreads" the text as it is being recorded.) This is not a new policy but has been in effect since the 1960s, when RFB first began compiling its recorded books in a permanent library collection.
2) Because RFB has specific (and stringent) guidelines for the recording and acquisition of new books and can't record all books requested by all people, it strongly endorsesand regularly refers people tosmaller, independent recording organizations. With only seven to ten percent of the books published each year reaching any kind of medium (tape, Braille, or large print) for blind and visually impaired people, it is essential that we coordinate and not compete with other agencies, to make the best use of the limited and finite resources of us all. To do this, RFB has taken a leadership role in the Coalition for Information Access for Print-Handicapped Readers (CIAPHR), which seeks to compile a comprehensive data base of all of the approximately 1,000 organizations that record books in North America.
3) Concerning Ms. Heppe's statement that "RFB raises money and puts itself out to the public as providing comprehensive services to blind borrowers," exactly the opposite is true. We stress to the public and to our donors (as we are emphasizing here) that we are not an "umbrella" organization providing a variety of different kinds of services to blind people. Nor do we, in fact, provide all kinds of recorded books. Our special "niche" is recorded educational books that meet specific criteria. Most of our grants are provided for very specific projects (for example, a certain number of science books on the junior high level) and certainly not for "comprehensive services."
4) As stated in our recording policy (which I have enclosed), "Given the academic focus of RFB's library and the limited capacity to meet all recording requests, RFB is unable to record books that are not widely recognized for their academic content. RFB does not record material for single classes or individual schools, by a particular [geographic] population, or for specific jobs or individual testing." RFB did not record the books that Ms. Heppe requested for use in her classes in the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic because they would have extremely limited circulation value. To address Ms. Heppe's concern for the many blind people who will attend other chiropractic and professional schools which require the use of specialized texts, I have enclosed bibliographies of the hundreds of volumes RFB has on health-related fields of study including chiropractic , as well as anatomy, rehabilitative medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and neurophysiology.
Most of the new books in our collection are the result of requests from our borrowers. However, this doesn't mean that we can record all books requested by all borrowers. RFB provides one specialized service to the best of our ability, within the scope of our mission and purposeand limitations. We fill an important niche in the overall service system in our country that provides materials in formats accessible to blind and visually impaired people, but we are one resource among many. For an educational book such as a textbook or advanced or specialized text, our 76,000-volume library is a good place to start.
Incidentally, we are pleased to report that the book Ms. Asch mentioned at the start of her article, Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students, has just been completed by our recording studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, and is available to all RFB borrowers.
Ritchie L. Geisel, President
Recording for the Blind
RFB's Recording Policy For Books Added To The Master Tape Library
RFB records only complete, published, and copyrighted books that are educational in nature. Academic levels of books recorded range from fifth grade through graduate school and into the professions. Subjects include social sciences, foreign languages, mathematics and pure sciences, applied sciences and technology, arts and humanities, philosophy, religious studies, medicine, and law.
RFB does not presently record dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, Bibles, periodicals, including magazines, journals and individual articles, manuscripts, pamphlets, general reference materials, or sections of books.
RFB makes every attempt not to duplicate the recording services of other organizations. In particular, taped books that are available through recreational reading sources, such as NLS/BPH, or through religious organizations, such as the Xavier Society, the Jewish Braille Institute, or the John Milton Society, are not recorded.
Consideration is also given to copyright dates and editions. Books with copyright dates prior to 1980 are generally not recorded when more recent editions exist in the library.
Given the academic focus of RFB's library and the limited capacity to meet all recording requests, RFB is unable to record books that are not widely recognized for their academic content. RFB does not record material used only for single classes or individual schools (Yale Biology 101), by a particular population (Philadelphia's Community Guide to Good Dining), or for specific jobs or individual testing (Allstate Insurance Planner).
RFB's librarians do not act as subject specialists. Instead, they rely on the collecting patterns of more than ten thousand other libraries in the network to which RFB belongs. Books designated for further consideration are compared with the holdings of other academic libraries of RFB's size and nature.
These guidelines should be helpful in deciding what books RFB will record. Exceptions will be considered, and if questions arise, please direct them to Library Services or Recording Services.
[PHOTO: Blind child sitting at desk in classroom reading Braille book. CAPTION: Braille is a useful tool for all blind children.]
[PHOTO: Blind child sitting with Braille book in lap using slate and stylus. CAPTION: Here Brent Ford of Maplewood, Missouri, uses a Braille book as a lap desk as he writes with his slate and stylus.]
BRAILLE READERS ARE LEADERS CONTEST, 1991
From the Associate Editor: Like many other lovers of good books, I read myself to sleep most nights. I used to depend upon plugging in a pillowphone to my Library of Congress playback machine or record player to prevent keeping my husband awake, but no more. For the last two years I have been working in a concentrated way to increase my Braille-reading skill, so now I snuggle down under the blankets with a Braille volume and perfect my skill in turning pages silently while I practice my Braille.
It is a painless way of getting the drill I need, but it is happening forty years later than it should have. On the whole I don't believe that there is much to be gained from spending time wishing that things had been different, but I do feel a twinge of regret and a special excitement each fall when I see the announcement of the annual Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest for young readers. The skill that this contest promotes is so desperately important to the future competence of today's Braille-reading children that all of us must encourage the blind youngsters we know to enter it and work to win. Every blind child (with or without usable vision) increases his or her chances for success by becoming a Braille reader. Here is the information about the 1990-91 contest.
The Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille are pleased to announce our Seventh Annual Contest for Braille readers, kindergarten through twelfth grades.
The purpose of the NFB's Annual Braille Reading Contest is to encourage blind school children to read more Braille. It is just as important for blind children to be literate as it is for other children. Good readers can have confidence in themselves and their abilities to learn and to adapt to new situations throughout their lives. Braille is a viable alternative to print for the blind child, yet many blind children are graduating from our schools with poor Braille skills and low expectations for themselves as Braille readers. They do not know that Braille readers can be competitive with print readers. The NFB's Braille Reading Contest helps blind children realize that reading Braille is fun and rewarding. They discover that Braille readers really are leaders.
Who Can Enter The Contest?
School-age children from kindergarten through the twelfth grade are eligible to enter. A student can choose to compete in any one of five categories. The first is the beginning print to Braille reader. This is for children who have been print readers, but who have begun learning and using Braille within the past two years. This includes formerly sighted children who became blind after they had learned to read print and partially-sighted children who are or have been print users but have begun to learn and use Braille in addition to or in place of print.
Again, this applies only to children within the first two years of learning and using Braille. After that they must enter one of the other categories. These are grades K-1, 2-4, 5-8, and 9-12.
Prizes For The Contest
First-, second-, and third-place winners will be selected from each of the five categories. All winners will receive a special certificate and a distinctive NFB BRAILLE READERS ARE LEADERS T-shirt, which will proclaim to the world that they are winners. Cash prizes will also be awarded. In each category first-place winners will receive $50, second-place winners $25 and third-place winners $10. Prizes will be personally awarded, whenever possible, by representatives of the National Federation of the Blind. Schools are encouraged to schedule the presentations during the yearly school awards ceremony.
Because we believe all the children are winners and deserve recognition for their efforts, all contestants will receive a Braille certificate and a special token for participating. We also encourage schools to arrange public presentations to honor these students. Again, members of the NFB will participate in these activities whenever possible.
Most Improved Braille Reader
Special recognition will be given to the five contestants, regardless of category, who demonstrate the most improvement over their performance in the previous year's contest. To be considered for the Most Improved Braille Reader Award the contestant must enter the contest for two consecutive years, cannot be a winner in the current or a previous NFB Annual Braille reading contest, and cannot have won this award before. Winners of the Most Improved Braille Reader Award will receive five dollars and a letter of commendation.
Rules for the Contest
Contest first-, second-, and third-place winners will be selected within each of the five categories. Winners will be chosen based on the number of Braille pages read. The one who reads the largest number of Braille pages will be the first-place winner; the second largest the second-place winner; and the third largest the third-place winner. The contest entry form must be completely filled out and received by the judges no later than February 10, 1991.
Contestants must submit with their entry forms both Braille and print lists of the books and magazines they have read. The lists must contain information in this order: 1. Name of student and student's contest category, 2. Name of book or magazine, 3. author of book, 4. magazine volume and date, 5. Number of Braille pages read in each book or magazine, and 6. Total number of Braille pages read. Both Braille and print lists must be signed by the certifying authority.
The Certifying Authority is responsible for verifying that the student has actually read the Braille material that he or she reports reading and that the material was read between November 1, 1990, and February 1, 1991 (contestants may not count material read before the contest begins); filling out and sending in the contest entry form in an accurate, complete, and timely fashion; and assisting the student in finding Braille materials to read for the contest.
Teachers, librarians, and parents may serve as certifying authorities and as such must be prepared to cooperate with the judges if they have any questions or need additional information about an entry. All decisions of the judges are final.
Official entry forms are available from the National Center for the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. Please use an official form when submitting the print list of books and magazines read, or be sure to include all the information listed in the Contest Rules section of this article. If additional paper is needed, be sure to put the name of the student and his or her contest category at the top of each additional page and number each page (e.g., page 2 of 2). The Braille list should follow the same format. Note: Please list the author's name for books and list volume and date for magazines.
Mail entries to Mrs. Sandy Halverson, 403 West 62nd Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri 64113. For more information call Mrs. Halverson at (816) 361-7813 or Mrs. Barbara Cheadle at (301) 659-9314.
[2 PHOTOS: One of Kenneth Jernigan standing outside with blind students at a swing set, and one standing with them at a gym set. CAPTION: Kenneth Jernigan is shown here with blind children at the Salvation Army School for the Blind in Kingston, Jamaica.]
POVERTY AND PROGRESS IN JAMAICA
by Barbara Pierce
In late September, 1990, the North America/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union (WBU) conducted its fall meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, immediately following the annual gathering of the Caribbean Council for the Blind (CCB). Several of the delegates to the regional WBU meeting, including Dr. Jernigan, traveled south early enough to attend the Caribbean Council conference.
Although I am not a WBU regional delegate, I flew to Kingston on Sunday, September 23 to chair a meeting of the regional Committee on the Status of Blind Women since both the other members of that committee were already there for the CCB and WBU meetings, and it seemed like a good opportunity to do our work and report to the region. During the three days I spent in Kingston, I toured two facilities serving the blind of Jamaica. I found both fascinating and, in their separate ways, inspiring.
Monday morning the group from Canada and the United States drove to the Salvation Army School for the Blind on the outskirts of Kingston. It serves all of Jamaica and sometimes accepts students from other nations in the West Indies. Founded sixty-three years ago, it currently enrolls about 110 youngsters from the age of five, or a little less, to eighteen, or a little more. Rules are flexible in this loving institution; and, if a child needs to enroll earlier or stay a little longer, things can be arranged.
In 1973 the school moved to its current facility on several acres of ground. Because Jamaica has both a tropical climate and fairly steady ocean breezes, the school's construction is open and airy. Many of the halls are nothing more than covered walkways outside the classrooms, which themselves have large windows to catch the slightest air movement. I would find such an arrangement distracting as either a student or a teacher, but the classes we passed were hard-working, and the children quiet.
The Deaf/Blind Unit was separate from the rest of the school. There were three classes, and we talked to the teacher of the preschoolers, who had nine children in her class. Several of these were normally hearing and seeing youngsters who are enrolled in order to give the deaf/blind children experience in the ways in which other boys and girls behave. The teacher commented that the parents of the regular students are pleased with the program because their children would otherwise attend classes of fifty to sixty in ordinary schools.
These children, like all those we saw, seemed busy and happy. The teachers spoke with pride and affection of their students' accomplishments, and they obviously knew and cared about each of their charges.
Major Lacario is the head mistress of the school and has been there for twenty-five years. From what we saw, she is a gifted administrator and a deeply committed educator. The students put on an impromptu program for us during the course of the morning. This consisted of songs and recitations from individuals and small groups of students. All of the children were charming. They wear school uniformsgingham dresses for the little girls, blue ones for the older, and blue pull-overs and tan shorts for the boys. All of the performers conducted themselves with poise and skill, and one little girl (so tiny that she had to stand on a chair to reach the microphone) stole everyone's heart.
Of course, things are far from perfect at the Salvation Army school. Hurricane Gilbert did terrible damage, which is only now being repaired. There are painful teacher shortages, and with the almost total lack of housing in the Kingston area, it will be very difficult to fill the positions even if money for salaries is available. There are, of course, no computers, no magnifiers, and painfully little in the way of strong vocational preparation. Though Braille is being taught everywhereI was introduced to several four- and five-year-olds and told how many Braille signs they had already learned this school yearmaterials and equipment are woefully lacking. The conversion to American Braille, particularly so that math and science can be taught more effectively, is very slow. None of the students we saw were using white canes. Those with a little sight guided their friends with less.
In recent years more and more emphasis has been placed on integrating blind students from the school into regular secondary classes. The complications, though, are formidable.
How does a blind student enrolled in a regular secondary school obtain accessible textbooks when there is no organization in the country equivalent to the National Library Service or Recording for the Blind and the only Brailling program is conducted by the School for the Blind? How does he or she do homework and complete tests in a form readable by the faculty without a typewriter and the skill to use it? Can such students reasonably be expected to travel to and from homeassuming that home is in the vicinity of the schooland from class to class when effective cane travel has never been offered to them? These are only a few of the difficulties that beset those who yearn for what in Jamaica is called integrated education. The wonder is that there are actually students who are overcoming these and many other barriers to their progress.
To gather some idea of what happens to blind Jamaicans after they leave school, I also toured the Jamaica Society for the Blind, the only agency directly charged with assisting blind adults in Jamaica. Much of the staff was attending a seminar the day I visited, so I was not able to talk with them, but what I saw was both dismaying and inspiring.
A blind college student was prowling around the library, doing research for a course on blindnesshe is studying to become a teacher of the blind. Hurricane Gilbert destroyed much of the Braille collection, and that which survived is not yet shelved in the newly provided space. The student found one book on blindness. The librarian told him that there was a biography of Helen Keller, and when pressed, he admitted that somewhere there was probably something about Louis Braille. I mentioned that he could find information in the Braille Monitor, which the Society receives in Braille, but those volumes seemed to be in circulation and so were not available.
My tour guide introduced me to about a half dozen men and women who were caning chairs. I learned that in 1981 the Salvation Army decided to close its workshop, and the people who worked there lost their jobs. Seven of them pooled their resources and formed a co-operative to continue chair-caning, and the Jamaica Society gave them temporary space. That arrangement seems to have become more or less permanent, and the co-operative now has about a dozen members. A blind woman serves as secretary, keeping records in Braille, and the Society provides other clerical and support services to the group. I was told that many of the wealthier people on the island give all their caning work to the co-op, and the workers told me that the chairs they were then caning were destined for sale in Miami. But one Society staffer told me that they desperately need help with marketing and administration of the business. There is no one to show them what needs to be done or to train them to begin doing it. The result is that the co-op members earn a pittance even though they work for themselves.
In talking with them, I was struck with their clear intelligence and articulateness. These are people who seem to have made the most of their educational opportunities, but they have apparently gone as far as their own efforts can take them.
The three rehabilitation officers were out during my tour, so I had no chance to discuss their program and problems with them. I feel certain, however, from what other staffers said that they have too much to do and too little equipment.
The librarian told me that the Society desperately needs tape recorders. Ideally they would like to have machines that would play and record at both the slow speed used by the U.S. National Library Service and the faster speed generally used for cassette recording. The Society's library has on hand a number of NLS-produced cassette books but very few players with which they could be read. So the books sit unused, and the people sit idle.
A trip like mine to Jamaica leaves a thoughtful person with mixed feelings. One cannot help being grateful for the services and opportunities that do exist in this country. Sometimes, when we collide with bureaucratic or institutional stupidity, we forget just how much we really do have to be grateful for. Not that we should slacken the struggle for equality of opportunity, but it is salutary to remember just how much we have already won. One ought not, however, to duck the question of what can be done to help blind people around the world. Obviously we cannot divert much of our resources and energy to assist blind people in less developed countries. The need is so great that our investment of money and expertise would be swallowed up without accomplishing much good. If there is one thing that the past thirty years should have taught us Americans, it is that throwing money at international problems and handing out free advice solve nothing and make enemies.
But there is benefit in learning, in coming to understand the magnitude of the problems that face others around the world. There may well be times and places when we can help appropriately and effectively. There is certainly much to commend and nurture in Jamaica.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Portrait of James Sanders.]
[PHOTO: Members of WBU Executive Committee seated in large meeting room. CAPTION: The Executive Committee of the World Blind Union meets at the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Poland, March 26, 1990.]
REPORT ON POLAND
by James Sanders
From the Editor: Jim Sanders is the National Director of Government Relations and International Services for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. He is also one of the Canadian delegates to the World Blind Union and makes valuable contributions to the work of the North America/Caribbean Region of the WBU. As Monitor readers know, the WBU Officers and Executive Committee met in Warsaw, Poland, in late March of 1990. I asked Mr. Sanders to gather data about the Polish Association of the Blind and related matters. He did so, and the results are interesting and informative; but it must be remembered that neither he nor I can vouch for the accuracy of all the data we were given. I should also say that it is my intention (assuming, that is, that I ever get the time to do it) to write a report to Monitor readers concerning the work I have been doing for the World Blind Union, including my travels to Denmark, Poland, Jamaica, and other places. But for the present such a report must be placed in the pending file. Meanwhile here, in part, is what Jim Sanders has to say:
An appreciation of the WBU Officers and Executive Committee meetings is better understood within the context of the setting and atmosphere of Poland and the situation in which the people of Poland now find themselves. Supporting a population of 37.5 million, Poland (as with most Eastern Block countries) finds itself politically and economically turned upside down almost overnight. For the first time in over forty years Poles are experiencing acute inflation and unemployment. As a result, street crime in major cities is rising dramatically. The average worker in Poland earns approximately $70 per month. Inflation is wiping out life savings overnight. Combined with the artificially managed economy, propped up by international borrowing, Poland and the other Eastern Block countries face a monumental challenge. Industrial pollution may well pose the biggest threat and long-term social, health, and economic obstacle facing Poland and surrounding countries.
The atmosphere and reaction of residents throughout Poland and, in particular, Warsaw, was optimistic and at times enthusiastic. Many Poles remember the total devastation of Warsaw and its re-building brick by brick. In fact, the present city is approximately six feet higher than pre-World War II Warsaw, because the bombed-out ruins were bulldozed and new buildings and pavements constructed over the rubble. Plans for renewal have once again begun.
Polish Association of the Blind
As host of the WBU Executive Committee meeting, the Polish Association of the Blind demonstrated their organizational skills and international commitment despite facing severe financial cutbacks of government support less than two months before the conference. The Association has consumer-based structure and could be considered the umbrella organization for all services to blind persons and the direct provider of most services. Approximately 73,000 blind and visually impaired persons are registered with the Association. Through the Association-issued identity card, blind persons have access to many financial concessions and special considerations. For example, in Poland the average family is allowed sixty square meters of living space. If a family member is blind, the family qualifies for one additional room to accommodate extra equipment such as Braille books, guide dogs, etc. This access to government and other services provides an incentive for blind persons to join and become involved in the Polish Association of the Blind.
We were told that membership entitles each blind person to a say in the manner in which the Association is operated. Some 300 "circles" of blind persons form the local voluntary component. From these, delegates are elected to sit on one of thirty-four branches and, from these, thirty-four delegates are elected as the governing body of the Polish Association of the Blind.
The Association has a highly developed service delivery system, with most branches having at least basic rehabilitation, orientation and mobility, and counseling services available. At its headquarters in Warsaw, the Association operates a sophisticated technology center, Braille and talking book production/distribution, and employment counseling/training. Their state-of-the-art recording studios are often rented out to professional musicians.
The demographics of blindness in Poland parallels that of North America. Their approach to employment through the use of collectives does set them apart from our experience.
In Poland, as with most Eastern Block countries, employee-controlled collectives provide the majority of blind employment. We were told that 15,000 blind persons are employed in Poland and that approximately two-thirds of these work in thirty-three collectives throughout the country. Products are sold commercially and therefore must be of the highest standard. Products include brooms, brushes, and mops; electronic components for televisions and radios; and metal products for automotive and building components.
Earlier this year the government dissolved the collective associations which acted as an umbrella group which assessed each collective according to earnings and redistributed them to less viable units. Now, each collective must be a financially self-sustaining entity. This, combined with the general economic condition of the country, has placed many collectivesblind and sightedin jeopardy. In fact, the blind collective in Krakow was on a hunger strike during the time of the WBU meetings.
The Bulgarian delegate to the WBU reported that blind collectives in his country produce some 450 products in over 100 workshops and factories, with an estimated value of $180 million.
Nowa-PracaNew Job: Knitting Collective
Delegates were provided with a tour of this Warsaw-based collective, which employs 320 persons. It produces high quality hand- and machine-knitted garments. People can buy directly from this factory. Products are also sold in regular retail outlets.
We were told that all profits are combined and redistributed to the workers with a portion of revenue turned back into the business. At least to the present, collectives operate on a tax-free basis. The equivalent of business tax is set aside and used to provide workers with rehabilitation training, specialized technology, education, and in some instances subsidized housing. Workers meet each year to review the financial situation and vote on a course of action. An addition to this factory is in the process of being built. At the same time, the economic downturn has caused a drop in sales and some loss of employment. Management is looking for new and different products which would help maintain the work force.
Laski School for the Blind
Established in 1907 in Warsaw by a blind woman and moved to its present 125-acre site within the Laski National Forest just outside Warsaw in 1922, this school has become internationally renowned. The center of a major World War II battle in 1939, the complex was completely destroyed and rebuilt and once again totally destroyed in 1944 under similar circumstances. Today it is a complex of sixty separate buildings of various sizes, shapes, and construction and houses 303 students from junior kindergarten through to high school graduation. It is one of six schools for the blind in Poland and the only privately operated institution. It has maintained international links, including annual direct consultation by staff of the Western Michigan Orientation and Mobility School and the Philadelphia Low Vision Clinic.
In addition to an academic program, the School operates the only infant stimulation program and training for multi-handicapped blind children. It provides some community-based vocational counseling and employment training, operates a low vision and vision rehabilitation clinic, and established the Nowa 0Praca Knitting Collective some thirty-four years ago to provide employment opportunities for many of its graduates. The curriculum places great emphasis on Braille, orientation and mobility, and general skills toward independent living.
The majority of students are provided with residential accommodation. Therefore, the School operates six days per week instead of the normal five, thus allowing both students and staff extended holidays throughout the year.
There are many vocationally-oriented programs, including the production of sophisticated electronic components and massage therapy. These programs operate on a cooperative basis, enabling the students to combine training with on-the-job experience in business and industry. All programs are geared to independent living, whether they are through higher education, employment, or homemaking. Students in this and other specialized schools for the blind are encouraged to transfer to regular schools in their home areas as soon as possible.
Guide Dog Schools
Poland's only guide dog training center is operated by the police. "Less aggressive" dogs are trained as guides for blind persons rather than as police guard and attack dogs. Generally, blind persons in Poland do not consider this an appropriate approach, both in philosophical and practical terms.
There are approximately 700 war blinded persons living in Poland today. Similar to North America, they have their own association and network.
[PHOTO: Portrait of Peggy Pinder. CAPTION: Peggy Pinder, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee of the National Federation of the Blind.]
by Barbara Pierce
Every organization which sets out to improve the world in some way requires from its volunteers countless hours of uncomfortable, boring, and repetitive activity. Envelope-stuffing, money-raising, and pavement-pounding in aid of the good cause absorb a large part of everybody's energy and time. The Federation is no exception in this regard. At every level of the organization members are forever rolling up our sleeves to tackle some unglamorous task, and usually a whole list of them. Luckily for us, the company is good and the goal overwhelmingly important, so we work with a will and discover all over again the fun and satisfaction of hard work in a good cause.
One of the things that sets the National Federation of the Blind apart from most other organizations, however, is the high proportion of activities that do not fall into the worthy but unexciting category I have just described. Talking to a class of eager school children about the abilities of blind people, working with the parents of a blind youngster for whom the future suddenly looks promising, teaching a newly-blind adult how to do the little things that give him back his dignity: these are all part and parcel of our work in the Federation.
One of the most exciting programs we conduct each year with the funds we so laboriously earn is our Scholarship Program. In 1991 twenty-seven men and women will be presented with scholarships totaling $87,500 at the convention in New Orleans. More exciting than this impressive figure, however, is the fact that many hundreds of post-secondary students will apply for these awards and, as a result, will come into contact with the members and philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. Many of our most dedicated younger leaders today are men and women who first learned about the Federation through the scholarship-application process.
It is hard to overstate the importance of the NFB in the lives of these students. At a time of great personal and academic challenge in their lives, they discover the support, expertise, and strength of the NFB as a resource on which they can draw and to which they can contribute their own skills and experience. This life-changing encounter will be a possibility every time a blind student picks up a 1991 scholarship form during the next several months, and past experience suggests that it will certainly take place hundreds of times.
Do I describe this encounter too dramatically? I don't think so. I am lucky enough to read a number of letters that are written to President Maurer and members of the Scholarship Committee each year. In their individual ways they paint the same picture I have just sketched. Kyle McHugh, for example, is a young woman who lost her sight rather quickly but was not able to obtain good rehabilitation. She refused to be daunted by these setbacks and has held a job for five years as Legislative Assistant to one of Massachusetts's most influential state senators. Last year Kyle decided to return to school to earn a master's degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She applied for an NFB scholarship and was chosen as a winner. She arrived at the convention still recovering from extensive foot surgery and unable to walk quickly or confidently. Was she overwhelmed by the tempo of the convention or the pace of busy Federationists? Was she dismayed by the evidence in others of skills that rehabilitation officials had not thought necessary for her to master? Here is the letter she wrote to President Maurer immediately following the 1990 convention. Judge for yourself:
July 16, 1990
Dear President Maurer,
I wish to thank you and the entire NFB, not only for a very generous scholarship, but for an extremely significant convention week. It was an experience which I know has changed my life.
The money awarded me by the NFB will certainly be of help in paying the enormous cost of graduate school. I consider it an honor to have been selected as a recipient of such an award.
Perhaps more meaningful than the money, however, was the time I spent at the NFB convention. I was greatly impressed by the calibre of attendees, quality of programming, and efficiency of operation. I feel privileged to have attended such an inspiring conference.
I found it especially encouraging that this was the fiftieth anniversary of such a progressive organization. As I stood among my 2400 fellow members, I knew that the rights of the blind would never again be denied without a challenge.
A friend recently told me that he felt that "the nineties are the decade of the disabled." As long as NFB exists, every decade will be ours.
Thank you again for the scholarship and your inspiration.
Kyle E. McHugh
That is what one 1990 scholarship winner had to say, and the 1991 Scholarship Program is even more impressive than those of recent years. Several new awards are being offered. A complete list is included in the text of the application, which appears at the end of this article. Several changes should, perhaps, be noted. This year there are several new awards designed to assist students in particular disciplines: teaching, humanities, and technical studies, in addition to those that have been offered in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and professional programs. The Ezra Davis Memorial Scholarship is $6,000 this year, and the top scholarship award is $20,000. The magnitude of this award reflects, not only the escalating costs of education and of the technology which has simplified the lives of students, but also our growing understanding that reaching and assisting the nation's blind students is one of our most important responsibilities.
Again this year we are mailing the one-page scholarship forms to every college and university in the country, every agency doing work with the blind, every Congressional office, every NFB state president, and every member of the scholarship committee. They will also be sent to anyone requesting them. These are worthwhile scholarships which will be of real assistance to blind students. The news about our scholarship program should be disseminated as widely as possible. To receive forms or to obtain further information, contact Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 Fourth Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112; Phone (515) 236-3366. Forms can also be had by writing to Scholarships, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson St., Baltimore, Maryland 21230.
The following people have been named to serve on the 1991 Scholarship Committee: Peggy Pinder, Iowa, Chairman; Adrienne Asch, New Jersey; Steve Benson, Illinois; Jacquilyn Billey, Connecticut; Charles Brown, Virginia; Sharon Buchan, Alaska; Joanne Fernandes, Louisiana; Priscilla Ferris, Massachusetts; Michael Gosse, Pennsylvania; John Halverson, Missouri; Allen Harris, Michigan; Dave Hyde, Oregon; Tami Dodd Jones, Michigan; Christopher Kuczynski, Pennsylvania; Scott LaBarre, Minnesota; Melissa Lagroue, Alabama; Melody Lindsey, Florida; Matthew Millspaugh, California; Sharon Maneki, Maryland; Homer Page, Colorado; Barbara Pierce, Ohio; Ben Prows, Washington; Eileen Rivera, Maryland; Fred Schroeder, New Mexico; Heidi Sherman, Minnesota; Zachary Shore, Washington; Ramona Walhof, Idaho; Jim Willows, California; Gary Wunder, Missouri; Robin Zook, Utah.
Their terms begin January 1, 1991, and expire December 31. They will work hard to ensure that the upcoming Scholarship Program is as successful as the others have been. But each of us must do what we can to spread the word about this effort. The nation's blind students want to know about it, and it is our responsibility to assist them in every way we can.
Here is the text of the 1991 National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Form:
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND 1991 SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
Each year at its National Convention in July, the National Federation of the Blind gives a broad array of scholarships to recognize achievement by blind scholars. All applicants for these scholarships must be (1) legally blind and (2) pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time post-secondary course of study. In addition to these restrictions, some scholarships have been further restricted by the donor. Scholarships to be given at the National Convention in 1991 are listed here with any special restrictions noted:
1. National Federation of the Blind Distinguished Scholar of 1991; $20,000; given by an anonymous donor to recognize the outstanding achievement of a legally blind scholar in 1991. No additional restrictions.
2. Ezra Davis Memorial Scholarship; $6,000; endowed by Ezra Davis and given by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, a nonprofit organization which works to assist blind persons. No additional restrictions.
3. National Federation of the Blind Scholarships; seventeen to be given: three for $4,000; four for $2,500; ten for $2,000. No additional restrictions.
4. Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship; $3,000; given in memory of Melva T. Owen, who was widely known and loved among the blind. She and her husband Charles Owen became acquainted with increasing numbers of blind people through their work in the "Voicepondence" Club. Charles Owen says: "There shall be no limitation as to field of study, except that it shall be directed towards attaining financial independence and shall exclude religion and those seeking only to further general or cultural education."
5. Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship; $2,500; winner must be studying or planning to study in the fields of law, medicine, engineering, architecture, or the natural sciences.
6. Frank Walton Horn Memorial Scholarship; $2,500; given by Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Barnum, the mother and stepfather of Catherine Horn Randall. No additional restrictions, but preference will be given to those studying architecture or engineering.
7. Oracle Corporation Scholarship; $2,500; given by Oracle Corporation of Redwood Shores, California. Oracle is known for its groundbreaking relational data base management systems and related software applications. Scholarship given to encourage blind persons to excel in computer and technical areas of study. Winner must be studying in computer science, engineering, technical writing, or a similar discipline.
8. National Federation of the Blind Humanities Scholarship; $2,500; winner must be studying in the traditional humanities such as art, English, foreign languages, history, philosophy, or religion.
9. National Federation of the Blind Educator of Tomorrow Award; $2,500; winner must be planning a career in elementary, secondary, or post-secondary teaching.
10. Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship; $2,000; Dr. Isabelle Grant endowed this scholarship in memory of her daughter. Winner must be a woman.
11. Ellen Setterfield Memorial Scholarship; $2,000; given in memory of Ellen Setterfield by Roy Landstrom, who says: "During the course of her life, she gave of herself to defend the dignity and self-respect of those around her." Winner must be studying social sciences at the graduate level.
Criteria: All scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence, service to the community, and financial need.
Membership: The National Federation of the Blind is an organization dedicated to creating opportunity for all blind persons. Recipients of Federation scholarships need not be members of the National Federation of the Blind.
Making Application: To apply for National Federation of the Blind scholarships, complete and return the application on the reverse side of this sheet. Multiple applications are unnecessary. Each applicant will be considered for all scholarships for which he or she qualifies. Please provide all the applicable information requested and attach to the application all the additional documents requested on the application.
Reapplication: We have often awarded scholarships to persons applying for the second or third time. Even if previously submitted, current applications must be submitted to be considered for current scholarships. Those who have previously applied are encouraged to apply again.
Winners: The Scholarship Committee reviews all applications and selects the scholarship winners. These winners, the same number as there are scholarships to award, will be notified of their selection by June 1 and will be brought to the National Federation of the Blind convention in July at Federation expense. This is in addition to the scholarship grant. The winners are America's finest blind students.
The National Federation of the Blind Convention is the largest gathering of blind persons (more than 2,000) to occur anywhere in the nation each year. You will be able to meet other blind students and exchange information and ideas. You will also be able to meet and talk with blind people who are successfully functioning in your chosen profession or occupation. Federal officials, members of Congress, and the makers and distributors of new technology attend Federation conventions. Above all, a broad cross section of the most active segment of the blind population of the United States will be present to discuss common problems and plan for concerted action. It is an interesting and exciting week.
Awards: The day before the convention banquet the Scholarship Committee will meet to determine which winners will receive which scholarships. The scholarship awards will be made during the banquet.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION FORM
Read reverse side of form for instructions and explanation.
Form may be photocopied but only if reverse side is also included.
To apply for a scholarship, complete this application form and mail completed application and attachments to: Miss Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 - 4th Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112;
515-236-3366. Form must be received by March 31, 1991.
Name (please include any maiden or other names by which you have
Date of birth:
School phone number:
Home phone number:
Institution being attended in spring semester, 1991, with class
standing (freshman, senior, etc.):
Cumulative grade point at this institution:
Institution to be attended in fall of 1991, with class standing.
(Send by separate letter if admitted to school after submitting completed application):
List all post-secondary institutions attended with highest class
standing attained and cumulative grade point average:
High school attended and cumulative grade point:
State your major:
Awards and honors (attach list if necessary):
Community service (attach list if necessary):
Attach the following documents to completed application:
1. Send us a letter: What schools have you attended? What school do you plan to attend during the coming year? What honors have you achieved? What have you done to deal with situations involving your blindness? What are you like as a person? What are your goals and aspirations? How will the scholarship help you?
2. Send two letters of recommendation.
3. Provide current transcript from institution now attending and transcripts from all other post-secondary institutions attended. If you have not yet attended such an institution or have not completed one year of study, send high school transcript.
4. Send a letter from a state officer of the National
Federation of the Blind evidencing the fact that you have discussed your scholarship application with that officer. We prefer that you discuss your application with the Federation state president, but a letter from any Federation state officer will suffice. President's address provided upon request.
From the Associate Editor: October brings the crisp days of autumn and, for many of us, the first promise (or threat) of colder weather to come. This is casserole season, and here are several that will nourish the body and comfort the soul.
by Betty Capps
As Monitor readers know, Betty Capps is the indefatigable wife of Don Capps, the President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. She is also a frequent contributor to this section of the magazine.
1 can or package frozen cut asparagus 1 (10-3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup 8 slices cheese saltine crackers (with salt rubbed off)
Method: Butter bottom of small casserole dish. Cover bottom with half of crumbled saltines. Spread half of the asparagus over cracker crumbs. Spread half of the soup over asparagus and top with half of the cheese. Repeat with crackers, asparagus, soup, and top with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes on a low rack. Serves four.
by Betty Capps
1 (6-ounce) box long grain & wild rice mix
3-4 cups chopped, cooked chicken
2 (16-ounce) cans French-cut green beans, drained
or 2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen beans, thawed
1 (10-3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 (4-ounce) can diced pimento
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Method: Cook rice according to directions on box. Combine rice with other ingredients, mix well. Spoon into a lightly greased, 3-quart casserole dish, top with fresh bread crumbs and several pats of butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Yields 6 to 8 servings. (Good hot or cold.)
BAKED MUSHROOM AND RICE CASSEROLE
by Cynthia Handel
Cindy Handel is the Treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania. She is also a very good cook.
1 cup uncooked rice
½ cup onions, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 (2-1/2 ounce) can mushrooms with liquid
¼ cup pimentos, chopped
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup dry sherry
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Method: Sprinkle rice in buttered baking dish. Cook onions in butter until soft. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour over rice and stir. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork before serving.
LAMB AND ARTICHOKE STEW
by Annette Anderson
Annette Anderson is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Cleveland and a member of the NFB of Ohio Board of Directors. Her two teenage boys recommend this recipe highly.
2 pounds lamb stewing meat,
cut in bite-size pieces & trimmed of fat
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 cups onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cans artichoke hearts, drained
½ teaspoon dill weed
salt and pepper to taste
Method: In a heavy skillet brown lamb in butter and remove. Saute the onions, garlic, and parsley. Then return the lamb to the pan. Add the tomato paste and white wine. Cover and simmer for one hour or until meat is tender. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes. Serve over rice. Serves four to six.
The Sacramento Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of California is fortunate enough to have as one of its members Mrs. Hazel tenBroek. Another of its members is Sharon Gold, the energetic President of the National Federation of the Blind of California. The chapter's President, capable and active, is Linda Milliner. It also has other dedicated members and leaders. The result is a chapter from which all of us can learn. Consider, for instance, the chapter's monthly newsletter, which contains (among other things) an NFB trivia quiz, the answers to which will be given at the upcoming monthly chapter meetings, thus heightening interest and stimulating attendance. Here is the trivia quiz for September, 1990. Although this particular quiz requires a knowledge of organizational activities in California, the questions usually have a broad national slant and can be answered by research in the Monitor:
1. When and where was the first meeting of the organization which became the California affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind?
2. Who was the first president of this organization?
3. Who was the vice president?
4. Who was the secretary?
5. Who was the treasurer?
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
For SaleVisualtek Miniview MV-I. New condition. Contact:
Lynn Mattioli, 455 Cider Press Road, Easton, Pennsylvania 18042; phone: (215) 253-8446.
Ruth Swenson, President of our Arizona affiliate, writes as follows:
"The Yuma Chapter, National Federation of the Blind of Arizona, came into being on Saturday, June 9, 1990. It takes a hardy and dedicated group of Federationists to participate on an organizing team in Yuma, Arizona, in June, but we were there! When part of the team arrived on Monday, June 4, it was 117 degrees, and it didn't cool down much throughout the week. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done in the Yuma area to improve conditions for the blind. It almost seems as if State Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired has forgotten that this area of the state exists at all. However, we established a great new chapter, which will help to change what it means to be blind in Arizona. There were twenty-four members at the organizing meeting, and there are many other individuals in the area who will join and participate. The officers of the new chapter are: David Montgomery, President; Susanne Canole, Vice President; Catherine Courtney, Secretary-Treasurer; and Board Members Alma Gonzalez and Michael Hamm. Welcome aboard, Yuma!"
Larry and Susan Povinelli are active Federationists in Virginia. We recently received the following letter from them:
"I am writing to inform you that Michelle Elise arrived at 9:35 a.m. on July 25, 1990. She weighed seven pounds and eight ounces and was twenty inches long. Mother and Michelle are doing fine. As for Stephanie, she is still trying to adjust to the idea of a new sister. Otherwise, all is well with the Povinellis."
Jean Harmon reports from Florida the death of Sam Sitt, active Federationist for twenty or more years, on Saturday morning, August 18, 1990, from complications of diabetes and stroke. Sam was born in Syria and came to this country as a child. He attained leadership in the Florida affiliate, holding statewide office as well as the presidency of the Treasure Coast Chapter. Federationists will also, of course, remember fondly his late wife Gertrude and the contributions the two of them made to our movement. Sam was active in his community, serving in the Florida Silver-Haired Legislature, Lions Club, and other community groups. He will truly be missed by his fellow Federationists, family, and friends.
**Attention Dog Guide Users:
Priscilla Ferris, Vice President of the National Association of Dog Guide Users, writes as follows:
To: Interested Dog Guide Users and Friends
From: National Association of Dog Guide Users
Re: Membership and our Newsletter Harness Up
Date: August 5, 1990
During our division meeting of the National Association of Dog Guide Users (NADGU) in Dallas, Texas, it was voted that a membership in our division would entitle a member to Harness Up at no extra charge.
We are mailing copies of our last issue to those who are paid up to date with their membership. If you are receiving Harness Up and are not a member in good standing, please do send your check for $5 payable to: NADGUJim Moynihan, Treasurer, 56 North Main Street, Room 202, Fall River, Massachusetts 02720. Your copy of the newsletter will be mailed to you promptly.
Editor of our Harness Up newsletter is Bill Isaacs, Post Office Box 332, Bourbonnais, Illinois 60914. If you have items of interest, articles, or something you have to share with other dog guide users, please send them along to him. Our next issue will be ready for December.
Also, if you are having problems or have questions concerning dog guides, please do not hesitate to contact Robert Eschbach (president of our division) at 4890 Sharon Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43214; or Priscilla Ferris (our division vice president) at 56 North Main Street, Room 202, Fall River, Massachusetts 02720.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"Will tutor and advise: Word processing, data base management, and technical programs such as: Word Perfect, D-Base, Foxbase, Lotus, etc. Contact: Jose P. Resendes, 2785 Westonridge Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45239; phone: (513) 541-7374; FAX: (513) 541-8710."
We recently received the following announcement from John and Carol Smith of Centralia, Missouri: It's A Boy! Name: Nathan Philip Smith; Born: August 23, 1990, at 1:05 p.m.; Weight: seven pounds, ten ounces; Length: twenty inches. Loved by John, Carol, and Melody Smith.
Tim Cranmer, Chairman of the NFB Committee on Research and Development, writes as follows:
US Sprint offers Braille phone cards along with Braille instructions for their use. Using a phone charge card can place a heavy demand on your memory. In addition to the area code and phone number you are calling, you may have to dial as many as twenty-five digits. With the US Sprint card, the numbers you need to access the service are embossed in Braille right along with the print information. Whether you use Sprint at home or not, you can get the Braille phone card by requesting it. Dial 1 (800) 877-4646.
**Friends of Friends of the Library:
Karen Mayry, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota, writes as follows:
Are you familiar with the organization "Friends of the Library"? Most public libraries have a group which strives to aid local public libraries in several ways. "Friends of the Library" in Rapid City, South Dakota, assist by purchasing books for the library that their budget might not include. As a result of our contacting "Friends," our local library will have in its collection our two recent publications, Walking Alone and Marching Together and Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students. It is helpful, of course, if a member has been personally involved with "Friends of the Library." The individuals responsible for book selection are more willing to purchase the books we recommend if they are familiar with us and the work of the National Federation of the Blind.
The public library in Rapid City includes five NFB publications: A Resource Guide for Parents and Educators of Blind Children, Your School Includes a Blind Child, Handbook for Blind College Students, Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students, and Walking Alone and Marching Together. We are planning to encourage other libraries across the state to purchase our last two as well. Most libraries already have the first three in their collections. In addition, we will contact the special education department of public schools, universities, and colleges to join in the purchase of them.
Dan Boyd, Director of the South Dakota Library for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, has agreed to include A Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students and Walking Alone and Marching Together in our state library collection.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"Would like to purchase VersaBraille II+ in good condition complete with manual and case. Willing to pay $4,300 or lowest bid. Contact in Braille or print: Casey Cook, 1612 Dover Street, Oxnard, California 93030; or phone (805) 647-4642."
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"For SaleArtic D'Light/Toshiba 1000 laptop computer with Artic Business Vision software and expanded memory. Also included are a number of blank 3-1/2 inch diskettes, carrying case, and an assortment of software packages, including Word Perfect 4.2, Artic Encore, Procomm, Names 3.01, and a variety of Shareware games and other programs. Asking $1,700. Please write in Braille, on tape, or in print to: Stanley Greenberg, Westside Center for Independent Living, 12901 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90066; or call (213) 390-3611 between 9:00 and 5:00 Los Angeles time or (213) 390-6846 evenings and weekends."
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Portrait of Gus Gisser.]
Rami Rabby, President of the New York City Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New York, writes as follows:
I am very sorry to have to tell you that Gus Gisser, a long-time deaf-blind member of the NFB from our chapter, died on the night of Thursday, August 2. Gus had attended our convention in Dallas and, as usual, particularly enjoyed his contact with the children at the convention. Gus had literally hundreds of pen pals, both in and out of the Federation. We shall miss him greatly.
We have been asked to carry the following letter:
Dear Fellow Federationists:
I work for a bank in Montana, and I am collecting information about banking services which are accessible to the blind. I am looking for information about which banks provide services to blind people and what these services are. Please send information about Braille bank statements, automatic teller machines, names of companies that provide check blanks with a section for Braille memos, or any other services about which you have information. I invite any reader who can send me information to contact me at the following address: Linda Z. Hurlock, 3116 8th Avenue, North, Billings, Montana, 59101.
We recently received the following news release from the American Thermoform Corporation:
For Immediate Release
ATC Now Distributes Pixelmaster for Howtek, Inc.
The American Thermoform Corporation (ATC) now offers an innovative computer printer which not only produces Braille and print, but can also produce graphic images raised sufficiently to be read by blind persons. As a distributor for Howtek, developers of the Pixelmaster, ATC sees this new printer as an ideal communication tool for sighted and blind sharing the same work environment, according to Gary S. Nunnelly, ATC president. The Pixelmaster printer uses plastic-based ink, which melts in the printer to a liquid but solidifies instantly when it hits the page, leaving a slightly raised dot, line, or other form. By jetting four images on top of each other, the form becomes readable to a visually impaired person. Standard personal computer graphics software can be used to create maps, graphs, and drawings.
"Because it prints alphanumeric characters along with Braille, the Pixelmaster is touted as a valuable communication tool between blind and sighted users," declared Nunnelly.
Additional information may be obtained by contacting ATC at 2311 Travers Avenue, City of Commerce, California 90040; phone (213) 723-9021; FAX (213) 728-8877.
Ted Young, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania, writes as follows:
The National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania wishes to announce that we still have fiftieth anniversary key rings for sale. The ring contains a plastic heart on which is printed the NFB logo with the words "NFB 50 years of progress." Inside the heart is written "You're the heart of our success." The key ring makes a great memento of our fiftieth anniversary, and some chapters have decided to give them to each new member during this year. Whether your chapter does this or sells them to members, they are great to have. Please send orders of $1.50 for one or two for $2.00 to: National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania, 464 Sylvania Avenue, Glenside, Pennsylvania 19038; or call (215) 572-7166 to discuss potential orders.
*Book of Poetry Available:
Mary McGinnis, who is a member of the NFB Writers Division, has asked us to carry the following announcement:
"Private Stories on Demand is a book of poetry that many women will identify withpoems about tenderness, anger, talking to yourself, and being a woman writer and a poet who wants to break free and take to the road. The book explores aspects of relationships that were convoluted and painful, as well as feelings about the attitudes of able-bodied people in our society. Cassette copies are $5 each. Order from: Moving Woman Press, 1000 Marquez Place, #A-2, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87051."
Cathy Jackson writes as follows: For SaleNew Pocket Braille in original factory carton. Full one-year warranty. Also includes extra memory module. Original price $993, asking price $500 or best offer (within thirty days). Call or write: Cathy Jackson, 1107 Beecher Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40215; phone (502) 366-2317.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Tapes of Jewish Interest are Available to the Blind and HandicappedA Directory of organizations providing tapes of Jewish interest is now available free of charge to the visually impaired and handicapped. Many of these tapes are provided on loan at no cost and others are available at discount rates. If you are interested in Torah studies, Jewish history, Israel, the Holocaust, etc. write for a free copy of the Directory. Contact:
The Jewish Heritage for the Blind, 1655 East 24th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11229.
The following press release, which was issued jointly in October of 1987 by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and the National Federation of the Blind, first appeared as a Monitor Miniature in the October-November, 1987, Braille Monitor. With the addendum (which was not part of the original release) it appeared again as a Monitor Miniature in the May-June, 1988, Braille Monitor. As a reminder to some and as new information to others, we reprint it again:
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) announce the availability of the first ever mass-produced Braille edition of John Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
Blind writers, students, and other interested readers now have access to this important reference tool, which lists more than 22,500 quotations, sayings, and writings of English and American authors. A detailed index serves as a key to locating and identifying passages in the book.
Braille production of Bartlett's is a joint effort of NLS and NFB with the permission of Little, Brown, and Company, the print edition publisher. Gift funds from the estate of Leonard R. Stachura were used to purchase the metal plates needed to produce the 105-volume set.
NLS has distributed copies for reference use in forty-three cooperating Braille lending libraries around the country. NFB is offering the set at cost in soft-bound and hard-bound editions. Individuals and schools or other organizations may purchase the soft-bound edition for $230 and the hard-bound edition for $630 directly from NFB at: 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.
Addendum: The soft-bound edition requires thirteen feet, two inches (158 inches) of shelf space, and the hard-bound edition requires seventeen feet, six inches (210 inches) of shelf space.
From the Editor: Sometimes when we make a mistake, I explain it away or at least partially worm out of it. The present case is not such an instance. In the July, 1990, Monitor we carried recipes by Gintautus Burbawho, I alleged, was deaf-blind. Where I got the idea, I don't knowbut I have had it for a long time and have, I am sure, spread it far and wide, not quite to the utmost parts of the earth but maybe very nearly. At any rate I received the following letter from Mr. Burba shortly after the publication of the July issue:
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
Thank you very much for publishing the recipes that I submitted for the Recipes column. I read that I am deaf-blind. This is not so! I'm not deaf at all! Please make a note of this in the next edition of the Braille Monitor. I hope that the readers of the magazine will enjoy the recipes.
So says Gintautus Burbaand the Monitor Editor says: "Mr.
Burba, I extend my apologies."
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
For SaleAn IBM PS2 computer model 8530-002. Included is a Speaqualizer, a DOS disk, a monochrome monitor, and two 3-1/2 inch floppy disk drives. The computer has 640K of memory. Asking price $1,800. Contact: Julia Cordova at (505) 275-1382.
From the Associate Editor: We recently learned with sorrow that Ann Parker of Norfolk, Virginia, wife of Bill Parker, died July 17, 1990, of liver failure. Annie was a loyal and dedicated Federationist, who worked hard at Bill's side to further the work of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia and the Diabetics Division. All of us who knew Annie will miss her, and we extend to Bill our sincere condolence.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Judy Jones, 8019 South Alaska, Tacoma, Washington 98408; phone: (206) 535-4628, Brailles or tapes materials concerning breast feeding and child care; loans material for up to two months; gives priority to moms and dads.
**An Item of Interest:
The following article appeared in the May 16, 1990, Newsday:
For Blind Boxer, Protection Law is Anything But
After holding the junior welterweight title for five years, boxer Aaron Pryor, 34, lost it in 1985. Today he's three months out of a drug rehabilitation program, all but blind in one eye and returning to the ring today.
He needed surgery to repair a detached retina and now has cataracts in the left eye. His license is suspended in New York, and New Jersey rejected his application for one. But the state of Wisconsin considers him fit to fightnot despite his handicap but because of it.
Wisconsin does not have a boxing commission, which would have the power to set specific, stringent standards for prizefighters. In their absence, Wisconsin's strong anti-discrimination law was cited when Pryor applied for a boxing license. Because of the eye, he's considered handicapped. Because of the handicap, the state's Department of Licensing and Regulation can't discriminate against him. So he qualifies for a boxing license precisely because his vision's impaired. Presumably, if he took a drubbing sufficiently fierce to destroy the vision in the other eye, he'd have an even stronger claim to a license.
That logic is obviously flawed. Wisconsin needs a new boxing commission. The original commission was abolished 10 years ago. It wasn't needed. Promoters refused to do business in the state because of a 10 percent tax on fight proceeds. But in 1988 that tax was repealed and now fights are beginning again to find their way to the cities of Wisconsin. The state needs a commission and a set of licensing standards designed specifically for prizefightingand it needs those standards before the Department of Licensing and Regulation is asked to rule on the use of seeing eye dogs in the ring.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"The updated World Series Baseball and Information System, already being used by blind owners of PC computers and clones in 25 states and two foreign counties, can still be purchased for only $15. It comes on two 5-1/4 inch discs containing two baseball games, 68 of the best teams of all time, and two All-Star teams. Also included: programs listing all members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, a listing of record holders (top batting averages, etc), a listing of the top 50 teams of all time, and a history of the World Series. Send $15 to Harry H. Hollingsworth, 692 South Sheraton Drive, Akron, Ohio 44319; or call (216) 644-2421."
**Books and Materials Needed:
We have been asked by Joyce Stiff of Tennessee to carry the following announcement: "Large print books, Christian novels, other Christian books, and music on cassette tapes are needed for a prison library and community bookmobile. We also need a keyboard and a Braille writer for use in the ministry by a blind missionary. Contact: Joyce Stiff, Green Pastures Fellowship, Route 5, Box 215, Savannah, Tennessee 38372; or call (901) 925-5108."
**International Pen Pals:
Ronda Del Boccio of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB) sent the following notice:
Would you like to have a pen pal from another country? Do you read and write Braille? The National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB) is pleased to announce our newly forming international pen pals club.
Ronda Del Boccio from Minnesota is the project coordinator. She will match people from the United States with people from other countries. She is compiling a mailing list, so tell your friends about this opportunity to promote Braille literacy and make friends around the world.
The goals for this project are to promote Braille literacy, to enhance international relations and understanding, and to have fun and meet interesting people.
If you would like to participate, please contact Ronda at 2321 Aldrich Ave. South, Apt. 318, Minneapolis, MN 55405, (612) 377-8052. If you use a form other than or in addition to American Braille, please let her know. Since this is a new project, ideas for helping the process run smoothly and possible sources of names are welcome.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
For SaleOptacon, Model D in excellent condition, complete. Shipped in original box. $1,000 or best offer. Call or write: Sandra Ryan, 5117 Schubert, Ames, Iowa 50010; (515) 292-2328. Inquire before sending money.
**Watkins Catalogue Now Available on Tape:
Larry Sebranek, an active member of the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin, asks that we announce the following:
"Watkins quality products catalogues are now available on cassette for gifts or personal family and home care products. Send $1 to: Larry Sebranek, 1612 Winnebago Street, LaCrosse, Wisconsin 54601."
Braille Blazer paper is available from the National Federation of the Blind Materials Center for $25 for 1,100 sheets. This is standard 100-pound Braille paper that is 8-1/2 by 11 inches after tractor feed perforations are removed.
**From the Mouths of Babes:
The following item was sent to us by the Toledo Federation of the Blind, a chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio.
After school break, the teacher asked her small pupils how they spent their holiday. One little boy's reply went like this:
"We always spend Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live up here in a big brick house, but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Florida. Now they live in a park with a lot of other retarded people. They live in tin huts. They ride tricycles that are too big for me. They all go to a building they call the wrecked hall, but it is fixed now. They all do exercises but not very well. They play a game with big checkers and push them around on the floor with sticks. There is a swimming pool, but I guess nobody teaches them; because they just stand there in the water with their hats on. My Grandma used to bake cookies for me, but nobody cooks there. They all go to restaurants that are fast and have discounts. When you come into the part, there is a doll house with a man sitting in it. He watches all day so they can't get out without him seeing. I guess everybody forgets who they are because they all wear badges with their names on them. Grandma says that Grandpa worked hard all his life to his retardment. I wish they would move back home, but I guess the man in the doll house won't let them out."